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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:44 am 
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Rainbows
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Another chapter! :shock: Let's see what Spires is up to next.

Bob of Beleriand wrote:
What sort of silly name is Bob?


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Spires: I have a stuffed animal hippo called Bob. You can use him as a unit champion if you want. I just wouldn't give him to your Phoenix Guard. He talks too much ;)

Asurion: I'm not sure about the name Bob :? , for an Asur Champion that is.

Spires: I think Bob works great as a name for an Asur champion. Nice and simple. After all, not everyone will have long and meaningfull names. And it is a lot easier to remember in the heat of battle then some of the other names you have. Being aquatic and all, I would say Bob fits perfectly with your Seaguard- Kraken Company. ;) Up to you of course...

Elessehta: Bob of Beleriand, used to be known as Bob of Yvresse, he never got ridiculed for his name. ...

Spires: That might be because Bob of Beleriand has a name in red and a lot of power. On the other hand, Bob the Hippo is about 15 cm tall and cuddely with inocent black eyes. It's hard to stand up for yourself if you're that small. You're never realy taken seriously if you're a stuffed animal for some reason...


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:32 am 
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The Clubslinger
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Oh c'mon, how do you know I'm not cuddly too? :wink:


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:20 pm 
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Bob of Beleriand wrote:
What sort of silly name is Bob?

I have wondered the same thing a bit as the story went on. There are only so many times you can type "Bob said" when an elf is talking and not feel silly... ;) But Aicanor did indeed find the reason for Bob's existence (I'm impressed you managed to dig that one up Aicanor). His first actual appearance as Spires' herald is here I think: http://www.ulthuan.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=850631#p850631.

Also, I never actually claimed you weren't cuddly. Just that, even if you are cuddly, you also have all the world dominating power that comes from having a red name. So people tend to make less fun of you then when you're 15cm tall and silly.

Next chapter coming up.

****
It was deep into the night when Spires's army neared Tor Elyr. The city was visible as a dark outline against the blanked of stars in the sky. A few lights were sprinkled in the blackness of the otherwise sleeping city.

"Bob, take the army down the coast," Spires said. "Find a bay where you can be picked up and wait there."

"Why?" Bob asked. "What will you do?"

"I'm heading into Tor Elyr. I will take Anlar'Sel and a company of his shadow warriors with me. It is easier for a handful of people to sneak in then for a whole army.

We will look for Aithlin's contacts. See if we can arrange for transportation to the Isle of the Dead. We will pick you up as we move down the coast. Give us two days to reach you. Otherwise, you will have to make your own way."

****

The small company made its way towards the harbour of Tor Elyr. Several large ships dominated the harbour. Their shadows dwarfing the smaller ships that lay in wait.

Even at this time of night there was still plenty of activity amongst the docks to hide their presence. Sailors were walking in and out of taverns. A few ships were being loaded. And several fishermen where already offloading their catch.

They cautiously made their way through the winding streets towards the city walls. Getting into the city turned out to be trickier. When they reached the city gates they learned that the gates were closed until sunrise.

"Time is starting to run out," Spires said to Anlar'Sel. "We need to get to the Isle of the Dead as soon as possible. We can't afford to wait out here until dawn. We need in the city looking for Aithlin's contacts."

"There is always a way into a city," Anlar'Sel replied. "You just need to know where to look. Follow me."

Sel took of at a jog down a side street that ran along the wall. Here some of the houses ran right up to the city wall itself.

"There." Sel pointed to a non-descript house standing amongst similar houses against the wall.

"What are we looking at?" Spires asked Anlar'Sel. "Why that house?"

"Several reasons. For one, it's about halfway between the different watchtowers. So it offers the smallest chance of being seen. Although I doubt anyone is watching.

For another, it offers an easy climb up the wall."

Spires looked up at the vertical stones rising above him. "Strange definition of easy."

The shadow warrior shook his head. "Watch and learn"

Anlar'Sel used a barrel and a windowsill to reach the roof of the house in an easy bound. Keeping his head down, he made a dash for the wall.

There he waited for a cloud to obscure his presence.

In the dark, Sel ran his hands across the polished white surface. After a moment he seemed to find a handhold for his left hand. Apparently satisfied with his grip he stretched his right hand higher, repeating the process.

Methodically, he worked his way up the wall. In some places he could use both his hands and feet. In others, he hung from a single hand while his other hand looked to the next handhold.

To Spires, watching from below, Anlar'Sel stood out like a beacon in the night. Anyone looking up at the wall would easily spot him. Impatiently Spires waited in the shadows until Anlar'Sel finally reached the top of the wall and snuck over the crenulations.

Spires and the rest of the shadow warriors hurried towards the base of the wall. Anlar'Sel tossed down a rope and one by one the group moved into the city beyond.

Back on the ground on the other side of the wall, Spires asked Anlar'Sel "How did you manage that?"

"As I said, it was an easy climb. Any Shadow Warrior could have done it."

"And what was the trick? What you did should have been impossible. The wall should have offered no handholds."

"No fooling you, sir." Anlar'Sel said. "The house out front was marked. The path up the wall was laid out by Shadow Warriors in years gone by for just such an occasion. You just need to know what to look for."

"That explains," Spires said. "Thank you. Let's move on and find this merchant Aithlin referred us to."

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:00 am 
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They spent the better part of the rest of the night looking for the merchants house. Tor Elyr was a sprawling city on the coast of the Sea of Dusk full of canals and winding streets. This made locating the wool merchant district without be able to ask for directions a difficult task, which was further exacerbated by regular patrols which were roaming the streets of Tor Elyr.

When dawn started announcing itself in the eastern sky they found the house they were looking for. A tall, narrow building which dominated an enclosed courtyard. Empty stables lined one side of the courtyard. The other was open to a canal which ran past the back of the house.

Nothing moved as they made their way to the side entrance next to stable. Here they knocked as Aithlin had told them. Three knocks, then a pause, then two knocks.

Huddled together in the shadows they waited for a reaction from within.

Moments passed.

They started thinking either nobody was home or they hadn't heard. Then they heard the distinct shuffle of feet on a marble floor within. A small window in the door was opened the tiniest of margins.

"Who is it? What do you want?"

"We are friends of Aithlin," Spires said. "He told us the master of the house could help us with a small problem we are facing."

"How do I know you're not lying?"

"Aithlin said to remind master Calmir that Calmir still owes him twenty seven sovereigns for that one time in Lothern."

"Nonsense. He earned a multitude from that deal. Quid-pro-quo and all that."

"That is not for me to decide," Spires said. "Can we come in to discuss a sensitive matter?"

No reply was given to this. Then, three bolts were slid back and the door opened just enough to let everyone enter in single file.

They stood inside a sparse kitchen. Bread stood rising in front of a small wood stove.

The elf who had let them in locked the door again. "Follow me."

Without looking to see if he was followed, the elf led them through a series of corridors and chambers to a small sitting room on the second floor of the house.

There he motioned for them to sit around low burning fireplace.

"I am Calmir. What is this sensitive matter that has you knocking on my door in the middle of the night?"

"I need ships. I have some sensitive cargo that urgently needs to be transported across the Sea of Dusk."

"Ships?" Calmir raised an eyebrow. "How many do you need? And what is the cargo?"

"I need enough to transport what remains of the first Colonial Legion. Which is about 450 men. Three cavalry contingents worth of horses. And all the odds and ends that come with an army."

Calmir exhaled through his teeth. "450 men. Even under normal circumstances that wouldn't be easy. And these are far from normal circumstances. I'm afraid I can't help you."

"Rest assured, the pay will be sufficient. I can get you 5.000 sovereigns up front. And twice that when we're done."

Calmir shook his head. "I think for that kind of money almost anyone in the city would sell you their fleet. It's not the pay that is the problem. I don't have any ships anymore."

"What? Aithlin said you had more then enough for our purpose."

"Indeed, I had more then enough. When the Aestyrion took over, they confiscated all the ships they didn't burn. No merchant has any vessel worth the name left in the harbour. Of course, it matters little that they did so, since they also conscripted all the crews not fast enough to hide."

"There must be a way," Spires said.

"Unless you plan on stealing one of the ships, I don’t see there is one," Calmir said.

At this Anlar'Sel's eyes lit up. "Why not?" he said to Spires. "I'm sure we can take on whoever is on board."

Spires rubbed his chin. "That wouldn't get us very far. You and your team know next to nothing about piloting a ship. We would also need a crew."

Both Sel and Spires looked at Calmir. "Could you get us a crew capable of manning one of the galley's in the harbour?" Spires asked.

Which one did you have in mind?" Calmir asked.

Spires looked at Sel, who nodded.

"The big one," Spires said. "It was named Tyrion's Benevolence."

Calmir whistled through his teeth. "You've got taste. I'll give you that. You'll need a fair sized crew in that case. I could find some men I think. When do you want to leave?"

"Tomorrow night."

"Ambitious. It will be tough on such short notice. And it won't come cheap."

"The must be enough sailors in the city who are none too happy about Tyrion." Spires said. "I would start with them. And, as mentioned, cost is not a problem."

"We'll best get to work then" Calmir said.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:42 am 
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Night had fallen again when Spires and Anlar'Sel left one of the key-side taverns. They made their way down the docks until Tyrion's Benevolence lay ahead of them. There they met up with a small, rough looking group.

Several Shadow Warriors were lounging against some bales of wool. In front of them a group of sailors tried their best to look inconspicuous and failed miserably. All told there were perhaps fifty elves in the group. It seemed a pitifully small number to take over a warship which could house ten times that number.

"Is everyone clear on what they need to do?" Spires asked. Nods all round. "Time to move out then."

The Shadow Warriors disappeared into the night. A dozen of them went into the harbour. Some others made crawled along underneath the dock towards the ship. The last handful found another route towards the warship.

Spires walked up to the ship together with Anlar'Sel.

At the bottom of the gangplank leading up to the deck the pair of them halted.

"Ahoy there!" Spires cried. "Inspection. Permission to come aboard?"

A head came up over the railing. "Who is it? And what are you doing here at this time of the night?"

"Readiness inspection. Committee of naval affairs. It's your choice to allow us on board. Just know that Tyrion will hear of the next few minutes." Spires said.

"All right, all right," the elf replied. "No need for threats. Come up already. I'll get the men out."

Spires and Anlar'Sel walked across the narrow gangplank. The deck of the ship was neat and mostly empty. Both the prow and the aft castle sported a pair of repeater bolt throwers. A main hatch in the centre of the deck led to the lower decks. Three large masts were spread out evenly across the deck.

Several elves were coming out of the hatch in the middle of the ship. They assembled into a line next to the main mast. One of them yawning, another rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

As Spires walked towards them another group came out of the door at the base of the aftcastle.

Dark shadows were starting to move along the railing on the far side of the ship. Several of the Shadow Warriors were crawling aboard.

Spires halted at the middle of the line of elves, looking from left to right along it. He gave a short nod, as if to himself.

Then, Spires drew his sword, running it along the chest of the elf right in front of him. Without pausing, he brought it down in the neck of the of the second elf. He took two steps to his right, spinning as he went and took down the third elf.

Only now were the other elves in the line starting to move. The next one in the line almost managed to get his sword out before Spires ran him through. The one after that exchanged a few blows with Spires before suffering the same fate.

Only after that did the defending elves manage to coordinate a defence. Three of them circled Spires, trying to draw him out. Spires feinted to the right, lunged to his left, drawing his opponents on. Then, he threw one of the daggers hanging from his belt at the elf on the right, who staggered as it clipped him in the side. Spires's sword followed shortly after.

The remaining two took a small step back, even more wary of Spires.

"You're welcome to surrender now," Spires said. "That, or die. The choice is yours."

"There is still only one of you and two of us. And we've got more men on the way," one of the two elves said. "You surrender."

"You might want to look around you," Spires said. "There is no help coming. My men have taken the ship."

The other elf glanced over his shoulder. And dropped his sword. "I give up," he said.

Spires's Shadow Warriors and the crew Calmir had arranged had rushed onto the deck. All defenders were either dead or overpowered. The colonial elves were rushing below to find any left over defender.

Spires motioned to the leader of the ships crew. "Handreth," Spires said, "start preparing the ship. We are not staying here any longer then we have to. I want to be underway in half an hour."

"What? You want to navigate the bleak passage in the dark? It can't be done. You must be joking."

"I am not joking," Spires said. "I do indeed want to navigate the bleak passage in the dark. It can be done. And in fact, I have already done it once in the past. Now, I suggest that, unless you want to wait around until several Aestyrion detachments come streaming out of Tor Elyr to find out what all the noise was about, you get us underway."

With that, Spires turned around and walked to the aft castle, leaving Handreth to start organising his men.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:40 am 
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Commotion broke out along the waterfront as they pulled away from the docks. Their theft had been noticed. And it sounded like pursuit was already being organized.

The harbour entrance crept closer. They reached open water as behind them in the dark sails were being hoisted.

"We'll never make it," Handreth said. "Those are the fastest ships this side of the Sea of Dusk."We needed to be out of sight before they got underway to stand a chance."

"Steady as she goes, Handreth," Spires said. "Get ready for a hard starboard turn on my mark."

"Along the coast?" Handreth asked in disbelieve. "What? You mean to kill us before Tyrion's men get to us?"

"Just follow my lead and we'll be fine. Starboard turn is coming up. Aim for Arloth's peak you see in the distance there. Mark"

Handreth started shouting to his men on the deck and in the rigging at the same time as he spun the wheel. The big galley inched to starboard, aligning its bow with the peak ahead.

So they went on into the night. Spires gave short course indications. Handreth and his men working in the darkness. Hours later, the first light of day revealed a narrow passage ahead, running between islands and the coast. Turbulent white water betrayed an uneven seafloor below.

Behind them, the first light also showed a pair of sails following close behind. The Aestyrion ships had tracked them through the night.

"This is the last stretch Handreth," Spires said. "I doubt they will be able to follow us through this stretch of the bleak passage. Take heart, this is the last stretch."

"If you say so," Handreth said doubtfully.

"Secure everything not yet tied down. I'll take the wheel from here. You aid your men. They will need all the help they can get."

At that moment a ballista bolt hit the deck next to Spires, showering him in splinters.

"Tighten the rigging!" he yelled. "Give me more speed! We need to enter the passage before they can get a clear shot at us."

Another shot hit the water near the ship, sending up a shower of salt water.

The white water crept closer.

A bolt hit the side of the ship, burying itself deep in the side of the galley's aft castle.

And then they were in. Waves rocked the ship left and right. The wind kept changing directions between the islands.

Spires laid out a zigzag course, navigating the turbulent waters. At one point he almost doubled back on himself.

At first the Aestyrion ships tried to get off a few more shots, sending them well wide of their targets. But soon they were both too busy with their own survival to pay much attention to Tyrion's Benevolence.

"Hold on!" Spires shouted. "Tight port turn coming up!"

Spires dragged hard on the wheel. The ship groaned in protest as it tilted on a sharp angle into the turn.

"It's going to be tight! Brace for impact!" Spires tightened his hold on the steering wheel.

The ship shuddered as its keel dragged across the seafloor with an ominous grating sound.

Slowly the ship finished the turn and righted itself.

Ahead the water became calmer. They had almost made it out of the bleak passage.

A large crack went up behind them. One of their pursuers had missed the turn and smashed itself apart on the rocks. The other ship slowed down as it approached the tight gap. Letting the Benevolence increase its lead.

The Benevolence cleared the bleak passage, rounding the bend around Bleak island.

"Pull up. Sharp Starboard!" Spires shouted. "Ready repeaters!"

As the last pursuer cleared the bend around the island, it found Tyrion's Benevolence lying in wait.

"Take aim. Fire!"

At Spires's command the repeater batteries aboard the Benevolence unleashed their deadly salvo on the approaching ship. Several of them struck home just below the waterline.

"Reload. Fire at will!"

The enemy ship began to list as it took on more water. It desperately tried to turn away from its oncoming death. Then the second salvo struck home. Slowly, the ship started going down.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:22 pm 
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Spires stood at the Benevolence's prow looking ahead. There lay, bleak and foreboding, the Isle of the Dead. In places cliffs rose straight up from the shoreline. In others, rocky beaches gave way to scree slopes. No living thing was in sight. Not even a blade of grass grew on that island. Even the wind seemed to have died once they reached the island.

Farther inland he could see the heart of the Vortex. Magic given shape. Great swirls in a myriad of colours converged on a single point. Several times, lightning jumped between different swirls. Here and there clouds of magic escaped out of the vortex, flying off into the world.

The journey here had been peaceful, as if the world was holding its breath for the coming storm. They found Bob and the remaining colonial army camped in one of the bays after the bleak coast. After loading them aboard they had sailed east towards the Isle of the Dead. The Sea of Dusk had been empty of vessels. They hadn't even seen so much as a sail on the horizon.

Spires looked to Bob, who was standing next to him. "Here we are, my friend. It all converges on this point. Time to find out if it has all been worth it."

"The Vortex is still here. We’ve still got time,” Bob replied.

"But how much time? And will we be able to do enough?"

"That only Hoeth knows." Bob said.

Spires shook himself out of his reverie. "Let's get going then. Before time catches up."

With that the first Colonial legion started disembarking and moved onto the Isle of the Dead. Spires and Bob rode ahead, with Alar'Sel striding along, towards the heart of the Vortex. With them they carried the Null Stone of Caledor, used in the creation of the Vortex.

As they neared the central pinnacle on the island, they saw an army camped on the other side, flying the colours of the Phoenix king. The great host contained troops from all over Ulthuan. Regiments of Phoenix Guard stood shoulder to shoulder with White Lions. Levy troops from all corners of the Ever Empire were present.

Spread out amongst the Asur troops stood regiments of Druchii warriors. Black Guard and Executioners. Repeater crossbow men and even several units of Warlocks. A gathering such as this hadn't been seen since the Vortex below which it stood had been created.

"It looks like Teclis and his new master have arrived," Bob remarked.

"I wonder what brings them here at this time," Spires said.

"Perhaps we're getting a welcoming party," Anlar'Sel said.

"Only one way to find out," Spires said. "Anlar'Sel, keep your emotions in check in the camp. Don't go killing Druchii. All that matters is the Vortex. Follow me." With that Spires spurred his horse towards the encampment.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:43 pm 
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Hmmmm, what's that sly old fox doing with that vortex?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:13 pm 
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All will be revealed soon ;) Story is slowly running towards its conclusion...

****

"Halt! Who goes there?" One of the sentries around the army camp had spotted them

"I am C'al-Vyn, member of the Conclave, Warden of the Southern ocean, Sovereign Prince of Spires. I am on a mission from the Phoenix King. And I must speak with Lord Teclis as soon as possible."

"Which Phoenix King would that be?" the sentry asked.

"Which one do you think? Now, unless you want to explain to Lord Teclis why we are late, I suggest you let us pass." With that, Spires urged his horse on, past the sentry who stood staring after him with his mouth hanging open.

They rode through the camp towards the biggest pavilion they could find, reasoning that whoever was in charge would be there. A perimeter of mixed White Lions and Black Guard stood watch around this pavilion, eyeing everyone who so much as looked in their direction.

"I doubt you'll get past them as you did with that sentry back at the edge of the camp," Bob said.

"There is a time for bluff," Spires said, "and a time for proper form."

Spires walked up to the largest White Lion. He stopped three paces away and gave a short bow. "Well met. I am C'al-Vyn, Sovereign Prince of Spires. I am here to see Lord Teclis on an urgent matter concerning the Vortex."

"Do you have an appointment?" the guard asked.

Spires straightened. "No, I do not. This matter only recently came up. I humbly request an audience. I would be much obliged if Lord Teclis could see me on short notice."

"Wait here." The White Lion nodded to the guard standing next to him. Then, he turned around and went towards the tent.

Spires turned around and walked the few paces back to his companions.

"And now?" Anlar'Sel asked.

"Now we wait," Spires said.

"That doesn't sound like much of a plan," Bob said.

"If we want information, and from a reliable source, then it's the best chance we have."

It turned out they didn't have to wait long. Perhaps an hour had passed when a liveried servant approached them and bade them to follow him. He led them to a smaller pavilion slightly removed from the central tent.

Inside a frail elf sat behind a writing desk bent over some papers. He waved them towards several stools placed to one side as he continued his writing.

The rest of the pavilion was sparsely furnished. A large rug covered most of the floor. To one side a narrow field bed was placed. On the other side stood a drinks cabinet, in which stood several bottles of what looked like fine Sapherian wine.

Spires sat in one of the indicated stools. He placed his hands on his legs, palms facing upwards. Next to him, Anlar'Sel fidgeted in his seat, impatient to continue.

Finally, the feeble elf looked up. His eyes showed a power which belied his withered body. "Ah, the Prince of Spires. I wondered about what had happened to you."

"My lord Teclis," Spires said as he stood up. He gave a small bow. "Thank you for seeing us on such a short notice. What brings you to this place at such a time?"

"Spires, always playing the great game. Never giving out information before getting something in return," Teclis said with a shake of his head. "If you want it that way. I'm here for the same reason every who comes to this place is. The Vortex of course. Now, what brings you here."

"As you said, The Vortex. I have information which could be of vital import."

"Well, out with it. I haven't got all day."

"As I am sure you know, The Vortex is failing," Spires began.

"Yes, I do know. Even the lowliest apprentice in the Tower would know if they bothered listening to the winds. What of it?"

"I think I have a way of repairing the damage done to it. Of restoring it to its former glory."

"Restore it? Why would I want to do that? Is that what you think we are doing here?" Teclis said with a small chuckle.

"What do you mean?" Bob asked, disbelieving. "What else would you do with the Vortex?"

"The old ways are dying," Teclis said. "The Vortex is slowly unraveling. And with the increased magic, the chaos gods are on the rise. We have failed. Caledor's plan so long ago failed."

"It is not over yet," Spires said. "We can still mend it."

"We don't need to mend it. We need to unleash it, harness its power." Teclis said. "With that power, we can beat back the tides of chaos. I can lead the Asur back to greatness and we can claim our rightful place as masters of the lesser races. I can right all the wrongs and avenge the hurts that have been dealt to us over the centuries."

"That power isn't meant for one person," Spires replied. "The Vortex was put in place precisely for that reason. Don't you think Caledor Dragontamer hadn't considered this?"

"Caledor didn't see what I have seen." Teclis said. "With this power I can overthrow the chaos gods. I will banish them forever."

The chaos gods aren't banished so easily," Spires said. "They thrive on such conflict as you want to unleash."

"I was afraid you would think that. If you aren't with us, then you are against us. I am sorry for this, I would rather have you on my side." Teclis stood up and seemed to double in size as he threw out his arms and started an incantation.

Bob and Anlar'Sel fell backwards out of their chairs and tried to scramble away. Spires stood calmly, arms folded over each other, waiting on Teclis.

In moments Teclis fell silent, his incantation finished. Nothing had happened. With a frown on his face, Teclis started another spell, even more powerful then the last.

"Let me stop you before you make a fool of yourself, Teclis," Spires said. "Allow me to show you a trinket made by Caledor himself." Spires reached inside his uniform and pulled out the Null Stone. He strode towards Teclis.

"Your magic won't do you any good. This building block of The Vortex drains all your spells and incantations. And with this I will mend The Vortex."

Spires held out the Null Stone in his left hand for Teclis to see. Fear showed on Teclis's face. With his right hand, Spires lashed out and hit Teclis on his head, knocking the frail elf unconscious.

"Let's quickly finish him off," Anlar'Sel said. "Then we can get out of here."

"We will not," Spires said. "He was a great elf once. In a way, he still is. I will not let anyone hurt a fellow Asur unless there is no other choice."

Spires turned away and walked toward the exit of the tent. "We got the information we came for. Now, we need to get out of here. And fast. Alar'Sel, this is your speciality. Lead the way."

The trio walked out of the tent as fast as they could without drawing attention to themselves. Anlar'Sel stopped at one of the guards. "The prince of Spires has given lord Teclis much to think about. He asked us to tell you that he doesn't want to be disturbed for any reason for the next hour."

The strode on, weaving between the rows of tents so that they were soon lost from view. They hurried past campfires and tents through the massive army.

They had perhaps covered two-thirds of the distance towards their horses when horns sounded. They had been found out. The hunt was on. More and more horn calls went up. All around them elves looked up and sprang to alertness, grabbing weapons and gear. Everyone started looking for enemies. Confusion was all around. The trio ran on.

"We have intruders in the camp" Teclis's voice seemed to be everywhere, ringing out over the army. "Three spies from Tyrion are moving through our camp as we speak. They must be stopped at all cost. They are armed and dangerous."

They were almost clear. They could see their horses standing ahead, near the sentry who had initially admitted them. Then, a unit of elves barred their way. "Hold!" one of them said. It was the sentry they had passed when they came into the camp. "I knew something was wrong when you entered. Surrender or die!"

The trio hardly slowed their pace. Anlar'Sel pulled a pair of throwing daggers from his belt and hurled them through the air. One of them lodged itself in the throat of the sentry. The other stopped in the stomach of his left neighbor. Bob swept out his sword. He hit one elf in his shoulder and parried the stroke of another. Spires ran straight for where the sentry had fallen. He jumped at the right neighbor of the sentry, knocking him down and rolling on. Getting to his feet, he elbowed another elf in the back of the head.

Then they were through. With a last sprint they left the confusion behind and reached their horses. Mounting, they kicked the horses into a gallop and they fled out of the camp.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:50 pm 
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Loved the Null Stone action. And the Lord of the Rings reference. Too bad Teclis didn't listen.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:22 am 
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The LoTR reference was a bit subconscious... Glad you're enjoying the tale. People reading are one of the reasons to keep writing it after all.

On to the end

****
"What do we do now?" Bob asked.

They were back with the army, sitting in Spires's tent. During their flight back they had been pursued until they reached the outermost reaver patrols of the colonial army. Those patrols had made short work of the few horsed pursuers. Afterwards, their pace had changed from a blind gallop into a more moderate canter.

"We complete the mission. We can still restore The Vortex." Spires said.

"But," Anlar'Sel said. "You want to take on Teclis? The greatest mage since Caledor? What hope do we have?"

"A worthy cause does not require hope to fight. You fight because it is a righteous cause," Spires said. "To be Asur is to stand tall in the face of despair and keep on going. For the good of the world."

Silence followed. Each elf remembering Teclis's madness earlier that day.

"However," Spires continued, "you are forgetting the Null Stone. You saw the effect it had on Teclis. I would say we stand a decent chance. If nothing else, we can at least hope to prevent Teclis from harnessing the full power of the Vortex to himself. That, and surviving to tell the tale, I would consider a victory at this point."

A page burst into the tent. "Sir! A message, Sir! An army is approaching from the east!"

"What is the complete message? Tell me," Spires said.

"An army is marching on the central pinnacle of the island, Sir. They are arrayed for battle."

"What colours are they flying?" Spires asked.

"They are showing the personal banner of Lord Tyrion, Sir. As well as a multitude of Khainite banners."

"Thank, you," Spires said. "You may go."

"It seems Tyrion isn't about let Teclis have it all his way either," Bob said. "This may just give us the opening we need."

"Indeed," Spires said. "I think Teclis will be preoccupied the next few hours."

"We had best get moving then," Anlar'Sel said. "What do you need for the ritual?"

"We need to get as close to the central pinnacle as we can," Spires said. "And we need time."

"My Shadow warriors can help you with both."

****

For the second time that day, they stood at the base of the pinnacle of The Vortex. On the other side they could hear battle rage as the two elven hosts clashed together. They stood in a low hollow, hidden from view by large grey boulders. High above them, The Vortex spiralled around the pinnacle, magic draining out of the world. A lone figure stood atop the pinnacle. Teclis. His arms stretched wide, drawing in the erratic magic.

Spires had drawn out the wheel of magic on the ground. Eight sections, each with its own sigil, were separated out, depicting the different winds of magic. In the middle of the circle a smaller circle was laid on top of the eight sections. In it a crescent moon shaped rune was drawn. High magic. The combination of all eight winds, and yet more then the sum of the parts.

"Spires, it's time to start hurrying," Bob said. "Teclis looks awfully busy up there."

"Quiet," Spires said. "We only get one chance here. And if we get it wrong, we will be sucked into The Vortex ourselves."

Finally, Spires stepped back, admiring the mandala. "Done. Fire up the power stones," he said to Bob.

Bob took out four glowing, deep blue, glassy stones and placed them at the four cardinal points of the mandala. Light flowed from the stones along the lines dividing the sections until the whole circle lit up. Slowly, the eight sections started glowing in different colours. Red for the lore of fire, green for the lore of life and so on. When they sections reached their full luminescence, the central part of the mandala began to emit pure white light.

Spires leaned forward, careful not to disturb the mandala. In the central circle, he placed the Null Stone. As he did so, the flow of The Vortex started to shift. Strands of magic drifted down towards the mandala and were once more removed from the world. The ground shook. Then, inch by inch, the central pinnacle started to shift towards the mandala.

High above, Teclis noticed them. As the mage turned around and looked over the edge, a bright red strand shot out into the sky above. In the mandala, the red section went dark. The lore of fire had escaped.

Teclis cast a spell, throwing down a glimmering net which bound them to the ground. Then he started a counter spell, grinding the pinnacle to a halt. The light in the mandala started fading. Again Teclis started gather the winds of magic to himself. The bright yellow quadrant, matching the lore of light started flickering. The trembling of the ground increased.

Spires managed to free one of his hands from the net. He swept out his sword and cut through the strands of the web, freeing them from the web binding them. In the mandala, the yellow quadrant went dark. High above, Teclis's staff lit up bright and yellow as the lore of light bound itself to it. Around them, the wind started raging. Small pebbles shook loose from the pinnacle.

"Bob, another set of power stones!" Spires yelled over the wind. "We need to get the ritual going again!"

Bob grabbed into his bag, placing four more stones in the mandala. The mandala became brighter once more. The pinnacle started moving towards it again. Teclis threw out his arms as if to hold of a large boulder. Another jet of colour, this one bright blue, shot out. In the mandala, the light of the lore of heavens went out. Another wind had escaped. The tremors intensified.

The pinnacle ground to a halt. Teclis drew his arms back and cast them forward again. A burst of pure white light flew down towards them, threatening to engulf the whole hollow. Spires reacted by instinct. He grabbed his sword in both hands. Placing one foot forward, he struck out the sword, catching the light blast.

The world froze in place. Teclis and Spires stood entranced in a battle of wills. Teclis tried to make his blast strike home. The force of the blast ground Spires back, his feet sliding over the gravelly ground. Spires pushed back with all his might. With great effort of will, he took a step forward, placing his left foot in the quadrant of the mandala that had belonged to the lore of fire.

The recoil of Spires's push unbalanced Teclis for a moment. Spires wrenched his sword downward and struck it, through the Null Stone, into the heart of the mandala.

The world exploded.

Spires, Teclis and the others were thrown of their feet. High above, the swirl of The Vortex lashed outwards, the remaining winds separating into individual strands. They spiralled down the pinnacle and back up again.

An earthquake now shook the island. Everywhere, boulders started falling. Sink holes appeared in the ground.

"No!" A long wail from Teclis high up on the pinnacle. He got back up and started wrestling with magical winds circling the pinnacle.

"We have to get out of here!" Anlar'Sel yelled. "The whole island is collapsing!"

"Yes!" Spires said. "Nothing more we can do here!"

The world around them started sinking. The ground shook. Water spilled out of cracks in the ground.

"At least Teclis's plan failed." Spires said. "Time to start running."

****
Epilogue

Spires stood at the prow of the Benevolence. They were sailing towards the rising sun. Around them the debris of the Asur civilisation floated. They were passing over what used to be the border between Eataine and Saphery.

Both now lay many fathoms below them. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Vortex the whole of Ulthuan had sunk. A violent tempest had spread out, huge waves tossing ships around like they were leaves in a breeze.

Most of the first Colonial Army had made it back to the Benevolence.

Bob walked up to Spires. "I've asked you this before, not that long ago. Where do we go from here?"

"Home."

"And after? Most messages we've received place Malekith in Athel Loren with what remains of the elven race."

"You have seen what those remnants are capable of. To be Asur is to strive for the good of the Ever Empire and ultimately the world. Not to degrade into savage civil war where you forget all that is right and good. And not to destroy everything sacred in an attempt to gain godlike powers.

No, those elves in Athel Loren are not Asur."

"Then what?"

"There is only one place left where the memory of the Ever Empire lives on. Where its ways and traditions are kept," Spires said. "In the Colonies we will honour that memory and prove to the world that there are still Asur."

"The elves in Athel Loren have no more claim to us then did the Druchii of old," Spires continued. "When they destroyed The Vortex and sank Ulthuan they reneged that claim. So, we will go it alone. The Colonies will reform to be Ulthuan in Exile. We will keep to the old ways and continue the fight against chaos."

"And the others?" Bob asked.

"They get a hand of friendship. No more. What they do with it is up to them."

Fin

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:20 pm 
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Brilliant stuff, Rod! =D>

For what it's worth, Prince Orchaldor agrees with Spires: "To be Asur is to strive for the good of the Ever Empire and ultimately the world... we will keep to the old ways and continue the fight against chaos." Certainly, Orchaldor intends to keep up the fight against the oncoming darkness, and if he finds friends and a place to operate from in the colonies, then so much the better! As long as the world doesn't get totally destroyed in a fit of chaotic nerd rage, all is good! :?

On the other hand, I hope no elven Loss Adjusters are reading this chronicle, because from an insurance company point of view, Spires' interference may just have caused Ulthuan to sink, and I wouldn't want to pick up the tab for that!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:04 pm 
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So in the end Headshot was right, Spires did it.

I'm impressed by the dichotomy between Spires' almost gallant reasoning for opposing Teclis and the cold calculating advantage won from the unraveling of the Vortex and the sinking of Ulthuan. It still leaves the reader wondering if Spires is a hero or a master of real politick or both. Very well done, ties the story together wonderfully and is a real fitting piece on your character.

Thoroughly enjoyable. Intrigue at court writ large, very nice.

=D>

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 11:11 am 
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Hahah not only did spires ruin the grand scheme, he made teclis look incompetent in his own camp lol. Great read.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:47 pm 
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Spires did it! Hiding behind the scene. That explains all. Too bad there is no chance of another go on preventing the destruction. Maybe tickling Teclis would work even better? :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 12:55 am 
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Does anyone else suspect that when the door closes on his private chambers at the end of the night, Spires puts his hands together Monty Burns style and exclaims 'excellent'?

Cause I do.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:57 am 
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Thanks for all the kind words. It's great to hear that people read what I've written and that they actually like it :)

It was by far the biggest piece of writing I've attempted, though it didn't start out that way. The tale grew in the telling (if I can borrow the expression from a real writer...). There were a bunch of challenges when writing and a fair few surprises for me along the way. For instance, Anlar'Sel started out as a minor character who was only supposed to have a handful of lines just before the bubble. But somehow he shouldered his way to the front of the story.

I knew where the story would start and what the eventual outcome would be when I started writing. The sinking of Ulthuan at least was inevitable as an outcome. And Spires would not side with Malekith. But all the pieces in the middle were obscure. I had no clue for instance how I would deal with Teclis or the destruction of the Vortex even as Spires got off the ship on the Isle of the Dead.

In the end, the conclusion is that yes, Spires did it. Which is as much a surprise to me as to anyone else (except for Headshot I guess, he knew all along of course...). I have been led to believe by Spires that the other possible outcome, Teclis controlling all magic, would have been an even worse outcome. But whether that is true or not, I leave to everyone to decide for himself (herself). After all, the Monty Burns image Makiwara paints for Spires is pretty correct I think. I'm just a humble chronicler.

All in all, it was a real joy to write this piece. And we'll see if in the future Spires has more stories he wants to have told.

Rod

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:49 am 
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Well he's got the Book of the Rhana Dandra for a little while yet and there's that whole original Phoenix Crown thing to go get...

Get at it.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:59 am 
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I have decided to rewrite this story and take it out of the warhammer universe. For anyone interested, I've put the first part up on my (brand new and shiny) writing blog: The Prince of Spires – Apocalyps I.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:34 pm 
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It reads well Rod.

:)

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:23 am 
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Thanks. Glad you liked it. I actually really enjoyed rereading it and then rewriting it. It has been 4 odd years since I last read it and it was great to run into the different twists and turns again. I had forgotten a fair bit of it :)

Next part will be up Wednesday :)

Rod

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:42 pm 
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Part two is now up: The Prince of Spires – Apocalyps II - War by committee

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:30 pm 
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So he has to get past all this intrigue before he even gets a look at his enemies. Life is never simple for a High Elf is it?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2019 10:30 am 
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Nope, it never is. I think that if I would completely rewrite the story, I would go into the intrigue at court here a bit more. There's a great potential for conflict there. As it stands, the story flow is still dictated a fair bit by the end times chronology.

I'm at the moment writing another story (one featuring Manhir) that started in an independent world, but it somehow moved to the Prince of Spires realm. So I'll definitely start adding more to it. And I'm fairly certain that Spires will get another story at some point. Or at least, the colonies. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:17 am 
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Next part is live: Spires – apocalypse III - Crossing the mountains

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:27 am 
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At first I feared it would be like the Battle of Trasimene but it turned out somewhat more spooky.

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