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I've been around on this site for a while. At this point I don't have too much to say. I'm not nearly as active as I once was, but I have a sort of clique that I speak with fairly frequently, and occasionally I get a good idea at a serendipitous time when I have sufficient motivation to start a new RP.

I've GM'd or Co-GM'd probably something like 10 RPs over the years, to mixed success. I'm probably best known now for my involvement with the big Divinus RPs, but before that I did other things on the Oldguild with some Dungeon Keepers RPs and one called the Horde of Evil. I've occasionally made forays into the NRP section. I want to like those, but it's a cesspool. Everything in that section seems to invariably stall out and die early on the planning phase, so I've sworn off any further involvement there.

Most Recent Posts

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.
Some very high quality posts recently! I especially liked the Easter Egg throwback to Crake. It was fun to see his mysterious origins revealed.

And damn, Eagoth might be in trouble with so many of his underlings openly loathing their very existences and fomenting rebellion or vengeance.
I unfortunately seem to have run out of time for this, and as such will have to be withdrawing. Thank you for your consideration, and good luck with your future writings!


Sad to see you go. Thanks for the kind words, and should you find yourself with more time on your hands we’d love to take you back.
Hey Page! This looks like a really cool idea. Unfortunately I don't think that I'll have enough time to where I could responsibility commit my interest or intent to join this RP, but I wanted to offer you some words of praise and encouragement nonetheless.

The Holy City of Paterdomus, and its Country
Early Spring, 315 P. F.

The road from Marcester to Paterdomus was fairly well travelled and accordingly in fairly good condition--which is to say that it was identifiable as a road and that it was unlikely you would complete a journey without seeing another soul. Sir Aulus of the Knights of the Searing Dawn had made his way upon it for several hours so far without so much as glimpsing the signs of another person, for which he was (in this rare instance) extraordinarily grateful. Ever since he'd slain that... thing, whatever it was, something had been wrong with one of his eyes. He could feel a strange warmth from within it as his heart beat, and it felt as though a claw or a talon had raked its way across his vision like a lash--but despite that, he could still see through it as though nothing were wrong until he looked at something that felt dark or strange. When he settled his right eye upon it he could swear that it seethed within his skull and threatened to burn it to ash from the intensity of the feeling, and he could feel a pall of profanity settle over him like a shawl. It'd happened with the innkeeper's son, and with an Arcosi merchant, and he'd had to avert his gaze from them to avoid them noticing his reaction--thankfully, as a Knight Templar, he was mostly accustomed to peasants trying very pointedly to avoid his gaze. The thundering of hooves brought his thoughts back to reality as he rode back towards Paterdomus, and he heard the sound of a convoy approaching from that direction which settled his gaze upon it.

A fellow knight--a Sir Luci of the Argent Verdict, if his fiery red hair and distinctive shield were anything to go by--seemed to be headed out at a pace leisurely enough that he could wait for an opportune moment to call the beleaguered knight over for a brief conversation. As if on cue he raised his hand to his eyes, and bellowed out a "Ho there!" with wide swings of his right arm in the air. Sir Aulus stiffened his grip upon his reins instinctively, and turned to look at his fellow as the distance between them lessened. Thankfully only the barest coals of an ember lay dormant in his eye upon the knight coming into his field of view more clearly. In but a moment or two the pair were side by side, just at the westward edge of the road, and they exchanged greetings and blessings of the Exalted One in the fashion expected and proper of them.

"Hail, Sir... Aulus? A little early for travel, is it not?"

Sir Aulus smiled grimly with just the right corner of his mouth, and beckoned at his fellow knight with an open sweep of his palm.

"I could say the same to you, Sir Luci. I set off from Marcester immediately after my prayers, for I have news to bring to my order," he replied, somewhat flatly, attempting to play his stress off as simple fatigue from an overlong journey. He gave a quick, weak smile and shuffled his hands about the reins of his horse tentatively, and it let off a whinny at just the right time to give off the illusion of impatience.

"Safe travels then," Sir Luci began, giving a deep nod and a friendly wave as he turned back to the road and continued his gentle pace onward. Sir Aulus likewise began the process of coercing his mount to motion, but took one final look at the knight and the road to see whether or not he would ask further questions--and though he did turn briefly it was mostly to look at the sky, and resulted in a brief but friendly smile. Something about his smile sparked that barely contained heat within his eye, and in its fervor it railed against the leash of his willpower terribly. He winced sharply and brought a hand to his eye, but it only took a second for that same infernal heat to spread throughout his skull and spots of a strange and oily black to coalesce within Sir Luci's form. He averted his gaze as quickly as he could, but something about what he'd seen stuck with him for a second and he had to fight the urge to choke and sob at the same time. Then it was over as quickly as it had begun, and before he could really collect his thoughts or his breath he was already back on the road to the Holy City.

Father Caius wiped a bit of sticky apple juice from his chin as he made his way through the grandiose foyer that led into that main chamber in the Temple of Brazen Justice, the one where the trials were being held. He had to be back in his place so that the next case, that of Caius’ man, could resume as slated; however, there was still a short time left, as his meager meal of the one good apple hadn’t taken long. And before him he saw a familiar face!

“Aulus,” he breathed, forgoing the formality of giving the knight the ‘sir’ that he was due. There was some degree of familiarity permitted between holy men, especially those who had been long friends, and Caius had known few for as long as Sir Aulus. The knight had been one of the two others from Caius’ village on that fateful day when old Father Titus (Exalted preserve his soul in the heavenly halls) had come to claim a new generation of boys for service in the church. Aulus had been a bit older and stronger, so they’d gradually drifted apart as one boy took to books and law and the other was given to the temple knights for training, but each of them still remembered their childhood friendship back in Stonetree, and that fondness had never faded.

Even though he wasn’t as familiar with Aulus as he might have liked, Caius still hadn’t failed to see how the knight had winced at his gaze, how he carried himself with a troubled and almost pained countenance. Caius found it somewhat disturbing; he saw in his old friend the same bearings that he saw in all too many men that ended up being found guilty. “Aulus, my friend,” Caius started again. “Is something amiss?”

Sir Aulus had been hurriedly walking through the hallowed halls of the city when he'd bumped into Caius--and though it took more than one attempt to stir him from his reverie his face was a picture of genuine joy and even relief when he looked into Caius' eyes and saw nothing awry. He did not quite choke back a breath as some part of him desired to, but immediately the weight of whatever had been troubling the knight dissolved and he embraced the man in front of him with a single arm and a wide grin.

"Caius! Did I make it back in time?"

Aulus offered a deep laugh and swept a sandy brown fringe of hair from the front of his face to his right, then took a moment to shake himself off as he smiled expectantly as his friend. Next to the man he looked absolutely bedraggled--where Caius was dressed in fresh and clean garments, practically all of Aulus' gear (sans his tabard, which had miraculously remained mostly free of grime) was coated in some mixture of muck, sweat, or blood. He'd not even thought about quite how dishevelled he actually looked until seeing Caius had brought his attention back to reality instead of his thoughts (and, admittedly, a few prayers). Sir Aulus made a motion with his free left hand to motion for Caius to walk further into the temple with him so that they'd be efficient with their time, a habit he'd picked up from his training under the Temple Knights (and Drusus specifically, who very much valued the virtue of good timekeeping).

"You look good. Ready. I am sorry that I am not in a better state to..." he began, before cutting himself off to allow Caius room to actually speak and settling his focus squarely upon his friend's silhouette.

Caius might have allowed himself a small grin and a chuckle, but the thought of making light of another man’s trial (and all the dread that it must have entailed) was not one that sat well in his stomach. “Justiciar Drusus is just about to preside over my man, the very first one that I was assigned to counsel. Alas, I had little sage advice to offer him save to suggest that he confess and plead to Drusus for penance; he stands indicted for thievery against the church itself, and the evidence against him is strong. But I ramble! You...what happened to you? Trouble on the road?”

Aulus' face fell a little as he heard Caius' tale, suddenly overcome by an inch of worry for his friend. He was not trained in the law like Caius was, but possessed understanding and experience enough to empathise with the predicament this left Caius in. Justiciar Drusus was a truly worthy of the title, and as long as the criminal confessed he would be spared the worst of the Exalted's wrath and instead find contrition--but getting the smallfolk to see that was never an easy situation, Aulus had found as much in his own trials, and he gripped Caius shoulder gently and firmly in resolve.

"As long as he shows that his commitment to penance is true I am certain that he will emerge better," Aulus began, taking a moment to breathe in through his nose and let out a sharp exhale. He stopped in his tracks and turned to Caius, narrowing his gaze to a steely point of resolve (his "knightly" face, they'd often japed as children) before talking.

"A charge of apostasy and witchcraft, though it ended messily. A local ‘wise woman’ had been... consorting with something, and I caught her in the middle of some blasphemous ritual within the local Temple--it... it just shook me that such foulness could be attempted in so holy a place. I am glad to have ended that threat before it progressed further, truly." Suddenly it was Aulus' turn to feel the merriment sink to the pit of his stomach and vanish from the situation. He wanted to go into further detail, but voices up ahead seemed to be growing in volume and it became abundantly clear that the time for the adjournment to end imminently. Aulus nodded swiftly to Caius and ushered him forward, waiting to step in and be told what to do with himself by the Justiciar.

So Caius returned to his place as the Justiciar once more ascended the dais, held up an oversized ceremonial sword, and carried out a prayer just as he had earlier in the morning. Drusus was ever diligent in that manner of thing; to hear him say it, if you ever presumed to judge a man without first praying to the Exalted for guidance, then whatever decision you proclaimed was no true justice at all. When the ritual was complete and the sword laid down upon the Exalted’s altar with proper reverence, the next case began.

Caius’ man was brought forward from the benches by a Temple Knight serving as bailiff for the day, and Drusus’ eyes peered into the accused man without betraying anything of the Justiciar’s thoughts.

“I was told that you wished to confess to this crime and plead for penance?” Drusus asked after a time, though his words came across more like a statement. The man, a little slow and doubtless terrified, remained still and silent. “Well, did your lawyer tell me true? Speak!” the Justiciar prodded after the awkward pause.

Then it was Caius who suddenly grew cold and pale. Was this man about to make a fool of him, to decide at the last moment to demand trial by combat or deny the crime, and right before Sir Aulus too? After Caius had already told Drusus that the man would conf--

“Y-yes, Father,” the accused finally stammered. “I confess it.”

Drusus raised an eyebrow, silent.

The thief gulped, realizing it wasn’t enough. He found his courage again after a moment and said, “I confess to taking the jewels from the temple. Jewels that wasn’t mine to take.” The man breathed. “But I didn’t--” he started, then stopped himself. Caius had begun to panic; he’d warned the man a dozen times not to make excuses before his judge, told the man that it’d make him look unrepentant.

“You what?” Drusus pressed, a bit of fire creeping into his tone and eyes.

“I--nothing, your honor, I got no excuses to make. I did it without thinking, ‘twas wrong. I confess that I done it and that I’m sorry, and I beg for penance.”

And then the fire was gone from the Justiciar (though it’d been there long enough to singe the man!) and Drusus nodded. “I see. You shall have your penance, and should your heart be true in its regret, you will emerge better and more learned from the ordeal, as will all these present to witness.”

The Justiciar signaled to another one of the Knights Templar attending the room in the back, standing just beside Sir Aulus (who Drusus’ gaze lingered on for just a moment). That knight nodded and quickly disappeared to another room, emerging moments later with an iron brazier in hand. Caius’ man looked on in anxious confusion, but then another knight produced a sack of coal and dread coursed through the room as all came to realize that this was to be an ordeal by hot iron.

“...and it is written in the scriptures that our Exalted God wielded no weapons, for his hands were ever burning, and with nothing more than his fiery grip did he deliver justice. It was his flaming hands that wrought a flawed world twisted by the Black God into one of good, when he cast down the Great Enemy,” Drusus had been didactically explaining, though few seemed to be hearing his words in the moment. Caius spun to look upon his man, and he saw a face pale as milk.

Balbus -- that was his name, the poor man whose house and village had been burnt by the marauding warband of orcs, the man who had taken jewels from the ruined church to feed his family and then tried to flee elsewhere in desperation -- Balbus was frozen. A thousand thoughts raced through his mind in a second, though he’d never been the smartest of farmers or had a sharp wit. He’d never thought so fast before, nor conjured so many foolish ideas at once. The thought of the brazier and fiery irons terrified him even more than that cruel old judge did! He wanted to shout out that he hadn’t done it, that his confession was false, that his brother or somebody else had stolen the jewels, that anything had happened but that he’d done it! No lie was beyond him in that moment when all his thoughts were consumed by fear and self-preservation, and yet he was paralyzed, unable to speak or do anything.

He remained transfixed to the Justiciar even as the man showed him his back and stepped away from where he’d been on the dais to go behind the altar, kneeling down and murmuring something. And then he rose and stepped back to the dais with a flat hand raised to the vaulted ceiling and the stained glass depiction of the Exalted One above. “...and so in the name of our Divine Lord and Master and the spirit of his teachings, this humble servant claims a spark of His fire.”

And then Drusus, who the boys mocked as Candlehead, suddenly did not have a head that seemed afire, but fingers. It started as just a tiny flicker at the tips of each one, but then the Justiciar uttered one sacred word (and every man in the room heard something different) andthe tiny flames burst into life. They spread, and suddenly his upraised hand was immolated from fingertip to palm, burning and yet not blackening, not being consumed at all.

Balbus’ eyes were still glued to Drusus when the priest’s hand suddenly combusted, and he felt a wetness creeping down his trousers, accompanied by a sour smell -- but his entire body was already hot and sweating so much that his clothes clung to him as tightly as the pungent reek of fear. His knees began to wobble as Drusus walked closer. The priest with fiery hand was as terrible to look upon as the sun, and Balbus’ eyes watered, but he could neither blink nor turn away. And then Drusus and the brazier were suddenly both right before Balbus, as was the knight who held up the sack of coal.

“These black stones represent the gravity and the weight of your sins,” the Justiciar proclaimed as he reached one hand into the sack, the other one still flaming and held aloft. “One for every gemstone that you took from the Exalted’s temple,” Drusus announced as he took one, two, three, four lumps of coal out and placed them upon the brazier. Had it been that many?!

And then Drusus knelt in one quick motion and brought down his fiery hand to rest beneath the brazier, the sudden movement fanning the flames enough for a small wave of heat to wash over Balbus’ face. And suddenly the coal brazier was alight, and Drusus was standing once more, murmuring something into his palm before closing his fist and extinguishing the flames that he’d grasped within it.

“The White God’s flames represent purification. The true and the devout need not fear them; this brazier is your soul’s salvation,” Balbus heard the Justiciar say, but his eyes stared into the brazier and saw only agony and doom.

Conversely, as another set of eyes laid themselves upon the brazier, thoughts of hope and redemption blossomed within the chest of Sir Aulus. He could detect no such malignancy as he’d been forced to suffer that day within the heart of Justiciar Drusus, nor in the holy magic he appeared to be wielding to inflict this penance upon the farmer. Though the cold throes of fear settled into his veins as his eye gazed upon the thief and saw plain the tiniest seeds of Darkness he had ever imagined might exist, he took heart in his faith in the Exalted One and was moved immediately to sink to his knees in prayer.

As he spoke the words he did sincerely feel a weight lift from his shoulders, and as he raised himself off of the ground after his exhortations had concluded he found himself drawn towards the burning brazier. His foot did not take another step forward--the discipline of his training saw to that--but the fiery impetus to act blossomed in his face and in his fists. Even after taking a short breath in he could not cool the passion, and so he closed his eyes but found that his right eye would not remove itself from the spectacle occurring in front of him. His right hand found itself to the pommel of his sword and he clenched it fiercely, until his knuckles themselves were also white and he found himself unable to will himself to move further.

The blaze stretched and grew, long fingers of fire and heat stretching and grasping ever further upward. But Drusus suddenly cast his eyes towards the kneeling knight. “Sir Aulus,” he finally addressed his returned charge, “I see that you have returned from your task.”

And the Justiciar’s sweeping gaze made quick note of Aulus’ disheveled and sullied whites, and seemed to know then what the outcome could be. He had been a paladin in his day, so he could see the signs. “Does your blade require cleansing?” Drusus asked.

The knight nodded, and drew his blade reflexively for the Justiciar to inspect. He took a step forward to ensure that it was fully in view, and he found himself listening to his mouth speak the words:

”Yes, Father.”

He bent his knee slightly and kept his gaze down, towards the sword and the ground, to show proper deference to the Justiciar. It also did not hurt to play up a certain sense of awe around the smallfolk in the room after such a display, and the thought of striking the fear of their Exalted God into the heart of the thief brought him no small amount of satisfaction.

So all eyes were turned to Sir Aulus and the naked steel he held. The blade was sharp and drenched in ruby-red from the reflection of the burning coals, yet neither any chips nor scar marred its form, and the diligent knight had of course already washed free the blood that it had been made to shed. Still, some taints were not so readily visible to an untrained eye. Drusus claimed the sword and raised it high for the confessed-thief Balbus to bear witness.

“And just as the coals are your sins and the flames are your purification, this blade represents you, for all men are but instruments in service of the Exalted God. Like you, this blade bears a weight upon it, for it has shed unholy blood and such stains are not easily removed.”

Drusus laid the sword across the top of the brazier and left it to bathe in the heat. A ewer of water was brought forth and its contents were blessed before the crowd. “And this is the Exalted One’s grace and forgiveness, your salvation. You must claim the sword that is your body and douse it in this water. Steel your nerves and do not falter, for the steel grows only hotter with every moment of trepidation.”

Balbus’ eyes widened. ’Go,’ thought Caius, ‘go now!’ He even mouthed the words, hoping that his man would look, but the thief was of course transfixed solely upon the blade. He stepped forward and reached out to grab the thing before it had become red-hot, yet his fingers hovered just a hair’s width away from the hilt, doubtless feeling the heat radiating out from even there. Drusus observed silently.

Balbus at last found the resolve to clench his fingers around the hilt, and he winced at the pain but did not cry out. He lifted the blade from the rim of the brazier and took one, two, three shaky, rapid, and desperate strides to the ewer. Panting, he thrust the sword’s searing point into the water before releasing the blade with a gasp of pain. The sweat upon the man’s brow was complemented by the beginnings of tears welling up in the corner of his eyes, and he fell down to his knees, but it was a joyous enough moment. All attendants murmured blessings and prayers or made holy signs with their fingers, and Balbus was released -- without the clerics rendering any aid to his hand, of course, for the lasting pain was his burden to bear and it would be half the penance. If the wound festered, it would be only due to a heart that hadn’t been fully repentant.
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