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cpthero2
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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:13:03  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Prison of the Mind

An Eternal Struggle

25 JUN 2018

The old world has gone, and in its place hell has become eminent. Who knew it would be green? A familiar scene greets me, again. A familiar family, though their names I know not, walks through the fields of my parent’s homeland. Idle chatter about the weather and the scenery floats from their careless lips to my ears – the sentiment is lost there. Can’t they see? Can’t they see their own demise? The blue lines in the sky betray the evil within, and yet they remain oblivious. Am I mad? Here they are, prattling on mindlessly about the day as they set the table for dinner. They act like they know me as an old friend, but I couldn’t say I knew the first thing about any of them. All I know is that the world is about to end. What good would it do to tell them? To ruin their enjoyment prematurely? I could not stop what was coming. These… Things. Coming through the door. Rending, tearing, raping, ripping, clawing, consuming….
I cannot stop their screams. Their anguish.
I cannot stop my own screams.
I cannot think.
I cannot feel.

The old world has gone, and in its place hell has become eminent. Who knew it would be green? A familiar scene greets me, again. A familiar family, though their names I know not, walks through the fields of my parent’s homeland. Idle chatter about the weather and the scenery floats from their careless lips to my ears – the sentiment is lost there. Can’t they see? Can’t they see their own demise? The blue lines in the sky betray the evil within, and yet they remain oblivious. Am I mad? Here they are, prattling on mindlessly about the day as they set the table for dinner… Do they not know? Perhaps I can tell them about their imminent demise, maybe give them a chance to fight back… Too late. The door is gone in a shower of splinters. Nothing can be done to prepare for what is coming… Nothing could have prepared me for what actually came. This new hell seemed to flicker for a moment, as a scrap of grey fabric seemed to tear through the walls of reality itself, missing one of the assailants by a thumb, landing neatly in my arms. Where the fabric had come through, the dim light of a torch-lit cavern. A familiar dark-skinned face greeted me, though it was struck with a look of horror. Perhaps it’s the thing in front of me? The nightmare isn’t over yet. But at least now I can fight.







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Edited by - cpthero2 on 11 Dec 2020 20:57:03

cpthero2
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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:15:04  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Hungry Darkness

21 AUG 2018

The Underdark has claimed three more souls in my presence. What a horrific place it is that I seek to cleanse. How many lives have been lost in these foul caverns? My father’s. The victims of the cultists. Ayda. Weshtek. Rakor.

The elf perished needlessly, a victim of her own haste, though her scream yet echoes through my mind. I chose to walk these halls on my own to prevent any more needless death, and how quickly she rushed to hers was shocking to say the least. Seeing her battered corpse stand before me at my behest was almost as shocking, however. The voice…? Whatever I had heard – the push perhaps… It was the same calling which led me to my power before. To think that it has enabled me to raise the dead for however short a time is astonishing. I must use it carefully, for I do not want to be associated with the vile practitioners of necromancy, even amongst my newfound allies. I cannot be sure that they will not condemn me.

In my dumbfounded state, of course, that tentacle-faced bastard was able to rob me. I would have loved to seen the look on his slimy face as Danjo cleaved him apart. As for that worm-spawn… His head shall be mine in time, with the head of every other abomination in this hellish pit. My goal is still the same, and I will see to the deaths of every foul creature in this inky abyss. This is the desire that drove me to seek my belongings, and which led to the deaths of two more comrades. p.

Having glanced through Weshtek’s belongings, it surprises me at how quickly he fell to the effects of the Illithid. As if the gods themselves willed it, he seized and fell into oblivion. what a capable man, to be lost to a single spell. It pains me to lose such an ally, and I cannot help but feel at least partially responsible for his demise. He was wise to mistrust the dangers present at these depths, though it was his own initiative that he followed. Were it solely his death that had followed my desire for retribution , I would have no remorse.

Rakor, the enigma he was, may he rest easily. It seemed foolish of him, to rush headlong into that fire, towards that hulking death machine. I cannot begin to fathom his reasons for doing so; such recklessness only produces death. I would like to think he believed he was protecting us, and for that, I thank him, and hope that his spirit passes on easily. Learning his story from his spear was not easy, but he was a fine enough craftsman as to make most of it clear enough to decipher. He was a fine soul, longing not only for a better life, but to be a better person. It is not right that such a life had to end so brutishly, and were I able to recover him from whatever demonic binding he had entered into, I would. Perhaps in helping with the completion of the contract, I can do just that.

We shall see.








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cpthero2
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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:17:08  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
An Unlikely Ally

13 SEP 2018

Today we set upon the basilisk’s realm, to search their depths further than my newfound comrades had previously reported going. Ordinarily, it is the sort of place one would circumnavigate, but my allies had confidence that they could keep us from harm.

Within the cavern we found several very lifelike statues. As it turns out, they were petrified victims of the Basilisk… All except for the one we decided to use a scroll on. Previously, my allies had acquired a scroll capable of reversing this petrification, and today they decided to use it on one of the statues – a dwarf.

As it turns out, the dwarf, (Tjordiir) had no recollection of basilisk, or even being in the caves. He seems completely reserved, only saying as much as is needed, and asking very little. I am somewhat wary of his demeanor, but his negative analysis of my ability to animate the dead makes me suspect that he has a good heart. I feel as if he may be a useful addition to the group

Deeper in the Basilisk’s realm, I encountered two threats. One, a rock slide which I should have been wary of, I only escaped by a hair. I recall flashing back to a book on martial arts training which involved moving quickly through rough terrain. Proper foot placement and a well timed roll brought me from the precipice of what surely was a lethal fall. The second danger was a bizarre series of holes in the walls. Hairy, spiny eels, longer than I am tall, came bursting out when we attempted to cross a small corridor. I had spent almost a minute examining the orifices, but it was only when I was deeper into their midst was I attacked. Great caution will be taken around these types of holes from now on – those bastards bite hard. Danjo was nearly killed – my wand did little to mend the craters in his flesh. Luckily we have Sahil…

Strangest of all, it seems we have stumbled upon some sort of Altar to Torm. Danjo was able to enter, even after my clumsy attempt at solving the statue’s riddles. I only wonder what lies inside…. I hope it’s the Onyx. I’ve been in this darkness for too long now. Too deep in these caves. I’ve had my revenge. My father is dead, but so is the beast that killed him, and countless others. I feel driven by some mysterious force, but to what end? Perhaps I can help my new comrades, but what then?

I want to rest…

I want to forget this suffering…

I want to go home.








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cpthero2
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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:19:52  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A New Order

16 NOV 2018

The voice is gone.

In it’s stead, a new order has been planted. A newly cast foundation has rooted my soul to this plane. From whence my being was uprooted, I am still unsure. The most evil of books which my comrade Shino had possessed, and which we sought to destroy, was the catalyst for this shift. The immense power within the pages of that foul script drew me in, and within this immaterial place I found myself facing my father. Facing judgement. Facing my inner self. I felt my very existence being wisped away little by little, and it was only by understanding what was being asked of me did I find my salvation. To weigh my soul against the darkness within, and to cut ties with the very thing that led me to my power.

The desire for Retribution. Nay, the more personal, unguided lust for revenge. Perhaps this is what brought upon the voice? It seems to have “spoken” to me little since I found purpose with my new comrades.

The inky cloud which was weighing on the wrong side of the scale, an unfathomable blackness pouring from the abyss, could have been many things, and I cannot be sure which it was. I still have my arcane powers, so I believe what it was that I sacrificed was something that I had unknowingly been a party to. Perhaps when I meet Tyr, I can ask him.

-Chand









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cpthero2
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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:22:07  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
With Grim Determination

22 DEC 2018

The last few days have been strange, to say the least

It seems only yesterday that I was inducted into the order of Tyr, finding a new balance and order within myself. Time loses meaning down here, the isolation and darkness abstract every notion of night and day. Yet here we are, less than a month away from our day of reckoning, every moment of time lost bringing us closer to our supposed demise.

The astrolabe was a fantastic piece of magic. I could have gotten lost in watching its pieces move forever. When we found the bookshelf, I couldn’t contain my curiosity. Never did I expect to become bound in this awful contract, but what we found may very well have been worth it. What was most curious about the books, however, was Tjordiir’s soothsaying. A premonition of an explosion, and of half of us dead. Of course, the books were magically guarded! In my haste I had overlooked the idea and nearly squandered the chance to check them. It was powerful magic as well, only one of every ten dispel attempts succeeded. I shudder to imagine what the dwarf may have seen. Perhaps this was divine intervention. I may never know…

If my comrades suppositions are to be acknowledged, I would have to say that this Zakthalakut fellow has most dastardly planted these poor petrified souls. Their purpose – to meet their demise and take us with them. We’ve found his very plans, guarded by a horrific demon. One who consorts with such beings is surely sadistic enough to devise such a trap.

The fact that we have found the plans of Zakthalakut, the man who seems to be behind the trade halt, is of extreme importance. The sooner Epaphus can read through the entirety of the plan and find a way to thwart them, the better. If only I had a way to tell the outside world… Perhaps I can develop the ability, though I am not sure yet how my powers come to me in the first place. I only pray they will serve to keep me and my allies alive long enough to prevent total disaster.

Less than a month. My allies seem bent on finding the Onyx before then… I could probably hasten the search, but I am terrified of the outcome. I don’t fear death, but I don’t wish to die. I know that giving a devil what he wants will surely end poorly, not only for myself, but for everyone I know. They can use the Onyx to come here, naturally. Surely they will kill us, who stand for the Triad. and when they escape these tunnels, our clerics will not be able banish them, and our warriors will fall before them. They are simply too powerful. I cannot let my allies find the Onyx. It is better that all of our souls should be condemned to the underworld, than to let the souls of the Infernal and Abyssal planes walk this one.

I feel that we must try relentlessly to reach the outside world and tell them of the impending danger. Tell them of the rogue agents. Tell them everything. I do not expect to make it out of the Underdark alive, but it is with grim determination that I defy these evils.

Chand Breckens








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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:24:14  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Reckless Prisoner

25 JAN 2019

“See how the walls sparkle in torchlight, Chand? See how the lines lay in the wall? There are minerals in the stone and water above us, and their story is told here. You can learn as much from the cracks and crevices of this stone as from any book, you need only know the tells.”

A faint tickle awoke Chand. He lay comfortably in his new armor, wrapped in his bedroll on the floor of a cave, hundreds of feet beneath the surface world. The familiar darkness was soon ebbed as Chand focused, evoking the eldritch powers granted to him and shifting his eyesight to allow him to see. It had been a quiet night, and as he began to recall his father’s words, he felt a tingle on his neck. His hand quickly moved up and grabbed the source of the nuisance. A quick glance at the curled legs in his hand told him he had crushed a small spider. A nittleback, as his father had called them. They were known to reside near warmer pockets of cavern with standing water, feeding on the minute denizens of the cave ponds. It was a harmless creature to anything bigger than itself, but its presence usually indicated hot pockets of gas in the nearby caverns which kept the area warmer than average. Often, larger creatures would also inhabit these areas, as they offered more comfortable residence and plentiful resources, but the risk of encountering these creatures often paid off, as the channels of gas usually were often lined with precious minerals and sometimes gems.

Having rested plenty, Chand gathered his belongings and pressed on. He had suspected, given the mineral rings he had found the day before on a dried pond, that there was a decent source of Chalcocite nearby, a rich copper ore that the dwarves were currently seeking. It had been a year since he last entered the caves of the mountains south of Ormpe, and found the curious locket whose call had led him to the Umberhulk. A year since he tried finding the emeralds which had been the demise of Drogo. His search now drew him into a nearby cave system, and the proximity of those gems was all too alluring. He had found no evidence yet of their presence, but hoped that the copper vein might somehow be connected. He was happy enough to take the pay for the ore by itself, but still he wondered at the untold wealth the Emeralds might bring.

The caves were barren as he traveled along, save for the occasional patches of luminescent lichen. That there was water nearby was a good sign; Chand followed a path which saw the uptick of the moss’ presence. He soon found himself at the mouth of a larger cavern, and at the limits of his vision he could see the shimmer of water. He moved forward quietly towards the pool along the wall, staying alert for any signs of life. The air was warmer here, and moisture accumulated on the walls. He focused for a moment on the wall, seeing the telltale discoloration of stone that indicated the presence of Chalcocite, and as he looked towards the ceiling, a small shuffling noise drew his focus. It was barely audible, but it was enough to make him freeze in his tracks and look around wildly. At the edge of his vision, along the edge of the water, he saw a humanoid figure slinking towards him. The figure paused for a moment, then began rushing forward, bellowing in a guttural language that Chand could not make sense of. Chand quickly summoned up the wild arcane energy within him, releasing it quickly towards the approaching target. As he saw his attack make contact, he quickly turned and began sprinting back the way he came. Even in his panicked state, he quickly became aware of multiple footsteps approaching from all sides, and as he neared the entrance to the cavern, he felt something wrap around his ankle.

His head hit the ground, a resounding thwap cascaded throughout the chamber. He quickly rolled, vision nearly starred over, only to see the hideous features of a half-orc face standing over him. A symbol lay upon the robed chest of the brute, one that Chand recognized as a symbol of Orkus. He had never expected to see members of such an evil cult in these parts, and immediately felt a push to destroy the foul beings. From the ground he summoned up the energy for another attack, but before he could release it, the figure over him brought a club down onto his head, and all went black.

_Misery. Desolation. Pain. So much pain… _ These hazy sensations drifted in and out of the blackness that Chand now saw. What is happening?

Chand awoke to blackness. Disjointed tortured screams echoing around the darkness told him that what he had just experienced was in fact real. He felt his hands bound together by some hard object, and quickly realized he was unable to summon forth any of his abilities. He could not shatter his bindings, or even see what was binding him. He heard whimpers of nearby humanoids, and distant screams, but little else. Nearly a week passed this way, each day he would hear a metal door opening, shuffling, and screams as his cellmates were dragged out and tortured. The pervasive sickly sweet smell of death and rot became all he knew, and he wondered if he would soon meet the same fate as the others.

This was not to be his fate, however. A magical light brought into view the recognizable features of fairer folk, and illuminated his horrid surroundings. These newcomers, he assumed by the noises of battle he heard before, had defeated his captors. There was one half orc, though his garb and the holy symbol of Ilmater on his chest quickly affirmed to Chand that they were not the same as the greenskinned brutes which had captured him. His salvation was short lived, however. Upon release, the party agreed to help find his belongings. This search nearly led to the deaths of two of his saviors. Chand vowed to assist them in any way possible, as payment for his rescue, and as thanks for the risks they took on his behalf.

A week at most later, Chand had experienced more brutality and agony than he had in his entire life. He endured what seemed like a hundred lifetimes of endless torture in the chambers of Orkus. He saw the mangled body of a newfound ally, a moon elf, after it had fallen an incredible distance down a pit. His pitiful attempt at using magic to revive her only turned her body to dust in the end – the shame of the failure drove him away from that power quickly. He watched as two members of their party lost their lives, in pursuit of his belongings once again. Where they found some vengeance against the perpetrator, the loss of two good people on his behalf drove Chand further into desperation. All that he had done, he felt, and all that he could do, might never be enough to atone for their loss. He soon found himself bound to an even greater cause, and shortly thereafter, one which he might never be able to reconcile himself with.

Chand devoted himself to Try, after an encounter with an evil book within a temple of the Triad gave him a powerful vision. This new god supplanted his calling, and reinforced his motives with those of a higher calling. He knew not how he kept his powers, not being able to hear the eldritch urge within himself anymore, but he was glad to still have the power to carry out his desires. Shortly thereafter, in a well guarded room not far from the temple, he became bound to the same agreement which his party members had signed. He had only sought information, not thinking of the consequences the knowledge might bring. This contract, to find Onyx ore at the behest of a Devil in service to an Infernal god, contradicted everything Chand stood for. The motive, he learned, was to create a link between this plane and the infernal, through which any number of devils and demons could be called, and walk this plane without fear of banishment. Would the books they found tell of this plot? He only hoped.

Not long after this new binding, Chand found himself plunged once again into the depths of this conspiracy. In a chamber, filled with graves that bubbled with a black liquid, he found himself thrown into a vision after inhaling some of the fumes of the vile concoction. The visions plunged him into the depths of terror that he never knew possible. He saw an indescribable being of eminent chaos, one he quickly came to recognize as Ragnora, who he had learned of when the group had discovered the fantastical Astrolabe. The pure malice exuded by the sight of this comet-like being overwhelmed him, and in fleeting visions he learned of the foul purpose of the bodies, and of the relation to the Onyx. When Chand came back to reality an instant, he recoiled. For a moment, he was stricken by a powerful wave of nausea, but his desire to cleanse this place was stronger. The group happily obliged him upon learning that the bodies of the Tormites were being used as some sort of power source. Though Chand was unsure of the specifics, he knew that they must do anything in their power to stop at least some part of this evil plot.

Shino used his magics to incinerate the room, though in the process, many of the party was sickened. Being the closest to the source of the evil stench, Shino fell ill more than anyone else, and then never awoke after the subsequent rest at the temple. Chand uttered a silent prayer for Shino before they departed, hoping that they could somehow find a way to the artifact that might cure him. So far, the search for an alternate route had proved unsuccessful. Danjo, Shino’s adopted father, was unsurprisingly distraught. Chand knew the pain of losing family, and hoped he could spare Danjo from the same suffering. To bring justice to the world, to untangle the evil web that they were now caught in, that was his goal. The dark caves felt more claustrophobic and lethal every day that passed, and Chand was unsure that he could be the harbinger of justice that he so sought to be. Will we find a cure? An exit? A way to allay the Infernal forces that binds us here? Please, Tyr. Guide my hands, my mind, and my spirit so that I may be bring balance to this wretched place. In this, your name, I plea.






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cpthero2
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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:26:37  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Serene Oblivion

24 FEB 2019

Adrift
Staring at the illusion of sky

I lay amidst a field of freygrass.

Silent wind whipped tendrils of plant against my face and yet,
Against my calm
Their assault was but a whisper.

Innumerable times their battles made
No progress for their march
Yet they drove away their mark.
Orating their victory in hisses
Undulating as I stood and
Readied myself for what came next.

Luiren, her hills lush in the season,
In her bosom tucked a cosy abode,
Go there or not, the result always was
Hatred
Torment

Inescapable

But my fate was not bound
Unto these fields which I was strewn.
Returning each time to the same hell,
Nearing oblivion but never reaching
Escape
Death

Alas the spell was broken, though
Not distinguishing momentarily what existed
Disillusioned by the torment was I.
What bound me held a vestigial bond,
Antagonizing the subconscious.
Still I was saved by those folk of the Triad

Here within these caverns have I found faith
Egregious as the circumstances are
Against oblivion I have found the will to press on
Light can yet be found
Even in this, the darkest of
Darkness.

In these people I have put my faith. From our Gods I weave the basket in which I rest my eggs. From the reaping I have led them, and from the scythe I was spared in turn. My trust is with you all.








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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:29:01  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Regression

13 MAR 2019

People close to me in Ormpe have often asked me why I continue to search the caves my father died in. What brings me back to the place which should otherwise have driven me away? I told them it’s all I knew. That the gold is nice. That I hoped to make my father proud, wherever he may be watching from.

They would never believe the truth. I didn’t care about the money. I sought to destroy that which killed my father, and bring that righteous vengeance down upon all the other evils in the Underdark.

Most of the closest people to me in the town knew of my failure in learning magic. I understood the workings of the arcane, but was never able to cast spells. How I became able to do so suddenly, surely would become an object of suspicion. I told them that I’m good at hiding, covering my tracks, and escaping serious threats. I never put my life in serious danger. Only part of that was true. My newfound ability to continuously conjure up magical effects has enabled me to pick fights where otherwise I would have likely perished, but I have thrust myself into peril more times than I can count, often barely managing to defeat my target.

Therein lies my deception. For my belief in a greater good, I have lied to those close to me. I cannot deny this.

My most recent delve has delivered me to death’s door many times, only to see me saved and delivered to a more benevolent force. Tyr, in his judgement, has deemed me worthy of joining his following. My goal of justice aligned with his, though my scope was narrower before I was inducted into his ranks. Through him, I pray that my decisions be guided with temperance and resolve, and it is this most recent decision that I hope can be justified.

It is with great contempt that I agreed to a Geas. A most derisible wraith has laid for us a clever trap, and in our folly we have fallen straight into his plans. Where I had assumed Torm and the Red Knight’s followers were responsible for this chamber, it turns out to have been the works of a yet unnamed wraith. In the agreement that he not impede our plans to stop Ragnora and the obelisk’s portal from opening, we are to be magically obligated to do the same for his ends – to become the new God of deceit.

While I cannot say that I believe his goal is truly atrocious, I can only wonder if my decisions are truly the best course of action. I opposed him at first, but after a moment of deliberation, I begrudgingly accepted his demands. I am sure that his very existence contradicts the dogma of Tyr, for to deceive is to deny justice. However, as I’ve noted, deception can be utilized for the greater good. Whilst aiding the ascension of a god of Lies directly belies the ethos of Tyr, through this action I believe I may actually be able to save the world from annihilation.

If that is not justice, I’m not sure what is.








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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:31:02  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Greater Good?

31 MAY 2019

SHINO SEGARE! SHIIINOOO

The screams rang in Chand’s ears as he re-entered the ritual chamber. Had he not been stunned by the dimensional magics, surely the viscera and the tortured screams of the aging Wanese man would have had the same effect. Shino’s form was barely visible, surrounded by maimed and dismembered corpses. His skin was colorless, save the copious amounts of blood he was drenched in. Danjo was swinging furiously at the last few zombies, his silver and cold iron blade felling each of the headless abominations with glorious precision. An eternal six seconds, and two zombies later, Chand finally recovered. He summoned forth that strange power once more, and sent a stream of acid towards the last of the sorceress’ creations. Danjo looked as it fell, looked towards the source of the blast, and his face contorted into something Chand could only describe as solemn fury.

“Get Sahil in here NOW!” Danjo spat. Chand didn’t hesitate. With a thought, he returned to the others, and ushered them back to Shino’s lifeless body. Chand stood off to the side, staring in shock as Sahil began chanting his words of healing. “It was only twelve seconds… How did this happen so fast…? It was only twelve seconds at most…” He was supposed to come back and grab the others before anything catastrophic happened. The group had dispatched two of the same creatures in the hallway, their feeble attempts at prevent passage was pitiable at best. Even twelve should not have been able to best these two so quickly. Had the negative energy affected them so strongly?

A cascade of thoughts whipped through the halfling’s mind in that moment. Had he acted too rashly? In that moment when he saw the glowing heads of the zombies and recalled the magics they were invoking, he had moved before he had a chance to think. A restricted tome at the academy in Heldapan had briefly described the dangers of negative energy, and the speed at which it could annihilate lesser mortals. This inflammatory description had perhaps instilled in Chand’s psyche a subconscious fear. Perhaps he had acted selfishly, not wanting to perish in the Necromantic blast. Perhaps he had underestimated the strength of his comrades in that moment. The weight of these uncertainties stretched Sahil’s chants into another week. It was only a moment before Shino regained consciousness, color, and vigor, but in that moment, Chand’s heart was settling into the furthest reaches of the abyss.

He had moved without thinking, and Shino was scarred for it. The group was set back another day as the party once more had to rest. They had to find the Tomb of Abastor, and Chand, while acting in what he felt was the best interest to complete that goal, had only delayed it. Had he acted selfishly? Even he didn’t know the truth was.

Then again, what truths were there to be had in this place?








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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:33:18  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A Doe In A Bears Den

14 JUN 2019

We stumble around these caverns like a lost deer. At every turn we announce our presence, as if there is nothing to be afraid of. This is not what my father taught me.

My intuition was right. We had wasted time running around the sorceress’s lair, nearly getting Shino killed in the process. Another long rest later, and we dove into the caverns which I had suspected led to the frog-folks den. We found what we were looking for, but at what expense? The crystals preceding the frogs lair might be numerous and potentially valuable, but even the Mining chakra in Ormpe wouldn’t dare come close to the seething mass of hatred that dwells near.

We secured the stairway for a hasty retreat, and a retreat we should have made. There was no planning involved, and that nearly was the death of me. We rushed into the arms of the axe-wielding undead without a second thought. Pay no mind to the swarms of the humanoid things that were running around the tunnels. Forget that we announced our presence at every step, this way was our best option. What tools I have at my disposal are useless against the outright inclination of my party to rush into the next fire.

When that beast summoned forth that vortex of blood, I knew in an instant we should leave. They were compelled though, it seems, to best that creature. I was overcome with the opposite compulsion. The terror I felt at the sight of the blood, of the rotting dwarf-like thing that was taking bites out of my comrades like a swine at supper was akin to that which I had felt staring into the beady eyes of the umberhulk. So I fled, away from the vortex, past Sahil’s conjured wall of ice, and into the arms of the Sathar. Scores of greedy eyes fell upon me as I was locked in place by my magical retreat. As I was frozen in place, dreading the sharpened smiles of these demonic frogmen, I blinked. In that second, I was deafened, and then I knew nothing.

I drifted in a dark place for a year? A day? Moments? There was no concept time, but for the briefest of moments before I snapped back to the darkness of the caves I felt a light presence. There was no voice, no sound, but I felt as if I was being told something important. I was being given a mission of sorts. Perhaps I was being told I had to return to my mission. It’s all a bit unclear, perhaps the waning terror was rebounding into a new determination. I awoke, vigorous, and saw the faces of my comrades. No time to explain how I almost died, or where the undead thing had gone, they rushed back to the tunnel where we had fled before. A touching charade. They are worried about our lives? As if travelling in a group is always the best option. Forget scouting. Let’s just send the whole damn mining team to their death instead of the trained professional that can avoid danger. What’s twenty lives? A million? What’s our mission again? Who is going to replace us if we fail? We need to start thinking about these things.

What a farce. Let’s see these timid ****ing frogs do something. We just killed something bigger than them. I screamed into the now empty tunnels and found no response. My party called me over, looking at me as if I were a lap dog barking through a nobleman’s fence. “We need to prepare, something is coming! Hurry!” Preparations indeed. I think we’re the least prepared people in this ****ing abyss. I almost died because of our collective inability to formulate even the most basic of plans. Who is leading us? Ilmater? Torm? Tyr? I sure haven’t heard much from them lately, and a fat lot of good they did Rakor. Our lives our in our own hands now.

In spite of my misgivings I returned to them. Shino saw fit to place a wall of fire behind me. Yes, protection, just what we need. A good start I suppose. He never expected me to copy his spell, as if it did any good against what was to come. Conjuring up this much fire is almost trivial once you have seen it enough times. Seeing it melting the face of your comrade, seeing it sweeping some incidental inconvenience away from a stairway. It’s all basically the same. A one step-plan with no contingencies. Just burn our problems away. That slaad? Whoops. What do we do now. Uh. Let’s turn invisible. Surely that will save us from this planar being who swept away our spells as if they were dust on a tome. Pathetic. I’m tired of losing. I’m tired of being conscripted by every new being with a bigger spell-dick than me. I might be short, weak, and shortlived, but I’m going to fight back. I’m going to plan. I won’t give up until the Underdark is empty, and I am free of these contracts… All of these beasts will burn. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA










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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:35:34  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Timid Reflection

23 JUN 2019

The Sathar were kind enough to show us the way to the illusionary wall. How that Slaad was unable to pass through, beats me. I suppose the Triad had some hand in protecting this place, and so shall we do our utmost to protect the contents of the tomb we shall soon discover, I imagine. There is no chance in hell I’m letting that swollen lump of extra-planar frog-****ing trash have the body of Abastor. My plan? Cut him off from his subordinates, dispel whatever magics he may have, and watch as the old man removes that Slaad’s limbs while I boil its wounds in acid. We’ll see.

Sahil, in his great wisdom, managed to discover some striations in the floor with his water conjuration spells. Seeing that the marks didn’t connect in any reasonable way to the wall, it was quite apparent what lay before us was an illusion. He walked through the wall, and his pulped body returned moments later. I almost laughed aloud. It was dreadfully realistic, but then so was the wall. I didn’t even take a moment to examine the body, there was just no doubt in my mind it was a fake. Sahil was on the other side, and as I rushed through to join him, I called out to the rest of the group “It’s just like last time!” and phased through. There Sahil was, as I expected, with the wall behind us. However, several minutes passed, and it became apparent that our comrades didn’t get the message. Sahil conjured up some more water, and used it as a divinatory lense as I had seen countless times at the Academy.

I stared at the scrying pool Sahil had made in disbelief. He informed me that the party was considering fighting the Sathar and the grey Slaad. They were seriously fooled by the same trick we had all witnessed before. Perhaps the illusion was not as powerful before, but to be dissuaded by your senses when you are fully aware that there are powerful illusionary magics afoot? Foolish. Perhaps it is only because I survived that I can say my choice to rush in was the best option, but the ruse was simple. I had heard the tortured screams of my companions before in the last illusion. What did the Leirans expect to achieve by upping the ante?

Apparently the bluff was almost too hard to call for the simpler among us. Nearly ten minutes later they gathered up the stones to make their way through the wall. They were clearly shaken by having seen mine and Sahil’s bodies, but that they did not see it for what it was sooner (with my own advice no less!), I almost pity them. I will do my best to hold their hands as they stumble through understanding whatever illusions there are to come. We need to move as one, and be secure in our decisions as a group. Every one of those men, short-sighted though they may be, are invaluable to our mission. Hell, I could almost call them friends.

Let’s see how they handle the next wall.











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For the Seven Perils

22 AUG 2019

Fire, the first true pain I have felt in this world. A curious hand straying towards a dancing light until – OUCH! The pain subsides and the lesson has been learned. This curious force; a consuming fury, a warm embrace. Such a tool to be learned and built upon – it is the foundation upon which all of society is dependent, and a foundation we have mastered. The first hurdle, passed.

Acid, the regret of an overly revelrous night, or the vengeful bite of a dubious meal. One such night found me too poorly to perform for a maiden in Luiren. This vile spirit must escape for one to be in balance again. From my own hands has this caustic fluid been conjured at a whim, to my enemies regret. Many times I have tasted this acrid flavour, and as many times has the sickness passed.

Electricity, the anger of the clouds above us, a tempestuous spirit which strikes at whim wherever it seems to desire. The wizened Evokers in Heldapan could send forth such a spirit, and the tallest chapels in the city held rods which could channel the natural strikes to the ground. So assuredly this element can be controlled, and so I am sure this storm shall be passed.

Poison, the fell taste of a scorned lover’s final kiss, the final bite of an assassin’s dart. The shaman, Sahil, has tasted this spiteful bitter in the chambers of the cultists of Orcus. From his deathbed he was returned. Rodents in these very cave I have found dead, desperate for food they nibbled on a Cyric’s Cap or a Naughtgud. Words from my father have taught me to pass by these perils without foraging, and so too shall this peril be passed.

Stone, that tomb which encloses us, whose lid we seek to pry. That unending field of grey above and below us, whose secrets are too, innumerable. Enclosed we may be, many secrets we have pried forth from the grasping brittle fingers around us. Were life to return to the way it was, I might be a king for the fortunes I have uncovered in these past weeks. For the peril of the next hurdle, however, I fear this is a wall which should not have been passed.

Insanity. A wall of glass which knows no friction, which even my spells cannot allow me to climb. Downwards I slide and find myself cut. Blood blossoms beautifully, sanguine sorrow sliding so serenely with wails walling my mortified mind most morbidly into its skeletal prison. Flesh now surrounds, envelops, encroaches upon the PERFECTION which I seek, I need, I HUNGER for. A flimsy skin suit separates my bones from their eternal silent dance, the dance with no movement. MOVEMENT. Another SKIN suit, nay, SEVERAL, dance around me. Sickening is their flesh, MOVING WRITHING flesh which for me needs to be FREED FROM THEIR still ACHING BONES and SO I shall carve it FREE so THAT it may DANCE WITH ME. anoTHER TR_e_H EHA EH ANOTHER HIT and THE BONES bones * _BONENS_* BONES are still TRAPPED beneath THAT HIDEOUS ****ING BEARD AND FLESH so fresh and THAT ULTIMATE fre HE he EEDOM FREEdom FROM this DARKNESS I gnaw so hungry but the FLESH is endless WALLS so NU MEMEM NUMEROUS NO WAY PAST but

Destruction





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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:39:58  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To Grasp the Beating Heart of Toril

The Allure of Power

06 SEP 2019

Sahil, the saint he is, released me from the torment of my own mind. For a moment, it was all I could do not to vomit. Predilections to do unspeakable things to… flesh… faded, as did the mangling of the skin on my hands. A blessing indeed that I have such capable allies; were I trapped in that state of mind, it is doubtless that the remainder of my life would have been brief.
Once the haze lifted, my focus shifted to the task at hand. We are to seek the earthblood, and succeed where Abastor has failed. The cryptic message, the vague objective… Were I only able to learn more from those scholars in Heldapan whose sight could pierce the mysteries of the present and future, life might be tolerable. Alas the means are before us, but the ends elude our grasp. Here now, past the spectacularly colored wall which nearly took my life, I will grasp at whatever I can to reclaim whatever control I can wrestle from this perilous place.

Once more, I attempt to sever the puppeteers ever-present strings. The blasted tattoo on my arm, I have focused intently on before. No luck removing it then, but I have learned some things about the weave which I was not aware of before. This supposed contract devil, who I never even had the pleasure of meeting, somehow roped me into the same accursed contract as the ones who rescued me were. If only I could devise a spell to sign my name in his blood, he would be a husk in half a ten-day and I’d be well known across Durpar.

No such luck, though. My best laid plans went awry; the tattoo was trapped of course. Some convoluted mass of legs and pincers and chitin stands before me, and in moments I am covered in insects. Crawling, biting, stinging, and swarming, they make short work of my skin. I manage to incinerate some, though it is a drop of water in Sahil’s divine supply. I’m not sure what happened next, but I awoke to Sahil’s face, again. I owe this man my life, though I feel as if he’d never ask for even a copper. I need to find a proper way to thank him when we escape these caverns.

Stupid lesson learned. We press on. In moments it seems apparent we’ve found our goal. The cave before us glows with the intensity of the Sun, nay, brighter, when looked at through the lens of the weave. The sense of energy in this cavern is so overwhelming… Upon seeing my reaction, Shino dared to stick a finger into the liquid which lay before us. When we pulled him out of the trance which he seemed to have entered, it was apparent that no harm had been done to his person, and that he had been granted some extraordinary relationship to the weave which he was uncertain in explaining. No doubt, this viscous, glowing fluid holds some immense power. There was a long moment of silent deliberation, and then vocal. Epaphus used a magical hand to lower the vials of living stone into the Earthblood – for it certainly is that blood which we sought – and distributed the filled containers.

I can’t say what compelled me to drink it. The sense of hopelessness? The desire to bring my life back into my control, and perhaps more? The container seemed to call my name, to pull my own essence into itself. It is an ancient tome of godly secrets, waiting to enlighten or rend senseless. I might die, sure, but I might too have died at the hands of a filthy Orkus cultist. This at least is at my own behest. Shino had met no harm in touching it; perhaps I could gain something greater by ingesting it.

If drinking warm mud could be pleasant, that would be the best way to describe the sensation. The viscous fluid didn’t burn as I put the vial to my lips and drew. What followed was almost a sensation of… hardening. It was as if my body was being infused with stone, though I wasn’t feeling at all petrified. I feel stronger, denser. By the looks in my allies eyes, it is obvious they can see changes. Flexing my arm muscles, I see what they do. There is truly power in this liquid. If it is the blood of Chauntea, then I must thank her for blessing me with this newfound strength.

As could only be expected, one by one each of my allies imbibed or made physical contact with this Earthblood. So quickly upon seeing me unhurt… improved even, they all took on the same mantle. Whether or not my success was a fluke, they cared not. Tjordiir was nearly overwhelmed by the changes wrought upon him, but he came out of the pool looking like he had been lifting thousand pound boulders since birth. Whether it was faith or desperation which led the rest of them to drink, I don’t know. I’m not sure I can tell the difference between the two anymore.

All I know is, we can’t let the Slaad get his grubby nubbins on this stuff. This power is ours.







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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:42:03  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My Obsession

04 OCT 2019

The pact I have forged, the pact which I am to tear down the evils of the underdark with, the pact which has been reforged in these very caverns… It can do nothing against the tremendous evil before me. Thus, I must supplement my abilities with items of great power. I have tried in vain to use the crystal rod given to us by the beast with the body of a lion and the head of a man. No luck has come of my attempts, until now – though it is luck in the form of a magical blade which brought me to that point.

Clever magics allowed us egress from the lower chambers which held the earthblood. Though magic could not pierce the shaft from which we came down, a ladder of stone could be grown through it. Upon exiting, we were left with a dilemma. Where to go, now that the earthblood is in our hands? In our attempts to avoid the slaad who very much wished to have the earthblood in his possession, we scoured the area behind the illusory walls for clues. We were drawn to the crude statue of Sathoga, and I was bid to destroy it. Clever we were no more. The end of the cavern began to collapse, and then the entire chamber began to shake violently. We hastened to the illusory wall, preparing to fight the slaad as we made our escape. We would find a new path, perhaps.

As we approached the wall, our new plans began to collapse as well. From the other side of the wall, I could hear a chorus of chanting voices. They were definitely not sathari voices… But who could they – A dwarf, clad in gold and greatly injured interrupted my last thought as he burst through the illusory wall, clutching his chest as if to keep the life from draining away from himself. Fervently he bid us to be quiet as Sahil rushed to heal him. More dwarves rushed into the room beyond the illusory wall with the sounds of combat, many falling to a yet unseen foe.

Oh how I wish it had remained unseen.

A bead of burning sweat tore down my forehead as the Lord of the Nine Hells tore down my composure. Striding into the room as a lord might his throne room, he dispatched the dying Gold dwarves in the room. Someone whispered his name, and what little control I had of my panic almost fled.

“The rod. The crystal rod. Give it to me Sahil!” The power of that rod had to be of use. I had tried so many times before to make use of it, perhaps my obsession would pay off.

“This has to be an illusion. He can’t be here. This rod was made to destroy illusion. This has to be what it’s for…” My thoughts grew fervent and Sahil did not respond, his attention on the dwarf. Something had to be done, and soon.

Epaphus began chanting one of his battle songs, and the Prince of hell almost seemed to notice him. Someone bid him stop, I don’t know who. I was transfixed by the immortal before me. One of the greatest evils I have ever seen, and I knew I could do nothing against him.

The Gold dwarf’s life fled soon after we did. In Abasthor’s tomb we stripped his belongings as he bid, finding amongst them a curiously inscribed blade. Tjordiir’s eyes lit up. He explained quickly that it was able to grant a single wish. After brief deliberation, it was decided that we would use it to transport ourselves to the Astrolabe of the Cosmos. That plan was quickly dashed be the devil whose contract I thought had been bought out by the shade’s. A quick reword, and we were standing in front of a mass of black, shiny stone. The Onyx. The obelisk. We had no choice but to go here. To fulfill our contract? Perhaps.

Perhaps Tyr had different plans for us though. There, in the stone, was Abasthor. After all this searching, we had finally found the man we were looking for. Though he seemed sealed away in the obelisk, we quickly spotted a hole in the stone. In a moment, I recognized the shape. How could I forget? The profile was that of the crystal rod – that object of immense power which I had so long been dying to make use of.

My obsession payed off.

We inserted the rod, and Abasthor seemed to reanimate. He asked if we brought the earthblood, and we quickly presented it. He asked if we could each make a sacrifice. Without a doubt, we could. I would do anything to stop the devils and demons who would seek to use this power for evil. Who would bring their spawn into our world through this dark place which I was trying to cleanse. Only the light of the Triad shall shine down here!

We are weaker now, and Abasthor has become dust. What we have achieved, I am not quite sure… But I am sure that we are closer to saving Abaer-Toril, and that is worth every sacrifice I have to make. Asmodeus himself could not pierce this monolith for the power we have brought forth. Abasthor bid us seek the three knuckled hand in the Glacial sea, so it there we shall go.

“Merciful Justice, I have made plain my intentions as thy hammer. Oh Lord of Judgement let me be your instrument of Justice. I have squandered my days with plans of many things. This was not among them, but at this moment I beg only to carry your honor as well as possible. In this your name, Tyr, I plead.”










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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:44:58  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Of Law and Chaos

15 NOV 2019

A solitary Acacia tree stood in front of me. Dead were its limbs, and bleached was its bark. Swathes of sand filled my vision around the tree, an endless waste engulfing what was once a lovely plant. No life in view, no solace from the heat but what little shade the husk cast upon the scorching white sand. Deep in the mirage of the heat, lavender peaks rose from the horizon and claimed their seat in the edge of the sky. Some time passed, perhaps seconds, perhaps eons. From the wind arose a thunderous crack, and the sky darkened.

A trickle of curious fluid crept in from the mountains. The trickle quickly became a deluge. Water flooded in from all sides. The tree sank into the cascade of murky sea, and my vision was overcame with the same affliction. I did not breathe, I only saw the desert swallowed. Some time passed, perhaps seconds, perhaps an eternity. From the depths above me, the sun shone through, and the flood subsided.

Water fled from my view, leaving only scattered pools and rivulets. Where the tree once stood, now only a twisted, shattered and gnarled stump remained. Wet soil had replaced what was once an endless waste of sand. It was cooler now; not cold, but not harsh. The stump, covered in mud, slowly eroded away until it became the soil which had swallowed it. The soil shifted and churned now, and from every dip and rise in the ground came probing tendrils of green. Life – that which the desert had taken before – came creeping, seeking the love of Sol. With the flora came fauna; small creeping creatures grew large in the vegetation. Some time passed, perhaps days, perhaps centuries. The plants rose above my view and took the sun from my view as the denizens grew with them.

Trees began falling, and creatures were slain before me. The life had brought with it those of the sentient sort. Those who sought to command the world around them subdued what they could, bringing the nature to their heel. From the trees, buildings were constructed. Soil was tilled, and stone was brought to the surface. Immense towers were erected from the sandstone and granite blocks. The earth was pocked with the order of the thinkers. Shapes flitted and flocked about, from structure to structure. They may have been buildings, perhaps entire towns. Towers became grandiose, buildings rose and fell, and rose again. Roads etched their way through the life which had claimed the desert, a life which was subsiding. Moments passed, perhaps it was a lifetime. A lavish courtyard stood before me where the thinkers made their laws beneath the shade of an Acacia.

In a flash, the new order gave way to chaos once again. Fire sprung forth, arrows now darkened the sky where the canopies of tree once had been. Countless screams rose and fell, and the courtyard before me saw ruin. The Acacia was ablaze. The thinkers were gone, where then was law to be made? A withered husk now stands in the center of the courtyard, perhaps as a testament to the balance that once was sought, betrayed by its counterpart. Blocks of stone crumbled away in passing days. Before me stood only rubble, and the husk of an Acacia tree where the thinkers once thought. Ashes and cracked earth came into view through the failing walls of the courtyard. Life was gone again. Seconds passed, perhaps eons. The burned earth blew away in the wind, and left only pure, white sand.

I awoke with a start. The sleeping bodies of my comrades rose and fell in slow, distinct rhythms, their breath in a disjointed chorus with the wind howling past the mostly entrance of the stone hovel. We had huddled for warmth in the night, sheltering from the abysmally cold turnda in the building Shino had crafted with magic. The dream had left me somewhat confused, but I could not ponder on the meaning for too long.

The rest roused shortly after I awoke. Sahil, now rested, took to summoning the giant eagles we had decided on the day before. They were glorious birds, beautiful in the sparkling haze of snow flitting around us. We mounted up and scouted north. We found nothing. The weather cleared, and we landed. Epaphus tried to discern more about the cosmic body we were seeing, but was fruitless in his attempts. I decided to try to contact a geographer in Heldapan with magic, but the response I received was terribly unsettling. It was clear that evil forces had somehow intercepted my message.

Sahil summoned a new set of mounts, and we pressed on in the same direction. When the mounts finally dissipated we had seen nothing new, and it was nearing nightfall. By the alignment of the stars, Sahil was able to navigate our exact location. Fortuitously, we were within teleportation distance, and with the new knowledge of our location, Epaphus was able to suggest a structure we could travel to on the shores of the Great Ice Sea. Winterkeep, to be precise. It had been abandoned, so it offered a potentially excellent safe-house from the weather in this unforgiving north.

Sahil was able to teleport us to the keep. Quick exploration of the location turned out to be disastrous. We had headed to a subterranean basement seeking to shelter for the night, but before we could fortify it, it began collapsing. In our attempt to escape, we must have strayed outside of the range of the amulet. Sahil, having just rescued Tjordiir and Shino, emerged towards us from the ground. No sooner did he break the surface, than an enormous reaper appeared behind him. His life draining quickly, all I could do is act.

“Tyr, grant me the strength to strike down the injustice here in this place, that justice may be seen in all of Abeir-Toril”. The reaper, should it have killed Sahil, would most certainly have sealed a terrible fate for the entire world. Time seemed to slow, and an energy like I have never felt fled from my hands into the body of the shadowy figure stealing my comrade’s life. As quickly as it had appeared, it dissipated into a shadowy mist. Sahil was able to recover himself with magic, but our celebration was premature.

A thunderous crash which reverberated even through the ground shook us. An iron golem stood only a handful of yards away. I must have been drained, as I could not react as promptly as I had before – but there was no reason for me to worry. Tjordiir and Danjo sprang forth, their blades whipping through the air faster than I could see, and as quickly as I had sent the reaper back to it’s hell, they had rendered the Golem a pile of scrap. As they had pounced on the thing and were beating it into a mechanical mulch, yet another being had appeared. A horseman – himself and his mount ablaze – called from a couple hundredfoot away; “I enjoy it when you make the hunt easy”, it taunted. It seemed to raise its hand, I couldn’t tell. Before it was able to react, Shino brought before it a burst of light. Whatever effect it may have had on the horseman I couldn’t say, but it was enough to cause the being to flee.

We aren’t novices anymore, it seems. We’ll bring order to this world. Perhaps one day I’ll return to the underdark and continue clearing the filth from its crevices, but for now, there’s plenty of ass to kick up here.







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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:47:13  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Where Nightmares Walk

13 DEC 2019

We had seen the coming storm. All around us, a maelstrom of unimaginable violence was spinning. Birds of the sea flocked around us, and those who took not to the air sought refuge in the still waters beneath Sahil’s magical refuge. I can only imagine the chaos they experienced when we stepped into the feywilds and our protective barrier vanished from the material plane.

The rest was pleasant. Too pleasant, perhaps. Time to think and time to plan were both as bountiful as the banquet Epaphus and the feywilds had set before us. Complacency sunk in. and as the wisest men say, the best made plans went awry.

We stepped out into the real world from the portal, and hell descended. A fury of which I had never seen from nature tore through to my very core. Our escape to the feywilds was made some forty feet above the waves prior, and now they tore towards our soles at mere away. The air was ripped from my lungs, and my comrades from my reach. Sahil, Tjordiir and Epaphus were thankfully sent in the same direction, and I made haste to regroup with them and not break the zone of protection from scrying which we had harbored in. Shino, it seems, was not so fortunate.

Being not a caster of spatial magics, he had no recourse as he was sent hurling in the opposite direction. I saw only the briefest glimpse of a silhouette racing away from us in the torrential downpour. Mayhaps it was a demon, but I would take that risk for my dear friend. As soon as I felt my magic ready to use again, I fled through space towards him.

Success, though minor, was in my grasp. Shino was at my fingertips, and I grabbed on to him with all the strength I could muster. We were being slid across the air we walked on, further and further away from the rest. I knew not what to do but use the same spell to guide us back towards our comrades. Clutching his arm, I prepared to cast – but it was too late.

A false respite came upon us. The deafening roar of the hateful, furious storm around us ceased. In the sky above, however, was a new death. “Time Devil.” A silent whisper crossed my lips as my heart crossed my waistline. Sinking into the waves would have been preferable to this new unholy thing which had set upon us. We had strayed too far from the amulet, and now surely our end had been met.

Shino may not have known the nature of the beast, but in no time wasted he set upon it a ferocious blaze. The flames of his fire spell licked around the creature and faded, but no harm seemingly came upon the creature. In a desparate bid to weaken this Time Devil, I set upon it magics of my own devising. Surely it had upon itself an array of magicks which enhanced it’s killing ability, which I could dispel, but my spell too seemed to bring the creature no reaction.

Tjordiir and Danjo were already running at it, blades in hand and grim determination set across their faces. Perhaps they too thought that this would be the end. I surely did. As I looked at them, prepared to kill and die, charging towards whatever fate would bring them, the Devil disappeared from my view. I hardly noticed it reappear, but my predilections to the outcome only reinforced. It had emergered behind Sahil. Mayhaps the most powerful among us, losing him would be certain defeat for us all. It prepared to strike.

Danjo saw this, somehow. I don’t think he has any sensitivity to magic as it were, but for whatever guided his blade in the next few moments, I am thankful. The man, set with a grimace on his face, was as fluid as the air he walked on. I hardly kept pace with his movements as he set about and closed the distance to our most valuable comrade Sahil. It was as if there had been a string tied to his blade and pulled him straight to where it needed to be; no obstacle I think could have gotten in the way of his righteous steel. So it was then, that I saw him standing behind where Devil had appeared, blade outstretched. I thought I could almost hear a distant clap of thunder as I beheld the Devil split at his midriff.

The true thunder returned. I managed to close the distance to Shino, but our grasp was weakening. He locked his arms around my waist, clinging to that which could perhaps cleave him from a morbid fate. Fate had other ideas. As my magics waxed and waned, I slowly brought us towards the silhouettes of our comrades, but the waves reached up and tried to bring us towards that grisly end. I was losing sight of the others. We were both disoriented and disheveled, and I feared the grasp of the sea would claim us.

Had I not spotted the forms of the rest of the party, I would have sought refuge in another place. The place where nightmares walk. That realm which paled wizards spoke of in hushed tones. The Shadowfell. There perhaps, we could find our own way to the island, should we be able to fend off the things which lurked there. It was our only hope, and then it wasn’t. Alas, that mass of huddled shadows I spotted through the storms, and to it I tore us. There may be a day where we might seek the darkest path, but it would not be this one.

As we reached the others and clang to them, again the party was almost torn apart, but Sahil fashioned a net with magic which held us together. We locked hands, bitter salt tearing at our flesh, and Sahil escaped us to the place we sought.
The Spire






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Waning Luck

14 DEC 2019

We stood on the beach, ogling the enormous structure arising from the ground. A cold wind blew in from the south, but the terror of the storm was far behind us.

Strange, this thing before us. On such a remote island, in such an inhospitable place, there stands this grand tower which dwarfed any I have ever seen. The others seem to be no more aware of its history, except perhaps Epaphus – though even he is not completely informed.

A gurgling came from the water. I prepared to strike, and a bloated figure rose up from the water. I had not but a moment to think as I loosed a blast of acid at the thing, and then suddenly I felt a searing pain in my entire body. It was as if I was filling with briny water from the inside out. The pain was unimaginable. I could hardly focus as one of the others slew the creature – I think it was Shino. I was losing my grip, and perhaps again I thought I might be left in the hands of our healer Sahil, but I managed to hurl the foul liquid from my body. A light touch of healing magic later, and we were on our way.

We soon found ourselves near a heap of trash. Fresh, by the look of it, though it also seemed as if everything there had been crushed underfoot of a giant. Tjordiir didn’t seem to pay it any mind, and walked straight for the tower. A bell he had found, and without deliberation he rang it.

A short while later, a lift descended and settled on the ground. Looking up, it was unclear where the ropes even ended. We all boarded, and soon began moving upwards. The lift was agonizingly slow, but soon we were totally enshrouded in a misty haze. I didn’t like it – the openness of the air around us left us entirely vulnerable. We discussed for a while though, and decided it was best to stay on the lift approach whoever was waiting at the top in a friendly manner and explain our situation.

The ones who awaited us must not have thought the same thing. After almost an hour of travel on the damn lift, horror befell us. Epaphus, standing near one of the edges, was suddenly struck by a massive stone. The force drove him into the floor of the lift, and in some bizzare stroke of bad luck a piece of the floor twisted and suddenly impaled him. In that moment, I saw all life drain from his face as he slumped over limply. No chance to say a final word, no time for any of us to offer a prayer to him in his final moments – for there was only one moment.

I hadn’t even drawn another breath when a grey blur shot past us, this time from the side. It must have missed its intended target, as it flew straight into the side of the tower with a sickening crunch. A thought flashed in my mind, and I manifested it. A wall to protect us. My mind was blank though, and I couldn’t form the damn thing properly. It would have been better placed above us on the lift to stop more boulders from striking us, but the thing that had come at us, a Margoyle, went tumbling to the ground. In that same moment, Sahil had rushed to our dead comrade and breathed life into him with one of his spells. The rod still in him, I heard Epaphus inhale sharply and then groan in pain. Poor ****er didn’t even get a chance to breathe out though – as another grey blur took him off the edge of the lift.

I rushed to the edge, and only just in time. In the moment I had to place a wall beneath where the Aasimar was falling, I saw a web form between his leg and the wall of the tower. Damn it all happened so fast. I looked up from where Epaphus was to see a woman floating in the air. My attempt to dispel something on her seemed to fail. She remained flying. Epaphus groaned below. Fire arose around the lady, and disappeared with her untouched by its heat. A greater air elemental and three eagles appeared, from whence they came I have no clue. Dark energy came from the woman’s hands, and the eagles were gone again. I couldn’t keep up. A few breaths from seeing Epaphus flung from the ledge, the lady turned to stone and plummeted to the earth.

“YOU ****ERS JUST KILLED MY WIFE!” came a tortured scream from above. As I looked to see where the voice had come from, I saw only a set of shears upon the rope of the lift, and we began falling. Some sort of miracle must have touched us in that moment, as the hands of my allies were suddenly all upon me. I knew what I had to do, and I set us towards the ledge with a spell. Whatever safe side there was to play on, I took, and we found ourselves 20 feet in the air.

A platoon of well armed figures stood below us. Some keen eyed person in the back shouted “they’re above us!” as I tucked for a roll. A few us of remained standing as we struck the floor, having nearly fallen on several men who were now training their weapons on us. Far behind the legion of spearmen, bowmen, and other armed men, there sat a handful of ballistae, and what appeared to be casters floating in the air. ****. They had prepared one hell of an ambush for us. A plea to parley crossed my lips as I stood fully upright, and a few of my allies seconded the motion. No sword had struck us yet. A voice, the same voice which had yelled for his wife over the ledge, bid us drop our weapons. A twisted face spat the words – clearly a distraught husband, but also a man of reason. Thank Tyr for that.

We dropped our arms, though having none I kept my hands in the air as we were commanded to sit by the ledge. The denizens who we had shared the corner of the ledge with retreated behind great shields which blocked our way to the rest of the level. My mind was racing. Could we take this many men? I could place a wall of fire beneath a score of them perhaps… The others of my group began to explain. We were here on behest of Abastor and the Triad to stop the world from being destroyed by Zakthalikut.

Reason flew off the ledge shortly after our weapons. The twisted angry face of the man whose wife Sahil had sent to the ground furled into a frightening smile. His lord was our very enemy; Zakthalikut. He would gladly turn us into undead, or do any other number of horrid things. Wouldn’t that have been nice to know before? That our destination was populated by a small army of addled pink skins? I guess Abastor was no better informed than us. Perhaps I should seek guidance from the Triad more… Epaphus was praying for guidance now in a hushed, strained voice. Perhaps… But this was not the time.

No sooner had this thought crossed my mind, than did I hear words I thought I’d never. “I’m going to go **** what’s left of your wife.” The older of the wanese men shouted this at the man who we were negotiating with, and slid off the ledge he sat on. “Danjo! Noooooo!” Sahil cried as he ran across and looked to where the old tall one had gone. “Let’s join hands and say a prayer before we die as well…”

“WHAT?” I wanted to shout. I wanted to scream at him for giving up. “Before we die as well?! Are you mad?” The words couldn’t come out. I was stunned. What had become of my comrades? Had they lost their damned minds? Shino placed his hands, then turned his to the crowd. A flash of blinding light erupted from far behind the horde. I could understand a fight. A threw up a wall – the same one I had used to catch Epaphus – between us and the crowd. I turned back to look at my allies, and they were gone.

Gone. Without a word, all of them had disappeared. Had the really thought so little of me that they would abandon me? Fled in mortal fear for they saw no other recourse? Had they been compelled to jump as well? I was crushed and confused. I hadn’t even seen Sahil begin casting. A thunderous racket arose from the other side of the wall – screams and clangs and whizzing noises erupted – and then I was engulfed in flames. ****. Might as well jump too then. Calling forth the wings I had learned to conjure before, I leapt from the ledge and dove straight down.

Escape, of course, would not be so easy. I didn’t see any of the others in the air below, so I assumed they must have made for somewhere safe. Perhaps Sahil had taken them below, so as to collect the body of the old Samurai. I could only hope as I fell. A searing pain struck me in the legs and back and a flash of purple light caught in the haze illuminated the air around me. Magic missiles – shit. The casters were hot on my trail. I turned to face them and saw the same three who had floated above the ballistae. I thought for a moment that I could catch them with a wall, as their speed would surely see them with broken bodies upon impact. I conjured it without looking. I wish I had looked.

Explosions shook the air around me as my skin began to scorch. Three distinct bangs. Damn it all! The wall was useless. I was useless. I am useless. Outmatched, and alone. I should just disappear…

So I did. With a thought, I made myself invisible as I had before. I quickly spread my wings to catch my descent and glide towards the tower. The wizards shot past, and the air far below exploded thrice again. I lost sight of them, but then they had lost sight of me. Thinking I was safe, I glided along the side of the tower. I only had a moment to catch my breath before the air around me again became flame.

HOW? HOOOOW?!?! These ****ers were really prepared. I wasn’t. It seems that with all my abilities, all the strength granted to me through my magicks… It’s all useless. My skin shed some of the heat from the blasts, but it wasn’t enough. I dove down, sending myself away with a spell. I had to escape, my body cracking and skin stinging. I have to get to the others… Please let me get there. Let me find them, Tyr.

My body was struck again with three blasts. The illusion didn’t fool the casters. Truly my spells had failed me. The wind now even hurt my flesh as I fell. My mind was ebbing.

Something in me burst forth. I couldn’t give up, I couldn’t die here. I won’t, I can’t! Dammit! A burst of energy overtook me, and I continued diving. I wasn’t dead yet, though it took everything in me to stay awake. The air stung my eyes, my skin, my lungs and my spirit. I blinked, and then all was black.

“It’s not the worst thing, is it?” I opened my eyes to a field of white. Sitting up, I saw a solitary figure across me in the blinding light. “Wh.. What?” I croaked. The figure moved forward, and as my eyes adjusted I saw my face. “The pain of dying, Chand.”

I blinked. Surely not… “I’m… I’m dead?” The words came out barely more than a whisper. Why was I here, looking at myself? This other me stood a few feet away. Though it wore the same clothes as myself, it wore an expression I hadn’t felt on my own face in some time. A smile – one that could only come from a truly content heart.

“Would it be so bad if you were?” the other me said warmly, extending a bloody, bandaged hand. On my other face I saw cuts and scars, open and bleeding. Scorched fingers poked through the red cloth on this doppelganger’s hand. Is this what had become of me? I took the hand. It was surprisingly gentle, but strong as it grasped my own. The white light around us was slowly dimming. “I suppose not, but…” I started as I stood up.

“You’re afraid you didn’t do enough? That you were too weak?” I said. “I am.” I said back, choking, looking down.

“Do you think Rakor had those same regrets, as he met his end in the caves where he saved you?” I looked up at my other self there, stunned. Rakor’s death… It seemed like ages ago. He had died trying to protect everyone else, and I wished I could have given him a proper thanks. “I don’t rightly know, but knowing what little I do about him, I can’t say that he wouldn’t have hoped to have done more…”

The other me smiled. His clothes now appeared darkened and damp, and the light was waning further. “Perhaps you’re right Chand. He chose to make the sacrifice he did – the sacrifice of the greatest kind. Perhaps he could have done more, but…” He paused, looking away to the space around him. “It takes a lot of strength to make sacrifices for others. You think of yourself as weak, but how many have you made? Rakor was strong for the convictions he held to the end, and for those sacrifices he made for you. He did everything in his power before he perished. You have done the same for your comrades – perhaps even the whole world – many times now. For your wish to make more yet, you are strong too. Even after they left you on the ledge, you held that conviction. I think there is nothing wrong with that.”

I took a deep breath. It had almost grown totally dark, and the other me had began to seem taller, too. “What will become of me, then?” I asked. “Where do I go now?”

“That’s for you to decide, Chand.” Slowly, his clothes seemed to melt away as he grew to the height of a human, though hunched over he was. Bandaged arms, and only a breech he wore. His skin was torn and bleeding, and his face was pleading. “They ask more of you yet. It seems you have not made your last sacrifice for this world. Are you strong enough to?”

I felt a warm glow buzzing in my chest as the world became black. “I am.”

Ilmater smiled and stood up a little straighter. “Good. I believe in you, Chand”.

The world grew bright again, and the pain came rushing back. I felt my hands pinned and my skin cracking. As the haze cleared from my eyes, I saw the faces of my comrades again and felt the hard ground at my back. “What is your name?” one of them shouted.

I smiled. I didn’t know if what I had seen after it all went black was real, but it didn’t matter to me now.

“Why did you leave me behind?!”







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Grasping Lies

07 FEB 2020

Powerful, yet powerless.

Keen eyed, yet blind.

Steadfast, but weak-willed.

Honest, but a ****ing liar.

These things I am. The singularity of my person torn into a duality by forces insurmountably stronger than any I could hope to exert – and yet here I struggle still.

I am not what I claim to be. What it is that I am, I do not know. I am Chand, that much is certain, but what it is that Chand is, is not so set in stone.

Through the force of my actions, many have perished. The tragedy which drove me to seek revenge in the underdark is one that has put a filter over my lens of reality. I have sought the destruction of the denizens of the cave, yet now I seek to keep them and the rest of the world from perishing in the comet of undeath, Ragnora. Perhaps when this mission has seen its end, shall I never wish to be an accessory to death again. Perhaps those beasts of the dark, whilst vile, and whilst being the very end to my own father, have a right to life themselves. It was our escapade into their home that precluded our own suffering. They were defending their territory, as is natural. My desire to see through and endless revenge has been driven by my propensity towards destruction. Theirs, and perhaps my own.

It seems my lens, my whole experience of reality has been distorted by lies. Lies I have told myself, and which others have spoken.

I told myself that it was okay to fear the unknown, when those around me echoed the same sentiment. We could have made safe passage through the Shadowfell, yet we bore the storm and nearly perished in the act.

I told myself I could bring back an ally from the dead, yet I watched as Ayda’s disfigured body crumbled into dust, a mindless husk of her former self.

I told myself that I could bear the weight of ridding the underdark of every foul thing that resided there, yet I found myself a prisoner to a cult of Orcus, and then a friend to those who would soon seek to save the world. Two of those allies perished before my very eyes, one in a bid to protect me and the others. I told myself I was strong enough to face the dark alone, a lie which led to those two deaths.

It is strange, isn’t it? How our actions drive unforeseen and vast consequences…

I could see the end of every creature which has caused the good people of Abeir-Toril, at the cost of those people. Clearly the means doesn’t justify the end. I seek the end which benefits the most of those people. Wherefore then, are the means before me so convoluted? What has been asked of me feels so impure, so wrong… And yet I choose to act on those suggestions. Why do my actions have align so neatly with those of one so foul as the Underdark’s most notorious wraith? Clearly our desires for the world differ greatly, but
the path forward conveniently holds enough room for the two of us.

The path forward into the keep seemed to be simple. Maintain our gaseous form and slip through the rocks. Little were we aware that we would be pulled forward into a sphere of annihilation. Had I not acted on that final impulse, I, as well as my friends would be dead.

The path around the keep’s wall seemed straightforward enough too. It would seem however, that Zakthalakut and his cronies had other plans for us. Shino seemed to be of the persuasion that his allies were enemies in disguise. I was so sure the enemy was before me, taking Tjordiir’s shape, too… It was all lies.

Our demise seemed so obviously imminent. Our minds, torn asunder by this Lich Illithid, were not surely not long for the world. Only when the yellow roses fell did my mind return, and the robed man appear from the sky did my senses return. Truly Tjordiir, I am sorry for the pain I caused you. I hope we live long enough that I can afford you the finest stouts that the finest bar in the land offers. Might I just take off these lenses, and unmask myself that we shall see that glorious future.

I pray this ends well





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Distant Future - Devolved Tongue - Discordant Screams

06 MAR 2020

Soundtrack: Lotus(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkLRH82SWQE)

Time is a strange thing. With time, everything moves. Time is distance.

With distance comes change.

Some things never change. I had hoped my comrades never would; hope is no stable foundation on which to judge distances, however.

We are closer in distance to our goal, yet we are farther from achieving it than we have ever been.

Danjo – the man who lent me his spare attire when I was naked and helpless, the man who rent a Time Devil into two pieces in a blink of an eye – now stares unblinking into the void. I’m going to miss him probably more anyone else most. When all else seemed lost, this man would make tea and tell us beautiful stories of the past. He told of his past demons, and when new demons came to challenge him, he wavered not. He told of his past lovers, and fantasized about all the future ones he might meet; he even offered to pay for my first lover! Ha! Tales of drinking, and drinks he might buy us all when this despair was in the past…

I think none of us expected to find what we did, traveling back in time. Truly, the despair was in the past, that backwards path which we followed, that distance we traversed unnaturally, that bygone time we leapt into – and it was that past in which this legendary man was overcome. Perhaps he should have quit while he was ahead…

Shino, his son, fared no better. What we found in the past was only a greater number of even more powerful evils, and weaker allies. Those damn dwarves didn’t even lift a finger to ward off their fate – bound up in the mind by malevolent magics, they fell. Soon, so too did the younger Wanese man. Shino had been a kind man to me. Though hardly tolerating my humor, I think he appreciated the lighthearted banter as much as I had enjoyed his witty retorts. His potent fire spells had saved my hide – nay, all of our hides – on many occasions, and I wish I could have returned that favor to him.

We held our own remarkably well for a time; demons of all sorts fell before our spells and swords. There was no stopping the Molydeus, however. Danjo was overcome with an affliction of the mind – piercing his own belly to remove an imagined entity. The others were preoccupied with the smaller threats. The Molydeus tore into Sahil at an alarming rate with Sahil answering in kind, and I tried desperately to disenchant the damn thing’s weapon. If I had only done it a moment sooner…. Perhaps they would have lived. Shino and Danjo fell in the last second I connected the Weave in my head to temporarily remove the Molydeus’ weapon’s magic.

Why must I be so useless?

Tjordiir managed to slay the demon a few seconds after it brutally killed two of our comrades. The few remaining demons besides the Molydeus fled.

I knew what I had to do when I saw the device in Shino’s chest. I wasn’t sure if now was the time or the place. I wasn’t sure of anything really. Tjordiir, it seemed, had had the same talk with Steve as I had. He spoke a prayer to Leira, and the room began to freeze. A ghostly figure emerged from the device, but it too even seemed to freeze in place. The walls became laden with ice, the air became hard to breath, and Sahil disappeared.

I don’t know if Sahil fled, perhaps taken aback by our sudden turn to Leira again? If he was taken by some other force, what was it? Some of our most valuable possessions were in his bag, and he himself was one of our most powerful allies. I am beginning to think our time here is drawing to a close before it even begins.

Danjo’s head rests in Tjordiir’s bag now, and Shino’s ear is gone with Sahil. There are now two strangers in his stead; friend or foe, I know not. I pray they are the former.

If they are allies – we may yet close the distance between ourselves and salvation.





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Secrets

20 JUN 2020

We have found ourselves in the domicile of golden clad dwarves. A testament to their legacy of greed, they bore themselves loftily in glinting golden plate. Bore, I say, as I presume that there may be few remaining alive among them. Alive, in what time, though? It seems as Saint Solars graced us on the pinnacle of the stone tower and bid us go below, we stepped into another time. Perhaps, we may have even stepped into another reality – one fabricated by the whims of some unknown deity. What we witness may only be illusion – what we hear may only be lies.

I was met by the yet-to-be-deity we have colloquially referred to as Steve as I delved into the tower. A time and space unto my own, my allies in sight but out of sync. He who would supplant Lyra professed to me the true purpose of this place: To imprison the Faceless Lord Juiblex. We were to ascertain his location, and with the aid of Steve, acquire the portals which he possessed.

The pieces began to fall into place, and only as time resumed did they crumble before us. The dwarves did not take kindly to us materializing in their hold, as conveniently we had arrived at the same time as a cabal of demons. Fantastic. The posturing, wealth obsessed dwarves had little to covet but the position of their organs as the demons strode through. It was only by our hand that the majority of the demons were felled, but at no loss of our own. Danjo had his simple head simply removed. Shino was torn, but eventually parted ways with his lower half. I did my damndest to prevent their death, but the axe of a Molydeus was made by minds almost more cunning than my own. It was only after the two had perished that my attempts to strip its magic were successful. Tjordiir may have removed the foul being from this plane, but I fear it is not the last time I shall face such a horrendous creature.

Strange as it was, seeing the ice crawling from the device in Shino’s chest and the unblinking eyes of our venerable Danjo, it was stranger still to witness two strangers appear before us. A Godsend, I would call them. At least I would call Shayzala that, as the other one, Jarus, seems far too flighty to be trustworthy. He has a good sense about him, but something tells me our well-being does not grace even the back of his mind. Shayzala, bless her, was able to restore the life of our two Wanese comrades.

Life restored, we had to move on. The place was still under siege. The dwarves were still not our friends in any capacity – probably because we weren’t made of gold. After laying low their pitiful defenses – as they thought not even to reason with us, but jump straight into battle – we met their leader. He called forth an aspect of some deity, who he bade to give an edict on our presence. Some clever words were exchanged, and we were given what we had asked for; freedom to move freely throughout the complex. The way it was stated seemed to be a double edged sword. We were given no assistance, but were met with no resistance either.

We tried to make sense of our surroundings. The simple ones found a pile of wealth and started digging, and the all-too-easily-exhaustible casters among us pleaded for a rest. Truly I am in the midst of some brilliant planners. Lo, not a few hours later did the horrible screams of the dwarves erupt, and demonic chanting began. Shortly later, the place began crumbling around us. No way but down, we decided.

Two collapsed passages were before us. Behind one; nothing. Behind the other; demons. Easy way out, but not for long – we took the path without demons. A short dimensional jaunt brought the group to the other side. An poorly stocked armory, and a forge filled with dwarves being tortured; their entrails wrapped and cooking around scorching hot anvils. Jarus noted the presence of traps among them – and Shayzala, bless her heart, felt compelled to heal the bastard. Would they only have cried for coin again, it would have been far kinder on the ears than their cries for their entrails to be cooked again. Charred, numb flesh was replaced with fresh, living tissue, and it immediately began to sizzle.

With a head as hot as his spells, Shino hurled a euthanization ball at the poor bastards. The traps of course were caught in his bad decision become conflagration. The walls blasted apart, the forge began to overload, and everything went about as usual for us. We hightailed it of course, as the imminent meltdown may have easily ended even the most fireproof of us. Demons it was. I popped back to the forge to see if I could quell the imminent doom. Not happening. Being a creature with a few wits about me, I decided not to stick around. In this span of perhaps fifteen seconds, our newly appointed resident rogue had manacled Shino, and was in the midst of berating him. Not that I could blame him, that man must have caught fire to himself a dozen times in his youth. A little care could go a long way.

Having gotten the lectures out of the way and the manacles off Shino’s wrists, we set our course for the demons in the opposing passage. Fight, for there was no flight. If only that cowardly vampire held the same tenets… This vampire was sat upon a an anvil, surrounded by a small horde of demons. In moments, he was standing in the midst of demon corpses. We were so damn close to ending his hollow existence, but that bastard turned Danjo’s morals against him with a cheap mind trick. We were all fools to allow this man his honor duel. To say the least, Danjo was not capable of defeating this vampire. I was the first in breaking my false vow to this vampire; I immediately began my assault the moment Danjo fell. To no avail, he became gaseous and slipped away, even after I had prevented him from doing so before.

Shayzala, bless her, made quick work of patching up the old man. It is a horrendous thing to witness – the healing of a man with a stomach wound. Similar in sight and sound to slurping soba noodles, his entrails were re-engulfed by his stomach cavity. I do not know if I will be able to ever partake of Wanese food after witnessing that.

Our onus drove us to search the place out. An empty room was all that was revealed. Supposedly there was something of great interest in the other room, but our most trustworthy comrade Jarus decided it was too interesting for us to see. No questions asked, no brows or objections raised by any but myself. The knowledge of what existed in that room was too dangerous, too invaluable to grace our ears even in hints – and I am impertinent for even asking! Surely, this shifty round-ear has used some trick to win over my comrades, or perhaps they are all fools. Worse even, perhaps they trust anyone who demonstrates even a modicum of authoritative tone – damned sheep they are if that’s the case. Nevermind. I shall remain baffled at their complacency, but I will not it impede my objective.

The linguists discovered a riddle, and our way forward was revealed with a strike of a hammer to the anvil.

Revealed, nothing really is. This place is strange. Untold ages pass back and forth as freely as we traverse through its passages. Epaphus noted that in the endless staircase we encountered, every five feet began a new existence – a new plane – and we could not see back. Ten miles perhaps we travelled – the stubborn ones leading the way. “We’ll get there eventually.” It was only when we turned back that the scenery changed. We were all delivered to our own plane, and a few minutes later, to the top of the staircase. Shayzala it seemed, had a revelation during our futile exercise. She unmasked herself, as one of the Leiran faith does, and proclaimed her loyalty to Steve. Steve, he who has done not a damned thing for us. Steve, who would care not if the world were dead or vibrant. Steve, the painfully unhelpful gnat that has plagued us with riddles and vague direction. His directions are as cryptic as a drunken dwarf’s ramblings, and he beckons us towards our next goal only because it aligns with his.

It is strange, seeing my comrades kneeling before one who – perhaps a week ago – they would have drawn swords against, given the chance. He showed us the way down, and the stairs worked to guide us to a real destination this time – but I cannot help but feel the trick was of his own device. A simple plot to draw yet another of us into his cult of misty bullshit. There is utility in his mantra, yes, but when your riddles don’t even have answers and your guideposts are written in mad scrawlings, why would one choose to follow you? At least the Triad are honest about their ****ing intentions. The others are being played as simply as single tone horns. Any god can devise a fantastical paradise for a few followers, and with one so unloved and ignored as Steve, he surely has plenty of power to fool the rest of us with.

The ends justify the means, and if the means are that I must worship he-who-must-be-a-cryptic-prick, then I might just do so. It’s going to take a lot of convincing, though. I have world to save, not an ego to stroke.







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cpthero2
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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  19:58:48  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In the Mist

15 OCT 2020

I walk unafraid, though my vision is obscured.

Our path is growing narrow, and yet I fear not. One misstep and we may plummet ourselves and the world into the annals of annihilation, though I confidently walk on. Should we fail to see the path ahead, we surely shall perish. Asmodeus himself is barking at our heels, bidding us go where he himself fears to be. It may seem hopeless, save the fact that we are capable of doing that which even the prince of Hell is incapable.

The cube in Juiblex’s chamber held only riddles, and we found ourselves entering its folds to uncover the truths. Portals in the top of the cube led us to other places; alternate realities, timelines, or just other places perhaps. A glacier, a dark land with a far off castle, and a barren land void of air, and rich with dark beings.

We tested our mettle once again, this time in the grasp of an elder evil; Sertrous. Castle Perilous loomed in the distance as our knowledgeable Epaphus broke the Elder Evil’s binding by reading the runes surrounding a pit in the ground. Sertrous burst forth from the pit, and nearly devoured us all. We might have perished if the Lady of the Mists had not granted to me the vision I needed; the being which we saw was only a facade for Sertrous’ aspect, trapped there. A swift negotiation saw the evil return to their own world, and the Staircase of Pejir in our possession. Inscrutable power, and endless potential; will we really know how best to use this thing?

The Staircase has given us the power to master space, and now we seek the Astrolabe so that we may master time, perhaps. Leira guides us in the loosest sense; we walk through the mist, unsure of ourselves and unable to see the destination. We only know that we must continue, and have faith that where we can see the least, we will find the most.



Higher Atlar
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cpthero2
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Posted - 07 Dec 2020 :  20:01:25  Show Profile  Visit cpthero2's Homepage Send cpthero2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I Still See Their Faces

17 OCT 2020

I still see their faces. The people of Ormpe. Those who cared for me as a child, taught me as a young adult, and worked with me in my spelunking ventures. The kind folk, the angry folk; all are still clear in my mind.

There is a fog though. We defeated the aberration, and in its stead lay two artefacts. Sentient, powerful objects loomed before us. We decided that Epaphus would investigate, and so he made first contact with the spear. Thought taker was its name; aptly so. I had already felt one memory slip in its presence; right after we had defeated the aberration, something was lost to me. I remember only growing up in an orphanage, but nothing of my parents. Perhaps they were never there, or perhaps their faces were stolen from my mind. Danjo informed me later that I had told him of my parents, but I have no memory of them.

Epaphus seemed to freeze for a moment upon making contact with Thought Taker. A short while later the artefact was in his hand, and he described a tense negotiation for control of the spear, but did not go into specifics.

“You are a tool for me to use. A flowery spear, who the **** does that?” The Telsascarra is an egotistic, commanding artefact as Epaphus soon found. The egg shaped artefact offered him a deal, and he refused. Epaphus bid us leave the Teslascarra behind; perhaps he thought the spear alone was enough to face what was to come? I was soon to find out the truth. We were left exploring this strange Imaskari place again.

I made a quick decision; few places here we had left unexplored. Reaching into the darkness into the room, I inadvertently made contact with the other artefact. The strong willed thing made a clear case; if the Quell were to possess Epaphus again, he would make short work of our healer with the spear. “I will work for you, in exchange for a thought” it offered. Helpful. Truly, I had lost a memory before, and it was not so great a burden that I couldn’t bear to lose another. “I accept your terms.”

“A mistake” I sobbed. “I’ve made a terrible mistake.” Danjo ushered me into his magical robe; a maze of sakura blossoms surrounded me in a moment. It was a peaceful place for me to lament my decisions. All the deceit, all the acts of heresy I had committed. I denied an image of Ilmater, told him I was bound to another god – one who I can’t even remember making a pact with now. What ****ing atrocities have I committed in the eyes of the Triad? Tyr is my God, and I have fallen far from his graces.

A realization hit me as I lay in the Sakura orchard; I could not even beg for forgiveness. I exist in a time before the Triad came into existence, I am in a place where my faith has no meaning. Even if I were to beg for forgiveness for a thousand years, my pleas would never reach the ears of the ones I have wronged.

“Chand…you’ve done nothing wrong.
It’s your deity that left you, not you him”

“Perhaps you are right…”

“I am with you. Let’s solve this together. You are not alone”

These words gave me resolve. I remembered why I was in this place, and what I needed to do. I cannot be looked down upon by gods that do not even exist yet, therefore I must do what I can to take hold of the power needed to rescue the world in my own time. This is not the time to lament, it is the time to act.

I came back in a daze, Danjo’s maze having released me. My allies asked me what had happened, and I did my best to explain. We needed to move forward, I urged. We need to get back to our own time.

We probed the darkness in the next unexplored room. A lady in white, the dark clad woman we had seen near the astrolabe; these faces flashed past and their words carried little meaning. My allies spewed details from our own time as the aspect of some goddess stood before us. Shar, they suspected. The one in white, Leira perhaps? I could care less. I was annoyed, then I felt nothing. Words bandied back and forth, producing nothing in the end. I felt worn like a coat, used like a chamberpot by forces beyond my control.

We returned from the room, finding that the circular hallway had changed. A new time? It seemed further in the past. The runic circle was missing the thick bands around it, and we found we could cross with ease. The chamber we had seen before – the one with the conjuration circle – was occupied with people clad in dark robes, and the lady dressed in white we had seen in the room before. They seemed to be engaged in ritual magic, though I did not care to know more. “It doesn’t concern us” I felt. I bid my allies to move on; there was little to be gained from interrupting them. At best they would ignore us, at worst they might attack us. We moved on.

As we rounded towards the double doors Epaphus had seen with his arcane eye, I felt an urging from the Teslascarra. “He’s leading you down the wrong path – Don’t let him do this!!” “Why? What is in there that we shouldn’t find?” “There is that power. He’s going to have you cross through without us having control of that ****ing spear! It can steal the thoughts of the thing that we seek to dominate!” It bid me to engage in a mental conversation, both with Epaphus and the spear. I stopped the group, and initiated contact with Epaphus.

The engagement was tense. Epaphus could not remember what he had lost, and I only knew because the artefact I held, and the aspect we had met before threw it back in my face. We had both sacrificed something, for artefacts that seemed to hate each other. I knew what needed to be done. The center of this place would hold the key to our own time, and to command that key, we needed the artefacts working together – or at least for one to control the other. The Teslascarra seemed to dominate the conversation, demanding that the Thought Taker submit to its will. “Nothing more than a tool to be used by me.” One thing was certain; we needed to leave this conversation with one person holding both.

Epaphus insisted at first that I hand mine over. After I had sacrificed this much? After I had been hollowed like a decorative egg and left destitute? I could not let him go through the same thing. I had had one faith ripped away from me, and my fallback was single sided. I knew it would be unjust to force that upon him as well, that holding both of these artefacts and sacrificing yet another memory was the right thing to do. It is right, isn’t it? I held command over the Teslascarra – I was able to make the deal that Epaphus could not. It should be me to take on the other one, right? I made this case to him, and he agreed. The Thought Taker, however, did not. As Epaphus began to hand the spear over, he – or perhaps the spear in his stead – lashed out. Striking my mind – though to little effect – I had little choice but to react in kind. I attempted to devour and suppress the magic of the spear – and I succeeded. The grip on his mind seemed to loosen, and the spear became mine. Epaphus kindly let the Thought Taker keep his memory – that I would not have to make another sacrifice. I must thank him for that later.

The two artefacts squabbled for a moment, before the spear capitulated and fell under the control of the Teslascarra. I made my position known to them, as it was clear the Teslascarra at the very least was vying for total control. “Heed my will, lest you be cast into the deepest pit of a forgotten plane of exsitsnce.” All was as it should be. It is right that I should hold these – Epaphus was not even able to master the spear, yet I was able to negotiate for control of both. My will shall dominate, my might grants my the right to hold these and see my allies through, back to our time. It is right, right?

I come back – seeing Epaphus on the brink of death, and my allies jumping at me for information. I tell them the truth, and they are satisfied. Shayzala was able to restore Epaphus’ life force. He awoke, sick, but quickly recovered. I apologized to him; I had never intended for him to suffer so greatly in that exchange. It is not my fault he was too weak to command the power of both of the artefacts, but I did not wish to see him fall so close to perishing.

Moving on. It was time, now – to go to the double doors. The opened easily, and inside we found another runic circle with a central wall – round like the hallway we had just entered from.

“Don’t cross that barrier before anyone else” the Teslascarra bid me. “Very well.” I replied.

Some probing, and the artefact revealed to me its true intentions. A trap perhaps; a horrendous evil lay within the next chamber. Pandorym. I could not help but speak it aloud.

“Then why should we open the barrier? What do you seek to gain?” I queried; if there lay something so malevolent on the other side, why should I watch as my comrades walked straight into it? “Dominating this being can allow you access to the very portal you need to gain access to the lingering magic of the Astrarium that brought you here.” Alas – a direction indeed. I have no trust for these damn artefacts; I shall command them to see my ends met, not the other way around. They made a valuable point though – if the being in there took control of my mind first, all of my allies would probably perish. Still, I could not rightly cast them into that fate… But the point still stands. I will do what I will – but if I can keep my allies from perishing, I will.

A riddle in an ancient language on the door; “They who would pass this door shall know what they want, and what it wants.” Some debate and a fruitless attempt at opening the door followed the translation, before the revelation came to me.

“Domination” I said, as I pushed on the door – a confirmation followed in my mind – and it opened for me.

The artefacts had spoken true. A shard of Pandorym rested there in the chamber, shedding pure malevolence and glowering at us.

“It is time.” Shino and Jarus stand before me, foolishly. They do not truly know what they want. They do not command their own will. I do, and I shall command this one as well.

Snap






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