Pharamne's Urn (updated 4/25/12) - Page 57




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    Quote Originally Posted by Sepulchrave II View Post
    Nwm scowled. "Point," he finally said. "Although if you're going to start establishing dogma, you'd better damn well make sure this time that it's clear that this is not an act to be emulated. News would get out; it always does. You would need to consider the ramifications of knowledge of the event amongst the 'faithful,' or whatever they are these days. And you need to decide if it's the Adversary who's driving your agenda."

    Eadric glared. "You just had to get that one in, didn't you."
    ::chuckles::
    I think one of the saddest things to see is a mosquito sucking on a mummy..... Forget it little friend.

 

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    I can't believe I missed this for so long. Sep's building up to something really major and I look forward to finding out what. Sometime before next year, please?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
    I can't believe I missed this for so long. Sep's building up to something really major and I look forward to finding out what. Sometime before next year, please?
    Perhaps he's got a 1-2 updates punch waiting in the wings. He seems to usually post in bursts.

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    Wow had the best morning and now I run into an update!

    Amazing! Cheers Sep <3 !!

    edit: I can't believe how often these updates always make me laugh while reading them. The characters are just so iconic and powerful in their personalities .
    Last edited by The Forsaken One; Monday, 8th September, 2008 at 09:51 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraysonEN View Post
    I don't think so. Remember that Mostin is still terrified of creatures with feathers
    Perhaps all the feathers will become tentacles.

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    I went through and pruned a year or so of bumps. Sep, if you'd like a more aggressive pruning, drop me a note.

    And thanks for the update!
    Most sorts of diversion in men, children and other animals, are in imitation of fighting.

    -Jonathan Swift

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eridanis
    I went through and pruned a year or so of bumps. Sep, if you'd like a more aggressive pruning, drop me a note.
    Thanks, Eridanis. Pruning would be great, but I know it's tedious work.


    ***


    Mostin Plays His Hand


    The dim light before dawn. In Soan, in the world of Sisperi, Nwm stood with the goddess Lai and her twelve handmaidens in a shallow bowl in the earth. The depression had once been a temple. Untended for more than a century, now it was overgrown with creepers; the roots of trees which had since sprouted and matured there had cracked the dressed stonework, obscuring the site's former purpose.

    Nwm had hallowed the remains, washing away memories of the blasphemies which had occurred during the last, futile defense of the temple against demons sent by Graz'zt. Now, all was still, but the air was heavy with anticipation. The group was arranged in a wide circle, with Nwm and Lai in the centre.

    The Preceptor, breathing slowly and easily in the chill air, lifted a flint knife, and began to chant. The echoing whispers of the handmaidens were barely audible.

    Lai stretched out her arms, her palms upward. With two swift, brutal cuts, Nwm opened up the veins of the goddess from elbow to wrist. Lai began to bleed profusely. Nwm held her forearms and looked into her face; her blood flowed over him, and soaked into the ground at their feet. He continued to chant. A breeze began to stir.

    The wind quickly grew to a tempest which raged around them, flinging leaves and debris into the air. Nwm's breathing became rapid, and his mind reached out into the storm.

    Arise, he silently commanded. Green fire consumed him; a cyclone of viridescence erupted, and whirled for the briefest of moments. Abruptly, the storm ceased. Life kindled.

    He caught Lai as she collapsed, although he himself was pale and shaking. He spoke more words, and strength flowed back into both of them.

    Dawn broke in Sisperi, and the sun leapt into the sky, exulting. Many hundreds of souls, graced with new forms, stood around them and gazed at them in silence and wonder: those who had perished within the confines of the temple. Over the course of hours, thousands more – who had awakened in the surrounding countryside – made their way to the site. Ninit and the ancestors led them in long columns into the bowl.

    Finally, when all had gathered – and now the sun rode high in the sky – the Nireem assembled together in the centre of the ruins. Saes was conspicuously absent, but with Jaliere's grudging acceptance, Ortwine had already taken her place amongst them.

    Rhul stood upon a mound of rubble which had once been an altar, and began to tell a long, bitter story. As he recited, Lai drew Nwm aside and spoke in hushed tones.

    "Stay," she implored. "Return to Mulhuk with us."

    "In time," Nwm smiled. "But I have other duties." He reached out, grasped a nearby sapling, and vanished.

    Ninit, who had observed the exchange, scowled.


    **

    Mostin floated amongst the smoking wreck of the encampment, his features impassive.

    Hours before, at his direction, the four exalted celestials – Oraios, Irel, Hemah and Shokad – had descended in a fire of ruin upon the army gathered outside of Thond's walls, and slain upwards of ten thousand soldiers in a matter of minutes. The Alienist had observed the carnage from a discreet distance, impressed with the efficiency of the destruction.

    Mulissu corporeated next to him. She raised an eyebrow.

    "What a mess," she sighed. "We have become politicians, Mostin. We demean ourselves."

    "We do what we must," Mostin shrugged. "I have no regrets."

    "Well spoken," a voice spoke unexpectedly from behind them.

    Mostin turned rapidly, prepared to unleash a barrage of disintegrates. Mulissu's power surged.

    "Peace." It was a statement of profound simplicity, uttered with such power that the cosmos might bend to see it done. A youth stood there, offering his palm. He seemed wholly unperturbed.

    "Who the hell are you?" Mostin asked.

    "A many-layered question," the other replied. "I regret that I cannot share that information with you at this time." The boy – who from his complexion may have been a native of the area – seemed oddly amused.

    Mostin furrowed his brow. "Why are you here?"

    The youth cracked his knuckles casually. "To witness the handiwork of Oronthon's servants. You have done good work today, Mostin."

    Mostin became nervous. Who is this? Mulissu's eyes narrowed.

    The youth touched his nose. "You should know that the demon Pazuzu has begun to ravage Eastern Trempa; other demons are starting to infest Ardan. Many Ushabam thaumaturges accompany them."

    Mostin was irritated, but could not help but be intrigued.

    "Yeshe's nihilist fanatics," the youth explained.

    "What is your interest in this situation?" Mulissu asked directly.

    "At the risk of seeming evasive, that is also a more complex question than it might first appear. I would prefer not to go into it."

    "You say little to engender trust," Mostin sighed.

    "A fair observation; fortunately, I do not require your trust. But I do need you to convey a message to the Ahma for me. Tell him this exactly: 'Remember what the Sela said, regarding your place in the downfall of Orthodoxy.'"

    Mostin was about to say Tell him yourself, but thought better of it. "Perhaps if…" he began.

    But the youth had vanished.

    Mostin turned to Mulissu and scowled. "This is disturbing. Could you read anything about him?"

    "Not a whit."

    "Nor I," Mostin concurred. "And I mislike being elected to communicate messages by unknown entities."

    "And Pazuzu?"

    "I should inform Eadric, if he doesn't know already. I cannot dispatch celestials within Wyre proper, anyway: this is up to him."

    "Mostin, we need to talk. I can't hold the paling around Fumaril for much longer."

    "Don't worry," Mostin appeared unconcerned. "The gears are shifting. Everything will happen quickly now."

    "How comforting," Mulissu said.


    **


    "Graz'zt has abandoned the Argent Palace and unleashed a chthonic tide centered on Zelatar. You should be proud, Mostin. You were complicit in reducing him to such a desperate strategy." Rimilin seemed genuinely impressed, though no less condescending than usual.

    "I had heard," Mostin replied smoothly.

    "I will aid you in binding him. For a price."

    "Strange. Jalael made a similar offer with her clique of wizards. I sense a renewed interest in the whereabouts of a certain urn."

    "Every mage in Wyre has consulted Shomei's library in an attempt to glean tidbits of information regarding that pot, Mostin."

    "Not I, alas," Mostin sighed.

    "Nor I," Rimilin admitted. "There has been no time for scholarly research. Do I want the urn? Of course! How can there be any doubt on that count? I will find out how it works after I get it."

    Not just the urn. This bastard wants Azzagrat. Graz'zt's throne. The arrogance. Mostin smiled, and shook his head. "You'll never do it."

    "We'll see," Rimilin said smugly. "It's time: bring him in, Mostin. You won't have a better chance. I will aid you. As will Mulissu, I've no doubt: she holds onto a grudge, that one. Your sprite and your Shomeiette can contribute. Jalael, Troap, Muthollo. You have your cabal, Alienist."

    "What is your price?"

    "Access to the web of motes."

    Mostin considered briefly. "Let us assume, for the moment, that I agree."

    "It leaves the question of what to do with said bound Prince," Rimilin observed, somewhat surprised. "Imprisonment, extortion, domination or termination are all viable options; nor are they necessarily mutually exclusive choices."

    "I cannot dominate him."

    "I could, with help," Rimilin suggested.

    "I would sooner cut off my pseudopod, than hand Graz'zt over to Rimilin of the Skin," Mostin snorted.

    "So what do you suggest?"

    "A very precise coordination of efforts," Mostin replied carefully. "It is rather risky; if it fails, we will need to flee or eliminate him immediately."

    Rimilin looked at the Alienist suspiciously. "You have my attention."

    "Understand that I have long pondered this question, Rimilin. It requires a certain spell synchrony. Graz'zt must be struck by a superb dispelling only a fraction of a second before he is subjected to a minimus containment. He will not have the opportunity to re-erect his mind blank before he is captured."

    Rimilin gawked. "Ingenious, Mostin. I must admit it. Such a strategy would not have occurred to me."

    "His receptacle will eventually need to be protected by a disjunction ward, although if due care is taken with it, such a precaution can wait for a little while."

    "And when you have your Graz'zt-in-a-Jar? What then?"

    "Your involvement in the process will end at that point," Mostin smiled. "You need not be concerned on that count."

    "I wish to be present during any interrogation regarding the urn."

    "I will convoke an assembly to discuss the urn," Mostin spoke calmly. "Any interrogation will be conducted under the full auspices of the Acadamy."

    "Touch, Mostin. I will accompany you when you deliver it to Daunton. I do not trust you. "

    "Nor I, you. And Rimilin," Mostin stared madly, "if you do decide to betray me, you had better be sure that you are thorough in your efforts, and overlook no contingencies. I have dealt with you with due civility. You might rue it, were our relationship to change."


    *

    Mostin tried to grasp the mote again. It was elusive, and kept slipping into the region of space and time which Mostin had come to realize approximated to the Region of Dreams.
    The remnant of Murmuur was impossible to isolate, his memory fading rapidly.

    Mostin spun another arc, this time for Azazel, and observed a convoluted knot of resonances. One radicle drew him onward and backwards, to a time when rebel smiths hammered furiously in forges upon the Blessed Plain, contriving engines of destruction to assault the Empyrean.

    Murmuur's mote hovered nearby, as if attempting to taunt the Alienist. Mostin ignored it, concentrating instead on Sekabin, a proto-devil of immense cunning, who oversaw the construction of devices which breathed unholy fire, and artifacts whose purpose was otherwise long-forgotten. Sekabin, it had been, who had wrought the doors of Murmuur's Tower, and helped anchor it to unnamed worlds which would later be revealed to the rebels as the prison from which they could never escape.

    He would need to conjure the devil, and extract the key to activating the Tower from it. A task well within his abilities. In his mind, he weighed the benefits of a return to Goetia against the practical reality of already having celestials on the ground.

    The Alienist relaxed his thoughts and returned his perception to the present. The echoes of the deceased Dukes – Murmuur, Titivilus and Furcus – drifted on the edge of comprehension. Deeper in dream, Soneillon's mote flickered in and out of being; taut radicles bound it to familiar nodes: Graz'zt, Eadric, Rimilin, Yeshe. With a colossal effort of will, Mostin generated a connection between the demoness, his own significator, and the Prince of Azzagrat. A plethora of possible futures exploded into being, and he seized immediately upon one of them. Pharamne's Urn.

    He gasped as new infinities were born to his inner sight.

    The decision by Mostin to end his Enochian phase was made in a heartbeat.


    **

    An hour before midnight, the Ahma – together with Tahl, Tarpion and a number of other resurrected temple grandees – assembled beneath a canopy on a conical hill twenty miles south of Hrim Eorth in the Wyrish Marklands. Above them, flapping noisily in the wind, a massive banner stretched: a rising sun cradled within the outstretched boughs of a great tree. The green field of the standard appeared black in the torchlight; its device was a ruddy gold.

    In the valleys below, thousands of campfires flickered. Against the Ahma's better judgment many companies were mustered together, but he felt powerless to deny the faithful proximity to the Sela. Those cadres which had been dispatched beyond the Claviger's remit were small, mobile, and bolstered with protective magicks.

    Nehael's farspoken words still echoed in Eadric's mind. They had been less than reassuring:

    She is what she is, Ahma. If you want her back, then just do it: you have the power and authority. It is your decision to make.

    Which was to say that Nwm's assessment of the situation – that Soneillon would bring a corruption with her, were the Preceptor to reincarnate her – might be correct, after all. Nehael herself had surrendered to the Green, and had been relinquished by one Truth to another; on reflection, Eadric realized that perhaps the Ancient Void – which owned Soneillon – might be less accommodating than Oronthon in that regard. He stared at the Eye of Cheshne, which brooded on the horizon, pregnant with power.

    As they waited, Tahl regarded the Ahma carefully. The saint's divinations had revealed that, in all likelihood, Yeshe would now move to embody the demoness within a day. Eadric had wavered, as though he were waiting for some other sign; none had been forthcoming. Furthermore, rumour of demonic depredations in the East had agitated Eadric's captains: all were restless, waiting for the Ahma to act.

    Finally, Nwm appeared, sprouting upwards from the ground. He was shaky and haggard.

    "You look awful," Eadric observed. "I take it you were successful?"

    "Thank-you," Nwm replied drily. "And yes. We have made a beginning. How is your current moral quandary progressing?"

    "Very nicely, thank-you." Eadric sat unceremoniously in his armor. "Everything is messed up, Nwm. There are too many overlapping paradigms; things are becoming confusing."

    "And the massacre at Thond?"

    "A miserable reality."

    "I sympathize," Nwm said earnestly. "Being an agent of retribution carries a certain weight with it. There was no intervention by the Hierophants?"

    "If there had been, it might have allayed some of my reservations. I think the Cheshnite leadership would rather have me wallow in remorse."

    "And do you?"

    "I have no inkling to indulge my conscience: we are at war. Things are about to get much worse."

    "Apparently you have a bright mood upon you. What of the demoness?"

    "I see no future in such a liaison," Eadric said drily.

    "A divorce, then?" Nwm inquired.

    "Yes. And I foresee acrimony."

    "I will be tactful," Nwm smiled. "So. Yeshe gets Soneillon. Is that wise?"

    Eadric looked desperate. "Nwm! I thought you opposed her revival?"

    "And so I do. I would oppose Yeshe's efforts no less than I would yours. She appears driven."

    "The memory of the cascade at Khu propels her," Eadric explained. "In her mind, it was the greatest blasphemy which could have been visited upon the holiest of sites."

    "Feeling sympathetic?"

    "Hardly. I would still prefer her dead."

    "Then you will be relieved to hear that I have a solution," Nwm said. "Mostin has expressed an interest in conjuring your demoness; he was reluctant to divulge his agenda precisely."

    Eadric looked suspicious. "He said nothing to me earlier."

    "You've spoken?"

    Eadric nodded dumbly.

    "Something is wrong?"

    "He passed a message to me, from an 'interested party:' Remember what the Sela said, regarding your place in the downfall of Orthodoxy.'

    "That is all?" Nwm was baffled.

    "It is sufficient. I understand its context well enough." Eadric swallowed.

    "And the 'interested party?'"

    The Ahma stared at the Preceptor, and raised his eyebrows.

    "Oh." Nwm breathed. "Sh*t."

    "Verily," Eadric agreed.

    "Does Mostin know who it was?"

    "I don't think so. And I'd prefer that it remain between you and I for now. I also find it interesting to note that after even the briefest exchange with said entity, during which no mention of fiendish allies was even mentioned, Mostin suddenly seems willing to renounce his Empyreal contract. In addition to the Exalted, he has conjured thirty celestials in two days, Nwm."

    "Mostin is playing his hand," Nwm nodded.

    "Except he keeps all his cards hidden."

    Nwm laughed. "Whichever trumpet Mostin hears, it is not yours, Ed. Is that all?"

    Eadric laughed bitterly. "No indeed. Get some rest, Nwm. You're going to need it. Tomorrow, we hunt demons."

    "What kind?"

    "The Pazuzu kind."

    "Where?" The Preceptor groaned.

    "In Trempa and Ardan."

    "A strangely marginal choice for assault."

    "Yes and no," the Ahma sighed. "It is also the spiritual homeland of Saizhan. Bring whatever allies you can, Nwm. I mean anybody. We need heavy firepower."

    "Is there a plan?"

    "We find him. The Saints use their power, so he can't slip away. I take him down."

    "Is there a better plan?"

    "Only if you can scry him. He is emanating a massive nondetection and we only know his general whereabouts."

    "How hard can it be it to locate a rampaging horde of demons?"

    "More of a troupe than a horde, Nwm. And harder than you might think. He's slippery, this one. And he's in no rush. He's having fun at the moment. He's also beating us over the head with the arcane Injunction. His presence is a religious matter."

    "Is it?" Nwm asked. "Then hand out the acorns. You will all assist me in a spell."


    **


    Temenun pondered.

    In Zelatar, the eruption continued uninterrupted, and Ancient Darkness consumed Azzagrat. Prince Orcus quickly retreated what remained of his armies, fortified himself against conjurations by the Hierophants at Jashat, and gave thought to the tide of unbeing which might reach him in half a millennium. Companies of Death Knights – together with squads of kelvezu – were dispatched to a hundred likely worlds in search of Graz'zt.

    Pazuzu – now joined by vrocks, succubi and flocks of fiendish corvids – razed villages on the shores of lakes in the Wyrish hinterland, crucifying the inhabitants for his amusement; balors were busy tearing down Urgic monasteries.

    Yeshe was preparing to bind the first chthonic, Gu-Kaama: the apple of Cheshne's eye; Soneillon, Queen of Throile. She had intimated that the monster Arhuz would follow. The Binder cursed silently as Prahar – who had struck a deal with the Anantam – made use of the circle she had erected to enslave several middle-ranking demomic magnates in quick succession, including Dhenu, a bull-faced fierce protector. Three more pavillions had been raised. The ugras had been dispatched defensively in the neighbourhood of the Temple and reinforced with squadrons of goristros and succubi. Prahar's unlikely choice to play a more cautious game had won him the backing of three cabals of blood-magi who were otherwise subject to the Wyrish Injunction.

    Idyam, Rishih and Choach courted the Kesha-Dirghaa – theurges who formed the bulk of the ritual pool – but whose activities had been curtailed by Gihaahia. The compound – impregnable as it was – had been further garrisoned with dozens of glabrezu. Choach had invoked massive screens over subject Thalassine cities, and called a general mobilization of magically compelled allies. Idyam surrounded himself with malign spirits.

    Sibud – whose tools extended beyond magic – had unleashed a ferocious tide of vampirism upon Jashat and Iea which threatened to consume the cities, and was rapidly spreading to the surrounding countryside. The creatures sired by Sibud were bestial and voracious. Temenun also knew that the vampire was wooing key spellcasters to aid him in his storm of blood.

    Naatha made envoys to unaligned powers to seduce or coerce them, and it was known that she had spoken with several Wyrish mages. It was also rumoured that she had fled from Mulissu's wrath when attempting to gain access to Fumaril. Rimilin, she shunned, for fear of being dominated.

    Jahi plotted in the dark. Dhatri prepared for her procession.


    **


    Princes, attend me. Mostin issued the command again. Part of him regretted that it was already the final time; a far larger part was relieved that he would no longer be required to deal with their noisome feathers and light.

    "Gather the lesser devas," Mostin instructed, shielding his eyes with his appendage. "You will aid the Ahma in his efforts: seek out demons on Wyre's periphery – outside of the circumscribed area, in case I need to remind you – and eliminate them. When the threat is expunged from Ardan, set a watch upon the monastery at Esoc. Six devas and an archon should be sufficient.

    "Take your remaining minions, and harry the demons in the vicinity of the Cheshnite temple at Jashat. Destroy as many as you can, but do not attempt to invest the main compound. You may continue this activity intermittently for the remaining duration of our compact; otherwise, resume your patrols of Wyre's borders. I leave the exact details to you."

    "Mostin," Irel-Who-Smites spoke, fixing the Alienist with his gaze. "These are not the Ahma's explicit instructoins."

    "Not exactly," Mostin admitted. "But I must be permitted a certain amount of leeway in interpreting his wishes. My celestial alliance will soon end, and this will be the last command I will give you; you are still bound to carry it out."

    "I must strongly advise against the conjuration of fiends," Oraios said sternly.

    "That is because you don't have all of the information," Mostin gave an insane grin. "Thank-you, gentlemen. That is all. Enjoy your eternity, and I will enjoy mine."


    *

    It was utterly dark in the summoning room, and the smell of incense lingered in the air. Mostin was intimately conscious of his surroundings, his augmented perception penetrating the blackness around him. Nearby, there was a void within a void.

    "Thank-you for the courtesy of manifesting as yourself," Mostin said drily. He was weary: the effort of invoking a metagnostic inquiry followed by a wish and a superb planar binding had left him dizzy.

    A girl appeared. "Do not presume," Soneillon said. "Is this how the Ahma has chosen to deal with the situation?"

    "I want Pharamne's urn, Soneillon. You are its former mistress. You have information."

    Soneillon raised an eyebrow. "So I have something you want? That makes for an altogether more interesting discussion."

    Mostin sighed.

    "I would prefer a more relaxed environment," Soneillon suggested.

    "I do not feel my Goetic Dunce hat on my head."

    "This circle won't hold me for more than a day, Mostin."

    "I pray that this doesn't take that long," Mostin groaned.

    "I would overwhelm you in a contest of magic," Soneillon smiled. "I sense your reservoir is almost depleted."

    Mostin stared at her, "Maybe," he finally said. "Although I doubt it. And I think you might be reluctant to risk being unmade again. I believe I have the advantage."

    "Unmade? Mostin, you have much to learn regarding the Truth."

    "I am less interested in the truth, than the urn," Mostin was unfazed. "How far did your control over it extend?"

    "Are we bargaining now? Good. I will answer that question if you answer mine."

    Mostin gave a shrug. "Very well."

    "The demiplanes which abut Throile were made with the urn. With it, I have drained oceans. Levelled mountain ranges. Generated worlds."

    "That sounds delightful," Mostin nodded. "Did your cabal participate in your efforts to control the urn?"

    "Why must you always be so functional, Mostin? Pragmatic. In any event, it is my turn to pose a question. You have been consorting with Seraphim: I smell it. The stakes are higher than I suspected. Which demons have the immortals bound already, Mostin?"

    "Pazuzu. Alrunes. Baphomet. Munkir. A dozen balors. Many more."

    "Do you plan to conjure Graz'zt?"

    "I believe it is my turn," Mostin gave a ghastly grin. "I will rephrase my last question: which of your cabal members were party to your use of the urn?"

    "If I agree to answer, you must issue a sending for me immediately."

    "That would depend upon to whom it should be delivered," Mostin said carefully, "and the exact wording of the message."

    "To Chaya. The message is this: This is Mostin the Metagnostic. I have a message from Soneillon: Prepare for my return."

    Mostin's eyes widened. "You are optimistic regarding the outcome of our exchange then?"

    "I'm confident I'll walk out of this summoning room," Soneillon said lightly. "Do you agree to communicate this message?"

    Mostin considered. "I agree to your stipulation, on the condition that I may pose an additional question."

    Soneillon sighed. "Fine. The names are: Adyell, Helitihai, Orychne, Chaya, Lehurze; the principal members only."

    "Thank-you. That wasn't so hard, was it? How quickly could you generate a demiplane – by which I mean how soon did it reach its full extent – and to what degree did you deplete your collective psychic resources?"

    "I perceive at least two questions, Mostin. Which would you like me to answer?"

    Mostin scowled. "The latter is more germane."

    "Each of my handmaidens was emptied of power; I myself suffered no such debilitating effects." Implicit in the answer was the reminder: I am chthonic. You would do well to remember it.

    Mostin paused to consider, swiftly making a series of magical calculations in his mind.

    "The sending, Mostin?" Soneillon raised an eyebrow.

    Grudgingly, Mostin retrieved his stone and issued the message.

    "What are you planning, Mostin?'

    "Now that information would involve a year of servitude."

    Soneillon smiled innocently. "Let me reverse the question. What is a year of my submission to you worth?"

    Mostin gawked. "You cannot be serious."

    "I am deadly serious, Mostin. What is access to my reservoir worth to you?"

    Mostin rocked back and forth on his heels. "A lot," he finally conceded. Especially if it means I can snub Rimilin. "What do you want?"

    "Give me Graz'zt, Mostin. Of all creatures which hate him, I despise him the most."

    Mostin invoked a moment of prescience.

    "You are also anxious to avoid a compact with Yeshe," the Alienist observed drily, "whose terms might be more demanding than mine. No, Soneillon. I think that to have Prince Graz'zt delivered as a gift – to do with as one will – that is worth more than a year of thralldom to me."

    "And to Rimilin? What might my submission be worth to him?" Soneillon asked pointedly.

    "Might I remind you that it is my thaumaturgic circle which holds you, not Rimilin's?"

    Soneillon stretched lazily. "You could secure my confinement, Mostin. You could invest a great deal of energy in binding me to your will. It is my guess that you don't want to, however, as your limited resources are better deployed elsewhere."

    "True. But I am stubborn, and I will not be foiled; even against my better judgment I would coerce you, just to make the point. Give me one year of service, and freely share all knowledge that you have of the urn. Give me names of the chthonics. Give me your reservoir. And I will deliver Graz'zt to you within a week."

    "Out of generosity, and for aesthetic reasons, I will extend the bargain to a year and a day, Mostin. But I will consider the pact to have begun when he is mine."

    "Which leaves us an uncomfortable honor period," Mostin scowled. "Might I suggest a less demanding contract to tide us over, until the main agreement takes effect?"

    "State your terms," Soneillon breathed.

    "You will protect me with your ecstasy of negation. You will aid me in retrieving Murmuur's tower from Afqithan."

    "These are no small tasks, Mostin…"

    "I will give you Adyell."

    Soneillon smiled graciously. "Thank-you, Mostin. Adyell will be a useful asset."

    "You would exact no vengeance?" Mostin seemed surprised.

    "No, Mostin. I can spare none."


    **


    In Jashat, Yeshe fumed. The ritual had been ineffective, despite her prognostications to the contrary. Fate had shifted course whimsically. She stormed from the circle, and confronted Temenun in the sanctum.

    "I am thwarted. Did you foresee this?" She barked the question at him.

    "No," Temenun purred.

    "Do you have an explanation?"

    "Our enemy has superior prolepsis." The Tiger remained calm.

    "Mostin." Yeshe said. "Sibud must annihilate him."

    "Feel free to argue that point with your Brother," Temenun replied. "My focus lies elsewhere. Yeshe, I will demonstrate the art of binding to you."

    *

    Yeshe watched from her tower and chewed her lip thoughtfully.

    Below in the courtyard, within the circle and near it, demons were gathered. In four hours, Temenun had conjured twenty mariliths. Robed in purple and black and bearing his iron coronet upon his brow, he had foregone the usual niceties of compacting the demons, and simply dominated them all. Only now, he tapped his reservoir and spoke a powerful summons.

    A void which burned – one of the kin of Carasch – erupted onto the edge of being. It emanated terrible power. Seconds later, another manifested.

    Yeshe's eyes narrowed. Temenun knew primeval magic, and remembered names forgotten by all others.

    He raised his hand and wove a dream rapidly. Abruptly, the courtyard was empty.

    Yeshe paced briefly, before descending into the deep caverns below the compound. Here most of the Cheshnite forces were marshalling: demons conjured by the favored souls of the Naganam; desert-dwelling spirits of ill temper; companies of half-giants in enamelled armor, drawn through teleportation circles from the jungles of Utter Shth.

    Within an unlit chapel filled with death, Yeshe approached Visuit, who sat in meditation amongst the corpses.

    Yeshe bowed. "The Tiger-who-Waits has pounced. He has had some prescience, which he has not shared."

    "The Mouthpiece has not approached me," Visuit growled.

    "Leave Anumid to me," Yeshe replied. "You'll get your war by nightfall."

    *

    In the early morning – after the Ahma and his party had passed through a tree into Trempa – Temenun struck the Wyrish encampment. While he himself remained in Dream, the Tiger's demons arrived a furlong distant from the Sela's tent.

    A barrage of dispelling magic followed from the chthonics; zones of forbiddance crumpled. Unholy auras flickered on, and blade barriers ripped through unwary Temple troops.

    As Urqual sat in Saizhan, observing thought pass through Mind, he was aware that nearby Templars moved; his empty eyes followed them as though he watched them.

    There was a sound like a roaring hurricane.

    And death.
    Last edited by Sepulchrave II; Wednesday, 24th September, 2008 at 06:04 AM.

  • #568
    Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

    Many thanks, Sep.

    Mostin and Soneillon are going to be a funny team, I predict. Significantly less drama and more ass-kicking.
    One of the best storyhours around: The Doomed Bastards

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  • #569
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    Ignore Knightfall
    Wicked!

    Soneillon is back!
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  • #570
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    Ignore EroGaki
    Sweet!! Awesome update, Sep! Thanks a bunch!

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