Discussion in 'Fall from Heaven Lore' started by cypher132, Feb 2, 2010.
All players still interested, PM me.
Expect a short story later tonight.
Excuse for Extended Absence
My medication problems took a turn for the worse. It took me a while to get back on track. Also, in a tragic coincidence, my family went to be with my cousin because he developed cancer. I believe it was of the kidney but I kept hearing different organs from different family members. Rest assured, it's benign, that's why we returned home. Me and LemonJelly are working to revive MSII and your participation would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, and apologies for the long hiatus.
Any concerned users or people with questions, please PM me. I'm attempting to have more of a presence now that I found where the chat went.
P.S. Anyone would like to help establish rules and whatnot for MSII, please PM me. Thank you.
Im not sure what to do. I wouldn't like to follow and post for both this Megastory and Lemonjelly's story, so I'd have to pick one. I don't know about others but Im going with the one they are going.
I'm planning to take both stories, actually.
I know some of you are working on both stories. I understand completely, given my involuntary absence. I will speak with Jemon and see what to do. Those that want to do the Mega Story, send me a PM just so I know. Jemon and I are planning a lot of things out, like civ-specific quests. We're hard at work on some things so I sincerely hope you decide to join. If you have any friends interested, have them PM me, too. Thank you.
Don't forget to come to the Erebus Chat. There's a good chance I'll be there.
Also, even if you aren't playing, you can PM me your ideas. It would help in the longrun. Thank you.
Scandal in Council of Notables!
Councilman Pern of the Bannor, one of the most prominent Xenophobes in the Bannor nation, as well as the one who started the skirmishes against the Ngomele and the Kuriotates, has been convicted of leaking funds towards the gnollish nation. Apparently, he had been one of the loudest voices against the peace overtures with the Children of the Golden Dragon, especially after the loss of the Iron City. Desiring revenge for his loss against what he deemed "subhuman abdominations", he had sent out contacts to the gnollish tribes trying to urge them to make raids down south.
However, he failed to take into account the still-active Hippus raiders from the north, as well as their demands for tribute. Now, the missing money is out of reach in the steppes, causing no small amount of fustration in the Bannor Nation. Responding to calls for justice, Lord Commander Constans has now executed the traitorous Councilman, as well as several Xenophobe officials implicated in the scandal. More word will come from the Bannor capital soon.
((OOC: Still focused on schoolwork, so can't make a longer post.))
[Off: Since Methyl has decided to reopen the play, I'll just follow his example.]
A trace of Dragon - Interludium - Diplomacy
From his vantage point on one of the high spires of Lorda’s countless still-purposeless palaces, Taryl watched the Bannor delegation making their way through one of the equally countless markets of the iron city. This one, if Taryl remembered correctly, dealed mainly in fine clothes made by Kwythellars famed tailors. To bring them here, to this furthest point of the dominion, was a more than just dangerous business. Despite the two fortified settlements commonly dubbed as “the Hags” (Sometimes Kuriotates had a very dry humor) along the caravan routes, there still were bandits, slavers, wild orcs and dangerous animals. Not even to mention the undeads that had begun rising since shortly after the claiming of Lorda. The latter had been the most dangerous, for they were strong in numbers and very resilient. Even worse, the Kuriotate’s favoured weapons, spear and crossbow, both were equally useless. The only thing that was really effective against skeletons was a Centaur charge: Not because of any weapons the horsemen might carry but because of sheer force of a Centaur slamming into a skeleton could shatter it.
Anyways, Lorda itself was almost as secure as anywhere in the heartland. Which was why they could easily allow the Bannor envoys to walk freely in the city. At least that was the official version. Of course, it was ferret**** (though Taryl hated that proverb). The Bannor were never unwatched. The hostility between them and the Children of the Dragon was much to young to allow any such thing as trust. There were always sentries - uniformed and civil - following them. And if the Bannor ever got close to any sensible building, be it a casern, defensive fortifications or one of the (important) digging sites, something would happen to distract them or block their way. A brawl in a Tavern? A religious procession? A road jammed by traffic? Most of the officers of the Army had served in the Kwythellar City Guard before, had a lot of experience running a city and they could get really creative. And at least both sides had the decency not to mention it.
But Taryl was sincerely wondering how long they would have to distract them. When the diplomats came, Taryl had secretly suspected that they would get their answer within a few days. After all, the Young King usually seemed to have a way of knowing unnaturally fast when something happened, even if it was half the world away. But either this trick - whatever it was - had failed him this time or he hadn’t deemed the diplomats not important to use it. Taryl thought both unlikely. Probably the King didn’t want to make the Bannor aware of how fast he could be. That was what Taryl would have done. And he was smart enough to be aware that King Cardith was way more clever and sly than he could ever be.
The messenger Taryl had hoped for arrived two days later. With him came a stately retinue and an envoy of the Young King himself who would journey on from here to the Bannor’s capitol - if they would allow it - to set up a permanent representation there. Taryl knew the envoy (by name at least). Any child in the empire knew it. It was Urian Goldmane, also called Urian the Good, one of the Kuriotates best generals. He had made his name fighting the wild orcs and securing the heartland. To send him was both a sign of trust and respect of the King regarding the Bannor’s warrior tradition. It would probably also be a slap in the face for all specicist in the Bannor nation: Goldmane was a Centaur.
With him, the envoy-to-be carried a whole series of proposals by the King’s own hand and a special gift: A shield.
Not just any shield. A shield of finest steel, finer than anything that could be made in this new age, gleaming with gold and enamelled in a crimson red. It was marked with the sign of Junil, the god of justice. According to Goldmane, it had been dug-up on an abandoned farmstead two days east of Kwythellar. Cardith Lorda himself had given precise orders where to dig, though how he had known what treasure lay there was a mystery. “As unbreakable as the friendship between our two people should be.” were the words King Cardith send with the shield.
Furthermore, the King was pleased by the Lord-Commanders proposal. However, he had a few amends to make before he could accept it:
-In the to be established trading town, the number of Bannor troops is to be limited as well: The Bannor are allowed to station men there in a ratio of 2:1 (Banor:Kuriotate), but not more.
-Some goods, among them the special Kuriotate fine clothes and jewellery may only be sold by Kuriotate merchants or traders authorized by the royal administration.
-The borderline proposed by the Lord-Commander is acceptable. However, the Kuriotate wish to have the right to purchase land within the Bannor empire to build exclaves (whose exact number should be discussed later), small out- and trading-posts in which Kuriotate law and customs will apply and which will be garrisoned by Kuriotate forces. Those garrisons will be kept as small as possible, however, and the Bannor will have the right to inspect the settlements. The Young King hopes for special conditions regarding these landpurchases.
-The exclaves to be established shall not interfere with Bannoria's access to the southern sea for Bannor watercraft.
-Accompanying this, King Cardith proposes a mutual right of free passage for merchants and travellers from both nations to certain fixed locations. For example, Bannorites would be allowed free passage to Kwythellar and Naggagrond.In return, Kuriotates would be allowed to journey to Eagle’s Haven and Warrior’s Promise as well as the Exclaves (the latter for merchants without having to pay tolls at the Bannor borders.)
-This is not a full contract of open borders, however. The latter is an option for the future on which King Cardith looks favourably but does not feel the time has come for it yet.
-Moreover, the King would like to establish a permanent embassy in the Bannor’s capitol. He offers the same option to the Bannor and suggests that the envoys should journey on to Kwythellar. A suitable mansion will be made ready for them there.
If you want to further negotiate, we should do it via pm.
[OOC] And my axe! [/OOC]
The court is in session
The Laughing Court, Hanube
"And thus I declare chickens are more holy than demons."
The court was filled with nodding and gestures of acception. Perpentach smiled at the center of room.
"Very well. I think this settles this script. Construct golden chicken monuments, send people to found a city near the demon shrine and arm militia with rainbow-colored swords."
Perpentach summarised the topics of the meeting and was ready to give signal to the men to drop the red curtains but then the economy advisor stood up.
"Your g-great greatness, we've recaived reports that the smugglers are bringing in goods from the frozen Illian lands!"
"What sort of goods you say, man with no visible use?"
"F-f-furs and antlers we've never seen!"
"And the problem in that is?"
The economy advisor was shaking out of fear. He knew what was going to happen because of what he said and he knew what was going to happen if he hadn't done it.
"O-o-our economy is built on the idea that all money flows only to the palace. If the too much money flows elsewhere, i-i-it will result in disaster! People are buying smuglers smugled goods, they love them and they are gaining more power and worst of..."
Then he started laughing and dancing.
Perpentach had pointed his scepter at him. He started laughing too. Then the whole court started to laugh, even though most of them were terrified of what he had done. They were all that he would do the same for them if they didn't laugh.
The economy advisor never recovered from the spell. He laughed and danced to the end of his life at a freak show in a small town near Hanube untill one night he screamed himself to death.
That night, alley behind Perpentach's royal circus
Five men walked to the alley in yellow coats with their yellow hoods on.
"Hello brothers. Good to see you yet again."
"Perpentach.. His ways never change. That man just might have saved this nation. The threat can be found and conforted by us, the true leaders our homeland."
"Indeed brother. Skram died as a martyr for this large freak circus."
"Brave actions for a land this insane. A true patriot."
The yellow coated men talked and discussed briefly which of the orders given to them by Perpentach are going to be fulfilled and which are not, as long as he doesn't notice it.
"Very well. I'll send my personal assassin clowns to investigate the smugling operation at docks of Garymo, Defoe, arm your clowns with rainbow-colored swords and make sure Perpentach sees them. And Trilby.. Make sure golden chickens are constructed all over the land.
((OOC: Still a short update.))
Treaty agreed with Kuriotates, Bannor build Agricultural and Trading settlement, Vanguard sent farther East.
After word from the Bannor delegation to the Iron City (henceforth called Lorda) reached Lord Commander Constans, an expedition of about 500 men and women (200 of who were warriors in service to the Bannor leader) was sent via raft to a designated site on the rich grasslands northeast of the Kuriotate city. Another delegation has been sent to the Children of the Golden Dragon, bearing reparations for those of them murdered by Bannor soldiers. Said reparations were taken from the properties of the late Councilman Pern, as well as his Xenophobe cronies. The city will be called Earth's Bounty, in anticipation of future yields.
In other news, a vanguard of 1000 men has been sent east against the skeletons, spectres, and other undead plauging Bannor lands. According to sources within the Bannor court, Lord Commander Constans originally planned to join them, but the fallout from the Councilman Pern case and the need to secure peace with the Kuriotates long enough to reap the profits from the treaty forced him to stay in the city of Warrior's Promise for the time being. A larger army is set to follow them, not just to defeat the Demon that has been controlling the walking dead, but also to establish bases and settlements for the expanding Bannor population. Further sources state that the Vanguard's final destination is the edge of the grasslands east of the Bannor's current territory.
Goblin workers lifted the Orc corpse by the arms and legs, then tossed it off the Oren Cliff, down onto the pile that is most likely forming at the bottom. Hundreds of Orcs had died at the Oren Pass at the hands of the Nortek and now the disposal was beginning. Deremei was standing atop the palisades watching the workers move about their grim task, as well as scavenging weapons and armor. The Orcs had created some interesting tools of war, swords designed to dismember enemies and a spear designed to be thrown if needed.
The walls that were damaged by the explosions were beginning reconstruction, Goblins from within the city offering to help rebuild the defenses. The Nortek were still unsure of what caused these explosions, but small fragments of glass and shrapnel lay embedded in the ground and walls. The palisades were scorched by the explosions and the workers were unable to wash the dark powder off.
Ung Rockmate, leader of the remaining two Ogres, was lifting boulders with his kin and returning them to the tops of hills, the perfect place for them to be rolled down onto enemies below. Inka Bloodear was standing at the top of the hill with other Goblins, ready to help wrestle the boulders into position and place the correct sticks and stones to keep the boulder up. Reconstruction was going slowly, but it was finally being done. With the Tombslay Horde pushed back into the heart of the forest, they had space to build.
The Orcs were slowly moving through the forest, thinking of slaughter as they moved towards Fort Ogazar. The first few assaults had failed, but Vorug had commanded for more assaults. The Nortek would break if the pressure was kept on them. The lead Orc was looking forward, waiting to see the walls of Fort Ogazar, when he felt a sharp pain in his stomach. He looked down and saw blood pumping from a clean wound straight into his side.
Several other Orcs stopped and noticed these wounds, several falling as major vessels were severed, bleeding out and dying. The lead Orc looked around, trying to find the culprit before falling to his knees and bleeding out. Swiftkill Clan Goblins were hidden in piles of vegetation, blending in before striking. They thrusted their spears forward into the Orcs before returning to silence. The Clan struck with such speed that the Orcs were unable to see it.
Goblins sitting on branches in the trees above the Orcs took aim with their bows and released their arrows, felling several more Orcs. The Orcs roared and began trying to cut down the trees or even just try to push them over. The Swiftkill Clan emerged from their hiding places and began their war dance around the Orcs, slicing muscles and skin while moving before the Orcs could try to strike. Several Goblins were felled, their heads crushed from the Orc clubs. Arrows continued to rain down, striking Orcs in the back of the Horde as the Swiftkill Clan cut down Orcs at the front.
The Orcs in the center began to roar with rage as their assault was cut down and they could do nothing. Mazatl lizards leapt from the tops of the trees, landing on the Orcs and slitting their throats and jumping to another Orc. The Horde was quickly cut down with the combined assault of the Mazatl and Nortek. The Horde was destroyed before nightfall.
A Day of Peace.
He was glad that the Xenophobic Party in Bannor lands had been discredited just in time for the treaty to be accepted. Now, he was supervising the building of the Grey Mansion, a beautiful edifice that was both stately, luxurious, and defensible; just in case the Xenophobes turned out to not have been as discredited as he tought. It was going to be the future home of a future Kuriotate embassy (he had instructed the Bannor delegation in Lorda to move on to Kythwellar when he sent word of his acceptance of the treaty), and he wanted it to be as fit for its purpose as possible. The Bannor needed allies in this new world, and the Childeren of the Golden Dragon had always had a reputation for being honorable to those who treated them with honor.
He had also appreciated the shield the Immortal King sent him. While the relics rescued from the old Bannor treasury included several ones made of Mithril, none of them had the sign of Junil, due to the fact that those that did were carried off by the Illians in their final attack on the Old Capital. The largest part of the Old Order's members had also died in the attack, their waning divine powers taking down many times their number of Illians. Now, he had a symbol of the Bannor's old god in his capital, and hope that the old faith can be restored. In the meantime, he had raised several levies of Clerics, warrior prophets with various gifts of healing, to accompany the army he would send to the east.
But even with those, he was not sure of the Eastern Expedition's success. The problem was that he had left no provision for someone to command in his place. Oh, there were some commanders with the tactical acuity to lead the expedition well, but all of them were bland, unable to inspire the troops to do more than adequately, to reach out beyond their comfort zones and spend years in unfamiliar territory figthing orcs, undead, demons and who knows what for the expansion of the Bannor empire. He needed a conqueror, a hero, in order to have them do the actions that they could not have done by themselves. It's just that he coudn't see a way to get one.
In the end, he had just hoped for the best, and had given orders for the final preprations to be made. At the very least, he would still make some headway. He shook his doubts from his head and continued to watch the buliders in their work. In some ways, what they accomplished here would be more important than what the Eastern Expedition, in its incomplete state, can yield. He hoped both endeavours would turn out smoothly, though. Then his descendants can finally have the peace they deserved.
A trace of Dragon II
Breathing. Slowly. Steadily. Calmly. To calmly. A thousand thoughts shot through Lessuri Relassis mind. He did not know who the breather was. All he knew was: Any person who was capable of sneaking into the personal quarters of the spokesman of the mages guild (which was to say: into his study) and stay that calm was dangerous. Very dangerous, probably. Then again, any thief or assassin who had been able to bypass both the magical and the mundane layers of security of the guild would probably be able to conceal his breathing well enough not to be noticed in the first place. Lamias were famed for their skill in the arcane and perhaps for their fine olfaction. Not for their ears, certainly. The blackguard hiding somewhere in the shadows of his nightly room had wanted him to notice his or her presence. Which did not make things any better.
But there was no point in upholding the stalemate. He had no way to call for reinforcements other than yelling for help, which was impossible because it was firstly too obvious and secondly too conspicuous. He was the spokesman, he could not afford to risk event he smallest chance of a rumour that somebody had managed to break into his quarters. He had to think of the political dimensions. His enemies - both within and outside the guild - would devour him if they got to know about it. Readying a spell of binding, he straightened his back:
I know that you are there and you know that I know it. Show yourself and well find a solution, whatever it is you desire.
There was no response...except a shifting in the shadow. And a silver blur - a dagger, thrown at him. Relassi reacted out of instinct. He was a full-blood politician, but he also was a capable mage. The threw bindingspell he had intended for the intruder at the knife. Spell and blade connected and the sharp copper stopped instantly, hanging in mid-air. Drawing a bit of fire mana - his nephew had send back a few, tiny crystals from the research-expedition in the abandoned temple he and the scouting band had stumbled over a few months ago. A flame danced between his palms, throwing an orange half-light into the study. But his assassin had already vanished. Only an open window and the still motionless dagger showed that he had ever been there at all. With haste, Relassi slithered to the window in question, but there was nothing at all to see except nocturnal Kwythellar.
Sighing and accepting that there probably was no point in trying to trace his assailant, he turned around and took a closer look at the throwing knife. It was a beautiful piece, if something as gross as a weapon could be beautiful. It was made from fine, yellow copper. The handle was made from bone. There was a miniature of a dragon cut into it. Relassi took it in his hands - very carefully though, for the blade might well be poisoned - and turned it. With a piece like this, there was a chance that...yes, there it was: Like most quality weapons made in Kwythellar, the knife bore the guildsign of the master-smith that had made it.
The first thing Relassi did on the morrow was not visiting the smith. That would have been to obvious. For the same reason, he had resisted his first impulse to enlist a squad of Cityguards and instead had replaced four of his usual scribes by Lamia warriors under the command of a gigantic Lamia called Zassuri. Those were a rare thing, but they existed: Snakemen without the talent for magic. The interesting bit was, however, that the smaller a Lamias magical potential was, the stronger were his natural toxins. Perhaps the snake-part was stronger in them than in their magical brethren. They also had more colourful scales, but only sages and other Lamias knew about that connection.
Be that as it may, he followed his daily routine until two hours after midday. Thereafter, as if by chance, he and his retinue happened to pass by the smithy out of which the dagger must have come. Relassi could not help but notice that there was the sign of the Dragon Defiant painted on several houses in the otherwise unremarkable but well-to-do neighbourhood. So the people round here were supporters of the new political movement? Interesting.
Inside the smithy, it was very hot. It did not disturb the Lamia in the least, on the contrary. He was partially cold-blooded. The heat of the furnace was welcome to him and Zassuri, the one Lamia bodyguard he took with him into the smithy.
He had no difficulties to find the smith or rather, the smith found him. The master was a middle-aged Centaur. He seemed to recognise Relassi but apparently could not quite place him. It was not surprising. The mageguild and the guild of weaponsmiths seldom interacted, there simply was no connection between them.
After a bit of small-talk (it was common not to open a possible business interest openly among the Kuriotate. Instead, you had to talk for a while about something else, weather, religion, politics, whatever. Only after that you could get to the point.) In which the Centaur at least hinted at some rather radical theses of his concerning the orcish minority as well as most of the common religions, Relassi showed him the dagger.
He might as well have showed the Centaur the bloodied heads of his children. For a moment, all colour vanished from the horsemans face. Then at least one colour returned: Red. The red of rage.
YOU! the Centaur yelled THEY TOLD ME YOU WOULD COME! TRAITOR! FILTHY CONTAMINATOR OF THE TRUE CHILDREN OF THE DRAGON! OUT OF MY HOUSE, NOW! With that, the Centaur charged at him. But before he reached Relassi and before the latter could ready a spell - he would have been to slow anyways - Zassuri reacted. Shooting forward on his tail, the red-and-green, more than 2 meters tall Lamia warrior let the Centaur pass, only to wipe with his tail. He knocked the Centaur of his feet. Before the Centaur could get up again, Zessuri was upon him and sunk his poisonous tusks into the horsemans calf. Only stunned him, Ser.
Good job. Relassi said. I wonder what had gone into him. Bring in your men, search the place.
This is taking up once more an episode from Relassi I posted a long while back. It is happening shortly after the discovery of the airship in Lorda and thus before the Bannor diplomats arrive in Kwythellar.
((OOC: A story that I wrote before my plane trip.))
The Ordeal of Athena.
How long has it been?
She had been part of a delegation to the Kahdi judt before the second Age of Ice came. Together, they had stretched their wits on what to do with the rising Menace of Auric Ulvin. The Overcouncil had already put out a search for the Godslayer, but no headway had been made. Assasination attempts had been made against the would-be god, but none of them had succeded. Even the Luonnotari Heretics, those immune to magic, had only slowed his rise.
In the end, they had tried a new spell, a powerful ritual of fire that would destroy the Illian lands forever. But they had failed, their haste and recklessness burning doen their towers around them.
The rest of the delegation either stayed to fight the fires, or attempted to ride home as fast as they could. But she had been caught by a falling piece of masonry, and tought it was the end. But one of the remaining Kahdi sorceresses rescued her, and she was taken into a secret laboratory.
There were several chambers there which would keep those who slept in them whole even after several ages had passed. Using the Kadhi's Ether-Knowledge combined with what Ice Magic they had stolen from the Illians, these 'Sleeper Pods' would ensure that their knowledge, and now hers, would be preserved for Auric's inevitable fall and the new age.
But it failed, didn't it? Only I survived the chambers. Everyone else died, wasting away in an endless dream while they froze over.
It had been because the real Stasis had gripped her. She was now unaging, unchanging. But it had been the food conjured up from the Ether that sustained her body through its unnatural life, and the sleep, dreams and visions produced by the chamber that kept her sane. Now, the Thaw had come, and the chambers had shut down and allowed her to go out.
To where? And would my people still be in this world? What will they make of me, a lost Knight from the Age of Rebirth?
Her question was answered sooner than expected, when the Vanguard that Lord Commander Constans had sent came across the ruins of the Complex.
A massive fire has swept through the lands of the Elves, destroying several acres of trees and killing wildlife. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but with the destruction of their trees, the Elves could face serious problems in the near future.
Rioting has begun in the Khazad lands, as the Luchuirp slaves are beginning to demand their freedom. They have gone into the copper mines and have fortified the entrances. The Khazad have attempted to get in, but the Luchuirp have collapsed all entrances but two. It seems a lengthy siege is in store for the Dwarves.
Stasis Survivor found!
Scouts from the Vanguard sent by Lord Commnader Constans have stumbled upon a complex used by the Ancient Kahdi civilization, which held an astonishing find: A Bannor survivor from the Age of Rebirth. Said survivor, who gave her name as Athena, looked to be a Knight in her late twenties. According to her, she had been part of the Delgation to the Kadhi capital just before the Second Ice Age, and was there when it burned down to ashes. She was saved by the timely interference of a wandering Kahdi sorceress, who had been part of a secret project that focused on preserving the human body for extended periods of time. While they ultimately failed in their goals, their chambers kept the female Knight fed and sane for an entire age.
After her debriefing, Athena expressed a wish to see the Lord Commander, well known to also be a survivor of the Stasis. While she is still physically weak thanks to her long period of inactivity, she is regaining strength and stamina in a surprising rate, and is expected to be in figthing shape after a few months.
Due to her long exposure to the mysterious 'ether', as well as the Mind, Spirit, Creation, and Ice mana used to sustain her body, there may be various side effects throughout her system, but nothing that could be dangerous for her in the long run. There are hints that she has demonstrated an ability to read emotions through magic, but curiosity about that has been suppressed. There is no expectation of further powers manifesting.
A trace of Dragon III
A dark hood drawn deep down to cover his face, Relassi slithered forward through the doorway. It was the evening of the day he and his men had raided the smithy. There they had found not only a couple of letters whose mere content would have been sufficient for a death sentence in other nations but also detailed plans of the city and the palace and on top of that swords and daggers enough to arm at least a company and a platoon or two. Moreover, they had found uniform-like dark red robes in the same numbers. Most importantly, though, they had also found a note which read:
351 Treacle Mine Road
Password: Swordfish *
Which was why he and a squad of Zassuri’s best and most trusted Lamias were entering the warehouse in question now, dressed in the robes they had acquired from the smith.
The passage behind the first door - which had been open - led several meters into a floor so dark that not even a Ferret would have seen much. There weren’t any windows, nor were there, what an irony, any candles. The only bits of light available were what came through the open doorway behind them.
Until the latter suddenly slammed shut. Relassi and his men were standing in utter darkness. A perfect trap. It took all his willpower neither to scream nor to summon magical light.
From the darkness in front of him came a hoarse voice: “Password?”
“Swordfish!” replied Relassi, hoping that the password was correct.
It was and with a creak, a door in front of him and his retinue opened. Warm candlelight glinted beyond the doorway. There was no sign at all of the speaker with the hoarse voice.
Passing through the doorway, Relassi found himself in the great room that one normally would suppose to serve a warehouses main purpose, which was the storage of goods. This time, however, the warehouse stored mainly one thing: People. There were at least fourhundred of them, men and women of all races, sizes and ages, wearing dark red robes in unison. Making his way to a free space at the right side of the hall where he assumed to have a good look at whatever was going to happen next while being able to slip away if possible, he looked around. The redhooded conspirators - because who other than conspirators and disciples of the altogether wrong gods met in covens, with crimson robes and passwords like “swordfish”? - seemed to be waiting.
Relassi found out what they had been waiting for. A man appeared, a broad-chested, huge yet elderly man. He had a fussy white beard and a bold head. He wore the same crimson red robe, only his was embroidered by a black-and-gold dragon on his hind legs. Relassi recognized the man immediately. His name was Lupine Wonse, he had once been one of the religious advisors of King Cardith, before he had fallen from favour. Ever since then, Wonse had been infamously known for shouting out his prophecies and beliefs on the market places and trying to rouse a rabble that never, quite, seemed to be willing to follow him. Should such a wasted fool be a or even the ringleader of the Dragon Defiant? But as soon as Wonse opened his mouth, Relassi realized his fault. The speech the man delivered...that had nothing to do with the drunken failure on the markets. This...was a really dangerous demagog, right here and there. Even Relassi might have been willing to take up arms for Wonse, had he not known better. Fortunately, Relassi did know better. Wonse was preaching against the expansion, against the acceptance of orcs in the cities and - sacrilege! - against Cardith Lorda. The drunk on the market place...it was all a facade. Lupine Wonse was a betrayer of the worst sort, an usurper. And was it just him or was Wonse staring at him from time to time with eyes full of mad hate?
Just after Wonse had completed a specially grave block of lèse-majesté, however, the whole madness ended. And it was ended by a crossbow bolt, coming from a walkway on the left, hissing through the air like an enraged snake and embedding itself into Wonse’s traitorous skull. Then, hell broke loose.
Like all in hall, Relassi had looked up as soon as he had heard the distinctive hissing. There were people on the walkways now, clad in shades of grey. They were armed with crossbows, several of which now fired, killing apparently haphazardly among the crowd of redrobes.
Someone screamed: “THE CITY GUARD! THEY HAVE FOUND US! RUN!” And while Relassi was still thinking ”No, that’s not the city guard, the guard arrests people, not shoots them.” the crowd turned into a mob, shoving and running. Several savvy men removed stones from the righthand wall, revealing a secret tunnel. Relassi and his bodyguard found themselves trapped in the mass of bodies as the owners of the latter fled through the tunnel.
Some time later - Relassi later on could not tell wether they had spent seconds, minutes or hours in the underground passage - they found themselves in another warehouse.
“They apparently haven’t dared to follow us.” said a big centaur with a scar on his cheek. He probably had been an sergeant in the forces; he had a natural air of command and a voice that caused the scared crowd to go silent on the spot.
“But that won’t last forever. Our beloved leader Worde has died, fallen to the plots of the tyrant Lorda. But his memory shall live on, as shall we. We need a new leader now! A person capable to take up our fight. We must vote now, for we might not be able to met again for a long while. Suggestions?”
“You!” yelled a voice from the crowd. But the Centaur declined “I am a soldier, not leader. But at least I can propose someone better suited for the task: I propose...Lessuri Relassi, spokesman of the mage guild!”
All went silent. The Centaur beamed at him and all other eyes in the hall followed his example and focussed on Relassi, who felt as if in a dream. A very bad dream. He should become the leader of a group of militant traitors? He, of all people? His voice shaky of anxiety, he tried to talk his way out: “I am...honoured...but I can not...”
“Yes, you can, Master Relassi”, the Centaur interrupted, “besides there are no other candidates. WHO IS FOR MASTER RELASSI TO BECOME THE NEW LEADER OF THE DRAGON DEFIANT?” All hands shot up, probably because the minds they belonged to were still under shock.
Though presumably not as shocked as Relassi himself. But how could he get away now? He was chosen and the only way out would mean revealing his true sympathies. Which equalled suicide. No, better to accept and find a way out later.
*a tribute to Terry Pratchett
A trace of Dragon IV
The assembly was dissolved after he had given in and the conspirators vanished in small groups, one after the other.
Relassi however was led into another, smaller chamber by the Centaur.
The room was quite empty except for a big armchair.
“Well done, spokesman Relassi. You now officially are a traitor and a turncoat.” said a voice beside his ear. He’ld have swung around, had he not felt the pointy end of a crossbow brushing the samesaid ear. Suddenly, there was movement all around the room as half a dozen grey clad figures seemed to materialize all of a sudden. “Yeah, its astonishing how invisible once can become if one knows how to really stand still, isn’t it? And without any magic at all.” Said the voice again. The crossbow bolt was taken away and the speaker came into his view. It was a young, human woman with pitch-black hair and eyes. She wore shades of grey as well, but there was a golden scale dangling between her small breasts. A member of the Vanguard! The day was just getting madder and madder?
“That’s quite enough, Morvena.” Said another voice, this time one that Relassi had thought he knew very well.
From behind the armchair came his royal majesty, King Cardith Lorda, wearing dark grey but also a golden cloak.
Taking a seat in the armchair, the brownhaired king said to the stunned Relassi.
“I am sorry I can not offer you a second chair, dear spokesman. But then, Misses Black is right, you are traitor...”
“Your highness, please, I can explain all of this” began Relassi, but Lorda’s raised hand cut him of.
“There is nothing for you to explain, Relassi. Nothing I wouldn’t know already. You are a betrayer and an usurper.” There was that cold, hissing tone in the king’s voice. “But you are a betrayer with...let’s say my support and an usurper with royal permit. Within limits, of course.”
“My king, I...don’t understand.”
“No, I suppose you wouldn’t. Relassi, what you need to understand is: Every king has enemies. Every ruler has people who think they could do it better. Or who thin the world in itself would be better if the king, say, would loose a bit. His head, for example.” A cold smile disfigured Lorda’s face.
“Now, you can’t help that. Malcontents are inevitable in any society bigger than one. I am not a tyrant, so I won’t just butcher anyone who disagrees with me or my rule. But I am also not stupid, hence I obviously won’t allow an opposition to go unchecked. That is why I founded the Dragon Defiant.”
Relassi had been stunned. Now he was positively flabbergasted. “You...founded it? An organization to overthrow yourself?”
“Relassi, please, I just said I am not stupid.” answered Lorda. “No, I gave the late Lupine Wonse the order to found an opposition to give all the unhappy a forum. A place to debate. To concentrate the energy of their disagreement. “Who knows?” I thought “There might be useful ideas coming from that direction.” Of course, we had to stage Wonse’s fall to give him credibility. And at first, all went well indeed. But unfortunately, Mr. Wonse made a grave mistake after some time: He became ambitious. I had ordered him to set up an opposition, he turned it into a plot against me. He even ordered Misses Black and several of her...colleagues to assassinate me. Quite unsuccessful, of course, but still. Such behaviour I could not tolerate. I had to remove Wonse, but I could not do so before I had a replacement for him. After all, I could not allow his group to either disband or just vote someone of their liking.
I choose you. I won’t give you the reasons, you will find them out yourself. Under other circumstances, I would have preferred a less...spectacular way to enthrone you. But with the new developments with the Bannor, I had to hurry up. I had to force you a bit, I am afraid, by using various agents to help you along. Master Zassuri for example. Ah yes,and Misses Black was so kind as to pay you a nightly visit yesterday. You seemed to need a little more encouragement.”
“I would not have killed you anyways, Master Relassi,” said the blackhaired woman tauntingly, “but that binding spell was quite impressive nontheless.”
"To put it into a nutshell, Relassi, I want you to take charge of the opposition. Wonse was a religious man, but he choose to form a political - or semi-political - organization. I was against this, but I let him have his will. Which was a mistake, as I have to admit in retrospect. To you, howeverm, I’ld advise the opposite: You are a politician...so turn the Dragon Defiant into a religious group.” Said the King.
“A religious group?” asked Relassi, unbelieving.
“Yes, a religious group. Use your imagination, I know you have some. A cult. A Cult of Dragons, for example.”
There was silence as Lorda let his works sink in and Relassi tried to make sense of them. “Well,” said Cardith, “I have to go now. There is a delegation from the Bannor arriving in a few hours and I am afraid it would not be very diplomatic to greet them wearing this. You will be fine, Relassi, I am sure. Misses Black and her colleagues took care to eliminate all of Wone's lieutenants and captains with him. Without any unnessecary victims, I am given to understand. Besides, Master Zessuri will help you, as will the Centaur who proposed you. His name is Olwyne, he is one of my agents. You may ask him for advice should any questions occur. Just do yourself a favour and do not make the samemistake as poor, late Wone...”
->Cult of Dragons has been founded in Kwythellar
Phew, this has been a productive evening. Actually, I wrote it all in once. But it seemed all to big to post it just like that. I hope you like it, as well as my interpretation of a "darker" aspect of Cardith Lorda's rule. Keep in mind, he is an autocrat after all. (Just like Patrician Vetinari from Terry Pratchet's Discworld-novels, which is also why I build in several small nods in that direction.)
((OOC: Despite what the update said, no one knows of Athena's powers.))
Prelude to the March
"What? Me, command your expedition?" Athena looked over the Lord Commander's Aura and knew he was not insane, but she still tought of asking if he was anyway, so incredulous was the Knight at his words.
"Yes. I know your reputation from the Age of Rebirth. You were a great leader of men and women once, scoring victories against the Archos and Chislev in Old Mazrea. Your name wasn't listed as one of the great, but you still showed promise, as did I."
They were at the Main Keep of Warrior's Promise, conferring in a secure room. The Lord Commander had been accepting of her request, eager to see a fellow survivor from the Age of Rebirth.
"I've fallen out of practice since before I was part of the delegation to the Kahdi. Besides, do you really think my men will follow me? I have seen a hardness in them, and it is ice, not steel. They still fear what is outside of their conceptions of what should be, and those are not conceptions set by Junil."
"I know. I myself had to act quickly in order for them to shake the Hand's teachings off."
"It's not just the Hand. Remember what I said about that Councillor Pern and his xenophobes?"
"Yes, I do. You were forced to stay here because of their intriuges, yes?"
"Yes, and that's why I want you to-"
"And what if they don't accept me? You saw their gazes at me when I and my escort approached." And I saw more than harsh looks. Their souls were flaring with mistrust for me.
"All you have to do is prove yourself to them. Lead them to victory and they will give their loyalty to you."
"I hope you're right, I really hope so..."
Edit: Removed some Grammar errors.
Land of the Dead
Cualli scouts have reported stumbling upon a large valley, populated by the dead. Skeletons lumber across the dying grass and zombies stand in place, content to do nothing until prey arrives. What caused this land to become desecrated is unknown, but it is a dangerous threat if it should spread past this valley. Any attempts at colonizing this valley would end up in failure due to the growing numbers of dead. The valley is located to the West of the Cualli and it is advisable to avoid it unless you are looking for a fight.
Tension is beginning to mount between the Ljosalfar and Svartalfar. Both sides believe the other began the fire that consumed acres of trees, believing it to be an attack on the other that went wrong. While there has been no violence, the leaders of these nations are going to begin having trouble keeping their people in check, including keeping the will to do so.
The Tombslay Horde is beginning to withdraw from Nortek lands, finding the Goblins to be more of a threat than they first estimated. The different Clans of the Goblins had begun to specialize in different types of warfare, overwhelming the Horde's war mobs with numbers and experience. When the Mazatl threw their warriors into the fray against the Horde, it sealed the deal in that area of the continent. The Horde was last seen heading North, with the back of the Horde getting slowly picked off by Swiftkill Clan Goblins.
((OOC: My last story was an improvised job after I accidentally deleted my first draft. I hope this one's much better, though it may not mesh well with it.))
The March, Part One
She now had control over her Ether-given power to see into the emotions of others, and can turn it on and off at will. The Lord Commander had given her time to know the troops she must lead, and she now used it to make sure that when she did so, she did not experience the paranoia that assailed her when she saw the swirl of other's feelings for too long. Her fears about the feelings of her troops were still real, but she now knew how to deal with them, facing discontent with an even hand.
Others now gathered to her, people who were curious about the personage from the previous age that the Lord Commander had placed in command over them. She had been hesitant at first, but now moved to gain their company, which she knew would be valuable in the times ahead.
First was Iusos, a lieutenant in the 4th company. He was a kind and unassuming man, and his friendship had been easy to gain once she reached out. Second was Serena, a scholar from Eagle's Peak with some knowledge of Demons. Third was Adrian, an Archer who had risen up in the ranks because of an impressive number of kills against orcs. They had given her advice on how to adapt to her circumstances, and to make the best of them.
"Not all of them are afraid, my Lady. In fact, some of them are just curious, in the good kind of way." Lieutenant Iusos had said that when she first told him about her misgivings. A further use of her power had proven his assumption to be true, and her esteem for him had risen as a result. Now, she was more at ease with her command than the Lord Commander had hoped for, and the day of their departure had passed without incident.
Food was plenty for a long time during the march, as there was a regular line of supply between the Bannor cities and the force. There were a few skirmishes against the undead forces the Lord Commander talked about, but no sign of the demon who had raised them. Then, as they reached the boundaries of the Grasslands east of Bannor lands, things changed.
A large number of the Vanguard was found slain, not by the undead or the Demon, but by orcish blades (or so Adrian had told her, drawing from his experience with the greenskins). Shortly after, they came upon a camp manned by the survivors of the slaugther, and heard of a large force heading their way, several barbarian tribes allying with local slavers to create an army that could rival her's in time.
Now, apprehension washed over the army. With her ability to see the emotions of others, Athena was able to see the ebb and flow of the army's feelings. She knew that if she could win this battle, the loyalty of those under her command can be earned, and earned well. Then, perhaps the Lord Commander's expectations will be proven right...
Separate names with a comma.