Under A Darksun Part II New Allies

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN II: THE BANE OF ATHAS

UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 125
“The Story Thus Far”

DARKSUN
This Storyhour takes place on the world of Athas. Athas is a very different campaign world than most. Many of the traditional humanoid races were killed off in a war 2000 years ago. This Cleansing War as it was called was started by Rajaat. Before him, there was no magic, only the powers of psionics. Magic on Athas is incredibly destructive. Since there are no known gods, the power magic requires originate from the very earth and plant life. The abuse of this new source of power has made most of Athas a barren desert world with areas of strange mutations.

The generals of the war secretly live. They discovered how to use high level psionics and magics to mutate themselves into tall gaunt reptilian creatures referred to as Dragons. There are no dragons of chromatic or gem varies. Now immortal and seemly impossible to be destroyed by any but another rival dragon-king or queen, they rule the city-states of Tyr Valley with an evil iron gauntlet.

One of these Sorcerer-Kings is known as Bane. It is possible that he is the natural father of Mania, one of the key players in this Story Hour.

UNDER A DARKSUN
During the first 125 segments of this Story Hour, we (the readers) were introduced to Mania. He began as a slave on route to Nibenay. He escaped with the help of a rogue elven raiding party whom were there to rescue their king whom was also captured but remained secretive of his stance. He found himself rescued from certain death of dehydration by members of the tradehouse Blewes

Unlike most Tradehouses, the House of Blewes specializes in aiding other trade houses make their deliveries. They remain small but strong and more importantly, necessary for the other larger trade houses. The head of this trade house, Greene, has a strange preoccupation with a dream he had. He dreamed of a utopia west of the mountain range. He hopes to explore the region soon to look into it. In fact, he has begun setting up outposts leading to the south of the Ringing Mountains.

Mania was provided a job at the Caravan Company and became friends with many family members. His first test of ability came as the Blue Bone Tribe of Gith began to reemerge and attack trade routes and templar outposts. Looking to gain a better political position within the city of Nibenay and to help the trade houses, House of Blewes sent out a group of scouts to investigate the ambushes. Dutch, Dirty Dogg and Mania were the primary members. Jocasta Blewes remained behind to work the city council for aid. Here she met Keela, a rising and ambitious young templar.

The ensuing combat involved city templars, the veiled alliance, a group of illegal residents, House of Blewes and a large army of Gith lead by a creature that once a gith but now was something else. Something horrific and never before seen by anyone there.

House of Blewes were declared heroes but also made a great enemy in the templar Keela whom was shadowed greatly by Jocasta Blewes leadership abilities. This became a major factor as Jocasta and Mania each cared for the other but neither could or would express it. Keela used her seductive abilities and money to turn Mania away from Jocasta.

Something Keela did not expect was she came to care for him beyond his use as a pawn. As a templar of Nibenay, she was married but allowed male cumcubines after the union (honeymoon night). This entire romantic conflict played out during a planar rift that allowed fiends into the city. A noble war broke out during this as families were placed in conflict by the fiendish creatures. It was during this time Mania became aware of his possible heritage. He also met a pyreen and a young mysterious mage named Cosa.

Cosa is searching for the lost book of Veena. Veena was a powerful prophet from 750 years ago whom wrote a book filled with her visions. This journal has long since been misplaced and much of it has been taken apart and lost as readers took interest in the images shown. She has several pages. One may speak of a warrior son of a sorcerer-king whom will overthrow him and bring an age of good to Tyr Valley. Unfortunately, the script is unclear and may mean the opposite. He may bring ruin to it instead. Because of this uncertainty, the Veiled Alliance and Pyreen have monitored him and his activities only. Cosa feared this might lead to distrust and anger so she went rogue and contacted Mania.

They quickly became lovers and escaped the city and more importantly, Keela and her templars. Members of the House of Blewes presumed them killed for many months.

Cosa and Mania traveled east to Salt View in search of answers. A Pyreen there told Mania everything. He is much more than he ever expected but how he will play out in the prophecy is still unclear. They continued their search to the ruins of Bodach to find the Sentinels of Bodach and Korgunard. They made friends and allies on the way and lost many of them.

A powerful undead force with an artifact ruled Bodach and hoped to leave the boundaries of the cursed city and attack the unsuspecting Tyr Valley. This attack was stopped as Cosa and Mania delayed the main attack until more powerful agents including Korgunard could arrive.

That was the key events of Segments 1-125. Refer to the below link within my signature for more details.

THE MAIN CHARACTERS

MANIA
He looks and acts like an 18-year-old boy becoming a man but in truth is much more. Uncanny luck and charm balance his rash decision making and impatience. He is a truly gifted man with great strength, speed, health, intelligence and charm. He has become obsessed with the notion of which his parents are. He has learned that his father is an evil sorcerer-king (still isn’t aware of what this truly means aka a dragon) whom lives on an island on southern Tyr Valley. He believes his mother to be dead; killed when forces of good escaped with him as a baby.
He can be terribly naïve and gullible but has a dark side to him. He has impressive fits of anger that may originate from his dragon heritage.

COSA
This mysterious red head has a thing for illusions and solving puzzles. Perhaps this is why she has such an obsessive connection with the Journal of Veena. She has several pages hidden on her and within her goods and belongings. She came to love the young man known as Mania when healing him from a rather poor display against minor demons. She has many secrets and seems to always know more than she lets on. Now that Mania has become convinced that the prophecy does involve him, expect her to caste him on a new road to discover more pages of the journal.

KEELA
She is a deadly, ambitious and cunning templar in Nibenay. Before meeting Mania, she was the top aid of the hi-templar. In bids for power, she was placed into harms way during the Blue Bones Gith incident. She survived and immediately began several plots. The first was to take out the High Templar whom had hoped she would die in the desert. The second was to place Jocasta Blewes in her place. She proceeded to seduce Mania and flaunt this fact before her. It worked and then some. She found herself coming to have true feeling for him. He saw through it in time and left her which has further disgraced her and now her love has become hatred. This hatred is now out of control.
The High-Templar used this hatred and set several layers of intrigue for her to become entwined within. If ever discovered, Keela can be sentenced as a traitor to the city-state since she is unwittedly in dept to the Sorcerer-Queen Obe of the enemy city-state of Gulg. She has been misled to believe she has hired a powerful psionic bounty hunter to locate and return Mania to her. Dead if necessary. Unknown to her, the High Templar is the real benefactor and the psion reports everything to her and acts on her call.

HOUSE of BLEWES
Greene has begun his first expedition to the Hinterlands where he thinks his dreams of a watery utopia are hidden. Dutch, his lead caravan leader has left for Walis already. What he will find is uncertain. Jocasta Blewes still feels for Mania and is hurt that he has become attached to Cosa. She has recently learned that he is alive and on the run. She wants to find him but finds her responsibilities to the tradehouse will not allow for it. Dirty Dogg, the charismatic rogue, is also looking into Mania’s location, as he feels somehow responsible for his expulsion from Nibenay.

SAR-SAVOS
This Pyreen has left his native lands to watch Mania. Having little contact with the outside world, he finds Mania an overwhelming curiosity and shadows him everywhere. He often appears as a black bird. He knows that if Mania turns to his dark side, he will need to kill him. He has accepted this.

BANE
It appears he is Mania’s natural father. He is the Sorcerer-King of Tesh, which he rules from below ground in secret hoping to escape the notice of his fellow Sorcerer-Kings. What he will do if or when he learns of his son’s existence is unclear.

THE PRISONER
Who she is still uncertain but she have influence over Bane and knows of Mania and his importance. She is locked deep in a dungeon below Tesh guarded by powerful wards made by magic and psionics. Somehow she is a key figure.

SUPPORTING CAST
Daina is a powerful and mysterious warrior with mastery over both magic and psionics. The pyreen fear her overly aggressive tactics may led the valley into a new war; a war none could ever survive.

Belinda is a bi-polar psychic warrior and a member of the Sentinels of Bodach. Her recent experience escaping certain death in Bodach has made her very close to Cosa and Mania.

Tangiers is a psionic bounty hunter hired by the templars of Nibenay to return Mania to the city-state to answer charges of treason and use of magic. She is very strict and follows the code on the contract very carefully. Mania has made her see a new outlook in life. What she will do is unclear to us, the readers, and to herself.

Glaze is a bard whom wants to write songs about the hero of Tyr valley. She was recently lost to the group and believed dead when kidnapped by Hej-kin. These base creatures want her musical talents for the king’s wedding. Wandering through their tunnels, she has discovered an area quite alien to her and the Hej-kin. They have made it clear not to go there but she still sneaks in as she can to explore.

Dessantee is a cleric of Silt looking for ultimate power. He used Mania and Cosa to close in on this power. When last seen, he was joining a Wraith to help each other. If he and the wraith will ever enter Mania or Cosa’s life again is unclear.

A Succubus from the Nibenay portal has learned of Mania’s existence and seeks to use this knowledge for power by locating Bane whom believes his son to be dead. What this can lead knows no limitations.

Welcome to UNDER A DARKSUN: PART II, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it.
 
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megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 127
“The Silt Mistress”

It has been two days now. Two long and boring days.

South of Samarah Mania and his two friends and co-adventurers, Cosa and Belinda happened onto a lone dock for a silt skimmer. They camped there to rest and discuss the next steps of travel required to reach Balic. Shortly after dark fell, they heard a bell and later a whistle of sorts. Checking it out, a small silt skimmer had docked at the old rock and mortar point. An old but friendly enough ½ elf greeted them and said his name was Aldi. He was first-mate on the Silt Runner. For a small fee, he and the crew would take them within 5 miles of Balic.

Distrusting and uncertain, Mania was hesitant. The two girls (with bad sores from salt in their shoes) agreed readily. The one request was not to disturb the crew during daylight hours when the ship was the most exposed to Giant attacks. That was two days ago.

Mania, with a ½ grown in and scraggly beard leaned on the rails watching the stars in complete boredom. He was never one to just sit and be idle. He was also bothered by why they were headed towards Balic and later down the Estuary of the Forked Tongue. They were helping Belinda return to Logan’s village to return some of his equipment and belongings to his family. Since Balic was on the way, they were asked to stop at Balic to give a scroll to friend of Jenner there. Jenner was too closely tied to Korgunard to enter the city gates without alerting the Sorcerer-king. Something inside him said there was another reason.

It was not that he distrusted Korgunard and Jenner. Quite the opposite in truth. No, he just felt they knew something and was not telling him. They were testing him again. Mania could not help by to tense up at the thought of being a sorcerer-king’s son. It was not his fault and what did it really say about him anyway? Nothing.

Then something got his attention. Movement to the west away from shore. Hearing stories about creatures called Silt Horrors that could sink a runner quickly was unsettling. He scanned the grayish white silt that revealed no features in the moonlight. In fact, it looked like flat stone from where he stood. Nothing.

“A bit for your thoughts.”

Mania looks over his shoulder with a big smirk. “restless too?” Cosa leaned on the rail beside him. She was his lover and guide to perhaps learning more about his background. Her curly red hair was in need of trimming and covered much of her freckled face.

“Yeah. I needed some air. It is so strange with the strict rules of being below deck during the daytime. I understand the threat of giants but don’t they …oh by Nibenay’s shadow….

Mania turned to where she was looking. The large head of a giant was in the silt. It snorted as the fine layers of dry dust entered its nose. Being spotted it decided to stand up. The head and shoulders rose out of the silt. A sail mast held in a strong long arm rose next near him. The crew began to rush about. Aldi hurried to mania and Cosa and tried to direct them to the stairs leading below. Mania instead pulled out his magical weapons. Cosa quickly thought about magics stored in her memory waiting to burst free. She called for Belinda whose unique psionic abilities may be helpful against this dangerous giant in the silt.

The creature stopped then …quite suddenly. A look of fear grew on its face and it began to back pedal and nearly dropped the clubbing device. In fear he finally did trip over- raising a hellish silt cloud that burned Mania and Cosa’s eyes as it blew over them and the ship. Once the dust blew by the giant was no longer seen. The crew was already returning to work. All Mania and Cosa could do was stare and wonder.

On the third night, they reached the outer limits of Balic and the Sentinels of Bodach left the ship. It was a strange feeling leaving the ship. The air felt hotter and more arid than before. But yet- it felt correct. None could explain it.

They walked a ways then turned to wave Aldi and the ship a good luck and good bye wave but the ship was gone. As if it never existed. Mania closed his eyes, turned and started at a quick pace towards Balic. He didn’t want to know.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 128
“Sirus of Balic”

The tall and athletic man stood on his private balcony overlooking the Balic Bay. The heat of the day did not bother him at the least. His dark almost black hair lifted in the heat born air as he searched for his ship –The Hunting Spider. His eyes were dark and suggested great wisdom and determination. It also hinted at a great fiery passion for power. His name was commonly known as Sirus of Balic.

Sirus was no slave. In fact he owned dozens; male, female, human, elven dwarven and anything in-between. Sirus was no noble. He lacked the will to be completely obedient to the city’s ruler and his laws. Sirus was no templar or Patrician. He wanted to be able to see, hear and speak his mind. Sirus was a self made man. He owned several companies including Hunter. Hunter was a silt skimmer building company. He built silt skimmers for the governing city and for the rich trade companies. He also used these ships for his own uses and exploits. Any craft he built was considered to be the best. He built ships powered by sail, psionics and even a few specialized ones that worked by undead slaves. Sirus was a freeman. Sirus was a rich freeman.

Though he was not as rich as the top trade houses in Balic, he was rich enough to influence the entire city to better suit his needs and wants. He had many needs and even more wants.

His public perception was of a decadent freeman and artisan. Arrogant, cruel and even uncaring. Those close to him knew he was very passionate and caring –about anything that interested him that is. A rare few even knew what his true passion was. Fire. Sirus of Balic was an ambitious fire cleric as well.

Fire danced and flowed to him. It was magical in and of itself. Earth just sat there. Water burned away. Air was invisible and boring. Fire …now that was special. It gave warmth at night. It cooked foods. It fused metals and ichors together. But if angered –it could burn …it could burn and destroy in a joy filled rant of anger.

“My lord –young adventurer Jonz has returned and wishes to report to you.” Said Sirus’ servant. A runt of a dwarf with almost red skin named Bren bowed deeply.

“I have been expecting him. Have him enter.” Answers Sirus of Balic. He doesn’t turn to face the exiting dwarf nor turn as the ½ elf enters the room. His leather armor is dusty and poxed from combat. Deep scratches nearly cut through the armor in several places.

“My Lord –I have returned and with good news.” Says Jonz with his head bowed but the excitement still evident in his voice and tone,

“Well?” says Sirus impatiently.

“I have proof that the staff exists and is near here –near Balic’s islands. It is nearly within your grasp.”

Sirus of Balic turns slowly. A light of evil and power in his eyes. “Where EXACTLY?”

Jonz swallows hard. It was never easy to speak to his father. Never.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 129
“Welcoming To Balic”

The three sentinels lay on a sand and pebble dune under a cloth. They were spying on a caravan encampment. The worst kind to Mania. It was a slavery caravan. Several guards sat around within a circle with little care or fear of ambush. They could almost see the city walls from where they were. No one would interfere except maybe some Veiled Alliance members but why would they be outside of the city.

The guards were playing a game of dice for ceramics. They drank salty mineral water while the slaves enjoyed the mere rest from the day’s heat; the heat that would quickly and mercilessly rise again to reach over 140 F. The three adventurers’ knew that soon they would pick up and enter the city. They were only waiting for the gates to open. The time to act was now.

The three of them separated and circled around the caravan. Belinda was to free the slaves while Mania and Cosa kept the guards busy. A nice and simple plan which could not fail. Or could it?

The first guard quickly falls to a magic missile while Mania charges from behind the action. He strikes with several rapid strikes and topples another guard. The remaining four guards cry out and go to pull out their weapons even as Mania prepares to strike another down and Cosa begins to dance her fingers and will her stored magic to strike at another guard. Suddenly Cosa freezes up in mid casting and Mania stops in concern and suddenly has three angry guards attack him and pummel him. Belinda meanwhile finds the lock is a bit more of a challenge for her that previously believed. She tries to strike it but discovers it is psionically shielded against physical blows. Her hand has gone numb as the entire force of her weapons strike is redirected to her hand. With a great yelp of pain she backs off from the trailer. What she sees amazes her. Three guards hold up the bloodied Mania. His head is violently bouncing from side to side as an invisible hand or force seems to be striking him. Ducking below the bottom of the caravan cart she sees Cosa standing like a statue. Frozen by clerical magic, perhaps a Hold spell.

Belinda has a terrible choice to suddenly make- Fight and likely be defeated also or run away to be free.

When the guards come to the slave caravan they find no one there. They unlock the door and place a bloodied Mania inside and Cosa’s body is tied and gagged and place in a separate caravan cart.

A previously unseen man steps out of the caravan cart. His hair has been died red and wears a white toga with a token necklace. A fire within a circle is on its face. He smiles then turns the token over to show a 3-column temple within a circle. Looking towards Balic’s gates, he says, “Close up the camp. It is time to enter Balic.”
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 130
“Belinda in Balic”

Unknown to the caravan or its slavers, Belinda took a ride on the under carriage of the slave wagon. More people were added just as they started up. She believed it to be the two guards downed in combat. Their reward for failing is slavery.

As she came into the last section of roadway, she carefully slipped off and hides in the shrubs and tents near the road. “Borrowing clothes she found hanging, she pulled back her ecto skin and put on the stolen clothes. She left a few Ceramics behind for the trouble before taking a deep breath to steady her nerves then walked onto the road. She was only about three carts away from the slavers. The cart that held Cosa was currently at the gates. The man with the red died hair was both irate and trying to remain calm. He was being bullied for more money this time than usual by the gate templars. The templars wore togas much like him but also had decorative shawls over their shoulders that marked rank and department within the templerate.

The fee agreed on as the price continued to rise, the two caravan wagons went in. The next caravan she pretended to belong to. She avoided any direct eye contact with the templar, which placed her on the side of the two ½ giant guards. Normally slow in wits, one ½ giant took note of her bag and looked at her sternly. She allowed her ill fitted vest and shirt to open and flashed the ½ giant a breast by “accident”. Embarrassed, the ½ Giant quickly looks away. The other ½ Giant notes this curious action and looks first at his fellow guard then where he was looking. No one is there.

Inside the city walls now with the caravan, Belinda quietly slips away from the caravan to find the slavers. She spots the slaves, who are now in a highly guarded area with human, mul and ½ Giant guards. Several templars and wary guards are there also. She has little choice but to ignore them for now and concentrate on Cosa. Her wagon is missing.

Looking back at Mania’s wagon, she sees him being pulled off the wagon by two muls. When he kicks in rebellion, one mul drives a knee into his stomach then headbutts his turned down head. Now stunned or unconscience they drag him by his arms into a building. She tried to note where he is within the building but quickly loses track of him and his tormentors.

Cosa is missing, somewhere within the city and Mania is in a heavily guarded slave building. Great. At least this city is very clean and pleasant to look at. Belinda disappears into the crowd again.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wandering around the city she finds several plays have begun. These plays are much more finished and eloquent than the ones she has seen in Salt View. There even poets reciting poems and narratives. One catches her attention. She hears the words of Defiler and Preserver. In most cities, the very utterance of these two words in the same sentence brought on the malice of the city templars. Sitting down near what was once a water filled fountain she listens to the rest of the poem being recited by two ½ elves. The poem speaks of the rise of magic, good and bad, during the wars to end all wars. She is speechless to think about this. The forbidden knowledge of world history being spoken of in a poem in the late morning in public …within a city-state ruled by a Sorcerer-King!

Her astonishment ends as a templar and two humans wearing padded armor and a strange shaped helmet that remains her of coarse giant hair walk nearby. The volume decreases by the poets continue with their works. The Templars glare but do little otherwise. All eyes follow their backs as they leave. The volume increases and even seems louder than before. Truly, Balic is an amazing place to live.

However, her thoughts return to the missing Cosa and the enslaved Mania and her hatred for cities, the templars and their rulers return. She gets up and storms off to see if she can find help at a local tavern where talk is cheap and information is abundant.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 131
“The Trouble With Redheads”

Cosa cursed herself for not suspecting there may be a psion or a cleric within the guards. There often is just for the very reason she was there. Escaped slaves or meddlers trying to aid slaves to escape. She had felt her will to move disappear first then as she tried, she felt held in place. The worse of it was to watch what happened to Mania next. He was over whelmed and beaten into submission and all she could do is watch …and cry.

This man understood her talents with magic well enough also. She was gagged so not to be able to speak the words and tied and bound. This included a pair of mage gloves. These ceramic/leather gloves were especially made to limit the movement of the fingers. She had no doubt this person had provisions to prevent psionics also. He was a thinking man. She could see it in his eyes. His poorly died hair was strange looking on him but seemed to fit him well enough. The pendant he wore suggested a fire cleric which was dangerous at best. Fire clerics were known to burn down buildings or dry brush on a simple whim.

She had no idea where she was. She heard voices. She believed it to be guards- perhaps the Templar guards of Balic. The sound of the wheels of the cart suggested she was on loosely fitted stone instead of sand and earth. Voices. So many voices. She could not understand any of it. Everything was muffled from being hidden in a box within a cart. She heard what sounded like a debate. She heard music and she heard voices of people bartering. She heard the sound of a Thri-kreen speaking. Then nothing.

The red dyed man said something but she did not catch all of it. Something about “home” and “virus of Balic”. The cart slowed down then she felt it drop down onto a ramp. The air slowly became cooler. The sounds of animals were present. The light of the crimson sun was weakened then went away.

She was underground.

The cart stopped and shook as the riders got out. “Welcome home. Welcome to your new home lil’ redhead. I’m sure Sirus will be eager to meet you.” The chuckle the red dyed man made reminded her of breaking stones from extreme heat.

“Ashe Sot…bring the prize to the inspection room. Be careful. She is a mage and a sneaky one at that. Do not harm her. As you can see- Sirus will take special interest in her.”

She hears him walk away then smells something …dead. Dead and burnt. Suddenly her box is yanked up and thumps on the floor jolting her. Three blackened and burnt fingers pry open the lid. The smell of the bodies before her disgusts her. They are covered in scraps of cloth with a full head mask complete with dyed red hair. The worst of it, the bodies smell burnt and even dead. Once the one grabs her arms there is no doubt that these creatures are undead and died by means of burning. A sick fear gripped her as she came to understand she was in the possession of a fire cleric whom could burn a person to death then reanimate them as servants. This same person seemed to have a reason to want her for a special reason. By the four winds of Dragon’s Peak- the red hair. She was a natural red head. Everyone there was dyed red. Could she be taken just because she has red hair?!?

The corpses lead through a few corridors in the dimly lit tunnels until they reach a room that is pristine. There is post with chains and cuffs but otherwise, there are red soft carpets, a reddish orange covered couch and a mirror with obsidian carved flames. Several burning pans with coal and oils give off a strange scent of minerals and perfumes. She is shackled to the post. The two are careful not to remove her mage gloves and not to step off of a cloth that led into the room. More articles of clothing are removed leaving her with only her bottoms on. Strangely enough, she is not cold. The two burnt zombies retreat and roll the cloth back to the doorway. She guesses this was done to avoid ashes or burnt flesh from getting into the expensive carpet.

She is here for maybe twenty minutes before anyone comes. A woman, with natural red hair, wearing an orange and yellow robe enters the room. She eyes Cosa carefully then gives a sharp frown. With heated water, she washes Cosa and applies scented spices and perfumes before leaving. Cosa feels extremely vulnible now and violated. She wishes Mania was here.

Another twenty minutes later a new person arrives. A tall fit man. His hair was black as a richly fueled fire would burn afgari wood. His quiet and stillness spoke of his nearly uncontrolled energies within him. He smiled faintly as her looked at her. Without saying a word, he circled her. He inspected her while maintaining a careful distance from her. He had been warned that she was a wanted preserver and thief from Nibenay whom could kill a man easily if let his guard down. Sirus of Balic was not one to let his guard down.

Smiling greatly now he snaps his fingers twice. The woman with the red hair enters the room. Cosa now sees the family resemblance between the two.

“She will do. Prepare her with the others.” And thus Cosa has met Sirus of Balic.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 132
“What is it with Mania and Gladiator Slaves?”

The air was cooler but stagnant. The crimson sun was setting into the Silt Sea and thus casting long shadows, even in his cell with two small 8inch square windows. The ceiling was stone, wood and mud. The ceiling and sections of the far wall was all he could see. It hurt too much to lift his head. There was a large bump with crusted blood on the back of his that made moving painful and disorienting. Rather than possibly hurt himself further, Mania decided he was content just to stay where he was and how he was. Then he sensed movement to his left. Without turning he tried to see that way. He saw something moving but was uncertain what. The human female had taken a terrible blow to the face that tore off much of her nose. The same blow removed about 3 ½ teeth. She was in obvious pain but said nothing and made no noise.

“That’s Jaedon. Trike did that to her. She likes to headbutt slaves in the face. Based on the blood, I figure she did you from behind. Gotta hurt. My name is Guesstook. Like you and her, I am a slave of the city of Balic.”

Mania slowly and painfully turns his head. Hair sticks and pulls from the blood on the stone floor causing him to grimace in discomfort. Now looking directly at Jaedon, he notes she was once a beautiful woman in her early twenties. Guesstook is also human. Based on his appearance, he is a mage or a book keeper. Mania is not impressed. Right now he would loss an arm wrestling match with Guesstook. That is how tired he feels.

With his head turned he saw there were several other captives within this room. These were either unconscience or worse. At least one had severe head trauma, possibly from the female mul outside named Trike. The door looked simple enough. Wood with bone reinforcements. He was confident he could break out if he wanted to – under normal conditions at least. Feeling as weak and ill as he did, he was uncertain if he could crawl out if the door was unlocked and opened. And what of Trike and her fellow guardsmen? No, he was stuck here for the moment.

Later that day, now nearly dark, Mania was awoken from a deep daze near-sleep condition by the sounds of a fight. It seemed to only last a few minutes then it was over. He returned to his sleepy world of discomfort and not so distant pain.

The next morning Mania awoke as Trike and several other guardsmen came in quickly and loudly. Trike kicked a corpse for leaning on the door. She seemed not to understand that the man was dead. Maybe she didn’t understand.

Mania looked a bit closer at her this time. He mistook her as a male mul before. The dwarf-human crossbreeds were well known for their muscular forms. This reduced body fat and with no hair often caused gender confusion with muls. He strongly wanted to say something smart to her but doubted he could survive the encounter so he just lay there. She looked and grunted at Jaedon and Mania. She then looked at Guesstook and laughed. It was not a pleasant sound. She made a “whisk” sound that resembled a whistle and motioned to Mania and the woman. Four other guards came in and collected them.

The light was dim in the hallway, or Mania’s vision was graying, either way, he was lost. He thought they went down a ramp and around a few corners. He was placed on a cold stone table. A giant-hair rope was wrapped around his wrists and his neck. Jaedon was like wise treated. Several men and women dressed in light colored robes walked in. They poked and prodded them. They checked the injuries and spoke harshly of Trike. The one held a token before her with some sort of official looking emblem on them. A columned temple or the such was displayed there.

“By the harsh, impartial and always correct judgement of our king, god and ruler of the Silt Sea, I ask for the power of healing this man’s injuries. His skull is fractured and his ribs bruised. I ask for fairness and to see him mended mind, body and need be soul.”

She continues onward with this speech but Mania isn’t listening. He is in too much pain to listen. He feels the ribs swell then bloat. Finally, they reduce to their normal size with little discoloration. His head is much worse. His cracked skull grows suddenly hot and burns his brain. An audible pop and crack can be heard as the bones of his head fuse together. He is dizzy from pain when his skin re-adheres to his newly repaired skull. Only the hardened blood and matted hair show any signs of his serious injury. Instinctually he pulls at his wrists to free his throat of the binds but finds the guardsmen were prepared for this. With little to no leverage all he can do is gag and sputter as the templar leans over him. In a whisper she hisses at him. “The Power of Andropinis can heal. I have the power to destroy. Keep that in mind slave.”

It is only now that she drags a bone slicing ring along his stomach cutting him that he realizes he is wearing a mere rag for clothes. A red line with drops of crimson here and there prove she is prepared to follow through with her threat.

“Bind him and ready him for the auction. He looks able for any use a man, woman or patrician may have for him.” she replies with a leering and cruel smile. She moves over to Jaedon as three guardsmen bring Mania out of the room. Three strong, experienced and mean hearted men lead him to a new cell.

He is tied to a pole before being left alone. Once alone all he can think is how often he has been in this very position. How he hates slavery!
 

megamania

Community Supporter
Looking to update soon. On top of the THREE Story Hours I do here, I have two jobs, family and other sorted things to do. I have not forgotten folks here- I just have bitten off more than I can chew as of late. :D
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 133
“The Evil of Artesies”

The bright sun burned his eyes. He was dragged out of his cell by several guards and then tied to a platform with stone pillars designed for securing tied people to it. Mania knew where he was. He was on the slavery auction block.

Within ten minutes there was a sizable audience. Several women, rich merchant daughters possibly, eyed Mania and his body. They teased him just for a reaction. The bidding began. Mania was to be the last one. He was the prize selection of the day. Lucky him.

A dark skinned man dressed in white robes with a dark blue cloth on his shoulder seemed to be buying many of the warrior –types. He kept looking at Mania. He was measuring Mania. He was calculating his worth vs use.

The bidding began for him. The two merchant daughters opened the bid with excited giggles. A stone mason, looking for a strong back also started to bid but was out bid easily by the two young women. Just when everyone thought it was over, the dark-skinned man made a bid. The girls raised their bid. And this continued for a few rounds. Finally the man made a sharp movement with his hand. Two guards, hidden in the crowd, carefully walked over to the two girls as the bidding continued. The one man whispered in the girls ears. They looked angered then while turning, saw the dark skinned man’s face. The two girls whom were pale and looking to leave now laid no more bids.

Mania found himself, along with Jaedon and three others brought to a smelly courtyard. Within the courtyard were five holes in the ground. The center hole was large and had seating going down it. At the bottom was an arena about thirty feet across. The four other holes were used for holding pens. Mania was brought to the center area. The others were brought to a hole for “storage”. In the center arena were four other men. Each held a club.

The dark skinned man sat in the shade with no hint of emotion. He had a pitcher of wine he had poured for him by a beautiful woman wearing only enough clothes to hide details of her anatomy. Mania was disgusted and hated this man immediately.

One of the guards that had scared off the two young girls entered the arena. He walked directly to Mania and glared into his eyes. “You will fight to the death or die slave.”

“no” whispers Mania staring at the man, not the guard.

Suddenly Mania’s mind is filled with thoughts of terror and horror. Again he hears the guard’s statement. “Fight or die”

The man steps away leaving Mania surrounded by four armed men. Each knows the rules. There are none. Either this stranger dies or they each do.

The guard stands next to the dark skinned man. The man nods and the four men rush Mania at once.

Mania leaps and tumbles backward nearly causing the four would-be killers to strike each other.

The eyebrows rise sharply in surprise and amusement by the dark skinned man. Never taking his eyes off of Mania and the fighters, he sips his wine and watches.

One man rushes Mania on his own. Mania steps into his swing and punches the man solidly in the face. The squishy crack of a shattered nose is heard by all. The man stumbles and falls to a knee. Blood freely pours from his shattered nose.

“I don’t want to fight you” mania yells as he moves to the side to avoid being cornered. A man swings and misses. His club strikes the ground near Mania’s feet. Mania steps under the club then stomps onto the handle of the club. Like a powerful lever, the head of the club shoots up and strikes the attackers head. The man drops the club and staggers about on his hands and knees, completely dazed and helpless. Mania ignores him and moves further to his left trying to outdistance the other two.

Watching the two’s movements and attack methods, Mania waits until they charge then he leaps out and strikes each man with outreached arms. The strike only knocks the men down –hard. They are searching for their weapons even as Mania kicks them away.

“I don’t want to fight you. Stop. Together we can stop this. We can overwhelm the ….aaaaaarrrrgh!”

The man flicks two fingers while watching and the guard once more reaches into Mania’s mind. He is not gentle about it. The two men take advantage of the distraction and tackle him. Mania is forced onto the ground. Even as the other two stagger over to help kill him, Mania rolls over and throws a man …into the stone wall. He doesn’t get up. The other man resorts to biting Mania.

Mania thumbs the man’s eyes to get free. Blinking and cursing wildly, the fighter backs off. The two previous combatants are back …and armed.

Mania avoids the first swing but not the second one. The air escapes his lungs and refuses to return. Mania staggers and stumbles trying to keep out of range of the armed men, now totaling three.

Mania spits in the general direction of the two men outside of the ring. He lets his mind wander at the thought of beating the guard senseless then giving him to the men in the arena. The guard smiles. He obviously is still reading Mania’s mind.

The three men surround Mania and cut off his escape routes. He is forced to fight. He takes another strike to the shoulder causing his arm to go numb but only after doing a finger strike to the man’s throat. The man goes down clutching his crushed throat. Two men he was forced to kill.

He is struck again making him go down to a knee. From here he flattens a man with a powerful uppercut that shatters his jaw and teeth. Alive, but bloody, the man slumps into a heap before the dark skinned man.
The last man knows better than to back off. He pushes on the ill-positioned Mania. Mania blocks the clubs arch by striking the man’s arm. A faint crack can be heard. The man steps back. His arm is either dislocated or broken. He doesn’t care. He merely switches the club to the other arm.

He rushes Mania whom strikes him and snaps his neck. Mania returns to a kneeling position to catch his breath. After a few labored breaths, he stands up on shaky legs and defies the dark skinned man. “I ..will ..NOT ..kill for …your humor.”

The dark skinned man looks directly at the strange and able man before him and continues to smile. He wriggles his two fingers again and then makes a downward motion with them.

The only living man left, the one with a shattered jaw, suddenly arches his back and claws at his chest then simply dies.

Mania screams as he relives the last moments of his encounters within Bodach. Only, it is him that is killed ..not Logan.

The dark skinned man smiles a tight smile and watches and stares at the unconscience man before him. “He will make an excellent candidate for the games. He will represent me. He will represent Artesies.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 134
“The Arena of Balic”

Mania looked across the octagonal tiled surface of the arena. If he was supposed to be impressed he was not. He rubbed absent mindedly at the cuffs on his wrists as he watched two elves walk out onto the field. It was obvious these elves were exceptionally graceful and skillful.

“Watch. Watch and learn” he was told.

He watched and sighed deeply. He was just beginning to think about Cosa when a horn sounded and the two elves began to run …no… hop across the field. It was strange. Then he saw why these veterans of this arena moved this way. Each tile was in truth the top of a large five-foot column that through either magic or psionics moved up and down. There was no sense of reason to the pillars. Some rose or fell slowly. Others rapidly. Some changed direction within a few feet and others rose as much as fifteen feet into the air.

“You have got to be kidding me! You can’t fight on that!” says Mania in shocked awe.

“You can and you will. It is the will our king. It is the will of your owner.”

Owner.

How Mania hated slavery …especially when he was a slave himself. It was the first time and may not be the last time. He was going to get his freedom back however. That was certain. Psionics or not- he was going to escape.

A horn blew again and the pillars slowly receded until they were at the original level. The elves bowed and waved for Mania and the other neo-gladiators to join them. Mania knew what would happen. He and the others were to be beaten and broken by the elves. It would teach them survival. It would teach him how to survive on this unusual arena and how to survive fighting.
“In the beginning, we will go easy on you. We will have no weapons. You will have the clubs. You must collect the flag on the far wall and return to this point.” The elf spits onto a tile. It sizzles and dries up within three seconds.

Mania looks at the others. Most of them would not live long in a standard arena. The mul may in a fair fight but he lacked the grace and wit this arena would require. He knew that for these others to survive, he had to retrieve the flag and quickly.

The two elves went to the center and stood several tiles apart. Mania, the Mul and three other humans lined the wall near the slave entrance. The horn blared and the columns began to rise and fall.

The Movement was surprisingly smooth. Mania rode the column for a few moments. The mul snarled then screamed as he was catapulted by a quickly rising column and he bounced several times on the landing afterwards. The others dropped to their knees and held on. One wetted himself in fear.

The elves began to laugh. They were slowly stepping towards them. They were stepping from one block to another as it rose or fell before them. Sometimes to Mania they were lost from sight then towered above everyone.

Mania began the same movement. He found the movements rough on his knees and back when he stepped from a slow to a fast block. He wanted so much to fight the elves at this point. A rage was growing but he kept it in check. This arena was the greatest adversary ..not the elves.

Mania had moved about 12 blocks into the field before one elf caught him completely off guard. The elf kicked at his legs and successfully tripped him. Mania fell hard but remained on the block. The elf looked down and went to stomp on him. Mania used a rapidly rising column to brace himself as he allowed it to yank him up and he then kicked off it smashing into the rock hard elf. Rock hard yes. Elf no. He missed and was beaten rapidly to his knees. Spitting blood, Mania grabbed his foot and held on.

“What are you?!? A dog in heat! Get off of me dog!” snarls the elf in amusement. He begins to kick at Mania with his free foot as he had hoped. Once the elf was on one foot he tore at the ankle causing the elf to fall back into a falling away column space. The sick thud was good to Mania’s ears. The snarling string of elven curses soured his moment. He made for the flag.

He heard several yells and screams before the elf caught up with him again. The elf was still haunty and superior to him but kept wary and on the defensive. The elf stared at Mania and suddenly the column was very wet then slippery. Psionics! The elf was using psionics to make the column slippery.

Mania lasted all of 18 seconds once he fell back and had the wind knocked from his lungs failing onto a rising column.

Mania awoke later in his cell. His wounds and injuries were treated but not cured. Pain tolerance would also be part of the tests he would endear. Mania was quickly coming to hate arenas as much as slavery in general.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
Fee Fi said:
Mega it has been awhile since we have heard from you so from your SH fans lets get to it and update.
Sorry

Between the two jobs, family, issues with the wife, new game group (Eberron) and life in general I was distracted.
 

Greg Dickens

Villager
No problem those are understandable issues. I know from other threads that writers sometime need encouragement to go on. Just making sure you understand that I think you have great style and depth to your writing and wanted you to keep entertaining all of us that take the time to read.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 135
“After the Burning”

She ached from head to toe. She could still smell the burnt embers in her hair. But she was alive. She survived the test.

She and two other young women with light colored hair were tied to a post a few nights before. The two women screamed and cried endlessly. Cosa merely waited for the enemy to expose himself again and hopefully a weakness to exploit.

They were underground in a warm room that smelled of sulfur and ash. She was uncertain if she was still in Balic or a town nearby. The burnt undead man (?) came in. The two women cried again and wailed in terror. Cosa was becoming angry with the women more than this “Sirus”. They needed to grow up was all she could think of. The creature had a jug of foul smelling oil and poured it on each of the three women. He hesitated before each as if to study them. Cosa tried to kick at him but found her legs were tied too well to kick with. Then came the woman again she had seen before. She had a bowl with orange colored power on it. She would pick up a handful and blow it onto each woman in turn while chanting something. Cosa knew it dealt with magic but could not determine what kind.

Then came seven robed persons. They walked in silently and created a circle around the women. From under their folds of their robes they held out flasks and poured them onto the floors. Unnoticed until then, there were grooves cut into the floor that brought the fluid to the base of the three women. Cosa could smell the magic and burning smell of it. Fear was finally rising in her chest. One woman passed out as the next and final person walked in – Sirus.

He was chanting and almost dancing in small steps and short hopes and bounds. Cosa had never seen anything like it before. He chanted then began to pour oil onto himself. Then tossed a bit of powder into the air that landed on him. Then he poured fluid onto his feet. With each step the chanting the others gave rose. It began, as an unheard whisper was becoming very loud.

Cosa felt the heat rise within her now. Something was happening. Something powerful and frightening. Then a torch was thrown onto the fluid and flames chased down the three women and Sirus. His laughter was drowned out by the screams from Cosa and the lone awake woman. Maniacal looks were on the cultist faces. Flames began to consume the two women.

Sirus merely smiled. Smiled and watched as Cosa seemed to not be harmed. She was in fact beginning to calm down.

Her mind raced and raced. She had heard of these kinds of tests. Elemental followers, the clerics, sometimes went through tests like these. To survive met one was destined to become a cleric of the element being used.

Her last thought was- “I am a preserver..a mage. Not a cleric.”

Now, two days have since passed and she wonders. Was she to become a cleric of fire? Why? She had no special feelings or belief for the element. Why would she be chosen?

The events of the last few days were traumatic.


“Where are you Mania? Belinda?” she sobs as she falls asleep again.
 

megamania

Community Supporter
UNDER A DARKSUN
SEGMENT 136
“Belinda’s Activities in the Past Few Days”

Her first thought was to force her way into the holding area where Mania was. However, there were many guards and one a talented Mindbender. Deciding this course of action would get her captured, Belinda withdrew into the shadows.

She slept in the silt-encrusted allies away from the main city where patrols were regularly done. The last thing she needed was for the Templars and their guards to hound her.

She did some investigation the next day and learned that the right hand man of a rich merchant may have taken Cosa. The merchant’s name was Sirus. She got the sense he was a dangerous and powerful man. It seemed they attracted these types. How she sometimes hated the city and its people.

Strangely enough, it turned out this Sirus had connections with Mania’s gladiatorial group also. It was so convenient that she wondered if a Sorcerer King was not involved. One enemy to battle at two separate fronts.

She needed help.


She visited the Crusted Shell on the third day. This place was nothing impressive but it had a powerful secret. The Veiled Alliance had contacts here. Contacts she knew of.

She went in and saw no one she knew. Cassius was not here. He had once come to the Sentinels looking for help to stop the local giants from attacking the farms. There was no Klijarrii. She, if one could call her that, was a survivor of the Pristine Tower Curse. Once a ½ elf, she was now eight feet tall and had thick chitin armor and an acidic spittle. She had hoped for a cure. There is none for the curse of Pristine Tower.
There wasn’t even Bogar. Bogar was a dwarven barbarian whom wanted help saving his tribe from slavers. The Sentinels did save his family and many tribe members. He came here sometimes as a guide.

After a few hours her mind felt a gentle knock. Due to its gentleness she listened. “We can not talk here. Night fall, the Silt Siren.”

She had no idea who contacted her and where the or what the Silt Siren was. It took her another three hours to learn it was a silt skimmer belonging to a certain Froam Hiltgrip. He was a dwarven captain of a silt skimmer that took the rich and powerful to the islands nearby. The islands were a safe place to go and mages paid a hefty fee guarded it from giants.

As it turned out, a few of these mages were of the Veiled Alliance. There was hope once more.


Using her psionic abilities of stealth, she made her way to the skimmer. Froam was waiting for her patiently on the bow. She got closer then realized what was happening. She caught the glimpse of a few city guards. It was a trap to ensnare persons seeking out the Alliance!

She turned and ran but found a ½ giant in the walkway already. Missing teeth replaced with mica winked at her in the light of the two moons.

“Young lady- you have made a great mistake looking for Sirus and the Veiled Alliance. A potentially fatal mistake.”

Turning to face the new foe, Belinda saw a man dressed in a light colored robe that blended in with the silt. She prepared for the worse.
 

Greg Dickens

Villager
Ok this is kinda long but I thought it might help and no I didn't come up with these just found it on the net.

Writer's Block?
The question of writer's block comes up every time I teach a creative writing class, so I'm going to answer it for once and for all.

If you ever get writer's block, do what I do. Have sex.

Or go watch a movie. Or read a book. Or talk with a friend. Do something. Eat a pizza. Do anything. Just don't worry about writer's block. It goes away eventually, especially since it does not exist in the first place.

Here's the deal. If I commissioned you to write a play about a group of friends united by their love of fried conch, you'd go out and do it because, one, it's a job, and, two, you can write. Piece of cake. Your biggest problem would be doing the research on conch, but the actual writing would be a cinch.

On the other hand, if I commissioned you to go sit down and write a great play and I gave you no further directions, you'd sit on your butt and ponder suicide.

That sitting on your butt and pondering self immolation is what the layman calls writer's block. What do I write? What the heck do I write? My god, I have nothing to write about. My god, nothing is coming out of me. I'm blocked.

No you're not blocked.

Are you deaf? Can you not hear what your inner writer is really saying? I HAVE nothing to write about. Again, there is no such thing as writer's block, but there is such a thing as no assignment.

Writing is a job. Sometimes you have a boss. Sometimes you're self-employed. Either way, you've got lots of work to do. The writer with the boss (journalist, script doctor, ad person, jinglist, jingoist) never has writer's block. Heck, the writer with the boss has too much writing to do.

The self-employed writer, on the other hand, is her own boss, and now I think you see the problem. The self-employed writer has to do TWO jobs: write AND come up with the assignments. When she can't find an assignment, she says she has writer's block. The big lie. That's like a teacher saying he has teacher's block because it's summer and he can't find any kids to teach.

Follow the pen, my brothers and sisters. Follow the pen.

What the self-employed writer has to do, when he can't find an assignment is pick up the pen and write. Just write. It's your job, buddy. So write. Write anything.

"I can't find anything to write about. There is absolutely nothing to write about. The only interesting thing is that story about the dog and the necktie I was putting off to work on over the summer. Actually, that story is pretty good. It kind of reminds me of the way I used to write when . . . ."

And voila! Writer's block is gone, because it never existed.

The other thing you have to remember is that as a self-employed writer, you are not restricted to writing plays--you can write anything. So start following the pen, and maybe it will become an essay, a poem, a page in the journal, some crappy ten pages of ramblings about a mutt and a necktie, a play, a great play, whatever. It doesn't matter because you are your own boss, and thus, the only standard you set for yourself is that you find TRUTH in everything you write.

So . . . if you want to write more and feel less of that thing called writer's block that we both agree does not exist, then you must go out and get yourself a job as a writer (see list above in paragraph 7).

Or give yourself more structure as a
self-employed writer. "I am going to write two pages of dialogue in my new play every day for a month. Then I am going to write a page of synopsis of a future project every night." Then follow your rules. This rigor will work to trick the mind into thinking that you are answering to some boss who requires two pages of this or that each day or she will withhold your paycheck. There are other techniques like that, which you can find in every beginning creative writing textbook.

But, come on, it's all smoke and mirrors, really. You don't need that stuff. Structure. Groannn. Yuck. That's why you're self-employed in the first place! You hate structure. You want the freedom of writing only when it is fresh and original and novel . . . I think the word I'm searching for here is "inspired." You want the freedom to write only when you're inspired. INSPIRATION is your boss. INSPIRATION tells you what assignments to work on.

But sometimes when you sit around waiting for inspiration, you kinda feel like nothing will ever come. You kinda feel like you have writer's block. Here we go again.

Your problem is you want to have your cake and eat it, too. You want brilliant inspiration to flow from your pen, but you're too lazy to treat writing like a job and do it every day so that you get better at it and better at it until every time you pick up your pen the muses obey YOUR commands.

You want to spend months away from writing while you PLAY AT being a writer, in your smoking jacket, at those chic gatherings, where all the cool writers who, like you, have mastered the "writer's look" hang out--and then, finally, when all the parties have ended, you, with your writing muscles flabby from disuse, expect to just sit down and demand brilliance to flow.

Then when, surprise, surprise, it does not come, you claim writer's block.

That's not the way it's done, my brothers and sisters. If you want to be a writer, you'd better pick up that pen.

Every day.

And enjoy the pizza

--Preston L. Allen,
Author of
Bounce
Churchboys and Other Sinners
Hoochie Mama
Come With Me Sheba
 

megamania

Community Supporter
wow

didn't see that coming.

I hope set aside some time soon (holiday break) to write Darksun and finish writing Strikeforce. Its not as much writer's block as an inspiration thing. I love Darksun but I have recently gotten into Eberron and my creative jiuces seem to be flowing into that lately.

Throw in the 65 hour work weeks, family and so on and so on.

Thankyou for the time you used to help me. I do apprteciate it.

Andrew aka megamania
 

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