The Blade of Phoee (Updated 12/08/08)

Funeris

Visitor
PRELUDE

Translated from The Book of Phoee

And whence the mother came is of no import,
Her bright beauty caused the darkness to flee.
Her light, her love, the brightest cord,
Killed the darkness; melted the ice; created the Sea.

The last of the dying races,
Adopted as her own blood,
Given rule over all the places,
The power to do what they could.

The old peoples were reborn and spread,
Except for the human race.
But old rivalries returned, many now new became dead.
The last man, now god, refused his kind a place.

The Mother birthed a true god,
To quench the fires of hate.
A god from whence all the others trod,
A god once divided, continued to mate.

A pantheon of power was born,
Hatred slaughtered the last man
And still the adopted gave no heed only scorn.
From the ashes, darkness rose again.

Humanity was created in the fires of death,
Led by a malicious being bent by power.
By his hand, the other Gods released their last breath
And brought the world into its final hour.
“Aye! And we weren’t more ‘an one naut from Norsae when the sky caught fire! Ach! Don’t laugh, boys! I tell ye’ a truth. I swear it on Cahsa herself. The clouds burst into flames an’ the sea screamed.

“Dammit, stop laughing! Norsae was ripperd right out ‘e ocean! I could ‘ear Phoee cryin’. A painful wail it was.

“Then. Then, Cahsa turned on us an smashed ‘e ship. If’n the mage hadn’t teleported me out…I’d have…the rest of me boys…we’d all…

“Cahsa ate ‘em alive.”

-Danbury Smalls, Former Captain of the Lost Cahsa’s Wave and current drunk

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What follows is a story set on the homebrewed continent of Norum da Salaex....

I have began the conversion between this thread and .pdf. The first .pdf with the Preludes and Interlude within is located on the sixth page of this thread, first post (You must have Adobe Reader 6.0 or newer to read). Enjoy!

EDIT: I added the .pdf of Chapter 1 today (9/23). Its on page 6 as well. Enjoy!

~Funeris

P.S. I’m not abandoning my first story hour to do this but sometimes, we all need a break.
 
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Funeris

Visitor
Prelude: Ana

She shifted quietly in the shadows of the manor, her presence unknown except to her employer. His hired men had not noticed her for the past fortnight, so quietly she moved. For all they knew, they were alone. Their crude jokes and mannerisms just proved their lack of awareness.

For hours and hours she sat in silence in the dark having to endure their stories about the most recent wenches they had the pleasure of having. Anastrianna knew better. These guards suffered from overactive imaginations. These men, and she used the term loosely, would not be able to pleasure a woman if given verbal, step-by-step instructions from a master of the trade.

In the shadows she remained, waiting for her benefactor to leave. Master Crawson was one of the more important merchants in the city of Nordaa Saam. And by important, Ana meant wealthy. He had hundreds of contracts at any one time, whether they be the production of arms and armor for the Empire or individual deals to hunt down antiques or relics. The word on the street was if it could be found, Master Crawson would be the one to find it.

Ana was a little more skeptical than most. She needed proof of his abilities, of his importance. Her skepticism was what caused this indentured servitude. Using the tools of her trade, she had broken into the manor she was now forced to guard. Easily she had bypassed his traps and tricks, seeking out his main vault.

When she found Crawson’s inner sanctum, she had been astounded. Gold and silver lied heaped in piles along with rubies and other gems of exquisite cut. On a pedestal in the center of the vault was a unique adamantine box. The box was perhaps a half-foot long by a half-foot wide and just as deep. Engraved on the top of the box were symbols the likes of which she had never seen. There was no edge to the box, almost as if it was a pure piece of adamantine. But, when lifted, the box felt light as if hollow.

That was when Ana’s astonishment doubled. The door to the vault slammed shut behind her. She spun, dropped the box and she heard the sound of its locking mechanism close. A quick examination showed no way to unlock the door from the inside, so she sat down on a pile of gold defeated.

Mere moments later, a metal slat opened on the door and two old blue eyes peered into the vault. Master Crawson had caught her in the act. Instead of informing the guard though, he offered her a way to pay off her debt. Now she was stuck indefinitely as a guard for the very fortune she had come to claim.

A soft click broke Ana from her recollections. The old oak door had closed, signaling Crawson’s leave. Quietly, the rogue slipped through the shadows to the lone guard left in the office. With a quick thrust of her hand, the guard dropped to the floor unconscious.

Anastrianna moved to the only window in the office and slid it open. She then secured a grappling hook to Crawson’s massive and heavy wooden desk. Next, she tossed a length of rope out the third story room.

She whistled and then turned from the window, heading to the vault. Using her lock picks, Ana managed to open the vault door just as three noisome half-orcs climbed through the window. She dashed for the box and slid it into her satchel, placing a steel replica in its place on the pedestal.

A sickly sound marked the death of the guard she had knocked out. The three half-ors plodded toward her.

“Shhhh,” she warned, motioning with her finger for quiet. “Grab what you can from the vault then get out.” The half-orcs started filling their satchels hand over fist with gold.

Ana reeled in the climbing rope and shut the heavy glass window. She checked to make sure the half-orcs were distracted. Ana smashed the window open and flung the rope outside. Three confused half-orc heads turned in her direction.

“GUARDS!!!” Ana wailed.

The half-orcs faces went crimson as they charged their ex-partner. As they reached her, the doors burst open and armored guards filed into the office. Crossbows rose toward the three crooks.

The lead half-orc smashed Ana’s face with his large, grimy hand before he leapt out the window. The second followed his leader out the window but the third was hit by a volley of bolts. He struggled for only a moment before his life flowed out of the many wounds.

Master Crawson strode into the room to find one dead guard, one dead thief, and Ana picking herself up off the floor.

“What happened?!” The old merchant demanded.

“Thieves, sir,” Ana replied. She wiped blood from her quickly bruising face. “I called for the guards as you instructed. I think they only managed to get some of the gold. I’m going after them.” She stalked toward the now shattered window.

“Wait just one minute.” Crawson peeked into the vault to assure the safety of his most precious treasure. Then the merchant turned back to the indentured rogue. “I’m not sure that’s entirely necessary, Ana. The box is still there. The other trinkets mean nothing to me.”

“That’s not what you pay me for, sir.” Ana grabbed a hold of the rope and flung herself out the window.

“I don’t pay you at all.” Crawson mumbled as he entered his vault.
 
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Hello hello

Hi there,

I like this start because, yep, you strung me along. And the style was nice too. Looking forward to next update...

Oh, and your world building sounds great! Loving the idea of the god trying to wrest the continent out of reality.

So when do the Mindflayers turn up? ;)

Spider.
 

Funeris

Visitor
Thanks :) Your praise is very encouraging. Mainly because I don't think you've responded to my other SH which is DMed by Destan. Its always nice to hear from 'new' individuals.

I actually began building the 'world' in a d10 system about 9 or 10 years ago. And originally it was built for a modern horror game. When I made the switch to D20, the world came with me. I changed continents and delved deeper into the religious conflict of the world.

Mindflayers? What are they? ;)
 
Well, haven't replied to the other story hour - i like watching new threads grow. How depressingly paternal.

I'd love to hear some more info on the world...

ps. Mindflayers? What are they? I'm not supposed to speak about it [Vacant stare].
 

Funeris

Visitor
Well...I suppose I could give you some basic info that the other players do know about the world at hand.

The King of Norum da Salaex, Toq Arma Dunn (Toq is pronounced Tock...and the rest is phoenetic), has been in rule for 576 years. He's human. He's also the first 'disciple' of Ara'kull, the current God of Men and has been blessed with immortality...or so the religious teachings say.

Toq was alive before the continent was ripped out of the ocean. He had been a great adventurer who was nearing the edge of his prime. Practically undefeatable in battle, again according to religious teachings. As age and as the amount of death he'd seen increased, he gradually became quite jaded. He turned from adventuring to wasting the wealth he had acquired in his youth on women and copious amounts of addictive substances. Slowly, his body wasted away just as his mind.

One night, Ara'kull appeared to the once hero. The Deity promised Toq power and fame. Toq had already had those however. It was the promise of purpose that stirred the warrior from his self inflicted decline. Ara'kull ordered Toq to gather a force to conquer the current Emperor. Then, Toq could rule over a peaceful Utopia built in the image of Ara'kull.

The ruler at this time upon Norum da Salaex was quite the dictator. It was known only as the Dark Lord and was said to hail from The Devil's Bog, a swamp in the southeast of the continent. I realize that the title Dark Lord is cliche...but eh. Perhaps the Dark Lord had a name..but if It did, it wasn't about to let that secret out. It is harder to fight that which you don't know or understand. Thus the ambiguity.

So, Toq built an army (human) and led them toward the capital city, Midloth. The path he travelled became known as The Path of Legends and is currently a major travelway. Along the route, Toq attempted to recruit the elven and dwarven races to his cause. They agreed to rally their forces and meet at Midloth.

Once at Midloth, the elves and dwarves never showed. Toq's army (a mere 5,000 men) were faced against an army of Orcs and Trolls more than ten times that size. Swearing a curse upon the other races, Toq charged into battle.

By the hand of Ara'kull, his men managed to survive long enough for Toq to challenge the Dark Lord. Both the Dark Lord and Toq were mortally wounded when the Dark Spire exploded in a surge of divine energy. They fell and their bodies broke upon ground below the tower along with rubble.

Ara'kull brought his full divine energy into the world in front of the hordes of men, orcs, and trolls that stood watching the climax of the battle. It is said his rage at the loss of his first disciple destroyed all the rest of the world. Although, many heretical religious teachings say Norum da Salaex was just removed from the world.

Then Ara'kull touched Toq, blessing the human with immortality. Allowing Toq to rule for...well forever. The Trolls and Orcs swore allegiance to both Toq and Ara'kull (preventing their extermination).

Elves and dwarves (and half-breeds containing either racial characteristic) are hunted down to this day and slaughtered after being tortured into declaring Ara'kull their sole God. Halflings and Gnomes are also mistrusted and usually forced into slave labor camps. In these camps, they are forced to breed like cattle. And like cattle, they become a source of sustenance for Trolls and Orcs. Humans typically refrain from eating any of the tainted races, despite their status as a delicacy.

Obviously, 576 years after that battle the kingdom is hardly a Utopia and more on par with a hell. Repression, slavery, rape, random and not-so-random murders abound. Humans are the gods of the land.

The continent has been divided into 13 territories (14 if you count the capital where Toq rules), each with its own Baron. The Barons answer directly to the King, but are permitted the power and ability to fight amongst themselves (be it for land, slaves, or whatnot). This keeps borders ever-changing and prevents the Barons (typically) from joining to try to take the Empire.

Additionally, there are two unclaimed portions of territory. One is a small island north of the continent and the other is the peninsula in the southeast. This peninsula contains the Devil's Bog, another swamp, and a small mountain range that are considered untouchable by most.

How's that for a little more background? :D
 

Funeris

Visitor
Prelude: Ana (Concluded)

Well OaxacanWarrior, thanks for reading. Here's an update :D Just figured I should finish Ana's prelude so I could move on to Cassock's. I'm so psyched to play this Friday.

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Toren tapped his fingers rapidly against the hard oak table. Ana, having known Toren for over seven years, easily recognized the worried quirk for what it was. She slipped backward into her chair, sipping from the crystal wine glass.

The entire room was furnished with the most expensive and finest of everything. Exquisitely crafted furniture, padded with the softest down wrapped in silk cases, circled the magnificently carved table. Dwarven runes inlaid the oak table in a spiraling pattern. Ana could not read the Dwarven script but Toren had taught her to distinguish between the written languages. A table as finely crafted as Toren’s centerpiece was easily worth a fortune by itself if only for the script. Items created by the older races, considered contraband, always priced higher on the market.

Contraband seemed to be Toren’s favorite means of decoration. Items practically littered his shelves and desks, all from other cultures. Elven script, Halfling script, even the writing of a race of snake-descended people reflected the candlelight. The Elven writing was by far the most beautiful in the flickering light, Ana thought.

Her mind drifted back to the glass in her hand. She shifted to empty the remains of the decanter into the crystal. Toren’s drumming cadence filled the edge of her perception again as she swallowed another burst of flavor. Her mentor leapt out of his chair and moved to refill his own glass.

Unlike Ana, who reveled in the delightful zest of a fine Elven wine, Toren had long ago grown to cherish a Dwarven brew. Unfortunately his stocks were slowly depleting. The Empire had recently stepped up the holy war against the older races. Dwarven ale was becoming increasingly rare and thus increasingly costly. If Toren could ever adapt to the foul drink of the Orcs, Trolls, or even the sludge the Goblins drank, it would save him a fortune. He smirked in distaste as he refilled his mug.

“So, are you going to show it to me, Ana?” Toren queried.

The rogue lifted her sack and removed the adamantine box. Carefully, despite its invulnerability, she placed the engraved box on the table. Toren returned to the table, ponderously examining the work of art. His eyes darted over the symbols and runes, memorizing every detail, every edge.

“What language is that?”

“That is Phoeeic, the writing of the druids.” Toren glanced upward, “You won’t see it much. They voraciously guard their relics. And to find the writing on metal is quite a rarity. They abhor metallurgy even while respecting the necessity of the art.”

“So it is worth a lot then?”

“Worth more money then I’ll ever see,” Toren responded. “It is definitely unique, to say the least.”

“What does it say?”

The older rogue chuckled. “If I knew that dear, I’d probably be dead. Druids don’t share their secrets. And the Empire executes them just as often as they do elves and dwarves.” Toren leaned back up, taking a deep swallow of the ale.

“How much can you give me for it?” Ana tapped her boot-sole with impatience.

“I cannot buy it from you, dear. You can’t sell it in Nordaa Saam.” Her mouth dropped open in protest but Toren interrupted her with a wave of his hand. “By now, Crawson probably already knows that the box in his treasury is a fake. This means, he knows you were in on the heist and that you probably have this artifact. Selling the item in this city, would only bring you a swift death.

“Your life is in jeopardy just by staying here. As is mine,” he added with an ironic grin. “What I suggest is that you take the box and leave. At least, for awhile go somewhere safe. When everything calms down, I can send for your return. You do have somewhere you can go, right?”

Ana thought for a moment; dreading her decision, dreading her destination. “Yes.”

“Good. Where?”

She cocked her eyebrow and reluctantly said, “The Town of Green Hills. It’s to the west some distance. It should be small enough that I’ll be safe.”

“Good, good. Does anyone else know about your theft?” Toren finished his glass with a gulp.

“Only Argot, I needed someone to craft a replica. I paid him well and I trust him. He won’t turn on me.” Ana slid the box back into her pack and readjusted the straps.

“A little extra silver will help keep his silence,” Toren claimed. “Go now, Ana. Take my horse. It should help you gain a lead on Crawson’s lackeys.”

“Thank you, Toren. I appreciate…everything you’ve done for me.” Ana took a step toward the back door. Toren grabbed her shoulder and gave a quick peck on her forehead.

“Safe journey, Ana.” Anastrianna silently exited the room. Removing the empty crystal from the table, Toren waited for the departing sound of hooves.

Once sure she had left, the rogue removed his robe and donned his work outfit. Silently he packed the gear he would need and picked up his trusty dagger.

“A little extra silver could never hurt.” He smirked as he left to clean up Ana’s mess.
 

Funeris

Visitor
Prelude: Cassock

This is the first part of Cassock's (a.k.a. Hendric Balsoon's) prelude. Enjoy.

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Hendrick Balsoon stormed down the stairs, tossing his father’s worn backpack carelessly by the door. He paused for a quick breath and opened the door. A hooded figure darted in quickly, motioning for the door to the cottage be closed. Hendrick acquiesced to the somatic request and turned to greet the guest.

The visitor tossed the hood back revealing silvered hair and a worn face. The man’s eyes were bright blue and lacked the age shown upon his brow.

“Baron Tyne,” Hendrick stammered, dropping to his knees.

“Oh come now, Master Hendrick. You know I consider your family my own family. Stand up and address me as Dragos.” Hendrick stood, head still slightly bent in respect. “And here,” Dragos removed his traveler’s cloak and tossed it to Hendrick.

Hendrick quickly hung the cloak upon a hook, turning to speak with the visitor. “Is my father expecting you, Dragos?”

“Yes he knows I was coming tonight. Please, let’s move into the parlor, shall we? My old bones need a warm up and your father’s whiskey should do the trick.” The old Baron smiled a pearly grin and paced toward the interior room.

Hendrick went to a cupboard to procure three glasses and once in the parlor, filled all three with a potent whiskey. Dragos quietly sipped for a moment, allowing the warmth to flood back in his cheeks.

“Winter seems to come earlier and earlier each year,” Baron Tyne remarked to no one in particular. “My body can’t take much more of this.” The politician burst into a hacking cough as if to emphasize his point.

“I’m sure you’ll outlive us all, Baron.” Hendrick downed a healthy bit of the whiskey, a smile covering the burn of the aged drink.

“I truly doubt that.” Dragos peered down the hallway, toward the door, his eyes focusing on the rugged pack heaped carelessly. “Going somewhere, Hendrick?”

“Yes. My life here in your great city is coming to an end, I think. I’m setting off to find my own way in the world.” Hendrick smiled again, although not to cover the effect of the alcohol.

“I remember my own adventures, long ago. The world’s not changed much since then, I’m afraid.” A shadow crossed Dragos’ worn, leathery face before passing into nothingness. “I wish you luck on your journey.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“I will ask one thing of you now, though. A promise I expect you to keep. You are a man of your word, like your father?” Dragos’ expression now reflected a stern look; still lurking behind his eyes was a kindness incomparable.

“Of course, sir. My father and mother have taught me well. They are virtuous.”

“That they are, that they are. Your promise is this: you must swear to never enter into politics,” the stern gaze was immediately replaced with a friendly grin. “Whatever horrors you may experience upon your travels, nothing compares to the atrocities of the political arena.” The Baron’s grin only grew larger as he awaited a response.

“I have no desire to rule, sir,” Hendrick was quick to reply.

“Ah, but neither did I when I was your age. The things I saw though,” his eyes drifted back through time as he spoke, “made me want to change the world. I warn you now: it’s a futile effort in this damnable Empire. With a ruler as old as the Empire, I fear things will never change.”

“There is always hope for change, sir.”

“Bah. Only if the King were to die could anything ever change. Perhaps that is a lesson you will have to learn yourself. I still need your oath, Hendrick.” Dragos leaned in to pour another glass of fire-water.

“You have my word, Baron Tyne. Never will I enter into the political arena, as you so labeled it.” Hendrick smiled, refilling his own empty mug.

The front door opened again, this time a good-sized man stepping through. His pitch black hair was cropped close to his head. Two white jets of color stained the man’s temples. The light from a fire, barely reflected from the deep-set black eyes.

“Dragos, my friend.” The Baron stood, clasping hands with Hendrick’s father.

“Morgan, I hope all is well with you.”

Morgan leaned downward to grasp the unclaimed glass of fire-water and decanter. “All is as well as ever, Dragos. If you’d like, we can retire to the library.”

“Of course, of course. Hendrick, when do you leave?”

“At dawn, sir.”

“Well, boy, you should get some sleep. I’m sure you have a long day of travel ahead of you. Besides, you father and I have some business to discuss.” The old man grasped Hendrick’s shoulder. “Remember your oath. And safe journey to you.”

“Good night, Baron. Father.” With an informal bow, Hendrick returned to his room for a long night’s rest.

“You have a good son, Morgan.” Dragos smiled.

“Yes. His fate is upon him now, though. It is good for him to leave and find his own path. Come, old friend.” Morgan led Dragos into the small, comfortable library. Within a few moments, a fire blazed within the confines of the small, stone chimney. Both the fire and the fire-water warmed the veins of the men. Morgan quietly closed the door and settled in a chair opposite the Baron.

“Dark times are upon us, Morgan. A war is coming and I don’t just mean with the Elves and Dwarves. Rumors abound that the Orcs and Trolls are going to make a play for power. If the Trolls overrun the Goblin territory, Port Divi’sad will likely fall again. I can only assume the Orcs would push further into the Troll territory when they’re distracted.”

“It would be a logical attack. Maybe too logical for those beasts.” Morgan pulled a large map, rough with age. Marks in various colors adorned the map, showing the various boundary changes throughout the years.

“My thoughts exactly. It’s whispered that the Orcs are going to turn against the Empire. But how is not known. If I have heard these whispers, then I guarantee so has the King.”

Morgan filled both glasses again, settling into his chair. “I have a feeling you did not come just to discuss a possible war or rumors that may or may not be true, Baron.”

Dragos sighed, another dry coughing fit welling up through his body. “No, Morgan, I did not. I am old. I can feel Cael’s <1> icy grip on my body. Soon, I fear, I will pass on. And I’ve no heir to leave control of this territory.

“You’ve been my faithful advisor for years and years. Never have I found better advice than your own words. I wish for you to take my place when I die.” Morgan looked down to the floor, weighing the Baron’s words.

“Dragos, I cannot serve the King. You know this. I cannot and will not. If you leave me in charge, I will secede.”

“I know that. As I said, dark times are upon us. You’re the only one with enough strength and experience to pull Legend <2> through the coming wars. I do not ask you to take up this role as Morgan, the secret advisor of Baron Tyne. I ask you to take the role as Morrick, the Hand of Cael.” Dragos paused, to gauge the effect of his words.

“On those terms, I will accept the position, although I am no ruler.”

“No, my friend, you are no ruler. But, you are a leader and a damn fine tactician.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere.” Morrick smiled as he downed another shot of the whiskey.

“You did save Port Divi’sad thirty years ago, not to mention my life.” Again, the Baron’s eyes clouded over, consumed by memory.

“You were a damn fine sergeant, Tyne. If not for you and the men that sacrificed their lives, the battle would not have been won. Besides, Cael was with us.”

“And how is the old God of Death, Morrick?” Dragos refilled his own glass.

“I’ve not heard him since that battle. For thirty years I’ve had silence <3>. I think things may change soon though. Very soon. That’s what I pray for at least.” Morrick stirred from his reverie and looked downward at the map. “Shall we plan some strategy for the wars?”

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<1> - Cael (rhymes with Pail) is one of the old gods (half of the first child of Phoee); specifically the God of Death.
<2> - Legend is the name of one of the thirteen territories in Norum da Salaex. It is named Legend because the majority of the Path of Legends runs across it.
<3> - In case the allusion isn’t very clear, Morrick was a cleric of Cael. But I didn’t want to just come out and say he was a cleric.
 

Funeris

Visitor
Prelude: Cassock (Continued)

Just a quick snippet of Cassock's prelude while I'm at work. Enjoy.

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Hendrick lifted the satchel from the floor and secured it tightly to his back. He turned for his final farewell and absorbed the comfort of home one last time.

Gwenyth, his mother, and Morgan stood side-by-side, arms entangled on each other’s shoulders and bodies. A lingering scent of alcohol wafted from his father. Morgan’s eyes were red-rimmed, either from exhaustion, sadness, or a combination thereof.

“Are you sure there is nothing else you need, son?” A flash of concern lingered momentarily in his father’s voice.

“No. I think I will be alright.” Hendrick turned longingly for the door, for the road.

“You will remember all that we have taught you?” Gwenyth questioned. Her flowing blonde hair quivered slightly against her face. Despite her age, no wrinkles had dared to crease her brow. No silver had dared taint her perfect sunlight-colored hair.

“I could never forget my home or my teaching. I will remember it often. It will form a comparative basis against the education I receive upon my travels. I will not forget. And I will return.” Hendrick opened the door. The first rays of the dying summer son flooded into the entryway. Its warmth was slightly retarded by a brief, brisk breeze.

“Tell me of the Gods, Hendrick. The True Gods.” Hendrick spun toward his father’s voice. An edge had crept into the old soldier’s tone, the demanding and forceful voice of an educator. The edge mated with a near-crazy manic glint in his piercing black eyes.

“The first was Phoee the Savior, the mother. She came upon our world and purged the taint of hatred and evil. She adopted one member of each of the races to bear the new bloodlines.

“But the world was devoid of life because of the purge. The world was without light. Phoee birthed a child, Myrcael, to journey into the heavens and restore light to the world. Myrcael traveled to a dead star and breathed life into the red twilight. The star burst with raw power and fed Norum da Salaex with its living rays.

“Myrcael did not return from the star as one. Without Darkness there could be no Light. Two beings returned from the sun: Myr, the Goddess of light and life, and Cael, the Lord of Darkness and Death.

“Myr and Cael created the pantheon under which the world has thrived. The Mother chose to slumber within the planet, restoring the natural order. The Embraced children began to replenish their own races, except for one.

“Guymardt refused to shape humanity in his image. It is said humanity had been responsible for the darkness that had destroyed the world. As such, he refused to birth our race.

“The world flourished for a time, until the War in Heaven began. Myr and Cael had birthed four younger deities. These gods then reproduced again, although only to create two more. The Kin Gods, those of direct relation to Phoee, ruled over the Embraced.

“But the Embraced fought amongst themselves. Their races also warred across the world. And then Nar’sra, the God of the Snake-Race, slew Guymardt. Guymardt’s corpse fell onto the world, shattering. The Kin Gods were unable to prevent the death.

“From his bones and skin sprung the humanity he had died. Also from his dust rose a dark form: Ara’kull, the Fallen God, the destroyer. The War that began with the death of a God and the birth of mankind, still continues to this day.” Hendrick swallowed, his mouth dry from the well-instructed story.

“You are ready.” Morgan released his wife and embraced Hendrick. “May the old Gods protect you, son.”

“And you, father.” Gwenyth moved to grasp her son one last time. The three stood huddled for several minutes before Hendrick broke away. He walked into the street and toward the edge of the city.

Gwenyth turned to her husband. “He will be alright, won’t he?”

“His fate is beyond us now, love. Cael will watch and the darkness shall protect him.”

“If you offer your blessing, then so shall I, Morrick,” Gwenyth replied. “Let the lights of Myr guide the path of my son. May her rays bless and refresh him in his times of need.” With a quick kiss, the clerics of opposing churches returned into their home.

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Two hours later, Hendrick stopped upon a hillock and turned back toward his home. The capital city Legend spiraled upward into the heavens and yet, from this distance seemed quite miniscule. He smiled and turned back to the Path of Legends. Slowly he journeyed away from his home, his old life, and toward destiny.
 

Funeris

Visitor
Prelude: Cassock (Concluded)

Finishing Cassock's prelude. Enjoy!

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Hendrick Balsoon had been traveling for nearly a fortnight non-stop southward. Each day of walking brought the dying days of Kullyc <1> closer. The scrub brush along the Path of Legends was steadily disappearing. He had noted the slow shifting of the colorful foliage beginning.

When Hendrick had been just a child, the leaves would not turn until the end of the first month of the season. That month, Brenn, was still a week from beginning. With each year, it seemed as if winter came earlier and lasted longer. And so, the leaves started to change now at the end of the summer months.

Two hundred miles now separated Hendrick from his birthplace. Still each day at dawn he packed his gear and started a march we wouldn’t stop until late in the night. The flowing hills surrounding Legend originally stretching upward toward the sun had sloped downward for days. As the Draeul Wood closed on Hendrick’s right, the Coastal Spine appeared out of mist guarding his left. The path was incredibly wide and worn from ages of travel. Hendrick held closer to the forest preferring to keep the massive pillars of stone at a safe distance.

Soon after the appearance of the forest and mountains, Hendrick found himself standing on the edge of a great chasm. He had finally reached the boundary separating Legend and Nordaa Saam. An immense bridge crafted of the strongest steels arched over the depth. The bridge itself was nearly a mile long. At its center, Hendrick looked into the ravine. His eyes strained, focusing on a faint blue line etching its way across the land. The Draeul River, Hendrick had guessed before comparing reality to the old hand-drawn map in his satchel. The Draeul River was birthed in the Coastal Spine Mountains and flowed westward, through the Great Chasm before veering north and flowing into the Norden Ocean. At the coast, the great river actually divided Port Divi’sad in half. A port shared by the Goblin Territory of Maatz and Hendrick’s own Legend.

Hendrick’s thoughts were broken by a deep rumbling to the south. His eyes peered heavenward catching sight of a massive black storm swiftly swelling northward. Quickly stuffing the parchment back into a ceramic tube, he picked up his pace. Hopefully, he would be off the bridge before Hell rained from above.

One hundred paces from the bridge, another booming roar shook the air around Hendrick. He bowed his head, preparing for pelting rains and accelerated into a run. As soon as the first thunder subsided, another split the air directly above Hendrick’s head. An ocean of crackling filled his ears; the hair on his arms and head began to stand straight up.

Two hundred paces from the bridge, fire cascaded from the heavens. The bolts of energy poured into the large bridge and charged the very molecules of air. Hendrick refused to lower his speed, bowing his head more and charging along the path. A few big globs of water foreshadowed the torrent of rain, suddenly exploding from the dark clouds. Within mere seconds Hendrick was soaked to the bone.

Fully under the thunder clouds, the setting sun’s rays were completely obscured by shadow. Hendrick glanced up every few moments to check his direction. With the darkening sky, his human eyes quickly registered less and less. A random root broke the surface of the trail and snagged Hendrick’s foot. Unable to slow, Hendrick’s momentum carried him straight down. With a bone jarring force, his head slammed into the packed dirt of the trail.

A warmth spreading through his face alerted Hendrick to the vitae pouring from his nose. A slight searing pain also stretched across his face. He moved his hands to lift himself back up and another series of lightning bolts pounded into the dirt inches from his skull.

“By Caevari’s <2> will!” Hendrick cried as residual electricity straightened his jet-black hair yet again. Quickly, he pushed himself from the earth and broke into another run. Two steps from his prone position, lightning crackled into the earth flash-boiling his blood and the rain.

The strobe lightning revealed Draeul Forest growing ever closer as Hendrick charged forward. The lightning continued to attack along with the large and ceaseless raindrops. Hendrick always seemed to be just to the left or right of the individual bolts and suffered nothing but a slight static charge.

Another bolt crackled to the left, Hendrick twisted his foot and shifted direction to the right toward the forest. The huge, ancient trees were only three paces from him now. Suddenly, a horrific epiphany crossed his mind. I’m being herded by the lightning, Hendrick thought.

Lightning burst earthward again but smashed into the large oak above Hendrick. He ducked instinctually and looked upward. With a crack, a huge branch plummeted. Hendrick tried to dodge but the branch smacked him in the back of his skull. He fell forward, a jeering pain lurching through his head. He blinked twice, wiping mud and blood from his eyes.

A thunderous roar and the sound of the tree being zapped again by the heavenly fire filled Hendrick’s ears. His eyes noticed nothing but darkness.

“By the Gods,” he murmured groping blindly. Still his eyes would not function despite the continued lightening he could only guess to be more electricity. He could feel warmth spreading quickly above him, the terrible swift hunger of fire. A splintering sound boomed above him.

With a quick lurch, Hendrick pushed into a roll and somersaulted down a steep hill. The sound of another branch smacked into the earth behind him. His body contorted; legs over head and arms then vice-versa for a blind eternity. Slowly the ground evened out and his speed declined.

Abruptly, his roll came to an end against a rock face. Hendrick lied in a fetal position, unconscious.

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Slowly, sounds started echoing through the young man’s mind. There was a roar of flames, definitive by the warmth on his body. Sometimes, there was a sound akin to whistling or whispering. It was light, hollow and only tugged at the edge of his consciousness. Often, the whispers were accompanied with a light summer breeze.

Raindrops could still be heard; heavy, steady and monotonous and at a slight distance. Aside from the dampness of his clothing, Hendrick felt no added moisture. I must’ve stumbled into a cave, he thought. The fire would mean I am not alone. Hendrick reached for his satchel but it was nowhere near his body.

“I wondered when you would wake.” The voice was old but filled with joy. It seemed to be coming from the direction of the fire.

“Who are you?” Hendrick demanded as he sat up. The throbbing in his head had passed. As his hands glanced across his face, he felt no swelling or cuts of any kind.

“I tended your wounds, young master.” The voice replied somewhat bemused. “Your question cannot be answered quickly or simply. Who I am is quite a long story and I’m afraid we haven’t the time for such digressions or niceties. But while you are here, you may call me Master.” Hendrick could almost hear the man laugh.

“I don’t have time for any games. Where is my pack?” Hendrick stood, his sore body crying out for him to stop. Throbbing began again as he bumped his head on a stone ceiling. He barely muffled his cry with his hand.

“I think, my young master that you have quite a bit of time on your hands. Unless you think you can continue your journey blind. Personally, I think a day out in that rainstorm and you’ll be in a worse position than you are now.” Hendrick frowned as he sat back down.

“You’ve healed my wounds. Can you heal my sight?”

“If you let me, I can help you to see clearer than you’ve ever seen before. I will help you see through the shadow. I can show you the truth of the world.”

Hendrick pondered the man’s words for just a second. “I will accept your help. I am…”

“You,” the old man broke in, “are Cassock. Cael has brought you here for your training. Your life as Hendrick Balsoon has ended. From this day forward you are Cassock, the bringer of Cael.” Before Hendrick now Cassock had a moment to wonder how the old man had known his name his training as a priest began.

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Time was unfathomable to Cassock’s blindness. According to his Master, roughly a month had passed; a true eternity in Cassock’s unwavering shadow world.

All of the rites of Cael had been firmly memorized by hours of verbal study. Theology had been pounded into Cassock’s head. All the stories originally told by his parents as bed-time tales of the Old Gods were revisited and expounded upon.

Suddenly, Cassock could feel the old man staring at him. His hackles rose for a moment and the shadowy veil began to lift from his eyes.

“Will you accept the path Cael has chosen for you, Cassock?” The young man nodded mutely. “You will be a bringer of Death and Destruction. Use your gifts in Cael’s name and you will be rewarded at his side. Forever more, you will only be known as Cassock, the Bringer of Cael. Hendrick Balsoon does not and never did exist.”

“I understand, Master.”

“I am no longer your Master, Cassock. You answer only to Cael himself, now. Once your vision returns, you will find a mace, a holy symbol, and some armor here in the cavern. Take it. Return to the world and bring glory to Cael’s name.”

“Where are you going, Teacher?” A soft summer breeze was Cassock’s only answer.

Suddenly, Cassock could make out the details of the room. He turned to the entrance and the darkness revealed it was night. He turned toward the fire but there was none. Nothing cast light inside the cavern but the priest could still see.

Raising his gaze from where the fire should have been, Cassock saw two statues standing across from each other. One statue was carved of black marble; a man holding a sword in its right arm pointing toward a sun. The other was of a woman, white marble, touching her own blade to the same sun. The half of the sun touched by the woman was bright white, almost as if it could cast light. The other half was a molted black and red, true shadow.

Cassock instantly recognized the statues as Cael and Myr. Below Cael, rested the gear the old man had promised. His torn satchel sat beside the mace, mended. The old man was nowhere to be seen. Cassock hastily donned the armor and gathered his gear. He knelt before the statues, the mace across his lap.

“Cael watch over and bless me. Let the darkness guide my path. Let Your darkness protect me.” Cassock quickly bowed then stood. He turned and left the cave.

Once outside, he realized he was no longer near the Path of Legends. He spun back toward the cave but it was gone. Turning around again, Cassock saw the flickering of lights. He headed toward the village.

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<1> Kullyc (Kul-ick) is the name for Autumn. Originally it was called Caelyn (Kel-in) but was renamed by Ara’kull’s church.

<2> Caevari is the God of Luck. He’s also known as the God of Plenty and Traveling. He is one of the Kin Gods and thus is Cael’s and Myr’s Grandson.
 
Very nice.

Loved the lightning-herding sequence - great idea!
The background is really developing well... can't wait for the epic plot growth.

Spider.
 

Funeris

Visitor
Thank you, thank you. Its definitely heading down the epic path. We had our game last Friday night (the first one in nearly three months due to schedule conflicts). They're just now getting to 6th level in real life.

So, I threw an opponent at them way above what they should have been able to handle. Now, they're not your ordinary PCs once they get to fifth level (and that'll be explained in the SH). An NPC warned them to stay away from said opponent. Did they listen? No of course not. They're PCs. Long story short, they all survived. Not even a scratch (I was rolling horribly).

But I'm getting ahead of myself. So...lets return to the present. Or past. Or...you know what I mean :D
 

TheYeti1775

Visitor
Not a scratch... Wasn't even that close

I wasn't even that close.
Think it really pissed him off when I rolled the DC exactly on the first save.
It would have been a very different battle if that hadn't been the case.

Yes she warned us, but I do believe it is my mission in life to bring Death & Destruction to Ara'Kull's followers.
 

Funeris

Visitor
Well, I promise my players everytime we gather that "Tonight is the night I will kill you all." Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point-of-view) I've been unsuccesful at my attempts at a TPK. And lucky for them, I have too much of a conscience to bring them up against an 80th level Divine Rank 21+ being....at the moment. Figured I'd let them make it to seventh level first :)
 

TheYeti1775

Visitor
TPK my @ss.....

He looks at me with a murderous gleam in his eye every d@mn session.

Not my fault his dice like me more than him.
 

Funeris

Visitor
I'm glad you enjoyed, yes I am. So glad in fact, I have some more backstories to throw at you. Although, not today I'm afraid. :)
 

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