Ulthuan, Home of the Asur
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2005 9:59 am
Posts: 654
Location: South of the Equator
Just a little something I cooked up to set the stage for my army. Nothing special. Still need to find a good name for the story/army.

Prologue - Riders on the storm

The fog was thick tonight, dense gray banks shrouding the island, blanketing the landscape in great swathes. It covered field and valley, muffling sound, obscuring sight. Here and there, fire-fly glows betrayed the presence of homesteads or settlements, their lanterns lit against the night. A larger collection of glows huddled together deeper into the interior, a town shuttered tightly. The mist rolled north, enveloping the forested lower slopes, whispering through the creaking pines. Only the rocky peaks of the northern shore halted its advance, seemingly islands themselves, adrift in a nebulous sea.

Far to the south, a lone spire pierced the endless grey, Watchmaster Thuriel shivered uncomfortably, drawing his cloak tighter about him. His station atop the slender tower was cool at the best of times. Tonight, with the waves pounding far below and the damp mist already coiled halfway to where he was standing, it was decidedly cold. To the north, the cold glitter of the stars and the slight bite in the breeze promised a harsh winter. Snow was already forming on the northern mountaintops.
He completed another circuit of the sentinel's balcony, silently acknowledging the subordinates stationed along the tower perimeter as he passed. Above him, the crystal dome crowning the tower sparkled and flashed against the velvet sky, coruscating shapes and colours forming and disappearing continuously. No doubt Mistress Eliane was still awake, scrying the heavens and the weaves of fate itself.
Thuriel shivered again, and this time it was only partly because of the cold. He realised the significance of the light show happening above him, the vital role mages such as Eliane played in keeping the seething realms of Chaos at bay, and he did not envy her. Too young to bear such a burden, to wrestle with the threads of magic daily... Rather the cold and drudgery of the graveyard watch for him.
Everyone has their duty.
Casting another eye across the hopelessly impenetrable quagmire all around him, he sighed.
Tonight though, mine is perhaps useless. I can't see anything in this damn... Wait.
He frowned, pausing in his circuit. Far to the west, flashes of lightning had appeared, brilliant streaks highlighting the dark roiling clouds around them. That wasn't what had given Thuriel pause. Late summer storms were not uncommon after all but this... The storm was moving far too rapidly, speeding towards the isle. Far out to sea, Thuriel could see the mist being pushed before the storm, a west wind shredding the seemingly solid fog.
This is no natural storm.
He moved towards the railing, unslinging and extending the fine eyeglass issued to all masters of the watch, and brought the crystal lens to his eye. For a moment, he cast about, his vision filled with white banks, then dark clouds, then the horizon. Steadying his gaze, he swept the telescope methodically from left to right, until...
Sails. A score or more.
He collapsed the eyeglass with a snap.
“Darael.” His voice was calm, carrying clearly to the soldier stationed further along the balcony. “Raise the alarm.”
High above, patches of shadow danced ominously across the dome.

“I knew we should have taken on that weather worker in Marienburg. This is magery or I'm a beardless Dawi,” Ellior said ruefully as the wind whipped at his cloak, snapping at the sails above and behind him. Under him, Mist Walker's deck pitched and rolled as she surged ahead of the wind, her bow slicing through the growing swell.
“At least we're making good time!” Anaris clapped him jovially on the shoulder, his face wet with spray.
“Besides, we both know that hedge mage was more trouble than he was worth. How is Wanderer holding up?”
He gestured to port, where Ellior's own hawkship, Twilight Wanderer gamely held pace with Mist Walker.
Ellior made a face.
“Better than this tub I'd wager. Rythian just hailed me. Some ripped sail, snapped ropes, a few injuries. Same as here. He'll swing in to pick me up as soon as we signal him.”
The younger elf nodded. It was a risky maneuver, but one they had performed many times before. Besides, a ship needed its captain.
“We'd better start then. This weather is getting worse fast. The plan is set then?”
“Set. We'll follow you in. But if this storm breaks before we hit port, or if that mystical island of yours isn't there...”
He didn't need to finish.
Anaris smiled grimly.
“It will be there old friend.”

Chapter 1
"How long?"
Falondin's expression was thoughtful as he gazed to the west, Thuriel beside him. Behind them, the towerwas lit by the first rays of sunrise, but ahead, the skies were almost as black as they had been hours ago when the ships had first been spotted. The magical stormfront stretched across the horizon, the fleet heedlessly riding its howling winds.
Thurien shrugged.
"If they stay on course and the wind holds...tomorrow at the latest I'd say. Perhaps this night. But my lord, the wards... We may not be their target."
A short barked laugh.
"Of course we are their target. There's nothing close that would be a prize for a reaver fleet of that size. Ulthuan is too far to the south, the human lands too far east. No. Our dark kin have found us somehow."
"Can we hold them my lord? Until reinforcements arrive?"
Falondin's tone was somber. " We have to try. The carrier hawks are away, along with magical missives. All we can do is hold, and hope. But help is far, and may not get here in time."
"And our lady...?"
"...is doing everything that she can. Even now she wrestles to find us a path to the future.
He cast a last gaze out to sea before turning away. "Keep me informed of developments here. I must see to our preparations." His eyes were drawn to the dome, black as midnight, cold blue pinpricks of light winking in and out of existence inside it.
Eliane...I hope you find that path. We will surely need it.

Eliane was heedless of the world, her feet walking on paths no map could find, her witch sight filled with colours and shapes no painter could conjure. Far above her, as she reckoned things, the crystal dome held unswerving constellations, each pinprick of light a beacon of energy guiding her as she walked the skeins of fate, mile after mile of twisted destiny and possible futures. She was tired beyond belief, her footsteps faltering, and yet she knew that she must push on. To find something, anything, except the all-enveloping darkness that lay at the end of every path she had walked. Every future she scryed had held only death for her home, despoiled by the coming dark, but perhaps this one... The path was almost at an end, its thread burning bright as the evening star. This was it. This was...
Her sight turned dark again, as it had every time before, her mind assailed by visions of terror and bloodshed. Black clad spectres racing across green fields, proud warriors fighting, dying. Homes burning, cruel laughter, the duty and pride of millennia brought to dust... The blinking lights of the dome above her winked out one by one.
She fell to her knees gasping, wrenched back into reality by the horror of the future. Clutching weakly at her staff as the magic left her, she fought to bring her breathing under control. The otherworld faded into the white marble floor of her observatory, smooth and pristine. The dome, now merely high above her instead of infinitely far, remained dark, the pinpoints of life it had shown snuffed out by the inevitability of the future.
She couldn't do it. She had nothing left in her. There was no point, no future which offered hope. No paths left to walk.
"I can't find it. I can't find it..." Her whisper was barely audible. She felt like crying, but she was too exhausted to move, to think, to do anything but collapse on the hard marble into exhausted sleep.
Above her, unheeded, a splash of colour flashed into existence, like some bird of pure energy. Weak at first, it pulsed stronger, swirling wings of turquoise dancing on the smooth crystal. Here and there, the stars started to come out.

"My lord!"
Falondin looked up as a breathless Thurien barged into his office. He put down the message which had just arrived.
At least the kin bands stand ready. We will need their axes.
"What is it Thurien?"
"More sails my lord! To the southwest. I...I think you should see this."

"There my lord!"
As Thurien gestured, Falondin swung the eyeglass slowly out to sea, easilly glimpsing the newcomers. Closer than the druchii ships. Much closer.
"Hawkships." His voice was incredulous. "But how?"
"Surely our calls for aid have been answered!" The watchmaster's voice was filled with hope.
Impossible. Not in a few hours. And no free ship even knows our location.
Falondin frowned, focusing on the lead ship, its sails stretched to the limit as it bravely fought to stay ahead of the storm. Its pennant was still too far away to see any heraldry.
Just who are you? And how did you know we were here?

What happened to you Ulthuan? You used to be so cool... :(

Last edited by Elaithnir on Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:14 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:55 am
Posts: 622
Location: Greece
Very nice fluff mate. Nice job! :D

My Art Blog: Valleys of Eternity
Mage Knight Guild

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:15 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2005 9:59 am
Posts: 654
Location: South of the Equator
Thanks. :) Look for the next chapter on Sunday. I'm trying to set the scene for my tournament army!

What happened to you Ulthuan? You used to be so cool... :(

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