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Thread: Valus in Twenty
Monday, 23rd May, 2005, 09:21 PM #1
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Valus in Twenty
Valus in Twenty
Much to Destan's chagrin I'm sure.
This is the mixed up future of Valus through my mind.
This builds on Funeris's thread:
The Heroes of Marchford
The timeline for this story is set twenty years after the sourcebook,
Valus (http://www.diffworlds.com/valus.htm) written by Destan.
Throughout my Story Hour here, you will see references to Funeris's thread of
the Heroes of Marchford. Where that CAMPAIGN story is at present (5-23-05) is cutoff point in that nothing that happens in that campaign will affect what I write. So if you see someone alive here that died in the other one, it is only because of the cutoff not that they were brought back.
While this one isn't based on any ongoing campaign right now,
Starting one under it would not disappoint me. I might start it under Fantasy Grounds.
Present day is in the Rhelm Year 158.
Now until I get it going full stream there will be some jumping around in the years, as some of the background is revealed. Taking a cue from Funeris's Blade of Phoee story on that one.
My little disclaimer:
I promise nothing in my tone of writing other than I will not hold back the bad stuff.
So enough on that.
Now my thanks.
Destan - for creating the Valus
Mike, Rick, & Ron - for being the fun-filled party they are.
And then all the little people I stepped on to get this far in my life.
Now on with the story.
RY - refers to Rhelm Years from here out.
The Valus Calendar is 12 months 5 heks (weeks) of 6 days each.
RY 153, Amol 8 Evening
Storm swept seas crashed into Gurang's Head, with the lightning filled sky the outpost made for deadly appearance. The sea surround crag had withstood the punishments for over a century, and coldly turned aside all the sea's rage that Evios might could throw at it. Many had occupied it's towers over the years, but only the current occupant generated so many rumors.
As Rafa pulled the last of the lobster traps up, trying to beat out the worst of the storm. He glanced towards the Head, the lighting was already striking near the base, every time he looked at it his memory of his first visit there came rushing back.
RY148, Jemm 23 Mid-day
On a dare from the other boys after a day of sword practice, he had ventured out to the Head during low tide walking along the hidden reef. Many had talked of the secretive visitors the mage received but most did not try to hide their identities. Lord Allister certainly never did when he went out there, and he always returned. With his wooden practice sword he hurried out to crag, knowing he only had a few hours before he would be swimming back if he didn’t hurry. The dare was to make it to the crag, ascend it to the top near the entrance so everyone could see from shore, and then find something to bring back.
He had nearly fell to his death several times as he had ascended the ramp up the side of the crag, each time wondering if he should turn back. “No” a voice would scream in his mind, they would do nothing but continue to make fun of you like always. Doing this when none of them would go through with even an attempt would win respect to overcome his heritage. Sure he heard their whispers, but they were always to afraid to tease him to his face.
Waving to them from the very top edge overlooking the town of Carnelloe, he turned towards the large door setting to prove his worth.
As he entered, he felt a shudder up his spine as the door clicked shut. Quickly he looked for something close enough to grab and get out of there, he couldn’t not shake the feeling of being watched.
That’s when the haunting voice started, “Who are you Tiefling, to think you could come into my home!” An unseen hand grabbing him by his shirt collar, he could not escape it’s grip as it carried him down a series of stairs and over a gorge. Deep within the confines of Gurang’s Head, he saw the out line of some creature almost like a transparent man open a door and closing it behind him.
As his eyes became adjusted to the darkened room with his vision slipping into a black and white he saw the figure sitting with his back to him, jotting notes in a book. Pausing, “Ah good you’re here, light those candles so I can better study you,” pointing to some candles on a shelf.
As Rafa lit the candles he could feel the man in the robes staring at him, studying him. “Now answer my question and be quick about it..”
“What question….”, stammering.
“The one I asked you earlier you dolt, tell the truth or your family shall never see you again. Who are you? I know your from the town, I’ve seen you as I’ve passed through. I take note of all your kind when I see them.” Then under his barely under his breath, “even those I don’t see,” as he pats the hilt of an adamantine dagger.
“I’m Rafa, son of Velnna….”
“Do you know your father?”
“I knew of him but what’s that have to do with ….”
“I’m the one asking questions here boy. How old are you?”
“Almost 13,” quickly adding, “Sir.”
“I see your mother has taught you some manners at least,” as the light shined on the older man flecks of gray shined in his hair. Jotting more notes down, “well Rafa, why have you come to my home?”
“On a dare, Sir. I was trying to gain some respect.” Almost defiantly looking back at the man.
“I’m afraid those intimidation techniques are better left to your peers, than on me young Rafa. I don’t suppose you know the rumors of the children that disappear from here do you. I think my favorite is that the Mad Mage eats their souls, is that still the popular one.”
“I’ve heard of that one,” beads of sweat forming on his brow. Rafa silently wondered now if most of the rumors were true. How crazy was this mage.
Then the sound of plated footsteps sounded outside the door, before the knock even sounded, “Come in Tobias, I have the intruder here.”
The door opened soundlessly, as an imposing figure in gleaming full plate armor stepped into the room. An aura of goodness engulfed young Rafa. “Is this your great intruder, that your alarms would call for me.”
“No, Tobias, no, this young one’s blood is what triggered that alarm. He is plane-touched, and not of one of the good planes. But since you are here, please look into his soul and tell me what you see. And Rafa, I do hope for your sake that you don’t hold the same streak as those of your father’s line have.”
Rafa cringed under the intense gaze of Tobias, “He seems to be of a better ilk than most I would say. If he has done no harm, I say let him go home and change his trousers.”
“Have a seat Tobias, the others should be around shortly. You were always the first to show up when the alarms went off.”
“May I leave, Sir,” Rafa hopefully asked.
“It depends, and quit calling me Sir. I may hold the title of Lord Protectorate, but I lord over no one. Call me Magnus, “ with a half-chuckle to himself, “now what was your goal to prove yourself.”
“I had to bring back something to prove I was here.” Rafa’s confidence grew as he realized that these men would not kill him.
“Well I will give you two choices, as your time grows short to your swim home. You can declare yourself a loyal Rhelmsman and serve as I direct you, or you can grab one item and run like your life depended on it. Actually it might, depending on what you grab.” Magnus rose from his chair looking down at the youth from his imposing height.
“What does it mean to serve as you direct,” Rafa questioned.
“There’s hope for our youth yet Tobias, you are wise to ask that young Rafa, very wise. It means my orders will supersede all others you may receive from the King’s men, even those of the King. I need men willing to go to any length to protect Rhelm, even from itself. Would you be willing to do this? I will only hold you to this oath for five years, then I will ask you again. But know this in five years it will be for your life. Lord Tobias will bear witness to this.”
“I will try to serve you as you want, but what can I do. I’m only 12…”stammered Rafa.
Interrupting, “During the five years you will train in secret to hone your abilities, even those latent ones that no one has taught you to control yet. Also during that time you are invaluable to me as a listener. People say things in front of children all the time without realizing they are there. Now for your items to show your friends.”
RY 153, Amol 8 Evening
…Silently fingering the ever present ring on his finger, later tonight I reaffirm that oath for a lifetime now. Lord Magnus was weird even as mages go, but every time a method emerged from his madness.
Rafa would never forget the debts he owed the mage, his mother’s illness cured by Tobias’s angel, teaching how to control his Tiefling powers, even given him the ability to blend in with that amazing hat. Rafa knew he would follow the mage’s orders, even those he questioned for the rest of his life. For as mad as the mage was he was the closest thing to a father Rafa had know.
edited to clean up the paragraph spacing - Thanks Funeris
Last edited by TheYeti1775; Monday, 23rd May, 2005 at 10:20 PM.
Monday, 23rd May, 2005, 10:22 PM #2
Novice (Lvl 1)
Woot. A SH to complement my original (and still ongoing technically) Story Hour. I, my dear Yeti mage, am your first responder.
Wednesday, 25th May, 2005, 03:26 AM #3
Looks good, interesting. Careful to watch your grammar.
Wednesday, 25th May, 2005, 03:50 AM #4
Magsman (Lvl 14)
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
- Sydney Australia
- Read 0 Reviews
ø Block Herremann the Wise
Originally Posted by Arrgh! Mark!
However, as Arrgh! Mark! says, it's a shame that a few spelling and grammatical errors are there. Despite these, I wanted to read more (which is unusual for me). Just a quick edit will turn this into a fantastic piece of writing.
Herremann the Wise
Wednesday, 25th May, 2005, 04:08 AM #5
Novice (Lvl 1)
I assure you all...You've made Yeti's day (tomorrow when he sees the praise). I can say with certainty he was worried about posting for a few reasons. And your praise will only assure him that what he is doing in this thread is worthwhile.
With that said, where's the damn update you Yeti Mage ???
It's been a day now. I know you have several handwritten pages of notes...get to typing them!!! Payback feels sooooooo good.
Wednesday, 25th May, 2005, 07:37 PM #6
Novice (Lvl 1)
Good stuff. Even more enjoyable because I get some of the hidden references.
Funeris needs to tell more of the present so the future makes sense to everyone else.
So yeah, update---but not too fast. Funeris, don't think you are getting of easy. I want these storeis to play out at the same time.
Thursday, 26th May, 2005, 07:54 PM #7
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Greffan and the Battle of Dun Beric
RY 139 Gal the 4th Early Morning
“DIG,” as the whip cracks across the back of a Kobold slave, who had dropped to a knee from exhaustion. The beat of the drums were picking up their pace. Overseers were cracking their whips punishing any and all who they thought could put forth more effort.
“Massster, Massster,” a runner goblin screeched running at full speed to the largest of the Dwem overseeing the digging.
Curling his whip back, “What is it?” with an impatient attitude of a superior race.
Cowering in terror of the large Dwem, “Master, Master Durdik sayss come quick.”
“Take me to him worm,” Tonod wondered what Durdik would need to talk to him about, they had discussed all the plans the night before. Everything was ahead of schedule last night. Impatiently pushing the goblin along with the butt of the whip, the thirty-minute walk seemed like an eternity winding through the tunnels.
As he entered one of the newer map rooms, he saw Durdik huddled over his maps and charts. “What is it now, Durdik? We discussed everything last night…”
Interrupting Tonod, “They are digging a tunnel.”
“What a counter tunnel, let them we will att…”
“NO, not a counter-tunnel. Look at the map and see.” Durdik then cleared all the overlays showing the main map of the Dwem tunnels. Pulling one of the rice paper overlays out, “This is where they have dug through and their most likely path.”
It only took a second for Tonod’s trained eye to spot what had spooked Durdik, “RUNNER, GET ME A RUNNER NOW,” he screamed at the goblin. The goblin stumbled over itself to get out of the room.
“I’ve already issued the order for the Dwem to retreat back into safety regions. Do I order the others back.”
“How long do we have till collapse?” The disbelief showing in Tonod’s questioning, why did they go along that path, right through a majority of the core supports for the city above. Only a fool for an engineer would do that or a mad man.
“Only an hour or two, plenty of time for our people to get to safety. That’s why I had the goblin boy bring you here.”
RY 139 Gal the 3rd Late Evening
Greffan bounded up the steps as best as he could in the plate armor, moving around in the plate was burdensome at times, but well worth it. His armor enchanted by the Heroes of the Marshes. Lord Tobias presented it to him, saying Master Burne enchanted it himself.
Lord Tobias had called the armor ‘Quietvision’, under the night sky or in the depths the wearer could move silent as a mouse and see as the Dwarves did.
Greffan had used the armor to great effect over the past few months, leading many patrols into the Underdark. His exploits earning him rank faster than he could imagine, now he was at a point without title he could go no further. The nobles would ensure that.
The Earl of Dun Beric had ordered a tunnel be dug into the deep, for his own army to march into the depths and fight the Dwem down below. Master Burne had called him a fool to his face, in front of the whole court. When that happened, the Earl attempted to have Magnus arrested. The first guard to step forward still to this day, cannot use his withered right arm. Greffan wanted to side with Magnus and speak up as well, but his promise to the mage earlier in the year prevented him from such.
RY 139 Amm the 23rd At Dinner (A Vow)
Wiping his face with the napkin, “Another fine meal my lady.” Magnus rubbing his belly, “I think the only thing I could fit now, would be some of that delicious cobbler I smelled earlier.” His boyish charm showing through to Greffan’s mother.
“Well, Master Burne, it is still cooling. Why don’t you and Greffan go on outside and talk while Myra and I clean up,” as she gestured to a bottle she had left on the table.
“If you weren’t taken already lady, I would sweep you up for myself,” with a gracious bow and smile.
“O’ your too much, Magnus. Now you two go talk, I know that’s why you’re here anyways.”
Politely nodding his head and swiftly grabbing the brandy bottle, Magnus moved to join Greffan out on the porch. Patting Greffen’s shoulder as he moved to take the chair across from him. “Greffan, this is going to sound weird but I must ask.” Pausing to make sure he had Greffan’s full attention.
“Are you a loyal Rhelmsmen?”
“Yes, do you doubt….,” obliviously disturbed by the question.
“No, no, I mean do you believe that Rhelm is more important than any one of us.”
“I guess so,” shrugging in the way all youths do.
“I need you to be my man in Dun Beric, no one is to know about this. You are even to appear against me from time to time. I only ask that you answer my questions, and side with me when I ask of it. From time to time, I will appear to have gone mad.” Pausing with a sigh, “while it may be true, you have to believe I know what I’m doing.”
“I can do that, Magnus, you have my word.”
“Good, now on to happier subjects. Have you asked her yet?” Magnus inquired.
“No, I’m planning on tonight during our walk to the stream.,” with a slow stammer.
“Let me know the date, I will be there.”
RY 139 Gal the 4th Early Morning – Late Evening
As Greffan finished off the last of his rounds, he stepped into one of the towers along the battlements. Grabbing himself and another man some of the coffee being brewed, he nodded to his men. All good ones he told himself, just as he had told Magnus. The mage always was checking his unit out for some reason, but never telling what he was looking for.
The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon, the men started to relax upon seeing the sun. The Dwem very rarely ever attacked while the sun was up. Then just as Captain Greffan went to hand the warm mug to his long time friend, screams reached them from within the city.
As the men turned towards the source, they then heard the sound of hard stone breaking, the ground breaking. That’s when the first tower to fall onto itself, radiating out from that point more building began collapsing towards it. Within seconds nothing could be seen from the rising dust cloud, only the screams and collapsing buildings could be heard.
Greffan did not know how long he stood there in shock of the destruction, he only barely registered his friend beside him asking for orders for the men. Then like he had been slapped coming to his senses, “Quarter guard on the walls, watch for attacks on surface. In three’s search parties, one on guard. I need three runners, each wall same orders, unless we find a senior commander. Go do it now.”
One of the war mages on duty, summoned an Air Elemental to help clear the dust in the air, Greffan could not believe the destruction before him, it had taken a good hour for the dust to settle even with the help of the elemental. Nothing remained from the interior of the inner walls, nothing but a hole full of rubble. As his group of ten men made their way towards the castle proper rubble that’s when the attack occurred.
Dwem burst from a corridor in the side of the hole, many firing crossbows blindly as they entered the sunlight. Those guards that could let loose with their crossbows as they charged to meet the Dwem. Greffan’s group was closest to the opening, forming his men into a wedge and leading a charge against them. With a force of about hundred forming at his group’s stand, Greffan’s men held their ground slowly taking it back inch by inch. Their years of training together in formation, paid it’s weight in Andoricc’s that day, the men held their formations keeping them tight even as some of their number fell. The few remaining Priests and Wizards fell directly into combat support roles, in all with only a thousand men total including the surviving civilians survived that day.
Bodies were strewn everywhere, as the guards attempted to put together a hasty outpost, in the center of what was once their city, overlooking the Dwem’s retreat route. Greffan then gave the order to half on half off, with all being drawn into service. He then asked the remaining Morduk Priests to bless the site , to help control any possibly rising as undead creatures, then passing the order to burn all bodies as we didn’t have the manpower to proper perform the ceremonies.
Monday, 5th September, 2005, 10:05 AM #8
Novice (Lvl 1)
RY 158: Reddel's Retreat (Formerly named the the Abbey of Sin)
Lord Tobias strummed his worn fingers on the oak table. The meeting with Illyx had gone as well as expected. Aside from the forced-revulsion toward the druids, everything had gone decently well. Damn Qwynna Pru’s faithful, he silently cursed. They had returned him from the dead once, only to restrict his open-mindedness.
As a paragon of tolerance, it pained the paladin deeply the wrongs he had been forced to commit upon the Saficea worshippers. He could never forget that first visit to Rhelm all those years ago with Magnus. They had entered the massive capital’s gates and came upon a druid-burning.
Compelled against his will, Tobias had been drawn to within inches of the pyre. He had felt the flames licking and heating his maille. There, by the fire, by the druids writhing in agony, and above their own pained wails, he had condemned them openly. Heathens and beasts, he had called them. Deserving of the fires of the most torturous hell, he had claimed. On and on and on his sermon rambled through minutes shifting to hours shifting to what seemed days.
The paladin could not stop himself. Not until the bodies of the druids were but ash, could he be silenced. Once they scattered upon the winds, Tobias regained mastery of his vocal chords. Not that that had mattered much, his voice was so hoarse he had to remain virtually silent for days. Days of silence spent in meditation not only upon his forced actions, there was nothing he could do to fix that, but upon the response of the crowd.
While he had proselytized, the masses had cheered. They had shouted and chanted gleefully, fire burning maliciously in their eyes. In all of his experience, Tobias could not recall such a horrific scene. Even the eyes of the demons and devils could not reflect that much hatred. Perhaps that is because they were born hateful. It is a natural condition, not something created through experience, he philosophized. Demons and devils were to be pitied and then sent screaming back to the hells from whence they came. Those truly deserving of justice, that crowd, would only be sent to feed the appetites of the Gods and Goddesses, the true monsters of the Valus. What justice could be served with their deaths? Only torture could exact a proper payment but such methods were beyond the holy warrior. He pushed the thought aside.
Tobias hated that city with unending passion. Just the thought of it brought anger, rage, and shame to the forefront of his mind. He reached greedily for the decanter, filling a large glass with his favorite whiskey. Fire to fight fire, he thought ironically as he drained the mug. Quickly, he downed two more glasses and refilled it once more. The liquid fire smoldered in his stomach, battling his fiery emotional torrents.
That had been Tobias’ first trip and the mage’s second to the capital of Rhelm, although the mage would never speak of the first journey. Too much history, he conceded. So much had occurred while Tobias was in Minetown. So much the paladin could have prevented if only he had been there.
Another glass emptied.
Tobias rubbed the tingling scar where his left eye had once been. Too fast, old man, he decided setting his fourth or fifth glass down. The paladin had lost count again.
Tobias really hated that city. He hated the empire. He hated their religious bigotry. Yet, they had made him a war hero. They had given him a retreat, granted it had needed cleansed once again. But they had finally acceded to Lord Allister’s requests. All of the old Heroes, those not lost to time, madness or death, had been knighted. And Tobias was given the Abbey of Sin. And despite his paladinhood, Tobias was a hero. He had permission to train others in the Path of Righteousness. He had a safe haven for those not tolerated by others.
With the exception of the druids. There is always a catch. Illyx of the Tree of ‘yx, brother to Callyx, had been denied his knighthood. Not that the druid would have accepted the title at any rate. Too much history; too much bad blood. His twin had been burned alive in Rhelm.
And that first visit to Rhelm was not just to see King Gavanor Tyne for an impromptu strategy session. That was Tobias’ first meeting with Illyx. The druid had created the expected revulsion, but the warrior had fought the urges, the pains spreading through his gut.
Illyx was strange, even for a druid. He had Callyx’s face, framed with the same long wavy red hair. Unlike his twin, the man had one green eye and one blue. But strangest of all, carved into the flesh of his back was a tattoo of a tree. The tree rose straight up his spine, branches twisting outward and around his body. Druidic symbols were carved throughout the “bark” of the tree.
Illyx had been at the burning. He had watched the paladin sermonize the crowd. When they met, the druid forgave the paladin. Tobias wanted to thank him, wanted to say anything but his mouth was welded shut. He could only grunt rudely. More embarrassment for the holy warrior.
But Illyx had even forgiven him that. Damn Qwynna Pru’s faithful, he cursed for the billionth time in his life. Illyx had helped Magnus and Lord Allister during their previous visit. Illyx was true and always held to his word. Illyx had been a fearsome sight in the battles that had claimed Tobias’ eye. Illyx should have been a paladin, the warrior thought, smiling.
The sudden slamming of his door stirred the warrior from his reverie. An unrecognized guard burst in, carrying two sealed missives.
“I…er…” the guard stammered.
“I don’t have all bloody night, spit it out,” the paladin commanded.
“I…uh…was looking for Tobias,” the youth whispered.
“New here?” The words were as much a statement as a question.
“What training are you here for?”
“Training for the King’s retinue.”
“Good. Let’s get a few things through that thick helmet and equally thick skull of yours.”
“I was just looking for Tobias to give him…”
Tobias cut the young man off with an angry wave of his hand. Completing the motion, the paladin filled another glass to the brim with whiskey. He pounded the drink and stood just as quickly.
“I said, soldier, that we’re going to get a few things straight. I am Tobias, however you will address me as Lord Abel or Sir, whichever case is most appropriate for the occasion that you actually manage to arrange words into a sentence.” An expression, a third fear, a third confusion and a third humiliation, stretched across the soldier’s face. Tobias’ face flushed, “What’s wrong soldier? What were you expecting?!
The holy warrior circled the young guard like a vulture stalking its prey. “Am I not pretty enough for you?” His hands shifted through the half-head of short, unkempt white hair. Then, his palm slid to the scarred and hairless half of his scalp; the half destroyed because of a badly targeted fireball. Finally, the warrior's hand rubbed the empty, scarred socket where a dwem's axe had ripped his eyeball from its socket. “Were you expecting some damn shining beacon of light?!” Here, the warrior's hands motioned at the simple, unobtrusive leather bracers that adorned his arms.
“Trust me soldier, in battle, my armor would protect me better than yours would you. I am a beacon of light in this country. I am the last bastion and I am the first they summon when there are…unmanageable problems. You will show me the respect I am due. Not just because I am a war hero or veteran or a Lord. But because I earned your freedom with my blood. And now, child, I am your mentor.” The paladin returned to his seat, pouring yet another glass.
“Give me the missives.” The soldier snapped alive and darted toward the desk, dropping the sealed letters near the paladin. Just as quickly he snapped back to his prior position, erect and silent. Tobias reached for the royally sealed missive first, tearing it open and skimming through the words. Once complete, he tossed it onto the desk and tore the other open, hands trembling. The paladin had not seen that particular seal in quite a few years.
Tobias, my once love,
I hope that time has served you well. This letter is a warning for you. It precedes the arrival of your son, Mordrick. I have hastily scratched this letter to give you at least some time to prepare for his arrival.
He has chosen to become a warrior and is journeying to your retreat as you read this. He wants to be like his father. He does not know that you are his father. Mordrick believes his father perished in those dark days of war. I am sorry if this inconveniences you or your mission.
You will recognize him with but a glance. He looks just like his father, you, did once long ago when we stood upon that hillock before all hell descended upon the Valus. Please take care of our son.
Love Always and Ever,
Lady Lorilai d’Endar
“Your papers are in order. Consider yourself dismissed. Report to Bartholomew at the gates for your first orders.” A minute later, the guard still stood silently, unmoving. Tobias groaned, looking up at his charge. “Is there something else?”
“Yes, sir. I was instructed to tell you that a thief has been found scrounging about.”
“Has he been apprehended?”
“He has. Bartholomew has the child in custody now.”
“Good, have him send the thief in.”
“As you wish, sir.” The guard pivoted sharply to exit the inner sanctum.
“What’s the child’s name?” Tobias questioned before the recruit fled.
“He claims his name is Brious, sir.” Without another word, the guard slid out the door and toward the outer walls.
 Well, Yeti hasn’t been very forthcoming with his updates now, has he? I agreed to a collaboration to get this written…and as such, am now posting in the hopes of spurring him back to writing. This entire thread is really just a bunch of speculation by yours truly and the Yeti. And its really really fun to write. I love Tobias. My first DnD character. Hehe.
So now, damn Yeti…get an update posted already!!
Tuesday, 6th September, 2005, 04:21 PM #9
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Its a quick short one today.
Funeris is hounding me to keep it up.
“No, I can’t not allow you to risk all you have gained,” Tobias’s scarred face flashing red with the anger and drink.
“You will and you must, Tobias. There is no other way, the evil grows again. This time, it grows from within Rhelm. I can not allow that, no matter the evil of those that lead it, I will not give up on my countrymen.”
“Now drink that damn whiskey I got you,” pouring their glasses full of the Druven Fire Whiskey.
“Your loyalty to this blasted country will get you killed one day, Magnus. Just like the children of Sacifea, that welp on the throne now would sooner see you burned as well.”
Chuckling as he sipped his drink, “If that is the King’s wish then so be it, but it won’t come to him giving the order. The common people would rise up against the thought of the new King moving against the ‘Heroes of Valus’.”
“So you say friend, you know as well as I do what kind of heroes we were….”
“Do not think about the past friend, you don’t have the power to change it,” and neither do I as of yet left unspoken.
“But I do come with good news tonight, Lord Greffan and Myra expect their first child soon.
Myra sat in silence as the Green Mother Lady Erigal’s anger unleashed itself upon the items of her desk. Crumpled in her hand an elegantly scribed note…
I send this package to you, as I believe this man belonged to you. It was rather unfortunate that he tripped that blade spell of mine. Enclosed in the accompanying package you will find his bones, I took the liberty of keeping the head though. It makes for pleasant conversations at times. You should hear the things it tells me about you and your church. I did go head and strip the body down to bone and individually wrapped each with care. When I’m done with the head, I shall return that as well, so don’t bury him too deep.
O’ and milady, please remind those that serve you that I do value my privacy, and not to drop in unexpectedly. Unless of course you would like me to drop in on you from time to time.
Magelord Protectrate of Rhelm
Sunday, 11th September, 2005, 06:47 AM #10
Novice (Lvl 1)
Upon the Weedsea
The elderly man pulled the cloak tight across his shoulders. Shivering, he sapped as much warmth from the fur-lined cloth as possible. The heavy and just-as-ancient plate mail strapped around torso, arms and legs seemed to leech the heat from his bones. He shivered uncontrollably.
Above, a crystal clear sky framed a larger than average moon. A pallid halo surrounded the body which had been tinged red for days. The fresh scent of snow assaulted his nostrils, but no precipitation had fallen yet. Probably tomorrow, the priest thought momentarily distracted by his surroundings.
He struggled to a stop, resting against one of the many sparse trees upon the Weedsea. The heavy metal, so long absent from his daily wear, had rubbed the withering flesh below it. He now felt warmth dripping against his torso and down his legs: his own fresh blood. A few quick words of prayer to Ceria and all of the wounds closed. The vitae which now sloshed back and forth would only cause fresh wounds faster.
For a moment he considered removing the armor, then thought better of it. He questioned whether or not the thought was even his own.
“I’m not that foolish, beast,” he hissed into the empty fields, the empty night.
Fitz sunk to the earth, reaching for a few rations. The cleric tracked about as well as any other priest which is to say not well at all. Yet, he had noted with certainty obvious signs of passage among the high stalks of wheat. The beast had bent handfuls here and there, an unnatural and mortal wrenching for the plants. It was these obvious signs Fitz, High Priest of Ceria, followed cautiously.
“I wonder how Magnus is doing these days.” Filling the quiet with idle words, the priest then filled his mouth with the dried trail rations he had brought. Years had passed since Fitz had given up the adventuring life. Years dedicated to the service of Ceria and spreading her words across the Valus. He had retired to the Weedsea to lead his home congregation, to marry and to raise the two darling sons he had been blessed with.
Never forget where you have come from, where you have been, a sage had enigmatically told the cleric once. By returning home, the High Priest had tried to follow the advice. He had given up on his self-appointed task of hunting the beast which had consumed several of his years following the adventures alongside Tobias, Magnus, and Motega. Fitz shuddered again. The chill was deepening.
Of course the words given by the sage were misinterpreted. The pem, never forthcoming, had meant to not forget adventuring. More importantly, he had meant not to forget the beast.
Fitz placed it where all things now past go; into the devouring maw of fading memories. And that was when the beast chose to strike. It wiped out his congregation. It roasted his children alive on spits, no better than a wild boar. Then, the beast raped and sodomized his wife, a priestess of Ceria, before beheading her. He had left his mark engraved upon her brow; a calling card, a foul memory, a tempting challenge.
The High Priest of Ceria, possibly the most powerful cleric of the Goddess upon the Valus, had nearly lost his faith. In a rage, he burned the fields around his home. The bodies of the dead burned as well. If life was to imitate hell, the cleric had thought, then the temperature better be right. While the fires burned he stormed into the house shared with the woman he had devoted his heart to. There, he destroyed everything within reach. Plates and mugs, furniture, all shattered and burned. In his rage, the priest stumbled across an old chest. He threw it open, vengeance preparing to rain down upon the contents. In the chest a dusty scythe and armor rested haphazardly, contemptuously glaring at the priest.
The meaning of the sage’s words smacked him in that moment upon his face. He hefted the scythe and donned the armor. Ceria, herself, was reaching out through this tragedy and instructing the High Priest to finish what he had begun so long ago. Finish the job, end the suffering, and reap what has been sown. Fitz left at that moment.
The beast had waited, not far from the flames. And the chase began. Five nights later, the cleric felt no closer to his goal. Exhaustion sipped bitterly upon his body and soul. Whatever exhaustion left, obsession filled. Life was a never waking hell of torment.
The priest smiled. He stood, keeping his back toward the tree and drew the scythe.
“You should know better than to stand upwind, beast. The stench of brimstone surrounds you.”
“I do know better,” the multi-toned, familiar and unfamiliar voice answered. Its voice was nails dragged slowly across the hardest steel imposed upon a luring yet sultry and familiar tone. “I merely wished to speak with you, before I killed you.”
The priest turned. Unnatural shadow covered most of its form. Blazing eyes glared from within the dark cocoon. He lifted the scythe, its old weight feeling almost intimate again. “Would you like to repent for your sins then, friend?”
The beast laughed mockingly. “Of course not. I simply wondered, do you still carry your faith? You have suffered so much these past few days…I had hoped that maybe some of Lord Tobias’ words may have struck home.”
Fitz grimaced. “My faith is as strong as ever, if not more so. I am sorry that you will not repent. Mayhaps Ceria will forgive you for your crimes anyway.”
“I won’t be meeting her tonight. No, tonight is the night when you meet your own Goddess. Tonight is the night when you realize your life has been wasted on false idolatry.” The creature stalked forward, leaving the shroud of shadow behind. Its form, one part human, one part wolf and one part fiend was twisted into an aberration beyond repair. Razor claws spread from its paw-like hands. Ragged fangs lined the blunted snout that smiled viciously.
“One of us will perish tonight,” Fitz conceded. “If Ceria is with me, I will not fall.” The priest lashed out, the silvery sickle of a blade touching nothing but air.
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