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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:16 pm 
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Rainbows
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Larose wrote:
They are like angry children, if they can't have it no one can!
It is just that they have bad aim. Multiple shot penalty. :mrgreen:

Such a long discussion and 'no one' mentioned Caledori warriors are also the paragon of nobility yet? Strange, but then perhaps they can't count. Dragons can be counted on one hand these days.
And I am not a little curious what our house was brewing up with Spires.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:55 pm 
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Probably more scum and villainy. But what else can you expect from anyone that's not from Caledor these days :roll:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:49 pm 
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You'll find out soon enough...

(which is a mysterious way of saying I have no idea either but I hope to find out)

Rod

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:22 pm 
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Malossar wrote:
Probably more scum and villainy. But what else can you expect from anyone that's not from Caledor these days :roll:
Yes, Caledor always held moral high ground. Not very fertile though. :mrgreen: But I see you divested of the Dragonborne epithet. :shock:

@ Rod, no doubt they made some kind of a 'statement' to the noble company at the 'nup-chill' party by arriving in this way.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:42 pm 
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Aicanor wrote:
Malossar wrote:
Probably more scum and villainy. But what else can you expect from anyone that's not from Caledor these days :roll:
Yes, Caledor always held moral high ground. Not very fertile though. :mrgreen: But I see you divested of the Dragonborne epithet. :shock:

@ Rod, no doubt they made some kind of a 'statement' to the noble company at the 'nup-chill' party by arriving in this way.



End times fluff i'm working on and since the army I'm actually bringing to the table is based off the host and Sir Headshot's writing I felt it appropriate.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 7:51 pm 
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@Larose

Bah! It is only Tiranoc! Who cares?!

As Palin'Tanith told me once:

"Anything - and anyone! - south of the Annulis, can kiss my…."


@Cal

Sounds interesting! Is it the Nagarythe force you told me about? Or one based on the 'amigos'? Something else entirely??

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ps hope you are enjoying the new Mal! :wink:

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 8:56 am 
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I'm only a month late hey, welcome back Chronicler. I've been keeping up with the End Time releases, and as we get closer to the next book I'm increasingly getting more, and more, worried about Ulthuan. Some of the things I've been hearing have been horrible. I fear for Athel Anarhain, Ar Yvrellion matters not at all, but my ancestral forest is already plagued by daemons, I do not want Druchii too. Heh seems my quote from Tim is most apt at the moment.

It's about time the engagement happened, been dilly-dallying on that for far too long, maybe it's too late.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:29 pm 
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Headshot wrote:

@Cal

Sounds interesting! Is it the Nagarythe force you told me about? Or one based on the 'amigos'? Something else entirely??

headshot

ps hope you are enjoying the new Mal! :wink:


I'll have to take some decent pics and send them to you. But the gangs all there! the SP is a Loremaster with the book of hoeth. Mal is currently a Reaver bow prince (my claim is he's studying with his shadow walker on how to actually lead the Host since you know... the whole fall from grace ;)) Annalyth is there as my high mage. Lots of shooting lots of movement. Seems to be doing alright!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 6:24 pm 
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@Tiralya

Good to see you, T! I was worried. :D

And are you sure that Elessehta is ready to leave the noble ranks of bachelors?? (You know, there is a Shadow Warrior standing right there. He can help Ele climb over the palace wall and escape into the forest. :wink: )

@Cal

Mal beat up Tim and took his bow?! Wow. Big meanie. :evil:

Though this brings to mind another thing Tanith once said:

"Caledorians know archery?!"


:)

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 1:01 am 
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Dude, I worked out that my name backwards would be a lovely name for a beautiful, dark haired little girl. I think I need something other than just my home to fight for hey.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 1:11 pm 
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Figured it had to be Mal since ones keep popping up on the to hit dice.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 2:23 pm 
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Malossar wrote:
Figured it had to be Mal since ones keep popping up on the to hit dice.
Harmonic Convergence can fix that hey.

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These may be the last days of the Asur, but if we are to leave this world let us do it as the heroes of old, sword raised against evil!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:03 pm 
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Part 5 –


The Prince of Spires’ eyes sifted through the mingling crowds.

Lord Ollonon was there. Though his wife was conspicuously absent. His mistress, however, was standing prominently nearby. And wearing the family’s heirloom platinum brooch.

Interesting.

There were the twin sons of Lady Avarial. Both boys were fresh into their adulthood, tall, handsome and proud of bearing. Scions of a Great House, ready to carry an ancient legacy into new dawns. And both boys were rumored to partake of the Black Spice. Yes. There was the telltale shaking of the hands.

Fascinating.

There were many representatives of the Hansean League tonight. He counted four just within his field of vision. That collective of Inner Kingdom merchants was one of the most powerful in Ulthuan. And they seemed to be meeting with Yvressi shipwrights. Yes. By the third such pairing he decided that it was improbable to be coincidence. Mathematics dictated otherwise. They were planning something.

Curious.

The Hansean League was of the Inner Kingdoms, but only four of them. Caledor was absent of course. The Prince of Spires’ eyes shifted once more to a space on the other side of the dancing couples. He could see the scarred face of the Dragon Lord there, glowering. Yes, Caledorian aristocrats were unique among Asur: they did not disassemble their emotions. Mighty knights who spoke what they thought, indeed. But poor merchants. That one there’s enmity was so obvious as to be a roaring bonfire.

Obvious and predictable.

Many years ago he had managed to read a copy of the ancient eddic verses called the ‘Book of the Dragonthorne’: the cornerstone of Caledorian tradition. The customs and rules of Caledorian chivalry were laid out in remarkably straightforward manner within….making them quite calculable.

He raised his glass of wine to the distant figure. The Caledorian’s face darkened.

But there were other matters to attend to now….

His eyes went to the courtyard, and the stewards standing there. A thought.

He turned and walked a few paces. “Was that greeting in the courtyard of your design, dearest?” he asked calmly.

Princess Aicanor had worn the strapless emerald gown that night. It revealed her alabaster shoulders in a manner quite pleasing. Her long midnight hair was done up in a complicated coif on top of her head; only a single irreverent wisp drooped down to touch the throat and nape of neck – a splash of black on that ivory loveliness.

She did not turn to face him. “Do not call me that,” she said coolly. Then after a silence of a few seconds, “No.”

He smiled thin-lipped. Not her then. Possibilities began to flood his mind.

But…he was distracted. By her distraction. She was ignoring him – as usual – but her eyes were fixed on something with hard and clear interest. He looked up and followed her gaze. He saw a young elf maiden standing in conversation. She wore Irian’s colors about her throat and waist.

The…cousin… was it? The Seeker. And the Broker.

And she was standing speaking with someone. The crowd parted a moment later allowing him clear view of a tall, gawky figure: the Nagarathi.

Strange to find one here. It was very curious that one would be tolerated, let alone invited to the gala. There was history there between Elessehta and the northerners. A history that should be learnt. This one was of the Western Romani. Yes, the clan markings were there to be read in hair and cloak - by anyone with the knowledge. (As he had.) The Romani were…he searched his memories…famed trackers and hunters of the Northerners. Descendants of the rural peasants of Nagarythe’s hills, and not the more urbane city dwellers. A clear cultural divide existed between them and their lowland brothers even before the Sundering. And now, so he had heard, they still stood outside the ruling clans. A shunned group huddling in the cataclysmic ruins of the broken ravines and shattered magus stones of the western reaches of the Shadowlands.

A peasant among savages. And yet…judging by Elessehta’s speech, this one was in HIS inner circle….

And perhaps that could be put to use….


***

“What do you think?” Ailana asked.

Tim’s eyes were wide and he shook his head slowly. “That cake…. It’s bigger than my mum’s cottage!”


***


There was blood in her mouth again. She must have bit her tongue. And the back of her head felt… soggy. But whether that was more blood or just wet snow she was afraid to check. Instead she gingerly sat up: the world stayed where it was supposed to be – it didn’t wobble at crazy angles. (At least not too much.)

The…newcomer. The dark elf. Whatever he was…. Was standing there at the edge of the precipice, framed by the blazing ruins of the Lattice. She winced in pain at the sight of the wreckage of one of the most beautiful expressions of the Asur spirit. It had stood thousands of years, untouched by war and time. Now, in the span of a few minutes, it was gone. But there was nothing she could do; and no time to grieve. She stood up slowly and placed one hand upon a hip, surreptitiously bringing it closer to the Shakri hanging on her vest, and faced the newcomer.

“You are the prince of Nagarythe?” she challenged.

The elf didn’t acknowledge her words: he remained facing the inferno, framed by its flickering light, his face inscrutable. Until, finally, he uttered, “Yes.”

“Why are you in Tiranoc?” she asked.

Still without turning, the elf’s eyes stayed fixed upon the raging flames. More of the Lattice was collapsing under its own weight, snapping off like kindling, and falling into the cataracts below.

“I saw a future,” the elf’s voice came out low, almost a whisper. “That is why I am here.”

She frowned. “What do you-“

She was interrupted by the sounds of the boy writhing upon the ground. “Ach! My hand!” he wailed. She turned and saw him kneeling upon the edge of his shield, one hand cradling the other. The fingers were splayed at unnatural angles. Khaine’s Blood, she thought, and got no further, for the elf prince had turned from the ravine and crossed over to the boy. He knelt beside him, and seizing one wrist, proceeded to push the fingers back into place. With each pop, the boy cried out, tears of pain in his eyes. But then the elf lord took the lame hand in both of his own, and simply held it, eyes closed. The boy’s whimpering abated, and there was surprise on his face.

“The pain is gone! I-“

The elf lord released the hand and the boy tested out his fingers by wiggling them in front of his face.

The Warden nodded. That was a useful trick. A decision was made.

“Well, it is good that you are here,” she said and turned and scanned the wreckage, then the forest beyond. “There is a Druchii raiding force here. Of unknown strength. But large enough to destroy an armed patrol. I fear there may be many more in these woods. We need help to face them.” She gnawed on her lip for a moment, then spat out some of the blood in her mouth. Eyeing the woods on this side of the rapids, she asked, “Where is your army?”

“Beyond the Eagle Gate, in Nagarythe,” the prince answered. “The Sentinels refused our passage. They did not want a large force of Nagarathi passing into Tirani lands. Ancient mistrusts linger,” he explained simply. “I came instead.”

She looked at him still kneeling there next to the boy. Tall and gaunt he may be standing, but crouched down like that he just seemed slender, near emaciated; an old elf folded in on himself. The armor that had seemed so striking on the bridge, now that she saw up close, was in tatters – covered with many rents and tears in steel chain and iron bands alike. The eyes were ancient however. They were devoid of iris and pupil alike, and black like a shark’s at feeding. The eyes watched her face, cold and passionless.

“So you are alone?” she finished grimly.

The elf lord stood. “No. We are three.” He reached down and helped the boy to his feet.

Three? Three against an army of dark elves?! Madness! She sighed and shook her head. Well, one did not become a Warden if one craved sanity. Or fair odds. Especially if one was a maiden of common birth seeking a position that by tradition was reserved for the menfolk vassals of the Great Houses. Yes, that had been a battle to get here. To become a Warden of the Tirani.

What’s a few more Druchii to the endless prejudice of Asur society? And, what choice did she have?

“Fine. Three it is,” she said. “We need to make for the village. We have to warn them.”

The Nagarathi shook his head. His black eyes were looking up, past the raging falls and to the plateau edge above. “I came from the village. The Druchii are not there.” He nodded towards the plateau. “They are headed inwards. Up the mountain.”

“Up the mountain?” the boy said with a puzzled look on his face. “But there is nothing up there! Except….”

“Except the Waystone,” she finished, her stomach sinking within her. “But what could the Druchii want with that?” she asked, confused and frustrated.

“I do not know.”

Nothing good, that was for certain, she thought, and gnawed more on her lip. She turned to the boy. “How? How can we get up there from here?”

The boy blinked and looked confused. It must have been a long and shocking day for him. When he rose that morning and took off for another routine patrol he must have had no idea of the horrors that waited for him. There must have been friends numbered among the slain. Elves he had probably known his entire life; such was the way of the small rural villages of northern Tiranoc. All dead, slain and broken… all in the span of one rising and setting of the sun.

But still, she had no time to coddle him. Whatever the Druchii were doing, they must be stopped. And…we three…were the only Asur warriors around for who knew how many miles. She snapped her fingers in front of his face. “How?” she repeated.

The boy frowned. “There is a path. From the old Stone Road. It leads up the mountain. There are steps there. Very old. The priestesses used to use them. But now they have fallen into ruin. There is only the one caretaker nowadays,” the boy finished, blinking once more.

“Can you guide us?” the Nagarathi prince asked. The boy hesitated a second then nodded.

“Then let us go,” she said and gestured for the boy to take the lead.


***


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:23 pm 
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A storm is growing fair shadow prince...

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:22 pm 
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Part 6 –


“Who is he?” the boy asked.

She swallowed the taste of blood in her throat. Her legs were so sore that they no longer burned; they were like dead, wooden things that responded clunkily to her commands. Already she had staggered and nearly fell twice. And that was not a good thing; she looked to her right – just past the edge of the crumbling marble steps, the Thaenulli river plummeted through the ruins of the Lattice and into the cataracts far below. The height was dizzying.

She paused to steady herself, wishing that the ancients had put a guardrail along the steps (Why not?!). And looked up to where the narrow shoulders of the Nagarathi warrior were just visible in the moonlight, past mist and falling snow. It was freezing here – even with her full cloak – every time she stopped as now her teeth went to chattering (and her poor pulpy tongue went to throbbing at the chatter). And yet that warrior had lost his cloak to the river below. He wore little more than a faded homespun shirt under the tattered meshing of his antiquated armor – she could see patches of alabaster skin where shirt and armor alike had been torn open, and his arms were bare to the elements. And yet he didn’t seem to feel the cold; just climbed, one long leg ahead of the other, with his greatsword gripped in hand to keep it steady across his back.

Perhaps it was true? That the elders – those of the ancient stock – did not feel the elements as we moderns do? That those who once could walk across the snow without leaving the slightest footprint, felt the falling ice not. Their breath steamed the air but they were kept warm inside by the light of Asuryan, and could live on nothing but the dew of the honeysuckle blossom….

And she wanted bandages, fresh boots, a large meal of mash with venison…oh and a warm bed, most of all. And she wanted it right now. But she fought those thoughts down.

Looking up once more she wondered how old was this Nagarathi warrior?

“He is the Shadow Prince of Nagarythe,” she answered the boy. “I know very little about him. Only rumors and hearsay. Legends leavened with gossip.”

“He looks like a Druchii,” the boy said sour faced, as he struggled to keep his shield in position on his shoulder.

She grunted at that and forced her wood-leg up one step, praying that her knee wouldn’t lock up again. Ah! There! One more step done! Only a few…hundred… to go.

Curse the ancients and there lack of guardrails….

To divert herself she said, “The Nagarathi are all cutthroats, and arrows from the dark. And he is their king. Or something close to it.” She spat and could see bright crimson sprinkled across the snow. “Bah! It is all stories, as I said. Just tales whispered over ale and warmed wine in taverns late at night.”

“What do they say?” the boy asked curiously. He paused to catch his breath, giving her the excuse to do likewise. She wiped her brow and was surprised to see sweat on the back of her hand. She didn’t feel warm at all. She tightened the cloak about her shoulders, and swallowed yet more blood.

Talking, despite the pain, got her mind off the rest of her suffering. She cast her mind back to those hazy, smoke filled tavern rooms. The sound of the windmill in the background. The drip-drip of the water clock in the forest beyond. Laughter and singing in the common room below. The air in the pines….

“There is a story,” she began, “told among the Wardens of Tiranoc. From a time before the Great War.”

She paused to lessen the throbbing in her tongue. Her mind wandered to those memories of the War. She had been young then. Just a maiden in the militia. A soldier of the Levy in all but name…because no maiden of the Asur could take up arms for their country. But the Druchii did not care whom they slaughtered when they came to a village with torch, blade and slavers’ chains. So, as the other maidens of her village, she had taken up her hunting bow and knife, and went to the glen just beyond the village to fight them. They had lost. And the memories afterwards…were not pleasant. But somehow, out of all those maidens, she had survived. Survived the battle. Survived the brutal captivity. Escaped into the forests she had known so well as a little girl hunting and running wild despite her father’s protestations. She had lived. Lived to fight another day.

And fight she had.

Now she was here. She brought her mind back to the events of the day, with a regret. It was so easy for one of the people to lose themselves in the taysara’telan – the ‘reverie’ – when days past were as fresh as the clouds after a summer storm. So vivid. She shook her head.

“The story goes that a Druchii raider captain was captured by a Warden patrol. But only after he and his warriors had managed to take the children of the local lord,” she explained. “The Druchii had been cut off from their vessel and were hiding with the captives somewhere in the mountains. But the prisoner would not talk. No matter what threats the Wardens plied. No matter how… cruel the interrogation became. The Druchii only laughed.”

She paused to shiver and feel the misery of her body again. One more wooden leg thrust forward. One more step taken. The boy followed along, clearly possessed of her story. He seemed oblivious to the cold and exhaustion, and she suddenly envied him his youth and strength. “What happened?” the boy asked eyes wide.

She swallowed. There was less blood. She hoped that was good. “A Seeker arrived. He dismissed all those from the room and went to speak with the prisoner alone. But Wardens are by nature a curious lot, and some stayed without, listening at the door.”

“And?” the boy prompted at her pause.

“And, so the story goes, there was silence in the room. The Wardens could hear the rattling of the chains, and the sound of a chair being drawn across the floor. They say the Seeker pulled the chair directly in front of the prisoner, and sat down. Though how they would know that…. Anyways, the story goes that in the silence that followed the Wardens could suddenly hear the Seeker’s voice. He said only one sentence….” She paused to take another step.

“What was it?” the boy said, eyes now as large as saucers.

“The Seeker said, ‘Tell us what we want to know, or we will place you beyond the Eagle Gate, for the Shadow Prince to claim’.” She shook her head.

“What happened then?”

“They say that the Druchii traded the information for the promise of a quick death at the headsman’s block.”

“Lileath’s Grace!” the boy whispered and looked up to the thin disappearing figure above them. “Could that story be true?”

“Who knows? It is just an old story, told by old Wardens, from before the War.”

The boy was still eyeing the elf lord above them. “Just how old is he?”

She struggled as she took another step. She would rest when she reached the top. She promised herself. But not for long. They had no time. The Druchii would not wait.

“I do not know.” She wiped the cold sweat from her brow and neck. “They say there has always been a Shadow Prince of Nagarythe. But then, they say a lot of things. Who knows the truth of the matter? And…it is not of the Tirani. It is of the Shadowlands. The less we think about it, the better.”



***


Last edited by Headshot on Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:52 am 
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Ha Druchii cowardice at its finest! And this Tirani survivalist is a rather captivating character, surely worthy of upcoming heroics and not doomed to the misfortunes and madness that my Tirani were subjected to lol :?

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:39 pm 
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Quote:
“Was that greeting in the courtyard of your design, dearest?” he asked calmly.
I remember Aicanor told him he can wait for the End Times for her to even consider this offer... oh wait! :lol:

Things are looking grim indeed.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 7:12 pm 
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@Aicanor

Hah! Well to be honest with you, I had no idea about the impending end of the world until people started talking about it here. (The end referred to in the title is Spite's.) So this story will have to be considered a 'historical tale' of the old Ever Empire. And what may happen between Aicanor and company at those bleak end times is yet to come. Certainly a problem not for Spite, but for Shadow Prince Regret.

As an aside, it is rather strange to chronicle this now knowing that Tim's tales are from a world lost to the Asur. The places he told me about now deep beneath the sea, sentenced to a watery grave alongside Palin'Tanith. Telling this tale is a bittersweet, wistful act. And the knowing threatens to drain the energy out of my lowly quill, forestalling the finishing of this little tale. It is sad to realize that the world has moved on….

And yet, perhaps that wistful longing for a lost past - a hazy vision from a silver dawn - is the most perfect expression of the 'High Elf'? And what it means for us.

Well, anyways, the show must go on. And Nagarythe may be lost, but it won't be forgotten!

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:00 pm 
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I am sure this is nothing but a slight inconvenience to the Nagarathi. Nagarythe is where they are and as I think of it, the Nagarathi Romani dwellings are not susceptible to going underwater. These are still there somewhere, floating in the mists. Which reminds me I have my own story to write and so preserve some of the memory in truth, the reminder of what had been (or better, two stories).
Malekith betrayed us once, never again will we trust him.

Looking forward to read this story although... not the end.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:30 pm 
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@aicanor

I look forward to reading those stories. And here's hoping that you, Larose, and the other chroniclers have some space to spare for the Nagarathi diaspora. I would love to learn who survived and where they wound up! :)

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:32 pm 
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Part 6 continued –


She lay on her belly in the tree-line at the edge of a snow covered meadow.

“They’ve modified it somehow,” she said with a scowl. She could see the object of her ire clearly: a pair of the light Druchii ship-borne bolt throwers had been set up on a ridge with a clear line of sight on the meadow below. What bothered her was not only what she could see of the bolts – they were different somehow – but the line of Dark Elf archers that remained with the crews of the warmachines.

“We could try to move into the forest to the left. Perhaps we can find another trail,” the boy said doubtfully.

No time. No time. Her mind thought over and over again. She couldn’t make out the silver haired witch among the dark elves on the ridge. Whatever that witch was up to it wasn’t here. These elves were probably a rear guard force, meant to hold off any possible pursuit. Of whatever they were doing at the waystone! She ground her teeth in frustration.

The Nagarathi lord slowly stood up beside her. “I will draw their attention to the right. You two, flank left and prepare to attack the ridge on my signal.”

“But, ummm, my lord,” the boy said tentatively. “There is hardly any growth to the right! You will be seen!”

“Yes.” And he was gone.

The Warden glared and wondered not for the first time what this Nagarathi was up to. But then she grabbed the boy’s arm and hauled him to his feet. “Come. We have to make our way through the trees quickly. And silently!”

The boy started jogging behind her, seeming to rattle with every step, setting her teeth to grinding again. And as he rattled and huffed behind her he suddenly said, “Warden? How will he signal us?”

She continued into the forest at a crouch-run, her eyes flicking to the outpost above and in the distance. Swallowing she said, “Somehow, I think we will know.”


***

“Wine?”

Benn stopped and huffed and refused what seemed to be the tenth glass that some Yvressi servant had tried to pass off on him. “Sorry,” he grunted and tried to duck and weave his way around the proffered tray. “I-“

He stopped. There she was. “Annalyth!” he called and moved out towards her. The girl glanced back over her shoulder. Her face was as blank and pale as alabaster. “Annalyth, what are you doing over here? We couldn’t find you.”

The girl’s face drew up even tighter, her eyes shifted to the stairwell where two Yvressi marines stood guard in full uniform, lances held before them. “I need to get downstairs.”

“Downstairs? But why? They haven’t announced the dances yet. Commoners are not allowed!”

“I…I just need to! Please! I-“ the girl started to explain in a ramble. She stopped and her head shot around.

“What is it?!” Benn asked craning his neck to follow her gaze.

“That servant. I…I think I know her. But that’s impossible!” the girl said and her head started to swiveling, obviously looking for someone in the crowd.

“Lili,” she whispered.


***


The Warden waited at a crouch. The Druchii had been silent in the time it had taken them to reach this position in the trees to the left of the ridge. Asuryan be praised that the snow and wind had covered the sound of their approach, she thought, and once more sent a rebuking glare at the young Citizen Soldier beside her. But they were here, at last. And not a sight or sound of the Nagarathi.

She waited and tried not to let her teeth chatter. The pains in her body were a distant echo now. Forgotten, as the blood surged through her, getting her ready to fight or run. But now that she was waiting, and not moving, the cold seeped in and she could feel it piercing her like icy talons. She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment and opened them, forcing herself to focus on the Druchii warriors before her. She counted their number. Again. Thirteen. Outnumbered four to one. And she looked at the wicked crossbows in their hands, the heavy sabers and tulwars that rested on back and hip under the sea dragon cloaks. She stared at the warriors before her and marveled at how young they were. Under the skin drawings and ritual scarification it always struck her at how young the Druchii warriors were. Just fresh into their adulthood. Cheeks still the slight pinkish hue, eyes bright and lively. They should be sulking in front of the village school house at that age, trying to steal puffs of smoke weed, and not waging war….

But their bodies were powerful and trained. The eyes were already the hardened ones of experienced hunters. And the weapons in their hands were without a doubt deadly.

And yet still, she had to wage war on…children.

She looked to her side. The boy was of the same age. Is this what we have become? Asuryan’s children….a war of child killing child?

The Druchii before her suddenly started into action and one cried out. She looked out to the meadow: there he was, the Nagarathi lord, striding across the snow-strewn field. The Druchii brought their warmachines about, and the crew went into practiced motions of cocking the strings and crossbars. The large shaven headed commander eyed the approaching figure, still striding through the snow, one shoddy boot print at a time. Then the figure grinned, his teeth glowing in the moonlight.

“LOOSE!!”

The bolthrowers bucked under the force of the torsion held within. She saw the first half dozen of the hafts, each as long as a spear, fly out and across the meadow. She could see them wobble in the air – their heads were strange. Then the first one struck.

“Khaine’s Teeth!” she swore under her breath. Where the barb struck the ground erupted into a geyser of dirt and flame! “They’ve packed them with alchemist fire!! Gods help us!”

The alchemist fire! It burned with a heat even when doused in water. It was said the Druchii had invented it. It was a weapon they used on ships of war, and allowed their smaller lighter vessels to attack the larger more heavily armored warships of Ulthuan. But she had never had a chance to see it up close! She had thought it a problem of the fleet! And…it not only burned, it burst! The flames hit with the force of a witch’s fireball, shrieking with ear splitting sound as they tore the meadow to shreds.

She could not see the Shadow Prince anymore. Just flickering flames and smoke. But the Druchii had already loaded another volley. “LOOSE!!!”

The meadow burst into a spatter of flame and shrieking sounds.

“Load ‘em again!” the bald Druchii hollered. But there was nothing to be seen moving in the field. Nothing but flame and falling snow.

The Druchii waited, as did she and the boy. She gritted her teeth and glared, alternatively at the Dark Elves waiting and leering before her, and the meadow now ravaged into scorched dirt. There was nothing. No sign-

Wait. A tiny dark mote came up and over the ridge in a lazy flight. It tumbled down upon the ground next to the Druchii weapons. One of the Dark Elves bent over to pick it up. He held it up in the moonlight: an acorn. Just an acorn! And yet…

It was glowing blue!

There was a flash of burning cobalt light! She heard screams and then a panoply of secondary explosions as the Druchii ammunition went off in its cases. The sound buffeted her in its ferocity and she threw herself down, one hand protecting her head, the other pulling the boy next to her down. She heard more screams and then her eardrums were throbbing. She looked up, there was a smoldering crater where one of the machines had been, strewn with blackened bodies. The surviving Druchii were beginning to pick themselves up.

That leveled the odds. She pulled at the boy. “C’mon!” She shouted and started running through the trees. Pulling out a Shakri as she ran, she gave the trilling cry of the Tirani as she hurtled towards the Druchii.

But the Druchii were recovering. Weapons were being readied. The one closest her already had shield and sword in hand. She flicked her own hand and Shakri about, feigning a throw towards the face. The Druchii responded by lifting the shield, blocking his sight. That was the opening she needed. Ducking low she swung the Shakri out and behind, cutting at the warrior’s legs in the unarmored part behind the knees. There was a cry of pain, and the Druchii collapsed to one knee. His head bowed as he shrieked in agony with severed tendons. She stood and turned towards the exposed neck.

Then it was just the grim work of a butcher. Neck, artery, vertebrate, and steel. Blood splashed and bone crunched under the blows of the heavy Shakri hatchet-blade. Her hand was covered in red gore.

She turned to the next….


***


“Canape, sir?”

Benn blinked. The servant proffered the tray before him. “Each of these is made with the finest salmon of the rivers of northern Yvresse,” the serving girl explained with a pleasing smile on her face. “The fish are line caught and not farmed. Strong from their trials upstream.”

“But that couldn’t be Lili,” Annalyth was muttering to herself beside him. “It couldn’t be. Dressed as a servant?”

“I don’t know what you are-“

“And the cheese!” the servant continued. “It is from Saphery. Each cow is lullabied by silver harps played by only the purest of maidens beneath a silver moon. I am told it tastes like an offering from Lileath’s own table!”

It certainly looked tasty. But there was the problem of the fretting girl beside him. Annalyth was already making towards the stairs again.

“Well, perhaps one.” He grabbed one of the savory snacks and hurried after the girl.


***


She grunted and reversed the grip upon the Shakri, catching the falling tulwar across the blade’s edge, backed upon her forearm. It was bad for her knife – and not much better for her arm – but certainly preferable to what the Druchii sword would have done to her otherwise.

She could see the boy off to her right, trying to fend off the approaching Druchii with clumsy swipes of his sword from behind his raised shield. Three Druchii were circling him, like wolves about a wounded elk. She needed to help him. But there was the little matter of the two Druchii swinging blades at her. And two more, running up behind them.

Too many. Still too many.

Gods dammit!! Where was that-?!

There was whirring sound, and she saw a flickering motion within the hazy smoke. Then the largest of the three circling the boy uttered a short cry! A great blade had leapt from the smoke, striking him in the back and sent the warrior sprawling!

And a shadowy figure was sprinting out of the haze.

She pushed the Druchii away from her and dropped back into a low fighting crouch. But she couldn’t take her eyes away from the figure. The Druchii were aware of it now too, and were turning to face him with war cries upon their lips. The two left the boy, and swung their blades around, and…. The Nagarathi wasn’t there. A shoulder turned, and the blades swept up and over the space his head had just occupied. The Nagarathi’s hand reached out plucking the great blade from the slain warrior’s back. The elf lord turned and faced the two.

And it was over. The two were down! She had barely blinked before it happened. A pair of sweeps of the blade. Blood and shimmering light. And the Shadow Prince was moving towards the next.

She had fought along the Hoeth Swordmasters for a time. She recognized some of the motions, the forms, in the positioning of the Nagarathi’s blade and body. But it was different…more brutal…than anything she had seen among the Swordmasters. She thought, as the Nagarathi kicked the legs out of one Druchii sending him flying in the air, while a hand snatched out and seized the head, throwing it to the ground. The Dark Elf flipped and hit the ground head first, with a neck breaking snap.

There were only three now, all circling the Nagarathi lord. She grunted and charged towards the closest of the three, hurling her Shakri as she ran. The knife hit and managed to find a weak spot in the warrior’s mail. It sank into the flesh beneath the Dark Elf’s shoulder. She slammed into the figure, her own shoulder first, sending them both down upon the ground. She lay atop the prone elf, her hand upon the Shakri, forcing it inwards….

The screams hurt her ears. Then the silence.

She looked up. She could see the Druchii Corsair swinging both blades at the same time. The Nagarathi’s great sword tip down, blocking across the body. But another was coming up to him from the opposite side. Bringing a mighty scimitar about in a horizontal swing.

“Look out!” she yelled.

The Shadow Prince glanced. The scimitar was racing through the air. The Nagarathi’s knee shot up….

And the scimitar hit with a clang upon the iron greave at the front of his boot!

For one moment he was standing there, on one leg, hands bent overhead, holding the great blade across his body. He looked, for all the world, like an Eatani dancer in that moment, perfectly poised, body stretched. And then he kicked the one Druchii away and forcing the sword into the ground, where it stood like a lamp post, with his now empty hands he threw a quick punch into the face of the other, before grabbing the warriors armored collar and tossing him towards the other Druchii. The two slammed together in a tangle of mail and limbs. The greatsword was up and out of the ground and sweeping in a spin. It passed through both Druchii necks as they stood their entangled. The heads fell, and the bodies soon thereafter.

And it was over. No Druchii was left standing.

She was panting lying atop the body of the Druchii she had slain. She looked up as the elf lord approached her, his face blank. There was no bloodlust or thrill of battle in those eyes. Just…nothing. He helped her to her feet.

“Not bad,” she said between pants.

“For a Nagarathi,” she added after a moment.

The elf lord was striding away. “Come. This was only meant to delay us. We must hurry.” His strides turned into a run.

The boy staggered over to her, his face as white as a sheet and his arms shaking. “I… They were only trying to delay us? I… I thought they were trying to kill us!!”

She patted him on the shoulder and took off after the Nagarathi.



***


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 7:05 pm 
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Part 7 –


“We need to get past those marines and downstairs somehow,” Benn said awkwardly.

“You are going to crash the noble’s party?” Kayt asked, eyebrows raised.

“Whatever for?” Lysl fretted. (Though Alvan said, ‘Wow’ at the same moment.)

Benn looked at his feet, before returning her gaze. “Annalyth needs to get down there.”

“Benn,” Lysyl began with a note of warning. She had never approved of his relationship with Annalyth. He had thought it was just jealousy – he and Lysyl had once been an item – but the girl looked seriously concerned just then.

Justine ran a hand through one of her loose locks. “I could certainly distract the guards for you.”

“Thank you!” he said in relief.

“But, why should I do that? What’s in it for me?” she finished coolly.

Benn swallowed. The Sapheri girl was always focused on her own interests. “What do you want?”

“I want to go downstairs with you,” she smiled.

“But how-?”

“Find a way,” she said with folded arms.

Benn swore to himself, and frowned at his feet. But Kayt surprised him by saying, “Don’t worry Benn old boy. If Justine can lead them away I’ll delay their return long enough for her to catch up with the rest. I don’t need to see any nobles tonight. I’ve had my fill of them,” he shook his head rogue-ishly.

“Thank you,” Benn agreed.

“Then it is settled?” Justine prompted. “Fine. A pair of distracted Yvressi guards coming up.” She adjusted the bodice of her gown so that a great deal more skin (and curvature!) was showing, and stepped off in the direction of the stairwell.

“Try to talk about boats. Yvressi like boats,” Alvan called out after her. “And griffons!”


***


The old stone path turned and curved around back on itself before them, climbing up the side of the mountain overhead, and leading to a stone bridge that cut across the headwaters of the Thaenulli. The bridge was ancient, and built in the ‘viaduct’ style of Tiranoc – with a foundation of a series of juxtaposed high arches – but it still seemed sturdy.

And she could see a line of figures making their way across it.

The Warden stopped. Yes, there was the silver haired witch. And beside her the armored knight from the Lattice. They had caught up. The night was growing old now, and dawn was only an hour or two away, but they had finally caught up! She didn’t think she could take another step; her body felt like the cold ashes in a dead campfire. But there the Druchii were…just a hundred feet above.

She reached out and seized the arm of the Nagarathi beside her. He was already looking up at the bridge above, eyes inscrutable.

“What should we-?” she started to whisper.

“You have finally arrived!!” The witch’s face was beaming down at them from above. “I was worried that you wouldn’t make it in time. Time to see my triumph!!”

A pair of Shakri were in her hands and she was eyeing the stone of the bridge support arches. Could she perhaps climb them….? Only one way of finding out. She sheathed the knives and ran forward and threw herself at the nearest, and starting pulling herself up hand over hand.

“C’mon!!” she shouted over her shoulder while she looked for another gap in the stone.

She was still looking when she heard the witch cry, “I HAVE PREPARED SOMETHING FOR YOU! BEHOLD!!”

There was a rumble coming from out of the woods. A deep throaty recurring sound, like thunder trapped in a valley. She paused hanging there from the arch, eyes wide, scanning the trees before them. And there!! The darkness!! Something moved in the darkness!! A blackness greater than the night’s shadows! It was shifting and shimmering. She saw it grow as it drew near.

It was a darkness, and it was stalking them.

And then it stepped out onto the trail before them. She saw the talons first – the claws of a massive beast, curved and jagged like tearing scythes. They reached forward and cut at the stones of the path, snapping the cobblestones in two with each step. And then the black fur. A great shaggy mane of black fur, sweeping out low and in stringy tangles. It swept up and around the face like some knotted beard.

But it was the face that was unmistakable…. Strangely, there was something elf-like in the visage. A vague hint of the children of Asuryan in the bridge and brow. The mouth was delicate and curved, with the full lips of a noble. The eyes… The eyes were the black eyes of an ancient. Filled with wisdom, cunning, and malice beyond her ken….

Just like those of the one standing beneath her, she thought.

And then the thing roared, and the mouth became a cavernous maw filled with razor sharp teeth. Great bat-like wings swept out and covered the breadth of the road and into the pines on either side.

“By all the gods!! A manticore!!!” the boy wailed.

She hung on with one hand and reached down with her other to free a Shakri. The fear was running up and down her spine, threatening to drive her mad. She had to act now while she still could!

“GO!!” a voice cut through her panic. She looked: it was the Nagarathi lord. He was pushing the young soldier towards the bridge arches with one hand, the other reaching behind him towards the pommel of his greatsword. “GO!! CLIMB!! This foe is beyond any of you!”

The elf lord freed his sword and strode up the road towards the stalking beast.

“Wait!! What about-?” she called out after him.

He looked back at her, one last time, and his voice came out almost a whisper:

“Go.”

She looked down at the boy struggling to climb the arch. She reached down and seized his hand and helped him find purchase among the stones. Then she glanced back up. She could see the Nagarathi now further up the trail. And beyond him the almost gentle pace of the manticore, striding down the trail, its black eyes fixed on the elf lord before it. The beast slowed its pace, it wings flicked out to its side as its eyes narrowed and a sound, like the hissing of steam, escaped its throat.

And the Nagarathi lord dropped into a crouch, sword held out and ready to his side.

And he hissed right back.

She blinked. There was something. Almost like a recognition between those two pairs of obsidian eyes. A calmness almost….

She blinked again.

The manticore leapt. And suddenly the illusion was dispelled and she became aware of the massive weight and strength of the monster. A ton of muscle, sinew and scale, flew through the air with viper speed….

And slammed into the Nagarathi.

She saw the elf lord’s sword fly from his hand at the force of the impact. Saw it tumble through the air and fly off into the darkness in the trees. She saw the leap of the monster carry it forward and through the air. Saw the Nagarathi clamped in its jaws, being tossed about like a kitten might a rag toy. She heard the monster's roars as it thrashed forward and slammed into a mighty fir tree standing at the edge of the road. An ancient evergreen, thick as a column. One that had stood there for a thousand years of more. And at the force of the monster’s impact the center of the tree turned into splinters and the sounds of shattering wood!

Then the pair disappeared into the blackness of the forest beyond.



***


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:54 am 
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Well played Sir
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Location: Queensland, Australia
A manticore, heh I've seen him drop bigger monsters.

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Beastly member of The Mage Knight Guild.
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These may be the last days of the Asur, but if we are to leave this world let us do it as the heroes of old, sword raised against evil!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:00 pm 
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Part 8 –


He heard a clatter upon the stairs behind them. Benn turned and saw Justine racing down the steps, each tap of her stiletto heels causing the marble to ring out.

“They just wouldn’t stop talking about keels!” she said exasperated and out of breath as she caught up. “They just went on and on!”

“C’mon,” Benn whispered back, trying to hush the girl with the tone of his voice. “There’s no telling how long Kayt can delay their return. We have to hurry.”

He turned and made his way down the luxuriously appointed steps, the others of the little group following. All but Kayt who was hopefully somewhere above delaying the marines’ return. Even little Lysyl had decided to join their foray into the noble depths below. Though she looked a bit frantic now; glancing this way and that, as if some Caledorian lord would leap out from behind a vase and accuse them of regicide at any moment.

“OW!!” Justine cried in a voice that could shatter glass. Benn winced at the proximity of it (she was right behind him!). And rubbed his ear.

“What is it?!” he turned to her, wincing and not a little panicked.

The Sapheri girl held her arm out before her, a look of disgust on her face.

“I think I broke a nail!”


***


She sprinted through the darkness as fast as she dared. Her caution didn’t matter. She hit a patch of hard snow and slipped, going careening down the hill at a headlong roll, she finally came to a stop against the trunk of a tree on a stretch of frozen mud. She spat the foul stuff out of her mouth and got up on wobbly legs.

She had no time for this! No time! She should be following the witch. Even now the foul sorceress was drawing closer to the waystone, and whatever plan she had for the artifact. And according to the boy, there was naught up there but a single priestess keeper. She should be running that direction! Not down a hill trying to find some Nagarathi lord.

But she couldn’t abandon one of her comrades. She had only done it once before. And the memory… No, she wouldn’t do that again.

The boy was shuffling down the hill somewhere behind her. She ignored him and took off at a loping stagger. At least the manticore was easy to track: there was churned earth and ripped trunk in a near straight line down the slope of the hill. Whatever the beast was, it wasn’t subtle. And in its thrashing it had left a clear trail of destruction to follow.

Though that did not bode well for the Nagarathi.

She slowed. She could see something in the darkness ahead. A patch of silver moonlight among the wood’s shadows. Her caution forced her to slow her approach and she crept forwards carefully. She saw the Druchii monster first. The beast was lying on its side, in an almost peaceful repose. The warmth of its body caused a fine steam to rise from its haunches. The bat wings lay spread out on the earth behind it, covering ground and nettle in leathery folds. But the beast’s head…. The head was twisted unnaturally to the side. She could see the profile of its face. A large malformed elven face…. At peace in death. The fanged maw, open just enough for the fat cat’s tongue to loll out one side.

And beyond the dead monster, she saw in the moonlight a bundle of limbs that was the Nagarathi lord.

“Oh gods!” she whispered to herself and scrambled forward.

She could see him clearly in the moonlight. And he did not look right. The shoulder was pulled too far back, dislocated from its place on the elf’s back. The arm was mauled so severely that she saw flecks of white bone past the gore-covered flesh. There was no movement, except for the slow spatter of blood gushing out of the elf’s neck.

“Isha’s Tears,” she moaned and staggered to the prone elf’s side. She dropped to her knees and pressed her hands upon the leaking tear in the Nagarathi’s throat, trying to press the wound close and keep the blood from leaking out. She couldn’t see much of the elf’s visage: just a line of pale skin. But the long black hair was matted thick with blood…. And a piece of it lay torn loose, folded back upon itself…revealing pooling blood….

…and gleaming skull.

“Warden?!” the boy had arrived.

“Go!” she called to him. “Get a healer! Go to the village.” She continued to press upon the neck wound. She could feel the blood gushing between her fingers. There was no time….

“But Warden….the village is too far! I will never get there and back in time!” the boy called plaintively.

She snarled. At herself. At the boy. She wasn’t sure. “JUST GO!! FIND SOMEONE!! NOW!!!”

She didn’t know if the boy obeyed or not, so fixed she was on the broken form before her. Just a few minutes ago it had seemed so tall and powerful. Now…battered. And so very small. A slender piece of life…. dying on a patch of frozen mud in the forest….

“Damn you!!” she cursed at him as she pressed. “DAMN YOU!! You are the gods cursed Prince of Nagarythe!!! You cannot die! You cannot die and leave us alone!!”

She pressed. And she felt futile and foolish. And all those deaths. All those years. The young. The old. Her friends. And strangers alike. They crowded into her mind and sent her soul reeling.

No. Not again. Not like before. She couldn’t save her. She couldn’t save her. Try as she might. That one face….

The elf lord’s lips were moving. There was something… a voice. A voice coming from those lips.

“What? What is it?” She leaned forward.

“You…you could have stopped him….” The voice said, small and breathless.

“What?” she frowned at him.

The elf lord’s eyes popped open then. And they were changed. Not black. But pure white! The eyes of an aged scholar.

“You could have stopped him!! You should have stopped him!! All this death! All the people….”

“What are you talking about…?” she whispered.

The eyes closed again, but the lips kept moving. “I couldn’t! He was… He was my prince! My lord!! The sun and the sky both!”

“You could’ve stopped him!!!”

“I COULDN’T!!! I…LOVED HIM!!! HE WAS MY PRINCE!!! THE SON OF AENARION, OUR KING!!! I COULD NOT TURN TRAITOR!!!”

“All this death…. Down the centuries…. You could’ve stopped him….”

What is this, she thought, frowning at the pale face before her. The lips were barely moving, but she could hear the voice clearly. No voices. They were different. Somehow. She could hear the different tenor in the voices. It was like listening to an argument through a closed door.

“You could’ve stopped him!! The children slain upon the altars!!! The thousands upon thousands drowned in the sea!! ALL that is your fault!!!”

“PLEASE…. Please….”

“What is this?” she whispered.

The eyes flickered open once more. And they were…changed. She saw a pair of irises, cold and blue, staring out at her frantically.

“Please,” the voice whispered. “Please. Release me.”

“What? What are you saying?” she leaned forward, her hands still pressed to the wound.

“Release me…. I am so tired…. So very tired…. Let me go….”

She bared her teeth and squeezed her eyes shut. The voice was so exhausted. So filled with remorse and unending pain. It cut through her and pulled at her heart. She saw the girl’s face again. Once beautiful, but now, emaciated and skull-like. She had tried so hard to save her. Had wandered so far.

“Please… release me….” The blue eyes were looking about frantically.

“What do you want me to do?” she whispered back.

“Let me go… I was never supposed to take the oath…. Never wanted….”

She was dead. She saw her final breath in the healer’s house in Tor Arith. Saw the last connection with her old life breathed out into the wind, leaving her cold and empty inside. She had failed. She had failed her. Failed them all. And she would not do it again!

“No!” she whispered back, a heat coming into her voice. “NO! I will not release you!”

She leaned forward and pressed upon the wound, harder than necessary. “You are the gods damned Shadow Prince of Nagarythe!! And what is this??! What is this?!!! This mewling and caterwauling?!! Why I’ve known handmaidens made of sterner stuff than you, Nagarathi!!”

She snarled down at the blood. And the bone. And the frozen mud. And the horrible Druchii. And all the things she had been forced to do over the years.

“NOW GET UP!!” she cried out. “We still need you!! Get up now!! And help me stop this crazed Druchii bitch!!”

The eyes were gone. Squeezed shut. And the mouth…there was a rattling breath coming out of it.

No. No. No. She pressed upon the throat. Trying by sheer force of will to keep the life inside.

But the rattle continued. The breath shaking the broken form in the mud. And…she heard something. There was a voice in that breath. Something….

“Khaine….”

She heard the whisper. Heard it drift out into the wind.

And…there was an answer.

A voice coming from as far away. A quiet voice. A soft voice. Made of metal and ground glass. She heard it. And she knew not where from. But it turned the blood in her veins to ice.

“You will be a blade of the people.”

What? Where?! Where was that from??!

“A blade is not an elf. An elf is many things.” The frozen voice continued. “A father. Mother. Sister. Son. Lover. Teacher. Student. A friend…..”

Gods! Her eyes were scurrying about as her frozen heart beat like a hummingbird in her chest. Her whole body was shaken by terror. That voice!! That voice! It came from the savaged thing before her…and not. It was everywhere.

“A blade is only one.”

The body before her was shuddering now. Shuddering uncontrollably. She struggled to keep her hands in place. More and more of the blood was oozing out past her fingers and falling into pools on the blackened earth.

“You will cut.”

“You will cut the hearts out of the enemies of the people.”

The body was thrashing now. And in its violence it threw her off. She could see the blood spraying out of the many wounds, splattering the earth all about. The silver moonlight seeming to make it sparkle where it lay.

And the earth… The frozen mud. It was drinking the blood. Drinking it deep. She saw the blood seep into the icy frost.

She lay there, watching in horror as the grains of earth seemed to bounce and jostle each other in the mud before her. An earthquake! A shattering of the world! She saw the grains bounce…and then they were rising! Rising up in the air! Floating above the ground!!

She turned her head. A stone, the size of her fist, nearby, it too was hovering above the ground. Held some two paces up in the air as if squeezed by some invisible hand. The trees seemed to be buckling about her. Seemed to be pulling back. The very nettles upon the limbs above were shivering. The moonlight burned down as fierce as fire! She squeezed her eyes shut and curled up into a ball, hands upon her ears.

And then it stopped. The air was calm again. Her mouth was open, gaping for breath like a fish upon land. She closed it. And opened her eyes. And saw….

A figure….

…in black and gold.

Standing still as a statue, before her.

It was him! Blood and mud covered. But the wounds were gone! Closed. And he was standing before her. Face calm and blank.

The eyes opened. And they were as black as the vastness between the stars.

“I am the Shadow Prince.”



***


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:50 pm 
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And now we know why the Druchii quiver at the mere mention of his name... They are haunted by the shadow.... The ghostly... Reincarnated... Undying... Vengeful... Living... Asur... What? :-s :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:16 pm 
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@larose

Oh, no Shadow Princes die! Quite often in fact (with my dice). :D

But the armor...now that continues. :wink:

headshot

ps. and the earth blood spell allows for some pretty miraculous recoveries.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:00 am 
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Even in the moment before his death it feels like the Shadow Prince is holding something back. I really hope we get to see him completely unleashed before the end.

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Smiths in Nagarythe that can repair the holiest piece of armour worn by the Shadow Prince himself... 0 apparently.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:53 pm 
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@Vali

I doubt even the Shadow Princes know what they are capable of. And perhaps that is a good thing. As an avatar of Khaine is probably truly frightening.

Fluff-wise, it is the armor that carries the memories of all the previous Shadow Princes. And the ritual with the sword of khaine that forms the connection with the Netherrealms. So as far as I understand it, there is a period of 'settling in', as the armor and memories slowly transform the newly initiated shadow prince and bestow upon him new abilities. This unfortunately has the side effect of stripping them of their identity as their own personal memories begin to appear as fragments among the memories of others. And gradually drives them mad.

It was an ancient pact made by Woe with Khaine. And over the centuries it has been fueled by the souls of many (Spite is only the latest in a long line). Reconsecrated, in a way. And it has only one purpose: revenge.

headshot

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:54 pm 
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Part 9 –


The scabbard was empty.

That bothered her somehow. Seeing it flap listlessly between the narrow shoulders of the elf lord before her. ‘There had been no time’, was what had been said. No time to look for the missing great sword lost in the forest. And now it was the three of them, jogging along the old stone road after scrambling through thorny underbrush and mud that crusted and caked to hand and boot, with only a single sword and Shakri knife between them.

She could see the bridge now. And beyond that, built atop a massive granite plinth, the waystone tower. It stood there, weathered and cracked, worn, faded, and seemingly only missing a strand of cobwebs to mark it as truly derelict and forgotten. And yet, she could see the dark green ivy crawling up its walls. The little lilac flowers blooming upon their stems. In the grass beyond the plinth, a tiny garden of vegetables and flowers. Someone still cared for the ancient tower. It still lived.

She hoped.

Dawn was coming up. She could feel the warmth of its light filtering through the heavy clouds.

Just a little farther.

Her boots were on the stone bridge. One of her heels had broken off, turning her jog into a sort of lopsided shamble. At least she blamed her faulty footwear for that; she didn’t want to think about the condition of her body. The pain was gone. That was all that mattered. Who cared if she couldn’t feel anything else?

There was a figure waiting at the far side of the bridge. She slowed to a stop. The figure removed the tall horse crested helmet and tossed it to the ground. A face, cold, cadaverous, cruel in an unfeeling way, was revealed to them. A shaven skull decorated in a deep scarlet depiction of a kraken’s maw. The eyes, dark and hard, were fixed upon them.

“I knew you would survive.” She knew the voice: the same knight as she had met on the Lattice. The thought of what had happened there sent her blood to a boil. “I knew that no mere war-beast could stop you…monster,” he continued to call out, eyes fixed on the elf lord at her side.

The Druchii leveled a long bladed lance in their direction. She could see the pennants of a half a dozen of the Dark Elf houses floating along its lengths, trophies from their brutal tournaments most likely. “This is Maelstrom. Consecrated in the temple of Khaine, and bathed in the blood of a hundred daemon berserkers. She has the hunger of the God of Murder, and her bite can pierce the hardest ithilmar. She has never known defeat….”

The Druchii knight placed the lance butt down upon the ground to his side. She could see the blade clearly now; nearly four feet long, with a deadly curved cutting edge and ending in a chisel tip, fit for punching through mail or plate. It was a testimony to the malicious genius of the smiths of the Land of Chills. Beautiful, but efficient in its purpose – to kill.

“I challenge you, so called Prince of Nagarythe. I call you usurper and blood traitor. And I lay claim to your head, as the ancient rites bestow.”

The Druchii hefted the lance once more and gave a testing swipe through the air before him. The blade in motion seemed to hum in anticipation. She could almost see it vibrate as it passed through the air in a deadly cut.

She looked to her side. The empty scabbard….

The Nagarathi stooped down…and picked up a stick. Not much of one at that. More a slender switch than a rod. He held it in his hand gently.

“Ummmm….my lord,” the young soldier behind her started. “Perhaps, my sword?” he volunteered, as he pulled the weapon half out of its sheath.

The Nagarathi was already sprinting. Running full tilt down the length of the bridge. Shoulders lowered, head up, she could see the fresh rents in the armor clearly, still stained with damp blood. See the fine white lines of the new scars underneath, slowly fading in the morning light. Hear the crunch-crunch of the boots upon old stone and mortar as he sprinted. But there was no war cry. No banging of shield from either combatant. Just a quiet killer’s focus; like the sighting along the shaft with a deer in the meadow. That breathless moment, string pulled taught to ear, body forced into a stillness only one shade shy of the eternal stillness of death. The huntress’ moment. The killer’s eternity.

And then the release….

The Druchii knight brought the bladed lance down and across his body in a diagonal sweep. A cunning move as it attacked along both the vertical and horizontal. An experienced horseman’s response to an unhorsed opponent. It didn’t have the breadth of the horizontal swing, nor the power of the pure vertical, but it combined something of both. And that daemon-forged blade was humming in anticipation of the cutting….

The Nagarathi threw himself into a slide angling towards the blade.

That…. Was insane! Not towards the blade! Even the most foolish recruit learns to attack to the weak side! Away from the weapon!

But he slid. And the blade came down around, cutting the air…and passing within a hairs-breadth of the Nagarathi’s brow!

And the stick was out, reaching. It flicked into the base of the discarded helmet, and tossed it up and back. The Nagarathi lord caught it in hand and stood.

The blade was coming back and around again. And the elf lord turned to meet it: helmet in hand. There was a clash of steel upon steel, a sharp clang that punched the chest. She saw the blade glance into the side of the helmet, fixed between two of the bladed horns set there. And then at a twist, the Nagarathi lord turned the helmet forcing the horns to scissor about the lance’s blade, and with a sharp crack, snapped it in two!

She could see the stunned surprise on the Druchii’s face. See the horror mixed with humiliation. And then the helmet came down. Hammerfalls with the strength of a smith beating upon an anvil. After the first, the knight was upon the ground. By the third the skull was caved in.

It had all been such a silent affair. She ran across the remainder of the bridge as the Nagarathi lord stood there, bloodstained helmet in hand, peering down at it, with an inscrutable expression.

“They had once been swordbreakers,” he said in a reflective tone. “Long ago. The blades were set on wrist or shield. To catch and break the enemy’s blades. But the Druchii have forgotten that. They only see them as fearsome ornaments. Not the practicality they served in ancient Nagarythe. I remember….”

He shook his head. “But we have no time.” He turned towards the tower.


***


“There he is!”

Benn stopped. He felt breathless and out of place. Horribly underdressed surrounded by all these high-born lords and ladies. Strangely he wished for a servant’s platter to hide behind. Except even the Yvressi servants down here were dressed better than he!

“What is it Annalyth?” he asked, a trace of irritation in his voice. “Who is that? What is this about?”

“It’s…nothing. I… There is just something I have to do,” the girl squirmed as she spoke. “Please. Just, wait here. I’ll be back soon.”

She left. And walked slowly towards where the strange northerner stood talking with a richly appointed Sapheri noblewoman.

“What is going on?” Lysyl whispered beside him.

He shook his head.

“I think she’s on something,” Alvan mumbled, watching the girl walk through the milling nobles. “Never seen her like this.”

“Where is that Caledorian dragon lord? Has anyone seen him?” Justine added.

Benn ignored her. “I just hope….”

But Annalyth had reached the pair, seemingly unnoticed by them, her approach concealed by the milling passerbys. But something must’ve alerted the strange Shadowlander. His head cocked as the girl drew near. And his head turned as on a swivel. The grey eyes, so bright this close, fixed upon the girl. And there was something of wonder mixed with surprise in them.

“Anna’lis!” the stranger gasped.

CRACK!!!

The girl’s hand came full around and caught the northerner across the face in a full force open slap. It landed with such ferocity that the Shadowlander’s face whipped around with the blow. Benn could see the red imprint of the girl’s palm and fingers pressed into the white cheek.

He bit his tongue, fearing for the reaction. The hall around had gone very quiet at the display. But Annalyth said nothing more, and other than Alvan’s ohohoh sounds, it felt like everyone was waiting for a pin to drop.

The northerner looked back, and he expected to see anger or shame in those grey eyes. But there was something else: concern. Dread, even. The lanky figure grabbed the girl’s shoulders.

“Anna’lis! What are you doing here?! You aren’t supposed to be here!!” He said breathlessly staring at the girl before him. She on her part had gone oddly limp now that she was being shaken by the outlander.

“What’s going on?” Alvan whispered in his ear.

Benn shook his head, dumbfounded.

But the Shadowlander still held the girl, and in a near panic, was saying:

“You have to leave!! NOW!!”



***


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:09 am 
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It's all smoke and mirrors...

Curious to see where it's heading.

In other news, I finished 'The Shadow Prince' which was mentioned earlier in the thread. And I can heartily recommend it to everyone wanting to read more from our lovely chronicler. Great story. There are a few surprises in there though...

Rod

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