Saturday, 23 July 2011
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
On the deck of the boat, Falling Rain and Kheralin were unaware of each other as they were both cloaked by their own respective charms and anima banner. Rain could see inside of the captain’s cabin that there was one man sat doing paper work. He was middle aged and was calculating things on an abacus. Rain made his way inside. He drew his hood up and concealed his features as best as possible. He walked up to the captain’s desk and informed him that the delivery is delayed. The captain had a look of worry on his face. But Rain had failed to notice that there was someone else present. Behind, Rain heard a large book close, and turned to see a man who was somewhat younger,
Episode 2 - River of Stars - Part 3
with a bald head, pale skin, spectacles, dark blue robes with white detailing, and a left hand that was gloved in cruel metal talons. The man adjusted his spectacles and asked how Rain knew of this, while also holding the door open for Rain to leave the cabin. Together they walked back out onto the deck and exchanged a few words. As they exited the cabin Kheralin watched them, before deciding that she should go down below deck.Back near the west gate, the yeddim were still in chaos. One had toppled over and men were being trampled by the oafish creatures. Cargo fell from their holdings, and a crate smashed open revealing the metal octahedron - the ancient weapon. Immediately it began to glow into life, the runes illuminated with essence, and the temperature around began to drop. Aisha ran forward, hurriedly trying to summon the whirlwind in the vain hope that she might get the weapon away. Dorn was behind one of the yeddim unable to see what had happened, and Light and Echo witnessed one of the guards sling their prone horse to one side. The guard was no ordinary man, as they saw him replace his helmet where his head should have been. The helm filled with cold air and vapour was exhaled from the armour. But it was all too late. The weapon activated. Back on the boat Rain and the man with the taloned gauntlet looked on as the town was illuminated by the weapon being activated. The man sighed and pushed up his spectacles on his pointed nose.
'So it seems that weapon was late as you said. No matter. At least it works. Saves me the trouble of raising this place to the ground.'
Rain made to leave, but this was to lure the man in to a false sense of security and turned just in time to see the bald headed man reach into his cloak, revealing a ring of pure black steel. The surface of it flowed with agonized, screaming faces. In a swift action the disc was hurled at Rain.
The taloned man activated his black chakram. Serrated blades extend all along the edge of the ring, making it resemble a buzz saw. With little effort the chakram was hurled indirectly towards Rain, with the blade moving impossibly to strike at him. Rain is just able to block it and send it up into the rigging of the boat, causing the chakram to slice through the ropes and wood, causing the sails to fall towards the deck.
The weapon activated as Light and Aisha fled for cover. Aisha leapt off, hurling herself away and into the river, reaching up just quick enough to grab her familiar, her companion kingfisher. Light however was able to outpace the blast. The weapon sucked in all the essence before hurling it all out once more. A growing field of whiteness rushed out. All flesh, all life touched by it was immediately nullified, transmuted, turned into the lifeless white chalky substance. Yeddim and man were killed alike. The ghostly soldier was unharmed by the field, but Dorn was still in the blast. The wall of energy surged towards the hulking barbarian. Dorn braced himself, and forced essence through his body, just as the energy wave hit and flowed over him, leaving his skin briefly smouldering. The wave then died away after 30 or so yards, leaving people standing still, now changed into lifeless material.
Rain activates his charm, Thunderbolt Attack Prana. Crouching, with essence coursing through his body, he leapt forward, his twin swords lunging forward like the fangs of a tiger. Golden essence rippled along the blades and cut into the robes of the taloned man. In response the anima caste mark of the man showed itself. It was a bloody representation of the same mark that Light bore, that of the sun at twilight. A wall of bloody streamers erupted up around the blood marked man, and this wall repelled the force of essence from Rain. However, Rain found his mark and took first blood. The death knight before Rain seemed impressed before launching another attack. On shore, Dorn noted the weapon was powering up once more. He could not risk the weapon once more activating and killing more people. He summoned all his power and charged forward to the weapon. His large, essence crackling fist landed upon the metal octahedron in a vicious uppercut. The impact caused an explosion of power, a shockwave of air being displaced as the weapon, with an ear splitting clang, and the weapon was launched up and away into the sky, quickly becoming a shining star.
Light raced to Echo and pulled him along as he made his way to the docks. Along the way Light spotted that all around the town's people were being attacked. The dead had come for them. Echo laughed it off as just his imagination, a manifestation of his fractured mind. But Light told him it was not imaginary, and to get a grip. He sent Echo off to help the others while he engaged the hordes of zombies to save the towns folk.Below deck Kheralin found that the ship was crewed by the dead. Zombies and the animated dead shambled around, tending to the ship or simply loitering. But then she heard above deck the ringing of metal. She knew a fight had broken out. She raced back up and called upon her essence to send her leaping at the death knight, bringing her sword down at him. But he effortlessly dodged away, and Kheralin's sword cut into the wood of the deck. The death knight launched the chakram again, causing it to ricochet between Rain and Kheralin. Kheralin dodged under the buzz saw, while Rain darted about, fuelled by essence, so that he was nothing but a blur. Rain leapt back, over the chakram, f
orming an arc of golden essence, grabbing the sails and throwing them to the deck. The chakram sought its target and sliced through the sails, rending them apart. From this cover of shredded material Rain burst forth, swinging viciously at the death knight. Though the death knight moved as if composed of a cloud of shadows and bats, Rain's swords struck home, revealing the soul steel armour beneath the robes of the death knight. 'I can do this all night, and my friend hasn't even broken a sweat!', Rain taunts, causing the knight to growl and launch the chakram again. Kheralin used her Monkey Leap Technique to vault upwards into the rigging of the ship, finding a vantage point from which to stand. She fired off a volley of arrows which burst into flames, lighting the sails. Below the undead crew came out onto the deck, moved to go ashore. But as the dead shambled off the boat while Rain once more dodged the soul steel chakram. Rain again and again called upon his Seven
Shadow Evasion technique, moving his head out of the way of the flying buzz saw. Anima banners had flared to full life, Rain's banner
manifesting in the form of a perfected androgynous golden humanoid [looking somewhat like da Vinci's vitruvian man], and the death knight's as a bloody mandala of screaming runes. Rain again strikes, channelling his willpower through his conviction, knowing that his opponent, a callous murderer, striking at Rain's own people must be stopped. Only the recently acquired soul steel blade in his right is able to reach past the death knights defences, and even then the damage is mostly turned aside by the death knight's sanguine shield.Meanwhile Echo ran to the docks, and along the boardwalk to the boat, now on fire with and with the undead shambling around ship. Echo let loose his short sword, flinging it towards one of the undead, before lunging forward with his great sword, scattering the undead and retrieving his sword from the immobile corpse. All then looked up as the sky was illuminated once more. Almost a mile away the weapon activated. A great sphere of essence expanded and then retracted, causing an earth shattering implosion, tearing the hillside apart. Many miles away the light of the blast caught the attention of another. In the blackened ruins of Wai'hl a lone priest looked up to see the star light of the weapon. With a small action he summoned a lone drake like spirit that flittered about. 'Send a message to my friends. I know where the Anathema are heading towards. The hunt must move to Khacin.'
Friday, 15 July 2011
Episode 2 - River of Stars - part 2
Red Echo and Dorn mounted up and with the other horses in tow raced off to to the river and the bridge down stream where they would meet the others. Meanwhile, noting that they were loosing daylight, Rain, Aisha, Kheralin and Light made their escape to a safe place outside the Shadowland. Before journeying anymore Aisha rested. She was able to sleep for a short while and allow herself to replenish her essence.
Echo and Dorn raced across the landscape, along what roads they could find. To their south was the river of Chi Alahan, and somewhere on the other side the others in the borderlands to the kingdom of Ashuriana. Echo and Dorn crossed small bridges and rounded hills and forgotten towers until they had to slow as there were people in the road.
Drawing closer they could see it was a gathering of locals, young and old, and they were stoning a man. The man was dressed in armour and the garb of the Ashuriana army. Dorn drew up to the villagers and demanded to know what they were doing. The oldest man there explained that the soldier had stolen food from their village and that he was from the rival kingdom. Dorn knew he wanted to ask the man some questions and asked the villagers to stop, but they refused. Dorn then bellowed in rage, striking a fearsome pose upon his steed. The villagers fled, and the soldier, who was bleeding from the forehead, thanked them. However, Dorn prevented the man from leaving, and knocked him out with a simple gloved backhand, before resting the soldier on one of the spare steeds.
Now refreshed and re-energized Aisha set about summoning another whirlwind, and once more used it to carry herself, Light, Rain and Kheralin off to the bridge. Her essence infused her body and her anima banner exploded into life, and the swirling winds lift herself into the eye of the storm, and also lifted the others up before speeding off across the landscape.
At the bridge, Dorn and Echo sat about waiting for the others to arrive. Dorn woke the soldier up with some water and tried to get some information out of him. They had the man bound so they had time to talk without fear of him running off. Dorn was able to find out that the man was a member of a mercenary force, the Rabid Wolves. He explained that they had been hired to get some weapons from inside the territory of Khacin. However, he little more and survived as he was a scout for the army and so was outside the main camp when the weapon activated.
Soon the wind picked up and Dorn and Echo could see a twister approaching, and at its heart a glowing being. It stopped nearby, having crossed the river, and from it came forth Light, Aisha, Rain and Kheralin. Now regrouped they continued questioning the mercenary. From him they worked out that the device was to be carried away by a group arriving on a yeddim. The circle then wondered what to do with the soldier. Should they release him, or hand him over? They agreed that he should stay with them, and that he would be best working for them. They cut his bonds and Rain handed over his damaged blade while Light gave Rain in return the black steel sword.
Now as a group the circle rode towards the next town, a port town on the river, called Sucha. The new recruit rode with Rain and as they traveled Rain spoke to the soldier, seeing the chance to explain his new religion.
At the town of Sucha they were able to enter with Kheralin's badge of office as a messenger of the kingdom. They had also already removed the livery of Ashuriana from the soldier. In the town Dorn, Light and Echo headed to the large inn near the docks to see what information they could find out. Meanwhile Kheralin headed to the town hall to speak to the other officers there and to find out what they knew. Rain accompanied her. Aisha went down to the docks to speak to the office of the Guild. Kheralin found out little more, while Aisha discovered that the yeddim had not arrived, but that there a few ships that had high security, which had annoyed the Guild as they did not want to hire any workers to load or unload the ship. Echo found out little more while Dorn and Light had taken to the fighting ring, and between them had made some money gambling on Dorn's fighting. Dorn was playing the drunken fool as Light worked the crowd.
Aisha and Rain headed to the inn and found Echo drinking alone, while they spotted Dorn fighting. Meanwhile Kheralin had spotted something strange. She had seen some shadowy being moving through the town. It leaned in on conversations and moved through solid objec
ts. It was intangible and unseen by others. Kheralin followed it and found that it headed to the farmland side of the town, and to the mausaleom. There the shade met another 4, and silently they gather before splitting up again. She continued to follow one that headed back into town and to the docks.
Rain left the circle and the inn, and headed to the docks, calling upon his anima to cloak himself in darkness. As he left the inn there was the sound of a horn and from across the river were three yeddim,waving the banner of a merchant Guild. They circle knew that one of these creatures carried the weapon, and so set about creating a distraction.
Aisha worked her alchemy, and made a few small fire crackers. These they handed to some childre that were out late at night, and paid them too throw them as the second yeddim entered the town. They did so, and chaos ensued. The yeddim lurched into each other and nearby buildings, sending their guard horsemen flying.
At the docks Kheralin had used her charms to simply walk by the guards. She made her way to the main deck of the ship, following the shade. There she could smell many herbs, such as violets and saffron, but also the stench of rotting flesh. On the boat, also hidden, was Rain. He stood at the door to the captains cabin and looked in. There he saw a middle aged man, sat with an abacus, dressed in fine robes. He had black hair swept back, and a fine black moustache and goatee. He looked up as if hearing something distasteful and sneered.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
[Bluebook] Exalted - A horseback discourse on the nature of priesthoods and weapons, as told by the exiled priest Falling Rain to a young mercenary survivor.
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A horseback discourse on the nature of priesthoods and weapons, as told by the exiled priest Falling Rain to a young mercenary survivor (whose words and responses have failed to make the historical record).
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“That sword I gave you. Do you see those markings? Do you know it is a priest’s sword? The immaculate faith of the Grey Tiger of Kachin is a martial one. Priests must be able to survive before they can minister, and that sword has been carried through both training and service.”
“It was forged for a task. In a way we are all forged for tasks, perhaps by our family, or by our conditions. Or perhaps we are forged by something we belong to. You, forged as a mercenary, I forged as a priest - both perhaps now considering our future paths?”
“It is a weapon and a tool. And whilst it once belonged to me, it now belongs to you. But we might choose to use if for very different things, you and I. Weapons are like that, are they not? It is important who wields them.”
“Perhaps Priests are a type of weapon: forged for a task, put to particular work. But what if they have been put to the wrong work, and by the wrong masters?”
“Priesthoods should have been the weapon in the hand of the people, the people being the material from which priests are forged. A sword of knowledge and truth raised against deception and arbitrary greed.”
“Instead I fear they have been turned against the people. As if you took the sword that I had given you, and turned it against me. No, I know you wouldn’t do that….but it is good of you to say.”
“In these times, the weapon now lies in the hands of spirit-kings and petty gods, and is used to cow the people. A noble sword, like this one you now hold in your hands, turned to petty banditry. Not to noble fighting, but a callous slaughter – like the one that claimed your comrades. Over time, such a weapon becomes notched and dull, poorly cared for, it rusts and becomes unreliable.”
“Perhaps it is time to cast the weapon back into the forge, and see what can be re-cast from its remains?”
“I hope this sword serves you well.”
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In order to indicate some of the reasoning behind Echo's stoic exterior, I decided to hint at his past. I assumed people would guess he was 'troubled,' hence I was gonna do a big reveal halfway through the game, but I'm sure everyone's way too impatient for that. :P
I feel the constant itch of my newfound abilities, and it is difficult to only sit and write. The itch does not dissipate in battle. It perpetuates itself.
I would have assumed I only imagined that priest when he appeared; though it is not usual for visions of my victims to be so animated, so purposeful. The barbarian saw him too, and so I am certain he did not just exist within my brain.
I have not had time to think on it. My dream recurred again the other night. It is so much similar to the dream I have had before, but there may be some things that are different. So I feel the need to write it again, then I can see it when I am awake.
It is short, only a recollection of that blood-strewn battlefield. More than a few years ago now, and I was foolish to let him out of my sight, to turn my back and focus on my enemies. In the dream I cut apart soldiers before me, letting their wounds spray crimson and relishing in their last cries as they fall to their knees. Another of them charges towards me and I jab a dagger into his hip; he slows and buckles over from the pain. I only have flesh wounds that sting and stain my skin. The fight is still raging, but there are less of them and more of us – I know we have won, and I can feel a steady smile creep into my lips as I watch my fellows stab, slice and hack at the remainder. Though in my haze of adrenalin I have forgotten about him. In those moments that I stopped to survey my victory, I might have turned to see him caught. He is distracted by one man, valiantly tearing him down, and approached quickly by another. He is a mere few feet from me, and I could intervene. No, he is suddenly speared from behind, I hear his characteristic yell and my head snaps back. The blood is choking from his mouth almost instantly as he drops to the ground, and I call his name, I am there in a split second. His attacker makes to leave; he trips and I take the opportunity to sheath my dagger in the back of his throat. He is dead, but my comrade is not yet.
His eyes are darting and flickering; I kneel by him and he only just recognises me, tells me that he cannot focus. I do not tell him he will be alright. He lies on his side, the point of the spear protruding from his chest. The red from his wound is soaking the grass around us. I offer to cut short his suffering, but we both know he is nearly gone. He does not say anything. He lifts his hand to brush mine, and I clutch onto his fingers. Then he slips away.
I always waken at this moment. Reading back upon it, it is the same as always. Countless times and I pray for something new, a word from his mouth or even a smile, in the dream. I tell myself that when it happened, he told me something profound, or even meaningless. But surely, if he had, then I would recall it another way.
I feel anger when I wake up from the dream, even anger directed towards him, because he could have said something, even the smallest word. He left me empty.
His attacker is dead. This means nothing. He would have died on that field even if I let him walk.
I have lost a hundred comrades and been complacent. It is the only way to be. I can show the necessary solemnity, but I cannot care, whether they are dead or alive. I made a mistake in having a friend. I do not mean to make this mistake again.
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
- 1. Nine Inch Nails - Right Where It Belongs (5:07)
2. Nine Inch Nails - 12 Ghosts II (2:17)
3. Nine Inch Nails - 13 Ghosts II (3:13)
4. Track02 (2:53)
5. Linkin Park - Session
6. Daft Punk - The Son Of Flynn (1:35)
7. Nine Inch Nails - Another Version Of The Truth
8. Nine Inch Nails - 17 Ghosts II (2:13)
9. A Perfect Circle - 3 Libras (3:39)
10. A Perfect Circle - Brena (4:24)
11. Nine Inch Nails - 19 Ghosts III (2:11)
12. Hans Zimmer - Half Remembered Dream (1:11)
13. Hans Zimmer - We Built Our Own World (1:55)
14. Daft Punk - Recognizer (2:37)
15. Transformers: The Score - Deciphering the Signal
16. Daft Punk - Rinzler (2:17)
17. Hans Zimmer - Waiting For A Train (9:30)
18. Kirlian Camera - Track 06
19. Kirlian Camera - Track 02
20. Arcana - in search of the divine
21. Nine Inch Nails - 22 Ghosts III (2:31)
22. Arcana - Through the grey horizon [writ (5:34)
23. Arcana - Wings of Gabriel [written 2003 (4:00)
24. Transformers: The Score - Frenzy
25. Transformers: The Score - Decepticons
26. Nine Inch Nails - 26 Ghosts III (2:25)
27. Hans Zimmer - Mombasa (4:54)
28. Nine Inch Nails - 23 Ghosts III (2:43)
29. Void Construct - Rebirth (5:31)
30. Juno Reactor & Don Davis - Mona Lisa Overdrive
31. Vnv Nation - Distant (Rubicon II)
32. Vnv Nation - Arclight
33. Daft Punk - Outlands (2:42)
34. Daft Punk - Nocturne (1:41)
35. Kirlian Camera - Track 13
36. A Perfect Circle - Imagine (4:48)
37. Nine Inch Nails - The Great Below
38. Sephiroth - Helipolis
39. Sephiroth - Now Night Her Course Began
40. A Perfect Circle - Judith [Renholder Mix] (4:25)
41. Hans Zimmer - 528491 (2:23)
42. Hans Zimmer - Old Souls (7:43)
43. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard - Aggressive Expansion (4:36)
44. Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard - Like A Dog Chasing Cars (5:03)
45. Daft Punk - Rectifier (2:14)
46. Daft Punk - Disc Wars (4:11)
47. Daft Punk - C.L.U. (4:39)
48. Hans Zimmer - Dream Is Collapsing (2:23)
49. Daft Punk - Fall (1:22)
50. Hans Zimmer - Radical Notion (3:42)
51. Hans Zimmer - One Simple Idea (2:28)
52. Hans Zimmer - Dream Within A Dream (5:04)
53. Hans Zimmer - Time (4:35)
54. Hans Zimmer - Paradox (3:25)
55. Daft Punk - Arrival (2:00)
56. Nine Inch Nails - Right Where It Belongs [Alternate Version 2] (5:03)
57. Hans Zimmer - 528491 (2:23)
58. Daft Punk - Sea Of Simulation (2:41)
Freki, a Beast Seeming, Hunterheart Kith Changeling, as painted digitally by her player.
Monday, 11 July 2011
The ride to the port town was quiet for Light, the chatter of Rain discussing beliefs to their new tag along did little to truly interest him and the others seemed less willing to talk also. He let his mind wander as they travelled more and more since his vision, hoping to glimpse more of the past life lead by the woman whose name he didn’t even know. These thoughts gave him some small measure of comfort though to know that with her help he’d be able to do something to stop this creature before it tainted and killed an entire city.
Then he felt a rush and the bright white light was there again, it slowly faded to reveal the woman’s face with a proud smile though seemingly much younger. She stood at the forefront of a battlefield, armies clashing either side of her, one stood almost gleaming in the desert sun, blades flashing as they tore through armour and flesh alike. The other side showed little armour, though Light could clearly see the discipline with which they marched.
Then the smile faded as she charged forward, a scream emerged from her lips that resounded with a perfect mix of fury and power as she brought her lance to bear. She swung it round with a skill and grace unmatched by the others but still spurring them onwards to greater feats of bravery. She swung the lance again, smashing aside several of the soldiers, who cried out in horror and panic as she started chanting quietly at first before blasting forth a torrent of butterflies. The people fell quickly, either torn in half or else turned to a thin red mist from the force of spell.
Cheers started around her as the battle looked to be moving in her favour and then they were cut short as an armour clad figure emerged from the slaughter, plate boots clanking slightly as it moved towards her. It pointed straight at her and spoke, though the words were not yet understood by light he felt a mix of smug pride and anger at the figure’s words. The figure raced forward, faster than seemed possible for such a heavily armoured figure as it lifted a great, shimmering blade in preparation for an attack. She jumped just in time for the blade to skim past her, slicing through some of the tassels on her armour and smashing down beneath her, erupting the area in a shockwave that threw all those unlucky enough to be caught by it crashing to the ground.
As she hit the ground from her jump she looked up and brought the lance up across herself to block another blow from the sword, soldiers around her started to fall back in panic as the shockwaves batted them aside like leaves in the wind. The sword sung forward again, slicing across and smashing into her armour which crumpled inwards from the blow as she screamed out agony, grabbing her side. A plate clad fist came round, smashing into her jaw and a white hot burning erupted instantly as she fell to the floor. She motioned to get to her feet when a boot hit her full force in the ribs, knocking the wind from her as she coughed and struggled for breath.
Light could feel the fear now rising in his own gut as he felt a cold hand touch him. Then a primal scream sounded from the ranks as a pure white creature darted forward from the battle lines, impossibly fast. The flash over silver and the sound of metal on metal erupted suddenly as the black figure was pushed back by the sheer ferocity and speed of this sudden assault. An angry bellow as he swung his fist round, batting the attacker away, it stayed still just long enough for light to see it’s form. A white furred humanoid with a sword in each hand and a long tail swishing about with a third blade ready to strike back.
It screamed and once more charged forward, ducking under the attacking sword and plunging both blades deep into the armour of the figure which screamed in absolute hatred. The tail swung round and removed the figures hand and the greatsword dropped to the floor. The figure, now clutching his stump, spat a curse at this new creature before turning to retreat behind his lines of warriors.
Then the thing turned to the woman, sheathing the blades as it did and walked back towards the woman. It’s fur disappearing and the tail retracting as it did, revealing a small figure, with pale white skin and deep red hair. They hefted Light’s mentor onto her shoulders with a quick whispered word and darted forward through the lines of the now reforming army.
Then the light appeared once more and Light found himself swaying somewhat in the saddle of the horse once more and the familiar sounds of Rain and the others came back to him as he shook his head in a dazed state. “What’s your name?” He whispered to himself as he remembered the vision. The woman’s voice spoke to him, as though within him “Blossom of the autumn sun” and he smiled to himself as it came to him, now with a face and name for his teacher and companion.
Thursday, 7 July 2011
Episode 2 - River of Stars - Part 1
The circle of Solar Exalts continued their journey from Turg, and onto the city of Khacin. Concern weighed heavy on their shoulders as they contemplated their nature and the reaction of others to their existence. Most rode upon their horses, as Aisha directed the wagon with Falling Rain riding along. Kheralin, such was her nature and her profession, scouted ahead to look for signs of danger.
At night the circle camped. It was a few days yet before they reached Khacin and they were still unsure what they should so once they arrived there. There was the issue of the prophecy that had been thought to be true and now was somehow false, and the true prophecy lay within the city. Rain and Aisha spent their nights talking about the gods and spirits of the land, with Rain explaining some of the details of the Immaculate philosophy, while also coming to terms with this new god that had spoken to him directly. Dorn was able to attend to the dietary needs of the circle, the barbarian being an expert hunter. He was also tired of eating rice constantly, something that Red Echo has no issue with considering his upbringing in the martial state of Lookshy. Dorn approached Echo about how he might be able to raise an army, and if Echo would help him in this endeavour at the city of Nexus. Dorn simply saw his exaltation as a chance for revenge against his kinsmen in the Haslanti League. Echo of course knew that the barbarian could not lead an army, but that Nexus was also important to his own plan of assuming power within his mercenary company.
Two days had past and the circle could see over the hill rising towers of smoke. Kheralin and Resplendent Light of the Wood rode forward to see what had happened. Kheralin was aware that there was a small village on this route, and was horrified to find, that like her own village, that it had been raised to the ground. Kheralin called the circle to join them, as Light rode down. The others noted this impetuous charge and followed, more wary of the scene that lay before them. Rain questioned if this was the work of those that had attacked Wai'hl, or perhaps the work of the Hyena men savages that would raid the country.
The circle found that the village was a smoking ruin. Men, women, and children lay dead all around. Many were impaled by arrows. Dorn looked for tracks and found that the raiders had come from the east, and that they were men, and not beastmen. Light, who had already been there for a few minutes held an arrow he had taken from the body of one of the dead. He also pointed out those soldiers who were killed by the villagers. Their armour and livery showed them to be soldiers of the nearby rival of Khacin - Ashuriana. The wood of the arrow matched that of Ashuriana, as the rival state made heavy use of archery and spears in their own forces.
Dorn continued his search for tracks, finding that there were tracks leading out of the village into the north. Kheralin and Echo remained in the village as the others followed the tracks out of the village. It was not long until they found that the tracks, which were those of men and something on a sledge, led them to an excavation. It led down into the earth some distance before stopping at a hole in a revealed wall of some buried tomb or building. Large stones had been pulled from the wall to make the hole, and upon them were hieroglyphs from the First Age.
With some trepidation Light, Rain and Aisha made their way down, while Dorn proceeded straight inside. The moment Dorn entered the chamber he realised he was surrounded by three men. He lashed out, striking one and found that the figure just crumbled to white dust. When the others joined Dorn in the chamber they found that the men were composed entirely of something akin to chalk. However, it was clear that they were dressed as the raiders and that they had the look of terror on their faces. Something had turned them into chalk. About the chamber there were other mounds of white powder, no doubt the result of others having been turned to this powder and collapsing. The troupe began to search the chamber.
Meanwhile, back at the village Kheralin found on one of the soldiers a small pendant, upon which was some form of script that she could not read, and it certainly was not the language used by Ashuriana. Echo looked at it and knew immediately what it was. It was River Tongue, and more importantly it was a dog tag. The soldier was not from Ashuriana but from Nexus, and belonged to the Rabid Wolves. With this revelation it was clear that someone was trying to cover up something else with the attack and make it look like the work of Ashuriana.
At the excavation the others had searched the chamber. Rain realised that there were certain geomantic principles in action, designed not to channel essence but instead dissipate it and contain something. In the centre of the chamber there were signs that something large had sat in the centre of the room. Rain did find some old texts written in Old Realm, and also the remains of some sort of device. It was a helix made of crystal, but broken in half, and with it a blood drop shaped gem, the size of an egg. It was a dark garnet like colour. As Rain picked it up it began to glow and pulsate, matching his own heart beat. Rain pocketed it and kept it to himself.
Light recovered amongst the other pieces of decayed and broken artefacts, more books that contained schematics of strange devices of technology. Aisha however found a pair of red jade gauntlets, patterned with regular geometric shapes. Light tried them on, and by channelling his essence he was able to activate them, the jade gave of a glow of energy. They were a weapon or armour of some form. Dorn had recovered another weapon, but made of a different material. It was a short sword, with one straight edge, and the other edge as a square tooth blade. The tip was cut square and the entire blade had straight grooves running up its length. The blade itself was composed of a dark black steel. Light exchanged with Dorn the greaves, and then once more channelled his essence into the blade. Immediately the blade changed, the grooves pulsed a deep red, and the blade itself began to grow cold, so cold that ice formed along the edge of the blade. When finally awake the blade screamed a wail of pain.
It was in some of the papers that the group had recovered that the troupe that Rain spotted what looked like a schematic, and there in the design was the helix pattern with the gem
. It was clearly a device powered by a hearthstone, or many.
Kheralin and Echo stood at the top of the excavation as the others exited the chamber. They discussed what they found as they returned to the village. It was now apparent that someone, under the guise of Ashuriana, had come here knowingly to take this device. If it was able to cause such destruction then it is a danger that has to be stopped. As they approached the village they saw a beam of light rise up into the sky from somewhere in the distance. The beam split the clouds. Fearing the worst the circle took cover, only for a strong wind to pass. Now fearing what the weapon could do in the wrong hands Aisha summoned the Storm Wind Rider, and with Rain, Light and Kheralin, travelled in the tornado to the site of the beam of light.
As the tornado raced across the landscape and across the river, Chi Alahan, to the site, they could see that there was an encampment of men. Kheralin lepted out of the twister and landed a distance from the camp so that she could use her bow. The others continued straight into the heart of the camp and upon arrival found that the camp had also been turned to chalk. The only weapons left untouched by the magic were those not worn by a soldier. The soldier were indeed mercenaries, their armour alien to this region of the world, more like the desert raiders to the south of the Scavenger Lands.
Meanwhile, Echo and Dorn sat waiting in the camp. Dorn found some unbroken bottles of sake in the village and drank as Echo sat and wrote. They then both spotted something moving, and to their shock, down the road, was the priest that Echo had only killed just days earlier. The man stood and smiled and then walked off. Echo and Dorn followed but found that he had just disappeared.
At the encampment the others found clues to a contact that the mercenaries had been working for. It was clear the weapon had been moved, and quickly in the time it had taken for them to travel there. It was then that they spotted a dark shape where the device had once stood. It flapped to a unseen wind. A cold wind blew from it and Rain realised what it was. It was a gateway to not just the Underworld, but the Void. Rain then looked up and saw that the sky held a reddish sun. With fear running through his veins he knew that they were in a Shadow Land. Seeing the need to now act fast, and knowing that the device had been taken down stream towards Khacin. Light summoned a spirit messenger, a blue glittering cherub, and tasked it to inform the Dorn and Echo to take the horses and leave the cart, and meet them at the crossing upstream from where they can ride on to the nearest port and try and find this weapon.
Friday, 1 July 2011
Just a short one. No sex, but that's OK because sex is bad and wrong!!!
Rated PG-13, no warnings. P.S. The cake featured is not a make-believe cake, and the photo is the one I took of it at the Florian in 2008. WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.
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Clio had finished a shift at the Florian when she noticed him on the way out. Malvolio sat at a table by the window, nursing a pot of tea and a plate of chocolate mousse, decorated with slices of solid chocolate and sugar-dusted fruit. He glanced up, catching her eye just as she was about to leave. He waved her over.
Clio looked around. The café was still busy, filled with tourists who had arrived early for Carnevale. He must have had a fifteen-minute wait for a table by the window. She made her way towards him and took the seat opposite. “Is there something wrong?” She asked in a hushed tone.
He shook his head. “No. I just thought I’d stop by for tea. Though I did want to see you before I left.”
Clio blinked. “How did you know I was here?”
“I asked you last night. Don’t you remember?” He knew she didn’t, and seemed vaguely pleased with himself.
“…I think so.” Last night had been Wednesday. Her visit to Malvolio to iron out the details of her Carnevale costume had quickly disintegrated, thanks to his provision of wine. Though, the colour of her dress had been decided upon, and it was being sewn as they spoke by Madam Canvas.
“Would you like some cake?” He offered, gesturing towards the half-eaten mousse and nudging his spoon towards her. For someone who worked at the café, Clio rarely indulged in the extravagant desserts – but she hadn’t eaten much today. Malvolio could see her bite her lip, and it seemed to him a uniquely female crisis of conscience.
She took up the spoon, scooping at the soft edges of the cake and sliding a mouthful between her lips. The chocolate melted on her tongue and she swallowed, replacing the spoon on the tray.
“Bene?” he asked, rather rhetorically.
“Si,” she nodded.
“How are your friends?” Malvolio questioned, sipping delicately. “Your motley,” he clarified.
“I’m… not sure,” Clio replied. She had only seen the group perhaps once since the incident on the Lido. “I think they’ve been attending to their own things…”
“Like you,” he smirked. “You know, I hope you don’t find this intrusive, but I’ve always found you to be a strange fit with them.”
“Oh?” Of course, she had never felt as though she fit anywhere, and she just seemed so apart from the others.
“I mean, look at your friend, Freki, for example… and Stitches. You’re clearly of a different league. And the Autumn Court as a whole, well… let’s not get into that now, I could go on for hours.”
The disdain in his voice was not a shock to Clio – Malvolio was scornful of the other Houses in general. “I have to wonder if there is any person you don’t dislike… openly or otherwise.”
“I like you, don’t I?” He chuckled. “Though, you are too diplomatic for your own good.” He drained the last of his tea, and then seemed to recall something. “I almost forgot.” He drew a small lidded box from his suit jacket, and pushed it across the table.
The box was secured shut with a small pink ribbon. “What is it?” Clio ventured.
“Opening it might help,” he winked. “Think of it as a thank you for the party.”
Clio untied the ribbon, lifting the lid from the box to reveal a silver filigree necklace, set with a green gemstone that looked like emerald. It seemed expensive.
“I know, not your colour,” Malvolio quipped.
“I…” Her gut reaction, was to fuss and protest and decline. But she stopped herself – she knew he’d just foist the trinket on her anyway. And she had never owned such a nice piece of jewellery before; she felt a faint twinge in her heart as she stared at it. It was stunning, and caught the light in a way that paste gemstones never could. “Molto grazie,” she said finally.
He grinned at her answer – obviously he’d been expecting her to resist. “You’ve been quite the topic of discussion since last weekend.” Quickly, he added, “Only positive things, of course.”
Clio eyed the necklace once more before placing the lid safely back on the box. “Really.”
“Well, Tybalt was disappointed that he didn’t get his ‘dance,’ as he so charmingly put it. And I seem to remember Mercutio saying you refused him?”
She blushed a little. “He invited me to see Madam Roseblood. I assumed she wouldn’t be overjoyed with my presence, to say the least…”
“Ah,” Malvolio nodded, understanding.
“If we could have been alone, then I would have said yes.”
Malvolio’s expression changed, and his eyes lit up. “Oh, well, that’s actually just perfect - I was supposed to meet with Mercutio this evening. But I have last minute business to deal with, so I had to cancel. I’m sure he’d much prefer to see you, in any case.”
Clio had felt a little impolite for saying no to Mercutio, and she did not dislike the idea of another night in his company. Additionally, it was hardly correct to accept a gift from someone and then not allow them a favour. “I’ll go.”
Malvolio smiled softly after swallowing the remains of the chocolate mousse. “8 o’clock, then.” He pushed back his sleeve to check his watch, confirming the current time. Clio followed suit, pushing her chair neatly back into place.
Malvolio continued, "Meet me for dinner at Fortuny tomorrow night. You can tell me all about it."
"Fortuny... at the Cipriani? They'll be full..."
"I can get a table," he said, heedlessly. "I'll call you. Have fun later."