Hollow Waltz: 9) Remnant of Vesth

•January 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment

“Do you think he’ll live, Brennen?” Her light auburn curls accentuated the childish roundness of her face.

“…”

“Brennen! I said: ‘do you think he’ll live, Brennen’?”

“Sometimes, Selene, silence is a virtue.” Brennen pushed forward his small chest, boy hands upon his boy body. His black hair seemed to have been cut shorter on one side, giving his face a disorganized look as the hair fell.

“Brennen? He looks really hurt,” she whimpered.

“After giving him what Father gave us, he’ll only have emotional pain. Like Father says, Selene.” The boy reached into his leather pouch across his hip, drawing out a small, clear vial. As he drew near the crumpled, purpled figure on the ground, his steps turned into semi-shuffles, and slowed.

“Oh, um…” He turned his head to see Selene’s bright blue eyes wide and nodding. His own eyes grimaced and turned back to the boy on the ground.

“B-boy? B-boy! I have…um…something to help you.” The figure moaned slightly and breathed airily.

“Here, I have this for you. Just drink, if you can…there. It will help. Father told me.” Crouching over the purpled boy, Brennen got the full view he’d been afraid to see before. The boy’s nose was long – far too long to be human. Same with his fingers and toes. The purpling wasn’t from bruising. It couldn’t be. Not unless an entire body could be bruised its length over?

“Brennen, Father said that the purple would leave a bruise. Did you give him water to save the Draught of Life for yourself? Be honest.” She had pulled up her light-blue hood over her curls and put matching blue mittens over her hands. It did seem to be cooling off as the evening arrived.

“No Selene, honest-’’ The body shook as if in a seizure. Selene squeaked, mittens covering her mouth and the bottom part of her eyes. Brennen was still with his lips parted slightly, only a stillness of shallow breath escaping. He couldn’t seem to shift his eyes so he tested moving his hand, bringing the fingers around his dirk in case he needed (not paralyzed, good!), like Father had taught him. But the shaking stopped suddenly in the purpled boy. And just like Father had said when one drinks of the Draught of Life, the purpling left the boy’s body.

“See, Selene! I was honest!” He turned back to the crumbled figure. “B-boy? We are the children of the forest. I mean, um, there are more than just us two. Orphans of the war. And…we found you! So now you can be part of us! You’ll love Father.”

“Brennen! Give him some water and food.” Selene had rushed over during the boy’s de-purpling. “He’s clearly hungry and thirsty, you see, Brennen. Oh, and boy, what do you go by? I’m Selene.” She placed a furry mitten on the stout boy’s shoulder. “And this is Brennen.”

It took a moment for the boy’s eyes to show recognition of the questions directed toward him. He had shockingly black hair and fair skin, blue eyes not unlike Selene’s. He was older than the both of them, and human, though not yet of teenage years. “Selene and Brennen…”

“Yes, yes. And like Brennen said there are many children here like you that you’ll love.” She began to giggle, her mittens again covering her plump face.

“B-but we must know your name, boy. To tell the other children that Father has saved another orphan.”

“Yes, another orphan.”

Brennen’s eyebrows met briefly with a look of childish grief. “I…I didn’t mean that like that. It’s just what we call the children here. And…” He looked to the girl with widened eyes and lined brow. She nodded.

“He means that your parents might still be alive.” She ended with a plump smile, face flushed.

“You’re wise for a child, elf.”

The mittens remained, outlining her face, but the glee had left her eyes. Selene began to shuffle back, her small boots scraping stones along the dirt path.

The boy found his feet and stood above Brennen. “It’s fine for you to ask my name. Many have before you.” Brennen seemed stuck with his eyes again. And stuck with his body as well as he gazed far up towards the boy. “They’ve called me Remnant. Itoch. Yzarc…And now, Vesth. And I will meet this ‘Father’ of yours. He has betrayed me for the last time, young elves.”

Hollow Waltz: 8) The Promise of Dawn

•January 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

“It’s getting worse. The dreams at night. The body pains. The anxiety. I don’t think that I can control them much longer. Zalelim has already escaped. Some say that he’s dead. What of a world where the master of magic is dead yet magic continues on? What does that portend?”

“Easy now. We’ve been through this. Do you remember?”

“I do remember pieces. But the anxieties are still there.”

“All that matters is that your daughter is safe. She’s alive. Your kingdom is well. You know that your role with the Eternals is nearly at an end.”

Brizmir rested his head into his hands, his brown curls covering his fingertips as he slowly slid them into his hair. His fine purple cloak, the garb of nobles in Morgana, shuddered. If the white-haired man across the room noticed, he paid no heed.

“You should be congratulating yourself, Brizmir. You’ve gained one-third of the dwarven nation of Kel-Nagrand in income and land, if not in power. One fell stroke. Kleitengraas must surely want to keep Nightingale alive to pay such a price. How much more do you think he’d pay if Nightingale were to again fall into trouble?”

The only sound was that of shallow breathing. A slight stench was near the man but Shimron paid no mind.

“…I think that I should have let the Saintsmith have the dream band when I met him. I could’ve explained my plight…I think that the draught of life should also have been given over to him.” The sunken man straightened slightly. “I think that I shouldn’t have killed their Asuran friend.”

This time the sound was a slight sigh from the other end of the stone-floored room.

“You care too much about friendship. I care about freeing the slaves. And here you are bathing in your misery when much is required.”

Perhaps the misery was disorienting his senses, but the elf moved faster than Brizmir could have imagined. The sigh must have been one that well concealed the anger, Brizmir thought, for Shimron to hit him mercilessly hard across the temple. Dazed and tasting cold stone, lying on the floor next to the chair in which he had previously been sitting, the words of the “Saintsmith’s Shout” came back to him.

Know this my friend, for the time is surely here.

An evil rises to mask the land in fear.

A shadow of old that takes in violent strife,

Leaving you with nothing – not even your life.

            Mitus Pylytasa had given those words to him two days after the explosion of the lava cores in the city proper’s dungeons. That was the explosion that had killed Zodd. Brizmir had come back to grieve, at twilight. The chaos urges had become unbearable even by then. He couldn’t have helped it. How many times did he have to tell himself that the fault wasn’t his own? It wasn’t insanity, it was a will. Controlling him. Making him.

“I won’t ask you if you think that I like hitting you. Because when you’re an Eternal you’ll thank me for doing what it takes to keep you focused. We didn’t come this far for you to quit at drinking of the cup that you have chosen.”

You must resist for you have no other way.

By your righteous decree you’ll never astray.

Should this threat force you to the end of your rope,

Do not despair yet, friend, for there is still hope.

            “So long as you let my daughter live and don’t interfere with her – the chaos urges are more powerful than you’d think – then I will follow through. They make us do things. See things.”

Shimron took the seat formerly supporting the lord regent of Morgana. Brizmir could see his golden eyes looking down on him. Shimron’s fingers struck the side of the chair in lazy beats. Brizmir found his way to his knees when Shimron finally spoke.

“I met Rayl Pylytasa. Before he was dead, and after. They somehow found my waterfall-home, outside of Eboncrest. Why you allowed Renrys the pleasure of restoring him his life and humanity…you know they are the greatest threat to your ascension. Stop yourself from thinking of him as an ally.”

Color was returning to Shimron’s hair. Brizmir could see it from this angle. The light from the fireplace caught it enough to shimmer gold. Maybe he had found the regenerative spells of Sellen and Ranroth. Shimron left his seat and offered his hand.

“By the way Shimron.” The brown curls tossed about his ears and eyes as he lifted himself upright with the help of the outstretched hand. His voice still wasn’t strong after the last dose of the draught of life: nor were his legs. He collapsed again into the chair. “Who do you think will take Zalelim’s position in ‘The Dream’?”

“As an Eternal?” The elf gently lifted his left hand to his cheek, allowing his face to rest in the palm. “My sources say Sweet J.P., that human who’s been made famous for running. The one trained by the Twilight, Fantastic, I hear. Brizmir, he will be easy for you to ‘Doom,’ don’t fear. The spells are nearly ready.”

Despite the encouraging words, the anxieties remained. They took Brizmir again to the past. It was Rayl himself, the Saintsmith who had quoted to Brizmir, after surviving the explosion, the last lines of the poem. Standing among the ashes, singed yet unburnt, he said:

A flare pierces through the covering of night!

Darkness trembles as it spots the blazing light!

The heavenly steel rings forth a coming song!

May there forever shine the Promise of Dawn!

Brizmir hadn’t understood their origin until Rayl’s daughter delivered him the lines of the poem two days later. Why would Mitus do that to the man that tried to kill her father, unless Rayl could be trusted as an ally…

That was the last he’d seen of Rayl. Even Shimron, master of information, couldn’t find him. Dominik, Rayl, Azazel, Teczera, Zodd, Guy…

“Very good, Shimron. Lest you forget, so long as Beatrik is alive and well, I shall attain unto my place as an Eternal. And you will have your reward.”

He thought he could see the gold grow more in that white hair as Shimron smiled. Mercy forbid that Brizmir ever met the infamous Ranroth, though if his mind were sharper just now, he’d say from Shimron’s changing looks that he just had.

Hollow Waltz 7) The Lords of Kel-Nagrand

•January 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Glory.

That had been the word she’d spoken at his coronation before a thousand people. The applause over the prophetic word caused the stone hall to reverberate, finally floating above the rich pool at the center of Kel-Nagrand, through the opening in the cavern’s ceiling to the sky’s gray clouds. It wasn’t the lack of sunrays reaching the sacred “King’s Pool” that made the day gloomy. It was that hollow applause over that hollow word.

Marcelle had laughed when Bastielle the Seraf had pointed out the bad luck of dark clouds on the day of a coronation. The elf was a newcomer to Kel-Nagrand and had frivolous elf notions besides. No omens or “bad luck” symbols had ever bothered mountain dwarves. But the words of the prophet Freya did. She had said the same words at the coronation of king Bloomen. The only glorious moment of the former dwarf’s 139year reign had been the manner of his death and loss of his kingdom. It was glorious indeed that Kleitengraas Stonebolt had taken the throne from the failure of a king.

The very same word. Glory.

If the tales of the tombs were true, it was glorious what Xenos Nightingale had done to Ctenmiir Stonebolt, offering a true and divine death. The immortal was so no longer, it seemed. Or perhaps it was glorious when Heinrick slew the bearded dragon, deep in the recesses of the dungeon. Though there were whispers that the man (or his summon) ended the existence of a dozen divine elementals as well. Was it glorious when Rowan embraced the Lord who had raised him as a son only to end the embrace with Fenra’s blood covering them both? When Kalfossen was left in the tombs for dead by his comrades in arms after having gone missing? When Lord Durath deserted during the attack on Kel-Nagrand and his ace, Du’Frain, was slain by king Bloomen’s men?

Yet the glory surely rests now in the able hands of Kleitengraas, who benefits from all men’s death and sacrifices of the last 3days. Perhaps this time the word ‘glory’ takes on a different form. But still…

            Marcelle unclasped his cloak and left it on the high back of the oaken chair facing the tower’s window. He let his hand gently slide over the grayish oaken round table whereupon his plans to conquer Eboncrest rested on faded parchment, though his eyes never left the red hue through the storm clouds outside.

King Bloomen’s reign began in glory as a young boy who ascended to kingship. It ended in a glorious bloodbath.

The parchment was lightly worn throughout, and torn in places. The color had long grown dull and the ink gray. The plans revealed in detail the situation of the barony of Eboncrest in the hands of Bloodmoor of Morgana and the ghost-appearances of Thangoruin Ainamarth. Marcelle’s hands traced the map and its detailed strategies while water dropped softly on his face through the open window. The red from the fires of the forge were increasing with each billow and explosion of lava cores below. There was something not right about Kletiengraas’ request. Marcelle had sworn himself to avenge the Eboncrest family as he had sworn to avenge the Stonebolts. But Nightingale wasn’t a member of the Eboncrest family. Was it glorious to Kleitengraas to support a man who had falsely claimed to be a member of the Eboncrest bloodline?

Is untruth glorious? Or is Kleitengraas to live the same lies as Bloomen?

Marcelle lowered his gaze to the parchment. “Myra…” A hand clenched as the young serving girl entered the foyer of her master, soft footsteps and long blonde hair. “Invite Xenos to dinner. We must make arrangements for his and his Lord’s triumphant return home. We are to believe that this is glorious. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Lord Marcelle.” Blonde curls dipped briefly. Her blue eyes softly glistened as she pulled a white hood trimmed in blue and gold over herself. “I shall then withhold my blade for a while.”

Marcelle shifted to see her, his right eyebrow raised almost exaggeratedly. Myra herself turned half away and dropped her head. As she raised her eyes again to shyly meet Marcelle’s, a slight smile showed at the corner of his mouth. “But you musn’t tease me so in the future. You know how exciting this intrigue is to me. Next time you owe me double.”

Glory. The things a king doesn’t know…that he has a woman doing all of his killing.

When she had left the doorway Marcelle rolled up his parchment and pulled it away from the dampening table. “The things I do for your glory Kleitengraas. I hope that aiding this imposter is more glorious to you, as you say, than having Myra kill him. Let us see.”

Hollow Waltz 6) Kleitengraas Stonebolt

•January 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

A curved smile played on his face, raising the right corner so slightly. Strence and the Baron from the ancient line had done well to bring him such a wealth merchant. He had already been questioned. A white cloth of wool covered his eyes, yet he had been treated gently. A few bruises spotted his bearded cheeks but from the way he sat, Kleitengraas knew the man was unhurt. He still had his shoulders back and no droop to his chin.

“I hear that you spoke freely, for the most part. Do you hate your dwarven king so much as to betray his secrets?”

The man sat forward as much as the rope straps on his wrists that tied him to the chair would allow. He turned his head, ear towards the far end of the room. The faint smell of smoke still occasionally stole in through the tower’s small open window. Except for the ash from a few hours ago, the room was immaculate. It had been a scout’s tower before being conquered for Kleitengraas.

“Don’t be coy. It’s no sin to hate an ineffectual king.” The dwarf lord arose. He casually crossed the highest room in the tower, occasional shouts from below barely audible from the forge below. The merchant’s hand opened wide as a hand laid itself firmly upon his shoulder. “I’m unfamiliar with my questions not being answered. And if you know the Stonebolt family history, you will know that our questions are best answered quickly.”

The wood creaked as the merchant laid his weight into the chair’s back. He had a smooth voice for a dwarf. Especially for one with so full and gray a beard. It’s a voice that inspires trust. Almost too genuine sounding.

“Had I known that the man to try and replace king Bloomen was a Stonebolt, I wouldn’t have done what I’ve done. It’s true that I helped your lords. Strence is renowned as a statesman, and the Baron…well there’s profit in helping to restore the Western Barony. Any man can see that.” The merchant shifted his weight again, adding more wood creaks to the faint sound of roaring flames below. Lines appeared on his forehead and he turned his head down to the right as he quietly strained against the ropes. When the muscles on his arms and neck relaxed, he turned his head to face the shadow with a soft release of breath. “…but to help a Stonebolt is a travesty. There, now kill me and be done with it.”

The shadow placed his hands so softly on the fine stonework of the tower’s small window. All stone was finely crafted in Kel-Nagrand into some fantastic shape. Overlooking the orichalcum mine, this ledge was crafted of the same rare metal, its bronze coloring lightly reflecting the fires of the forge below. The fine stonework engraving was set into the orichalcum in one detailed scene, the faces and bodies and stone throne raised just slightly from the smooth background of the picture.

“The dwarven throne of Kel-Nagrand is meant for a Stonebolt. Even Kel-Nagrand whispers so.” Kleitengraas caressed the stone-engraved picture of his forebears set in orichalcum. “I know that you fear the power that the stonebolts hold more than you do death. It’s unfair for the commoners to be held in thrall by powers they cannot attain to. Don’t fear my friend. As king, I will share this power. Wouldn’t you like have more power than a few pieces of gold and that charming voice?”

Grudgingly, the voice responded. “What are you saying?”

The woolen cloth was removed slowly and softly. The merchant’s eyes were already adjusted to the darkness of the room. A few motes of ash drifted in the window. A white-gray hand gripped his hair roughly and fangs pierced his bearded neck.

The Saintsmith’s Shout

•December 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Know this my friend, for the time is surely here.
An evil rises to mask the land in fear.
A shadow of old that takes in violent strife,
leaving you with nothing-not even your life.

You must resist for you have no other way.
By your righteous decree you’ll never astray.
Should this threat force you to the end of your rope,
do not despair yet, friend, for there is still hope.

A flare pierces through the covering of night!
Darkness trembles as it spots the blazing light!
The heavenly steel rings forth a coming song!
May there forever shine the Promise of Dawn!

 

Promise of Dawn

Hollow Waltz 5) Jester’s Intermission

•December 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Four updates of world events during the recess of performance by the Jester…

 

1) Eamas: wearied from the battle against Saghrin, the party found themselves resting long overdue in the icy caverns. Much to the dismay of all, Eamas, the hedge necromancer appeared, claiming to have saved everyone from further undead havoc. A greater lie never was told in the hollowed lands of Cyrum. However, he pleaded with the party to give him just a drop of the Draught of Life. Of course, his superior, Dom, resisted. However, Azazel, being gifted in things of subtlety, stole a drop for dear Eamas. So the wearied and undervalued mage left Cyrum, now having a drop of pure necromancy in his blood.

 

2)  Gebaio, Sentie, and Enor: the magic scroll from Brizmir allowed only six bodies to magically travel to Murgana. And so, dear Gebaio, gentle Sentie, and beneficent Enor watched with much dismay as they were left in a ship surrounded in the darkness by enemy ships, with their only hope a burning village some three miles away. Gebaio watched with great confusion at the faces of the runt Jadori and sea captain. Then something within him snapped. Perhaps a portion of that fiery resolve which marks every man’s life in his younger age came coursing back into his veins with the need for immediate action. As Enor mumbled something about his being sure the scroll would save them all, Gebaio lifted Sentie into his arms and motioned for the captain to follow him. They would go to the ancient kingdom.

 

3) F.A.B.I.O. Model Circuit: few know the meaning of the acronym (or perhaps it is even as acrostic?), but all who live in major cities know of the world-wide, official modeling competition. Any member of the circuit who comes to town is treated according to their world-wide rank, in addition to their recent competition standings, by those who religiously follow the circuit, as is quite common in this day and age. Members of the circuit, among some circles, are akin to sports superstars. The most recent addition to the circuit, you ask? Why, Le’Zazuel, sponsored by Gebaio of Nathra. Some controversy presented itself at the latest competition where legendary male model Jadoro was purported to have won first place, although no one has since seen of him, and Le’Zazuel was reported to have been wearing the gold medal from the show at his last sighting in Murgana. For now, all we can say is, who is Le’Zazuel, and where did this model who has become so hot right now, come from?

 

4) Vyncis: the “shy” merchant from Leonic was loaded. His trade agreement with the Twilight had gone very smoothly. So what he lost 90% of his magical wares? So what he was selling magical weaponry to a character with great potential for harming others? So what Murgana’s economy would take a severe blow from his moving of his assets to Pandaemonium so as to escape the unavoidable charge of treason? He’d finally hit it big. His first offer had been to Murgana all of those years ago. No bites. Insults, even, from the king’s subordinates, with no chance to ever talk to the king himself. But now, he would live like a king in the land of the Asura, and people would see the impact he was to make in the world to come.

Divine Fragments “a.k.a. Countdown 5”

•December 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

When the sun was about to collapse the remains of Altius, he gathered his strength and leapt. The four men of uncommon virtue had given everything of their physical bodies to defeat their fallen eternal father, and yet after his death, it seemed that his final spell would kill them all. Blonde locks soaked and matted with his own blood, Saint Acerak Mapstone “The Sunblade” looked upon his right arm, mangled and nearly severed, just before he jumped. Physical strength spent, he had only his mental strength left. He leapt. His sword was broken. No matter as his blade arm was destroyed. The meteor was collapsing the world itself with its massive gravity. As he flew, he had the faint realization that he had no idea what he was doing. Pain prevented further realizations.

Thangoruin, Edigo, Lanias, and Palin watched as candles in the wind as Acerak used the last magic from his “Judgment” spell to throw his own body into the meteor. When the elven warrior and the meteor touched, Acerak saw the truth. Elmran had not cast the meteor spell to kill his children. Though the gravity and fire were devastating, he had cast the spell to deliver to them the shards of his eternal spark, along with the sparks of Vesth and Sethis. It was all he could do to counteract his fallen alter-ego, known as the Devourer. When the two touched, Acerak was given three eternal sparks, and was shockingly left alive. Knowing Thangoruin’s love for Sethis, he immediately threw the eternal spark into Thangoruin’s helpless body with his undamaged left arm. With a gleeful smile, now un-phased by the crippling pain in his arm, Acerak teleported himself away from the remains of the battle, holding two eternal sparks in his left palm, laughing giddily to an unknown location.