Liar. He was lying, and badly. But what for? If he was more than just the stupid kid he seemed to be, he would have a better answer; that he wasn't implied he was just some stupid kid.
"I don't believe you." Xander stated flatly, then struck out on a wild guess, "Besides, I know about your artefact. Show it to me."
She laid a hand on the head of her sword, reaffirming her silent threat. It had to be an artefact, she thought, something big, nasty, and above all powerful, that was using this child as a puppet. All she had to do was force it to show its hand...
"Okay then," Griff said, unsure of what to make of what H.F.S. said.
Griff headed back across the bridge and took a turn on a branching path that lead north. The trees around the path grew thicker as they travelled and soon filtered much of the sun's light. Aquea looked around in wonder at the trees, plants and other things that seemed so alien to her. Griff however was more interested in trying to spot anyone lying in wait in between the forest. After a short travel they came across an overturned cart. It looked like it belonged to fruit seller, at least that's what Griff guessed by the spilled fruits around the cart. Griff knelt down to examine the cart.
"Whoever did this could still be around," Griff said, assuming that there being anything left means that not enough time had passed for anyone to take what was left. Griff stood up and wobbled slightly, taking care not to fall over.
"I wouldn't have so much to drink if I'd known I was going to actually be doing anything important today..." Griff thought. He shrugged the thought off and continued walking. Griff made sure to keep an eye on Aquea who was now flying high over head, pulling leaves of off trees to examine them more closely. A gust of wind blew the leaves she was holding out of her hand and they landed on Griff's hair. Aquea stifled a giggle as Griff brushed them off.
H.F.S followed griff, but H.F.S moved along the tree tops as H.F.S was unsure of whether being associated with this two beings would be good or bad. H.F.S moved quietly along the trees not disturbing any animal until H.F.S's weight moved a branch that animal was on.
Saul whimpered. Once again his mind drew a blank. How did she know about his book?
Oh come on! Did you really think she'd buy that whole "Bandit" thing?
Saul tried to retort, but then the woman put her hand on her sword. Saul was, for the first time in a long time...afraid. This wasn't at all how adventuring was supposed to go! He was meant to enter the temple, kill the evil guards, loot the treasure and sprint into the sunlight as the walls collapsed around him with a conveniant damsel draped over his shoulder.
Instead, the evil guards were passive nature lovers, the treasure was a book of medicine and the only potential damsal was liable to decapitate him at any moment.
He needed to say something. He knew that much. He settled on simple denial
"I...don't know what you mean!" He gasped, cursing himself as he realised he was backing away. He needed help "What's she talking about Caw?" He smiled helplessly at his companion, who seemed to be silently watching the proceedings.
"Evil? Me?" He laughed hollowly "Thats preposterous! I'm a good-guy!"
Nicely done! whispered the voice I think she's buying it...
Saul gained in confidence and continued
"Evil atrefact? Ha! I don't need some Demonic Spell book to..." he started "...oops."
Viverin jumps back, trying to gain some distance from the beast. He ended hitting his back against the wall but it served his purpose. Checking his wound, he saw that it was managable but still, he didn't wish to regain anymore of them.
He then moved towards the beast and slashed downwards, cleaving into it's flesh.
(rolled a 17 on the dice)
Njall dropped to a knee. He wasn't afraid of much in this world, but he had the sense to be wary around magic and the unknown.
'My apologies, mighty Hagalz. I am not used to dealing with patrons of your calibre. Of course, whatever boon you see fit to grant me will be more than satisfactory payment. Might I humbly ask what it is you have in mind for me?'
Aquea watched the animals in the tree tops before she floated back down beside Griff, still holding his flask in one hand and a leaf in the other. The path took a sharp bend and once around it Griff spotted two people. One was standing and holding a blood stained dagger, the other was dead, slumped over on a tree and bleeding from a wound in their side. Griff quickly pushed Aquea behind him and told her not to look. Then he yelled "Hey!" to the one who was still standing. They turned and waved the dagger wildly. "Stay back!" they yelled.
Now in colour :3
The forest, despite it being the morning, quickly grew dark as the party progressed. The lighting was...ominous, to say the least. Many rumours held that some times, people travelling in the forest could hear the faint laughter of others who had lost themselves in the forest and grown insane...
Something darts away from the corner of your eyesight- nothing is thought of it, though everyone reacts as though they heard it. Minutes later, the still air was disturbed by the same sounding rustle; one of the Durgerek speaks to you . . .
Durgerek: 'Sir, I believe we are being followed...unsure as to what it is, but...I've heard stories about these parts . . .'
It is clear that the masked man did not expect any sort of retaliation to an offer of money. His chest visibly inflates as he draws in a deep breath...
Minx: 'Well, sir . . . I am afraid you have begun to present a bit more trouble than we thought you were worth.'
At that, the men around hi draw swords from their cloaks ready to kill you in cold blood- clearly a no-nonsense group, indeed . . .
You throw open the lid to one chest--no more extraordinary than the others--and a short chill comes over you. The star--a grey stone the size of a kettle--sits the roughly hewn box of wood. As you reach for it with both hands, a cold presence enters your mind . . .
???: 'Ah, my hero come to retrieve me~ You seem wise enough. I mean, wise enough to be of use to Auriel . . . Oh don't think things like that; you're no slave, and he's no master--he just needs a bit of help right now. Behind you--that tunnel was taken by that creep and his pet . . . '
At last, the second of the cave's residence is slayed--with only light damage taken on your part. Now nothing remains in the cave aside from the ever-growing pile of dead things . . .
The air cools slightly as though Hagalz were satisfied with your submission . . .
Hagalz: 'I notice you are a man who can appreciate the fine arts of raw combat--just the type of man I need . . . My boon is one of powerful charisma. You can only disrupt so much peace by sending servants out to fight people--no, I have found a new way--a better way. Work from the top down: overthrow a government here or there and let its people destroy each other . . . Charisma can make anyone do as you wish in this world, and I plan to exploit that . . . '
H. F. S. & Griff
The strange man--dressed in the ragged garb of any common peasant or thief--clenched his dagger more tightly and formed a fist in his other hand.
???: 'Y-you had ought to just turn back and leave the way you came, you had! N-none of this is your business!'
Right as the men began to draw their swords, the lich grabbed a man to his right by the throat, crushing it in the process, and threw the corpse at another. Jasper shrieked with fury as he charged into another of the men, stabbing and biting at his targets throat and face. Geron started to inhale deeply, corrupting the air within his chest, just as his emerald eyes focused on Minx. He began to walk towards the leader.
"Calm down. What happened here?" Griff asked. He stood relaxed as if he meant no harm, while in his head he was planning how to possibly lead the man back to Cerkushy. He didn't appear to be thinking straight, and that could either work in Griff's favour or make his job more difficult. Aquea meanwhile was hiding behind him, watching. She held onto the flask and the leaf tightly and the leaf began to crumple and tear.
H.F.S. slowly and gently moved through the trees until H.F.S was about halfway between griff and the being that looked to be of the same kin as griff.
"Oh? And what makes you think I'll help him?" Rafe said, picking up the star. It was heavier than it looked and cold, very cold. I'd best tread carefully.
"There are no doubt quite a few kings who'd be willing to pay a fortune for you." And stupid enough that I could steal the star back later.
"And besides, I didn't part ways with the elf on the best of terms. He probably doesn't even want my help any more," Rafe added, stuffing the star in a bag.
"Not that I wouldn't be willing to help if you made it worth my time, of course." The thief stood and turned to leave but stopped dead in his tracks. The crack he'd used to enter was now barely wide enough to stick a hand in.
Behind him the tunnel the old man and the thing had taken was still open. Using the small fire Rafe relit his makeshift torch, then took a deep breath to steel himself and headed down the tunnel.
"I really hope we don't run into anything unpleasant," he muttered.
Sir, I believe we are being followed...unsure as to what it is, but... I've heard stories about these parts..."
"It wouldn't surprise me if we were..." Drake responded to the Durgerek. "There are rumors aplenty about this area, few of them good, so we'd best just keep our guard up." He looked behind him, considering what could follow them without being noticed, aside from a feeling of... unease.
"Keep to the path, do not stray from it." He said, "If I don't catch back up to you in 2 hours, it means I've been either killed or captured. In either case, proceed with the mission." With that, Drake faded into the trees, hoping to ambush their hidden follower.
That was all she needed. She drew her sword and lunged at the boy, aiming to knock him down with the pommel rather than simply eviscerate him with the blade. It wasn't that she wanted to avoid bloodshed, of course, she just needed someone to interrogate afterwards.
Njall stroked his beard thoughtfully.
'I never overthrew a government before... sounds like fun. Where do we begin?'
Minx looked around hurriedly hoping there someone nearby that he could pull in front of him, but to no avail. Rather than try to fight his way out or be killed running, he hopes to buy his way out of trouble again...
Minx: 'No! Wait! Please! I can help you--anything you are after--whatever you seek, I have the contacts--the funding! I can be of use to you; please reconsider, sir!'
H. F. S. & Griff
The odd man does not appear to relax or take any steps forward--he retains his composure...or rather the lack thereof...
???: 'B-bastard! Whatever happened here is none of your damn business! I don't want anything to do with your right no...provided you aren't here to take me away too.'
After the pause in his speech, he momentarily softened his expression, but quickly reaffirmed his displeasure by spitting into the dry road.
As you hurry down the passage, you don't hear any sounds of combat immediately, but the sorcerer of the cave is audibly cursing. You stumble momentarily over something soft, but dense--looking down it appears to be the large beast, albeit now slain by someone.
Sorcerer" 'You little brine-swallow! Don't think I am anything like that lumbering abomination--no you won't take me quite so easily! When I find you, you'll be sorry!'
The rock cools in your hands again...
???: 'I'd hurry if I were you, we need Auriel alive.'
In just a few minutes, you hear the pursuer begin its quiet hunt again. From you elevated position, you see that it is a wolf--grey in colour. It appears to know where it is going, but it moves slowly to avoid detection...
Hagalz: 'Haha! I just knew we'd be getting along well, Njall. Fa not, the only burden of my boon is myself--forget that old stone, I'll be travelling with you from here on out! Now, about our little plan: there are many things I don't exactly feel you should know just yet--all in good; that's the saying? Well for now all you need to know is that there is some old "turf" I need back, and it being rather ancient, it is under the protective watch of a kingdom called "The Yeomanry." Its people have been in a state of...unrest, and it would behoove us both to put a few more logs on the fire...If any of those orcs are alive, we might as well take them--they've got muscle at least.'
Griff's curiosity suddenly overtook his focus on his mission.
"What do you mean 'take you away too'? Was this man trying to take you somewhere?" Griff asked, wondering if the dead man had come across Cerkushy also, before Griff had arrived. Aquea meanwhile, felt the need to rehydrate. She dropped the leave she carried so she could open the the flask and take a sip of water, while still staying behind Griff.
Njall tried to keep a straight face as he turned to his green-skinned companions.
'It appears I have business in the Yeomanry. Would you wish to accompany me? I know our deal is done, but I do value your company.'
Hoisting his backpack onto his shoulder and sheathing his sword, Njall began to walk in the direction of the kingdom.
So griff chooses to help the possible victim, though their are three possibilities behind this, 1, griff wants to be kind to someone that is about to die, 2, griff is unable to go through with the choice of human sacrifice so is oging to try and persuade himself that everyone he meets is too god to sacrifice or 3, griff is choosing to find someone who brought death apun them self H.F.S though overlooking the interaction unfold
Cursing quietly under his breath, Rafe moved on, trying to make as little noise as possible.
The tunnel soon opened up into a larger room. Crouching behind a large rock, Rafe saw the sorcerer standing in the centre of the room, hands glowing from some spell. Further away, on the other side of the room the thief spotted Auriel, looking worse than when he'd last seen him. Bleeding from one shoulder, the elf was hiding behind a large stalagmite. The sorcerer hadn't found Auriel yet but it wouldn't be long until he did.
Thankful that he was still wearing his soft soled boots, Rafe drew his dagger and started sneaking up behind the sorcerer.
"Have I not made my desire clear? I have only asked twice. Funding? Resources? These are meaningless to knowledge. Now, you have one chance; tell me for whom do you search for and why do you want the 'star'?" Geron's words were slightly gurgled as the dark, purple miasma building in his stomach escaped in small bursts. The lich was about to be in arms length of the trembling man.
Jasper by this point had killed his target, maimed another, and was approaching a third man. The pygmy's mouth was filled with the other's blood and a primal hatred was smoldering in his small eyes
"Or, I could let my servant here carve into your flesh while I keep you very much alive. Until you act reasonably, ofcourse." Geron was trying to push into Minx's mind and multiply the fear that the man already had as well as implant a seed or doubt in the man's apparent loyalty to his employers.
As Saul fumbled with his words, searching desperately for a way to recover the situation, the woman shot forward. Saul was caught flat footed and open. In desperation, he tried to duck under the blow, but she was much faster than him.
When Saul came too, he was lying flat on his back, staring at the cold stone overhead
Of all the hosts in this entire foresaken realm, I get the boy who passes out after a tap to the forehead. Wonderful. You've been out a few seconds, just so you know.
Saul tried to sit up but the pain in his skull slammed him back to the floor again. The words of spells swarmed in his mind like locusts, but he couldn't string any together. He was, for the first time he could remember, completely helpless
Staring up at the woman, her sword held calmly in her hand, Saul opened his mouth to plead for mercy, to tell her everything.
His jaw slammed down on his tongue and he yelped in suprise
NO. I draw the line at begging. Try and die with a little dignity hero
Saul composed himself as best he could, and tried to push himself up
"What d..do you want..t?"
Drake watched as the wolf passed underneath him. Hmmm... A lone wolf, following a group the size of ours? He thought Wolves normally try to avoid people in numbers, particularly this close to civilization. Something isn't right here.
It occurred to Drake that he may be looking at a lycanthrope, which explained the lack of fear the wolf exhibited. He waited until it had nearly faded back into the underbrush before dropping down from the tree, and then carefully and quietly closed the distance between them, hoping to be able to surprise it, perhaps enough that he might capture it to determine if it truly was a simple wolf, or something more...
"What d..do you want..t?"
The kid had guts, she had to give him that. He was trying to get back up again, despite the cut on his temple, and seemed to find himself above begging. That was fine; it saved her having to hit him again to shut up his whining.
"Isn't it obvious?" she asked with a smirk. He tried to wriggle away, and she leveled the blade at his torso. Her sweet smile didn't flicker. "Ah, ah, ah. If you try to get away, I might have to pin you to the floor."
"I was going to look into the 'miracle cure' that they were rumored to have hidden here, but I reckon this is much more worth my time. Now I'm make my way out, and if you follow me I will feed you your fingers."
Straightening, she turned and swept out of the room, sword ready to butcher any druids who got in her way.
Saul hardly heard her, his heart was hammering too hard. His breath drowned his throat and the tip of the sword filled his vision.
He tried to collect his thoughts, but it didn't feel like they were his, the Demon's presence felt stronger than ever.
And then there were words in his mind.
The ones he'd read.
With a clarity that only came from using forbidden magic, Saul's tongue moved, and the evil syllables slithered from his mouth, tainting the air around him.
It was a powerful spell. Darker and stronger than any he'd attempted before.
Saul realised what was happening, that the strength of the spell was far beyond a mere fireball, and fought back, trying desperately to stem the tide of words flooding from his mouth.
But the spell had taken hold now. And before he knew it, he'd completed the incantation.
For the briefest of moments, nothing happened, then all hell broke loose.
Portal ripped open around them. Swirlling mists of inconcievable colours could be seen through them, light that absorbed the shadows, darkness that scalded the flesh, and other impossible, terrifying things
Ah, to be home again... Barabus sighed longinly, gazing at the Hell World beyond. Saul stared, only just realising the full horror of what he had done. The the first creature clawed its way through.
It had crimson flesh, its horned head seemed to writhe as fresh bone spurs erupted from its skull, and purple tongues lashed the lips of mouths all over its body.
Congratulations Saul, you just initiated a minor demonic incursion. Only lesser demons though. I'm rather dissappointed. Its impossible to reason with this kind.
Saul scrambled to his feet and stared at the abomination, then turned to the swordswoman
"This wasn't what was meant to happen..." he pleaded
As Xander made her exit, the boy shouted something unintelligible after her, which she duly ignored. Too late, she realized that he had been in possession of the book for some time, and might have even taken in a few spells; the implications did not strike her until she felt the huge ripple of power.
The walls were shaking as she dashed back to the boy, only to find her path blocked by hulking red beast whose flesh flowed like liquid around a dozen mouths, still forming itself into the Real. She swung at it, and it recoiled in pain as her great sword clove away a horn. Dodging through the doorway, she found the boy.
"This wasn't what was meant to happen..." he stammered, eyes wide in fear. Xander didn't bother to rebuke him, instead, she spun round and faced the advancing crimson beast, already regrowing it's lost horn.
As a second portal opened behind it, she called, "You'd better have a way of undoing this, boy!"
Saul pulled himself to his feet and pulled the jagged black dagger from its scabbard. He held it tightly in his right hand and stared from the demon to the woman. What had he done?
The infernal creature seemed to have nearly finished materialisation, and it didn't look happy to have lost a horn.
Its a lesser demon, probably a lost pawn of some greater creature. No particular weak spots I'm afraid. Although you could try to kill it faster next time, they're especially vulnerable as they cross dimensions
"Thanks for the tip..." Saul grumbled. He turned to the woman, his mind racing. He needed his book back, but there was no way he could survive a demon invasion without help. He needed her. A lot more than she probably needed him.
"I think I know a mass exorcism spell..." he lied, his knife hand shaking as the demon approached "But this isn't the right place for it. If you can get me deeper into the temple..."
"I think I know a mass exorcism spell, but this isn't the right place for it. If you can get me deeper into the temple..."
Xander didn't respond for a moment, busy as she was facing off th demon that stood in the doorway. Suddenly, it launged to the left, in the room, but the huge sword came down to cleave into it's shoulder. As it fell, she reversed the blade through it's neck ; as black and purple ooze jetted forth, she hoped it was safe to assume that it was dead.
Even as the body ceased moving, a second beast appeared in the door, a spidery beast, with long, multi-jointed limbs. Xander swung her weapon at it, and t gave a clattering shriek as it's legs simply snapped.
They seem fragile, she noted, I hope they don't get any worse
Saul couldn't help but stare as the two demons were hacked down in quick succession. Xander seemed to be an incredibly gifted swordswoman, he'd have to remember that when he came to get his book back.
So what's the plan? I have several, but I doubt you'd agree to anything that results in me taking control.
"She's a good fighter." Saul thought "If she protects us, we can get to the inner sanctum, take that herb book...get ours back somehow and run."
Fine. But if you ask me...
Saul darted forwards past Xander and shot a look in either direction down the corridor. It seemed to be empty, but it was hard to tell, the torches seemed to have gone out, and there was the ominous sound of many footsteps that seemed to be echoing around them. Turning back to Xander, he steeled himself for a make or break lie
"Look, you don't trust me. I get that, and I don't exactly find you the most honest person either, considering you just robbed me. But we need to work together to get out of here alive. I can follow the pull of the magic nexus" his heart pounded as he tried to show complete honesty "and, once I reach it, can undo this spell. If we don't..." he shuddered at the thought "...this is going to get REALLY bad, REALLY fast."
Screwtape watched the proceedings, a ghostly smoke in the walls, he felt the eternum pulling at him, Saul had been saying something, a glance, fear, the smell of blood and pain. Greyness enveloped him, his mind dulling, all fading into, grey.
Around him brothers gathered, flooding through a tear, hate and bloodlust entangled their puny minds. They left him, the tear now just an open abyss. He faded, losing touch with reality, there was no light, only darkness made visible, the former features of the world now merged.
He lay in eternum, where demons go to die, a limbo neither above the heavens below hell nor anywhere in between.
Somewhere in the AEther his mind switched, days had past there, he was lucky, many fall into aeons of nothingness, the world tugged at him, his eyes opened as he found himself hurtling towards the portal, his true form growing out from his mind and taking shape. With a flash and an unworldly crunch he flew out of the portal wings extended, blade-like claws raised he slashed through his crazed brothers spraying the room with their hot blood, he howled as the heat and sensation returned to him, now rooted in reality..... almost. He leaped forwards and with a flap of his wings soared over Xander's head and turned to smoke, disappearing through the wall behind.
"Never again, I am too old to be taken, I am imprinted on this world and the eternum shall not take me."
Saul ducked as a crazed, winged demon tore its way though the room. As it passed, he sensed the power radiating from it. It was much to powerful to have merely been summoned, Saul would have realised if he'd accidentaly summoned something that powerful. His soul would have been sucked out.
Glancing around, it occured to him that Caw seemed to have dissappeared. Could he have been dragged through a portal? Saul prayed he didn't have the man's blood on his hands.
In his mental prison, Barabus started at Screwtape's sudden return.
"Feeling dramatic are we?" he chuckled.
Barabus had been concerned the demon had lost his wits, he'd have to speak to him about that. As one of the more powerful varieties of demon, Barabus understood the value of alliegances. He just didn't like ones that dissappeared suddenly.
H.F.S suddenly had something tug at him, some arcane force was telling him to leave this place and head for another. H.F.S knew not to ignore a arcane force, H.F.S suddenly bolted through the trees towards the arcane force. The ground below H.F.S was blurred as he moved faster then ever before.
Eventually H.F.S reached a temple, H.F.S moved through this temple by following the shadows, of which there where plenty. H.F.S found two beings that looked to be of the same kin as griff, he also saw two large dead beings as well, H.F.S yelled from the shadow with his voice echoing 'why did you kill this beings?'