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2 hrs ago
Current Headache. Suspending all posts until weekend. Not that I post that frequently anyways :C
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1 day ago
And on the other hand... Mixing one part oxygen to two parts hydrogen seems to make a rather watery cocktail.
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2 days ago
Remember, before he conquered 70% of the known civilized world, he was merely: Alexander the Adequate.
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3 days ago
"Expect Cats." - Science.
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3 days ago
I really ought to try playing female characters.

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Tolled

Only for payment I shall ferry,
Boating you across to paradise,
Offer me one when you are buried,
Lower the body to lower the price.


May the dead bury their own dead. The psion watched as the earth sunk and swallowed up the beheaded bodies. It was a curiosity that their resident smell stone sorcerer had the gall and grace to give goblins a grave. Missing heads in their shallow beds, unmarked but far more than what an enemy deserved. Still, there were no last rites to commend them to their goblin gods, merely unceremonious executions. And of course the former street-rat knew better than to leave such warm bodies unmolested. Not in the way of Hymn-Adriane and Kiki, but rather with an intent to search their corpses of whatever useful things before the goliath finished his mounds of earth. Slim fingers lifted two silver pieces from the dead target, and a thought considered if he should pick up the discarded goblin blade. Twas either the blade or bow and arrows left behind, and a blade was far more fetching than sticks and string. Another weapon to be added to the growing collection, as the mute affixed the new piece to his belt and tucked the coins into the man's coinpurse. Perhaps he could fancy himself now as one of those warriors from (Hammerfell) the western desert with their curved swords.

Now that the scavenging was completed, the silent watcher considered the next course of action to be done as the loam and gravel covered the remains away. Three goblins to sentry was adequate, but their lack of vocalization was worrying. Did the greenlings believe a force of three could take the five lot of them? Bar the smoldering wizard who seemed to contracted either apathy or hydrophobia, their party had the numbers. So why did these cretins not call for backup? True they had nearly killed Kiki, but given the nature of the changeling's and the rogue's budding affections, it would only incite more than just vicious words from the tiefling.


Kiki has a bard in this wretched place
Ardiane is the singer in the band,
Kiki says to Ardiane: girl I like your face,
And Adriane swoons as she takes Kiki by the hand.


Yes, being the silent one had its benefits, set aside in solitude did allow you to people watch. Watching how their little party had begun to interweave as one cohesive unit. Each having their particular place and partner as it seemed, though the stragglers were just as dangerous as the Bonnie-&-Clyde's. Certainly he knew they had been wary of his silence, and so had he been of their words. For what was not said bore secrets which intimidated the mind, but what was said could also be a lie, with acts done to deceive. Of course they didn't know his name, but he knew theirs unlike the nameless corpses lying low and under now. And the more you knew about one's enemies, the better, but the more you knew about one's own allies? Well, even better still. As it is said in the east: know your enemy, know yourself.

Into the depths of Hades, threading the trickle of the Styx, the rushing sound of its waters running over the stones as shoe-clad feet stride across the rock. The resounding footsteps, prated by the very cave telling of where and when. Not as so much a stealth operation as a stroll into the cave, keen to take the observation in what little light left lingers behind them. The shadows of Nyx unto Erebus, darkness along the path unpierced by human eyes, but alas they had amongst them a walking candlestick to illuminate the path should that sooty snooty Lordsmen take the lead. And yet by placing the wizard there, to be a neon light advertising their decent into the fold, was to ask to be riddled by arrows from all sides. Hence perhaps it was a blessing the fiery mage was a step behind thus far. If perhaps the bird could care to blaze ahead, and tell of what use a ranger has in settings un-urbane, for the psion was only versed in the city alleyways and slums not repulsively pungent goblin caves. The smell of damp molds stank like guano, or perhaps goblin feces turning the olfactories away from inhaling such foul spores. Oh wait, a moment, it was the be-lisped goliath who made such offending odor, albeit perhaps it was the orc as well? Either way one of the boys would most likely have announced their arrival beyond attempts to muffle their walk into the cave. Of which, why bother thought the psion as he simply walked inside with nary a reason to so excruciatingly conceal his presence with every step.

Enso

Completed where I begin,
Infinity means nothing,
Repeating my mantra,
Cycles of revolution,
Leave no change on me,
Endless for all eternity.

What does it mean in the end? How each day dawns the breaking sun, bright and brilliant in the morn only to be snuffed out by the shadows of night? How most beautiful of all the world's flowers bloom and blossom for a springtime romp, only to wilt and wither away. And so too would mortals live and rot, each a single drop of rain swallowed by the endless tides. It seems meaningless does it not? The futility of it all, from which a sense of worth is equated to the empty void. But perhaps, just perhaps, in the infinitesimal chance that there exists a reason for it all, then may yet still be a motivation. A drive which makes the circular path spiral to some end, closer and closer as we rise and ascend. For was it not fitting that even a single tear shed from the heavens shall raise the storming seas. And perhaps, it is this wanton desperation for validation, this strive to find a meaning, that fulfills its own eternal quest. A search for meaning, for purpose, for function. Unless of course, this existence was all just a cruel mockery of life, a penny opera played at for sheer entertainment and amusement for a twisted audience unknown.

And as one entered the stage, another had left. It appeared the Umbramancer had melded effortlessly to this band of misfits. To an extent a least, having seemingly won the approval of the female aasimar, and at least the satisfaction of the beholder. The dark drow was more than welcome to inflict more exquisite agonies upon him, but this hazing ritual it seemed was not for everyone. Or was it? From the ranting spew sourced from the betentacled holder, Koan was more than cordial with all newcomers. Of which suggested to the shadowed one that this group was either much larger than they appeared, or far less successful. Something of a suicide squad perhaps given the commentary and numbers present. Yet before another comment could be made in stride (or in the case of the many-eyed-monster in float?), the cat-lizard objected even more of her protests. Something about the current females in the group out-playing her usual hand, so to speak, to which the draconian feline scampered off in a huff. Fair enough, if she was needed, she could be tracked, twas after all his particular job should Jill require a cat of some slug-like skill. 'Sauron' gave his parting acknowledgement, a nod with those ever-burning eyes keen on searing the tabaxi into memory. Then the gaze returned once more to Her, the aasimar who began it all, marking her words with a charmed smile as the devil's wit replied in kind: "It is a blessing then, should one find joy in one's own pain."

It was not too far a swim, to find a rather peculiar tiger. One suggested by the merwoman who seemed to be the guide for the group. Now a tiger on land made for a very fine rug, but underwater? Though almost as expected with a group of this oddity, the group had wove their way to see a polymorphed tiger. One that turned into a siren of blue scales and equally hued hair. And this one appeared to have somehow known the dunderhead, or whatever his name was, the harsh sounds coming from the beholder's mouth hole was rather unpleasant to a civil ear. Though by Koan's intervention, the dark elf had interceded in the inquisition, sparing the Fallen to answer with another clever retort. A clever tongue to twist the words and mind, drowning logic in lies and burying truth in charm. Yet for all the suspicion the beholder had cast upon 'Sauron' it appeared the man, or rather beast, was more than willing to accept a tiger turned into a fishgirl. Tentacles wrapt themselves around flesh and fin, scales and tail, in some lariat of gross mismatch. Although it seemed to the warlock at least, she may have some worth to the beholder.

Ah Koan, would she do the same rite to this newcomer? Another mix of... Species? A druid who so aptly clung on to an abomination? It was almost disgusting to watch the paternalistic affection afforded by Dyn. Yet in away it was amusing to 'Sauron' to watch the ever-vigilant being drop his guard for a familiar face, no matter now small the guard was. Certainly it would appear the tigergirl had his trust, some tidbit to exploit in due time. As the burning gaze scanned over their newest edition to the party. That said, what was their particular purpose of venturing forth into the chasm of the Verdant Stream? There would be an answer in the silence, and patience. As those eyes wandered to meet Jill's while Koan spared a moment to greet the druidess.

Strings drawn tight,
The ends reunited,
A completed close,
The Circle.
Thomas Richard Harrison

Location: Barad-dûr (The Tower).
Interacting with: Voice in the Sky, Armor 4, The Fellowship.



As I did stand my ground upon the room,
I looked toward Kyra, and anon methought:
The armors began to move.


Predictable.
Almost disappointing.
Animated armors.

"I knew I smelled something rotten." A snide remark made by Thomas' reaction to the taunting. It appeared their enemy had revealed themselves. And despite Thomas' joking assessment earlier, maybe the mage had some skill after all. It was not easy to create such constructs, autonomous armor guardians, requiring a spark of willpower was the trick. In theory it was possible to create an army of sentiient and self-aware servitors, bound by the magical arts as a synthetic life form. And yet there are grave ethics to be considered when playing with the forces of life and death, such abominations perhaps ought to never exist unnatural as they were. And yet was magic natural? Was Thomas, born of cosmic power, not such an abomination? A creature born of magic, self-aware and serving the stars that lure their brother closer? His powers from the tainted blood, an infusion from the far realms as ancient as the evening sky. A faint radiant glow emitted about Thomas's sun-form skin, charging himself with the inner light, twas the call to battle, one mage to another. The armors screeched their metal sounds, the terror of their soiled unoiled hinges squeaking away to the vulgar sounds of Uranus, the Magician. Brash brass clashing crass rambling shambling mass reeled unfeeling steel. The coordination slow and puppet-like, moving but barely, as if the weight of its own charge was far more than the force provided. Maybe they were not so advanced as Thomas once thought.

With a quick glance at their frontlines, Sana, Kyra, and Keystone all seem to have things handled. There was a bear now to his left, and the lack of a certain dwarf certainly didn't sit very well with Thomas. The barber seemed to split, and cut himself away for this rather dire battle. There were six armors, and though only a few had moved, six possible enemies to face, and Satilla needed to live to heal the cuts and injuries the rest of us had. Thus it was time to stand his ground, for to his right the boy raised his right hand as if to halt the armor as it approached, creaking away like a macabre tin solider, Thomas gazed at and then past the metal animus. The whites of golden sunny eyes became touched by darkness, turning black from the rim as the world faded away into naught. And as Thomas' vision turned to darkness, so too did manifest a bend in space, a void grew behind the advancing armor. A tear to be filled that sucked in the gap, a pull inescapable that light was swallowed up just as Thomas's eyes turned to pitch black. Alien as they were, a momentary blindness. With the timing mastered over months of practice, Thomas channeled his power with one final collapse of his fingers, suddenly turning a halt into a fist, the spell complete and the implosion imminent.

A strong gravity well pulled the armor animus back, a nearly comical appearance if it were not so dangerous. Returned towards the wall from whence it came, armor dented in the void, crunching like a tin can as the crevice sucked away with insatiable greed. A miniaturized localized black hole, that revealed the true nature of these things. armor twisted in a a kink until pop like Keystone's joints did the face plate become ripped off. And there Thomas could see, although strange that his eyes were able to escape the void that he stared into it which usually occurred with the casting of the gravitational void. What lies beneath was no vacant hollow, but rather, a mortified face, a villager perhaps? One twisted in pain from all the crushing gravity it had endured within the tiny event horizon. So they did get the right place... But was it the right time?

"Armored Undead!" Thomas shouted at the group.
It seemed his role in combat was largey identifying what exactly they were fighting.
"The poor wizard's steel sentinel."
Who's line is it anyways?

Where the points don't matter and drew Carey hosts.
Thomas Richard Harrison

Location: Barad-dûr (The Tower).
Interacting with: Satilla, and group


"T-thanks..." A still weak mutter took the waterskin from Satilla's offered hand. Uncorking the stopper with a quick rinse, pouring fluids over his haggard face and washing out his mouth with a spit. Well, that was helpful, at least enough to allow Thomas to refresh himself and hold his stomach together. Whatever foul odor he had smelled it seemed to pass, although now there was another issue of his robes being soaked. Alas he'd have to take them off and part with the intricacies of his sun-themed robe for now. Lest he alert any enemies of his presence, and by extension the party's. "Uh... Satilla, would you mind... Turning around a moment? I've uh... gotta wash a bit and get out of this robe..." A shy request from a slightly blushing boy. It would be either the butterflies in his stomach or perhaps that queasy feeling that made him a bit more conscious about striping down to his undergarments to redress himself in his Lunar phase robes.

Did they have time for this? Of course, there was always time for fashion-sense. If Thomas was going to die out here, he'd be sure he'd look damn good dying. Just as Keystone suggested not covered in filth and fetal-positioned. Thus as the door flung open with an impressive knock, Thomas slowly rose to his feet, taking care not to fall back down due to orthostatics and fluid shifts from the vomiting. The others could enter in first, the contents of the tower best left untouched by Thomas who had thus far invoked the ire of fortuna until he removed himself of his golden-red robes. Pulling off his soiled garnments and once again unstoppering the waterskin to allow some water to pour over and wash his tanned skin. A blue and silver robe then thrown over his shoulder and fastened together with the hidden ties beneath the overhanging layer. The hood drawn down as an almost inverse of Thomas' original robe which was cast aside over and left to stay upon the ground for a moment. It'd needed to get a wash anyways, a through one.

"Okay, I think I'm better now. Thanks Satilla." A voice a bit strained, but steadying. A few steps taken forward,
avoiding the seeping vomit. He's already one step behind from the group, who had seemingly disappeared into the Tower once the door was down. Strange there was nothing awaiting them on the other side. "Time to go see what the fuss is about right?"

And everything screamed 'trap' when Thomas could see far enough into the open tower. The armors, tapestries, the fact that everything looked so pristine? "Must be a terrible mage for having so clean a tower. The joke here of course being that the most productive mages usually had dwellings littered with research and papers, spells half-crafted with equations, and reagents and catalysts scattered about. A few did indeed have organized areas and pristine workshops, but far and few could manage with the demands of the arcane. Unless of course you were so fantastic a sorcerer you could animate broomsticks and buckets to do all the cleaning.
A collection of names.
To be written into memory.
Only two more yet to be named.

Dyn'yer'zhead.

The beholder, one with a voice like grating horses and an attitude against the warlock to match. As ugly as he was tenacious, too many eyes, not enough personality. Nearly foaming at the atrocious mouth from which the thing spat out each harsh dissonance. It was rather difficult to understand without having to rupture one's own ear drums. And for that reason, there was a pause, the longest pause of a few seconds between them. Where the two men, or at least the umbral one believed the creature was a male, saw each other, eye to eye to eye to eye to eye to eye to eye to eye. It was difficult to stare down those eyeballs but in that moment of silence the message exchanged was clear. The bile and venom felt in that godsawful voice, returned with a more soft spoken calm. A sly knowing glance at understanding her warning now about this entity named... Dinner's-Head. Something like that, although the acquaintance easier on the eyes, in more ways than one, had warned earlier of not crossing or getting this being crossed. Hence perhaps any name calling would have to be withheld until someone other than beholder pronounced his full name.

"Forgive me, but beholders are uncommon sights. You must understand my... Caution." Played to amount of ego-stroking. By guile or by charm, with an apologetic nod, the warlock sought to diffuse what animosity the talking head had. To which before it was finished another from the party rushed into the interrogation with a question of her own. A frozen throne appeared, the benefits of being surrounded by copious water was it not? Such a paradise for spellcasters who shaped the waves and seas. A cold-hearted maiden perhaps? As the turns turned into a winter's flurry, the click of daggers for heels dug into the earthly flesh. The fallen's infernal gaze became drawn into the storm approaching. Who was this? This dark lady who melted her shell of ice away to reveal the pallor of drow skin? Ah the cold never bothered him anyways. For what a pair would they make at night? For is it not said that there was never more a perfect pair than cold and dark?

Koan.

Another question posed. Something about drinking pink? Nevermind the luxury of drinking underwater, but the curiosity of who this girl was and the queerness of her question. Illogical as it seemingly came out of nowhere, but a refreshing break from the mangled mess of common the beholder bellowed out. A voice sweet as it was disarming, like the aasimar's but more... Persuasive? Where one had the child-like innocence, the half-drow's voice had the sultry allure that would melt a heart down in a different way. Was this some, hazing rite? A slight confusion raised a single brow as the beholder faded into the backdrop, and the aasimar's touch seemed a distant memory. And soon it was her dusky fingers that gripped his shoulders. Hands clenched around his throat, tight, but not as tight as a collar. Gripped and led to the siege perilous, as his shadow hound melded back into the ground to become a normal shadow. It did not like what was happening evidently, and cared not enough to stay. Or was it the warlock himself that recalled the shadow? In case he needed to escape this... Ritual.

Pink to red, or indeed pink. Pale cheeks flushed in silence, as the strange jester worked her magic. No, not the magic she had used to craft her chair and don her false face, but one that utilized her true face. And perhaps the somatic components of this ritual were, far more erotic than most? The grinding motions made across the shadowy armor, solid but not solid. Indeed with her gyrations, the entertainer may feel the true nature of Sauron's dark armor. It was, never truly there, not all the time at least, but she surely would have understood the moment her hands touched his shoulders that there was more give to the armor than expected. At which, what her rhythmic actions would feel may surprise her, or perhaps even excite her as a surprised Sauron watched half-mesmerized, half-confused.

Then there was the exquisite pain. A cut from an edge of ice, cold but not numbing. A delicious release, inked with crimson as the fallen one's blood washed the waters with its incarnadine taint. His soft gasp of surprise and ecstasy audible only perhaps by the woman bleeding him. Harvesting his blood into the unholy grail, a sacrament of wine, chilled as he watched her with golden glow. It seemed only they existed for this moment, this basking of beautiful pain inflicted upon his red cheeks redder. Yes, strange as she was, this was a more welcome greeting as his scarlet anointment as the sanguine rain showered them with mercy and carnality. A slow nod offered himself to her, transfixed by the moment in their public privacy. Their eyes met his eyes, all three of hers reflecting his own form seated upon his icy restraints. His shadow self in the very pupil of her third eye which opened like a deadly blossom upon her fair drow brow. A kiss drew him into her spell, deeper as she demanded more of him. Yes, a tithe given freely, and in place of a dark shadow, he would have a Queen. Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn, treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love her, and despair!

Despair. Reality snapped back, or rather the Koan did. Pulled back by a hand which grabbed her by the nape. Pulled off and peeled off, by a pair of clawed paws. And yet another pair of eyes now dissected Sauron as he sat back in the crafted chair. A deep inhale taken as his cheek still bled away slowly. A superficial cut, and a baptism in blood. His senses returned from the high and stimulation, recollecting his thoughts and hair. What had just happened? Was this not a test they conducted to every newcomer?

Nemiea.

"My apologies. That was... Unexpected." The answer to the feline-lizard came. Her eyes were mixed, an interesting note although perhaps it was expected of one who mixed their blood? Ah to speak of blood while having enjoyed shedding your own. The warlock himself was no proponent of piety and holiness, with all the vices that he had sanctified as the norm. The moment of cold heat gone, as the dark aasimar unfolded himself from his seat with the shadows composing his armor seeming to condense around him tighter. As a man may zip up his trousers and tightening his tie to be more presentable after such a lecherous show and afterglow. Oh that's right, they were doing all this in public were they not? Perhaps the drow would offer to cut more places across his excited body, already waiting to feel her frozen blade lacerating across his flesh. "Please, do not chide her, Koan was it? Enthusiasm Nemiea, it was certainly an experience to enter this group."

Jill.

"So... Jill. Is this the freedom you have found?" A question of his own now posed. A strange lot of friends she had for one so young. But who was in charge? Dyn or Jill? As it seemed one had the bite of a leader, while the other had more the charisma for it. They were drawn to her authority it seemed, or at least that was what the dracofeline suggested with her plea. "It is Unique."

(Collaboration with @JBRam2002)

Returned with a whine, the shadow hound was ousted by another magical force. So rudely cast out after being detected by a rather lengthy ritual which had allowed his dark self to follow their stopped trail. The target had not left this plane, but neither had she moved for quite sometime as the mystic bond between man and shadow relayed back direction and distance. They had either stopped at their destination, or else found themselves preoccupied with something else. To which the umbral one stalked his quarry well. They had made quite the performance before leaving, a dance, a song, a flute.And it would not be difficult to track a monstrosity like a beholder down in the city of a thousand recluses, information about them would have already trickled down into the underbelly of even these depths. And then it was a matter of talking to the right people for the right price. Captain… Of what? And what did that make her to him?

Nevertheless, with patient strides, or rather strokes for the water made it easier to swim rather than to walk. The dark figure tailed them blending in with the rest of the denizens and becloaked travellers here and there. What may be seen to a the keen eye, a feat of observation, would be the lack of shadow cast by the fallen aasimar as the dog dwelled with the shadow of his presumed counterpart. Though now the effect dispelled, his burning eyes could see his faithful hound returning to his side. It took the form and nature of the canine, ears dropped and tail low, whelp whipped by a spell with it’s sorry return. They must have found it, and dispelled it, as the warlock stopped to reason, just paces away from a tunnel to the surface. So they were not without skill in the arcane arts, keen enough to sense his hound’s jugular bite against her own shadow. And yet, perhaps he should send the poor dog back out to try another quarry?

A hand to affectionately rub the massless crown of the dog’s head. Made of shadows there was nothing but wispy blackness to its body, and yet even as the ink-like darkness steeped and twisted in the waters, there was a certain satisfaction the shadow had feeling its owner’s touch. A sentience of its own perhaps? Or a shared mind? Somewhere in between for his shadow was both his, but also born of the realm of shadows. Thus maybe it was the only company he kept for so long was this creature that the shadowmancer treated it as something that needed love to grow rather than darkness. Thus was it quaint that, the pair enter the tunnel together, attempting to pass as another traveller headed towards the surface. Hood kept down as his blood-orange eyes quickly glazed over the group. Where was she?

Jill had doubled back to scout those who were watching their performance. The majority of the underwater townsfolk had returned to their daily business, milling about on their various chores or occupations. A handful remained at the tavern, several of whom wore the manta ray cloak that much of her party had donned. Useful as the cloak was, it did make picking out faces rather difficult. And so, the Aasimar captain waited to see if her patience would be rewarded.

Sure enough, a few moments passed and one of the crowd began to stir, his fingers caressing... something. Jill couldn't quite make it out, but there was something off about the figure. She swam up next to him, drawing her pistol as she moved, and whispered in his ear. "Looking for someone?" she asked, her voice playful, almost seductive as she moved to the other side. "Perhaps you would like to introduce yourself. My Beholder friend thinks you are out to harm us, and it would be a shame--" the sound of a safety releasing could be heard-- "if he were right."

A whisper in the ear. Oh such a act had oh so much meaning. Was it the voice of the gods? A herald of angelic truth, uttering prophecy as the gods will, cryptic and mystic in all the ways of mortal minds. A divine diamon that guides and compels the soul to do what is asked of them? Such a sign of zealotry, devotion tested by the words of fanaticism, incited into producing an action. Or was it the voice in the shadows? The unseen ones hidden in the treacherous gloam, tempting and ever tempting mortals to step into darkness. Each sly call beckoning oneself to the edge of the abyss until, lo the abyss could swallow you whole! And yet, there was at least one more dangerous whisper to be accounted for that influenced a man's actions. While the gods may command, and the shadows tempt, it was this last whisper that was the sweetest of all. The seductive whisper of a lover. Yes, coy and playful, bashful but bold. An offer of oral pleasures in intercourse, of listening to that voice so alluring spark the discourse as their fates became entwined. Yes, of course such ears perked an interest as a presence in the water made its way about him even before her voice came to serenade him with her threat.

"Invisibility." The reply came with a calm smile beneath the hood, visible to the other aasimar certainly if she cared to see the warlock's face. "Clever girl." A compliment, although one perhaps too patronizing for a stranger. "If you do not know me, then you are not one of her Agents." Though still there was no introduction yet, which perhaps pressed the patience of female willing and able to shoot at pointblank. Though how exactly would a flintlock, or presumably a flintlock which worked on blackpowder and combustion, function underwater. But in a world of magic, things need not make the most sensible logic, though there was a limit of what silliness the powers that be would accept. "Sauron, and I was merely curious as to what another Aasimar is doing here, so I followed."

And if needed, if she shot that firearm, the warlock had his spells up his sleeve. And there was no need to be so subtle, no need to save spells so early when life was on the line. Was this a test? Would one of them have to die? Could there only be one? What did it take to earn his untarnished wings, and cleanse his soul of the shadows? "My guide may have brought me here to you, and yours to me?"

"Sauron... I see." Despite Jill's best efforts, she couldn't pierce the intents of the cloaked man. Whether he was who he said he was or not did not truly matter, and the name Sauron did not ring a bell with her. More intriguing to Jill was this "her" and the "Agents" he spoke of. "If you believe our allies in heaven joined us together, why did you threaten me with that spell of yours?" Jill asked, her voice calm and matter-of-fact. "It does not seem the friendly thing to do."

The safety clicked back into place. "I have no intentions of harming someone who is not a threat to our safety. If I did, my gun would be the least of your worries. No, I wish to live unchained, either by my forebears or by those whose paths I cross. I am sure you understand, Sauron." The aasimar's proximity was so close that she could almost be felt, if not seen, her face nearly adjacent to the other's. "Perhaps you would like to join us, and perform your observations in a closer setting, preferably without the threat of violence."

The venom of the serpent had worked its magic. Fangs dripping of toxins in that practiced smile. Disarming charming, despite the quiet intensity of those ember eyes. Like a beacon in the black shadow cast across his brow, a gaze that concealed his intent, hidden by a ring that guarded his thoughts well from prying spells. Twas a ring he bore upon the ring finger of his left hand, a golden band forged and etched with intricate engravings to shield him from efforts to divine his true nature, shielding his mind from all magical means of detection. Yet curiously the ring was, like the girl, invisible to sight though its presence was suggested by the form it bore, the physical presence found just as her form parted the waters around it. What use was invisibility when the water transmitted so much more information? But his hound held no mass, being a creature made of pure shadow like his armor that clung to him like black pyre. More treasured however than this ring's ability to conceal his thoughts and conceal itself, was the ability for it to store his soul. Until it was made pure the warlock could reside within the ring, his body destroyed by his immortal soul sealed within. And the whispers he could give, just like her, a shove into the mind, a suggestion, and a deception just like the one he wove now around her. Sauron... There was no Sauron.

"Forgive me for my methods, but just as you hide from me now, I hid from you." The quick-witted reply, "A need to track you through this labyrinthine city should our paths need crossing." But her words slew him, even as the click of the safety no longer placed 'Sauron' in the path of a woman's wrath. The irony of it all too amusing to not bring a genuine smile, curling itself on the corner of those lips. Unchained? To live free and untangled in the mess of fate and orders directed in the Heavens? Perhaps he saw a bit of his younger self in her, the rebellion in her unseen eyes, the feist she carried against the forces that would see her fulfill her role in the machine. Perhaps she would be able to see it in his eyes, that raging inferno of resentment dimming to a flickering candle of hope. And then in a moment later, it was replaced with a knowing glance as he felt her presence now so close, almost too close.

"Yes, I was once like you... But freedom has a price." A touch of melancholy in the fading trail-off. "And perhaps by following you, I can gain what I have lost."

Jill giggled, a sound that could melt the heart of a beholder. She knew, as she had done so previously. "Welcome to the crew, then," she said as her face faded into view, upside-down and inches from that of the other Aasimar with a mischievous smirk on her face. "Rule number one: don't cast that spell on me, or anyone else you want to be your friend. Rule number two: don't piss off Dyn." She reached for his hand, caressing it with her fingers as they intertwined. "And rule number three: trust me."

A spell was cast, a subtle pulling at the arvane threads that bound the world together, and the world collapsed around them. For a moment, naught existed but the two of them, Jill's fingers still grasping the other's and that mischievous smile beaming from her face. Almost as soon as the spell began, it ended, and the duo were now several paces behind Dyn and Cynthia in the tunnel. "Hey guys!" Jill called out. "I found a new friend. Don't worry, he's just a little shy." Her hand subtly released his, and she swam over to the others, tossing a wink over her shoulder at "Sauron."

Three rules? Automatrons had just as many. The innocent childishness to her persona caught the warlock off-guard. The fallen aasimar had expected a more rigid path, one devout and pious, strict with all the disciple his mentor had expected of him. Perhaps her was far more lax, but alas, what did he know of her? And her of him? His facade as 'Sauron' a name invented and a moniker adopted for his trade as a nom-de-arte. But he looked like a 'Sauron' did he not? A name hissed softly and stretched before ending in a definitive note? The venom injected at the very end as the masqueraded drops? She told him to trust her, and yet never gave her name, but stated another's. Dyn, whoever that was supposed to be. Introductions would be needed to infiltrate this group. But of the first rule, as much as his hound panted and sauntered its way over to her shadow cast below as the girl floated in the waters curiously and intertwined her fingers into the umbramancer's. A touch he nearly drew back from, with a wince but something told him a girl like her meant not to harm him. Not one so... Innocently naive? Or was such an act merely an intricate ploy?

Bubbles.

The rush of water from one end, and the displacement of it from the other. A group before them in the darkness of the tunnel, though the shadows were his friend. A beholder, a kobold, a scaled feline, a drowish mystery, and a native it seemed numbered amongst her troupe. Ones seen from before with casual glances thrown about from his card game. An interesting lot, intriguing indeed as the more radiant of the pair introduced her 'new friend' to the lot. Would they be as easy to fool as her?

"I am Sauron, but I do not believe I was introduced to your name, friend." A closed-lipped smile curled the corners, a move practiced to deceive by disarming charm. And by the feel of things, he was not the only one who knew how to use his dark charisma. How strange that his new friend had such an effect on him. Was he losing himself to the quarry? Or was it just his solitude that made his hound jealous as it slunk about him pacing to see if the master would find new friends and abandon his own shadow and the promises he must keep to the realm of shadows. "I am here to accompany your aasimar on her journey."


Thomas Richard Harrison

Location: Barad-dûr (The Tower).
Interacting with: The group


"Ugh... Bluargh-" Not quite yet over, but certainly a loss of brunch and whatever enthusiasm Thomas had for everything. His robes soaked in a mix of his own juices, it would take weeks to get the stains out without fading the crimson colors. His shallow breathing slowed now but steadied from the panic earlier. He could hear Satilla's concern buzzing in his ear, but the boy was still not quite ready to open his eyes to the reality of having experienced this severe vomiting. Any medical doctor worth his or her salt could tell you a sudden change in acids and bases could be fatal, and so could an alchemist. Titrating appropriately was the key, to which the sorcerer had just lost some stomach acids making his body respond by slightly slowing his breathing rate compared to his panic-induced moment. Of course there was not much loss, but enough to make the lad feel woozy as he muttered and sputtered through, still ripe from fresh emesises. A full gastric lavage, and perhaps it was fitting that Thomas felt a choking sensation burning down his throat. Call it Karma, punishing those with good intentions.

This will be the last time he tried sensing any magical auras for awhile. Whatever reaction caused this was either a nauseatingly powerful ward, or just pure bad luck. "I-I'll be a-alright. J-just give m-me a m-moment." Maybe by the time the men got the door open, Thomas would be a bit more chipper as his nostrils still fumed with that rancid odor malingering more than his own intestinal surprise. Bile and acid, half-digested and all. Throwing his body to one side, the mage weakly rolled over twice, and clutched his purged stomach as he lay on his side. A soft groan affirmed his malady. "It w-wasn't the eggs K-Brimstone." Give it a moment and surely he'd regain his strength and some coherency. Until then, perhaps leave the young sorcerer be as he wallowed in the pain of having his body cleansed.
A Koan

Something am I though you do not know me,
Unspoken I would be if you know me,
Riddles without answers,
Problems without solutions,
Reasons without logic,
In clear view you cannot see me,
Sight blinded by my truth,
Eyes too late to see.

Was it truly so hard to follow a fool into the forest? The barbarian had to have his way then? Nearly getting them killed one encounter was bad enough but to have nearly fallen for a trap that the psion would have surely noticed? Rather rude of the green orc giant to always demand he do everything. A meathead merely deserved to be a meat shield for all it was worth. To which the mute watched in total repulsion as the most uncouth act of jamming a goblin skull over one's privates be done. In all honesty it was now the knowledge of having to wade across the stream that was polluted by that foul orc's stench that was a horrid task for the silent one to do now as it seemed they had unwitting found themselves shortly within another bout of battle at the mouth of the cave.

With a mental sigh the psion drew his traveller's cloak around his lanky body and ventured forth into the cool stream. The flowing waters running over surely upstream from where the filth-covered ruffian had washed, as each step forward soaked the patches of his brown linen trousers and ate at the worn boots which tread across the aqueous path. To think this venture would only pay ten golds, a pitiful sum for one's life cut short here, and to go beyond the measure of their pay. Retrieving the dwarf in no means guaranteed, and certainly the risk of dying to goblin arrows was not high on the man's list of thing to do. No, he had many things yet to be done, a world to make a better place for those born without anything to their name. At one time in his life he was a man with nothing to lose, but now he had a family of his own. A ragtag bunch of orphans under his care, the orphanage was his charge along with every urchin in it. Thus despite the current's follow, and the knowledge of more goblins being detected by the unmanagable orc and the more agreeable warrior woman, the psion pressed on to the other side of the bank preparing his mind for the skirmish to come.

The veil was crossed, but what of the threshold? What did the others thing of the nameless psion? One who failed to introduce himself to this misfit group of adventurers. Then again none of them had bothered to stop and truly sit down for a conversation with the mute. Did they think him illiterate? Or had they simply assumed he was as aloof as his silence made him? Where does the mercenary work end, and the adventuring party begin? After this uncertain rescue, would they not go their separate paths? Laura could only do so much without more money for basic goods. They were his responsibility upon his sense of good, but so too where these fools who ventured in so far and put the goblins on alert. Thus to too would he have to be vigilant and scan the area with his eyes for the goblins had taken the advantage not only in action but territory.

So was it so easy to follow a fool?
Yes, for someone had to save their ass.
Surprise, Surprise.

Thomas Richard Harrison

Location: Barad-dûr (The Tower).
Interacting with: The Tower? The Group? The Gods?


The greatest of wizards walked the planes. From the vast depths of the astral seas above, stepping into the illuminated voids, to the infernal dimensions perpetually plagued by ever-burning flames. And from these realms the powerful magi enslaved the denizens to their collection of treasures amassing each wonder one by one. From there perhaps these planeswalkers would engage in magic duels, competitions of skill and tactics to see which was the superior duelist. It was at times perhaps they would summon such creatures to their beck and call by expending enough mana or magical energy. Some would summon fey creatures more attuned to earth and wood; fairies and the like, unicorns and even giants, others called forth leviathans and krakens from the seas. Other still called forth angelic hosts of heavenly nature, while darker magi like the possible necromancer summoned forth the shadows of death. Yet perhaps of all the magi, it was those who could tame the beasts of flaming purgatory that were the most skilled in destructive arts. Twas the nature of fire and brimstone, the devil you know and the demon within you as the god's first loss and man's first act of power. And with that faint smell of...

"I don't know there could be magic around I don'-Oh by- Hastur that's F-" The Sorcerer managed before being stricken down for his attempts to detect the subtle nuances of residual magic. Most spells left a signature in the air, or rather in the fabric. Like how a tailor can mend and stitch cloth to his or her will, so too could a mage warp reality. It wasn't as much as force one's will upon reality as it was to convince reality to decided otherwise, and sometimes if one was sensitive enough, you were able to sense the fine discrepancies of what should be and what is left by the use of magic. Thus it was often enough that one magic user trained and sensitive enough to these subtle changes in the weave could sense magic be it a staticky feeling in their beards or in Thomas' case a prickle inside his blood as the latent magics interacted with whatever seemed to interface with it. This time however there was not quite a tingle inside as it was a burning. A burning that singed his nostrils with a malodorous whiff so foul words fail to describe what could such ghastly aroma be compared to.

There was death, and there was this, and death dear friends, was far more merciful. For death only reaped, and did not reek. Death decays but does not rot, and this, this vile cloud of pestilence, coming in from the Grey skies above was anathema. The nip in the air could do nothing as the stagnant stank to befoul and purge the olfactories. The aerosolized bioweapon singed each nerve, a putrid touch of bleak bile and vile venom that corrupted the neuronal pathways with the flames of infernus. The pyre of Thomas' nose alighted, and alas, it was too late and the threshold was crossed beyond the veil. Taken by the hand, death submitted his bony grasp to this invisible assassin that yanked the poor sorcerer into the swallowing void. The toxic hand shoved down his throat, dripping of noxious poison ripped itself back out and took with it a fistful of Thomas' soul, as he felt himself die a little bit. And of course, along with the soul, came the bilious broken bready bits of breakfast.

Hurled with great force, or at least enough that his gag reflex could muster in such a circumstance, the fresh vomit projected itself so uncouthly beneath him. It was indeed a spectacle, one that you had to have been there to witness proper, but alas, there was nothing proper about upchucking was there? Nay, Thomas' eyes watered, his vagus fully engaged as a panic set over, the autonomics sending his heart racing as the inevitable load reversed bolused itself out of his mouth as the young mage heaved and clutched his chest. And the waterfall had no end so quickly, like a balloon sputtering out it lasted until the lad came crashing down weakening at the knees as the sorcerer buckled forward to his horror. Planting himself facedown, and soaking his robes in a touch of recently thrownup acids that burned his throat as they left. It was either some terribly great magic, or someone had just shoved their arse....

But let's avoid such vividly disturbing images and return to the situation at hand. There Thomas lay in a collection of his own vomit before the old suspect tower. Winded, heaving, and trying to purge the lingering scent from reaching his brain and melting it, Thomas clutched at his nose and messy mouth while the other hand lifted his head every so slightly off the ground...

Did anyone else smell death?
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