Kronos Edict

Interlude: Sorrow, Anger, and Fear

While the crickets chirp and the fire slowly crackles throughout the night, Ariana can only toss and turn as of late. So many thoughts running amok in her head, so many questions about herself and her place in the world. “…What should I do…” she slowly whispers to herself as she rises and makes her way towards the section of camp where Welf was sleeping. The neurotic man lay on top of his bed roll clutching his pack as if ready for some night bound assault on the camp. “Welf” a faint whisper. “Welf, wake up” only realizing her mistake at the last second as she sees her arm reaching out to wake him. With the deft reflexes of her other arm to cover his mouth “MMMPPHHHMPPPP!!!!” Welfs eyes darting around looking for whatever escape he can only to see Ariana with her finger up to her lips and a smile pursed against to it.

“Well, what could be SO important that you HAD to wake me, I WAS about to have a bre…” His words trail off as he sees the darkness sink in her eyes. “Alright, alright you have my attention” His posture more relaxed and gentle. Moments of silence pass until she finally speaks “I’m sorry for waking you, I..I-I just didn’t know what else to do…” The tears now trickling down her cheeks slowly and faintly in the starlight. “I feel so conflicted, I’m so happy traveling with this group, everyone treats me so nicely and Dominick actually sees me as an equal, not a weapon, not a tool to be used, not even a monster!” Her voice raising higher and higher “I don’t think anyone has ever thought of me that way, not since I can remember. Sure they were suspicious at first, but how could they not be with what I am?” Her head hangs slightly then picking up showing a small grin, tears still flowing “But Dominick, no, not him, he took one look at me and saw me as an individual, a PERSON Welf, a person…”

Welfs eyes widened with what the part weapon part woman has said before him. “Well that’s good is it not? You SHOULD be happy with that, you aren’t just SOME random emotionless thing Ariana, you laugh, you cry, you feel pain and fear…” Welfs eyes drift away from hers with a mild sadness to them. “You need not worry about the past Welf, you did help me after all, it wasn’t your fault…” her hands reaching out clasping his face “You SAVED me then and I will be eternally grateful.” “WELL either way, WHY would you be CONFLICTED about your current SITUATION then? I don’t fully understand.” As she lets go of his face, her hands fall into her lap the the tears begin anew. “…o…erve…ppy” still looking down speaking the words into her chest “You’ll have to speak up dear these old ears aren’t what they used to be.” “Do…se..t…ppy…” annoyed Welf grabs her shoulders and shakes her slightly “SPEAK. CLEARLY.” Her head bolting upright nearly smashing his. “DO I DESERVE TO BE HAPPY!!!” she all but bellows out in his face, the tears flowing non-stop not.

A few moments pass as the sobbing subsides, Welf patting her on the back “Ariana, look up at me.” Her tear stained face looking up at him like a wounded pup looking at its mother, a faint grin passes his lips and his hand makes clean contact with her face in a resounding slap. “YOU FOOLISH GIRL! HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE!! HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING IN YOUR TRAVELS?!?!” Eyes as wide as dinner plates she falls back and staggers at the frazzled mans face “Wha..” she barely stammers out before he can speak again “YOU REALLY THINK YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE HAPPY YOU DAMNED FOOL!? YOU HAVE THE SAME RIGHT AS EVERYONE ELSE, DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE BORN? NO! DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE A DEMONBLADE? MAYBE..I still haven’t gotten that far in my research…” he trails off anger subsiding only for a moment.“YOU DIDN’T CHOOSE YOUR LIFE BUT YOU CAN DAMN WELL CHOOSE HOW YOU LIVE IT” His arms gesturing uncontrollably. “YOU. ARE. A. PER-SON, AR-I-A-NA. YOU. DES-ERVE. TO. BE. HA-PPY.” Her tears pouring from her eyes now “Don’t believe me, ask that Dominick fellow, he’ll tell you the SAME damned thing, now dry your eyes Ariana, the silence spell I cast is wearing out and if something attacked the camp we wouldn’t know it, so we’d better get back before they find out…” Araina rises from the ground wiping her eyes and clearing her throat, “Dominick is okay still so…I think their fine…”

“Have fun in the plane of fire” Percival mutters as he watches the party fall slowly into the abyss only to get swept up in storm of leaves and vines and vanish. Time still frozen and Chise reverting back to human form. “Damned fey, interfering where they don’t belong.” He spits at the ground vain popping on his forehead. A moment passes and he regains his composure. “Come along Chise, We must leave the city before they converge upon us” Chises head hung low looking at her hands shaking. “Oh for…COME ALONG!” Percival scream grabbing her by the arm and vanishing as time begins moving again.

SMACK Chise hits the ground hard as Percival stands before her hand extended in an open palm. “Don’t think that just because i’m using you now means your valuable to me wench!” Her head still hung clutching her shoulders and shaking. “Whats wrong? Seeing your daughter look at you with disgusted rage and fear have you that shaken up? WELL SHAPE UP!” His arms rising again as she flinches in place “Shes not your daughter anymore nor you her mother. You, my dear, are a tool made by me, to be used by me, then throw away once you are worthless, now stand and remember your place by my side!” Her head lifts, eyes devoid of emotion “Yes of course, I won’t forget again” She stands and dusts herself off returning to his side. “Now then, we’ll need to rest somewhere far from here and I think I know the perfect place.” A wild toothy grin crawls along his face and he grabs her and vanishes one more.

YOU JUST DON’T GET IT MAN! MAYONNAISE! THAT FUCKER FED ME MAYONNAISE! A WHOLE TANKARD FULL” the large disgruntled farmer shouts at the stop of his lungs, face flushed and clearly drunk. The man sitting next to him nodding in a similar drunken state. “I hear ya man, s’fucked up is what it is, but Fran? whatchu even gonna do about it? you’re just a nobody farmer and that guy he hic he was like one of them heros ya hear about in storys. Shows up one day, beats a bunch of monsters, saves the town, and the poof” his hands flailing and fingers wiggling wildly “gone with the wind *hic” Fran, now named, slumps in his stool “I know, I know, but it just got me so worked up and its not like I got a lot to complain about anyway, so throw me a damn bone would ya?” The drunken man next to Fran raises his tankard to clack his “Yeah I feel ya, just keep drinkin and screamin make ya forget everyone’s laughin atcha” Frans red face now turning redder with embarrassment.

“Maybe I can help you quell that anger that stirs in your soul friend.” Frans head whips around to see the toothy grin of a man in a deep crimson cloak. "Whatchu mean stranger? hic " he mumbles out before Percival plants a small black gem in his hand. “Just focus on that little gem and remember the pain and humiliation you felt, and your revenge will be had.” The toothy grin even larger now as Frans vision fades leaving only the strangers words and smile in his mind. “Revenge”

“Night mission are never fun, let alone enjoyable give the circumstances you normally have to endure.” Levi thought to herself as she stalked the halls of Siegfrieds castle looking for her prey. “Normally doing this kind of work in another kingdom is out of the question, but its a personal request from Lilly, how could I turn her down…” Levi’s mind wondering while scanning the walls, floors, and everything between looking for hiding spots and ambush points.

Not long after reaching Heaven’s Gate, Lilith explained the whole situation to Levi, About how there may be some sort of plot growing in the ranks of the army, of the wrong doings cast up the previous vice chief of the guard Red Eyed Zechs, and that the current vice chief was under suspect of setting him up.

“I don’t know how much I believe about this whole dark god thing Lilly. I mean is there any real evidence of it? I know you put a lot of faith and trust in your brother, but I mean come on, shouldn’t there be a little more to go on before jumping the gun?” Levi sips at her tea staring Lilith in the eyes with slight concern. “You should know just as well as I do Levi, If we let any sort of corruption begin to swell within our own walls who knows what could happen. We need to nip these things in the bud before they get out of hand, and if it turns out we were just being paranoid then thats that” Lilith’s face darkens “If not, then we must act swiftly and bestow justice!”

A door creaks open as Levi shakes her head not realizing her instinct hid her before her target entered the room, “Being lost in thought does not a good spy make!” Her old masters words ringing through her head. Footsteps traces across the floor as she peers over the beds canopy to see the man she has been informed is Hendrickson, the alleged traitor. She waits and watches silently from her hiding spot for anything suspicious. Reaching his desk Hendrickson sit downs and begins filling out some sort of paper work and speaks to himself.

“Everything is running smoothly, albeit a bit slow, but Percival did say these things take time.” Levi’s ears ringing at the mention of Percival, someone Lilith told her to watch out for, seemed to be in league with this god Vali. “If only I could move on my own and make Lord Vali’s will know then we would have this city eating out of the palm of our hands, and that blasted Siegfried bound in chains along with the rest of his family!” Biting her lip almost clenching through at the words coming from this mans mouth. “Its true!” she thought, dammit Lilith was right, her damned brother was right, she had to get out and find Lilith to take this scum bag down. But her body couldn’t move, she was stuck, frozen, held in place as a cold chill went down her spine.

A small flash a light from bellow the canopy and a jumped start from the man below. Whats happening, why can’t I move, who’s down there. All these thought races through her head as she begs for her body to move but it just won’t. “Ah, ah Lord Vali, you shouldn’t sneak up on me like that, scared me half to death.” A small chuckle can be heard and a faint voice speak up “Come now child, I wouldn’t do anything like that to you, you one of my precious followers. But you truly must be careful when you speak child and what you speak about.” The tension growing stronger and the chill colder and Levi lays atop the beds canopy paralyzed, the fear creeping on her, the realization, she’d be found out…

“What do you mean Lord Vali?” The man cocks his head towards the shrouded man. “You never know where a RAT might be skulking about!” With a quick flourish the canopy rips asunder and Levi falls, collapsing to the floor between Hendrickson and the shrouded man. Her eyes stare up in horror, mouth agape, barely comprehending what shes seeing. “You..y-y-you can’t…aren’t you” Her lips seal shut with another flourish. “Ah ah ah, now now young one, you never know who might be listening.” Tilting his head slightly and grinning at the terrified husk that once was a confident young champion. “But now that you know, i’ll have to make sure you’re taken excellent care of, welcome to my ranks young Levi Telwaz.” His low chuckle piercing her ears as her consciousness slowly fades. “Welcome to the start of my new world…..”

A time and past long forgotten towards a future unwritten.

“How is she?” Marx asked as he approached the small bed Jinn lay on. “Well she’s not out of the woods yet. Few are as strong as this one is, but I think in time she’ll pull through.” Lore-keeper Viper responds as he begins to return his books to their respective shelves. The air in the room is cold and the tension between the two men colder. Marx rolls back his sleeves to compare the black tendriled tattoos that cover his body and now cover the body of the young girl before him.

“How much longer can we keep letting people come back like this Marx? How many more lives have to be put at risk before you step up and say something?” Marx turns to viper now facing him, books slammed to the table at his side. “One more? Ten perhaps? I know it isn’t easy running an empire nor looking after so many lost souls like your guard, but enough is enough!”

The silence from Marx continued as the two stared at one another. Moments though what felt like minutes to hours, Marx in turn asked viper “Do you understand what you are asking?” Mark rolls his sleeves back down and his eyes narrow. “You’re telling me to inform my people of the danger that lurks around every corner and that there is nothing I can do about it?!?” Marx steps closer with each word and voice raising every sentence. “To let them feel the panic and a fear of those 250 years ago for no good reason other than to give them that fear?!?! I have not lived this long nor ruled over my people as I have by making rash poor decisions!!”

Viper now pushed back against his bookshelves with the 8 foot tall Goliath screaming in his face, releases a heavy sigh and pushes Marx gently away “I’m sorry, I know it is not my place to tell you how to rule nor live your life, but I still find it my places to warn and advise when the going gets tough, and right now it’s tougher than its ever been.” The two found themselves looking out the window over the vast city of Finnders Keep. “Soon, soon I’ll have all the answers I’ll need in order to help save my people and this world from the dangers arising.” Marx solemnly whispers to himself.

“I think I might be able to help with the answer you are looking for my gigantic muscular friend!” Both men turned to see a small childlike entity bouncing up and down on Jinns bed clapping his hands rapidly.

“It’s been quite some time Tet, it’s good to see you again, or I guess I should say, why the hell are you back?” Marx angered whispers turning into a roar. The room once again filled with silence, viper stood still jaw agape. “I’m afraid I haven’t a clue who you are good sir so it’s not possible for us to have met again, but I believe we should save the talking for once my little group of friends return, don’tcha think?” The tension in the room palpable, his hands still in fists. With a heavy sigh, fingers released Marx sat down. “Fine, have it your way. But we’ll be having a personal talk later punk, don’t you think otherwise. There’s a lot of explaining for you to do…” Marx trailed off his words as head magus radius poked his head in “Master Talbot? Shall I inform master Kingfisher of his arrival?” a few moments past as Tet slowly and quietly whispers to himself. “Please” as Marx slowly nods his head.

A dark, dank cave filled with moss and goblin blood lay before a man in a deep crimson cloak. As he wandered the deeper parts of the cave he found himself at a fork in the road of sorts, four paths to choose.

As he starts with the first, a dead end that leads no where, the second a few bodies lay throw about, some doppelganger, some human, some goblin. The third path chosen leads to an entrance where a mangled rotting corpse await the nose and eyes of those unready. A toothy grin climbs across the face of the cloaked man.

The man approaches the body and kneels down to get a closer look as the grin returns “Poor, poor Azoth, cut down before I could cut you down myself. Nothing more than foolish pawn not able to complete the simple task handed down” The mans hand reaches down into the ruined carcass of Azoth.

“If only you realized that this death will not bring you peace, for your work is not yet done” The bloody hand removes itself holding a small black crystal. The toothy grin of the man turned to malicious laughter.

“Well, we have what we came back for, come Chise, we have much left to do before Vali is ready for his grand stage.” As if from no where the small, slender woman bows and offers to take the gem from his hand. “As you wish master Percival” The cloaked man laughes as he walks out of the cave with the slender woman in tow. Percival Alben is making his move.

It had been a few days since Issac had rested his body, there was to much to do and far to little time for him to accomplish all he set out to. It was almost as if fate had it out for the drained half orc. Even being one of the chosen few, a champion can only do so much alone and under the guise of a civilian. Going through each and every safe house and church of Triniel, searching for those that stray from the correct path, has only shown him how far the depravity that seeped deep into the teaching of his god have reached.

Experiments, torture, abduction, and more were the crimes committed by those that were exposed to the truth and the lies told to them by an unknown source. Issac wiped his brow as he caught his breath wondering how much longer he would have to search. Dressing his wounds after freeing the last group of experimented children, his attackers none other than members of his own church.

He shook his head free from the thoughts of doubt and re-donned his hood and began pursuit of the last child. The screams and shouts of merchants and zealots from the streets filled his ears as he turned and saw who he was looking for, the small girl in a nuns habit leaping to the back of an elven woman and turning invisible. He followed and waiting for his moment but knew he could wait for just that, a moment.

As the elvish girl walked out of the alley with the small girl in tow, He dashed out from street knowing his time was up and only uttered one thing. “Keep that girl safe” and fled out of sight.

U'leaire session one.

Our story began as the five members of the party waited in the empty tavern of the shielded paths inn, shortly after a rousing game of nancy brought on by Dominick, they were informed their mysterious contact was ready for them. As they entered the room they saw what looked like their usual contact waiting for them, but much to their surprise things were not as they seemed. After a few moments of confusion the hooded figure revealed himself to be Tet, they alleged new god that appeared fifty some odd years ago. After a few minutes of discussion and a few magical tricks to attempt to prove to the party Tet was the real thing, a deal was struck. Tet would help the party and the party would help Tet. He informed them of all the strange goings on in the town of Hopes Beacon, strange nightly goblin attacks keeping the town restless and awake for days, disappearance of citizens only to return a few days later with a cold disposition, an alleged demon blade within the town. With this information, a little bit of gold, a plan for a contract with a magic shop owner named Magi, and some magical items from Tet, the party set out to find info about whats been going on in the town.

The party decided that it would be best to split their efforts and talked to both the captain of the city guard and the mayor of Hopes Beacon. While Dominick and Anton(Travis characters name?) decided to travel to the west gate of town and talk to captain Housmen, Jinn, Bashar, and Aelita went to the center of town to see the mayor. On their way to visit the mayor Aelita noticed that the glasses, given by Tet to view the few people in town that went missing and came back different, were working showing a pair of people walked through town in the guise of townspeople but in reality recognized by Aelita later as doppelgangers. Both sets of the party found out that the goblin attacks that were occurring were not normal attacks people were used to. They seemed to be of an all black color with no iris’ or pupils, just pure white eyes, and were not killed by normal means. Attacking them only resulted in showing a gross black ichor from inside them before they pulled themselves back together. Sadly the mayor was not in at the moment but his assistant said she would find the party the moment he arrived, Dominick and Anton were informed that if they met the guards around dusk, they could join in for what they were told would be the next nightly attack.

So the party reconvened in the center of town to discuss what they had learned. Shorty after meeting up, they were introduced to Magi as she threw a drunken plus sized man out of her shop, intrigued they gave her shop a visit. As Tet had claimed she had a deal set up for them in the way of if they only shop for magical items and need at her stores and spread the word and works of Magi she would give them a nice discount on all items they purchased and excellent deals in the future. The party agreed happily and a deal was struck. To start their new contract off right, she gave each party member a personal item made personally by her, for a small price of course.(John i’ll get you the information on your item soon)

After they finished their talks with Magi, the assistant to the mayor ran into her store looking for the party saying the mayor had returned from his daily tasks and could see the party. In hopes they could get some new or more information, they hastily made their way to town hall. As they met with mayor Beckmen, Aelita saw the shocking fact that mayor Beckmen was a doppelganger himself. Without knowing how to proceed the party attempted to gain new information from the now alleged mayor. Part way through their meeting, Dominick and Jinn noticed some strange singing coming from upstairs, very relaxing and soothing singing, at which point Dominick noticed the “mayor” had no bags under his eyes and seemed to be rested compared to the rest of the town. Nervously mayor Beckmen asked if the party wanted to meet the source of the singing to which the party agreed. He took the party upstairs and unlocked a bedroom door to reveal a beautiful young woman in elegant what seemed like dancers clothes named Arianna. After a few moments of singing and an almost serene tranquility that filled the room, the party began to question the young woman. Much to their surprise after speaking to her, her use of the word wielder gave the party a strange feeling about what she may be, Aeltia realizing that her using the word wielder in the way of wielding a weapon and Jinn realizing that Arianna was in fact the demon blade they were informed about. After leaving the room and returning to the mayors office door, mayor Beckmen turned around and begged the party to remove Arianna from the town in anyway they saw fit. Confused the party asked why. Mayor Beckmen claimed, without any real proof, that she was the real reason the goblin attack were getting worse. As he held out his hand with the key to Ariannas room, A bloodcurdling scream was heard from somewhere within the town. Dominick snatched the key from the mayors hand and the party dashed into action.

As for what happens next, we’ll have to wait for next week!

Blood In The Streets, or A Revelation
The breaking of Tamarack Row

Thyrm’s arms burned as he wheeled himself up the uneven cobbles towards the Upper Ward, breath coming thick and heavy as his lungs sucked at the suffocating fog. Night had fallen, but the hungry orange of a thousand burning homes coalesced and refracted through the smoke and mist, weaving its way up to reflect off the low-hanging clouds, casting its wan glow throughout the city. Above all this, lost in the unfathomable heights, the bells continued tolling out in discordant tones, chasing friend and foe alike through the maze of blood and terror the lower Wards had become. He halted for a moment, catching his breath at a small intersection, using the brief reprieve to adjust the massive greatsword wedged against his back, eyes taking stock of the new wounds gouged across the tracery of his old scars. He had left flesh and blood in the streets behind him, but the grasping shadows with the eyes of the Reideine had paid a heavier price than he. What manner of sorcery could have called forth such creatures, and for what purpose? As he pondered that question, his ears caught the sound of stone grinding against stone. Wrenching his chair around to face the alley behind him, he drew his sword, readying the blade to slice through whatever abomination emerged from the sinister twilight. The stones of one of the buildings along the alley warped and twisted, changing their shape as if they were fluid, opening into the facsimile of a door, although there was no opening within their arch. It was as if his eyes could not focus, could not perceive what lay beyond the stones as they ceased their strange gyrations. As suddenly as it had begun, the spectacle halted, the wall remaining as straight and sturdily mortared as the day it was laid, only now a figure stood in front of it, heavily swathed in a dark cloak, earth-brown features locked into a permanently-furrowed scowl, as if they were carved from granite. The light of battle fell from Thrym’s eyes, yet he held his arms and sword tensed and ready as the Ambassador approached him.

“Tell me Eli, is this your handiwork out there tonight?” he gnashed out.

The Ambassador, Eli, turned as if looking out onto the city shrouded in fog, as if his eyes could make out what transpire beneath them. “Our enemies, MY enemies, are many and varied. I will take whatever steps necessary to ensure the protection of my charge,” his glowing green eyes turned to view Thrym, “Something you apparently have forgotten.”

Thrym lowered his blade, resting the edge on the cobblestones in front of him, “I knew you had changed, knew you were changing, but this is too far Eli. There are people dying down there, people screaming and bleeding and fleeing in terror from Ancestors knows what; and you stand up here telling me this protects them? You’ve unleashed a nightmare upon them!”

“They’ve killed the Orcs, have they not?” Eli responded, “They’ve driven off the threat to their home. Yes, collateral damage was inevitable, but as long as the city survives, the magic survives. The people will return, but Air will not, winter will not.” He threw his hand out, back towards the burning valley, fingers splayed in fury, “Fire consumes the city, Summer refuses to relinquish its hold, and the seasons themselves have ground to a halt. If the magic dies, we all die, and then there will be no survivors.” He took a forceful stride towards Thrym, “Winter will not return, the Gespri have abandoned us, the Seer has abandoned us, Air has abandoned us. I am all these people have, and they don’t even realize it! I am no Ancestor, I am no Pure. I have no army at my back, no miracle in my pocket, but I will carry out my responsibilities.”

“Winter will return,” Thrym spat back, “But the lives you have wasted here will not.”

“You are delusional,” Eli turned on his heel, cloak billowing as he strode away from Thrym towards the main thoroughfare. “I thought perhaps I could requisition your help in this matter, knowing our history, but I see I was mistaken.” He paused, “I will simply have to seek allies elsewhere.”

Thrym hefted his sword, readying it again as he spoke, “They’re gone Eli, I sent them from the city hours ago. With luck they won’t return.” His hand tightened on the hilt as Eli turned back, green eyes glowing with a dangerous light. Thrym felt some unseen force sweep over him, and his wounds lanced with pain as his pulse thundered in his ears, fresh scabs breaking open, and old scar tissue searing with agony. Almost as soon as the moment began, it passed, and Eli was again striding away into the orange night.

“Then I will hope for their safe and timely return, won’t I?” Eli glanced over his shoulder as the cobblestones around his feet began their strange, otherworldly dance. “And you are wrong Thrym, I will save them, I did save them.” His scowl deepened as he vanished into the stone, “The one who left the blood of Tamarack Row in the streets tonight was you.”

Ivan stared around him, beard stained with soot and blood, eyes reddened with smoke, as he gathered the last of his surviving forces. He could still hear the voice echoing through his mind, like a thousand boulders tumbling infinitely down a mountain towards him.

Our purpose has been served, return to me my vessel, bring all you can

He shuddered, he hoped his master allowed him glorious vengeance when the time came. Gallons of Tarrusian blood had been spilled tonight by those filthy Impure and their strange pets, but he had faith in the direction Sandro would lead Tarrus.

“Spread the word, we meet on the western arc of the March of Seasons, two days out. Any who aren’t there in one week are dead. Their blood will be avenged,” he whispered to the orc on his right. The soldier saluted and turned, gathering his squad as they tramped back into the fiery city.

Our purpose has been served…

Sandro’s summons consumed Ivan’s thoughts, and yet his body yet longed to turn with his men, back into that den of filth. That was where the traitor was, Ulrik, the one who refused Sandro’s call. A stain upon their proud people and the new direction they, and thus the rest of Kedrana would take. And yet Ulrik stood there, somehow obsessed with that dirt, that TRASH, and all of their scheming, blind to the destiny that awaited him.

Our purpose has been served…

Yes, Ivan would return, he would not lose sight of their goals in his rage against Ulrik. But he was certain that his master would see the necessity of silencing Ulrik. After all, he bore a perversion of his master’s glory, had refused his master’s call. He had sided with the weak in this, knowingly or unknowingly, and when the time came for that to become clear, well…

Return to me my vessel…

Sandro had ways of rewarding his most faithful. Yes, vengeance would be glorious indeed.

Khafri Sojay Cardinas stood in the center of the Temple Ward, observing the situation. The muddy water that had until earlier today been covering much of the Ward hovered a distance behind her, glittering dully in the firelight, rising in a perfect vertical line as if pressed against a wall, while the surface fifteen feet above hissed and bubbled, long streamers of steam peeling themselves off to join the smoky fog. More vapor curled off the ground around her, snaking up around her finely tooled boots, winding around her body before it evaporated. Even the fog itself was pushed back, the sphere around her the only clear or dry air anywhere within miles of Tamarack Row. She watched as her men scoured the area where the Altar of Craft once stood, looking for any trace of its fall. She watched as others bandaged their wounds and cleaned their blades, having just felled another of those strange creatures that seemed to be attracted to their camp. She watched as her lieutenant knelt in front of her, giving his report as he presented to her the severed head of one of her elves, the fletched end of an arrow protruding from his mouth, his face frozen in an expression of shock.

“Milady, I believe they have provided their answer,” her lieutenant finished. She flashed the signals to him to gather the men and pack their gear, they would be leaving within the hour. His eyes took in the deft movements of her fingers, and he loped off towards the camp proper, barking out orders to the various knots of elves scattered about the clearing. She took the severed head in her hands and cast the appropriate spells. Beris had died in the line of duty, he deserved a proper burial once they returned home. That is if his soul didn’t respond to her call. As much as he had earned his rest, she doubted he would stay away, their devotion to her was near fanatical.

It was not so much Beris’ death that was eating at her; each and every one of her retainers, before they swore their oaths, was made fully aware of the dangers they would be facing in her service. No, it was the circumstances leading to it that had her disturbed.

Perhaps she had performed the spell wrong, perhaps her incantation was off, or the Unbound magic suffusing the air interfered with her casting. Perhaps even the bells of Tamarack Row defending the city had sensed this intrusion and thought it a threat. Her mind cascaded through the options, each and every one making sense to her in its own way, each and every one a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why her divination had been so wrong.

But she could see the truth, she knew it in her bones. Nothing else made sense, when you looked at the bigger picture, and not just the failing of a single spell. The seasons, the magic, the world, the politics; all of it pointed to one thing.

She walked as she pondered, making a circuit first of the clearing, then widening as she went, until she found herself at the doors of one of the temples. Her eyes took in the stonework, the motifs and designs covering the building. The Altar of Thought beckoned her, offered her a quiet place to sit and think through the implications of this night. The doors swung open as she approached, tendrils of vapor hissing out of the grain of the wood, loosening the swollen doors, and drying the stone within. As her foot crossed the threshold, her eyes already scouting out a likely seat to meditate upon; her nose picked up the faint and telling tang of ozone from within. She continued her stride unabated, it had been a very long time indeed since she had scented this particular variety of Unbound magic, but it was familiar in its own way, and much preferable to the tarry stench of the Unbound suffusing Tamarack Row. She passed the sturdiest place to sit, seeking out the pews deeper into the sanctuary. As she passed the rows, the ceiling opened up above her, but she was too focused on scanning the aisles of debris to take in the ruined beauty of the temple. As far as the holy places of the Ancestors went, Tamarack Row was fairly low on the list of the most awe-inspiring. As she reached the row standing nearest the actual altar, she spotted him, sitting in the shelter of a column far down to the side, his gaze apparently intent upon the statue of the Thinker gracing the front of the temple.

He didn’t even flinch as steam began rising from his seat at her approach, though she knew he was aware of her. As she drew close she noticed how much worse he looked than last she saw him, several centuries past. His beard was longer, and tangled, reaching the bottom of his throat, and his hair was ragged and graying, though still tightly pulled back, dangling down his back, partly obscuring his torn and threadbare shirt. His breeches weren’t in much better condition, ragged and shortened, having been singed and ripped around his ankles so often that they now reached only halfway down his calves. He had his callused feet crossed beneath him, and his sword, she realized with a barely repressed chill of terror, that strange blade crossed the gap in front of him, paper covered blade tapping at the stone floor. The blade was long and thin, with a slight curve to it, and other than the paper, was a fairly unremarkable weapon. The hilt was old and worn, much like the man himself, and the leather grip needed replacing. The crossguard was corroded and pitted, both by the elements and the accumulated damage of battle. But not a faction of the blade was showing, the entire thing had been tightly wrapped in parchment, now cracked and yellowed, with water-stained script written in a tiny, cramped hand spidering across every available surface. But that sword could still cut, could still kill. Once she had wanted to study that writing, to find out what message it bore or what spell it help in its words. All it had taken to quench that desire was for her to get within a foot of the blade. She had been sick for weeks, her body and mind wracked with the magical echoes of just being in close proximity to that sword. She knew it was Unbound, and she knew that was all she would ever want to know.

She lowered herself to the floor and took up a similar posture next to him, removing the porcelain mask that was her birthright as she did so, her fingers caressing the perfectly smooth surface, unbroken and unadorned, a pure white oval without flaws. As she did so, her senses reverted to their physical state, taking in all the sensations that her mask cut out.

“Walker,” she stated flatly. It always surprised her how clear her voice was, on the rare occasions that she would speak she always expected a hoarse rasp, indicative of its disuse, but such was never the case.

“Sojay,” he returned, not breaking his stare into the distance.

“What brings you out here? And why now?”

“Let me see your eyes,” he spoke without moving, “I must assess the situation before I speak.”

She sighed, and shifted around so she was facing him, pushing blond hair behind her ear so as to given him an uninterrupted view of her face. For the first time since she had spotted him he moved, his eyes shifting to make contact with her own. Her right eye was a sightless white orb, blinded since she her youth, some 700 years before. Her left was no eye any longer, but the tiny orb of a miniature sun, burning with a fierce light and heat. In spite of this, looking into his plain brown eyes was an experience she did not enjoy in the least. It made her skin crawl and she felt like she was plummeting down into some bottomless abyss, swallowed up by darkness and emptiness on all sides, torn to shreds.

“Let me see it,” he whispered. She sighed again and held her eyelid with her fingers as she rolled her blind eye forward as far as she could, expose the tiny mark she carried there, almost like the mockery of a pupil, black against the solid white.

“Satisfied?” she lowered her hand as he grunted. Relaxing a bit as he placed the sword behind him, out of immediate reach. “Not since I first found my way to Clarity and first accepted my gift have you tested me so, and that was a mere formality,” she shifted again, his stillness always made her uncomfortable. “This did not have the feel of formality.”

“We are being used Sojay,” he spoke softly, almost reverently, but there was a hardness to his voice. An edge that made her break out in a cold sweat. “I have followed my call here to you, to test you, and I will follow it to each of us in turn, testing them all, until the offender is found. Tell me, is your calling clear?”

She dreaded what she had to tell him, but she understood now why he had sought her out at this moment. “Walker my calling is clear, and I accept my burden thricefold; once for the branding, twice for the seeking, and thrice for the signing,” she spoke the ritual answer and continued. “Walker, I know yours is as well, it brought you here to me, first, because of what I just learned,” she took a steadying breath, “We may be being used, but there is more to what is transpiring than that. The Edicts have been broken Walker.”

His silence and his eyes told her she had hit the mark, and she could tell he had come to the same conclusion she had arrived at weeks earlier. She was just glad that her suspicions, her calling, had proven to be clear. He stood slowly, she couldn’t remember seeing him reach for it, but the sword was there at his side, tucked through his rope belt. She rose as well, matching his stride as he walked towards the center aisle, brushing his fingers across the base of the altar as they passed.

“We must each heed our calling Sojay, but always remember our bond can no longer be one of trust. Follow the rites, follow your calling, and tell no one of what has transpired here. I will seek out Eisen next, you will know when I find him.”

“Eisen is dead,” she said slowly, “He died in Akshiva, decades after the last time we saw you.”

“And yet that is where my calling leads,” he raised a hand to forestall her protest, “You speak it, and thus I hear it to be true, but I will not ignore my calling. If not Eisen, then someone else.” He narrowed his eyes, “May we meet again in Threshold, Speaker Sojay.”

“May we meet again in Threshold, Walker Khireed,” Sojay once again provided the ritual response.

“I thought I told you never to use that name, Speaker,” he said as he took a step away from the altar and vanished. The scent of ozone vanished with him, replaced by that tarry reek from outside. She knew without a doubt that his magic and his presence were both gone.

“It is a part of my calling, Walker,” she said to the empty temple. She placed the mask back upon her face, blocking out the world from her senses once again. She knew her calling, and she could only hope that the seven survived their flight.

It was past time to be away from Tamarack Row.

A figure perched high on a spur of rock, gazing out into Seer’s Mane. In spite of the fog shrouding the forest, he swore he could feel the city approaching across the horizon. He threw his richly embroidered cloak back over his gleaming armor as he began his descent. Soon now he would come upon the valley, bells pealing out his arrival, welcoming their savior.

Soon, very soon now. The air was electric, and tension filled the sky. He swore he could almost hear the bells calling to him across the distance. He bellowed out a deep, booming laugh, the sound echoing off the dark, low-hanging clouds.

Soon, very soon now.

Gideon Stormsoul was coming to Tamarack Row!

The players have been arranged

Tamarack Row is officially up on the wiki! In addition to any other relevant information you might need to read for your character, this post serves as a brief introduction to the start of the game. Please read the wiki entry for Tamarack Row if any of you get the chance.

Also, I’ll be posting secrets for those whose backgrounds I know for sure shortly. If you haven’t gotten your character together yet, or skimmed some of the information on here, please try to do that before the game tomorrow evening. I don’t mind answering a few questions tomorrow if I need to, but I’d really like to be able to jump right in if at all possible!

Introduction to Kedrana
Adventure stirs...

Hey guys! Feel free to take a look through what I’ve got up so far. It’s not complete yet, but I feel like I have enough down for people to start brainstorming at least. If you see anything that seems interesting or looks like it’s missing, just let me know! Also feel free to start posting any ideas about characters or backgrounds, I know several of you already had some ideas going.

As for Brennan, John, and Gomes, let me know what you guys each think your status would be on participating in this game, if you can’t play full-time and want to still be involved in some way, we can talk about that. If you want to play a full-on PC, awesome!

I have sub-forums set up both for character ideas and for participation ideas.


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