The tearing sound of fabric giving way to sheer force. In all the haste of interrupting what dark ritual may be taking place, the young sorcerer failed to notice two things. The first being the direwolf who had been pawing away with great concern over the doors. The second being the newly torn robes as the wolf managed to step on the trailing edge of his lunar finery as Thomas rushed into break a possible rite from summoning forth evils beyond the ability of the party. As the concerned lad dashed into the room, the wolf's claws had caught on the hem of the youth's robe and split them down the middle as two opposing forces met. Alas were it not for the boy's under linens he'd be short of mooning the party. However the damage was done and for the most part, Thomas had managed to ruin yet another robe of the three he had packed along his travels. The first lost to vomit, and now the second being sundered at a crucial seam beneath the intricate layering.
"Stop your ritual necromancer!"
Thus there was the boy, standing in his underwear with an accusation fingers pointing out of his robe's billowy sleeves. It may perhaps be a bit more authoritative if it were not for the lad's age, or hairless tanned skinny legs sticking out underneath the preserved robe uppers. It seemed Thomas hadn't quite realized what had happened and thus with the folly of wanton youth, rushed into the ritual headfirst the moment his eyes focused in on the dimly lit room. A be-robed Figure kneeling over a bed which contained perhaps another body did not make for a welcome sight given the nature of their expected foe. And yet, was the sight of Thomas' outlined derriere quite a welcome sight?
Was it the wooziness experienced after the spell, or was it reality? Thomas swore he saw Keystone dancing? Couldn't possibly be, that the fisticuffs resembled some form of ballet? Spinning and twirling with pirouettes and plies? A vision of the shadow boxing chef in a frilly pink tutu came to mind, which was in a way more frightening than amusing in itself. It took a moment there for Thomas to get back into the game, a few blinks of uncertainty at having watch Keystone's interpretive danse. Staring dumbfounded as his attention struggled to refocus against the intensity light which dazed his own eyes. Visions of realities fractured apart, sundered into the many folds written in the cosmos, the universe laying over itself and perhaps in this one Thomas found himself in Keystone was such a ballerina. Or maybe it was the sorcerer who spun around the world until eventually all possibilities collapsed into one and then the fog of the mind cleared.
"Ugh. I... I don't... I can try..." Groping with a hand the floor and walls, with a caution to slow his excitement, the vile reaction of last still fresh in the mind. Sensing out with such restrain, looking out for the leylines of a entrapping spell, something was definitely present, but there was no sign of traps of a magical nature to the best of Thomas' ability, recalling back the use of wards and barriers which would have suddenly sprung. No chalk lines or etchings felt at his fingertips, nothing out of the ordinary, per say, no engraved runes or Sigils. There was nothing he could find, as he approached the first door before him nearest Kyra. "I don't sense any sort of ward on this door," backing off slowly before approaching Sana's door, minding the direwolf, "Don't think there's one here either."
All those guardians for two locked doors? Thomas could only ponder the use of such feeble security guards. "Can't rule out anything on the other side, there's magic about nearby, I just can't quite... Well there's no Wards on the doors so it should be breakable. But uh, I can't quite say what's behind them. I mean it don't think it's magically trapped at least, but there could be some undead army waiting behind that door for us... It's possible you know that the doors are enchanted to open with a passcode or some sort of identifier to bypass them or something. Seems rather silly to me to have guards guarding two locked doors." Thomas gave his input and best efforts. He did his part, and turned over to Keystone or Sana or Kyra for direction next.
Location: Level 2 (The Tower floor, not character level). Interacting with: Scooby Doo Gang (It's the direwolf, not sure about the bear) & A2?
"You and me both Satilla."
Well despite beginning with utter failure, and a rather nauseating case of vomiting due to malingering malodorous malice, everything thus far had been quite fortunate. They hadn't taken as much as scratch on them from these clunky undead tin cans. Wandering up the stairwell was easy enough with their scouts having lead the vanguard, and Sana taking the sentry. A narrow pass would normally be ill-advised, but seeing how their fighters had covered both points, it was safe enough for the party casters to advance forward. Although Murphy's Law would suggest they were doomed for failure at any point along their trek. Yet it seems the necromancer had given them every suspicion required to believe they were on the right track in investigating this tower of armored undead. But then again a secret trapdoor switch or something could mean they would be have to keep climbing like the nautilus' spiralling chambers.
"I've got one!" Not to be caught disappointed, there were awaiting their ascent, two spooked armors ready to start attacking. And yet, given the results of the last round these enemies seemed rather... Lacking? At this point Thomas' excitement could have done more damage to his spellcasting concentration as the young sorcerer was overly eager to contribute to the destruction of the armors. His finger pointed at a spot just above the armor against the wall to his right, with the flair and gusto of rash youth just looking past Sana. Sure the cost of the spell may leave him a bit less than ready for combat, but there were only two armors, and a bunch of adventurers. That and Satilla had Thomas' back and could guide him by should he fail to readily steady himself. Such bravado and faith, foolish to some degree as an unfocused spell could readily backfire and instead rebound, frying the entire group instead or some other catastrophically embarrassing moment like the episode of regurgitation outside. It was never a wise move to go rush into magic, and yet here was Thomas, finger pointed dropping down the hammer on a would be attacker.
A searing radiance of the sun, dropped down from the ceiling in a pillar of pure light. Bathed in the light, the armored zombie must have roasted from the inside. Light disintegrating flesh into ashes, turning the armor into something shy of a oven with the roasting remains still sizzling and smoldering away at the last of the light fading into the sealing zone of sunlight that lingered as a ward. Fortunately for the armored zombie however, the secondary effect of the spells would be unnecessary as it readily slumped down and the metal helmet fell against the second floor (or the British first floor).
"Did I get'em?" Thomas managed to comment out before closing his eyes a bit from the rebounding stupor. This was always the worst part of the spell, being unable to react appropriately for a few seconds until the blood flow returned to normal and the magic energy step back down from overloading his mind with visions of bright light. Rather disorienting, but they have at least now seen both the light and dark of Thomas' spells. Maybe they'd get to see a few more, but Thomas really didn't count of using the three greater cyclic spells he had, they had awfully long recovery times to gain the level of cosmic energy required to cast them. Plus they shifted his phases, and next after sun would have been... Bashful Moon.
Returned from the shadows as the darkness, the final Cerberus lay lifeless. The bisection of the jaws and throat split open revealing the oropharyngeal cavity of the central head. The amount of trauma caused by the Hexblade's darksaber was brutal, and the blood loss the ultimate demise as the two panicked heads tried their best to keep alive. The last moments of terror burned into the retinas, the darkness everlasting as it was pulled unwillingly to the shadowgloam. And even as short of a time it had spent there, no creature remained in the shadows so long without being touched. Anger, Confusion, Fear, and Despair, the four emotions warped and wrapt into a series of bursts until at last death came like a sweet angel to kiss those trembling lips. And alas, the silence of the beast which signaled the conclusion of the battle. Much to the disappointment of the umbramancer who had wanted to feel the bite of those teeth against his ribs, all three whelps were vanquished by the combined forces of the party.
Though his sadomasochistic bloodlust was quelled, it appeared Jill had other plans. Dispelling away the Darkness from Koan's maw, the shining light of dark like dawn rising with fury. The splendor of the heavens radiating through her, her fingertips like the very touch of the divines! And there his eyes could not peel themselves away from such ethereal wonder, the glamour like a shimmering wool over his burning gaze that watched as a young goddess approached him with the sway of her feathery wings that sprouted behind her corona. Her sweet golden voice like the very choir angelic, befitting of a cherubic bard as the meaning of her command became a haze. Perhaps he heard her not? Or did he just naturally fall down from the glory of being in her presence? His knees gave in, falling from grace once more, the retreating shadows fading to the power of Jill's illumination. Upon his knees the fallen aasimar knelt before the other aasimar, stricken with an undeniable urge to serve her. Gone was the sight of Koan who lurked behind him, gone were the shadows that surrounded him. For now, Jill commanded the warlock's attention, her words unwittingly laced with fey guile. He had no choice but to obey, stricken and smitten by her dominating charms.
The next time you banish an enemy I have brought low, I swear upon the heavens...
Words that chilled him, almost branded across his chest as 'Sauron' helpless watched the queen rebuke him. And yet the promise of her action sworn up on the heavens, an oath the aasimar should take with gravity lest they fall, was left unsaid as those glowing eyes blinked back to normal and the cheery girl returned with congratulations all around. Though the radiant one turned away and left him to rise from his trance, slowly feeling the strength return to his lower limbs, the enthrallment still present as his eyes sharpen to gaze at Jill. Indeed the haze in his mind iresome, as the whispers of the dark called back, slowly turning his head towards the once forgotten Koan. Caught between two mistresses, it seems and how he savored the fact that they would tear him apart limb from captured limb. Humbled and his resolve shaken, the sight certainly a display for the rest of the combatants there, it was a cold bath which cleared his thoughts, though still compelled to follow after Jill. The warlock felt the partial tug away from his senses, the subtle nuances of magic that made him obey her command.
"No need for spells if you want me on my knees before you." Tailing after his commander, the object of his want and will, bewitched by the song of the bard. How would Koan take this strange betrayal? Or all his attention lost from her and now directed at the shining Jill? Or would she understand that the bard had played a trick on his foggy mind, by the allure of both women and battle. Either way Noriam stood by Jill, his comment directed only to her as a casual aside, thrown into the mix as the enchanted man reached for his rod. Felt heavy in hand as the pulsating shaft was grasped and pulled free. Long as a wand but far thicker, the potency of the warlock's rod hidden beneath the mantle. Cold tarnished silver metal bore the appearance of a dark wing, yet a polished part bore the spiraling threads which snaked around the rod towards the other end. Tool in hand, his shadow blade sheathed in the darkness of the cloak, waiting to be drawn as if by magic. He would prepare himself for another battle if needed, though his shadow required rest from having pulled those creatures into the dark. For Jill perhaps he would milk one last spell from his rod, and muster up the performance he had given Koan in the darkness. Would Koan pull him back from the light and entice the hexed hexblade into the blinding dark? Or was it Jill who bore the light as blinding as the shadows themselves?
Either way, it seemed there was a lover's quarrel between the more monstrous amongst them. Namely the beholder and kobold, something of a dispute that 'Sauron' had no stake in or any interest in resolving. Thus just as he and Jill became a show for the other, so too did Dyn and Askia. Untill of course a huge tiger threw itself into the whirlpool washing machine like a blue stripped sock, and found itself caught in the beholder's spin cycle. To which their threesome ended with some exchange of tentacle waving. So the lizard followed the fish, and the tiger followed the octopus. Now, who was it that 'Sauron' should follow? The Angel or the Succubus?
Cogs and wheels scattered across the floor. The winch stuck in the mainspring as a trembling hand turned the key. Once, twice, thrice, oh how great was the labor of love. For years he had poured over his books there in the great library of the greatest of all gods. All manners of education, every lecture attended, the notes he had complied! Oh for this moment of triumph he devoted himself to learning all that he could. Sure he was a lowly overseer within the grand order of the White Moths, but soon, soon! Four, five, six, mentally counting off the turns of the winch as the thoughts flew. With the success of this experiment they would have to promote him. They'd see what wonders he could bring to the order, the value there was in a non-wizard in the city. Those overly snobby mages, rubbing their noses in the books, they jeered at him behind his back, he was certain of it as certain as the simulated sun rises over the city of Akhkabaren. How dare they mocked his lack of spellcraft, an ability that he had no affinity towards. Not all where able to study the art, and wrap their minds around the nature of how reality is an illusion. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen...
The first lesson of magic it to learn what it is. The very fundamentals of the art. And while it seems basic, too many magi cast without this understanding. Magic is in its very essence all around you, not just because we are in Thethoth, but everywhere. The basis of all magic is simple, anyone can learn it in theory, yet practice, practice is another question. Begin by examining what magic is. As I have stated, it is everywhere around us, but what is it? When a sorcerer summons forth flames to boil his tea at the snap of his fingers, what is happening? The flames appear, and this is what we perceive as magic, perhaps one of the most simplest parlor tricks in mundane uses for magic many of us in Thethoth are accused of. And yet what is happening to conjure up those gentle flames is the very work of gods!
The work of gods, yes, the memory of the lecture clear. Long before he was hardly an Initiate in the Order he remembered the words precisely. The bold claims, the mysticism about the speaker, all of it was sophistry, but to a young boy wide-eyed in wonder this talk was like listening to the God of Knowledge himself speak directly into your ear. Everyone could learn magic, hah! What nonsense, if it were true then he would have had to prove himself worthy of the White Moths by writing his treatises on gear ratios. A simple academic challenge, a hoop to jump through, nothing more. By powers or publications, entry into the order was set in either scholarship or spellcraft, any one offering either was admitted entrance into their temples. It was the lowest of all ranks, Initiate, they who sought knowledge and would have to earn their keep by taking care of the tasks. Cleaning, cooking, copying, all the little roles to be played by the newest inductees. Those who had magic could conjure up servitors to do such duties, but those without had to struggle. But it was worth it, years of hardship endured to take up the mantle of acolyte, and from there overseer. Soon they would promote him to curator and he would have his own section within the grand library, or better yet his own satellite library to run. Yes, just keep turning the winch, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight...
When our Lord plucked out his own eyes, the knowledge magic was granted to the first magi. They were inept at spells, but understood the nature of them. When you and I see the magical flames to light our kettles, we are blind to the wonder that where there was no fire, there is now. Yet, to the first magic users, the ability to morph reality to their desires was amazing. The Right Eye, one of the Paradoxes of our Lord allows those flames to exist, the exact mechanics of which is beyond mortal comprehension, but I know that without the Right Eye, all magic would cease to function. Magic redefines reality, it is to argue the universe that something should be that never was, or something should not be that truly was. Pause and consider the magnitude of my words, its meaning, the truth being that magic is a way where spellcasters can change the very firmament! The spells are nothing more than carefully constructed ways to convince the world around us to bend to our will, received by the eye and transmitted across to be amplified until the universe can reject us no more. In lieu of fighting our demands, the very fabric of being is rewritten to our will. This incredible cosmic event is what we cast as magic. And the most important rule of magic is...
The memory faded away as the sweat was wiped from his brow. His trembling hands strained at how tight the coils were. He could not stop here, not after thirty-six turns, there would not be enough stored energy to power his device. The great gear springs that needed to be turned, the series of cogs which must work in perfect unison, all relied on mainspring the winch will power. Months of research and even longer of commissioning artists from around Thethoth and beyond to construct each piece by hand. With the all the secrecy needed such that even they knew not what the parts were for. Sure it would have been easier to commission a single craftsman to create all the pieces, but then his would could be replicated. What a terrible thought that he could be copied, his ingenious designs stolen by those amateur clockworkers. He had poured his very soul into the work, it would be all for nothing now if some hack made it first. It was a stroke of paranoia and brilliance that he designed multiple automatra, common clockwork curiosities, that within concealed the true part that was necessary. The precious mainspring for example was form a large chronograph, designed to be sailor's time piece to keep track of the hours with daily winding. It was almost a sin to dismantle a thing of beauty, the golden accents pried apart as the empty shells lie somewhere in the pile. All for the precision mainspring that would wind his marvel up.
That no matter how much you will something to be, reality is an non-static function. Eventually, any spell cast will collapse, by exhaustion of the caster, the spell itself, or reality itself. Should the resolve of the caster fail to see what can be, instead of what is, the spell ends by the shortcomings of the magi. Else, if the spell in itself is flawed, such as by lacking the proper formulations to successfully alter reality, then this too shall fail. And finally, while experience can overcome the first two reasons, the final reason claims all magi alike. It is a well known event known as 'The Blink' which is felt throughout the cosmos, it signifies the Eye resetting itself. The over use of magic, on the world scale will eventually overload the Eye in a predictable cycle and all spells will cease to function for the few moments and need to be recast when the Eye is finished restore its purpose. These three things limit the use of magic to be considerably fleeting. However like our example, the fires produced by magic will have already made the tea water boil. And as such, even if a spell is quickly produced and extinguished. Thus the physical effects may still be retained, even long after the spell is complete, which is why magic is immortal.
Fifty. And not a turn more. It was all he could manage, the coil would no longer wind. It was tight enough already that he feared the winch would snap. Yet still it remained, bearing the pressure that he did, all the aspirations, hopes and dreams. He remembered it well the day he snuck into the lecture hall. A mere boy among the learned men, sitting in the back beneath his heavy robes. He saw them put on their airs, pretending to understand, amusingly lying to themselves as they listened to the speaker drone on and on about the fundamentals of magic. It was almost as if they took magic for granted, the work of the gods, the power of creation and destruction in the hands of mortals. His parents had warned him about meddling in such, it was forbidden for man to wield such blasphemy. Yet there he was, a desert nomad boy, disguised as one of them, observing in their midst and learning what magic was. A fragile tool that offered limited unlimited power at a whim, it was not, as the speaker claimed immortal. No, magic died with every rebirth of the Eye, and it was by the grace of the Grand Magus that it was allowed to continue. And what if someone slew him? The historical wars had proven it was possible to kill a god, and should Great Lord of the Knowledge fall, what should happen to magic?
No. That assement is incorrect. Magic is a mortal as humans are. For they too leave a mark upon the world as proof of their existence. X has given mortals magic as an experiment, it is a tool granted to a child. He watches and observes, from those findings he will draw a conclusion and one day magi will awaken to find themselves powerless. So study magic well, learn to wield it, earn the respect to use it.
The words that lashed out to rebuttal the haughty wizard. The moment where all in the room laughed as they turned towards the boy where the comment seemingly came from, and then were instantly silenced. For quietly sitting beside the boy was the greatest figure among all Magi, considered to be sorcerer supreme, considered a rightful heir by their Lord and bestowed a spark of divinity. How could they have known at the time? The Archmagus had entered as the boy had, quietly and quickly to avoid arousing attention. He remembered how the thinkers quieted, how the elder commanded respect and humbled the presenter. He did not know it at the time, but he had sat beside Atefir, the Fourth Hand, the mortal man who became divine. If anyone knew more about magic than anyone in the room, it was the chosen demigod. But those words left their impression on the boy, what enlightenment came as both his parents and the spellcasters philosophies merged into one in the wisdom of Atefir.
Of... Of course Archmagus, your knowledge and wisdom is beyond our grasp. Forgive my ignorance and stupidity, I am but a dim candle to your sunlight illumination over the desert sands. A thousand pardons I beg of you, I was foolish to think I could understand what magic truly is.
Waving off the admonitions, the demigod had signaled the man to rise and finish. But of course the great master left and the crowds followed to share in his wisdom, and no longer could the boy bask in the brilliance that was discourse. Yet the point remains, what happens when the magic ends? Would they not need a new source of power to prevent a society that suckled on the very nipple of magic to exist crumble? A new age without magic, preparation to be made where mortals can still experience the conveniences they had grown accustom to. Clockwork mechanisms emulated magic enough, surprising ever the most learned spellcaster of how they appeared to move on their own accord. The machinations creating the illusion of unbelievable automation even in a world where servants were made out of stone and clay. Maybe it was the child-like wonder such tinkercraft could elicit, a promise of something new and wonderful, more captivating that actual magic. But alas as he released the tightened winch to watch the mechanism come to life, what would keep the giant gearsprings wound? What answer could parch his lips dry from exhaustion. How could he design a gift equal to magic that they would all know his name for ages to come? When shall he be called Imhotep the Innovator?
The kettle whistled.
The shrill call of a boiling waters, singing the rising note, first breathy and airy until eventually the cry could be ignored no longer. The turbulent bubbling heard within the iron vessel as the fires crackled over the burning coals. The slow roll of angry waters calming like the spring water drawn from the pleasant lake from whence it came. A world away, far from the desert sands, the connected threads interwoven between their thoughts. A reflection of a wizened face appeared as the hot water cascaded down into the stoneware pot like a gentle waterfall. Oh the paradoxes of this land, could perhaps match the ones of his desert home. Of how there could be such peace in a land governed by the goddess of war. This tranquility was to be admired, the blossoms in the gardens within view, the rolling hills of rice and flowering trees upon the scene ridge. A simple Hindoganian teahouse provided a small sanctuary to stop during his worldly travels, seeking out knowledge from lands afar rather than waiting for it to come to him. Admiring the simplicity of it all, the mountains in the far distance, the fragrant salted sea breeze that wafted in the air. Of all the cosmic splendors his journey had taken him, it was moments of leisure that suited his old soul best.
Reclining in his stellar robes he was at ease in the countryside of simple folk, rural farmers with a culture of their own. There was no need for such formalities of mortal, demigod, and god, beings were beings were beings. And he was no different than any other soul looking to purchase some time to relax in his travels. It was as if they had never encounter a demigod, or a foreign visitor at that, as he ventured across the archipelago cataloging the biodiversity there. Perhaps the other demigods ventured into the larger cities of the isles, Toshi no Hi was the place to be. The vibrant crimsons of the pillars and wood, like bloodstains befitting a goddess of war. Perhaps it was a symbol of the tumultuous times past, but erected overlooking the port of sea was the ivory castle perhaps a new metaphor for the purity that sought to rise above the past bloodshed. He had heard much of her father's story, recorded in the recounting of bards and books. It was almost funny that her castle should seek to soar above, like a white heron upon the waters. And yet there was no need to rush for formal audience with the goddess of this land, surely she has knowledge his arrival, he had sent a message in advance. He came not to study the art of war, but rather to study the art of culture and life.
葉が落ちる 緑の丘に 茶の中で
Written across a sheet of desert moth silk, the ink beautifully shimmering ebon black against the creamy white. A small poem to be gifted to the proprietors of the tea house. Maybe the couples were surprised the stranger used the brush so well, a scholar of all things who came upon a strange beast made of a living series of scrolls. They feared him and honored him, perhaps in another paradox, as something they did not understand, but found interesting to know. Was it not the same way for the gods? Such philosophy was for another caste, all they needed here was to farm the land for food and tea, and nothing sates more than a sip of fresh hot tea. Pouring the cups as his old fingers trembled to lift the light pot. Powerful but frail, his ancient bones could no longer bear much weight, requiring a surge of magic to assist his posture beneath the concealment of the robes. Yes they looked impressive, but remove them and all the was left was a skinny bag of skin and bones. Wrinkled as time passed on, each crease a new truth revealed in an epiphany. It was almost a badge of honor by now, a mark of distinction which marked his venerable age. The soothing bittersweet grassiness of steamed tea leaves, the warmth filling the core as Atefir slowly sipped in silence and soothing serendipity. This was a wise stop.
Tomorrow would bring a new sun come dawn, and were the sorcerer would be by then was a mystery to even himself. Perhaps he should pay respects to his... Aunt? Or where they technically contemporaries? The ascension of a god was a topic left untouched in their discussions between creator and created. X had instilled within Atefir a portion of his power, but nothing more came about it. A partial empowerment, neither god nor mortal, but somewhere in a state inbetween. The Archmagus knew the Grand Magus saw him as an experiment, a paradox which would resolve itself one way or another as all paradoxes do. Either he would ascend to godhood proper by his own means, or he would destroy himself as the divinity ate away the mortal vessel. Or perhaps there was another option left unsaid, as the divine tea was savored on the aged palate. Tomorrow, perhaps a visit to the Goddess of War, if only for a formality to demonstrate some filial piety to one's gracious host. But for now, there was tea in the teapot, and a half-dozen students eager to learn about the many adventures in far-away lands beyond the great seas.
"I had journeyed across the land of the eternal sun, they call such a land Solas, there the vast sky above is lit with the great eye of Telios, god of Sun and Sky, where no night dares set foot. The sunbeams danced upon the high mountains that rose the great cities the Sunfolk had made, their great buildings made of solid light itself. It was an experience to hold sunshine in your hand, solid as a brick that paved the roads to the lower city in the river plains. Only those that could fly could enjoy the majesty of the land, as the rivers sparkled like flowing jewelry out across the grassy meadows, but my travels did not end until I had reached the great capital city of Dawn..."
The narrative which began paused as the scholar took a moment to sip his tea.
"A city in the clouds, high above where to reach it you had to climb the highest mountain and bathe yourself in the light that would pull you up into the city. You had to be careful for the edge of the city is a far drop below, but to see those massive white pillars of light was breathtaking. A view of the accomplishments of the Sunfolk no less than the City of Fire. Its people were sunny of course, both in a literal sense, and humorous one, courtly though they were, there was a great friendliness they had extended to me during my visit, albeit I must say you all have treated me just as well, allowing me to reside here in your village and drink your tea for which I am grateful. But where was I? Oh yes, the great splendor of Dawn was not in its mere height above the land, towering over as you can see the very edges of the other nations around it, perhaps even in the distance you can see my city of Akhkabaren, or perhaps rather the inverted pyramid that contains it."
It has been quite some time since Atefir had felt the desert sands but less so another sip.
"But my city is a story for another visit. For in the splendid city of Dawn, in the clouds was the gathering of champions from all nations: The Sky Games. A spectacle of which I had the pleasure of viewing, and once had the honor of partaking in. Or at least in my youth, but now I fear I am far too old to compete against the younger athletes who seek to usurp my title, ah but I digress, forgive me. Where was I? Oh yes, the Sky Games, a show of all the great powers of man and god. All sorts of competitions, from gladiator fights to magical duels, shows of archery and creature riding, yes dragons, native pegasi, even the mighty phoenixes on the command of Telios himself. The clash of titans, fighting for victory and honor, the glory that is to return home champion of an event, it is a thrill which unites everyone watching to cheer on. In truth I can barely begin to describe the awe of watching these events, but perhaps one day people of all nations will see such games in the sky."
And how did you, most honored guest, partake in the games?
"Ah, well I suppose I can speak a little of my own past glory without sounding too narcissistic. But in those days, I was still young, barely beginning to understand the powers bestowed upon me. I sought to test my own abilities, what greater chance was there? While I was easily out matched in brute combat, and never had a knack for archery, I was among the champions of magic. I remember three among the other competitors that I could consider my equal. The lunar siblings, powerful sorcerers in their own right, and of course there was Astaros..."
For the past week or so, Astaros had been enshrined within his inner sanctum. Not that it was "his" sanctum, of course, but rather an empty room of significant size and, after some modification, immense ability to channel magical power in ways conducive to Astaros' further research into the true depths of his sorcerous might. In this room, he wondered that perhaps even he might be able to stand against a god... though of course, this was folly to so much as consider; if anything, any deities who had followed him here could well be able to use the room to their own ends anyway. Or destroy it with him inside. Still, it was nice to imagine, sometimes.
But not now. Now, he had come so close to fulfilling his latest goal... he had never dared risk trying to use the Left Eye of X himself, for he knew full-well its long-term effects. But, he had long toyed with the thought that perhaps its powers could be replicated on a smaller scale - no capacity to oversee the entirety of reality... but maybe the capacity to observe one particular entity within that reality.
And figuring out how to channel even a tiny portion of the Left Eye's abilities had been an unbelievably strenuous task, not just the channelling itself, but figuring out how to pull it off without dissolving whatever object was the focus of that effort into the fabric of space-time itself, essentially evaporating it into nothing. But at last, he thought he had it, and packed into a compass-like device that could be held in your hand no less!
The actual location protocol, frankly, was a simple case of triangulation: if you knew what your target was, where the target location was, or for instance the unique "signature" of a target's soul, then you could key that into the Compass along with any arbitrary location, say the entrance to X's library, and have the object triangulate between itself and the other two points. It would account for distance, provide gentle telepathic nudges to keep the user moving in the right direction, and even inform them when they reached the best point to teleport into the dimension the target was in, if that applied. It was wonderful.
And it had been a horrendous task to figure that and all the other logistics out just to start with. The week of actual channelling had been one of the hardest in his life, to boot: no breaks for any reason, power coursing through his body until it burned even to breathe, his magical prowess pushed close to its limits even for its might... all in pursuit of a goal that X could probably already achieve passively. Then again, what sort of demigod would Astaros be if he didn't push himself to prove he was worthy? What sort of future deity might he prove himself if he didn't, well, prove himself? And more to the point, an item he could carry around and retune would be far more helpful in the long run than just going to X every time he needed to find something in the wider world, rare as that need was.
But at last, the ritual came to its end. The final incants were spoken, the final gesticulations performed, one last burst of energy, and finally, Astaros was able to slump to his knees, catching his breath for what felt like hours before he regathered his strength. Drawing himself to his full ten foot height, and flexing his wings to stretch them back out, he stepped gingerly over to the Compass - visually very similar to the usual sort of compass save that its frame was largely a vivid purple colour, an item he could hold in one hand that would nonetheless require a normal human to use two, with instructions for its use scribed on the back side, just in case.
With this, he had decided long ago, he would sally forth, in search of the old man who he considered his rival in magic, the demigod called Atefir. He'd not been to X's library in a long time. There was a comparison to be made... and information to be discussed. He'd tell X he was leaving, but... well, he'd know
Three stories intertwined. Four of Three sets of eyes that see. How will they be written? How would they conclude? Such are the mysteries to be observed, life seen through the eyes of others. There floating beneath the branches of his tree, a tree held sacred by his white moth cultists as his tree of meditation, the God of Knowledge watched the world go by. Few times did he leave the sanctum of his library, for few things could pull the attention of X from his books. It was his task after all, directed as the last mandate of the creator: to study, seek, and scribe. All things in creation were to be cataloged, known, and labeled, from concepts to living beings, of which long since he had done. There was a time once where he harvested, in the early moments of creation there was more work to be done, volumes to be recorded, but now with his fanatic followers he can afford to remain within his chamber, watching the universe through the hundreds of eyes which reveal the world to his mind.
X had sacrificed his eyes, but in return gained millions more. Dozens of visions, seen through the compound eyes bearing a many faceted view. Emirs seeing their cities below from above their palaces, Viziers looking at their Emirs to manipulate them, Guards to foil such plots. Each series of captured images painting the tale, without words it was hard to see the silent film, but understanding became easy when the greatest secrets are revealed, the thoughts too many write down as a ward against the failing memory. Plans written like notes, clear as day to amuse the watching god. Only the blind could keep secrets from X, or those perhaps living in darkness eternal. One day he must visit the curious god beneath the ground to record its thoughts and views yet it like he preferred the solitude of being peerless. Despite the ever present White Moth Magistrates that study beneath him, waiting for X to bless them with a few words of knowledge. Yet his silence was hard to overcome, almost aloof to the praises and worships of his followers. X did not demand empty laud, he required they do as he: to seek, study, and scribe. Only a few spells and incantation broke the silence, else most of the Magistrates kept the eerie ambiance of a greater institution of learning, exclusive and cold, beyond the reach of commoners.
Alas, the visions of another god. And then darkness. So ends the series, the melodrama cut short as the sight faded and was replaced with another. It would be some time before the channel returned in the underworld, and until, then perhaps X sought to focus in sights on the three who would bring a new age about. Imhotep, a tinkerer, working on his machines for the future. What shall become of him? Should X nudge the mortal with divine inspiration? Or should he intercede and lock the secrets the man was so close to discovering away? Perhaps it would be wise to see how far the man can accomplish on his own before throwing the gods into an arms race. Fire was the first scrap of knowledge so casually given, and look what humans have made of it. Then there was Atefir and Astaros. Either a paradox in his own sense of the word. Two experiments ran side by side, a human turned into a demigod and a demigod of humans, which would complete the apotheosis first? Who shall cast off the mortal cocoon and transform himself? The allegory of a fluttering desert moth. Why One had fallen even now, shedding from the meditation tree the rare petal to gently float into the hand of a god.
With the stirring of a god's hands, the transformation began as wings folded out and legs began to crawl against the divine palm. The twitching antennae, the unsteady and uncertain flap of powdery wings. The new being finding itself in the presence of its creator, X the God of knowledge, secrets and magic. Uncertain, of its magical birth, the creature crept along, feasting on the abundance of divine magic until its wings were strong enough to lift itself off the palm. There without looking back the Moth began to take to the air.
And alas it was over, the spoils of battle won. To the victors the bountiful harvest of the experience, culminated thus so. They had ventured into the Inferno and returned prosperous ever more. Or at least those that survived. Picking through the bits of Bar that littered the floor, the psion mentally scoffed that he could not tell the difference between the bones the orc and those of his trophies. No one else had the will to get on their hands and knees to muck through the mess, bloody carnage swayed their stomachs to avoid the messy work. But for an orphan, digging through the piles of garbage was the very thing that kept you alive. Thus the mute was no stranger to the finer arts of corpse looting, picking up the undertaker's craft, checking for all the valuables left like a carrion crow (No offence to the Kenku). The hefty coinpurse for example dangling beneath the belt was appreciated and purloined so underhandedly out of sight from the rest of the Party. A sum of ten gold coins, that which was promised to them for the entire journey, to which the barbarian's death could have well ended the journey here for the orphanage manager. This small fortune could feed them for a month or more!
Yet he was a man of his word, and a sense of moral justice. Those ten coins belonged to the party now, and he'd need to claim his own pay later from either the dead corpse of the dwarf that hired them or the living man himself. A twist of the hand sprang the wrist-mounted blade which slashed through the discarded backpack. What small satchel of rations and waterskin Bar had carried along for the journey was also liberated from the pack, and a coil of rope that would perhaps be useful. There was a hunter's beartrap that the orc carried for some reason, at which given the human lacked the brutish muscles of the larger idiot, it would be left behind here along with the orc's camping gear that smelled of unwashed arse. They'd all thank him later for his essential grave robbing, the rope and provisions would probably aid in a rescue effort. The food and water for a living captive, and the rope to haul a dead body back to town.
The wolves on the other hand were another issue. They lacked pockets, well at least ones that the psion cared to stick his hands in, and thus there was little to offer but their meat and hides. The dire wolf fur would have been quite a nice cloak or duvet for the orphans after mending a few slashes, and the smaller wolves maybe a new pair of boots. Yet every moment wasted here was a greater chance of a patrol finding their guard dogs dead. This was no time to properly skin the bodies, even with all of Bar's sharps so readily available to skin. And they had topped off on rations and thus had little use for wolf meat to butcher. That and their resident butcher was butchered by them. It would be ridiculous to expect the lanky psion to lift Bar's greataxe to hack and chop the wolf bones apart. Even if a dire wolf head probably fetch a decent price as a decorative piece.
Casting thoughts of maximizing the spoils, there was a geologic curiousity in the back of the wolf den noticed as the silent one rose from the bodies. There was a crevice, small and narrow, tight enough for a single soul to just squeeze by. A pass that bore the pile of bitten bones, wmarks of scratches below, and stains of dried blood along the walls. A feeding pit it appeared, for these wolves though the clean-picked bones suggested they had no food come to them for so long. Maybe someone more athletic or acrobatic could scale the rock-face walls and venture to see what fed the beasts. Yet if there was indeed something that fed the mongrels, then, would it be so wise to venture up a pass where the master was?
As he returned to the group, the mute caught sight of the darkness deeper within the cave, going to the rippling rush of river water blind was ill-advised. They had been lucky so far no one detected their arrival, it was better to keep it in such a way and sneak about. Though the darkness was not suited for human eyes, the fact the goblins had no signs of light beyond the mouth of the cave suggested it would be a strange sight for them to see a torchlight within their cave. In fact, did any of the goblins they had killed carry torches as Bar had? The psion couldn't recall any, and what better way to signal the goblins they had guests than with a light in the darkness? So perhaps the perilous ledge would have been the best recourse after all.
Thus, it was settled and eyes gazed at Kiki & Adriane before looking down at the Kenku, they looked the sort to be limber enough to crawl through the crevice. Then there was Seethe who was probably not willing nor up to the challenge, similar to the psion himself who were men of the mind rather than outright muscle. Thus remaining was the stinky stone sorcerer, the one who spoke with his lisp and all the enthusiasm. Now he was a man of muscle, like Bar, bulky but biceps plentiful. Surely he, with his earthen affinity, could climb the stone cliff if anyone in the party. With his mental assessment calculated, and nose prepared for the stench, the mute beckoned the Goliath over with a hand. Another hand pointed over at the narrow pass as the game of charades began, sure it would have been easier to use telepathy to communicate, yet the less the others knew about his powers the better.
Ah now the rope would come in handy. All the sorcerer had to do was climb up with the rope, and the rest could use it to shimmy themselves up. Or better yet, if the sorcerer was smart enough in using his powers over earth demonstrated earlier in burying the dead. If indeed he had sway over stone like he had dirt, Brim could cut a ladder-way out of the rockface and save himself all the trouble of having to climb. Yet the rope was produced regardless and gestured at Brim before pointing upwards towards the food drop chute. Time for a test of Brim's ability, and more so how smart the sorcerer and party was in using their brains beyond their brawn. It could be easier if the psion made himself leader and directed everyone into doing what he willed them to, but that would be rude to do to newfound allies.
Investigation Roll for Loots: 1d20+5 = (18)+5 = 23 Sleight of Hand Roll for Loots: 1d20+2 = (20)+2 = 22
In the depths of the abyssal zone, deep beneath the ocean's waves the most curious creature swims. Here in where no light can hope to penetrate the miles of sea above into the eternal darkness below, the deep sea anglerfish makes her home. There in the starless midnight her unseen beauty remains unseen by feeble eyes, such horrific visage that awaits a promising suitor. Her eyes glass marbles uncaring and unseeing, her mouth always gaping to show unruly fangs against those fish lips. Her body little more than a curvaceous lump of flesh, her head far too large and hideous for the oblong parts that remain. A living stomach which thanks the shadows that may hide its ugly truth, as twisted and revolting as its mutated appearance may be. And yet in the darkness everlasting, a creature so foul to the eyes find herself so many eager mates. With her angelic light placed upon her misshapen brow, a taunting lure cast out in the darkness. Closer and closer still did he come to her, drawn in by the beauty of her light and terror of her jaws. A truly twisted attraction as her mate swims to her glowing charm. And then his teeth nip at her gob of chin or perhaps her backfat, what kinks they share together with his bite. Together they swim on, dancing in the darkness of the wettest night, their marriage completed as they mate. He who clings on to her, attracted by her light, devotes himself to her proper. His mind lost, his heart hers as his pulse synchronizes with her, and his self-destructive fate is sealed in this unholy union. He becomes nothing more than a slave to her needs to breed, a fleshy appendage of her own body as useless as the many other suitors that have fallen for her.
To swim away with taunting jest, to tease and deny him, oh how befitting of the anglerfish was Koan to the warlock. A dark allure that jaunted away from his watering jaws at the last moment. Their discourse in interplay was as intercourse on display if it were not for the sea-swept shadows that enfolded their forbidden tryst. They may hear perhaps the flirtatious exchange, but their eyes could not see into the magical darkness surrounding the playmates. Thus leaving what went on perhaps to the imagination with what actions the umbral one pursued. It all seemed a game perhaps, but was not love such a game? A dangerous one for the question of who bites who? And certainly all the ladies present would have made any man seek to throw himself at one of them. Jill with her youthful angelic beauty, contrasted by Koan's shades-of-grey fantasy. The huge tiger-fish of scales and skin and fur, contrasted by the wiry frame of the reptilian kobold. And of course there was the lightning bladed mer who in her city guard apparel, starkly contrasted the piratical male beholder. So who was there to contrast the shadowed one? Or was he an amalgam of two? Jill on his right, Koan on his left, the the angel and devil on the shoulders of man.
But alas, the lines were not quite clear cut as the lines slashed across the dogs by blades. Koan bore the light, and Jill too began to show her darker side. A dominating control that demanded the dog before her to kneel, despite the gentle touch she gave the tiger's paw. What pain it was to choose between them both, which to follow, which to obey? The dog knelt whimpering in fear and submission, alas this toy broke already too, the fun taken out by the mystic's use of illusion? There was no lick of bite left in those three jowls, no possibility of harm even as the Fallen stepped out of the netted darkness into the dimmer light of sea. In armor of darkness born of his own shadow, gripping his blade in both hands while swift gliding across the currents. The black ruffles of his manta cloak propelling the dark one across, swimming freely before being engulfed once more into shadows as he caught up with his femme fatale. Absorbed once more, but not as close as before, no at least a pace away as he slyly turned away with a tease of his own to give a smirking grin of a bloodthirsty killer to his playmate. It was time to show off, and give Koan and Jill quite the demonstration of just how good 'Sauron' was with his sword.
The upswing, both hands wrapt around the wispy ink, the cutting edge grazing across the surrounded beast's chest. A diagonal slash from lower right to upper left, the warlock drew the cut, light as a tickle with the precision of simply inflicting a minor gash. Scraping across as his arms pulled the darksaber through the waters from his hip, and swung the tip around to the zenith of the dog's central stare as it sat there and took it like the whelp it was. There was the moment of power, the total domination of the pup as it seemed to shrink in size before the powerful 'Sauron.' Those eyes that glanced at Koan and Jill now merely had eyes for the pathetic mutt, burning a gaze so terrifyingly malicious with the fires burning like the very black coals that stoked the devil's furnace when all hell froze over.
The vertical slash. No more the flesh wound that barely scratched, but now a deeper cut straight down from the nose of the central head down its throat and chest. A mortal wound laced with the power of shadows that gathered from the surrounding darkness, swirling and dancing across the edge barely contained as the gathered energy crackled with blackness. A slice which parted through the beast's jaws, splitting them in twain as flesh ripped apart during the destructive wave of force emitted from the blade. Dispersing itself as the darkness was unleashed, tearing apart the muscle, bone and sinew easily as the swordsman bathed in a sadist's ecstasy. Even if Jill could not see, Koan could watch and perhaps admire how he dealt with their broken toy. A useless sniveling dog was no fun to seekers of torment, if it cared not to fight back and squirm like the worm it was.
"Shadows take You! Worthless Maggot."
And by his command the shadows did. Seeping out of the open wound, gushing out like black blood as the tendrils wove around its lacerated neck. Binding the broken sides together as the black collar entwined the dying head and around the panicked two yelping as they found themselves sinking back into the darkness. What struggles they had whimpering away for mercy as the shadow chain pulls them in, dragging them into the abyss headfirst until it was no more. Vanished once more just as the last to a realm of darkness. For now, only one remained to be dealt with, as infernal eyes returned to Koan and a hand extended to take his dancing partner. To join her once more, alas the anglerfish. Together may their dance of death, domination and darkness continue on with their next unworthy seadog.
Move Action: Swim/Move 40 feet (manta cloak) to (10, -9) 5 feet east from Cerberus C, 10 feet North of Koan. Attack Action 1: Longsword Attack 1 vs Cerberus C with Flanking Advantage = 2d20k1+11 = (5+7)+11 = 18 -HIT! Longsword Attack 1 vs Cerberus C Versatile Damage = 1d10+5+2 = (1)+5+2 = 8 Slashing Bonus Action: Prepare Banishing Smite on Next Weapon Attack. Attack Action 2: Longsword Attack 2 vs Cerberus C with Flanking Advantage = 2d20k1+11 = (6+3)+11 = 17 -HIT! Longsword Attack 2 vs Cerberus C Versatile Damage = 1d10+5+2 = (8)+5+2 = 15 Slashing Banishing Smite Damage = 5d10 = (6+9+3+10+9) = 37 Force Banish Condition Cerberus C <50 HP remaining? -MET! Outcome: 23 Slashing + 37 Force damage to Cerberus C who is banished for 1 minute (10 rounds) or until concentration end.
Location: Barad-dûr (The Tower). Interacting with: None.
Everything was going along swimmingly. Which was strange to the young sorcerer. Given the nature of their last encounter, he had expected these guardians to be far more challenging. Tin clad undead? There was something that did not bode well, but alas Thomas could not put his finger on what was amiss. There was a nagging thought in the back of his mind that this was all too easy. An Ill-defended tower, of which the voice so tauntingly claimed to be an abode, such simple guardians taken down by a rag-tag group of rapscallions did not seem equivocal of a force that ravaged orc tribes. Was this a trap to lure them into a false sense of security? For when dealing with undead, they were never truly dead until their remains were ashes. Yet not all the armors had been animated, maybe it would do well to strike those down as well? Regardless it seemed Nor had the last undead down and taken care of. At which Leaves Thomas free to allow the dwarf to continue stabbing the ex-ex-person as the barber pleased.
Focusing on the stairway now instead, Thomas judged this battle to be over soon unless another enemy should make itself known. Either shambling down the stairway to taunt them or appearing otherwise somehow. After all, the necromancer was able to see and hear their arrival. There may be some scrying going on, but the boy was unable to detect such on faint traces. As such it was better to be on guard, and keep a spell ready to be cast should something suddenly appear. They should probably investigate the room when this was all over, and see if there was more to this floor than they originally saw before the battle. Or alternatively they could hurry up to the top while the momentum was hot. He had a few spells left from his preparation... With an ace up his sleeve that would be his final gambit.