Pharamne's Urn (updated 4/25/12) - Page 63




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  1. #621
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    What a pleasant surprise! An unexpected update... *goes to read the update immediately*

 

  • #622
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    Fabulous update, Sep! My favorite line:

    [Mostin]: These minor infinities are of no particular concern to me, in any case.

  • #623
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    Wow, this was an awesome update! But the cliffhanger - ouch - it will be painful to wait until the next update!

    And poor Wyre! The balance of power seems to have shifted substantially... against the heroes... and if one adds the newly fallen angels to that - ouch! Lately, the heroes have been very proactive and the drivers of events, but this time they lost the initiative and control completely. I do wonder how they will deal with the dire situation.

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    Awesome, I congratulate. Everything is happening fast ... and on superb scale. I wonder what will Mostin do with the Urn.

  • #625
    This SH just gets better and better. The problem is that it makes it so hard to wait fot the next update.

    Thanks Sep!

    ***

    As an aside, is the SH still updated and compiled? If so, where can I get it?

  • #626
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jumbie View Post
    As an aside, is the SH still updated and compiled? If so, where can I get it?
    There's Cheiromancer's thread @ http://www.enworld.org/forum/story-h...08-update.html but I haven't made any updates to the .doc files in the Sepulchraves-Wyre : Sepulchrave's Wyre Fan Appreciation Group since the Soneillon II threads (11 Nov 2003). I suppose I really should get around to that sometime ....

    In the meanwhile, if you want to download the SH, you should be able to print it to .pdf via the thread tools, IIRC.

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    Thanks grodog.

  • #628
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    Reversal


    Mostin stood with Queen Soneillon in the dusk of Afqithan. The demoness was subdued; whether reflecting on the site of her prior demise, or merely hatching some other plot, Mostin could not tell. Around them, Faerie balked at their presence; fortunately, the local sidhe-lord was occupied elsewhere.

    Before them, Murmuur's tower reared; about it, a vast umbral drake slowly slithered, its eyes penetrating the shadows nearby. The Alienist – shrouded to all perception – eyed it suspiciously. The thing was an atavism; a corpse tearer imbued with darkness and evil. Against any but the most potent magicks, it was utterly immune.

    Mostin had determined to keep it. He quickly dominated it and commanded it to assume a less imposing size; it became a seven-foot wyrmling which coiled itself neatly at the base of the tower. Mostin approached, giving a sidelong glance to the linnorm, before looking at the structure's circumference.

    Within the black outer face of the wall – smoother and stronger than cut diamond – faint traceries of dormant gates were visible, accessible to those who knew the correct combinations of syllables and glyphs. The tower rose hundreds of feet above him, and Mostin gazed in wonder; its perfect magical geometry, he knew, spoke of symmetries accurate to the width of an atom. This was its true shape, if such it possessed; Murmuur's tower was an artifact of deception, as well as war.

    The Alienist ran his appendage over the outside at a height of five feet, and whispered powerful words; a small door appeared, between the portals to Maladomini and Ca๏na. It opened soundlessly; beyond, a great reception hall stretched. The walls were panelled with ebony; couches were festooned with plush silks and velvets. Great sconces burned ruddily. Mostin stopped momentarily.

    "There may still be menial devils present," he said in a low voice. "They will not be hostile; they are bound to the service of the tower, and may not leave it. Please do not annihilate them."

    They continued. Soneillon paused by the entrance: bound in a temporal stasis, likely as a decoration, a solar stood in a striking pose, its sword raised as though ready to decapitate a foe of similar stature.

    Mostin shivered and walked forward into the centre of the space, and slowly they began their exploration. Chamber upon chamber. Balcony upon balcony. Hall upon hall. The d้cor ranged from the austere to the fantastic; Mostin found himself generally agreeable to the various modes and themes present. Occasionally, spined devils would flap past, occupied with sundry tasks.

    After an hour, when he had charted over two hundred rooms, including parlours, offices, torture chambers, conservatories, drawing rooms and private apartments, Mostin finally found his way to the conference hall where the Infernal Duke Murmuur had once held court.

    With his ego amplified by Soneillon's magic, Mostin sat on a carved ivory chair at the head of a long table. Murmuur's ducal throne, but also – in a manner of speaking – the helm by which the tower was steered.

    He wrestled with it briefly, before asserting his will and attuning the tower's resonances to himself.

    With a passing thought, Mostin translated the entire edifice and its contents to the borders of Wyre where his manse had once stood. He disguised it as a rustic, overgrown keep of the late Borchian period.


    **


    Ortwine brandished Heedless lazily. Ichor covered her; her eyes blazed with an old greed. In her left hand, she clutched a soft leather case containing a dozen black candles of invocation, won from the corpses of the Ushabam in the ruin of the Trempan village. Nearby, a dominated balor brooded like a black stormcloud, its skin intermittently flaring. Reverberations in the Green impinged upon the sidhe's mind; she tried to shake them off, but to no avail.

    As he meditated amidst the carnage, Eadric felt a low vibration. An archon, He'el, appeared before him, wordlessly communicating.

    [He'el]: Hail, Ahma. Much evil transpires. Three storms of blood have been unleashed. The Adversary is abroad. The Sela is assailed; Sercion supplicates you.

    Eadric rose immediately, addressing Tahl and Moda. "Get to the encampment as fast as you can."

    The Ahma invoked a holy aura, drew Lukarn, and retrieved from beneath his breastplate a necklace upon which clay images of various adepts hung. He crushed a tiny icon of Sercion between his thumb and forefinger.

    Instantly, he was transported into a nightmare.

    Heaps of Templars and devas lay about him, their faces contorted in expressions of agony; blasphemies had slain them. Thirty yards away loomed two great shapes of burning void, emanating death. Only the Saints and the doughtiest of the celestials could withstand them. Kustus, Wurz and Anaqiss endured a storm of magic and blows. Sercion lay close by, stunned but still breathing.

    Immediately aware of the presence of the Ahma, the chthonics turned their attention to him.

    Eadric leapt at them.


    **


    Teppu scowled at the sky: clouds gathered above him. He waved his hand dismissively. A calm, clear morning reasserted itself.

    Around him, Nizkur brooded and waited. The sprite looked into a pool of water, inspecting his appearance, and adjusted an eyebrow minutely. New tenants had taken up residence in an elm-grove situated in a deep vale some thirty miles away: a sprite and a simulacrum who made a peculiar couple. He would pay a visit and greet them formally, before Nodri – an ancient redcap who dwelled nearby – began to make mischief on them.

    Teppu made his way through veils and glamours into a world which was both that and the other, and arrived before Nehael, who sat contemplating a leaf beneath the primeval Tree.

    "Thank-you for dealing with the storm," she said. "I would've gotten to it."

    "The vampire has made a statement of intent, even if he knew it was doomed to fail," Teppu observed. "I am planning on visiting Mostin's apprentices, who have commandeered an obscure nook of the forest. I've asked Hlioth not to threaten them."

    Nehael raised an eybrow. "Somehow I suspect your motives."

    "They present an interesting conundrum," Teppu grinned. "One is a fey and the other lacks a persona entirely."

    Nehael nodded. "Mostin was wise to secret them within Nizkur; there is nowhere now more secure."

    "He takes great efforts to protect them."

    "His actions are not always selfish," Nehael smiled. "Mostin possesses a peculiar loyalty."

    "And you?" Teppu inquired. "Did your phyllomancy resolve your dilemma?"

    "In a manner of speaking," Nehael sighed. "I feel the need to go and look at the Sun for a while."

    "Mind your eyes," Teppu said wrily.


    **


    To an outside observer – one who could observe invisible, mind blanked celestials at any rate – the descent of Irel, Shokad, Hemah and Oraios and the two dozen devas who accompanied them would have made a magnificent spectacle.

    Wings folded, plummeting, with swords drawn and auras blazing, their vibration was fundamentally changed at a height of around two hundred feet; a great fume of smoke arouse around them, ruddy fire kindled, and their aspect became terrible.

    The conversation which had elapsed between the exalted celestials and the olive-skinned youth had taken the merest fraction of a second to transpire in the World of Men. In the demiplane which the Adversary had generated around the company, any length of time may have elapsed. Patient beyond all measure, perhaps the Nameless Fiend – after aeons of debate – finally swayed the four celestial princes with his relentless logic. Or he might, after a century, have become bored and simply coerced them to his irresistible Will.

    In any event, before their attack began, the angels might be said to have become devils, although in fact their status was rather more ambiguous; as yet fully undescended, they retained all their beauty and nobility. A dark choir, their evil was fresh as virgin snow. The Adversary endowed them, and wrought about them wards of surpassing potency.

    But they were still pactbonded with Mostin, and three weeks had yet to to pass before their agreement expired. Their descent continued, and they crashed like meteors through the apex of a ziggurat; an explosion of rubble accompanied their entrance into the chamber below. Irel raised his mace and smote the retainers of the demon Munkir, exulting in his awareness, his power, his lust for battle. His spirit soared.

    I am free, he knew. And, if thereafter, he were condemned to an eternity of torture, he knew that for that one moment – to experience it in its fullness – it would still be worth it. He was.


    **


    First came swarms of insects and vermin, sicknesses and poisonings.

    At midnight, a plague of shadows and spectres then heralded Dhatri's procession from the Temple of Cheshne at Jashat. In the van, Visuit led a group of godlings, demonic nobility, undead knights, and an immense cavalry of half-giants from the far South; hideous beasts of every stripe followed. In the main battle, Dhatri's vast bulk was hauled in a great palanquin, and numberless ghasts surrounded her. A steady stream of sacrifice was brought to her; her hunger remained insatiable.

    As she passed the threshold of the Temple, a gloom enshrouded the land. From Galda to northern Pandicule – encompassing the entire Thalassine region including Fumaril – all light was suddenly extinguished. The spell – the Pall of Dhatri – was far more potent than any that had yet been wrought: Anumid had commanded each of the five cabals of the Anantam and all of the Kesha-Dirghaa to participate. Within the darkness, creatures otherwise vulnerable to daylight might roam.

    The company turned northeast, toward Thond and Jompa, once bustling towns but now living hells for the mortals who still abode there: these were the closest source of food for Dhatri.

    Soon afterwards, Sibud – who also hungered – veiled himself with magic and flew out into the shadows.


    **


    They were already at Rimilin's doors, by the time that the Acolyte of the Skin perceived them; a function of his abode, which acted as an extension of his own consciousness in that regard. Eight demons – mariliths and succubi, but including a kelvezu assassin of high standing – riding great nightmares. To mundane perception, they had assumed the form of gallant knights; Rimilin found it curious that they persisted in the guise: surely they knew who they were dealing with?

    "Where is Graz'zt?" Rimilin's voice echoed in the stones at the base of the tower. "Is he skulking nearby, or does he absent himself out of shyness?"

    Megual dismounted. "The Prince has other debts to settle, of greater enormity. May we speak?"

    "And so we are," the disembodied voice replied drily. "You will excuse me if I am reluctant to allow you ingress; I am generally suspicious of kelvezu. And your reputation precedes you, Megual. What message are you here to convey? If a threat, then begone; if I hear it I will quickly grow tired and blast you all. If a bribe, then proceed; I am eminently corruptible."

    Megual smiled. "I wish for news: of Mostin the Metagnostic, Eadric of Deorham, the demoness Soneillon, and the plot to conjure Graz'zt. You may consider yourself pardoned in complicity, if of such you are guilty, if you render useful information. Graz'zt will reward you richly."

    There was a brief silence, as Rimilin considered his response.

    He manifested before Megual, bearing a rod of ivory bound with steel. Impenetrable wards surrounded him. "In fact, you hold no fear for me; we should be clear on that count, before we continue. Tell Graz'zt that we will speak more on this matter when he renders Pharamne's urn to me. If my price seems outrageous, tell him to find another informant. Tell him also that Ilistet is mine, now; I have broken her to my will: there will be no negotiation on this point. If you or he – with his tawdry band – wish to assail me, feel free to try, but in all conscience I must advise you against such a course of action. You may go now."

    Megual remained expressionless. If they attacked, Rimilin would quickly dominate one or more of them; no good would come of that. And if Ilistet were nearby…Megual wondered what other monsters Rimilin had bound. He bowed politely, and turned to leave.

    Rimilin smiled. "Wise choice."


    **


    Through stiffening winds, Prince Graz'zt rode west with Chepez and Queen Mazikreen: succubi infamous for their fierceness and slipperiness respectively. The landscape between Jashat and Fumaril – in more settled times rich with vineyards and olive groves – was become a blighted, poisonous waste, stalked by demons and phantoms.

    "The World bends easily to Darkness," the Prince observed. "All of the signs are here. The Celestial Era is over; soon the Interdict will be in shreds."

    They reached Mulissu's Paling and reined in their steeds; about them, tornados raged. Graz'zt and Mazikreen dismounted quickly, and – screaming – the Prince invoked powerful sorceries upon the succubus.

    Silently, Queen Mazikreen vanished and strode through the winds – denser than iron – which surrounded Fumaril.


    **


    Eadric stood with Ortwine in the nave of the Great Fane in Morne. A curious detachment possessed him: heaps of bones shrouded in leathery skin lay around, and every surface was covered with a thin film of congealed blood. An iron reek filled the air.

    The mind cannot contain the enormity of this, but also I am the Ahma. This is the eschaton. I should hardly be surprised. Everything in Morne which had walked, or crawled or flew was dead.

    He brooded on the conversation he had had with Nwm only an hour before; the Preceptor had made a journey to Sisperi, to engage the help of Lai and her handmaidens. There was a precedent: with the Saints and Oronthonist adepts, Nwm had said that he could resurrect every single victim of the storm of blood.

    The Ahma had acquiesced, but his heart felt heavy. This was madness: it seemed too massive. Still, he would cede all authority and trust Nwm on this count: this must be quickly undone, and the Viridity must manifest; heal the wound. Death means nothing: this must be demonstrated.

    Tahl had offered to be the sacrifice.

    "I will bleed," Eadric had said. It was proper. He was the Ahma. He wondered if the slain would even return; most now basked in Radiance: such had been his pronouncement upon the Faithful who suffered in this war.

    Dare I command them back? Who am I to deny bliss to any? But then It is not I, but Nwm who issues the plea. By whatever power.

    After an hour, the Preceptor instructed the Ahma to attend an altar he had erected beneath an orange tree; the same spot upon which Feezuu had annihilated Cynric, and Graz'zt had pronounced his curse upon Morne. The wound was deepest there. There were assembled Saints and Talions, many flamines and scrollbearers of the Temple, Lai, Mesikammi and a half-dozen Uediian priestesses.

    For the first time in his life, Nwm invoked the Sun-god; he offered the blood of the Ahma as sacrifice and named Nehael as his intercessor. He supplicated Uedii in her aspect as Wisdom, and evoked the full power of the Viridity. The same flint knife he had used to cut Lai, he now employed upon Eadric, opening gaping wounds upon his arms. His face became pale.

    A great pneuma arose, and a vibrancy permeated everything. The rivers were suddenly rich with fish; life returned to the woods and fields; flocks of birds appeared in the skies above.

    The two hundred thousand souls who were recalled by Nwm from the Serenities were not untouched by their tenure in the upper altitudes of the Empyrean. Each of them brought a little of it back with them.

    As Tahl arrested the flow of blood from his arms, it dawned on Eadric suddenly; an irrefutable truth.

    They could win.



    *

  • #629
    An update! *runs excitedly into a wall* So much going on! So many thoughts and questions going through my head! So much glorious imagery! *brain overloads*

    Mostin and Soneillon working together - I shudder to think what crazy things they can accomplish.

    Eadric vs. cthonics! Wish I could have been ringside for that.

    Orolde (one of my favorite NPCs) needs a Story Hour of his own.

    The Adversary and his new minions, what are they up to?

    And man, Rimilin has really gotten powerful. Mostin better watch his back.

    A possible Graz'zt vs. Mulissu?!

    Tagur is back!

    And Eadric and Nwm as awesome as always. Need more Ortwine in the next installment though!

  • #630
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    Wow, Sep is on the roll with updates! *Roman sneaks off to read the update*

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