Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Cyclone
Raw
GM
Avatar of Cyclone

Cyclone

Member Seen 18 days ago

Hanuzeth’s Flight

Somewhere in the Arcosi Hinterlands
Early Spring, 315 P.F.





A fresh wave of pain pulsed through the warlock’s fevered head. Hanuzeth clutched at the stinking bandage wrapped about his gouged navel with his left hand, while the right tightened into a fist so hard that it hurt as he grimaced from the searing throb of his headache. No, no, the feeling in his fist was just a phantom, for the abomination had knocked off his whole right arm just as it’d burnt out his eye...and he’d been one of the ones with better luck. The thought of that one human, the one called Faculus, and his grisly end of being incinerated was enough to make even the hardened orc spit up a glob of bloody phlegm in revulsion.

Memories of the abomination that’d taken Kalitra’s shape thrust their way into his mind unwanted, and even just the memories of the being’s blinding radiance made the pupil of his remaining eye shrink, and the heat in his head grow that much more unbearable. With a gasp, the warlock fell to his knees and doused his head in the cool water underfoot. He could only hope that trudging upstream through this creek would be enough to throw off his scent for the hounds. The going was hard; only an orc like him was sturdy enough to trudge on like this for days, half-starved and crippled, but his pursuers were relentless.

And yet even orcs felt fatigue and pain, and his endurance was rapidly waning. It wasn’t just a question of willpower, for he had enough of that and he knew that he ran now for his very life, but one of his body’s limits. Death was near; an orc’s nose was sharp, but anyone would have been able to smell the reek of his gut-wound and know that the bowels were festering. It was a slow and horrid and sure way to die.

Mercifully, a rocky outcrop rose from the wooded side of the creek. Sour sweat was already burning and blurring his one good eye again, but he still was able to make out a small and shadowy recess in the stone face. He staggered closer, and much to his relief the hole indeed was the entrance to a damp and muddy cavity. He crawled into the darkness within, letting it wrap and hide him like the ragged cloak he wore. His first thoughts were of slumber and rest, but his hunger gnawed and his belly screamed and his head thrummed like a fiery anvil... in that state, perhaps he was only hallucinating when he heard what sounded like distant shouting. Or perhaps that really was his pursuers, the sounds of their voices carrying over the water of the creek. Hanuzeth spat again. He was in no shape to fight, but he still had one weapon left.

He tore off the filthy cloak that he’d stolen from Lucion’s mountain estate -- the thing had once been lavish and supple, but was now ragged and crusty from the blood and mud that caked it -- and cast it aside that the one arm left to him could fumble at the pouches about his belt and in his pants. He’d had the foresight to seize some reagents before his own flight, and a warlock was wise to always carry a few things besides. He had everything -- except perhaps for time -- to work a ritual yet.

His eye was only half-adjusted to the cave’s gloom, but he tore through the pouches with burning purpose and urgency, working as much by feel and smell as by sight. He sought a pouch of salt: the quintessence of earth and purity, worldly power made crystal. He poured the precious grains out of the pouch and formed a rough circle of them to contain the magic. This was the first thing that he had learned long ago -- a warlock who failed to take such precautions was not wont to live long. Now, in his situation, such precaution and worry seemed trivial and pointless -- but of habit if not intent, he’d made the salt circle anyhow. He procured the chalks and other things, and began to array them about the circle and draw the glyphs of power. His shaking hand tore into the earth underfoot in the center of the circle, digging out a depression that he filled with strange herbs and rocks the color of bile and blood that burnt and reeked of infernal power -- the stuffs of Hell, made manifest. This was as close to a ritual brazier as he could get. Hanuzeth fumbled and struggled striking flintstones for far too long before he got a spark that caught, but then a flame was suddenly alight inside the middle of the circle.

One more thing.

Procuring another rock, a razor-sharp chunk of black glass gathered from the foot of the Basalt Tower in Arugoth, Hanuzeth moved to cut his other palm...only the other hand was gone. Cursing, the orc could only clench his one fist about the rock and squeeze until its cold edge bit into his palm. Only when the obsidian’s kiss gave way to the warm and sticky feel of blood did the fevered warlock drop the makeshift ritual knife. He outstretched his arm above the brazier, and then let his foul blood drip into the fire. He began chanting the words as smoke and heat filled the cave.




The brisk chill of morning had subsided and given way to the warmer encroachment of noon, and as Sir Luci looked up towards the position of the sun in the sky he closed his eyes to let what few warming rays existed nestle within his fiery mane. His horse whinnied a little, clearly impatient to move, but with a firm hand he steadied it and inhaled deeply through his nose--and immediately his eyes shot towards the creek burbling in the background.

“See if the hounds can catch the scent. I can smell the rot of his wound lingering in the air--they should be able to track him down. Hurry, lad!”

The words left his mouth but his face remained turned towards the light of the sun, and his eyes remained closed. Voices chattered in the background, punctuated by the occasional bark or snarl, and the telltale clambering of scurrying templars and their squires made plain the nature of the chase that was about to unfold: an orc was about to be slain. The question in Sir Luci’s mind was simply how many it would take to fell their quarry, and who precisely those men should be.

With a ponderous sigh Sir Luci climbed off of his horse and hit the ground with a resounding thud, the likes of which only proper armour could provide--and it was this sound that caught the ears of the small contingent of men sent to track down the orc and caused them to swivel on the spot to direct their senses at the man. He raised a gloved hand and beckoned to a shorter man, who quickly rushed his way over with leashed hounds in tow. He pointed in the direction the creek’s waters flowed from and the man loosed his grip on the frayed ropes his knuckles had grown white from gripping. The hounds set immediately to work, sniffing the ground and the air, and as they began their animalistic inspection of the area the knights gathered together to discuss their plan of action.

“He is tiring. Their kind have limits, and from the smell in the air his have been reached. A desperate orc is like a desperate hound--except this hound is a warlock, and his savage magic almost certainly awaits us. Now that death is close, he has no price left to bargain with but his life, and in these moments truly terrible things can be wrought.”

The auburn-haired knight kept his voice strong throughout the speech, but as he continued to observe the men he noticed the squires had turned as pale as milk and that even his fellow knights’ hands were white from squeezing so hard on the pommels of their swords. His speech stopped there and he grunted loudly at the squires, walking towards them and raising their chins with his hand so they were forced to look him in the eye.

“You knew that the Argent Vigil hunts down witches and other monstrosities. You knew that we would be exposing ourselves to this risk. What is it that you’re scared of, lad? Speak up!”

The knight’s voice raised like a crescendo until he was just shy of shouting, and the squire he’d stopped at last began to awkwardly stammer out words just to deflect the heat of his gaze.

“... b-but it’s an orc, sir! An orc warlock, and as d-d-dangerous as they c-come, like you said! W-what do we do if he curses us, o-or…”

But the boy’s words were stopped short by Sir Luci lowering himself down to the lad’s height and bearing down upon him with the full force of his authority.

“Kill him on sight. Do not bargain with him, do not listen to his words. Your body is a blade of our Exalted god, and you must hone your edge to strike him down without mercy or hesitation. The smell of sulfur indicates an appeal to the hells, noxious herbs indicate potency, and blood indicates that you are too late to stop what is happening. I tell you these things not because I expect you to approach this situation with nuance or caution, but because the second that any of these things become known to you you must do as His commandments say and end the threat at any cost, including your own life.”

Sir Luci’s focus was interrupted then by the still-close barking of hounds, and his footsteps away from the group of men were punctuated by the gnashing of teeth and the light clinking of metal.

“To arms, men! The hunt begins!”




The warlock squinted into the brazier in a trance as the long-memorized words tumbled from his listing mouth, the bastard tongue of his distant tribe mixing with words from the Black Tongue of the Chernobog and his Scions of old, and even with queerer and crueler words whose meaning had been forgotten by all save the demons. The orc was soon drenched in sweat. The smoke made his head whirl...perhaps it was sickness from not enough good air, perhaps it was something in the herbs. He heard many strange sounds through the crackling of the flames: there was something like shouting, the braying of dogs, but also something else: the faroff sounds of wailing and screams, but distorted as though by water. Slowly, shapes began to take form within the flames. The warlock looked through the fiery gate and saw into a realm that mortal eyes were not meant to see; there was a fortress nestled upon the shores of an ocean of boiling fire, and in this black fortress there was a throne, and upon it sat a monstrous lord...and this demon saw him, too.

Though the sight of the monstrous being upon the throne was blurred by the orc’s watery eye and the writhing flames and the smoky haze about the dim cave, it was still a bloodcurdling one. The devil’s hulking form was like a mountain, its cruel visage crowned with jet horns, and its torso emblazoned with a glowing scar that wept fiery blood. Despite the brazier’s heat, and icy chill lanced its way into Hanuzeth’s spine, for never before had he chanced to commune with a demon so terrible as this one.

”Hear me, O Lord of Shadow and Flame,” the warlock murmured.

”I hear your quivering voice, worm.”





Sir Luci found himself standing atop a rocky outcropping, flanked by two distinct sources of whimpering on either side. Only slightly further back were the hounds, who were yelping and pawing at their noses frenziedly as if to urge whatever they had smelled back to whence it came--and the green eyes of the knight turned to his squires once each in turn, blazing with disappointment.

“The hounds, I understand. They are base creatures who know not of a higher calling, led by instinct alone--but you are to one day be ordained knights! Sworn followers of the Exalted god! If you cannot stomach the stench of brimstone and rot how will you hunt down the monstrosities that they herald, hmm?” As he spoke he grabbed the two squires by the scruffs of their necks and pulled them in close, his upper lip quivering in barely restrained frustration, and threw them back with enough force that they stumbled to the very edge of the rock upon which they stood.

“Let the others know the beast is here. I shall kill it myself.”

The knight pushed into the small nook, his eyes immediately beginning to water from the acrid smoke, and took a half-second to steel himself before he trudged further in. He heard a voice, and though the tongue was guttural and feverish he knew from its tone that it was one of beseeching. They had been too late to stop the ritual, he knew, but anything that they did manage to conjure was universally easy to put down in the moments immediately proceeding the ritual. He strode forward, not quite breaking into a run, and drew his sword from its sheath as he walked through a billowing cloud that somehow seemed to separate him from the rest of the room--and, indeed, from the world outside.

His eyes scanned more carefully, barely able to see thanks to the blinding smog, but quickly adjusted enough to make out the silhouette of the warlock’s rapidly deteriorating form. He did not make a sound, save for the gentle pats of his footfalls against the rock, and his sword remained poised at his side to strike. He continued further and further towards his prey, sidling against the edge of the rock, until he was just out of range to strike.

Above the dying embers of a small fire there was a gloomy haze that seemed to devour light, yet in the shadow’s heart there was not a void of utter blackness. Instead there was a glassy window that peered into another realm, and through that smoking gate there was the sight of a horror climbing to its feet, rising from its infernal throne. And then the horrific entity began to march forward with purpose, seeming to grow larger with every breath!

Time began to crawl, each heartbeat feeling like an hour. From outside the cave there came a great rush of wind that poured into the cavity, almost as though nature itself sought to cleanse the smoke and fumes and seal shut the gash that had been rendered into the fabric of reality. The portal was akin to some great maelstrom drinking in the very sea and draining it into the belly of the world, only this ravenous maw would not content itself with just the ocean. It sucked and drank with a growing voracity that suggested it would never stop until all had been broken down into nothingness and drained away, all the last crumbles of existence swallowed into that nightmarish realm.

The buffeting winds surging through the portal pushed against the advancing monster, and the fierce resistance reduced its menacing march forward into a slow stagger. The world itself tried to defy this horrific and unnatural magic, to close the portal and drive back the aberration that walked through the brazen path. The flensing wind pushed and tore at the monster, ripping off little chunks of its form and making it bleed smoke and ash from the resulting hemorrhages, but still the demon pressed on. Though the wind seemed to oppose the demon’s form, it did not put out the unholy light emblazoned upon its breast -- that glowing rune carved into its flesh burned brighter with every moment and every step it took down the tunnel. It was as though that flaming glyph was the fire of a forge and the mighty gale was its bellow! The mark grew brighter and brighter until the rest of the demon’s shadowy form was entirely drowned out by its radiant glow, and then that light became so bright that it was painful to look upon.

Only then did the orc avert his eye’s intense gaze from the gateway and notice the knight standing near the mouth of the cavern, blocking the light from outside. “You come too late,” the warlock laughed in a broken and thickly accented version of the knight’s language. “Demon is almost here!”

Sir Luci of the Argent Verdict did not answer or think or pause, he charged. The warlock narrowed his eye in disbelief for a moment, thinking that this fool of a human meant to run into the salt circle and challenge the demon, but then Hanuzeth realized that the Templar’s blade and footsteps and eyes were all pointed at him. With a start, he twisted his body over and crawled on his belly two or three feet to wrap his hand around the jagged rock of obsidian. The glassy black stone was still wet and slippery with his own blood, but the warlock’s grip was true as he rolled over and hurled it at Luci’s face at the last moment, a mere breath’s time before the paladin was atop him.

Hanuzeth scrambled awkwardly backward as fast as a one-armed cripple could, whilst Luci reeled back and stumbled with a new crimson gash on his cheek to match his fiery head and mane. It wasn’t enough, of course. Hanuzeth had tried to round the salt circle, placing the portal and the incoming demon squarely between him and Luci, but he was too slow. The knight found his footing and closed the distance in two strides, salt grains crunching underfoot as he stepped upon the circle to do it. He slashed at the orc’s throat with his sword, and Hanuzeth’s clumsy attempt to roll away was slow and resulted in the naked steel burying itself into his jaw. The knight wrenched his blade free, cutting as it went back, and a well of blood gushed from the bottom of the orc’s already maimed and hideous visage. Luci raised his sullied blade and made to thrust it down into the warlock’s black heart, but then he was suddenly blind and coughing.

The howling wind that had been pouring into the cave and down into the fiery gate had abruptly stopped, and now there was a blast of air that emanated from the portal. It was broiling hot, like the blast of a furnace or the all-consuming breath of the firedrakes of yore, and on its back it carried soot and ash. A sulfurous haze came next, its reek of brimstone accented by that of blood and burnt flesh.

The demon had clambered into the world of Outremer, and even though the smoke that filled the warlock’s den also served to shroud its formless body of burning darkness, the horror’s profane and utterly wrong presence was palpable. The cave was now lit only by the glowing mark upon the demon’s chest, for the smoke and haze was so thick that it blocked the sunlight that had been filtering in from outside. Sir Luci tried to stumble out towards the mouth of the cavern, where there was light and air and life, but he was horribly disorientated and dizzily collapsed to his knees. The distant shouting of the other men outside wafted into the cave, but any help or salvation was a world away.

An appendage sprung out of the smoke, grasping claws at the end, sharp nails aiming right for Luci’s throat. Yet the demon’s claw never made contact, and instead the blinded knight merely had his head showered with sparks -- the warlock’s glyphs and ring of salt had conjured some sort of barrier, and when the claw had tried to pass over the salt it had been repelled by some unseen force.

Hanuzeth wheezed as he lay prone on the muddy floor, dying from the vicious cut of Luci’s blade even though he was spared from the worst of the portal’s effects; the poisoned air and soot that billowed from the portal was hot, and so it rose and spilled out of the cavern and left him some respite as he lay with his fevered head touching the cool earth. The orc’s mouth was filled with blood, and he spat and coughed up globs of it until he could speak. He peered into the ritual circle and caught the demon’s smoldering gaze, and then slurred out something in an unknowable language. The monster seemed to only scoff at the pleading tone of the warlock’s words, for it didn’t deign to answer. Instead it cast its gaze towards the ring of salt and uttered a single terrible word, and then there was a blast of hellish air that radiated outwards. The infernal wind eroded the circle, though not every grain of salt was blown free from the damp and muddy floor. The circle’s crude shape yet remained, and the demon roared its defiance even as it seemed to pant in exertion and as its rune’s bright glow seemed to dim. But then its carmine eyes, glowing like hot coals, fixated upon a tiny gap in the circle: the place where Sir Luci’s foot had fallen mere moments ago.

Once more it cried out that horrible word and summoned a dark power, ”Chernobog!”

The burning scar upon the demon’s chest faded even more, but a second blast of wind was conjured to blow away the ring of salt. The gap widened around the place where the knight’s foot had fallen, and Kalkoroth Goredrinker passed through.
1x Like Like
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
Raw
Avatar of ZAVAZggg

ZAVAZggg Sok Il-Seong

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

~Tarr'kash~




Early Spring, 315 P.F.
~Oldcross~




Tarr'kash would have been lying if he said he didn't enjoy the walk back to Oldcross, it had been so long since he'd strode across the earth that the feeling as he did so now had become downright euphoric, but he would have loved it more if it was trafficked by his creations like in the old days. Still, what he had now would have to do, until he got fresh subjects that is. Speaking of subjects, the scion had been pondering logistics these last couple of hours, going over ways he could not only secure his position here in the Maw but ways to conquer new holdings as well. It hadn't exactly been the most successful of his mental ventures, however, for though the population of Oldcross itself, most of which he'd robbed of sanity and set fleeing back to the his citadel in the Maw, would serve well as a rudimentary defense force, he knew it wouldn't last in the long run. Not if he sought to return to making larger abominations or, father willing, siege engines. No, he'd need a lot more biomass for that, but that brought him back round to the very same problem once again, that being the question of where he should even get it from. The world of man had changed greatly since his imprisonment, this much he was certain he knew, for only a fool would assume the maggots capable of maintaining any manner of prolonged stagnancy. Only problem was figuring out in what ways.

Had they built massive cities during all those years he spent locked away? And if so, where were they specifically? Furthermore, how well trained and equipped was your average soldier now compared to their ancestors from back in the olden days? Had they grown better or worse following the war's end? And lastly, what was their political climate like? The last time they'd met, they'd been united as one against him, father, and the others. Singular in purpose under the banner of their accursed White God. Did that faith still hold fast, even now? Or had it grown brittle and weak, becoming nothing more than the convenient tool of power hungry kings. Luckily for him many of these questions were answered upon him taking the briefest of peeks into his new servant's mind, though the worm seemed completely devoid of knowledge when it came to more militarily minded things, which was quite bothersome. Still, he supposed all was not yet lost...

Coming to their end of the Five Mile Walk, Tarr'kash bid Ernald pause as he beckoned to a small wooden cart laden with ore sitting just a few feet ahead, one which was currently being tended to by a muttering and clearly insane old man.

"Take the cart north to Paterdomus."

The scion clasped his hands behind his back as he peered off into the distant horizon, as though the very walls of the holy city itself were laid bare before him.

"You are to finish your work when you arrive, for through your words shall my will be done."

Ernald nodded, though he looked at the cart with the tinniest flash of concern.

"As you wish, but if I may be so bold..."

The scholar felt his mouth go dry as the ancient being gave him a sideways glance, and decided he would choose his next words very carefully in order to avoid incurring the scion's wrath.

"How will we get in? I do not presume to question your will, or choice of servant, but surely they will see the blessing he has been bestowed—he gave a slight nod in the direction of the old man—and deny us entry."

"I shall temper his blessing so that you may enter," he said, tucking his gauntleted hands into his sleeves. "Now, dress yourself and do as I command."

Nodding his assent, Ernald rushed back to his hut to get clothed before clambering his way into the cart alongside the old man, who was still muttering, just not enough to be considered anything more than your average senile coot. Before long the two were carving their way down the dusty old road, eventually vanishing from sight past one of its many bends.

Tarr'kash felt a smile slowly slither its way across his face.

All according to plan...
1x Laugh Laugh
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Lauder
Raw
Avatar of Lauder

Lauder The drunk kind of hero

Member Seen 0-12 hrs ago

Dreams

Early Spring of the year 315 P.F.





Language.

Batuul had not realized how much division simple linguistics would cause to her people, how much language seemed to be a unifying force. She never had to deal with it causing division to her as most orcs knew how to speak the common tongue, at least in some capacity, but now it seemed that it was completely foreign to them. Her own words were understood in perfect clarity by them, and such was the same that her ears understood every little word uttered by the lesser orcs, such was the nature of black speech and being a scion of Chernobog. Yet for the life of her, she could not understand how to solve the issue, especially when she already understood the two as clear as water.

Luckily, Bula and Bolag’s spat had devolved into snarling and grunting, with lots of aggressive body language involved, things Batuul could understand how to solve. After hearing the two try to assert either one as the more dominant over the other, Batuul stepped between them and silently looked between the two of them with a face of anger and rage. The two backed down once more as the matron made her presence known, a simple grunt coming from her as she stabbed her spear into the ground. Batuul brought her arms up, gesturing for either of them to challenge her, wordlessly making them aware that she was not afraid to bring them down if she had to.

“I do not care where an orc is from,” Batuul growled, looming over Bolag for a brief moment before turning to Bula and continuing, “And I certainly don’t care about your bickering.”

She let out a huff as she looked to the sky, noticing that it had grown darker and the sun was close to setting on the hilly countryside of Calesbail. While Batuul was certainly not truly tired, her divine connection to Chernobog made sure she could go a long while without sleep, she was never able to get good sleep while imprisoned by the White One. Looking back at Bula, she stepped to the side and said, “I want you to learn his southern speech, I don’t want to teach Black Speech to a bunch of pissants right now.”

As Batuul turned to walk towards a small tree, Bula stepped forward and said “My matron, this bea-”

Batuul let out a roar as she turned on her heel, silencing the lesser matron into submission and shooting a look of impatience to Bolag and the other warlocks. With that issue dealt with, the massive form of the orc sat under the tree and folded her arms across her chest as she looked over the small warband. They were looking back at her, not that she cared. She let out a sigh and leaned her head back against the wood of the tree, and watched the sky slowly turn black and fill with the light of the stars. Never had she thought that she was going to miss the darkness of the night, remembering the blinding white lands that she had been trapped in. It had been brighter than anything that she had seen, it had been so bright that it went through her eyelids whenever she tried to rest. At least now, in the comforts of the mortal plane once more, she would be able to find that little bit of rest.

Her eyes grew heavier as she began to relax until eventually the darkness enveloped her, the feeling of sleep finally taking her after all the centuries.

At first, there was nothing.
Then, the shadow of sleep parted and Batuul found herself in the midst of a vision.

She stood at the base of a tremendous mound, mountainous in proportion - a heap of broken and torn human bodies. Women, children, the eldery, fools and kings had all been piled here indiscriminately and visited upon by ruination itself. Their blood ran like mountain streams, forming great rivers that wound into the indiscernible distance, their tails meeting the horizon and staining the whole of the world a crimson pitch.

Atop the mound was a pyroclastic plume. Human screams of untold anguish intertwined with howling maelstrom winds. Burning embers, sooty ash, and the scent of brimstone saturated the air like snowfall, fluttering all about Batuul and the heap of charnel. All this destruction and death, it brought joy to her heart as the dream of fulfilling the ambitions of Chernobog filled her every emotion. With her wicked spear in hand and her hands feeling the blood of an untold many upon her, she let out a hearty laugh, her own voice joining the chorus of screams that surrounded her. It was the same feelings she had before she had been imprisoned by the White God, before the humans could muster any defense against her rage and brutality.

Even as she reveled in the cacophony of human suffering intermingled with fiery consumption, the pyroclastic winds seemed to shift and swirl. Atop the mound of bodies, the incandescent flume seemed to part - and rising from the peak of the throne of death, guttering forth like shadowed clouds from the mouth of an eruption, came a jagged and ineffably darkened form. It rose and stretched itself up and outwards, arms that were pitch-hued ravines torn in the sky unfurling almost like wings. Great ribbons of dribbling blood-red magma seeped from that monolithic darkness’ bowels and ribs, a dusken and ruddy light boiling over uncounted multitudes of human faces that dissolved and intermingled into a mosaic of misshapen, pain-wracked expression. Silhouetted vapors of their screaming countenances rose like specters, spiraling about the towering immensity that continued to billow forth from the peak of the mountain of death.

A great brow rose at the peak of that unequaled abyss in the sky. An inky tree of cruel brambles and crags shot out from it, a crown of stygian veins taking root in the heavens - and as the pale and guttering light of the whirling tapestry of human suffering veiled that dark form, two great eyes, cavernous, immense and agleam with otherworldly balefire, opened. As the light of those malignant spheres was cast downward, the whole of the world beneath Batuul’s feet quaked and trembled.

The Matriach shifted her footing as her perch grew unstable moment by moment, thrusting her spear into the mound of bodies to stabilize herself as she watched the dark form. After a moment, Batuul bowed to the dark figure, recognizing it as her dark master who had no doubt come to shame her for being captured by his greatest enemy. She wanted to explain herself, wanted to apologize for the time she had wasted within her prison, wanting nothing more than to keep his favor as his warlord. Yet, words escaped her mind, unable to find any coherent speech that would make up for her failure against his true enemy.

Chernobog, the Black God, loomed over the whole of Batuul’s world, wrathful and omnipotent. A crevice tore across his face, a furnace leading straight to a pitiless inferno sending howling winds to careen about the mound - torn and dismembered human limbs pinwheeling across the sky like gnats. His breath was the putrescence of empires, and his voice was the shuddering collapse of bastion walls.

His maw unhinged to reveal a thousand blackened teeth and yet no tongue, and of course there were no words that tumbled forth. The Chernobog’s voice was ever a wordless song; the Black God issued his commandments and his desires through other means: burning agony, leaping flames, and visions in the smoke were only a few of his ways. Dusky fumes and foul vapors spilled from the Chernobog and writhed their way through Batuul’s nostrils, reeking of death -- not the glorious metallic odor of blood, the putrid stench of carrion, or any of the other innumerable scents of battle -- this sort of death smelled of a dusty tomb that had been left dark and untouched for a thousand years.

Thump.

A pulse tore through the air and Batuul’s feeble form...

Thud! THUMP!

The Chernobog’s monstrous heartbeat attuned to a rhythm that boiled the blood and evoked rage, for he was most displeased. Louder and more powerful than any bronze gong or warhorn, the beats shook the whole of the world and throbbed deafeningly inside of the scion’s head as she prostrated before her sire.

THUMP!
TOO

THUMP!
LONG!


The pulsing rhythm and the meaning that it carried tore through Batuul, unable to think as her own nerves began to get to her and her heart beat faster and faster. She gulped in fear as her grip tightened around her spear, taking a deep breath to slow her nerves, pushing through the stench of a thousand years of old carrion that almost brought tears to her eyes. Finally, she looked up to the dark god, still prostrating before Chernobog, kneeling amidst broken limbs and twisted corpses as she attempted to calm herself, curdled blood pooling around her hands and knees.

“I am sorry, Lord. The White God’s chains were too hard for me to break,” she said in a fear ridden voice.

The slow pounding attuned itself to a beat that bespoke of ire. It grew faster, frenzied, stronger. The Black God’s titanic form wavered in the molten heat of an untold million bodies burning at his feet, but the piercing, unblinking intensity of his eyes scythed through the haze to bore unerring into Batuul’s prone figure. There was no respite to be had from his withering glare, and through the drumming heartbeat it was as though he struck his worthless daughter across the face, over and over, mercilessly and relentlessly. Each throb was like the battering blow of a mace, sending a shivering hot scream of pain through her skull. She could hardly stand it, wanting to crumple to the ground and try to concentrate on something other than the waves of pain.

Yet, she knew she had to show to her master that she was still strong, able to continue to lead the Fell despite her defeat. Batuul spoke through her pain, her words coming out forcefully as each word was a labor in itself, “I know I have failed, Lord! Allow me to make up for the failure and lead the armies of the Fell against the manlings once more! You know that I have not failed you against your enemy’s worshippers, that is why they had to have their god imprison me personally, Lord!”

The rapid heartbeats abruptly ceased -- both those that came from within the Chernobog’s towering bulk, and those within Batuul’s own breast. Her blood that had been stirred and brought to a boil by her sire now was cold sludge in her veins, and all her strength fled from her as the thundering influence of the Black God cracked across her spine. She could sense the Black God’s answer to her.

NEVER

Lacking the strength to stand, Batuul collapsed.
FAIL

Her breathing ceased. Her vision blurred, and the world darkened.
AGAIN!


Struggling to even move, Batuul managed to look up - and bore witness to the immensity of her lord’s arm raised high in the burning sky, wreathed in flames, its talons leaving whirlwinds in their wake as they clove through the air. With all the impending exigency of a collapsing tower, the Black God’s arm fell to smite Batuul from his sight.

The matron suddenly sat up from her dream, panting and sweating out of the fear that she had felt from seeing her dark master once more. She held up her hands only to see that they were shaking, another reminder of how small and weak she felt in his imposing presence, knowing she was nothing compared to his power. Batuul looked around, only to see that Bolag and Bula were gone with only the other warlocks and their retinue resting under the night sky. With a huff, she leaned back against the tree she rested under and merely watched her kin rest, no longer feeling the need or desire to rest. Her eyes drifted over to the night sky before figuring that she should do something rather than sitting there idly, Chernobog would disapprove of such action.

Batuul rose from her rest, snatching her spear from the ground before she moved some matted hair out of her face. She took in step to try and find her two favorites of the party, Bolag and Bula.
1x Like Like
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by Fetzen
Raw
Avatar of Fetzen

Fetzen

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

Vaught

Early spring of 315 P.F.


The last time Vaught had paid a visit to the small village of Motis, it had been the middle of the day and the weather calm and clear. People had obeyed to the unspoken, but blatantly visible 'get out of my way'-attitude of the gray giant who had towered far over their heads, but neither had they run away in fear nor had any of them reached for a pitchfork or any other sharp peasant's utensil. Yet if they'd see Vaught now they certainly would, but that was also why he had chosen this particular day for his second approach.

The sun had already sunk below the horizon, not even leaving as much of a reddish glow behind by now, and clouds had gathered to pour themselves out down onto the ground far below. It was the perfect time for people to retreat into their individual houses or, if the need for socialization was too much of an urge, into the local tavern. The latter could count on a steady base of recurring patrons, but also on the occasional bunch of traders and other foreign people making a visit. Vaught's primary interest were the hunters, but if any other individuals would find their end in the occasion that was acceptable, too. Hopefully said bunch of misfits was still present there, maybe even preparing for yet another expedition into The Greatwood...

The rain was cold and dripping down from the large areas of leathery skin that were his wings in large quantities. He still had not managed to put them to any actual and prolonged use, but the clawed hands protruding from their primary bones made for an excellent aid when walking. They allowed him to move forward on four instead of two limbs, thereby greatly lowering his profile as he crawled over the fields. Vaught had not the slightest interest in any attentive eye noticing an inhumanly large, bipedal silhouette against any dim background moonlight in advance. There was a thin line between being quite confident in oneself and being too daring. This body, after all, was still somewhat experimental.

Motis was a place small and unimportant enough for its tavern not to have any particular, fancy name like many of those in the sprawling cities of Outremer. In fact there was only one tavern at all, so identifying it had never been an issue for anyone coming into the village. So neither was it for Vaught as he came closer, clearly seeing the difference between a building intended for humans and many buildings mainly existing for the sake of crops, cattle and the storage of other miscellaneous items. He was small enough not to cause any tremor in his vicinity, but large enough for a dog or two left outside to notice his presence. They started barking with growing intensity, but Vaught wasn't disturbed. He held no grudge against dogs and by the time they'd have managed to truly alert anyone it would be too late anyway, so why should he care ?

The hunters were indeed still in the village -- and they were good drinkers! The men, distinguishing themselves from the simple peasants primarily by the array of weaponry they had brought with them and which they had a tendecy to carry around all the time, made for an excellent exchange of coins against many, many tankards full of very average-ish liquor. The place was filled to the brim, every single room rented and with the owner and his single barmaiden having their hands full keeping up with the demand for food and drinks. The air had become stale from wet leather, smoke, spilled beer, sweat and general human exhaust. Nobody cared to open a window though due to the rain.

And yet, just as a few men around a large table had chosen to play a game of cards, a new opportunity to vent the smell opened up in the wall right behind them. A loud bang tossed the players off their chairs and exposed them to the rain of wooden debris bursting into the room, but still the patrons kept their eyes open because they couldn't believe what they saw: A head, or at least something with large, red eyes and a gaping mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, was filling the new hole in the wall. It turned left and right, staring at them as if deciding whom to pick first.

Now that had been surprisingly easy... This thick layer of bone on his forehead appeared to make for an excellent battering ram, even though he had been clever enough not to go for one of the supporting pillars, but for the much more soft section of mere wooden boards in between them. Vaught lunged forward, ramming his shoulders against the outside wall so it gave way a bit further and allowed him to get inside at least partially. Now that man in front of him, the one frantically using his feet to try and push himself away from the wall: Was that a hunter ? Vaught's mind tried to imagine his face without all the panic -- and yes, this athletic-looking fellow was one of those who had bothered him days before!

Vaught pushed himself in the furthest and fastest he could in order to get a hold onto one of the man's feet. He tried to bite into it and the most prominent of his teeth punched through the leather boot, resuling in a scream of pain from someone who had just been impaled a little. Not wanting to wait until the others would have recollected themselves and readied their weapons, Vaught pulled his victim outside leg-first. Then, out of the rainy darkness, a crack could be heard along with more screams. The taste of human blood was nothing unfamiliar for Vaught, but the taste of actual flesh came accross almost revolting at first. He couldn't consume the hunter, at least not with the speed required for the current situation. So he pinned the man's chest down using the hand-like protrusion of his left wing while taking another bite, now severing the limb completely.

That comparably small chunk didn't scream and therefore wouldn't give away his position, but it would serve as a means to get accustomed with the taste of his new prey. Vaught now trampled over the one-legged man, crushing him in the process, and made a run for it. By the time the hunters had recovered and rushed outside to look after their now dead companion, he had already disappeared in the dark night surrounding Motis.

Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Oraculum
Raw
coGM
Avatar of Oraculum

Oraculum Perambulans in tenebris

Member Seen 5 days ago

Feast


“Pour again!”

Thick dark liquid poured from the clay gullet into the raised horn, frothing as it struck the rounded walls of the polished vessel. The foam was not given time to simmer down as the horn was speedily lifted to a beard-rimmed mouth and overturned breathlessly, sending droplets flying to be trapped in the forest of curling hair. In but a moment, the horn was emptied, and once more it hungrily rose up.

“And again!”

“Hold now, Gunnar!” another man laughed from the side, “We’re not even past the first calf. You’ll be snoring under the bench by the time we get to the boiled-blood. I thought you didn’t want to miss that one.”

“It’s been a long way here,” Gunnar replied, his nose still buried in the horn, “I couldn’t enjoy any of it if my legs are sore.”

“He’s long of foot, but not hardy,” another man, sitting across the table from them, interjected. His face was disfigured in a peculiar way. A mighty blow had flattened his nose so that its nostrils were slanted forward, giving it an uncanny resemblance with a swine’s snout. Some unevenness inside it made him rasp and snort as he breathed, which did nothing to lighten the similarity. “After going past some three hills, he’ll lie around for days, and then he’ll still need to drink himself warm if there’s a feast. If not, he’ll make do with the brewery dregs.”

“It wasn’t three hills, Regin, but at least ten times that,” Gunnar jabbed a finger at the distant smoke-marked ceiling, “Enough to leave you so hungry you’re just heating the belly with that leg.”

Several eyes fell onto the large meat-covered bone Regin had pulled before himself from the fire behind his back, where roasting chunks sizzled and cracked on its stones and spits, dripping sharp-smelling fat into the flames. The disfigured man gave no sign of noticing and bit into the large leg without cutting it, as though it had been the most natural thing in the world to do. Guffaws rose around him, going to join the chorus of words, laughter, singing, the clatter of knives and horns and the crackling of burning wood, that mingled with the bitter smoke and ascended alongside it.

What marvel that the hall of Hoddren should have been filled with such bounty on that evening? For it was the day of Naemdegi, the time to cast away the last shadows of winter and welcome the new dawn of spring. All around the hall’s walls and roof were tied knots of herbs both fresh and dried, which marked the changing of the season and sweetened the smoke where it touched them. Among them were wooden tablets, most often round pieces of a small trunk, that had been painted or carved with a red or white hand in a halting gesture. Many were blackened after years of use, but still the symbol on them stood out clearly, having often been swept and retouched. The cleaner the hands of the dawn-father, the God of legend, were at Naemdegi, the luckier would the year to come be, for his fiery vigil would keep away misfortune and invite plenty. Such was tradition, and such it had been for time immemorial.

Hoddrenhöll had enjoyed good fortune for generations now, with more plentiful days than meager ones, and so it was wide and spacious, built of sturdy wood. Two large tables stood along its length, with a bench to each side of them, and there sat the folk of Hoddren, cheering and feasting and attended by many servants. At the end opposite the door, under the wall where hung the shields of renowned fathers and notorious defeated foes, was a smaller table, covered in furs and standing across, so that those who sat at it could see all that happened in the hall. There was the head of the clan of Hoddren, Magndór the gold-bearded, and its elders, watching over their kin in revelry as they did in all things. While the others drank from horns, they quaffed from gleaming chalices of foreign make and rare art.

With them there was also a honoured guest, who, though he shared no blood of theirs, had earned a seat at the lord’s table through fame alone. The men beside him wore rings and golden clasps, but he had not even traded his brown cloak and grey hat for finer clothes, and met the dawn as he did every day. Even so, it could not be said that he disdained Hoddren’s hospitality, for he ate and drank as heartily as Gunnar and Regin and the others of his band, who sat near the head of the table closest by.

“So you’re going towards the Griknin fjords,” Magndór was saying, between a sip and a mouthful, “You still haven’t said why. Heard of something crawling in the hills there? I would hope I’d know of it in time if a tröld came eastwards, but maybe I don’t hear these things as sharp as you.”

Hnikar had been chewing on a particularly large bite, and gnashed out something indistinct in reply. It wasn’t until he swallowed some of it that it became clear what he was saying.

“My ears aren’t better than yours, Hodder,” he sent down the rest with a silvery cup’s worth of brew, “For this or for else. No, there isn’t a hunt calling me that way. Not yet, anyhow. I’ve told you about how the woods west of Griknin have more of the beasts than you’d think were left on the whole earth, yes? I don’t think anyone will ever try to go see why if I don’t, but that-” he swept a hand as if to push the question away, “It’s a big effort, that. Not now.”

“Maybe you told Magndór, but not us,” one of the elders, Gremnir, leaned in. He was a heavyset man with graying hair and beard, wearing a wolf-pelt cloak. “It’s the first I hear about it. Not that much ever gets here from the woods that far west.”

“You haven’t said anything about the fjords to me, either,” the chieftain nodded, “What is it with the trölds there? Is that their mating ground?”

“Maybe, if they even mate like the dawn-father’s beasts and don’t just hatch out of rocks. I couldn’t tell you that.” Hnikar shook his head as he wiped grease from his beard. “But this is a thought decades old, before any of us were more than unblooded lads. Of all the tales of the tröld-slayers, how many that you know come from those places? From the Breisdris, or Linndir? Too many, that’s what.”

“There’s many small halls around there,” Gremnir said, “Stories break down the more you tell them. All the ones we’ve heard about them might’ve started as two or three in all.”

“And maybe a few more, but ones that started after a night of drinking rather than hunting,” Magndór laughed.

“I would know that well enough,” Hnikar smiled, revealing a handful of missing teeth, “But that can’t all be it. There’s too many different names in those tales there, and some of them, they have that feeling they must’ve been true.”

“What feeling?”

“It’s something you have to know yourself, after you get a notch on your blade.” The Trollcatcher stretched his shoulders as a servant refilled his cup. “Sometimes, you hear a song and you know” he struck the point of his finger against the table, as if driving a knife into it, “This came from someone who has been on a real hunt. It’s the things they say that a drunk braggart isn’t going to think about, but not just that. You have to know,” he repeated, and drained the cup again.

“So say enough of them are true,” the chieftain conceded, “It means there’s more of the bleeding beasts there than anywhere else east of the Lakes?”

“I can’t say that, I haven’t been that wide myself. Maybe it’s not the only place like that there is. But if something is the matter, sooner or later someone will have to go in there and find out, and cut it at the throat if needs be. Or else hells know what’s going to happen in a few more decades.” Hnikar set down his cup. “But I said it, I’m not going for that now. If there’s nothing around the Griknin, I’ll listen for anything from further west.”

“You might as well stop in the fjords, they might have goods from beyond the strait if you have the gold to spare,” Gremnir nodded, and went back to his meal.

“Further west, then,” Magndór mulled over the drink in his chalice before downing it, “It’s nothing certain, but I heard a hall was raided somewhere there, beyond the fjords. The Cales, or someone else along the coast, no one knows. Nothing about the mark of a tröld, by any means.”

“Perhaps it’s some reaver from the outer seas,” Hnikar said, looking into the dance of the fire, then over the celebrants, “They sail quite deep inland, sometimes.”

“Perhaps,” the chieftain agreed, “But they’ve never come far enough to reach us. We’re safe, here.”

The feast went on, until dawn came.
1x Like Like
Hidden 5 mos ago 5 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
Raw
Avatar of ZAVAZggg

ZAVAZggg Sok Il-Seong

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

~Ernald Joyce~




Early Spring, 315 P.F.
Paterdomus - Gates




After several hours travel along the dusty old trail, Ernald and his mumbling companion soon found their gazes falling upon one of the holy city's many gates, the portcullis of which hung open in the distance like the gaping maw of some ancient and decrepit beast. Joyce found himself shuddering at the sight of it, though whether it was because of the size of the walls, the number of defenders at the gate, or the reaction of some evil planted deep within he could not say. In any case, the involuntary action had caused him to become keenly aware of the state of his clothes, which were mud stained and stiff from his ventures in Oldcross and the Maw. The whole getup had become extremely uncomfortable, and stunk to high hell, a sinister combination that made his flesh crawl. He would be glad when they finally crossed through the gate, initial discomfort aside, for it meant he could wash away the days worth of filth he'd acquired during his stay in the town...

Joyce found himself jostled from his thoughts as the cart creaked to a halt, one of the men-at-arms striding forth, spear in hand. Grunting, he looked at the old man curiously for a bit before shaking his head and moving over to the side in which Ernald sat. The scholar grimaced somewhat as the guardsman leaned in, the foul stench pouring from his mouth enough to make him gag, though he managed to keep the urge suppressed.

"State your name and business stranger," the man said, his voice akin to sandpaper being ground against glass.

"Ernald," Joyce replied, ignoring the acidic tang currently fading in the back of his throat. "Ernald Joyce. I'm a scholar from the city of Marleon who's traveling from mining town to mining town, gathering stories of their struggles and lives. My most recent stop was in Oldcross some miles south, and the folk there were kind enough to give me a ride here on one of their daily shipments."

The guard cast a glance at the back of the cart, inspecting its lumpy and amorphous looking cargo briefly before turning his attention back to Ernald with a small nod.

"Aye, we've been expecting another shipment for a while now. Didn't think it'd ever arrive."

He coughed up a wad of phlegm before hurling it to the ground.

"Glad to see I was wrong."

The man stepped back, sending a wave of relief washing over Joyce, who was just grateful to be free of his stench.

"Let em through!" he shouted, a calloused hand cupped to the side of his mouth. The guards that had gathered to block their path forward stepped aside as the old man bade the ox that pulled their cart move, reigns cracking against the warm evening air. Letting out a heated breath, the beast trudged forward, pulling the pair through the gates and deeper into Paterdomus' crowded streets.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Cyclone
Raw
GM
Avatar of Cyclone

Cyclone

Member Seen 18 days ago

Larth’s Bane

Somewhere in the Arcosi Hinterlands





The naked steel looked almost gilded as it flashed through the haze, glowing in the reflection of the demon’s infernal light. A wild slash of the blade sought the fiend’s torso, but the living fire and shadow twisted away with unnatural alacrity. Another reckless blow came -- this one from above, with enough strength to have cloven through a man’s collar and halfway down his chest, but the giant devil somehow shrank out of the sword’s path even as it pressed forward with careful and deliberate steps. Half-blindly backpedaling away from the horror, the choking knight found poor footing and slipped on the muddy floor.

The moment that Sir Luci fell down upon his back, Kalkoroth rushed the templar in a surge of darkness and furnace-like heat. Grasping claws pried at Luci’s armor and tried to rip through, but his steel was true. His sword flashed forward, cutting through the sooty air and singed as it arced at the demon’s claws. Kalkoroth peeled back, but Luci’s palm was so sweaty that the vice of his grip failed and the blade slid from his hand. He scrambled to snatch it back up, but the demon’s weight was suddenly upon him, and a lash of its tail flicked the blade a yard and a half away -- tauntingly near, but too far. The claws grasped at Luci’s tangle of red hair and used it to slam his head onto the floor. The other claw was searching across his body for something, probing at his chest. The world grew blurry and the sounds of distant shouting were drowned out by ringing, but instinct took over and he reached for a dagger on his belt. He plunged the thing into the bowels of the surprised demon, but when he pulled the knife free there was burning blood flowing down it like melted candlewax, and where it touched his hand he gasped and lost his grip upon that weapon, too.

More foul ichor spilled forth from the demon’s gut and rained upon Sir Luci’s chest, and even through his mail and the clothes beneath he could feel the corrupted fluid’s heat. The devil seemed to have hardly even noticed its wound, however; it was instead preoccupied with tearing the knight’s chainmail off, jerking him around like a ragdoll as he eventually came to realize that pulling it off over Luci’s head would be easier than ripping through the countless chain links.

The shouting was closer now. Two hazy figures appeared in the narrow passageway that was the mouth to the hole in the ground -- the squires! Yet the pair grew silent and quivered when they beheld the monster squatting over Luci’s writhing form, clawing as it tore away the knight’s armor. One, brave to the point of stupidity, cried out, “Paterdomus!”

He charged forth, blade high, and predictably swung it down in a mighty arc towards Kalkoroth’s horrific visage. Like lightning the demon twisted away, the sword nearly coming to land upon Luci where he still laid upon the ground, and then in the next instant the squire’s head was nearly severed by one swipe of the demon’s claws at his throat. The boy collapsed into a bleeding heap and was dead in a heartbeat, and in a cruel rasp the demon called out some unknowable taunt in its foul language, mocking or challenging the other squire. The boy predictably fled in terror. From somewhere further back in the cave, the warlock cackled at the sight amidst shuddering and shaky breaths.

Kalkoroth, however, had turned his attention back to the knight -- even then, Sir Luci was trying to fight, trying to crawl towards his sword. The devil kicked the templar over onto his belly once more, then put a foot down upon the man’s throat. The monster’s darkened form burned his skin, and yet it already radiated noticeably less heat... and the unholy glyph wrought into its chest was glowing dimmer yet. Smoke and black vapors poured out of the beast’s maw and sublimated from its form with every passing moment -- it was growing weaker and smaller.

With that revelation, Sir Luci suddenly realized why the monster hadn’t slain him already as quickly and brutally as it had just done to the squire. With renewed desperation and strength, the knight endeavored to struggle and fight as hard as he could and for as long as he could -- not for his life, which already seemed forfeit, but for his very soul. Still, there was precious little that he could do against a foe so far beyond a mortal man. His feeble writhing elicited little more than a diabolical hiss of annoyance as the demon finally pulled off his chainmail entirely and then ripped away the garments beneath to expose bare flesh.

Luci’s heart was pounding harder and faster than his head. He felt no pain, even as he saw the demon’s claw tear into his skin and quickly carve a crude symbol. There was only the wet and sticky feel of his own blood; his life gushed out so fast that it hid the lines gouged upon him. But then there was an agony beyond words coursing through every part of the knight’s being, and the world itself shuddered as a single word of malice left the demon’s maw. A light then emanated from Luci’s chest, glowing through the layer of blood, pulsating in tune with his own heartbeat just as a candle’s light flickered with the motion of its flame. The glyph wrought into his skin and that in the demon’s were one and the same: the Black God’s mark.

”You too are His now,” Kalkoroth declared in the Black Tongue, and the magic was such that Luci now understood the monster’s tongue. Kalkoroth snarled in cruel triumph and chortled, ”But the master can share his minions. You will be mine, moreover.”

The next attack was a mental one, and this time Luci managed to hold his own. He gritted his teeth and roared even as there was an unbearable heat and pounding in his head as the demon’s presence pressed against his own and tried to displace his very mind and being. Sir Luci pushed back. He thought of home, not his cold cell in Paterdomus’ depths and the halls of his order, but of the hazy and distant recollections of where he’d lived in his youth before the priests took him. Somewhere far behind him, there was a hovel resting beneath the shadow of an ancient oak. He wondered if there was stew cooking in the pot by its hearth, and if he would ever see the cottage again.

Then there was a flash and suddenly he was consumed by rage, choking on blood. A stake had been driven through his back -- no, it was a whole sword! His own fiery sword fell from his failing grip. The icy bronze lanced through the ruin of his heart and ran so deep that the dip emerged on the other side, and his innards broiled and churned. His mouth opened to gasp for air, but he swallowed only ash, the ashes of his own body as his mouth itself began to disintegrate. He twisted about and then fell to his knees into the freezing flows of the river underfoot, and a man before him gawked dumbly and wide-eyed with a shield in one hand and nothing in the other (that must have been his sword!) even as the maggot’s bodyguards shouted and pulled him back, away to the riverside. Two of the fools advanced closer with weapons raised, and even in his dying throes he flailed with tail and claw to strike them both down. A half dozen giant trolls quickly encircled him and pressed back the endless tide of humans, even as the countless orcs around saw him and began to cry out in terror and break like useless swine; somewhere nearby an ogre or two bellowed and kept on fighting as if oblivious entirely. He brought his hands to his chest, clawing at the sword even as his fiery innards melted it into nothingness, trying to pull the thing out even though he knew it was futile. Ash shed away from every bit of him and fire burst forth through shadowy flesh, and with one final roar of a death cry his entire body was consumed in a violent explosion. Then, the darkened gate.

Sir Luci experienced the sensation of falling down a darkened tunnel, endlessly tumbling downwards, as if he had been cast into a well. But the heat and stench and horrific glow that came from below told him that this was no well, and so he raged and fought. He sprawled out his arms and reached to find nothing, and yet through sheer force of will his grasping hands found some purchase and he climbed.

A deafening voice echoed from the darkness all around. ”You have a darkness in you, worm. Your soul was already tainted; the wound was there, I merely exposed it. You are lost. SURRENDER.”

“No,” the templar whispered.

The darkness itself recoiled as if pained, driven back by some light. But then it roared in rage and came back again, crushing Luci in its smothering grasp.

He remembered the cottage beneath the oak, the warm bed of straw on the ground where he’d slept, a woman whispered to him stories of the Exalted to lull him to sleep.

“NEVER!” Sir Luci shouted with all the strength in his lungs, and suddenly he wasn’t falling anymore. He was on the ground, his face covered in ash, a crumbling monster kneeling atop him. Then weight left his chest suddenly as Kalkoroth sprung backwards, looking to a coughing heap in the darkest recess of the cave, behind even the ruined salt circle and the smoldering pit where there’d been a portal.

”OPEN TO ME, WARLOCK!” the demon shouted, desperation in its voice.

The dying Hanuzeth croaked something too weak to be heard, but it didn’t matter. When the demon knelt over the orc and showed him the burning pit, Hanuzeth did not climb. The demon, who had been so mighty and terrifying only a minute before, dissolved into ash and nothingness. But then the warlock was suddenly animated with strength, scrambling to his feet in defiance of mortal wounds. The orc stood tall and straight, a blood-red fire coming from its eyes and smoke from its open wounds, and it strode forth to seize Sir Luci’s blade from where it had been abandoned on the ground.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Fetzen
Raw
Avatar of Fetzen

Fetzen

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

Vaught
Early spring of 315 P.F.


The Motis affair had gone surprisingly well overall. He did not know whether the hunters would be scared for their lives and make a run for it or if they had just received a big boost to their determination. What he could assume with utmost certainty however was that their goals had changed: No more going after a big humanoid being, but after some unidentified monster instead! This meant that he might have regained some of his freedom outside of The Greatwood which had been one of his goals for the attack in the first place. He could turn back to human, jump onto some stolen horse and get away from this utterly boring landscape of nothingness!

And yet, just as his recent actions had solved one problem, they had given birth to another. Walking around on two legs, wielding some big primitive axe and trying to arrange oneself with the inhabitants of this region just didn't seem as fun and worthwhile anymore if one knew that the much more monstrous experiment had started to work out... In a growing region of his mind and heart he didn't want to take the tedious route back to his other shape. He always could when there was the opportunity, but right now he simply didn't feel the desire anymore. And the monster he was right now had not even learned how to fly yet! Speaking of which... couldn't that finally be fixed ? Vaught had hatched the plan of doing a little cut-and-watch procedure to himself and maybe he should just proceed with that plan while motivation was so high!

Running on all four legs, his claws dug deep enough into the ground to leave a trail of destruction behind in the grass. It was easy to notice that this would make any pursuers' job dangerously easy, so at some point Vaught started to run in circles for a while. Once a big enough mess of seemlingy erratic loops and hard to understand twists had been created, he continued on a straight line towards his hideout in The Greatwood's hills again. There was a small creek nearby in whose riverbed he marched on for a while just to create an outright gap in his tracks as well. He also tried not to crush too many bushes on his way back, even if that meant slowing down a lot in order for a lot of tedious maneuvering.

Up on the hill, Vaught reached for the big axe of his alter ego: It slipped right through his fingers. Or were these even fingers ? He tried again to no avail, then altered his approach for a third and fourth attempt only to come out with the same ridiculing result. So this didn't work... but he needed the blade on that thing! While still not having an alternate plan, Vaught lowered his mouth and carefully bit into the weapon's shaft to move it along with himself that way. This monster of his choice clearly had not developed with much craftsmanship in mind, had it ? But... but maybe he could arrange for some contraption!

Looking around, Vaught discovered what had once been one large stone, but which had degraded into a pile of smaller pieces over aeons of freezing cold and sweltering heat. Each of them still would have been far too heavy for a simple man to lift, but that was good! Trying not to damage his teeth in the process, Vaught dropped the axe's shaft into one of the large gaps where the aggregation of minerals had broken apart and let the blade point upwards. He slammed his torso against one of the rocks sideways and pushed it against its counterpart, thereby wedging the weapon's shaft in the closing gap. Friction would do the rest.

Now the ugly part! This was a good idea to cut open one's own joint gently just to see why it didn't work properly, right ? Vaught maneuvered the malfunctioning part of his body over the axe's blade as carefully as possible, then lowered it and started to induce a forth and back motion. The pain! The pain was so awful! Blood started dripping at an increasing speed, but as Vaught's confidence in his own idea vanished his skin gave way just enough to see what was beneath it. Maybe he could adapt now...
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
Raw
Avatar of ZAVAZggg

ZAVAZggg Sok Il-Seong

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

~Ernald Joyce~




Early Spring, 315 P.F.
Paterdomus — Bathhouse




Ernald heaved a sigh of relief as his body sunk beneath the surface, the heat and steam that radiated from the water doing wonders for his travel and anxiety ridden muscles. Soon after arriving within the limits of the holy city, Joyce's first order of business had been to find a reasonably priced bathhouse so he could wash the grim of Oldcross, the Maw, and the Five Mile Walk from his flesh. Well that and a decent tailor, as his clothes had been in the sorriest state anyone had ever seen, soaked to the point that mold had begun to grow. As for the old man he'd come in with, they'd parted ways shortly after the ore had been delivered, though Ernald was unaware as to his current whereabouts. He assumed however, given the nature of his gift, that the man had made his way deep into an ally somewhere to further serve their master's will.

Whatever that may be.

As for himself, he still had a task of his own to complete. The manuscript was, as of yet, unfinished. This was due in part to his own procrastination—he'd really needed this bath after all—as well as his circumstance. Despite being a city supposedly devoid of sin and where one would assume charity could be found in abundance, the cost of living in Paterdomus was illogically high, and only seemed to get more restrictive and more insane the closer to the center you got. Though that at least made a modicum of sense, for at Paterdomus heart was where its seat of power lay. The final and strongest bastion that only the most devout of individuals tended to inhabit, or so it appeared to Ernald anyway, though he supposed he could've simply been looking for patterns where there were none. In any case he'd been less than successful at finding a suitably comfortable—and reasonably out of the way—place to live, which made his actual work on the treatise unreasonably slow. The knowledge that had been implanted in his mind made things worse as well, for now the majority of his waking hours were spent pondering the uses of such corruptive magics...

"No! No..."

He pinched the bridge of his nose with a tired sigh.

"I can worry about such things later. For now I just need a moment to myself."

Falling silent, he allowed himself to slip beneath the waves...
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Jeddaven
Raw
Avatar of Jeddaven

Jeddaven the Dunmeri

Member Seen 29 days ago


The Greatwood


Everywhere Æðelflæd looked, she swore she saw something staring back at her. Behind bushes, in between the trunks of trees, high up in their branches... Tiny feet pitter-pattered across the forest floor, too, occasionally accompanied by the startling crunch of dry leaves beneath her ragged calfskin shoes or the rustling of leaves. High above, she could narrowly sight the glowing moon high above, its pockmarked surface turned such that she could swore its vile countenance was staring down upon her, drinking in the sight of her terrified shaking with sordid glee.

Or perhaps, she thought, that was simply her paranoia. “The Greatwood is dangerous, Æðelflæd! Only a complete loggerhead would bother exploring the place!” Her parents told her. “Are you stupid? Haven’t you heard the howling that comes from there? Something’ll eat you!” Her friends echoed. Hearing so many tales was certain to stretch her nerves thin, and many were the tales of fools who’d wandered into the woods for one reason or another and were found days later with their guts strewn across the fields... And yet, she couldn’t help but think she must’ve at least been lucky. Even with the watchful eyes of crows glaring down at her, the sound of bestial predators howling nearby, she’d been assailed by... Nothing.

Suddenly, a twig snapped, the sound closer to her than ever before! She tensed up, clutching the bloodsoaked basket in her armstrong her chest and forcing her eyes shut, hoping that whatever was about to happen would be over quickly...

Crunch. Louder. Snap. Practically deafening.
Sniff. Sniff. Snort

Daring to open her eyes a miniscule distance, the girl looked down - and there was a huge, powerfully muscled canine, its thickly matted fur covered in splotched of greys and browns. It stared into her eyes, curious, but the strike she expected never came, nor did the growling, or even a warning bark. Here she was, staring down a canine so tall that it easily came up to her belly on all fours, and it seemed just as harmless and curious as any big, friendly dog. For several more seconds it did nothing but stare, before suddenly turning to trod its way down the very same path Æðelflæd was travelling.

”...Is it trying to lead me somewhere?” She wondered, staring absentmindedly into the distance. Perhaps that was why she felt as if the place was watching her, she reasoned. Perhaps it was.

With scarcely little to lose, aside from the risk of returning to her family empty-handed, she scampered off into the forest after the beast -- her guide.



How long had she been running for, Æðelflæd wondered? The moon had moved in the sky, after all, listing gently away toward the horizon, and although she was no scholar, she was at least able to make the connection between the movement of celestial bodies hanging in the firmament and the passage of time. Hours, perhaps, she thought - or had it only been minutes? It must’ve been, surely. After all, her shoes had long since been worn down to the point where the mere act of walking should’ve been painful, yet the soft detritus beneath seemed to cushion her feet so perfectly she wondered if she’d been running at all.

Or perhaps, she struggled to reason, it was simply her rising humours and the fear of angering whatever she might anger should she dawdle too long that allowed her to ignore the pain. Perhaps, once she stopped, it’d all come crashing down on her, she’d collapse, and some scavenging animal would take her corpse for food.

The thought sent a brief pang of fear coursing down her spine, though mental hesitation did little too slow her. She’d spent so much time getting here, after all, and the journey back would be just as risky, if not more so - the very least she could do was see it through; to continue chasing the dire wolf loping along ahead of her. Eventually, however, the lightly trodden path it moved along slowly became more and more so. The underbrush grew thicker, impeding her motion, the path ahead occasionally blocked by fallen logs covered in clusters of strange mushrooms of shapes and colours the girl had never seen before and which she struggled to throw herself over. The first few were a struggle to climb over, but the deeper she went, the easier it became to mount obstacles, and the less the unfamiliar thickness of the underbrush slowed her. Her hand gripped a log, brushing past a faintly glowing toadstool as she leapt bodily over one obstacle only to push aside a cluster of branches in her way mere moments after. To a peasant girl, one expected to have found a husband years ago, it was an unfamiliar challenge - but she’d long since decided to see this matter through.

It was strangely pleasant, in a way, she thought - rigorous to be sure, but here, so deep in the Greatwood, Æðelflæd could almost forget the troubles of her home; how the streets stank of shit every hour of the day, the exorbitant taxes her family had to pay on everything she produced, the guards who seemed to care far more for the chance to abuse their power or violently beat criminals than they did for enacting justice...

Best of all, of course, was the absence of the nobles that ruled Marleon from high atop their mottes and squirreled away in their stuffy castles... Or perhaps it was the haunting, primal beauty of the place, the way it seemed so free of the ravages of civilization? Maybe, in the end, it wasn't something she needed to worry herself over; most importantly, she felt far less afraid of the things watching her than before. Excited, even. Exhilarated.

Catching sight of a break in the treeline through which shown a faint greenish glow, she charged ahead, only to stumble to a halt as her animal guide faded into the aether, discorporteating in front of her very eyes. Only then did Æðelflæd notice the source of the green glow, sitting in bright, crystalline water at the center of an absolutely pristine pond. Fo describe it precisely was impossible, perhaps, as if her vision struggled to resolve the image of the thing, its and everything around it fainty blurred -- but with an grunt of effort and an involuntary twitch her vision began to clear, revealing the brightly glowing shape of a tall, well-built elven maiden smiling warmly at her.

Once again, she felt afraid. This was the 'thing' she'd heard so much about, no doubt - but she was so unlike anything Æðelflæd had ever seen. She wore no clothing just as the animals of the forest did, so alien yet so familiar even though Æðelflæd had never laid eyes upon her before. Fear quickly gave way to relief, then comfort as the distance between them closed - and finally an outpouring of emotions as the terrifying creature pulled her into a reassuring hug, leaving Æðelflæd to bawl into her shoulder.

"There, there..." The woman reassured her, patting her back with a warm hand. "It has been a long journey for you, child. Take all the time you need."

And she did, feeling strangely comfortable and safe in the elf's presence, much as she did as a young child whenever her parents consoled her. It was almost easy to forget that she was embracing a hauntingly beautiful woman that had slain dozens upon dozens upon dozens of armed men like this; but not enough for her to forget why she came here, wiping tears from her cheeks with the back of her palm as she tipped her head back to meet the elf's eyes.

"My p-parents, my family, we are... We are peasants. Cuh-common folk!" She sputtered, feverishly shaking her head. We struggle to get by, to feed ourselves, to make the coin we need, but... It seems as if his tax collectors come to shake us down more often than not. They steal from us, from our friends, they abuse us, the men-at-arms and the guard enforce the law however they please, I... Nobody will do anything about him. I-" She pleaded, only to find herself silenced utterly by a shake of the kind woman's head.

"You do not want me to simply see justice done. You would not have come here if you did. Try again. Search deep within yourself." She admonished her, and Æðelflæd felt terribly ashamed, closing her eyes in meditation as she did as bidden. No stone was left unturned - every memory was examined once, then twice. Every time she'd seen a pretty peasant girl dragged away, every time she'd seen tax collectors shake a family down and wished she could've sent the fat fools spiraling to the ground... Every single time she say the guards brutally beat a poor man to death through the windows of jail cells for some unfathomable reason too, and especially every time she wished she could have [b][i]torn the disgusting wretch responsible limb from limb for all to see[/u][/b].

The motherly maiden smiled down at her and Æðelflæd smiled back, her vision bathed in a whole new spectrum of beautiful colours.

"We will do it together, I think." She nodded.
1x Like Like
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Tuujaimaa
Raw
Avatar of Tuujaimaa

Tuujaimaa The Saint of Splendour

Member Seen 9 days ago

Hrothkirk, 315 P.F.




Though the wetlands proper were some distance away from even the outskirts of Hrothkirk, the buzzing of gnats and mosquitoes still made itself known within the humid and fetid air that hung at the edges of the settlment. Sounds of fast and irritated slaps were not uncommon amongst the ramshackle huts of mouldering wood that gathered as the ground became more and more sodden away from Hrothhøll proper, and the droning of the fauna seemed to serve as a strangely choral backdrop for often-muttered prayers praising the Exalted One. The tradition of His worship was sparse in the Hundred Lakes, and sparser still in the Twenty Halls to the east--but the denizens of Hrothkirk were the stock of ancient crusaders, and their vows to watch over this strange and swampy land had been repeated and sworn since their great god had walked the earth still. None within the church could truly remember why the vows had been sworn, or what it was they were supposed to do, but they upheld the tradition nonetheless and eked out a humble (if pious) living. Though the low hum of prayer was a constant, these days it was punctuated in places by wracking, wet coughs and shuddering exhalations of breath that were almost enough to make one think the air carried invisible shards of ice. Thick, stinking mud squelched underfoot as Gorm made his way through what could only be called a path with an excess of generosity, swinging a censer suspended from thickly braided ropes and trying to breathe in as much of the sweet and spicy smoke as he could to mask the overwhelming odour that now lingered in the air. He barked out the lines of the prayers that he was supposed to, barely managing to make it through without wretching or gagging, before arriving outside a small cabin that looked palatial in contrast with its surroundings, and burst through the door.

"Thyra!"

The words were accompanied by the sound of a wad of phlegm being dredged up and spat onto the floor, and shortly thereafter by another door opening and a haggard-looking woman with matted streaks of blonde hair glued down to her face by sweat and grime. She did not deign to immediately respond, instead taking a deep swig from a tankard, and hunching over with a hand on her back as she clearly struggled to regain the breath that she'd been holding.

"Ah, Gorm... they're getting worse, I'm afraid." Thyra choked out, Gorm looked down at her, grim lines etching themselves around his eyes and at the corners of his mouth, as he placed a hand on her shoulder gingerly and wiped his own sweat-slick hair from his forehead.

"You're not looking so good yourself, Thyra. May He keep you and sustain you."

The words tumbled out of Gorm's mouth hastily, and he snapped his hand back in order to move over to a small table. He gathered up a couple of wicker bowls containing crusts of bread and cuts of salted mutton that'd been brought to them by Father Erikke as alms for those suffering, taking a second to look at them before turning his gaze to the coughing woman across from him. He picked the bowl up and placed it in Thyra's awaiting hands, and then he took the censer that he'd been holding and placed it on the table. He fiddled with it for a second, fumbling for a latch, before finding it and releasing the top half of the worn, thin metal. He grumbled something under his breath as he looked around for a flint and tinder to relight the flame, finding it after a couple of seconds of looking around the sparsely furnished room. He brushed himself off, took a deep breath (swallowing the thick mucus that had built up in his lungs as he did so), and reignited the flame within the censer to burn the incense anew. After a couple of tries the flame overcame the humidity and the herbs within the basket set alight, and a couple of slow breaths managed to coax the smoke to begin flowing once more. He fastened the thing back up, picked it up, and made his way to the door.

"I'm going to hand this out. Do you want me to fetch you some more water? You should lie down, Thyra, you might have come down with it..." Gorm began, hesitating a second in the doorway, and turned to look at the clearly worse-for-wear Sister. It was difficult to tell in the dim torchlight, but he could just about make out that her eyes were puffy and red, terribly bloodshot, and that her forehead was sopping with sweat. He mumbled a prayer under his breath before releasing an exasperated sigh, and moved back into the shack so he could put the censer and bowl back on the table to tend to his friend. She had barely moved an inch during his visit to check in, and he decided that he'd put her to bed and fetch her some fresh water from the well just to be safe--he'd done the rounds alone the past few nights anyway, and it was clear to him that she was in no state to do anything but rest.

"... Evening rose... Do you smell the evening roses?" Thyra's voice punctuated the noise of the insects and the prayer in the background strangely, with an oddly harmonic quality, that was equal parts pleasing and grating. She stumbled for a second and her eyes went glassy, and only Gorm's quick intervention prevented her from collapsing on the ground completely. He nudged open a nearby door with his foot, revealing a darkened space just big enough for a bed, and guided Thyra to it. Her skin was clammy and unusually cool, and something oddly sticky seemed to almost want to adhere his flesh to hers for a brief second before he was able to pull away--he'd noticed the same thing happening to the others who'd gotten sick and his face contorted into a grimace.

"I... let's get you to bed. I can finish the rounds tonight by myself."

It took a few moments, but Gorm was able to lay her down and place a damp rag on her forehead. He washed his hands in the bowl of water that it had been sitting in, and noticed that some of the grime that had collected on his hands seemed to be floating on top of the water. He couldn't tell if it was the light, but it looked oddly... black, and strangely viscous, like some kind of oil. He shrugged to himself before walking back to the other room, where the smoke had collected in odd plumes that seemed almost to take the shape of petals within the air, and the scent of evening roses flooded his nose for a brief instant. He figured that it was just whatever sickness was spreading around, shaking his head and rubbing his hands down his face, and picked the censer and bowl up. As he made his way through the frame of the door the sound of insects and prayers resumed, louder than he ever remembered it, and a thrumming like whispers and sighs settled just outside of his perception. He began to walk the circular route around the edge of town where the sick were being kept, and handed a few strips of the meat and a crust of bread to each of the denizens within the sodden edifices. The more he walked the louder the prayers and the buzzing got, and after only a few minutes all he could smell within the smoke was the pungent aroma of metallic blood, cloying up his nose and his throat and his lungs. He stopped for a second as a spasm of coughs racked his chest, heaving and sputtering, before spitting out an enormous wad of pitch-black phlegm. He breathed the air in through his nose and this time the stench of blood was so strong and his reaction so visceral that he vomited an oily mass of black liquid onto the ground and black tears escaped the corners of his eyes.

He managed to take only a few more shaky steps before his legs collapsed beneath him and the items he'd been carrying fell to the ground, his knees sinking into the mud and the vomit as he did so. His vision swam, and as he gasped for air he fell forwards and planted his face firmly in the mud in front of him with a wet slap. He closed his eyes and grimaced, lungs heaving, as he felt his consciousness slipping away beneath him.

"blessed be Her name, O Máthair-Amaidí... blessed be Her name, O Máthair-Amaidí..."

The words slipped into his skull before he'd even noticed, and the word "Mother" left his lips before the world went black, and the white flame within him was doused.
1x Like Like
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by ZAVAZggg
Raw
Avatar of ZAVAZggg

ZAVAZggg Sok Il-Seong

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

~Ernald Joyce~




Early Spring, 315 P.F.
Paterdomus





Ernald paced to an fro about the cramped little room, quill and woodblock in hand, upon which was hooked a small sheaf of coarse parchment. Pausing, he scribbled down a handful of details. Descriptions, notes on the local fauna and customs, and finally a paragraph on his time in the Maw. It was within this paragraph that he wove the brunt of Tarr'kash's work, making sure it was subtle enough not to be easily found by those who wished to destroy it, but blatant enough to hook the unaware man. A few additions later and he found himself at a natural stopping point, which left the conclusion and foreword as the last things that needed to be written. Setting the block and quill on the small table to his right, Ernald leaned forward to stare out the window and into the sunlit world beyond, the slightest of breezes gently caressing the sides of his face. Exhaling, he turned away, shifting his attention over to the closet at the back of his room in the process. Striding towards it, he pulled the worn and splintered doors wide open, before bending down to retrieve the limp yet surprisingly pristine corpse of a rat he'd stuffed in there a day or so prior.

Dragging it out into the center of the room, he swiftly checked that the door was locked, as it wouldn't do for someone to just waltz in while he was in the middle of a very heretical ritual. Seeing that it was and that he would not be disturbed, Joyce returned to the rat, knife pulled from his pocket firmly in hand. The scholar dropped to his knees, ancient words spilling from his lips even as they rose to the forefront of his mind, placing the tip of the blade against the top of the rodents ribcage as he did so. Applying a bit of pressure, he slowly began to cut, the flesh parting with a quiet *pop!* and *scrrrtch!* when the blade moved from bone to stomach to intestine, before halting as it met bone once again. With the rat's insides freed, Ernald set the knife aside. Cracking his knuckles he pressed his hands into the cold and slimy space, carefully taking out the organs and arraying them in a crude circle around the corpse itself. Taking his knife up once more, he began to carve, began to cut. Bloody work it was, but also delicate, for the wards had to be perfect else the magic sputter and fail. It took him the better part of an hour, but at last it was done. Leaving the organs sprawled out as they were, Ernald let another accursed litany tumble from his lips, which caused the runes to glow and the room to tremble.

Following this, there was nothing but silence.

Everything was still.

Nothing moved.

Not even the slightest mote or speck of dust...

Then the rat twitched.
↑ Top
© 2007-2017
BBCode Cheatsheet