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Aeon (updated 10/9/14)


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jensun

First Post
This is a great update, many thanks.

I cant help but draw a parallel to the Afquitan session we never saw really desribed. Is there any chance you might go back to it now you seem to be well in the writing groove?
 

tleilaxu

First Post
I think Tozinak is just being crazy. Mulissu's epic spell Glance of Thunder probably has backlash as a mitigating component, and it seems she rolled a little high on the dice.

From the post "Visuit"
"And the predicted length of our tenure in these regions?" Tozinak inquired, sniffling dismally.

"Around thirty minutes, if all goes to plan," Mostin grinned eagerly.

"Alas!" Tozinak wailed. "I may not live to see my egg hatch!"

I guess it is one of Toz's long term 'experiments' with the avian form.
 





Moonrise


Hlioth appeared before Nwm. The Preceptor looked haggard.

"Go to Mostin and sort things out," she instructed. "Then start thinking of a way to get rid of that." The witch gestured irritably to a billowing void which absorbed everything in its path.

"I am spent," Nwm shook his head.

"But you cannot be!" Hlioth groaned. "Mostin is missing me from his ritual; I had elected you my substitute."

Nwm glared at her. He was spent; aside from a few restorative spells, he had almost nothing left.

"Work something out," Hlioth said irritably. "Is this all there is?" She glanced around: Lai and her handmaidens, a few Uediian priests and priestesses. Most seemed exhausted; at least Lai retained some of her power.

"You are late to the party," Nwm smiled stonily.

"It will have to do. Give me what you've got."

Hlioth drew on their magic, invoked a powerful ward – on herself alone – and then vanished.

"Charming," Nwm sighed. He looked at Lai.

"I'll go," the goddess said. She vanished into the earth.


*


Eadric was closer to it: an inky darkness which slithered across the ground like malign fog. It emanated terror; those which it touched, it snuffed out. Everything recoiled from it; it seemed bent only on destroying vibrancy and life. The telepathic screams issued by celestials which had encountered it still echoed in the Ahma's mind.

He had no time to muse on such things. Orcus's mace slammed into his buckler, numbing his left arm; a sting like a wyvern's tail punched through a gap in his armor and potent venom threatened to overwhelm him. Horns, a maw, claws. A foul, rank, cloying smell. Aja was a bastion around which all evil things rallied and from which all that was good was moved to flee. Lukarn was impotent against the demon's defenses; the Prince of the Undead had erected a ward of indomitability about himself.

Orcus spoke a dark blasphemy. Eadric endured it; Rede and Tarpion reeled. Others nearby exploded into dust.

Eadric groaned. Balors were now manifesting all around him.

They're on your side, Ortwine's voice echoed in his head.

Your timing is a little tight. Orcus is warded.

Noted.

The dominated balors targeted Aja with dispellings.


**


The stars shone brighter still.

Mesikammi had now waxed to her full power; the spell which she had wrought an hour before came into effect.

Reaching skywards, she plucked a meteor from the heavens and pulled it to the earth; the light as it struck the ground illuminated the countryside for miles around. Its impact vaporized an entire company of undead mercernaries, and left a smoking hole a hundred feet wide.

Nwm glanced upwards. More stars seemed to be shifting.

"How many more do you have?" He asked.

"Three," Mesikammi smiled.

"Make 'em count," Nwm cautioned her.

Mind my balors, Ortwine's voice carried to the shamaness.


**

The Ahma enjoyed a brief lacuna in the combat; everything within a hundred feet was dead. Orcus had fled or obscured himself – a dozen balors was enough to cause even him pause for thought. Prahar had done the same, although Eadric anticipated that either or both would soon reappear.

In their absence, the demons had set upon the enemy knights.

Ortwine became visible and descended to the ground, her hand upon the pommel of her weapon. Eadric leaned heavily on Lukarn, and spat blood.

She gave a cool smile, and bowed. "I should apologize for doubting your capacity to keep me entertained. I have burned all but one of my candles; unfortunately, those fellows cannot linger too long. Still we're not doing so badly."

Eadric gestured with Lukarn towards the consuming Void.

"There is that," Ortwine conceded. Her face became deadly serious. "You should consider sounding a general retreat. "

Eadric nodded. He knew it.


**


Hlioth materialized within a translucent jade sphere atop a precipice; below her, waves crashed at its base, the foam catching starlight. The moon was still a rumor on the eastern horizon. Nearby, an iron tower reared high into the sky.

You. Rimilin spoke into her mind.

As demons materialized around her, the Green Witch struck her staff upon the rock, sending forth a massive vibration which caused the ground to heave and ripple. Like a rising bore, it rapidly carried the tower and its contents over the edge of the cliff, toppling it into ocean below. The air around her was suddenly thick with fiends teleporting away from the collapsing structure, hurling magic and bodies against her.

Unperturbed, Hlioth pronounced a swift banishment of great power; green light flashed. Abruptly, all was quiet.

Rimilin arose from the wreck of his abode and alighted on the cliff-top twenty yards away.

"Are you done?" He asked. He struck her with a disjunction and blasted her with arcane fire.

Hlioth smiled. The spell she cast – possessed of immense penetrative power – could not be turned. Rimilin knew that it had been crafted just for him.

A look of mild astonishment crossed his face; he had not expected another of that magnitude. And not this…

Rimilin vanished.

Hlioth sighed. The presence of another. A void with many tendrils. She saw Queen Soneillon quietly walking towards her; an annihilating fire began to consume the witch.

"You have seen too much," Hlioth whispered as she expired.


**


Mostin grumbled. Goristros were hurling themselves at the base of the tower, and palrethees were appearing before him. The threat of the balors had – fortunately – been eliminated in quick measure: Jalael had dominated one and hurled it at another; the two remaining had wisely chosen to avoid the same fate, and vanished.

The Alienist sighed. They were probably loose in the world. Somewhere. Tracking them and dispatching them was not a chore which concerned him.

Mostin invoked a chained polymorph; the demons directly ahead were transformed into trout and dropped to the ground. Those who were fortunate enough to avoid the hooves of the goristros flapped briefly before dying.

Creq was administering some necromantic elixir to Mulissu in order to revive her. Tozinak made encouraging sounds.

"Can't you do something?" Mostin asked of Tozinak, incredulous. "Even Waide is doing something." The other transmuter had reversed gravity, causing three of the enormous demons to bob in the air unceremoniously.

Tozinak pursed his lip – Mostin had no doubt that he had taken genuine offense – and pointed. A goristro began to dance.

Lai sprang out of the ground, assumed the form of a falcon, shot upwards, dived, and landed on the balcony, resuming her normal shape in a single, seamless movement.

Mostin blanched.

"Hlioth indicated that you need another for your spell," Lai explained. She reached down and healed Mulissu, saving her from Creq's dubious ministrations.

Mostin's prolepsis warned him of an impending explosion of planar conduits. Naatha and Rishih, with their allies. Too many; the force previously gathered to assault Fumaril. More teleportation circles began to appear, a quarter-mile to the north. Three gates flashed open. Demons, giants, magi. Immortals. Mostin knew they were loaded with magic. They were coming through fast.

"Sh*t," the Alienist cursed.

"Well?" Mulissu asked groggily.

"We have to," Mostin nodded glumly.

Drawing on the cabal, he invoked a massive Quiescence of the Spheres. The air became still, and all dimensional traffic within ten miles was stifled. Silence.

An acidic storm struck the tower. Orolde, Troap, Creq and Daunton perished.

"That it should come to this," Mulissu erected an antimagic field.

"Deploy the compactees," Mostin screamed, skin hanging from his nose like molten wax.

A portal to the tower – no small postern, but a great gate – was opened. Dozens of compacted daemons, devils, hags and elementals – retained as security against Abyssal entanglements – poured forth. Quasits and mephits bickered in the air above them.

"After we get out of the vacuum, please tell me you can wind walk?" Mostin asked Lai.

"Only to a certain point," Lai said. "Prahar has forbidden flight beyond it."

Mostin groaned.

An old moon – a slender sickle, the colour of deep rust – finally arose from behind distant hills, casting morbid rays across the field.


**


Prahar had invoked a pitch darkness which defied all attempts to dispel it. It encapsulated an area of fierce combat, where a great mob of undead horsemen were attempting to push through to a heavily defended Temple centre. Within the shadow, the void – famished and profane – rolled forward and consumed. Hysteria descended on the Wyrish forces. Their enemy – seemingly unaffected – struck at them ruthlessly. Tahl, separated from the others and finally surrounded and overwhelmed, self-immolated in a swirling column of fire and vanished, burning the enemy in a wide circle.

Nwm stumbled blindly toward the Sela's redoubt, where he knew many of the hardiest knights were stationed; even his supernatural vision had been subdued. He cursed himself, assumed the shape of a wolf, and sniffed his way forwards. More than a few hacked at him in panic as he moved, mistaking him for the enemy; he shrugged off their blows.

Behind him, it was coming. He could feel it; Green was buckling like a warped plank to accommodate it.

*

Shvar Choryati encroached. Now it phased nearby in contempt of the Quiescence of the Spheres, first here and then there, slaying hundreds each time it appeared; half at random, but always closer, as if some instinct drew it obliquely inwards.

Nwm stilled his thought and considered his options. He observed its pattern, and pondered.

"You will not escape it," Nwm spoke to the Sela. "No magic can speed you fast enough now; all has been stilled. It hungers for you, albeit circuitously; it is does not perceive the route to you in linear fashion. Many are dying as it seeks you; we may never recover them. It will eat everything near you. Will you trust me and do as I say?" Nwm asked.

"Yes," Tramst replied. Even in the darkness, Nwm knew that his expression was open.

Nwm reached out and felt the Sela's helm, and placed a hand on either side.

"Invoke her," the Preceptor said.

"Nehael," Tramst whispered. A supplication.

"Rest until the morning. I will wake you at sunrise." With a strong twist, Nwm snapped the Sela's neck.

His death passed unnoticed by all except the Darkness.

Become an enormous hunting cat, Nwm bounded north and west. Two minutes later, beyond the range of Prahar's invocation, he assumed the form of a great eagle, and powered his way away, in search of a likely refuge.

Meanwhile, the void turned its attention to the brightest remaining source of light.


**


Lai led six wizards – Mostin, Mulissu, Jalael, Tozinak, Waide, and Droom – north and west across the battlefield in vaporous form. Sho and Muthollo had retreated into the Tower, in the event that one amongst the Cheshnite immortals was to prove intent upon – and capable of – breaching it. Disjoining the wards upon the solar in the vestibule had been the Alienist's suggestion as to their first line of defense.

As Mostin sped away from his fortress, he noticed that a number of large nozzles had emerged at intervals around the tower, and were projecting some kind of hellfire at the advancing demons.

Evidently, Sho had been referencing more obscure tomes than he; this function was unknown to him.

To hasten their passage, Mulissu had evoked a roaring wind which verged on agonizing to ride. Only moments later, Naatha, Guho and a group of Kesha-Dirghaa theurges were in swift pursuit, employing similar tactics. The savant immediately conjured elementals to delay them.

Below, isolated skirmishes persisted between death knights and paladins; ahead, a blank hemisphere a half-mile in diameter had sprung up. Around it – and presumably within it – the main conflict surged to and fro.

[Mostin]: What is your evacuation plan?

[Mulissu]: I?

[Jalael]: He means any but he.

[Mostin]: I am not equipped to move large numbers of mundanes. What do we have left?

(Tally of spells).

[Jalael]: Were that we were better configured for offense.

[Mostin]: We will be next time.

[Waide]: There will be no 'next time.' I might also observe that the stress of our current predicament is having a deleterious effect upon Tozinak's delicate psyche.

[Tozinak]: Do not speak of me as though I am not here!

[Jalael]: The fat transmuter fears stress, Tozinak. Pay him no heed. Somehow, you have stumbled your way into transvalency.

[Tozinak] (emboldened): Quite so!

[Mostin]: A month previous would have been preferable.

[Tozinak]: I have a spell already at hand!

[Waide]: He is clearly deranged.

[Tozinak]: Preparation will take only a few moments. I must corporeate and study my petroglyphs.

[Mostin + Mulissu]: What do you speak of?

[Tozinak]: My slab, bequeathed by Jovol. His last work.

[Mostin]: What is it titled, idiot?

[Tozinak]: There is no need for rudeness, Mostin.

[Mostin]: Its name!

[Tozinak]: A Flame Precedes the Aeon

[Mulissu] (exasperated): Just show us the pattern.

(A pause for inspection)

[Mostin]: A Grand Enochia? A conjuration, or a transmutation? It makes no sense. The spell is scribed in terms of Urgic Altitudes. It needs thirteen…

[Jalael]: Tozinak! You imbecile!

Mostin groaned as he saw. The focus required was Pharamne's Urn.

Ortwine's voice suddenly echoed in his head. Mostin! You made it! How delightful!

As they began to descend, Mostin looked down and sighed. The sidhe was waltzing with a balor upon a heap of the slain.

From without the magical darkness, the insatiable void now lurched uncertainly; but away from the conflict, south and east towards Jompa.

Ahead of it, drawing it onwards, a streak of brilliant light; Eadric brandishing Lukarn and riding upon Narh.


**


In Nizkur, the appeal reached her.

Teppu immediately stopped time.

"Thank-you," Nehael acknowledged. A moment to reflect was never a bad thing.

"It is an eventful night," Teppu observed. "And I am losing track. Has Nwm overstepped the mark, I wonder?"

"Frankly, I find Hlioth's play more outrageous."

"Enitharmon will be in flap," Teppu pointed out.

Nehael nodded. "I anticipate he will send episemes to penetrate the Hahio. I might need to have words with them."

"Be gentle with them," Teppu said wrily.

"I will invite them to stay," Nehael smiled. "I can be very accommodating. If you would…"

Time resumed its normal flow.

The goddess reached out to Tramst; Her grace enfolded his spirit, and kept him safe.


** **


By the light of a dim oil lamp, the Adversary relaxed in the study of Mostin's manse, sipping firewine and playing a game of chance with Mei.

"Alas," he remarked wrily to the simulacrum. "I fear that you have no ego and I have no name. We should each borrow a little from the other."

Mei was confused. She still didn't know why this sprite was here. He seemed pleasant enough, and his manners were always impeccable; although she could never tell if he was being serious.

"No, thank-you. I await my pseudogenesis," she answered, playing a red token with three sphinxes graven on it.

"Might I inquire why?" The Adversary asked.

"I must weigh transcendence against preservation; I favor a high ratio of the former to the latter."

"Your sister seems content enough." The Adversary carefully placed two white tokens – each bearing a yellow trifoil – on the table. "Hers is a rapid path."

"I wish for a greater leap," Mei shrugged.

"Ahh," the Adversary nodded. "I face a similar dilemma. Although mine is rather the reverse."

"I do not comprehend."

"The certitude of diminishment, or the high likelihood of extinction. You may remove that token from beneath your hand; you must learn more finesse if you are going to cheat at this game." He played another yellow trifoil.

"And if you choose to risk extinction, and yet persist?" Mei inquired, unabashed that her subterfuge was revealed.

"I fear I might be forgiven. From my perspective, this is the worst possible outcome."

"Diminishment is so untenable a proposition?"

"My circumstances are rather unique," the Adversary smiled.

"And extinction?"

"I speak metaphorically, of course."

Mei gave a puzzled look. "I can no longer follow this argument."

The Adversary sighed. "It is complex. I also regret to inform you that I have won the game."

He placed a blue tile bearing a pomegranate before him.

"You already played that token!" Mei objected.

"I'm sure I didn't. Perhaps you are mistaking the previous game with this."

"This game bores me," Mei remarked. "I never win."

"I have another," the Adversary suggested. "If you would prefer. It is called Requite."

"Are there more tokens?"

"Of a sort," the Adversary admitted. "But of a more abstract kind. We pretend to dispense judgement upon our devilish minions, pronouncing terrible dooms; their humiliation and subjugation serves to magnify us. We must maneuver our pieces cunningly; our minions are apt to squabble amongst themselves."

"It sounds involved."

"It is," the Adversary nodded. "But I am well-practiced, and I can teach you. Would you care to learn?"

Mei shrugged. It was something to pass the time.
 
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