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Thursday, 5th May, 2005, 07:50 PM #11
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Always leaving ya wanting more.
Good job so far.
Monday, 9th May, 2005, 03:36 AM #12
Novice (Lvl 1)
Prelude: Cassock (Concluded)
Finishing Cassock's prelude. Enjoy!
Hendrick Balsoon had been traveling for nearly a fortnight non-stop southward. Each day of walking brought the dying days of Kullyc <1> closer. The scrub brush along the Path of Legends was steadily disappearing. He had noted the slow shifting of the colorful foliage beginning.
When Hendrick had been just a child, the leaves would not turn until the end of the first month of the season. That month, Brenn, was still a week from beginning. With each year, it seemed as if winter came earlier and lasted longer. And so, the leaves started to change now at the end of the summer months.
Two hundred miles now separated Hendrick from his birthplace. Still each day at dawn he packed his gear and started a march we wouldn’t stop until late in the night. The flowing hills surrounding Legend originally stretching upward toward the sun had sloped downward for days. As the Draeul Wood closed on Hendrick’s right, the Coastal Spine appeared out of mist guarding his left. The path was incredibly wide and worn from ages of travel. Hendrick held closer to the forest preferring to keep the massive pillars of stone at a safe distance.
Soon after the appearance of the forest and mountains, Hendrick found himself standing on the edge of a great chasm. He had finally reached the boundary separating Legend and Nordaa Saam. An immense bridge crafted of the strongest steels arched over the depth. The bridge itself was nearly a mile long. At its center, Hendrick looked into the ravine. His eyes strained, focusing on a faint blue line etching its way across the land. The Draeul River, Hendrick had guessed before comparing reality to the old hand-drawn map in his satchel. The Draeul River was birthed in the Coastal Spine Mountains and flowed westward, through the Great Chasm before veering north and flowing into the Norden Ocean. At the coast, the great river actually divided Port Divi’sad in half. A port shared by the Goblin Territory of Maatz and Hendrick’s own Legend.
Hendrick’s thoughts were broken by a deep rumbling to the south. His eyes peered heavenward catching sight of a massive black storm swiftly swelling northward. Quickly stuffing the parchment back into a ceramic tube, he picked up his pace. Hopefully, he would be off the bridge before Hell rained from above.
One hundred paces from the bridge, another booming roar shook the air around Hendrick. He bowed his head, preparing for pelting rains and accelerated into a run. As soon as the first thunder subsided, another split the air directly above Hendrick’s head. An ocean of crackling filled his ears; the hair on his arms and head began to stand straight up.
Two hundred paces from the bridge, fire cascaded from the heavens. The bolts of energy poured into the large bridge and charged the very molecules of air. Hendrick refused to lower his speed, bowing his head more and charging along the path. A few big globs of water foreshadowed the torrent of rain, suddenly exploding from the dark clouds. Within mere seconds Hendrick was soaked to the bone.
Fully under the thunder clouds, the setting sun’s rays were completely obscured by shadow. Hendrick glanced up every few moments to check his direction. With the darkening sky, his human eyes quickly registered less and less. A random root broke the surface of the trail and snagged Hendrick’s foot. Unable to slow, Hendrick’s momentum carried him straight down. With a bone jarring force, his head slammed into the packed dirt of the trail.
A warmth spreading through his face alerted Hendrick to the vitae pouring from his nose. A slight searing pain also stretched across his face. He moved his hands to lift himself back up and another series of lightning bolts pounded into the dirt inches from his skull.
“By Caevari’s <2> will!” Hendrick cried as residual electricity straightened his jet-black hair yet again. Quickly, he pushed himself from the earth and broke into another run. Two steps from his prone position, lightning crackled into the earth flash-boiling his blood and the rain.
The strobe lightning revealed Draeul Forest growing ever closer as Hendrick charged forward. The lightning continued to attack along with the large and ceaseless raindrops. Hendrick always seemed to be just to the left or right of the individual bolts and suffered nothing but a slight static charge.
Another bolt crackled to the left, Hendrick twisted his foot and shifted direction to the right toward the forest. The huge, ancient trees were only three paces from him now. Suddenly, a horrific epiphany crossed his mind. I’m being herded by the lightning, Hendrick thought.
Lightning burst earthward again but smashed into the large oak above Hendrick. He ducked instinctually and looked upward. With a crack, a huge branch plummeted. Hendrick tried to dodge but the branch smacked him in the back of his skull. He fell forward, a jeering pain lurching through his head. He blinked twice, wiping mud and blood from his eyes.
A thunderous roar and the sound of the tree being zapped again by the heavenly fire filled Hendrick’s ears. His eyes noticed nothing but darkness.
“By the Gods,” he murmured groping blindly. Still his eyes would not function despite the continued lightening he could only guess to be more electricity. He could feel warmth spreading quickly above him, the terrible swift hunger of fire. A splintering sound boomed above him.
With a quick lurch, Hendrick pushed into a roll and somersaulted down a steep hill. The sound of another branch smacked into the earth behind him. His body contorted; legs over head and arms then vice-versa for a blind eternity. Slowly the ground evened out and his speed declined.
Abruptly, his roll came to an end against a rock face. Hendrick lied in a fetal position, unconscious.
Slowly, sounds started echoing through the young man’s mind. There was a roar of flames, definitive by the warmth on his body. Sometimes, there was a sound akin to whistling or whispering. It was light, hollow and only tugged at the edge of his consciousness. Often, the whispers were accompanied with a light summer breeze.
Raindrops could still be heard; heavy, steady and monotonous and at a slight distance. Aside from the dampness of his clothing, Hendrick felt no added moisture. I must’ve stumbled into a cave, he thought. The fire would mean I am not alone. Hendrick reached for his satchel but it was nowhere near his body.
“I wondered when you would wake.” The voice was old but filled with joy. It seemed to be coming from the direction of the fire.
“Who are you?” Hendrick demanded as he sat up. The throbbing in his head had passed. As his hands glanced across his face, he felt no swelling or cuts of any kind.
“I tended your wounds, young master.” The voice replied somewhat bemused. “Your question cannot be answered quickly or simply. Who I am is quite a long story and I’m afraid we haven’t the time for such digressions or niceties. But while you are here, you may call me Master.” Hendrick could almost hear the man laugh.
“I don’t have time for any games. Where is my pack?” Hendrick stood, his sore body crying out for him to stop. Throbbing began again as he bumped his head on a stone ceiling. He barely muffled his cry with his hand.
“I think, my young master that you have quite a bit of time on your hands. Unless you think you can continue your journey blind. Personally, I think a day out in that rainstorm and you’ll be in a worse position than you are now.” Hendrick frowned as he sat back down.
“You’ve healed my wounds. Can you heal my sight?”
“If you let me, I can help you to see clearer than you’ve ever seen before. I will help you see through the shadow. I can show you the truth of the world.”
Hendrick pondered the man’s words for just a second. “I will accept your help. I am…”
“You,” the old man broke in, “are Cassock. Cael has brought you here for your training. Your life as Hendrick Balsoon has ended. From this day forward you are Cassock, the bringer of Cael.” Before Hendrick now Cassock had a moment to wonder how the old man had known his name his training as a priest began.
Time was unfathomable to Cassock’s blindness. According to his Master, roughly a month had passed; a true eternity in Cassock’s unwavering shadow world.
All of the rites of Cael had been firmly memorized by hours of verbal study. Theology had been pounded into Cassock’s head. All the stories originally told by his parents as bed-time tales of the Old Gods were revisited and expounded upon.
Suddenly, Cassock could feel the old man staring at him. His hackles rose for a moment and the shadowy veil began to lift from his eyes.
“Will you accept the path Cael has chosen for you, Cassock?” The young man nodded mutely. “You will be a bringer of Death and Destruction. Use your gifts in Cael’s name and you will be rewarded at his side. Forever more, you will only be known as Cassock, the Bringer of Cael. Hendrick Balsoon does not and never did exist.”
“I understand, Master.”
“I am no longer your Master, Cassock. You answer only to Cael himself, now. Once your vision returns, you will find a mace, a holy symbol, and some armor here in the cavern. Take it. Return to the world and bring glory to Cael’s name.”
“Where are you going, Teacher?” A soft summer breeze was Cassock’s only answer.
Suddenly, Cassock could make out the details of the room. He turned to the entrance and the darkness revealed it was night. He turned toward the fire but there was none. Nothing cast light inside the cavern but the priest could still see.
Raising his gaze from where the fire should have been, Cassock saw two statues standing across from each other. One statue was carved of black marble; a man holding a sword in its right arm pointing toward a sun. The other was of a woman, white marble, touching her own blade to the same sun. The half of the sun touched by the woman was bright white, almost as if it could cast light. The other half was a molted black and red, true shadow.
Cassock instantly recognized the statues as Cael and Myr. Below Cael, rested the gear the old man had promised. His torn satchel sat beside the mace, mended. The old man was nowhere to be seen. Cassock hastily donned the armor and gathered his gear. He knelt before the statues, the mace across his lap.
“Cael watch over and bless me. Let the darkness guide my path. Let Your darkness protect me.” Cassock quickly bowed then stood. He turned and left the cave.
Once outside, he realized he was no longer near the Path of Legends. He spun back toward the cave but it was gone. Turning around again, Cassock saw the flickering of lights. He headed toward the village.
<1> Kullyc (Kul-ick) is the name for Autumn. Originally it was called Caelyn (Kel-in) but was renamed by Ara’kull’s church.
<2> Caevari is the God of Luck. He’s also known as the God of Plenty and Traveling. He is one of the Kin Gods and thus is Cael’s and Myr’s Grandson.
Monday, 9th May, 2005, 06:45 PM #13
Loved the lightning-herding sequence - great idea!
The background is really developing well... can't wait for the epic plot growth.
Monday, 9th May, 2005, 06:51 PM #14
Novice (Lvl 1)
Thank you, thank you. Its definitely heading down the epic path. We had our game last Friday night (the first one in nearly three months due to schedule conflicts). They're just now getting to 6th level in real life.
So, I threw an opponent at them way above what they should have been able to handle. Now, they're not your ordinary PCs once they get to fifth level (and that'll be explained in the SH). An NPC warned them to stay away from said opponent. Did they listen? No of course not. They're PCs. Long story short, they all survived. Not even a scratch (I was rolling horribly).
But I'm getting ahead of myself. So...lets return to the present. Or past. Or...you know what I mean
Monday, 9th May, 2005, 07:27 PM #15
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Not a scratch... Wasn't even that close
I wasn't even that close.
Think it really pissed him off when I rolled the DC exactly on the first save.
It would have been a very different battle if that hadn't been the case.
Yes she warned us, but I do believe it is my mission in life to bring Death & Destruction to Ara'Kull's followers.
Monday, 9th May, 2005, 08:31 PM #16
So, I threw an opponent at them way above what they should have been able to handle.
Monday, 9th May, 2005, 10:58 PM #17
Novice (Lvl 1)
Well, I promise my players everytime we gather that "Tonight is the night I will kill you all." Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point-of-view) I've been unsuccesful at my attempts at a TPK. And lucky for them, I have too much of a conscience to bring them up against an 80th level Divine Rank 21+ being....at the moment. Figured I'd let them make it to seventh level first
Tuesday, 10th May, 2005, 12:41 AM #18
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
TPK my @ss.....
He looks at me with a murderous gleam in his eye every d@mn session.
Not my fault his dice like me more than him.
Tuesday, 10th May, 2005, 09:15 PM #19
Novice (Lvl 1)
Those back stories were great. Now I can't wait to see what happens with the actual adventures. Keep up the great writing, Funeris!
Tuesday, 10th May, 2005, 09:52 PM #20
Novice (Lvl 1)
I'm glad you enjoyed, yes I am. So glad in fact, I have some more backstories to throw at you. Although, not today I'm afraid.
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