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I think I'm outta here boys, on the off chance you ever need to find me then look on Discord. Cyclone#8777

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You make me wait for months! It's as though you don't like Giwabi! Gosh, should we reboot via a doomsday preacher giving a monologue about the end of the world, and then start anew without any of this Giwabi stuff? :P
From the Tales of the Old Kingdom

...and in those ancient years, those distant days
when the first bricks were burnt, the first ovens lit,
when the Moon had no mars yet upon His face
upon a throne of bone and gold did King Giwabi sit.

And from there did he raise his mighty hand,
and through all the days, his violence raged.
Giwabi conquered every tribe and people across the great sand,
for even through all the nights, his violence raged.

But he was not loved! For he was half god
and only half man, with a heart of stone.
Those who beheld him were constantly awed,
all but Uhulmikown -- who coveted the throne...

...and Uhulmikown shouted out Giwabi was no part god,
and with spear and shield made him no more a king!
The Old Ways were smote down by the usurper and outlawed
and exiled deep into the desert, the first king.
Engraved upon a stone stele, at the oasis of Prophet's Retreat

Thrice here by these sweet waters did rest he who was called Giwabi: first alongside his great host on the eve before he did battle, then amongst the survivors of that terrible din as they were scattered back to their homeland as leaves flying in the wake of the thunder, and last not as a king (as he had been in one life) but as a blind and weathered hermit in his final life with sand-dry skin skin burnt brown like mud bricks left in the sun.

The first time that he knelt in the shade of the palms besides the spring, he drank deeply, and recognizing the divinity of this place from the purity of its waters, prayed to the spirits: 'Let the trouble I wear upon my brow fade, and roll off like beads of sweat. Let my head stand tall, my chest broad and mighty, my arms and hands be true. Let the warriors look to me and see the glory and might that can be theirs if only they seize it, and let me guide these many-hundred to victory over the sorcerers and outlaws. Let the feral beasts who drain the life of this corner of my endless kingdom, they who defy their master as savage dogs who harry their own shepherd, let them perish by our hands!'

But only a great gust of wind answered him then, and it blew sand into the great king's ears and dust into the pure water that held his reflection. And then the brash king realized that no god could 'let him' have his victory on a whim -- victory was his to fight for, and the fight would be his to endure. Nothing worthwhile was claimed without a hardfought struggle.

And in that spirit, thinking a battle inevitable and that it would be only by force of will and might of arm that he could attain victory, he did not speak -- such words were but the dust on the wind, worth less even than prayer. When he drew up his lines of men and met the ranks of the one called Uhulmikown, he answered his enemy's hail not with negotiation but with a raised spear and a roar that ordered a charge.
@Kho for Red Fury
We (myself, Terminal, Oraculum, Jed, and to a lesser extent maybe Lauder too) are still working on a gigantic collab. Its size and the complexity of its plot has necessitated a bit of planning and rewriting, and it's been delayed by some procrastination and limited availability of certain people, but a lot is already written and it should eventually come through. Maybe even within a week or two!

Just felt like giving a status update to restore any wavering hopes and assuage concerns that we might have to work some necromancy on this thread.
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.
@Jeddaven The three of us have all read through your stuff now and had the time to hash out our individual thoughts. A review should be coming soon! Hopefully later today.

Hey, I've been reading through and this looks incredibly interesting. I would love to join if there are still some slots open for people to join. I also have a question or two to ask that would influence my character's creation. Thank you very much.

We've certainly still got space for more. I've just sent you a Discord link; I imagine it'd be faster to hash out your character ideas and ask any questions over there.
Oh, and I wanted to say thanks and give a shoutout to Tuuj. He let me use bis character Sir Luci and wrote some parts of the post I just put up.
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.
Still open & possible to catch up?

Sure, we're still glad to look over any new applications. I'll PM you an invite to the Discord, where you could talk about any ideas or plans with us.
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