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  • Memories of a New Home

    So, in light of the untimely fate of the Brotherhood, I thought I would start posting some of my own fluff that I began writing for my own Brotherhood army. I am a refugee from the "other" game built in a now defunct "workshop" as many of the other Brotherhood players are, and when I joined I wanted to continue my army's story as I didn't feel that it was done being told. There were so many things left unsaid about them. And so I started writing this story and it has grown rather immensely. I will post that said story here for your enjoyment (or mockery, whichever suits the story) and I hope that you'll comment and let me know what you think of it. Once again this is the story of an army that is coming into the new world of Mantica. I will try to include pictures of my army to accompany the various stories as they arise, but there are some background things that you need to know:

    1. Gregor and his army are travelers who have been through some of the magical, cosmic rifts to end up in Mantica.
    2. In the world from which they fled, Gregor's main enemy was a demon by the name of Aantar the Forlorn
    3. Aantar was once mortal and had a wife whose name was Kalia, her death is what drove him to his demonhood
    4. Gregor's mentor was named Nicodemus, who was sacrificed along with his consort the Lady Lucas in a vain attempt to stave off the destruction of their world. Their souls are now captured in their skulls which Gregor and his army rescued from the flames of eternal torture in their sojourn through the planes.
    5. Daggon is an elf general who also had a friend who was sacrificed in the ritual that took Nicodemus and Lucas. As did Sheila the dwarf who you will meet briefly in the first chapter. Daggon was able to recognize the necessity of the sacrifice while Sheila feels that she was tricked into it.

    Without further adieu, I give you the first chapter of "Memories of a New Home"

    Chapter 1: A New Storm

    Everything in the forest was silent. A light breeze occasionally stirred the leafy boughs overhead and some chipmunks scurried from one hole to another in their quest for food to add to their winter storage. Whatever powers watched this forest were dimmed in the sleepiness of the lazy evening.

    But then something shifted. It was not easily detectable at first, just a simple rise in the temperature that was abrupt and barely perceptible to anyone who wasn’t paying attention. But then more signs began to appear, each one with a lessening sense of subtlety. The light breeze intensified into a strong wind, then a lusty gale that caused the old trees to groan as an unseen hand seemed to be pushing them back from a central point. Then came the lightning.

    Purple tongues of cloven flame burst out from that central point that had brought about the wind. The scattered bursts of light flickered out, striking ancient oaks and lighting fire to the stubborn ash and pine trees around the newly formed clearing. Fire sprang into being as several of the trees erupted in a shower of sparks. The lightning began to flash more frequently until finally a great hulking branch of energy flashed into the sky. It arced upwards and then curved, bringing it back down to the earth. When it collided with the dirt there was a blinding flash of light and then all was silent once more. The concussive force of the strike and the rippling wind outwards from its subsequent explosion drowned the fires and left the charred and broken remains of the once mighty trees that had stood in that place for hundreds of years. The Forest had been crippled in a moment of arcane feedback.

    When the light dissipated there stood in the clearing a mighty, yet unorthodox, host of soldiers. Men on horseback towered over the shorter and sturdier frames of dwarven warriors clad in thick shimmering scales of armor while around them all stood proud elven warriors with silvered plates overlapping their robes and great pointed helmets above them. All of these warriors were battered, their armor cracked and obviously damaged. Several elves held the broken shafts of their long spears, and the men clung to swords whose blades had snapped in half. The dwarfs grumbled and picked at the cloven cracks in their mighty axes and hammers.

    All of them looked around in shocked amazement at the calmness that radiated in the forest as it stared back at them, hidden eyes now awake at this sudden intrusion. One elf dismounted from the back of a large serpentine dragon and walked towards the center of the mismatched army. There he found a human clad in full armor with white cloth cascading down over the metal. The cloth was scorched and torn in so many places that it was difficult to recognize that at one time it had been quite fine. The white clothed man held in his arms the limp form of an elven woman, her eyes closed but her chest rising and falling in a steady rhythmic cadence. Her left arm ended at the wrist, her hand lost in a battle that now seemed several lifetimes ago.

    “How is she?” The elf asked.

    “I think she’ll live.” The man replied. Standing the man picked the elven woman up with ease, her light frame seeming to weigh nothing in his arms. The elf signalled to a few of his soldiers and they came forward to take her away.

    “I can’t believe she was able to do it,” the man spoke as he handed his charge off gently. “I can’t believe we made it out of there alive.”

    “Yes, we were fortunate. Do you have them?” The elf looked imploringly at the man who nodded and reached into the folds of his ruined robes, he then pulled out four skulls, two human, one elven, and one dwarven.

    “They are safe.” The man smiled at the elf, who released a deep sigh. “We did it, my friend!”

    “Give ‘im ta us.” A gruff female voice spoke from behind the man and he turned to see the dour face of a dwarven warrior holding her axe in her hand in a threatening manner. “Gi’ us oor warrior, ye do no’ have any right ta carry him any loonger.” The man sighed and held out the dwarven skull.

    “Sheila, there is no reason for this…” he began.

    “No reason!? There be ev’ry reason! Ye did lie to us! Ye dinnae tell us what wood happen when oor lad were sacrificed! Ye condemned him ta tha fires!”

    “And then we rescued him,” the elf countered “He is not trapped there any longer!”

    “Which be the oonly reason ye still be standing, ye trech’rous Elgi! And you, ye bloody, lying worm! I cannae believe tha’ we came to yor aid. Ye no deserve the term of friend, nor’ ally. And I shan’t call ye tha’ again.” The dwarf spat at the human’s feet before turning and storming away.

    “Sheila!” The man cried out “Wait!” The dwarf stopped and turned. The human looked at her imploringly.

    “The nex’ time we meet,” the dwarf spoke slowly. “I will put mah axe twixt yer eyes, human. Only yor blood will satisfy this grudge!” She turned her glare on the elf. “This goes for ye, too, Elf!” With that she turned and bellowed a few curt commands in her native tongue and all of the other dwarven warriors pulled away from the rest of the conglomerate host and marched away into the dying light of the evening. After they had gone, the man shook his head and turned back to the elf.

    “That’s a shame. I wish we could have convinced her otherwise.” A heaviness had entered his voice. “But I fear that she will hold true to her word and the next time we meet her, it will be as enemies. I don’t know if I have the stomach to fight her, in all honesty.”

    “That may yet be unnecessary.” The elf replied, his own voice low and heavy. “This is a new world, who knows what dangers it presents, or what its inhabitants may be like?”

    “Lynne said that it was a world almost exactly like our old one, even the language is supposed to be similar.” The man attempted a smile, but it was short-lived and quickly fell back into a pensive frown.

    “I suppose we should try and establish something like a settlement somewhere around here, see if we can make contact with any of the locals.” The elf looked around the clearing and then back to his human friend. “Of course I think we can start on that tomorrow morning. For tonight let’s see about finding something to eat and getting some sleep” His friend nodded and looked down at the two human skulls he still held in his hand. The elf nodded and walked away.

    “You’re safe now, Nicodemus and Lucas.” The human smiled sadly before putting the skulls back into the folds of his robes.

  • #2
    Gregor, I'm so happy to see other Brotherhood players writing up a storm! I like your cosmic rift idea - you're able to preserve your old fluff without significant modification. Just from this intro post, I can tell there are clear-cut, realistic relationships between your characters. They have been through an awful lot together, and it shows through your dialogue and descriptions of character reactions to one another. Your setting and cosmic rift descriptions were fantastic as well! I can't wait to see what comes next, and how this new band of travelers makes their home in Mantica!

    Comment


    • #3
      Lit Wick Thanks! I already have a small novel written (and it isn't finished, yet), both of what happened in the Olde Worlde as well as another that is written for their arrival in Mantica. I will be posting easily two chapters a week for the next couple of months, hopefully you enjoy it.

      I'm rather liking your story that you have going as well, and I've felt some new inspiration on account of it. So, thanks!

      Comment


      • #4
        Loved your intro. This feels like the start of a Greate Story !
        Did the Daemon Aantar manage to follow this refugees ?

        Comment


        • #5
          drmadwolf tune in next time to find out!

          Or, as River would say: "spoilers!"

          Comment


          • #6
            An interesting start! I look forward to seeing more.
            Thanks,
            Hal

            Comment


            • #7
              Here's chapter 2! Hope you guys enjoy it!


              2

              The Finite Memories

              Somewhere in the great void that exists between the stars, something stirred. It was an old presence by now, and yet young. It existed in a realm where time was meaningless and death was an inconvenience. It felt the pull of a presence so inherent to its own existence that it burned within the being’s entity like a newly kindled fire. It cast its vision out through the void and saw the reason for its disturbance. Something had returned from the warping world of timelessness to the world of order, where it had belonged. The bodiless entity scanned the world where its antithesis had emerged and found it on a plane similar to its own before it had ascended to its current consciousness.

              Slowly the nameless creature reached out with its tendrils of power and made contact with the mortal realm. He felt for something suitable to his needs and felt a certain throbbing power in that was very close to the nameless one’s prey. It reached out even further and sought out the source of this power. Realizing that it couldn’t actually speak with anything on that plane due to its current form, it began casting about for a suitable one to accommodate it in its sojourn on the living world.

              Tendrils of raw eldritch power cackled over the scattered bones of some ancient warrior king, now some ancient memory long forgotten by the majority of the world, but in his day had been quite powerful. The dark power stopped as its magical feelers brushed these unintentional instruments of deep power. The creature gathered its energies around the skeletal corpse, binding the joints with magical energy and tying invisible sinews to arms, legs, and eventually a skull. The skull’s mouth opened as if gasping for breath into lungs that had long since turned to dust. Then a mournful balefire lit in the sockets of the skull’s eyes and a bony fist raised up, smashing into the lid of the stone coffin. The magically hardened bones cracked through the intervening earth and stone until at last the creature stood under the open sky.

              Using its new eyes the creature inspected its body. Rusted plate covered the skeletal remains of the long dead king’s body, it glowed with an infernal light and the entity could feel the raw magical powers crackling through the ancient metal, despite its eroded physical form. This vessel would suffice. But it needed a weapon.

              The creature tilted its skull back and reached a hand out into the air. He sensed the ancient volcanic rock far below, sharper than any steel blade. The creature drew on forbidden powers to summon up from this bedrock a shard of blackest flint. The creature molded it as the shard ascended, forming it into a suitable weapon. It exploded through the earth and into the open air where it hung, spinning, as the creature finished its shaping. The blade grew hot and its rough form melted and flowed together so that when it stopped spinning and the heat subsided the jagged form of a great two handed axe hung in the air beside the ancient evil that had summoned it. The creature reached forward and grasped the haft of its new weapon, testing its weight. The weapon felt good in the monster’s hands and it realized with something akin to shock that it had missed this feeling. While this physical form limited its power, it had a certain appeal that only an entity that had existed without such a form could understand.

              Now the creature looked out across the horizon. It was still early dawn and the sun had yet to fully appear. In the distance one could make out the fires of a large primitive settlement. The creature started walking towards it. It had a body, but in order to hunt its prey it would need an army.

              * * * * * *

              Comment


              • #8

                Graul Maggroth had been chieftain of the Red Hand tribe for a very short time. He had taken the chieftain’s helm from his father’s dead corpse, for that was they way of the Red Hand. Anyone could be chief, if they had the ability, all it required was that they challenge the current chieftain to the death. The victor was made chief. It was that simple.

                Graul had awoken this morning to the gruff summons from outside his lodge tent. Rising from his bed, he scrubbed his face and walked groggily to the entrance. Outside stood the herbal shaman, a grizzled old red-headed man whose cantrips with fire had earned him some notoriety.

                “What is it, Kindle?” He grumbled.

                “You have a challenger.” Kindle responded gravely. Graul chuckled.

                “Some idiot wishes to die so early in the morning? Tell them to come back later, around noon, when I’m fully awake and ready.” He turned to go back inside to his warm bed but the shaman caught his arm.

                “This one is different. I think it would be unwise to make him wait.” The shaman spoke quietly, leaning in as if whispering a secret to the chieftain. “It is an Ancestor Spirit! He arrived with the morning light and now waits for you in the center of the village!” Graul’s face paled as he heard this. An Ancestor Spirit? They were thought only to exist in the fairy tales of old, they no longer visited his people. Graul nodded solemnly and strode into the tent to retrieve his armor, along with the Chieftain’s helm and his own large axe. When he stepped out of his tent and began walking towards the village center, he knew he was walking to his own death.

                An armored figure stood as Kindle had told him, in the middle of the square with his hands resting on the inverted haft of a giant two handed axe. Graul approached him and gasped when he saw a bleached skull staring out from under the helmet’s visor.

                “Are you this village’s chieftain?” A deep bass voice washed out from behind the teeth of the grinning skull. Graul swallowed before responding.

                “I am, what ancient spirit are you, and why have you graced us with your presence?” his voice faltered only a little at the end.

                “I have returned to finish a vendetta that began long before you were born, human, and in order to do so I require the command of your warriors.” Graul pursed his lips and nodded.

                “Then you have come to challenge my right to rule.” He sighed and placed the Chieftain’s metal helm on his head. “I will not step down from my post and shame my line with cowardice. If you would lead these people you must first defeat me.” Graul took up a defensive stance. He was a mighty warrior, the best of his tribe by far. The fight with his father, the previous chieftain, had taken several hours before he had worn the old man down and cut off his silver head. He wasn’t sure how he would defeat this armored skeleton before him but he would not allow himself to simply bow down and be thrown out of his clan as a coward, thus shaming his family after him. The challenger looked at Graul with its empty eye sockets.

                “If that is your wish, I will gladly accept.” The creature stood his ground for a few moments then hefted his axe in both bony hands and walked slowly towards Graul. The chieftain yelled his battle cry as he ran at the creature, his axe raised above his head. The armored spirit did not move as Graul closed the distance between them and brought his own weapon down with a crushing speed aimed at the leering skull before him. The monster watched the blow come and at the last second batted it to the side. As Graul’s axe embedded itself in the dirt the skeleton moved with an inhuman speed, raising its axe above its own head it swung downwards with such force that the strange stone axe blade cleaved through the Chieftain’s helm and split Graul from his forehead clear to his waist. There was a collective gasp from the scattered onlookers as blood fountained up in the morning light and the halved corpse toppled to the ground. After a few moments of stunned silence, Kindle stepped forward towards the armored figure, who turned to stare at him.

                “Mighty Spirit!” He declared. “You have the allegiance of the Red Hand Tribe! By what name shall we know you?” The shaman asked as he knelt in the dirt, the surrounding watchers following his lead. The creature raised itself to its full height and spoke in its rumbling voice.

                “In a lifetime long past, I was called Aantar.”

                * * * * * *

                Lisbeth sat on her cushioned throne, her eyes closed in concentration as she lounged backwards in a seemingly relaxed slouch. She had sensed a tremendous power sweep through her lands and settle on the old barrows where she regularly drew corpses to bolster the ranks of her undead legions. The power had settled there and a part of it had wrenched one of the more powerful dead kings from its grave, taking control of his bones. The entity had then wandered off towards the barbarian village to the north, where it now rested as if waiting for something. The vampiress opened her eyes and licked her lips, rising slowly to her feet, the rich red silk gown she wore falling down to cover her exposed legs.

                “Something has dared to invade my lands.” Her smoky voice wrapped around the mostly empty chamber like a velvet robe. She frowned, the entity wasn’t at its full power, it couldn’t attain that so long as it was held in the crude shell it had chosen, and perhaps that would be its downfall. The frown gently curved up into a smile and the pale-skinned beauty called out for her attendants. One rather bumbling necromancer stumbled through the door, followed closely by a liche who seemed to flow across the floor on clouds of black smoke which incidentally acted as a type of cloak for his skeletal frame. The necromancer was a foolish buck-toothed country boy who had dabbled too much with corpses and had a penchant for the dark arts. In many ways he was a savant as he could raise large armies of walking corpses very quickly but could barely put two sentences together otherwise.

                “Muster a force.” She reached down and gently stroked the side of the necromancer’s cheek and he leaned into her touch. “Someone has sought to challenge us.” She purred.

                * * * * * *

                Aantar felt the strong sense of magic off in the distance long before his mortal warriors would have seen them. He recognized the vile taint of necromancy that called out to the bones of his current vessel. He shuddered at the dulcet tones emanating out from the evil spellcasters as they called out infernal curses that animated their armies. Aantar recognized the dark seduction in those incantations and knew to resist them despite the temptation to give into their promises. He turned his eternal eyes on the wizard Kindle who stood beside him.

                “Gather some of your men and prepare them for battle. An army of the dead approaches.” His deep voice boomed through his helmet. The red haired mage stared wide eyed at his new chieftain, but then quickly bowed and scurried away to accomplish his orders.

                Aantar waited under the rising sun until the gradual movements of the mortals around him had assembled and stood at the base of the hill. Reaching into his limited reserves of power, Aantar reached out with his dark tendrils of power and touched the hearts of each of his new warriors, most were mere soldiers that were content to live and die with what little parts of glory would touch their lives. A few, however, were truly blessed with a deep desire for bloody conquest, they yearned to write their names in the stars and drown their enemies in their own blood. In these individuals, Aantar stoked those emotions and warped their bodies to be larger, stronger, faster. He conveyed long lost techniques from ancient sword masters of another world. At first these men resisted, but Aantar broke down their individuality to the sounds of their screams. Painful popping noises and tearing sounds echoed across the field as their bodies slowly warped and changed to the whims of their new master.

                As his new champions emerged, Aantar reached into the aether of his own realm and pulled forth ancient baroque armor that settled across those few he had chosen to bestow on his followers. In the end a small army of hulking, armored brutes stood before him interspersed between the smaller soldiers that surrounded them. If he’d had lips, Aantar would have smiled. He reached out with his consciousness and issued orders wordlessly to his new army, dismissing the non-warped soldiers to retreat to a safe distance where they could watch the coming slaughter, he arrayed his armored murderers for battle.


                Across valley at the base of the mountain some few short miles away sat Lisbeth. She felt the tremendous power that had erupted and had heard the horrible screams that had lifted across the vale to her on the gentle breeze that stirred the air. She shuddered and emitted a pleased sigh as the waves of power washed over her, closing her eyes in order to relish the feeling. Unfortunately this meant that she was up against a very powerful being, one that couldn’t be beaten by conventional means. Lisbeth smiled and felt energy crackling between her fingers. She turned to her two attendants.

                “You are in command, take the army across the vale and crush our enemy. Return to the keep when you are finished with news of our victory. Bring their general’s head as a token of your success.” The necromancer nodded vigorously and the liche hissed its acquiescence. Lisbeth smiled and turned, taking to the air as her body dispersed in a fog that flew away with the wind.

                Comment


                • #9

                  Aantar felt a nagging presence in the back of his consciousness, some sixth sense warning him of trouble, but he couldn’t quite place it. The sensation faded as the armies below advanced towards one another and the imminent violence seeped through the evening light like a palpable smoke that crept across the downs. The shambling horde of skeletons and ghosts pressed inexorably towards the heavily armored men. Soon the air was filled with the sound of crashing steel and cracking bones as axe and sword cleaved marrow and flesh alike. The mute dead collapsing to their wounds while the blood-thirsty savages screamed their death knells to the darkening sky.

                  Aantar watched as his battle line pushed forward against the sea of living corpses. Behind the massed ranks of the undead two dark mages chanted dark incantations as green light flickered from their fingers. Each time the light flashed the dead ranks surged forwards in flickering shades of darkness, moving with an unnatural speed that belied their shuffling gait. A mounted regiment of his knights rode round the right flank, where they were met with a group of dark clad vampires swinging cursed blades and screaming the ecstasy of their blood-crazed madness. With a mighty clash the two groups of mounted warriors crushed into each other with flashing steel that glinted darkly in the rising moonlight. In a flurry of quick violence the struggle was over as desiccated flesh split beneath demon-infused blades. The vampires screamed as their mortal forms turned to dust beneath the thrusts and cuts of the savage knights.

                  In the center of the battle line the plate clad warriors marched into the ranks of rotten corpses. The rhythmic rise and fall of their weapons hacking through the rancid meat of the dead. Here and there the zombie hordes pulled down one of the armored murderers as pus filled fingers crept through eye sockets and gorgets to claw madly at the weak spots below with yellowed fingernails that cut jagged chunks of flesh from their foes. The dead jaws closed around any exposed flesh they could find, cutting screams of agony short as cracked teeth broke through metal to tear jugulars from their struggling victims. In the end, however, the practiced and methodical hacking of Aantar’s soldiers carried them through the fleshy resistance of the much less disciplined zombies and at last the soldiers stood triumphant over their now twice-dead foes.

                  On the other side of the field a similar situation had occurred amongst the dried bones of a regiment of skeleton spearmen. Bit by bit the undead army began to crumble as the keen blades of Aantar’s warriors picked away at the reanimated dead until all that was left were the two dark wizards surrounded by all of the plate clad murderers summoned to Aantar’s cause. The skeletal wizard’s eyes flared up in a flash of green smoke that covered his form in emerald mist that coalesced and disappeared in a great flash of light, taking the liche with it. The hunched figure of the necromancer stared about at the closing death around him. He shrieked incomprehensibly and threw himself at the nearest group of armored figures. As he approached with an upraised dagger a lone figure stepped out of the massed ranks and grabbed the wizard’s wrist. The necromancer struggled weakly for a few moments before the warrior rammed his sword up to the hilt in the dark wizard’s chest. The necromancer froze rigid for a few seconds before going limp and sliding off the dark warrior’s blade onto the ground.

                  If Aantar’s vessel had lips, they would have been curled into a cruel smile. As it was he simply swept his gaze across the broken heaps of bones and rotten flesh that littered the field before him, his eyeless stare taking in all around him. Again the nagging warning that something was amiss pushed itself into his mind, this time with much greater urgency. Too late he sensed the vampiress’s power being manifest behind him. He turned with his great axe raised above his head, preparing to swing, and found himself face to face with Lisbeth’s beautiful eyes. Her scarlet lips parted in a vicious snarl as her hand shot out to press against Aantar’s exposed ribs above where his heart should be.

                  There was a flash of cold light and a searing pain that rippled out through Aantar’s being. He heard Lisbeth’s melodious voice chanting infernal words from a forbidden language. As she did so her voice began to change. Visions began to pass before Aantar’s eyes. He saw a beautiful woman and a strange feeling thundered inside his hollow chest. Blond hair fell in getle curls around sharp eyes that threw challenges at all that could hold her gaze. A mouth that held itself in a perpetual smirk smiled at him through the misty haze of memory. A name formed out of the void and he spoke it aloud, though when he did the voice that spoke was that of Lisbeth’s.

                  “Kalia!” Breath tore itself from his frame in an emerald vapor, coalescing with the icy blue flames of Lisbeth’s spell. Aantar’s vision blurred and then faded as he collapsed forward onto the ground, barely managing to catch himself with his skeletal arms. He took deep breaths of honeyed perfume that seemed to emanate from the vampiress before him.

                  “Breath deeply, my love,” A voice spoke, it sounded oddly familiar. Aantar’s vision returned and when he looked up at the vampiress he instead saw the blond woman from his long lost memories. The strange feeling from before thundered in his non-existent heart. He spoke her name aloud.

                  “Kalia? Is… Is that you?” His voice was still the ragged whisper of a re-animated corpse.

                  “Yes, my love, it is me.” Her voice sounded strange in his ears, but her eyes! Her eyes sparkled as more memories began to flood through his mind. Memories of violence, not towards her but rather with her. He remembered standing beside her in a shield wall as vicious green skins coursed up the mountain towards them. He remembered her laughter as the arrows from their southern allies had rained down on the orcs, dropping line after line of them while more surged over their dead bodies. He saw in his mind’s eye the beautiful arcs of her sword as it tore through thick green hides and threw broken corpses twice her size to the ground. There were other similar memories on countless other battlefields pour through him. Then his memories shifted to other scenes, memories of firelight, and his hands touching hers, thoughts of fiery desire coursed through his phantom veins and he felt a longing torch his very bones. He dreamed of lips parted, of skin touching, of laughter not born from blood lust but of something much deeper. He remembered the touch of hair beneath his fingers as the cold wind blew down from the northern wastes. He knew this face.

                  “Come, my love, let us fill this world with blood anew.” The voice cut through the memories like the icy wind of that faraway homeland and he looked up into his beloved’s face. Her hand was outstretched to him and he rushed to take it, rising up to tower over her smaller frame.

                  “Of course, my dear,” the whispy death rattle from that issued from the skull did not betray any emotions, but it did carry the raspy sincerity that only the dead can portray. Kalia smiled at her champion.


                  Lisbeth stared at the skeletal figure before her. The enchantment had worked! It had taken a great deal of power, but she had reached deep inside the entity animating the corpse to find those memories that would most tightly bind it to her will. It had been quite the struggle, the entity was timeless, but it had not always been so. After sifting through the ageless eons of its being she had found a measure of memories from a more finite existence. The fragility of that life had lent the memories stored there greater potency and so she had twisted them to her own means. This spell was much more powerful than any simple glimmer curse. The being now believed that she was his beloved from another life so long ago, he would not turn against her now, not so long as he saw her as this Kalia.

                  “Order your warriors to stand down so that I may join my clan with yours.” Her sultry voice melted the night stillness with a smoldering heat. The skeleton warrior nodded and turned his head towards the group of murderers below. Without uttering a word the armoured figures seemed to relax. They sheathed their weapons and began moving back to the settlement from which they had issued.

                  “Excellent, my love.” Lisbeth purred.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Neat! Thanks for posting these.
                    Thanks,
                    Hal

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for reading it! Hopefully it's good enough to capture some imaginations and whatnot. I'm going to upload the next chapter here in a few, got quite a few of them, actually, already written up, it's just a matter of remembering to post them.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        3

                        A Plane-Touched Reunion

                        The column of human and elf warriors trudged through the majority of the morning. The forest had yet to give way after a day and a night’s marching and following the sun’s trail through the sky. The white robed man brushed perspiration from his brow and stared about, his hand reflexively scrubbing itself through his long brown beard.

                        “Gregor!” A voice called out his name from behind and he turned to find the elven commander approaching him, his eyes straining and pensive.

                        “Daggon?” The man returned stretching his hand out in greeting. The elf rode up on a horse, his dragon had been released to fly freely and hunt for his own food. He fell in beside Gregor who was atop his own mount.

                        “Lynne is awake, she’s asking for you.” The elf kept his eyes forward as he spoke, his eyes were shadowed and his elfin features drawn from weariness. Gregor nodded and turned his steed to ride back in the direction from whence his friend had come.

                        “You are tired, my friend, you should get some rest. With your dragon you could stay behind and then quickly catch up to us.”

                        “I can’t leave my troops alone like that. I’ve lost too many of them as it is. We are too few. I will rest when I know that we are safe.” Daggon closed his eyes and sighed deeply, his whole body seemed to deflate in the saddle. “Please tell me that we’re not pursuing a vain dream.” He opened his eyes and looked at Gregor.

                        “It is not a vain dream,” came the response. “But your are more likely to make bad decisions that will result in costly losses if you are not well rested. At the very least tonight you must rest. If not for yourself then for your soldiers. They need their prince.” Gregor smiled and patted his friend on the shoulder before spurring his horse forward. Daggon watched him go for a moment then pushed his horse into a steady canter in order to keep up with the stream of warriors around him.


                        As Gregor rode up to the litter where the elven mage lay he could already sense that something was wrong. Several elven guards stood around her and a series of shrieks lit the air like bolts of lightning. Dismounting he jogged over to where the screams were coming from. He found Lynne struggling against several soldiers that were straining to keep her thrashing limbs from lashing out at them. Lynne’s eyes rolled in their sockets like that of a crazed horse spooked by the sound of howling wolves. Gregor quickly knelt down beside the elven wizard and put his hand against her cheek, trying to make soothing noises that could be heard over the grunts of the struggling soldiers and the erratic screams from the mage herself.

                        Slowly Lynne’s eyes started to focus and she looked over at Gregor’s face. Her violent struggles eased and the soldiers who had been restraining her sighed with relief. Gregor brushed her hair out of her eyes, red strands that turned orange in the light of the noonday sun. Her sharp elfin features were strained and her breathing came in ragged hiccups that shook her small frame as she strained to calm her nerves. Gregor held her gaze and tried to smile.

                        “Hey there,” he whispered the words in a low voice. “What happened?” He asked slowly.

                        “I saw fire… and blood.” Lynne gasped her chest shuddered as she drew deep breaths in order to slow her pounding heart. “They are coming for us! Gregor! They are angry at what we stole from their master! They are coming for me! I will suffer the same fate as Lucas!”

                        “Ssshhh!” Gregor again brushed her hair out of her eyes. “That’s not going to happen,” he added “I won’t allow it.” He smiled reassuringly at her. Lynne’s eyes remained wide with fear, but they softened somewhat, and her breathing slowed as she regained some of her faculties.

                        “Thank you,” she whispered, closing her eyes and taking long, deep breaths. Sweat glistened on her skin and she licked her lips thirstily. Gregor beckoned for some water and it was brought in a bulging wineskin. Lynne gulped the water down in long draughts. When she was finished Gregor took the wineskin and turned to hand it back to the soldier who had brought it when suddenly the air shifted. There was no wind, the ground did not tremble, but rather the very sky seemed to rattle and the world appeared to tilt in a very disorienting way. Gregor had felt this sensation before. He still had nightmares much like what Lynne had described to remind him whenever he shut his eyes. Dropping the wineskin which sloshed against the ground he drew his sword.


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                        • #13
                          “To arms!” He cried even as he watched the air in front of him crack and a burning fissure opened up to hover above the ground. A red skinned demon stepped through the portal, in his hands he held a great sword made of obsidian black steel. Dark flame licked hungrily across the wicked blade. Great horns protruded from the creature’s domed skull and a flailing tongue caressed the burning sword in its hands. Without so much as a cry or any sound whatsoever the demon leaped over and cut down the soldier in front of Gregor. Without thinking, Gregor pushed his comrade to the side and rammed his sword to the hilt into the demon’s chest. It wheezed before dissipating like ash on the wind, an angry smile plastered on its twisted face.

                          Gregor stepped back and looked out across the ragged column of soldiers. All throughout their lines portals had opened and general bedlam had ensued as pockets of demons flooded through their demonic doors to crash against elven steel and the heavy shields of the human knights who stood their ground stoically against the red skinned devils. Having left his shield with his horse, Gregor knew he wouldn’t be able to reach it before another attack came so he stepped smartly behind the diamond shaped shields of his elven companions. He grabbed one of the makeshift spears that had been made the previous day in order to replenish their diminished stock of weapons. It was a crude instrument but it would be more effective from behind the shield wall then his sword could be.

                          Gregor quickly took up position beside Lynne who had gone deathly pale at the appearance of the first demon. She began to whisper ancient incantations and a ball of white fire began to flicker in her hand as she propped herself up on the litter where she lay with her other arm.

                          “Lynne, no!” You’re not strong enough yet! Let us protect you.” Gregor bellowed out over the din of battle. The elven mage’s brow glistened with concentration as she focused the energy around her and whispered the complex language of her homeland. The elven spearmen in front of Gregor cried out and one of them fell to the ground as a hole opened up in the shield wall and a demon stepped through, wrenching its blade out of the dead elf’s chest as it came. Behind it several other demons had already taken advantage of the hole and stepped through as well before the elven lines could press together and close it off.

                          A few elves turned to fight the enemy behind them but Gregor waved them off. Crying out a challenge the human warrior stepped forward with the crude spear in hand. The demons rushed at him, but their gaze was fixed hungrily on the magic user behind him. Gregor feinted with the spear and then reversed his momentum to slam the wooden point through the open mouth of the first horned head that came within range. Pulling back he performed a series of quick stabs with the spear tip that kept the others at bay for a second while he gathered his bearings. There were three more that were attempting to surround him and he was barely able to keep them from accomplishing this with his constant jabs of his spear, but this was tiring and he wouldn’t be able to maintain it much longer without them muscling past it.

                          He choked his grip up on the spear, bringing it closer to the tip and coiled his legs under him. The demons grinned their wicked smiles at him and one bounded straight at him while the other two feinted to his sides. Gregor planted the spear in the dirt and held it with one hand propping it up while grabbing his sword from its scabbard. The first demon’s momentum carried it forward too quickly and it impaled itself upon the spear through its chest. Gregor kicked it away with disgust and launched himself at the demon to his left. The creature blocked his overhead swing easily, but Gregor had anticipated that. Glancing his sword off the angle of the demon’s blade he continued his momentum into a swooping underhanded arc that carried the tip of the sword under the wicked blade’s defense scoring deeply across the creatures heavily muscled abdomen. The creature screamed and recoiled but Gregor did not let up and kept his blade in motion. The whirring blade swept up and cut through the creature’s throat. It wretched and fell backward its body turning to ash.

                          A stinging pain lashed through Gregor’s back as the demon that had circled behind him scored a deep cut across his shoulder blades causing him to cry out and fall to one knee. Gregor turned to face the creature but as he turned to stare at the demon he saw its blade was already raised above its head and was descending for the killing stroke. Gregor closed his eyes and waited for the blow to land and cleave his skull in two.

                          There was a sudden rush of heat and when Gregor opened his eyes he saw only ash blowing in the breeze and behind where the demon should have stood he saw the prostrate form of Lynne, her chest heaving and a terrified smile on her lips. Smoke curling around her fingers where her spell had sped away to kill the demon before it had done so to Gregor. Her eyes fluttered and she fell back onto the litter, her little strength she had left spent in that one motion. Gregor pushed himself to his feet and staggered over to sit beside her. He put his ear to her breast and was reassured with the faint but steady thump of a heartbeat. He sighed with relief. He looked out at the battle erupting all around him.

                          The demons continued to pour out of their portals in ever greater numbers. The screams of the dead and the dying filled the air all around him. They were outnumbered and their foes were fresher and better equipped. The elves and men struggled to fight against the overwhelming tide of demons washing against the crumbling bulwark of shields. Gregor watched as one by one the shield wall before him crumbled under the weight of evil swords hacking through mithril armor. He stood over Lynne’s prone form and gripped his own blade in both hands, preparing for the coming onslaught.

                          A shadow passed overhead and the demons paused. Another shadow darted across the ground followed by another. Soon the sun seemed to flicker in the ongoing procession above them. Reluctantly Gregor took his eyes away from the immediate threat in order to gaze heavenward. What looked like a flock of swans was circling overhead, only these were men with white feathery wings protruding from their backs. There were dozens of them. Two of the flying shapes were different from the others. One was a burning pillar of orange fire, while the other seemed to be enveloped in waves of blue waves crashing out to form its wings. As one the flying host descended and Gregor prepared himself for another assault.

                          The avenging angels struck like meteors into the heart of the demonic army, sending ripples out through the red-skinned devils and throwing their ashes to the wind. Flaming swords descended and clove through horned skulls and leathery skin alike. In moments the tide of battle turned. The demons retreated back, screaming their hatred at this new foe which so brazenly struck into the very heart of their own assault.

                          Within the space of a handful of heartbeats the demons were gone, scattered back to their native nightmare plain. Gregor felt the embers of hope in his chest flicker. Then a flame touched being landed before him, his flaming sceptre raised in preparation to strike.

                          “We will cleanse the taint!” He growled as his weapon began to fall.

                          “Stay your weapon!” A melodious voice called out and the flames stopped so close to Gregor’s face that he was forced to stagger back from the heat. The armored being stared balefully at Gregor through the flickering inferno that engulfed his weapon and then, grudgingly, he stepped back. The young paladin breathed a sigh of relief and looked past his aggressor in order to find the owner of the voice that had stayed his premature execution.

                          Another of the celestial beings stepped forward, his own blade wreathed in a faint blue fire that seemed to deepen the colors surrounding it. The grass beneath this angel’s feet seemed greener, more vibrant. The angel was a stunning sight. Silver armor with sapphire highlights encrusted throughout and a series of strange symbols radiated with an inner light. The armor contrasted starkly with the beings dark skin, so black that it almost seemed purple in the afternoon light. Bright blue eyes and a shorn head stared out at Gregor from beneath thunderous brows. The being stood before Gregor, sizing him up and down as his eyes wandered across the weathered armor and the chipped and battle-worn blade in his hands.

                          “Greetings, warrior,” the being spoke in a resonating baritone. “I am called by the name of Maurice and these are my warriors. I have never seen your troupe before, nor have we ever encountered such a race as yours. Some of you seem to be of the elven people, but they are taller and more solidly built than any elf I have encountered. Yet others of you seem to be of the race of man, like yourself. Where did you come from? My scouts surround this forest for miles and no one has reported a group as large as yours entering its perimeter.” His cool blue eyes bore holes in Gregor’s foreheads with their intensity but the young paladin stood firm, returning the gaze.


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                          • #14
                            “We are wandering soldiers and we mean you no harm. We were beset by those demons as we stole something of trivial value to their master, but it seems his pride was hurt sufficiently for him to send his dogs after us.” Gregor’s voice was steady, despite the nervous pounding in his head after the near brush with death earlier. The angel chuckled.

                            “You stumble into my realm and bring with you the Abyssal demons and you seek to play the victim with us?” His voice rumbled with a dark laughter. Ivory teeth flashed from behind dark lips as he smiled. “Tell me where you came from and what you are doing in my forest and then I will decide if your life was worth sparing, if it isn’t then my earlier mistake of stopping my soldier before will be easily rectified.” Gregor risked a quick glance around and saw that the majority of his soldiers lay on the ground in various states of wounded and dying. Those that stood were so exhausted that they swayed on their feet and most used their weapons to help prop themselves up. This was no army. They had become refugees and this last battle had proven that they would not last much longer without some kind of aid.

                            “I can’t really say where we are from,” Gregor began and the angel arched an eyebrow. “All I can say is that we have ventured far and away from our home, which has been destroyed. We are vagabonds who throw ourselves at your mercy. We have no home to return to, and we have no hope of survival without your help.” Gregor knelt before Maurice, bowing his head in supplication.

                            “You’ll have to do better than that, human, if you wish to save your life.” Maurice’s voice crackled with impatience. “You said earlier that you stole something from these demons’ master, something that would cause him to send his minions after you. What was it. Speak! And be truthful or I will order your death here and now.” Gregor sighed and reached into the folds of his robes for the skulls there. The air seemed to tighten and suddenly a flaming sword lay inches from his throat, the low flames causing his skin to sting from the heat.

                            “Do not try anything you creton!” The voice of his former aggressor sounded in his ears and Gregor hissed breath between his teeth.

                            “I mean you no harm, I just thought to show you the items that we took so that you might judge for yourself!” Gregor looked to Maurice who nodded after a moment’s consideration. The blade at his throat didn’t move as the heat continued to burn the skin at his throat. Moving slowly so as to not provoke further violence. Gregor produced the two skulls of Nicodemus and Lucas for Maurice to inspect. The angel bent down to touch the skulls but stopped before actually making contact with them. He recoiled suddenly and gasped as if in pain. The point of the blade at Gregor’s throat pressed harder and he pulled back reflexively.

                            “What are those things?” Maurice’s voice came in ragged breaths. “They have not simply been touched by evil, they have been bathed in it!”

                            “These were the skulls of my friends!” Gregor struggled to speak against the pain at his throat. He clutched the skulls to him protectively. “They were sacrificed to the blood god and we ventured into his realm to save them and extract their souls from that fiery hell! These skulls are the assurance that they have been saved and I promise you that this is the truth!” Gregor could feel the skin at his throat beginning to crisp and the pain began to die away as the nerves in his flesh were burned away. Maurice stared at his face for a few moments then turned to his soldier.

                            “Zargazo! Take that blade away from his throat before you kill him.” The angel hesitated a moment longer. “Zargazo!” The blade removed itself. Gregor fell forward. He quickly placed the skulls back into the folds of his cloak and lifted his hand his throat. Raw skin screamed at his touch but he knew that it was only a burn. It would heal with time. He swallowed painfully and stood to face the silver-armored figure.

                            “Thank you.” He rasped.

                            “I believe you, human, that doesn’t mean I’ve decided to let you live. Those skulls are dangerous. They are a corruption of the natural order and a symbol of bloodlust. They must be destroyed.” At this pronouncement Gregor quickly slid his blade free from its scabbard at his waist and stepped forward defensively. Zargazo leapt at him with his flaming cudgel in his hand. Gregor ducked easily under the swing and brought his own blade up to flash across the exposed digits of the angel’s hand. A bright light streamed out of the wound instantly and the angelic creature screamed in pain as it staggered back, his weapon falling to the ground with an extinguished sizzle. Gregor turned and pointed the tip of his sword at Maurice.

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                            • #15
                              “We are not so defenseless as all that, and if you think that we will simply give up to you that which we have fought so long and hard to win simply because of your cowardly notions, then you will lose more of your host this day than you originally planned. We will not abandon our friends.” Gregor snarled these last words even as a host of flaming spears and swords were aimed at his heart. Maurice held up a hand to hold off his soldiers and studied the man before him for a few moments.

                              “You say that you braved this demon lord’s realm to save your friends?” He spoke slowly. Gregor nodded, not taking his eyes off of him. “And you are willing to die right now, even though it means that all you will be doing is delaying us in taking them from you?” Again he nodded. Maurice sighed and waved his warriors away. Reluctantly the burning weapons relaxed and pulled away from the man and his skulls. Gregor did not relax his stance.

                              “You are a very brave and very foolhardy mortal, human.” Maurice spoke. “Put down your blade, we will not harm you nor try to take those abominable skulls from you.” Gregor slowly lowered his sword but did not sheathe it.

                              “Why the sudden change of heart?”

                              “Because I admire an individual who will not abandon his friends, even when it seems pointless to do anything else.” Maurice smiled. “It’s stupid, but admirable.” With that the dark skinned angel tipped his head back and laughed into the sky. This shattered the tension and Gregor found himself chuckling at the absurd situation before him.

                              “However,” Maurice’s voice abruptly cut through the nervous laughter like a knife, “there must be something done about them. As they are now they are a beacon to the ruinous powers. Those demons you just fought off will be back so long as they are allowed to exist in their current state.”

                              “What do you mean?” Gregor spoke, reeling from the abrupt topic change.

                              “Right now, those skulls are a beacon to the demons from whom you are fleeing, much like a fire in a dark room, it will draw those creatures, and worse to you until they have either been reclaimed or destroyed.” Maurice stepped forward.

                              “What can we do?” Gregor whispered.

                              “Perhaps you had better tell me everything, from the start.” Maurice motioned for Gregor to sit and as the paladin did so he sent for Daggon to join them. When the elven prince arrived they told their story of a nightmare realm built of blood and fire. Something that only exists in the shadowy world of chaos. They spoke of a broken world and the entities that destroyed their home. They told the tale of the sacrificial victims that had been done in a futile attempt to save their lands, their people. They talked throughout that day and into the night. Maurice stopped them from time to time and asked questions. Some were expected, others were odd in nature. Usually he would ask them to repeat names as they were spoken. Often times his eyes would narrow or his brows would crease whenever he heard certain names, almost as if he recognized them, but he never voiced his concerns aloud. At the completion of their tale, the angel stared at the elf and the man that sat before him.

                              “This is very troubling news.” He spoke at length. “You speak of the destruction of your own world and now you bring this power to our home?” His voice was quiet, yet thunder seemed to rumble in the distance as he talked.

                              “We thought to slip away unnoticed,” Gregor began but Maurice held up a hand to silence him.

                              “This power you spoke of, this bloodthirsty deity, is one of four brothers?”

                              “Yes, why is that…” Daggon tried to ask but Maurice again cut over him.

                              “I have felt dark rumblings in the world, coming from the Abyss to the north. My darker half stirs there. A part of me that I thought all but dead.” The angel’s eyes glazed over as he became lost in his own thoughts. He spoke absent mindedly to the elf and human as he pondered.

                              “My people are known as Elohi. We are the shattered remnants of a race of gods. Long ago each of us comprised half of a whole being, then came the time of a great sundering and we were torn in half, our light side from our dark. Our good from our evil. In this time I was known as Haephus and was a craftsman of great renown. After the Sundering I was separated from my evil half and became Maurice, while my dark twin took on the name of Heratius.” Maurice took a deep, shuddering breath.

                              “There followed a great war as we fought with ourselves, the dark and the light. Our greatest leader Domivar clove the ground with a great Black Axe and thus was formed the Abyss, a yawning chasm of dark sorceries that reaches deep into the earth. Into this schizm the darker halves of our once great race were plunged in order to save the life as we knew it on this world. I can feel Heratius stirring now, deep down in the dark. Something is calling out through the dark magics of that place. At first I thought it was simply a restlessness brought on by the centuries of being trapped down in that hell hole. But now…” Maurice stopped. His eyes lingering on Gregor.

                              “What is it?” Gregor asked, his voice becoming hushed under the intense stare.

                              “I fear that you have brought your ruinous power’s gaze onto our world. It is beginning to manifest itself. Ancient northern tribes are awakening to war as they worship a multi-faced deity that resembles the lore of your barbarian tribes you describe from your homeland. The vile children of chaos that you described, the vile ratmen who proved the ruin of your dwarven empires? They have emerged here, though they differ somewhat from what you describe the similarities are astounding. The presence of those skulls, the audacity with which you snagged them from the throne room of this god. You caught his eye. And now you have come here, and you have brought him with you. A world ripe with willing creatures thirsting for power, and you have led them to a new harvest.”

                              “No!” Gregor cried out “we did not mean to call this down on you! You must believe us!”

                              Maurice shook his head. “Whether you meant to or not, I’m afraid it matters little. The damage is done. If I could kill you now and blind this blood god’s vision from this world, I would do it. If I thought for an instant that your deaths might prevent the calamity that I feel coming, you would already be corpses.” He sighed heavily. “As it is, you are experienced veterans, and I think that will be needed for the coming days. Your ruinous powers have already found this world, that gate is open and there is no shutting it. At least not without a great amount of sacrifice.” He paused and stared up into the sky that was beginning to dim into the starry night.

                              “I am sorry for what we have brought with us.” Gregor spoke softly. “I pledge myself to making it right, I swear to you!” Maurice chuckled mirthlessly.

                              “Will you give up your friends’ skulls?” He glanced over at the human, who shook his head. “I thought not. No matter, it wouldn’t have solved the problem anyways. However, if I may do something?” Gregor eyed the Elohi with suspicion. “They will come to no harm, you have my word.” Slowly, Gregor produced the skulls of Nicodemus and Lucas, Daggon gingerly pulled his friend’s out as well. Maurice passed his hands over them slowly, chanting under his breath as he did so. Blue light flashed in the air and a thin veil seemed to settle over the skulls, shimmering in the twilight. There was a hissing noise and the skulls seemed to rattle before finally settling down to rest in the hands of those who held them.

                              “That should do it,” Maurice sighed as he released the power he had used to cast the spell. “That should bind the dark energies attached to the skulls. Now instead of a raging bonfire I’ve diminished it to a single candle each. It should make it harder for the demons to find us.” He straightened up and blinked a few times as if trying to clear his head.

                              “Now then,” he breathed “I think it’s time we were moving. The Basileans have a settlement somewhere up ahead where we can get you rested and figure out what our next move might be.” He took a few steps forward and then turned his head to speak over his shoulder. “Have your men follow us there, I promise to vouch for you but be prepared to surrender your weapons and do not make any hostile movements. These humans are just as war-torn as your old world was and are not as prone to trust as I.” With that the angelic host, as one, lifted off and sped into the sky. Gregor watched them retreat into the night.

                              “What have we done?” He whispered to his friend.

                              “We were fools to think we could escape without consequences.” Daggon replied

                              “And now the consequence is watching another world die... “ Gregor shook his head and barked out orders to move out. The troops grumbled but complied, picking up their fallen comrades and placing them on the makeshift litters behind what few horses were left to them.

                              “Why is it, my friend,” Gregor asked Daggon. “Why is it that every time we try to save something we end up destroying it instead? Are we truly agents of good anymore? Can we really call ourselves that when we have caused more destruction than we have saved?” Daggon didn’t reply, he simply stared at his friend for a few moments before walking away.

                              “We’re falling behind our guide.” He called out as he stalked into the dimming light.

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