A Rose In The Wind: A Saga of the Halmae -- Updated April 17, 2014 - Page 2




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  1. #11
    I just found this thread, and I have to admit that I am excited at the prospect of more Halmae. I was one of those people who found the original Halmae storyhour only after spyscribe had to stop updating, and I have been eager to read more ever since.

    Maybe I should reread the original storyhour to kill time for this new one to get started. And to refresh my memory on what the world was like.

    BTW, Fajitas, I have to give you credit for creating one of the best pantheons I have ever seen. Every time I sit down to think up my own pantheon, I consider using a tweaked version of the four Halmae gods.

 

  • #12
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    Prologue

    SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO...

    Another shower of dirt and rocks came crashing down on them through the ragged hole torn in the ceiling. Screams of terror filtered down from above, as the hideous creature rampaged through the Great Arena of Dar Aego.

    Giovanna knelt beside Amelia’s body, her eyes searching for a trace of the poor, frightened girl she had first met so many years ago. There was none to be found. Only lines worn deep by years of anger, years of harboring thoughts of vengeance.

    How long has it been? , Giovanna thought, Five years? Six? Before we found a new Chancellor for the Mages’ Academy. Back when I was going by Lira. Since then, I’ve gotten married, had two children, become a proud and open sorcerer-- married into an entire family of proud and open sorcerers… and you’ve spent all that time still planning your retribution against Dar Aego. My life has been about life. Yours has only been about death…

    She reached out and closed Amelia’s eyes.

    Above and around her, the shrieks and cries wreaked by Amelia’s long-planned vengeance continued.

    The party stood in the ruins of the Arena-Master’s quarters, in the catacombs beneath the Great Arena of Dar Aego, battered and bloodied. The bodies of Amelia and her allies lay strewn about the room. The hole in the ceiling had been made by the… by whatever undead horror Amelia had been growing beneath the arena. The great monster she had released in the midst of the gladiatorial games.

    The room trembled. Above them, the creature shrieked its hideous, deafening cry.

    “We have to do something!” Thatch shouted, looking to see if the wreckage left in the monster’s wake was stable enough to climb.

    “Like what?” Eva yelled back, tightening a bandage around her arm. “You can barely stand, Anvil’s out of healing. Even Lir--Giovanna's practically out of spells. We’re tapped out, and that thing is… well, it’s frikkin’ huge!”

    “As long as I’ve got a sword, I can hit it,” Thatch insisted.

    “Sure, until it tears your arms off—”

    “Enough!” Anvil demanded. His armor was dented and his cloak was torn. “There is still one being here who is not completely helpless.”

    The party turned their attention back to the corner, where a strange, smoky being floated, hemmed in by a mystical square chalked on the floor. Its shape was indistinct, pulsing and flowing, more often shaped like a woman than anything else. Its face could never be clearly seen, save for its glowing white eyes.

    It was an angel of Sedellus: Goddess of Evil, of Death, of Luck, Lies, and Destruction.

    “You told us before that you were summoned to grant four wishes,” Anvil said, “but have of yet granted only three.”

    Yesssss… the being hissed.

    “Then we will claim the fourth,” Anvil said. “We wish for the destruction of the creature—"

    “Careful,” Tandelle interrupted. “This is a powerful minion of Sedellus. It will twist your words if you do not phrase them carefully.”

    The being laughed, cold and harsh, as it briefly morphed into the form of a crying child. You know the mind of our Mistress well, paladin. You speak with wisdom. But I warn you: what you wish for I may not be able to grant. I can attempt to do your bidding, but the creature is powerful. It may be able to resist even my efforts to destroy it…

    The being paused, as its eyes surveyed the party. But there is power here among you. It may be possible to augment my powers, guaranteeing the creature’s destruction… if you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

    The party looked around uneasily. “What sacrifices?” Giovanna asked.

    Five of you must make sacrifices to my Lady, one for each of her aspects. A Sacrifice of Deceit, a Sacrifice of Evil, a Sacrifice of Destruction, a Sacrifice of Fortune, and a Sacrifice of Death.

    At these words, Giovanna felt a strange chill.

    The sixth of you shall be the Conduit, to carry the Touch of the Goddess. It must be one of you who is partial to the Dark Mistress… the being paused and looked at Eva. It flowed quickly into the form of a haggard, naked crone. Though you reek of the Earth Slut, it added.

    “Hey--” Thatch began.

    “Not now,” Eva hissed.

    “I will be the Conduit,” Tandelle said. “It seems, as a paladin of Sedellus, I will be the more appropriate choice.”

    “Then we shall make the sacrifices,” Anvil said. “What must we sacrifice?”

    Whatever you wish, the being said. Though the more it means to you, the greater the power it will grant.

    The party briefly conferred. “We must decide who will make which sacrifice,” Anvil said.

    “I can sacrifice Deceit,” Eva said. I’ve got more than enough to spare, she thought.

    “I’ll take Destruction,” said Thatch.

    “. . . I’ll take Death,” said Giovanna, quietly.

    The others made their decisions. Rilke stepped forward first, limping on her injured leg. “My name is Rilke Rengstorff,” the young wizard said. “And I will make the Sacrifice of Evil. I grew up in Dar Und. I had to leave due to an… unresolved matter. Involving a life I took. I sacrifice now all my memories of that event.”

    Done… the being hissed.

    Rilke shot a quick look to the others. “Don’t ever let me go back to Dar U—” she began, but gasped as a stream of smoke poured from her nose, mouth, ears, and eyes. The smoke flowed into the mystic square and melded with the creature.

    Rilke blinked. “What was I saying?” she asked.

    Who is next? the being asked.

    Anvil stepped forward. “I am Anvil the Just, Justicar of Kettenek. I shall make the Sacrifice of Fortune. I offer this: whenever I am to be tested for a promotion, whatever I have studied for that test shall be the wrong thing. No matter how hard I try, I shall never be prepared for my examination. I shall never rise within my order higher than I stand today.”

    Eva leaned over to Thatch. “Wasn’t Tenacious just trying to promote him?” she asked.

    Thatch nodded. “He said he had a special position in mind for him in the Universal Law Caucus...”

    Done… said the being.

    Eva swallowed and stepped forward. Then, taking a deep breath, she said, “My name is Eva Kouris, and I will make the Sacrifice of Deceit. I have been… lying. To all of you. About many things. But mostly to you….” She looked at Thatch. “Two years ago, when you and I were living with the secret Alirrian monks in the Sovereignty? I told you we had to leave one night. I told you I didn’t know why. That wasn’t true. I knew why. We had to leave because the Sovereigns were coming for the monks.”

    “What?” Thatch asked. “But… how did they… how did they find out?”

    Eva paused before making herself answer: “I gave them up.”

    Thatch’s jaw dropped. “But… but… worship of Alirria is punishable by death in the Sovereignty.”

    “I know,” Eva said.

    “Those monks, they were—“

    “I know.”

    Thatch stared at her, horrified, as if he had never seen her before. “Why would you do that?”

    “I… look, it doesn’t matter right now.” She turned to the being of smoke. “There. There’s your sacrifice. That good enough?” she snarled.

    Yesssss… the being whispered, and a cold hiss of laughter accompanied it.

    Thatch stepped forward next. He shot Eva a painful look before turning his full attention to the being. He drew his bloodied greatsword and offered it in both hands. “This was my uncle’s sword. He used it back in the wars in his youth, and it’s served me pretty well, too. It is the only weapon I’ve ever used in battle…Now it’s yours. A Sacrifice of Destruction…”

    A ringing sound began to fill the room, as if the sword had been struck against stone. The ringing grew louder and louder. The sword began to shake in Thatch’s hand. Before his eyes, the trembling blade of the weapon suddenly fell apart into dust, leaving him holding nothing but a useless hilt.

    Eva stepped forward, trying to put a hand on Thatch’s shoulder, but Thatch shrugged away from her. “Who’s next?” he said, not looking up.

    Above them, the creature roared. The room shook. Dust fell.

    Trembling, Giovanna stepped forward. There’s no other choice, is there?, she thought. It’s easier this way. I’m giving up something I don’t really even have. Better I do this than one of the others have to give up something more painful… She stifled a sob as she thought of Dante, her husband. She knew how badly he wanted more children. She thought of Diego and Tavi, and of the brothers and sisters they would never have. But my fertility is a small price to pay for all the lives up there… he’ll understand. I know he will.

    “My name is Giovanna Niccolira Pauletta Rufina Pulcer Marie Allessandra Vittani di Raprezzi,” she said, “and I make the Sacrifice of Death. I offer you my children yet unborn…”

    A cold, whispering laughter filled the room. Done… said the being.

    The cold feeling that had lurked in Giovanna’s heart since the creature first spoke suddenly sank down to her womb.

    Ehkt forgive me, she thought…

    But there was little time for thought. The being suddenly swirled in on itself into a whirlpool of smoke. Behind them, Tandelle gasped. Her arms and legs went rigid; her back arched. Power coursed through her. Power and understanding, too much of either to withstand for long.

    Now! the being hissed. While the Touch of the Goddess is upon you! Make your wish….

    Tandelle made the wish.

    There was a great rush of wind, exploding as if from Tandelle herself. Dust and debris flew about the room. Everyone dove for cover, protecting their ears from the ever increasing, unbearable roar of the wind…

    THREE DAYS LATER…

    Dante di Raprezzi was nervous. He hadn’t seen his wife for two weeks, since she had left home due to some… well, he wasn’t quite clear on the details, but it had something to do with her past, and now turned out to have had something to do with the horror stories coming out of Dar Aego. Thank the gods the creature had been stopped.

    And that Giovanna was all right.

    The door opened… and there she was, Euro on her shoulder. Just as he remembered her. She didn’t say a word, she simply stood there looking at him.

    He didn’t care. He rushed forward and took her in his arms, holding her as tightly as he could.

    “It’s good to see you,” he whispered. “I’m so glad you’re back.”

    He felt the tears trickling down her face. For a fleeting moment, he thought they were tears of joy… but the expression on her face said otherwise.

    “What is it?” he asked. “What’s wrong.”

    “Something… something happened…” Giovanna whispered. And she burst into tears.

    TWO WEEKS LATER…

    Giovanna stood outside the Temple of Sedellus in Dar Pykos. Why did we have to meet here? she wondered. Anywhere in the city, why did it have to be here?

    She looked up at the massive symbol of Sedellus in front of the Temple and shuddered. It was all she could do not to spit on the ground in front of it.

    “Congratulations,” said a young woman passing by.

    Giovanna turned to look at the woman. She was a Twilight Sister. “Excuse me?” Giovanna said.

    “Congratulations,” the Sister repeated. “On the baby.”

    Giovanna’s blood turned cold. “What baby?” she whispered.

    ###

    “Why would she say that! How could she see a baby!”

    “Some Twilight Sisters have special sight,” Tandelle mused, not looking at Giovanna. The Sedellan paladin had been strange and aloof ever since Dar Aego.

    “I thought they could see death, not babies,” Eva said.

    “Yes,” Tandelle replied, as if from far away. “They can see death.”

    “But there can’t be a baby!” Giovanna insisted. “I can’t be pregnant!”

    “Haven’t you and Dante… you know… since—” Thatch said.

    Giovanna fixed him with a withering look. “That’s not the point. The point is I gave up my fertility. That’s what I sacrificed.”

    “Are you sure?” Tandelle asked quietly.

    “Yes! I was there!”

    “What exactly did you say?” Tandelle asked.

    “I said I offered up my children yet unborn as a Sacrifice of Death.”

    There was a pause in the room. “Strictly speaking,” Anvil said carefully, “that is not the same as your fertility.”

    Giovanna froze. Her children yet unborn. She’d meant her fertility, but she’d said her children yet unborn… and now she had an unborn child...

    Giovanna clutched her stomach, suddenly queasy. “Oh, gods…” she whispered. “What have I done…”

    NINE MONTHS LATER…

    The screams of childbirth echoed through the di Raprezzi household…

    …until at last, they came to a stop. An eerie silence blanketed the house.

    A Giver of Life handed Giovanna her new born daughter. The child’s eyes were wide. A tuft of grey hair sprung from her head. She did not wail or cry. She did not make a sound. She simply looked at her mother calmly, with her deep grey eyes.

    Giovanna’s lip began to tremble.

    They named her Roseanna Giulietta di Raprezzi.

    She is the Sacrifice of Death…
    Last edited by ellinor; Thursday, 26th March, 2009 at 10:54 PM.
    A Rose In The Wind: A Saga Of The Halmae. It's like "Daughter Of Welcome To The Halmae." Um, literally.

  • #13
    This!...Is!...So!...COOOL!!!!
    I can't tell you how excited I was to see another Halmae storyhour. Good luck to you all. I mean, we all know Fajita can be an evil DM...
    -Jackylhunter

  • #14
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    The update you've just read is by Fajitas himself. When we told him that we were going to write up the story hour, ellinor and I added, "And hey, it'd be great to have a prologue -- you know, just a little write-up of the events from the last campaign that planted the seed (*ahem*) for this one. We're happy to do it, or if you want to do it yourself..." Fajitas answered that he'd be glad to write us up a little something. Knowing how busy he is, we were expecting a couple paragraphs.

    A few days later, he casually e-mailed us the brilliant prologue that you've just read.

    This first update is thus a fantastic, beautifully written gift to Fajitas -- from Fajitas. With the next update, we'll commence the part that doesn't involve the birthday boy doing quite so much work, but for now, here's to him being generally awesome! And thanks!

  • #15
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    Hooray for the Halmae! Awesome start, ellinor & Ilex!

  • #16
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    Wow, poor... everyone. That was a very freaky and heart-wrenching prologue. I'm looking forward to the next update!
    Enemies are the price of Honor.
    ~Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, Wizard of the First Order

    Fear. Fear attracts the fearful. The strong. The weak. The innocent. The corrupt. Fear. Fear is my ally.
    ~Darth Maul

    No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.
    ~Yoda

    I don't want the Tyranny of Fun to become one of PF RPG's design principles. That's 4e's province, and I'd happily leave it that way.

  • #17
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    Although I notice that he was careful not to say WHO the new chancellor of the magical academy actually ended up being... That's just mean.

    Awesome update, though.
    "On a long enough time line, everyone eventually rolls a 1."
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  • #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ellinor View Post
    Giovanna knelt beside Amelia’s body, her eyes searching for a trace of the poor, frightened girl she had first met so many years ago. There was none to be found. Only lines worn deep by years of anger, years of harboring thoughts of vengeance.

    How long has it been? , Giovanna thought, Five years? Six? Before we found a new Chancellor for the Mages’ Academy. Back when I was going by Lira. Since then, I’ve gotten married, had two children, become a proud and open sorcerer-- married into an entire family of proud and open sorcerers… and you’ve spent all that time still planning your retribution against Dar Aego. My life has been about life. Yours has only been about death…

    She reached out and closed Amelia’s eyes.

    Above and around her, the shrieks and cries wreaked by Amelia’s long-planned vengeance continued.

    The party stood in the ruins of the Arena-Master’s quarters, in the catacombs beneath the Great Arena of Dar Aego, battered and bloodied. The bodies of Amelia and her allies lay strewn about the room. The hole in the ceiling had been made by the… by whatever undead horror Amelia had been growing beneath the arena. The great monster she had released in the midst of the gladiatorial games.

    In a previous life, with my old ID, I said:
    Quote Originally Posted by Rughat's Old ID: Trahnesi View Post
    Amelia? The girl with the creepy "undead are my friends" thing going on? Oh boy. If I was any of the people who messed with her in Dar Aego, I'd be worried (even though she already wiped most of them out.) Actually, If I was anybody in Dar Aego, I'd be worried. I can just see her getting together with the Crossers and unleashing a horde of undead on that city.
    Sorry. I'll try to not give Fajitas ideas for this game.

  • #19
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    Ra ra ra! I've been so looking forward to this.
    - Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now Kickstarting TimeWatch, a time travel game - please go check it out!

  • #20
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    Eeeee! Fajitas, that was beautiful! I can't wait to hear the rest!
    "We're just babies making up a game....But four babies playing a game can make a play-world that licks your real world hollow." --CS Lewis
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