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.

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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.

Hollow Waltz: 4) Victory at Cyrum

•November 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Domonik waited. Looking around the room, shards of ice still occasionally dropped with resonant concussive force, snow settling in waves along with them, but Domonik wanted to know for sure that there was nothing else moving. Sentie’s comet spell had obliterated Saghrin, leaving blackened ash. The impact had been so tremendous and the explosion so violent, with all of the debris from the blast, both waited in anxious anticipation, hoping no human form would move. The Zera blade, Gandar Celeste’s greatsword, pointed at the ground, held firmly in Domonik’s gloved hand. The draught of life was concealed in his robes. The sword had yet to taste any blood since finding its new master, and it almost sang to Dom of its desire to be wet again. Put off by the idea of continuing any form of battle with Saghrin, when the debris settled, Domonik was glad to find that his sword would have to wait.

Five lakes of necromantic water had been found in the heart of Cyrum. The Forsaken Sanctum Templars had known of these pools for some time, but had never learned of their location. They had sought for them, fought to destroy them even, but had failed. Yet five men had made it past the Templar’s operation, deep into the ancient mausoleum that held the dead for an entire nation. The lakes had been found, along with Saghrin, the elderly, crazed swordsman. Saghrin spoke to the group about a grand new era of necromancers who would not suffer disease, illness, or death, but who would be dependent upon the lakes’ water for continual life. Unwilling to fight a battle which would likely lead to the elderly man’s death, Saghrin offered a deal. In exchange for his life and the ability to complete his magnum opus, Saghrin had willingly proffered the Zera blade and the draught of life, those two legendary necromantic items for which Domonik had longed. The offer was accepted (Domonik held his new sword in his hands with a kind of passion in his eyes, and stuffed the draught in his robes) and then quickly remitted, to which the group explained among themselves that such a crazed man could not be allowed to follow through on his crazy, crazy plan. The fault was not theirs, after all, that Saghrin had offered the items without any true guarantee of integrity. As Azazel would say, “only a fool would do that.”

As it was revealed though, Saghrin had gained tremendous strength over his time in the mountain. Even as an elderly man, he wielded his greatsword with the skill of youth, added with the violence of magical ice only obtainable by a man in his wizened years. Each strike upon Rayl, Teczera, and Azazel was laced with frost that cut into their bodies like sharpened icicles. Saghrin cast bladed waves of ice from the “Planar Elemental Flux” which he drew his powers from, bearing upon the group until only Domonik and Sentie remained conscious. Not wanting to die or lose his new sword or draught, Domonik loosed arrows into Saghrin’s failing body until no form of magic could save him. When Saghrin, riddled with arrows, struggled to Domonik’s feet, Sentie’s comet struck, ending the infamous legend’s sad and tragic life.

And so (victory!!!) the heroes allowed Necromancy to continue as an everyday part of life in Altius! Of course, the necromancers were still few. Even the most powerful necromancer was as nothing in the present age, compared to those that went before. All of the greatest necromancers, of course, had vanished along with the destruction of the necromantic being. Since Domonik strongly valued Necromancy, the others, willingly or begrudgingly, wasted their opportunity to destroy the necromantic pools that were the remains of the necromantic being, the Zera blade, and the draught of life, without which, necromancy would forever not exist. Now armed with even greater weapons, knowledge, and artifacts, the heroes left Cyrum to a world properly primed for the advent of greater necromantic magic. Domonik was now quite close to becoming one of the great modern-day necromancers of Altius, and so far as he could tell, due to his fervency, necromancy as a “reputable” way of life would continue indefinitely.

Teczera on “Avidas”

•November 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Avidas is a large-scale orginization of bounty hunters. The group is run through Avidas homesteads, one of which is in almost every city. They remain close to banks in each city, and they resemble a pub more then an office. They are each run by someone who the unseen leader of Avidas has put in charge. Each homestead is equipped with a sealed and heavily protected room where a representative of the near bank presides.

Joining Avidas merely requires that one of the posted bounties be brought to the homestead. The bank official gives the majority of the cut from the bounty to the one who brings in the bounty. The rest of the cut is given to the homestead owner, with a small portion going back to the bank. Upon the delivery of their first bounty, the hunter is given an Avidas badge. The badge proves Avidas membership among homesteads, and helps guards and other law officials to make the wise decision of releasing Avidas members who are engaged in aiding lawful activity (somewhat as a vigilante, if that is the case, which is highly approved of in Altius society).

Hollow Waltz: 3) Warlocks, Archons, and Elves

•November 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Celegal, “Dark Elf” Warlock of Ravenloft, knew Remnant on sight. Now, lying bloodied and bound outside Ravenloft forest, along the old broken walls, Remnant was about to be none too kind to his old “acquaintance.” As Domonik’s zombies moved closer for the kill, Celegal, wide-eyed, yelled of his past relationship with Thangoruin, how he had been commanded to turn Remnant into a Dark Elf, how he had succeeded at channeling the Shadow Plane through the former human boy “Itoch’s” little body, even as it lay beneath a grave stone. The spell was successful, merging the Shadow Plane into the fabric of Altius, and reawakening Itoch as a Dark Elf child. Of course, Remnant had been a dread bones for much longer than Celegal’s story would have him believe, and thus Remnant thought, the information must be incorrect. Finally growing weary, Remnant gave up arguing with the crazed man, and motioned to Domonik with much eye rolling. And so with zeal, Domonik smiled, commanded his miniature horde, and gained another zombie to his growing “family.”

– – – – –

Travelling back to Bloodmoor, Domonik and Azazel were somewhat sullen (despite Domonik’s new zombie). It was only days earlier that the two had learned they were brothers, and they were still having a hard time mentally processing the fact.

Domonik was the long-lost brother Azazel had been searching for all his life, and yet here they had been travelling with each other for months, unknowing of each other’s identities. Azazel was quite young, Domonik somewhat older, when Tarkus, the “grand Archon of Avidas,” had come on orders of the Jester to kill Azazel and Domonik’s family. He was true to his orders. Azazel, Tarkus had known nothing about, and Domonik, he had decided to spare, being old enough to teach of the cruelties of the Templar. Domonik travelled with Tarkus for years, being shown Acerak’s “Fun Fields,” where Archons were forced to fight to the death for the Elf King’s amusement. He even showed Domonik Xapha, the torture and imprisonment camp of the Forsaken Sanctum Templar. As Domonik grew, he began to repent of his parents’ “twisted ways” as Templar, and took up the training under Tarkus, of the Archons. Domonik excelled. When Azazel found out that his brother had studied his Archon arts under the man that had killed their parents, he was less than thrilled. Who was this brother of whom he had sought for so long, so diligently, and yet who was so cruel in his dark arts?

– – – – –

Shimron, the Elf under the waterfall, stared intently upon the parchment on one of his many desks. The grand chamber, the well-hewn cave under the river above, had lights all about it, in many colors, casting varying degrees of shadows all about the man. His light blue hair hung just above the table, his eyes squinting unsatisfactorily, hovering inches above the parchment. Finally, he lifted his elegant hand to place one final dot on the paper. “Excellent!” He smiled a Shimron smile (copyright, Shimron corporation), and rolled up the parchment with haste, tying it with a leafy and cherry-blossoming, brownish vine. One dab of heated wax along with the Shimron seal finished the project. Along the vine, he tied a small notecard: “For the elven children of the Forest Among the Distraught. Bless you little angels, your ever-flowing river, and your treasured willow’s well.”