The Plot To Capture The Dardenites ~ Tiavain, SO, RoD

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Postby Murdock Pryor » Mon Nov 03, 2003 6:19 pm

Murdock walked along with the Mages with a smirk on his face as they stopped in front of the House he smiled and watched through the crowd of men to see who else but Aranor himself. Murdock smiled and chuckled a bit as he watched Aranor walk nearer. Remembering his past as Aranor walked towards him Murdock thought of the good times and all the things that had he had been through with the guild of Tiavain then suddenly hearign the voice lost so long ago in the past.

It seems after escaping from here long ago it would seem this was a fitting return. Though you were not the one we were intending to capture and I am not sure if you are even worth keeping. So tell me do you like things that slither and hiss, I have some pets who would love to come and play. Oh and if something is needed let me know, I am sure you could use a drink. I would not want one to think that I was anyhting less than a gracious host.

Murdock looked at Aranor and looked at the men slowly dissapating as he smiled and looked at the man holding his Staff that he had recieved from the guild of Tiavain. Pointing to the staff he looked at Aranor.

You know I'd love to have a drink but that staff I will need. I promise you Aranor you know me better then to stab you in the back. I just fell in love with my staff and would love to be able to have it in my possesion, and of course, we should go for a drink.

Murdock looked at the man as he opened his hand awaiting for the man to hand him his staff, he saw Aranor look at the man holding Murdock's staff awaiting an action.
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Postby Kiyomori » Tue Nov 04, 2003 8:42 am

The warhost marches out of the cave into the brilliant light of Intop's glory. Blindfolded warrior after blindfolded warrior strides out of the former salt mine. The Herklaedi are in the fore, plate armour gleaming in the sun, long-hafted axes gripped tight. Behind them come the scouts, sept after sept in loose formation, overlapping plates of toughened leather protecting vital organs.

Kiyomori's hand clutches the shortspear. As the warriors of the Anub-Re warhost exit the mine, they form into orderly ranks. The massed herklaedi march shoulder to shoulder, five abreast down the mountain path. Behind them, the scout septs fall into a vee, three scouts to each side of the sept-leader in a tight wedge.

The march continues, down the track and out into the red sands. The march is a comfortable pace, long legs eating up the distance, without being forced enough to over-tire the warriors of the Dark Below. They march in silence. There is no need for random talk, no need to fill the silence with words. The Anub-Re march to war, and every mind is focussed on the battles to come.

Time passes more quickly on a march. Kiyomori allows himself to slip into the half-awake, half-asleep state where time is somehow less relevant. Eventually, the warhost reaches the outskirts of the central settlement. Blinking back to full wakefullness, Kiyomori moves forward as the host of warriors pause, seeking the fólkhagi. As the sept leader nears the front of the column, he is joined by the armoured figure of the Herald of Dawn.

Elador and the two Anub-Re walk through the settlement in silence, towards the main temple. The building looms over the two as they approach. Massive and rocky, it seems less a building than something drawn up from the ground beneath. Reaching the entrance to the temple, they halt, waiting calmly.
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Postby Eskil » Tue Nov 04, 2003 9:02 am

Eskil appeared from within the darkened recesses of the temple, hood pulled up to protect his face from the harsh sunlight, pale skin covered by his volumous robes. The Nillai priest was considered tall by the standards of the desert people, but still he seemed short when compared to the Anub-Re before him. He nodded in greeting to the two Anub-Re, May the blessings of the Lord be upon you. It had not been so long ago when the Sidhe woman had brought the Anub-Re to the temple for the first time, showing the tribes that they were not as isolated as they had thought they were. He still wasn't sure exactly what to make of the dog-headed warriors or their lands beneath the red desert, but they were good true Dardenites, strong in battle and in faith. Without a doubt they would be needed in the battle against the heathen magic-users of Tiavain.

The settlement seemed even more quiet than usual, not even the usual soft sounds of labour disturbed the air. It almost seemed as though every soul in the settlement, save for Eskil and the Anub-Re, had vanished. The desert tribes had learned long ago that sometimes it was best to apparently vanish, to disappear into the sands and wait for the enemy to grow too bold. And then they would appear once more, fighting to reclaim what Darden had given to them to watch over, cleansing the heathen presence from the sacred red sands. They would strike, lashing out suddenly and from the least expected quarter, only to vanish into the sands as soon as the enemy turned their way. It was a long used tactic of the tribes and more than was one they were very good at.

Please, he said gesturing towards temple doors, Enter the temple in faith, you are most welcome here. I would imagine that the Lord has directed you here, in the Darden faith's time of need, as the heathens beset us and seek to destroy that which is beyond their power. The red sands have been harshly attacked by the heathens of the city of Tiavain, Isonian spell-singers, wicked wretches that are blinded to the light of the Lord. They have also launched attacks towards the lands of the Renegades, men and women true to their faith.

It was at times of war that Eskil had to wonder if he would not have been more use to his homeland as a warrior and not a priest. Certainly priests had their part to play during wartime, ranging from calling the Lord's storms down upon the heathen masses and protecting their flock from the foul powers of their foes, to watching over the spiritual well-being of their flock and tending to those who had already passed over to the Lord's judgement. The last was his duty, ensuring that the flesh of the departed was cleansed and properly prepared for the soul's journey to the afterlife. With his own hands he had lit the funeral pyres of more fellow priests than he cared to think about, over seeing the funeral pyres of the non-priests, making sure that the proper prayers were spoken to send the soul on its way and ensure that it was not still tethered by its cold flesh.

But have been able to fight for his homeland, to weild a weapon and watch as heathens fell before him. Couldn't the red desert have had more use for one more warrior and one less priest? He harnessed his thoughts, such wishings for what was not to be was not how a priest of the Lord should behave. The Lord Darden had set his path before him, deciding before Eskil was ever born that he would be a priest and not a warrior, and he was no man to go against the wishes of his Lord. His life was Darden's to command and He had commanded that it would be a life of prayer, faith, devotion and duty, one that would rely on the teachings and not a blade.

He took a few steps back into the darkness of the temple, In response, the Sidhe witch has taken a handful of Himmetian riders to the city itself, seeking to destroy that portion of the city that dared to cast its unholy spells towards the lands of the Torturer himself. She has no more than ten riders with her and we can do no more for her than to pray that the Lord watches over her path and that He gives the riders and their mounts strong and true. The Blessed-Beast, Silus, has taken the majority of our troops to the south-east, readying himself to take back what the heathens cannot keep while holding our borders as best he can. The tribes are with him but whether they can cleanse the territory of the unworthy heathens is a matter that only Darden Himself knows. If it is His will that the sands are no longer under our guardianship then it will be so. But the Lord of Sorrows gave those lands into our care when the isle first formed, or so the teachings say, to watch over them till the End Times. We shall have the red sands returned to us, the heathens will be driven out, no matter how much tribal blood is spilt.

Eskil wondered how the Anub-Re had fared in the first attacks of the heathens in their underground home. Perhaps the Lord had blessed them and seen fit to leave them with the soldiers to retaliate against the Isonian agressors. And if the warriors of the desert above and the desert below marched as one? Well it would not be long before the walls of Tiavain came crumbling down, of that Eskil was sure.
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Postby Milabar » Tue Nov 04, 2003 10:42 am

Watching the war flow back and forth upon the sands of the desert towards the south, I look towards the north and cocking an eyebrow in disbelief, I chuckle lightly as I see Astavia walk towards the leaders she wanted to capture. The Dardenite leaders were out alone the gates, at least one of them that she had wanted. The Demon, Maledict.

Watching as she attempts to capture the darden leader, I am hardly surprised when the body of the demon is indeed captured but the essence of the demon stays. You can not destroy a demon while they hold something, sometimes a soul of another, something something different, but while they hold that essence, they can't be destroyed or captured, only turned for a while.

Watching as the demon blinks out, I lean forward in my chair, getting a better view out of my tower window, as I hear the chime from the wards start to ring softly. Demonic creature, unrestrained. Intresting, each ward had thier own tone as well.

Snapping out of my thoughts for a moment, I whisper the words of a protection from evil and protection from mortal weapons. Turning slowly, I grasp my sword from the table, and slinging it over my back, I flick my hands, grabbing the Staff of Neutrality as well.

Looking around the tower room for a moment, I invision the item that I am seeking, and holding out my hand, I feel the pull of magic as I will it to my hand. Quite hard when you don't know exactly where it was. Feeling an item rest lightly in my hand, I open my eyes and smile. Perfect, placing the item in one of my pockets, and holding onto the staff, I look back down at Astavia, getting where she is exactly.

Waving my hand in a circle, I watch as the small vortex opens, and stepping through, I flick my hand forward as I step through to stand beside Astavia, the black void lighting striking forth towards the demon, killing the solider that was beside him.

Glancing over at Astavia, I have a slight twinkle in my eye. Leaning over slightly, I whisper in her ear.

"I honestly hope this is what you were wanting, cause my wards are going off as we speak with that demon standing there. But, needless to say, I was watching from my tower, and since I saw you alone out here, I figured for your support in the council, I would come and support you on the field. Just for a show of trust between Tarrant and Dovanucci."

Holding the staff in my hand lightly, I reach into the pocket, and holding out a small rod, I grin at her lightly, whispering still in her ear.

"This might help. It was built originally to block against Risetti's demonic and necromancy arts, but it is basicly just an enhancement tool. The pearl will help focus any spells you cast, while the amber rod will help enhance the spell with a slightly more powerful kick. See if it helps."

Watching as another solider walks closer to the demon, I flicker my hand forward again, watching as the lighting encloses and sends the solider twitching, before burning into ashes. I couldn't allow another body to get close to the demon. While he could transport from the wall into another soul, the wards, as he got closer to a House, would help hinder his ability to do so. Hopefully this will be resolved before that is needed to happen, for while demons were an everyday session with me in the void, this one was....Maledict, one in which many knew, and one that not even I took lightly.

"So....ya got a plan, Mistress of the White? Or are we just winging it out here?"
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Postby Aranor » Tue Nov 04, 2003 12:02 pm

He smiled at Murdock.

This has been a most interesting turn of events. But the staff will be returned once I know what to do here. Now the servants will be bringing food and drink. And you can tell me of what you plan to do. I know that this war has been quite interesting though with being leaderless your home was easy to over come the forces of even with the little that I had concentrating on there.

He looked over at him and shrugged slightly as he looked aroun at the choices.

Now tell me something Murdock, tell me of what makes a few turn from what they say they believe in to something that is against that?
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Postby Murdock Pryor » Tue Nov 04, 2003 3:14 pm

First, you better return the staff or your in trouble.

Laughing Murdock smiled at Aranor and shook his hand and sat down watching the servants running around getting food and drink organized and ready. Sitting down Murdock took his cloak off and sat quietly and looked at Aranor.

I've never really turned, I'm always going to be myself for sure. I have old friends I became attached to and decided maybe it was tiem for a change. Although I did not intend on meeting you again on a note such as this. My plans aren't much just rebuild like you know I have always been capable of doing so, and from there I will just continue my rule like always. As for the army you should know I'm not the warrior I used to be. I'm more of a information collector now, I've made a few changes in my style.

Murdock smiled at Aranor knowing that Aranor knew well what he was talking about and what kind of a home he had created for himself instead of the great warrior kingdom he once ruled in Tiavain. Murdock sat and watched Servants approaching as he kept his eyes on his staff as he smiled and closed his eyes, and looked in the direction of the staff making it freezing cold the servant dropped the staff to the ground. Murdock laughed and looked back at Aranor.

Sorry I couldn't resist, you know how sentimental that is to me.
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Postby Masashi » Tue Nov 04, 2003 9:45 pm

The inside of the temple is cooler, and much darker. Masashi removes the blindfold with some relief. Here, it is not needed. Outside, where the light of Darden's glory shines, it is unbearable.

In the name of He Who Holds The Bowl, I greet you. Forces marching under banners of purple entered the Dark Below through the mines. The initial attacks were defeated, but they seem to have been mere scouting forces, testing our strength. We were able to evacuate most of the residents of the outer caves to the sanctuary of the Isle before the second wave of attacks. Most of our losses, therefore, were merely property destruction or looting.

The fólkhagi cannot help but be grateful for that small mercy. The Anub-Re are, by the standards of the Desert Above, a pitifully small race.

Given that the invaders appear to have entered through the mine-workings, it was apparent that the Desert Above must be under attack. Now that we have secured our own position, we march to your aid.

So. We must find a balance between the defense of our homes and the destruction of our enemies. Do you have maps?

Maps are quickly provided, and the two Anub-Re and one grey-skinned human lean over them. One thing soon becomes apparant. If the Anub-Re are to have any hope of reaching Lyssia's riders, the herklaedi will have to remain. Granted, the shield-wall warriors are strong enough to force-march to the heathen city, but not strong enough to be in any fighting shape once they do.

Very well. I shall remain here with the Herklaedi and defend our twin lands. We shall march immediately to make our stand beside the Blessed Beast of Darden.

Kiyomori, you will lead the scouts; as fólkhagi, I am sending the scout forces to take the battle to the enemy. Take all of our skirmishers ... hmm, take the warpriests, too, and inform them that the Sverdmund will march alongside you in Darden's name. Elador, I would suggest you accompany Kiyomori. Masanomi is a good second and a mighty warrior, but you alone among us have knowledge of the surface world.

We can provide you with guides, warleader of the Anub-Re Eskil says, gently. They will lead you to the walls of the heathens. We can also provide you with guides to lead you to the side of the Blessed-Beast

Very well. I thank you for your cooperation, Father Eskil. May Darden watch over you, Kiyomori. With Masanomi at your side, I believe you will bring destruction to our enemies

It shall be as you say, fólkhagi. Masanomi is a good secondleader, a powerful warrior and a close friend. I could ask for no more. In Darden's name, we shall bring destruction upon these heathens of Tiavain.

Masashi nods. Kiyomori speaks well, and the fólkhagi is grateful for the reliability of Kiyomori, Masanomi and their sept.
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Postby Anjolie » Wed Nov 05, 2003 3:49 am

"What news from the shadows, Zina?" Anjolie sat at her desk in the rather unimpressive house that served as the central command post in the republic that had been founded by the freed peasants of various kingdoms. The elf priestess that served as Anjolie's advisor stepped from a darkened corner of the room with a strange gleam in her brilliant green eyes. The human watched with mild interest as the shadows that clung to the elf's figure slowly pulled back into the corner, caressing her in farewell. 'Shadows certainly are far more useful than I ever knew...'

"The city of Tiavain is sending out armies to attack the people of the Holy Office and the Renegades of Despair." Her voice was soft as though she had just been pulled from a deep slumber, but her eyes were wide with a concern Anjolie had never before seen.

"So we go to Tiavain again and show their citizens that they too can be free. We've done this before. It's nothing to be worried about." Despite the certainty she forced into her own voice, she couldn't help but shiver at the elf's eerie eyes.

"The war is just a cover for their attempt to kidnap Maledict and Lyssia from our lands, as well as another from the guild of Renegades." A myriad of thoughts and emotions passed quite visibly across Anjolie's face at those words, most of which she would have been lectured for if Zina had been paying any attention to her human companion. Anjolie's icy blue eyes shimmered as she schooled her face to look concerned.

"Then I shall journey to the Torturer's lands to assure him that the people of the free republic will fight to prevent such foolish ideas from ever achieving...fruition." She only just managed to keep her eyes calm and serious when the priestess turned a calculating look on her. "In fact, I'll leave now. You'll see to it that the people protect themselves as necessary, and maybe a few of them get taken by the enemy so they can start educating the heathen peasants about true freedom?" Before Zina could reply, Anjolie stood from her desk and left the room.

The former slave practically bolted to the temple once she got outside the house. She wanted to find a way to Maledict's kingdom that wouldn't take days of travelling. She wasn't certain that he'd be gone with his troops for long, though she rather hoped that Tiavain was successful in their kidnapping attempts, even if those attempts only detained the demon for a short while. The sorcerors and priests all started in surprise when the woman walked in. Anjolie knew that her distrust of magick had become fairly well known in these lands, especially after their last war with Tiavain. What she didn't realize was that in her hurry to leave her house before Zina could object, she'd forgotten to put on a more concealing shirt. As it was she was wearing a few bands of white cloth that wrapped about her upper torso and looped over neck forming a makeshift, and not entirely opaque, halter top that left the network of shimmering scars on her back more than visible.

"Okay, you and I know that I would only come to you all if it was an emergency, and it is. I need you to get me as close as possible to Maledict's realm." The men whispered among themselves for a brief moment then one stepped forward with an extended hand, nodding.

"We can transport you. Please join us at the altar." Anjolie nodded curtly and followed him into the inner portion of the temple, barely noticing the other priests and sorcerors falling into step around her murmuring prayers and incantations. The woman whispered a quick prayer that the Trickster god watch over her...and not get too tricksy. The priest who had stepped forward approached her tentatively and spoke just loud enough to be heard over the growing cacophony of voices. "We'll only be able to get you just within the mountains surrounding his lands. You'll have to find your way down into the valley on your own."

"Don't worry about that. I know those mountains." He nodded and stepped out of the rough circle they had formed around her. His voice joined the chaos of sound that whipped about her like a gale force wind. Anjolie cringed, closing her eyes, and almost immediately the sound stopped. When she cautiously opened one eye, she found herself on the rocky slope of a mountain near the mouth of an old cave. The human's lips curled into a relaxed smirk. She knew this region of the mountains very well indeed, for this is where she'd first met the elf, Zina. It would take her the better part of the day to get to the first settlement, and she'd spend the remainder speaking with the people. Yes, it was high time these rulers of the guild learned that their people had voices that were just as strong as their own.


The sun was slowly falling from its highest point in the heavens by the time she reached the first tavern, where she intended to begin preaching the words of freedom that she believed were etched on the soul of each downtrodden peasant. Once in the humble establishment, she stepped up onto a table and stomped her leather boots several times to get the people's attention.

"Hear me! Have you ever feared that you would be unable to pay your taxes? Have you ever wondered why such wealth as those who lord over you posess isn't distributed fairly among the entire population? Have you despaired because there was nothing you could do about it??" Several eyes were turned to look at her, though none of the faces seemed to show any emotion as of yet. Anjolie didn't let this stop her, even though she was accustomed to hearing shouts of agreement by this point. "Well there is something you can do! There are many peasants in this realm. You outnumber the armies and nobles combined! If you all join together you can bring down the one who lords over you and mistreats you!" She opened her mouth to continue but realized that the people who remained in the tavern were staring at her in fear, and many others had already left. "Wha? Where is everyone going?" The bartender glared at her from behind a grimy wooden counter.

"Well done miss. Ye probably just ruined my buisness for the night. These people know better'n to get on the wrong side of the Torturer...a lesson ye would do well to learn if ye intend to live in this realm." Anjolie slowly stepped down from the table, her eyes narrowing as she slowly made her way over to the bar.

"I have no intention of living here. I live in freedom without fear of some tyrant overlord. I've already spent too many of my years under the heel of a fiend." She pulled a small bag from her belt and tossed it onto the bar where it landed with a slight jingle. "That's to cover what you might have made before I scared everyone off." Without another word, she marched out of the tavern. The afternoon was hitting it's stride, and if she kept a quick pace, she might be able to reach the central city. She was not fully pleased with the way things were looking here, but she hoped that she had at least planted a seed into the minds of the locals.
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Postby Kain_Dragonhand » Wed Nov 05, 2003 6:25 am

Kain knew of the plot to capture the 3, however he knew his part. While Astavia, and the others carried out the integral part of the plan Kain and a few others led the war on the front. Directing the armies of Isonia, the dardenites proved little match for him and the others. Wave after wave of troops bearing the colours of their god fell to the purple tide. Buildings within the lands of darden were set ablaze by massive surges of Lightning, the fury of Isonia.

Kain was exhausted daily, still adjusting to life in the desert. He refused to change his garbs to that of the desert folk, keeping the outfit he was recognized throughout the lands by. Even though he was exhausted he pressed on, leading his men to victory after victory.

While he took his place on the field of battle, a more desperate struggle took place in the sands. Even withing the city, the houses didn't always cooperate. This frustrated Kain, all the bickering between the house leaders. He stayed out of it, affiliated with Nim'Ostas only because of a promise. It was probably the only reason he stayed within the city. However in order to stay out of such annoying situations he was ready at the forefront of every assault.

Some time into the war, the idea of capturing ones of such power, and what kind of challenge it would be got him thinking. He would seek out Astavia, and see what he could do to help.
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Postby Voralphian » Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:49 am

We have been here before.

They do not learn.

Lessons so soon forgotten.

Forgetful children must be taught again.

And again.

Until they learn.

The Voralphian pair scuttled across the sands, dark shadows against the ground, holding to what shadows there were. Only a handful of days before they had been in their homelands, obeying the orders of the Blessed-Beast. But then he had recieved a message from an ally, one that had brought a terrible beastial grin to the face of the Vision-Seeker's son. That message had sent the Voralphian away from their homeland, headed back to the city of Tiavain where they had acted against the heathens not so long before. And that mesage would lead them to commit similar acts within the city as they had before, destroying what was built to a false goddess, bringing down by fire what had been raised by hand.

Darkness was a familar friend and ally of the southern tribe of the red desert, the Voralphian had long learnt of its secrets and its strengths. Some might have thought that strange considering how they were worshippers of Darden whose glory was represented by the heavenly body of Intop. But the Voralphian knew...without light there are no shadows, there is no darkness, it was formed by Darden's will, it was a tool that He had delivered into their hands. It was a blessing that they had recieved and used most gratefully in the Lord's service, glad to be found worthy enough to do His will on the isle. They would never turn away from his service, they could never be convinced or converted to another's cause. For the Voralphian, just as for all the red desert's tribes, there was only one reason for living, and that was to obey the Lord's will. What other reason could there possibly be for living other than to praise His name and strike down those who were blinded to His truth?

Silently they moved towards the city, ghosts to the eyes of the watchers from the walls, half-glimpsed and then gone, no more real than dreams. Perhaps upon the city walls a defender saw them, or thought that he did, but then looked again and saw nothing. Nothing at all but the movement of the sands, nothing to raise the alarm about, nothing to fear, certainly not Dardenites come to take the revenge of their Lord upon the city. Such a guard might have shrugged and shook his head, rubbing his eyes and telling himself off for jumping at shadows. To him there was nothing in the desert, nothing that moved towards the city with thoughts of fire and death in its heart. Nothing that snaked their way over a low point in the walls and landed with cat-like grace upon the street below.

Their eyes do not see...

Their ears do not hear.

This one thinks himself above our art.

The false temples will burn all the same.

They padded through the streets, ink black shadows that the eyes of the Isonian seemed to pass over. It was almost as though they had ceased to exist in the sight of those of Tiavain, invisible to heathen sight. Maybe it was simply due to that section of the city believing that no heathen would come for them, that they were safe from the righteous anger of the faithful. Or perhaps it was their Lord's power at work, shielding them from the eyes of the heathens, protecting them from discovery till their work was completed. The Voralphian did not stop to think about such things, not while the heathen temples stood and tainted the land. If they returned safely they would lay offerings at Darden's shrine in their tribe's territory, if not they would praise Him before He judged their souls in the afterlife. It did not matter either way, life or death was not important to them, if they died they would go onto His judgement and others would be sent in their footsteps. All that mattered was that the heathens had built large temples to their goddess, temples that were an affront to Darden's eyes, ones that His worshippers would cleanse from the earth.

It was not so difficult for them to find their way through the area of the city, others had already provided them with the directions towards the abominations of Isonia. Quickly they found themselves at their first destination, confronted by a temple, the likes of which would never been seen within their homelands. To them it was a building of great wickedness, one that spat in the face of everything they believed. No matter what they would see it destroyed, reduced to rubble and ash, no longer able to spread its evil influence, no longer able to corrupt the souls of those who mistakenly thought that it was a true place of faith.

There were no guard about in the part of the city that they stood in, it was almost as though the citizens of the area believed that they were still at peace and not at all at risk. But they would learn of their error, the Voralphian pair would see to that even if it took the last breath in their bodies. As they had lived together so would they die together if needs be, though they were two seperate people to outsider's eyes, in thought and in soul they were one, joined in life and in death. They were an odd tribe, never was one seen alone, where there was one there would always be the other. It was almost like looking at a man and his shadow, they could not exist apart, though neither was really ever dominant in the pairing.

They crept up to the temple itself, standing upon the threshold of the sinful building, the rage within their heart whispering to them to destroy the place. The few priests withn the building looked their way in curiosuity, perhaps mistaking them for citizens of the city, for they wore no insignia or designs that would mark them as souls from a particular enemy land.

You're going to die, one stated, matter-of-factly.

There is no other way, the voice was cold and hollow.

The Lord no longer allow you to blacken your souls with sin, there was no emotion.

And neither will we.

He wishes you to stand before Him to be judged.

So we shall send you to Him.

They stepped back, one withdrew an air-tight red-tinted glass vial from a pouch and threw it to the floor, the glass shattering on impact. Immediately a plume of smoke erupted from the remains of the vial, sending the Isonian priests, coughing and choking back from the entrance to the temple. One of the Dardenite pairing sealed the doors shut while the other prepared the tarred torches, lighting them in time for the pair to start the blaze. They watched as the flames took hold, moving around the temple to ensure that the priests had no other way of escaping. And then the screams began from within, reassuring them that those sealed within were recieving their earthly punishment for furthering the cause of a false deity.

It did not take long for the temple to become a roaring fire, one that beat back the people of the city who noticed it and tried to put the flames out. The Voralphian nodded to one another, allowing themselves to be beaten back by the fire, retreating to the city walls once more. All attention in the section of the city was focused upon the burning temple, people were rushing towards it, desperate to try and save the doomed structure and the condemned men within. It was just as the Voralphian pair had hoped, with all attention of the first fire, they could set the rest of those that the Blessed beast had commanded them to. By the time the people of the area realised what was happening there would be nothing lef tto save.

Everything was going exactly as they had planned, all they would leave in their wake would be ashes and smoke. The only thing that was not right was that the citizens would never know who it was responisble for destroying that portion of Tiavain.

It will have to be this way.



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Postby Tamlaine » Wed Nov 05, 2003 8:43 am

The city of Tiavain stretched out before the horsemen, wrapped within the protection of it's walls. Tamlaine regarded the Isonian's defenses with contempt.

These heathens are soft, cowering behind their cold stone walls. They no longer know what it means to be alive, to roam free across the steppes. No true child of the Steppe would allow himself to be caged within walls of stone.

The Khan's voice was scornful, and with good cause. The Steppes nomads roamed freely across the verdant grassland of their home, never remaining in one place for longer than a single lunar cycle. They were a people in touch with their surroundings, who understood the way of the grasslands they called home and worked with nature. These heathens, though ... they shut themselves away from the land, walled themselves in behind cold, dead stone, closed out the desert they called home. To the nomads of the Steppe, such things were not merely alien, but anathema.

The Khan regarded the unspuspecting city calmly. The heathens had chosen a war against the Holy Office of the Sanctum. Clearly, they had learnt little from their previous attempts to battle the Holy Church. Very well, we shall teach you again.

Tamlaine stood high in his stirrups, the attention of every last rider upon him. Ready A single word, quietly spoken, but it was enough. Camp-followers moved through the assembled horsemen, for this night, the nomads rode not to battle, but to destroy. Well-shielded oil-lamps were lit and distributed, attached - firmly, carefully - to fixtures on the saddles. The shielding served mainly to protect the flames within from the wind of the horses' passage, but also masked the light of the flame somewhat. Once the last riders had been handed their lamps, the Khan settled down into his saddle, unslinging his bow. A careful squeeze of powerfully-muscled thighs set the horse trotting without Tamlaine needing to grasp the reins. Behind him, the warriors of his clan followed, a slow, deliberate trot, gradually increasing in speed as they approached the city walls. Surely they would be seen soon, if not by sentries, by the web of sorceries the heathens were reputed to have spun around their cage of cold stone.

Cold ... for now.

As they neared the walls, Tamlaine reached back to draw the first arrow from his quiver. With a quick, practiced gesture, he pushed the cloth-wrapped head of the arrow into the lamp's flame. The oil-soaked material ignited, and the Khan nocked the arrow to his bow, drawing back swiftly Not too far, now. Don't allow the flames too near the bow itself... and releasing.

The arrow traced a burning path through the night's sky, arcing over the wall, a falling star coming to earth inside the city itself. A falling star - followed by another, and another, as the warriors following their Khan also nocked and released. From within the city, sudden shouts of alarm - but the Khan was already drawing back a second arrow. The sky itself seemed to weep tears of flame as the steppes-riders released volley after volley to soar over the walls, galloping back and forth along a wide section of the wall. Some of the arrows would be extinguished as they flew. Some of the arrows would land on cold, unyeilding stone and burn no more. Some would be extinguished before the fires they brought could take hold.

But the warriors of the steppe had brought many arrows with them, and lofted them over a wide stretch of the wall. Some of them would find suitable targets, by the grace of Darden, and some of them would not be reached in time. Already, several thin plumes of smoke were visible over the wall. As his mount cantered on, Tamlaine released arrow after arrow, raining down destruction on the heathens.

Eventually, the last of the horsemen released his final arrow. The pillars of smoke were much thicker now, and in several places, orange glows lit up the night sky. Wheeling his horse, the Khan lead his clansmen back into the darkness. Their work was done, for now.
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Postby judiama » Wed Nov 05, 2003 9:55 am

Judiama had watched with amusement as the three targets of the war had refused to be taken by force. Her warhorses weren't needed to transport them to the city, they had each voluntarily taken themselves to Tiavain. Keeping pace with the heathen force of Lyssia had been an easy task for a child of the plains. Subterfuge was learned as a toddler when one was the heir to the Everdon lands.

Taking station outside and parallel to the place of action, Judiama watched with fascination as the Fanyare Astavia faced the demon Maledict. The hourglass had been interesting, the reaction and freeing of the demon a small surprise. Judiama had no doubt that the Fanyare had further tricks up her white sleeves for she had proved inventive in all things.

Freeing the useless horses to return to the Nim'Ostas estate near the North Gate, Judiama summonded her troops using the
Call Friend spell. As they approached silently from inside the city, she gave instructions, "Spread out and guard the passages into the city. Take extra care to cover the underground accesses doubly." Nim'Ostas would not fail to protect the city if she had anything to say about it. Calling over a trusted sergeant of the guard, Hastion, Judiama gave him extra orders. "Hastion, I leave you in charge of getting the citizens of this area of town evacuated. Send all further into the city for proctection." she ordered. "The innocent shall not suffer this time," Judiama thought.

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Postby FieldCaptain_Galran » Wed Nov 05, 2003 10:05 am

Wooden wheels creaked as the caravan moved its way down the road. The immediate area around them was a process of change, course sands that varied in the coloring depending on which direction one went, all giving way to grassy landscape and palm trees. The caravan wound its way over the wreckage several other wagons burned black, but their fires long since burned cold.

Oxen grunted and snorted as they pulled their burdens along as fast as they could, their sweat stinking up the air in the immediate vicinity along with their passengers. The kobolds hung idly off the sides of the wagon while one or two nestled themselves in the nooks and cranies of the disassembled catapults and gear. One even sat in the dreaded launch bucket of a catapult letting the warm breeze run over its muzzle and closed eyes. In all, the caravan might have looked peaceful, it if just wasn't marred by the fact that there was clearly a small army on an easy march and the leaders of the caravan weren't imbroiled in a wrestling fight over the reins of their wagon at the front.

"As your commanding officer, I Command you give me the reins!"

"And as your daughter, I'm going to say 'Screw you!' with the utmost respect I can muster! I'm old enough, I can drive!"

"Not in My company you aren't!"

There was a brief clamor and a grunt as Galran made another lunge at the reins and received an elbow to the gut in return but not before offbalancing his daughter over the side of the wagon. The reins being pulled to the right as she clung to them and the side of the driver's box, the oxen slowly began to drift in that direction heedlessly ignoring what their drivers were doing.


Jessica pushed with a booted heel against her father's head as he reached for the reins she tried to hold out and away. Galran grunted with gritted teeth as he strained then resorted to cheap tactics and went for her armpit instead. A shriek echoed out through the landscape followed by a peal of light laughter. Victorious, Galran grinned holding the reins in one hand and pulled his daughter up by the collar of her uniform with the other. She growled in a huff glaring at him.

"You are So mean to me dad."

"It's for your own good."
Galran stuck his tongue out at her and she slugged his shoulder in retaliation.

"Where's mom?"

"She took off after our initial round of climbing all over her trying to get them away from her." Galran said glancing behind him into the wagon containing their personal tents and equipment.

"Really dad, you should pay more attention to where mom goes."

"Hey, don't take that tone with me. She's Your mother too you know. As much as I'd like to put a leash on her as my personal pet, my body wishes to remain whole in its entirety."

"Too much info dad..."

"You asked."

"Will you turn around and watch the road?"

Galran motioned for her to turn around and help him search the back as he lifted the tarp of a tent.

"The oxen know what they're doing... have you seen that-"


"What tree?"


"I wasn't looking for a tree."

"I didn't say anything about a tree."

"But you just did!"





"DID! See? Right there!"

There was a loud crash and the splintering of wood. There was a loud bellow from the oxen and the clatter of tent poles and equipmenting spilling out the sides and back of the wagon. There was a loud groan underneath the wagon seconds before the wheels curved outwards and then split in half as the wagon collapsed onto the ground. The dust settled as a faerie winged figure landed gently on the ground next to the wagon that had collided with a large tree.

"Yeah, that was me."

Galran and Jessica blinked in shock down at the prone oxen and then at each other.

"What the hell just happened?"

"Well... your inept driving abilities rammed the wagon right into that tree. I'm not sure whose more idiotic, you for managing to ram a wagon into the tree or the first place or the oxen being stupid enough ram themselves without a second thought!"

"Dad, didn't we get this wagon on loan from that Harmony lady's army stockpile?"

"Indeed we did... Think she accept the excuse that the tree jumped out at us?"

"Potentially, if it wasn't a good fourty yards from the road."

"Never know, we could have been wandering through one of them elven woods. We all know what queer folk roam around in there."

"HEY! I was born in an elven wood thank you very much!"

Both Galran and Jessica look up at faerie a moment, then to each other from the corner of their eyes.

"Right... She might buy that actually now that I think about it though the chances are Very slim."

"What if we say that a faulty wagon wheel, injured in the time of war, careened us off course and we hit the tree?"

"How do we explain the oxen then?"

"... I've got a bottle of whiskey in back...?"

"Drunk Oxs eh?"

"Who do you think coined that term? Some brutish fellow who could chug a keg? I think not!"

"Hrm... Good the goods, I'll open their mouths."

"Oy..." Faerie shook her head in disgust at her husband and daughter.
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Postby Owl da Renegade » Wed Nov 05, 2003 12:07 pm

Klear walked into the room his eyes and face clearly stout with determination, the hardships of the last couple days reflected in his eyes. There he saw Owl, hunched over a table going over recent scouts of enemies realms; beads of sweat ran along his brow and dripped off of his cheecks into his the cup of brew and the aerial reports he hovered over.

Master Owl we have suffered more damaged, and lost more troops since I last reported to you. As you ordered I sent our drow deep into the heart lands of the ill religious heathens to set fire to their temples. Our intelligence grows from our efforts, what have you now?

Bolster up the troops and refortify what we can and prepare for the heathen onslaught that is sure to come. They'll be following our raiding parties back into our lands.Have our people ready to abandon these lands in case we can't withstand the pounding of the vast hordes that march against us. Go now and make ready our people and our men, may Darden speed your way.

Klear left Owl hunched over his command desk with the aerial reports scattered everywhere about him; the glow in Owl's eyes as he departed gave Klear hope as he speeded off down the corridors on his way to the messenger quarters, so he could dispatch Owl's orders...
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Postby Aranor » Thu Nov 06, 2003 4:33 am

He looks at Murdock and nods. Yes I know you tried to change your style but for the sake of your peasants I would suggest keeping a little more protection you know how peasants can revolt against you. That is not a fun experience at all but it would be something that could happen. There is no need for any to be holding the staff right now. It will stay where it is. Now I am interested in the way that the dardenites run things.
The food was placed along with the drink and he took a bit of both inviting Murdock to partake as well.
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Postby Murdock Pryor » Thu Nov 06, 2003 5:47 pm

Dardenites, Forets, Isonians we all battle the same, the way of running things are no different really just points of veiws are different. I'm always going to be me. A grunt, the man who does as told and does it very well. I beleive I changed for friendship not like I changed to get away from others, but I changed for friends I have know. And of course the people of Tiavain which choose to still be my friend will always be a friend. I'm not the warmonger that I look like at times. I appreciate to have a good battle. My peasants rebelling is not in their mind I try to treat them very well.

Murdock looked at the food and took a drink of Ale feeling it slide down his throat slowly as he nodded and took a bit of food on his plate sitting looking at Aranor.

So how have things been in the city of Tiavain? I see that your still up to your good old fun. I hear your a leader of your own house now though, how did that become?
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Postby Aranor » Fri Nov 07, 2003 5:38 pm

He looked at Murdock and shook his head.

Ah what is different is if you believe in what you are fighting for. Well how it all became is that the Lady Wingrider decided to move on and try to find answers. She is my aunt in a strange way, and she handed the house over to me. We renamed the house Nim Ostas cause we are the white defenders and we know that. I may be leading it but I do the same as I normally would have. I had taken control of the house before you left TIavain I was just rather quiet about it. Things are going well. I have been working on some things as well.
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Postby Masanomi » Sun Nov 09, 2003 7:47 am

It's always Kiyomori, isn't it? Oh, we need someone to lead the scouts into battle against the heathens. Quick, send for Kiyomori. He'll know what to do. He'll lead them. Isn't he wonderful?

Outwardly, Masanomi is the image of organisation, moving swiftly, calmly, arranging and organising, anticipating his sept-leader's next order. It is inwardly he seethes, and those fires are never allowed to burn where they can be seen.

Granted, we're going to take the battle to the enemy and kill heathens. That's good. I'd rather take the fight to them than sit around and let them attack us. And the Sverdmund march alongside us... it has been too long since I have fought alongside those touched by His blessing...

It's just that, no matter what I do, it will be Kiyo who gets the credit for the victory. No matter how hard I try, it's always... bloody ... Kiyo...

Eventually, the warhost is ready. Masashi's column of herklaedi march through the settlement in search of the Blessed Beast, hulking figures in their armour. Masanomi represses a sudden surge of jealousy at the thought that the herklaedi will probably encouter the heathens first, will be the first into combat.

But we will be taking the battle to the enemy, though.

Kiyomori's scouts form up outside the Temple, loose ranks of spear-wielding scouts, the black-robed figures of the warpriests and the barely-restrained menace of the Sverdmund. To one side, the armoured figure of the Herald of Dawn stands in consultation with the desert tribesmen who will serve as the warhost's guides to the city of Tiavain.

The march through the red desert sands seems to take forever, striding across an endless expanse of redness. The pairs of desert tribespeople range ahead of the scouts.

Suddenly, the dwellers of the Desert Above dart back towards the body of the warhost, forming up around the black-armoured figure of the Herald on one flank. The enemy approaches.

The scouts form, quickly, calmly, into a skirmish line, the warpriests and their charges moving in behind them, screened from the enemy view by the bodies of the septs.

And then the enemy are upon them, a column of infantry cresting the dune ahead. Swordsmen, mainly. One unit of pikemen. No archers. That's a mistake, heathens....

The septs to the rear of the formation unleash a sudden volley of arrows, black-fletched doom falling from the sky. Just once. The Anub-Re know exactly how to handle this fight.

The purple bannered troops hold their formation well under the sudden impact of the arrow-fire. Officers within the ranks bark orders and the soldiers begin to advance. The pikemen in the centre lower their pikes, presenting a bristling wall of spear-tips, the unit flanked on either side by the swordsmen. Evidently, Kiyomori considers the spears a threat, a sudden barked command calls down a second volley of arrows onto the pikemen, a third. They're closing in now. Masanomi looks around at his sept. Any second now, they are going to have to start running, along with the septs around them, and since Kiyomori is coordinating the entire line, it is Masanomi's responsibility to check the sept. They're good, the other five warriors ready to start running. Behind the lines, the warpriests begin chanting in the High Tongue of the Anub-Re. It is almost time. The warriors are closing in.

The archers stand ready, arrows drawn back.

It is time. As Kiyomori shouts, the centre of the skirmish line scatters, the scouts moving out of the way, tearing a hole in the centre of the Anub-Re battle line ... or opening the way for something else to come through...

Unleash the Sverdmund!
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Postby Astavia Dovanucci » Sun Nov 09, 2003 10:13 am

"This is it, Dovanucci? You send sand to destroy me?"

His laughter was mocking and harsh.

Her face remained impassive. She had watched not the sandstorm, not the hourglass, but Lyssia, keeping weakened eyes upon the Sorceress’ face. A face which she could not see the details of, but they did not need to know that. Astavaia had no need for eyes to ‘see’ Maledict, she could feel him, so attuned was she to evil.

She heard him calling to her from the wall, knew he had taken someone’s body. She did not turn to look, for she would not have been able to see it clearly. His voice boomed from the walls.

"Do you know the sacrifices she made to stop me from doing this to innocents?"

"Know this, Dovanucci, I am nothing that you have ever dreamt of, none of your nightmares compare to me. You should show more wisdom in what you try to capture and ask yourself if you really want to know what I am."

"Now, realease my body before I do something you regret. Or before the Sidhe Witch gets angry at having her hard work ruined. Whichever comes first."

Still, Astavia focused upon Lyssia, even as she sensed the arrival of Zanafien and heard his reasoned words, words that she knew he would speak, words she respected, as she did him. A simple movement of her hand, a lifting of her beringed fingers in his direction, gave him notice that she acknowledged him and his raised army of undead, for she had no time to do more. Lord Tarrant had stepped from a portal, joining her. He whispered in her ear and handed her a rod, which she took graciously.

Finally, the Sorceress spoke. “Enough of this game, give the demon back his flesh Istar, you gain nothing through this course of action. Unless of course your aim was to bring further pain and suffering upon the people of Tiavain?”

"So....ya got a plan, Mistress of the White? Or are we just winging it out here?"

Astavia smiled then.

She had been waiting for Lyssia’s words.

“Indeed. Enough. But, I am afraid, that I cannot release The Torturer’s body just yet. It takes the passing of time to release that which is within the glass.” She paused, her next words directed to Lyssia. “Is it not interesting how easily, he was returned to his true form? Here, you thought him well confined and trapped for all this time, Lyssia. It must be painful for you to see that which you paid so dearly for, destroyed in a matter of seconds. Next time... perhaps you will seek a stronger magic to restrain him next time. Trust me. It is better that it is I who release him and not someone, or something, else, better here, than somewhere else. As much as I destest your kind, Maledect, there are those within the city who know how to deal with the likes of you, should it come to that.”

"Zanafien. Were it just I, or a normal city you would advance your walking dead through, it would be devastating. As it is, this is no normal city. There are those within who will take control of your raised, those that they do not destroy. They will send them back upon you."

"You would have come to speak with me, this I know. To share and gather knowledge. Others, would not have. I apologise for my tactics, but you must admit, they did serve their purpose very well. Now, I know and you know that this supposed war will go no where. We are equals, and we have a knowledge which few others have. The knowledge of the necessity of balance. It is this which I wish to speak with you about."

Her voice rose.

"Do you hear that Maledict? Balance. I may desire to destroy you, but as you see, I did not. Could I? Yes. As you could destroy me. But yet, we do not. Why is that? Don’t you ever wonder? Come down Maledict. Join us here upon the sands.“

Astavaia made a gesture and from the gates, twenty servants ran, bearing rugs, poles, linen, cushions, fruit, wine, cheese and bread. Swiftly, they began to construct a tented shelter. Within minutes they were finished. Pillows for seating, had been placed in a ring upon the rugs, the refreshments within the rings center.

“Zanafien, Lyssia, Lord Tarrant. Please join me. Let us sit and talk. You are here Maledict. You may as well join us. You know you would not have come to speak with me, had I but invited you. Come now. I will begin the flow of the sands of time to release your body.”

(OOC: My apologies for not having posted sooner. That dreaded real life interfered)
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Postby Valor » Sun Nov 09, 2003 8:04 pm

The screams of the dead and dying pierced the stagnant night. Lightning cracked the air and splintered the ground upon it hit. Despite the fact that thousands of innocent people had died, he couldn't help but let a chuckle escape from his throat. Each battle he participated in made it so much clearer. Every battle moved him one set closer to it. It didn't have a timetable except the one he felt within himself. The one he knew that creep closer and closer to him.

Impassively, he looked over the reports from the past hours. Yes--the followers of that disdainful goddess had grew more cunning, slipping through seams that he had intentionally created, hoping to draw their attention to exactly that. They had played right into it, pressing their attack in exactly the spot predicted at exactly the time he thought. He moved his troops around in accordance to this, shifting his defense positions as while attempting to throw the coordinator out of whack.

So far it had worked, the heathens had unsuccessfully tired to break down the barricade that held the outer keep. Throwing man upon man unto it's gate until they were exhausted and finally back off. He sent word for the reinforcements to move into position, making sure they were deathly silent while doing so, as not to alert their friends outside the outer keep.

He stood atop the balcony onto the now stagnant battle below. So far it was a stalemate, the combined forces Tiavain had merely scratched and exhausted their own energy, while Valor kept his soldiers in reserve, waiting for the right moment to press his own attack.

He felt the battle shift, the heathen army was moments away from making their final push. Slowly he turned his head to the man standing next to him. Now. The man put his mouth to the horn in front and pushed the air from his lungs, as a result a loud bellowing noise was heard, perhaps for miles, as it echoed off the surronding hills and sparse mountains.

They poured from hidden nooks and crannies, from caves and cliffsides. A two pronged attack centered at the heart of gathered army. Splitting the Isonain forces in half. His own archers took the advantage to send vollies of arrows across the short distance to their awaiting hosts.

Valor closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the new blood. Heading into his chambers he stood infront of the closest advisor. The moment they break the outer keep, set it aflame, they shall not take anymore of our possessions. He was sure to whisper quietly, as to not allow a potential leak of information, he people would despise Isonia that much more when they found out that her followers had lit aflame unharmful town.
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Postby Zanafien » Sun Nov 09, 2003 8:29 pm

He noticed her acknowledgement and sent a soft message to those undead flowing toward the city, halting their advance and looking back to him. There were several attempts to gain control over them, but each was shrugged off, ignoring the call of these interlopers when their brother stood so close and powerful. A wry smile crossed his face, feeling the probes of those within the city to take away his supposed hold over the undead. A slight chuckle escaped and he gave the city a look one would give to a child.

It was not their fault they did not understand the power he held over these undead, and it was probably not within their reason to comprehend why their summons went unanswered. In the simplest of terms, why would they dare go to the living when their undead brother stood to lead them? Should he fall, then they might have considered the calls of these others, but while he remained, so would they. Skeletons, Vampires, Ghost, Zombies, all undead fell in line to aid their master, their friend, one of their own kind, while those necromancers who used magic tried again and again to sway their loyalties. Zanafien was a part of magic, of the will and the word, not needing the incessant words so often associated with the way humans worked it.

"Zanafien. Were it just I, or a normal city you would advance your walking dead through, it would be devastating. As it is, this is no normal city. There are those within who will take control of your raised, those that they do not destroy. They will send them back upon you."

He rolled this over in his mind, deciding to allow her that belief until she was proven wrong. Granted, the mages within the city could destroy a fair number of the undead gathered here, but take control of them? No, they would have to kill him first before that particular event took place.

“How little you know.” Was the only soft comment he made in regards to her declaration. “If you had but asked, I could have told you the path this war would have taken, for I have travelled it myself on a number of occasions before learning. I can only guess this is your learning experience, Fanyare Istar. Perhaps, you will be able to take more away with you than you came with? One could only hope so, considering the damage done in this exercise.”

He glanced back to his friends, to the undead who still looked to him for orders.

“Return to your homes, my companions, and forgive me for calling you to war without allowing you to take part. I assure you, the next time you are required, you shall have all you seek and more.” His final words had been hard, cold and unforgiving as his eyes settled on Astavia. He was quite annoyed with her attempt, but she was allowed this once to make the same mistake he had. Another such instance and he would not be so willing to let it go.

Glancing to Maledict and Lyssia, he shrugged slightly as his hand waved out and pointed in the general direction of the small encampment. “I might as well, in light of the fact I am here anyway. Perhaps you would be willing to join for a few moments? It would be nice if we were able to get acquainted since I have not had the opportunity for a visit to your fine guild. I can assure you, it is on the list of things for me to do."

He pulled his staff from the ground while moving toward the pavilion and bowed to Milabar. “Good day, sir. It seems we have not had the honour to meet in person. I am Zanafien, and I believe you are Lord Tarrant, of House Tarrant. It is well to finally meet you in the flesh, since I have heard much of your exploits.”
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Postby Lyssia » Mon Nov 10, 2003 7:48 am

Lyssia secretly to herself and shook her head at the antics before her, truly the city of Tiavain gave her plenty to watch. And one in particular was certainly attracting her attention, though not for anything he had ever done to her, but rather for someone else. His appearance had not been unexpected, the sorceress had heard tales of his reappearance in the world of alliances and wars. She had heard the whispered rumours and dismissed them as just that and nothing more, especially when they had mentioned that he flew the colours of Isonia once more. Surely not. Surely it could not be true, not after what the priests of the red desert had told her of its history and their rememberances of him and his 'gift' to the Vision-Seeker Ebony. All that could not have been undone, could it?

And yet there he stood, just as the priests had described him, and most certainly not numbering himself among those of the Darden faith. What an interesting turn of events and most definitely a piece of information that she would file away for later use. File away for the time when Ebony awoke. Who knew how the Sidhe could use that piece of information when the Vision-Seeker threw off her mantle of death-like sleep? That she could use it to her advantage was without doubt...the whereabouts of Shadowwander would be a powerful bargaining chip in her hands. Indeed it might be just what she needed to ensure that the blind woman did exactly what she wished and took the Sidhe's advice. Somehow the sorceress doubted that those who flew the hated purple flag of Isonia knew exactly what they had given her by presenting her with visual proof of Shadowwander's continued existance.

One day Ebony would wake up and the sorceress would ensure that she knew of Shadowwander's new loyalty to another Isonian flag. Lyssia could only imagine what the Vision-Seeker's reaction to that would be, for one thing it would not be pleasant. What little the Sidhe woman knew of Ebony and the depths of her faith told her that there would be no safe place for Shadowwander to go to, no where he could hide that she could not find him in eventually. The blind woman would brave any army and would not be turned back by any fear, nothing would stop her if she choose to seek him out and condemn him for turning his back on the true faith.

She ignored Astavia's words for a time, turning her attention instead to Shadowwander, You wish to play do you? Ah but the one who will play with you is not yet here, maybe she will not be here for many an age to come. But she will arrive and she will demand answers from you, answers that you may not possess to satisfy her. And all your shadows will not be able to turn her away when she comes for you. She wondered if he remembered Ebony, wondered if he even realised that that was who the Sidhe woman spoke of. Well perhaps a little reminder would not go astray.

The Sidhe reached down inside her mind, reached for that spark that called to the Art within her blood. And the Art responded, joyful and eager, ready to do its mistress's bidding, wanting to out in the world, bending reality, changing it to her wishes. It was only a little thing that she asked of it, something that she had been trained in since she was a child by her long-gone master Ginaus. The air between Shadowwander and herself began to shimmer slightly, no more than a heat haze at first, nothing apparently remarkable. Then the shimmer became more defined, more definite, more real and even the most unmagical of creatures would have been able to realise that it was more than mere heat that was causing it. The light seemed to change in that small area, darkening, shaping itself into something else, into someone else. Or rather into the image of someone else, for the person was far away and unaware of the workings of the world around her. It would be no more than an illusion, exact in every detail, but no more than an illusion, a picture of the woman.

The illusion stood no more than an average human female's height, clad in dark red robes that the dust of her home desert clung to. Her long black hair, as dark as her name, fell all about her, unbound and free to fall where it would. The skin was pale, but not unnaturally so, it was just not as touched by time or weather as others might have been. She leaned against a plain wooden staff, her eyes closed as if she was thinking of other places and other people, not at all aware of the world about her.

Then suddenly her eyes opened to reveal...nothing.

Where the woman's eyes should have been was nothing, just a blackness from which fell ichorous inky-black tears. Ebony. Vision-Seeker of Darden. The woman who had willingly given up her own eyes to her Lord to prove to Him how much she loved Him. She had had a faith that was unshakeable, a belief that could not be broken and now an image of her stood between Shadowwander and Lyssia, staring at the former, conjured by the later. One of the illusion's hands let go of the wooden staff and pointed towards Shadowwander. From the hand hung the 'gift', the necklace given to Ebony by Shadowwander so many ages before. The empty eyes of the illusion fixed themselves upon him as a single word was spoken, Traitor. Then the illusion vanished, gone as if it had never been, disappeared back into the Art from which it had been summoned.

She remembers, Lyssia said, turning away from Shadowwander, She will always remember. When the time comes, she will most certainly want to play with you. Let him consider her words and the illusion that she had conjured just for him, let him wonder, let him decide what he would. But when the time came...yes Lyssia could just imagine what would happen when the time came.

For now though, she could not allow herself to think too long upon that, there were other matters to attend to, such as the 'white' mage of Tiavain for one. What did Astavia think that she would gain from her actions? Perhaps the sorceress could not think as the Isonian did, perhaps it was something that caught up humans as it usually did. The shorter-lived races could sometimes prove to be quite a puzzle to her, maybe it was because the Sidhe viewed time differently, maybe it was because her race could become too set in their ways, maybe because they could just be too stubborn or too sure. Certainly Astavia's actions were a puzzle and most certainly not what Lyssia would have expected from one who's House was supposed to stand for what was right and good. There again, perhaps the mage had grown too obsessed with stamping out the 'evil' in the world, too sure that all that was dark should be destroyed by her hand, never seeing the darkness that flourished in her own shadow. It was easy for such a thing to happen, Lyssia had seen it before, the Three knew she had been a victim of such a way of thinking before.

Never mind though, Astavia would continue along her path, Lyssia would not change that, she would not interfer in this one's choices in life. Though perhaps it would not be too long before the 'white' mage's robes were shot with a different colour thread, a darker one, whether Astavia realised it or not. Those who proclaimed themselves 'white' mages walked a difficult and thin line, it was too easy to fall and the fall was a steep one, down deep into a darkness that could consume a soul. And most that had fallen never realised it, they still looked upon the world and proclaimed themselves to be white, still believed that they were right and good. An easy fall to make, and an even easier one to take advantage of if a soul was that way inclined, and knowing the city of Tiavain, not to mention its darker Houses, the Sidhe could not believe that it would be too long before someone took advantage within its walls. Be careful Astavia, the sorceress whispered beneath her breath, it would be the only warning that the Sidhe would ever give on the matter.

Then she spoke louder, Astavia, my dear 'white' mage, if I had believed Maledict was, as you say, 'confined and trapped for all time' by what I did, then I would be a fool. I know my limits Astavia, I knew that there were magicks that could undo what I did. I knew that there were non-magical means to undoing what I sacrificed for. Does it pain me to see what you have done? Perhaps, but not for the reasons you think. Maybe the real question should be...does it pain you? Yes there was a question, and one that the sorceress would be interested in the answer of, though not entirely for the most obvious reason.

As for restraining the demon, I would never presume so much, though she had to admit that it amused her to hear of these people who apparently could 'deal' with Maledict. Now there was something that she would be amused to see, though Tiavain might find itself several demon-dealers down by the end of such an encounter.

Lyssia watched as the servants constructed the shelter, a faint smile still painted upon her face. Sit and talk with you Astavia? Now why would I want to do that?
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Postby Maledict » Mon Nov 10, 2003 8:38 am

So many new people had arrived now, and one in particular was intent on stealing the Torturer's fun by killing Tiavain's own troops. Archer upon archer fell to the magic of this newcomer who seemed to be an ally of the city.
Such drastic measures. Maledict said in his usual hushed tone, his demonic form now totally unleashed upon the poor body that hosted him. Well, that showed me. With a smirk on his lipless mouth he jumped down from the city walls and landed heavily on the floor. Having picked himself up and dusted himself down he set his gaze upon the one to whom Lyssia concentrated on.

ShadowWander. His face remained expressionless as he spoke the name, almost as though it meant nothing to him. Such a waste of good demon, to be bound to these.. His arm moved in a sweeping gesture to encompass the newly arrived citizens of Tiavain. .. people. He personally thought that the word used by the Ebony illusion had been a little harsh, although he didn't once doubt that Ebony herself would have used it. Tell me old friend, exactly how long does it take for a demon to lose his sense of self? Do these people fear you or are you their pet, brought out to attack nasty heathens like a guard dog and then sent back into your kennel? A low chuckle rattled in his throat. When I play with you, ShadowWander, you'll know because I'll have thrown you a stick. Tame little puppy dog. He then turned his back on the shadow demon and on all the other Tiavain leaders.

He had heard Astavia's words to him, had heard about the people who could deal with him and decided not to answer such claims, let them think such things. The more they underestimated him, the more power he had. One thing she said had riled him though, the invitation to talk. He looked back over his shoulder and eyed her impassively.

You destroy my people, you force my hand so that I come here to confront you, you stand there with the blood of Sanctum Officium upon your hands and expect me to sit and have a cosy little chat about what? My powers, who I am, what I am? The Torturer shook his head and smiled to himself, the smile causing his lipless mouth to become a rictus grin. I'll give you this, Dovanucci, what you lack in wisdom you make up for in nerve. He then looked forward and began to walk toward his horse, which was already shaking it's head and snorting at the sight of it's master. I will decline the invitation but you may keep the body and study it to your heart's content. It was tainted anyway.

When the demon reached his steed he jumped up and into the saddle, nodded a goodbye to them all and dug his heels into the flanks of the horse, spurring it onwards.

He had a demoness to visit.

OOC: Hope this post doesn't offend anyone in a personal way.. it's just me being in character. Sorry for the ooc, just thought I should mention it is all
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Postby Astavia Dovanucci » Mon Nov 10, 2003 12:57 pm

"You will never know, now, why I wanted you here...."

The words whispered by Astavia and carried by the hot desert winds, swirled about Maledict's head as he kicked his horse forward. The steed's hooves kicked up the sands in billowing clouds behind them. Clouds which rose with Astavia's breath and a few silent words, causing the sand to swirl with the wind, whorling the fine grains about the horse and demon, rendering the horse blind.

Her hand which had extended towards Maledict, dropped and so did the winds. The horse would recover, but it's progress across the desert would be slowed. "I will see you again, Demon."

Lyssia's voice, spoken only for Astavia carried soft upon the winds.Be careful Astavia

Astavia looked at her.

The Sorceress presumed to question her motives it seemed. Astavia could see why. People believed that she, being a white Istar, was rendered sterile and powerless by that path. In some ways, Lyssia was right in thinking that, but not in all. There were many times, when Astavia's hands had been stilled by the thought of the backlash of her magicks or actions and what it would wreak upon the innocents. The truth, however was that there were very few true innocents in this land. The wars had brought chaos and with that chaos, the shadow cast by the black grew steadily. Most of the Isle was now infused with various shades of grey, some still quaking at the sight of black, others drawn to it's void. For in that absence of color, there was an absence of conscience, an absence of truth, an absence of responsibility, there was only yourself. No one and nothing else mattered.

Following the path of white, did not mean one could not kill, could not maim, could not bring disease and pestulance upon the land. It was necessary. That was the bane of the white's existence. For every action, however well intentioned, could and would cause someone pain somewhere. It was unavoidable. The weaker of the white mages could not bear the weight of this and were often to be found in temples, wringing their hands, crying and praying for forgiveness from their gods for the wrongs they had unleashed upon the world.

Astavia was not weak. She did not cry. She did not pray to a god. She had only her belief in herself and her magick. The belief that somehow she could help the balance in the world be restored.

She was not so foolish to believe that she could eradicate evil and indeed she did not wish to. To do so, would be to destroy herself. For there is no good without evil, no love without hate, no light without dark. They needed each other. Evil though, because it had no conscience, more often tried to impose itself upon the world, to gain in power. The result being that she, Astavia, and others like her, had to battle the evil ones, to show them that they were not almighty, that they were vincible. She must keep evil in check, destroying only what needed destruction in order to keep the balance, to keep the order.

Order... Balance...

When was the last time any who dwelt upon the Isle had known order or balance?

Evil was rampant. Oh, many thought that Astavia and Tiavain fought for Isonia and Isonia's way and word. Not so. Well, perhaps some did. But, who was Isonia? One of the many gods who attempted to impose their will upon the land? One god was not more evil or more good than the other. They came and went depending upon popularity. Many in the desert worshipped Intop and the moons, or old gods long forgotten. It did not matter....

The present gods were corrupt in Astavia's eyes. Each of them wishing supreme power. Each doing whatever it took to achieve that. Much like the Istar within the city. Much like those gathered here right now. Power corrupted. Power was evil and bred evil.

Was she tempted by the black tendrils of power? Was she haunted in the night by dreams of the black? Yes. It was true. Evil held a strange fascination for her. It was a struggle. It was lonely. It was difficult.

Yet, she would ensure that good was always there. The white light shining at the end of the black tunnel. An endless tunnel for some. For others, the ray of hope.

"......Does it pain me to see what you have done? Perhaps, but not for the reasons you think. Maybe the real question should be...does it pain you?"

Astavia lifted her head. She could not see Lyssia's eyes, just her face, for her eyes had not fully recovered yet, but she gazed full upon that face, sitting so high and sanctimonious upon it's horse.

"Does it pain me? To have Maledict free and in his true form. To see the truth? No. It does not pain me, Sorceress. Tell me... Is it not true that it matters not what form, what body, the Demon is in, he still leaves a path of torture, death and destruction in his wake? Did this body stop that?" Astavia gestured to the hourglass. "Turn it over." She commanded her unseen servant. The glass was turned over by invisible hands and the sands within the glass began to run.

"Or are you speaking about the archer, whose body Maledict occupies now? Does that pain me? No, Sorceress. It does not. That archer, became what he was to fight for a cause he believed in. By taking on the position, he made a vow to lay down his life for that cause. Do I grieve that he was true to his vow? No. It would be an insult to his pride and his honor. He lived and will die by his code. It does not pain me, Sorceress. I am proud of him. That Maledict took his body is but his fate."

"Maledict. In his other form, he found ways to exhibit his horror. It is what he is. It pleases him to have people cringe and cower in the abominition that is him. It is his power over the weak. It will never cease, no matter what form his essence takes, until that essence ceases to exist."

"So does it pain me? Again, I repeat, no."

"Does it sadden me? Does it repel me? Does it anger me? Those are the questions you should have asked. To have Maledict in his true form, is to be able to find a more permanent way to end his evil."

Astavia pulled her staff from where she had implanted it into the sands. "As to why you would want to sit and talk with me?"

"You wouldn't, and you don't. Should you? It would be wise."

She pointed the rod, which Lord Tarrant had given her towards Lyssia and her 'boys'. One word was all she spoke. "Grod." It was said flatly, with no joy, no sorrow.

Instantly Lyssia's horse and the 'boys' began to sink into the sands. The desert floor beneath them turned into a quagmire of quicksand causing their footing to be thrown off, every movement sucking them further down.

Astavia turned her back upon them, her intent now to join Lord Tarrant and Zanafien.

"My apologies Zanafien. I know, that had I but asked, you would have come. My thanks also, for returning your raised to whence they came."
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Postby Sverdmund » Mon Nov 10, 2003 1:29 pm

The Anub-Re venerate the demon God as the Drinker of the Bowl. Darden, the clever one, the one who delighted in the beauty of ever-changing life, who despaired of the death and decay of the world around him. That despair was what filled His bowl, forcing him to drink from it.

The Anub-Re believe that sometimes He allows the bowl to overflow, pouring down His divine despair upon the world. They accept such despair as bringing them closer to their God. They view their trials as a divine gift, for it is only through suffering that one can grow stronger.

The Anub-Re believe that sometimes His bowl overflows and pours His divine despair into the heart of a mortal. That divine despair fills a mortal heart past overflowing, past the ability of a mere mortal to comprehend the grief of a God who so loves the world, shattering the sanity of the one who is so touched by the Divine. Touched, too, by His fury that the world must be such as it is.

It is this despair and fury that creates those who become the Sverdmund. They are touched by Darden and it is a cruel blessing.

Unleash the Sverdmund!

The chanting of the priests ceases; the hymn to Darden, the only thing that restrains the fire in the hearts of the sword-handed. They come running, hurling themselves across the sand, through the hole in the lines of the scouts, towards the enemy. The scout archers lauch one final volley into the ranks of the pikemen, ignoring the swordsmen for now, every arrow lofting to fall upon the centre of the enemy battle-line.

The pikemen stagger under the sudden volley of black-fletched death, their formation wavering. They scramble to reform in the face of...

The handful of Anub-Re that throw themselves at the enemy, howling in beserk fury. The Sverdmund are those who have been baptised in His despair, the black misery of His bowl overflowing into their hearts, crushing out their sanity, filling them with firey rage. Normally, they are kept within the temple, cared for by His priests.

Now, though? This is war. Now is the time for His blessing to be unleashed upon the heathens, for the fury of his despair to be fanned into a raging inferno of hatred. They charge towards the pikemen, eyes blazing, lips pulled back over sharp teeth, howling their fury.

The Sverdmund are leather-clad, their bodies protected by light, but tough, leather. Except for their arms.

The charging beserkers carry no weapons. A sword can be dropped, or knocked from a hand, or simply discarded in favour of a clenched fist in the beserk fury of the Sverdmund's attack.

Instead, the weapons are a part of the armour itself.

Their lower arms are protected by carefully-wrought bracers of tempered steel. Extending from the the bracer, reaching out over the back of a hand that hungers to wrap around the soft throat of an enemy soldier, is a razor-sharp swordblade. The body of the Sverdmund has literally been made into a weapon, and one that cannot be disarmed short of severing an arm. No easy task, when that arm is attached to a howling beserker seemingly unaffected by the wounds suffered, who will fight on to the bitter end, ferocity undimmed until the last drops of life's blood are spilled upon the ground and blazing eyes close for the last time.

The Sverdmund close upon the pikemen, who struggle to raise their weapons against the howling, bestial figures from nightmare that close upon them. Wooden shafts splinter and smash as bladed hands lash out, the pikes shaking as they are gripped by trembling hands.

One of the pikemen retains the presence of mind amidst the howling frenzy to raise his pike and brace it as a slavering figure lunges towards him. The shock as the tempered metal head pierces the armour and impales the Anub-Re, almost rips the pike from his hands. The momentum of the beserker's charge drives him right onto the pike, the head errupting from his back in a spray of gore.

The pikeman's grin of triumph is cut short as the burning eyes of the Sverdmund fix upon his. Grasping the haft of the pike in his hands, the beserker hauls himself up the haft, impaling himself more, an ever-increasing length of crimson-streaked wood protruding from his back. The pikeman stands frozen in terror... what manner of being could force itself up the length of a pike without so much as flinching? ... too terrified to even release the pike. And suddenly the Sverdmund is bare feet in front of him. One hand punches out - not a swing, a punch, the blade extending far past the knuckles of the balled fist to give that punch a deadly reach, a lethal kiss as it buries itself in the gut of the man standing to the pikeman's left. The Sverdmund, still howling in rage, still spilling crimson lifeblood to the sands beneath, lunges forward suddenly, smashing into the transfixed pikeman with a savage headbutt. The heathen's head snaps back from the shock of the impact, and the beserker, still skewered on a pike that protrudes twelve feet from his back, still howling in pain and fury, lunges forward to sink his teeth into the exposed neck of the stunned Isonian. So caught up in his rage is the beserker that he continues to tear out the man's throat even as the soldier's friends drop their pikes, grabbing at belted shortswords and begin desperately hacking at the monster.

The formation of the pikemen collapses under the crushing hammer-blow of the sword-handed beserkers. As it crumbles, as the accompanying swordsmen stand and stare in shock, the scouts charge.
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