Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Penny
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The Music swirled over Fabled Tindar. Fabled Tindar that had been lost in the midst of time and legend but that lived in the songs and nursery rhymes and in the fever dreams of poets and madmen. Masked dancers swirled across the marble floored great hall in odd intricate dances, the couples intersected to form complicated patterns of swirling silk and flashing teeth carried on by the music in their ecstatic reverie. The great hall was immense, a hundred meters wide with columns of marble decorated with intricate friezes depicting dancers seeming to swirl up them like smoke till the detail was lost in the source-less gloom above. The weird light that illuminated the room did not seem to come from any one place, but almost to congeal from the air like a luminescent miasma. In the distance the gentle crash of waves could be heard in the rare lulls of the music, though the air carried no scent of salt or sea. Rather it seemed redolent with spices and strange night time lotus flowers that one sometimes catches a hint of on tropical breezes driven of equatorial jungles.

At one end of the great hall the musicians stood or sat at their instruments. There were a dozen of them, each a master of his or her art and dressed in a variety of styles and customs that would have baffled a scholar. Their hands moved as one with clockwork precision as they produced the same haunting melody in a deliberate discordance which seemed to make the music shimmer and hum as though alive. Julliete stood playing her gold chased lute with the same eerie perfection, her fingers moved, but her arms, body and even her eyes were locked in place, unable to move so much as a twitch. That didn't stop her fingers from hurting. Despite the callouses that resulted from years of practice they were already raw and tender. In that regard she was better than the strangely garbed viol player whose fingertips bled as he plucked his own instrument. She didn't quite recall how she had come to this place. She had a vague impression of playing a song for some villagers at one of their rude rural celebrations. As some times happened when she played she had lost herself in the music, improvising and improving the tune as she went until she reached something so complex and sublime that it approached perfection. Then she remembered a darkly clad man approaching her... and now she was here. Here in fabled Tindar.

At the other end of the hall sat a trio of thrones. Each of the thrones was made of stone, elaborately engraved with gold and other precious metals. Each was high backed to a height of sever or eight feet with fanning protrusion that drifted into arabesques of eerie and unsymmetrical form that made the view feel queasy to behold. Upon each of the thrones sat an androgynous figure, tall and slender and garbed in layers of silk that appeared ragged, yet had been layered to a perfection that could only have been deliberate. Every inch of the figures was swathed in the silk, save for the featureless white masks which covered their faces and the long wispy veils which concealed their eyes. Somehow Juliette knew that she didn't want to see the faces they concealed beneath those mask and beneath those veils, but she could no more look away than she could cease playing. The dancers swirled on in their endless procession. Juliette focused her mind, worked as hard as she could to make herself blink, to miss a note, anything at all to disrupt her utter inability to exercise any control. Her music continued, perfect and unchanging.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by POOHEAD189
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Cascading rain piddled upon the wet road, filling the hoof prints left behind by the galloping steed. A caterwaul of wind rose higher and higher in the forlorn sky, as if the Gods themselves wished woe upon the Knight that made all haste. The trees of the Vatherlund Forest stood dark among the cacophony of the storm, save when lightning flashed in the distance and drew shadows across the leaves, giving the impression of leering, baleful faces staring at the cavalier, awaiting to rip him off of Lycurgus with their claw-like branches. No doubt a bard or a poet would have quite enjoyed that turn of phrase, but Torm was a bit too stubborn and single minded to pause on scenery. He knew there was little time to dally, and he drove his large Destrier faster along the rode, his steed's head rearing up like a serpent about to strike.

Another flash. The castle came into sight among the foothills to the east, terrible in its baroque and alien design. Whatever it was, it was kept by man nor orc, or fey witch. Looming almost into the cloudline, or so it looked from the ground, he couldn't imagine anyone resided in the thin spire. The stories told to him by the serfs had explained they would be in the great hall among the court of the Three Counts of Crimson.

Lycurgus's hoof beats suddenly became audible as they went from mud to cobblestone, passing the broken gateway and entered through the arch left in the wall. Even in the dark, Torm saw it looked much like any abandoned castle yard. A smithy to the right and a stables that fed into an undercropping was on the left, with a broken wagon and tossed about pails and tools, showing signs of a hasty retreat. Were the stories to be believed, he knew the retreat was not likely successful. He took no more than a moment to see before he kicked Lycurgus into a hard gallop, leaping over the wagon and barreling forward toward the great hall's doors, praying to the Evergod and bracing for impact.

With a screeching crash and a powerful whinny from Lycurgus, the doors were sundered and thrown open in the midst of what Torm could only describe as a masquerade from hell. It felt alien and utterly wrong in its atmosphere. The knight could see the dancers and musicians were continuing to play without so much as skipping a beat, rhythmically moving as if on a madman's strings. Had anyone deigned to look, they would see ne'er but a cloaked figure upon a horse, soaked from the tip of his nose, the only part visible on his face, to his traveling boots just below the cloaks trim. As it were, no humans looked his way. Only those three monsters atop the thrones, and their servants standing at attention. He could see none of their faces, but he felt their eyes on him, boring into his brain to search for any sign of weakness.

One of the servants, something robed in indigo with its face masked by a jester mask made of iron, welded onto whatever had once been its face. It approached him, sword at the ready as it tilted its head. The mask leered at him, smiling with an eerie calm. Five strides away...three strides...

Its sword, a thin arming sword made for dueling, whipped out to cut Lycurgus' throat. But the warhorse was too well trained, dancing back and putting Torm in line. It would look almost like magic when the Knight brought his flanged mace to bear from within his cloak, bringing it down into the head of the servant with a hard crunch that even dented the top of its iron mask. The others would watch as the servant's body dropped noiselessly to the ground, none moving. All stared from within their masks as the Knight dismounted calmly, placing the reins back upon Lycurgus's powerful neck. He bent down and removed the hood from the corpse, unsurprised when he saw the servant had simply been a body that had long rotted, with blackened and bloated skin where there was any, and bone where there wasn't.

It was then the music had stopped with a wave of the one of the Count's hands, and all was dead still when the interloper raised himself once again. He unhooded himself, his hair thick and brown, and his wolfish face well formed and unmarred by his hard life of travel.

"Make your prayers to your dark Gods, fiends. Tonight, your court ends."
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Hidden 10 days ago Post by Penny
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Julliette felt her hand freeze in accordance to the wishes of the Count of Tindar, his will silencing the musicans as absolutely as it compelled them to play. The knight stalked across the dancefloor with his mace held ready. The dancers began to circle him like sharks circling a wounded orca, they feighted in and out, skipping out of range of blows from the weapon almost mockingly. The circle moved with the advancing knight, not impeding his progress but threatening it, promising swift death or worse than death with the slightest mistep. Julliette focused all her will, tried to force her body to move, but it was still a useless endeavor. As the knight neared the throne the two robed figures flanking the Count rose in the same eerie unison as the dancers, but the Count made an obscure gesture and stood up. Despite seeming of a height with his companions a moment ago, he now seemed to tower over them like a grown man over children. An aura of palpable rage washed over Julliette and to her amazement her left eye blinked of her own volition.

"You were a fool to come here without an invitation mortal worm," a voice as ancient and terrible as the bottom of the sea sounded in her mind, seeming to come from all directions while still originating with the Count. Julliette could not have said what language he spoke in save that it wasn't common and she understood it as perfectly as she understood that fire was hot.

"Take him," the Count commanded to the dancers with a contemptuous flick of his wrist. With a howl of dammned souls the dancers rushed in heedless of the danger of the knights weapon, perhaps even eager for the oblivion that it might promise. Abruptly Julliette could move. The lute fell from her neveless fingers and struck the ground with a tuneless thunk which might have been the sweetest sound she had ever produced with it. With the speed of someone who had spent subjective lifetimes planning what she would do, if only she were freed from the enchantment, she seized the harp which stood on a pedestal of antediluvian marble and hurled the gold and silver chased instrument into the crowd of dancers surrounding the knight, its heavy edge crunching into the press like a bludgeon.

Most of the musicians didn't react to her sudden outburst, but the conductor of the dammned ensemble turned and stretched a finger out towards her, flesh fell from the digit to reveal aged and cracked bone beneath and Juliette danced back, snatching a viol from the bleeding hands of another musician and smashing it against the conductor in a shower of kindling that seemed to blow the disarticulated bones of the creature across the hall like chaff before the wind. Screaming in terror she leaped from the dias where the musicans watched in vacant eyed non interest and grabbed for a sword clutched by an ancient suit of armor, pulling it free and sending the metal tumbling to the ground in discordant cacophony.
Hidden 5 days ago Post by POOHEAD189
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The Knight pivoted on his foot, swinging a backhanded swing that broke the collarbone of a cloaked fiend. He expected a squeal of pain, but the figure simply buckled under the blow, trying to swing a shortsword. Fortunately the fiend's arm did not complete its swing before the figure collapsed, floundering like a fish on the floor. It would have been sad if it was a normal man, but whoever followed this count was undeserving of mercy.

As he swung and struck the thing, another assailant darted in swinging a club. Torm turned and raised his shield to block, parrying the blow before another swing of a cudle knocked the mace out of his weapon hand. It flipped in mid air and landed far in the background. Torm shieldrushed the fiend he blocked, knocking it off its feet as the others rushed in, sensing weakness. It was impressive with which the speed Torm unsheathed his Aculeus longsword, crucifix-hilted and robust of blade. Double fullered to make it lighter with a strong center suitable for cutting, it gently transitioned to a lenticular cross section at the last third of the blade.

Needless to say, the first two attackers that got within range were cut down with one great swing. Torm felt the familiar resistance of the blade biting through bone and flesh. Had they been armored with more than cloth, it might have taken a bit more effort, but Torm was young and strong, full of vigor. His next stabbed missed, the fiend ducking under the jab. Instead Torm redirected his momentum and brained it with the circular pommel of his sword. The thing fell like a poleaxed ox, his field of view now more clear when the figure fell out of his vision. Torm suddenly realized a young, lithe woman was in the courtroom, acting unlike the others. He saw her scream and tear an old arming sword off the archaic suit on the wall. He recognized her as one of the musicians when he'd entered. She'd broken the spell!

"Lycurgus!" He cried, the word not even fully escaping his lips before he felt the rumble of shodden hooves. Cloaked men and women were trampled by the destrier as the warhorse charged to his master. Torm slid his shield out of his arm and lashed it to the saddle. He clicked his tongue twice as the 1,500 pound horse reared up. With a whinny, it shot forward through the crowd, knives and cudgles not nearly enough to seriously harm a beast with such mass, particularly while it was garbed in a modicum of armor itself.

"Take the shield and get on the horse!" He called across the court to her, swiping his blade two handed like a whirlwind of steel, keeping the servants and dancers at bay. He'd taken a vow to always honor a lady in need, and it rubbed him the wrong way when some of the female dancers sent knives at his throat. He would need to confess to a cleric once this was all over, and reluctantly he ran one through with his sword. The Count's mood was palpable, a pressure buzzing in the air from his displeasure at his servant's lack of success.

"Come to me..." He ordered, gnarled hands turned to face upwards, fingernails half as long as daggers raised as he beckoned. Immediately Torm felt a thrilling, inexorable call in his mind to fall to his knees. To be subjugated. That all of his dreams and desires would come true in perfect harmony and beautiful music if he but give in. He nearly dropped his blade, backing up from the advancing horde that menaced him as he fought his inner battle.

"Gods be with me!" He moaned in denial, breaking through slowly. Too slowly.
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