Screwtape sat perched at the top of a tall daunting tree within the woods as would a shadow observing the man wondering through. He sensed god-friends nearby and the aura of religion and nature made him uncomfortable. He turned into human form, shadow turning to black dull leather, rough as if straight from the beast's back. "Hmmm, this one seems pure and untouched by this star-stewn madness, a test of character is in order..." he thought to himself as he turned around on the branch to face the direction of the man. With half a dozen long silent bounds from branch to branch he landed softly on a branch overlooking the path, he saw the man coming down the track and smiled.
As Saul walked past Screwtape burst from the bushes and fell down onto the path, his clothes now tattered with a streak of blood trailing from the edge of his mouth. "Sir please! I... I..." He managed to murmur before moaning and clutching his stomach "Bandits, they..." He said before stopping and panting, trying to control his breathing as though it hurt him. His head falling to one side facing away from the man he smiled to himself, "And so it begins."
Saul staggered back, the prone man on the floor groaning to himself. He glanced quickly behind him, but the druids seemed engrossed in whatever ritual they were performing.
"Quiet!" He hissed, hunkering down beside the form "If we're caught we're dead men!"
Saul pulled off his cloak and backpack, shivering as the night air touched his arms. Saul pulled open his pouch of herbs after draping the cloak over the man's shoulders
"Let me see the wound! Don't worry friend, I'll help you!"
Screwtape forced out a thanks before lifting his shirt, he had a line of purple bruises along his side, broken ribs. He managed to pull himself up against a tree trunk and sat, a hand places tentatively over the wound, "Bandits, they robbed me, all my supplies, everything, damn druids can't keep these woods safe," He said before coughing twice and subsequently clutching his side as his ribcage contracted.
The stone seems to have a bit of smoke wafting from it, though no matter how close you draw to it, you cannot feel any sort of heat coming from it.
There do not appear to be any other people around.
When you come within an arm's reach of the stone, a whisper penetrates your thoughts.
Mortal, it would seem you have finally been brought to me.
You are not the first, nor the last to find one of us.
Like the other one who found my sweet sister Nargyst on the island, you too must prove your worth to me!
are you prepared, mortal?
Looking behind you, the orcs don't show much of a reaction
it would seem they cannot hear the whisper as you do.
The man in charge of navigation looks back at his map and then at his compass.
He quickly readjusts a few things and humbly turns the party northwards.
'We are a rather...stratified organization.
Our funds come from many wealthy donors from across Osvar, and we ourselves are just a small branch.'
As the group of men turns around to head north, you notice one has a small slip of paper in his pants with a seal on it you cannot quite make out.
With a shaking hand, the man points over your shoulder.
You follow his instructing finger to a window where you see the head of a horse pass by.
It is followed by the upper torso of a man riding on a cart that the horse draws.
Because it was just a window, though, you cannot tell exactly what the cart held otherwise.
The two men roll about on the cave's floor in a hilarious fighting sequence.
The elf, though stands up and begins walking deeper into the cave.
As you regain your composure, you swear that you see the elf turn around and quickly gesture you to follow him while the morons are busy tussling in the dark.
Hunts From Shadows & Griff
As another handful of water is poured onto the steaming rock, the steam subsides.
Both of you then feel a sort of warm churning in your centers:
Oh, what's this?
I have been sent two?
Haha! The wonders of this world never cease to amaze me!
Yes I am sure you thought this would be a walk in the park...or, a slither in the tunnel for one of you...
Regardless! I am rather pleased to finally have been brought to a conceivable heat!
My lucky brothers and sisters have such better tempers than I...
The grand soldier turns and leave in such a quiet manner that you could hear a computer hit the floor after being accidentally being knocked off a desk.
Stepping back outside, you find the army filing out through the newly formed gaps in the city's walls.
Citizens begin to emerge from hiding in the wake of destruction.
You turn behind you and gaze at what has always dominated the town's skyline: two stone towers with thin necks leading up to a sort of swollen top.
Though from any distance, it would seem that they were small and served little purpose, in reality one was used as a meeting place for important townsmen like the bank owners and other bureaucrats.
The second tower served as an arcanium: a collection of books prized by wizards and sorcerers and the like.
Some magical folk travel from the far reaches of Osvar to visit the library here.
But as the beauty of these unscathed monuments begins to sink in, there is a flash of light and something moving at blinding speeds screams through the air and straight through the neck of the town-meeting-tower.
Whatever flew through the tower crashed with a deep rumble elsewhere in the town.
Luckily, the damage was not enough to topple the tower; what are the chances?
Viverin walked along, thinking of what might appease such a stone...then he gave up. It was entirely possible that he was overthinking it. It was a stone, a stone of contempt no less. It probably (for lack of a better word) looked down upon him with distain and...well, contempt. It probably wasn't expecting much of him and probably wouldn't see eye to eye with him on things like metaphysical concepts and such, thingking him to be a rambling fool for it. In this case, a physical thing wouldbe his best bet.
Usually, to appease someone, he would go out and kill something or protect someone, the latter of which not helping him here, but he wouldn't sell himself to killing something just yet. He would try to find something worthwhile like a gemstone or some other oddity before trying to kill a beast of the wild.
He began his search, looking for something another traveler would have dropped or the like...
Did I really see that? Rafe thought as he stared after the elf. He glanced at the other two men. They were still fighting, Galsomething holding the other one in a choke hold, and completely unaware of what was going on around them. The elf had meanwhile conjured up a small light and was again gesturing Rafe to follow him.
The thief hesitated. It could be a trap. What on earth would he want with me? The elf was meanwhile quickly disappearing into the darkness. Cursing and calling himself a fool, Rafe followed. He quickly slipped through the camp site and picked up the two bags before going deeper into the cave.
The elf hadn't gone far. He was standing behind some large rock, magic light in hand and an impatient look on his face.
"What do you want?" Rafe asked in a neutral tone, still preferring to stay in the darkness. Then he quietly moved to a different location.
No need for him to know exactly where I am.
Following behind the party, Geron the Joyous notice what appeared to be a letter with an odd insignia on it; sticking out of one of the men's pants. After the vague answer, the lich wanted more. He looked at Jasper and then looked at the letter; Jasper followed his gaze. The small creature somewhat understood what his master wanted, and while not the brightest, he was very clever for such a primitive species.
"Elaborate, I am hardly interested in the affairs of men, but I do love information; especially of whom I am helping."
Right when the words left Geron's mouth, a hare ran out infront of the party. Jasper screeched with animosity and charged towards the creature. He ran straight into the man who had the paper, and attempted to subtly grab the slip as they were both knocked down.
H.F.S was startled by this, H.F.S took a moment to check out his surroundings to check whether something was pulling a trick on them, he carefully said 'I think there may be a misunderstanding here, we were not send here by anything we came by our own free will, I think we could avoid any further misunderstandings by you telling us what you are and why you are here. we may even be able to help you'
Griff was startled by the sudden whisper. he looked around to try and figure out where it was coming from, but it didn't seem to have a particular direction. Aquea saw Griff searching and asked "What is it?"
"Get behind me," Griff said quietly. She floated behind him and peered over his shoulder. Griff noticed that she apparently couldn't hear the whisper, but if it had something to do with the stone, then he wanted to place himself between her and it. He waited tensely for the whisper's answer to H.F.S's question.
Drake quickly scanned the skies, to make sure there were no more incoming projectiles. "I'll catch up to you outside of town" He said to Lanencuris. Drake was curious as to whether or not this was another of the fallen stars, and was unsure if he would have another opportunity to inspect one.
Without waiting for an answer, he quickly climbed up to a nearby rooftop, preferring to avoid the growing crowds of people in the streets. He hurried toward where he estimated the impact site to be, and it wasn't long before he came upon a building that was almost demolished. Smoke and dust were still rising out of the rubble, which lead him to believe that this was where he would find it.
Drake carefully made his way through the wreckage, testing each piece of debris to make sure it would hold his weight before crossing it. Nearly in the center of what looked to be a fairly expensive house, a strange looking stone laid, still smoking slightly even after the several minutes it took to arrive. He cautiously stepped closer, aware that there may be others whose curiosity could not be denied, and began to inspect the stone.
"Damn!" Saul hissed, looking at the injuries. Slipping his herb pouch to the ground he began rummageing for a particular fungus. It had soothing properties, but would do little for the wound itself. Still, it was the best he could do for now.
"What's your name friend?" He asked, rubbing the fungus between his hands, feeling it slowly break up into a pulp
We don't have time for this...
"We have time enough to help someone! What if it were us?"
If that were us I'd wonder at how the entire continent had managed to put aside their differences to take us down.
"Ha ha. Now shut up if you won't help."
Inside, at the part of his mind forsaken by Saul, the demon chuckled to itself. He gazed through Saul's eyes at the wounded figure, past his physical form and into his very soul. He grinned, then reclined. This would be interesting to watch...
Not taking his eyes from the window, Winneke stepped towards it, apparently having forgotten the old man completely. "What art thou who summons me?" He pressed a trembling hand against the glass and peered sullenly at the horse-drawn cart.
"What art thou who summons me?" Winneke pushed his nose flat against the window pane, his breath clouding it to obscure his view. The former ringmaster traced a finger across the clouded glass and watched curiously as ice began to spread out, purest blue. "What?" He whispered, taking his face from the glass before the ice touched him.
Winneke pressed his hand against the blue ice and grimaced as it cracked under his palm. Providing more pressure, Winneke succeeded in shattering the ice and glass together, causing shards to drop at his feet. He glared at them, willing them to melt into the tavern's dusty floorboards. They refuse. Instead, the shards drifted upwards, defying gravity, and positioned themselves back into the window.
After blinking hard, the illusionist saw that the window was once again intact, his hand pressed firmly against it. Further pressure yielded nothing. The window didn't move. Wiping his hands together, Winneke looked at the cart worryingly. The hallucinations were becoming more frequent, he could tell that much.
Turning back to the old man, Winneke flourished another bow, this one appearing slightly less natural - too mechanical. "Sir," he murmured before rushing out the tavern door to follow the cart.
Njall raised his eyebrow. 'Today just keeps getting weirder' he muttered under his breath.
Moving around the stone to keep all the orcs in view, Njall raised his voice.
'I'm as prepared as I'm ever going to be.' he stated, slipping into a guard position, sword raised
Njall raised his eyebrow. 'Today just keeps getting weirder' he muttered under his breath.
Moving around the stone to keep all the orcs in view, Njall raised his voice.
'I'm as prepared as I'm ever going to be.' he stated, slipping into a guard position, sword raised
EDIT: double post, because my internet appears to be running on steam power this evening
Screwtape smiled as saul used the herbs on his wound, the bruising lightened and disappeared. Saul stood and in the moment his face was turned his face distorted, one side of his mouth writhing upwards into a smiled past his eye then just as suddenly it returned to normal. "Thank you kind man, I would have been stranded, dead even, I owe you my life," he said as he pulled himself to his feet and patted down his coat. "Where are you heading? Temple?" He asked with a weak smiled.
'I do not know if you are aware, human, but we elves are gifted with darkvision- did you not think I knew you were by our fire, in the dark?'
He extinguished the light in his hand,
'Now, we need to get down to business.'
He pulls a dagger- your own -from the folds of his clothing and hands it to you.
'You will need this, that cave dweller you heard earlier is no hoax.
My name is Auriel.'
He turns, expecting you to follow, and starts to walk even further back into the cavernous dark.
The masked man is none the wiser as you deftly swipe the parchment amidst the confusion.
The confusion dies out, and when you find a time to secretly glance at it, you scan its contents:
H. F. S. & Griff
Oh it is no question as to whether or not you can help me; the fact that you are here means you don't even have a choice!
But how rude of me not to introduce myself~
I am Cerkushy, the spirit of Wasps & Sacrifices!
And you two- you two must pass my Trial before I even consider letting you mortals delve into my affairs~
Every so often, the stone would give a pulse of nearly singeing heat and small embers leaped from the top of it as it spoke the word 'mortal.'
As a bit of ceiling falls onto the floor, a man dressed in his bathrobe runs down from a flight of stairs and stops as soon as he sees you:
'Hey, what have you done to my house?!
Are one of the men that attacked the city?!
You had better speak for yourself soon, rat...'
When you at last have a clear view of the cart, you notice that it carries a sort of box with a cloth draped over it.
You would estimate it to be about 8 feet in length, 5 or so in width, and 3 or 4 feet tall.
You cannot discern the nature of the box, though, due to the aforementioned drape...
The orcs look at you questioningly as you seemingly raise your sword for no reason.
Suddenly, they are startled by a roar coming from behind them.
All three turn around to find the source and their backs face you now.
Immediately, the fabric of the sack that held the goblin tears away in a fury and a small, bloody, and winged goblin breaks forth from its confines!
It lands on the ground and flaps its new wings rapidly as it begins to pick up speed charging towards you.
Meanwhile, the voice has become hysterical with laughter.
Drakes hand immediately went into his cloak when a man came running down the stairs, shouting at him. He fingered one of his throwing knives as he asked: "Rat? Why in the 7 levels of Hell would you think I had anything to do with vermin? You had better just stand aside, unless you want further misfortune to fall on you" There was a glint in Drake's eye, one that spoke of death, controlled but ready to be unleashed at the slightest provocation.
Griff considered their options. A trial from a mysterious voice from a stone that fell out of the sky could easily be a trap, or just the thing he needed to restore his family's name. In the end he decided it was worth a try. Aquea looked uncomfortable with the stone's heat and hid behind Griff when it gave off embers.
"What's going on?" she asked quietly, she sounded scared.
"It'll be alright," Griff said to her, in his most calming voice possible. He wasn't actually sure, but she was on her own in a strange place and he had to do what he could for the moment.
"What is your trial?" Griff asked, not wanting to take up the challenge before having all the facts first. Aquea looked confused about Griff seeming to talk to someone who wasn't there but still clung tightly to his shoulder.
H.F.S was surprised at griff's quick acceptance of the situation H.F.S wanted to know more 'cerkushy, why do you think we have no choice, you can't follow us so we could just leave you here, you have no way of following us, and if we are to help you what would we gain form it'
"Wait wait wait! What business?" Rafe asked as he put his dagger away. "And could you perhaps conjure up another light? You elves may be able to see in the dark but I can't."
He stumbled and cursed as he hurried after Auriel, almost as if to make a point.
"And why me? Your companions back there seemed capable enough, if a bit dim. How do I know if I can trust you? Who are you anyway, Auriel?"
Rafe stopped and took one of the bags off his shoulder. "Oh and since you can see in the dark then you probably know I took your bag." The thief said as he handed the elf his bag back. "Sorry, force of habit."
Njall snarled, running towards the winged menace with his sword at the ready. 'Some snot-nosed sheep-fondling runt is not going to end my life!' he thought, as his much-used blade screamed towards the goblin's neck
"Don't mention it!" Saul smiled, packing away his bundle of herbs. He was glad to have helped this man, it was the small gestures that added up to make the world better
Well spoken Came the whisper Now, about the Druid temple...?
"I was getting to that!" Saul snapped, before remembering he had company
"Yes, I was heading to the temple but..." He trailed off. Could he trust this man? He might be wounded, but he may have been permitted into the forest, whereas Saul was an intruder. It wouldn't do to have him raise the alarm. But then again, he HAD helped the man, and the druids would probably have protected him if the poor soul was supposed to be here. Saul decided, and set his voice to the most noble and heroic he could muster
"I seek a cure for the foul plague that ravages this land." He proclaimed proudly, holding his head high, but keeping his voice low "I beleive there is an item that could assisst my quest in that temple, and I must retrieve it!" He trailed off slightly "Urm, what's your name by the way?"
The lich roared with laughter as the little, blue creature ran into the legs of one of the men. The robed figure and the pygmy collapsed in a heap as the rabbit scurried off into the wilderness.
"Jasper! Come here!" commanded Geron.
Jasper got up quickly and scurried over to his master, barely concealing an impish grin. The leader of the travelers commented on the creature's stupidity while the man who the pygmy had collided with cursed loudly. After a couple of minutes, the group began to walk again, and Jasper quickly shoved the letter into the ex-magister's black gauntlet. Geron, following behind the party, quickly read the parchment before handing it back to his minion; who immediately ate it. Geron the Joyous began to ponder on what to do now as he saw movement in the sky...
'Wa-wait, I want no part in your war!
Just keep me the Hell out of your business, got that?!'
The man turned to hurriedly run back upstairs, stumbling on a couple of steps.
He at least had the sense to know when to run away.
Beyond that, you only hear some heavy steps on the floor above you.
H. F. S. & Griff
Concerning the ... slithery one's comment, I can only let you know that the power in that boring rock has dissipated, or rather it did a few minutes ago.
You spent enough time meandering around me for me to follow your minds around.
So really, I won't be leaving until I am satisfied, or until I find a better pair of mortal flesh-sacks than you two.
And as for the fat swordsman with the nymph:
It sounds like you want honour, yeah?
Well I believe I can provide for you; granted you will have to help me out, of course.
You see, in my current state, I cannot leave this accursed little clearing, and I need to get somewhere soon.
I haven't a lot of time for dilly dallying, so in short I need a sacrifice from each of you to empower my departure.
I think a member of each of your respective species will work just fine, and don't think about just leaving me here, I know a god or two and I can have my revenge carried out ... in years, if need be.
So I suppose the only question now is how long you will keep me waiting here...
Auriel snatched his bag back from Rafe's hands and reached back out to take him by the wrist.
'I would rather not betray our location to those two right now, so you will have to bear with the darkness for now.
As for your other concerns, the two of them are good for brute force and little else.
I need someone a bit more subtle in their movements, and you fit the bill well enough.
I gave you your weapon back and let you trail behind me with it in the dark, let that suffice for trust.'
The your continue to hold his hand as he holds yours, following him through the dark.
Slowly, a dim glow begins to form in the wall of the tunnel.
When you reach it, you notice it is a large, gaping crack in the wall big enough to fit a cow on its hind legs through.
The glow you saw comes from a moderately sized fire in an open, circular room on the other side of the crack.
Auriel tells you to look inside closely.
The floor has a few fine-woven rugs on it and plush pillows sat atop them.
Small wooden chests rested at one side of the cave with coins spilled out around them.
Beside the fire lay a gruesome form:
It was a thin torso with four appendages ending in large, clawed extremities.
Its face was much like a demon's with horns and tight skin.
Spines ran down its back as it slept like a wolf in the warmth of the fire.
Sitting on a rug nearby is a bearded man with grey hair wearing a white robe with many colours of sashes: Grey, Green, Red, Blue, and Black.
Even the chests and gold couldn't pull the thief's gaze away from the monstrosity sleeping beside the fire.
"What the hell is that thing?" Rafe asked Auriel quietly when he finally managed to look away from the monster. "There'd better be something pretty damn valuable if you're expecting me to sneak in there."
Rafe took another look at the circular room and it's inhabitants. The monster seemed to be sleeping soundly but it was the bearded man that worried him, sitting, staring into nothingness, oblivious of the monster only a few metres away from him.
"And I'm guessing that's the beast's master?"
Screwtape straightened and turned to fully face the man "Ah, a man after my own heart, I have been sent on a similar mission by my employee's, although I do not agree with their plans money is money, they wish to get the cure and sell it to the world. And my name is
Caw Peters pleased to meet you.... umm.... I don't believe I got your name." he said, his voice now stronger with a seductive quality to it.
"I sensed that little thing, that scratch, that compatriot of mine... weak, but useful" He thought, his face unchanging and his mind hidden, he could make use of this being.
Screwtape reached out with his mind to the demon, being careful to keep Saul deaf to the dealings, faintly pushing on the demon's mind he said
"Hello my friend, you seem to be far from the birth-fires, I have a deal to offer you, this man, Saul is a fool but may prove useful, I have the ability to free you of your bonds to this man if you aid me, destroy his mind and give me the artifact and you may be granted your freedom hellbrother."
Then to Saul he said "I will however help you for your kindness, you may have the artifact, I simply want this world cured, money is worthless to the dead."
Dice Roll result: 12
Njall's blade bit deep into the flying goblin, causing it to shriek in agony.
Saul extended his hand "Nice to meet you Caw. I'm Saul Obren. Its a pleasure to meet someone not motivated by money and greed for once! I'd almost given up hope that there were other people like that left in the world." He shuddered as an unbidden memory of his mother, handing out free healing draughts to passers by crept into his mind. She'd been so compassionate while his father had been alive. Then once she'd recieved the knews...
He sidestepped the train of thought. No point in trying to stop it, he couldn't. He'd just try to put off thinking about it for as long as possible. Just like how he was going to deal with this demon of his...
But for now, he had a job to do. "We need to try and make our way past these druids" he began, turning and peeking over the tip of the rise to vue the congregation "I don't suppose you have any ideas...?"
"Would that it were that simple brother," the Demon replied. Inside the boy's mind, the demon Barabus paced his self-constructed cell "I have tried on numerous occasions to kill this pathetic shell, but his mother prepared him well. She has carved runes of protection into his very mind. No Demon can break out once they are inside, or influence him without his consent. If he were to die, there is a possibility I could be freed, but I would be weakened again, and I have spent too long recovering for it to be for nothing!" Barabus clicked his tongue against his teeth in annoyance. But perhapse...If we found one schooled in the Dark Arts...another human... they could be persuaded to complete the ritual his mother began."
Screwtape Turned and peaked out at the congregation. "Perhaps, I have ways of working, I usually don't make mistakes but those bandits had stealth wards, god knows how they acquired those, I have something similar." He smiled and reached into his cloak and from a pouch pulled a handful of small rolled pieces of parchment, he plucked two from the pile and returned the rest to their pouch. He unrolled one and clutched it to his chest before there was a small flash of dull blue light and he disappeared from view, before Saul had a chance to do anything but stare in amazement he felt a push to his chest and he too was seen no more. " Watch the floor, follow my footprints, or if circumstances prevent it, meet me just inside the temple door."
To Barabus he answered "Ah, bad fate my friend, I do yet have the power to free you, runes can be erased with the right tools, if you cannot kill him instead persuade him if you can, get him to trust me, convince him to hand the artifact over upon retrieval and you may yet walk among the physical once more."
so those that mean you can hear my thoughts cerkushy? thought H.F.S 'well getting someone of my race is impossible as they life in a underground city and I am only going to return there once my journey is complete,' H.F.S said knowing that once thoughts will not change on the matter 'so if you want a sacrifice I presume you want a set of materials and energy to make yourself stronger including some life force? Well can't we just hunt some lesser creatures then instead of killing our own kin?'
Drake watched as the man fled back up the stairs. How can he make that much noise? He wasn't even that big. He thought to himself, before walking over to the stone and positioning himself so he could watch the stairs while studying it.
"What exactly are you?" he quietly muttered, as he looked at the stone more closely. This is no ordinary stone. I've never seen it's like in the entirety of my travels. Drake thought to himself.
"Back away from the Gift of Zagrakoth!" Rasped the voice of a very old Durgerek.
He was wearing a cloak made of furs and pelts with skulls stitched onto it. He was accompanied by a similarly dressed but younger Durgerek as well as three soldiers. His voice was old, but at the same time powerful.
The soldiers passively approached Drake, making him take a few steps back, but he saw over one of thier shoulders that the two cloaked figures were kneeling on either side of the stone, and a red aura was gathering around them and it as they spoke in the Durgerek tongue.
While this happened, Lanencuris approached the scene. He motioned for the three soldiers to make their own distance and then spoke to Drake.
"These are Summit Monks. Warlocks of the Order of Zagrakoth. If this is indeed a gift from him, then our force will be bolstered ever further. But that is not your concern right now."
The Warlord laid his heavy hand on the serpent man's shoulder and turned him so they were face to face.
"I want you to be a forward scout. There is a hold south of here called Sky Valley. They will be the first organized force we meet. I want you to find the Elf Belnora in our camp by the north wall. Southerners tend to listen to them easier. You will be a forward scout, she will be our emissary, and you will take seven of my warriors as you convoy. She will offer them an alliance with us, and while that happens I want you to do whatever you have to to find information we can use against them. If they accept then we will keep the information until we need it. If they don't then we will use it right away. You will be paid based on the quality of the information regardless. Now go"
Griff was uncomfortable with the idea of someone or something he didn't know in his head, and a little insulted at the fat comment. However what bothered him most was the idea sacrificing another human. Despite Cerkushy's promise, something just didn't feel right.
"That sounds like a better option to me," Griff said about H.F.S.'s idea, assuming he meant animals or something. He figured getting someone else killed or worse wouldn't help him any on his goal, and if Cerkushy was serious about revenge, Griff just thought that there wasn't really much else left for him to lose at this point.