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….
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..
Written by Mckell McIntyre
Monday, 17 November 2014 22:34
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.
Epilogue of the First Turning of Darkhollow 414
Written by Mckell McIntyre and Ben Bell
Saturday, 25 October 2014 17:34
First Turning of Darkhollow 414, Epilogue:
Written by Ben Bell and Mckell McIntyre
“Standing in a circle on the outskirts of Snarg’s Fount, Lord Evergreen, The Cobbler, The Black Goat of the Woods, Pox, Jack of the Patch, Scrumrot, Jespar, Gorehowl, Dagmar and other various Lords of the Hunt convened, surrounded by dozens upon dozens of their kin.
“In tradition with our Hunts, the prey has been decided. Our prey for this Hunt are the Damned!” Dagmar declared and a cheer arose from the crowd.
Gorehowl raised his horn and bellowed out a blast that only a Troll of his size could, and the crowd of Fey roared as they all scattered around the outskirts of Snarg’s Fount to begin.
Standing with Dagmar, Gorehowl was confused and asked “So the Erl King let you declare the Hunt this time, and you devoted it to the Damned? Why?”
Dagmar replied “It’s a favor from the mortals that are currently in Snarg’s Fount, and a prey that we all as Fey can easily agree upon.”
Gorehowl shrugged and nodded, then lumbered off to participate in the Hunt.
Soon after the Fey had encircled the miles around Snarg’s Fount, legions of Damned of all types began to pour forth from all directions. Blinking into the Prime or rising from graves, they wandered towards the Fount where the heroes of the Caravan were engaging in thick combat with the Damned and Felsworn. The Hunt was officially under way.
By the time the sun had risen again, the Fey continued to have a bountiful harvest of the Damned, sending them back to whence they came.”
Rufus gazed intently at the Calendar. Even today, with everything they had accomplished, it was still a complete mystery. How could they continue? What would become of Memora? Would it all last? He heard a familiar voice behind him punctuated by mechanical breaths.
“Let’s go” said Tak. “It’s almost time, chop chop.”.
Rufus nodded as Tak readied her power armor and checked her goggles.
“They can’t...” began Rufus, “They can, have some confidence in them” Tak interrupted.
The Calendar shifted slightly, unprovoked. The Sky-bearer blinked out of their vision in an instant. It left the air charged around it almost humming with latent power.
“They don’t know what they are doing, they don’t know what it means” Rufus completed his thought. “They will need that book Tak. They will need the Circle. But it won’t last. How can they defeat him? It’s so futile..”
“You don’t know that” as Tak spoke she readied her weapons. “They’ve chosen their path, it’s in their hands now. Some will choose law, some will choose chaos, and some will choose to make their own way”. As Tak finished, her breather’s quiet hissing was the only sound.
“Without consensus, their choices will mean nothing. Only with their will united do they stand a chance against him. He will break them like egg shells and drink the yoke of their souls”. Rufus stopped, realizing he had crushed part of the table with his glove.
“Then let’s not waste anymore time”, said Tak “Let’s make them as ready as we can for whatever is coming”. With that, Tak threw her arm towards the door and stomped her foot.
Rufus readied himself and followed Tak out through the door. As they reached the road leading to Darke’s Fount they were met by the Scarlet Crusader - Arodor, Mortis, Sygismund, Liliana, and Sochari. The group appeared to be in a silent conversation of their own as Rufus and Tak joined them.
Sochari’s spoke “The Prophecy of light is being written as we speak. My revelation is becoming clearer, with each word.. I understand.. what I must do”. His glazed white eyes drifting off as if to Arodor. It means we will need to expect even more of them. These brave and crazy wanderers are going to carve their names in the stars if they keep it up, I just hope we can give them the time they need to do so”.
“How can they?” Arodor turned, his face grim, “Their pride will destroy them. They will be beset on all sides by mistrust, dishonor, and greed. It’s written in the Dark Prophecy. I’m seeing it come to pass. Arodor’s red glow began to intensify, basking his frustration in its radiance. Suddenly his breath took form as Sygismund rested his hand on his shoulder. A visible chill ran down his back.
“Patience champion of Embercrown” Sygismund whispered, “Your brothers fought valiantly and with great honor during the Tournament. They will bring that same honor to you in time. They are young. But one of their lives I have lived manyfold. I know they simply must continue to be tested. I have faith they will prove worthy inheritors of Memora”.
With a sigh Liliana turned “Enough talk, we have another battle before us, one that the Caravan cannot win alone. If my children are taken by Oblivion, then the Dark Prophecy will have played another note. The Mortis Council, your allies of the Concordant Council, will be forced to take back the keys we returned. That is.. if your Orders and Organizations fail. Which I hope they do not”. Liliana let her words sink in silence. It wasn’t a threat. It was a possible outcome they all understood as a last resort. If the the Quelling tree would be the end of the Dead, then the Dead would take power and assurance against that threat forcibly if needed.
Her shadows deepened as an avatar of death approached. It was a Reaper, Firstborn of Shadowmaw, Mortis bowed slightly, the extending darkness began to envelope them all. “Come, through the Veil, I will petition mother night to aid us on our next task”, as Mortis Spoke, Sochari closed his eyes and focused his will. In an instant, the entire company vanished. Silence stood in their wake.
Snarg’s Fount stood empty. The Caravan was gone. The terrible hunter Erybus had been vanquished, the Damned had been pushed back, and another turning had been completed. In its wake, Darkhollow had shown the weaknesses of these intrepid few. It bore them out like a fever. The bones of cultist lay broken, the horrid creatures of the vale had burned, and new allies had been made. What’s more, the first wounds in a greater battle had been delivered. Enemies on all sides now baited the Caravan with false promises of power and glory. What knowledge would arm them? What good news waited on the horizon? To battle, glory, honor, and death they marched once more. The stars above, the very faces of the Orisons, looked down on them with hope.