Pharamne's Urn (updated 4/25/12) - Page 66





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  1. #651
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    ° Ignore grodog
    Happy New Year to Sep, his players, and all Wyre readers!

 

  • #652
    Quote Originally Posted by grodog View Post
    Happy New Year to Sep, his players, and all Wyre readers!
    Thanks Grodog, same right back at ya!!!
    -Jackylhunter

  • #653
    Best of wishes to everyone for 2009! Hope everyone has a great gaming (and writing :P) year in good health and spirit!
    Some are born to live, others born to die. I belong to the last, born to burn, born to cry. For I shall remain alone... forsaken.
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    ° Ignore Sepulchrave II
    Urbs Cœlestis


    The Sun was at its zenith when Tiuhan Gultheins, the boy-king of Wyre, awoke within his own chambers. He recalled a brief, hideous nightmare of great violence, followed by a glorious ecstasy which lay outside of time; a brilliance which persisted for uncounted aeons.

    His choice to forego bliss – for such he had made – had issued from an ethical centre which Tiuhan had not known he possessed. A necessary selfless action, he knew, in response to a request which had arisen from the Ocean of Fire and Light, the memory of which filled him with warmth and fortified his soul. He recalled that golden boars – archaic protectors of the royal house – had borne him away from it; once again, his spirit was housed in flesh.

    He felt unusually peaceful; an urge to meditate and pray settled on him before even the fog of waking departed. He arose and gazed at himself in the mirror.

    The Empyrean filled his face, in both memory and anticipation. There was no fear in him; he laughed and cried for joy. He could return again at any time; his abiding in this crude form would pass as the blink of an eye in eternity. He washed and dressed himself, and departed from his suite; it was noon, and others were also only just starting to go about their business.

    Standing on the parapet, he noticed a calm industry and purpose seemed to possess the citizens of Morne, as though each were pursuing a task both ordained and well-practiced. Household knights and men-at-arms were beginning to assemble in the baileys beneath the inner walls of the palace; masons were loading the cranes around the Great Fane with cut marble. Servants toiled contentedly. Gardeners were pruning with particular attention to detail. There were no raised voices. No beatings. Light suffused everything.

    Tiuhan gazed at the Temple compound. In a quiet corner, an old, bent yew-tree; it had taken root a thousand years before, but Tiuhan also recalled that before today, no such tree had stood there. He pondered its significance, as did another his own age or a little older: a youth stood near to it and inspected it, his arms folded.

    The great bell in the tower of the Fane began to ring; a slow, steady note of enormous depth, with complex overtones. The campaniles around the city swiftly took up its cue, and a music at once both spontaneous and perfectly orchestrated suddenly flourished.

    King Tiuhan stood and listened for a while, before tearing himself away. He had a vast administrative backlog which he had been neglecting, and the Small Council was meeting in an hour.


    **


    In shadow, Mazikreen slipped unseen with great speed through the streets of Fumaril; its inhabitants were still milling in the streets, speculating as to the import of the darkness which covered the city. The succubus must locate and dispatch five targets: two priestesses of the goddess Jeshi, and three Pand Wind-Sorcerers who had taken up residence in the Tyrant's palace. They were pivotal members of Mulissu's cabal, and the ceremony for the reinvigoration of the Paling – which required their contribution – was due to take place in half an hour.

    She moved along the waterfront, leaving a trail of corpses and charmed informants who directed her to the temple of the wind-goddess – a modest affair by Thalassine standards – and thence to the palace courtyards.

    She discharged her mission efficiently, avoiding detection by the slow-witted djinn who acted as sentries, and eliminating all of her targets quickly; Mazikreen felt a touch of annoyance that her last – the sorcerer Ehieu – had noticed her presence before dying.

    Alarms were being raised as she slid back over the city wall, and vanished like a shade into the unnatural night.


    **


    Mulissu immediately issued an appeal to Mostin, Daunton, and a half-dozen other Wyrish mages for aid: I need help. The Paling must go up in fifteen minutes, or Fumaril is doomed: make your choice.

    Mostin cursed. He was due to convoke his cabal in three hours, but could hardly refuse.
    Mulissu conveyed the coordinates of a temporary exempt bubble within the lock of the Paling, and Mostin teleported to it forthwith.

    Jalael and Troap – two of those whom Mostin had previously suborned – were already present.

    He fixed Mulissu stonily. "I trust the drain on our collective reservoirs will be of small amplitude?"

    "Your generosity overwhelms," Mulissu said drily. "It will be negligible. You did not predict this event?"

    "No," Mostin confessed. "Or not exactly. But I knew that it would be an inopportune time to request your direct inclusion in the cabal; hence you will make the transference. Also, I trust no other wizard to be able to effectively dominate Graz'zt."

    "Can I have him?"

    "Sorry, Mulissu. I have already promised him to Soneillon. I have a year of informal compact with her, or six remaining discrete services, whichever passes first."

    "If you were anyone else, that would mean other than it does."

    "I am not oblivious to the existence of certain baser urges," Mostin explained, "but I have utterly transcended the notion of coitus. Nor do I any longer require the use of a latrine."

    Daunton appeared.

    "About time," the Savant said.

    Once again, the Paling was erected. Mulissu sighed. She couldn't take much more of this.


    **


    "Infernal is very last epoch, Mostin," Jalael gazed around the tower's reception hall. "How much for the solar?"

    "He is not for sale. He's an antique. Captured during the Fall."

    "You need to develop an alternate strategy, Mostin," Soneillon was visibly irked. "One cannot conjure a demon who has already been called."

    Mostin scowled. "I have anticipated the possibility. Do you think I'm a fool? He is unbound. The ritual proceeds as scheduled. He is outside his sanctum; his foresight will not avail him, nor his mind blank. He has erected another protection: a ward which will discharge upon contact with a hostile conjuration. That will fail also. I will bind him in the Astral."

    Jalael's hideous face screwed up. Doubt now possessed her. The Hag's offer to aid Mostin had been made to head off what she had considered to be a celestial threat; events had since transpired to make the situation far more complex.

    Mostin, sensing her ambivalence, fixed her with his uncanny gaze.

    "I am not about to back out of this, and neither are you," he said.

    "No," Jalael growled. "I'm not. But nor will I let you forget this. Had I known that you had switched your allegiance anyway, I might have been more reticent in rendering aid."

    "It takes a quick mind to anticipate me," Mostin nodded sagely. "But had I known that the celestials themselves were about to reconsider their programming, I might not have been so eager to relinquish direct control. Still, what is done is done. Their orders remain the same; although the implementation may be rather more inventive. I trust that the rest of you are as good as your word?"

    Muthollo nodded resentfully; Troap seemed unfazed: he liked Mostin and – for a wizard, at least – the goblin was unusually generous in his dealings with others. In the final configuration of spells which Mostin had opted for, only six mages – including Sho – would be required; Soneillon would cover the not insubstantial magickal deficit. Orolde would remain as an observer.

    Mostin plane shifted his tower to a remote island of astral matter, where it abutted an already existing stronghold, merging seamlessly with its architecture. He removed himself to an obsidian binding chamber, and began to inscribe a thaumaturgic diagram from powdered celestial metals.


    **


    The Ahma was present when the Small Council convened: a dozen of Wyre's leading temporal magnates, amongst whom were Tagur, Sihu, Jholion of Methelhar and Attar the Warden. Six, including the Lord Chamberlain Foide and Skett of Mord, were absent, and remained in their own demesnes: nobles who had been subject to neither the storm of blood nor the subsequent Reversal. Saints and Talions sat upon the episcopal thrones which the Lords Spiritual of Wyre – whose bishoprics had been dissolved after the accession of the Sela – had once occupied.

    "I will try to explain circumstances as best I understand them," Eadric sat in his armour on a low stool next to the king, which creaked under the weight. "First, the greatest of the Cheshnite spellcasters have already unleashed many of their most potent spells. A certain arcanist of my acquaintance – whose methods of garnering intelligence are dubious, but the accuracy of which is generally high – posits the following situation:

    "Yeshe is depleted, and will for some time have to content herself with binding nothing more significant than powerful balors – depletion is a relative term. Sibud has exhausted his credit – which was poor – with the Cheshnite cabals, and hopefully we can expect no more storms of blood for the time being. Temenun may have drawn a cupful of power from his reservoir, and remains strong; his armamentarium is already replenished.

    "Guho, Choach and Rishih have been engaged in the solidifying of the Cheshnite defense, the erection of teleportation circles, and the subjugation of the Thalassine nobility, but it is likely that their real power has yet to be manifested. Rishih has also been active in conjuring demons: he has restricted himself to lesser nobility. Furthermore, he enjoys prestige amongst certain of the cabals; in general, his more conservative approach is well-received.

    "The goddess Dhatri has invoked a blanket of darkness, and has set forth from Jashat in what is known as her Procession, an event which might be said to mark the formal beginning of hostilities. With her are Prahar, a number of evil godlings, and Visuit the Butcher, against whom we cannot yet stand. And many tens of thousands of lesser minions.

    "The demons Graz'zt, Pazuzu, Alrunes, Ahazu and Baphomet are at large. Pazuzu is pactbonded with Yeshe and acts as the instrument of her will; Baphomet is enslaved by Prahar. Graz'zt is a wild card whose activities we cannot anticipate. Ahazu and Alrunes have yet to show themselves beyond their pavillions.

    "Four celestial princes – those covenanted by Mostin the Metagnostic – have Fallen. The Adversary has seduced them. The motivations of the Nameless Fiend are unguessable. At present, the actions of the debased celestials have proven to be not antithetical to our own needs: they have eliminated the demon lord Munkir, and are disrupting affairs beneath the Pall of Dhatri. This congruence of purpose may or may not last."

    Prince Tagur looked uncomfortable. "Then what do we do?"

    Eadric sighed. "We find ourselves in a curious position. I suggest we move half of Morne's garrison – including all of the royal knights – immediately south to join the main Temple force; those who experienced the Reversal have become amongst our most formidable soldiers. Furthermore, we have to move outside of Wyre proper; the active participation of Wyre's wizards is more appealing than the incidental protection which the Enforcer offers us."

    "Wizards are not trustworthy," Saint Anaqiss observed.

    "You are correct," the Ahma agreed. "Still, that is the plan. We break camp tomorrow."

    "So we march on the Thalassine?" Sihu inquired.

    "Yes."

    "All men will flock to your banner," Wurz declared.

    I sincerely hope not, Eadric thought. I will have enough blood on my hands as it is.

    "Which wizards have sworn oaths to Oronthon?" Saint Wurz asked.

    "As yet, none," Eadric smiled at the na´vetÚ of the question. "Nor do I expect any to. We may depend on Daunton almost definitely, and on Mostin probably, although any aid which he lends will doubtless be viewed dimly by the pious. Mulissu, perhaps; although Fumaril's concerns preoccupy her. Hlioth is an unlikely candidate, but I suspect she might prove the most useful of any of them were she to act.

    "At present, our best defense may be offered by Nwm the Preceptor, who is capable of coordinating diverse magical energies. Currently, with the adepts, he is engaged in protecting the Temple encampment more thoroughly from attack: I wish no repeat of the assault launched by Temenun's demons. I have asked him to invoke a mobile defense; it will move as the Sela's tabernacle moves.

    "Lastly, we can expect a period of quiescence while the Cheshnites adjust to the fact that death might be no particular obstacle to us. Mostin anticipates that they will change tack."

    Tagur gave an inquiring look.

    "They'll try to imprison souls," the Ahma explained.

    King Tiuhan swallowed. "I will take to the field. I will need guidance."

    Sihu looked dubious. "Your Majesty…"

    Saint Tahl interrupted her. "I agree with the King. There is nowhere safer. That has been amply demonstrated."


    **


    Nwm watched as the Sela gave a lesson. There was no sense that Oronthon's proxy was in any way unsettled by events; being invested by the Supernal apparently granted one a certain perspective to which ordinary mortals were not privy.

    But ordinary mortals are a dwindling breed, Nwm observed.

    The Preceptor felt uncomfortable. He had struck compromises which – prior to current events – he would not have even considered. Although, having counselled the Ahma to adopt a Reconciliationist position, he could hardly do less himself.

    But Nwm alone knew that – at the climax of the rite to revivify Morne – his designs had been shifted; agents of the Sun-god had interfered with the pattern. The massive matrix of magical energy which Nwm had created had been reordered to better suit the celestial agenda. The Illumination of Morne's citizenry had certainly not been his original intention.

    As the lesson concluded and the devotees dispersed, Nwm approached the Sela, who sat in Saizhan.

    "You are perturbed," the Sela observed.

    "No, I'm pissed off," Nwm replied.

    "The Host does not answer to me. I understand your anger, but I cannot offer redress."

    "You passivity is impossible," Nwm groaned.

    "If you think so. I would gladly receive any wisdom in these matters." Tramst was ironic, yet perfectly earnest. "The Host is attempting to interpret Oronthon's will, and is sometimes fallible in its judgments, according to its own standards. Oronthon is utterly ineffable: celestials are not. The fact that four archfiends were recently born might be viewed as a cosmic blunder on the part of Enitharmon."

    Nwm raised an eyebrow. "An opinion?"

    "It is not within my purview; hence I make efforts to remove myself."

    "You remain open," Nwm observed. "Your feelings may be changed in that regard."

    Tramst smiled softly. "I mean no disrespect, Preceptor, but one rather more skillful than you views this as his ongoing project. I cannot become embroiled in politics. That is why there is an Ahma."

    "And Oronthon's eschaton? How do you relate to that?"

    "Saizhan is the disintegration of all previously held conception. The Viridity can be understood as a reflex; an inevitable rebirth. Saizhan itself is the eschaton, symbolically speaking."

    Nwm gaped. "This is your belief?"

    "Indeed, no," the Sela smiled. "I make no metaphysical assertions. On doctrinal matters, I also suggest consulting the Ahma."

    "Ngaargh!" Nwm threw up his hands. "Can you not make one categorical statement of truth? Or at least posit an opinion which is your own?"

    "Regarding what?"

    "Regarding anything," Nwm groaned.

    "Certainly," the Sela answered. "Nehael is the Supreme Empathy."

    Nwm squinted. "There is a lot of Urgic baggage attached to that term, and its implicit philosophical gravity is lost on me."

    "Then you have a chance to understand it," the Sela smiled broadly.


    **


    Several hundred tapers burned steadily within the chamber.

    Mostin had opted for a triangle in preference to a pentacle. The symbolic apex – where the Alienist would stand – was aligned with the Empyrean; Troap and Sho stood at either other trine, dexter and sinister as seen from the Throne of Oronthon; behind them were Muthollo and Jalael, respectively. A complex motif of overlapping symbols connected an ideogram within the circle's outer ring to a second diagram of more modest dimension, wherein Soneillon was positioned, opposed to Mostin. Here, a brazier of silver also stood, upon which exotic incense burned.

    Mulissu waited outside of the pattern. Pungent smoke billowed around her as she floated.

    As Ashva rose in Jashat, Mostin began to mutter and gesticulate, weaving a net of little subtlety but great potency. Salt, silver and cold iron were flung generously in all directions. Magic flowed; Soneillon opened her reservoir. Reality bent.

    Graz'zt manifested, incredulous, and flung himself impotently against the barrier which contained him. Even as the first wave of ritual energy around the room dissipated, the Alienist had already begun to cast another spell of tremendous power. Mulissu gathered her energies in synchrony.

    Mostin unleashed a dispelling; death wards and mind blanks crashed, a hundred dweomered items became comatose. Soneillon flickered on the edge of being. Graz'zt became vulnerable.

    At precisely that moment, Mulissu dominated the demon with a transvalent spell.

    YOUR MIND BLANK STAYS DOWN. INVOKE NO POWER. DO ONLY AS I COMMAND.

    The Savant turned to Mostin. "I have him."

    *

    Orolde stepped forward, and, in a trice, magically divested Prince Graz'zt of all of his personal effects.

    The next minute – which was the time it took Mostin to complete the binding ritual – was the longest of his life. At several junctures, acute paranoia threatened to overcome him, but at the end of it, naked and humiliated, Graz'zt was confined within a ten-inch globe of adamant.

    Immediately, Soneillon proffered her upturned palm to receive the sphere. As he watched his pseudopod – which was wrapped around the captured demon prince – move toward her, a sudden prescience of indefinable quality but great surety passed through the Alienist's mind.

    Instead of giving it to her, Mostin spoke two powerful syllables, and Soneillon vanished.

    Sho gaped.

    Jalael, in anticipation of attack from Mostin, immediately erected a mind blank.

    "She would have betrayed me," Mostin explained, holding up his hand in a gesture of appeasement. "Goetic protocols just don't command the respect that they used to."

    "Where did you send her?"

    "Outside. She will need to find a way to come back through Dream. It will take her some time."

    Mulissu looked at him suspiciously. "What are you up to Mostin?"

    But Mostin's eyes – and those of the other wizards – were turned toward Orolde.

    "There are portable holes here," the sprite said. "There are a number of cubic gates also. And this."

    Orolde held up Graz'zt's amulet.

    "And this."

    A small key.

    Jalael cursed impatiently. "Open the holes. Empty everything out."



    *
    Last edited by Sepulchrave II; Saturday, 3rd January, 2009 at 02:50 PM.

  • #655
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  • #656
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    ° Ignore the Jester
    Happy New Year, guys!

    Mostin just can't keep an alliance for any length of time, can he?
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  • #657
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    Beautiful. Thanks Sep!
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    ° Ignore Erevanden
    Holy Smokin' Potatoes !!

    A wonderful New Year's gift, Sepulchrave, bravo !!

    I would also like to take on an adversarial role and tempt you to make some additions to the Plots & Places thread

    ** munches on some candied chestnut **

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    I know it doesn't need to be said, but I will anyway: Mostin rocks!!!
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    ° Ignore Vorput
    Quote Originally Posted by Sepulchrave II View Post
    At several junctures, acute paranoia threatened to overcome him, but at the end of it, naked and humiliated, Graz'zt was confined within a ten-inch globe of adamant.
    Ah, a resolution of sorts. I finally can stop reading this story hour happily. I won't mind you, but the Graz'zt thread is finally resolved (sort of). That makes me happy
    I think one of the saddest things to see is a mosquito sucking on a mummy..... Forget it little friend.

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