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(Pre-DF/AQ) The Dishonored Veldrin

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7/20/2012 0:56:03   

Commentary goes in this thread. If you read this, please do remember to comment. It's very, very, very, VERY irksome to me and other fanfiction writers, so please comment on any fanfiction you read.

Prologue: Arrival

The lands beneath the uncompromising tree canopies of Doomwood were encroaching, as one would normally expect of the cursed forest. The moon was determined to break through the nigh-impregnable, clustered pine treetops with surprising success, but one location remained in absolute, ethereal darkness that had a likeness to a wildfire in its invasive spread. It had found its origins within Blackwyn Tomb, which was known to be hexed but not to this degree. Amid this artificial nightfall, there was a lone, radiant lantern that bore an unnatural livelihood to its light. In comparison to the surrounding region, the area around the crypt entrance was unorthodox in its freezing temperature and continued only turn to more frigid. A light outline of five humanoid figures could be seen within the lamp's illumination, and each of them looked as though they were unknown to the region or hadn't seen it in ages.

One of them had pointed with a sharp, crystalline finger towards a wooden sign that had Deep Root written upon its boards, which were attached to a thick rod of bark burrowed into the dark soil. It stated with a tranquil tone, "Hmm, was this not the village from which Kyrei Veldrin hailed? It feels so familiar, not in the nostalgic sense however. I would say that the feeling is quite the opposite, for it is a burning hatred, actually a sense of searing malice, for the sufferings that we have had to endure due to residents of this village."

"Well, it is just the easiest thing in the planes to recall locations that we haven't seen in at least five hundred years, Myodei," A levitating figure responded with heavy sarcasm in his voice, and a few embers shot off from his tongue.

"I suppose that you are right if only we were never banished to begin with..." The original voice responded, "...accursed Veldrin. At least we were fortunate enough to have a sensible warden, however, who had been open-minded enough to hear our side out without bias. I mean if our supposed crime was more blatant like Izotz's then I would've called our guard a fool to listen to us. We are not Izotz however, yet Izotz remained free while we were imprisoned. It'd be best that we never meet him again, lest we kill him and garner the attention of the Lords again."

"Quite, quite," A new voice emerged, or perhaps a multitude of voices as the words seemed displaced and without a common origin, "If not for Izotz and later Kyrei, we might have already attained our goal or simply escaped this plane to one kinder to our own." His tone felt apathetic, as though he was unknown to the actual sensation of emotion.

"I do not recall Izotz," What appeared to be a rock blurted the words from the tiniest crevices within itself, "But it is of no matter, I suppose, for if I had stopped them, we wouldn't have had to suffer either of those delays."

"Oh, well, we should just admit defeat now and be done with it," A crackling noise, like that of a raging inferno, to be noted behind the words, "For clearly we are no match for the relentless power of a lone, greedy ice demon and a few conniving humans, who don't even know exactly what they're dealing with. Yes, I'm shaking in my nonexistent boots. I think that I'll throw in the towel over there now, if you don't mind."

"Zynaer, don't you know how much more clever the beauty of nature is?" A small breeze seemed to ask rhetorically, but the voice had some shreds of a longing for happiness. It was quite depressing, as he otherwise sounded much like a playful child. "Oh, I miss the days whenever all the birds in the trees would be singing so joyfully. Now, I've seen only pain and hate." The elemental seemed to have sniffled once he finished.

"Ariyzi, we'll let you appreciate the intricate appeal of Lore, but we will do so on the return to our old study," Myodei stated clearly, "There will eventually be the business of getting our stolen work back as you all know. Zolkt, I would like if you trailed behind, so we won't have any unwanted pests."


The tree canopies of Doomwood were creeping and imposing as one would normally expect, and the moon attempted to shine through the nigh non-existent holes in the aforementioned treetops. Though, a peculiar darkness swooped over the forest; this umbra was bizarre for even Doomwood, and it imposed over and across the spanning wildlife in a mannerism akin to that of a wildfire's spread. The epicenter of the looming vacuum of light sprung from a nearby tomb. A close-by sign with "Deep Root" written on it confused the entity that was stretched abroad the proximity. Though, if one were to examine closely, they'd find one light was still bright in the midst, a lantern to be exact. If one were to take further notice though, the change in lighting was not the only difference, as the entirety of the area was extremely frigid in comparison to the surrounding region.

A voice broke the silence of these bizarre occurrences, "Deep Root, eh? I don't recall any Deep Root, but I suppose that is what happens."

"Well, it has been some time now, hasn't it?" Another voice spoke with an immense stroke of heat coming from his mouth.

"That it has, if only we were never banished to begin with..." The original voice responded, "...accursed Veldrin."

"Quite, quite," A new voice emerged, or perhaps a multitude of voices as the words seemed displaced and without a common origin, "If not for that blood, we might have already attained a new state of being, or simply escaped this plane to one kinder to our own."

"Why, of course," What appeared to be a rock blurted the words from the tiniest crevices within itself, "If only I were able to have stay him."

"Fret not, we're all better prepared now, we know that the Veldrins will likely be after us once our presence has been noted," A crackling noise, like that of a raging inferno, to be noted behind the words, "For I suspect that he likely had passed the story onto his descendants and equally made it a family duty, if you will."

A soothing voice, lingering even, replied, "Well, if we work together, rather than be divided and conquered, then we should easily claim victory to any remaining to that bloodline," The perpetrator behind the statement seemed to flow in the arctic winds that were surrounding the entities.

"Silence, we best be moving on, the time for loitering on this is over. We have some tomes and records to regain, I mean, we're no Izotz," The original, calm voice blurted, "We need to keep a cautious way as we return to our old study in the Elemental Foothills. Zolkt, you are to trail behind, and I will ask that you try to locate any of Kyrei's descendants. I would prefer for there to not be violence though; I'm certain that you feel the same, no?"

< Message edited by Razen -- 1/14/2016 0:12:05 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 1
7/21/2012 20:01:56   

Chapter 1: The First Hunt

The sun shone on the small village of Deep Root. The immense tree, for which the town was named, was still vibrant and alive. It was an oddity to see such vivid, colorful leaves in the gloomy Doomwood, and its shape differed from the pines with a stature that resembled a weeping willow. Strewn about the village were apprenticing woodland rangers(not those of the Sandsea), who wished to bond with a companion were known to visit Deep Root. The houses which surrounded the colossal willow and composed the village seemed insignificant and minuscule in comparison. The largest of these was the home of the Veldrin family, who were a well-respected line with a number of honorable ancestors. The abode of Galvin Veldrin, the current head of the bloodline, was held up by a score of stone pillars. The walls of the building were painted aquamarine, and the roof was washed with indigo. A veranda, that had been the same color as the roof, extended outwards from the front entrance.

Galvin Veldrin was a rather rugged man in stained studded leather armor. His face had a few scars from his younger days as a hunter and trapper, and it also had a deal of stubble from little time to spend shaving. His hair was straight, medium brown, and was parted in the middle of his forehead. It lazily spanned down to his shoulders in the back and to his ears in the front. His eyes were a dark brown. He was walking towards his estate, for he had just returned from an excursion to the Shaal Jungle for Scorpiarc Venom. He had obtained this rare item to tip absolutely splendid Nautiloid Spike arrows, which he had obtained the arrowheads from the journey prior into the ocean westward. No one knew exactly why he was gathering these bizarre materials, but the people of the town did know that it wasn't long until he needed to hunt down a wind dragon for his family's tradition. Just before he was able to unlock the door to his home, he was surrounded by a number of soon-to-be rangers.

"Galvin, Galvin!" They all announced.

"Oh, what is it now?" Galvin asked.

"Could you please give us advice on what type of animal to make our companion?" The one immediately before him queried.

"Oh, Galvin, perhaps you could give me some pointers on archery?" One to his right asked.

"Could you do both of those for me?" One to his left asked last.

"I'm sorry, but I cannot oblige any of your requests," Galvin answered, "I really must be seeing my wife, it's been a good bit of time since I've seen her." He was not lying, as his trips drifted him far from home. While he was accustomed to shorter journeys, in which he often hunted, trapped, and trained Gorrillaphants for many of the kingdoms of the time(which they armored and utilized as living shields to the enemy and had them wrought destruction whenever they reach their foe), the longer than average excursion left him awaiting his wife's embrace. As those who flocked to him left, he unlocked and opened the door to his home.

"Ah, it is nice to be home," Galvin stated in a relaxed tone.

Before Galvin noticed however, an incredibly light-skinned Wind Elf without his wings was rushing towards him. The elf had stopped about two or three feet away from Galvin's thick leather boots. His hair was a dark gray with a part slightly to the left from the middle of his forehead. His clothes were made of cotton that had matched his skin color, and they had a smooth flow to them. A scarf overlaying his shirt had cloud patterns embroidered into it.

Once Galvin had heard the elf, and he shifted his attention towards the elf. Upon his initial gaze, Galvin guessed by the light tone of the elf's skin that he was likely inept at their magic(He made this presumption based off of what little he knows about Wind Elves). He examined the elf's attire and appearance, but he was unable to recognize him. "What do you want?" Galvin queried the elf impatiently.

"Oh, well, uh, I, I'm a brother to Garenil," the Wind Elf answered, "And he advised that I seek you out for advice in the field of hunting and trapping."

"Garenil, you say? I do believe that he was the one that helped me incapacitate that raging Wind Cyclops, without the aid of his wind magic, I might not have been able to take him down," Galvin began, "And he only asked that I help train his younger brother, who I'm supposing that you are. So, then, are you Zairos Alderi?"

The Wind Elf had drifted his attention elsewhere, gazing at the leaves that graced the breeze. When he returned his attention to Galvin, he answered, "Me? Zairos Alderi? Oh, yes, yes, I am." He dusted himself off nervously, and Galvin had noticed that the elf's fingernails were bitten back to where they would grow into the skin.

"Well, there's no need to hesitate, Zairos," Galvin responded, "You see, I actually was going to take some apprentices, including my son Razen, under my wing on a hunt tomorrow. A wind dragon is our quarry, so do you think that you're up for it? It's understandable if you're not."

"Why a wind dragon?" Zairos asked somewhat defensively.

"It's some manner of Veldrin tradition, no offense intended, mate," Galvin answered. He continued, "I assume that this means that you're not daunted by the scale of such an endeavor?"

Zairos remained silent now.

Galvin asked his older son, "Zaz', are Illoz and Rifroz ready yet?"

"We are, Galvin," Illoz announced. His hair was a bright, intense Maya blue, and it spanned across his face in multitudes of bizarre strands that seemed to almost zigzag down in no exact pattern, much akin to lightning. His skin was similar(though more akin to a tuft blue), and he wore a thin set of chainmail made of meteoric mithril lined with thorium, an alloy only known to be native to the storm-ridden plains from which Illoz hailed. Rifroz was a slender, leather-clad Water Elf, standing to the right of Illoz, who easily towered over him. Rifroz bore two elegant, sleek daggers with an intricate bearing of his name.

"Ah, well, it's good to see you, Illoz," Galvin responded, "And Rifroz, you've been...quiet, is something troubling you?" Rifroz didn't speak any reply, though he made a small nod as though to say 'No'.

"Galvin, we're prepared, as I told you prior, we simply need to begin our flight," Illoz stated, "So, do you have any gryphons ready, or are we to go on foot?"

"No, no gryphons, though I was able to get some Boveoxen to pull a carriage for the trip, therefore as long as we don't come up on some Pancivals, we should be fine," Galvin answered. The experienced hunter whistled, and the sound of five furry oxen walking to Galvin's call could be heard. The main harnesses were wrapped around the protrusion that spurted from their spine upwards.

"Boveoxen pulling a carriage? One must imagine that you could tame anything," Illoz said at that thought, "But, still, let us tarry not any longer." Galvin led the group of five to the carriage, tied to five Boveoxen, ready to pull it for a long, tiring trip, which a ride to the Elemental Foothills would certainly be. The majority of the trip was likely to be uneventful, due to Galvin's boredom with Undead by this point, and the stops would be infrequent due to the distance from Swordhaven.

The Boveoxen came to a halt at a small pond, in SureWould Forest nearby to Falconreach. The Boveoxen immediately began to drink from the pond, while Illoz, Zairos, Razen, Galvin, and Rifroz were to dismount from the carriage and set up camp for the night. Illoz was setting up the tents. Rifroz was collecting water from the same pond that the Boveoxen were drinking from. Zairos was to keep watch over the campsite with Razen while Galvin kept his attention towards the Boveoxen as to make sure they didn't attempt a stampede.

Avoiding the detection of the novices Zairos and Razen though, was a group of Pancivals and Ribalds who were keen on causing havoc. They teleported into the midst of the camp in an instant and stole the framework to the tents, causing the tent canvas to quickly fall on Illoz's head and shoulders. They meant no actual harm, rather they just wished for some amusement. "...Razen, Zairos!" Galvin yelled, "Get those Pancivals and Ribalds, along with the framework for these blasted tents before Illoz tears half of Maguswood Forest apart!"

Razen and Zairos did not even try to bother with words and jolted up after the fleeing pranksters. The Pancivals took regard to their pursuers and began mocking them in dancing circles around them, quite literally. Eventually, Rifroz threw his dagger into one of the Ribalds skewing the cycle to where Razen and Zairos were able to round the rest of the Pancivals and Ribalds up. Sometime after they nabbed the last one, the duo was able to locate the tent frames some fifty meters out from behind the pond in a small vale.

The tiny grove was beautiful, being filled with all kinds of unique plants, like Azure Leaves, Blood Lillies, Pondroot, Gem Leaves, Sweetpalm, and Sourpalm. They examined the multitudes of plants and gazed in awe at the beauty of the flowing spring; the grass below them stemmed from the calm, docile water. The surrounding trees looked more akin to those in a swamp, yet still held a deep serenity to them. The wooden planks that were the tent frames easily stood out like a sore thumb in the clearing. Zairos motioned towards the planks, while Razen, unknown to Zairos, had decided to take a rest in the mellow meadow.

Zairos on his lonesome then returned to the campsite with the much-needed wooden frames. Illoz and Galvin were enraged at his lack of attention for Galvin's youngest son. Galvin refused to let Zairos go out to get Razen, instead Illoz was sent to nab the tired child and carry him back to camp. The Lightning Giant did, however, grab his spear on the off-chance that there happened to be some annoyance in the mire. Illoz climbed and maneuvered his way over the pond using a nearby tree to press a portion of his weight onto it.

Illoz looked as well, in a small spark of awe at the tiny cusp of so many unique plants, with a splendid complementary stream to match the tranquil dale around the bewildered lightning giant. It didn't take long before the miraculous spectacle of nature failed to continue to amaze the tuft blue gargantuan, and he began to look around for Galvin's napping son, Razen. The resting child seemed absent from the region, as Illoz didn't even hear any snoring. "Razen?" The hulking entity called, "Razen?" He received no answer though, and couldn't risk tossing up the trees.

"Well, Galvin, you're not going to be happy about this one..."


The sun shone on the small village of Deep Root. The immense tree, for which the town was named, was still vibrant and alive. Quite an oddity to see in DoomWood, as the tree was so vastly distinctive from the surrounding pyramidal trees due to the weeping structure. The houses that made up the village seemed insignificant in comparison. There were a few Rangers about, looking for a companion to accommodate them, which was not uncommon to the citizens. Perhaps the largest oddity was that Galvin Veldrin had just recently returned from a excursion to the Shaal jungle for Scorpiarc Venom to tip some splendid, vibrant Nautiloid Spike arrows he had carved out prior to the expedition.

"Well, I still need to get some refined wind dragon scales to make some personal, lightweight scale mail..." Galvin remarked upon his return, "Hard to imagine that it's just a tiny bit longer 'til I have a full array of equipment prepared." Galvin also lived off of hunting and trapping Krakhim to be moderately tamed, partially armored, and utilized for warfare, due to a Krakhim's immense upper body strength, and he was renowned for being one of the best at trapping any creature. Many of the rangers that took a visit to Deep Root were often coming for an exotic animal companion, or seeking advice from Galvin. One more often than the other, but I'll leave that to you to figure out.

One such novice wind elf approached the pondering expert with, "Uh...Hello, I've heard that you...uh...were an expert when it came to being a ranger...or was it rogue? Argh! Get it together, Zair'!"

"'Calm down now, Zair', you said, didn't you?" Galvin responded to the Wind Elf at a loss for words, "Your last name wouldn't just happen to be Alderi, would it?"

"'Tis, but...how do you know me?" The elf was not getting any less inarticulate.

"Why, your brother, of course! Garenil was down here last harvest, I believe it was," Galvin began, "Really quite the help that spellsword was, I'm not sure that I would've caught that Wind Cyclops without his help..."

"...well, uh, I'm here to train under you, rather than be exactly an, uh, assistant," Zairos Alderi was able to force the words from his lips and articulate them.

"I see, well, I s'pose that I can take a new apprentice under my wing, since I also need to teach my youngest son, Razen, soon. So, why not?"

Galvin was a rather rugged man in stained studded leather armor. His face had a few scars from his younger days as a hunter and trapper, and it also had some stubble from little time to spend shaving. His hair was straight, medium brown, and was parted in the middle of his forehead. It lazily spanned down to his shoulders in the back and to his ears in the front. His eyes were a dark brown. He opened the door to his home, telling his sons, Zazaith and Razen, "Zaz', Razen! We have a guest, so I expect you to be on your best behavior, especially if you want to come along with me for that wind dragon hunt."

"Another new apprentice? Don't you still need to take that Lightning Giant, Illoz, out onto the field?" Zazaith mocked, "Not to even begin to mention that..." The teenager was adorned in a teal robe, a stark contrast to his father. A light hood covered his light ash brown hair, which was mostly tied back into a ponytail that dripped down to his shoulders. His bangs parted and fell to his temples, and his eyes were hazel.

"That's enough, Zaz'," Galvin interrupted, "I get it, but Zairos is a brother to an old friend, Garenil."

"Well, I see...so, what's the plan? Going to take Raz', this Zairos fellow, Illoz, and that Water Elf, Rifroz, all with you for some wind dragons? Illoz will likely be your best help on that front."

"Zaz', that's...a great idea actually, I was planning on spreading it out, but helping them all at once," Galvin replied, "It might work, amazingly. So, get Illoz and Rifroz, Zaz'! Razen, come with me. We're going to the Elemental Foothills, we got some wind dragons to hunt!"

"Wind dragons? But, dad, isn't that...a little out of my league?" The little boy, that one must presume was Razen, asked, his face awestruck at the thought of the proposal. His hazel eyes widened like a puppy's. His hair was shorter than his father's, but that was to be expected since Razen was ten. It wasn't quite the same color as Galvin's either, but rather it was more akin to a walnut brown. His clothes were dark blue and bore a few tears that his mother, Iritha, couldn't find the time to sew. He wore a leather belt that Galvin made for him upon his waist, although it slanted due as it was too large for him.

"Perhaps, but...you will have me, Illoz, Rifroz, and Zairos to back you help too, remember," Galvin tried to assure his son, "Zaz', are Illoz and Rifroz ready yet?"

"We are, Galvin," Illoz announced. His hair was a bright, intense Maya blue, and it spanned across his face in multitudes of bizarre strands that seemed to almost zigzag down in no exact pattern, much akin to lightning. His skin was similar(though more akin to a tuft blue), and he wore a thin set of chainmail made of meteoric mithril lined with thorium, an alloy only known to be native to the storm-ridden plains from which Illoz hailed. Rifroz was a slender, leather-clad Water Elf, standing to the right of Illoz, who easily towered over him. Rifroz bore two elegant, sleek daggers with a intricate bearing of his name.

"Ah, well, it's good to see you, Illoz," Galvin responded, "And Rifroz, you've been...quiet, is something troubling you?" Rifroz didn't speak any reply, though he made a small nod as though to say 'No'.

"Galvin, we're prepared, as I told you prior, we simply need to begin our flight," Illoz stated, "So, do you have any gryphons ready, or are we to go on foot?"

"No, no gryphons, though I was able to get some Boveoxen to pull a carriage for the trip, therefore as long as we don't come up on some Pancivals, we should be fine," Galvin answered. The experienced hunter whistled, and the sound of five furry oxen walking to Galvin's call could be heard. The main harnesses were wrapped around the protrusion that spurted from their spine upwards.

"Boveoxen pulling a carriage? One must imagine that you could tame anything," Illoz said at that thought, "But, still, let us tarry not any longer." Galvin led the group of five to the carriage, tied to five Boveoxen, ready to pull it for a long, tiring trip, which a ride to the Elemental Foothills would certainly be. The majority of the trip was likely to be uneventful, due to Galvin's boredom with Undead by this point, and the stops would be infrequent due to the distance from Swordhaven.

The Boveoxen came to a halt at a small pond, in SureWould Forest nearby to Falconreach. The Boveoxen immediately began to drink from the pond, while Illoz, Zairos, Razen, Galvin, and Rifroz were to dismount from the carriage and set up camp for the night. Illoz was setting up the tents. Rifroz was collecting water from the same pond that the Boveoxen were drinking from. Zairos was to keep watch over the campsite with Razen while Galvin kept his attention towards the Boveoxen as to make sure they didn't attempt a stampede.

Avoiding the detection of the novices Zairos and Razen though, was a group of Pancivals and Ribalds who were keen on causing havoc. They teleported into the midst of the camp in an instant and stole the framework to the tents, causing the tent canvas to quickly fall on Illoz's head and shoulders. They meant no actual harm, rather they just wished for some amusement. "...Razen, Zairos!" Galvin yelled, "Get those Pancivals and Ribalds, along with the framework for these blasted tents before Illoz tears half of Maguswood Forest apart!"

Razen and Zairos did not even try to bother with words and jolted up after the fleeing pranksters. The Pancivals took regard to their pursuers and began mocking them in dancing circles around them, quite literally. Eventually, Rifroz threw his dagger into one of the Ribalds skewing the cycle to where Razen and Zairos were able to round the rest of the Pancivals and Ribalds up. Some time after they nabbed the last one, the duo were able to locate the tent frames some fifty meters out from behind the pond in a small vale.

The tiny grove was beautiful, being filled with all kinds of unique plants, like Azure Leaves, Blood Lillies, Pondroot, Gem Leaves, Sweetpalm, and Sourpalm. They examined the multitudes of plants and gazed in awe at the beauty of the flowing spring; the grass below them stemmed from the calm, docile water. The surrounding trees looked more akin to those in a swamp, yet still held a deep serenity to them. The wooden planks that were the tent frames easily stood out like a sore thumb in the clearing. Zairos motioned towards the planks, while Razen, unknown to Zairos, had decided to take a rest in the mellow meadow.

Zairos on his lonesome then returned to the campsite with the much-needed wooden frames. Illoz and Galvin were enraged at his lack of attention for Galvin's youngest son. Galvin refused to let Zairos go out to get Razen, instead Illoz was sent to nab the tired child and carry him back to camp. The Lightning Giant did, however, grab his spear on the off-chance that there happened to be some annoyance in the mire. Illoz climbed and maneuvered his way over the pond using a nearby tree to press a portion of his weight onto it.

Illoz looked as well, in a small spark of awe at the tiny cusp of so many unique plants, with a splendid complementary stream to match the tranquil dale around the bewildered lightning giant. It didn't take long before the miraculous spectacle of nature failed to continue to amaze the tuft blue gargantuan, and he began to look around for Galvin's napping son, Razen. The resting child seemed absent from the region, as Illoz didn't even hear any snoring. "Razen?" The hulking entity called, "Razen?" He received no answer though, and couldn't risk tossing up the trees.

"Well, Galvin, you're not going to be happy about this one..."

< Message edited by Razen -- 7/11/2014 14:52:42 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 2
12/23/2012 19:05:07   

Chapter 2: The Search Begins

"What!?" Galvin yelled in anger at Illoz, "How in the name of Heck could you lose a napping child who was at best fifty meters away from you!? Gah!" Galvin made a futile attempt to recollect himself, instead just focusing his anger towards Zairos. "You, Wind Elf, you caused this by not keeping an eye on my son to begin with!"

"Woah, woah, now, I was just trying to get the blasted tent frames quickly," Zairos defended himself steadfast, "Besides, you're the one who didn't keep an eye out for your own son!"

Illoz refused to let Zairos downplay Galvin though, "Zairos, if you weren't incompetent the first time, you would never have been sent out there with Razen to begin with either, so how about you take responsibility for your actions, for the Avatars' sake!" Illoz's outburst had silenced both of them before any more bickering continued, so it could no longer pester Illoz and fuel his rage. The silence was not broken that night, rather the entire group quietly agreed upon resting and doubling their efforts the next morn.

Upon the fresh light of a new dawn, Galvin and Illoz arose to the sound of the Boveoxen drinking once more from the adjacent pond, causing a small rickety noise due to the clanking of the carriage wagon's wheels. Illoz sluggishly grabbed his spear and tapped Rifroz and Zairos as to awaken them, announcing, "Get up, you twits, we have an expert hunter's son to find, since one of you was incompetent enough to lose him, Zair'." At the last portion of his statement, Illoz gave a harsh glance towards Zairos. "But, I digress," Illoz then stated after sighing, "My rage will not find the poor boy any more so than one's incompetency."

"That's enough, Illoz," Galvin replied, "Zairos should've felt guilt long enough now, let's simply find Razen and not throw blame around."

"What of the wind dragon hunt for their scales? Is that to be delayed?" Illoz posed a good question to Galvin.

"Unfortunately, no, I can't delay this hunt, so Zairos, send word to Zaz' back in Deep Root that Razen is missing and get a search party set up, if you don't mind," Galvin responded, "And Illoz, Rifroz, you two are sticking with me, as I need your back-up for this."

"I would suppose that satisfies all of my questions, and likely the rest of the group's," Illoz spoke in response to Galvin. He let go of his spear and instead took Zairos, who was still asleep despite the noises and attempts at waking him, by the shoulder. Illoz dropped him some feet from the Boveoxen carriage, as to prevent him getting trampled by the unorthodox beasts of burden, who likely couldn't differentiate the recently fallen Wind Elf from anything else. Zairos jolted up, as he was just awoken by the sudden sound of his descent onto the ground by the lightning giant.

Before Zairos even was able to form a response, the Boveoxen began their way towards the Elemental Foothills, with a lone note gliding towards him. Upon the letter these words read, "Zairos, Illoz and Rifroz are more valuable than you currently in a hunt, therefore I have tasked you with going back to Deep Root to give word to Zazaith that Razen has gone missing. You and Zazaith are to arrange a search party and find my son, I expect him to be found by the time of my return, else I will forget about training you, even despite your brother's assistance some years back." Zairos didn't need a signature to tell that the note was written by Galvin.

The Wind Elf sighed and muttered to himself, "I guess that I'll be going back to Deep Root the hard way..."

I awoke in the midst of a jungle, where a Forgah that had been trying to take refuge was being fought off by a Creech, which proved to be an immense oddity to behold so far north on Battleonia. The brown-eyed vines and moss were easily able to fight off the peaceful, hoofed, and red-orange Fire Fields native. The Creech was then even more bizarrely assaulted by a new creature. I thought that it might have been a fabled Grakma. The creature's clunky, red body stood beneath its horned head; its neck curved from the top of its body to the back of the head. The Grakma's gray eyes gave the impression of a saddened person; it is wondered if the Grakma actively kill or are forced to by powers greater than them. Its entirety marked with odd tattoos of unknown meaning. The demon's forearms looked akin to the bones of a human's, but they ended off with vicious three fingers that were tipped by claws. A long, snakelike tongue occasionally slipped out from its maw. Behind its large body, there was a scorpion-like tail that moved up and down. When one looked at its size, they would be surprised that the demon's thin upper legs could actually work.

Shortly following its arrival, the demon butchered the weakened moss creature by besieging the wounded vines with walls of fire and flame. This was quite fitting for a Grakma's status as a greater demon. The outgrowths on the Creech's large hump back ignited first, and the flames quickly reached its bronze-colored teeth. The blazes continued spreading until even the brown ends of its legs were up in flame. With the forest protector drowned in fire, the demon motioned its red hot claws towards me, and this resulted in me fleeing some feet away, in hopes that the Creech would be avenged by nearby brethren.

To my fortune, a nest filled with other Creeches felt the disruption issued by the burning of their sibling and rushed to the scene. They immediately began to rush the greater demon and were able to subdue him by outright overpowering him with sheer numbers. The numerous Creeches' jaws and grimy legs wrapped around the Grakma's legs and arms, eventually chewing through them entirely, leaving the fire and darkness demon helpless to the highly flammable creatures about it. Though, it wasn't long before an Adalon manifested, with these words spoken upon the completion of its embodiment, "Where is the Grakma, my Lords have sent me to locate, subdue, and interrogate the blasphemous creature."

The chilling words and entrance of the Adalon startled and even flash froze the entire flock of Creeches; the cold made the vines and moss of the Creech shrivel in the frost, leaving only me and the screeching remains of the demon to answer the Adalon. The Adalon continued to look about, seeming as though it were blind or simply incapable of being aware of the screaming head of its quarry. I, having just concluded that the torn apart creature must be this Grakma, was able to muster the bravery to approach the light and ice aligned golem. I only now realized the torn status of the majority of my clothing, and I announced to the entity, "Your target is already subdued and at your feet, though, if you would pardon my curiosity, what are you and why were you sent to catch this... thing?"

The yellow-crystal entity blurted, "My apologies, dear human child, but I am afraid that I am unable to satisfy your curiosity. You have my gratitude for the subduing of the Grakma though, therefore I shall ask you for your name and attempt to return the favor later on."

I looked peculiarly at the Adalon as it declared this peculiar proposal, and it wasn't long before I timidly answered, "I am... Razen... Veldrin."

"Razen Veldrin, you say? The name sounds familiar to my elemental golem ears... Bah, I must return to my Lords, but best of luck to you, Veldrin!" With those parting words, the golem grabbed the now whimpering and bleeding beast and dissipated into a cold flash of light.

With the leave of the creature, I was able to think clearly and deduced that I had no idea whatsoever of where I was. With this in mind, I began contemplating and speculating as to possible theories of how I was able to find my way into this unknown copse in my sleep, and the only reasonable conclusion was that the Ribalds and Pancivals from the glade took a joke way too far. Though, this theory had some gaping flaws, such as that Ribalds and Pancivals are only capable of short burst-like teleports and that I was way too far away for that to be plausible. By that logic, I was able to reach the idea that I had no idea of where I was or how I got there, but I did know that more than likely I was too out-of-range to be able to beckon for assistance via verbal means.

I left my pondering aside though, and began to examine my surroundings for a means to try to return to either my father or Deep Root. Surrounding me was a surplus of unknown flora and trees that spanned far beyond my reach, meaning there was no chance for me trying to climb them for a vantage point. This proved to be a massive hit to my morale, as it meant that I would have to wander about for a much greater deal of time prior to being able to obtain a similar viewpoint to gain knowledge of the vicinity about me.

A Bubble Elemental, Zarlath, Adalon, and a small pack of Lectros were at a gathering, the Adalon being the same one that had met Razen prior. The Zarlath had begun the conversation of the sojourn with, "So, Myodei and his seven companions truly escaped from the Planes?" Its four arms lightly waved about as it balanced its bulky upper body on its tail. The two antennae swayed back and forth from the Zarlath's shoulders. Above, between, and below his four arms, the Zarlath had six fins.

"Yes, Veqwei, Myodei, and the others have indeed found their way into Lore once more, to wreak some form of havoc..." The Bubble Elemental answered solemnly. The many bubbles that made her form suggested that it'd be easy for her to pop.

"Can Neso confirm this, I'm not convinced, I mean, weren't those eight under strict watch?" The Zarlath persisted.

"Neso did confirm it, for I am serving as her mouth for this meeting," The Bubble Elemental barked in response.

"I believe it was Iskrema who was assigned to watch over Myodei, an unwise choice if you ask me. I can't imagine why Kyanos would allow such an incompetent decision," The blind Adalon blurted.

"I know that you have much esteem in Kyanos' wisdom, Kydoz, but you must realize that the Elemental Avatars are not infallible," The Zarlath responded wisely.

"Indeed, Xalvyk, but it is sad to admit that one's embodiment of their god is capable of such error, if not heretical," Kydoz replied.

The Lectros then decided to, in a wave of clashed voices, declare that, " Haeos supports any motion to recapture Myodei and his subordinates, their insubordination can prove most hazardous, especially if Iskrema is intending on joining them." The numerous blue spheres floated with their arms swaying about. All Lectros' arms ended with claws that had two fingers.

"That...was surprisingly astute and complex, I would've imagined that I had said it myself, rather than a small mob of Lectros," Xalvyk blurted the words from his mouth, in a condescending mannerism. His four arms were in a relaxed gesture, as their three fingers and sole thumbs were interlocked into one another. His six back fins drooped, and his two antennae that spurted from his shoulders stood tall. Its tail supported its body, and went behind him some odd number of feet.

"Well, wasn't the last group that proved to banish Myodei and company back to the Elemental Planes led by a Veldrin?" Kydoz queried.

"If I recall correctly, I believe so, though, why is this relevant, Kydoz?" The Bubble Elemental answered this time, and posed her own question. Her expression was indiscernible, due to the crude structure of her body and face. Bubbles made a rough estimate to the upper body of a person and her lower body matched more to a bubbly slime. She had only three fingers to each of her hands and no thumb.

"Well, Hyzela, I happened to actually come across a Veldrin earlier today whenever I was sent to abduct a Grakma for interrogation," Kydoz stated with his typical cold voice.

"Really now? This is...intriguing," Xalvyk retorted, "Though, was it the hunter, Galvin, or one of his sons?"

"One of his sons, I would presume, he had said his name was Razen Veldrin, after all."

I had finally come across a sapient creature, after witnessing the blonde, green-robed, and winged Waldgeist fight off the remnants of the Grakma and its victims. The entity in question was one of the Pancivals that had been at the glade, I could tell as it had a rare segmentation in its horns, in that they were striped with black and light gray; that was nigh impossible to occur in another during the same generation. The Pancival was amazingly not in a playful mood, rather the opposite. In fact, it seemed frightened and terrified, like it had been threatened by a Behemoth riding a Hunting Roc mounted on a Hydra, or in laymen's terms, was in way over his head.

The Pancival panicked and cackled in terror when he saw me. "You! You were...You were supposed to be dead! Ooh, the speaking willow will have my head for this! No, no, he will never see this Pancival again!" With that, the Pancival began hopping about frantically, in some distorted form of flight. He was simply running circles, tiring himself unknowingly. Eventually, I found the nerve to tell the crazy thing, "Stop, your terror isn't getting you anywhere!"

"So misled you are, little boy, the speaking willow could actually be any tree." The Pancival began speaking in rhythm for a response, "Therefore, I know not a place to hide, so I run in circles of thought for my mind!"

"Well, would you mind answering three things for poor, little me then?" I beckoned the Pancival stuck in rhythm, "These questions being, how did you get me here, where are we, and what is this speaking willow?"

"The speaking willow says he is the wisdom and patience of stone and the anonymity of nature, though he feels different than any nature spirit that I've met prior!" The Pancival began, "As to why you're here, it beckoned me to dispose of you, and so here we are in this jungle-inclined mountain valley to the east of the Maguswood Forest. It's quite grimy, and to be honest, my first response to seeing you still alive is blimey! I would've thought that terrible Grakma would've blazed you up, considering how close you were to its claws and burning cinders."

"You sent that demonic thing at me!?" I blurted in an outrage at the highly plausible chance that I could've died due to this frantic prankster's tricks.

"No, I happened upon it and lured it out here in hopes that it'd try for some human flesh, it is no lie! Now, I must go, bye, bye!" The Pancival immediately jumped up and kicked me, changing his flight to what might have been the Neverglades, since we were relatively proximate to them. Now, once more left with only myself as company, I began to ponder if it'd be faster to try to hike to either Oaklore Keep or try for Willowshire to the north, since I found it doubtful that my father or Zazaith would venture into the depths of the mountain vales north of the Kingdom of Sek-Duat III. I would rarely, if ever, be willing go on such a path, especially with a lack of evidence to support that I'd even been there after the amount of effort necessary to delve deep into these valleys.

< Message edited by Razen -- 7/11/2014 14:54:02 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 3
12/29/2012 0:47:31   

Chapter 3: The Living Forest

I came to the decision that heading for Oaklore Keep would be the wisest choice, since Maguswood Forest is much less dangerous than trekking through to the kingdom of Sek-Duat III or hiking to Willowshire. Trying for Willowshire through all of those peaks would be life-threatening with such a lack of prepared attire, similarly for the Sandsea, therefore only Maguswood Forest was a reasonable choice of travel. This would mean that I would have to risk a possible encounter with that Speaking Willow the Pancival spoke of, which could serve to be disastrous if he was anywhere near as deadly as he seemed to pose to that trickster.

Now came the question of figuring out which way was west, only a toil due to the canopies above blocking out the light of Solaris. Their thickness was mighty terrible for anyone trying to find their way without a Gnomish magnetic compass or one of similar Orcish craft, though one would also risk the blasted contraption spontaneously detonating in your hands about equally to it working as intended. One must wonder if either of the two could tinker one of their inventions to not be a ticking time bomb. Pondering on the potentially lethal technology of the Ulgathi and Gnomes won't help me in getting to Oaklore, or conclude which direction was west.

Having reallocated my thoughts to trying to sight Solaris, I thoroughly began surveying the leafy tree tops above, and I miraculously was able to spot an opening in the canopy where there was a small clearing of weeping willow trees alongside a brook. I cautiously kept my sense aware, as it was certainly plausible that one of these willows was the Speaking Willow. To come upon such a deadly foe who desired my death unprepared would be signing my death warrant to be executed posthaste. I slowly crept towards the copse in hopes that the talking tree wasn't present inside of it, as I doubt that I could handle what is potentially a Wood Golem or easily worse.

I made a slow, cautious pace as I crept towards the Willows with wary eyes. The trees to my surprise did not abruptly dismantle themselves from their dug in roots and commence to attack me relentlessly in my vulnerable position, as I would be unable to comprise a suitable bulwark in such haste(thus being easy prey). I continued with a steadfast vigilance of my surroundings, in hopes that I would not alert this speaking tree. I circled around a few Willows and jumped over a tiny crevice. I stepped on what appeared to be an ancient, ebony root, five times wider than my foot, a deep, coarse voice burst out, drowning the former, peaceful silence, "Who are you to think you may step on me in my own abode? I am the patience of stone and the anonymity of nature, so speak now, boy, for I am Zolkt. Speak now, later, or never, for I will not move, neither shall you, lest you answer my question sufficiently."

With the end of Zolkt's speech, substantial barriers of bark akin to the outside of the root from earlier encircled me. The cortex was easily too thick for me to bother with my fists alone. I now sat and pondered for a spell, contemplating how to formulate a clever lie to introduce myself as someone else to Zolkt. I needed to be dishonest, as I could already figure that Zolkt wishes the end of me, else the Pancival wouldn't have dragged me out so far. Each attempt of deceit that I formulated seemed incomplete, so I delve further in my mind to concoct a decent fabrication for myself.

Eventually, I was able to put something believable together, "I am...Zairos Alderi, although my apologies for stepping on you, for I did not know that there was a sapient tree in this copse. I would hope that one so patient has the humility to forgive an unknowing youth's mistake."

"Liar! Do you take the wisdom of stone and the eyes of nature for nothing? I simply wished to test your honesty, Veldrin," Zolkt somewhat angrily blurted in response to my fib, "Granted, if I was less wise, I could've mistaken you for some half-elf due to your ancestors, who I know all too well."

"Then do you mind explaining as to how you learned that it was me?" I queried to the entity all around me.

"Simple, a little birdie told me," Zolkt answered mockingly, as a Soaring Theemis swooped down from the skies and its talons sunk deep into the bark of a nearby Willow tree. My face turned red in anger at how foolish I was to not remember to be alert to all possible types of pursuers, including the flying variety. The Theemis likely was eavesdropping the entire time and overheard my voice from when I told the Adalon. The bark previously enclosing itself around me began to sink back into the recesses in the dirt.

I was now able to look upon the Soaring Theemis, who had an unique look to him. Instead of the normal skin color, he bore skin of royal purple, matched with turquoise feathers that had bright green highlights, his hair being the same as his feathers akin to other Theemises. His armor, as well, was peculiar, in that, it was actually chainmail with a cloth covering the majority of the torso, upon the satin was an unknown symbol that looked incomprehensible. The avian eventually spoke, "Well, Zolkt, I see that my information has proved itself true enough, although nonetheless Ariyzi called me back here to check up on how things were going on dealing with the Veldrin boy. Maybe he doubts your skill at crushing things, which would be silly since you're the strongest swinger out of all of them probably, albeit the slowest."

"The rusted chains of prison moons are shattered by Solaris, I walk a road, horizons change the tournament's begun. The Pied Burper plays his tune, the choir softly sing; three lullabies in an elvish tongue, for the court of the Golden King." A choir began, while instruments played, "The keeper of the palace keys puts shutters on the dreams. I wait outside the communicant's door with insufficient schemes. The Nightmare Queen chants the funeral march. The cracked brass bells will ring; to summon back the Sandwitch to the court of the Golden King."

At the close of the second verse, Sek-Duat III rose from his throne, plated in gold and the seat cushioned with many layers of red satin, and had declared, "That is sufficient, my orchestra and choir, I have a guest, who is to arrive soon. I would wish for you to be prepared to play for our banquet this eventide, for I am not to disappoint my sojourners. 'Tis the consequence of being the Kings of the Sands, Sek-Duat III of the Sandsea." Sek-Duat III now walked out from his throne room, taking his leave towards the right passing by a golden cobra statue and the bust of a falcon, which marked one of the front corners of his throne's raised platform. The red, satin carpet below his linen robes, his black cloak fluttered by the tiniest bits as he strolled towards his personal room to prepare.

He opened a sandstone door with thin layers of red, green, and blue painted smooth stone covering a majority of the outside of the door in the shape of a red oval border filled with blue scalene triangles outlined rather thickly with the green, a winged golden scarab being the doorknob. Sek shut the door behind him immediately, wanting no one to hear him. He scoured about through his belongings looking for something. "Where is it?" He said the question aloud. He took out one of his vault keys and placed it inside a hidden lock. He turned the key, and gazed about quickly through the mass of treasure in the hoard.

Eventually, after working his way through pools of gold, jewels, jewelry, statues, busts, totems, and other luxuries that made up his personal treasury, he came upon the Light Orb. "Ah, there you are, time to meet our guest," Sek-Duat III said gleefully as he grabbed the gleaming gem, examining it to make certain that no one attempted to trick him out with a fake. After the emperor was certain that it was genuine, he then jokingly beckoned the shimmering sphere with, "So, shall we greet and meet Szayan, our sojourner?"

When Zairos awoke having had just regained consciousness from being stampeded over by a horse, he found himself entering DoomWood. The Wind Elf began remembering as to how he found himself in this ordeal, when Zairos first left from Maguswood Forest to Deep Root; he had attempted to sneak onto a Merchant Caravan to Sil. They weren't exactly pleased with his try at freeloading a ride, so their guards threw him out. After wandering on to the border of DoomWood, a startled horse had trampled over him. It was likely this had being the last thing of note to happen to him until he had arose from his short but undesired comatose.

Before him now was the undead-infested forest of DoomWood, to the east lay Darkovia, another cursed vale, would seem that Battleonia has quite a problem with curses upon their forests. To his fortune, the undead aren't exactly the keenest of folk, due to their general lack of ears, eyes, taste buds, most nerves, and noses, therefore a stealthy Wind Elf, such as himself, should be capable of slipping past undetected easily. Especially since Zairos had a loaded one-hundred-sided die to fool the Stat Roller, so he took out the cheating tool and rolled it. It obviously landed a natural one hundred, utterly defying whatever the difficulty of the roll was.

Zairos cautiously slithered his way onto the dirt road and followed the path that he had when the Wind Elf first came to see Galvin Veldrin. The surrounding pines hid no skeletons or zombies from his sight, thanks to his LUK. He eventually met the sign which had on it carved, "Deep Root" and pointed eastward, to which he followed until he came upon the familiar houses and the massive tree for which the town likely has its namesake. The town seemed less lively than during his previous trip though, which was a tad disheartening, yet despite the signs, he continued onward to Galvin's estate.

He gazed upon the door, and examined it carefully. He had concluded that it would appear that the door was battered in and caught aflame somehow, as there were ash residues all about the bark of the wooden door. He pulled the bronze doorknob nonetheless, yet to his surprise found no smoldering corpses or their ashes. "Uh...Zazaith...where are you? This seems too...extreme to be a joke," He blurted, "So, seriously, come out, it's an emergency!"

Zazaith could be heard lazily awakening to Zairos's clamor; he casually strode down the oaken stairs. He was surprised to see the Wind Elf, "Zairos, what in the name of the Lords and Avatars are you doing here?"

"Well, you see...Razen is missing and Galvin requested me to get you to form a search party to find him in Maguswood forest," Zairos answered hastily.

"What!? How...explain what happened, Zairos!"

"Razen and I were to keep watch for Ribalds and Pancivals during a stop at Surewould, we failed at that and followed the blasted tricksters to a glade, Galvin urged us to be the ones to fix our own error, and during that time I got the stolen tent frames back, while Razen apparently took a nap and wound up lost,"He quickly explained, "So, that's why I came here. Oh, and your door got battered in and has some ashes on it."

The Boveoxen-pulled carriage finally came to a halt, and the tuft blue, armored giant was the first of the group to remove himself from the transport. The Elemental Foothills were beautiful in the terms of landscapes; Mt. Shining Star's lava flow could be sparsely seen in the background, to the right of some other mountains. Their quarry was nearby, Galvin and Rifroz decided to take their leave of the caravan as well. Galvin then took some Sun Lotus leaves with some Mushy Mushrooms and Pretzel Root mixed in to get the exhausted Boveoxen to a proximate waterfall to revitalize themselves for the return voyage.

"Come on, Boveoxen, you know you want some of this delicious stuff," Galvin jested as he waved the bait in front of the Boveoxen's nostrils. They began to nibble a tiny bit of the snack, as Galvin strode towards the waterfall and subsequent pond, and they followed like he hoped they would. Once they got to the waterfall, the Boveox gleefully began to drink from its waters. They then took what they needed in specific for the hunt itself, such as his quiver, arrows, bow, Illoz's spear, Rifroz's throwing daggers, and three doses of Powdered Dragonbane, which Galvin purchased from Dragesvard during his last trips there.

"We have everything we need, no?" Galvin asked.

"We all have our weapons, all of which are covered in Powdered Dragonbane, I would believe that we are certainly prepared," Illoz answered.

"I suppose so, Illoz," Galvin responded, taking a firm grasp of his bow. They strolled from the waterfall and went south and then east of the enchanted grove of the Minx Fairies, SylphDrakes, and Ribalds. Before them now stood a great portal, albeit Illoz could barely slip in without crawling, so one could clearly figure that they weren't made with the Giants in mind. They all gazed into the starry gateway, the stone pillars to each side having an elegant symbol inside of a triangle carved around near the top. They all slowly made our way through the portal.

They now looked in awe at the ground below, Mt. Shining Star's fiery pillars, lava flows, and entrance being down before them on back towards the enchanted grove. The area that they were at was called the Floating Cave for rather obvious reasons; the walls of the cavern were marked with bizarre symbols and of similar color to sandstone. Inside this elemental grotto was a wind dragon, a small one too, at least according to Galvin's sources, as there was an account of one flying into the vicinity and entering the hollow.

"Well, this is the place, is it not?" Rifroz questioned, to Illoz and Galvin's amazement.

"Well, is this cave floating?" Galvin mocked.

"Fair enough, though I hear not any roars of a Dragon," Rifroz replied, and it would seem that the Dragon knew of their presence as he burst an outcry to spite Rifroz's statement. "I stand corrected," The Water Elf reacted to the echo of the Dragon's growl.

The Chain-mail clad Theemis looked at me with an expression on its face that I could not see, as his turquoise hair covered the majority of its face and his beak gave little assistance to discerning the gesture. "Well, Razen Veldrin, how are ya' doing? I'm Zayn, a Theemis, and an associate of Ariyzi, who is a companion of Zolkt's," the Theemis, Zayn, had moved the conversation towards me. I refused to answer him, instead giving a rather confused look. "You're a quiet one, eh?" Zayn responded to my silence, and continued with, "Zolkt, you'll want to keep an eye on this one, if what Ariyzi had told me of his ancestor is true, then he was always a nigh mute one, supposedly aided him in his guile."

"I fear not, Zayn," Zolkt calmly responded, "I am of a more vigilant sort after my prior mistake, Ariyzi need not worry his whimsical head off. I will make certain we shall not lose that which we lost last time."

"That's wonderful, Zolkt," Zayn replied happily, "I would not wish for the shame of my ancestors to repeat itself in my flock."

Butting into their conversation, as it seemed to be towards an end, I queried the immense, eloquent Willow, at least articulate for a tree, "Who exactly is Ariyzi, if you don't mind my curiosity?"

"Ah, that's correct, I had forgotten to inform you as to who he is, well, allow me to satiate your thirst for knowledge on my companion," Zolkt began to elucidate, "Ariyzi is the wind-aligned member of my group of eight, he serves as the communication relay, if you will, and has Zayn to help him in that regard."

"Your group?" I repeated the words with a curious tone.

"Oh, no, I cannot tell you of that, I'm afraid," the Willow enunciated, "Perhaps another time. For now, simply remember your ancestors and do not make the same mistakes."

"So, what now?" I questioned the clearly knowledgeable tree, as the roots that previously uprooted continued to settle down into the mushy dirt.

"What now? Why, you're going nowhere, not for awhile at least," Zolkt began to explain, "As your ancestors were the ones in lead of delaying me and my companions for so long on our goal, as they stole our research notes and books relevant to the matter. We simply want what is rightfully ours from your family, as we had collected the works long before your ancestor stole them from us. In my calm patience, I therefore offer that you bother not that which does not concern you in the matter of the Planes, if you abide to such, then you will be rewarded with getting out alive. What say you?"

"Do I really have a choice?" I mocked the terms of the offer.

"Of course, death is a viable option, if you wish it," Zolkt expounded, "You can even choose how you desire to die, as I made clear earlier, I am amiable, be it by me crushing you, Zayn tearing you apart piece by piece, or Zayn devouring you alive, piece by piece."

I gasped in terror, and muttered frantically, "I will accept the terms that you have brought forth!"

"G'ewd!" Zolkt answered gleefully, clearly overjoyed at the idea of possibly achieving that which he had craved for however many years he was set back, and that it may finally happen. Though, I know not what it was, which he had yearned for.

< Message edited by Razen -- 7/11/2014 14:54:48 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 4
1/3/2013 2:13:43   

Chapter 4: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

An elegant, royal yellow robed and hooded figure, a golden scarf wrapped inside of the high collar of his robes rode into the great city of the Sandsea, land of Sek-Duat III, mounted on a saddled Sunspike. A specially designed leather and steel bridle upon the head of the desert reptilian, its protruding, bright yellow incisors making the bridle awkwardly shaped and unusable for a horse, or any other animal for that matter. On the vestment of the entity were patterns of a symbol akin to the Eye of Ra inscribed in a triangle, and beneath his hood lie a golden hawk mask with a beak made of blue painted steel, a mark surrounding the underside and outward side of both eyes. Strapped onto the back of the being was a staff, headed with a Sunstone, the area of the handle wrapped in layers of linen cloth, and the rest of the rod was made of dyed leather patterned in an interlocking fashion.

The immense city surrounding the being was bursting with life to the amazement of the bleak, inhospitable region around it. Traveling merchants were taking their eye to some Snapping Camel breeders' stocks for future trips into the harsh desert. A great number of the traders were from Sil, although there were also others from Swordhaven, Oaklore, Deep Root, Willowshire, Riverine Keep, Lymcrest, Granemor, and maybe even some from as far as Dragesvard, therefore many of them concluded that it'd be an unwise business decision, as the Snapping Camel would only be readily useful in the deserts of the Sandsea. In the center of the market district, there was a monumental fountain sculpture of Sek-Duat I and II, the water pouring from vases that they were both holding and positioned as though they were giving it out freely, the water emptying into two temple tanks. The gestures of the first two of the Sek-Duat dynasty in their statues being symbolism for their generosity as rulers of such a harsh land, as in the deserts of the Sandsea, water is either as valuable as or more valuable than gold.

The sandstone walls of the surrounding shops were painted in all forms of inviting colors, mainly those of the cool colors, sapphire blue and royal purple being the most popular. Shopkeepers often beckoning the exquisitely garbed figure with something along these lines, "Good sir, would you wish to buy a nice Hematite Hood to replace your wearing and tearing current one? A mere one thousand and five hundred and it is yours!"

The entity continued riding on upon his peculiar Sunspike mount, pulling on its reins as a means to tell it to stride on. Another trader came before the being, "You sir, I can tell are a man of elegance, therefore I offer you this Star-Studded Belt for the cheap, mere price of five thousand gold! It is truly a once in a lifetime offer, my good sir!"

The being now tilted his head back to the merchant, his hood and golden hawk mask following suit, as he answered with, "You're right; it's been a lifetime since someone's tried to rip me off so." The storekeeper was in awe and gasped at the figure's response, one could tell that the trader was speechless and baffled that the robed man so easily could tell that he was being cheated immensely. "Now, if you don't mind, I have important business to attend to," The words could be heard from the hawk guise, "I need not be bothered by the calls of a novice salesman, who knows not the means to set prices correctly, for I am to be meeting with Sek-Duat III."

"My apologies then, if you are to meet Sek-Duat III, then be off with you! Make haste, don't tarry, the King of the Sands hates for people to be late! And please, forget that I ever existed!" The merchant, simply hoping that the entity would not come down from their Sunspike mount, responded trying to sound pleasant. The Sunspike was now making its way to Temple District of Sek-Duat's brilliant city, the sanctuary being at least five stories tall, likely with an elevated ceiling of Gothic architectural design. The front of the house of prayer was met with pillars of sandstone supporting a veranda with two sandstone statues of Sek-Duat I with an inviting gesture on both sides of the stepped entrance. Before the effigies lie two temple tanks of water, for all to enjoy, no matter their race or social status.

A priest of the Sandsea, a Master as could be told by his hood, pleased by the new visitor met him kindly, "Greetings, stranger, I have not seen you before, will you come in and take part in our prayers to the Light Lady and her hands, the Sek-Duat dynasty? We were just about to begin our midday sermons of Sek-Duat I's Humility."

"I'm afraid that I cannot partake in your communion, for I have a meeting with Sek-Duat III," The royal yellow robed figure answered, his golden hawk mask faced the cleric, and he continued by asking, "Though, I'm rather unknown to this city, as it's my first time here, so would you mind giving me directions to his majesty's palace?"

"Oh, why, not at all, anything for one of his guests," the monk responded amiably. "You see the manors over there, correct?" He pointed over towards the Nobles' District as he spoke, and continued, "Well, when you turn around to leave, take a right to the Nobles' District, and follow the sandstone road to the steps of his Palace. Or, if you would rather, there is a way through the Temple, for High Priests to meet with the King of the Sands. Now, I must return to my Initiates soon and begin praise to the glorious Sek-Duat dynasty, so please, make your decision quickly."

"No, thank you, although I am grateful for the guidance, curate," The being replied.

"Anytime, now good day, honored guest of Sek-Duat III," The preacher returned, as he walked up the sandstone stairs and back into the temple.

"Rifroz, why did you have to spite the dragon?" Galvin jested to the Water Elf Rogue, taking his bow's handle in hand and grabbing an arrow shaft from his quiver. The butt of the arrow tip was a centimeter or two from his hand, the head was tipped in liquid Dragonbane, and the shaft of the projectile was between the string and the handle of the bow. My fingers grasped the linen bowstring, ready to fire an arrow into the scaly, winged beast of the winds.

"Does it matter why if he's already done it?" Illoz queried in response to Galvin's mocking. The Lightning Giant's spear in hand with a tower shield, with layers of Drake skin packed in the underbelly of the aegis, ready to be besieged with dragon's fire.

The sounds of the dragon were striding towards them being readily available with the occasional outcry shaking the foundations of the hollow, which was unusual for even a dragon. The vocal cords of the dragon clearly must have been superior, alongside its lung capacity. The silver wings of the dragon stretched as its slate scales bit into the rock of the bottom of the grotto, with the scraping of its talons against the sandstone nearing closer towards them. As it drew more proximal, the noise of the dragon's horns scratching against the ceiling of the cave became ear screeching. The group quickly had to cover their ears to keep hold of their thoughts for more than a few seconds.

The Wind Dragon now stood before the ensemble; its head hung low as to breathe its flames upon them, its sapphire eyes gazing at the three as juicy morsels. At this point, it jaws opened and it beckoned its magical breath to spew onto the hunters. The bright green, with a small hint of blue, fire spawned from the throat of the immense reptilian. As it began exhaling the conflagrations, its feathery wings spread in a V-shaped manner from its spine, with the upper portion curving as to conform to the ceiling of the cavity. From this position, one could see that the right wing's upper supporting bone was broken. The teal conflagrations met the rocky ground, and Illoz immediately held tight to his tower shield, as he crouched to try to cover his entirety from the flames. Galvin and Rifroz instead scampered to get some form of natural bulwark between them and the turquoise blazes. Illoz slowly motioned himself and his shield back towards Galvin and Rifroz. The Lightning Giant still attempted to keep himself covered from the dragon's fire as he did this, and he scraped the bottom of the shield against the sediment beneath him.

The Wind Dragon made another ear shattering roar in anger. The multitudes of spikes spanning across its titanic body, specifically at joints, moved accordingly to their connected body parts, as it whipped its tail towards the boulders. The slabs had given way and broke by the sheer force of the sweep. Galvin tried to move further away from the beast, as to get a better aiming position. Rifroz attempted to slip under the gargantuan reptile using the collapse of the rocks as a distraction. Illoz had to hold steadfast to the remnants of his hiding place, then climbing onto the fallen slab after it had completely fell.

Rifroz being beneath the belly of the beast, had to keep quiet to prevent from garnering attention from the colossal dragon. Galvin took more steps back, trying to get out of the wyrm's immediate thought process. Illoz, now upon the recently fallen stone slate, with his shield held adamantly, prepared for the dragon to strike. Unknown to the reptile, Illoz had his poison tipped spear in his other hand, the head of the spear a few centimeters behind the back of the shield. As the dragon stomped the collapsed slab, the Lightning Giant barely was able to remain standing as he was shaken by the brunt of the winged lizard's stamp.

Illoz began making strides towards the claw of the leviathan, keeping his spear close to him. While the Lightning Giant distracted the titan, Rifroz took the opportunity to begin climbing onto the side of one of the Dragon's feet, the numerous scales serving as support while the Water Elf rogue scaled its paw. His two daggers hanging nearby as he ascended, with two circular wires each running through a hole in the guard in front of the handle, from his leather, pouched belt. They had to be handled this way,as he lacked sheaths for their serrated edge and unusual shape, with another blade extending from the blade side of the end of the curved guard before the grip. Due to their being suspended, Rifroz had to be immensely careful to avoid making them hit each other and make a clanking sound, though he also had to keep them from smacking the scales of the dragon, if he wanted to live at least.

The Lightning Giant, who now stood directly beneath the bottom of one of the dragon's many talons, took his Dragonbane-tipped spear and lodged it precisely into where the claw meets the toe itself. The spear penetrated through the scales, with Illoz's strength to back it, forced its way into a blood vessel. The artery, now open, discharged the wyrm's blood with haste, causing the feathery winged reptilian to unleash an outcry of agony. The sanguine liquid covered Illoz and his surrounding area as it simply continuing spewing for the relatively small wound.

Rifroz took the commotion as a means to safely maneuver his way to what he presumed was one of the dragon's major ankle tendons. He relieved one of his daggers from being suspended in the air, now taking the grip of the blade in hand, as he clutched a proximate set of scales to keep stable footing on the colossal beast's foot. With some degree of balance now assured, the rogue took his knife and slashed continuously at the sinew, in hopes of disconnecting some major muscle from bone. The twin set of blades and the serrated edge of the main one being most advantageous for this.

Finally, the rigid plates gave away to the keen dagger, revealing the open tendon. The crafty Water Elf slicing the sinew with his knife, tearing an important leg muscle from the bone. The grey Dragon, upon noticing the cut tendon, discharged another tumultuous uproar of turmoil, now determined on devouring the devious, lithe scoundrel. Galvin took heed of the wyrm's ferocity, and readied an arrow to try to divert attention from Rifroz, in hopes that it'd save the fool's life. The arrow fired with great velocity, though the projectile met only the hardened scales of the foreleg of the winged behemoth and was deflected.

The dragon now maneuvered its neck and other legs to position its head within a small distance of the daring imbecile, ready to close its jaws on raw Elf flesh and muscle. Its eyes fixed on the Water Elf, with no other thoughts in its mind at the time than to consume the person who injured it so. Galvin took another poisoned arrow from his quiver and pulled back the string after he got the bolt into the correct position, with the bowstring at its most tense, he discharged a new projectile. The arrow took flight, Galvin having aimed for the Wyrm's ocular organ this time around.

To Rifroz's fortune, the projectile met the soft, moist tissue of the dragon's optic; a sharp pain besieged the wyrm as its nerves surged wildly with agony. The poison that tipped the head of the bolt now floated about afflicting the cells as it swam through the damp tissues. The gargantuan, winged reptile turned its head, peering about with its single fully functional eye in aspiration of discovering the perpetrator of this horrendous deed. With the Lightning Giant camouflaged by the blood of the colossal, flying lizard. Galvin stood out alone as the lone potential culprit for this appalling, atrocious act, even more so with his bow still in hand.

With fury overtaking reason, the Wind Wyrm tried to rush towards Galvin Veldrin, entirely forgetting of its sliced tendon. Galvin remained still, fear left him paralyzed, as he watched in awe. Illoz shouted to Rifroz, as soon as he noticed the rage of the flying behemoth, "Rifroz, get down from there or you'll be squished to death!" The Water Elf gave no verbal response, rather instead he simply attempted to jump into the Lightning Giant's arms, as he knew that there was likely no time to try to climb down. To his fortune, Illoz was within jumping distance from his height, and he made it.

Galvin continued staring awestruck when he remembered the cut sinew, as well as the fallen rock slate, which the dragon had broken with its tail earlier. Galvin now felt a resurgence of hope, from what he could figure on the position and size of the dragon, he knew that it would land on the sharp, jagged ends of the shattered slab which should be able to penetrate the bulwark of the hide of the beast and kill the wyrm, which made it convenient that it was one of the obstacles between him and the reptilian leviathan. The winged lizard began sprinting haphazardly, its unusable foot causing it to trip on itself, its body slowly descending and collapsing onto the ground below. Its head falling just a bit past the toothed edges of the slate, meaning that the spikes protruded through the scales protecting its neck.

As the keen teeth of the rubble slipped through the bulwark of the scales, blood vessels were opened, and the throat and windpipe penetrated, meaning that the main means of getting oxygen to the dragon's lungs now being blocked forcefully. The sharp, serrated edges of the collapsed slate now had blood overflowing and pouring down onto them. The fallen beast opened its jaws, as if to roar. It was unable to muster the energy though, and its head collapsed onto the ground once more about halfway through. Its eyelids gradually and gently sweeping over both of its ocular organs, as more sanguine liquid poured from the wounds which were its demise.

Zolkt now in his joy stated to me, "Ah, now that you've agreed to my terms, shall you ride a newly matured Earth Dragon home to Deep Root? It'd be a terrible thing if you had to walk back, it's such a long, dreary walk, not to mention dangerous, and as well it would truly be a shame for another death to ruin my currently ecstatic mood." It surprised me that this being would take some degree of care for my safety, considering that it had stated and continued with a tad of detail on the possibility of killing me in cold blood for the actions of an ancestor of mine.

It seemed like Zolkt made a beckon to this creature through his roots, meaning that it was likely underground slumbering. Zolkt was probably apt to persuade it to carry Razen home though; otherwise he wouldn't risk it if his words were to be believed. From the ground burst the forearm of the beast, the livelihood of the shallow root plants on the previously occupied space flying out in all directions. Its talons dug into the grass and foliage, as it pulled its body through the dirt. First, its right arm became fully exposed, then more of the ground gave way and the head, neck, and left arm revealed themselves.

The young adult Dragon of Earth had a horn upon its top end of its mouth and just a tad above its nostrils, like most others of its kind, although the horns it had upon the back of its head were more akin to that expected of an Energy Dragon. In that, four horns spawned from both sides of the back, descending down along the jawline, and progressively decreasing in size. As it continued to uproot itself, its chest became easily visible, and on its back were vines wrapped around the first protrude close to its neck, all the way to where the tail began. Under these vines were, despite what one would presume, no further protrudes aside from the two previously mentioned seemed to be evident. The creepers were certainly intended to be a makeshift for a saddle to prevent the scales from biting into the flesh of the rider.

Zolkt now spoke aloud, to where me and Zayn could hear as well, "So, newly mature dragon, do you understand the terms of our agreement? You are to carry young Razen home, with my companion, Zayn, overseeing to his safety from your jaws, and in return, you will receive some of that which some of you dragons hold so highly, that object being treasure, bah, the frivolous thing it is means little to me." The dragon unable to speak common, instead growled in a seeming pattern, which I presumed was Draconic.

Zolkt realizing that it was unlikely for me or Zayn to know Draconic fluently, had translated, "Fair enough, Earth Elemental, I will carry this 'Razen' to his home in exchange for your treasure upon my return." The Earth Dragon nodding in agreement as it listened to the eloquent tree. Zayn didn't seem quite as ecstatic about the idea, though, likely displeased with the thought of being an overseer for my safety. The Earth Dragon, being somewhere between fifteen to twenty feet tall, made a peaceful, even graceful, strut to me, the plants on the back of the reptile seeming more like premeditated decoration than a makeshift saddle, considering the multitudes of flowers and vanity plants making the majority of the wrap over its back.

I looked at the dragon's back and saw no means to climb up onto the vine encasing around, what I presume was, her back. Zayn realized this as well, and stretched his wings out while walking towards me. The feathery extremities made an obtuse angle, measuring about one hundred and twenty degrees. His hands opened, his talons tearing through some pouches that my father had put into my leather belt. He flapped his wings, their turquoise feathers forcing the wind down, as the Theemis elevated me and himself to the reptile's backbone. He focused mostly on maintaining the correct elevation, which meant that I had to figure where to try to land.

The majority of the plant covering seemed thick, with some the sides being more meager, as flowers alone decorated them. One could easily see that little thought was made on safety for someone trying to use the wrapping as a provisional protection from her scales. Zayn quickly tired of my lack of getting onto her back, and simply dropped me down onto her backbone. "Now, hold tight, Razen," the Theemis began, and continued, "I doubt that you've ever ridden a Dragon, let alone one without a proper saddle and reins, so I'd suggest hanging onto that vine shawl as though it were dear life, for you see, it probably is." Immediately, I took heed of Zayn's advice and clasped the vines and other plants of the female dragon's covering, hoping that her stride wouldn't knock me off or rip through the decorative greenery.

A new arrangement of gnarls could be heard, Zolkt translating once more, "Is the boy ready yet? I'm growing tired of him defiling my gown." Her expression, after Zolkt deciphered and rephrased her words, was one of bitterness and resentment, likely to that she had agreed to do this, as she likely didn't originally realize that it'd ruin her attire. Her love for her wardrobe seemed peculiar for a dragon, even a female one.

"I'd guess so, madame," I responded, and I found it fortunate that Zolkt knew Draconic. If he hadn't, then none of us would've understood a thing she said.

With the curate's directions, the yellow robed figure was able to make his way to what he was certain was the Nobles' District. The manors being made of similar, though more intricately done, painted stone to that of in the Market District. Metal winged scarabs, the body was plated in gold and the wings in silver, served as the doorknobs of a majority of the mansions. The doors had a small spyhole for viewing anyone who would attempt to enter their chateau to verify their guests' identity for fear of a beggar to have the audacity to come to their gateway. Drifting from the entrance, the walls were home to elaborate stained glass windows, showing effigies of their respective owner, though possibly dated, and their ruler, which was one of the members of the Sek-Duat Dynasty, be it the First, Second, or the recently seated Third.

What few bystanders made their residence in this district gave way to the entity's Sunspike, for fear that the tan reptilian, with its many yellow spikes and fangs, might take a liking to their meat. The desert native lizard to one's surprise, didn't try to pounce upon any of them though. Its harden knee plates, similar if not identical in color to its spikes and fangs, moved accordingly to its legs, as it strode further on the sandstone road, a slight gale sent sediments and grains of sand towards the rider and his mount. The sunstone nestled in the top of the figure's staff glistening with light from the SandSea's blazing sun, although the light seemed rather ethereal for such a jewel.

Beside the rider were more of the lavish homes of the aristocracy, each seeming more intricate than the last. The figure presumed that this meant that he was on the right pathway to Sek-Duat III's Palace then. It wasn't long until before the Sunspike and the entity above it were met with the Palace Guard, men and women in unique uniforms, the helmets, pauldrons, greaves, boots, and breastplates were a stark contrast to what one would expect, they were made of the blue to green chitin of the Scar Scarabs. The helmet had a fabric covering the face from the nose following the cheekbones to the jawline and wrapping over their neck, along with circular frames surrounding pressured glass giving the attire an outlandish appearance.

Behind the armed defenders, was another set of statues of Sek-Duat I and II, although this one differed from the others. In this one, the two rulers were surrounded by people upon their knees as they extended their arm and hand, the gesture implied that they were beseeching their people. The loyalty of their followers seemed impressive, and it was likely that that was the meaning behind the sculptures. Nonetheless, the spears of Sek-Duat III's Watch jabbed at the Sunspike, forcing its rider to give a word of warning, "Best not bother the mount of a guest of Sek-Duat III, I doubt that pointing spears at my pet Sunspike is exactly endearing."

One of the men, possibly the Captain, asked the rider through his mask, "A guest, you say? Your name, stranger?"

"I am indeed a sojourner of your majesty's, and my name? It should be put down as Szayan," the figure answered calmly, clearly not unknown to this process.

"Ah, yes, Szayan, I'll be honest, I expected an Elf, but I could see you being a Szayan," the man returned, "Now, you do have a good day, for you are honored to meet with Sek-Duat III, therefore I bid you adieu, Szayan, as I am merely the Head of the Gate's Guard. Enjoy your stay at the palace."

The robed individual said nothing in response to the guardsman, instead the entity looked at the exterior of Sek-Duat's palace, the sandstone, making the external portion of the pyramid, was painted gold, most likely to verify and back the wealth and power of the Sek-Duat lineage. The hooded figure jumped down from his tan, sand colored, mount, his robes and scarf fluttered in the air for the short descent, and now he took his pet by the reins to a nearby stable, which he assumed were the royal ones, considering the elaborate carving and painted wood. The character opened the gate, leading his Sunspike inside of it, then closing and locking it quickly. From there, he made his way to the steps, made of the same material as the rest of the exterior.

As he began his way up the stairs, the entry hall of the palace was in sight, its beautiful decoration evident, as there were banners and tapestries hanging from the ceiling. The drapery was depicting the history of the Sek-Duat dynasty in a wondrous series of images. The embroidery told of a man clad in elaborate linen and gold, one could presume that he was to represent Sek-Duat I, being granted divine right to rule by Celeritas, the Avatar of Light herself. The banners bore the winged scarab, a symbol of the Sek-Duat lineage, as well a symbol akin to an Eye of Ra inscribed in a triangle, identical to that which was on the onlooking individual's elaborate, royal yellow robe, and then surrounding these two emblems was an oval with outgoing triangles using teal, green, and red paint.

The entry hall had two temple tanks, lined with golden platters, bowls, flasks, and cups, black paints of winged scarabs on them, with the latter two not being filled with fruit, while inside and on the bowls and platters were an array of fruit. Most native of the fruit were to the SandSea, with some exceptions, those being the pineapples, oranges, grapes, and apples. Now the figure cared to look at the ground below, noticing that the rough sandstone from the previous steps was now replaced with an intricate carpet, in it were the embroidered depictions of the three Sek-Duats, going in chronological order starting from the entry hall. The image of Sek-Duat the First was the most interesting of the three members of the lineage, due to the helmet of a Guardian sitting on a nearby pedestal.

The next room had split off into multiple pathways, if one counting go back out to the entry hall, there were six ways to go. If one were to say that before the figure was north, and to return to the previous room was south, then the other four directions divided off to his ordinal directions. The entity figured that the path in front of him was likely to the throne room itself, and the passages diagonal to him to other sections, like the banquet hall, Sek-Duat's private quarters, the orchestra practice hall, state apartments, the palace libraries, among others one would expect in such an immense palace. The robed individual continued on forward, and he hoped that his previous assumption was correct.

Before the figure now was the throne room. Hung from the ceiling were more tapestries of the previous rulers of the Sek-Duat lineage. Sek-Duat II had the more peculiar one now, as he held an intriguing object, which was a specter of pure light, and its rays shining upon the people of the Sandsea. The respectable amount of art dedicated to the Sek-Duat dynasty made the entity wonder as to who was receiving the commissions for these works of embroidery. Aside from the hangings, there was the symbol akin to the Eye of Ra inscribed in a triangle made of gold. Its circumscribed circle, made of the same material, surrounded it, and twelve spikes protruded from the edge of the circle. This likely embodied Solaris, which seemed fit when one considered the connection that Sek-Duat III's ancestry with himself included had to the element of Light.

The golden and linen clad emperor sat upon his throne, which was on a raised platform. Atop the center of the seat of royalty sat a sculpture of a hawk, and its wings outstretched the inside edge of the two being parallel to another. The arms of the chair ended off with golden scarabs, and it was upon this that Sek-Duat III's glided gauntlets, vambraces, and couters rested. The sovereign's face was hidden by a mask, much akin to those used for sarcophagi in the Sandsea. A pedestal to the king's right boasted an array of fruit that were likely exotic in the desert. To his left, there was a flame lamp that had an excessive size, if one considered the tiny blaze inside.

The royal yellow robed figure began, "I would suppose that you're his majesty, Sek-Duat III? Regardless, I am here upon the request of the Emperor of the Sandsea."

"Ah, I would presume then that you're Szayan?" Sek-Duat III replied seemingly disinterested, as his arms remained limp and lifeless.

"I might as well be, though calling me Szayan is not exactly correct," the individual responded, and continued, "I would prefer to discuss with fewer eavesdroppers though, so may you please send your servants off?"

"Of course," the Emperor of the Sands answered, "Begone with you, as well as to the guards, we have no need for your services this eventide." The guardsmen and attendants immediately followed the command of their sovereign, and they exited the throne room with expedience. Sek-Duat III started again, once they all had left, "Now, you were going to say about how it is not exactly correct to refer to you as Szayan?"

"It is so, for you see, Sek-Duat III, I am not Szayan," the hooded figure spoke through his hawk mask, "Rather, I am his bearer, to be exact. I serve as his mouth and means of travel more often than not though, so I may as well be him."

"His bearer? Your usage of the term confuses me, is Szayan not a being in of himself?" Sek-Duat III queried.

"He is an entity all of his own, but he is currently residing within the sunstone nestled in the head of my staff," the entity returned, and furthered with, "As for my true identity, my current state of being is much akin to your own, Sek-Duat."

"Is that so?" the King of the Sands asked, "Then please, indulge me into my own nature, stranger."

The hooded figure removed his glided hawk mask, which revealed a rotting face. His flesh was cracked, and its pigmentation faded to a blue gray. Dark violet rings enveloped his rotting eye sockets. He now spoke, his lips falling apart as he forced the words from his dying mouth, "I told you, Sek-Duat III, I know your contemporary condition of living, or rather undeath, all too well. I know that you also are a lich aligned to light, much like myself, though I see not what bound your soul to the Plane of Light. Nor can I claim to fathom to begin to what is your phylactery; perhaps you don't even have one."

"You're a lich of the Plane of Light as well? Most interesting," Sek-Duat acknowledged his guest's ghastly appearance, which was befitting for a lich. He moved on to remark, "Well, since you're serving as the mouth of Szayan, do tell him that he has a most abnormal, yet fitting, choice for his hand. Although, on that note, might I know your name, since we're of the same in the terms of being."

"I'll tackle the matter of my name firstly, since I have some degree of pride," the light lich's lips continued to fragment, "My name is Bazrir. As for informing Szayan of his peculiar selection of servant, I would deem that as unnecessary."

"Why so?" Sek-Duat immediately inquired curiously.

Bazrir clarified, "You see, Sek-Duat, Szayan must, well, rest in the sunstone or another light source for so long, after which he can manifest temporarily. Eventually, he'll have to return to a light source and become inactive once more. I do believe though that my time spent getting to your palace, as well as the city itself, should have been sufficient time for him to slumber, therefore I call for you, Szayan!"

At the break of his words, his summon was answered. A radiant being with no discernible form materialized itself before them, and rays of light surged from its body as though it were Solaris incarnate. It realized that it had emerged from the sunstone shortly. Its speed seemed otherworldly as it began giving itself shape, yet despite that the way in which it moved gave the feeling of laziness rather than haste. It was likely around ten seconds until a fully formed Szayan stood before them.

The luminous entity looked at Bazrir and Sek-Duat, then questioning the latter, "Why have you requested for me, Emperor of the Sandsea?"

Sek-Duat paused before he spoke, "I...well, I had requested you to meet me here, as I had heard that you had an offer for me. I intend to hear the terms of this offer, and see if this alleged agreement is worthwhile."

"Oh that, well, Sek-Duat, I offer you that which I know that you wish for, though with some delay as finding the exacts on the spell will take some time," Szayan began, and expounded, "I know where it all is, mind you, therefore I offer you the opportunity for true eternal life in exchange for free and open access to your libraries as well as permission for discussions with you on the Planes, moving between them, and the celestial bodies within them. Do you find these conditions acceptable?"

"Did...did you just offer me true eternal life for simply knowledge?" Sek-Duat was shocked by the few requests that Szayan made for such an immense offering.

"That would be an accurate description of my proposal," Szayan answered posthaste.

The Sun King jubilantly responded, "Who wouldn't accept to those terms? I easily benefit immensely and lose little."

"Much the same, Sek-Duat," Szayan remarked, "For you see, knowledge on the Planes is more valuable than a spell which grants eternal life to me, at least, in regards to my current aspirations and desires. Worry not though, for I suspect that we'll have a similarly mutually beneficial proposition in the future, perhaps not soon, but I predict that it will occur."

< Message edited by Razen -- 8/12/2014 16:23:17 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 5
1/9/2013 18:26:58   

Chapter 5: Welcome Backs, Frozen Fire, and a Little History

The Earth Dragon upon which I rode on continued her noisy strut to Deep Root. One would've imagined that such clamor would've attracted predators rather than scare them off, but to my surprise no creatures seemed to be trailing us. Its plant wrapping continued to give way, and one side of the flowers fell to the ground. She turned to look at the source of the sound, and she saw the fallen blossoms which brought tears to her eyes. Regardless to her grieving, anger, and generally sour mood, she continued on. Her brown tail flailed about as she made her stroll through the mountain valleys, and she began to enter Doomwood.

The dark forest began to consume my surroundings; the moans and cracks of bones of the Undead cursing these woods could be heard. The deep chirps could be heard in the distance, though they were drowned out by the dragon's stride and the march of Undead. There was a purple glow to the landscape, but the pine trees masked the sources. A few times a single Undead would rush the fashion-sensitive reptile, and she would petrify their rotting bones with her breath of elemental earth. While she did this, she likely unleashed some of her tension and anger.

It wasn't too long before the dragon came upon a small group of Skeleton Guardians, and their blacken helmets gazed towards the brown lizard. Their tainted armor served as a disgrace to the shining steel and gold trim of most Guardians. I suspected that these deceased Guardians were likely from Amityvale. Their simple breastplates and greaves matched the dark color of their helms, and their swords bore elegant handles and hilts. The blades were not as intricate, as they bore no carvings. Instead of etchings, the edges of the sword barely curved inward until they neared the head of the blade.

The skeletal Guardians lumbered towards the Earth Dragon, and she raised her arms as to smash the poor defenders. It had worked, to a degree, as the Undead Guardians were unable to comprehend that they had fallen down, therefore they were unable to get up(perhaps this wouldn't have happened if they had Undeath Alert). With the majority of the group made harmless, we continued on. Although, I took notice to something peculiar, and then I realized that it was an Undead Berserker among their group. He seemed infuriated, despite the general lack of means to express emotion.

The barbarian's spiked, steel pauldron covered one of its shoulders, and it was alone in that regard. It carried a stone axe with rough hide making the handle. It bolted towards the disgruntled dragon, who had not heard the careless commotion that the berserker made in its motions. The stonework battleaxe met the muscle of the reptile's tail, barely able to force its way through the protective scales. As the edge of the weapon bit through the scales, the Earth Dragon went through the normal reflex and immediately kicked backwards. To our fortune, the blow shattered the ribs and sternum of the raging Undead, and he had fallen down, useless. His ulna and radius cracked, and this caused his savage weapon to crush through his skull.

The encounters only heightened her fury, and she even had the audacity to stop to futilely try to calm herself down. I could only have imagined what she did to Zolkt when she got back. It wasn't long before she made an outcry. The deathly roar had seemed akin to a summon for Zayn, who then seemed to have descended from nowhere. He found the source of the appalling howl at least, and glanced at her injury. He labeled off it off as merely a flesh wound, despite this he remained on the ground. One would've gotten the impression that the Theemis felt she alone wasn't sufficient for an escort.

Zayn's stay proved itself useful towards the end of trip, when an Undead Skuller ambushed us. He jumped from the pine trees, and his black, morning-star flail circled around the similarly colored handle upon its chain. The skeleton's golden colored armor seemed unusual, due to its ragged nature. Its steel buckler was in the shape of a pentagon. The Theemis's speed proved far more valuable against this foe who loved to chuck the heads of his enemies clean off in fell swoops than the Dragon's strength.

The head of the flail swung towards our group, and it nearly hit the neck of the Earth Dragon. She then reacted with sending her talons down among the Skuller, but he blocked the brunt of the blow with his buckler. Zayn noticed this, and he sprinted forward to kick his shield down. With the aegis on the ground, Zayn pondered the opportunity to fly through his defenseless foe, but the Skuller wasn't wishing to give up so easily and continuously whirled the flail's head to dissuade the Theemis from daring near him. A vain effort, as Zayn quickly flew towards him, and knocked the flail out of the way. His talons pierced the Undead's armor, and he pecked away at the Skuller's neck until the vertebrae broke apart.

With the golden armored Undead downed, we began our strut once more to Deep Root. As that Skuller was likely raised from BlackWyn Tomb, which was northwest of Deep Root. We followed a nearby sign post that pointed southeast with these words written on it, "Deep Root." Before we could even start though, a band of people were walking cautiously onto the road from Deep Root. In the band of people, I spotted a few of note, and they were Zairos, my mother, Zaz', and my sister.

My mother, Iritha, was one of the easiest to spot out, as her ash blonde hair and blue eyes made her stand out immensely compared to everyone around her. Her dress had a modest neckline, which matched the customs of the time. The attire was of a faded turquoise and bore patches over time. Azaila, my little sister, had a small flowery gown and shoes. Their pastel colors seemed odd compared to the blue and brown that the rest of my family wore(myself included). Her hair was a mix between my father's and mother's, being a hybrid of brown and blonde with a slight lean towards brunette. Her eyes were hazel with a slight case of sectoral heterochromia that gave some blue to her irises.

My mother was the first to actually realize that I was on the back of the Earth Dragon. Once she knew that, she hastily grabbed me from the plant wrapping. Iritha began, "Oh, my baby boy, he's alright! He's alright! Oh, thank you, strangers for bringing him home safely! Blessed be you two, Theemis and Dragon of the Earth!" She was in tears towards the end of her gratitude, which was rather embarrassing for me. My sister, Azaila, giggled at my humiliating situation, and not that I could blame her, since she was six at the time. At the same time, Zairos looked like he was trying to hold back from bursting out in laughter at the scene.

My brother, Zazaith, spoke next, "Mother, I do believe that's enough, who knows how much of what you just did will scar Razen, so how about we just get him home?" My mother wiped her tears from her face, and she nodded to Zazaith's suggestion.

"So, Kydoz, you say that you have tracked down one of Myodei's companions?" Xalvyk queried.

"That is correct, Xalvyk, though despite knowing that it is one aligned with Myodei, I know not which of them it is," Kydoz answered.

"It matters not, the three of us can easily lay waste to one of them alone," Hyzela blurted.

"I will go with Hyzela on this, Kydoz," Xalvyk began, "Now, where did you find this associate of Myodei?"

"Towards the icy peaks of the Frozen Northlands," Kydoz replied.

"We shall go immediately," Xalvyk stated, who raised his four hands lightning crackling in each one. His six dorsal fins stretched out in different directions, and the energy surged from his fingers to them. The bolts continued by erecting a portal to the Frozen Northlands, and specifically to around where Kydoz had traveled the day before. The three elementals walked through Xalvyk's gateway, and they found themselves surrounded by the cold frost and snow of the Northlands. Hyzela shrunk in response to the new surroundings, and Xalvyk shivered due to the freezing temperature.

Xalvyk gazed around, and he tried to find another elemental in the region around them. To his surprise, the Zarlath noted in the distance a flaming figure, and even further against logic, it seemed to get even more frigid as they neared him. They trailed the burning entity, and they were thinking of a way to ambush him. The wintry area had many mountains, so when the blazing elemental had to travel in one of the many valleys. He seemed to be near one, and entered it as Xalvyk hoped.

Xalvyk and Hyzela took to the opposite sides of the valley, and Kydoz was to follow behind the ignited being. Xalvyk and Hyzela were able to get into their positions well enough, and Kydoz was to serve as the distraction. The blazing figure eventually took heed to Kydoz's trailing of him, and turned around to find the ambush awaited for him to do that. Rather than casting flames at Kydoz, he simply sarcastically shouted out to all of them, "Your efforts are vain!" Xalvyk and Hyzela ignored his mockery of their trap, and foolishly continued down to try to down the aflame being.

As they scaled down the surrounding mountains, the ignited figure simply waited for them. Energy crackled throughout the entirety of the Zarlath, and the Bubble Elemental was ready to pulverize the blazing fool. Lightning bolts surged towards the burning entity, but when they got near him, they simply froze. With no further explanation to the bizarre phenomenon, the frozen bolts fell to the ground and shattered. The aflame being continued to remain still and redoubled his previous jeer, "Your efforts are vain!"

Xalvyk looked in confusion at the shattered remnants of his previous attack, and he was entirely baffled as to how whatever this thing was had accomplished this feat. Hyzela continued on, since she believed herself to be fine for some reason. The Zarlath wasn't long behind on following the Bubble Elemental on this idea and thought, and they both were now within some number of yards from the alight being. Hyzela rushed towards him first, and her arms were ready to smash down on him. She immediately froze as soon as she found herself some inches from the body of the blazing entity, and the ignited figure's identity and abilities were still unknown. The frozen remains of the Bubble Elemental looked terrified and shrunk compared to her previous size. Xalvyk slithered back some, and he tried once more to surge lightning through the burning being.

The bolts again got close to the alight entity until they froze. They then fell to the ground and simply shattered. Xalvyk attempted to get into melee combat with him now, like Hyzela. The Zarlath hoped that his alignment to Energy would serve him better against this foe than Hyzela's allegiance to Water. He launched one of his fists towards the burning being's head, but it was frozen in an instant once it neared him. Although, Xalvyk did notice that it seemed to get immensely colder as he neared the ignited figure, and he figured that there must be some bizarre reverse temperature applied to him. With this in mind, the Zarlath tried to send another punch with his frozen hand. As soon as he did this, however, the rest of his arm became numb and lost all heat in it.

The figure simply laughed, "I told you, your efforts are vain!" With all of the blood in one of his arms frozen, Xalvyk decided that there was no way that he could best the burning entity. He turned around and slithered, and the Zarlath tried his all to flee to Kydoz, who might have a chance. To Xalvyk's misfortune, the alight entity took notice of his flight, and he motioned his hand towards the retreating Zarlath. The sub-lord of the Plane of Energy was burned to a crisp, and so Xalvyk's cindering ashes and his limp, frigid arm were all that remained of him. "Are you going to run as well, Adalon?" He asked, and there was a deep sense of mockery in his tone.

Kydoz, who was still a great deal away from the blazing being, immediately ran towards Xalvyk's portal, and the Adalon hoped that the gateway was still open. The lightning shaped edges of the opening gave view to a dreamy landscape. The stars and ethereal sky of the space seemed otherworldly in their majestic nature. Such was the city of Aloria, which was nestled in the Outer Planes, and it was best described as being suspended in space at the intersection of the Planes. In this unique region, gods and their servants lived in unity, but there was that one occurrence where an entire race under the service of the Light Lady was considered Fallen. Regardless, Kydoz entered the open entrance to Aloria, and he hoped that the hatch would dissipate quickly. He certainly did not wish to be followed by such a dangerous foe.

Kydoz entered the realm, and he now resided in the wondrous city of Aloria. From the empyrean above gleamed an array of colors, and to one's surprise was comprised of every element, rather than just elemental light. The Elemental Lords often resided within a large chamber, and it served to be their room of council. The white-gray marble that made the pillars of the archways was splendidly smooth and lustrous. The archways went far above Kydoz's head, and the gardens between the walls flourished immense varieties of plant life. Many of which Kydoz knew not the names of. The flowers always fascinated the Adalon, despite his blindness, and their fragrance filled him with harmony and serenity. Their colors and shape were identified to him by Xalvyk and Hyzela, but it was still difficult to imagine their appearances due to the overflow of aromas.

Connected to the top of every arch was a dome. The top of this dome was made of white and gray marble, like the pillars, and followed a style of semi-circle segments making the outside of it. The cupola had the elemental wheel etched into it, and it indicated where in the chamber of council each Lord or Lady and their respective Avatar were located. They were arranged as follows: Light was to the North. Wind was to the Northeast. Ice was to the East. Water was to the Southeast. Darkness was to the South. Earth was to the Southwest. Fire was to the West. Lastly, Energy was to the Northwest.

The Elemental Lords floated above the ground as ghostly figures. Their avatars sat in pause, as they listened dutifully to the words of their respective Lord. The horned helmet and immense blade of the Lord of Darkness were surrounded by his two sets of bat-like wings, and his words were directed to the Lord of Dark. His wife, the Lady of Light, hovered at the other end of the council chamber, and her bird-like wings sprouted from nearly every part of her ethereal body. She spoke to Celeritas of her decision to let Sek have the Orb of Light and the potential repercussions. The discussion seemed rather interesting. Kydoz was looking for the Lord of Ice though, so he'd have to return to question the specifics later.

In the direct middle and east of the Lady of Light and the Lord of Darkness sat the Lord of Ice. Though he personally finds the name Lord of Cold more fitting and accurate to the domains of his element, but most prefer to not confuse his lordship with that dastardly attack of The'Galin and his Network. Regardless, his figure was one of frigid nature, and upon his German-style sallet rested an asymmetrical crown of ice that had some of the pieces shattered. His bright turquoise or cyan eyes shone intensely from the tiny slit of the helmet. His body seemed akin to that of a battlemage's, for it wore robes with light bearings of frozen chain-mail, icicles still clung tightly to the ringlets of his armor. The arms of his robes drooped far below his hands that were covered by gauntlets also made of mail. His hands grasped onto a rigid staff and shield. Both of which bore the scars of his lord's glacial winds surrounding him. To his right was the Lord of Wind, and to his left was the Lord of Water.

The Adalon stood before Kyanos and their lord, the Elemental Lord of Ice himself. Kydoz spoke before his lord and his lord's avatar, "Lord, I come before you with tragedy and curiosity."

"Continue," the Lord of Ice declared in response.

"In the Frozen Northlands of Lore, a Zarlath, Bubble Elemental, and I had encountered a being which was on fire, yet froze all that neared it, even lightning, the Zarlath, and the Bubble Elemental," Kydoz explained himself. He continued on with, "The latter two of which I listed died, but the Zarlath was burnt to death."

"I see, though I only know of one entity that matches such a description," the Lord of Ice stated, "And that being would be...Zynaer. He's quite the anomaly of a Fire Demon, but it is not my place to inform you on the Dominion of Fire."

Myodei sat in an ebony chair, and he had a mahogany desk before him. A book with a teal painted leather cover sat upon the writing table, and it had etched into the binding On the Planes, by Giovanni Sytril. There was a torn bookmark towards the beginning of the tome. Myodei began, "Bah, this space is scorching again, and we don't have Zynaer to cool it off this time around." The surrounding space was made of black rock with occasional veins of lava breaking through the volcanic rock. In the corners and along the walls were a few burned remnants of bushes, and their decayed leaves seemed quite depressing. The chamber was off some deal from the entrance to the volcano, and to the right of the room was a stone and wooden door with a fiery skull on both parts of the gate. Sharp stalactites were erected from the ceiling of the volcanic tunnel, and they made travel through the shaft difficult.

"Where did he go anyways?" the moist figure that was Veqwei queried.

"He said that he needed to relax," Myodei answered, "And he said that he was going to the Frozen Northlands. He should likely be back in a few days. He simply needs to 'cool' off." The two entities chuckled at the last bit.

"I find it doubtful that he can," A voice declared from an umbra filled abyss, "It's more likely that he'll cool his surroundings or some fool that dared get close to him."

"Whatever Zynaer's doing in the Northlands is irrelevant," A static voice blurted. He continued with a different tone, "What's truly important is if Szayan was able to make arrangements with Sek-Duat. I suppose that we'll learn that whenever Bazrir returns."

"Bazrir will get here sooner than Zynaer at least, Dyjhal," Veqwei responded, and continued, "As for you, Vyrdae, I would suppose that is true, considering Zynaer's...abilities. Regardless, how goes the reading, Myodei?"

"I'm at about the fifth page, as I only began my reading," Myodei replied, "But, the pages seem lacking on information of the Planes themselves though. So far, all that it has begun to talk of is Caelestia and its bizarre Pantheon. Not to mention the failures of Therlion the Mad with his attempts at stabilizing the region."

"Only Caelestia so far? That's bizarre," An echo from the dark void could be heard.

"It is indeed, Vyrdae," Myodei returned, "The table of contents did mention Aloria, Star Dragons, the Engine of Creation, alternate realities, and a few other things of interest, so I'll suffer my way through the dreary thing." The icy hands of the figure grasped the cover of the tome, and Myodei opened the book to where his bookmark left off. Myodei began reading to himself, Therlion the Mad allegedly rested beneath a close-by rock for 99998376 years, 8 months, 12 days, 3 hours, 26 minutes, and 2.706 seconds. By the time that Therlion had awoken from this slumber, other deities had colonized Caelestia to expand their own power. Therlion seeing that other deities took claims of Caelestia displeased him, so he decided to create the Man in Black, the Man in White, and the Man in Gray or Red(depending on the version that you've heard). The Man in Black represented absolute Evil; the Man in White symbolized pure Good. Lastly, the Man in Gray or Red embodied true Neutrality, also referred to as balanced.

The next paragraph expounded onto the problems of the bringing of the three Men in Colors. Therlion's attempt at balancing the domain of Caelestia proved to be an absolute failure. The Man in Black spent his time gathering power to usurp the Man in White and Man in Gray/Red, as the Man in Black took Therlion the Mad's creation of him for granted. In his attempts of seizing control over Caelestia, the Man in Black had caused multitudes of Caelestian and God Wars to disrupt the power and religious structure of Caelestia. Eventually, the previous deities of the Caelestia were banished from the domain, and the Man in Black was confined. He had to be held captive in a demiplane, as he harnessed too much power to be dismissed from Caelestia.

"Oh, the Man in Black," Myodei began sarcastically, "How you embody absolutely everything I adore in Creation." He chuckled after he finished, "My apologies, I couldn't keep a straight face."

Days passed before my father returned from the Elemental Foothills, but the Boveoxen carriage eventually came to a halt. The sound of the hungry Boveoxen grazing on any grass that they could find filled the air of their arrival. The rugged figure that was Galvin helped Illoz carry Rifroz out of the carriage, and his studded leather armor bore the scars of dragon's fire. Illoz still had some marks of the sanguine red over his armor and face, and these stains were a stark contrast to his light blue skin. His hair made it seem more like the blood was used for highlights than involuntary streaks. Rifroz was still intact for the most part, but a good few of his bones were broken.

Illoz carried Rifroz for the most part, since it was easier for the giant to carry him alone rather than for them to try to balance the Water Elf between them, especially when a failed attempt at doing so could easily harm Rifroz even more. Some of the drops of dragon's blood fell onto Rifroz's torn leather armor. His legs drooped down, as the gravity from the Mana Core of Lore pulled down upon them. His tibia, femur, and fibula of both legs were both broken, and the skin of Rifroz's legs sickly stretched down by the force of gravitational pull.

Galvin opened the door, and he beckoned Illoz to bring Rifroz in first. The Lightning Giant held the torso of the Water Elf in his chain-mail gauntlets. Rifroz groaned painfully, and the sound of his moans garnered the attention of Iritha and Zazaith. They let the wounded elf pass them, and after he was rested upon a sufficiently sturdy table. Zazaith examined Rifroz's body, and he noted the broken leg bones. Zazaith took some alchemy reagents that he had gathered in their absence. He grabbed his worn stone mortar and pestle from a nearby counter. He crushed the Azure Leaves and Blood Lillies, and he made a paste out of the mushed reagents.

Zazaith carried the paste-filled mortar. He didn't add any water, as to dilute the solution would weaken its healing capabilities. The teenager covered his palms in the violet plaster, and then he applied it adequately to the elf's legs. "That should mend the bones in your legs perhaps two weeks sooner than it'd normally take," Zazaith stated, "Oh, right, it should also ease the pain in about an hour."

"Well, Rifroz and Illoz," Galvin began, "I suppose that since it was my fault that you two have found yourselves injured that it is only fair if I invite you to remain in my home while you both heal. Granted, my house is limited in space, therefore if you do accept my offer, then you will have to share a room."

Illoz responded with, "I don't believe that will be a problem, Galvin, what say you, Rifroz?"

Rifroz spoke weakly, bloody coughs interrupted his speech, "I...I see...no problem...with...that."

"I'm happy to have you as my guests then," Galvin answered, "So, do enjoy your extended stay on my behalf. Though, now that we have that arranged, I really must talk with Razen. So, I must take my leave."

The rugged figure in his burnt studded leather armor met me in the living room of the house. His face still marked with stubble and faint marks of burns, but past scars were more prevalent. He knelled down on his knees, so that he could look at me eye-to-eye. "Razen, do you know why I had to go hunt a Wind Dragon in the first place?" My father asked me.

I answered timidly, "No, no, I don't."

Galvin rose back up to his feet. He moved his left arm out, and he began to speak, "Well, you see, Razen, some four-hundred and seventy five years ago or so, an ancestor of ours had bested a group of demons all on his lonesome. He was renowned for wearing a mail made of Wind Dragon Scales, and every twenty-five years, a male member of the Veldrin family is to craft a set of this alleged armor to carry on his memory. I know not as to why our ancestor set out on this quest or how he succeeded, but I do my duty to recollect our family's spotlight in history."

I decided to query my father, "Wait...was one of these demons' names Zolkt? Was another of them Ariyzi?"

He looked at me somewhat dumbfounded, "Yes, actually, to both of those. How did you learn this? Who told you, Razen?" A small sense of panic seemed evident in his tone towards the last question.

"Do you promise not to hurt them?" I questioned with innocence overflowing from the question.

My father sighed, "Yes, I promise, Razen, now please quickly tell me who informed you of their names. It is of the utmost importance, you need to understand."

I gulped and continued with responding, and a deep fear and guilt pressed over me, "Zolkt did."

Galvin redoubled his sigh, and had asked to himself aloud, "How did this happen?"

Not knowing he was asking himself, I answered, "Well, when the Pancival took me from the glade to the mountain valleys north of the Sandsea..."

Galvin batted his eyes at me, and stated, "I didn't mean to say that aloud. I already know the answer. ...why didn't I personally see to your safety?" He continued to beat himself up until Iritha walked in, and her blonde hair seemed on its lonesome to be a good omen.

She spoke her words with a great deal of grace, "Galvin, you shouldn't beat yourself for actions that you had no control over. Besides, you had to get those Scales for the entire honor of our family, and we still have our dear little Razen home! Isn't that truly wondrous?"

"You're right, dear," Galvin sighed once more, "I suppose that the events which have transpired cannot be helped now." He glanced once more at me, and his solemn eyes filled my heart with fear.

< Message edited by Razen -- 7/4/2016 22:20:16 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 6
1/15/2013 20:43:57   

Chapter 6: Before the Next Sunrise

Days had passed since my last conversation with my father, and he often spend the time of these days crafting the Wind Dragon Scales into armor. Eventually, he had completed it, and the completed product was akin to a metal set of scale-mail. In this case, the scales were of a more literal sense. The scales turned to a sandstone color, rather than a gray, after being polished. Unfortunately, the scales bore a similarity to metal in that they would glimmer and reflect light if hit by such rays. Galvin had it placed in a display space on a mahogany stand. It was to remain reserved there until the day came that any of us would have to arm ourselves with such equipment.

Galvin, pleased at his success, entered the living room. Illoz rested on the couch, and his arms slung over a nearby stand. Rifroz was still lying out on the table. His legs were healing slowly, though Zazaith's concoction sped the process. I was toying with the Lightning Giant's strained arms. He looked towards me, and he announced, "Razen, I'm finished with the armor, so I believe you know what it is time for now." I simply gazed up towards his face, for I feared to say anything to him after the last conversation we had. He continued on, "Well, I will take that as a yes. Nonetheless, it is due time for you to begin undertaking the traditional Veldrin training."

"Traditional? But Zaz' didn't do it, did he?" I asked him with a curious tone.

"Well...Zaz' is different, Razen," Galvin began, "You see, Zaz' has decided to undertake the path of a mage, which exempts him from the training."

"Okay then..." I responded submissively.

"Alright-y then! Let's get started!" my father had seemed to recover from our last discussion, and he possibly had even forgotten of who I said taught me on some of the Demons' names. He lead me out through our front door, which bore ashes bizarrely. Galvin continued his stride until we reached a safe clearing of DoomWood, and anyone who heard of such a thing could confirm that such was quite a rarity. The glade had many wooden archery targets placed, and the area had many trees fit for climbing up them.

"Well, here's the old training spot for the beginning at least," Galvin declared, "We'll just start with stringing a bow though, as there's no need to speed through this and leave you injured." His tone of sympathy for me came as somewhat of a surprise, as Galvin was more often than not away from home on his jobs. In his absence, my mother raised me and my siblings, and it was quite a drain on her. "Wait, I didn't get an unstrung bow for you to string," Galvin quickly stated, "Let me just go get that!" He ran off as soon as the last words left his lips.

My father returned in his still crisp studded leather armor, and he grasped an unstrung bow, which was of a smaller variety than the common longbow, as well as a bowstring and stringer in his hands. He quickly handed both of them to me. He spoke in quick segments, as he sprinted to get the items, "Here you go, Razen. Just figure it out, it can't be that hard." He now stood there and waited for me to begin assembling the bow together.

Now I simply sat there with the unstrung bow, stringer, and the string in my hands. I fumbled them around at first, and my father took notice to my incompetence in the matter. He sighed and began, "Let me show you how to string it..." He took the unstrung bow, stringer, and string from me. He took the string and fitted it over the top end and about a fourth on the bottom. He twisted the string a number of times, and it faced the inside of bow. He took the pouch end of the bow and pushed the pouch onto the bottom limb. This trapped the string into position. He continued by looping the 'saddle' end of bow stringer over the top limb. He slid the bowstring up as far as he could with the 'saddle' rested slightly below it. He flexed the bow and examined it to verify its sturdiness.

He looked at me and said, "Now, Razen, do you think you can do what I just did? Come on, just repeat 'em...it's as easy as pie!" He reversed the prior process and unstrung the bow in an orderly fashion, as if he were drilled into doing it(Which honestly doesn't seem unlikely). He once more handed the pieces of the bow to me, and I fiddled with them somewhat. As I attempted to string the bow, I constantly tried to recollect the exact motions in my mind, but they had some manner of flaw or inaccuracy that became prevalent in my actions. My father now stood vigilant for any errors that I made in the process, and he duly corrected them.

He took the strung bow from me once I finished, and he thoroughly examined it. "Hmm, not too bad for your first try," Galvin announced when the bow was strung, "Not particularly good for a Veldrin though, to be honest. Nonetheless, you need to improve on pushing the pouch onto the bottom limb to secure the string for the most part. You need to keep the string in place, at least, if you want to hit anything. Now, Razen unfasten the bow." He returned the projectile based weapon to my hands.

Keeping his words in my mind, I began to reverse the process. I switched the looping of the 'saddle' and pulled it off from the bottom limb. I pulled the pouch from the bottom limb, unleashing the string. With the cord free, I undid the loops that it had around the bow's limb, and then I simply pulled it off from the limb. The process came to me far more naturally than stringing the bow; I had done it with a degree of grace.

"Hmm, you're much better at dismantling a secured bow," Galvin stated, "I can't say that I know why that'd be, but I'll take it. How about we call it done for now? We can return to this in a hour, and then it'll be around another hour before nightfall."

Bazrir sat once more upon his Sunspike mount, and the dreary desert surrounding them bored Bazrir. Szayan entered a conversation with Bazrir telepathically, "So, how are you doing, Bazrir? It's been some time since I've talked with you."

"I still await the return of my Jalise, Szayan," Bazrir answered, and his anger washed over any previous grief or impatience that would've been present in the answer.

"Oh, of course, it has been quite some time," Szayan responded, "Well, worry not, Bazrir, for when I need to find Sek-Duat's spell, at least, if I recall correctly, the scroll which you need shall be found."

"Once she was everything to me, and now I hunger only revenge against time and death," Bazrir ranted, "I wish to see her return to my arms against all odds, and I will have it! After nearly five hundred years...I shall not be denied the resurrection of my beloved, not this time!"

"Your raving does not fall upon deaf ears, Bazrir," Szayan quickly defended himself, "If it wasn't for Kyrei Veldrin, then we would've been able to accomplish all of this much quicker, so you best save your revenge for the Veldrins. Not Razen though, from what I've heard. Ariyzi says that Zolkt claims him to be... Well, he's out of the picture so to speak. Zolkt made certain that he agreed to not come after us or any of the others in Myodei's party."

"Revenge against the Veldrins? You misunderstand me; I only want Jalise back, Szayan. What Veldrins remain though?" Bazrir queried Szayan.

"Hmm, I believe that there's Galvin, Iritha, Zazaith, and Azaila," Szayan tried to answer Bazrir's question with haste, "Though, Myodei would remember. Myodei's the one who keeps the tabs, but regardless, we need to continue riding. We must get to the Yagas' Circle in Doomwood."

"Are you certain that going through the desert is a better option than the mountain valleys to the North and looping around?" Bazrir asked another question.

"Some ancient Lorian geometry specialist or philosopher once said that the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line," Szayan mocked the lich. Bazrir made no remark to which, and he pulled the reins on the Sunspike. It bolted forth, and its talons would've sliced apart anything in their path. The seemingly never-ending dunes of sand surrounded the mounted Bazrir, and the piles of grains stacked upon each other gave flight at the request of the wind. The occasional cacti or dry bushes were passed, but for the most part, nothing on the ground that they passed seem of much interest.

In the skies above them, there was a matured Hudson's Hawk. The bird was revered as a deity by the older inhabitants of the Sandsea, with Sand Elves being among the highest in these thoughts. Despite this high standard set for the bird, it was also renown for feasting on human flesh, and it was known to have a particular liking to the face. The hawk bore emerald eyes and sandy gray feathers. The tufts on the body of the bird had some tints and even some tinges of white. Its beak was the color of charcoal, as could be seen whenever it squawked.

It continued to fly in circles above Bazrir, as if it were a vulture or some other avian scavenger. The Sunspike hissed at the flying hawk with a great ferocity, which was to be expected as reptiles are not exactly fond of birds. Bazrir pulled the reins roughly as to get the message across to the Sunspike to focus on getting to Doomwood. The mount's spiked tail returned to swaying behind it, as it lost focus on the hawk and forgot about it. The light lich neared the numerous, sprawling sand dunes, but there was something amiss. A sickly green figure rested on the top of one of the dunes and on its back was a large, spanning tattoo that covered a large portion of his upper back.

The creature waved its scaly tail and a faint, rhythmic hiss could be heard in the background. The sound vibrated against all the teeth in its maw, more specifically its single set of fangs. Its sickly yellow eyes looked lazily around it, as the monster let the last hours of Solaris's heat bear down upon it. Its claws dug into the grains of the dune, and it protected part of the dune together from the wind. It seemed angered at the squawks of the hawk, much like the Sunspike earlier. As it slowly rose from its relaxation, the hawk flew away from Bazrir and towards the Venomking, as the people of the Sandsea call them.

The Hudson's Hawk's talons stretched out, as the bird swooped down towards the humanoid snake's head. The arms of the Venomking were positioned to cast a poisonous spell. The claws of the hawk dug into the reptilian's eyes before it could finish casting though. The talons now began to move about inside of the Venomking's skull, tearing the insides of its head apart. The scaly torso drooped down and fell onto the dune, and the part on which he descended gave way to his weight. The corpse tumbled down the pile of sand, and he brought down a great deal of the sand which made the dune. It had eventually hit the ground before Bazrir and stopped, but the sand that followed his descent washed over the remains.

The Sunspike became infuriated and set its attention onto the Hudson's Hawk once more. It swiped its claws futilely towards the sky, and it truly hoped that the hawk would fly down into its talons. The hawk flew away though, likely to look for food elsewhere. With the distraction out of the way, Bazrir pulled the Sunspike's reins to urge it to resume its stride. As the dunes of sand began to fade and small batches of grass began to appear. Mountains were to Bazrir's left and right, and a raging river spawned before him. Its waters split Doomwood and the Sandsea, and a wooden bridge was hung high above its rapids.

The mount slowly marched onto the planks of the bridge. The boards creaked as it made its way across, and an occasional splinter fell into the river. Before the two now was Doomwood, one of the cursed forests of Lore. Doomwood was known to be besieged with Undead of all varieties. The Yaga, akin to witches, made their home here for the solitude from others who disdain their practices, yet despite this, the Yaga live near Amityvale, the home of the Guardian Tower protecting the Darkness Orb. In Amityvale, rumors had spread that Tuesday's family had some connection to the Vampires of Doomwood, though to trust everything told to you in Doomwood is beyond foolish.

The dark pines of Doomwood started to surpass the grass, and they soon enveloped the road around Bazrir. The clanking of Guardian armor could be heard in the distance, likely there were some on patrol. Their light metal and yellow trimmed armor was easily discernible from the dark shades of the cursed forest, even the sightless skeletons could spot them out. There was a faint sound of scratching as well, which caused the Sunspike to gaze cautiously about to its unfamiliar surroundings. Bazrir petted the forehead of his mount to calm it from its uneasy mood. The back of the lich's leather gauntlet met the sand-colored scales of the mount, surprisingly the rough motion did relax the Sunspike.

As the Sunspike redoubled its stride, the chanting of the Yaga Sisters could be heard. They were likely attempting to summon some eldritch monstrosity or a demonic entity from Heck. The groans of the Sandwitch could be heard in the others' hymn, for she was against their vile actions. It wasn't long before Osnero was shouting at the Sandwitch for breaking their concentration, so Bazrir presumed that their incantation failed.

The light lich and Sunspike finally came upon the Yaga Stone Circle. Red markings glowed from the stone pillars that comprised the Circle and the entrance. Osnero was still ranting at the Sandwitch, and she continued to do so until the Yagas noticed Bazrir mounted upon his Sunspike. They gazed in confusion at the desert reptilian, as they never had seen one in their life. It wasn't long before they turned their attention to its rider, and Osnero asked, "And who might you be?"

"I bring an offer to the table, so I'm a benefactor, if you must know," Bazrir answered, "Though, I'll let Szayan set the terms." The radiant being released himself from the Sunstone once more, and multiple trails of wild light shot off from him. He configured a body for himself again, and he repeated the action with the same incredible speed.

The luminous stretched and began, "Ah, Osnero, well, allow me to explain, if I recall correctly, you and your sisters have a spell for true eternal life, do you not?"

The Yaga responded bitterly, "That we do, Demon of the Light Plane, but what makes you think that we'll give it to you?"

Szayan was quick to counter, "I'd imagine that Sek-Duat III of the Sandsea likely wants a certain Yaga to hold the spell for safekeeping, and I recall that you and a majority of your sisters aren't fond of the Sandwitch."

Osnero gave Szayan a grimace and replied, "You know how to get your way, don't you, Light Demon?"

"Myodei wouldn't have as many transactions with me, so I clearly must be somewhat good at this," Szayan mocked the Yaga.

Osnero responded, "I suppose, though it is time to set our terms. What do you offer us for the spell?"

"Well, firstly, I can take the Sandwitch off of your hands," Szayan began, "Aside from that, I believe that we have some scrolls which may pique your interest."

Osnero returned, "Scrolls for new spells? Let me see!"

"Your spell first, I know your kind, Yaga," Szayan stated, "You are not as honorable as I whenever it comes to your word, and this is not to mention that killing you would be a shame. So, please do keep to our agreement." Szayan's flaunting threats around seemed unusual in comparison to his conversation with Sek-Duat III.

"You've made your point, Light Demon," Osnero snapped, and left to get the spell. She returned with a stone slab that bore red, glowing marks that were incantations written in the Yaga language. She quickly handed the slab to the Sandwitch, and she pushed her sister to Szayan. "Here you go, Szayan, here's the spell and the Yaga to keep it!" Osnero exclaimed, "Now give me the spells!" Bazrir held the Sandwitch by her shoulders, as to prevent her from fleeing or something of that nature.

"Oh, good, you have managed to stay true to your promise, I'm impressed, Osnero," Szayan teased the Yaga, "I really think that you've broken a curse." Szayan turned his focus towards Bazrir, "Now, Bazrir, it is time to return to the Sandsea, and then it is back to Mount Shining Star." Once Szayan finished speaking, he dispersed into rays of elemental light once more. The rays disappeared instantaneously into what one could only presume was the Sunstone, and they moved at a speed that seemed akin to that of light from Solaris itself.

After Szayan left, Bazrir took out some scrolls from a slot on his belt, which Szayan had made him carry. He was quick on handing them to Osnero, as the Sandwitch continued struggling to free herself. "Oh, right, you may need a Stun and Forget spell for her," Osnero stated, and she began to motion her hands alongside incantations. It wasn't long before she cast her arm out towards the Sandwitch, who responded by falling into a state of unconsciousness. Bazrir slapped her body over the Sunspike, and the mount's scales already began to bite into her raggedy, dirty robes.

"And she'll remember none of this exchange?" Bazrir queried.

"Nothing, it's a Yaga Secret," Osnero answered, "How do you think that we ever managed to cast a spell before with her breaking her concentration?"

"I see," Bazrir chuckled very lightly, "Then simply tell her what? That you and your sisters cast her out for not being wicked?"

"Yes," Osnero replied.

Bazrir took a trip back to the Sandsea, with far less points of interest than his prior trip. The light lich eventually came upon a deep cave with some vines hanging down upon entry. Some pieces of plant life emerged inside of the cavern, red flowers bursting from the walls of the hollow. A small mage's shelter seemed to have been made in the end of the grotto by someone. Bazrir grabbed the Sandwitch's dirty robes and rested the witch upon a bedroll that was already in the cave.

The Sandwitch had begun to awaken, and she asked, "How did I get here, stranger?"

"Hmm, well, you see," Bazrir began, "I was passing through in Doomwood when your sisters threatened to kill me if I didn't carry you to the Sandsea. So, here we are, and you've been cast out. Though, I have important business to attend to, as I suppose you could understand..."

"It's all okay, stranger," The Sandwitch responded, "I always despised my sisters, so I hope to appreciate this solitude. Therefore, I thank you for taking the duty of removing me from their company, even if it means that they're more free to bring about wrongdoings. So, the Sandwitch will not think fowl of you."

Zynaer walked into the entrance of Mount Shining Star in the Elemental Foothills, and the heated rocks surrounding the blazing being began to cool. Bazrir followed behind, as his undead nature made the drops in body temperature have minimal consequences. The royal yellow clothes which garbed Bazrir were not as resistant to the flames of Zynaer, so the edges and trim of his robes and scarf were scorched somewhat. The burns left a layer of black soot over the regions which it marked, and this caused Bazrir to have an odd appearance of an amalgamation of charcoal stains and regal attire. The beak of his hawk mask was entirely enveloped in the ash; coal had sparsely covered the rest of the mask.

The occasional veins of lava hardened in Zynaer's presence, and Myodei took heed to the slow cooling of the mountain. "Ah, and that would be Zynaer," Myodei announced, "You came just in the nick of time, it was starting to really burn up in here. To be expected, I suppose, at least, when one considers the lava in this volcano."

"I bring Bazrir with me, hopefully with good news on the deal with Sek-Duat," Zynaer loudly responded to Myodei. Bazrir had stopped his stroll and took heed to the unusual rowdiness of Myodei's group. The ignited humanoid then noticed that the lich had ceased to follow him, but the fiery demon soon disregarded it almost as soon as he noticed it.

Inside of Bazrir's mind, there was the words of Szayan that echoed, "Bazrir, mind explaining how you know of that abandoned Mage's cave?"

The light lich wasn't exactly comfortable with the telepathic intrusions, but he answered nonetheless, "It...well, it was my hermitage prior to meeting you and Myodei, Szayan. It was there that I had come to embrace lichdom, which had garnered your attention...leading us to our current ordeal."

"Is that all? I was hoping that it would be a little more interesting than that," Szayan stated disappointed, "Would you at least explain how you came upon the cavern and decided to take shelter there, out of all places?"

"Oh, that...well, that's a much better story," Bazrir began, "You see, prior to Sek-Duat I's ascension to the throne, the Sandsea was home to many shamanistic people, therefore I had hoped one of the Sand Elf tribes, native to the region, would be able to assist me in finding a way to bring back Jalise, or extend my own life as to find a way to resurrect her permanently on my own accord."

"Really now?" Szayan queried, "For I recall stumbling upon you in the Skraeling Desert, not the Sandsea. Granted, it has been some odd half of a millennium, so my memory of the moment likely isn't the best."

"No, no, you're right," Bazrir responded, "I was indeed in the Skraeling Desert when we first came into acquaintance with one another. That was just a few days after I had come to terms with lichdom, which was actually why I went there. I wanted to be away for a bit...I needed to be. I couldn't sit and continue to gaze at my work in the painful agony that I felt; the horror which I had brought onto myself, all to see Jalise back in my arms. I had originally thought it'd take a year or two at most, though it has been around five centuries. Despite this, the thoughts continue to haunt me, at least, the vague remnants of what remains of them do. My mind is consistently struck with regret..."

"Hmm, Bazrir, did I ever ask you this riddle," Szayan seemed to drift off-topic, "What can change the nature of a man?"

"No, you haven't asked me this before," Bazrir replied, "I'll give a shot though." The light lich pondered immensely on the colossal depth of the question, and his memories flew all about his mind. Scenes of love, hatred, regret, death, and many others appeared before him. Only one of them stuck out more so than the others, so Bazrir stated, "Regrets, regrets can change the nature of a man."

"Good answer," Szayan spoke calmly, "But I must digress. Tell Myodei of our arrangement with Sek-Duat, also mention that we have the spell safe in the Sandsea." Zynaer looked back once again, only to find Bazrir a good deal behind him.

Zynaer announced, "Are you coming, Bazrir? I'm quite far past you, and I don't believe that lava will only scar your clothing."

"Oh, yes," Bazrir quickly answered, "I was...just talking to Szayan was all." Zynaer didn't vocally respond, instead he simply nodded and descended further into the volcano. A nearby fountain was erupting volcanic liquid, igniting the otherwise dark space with red shimmers of faint light. Cinders bit into a nearby oaken door, and a skull symbol that was fashioned into the center of the gateway had its eyes ignite with blazes. The area in which Myodei, Ariyzi, Dyjhal, Vyrdae, and Veqwei stood or sat was their temporary abode and study. Myodei appeared to be reading, and Dyjhal was skimming through his book, On Psionic Life, once more.

"Dyjhal, how long have you been rereading the same words over and over again?" Veqwei asked the static being.

Dyjhal at most was mildly annoyed by the question and answered, "I began my comprehension of the work in the beginning of our imprisonment."

"So, five hundred years, give or take?" Veqwei queried.

"That would be correct," Dyjhal stated, "Regardless, I need to make certain that I know the context of the words in this work. I must know the meaning of the entirety of the book to know the process, thoughts, and perspective of Psionic Life. It's all done to know more, perhaps even to come to know myself."

"I suppose that would answer as to why you were reading the texts religiously," Vyrdae mocked.

"I would not suggest for you to mock how much I know on this tome, Vyrdae," Dyjhal began, "For, you see, I know the meaning of every word utilized by the author, and I even know the book in its entirety. If the book did not know itself, meaning that its texts would be a garbled mess constantly shifting, then I equally could not know the entirety of the work. I could not know its purpose, so it would then be flawed. Much comes from knowing, more than you can imagine."

"That is enough, you two," Myodei declared, "As if it isn't bad enough that you've disrupted my reading upon the planes with your bickering, now you delay the news of Bazrir and Zynaer."

"Our apologies, Myodei," The two demons spoke in harmony. The light lich and blazing figure entered the space, and the six others in the room looked upon them with curiosity to what they had to say.

Bazrir began first, "Well...Szayan and I were able to get an arrangement in order with Sek-Duat, and we have already fulfilled our end of the exchange. This means that we have open access to all of Sek-Duat's libraries, as well as free call for an audience with the Emperor of the Sands himself. All of which we will utilize to our advantage, for I doubt that Sek-Duat knows of the requirements of the spell which we have gifted to him indirectly, but safely, in the Sandsea within a cavern with the Sandwitch guarding it. Now, Zynaer, would you mind to tell us of what happened in the tundras to the north?"

Zynaer knew that it was his turn to speak, and done so, "Ah, well, in the Frozen Northlands, I was met by a Zarlath, Bubble Elemental, and Adalon. I had incinerated the Zarlath after freezing the Bubble Elemental. The Adalon had fled to somewhere of which I do not know, for the portal that he used to escape shut as soon as he entered it. I suspect that it was either the Plane of Light, Ice, or Aloria."

Myodei now looked towards Zynaer, who clearly piqued his interest. "Aloria, you say, Zynaer?" Myodei queried calmly and continued, "This, this is interesting. And to you, Bazrir, you've done well, if not beyond necessary, with Sek-Duat. We will likely be spending a good deal of time in his presence, where he can protect us. His audience shall be valuable knowledge to add our to research...perhaps it will not be too long until my party may leave Lore to enjoy a new realm...a new plane, preferably one without humans. My apologies if I have offended you, Bazrir."

"It is unnecessary," Bazrir replied, "You have explained your case to me before, and I still remember it. All of you were abused and beaten by the humans of old...they were unable...to cope with your group's differences to the elementals which openly obeyed their beckon at their Lords' will. They could not come to terms with Elemental Demons."

I sat in the clearing, and the silvery moonlight illuminated the glade. A silhouette flew into view and blocked the light of the waning gibbous moon. The shadow looked like a Theemis, so I presumed that it was Zayn. Though, I pondered why he would be here, especially at this late hour. The sound of mail hitting against itself could be heard, so I called out, "Zayn, is that you?"

"Oh, it's you, Razen," Zayn's voice could be heard, "I'm glad to see you, actually." The wings of the Theemis fluttered, and he descended unto the ground below. His talons stabbed through the blades of glass that were beneath his feet. His wings stopped behind him and returned to their normal position. The symbol upon the cloth in the midst of his mail now glowed with a gray light, and it resembled a tornado passing through an empty space. Something was off-key with it though, as there were signs of personification to it, like eyes, a mouth, among other body parts.

"Zayn, I have two questions," I stated.

"Ask away, Razen," Zayn replied.

"Okay," I began, "Firstly, who or what is that symbol on your clothing meant to represent. Secondly, why are you here?"

Zayn looked at me awkwardly, shocked by the important questions I asked. He answered, "The symbol which I bear is that of Ariyzi, or he who converses with the wind. As for why I'm here, well, I've taking a liking to you, so I decided that I should teach you how to be stealthy. It's...true to the Veldrin way." His hair flickered at the last part, which implied that Zayn likely winked.

"You wish to teach me?" I gazed with surprised eyes at the avian.

"Yes, yes, I do," Zayn responded, "Though, the better question is: Do you wish to learn the arts of stealth as well as infiltration and disguise? I'll...be unable to teach the latter half, due to...difficulties on that associated to race. I'll have to send you to someone else or bring Zolkt here for that. Regardless, let us begin. Do you see that bush over there?" He pointed to a large shrub off some odd fifty yards and continued, "Behind there is a creature which doesn't know of your presence yet, an undead to be exact. Undead, fortunately, happen to have generally bad perception skills due to their lack of sensory organs. So, let's see if you can sneak past the blind, deaf oaf. Oh, but be careful nonetheless."

I cautiously crawled to towards the bush and the shambling skeleton behind it. The creaking of the Shoulder Blades's joints and the clank of its axe were shrilling, deafening even. Its double-sided axe held in its left hand, as it walked about aimlessly. I curved to the right of it and used the natural environment for cover. The nigh senseless Undead could not make out the origin of my faint footsteps. It could tell that something was moving though, as I had crunched a few leaves while I was making my way about.

The undead eventually charged towards my direction, and it flailed its axe about without any sense of thought. I was able to quickly maneuver myself out of its rampage, and the axe bit into the bark of one of the pine trees. It actually dug the blade in quite deep and found the axe to be stuck within the tree. The Undead now stood there still holding the handle of its axe, confused as to why it was unable to pull itself from the tree. As I scampered away, Zayn flew into the sky above and examined the scene thoroughly.

The Theemis saw that the Undead would be unable to pull the axe from the bark of the pine anytime soon, so he descended down Razen and tried to remain silent as he had done so. His turquoise pauldrons followed the motions of his shoulders, and his wings fluttered through the night sky once more. His feet grasped onto a branch, and leaves began falling from the tree. It seemed that crows were flying off from the tree and made their usual squawking noises. On closer examination, I could see that the black birds were held by strings and that the squawks were coming from the tree itself.

Zayn kicked the bark of the tree, and a Dwarf crawled out from a hole that he had made. The crows fell to the ground and the strings with them. The Dwarf raised himself up and wiped some dust off of himself. He looked rather disgruntled, likely due to being forced out of his hiding spot. The Dwarf wore camouflaged clothing and had a great deal of trinkets upon him, only lock-picks seemed to be discernible out of them though. He wore dark goggles over his forehead, holding his dark, brown hair back, which was a unkempt mess. He(like the stereotypical Dwarf) had a magnificent beard, rings of dull metal holding its shape, as the facial hair descended down to his stomach.

"Oh, Medlag, you're here," Zayn stated, "I truly thought that you weren't going to come...then I would've had to have Zolkt or someone else entirely train Razen on the use of disguise."

He introduced himself, "I have indeed arrived, but thank you for ruining my planned entrance, Zayn. Nonetheless, greetings, I'm Medlag Light-Footed. I am a master of Dwarven disguise, which is a true oddity among Dwarves."

"You're a master of Dwarven disguise, why don't you use mechanical crows instead of paper ones then?" I queried the Dwarf after Zayn.

"Well, that's a funny story," Medlag began, "You see, I did use mechanical birds from Popsprocket once before. I only got to use them once, for when I sent them flying...well, one of them spontaneously exploded. They weren't that good anyways though, they made incredibly loud noises, like an immense flying contraption speeding through the skies. They just made it more difficult to disguise myself."

"We see," Zayn responded, "Now, Medlag, are you willing to teach Razen in the ways of disguise, subterfuge, and infiltration?"

"Oh, of course," Medlag answered, "The kid seems like he already has some gist of it already, considering the question he had just asked."

The night was filled with attempts of me disguising myself among the forest, and the months after continued my training on archery, stealth, and disguise. The training took its tolls on my body, so on my off-time Medlag and Zayn had gotten very familiar with me. Medlag proved an interesting fellow and said that he lived in Gorraran, one of the Dwarven cities beneath the surface. How he spoke of the city, it sounded more like a drunkard's fortress and a trading center among Dwarves.

< Message edited by Razen -- 9/1/2013 16:48:32 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 7
1/27/2013 22:53:16   

Chapter 7: Solaris Dawns Anew and so the Journey Begins

Myodei, in elegant, light grey robes with a light turquoise trim, floated above the glacial permafrost beneath him. A set of frigid, disfigured horns burst from beneath his hood. Ice formed an outward collar that gracefully wrapped itself around his arms and neck and covered his shoulders. If he hadn't wore a hood, then one would be able to see his face. Down his torso, there was a cloth sash, and it was held with a crystal buckle. As he levitated above the frozen ground, one could see his clawed feet or boots, as the robes made it difficult to figure which of the two it was. Arctic crystals made his hands, and even with the arms of the robes in the way, it was noticeable that the frigid substance wrapped around his forearms.

Zynaer was beside him, and it was now able to be seen that he wore a horned mask and clawed pauldrons. Attached to his wrists and ankles, there were golden rings with outward crests. He too floated above the frigid iceberg that rested above the city of Tjeli, the place of birth of The'Galin. Many millenniums ago, The'Galin himself had torn it from its own continent of Inilar into the deeps of the southern oceans to rest beneath immense layers of ice. It was now left to solitude, and its only residents were the ghosts of the townspeople, forever bound to guard the cursed city.

Neither of these intimidated the duo, Zynaer was more than a match for the frigid covering. The phantasms would not bother them within the city, despite what one would think. The unsympathetic voice of Myodei broke the silence of the entire surrounding region, "Are you ready to enter the birthplace of the Devourer, Zynaer?" A smirk showed itself for a mere second underneath the icy demon's hood after he spoke the words.

"I am indeed; shall I lift the icy barrier from the corrupt city?" Zynaer asked the contemplating, frigid being.

Myodei answered, "Yes, please begin the melting of the obstacle in our pair of knowledge...Dyjhal would be ecstatic at my choice of words, perhaps I will tell him of our venture when we go to Talados." Zynaer nodded with no verbal response, and his arms motioned downward. His palms summoned forth an inferno in the shape of a tornado that clashed with the frozen terrain. The blazes bit into the permafrost. There had now appeared to be a breach at least twenty feet deep into the barrier surrounding Tjeli, and the chasm's overflow of water burst out from the shaft only to freeze once more almost instantaneously out in every direction outward from the depression.

The faint screams of distant revenants of the denizens of Tjeli could be heard, but Zynaer continued to melt the glacial barricade. The sounds of their cries were drowned out by the clamor of storms of fireballs crashing into the ice which continued to give way to the multitudes of conflagrations. The depression grew larger in size and drove further down into the barrier. The ice surrounding the chasm continued to grow in size as well, as the lone obstacle to entering the birthplace of The'Galin began to open up for Zynaer and Myodei.

Zynaer and Myodei descended into the crater that the former had just made, and the distorted image of Tjeli could be made out. The fiery demon did not cease his volley of blazes and infernos of flame, and he continued the onslaught upon the frigid obstacle. The spectral figures shifted through the refracted image in an unearthly way, flickering to and fro. Myodei gazed at the immense, ancient capital of Inilar, focused on the architecture that resembled nothing Myodei had ever seen before. He was unable to truly describe it in detail, for the memories escaped his mind.

It wasn't too long before the two had broken through the entirety of the icy barrier. The spectres rushed towards the new opening from their prison, ignoring the visitors. The light grey figures bore clawed hands and misty bodies. Their forms were unstable and constantly shifting, and the smoke which comprised them floated off into a new direction every few seconds. As the ghosts neared Myodei and Zynaer, their arms fell to the ground. They seemed to have calmed themselves beyond all reason. Their claws dissipated. Hands formed out of the foggy substance.

"It's always amusing to watch a group of stampeding creatures coming towards you, then see them calm down to complacence within a mere inches of you," Zynaer announced and chuckled lightly.

"I suppose it is, Zynaer," Myodei replied, "But we haven't the time to gawk at them in their calm state. It's of the utmost importance that we obtain the notes and books that we desire in haste...for to garner the attention of The'Galin is beyond foolish. So, let us go, Zynaer. We must find Tjeli's library."

At the end of Myodei's words, the sound of an organ erupted inside the buried city. The origins of the outburst were from the Sanctum of Lorithia, a falsity under which the clergy extorted valuables from the people of Tjeli and Inilar. The bioethicists of Tjeli supported the religious establishment for it brought an immense supply of money to Tjeli's coffers and brought an immense esteem to the vile people that the capital birthed. With this view of a good citizen, The'Galin was regarded as a failure, for he was one of the few kindhearted natives of Tjeli.

The organ broke the concentration of the wraiths, and their numbers dissipated into various parts of the numerous streets surrounding Myodei and Zynaer. The two gazed about at the city, and they tried to decipher where the library of the city would be located. Myodei scrutinized the region and concluded that it must be to their right towards the Palace of Galian the Virulent, nicknamed such for the horrific conditions of the state during his rule. The organist continued to play his tune, almost as if to cue the entrance of an armored antagonist or an epic finale.

The armored figures of palace guard became more frequent, and Myodei presumed that the edifice they were nearing was truly the cathedral itself. Why he had come to this conclusion was simple, for the sounds of the organ continued to increase in volume, almost enough to shatter glass. A choir of screaming banshees joined the spectral organist, and they broke from the prior song into a far more deathly tune as well as being an octave higher. The music continued to grow in dissonance. The hymn lacked any sense of harmony, for the harsh notes scratched into Myodei and Zynaer's ears with no rhythm or pattern.

The two elemental entities continued their levitation though, for they were to endure the torturous song if they desired the information that they sought. Zynaer ignited the oaken doors to the temple which cindered into merely ashes within seconds. The ensemble was awestruck at the arrival of Myodei and Zynaer, vanishing through cracks in the stained glass portrayal of Lauren, the manifestation of Lorithia. The original piece had been commissioned by The'Galin himself, so that a copy found itself in Tjeli seemed most peculiar.

"Look for anything relevant to the traversing of the Planes, Zynaer," Myodei remained calm in his speech.

"I understand, Myodei," Zynaer answered, "It's not as though I haven't been in your company for nearly a thousand years now. I am rather certain by this point that I can comprehend what we are searching for, don't you?"

"You take too much offense, Zynaer," Myodei replied, moving towards a pile of papers, all music sheets. None of them piqued Myodei's interest, so he made his way into another room of the sanctuary. In which, there were broken bookshelves and tattered books all across the floor, likely shaken by when The'Galin threw Tjeli into its current position. Upon on of the leather covers of the innumerable books on the ground, there was a tome named, "To Transverse Planes". The work lacked a labeled author, so he likely didn't wish for anyone to know who wrote the opus.

Myodei reached for the remnants of the tome, and his freezing hands harmlessly made of a cracking sound as they neared the work. His finger fingers clasped unto the shredded remains of the book, and brought it into his arms. "Zynaer, I've found one relevant piece so far," Myodei began, "How goes it on your end of the search?"

"Less luck than you, it would seem," Zynaer answered, and he continued with a jest, "Perhaps my fiery nature dissuades the tomes from revealing themselves to me?"

"I see, well, perhaps this single work may suffice," Myodei responded, "For we need to leave this accursed city. We cannot afford to catch the eye of The'Galin."

"Quite," Zynaer replied, "So shall you close the entrance which we made?"

"Of course," Myodei returned, "Your ability would take hours to entrap Tjeli in its icy prison. My control of ice magic, on the other hand, would take minutes at worst."

At the end of Myodei's words, they returned to the chasm that they created in the glacial casing over the ancient capital of Inilar. None of the wraiths had returned to the location, despite their desire to abandon the damned city that was their home. "With any luck, nothing except us and the tome which we take with us will have escaped this blighted domain," Myodei spoke coldly, "Otherwise, we will have to handle the phantoms on our own accord. Bah, let us not tarry here any longer, it is time for us to withdraw from this confounded capital."

The two demons rose higher from the ground, and they entered the chasm which Zynaer made. Once they had levitated past the opening into Tjeli, Myodei began to reseal the city in its icy prison. The wraiths returned to see their exit from their cage was being locked once more, and they lashed out at the frigid barrier that Myodei was repairing. Their misty claws proved futile to the glacial covering, for the mere scratches were unable to break through any of the frozen substance.

Zynaer exited the now enclosed abyss first. Myodei followed the fiery demon's exit, after the icy entity had finished the restoration of the antarctic barricade. Myodei spoke, "Well, I would presume that we didn't attract the Devourer's attention. This, this is most certainly for the best, to bring The'Galin back to the memories of Tjeli would be disastrous, since I prefer Lore not being utterly destroyed. I digress, let us return to Sek-Duat's Palace, and then it is time to venture forth to Talados with Dyjhal. He's far better at dealing with the Psionics than us."

"Merely because he understands them, Myodei," Zynaer replied, and the ignited figure with his golden anklets and bracelets drifted northward. Myodei followed suit for once.

I sat at a table in the dining room, and I was lost in thought. It had been around twelve years since I had encountered Zolkt for the first time, in that time night had reigned and then quickly gave way to the unrelenting rule of Solaris. Galvin rested upon a couch in the living room, and he was recovering from an injury from a Krakhim. The wound in question was a shattered forearm that resulted from a boulder being thrown at him before he could dodge it. Zazaith had left a few weeks ago for the Sandsea to seek an apprenticeship as a Mage in Sek-Duat's Court. Azaila was much more akin to me than my older brother, though Zayn and Medlag refused to help her.

I piddled my thumbs against one another while I stared at my minuscule fingernails. My royal purple attire was made of satin, laced with silvery thread, and it was trimmed with a thin wash of gold. My hair was tied back into a ponytail, otherwise it would fall to my shoulders in the back and the bottom of my ears on my bangs. The ends of my shirt's arms were puffed out and cuffed. The cuffs being made of white linen, which was held together by a small group of steel buttons.

I shifted my gaze as someone else entered the room. It was my sister, Azaila, who was garbed in a modest dress. Her garb was a dark blue while the trim was a vivid violet. Her hair retained a look of a light brown, so one could understand that there were tinges of blonde within the strands. She looked at me with her hazel eyes and asked, "So, now that Medlag's left for Gorraran, what're you planning on doing? Especially with Father being unable to go on any more contracts?"

"I...I don't know, Azaila," I answered honestly, "I truly don't have any idea whatsoever as to what I plan on doing now. I mean, Zayn and Dad were trying to prep me to be a rogue, but where would find themselves such an occupation and be wanted?"

"Well, what about seeing with Zayn about—" Azaila began, but was interrupted.

"No, neither of you will be meeting with that bird-brain anymore, not so long as you remain under my roof!" Galvin yelled from the other room, "I will not suffer my children ruining my family's legacy! Not even with my injuries!" This was not the first time that Galvin made statements against Zayn. During the past years, they had become quite common, at least once he learned about me meeting with the Theemis. In fact, he would rant for what seemed to be hours at mentions of his name.

My mother, Iritha, hushed Galvin, "Be quiet, dear, they're adults now, so they can make their own decisions! They don't need their father's pride be a hindrance to their lives!"

"My family's honor is at stake here—" Galvin was cut off by the outburst of his wife.

"It's always about your ancestor's bloody honor!" Iritha shouted, but calmed and continued, "From what I recall of what Razen told me, Kyrei stole the materials, and I want you to tell me how honorable that is." Galvin was speechless at how Iritha defended her children, and he genuinely lacked a response. Iritha made the gestures for Azaila and I to exit the room, for she needed time to calm Galvin down. We obeyed our mother's request and took our leave of the house. It was time to trade words with Zayn on this matter.

The Theemis had heard their bickering and waited a few feet from the door. "So, I presume that Galvin isn't fond of your association with me?" The avian queried me and my sister. His wings rested behind his body Azaila rolled her eyes as Zayn spoke, for she despised Galvin's honor-bound nature. This disdain was not unrequited; Galvin often found himself at odds with Azaila's almost constant breaks from his expectations. My father had also found disappointment in me since I was not quite as apt as him in the art of archery, or any combat style for that matter.

"That'd be an accurate presumption," I answered, "He's furious actually. Even more so whenever I remind him of the pleasant encounter with Zolkt that we had."

"His grudge against Myodei and his party seems unhealthy to me," Zayn responded, "I mean, I can understand a suspicion, due to the ordeal with his ancestor and Myodei. He needs to realize that Kyrei instigated the conflict though. Kyrei was the one that dealt the unjust hand, not Myodei. I doubt that Galvin will ever come to understand, at least Zazaith hasn't found himself bound to defend his ancestry."

"True, Zaz's understanding on the matter is comforting, perhaps me and Azaila can take lodging with him in the Sandsea?" I stated.

"Do I have no opinion in this matter?" Azaila snapped.

"Oh, no, no, it's not that, it's just that you gave no input prior to your outburst there," I took some steps back from Azaila as I spoke, and Zayn followed suit.

As we motioned back, Medlag arrived to the scene. He wore much more elegant clothes than my first meeting with him, likely for the trip to Gorraran. If one had seen him outside of context, one would've thought that he was a member of a Dwarven court. His plump abdomen overshadowed his more fit lower body. His beard had grown in length and whitened in parts, creating a salt and pepper look. The metal rings in his facial hair were exchanged for gold plated ones. His face had come to bear more wrinkles of age and experience. We were shocked by his entrance, and he took advantage of it. He announced, "So, you're all here? Wonderful, wonderful! This means you can all accompany me on my trip home! Oh, don't decline my offer, for you see, it's my obligation! It's Dwarven tradition to invite one's friends on a trip to their hometown, so it'd be a shame if I returned alone!" His bursts of happiness were genuine, at least we presumed such, as he had managed to pull a tankard from Lords-know-where. The flagon being filled over the brim with a fizzy moglinberry juice beverage. He lifted the stein to his lips and took a swig of the drink. Drips of it held onto strands of his beard, giving him a much more sloppy look.

Azaila responded, "You're inviting us to go with you to Gorraran? This is what we should do, Razen! I've always wanted to see a Dwarven city!"

"Well, I admire your wish, lass, for it's a mighty fine one," Medlag stated as he pointed his left hand's index finger at Azaila. He belched and then continued, "You have good taste, for you see, going to a Dwarven city means that you'll likely come upon a Dwarven party! Oh, do I need to even begin on those?"

"No, you don't, Medlag," I answered, "And it would seem settled that we'll accompany you to Gorraran, then we are to attend the welcoming party, I presume?"

"You're implying that I'd give ya the chance to not go, laddie," Medlag jested and he followed up with, "So, what're we waiting for!? Let's get going, laddies! We best not keep a Dwarven party waiting! Right?" The first stop would be the city of Sil which is south of Deep Root, and it hugged the edge of Doomwood. The route would then go around the mountains northeast of Darkovia which were rumored to house the Werewolves of Darkovia. The next pause in their journey would be at Frostvale, home to a number of Frost Moglins. From there, the party would go north of the Dragonspine Mountains and then east to the Dwarfhold Mountains. Medlag would be able to locate Gorraran once they had come to the mountain range; the party were then to join him for a wondrous Dwarven party as a gift for his return to his home.

An aqueous entity rested within one of the elaborate stone chairs at a table of similar material in Sek-Duat's library. The seat was soaked by the being's watery state; the paint eroded under the force of the torrents lashing upon them. The stony armchair also felt cracking from the gushes of water crashing into it as they escaped the humanoid figure. The robes that surrounded the being were drenched and caused the otherwise vivid turquoise to appear at least seven shades darker. A set of metal glasses rested on what one would presume was the creature's earlobes, though it was difficult to know for certain as the body of the individual constantly shifted and reformed itself continuously. It seemed as though the liquid which composed it was endless from an unknown source or no source at all. He wore gloves of an unknown material that managed to hold his hands stable to a degree; he likely donned them to keep from destroying any of Sek-Duat's tomes.

The Emperor of the Sandsea rested in a personal armchair that was headed by his heraldic symbol of the winged scarab. His golden gauntlets held onto the aged, leather cover of a work, titled Creation of a Sub-Plane. The book detailed the processes of dividing a plane into individual segments that exist with little dependence on its home plane. These things did not interest the ruler, but they were of the utmost importance to his guests which graced him with a wealth of knowledge. In response to this gift, he felt obligated to return the favor and assist them in their research in any way that he could. Sek-Duat was made uneasy by the appearance of his guests, and it was particularly difficult when it came to having to explain to his servants as to why an entity made of their most desired substance was to be left to his own accord.

"Veqwei, if you don't mind," Sek-Duat broke the silence, "May I ask you a favor as well as a query to satiate myself?" His golden mask covered his decaying face while he spoke the words. He placed the book that he was reading down and looked at the anomalous creature.

Veqwei, in turn, diverted his gaze from the tome that piqued his interest to answer Sek-Duat. The waves swished behind his glasses, and his right glove held onto the page which he was reading to prevent him from losing track of his place in the work. Veqwei continued to peer into the cyan eye-holes of the golden mask with an indiscernible expression that the Emperor of the Sands presumed was one of appreciation of the ruler's sense of fashion or gratitude for being so helpful in their venture. The moist creature eventually answered him, though the sounds seemed displaced from his body, "Hmm? Oh, ask away, Sek-Duat. I'm rather intrigued as to what would spark your interest anyways. So, I retort, give me your questions. I will then, hopefully, be able to supply you with answers."

After Veqwei finished speaking, he grasped a golden, jeweled chalice with a downward tapering for the handle until it reached the base which extended outwards enough to match the top portion. The goblet intrigued Sek-Duat for the simple reason that it wasn't one of his; this caused him to wonder as to how one such as the watery demon had obtained such a lovely grail. Inside of the cup rested pure water which was similar in composition to what Veqwei was comprised of himself. The waters swirled in the top without any force acting upon it, and whenever some of the liquid slipped out, it hit one of the many blue gemstones, including aquamarines, topazes, turquoises, and zircons.

Sek-Duat returned his focus to Veqwei's response and answered, "Well, firstly, I appreciate having that which I've desired for what would normally be two lifetimes from the work of one of your companions; I do not have a means to actually perform the ritual. So, I wish to ask on your opinion as to how I should accomplish the task of gaining one-hundred true enemies? As for my curiosity, you are a creature made of only water, so I ponder on your origins and nature. Why I'm asking you is because, what better source is there than the entity themselves? Clearly few would understand their being better."

Veqwei responded, "Ah, yes, for the former, I would recommend a gradual cruelty over time to gain enemies among your people. If you manipulate your reign's aggression too quickly, then the people usurping your throne will be your last worry. Since you certainly don't want to be killed and removed from the Light Orb by the Lady of Light's servants, thus I advise that you follow my suggestion, and from there, then you'll be able to gain true immortality, genuine eternal life. As for the latter, such requires a tale; therefore I ask, do you wish to hear it?"

"That's ill advice, on what ground can you beckon for me to betray the people whom I adore and they've return the favor!?" Sek-Duat snapped, "Should I have regretted to help you and companions in such depth? Answer me!" Underneath his golden mask, his decaying lips lost some of their skin as he shouted, for they were unused to such stretches since his turn to lichdom. The sickening noise of this could be clearly heard even beneath the glided guise.

"Calm yourself, Sek-Duat, it must be done if you are to achieve immortality," Veqwei responded, "No other scroll may grant eternal life with such a small consequence, for others require much more sacrifice, Sek-Duat. Understand this, I beg of you, listen to reason. It is the only way." The watery entity held a calm tone as his words echoed throughout the library.

"An age of suffering for my people for them to then receive an eternity of prosperity? By what logic do you propose this despicable idea!?" Sek-Duat continued to bark, for he certainly was not pleased with the suggestion nor its backings.

"It is through enduring agony that one gains strength," Veqwei declared, "And in this new-found strength, society finds peace. It makes sense if one thinks about it."

Sek-Duat sighed, "I suppose that you're right on that it is necessary to perform this ritual, but why can I not instead gain the enemies through war with one of the more barbaric kingdoms, like that of Slugwrath's?"

"Well, the problem with that is that it'd require you to capture one-hundred soldiers with absolute faith against you," Veqwei stated, "And that is far harder than what I am asking you to do. So, I'm sorry that you will have to undergo that which you despise, but it is necessary if you truly long for an endless return to vitality. Remember that " Veqwei continued to converse in a soothing manner as he hoped to keep the emperor from being in a rage.

The Sun King had come to sigh once more, "Well, it...it saddens me that I will have to do such, but I can only hope that time does not take its toll upon me. I do not wish for the people of the Sandsea to be ruled by an insane tyrant. Enough of that though, simply speaking on the matter brings pain to my heart, so how about you tell me instead of your origins? I had asked that as well." The ruler did not lie; the conversation had truly brought injury to his unused heart.

Veqwei rested the gem-covered chalice on the table, and he kept it inches away from the book. He sighed and prepared for a decently lengthy account of his creation. "Alright then, but before I start, Sek-Duat," He began and continued with, "You recall Myodei, do you not? You must recall his features, for he is one of the most relevant characters in this. Secondly, you remember Zynaer, no? That fiery being is regarded later on. Lastly, you know my appearance, so I need not state the obvious. With this settled, the tale shall commence."

He took a pause and spoke once more, "Myodei came upon an ancient goblet blessed by the Water Lord; its waters were said to be endless and pure. These chalices were even claimed to be conduits to the Plane of Water themselves. Quite a rare artifact to come upon, even more so when it was supposedly the last one at the time. The contents of this cup lacked—"

"My apologies for interrupting you, Veqwei, but I simply must ask you, was this cup where you originated from?" Sek-Duat questioned the watery figure.

"Silence your question, I will not to spoil the material in this telling, Sek-Duat, so you must wait," Veqwei stated and returned to his tale, "Now, if you don't mind... The contents of this cup lacked one thing: Life. Myodei noted this when he examined the object and its substances, and he concluded that an entity born from its waters would be equally eternal to the inanimate version. He declared the humanoid golem that was me to be named Veqwei, for the grail had the name engraved on it for reasons unknown to him at the time. Myodei found the reasoning to be fitting for naming me and utilized such. After my creation, Myodei and I spent a number of years attempting to find a means to exit a plane when we came across Zynaer. Zynaer was trapped in a binding circle by two novice pyromancers, one of them being Belrik Veldrin, grandfather of Kyrei Veldrin. Zynaer had killed both of these mages; he had done so by igniting their nerves after I broke him free from his prison. Of course, you must remember that they had tortured him as well as enclosing him into far too small of a space, so his actions were not entirely uncalled for. Allow me to recall the exacts of the event."

"Granted," Sek-Duat answered mockingly.

"Well then, I shall not tarry," Veqwei replied following suit and elaborated on the events with Zynaer, "'Ha, we actually caught this fiery beast in a binding circle!' announced Belrik Veldrin. The other pyromancer replied, 'How shall we force him to our service? Such a powerful elemental will be most useful for backing our innate magical talent.' Zynaer levitated slightly above the painted rock with a grimace as he winced at Belrik, and he stated, 'You bore me, mageling.' Belrik burst with anger, 'What was that, you pity, little—' The other pyromancer disregarded Belrik and said, 'I need not words of pride, elemental. I demand words of submission!' Zynaer snapped, 'I retort, you bore me, mageling.' 'You've brought this agony upon yourself, fool!' Belrik shouted out as he made gestures with his hands and followed with a number of incantations. None of this bothered the powerful Zynaer, so he centered his focus onto breaking his circle of holding."

The watery entity took a pause and started yet again, "Myodei and I were nearby Mt. Shining Star which was where this was occurring, and we were present because Myodei had planned to meet with Ariyzi, the Wind Elemental. Ariyzi was not present and announced, via the wind, that he was unable to make it due to a squad of Earth Demons ambushing him, so I then heard the yelling of the mages in response to Zynaer's mocking remarks. With my persistence on the matter, Myodei and I entered the fiery halls of the volcano, and we followed the sound of their outbursts alongside an unexpected besieging of our eardrums by screams of agony. We eventually had twisted through the cavernous tunnels to their study and or torture room with the entire party inside. Zynaer was in agony as horns erupted from his forehead, and cursed bracelets and anklets that appeared to be made of gold wrapped themselves around the respective joint. It was through these brands, curses if you will, that Zynaer has come upon his ability to absorb heat from the environment surrounding him, an unorthodox power for a denizen of the Plane of Fire."

Veqwei took an interval to rest from his speech and restarted, "Myodei requested for me to announce my name, for it is the command word for the chalice to which I owe my existence. I had followed his order; the chaining rune was broken by the torrent of water that flowed upon the ground. Zynaer's eyes flashed a sanguine red as blazes ignited within his hands, and a malicious smile found its way onto his countenance. How he accomplished such a feat without lips or any real facial features is beyond me. Zynaer then declared, 'I cannot be caged. I cannot be controlled. Understand this as you die, ever pathetic, ever fools!' Belrik shouted, 'What is this!?' Zynaer replied joyously, 'This is your death!' The two pyromancers fell to the ground and entered into a state of convulsions and spasms. Myodei was curious as to what Zynaer had done to them and asked him, 'What did you do to those magelings?' Zynaer answered, 'I set their nervous system aflame with my masterful conflagrations. Now I must ask if I may return the favor that you have given me and how I may do so.' Myodei stated, 'Why, of course, I need someone with such magical capabilities as you.'"

"A most peculiar tale, Veqwei," Sek-Duat responded, "Though it answered more of how you and Myodei came upon Zynaer than your own nature."

Veqwei began, "Ah, yes, my apologies. Allow me to start a different tale, though I hope that the former had intrigued you. Now I will elaborate on the Chalice of Endless Water that the Water Lord had come to bless this plane with. It is an unique artifact, in fact, there is only one in the entirety of Lore. Someone of unknown origins, likely a disobedient Water Elemental, had etched its command word onto its base for all to see. Such was classified information that only the Water Lord and those chosen at the Lord's discretion were to know. I do not recall anything prior to my animation, so I am unable to answer who had done this. Myodei had in his wandering of Lore for artifacts of the Elemental Lords, prior to his dissent, had come across me and decided to bring life to the infinite waters of the grail as I had told you earlier. The significance of this act came to be that once I burst forth from the goblet filled with life, I had then came to consistently regenerate through the infinite supply of the cup. Myodei realized that such an enduring entity would be immensely useful, and he called for me to follow him in his goals. It was from there that we later found Zynaer and our current quest had truly initiated."

"I'm impressed, Veqwei, I never would've imagined you to be golem royalty," Sek-Duat jested. He followed up with a serious question though, "Where was it that Myodei had found the artifact from which you find your origins?"

"Doubtful that you'll ever come to see Deren, Sek-Duat," Veqwei answered, "But if you do, Myodei found it an elaborate grotto near Deep Lake. It had no guardians, and the hollow seemed to be an old sanctum dedicated to the Water Lord. Oh, and as for being 'golem royalty', yes, the term 'demon' being placed on me is a misnomer."

"Most intriguing, most intriguing indeed," Sek-Duat replied.

"Quite, Sek-Duat, but I must be going now," Veqwei responded, "For Ariyzi has spoken to me through the wind. I need to meet the rest of my companions in the Dwarven city of Gorraran."

"Might I ask why?" Sek-Duat queried.

"I would answer that if I knew, alas I do not," Veqwei stated, "So g'day, Sek-Duat," As he finished, the watery being slid out of the Emperor of the Sands's throne room. He left a residue of wet rock and sand behind him, and as he made his way to Gorraran, his metal glasses were barely able to remain on his face. He had placed the chalice on the inside of his robes, and it was the goblet that kept the robes from falling apart as he maneuvered like a shambling humanoid mass of water which he was.

My group, composed of me, the aging Zayn, my sister, and Medlag, were north of Darkovia's cursed forest and the mountain range that made its northern border. The mountains were not spared from the shadow that swept the forest. The grass even was darker near the accursed region. Before us, there was a lone tree, and beneath it, a man adorned in a red robe with a pitch black, tattered over-cloth that wrapped around his shoulders and collar to fall to his front and back. His hood had a long tip that fell backward due to gravity behind his hood. Both of his hands were covered by scarlet gloves. He held a staff in his left hand tightly. The staff's end was dual-sided, and the blades extended outward to seem more like a double-headed battleaxe. A small, crimson gem rested between these two blades. The figure rose his right hand as to ask our party to stop and listen to him.

"Good day, may I ask that you listen to what I have to say for a few minutes?" He lowered his hood with his left hand as he spoke, and he unveiled light brown hair of medium length and crystal blue eyes. Two small elven ears erected from both sides of his elegant head, and small bands of silver, jeweled earrings adorned both of his earlobes. Upon his right cheek was a tattoo of a Spirit, and it had a light fluorescent glow about it. It matched the color of his iris, though it felt otherworldly nonetheless.

"I suppose, but we require your name first," I replied, and Medlag muttered an unpleasant word in the background in regards to the elf.

"I will ignore your less than friendly Dwarven companion, for now, as well as oblige you," He had made a slight pause for suspense, "I am Miar Galiv." As he spoke his name, his lips emphasized their slightest tinge of pink as they were mostly a light tan like his skin. He continued, "I would explain why I'm located in my current predicament, but I suspected that I wouldn't have a very kind reception."

"Why might that be?" I queried.

He sighed and answered, "Well, my occupation isn't one that is considered honorable or holy, in fact, quite the opposite." There was no response, so he continued, "Must I make it obvious for you!? I'm a Necromancer! Not your standard one either! I awaken the dead with the winds backing me...though I typically do such for consultation and guidance, not power. It's part of the reason why I utilize such an unorthodox element for it. Now what? Are you going to bastardize or berate me? Bah, why do I even bother! Inconsiderate people these days, never do they take the time to understand the undertakings and tribulations of others..."

He continued to rant for a short while, but I eventually interrupted him, "My apologies, but I don't believe that I classify under any or at least most of which you are rambling on about. So, why did you wish to talk to me and my party, Miar?"

He looked up surprised, "You're not? Oh, oh, then...yes, of course! Why I had done in hopes of joining your grouping!" I stared at him with a confused expression, and he responded, "Oh, silly me. How dare I not explain why I wished to do that as well! You see, one of the spirits which I had consulted or rather consulted with me, had asked me to find someone who matched your description and watch over them...guide them into the right path, if I recall correctly. Before you ask, I am relatively certain that the spirit's name was Kyrei."

"I suppose that I can't really argue with my ancestors, so welcome, Miar Galiv," I stated. Medlag was speaking of curses under his breath, clearly displeased with my choice. He had, nonetheless, continued to lead the way to Gorraran in the Dwarfhold Mountains along the route that he had previously planned. Along the way, Miar made a slight mention that he had heard about Gorraran being under a tight shift currently, but he was uncertain as to why though.

Once we arrived, there was an immense gate that stood before us, and the entrance was similar to the mountain which it was carved into in this regard. The gateway was made of gold with intricate markings and carvings that filled its surface. In front of this ancient, faintly cracked door was a gate guard that wielded a halberd that was made of a black metal and riddled with the scars of age and wear. He wore the Dwarvish Army's standard helmet upon his head, and it was complete with a rough face plate that covered his nose and cheeks. His gruff beard covering his rough breastplate and the upper portion of his greaves. His pauldrons bore a multitude of blades that mocked the term shoulder blades. Behind him, one could see a small hole that required a very specific cut gem to fit inside it, and I presumed that it was the keyhole to a Dwarven lock.

The guard shouted out, "Halt! Explain yourselves if I am to allow you to enter the glorious city of Gorraran!" His voice was deep and stern, for he had likely spent the entirety of his life performing this role as an intimidating gate guardian. After he finished, he extended his halberd outwards towards us as to be ready to attack if we proved hostile.

Medlag pushed towards the front and answered, "Ah, well, you see, I just wanted a warm welcome back. I suppose that I won't be getting that then, now will I?"

The guard took a small handkerchief and wiped the soot that was surrounding the multiple gaps in the helmet, and he asked, "Is that you, Medlag?"

"Well, who else would it be!?" Medlag jested amiably to the guardsman.

The guard had done away with the kerchief; he was rummaging through his sack for the key-stone to the gate now. He replied, "Of course, sir! Give me a moment now to get the key!" Shortly after, he pulled out a distinct, yellow crystal that looked to match the hole in the door with a pinpoint accuracy. He placed it within and twisted it with the handle. Once he had finished, the door began to screech as it opened. "There we go, Medlag," he said and moved away from the now unobstructed entrance.

I shifted my gaze to what lied beyond the gateway, and large obsidian structures flooded my vision. Immense pillars, made of carved volcanic glass, seemed to hold up the majority of the mountain. Built on a large platform appeared to be an auditorium, built for their famous Dwarven operas. Beneath it was an entrance to the vast tunnel system that they had developed for mining. I could barely make out the bright figures that I presumed were RayZards, which I had heard about being used in the Dwarven mines of Oreia for guidance through the caverns. Small, distorted individuals were strewn all around the city going about their business. The sound of a grinding wheel biting away at the metal of a blade was evident.

"Well, if I recall, my house is that-a-way," Medlag stated and pointed towards a large edifice some distant away. He continued, "And we should pass an oddities shop along the way, which you may want to look in. They have quite an interesting stock. What're we waiting for? Let's get going!" We followed him, but Miar seemed to do so reluctantly. They past master smiths, who were working on a metal that Medlag called zirkkonium, along their way to Medlag's house. He went on to describe how the Dwarves shipped the rare, shaped metal to the Zirkonnin Empire, who had sent them the raw mineral to work with, using underground tunnels. Unfortunately, he was unable to tell us where this empire was.

We were now entering the Market District of Gorraran, and there were swarms of armories and smithies with arrays of weapons and armor pieces, which were made from various metals. Most of the armor was made of zirkkonium and dragon scales, and the weapons were made of palladinum, zephyrite, and other unknown metals. Though, a shield made of luminite stood out with a blinding light. A merchant had noticed our interest in the unique shield and called out to us, "You want the shield, aye? That'll be twelve thousand gold, aye! Best pay up if you really want it!"

"Far out of my pockets, good sir! I best be on my way then!" I called out in response.

"Aye, ye be right on that regard!" He replied. We gave no further response and Medlag led us to Garnevin's Kooky Trinkets, which I could only presume was the oddities shop. The building's walls were made of carved emerald-colored stone, and a door composed of ruby-colored metal. The door had a similar lock as to the one that we had seen on the golden entrance, but the lock was not activated. The door remained ajar, to our luck, so I opened it wider to enter the store. Aisles made of bookshelves filed through the majority of the store until it got to a small counter where Garnevin sat in a chair. He was awaiting for some appraisers to his large stock of peculiar wares.

An array of items rested on a shelf closest to the entrance. There was a Vizalain seed to the right of a bad filled with the ashes of a lich, which had a bottle of Acidragon blood next to it, and there was the wing of a Harpy at the end of the row. Opposite of this shelf was a petrified Gargoyle's tear, the tentacle of a Darkshifter, the eye of a Minx Fairy, and the head of a Maar. From the numerous examples of bizarre items, which made his stock, one could only imagine that Garnevin was a fellow that had his sources.

There were a few customers in the store, but they were all vastly different from the rest of the city. There was a Dravir in the corner examining the head of the Maar. A hooded figure, who hovered above the ground and had two asymmetrical, icy horns erect from his hood, scrutinized the Vizalain seed with an analytic approach, as if he doubted its validity. While I gazed at him, I felt an encroaching rush of serenity and calmness that flooded over my other emotions. I now stared about with an absolute complacency. The peculiar stranger began to scratch the surface of the crystal seed with his frigid talons. He muttered, "Hmm...yes, it seems to be genuine. Bazrir, what else do we need?"

There was also two more with this icy devil; one of them, the one with the glow of lightning exuding from his being, seemed to be contemplating or reflecting. The other robed being adorned in sand-colored robes with a golden hawk mask, which was inspecting the Harpy's wing, looked up towards the icy entity and answered, "Ah, yes, I believe that we need the wing of a Harpy, the seed of a Vizalain tree, the head of a Maar, a secret additive, and the eye of a Underachnid. How fortunate that three of these ingredients just happen to be in this shop, right, Myodei?"

"Of course, Bazrir, otherwise we'd have to scour half of Lore for these accursed reagents," Myodei answered, who then shifted towards Garnevin and asked, "Might I purchase this seed, the head of the Maar, and the wing of the Harpy? Name any price."

The Dravir, which had been looking at the Maar's head, then blurted out, "No, the Maar's skull is mine! I need it!"

Garnevin found his way into the conversation, "Look, we'll handle this with a bidding game, highest bidder wins, so I suggest that you start high."

"Two hundred thousand gold!" The Dravir announced.

"Five hundred thousand gold, my good sir," Myodei stated afterwards, "Now, I'll be taking that head if you don't mind. And while I am at it, what are the prices for the Vizalain seed and the wing of a Harpy?" The Dravir diverted its gaze now to the obviously rich stranger with a look of intrigue and shock at his immense offer.

Garnevin was jubilant to answer, "Ah, yes, fine pieces they are...oh, right, five hundred thousand gold and fifty thousand gold respectively."

Myodei summoned a number of coin purses from thin air upon Garnevin's counter, and he remarked, "I'll believe that you'll find everything to be in order." He drifted towards the items and took each of them into his possession with his icy claws.

< Message edited by Razen -- 4/2/2014 22:53:33 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 8
2/24/2013 20:17:44   

Chapter 8: Introductions and Re-introductions

Galvin rested in his favorite armchair, and his shattered forearm remained wrapped. The house was quite lonely since Azaila and Razen had left. Iritha had been unable to ease Galvin's rage, who was now restless. He had waited for the return of his two younger kids, but they hadn't come back yet. It was then that he had heard an entity knocking on his front door. A freezing draft came in from beneath the door, and the dark hallway suddenly had glints of light breaking through under the bottom of the entrance. The sounds were rough and loud, whoever or whatever it was clearly had a good deal of strength backing them.

"Who's there? Answer yourself," Galvin stated, unable to get up from his chair easily without help.

"I am an Adalon, a golem of the Elemental Lords, and my name is Kydoz," the entity answered and continued, "I have come here to beg the help of the Veldrin family in dealing with an old problem that one of your ancestors had handled initially."

"Iritha, we have a guest, could you please let them in?" Galvin stated, and Iritha immediately rushed to open the door. Once she had, she gasped at who the visitor was. The Adalon pushed her aside with his blunt arm and entered the house with his arms extended outwards as if to feel about for objects. His brilliant, crystalline body had been just short of blinding.

"Well, this is the home of the descendants of Kyrei Veldrin? Disappointing," Kydoz's words were rough but robotic in its flow. "I digress...are you Galvin Veldrin?" The Adalon queried, "I ask because I need the assistance of a Veldrin to stop Myodei and his fiendish companions, for they have returned to Lore."

"Kyrei's work has went to waste? This is an outrage! Who was the perpetrator of this atrocity!? Who would have the audacity to mock my ancestor!?" Galvin barked.

"That would be Iskrema, an insubordinate elemental like Myodei and his party, but I am not here to exact vengeance on Iskrema," Kydoz responded, "No, I am here to see Myodei chained once more, for I cannot allow him to achieve his goals, oh, how diabolical they must be. It is my duty, even if the Elemental Lords themselves do not believe him to be dangerous...how foolish."

"Unfortunately for you, you are rather late on asking for my help, Adalon," Galvin replied, "For if you were unable to notice, I am not in the condition for adventure anymore. My arm's shattered and equally so is my lust for adventure. Perhaps you'll find better luck with Zaz', but you'll never get Razen or Azaila on your side."

"Ah, you are Galvin then," Kydoz stated and sighed, "Where will I find your offspring? If you can't help me, then one of them shall."

Galvin obliged him, "Zazaith's in the Sandsea, while Razen and Azaila have run off with that accursed Theemis, Zayn, and that rambunctious Dwarf, Medlag. At least Zazaith is trying to be honorable about this with trying to obtain a position as a court mage."

Kydoz was displeased with Galvin's answer, "Where did Razen and Azaila go?"

"To some Dwarven city, I think that its name was Gorraran," Galvin answered without being certain.

"Good day then, Galvin," Kydoz said and turned around. He still had his arms outward to avoid going through one of Galvin's walls, despite being made of seemingly fragile crystals.

"Wait, Kydoz, are you blind?" Galvin asked.

"Yes, now good day," The Adalon rushed through, forgetting that he needed to feel around to find the door. Iritha had shut the door behind him and locked it. She had a fearful expression on her face, and she looked towards Galvin.

"Who was that, Galvin!? Why are you letting these rude strangers into our home?" Iritha asked Galvin with a flustered tone. Afterward she muttered bitterly, "I'll never understand him."

Galvin was displeased, but he answered regardless, "Some golem named Kydoz and don't think that I know anything about him more than that."

The figure, adorned in light gray, turned towards us, and he still grasped the head of a Maar, wings of a Harpy, and a Vizalain seed. Under his hood, one could only imagine that he had turquoise gemstones for eyes to match his icy body. His facial expression was difficult to see, for his hood hid some of his crystalline face. His upper jaw's bottom corners ended with two pairs of fangs. The larger set being further outward and the smaller duo went directly down. He seemed surprised to see our party, and I could only imagine that he was related to Zolkt. This left me to wonder why they would want such bizarre trinkets. His cold glare seemed focus on Zayn, and the being queried, "Zayn, what are you doing with these...people? I do not recognize most of them, although you and Medlag are known to me. Who are the others then?"

Zayn answered, "They're Veldrins, and the elf is a Galiv. Zolkt should have mentioned at least one of them to you."

"Oh, yes, Zolkt did mention a Veldrin some time back. His name was Razen, wasn't it?" The figure responded, and his memory seemed to recall the event well enough. Perhaps he was the leader that Zolkt spoke of? It was difficult to think extensively. I felt oddly at peace in this entity's presence, but I had not noticed it until now, likely due to the attempt of deep contemplation. It seemed as though feelings akin to anger or rage were subdued by simply being near him. I could not imagine trying to attack him, even if he had taken everything from me. It was overbearing; I doubted that any emotion could overwhelm than this feeling of serenity. I suspected that this wasn't restricted to me; there must have been some manner of calming aura around him.

I spoke with a calm tone, "I am indeed Razen. The others with me, aside from the ones that you know, are my sister, Azaila, and Miar Galiv. If I may ask, who are you?"

"If you were true to your word with Zolkt, I suppose that there isn't much harm in informing you that I am Myodei," The figure replied.

Miar blurted in, "You are the monster that would help someone that you know is a murderer? I'd love to show you what for, but I can't seem to manage it. What manner of hex is this have you placed upon us!?" Miar held a grimace on his face; he was as disgusted as one could be with Myodei's presence.

"Hex? Are you referring to my aura of serenity? Such a thing is innately unique to me, but perhaps this is beyond your usual understanding. This aura was from the grace of the Lords; it was bestowed onto me when they had appreciated my service. As for the murderer that you are speaking of, he had done so in the defense of his own self-being. Belrik and the Galiv there, I can't remember his first name now, had attempted to bind Zynaer to their will, only for their benefit. They wished to abuse his abilities as a stronger Elemental, yet you cling to them as though they were saints!"

Miar unpleasantly asserted, "Myodei, I know that you are not to be trusted. Kyrei had told me everything when I consulted with him."

"You hold the same heart as your ancestor, Galiv," Myodei seemed to have ignored Miar's statement altogether.

"Whatever do you mean by that, demon?" Miar declared.

Myodei mocked Miar, "Demon? You are only helping me solidify my theory. You bound them to your will, didn't you, Kyrei, Belrik, and your own ancestors?"

Garnevin spoke up this time, "Alright, alright, that's enough. I'm closing up the shop, so you'll all need to leave. Don't cause too much commotion; else I will call the guards to send ya bastards to the dungeons posthaste. They don't care what kind of magic tomfoolery ya got; they'll still send yer behind into the damp cells."

"That'd be an unwise move for all of us, including the Dwarves," Myodei noted, taking his leave from Garnevin's Kooky Trinkets. He returned to the city, and he could see the immense spectacles made of obsidian. The smiths' workday was over, and they were getting about to wherever they were planning to spend their evening. Most of them were going to the Opera Hall, but there were still plenty of them going into taverns.

"Myodei, we are still supposed to meet the others, should we leave for them immediately?" Bazrir asked.

Myodei answered, "I believe that they can wait, so we can entertain the Galiv and Veldrins a little longer."

"Entertain us? Do you take us for a nuisance that you can simply ignore if you so desire?" Azaila queried the elemental.

"A nuisance? No, I think that your ancestors were horrid people, but I will attempt my best to avoid similar behavior from you. Miar seems hopeless though; he is out for himself and no one else. He is also prone to lying, as I know that he has already done so to you. I know not how many times, however."

I was the one to speak now, "Miar, why would you lie to us? What is it that you lied to us about?"

Miar appeared to be furious, and I could guess that if it wasn't for the extraordinary serenity that forced itself over us that he would be trying to tear Myodei into little shards of ice. Some of the Dwarves had actually remained around us, as they had taken notice of Miar's fury as well as I had. They knew that he was going to burst soon, and they wanted to see the fight. They had kept their distance enough as to not feel Myodei's unearthly peaceful presence. Medlag had slipped out into this crowd whenever we weren't paying attention.

"Are you going to pop? It's a shame that you can't even try to fight me, at least that'd stop you from harming those around you in the future," Myodei boasted. He was certainly proving successful in taunting Miar, who was stuck in a forced sense of tranquility. It must have truly been torturous to not even be capable of anger towards anything, even while someone is blatantly working to anger you.

Miar barked in response, "You know nothing of me, demon! You try my patience; this in itself is foolish beyond belief. I have had enough of this!" Miar stormed off away from Myodei; he knocked a Dwarf out cold when he was out of Myodei's aura of serenity. He was definitely not pleased.

"I know nothing of you? How cute, Miar," Myodei mocked Galiv, "I know that you are much like your ancestor. You are brutal like him, and you are most certainly a liar. I am guaranteed that you bound the ancestors' will to yours, much akin to how Varil Galiv and Belrik Veldrin had attempted to force this onto my companion, Zynaer."

"The bloody murderer that kills without remorse?" Miar taunted.

Myodei replied, "You truly didn't understand that situation then. I would suppose that Kyrei had lied to you? He would never accept that he wasn't born from a line of saints, yet he only maintained a good public image by slandering me and my party for no reason beyond revenge against Zynaer. We had suffered five centuries of imprisonment at the beckon of the Elemental Lords, all because Kyrei wanted revenge. Miar wants more, but I ask, what more can you desire? How can you demand more from justice whenever the initial punishment was unjust? Answer me that, Galiv."

"I need not answer one such as you; you are an accomplice in a murder," Miar held his guard, "I will not be coerced into believing your side when I am adamant in the innocence of my great grandfather, Varil."

Myodei countered, "I am adamant that you are lying out of your teeth, Galiv. I suspect that you forced Kyrei, Belrik, and Varil to your will. I imagine that despite knowing that they were in the wrong, that you will walk their path and defend them for your own self-gain. You are truly the monster here."

"You dare to ridicule me, demon? You are so foolish as to demean Miar Galiv?" Miar declared. It was clear that his haughty attitude had managed to return through some manner of misfortune. Miar was dominating the discussion with Myodei, neither Azaila or I could muster the audacity to force themselves into the conversation.

"I'm foolish enough to demean you? You're threatening someone that could destroy you, your companions, and all of the surrounding Dwarves with a snap of his fingers," Myodei responded, "Yet I am the foolish one? Do explain to me as to how, oh great and mighty one. I am so sorry that I have insulted your pride and offended your overly inflated ego." Myodei paused and began anew, "I have wasted enough time on you, Galiv. I must attend to other business that is not relevant to you or the Veldrins. I'd suggest that you do not involve yourself for your own well-being."

Myodei had said nothing else, and he didn't react to any of Miar's following insults, curses, or fits of rage. The figure in sand-colored robes, Bazrir, had walked beside the levitating elemental. I knew not where they were intending to go to in the city, but I gathered that it would be fatal to have Miar and Myodei's party to meet under terms that would allow for Miar to strike.

The dwarves that had wanted to see a fight were disappointed and left to see the end of the ongoing opera or get a few minutes in with their friends in a tavern. Medlag had disappeared in this time, now it was only me, the surprisingly quiet Azaila, the flustered Miar, and the aged Zayn. We were uncertain as to where we would go from here.


The light gray robes of the figure twisted around towards us, and he looked towards Zayn first. His gaze shifted to me, Azaila, and Miar Galiv. His facial expression was difficult to see, for his hood hid some of his crystalline face. His upper jaw's bottom corners ended with two pairs of fangs. The larger set being further outward, and the smaller duo went directly down. He stated, "Zayn? Why, what are you doing here? Unless...is he the Veldrin that Zolkt vouched for? Razen, I believe his name was?"

"Ah, yes, Myodei, well, I certainly wasn't expecting to meet you—" Zayn started.

"I can answer for myself, Zayn," I replied and continued, "So, you're Myodei? I suppose this means that we have much to discuss."

"I'll discuss nothing with this monstrosity, who'd help a known murderer, a butcher of living beings!" Miar Galiv angrily declared.

"Could you, at the least, take whatever you're going to do out of my shop? I have business to tend to, outside business," Garnevin said, and he rose from his seat behind the counter.

"Pfah, fine, Dwarf," Miar snapped, who proceeded to walk out of the shop. Azaila, Myodei, Bazrir, the Dravir, and I all followed out. Numerous dwarves flooded the district, as most had just gotten off of their mining shifts. They wished to look at the fine craftsmanship of their master smiths, who were renown to be absolutely unrivaled. Most of the smiths retired from their anvils and forges, exhausted from a long day's labor. The Dravir darted off and disappeared in the crowd, which was quite a feat since he was far taller than those surrounding him.

"So, what with that hostility, Wood Elf?" Myodei asked, "Oh, no, wait, let me guess, you're a Galiv, aren't you? Can't you let go of what happened to your ancestor? I mean, you don't even know the whole story...Zynaer was the victim!"

"Razen, do not trust this despicable thing," Miar Galiv whispered to me, "He helped a disloyal, traitorous, and outright murderous

Myodei had overheard and replied, "Don't trust me? And Zynaer being disobedient and trigger-happy? Only because he didn't want to be enslaved, and he certainly wasn't fond of having torture being used to try to coerce him!" The many Dwarves now stared at the scene which we were making, and they were all in intrigue by what Myodei said about Zynaer.

One of the Dwarves, likely an educated mine foreman, even queried, "Who is this Zynaer that you speak of? Who was it that tortured him, if you tell the truth?"

Myodei rolled his eyes and answered, "Zynaer is a fire elemental companion of mine, a unique fellow. As for his torturers, well, two or three of the grouping here are their descendants. One of them was Belrik Veldrin and the other was a Galiv, but I can't seem to remember his first name. Don't get me wrong though, I hate that they had to die. I really wish that they hadn't, but I also would've hoped that they never attempted to enslave an elemental to their will. I don't feel the need to expound past what I have to you. As for you, Galiv, as I explained to the Dwarves, I didn't want your ancestor to die. I had actually tried to save him and Belrik, but Zynaer had been quicker than I. I truly feel terrible about what happened, and that is not simply because of the consequences which I had to suffer."

"Why did you take him in your party then, explain that, Myodei!" Miar continued to doubt Myodei's innocence.

Myodei obliged him, "Well, Zynaer wanted redemption, for he was marked, you see, by Belrik and your ancestor. He was given two curses that counteracted one another, but they did succeed in making him appear to be a fiend, a demon. I offered him a new home, a fresh goal, and a bright future, more than what your grandfather or great grandfather would've allotted him. I gave him hope of freedom, something that he longed for."

"I can't believe you, demon," Miar snarled, "I've heard the full story from Kyrei Veldrin."

Myodei chuckled, "You got the full story from Kyrei? Pfah, you got a self-serving, abridged version at best. If you won't listen to me though, then I will not waste my breath. Are you going to strike me? If so, please be quick with it, for I hate keeping Bazrir from his fiancée, Jalise. Oh, what's that, you can't will yourself to? Well, that's just too bad, now isn't it?" He was mocking Miar, and I suspected that Myodei was referring to the unearthly serenity that forced itself onto them.

"Though, you haven't said much, Razen," Myodei stated, "Nor has this female companion of yours. Zayn and Medlag have nothing to tell me, I know already. So, what do you and this woman have to say to me?"

I obliged the ice elemental, "Well, firstly, she is my sister, Azaila. Secondly, is Zolkt a member of your companionship? What are you trying to do exactly? Why does my father hate you so much?"

"Oh, I see that you have a flurry of questions, boy," Myodei responded, "Well, I see, Azaila, you say? It's a nice name. As for Zolkt, he is indeed in my party, and my goal is none of your concern. It won't affect you or anyone that you know, but I would like my books back from your home. Your father? That's Galvin, isn't it? I suspect that his disdain for me is linked to his steadfast glorification to his ancestors. Is that all? I certainly don't want to leave you needlessly wondering."

I asked, "Why did you refuse to tell me your goal? Wouldn't only a criminal or someone with a vile scheme wish to hide their intentions? Answer me that, Myodei."

"Insistent, aren't you? It's a wise question however, so I will answer it," Myodei sighed after he finished. He continued after a short pause, "I want to leave Lore, is that so bad? Do I deserve to be branded a malicious villain simply because I don't want to be the victim of prejudice, and that I refuse to be forced into being enslaved by someone under the umbrella term of assistance. Was it right for me to be locked up for five hundred years for something that I never did, simply because in the past I had made a few mistakes? Or should I be entitled to the detainment for trying to help others who made mistakes like me, Szayan, or Zynaer? What have I done that is so unknowingly terrible that I should find myself imprisoned for five centuries? Answer me that, Veldrin and Galiv!" He mocked me and Miar with the last statement.

The Dwarves that surrounded this group continued to listen to our conversation, and they were brimmed with interest at what we were discussing. Garnevin was exiting his store and locking it up. He was a thinner dwarf, maybe even a gnome, and he was adorned in studded leather armor that was covered by a scarf. His hair was balding, but his fingers remained as nimble as in his youth. He was closing shop earlier than his norm, so one could only suspect that something churned up that required his urgent attention, likely new information on an artifact that he had long sought. Upon his index finger of his right hand was a unique ring, which gave an ethereal glimmer.

"Well, I'm getting out of here, no need for this old treasure hunter to get iced for sticking around for something that he has no part in," Garnevin whispered to himself, and he slipped back towards an area that was less crowded.

Miar decided to respond to Myodei first, "Simple, Myodei, you clearly must've been guilty for five centuries' worth of crimes, like assisting murderers and stealing."

"I attempted to redeem the former case, and the latter is something that I haven't done," Myodei asserted, "At least, not since I was ordered to work with Izotz long ago in collecting artifacts. How was I supposed to know that Izotz would betray me and pocket all of them, then claim that I stole the relics? Why did Veqwei and I have to be punished for something that we didn't partake in or even know of until it was too late?"

"My apologies in interrupting your rant, Myodei, but shall we leave?" Bazrir asked and continued, "We were supposed to meet up with our whole grouping, since you got Ariyzi to arrange the meeting."

"Oh right, well, good day, Galiv and Veldrin," Myodei stated, "Let us leave this party, Bazrir." The two drifted off towards a small shack that was built of now rotting wood. The wood was kicked in, and the building was clearly long abandoned. Its windows had cracked remnants along the steel edges of the frame. The building was in a recluse corner of Gorraran with it, and it was built extending from the inner base of the mountain. The roof was likely burnt in the fire that consumed that section of Gorraran around two decades ago. It was unknown who had owned it or if they were alive.

If the way to the buildings on the way to the shack had been rebuilt, then one could never imagine that Bazrir or Myodei were heading toward the ruined, decrepit place. The charred frames and ashes of the wooden exterior stained the stone floor and road of the Dwarven city. Myodei scrutinized the remains of the ruined region, for he wanted to know what part of the city that it was. When Myodei and Bazrir past the sooty sign of an old inn, Myodei tried to read the name of the establishment, and he was able to confirm that it was a human embassy. This would explain why the Dwarves never bothered to repair the area, but it left the mystery behind the fire's origins. The ice elemental also pondered on why no one from Swordhaven attempted to settle the Dwarven city again.

Veqwei sat upon the charred remnants of a burnt chair that was once among the furniture of the house. Ariyzi was adorned in light grey robes with dark cloud designs that ran across the fabric, and he waited next to Veqwei. Ariyzi's light, yellow eyes standing out from the rest of his gray form. If one had unable to get a closer examination to see the spiraling, constantly moving form that was his body, they would've imagined that he was a priest of the Wind Lord. Zolkt rested next to Vewqei and Dyjhal, Zolkt's large frame was forced to slouch. His rocky shoulders scratched against the ceiling, and a skull, mounted on the branches embedded in his collar bone, was bent downwards, giving Zolkt an awkward stance.

"Why must Bazrir, Szayan, and Myodei make us wait?" Vyrdae inquired from a dark corner, where nothing could be seen.

"Vyrdae, you do not know love, so while you may hear the reasons, you will not know them," Dyjhal answered as cryptically as ever.

"Bah, I need not know such foolish concepts as love," Vyrdae replied bashfully in his utter darkness.

In the distance, one could hear nearing footsteps, and the elementals could only presume that they belong to Bazrir, who was accompanied by Myodei. The slight noises slowly grew in strength as it drew closer to the party, then it was followed with the turning of the bronze knob of the ancient, decrepit house. The elegant robes that clothed the two were seen in good contrast to one another: Bazrir adorned in sandy gold, and Myodei in a dim gray with icy turquoise trims. They had their spoils from Garnevin's shop, the head of a Maar, the wing of a Harpy, and a Vizalain seed on their person, which added to their peculiarity even more so than Myodei's crystalline figure alongside his asymmetrical horns that erupted from his forehead beneath his hood.

The entering members of the party looked at the reason for why such an unfavorable location was selected for a meeting; he was a gnome who took the trade of a warrior and looked more akin to a short dwarf. The gnome wore scalemail with a desecrated helmet that likely once belonged to a Dwarven war hero, but it was now marred with rude comments, likely from disgruntled gnomes from Popsprocket. The gnome was dwarfed by his companion, a Lightning Giant, who had the bearings of a dynamancer(Energy wizard). "Oh, Myodei, what a joy it is to see you," the gnome warrior stated, miraculously above the voice of his much larger company.

"Yivtarn and Tethil, what in the Lords' names are you two doing here of all places?" Myodei queried.

Tethil, the Lightning Giant, softly answered, "The dwarves care not, and the humans that once inhabited here are all dead." Tethil gaze quickly shifted to his gnome companion, Yivtarn, and he whined, "Stop touching me!" Dyjhal rolled his eyes in response to Tethil's less than stable response, as there was no way that Yivtarn could reach Tethil with such short limbs.

Myodei had known of the mannerisms of Tethil and Yivtarn, so he had decided to play along with Tethil. "Yivtarn, take a step away from Tethil," he declared. Tethil stared at Myodei with wide eyes in response, surprised that anyone would believe him over what logic would dictate.

Tethil proceeded to compliment the Ice Elemental with a tone of deep praise, "Your voice is divine honey." His gaze shifted as if paranoia had overtaken Tethil, now his gaze beamed down upon Ariyzi.

The melodramatic wind elemental joked under the stress, "Well, with you as my companion, who needs enemies?"

The, at least, partially insane lightning giant laughed shortly, but it was cut short whenever he declared, "Then I ate his gallbladder with some Moglinberries and a Zard steak."

Yivtarn glared at the mad giant and stated, "Go suck yer blade."

Zynaer was getting frustrated with the constant banter, so he stomped onto the ground and shouted, "Perhaps you both should silence yourselves, before I do it for you. Do yourselves the favor, else your tongue be set alight." Tethil snarled, but Yivtarn refused to try Zynaer.

Myodei began as the two mercenaries fell silent, "Yes, well, Yiv, Tethil, you were both requested to perform a service for me, once more. You see, there are two families, which maintain grudges against me for attempting to redeem myself and my companions. One of them, the Veldrins, had stolen our rightful research material; they live in Deep Root in DoomWood. I want you to return our books to us, so that Dyjhal and I may go to Talados without any excess delays. We'll be going to Deren first, for we need to visit the Deren Library. I need someone to perform this task for me, and as I recall, you two owe me."

"I recall not of the sort, you conniving elemental!" Yivtarn blurted in response.

"You don't recall when you two were spelunking that mine? Oh, Kelnash Mine, I believe it was?" Myodei queried the gnome.

"Don't you dare bring up anything about those confounded, frenzied Archeonauts! They were seemingly spawning from the insides of the rock with not a care for their self-being, but I didn't want to save my companions either. Why? None were as self-righteous as them, blasted Stringers." Yivtarn angrily answered. Under his tongue, he seemed to be spouting expletives in repetition, but one could only hear unintelligible noises. His recollection of the event was definitely anything but favorable.

"I suppose that it is difficult to clean out a mine and purify its ore, especially when there is a mad orc controlling a horde of Archeonauts. They were insane, considering that they were willing to destroy themselves as long as it destroyed the enemy," Myodei replied.

"Doesn't make it any better since as soon as we downed the orc, we were met with only the melodramatic and doomed speeches of a Wood Elf not unlike your own companion, Ariyzi." Yiv answered bitterly, "He couldn't shut up about how 'We're all doomed!' and things of that nature. It took him forever until he escaped with us, but it mostly seemed to be the need for him to say, 'If you want.' He seemed to view everything with a great sense of dread."

"Vel's not important right now though, Yiv, instead I would return your focus to assisting me in reclaiming my party's lost resources," Myodei stated, "You know your target, and you know your obligations. Now go and perform them." Myodei's voice remained in its emotionless tone of coldness, yet it was not hostile or bitter.

Yivtarn had no other memories to bring up, so he answered with only, "I'll do yer toil."

Tethil had, amazingly, been quiet until Yivtarn had finished that sentence. The giant had then blurted out, "As much as I enjoy these moments of repose; get a move on it!"

< Message edited by Razen -- 8/20/2013 18:59:26 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 9
8/4/2013 21:02:04   

Chapter 9: Dreaming

( Music for first segment)

Myodei, Bazrir, Szayan, and Dyjhal had left from Gorraran; they returned to the Crossroads to get to the town of Krovesport. The town hadn't yet earned its infamy as a town of cutthroats and highwaymen, but it was frequented by a number of crime syndicates for being a port town. It was smart from a business standpoint, if they work where Battleonia exports and imports resources, they can get more bang-for-their-buck effort-wise. The rogues were strategic about it though; they would keep their looting just low enough as to not ruin business. This was a good move on their part, since it allowed for the continuation of immense profit from smuggling the stolen possessions.

The wooden buildings were mostly warehouses, inns, and businesses, but there were houses and custom offices. You may imagine that it was bizarre but there were more of the latter. The planks that made the city had the scars of time upon them, and many looked as though they were desperately in need of a replacement, else the structures might collapse from any fast winds that were bound for Krovesport. The state of disrepair that it was in made it difficult to sustain itself as an economically successful port town, but it was hanging on nonetheless. Storms weren't very frequent fortunately, so the town didn't have to worry too much about imminent destruction and rebuilding.

The four had made it into Krovesport, and it seemed that a good portion of the people that were looming the sides of the main road had dissipated as the group neared. Leather hoods covered their faces, and they were similarly dressed in leather armor. These were most likely a bunch of rogues from one of the many gangs, but it was impossible to discern their identity without the chance to get a closer look. The crooks and nannies of the town were bound to have been filled by the fleeting highwaymen; Bazrir could only imagine that Dyjhal looked as though he had fought enough to have scared them away.

Dyjhal wore robes in a similar style to those of Talados, which were fortified with Sea Brigling hide, since Briglings were known for their resilient carapace. It was difficult to see more than a slight glow underneath his cowl, but there were strands of hair that were rested on his leathery robe. The most visible parts of his hair were violet and blue; the bottom layers were entirely white. Lightning coursed through his body with great intensity; this could be easily seen in his faint, faded purple face.

The majority of the narrow, uninviting alleyways were bypassed, but there were small groupings of people in most of them. They always seemed to be conniving or joking about something; it was anyone's guess as to their relations with one another in a town like Krovesport. Rummaged crates littered the edges of the alleys; anything that might have once been valuable in them was defaced or sold to some fence. No one would ever dare to relieve them of their clutter, as the few residents of Krovesport would have preferred to not risk getting a dagger in their back for snooping around where they don't belong.

The group was past most of the shadowy streets; they were instead in the section where most of the inns took their residence. What went on in the hostels of Krovesport was always shady at best, but they were the most architecturally sound structures in the entirety of the town. Most business associates and higher-ups took their residence in the upper echelon of these buildings. As Bazrir passed one of the higher class hotels, he heard quite a number of moans. He presumed that it was from one of the establishment's means of relaxation, but it struck him as most peculiar nonetheless.

The docks were built off on the coast of the bay that Krovesport was on the edge of. They were made of a higher grade wood, as no laborers dared to stay out on those planks for longer than they absolutely needed to. All of the people of the town preferred to be standing on the cobblestone paved pathways. Those brave enough to work on the docks would usually find themselves sleeping with the fishes. There were multiple means to get to the main set of docks, but the main road was the safest. The others were all but guaranteed to lead you right into the paws of one of the many gangs that plagued the poor town, so you'd rarely, if ever, find a seasoned traveler on the sprawling side-streets unless they're willing to die to clean up the city.

The party managed to get on the docks of the shadowy Krovesport. They had paid for the usage of a fine, exquisite vessel, the Braken's Bane. Its captain was aged and experienced, but its crew was still mostly young and energetic. They were tan from their arduous days in the sun during their numerous voyages. The oaken planks of the ship bore the scars of the waters of the Great Sea. The remnants of a rotting Braken were hoisted onto the bowsprit of the boat with a number of ropes; they had done this as to intimidate any of the creatures of its namesake that they might encounter. The captain's quarters was opposite from the bowsprit; there was a wooden carving of a Braken with a cutlass forced deep between its eyes over the entrance of said room. The bottom of the vessel, the keel, had bladed fins that would stop many of the creatures of the sea that would dare disturb the mighty ship.

The Braken's Bane was an expensive vessel to reserve the services of, so it was fortunate for Myodei that he was financially backed by Sek-Duat's deep coffers. There was no other way that he could reasonably afford such a top of the line ship. Myodei's smaller party had crossed the gangplank onto the main deck. Myodei could now see that the eyes of the Braken carving were shriveled from fire; the edges of the wood still had the sooty residue all over them. Fitting, Myodei thought to himself, as the eyes of a Braken are as black as obsidian.

Myodei, Bazrir, Szayan, and Dyjhal went below decks into their designated chambers to rest for the long voyage to Deren. The anchor was raised from its resting place at the ocean floor, and the ship began the journey. The grouping knew that it would be best to use the time to rest up and relax, which for Dyjhal meant meditating and rereading his book, On Psionic Life. Bazrir was likely going to be lying down on one of the provided hammocks resting. Myodei was guaranteed to levitate while he was in deep thought. Szayan would even be able to take advantage of the break from travel on Bazrir's Sunspike, which he always considered made it an uncomfortable and rickety ride.

Bazrir shut the door to his chamber; he had a little tune stuck in his head. He laid the staff that Szayan rested in on a nearby dresser. He was going to let the tune come to fruition. It sparked some ancient memories that had all but left him; he recalled being in a lovely city. It was built with stone composing all of the major architecture of the city; all of the houses and regional walls were made with rock. It had two residential regions that were close to the market district; there was one to the northwest and southwest. The palace was to the northeast, and the business district was southeast. He remembered people down on their luck playing music off on the sides of the marketplace, often about their string of misfortunes.

He recalled himself in a decently sized stone house in the southern residential district. It was also here that Jalise lived, and Bazrir had made with her for the first time when they were both 5. Bazrir was a few months younger than Jalise, but this didn't faze him. Their encounters became more frequent within a few months, and they'd often play together whenever they could. They enjoyed each other's presence. Jalise had long, brunette hair and often wore cool-colored dresses; she had gorgeous hazel eyes. Bazrir couldn't remember any of their childhood shenanigans in great detail, but he knew that they had once bumped into quite a few people in a game of tag that they were having in the marketplace.

The later part of their childhood was whenever they would read to one another. The stories that they read were usually short and sweet fables, but they would occasionally find themselves incredibly challenged by a more advanced book. They would also practice their skill at writing with little letters that they'd hand to each other. Bazrir and Jalise's parents were pleased that the two got along so well, and, unbeknownst to either of them for many years, they had planned to have them marry. Their families weren't nobles, but they weren't at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

One night during their early teens, Bazrir had asked Jalise with a feeling beyond that of normal curiosity, "Can you believe me when I say there's nothing I like better than to just sit here and talk with you? Although, I'll rant and I'll rave about one and another; the beauty of it is so pure to me." Bazrir was certain that that wasn't what he had actually stated, but he did not mind the alteration to a minute detail. What mattered to Bazrir was Jalise's answer, as it had always been the case. Bazrir could not recall her voice, but he knew that she answered yes.

Sil was at the beckon of its Emperor, Lukron, and he often held public spectacles. Lukron was a big fan of gladiatorial fights, so he made certain to get his hands on some of the more elusive creatures of Lore. It was his fascination with such battles that Sil was given its symbolic colors of red and gold. Bazrir and Jalise had never went to any, as they simply never had the inclination. They preferred to have fun by each other's company rather than watch some prisoner risk his life for freedom. It was possible that the fights would even be discontinued as the aging Lukron was going to give the throne to his only son, Kuron. Lukron said that he had faith in his son's ability to rule, but Bazrir had never gotten to know Lukron or Kuron in great detail.

Bazrir's profession was to be a scribe, and Jalise was to be a librarian at the emperor's palace. They were both literate, which was still uncommon among the people of Sil. They'd walk near the stone walls, which divided the city up, together on the way to their work. Bazrir recalled reading a great many of things of ancient lore, and he was certain that it was here that he learned about the Sand Elves. He had thought nothing of it at the time, as his workday was quite arduous. It was quite common for him to return home with a terrible pain throughout his entire right hand from a long day of writing without end. Bazrir had extra motivation to finish his works, as he'd get to talk with Jalise once more when he completed any. They had to be stored safely within the palace library that only Jalise, the other librarians, and the Emperors themselves could enter.

Outside of their daily toil of work, Bazrir and Jalise were preparing for their preordained marriage that they had only recently known about. They had heard some news about Sil's war versus the Tulran horde, but they did not really know why the two powers were fighting. They'd occasionally find themselves looking at the many items of luxury at the marketplace in their leisure time. Bazrir would be looking for a wondrous gift for Jalise, and Jalise would do the same for Bazrir. They'd see a good bit of zephyrite, which was one of Sil's rarest metals. They were far out of either of their buying powers' though, so they looked for things that they knew their counterpart would enjoy.

In the northwest section of the marketplace, there was a shop called "Vanhalin's Musical Emporium". Bazrir recalled that Jalise loved to listen to a soft tune of music, but he didn't know how to play an instrument. The eighteen year-old Bazrir asked the retired musician, "Sir, is there anything that you have that could play a light, relaxing piece for someone? You see, I've never learned how to play an instrument."

Vanhal answered, "Oh, yeah, I should have something that would be just right for you." Bazrir took note of his lengthy, whitening hair as well as his bizarre, skin-tight clothes from his glory days as a renowned musician. Vanhalin must have been about sixty, but he still went into the back to get what he was certain would be perfect for Bazrir. He came back with an ornately decorated music box; it was lined with a pattern of men holding hands with women. "Ah, yes, this old thing should work just right, but we'll have to make sure it works. You make sure that you tell me if it ever breaks down on you." He cranked the music box, and it began to play a wondrous melody.

"It's perfect, but how much is it?" Bazrir queried.

Vanhalin responded pleasantly, "Music boxes haven't sold for a while, so I'll cut you a deal. Give me five hundred gold and it'll be yours."

"Just five hundred for such a wondrous piece of art? You are truly a kindred soul," Bazrir replied with abundant glee in his voice, and he handed over a small satchel of gold coins. He grabbed the music box afterwards and started to leave the shop. As he exited, he told Vanhalin, "Please, keep what change there is. You have been most kind."

Bazrir returned to his new little house with the music box in his hands. "Jalise, I have a little gift that I think you'll like," Bazrir called lovingly as soon as he entered. He set the set the music box down on an end table in the living room and cranked it.

The memory quickly changed to their honeymoon at the beach east of the Sandsea; there were Bazrir and Jalise on a boat out on the water. It was a small sailboat meant for two, and they planned to sail about the coast to enjoy the beautiful landscape. Their days on the water were calm. The wind wasn't too strong, nor were the waters lashing about too roughly. At some point during this time, Bazrir knew that he had said, "A lonely life behind me, oh, what a change you've made."

As the days went on, the ocean grew more violent. Perhaps the Water Lord was angry with them, none could say for sure. Bazrir suggested that they stay out of the water until it stops raging. They stayed on the coast for a few days, but Jalise was starting to look sick. She had a high fever and was beginning to cough up blood; it was a serious case of pneumonia. It seemed certain that it would not bode well for her; they were sure that there were no healers or alchemists nearby. The Sandsea was miles away, but it was their only hope to stay together. Their hired means of transport would not be back for at least another week.

Bazrir picked Jalise up from the little mat that he had made for her. It was going to be life-threatening for both of them, but Bazrir was going to carry her through the Sandsea into the city. He had shed a tear to the thought of seeing her die; he refused to see her die so soon. He was in the same sand-colored robes that he wore even now. Jalise was getting quite pale, so Bazrir would need to hurry.

The sands seemed endless, sprawling every direction for miles on end. On the very edge of the western horizon, Bazrir could barely see the tip of a temple dedicated to the Lady of Light. He traveled towards it in the hopes that he'd come across a group of nomadic Sand Elves. It seemed that Bazrir would not have such fortune, but this would not deter him. He was grasping at straws and knew it all too well.

It was the third night of this trek; Bazrir set up camp for them. Jalise's fever was very close to being deadly in its own right, and she had lost at least a quart of blood from her coughing. Bazrir was able to get the tent and bedrolls set up. As he took Jalise in his arms once more, he told her, "It shouldn't be much longer until we reach the city, dear. I've been doing my best, but maybe that just isn't enough?" Bazrir couldn't stand the thought that he said such a terrible thing to Jalise. She never deserved this, she never did, Bazrir said to himself.

In the following morning, Bazrir got up to begin the journey yet again. He felt her body only to find that it was very cold, and he tried some gentle motions to wake her if she was sleeping. They didn't work; he realized that she was dead. Bazrir was brought down to his knees, crying. Tears fell from his face onto her bedroll. No matter how he tried, he couldn't hold back his weeping. His eyes ached when he physically was unable to grieve anymore. Grief overwhelmed Bazrir's entire being.

Despite all of this, Bazrir continued on to the city with Jalise's corpse in his arms after hours of lamenting without end. Close to sunset, a small tribe of Sand Elves had met with Bazrir. They had helped him bury Jalise and get to the city. After she was given proper respects, he left the Sand Elves and journeyed off into the desert alone. He could not stand the idea of a world without Jalise, so he would have to dedicate his life to her return.

Bazrir found himself shaking viciously in the hammock when he awoke. What faint memories I have continue to haunt me, he reflected coldly. He contemplated in his head, I have been doing what I can, is this still not good enough?

The sunstone tipped staff that Szayan rested in was placed inside of a staff rack; it had a lock so that any items fixed into it couldn't easily fall out. They would usually remain there until the owner or a servant undid the locks and took the cane or staff back into their possession. Szayan gazed at the dreaming Bazrir, and he thought back on why they met. He wanted to recall exactly why he got into Myodei's service; he allowed the memories to flow.

Szayan's superior in the Plane of Light would use the light elemental as a postman for him. Most of the letters that Szayan delivered pertained to the behaviors of unruly followers of the Lord of Darkness, as his superior was a renown Light Sentinel. In one of them, the Sentinel had demanded for more Sun-Eaters and Light Demons, for he was running out of troops and desperately needed reinforcements against the assailing Night Horrors. Szayan actually knew little of what went on in that battle, since he never dared anger or question his master. He would rather not face the Sentinel's wrath over something that didn't really pertain him.

At some point during his service under the Light Sentinel, Szayan was traversing his elemental plane at blinding speeds when he had abruptly vanished from the Plane of Light. It took him a second to realize that he was being summoned elsewhere, and he would have to serve those that called for him. This was a new experience for Szayan, as he was never summoned prior to this moment. It was something to be proud of; someone needed his particular talents.

There was a large burst of light within a leathery tent; some of the Yenghal people burst in to make sure that their shaman was safe. The two guards that came in wore light, tan robes that covered their whole body. They had long bands of cloth that served as a headdress and scarf. They both wielded khopeshes and carried a sheathed falx on their belt if they ever needed it. "Shaman, are you alright?" One of the guards quickly asked. After a short pause, he continued, "What was that burst of light?"

"I am fine, Hekar," The shaman answered, "As for the burst of light, it was the answer to my call for help. We've been blessed by the presence of one of the agents of the Lady of Light." She wore robes akin to the male guards, but they were more fit to her light build. She wore a cloth that hung from her ears to protect her mouth and nose from the sands during a sandstorm, but one could still see her long, black hair that went down to the middle of her back. In her hands, she held a beautiful wooden staff decorated with harpy feathers and tipped with a sunstone.

Szayan showed hints of confusion as to why he was pulled from his duties in the Plane of Light before he asked, "Why have I been summoned, people of the desert? My superior will be most displeased if it is anything short of great importance, and I prefer to not anger him."

"You wish to know why we need you? I suppose that it is a fair question, so I shall answer it," The shaman started, "We are the Yenghal of the Skraeling Desert, and we have long settled the oases of this place. In recent times, the Lord of Water has been gracious to us. She has provided us with a great pool of water in a dry land, but this angered the Lord of Energy. His minions have been attacking our settlement in ever increasing numbers. They are determined to call this place their own. Jagos refuses to assist us, as it is not his duty. The sentinel of this oasis, Nalu, cannot hold them all off on her lonesome. In our desperation, the leader of our settlement has asked that I call for the assistance of an elemental. That elemental is you. Do you understand?"

Szayan absorbed this information well. "I know not who Jagos or Nalu are, but I comprehend what you have stated," Szayan answered. He continued, "Why do the minions of the Lord of Energy attack you though? Why are they so determined to claim this particular oasis? Is such information beyond the bounds of my summoning?"

The shaman replied, "You hold many questions for an elemental, but they are indeed overextending the rules that are set upon you by this calling. I do apologize for that, elemental, so I will ask, what is your name?"

"I am Szayan," The being made of light answered.

"You may see the havoc wreaked on our settlement as well as do your best to stop it then, Szayan," The shaman responded, "I am Vikara if you wanted to know who summoned you."

Szayan exited the salamander hide hut. There were shelters reduced to ashes by the lightning breath of Energy Dragons. The outskirts of the settlement were hit the hardest by the minions of the Lord of Energy, so they had shown the most damage. This was one of the breaks from the assaults; Szayan noted the Yenghals using the water conservatively to irrigate their crops and vegetation. They did not abuse their gift, and they had only called upon Szayan due to necessity. Szayan thought, Perhaps these people are different. Maybe they only wish to survive...

The people of the tribe began to notice the incredibly bright figure that was Szayan; they stared with awe and curiosity. They probably hadn't seen an elemental, other than Nalu, before in their lives. Vikara attempted to calm them, "Ease yourselves, fellows. This is Szayan, and he is an elemental that is supposed to help us!"

"This is all that we have received to protect us, a mere light elemental?" One of the people in the crowd asked with an unappreciative tone.

"Did you expect your shaman to summon an army?" Szayan called him out, "Do you not know the dangers of summoning? She has risked enough to call me here, for she could have grabbed the attention of some that are less willing to defend you, perhaps even an elemental that would reclaim the Well for themselves."

"As we're being assaulted by a dragon and its minions, yes, yes, I did, and even if it would cost our lives, I would rather have the feeling of security than my life to be in the hands of one blasted elemental," The man spoke out ungratefully.

Szayan inquired him for certainty, "A dragon, you say?" Szayan had noticed a large, winged, and yellow creature far off in the distance of the desert a little bit ago. It seemed to be accompanied by a small horde, so he could now easily presume that this was the assaulter. He was going to prove his worth.

The man had blinked, and Szayan was gone. The man queried, "Where in the name of the Lords did he go? He just disappeared!"

Far off in the distance, one could barely see a speck of light that was standing up to an oncoming horde of creatures of Energy. There were Thunderbirds, Lectros, EnergyZards, Briglings, Energy Mantiks, and even a Zzzzzzott. Szayan was in front of the leader of this pack, an Energy Dragon. "Get out of my way, or I will destroy you!" Szayan concentrated for a few seconds while he lazily raised his hand. Uvee erupted forth knocking the dragon and those behind him back. "You're a mage then? You're going to let this pathetic, little thing do your dirty work? Answer me! By the name of the Lord of Energy, you shall answer me!"

Szayan replied, "You shall not bother the Yenghal people so long as I defend them. Leave now, dragon, before I must end you and your minions. Am I understood?" Before the dragon could respond, Szayan flashed over to one of his young Energy Dragons. He called a small storm of light shards that punctured multiple parts of its body; it was beginning to bleed profusely.

"You...you would dare to strike at one of my dragons? I..." The dragon was at a loss for words. Uvee remained in front of the dragon if he decided to strike.

Szayan asked again, "Am I understood?"

"Just you wait, light elemental..." The Energy Dragon ended ominously as he and his horde retreated.

"Thank for your service, Uvee," Szayan stated, "You have always been there for me whenever I needed you." Uvee quickly faded back into the Plane of Light after Szayan finished.

In another blink, Szayan was back in the settlement. "I went to stop the small army that would have otherwise laid waste to this settlement," Szayan answered the ungrateful man. "I wish to see more of this place," He stated shortly afterward in the otherwise silent space.

Vikara queried, "Do you wish to see Nalu? Or is it truly this town that you wish to see? Perhaps it is both?"

"It is indeed both," Szayan answered, "However I wish to meet Nalu first."

"Follow me, Szayan," Vikara replied. The tan, robed woman led Szayan to the deep pool of water. "This is the Well of the Water Lord's Tears," Vikara began, "The namesake of this spring is why the Lord of Energy's minions wish to claim this area. They do not wish for any to use the Tears. I can only imagine that it is involved in their silly war."

A large being made of water rose from the pool; this was the Sentinel Nalu. Waves rippled through her form; water dripped from her fingertips and hair. Small whirlpools made for her eyes, and she lacked a visible mouth. Her form was akin to that of a female humanoid until a bit below the hips, where her liquid body merged with that of the well. She asked most curiously, "Is this the elemental called to protect the civilization that you have surrounding my Lord's Well? Are you Szayan, light elemental?"

"I am," Szayan answered. He continued, "And are you Nalu, Sentinel of the Lord of Water?"

"That is correct," Nalu replied.

"It is funny. I leave the service of a Sentinel, only to find myself in the service of another," Szayan stated.

Szayan seemed to have whisked away; he had fully become light as he raced towards the nearest light source to hole up in. He had practically instantaneously found himself inside of the sunstone that tipped Vikara's staff. It came to be an experience that he grown very acquainted to. Inside the sunstone, Szayan would reflect on his old life. He was glad to have left the demeaning service of the Light Sentinel, but he could not remember anything prior to it. He would occasionally look into the mind of Vikara, and Szayan would find memories of the town. There were tanneries, stables, farms, and many other things that Szayan could not recall.

Weeks went on to months as the same scenes repeated themselves; the Energy Dragon would always retreat. Szayan hadn't realized that the Energy Dragon had learned about his need to rest in a light source. The events were minute by minute happening earlier in the day. The horde that followed the Energy Dragon had also dwindled with the passing of time; morale dropped exponentially with each failed attempt. The Energy Dragon had to convince them that he knew exactly what he was doing. After many failures, the Energy Dragon had went on his own hours before the pattern would have suggested, since Szayan had picked up on the dragon's method. Szayan would still be resting for another hour before he could appear again.

Szayan noticed that he couldn't link with Vikara anymore, but he couldn't tell if it was from her placing the staff away or her death. When he was finally able to manifest, Szayan found that the town was purely ashes. What few survivors that there were must have fled from the scene. The things behind the attack were nowhere to be found. Szayan rifled through all of the remains to look for someone still alive, but he had only managed to find corpses of people that he was growing fond of. Under the remnants of the hut that he had been summoned in, Szayan found Vikara's dead body. She had burn marks throughout her entire body.

Szayan had worked to give them all a proper burial, but the Energy Dragon would return soon. Szayan had then noted a figure in sand-colored robes that was in the horizon. The light elemental speculated, Who could that be? I can only hope that it was a survivor of this atrocity. Szayan found himself in front of the person in a second, but Szayan had carried Vikara's Staff in his hand this time. Szayan desperately plead to him, "Are you a survivor from the Well? Who are you? Please answer me... please."

The robed man answered, "The Well of the Water Lord's Tears? No, I had wanted to go there actually. What has happened?"

Szayan looked at him, "Tell me who you are and I shall reveal what I think had occurred."

"I am Bazrir, but who are you?" Bazrir replied.

The light elemental returned sorrowfully, "I am Szayan, and I had protected the Well from an Energy Dragon and its minions for months, perhaps a year by now. I had been unable to manifest for quite some time when an attack happened. The entire place is nothing more than a pool and ashes. I do not know if any of the Yenghal people survived the ordeal." Szayan returned to the sunstone in the staff, and Bazrir picked the wooden rod out of curiosity. The two had grown a bond from then on, as Szayan learned of Bazrir and vice versa.

Bazrir had then noticed that there was a small group nearby. One of them appeared to be on fire, and another seemed to be made of water. They appeared to be looking for something, and they had seen Bazrir. "Who are you?" Bazrir asked the four entities.

The one in light gray robes responded, "I am Myodei. Those that are with me are Veqwei, Zynaer, and Dyjhal. We've been looking for one of the wiser Cyclopes tribes, as I hear that they have collections of Light Orbs. I needed a companion of Light, would you somehow know one by chance, lich?"

"I do," Bazrir remarked, "His name is Szayan, and he is here now, technically."

Myodei queried, "He is? Where is he?"

Bazrir replied, "He rests in the sunstone in my staff." He showed Myodei the staff that still had some of the Harpy feathers.

Dyjhal broke away from Bazrir and Myodei and headed for his personal chamber on the Braken's Bane. He locked the door behind him; he did not wish to be disturbed during his meditation. He placed his glaive into the staff holder and locked it in place. The energy elemental sat beneath the hammock with his legs crossed over each other in a full lotus style. His mind flooded with memories and knowledge, but he was going to focus on one particular event. Dyjhal stated woefully, "Why did the Lord of Energy betray my faith? Why did he need that part of the desert?"

Dyjhal was a faithful servant of the Lord of Energy for a long time; he knew the words of the Lord of Energy as well as himself. He would listen to every command of his Lord through his superior, Xalvyk. Dyjhal had never met the Lord of Energy physically or personally, but he held his belief to his Elemental Lord wholeheartedly. The energy elemental was certain that his Lord was just in his every action, which were all decided upon with rightful meditation on it. He believed that his lord knew Dyjhal before he had. The energy elemental was often sent to defend places being assaulted by his enemies, and Dyjhal would call lightning storms alongside the blade of his glaive to protect the wealth of his deity. He had done all of this in knowing that it was the right thing to do. He had a sentence that he would commonly use, "When one sees solely what is before them, they know only a fragment of the whole. The Lord of Energy knows this in his great wisdom."

There was a large fire dragon descending upon Thunder Mountain with his massive following. The creatures within the horde were impossible to actively discern. Djyhal and another dragon, a blue energy one with large metallic horns, watched the army swarm towards them close to the smokey, dragon-shaped peak of the mount. Their own forces awaited them at the base of the mountain. "They will come upon us soon," The dragon sighed, "But they will get no victory from us, will they?"

"Krenos, it is the will of our lord that you retain the rule of this mountain," Dyjhal responded, "By the will of his wisdom, I have endured. In enduring, I have grown strong. I ask that you watch the glory of his might." He crossed his legs into the full lotus style. He focused his thoughts on his certainty of the justness of the Energy Lord. He remembered storms called to strike down the treacherous; lightning to smite the merciless warrior. These were the mannerisms of his lord. Remain vigilant then strike at the moment of certainty. My wrath is only for the criminal, the killer, and the merciless fighter. They are the merciless soldiers of the fire dragon of Smoke Mountain. It is for this reason that they will face the storm of the Energy Lord, and it is in this absolution that I have and shall fight for him.

Black clouds manifested over the fiery creatures; they began to blot out the sky. The minions of the fire dragon as well as the reptile himself had noticed the sudden change, but it was too late for them. Lightning struck to and fro, and the sound of thunder burst as it followed each of them. Small groups of clustered foes would all be struck by a single, jagged bolt. The dragon had managed to flee without being struck down. Many of his servants had not been so fortunate. The servants of Krenos used this opportunity to retaliate with great ferocity. They slashed and cut away at the dazed soldiers of the fire dragon. The clouds cleared, and Solaris was quite visible once more. There were now a large amount of corpses of the Energy and Fire Dragon's Armies, but it was difficult for Dyjhal to see what exactly happened.

"This is the power of one," Dyjhal stated, "Do you understand, Krenos?"

"You do mean an individual?" Krenos asked unsure of what the energy elemental meant.

Dyjhal answered patiently, "No, I mean faith and existence. In me, they are one rather than two. I know that in my faith to the Lord of Energy that I find reason to exist. Never has he stirred me wrong."

"What will happen when he has?" Krenos inquired curiously, "How would one that is so faithful handle such doubt?"

"I... I had never thought about it," The energy elemental replied with unease. Dyjhal questioned himself inside, Have I allowed myself to be blinded by unyielding faith? How is it that I allowed this? After a momentary pause, Dyjhal continued, "I... I thank you for your wisdom, great Krenos. I shall return to the Plane of Energy with your words in mind. I... I must meditate on them, unless I am called elsewhere."

A small burst of electricity enveloped Dyjhal, and he returned to the home of his lord. He had far more uncertainties with him than ever before. Lightning coursed throughout the entirety of the plane. For mortal eyes, the surges of white, violet, and blue would be blinding at the least. Xalvyk stood before him and declared, "Dyjhal, you are to be sent to the Skraeling Desert. You are to be assisting a force that is preparing to claim a wellspring there. You will likely find some resistance, but they are not to be handled with lightly. This is the request of the Lord of Energy. As his faithful servants, we shall obey. Will you not fulfill your task?"

"I am being sent on the offensive front, sir?" Dyjhal inquired and remarked, "I only have known the act of defending the relics of our lord, Xalvyk. Why would he change my role in battles like this?"

Xalvyk answered impatiently, "I do not have the time for this debate, Dyjhal. I have many other elementals to attend to, so let's cut this short. I do not know why our lord has done this, but he has requested that you assist in the offensive in this war. You are not to deny him. Do you understand that?"

Dyjhal reluctantly sighed, "Yes, Xalvyk. I shall go, bless the Lord of Energy." A portal opened by the will of the Zarlath, and Dyjhal entered it.

Surrounding Dyjhal, there were all kinds of creatures of his element. There were bipedal reptiles with yellow fur; they were supposed to power the Energy Lord's weapon forges. They were alongside yellow-orange, ostrich-like birds with lightning coursing around their eyes. Nearby were brown, spherical creatures with inner yellow glows; they were covered in spines. Two tentacles grew out of their mouths, and each ended with two appendages. There were dark yellow insects that had lightning-like regions of their chitinous exoskeleton that were light blue. Their upper arms were predatory limbs; there was an arm that ended with three fingers underneath both of them. The mantiks' legs had three parts and ended with three-toed hooves. There were even some blue spheres filled with electricity; three tentacles flailed about beneath its main body.

At the head of this horde was a large, bright yellow, and winged reptile; its bat-like wings lazily fluttered up and down. The immense body of the dragon was covered in a cohesive, leathery cover rather than reptilian scales. Jagged teeth lined its mouth; the reptile's upper and lower jaws ended at a fine point. The creature's nostrils were close to the end of the upper jaw and barely above its wicked fangs. The dragon had red eyes, and its mane of horns began over the reptile's oculars and decreased in size as they descended the upper jaw. The dragon's neck was almost as tall as its lower body and swerved back from its initial upward angle. Its forelegs connected to the dragon's scapula, which was oddly shaped to allow for its unusual placement of wings. The forelegs ended in paws that had three toes in the front alongside one in the back. The hind legs' heels were elevated from the ground, and most of the pressure went through the hind legs' three toes.

The dragon hissed, "The Lord of Energy has graced us with one of his personal servants?"

"No, I am a soldier of a Zarlath, Xalvyk," The energy elemental replied, "As for me, I am Dyjhal."

The reptile gleefully stated, "A warrior of a sub-lord is still a force to be reckoned with. The Yenghal people will not stand a chance against our might or will they, Dyjhal?"

"Can you answer as to what the Yenghal people have done to wrong our Lord of Energy?" Dyjhal queried.

The dragon answered, "They have settled something that we are to claim. We need no more reason than that to end them."

"Perhaps you don't, but I do," Dyjhal remarked and continued, "I will not kill anyone unless I know what their crimes truly are or unless they will have it no other way."

The winged creature roared, "I know that they will not surrender their best means of living to us by choice. It is because of this unwillingness they will be destroyed, Dyjhal. I will not debate beyond this with you. You will join my ranks or abandon the Lord of Energy. It is your choice, warrior."

"Why does the Lord of Energy desire this wellspring so much then?" Dyjhal inquired, "What is it that is more important than the lives of those people? Do you know why you are attacking this oasis, dragon?"

The dragon mocked the energy elemental, "I know the commands of the Lord of Energy, and his wants are none of my concern."

In Dyjhal's attempt to remain a moral being, he had challenged the dragon's point with Dyjhal once used to defend the Energy Lord. He stated it solemnly, "When one sees solely what is before them, they know only a fragment of the whole. In your complacency to the Lord of Energy, have you grown blind? You are willing to needlessly kill innocent people to please him?"

The dragon was furious, "I was told to claim the Well of the Water Lord's Tears by any means necessary, but you refuse to accept this. So do you truly know your precious lord? Have you blinded yourself in your ideals that you and your lord had to be in the right? Do you even begin to comprehend the war that the Elemental Lords are waging?"

Dyjhal was at a loss for words at the devaluing of his points. He could not muster a response to any of them, as he had never questioned his faith before. Dyjhal doubted his faith and equally so for his own existence, but the two were one initially. They had been split. He mumbled to himself, "From one, there are now two. Neither of them compare to the focus of one; they do not know themselves anymore. The one will never be restored, so the two must come to know themselves. In knowing their selves, they will grow strong. In their strength, they will work under one will."

"What are you mumbling about now?" The dragon queried furiously.

Dyjhal did not answer him; he simply stood there. The words of Krenos and the behavior of this dragon had broke a fighter that had never faced such questions before. He did not know the Energy Lord anymore; all the praises that he had given to his lord were lost in meaning to him. His words were no longer his, as he did not know them. Dyjhal no longer understood why he had killed countless people that opposed his lord. He remained in this motionless state for weeks, but he could not come to an acceptable conclusion to leave his lifeless condition. He could not soundly defend the reasoning behind the Lord of Energy's declaration to take the Well of the Water Lord's Tears, even if it required the destruction of the Yenghal people. Dyjhal thought that it might not have actually been his words. It had only left Dyjhal with this question, Why would Xalvyk lie to him?

A watery, fiery, and robed figure neared the statue-like Dyjhal. The robed figure raised his brow, "What ails you, elemental?"

Dyjhal answered quickly, "My faith and reason for existence are broken. That is what ails me." As soon as he finished speaking, the energy elemental returned to the exact position that he was in before. It was almost as though he had never moved.

"Why has your belief and desire for life been shattered?" Myodei queried.

Dyjhal replied depressingly, "My lord has been unjust, but I have come to this revelation too late. I was blinded by my faith to atrocities that he would command to happen."

"Many things are unjust, but these should raise you to act, not stand idly by," Myodei stated.

The energy elemental was surprised by these words, "You're right. I have been a fool to allow this to take hold of me. I may not know myself yet, but I will work towards it once more. Who are you, if I may ask?"

"I am Myodei, and I have been abandoned by my lord as well," Myodei answered.

Dyjhal was pleased by this. He sounded more pleasant as he declared, "I am Dyjhal. You have done me a great service, so I am in your debt, Myodei. What would you have me do to repay you?"

"I would have you do nothing, but you may choose to help me if you so desire," Myodei responded, "I wish for there to be a better place for elementals that have come to not grovel the whims of the Elemental Lords. I desire for elementals with misdoings to find redemption for themselves. Would you want to help me in this, Dyjhal?"

"I will gladly support you, Myodei," Dyjhal replied, "In assisting you, perhaps I will come to know myself again. The two will work under one will until then, for the inaction of the two has led to far too many deaths. I will let nothing blind me from the whole ever again, as it will always end in disaster." The energy elemental did not know how long that he was in this stasis when they began for the Well of the Water Lord's Tears. Dyjhal noticed a figure in the distance, but he was hard to discern from the sands.

The figure called out in the distance, "Who are you?"

Myodei answered him, "I am Myodei. Those that are with me are Veqwei, Zynaer, and Dyjhal. We've been looking for one of the wiser Cyclopes tribes, as I hear that they have collections of Light Orbs. I needed a companion of Light, would you somehow know one by chance, lich?" One could barely see his rotting face.

"I do," He replied, "His name is Szayan, and he is here now, technically."

"He is? Where is he?" Myodei had a look of uncertainty; he might have thought that the lich was insane. It did leave one to wonder where a Light Elemental would be hiding.

The lich answered, "He rests in the sunstone in my staff." He allowed us to look at his staff that was decorated with some pink and yellow feathers, likely from a Harpy.

The memory fizzled and recollected itself at a later point in time. Dyjhal was looking at the magnificent form of Szayan; he was light in the shape of a human. He told the light elemental remorsefully, "In your actions, you had done your best to stop this travesty. In my inaction, I allowed this atrocity. It is more of my fault than yours, and I will forever hold this burden."

< Message edited by Razen -- 3/22/2014 14:38:57 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 10
8/16/2013 21:48:50   

Chapter 10: An Elf in Gorraran and Demons in Deren

"I'll take my leave of you, Razen," Zayn stated, "It has been an enjoyable ride, but I must attend to my belated duties." The venerable Theemis placed a great amount of emphasis on the overdue nature of his tasks, as he has squandered his time. He prepared his wings for flight. He squawked before leaving them, "This is without including the fact that Medlag went his own way already. He was probably the most entertaining." Zayn wasn't flying particularly high, but Gorraran was not designed with flying creatures in mind.

Shortly following Zayn's words, Miar, Azaila, and I looked around as we hadn't noticed that Medlag slipped away. "Where in the Lords did that blasted Dwarf go?" Miar queried to no one in particular.

"Let's not focus on his disappearance, Miar," I responded, "As I am far more curious on what all were you referring to during your argument with Myodei. What aren't you telling me?" I wasn't going to dare question him on why I should trust him over Myodei.

Miar had a short expression of worry and a small speck of sweat on his brow. He had covered it quickly with a pleasant smirk. "I can allow you to consult with Kyrei, Belrik, and Varil over the situation," Miar replied, "I'd imagine that they are more knowledgeable about it than me, seeing as they were there."

I looked Miar in the eyes, "Did you bind them to your will like Myodei said?"

He had countered my gaze and firmly stated, "No. I would never do such a terrible thing, but we should discuss this in a more private location. Should we go to one of the taverns perhaps? I've heard that the Dragon's Keg is a fine establishment."

"Medlag talked well about it, didn't he?" Azaila inquired, "I know that he spoke of it before."

Miar rolled his eyes, "Did he? I suppose that he could have good taste in his inns. He was probably one of the Dwarves that spent their free time in the pub anyways."

"Do you have to badmouth him at any possible chance?" Azaila queried.

He snapped in retaliation, "I am only making sure that you realize that he is a foolish, old drunkard. You don't need some buffoon make you think that the world is all happiness and sunshine. It is fortunate for you two that you have me. I wouldn't want to imagine what silly things that you'd do without some anchor to reality, but we have discussed this enough. We might as get a room there as soon as we can." Miar scanned for the sign of the Dragon's Keg. He saw that most of the businesses were designated by their wooden signs, and he noted one carving that depicted a dragon with its claw over a keg. "There it is," He stated as he pointed at the intricate carving of the winged reptile and its beverage.

As we passed them on the way to the Dragon's Keg, I noticed that many of the shops and stands were closed and unmanned. The luminite shield was still visible under the cover of a cloth hung over the stand; the slightest specks of the bright yellow metal stood out from the dusty, brown tarp. Such a beautiful sight and left unattended, I commented to myself, It would be so easy to take... No. I need to get a hold on it, but it is so dazzling...

I slowed down and let Miar and Azaila take the lead. As they entered the Dragon's Keg, I went back to the unattended merchant stall that held the luminite shield. I looked around me; there was no one around in sight. I opened my leather pack by undoing an interlocking setup of buttons. I swiped the shield and quickly stuffed it in my pack. With the shield in my possession, I started back for the Dragon's Keg.

The tavern was filled with tired sots of Dwaves, yet there were still some of out the norm guests. There was an orc that sat near the bartender; I couldn't tell why he was in Gorraran or what he did for a living. Miar had reserved a table in the back corner, where he sat with Azaila waiting for me to turn up. "Ah, the man of the hour," Miar declared as he began to clap, "I was wondering when you'd get back from... Where was it that you wandered off to?" Azaila nudged Miar to stop mocking me, but he denied her request. "Azaila, do you want for your brother to just disappear without a word of where he went?" Miar stated, "I thought not."

"Miar, if you must know, I had went to the market to get something that we had forgotten to pick up earlier," I answered, defending my absence, "It was tough to find a stall that was still open this late into the evening."

"Was it?" Miar inquired. In a few seconds, he saw that his and Azaila's tankards were empty. "Eh, barkeep, we need three Spellberry juices over here!" I seated myself next to Azaila in the round couch that rested in the corner of the tavern. A Dwarven barmaid came towards us holding a platter with three tankards filled with Spellberry juice.

"Your juices, sir," She said with a kind demeanor. Miar winked at her as he handed her some gold coins literally under the table. "Of course, sir," She responded to the gesture. I hadn't been able to notice it, since he was the closest to her. She pocketed the excess coins and went to the back of the tavern. Miar had a pleasant expression strewn across his face, and it was impossible to know why.

"Don't worry, Razen," Miar spoke softly, "I was just tipping her to gain some friends here. It's always good to have the establishment on your side. That's just a life lesson. You're more interested in Myodei, right?"

"Of course, Miar, that's why we're here and why we're in such company," I answered.

Miar replied, "Let's go upstairs after we're through here then." He grabbed his tankard and take a long sip from it. He savored its fruity flavor. "Ah, the savory taste of the Moglin Spellberry brew," The elf stated, "I will give that Dwarves can make a fine beverage, even if they didn't invent it. I wonder how they got the recipe." Some of the fizz from the pink drink remained in the flagon. Miar felt more magically capable; perhaps his spells were simply more potent from the magical fruit. He swirled the remnants about before he laid the cup back down onto the table. "I'm ready, so I'll be waiting for you two," He announced with a tranquil tone and got up from the round couch. He walked towards the stairs to their room. Azaila took a similar sip; she was seeing how it tasted. She quickly drank the pink beverage. I followed suit. The aftertaste was quite refreshing and left me with a clear mind.

Azaila and I got up from the round couch. A pair of the Dwarves was talking lowly to each other while eyeing Azaila. In another corner, there was an armored Dwarf or Gnome and a Lightning Giant in robes; it was impossible to tell which race that the warrior belonged to. His armor was covered in vulgarities and profanities. He eyed us with a different expression than that of the two aged, googly-eyed Dwarves. I couldn't tell what he was after as most of his face was shielded by his Dwarvish helmet. The Lightning Giant seemed playful in nature, and I wondered if he could comprehend reality. He seemed to drift in and out of consciousness and would shout out random things at times.

Azaila ignored the creepy, old Dwarves that just happened to be miners as well as the mercenaries in the opposite corner. I tried to take notice of what I could from the tavern, but the majority of the patrons didn't stand out too much. The floor and stairs were wooden, and the walls were stone. There was a light draft near the stairs. Azaila nudged me to get my attention. "It's the last room on the right," She stated and then moved in to whisper, "And I, I'm not sure of what to think of with Miar. He seems so different from Galvin or Zaz', but I don't know what to think about him. I don't know who we should or even can trust."

I confided in turn, "Azaila, Myodei isn't going to inform us of what happened. Miar is the most versed person that we know on the matter, so we should trust him if not just for that. We'll also be talking to some of our ancestors if Miar was telling the truth."

"I suppose that you're right," Azaila replied softly. She proceeded to twist the bronze doorknob, and the wooden door squeaked as it moved ever so slowly. Miar raised his eyebrow as he turned over to look at the door. He was sitting at the ironwood table in a cushioned chair. There was a sky charm, box, and a folded cloth on the table; the charms were a common means of bolstering wind magic. It was an unusual thing for a necromancer to carry, but Miar had stated that he used the element Wind rather than the norm of Darkness.

"Ah, you're done downstairs then, I presume?" He queried with his hand on the talisman. He seemed to have relieved himself from the anger that wanted to wash over him when he was arguing with Myodei. Azaila and I nodded. We hadn't noticed that Miar's tattoo of a spirit on his right cheek was glowing far more than normal. "Let's not waste time then," He stated in a calm and otherwise ordinary tone after he noted out agreeing with his inquiry. He continued, "I have the charm that we'll need with me, but the ritual is not pleasant on the senses. The smell will be the least jarring part of the experience. Are you absolutely certain that you want to proceed with this?"

I raised my eyebrow in response and asked curiously, "How is it that the smell is the most comforting part of it?" He continued to fiddle with the sky charm in his fingers; his index finger would tap it every few seconds.

"Do you really wish to know?" He replied with intrigue abound in his tone.

I sighed, "I suppose so." Miar pulled out a small skull amulet. I couldn't tell what creature that the skull belonged to. It only had a few of its teeth; most of them looked like they were pulled off. He grasped one of its molars and pulled it out. He then reached into a wooden box on the table. It was a small, sharp knife that was stained with blood. There were some faded markings on the blade. It had no hilt; its handle was merely leather wrapped around a cylindrical ending of the weapon. He carefully grabbed the blade end of it and handed it to me.

"It requires the blood of one of the desired dead's lineage," Miar stated, "It only requires a few drops on that molar."

"What is the molar from?" I inquired with a disgusted expression.

Miar answered, "It's a Dark Djinni's skull. They're demons that serve wielders of Darkness Orbs. I've heard that they can grant wishes, but that is probably just an old wives' tale due to the power of any tenebromancer with such a powerful object in their possession. You certainly don't want to fight with the devilish things. Their bones do happen to make wondrous reagents for any necromancer that is worthwhile."

"Alright... And why are we using that for just a counsel?" I queried while maintaining my grimace.

Miar responded, "The ritual to pull a soul from Death's Domain requires a base reagent, and this is what I have chosen. It was a good choice." I did not verbally reply, but I had pricked my left index finger. Miar placed the molar beneath the tiny cut, and my blood began to drop on the pulled tooth. The sanguine liquid splatted on the enamel of the demon's fang; it was coating it in the dark red fluid. "Good," Miar stated as he put the bloodied tooth down onto the table. He grabbed the folded cloth, unfolded it, and placed it on the wooden floor of the room. The fabric was marked with chalk. There was an arcane script surrounding a triangle that was inscribed in a circle. The triangle was circumscribed by another circle.

Miar removed his hands from the cloth and grabbed the reddened molar. He placed it on the center of the cloth and began to chant, "Morte vitae comunicatum." A shrill screech thundered in our ears, and it was only followed by an increasing number of phantasmal shrieks. All manners of voices were in this demented parody of a chorus; there were the cries of a baby or child alongside screams of torment and defeat from all manner of people. One of them sounded like they were pleading with their brother. It was ear-splitting and terrifying simultaneously. The voices felt like they were tearing away at one's skull. It drove me and Azaila to tears as we winced from the pain. Miar must have grown resistant to the torture, for he showed little to no shows of anguish. Oddly enough, he seemed woeful at the plea of a dying brother.

We were surrounded by a circular wall of spirits; they were all indistinguishable as they swirled around us. The phantoms that made the encasement seemed to only writhe in agony; it seemed as though they did not realize that we existed. The tattoo of a spirit on Miar's right cheek looked like it was biting into his flesh. He stated coldly, "Kyrei, nhi stregum vista." The majority of the phantasms dissipated, but there was one that now stood still. Their departure had allowed for the mental anguish to cease fortunately, and the screams had finally stopped altogether.

The apparition looked like a middle-aged man with medium hair in studded leather armor. His face was gruff and bore some scars from his adventures in life. His eyes suggested that he was blind by the end of his life. His hair and eye color were indeterminable. The spirit broke the silence from his appearance, "What do you want this time, Miar? I have already told you all that I know about Myodei and his companions, and, wait, are you being accompanied by my descendants? By the Elemental Lords, how did you manage that?"

The Braken's Bane had finally come to a halt; the anchor began its descent to the ocean floor. A loud crunch signified that it was nestled in well enough. The captain, Shaemin Hovarion, sat behind a desk in his chamber with a map drawn out. It showed the Middle Isles, Battleonia, Deren, Tjeli, Neld, Inilar, Vandar, and Paxia as well as Dragonclaw, Gatta, and Bronwyn Island. It was an excellent and up to date map; it was to be expected of such a high caliber of ship. To Shaemin's right, there was a quill and bottle of ink. Throughout the Great Sea, there were small marks in the shape of an X. The captain sighed, "No sign of it yet."

Shaemin wore a black, tricorne hat with a gold trim. Under the brim of the hat and his salt and pepper hair, he had cold, hazel eyes. He had a beard that went down to his stomach. His shoulders were protected by gold epaulettes that were a part of his black, frock coat. The jacket covered the sides of his white, collared, and buttoned doublet. The cuffs were laced with glided lining that held gilt buttons inside their confines. The bottom of his overcoat met with the end of his breeches and the beginning of his stockings. His ebony shoes were held by a golden buckle.

He backed from the desk and stood up from his chair. He was making his way to the main deck. He twisted the iron doorknob. The bright light of Solaris tried to shine in his dim quarters as the door opened. "Do our passengers know that we have reached Deren?" Shaemin declared.

"No, captain, they're still resting in their chambers," The first mate answered.

Hovarion responded, "Get one of these blasted deck hands to awake them. It's time for us to rest, boys. Maybe after we lug them to Talados and back to Krovesport, we can get back to our search. It's been five years since I've seen that creature, but I'll not stand to let it slip past me. Oh, it'll be a good day if it still has the treasure."

"Sir?" The first mate queried.

Shaemin replied, "Oh, nothing. Don't worry about it, Garvick."

"If you say so, sir," Garvick stated. He called out one of the deck hands out to get Myodei, Bazrir, Szayan, and Dyjhal. The tanned young man returned with the four. The Braken's Bane was resting near the yellowish, wooden docks of Deren with a gangplank serving as the connection. Some distance away was the white stone tower that was the Deren Lighthouse. Its base was made of orange rock, and a metal support sprouted from the foundation of the spire. The top of the monolith was a metallic observation that was similar in shape to a c. It had a large amount of open space and was topped by a golden, horizontal claw-shaped top that faced towards the Palace.

"Well, it has been a smooth enough ride, Myodei," Shaemin declared, "And my ship will be sailing for Talados in two days as per your request. Until then, the ship will stay anchored here at the Docks."

Myodei replied, "I'm glad that you managed to help us again, Shaemin."

"Of course, Myodei," He spat out in a disgusted tone as some root bits came out of his mouth, "Enjoy Deren."

Nearby to the Docks, there was the Nobles' District. Many of the manors were three stories tall that would utilize pillars to sustain the roofs to their many balconies. The mansions were either gray walls with orange rooftops or white with light green. The darker housing had circular holes in the stead of windows, whereas the lighter estates had mostly rectangular hollows. Myodei took the lead as they entered the aristocrats' region of Deren. The taller chateaus rivaled the immense fortress of the King as well as the sky itself. Past the intricate structures, there was an opera house that was supported by flat, plain Tuscan pillars.

A large canal divided the city; Myodei and his party were on the western half. On the eastern side, there was an inn and a real estate building towards the south of it. On the northern edge, Deren's commoners lived in their squalor housing. The Derenian Palace was between the docks and shanty town, and its many spires had walkways from the main castle. All of the branching paths utilized arches quite freely. The front section of the citadel was topped with a hemisphere of glass.

The group stopped abruptly due to the many bewildered and disgusted glares of the human inhabitants of Deren. Myodei asked them, "Have you never seen an elemental that isn't wreaking havoc on you? I recall a time that we were welcome in this city, but I suspect that it was only due to our connections with the School of Thought. Can you not go about your business and leave us alone?" None of them dared to challenge Myodei's declaration. As they return to their daily routine, the party continued to make their way to the School of Thought inside of the palace.

Myodei's previous associate in the School of Thought was a purple Moglin that put the quest for knowledge above all else, and he admired how Dyjhal and Myodei studied so vigorously. He was of a Moglord lineage, but he had taken to visits to the academy and its impressive library far more than the excessive combat exercises that he was put under. When push came to shove, he chose to take a position as a teacher at Deren instead of a warlord. His name was Mivak, and he was probably still making visits to the university. The Moglin was always a bookworm, and he probably would know of any books or research notes that Myodei would be interested in checking out. The most unfortunate thing would be if Mivak had forgotten about them.

As the party neared the entrance of the palace, a guard stopped them. He queried, "Why does a group of elementals wish to enter the Palace of King Thalnor?" He wore green platemail, and his helmet was a head covering crafted from the skin of a Frogzard. His breastplate was decorated with a similar material. His shoulders were protected by two large metal plates that were held together by sickly green besagues. His gauntlets ended with fins that led into a swirl of metal. Beneath his chest plate, he wore a girdle-like band of gray metal. A cloth that was green and orange hung from his waist. His thighs were covered by a singular plate, and his greaves had two layers and enclosed his lower legs. In his left hand, he bore a kite shield that was armed with the fangs of a Frogzard. His main hand wielded a sword with a gray handle, brown gem, and a green hilt that had the head of a Frogzard and fins that looked like overly large ears to the shrunken head. The majority of the blade was smooth, but the base of it was bizarrely serrated.

"We are associates of Mivak, who is or was a professor at the School of Thought," Myodei answered. The ice elemental continued, "Is he still a frequent visitor of the library?"

The guardsman pondered for a short bit, "Ah, yes, you're talking about the purple Moglin, right? I believe that he is studying within the palace as we speak. I think that the subject was about the creatures of Heck, but I haven't paid much attention to the affairs of the school. If you are one of his friends, then I suppose that you can see him. You do know where the university is, right?"

"It is the first right upon entering, yes?" Myodei inquired, uncertain if he recalled the school's location. The knight nodded in response. "Thank you, sir," Myodei stated as the guard returned to his patrol. The large wooden doors opened with surprising ease. The innards of the palace were abundant in white and gold. Tuscan pillars supported the edifice at every one of the numerous hallway openings of the main hall. Arches stretched from every column to an adjacent one. The elementals took the first right to the library as per the sentry's directions.

The Derenian Library had two stories, and its structure was composed of a light brown wood. A spiral staircase led to the second floor, where the orange lamps rested and illuminated the room. Ladders leaned on the towering bookshelves upstairs. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Orcs, Moglins, and even a few Drakel were present in the library. One of the scholars came towards the elementals when they entered the library; she was a light violet Moglin. "Hello, who are you, and why are you here?" She queried. She had turquoise eyes and pinnae; she looked quite reminiscent of Mivak. She even had glasses like him.

The ice elemental answered, "I am Myodei, with me there is Bazrir, Szayan, and Dyjhal. We are here to see Mivak as well as borrow some books and possibly research notes. Do you know where he is or might be?" She looked at them weirdly when Myodei mentioned four people making up their company.

"My father?" She asked and continued, "I imagine that he is upstairs reading up on planar travel, creation, and division. He's been writing up shorthand notes on it for someone, but he never told anyone who as far as I know."

"You're his daughter? Interesting," Myodei stated and then inquired, "But where is he upstairs?"

"I knew that I was forgetting something," She responded, "He should be on your left once you go up the spiral staircase. You can tell him that Virula sent you. He should at least hear you out that way."

"Thank you, Virula," Myodei replied and proceeded to levitate towards the spiral staircase. Dyjhal and Bazrir followed behind him. Most of the students and scholars that they saw were reading diligently while making notes. A few of them were writing essays as per their instructions from their respective professor. Mivak was sitting next to a Gnome and an Orc, but the others were probably students in the subject. Mivak had been a professor over the concept for the longest; however, he had retired from the position some decades ago.

Myodei moved in and tapped Mivak on the shoulder so as to not disturb the other scholars. The purple Moglin looked up at the ice elemental and got up from his desk. He grabbed the book that he was reading alongside the report that he was working on. They went away from the dutiful scholars. They were close to one of the more distant bookshelves; no one else was nearby. Mivak started, "Myodei, Dyjhal, where have you two been? I've been working on these notes for you this whole time, but I could never find or hear from either of you."

"Well, we've been quite busy," Myodei responded, "But I am glad that you remember us and worked so hard on our request. Would you be willing to give us what notes that you can as well as recommend some reads for us?"

Mivak answered, "Of course, Myodei. As for suggestions, perhaps The Planar Split by Tymir Rudal? Beasts of Heck by Livon Dacoir is another good one, despite the different subject. Imps are actually quite intriguing, and I hope to understand how they work one day. It'd be wonderful to study one."

"I actually was able to convince an imp to work with me, but I don't know how he is doing currently," Myodei mentioned.

Mivak gasped, "You... You do? You have an associate in a being from Heck? How? How did you—"

"The means to how I come upon my research co-workers is a story for a less hectic time," Myodei responded, "But to satiate you for the time being, he had agreed to work with me willingly. He asked for protection from those that would seek to harm or abuse him, and I had done so for when I was capable of such."

Mivak inquired, "I see, but what had incapacitated you?"

"I was... Imprisoned by some people in high places alongside my companions for a spell," The ice elemental answered, "And it was all due to Kyrei Veldrin, who was bitter over his vicious ancestor. It was an unfortunate affair altogether really."

Mivak gulped, "That is why I haven't been able to send you correspondence at the Elemental Foothills?"

"Indeed," Myodei replied, "And it is why I haven't been able to check up on my Imp associate. I was actually going to Talados to check up on him. My vessel leaves in two days. I suppose that we should not waste any more of this precious time. The Planar Split and Beasts of Heck you said, right?"

Mivak retorted, "Yes, they should be on relatively close to the table with the Ulgathi and Gnome, as they are in the planar section. Heck should be a little closer to the staircase."

"Thank you, Mivak," Myodei stated.

"What shall we do while they're off to Deren and Talados?" Ariyzi inquired, "And where is Zynaer? He should have been here."

Veqwei answered with his voice trailing off in all kinds of directions, "Zynaer is checking up on Iskrema from what I recall. As for us, we are supposed to find Jagos. He is one of the few that may know the secrets behind what we seek, but I am uncertain as to how we will convince him to divulge such information with us."

"Wait, he is actually sending me into danger?" Ariyzi blurted.

Veqwei replied, "Hmm? Oh, no. Zolkt is to stay with you. Myodei has tasked the search for and persuasion of Jagos to me and Vyrdae."

"Where will we go then, Veqwei?" Zolkt queried.

Veqwei responded, "Zynaer will probably want to meet up with you close to Riverine Keep. He takes joy from being there, and I can only imagine it is due to the volcanic landscape."

"If only we could rendezvous in a majestic forest without him igniting it," Zolkt stated sorrowfully, "I digress, I hope you find Jagos without much difficulty, Veqwei."

"Finding him will be easy, but he will be problematic on lending us bits of his knowledge," Veqwei asserted as he pushed his glasses back into place. There was an arcane symbol lightly etched with an arcane symbol that seemed reminiscent to a slit inscribed by a circle within a claw-like shape. Myodei had given them to Veqwei sometime ago; it was before they had even met Zynaer. Myodei had said that he had made them for when he worked alongside Izotz, but Myodei never stated why he needed them. The water golem surmised their purpose rather easily; the glasses allowed for an easy detection of magical objects and creatures. There was a means to disguise yourself from such a device, and Myodei had all of his companions utilize it. They were Oculi and quite efficient ones at that. Veqwei didn't have much use for them, but the glasses served as a decent form of reconnaissance.

"I suppose that is true," Zolkt replied, "Jagos has a way with finding new arrivals from what I've heard."

"That he does," Veqwei reaffirmed and told the earth elemental comfortingly, "I do hope that you have the best of luck keeping watch over Ariyzi. It'd be terrible for him to have a string of misfortune again."

Zolkt staggered up with Ariyzi close to him. He lightly opened the jaws of the reptilian skull in the form of a yawn. His head was that of a deceased reptilian that was situated over a rocky collar bone-like structure that bore his shoulders. His torso was the upper part of a tree trunk; his arms were akin to branches that ended with three fingers with an opposable thumb on each hand. His legs were composed of stone with holes made from protruding branches. His feet were comprised of dirt that held the roots of the tree that formed much of his body. He was at least three times the height of the other elementals, and they were about the height of an average person.

The earth elemental hadn't felt the most comfortable in Gorraran, but the mountain was soothing enough for him. It had reminded of a good friend that he had made prior to meeting Myodei. He had been recalling Mount Zolk, and it was mostly north and slightly to the west of the Dwarfhold Mountains.

The frigid tundra of the northwestern Frozen Northlands surrounded Zynaer; he continued to proceed through the blizzard that was sweeping the lands. The tempest was as sharp as steel; it would have no trouble slicing through unarmored flesh. It would not be capable of any major harm to one such as Zynaer, but it remained fortunate that there were no animals around to die to its wrath. The lack of visibility due to the ice-storm made it difficult to ascertain where Iskrema was taking refuge. All that Zynaer knew was was that Iskrema took hold within a vacant fortress of some sort.

As time went by, the blizzard eventually cleared. Zynaer took the opportunity to scan his surrounding. There were the remains of a stone outpost covered within the ice and snow towards the peak of one of the nearby mountains; it was certainly abandoned. Tattered banners, bearing a dog insignia, were still carried by the wind. The peculiar thing with the appearance of the fortress was that it was strenuous to distinguish if it was a military or religious institution. It was difficult to discern why the bell tower would be deserted; it appeared to be in relatively fine shape. The most probable cause seemed to be that it wasn't very accessible through any routes. Any roads that once existed were buried deep beneath the frost, and a nearby cave that was likely once part of a supply route had collapsed. The remainder of the environment that enveloped him did not suggest any more places of interest were visible.

Iskrema was bound to be holed up in there; there was nowhere else he could be. The road scaling up the mountain appeared only in slight patches. It was doubtful that anyone would intrude on the area, but there was a possibility that whatever organization controlled the bastion might send a party to reclaim it. Zynaer suspected that it wasn't that vital to them, or they would have already sent such a group to handle it. There weren't many pilgrims so far north, so a religious sanctuary would not have much value so detached from the rest of the world. A garrison would only be worthwhile for holding troops in reserve, but there weren't many invasions in the Northlands. The land was too difficult to traverse with its numerous mountains for offensives to have much success.

"This was probably the result of an avalanche," Zynaer hissed quietly, and embers shot from his mouth. They faded quickly into the frozen environment around him. As he scaled the scarce road, Zynaer noted light puffs of smoke coming from what he was now certain was a temple to the Ice Lord. Zynaer had heard tales of the patient, capable knights that would defend their temples from enemies, but what were the chances that there were some within this temple? It was also not as though Zynaer wished to do harm; he merely wished to meet with Iskrema.

The facade of the stone-brick parish was made of stained glass that was depicting a scene one of these Paladins of the Ice Lord wearing a snowy owl amulet facing off against a great Fire Dragon(perhaps an ancestor of the legendary Akriloth?) with the paladin employing one of their most powerful spells, the Breath of the Ice Lord. The spell was known to summon vicious blizzards; it easily could have been the source of the spontaneous and short-lived snowstorm on the tundra below. It seemed more and more likely that these temple knights were still holing up in this temple. "I wonder how they would feel about Iskrema and Myodei," Zynaer mumbled.

The door was oaken and bore the crest of Bask, a powerful kingdom of the Northlands. It had served as a supplier for Riverine Keep since the latter was built. In the recent conflict involving Swordhaven, Zynaer did not know which side Bask allied with. The battles in question were between the Slugwraths and a southern kingdom led by someone referred to as the Golden King, which is also, oddly enough, one of the many titles used for members of the Sek-Duat dynasty. Bask could have remained neutral in the conflict, but that was unlikely. Only the smaller kingdoms stayed out of the gambit that was war, and that was just because a defeat would spell out the collapse of the kingdom in question.

Inside the chapel, there was a crackling of fire. The sound of a guitar being strummed soon followed, but Iskrema would not possibly know how to play an instrument like that. Zynaer flung the door open; he was anxious to learn who or what was within the building. Before the fire elemental, there was a circle of priests around a fire surrounded by broken bookshelves with texts strewn about the place. The priests wore light turquoise robes with white cloaks that covered their shoulders and drooped to the ground from there. The cleric on Zynaer's right was the one strumming a guitar.

"Who are you, fire elemental, to enter a temple of the Ice Lord?" The priest that was directly facing Zynaer from the circle asked bravely. He had dark brown hair alongside hazel eyes; his face looked young. He was probably in his early twenties. His face bore heavy stubble to the point that it was almost a full beard. That was probably due to a lack of a means to shave as almost of them seemed to sport this heavy stubble. The two that didn't were the high priest and the librarian. They were both quite aged and graced with wisdom from their years; they sported long, unkempt beards rather than the stubble that the rest had.

"Who am I? I am Zynaer," The fire elemental answered, "And I am searching for a friend of mine, an ice elemental. His name is Iskrema. Perhaps you have seen him?"

"Well, I'm Fannar, and you say that he is an ice elemental named Iskrema?" The young priest queried, "Yes, he asked for refuge before the avalanche hit and closed us off from our main supply route. We allowed for his stay as he is one of our lord's servants, but he requested the bottom-most chamber that we could offer. We believe that he knew the avalanche was coming and came to here, a sanctum for those of the Lord of Ice, for protection from it. As you can see though, it still took its toll on us. At least five of our own are dead, trapped in ice and crust. It is as if the collapse of the cave passage to Bask wasn't enough."

"It sounds to me like you have angered the Lord of Ice, perhaps?" Zynaer replied with a bold but speculative statement.

The high priest answered this in his raspy voice, "What could we have possibly done to anger him? No, this is the work of some knave, a foolhardy cryomancer." He coughed a few times in his speech and proceeded to break into a coughing fit after he finished. He was definitely in poor health; the cold was not helping on that matter either. He probably had a few months to a year left, but it seemed like it could be easily healed.

"I suppose you're right, but might I ask what ails you? I would imagine that you must a healer within your group, so why are you suffering this illness?" Zynaer diverted the topic as to not anger the clergymen.

The old man replied, "We tried healing me, and it failed. I'm going to keep trying to avoid what is meant to be. I've lived my life long and well, so I can accept it ending. I've defended the sanctity of the Lord of Ice as well as his followers within this temple in my younger days, and I have continued to follow his will and will until I die." It was during his coughing this time that Zynaer was able to notice that this priest wore the same amulet as the paladin in the stained glass.

"I see, well, I suppose it is respectable," The fire elemental retorted, "Although I must be getting to seeing my friend."

"Yes, yes," The high priest muttered, "Oh, by the way, I'm Pyry, but I was nicknamed The Blizzard."

Zynaer was beginning to head towards where Iskrema would be, but he turned his head to Pyry once he finished. "Wait, why were you nicknamed that?"

Pyry sighed, "I had killed Arash, an ancient fire dragon, by summoning a blizzard upon it, the Breath of the Ice Lord."

"You're the paladin that the stained glass depicts?" Zynaer inquired in amazement.

"I was not a paladin; they are knights of the Lady of Light," Pyry declared, "I was simply a defender of this temple of the Lord of Ice. I was nothing more and nothing less." He broke back into a coughing fit, so Zynaer gathered that he should just see Iskrema. Pyry was too sick to spend his strength bickering about his past.

Zynaer descended the stone stairs; Iskrema awaited him at the base of the stairway. Three cyan tendrils swayed as they stood straight up from his similarly colored head. His eyes were a navy blue. His maw was filled with razor-sharp cuspids. His bottom jaw, torso, and arms were a pale aqua with shards breaking out from his body. His lower body was a complex arrangement of crystals akin to ice that formed into a single tip. His hands each had a thumb and three clunky fingers. "Hello, Zynaer," Iskrema slowly spoke.

"I see that you're on your deathbed," Zynaer jested.

"Why did you go so far out of your way to see me?" Iskrema inquired with his tongue lashing about within his mouth.

Zynaer was quick to answer, "You were the only reason that we got out, so I felt obligated to see if you were doing alright. It seems so to me. What's been going on with you?"

"I've been holed up in here for a couple of weeks, but Fannar and Pyry are good men," Iskrema snarled, "Aside from that, I did come across a group of Steppe Mastodons, but I wasn't close enough to catch their attention. They could have cause the avalanche that shook this place up if they encounter a major threat, but it also could have been an Avalurch."

Both of the aforementioned creatures are creatures that roam the Northlands and are considered among the strongest in the region. The Steppe Mastodons being a member of the genus Mammut(referred to as Mastodons) with four large, ivory, curved tusks protruding from their jaw close to where their trunks connect to their heads. They have dark-gray, beady eyes. Their bodies are covered in a thick blanket of snow-white fur that put even the pelt of a Two-Bear to shame. Their feet bore three toes which form an odd hoof. While the Avalurch is an elemental in the shape of a gigantic torso made of ice that is as hard as stone, and it was known to move glaciers about and carve mountains with them for the Ice Lord(It was never ascertained why the Ice Lord would make such odd requests).

"It would only make sense," Zynaer continued to spit embers from his being as he spoke, "Those two creatures are the main ones that would have the strength to cause such a powerful avalanche that it shook this chapel to its core. I'm not here to discuss that though; I'm here to discuss what you're planning on doing now."

"What do you mean?" Iskrema backed up uncomfortably like a child or teenager that was about to be forced into an apprenticeship.

The fiery humanoid clarified, "I mean, what are you going to do with yourself? What about the Elemental Lords? Are you going to go on a massive quest for vengeance or simply remain locked up and go insane through the centuries? What are you going to do with yourself?"

Iskrema spoke coldly, "I'm at a loss, Zynaer. I simply don't know; dedication to the Ice Lord was my life. Without him, I'm not sure of what I want to do. I suppose that I can exact justice on those who have done me wrong, but should I? I feel like I don't serve a purpose, yet the fault is only my own for that. I rebelled, and I regret it."

"Well, couldn't you join with me and Myodei again?" Zynaer asked.

"He doesn't want me," Iskrema said, "I do not need to be redeemed is what he told me."

"What about exacting vengeance on the minions of the Lord of Fire?" Zynaer suggested, "They have personally done you wrong, so you can enact justice upon them. Maybe that will give you something to do with yourself."

"Perhaps," Iskrema answered and corrected himself, "I hope."

A noise came from across the hall; someone was opening the door that leads down to here. There was a click, and the door swished open. It was Fannar. "Sorry if I am interrupting or intruding on something," He began, "But Pyry asked that I come down here to find out where you going next, Zynaer."

"Oh, uh, I was going to meet up with some fellows at Riverine Keep," Zynaer answered.

Fannar exclaimed, "Oh, then I must accompany you!" The young priest seemed to lean his entire frame as he performed these exaggerated motions before he dashed up the stairs to some room. In a few minutes, he returned adorned in thick fur clothes. His snow boots went up to his knees and went outward at least three inches. His hood was lined with fur, and the jacket was finished with thick leather. His gloves had fur bursting out from the leather constraints which tried to hold the fur tightly. He wore at least three pairs of pants, and the outermost was lightly covered with fur. "Are you ready to go?" He seemed anxious to leave; he probably hadn't left the parish in quite some time.

Zynaer answered awkwardly, "Sure?"

< Message edited by Razen -- 3/14/2014 5:01:04 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 11
12/1/2013 3:21:39   

Chapter 11: Nothing can Kill the Grimace

Miar sat in the padded, mahogany chair that went with the desk in the excellent room as he answered Kyrei's question, "How did I get them to come along with me? Oh no, I'm with him, Razen. We decided to summon you for your guidance on the matter of hunting down Myodei and his accomplices."

Kyrei responded, "Ah, of course, that only makes sense. If he isn't accompanying you, then you are accompanying him. I should have expected that you wanted to know about Myodei again, but I've told you everything I know."

"I know all of that, but I— we want to know where Myodei is," Miar replied, "That can wait, however, as you do need to inform your descendant, Razen, of Myodei's evil."

"He doesn't know?" Kyrei asked.

"No," Miar affirmed.

"Ah, well, Razen, you see, Myodei and his partners in crime wished to betray the Lords themselves," Kyrei began, "First Myodei was found with the blood of a Communicant on his hands, then he was found with a water elemental of little note and devilish fire elemental named Zynaer that threatened to murder all who were of the Galiv and Veldrin bloodlines. After that, he was found with a lich named Bazrir and a traitorous energy elemental named Dyjhal. Then some mockery of an elemental named Zolkt and a darkness elemental that disobeyed the Darkness Lord himself! And finally, a wind elemental that helped some harpies eat up some helpless innocents! Does none of this confirm you to his wrongdoings? Why would he associate himself with such criminals?"

"I suppose you have a point," Razen began, "But how can you know that they're still up to vicious acts?"

Kyrei smirked, "Ah, well, Razen, I had learned that Myodei was working alongside a demon of Heck itself. Those damned creatures wreaked havoc on the Western Wastes and made them what they are, completely lifeless and desolate. What creature can claim to be good yet play a part in that or even work with something that had a role in that? I am certain based on that that he hasn't changed his act at all. He probably wants to off some more Communicants, but I say that we can't let him get the opportunity. It is for that reason that you and Miar must hunt down and stop Myodei, and, oh, am I happy that you have come upon Miar. He needed all the help that he could get."

"I'm right here, you know!" Miar exclaimed, displeased at the implied insult.

"My point," Kyrei started once more, "Anyways, back to Myodei, what more could you need to know to know that you need to stop him? He's still working with an evil creature to get whatever fiendish goal it is that he desires, so he's still evil himself which means that he needs to be imprisoned. Besides if he had truly been changed, then why would he try to break out?"

"I suppose so," Razen replied, "But Zolkt had spared me and even provided me with a safe ride home when he could have easily killed me. Why would he do that if he was evil?"

Kyrei seemed to be confused at the mention of this and pondered it. A minute or two later, he had the answer, "He was trying to trick you of course. What better way to stop you from being pursued than to trick your would-be pursuers that you've changed? If they weren't intending for something of ill-will, then it wouldn't matter if anyone was tracking them down."

"Alright, I give," Razen stated, "Miar, you were saying before we got onto this?"

"Oh, yes," Miar focused once more on what was going on, "We need to know where Myodei is going. We just saw him in Gorraran."

"Already?" Kyrei quickly spurted out.

"What do you mean by already?" I asked.

"Ah, well, you see, Kyrei and I suspected that Myodei and his minions would come here due to the oddities that Garnevin sells," Miar stated and proceeded to sigh as if it was close to revealing something that he didn't want revealed. What is he hiding from me? I thought to myself.

"This isn't good, Miar," Kyrei noted, "No, no, no, this is terrible. I don't know where he would be now. This simply isn't the same anymore."

"What!?" Miar was furious as he turned towards Kyrei's ghost with an unforgettable ferocity in his eyes that ate its way into your deepest fears. Time seemed to come to a halt as Miar slammed his hands down on the desk and rose from his chair. He was facing Kyrei with an incredibly displeased expression on his countenance. "What do you mean that it isn't the same?"

"He never went to Gorraran so early on," Kyrei explained, "He must know about this, so he is avoiding falling into the old loop. I can't tell you where he could be; you're on your own."

"How? How could he simply change his methods up?" Miar muttered to himself angrily. He sighed as he returned to his chair. "We must plan in greater depth then," He calmly reaffirmed and sighed as he said, "It's going to be a long night." He pulled out a small notebook. Miar opened it; it was filled with maps of Lore and more in-depth maps of its many regions. Miar asked, "Kyrei, where might Myodei have gone?"

"Has he been to Krovesport? If not, then he probably left for there," Kyrei said.

"How are we supposed to know where exactly he's been when we only had one chance meeting with Myodei?" I asked.

Miar had the answer, of course, "It's simple. We don't."

"What?" I blurted out in surprise.

"Well, if we can't find Myodei, then we won't look for him," Miar reiterated, "We'll simply go elsewhere. I believe that I know just who we'll pay a visit to."

"Who?" Azaila asked this time.

"His name's Joel, and he lives in Granemor," Miar answered.

"Won't we at least rest for the night here?" I inquired.

"I suppose we could," Miar responded, "We did already pay for them." Miar proceeded to chant, "Nhi Morte Vitae." Kyrei's apparition dissipated at the instant that Miar finished.

The beds allotted to us had thick mattresses that were covered with a soft cotton sheet. The comfortable accommodations allowed for a comfortable night's rest which was something that our party had been looking for for quite some time.

Throughout the night I could swear that I had heard some odd noises, but I dismissed them to allow me to continue dreaming. I was reliving that hunt for a wind dragon, and I wondered what Illoz and Rifroz were doing now after so many years. When morning came, I only recall flickering images of Illoz and Rifroz camped out in a dense forest, perhaps Greenguard? It was a premonition of some fashion. Miar wouldn't believe one word of it; he threw aside any possibility of its accuracy. As for me, I felt that it had to be right at least partially. Why else would I think of it?

After that, I recalled the time spent with Zolkt and the oddly fashion-sensitive female earth dragon that he had called to take me home. I still felt uncertain about how vile he could be even if he had threatened to kill me with what seemed to be no second thought about it. As the night went on, it all faded into a thing void of thought...

Author's Amendment:

It came to my attention through one of my editors that I had not yet described the appearance of Razen Veldrin yet, and I have supposed that this is as good a time as any to do so hence this amendment. Razen was in his late teens to early twenties during this time. His hair was dark brown, and his eyes hazel. His hair was layered, so his bangs went only to his eyebrows while the extents of his hair were pulled back and reached the base of his neck. His lips were smooth, but there hadn't been a woman to confirm that yet. A few odd scars strewn about his form marred his flesh.

His attire was not atypical of his generation. He wore a bright purple loose-fitting shirt with sleeves that ended in cuffs a tad before his wrists. A leather belt wrapped itself around his waist with iron holding it in place. His pants were a light blue. His shoes were pieces of leather-work like his belt. He carried a light green traveling cloak and hood for rainy days. His most precious belonging on his person, though, was without a doubt his pendant that his mother had given him. She had said that it had been passed down through her family for ages, and she had always favored Razen over Azaila and Zazaith. The charm was said to bestow its wearer some blessing, but it was lost in the flow of time. Its central gem came from the depths of the ocean; the gemstone was called "The Trench's Jewel" and was considered to be one of the most valuable gemstones to date.

I would explain what "The Trench" is, but I do not wish to digress any further. I will say simply that it is a place that no one wishes to visit.

Riverine Keep was to the west of Bask and the mountain temple. Riverine was a major keep that was said to under the rule of the king of Swordhaven, but the control of the region was quite disputed between Swordhaven and the city-state of Jehitus. The latter of these two had been the home of the famous Dragonlord of Light, Eri, who disrobed himself of the traditional armor of the Dragonlords for a gilded plate design with a helmet that's shape was inspired by that of majestic and regal lions of Lore. He was one of the most renown wielders of a spear with his particular polearm being made of ironwood for the shaft. Moonglow, luminite, and palladinium made for the spear's head.

Riverine Keep itself was still in good order and maintained by a good selection of knights that were handpicked by the rulers of Jehitus and Swordhaven as the keep itself was still a contested subject between the two. No one really segregated the knights, and no one really cared to know who came from which kingdom. It was a pointless affair even without those facts as Swordhaven was at war with another kingdom, the kingdom of the Golden King, a mysterious fellow that claimed he ruled a kingdom known only as the Southern Isles which was a place that had been unknown to anyone not under the Golden King's banner(short of maybe a very few exceptions). No one was exactly sure what started the war, and no one really cared either.

Riverine Keep was made of blackened stone and was built around a dormant volcano. Torches and pillars topped with fire were strewn about the makeup of the place. The barracks and armory weren't far off from each other in the back. The mess hall being the only thing between them. There were rumors that beneath the keep itself was a sprawling labyrinth that stretched for miles according to some of the more hyperbolic chaps. A forest surrounded nearly all of the fortress; the exception being where the stronghold touched the bay and even had a docks for suppliers, merchants, and reinforcements coming in from Bask.

The forest surrounding Riverine Keep suffered some from the elemental alignment of the bastion, but the effects weren't really notable enough to allow anything short of the most skillful eye to be able to spot the signs. It was near here that Zolkt and Ariyzi would rendezvous with Zynaer who had, unbeknownst to them, tagged along a young priest of the Ice Lord, Fannar. A river flowed to the east into Lake Vortin which was the main source of food, fish, and freshwater for the men at the keep. The west end of Lake Vortin being where Zynaer was said to meet Zolkt and Ariyzi.

The problem being that Zynaer was late. He was not late by a few, mere hours either; he was two days late already according to when he was supposed to meet up with Zolkt and Ariyzi. Zynaer's known for being tardy for most everything, so his delay didn't phase Zolkt or Ariyzi in the least(not to mention that they knew that he could hold himself in a fight). They were more curious as to why he had been delayed so much.

Their answer was now upon them; Zynaer appeared with a young fellow draped in layers upon layers of clothes masking his thin frame. Based on the attire of Zynaer's guest, Zolkt and Ariyzi could surmise that he had accompanied him from Bask, the Frozen Northlands, or somewhere nearby as no one would wear so much clothing anywhere else. The young man looked trouble by something while Zynaer maintained his hubris.

"What's with the kid?" Zolkt queried, "And what's got him so scared?"

"Oh, there were some things that troubled us on our way here," Zynaer spoke nonchalantly, "There was nothing of note really, but there was a giant. That's something, I suppose."

"It's rare to see giants these days," Zolkt spoke clearly, "Is that what spooked him?"

Fannar spoke now in broken sentences, "He... He looked. He looked at... He looked at us!"

"I'll take that as a yes," Zolkt noted.

"I also should have mentioned that going through the southern pass is out of the question," Zynaer declared, "Avalanche blocked off the whole path. It'd be weeks before knights from Riverine or people from Willowshire could clear it up. We can't afford to sit around for weeks and risk detection."

"Really? Confound it, it'll be a long trek to go through the west to Bask," Zolkt enunciated with some annoyance present in his tone, "Not to mention that I doubt that all four of us could skimp past Riverine Keep without attracting attention, unwanted attention."

The four were distracted with their planning, so they hadn't noticed a squadron of knights from Riverine coming upon them. Sir Raxilin led the squad. Raxilin was one of Riverine Keep's most veteran knights, and he wielded the keep's signature weapon, the flamberge, masterly. He had been sent out on scouting missions all through his life, but he never had come upon a group as peculiar as this before. Before him was a fire elemental bound by gold chains, an earth elemental composed of wood, stone, and and dirt, a wind elemental, and a young man wearing at least three layers of clothing. He wasn't exactly sure what he could do to them, so he watched things play out a little longer.

"Well, for the sake of the kid," Zynaer began, "If we do get caught, then I wouldn't risk his life by getting into a fight."

"How convenient for me then," Sir Raxilin stated as he appeared alongside his men from the thick of the forests north of Zynaer and company. There was at least ten men adorned in chainmail following him; they didn't seem to bear anywhere near the same amount of experience as Sir Raxilin who bore scars running the length of his face. Sir Raxilin was covered head to toe in full platemail which made it impossible to see his aging face and graying hair. It wouldn't be long before he retired from being a knight.

"You're all coming with me for questioning about your intrusion into militant territory of the kingdoms of Jehitus and Swordhaven," Raxilin declared, "Don't worry, no harm will come to you unless you intend for harm upon us, the kingdom of Jehitus, or the kingdom of Swordhaven. You should be fine."

"Wonderful," Zynaer jested.

"Follow me," Raxilin spoke business-like trying to keep as emotion out of his speech as possible.

The fifteen of them took to the north through a secret path to Riverine. They were able to get about halfway when Ariyzi was able to hear something through the wind. The wind told him one thing, "I don't know who you are but run, run now. I don't want you to be harmed."

Following that warning, they heard some shouts, "I see a giant with white hair, sir!"

"White hair? Are you sure?"

"Yes sir!"

"I've got to have a look at this for myself... By the Lords, it's Sarkalos. Get everyone to arms! The keep's under attack!" Following their exchange, the group heard an immense explosion, and the ground felt the aftershock of the mayhem. Raxilin fell down to the ground; he was not shaken by the earthquake but by his failure. The keep was gone while he was still in service.

In his desperation, he lashed at those around him, "You four! It's your fault that I've failed that Riverine Keep is gone! Go! Leave me with my failure; it's all I have left." Zynaer, Fannar, Zolkt, and Ariyzi took no time to take the opportunity to leave while Raxilin and his men drudged their way back to the keep that was certainly in ruins. Raxilin and his men would be okay though as Bask was due to send a shipment of supplies later that day, but it was unknown how he would deal with this devastation.

Raxilin's drudge continued on until he came within sight of Riverine Keep. The structure was perfectly fine; he was amazed. "How... How did it go through such a blast unscathed?" Raxilin spurted out. The men were filled with a new spirit; they rushed towards the entrance of the keep with such fervor that it was as if they were reborn. It was then that Raxilin realized, "They used that weapon? They must have been desperate then."

It was then that they came to the realization that no one was present; the entire keep was empty short of them. Raxilin sighed, "We're boarding the supply ship back to Bask to run an investigation on this white-haired giant and those elementals. This isn't over. I will avenge our fallen brothers in arms. Search for any survivors or bodies for that matter in the mean time."

The Skraeling was a massive, desolate wasteland of sand with a few small, insignificant blips of civilization strewn sparsely about its great size. It was here, Veqwei recalled, that Myodei and him had come upon Szayan and Dyjhal for the first time. Within its great dunes, there were sphinxes, tribes of cyclopes, mummies, fiery salamanders, nomads with Vechak lizards, the Yenghal nomads, and, of course, the fabled Jagos who holds the secret to the location of the Well of the Water Lord's Tears. The desert heat was overbearing, deadly to most, but the inhabitants of the Skraeling endured it. Veqwei and Vyrdae rarely traveled during the day within the desert as Vyrdae's darkening of the area around him made them stand out to creatures miles away, an unfavorable situation.

If it wasn't for the Chalice of Endless Water that made Veqwei's being, then he would have certainly evaporated during the long, brutal day. The night wasn't much better; it was the opposite end of the spectrum, viciously cold. The cold had little effect on the elementals, however, as neither of them were fire elementals(Zynaer would still be okay regardless). Vyrdae was never to spot during their nightly travels, but he usually tried to make a little bit of noise every now and then to affirm to Veqwei that he was nearby. The duo encountered no trouble in these nightly walks as most creatures of the desert were adapted to its immense heat rather than the cold.

Jagos never stayed in one spot as that'd make it too easy to locate him. Normally, this would make finding him far too difficult for any traveler, even an elemental, but Veqwei had something special with him. That object was his glasses; Myodei had given them to him and were capable of seeing magical creatures through solid matter if they were nearby(an early model of the Oculus). It was still unlikely that they'd find Jagos in a timely fashion even with the magical glasses.

"Bah, it's been a few nights already that we've scoured for him," Vyrdae muttered, "He's bound to burrow deep beneath the sands for the night. We'll never find him at this rate."

Veqwei was shocked at Vyrdae's pessimism, "Myodei would never send us on a wild goose hunt, Vyrdae. He knows that we can find Jagos during the night if he was willing to send us here."

"Really? What makes you say that?" Vyrdae queried sharply, "Is it simply because he gave you life? You shouldn't just blindly follow your creators; I've learned that."

"Aren't we past what happened in Darkovia?" Veqwei asked.

Vyrdae was terse in his reply, "No."

"A shame," Veqwei noted, "A heavy heart bears down on you, you know."

"You know as well as me that we lack hearts," Vyrdae snapped.

Veqwei responded, "Tsk, tsk, must we be so literal? I'm speaking of a metaphorical heart, a spirit, a soul if you will."

Vyrdae refused to speak anymore; he simply drudged towards the next set of dunes enveloping it in absolute darkness as he went. "Don't want to talk anymore?" Veqwei asked, "Oh, come on now, Vyrdae. We're good friends; we'll get over this." Vyrdae scaled the entire dune, and Veqwei struggled to catch upon with him. Water splashed about haphazardly like as if a heavy rain had beset the desert. The sound would wake any nearby creatures as it was the sound of a savior for them, and, for a tribe, it would be more than just a savior but also a means to prosper in this most vicious desert.

"Stop making so much racket; they'll hear us if you keep it up," Vyrdae snarled.

"Well, you won't slow down for me," Veqwei exclaimed, "So I needed to catch up somehow!"

"Fine, fine," Vyrdae snapped once more before he came to a halt to allow for Veqwei to catch up with him. "Better?"

"Much, thank you," Veqwei stated quite calmly.

Vyrdae replied, "Good. Let's get going then if we're done with that."

"Alright," Veqwei agreed quietly. The rest of the night seemed like it would be silent and lacking in eventfulness. Out in the distance, under one of the dunes, Veqwei was able to spot an odd creature, a magical one. He wasn't able to make out what it was however as it appeared to him as a mere speck like as when some sand would stick to his glasses. It could easily have been a sphinx, a light dragon, a mummicane, a mere brigling, an earth elemental made of animated sandstone, an animated sandstorm, a sand elf mage, or something else as the list goes on with how far away it was. Veqwei simply knew that they'd need to avoid it regardless of what it was.

"Found something with the Oculus up ahead to our left," Veqwei affirmed without emotion. The duo drifted to their right as to completely avoid notice from whatever the thing was. It was yet still moments later that Veqwei spotted it once more, but now he could determine that it was a sphinx, a sphinx with excellent hearing and listening skills. "Vyrdae, I guess that we're not evading it," Veqwei spurted out, "It's a sphinx."

"What could it want with us?" Vyrdae pondered for only a short bit when the sphinx landed before the two. A small sandstorm followed its landing as its brown wings flung sand hither and thither. Her face bore face paint reminiscent of the sand elves, and her horns stretched much further than the norm going down all the way to his shoulders. She had short light brown hair that was more unkempt than a beggar's hair if you could believe that. Her eyes were icy blue, and her tail slung itself about every which way with sand following the motions in close pursuit.

"My, my, what can a water elemental and a darkness elemental be up to at this hour in the Skraeling?" The sphinx mused, "It seems like I caught you two by some relative surprise."

"How were you even able to notice us?" Vyrdae inquired with some annoyance that they were discovered.

"You'll find that my hearing is of the highest quality," The sphinx noted, "So what are you two doing here?"

"We wish to pay tribute to the Well of the Water Lord's Tears," Veqwei lied quite smoothly.

"Are you now?" The sphinx didn't exactly seemed convinced, "You'd have to find Jagos for its location if he's even willing to give it to anyone. He seems to know all about these types of things alongside some of the secrets of the universe. He refuses to share them with us Sphinxes, can you believe that?"

"They wouldn't be very good secrets if every two-bit adventurer worth his weight in gold knew the secrets of the universe, so I'd say it's for the best," Vyrdae asserted.

"Hmph!" The sphinx pouted, "Maybe you don't want me to tell you where he is?"

"And they say that highwaymen and thugs are notorious for extortion," Vyrdae jested.

"Mockery now, really?" The sphinx seemed quite displeased, "I'll just be on my way then, if you're going to be like that. You can wander on aimlessly in this desert if you so wish."

"What my companion means is: What do you want?" Veqwei stated, "He's the type that often needs to be rephrased, a tad bit of a sour-sport if you will."

"Why I never!" Vyrdae exclaimed at this belittlement of his character, but Veqwei whispered something to him that seemed to calm him.

"What'd you tell him?" The sphinx inquired.

"Oh, it was nothing," Veqwei claimed, "Enough about that though, what is it that you want to reveal Jagos's location?"

"A riddle," The sphinx smiled gleefully as she spoke now.

"Oh joy," Vyrdae stated, "Can we get on with it?"

"Oh yes, yes, yes," The sphinx giggled before she started smoothly, "A natural state, I'm sought by all. Go without me, and you shall fall. The Lords wish to follow my lead, and their followers wish for my end. All things desire to reach me when they pray, yet a scale starts out following me and is only led astray. What am I?"

The duo pondered on this one. What was it that the Lords could want that went against their followers' desires. They thought about Dyjhal and the Energy Dragon that led to his betrayal. They came to no avail on that line, so they drifted over to the scale. Vyrdae knew this one fortunately. "Balance!" He spurted out abruptly.

"Wonderful, that took you no time at all," The sphinx answered, "As a reward, have my name, Cihali. Let's try another then?"

"If we must," Vyrdae declared.

"Oh, frabjous day," Cihali responded, "Let's begin: First think of a person who lives in disguise, who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies. Next give me a sound often used as an expletive for something obvious. Now string them together and answer me this, which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?"

"Hmm," Vyrdae began as he pondered, "A spy, but what sound exemplifies something obvious? Duh? Ah? No, no, those make no sense with spy. Hmm, spy, spy, spy, spy der. Spider!"

Cihali frowned, "Done so soon again? You're too good for me, oh...what's your name?"

"Vyrdae," The darkness elemental made clear.

"Ah, you're too good for me, Vyrdae," Cihali declared, "So I'll show you where Jagos lies."

< Message edited by Razen -- 8/6/2014 0:07:03 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 12
3/14/2014 6:51:17   

Chapter 12: A Bard, a Legendary Creature, and an Imp

Solaris rose, and we rose with it. Miar got up earlier than me and Azaila; he already had our supplies packed on a horse-drawn wagon set for Granemor. The smell of death enveloped and exuded from the carriage; it masked that there was any life nearby, the perfect ride for a stroll through Darkovia and Doomwood. Yivtarn and Tethil eyed them cautiously, but they saw that me, Miar, and Azaila were heading west rather to Krovesport and subsequently Talados. Yivtarn wasn't going to bother them; he wanted an easy paycheck. Why bother with them if they weren't on Myodei's trail anyways? That was Yivtarn's thought process on it.

As for how the morning actually went, I awoke to have the dark djinni's skull being the first thing that I saw that day, an unpleasant sight to say the least. The words of Kyrei, my ancestor, were fresh in my mind. I had no time to ponder on them though as we needed to get to Granemor without delay. Whoever Joel was, he was awaiting them there with information about Myodei and his cohorts. I wasn't sure what Joel had to tell us, but I believed that if it could help us figure out what Myodei is doing, then it was worth it.

Before we got onto the carriage, I had noticed that Miar gave some sort of wink at Azaila, but I didn't know what his intent with that was. We were able to get all of our luggage onto the abysmal carriage without much difficulty, and it seemed that the ride to Granemor would be surprisingly mundane with the carriage's awful smell to disguise them. The two horses that would be pulling the carriage were pure black stallions of a stocky sort, quite the reliable type. Miar sat with his back facing the horses while Azaila and I sat opposite of him.

"When did you pay for this carriage, Miar?" I asked to break the silence that otherwise dominated the scene without any resistance. If one was of the more superstitious type, then they might surmise that some curse had been laid on the land from Gorraran to Granemor that day.

"A friend of mine is a stables master close to here," Miar elaborated, "But the dwarves aren't fond of horses or many of the means of overland travel. Based on that, I decided that I'd wait on calling on my friend until now. I don't think that we'll be needing to come back here for a while." He made sure to end his sentence off perfectly with a devilish smirk.

"If you say so," I replied, ignoring the odd smirk. Miar knocked on the wood behind him, and the hooded man that would be keeping the horses in line got them to go. The pace was slow and steady to start off as much one would expect, but it was getting faster as we went on. It became quite rickety during about the middle of the ride; I suppose that the road was poorly paved. Not long after that unpleasantness, the carriage came to a sudden halt.

A voice could be heard outside, "Who authorized this carriage's passage into our Lady Safiria's lands?"

"We're in vampire territory?" I queried.

"Quiet," Miar hushed me.

The hooded man spoke now, "Queen Safiria granted me passage herself, so if you deny me safe access, then you will be angering her. You don't wish to do that, do you?"

"Oh, no, of course not, sir," The vampire responded, "I was not informed of your coming, so you must understand. My deepest condolences go to you, however, and I wish that you enjoy your time in our Lady's territory."

The carriage came to a start again. Granemor could not be too far away now as we already passed a vampire outpost. Miar broke the silence surprisingly, "My driver knows how to speak to the locals, Razen. Oh, yes, Azaila, you had something that you wanted to tell me?"

"That can wait," She replied nervously. She looked like she was blushing. I wasn't sure that I liked what this was adding up to, but it was not my place to intervene, especially without solid evidence. Only thirty minutes or so passed before we reached our goal: Granemor. The horses came to a much smoother stop this time. Once the carriage came to a clean stop, the driver maneuvered his way down to open our door to let us out.

He bowed as he gave a piece of advice, "Watch your step, Miar."

"It isn't muddy," Miar jested as it actually was muddy for one. Miar knew what he meant and intended to abide by it as well. With Miar's response, whoever the man was returned to his place up in the carriage, perched on his platform like a bird patiently awaiting for something to come its way.

I turned my attention to the village around it. It was in shambles; most of the buildings barely withstood the burden and time and decay. Gray, decrepit shingles were scattered about in bits and pieces. It was amazing that anyone would live in such a wretched place. Even if you disregarded the litter and decay of the place's architecture, you would still find yourself at unease due to the off-level nature of the buildings. There was a blue moglin in open sight that bore a number of scars even part of his left ear was missing. He certainly didn't look like your stereotypical moglin.

Miar greeted him, "How are you doing, Dewlok?"

"Kinda wished that I wasn't on guard duty right now," Dewlok responded, "Joel's playing in the tavern as we speak. Even in a rut he's got a way with notes that I've yet to see be replicated."

"He is?" Miar was a tad surprised but continued, "That's wonderful even."

It was then that I could hear some music was starting up in the tavern. The notes began to play, and the melancholy followed them. I could feel it bearing upon me, yet the music was so wonderful in its performance. Miar opened the tavern door. The man who must have been Joel was at the piano playing the notes with smoothness matched only by the most graceful of elves.

The people of the tavern sat around captivated by its pull as I almost had been. The song was evoking such powerful emotions from men and women who had been numbed to sight of death even of a loved one, but they had no such resistance against the sensations that his melodies brought forth. The people of Granemor preferred it that way as they felt that it made them feel more human to be able to shed a tear or be lost in a tale of a forgotten love. It was this music that was one of the few things that gave them to spirit to work and toil through their days, for they knew that it awaited them.

It was now that I noticed that the man playing at the piano had a few oddities going on with his appearance. He sported a thin tail with a black spade-like tip that swayed left, right, up, and down in tune with his notes. Two small horns protruded from his skull, but they were quite tiny indeed(a half inch in height according to the man himself). They curved back from his forehead, seeming more like an outlandish hair restraint than horns. It was difficult to see the color of his skin due to his attire as well as the lighting in the tavern, but I had my suspicions already that it was deep red with the occasional light maroon scales strewn about his form. I was certain that he was a demon; it was quite possible that he was from Heck itself.

He did not seem to notice our entry as he continued to play. It was possible that he was determined to play the melody through to fruition that he was unwilling to let anything distract him from the completion of the song. He continued to hit the notes with perfect timing while he maintained that otherworldly grace that did all the speaking necessary to describe his dexterity. Miar made his way to Joel until he was right next to the piano, yet still no one in the tavern bothered to notice him. Miar was not enthralled by the music like me, Azaila, and the tavern's patrons. I don't know why it had so little of an effect on him, but it did.

The song came to an end. Consciousness seemed to return instantaneously to the bleak lives of the people of Granemor as a new melancholy dominated the scene around us. A life of hopelessness filled the hearts of these people, and there was nothing in the near future that would or could change that.

The demonic man at the piano arose to anything but Miar's dismay. He turned to the elf and spoke as he noticed him, "Oh, it's you, Miar. I wondered who had the audacity to clamor their way to where I was playing in the midst of while I was playing."

"I never was a musical type," Miar replied.

Joel had a short laugh, "I could believe that. Anyways... Why are you here? I thought that you got all that you needed to know."

"It just so happens that that isn't the case anymore," Miar responded, "Myodei's changed his patterns. "

"I'm failing to see where I come into play here," Joel stated.

Miar was quick to fix this, "You're not going to help with that, but we need every bit of info on Myodei and his accomplices, their history, their capabilities, everything. Something just tells me that you'd be the man for that."

Joel tried to divert the subject to something else, "Oh, who are your friends?"

Miar introduced us, "Well, the young man is Razen Veldrin. The lady is his younger sister, Azaila." Azaila blushed at this flattery.

"Well, Razen and Azaila Veldrin, I'm pleased to meet your acquaintance," Joel spoke softly, "I'm Joelithien, but I'm just known as Joel. The name's elvish if you're wondering." Once I finally was able to get a good look at him, my suspicions were confirmed: deep red skin, light maroon scales, and obsidian hair to boot. There was no denying it; he was a demon.

"What's a demon doing with an elvish name?" I asked.

"Wasn't born this way," Joel replied, "But the tale for how I turned Heck-born is a tale for another time. I think your friend's more interested in hearing about Myodei and his cohorts." Miar looked far more pleasant now as Joel did not seem to be avoiding the subject altogether. "Truth be told," Joel began, "I'm only the most knowledgeable about one of them, but he's also one of the strongest in their group. His name is Vyrdae. He's a darkness elemental."

"What is so special about him?" I queried.

"He is darkness," Joel replied short and sweet.

"Aren't all darkness elementals darkness though?" I asked.

"Yes, but it's different," Joel responded, "Vyrdae is literally one with the shadows and darkness around you. He lives for as long as night falls which I don't see that ceasing in the foreseeable future."

Miar raised his right brow as a reaction to this; it was news to him. "Do you know how to stop him then?" Miar inquired.

Joel contemplated this and seemed to reach a conclusion, "I think there is a way maybe two. I don't know how to kill him, but you could trap him in a place constantly flooded with light to prevent his escape. It'd be difficult to eliminate all of the darkness of any place though; let alone keeping it that bright. Anything else you want to know?"

"Yes," Miar stated, "What do you know about the others?"

Joel rubbed the stubble on his chin before he answered, "Well, Veqwei, the water one, produces an endless supply of water, and I don't even know of any water elemental that does that. It makes me think that he isn't really an elemental, but I'm not sure what else he could be. He was the first to follow Myodei, so I'm imagining that Myodei played a part in Veqwei's creation. I don't know much about Zynaer, the fire elemental; Dyjhal, the energy elemental; or Bazrir, the lich. I do know that before Vyrdae joined up with Myodei that he was just a step below a sub-lord of the Darkness Lord."

"He ranked that high?" Miar sounded scared now. It was with good reason too as a nigh-invulnerable darkness elemental that was closing up on being a sub-lord wouldn't make for an easy target to say the least. Azaila looked terrified; she hadn't known that Myodei and his company were this dangerous.

"You all look mighty spooked," Joel noted, "Planned on going after 'em, did ya? Oh, why am I bothering to ask. You're with Miar, so you're obviously after them. Give me just a bit, because I want to come with you three, but I've got to get some of my instruments."

"Wait, if it's so dangerous, then why do you want to go?" Azaila asked.

Joel smirked, "I need something to get me out of my composers' block, and this seems like the perfect remedy." He went up the rotting stairs as careful as one could imagine that a demon could. In a few minutes, he returned with a mandolin, a violin, a guitar, some drums, a harmonica, a trumpet, a flute, a viola, a cello, a harp, a clarinet, an oboe, a piccolo, and a grand piano. Most of the luggage was magically reduced in size; Joel would have been crushed under his belongings if they weren't shrunken.

"Do you have a whole orchestra upstairs or what?" Miar remarked as he saw the demon bard who had quite the impressive amount of luggage.

"No, but I've got just about every instrument that I'll ever need," Joel answered.

Joel was packed and ready. There were four of us now in this party: Me, Miar, Azaila, and Joel. I wasn't sure what Miar had in mind for where to go now.

The sphinx held up to her half of the deal. Cihali led Veqwei and Vyrdae to Jagos's current hiding place. She was certain that they'd get nothing out of Jagos. Before them was a massive dune, Vyrdae seemed suspicious and asked, "Are you sure that this is where Jagos is located?"

Cihali nodded, "Oh, yes, my people keep track of Jagos's location in hopes that he will tell us his secrets one day. He's somewhere in this dune, but I don't know exactly where."

Tonight must have been an odd night as it began to rain heavily. The sound of thunder shook most of the wildlife of the Skraeling Desert; it must have been the first one in quite some time. The sphinx dug into the sand to protect herself from the storm, so the elementals were left alone now in the vicious downpour. Vyrdae moved closer and closer to the gargantuan sand pile that was Jagos's makeshift home. Veqwei couldn't move the sand as he'd simply make each grain heavier, so Vyrdae had to move the sand for their entrance.

To a passerby, it would look like waves of darkness were assaulting the sand drift from seemingly nothing. Tens of thousands of grains of sand were moved with each motion. Vyrdae would find Jagos before much time transpired. As the darkness elemental tore away at the sand, Veqwei heard another creature digging.

Thunder struck once more, and it seemed to be covering the tracks of something ominous. Veqwei could not explain why or how he felt that there was some creature tracking them, but he did. He could see anything out of the ordinary as the shower made it difficult to see with the Oculi glasses. Without those glasses, they might as well have been blinded.

Fortunately, Vyrdae was still making great progress. Layer by layer, the dune gave way to his barrages. Jagos must have been the other creature that was digging as he burst free from the overwhelming dune.

The large insect-like creature that was Jagos appeared before them. His exoskeleton was gold and dark blue in color. His form bore a tail and four arms and legs. His four relatively tiny legs each came to a sharp point. His tail ended in the shape of a oval. Golden carapace stretched from the top of his head to the sides of his neck to about the middle of his back. The bravest adventurers are the only humans that wouldn't be daunted by his figure, but elementals were more accustomed to bizarre creatures such as Jagos.

"What is a darkness elemental and water golem doing in my abode?" Jagos declared, "Wait, is that... It can't be. There's no way that he would..." Jagos cut himself short as he instead decided to find out with certainty. He created at least ten Sunrays from what seemed like thin air. The collective light from all of these elementals eliminated any and all shadows surrounding the trio. The spanning darkness that Vyrdae was part of was severed from him. An image projected itself onto Jagos's eyes. "Vyrdae," Jagos began again, "Why are you here?"

"We need to learn from you, Jagos," Vyrdae stated with a heavy heart.

"Learn from me?" Jagos queried, "Whatever happened to ascending to a sublord of Darkness to learn what you wanted without me? Did you just give up on that?"

"I was asked to kill a defenseless being," Vyrdae replied, "I couldn't do it. You know that."

"I don't recall the time when one considered doomknights harmless," Jagos snapped back.

"He was incapable of doing harm to anyone," Vyrdae declared, "Even as a doomknight, he would be harmless in such a condition."

"Doomknights are always dangerous," Jagos snapped, "And I will insist that you're a fool to disobey the Lord of Darkness on such a vital matter."

"He wasn't doing anything beyond injuring himself, Jagos," Vyrdae claimed, "I'm willing to bet that his death is part of why that region is as bad as it is now."

"You're blaming Darkovia on the Lord of Darkness?" Jagos inquired, "Don't you know that it was the werewolves? I've heard some rumors that the Stranger has some part to play in it."

"I wasn't blaming the Darkness Lord," Vyrdae explained, "I meant that killing that doomknight gave the Stranger more freedom."

"What do you mean?" Jagos asked with surprise at this theory.

"When I was there," Vyrdae began, "I felt his presence. He was there. I feel like that the doomknight managed to keep the Stranger with him somehow. I know that the Stranger has a connection with the Doom weapons, so I thought that it wasn't beyond reason to think that the doomknight bound the Stranger to his specific one, preventing the Stranger's leave."

"I would need to contemplate that theory long and hard," Jagos answered, "But I don't believe that you came here with this water golem to discuss the past. What is it that you want?"

Vyrdae seemed to ponder in his puddle of darkness, "Would I be correct to presume that you know Myodei?"

"The ice elemental that you've joined up with? Yes, I do," Jagos responded, "Why?"

"I want to know about the planes," Vyrdae stated.

"Why do you want to know about flat expanses of land?" Jagos jested.

"You know what I mean, Jagos," Vyrdae snapped, displeased by the fake lack of knowledge.

"Be a killjoy then," Jagos blurted out, "What is it that you want to know about the planes then?"

"We want to know everything that you know about traversing them as well as the theoretical creation of divisions of a plane, sub-planes," Vyrdae made certain that his speech was clear.

"If that's what you wanted to know," Jagos began, "Then I suppose that it is fortunate that you came to me. As coincidence would have it, I've actually been pondering those two subjects as of late..."

Shaemin was in the captain's quarters as per the norm. He sighed, "At least I'm getting paid for this." He knew that he couldn't betray these elementals; they'd have him shoveling the dirt to his own grave in less than a second if he tried. That was without mentioning that he had a forced sense of peace bearing upon him whenever he was in the vicinity of Myodei. Shaemin didn't know how to explain it, but his crew understood him perfectly nonetheless. The entire ship was on edge with these customers; Shaemin didn't know what he was getting himself into as usual for Shaemin Hovarion.

The last time that he got in over his head like this was when he was carrying relics of the Sand Elves into the port nearest to the Sandsea. Shaemin's silver tongue and metaphorically slimy exterior were the only things that kept him from losing at least an arm. Well, there was also the adventurer that Shaemin managed to blame in his stead, but the adventurer didn't really help matters much. The time before that, Shaemin was caught smuggling ice dragon eggs to sell as exotic pets, but when he was confronted by some furious ice dragons he managed to say that it was a dragon-slayer's doing rather than his own. There was even one time when he had kidnapped a princess, but she managed to slip away which seemed inconceivable to him really. There seemed to be a similar situation that Shaemin was involved in for each corner of the globe. If it wasn't smuggling, then it was stealing. If it wasn't stealing, then it was smuggling. Bootlegging also managed to find its way in there. Despite being the captain of a top-of-the-line ship, Shaemin was no better than a street rat.

His time in the business showed its signs all about his body, but his time in the business had made him all the wiser to when danger's looming his way. To the sailors, he had a sixth sense that could detect danger, but he knew that it was just a instinctual wisdom that had dawned upon him from his experience. There were few tricks that could get past his eagle eye, and those that could wouldn't be able to a second time around. The men considered him to be a worthy captain, and few thought of a mutiny. He didn't work them too strenuously, and he always seemed to be open to conversation with one of the lads.

There was a knock at his door, and Shaemin pulled himself up to walk over to see who it was. When he turned the barely rusty doorknob, he found that it was one of his cabin boys. The boy was no older than 15, and he was holding a letter of some sort. "It's...It's for you," He spoke sheepishly.

"Let me see it then," Shaemin reacted quickly and a tad more harshly than was necessary. His open hand was before the cabin boy who did as he was told and ran off to avoid any displeasure from the captain. Shaemin sighed once before opening the letter, "Let us just see what is in here." The parchment was a dull yellow, and the text was black like the ink of a braken.

Dear Captain Hovarion,

I have realized that I had left one part of our agreement unknown to you. There is a group of people after me and my associates, you see. There is at least two humans, a male and female, as well as an elven necromancer known as Miar Galiv. I do not doubt that they will be coming to Krovesport soon. During my stay in Talados, I request that you meet them in Krovesport and provide them transit to Talados.

You must be asking yourself, "Why would I do that?" The answer is: I know that they will get to Talados regardless, but I can pay you to deal with them for me. How you manage to do so is of no matter to me; however, I do ask that they are not to be killed. I do not wish for blood to be on my hands as you must understand.

Thank you for your assistance,

"Of course there would be a new part to our deal," Shaemin furrowed his brow in response, "Well, Myodei will have to make do in Talados for at least a week then."

Myodei had Mivak's recommendations in hand; he would read them when he returned to Mt. Shining Star. The ice elemental also picked up a few other postulations and theories on the working of planar mechanics. In total, he must have had at least twenty works in his possession. The majority of them he had agreed to purchase outright, and the few that the School of Knowledge refused to sell to him he borrowed. The two days that Shaemin had allotted for his stay at Deren were up, and the Braken's Bane was ready to set sail to Talados, the island renown for psionics. The voyage was not long or eventful as Talados was a relatively nearby place to Deren in comparison to Krovesport to Deren.

Bazrir and Dyjhal were also ready to leave the Braken's Bane. The ship came to a slow, eventual halt as it anchored down at the docks. The docks were made of the norm, wood. The docks soon gave way to the cold, cobblestone streets of the city. Men walked about in robes of green and yellow. Women strolled through the city wearing dresses made of white, green, red, and blue. They often had jewelry made of gold with Azru stones. The buildings were built of solid stone with large windows made of dull yellow glass.

Streets lined their way throughout the city in a web of infrastructure. Numerous statues of a hooded woman towered above the men and women as they stood twelve feet tall. These sculptures masked the stone pillars behind them which followed the edges of these winding roads. Between these pillars, there were short, stone walls that were built to be six feet tall. At the heart of the island was the research center of the secret order of psionicists that performed all forms of heinous experiments that would be considered unethical by even the maddest scientists.

Most of the passersby paid no attention to Myodei and his party. Those that did notice them did not seem friendly, but they did not necessarily seem hostile. The city seemed to possess apathy to them despite how odd that must have seemed to the usual villagers of Battlonia who would likely be screaming and fleeing in terror until they amassed a mob. Their relations usually encompassed fear and hatred in a terrible combination. The people of Talados were likely more accustomed to such sights like the people of Deren who would encounter elementals on a far more usual basis than others.

The three of them had wandered around for a little while to capture a feeling of the general layout of the city. They were in the Market District which made sense since the Docks were nearby. To their left, there was the main research facilities of the city, and their right bore the residential area. They had no business to their right, so they went left. The statues of hooded women began to become more sparse until they simply were not present. They were truly in the depths of the Psionists' playground, but they did not feel that this was the case. The area looked quite normal and bore few external differences with the rest of Talados.

After some time had passed, one of the more nervous people had come up to them. "Are... Are any of you Myodei?" The man asked with hesitation overbearing his being.

"Who is asking, and why?" Myodei queried.

"Maelikar," The man answered, "He knew that you would be coming for information from your... imp. He... He is the leader of a division of psionists that is unknown to most of the people of Talados."

"Why tell me that then?" Myodei inquired. The man gave no response as he realized his mistake. "It does not matter," Myodei stated, "I will see Maelikar, and we will discuss what I assume is the negotiations for the release of my associate. It is inconvenient for me to allow him to continue being imprisoned."

"All... Alright then," The man spoke, "Follow... Follow me." The man led them into one of the buildings through twists and turns of hallways and corridors until they reached a conference room of some sort. A circular table rested in the middle of the room with Taladosian inscriptions lining the upper rim of it. On the middle of this table, there was a cage that bound an imp from Heck to its confines. Chains that bound its hands and feet to the lining of the cage prevented it from opening a portal to Heck or any other realm. The imp did not have the will, spirit, or stamina to resist its bindings. Around the table, there was a group of fourteen psionists waiting for them. The eldest among them was most likely to be Maelikar.

"Ah, our guest of honor has finally arrived," The eldest man spoke, "I see that you have only brought a few of your companions with you."

Myodei responded, "I have indeed done both of those. Based on the contents of the cage, I assume that you have my associate. What do you want in return for his freedom?"

"I have heard that one of your companions had come upon a book that is now all but extinct," The eldest man continued, "It was a theory on the manipulation of life through the use of Psionics which would be an invaluable asset to my organization, you see, as it would further our research by leaps and bounds."

"I understand," Myodei replied, "How did you or your organization come upon the imp for that matter?"

The eldest man answered, "The imp has been around for longer than I've been around. I never heard how it got here myself, so I would be lying if I said that I had the answer to what you ask. ...Hmm, how rude of me, I did not introduce myself. I am Maelikar, the eldest member and leader of the Order of Change. We have been called radicals, eccentric, and a few other things that I care not to mention, but that is irrelevant to our discussion, is it not?"

"It is indeed irrelevant, Maelikar," Myodei affirmed, "But it does make me more wary of giving you what you want. At the same time, I need the information that that imp can provide me, so I cannot refuse your offer unless I wished to end you and your order which I do not. I suppose that forces my hand to provide you with what you want. Dyjhal, are you willing to part with the book?"

The energy elemental did not seem to need to ponder the answer, for he knew the answer already. He replied, "Yes, I already know the book in its entirety, so I do not need to keep it in my possession." He reached for one of the inner pockets of his vest and unveiled his leather-bound tome that had a creature bearing three eyes upon its head on the cover. The book had managed to remain in a beautiful condition despite Dyjhal's extended possession of it. He walked towards Maelikar and handed him the tome carefully.

Myodei did not speak; Dyjhal commented, "The imp will be released now. I will take my tome back if he is not released. I hope you understand." The psionists did not waste time with giving a verbal response as they began to free the imp from its prison. The cage door was opened first, and the locks binding its hands to the cage were undone immediately after. The imp's legs were freed following that rather quickly. It flapped its wings freely for the first time in at least a hundred years as it stretched its arms and legs.

"Ah, it's so nice to be free from that Heck," The imp declared, "And I'm used to Heck." The imp was dull purple in coloration with reddish brown scales and horns that spiraled. Its eyes were a bright, vivid red. Its legs ended in three-toed hoofs. It was the size of a preteen child. As it flapped its wings with such speed that their shape was difficult to interpret, the imp began to raise itself from the ground. The imp looked like a monster from a children's tale. He put his claws together and popped his knuckles before be flew down to the ground, placed his hand on the ground, and opened a portal to Heck itself.

Within seconds, the imp returned in a portal that was identical in nature. He smirked as he remarked, "I've still got it, Myodei."

Maelikar asked, "Are we done here as I do not wish to keep you from whatever your business is with this... creature?"

"I believe so, Maelikar," Myodei stated, "Have fun with your... research." Myodei thought for a second, "Wait, before I go, do you know any place where we may stay for the time being?"

"There's the Lavish Lighthouse in the Trade District, I believe," Maelikar replied.

Amendment: Future readers of this are likely more versed with the descendant of Maelikar who is known as Makkisar and the creator of Carnax.

< Message edited by Razen -- 1/13/2016 23:56:14 >
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 13
1/14/2016 0:02:50   

Chapter 13: ???

To be worked on.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 14
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