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Divinations and Decisions Embercrown 414 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Melanie Blake   
Saturday, 29 November 2014 20:42

First of Embercrown, 414 After Second Dawn

It was a busy night in Entros, Dead and Lith carrying out their business on a street just outside of the Fen Bog. A hooded ravaged approached a quiet looking Inn, her long, black coat trailing behind her. The Inn door creaked as it closed behind Lilliana. She approached the innkeeper, a rotting, who regarded her warmly.
"Mother, it's so good to see you!" He paused, and added warily, "The man you seek is here and waiting. Preparations have been made."
Lilliana inclined her head graciously as she extended her hands to accept a door key. Wrapping the skeletal fingers of both hands around the innkeeper's hand, she said "Thank you, Morren. My child, your hospitality is most appreciated, and will not be soon forgotten."
Morren beamed and went back to his work with a new vigor inspired by his Mother.

Lilliana turned on her heel, and headed towards a heavy oaken door. Approaching the door, she let loose a heavy sigh and turned the key in the iron lock. Knowing that she would only be summoned here under such secrecy if the situation were dire, she descended the stairs with a mounting sense of dread... She wondered glumly, what bad news could it be that Kirnon had to tell her? When she reached the deep basement of the Inn, she approached a cloaked Lith seated at a small table in the back of the room. 

"Kirnon," Lilliana said in greeting, as she sat across from him.
"Good evening Lilliana," Kirnon glanced aside cautiously. "Are you sure he.."
"Mortis cannot see or hear us in this place, Kirnon. You know this..."
"One can never be too certain, in matters such as this, my Lady"
"I understand...Now, please tell me what is so classified that I must hide it from even Mortis; What new nightmare have you brought to me?"
"The oracles have had a new vision... The Vile One will return to Memora."
If the Mother of Bones had been flesh and blood, she would have been overcome with a sickly pallor. Such as she is, her bones simply stopped moving, all signs of life absent in her shock. It couldn't be, for he was slain! The oracles Kirnon consulted regularly had never been incorrect by more than a few small details... Lilliana's mind stirred as the implications flooded her consciousness. Surely she had misheard her trusted advisor.
"You can't mean..." she stammered.Kirnon gently interrupted her, placing his palm on her wrist.
"I'm sorry, but yes.. I do, but that isn't all. Please, let me finish... There is more, yet."
Lilliana nodded, grimly and listened intently.
Kirnon continued, "The oracles saw a grim scene ; Markus emerges from his mirror in the very location in which he opened the rift 300 years ago. The caravan is ravaged in a moment of joy and celebration. A great threat will be vanquished just in time for an old terror to reemerge from the darkness.  He will annihilate a fierce general. His cackling insanity will harrow the Fount as his mere presence sends shockwaves through time itself. When he leaves Drake's Fount in disarray, he will move on to his next haunt. It is there that he will slay Mortis."
A dreadful wail erupted from Lilliana's skull. Agony filling her very soul, she writhed in anguish for a moment before her eyes turn black as pitch. Her voice came out pained and rattling as she spoke, sounding entirely unlike herself. "This must be avoidable, we must be able to stop this." Her fists slammed upon the table with an inhuman force, causing the wood to crack. "How?!"
Kirnon gulped, and regretfully croaked "Yes. I was afraid you would ask that, but Lilliana, I must advise y--"
"TELL ME HOW TO STOP THIS!" Lilliana's eyes flashed as her voice sent out a concussive force all around her, throwing Kirnon back from his chair and causing the inn to shudder.
The lith pulled himself to his feet and reluctantly continued, his voice shaking. "The... oracles.. They have seen one other future... one in which Mortis lives, yet... " Kirnon looked down at the table, a single tear running down his alabaster cheek. "Lilliana... in this future, you are annihilated Drake's Fount. Sending you into Oblivion causes Marcus to choose another path to gloat and spread discord, thus Mortis survives."
Voice kind, but features hardened in determination, Lilliana replies, "Thank you, Kirnon, I know what I must do if ever I encounter the bastard... Have you any notion of when in time this may be to occur?"
"The oracles weren't sure of the year, but mother please.. You can't..."
"Thank you, Kirnon," Lilliana interrupted, as she rose to leave.
That night, if Lilliana had beating heart, it would have shattered. Her soul ached, for she knew that some day, she would give her eternal life to spare the only father she had ever known in her undeath. Her children would be left Motherless, but they would still have Mortis to guide them to greatness as he had always guided her. 

 
Epilogue of the Last Turning of Darkhollow, 414 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mckell McIntyre and Darrin Myers   
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 13:58

A stillness followed the rain and cold set in. Puddles quietly danced mixing with the blood of the fallen. The trees and hills showed little sign of the changing world. It still seemed like the Memora of old. But how could it be? Something beautiful had been ripped from the land. Some of its splendor had been given willingly. Some of its majesty was taken brutally. Surrender was never an option. Lives paved the road now walked by those who survived. 

 

Robbed of choice, betrayed by fate, and without council Severance witnessed hopes violated. What could be done to salvage this endeavor? Ibraham placed a hand on his allies shoulder, causing Severance to give up a half hearted grin shaking his head. Severance looked over his contract and contemplated. Certain Doom indeed, that’s what would be the price of failure. Now that he thought about it, the Contract’s clause on certain Doom was moot if the Concordant Circle failed. 

 

“We didn’t lose”, said Ibraham, “We still have the tiles placed, we still have a duty to Memora. It’s time we remember the fallen”. 

 

With that Severance looked to Rus. She had become completely detached. New crimson tears began to trail down her face, yet she showed no signs of sadness. 

 

“Hey”, Severance put a hand on her back, “Are you alright, should I be worried?”. 

 

Rus stared blankly into the rain. Alexander was just returning from inspecting the Calendar more closely. Though Rus seemed far away. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this”, Rus nodded. 

 

“It looks like Malik has made his way deep into the Calendar after Markus, I don’t think we will be seeing him anytime soon. It’s was quick thinking on part of the Ven and the Runemasters to dive in there after Markus. I don’t know what to expect now, all we can do is wait, and prepare for the next turning”. Alexander adjusted the Arcanomechanical Breather her was tinkering with. 

 

“I need to talk to this General Fel, and find out who my next handler will be”, Severance turned to Mr.Black. 

 

The party was interrupted as a cold darkness set upon them. Tartarus, Mortis, Hadriel, The Eye of the Storm, Sigismund, Pan, Eko, and Lady Kamari stepped out of a folding darkness. There were so many members of the Concordant Council it felt punitive by its very presence. Eko stepped forward to Severance. 

“We have some questions Severance, we have felt ripples through Memora, we are struggling to recall some important members of our Council” As he spoke the Firstborn and Concordant encircled Faia, Velyen, Ibraham, Severance, Alexander, Topaz, and Kolotl. They were the only members of the Circle who were present. 

 

“Rufus is gone” answered Severance with a slight grimace as he pained to remember the man. “The Mother of Bones, General Tavanya, and countless others were lost. And let me be crystal, these are our losses as much as they are yours.”

 

Eko glanced to the rest of the Concordant before looking back at Severance. “Agreed, we will do what we can to help, but you have to understand something. Because of the nature of our roles and the Calendar, we are playing a very risky game by just being here”.

 

“Would you care to elaborate?” Severance cocked his head slightly. 

 

“Markus, we know he’s back, that means if we are taken Memora could fall apart at its core. He would win. The tiles at the core of the Calendar are more vulnerable now that he is back. If we don’t play a game of survival, Markus the Vile will claim the rest of us. If you think that the losses we have had so far are bad, you can’t imagine what happens when the Concordant start dying.” Eko paused “Which is why this next part will be so difficult”.

 

“What are you talking about? Are you saying you’re all going to go into hiding?” Severance rolled his head in disappointment. 

 

“Let’s just say you won’t be seeing many of us very frequently, which is why we wanted to come and make this departure in person, and to explain why it is absolutely necessary. Know that we now go to a different kind of battle, in the Primescape, and we hope that our actions there aid you here on the Primal. If we are to defeat Markus the Vile, we must battle on a different plane. But trust me, it’s not pretty there either.” Eko raised his hand, holding up the staff of the Ancient One. “The Ancient One has called us there, we need to awaken the Drakes of old, it will bring great power to the land in preparation for the coming battle.”

 

“Great, so we can handle this down here, on our own, while you wage a metaphysical battle in the next dimension, that’s perfect. I get it.” A finger was placed on Severance’s lips to silence him, Velyen had been making gestures for more than a moment but had so far failed to get his attention. She began to mouth several words to Eko hurriedly while Eko nodded. Eko and Velyen gave each-other a smiling embrace and a tearful nod of victory. 

 

“I believe you are far more capable than permit yourself to believe Severance” and with that Eko hugged the man and stepped back. 

 

Other members of the Concordant placed their hands on the shoulders of Severance, as a gesture of trust, and bestowment of power. There was a reverberating hum, so loud as to shake their very bones, and waves of heat from all around. The remaining members of the Concordant Circle felt different. A strange conviction overcame them. Severance was no exception. 

 

“I understand” said Severance, looking at his Polearm and the circle at his back. He nodded. 

 

In a flurry of flame, smoke, snow, and black winds the Concordant Council were gone. In their wake the Concordant Circle stood, with several members of the Caravan bearing witness to the exchange. 

 

 

Far within the Calendar, the echoes of running footsteps could be heard. The halls of stone shifted and slid. Malick could see the doorway slowly closing a hundred yards away. He sprinted, and dropped to his knees sliding, letting loose arrows against the two constructs that guarded the entrance. The dark constructs unraveled and exploded across the hallway. The momentum carried his way across the floor as the door came down blocking his exit. Taking a moment to breath, Malick smirked and stood upright in the darkness. Markus couldn’t be too far ahead. Though that was not the mission. Malick produced a vial of blood and quickly drew a ritual circle. He then sat within the circle and began to concentrate. There was a soft glow on the edges of the circle as Malick rose. “2 down, 6 to go”. With that Malick sprinted off down a different corridor. “Markus, I know you are close but you are not my target today. Make no mistake, I am going to find you and when I do, I will break you! I'll rip you apart and find a fate worse than death for you! I owe you that! Just stick to the plan Malick, its all going according to plan", whispered Malick as he neared the next closing door.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 14:01
 
Tohmio's Trip PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mckell McIntyre   
Monday, 17 November 2014 22:34

Tohmio’s Trip, 

 

Coughs echoed the room as the smoke cleared. Tohmio covered his mouth momentarily to fend of the sulfurous stench. Tak simply blinked as her arcanomechanical breather hissed impatiently. She held the Prince of Magpies by her side who was presently bent in hacking agony. The view of the cavern opened up before them lit by flowing magma. They stood on an small island of obsidian. 

 

“Why didn’t you tell me this place was going to smell like old eggs?” coughed the Prince. He straightened and resumed his regal bearing. “This is most unusual”. 

 

Tohmio glanced about the space, recognizing the great forge, anvil, delicate silver wings, and all manner of armor displayed across the many mannequins. They stood like sentinels in a great circle each one a masterpiece. At the edge of the island, by the forge, a figure began to emerge from the swirls of smoke. Its yellow glowing eyes narrowed from behind dark clouds. Its shoulders were wide and decorated with intricate armor. Atop a grinning helm it sported a large pair of obsidian horns. Fumes coiled from beneath the helm as it spoke.

 

“Blood of Roland. You have returned. The hour is late. Our enemy grows stronger.”

 

“Who?” interrupted the Prince, “Exactly are you?”. 

 

“I am Galadruk the Betrayed. I have what you need.” He snarled from beneath his great helm. 

 

Tohmio stepped forward while Tak and the Magpie Prince gazed on hesitantly. The smoke and darkness passing to reveal his strange new face. Golden patterns tinged with green adorned his face like sickly veins. He slowly raised his golden staff, the Hellevator Scepter, aloft for Galadruk to see. 

 

“Its eating away at me Galadruk, this thing. Why did you give it to me?” Tohmio spoke slowly, his voice still booming across the cavern. 

 

“I helped him craft the cursed thing, the Vile one, while my poor brother, Dramuk, was trapped inside” Galadruk yelled as he extended an armored claw towards the scepter. “We did not know what it would become. We were tricked. The Lord of the Eclipse will pay for what he has done. You must travel to within it to destroy Dramuk. No doubt he has been bent by the infernal power of that thing”.

 

Tak stepped between the armored giant and Tohmio, “We need his true name Galadruk”, as she spoke she raised a small parchment. “If we are going to hope to free him from this prison, or destroy him. Trust me, I’ve dealt with the machinations of the Vile one before. My family, my people, were trapped inside the Sky Bearer by Markus the Vile long ago. Many of us were lost. 

 

The Magpie prince lifted a small hourglass from his pouch and observed that the bright green sand within was nearly out. “My my ... we should be going Tohmio, I can only keep us in this Verge for so long, do hurry with the pleasantries. It’ll take even longer to get this stink out of my new hat”.

 

“My favor your grace, remember, there and back, that was the deal?” Tohmio nodded to the Magpie Prince. 

 

“Yes ... yes, but hurry it up” sighed the Magpie Prince. 

 

Galadruk’s claw had just finished burning a long and delicate scrawl across the parchment. Tak collected it and rolled it up.

 

“Tohmio, you must defeat Dramuk and free yourself from the curse of that scepter. However, once you do that place will have no master, and quickly unravel. Without the will of Dramuk to hold it together, you will not be able to control where it takes passengers. It might doom you to the Abyss. 

 

“We have an Innovation for that”, Tak responded, “We’re the Runemasters after all”, as Tak spoke she raised a strange brilliant object from her pouch. It looked like a glowing blue snake coiling in on itself over and over. Tak placed it back within its container. It’s the Arcaneumonicator, first of its kind. Its the first fully artificial mind comprised of pure Arcmanum. 

 

“Yes yes, that’s marvellous and pretty” sighed the Magpie Prince. “Now can we please get going?”

 

“Not yet” said Tohmio as he stepped towards Galadruk. “I have too many questions. Why me? Why now? How do I know we can trust you?”

 

“We haven’t got the time for that!” Interrupted the Magpie Prince. Tak and the Prince stepped towards Tohmio. 

 

Galadruk’s great voice filled the cavern. “What choice do you have Tohmio? Like me you were forced into a duty without fully knowing what it meant. I was right in choosing you, you’ve chosen the right allies. It’s time to polish up that Hearthbeard talent of yours and bring your friends”. 

 

Tak and the Magpie Prince each placed a hand on Tohmio’s shoulder. Tohmio sighed as he gazed at the magnificent wonders within the cavern one last time. Tak nodded to Tohmio and the Magpie Prince. Within the blink of an eye the three vanished.

 
A Request is Sent... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anita L   
Wednesday, 19 November 2014 10:25

With a quick glance to the rising sun over the hills, the figure in the bed rises and begins to ponder the day before him.  He reaches for his tunic as he carefully brushes it off he inspects it for miniscule dust particles that might have clung to the deep weave of the cloth.  His careful inspection is interrupted as he hears scratching from the next room.  Quickly, he dons the tunic and heads toward the sound. He turns the corner, and catches sight of his mother trying to wash her face, he deftly rights the bowl from its spinning and as she washes her face he makes small talk as he studies her visage.   The weather- worn crags are a testament to her life of fighting in service to The Adamant Brotherhood, the lines around her lips indicate her readiness to laugh and embrace life, but the truly ghastly site is the blankness of her eyes.  It is not that they are not present; it is only that the window to her soul is blocked and they are merely shells.  It is the reason that the leadership allow him to stay with her in Morningvale, rather than being in the barracks with the other Novitiates.  After she pats her face dry, he gently guides his mother to her waiting cane and he hovers over her as she carefully treads to the kitchen.  She does not like him hovering, but he cannot help himself. He tries to remain removed, at a distance, but his eyes are always watching out for her.

 

Once, she is settled at the table he begins preparations for making them porridge for breakfast.  He is aware that he must hurry in that he has his typically busy list of duties at the Adamantine Temple.  He gulps down his porridge, the top of his mouth burning he reaches for a glass of water to douse the pain.  Checking the progress of her consumption, he notices that she is eating a little bit more then yesterday and is pleased.  A quick survey of the window reveals that her chair, afghan pooled over the side, is positioned at an angle so she can feel the warmth of the sun on her face while he is away.  After she finishes eating, he guides her over to the chair and carefully places her cane within easy hand reach.  He kisses the top of her head lovingly and whispers, “Silence is the enemy.” With a straightening of her shoulders and a quick smile of pride she answers back, “Shine where all is dark.”  With these words, the young man leaves his mother and heads to his calling.

Throwing open the front door, he notices the chill in the air and wraps his cloak tighter. As always, his gaze fixes on his destination as the adamant of its high, slender towers glows with a blue-green radiance that shadows the blue of the sky.  His sense of pride wells as he walks toward his life.  As he travels closer he is caught in the stream of messengers, visiting lords, and wealthy traders who are each about their own business.  As he waits to enter a side door he cannot help but stare at the Orrery.  He dreams one day of being needed by the Excelscians for what, he cannot fathom, but as he fixates on the iridescent panes of the star globe he cannot help but dream. 

He walks through the lines of desks to his own small desk.  He moves toward the front of the room to assume his desk as head scholar. He gets a nod and a greeting of welcome as he passes each occupied desk of other novitiates who are working through stack of papers.  He takes his seat and glances to the front of the room, emblazoned are the words.

Peace through Understanding

Authority through Virtue

Victory through Will

Repeating those words internally, Simon centers himself and prepares to review the work of the day.  He knows that much of his day is filled with things that are considered trivial but he knows without the work of himself and his fellow brothers the functioning of the temple would slow, perhaps even halt. Especially now, as in these most recent days a jarring sense of unease had crept up spires of the Temple itself, slithering in on the words of messengers from one of the outlying Founts. Lady Amatara was dead, murdered in cold blood. The death of a founder could never have passed without incident, but more messages had soon arrived and it was all too clear what her assailants purpose had been. Soon after, as more brothers and sisters had been called home from their missions, each of them are taking blade in hand to bolster the Temple's already formidable defenses, Simon knew why. The blood of an Excelcian was used to breach the Laberynthae. Reportedly there had been but one cell opened, the innermost, the most impregnable, the cell of the First. "First among the Fallen," these words that take the place of a name cause his mind to race. "Honor--" Simon chokes under his breath as he tries to form the words of the mantra, despite his nerves. "Honor the Sacrificed---and mark well the Fallen". After a long moment, the panic subsides, and he is able to continue passed the ever growing ranks of guards.

He examines the stack, and sees at the top, one with an embossed seal of the Scarlet Crusader.  There is no mistaking this seal and his hands tremble a bit in the wonder that this Excelscian, himself, could have written this message.  His hands steady and he focuses on his duty. He opens the letter and reviews the writing.  A Justicar of Gavel is required.  There are issues of judging and justice that must be addressed in the Caravan.  He knows that these Justicars are not always available and it can take them some time to travel through Memora, but the need is urgent and he must impress this need into the message.  The greatest hope of all Memora seems to have broken down into squabbling among themselves rather than focusing on the true enemies.

Simon lays down the letter, ponders this, then begins writing a message….

 
The Taking Continues PDF Print E-mail
Written by Greg Tomaselli   
Thursday, 06 November 2014 20:25

A crowned male wearing a mask approached the tall tower.  Its walls were wreathed in blue and white crystals that dripped crystalline blue drops and made from lengths of ice, faceted and beautiful.  The base of the tower revealed no portal by which to gain entry, but along it stood several Chillsworn and Frost Beards.  Each brandished a weapon of ice.  The man approached these guardians of the tower and nodded his greetings.  He looked from left to right, surveying the spacing of the guards and the weapons they carried.  Looking up he saw the light from of the northern sun glance off the tower and reflect to shine upon his face, warming it.  He smiled, and drew forth a prism pendent.  He held it up and let it refract the sun’s rays, bending the light and casting it upon several of the guardians.  Everywhere those beams touched they moved their target out of the prime and deep into the fugue. He continued his macabre work until several of the guardians had been removed.  He then grabbed one of the guardian’s swords and drove it into the base of the tower.  A door, 10 feet to his right, opened in the wall and allowed him entry. 

Several hundred feet above, behind a huge door of the purest ice, was a woman, both beautiful and terrible.  She bore a crown of the first winter’s ice and radiated pure cold.  Those of the world knew her as the Duchess of Bitterfrost.  She moved about her chambers with purpose.  Upon her bureau rested a small, open chest that held a small blue shard.  She had promised to keep it safe, yet loathed this duty.  Her place was not to babysit some mortal’s trinket no matter what he had become.  She knew he needed it, but so did many others.  She would keep it safe until his return and he would owe her.  There were other relics around the room, many of which were weapons, and some books, bound in white leather.  Arcane knowledge as old as Memora itself rested within their thin wooden bindings.  The weapons around the room had all seen battle and none were there for mere decoration.  The Duchess had wielded most of them over the years and smote her enemies whenever they opposed her.  She laughed at the thought of some of those fools who had dared raise arms against her.  She sat at her desk to complete a letter when she heard a knock at her door.  She grimaced at this ill-timed interruption.  She waved at the door and it opened to admit whomever it was that had come calling.  The man wearing the mask stepped inside and shut the door behind him.  A dark light erupted from around the door and held it fast within its frame.  Blood dripped down the door and froze into grisly veins within the grain of the door.  The Duchess turned and stared at him.  She noted that several of her wards had been set off, the effects of which sent alarms pounding in her head. The man smiled at her with a mirth that did not quite make it to his eyes 

“Greetings your Grace,” he said as he bowed to her. 

She could sense something familiar about him.  That bow, its style, its grace, was one she had seen before.  Svelbrek had bowed in a similar fashion, but it has been many years since she had seen him.  She had heard of his passing and was surprised to see this man mimic Svelbrek’s courtly greeting.  He rose and took a seat in a nearby chair, gesturing for her to do the same. She turned her back to him.  The masked man spoke again, but this time it was not his voice, but that of another.

“My dearest friend, the epochs drew us together in this very tower.  It was here that we made our bond of silence and it was here that our blood was spilled to seal our alliance.  You stood by me as friend and ally for many long years.” Svelbrek’s voice cracked with remorse,“I was there for you when your daughter Isha fell and I caught the tears that you shed for her.  You were there for me when the silence ended and we were not victorious.  We parted ways. I fell, and I was taken.  I am here, now, with you.  We stand together again, in this chamber of silence.  Help me and I will take him with me, out of here, and out of your life.” 

She looked at him and turned from his gaze, and made her way to the wall.  She crossed her arms in front of her, perused the many items on the wall and decided on a large spear.  She drew it down and spun it in her hands, then leaned against it. 

“You have my permission to leave my chambers,” she spoke, but knew it was useless to expect him to take up her offer. 

He rose from his chair and looked at the door from which he came.  He looked back at her and spoke.

“I will leave, but you have something I need.  I am willing to let you gift it to me and in return I will owe you a favor.”

She thought about this and asked what it was he was seeking. 

“The Foe, where is his vessel?” he asked. 

Her eyes did not betray her surprise.  She had not shared anything relating to this topic to anyone on the Prime.  This man knew too much and she was taken aback by this revelation. 

“I am not in a position to relay that information to you,” she spoke. 

The man dropped his head, clearly disappointed.  He had not removed his hand from the back of the chair since he had first taken it and now brought it around to rest in front of him, letting its icy mass clatter loudly on the fur lined floor.  It shattered as it landed, shards of ice spreading across the floor.  The shard’s facets reflected the items in the room, including the beautiful face of the duchess who now wore a look of grim determination and resolve.  And in the others was a being of pure white, clad in tattered garments and whose hands were claws as long as swords, terrible and menacing.  The spear could be heard cutting the air and the words “you are taken” echoed softly throughout the icy chamber..   

 
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