The "Guilt by Association" TS
The group headed out of the Tavern.
Moving due west, they went straight for Pnyx.
Selax was in front, having turned invisible to make him that much harder to see in the dark.
Wizard followed, using his telepathic senses to probe the road ahead of them to make sure it was safe.
The others followed, all alert and ready for trouble.
The group moved quickly over the level ground. Oddly, despite the hour no ruffians were abroad or at least none hindered the group's passage. The main reason for this was that Wizard was also using his powers to scare off the more weak-minded ruffians. However, he too was somewhat puzzled. There should still have been more ruffians than he was encountering. Something very strange was indeed occurring.
After marching for several hours, they reached the beginning of the mountain pass that led to Pnyx. Here they found a defensible campground and, with Selax taking the watch, settled in for the night.
Tej got the firewood and started the fire and also assisted the hunters in finding game. He also pointed out to Selax which places of terrain help and hinder the line of sight for him, and which would be the most probable course taken by Ruffians that would ambush us. Tej also shared this information with the other watchers for that night.
When it was Tej's turn, he summoned a owl, to fly around and watch for movement.
As the group sought out the firewood, Avatara quickly moved to the shadows again. He had noticed the group was headed the same direction as he for half the day now, and it had taken quite a lot of skill staying out of sight. It also meant more than one encounter with the average ruffian. With his martial skill and magical prowess, they were but nothing, but they were quite frequent and annoying. As he noticed an owl fly overhead, he knew the group was scouting out the area, and he should probably vanish if he didnt want them to spot him now. Just as he started moving off to the distance, he felt a battle break out a small ways ahead. It was an odd feeling, just like the previous night at the tavern. Though he knew it to be folly to chase after a battle alone, he felt confident in his skills to hold his own.
Damn, I wish it were bandits this time Saria thought as she shot a few more arrows at her dark foe.
"Saria" The voice of an enemy was an elongated taunt, meant to spook her more than grab her attention
She shot an arrow at the location of the voice.
"You know petty attacks dont work on me" the voice continued "yet you still try, how quaint"
Her anger raged, and with it the power DF granted her.
No, mustnt use it, its too much Saria's mind raged at her current predicament. Here she was, dragging DF's unconscious form through untamed wilderness trying to find the group they had left what felt like a year ago. She knew this was an exaggerated time frame, but the events that had occurred had made it feel like a year had passed when in reality it was probably only several weeks. The hunt for the zetacomb had drawn a blank for her and her companion, yet for some reason DF felt the need to head back and seek out Avatara again. He had contemplated that Avatara may have either found it, or had one or more ideas on how to obtain it. The tragic battle that occurred soon after sent DF into a semi-coma, giving him the time only to pass his magic spirit onto Saria before going to the great dark.
She even remembered the warning given by him This magic is a bit too powerful to give to you, but as I have no choice, here it is. Use it sparingly, as too much use could lead to addiction, which could tear your very existance apart in its throes. She had taken his advice to heart, using it only when it was vitally important. Only problem was, their consistant stalker, Icel, was always on her tail. Especially with the immobilized DF slowing her down. The only reason she still survived was the use of magic, and she could already feel the consequences bearing down on her. It was constantly speaking to her, telling her to use it, just a little bit. Telling her this, feeding her that. It was overwhelming to a degree.
Another arrow blast was shattered by a dark spell.
"Im not playing games girl" Icel growled "You know my target, and I will stop at nothing to obtain him"
With that, Icel launched an offensive strike, smashing a few harsh dark spells on Saria, who flared up with DF's shadow magic to defend herself.
"Damn that curr" Icel roared "couldn't he just have fallen like any other fool who has faced me?". He motioned to his left and one of his wraith followers appeared to aid him "I guess that would have made this quite boring though, so I think I may just have to thank him when I extract his soul"
The rage spurred by that comment sent Saria to one of the few remaining arrows that DF had infused with magic. In a moment of clairity, Saria used the magic of DF to charge it even furthur and fired it at Icel.
"You still dont get it....arrrghh" Icel reeled back from the arrow hitting him just as the wraith moved forward to strike "No, you fool, retreat, she has something more than before"
With that, Icel retreated back into the darkness, just as he had done before many a time.
"Phew" Saria sighed "Hes gone, he was getting close too" She went back to DF's body "Had he gotten any closer, I might not have been able to block his magic from hitting either of us"
What have I gotten myself into Saria signed inwardly Just a year ago I was training to be an archer in a small villiage. Now im on this strange island being chased by an insane mage who wants to possess another insane mage who is now my ward. How do I get trapped into these things? Im now somewhat mageish myself
As she had done many times before, Saria gulped down another vitality potion that DF had 'obtained' during their travels. She knew its effects were not going to be as strong as they had been the last several times, but she had to remain vigilant, even if it meant a hit to her health.
Just as soon as it had begun, the fight was over, and Avatara felt nothing again. Despite this, he pressed on. He knew he would stumble over the source sooner or later, and was determined to figure out the cause of these senses.
Icel looked down at his arm again for the thousanth time. It was useless. The arm still didnt work. He looked at where the arrow 'should' have struck. There was nothing. No mark, no indication that anything was out of the ordinary. But still, the fact remained. His arm was limp, and he could feel nothing from the shoulder, where it was struck, down to his fingertips.
"What the hell was that" Icel brooded, thinking aloud "It looked like she used another arrow, but for some reason the arrow wasn't real. Its unheard of"
He muttered on some more, thinking over the instant over and over again until it popped into his brain.
"Those cursed arrows" Ice exclaimed, excited and fearful at the same time "That arrow that killed those two wraiths some weeks back. She has more of them then she let on. She must have used the power that that curr had granted to her and fused it with the arrow. God, brilliant. Wench can be a brute when she needs to, but she doesnt seem the type"
He then brooded over the fact and tried to solve the puzzle of getting around it the next time. He looked over at the wraith and it struck him.
If I use him as bait, she won't even know I am going after her. She will be a sitting duck, leaving her open to attack. That would be my golden chance to strike Icel thought on this for a moment more If this succeeds, or at least works out right, I may have to seek out the remaining wraiths that I summoned. Curse myself for sending them off to seek these fools on their own. I should have kept them right here
He looked at the wraith again and a few unfamiliar thoughts started in his head. A few phrases, a chant, a curse. A weird sigil played in his eyes, for only a second, before disappearing entirely. Icel shook his head for a second to clear it and then started to plan out how his attack would go...
This post has been edited by Desert Fox : 21 November 2005 - 03:33 PM
In the tavern, shortly before Selax arrived with the wounded messenger:
The door of the tavern banged open, issuing in a sudden gust of bitter wind. An elderly, hunched elf stepped over the threshold, leaning heavily on his sturdy staff. His green-garbed and hooded companion quickly entered and barred the door against the cold. She pushed back her hood, shaking free a mass of mahogany locks that reached to the back of her knees. Two pairs of eyes, emerald green and faded blue, scanned the room for familiar faces. Simultaneously, they focused on a deeply shadowed, and apparently unoccupied, table in the far corner of the room. Without a word, they made their way over and sat down.
"Welcome back," Sideline commented, leaning forward to allow a little light to illuminate his face.
A patron at the next table fell off his seat in surprise. "Where did he come from?" he asked of nobody in particular, then nervously 'forgot' the incident as Sideline's baleful glare caught his eye. It wasn't that Sideline had been particularly trying to remain hidden, he just had a talent for drawing shadows about himself like a cloak.
"Thank you," the Scribe replied, for it was none other than that ancient elf and his 'granddaughter', Brianna, that had just arrived.
"Any luck at the Ancient Library, this trip?"
Brianna sadly shook her head, but the Scribe nodded in contradiction. He patted her hand, consolingly.
"Now now, my dear, you mustn't be dissapointed. We may not have found a complete solution to your problem, but we have gleaned a little more information that may well contibute to our ultimate success."
Brianna sighed. "I know, grandfather, but it's been so long, and I'm beginning to despair of ever being free."
Sideline was about to speak again, when the tavern door burst open once more. Selax had arrived with his gruesome burdon.
"My word," the Scribe exclaimed after Selax had departed. "Trouble at Pnyx - we can't afford to take chances with that. If ever we're to find what we seek, the assistance of the mages of Pnyx will almost certainly be required to implement it!" He leapt to his feet, as much as one his age could be said to 'leap', and headed for the door. Without a word, Brianna stood and followed him, checking the tension of her bowstring and the contents of her quiver as she walked.
Sideline sat for a moment, deep in thought.
"Things always get strange, at Pnyx," he mused. "I'll remember getting attacked in that cellar, along with Brink, for the rest of my life. Still, I've nothing better to do." With a shrug, he rose, checked his sword and stash of healing potions (Leandra's special brew), and followed his companions, once again, into the unknown.
This post has been edited by Overmind : 21 November 2005 - 03:36 AM
Selax stood with his back to a tree. To any watching eye, it would appear the he was asleep, leaning against the tree. He was, however, very wide awake, having already slept as much as he need to during Tej's watch.
Pallas Athene last edited by
It was not a good night to be traveling.
"Take the mountain pass to Pnyx", Berossus had said. "I can't detect any magical aptitude in you, but Lindus is a far more skilled mage than I. He's not headmaster of the Magisterium for nothing."
It had seemed like a logical enough suggestion, but the weather had seemed good when Cimon had set out from Cademia - plenty could change in an evening. At this point, though, he had nearly reached Pnyx, and it didn't make any sense to settle down for the night when there was still the hope of reaching a dry Dodona bed. That would be the simple first step towards putting his life back in order; Cimon hoped Lindus could help him make the second.
It was quite possible, Cimon mused, that all his troubles ran back to a single sea voyage he had taken back before Bellerophon had healed Alaric and the land. Cimon had been accosted by nothing at sea - there had been no hydras, no serpents to thrash his boat against the rocks. But superstition ran deep in Cythera. With the onset of the plague, he had been ostracized from his home city of Catamarca, and even after the true source had been found and removed under Tyrant's castle, Cimon couldn't return to a city that had turned its back on him.
As he raised his eyes to scan the horizon, Cimon thought he saw a triangular silhouette outlined near in the fog. He fervently hoped it was Pnyx; that he could find out what sort of strange ability he had acquired. As of late, he had begun to feel objects around him and to manipulate them without touch. It was not so much that it was unusual - in a child, it would be taken as an indicator of magical aptitude, and the child would be apprenticed to a mage and given a grimoire. But Cimon had never shown any such abilities in a child, and Berossus had been unable to detect any now. It was, it seemed, a matter for the Magisterium.
Cimon could now clearly see in front of him - there was a platoon of armed guards standing in front of the marbled entrance. He had heard that the Magisterium kept a staff of guards, but it seemed to be an excessive show of force for an institution dedicated to maintaining peace and order in Cythera.
"Geiasou," Cimon shouted out to the visored guard in front. He raised the inscribed pendant from his neck. "I've come from Cademia. Judge Berossus gave me this that I might receive an audience with headmaster Lindus."
The guard captain raised his visor and fixed his gray eyes on Cimon. "Headmaster Lindus? Then you haven't heard..."
"Heard what?" Cimon asked.
"Look," the captain replied, "I can see a night's stay in the inn will do you well, but you'll have little luck meeting Lindus. You see, earlier today..."
(note: Cimon is pronounced properly as KEY-moan, or lazily as KEY-mn. Pronounce it like "Simon" and I'll kill you)
This post has been edited by Pallas Athene : 22 November 2005 - 08:48 AM
Morning dawned bright and clear.
In short order, the group was up and moving through the pass. Again, they encountered no trouble. At their current rate of travel (and if they chose to travel through the night as Selax planned to do), they would reach Pnyx soon after midnight.
Selax walked along, deep in thought. He pondered some of what he knew about some of their more...unique companions. Earlier, he had heard the elderly elf called the "Scribe." From what Wizard (Wizard's telepathic capabilities, as well as his friendly manner, often helped him to discover more about people than Selax could) had told him the elf was interested in the past and knew many past stories. He was almost certain that the elf had already guessed (or at least would guess) that he and Wizard were far older than they appeared and that they had actually been in some of Cythera's oldest legends.
Well, no matter , he thought, if he wants to know anything of the actual events, I can always defer him to Wizard...unless he wants to know something of my travels...I'll deal with that problem if it should arise when it does. Thinking about that now gets me nowhere.
There wasn't much to know about the other elf. She helped the Scribe and traveled with him.
However, the person that most held his interest was the man that Wizard had said was called Sideline. He seemed to have skill in the area of concealment. (In all the time that Selax had spent at the Tavern, he had hardly seen the man.) Selax had noted that the man carried a sword and had been wondering if the man had any skill or if he was one of those people who swings his sword wildly and hopes to hit the enemy. Selax hoped that the man had some true skill; he had seen too much poor swordplay in his lifetime. At any rate, he suspected that he would see soon enough.
Selax wasn't the only one deep in thought. The Scribe had found the intellectual exercise of mentally sparring with the Wizard quite invigorating. Preventing the psychic probes from digging any deeper than he was prepared to allow, without appearing to block much of anything at all, had taken almost all the skill he posessed. Not that he had any particular reason to distrust Selax and the Wizard, it was just that he held fast to the belief that a person's secrets were their own, provided those secrets posed no threat to anyone else. For the same reason, he wouldn't probe too deeply into their pasts. He was immensely curious, yes - he sensed that both bore the weight of a great deal of time, and may even have been the oldest living beings he'd yet encountered, apart from the Seldane, in terms real years. The Ronin may have had the edge in terms of the time they first appeared in Cythera, but since they then spent the next several millenia in a stasis outside of time, their collective experience amounted to much less. He fervently hoped that both of these intriguing individuals would one day entrust him with their tales, but he would never seek to take something that was not freely given.
Brianna's mood had much improved, he noted. He'd guessed rightly that joining this expedition would elevate her out of her previous despondency. Being in her beloved outdoors never failed to lift her spirits.
Sideline, of course, was Sideline. Even while in daylight, he tried his best to hide while in plain sight. He said little, spent as little time with any one person as he could, and generally did his best to stay in the background and out of everyone's thoughts. The Scribe knew he'd failed, at least as far as Selax was concerned, and was rather intrigued to observe that Sideline seemed to have sensed that something was amiss. He was quite jumpy, glancing nervously about from time to time, as if attempting to catch whoever was studying him. The Scribe doubted he'd succeed. Selax's methods were far too subtle.
"Ah, my young friend," the Scribe thought. "Your secrets, too, are buried deep. Someday, I hope you'll grant me the honour of sharing them."
This post has been edited by cache22 : 23 November 2005 - 02:54 AM
The group had traveled this road thousands of times over the years, they all knew where they were going and how to get there. To the supprise of some of the group they hadn't had resistance from outside forces to try to stop them. There always seemed to be someone or something that was trying to kill them they were as a group together, this put a few of them on a bit of a edge, just waiting for something to go wrong. There didn't seem to be much happening as they were walking along, a couple of people were talking amoungest them selves but on the whole the group was fairly quiet.
The Pynx was a large building, to be more precise it looked more like a mountain that had been finely crafted. The mages generally kept to themselves and people in general respected the mages, most of the time due to fear of their power. The mages usually didn't leave the Pynx, sometimes they would come out to pick some herbs that grew nearby or to go hunting for various beasts. The Pynx almost seemed to have an aura about it, as the group got closer they couldn't help but to feel a awe about it mostly due to its sheer size. There were some guards situated outside of the Pynx, most likely to keep the mad men that want to be healed by the mages. They don't realise that the mages don't have that power.
"We should probably present ourselves to the headmaster before doing anything else," Wizard said "he generally likes to know when people enter his Pynx'.
"Lindus has currently fallen ill, its probably a better idea to see Selinus." The Scribe noted.
"A lot of the mages won't want to talk to you, a lot of them feel that because they can use magic they are better than the mundane." Selax stated.
"You make them some stuck up Selax, there is only a small minority that think that way, it is not something that the mages are proud of, it gives them a bad name" Wizard replied.
The group entered the Pynx and went to go greet Selinus.
Meanwhile, in the hidden caverns far below the ordered and tranquil classrooms of Pynx, an unholy experiment was underway.
The air was thick and greasy and seemed to have an unnatural taste, but the hunched and cowled figure that stood bent over a the table which occupied the center of the cavern seemed unaffected by the atmosphere.
His face hidden by the hood of the stained and battered robe that he wore, the figure nevertheless seemed wholey focused on the glass beaker in front of him.
A trembeling hand dropped a pinch of white powder into beaker that looked to be full of writhing white worms that seemed to twist and squirm over each other in the seething liquid. Here and there in the mixture lumps of an unnatural green substance floated and mingled with similar orange lumps.
The cowled figure mumbled to himself as he gingerly picked up the beaker and carried it to a corner of his makeshift laboratory where a strange cast iron box sat on a stone bench. Above the box a coil of copper was suspended, the wires at either end lost in the gloom of the cavern's ceiling. The figure pressed an indentation on the box causing most of the front of the box to swing open. Into this the figure placed the beaker, swinging the door closed with a click.
"Hmm... Two minutes, high power should do it," he muttered, turning several dials that were positioned besides the door of the box.
He then stalked over to the other side of the room to where a switch was set into the wall.
Throwing the switch down the room was suddenly lit by a flash of lighting, as electricity from the copper coils arced into the box, the sudden light dispelling all shadows within the cavern.
The lighting from the coiled wire continued to course through the strange box for a full two minutes and the figure was forced to turn away and cover his ears at the tremendous noise of it all.
Abruptly the lightning stopped and darkness returned to the caverns, though the noise echoed on through the miles of disused and forgotten tunnels.
The figure blinked, bright blue spots still dancing in front of his eyes and his ears still ringing. After a moument to gather himself together he put on a thick pair of leather gloves and cautiously approached the still glowing box. An arid mettalic tang filled his nostrils as he carefully opened the box, removed the beaker and carried it over to the table, setting it down with what seemed respectful reverence.
Pulling off the thick gloves, he picked up to short and well wrought lengths of wood, which looked to be overlong pencils with no lead.
Holding them cunningly in one hand he used them to carefully dip into the now bubbling and steaming liquid and pulled from it one of the limp, pale strands. He then blew upon it and lifted it to his mouth.
"Not bad," he said outloud, "Not bad at all!"
Lighting a lamp he pulled another strand out and offered it to the small ratlizard that was now perched on his shoulder.
"What do you reckon? Think I'll call them 'Pot Pasta'... This time next year we'll be millionaires!"
Talryn sensed the presence of the group as they entered Pynx. He ceased his magic activities so he could be ignored by the group. After they passed, Talryn wondered if this was worth reporting to the Death King.
Thomas, who had been hanging around in the Tavern for about two years decided that he wanted to go on a quest and had joined the group.
(left after the group did, by a day) Thomas pulled out his long bow and tested it to see how it held up over the years, putting that away he pulled out his sword. Thomas Tested the blade and put that away to.
Thomas looked over to his left and noticed a shadow of a elf. He stopped, and pulled out his bow. He shot an echanted arrow at the shadow. About halfway to its target, it was consumed by a huge orb of flame. Thomas walked over to the figure and said, "Oh so you are comming?"
Etiko stepped out from behind a tree and undid her cloakwalk. Thomas smilied and the two old friends continued on their journey to catch up with the group.
As the group headed further into the vast city, they noticed an inordinate number of guards moving busily about the halls. Several times, they were stopped and had to identify themselves. This amount of security would hardly have seemed strange if it had been in response to what happened to Lindus. However, Wizard told them that on his previous visit he had seen most of this extra security already in place.
Something very strange was definitely going on.
At length, the group reached the library. The guards here recognized Wizard, but when he asked where Selinus was they told him that Selinus was in counsel with the other masters in their council room and couldn't be disturbed. The group headed back downstairs toward the restaurant to wait for the council to end, so that they could ask what had happened.
As they were walking along the hall, Wizard noticed something odd and stopped them to call their attention to it.
He pointed toward the floor in front of the magically locked door that led to the catacombs.
"Look, someone has been down there."
"How do you know?" Selax asked him.
"There's usually a large amount of dust in front of this door because no one ever uses it. It was here when I was last here. Look, there is no dust here now. That door must have been opened." Selax bent over to have a better look.
"I see. Good observation. That is very strange."
Everyone looked at the door. There was no evidence that it had been used recently.
"What do you think it means?" someone asked.
"I think it means there is more going on here than just this assassination attempt," someone else answered.
"Yes, there is much here going on then what happened yesterday," a new voice said. Everyone turned to see Selinus. If possible, he looked even older than he usually did.
"It's good to see you all here. I fear that we will have need of you," he said in a tired voice. "Please come with me.
Soon, they were all in the council room with the rest of the mage masters present. Selinus told them the story.
"It started over a week ago. A bloodcurdling cry woke everyone in the dead of night; most seemed to agree that it came from under the city. The masters talked it over and decided that it wasn't worth the risk of sending someone down there. We agreed that it was probably just one of the golems attempting to escape. We increased the strength of the seals on the door and warned the students to avoid it.
"It didn't there, though. Several students out in the halls late at night reported seeing movement in the halls. At the time, we thought their imaginations were just over active; however, the very next night Lindus and I saw something. We both had an impression of wrongness—that we had seen something terrible. We tightened security, ordered the students to remain upstairs, mage-locked our doors at night, and even moved the innkeeper and his family upstairs."
He paused for a moment and sighed.
"Our precautions have been in vain. Yesterday, Lindus was found here, nearly dead. We don't know what happened to him, and we won't until he regains consciousness."
He paused again and looked around at them. His expression became even more grim and serious.
"None of what I am about to tell you can leave this room. This is not all that troubles the council. Perhaps most serious of all, we have been beginning to get a general feel of opposition from the students. We can't identify which ones and aren't even sure that it exists. But something here seems like it's a facade. Something here is deadly wrong among the students..."
Below Pnyx, the figure that Talryn had spoken to turned to him.
"No, they no longer matter. You and I ourselves will deal with them in time."
Events in the void around Cythera had continued to deteriorate.
Both the Death King and the Chimaera had begun mustering their armies.
Both of these titanic forces would soon meet each other in battle once again...
After Selinus had finished explaining the events surrounding the assassination attempt, he sat in his chair for a long moment staring at the table before him as though lost in thought. He seemed scarcely aware of the group's presence until he looked up again.
"Oh, you'd best go to your rooms and get rested up for the night. It's already pretty late. The guard outside will escort you each to your rooms," Selinus spoke each word somewhat slowly. The group rose from their seats one by one and walked out.
Wizard was the last one in the room and, before he shut the door, he softly voiced his concern, "Selinus, we will ascertain the truth; you needn't worry. You should go to your quarters, too, my friend. You need more rest than we do, and you are doing no one any favor by staying up all night."
"Yes, I am," Selinus, who had seemingly regathered his thoughts, replied in a calm tone. Wizard had no reply for that, so he turned and quietly closed the door behind him.
Once out in the hall, Wizard could see the rest of the group following a guard around a corner on the other end of the corridor. Instead of accompanying the others, Wizard went down the other direction of the hallway.
I've got a few tasks to attend to anyways , he told himself. Though it was a little past midnight, the passages were well lit by the torches that hung along each side of the wall. There were even a few glowing crystals here and there that were being used as lights.
The first thing Wizard did was walk outside to check on his horse. He was stopped even more frequently than when he was with the others, but eventually he reached the main door. A guard opened it for him and then shut it behind him. Outside, Wizard spent about a full minute staring at the sky. He loved starring upwards at the beautiful night sky. The myriads of stars were awesome spectacles, added to that was the faint hint of wispy clouds that wafted ever so gently overhead.
The old man gave a deep sigh of satisfaction and then headed to the stable that was nearby. The stable boy was already inside for the night, but all of the horses were well supplied with feed and water. Wizard patted his horse for a moment muttering to himself. He had grown quite fond of riding on horseback. It enabled him to think much more easily whenever he had to travel; he began to wonder why he had not bought a horse earlier.
"I do believe that I'm going to keep you. Of course, an old man like me needs something to travel on," Wizard chuckled as his horse neighed, content to be the center of his attention. Wizard still enjoyed walking quite a bit, though, and had spent much of their trek to Pnyx on foot, his horse either being led by the reigns or following of it's own will.
"I'll need to think of a name for you," Wizard paused here, thinking about himself for a moment. "Though. . . I don't even know my own name."
After a few minute of questioning and examination, the guards at the door finally let Wizard back inside. The diner was closed for the night, so Wizard went upstairs. Halfway up he ran into Selax.
"Wizard, there you are. I was just about to come looking for you."
"Oh, well here I am. Um, where is my chamber?" Wizard asked realizing that he was not present when they were shown their rooms.
"You are directly across from me, and, incidentally, beside the Scribe and his granddaughter."
"Oh yes, the Scribe, an fascinating fellow. One of these days I may have a long chat with him about the history of Cythera since that seems to be a very large interest to him. I could learn a great deal from him as well, but these things are not possible right now. We need to find out what is happening. The stress is tearing Selinus apart." Wizard stopped speaking for a moment, thinking. Then he continued in a more serious tone, "What do you think is going on, truthfully?"
"Truthfully, Wizard, I am unsure, and you know that I cannot voice any of my opinions until I am sure." Wizard thought that he detected a slight bit of levity in Selax's tone, but he did not answer Selax. Instead, both of them turned and headed to their different rooms.
Once inside his room, Wizard sat down at the writing desk. Then he got up and moved the chair over by the door. He opened the door just a crack. He had no intentions to sleep, not that he did very often anyways, but he did planned on keeping an eye open. He spent the rest of the night sitting in the chair staring through the ajar door.
Gin, used to danger posed by unseen enemys was doing something very similar to Wizard. He was standing behind his closed door, his back against the wall and his eyes closed. Gin's ears strained until he could hear almost everything, infact there was an annoying little rat that kept scurrying through the wall to his left. I this trancelike state in which Gin slept and yet was fully alert gin remained for the rest of the night. Awaking he walked around looking for food and then walked out to the cafateria. Or at least he tried, the gaurd on watch told him that he better wait a while or he would probably never get back to his quarters. Whith a sigh gin thanked the gaurd and returned to his room. Like a snake something moved up into his mind, annoyed Gin focused in on it trying to sence what it was. After a while he finaly relized that the sensation was his new found magic, and that it was like a river held behind a door. He found that if he was carefull he could acess it. Sencing such basic and untrained magic in use some of the mages made note of who it was and then becuase of the stress of the situation at hand, forgot. Gin however continued working at it, excersising the 'door' like a newly discovered muscle. Gin continued working on his small ability and then realized that he was no longer afraid to acess the river of his magic, he wasn't quite sure why, though he thought it had something to do with the place he was in. Standing up Gin decided it would be well for him to continue his routine with his other exercises and managed to get to a small training ground set aside for those who wished to advance their skill with blades and other weapons. After several matches with the few people there a duel of magic started. He watched facinated, once finished he went to return to the group, thinking little of the magic duel.
–The same day, around dinner time–
The cloaked figure walked through the narrow hallway at a fast pace, trying to avoid as many guards as possible, but not display any suspicious behavior. He wasn't very welcome, and he knew it. If he did anything out of the ordinary now, what with the obvious increase in alertness among the Pnyx guard, they would most certainly show him the door – or worse, a prison cell or interrogation room – before he could complete what he set out to do. As he passed an armed guard in the hallway, he nodded slightly and smiled. The guard nodded back.
He set course for the wing where the students living quarters were located. Moving quickly, he found his way to a certain door. He knocked three times, and waited for about three seconds before he turned the doorknob. Locked. Looking around, making sure nobody was close, he muttered some words under his breath, pushed the door open, entered the room and shut the door firmly behind him. He sat down on the chair beside the desk, and waited.
Meanwhile, in the cafeteria, Gareb was eating his dinner while listening to two of his fellow students eagerly discussing the deeper meaning of a book they had come over in the library the other day. Growing weary of the conversation, he excused himself and left the table. He found his way back to his quarters, planning to get some sleep before attending a later alchemy class. He opened the door, but when he entered the room he realized that he was not alone. He jumped at first, but quickly shut the door behind him when he recognised the intruder.
"Damn it, Kalain, I told you not to come here anymore!" he said briskly, but with a sense of fear in his voice.
Kalain smiled, slightly. "But then again, Gareb," he said, emphasizing the word Gareb , "you're not the one giving me orders."
Gareb backed away a little, but kept insisting that the unwanted guest removed himself. "Seriously, you shouldn't be here! If they find out..."
"Do not overstep your boundaries, Gareb." Kalain discontinued him, his voice getting dangerously soft. "Our circumspection is what keeps our order concealed – including our little operation here. I trust you to do your best in keeping this a secret, otherwise you could quickly find yourself..." he got up from the chair, "...well, you catch my drift."
Gareb shuddered slightly. "I meant no disrespect, I simply think that coming here is not a good idea" he answered.
"I wouldn't have come if it wasn't of utmost importance," Kalain said, shifting the weight to his right leg, approaching Gareb. "We may have a problem," he continued with a lowered voice, "a group of adventurers arrived from Cademia today, probably summoned here by one or more of the high mages. We need to know what they are up to, so we can act accordingly. That's where you come in. Savvy?"
Gareb hesitated for a moment.
"Well, do you understand?" Kalain continued. "Find out what their business here is, and report back to me as fast as you can. You know where to find me."
"I'll do what I can," Gareb responded, "but the mages have advised us not to venture outside of Pnyx, especially after nightfall. If I do so, it might arouse suspicion. The guards could follow me, leading them to.. well, you."
Kalain smiled again. "You should make sure they don't, because that would prove to be an extremely ill-fated situation." He made his way to the door. "And I'm not just talking about the guards." he exited the room and started walking towards the main entrance.
This post has been edited by Rogan : 25 November 2005 - 05:04 PM
True to his nature, Sideline prowled the corridors of Pnyx, alone. He was lost in thought, recalling the violence and near tragedy that occurred on his last visit to the hallowed halls of magical learning, trailing the supposed murderer of the Ronin, Flynn. It was an adventure that had almost cost him his life, if it hadn't been for pure chance and quick thinking. The memory still gave him chills. He was so distracted that he walked straight past Kalain, and never noticed anything amiss.
He wandered upstairs to the library. The section on curses was still devoid of any books, he noticed.
"Who took them, and why?" he mused. The disappearance of those tomes had been of great concern to Flynn, and together the two of them had spent a considerable amount of time attempting to trace them. They'd had no luck; the trail was completely cold.
"Could there be a connection to this current crisis? Impossible to tell. One thing is certain, though - I'll keep on the lookout for any new clues."
Still restless, he made his way down two floors, to the old underground cellars. He hesitated at the entrance, shivering at the memory of the shadow wraiths he and Brink had once fought there. Using a technique that Kwon Chen had taught him, he allowed the fear to wash over and past him, then did his best to find a calm centre. When he felt ready, he stepped into the room.
"Something's not right," he realised, almost immediately. "This room was practically destroyed in the explosion, yet now it's completely intact. Even the shattered stonework has been restored, exactly as it was!" Suspecting an illusion, he carefully inspected the wall that had once been blown open, to reveal a stairway that descended even deeper into the earth. The wall was now solid, and there was no sign that it had ever been damaged. Unless it had been created by a mage with far more skill than any he knew of, it was no phantom.
"What's going on here?" he asked aloud. The only reply was echoes.
This post has been edited by cache22 : 25 November 2005 - 07:34 PM
Deep in thought, Selax stood near the entrance to council chamber. His night had not been uneventful like most everyone else's.
He had paid a visit to Maiar to discuss plans with the other elements. Of course, he had not gone there physically. No, his mind had been summoned there much like that it had during the incident with the dragons. Just like than, it had taken really no time at all.
His talk with the others had gone perfectly. For all their prowess at manipulation, the elementals often proved to be easily used...as long as one watched them carefully. In any case, they would do what he wanted of them and that was enough for now. They had also agreed to let him in or out of Cythera during the crisis which they felt sure was approaching.
Physically, he had gone to Land King Hall. There, he had had a long talk with Alaric and Magpie. It had been extremely difficult to tell them as little as possible and still get to agree to help. In the end, they had agreed to work the elementals because they too had a feeling of danger. Then, he had raced back to Pnyx, arriving nearly an hour before everyone else had gotten up.
He was not sure if anyone besides Wizard had noticed his absence because he had never entered his room before leaving. After a talk with Wizard to make sure that nothing had happened during his brief absence, he had taken what rest was necessary for him and gotten up as if he had never been gone.
This morning he had entered the restaurant, not because he needed to eat, but because he wanted to hear what the students were saying and to get an idea of what was happening.
He had heard almost nothing. And that was what troubled him.
Hardly any of the students had said a word. To him this meant something was wrong.
He was further worried by what he had overheard Selinus saying to one of the other mages as they had entered the council chambers.
He had heard something like "...don't like where this is leading. It just doesn't seem to me that it could be them...such good students..."
He would need to talk to Wizard. Later, he intended to ask Selinus more about the attempt on Lindus's life.
Selax stopped abruptly as a new thought occurred to him.
Mage law required that an interim headmaster be appointed whenever the current headmaster was incapacitated. Usually, the masters and students worked together to make such an appointment. But Selinus believed that there was dissension among the students...how could such an appointment safely be made?
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Cimon awoke with a groan. The students' beds were not the most comfortable he'd ever slept in, but then, they were free, since he was at Pnyx on mage business. Of course, his quest had been rather derailed. The Guard Captain had related Lindus' near-assassination at the gates, and had made it clear that no audience would be possible.
If nothing else, though, Cimon could at least talk to one of the mage masters. He asked a passing student for any recommendations, and was told grumpily, "Charax is one of the few decent ones. As for the rest, I wouldn't trust them..." Cimon headed downstairs, puzzled at the student's apparent disgruntlement. In short time, he found the Alchemy lab, and within, the alchemist Charax.
Having heard Cimon's story, Charax responded, "You seem normal to me, too. I've no idea of the origins of your particular problem, but I may be able to help you." Charax handed him a potion, and said, "Drink this. It's a purification potion - it's been put to good use before."
Cimon quickly downed the potion (it tasted of stagnant salt water, and perhaps some driftwood) and immediately coughed up a piece of kelp.
"That," Charax said, "is quite possibly one of the strangest things I've seen. Look, I have to attend a meeting of the mages' council, but I'd be happy to look you over more thoroughly when I've more time. Why don't you head to the Library and read up on some mage literature?"
As day led into night and back into day, Saria struggled with the burden of dragging DF. Every waking moment was spent trying to get him up one hill, or around branches, or through heavy brush. The vitality potions were only lasting 6-7 hours now, and she felt the pains of addiction hitting her every step of the way. The magic addiction as well as the potion one she was starting to develope. The most disturbing part of it was the paranoia that accompanied it. Every few moments or so, she felt someone else nearby...following her. She knew her adversary was hunting her, but this was something more. It was overbearing...
Avatara had been tracking the shadowy feeling for a long time now. Over a day, and nothing yet. It felt as though his quarry was quickening its pace for some reason. He would just have to be faster.
As he came upon a clearing he stopped. Something was amiss. He didnt know exactly what at first, but after a closer scan, he saw it. A wraith. One of those damned things that had been hunting DF a while back.
Curses Avatara fumed I should have realized that they would still be hounded by these things. If I can take this one out, perhaps it will ease their pace slightly so that I can catch them
The wraith wasnt even looking at Avatara, giving him the advantage. He charged up a magical blast as he drew his blade...
Icel had sent his wraith out several hours ago, but had lost track of his minion. He hadnt anticipated it taking this long, and problems had emerged around him that caused him to blank out. During this blackout state, odd visions reoccurred in his head. The same vision as before, but this time more intense. He could actually make out what it was that was being said, and he traced out the runic design that played in his eyes. When he finally came back to, it was turning back into the morning hours, and he knew his trap wouldnt exist if he wasnt there to spring it. Scanning the area furthur, he finally felt the wraith on ahead. Far ahead, he had some trekking to do...
An odd feeling flew across Saria. Her powers, well, DF's powers were aching to be unleashed. But this time, it wasnt due to assisting her at all. It felt like it was pulling her back. Back to where she had come from. Her mind swam for a moment as she regained her composure, but as she did, she realized she wasnt in a good situation either. All around her, a group of bandits had come out of hiding...
"Hello miss" one of the bandits spoke aloud, startling Saria "Happen to have anything of value?"
"Back you meaningless curr" Saria snarled, fueled by her exhaustion and the indignation of her situation
"Now thats no way to speak to us, we were just gonna take your stuff" the bandit grinned a feral grin "but now that youve hurt my feelings, we might just have to take something more..."
Saria quickly drew her bow and an arrow and aimed it at the bandit.
"Im no fool, I will strike you dead as you stand if anybody takes one step closer" Saria barked, her nerviousness growing inside her.
"Try it love, youll find me not so easy a tar..." whiff, the arrow barely missed the bandit's head as he dodged "That does it, men attack, take her down. She will know suffering"
The bandits all charged Saria, prompting her to take action...
The initial spell had cloaked the wraith in flames, but it was only a matter of moments before the wraith extinguished its body and started to fight back. Avatara was using the utmost of finesse in his movements, dodging the pitiful spells the wraith was throwing at him and slashing back with his sword. The urge to continue using magic was there, but Avatara knew that he could take this thing on without it.
A low slash here, a high thrust there. His pace quickened as he whipped his blade around. He used his other arm as a shield against spells, chanting countercurses to avoid being hurt. Slowly he whittled down the wraith's energy, giving him more openings to attack. A hard thrust to the center was blocked away, but Avatara mixed in a potent fire blast, sending his adversary back several steps and obviously injured. Its movement was slow, its recovery was not going well. Avatara began to charge his foe with a lethal strike when he felt something behind him, and whatever it was, it wasnt friendly. Rather than turn from the foe he had right in front of him, Avatara changed his stance slightly. When his strike landed on the wraith, it wasnt so much as a killing blow, but what came next wasnt either...
Saria got one more shot off before the bandits were upon her. The proof of that shot was the first dead bandit. The others became enraged by this sight and started by trying to grab her.
Desperation finally got the better of Saria, and she unleashed the powers she was granted by DF. Though unrefined and untrained as she was, the rudimentary skills she had acquired since her flight began surfaced. The first assailant that touched her arm promptly had his arm burned off with a dark spell aimed right at his arm. Saria then created an aura around herself that pulsed out, knocking every last bandit several steps back.
She then stepped towards their leader and cast one dark bolt after another. Blasting into the bandit with furious speed, these bolts quickly ended his life. The rest of the group watched with horror as she started throwing them around the whole area. They tried fleeing, but she took up her bow again, and using her marksmanship, she shot every last one dead before they could get out of her range.
Saria's adrenaline started to fade but the magic wouldnt subside. It had taken ahold of her again. This time, she felt drawn back through her old path. She gathered up the tethers to DF's bodysled, and went back.
Icel recognized this one. He had traveled with DF in the past, and was now wandering on out alone. The more disturbing fact of this was that his trap was now ruined, as this man was making short work out of his wraith. Before long, the wraith was being overwhelmed, and looked to be dead soon.
Icel quickly charged up a fierce magic spell and hurled it at the back of the man. Without second thought, he hurled several more fierce spells at the same place. The sheer magic should kill an unaware foe Icel grinned fiercly
Right before getting hit by the barrage of spells, Avatara noticed a shadowy power flare up ahead in the distance. He knew DF's power, but this felt raw. He knew DF didnt lose his power, but this didnt feel much like his at all.
It was then that the first wave hit Avatara.
Avatara tried to turn after the second hit him, but the third and forth wave slammed into him, sending him flying away, stunned by the ferocity.
As he landed he tried to regain his feet, but to no avail, the power of the attacks had drained his energy. He was as good as dead.
Icel watched the man fly off several feet and stop moving. Smiling inwardly, Icel made his way over to the body but was stopped in his tracks as he passed by the wraith. Another vision slammed into his consciousness, bringing him to his knees. Before he even knew it, he was chanting aloud the sounds he had heard in the previous visions. He then drew his sword...
...and cut his arm off. The arm made useless by Saria only a couple nights back was now on the ground beside him. Instead of howling in agony, Icel just continued his chant, and used to blood of his arm to make a small sigil in front of himself. The dark magic then consumed all around Icel, drawing the wraith closer.
Chanting still, Icel attempted to dominate his lieutenant's mind, and bend its will forcibly. The wraith resisted all it could, but it had drained most of its energy in the fight against Avatara. Before long, the wraith was still, and Icel planted the same sigil on its body. The dark magic then warped the body of the wraith, fusing it to Icel's body and forming a new arm. The skin was a pale white, and the arm itself seemed almost all bone, but it infused Icel with a newfound power.
A side effect of all this was the sudden screaming in Icel's brain that threatened to tear his consciousness apart. It was at this moment, he noticed the man stirring nearby, and figured he best retreat before the man took his revenge upon Icel for the sneak attack.
Cloaking himself, Icel whisked away deeper into the forest to try and combat the shrieking now prevailant in his head.
Avatara was stunned by the sight of it all. From the moment Icel had slashed his arm off his body, Avatara couldnt look away, and the horror of what he saw all in all was too much.
As Icel started to stumble around, clutching his temple, Avatara knew this would be the perfect time to strike.....if he could. He rocked back and forth, and even managed to prop himself up on his arm, but to no avail, Icel had disappeared, along with the energy Avatara had managed to summon. Falling back down, Avatara went into a sudden sleep...
The dark eminations from ahead of her didnt deter her in the slightest. Saria was determined now. The shadow energy was invigorating, restoring. She was able to do anything now. In the back of her mind, she knew it was a farce, and that the magic would make her a slave to it, but she couldnt avoid using it now. Her exhausted state left her with few options. Her fight with the bandits caused her to drop the last few vitality potions she had left. This magic was the only thing that kept her going.
It wasnt too long before she came upon a clearing. The morning light was now brightly upon her, and she noticed several things out of place. There were scorch marks all over, there was an arm lying on the ground, and Avatara was unconscious nearby.
Well, I guess this is as good a place as any to stop and rest Saria thought to herself, and let sleep take her over.
It wasnt until several hours later that she awoke to a constant noise nearby.
Avatara grinned from ear to ear as he hid the pile of pebbles he had been tossing...
This post has been edited by Desert Fox : 26 November 2005 - 04:08 AM
It was morning now.
The others ought to be awake by now, Wizard figured. They’re probably down at breakfast. As long as I’m at Pynx, I may as well take the luxury of breakfast myself, I think.
Before heading downstairs, Wizard pushed his door shut and pulled open a dresser drawer. He had already stashed his clean robes inside of it. Most of them were, of course, black, but he did have a few others.
“Hmm, I wonder if it would be better to wear a lighter, more uplifting color today,” Wizard thought out loud, primarily with Selinus in mind. He decided in favor of this option and promptly put on a light-gray cloak.
“Well, it’s not as nice as black, but it will suffice,” he muttered to himself as he grabbed his staff out of the corner and opened his door.
Guards were still patrolling each hallway, but they did not take much note of Wizard. He walked directly downstairs. On his way to the cafeteria, he paused in front of the door to the caves that ran underneath Pnyx.
What is going on down there? Someone has been inside that room just last night, I’d say. Wizard puzzled over this oddity for another moment before he looked up and realized that Selax was standing at the end of the hall.
When he saw Selax, Wizard forgot about food again and strolled over to talk with him.
“Wizard,” Selax spoke in a tone of greeting.
“Good morning,” Wizard replied politely.
Noting that Wizard’s cloak was a different color, Selax made a direct observation, “You look older in that color, Wizard.”
“You gave me this robe, remember? It’s been awhile now, but that doesn’t change the fact that you gave it to me,” Wizard replied, half-indignant.
“Why do you think I gave you that particular color?” Selax questioned teasingly. Wizard muttered something under his breath in response, but the elemental had already moved on to a new subject, a more serious one. “We need to find out what’s going on here, Wizard. Have you made any headway?”
Wizard thought for a moment, adjusting to the new topic, and then answered, “Not really, but I was thinking about it all night. I just don’t know. It seems obvious that Lindus would be the target of an assassination since he’s so important, but when it comes down to actually naming the beneficiaries , it’s difficult. Lindus rarely ever makes a ruling that affects anything other than the magisterium, and the only other possibility is that it was an attempt to take his title, which only another master mage would receive,” Wizard ended in a frustrated tone.
Selax picked up where Wizard had left off, “And taking the condition that the student body is currently in into account, I doubt that an agreement over another headmaster would come very easily, any ways.”
“Unless there is one instructor that all of them like, but, even if there were, why wouldn’t a mage who knows that he is the most well liked by the students not wait until Lindus dies naturally? Surely a master would be smarter than that. . . I just don’t want to believe that they’re behind.”
Selax said nothing; he stood listening intently.
Wizard sighed before proceeding, “I had always hoped not to live to see the day when the other mages would turn against the headmaster, but it is likely to happen one day, since they are all ultimately human and are liable to seek power even at the cost of a life. Either way, the answer has to be here, somewhere in Pynx. I’m going to spend today around the students, I think. I’ll see if I can find out if there is a master mage that they all like, and I’d also like to find out why the master mages are feeling opposition from them, as Selinus said.”
“All right. I need to talk more with Selinus about a few things, which is why I’m here.” Selax paused for a moment and then continued as though he had just remembered something, “Oh yes, have you considered the possibility that it may be the students?”
“What’s this?” Wizard asked abruptly, his line of thought obviously elsewhere.
“Do you remember what Selinus was saying yesterday about the student body?”
“Well, just a few minutes ago, Selinus and the other mages entered the council chambers,” Selax gestured to the door beside him. “He was saying something to another master. I didn’t hear it entirely but it went something like this --”
“I don’t like where this is leading. It just doesn’t seem to me that it could be them...such good students,” Wizard interrupted Selax, saying what he was about to say.
“It was something like that.”
“Well, then. . . I’d say that not only does Selinus believe that there is something wrong with the students here, but he has a couple of very particular students in mind. Unfortunately, we don’t know the names of the students that he suspects. You may ask him about that when you talk to him, but I don’t know if he’s going to take us into his confidence quite yet.”
“Last thing: Ask Selinus if we may have permission to enter the tunnels beneath Pnyx. Everything seems to have started there, and that may be where the key to all of this lies.”
They stood there a few moments in silence before Wizard spoke up, “Morning class has already started, I suppose, but other classes will be starting soon. I’d best start my day as well,” Wizard said reluctantly. “I’ll meet you in the cafeteria at the lunch hour if possible. Hopefully, we’ll both have found something out by that time, and maybe we can get somewhere.”
“Maybe we can. Lindus has to wake up sometime.”
“Sometime soon, I hope,” Wizard said before he turned and began walking down the hall.
The first thing Wizard intended to do was check on his horse for the morning. On the way down the hall, he stopped in the food area. There were very few of the students still present, but most of the group was here having breakfast. Wizard didn’t have time to eat, so he stopped by each person, except for the students, and requested that they try to be back in the cafe by noon for a meeting.
After he did this, he walked out and proceeded with his tasks.
This post has been edited by The Wizard : 27 November 2005 - 02:09 AM