Elsewhere Tales

Use this forum for any in-game stuff such as stories, journal entries, or in-character discussion.

Postby Cailin » May 10th, 2010, 9:47 am

This is a good place for anything that isn't PC specific, such as side stories or elsewhere tales. Might be a good spot to learn about the adventures of a certain Tiefling/Dragonborn duo?
TK Player
Posts: 794
Joined: February 2nd, 2010, 7:34 pm
Character Name: Arora

The White Rods of Refuge

Postby Cailin » May 10th, 2010, 9:50 am

The air in Refuge is rank with the stink of burning flesh. There is a sicking pop-sizzle sound as a white-hot metal rod is plunged onto the palm of a screaming woman, tears flowing down her cheeks as she writhes in the grip of the Maidens who watch impassively in their dark hoods. It is agony unlike any she has ever known, sharpened with such keenness as to be unnatural and yet where normally she would have fallen unconscious she remains woefully awake and aware as the pain envelops her, becomes her. The Ridenbreath herb has amplified this suffering beyond the normal human limits, and as she begs for death the woman feels no blissful numbness, no envelope of cold death, only more pain. Endless pain.

And still the maidens are holding her upright, watching her spasm and jerk, screaming intelligible gibberish as the brand and the poison do their work. Truly Loviatar is blessing this one greatly. She is envied.

Finally all the heat has been extinguished in the rod, and as they pull it from her hand bits of flesh cling to it, burned on in crispy dark patches. She cries and shudders when she sees it. The wound is neither treated nor wrapped, and the Disciples of the White Rod release the woman into the streets. She stumbles away, clutching her hand which bares the mark of a nine-stranded barbed whip. She is too poor to afford proper healing, it will scar badly and will always ache. But she is alive, at least. The bread and soup will allow her to survive another day. And life in Refuge goes on.
TK Player
Posts: 794
Joined: February 2nd, 2010, 7:34 pm
Character Name: Arora

The Road to Rastor

Postby Eric Holland » May 20th, 2010, 2:45 pm

One of the first role playing threads we did over a year ago, this is dialogue between characters on the road to Rastor. Rastor was a rural settlement on the outskirts of the fortress of the Cult of the Elder Elemental Eye.

Aurum to Arora:
"Arora. I have been meaning to ask you about your time in the military. What sort of organization did you pertain to? What was its purpose? I find myself sometimes thinking about the important balance between experience and education. My time spent at the academy was crucial for developing some of my talents and giving direction to my energies. I find the longer I spend away from it I feel a growing sense of loss at the instruction I am missing...perhaps the reason I am here on this journey is an example of my lack of instruction...But for you, often people of divine faith spend time cultivating it in an institutional setting. Between military and religion you can find yourself taking a lot of orders. How was that for you?"

Deomin to Melek:
"Every time we get into a scuffle I feel the heat of your fires burning. Naturally fire itself has a passion and wildness in it, I can’t help but get the impression that there is a little of yourself in the inferno. Without exception when I swing a blade or let loose an arrow there is feeling behind it. More often than not the meaning escapes me, but my aggression is a part of me that I am aware of. I connect with you easily Melek. I’ve noticed that we both strike out in the name of survival. In the past staying alive was the only end but recently I feel the possibility of a future, something beyond the moment. Feelings like these make the ethical debates of scholars like Aurum or zealots like Aurora seem silly and unnecessary. Why do they drown the motivation in their lives and actions with all the preaching and rhetoric? Tell me Melek...where does the fuel for your fires come from?

Aurum to Arath:
"...The level of intricacy and precision required is maddening! I’m not one to shirk studying Arath but seeing you sit here hour after hour in this cart makes me thing you are more machine than man. With all the calculation required to master a spell where do you find outlets for other sides of life? Tests of physical strength? The passion for battle!...or other, less hostile activities. I’ve been practicing some of the shielding incantations. My articulations of the commands seem decent, but my gestures are clumsy and uncoordinated. Even so, I sense some unseen source of power being persuaded in by behalf."

Arath to Aurum:
"But Aurum, the study of magic is my outlet! The pursuit of physical superiority has never been something that interested me, for even the strongest Orc is no match for the unbelievable might of the arcane! The swiftest man will never outrun an arc of lightning, nor will the stealthiest thief ever be more silent than a powerful silence ritual or spell of invisibility! As for any other activities you may be hinting at... there is plenty of time for that later! You Dragonborn are much like the humans; so eager to do everything all at once. Perhaps it is related to your short lifespans. I imagine even I may be the same way if I knew I had less than a century left in life. But I will be around far longer than that! In a couple hundred years when I have become satisfied with all of my studies, perhaps then I will explore the other pleasures life has to offer. Until that time my books are all I need!" (Despite his confident attitude, you can't help but get the sense that there is less truth in his words than he'd like you to believe.) "Besides, I doubt there are better pleasures in this world than the satisfaction of summoning the raw elements to do your bidding. Calling down a column of fire from the dungeon ceiling to torch a vile goblin makes all of the time studying worth it! You said it yourself; you can feel the power beginning to move for you! The power is why we do this, is it not? It is magnificent! Even if you do not see it yet, I have no doubt that you will soon see what I mean. Keep up your studies and you will see..."

Arora to Aurum:
“Do you know of Estagund, Aurum? I imagine one as learned as yourself might have gathered some of the politics and geography of the place in your studies. In Estagund I was granted a position in the temple guard at the temple of Erathis, and in such a place as Estagund there is no shortage of devoted followers worshiping qualities which Erathis of course imbues. Estagund, of course, is a monarchy ruled by Rajah Jasraj Seltrarir and it was my hope that one day I may earn some placement within the Maquar… nevermind that though. Most of my experience outside the temple was that of Honor Guard, mostly unofficial business and escort of priestesses and dignitaries to various functions and activities. Hardly exciting but spiritually enriching to see such people do the good work of Erathis before my eyes. Inspiring. I miss that most of all, I must admit and I am sometimes a poor reflection of the qualities I live by. Erathis asks much of her followers, but nothing more than any person should be willing to give. I suppose this is the difference between the Academy and the Temple, learning is of course important in both but I am not subject to the blind commands of any mortal. In the end it is only Erathis who may order my hand or move my feet. I do this for the people of course but people worry about so many things, they are easily distracted by self-serving gluttony and ego. I suppose the short way of putting it is that I take orders from my heart and my heart alone which is guided by Erathis. As long as I am in good company I am never far too far from her to bear."

Aurum to Arath:
Power... I wonder what power I really have. Power to have an impact? Certainly. I rarely have concerns that I will be unable to accomplish my goals. The meaning of this impact is what often troubles me. Until the loss of my closest friends I felt like my accomplishments were all defining events in my life and others. The attention I received as I matured and excelled at my duties in Lurar, my homeland, meant the world to me. I felt that my help was equally important to those that I served. I crossed half of Toril with a caravan as lead guardsman overcoming fatigue, attack, and the elements to arrive safely at my academy and deliver supplies that were crucial to its structure. As I rose in the ranks and challenged the intellectual ideas and school policies that governed my new home I felt like I was rendering a tremendous service to my community. All that changed when I lost ones that I couldn’t save. Things completely external to me have instantly drained the meaning from anything that I have done. I feel now that all my "accomplishments" were much more about my development than really helping anyone in a significant way. What’s more, after losing meaning without any means to stop it, it seems to be entering once again without any action of my own. My time with our little troop has been...an education in itself. glancing at his badge "Honored ones?"...It has been an honor.

Deomin to Arora:
As the troop begins to rest Deomin finds a moment to come crouch by Arora. The dwarf is on her knees with a hammer trying to bang out some of the latest dents in her armor.

You change as quickly and markedly as the seasons dwar...er...Arora. I rarely understand the nature and severity of your objections to...well just about everything. My life has only found solace from terrible experiences and emotions by avoiding the things you are bent on promoting. Nonetheless, there are as they say more ways than one to skin a cat... under his breath terrible expression. No, what I mean is that despite our different origins and, (though we may die first) different destinations, you are one of the bravest people I have ever met. From what I have seen you don’t face down evil monsters for glory of your own, yet as you swim through tentacles and knock back dragon claws I’ve seen nothing waver in your resolve to stand and fight. Enjoy a well deserved rest. You are never far from home, roof or not.

As he leaves, Arora notices on the ground that he has left for her a room key from the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Clearly the rogue pinched it when they last left. Despite this It is comforting for her to see a small token of civilization so far from her home as she readies herself to go to sleep in a dragons cave.
Eric Holland
TK Player
Posts: 487
Joined: February 7th, 2010, 2:00 pm
Character Name: Deomin

The Lorekeeper's Visions

Postby Cailin » June 1st, 2010, 8:55 am

The Helm of the Champion
(Found: Taken from the body of the defeated Red Champion in Ikemmu)

The vision begins in a hazy realm of thick smoke and choking darkness. The sensation is suffocating and constricting despite the lack of any distinct environment around you. The distant thrum of rushing blood hums in the air, seeming to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once. Slowly new sounds emerge: distant, faint murmuring, and one voice in particular ringing above them with startling clarity. Arath.

“Stand back, fools!”

Light slowly floods your vision as you find yourselves without a form of your own to cling to. Instead you stare straight up at a dark marbled ceiling through the narrow slits of a red-steel helmet. You feel the hard table beneath you, the chill of it, and the slowly returning tingle of life in your limbs. You take a slow breath; lungs aching, throat burning.

“He is waking, headmaster.” You’re unable to turn your head to follow the voice, forced instead to stare helplessly upward into the shadows above. Arath’s face suddenly leans over, observing you. He smiles coldly with a glimmer of triumph in his eyes.

“I told you I wouldn’t let your abilities go to waste.”

“Ar...Arath?” The choked, dry voice barely barks out a whisper to which Arath sneers.

“Memory still intact then?” His eyes narrow and darken slightly. “But tell me Baydin, does your short-sighted idealism remain as well?”

Any attempt to move is met with stubborn failure. Arath smirks and wags a finger in admonishment.

Another ragged breath is sucked in. “What... have you... done?”

Arath lets out a small tsk, “Such ingratitude. And after I spent all that effort bringing you back from the dead. Well...” He smiles to himself, “almost back. You’ve been dead for a long while.”

Baydin’s voice, your voice, regains some of its strength as you feel the anger surge within him. “You’ve wasted your time. I won’t help you.”

“Oh, but you will, Baydin. One way or another.”

You are brought to a sitting position by a small gesture from Arath, and a bolt of terror causes an involuntary shudder crawling down your spine.

There on the opposite side of the room sits the great dark throne, hewn from the stone of the void, carving into the weave like a great arcane claw. The power rolling off of it is enough to turn your stomach and cause your blood to run cold. He has it. Somehow he has gotten a hold of the Imaskarcana. Arath notices the widening eyes of Baydin and chuckles.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of my friend. Your Imaskari ancestors were quite adept at their art. It’s almost a shame they lost so much to their misguided desires.”

As he speaks, Arath moves to the throne and sits upon it as naturally and easily as if it were made for him alone. Soft smooth grooves in the armrests allow his fingers to splay and dip into small arcane pools of energy, flowing up his veins with an eerie purple hue. Several dozen Imaskari men and women pour in from all corners of the room, their faces blank and passive.

“Come here.”

The command is simple and profound. It seeps deeply through your bones and into the marrow, it crackles like lightning in your mind, singing in your blood. It sweeps your legs over the table, moving your limbs like an obedient puppet. All the while empty eyes watch with nary so much as a stray twitch.

You stand before the throne, body frozen, mind screaming and railing against what you have become. The line between Baydin’s mind and your own is becoming increasingly blurred. His pain is your own. His suffering is yours. His helplessness and despair rise up in you as if they were your own feelings. He wishes to die, and now...so do you.

But death is clearly not what Arath has in mind. The dreaded promise in his gaze all but guarantees that.


His voice resonates throughout the entire room as if a god has spoken. Wordlessly every Imaskari thumps to their knees in unison, including you.

Arcane power is beginning to leech out of every mind in the room, drawn towards the throne as you knew it would be. Arath’s fingers shudder slightly, his face falling into a pained expression before regaining his composure.

“You should have trusted me, Baydin. I never wanted this...” His voice fades as though he had never spoken the words aloud.

“The crown can only have one master.” His long-fingered hand stretches toward you, and you can feel the tendrils of energy seeping into your mind. “But you will not be wasted.”

You expect pain, but there is only a vaguely pleasant numbness. It folds over your mind with soft waves, washing away something that may have once been fear. Doubt becomes foreign and strange, pride and willfulness fade like a waking dream. Your name withers on your tongue with a soft, strangled cry, replaced with another name: Master. You look up at Arath, as if newly aware of his undeniable presence.

There is no past. You make no notice of the several Imaskari who have dropped dead at the foot of the throne, nor do you acknowledge the trickle of blood running from your nostril, feeding the tang of iron on your lips. You lower your head in a deep bow, and whatever will you still cling to evaporates as the brow of the helmet makes contact with the cold marble floor.

The next voice you hear is your own, though it resonates darkly and sounds oddly foreign.

“I am yours to command, Master.”

With a cold rush you are pulled with violent force backwards out of the vision, coming into your own body with a violent gasping breath. Strangely, Baydin’s memories linger, his desperation resonating in the thunder of your own heartbeat.

The Violin
(Found: In the dwelling of Arath's Red Champion, in Ikemmu)

Darkness permeates and invades your senses, leaving you disoriented and off kilter when the vision establishes itself. Arath’s form sits on a throne draped in the garb of a fiery archmage with his head bowed as if staring at the floor. His shoulders are hunched, his hand grips the arm of the throne with ferocious vigor while the other holds the violin with relaxed, delicate fingers.

“I imagine you think yourselves rather clever.” His voice is heavy and laced with venom, though from what you can tell the room is starkly empty. “Had you not proven yourselves such a...persistent nuisance, I could have ignored you. I could have spared you. But you just, kept PUSHING ME!” He looks up in your direction and in that soul-shaking, chilling gaze you realize with sudden horror that he is looking directly in your eyes.

“Skyclave, The Temple, Ulgarth... I had wondered how you managed to follow me with such... uncanny precision. And then Ikemmu... and the answer was so clear it had been staring me in the face and I hadn’t realized it! You clever demons.” Arath stands, and though he moves forward freely, you find yourselves unable to move a single muscle. He moves to stand just short of arms-length, staring at you.

“But you underestimated me, too, didn’t you. I wonder if you even thought for a moment how convenient it was that my champion had left you such a tempting item to scry upon.” He grins, but there is clearly no pleasure behind the possibly habitual motion. “And now here you are, and I will remove your little spying druid from my concerns. I will cut the strings of your puppet and be free of your meddling once and for all!”

Now it becomes clear that this vision, though at first convincing, is artificial. The cavernous expanse of Arath’s creation trembles and shakes more and more, until the very ground beneath your feet begins to crack and split, revealing vivid red light in all directions as the illusion crumbles around your frozen forms. Massive slabs of stone break apart from each-other, adrift on a sea of magma the boils and churns as you each drift further and further on your own island. The walls of the abyss break apart around you, plunging into the molten rock sending fiery sprays of burning debris at all of you as one colossal chunk of obsidian hurdles directly towards your small cluster. As the impact strikes the lava your vision cuts to darkness as you tumble backwards onto soft, cool grass. The heat of the lava still lingering on your skin as Arath’s laughter rings in your ears.

When you look to Kalla you find him laying still on his back with his eyes fixed open, wide and staring up at nothing. Empty. The violin has fallen out of his grasp and lays a few feet from him. Upon closer inspection you see Kalla’s chest still rising and falling with long shallow breaths, yet you sense no cognitive functioning, as if whatever essence of his mind has been severed from his body.

The Scroll Case
(Found: On the body of Sairca, the succubus of Neverwinter)

The scene opens somewhere in a dark wood at night. There is a small camp in a clearing, with a cloaked figure warming his hands by a softly glowing magical fire.

From just outside the circle of firelight, you can see that he is not alone. Three men are creeping steadily towards the camp, behind the figure. They move like wolves, silent and methodical. You catch the glimmer of daggers unsheathed, their eyes cast conspiratorial glances to one another, looking hungrily at the lone figure’s traveling pack.

With slow, deliberate footsteps they edge closer to the cloaked individual, who stops rubbing his hands by the fire. They freeze like rabbits. The crickets have stopped. The thieves raise their daggers, ready to leap upon the hapless traveler. Slowly, he stands and pushes the hood back over his shoulders. Pointed ears and pale platinum-colored hair are revealed, and as he turns you see Arath give the men a long stare, eyebrow raised slightly as he evaluates their weaponry.

“Just thieves?” He says, his voice heavy with boredom, “how disappointing. I was hoping for werewolves!”

“Get him!” The leader shouts, as his two companions dart forward at the seemingly unarmed eladrin. With a pained shriek and flash of light you see the campfire leap from its hearth and immediately engulf the first two, setting them ablaze as if they were made of dry tinder.

The third thief warily hefts his bag of stolen goods higher on his shoulder and scowls. “Damn wizards!” He snarls, throwing the knife at Arath’s head. The eladrin tilts his head gingerly to one side as the knife sails over his shoulder, and smiles.

“My turn!”

Before the thief can turn and run the fireball erupts from Arath’s palm, exploding in the man’s face as he howls, collapsing on the ground.

Arath nudges the body delicately with one toe, the charred remains already dissolving into black soot. He seems somewhat unsatisfied as he looks down at what is left of the thief, until you see something change in his eyes. Hurriedly, Arath stoops down and examines the thief’s pack. Gingerly he extracts an elegantly tooled leather scroll case; which you distinctly remember as the one you have just come into possession of.

Arath conjures a light source as he frees the scroll from its case and unrolls it. His smile widens.

Suddenly, everything begins to dissolve before your eyes. Trees melt into the ground which quickly changes to grassland, a path snaking into the distance where none was before, flowers and small shrubs dot the landscape. It is mid-noon, and warm. Arath is nowhere to be seen.

In the distance you see a flurry of dust erupting from the horizon, as a portly bearded man in a heavily laden cart rockets over the rolling landscape. Three riders with bows follow in hot pursuit, and finally the panic-stricken man falls forward as an arrow pierces his chest. The cart comes to a stop in a ditch, and the masked men begin unceremoniously rifling through the contents of the wagon.

“Nice! This sap was loaded!” One man is already shoving the body off the cart into the ditch, pocketing the hefty coin purse. The other pokes his head from around the cart holding an artfully decorated scroll case.
“Looks like he had some magical goods! And he enchanted this thing shut! Must be worth something then, eh?” They mutter amongst themselves gleefully as they split the bounty between them, the case being slipped into the pack of the largest of the three. You hear distant thunder, but curiously see no clouds.

A flash of lightning and thunder rings in your ears and blinds you briefly, and when your vision returns to you, you are forced to adjust to the darkness of deep night, punctuated intermittently with flashes of lightning. A tall, thin man fights to light a lantern as he gazes down at something on a table. The scroll case lays open to the side, empty. He seems engrossed in the item in front of him, though somewhat puzzled. A knock at the door startles him with a shriek and he partially rolls the scroll closed as the knock comes again. Harder this time. He scowls a little, eyeing the parchment on the table tenderly before peeking out the door window. What he sees seems to calm him somewhat, and as the door opens a large rotund man with a grey beard steps into the room. No pleasantries are exchanged as his eyes focus immediately on the dimly lit desk.

“Is that it then?” He moves to reach for the scroll but the tall thin man blocks his way.

“Yes and it’s very fragile. I’d thank you not to grab at it so!” His voice is high and nasal, his movements frantic like a bird in a cage. “Do you really think there’s a way to break the cypher? I’ve been trying for days now and still haven’t-”

“I’ll take care of everything. You needn’t concern yourself with the details.”

“Needn’t concern myself!” The thin man squawks. “Don’t forget it was I who found it and I get credit!”

“Of course...” The large bearded man smiles softly, running his fingers along the edge of the desk. “Did you tell anyone about what you found? We wouldn’t want your work being... compromised.”

“No I didn’t tell anyone just like you said! I didn’t even write down any notes!” He taps his forehead for emphasis.

“Ah! Good. Very good.” The visitor smiles. “Would you mind packing it away now? We should leave as soon as possible.”

The thin one looks cross but turns, taking one final look at the scroll. “Alright, but we’d best stick to the back ro-” With deceptive speed the fat man has clamped a hand over the man’s mouth, bringing a curved silver blade across his neck with a swift motion. The now gurgling man falls backward into his attacker’s arms, who then lays him gently on the ground. The scroll is already partially rolled and he slips it into the case with ease, tipping the oil lamp over onto a stack of papers as he carefully steps over the body and into the roaring night storm, leaving the shack in flames.

A flash of lightning transports you to a road in the woods lit by the the dappled orange light of the setting sun. You see a small group of elves arguing off to the side in a elvish dialect you don’t recognize. They seem to be in a disagreement over something. Two elves in particular seem to be at the head of the argument, gesturing wildly and shouting at one another, disturbing the peace of the woods in a very un-elf-like fashion. What few words you can make out seem to be random. You can pick out the words “curse” and “gift” used repeatedly, followed by “destroy” and “fool” with growing emphasis. Finally the argument accelerates into violence as one elf draws his sword on the other, who drops the intricately decorated scroll case he had been holding. The other stalks toward him angrily, pointing the sword and gesturing with his other hand in dismissal. He picks up the case and throws it hard at him, shouting something you definitely recognize as profanity before walking away into the dense tree line. The other elf stands with a few of his remaining companions, and picks up the scroll case angrily. The vision follows him as he walks down to a place where a well worn road meets the forest, opening up to a well traveled human trade route. He throws the case down onto the road and sighs before turning back to follow his tribe. Moments later a tall thin man appears on his horse, and stops to inspect the strange object in the middle of the road.

A sudden flock of black crows burst across your view, disorienting you as you find the vision has changed again once they have vanished. An elf is walking along the treeline at twilight, stalking a doe which has already received one arrow to the haunch and is now leaving an easily traceable blood trail. He tracks it to a clearing well-lit by moonlight, the stars glimmer brightly above the snowy white deer that has fallen in the middle. The elf excitedly approaches the fallen creature, only to step back in surprise as he notices the inscribed case next to the deer. He picks it up, leaving the deer as he speeds back the way he came.

A flash of red light engulfs the clearing and you are now in an empty moonlit grove, where something appears to be burning. The curled grey paper glows at the edges, though instead of turning into a pile of ash, the paper appears to be increasing in size. Indeed as the ashen paper glows, it is unfurling and growing larger. Soon the grey turns the color of soft parchment, and ink has begun to bleed into strange twisting letters. The scroll is nearly fully unraveled by the time the scroll case seems to sprout from the ground, coiling itself around the scroll like a quickly growing malevolent plant. Just before it closes completely, you manage to catch a glimpse of the fully unrolled scroll.

A deer appears in the distance, bleeding heavily. It staggers and falls before the scroll as the life ebbs from its body. The scroll is completely encased now, and the last thing you see is a slender elven hand reaching for it as the scene plunges into darkness.

(Found: Saluz Keshali's Dungeon in Ulgarth)

In a flash of light you find yourselves in the midst of darkness and suffering as once again you are plunged into the dungeon of Steward Saluz Keshali. You watch as the figure of Keeper lays still and silent in his cell, battered and broken much as you had encountered him before, lit by a few smoldering torches. An elegant-looking man is standing just to the side of the cage, draped in regal silks and silver bands. There is no softness in his features, though he is quite old and as he turns the grey-haired man’s eyes strike you in their similarity to Arora’s; a deep cerulean blue. He regards the warforged with a cold, smug grin.

“I have good news Keeper, there is no longer any need for you to remain my guest any longer.”

Keeper blinks slowly with his one good eye, but says nothing. The Steward draws closer to the iron barred door, looking down at him serenely “Soon I will have everything I want, despite your infernal silence.” He kneels lower, gripping the bars gently. “I know where he is, Keeper. All your suffering has been for nothing.” He is rewarded with a pained groan from the prisoner, who appears to be slipping in and out of consciousness. Saluz smiles as he stands, gesturing curtly to one of the guards.

“Arrange for this... thing’s... execution. I would have him dismantled before my people, so that they may rejoice that further traitors are being brought to justice.” The guard nods, shooting Keeper a venomous glance. The Steward is obviously in very high spirits, such that he doesn’t even seem to notice the blood blooming on the edge of his elaborate silk robe as it softly brushes against the stone floor. In the doorway he turns to Keeper, backlit by the bright hallway and cast into dim shadow. “I do admit it was indeed clever to hide in Neverwinter. I would have not thought to look there, considering what it has become. But try not to look so despairing my metal friend! I promise if that dwarf of yours is found there as well I will happily send her to you!” He laughed, and vanished down the hall as Keeper’s vision faded once more into shadow.

The Lost Blade
(Found: At the Philosopher's Temple)

In a flash you are faced with the ringing slashing sound of metal on metal as two swords grate and clatter against each-other. The room is somewhat dim but it is easy to make out the room as some sort of ceremonial hall, walls covered in elaborately woven tapestries, marbled inlay floors and dark, mysterious runes painted on the floor that glow malevolently. The room is roughly octagonal in shape, and though the movements of the two combatants is blurred you can make out a ring observers, all cloaked in familiar flame-wrought robes. All watching in stoic, hollow silence.

The two forces have begun to surge with arcane power, their swords glowing faintly red as the air crackles with the magical energy they wield. Spells fly. The combatants break their clasping stance and adopt more ranged positions, circling each other with menace plain in their movements. It is obvious this is no simple sparring. Each intends to kill the other. One of the fighters stands tall, wide-shouldered and imposing. The bulk of him is covered in glistening deep red plate armor with glowing orange-red runes of flame, which only adds to his intimidating aura. His face is obscured behind a skull-like mask and hood rimmed in dark black lines, emblazoned on the forehead is the all too familiar open book you have come to recognize as Arath's personal signature. If there is a face beyond this mask it is impossible to tell as all behind the open eyes and nose sockets fade into otherworldly darkness.

A jet of orange flame bursts from the palm of one of the combatants, momentarily lighting the room in a hazy glow. The eyes of the crowd gleam with dark anticipation as the fire burst crackles and makes contact, searing the chest of the opponent. He stumbles back onto the floor, managing only a weak counter-spell that fizzles at the feet of the Other. Silence continues, punctuated only by the faint moans from the fallen fighter. The victor strides forward towards his opponent, placing a well-polished plate-covered boot on his still smoldering chest, forcing him down onto the cold floor with a harsh thud. You hear something crack, and the man stifles a cry of pain, ribs broken, a lung is punctured.

There is a pause, a tightening in the air of the room as Arath steps forward, clothed in the robes of an Archmage. He moves with a regal quality you have not come to expect from him, and as he walks you can sense his hold over those around him as an almost tangible, insidious draw. Still, they shrink away from him as he steps forward towards the two fighters. His face betrays neither disappointment nor pleasure, and he tilts his head slightly at the vanquished man laying on the ground as if he were some sort of interesting insect specimen.

"Finish him, he's useless to me now."

All around the lights flicker and the two fighters are cast in stark sillouhette as Arath watches them coldly. Both are silent as the twisted blade swiftly sinks deeply into the gut of the man who grits his teeth, biting back a gargled, agonizing groan.

As the now still body is dragged away Arath turns to the victor, who regards his master with unnatural stillness. "How goes the progress in Ulgarth?"

The Other shifts slightly, replying in a voice that sounds resonant and layered with an unearthly chill. "All is going according to plan, excepting of course for the missing Planeswalker-"

Arath snarls with obvious ire at the mention of the name, suddenly aglow with subtle rage. "If you manage to succeed in this, we will no longer need her. However, there is something else I would have you do."

The figure bows his head. "What would you wish of me, my lord?"

"You must go to Ikkamu, to the Shadar-Kai city. There is something there I need you to retrieve."

"Of course, my lord. With the steady supply of forces from High Imaskar it will be trivial to-"

"There will be no other forces, fool." Arath's tone is icy and impatient, talk of the Planeswalker has obviously put him in a foul mood. "Only you will go. I cannot risk drawing more attention to this. The Shadar-Kai will not give it up without good cause and I will not waste my time and energy forcing it from them. They will give it to us willingly, by the Right of Possession. They will not be able to deny your claim if you succeed. You will be my Champion at their little event, but you must go now and prepare, you only have until Greengrass, when the Ceremony begins."

"But my lord, what of Ulgarth-"

"Ulgarth is no longer your concern, and if we are succeeding there as well as you say, you are no longer needed for that particular assignment. You will go to Ikkamu. You will win that ridiculous contest of theirs and you will bring it back here! Who knows were we'll find another source of Sephenine? That artifact must be ours."

The man stands tall, and nods with finality. "Yes my lord. I will succeed." Arath waves his hand in dismissal and the figure turns away, tossing the sword to the ground where it clatters into a corner. The vision fades into darkness, leaving you with only the image of the large armored figure disappearing down a long, dark hallway, and the sounds of slow even steps on cold, polished marble.


The Wand
(Found: Arath's Shop in High Imaskar)

Unlike the first vision Kalla seems to have some trouble establishing the image. It jerks roughly into view then fizzles again, until finally as the haze clears you find yourself in Arath's shop once more.In stark contrast to how you first discovered it you find the shop is bustling with magical energy and activity as objects floating in mid air, arranging themselves on shelves, dusting other objects and causing the air to bristle with arcane energy. Despite this high level of activity the shop appears to be mostly empty, with only two men standing at a distance gesturing at each other and speaking with urgent, passionate tones.

"...but there's no other way! We've already checked and double checked the resources and there is simply no feasible way to focus that much magical energy without killing yourself in the process!"

The man speaking is in his early twenties, and runs his hands though his wild, sandy blonde hair in obvious frustration. The man he is speaking to shifts slightly under the shadows, and turns away, his face now partially visible. It is Arath. His features are set in anger and brooding frustration.

"You are incorrect, Baydin! There is the (suddenly the sound fizzles and pops, nothing but a buzzing sound reaches your ears)."

The man's eyes widen, then narrow furiously. "That's not funny, Arath. You know we already dismissed that option the moment you learned about it."

"I never joke. And things are different now. I had not expected the scrying to be so difficult. The wards are too powerful to locate! It's the only option at this point. We are running out of time."

Baydin slams his fist on the table between them, causing the baubles and trinkets to dance and scatter away onto other surfaces. "It's not an option at all! (the vision sputters and fizzles)... it's morally reprehensible. It's forbidden! It's-"

"Do not propose to tell me how to use magic! IF not for me you'd still be wasting your talents at the enchanter's stall!" Arath is shouting now and the shop stills eerily. "It has to be done! I will not let this slip away from me, not when there is so much to be gained! Can't you see that?"

Baydin is shrinking away from Arath, a tempest of anger and suffering plain in his features. "You never said anything about (again the vision sputters and fizzles)... I didn't agree to help you commit atrocities! You said it would be the greatest discovery of our time! But nothing is worth this horror you're considering!"

Arath isn't looking at Baydin anymore. He tilts his head slightly, slowing his breathing and gaining control of his emotions as little flames lick and spark at his fingertips. Without warning his hand lashes out, but not at Baydin. Instead they encircle the wrist of a young girl, (barely 8 years old), yanking her from behind the counter where she had been hiding. She shrieks as he pulls her into the light and peers at her.

"A thief! Sloppy. My own mistake of course... one I will not repeat." He says matter-of-factly, snatching the stolen apprentice-craft wand from her small, stubby fingers. The child is trembling, trying the wrench her arm free but there is nothing to free her from his grasp as he turns the stolen wand delicately in his fingers. The girl is crying now, begging to be let go, promising to never come back but Arath ignores her. He looks at Baydin who know wears a look of absolute horror and indignation.

"I... I cannot... I will not let you do this Arath! You're going too far!" He looks at the girl for a moment before adding, "And let the girl go! You got your wand back, she's of no threat to you!"

Arath shakes his head slowly, the door locking with a barely audibly whirring sound of magic. "I'm afraid that's not possible. If she were to tell anyone what she heard... I...I cannot let anything get in the way of this. Not even sentiment." He holds the struggling child at arms length and raises the wand, power coursing through it and making it shimmer with red light.

Baydin reaches for his own wand then, and you can see Arath's eyes shift slightly in his direction as he mutters something quietly under the chorus of the girl's cries and Baydin's shouting.

"Arath! This is murder! You can't do this!" He draws the wand and shakily points it at Arath. "You may have been my friend once but now I don't know what you are! So help me I am going to stop this madness one way or anoth-"

But the words are cut short as a terrible blast of arcane energy erupts from the floor where Baydin was standing, catching him completely off guard and knocking him against the wall, sending magical items flying in every direction, scattering across the floor and over their heads. Baydin lays groaning on the floor, clutching his chest as his heart clenches and skips, his body seizing up from trauma. Arath is frowning down at him, the child now still with fright in his grasp. He puts his palm to the mage's forehead and whispers something. Baydin's eyes flutter, and close as a single gasp of breath escapes him.

"Don't worry, I don't let your gifts go to waste." Arath whispers, "I have no alternative, you see." He then turns to the child shivering and shaking. He smooths the dirty, brown hair on her head as she trembles. His frown deepens into a sad grimace as he raises the stolen wand, pointing it directly at her forehead. "I'm sorry, Baydin."

A flash of light.

The vision shifts, and you now notice two large, brown eyes peering in through a small draft window close to the ground in an unnoticed corner of the shop. They are wide with terror, glistening with tears as the room becomes a blur of light and energy and he is clasping his hands over his ears. Unseen by Arath, the other Stig runs away, bolting from the shop quickly as if on the wings of birds.

The vision fades into mist once more before you find yourself once more standing before the druid who holds the plain-looking wand in clenched hands.


The Portal Rod
(Found: The Ancient Temple of Oghma)

The scene is that of a cluttered, paper strewn study laden with bits and baubles, broken staffs, wands and trinkets which litter the dimly lit room as a figure comes into view cradling something in his hand.

As the vision grows brighter Arath's form comes into focus, holding a delicately crafted and ornate wand, the one you now see Kalla holding in his hand. Arath looks tired; his hair is mussed and unkempt, dangling a little in his eyes as he brushes a strand back behind his ear, revealing darkly ringed eyes. He has had little if any sleep recently. Slowly he places the wand on the desk before him, running his hand just barely above it until it is glowing gently. He smiles, satisfied.

"Finally. It is finished." He murmurs to the darkness, a sigh barely audible as he plucks a sheet of parchment out of the air, reviewing it absently. "Barely on schedule. Took an entire month. I'm running out of time." His motions become slightly more animated as the wand pulses beneath his free hand and he turns, frowning at it. Something is wrong.

Arath is nose to tip with the wand, hunched deeply over the table as he stares at the implement still on the desk. He turns back to the scroll still hovering in the air, then back to the wand. "That's not right. That can't be right. Already tested..." He trails off and dust goes flying as he nearly dives into another stack of papers, throwing one open onto the desk next to the troublesome wand. As he reads, his face pales (and it is already very pale) such that he appears white as bleached bone. He takes a small stone from a nearby shelf and murmers a few words over it, his frown still intently set in his brow and lips. The rock begins to glow faintly and Arath next extracts a small white finch from its perch in the corner, placing what appears to be a protective ward over it. As it begins to glow faintly, he places it carefully next to the rock. Arath then backs away to the corner of the room and magically lifts the wand to the rock, reeling back as the rock emits a brilliant burst of red light, knocking Arath onto the floor and sending the wand skittering to his feet.

What follows is a string of swears so profane even Brandis is hard pressed not to blush.

Arath is roaring with anger. "Months of work! MONTHS of EFFORT! WASTED!" He scowls pointedly at the black smudge on the desk as if it were the finch's fault, batting away a few feathers still floating in the air above the ashen smear. Even his best protective shields have failed on even the smallest scale. Whoever breaks the wards will die. Why hadn't he realized this sooner? Arath is grinding his teeth angrily, and throws the rock against the wall where it shatters into a hundred pieces, flame dancing on the tips of his fingers. "It's impossible! It's suicide! I cannot do it myself and risk losing everything I've gained so far."

He paces, pulling at his hair, kicking at the loose scrolls and trinkets that dare to get in his way.

"But someone could do it for me, perhaps..." Arath's voice echoes in the room from a corner still untouched by his tantrum. But it is not from Arath himself. He turns his head thoughtfully towards the sound.

"But who can I trust?!" he replies, "can't risk sending an academic. They could fail, or worse: somehow take it for themselves!" He speaks absently, as if to no one in particular.

Again the voice murmurs from the dark corner, "It's too risky to send a pawn. Too much weakness and uncertainty." Arath draws imperceptibly nearer as the light from his robe casts a dim sphere around him, bringing the cluttered mound of objects into view.

"I need to send someone. Someone I can trust." Arath says as he strokes his chin thoughtfully, but stops as the sound of shuffling and shifting emerges through the gloom as a small, porceline head leans out of the shadow into the flickering light, its eyes empty and dark.

"No...not someone I can trust," the little doll says, "someone I can... manipulate."

Without warning, the vision ends.
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Re: Elsewhere Tales

Postby Cailin » September 3rd, 2010, 10:06 am

The latest vision has been posted!
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Postby Cailin » September 14th, 2010, 1:06 pm

“Where have they gone?!” A young Imaskari woman is crying in the middle of the street, she’s rocking back and forth, cradling the side of her body where an arm dangles; broken and useless. “Where have they gone? It was supposed to be our anniversary...” Small groups laden with their worldly possessions move with desperate steps, ignoring her. The last Redwing is leaving today and they can’t afford to be left behind.

“Ma’am! Ma’am you need to get up.” She looks up though glazed, tear-streaked eyes at the figure of a worried human man with a lute slung over his back. He reaches his hand out towards her and she shies away as if he is a viper. He smiles encouragingly. “Come along, you’re going to miss your flight.” He gingerly fashions a sling for her arm out of a strip of his cloak, helping her to her feet.

“They’re gone... my son... my husband...” She mutters desperately. The man hands her a hanker-chief as he leads her quickly to the last load of refugees. He pushes a gold piece into her palm.

“No tears... ma’am. Your husband needs you to be strong, your son needs you to be safe for when they come back.”

She trembles slightly, but steadies herself finally. “When they come back?”

He winks at her as she moves up the platform with the rest of the crowd. “Never lose hope.”

“Cucio! Are you coming? You won’t have a chance to get out after this!” A guard is shouting in his direction and motioning him to hop aboard, but when Cucio looks back he sees many more people who aren’t going to make it out. Families, women and children, innocents. He shakes his head and smiles.

“My place is here.”

The guard shakes his head, and begins to pull up the boarding plank. A few people scramble to try to make it but Cucio stops them from careening over the edge in their desperation. He calms the crowd, and tells them a story of five remarkable heroes who at this very moment were making their way to fight the villain who had done this, and would be working tirelessly for the rescue of their loved ones. How even now they strive, completely selfless of their own safety and desires, they are the heroes of our generation, and we will be proud to have even caught a glimpse of their greatness. It may not have been true for all Cucio knew... but it was important to never lose hope. Ever.
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Re: Elsewhere Tales

Postby Eric Holland » September 14th, 2010, 3:58 pm

Love the Elsewhere Tales...
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Postby Cailin » September 17th, 2010, 6:05 pm

Spring has finally broken Winter’s grasp on the busy little town of Hommlet. The lambs are decorated with sprays of flowers and ribbons, and the statue in the town square is decorated with bouquets and coins, a symbol of hope and prosperity for the new season. The Greengrass celebration is just on the horizon, and a cool breeze is blowing.

Canoness Y’deh stares up at the statue with soft, aged eyes. She smiles gently as a small child tugs urgently at her sleeve.

“Who’re they?” The ruddy cheeked little boy stares up at them with wide brown eyes. The Canoness picks a bit of straw from the top of his head thoughtfully. The boy squirms a little but stays silent.

“Do you know what a hero is, Leif?” Her voice is soft and gentle and the boy pauses for a moment before answering.

“A hero is... someone really strong... and really brave.”

Y’deh nods slowly, “Yes but orcs and trolls and giants are also very strong and brave too, are they heroes?”

The boy wrinkles his nose in disgust. “Blech, No!”

“And why not?”

“Because heroes are good! They do good things and help people!”

Once more the Canoness nods, “This is also true, but what of the healers? What of the clerics and teachers? They do good as well, they help others. They can be strong and brave too.”

The boy is frustrated now, a tiny thoughtful scowl forms on his face.

“But...” The boy looks up at the statue of people he has never met but only heard of in stories. “Heroes don’t do it because it’s their job.”

The Canoness smiles, “Oh?”

“Heroes do it because that’s what they do. Even if they don’t want to. Even if... even if they’ll die!”

The boy throws out his hands in a wild gesture suggesting the enormity of his statement. Canoness Y’deh pats his shoulder softly.

“Yes,” she says quietly. “That’s what a hero is. That’s who these people are.”

The boy looks up at the statues now with a look of awe. “What are they doing now?”

A snake made of shadow and venom lashes out at Brandis who even though cornered and bleeding challenges the beast to fight him. Hugh and Wrenn blast a terrifying flaming skull with blazingly fast arrows and pillars of fire without a hint of fear in their eyes. Arora receives blow after blow from a weapon sheathed in shadow, from a beast with a soul of darkness that threatens to tear her very mind from her spirit but she does not run. Deomin decimates wave after wave of shambling decaying corpses brought to life with the single purpose of destroying him. With wind and blade he cuts through them without complaint, without regret. Even when they stand again he is ready with a smile to face the horde once more.

Canoness Y’deh looks down at the boy who is now running his fingers over the name plaques with curious enthusiasm. “What are they doing now?” She shakes her head. “Why being heroes, of course.” She looks up at the statue of Burne with a sad smile before shooing the boy away, but he has already fashioned a crude stick-sword and is bashing the local vagrant rocks and barrels with it. She hears Elmo call out to the boy with a half-hearted reproach, laughter faint in his gruff voice. He turns and catches her eye. He nods with a small grin, and she returns the gesture.

Sensing the coming rain she turns to find shelter in the temple, but not without patting the statue affectionately and whispering a quiet prayer.

“For all you have done, all you will do, and all you will lose in the process... we thank you... and may blessings be upon you.”
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Re: Elsewhere Tales

Postby Eric Holland » September 30th, 2010, 9:49 am

In the Mongoose Brigade you keep what you kill and where the strong survive, the strongest lead. Mercenaries of the caliber, and violent reputation, of such an outfit require unforgiving laws to establish some degree of order.

The size of a Mongoose Brigade unit is often quite small. Unless followers are completely confident that their leader can crush them, a deadly power play is inevitable. Such turnover sends mercs from the Mongoose Brigade all over Faerun, running haphazard courses to seemingly unrelated destinations. In truth, the destinations usually are unrelated. A new leader means a new objective and that sends people tearing off in a new direction.

Some time ago...

In this manner one of the largest units of the Mongoose brigade ever, twenty strong, left their course for Thay and turned north into the Forrest of Lethyr. The Thayan red wizard who had dispatched the group waited angrily as his fighting squad never showed up. Intolerable in his rage, his servants finally convinced him to spend some precious residium and scry into the problem. Cursing and smashing things of lesser value, the wizard Sozan goes to his scrying circle and conjurs an image of the band.

Walking quitely through the forrest, a group of twenty grizzled mercenaries spread out and flank a white stone stronghold built into the face of a cliff. Drow sentries patrol the rampart wearing magical hoods to protect their eyes from the daylight. Everything seems right until he spies a large black dragonborn among the group. "Damn it" curses the wizard. The dragonborn leans down and whispers into the ear of a masked figure. Tall and menacing, its skin appears grey and marred. With deftness and deadly purpose the masked man gives a hand signal to half the group and cuts out of view, no doubt gone to flank the drow...
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Re: Elsewhere Tales

Postby lincoln » September 30th, 2010, 11:46 am

I have always been a fan of this thread. i must say, though, these last two posts are by far my favorite
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Postby Cailin » September 30th, 2010, 12:38 pm

“Keeper please, you’re going to wear a hole in the floor.”

The massively built metal construct sighed loudly, pausing his pacing to stare out of the small shack’s window once more. “I should have gone with her.”

Iselda frowned slightly, and poured her tea. “We promised Arora we’d stay safe, and out of harm’s way. You promised.”

Keeper turned, watching the woman pour the hot amber liquid into the delicate teacup. “Gheldeneth grows more inundated with refugees by the day. Surely this can only mean that something has gone wrong.”

“You don’t know that. Arora is quite capable as are her companions.” Iselda sipped her tea slowly, staring at the embers now glowing low in the hearth. Each passing day left the construct more and more agitated and restless as they remained hidden among the populace of Skyclave’s vassal city-state.

“Sitting around in this hut isn’t what I was meant to do. I can’t stand waiting and doing nothing! It’s making me crazy!” His voice resonated deeply, eyes glowing bright as he held tightly to the windowsill, his chin touching his chest as he hung his head.

Iselda put the teacup down with a sigh. “Arora told us to stay out of trouble. Don’t you remember what happened last time?”

Keeper’s eyes dimmed slightly. “Yes. I remember.” The torture he received was still rather fresh in his memory.

“She saved our lives at great personal risk.”

“Yes, she did.” His grip on the sill slackened.

Iselda smiled then, failing to stifle a cough that shook her entire body. “I’m in no shape to travel anyway.”

Keeper turned to look at the old woman. He saw frailty brought on by age, weathered skin and brittle bones, slowly degrading, dulling, disintegrating; conditions which by all accounts he would never personally experience. He was as strong as the day he was built. Stronger, even. He flexed one huge, metal hand thoughtfully as he watched Iselda struggle to keep the kettle steady as she poured more tea. Age was something he could understand, at least. Death was no mystery, and he recognized its growing shadow in Iselda’s eyes.

“You should rest. Arora told me to take care of you and I’m not eager to disappoint her if you catch ill when she returns.”

But Iselda was already asleep. Keeper lifted the empty teacup out of her hands with surprising delicacy before draping a blanket over her. Briefly Keeper allowed himself to wonder what Arora was dreaming about now, then instantly chided himself. If she did dream, nightmares or no, it wasn’t his business. He set his jaw tensely as he set to work, sharpening weapons that didn’t need it, cleaning pots and pans that were already clean, organizing and reorganizing furs and supplies. Arora would have told him to take a break, to rest or at least stand still for a few hours. She had a calming effect on his buzzing nerves that she probably wasn’t even aware of, and in the middle of the night halfway through the re-alphabetizing of the bookshelf Keeper found himself miserably unable to stop wishing for more than he deserved.
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On the Thunderstrike

Postby Cailin » October 1st, 2010, 1:05 pm

“Yar prepare the starboard and port drag-wings! And watch yer draft! I’ll have no scrapes on our hull so keep an eye out for stray earth-motes or you’ll be dangling from the fantail! Yar!”

“Aye aye Captain!” Comes the swift in unison reply from the genasi brothers who take to either side of the ship to pull up the massive drag cranks, causing flaps of smooth, flexible hide to raise up, slowing the ship’s speed considerably against the sudden bracing wind. Halflings scurry out of the way as the mountainous form of Grosh moves to observe their work.

“Port drag’s too low.” He huffs dryly. The problem is immediately remedied.

Frida and Heptos stand near the bow of the massive flying vessel, peering over the rail as clouds and sea mist waft around them in sparse clusters. Frida crosses her arms and leans against the railing with a long sigh.

“Is something bothering you, young mage?” Heptos looks down at her with a slight smile, but is met with a ferocious ten-year-old scowl that startles him. Her nose is scrunched and her eyes are narrowed but somehow wide at the same time. Tentatively he tries to collect his wits once more in the face of her obvious consternation.

“I merely meant...”

“Of course I don’t miss them! They’re fine! Why would I be worried?!” She shouts, her arms flailing above her as she pushes herself away from him, stalking away, her face rapidly turning pink.

Heptos stares after her for a moment in a state of amused befuddlement. The little mage was practically bristling with anger, and he had absolutely no idea what he had said to set off her temper.

Frida makes a bee-line for her cabin, purposefully ignoring the portal door. She’s not in the mood for Kalla’s absent-minded ramblings. She catches her reflection in the mirror and frowns. Her freckles are standing out, her hair is wildly pulled from its braid by the wind, and she’s infuriated.


Feeling her spirits fall even further, Frida turns slowly to find Kalla standing somewhat awkwardly in her doorway.

Should have locked it.

“You seem upset.”

Frida rolls her eyes. “Of course I seem upset. I’m always upset. It’s a thing I do to amuse you all.”

Kalla pauses a moment as if this is a probable answer, but then smiles and shakes his head. “Oh I see...” He lets himself in and sits at the foot of her bed with a thoughtful look. Frida crosses her arms, but doesn’t yet have the energy to eject him from her room.

“Fear is an integral part of nature. It’s alright to be afraid sometimes.” He pats her shoulder and for once Frida doesn’t flinch away. Instead she stares at the map laid out on her dresser. Skyclave. Home. Kalla hands her a silk cloth and for a moment Frida doesn’t know what to do with it until she feels the tears streaming down her cheeks. She takes the hanker-chief and sits down on the bed next to the druid who watches her quietly.

“What if... what if they don’t come back?” Her words are halted and heavy with barely restrained tears. What if there's nothing left of Skyclave when they do?

Kalla sighs with the shallow tired breath of an old man. He looks at the map, then back to the little girl softly weeping into a silk hanker-chief. Tentatively, he takes her hand and smiles.

“Animals generally make more sense to me than people do, but I will tell you this; Denomine and the rest? They have spirit. And spirit is what gives great men the power to do what others could only dream of.” Kalla leans down with a grin and in a conspiratorial voice whispers, “And they’ve got one other thing that will make sure they can’t fail.”

Frida sniffles, “What?”

Us, of course!” He winks, and pats her on the back as he stands and moves towards the door. Frida feels a smile tug at her lips as Kalla leaves as quietly as he came, leaving something on the dresser in his wake.

Curiously, Frida moves to examine it and gasps as a tiny red and purple flower with rounded petals sprouts from the wood top as if it were soil. Calfluous: the Skyclave flower. She stares at it with wonder and touches one of the soft leaves with her delicate fingers.

"Thanks, Kalla."
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Postby Cailin » October 12th, 2010, 10:47 am

My name is Deirden Nightwrend. I am shadar-kai. I led a battalion of my people into battle against the Drow incursions of Bloodwatch Ridge. My tactics and speed are nigh unmatched, and the drow tremble when they hear my battlecry roaring down upon them.

I am unsurprised by the choice of Prison Rathmore as the culling event. But what does surprise me is how quickly Xarageth manages to escape, laden heavy with ignorance as they are. I watch with interest as the dwarf cows their cellmate into staying behind. He’s young and foolish to allow her to do so. Not shadar-kai.

“You do us both a disservice, brother.” I say to him, but he clutches his arms and shivers as we hear the bones snapping and jaws clacking in the dark around us. The creatures smell blood in the air and it draws them in. There will be no saving him, and Xarageth has robbed him of even the dignity of dying as a shadar-kai. It is not in my nature to be merciful, but I throw him a sword.

“Defend yourself.”

For a moment he seems to snap out of his daze as his hands close around the sword. He raises it to block my sudden attack. He manages to block two of my swings but the dagger finds its place between the third and fourth rib. His eyes are dark, and they stare up at me. A smile twitches at the corners of his lips as he dies in a slow sigh.

The roar of some beast in the dark startles me into action. I can still hear Xarageth clanking down the hall. The dwarf is loud, and appears to be carrying a glowing weapon. They will be easy to avoid, and there will be plenty of creatures to keep them occupied as I take a more direct route to freedom.

The arena is grand as always, a perfect harmony of blood, noise and battle. Penthir thrusts us into competition with a gleeful command and instantly I feel the energy rising to a fever pitch among the hundreds who have made it out. My brothers and sisters, alive in this moment.

I pick up the chain-blade of a fallen warrior and use it to drag several of my fellows from their positions near the pillars, narrowly dodging a stray swipe from Uchehi, wielded by the great Zahar Masozi. It is almost an honor and I find myself smiling as I force my way to the pillar and take a great swing, knocking three more shadar-kai from the pillar as my hand comes to rest on the smooth cool stone, slick and wet with dark blood. My eyes shift to the far pillar where still Xarageth struggles to secure their position. I see now why they were allowed to fight as one, and I know in an instant they will continue on. The ferocity with which they fight echoes across the battlefield, the air crackles with forces beyond shadow and blade. A sudden jolt of pain pulls me into battle once more as I dispatch the final foe, engulfed in deep blue and black smoke.

Rothe is always best when stolen from the Drow and roasted for a day. In fact the only thing that makes it better is sharing it with champions of equal caliber, and sharing our stories over dark wine and bitter ales. I stand up as the crow begins, comfortable in my element, surrounded by my fellows, and tell the story of being consumed by an ash worm and how I gained a human wife as I followed the wraiths. Their wide eyes make me smile. Of the sixteen remaining only I and a few others are considered worthy of continuing. I am not surprised when Xarageth is granted entry into the final combat. In fact I now look forward to facing them directly in battle. Though I may not win against such capable warriors as Zahar, it will be at least one hell of a fight.

My jaw is broken. I pick myself up slowly from the sandy ground of the arena, steadying my gaze on the man in red who moved against me, throwing me against the pillar with brutal force. My chain-blade swipes forward and curls around his forearm, but in an unusual move he grabs hold of the chain and yanks me forward.

A warm sensation blooms in my gut. I know this feeling. This numb expanding sensation curls into me, upwards towards my heart. I look down at the sword which impales me. The dragon roars and as the wave of frigid shards of ice bare down upon us both I wipe the blood from my mouth and smile. This is a good death. My blood freezes on his blade. My blood cools in my body and slows in my veins. I turn my head towards Xarageth as I fall backwards, pushed off the blade by a heavy plate boot. I was wrong to underestimate them. If they manage to win, it will be a victory well earned.

For me, the battle is over.

And it was glorious.
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Zahar's Journal

Postby Cailin » October 27th, 2010, 11:40 am

Zahar’s Journal, Mirtul 20, 1480

This airship is a truly marvelous thing. Her crew is nearly varied and colorful as the whole of Faerun’s creations... and to be aboard it is by far one of my greatest pleasures. There have been a few moments of combat, though they are far from notable. I find myself eager for the next great fight, and jealous to see my companions fleeing for their lives from a true-to-life Earthquake dragon. Now THAT is a story. I hope I have an opportunity to accompany them soon, lest I grow weary and begin picking a fight with the Deva. Someone that quiet and reserved either deserves a good beating or is waiting for a challenge worthy of him. Either way we will find out soon enough.

They have taken the child and the prince to Orvyltar. I can feel Uchehi’s presence fading as they travel deep beneath the sands and the airship pulls away. My heart yearns to follow but I cannot. I suppose there is enough bloodshed to keep me occupied here... perhaps I can convince the captain to allow us to have another crack at the stone dragon. Something tells me there is some fight there still to be had!

To be traveling under the banner of Xarageth is an interesting experience indeed. To be able to follow the exploits of Uchehi, even greater so. Yet still they have proven to be a most remarkable company. Never a more unique configuration have I come across. Arora is a charming if somewhat uptight dwarven lass, though I suppose her demeanor is typical for a paladin? Still she strikes me as amusing in her own way, and I respect anyone who can drink as much as she can and still stay conscious. The elder human Brandis must have shadar-kai blood somewhere in his lineage. If it weren't for his age I would be sure of it, as his sense of adventure seems to rival my own. I look forward to seeing what Uchehi will bring to him, though I must admit it is nearly akin to watching a lover kindle a new romance with another. He does not command her loyalty yet though. Uchehi has very demanding standards.

I have heard the ranger hides much of his past life, if the story Kyesh told is to be believed. I have a difficult time comprehending why anyone would remove a tattoo. It makes me even more curious as to Hugh's nature. Perhaps a duel or two will reveal something of the truth to my inquisitive mind. Never have I seen arrows bend to the will of their barer so skillfully. How can one so cagey and cautious provoke such powerful loyalty from his weapon?

The strangest by far is Deomin, or is it the Deomin? I have yet to determine if this is title or name as he is so flighty and odd that I wonder if he is a race yet undiscovered in Faerun. The way he channels his energy is curious. Among my people the volatile desires for excitement, battle and adrenalin push our actions and give our lives and every action meaning. With him it is as if that same energy flows of its own accord and manifests itself in the wind and electricity he wields. It is an astounding way to live.

And then there is Wrenn. At first I admit I was not particularly impressed by his stature, but all Shadar-Kai know that it is very dangerous indeed to underestimate those whose story has yet been told to you. His eagerness to engage in carnage and destruction simmers behind his eyes, and alights on his fingertips. It is a trait many of my people would admire. In fact I see much of myself in him, that vigorous lust for the ultimate expression of power, death, life, and wild-blood. It has also not gone unnoticed that he follows me about and eagerly listens to my tales. It is endearing, if unexpected. I will make note to reward his interest with a lesson in shadar-kai battle technique, when he is able to do so.

-Zahar Masozi
Thrice Champion-Bearer of Uchehi 1450-1480
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Audio Logs

Postby Cailin » October 29th, 2010, 3:25 pm

Just thought you might want to have the transcripts of those audio logs we've found.

#1: A few of the guardsmen left today. I don’t think they’re coming back. Haldis is furious but he said now that the hatch is secured it doesn’t matter if they leave, no one will find us here without the key. Still, it’s sad to see people losing faith in us. Maybe they’re scared to go back? I can’t imagine it’s because they actually like it here. There isn’t even a suitable way to get around! At least we know the warforged won’t run off, without them we wouldn’t be able to build nearly as fast!

#2: Haldis tells me not to be afraid, but how can I not be? I have been pouring over every chart we have! I thought perhaps this was some part of Thelanis not yet discovered, but as I learn more about this place and chart its stars it is clear we are well beyond the realm of the familiar. I’m not sure what went wrong, if my calculations were off the perhaps... but it doesn’t really matter right now. I fear we may be stuck here for a long time, at any rate.

Dun dun DUN!!
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Postby Cailin » November 7th, 2010, 12:15 pm

(Just how did Klethen get that stone while the party was in the Shadowdark?)

Klethen stood outside the tower for quite sometime as he observed the shadar-kai passing by him, jumping from shadow to shadow up the imposing black structure. There was no way around it, he was going to have to climb. His father would not have approved, and as Klethen clung to the immensely tall building hundreds of feet in the air with bloodied fingers, he wasn’t so sure he approved of this course of action either. But there was nothing for it; he couldn’t turn back now.

“Clearly the gods tempt me beyond reason. I will end up killing someone at this rate!” Rae Shadestrike muttered as Klethen appeared in the registration doorway covered with sweat and dirt. He looked miserable.

“I happen to be the Prince of Ulgarth, as a matter of fact.” Klethen straightened up rather regally as Rae laughed mockingly.

“Ulgarth? Never heard of it.”

“Never... but... surely you-” Klethen stammered angrily as Rae moved to her chair, sitting sideways with her legs dangling over the arms.

“You should have your tattoo artist executed, you know. That doesn’t look anything like a sphinx.”

Klethen’s face was rapidly turning red as the brazen woman continued her barrage of insults. She smiled wickedly with a look of pure satisfaction as he stood nearly frozen in front of her desk. Klethen was about to return her comment with a smart retort of his own when the flash of something shining on her desk caught his eye. It was a locket. Quickly, he snatched it up before the shadar-kai woman could move to stop him. Her eyes narrowed furiously as her features darkened in shadow.

“Give that back!”

Klethen began backing up, opening the locket to reveal a rather detailed image of... well now.
His eyes widened and a smile broke clear across his face. He raised an eyebrow at the now red-faced shadar-kai who was slowly stalking towards him with images of his impending destruction glinting in her eyes.

“I wonder how long it took to render this sort of depiction?” Klethen mused aloud, now near the edge of the doorway, oblivion just a misstep away. He held the locket over the abyss and Rae froze with a look of absolute fury.

“T-That doesn’t belong to you! Give it to me right now or I’ll-” She choked on the threat as Klethen made to drop the delicate item, holding it just barely between his fingers.

“I simply want you to help my friends. That is all. I climbed a long way and I am tired.”

“That’s ridiculous! Why would I help you?!”

Klethen sighed. “Obviously this locket means a great deal to you. I have a feeling it is not the sort of thing you can....easily replace.”

Rae Shadestrike frowned deeply, her entire face consumed in a violent blush. “Take this.” She hissed through clenched teeth, tossing a fist-sized faceted stone on the ground between them. “If your friends even make it that far, which I doubt, they’ll need an arcane lens.”

After a considerable pause, Klethen moved towards the stone. As he picked it up however, Rae took hold of his doublet with a vice-grip. With her other hand she took the locket carefully out of his hand.

“If you tell anyone about it, I will slit you top to bottom and use your corpse as drider-bait. Then I will send your tattoo stretched on a canvas-frame back to Oolgeth or whatever it is you call the topside shit-mound unlucky enough to have you as its prince.”

Klethen merely smiled as she released him. “It is Ulgarth, actually. And your secret is safe with me.”

With almost unnatural speed Klethen raced down the tower and through the lower markets towards a shady less-well traveled area of Ikkamu’s human district. It wouldn’t be long before Rae realized the trinket she was holding was not her locket and when she did he didn’t want to be anywhere near her.

The human trader was more than surprised to see Klethen enter her store unscathed and without even a broken nose. She raised an eyebrow skeptically. “So did it work? You still have all your teeth...”

In response Klethen held up a intricately decorated locket, letting it dangle open in his fingers. There etched on its inside was a rather detailed image of a man laying in repose wearing a very familiar grin and nothing else. Next to the image neatly scrawled letters read: “To my darling Rae, may this soften the blow of second place. Better luck next time - Z

“I can’t believe it actually worked! You have your item... and she gave me exactly what I needed! Do you have any idea what one of these is worth?” The woman spoke excitedly as she folded the locket in a soft cloth.

“No, I don’t suppose I do. At any rate it worked just as you said it would.” Klethen smirked as he patted the pocket where the arcane lens lay safely tucked away.

The woman laughed a little. “Well you may want to consider laying low for a while. If Rae even catches a whiff of you I expect you’ll lose more than a few teeth. She’ll be too embarrassed to make a public outcry though so if you just stay in the shadows for a while it will all be alright.”

Klethen nodded quietly as he brushed the dirt off his vest. “But why is she so embarrassed? I thought the Shadar-kai were above mere modesty.”

The woman shook her head slowly. “Oh that’s only a small part of it. It’s not so much what he gave her but why. With that locket he taunted her with her failure to win the last Uchehi-Kai ten years ago and her loss of status because of it. The story goes that he used her infatuation with him against her during the tournament and that’s why she lost! She’s never really lived it down! But for her to have kept it... well... that sort of sentimentality is the real embarrassment.” She smiled again, handing the prince a cloak and a sack of coins.

“That should be enough for a few weeks of food. I wouldn’t recommend you returning to your friends right away. She’ll probably be looking for you there. In fact you probably shouldn’t stay in one place for more than a day.”

Klethen sighed loudly. Ah well, there went any hope for a warm bath and clean linens any time soon. “Well... thank you Miss. I am glad we were able to come to such a lucrative arrangement.”

“Oh thank you! Anything to stick it to those snooty Shadar-Kai and help a fellow Human! But... if you get caught, I’ll deny I ever heard of you. I like my teeth where they are if you please.”

Klethen paused at the doorway and nodded with a smile. “Of course.”
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Re: Elsewhere Tales

Postby Greg » November 18th, 2010, 12:24 pm

Above the sand a long shadow cast its darkness over the pristine doors of the vault. Desirous eyes glittered with satisfaction. Finally, after all this time here it was. With an impatient flick of his wrist the vault doors groaned and snapped apart. The sound of bending breaking metal reverberated though the entire vault, sending shock-waves echoing down the elevator shaft. His minions stood back hesitantly before following their master down, deep into the darkness.
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Strangers in a Strange Land

Postby Cailin » November 19th, 2010, 8:47 pm

Drip... drip... drip...

It’s the first thing Arora feels; a cold droplet that seizes her from dreamless darkness.

Head pounding, she struggles to see beyond the shadows, vision blurry, limbs frozen and weary. She tries to remember what she was doing... where she was before this moment.

A flash of memory sets kindling ablaze as it leaps to life in a moment of terrible clarity. The airship. Fire. Arath. Her heart races in her chest, thudding painfully into her temples and behind her eyes. She struggles to move and only then realizes her wrists are fixed by shackles and chained above her head, dangling from a ring pounded into stone. A shiver runs through her. She’s wearing rags, she’s freezing.

Why... why would Arath take her prisoner?

But this isn’t his style... the stonework is too mediocre. It can’t be Ulgarth... the dungeon is all wrong. Nothing feels right about this place but she can’t figure out why and her head feels like its splitting apart... she squeezes her eyes shut as if to will away this nightmare. Eyes open. She’s still alone. With a miserable grunt she jerks her arms forward weakly. At least she was able to buy the others enough time to escape...

It had been such blinding silver light... she remembered the feeling of it; the warmth, the enveloping strength of divine energy. Arath had looked at her with such furious hatred... such loathing and rage... she hardly recognized him as the light had consumed her.

“Promise me if the moment comes... you’ll leave me and get out of here.”

“Ha! Arora, you know you’ll never be rid of me that easily...”

I hope you changed your mind... Deomin. Arora feels her body sag with fatigue. It is then she notices just how dark her skin seems to be in the dim light. Her limbs, while weak, feel slimmer... more lithe and subtle. With a growing trill of fear she realizes something is very wrong indeed. She wrenches her head upward to examine soft, slender hands with small wrists and long fingers. She’s taller too... by a good half foot or so. With a flick of her head strands of silky white hair tumble across her eyes.


Disgust, fear, revulsion well up in her until she feels as though she’s going to vomit or pass out or both. She fights in earnest against the chains with what little energy her panic and adrenalin grant her. No. No no NO!

“Deomin!” She cries and falls to her knees, murmuring and shaking. “Hugh...Wrenn...Brandis...I-”

“Quiet, scum! Why I have half a mind to- oh! Sergent Maddock, Sir!”

Arora instantly stills at the voice and the sudden change in its tone. She strains to hear their discussion but in her fatigue and fear-induced haze she can only make out raised voices and the mention of “the prisoner”.

She must be delirious.

Among the four strangers facing her, a dragonborn, an eladrin, a shifter and a human... it is somehow Brandis who her mind chooses to project onto the form of this... Sergent Maddock. Unable to believe her own eyes, fear still consumes her as she presses herself as far from them as she can, up against the cold stone wall.


Her heart skips a beat. Is she really that far gone or... She steals a look at the man again, this time she looks beyond the beard and the bald head. She listens to his voice... she looks at his eyes.

Her eyes widen. Her heart soars. She’s never been so happy to see his face.

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Re: Elsewhere Tales

Postby Greg » December 11th, 2010, 5:08 pm

“Three minutes to demi-plane collapse.”

Frida’s hands are shaking as she completes the dispelling ritual. The portal shatters with a surge of arcane energy, disintegrating in a thousand strands of blue/purple vapor. With a shuddering sigh she forces herself to stand once more. They’re gone. Tears partially obscure her vision as she runs back to the golden sphere. They’re gone. A touch of the palm reveals the door once more and she reaches out her hands. Ribbons of blue light seek her pulse like a beacon and flow into her mind. The connection is forged in an instant.

“Two minutes to demi-plane collapse.”

With trembling fingers she flutters through command lines like a great book until she finds what she’s looking for.

“Come on... come on.” She bites her lip as she reaches out her palm.

“Demi-plane collapse aborted. Sealing process now beginning.” Her sigh of relief is interrupted by the door to the sphere clamping shut, vanishing into the seamless ceramic plates which make up the inner shell of the sphere. She runs to it, placing her hands upon the stark white metal.

Despite her best efforts, nothing happens.

Her forehead softly touches the smooth cool surface, she closes her eyes.

Well Frida, this is what you wanted. She smiles grimly, a weak chuckle echoing around her.

“Alert: Security Breach in Main Portal Entry Level.”

A cold sinking feeling settles in the pit of her stomach as the scrying display flickers once more to life.

Deep beneath the sands of the Rauin desert, the chaotic energy of the power node vortex echos with rage. Arath’s hands clutch at the stone gateway where the massive portal once stood, now empty. His fingers grip the stone runes tightly, blood trickling into the rivulets and grooves. His breath is ragged and heavy.

Every attempt to re-establish the portal meets with dismal failure. He screams with wild frustration, and his minions cower like animals. The portal arch explodes as bolt after bolt of flame energy careens from his outstretched hands. Murder. He can think of nothing else. No. He is going to do more than murder them. He scowls, reaching outwards with his senses. They’re halfway up an elevator shaft rocketing to the surface. With a final blast of arcane energy the portal arc disintegrates, and the chamber begins to rumble as the shielding around the power node vortex begins to crack and bend. With an angry snarl Arath begins his pursuit.

Frida’s eyes are fixed on the now collapsing cave. The image flickers more and more until the scrying magic is no longer able to maintain its connection. It blinks off in an instant, leaving Frida frantic and afraid. Despite her best efforts no spell she casts manages to make it past the sphere’s shell. No portal, message, no warning can be sent to them. Whatever their fate, she is no longer directly a part of it, it would seem. She only hopes they have enough sense not to engage him.

She sets to work conjuring, and before long has a moderately cozy spot of the sphere set up with the few books she’s brought, a hammock, and a table. Smiling at her resourcefulness Frida then reaches to the bottom of her pack and pulls out a small glass globe. Floating within the globe is a solitary flower which seems to be in a state of suspended animation. She puts it on the desk with tender care, and with a tap it begins to emit a soft light. The natural glow of the Planar Observatory dims in response. Frida then climbs into the hammock she’s created and pulls her cloak around her, dreaming strange dreams of far off realms and lands yet undiscovered.
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The Duel

Postby Cailin » December 16th, 2010, 6:26 pm

“Tell me, is it typical for humans to sulk so much, or is it a trait of your particular region?”

Klethen ran his fingers through his hair with a small tremor of agitation at the shadar-kai’s sudden appearance. “They have been gone for nearly two months now. It is only reasonable that I be concerned for the state of my people in their absence.”

Zahar slid into a space next to the glum-looking prince. “Heptos says he may be close to retrieving them. Perhaps you should cultivate some of that ‘regal patience’ you kings are so proud of up here on the surface. Why, there was one time during my visit to Cormyr-”

“Leave me BE!” Klethen snarled suddenly, standing up with a fierce look in his eyes. “I have no interest in your stories!”

“Good, good!” Zahar smiled widely at the human’s sudden mood swing. “At least you look alive now! Come, let us forget all this pensive nonsense. The sparring ring is much more suitable for working out such frustrations, wouldn’t you agree?” Klethen sighed as Zahar handed him his rapiers. He had been ignoring them for weeks now but they rang merrily from their scabbards, singing like newly released birds. A small smile crept over his face.

“Now your highness, let us earn you a kingly scar! Ah but not to worry, I will avoid marking your pretty face in something so trivial as a duel.” Zahar was grinning now, pulling on his dark gauntlets with a look that betrayed his eagerness.

Klethen raised an eyebrow, giving the blades a casual twirl. “How comforting to know my opponent has my best interests at heart.”

“Of course.” Zahar bowed, un-sheathing his swords with practiced ease. “Now, let us begin. That is, if you still remember how to use those.”

At this, Klethen laughed. “If a lesson is what you are after, I am all too happy to educate you!” Then he lunged.
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The Betrayal of House Aleanu

Postby Cailin » December 22nd, 2010, 5:37 pm

(Because Eric "urged" me to post this, here is Chalriina's backstory post. Enjoy.)

Each lace was threaded through the eyelet of each black boot with painstaking precision; drawing with slow tension as they slid through each dark metal grommet. The process repeated until tight little bows sat snugly at the base of each slender knee. With a satisfied smirk Chalriina Aleanu, soon to be Matriarch of all House Aleanu, stood with a flourish tossing her long, silken white hair over her shoulder. It was time to go out into the big, wide world once more. She laughed softly, deep red eyes observing the elven slaves she had acquired the week before. They were only now just beginning to accept their fate, lost deep in the web of the Drow Nation. A few were still prone to fits of weeping; a trait of their above-ground cousins which disgusted her. Such weakness was above her and her sisters. Here in the darkness the drow reigned supreme, comfortable in their superiority.

“Mistress? Are you ready to make the journey to the surface now?”

A drone stood with eyes downcast as he addressed her, his superior. He wore the mark of a House Aleanu servant branded into the bare pectoral flesh, his silvery hair hung loose to his shoulders. Being only marginally more useful than their slaves, male drow found their place among the matriarchs and their sisters as little more than glorified servants to be traded, punished and obliterated at the whim of their mistress. Chalriina’s eyes narrowed. She did not recognize this whelp, not that they held much distinction from one to the other in her mind. But something in the way his eyes grazed the toe of her pointed boots irked her, made her wish nothing more than to plant the boot heel firmly over his windpipe and crush her feeling of unease along with his trachea.

“Mistress?” His careful prodding was giving her a headache. She snarled and brushed past the drow servant with a haughty flip of her hair, leaving him scrambling to get out of her way and then catch up with her in the manner befitting a subordinate: three paces behind and slightly to the left. Her legs swished with long strides, daring those around her to let their gazes linger at their peril; for all her vanity Chalriina found few worthy of the privilege and never hesitated to act on her disapproval with violence. It was this fact in particular that had Chalriina puzzled. Out of the corner of her eye she could clearly see this male watching her with an intensity that unnerved her. Oh the fear was there, of course, but so was the tell-tail twitch that betrayed some ulterior design for this particular mission.

Because of this Chalriina had her senses particularly on edge, heightened as they entered the deepening shadow where she was to meet her raiding party for their final run of the evening. The sharp intake of breath was the only sign she needed to react, her sword swinging in a wide arc as the male leaped back, barely avoiding total evisceration. Two twisted daggers in his hands made clear his mission: assassination. Chalriina smirked. As if such a thing were even possible. But the drow servant had not completely evaded her, and as he stumbled back the clean red line cutting down his chest revealed how close a call it had really been. Chalriina noted it with a satisfied nod of her head.

“Before I kill you, I should like to know which of my sisters was fool enough to attempt such a sloppy plan as this.” She growled, her shadow pulsating with furious energy.

The servant remained silent, defiance glistening in his eyes as he struggled to remain standing. The wound had begun to bleed profusely as he raised his daggers once more.

“How tedious.” Chalriina sighed, and severed his head cleanly from his shoulders. “I’ll figure it out on my own.” The head rolled to touch the silver tip of her leather boot and she frowned in disgust before kicking it away from her. It was then she noticed the dim torches rounding the corner.

“There she is! Hurry!”

Chalriina rolled her eyes as she checked her reflection in the mirrored surface of her sword. It was about time someone showed up to look for her. She stood with hips lilting to one side as several drow huntresses rounded the corner with bows and sabres drawn.

“Ah!” Chalriina began, “you’re a bit late but-” The venom barbed arrow whizzing past her cheek caused her to stop suddenly, eyes wide with indignation as her hand flew to her cheek. “You! You dare-”

“Murderess! Traitor!” One of the drow screamed, letting loose another arrow which Chalriina narrowly avoided. For once in her life she found herself speechless as her second sister Relain appeared following the mob with a look of carefully practiced shock as she stabbed a finger forward, pointing at the corpse.

“That’s our mother’s servant Tezuin! No doubt she intended to silence the only witness to her vile crime and dispose of the body in secret!”

Chalriina felt her blood boil. “The only vile crime here is your pathetic excuse for an assassination attempt!”

Her sister merely smirked. “And you would know all about assassination attempts wouldn’t you? Your murder of the matriarch will not earn you the throne before your time if I can help it!”

So that was her game then. Chalriina scowled as her sister’s forces moved forward to apprehend her. “It was you! You framed me and convinced that servant to incriminate me! I will not allow this! I will not!”

The younger sister shook her head slowly with a dismissive ‘tsk’ sound. “What you will and will not allow is no longer a point of interest.... traitor. Seize her!”

What came next was a flurry of shadow and steel that engulfed its participants in a show of dark gore and smoke. They were all well-trained but Chalriina’s affinity for the deep shadow allowed her to move mostly unimpeded as she fought her way out of the fray. And then she did the most infuriating thing she could imagine. She ran.

Muscles screaming and heart pounding, she ran and lept up the shadows, fleeing the storm of outrage brewing in her wake. Relain would pay for this, but it would not be this day. Her traitorous sister had the entire house rising up at her back. To attempt revenge prematurely would be foolish suicide, and Chalriina was too proud to die on some overzealous guard’s blade simply because she was impatient.

She would be back, and as she broke through to the infuriatingly bright moon-lit night Chalriina cursed, feeling her legs finally give way and buckle beneath her. Relain would not pursue her to the surface, but if she was not able to return to the Underdark before morning there would be no doubt what an angry elven populace would do to her if she were discovered.

The bitter taste in her mouth worsened. She was alone. On the surface. With a shudder she forced herself to crawl from the outcropping of stone and rock to a small enclave of jagged stones. The night was fading to a pale blue already and Chalriina was only just regaining her ragged, panting breath. Hate and fury washed over her with every forced wheeze, and with a trembling hand she wiped a smudge of blood from her otherwise flawless face. Her hair was a mess and her clothing was hopelessly disheveled. This final insult was almost too much to bear as she screamed her frustration at the stars. Relain would suffer for her treachery, now matter what it took.
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The Bard King

Postby Cailin » January 4th, 2011, 9:05 pm

“Are you... sure about this?” Cucio grimaced. Klethen stood at the far end of the room examining a painting, turning his head slightly.

“You said yourself, Gheldeneth already has a representative government established, even if it is crudely formed. You’re going to have to play King until the situation has stabilized.”

The prince turned, locking eyes with the reluctant bard-king. “And that means meeting your neighbors and establishing a relationship.”

“But surely they won’t need me to-” Cucio’s plea was interrupted by a book sailing across the room, nearly striking him in the chest.

“Those people out there see you as their leader, whether you like it or not!” Klethen shouted. “If you prefer to act the coward someone else will come in, someone always does. But they may not be as good-intentioned as you. They may be greedy. They may be petty. You are all that stands between those civilians and a tyrant. Now, you asked for my advice and I gave it: meet with Gheldeneth’s leaders, let them know you neither fear nor threaten them. I will protect you.”

“Can’t you just go and pretend to be me?” The bard looked hopefully up at the now pacing Klethen.

For a moment, Klethen stopped, and eyed Cucio. Then he smirked.

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

Cucio sighed. “You’re right...”

“I’m far more handsome.”
“...I’m far more handsome.”

A moment of silence passed between them when suddenly both men broke into laughter, while the others milling about downstairs were left to wonder just what was so funny.
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Postby Cailin » January 10th, 2011, 9:39 pm

Smoke rises from the ornate elongated pipe in the grip of a heavily tattooed, pale man with long dark dreadlocks. Despite his relatively youthful features, his dark eyes glimmer with experience, age, and the wisdom of many, many years. With a thoughtful, languid drag he observes the four youths sitting before him, their eyes locked on him with awe.

“Tell us the story again, grandfather! Tell us about Xarageth and Uchehi!”

The man smiles, the corners of his mouth crinkling just slightly as his eyes shine in the firelight.

“Very well, but the next time I expect you all to crow in return.”

The children nod eagerly, nudging each-other for the best position near the fire. Their chattering dies to a whisper as he raises his hand, and begins to speak.


When I first laid eyes upon the blade Uchehi I knew, as all Shadar-Kai know, that this was a sacred and special thing. Its blade was forged from the living shadow which surrounds us even now in each breath. Uchehi, dark and magnificent, brutal and cunning, fierce and passionate. All that which our people knew, bound up in the spectral edge and obsidian hilt of our most precious relic.

I was not one to ask where hence it had come, or who had forged such a blade. Even at the age of awareness, that first brash tumble into adulthood, I knew I wanted Uchehi as my own. It was destiny.

Destiny showed me many things, from towering infernos to freezing chasms, from the astral sea to the outer reaches of the feywild. For much of these adventures, my younger brother Vaishar was at my heels, sharing in my triumphs and follies as only a brother can.

And then came that cold day we burned down the tangled marshes, searching the wicked and rank swamp of the hags, seeking the Coven of the Ten... the beast-witches with curved fangs and claws; a fine prize for any young an upcoming Shadar Kai. It was to be a grand competition, to see who would have the greater number of tooth and nail by the end of the adventure.

But it was over before it began for in his haste and eagerness my brother met his end, and paid the highest price for his rash judgement. They had already begun to consume him, and I waited, pausing for the right moment to strike the bog-queen at her weakest moment. It was enough to get the attention of the others, and with their matriarch skewered on my blade they were more than willing to tend to my injured hand.

The blood of a bog queen, as it turns out, is more than merely toxic or necrotic. It is total “wrongness”, the corruption of tissue and bone. To spare the queen’s life, they agreed to stop the spread of her vile toxin, and repaired my hand.

It was only when I turned to look at my brother’s still corpse that I realized how they had managed such a feat. They cackled at my shock and rage, but soon fell silent as the hand that was once my brother’s, now mine, swung the sword with new found vigor, killing each in turn with shadow following its wake.

My brother died, yet remained alive through me. His hand, which had been used to replace my corrupted one, remained unmarked until such time as I found a deed worthy of his memory, a deed to honor him as a brother and as a shadar-kai.

Not long after the day came that I finally held Uchehi in my hand, and for many years after I continued to do so. Every beast slaughtered, every drow felled, there was not one that did not hear the echo of my brother’s soul in their dying minds. For thirty years Uchehi bore my greatness to new heights... until the day I encountered a strange group of surfacers seeking passage to Ikemmu.

It was not long after meeting them that Uchehi and I were formally parted.

But...every end brings a new tale on its heels.

And as it turned out, my greatest story was only just beginning...
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Up in Smoke

Postby Cailin » January 24th, 2011, 1:07 am

Tekkil Smoke filled the tent with a sweet, thick scent as Linari Corgano lounged atop a richly embroidered silk pillow. The day had been particularly sweltering, making the sudden downpour outside all the more welcome. The sound of the rain added a pleasant counterpoint to the languid warmth cascading down her lungs, causing the gypsy queen to sigh happily. Another long day was over and the sweet numb sensation crawling over her skin allowed tense muscles and skin to relax and unwind. Her dark-lined eyelids were just beginning to flutter closed when a commotion outside broke the spell.

“Linari will not be seeing anyone until tomorrow! Now return to your tower or-” A flash of red light lit the figures of two men, one pointing a wand at the other in a briefly lit shadow. The man crumpled to his knees like a broken marionette. The flap of the tent flew open of its own accord as a pair of red-robed Imaskari stormed into the haze-laden sanctuary.

Linari stood, her hip lilting to one side, pipe dangling lazily from her fingertips. “Gentlemen of the Arcane Academy... obediently appearing on an errand for your Headmaster? Or do you come for more... personal interests?” Her eyes flashed dangerously as she lit a small sconce full of incense with the tip of her pipe. The two men watched her movements blankly, their eyes dark and still.

The taller Imaskari frowned, “You’ve turned down enough invitations.”

Linari smiled charmingly, casting a glance over her shoulder at the tent’s exit.
“Perhaps your master should learn to take a hint. I am a lady of her own mind... “ Her eyes narrowed, “Even if you are not.”

The pair took a menacing step forward. “There is no more refusing. You will come with us.”

“I’m sorry... the smoke you see...” Linari moved her hand slowly, drawing a small match from the desk nearby. “It makes things... hazy.”

The men were already raising their wands. “Whatever information you have regarding the Academy belongs to the Headmaster. You will come with us or you will die.”

The gypsy let a small smile creep over her lips. “Tekkil smoke on its own is not particularly dangerous, short from over-indulgence. Neither is Gold Sand Incense. However, when the two mix together you should know a single spark can be... rather unpredictable.”

With a sudden flick of her wrist Linari drew the match across the table’s surface, causing the small stick to burst into flame as she tossed it into the bluish-grey smoke surrounding them.

The explosion boomed with tremendous force and heat, knocking the two men back. When the smoke dissipated and the rain began to pour down onto the two shocked Imaskari, the Gypsy Queen Linari Corgano was nowhere to be found; only her soft laughter lingered with the last few wisps of blue smoke in the darkness.
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The Book

Postby Cailin » February 2nd, 2011, 9:22 pm

After confirming the security of the Imaskari inn rooms Keeper finally began his work sharpening and honing the edge of the great-spear's blade as well as testing for damage or imperfections in the bore. Satisfied, he propped the weapon against the bed-post before sitting on the bed. After a momentary pause, he rummaged in his pack and pulled out a worn-looking leather journal.

“I should have gone with her.”

“We promised Arora we’d stay safe, and out of harm’s way. You promised.”

The words of an old conversation floated in Keeper’s mind as stared down at the book.

In a flash his mind conjured an image of the pale, elderly form of Iselda Nahettia. Her breathing was shallow, her eyes flickered without focus. With grim calmness the massive construct made vigil beside her bed as she lay dying.

It wouldn’t be much longer, and there was only so much Keeper could do to hold back the inevitable conclusion of mortality. Iselda coughed again, a sign of another brief return to clarity. Keeper turned to her, concerned. “Iselda, is there anything you need?”

Her eyes focused on him for the briefest of moments, some hint of her consciousness still sparkled there but it dimmed even as she spoke.

“My book... Keeper.”

A quick search produced a small leather journal. It looked plain and uninteresting, kept closed with a strap of buckskin ribbon. Keeper tried to hand it to her but Iselda turned her head away, too weak to raise her arms.

“I’ve...done a terrible thing.”

Keeper laid the book down on the nightstand next to the bed, unsure if Iselda was speaking to him anymore. Tears welled up in her eyes and rolled down her wrinkled cheeks as she shuddered and coughed once more.

“But this... this will set things right.” She sighed, “She may not understand... she wasn’t ready then. You’ll tell her I’m sorry won’t you? When... when she’s ready?”

Keeper looked at the journal again with mounting concern. “Iselda, what do you mean? Who wasn’t ready? What are you sorry for?”

“Sorry? Oh it’s true... I’ve done a terrible thing. But I did it for her you know. It’s not right to lay such a burden on someone who so unprepared.”

A careful touch revealed Iselda’s fingers were now ice-cold. Keeper smoothed her hair comfortingly. “Do you want me to give the journal to someone?”

The elderly woman nodded absently. “I’ve done a terrible thing, but this is my...apology.”

“Do you want me to give this...to Arora?”

Again she nodded, this time her eyes fluttered shut and she seemed to lack the strength to open them again. “Not until she’s ready...One cannot rush the dawn.”

Keeper began to feel desperate, feeling the life slipping from her with sudden speed. “What do you mean?! How will I know?”

“If it is meant to be, fate will bring you together.”

He felt a tremor of fear at her words which he couldn’t quite understand. But there were no more answers to be had. Iselda Nahettia faded into death; peaceful and still at last.

Keeper piled the stones steadily on a soft grassy hill which overlooked Gheldeneth. There was nothing more to hold him here now. The passing of Iselda gave him no small measure of guilt for his relief at being rid of the place. For a small while he simply stood, gazing at the leather journal in his hand.

He had not dared open it, though his curiosity had led him to wonder what could have caused Iselda such painful remorse. His fingers lingered over the plain cover, as if the truth would somehow reveal itself there along with Arora’s whereabouts. Of course, nothing appeared other than the violent orange-red of a burning sunset. Keeper’s yellow eyes softened for a moment as he stowed the journal and turned sharply to the north, determined to find some clue, some purpose that would lead him to her.

It had led him to High Imaskar, to Stoyla Coilbone and beyond that to the depths of the Underdark. How much further he had to go still was a mystery. But at least he wasn’t alone.

His fingers tightened around the book grimly.
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Postby Cailin » February 10th, 2011, 12:37 pm

Zahar sits in the portal watching the others with a thin frown. He’s not linked to Uchehi anymore, but he’s been with her long enough to know she’s disappointed, as is he. They fled from what was quite possibly their most glorious battle yet, and for what? Fear of blood? His eyes flicker to Arora: the first to run.

“And here I thought paladins were all eager to be martyrs.” He grumbles to himself.

Arora is busy helping bind the unconscious dragonborn. Her back remains turned, her face staunchly stoic, though Wrenn can clearly sense a storm of fury and guilt rolling off the dwarf in invisible waves. It's a rare moment of control for Arora, who seems more focused on the task at hand than the barbs of the shadar-kai.

Zahar shrugs off her coldness easily, leaning back against the grey walls of their cavern. He folds his arms behind his head, crossing one ankle over the other with a bored sigh. Suddenly he notices the unnervingly still construct standing where the portal entrance once was. For a creature with no true facial expressions, the look he sends the Shadar-Kai is positively icy. Zahar raises an eyebrow and his lips quirk slightly into a grin. This is too small of a space to put up a good fight, but maybe later...

He smirks at the thought.
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The Commission

Postby Cailin » February 14th, 2011, 12:37 am

Alagond groaned inwardly when he saw the deva approach his shop. What horrible luck he had to be forced to endure the presence of such a tedious creature! Undaunted by neither the shopkeeper's scowl nor his pointed look of disinterest, Heptos entered the semi-famous Magecraft Emporium of Deep Imaskar.

“Is it finished?” The deva said hopefully, his head tilting slightly forward as if to look over the desk. Alagond suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. The deva had made such a marvelously strange request that Alagond was positively certain this man was mad. He would have refused the job outright but, as was the way of the Imaskari of the Underdark, his curiosity and his lust for an intellectual challenge got the better of him. With a sly look he produced a cloth-wrapped package from the magical ether where his projects were stored. It looked fairly plain, flat and much less impressive than Heptos was expecting.

“That’s it?”

Alagond snorted. “That’s it? Really? I give you the arcane marvel of the decade and you ask me if that’s it?

Heptos took a tentative step back. He had somehow angered the craftsman this much he knew for sure, but his interest in the man’s feelings waned rapidly as he stared at the cloth-wrapped item. Could it be he had really completed it in so short a time?


“Up to 130 knots, as you specified. That of course includes material and arcane varieties.” Alagond laid a schematic over the package, pointing at various notations and scribblings with a long-nailed finger. “You’ll easily be able to make anything go through the air with this. Depending on the weight...” He waved his hand as he thought. “You’ll see an increase of 100% or more if you install it correctly.” His eyes narrowed with an arrogantly arched eyebrow. “Which I doubt.”

Heptos ran his hand over the schematic with a sparkle of admiration in his eyes. “Remarkable. Yes, this will do perfectly. Will there need to be any structural modifications made to the ship to support the increased speed?”

“Oh of course not, if you don’t mind being ripped apart when you hit a wind reef.” Alagond said, rolling up the schematic with a casual flick of his wand. “And unless you somehow get your ship down here there’s nothing I can do about that. Just avoid them and you should be fine.”

Heptos nodded with a small smile. “My thanks.”

“Yes... well... just don’t go around telling people where you got it. I don’t want a whole mess of surfacers traipsing into my shop looking for ‘structural commissions’. I do have a reputation to maintain.”

Heptos picked up the small bundle and bowed low. “Of course.”

Alagond did roll his eyes then, turning back to his schematics as the deva left the shop.

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Postby Cailin » February 17th, 2011, 12:05 pm

(Not so long ago...)

The hour was late and servants ran to and fro with lanterns guiding their paths, and the entire castle echoed with screams. Some servants carried towels and sheets, while others carried basins of water. The most active chamber of Keshali Manor was filled with soft yellow light as more maids rushed to the side of a dark-haired woman in the throes of labor.

“Come on, sweetheart, it can’t be much longer now.” A middle-aged woman stood holding the young woman’s hand tightly. She had soft wisps of grey in her otherwise black hair and bright green eyes that watched over her charge with kindness and concern. It was quite possibly the longest labor she has ever seen, though they finally seemed to be coming to the end of it.

The child’s cry was unlike anything she’s ever heard; so filled with a strange echo of loss and sadness that she struggled to hold back tears as she tended to the newborn. With a soft smile she turned to the mother who lay in an exhausted daze.

“Oh Ardora... she’s beautiful.”

“Beautiful? At least tell me she’s human. Give her here, Iselda.”

Saluz Keshali’s sudden presence sent shivers down the midwife’s spine as his shadow fell over her from the faintly-lit doorway. She handed the swaddled babe over with a concerned glance at Ardora, who gazed at her father with a mixture shame and hope. He stared at the child in his arms, and his brow furrowed as he frowned at his daughter with contempt.

“Pitiful. You couldn’t even produce a passable half-breed. I will not accept this.” He shoved the crying infant back into Iselda’s arms with a disgusted noise.

“Please your lordship, this is your daughter’s child... human or not-”

This is not a child, it is a curse!” He whirled to face Iselda who now cowered as he loomed over her. Just as he seemed about to strike out at her he stopped, and turned back towards the door. “Just...get rid of it.”

The door slammed shut with a foreboding clang. With tears in her eyes Iselda looked down at the baby, who stared back with large blue eyes and a full head of raven-black hair.

“Where’s my daughter!?” The strange sudden cry of Ardora startled Iselda out of her thoughts as she turned to the woman struggling to sit upright with tears streaming down her cheeks. Iselda moved to put the child in her arms but at the sight of the infant Ardora recoiled with a shriek. “That’s... that’s not her! That’s not my child! Where is she, where is my daughter?!” Her strangled cry turned into a moan as the hysterical woman flopped back onto the bed. “I want my real daughter! I want her back... where is she Iselda?”

“Ardora... It will be alright. You’re just tired. Your father will come around, you’ll see.” Iselda wasn't really sure if Ardora could even hear her. She smiled sadly as the baby curled a finger instinctively around her thumb.

“No... no no no....” Ardora moaned, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way...”

Iselda sighed quietly as she lowered the baby into a nearby cradle. Ardora was merely suffering from the strain of a long delivery coupled with the cruelty of her callous father. Things would be better in the morning. When both mother and child settled into sleep, Iselda made her way to her own adjoining room, and slept. And as she slept, a very strange dream came upon her.

She stood ankle deep in warm golden sand that stretched as far as the eye could see. The landscape rolled in wind-sculpted dunes that reminded her of the waves of the Golden Waters.

Iselda Nahettia.

With a startled jerk, Iselda whipped her head to the side to find a small golden bird perched upon a single bone-white branch. It stared at her with shockingly golden eyes and immediately the woman felt her knees weaken. This was no bird. The tiny creature flitted its wings and tilted its head as she nodded blankly. “Yes... I’m Iselda.”

Do not be afraid, human. I come to give you a most noble and urgent task.

Iselda sank to her knees in the sand, staring up at the bird. “I don’t understand! Who are you? What are you?”

Unimportant questions. The voice echoed in her mind with the slightest hint of irritation. Take the child to the home of her father. You will leave the child then.

Iselda frowned. Separate the child from her mother? “But why?”

With a sudden agitated squawk the bird flitted onto the sand in front of her. There is not enough time to explain! You must save her!

“Save... save her? From what!?”

You must ensure she lives. She must not die.

Though the body of the bird was very small, the words it spoke seem to expand larger and larger in Iselda’s own mind until the final words reached a terrifying crescendo.


In the darkness of her room Iselda barely managed to stifle her shriek as her eyes shot open in the dark. The dream was already fading from her mind leaving only the sudden and unexplainable feeling of terrible urgency. The baby... she’s in danger! She knew not what made her so sure of this fact, only that something terrible was about to happen and she had to stop it.

With a thundering crack she threw the door open to the adjoining room which was surprisingly still and quiet. Had she expected Saluz’s men to be poised above the cradle with swords? It was then she caught sight of Ardora on the other side of the room, obliviously leaning over a large washing basin full of water. Iselda’s eyes scanned the empty crib with growing horror.

“Ardora! Ardora!” She ran to the woman who seemed almost in a trance, ignoring her panicked shouting.

“No more crying... no more...” She murmured quietly before Iselda tore her from the basin with a sudden surge of strength.

With trembling hands Iselda leaned over the basin and drew the infant out from under the cold water. Her silver necklace shimmered as it dipped into the water and glistened in the light. The child grabbed a-hold of it, coughed a little, and began wailing.

Ardora sat on the floor watching with hazy blank eyes as Iselda held the child close, and fled into the night.
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Re: Elsewhere Tales

Postby Cailin » February 22nd, 2011, 1:43 pm

“Long ago, when the deep stone was still resonating with the thrum of Moradin’s great hammer-”

“Papa, did Moradin really have a hammer?”

Belham looked down at the little blue-eyed dwarf on his knee. He smiled, eyes twinkling in the fire-light.

“That’s what they say, my gem. Now, Moradin-”

“Was it really so heavy that no mortal could lift it?”

A soft sigh escaped the dwarf as he closed the story-book. “That is indeed the tale.”

Arora’s eyes widened. “Not even you!?” She gracelessly slid off his lap and tumbled onto the rug in front of the fire with a tiny cry.

Belham smiled at his daughter and shook his head. “Not even me. It takes someone special to wield a divine weapon such as that.”

Arora’s lips pursed thoughtfully. “Why?”

The dreaded and frequently uttered question. Her father scratched his head. “Well... I don’t understand it very well, but they say one can only truly hold the divine in one’s spirit. So it stands to reason that Moradin’s hammer could only be wielded by someone with a strong enough spirit to do so.”

The little dwarf nodded. This was an acceptable answer.

“Then when I grow up I’m going to have a hammer too!” She declared, her eyebrows furrowed with determination.

Belham patted her head firmly with a grin. “Aye child. If anyone could, it would be you.”
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Re: Elsewhere Tales

Postby Eric Holland » February 23rd, 2011, 8:06 pm

Far beneath the hard crust of Faerun, our adventurers continue in their struggle against Arath. As politics and intrigue fill their days, they continue onward unaware of immediate changes on the surface.

Deep in the desert of Calimshan a small boy wanders among the cacti carefully plucking fruit and placing them gently into his well laden bucket. He shuffles akwardly with the big bucket and thinks about how he cant wait to be big like his father and the other zihaya.

Pausing to take a breath the boy adjusts his clothing. His thick dark robes wind around him in fitted layers that protect him from the sun and sand. Brillaint dyes from dark purple roots lend color to clothing that is lovingly adorned with intricate needlework. Pride swells as he runs his fingers over the bumped texture of embroidery along the hem of his outer robe.

Unfastening the halia from the side of his leather hat, he lowers the protective covering around his nose and mouth and begins to snack on a sweet tunis fruit. Juicy and firm the fruit explodes in his mouth with satisfying moisture. He eats carefully so as not to waste a drop of the life-giving nectar. Turning to face away from the beating sun, the boy admires his home in the distance as he eats. Carved into a mighty sandstone cliff Grae-Holuria, the stone kingdom, houses nearly three hundred people. Beautiful reliefs adorn the face of the cliff where dozens of entrances enter the rock wall and tunnel deep into the network of chambers that house his entire tribe.

As he watches, the boy notices that a few of the entrances are closing. Heavy stones roll in to place to cool the foremost rooms or protect from the elements...more of the entrances are now closing. Lightness and agility, signature attributes of his people, bring him to the balls of his feet as he whips around. A second of hesitation from the young boy, then resolve takes over. A half eaten tunis sits on the dry ground beside a full bucket of fruit as the young harvester abandons several months worth of fresh fruit and sprints toward home with all of his strength.

Dolom, the sandstorm, rides on his heels with the speed and shriek of a thousand eagles. A full two miles stand between him and the protection of Grae-Holuria; a daunting talks for small legs that do not cover ground quickly. He is halfway to his goal, and safety, when the blistering cloud crests over the final ridge of dunes surrounding the Stone Kingdom and descends upon the young Calimite. Replacing his halia the boy tries to press onward churning his legs in the drifts of loose sand that pile up all around his feet. He blinks furiously fluttering his long lashes against the stinging sand. Behind those lashes dark black eyes fill with fear as the boy stumbles, landing softly and soudlessly on ground. Sand piles around him as his strength flees.

Small thumps resonate through the sand and mix with screeching winds. Strong hands grab the boy and pull him quickly from the dune forming around his collapsed body. Through bleary eyes the boy looks up to see his father standing tall in the raging storm. Courage and determination carry the two back to the safety of the stone fortress. Congratulations are offered to the father who risked everything by challenging the deadly sandstorm. The young boy's mother weeps quietly in the corner as she clings fiercely to his small body. The boy is also crying and tries to apologizes to her about the fruit.
It is not long before the congratulations die down and silence falls over the crowd. Whispers pass between the Zihaya about the how fierce the storm is. The consensus is universal. "Akadi is angry."

Wild winds shock the entire kingdom of Calimshan in a sudden outpouring of chaos and fury. As the elements grow unpredictable, nomadic tribes in southwest are hit hard as entire caravans are buried overnight. Hundreds are lost forever on remote paths deep in the badlands. Raging winds gather heat and dust in this arid landscape and then spread. Northward, Eastward.

With strength and fury the winds rush out across the face of Faerun tormenting and destroying plants, animals and peoples. The destruction that hails forth descimates crops and lays open the stores of years past. Hearts are broken by the hunger that will rule for years to come. Dry air laden with dust covers the Dragon Coast as blasting winds spread toward the Sea of Fallen Stars. The hot desert wind mixes with tumultuous cold air from the sea unleashing hurricanes that sweep both coastlines. Wind mixes with water and its power seems to ignite the waves to ruining purpose. As the hurricanes batter ships above, maelstroms conjured by some senseless power carve the depths, shattering the ecology beneath the waves. Lying stranded, battered, and baking on unforgiving beaches the smallest fishes and the greatest monsters of the deep gasp their lastpainful breaths. They die marooned upon the hot earth, abandoned by their own element.

Wind continues northeast beyond the Sea, slicing through Aglarond and entering the borders of Thay and Rashemen. Temperate climates become arctic and arctic regions beyond the great glacier are frozen solid within hours.

All along the continent of Faerun, people cry out to their gods. “End the madness!” “Cease the destruction!” “Pity upon the helpless!”

Mighty tornadoes churn the earth in places they have never touched. Century old oaks are torn from their roots and cast aside with a callous display of raw power. Above, the cries of many echo through the astral plane. Below, the cataclysm unfolds with no second guess or hesitation.
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Windlashed: The Legend of Cpt. Kaz Dunlin

Postby Cailin » February 28th, 2011, 12:24 pm

There is almost no warning before it happens. There is only a scent in the air, the tingle of ozone bubbling and popping on the tongue. Kaz Dunlin barely has time to crinkle his nose before the sky darkens and the ship lurches, boards groaning and splintering at the sudden force.

“Hells and damnation!” He is nearly thrown against the wheel as he barks out orders in between curses. The halflings scurry to secure ropes and ties, but already several crates of residium have been lost overboard. The sky has become a dull grey haze of swirling matter, causing the stabilizing magic on the airship to sputter under the added strain. The ship rocks on the current of air, tipping back as if riding an impossibly steep wave. Everything crashes around the captain who clings to the wheel with a shout.

“You call this a storm?!” He bellows, unsure which particular god or goddess he’s offended this time. “I’ve passed wind of my own mightier than this!”

Thunderstrike trembles in response, now careening down the cascade of wind with sudden speed. Kaz pulls at the wheel in an attempt to regain control of the ship, to wrench it away from the jagged peaks which have suddenly come into view.

A terrible shuddering crack echos through the vessel as the mainmast cracks, torn off the ship as though a great giant were tearing and twisting the leg of an animal it wished to consume. Kaz is struck with a sudden sensation of deja vu as the mast vanishes into the tempest engulfing them. Only this time, instead of escaping the maw of a massive sea-beast, it seems as though the sky itself wishes to lay waste to the mighty airship and its crew.

But Kaz Dunlin is not content to meet his end at the mercy of a little wind. With a determined grumbled series of swears Kaz pulls out a single-eye goggle and snaps it over his good eye. He places his hat on the table beside him and nods to Grosh, who has just appeared in the doorway looking only moderately haggard.

“The right wing is bent up,” Grosh snorts, holding onto the wooden doorway with one hand to keep him stable. “There’s no way to get the ship to change course.”

“Yarr...” Kaz grins. “That’s where yer wrong.”

It’s a tight fit, uncomfortable and cramped, by the sheer force of his own stubbornness Kaz manages to cram himself into the newly repaired (halfling-sized) flying machine. The protective cover won’t fit over him; Grosh tears it off with little effort.

“Yarr, you’ll have to push me over the side, this glorified kite doesn’t have any take-off propulsion yet!”

Grosh raises an eyebrow but with the perilous rocky spires growing ever closer, he doesn’t argue. With a bellowing cry, he hurls the craft over the edge. Kaz disappears in an instant, hurdling through the air around the massive Thunderstrike as the winds attempt to tear the small craft apart. Stinging cold air whips the captain’s face as he reaches the downward-tipped bow of the ship. Taking careful aim he lets loose a bolt which embeds itself deeply into the bow, connecting his vessel and the ship with an arcane tether. With a satisfied smirk he jerks the controls upwards while activating the emergency slow-chute.

Thunderstrike turns ever so slightly up, and shifts with a great groan to the left. Kaz hopes it will be enough.

The sound of splintering wood, bursting rivets, and warped metal meets with the rumble of earth and stone. The ship has lodged itself firmly between two peaks of jagged earth, causing it to be stuck fast against the storm’s rage.


It takes two full days for the scouting party to find Kaz’s glider crammed into a crag of rock not far down in the lingering clouds. Prying Kaz out of the craft takes three halflings, a fire genasi, and one large minotaur with a pry-bar.

After surveying the extensive damage to the ship, Kaz sets the crew to work freeing them from the two mountains which had inadvertently saved their lives. Mining picks and Grosh’s taskmaster skills makes the work swift.

Returning to the helm Kaz retrieves his hat, and pops out his glass eye to give it a thoughtful shine. That storm had nothing to do Umberlee’s personal vendetta against him. He mused the point a little while catching his reflection in the shiny glass orb. At any rate, he would have to talk to Grosh about developing a larger glider because Kaz was absolutely, positively, resolutely not going on a diet.
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Iselda's Letter

Postby Cailin » March 12th, 2011, 10:59 am

Dearest Arora, I pray one day you’ll forgive me for the confession that follows.

When I told you that your grandfather Saluz Keshali had been responsible for your near-death and the death of your mother... I had only partially been telling the truth. The truth is something happened to your mother after you were born, something awful and dark. Whether it was your grandfather’s disapproval or her own despair that drove her actions I cannot guess, but it was her I saved you from that night... not Saluz. Had I not walked in on her that night she would have drowned you in your bathwater. I stole you away to save you from your mother’s madness and your grandfather’s cruelty, for he wished you dead and made that very clear.

I never meant to lie to you, but when I found you all those years later in such fragile condition... I felt it was not the right time for the “whole” truth. Now I know I made a grievous mistake that I hope someday you will forgive me for. You are bound for greatness even I cannot fully understand, but I know in my heart it is so. I can die in peace knowing you are out there to make the world a brighter place, and that you now know the truth.

May your heart always be full of wisdom, faith and love.
Iselda Nahettia

Keeper slammed the book shut.

Impossible. Iselda couldn’t possibly have been keeping something like this from Arora for so long. Keeper shoved the book back into his pack, suddenly angry with both himself for his damned curiosity and with Iselda for placing such a burden upon them both. The sudden knock at the door startled him and he nearly jumped off the bed as Arora let herself in. If he had a heartbeat, it would have been racing.

Arora smiled softly, seemingly oblivious to Keeper’s agitation. “Keeper, are you busy?”

“Not presently.” His voice was carefully controlled. Arora flopped on the bed unceremoniously, staring up at the ceiling.

“Maybe Bahamut made a mistake.”

Keeper turned slightly, watching the dwarf wipe a tear out of her eye.

“What makes you say that?”

She sat up slowly, brushing a stray hair out of her face. “Everyone in my life seems to slip away when I’m not looking. Mother, Father, Elsin, Iselda, Deomin...” Hot tears sprang anew. “... even Arath.”

Keeper felt the cold stone of guilt settle in his core. “You haven’t lost everyone.”

Arora sighed, “No... but that’s not the point. I know people die, Keeper - even more so when the calling is so great. I just...” she sighed, her hand drifting back up the the Champion’s Code around her neck. “I'm not strong enough. I lose sight of things and let my emotions get the better of me.”

“Some would call that degree of loyalty a strength, not a weakness.” Keeper remarked carefully.

At this, Arora shook her head. “Loyalty is all well and good, but what if it gets in the way of the mission? What if I have to choose between keeping my friends safe and stopping Arath?”

“No one who calls themselves your friend would ask you to make that choice.”

Arora smirked. “Have you forgotten? I’m Arora, and my friends don’t have that kind of luxury. My heart is just as stubborn as my head.”

Keeper placed a large metal hand on her shoulder gently. “Indeed. It’s quality I have come to admire in you.”

Arora smiled sadly. “For all the good it does me. I just makes me all the more weak in the face of loss. What good am I to Bahamut if I can’t be counted on to make the hard decisions when the time comes?”

“Arora,” Keeper’s voice turned stern. “Devotion is not weakness.” He turned to face her fully. “It is not selfish to hold the things you value close to your heart, and if the worst should befall us... in your heart we will always remain.”

With a sudden chuckle, Arora leaned in to hug the huge construct tightly. “That’s... surprisingly poetic.” They stayed like that for a few moments, until Arora’s tears had faded. “You’re a true friend, Keeper.” She stood to leave, and patted his massive shoulder. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Keeper merely nodded. ”Goodnight Arora.”

When the door closed and Arora had disappeared down the hall Keeper snatched Iselda’s journal from his pack once more.

“I’m not cut out for this... everyone in my life slips away...what if I have to choose?”
“No friend would ask to you make that choice...some would call that degree of loyalty a strength...devotion is not weakness...

“You haven’t lost everyone...”

A sudden image of her teary eyes flashed in his mind, and the dread that had been lurking in his gut suddenly lurched to the surface. He stared at the book with quiet hatred. He had sworn never to let Arora come to harm, and this could very well be thing that broke her. He could not let her return to the broken woman of the past, the fallen paladin. He could not lose her.

“For your sake.” His harsh whisper broke the stillness as he walked to the fireplace, and threw the book into the flames with disgust. Keeper, you’re a damned coward.
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Stoyla's Escape

Postby Cailin » April 17th, 2011, 12:35 pm

“Hold her down!”

All throughout the chamber echo violent sounds of struggle, straining of bonds and gnashing of teeth.

“Let me go! Get your hands off of me!”

Torches flicker with magical arcane flame, and the whole room is lit with a warm glow as three scarlet-robed mages struggle to retain control of a frantically flailing tiefling.

“Her hands, damnit! Hold her hands!”

The chamber is lined with rows of ominous reclining wooden tables outfitted with various straps and restraints, all etched with magically infused runes. As the men try to force the struggling woman onto one of the inclined benches an explosion of sparks and sulphur strikes out at them, burning the eyes of one and the face of another. The third figure careens backwards into another table as her strong tail whips out across his body followed by a swift, brutal kick from a talon-clawed foot. Blood is everywhere, and the horned girl doesn’t linger. She bolts towards the nearest exit, a trail of embers smoldering in each footstep. She’s keenly aware her only advantage here is that they had underestimated her. There’s no counting on that happening a second time.

Her heart is racing as she clamors down the spiral staircase. Hard claws clack against the cold black marble but it is drowned out by the thunderous beating of her heart. As Stoyla runs she’s sifting through her pack, plucking at vials by sense of touch alone. A fireball soars past her horns and she ducks down a corridor into darkness.

“Come on... come on where are you!?”

The sound of feet moving down the stairs is growing louder, the light from their torches is beginning to fill the pathway. She’s sifting through her bag, clutching vial after vial, cursing with frustration and fear. She bites her lip and yanks the cork out of one, dumping it over her vibrant red hair as her figure morphs and twists into shadow until there is nothing left of her at all.

Suddenly a face appears around the corner staring straight at her.

Like a spotted faun in a hunter’s sights, she freezes - still as death. Her heart is beating so loud now she’s afraid they can hear it even in the silence, but the brow on the Imaskari’s face furrows, his eyes dark and hollow as he scans the narrow passage for any sign of her.

She closes her eyes with relief as he moves away, and only after they are gone for a few more beats does she let out a slow breath. She has to get out of here, she has to tell.... someone! Anyone!


Her heart skips a beat. The voice echos from all around her but she knows her brother (or what was her brother) is not far behind.

“Everyone’s got to play their part Sister! Even the young willful ones like you!”

A hand appears suddenly out of the darkness in front of her, clutching at her neck. She stumbles back with a shriek as another tiefling emerges from the shadow, a dark clawed hand hand wraps around her throat before she has a chance to regain her balance. His eyes burn with an eerie dark fire that makes her stomach churn.

“Reign! Please! I-” But the words are wrung from her throat as she’s lifted to the tips of her toes. He smiles at her but the gesture is hollow. His fingers press in with sharp claws on her trachea as she struggles to pry his hands loose.

“Arath’s not so bad, once you get to know him.” Reign tilts his head as he smiles, so sure in his victory that he doesn’t expect Stoyla’s sudden scream of movement.

Her claws rake into his arms and he howls in pain, throwing her against the stone wall with brutal force. “The headmaster... isn’t playin’ with a full deck these days.” She wheezes, clutching her bruised throat while she digs in her pack for one last thing.

“Stop playing around Sister. It’s time to grow up and be responsible. Come along.” The taller male tiefling stalks towards her, holding out his hand.

Stoyla struggles to stand. “Stop...calling me that!” Her fingers close around something small and round while the other hand grasps the hilt of the weapon hidden at the bottom of her satchel.

Before he can answer, her arm strikes out in a wide arc, sweeping across his neck with a wild violent thrust. Runes on the dagger glow and sizzle as the wound explodes in dazzling flame. Bits of charred flesh scatter all over the hallway filling it with the stench of brimstone as Stoyla turns and tears down the hall.

He isn’t my brother anymore. With tears in her eyes she flings a tiny glowing orb onto the wall with her last ounce of strength. It doesn’t matter where it will take her, as long as it is far away from his screaming.
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Re: Elsewhere Tales (SPOILERS: Ep 62)

Postby Eric Holland » April 19th, 2011, 5:19 pm

Dark waters swirl in the middle of an empty underground sea as the Lady of Water makes her way across the infinite expanse of the Elemental Chaos. Apprehension harries her as she travels, trying to shake the incredulity of what has happened. She had never expected to become so involved in Deomin's undertaking, but when he died she made a choice. Consequences are inevitable, she just never wanted to come back to this place. Invasion? Who would have thought? Maybe its better that she did answer his call.

The Lady ventures deeper into the sunken trenches that cover the sea floor as fear growing inside her mind thickens. Like the dark water that infiltrates and obscures her senses, fear isolates her, pressing her to the edge of paranoia. Shadows lurk in every jagged crevasse and every wave that softly brushes her face feels like the stifling caress of the power she flees.

Life in the material plane advanced under the protection of the primal spirits that rule there. In Toril she had no reason to fear the gods and like many, she worked in collaboration with them to ensure peace and prosperity in that world. Here in the Chaos she had no such protection or hope for the future.

A deep voice like the rumblings of an ancient kraken flows by her. She can feel invisible power as the water itself responds to the solid sound.

"My lady. You have finally returned to me." The voice is laced with sarcasm and anticipation.

After days of flight seeking the deepest and darkest water, Istishia, Primordial lord of water, has found her. She senses movement about her but is unable to see anything in the dim and the murk.
With ghostly calm the pale green form of Istishia rises from the depths clad in his pearlescent armor, eyes shimmering white with the smoothness of pearls. A final thought crosses her mind that the obscurity of this place could not conceal her presence from him for it mirrors the darkness of the Water Lord's cold black heart.
Shadowy forms at the fringe of her senses twitch and flash before glass nets envelop her. Once more begins her servitude as consort to Istishia.
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Simple Explanations (SPOILERS: Ep 63)

Postby Cailin » April 22nd, 2011, 12:11 pm

Stoyla smiled broadly as the party crowded into her cluttered, stuffy engine room. She was so proud of her baby, and now they would actually be able to understand just how completely stupendous Thunderstrike had become. With an eager glint in her eye she motioned the group closer to the arcing light around the arcane coil in the corner of the room. This is it Stoyla, time to wow ‘em!

“Magic’s always been more like a puzzle, ya’know? Put that piece here, this piece there, shave of the rough bits and presto-chango you’ve got bonafide magic doin’ just about anything you can put your mind to. Most people just don’t think big enough, or maybe they think too big and can’t hold it all in their heads at one time. Not me though. Take those sails for example. Yeah they make the ship go zoomin’ around but that got me thinkin’, why should a ship be limited like that just ‘cuse it’s a big honkin’ boat?”

If she had been paying much attention she may have noticed Brandis’ eyes glazing over and Kaz Dunlin’s sudden confused snort which he covered with a thoughtful cough. Wrenn leaned forward with interest, which spurred her on as she began gesturing to schematics on the wall which depicted seemingly random symbols and scribblings with no particular rhyme or reason to them.

Stoyla scratched the top of her head, untangling a lock of vibrant red hair as she did so. “Anyhow,” she continued, “thanks to me this fat baby can be anywhere you want in the blink of an eye. Well obviously it takes more than blinking, that would be dangerous! Hey that reminds me, you should probably learn how to work the teleporter in case I... you know." She paused, making a slit throat gesture with accompanying sound effects. "On account of the Headmaster, and all that.”

Brandis was at this point sported an expression that bordered on boredom and irritation. No doubt he was similarly disconcerted by the idea of losing their most valuable artificer, Stoyla mused. Hugh sported a look of intense concentration though the squinting could have been brought on by complete befuddlement or even myopia. Again, it was Wrenn who nodded excitedly for her to continue.

“So - you know how sometimes people scry on people and places?”

Hugh paled slightly. “Yes. It’s terrifying.”

Stoyla laughed, “Oh there’s nothing to be scared of! It’s like you’re pokin’ your head in the Weave, and since the Weave is... well... everywhere all at once, you can tap into that and if you’re clever you can peek at anything you want.”

Suddenly it became apparent that she was no longer speaking to Hugh or even aware of his presence.

“Teleportation is simply a more direct application of the “omnipresent” theory of magic. Now, everything has at least a tiny trace of magic in it. It’s how the weave is able to affect us, and how mages and the like are able to manipulate it. It’s in trees, rocks, air particles and just about gosh darn everything else! Imagine you put a binding arcane focus-stone on enough points of the ship to “pool” the weave signature of every sliver of trace magic existing on or around the sphere those load stones create. Now the “guide” - that’s me usually - just has to accept that signature and tell the Weave that this signature is returning to the Whole. The Whole is just a fancy term for re-integrating magical essence into the Weave.”

Kaz Dunlin had been edging towards the door during the entire monologue. With an apologetic grumble he made his escape claiming “important matters” required he be elsewhere.

Stoyla felt a brief pang of disappointment as the Captain left. It would have been nice if he had at least stayed to the end of the lecture. She giggled a little at the thought before beginning right where she left off as if no pause had occured. Now for the big finale, Stoyla!

“When you do this though,” she chirped brightly, “you have to let your arcane link wander a bit. It’s a bit like day dreaming. You have to see a place in your mind. Imagine it, hold it like you were trying to recall a memory or a special person. If you do it right, the Weave gets a little confused, snatches up the entire ship and everyone on it, thinking it’s your arcane essence, and deposits you smack dab where you were imagining!”

At this point only Wrenn maintained any sign of interest whatsoever. Stoyla didn’t notice.

Stoyla shifted slightly, absently drawing a little circle in the air. “Now... there is of course a very slight chance that if you lose concentration or think of something else partway through the process you could end up in two places at once. Well, half of you would end up in both, more likely. I’ve never tested it. Heptos said it wasn’t a good idea but I’m pretty sure he’s just jealous that my amazing teleporter makes his wingalings useless.”

Wrenn laughed, and Stoyla was filled with happiness even as the blank stares blinked back at her. Magic was awesome. Teleporters were awesome. And Stoyla was definitely awesome. Now everyone understood that.
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Negotiator (SPOILERS: Ep 60)

Postby Cailin » April 27th, 2011, 7:53 am

Linari wasn’t quite sure how they found her, but for once she was glad someone had been able to sleuth out her location. As per usual, she was drowning in Tekkil smoke by the time the curious group was presented at the flap of her desert tent (now set up in the remote regions of the Rauin desert). With a lazy sigh she stretched luxuriously and turned a heavy dark-lidded gaze towards her guests.

And what an odd sight they made.

“This seems like the beginning of some terrible joke,” she murmered with a smile while gesturing them to come in, “a deva, shadar kai, and an exiled prince walk into a gypsy queen’s tent...” She grinned and let out a small chuckle.

The pale-skinned, heavily tattooed man smirked back while his companions struggled to retain their wits against the smoke’s effects. “From what I know of your people, they are nothing to be made light of.”

At this Linari raised a perfectly arched eyebrow, her dark brown eyes glittering in the candlelight. “You are very knowledgeable about gypsies, are you?”

Intimately.” Zahar smiled, taking a few strides further into the tent. Heptos and Klethen were already trying to find their voices and clear the haze from their minds, much to Zahar’s disappointment.

Finally Heptos managed to pluck a collection of words from the smoke’s grasp. “Madam it is imperative that you aid us against Arath. He is-”

“Arath.” The gypsy spat. “He drove my people from Ulgarth. Why would I want to go back?” Linari’s golden voice turned icy as she stared at the deva. Klethen cleared his throat, no doubt searching for a “kingly” thing to say.

“You have a duty, Miss Cogano, to the people of Ulgarth, to your people as well. We have a plan to fight him and we need your help.”

Linari sighed again, more exaggeratedly than before, lifting her arms high over her head allowing a rather scandalous stretch. “You obviously don’t know very much about gypsies, Your Majesty.”

At this Klethen took a tiny step back, struggling to wipe the look of shock from his face. Zahar clucked his tongue quietly. Both Heptos and Klethen looked at him curiously.

“Leave this to me.”

Both diplomats seem to pale a bit at his words, but with a grin that could make a courtesan blush Zahar gently pushed the two bewildered men out of the tent.

Linari Corgano knew a good negotiator when she saw one.
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The Gypsy Queen (SPOILERS: Ep 66)

Postby Cailin » May 17th, 2011, 10:20 am

What is it about men that makes them so damn foolhardy? Frustrating though men may be, Linari has to admit it’s what she loves about them; gypsy men in particular. One wizard actually drops his wand when she whirls by him with a wink, only to lose his head a moment later as she brings her blade across his neck in a single graceful stroke. Fighting is like dancing, and it appears Brandis has already been exhausted by his partner. Linari frowns. He’s not a gypsy, but he very well could have been one in a past life. She makes her way over to him, slaying no less than five additional wizard thralls as she does. The gypsy queen cradles his chin in her palm, and brings the other hand across his cheek with a violent slap. “On your feet!” He blinks up at her as she yanks him forward to stand, giving him a half-smile as she notes the mordant blade which never left his hands. “Let’s dance.”

Arath watches the gypsy with calculating disdain. For her, the song comes to an abrupt end. Red-white energy pierces her chest with sharp barbs of arcana, tearing at her life-force. She stumbles, falling to her side against the ancient stone ruins. She looks up at the statue of a man with weapon raised aloft. A flicker of recognition lights in her eye, and she laughs with blood on her lips.

And then the gypsy queen died.
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A Confession (SPOILERS: Ep 66)

Postby Cailin » May 24th, 2011, 9:15 am

Thunderstrike’s new teleportation mechanism doesn’t give Keeper enough time to collect his thoughts. Suddenly they’re moments away from returning to the outskirts of Cormyr to rally the assembled armies. He’s barely even seen Arora lately; she’s been busily organizing troops and making plans for the last two days, and it’s been nearly impossible to catch a sliver of her attention as the day of the battle draws near. But he must speak to her. He may not have another chance and if the worst should befall them he doesn’t know if he can face whatever afterlife there is for him with such sin weighing on his conscience. Finally, he has neither the time to stall nor the patience to wait. Keeper barges into the communications room to find Arora pouring over inventory logs and trade manifests. She looks weary, but her eyes suddenly spark with new energy as she looks in his direction.

“Oh, Keeper! I thought you were one of the halflings... haha, imagine that...” Her voice fades as though she is already forgetting the joke. Keeper takes a tentative step into the room, closing the door.

“We need to talk.”

Arora smiles, shaking her head. “Can it wait? I still have four more logs to check over and-”

“No. It can’t wait.” There’s a slight tremor of fear in his voice and he’s terrified she can sense it, but Arora just sighs obliviously, pushing the logbooks across the table.

“Alright then... what is it? Did Stoyla try to upgrade you without permission again?” She smirks, but Keeper’s expression wipes the smile from her face. “Keeper? What’s wrong?”

She’s thinking it’s the upcoming battle that’s on his mind, but that’s only partially true. Keeper takes a seat next to her, propping his elbows on the table as he rests his forehead in his hands.

“It’s about Saluz Keshali.”

Arora blinks. She hadn’t been expecting that. Keeper’s behavior worries her, but when she tries to rest a comforting hand on his arm, he pulls away guiltily. Her brow furrows in confusion.

“Saluz? What are you talking about?”

Keeper lets out a frustrated grunt. “I’m talking about what he said to you, about your mother being the one who tried to kill you.”

Arora fights against the rapidly forming frown, her voice suddenly tightening with restrained emotion. “Lies spouted by a desperate man.” For a moment her eyes glisten as she pushes back the memory.

Keeper tells her the truth. She sits oddly still as Keeper tells her the story of Iselda’s deathbed confession, the journal, and the contents of the letter she had intended for Arora. He tells her how he succumbed to curiosity, and how he burned the letter in Deep Imaskar to protect her. They sit silently together as Arora processes each thought with a slight nod. But to Keeper’s shock, she doesn’t cry or scream at him. She doesn’t shout accusations or demand he leave her side forever. She just looks thoughtfully at her reflection in the polished wooden table.

“Iselda was trying to protect me too.”

Her words are so quiet Keeper wonders if he’d imagined them. But her head finally turns to face him, and her eyes meet his. She takes his large cold hands in her smaller warm ones and sighs.

“I understand why you did this. Thank you for telling me the truth.”

Keeper looks back in shock. This can’t be Arora. But her hands are definitely real as they squeeze his, and for one glorious moment he thinks maybe... maybe she really does understand.

Arora smiles warmly. “You’re my best friend, you were only trying to keep me safe like you always do. But I’m strong now, I don’t need protection anymore.”

I don’t need you anymore.

The sensation is something akin to having the floor drop out from under him. She doesn’t realize what either of them are saying. You were always strong, he wants to say, that’s not why I stayed with you, that’s not why I nearly died for you. Why can’t you see that? But he stays silent in the manner that Arora recognizes as affirmation.

Her sudden hug reminds him that he’s still sitting with her in the airship, anchoring him in the present once more. “Now, it’s time to go put a stop to this madness once and for all. Are you with me?”

Keeper nods. “Always,” and for the first time he’s unsure if he really means it.
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Postby Cailin » June 28th, 2011, 12:33 pm

“And then he picked up the seventh were-horse and ATE IT TOO!”

Shocked gasps and applause rippled through the small crowd gathered in the palace courtyard. Seldi Bluemantle stood atop a pickle barrel with hands thrown high above her head looking very pleased with herself as the children gathered before her stared up with saucer-wide eyes. Every time she told the story there was either one more horse or the horses were actually were-horses, or even vampire were-horses. The common theme remained however: Brandis ate every last one of them. One child had been particularly skeptical of Seldi’s story at first, which resulted in the tiny girl threatening to have Brandis come and tell the story himself. Now Seldi had them lining up to hear her stories in the courtyard each evening, eager to hear what epic predicament Brandis found himself in next.

“Oh! Tell us the one about Brandis and the Mad Marsh Monster!”

“No I want to hear Brandis’ Thousand-Orc Slaughter again!”

Seldi grinned wickedly. “Oh I have an even better story next! It all started when Brandis ripped the head off a-”

“That’s hardly an appropriate story for children.”

Seldi was suddenly plucked off the barrel and gathered into her father’s arms, who looked down at her with a mixture of exasperation and amusement. King Klethen Bluemantle was an older and wiser man now, wearing the regal cloaks of nobility edged in gold and blue with the Bluemantle crest emblazoned across his shoulders. The other children scattered like wild animals, leaving the little princess to her fate. Seldi squirmed out of her father’s grasp with a huff.

“It was only a story.” She said moodily, allowing herself to be hand-led back to the palace interior where a bath and supper waited. The king smiled down at her and gave her hand a soft squeeze.

“When it concerns Sir Brandis, a story is seldom just that. You’d best not take liberties with a life story that is not your own.”

“Then what are bards for?!” Seldi looked up at her father with large brown eyes full of defiance.

Klethen laughed softly. “That is perhaps a question better suited to High Lord Cucio.”

“Brandis uses out-of-tune bards as javelins.”

At that Klethen’s eyes widened as he stared at his little girl in her muddied frock and twin braids. “Gods above child, who told you that?”

Seldi simply shrugged, and bounded off towards the baths singing loudly.

Lute and harp just can’t compare to shrieking bards thrown through the air!”

Klethen stared after her in a state bemused shock.

By Bahamut’s grace, Arora. Hurry back soon.
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Victor Blackwood's Morning

Postby Cailin » July 5th, 2011, 11:50 am

Victor Blackwood wakes up each morning to a pounding headache which he attributes in part to his preferred method of self-medication. He blames the remaining ache on strange half-remembered dreams which grow more vivid and disturbing with each passing day. It’s getting to the point where a stiff drink almost isn’t worth the copper it costs to get him drunk. With a grunt he pulls himself over to the nightstand and watches as a quill moves to scratch hurried notes in a journal. Part of him wants to burn the damn thing, but the mysterious dreams compel him to continue. He can’t give up, not when he’s so close to uncovering their meaning.

Despite his best intentions it’s Noon by the time Victor stumbles downstairs and into the barstool across from Melinda, who kindly waives his bar-tab in favor of pretty words and occasional parlor tricks. “His port in the storm”, he calls her, though the line is as well worn as the soles of his shoes and has seen many more taverns and inns than Victor dares to admit.

A few hours later Melinda is dangerously close cutting him off, and he’s about to "argue" his case when Victor senses an immense source of power lumber into his consciousness. The old man isn’t much to look at, at first. But when Victor squints through the ale-haze he sees the armor, and recognizes the massive corrosive sword on his back. Only after he’s reached the bottom of the mug does he catch the tell-tale glint of a radiant scar and the peculiar taste of time lingering in the air around him. Victor keeps charming the buxom lass sitting next to him, but his mind is already wandering, probing and pushing until he’s nudged his foot in the door. The ale has made him even bolder than usual.

Victor’s mind snags on the image of a massive airship, a statue, and blade made of blackest shadow. It doesn’t take long for the pieces to fall into place after that. The maiden is still batting her eyelashes so he makes his move and starts showing her his peculiar talents by moving the drops of condensation from the glass up her curled finger, snaking up her wrist leaving a trail of prickling goosebumps. He’s suppressing a satisfied smirk at her blush when he can feel the old man making a move towards him.

The droplet bursts along with Victor’s concentration.

At least the old man has the decency to keep his mouth shut and walk back out the way he came, but it’s already too late; she’s spotted the battered old warrior and has spooked like a spring filly.

When the man returns, Victor has already taken up a small booth on the corner of the room. Alone. With a sigh he turns to the man and gestures to his empty cup. They both know how this is going to go before either of them even open their mouths.

Gramps buys him the cheapest gut-rotting swill in the place.

Luckily for both of them Victor isn’t sober enough to take it as an insult.
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Dreams and Lies

Postby Cailin » July 19th, 2011, 11:24 am

Everything is burning. The searing pitch-crackle of bursting blackened skin assaults the ears and nose as a man stands on a high mesa overlooking the inferno. His eyes turn to the sky full of roiling black clouds shooting flame-laced lightning, and the shrouded grey sun which meanders aimlessly, unaware of the carnage down below.

The man approaches a sundial, the shadow cast on its face is spinning forward as though time is rapidly speeding up, but the sun’s movements don’t match up. He reaches out to touch the dial when the earth shakes and splits. He falls screaming into the chasm opening up below him.

“Vic? Luv are you alright?”

He opens his eyes to find a nameless blond woman hovering over him.

“I... uh...”

Her eyes are full of worry, and with a flick of his mind he plucks her name out of the air.

He smiles weakly. “I’m fine...Carol.”

She relaxes a little and eases off of him, fixing him with a concerned look.

“You were screaming. I couldn’t wake you up.” Her voice is soft and sleepy, lilting with a gentleness that almost coaxes him back to sleep. Groaning, Victor rolls out of bed. His vision is swimming as he reaches out to the flask on the table in the corner. Obediently the tiny silver bottle flies to his fingertips. He presses the cool metal bottle to his lips and drinks deeply but the burn is harsh on his parched throat and he coughs dryly.

The dream is already fading when Victor feverishly begins jotting down notes in his journal. He has to remember as much as he can this time. They’re getting worse for a reason, he just doesn’t know what it is, yet.

Will it ever end?

“Will what end, Luv?”

He looks up and notices Carol hovering over his shoulder. She smiles at him curiously and only then does he realize he must have spoken aloud. With a dismissive shake of his head Victor smiles, letting the quill drop as her arms curl softly around his neck.

“It’s nothing,” he murmurs, taking another swig from the flask, “just a nightmare.”

His heart winces at the lie, but there’s nothing he can say to her that won’t sound like lunacy. He’ll send her home tomorrow and head off to the mill up North. In a rush of guilt he’ll promise to return to Carol when his work is done. Victor isn’t sure if its a lie...yet.
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Worse Things

Postby Cailin » July 19th, 2011, 12:43 pm

Being undead posed numerous problems for one such as Hasten, who lingered in the shadows of a world bursting with life. His stillness unnerved the living, he knew this. He had once toyed with the notion of mimicking the soft rise and fall of their breath, but the best he could approximate was a ghastly stuttering wheeze.

Hasten’s unusual appearance was similarly disturbing, though far beyond the normal revulsion reserved for the very ugly. His features and countenance reminded the living of their inevitable end, and that was a sin for which Hasten would find no forgiveness. Keeping himself hidden in the shadows was as much a courtesy as it was a method of self-preservation.

Meal-times had become less awkward after Hasten decided to stand off to the side rather than sit and stare at his companions as they ate. He had been fascinated by how much pleasure they seemed to experience from something he found so thoroughly repulsive. The grinding of teeth, the digestive fluids, the noises... Horrible. His expression must have been a similarly unappetizing sight, they way Arora looked at him during the first meal he’d been invited to. The way she had slowly put down her fork still made Hasten smile a bit.

Despite their camaraderie, there was no denying that Hasten was different from the rest of them. He was a far cry from the shambling marionettes of bone and skin, those that hungered endlessly for living flesh, and further still from the warm-blooded beings who embraced the breath of life.

Still, he surmised it was a great deal better than actually being dead.

"Hello Arora."

Arora started, even though it had been her approaching him he had given no sign up until that moment that he had noticed her. Not that it would have been difficult to hear the Queen of Ulgarth in her royal armor. Hasten turned quietly, regarding the small dwarf through a curtain of wispy dark grey hair.

"What can I do for you?"

Arora shrugged, looking a bit dejected. "I was hoping to sneak up on you for once."

At this, Hasten laughed. "I've ruined the game, it seems."

The dwarf shook her head, "I'll settle for hearing what it is our quietest quorum member was thinking about."

The revenant tilted his head thoughtfully. "I was contemplating the nature of death."

"Cheery subject, that."

Hasten smiled. "I found it rather reassuring."

Arora returned the smile and leaned forward against the railing. The sky was dark as dusk settled over the far off villages and farms below, but Arora could still make out a tiny windmill slowly turning in the night breeze.

"I think I know what you mean. When you consider everything a person can experience, death really isn't the worst of it."

"What do you mean?" His eyebrow raised slightly.

"It's just how the old saying goes... there are things far worse than death." Suddenly Arora let out a tiny gasp as her hand flew to her mouth. "Oh! No I didn't mean it like that!"

Hasten turned back to the darkening view of the horizon. "Far worse than death..."

Arora felt her heart sink, she looked down at the creaking floorboards. "Blast it, me and my big mouth."

"It's alright, your majesty. You raise an interesting point."

Arora raised her head to argue. "But I didn't-" She stopped suddenly, her voice dying into a sigh.

Hasten had already vanished.
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A Rude Awakening (Spoilers: Ep 76)

Postby Cailin » August 1st, 2011, 8:47 pm

Victor has never been able to remember how the argument started. He was young and petulant, Victor could have been screaming and shouting over some real or imagined slight, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was how the shouting came to an abrupt halt.

Victor watches his mother stagger backwards. She leans against the mantelpiece with a dazed look, as though she's been struck. He doesn’t understand why she stopped yelling at him, only that one moment he was experiencing the worst headache of his life and the next it was gone.

“Candice? Are you alright?”

He hears his father’s curious voice booming from down the hall and he’s stricken with a new terrible feeling of dread. He tries to help his mother to the couch but she’s far too heavy for his small frame. She sags and falls to the floor with a thud. Victor shakes her roughly by the shoulder, but she does not wake. Blood has begun to trickle out of her ear.


Suddenly he’s being dragged to his feet by his father. There’s nothing he can say to assuage his father’s rage. He’s beaten to within an inch of his life but nothing snaps his mother from her coma.

“You will never come back here.”

“No!” Victor pounds desperately on the door to his childhood home. “No! I didn’t mean to! I didn’t mean-”

Victor awakens from his latest nightmare to the blaring of magical alarms sounding throughout the entire ship.


He drinks deeply from the flask on the nightstand before wiping his mouth with his sleeve. It doesn’t take more than a sliver of his concentration to sense the pervasive gut-curdling shadow of death overwhelming the ship.

When he tries to reach further, to locate the Quorum, he pulls back slightly remembering his promise to Deomin. Luckily, he doesn’t need to wait long before Rowena flings open his door.

“Blackwood! Get your ass in the fight!”

Victor’s eyes widen as the Amazonian-built woman grips his arm painfully. With a strained smile he nods and allows himself to be half-led half-dragged into the hallway where a torrent of spirits flow through the halls towards the Lockdown Room. Rowena gestures to the horde with an expectant look. “What? No smart comment?”

Victor shakes his head. He’s still reeling from the necrotic energy saturating the room. Rowena grins, pulling out her short-sword as a spirit careens around a corner towards them.

“Well get to it Headcase!”

Victor smirks. Headcase eh? Not bad.
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Postby Cailin » August 14th, 2011, 2:30 pm

The blue scale fit neatly in Lief’s palm as he made his way towards the Sovereign Airship Thunderstrike. The cerulean scale glistened in the dappled light as he ran his fingers over its glass-like veneer. It had been kind for Master Deomin to gift such an extraordinary item to someone with such plain history as Lief. He blinked as he stepped out of the tree-line and into the bright sunlight. The scale in his hands glimmered brightly with an opalescent sheen as the sunlight touched its polished blue surface.

Squinting, he side-stepped an oncoming cart with nothing so much as an upward glance. Lief’s reflexes had become so finely developed that reaction was nearly instinctual. The reflection in the polished scale showed a man in his late thirties with a finely trimmed beard and tanned olive skin. Lief had shaved that morning with the habitual motions of a man who had been doing so for most of his life. His shoulders were broad like a farmhand’s and Elmo’s heavy armor fit with ease and familiarity. There were still times when he could not recognize himself in a mirror, however.

The airship hovered overhead casting a massive shadow darkening the path leading out of town. Rowena stood on the top of the boarding ladder, giving him a hard stare as he told her why he had been sent.

“If the Quorum wanted to send us a message they would have sent it directly.”

Lief did not miss the icy suspicion in her tone.

“Peace, Rowena. This is young Lief Fletcher. Or perhaps more appropriately, the 'formally young' Lief Fletcher.” Oseno smiled thin-lipped as he placed a hand on Rowena’s shoulder. “Do you really think Master Deomin would part with that scale if this young man weren’t worth some measure of trust?”

Lief looked down to the scale nestled in his palm. He had completely forgotten about it. Rowena snorted like an angry mare, but stepped aside. "Just keep him where you can see him."

Oseno made a small pleased noise and clapped Lief on the back. “But of course. Let’s get you to the captain, then.”

Moments later Lief found himself standing in the captain’s office of Thunderstrike. It was a modest sized room, though richly appointed with fine brass and copper fittings, deeply stained woods and a ornately-carved table with ivory feet. Kaz sat in the plush red chair pushing a tar-like tobacco substance into a rosewood pipe.

“Yar... the quorum does like to run off.” Kaz motioned for Lief to sit as he lit a long-stemmed pipe. “Nice of them to leave a note this time. Heh.” The Captain leaned back in his chair and propped his huge boots on the desk in front of him, taking a long slow drag from the pipe. “So he gave you that, eh?”

“Pardon, sir?”

The captain gestured towards the scale with a grunt.

“Oh! Yes, sir...”

Kaz watched Lief for a long moment, scratching his bearded chin thoughtfully as he exhaled a voluminous plume of blue-grey smoke.

“Yar... You know, I-”


The sudden booming voice of the half-giant Captain Ramus shouted throughout the room from a tiny stone on the captain’s desk, causing Kaz Dunlin and Lief to jump slightly.

“Aye Captain, speak yer mind.”


At this, Lief raised an eyebrow. “What sort of warning?”

He pocketed the blue scale quickly, feeling a sudden sense of dread creeping up his spine.
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Postby Cailin » August 24th, 2011, 7:46 pm

Arja’rok stood watching his enemy burn until there was nothing left but dismal grey ash. Only then was he content to leave the warmth of the pyre. The pronouncement of Two Deaths as One had come upon him in a wave of gratitude, an impulse he could not ignore. Long ago Arja’rok had learned to never ignore his instincts, this was *known*. So when he had come to one knee before the stranger who had brought him to life, not a word of protest was uttered by T’Shaal or any of the others in his rrakma. This was the way of the People, to strike out on their own when the moment came.

He watched the Wind move amongst his companions with quiet grace, neither subordinate nor commanding in his motions. There was a storm within his soul, yet he seemed to balance the chaos easily. Arja’rok nodded to himself. He was confident he had made the right decision. Indeed, he felt excited at the prospect of traveling with these strangers, so wildly unusual that he could barely begin to comprehend them and their companions.

Among the Traveler’s entourage: a psion who did not *know* himself, a man with no life inside him, and a woman of many lives yet none at all. Compared to them, Arja’rok felt quite commonplace.

It was a curious, but not all-together unpleasant feeling.

Once the fire had died down, he knelt and reached his palm into the warm ash.

“What are you doing?”

Still kneeling, the Githzerai turned his head upwards to examine the curious large-eyed dwarf who stood in sparkling snow-polished armor. Her lips curled up in an encouraging smile and Arja’rok returned it, holding out his palm to show her what he had collected.

The dwarf jumped back with a tiny startled noise as the Githzerai uncurled his long fingers to reveal a blackened molar. “That’s... that’s uh...”

“In remembrance of my fallen comrades.” He continued to smile softly as he slipped the tooth into a pouch on his belt. He held up his double-bladed sword and swept it quickly through the dying embers before smearing the ash clinging to his palms across the glinting blade.

“In remembrance of my enemies.”

The dwarf pursed her lips thoughtfully stealing a glance at the ash-smudged blade. “You remember your enemies?”

Arja’rok nodded. “To *know* one’s enemies is to know the weakness that exists within us all. Only by remembering them can we *know* the fate that befalls all who divide themselves.”

Large blue eyes blinked back the falling snow, a look of puzzlement flickering within them. Just as she seemed about to question the warrior further, he held up a hand.

“It is good that you are curious, but now is not the time. *Know* that we will continue this another time, if you wish.”

The dwarf sighed with a small smile. “Another time then.”

Arja’rok simply nodded, and joined the others as they began to break down the campsite.
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Victor Blackwood & Frida Veruth

Postby Cailin » September 16th, 2011, 12:05 am

Frida didn’t notice Victor standing in the doorway until he turned the next page of her book for her with a wave of his fingers. He wasn’t expecting her to glare at him, but Victor didn’t see any problem with a girl playing hard-to-get.

He flashed a warm smile, leaning against the doorway causally. “Hey. What are you reading?”

Frida frowned. “Your room is on the other side of the ship.”

Victor appeared to take this as some sort of invitation. Frida raised an eyebrow as the man sauntered into her room and sat in the chair next to her, leaning forward to take a look at the textbook she was reading.

“Immortality: The Broken Sequence. Sounds...heavy.” The book began hovering towards him slightly, much to Frida’s dismay.

The young woman scoffed, pushing the book flat against the table with a thud. “You could say that. I’m sure it’s quite beyond you.”

Victor grinned, leaning closer still. “Oh, but I’d like to learn. I feel like I could learn quite a lot from someone like you. I can be a very motivated student.”

Frida shrank back against the chair as Victor leaned over her. “I-I-I don’t think you should...”

He pushed the book out of his way with a telepathic nudge, taking an appreciative glance at her sudden blush as he did so. Victor smirked inwardly, this was going to be easier than he thought.

“Shh. Thinking is overrated.” He hooked a finger under her chin lightly. “Trust me.”

The next thing he knew, Victor was picking himself off the floor and trying to make sense of what just happened as his vision swam before his eyes. Frida stood across the room with a look of absolute rage, hands crackling with arcane energy.

“When Wrenn hears about this he is going to throttle you!”

Victor took a moment to rearrange his jaw with a click. “That’s funny... I was told differently.”

Frida snorted. “Well you heard wrong, obviously. I wouldn’t expect someone like you to understand True Love anyway!”

At this, Victor laughed softly. “True love? Man... Wrenn wasn’t kidding.”

Frida advanced on Victor with anger in her eyes. “What do you mean, ‘Wrenn wasn’t kidding?’”

Victor rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. “You going to hit me again, sweetheart?”

She shook her head warily, and Victor sighed, changing gears so suddenly that Frida felt thrown off balance by his sudden forlorn cast.

“Frida...You’ve got to cut him loose.”

Frida’s eyes widened in shock. “Wha-what do you mean?”

Victor let out another long drawn-out sigh, his eyes meeting hers with sudden intensity. “Wrenn...can’t be with you. But he can’t bring himself to call it off because he doesn’t want to hurt you. It’s... because his job. Being a with a devil is one thing, but being on the arm of one of the Dark Eight would put you in unimaginable danger... and Wrenn just can’t stand the thought of anything you coming to harm. So...”

“But I can take care of my self! I’m not in any danger!” Frida’s eyes were filling with tears as she spoke.

Victor shook his head solemnly. “You can’t ask him to take that risk. He loves you too much, poor bastard. It would kill him if anything happened to you, why can’t you see that?”

“He.... he...” Frida was now trembling. Victor strode over to her and took her hands in his, holding them comfortingly.

“Let him go, Frida. For both your sakes.”

Concern. Kindness. Sympathy. His eyes were shining with such strong feelings that Frida suddenly felt unsure of herself.

“But but I love him! Only him! I can’t... I...” Frida looked up into Victor’s eyes sadly.

“But you must.” He pulled her closer into his arms, letting her rest her head on his shoulder as he whispered in her ear. “He wants you to be happy, but it can’t be with him. Maybe someday, there will be someone who can be by your side and take care of you the way he never can.”

Whimpering, Frida sniffled. “He... he really loves me. I knew it! Of course he does! He wants to keep me safe even if we can’t be together... that’s how much he loves me...That’s why we can’t b-b-be...”

Victor nodded, patting her on the back. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

That seemed to be the final straw as Frida then dissolved into unintelligible gibbering tears, clutching Victor’s shoulders tightly.

Yeah, Victor thought to himself, I can work with this.
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Partners in Crime

Postby Cailin » September 18th, 2011, 1:13 pm

Cenaelae sighed quietly as she sat amongst the local tavern-goers of Hommlet. Like many others, she had been offloaded in a hurry as the ship was prepped for some sort of attack. It was nice to have her feet on the ground, finally. The half-elf tapped her toes idly against the floor idly as she waited for her drink to arrive.

“What’cha doing?”

Cenaelae’s eyes widened as she turned to see the young girl who had just sidled up to her on the bench. The girl looked up at her with huge brown eyes and a curious smile. The spark of recognition suddenly made Cena feel uneasy. This was the Queen of Ulgarth’s child, the princess.

“Aren’t you supposed to be with Oseno?” She tried to sound polite but disinterested, craning her head towards the door to find the doppelganger who was supposed to be watching the little girl. Be as boring as possible and maybe she’ll go away.

Seldi grinned. “I gave him the slip. It was too boring following him around and wearing a stuffy old cloak everywhere. I’m going to go throw rocks down the well, wanna come?”

Cena blinked. “I...don’t think that’s a very good idea.”

Seldi frowned, puffing out her lower lip. “Is too!” With a tiny huff the princess hopped off the bench and headed towards the door.

“Hey, hey! Wait!” Cena reached out, but the girl was too quick. Oseno would kill her if he found out Cena had let the princess wander off alone. She’d be kicked off of Thunderstrike, jailed, and probably executed! Quickly Cena downed her half-glass of honeyed wine and darted out the tavern door after the young girl.

She found her a few yards away stuffing pebbles into a pouch slung over her shoulder.

“We need collect more round ones.”

Cena halted, suddenly realizing that she had been lured out of the tavern by a child. Her cheeks reddened.

“We are doing no such thing! You’re coming back to the tavern and we’re waiting for Oseno!”

The little girl looked thoughtful for a moment, tugging on an errant strand of hair as she examined the smooth round stone in her palm. “Do you know about wafer-tumblers?”

Cena raised an eyebrow. “You mean... the locks? Why-”

“There’s a cabinet in the library with a wafer-tumbler lock.” Seldi dropped the stone into her pouch. “Uncle Hugh said if I could pick one in one minute he’d start teaching me how to work a disc-tumbler lock.”

“We’ll I’m sure he didn’t mean for you to go out and practice on other people’s property.”

Seldi frowned. “Well it’s hardly practice if I can’t get caught.” She grabbed the elf’s arm with a sudden bright expression. “Elves have good eyes, right? You can be my look-out!”

“What?! Wait! Shouldn’t we- Ack!” Cena was now being pulled through the street towards the Library of Hommlet by the Princess of Ulgarth. Oseno was nowhere to be seen.

A little while later Seldi burst out of the library, dragging Cena along with her. Seldi’s braid was singed and her dress was stained with bright purple splotches. They found a nearby barn and hid among the bales of hay, catching their breath. Seldi laughed as she held up the tip of her braid, still smoking faintly.

“Forty-five seconds!”

Cena raised an eyebrow as they huddled in the fortress of straw. “So...the braid and dress?”

“We...haven’t covered warding charms yet.” Seldi shrugged. “That’s probably that’s where they keep the ‘dirty’ books.”

Cena smirked despite herself.
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Maddock (SPOILERS: Ep 84)

Postby Cailin » September 23rd, 2011, 10:40 am

Maddock comes in at the third dusk of the day looking like she’s seen a ghost.

But I know something’s wrong when she orders the Stout.

Maddy hates Stout, even though it’s the strongest (and therefore most popular) thing we serve.

She doesn’t let me call her Maddy, though. I mean, I tried a couple times.

You know, to be friendly.

But Maddock doesn’t do friendly. Friendly isn’t a survival technique.

I guess it’s different for her, since I was born out here.

Maddock says I was lucky, but she doesn’t explain much more than that.

She doesn’t like talking about “before”.

I feel bad for her, so I bring her the Stout in a clean mug.

Ok maybe that’s not the only reason.

It’s dark and foamy as hell but there’s not much we can do about the temperature.

Warm beer at reasonable prices. That’s the unofficial motto of The Bone House.

She doesn’t look up at me, just throws a few bones on the table.

It’s been one of those days. She pulls down her bandanna to drink and I linger at the table for a moment longer than I should.

She’s got this tan line, or maybe it’s dirt. Everything below her nose is paler.

It’s goddamn entrancing.

“Not enough?”

Shit. She’s looking up at me.


“Heh, oh, no... it’s fine I just--”

Pull it together. Just gather up your dignity and be cool.

“How’s the beer?”

Somewhere a bartender is turning in his grave.

Shit maybe all of them are. One big collective palm to the face.


Maddock looks down at her beer seriously. “It’s warm.”

Her voice is stern, but there’s a sliver of a smile there.

I smile too. I hope it doesn’t look creepy.

Suddenly there’s a crash in the kitchen.


That makes 25 plates left. Someone is going to go home without their wages.

Maddock looks up at me expectantly and I clumsily snatch her money off the table.

Please don't notice my hands shaking.

“I... better go see to that.”

She nods sagely. “See ya around, Penny.”

I spin around and march back to the kitchen as fast as I can.

My heart is pounding in my chest.

Maddock knows my name.

I don’t know whether to feel elated or terrified.


I don’t have time to work myself up too much. When I come back out of the kitchen Maddock is nowhere to be seen. The mug is only half empty at her table.

Some poacher is already sidling over to it.

“Hey, where’d the ranger go?”

York shrugs as he wipes down the bar.

“Got dragged out of here by one of Gaz’s, I think. Real rough-like.”

I turn toward the door. I can hear faint shrieking, growing fainter.


I pour myself a Stout.

It’s warm and foamy and awful.

I may never see Maddy again.

Fuck it.

I pour myself a second one too.
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Postby Cailin » September 26th, 2011, 12:55 am

“Well you appear have three cracked ribs, multiple contusions and a fairly severe misalignment of the fourth and fifth vertebrae.”

Victor hisses in pain as Burin pokes at the swollen bruise at the base of his neck. “Easy, Doc.”

Burin smiles quietly. “You never did say how you got so banged up.”

“No, I didn’t.” Victor closes his eyes.

The headache is back.

Soothing magic is flowing through his shoulders and into his back, but the throbbing bright pain in his temples makes him flinch.

“Say...” Burin speaks softly as he reaches for another poultice, “did I ever tell you about the young man I used to know back in Albright?”

Victor groans inwardly, he can feel another sermon coming on but Burin’s heavy hand on his shoulder prevents him from rising.

“Clever lad, real popular with the ladies.”


“Problem was, he was a bit too popular -- never saw a man take so many beatings from so many angry husbands.”

Victor lets out a derisive snort. “Spare me the lecture, would ya?”

“What lecture?” Burin chuckles, “I’m just telling you a story. Sit still.”

The healer snatches up a roll of gauze and begins dipping it in a small basin of bluish fluid as he talks.

“So one day this fella sets his eye on the Marshal’s girl. His daughter, to be precise. Pretty young thing, blonde hair... sweet face. The daughter I mean, not the Marshal. The man was incurably ugly. Anyway... the affair lasts all of two weeks before the Marshal finds out about their trysts in the abbey. He locks his daughter away but she’s screaming and crying about how he doesn’t understand and how she’s in love with a capital "L". Marshal waits in the abbey for the boy to show up, and when he does he corners him, tells the boy there are only two ways out. First, he can marry the daughter, make an honest woman out of her. Second, he can take the beating of his life, and call it off.”

Victor raises an eyebrow, wincing again as Burin wraps the bandage around his back and chest.

“So, what did he choose?”

Burin’s smile fades. “He called it off. Ended up with a permanent limp, too. There wasn’t much anyone do for him. The real pity was the daughter though.”

“She didn’t take it well?”

“She killed herself.”

Victor closes his eyes again. “Oh.”

Burin shrugs. “The Marshal blamed the boy, of course. And the boy, well he blamed the Marshal.”

“And whose fault was it?” Victor feels the light flickering in his mind as the healing magic start to just barely push the pain out from behind his brow.

Burin moves to face Victor, suddenly fixing him with sharp, hard eyes. For just a moment Victor feels a surge of anger flicker between them.

“How should I know?” Burin says calmly, “I’m just a healer.”
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A Story

Postby Cailin » October 5th, 2011, 11:08 pm

This story starts in a small village, as these sorts of tales often do. Two proud parents sent off their boy to study at a prestigious training enclave. More accurate perhaps to say they were equal parts proud and relieved to see the blooming young psion sent off with his own kind. The sister came to visit every year on the boy’s birthday, then every other birthday... then a letter... and then...

The world moved on outside the enclave's walls. Meanwhile, the boy was called a prodigy. “Naturally gifted with telekinesis”, they said. “A real mind for minds.”

The tutors saw such a grand future ahead of him.

And that was how the story was supposed to go.

Only it changed.

It changed with fire... with lightning...

It fell between the cracks of the churning earth,

It drowned in the booming thunder.

A bright future lost In the chaos....

Smothered in darkness.

But he persevered despite his suffering. He clung to his future with raw, bloody fingers. The man he had become was strong enough to survive, even when his world fell apart.

Years passed. The wasteland allowed him no moment of rest. And all the while he searched for hope.

But just when despair began whispering in his ear...

The dream was frightening in its vividness because it had not been a dream, but a glimpse into another world.

And so the man set to work, reaching out to touch the world on the “other side”.

And then one day...

This story started in a small village, as these sorts of tales often do.

Only this time... things would be different.
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