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Nizkateth
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Re: Tales of Dungeons and Dragons

10 Oct 2011, 15:15

Part 5 – Talkative Gateway

“...you're some kind of planar vortex, aren't you?”

Cilya stared down the pulsing orb of darkness almost as though she expected an answer. She then shook her head and sighed. “Wonderful...” grumbling, Cilya paced around the outer circle on the floor. She examined from a short distance the inner circles that acted as layered wards. “Well, looks like everything is still intact. Ulathians probably wanted to be able to turn this thing back off easily. Jerks.” Scratching her head idly, she considered her options. “Only a little bit of this left,” she put a hand on her belt-pouch that held the silver dust she used for her ritual magic. “But what better use could it have huh?”

Slowly and carefully, Cilya walked a path around the outer circle while sprinkling the smallest dusting of the shimmering magic powder on the ward. As she neared the first quarter of the circle, the dark orb crackled silently with more shadow-lightning. The bolts noiselessly struck the floor near Cilya, and from the target of their strike an indistinct shadowy figure that looked like a man began to rise as though emerging from the stone itself.

“I figured this was too easy.” Frowning, Cilya finished with the pinch of dust in her hand then readied her staff. “Alright, let's get this over with.”

“No...” the voice, hollow and breathless, echoed around the room. “...I will not be stopped.”

“I hate to disagree with a disembodied voice and a shadow-man, but yeah this has to stop.” Cilya paused. “Who are you anyway?” Without another word the shadow-man lunged toward her, wispy hand outstretched. “Gah!” Cilya shouted then smacked the nearly intangible figure with her staff. Its passing disrupted the form and the figure dispersed instantly. “Really? That's it?” No sooner had she said that did she realize it was stupid to taunt a inter-dimensional rupture of unknown power.

Taking the opportunity, Cilya started laying down the fine dusting upon the circle again. She cleared nearly half of the remaining circle when dozens of silent shadow-bolts lashed out from the orb. Wherever they struck, the floor or the walls, another ghostly form emerged. They turned toward Cilya and charged as the first one had.

“Damn.” She instinctively fired a crackling bolt of power at the nearest, only to watch it shred and fly into the orb. “Damn! Okay now what?” Thinking quickly, Cilya theorized that her magic was only swallowed because it had to pass through space first. If the magic was unleashed instantly, perhaps it would work. “Here goes nothing!” She conjured one of her more powerful glyphs to mind, and unleashed its energy from her open hand. A wave of fire rushed forth, nearly sucking the air from the small room but burning away the shadow figures like darkness at the dawn. “Ha!”

Wasting no time, Cilya continued laying down the silvery powder that would act as the conduit for her magic to renew the wards. “Damn it Eloi, this would have been so much simpler with some help!” However, she quickly finished the circle. Every bit of the outermost ward shimmered with silver dust. “Well, that wasn't so...”

A silent bolt of shadow-lightning struck Cilya square in the chest. It was cold, worse than ice directly against her skin. It felt as though her body was freezing from within, an icy talon wrapping around her heart. Within moments her vision began to blur and then faded to blackness. A low ringing in her ears soon faded to silence. Her body went numb, she couldn't feel if her staff was still in her hand or even if she was still standing. The whole world faded away. She was pretty sure she was dying.

“You will not stop me.” The voice was the same as before, empty and without tone. It rang in her ears, so loud as to be painful yet without any feel of resonant presence. Perhaps it was in her mind. That's when it occurred to Cilya she could still think.

“What's happening to me?” Cilya thought the words. She might have said them aloud too, she had no idea.

The voice in her mind echoed again. “You are becoming vessel for my power.”

“I'd rather not.” Cilya focused. In her mind's eye she formed the vision of a high cliff-edged mountain clearing. At its center was a pool of crystal clear water, emerald green grass encircled it and waved in a gentle breeze. She stood on the grass, clothed only in a loose flowing gown of diaphanous silk spun from starlight. Her amber hair blew freely in the breeze, flowing like liquid in texture. Across the pool stood a man formed entirely from ebony ice, his touch freezing the grass into glass-like sculptures.

“What is this?” the voice came from the man instead of resounding from nowhere.

“This is an internal world of my design.” Cilya smiled. The sky beyond the clearing was filled with twilight hues from shimmering gold to deep violet. At the zenith of the sky was darkness smooth and gentle as velvet, gleaming with pinpoints of starlight that shimmered as diamonds. “I don't think you realized it, but my greatest talent has always been illusion. Haven't had much chance to use it lately.” The crystalline man of darkness creaked back into a defensive stance, the ice of his form cracking and reforming as it moved. Cilya's grin was toothsome and wicked. “Which means, you're in my world now.”

“You cannot defeat me like this...”

“Oh like the nine hells I can't!” With a quick gesture, Cilya shaped the grass around the man into blades of glimmering gemstone that lashed at him like the tentacles of a hungry sea-creature. As they cut, shards of black ice scattered to the ground and melted. The dark water flowed into and merged with the pool, which reflected only the star-filled sky above.

“No...” even without tone or breath, the voice somehow sounded concerned.

“Yes!” Beams of evening light glimmered across the clearing, striking the man from all sides. The warmth of their glow began to melt more of his form, and each drop drained into the pool. “Should have stuck to shadow-people to attack me. This was the worst choice you could have made!” Raising her arms toward the heavens, Cilya made the stars dance above. One by one their silver light shot downward and struck the melting man like the wrath of a vengeful god. Each streak of light cut a hole clean through his form from above.

“This... cannot...”

“Shut up and die!” Cilya cut him off. Bringing her arms down, the sky at once rained hundreds of motes of starlight that cut through the man's body like fire. Barely still recognizable, Cilya gestured toward the man with one hand and the clear waters of the pool with the other. Like arms the water rose up and grabbed what was left of the ice and darkness and pulled it down into itself. The tips of his fingers were the last to go under and vanish as he reached toward Cilya. Then he was gone.

And the room was back. Cilya stumbled a step to her side, then dropped to her knees. Staff still in hand, she watched as for an instant the shadow-bolt faded. No time had passed. The shadows that had crackled about the orb faded, leaving only a perfect sphere of absolute darkness floating motionless in the air. She stared at it for a while, taking a few deep breaths as the cold within her faded. Regaining her footing, Cilya stood at the edge of the ward circle.

“Ha! That's what you get! Cilya Redmeadow! Remember my name!”
"There was a young lady named bright,
Who could travel much faster than light,
She went out one day,
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night."

Love is never having to say you're sorry. Power is being able to kill anyone who asks for an apology.
Jaito: "Necromancy is like Linux, but even less sociable"
<Logos> The sugar is Asian people.
"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, watch it! I'm huge."
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Nizkateth
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Re: Tales of Dungeons and Dragons

20 Oct 2011, 09:55

Part 6 – Vested Interest

Cilya stood in the silent round room. Regaining composure, she looked around slightly embarrassed as though seeing if anyone overheard her. “Right. Yeah. Let's... seal this thing up then.”

Kneeling at the edge of the ward circles, she placed her hands upon them and began to focus. Intoning the mystic words etched into the walls with gold, power flowed through her into the silver powder she had dusted. Slowly the dust began to glow, brighter with each word. Her voice echoed through the silence of the chamber. As she neared the end of the rite, the dust seemed to dissolve into pure energy that ran through the engraved wards of the circles as molten steel might fill a mold. The light amplified many times, becoming blindingly intense. Radiance shot upward from each circle, beginning with the outermost, to form shimmering walls of power that reached the ceiling.

The last word of the ritual resounded through the stone structure, and then there was silence. Soundlessly the walls of light shone, forming three flawless barriers around the dark orb. “Alright mom, it's done. Some good wards you built by the way.” The voice from before did not respond, and Cilya hadn't really expected it to so. It was just a recording after all. “Well,” she smiled, “that wasn't so bad.”

A short whistling noise preceded a flash of intense pain. A crossbow bolt embedded itself into Cilya's left shoulder-blade. She only managed a gasp, more from surprise than anything, before stumbling forward and dropping to her knees. Her staff clattered to the floor.

“Good work.” The voice coming from behind her was one Cilya knew. “Saved us the trouble of putting that thing back in its cage.” Cilya painfully turned her head to see behind her.

Captain Jaril, along with a dozen Ulathian soldiers, stood in the hallway and blocked the only way out of the room. The captain grinned cruelly. One of the soldiers reloaded his crossbow. Cilya's mind raced. “What do I do?” she thought frantically, “I could unleash flame... no, I... oh gods... I don't have much magic left!” Spinning the glyphs through her mind's eye, Cilya knew that only the most minor of them had any power left. She needed a distraction, or more time.

“You two, check the barriers. Make sure they are actually whole.” Captain Jaril gestured and two of her soldiers walked past Cilya to pace the circumference of the wards. “Thank you, half-breed. You have done the Ulathian kingdom a great service.” She nodded at another of her soldiers. “So I think we will make this quick.”

“Wait...” Cilya had a hard time speaking, the pain in her back was terrible. “I... can we... make... a deal?” Each breath was a labor.

“Oh of course! I am eager to cut a deal with a traitor of an inferior species! Yes, entrance me with your silver tongue!” The captain made a sharp gesture toward her neck with her thumb. The soldier she had nodded to stepped toward Cilya and drew a short sword from a scabbard on his belt. “Just hold still, and this will be over soon.”

“Like the hells I will...” Cilya didn't have the strength to yell like she wanted, but she thought it very loudly. As the soldier reached for her, she rolled away and grabbed her staff. The arrow in her back burned as she moved, but she choked back any cry of pain. Lying on her side on the floor, she raised her open hand. Shimmering sparks danced around it, a faint trail of smoke wafted from her fingertips. “Back... off!” She shouted as loud as she could manage. The soldier stopped in his tracks, and looked back at his captain.

The older woman, Captain Jaril, hesitated and shifted her weight back slightly as though prepared to dive for cover. Cilya prayed, to anyone who might be listening. The sparks and smoke were figments, minor illusions of magic. It was entirely a bluff, she didn't have nearly enough power in her to fight them all.

“Wait.” The captain sounded calm but there was some clear concern in her eyes, probably because she was in blasting range. “You two, is the barrier intact?” the captain called out to the other side of the room.

“Yes sir!” they replied nearly in unison.

“Alright.” The captain looked back at Cilya. “So, half-breed... what do you intend to do?” She relaxed her stance. “Take me out and my men over there will cut you down. And if I see a moment's hesitation, I will slay you myself. Do you have the nerve? Shall we die together? I would be proud to lay down my life for the royal Ulathian army. Can you muster the same conviction?”

Cilya wasn't even listening. In her mind she shaped her next illusion, and unleashed it. From outside, or at least what sounded like outside, a rumbling and hissing roar erupted. The Ulathians all turned immediately toward the outside. Cilya waited a moment, and repeated the roar with slight variation of intensity and duration.

“The dragon!” one of the soldiers screamed. They all ran into the room and ducked behind the walls to get out of sight of the building's outer door. Captain Jaril stood motionless, staring with no small horror toward the outside.

“It can't be...” the captain whispered “...I thought that was just a rumor...” She stepped out from the hallway, taking cover like her soldiers.

“Sir, what do we do?” The soldier had gone pale, and choked out the question.

“Keep cover, maybe it will leave. But stay on your guard. If we have to make a fighting retreat... I will draw its attention so you all can flee.” Captain Jaril said that with total confidence. Despite herself, Cilya gained a small measure of respect for the woman.

Cilya also took the time to replenish her magic.
"There was a young lady named bright,
Who could travel much faster than light,
She went out one day,
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night."

Love is never having to say you're sorry. Power is being able to kill anyone who asks for an apology.
Jaito: "Necromancy is like Linux, but even less sociable"
<Logos> The sugar is Asian people.
"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, watch it! I'm huge."
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Nizkateth
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Re: Tales of Dungeons and Dragons

21 Oct 2011, 16:06

Part 7 – Possum

Captain Jaril, many thoughts clearly racing through her head, stood at the edge of the doorway. “Crossbows, everyone.” She gave the order quietly. The soldiers harnessed their weapons and drew their crossbows from their belts, then loaded them. Several of them were visibly trembling. “Stay behind cover.” They nodded and pressed their backs against the curved wall of the chamber. Silence overtook the room for several minutes. Anticipation was carved on the face of each Ulathian.

Cilya did her best to lay still, not wanting to draw attention back to herself. With each passing minute her power replenished more of itself. It wouldn't be long before she was ready.

“You two, cover the hallway.” Captain Jaril pointed at two of the soldiers. They nodded and crept to the edge of the doorway. Crossbows raised, they aimed down the hall ready to fire at anything that moved. “Rest of you stay low and quiet.” She gestured with an open hand, palm down. They crouched, keeping their weapons at the ready. “I am going to take a look.”

“But sir!” despite being a whisper, the soldier's tone was still one of alarm.

“No arguments. If it is close, I will come back quickly. If it is gone, I will signal for you all to follow me. If it is nearby... I will draw its attention. If you hear my battle-cry, flee as fast as you can. Leave the swamp, alter the camp and take my report back to the Queen.” Jaril's voice was unwavering, even though her expression showed plainly she expected she may die soon. The captain drew her sword, took a deep breath and squared her posture. “Be ready.”

Cilya was.

Slowly, Captain Jaril crept around the corner and then walked slowly down the hallway toward the outer doorway. Hazy light came through the narrowly opened door. The Captain was a silhouette in the hall. Each step she took sounded unnaturally loud against the deathly silence of the inner chamber.

“Captain's near the door.” One of the soldiers covering the hall informed the others. “She's looking through, maybe she can see it.” A short pause was followed by the distant sound of stone faintly grinding against stone. “Opening the door... I don't think she...” He never finished the sentence.

No sooner did the light from outside become clearly visible that Cilya lifted herself part way off the floor, left hand open and extended. In her mind's eye, Cilya unleashed the stored power of her glyph. It flashed, and the sense of heat it released rushed through her as a torrent. From her hand a burst of flame, crackling and roaring with intensity, erupted. Like a wave it poured forth and engulfed all the soldiers as they crouched in anticipation of a threat from outside. Flesh scorched, metal heated and wood burned. Screaming in surprise and pain, the soldiers thrashed about for a few seconds before dropping one by one to the floor. A few twitched a moment longer, but their charred bodies quickly stopped moving.

Leaning on her staff for support, Cilya rose to her feet. At the end of the hall, standing in front of the open door, Captain Jaril looked back. Seeing several of her soldier's bodies, she roared in rage. Cilya stared, alarmingly cold in her expression, back at the older woman. “Come on then...” she snarled. In her mind, Cilya found she was somewhat frightened of herself. But she remembered the dwarves, their dead rising and slaying their own families. That gave her the steel she needed.

“You will pay for this!” Captain Jaril shouted in fury as she charged down the hallway toward Cilya. Sword raised, the Captain rushed at Cilya with vengeance in her eyes. “Die half-breed!”

That gave Cilya a little more steel. “My name is not half-breed... it's Cilya Redmeadow. Daughter of Falowen Redmeadow and the Sorceress Ailura! Only one of us will leave here alive, I promise you! Die Ulathian!” Staff at the ready, Cilya braced herself and in her mind selected the next glyph she would use.

Power crackled around her hand as the enraged Jaril lunged at Cilya, sword swinging at her in a murderous arc.
"There was a young lady named bright,
Who could travel much faster than light,
She went out one day,
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night."

Love is never having to say you're sorry. Power is being able to kill anyone who asks for an apology.
Jaito: "Necromancy is like Linux, but even less sociable"
<Logos> The sugar is Asian people.
"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, watch it! I'm huge."
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Nizkateth
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Re: Tales of Dungeons and Dragons

31 Oct 2011, 14:47

Part 8 – Unprepared

With a crash, Captain Jaril's sword slammed against Cilya's staff. The force caused the young half-elven woman's legs to buckle slightly. The older human woman bore down with a two-handed grip, driving Cilya to her knees. However, Cilya was not concerned with her weapon. She reached out with her open left hand, already crackling with power. Slamming her palm against the breastplate of Jaril's heavy armor, Cilya unleashed a blast of force. Light flashed from between the hand and metal plate.

With stunning force the magic pounded directly into Captain Jaril, knocking the breath from her momentarily. With tremendous endurance and strength, the Captain pushed through the pain and dizziness. Without so much as stumbling, Captain Jaril pulled her sword back before whipping it about for a horizontal slash. Still in a crouch, without time to evade or interpose her weapon, Cilya nearly panicked. But leaping to her mind was another glyph, one she had been reading recently.

Releasing its power instantly surrounded Cilya with a clear, shimmering, bubble of magic. The Captain's sword crashed against it, and rang off as though it had struck the reinforced plate armor of heavy cavalry. Using the momentary reprieve, Cilya wove more insidious magic. Into the Captain's mind she placed the figment that her slain soldiers were struck by shadow-lightning and rising as unholy shambling dead. She couldn't be certain her magic had worked until Captain Jaril leapt back several steps and shifted her stance to face the phantoms.

With the Captain distracted, Cilya ran around the concentric wards to the opposite side of the room. The illusory dead lunged at Jaril, clawing at her with fingers burnt down to more resemble claws. Captain Jaril slashed at them, trying to drive them off, before they faded from her mind. It took only a second for her to realize what happened. Seeing Cilya across the room, Jaril screamed in rage. “How dare you!” It wasn't a question, but an expression of fury.

“Come on... come get me!” Cilya taunted the older woman. “Probably can't even catch me in that armor of yours!” Jaril began running around the perimeter of the room, staying well away from the wards. Cilya ran to keep as much distance as she could while firing volleys of force blasts that struck the Captain repeatedly.

The Captain snarled after another force-blast hit her. “Fine!” she roared. Pulling back her own left hand, Jaril screamed something Cilya couldn't understand. From the hand sprang a long tendril of flame. Captain Jaril growled and lashed out with it as though it were a whip. Completely unprepared to have magic thrown back at her, Cilya was caught off guard. The flame scorched her flesh and her robes as it entwined. Wrapped firmly around, Jaril then pulled back with her hand almost as though she was fishing. Cilya was pulled with impossible force, barely able to keep her footing, across the room toward the Captain.

Jaril grinned wickedly. “How are you doing this?!” Cilya exclaimed. She did not recognize the magic, it was nothing she had experienced before. Even as the burning feeling began to fade, Cilya felt a growing chill from inside like ice was slowly filling her lungs. As she was pulled in front of Jaril, she grimaced and called once more on her inner power. Tapping her staff against the floor, a pulse of force erupted from Cilya. The whip of flame shattered, but the burns and inner freezing feeling remained. Jaril was thrown back.

“A gift from my Queen... for troublesome ones like you!” With a sharp gesture Jaril conjured a small crackling sphere of darkness and hurled it at Cilya, striking her square in the chest. In Cilya's mind a horrid laughter rang, echoing and deafening. It wasn't Jaril's, but it was clearly a woman's. Whomever it was, the mere sound of the voice filled her body with pain. It also felt as though the chill within was encircling her heart. Cilya was not feeling well, and could barely stand. However, Jaril looked quite weary as well. With as much perseverance as she could muster, Cilya lashed out one more time with her magic.

The bolt slammed into Jaril's face, knocking her off her feat. Cilya seized the initiative and lunged at the Ulathian Captain. A solid blow of her staff preceded a sharp snapping sound from Captain Jaril's neck. Eyes glassing over, the Captain dropped motionless to the floor. Cilya kept her staff at the ready, magic charged, heavy and painful breaths coming quickly. Eventually the internal cold began to fade, though only enough to be bearable. Jaril did not move. Cilya fell to her knees next to the older woman, and wept. Not tears of sadness or joy, but simply tears to release the tension and surging adrenaline surging.

For the first time, Cilya knew what it felt like to be so close to death.

Minutes passed, possible hours, Cilya didn't really know. She hurt, all over. Scorched, slashed, bludgeoned, and assaulted with unholy power against her very soul... Cilya just wanted to lay down and sleep.

But she didn't, and eventually pushed herself back to her feet using her staff for support. “Mom... I took care of it,” she whispered, “...and you owe me.” Staggering as she walked, Cilya slowly made her way out of the room so filled with death. “At least... the dwarves will be safe,” she reminded herself. Cilya walked down the long hallway toward the swamp outside, not relishing the long walk back through the bog. “At least... it's over...”

Stepping outside into the orange and violet skies of twilight over the dwarven marshland, Cilya smiled and sighed. No sooner did she that a strange smell hit her nose. It was sharp and foul, like bile or some of the chemicals in her uncle's laboratory. Looking around, she noticed the shadows of the trees above were moving slightly. Then it occurred to her: the building was in a clearing, and there were no trees over it. Cilya looked up.

Towering above, perched atop the stone edifice, was a creature covered in glossy black scales that was easily over ten yards long from snout to end of tail. With a face resembling a skull for how drawn the flesh was over it, crowned with forward facing horns, a thick green fluid dripping from a mouth of sword-like fangs. Long claws gripping the stone. A tail whipped back and forth behind the creature, and a pair of enormous bat-like wings spread from its back to block out the last light of the day. It stared down at Cilya, its expression almost one of amusement underlying a horrid snarl. “Oh...” Cilya mouthed the word, no sound yet came out of her.

As if in response it roared, a horrific mixture of snake and lion-like sounds. Despite herself, Cilya found she considered for a moment that her duplication had been terribly inaccurate. Then she screamed. Then she ran.
"There was a young lady named bright,
Who could travel much faster than light,
She went out one day,
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night."

Love is never having to say you're sorry. Power is being able to kill anyone who asks for an apology.
Jaito: "Necromancy is like Linux, but even less sociable"
<Logos> The sugar is Asian people.
"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, watch it! I'm huge."
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Nizkateth
Essence 8
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Contact:

Re: Tales of Dungeons and Dragons

04 Nov 2011, 12:51

Interlude 4 – Recruitment

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Tired as her whole body had felt, Cilya Redmeadow found she was suddenly quite motivated. Her legs pushed as hard and fast as they could, essentially hurling her across the soft muddy ground of the dwarven swamp. It was more a series of long jumps than steps. Even as much as the ground gave, she could feel it shake slightly with each step of the enormous beast behind her. Barely risking a glance back, she saw the black-scaled dragon was not as far back as she'd hoped. It tore across the marsh with natural ease, jaws open wide in another terrible bellowing and hissing roar.

“Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!”

Eyes wide and breath coming fast and in painfully heavy short draws, Cilya tried to push herself even faster. The breath of the dragon fumed around her, hot and acrid. Looking back again, she saw its long neck striking forward like a serpent's with its jaws ready to snap closed. Without a second to spare, Cilya rolled under a small fallen tree. Moss rubbed off on her as she brushed the dead timber, mud caking to every bit of her that touched the ground. With a loud crack like thunder the tree splintered and shattered in the jaws of the dragon. It had bitten it instead of her.

“Damn, damn, damn!”

Not breaking her momentum, Cilya rushed onward as the dragon barreled its way through the split tree. Fragments of wood landed in front of Cilya amidst the tall grass, hurled past her by the dragon's strength. The ground grew muddier as she ran, threatening to sink and trap her feet with each step she took.

A rushing sound of wind came from behind Cilya. Glancing back without stopping, she saw the dragon rearing back slightly as it inhaled deeply. “No!” she screamed and dove toward a nearby hollow log. As she leapt for cover the dragon exhaled, in very much the same way it roared. But instead of a terrifying bellow it disgorged a spray of dark green fluid. It dissolved grass and burned into wood and stone. A splash of it caught Cilya's legs. For a moment she felt nothing, as she scrambled into the log. Then it ate through the leather of her pants, and began searing the skin beneath. While it only left minor welts, they hurt tremendously.

Scrambling through the log, Cilya rolled free of the other side just as the dragon crushed the whole of it under its claws. On instinct, she unleashed a blast of magic at the creature. A crackling bolt of silver force smacked into the dragon's snout. It winced, slamming its eyes shut for an instant. Silence overtook the swamp. Cilya's heart seemed to stop beating. “Oh no...” she whispered.

Opening its eyes, the dragon stared at Cilya for a second. It seemed almost curious, but that quickly gave way to rage as it roared and lunged toward her. Cilya scrambled to her feet and began to flee. As she turned away from the dragon, she saw a man in plate armor barreling toward her between the mossy trees of the bog. In his hands was an enormous sword, easily larger than Cilya herself. “What the hells?!” She dove to the side, out of the path of the charging man.

He ran right past her, directly toward the dragon. He was roaring nearly as loudly as it was.

He also drew its attention. Cilya scrambled away, getting behind a large tree for cover. She mused that she should probably keep running, but was simultaneously confused and concerned about the man's appearance. “He might need my help,” she thought.

The man jumped as he neared the dragon, over a swiping claw. He kicked off the taloned hand of the beast to get more height. With one powerful slash he left an open gouge in the side of the dragon's neck. Power coursed through his blade and lightning erupted from it, arcing into the injured monster. It hissed in pain. Acid seeped from its wound, smoking when it dripped to the ground. Before he landed, the man spun about in the air from the force of his slash and brought his sword around for a second deep cut. Bleeding from the side of its neck and its shoulder, the dragon bellowed.

Shadows danced across the marsh, swarming around the beast. The air grew dim, like dusk, around it. The man winced, and his armor smoked just slightly. It looked as though the very air around the dragon had become acidic. However, he seemed relatively unfazed by it. The creature lashed out with its claws as the man landed on the muddy ground. The first he rolled over, and the second he stopped almost dismissively by using his sword like a shield.

“Pathetic!” the man roared. He stabbed his sword into the dragon's upper chest, just below where its long neck connected. Pushing with impossible strength, he lifted the front end of the dragon off the ground and shoved it back several feet. It nearly fell over, unprepared to shift its weight or position. Hissing again, the dragon lurched back off his sword and more acid-blood came from the impaling wound.

Shaking off the pain, the dragon very suddenly unleashed a torrent of sizzling green acid from its mouth. The wave of corrosion swept over the man, and Cilya couldn't see him at all. “Oh gods no!” she yelled. Readying a glyph in her mind, she took aim at the dragon then paused. The acid passed, searing away all life for many yards across the bog. Except the man, who stood exactly where he had been. Lightning danced off her sword, burning away acid that clung to his armor and skin. Aside from some minor burned, he appeared to be fine.

“Alright, now I'm mad.” He didn't sound mad, in fact his tone was conversational. Cilya found herself more frightened of him than the dragon. He didn't move as the dragon struck out with its serpentine neck toward him, jaws open and ready. It all happened in an instant.

As the dragon's jaws engulfed him, the man spun about with his sword out. As the jaws of the enormous creature started to close, his weapon struck the corner of its mouth. Tearing through as one might expect a warm knife to pass through soft butter, the man's sword sliced through the dragon's lower jaw. Cutting through nearly half way, touching the edge of its tongue, the beast finally reacted and pulled back. Its neck flew back, acidic blood spraying into the air. Half its jaw hung free, tongue lashing wildly. The man had planted his foot against some of its teeth and was pulled up with the head, still partially in the dragon's mouth.

With a blinding flash, a deafening boom, and the stench of ozone overtaking the bile-smell of acid, lightning filled the air. Cilya pulled herself back behind the tree she was using for cover. The explosion of power quickly passed, but for a few minor flickers of static still arcing between nearby leaves. Cautiously she looked back out.

Smoldering, the dragon was laying slumped across the marshland ground. The plated man was stepping up its snout, and then buried his sword point-first into the crown of the dragon's head. It twitched slightly, then went completely limp. He pulled his sword free, and lightning consumed any acid clinging to the blade.

Stepping down, the man looked around. He spotted Cilya, before she got back behind her cover. Ready for anything, Cilya prepared her magic to fire. After all, if he could so easily dispatch a dragon then what concern would she be to this figure? She waited, trembling slightly. “Oh gods, please let him just pass by...” she clenched her eyes shut and prayed, to anyone who might be listening.

A gauntlet covered hand grabbed Cilya's shoulder. With a short scream she spun about, threw out her hand and unleashed a wave of flame. Even after it passed the heat from it remained and smoke swept along in its wake. Cilya braced herself, expecting to die but hoping she somehow stopped him.

Nothing happened, and she slowly opened one eye. Standing in front of her, hand still on her shoulder, was the armored man. Soot and ash were smeared across his face, and smoke wafted from his armor. He coughed. His sword was harnessed across his back, and with his free hand he wiped some of the residue off his face. He took a couple breaths, clearing smoke from his lungs with each one. “So...” he coughed once more, “...are you okay?”

Hoping the logic of 'if he wanted to kill me, I'd be dead' was sound in this case, Cilya opened her other eye. “Yes,” she said softly.

“Alright then.” He sniffed, like he had an itch in his nose. “Are you Ms. Redmeadow?” First time she had been called that, but Cilya nodded. “Excellent,” his tone grew more cheerful, despite his still-smoking armor. “I'm Khorun.” He paused. “Well, clearly tales of your magic aren't just rumor.”

“How do you know my name? Why are you here? What do you want” Cilya realized after she spoke that her tone was rather demanding, and felt somewhat embarrassed by that. Taking a deep breath, she tried to slow down her pounding heart and calm herself. “Sorry, I'm just a bit on edge... spherical gateway to death, species-ist army, walking corpses, big black dragon and a guy who killed it off-handed... guess I've just had a rough couple days.”

He smiled. “I completely understand. Well, the first two have the same answer. Some of your dwarf friends were worried about you, told me where you had gone. And what I want is someone with your talents.” He looked her over, foot to head.

Eyes falling to half-lidded, Cilya sighed. “You mean my magic?”

He withdrew his hand from her shoulder. “Uhh,” Khorun paused, “yes.” He almost seemed to pout for a second. “Someone with your skill and abilities would be very useful in the coming battles. Especially if you can work with rituals.”

“I have no idea what you're getting on about, but let's discuss it somewhere that isn't a half-burnt acid-soaked swamp.” Cilya started walking back toward Fargirn. Khorun followed shortly after. She looked back at him as she walked, “so... how did you survive that much acid and, well, fire right to the face?”

“Hmm? Oh, I'm pretty tough. I can take a lot of abuse.” Khorun strolled along casually.

“Oh.” Cilya paused, not sure what to make of the answer. “Well, that's good to know.”
"There was a young lady named bright,
Who could travel much faster than light,
She went out one day,
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night."

Love is never having to say you're sorry. Power is being able to kill anyone who asks for an apology.
Jaito: "Necromancy is like Linux, but even less sociable"
<Logos> The sugar is Asian people.
"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, watch it! I'm huge."
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Re: Tales of Dungeons and Dragons

19 Nov 2011, 19:28

Interlude 5 – A Letter Home

Dearest Teola,

I hope this letter finds you well. Your messages have certainly given me the spirit to continue on with this war. My sweet, never cry, this will be over soon. The tiger-men of the western mountains retreat after each battle.

While I have never believed in their inferiority, especially now that I've seen them in battle, they are the enemy and my duty is clear. We've fought for nearly two weeks now. Each victory is pushing the barbarians back toward their mountain home. Soon they will have nowhere to run.

I almost wish you could see them Teola, outside of war. They are nearly human, like us, but their eyes are gold and slitted like a cat's. They have little claws on their fingers and toes, but they don't use them to attack; they're more like long fingernails. Oh, and they are just slightly furry... they remind me a little of your sister's cat in color.

Speaking of, how is your sister and the rest of the family? I'm sure you have to keep my dad from telling his old war stories right? He'd be right here with me if they'd let him, I know. Tell him I'll bring back one of the barbarian weapons for him. That might distract him for a little while. And if that doesn't work, just sick him on Aenad down at the Elegant Elixir. A few rounds should suffice, he's a lightweight (but don't let him know I told you that).

You said in your last letter that my brother agreed to help with the ranch. But I know Talden, after a few days he grew bored and gave up didn't he? Maybe you should ask Norel for help instead. Or even little Branwela, she's tougher than she looks. Well, you can handle it I'm sure. Besides, I'll be back soon enough to help. I miss the horses, almost like family.

The commander has told us we'll be back within the month. He's quite impressive, and wields magic granted by the Queen. I hesitate to write this, but his power is actually somewhat frightening. I personally beheld him burning one of the barbarians in half with a long whip made from flame and shadow. Very glad he's on our side. With that kind of might, we can't lose.

I should cut this short, we're moving out at dawn and the sun is nearly up. We march on the mountain itself today, we'll box them up on its slopes. Give my love to everyone, but make sure to hold on to plenty for yourself.

All my love,
Private Vanuk, Royal Ulathian Army

(delivered posthumously)
"There was a young lady named bright,
Who could travel much faster than light,
She went out one day,
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night."

Love is never having to say you're sorry. Power is being able to kill anyone who asks for an apology.
Jaito: "Necromancy is like Linux, but even less sociable"
<Logos> The sugar is Asian people.
"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, watch it! I'm huge."
Hamster Style / Kitten Style / Hit 'Em With a Rock Style / Newest Icon Full Pic

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