Pharamne's Urn (updated 4/25/12) - Page 130





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    I've just been rereading and came across this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheiromancer View Post
    “Eadric’s problem,” Ortwine opined, “is that he cannot relate to women.
    Might not much the same might be said about Nwm? And Mostin? Neither have dallied. Nwm, as an ascetic, by choice; and Mostin through his single-minded pursuit of knowledge (and perforce now, as with his monstrous true form, what normal woman would have him?) hasn't made time.

    Eadric cannot, Nwm will not, and Mostin's not bothered.

    So it really does all boil down to sex.

  • #1295
    I cannot express how grateful I am towards Sep for continuing the updates on this thread which I have followed for 7-8 years (and it's been an inspiration for my epic campaign for 5 years).

    Thanks Sep! If I ever see a conclusion on this, it will be the greatest saga I've ever read!

    edit> not that it already isn't.
    One of the best storyhours around: The Doomed Bastards

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    Spoiler:
    This was the hardest update I have ever written. I'm still not happy with it.



    Effluxion – Part 1: Annihilation



    [Nehael/Eleos]: Soneillon…

    [Soneillon]: …


    **


    Nehael shot.

    Eadric sat upon the rampart of the outer defense at Galda with his back against the parapet and regarded her. She had been standing in the same position for more than nine hours, discharging arrows with an unwavering rhythm which seemed to measure time itself. The goddess had loosed thirty-three thousand and eleven missiles; she had killed thirty-three thousand and eleven ghouls: Nehael herself included the Abyssal type, ghasts and bonedrinkers – as well as several more obscure varieties of undead – in the rather broad category of ghoul. Eadric could not see the ghouls which Nehael had targeted; they were more than five miles away.

    “Don’t you get bored?” He asked.

    Her pace slowed; she drew a single arrow and released it. At the limit of his hearing, an earthquake rumbled. She resumed her previous rhythm.

    “That would seem a more effective strategy,” he observed.

    “It is,” she replied. “But I do not wish to create a fault zone.”

    “Exactly how many are there, altogether?” Eadric inquired.

    “Altogether?” Her measure did not falter. “About fifteen million. Coming this way? Only around four.”

    “Fifteen million?”

    “That’s just the ghouls,” Nehael continued shooting. “The vampires, spectres, wraiths and other heliophobes remain under the Pall of Dhatri for the time being; as soon as its magic fails and they find safe holes, they will begin to migrate north and operate by night.”

    “Safe holes?”

    “Villages which have been evacuated and overrun,” Nehael explained.

    “But why such enormous numbers?” Eadric asked.

    She smiled, but the tempo of her archery remained unchanged. “The Thalassine was a rich and populous region, Eadric; now everyone is dead.” As her bowstring hummed, the last word was spoken with what may have been anger: an emotion which Eadric could not recall Nehael having before evinced.

    Ten thousand yards away, a ghoul dropped to the ground, its throat pierced by an arrow.

    “Nwm informed me that you believe that some kind of reconquista is possible,” Eadric spoke dubiously.

    She nodded. “It is both possible and desirable. It also requires that you grow up.”

    “You deem me…unready?”

    Nehael nodded. “Your values are childish from my perspective. The world you would seek to build requires a more objective love.”

    “Nehael, when we spoke at Shomei’s cottage, you implied that some potential existed between us…”

    She shook her head, and continued shooting. “Still, you are fixated on these quaint notions. What you inferred was not what I clearly stated. Whatever lustfulness I might possess, I would not cause suffering to any.”

    “You speak of Soneillon?”

    “Why not? Soneillon is no less deserving than any other.”

    “And your own needs?”

    “There is no I, Eadric. That is Shomei’s province.”

    He groaned. “I cannot hold these contradictory truths. I wish only to relate simply.”

    A look of exasperation crossed her face. She drew an arrow, nocked it, turned, and aimed it toward him.

    “You wouldn’t…” He said nervously.

    She shot it into his leg. Eadric screamed in agony.

    “Are you insane?” He gasped with wide eyes.

    “No. You are being selfish, Ahma,” Nehael said calmly. “You need to lose that.”

    “For a deity of compassion, you have some pretty strange ideas.” Eadric groaned and shook.

    “Well, that would be the wrathful part,” she resumed her previous rhythm, shooting at the southern horizon.

    “And as to the causation of suffering? What do you call this?”

    “Pain, Ahma.”

    “A simple remonstration would have been sufficient,” he spoke through a clenched jaw, and winced as he tried to extract the arrow.

    “I am not the Sela, Ahma,” she replied. “I do not have the time or luxury to be kind to you, and algesis may impel you. Leave the dart; I will see to it in due course.”

    “Even so…”

    She paused, and sighed. “Eadric. You need to put this romantic nonsense behind you; it cannot dictate your thoughts or actions. One may not discriminate as to where to apply compassion, only how, and sentimental notions will interfere with your capacity to demonstrate it most effectively. Concentrate. The pain will help you focus.”

    “I…”

    “No.”

    He entered saizhan. The pain remained, but was only one amongst millions: the living, the dead; birds, animals; faeries, demons, celestials. Their combined magnitude was unguessable, and the totality struck his awareness as a barrage of sensation which screamed torment and misery at his very substance, overwhelming his identity. But the fundamental perspective observed it calmly, and did not falter.

    “Much better.” Nehael spoke softly, and knelt beside him. She carefully removed the arrow; no mark of the wound remained. He looked at her, and a kernel of desire for her began to form; immediately, his sense of self reasserted itself. The Moment was gone.

    He inhaled sharply, and stared at her in amazement. “You perceive this suffering always?”

    “It is always there.” She laughed.

    “How do you bear it?” He felt utterly chastened.

    “No I could, so it is a non-issue. Do not worry. Midwinter has passed; the days are lengthening. The Sun is returning.” She smiled.

    Nehael stood, and shot.


    **


    Thousands of tents and pavillions comprised the camp at Galda, occupying an area of some eighty acres. It was enclosed by a crenellated stone wall forty feet thick and sixty high which had been erected by the diligent efforts of a hundred flamines and scrollbearers over the course of several months. Walls of stone and indentured elementals summoned by Uediian priests had completed the initial construction; the entire edifice had been augmented and hardened by Nwm, Mesikammi, Teppu and Hlioth to withstand both physical and magical assault. The Preceptor had raised seven enormous bastions around its circuit, two of which flanked the single gate of adamant which gave access to the place. Upon the outer face of the valves were the most potent symbols ever wrought: runes of Tree and Sun which described a swift demise for things which should already be dead.

    The camp was removed from the town proper – of comparable dimension – at a closest distance of around a half-mile; an outer earthwork faced with stone and with a circumference of more than a league encompassed both. The walls of Galda town itself had likewise been buttressed; most of its natives had departed some weeks earlier. The two were connected by teleportation circles and tree portals to allow the swift redeployment of troops.

    Nwm stood within the centre of the encampment beside a muddy field which had been cleared of tents, soldiers and horses, and sighed. Although it pained him, there was no denying the logic of Mostin’s suggestion; it would save resources, and nothing within the combined power of those present could rival it for effectiveness. The Preceptor gave a resigned look to Hlioth, who returned one of equal sympathy.

    [Nwm]: Very well. The space is ready.

    In the middle of the camp at Galda, a three-hundred foot tall edifice of infernal adamant appeared, blotting out the sun and immediately drawing the attention of everyone within the circuit of the stronghold. Massive bartizans flanked a central tower, from which machiolated platforms and corbels depended. Wide nozzles of unknown purpose protruded from its walls.

    There was a brief silence, and then a tall doorway opened onto a balcony at a height of thirty fathoms. Six creatures with many mouths and appendages slowly floated out, bobbing in the breeze, and blew on clarions: a discordant fanfare of tremendous volume which shook the ground and made all who heard it nauseous. Great purple drapes unfurled; lights of every known hue – and some of wholly unfamiliar color – strobed brilliantly in the sky. Mostin – wearing an ornate puce mitre, three feet high and bedecked with jewels – strode forth onto the platform, and spread his arms wide.

    “I have arrived,” he announced to the world.

    *

    Around thirty wizards – including eight from the ruling body of the Collegium – had accompanied Mostin, on the condition that they might abide within the tower and come and go at their leisure: a stipulation supported by Daunton, who recognized the relative safety of Mostin’s fortress. Mostin had grudgingly assigned suites to Waide, Jalael, Muthollo, Creq, Droom, Troap, Sarpin and Daunton himself. Lesser mages had been forced to share chambers; despite the enormous extradimensional volume of the Infernal Tower, Mostin preferred to keep a large portion out of bounds.

    The presence of the wizards was met with mixed emotions; many of the more conservative and influential Templars viewed them with suspicion or disdain. Ortwine received them graciously, and immediately procured a well-furnished pavillion from Troap, with whom she had enjoyed long-standing good relations. Their presence in the camp, the sidhe nodded appreciatively, would inject a much-needed civility into affairs; even with the numerous Wyrish aristocracy, the prevailing religious sobriety was far too austere for Ortwine’s tastes.

    Eadric spied a dimimutive figure who walked purposefully through the camp, wearing a cloak of deep blue – Irknaan’s cloak, he knew. His leg still tingling from its recently-experienced trauma, he intercepted her, intent on determining her disposition.

    Sho turned to him, and raised an eyebrow. “Yes, Ahma?”

    “It has been some time,” Eadric regarded her with curiosity. “I am intrigued: your vehicle – Goetia – would seem to be a path with its end in sight. Your maker has a certain…dispensation in this regard; but other wizards do not have the luxury of calling upon the previous Hell.”

    She looked at him that way. It made him feel distinctly uncomfortable.

    “There will always be devils, Ahma,” Sho answered. “You should not trouble yourself on that count.”

    “I do not mean to offend, Sho, but there is a question which I would like to ask you.”

    “My ego is robust, Ahma,” Sho said drily. “You are unlikely to cause me discomfort.”

    “Do you have a religious vision, Sho? Some article of faith by which you abide?”

    “No. I am a wizard, Ahma; such notions are uncommon amongst my kind.”

    “And devils?” He asked. “Their…perspective is one for which you have some special sympathy?”

    “Devils are tools, Ahma,” she replied. “But I confess a certain fondness for some of them, especially those who might be deemed high in the Old Order.

    “You speak of Azazel and his ilk?”

    Sho nodded. “They are of a particular vintage.”

    “Hence my comment regarding Goetia as an increasingly obscure vehicle.”

    Sho raised an eyebrow. “The world is smaller than it used to be, and two hundred legions is a lot of devils, Ahma.”

    “Yes, I suppose it is.” His expression was one of concern. “Do you consider yourself…unique, Sho? Authentic? I ask because there are certain resonances with your progenitor.”

    “I am very much my own self, Ahma,” she gave a quizzical look. “Whatever similarities you perceive are entirely superficial.”

    “It’s just that your personae are so similar.”

    Sho shrugged. “A persona is exactly that, Ahma, and nothing more. Deeper truths are more often concealed.”

    “Shomei, I…”

    “I am Sho, Ahma,” she smiled.

    “Indeed; I apologize. There is a profundity surrounding you,” Eadric sighed. “In any iteration. Do you have a goal, Sho? A purpose?”

    “Only to become myself, Ahma,” Sho replied. “Although I have yet to define what that is to my satisfaction. I am on the verge of transvalency; it may provide additional insights.”

    He gaped. “Already? You are something extraordinary, Sho.”

    “Yes, Ahma. I know. I will not forget it: of that, you can be sure.”

    “And Mei? She is here?” He asked.

    “She is within the tower,” Sho nodded. “With Orolde.”

    “Are you…close? By which, I mean, do you hold her in any special regard?”

    “No, Ahma,” Sho shook her head. “Sho is Sho and Mei is Mei. And Shomei is Shomei.”

    “I see,” he said. “But both you and your sister – if that term is appropriate – have a particular loyalty to Mostin.”

    Sho nodded; her expression was one of mild confusion. “Of course. He has been a source of unconditional support. Mostin is uncommonly generous for a wizard, Ahma. His absurd pomp and egotism are merely a persona. And he will always advocate for that thing which he values most.”

    “And what might that be?” Eadric inquired, raising his eyebrows.

    “Potential,” Sho smiled. “And the will to realize it.”


    **


    The Embassy – the Fourth Effluxion of Kaalaanala – sat in her saddle and gazed north, her sight piercing all veils. The hood which framed where her visage might have been was empty: within was a blankness which admitted no light; an impalpable void. Disintegrating fire wreathed her; an aura wherein all trace of being was extinguished. Although the shape of her mount was equine, its nature was also chthonic: a powerful anala bound and confined by her terrible will to serve as the steed for the avatar of the Fire of Death.

    Undead surrounded her in numberless droves, driven unsconsciously by her intention into some coherence of purpose. Few amongst her living slaves might even approach her: Rishih and Naatha – feared potentates and great immortals in their own right – cowered in her presence. Anumid lavished praise upon her; an unctuous sycophant regarded with contempt amongst most of the remaining Cheshnite magnates, but still commanding the respect of the remnant of the Convocations. A fourth part of Dhatri’s host accompanied the Embassy. The rest, which moved with the bloated goddess and the entourage of the demilich Idyam had struck out toward the northeast and crawled or lurched toward Wyre: a great swell of hunger which, now beyond the darkness of the Pall, was revealed as a relentless tide of death and putrefaction which consumed everything in its path.

    Galda was encompassed entirely; a cordon of rotting flesh at a distance of two leagues, beyond the ambit of the scions which nestled in the vale north of the town. The Embassy was acutely aware of the diminishment which the Oak and Elm would force upon her undead minions, and had prepared magicks to counteract the effects of the Trees on her troops; until she had positioned herself exactly for the assault, her spells were held in reserve. Three great hubs were established – south, northeast and northwest of the Wyrish defenses – which, although beyond the inner purlieu of the scions, still fell within the circuit established by the ludjas. Magical scrutiny by the Cheshnites was denied by quercine power within the area, and reconnaissance was achieved by flights of shadow demons, succubi and palrethees: fiends which, by virtue of their scarcity, were now viewed as a valuable resource by the immortal elite.

    Choach – returned again from his concealed phylactery – had entrenched in the westernmost presidio. To Prahar’s chagrin, the Embassy had appointed the lich – despite his own clear seniority in such matters – as her general above him: Prahar’s own instability might make him a liability, and the situation was too precarious to risk a whimsical assault by the great death knight, whatever his own prowess, or that of his troops. The range east and north of Galda was commanded by Naatha, with a bulwark of magi beneath Rishih, together with many of the staunchest remaining demons and those troops whom Temenun had abandonded. The southernmost concentration – the largest by number, if not in native power – Kaalaanala’s avatar had taken to herself directly: a sea of rotten flesh which, when the time came, she would imbue with Void and ferocious hunger.

    The Embassy bided her time for a while.

    Void moved in deep, imperceptible currents.


    **


    Soneillon lounged upon the bed within the main suite at Deorham, studying the glyphs etched into the tablet which Tozinak had bestowed upon her, and considered their import. Some agency was at work, although she could not determine precisely what; it was neither Kaalaanala, nor the Cherry itself – which, being comprised of lust, lacked volition in the conventional sense. Something hitherto unrevealed had prompted the wizard to transpose Jovol’s spell into a minor key; it was no parody, and the artistry in the dweomer was immediately apparent to her. It was also something utterly beyond Tozinak’s capacity to achieve. And Tozinak still had the original spell – A Flame Precedes the Aeon – locked somewhere within his Cherry-addled mind. Vhorzhe? She considered. The entity was capable, no doubt, although whether desirous was a different question entirely.

    The Apparition strove to manifest; of that, there could be no doubt. And other chthonic forces were also active; impulses which she could not hope to fully comprehend. Soneillon began to wonder whether another Bhiti – one of an order comparable to the Fires of Death – might be implicated. If so, the medium through which it was operating was obscure; if Delirium or some approximal region of Dream, she should have felt it herself. If it were confined within the Green – as was Kaalaanala – then its presence would have been long known. Kaalaanala had been the reciprocal payment; the price forced by Void to tolerate the Abysmal ludjas. But what if some other balance had been struck?

    The demoness rose and exited the chamber onto a small stoop which overlooked the curtilage below. All of the structural damage had been repaired, and Carasch had been dismissed – temporarily, at least. Most of her other minions had been slain or had fled, although a trio of succubi once sworn to Graz’zt – Mazikreen, Ilistet and Chepez the Vicious – still attended her. Around a hundred demons remained loose in western Trempa, making mischief; none were of a mind to submit themselves again to the former Queen of Throile, and eliminating them or driving them away would be necessary to appease the Ahma – whose current mood of contrition regarding her should probably be enjoyed for as long as possible.

    Hard beside the chapel, the Blackthorn scion dozed; snow sat upon its barbed limbs, and the textures of its twisted trunk intimated at the very process of dissolution. Soneillon glided down into the courtyard, folded her wings, and approached the Tree: its attitude toward her – if its disposition could be described in such terms – seemed benign; somehow sympathetic. She sighed. This Treeish-ness was difficult to fathom. She pressed her hands against its bark, feeling its energy; an inevitable urge toward the ending of things. But not after the nullificatory fashion of Cheshne’s unmanifest Shadow, the Apparition or Aabhaasa of Shûthite lore. More, a délabrement in a helical stream which did not deny new beginnings. Cheshne was more than Her Shadow; of this, the demoness had no doubt. She – the Void – was awake; no longer slumbering within the bounds of ens as tenuously described by her oneiric form. And Soneillon, in whom all infinities collided, might alone in her psychosis apprehend a great, dark, devouring love.

    A sudden urge overcame her.

    Soneillon gestured, and the door to the chapel creaked open. Inside, all was again ordered and pristine, though nonetheless still profaned; the guts and ichor which had spilled in from the conflict of the previous day had been scoured clean. She entered and extended tendrils which seemed to caress the floor, feeling the draught which issued from the crypt below.

    Carefully, she lifted a three-hundred pound flag of granite and set it aside, revealing steep steps which led down into a narrow space with a low, vaulted ceiling. She descended slowly; a dozen sarcophagi were crowded into the sepulchre, along with smaller caskets and urns: Eadric’s direct forebears, and uncles and cousins removed by degrees. She inspected those which seemed the most recent, brushing away cobwebs, until she found the one she was looking for: directly below the altar, a narrow funerary coffer of marble, unadorned except for its simple brass plaque:


    THIOSTRI, Lady Deorham
    628-656 TR
    Dame of Witnung’s Chase

    Daughter of Nân of Jaive
    Beloved Wife of Moad Sauil, Baronet
    And of Orm and Eadric, Mother



    Soneillon folded her arms. “You would seem to have been a remarkable woman, Thiostri. Your elder son gave lessons to the Mind of Oronthon, and your younger is his Breath; the last prosopopoeia of Radiance. And I do not believe in coincidences.”

    She knelt, and lit an offertory taper. It flickered uncertainly as it illuminated the space, wavering in the chill breeze drawn through cracks in the chamber’s walls. The demoness focused and drew her knife, opening a deep cut in her palm. She squeezed her fist, and ichor dripped onto the sarcophagus. Potent magic coursed through her; even a vanished archetype might have responded to its entreaty.

    Tyakh, asrij svaam: an offering, my own blood. Were you a mortal woman, or one divine?”

    There was no sound; no movement; no shade which spoke. No thing. The taper guttered and went out. Peace, and an utter stillness. The darkness was perfect; unmarred.

    Soneillon sat in silence. Pasyaami. Tvam jaane: I see. Thou, I know.

    She pondered for a long while before finally cursing, standing and exiting the crypt. Her form altered, and her wings retracted and vanished: no sense in alarming the Oronthonists beyond the necessary. The demoness clad herself in sombre black – a high-collared robe which encased her form with an appropriate propriety – and drew her hair back after the fashion of an Orthodox Sister. Throwing a great, atrament cloak about herself, she dreamed her way to Galda, manifesting discreetly beside the war pavillion of the Ahma – a large affair which had been erected after the previous had been blasted away by Shomei. The daylight was waning; the voices inside the tent were intense, agitated and full of worry.

    Soneillon opened a heavy curtain of canvas and entered quietly; Eadric was taking counsel with his captains: Saints, Talions, great magnates of Wyre and the chiefs among the Illuminated. She lowered her hood: her presence was at once both disquieting and magnetic. Her beauty – which familiarity had somehow caused the Ahma to forget – transfixed those who gazed upon her; silence fell within. Eadric squinted; he had not encountered this particular façade before. While her features remained unchanged, the masque of the coquettish peasant-girl was entirely absent, replaced by a solemn focus and composure. If anything, her assumed guise – which suggested modesty and abnegation – made the succubus even more alluring.

    Saint Tahl the Incorruptible, who wore an Eye of Palamabron around his neck – the mate of that borne by the Ahma – glanced toward Eadric. Immediately, he had apprehended the truths which clashed within her, and knew who she was. Many others within guessed: Soneillon’s eyes were apertures through which form and Void regarded one another. Around the table, a dozen hands came to rest instinctively upon hilts and pommels, although the likely futility of any such gesture was lost to none, and least of all to Eadric; he knew that she could kill them all with a fleeting thought.

    Soneillon said nothing; her face was impassive.

    “A brief recess, Ahma?” Tahl inquired diplomatically. Inwardly, he grappled with the multiplicity of forms which he could perceive in her.

    Eadric nodded.

    When they were alone, Eadric approached her and gave an inquiring look. “Perhaps I should thank you for not appearing naked upon the conference table. Are you here to ensure my fidelity?”

    She offered a hand. “Now is not the time for levity, Eadric. Come to Deorham.”

    “Soneillon, we have only hours before the assault begins.”

    “Come,” she insisted. She was nervous. “There is something you need to see.

    He narrowed his eyes; this trepidation was most unlike her. “I assume I should be prepared to be upset?”

    “You should just be prepared,” Soneillon advised. “Although, in retrospect, everything makes perfect sense.”

    “As you are making little,” Eadric opined.

    “You spring from Void, Eadric; the Sun is born in the dark.”

    He swallowed; the memory of his own, isolated, second death still haunted him: a monad bereft, surrounded by night. “If this is some effort to distort…”

    Soneillon hissed. “Trust me, or do not! The choice is yours; and the via negativa is an artifact of Saizhan: this is your description of truth, not mine.”

    “Really?” He asked sceptically. “And how might you characterize that?”

    Ni thatuh, jah thata; ni bai, jah nih,” she half-smiled.

    “You are most vexatious.”

    Waihtai ni, waírthi. The epistemic must become the ontic – or rather the meta-ontic.”

    “And now even Soneillon would wax philosophical?” He groaned.*

    “Only when all else fails,” she said drily. “How much do you really trust me, Eadric?”

    Eadric looked at her, and shifted uneasily. He guessed her purpose. “You are proposing annihilation; that if I strip myself of my self, my Self will kindle? You have offered me this before, although its guise was more sinister at that time; the outcome crueller.”

    “Times have changed.” She drew close; her fingers trembled as she reached out and touched his face. “Are both saizhan and extinction not unattainable?** It can be sweet, Eadric; death and climax. But saizhan – if it is the transmetaphysic it purports to be – will sustain you.”

    He sighed. “Must everything be couched in terms of death and sex?”

    “Eventually. Am I not Soneillon?” She laughed. For a moment, the playfulness returned. “And I already hold you longer than I should.”

    He looked at her curiously.

    “Consider the Sun, Eadric. What is the Ahma – the manifest Breath of Oronthon in the World – if not that light? That is your legacy. This time between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox should be yours; you will be Nehael’s from spring until midsummer. Properly, I do not get you until autumn.”

    He gawked. “And the summer months?”

    “That would be your short friend.”

    “It might have been nice to have been consulted in this arrangement,” Eadric grumbled. “And if this is the ‘empty quarter,’ so to speak, then why am I still beholden to you?”

    She stared at him, her eyes penetrating to his core. “Because I am the jealous one, Eadric. I will always find it hard to let go. Besides, we started late this year. And this is your arrangement – or an arrangement made to accommodate you. Now, will you come to Deorham? Your third passing need not be final, merely complete.”

    “And you would then call me back?” He asked. “You suggested before that if I jumped, you might catch me.”

    “No,” Soneillon shook her head. “You must bring yourself back; Self-emanate ex nihilo. I can only make a cradle for you; ease your passage into oblivion with soft words and a warm embrace.”

    “This would seem a task of more than middling difficulty,” Eadric remarked ironically.

    “The Ahma is sempiternal, and will exist for as long as the World endures. I cannot destroy it, although I can deprive it of its physical dwelling. If Saizhan is what you claim it is, you may cross the Abyss with impunity and wake on the other side.”

    “Awaken to what?”

    “To Regency, Eadric. To your own incandescence.”

    “And what does that mean, exactly?” He asked.

    “Amongst other things, that I will have cause to fear you,” she said ruefully. “Well?”

    He sighed. “Do I need to bring anything?”

    “Your self only.” Soneillon gave an ironic smile. A sacrificial robe appeared in each of her hands. “Now. Would you prefer black, or white?”


    A mile to the south, Nehael paused briefly; the Ahma had all of the tools he needed: what he did with them was up to him. She drew; her bow sang rhythmically again in the dusk as she continued to loose arrow after arrow into the hordes of ghouls which pressed ever closer.

    *

    Eadric sat cross-legged upon the sarcophagus and glanced suspiciously at the ichor which stained it: a testament to Soneillon’s previous necromancy. “And here I was, thinking there were no taboos left to break.”

    Soneillon said nothing, and lit a black candle of invocation. Its flame burned the color of soot.

    “What, exactly, are you invoking?” He inquired.

    “I believe you know the answer to that,” the demoness replied. She wore her most malefic aspect now: a shape of terrible darkness; ravenous, clawed and fanged, with pinions which stretched to fill the chamber. Soneillon moved, and tendrils of madness and oblivion writhed about her. She slid forward suddenly, and Void held him in a vice. Kaalakamala, the Lotus of Death; she was delirium, and despair.

    Eadric swallowed. “Somehow, I think I like you best like this.”

    She regarded him closely. “That is well.”

    “Will there be pain?” He asked dubiously.

    “If you like.” Her claws, razor-sharp, pricked the skin on his back.

    “And if I don’t?”

    “Then there won’t.” She relaxed her grip.

    “That might be preferable,” he nodded.

    She arched an eyebrow. “If you are having second thoughts, Eadric, now would probably be a good time to articulate them. Would you like to reconsider?”

    “Yes. No. Proceed.”

    As you wish, Ahma.

    Talons sank into the granite lintel above his head and wings encased him, cocooning him in unbeing. Around him, form and substance disintegrated; he felt his strength begin to slowly ebb away. Like a heady wine, Soneillon drank ens from him, savoring its potency, until his brilliance had dimmed to the merest flicker, a guttering lamp borne above a yawning chasm without root or essence. The magnitude of the Void was immeasurable; its profundity, unguessable.

    Without fear or rancor, the Ahma gazed long and deep into the Abyss; she held him at the brink of annihilation for what seemed an eternity: Aeons wheeled past him as infinities were born, unfolded and died. He would have remained there indefinitely, and the impetus to go further finally arose not from himself, but from her: she urged him on without her, and he blessed her for it. Beyond Nothingness, he beheld the shining emptiness which neither was nor was not: the Fundamental without category.

    Seek the Dragon. She is waiting.. Void clenched softly, and snuffed out the last iota of light. Ecstasy and death converged, and in that fraction of a second Eadric understood her absolutely: what drove her, what she represented, what she must give up. He was awestruck; the kius was resolved, complete. His body was instantly consumed; no trace remained, save a scarf of black samite only. Soneillon – drunk with radiance – lay down upon the tomb, her wings draped over its sides, and silently wept.

    Finally, reluctantly, she roused herself and stood, once again assuming her human form with its funereal garb. She now had the bitterest task of all. Bile rose in her throat. She clenched her teeth, closed her eyes, and reached out with her mind.

    [Soneillon]: It is done. Nwm must conjure his herald in the hour before sunrise. Look to the Blackthorn at Deorham.

    [Nehael/Eleos]: (Empathy). Soneillon…

    [Soneillon]: Save it.

    The demoness mindfully folded the token, placed it within a pocket, and climbed the steps into the chapel. She closed the door behind her and entered the courtyard. The air was cold and the night was moonless; the stars glistened above, whispering expectantly to one another. Soneillon took Pharamne’s Urn and placed it carefully within the bole of the scion; immediately, she was diminished as its power left her. Veiling herself in shadows, she prepared to launch herself skywards: for almost nine months, she would walk on dark paths until the Sun fell within her orbit again.

    The slightest breeze alerted her to the sudden presence of another; a statuesque figure who towered above her. She turned and gave an inquiring look.

    “It was indicated that you might like some company,” Irel bowed.

    “Indeed?” Soneillon gave a small smile. “And yet it is not midsummer. Why has your mistress dismissed you?”

    “I was never compacted, if you recall; she merely intimated that I might come. I believe the Sela spoke with her and suggested it. I will leave, if you prefer.”

    “I did not say that,” she said wrily. “But it may be that you cannot endure where I am to go. I will wander through nightmares, Irel; into Delirium and beyond; Outside; through the space between the stars and into the Void.”

    “Then you must strive hard to keep me safe,” the deva replied with an even humor. “That I might prevent you from straying too far.”

    Soneillon looked up at him and sighed. “Thank-you, Irel. I think I should like that very much.”


    Eadric was gone, reduced to nihility. But the Ahma abode in saizhan. He would ignite with the dawn.

    A dawn which was still six hours away.







    *Translational Note:
    Ni thatuh, jah thata; ni bai, jah nih: Neither this nor that; neither both nor neither.
    Waihtai ni, waírthi.: That which is not, becomes.

    **The original kius regarding Eadric’s relationship with Soneillon was framed as Hwa Soneo ith ni bai afhwapnan jah saizhan thau ni maht ist laiston? , i.e. “What is Soneillon, if both saizhan and extinction are not unattainable?”

    *
    Last edited by Sepulchrave II; Saturday, 28th April, 2012 at 03:43 AM.

  • #1298
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    Great. Really, really, great!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sepulchrave II View Post
    Spoiler:
    This was the hardest update I have ever written. I'm still not happy with it.
    Understandable.
    Robert Blezard

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    Fantastic! Though I'm not quite sure what is going on (as usual) :-)

    Is this the prelude to a divine rank for Eadric?

    And... fifteen million undead?
    D&D, frankly, is the most fun when you get your ass handed to you but you still manage to find away to come out on top of the pile of corpses, looking like a typical Conan novel cover. - joachim

  • #1300
    Yeah, I'm envious of all that XP too. Very thrilling update, I wonder what Eardrick will finally do. Became Chtonic ?

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