Recent Statuses

20 days ago
Current Because you don't explain
29 days ago
Given that books are made from plants and or animals, I technically am enjoying nature when I pour over that grimoire!
29 days ago
Ever just want to write about old school book readin' , spell slingin', robe wearin' wizards?
3 mos ago
If you cant be a part of the solution, you might as well profit from being part of the problem
5 mos ago
Looking for ADVENTURE!? Check out this pulp rp!…
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Early 30's. I know just enough about everything to be dangerous.

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Emmaline approached. She had never considered herself to be a brave person, though she supposed that she had endured more than many with better claim to the title, but this sorcerer was terrifying. Even if he hadn’t spoken the ruinous name, its affect still making Emmaline’s tender stomach, roil, the kind of magic needed to create the garden she had seen was orders of magnitude beyond what Albrecht and most of the wizards she had known could have summoned up. She regretted eating the cherries, nothing good ever came of anything touched by Chaos. As she approached the throne a dwarf in a crimson robe entered from a side corridor. Emmaline was momentarily surprised to see a dwarf here, and even more surprised to note that it was a woman. A collar of black metal, similar to the ones on the goblins was affixed around her throat, perhaps accounting for the sullen expression. The dwarf took position in front of and to the right of the throne.

“You approach Zar Tan Zhou, Champion of the Changer, Scourge of Cathy, Anointed and Accursed, King of the Old World,” the Dwarf declared in a deep resonate voice, striking the flag stones three times with an iron shod staff for emphasis. Unsure of the proper form, if such a thing could be said to exist, Emmaline attempted a curtsey. The silken garment made the effort vaguely ridiculous, but she persevered.

“I am… Emmaline von Morganstern,” she said somewhat shakily. It galled her slightly to tell the truth but she couldn’t think of a benefit to lying at the moment.

“An ugly name,” Zar Tan Zhou commented, his strange face twisting into a sneer, “but an unusual beauty for these lands, and a wizard. Those fools in the village did well to send you to me.”

“I’m not much of a wizard,” Emmaline said, truthfully enough. Zar Tan Zhou, arched an angular eyebrow, leaning forward to peer at her with unsettling eyes.

“You say so, yet I see you are touched with more than the one feeble glimmer,” the sorcerer mused. Emmaline thought about the flickers of color she had been seeing lately in her mage sight. Since the time of Teclis, Imperial wizards had worked with a single wind of magic. That way lay purity and safety, using more than one wind inevitably lead to discordance and dark magic. According to legend many terrible necromancers and foul sorcerers had begun their careers as simple dabblers, no so different from her, eventually falling to evil as a result of using discordant magics. The thought made her mouth go dry.

“You will make a fine apprentice, and a fine wife,” Zar Tan Zhou declared. Emmaline’s mouth worked but she could think of nothing to say that wasn’t likely to get her blasted to paste.

“Tell me, are you a virgin?”

In Emmaline’s defense she really tried. The laughter exploded out of her in spite of her best efforts, doubling her over with mirth. The slight hint of hysteria tinged it but she couldn’t stop herself, laughing so hard that tears gathered in the corner of her eyes. The notion of herself as some prim blushing virgin was too ridiculous to contemplate. The sorcerer and the dwarf both stared at her as though she had gone made.

“I think you might have the wrong idea,” she managed at last, wiping tears away with the back of her hand. Zar Tan Zhou’s shock at the outburst seemed to give her new strength.

“And it’s a flattering offer, but I already kind of have a thing going and…”

“Silence!” Zar Tan Zhou snapped, veins standing out on his temples with anger.

“I care nothing for the customs of your so called Empire. Tzeench will bind you to me regardless of what words you have mumbled to your god,” the wizard sneered. That gave Emmaline some hope, if Zar Tan Zhou wasn’t gloating over Amal’s death, that meant that the Araybian thief was probably alive, probably had already cut the location of this mountain top out of Gert and Myrtle. Perhaps with the aid of the flying carpet he could reach her in time. Emmaline furious mumbled mentally at a variety of gods for just such an outcome.

“Take her and prepare her for the ceremony, the moons will be in alignment in a few short hours,” Zar Tan Zhou declared with a dismissive wave of his hand. The dwarf steeped forward and took Emmaline by the arm, leading her from the chamber and leaving the wizard to brood over the debauchery and insolence of Imperial women.

For the second time in a day Emmaline was stripped nude by a stranger. The Major Domo, or whatever the dwarf was, had taken her through several more palatial rooms into a white plastered room lined with unidentifiable vials on ebony shelves. The dwarf selected a bottle of attractively blown green glass and splashed oil from it onto her fingers, pressing the stubby pads against Emmaline. Unlike the leering goblin earlier, the dwarf’s face was somber. Emmaline had never seen a female dwarf before. Even in Altdorf dwarves were hardly a common sight, and those that lived there tended to be adventurers trying to make their fortune rather than families. Despite the jokes about dwarf women having beards, this one’s chin was smooth, though her side burns were longer than would have been the case on a human. To Emmaline’s eye she looked a lot like a very stocky Halfling, though she doubted any dwarf would appreciate such a comparison. Her hair was thick and piled high in a similar fashion to Emmaline’s own, a rich chocolatey brown that a Brettonian might have envied, though the style looked beyond alien on a dwarf.

“Who are you?” Emmaline asked, but the dwarf didn’t answer, just frowned looking troubled. To magically attuned senses, the collar of black iron seemed to throb harder.

“Who …are… you,” Emmaline tried, this time in bastardized Khazalid. The dwarf tongue was a closely held secret of course, but no association as long as that between humans and dwarves could hold a secret so completely. Dwarves had their criminals two and Emmaline had known a fence back in Altdorf who was often too drunk to remember to speak common. The limit of her meager store of Khazalid would have been ordering a beer and calling the dwarf’s mother a whore, neither of those seemed likely to improve her situation at this juncture. The words had the desired effect however. The dwarf reeled as though she had been struck unexpectedly by a child. She blinked hard and peered at Emmaline.

“Zwili… Zwili Hagarson,” the dwarf managed, gritting her teeth.

“Zwili,” Emmaline repeated, nodding encouragingly.

“I have gold. Can you help me get out of here?” she asked eagerly. Gold was always something to get a dwarf’s attention, and Emmaline should know, being afflicted by a similar ailment herself.

“It would have to be hidden … rather uncomfortably,” Zwili managed, speaking in common and beginning to sweat with the effort. Emmaline peered at her in puzzlement and then looked down at her naked body. She snickered.

“Well not on me,” she admitted, she didn’t have any gold in truth, her meager supply of coins having vanished when her original clothing was taken, but now was no time to find integrity.

“Cant… obey…” Zwili gasped, her hands mechanically continuing to apply the ointment. It was obvious from the dwarf’s eyes that a colossal internal struggle was taking place just to allow her to speak out of turn, though there seemed little that could be done about it. Emmaline could tell from the scent that the potion was a combination of mineral oil and perfume, though what purpose it served, if anything beyond the cosmetic she couldn’t tell. Her fingers flexed, did she dare try a spell? Zar Tan Zhou would certainly be expected it, but how long did she dare wait before acting?

"Well I wouldn't be filthy if you..." Emmaline trailed off unable to think of an insult that made any sense. Fortunately the strange wizard showed no particular inclination to listen. He was already striding away, strange robes whisking on the stone floor. The goblins wrenched her to her feet and dragged her off down the corridor. The goblins frog marched her into another cavern beyond the larder she had so recently raided.

"I can bathe myself," Emmaline snapped, but if the bewitched servitors heard her they gave no sign. The chamber contained a large pool that steamed with heat. The water bubbled up from beneath the mountain, heated deep below. The goblin pitched her bodily through the air, her arms flailed wildly as she let out an outraged shriek. She hit the water in a splash that sprayed water against the living rock of the cabin. Without preamble one of the goblins clambered into the pool with her and began stripping off her clothing with rough calloused hands.

"Hey!" Emmaline shrieked, beating at the greenskin with ineffecally closed fists. The creatures showed no sign that they even noticed the blows, scrubbing her clean with rough brushes and what smelled to be very expensive soaps. She tried to work a spell, but it seemed as though a thick blanket had been draped over her powers. Asp was apparently unwilling to be of any help and so she found herself scrubbed and roughly toweled dry.

"You wear!" one of the goblins demanded. It thrust out an armful of green silk with strange gold designs printed upon it. She snatched it from the goblins hand and pulled it on, awkwardly struggling with the unfamiliar cut. It seemed to have a sort of belt sewn into it which she quickly tied around her waist. No footwear was forth coming and the goblins half escorted half dragged her out of the chamber. They hauled her through several more corridors. The level of oppulence rose as they went, simple stone carvings giving way to painted murals inlaid with semiprecious stones. Finally they reached a pair of large gold doors swirled with disturbing patterns. The doors opened, seemingly of their own accord, and then Emmaline was shoved through. The chamber beyond was nothing short of a throne room. Rich tapestries hung from the walls, gleaming with gold thread. Elegant vases held cut flowers that Emmaline could not identify, fluted columns marched down the center, framing a mosaic of the constellations drawn in mythical style, heroes and monsters picked out in mother of pearl with silver grouting. At the end of the hall the sorcerer she had met earlier sat on a throne that seemed to be carved from guilded serpents.

"Better but still not quite there..." he remarked in his strange accent. Lifting his hand he spoke a word and snapped his fingers. Emmaline yelped as her hair curled up into an elaborate bun. A pair of jade sticks ripped away from the wall and pinned it in place. Small shoes spun themselves out nothing to cover her feet and a cherry blossom appeared behind her ear.

"There you go, come forward and present yourself to your king," he demanded imperiously.

You know who I am. Looking for one partner.

Potential Ideas-

Urban Fantasy - There is magic but no one knows about it. We know about it which might be a problem.

Regular Fantasy - Low level, low magic fantasy with ADVENTURE!

Sci-fi - Science fiction with ADVENTURE!

Apply within (PM)

A note on character sheets. Don't love them.

Of all the things Calliope expected to happen, her mark killing himself was not among them. She froze, fork laden with bloody meat halfway to her mouth, fuming. How dare he? How dare he ruin her kill this way, it was like a finger painter meddling with a master artists composition. For a moment she wished she knew some necromancy, so she could raise him up and kill him properly. Blood ran from his wrist, staining the table cloth and dripping onto the floor, a slight foam forming at the corner of his mouth from the poison. A waiter screamed and a moment later other patrons began to take note adding their own shrieks of horror to the chorus. Calliope set down her fork and lifted her napkin to dab at the corner of her mouth. The mottled fury of a moment before drained from her face to be replaced with icy calm. She swallowed down the rest of her wine and stood up.

“Unlucky in love I suppose,” she told the crowd, sounding as philosophical as she could, then she reached into her purse and flicked a gold coin down onto the table as a tip and walked out the door, metallic gown swishing behind her.

Chapter 2

Magister Therman was a disagreeable man. He was arrogant, he was corrupt, and he had a number of unsavory personal habits that would have made a ghoul blush. For all his bloated form, and disgusting appetites however, he was a senior member of the Arcane Council, wielding blackmail like a cudgel across a large swath of the Enchanters as well as diverse members of other factions. He was also the foremost expert on magical defences in the land, his skills highly sought by Magisters and lay Nobles alike. It was well he was so detestable, that made it easier, but even if he had been a saint, Calliope would still have decided to kill him. Therman’s tower was a fortress in every sense of the world, impregnable even for her, hundreds of concentric rings of magical security, wards and enchantments, glamors and guardians, that would take a master weeks to prize open. All to protect his privacy and, more importantly to Calliope, his library. Rumor had it that he had a copy of Kor Kalen’s Workings, an innocuous name for a book allegedly written by an apprentice of the legendary Kor Kalen - Sorcerer King of Inganok. The existence of Inganok, of Kor Kalen and of the book were all conjectural, but that was a lot of conjecture to ignore. If such a book existed it would be strictly forbidden by the Arcane Council, to be burned on sight, along with its owner. Such rules tended to be somewhat difficult to enforce however, provided the user of the tome took some pains to be discrete. There was no way that Magister Therman would ever be so crass as to be caught, and so long as the book remained behind his impenetrable walls it was safe. Which was why Calliope was going to make sure that it was taken from within that twisted fortress.

“Make way, make way for Mighty Magister Therman!” cried a knight in glittering armor. He marched at the head of a column of footmen arrayed in the gaudy orange and puce livery that Therman favored. Behind them came a dozen young men with pimply faces and fine garb mounted on bay stallions, Therman’s apprentices. The young mages formed a square around a large an ornate carriage, bedecked with so much gilt work it was a minor feat of biomancy that the four great white stallions pulling it didn’t burst their huge hearts with the effort. Naturally enough the carriage bristled with arcane defences, even if one could get past the soldiers and the apprentices, one would still have to contend with the great Magister himself. Killing him was an impossible task, or nearly so. For all his subtly, his power, and his defenses however, Magister Therman did have two weaknesses. The first was that he was predictable.

“Make way! Make way you curs!” The Captain of the Guard called in a haughty voice. That seemed rather a waste of effort. The Bridges was a thoughrouly respectable district, populated mostly by successful tradesmen that catered to the nearby Assembly, lexicographers, alchemists, jewelers, tailors, gilded scribes, all of whom had obsequiously scrambled out of the way at the approach of the coach. The soaring bridges from which the district took its name arched up over The Fingers. The Fingers were great natural gorges which had been by the delta of the River Hallicut in eons past, before it had been channeled into the Great Star Lake. Hundreds of feet deep, The Fingers were further expanded by tunnels and cave systems that ran beneath the city. A hundred bridges spanned them, leading in towards the Tower of Assembly that was the heart of the city. Many were simple stone constructions, but others were great works of metal and magic which soared majestically over the heads of the cities most wretched denizens. Calliope sat at a booth watching the spectacle of Magister Therman’s procession. With one hand she sipped from a cup of bitter tea, while the other was gently painted with intricate henna tattoos by one of the tea houses employees, picking out her pattern with the precision of a jeweler faceting a gem. It wasn’t quite time yet, but it would be soon.

Emmaline had just about managed to get control of her stomach and after rinsing her mouth out with some snow melt was feeling considerably better. There was still a buzzing at the back of her head, a bit like being drunk but not as pleasant, but she supposed she was probably not about to die at this point. That did leave the rather unpleasant question of what she was going to do. She still didn’t have the foggiest notion of how she had come to this place or where or what this place was, other than ‘in the mountains’ which was less than helpful. It seemed very unlikely she would be able to climb down the snow covered mountain in her current state and in any case, night would be falling soon and anyone caught out on the mountain would certainly be frozen to death. That left the doorway she had seen when she had come too. At least it would be out of the wind in there, and perhaps she would be able to find warm clothing and supplies to help her in the climb down tomorrow. Perhaps there would be treasure. That thought brightened her mood considerably, even though the reasoning part of her mind suggested it was more likely she would be swarmed by orcs or beastmen or Sigmar on knew what else. She wondered where Amal was. It was difficult to come to any guesses given she didn’t know how she had gotten here. There was a vauge memory of eating porridge and… had Myrtle Gertel poisoned her? What reason would she have to do such a thing, and even if she had, how had they gotten her away from Amal without catching a serious case of dagger-to-guts? Was it possible they had killed him? The thought went through her like cold ice for a moment before she got the better of it. The idea of someone named Gerd Gertel polishing of Amal seemed too foolish to credit. He would be ok, he had to be, Nothing to be done about it for the moment, the best she could do was to get inside and start looking around.

At first Emmaline had assumed the place was an abandoned dwarf hold. It was a reasonable assumption, they were in the World’s Edge Mountains after all, but it only took her a few minutes of wandering the passageways beyond the black door to dismiss the notion. Emmaline had never visited a Hold, few humans could claim to, but she had been around dwarves and their craftsmanship most of her life. The tunnels beyond the door were too large, and they had an odd curve to them that was faintly unsettling. There was iconography of a sort on the walls, though it was so stylized she couldn’t understand what it was meant to represent. It wasn’t easy to read in the light of the small ball of golden light that she conjured, the spell flame seeming to render it in soft flowing panels rather than sharp and distinct. In some ways it reminded her of the lizardman city in Lustria, though she couldn’t quite have said why. She passed through several rooms of unknown function, any furnishings long since decayed to moldering dust. Though there were several side passages, they were heavily cobwebbed, a marked contrast to the clear passage she followed. It was obvious that someone was coming back and forth here fairly often. It was growing considerably warmer as she progressed deeper, and there was a strange smell on the air. She tried to shake Asp awake, as much for companionship as for need, but for some reason the snake remained an inanimate tattoo.

She had been walking for perhaps ten minutes when she became aware that there was light ahead of her. Instinctively, she doused her light, creeping forward the way Amal had been trying to teach her. The light grew brighter until it seemed like daylight, though it was far too warm in the tunnel to be the case. She gasped in shock as she reached the stone lintels of the next chamber. It was a garden. An entire garden underground! Not a peasants kitchen garden either, but something a noble might keep on an estate. Perhaps an acre of perfectly manicured trees, shrubs and bushes growing underneath a mountain. Light streamed in from above, pulsing out of a great crystal high above that seemed to counterfit the sun. By this point in her career Emmaline had seen some remarkable things, but this still took her breath away. A neat path of white pebbles wended its way gracefully through the groves of trees to an ornamental fountain that sparkled merrily. A number of small bushes surrounded it, each ingeniously pruned into shapes of fantastical beasts. A butterfly fluttered past her as she stood bemused, drawing her eye to a grove of cherries laden with fruit. Eyes wide with amazement she stepped out onto the grass, walking over to the cherry trees. After briefly examining the tree with her wizards sight, having seen enough Derek Shelft plays to worry about eating fruit in magical groves, she plucked a fruit and popped it into her mouth. It was delicious, tart and firm and perfect.

With a groan of pleasure she plucked a handful more of the fruit, chewing hungrily and spitting the pits into the undergrowth against the chance that some gardener might notice so small a theft. She wandered back towards the fountain, observing the carefully trimmed trees with some interest. One of them appeared to be a dragon though of an unfamiliar type, all serpentine and coiling with short feet and long mustache like protrusions from its snout. A bit like one of those sausage dogs that were all the rage in Carlsbad when last she had been there. Another looked like a four armed woman with the tail of a snake, each arm holding a sword of neatly trimmed leaves. For no reason she could discern, Emmaline felt a deep hatred and disgust rise up within her and was barely able to keep from ripping the plant to pieces.

“Get it together,” she whispered to herself. The last thing she needed was to be lost in flights of fancy when she needed to be focused. With considerable effort she walked across the garden and into the hallway at the other side, passing down another hallway and into another chamber. This one was considerably less fabulous, almost a disappointment, but no less welcome for all that. The place was obviously a larder. Food was piled on shelves, sacks of grain, jars of oil, wheels of cheese, bottles of wine and more besides. None of it looked like it wouldn’t be at home in the wagons that rattled through the pass, though some of the seals on the wines suggested they came from further afield. Her eyes fell upon sacks of milled oats, the very same she had seen down in the village.

“Looted perhaps, tribute,” she mused, crossing to a pile of hessian sacks which smelled like they had once contained grain. She paused, weighing her options. Perhaps she should find somewhere to hide and wait for morning when climbing down the mountain might be a better idea than taking provisions now. On the other hand, if the cooks, or whatever was eating this food, were here during daylight hours she might not get another chance. Well, when in doubt, steal now and worry later. She snatched up the sack and took several wheels of cheese from the back of the shelves where she hoped their loss wouldn’t be obvious. To this she added some dried fruit and a few jars of jam, before finally taking a pair of wine bottles and adding them to her haul. Thinking of the arctic blast of air that had greeted her, she grabbed several more sacks that, in her mind at least, she might be able to use as additional garments. Hopefully she could convince Asp to come out and assume his staff form so she could use him as a bindle stick, although she suspected such a use would offend the serpents towering dignity. Having stocked up on supplies she headed back towards the garden, thinking that she could hide in one of the cobwebbed side passages to wait for morning. Then she stepped into the light and collided with something squat and green and with too many teeth. Emmaline bounced off the thing, lost her balance and landed on her rump on the grass at the edge of the chamber, sack flying from her hands and spilling out cheese and wine bottles. She stared up in shock into the beady hate filled eyes of a goblin. It was incongruously wearing some kind of garment of muddy blue cloth, bound at the waist with a belt of knotted black. Its prominent brows were shaded by a straw hat, not dissimilar to that seen on the head of peasant anywhere in the empire, and it gripped an iron tined rake in its clawed finger. A band of black iron had been sealed around its neck, a strange angular rune stamped into the metal.

“Humie loota!” it screeched in its own tongue and grabbed Emmaline by the wrist, its rake falling to the ground as its other hand grabbed her and pulled her struggling to her feet. Emmaline shrieked out the first spell that came into her mind and there was a flash of golden light. When she wasn’t immediately killed, Emmaline opened her shocked eyes. The goblin was frozen in mid shout, a solid block of stone. Emmaline felt a momentary surge of triumph at having worked such a spell, a basic one for a Gold Wizard but a struggle for a student as indifferent as her. Unfortunately her triumph was short lived as the stone goblin, while impressive, hadn’t been anything like balanced, and it began to topple over, solid stone fingers still gripping Emmaline’s wrist. With a cry she toppled after it, finding herself on the ground a moment later, vaguely surprised not to have broken her wrist or been crushed beneath the goblins stony form. To make matters worse, she had no idea how to reverse the transfiguration spell. She pulled at her wrists but they might as well have been manacled for all the good it did.


“I just don’t get it,” Inez told Alrik as she sat in his cabin, booted feet up on the table as she rasped a whetstone down the length of her sword in slow rhythmic motions. The boots were her own, one of the few things she did own that hadn’t been given to her by the league and deducted from her pay. They were cavalry boots, or had been once, crafted by a master out of supple, brown, Estanian leather, with gilt buckles and intricate stitching. Hard use had taken its toll over the years, and the heels had been worn down by the miles until they were better suited to walking than riding. A fine network of cracks had appeared at the heels and toes from the constant flexing, and the gilt was worn and faded. Old Guierlelmo would have tutted to see his gift so dillipated. The rest of her ensemble was guild issue, dark grey trousers and a white cotton shirt, cinched at the bottom by her sword belt, she hadn’t bothered with the tabard, a needlessly showy thing that was more of a nuisance than a help, save for actual official events. The ship was bustling along under a gentled wind, making good time for once. There was a slight unpleasant thumping every few seconds as the great square prow battered it’s way through the increasing chop of a late afternoon.

“I mean to say,” she continued, lifting the blade and peering down the length of it for any nicks or imperfections.

“I suppose he might have had reasons to kill you. Maybe you tupped his sister or his wife, or maybe he just hates all bean counting merchants,” Inez mused in a tone that suggested that such hatred was both natural and understandable, thinking of King Salazar back in Estania, grinding its people under his heel on the back of loans and trade concessions to money grubbing northern merchants.

“Afterall who didn’t dream of stabbing their landlord? But let’s say he sticks you with a crossbow bolt,” she jabbed the point of her sword to emphasize the point.

“What does he do then? He has a dead merchant and leagues of ocean in all directions, nowhere to go you see?” Maybe he planned on framing me for it she thought. Possible but hardly the sort of chance to stake your life on.

“Alrik?” Inez asked, the merchant was staring distractedly off into space again. Clearly the killing earlier was something novel to him and was taking a bit of getting used to. He had been somewhat distracted all afternoon while they had asked questions of the hands and tried, rather unsuccessfully, to make some sense of it. No one, it seemed, knew anything or at least they weren’t saying. The captain had been of no help, continually calling men to loosen sheets or set thingamagigs or whatever it was sailors did to fill their days. He had been incurious, merely shrugging his shoulders philosophically at the whole affair. Maybe this sort of thing happened often enough at sea, Inez wasn’t in a position to judge, certainly employers looking to save a fee, or enemies looking to remove a captain who rudely refused a bribe sometimes resorted to such tactics.

“Are you with me, o noble patron?” she asked.
Under normal circumstances gold tended to predominate Emmaline dreams. Vast chambers filled with it, great cities made of it, heaping chests overflowing with it, gold in every form and variety imaginable. More rarely she suffered from nightmares, sometimes being back in the Emir’s harem, sometimes watching endless columns of sun-bleached dead march relentlessly over desert sands. Her current nightmare was, therefore, something beyond her experience. A giant ugly woman dressed for a Reikish fair, shoved a huge wooden spoon containing gloopy unappetizing porridge into Emmaline’s mouth over and over, completely ignoring her refusal to swallow it. Her cheeks budged with the compacted slop and it spilled down her front, over her chest in slow slimy rivulets. The woman’s pink pigtail wig kept slipping, revealing a stubbly bald scalp that made her look like Gerd as she crooned.

“Just a little more, he likes a witch, just a little more he likes a witch,” the first syllable of witch seeming to somehow contain a vast gush of wind, like an eagle beating its wings. Suddenly she was vomiting, but not porridge, her ejecta was dark with wine or maybe rum and she clung to the railing of a ship as it rode up monstrous gray waves and then plunged down the other side, plowing great sheets of white water up over her bow. Water whipped all around her in a storm, soaking her to the skin. Canvas snapped deafeningly and lines and timbers squealed in protest. A dashing looking sailor with a blade of Dark Elven make was shouting at her, he shook her by the shoulder and pointed aft towards the cabin, riding the heaving deck like a trapeze artist as he did so. Bile and acid burned at the back of her throat as she gripped the rail. Groggily, her eyes tracked backwards towards where he was pointing. A beastman with the head of a stag burst from the doorway of the blazing building, breakfast was evidently burning by the smell that seemed to cling to everything. It lifted a bloody axe and shook it at her roaring and spraying spittle out in a fast funnel. Raising her hands she sent a beam of porridge pouring fourth to encase the thing, the thick gloopy mess hardening to lumpy stone in the vague shape of a charging beastman.

“Just a little more,” the fat woman/man demanded, jamming another spoonful into Emmaline’s mouth. The Emir nodded, head lolling grotesquely on his broken neck, face blackened and swollen, the ligature marks of the garrote around his throat.

“You shouldn’t let your dreams upset you so,” Albrecht the Magnificent admonished, waggling a finger before turning to vomit over the rail of the heaving ship.

“Emmaline,” the dangerous looking sailor bellowed, reaching out a calloused hand to clasp hers.

“Emmaline,” Amal shouted, a dizzying vista extending far below him, climbing something vast and thrashing.

“Emmaline,” the thief called, lifting a pistol to fire over her shoulder at some unseen threat.

“Emmaline,” something vast and ageless, whispered. Suddenly she was a vast golden statue, herself but other, sitting cross legged atop some ancient temple looking out over a forest of impossible lushness, her eyes giant faceted sapphires, each facet reflecting an identical statue with identical facets, each holding identical images. She opened her mouth to scream and birds of impossible plumage burst from the forest below, great fish leaped from the ocean, scales flashing, rodents fled into the corners and alleys of the burning street. A dizzying plethora of kaleidoscopic images that spun around her in ever increasing fury, forming themselves into a tremendous whirlpool that sucked her down and down…

Stone slammed into her belly as she came to, behind her something vast swooped up and away. She tumbled and rolled, somehow, perhaps due to her ample ballast, coming up on her knees. Cold mountain air rushed through her hair and she vomited explosively, porridge and bile splattering the stone in front of her. The tempest of colors faded gray and then solidified and she felt her belly cramp painfully. She vomited again, managing to lean forward to press her palms against the stone. Bright lights stormed about her vision for a moment, mostly gold, but with hints of green, and purple, blue and grey. She realized that her inner eye was wide open and she instinctively shut her inner eye. The world returned to its normal color and Emmaline pressed a trembling palm to her head. She whispered a spell to herself, a simple foolish can trip meant to banish hangovers. Her rebellious stomach settled, Though it didn’t still the trembling in her body, a byproduct of adrenaline, or being sick rather than whatever had been in the porridge. She was on a wide stone platform of some kind, hewed out of the side of the mountain, behind her was an incredible view of the World’s Edge mountains, sweeping down from snowcapped crags to the rocky pass and even hints of green fields beyond. A tumbling mass of white water turned itself into the broad silvery ribbon of a distant river as it collected tribute from each mountain it passed. Turning away from the vertiginous drop before she grew too dizzy she saw that where the stone platform met the mountain a large door had been carved, the style of architecture unknown to her.

“Where on Taal’s scruffy arse am I?” she whispered to herself, wrapping her arms around her chest against the chill wind.

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