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SAU XV: Pawn of the Dead 
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Kinslayer was considering the votes of the others, and then spoke,
"Well, I did mention he could be on suspect, and I have little else to go on. I fear if I decide against the majority one more time, you will suspect me of delaying things on purpose, even though the previous delays have been bad luck in all respects. Thus, I run alongside you this time. Pray we are correct."

Vote: Drainial


Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:40 pm
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"Ah, a story?"

Zenobius nodded his head.

"It sounds good to me, Sleek, but you forget one thing. I'm a bureaucrat. I like proof, rather than pretty stories. Now, there is definitely something to what you say. But let me present an alternate theory. Where best to hide? In the person who is nailing the coffin shut. That would be the last place anyone would expect and you'd just proven your loyalty by finding Mel'Reyne. I wonder just how far we should trust you."

He shrugged.

"I'm going to vote for Kilia now, but I suggest that if she turns about to be innocent, Sleek might merit some more investigation."

Vote Drainial

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Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:43 pm
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"Hm. I agree that Kilia seems a likely suspect. I will once more place faith in the brothers' judgement."

Vote: Drainial


Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:14 pm
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"I think we have seen it all now. Kinslayer's nose vouches for Zenobius, Khadarel is not too late to vote, Kilia has grown a pair, and Zenobius swearing by proof while he knows there isn't anything more than this. But one thing seems to never change: when you say we need to discuss matters, you actually mean that others should discuss matters. But this time, we came prepared."

Telrunya has a small shiver. "An interesting story indeed, Sleek, and you know how to tell it. I can just taste Daynarii's growing desperation in your words. Every single attempt at corruption so far has failed. He survived by the skin of his teeth only because there was a willing acolyte in this very room. And after voting off Zardock, he must have known his latest --and willing-- host was not going to last him another day."

Tapping his temple, Telrunya adds: "He knows the situation looks grim. Failure is not an option anymore. Only one more try to find another host. One more attempt, where every other has been thwarted. Who is corruptible, who gives the most chances for survival? Should he go for one of the twins again? No, this has failed before. Twice. Too risky.

"Perhaps Belial is a viable option. This current willing host will be exorcised. Make the best out of it. But Belial might be too obvious. An endless loop of the well-known game 'I know that you know that I know.'

"Then, a pawn moves forward, probably defenseless. Someone who might very well be responsible for making the council resemble an impenetrable fortress of mental prowess. My brother and myself seem beyond her reach now, but in return there is this chance to finally break through the defense.

"The only question is now: did Daynarii take the gambit?" Telrunya nods. "I think he did. I think he accepted the safe option to take a valuable piece on the board. But it is not about taking pieces. It is about winning the game.

"Checkmate."

Vote: Kilia (Drainial)


Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:43 pm
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It was quiet, very quiet. Tarbo had made himself more comfortable while waiting for the final decision to be made, lying against the rough planks that kept the crate together. Explanation and deliberation had finally given a next target to be subject to the violent exorcism. Now it was simply a matter of reaffirming that, and waiting for the ritual to be properly prepared.

"That must be a majority vote," Zenobius said. "May we have it noted as such, please?"

Tarbo's reaction was so unenthousiastic that it was indistinguishable from him ignoring anything was said. Belial cleared his throat and surreptitiously gave Tarbo's feet a subtle kick.

"Hm? What? Hm?" Tarbo's eyes shot open. He took a deep breath and observed his surroundings briefly. "Hey, nobody's trying to kill me." He sounded pleasantly surprised.

"I'm sure they are, just not right here and not right now," Khadarel burst his little bubble of happiness.

"Right, right," Tarbo muttered while dragging himself in a more upright position. He quickly went over the votes cast and nodded appreciatively. "Six against our resident pilgrim. Out of seven, that makes a majority." He aimed his eyes at Kilia. "Do you have anything to add to that?"

"Okay," she said, index fingers raised to get everyone's attention. "Here's what I think happened." Suddenly, she turned tail and ran.

"Boop!" Tarbo shouted. "Get her!"

°°°

Mioralynthia sighed. "How are we supposed to concentrate with all that ruckus? Captain, could you—?"

"She's getting away," Anleth noticed and immediately sprang from her tailor's sit. She snatched Mioralynthia's dagger from her waist and did what she had done so many times in her life: give chase. "Halt!" she shouted pointlessly; force of habit.

With an impressive if somewhat unceremonious dive, Tarbo launched himself at the pilgrim but fell short a mere inch of solid grip, instead tearing her robe down. Kilia nearly stumbled but ran on and out of the chamber. Anleth leapt over the stranded man and slid into the corridor passing along the chamber. She was too far away to catch running. Without giving it much more thought, she slung the held dagger at the back of the running pilgrim. A sickly thud was heard, a brief scream of pain and surprise, and a clatter of metal and bone crashing to the rough floor.

"Nice!" Tarbo exclaimed while clambering to his feet. "Good dagger, eh?"

"Isn't it?" Anleth instantly replied, nodding appreciatively.

"Perfect balance."

"I wouldn't know," Mioralynthia said, having caught up. "I'm wearing it, but I've never used it."

"It could be worse," Tarbo comforted her. "You could be a scroll caddy."

"Ah, eh, mistress?" Anleth pointed at Kilia with a definitely concerned look in her eyes. Kilia's bared body spasmed wildly in the corridor, an inky, half-transparent essense steaming from the wound in her back. A menacing, heart-splitting growl echoed in their minds and ears.

"Run," Mioralynthia said quickly. "Get to the barrier. Move, move!"

"Ah, did you get her?" Kinslayer asked, trying to peek past the other elves. "We'd give chase ourselves, but we were thinking you wouldn't take too kindly to that, given all the suspicion and—"

"Move, hunter!" Mioralynthia yelled, and pushed him in the direction of the ritual.

Kinslayer noticed the danger and whistled loudly at the others, hastily beckoning them to follow the rest. They caught the idea soon enough and did a fine impersonation of the hundred-yard-dash olympics. Further prodded in the back, Kinslayer slid into the asymmetric circle and waited.

"This thing does work backwards, right?" Tarbo asked, plunging down next to the sorceress while she kneeled and focused. She didn't reply.

"Holy boop! What the boop is that?"Khadarel yelled, taking giant steps with his long legs.

"Who gives a boop!? Just run!" Belial answered, and dove into the circle along with the others. Grace and elegance didn't count right now.

Mioralynthia ignored the crashing of bodies and metal onto the floor and onto each other, even a narrow brush of a cloak against her leg. Her complete trance was unnerving.

"What's happening?" Zenobius asked as silently as his breath allowed him.

Before Anleth could answer him, sparks flung off an invisible arc curved low over the circle, driving everyone instinctively further to the floor. A menacing roar sounded while barely visible tentacles slashed against the barrier, and golden bursts crackled loudly in the air. Deathly silence of held tongues and breaths huddled under the barrier while the barrage was unleashed over their heads like a furious storm on a leather cover.

Clash! A burst from the other side. Vaguely, the incorporeal entity could be separated from the dark surroundings through the candles and torches. It had no face, no arms or legs, no discernible body: simply a dark, vague mass with long, quick tentacles lashing out around it, trying to find a crack in the barrier.

°°°

"I think it's gone," Tarbo finally dared. It had been minutes since the last strike on the magical shield. He cast a glance at the others and found that, just like himself, nobody was really in a hurry to find out whether it had really gone. He eyed Anleth, prompting her for confirmation, and found the same uncertainty. It might have gone. It might have been waiting for Mioralynthia to lower the barrier.

Anleth swallowed once and wet her lips. "The mistress can't keep this up forever. She should save some of her strength."

Tarbo nodded and rose to his feet. Cautiously, he took a first step outside of the protected zone and looked around. He wasn't sure what to look for or what to expect, but he trusted his instincts enough to cause him to double back at the slightest hint of danger. That, and the protective charm Mioralynthia had given him.

The torches flickered gently when a hauntingly low draft passed by, causing shadows to dance subtly, casting strange, ritualistic rhythms onto the walls and sarcophaguses. He peered his eyes, waiting for something not to move, something out of place, something he might not even be able to see. A sudden knock against a sarcophagus. His heart skipped a beat.

Anleth turned and looked over her legs at the source of the sound. What was that...?

"Oh no," Belial said. "That would be so cliché."

A thud sounded against the heavy lid, causing it to move half an inch. On the other side of the chamber, a similar sound could be heard.

"Did he possess a dead body?" Khadarel wondered, wiggling his fingers around his large axe.

"If he did," Zenobius replied, "he possessed more than one."

"Mistress?" Anleth carefully laid a hand on Mioralynthia's shoulder, waking her from her trance. Her eyes were glazed, badly focused, tired. "Mistress, it is not safe here. We must move."

"Oh-my-gosh, oh-my-gosh, oh-my-gosh," Elyssa said. "Are they, like, resussasected or something?"

"Resurrected," Mioralynthia instinctively corrected her, and instantly added: "No, they are animated."

"... You mean like a mime?"

"Yes," Mioralynthia sighed, holding her aching head. "Exactly like a mime. A mime hungry for your brains."

"Aww," Sleek moaned.

"Why does she always get away easy?" Telrunya clarified his and his brother's complaint.

"We have to decide quickly," Anleth pressed. "What will we do?" She eyed one of the heavy lids when it caught a slam, moving it open another inch.

"We can't go anywhere with that storm overhead," Kinslayer said. "We need to find what keeps it here and destroy it."

"Alright, Lynthia, think," Tarbo said while helping her sit comfortably. "What could keep the storm here?"

The sorceress screwed her eyes shut while thinking furiously. "....Focus, a Chaos focus somewhere."

"A focus, alright," Tarbo pressed. "How do we recognise one?"

"It should... glow and hum. It's being fed." A low wail sounded from a sarcophagus while bony fingers rose from between the lid and the box. Kinslayer quickly slammed the back of his axe on the visible knuckles and splintered them with a dry crash.

"Okay, so we get the focus, destroy it, then make a run for it. Without the Chaos storm to feed on, Daynarii should be less powerful. Right?" he double-checked with the sorceress, who nodded faintly. "Alright, we split into two teams."

"Oh, we can't leave!" Elyssa exclaimed indignantly. "We don't have the artifacts yet."

"What do you mean?"

"We came here for, like, artifacts and everything, not getting possessed by some weirdo and then leaving with nothing."

"Elyssa, we do not have the time to—" Anleth stressed, but was soon interrupted.

"We may need the artifacts," Mioralynthia raised. "We may need them to properly destroy the focus. We must not make the same mistake made millenia ago: we must be thorough in the focus' and Daynarii's destruction."

Tarbo pressed his lips and nodded. "Captain, you take Lynthia and three other people with you. Find that focus and chart it. I'll take Elyssa and the others, search for artifacts. Mark where you're going so we can meet up."

Anleth nodded. "Good luck, sir."

"And to you, captain."

°°°

"How many dead people did they bury in here, anyway?" Zenobius wondered when seeing the eyeless sockets focus on him from a distance. The shrill sound of sharp metal echoed through the narrow corridors.

"And why do they always insist on being buried in full body armour?" Telrunya wondered.

"With a big-boop sword, no less," Sleek added.

Anleth wet her lips. "If Daynarii summoned these to prevent us from reaching the source of his power, then he'll put them between us and our goal." She eyed the others briefly. "Meaning we will have to go through them."

Mioralynthia flipped through the pages of the journal, hoping to find something with the minimum of concentration she could devote to it. The suddenly all-present sound of the undead crawling around in every nook and cranny of the place was unnerving and demanded at least some of her attention. "Make a call, captain," she deferred the decision. "I'm busy."

Anleth looked at the others—Zenobius, Sleek, and Telrunya—and wordlessly sized up their willingness to fight.

"Then it is as our king said at the battle of the plains of Fenuvial," Zenobius sighed.

"Bring it on?" Telrunya and Sleek ventured a guess.

Zenobius took a deep breath, then nodded half-heartedly. "Close enough."

°°°

"Tell me again why we are avoiding these guys?" Khadarel asked while throwing a look over his shoulder, seeing movement in the far end of the corridor.

"Because the artifacts are specifically made to combat necromancers," Belial explained. "They're likely to do things like repel the undead and such. Besides, given the choice to defend the focus, the source of his power, and some measly artifacts, Daynarii's probably going to bet on the focus."

"Huh," Khadarel replied, twisting his lips in half a pout. He was a little disappointed he wasn't getting to use his big axe.

"So as long as we have other options," Tarbo said, "we should take them." Suddenly, he halted and pressed his lips.

"What?" Kinslayer asked when he noticed the party stop altogether. "What's the matter?"

"We ran out of options," Tarbo said.

"I'm tired of taking options as they come," Khadarel said, and gripped his axe in both hands. A savage grin turned on his lips. "Let's make some options."

°°°

Anleth kicked a walking skeleton down to the floor, its bones scattering after the final blow. It would take Daynarii more effort to reassemble the entire creature and pluck its tortured soul from the ether than it would be to simply summon a new, 'fresh' one to his aid. She was counting on it. They all were.

"Boop!" Zenobius exclaimed. "Dead end."

"And the worst joke of the month award goes to..." Sleek added.

"Look lively, everyone. There must be a way out of here that's not through that door," Anleth said, looking around the small chamber they were all standing in.

"...but he may have to settle for bronze," Telrunya differed.

"Up there," Anleth suddenly said, and pointed to the ceiling. "There's a manhole there."

"Now, who puts a manhole all the way...?" Zenobius wondered. "And how do we get there?"

"Leave that to us," Telrunya said, and whistled for his brother. Instantly, Sleek ran for Telrunya, put one foot in his hands, and let himself be boosted up to the ceiling. He barely managed to reach up to the ledge, but caught it and pulled himself up. It was a narrow fit.

"Coast's clear," Sleek called out from above, and dropped a rope down. He looked around. This was not a tomb chamber, fairly odd for being in the middle of a catacomb. His eyes adjusted to the new darkness, and he noticed something... glistening in the corner.

"Have you found something?" Mioralynthia asked after clambering to her feet. A good thing sorceresses were held to some physical fitness as well.

"I'm guessing it's one of the artifacts we were looking for." He held it up to her: a small, golden cube holding a large, glass ball. A midnight blue cloud whirled inside restlessly. "What is this?"

Mioralynthia peered through her eyelashes and took the peculiar object for investigation. "I'm not entirely sure. It seems to contain energy or essence of a sort, possibly a catalyst or neutraliser."

"Last one's up," Telrunya said while pulling in the rope. Dead people might not be excellent climbers, but ropes were a useful thing to have around. Or so he believed; there was usually some debate in between the twins about that.

"Hang on," Zenobius said. "If we are finding these artifacts... where is the other team, then?"

°°°

"You've got to appreciate the irony in this," Belial said.

A large, dark-red crystal pulsated in the middle of the chamber, protected by a yards-wide, circular gap to the very edges of the room. Surrounding the gap, a dozen runes were inscribed on large slabs, each undoubtedly having some significance they couldn't decipher without both the journal and someone schooled in the mystical arts. Other than the throbbing pulses of the center crystal, the room was surprisingly quiet, unspectacular, and void of the undead.

"I'm having the impression that, whenever we make a plan, Khaine laughs at us," Khadarel sighed.

"Now, why aren't there any grave-squatters here?" Kinslayer asked. "Why aren't we being assaulted from every possible angle?"

"Because Daynarii knows we can't get to the focus over there without crossing the gap, and we can't cross the gap without the journal," Tarbo explained.

Belial frowned. "How do you know this stuff?"

"I don't," he replied. "It's the only reason I can come up with that isn't depressing."

"I like the way you think."

"My spine disagrees."

"So, what do we do now? Hang around and secure this area? Go looking for them?"

Tarbo tongued his cheek and nodded thoughtfully but absently, thinking. "We have no artifacts, no knowledge, nothing of use to the other team. Best we can do is try to find them, marking the path to this focus wherever we go."

°°°

"This just... doesn't make any sense."

Zenobius was trying to make heads or tails from their new discovery. Here, in front of them, unceremoniously sprawled against the corridor wall, abandoned, lied Demendred's body. His chest was savaged by deep clawmarks, his eyes turned behind his lids in his final moments.

"Perhaps he fought Daynarii's possession," Sleek guessed.

"And Daynarii finished him off for it, an unreliable pawn," Telrunya finished the hypothesis.

"But how with the claws?" Anleth pondered, tracing her fingers over the fatal wounds left in the body. "The undead we've encountered have no such claws."

"Aha! Found it!" Mioralynthia suddenly exclaimed. Zenobius almost bit off his tongue at the sudden exclamation, but quickly regained his calm and turned to the sorceress, like the others did.

" 'Oh, Khaine, how could I have been so foolish?' " she quoted the journal. " 'Daynarii was indeed responsible for the corruption of my expedition, but not for the purpose I expected. While he lay dying, impaled on my sword, he confessed his motives.

" 'He lived his life a secluded sorceror, hiding from the king's gaze away from the continent, practicing the arts of necromancy in the lands of Araby and beyond. But as he aged, he felt his life force wither, and he could not comprehend: as powerful as he was in controlling the dead, he could not stop his strongest tool from being his archnemisis: death itself would take him some day.

" 'But elves are resistant to the force of necromancy. To break the barrier inherent to his life —to our lives, he would need more strength than he could find in Araby. He prowled the lands in search of powerful essences but found them all too feeble for his purposes. And then he heard of Redoris and its plague of magical storms, of the unfinished cathedral temple built there. It was typical of the Temple to leave such a potential to waste, he claims.

" 'In his obsession, he fashioned a focus crystal to channel the forces of Chaos, able of luring the storms to the village. But as he experimented with the forces and came close to his goal, he made a grueling discovery: something was out there, on the other side of that channel, looming, waiting, hungering for his soul, the soul that he wished to shield and protect forever. It was too late for him. He was bound forever to the focus and its magical abilities. But he would not let Chaos roam the lands through him. So he used the only power he knew how: necromancy.

" 'He created the undead that prowled on the outskirts of Redoris, chasing off the villagers family by family, frightening them from ever coming near the cathedral. Who would not leave, he killed and added to his guard. And when we finally came, he was afraid of what we would find, and what we could do to him. If he was defeated, he would no longer be able to fight the forces waiting on the other side, nor stop anyone from exploiting them foolheartedly.

" 'At his request, I have absorbed his dying soul into the moon globe we carried along and hid it where he pleaded me to. A pact was made that no-one should know about. I would claim his defeat and lobby for the cathedral to be demolished. Daynarii would be forever entombed in the catacombs, guarding the focus.

" 'I cannot return with this journal. If anyone were to read this, his sacrifice would be made pointless. But I cannot bring myself —even knowing how foolish Daynarii has been to wish to invoke the powers of Chaos, I cannot bring myself to destroy the only recorded writing that tells his tale true.

" 'So I will leave this journal here. If the time comes that we return to destroy the focus crystal once and for all, I hope the information contained herein will help you make the right choices in all respects.' "

A solemn silence fell for several moments. As tragedies came and went, being in the middle of one of these proportions summoned a momentary respect from anyone.

"So we are fighting Daynarii," Anleth summarised. "But not for the reasons we suspected."

"And we are fighting him harder than he can bear, because his grip on the portal is slipping," Sleek reasoned.

"These clawmarks came from daemons. So some of them have already crossed over," his twin filled in.

°°°

"I wonder what did her in." Belial cocked his head while staring at Senestra's lifeless body. Her shoulderbag was filled with all kinds of golden, shiny artifacts. No wonder they couldn't find any earlier: Daynarii had her collect them all. But it didn't solve the mystery of having a dead pawn in the chamber, with clawmarks all over her body.

Kinslayer grunted once. "Demons. I don't know any animals with claws that large other than Cold Ones, and I'm certain we would've noticed one of those running around."

"Doesn't he have enough with all the dead people in this tomb?" Khadarel asked indignantly. "Now he has to get demons in on his side? What kind of game is this guy playing?"

Tarbo didn't reply to that; he had no more of an inkling to an answer than anyone else in the team did. But he realised there was a lot they didn't know. "We've pretty much all the artifacts we're going to need, I wager. Let's head back to the focus chamber and wait for the others."

Hmm... these amulets looked strangely familiar to Tarbo. He frowned, his mind digging deeper and deeper into his memories until it found the answer, or settled with a decent guess. "Ah, yes," he finally said. "Moon amulets."

"Moon amulets?" Belial asked. "What are those?"

"I don't know the details," Tarbo admitted, "but they're basically volatile charges that explode upon contact with sunlight. They hold moon essense or somesuch." He looked at the others and noticed they took a few extra feet distance from him.

"Yeah, ah," Kinslayer started. "You hang on to them."

°°°

The storm was intensifying. Even deep down in the tombs as they were, they could hear the thunderclaps grow more numerous and powerful. Anleth shared a brief look with Mioralynthia, who shared her concern. Either Daynarii was summoning more power to his side, or he was losing the battle against Chaos. Either way, it would be trouble.

The dry, dusty air chafed over the protective but clearly worn and damaged clothing of the expedition. Breathing was doable as long as it was done through the nose. Minds and hearts tingled as if teased by an irritating gas, a clear sign that the storm was starting to have a definite effect on everyone. The clock was ticking.

"So, captain," Zenobius struck up a conversation. "What are those big balls hanging from your legs?"

Anleth slowed her pace for a second and looked at him, offended. "I beg your pardon?"

"I meant the ones on a chain, of course." He chuckled uneasily. "Not that you have other ones. I was not suggesting that... So, what are they?"

"Boleadoras, or bolas for short. A bit of an exotic weapon, but very effective in catching criminals on a distance."

"Ah, yes." He nodded, then frowned. "Then... why the dagger in Kilia's back?"

Anleth tilted her head with a slightly blushing smile. "I... was having a rough day."

Suddenly, a massive rumble shook the catacomb. As quickly as it started, it subsided, but the elves looked at each other in alarm, wondering what was going on. It sounded much like an eruption, or perhaps even a...

"Collapse?" Anleth guessed. She found most looks to be agreeing with her. Something had collapsed, and closeby. The compass they were using for directions was spinning madly with no particular sense or system.

Was that a mark on the wall? Mioralynthia narrowed her eyes and stroked her finger over... chalk. Yes, that was a hurriedly applied mark. She looked closer, and then pulled a smile on her lips. "They were here," she said. "They've found the focus chamber."

"Let's not waste any time, then," Anleth pressed.

°°°

Kinslayer rubbed his forehead quickly. "Boopin'— what the boopin'. Boop! How the boop did these boops booping... Boop!"

"Well, that certainly illustrates the diversity of the word," Belial admitted. "And you were worried it would cramp your style."

Red lightning flashed the room in a bloody light while it struck through the open ceiling and into the focus crystal. The strangest and most ravenous creatures leapt from every tear in reality. A screaming, freakishly flaming blob with three eyes soared through the air, only to disappear into the wall the same way it appeared: unimaginably.

"And here I was, thinking this trip would be dull!" Khadarel shouted while he narrowly avoided the long claws of the purple, muscles creature in front of him. A wide, ungainly swing struck home and chopped the creature mostly in half, leaving the top bit to flap around while it tumbled over and slowly faded from reality. "This is like booping Disneyland! Only with more demons."

"Look alive, gentlemen," Tarbo cautioned them. "This will get worse before it gets better. But at least, we know that the other team will—"

"What in the blazes...?"

"Hello, Lynthia," he greeted her without looking, a big, knowing grin on his lips. He timely jumped back to dodge a spiked tongue aimed for his stomach. "We were wondering what kept you."

Mioralynthia breathed deeply to calm herself and regain her focus, then noticed the large focus crystal in the very middle of the chamber, pulsating and humming madly with the enormous force being channeled through and, most important of all, surrounded by a seemingly impassable gap. "I recognise this crystal," her clear voice briefly dominated the intensifying skirmish. "It's somewhere in the journal."

"Excellent!" Tarbo exclaimed, and quickly threw his shoulderbag, filled with the found artifacts, to her. "Be a princess and put a lid on that thing before we all die horribly."

Mioralynthia caught the bag and quickly rummaged through it... Yes, she could work with what was in here, although half of it she couldn't readily identify, and of the other half it still remained to be seen whether it would still be in working condition. Magical artifacts normally didn't lose their strength over time, but one could only wonder what millenia of exposure to Chaos storms could have done to them.

°°°

Kinslayer stopped a swordarm —really, an arm that was a sword— on the shaft of his axe before swinging the blade around to cut the arm off and incapacitate the creature. It lost its tenuous hold and collapsed back into the nether regions that spawned it. "How much longer do we need to do this?" he yelled over the battle frenzy. "We can't hold on forever!"

"Patience is a virtue," Mioralynthia said, her pencil trapped between her lips while flipping frantically through the pages in search of any reference, however obscure, to the focus and its dozen surrounding runes.

"Not right now, it isn't," Tarbo said, timely blocking off a blade on his own.

"Do not rush yourself, mistress, we have you under our protection," Anleth assured her.

Mioralynthia nodded and traced her finger over the page while reading. This might have some relevance... she stopped when she found her light obscured by a large shadow.

"Maybe rush it just a little," Sleek and Telrunya said, staring up at the massive, twelve-feet tall creature stepping out of an outright crevasse in reality.

"We are so booped!" Kinslayer shared insightfully.

Instantly, the essence in the cube hanging from Anleth's shoulder started spinning and sparkling. She noticed an intense, tickling feeling on her skin and instinctively dropped it to the ground. A vague, half-transparent, inky mass filtered from the dark essence contained within and towered over her. Anleth stared in abject surprise, as if transfixed on the very spot. One of its long tendrils swung over her head, narrowly missing her, and lashed into the giant demon entering their universe. Crackles of energy and bolts of darkness ran back and forth on contact, and the demon roared in pain.

"I didn't know we had a trump card," Tarbo said, patting Anleth on the shoulder to snap her out of it. "But it looks like we just played it, and the big ugly is not all too impressed."

"Mistress!" Anleth shouted. "We need a solution, fast!"

"There is no mention of how to destroy the focus," Mioralynthia suddenly said, slamming the journal shut. "And the ways I believe will work require equipment we do not have, or a proximity we cannot afford," she said, pointing to the large, bottomless crevasse between them and the focus crystal.

°°°

Daynarii's dark, twisted essence screeched in pain when the daemonic axe tore through the vague form that floated in the air, leaving a glowing, red groove where it had struck. With dogged determination, it launched itself back onto the demon, lashing on with its tentacles and sucking the very soul out of it. The battle of titans continued overhead while on solid ground, the elves fought for their lives, both in arms as in brains.

"This has got to be the worst magical solution I have ever MacGyvered," Mioralynthia admitted readily, her visage showing every bit of doubt and concern.

"I hope this works," Anleth muttered wide-eyedly while swinging the bolas overhead, several moon amulets attached to the chains. I hope they're stable against swinging, she suddenly thought, the realisation making her lose a drop of sweat in the process.

With a solid last swing, the now colourful bolas soared through the air, narrowly missing the large demons clawing into the necromantic soul that assailed it tirelessly. It rolled one ball over the other in the emptiness, crossing the distance to the crystal blindingly fast. A soft, clear 'ting' could be heard when the bolas and attached amulets wrapped themselves around the focus crystal. Instantly, another lightning strike tunneled through the air and into the red, glowing crystal, lighting up the moon amulets and... dissipated.

"What the...?" Belial frowned while looking at what was just sprawled around the most dangerous thing in this chamber, and then saw a tiny, narrow crack in the crystal. He opened his eyes widely. "Everybody dow—!"

A massive shockwave of magical force rippled through the chamber and the rest of the temple, throwing the elves off their feet and two or three yards aside. Unelegantly sprawled over the floor, and heads still ringing from the sudden, violent explosion of energy, they groaned and effortfully clambered to their feet.

"That..." Zenobius raised with a cough, "...happens a lot around here."

"On the bright side," Kinslayer noted, "...I don't see any tooth&claw demons or madcap necromantic hungers. But is it me or is the ground shaking?"

"It's not you," Anleth noted alarmedly when a brick fell between her legs and broke apart. "The temple is collapsing from the energy burst."

"Oh, fark!" Kinslayer said, then raised one of his brows. "Hey, I can curse!"

"And if you want to use your newly recovered abilities, you should run like you life depended on it," Sleek said while he scrambled to his feet.

"Because, you know, it does," Telrunya clarified.

°°°

"Left or right?" Belial asked Anleth while speeding through the corridors. Bits and pieces of the ceiling were coming down around them, on their heads and on their shoulders, forcing them to keep low while running.

"Left!" She spun around the corner, following him closely. A deeper rumble shook everyone to the right, knocking them against the wall.

"Aaah!" Kinslayer yelled. "The place is coming apart!"

"We'll make it!" Zenobius shouted from the back. "Just keep running!"

"Where's Tarbo? Has anybody seem him?" Mioralynthia asked, almost coming to a halt while looking around frantically. "Where is he?"

"We can't wait for him!" Khadarel's voice thundered over the rumbling, and grabbed her arm. "We have to keep going or we're all splatter!"

"Come onnn!" Kinslayer kept spurring everyone on. "I can smell the outside air!"

Indeed, there the wider stairs to the outside world were! Leaving everything else behind, the elves leapt for the stairway, scrambling up the steps to freedom while the slabs crashed past them, throwing dust into the faces and causing them to trip and stumble with every slam.

"Go, go, go!" Sleek and Telrunya yelled, and ran the last few steps out of the catacomb and into sunlight. A part of the horribly damaged roof came down and loudly demolished the intricately detailed altar underneath. "We're almost there!"

With an impressive leap and screams of despair, everyone threw themselves out the unhinged doors and into the dry grass outside. They rolled and rolled uncomfortably over the humpy, rocky ground, but ultimately came to a halt. They raised their heads from the floor when they saw part of the structure collapse, wallpart by wallpart, like bits and pieces of a cardhouse slowly losing to gravity.

It was silent. The sun shone majestically through a hole in the roof and walls and into the light-sensitive eyes of the exhausted elves.

"Woohoo! Who's up for round two!?" Tarbo yelled at the top of his voice.

Mioralynthia pulled her head off the grassy floor and saw an elf lying on his back, fingers stretched in the air in a victory sign. "Where the hell where you?" she asked indignantly.

Without getting up, he raised a shoulderbag filled with artifacts. "You weren't going to leave without these, now were you?"

°°°

It was a long way home. It had started off very quietly as everyone was tired from the long time spent underground —the spelunking version of jetlag— but soon people had started talking, comparing, or bragging about what happened down there.

"Mistress," Anleth accosted Mioralynthia by her proper title, "what exactly happened? There was an explosion, but... I do not understand what the ramifications of our actions where."

Mioralynthia breathed calmly and nodded. It was hard to understand and probably even harder to explain properly, but she would try anyway. "Moon amulets have an absorbing property. They react violently to sunlight, its polar opposite, but it an absorb most any kind of energy thrown at it.

"When you hurled those amulets around the focus crystal, you deprived it of its much needed energy and channeled it into the amulets. With the limited capacity they have, and the extremely volatile nature of Chaos energy, a rupture was caused, which summoned the explosion we all felt. The focus is destroyed or, at the very least, horribly damaged and thus no longer suitable as a conduit."

Anleth nodded, a serious expression on her face. She wasn't entirely sure she understood the magical physics behind it, but she was willing to accept that the solution could be found in that line of thought. "And Daynarii?"

The sorceress breathed deeply through her nose and pressed her lips. "Who knows? He did what he had sworn himself to do: he prevented the conduit from stabilising by attacking everything that tried to come through. I... don't honestly know what happened to him."

Anleth wet her lips and nodded again. It was something of a sad story, she found. "Let us hope he finally found rest."

"Yes, let's."

A solemn silence rested for a moment. Then, to pleasant surprise, the chilly wind was accompanied by a few flecks of snow.

"Alright," Tarbo said with a smile. "Let's hope it settles."

Mioralynthia chuckled. "Why? It's not like you're going to..." She cut her phrase short when she noticed something peculiar on Tarbo's back: two skis, exactly a pair. "What are those?"

"Hm? Oh, those? Skis."

"Yes, I see that, but how...?"

"You didn't think I was going to leave without these, did you?"

"But where did you..." She stopped. Did she really want to know? "No. No, I suppose not."

He whistled a tune while they marched on over the untrodden path, homewards.

________________________

    Players
  1. SleekDD
  2. Kinslayer
  3. LordAnubis
  4. Shadow Dark
  5. Telrunya
  6. Belial
    Drainial
  1. SleekDD
  2. Shadow Dark
  3. Kinslayer
  4. LordAnubis
  5. Belial
  6. Telrunya
    Deaths
  • 51la5 (Pure Soul) -- Day 1, inactive
  • Khel (Priest) -- Day 1, excused
  • Deroth (Hunter, Haunt) -- Day 2, exorcised
  • Kefka (Adept) -- Day 2, inactivity
  • Demendred (Soulless One) -- Day 2, inactivity
  • zzug (Pilgrim) -- Day 2, inactivity
  • Zardock (Attuned) -- Day 3, exorcised
  • Mel'Reyna (Willing Host) -- Day 4, exorcised
  • Drainial (Pilgrim) -- Day 4, exorcised


_______________________

Cast

51la5 -- Pure Soul
Purity -- (good) (passive) Be aware of all abilities on effect on you.
Smear -- (evil) (permanent) Permanently prevent target from being found by Sense. Fizzles Probe attempts on target as long as target is good.

Khel, Shadow Dark -- Priest
Sense -- (good) (automatic) Find a random innocent. All other characters with the sense ability will find the same target.
Sense -- (evil) Detect the presence of the cursed amulet. (Introduced at first subversion.)

Deroth, Kinslayer -- Hunter
Ensnare -- (good) Prevent target from using evil abilities other than subvert or cataclysm.
Ensnare -- (evil) Prevent target from using good abilities other than probe.

Deroth -- The Haunt
Subvert (Team) -- (evil) Target joins your team.
Crippling cataclysm -- (evil) When exorcised, end current day and prevent the use of any good abilities in the proceeding Night.

Kefka -- Adept
Reveal -- (good) If target is friendly, reveal your allegiance; if target is hostile, become subverted.
Unveil -- (evil) Reveal target's information (used actions, AP left). Target is aware he was spied upon.

Demendred -- Soulless one
Attach -- (good) If target is good, gain all abilities (good or evil) in effect on target, and witness everything target does. If target is evil or is successfully subverted in the same round, become subverted.
Parasite -- (evil) Use target's evil abilities on the target of its good abilities, if possible.

zzug, Drainial -- Pilgrim
Bless -- (good) Protect target other than self from subversion.
Curse -- (evil) Remove one AP from your target.

Zardock -- Attuned
Probe -- (good) Reveal target's current allegiance to yourself.
-- (evil) Reveal target's abilities to all evil players.
Open mind -- (good) (passive) Cannot be shielded from subversion.

Mel'Reyna -- Willing host
Attuned -- (good) (passive) Become subverted automatically.
Attuned -- (evil) Detect the use and target of all abilities that prevent subversion.

SleekDD, Telrunya -- Twins
Destiny -- (good) (passive) Any ability used on one of the twins is automatically (and transparently) used on the other as well. In particular, when one of the twins is subverted, the other is immediately subverted as well.
Destiny -- (evil) (passive) When one of the twins is exorcised, the other is immediately exorcised as well.
Resistance -- (good) (passive) Cancel the first subversion attempt made on any of the twins.
The twins may communicate with each other during both Day and Night.

LordAnubis -- Favoured Soul
Aura of Divinity -- (good) (automatic) Reveal your allegiance + abilities to a random innocent.
Spirit Bomb -- (good) When subverted, remove self from play and fizzle all other evil actions in play that night.
Can never be evil.

Belial -- Acolyte
Boobytrap -- (good) All evil abilities in effect on target fizzle. Does not stop subvert or boobytrap.
Boobytrap -- (evil) All good abilities in effect on target fizzle. Target cannot be the victim of subvert or boobytrap.

____________________________

Congratulations! The expedition has successfully found the haunt, exorcised it, and completed their assignment!

If you'd like to discuss the game, its roles, or have any questions, feel free to use the OOC thread, which will remain open.

_________________
SAU XV: Pawn of the Dead | SAU XVII: The Frosty Dozen | SAU XIX: On the Brink of Madministration | Running fiction: House Arhakuyl


Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:04 pm
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