For Whom the Bell Tolls (TS)



  • The Great Ball

    It was a beautiful day on the island of Cythera, as if the cloudless sky above knew that today of all days was truly special. Pnyx, home of Cythera’s Mages, was abuzz with excitement as nobles from all of the five houses and sorcerers of every kind arrived from all across the land to celebrate the marriage of Lord Malis of Attis to Danae, Sorceress of Pnyx.

    The guests saw this as a wonderful occasion but, for the others who came, it was really the chance of a lifetime. Bards, tumblers, and musicians, performers of every kind, descended upon Pnyx, hoping to gain entry into the ball for the chance to perform before all of Cythera’s most influential people. Among them, walking with a spring in his step, a man with solid gray hair and blue eyes, in a vibrant green tunic and a shimmering sky blue cape, carried an obsidian flute with silver scrollwork that he twirled expertly between his fingers and he wore a pleasant grin on his lined but clean shaven face.

    His gaze fell upon the others around him, who walked in a great line down the road the snaked its way to Pnyx, and he saw how tense they were, but this was supposed to be a celebration wasn’t it? A carriage slowly rumbled by on the right pulled by a pair of horses, its doors lacquered black, probably belonging to some minor noble who was only just arriving. The bard separated from the group and ran after the slowly moving carriage, leaping onto the back and nimbly flipping up onto the roof. Many of the performers looked at him strangely and the driver over the carriage turned around aghast.

    The bard bowed to everyone with a sweeping gesture and a flourish of his cape, and then spoke grandly in a voice that would carry down the road, “I am Kaius Tarn, the great Tale Spinner. I have just completed a great journey from kingdoms and lands far across the sea, and I come here bearing wonderful treasures that, in my generosity, I wish to share with you all.”

    A young woman’s voice drifted to his ears from somewhere below and he looked down to see that it came from within the carriage he stood upon, “And what treasures would that be?”

    He smiled brightly, twirling his flute in his hands once more, “Why, the greatest of all my Lady, I bring you music.” A disbelieving silence fell over the crowd, and many simply stopped paying attention as he lifted the instrument to his lips. The carriage driver wore a sour look as he turned to chase the performer off, but that was until the man began to play. Kaius closed his eyes and started with a single pleasant note that he used to recapture the eyes and ears of those around him and from there he changed the tune of rapidly flowing harmony, a merry sound as if he had taken the beauty of a starlit night sky and changed it into music.

    When he was finished several let out sighs, sad that it was over, while many simply cheered and asked for him to play again. Kaius opened his eyes and glanced off towards Pnyx, so very close now, then simply shook his head, “I am sorry friends but it appears we have reached the end of the road, it looks as if almost all the guests have arrived and the celebration will soon begin. I wish for you all to enjoy the ball and maybe we shall meet once again.” With another flourishing bow the bard leapt from the carriage to the road and began to walk, away from Pnyx.

    From behind he heard a wooden door softly close, and then the voice he recalled from earlier, “Master Tarn, please wait.” The bard stopped and turned around to see a stunningly beautiful woman with flowing blonde hair and enchanting hazel eyes, she smiled shyly, “Would you accompany me to the ball?”

    Kaius blinked, but recovered quickly with a deep bow, “My lady, how could I refuse?”



  • Moving as fast as he did, Selax reached the pyramid about the same time as the group traveling with Tarn did. The security was tight due to the importance of the occasion but not as tight as it had been in the recent trouble and most of it was concentrated around the wedding area. Indeed, quite a few of the upper levels were empty and Selax had no trouble entering unnoticed through a window.

    He settled down to wait for the reception to start, so he could begin his search...

    This post has been edited by Selax : 09 March 2007 - 05:28 PM



  • Silver arrived shortly after Selax, and approached the huge doors of the magesterium. He fidgeted with the invite he was holding and then abruptly sat down, and waited for his adventuring companions to arrive; he did not want to enter the crowded halls alone.



  • Silver didn't have to wait long.
    Before much time had passed, Cat, Starfall and Kerran arrived, and joined him outside the Magesterium. None wanted to go in until someone else came who knew how to behave at balls.

    OoC Where is this TS going? Or is it a secret? BiC



  • To pass the time while waiting, Silver made-up strange memories, inserted them into hollow metal balls, and threw them at Starfall.



  • Retsy walked along with a small group of people from the Tavern. It seemed several people were feeling antisocial, and were walking by themselves. Retsy's mind was so filled with excitement and wonder that she didn't notice for a while that the path to Kosha was lined with carpet. Quite convenient really, because several ladies had dragging dresses that would otherwise be getting filthy!

    People around her were discussing the carpet, and from what Retsy gathered, the carpet extended from Cademia, Kosha, Odemia, and Catamarca, all the way to Pnyx. Already proof that this ball would be most extravagant.



  • OoC
    Hmm, who's going to start the ball?
    BiC

    Over an hour had passed since Selax had arrived and he now judged that the part of the city he was in had emptied out enough for him to begin his search. First, he headed to the library. Selinus was gone and everyone else was getting ready for the reception so the room stood empty. He examined some of the records of more recent events but found nothing that he didn't already know. A careful search revealed that the room was empty. Making sure that no one had seen him, Selax headed back out into the halls. (Although anyone who entered might note that someone had shuffled through some of the material, they would not think anything of it because the room was after all a heavily-used library.)



  • Jehezekel walked along with Retsy's group, his sandals were tucked into his sash, and every so often he did a cart-wheel along the carpet. Soon they reached Pnyx, and joined those waiting outside, and went inside.



  • Brianna and the Scribe arrived at Pnyx, flashed their invitations, and passed through the gate. Cat, Starfall et al. were standing around just inside, seemingly at a loss.

    "Where's Sideline?" Brianna asked, after quickly scanning the area. "I'm not sure how they'll feel about us all barging our way in without him, since his name is on all the invitations."

    "Haven't seen him," Jehezekel replied.

    "Brianna, you're still in your adventuring gear!" Cat exclaimed.

    "Of course. You don't think I'd travel all the way from Cademia in a ballgown, do you? There'll be someplace I can change around here, somewhere." So saying, she departed to find a free room.

    The Scribe stood by the entrance and waited, with inhuman patience - which is to say, he kept his impatience very well hidden.

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    Sideline was almost relieved when Katze didn't answer his knock on the door of the house where she was staying. He knew how she'd feel about dressing up for a ball - she'd reluctantly agreed to wear a dress for Wolmark and Leandra's wedding, and swore she'd never wear one again after Flynn and Moonshadow's. Nevertheless, he'd hoped she'd be able to come. After all, it wasn't her dancing skills he wanted, but her other, more subtle abilities. He felt like he was about to walk into the lion's mouth, and he wanted backup.

    He quickly scibbled a note, folded it into the invitation and tucked the bundle under the door. Either she'd get it in time or she wouldn't, but it was the best he could do. He didn't have the time to waste trying to track her down.

    Fortunately, the other people he wanted to contact were already at Pnyx, on business of their own.

    This post has been edited by cache22 : 10 March 2007 - 10:58 PM



  • OoC
    I don't mean for these four to become central characters in the story; I just thought it'd make sense (and be potentially useful) to have them there. This ball is also a chance to use more of the game characters.
    BiC

    The wedding was such a big event that four of Cythera's greatest heroes�Hector, Meleager, Timon, and Aethon themselves�would be in attendance. Hector was there by virtue of his position with the Cytheran forces and as a representative of Alaric. Meleager was there because he had recently taken a job as bodyguard for House Strymon. Timon was there because the prominence of his work on the elements (in the years before and since his travels with Bellerophon) had been great enough that he'd been authorized to teach a class on the subject and had become a Master in the years that had passed; thus, he lived at the city anyway. Aethon was there because he'd been invited by his good friend Halos.

    Indeed, part of the reason for the prominence of the occasion was the presence of these four.

    Inside the city, many of the guests were waiting patiently and expectantly, although one was busily arguing with the cooks about the quality of the food. Everyone expected the reception and ball to start soon.



  • "You made it!" Trundaylan exclaimed happily as a somewhat bewildered Ilene entered through the gates. Her mood brightened upon seeing her husband standing proudly in the House Attis garb, complete with the embroidered emblems indicating his newly attained rank.

    "I see Malis hasn't given you a break yet," she teased between kisses, grinning.

    "Its a big day for him," he grinned back. "Where's my little one?"

    "Daddy, can they really make fire with their hands?" The young girl asked skeptically as she pulled on the hem of her father's tabard, pointing at a group of grey-robed students making their way across the courtyard.

    "Of course they can. If you behave during the ceremony, maybe you'll get to see some magic tonight," he hoisted the little girl up onto his shoulder. "I've got another hour of work before I can join you, but I can escort you around a bit now," he said as he led them into the pyramid city.



  • Enna joined Retsy's group, with Wolfie following behind. Having just made a new friend, she wasn't going to desert Retsy in a hurry.
    While not having any beautiful clothes for the wedding, she instinctively felt that it wouldn't matter so much as her turning up.
    Although what they'd say about Wolfie was another matter.



  • In Catamarca, Katerei stood dispiritedly before her house. The cool ocean wind whipped through her hair and inside her open cloak, chilling her bare arms, but she barely noticed. She was caught up in memories, thoughts and regrets. It had been a long, long time since she had been here last.

    She absently traced her fingers along the stone edge of the well, the only significant feature of the yard. Mostly it was full of scruffy grass and weeds, having had no one to tend to it for years. It would be a nice to have a garden here, she thought, if it would survive the salt in the air. She drew up the well bucket experimentally, but as expected, the dampness from the ocean and the well air had caused the wood to rot through.

    Sighing, she walked up the dirt path to the front door of the little house and withdrew a leather thong from her bag. A small silver key was looped onto it, which she used to unlock the door. Katerei stepped inside warily, not sure what to expect, but it looked exactly the same as she had left it. It was a wonder the place was undamaged, for she had been sure ruffians would have been through at least a few times in all the time she'd been away.

    Katerei wandered down the corridor through the center of the house, looking in at the different rooms to check up on them all. The sitting-room remained sparsely furnished, with only some woven mats on the floor and a wooden cabinet that she used to keep her herbal supplies and healing potions in; however, a brief smile was brought to her face to see the little pool in the corner still full of water, fed by a natural spring. It seemed to be the only thing in proper order though. In her bedroom, the mattress on the floor smelled of hay gone bad, and the faded curtains fluttered limply in the breeze when she propped open the window shutters. The pantry in the kitchen was empty. She never had spent much time in her house, but it seemed even more desolate now than ever before. Hmm... I'll have to come back to clean it up and do some redecorating when this wedding is done with.

    She returned to her bedroom where she'd left her bag and unpacked her belongings quickly, for she owned little. Musing over her two dresses, she took off the violet travelling one and put it in her bag to take along. She planned on travelling to Pnyx in wolf form, so she wouldn't need to change once getting there, but it would be nice to have something to change into if she decided to return another way. After changing into the delicate burgundy dress, she put her hair into two braids, pinned it up, and wove some pretty little blue flowers into it. Once she had re-packed her bag with everything she would need, she slung it over her shoulder, put on the nice new cloak she'd bought at the tailor's, and was ready to go.

    Locking the door to her house behind her again, she stepped foward into the yard and cast one last melancholy look at the ocean. A moment later, a small blue wolf was loping down the hill towards the road to Pnyx.

    ~

    It seemed that most of the guests were already there by the time she arrived. Katerei showed her invitation at the gate and went inside. The whole place had a festive air to it, with elaborate decorating, chefs running everywhere making last-minute preparations for the reception later, and guests laughing and chatting with each other. She sighed inwardly. Celebrations always made her depressed.

    There were a few people she recognized from Cademia, mostly patrons of the Alraeican Tavern, but none she felt particularly inclined to talk to. The Scribe was standing near the entrance waiting for someone, and she might have talked to Brianna, but the other woman was nowhere to be seen. However, looking around, she did spot another familiar face. "Trundaylan!" she exclaimed, pleasantly taken aback. She had never known the man well, but it eased her heart slightly to see an old acquaintance again.

    "Ah, Katerei, how are you?" he greeted her with a smile. "I don't believe I've seen you for quite a long time now."

    "I'm- ah- well-" she stumbled, and he laughed kindly at her awkward expression. "I understand," he assured her. "I know you're not fond of these fancy sorts of events."

    "Yes," she said with a weak smile, "I'm trying to remember why I decided to come again. But it's the social event of the year, I probably shouldn't miss it. How have you been doing?"

    "As well as could be hoped, I suppose. I'm here working as a guard for House Attis; I've been very fortunate to secure a good position there. Also, have you met my family yet?" He indicated a pretty young woman nearby, who politely excused herself from the person she had been talking to and came over to her husband, leading along a small girl by the hand. "This is my wife, Ilene, and my daughter. Ilene, this is Katerei."

    "Pleased to meet you," Katerei said, giving a smile and a small curtsy to the other woman. "A very belated congratulations on your wedding, and your lovely daughter. What's your name, sweetie?" she asked warmly, leaning over to be on eye level with the child.

    The girl stared back, awestruck by the sight of the blue-toned woman. "Mariya," she said, and removed her thumb from her mouth to hold up three chubby little fingers. "I'm this many."

    "Three! Why, aren't you a big girl! I'd better not turn my back or you'll be as tall as me when I look again!" Katerei smiled at the girl, who giggled and resumed sucking her thumb.

    "Actually-" Trundaylan looked over at his wife, struck by a sudden thought. "Katerei, could I ask a big favour of you? Would you mind looking after Mariya during the ceremony and reception? I don't want to be a bother, but I'll be fairly busy today and I'm sure Ilene could use a break. We'd appreciate it so much."

    "No, that's not a problem at all," Katerei said, relief suddenly washing over her. "She seems like a dear, and it'd be nice for me too, since no one will actually expect me to dance or anything then."

    "Oh, that'd be wonderful," Ilene said gratefully. "Thank you so much. I'm sure you'll be fine with her; she's a little energetic, but very pleasant. I promise I'll be back to get her as soon as the reception is over tonight."

    "Do you know how to do magic?" Mariya interjected curiously.

    "Magic? Well, I'm not so sure about that..." Katerei said, but when the girl's face fell in disappointment, she winked as if confiding in her. Holding Mariya's palm out, she waved her other hand above and created a little star-shaped piece of ice. The young girl squealed in delight. "Careful now, it'll melt soon," Katerei warned, "but I can make you other pretty things later if you're a good girl."

    Trundaylan smiled. He knew that despite the woman's normally detached manner, his daughter would be in good hands. "Thank you again. Well, I'd best be off, but you two have fun together." He kissed his wife and bid them all goodbye, departing to track down some important official. Ilene nodded her appreciation and left as well.

    "Well, love, it's just you and me now," Katerei said, taking Mariya's hand in hers. "What shall we do until the wedding?"



  • OoC
    If somebody objects to time given here, please let me know and I'll change it to something more agreeable. I'm setting the time mainly to get things moving a little more.

    I think that I'll be using in-game characters for the wedding right now, due to my lack of characters there.
    BiC

    Patiently, Selax continued his search upstairs. He'd found nothing but was wary of sneaking into the catacombs below because of the risk of detection and of the unknown dangers down there. Before he'd come, he'd planned several ways of sneaking below, but he planned to wait on those for the moment.

    In the hall downstairs, Hector and Timon sat at their table and watched the goings-on in the crowded area. Meleager was off with Propontis, and Aethon was telling stories about their adventures to a group of younger students.

    "It's almost like old times," Timon commented wistfully.

    Knowing what Timon meant, Hector nodded. As the two talked, the conversation turned�as it often did when any of these four were together�to what had happened to Bellerophon and how he was doing.

    Soon, both had to get up and return to their respective duties. There were still some preparations to make.

    The wedding and such was do to start in twenty to thirty minutes.



  • A monk-like figure strolled up to the gates of Pnyx, hands tucked into his sleeves, and downturned face hidden in the shadow of his hood. One of the guards stepped into his path.

    "Pnyx is closed for a private celebration. Come back in a few days."

    A brown-stained envelope appeared from one of the stranger's sleeves. The guard took it reluctantly, unfurling the wrinkled parchment from inside.

    "How on earth did someone like you get an invitation?" His only reply was silence. "Oh well, it seems legit. I guess you can pass." He offered the invitation back.

    The hooded figure bowed slightly, and the document disappeared back into his sleeve. The guard watched him stroll on into the great pyramidal city. The day was quite hot, but the guard still felt a shiver run down his spine.

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    Trundaylan approached Malis' dressing chamber. His duties at this time including escorting his patron to the ceremony, as well as performing any other tasks the noble required of him. Other, more menial servants would see to the lord's dressing, but Trundaylan thought it was the appropriate time for him to report on preparations, and check if there was anything else Malis wished him to see to.

    The door flew open as he approached, and a small, officious gentleman exited with somewhat less aplomb than he'd have liked to project. "We'll start when I'm ready, I tell you," Malis shouted after him. "He will come, and I simply must speak with him before we do anything!"

    Trundaylan dipped his head to the discomforted official as he hurried past, reasoning that a little deference on his part might help to smooth ruffled feathers. Being a guard-officer for a noble house was often about more than just being good in a fight, he'd learned. In the right circumstances, even politeness could be considered a weapon.

    "Ah, Trundaylan!" Malis exclaimed, waving him forward. "Close the door, would you? Is there any sign?"

    "No, milord, I've not yet been informed that he's arrived."

    "You're assuming he'd arrive openly. But he might, at that - I never did know quite what to make of him. Very well, keep your eyes peeled. Bring him here the instant he arrives."

    " If he arrives," Trundaylan thought, but didn't say. He remembered the snatch of conversation he'd overheard through the open door.

    "And do stay alert for trouble, won't you?" Malis tossed after him just before the door closed between them.

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    Trundaylan posted himself discretely by the gate, sharing a seat and conversation with Ilene, but the pleasant diversion didn't last nearly long enough. One of the gate guards made a discreet signal in his direction, and he hurried over to confront the individual being held at the entrance. He was an average enough man, by appearances, clothed in a cream-coloured silk tunic laced loosely at the throat, over black leather breaches and boots. A black-hilted, business-like sword swung from his belt, a stark contrast to the flashy ceremonial weapons that were de rigeur for such a high profile event.

    "Is there a problem?" Trundaylan asked. The guard whispered in his ear. "Ah, I see. Sir, if you'd kindly come this way?"

    Trundaylan led the guest to Malis' room, knocked gently, and entered when instructed.

    "Sideline, my friend! At last!" Malis exclaimed. "Please, come in! Trundaylan, you too. And close the door behind you."

    Sideline waited until the door clicked shut, then turned to face his host. "Good to see you, too, Malis. Now, why don't you tell me what I'm really doing here?"

    This post has been edited by cache22 : 12 March 2007 - 07:30 PM



  • Reclining back in a lavish leather seat while the carriage slowly rumbled along, Kaius smoothed over his blue cape and flashed a dazzling smile to the shy Lady across from him. Her long blonde hair cascaded down the front of her white dress as she turned her head, her fair cheeks coloring lightly as she blushed, but though she portrayed herself as a faint hearted noblewoman her eyes gave away the lie, they were warrior’s eyes. The bard looked out the small window to his right, studying the long line of travelers on the road that they slowly passed, “I may be a bard my lady, but I have dabbled in the magic arts a time or two, if someone like me could see through your illusion then there are probably small children at Pnyx who could easily.”

    The shy smile melted away from the Lady’s face, replaced by an impressed grin. Her fair skin darkened many shades, her blonde hair faded like mist and was replaced by far shorter red, and the look in her eyes never changed, even while their color flashed from brown to ruby-crimson. The white dress she wore faded to a low cut silken black one worked with ivory lace, bearing sleeves that reached half way to her elbows, her hands hidden beneath fine black gloves. The woman had been pretty before, but now she was a stunningly beautiful temptress. The way her dress snugly fit over her lithe voluptuous form made it somewhat difficult to look away. She placed a gloved hand beneath her chin, pursing her full red lips in thought she locked eyes with the bard, “There is someone I have to find, but it would be better if he did not see me before… well, you understand don’t you?” her sultry voice trailed off; she obviously had more to say.

    “Pardon me for asking,” he smiled, “but as you are not truly a lady of the land, how do you expect to make it passed the gates?”

    The woman looked at him quizzically, holding out her hand, “Why, with an invitation of course.” The light around her open palm wavered, the way heat rises from the road on a scorching day, and with a small flash a white parchment appeared, looking just like any other invitation would. She caught the doubt in his eyes, “Yes, a mage would see this illusion for what it was if they looked closely, but I am only showing this to a guard at the gate, and he need only see it once.” She closed her hand and the invitation disappeared in a small shower of white sparks.

    Kaius arched an eyebrow, “So how can this old fool be of help?”

    “Oh, I think you already know master Tarn. The more people look to you, the less they will look to me, and I think that is for the best. This could be good for you Kaius, an audience with all of the most influential people in Cythera, many only dream of this kind of opportunity.” She sat back, waiting for his reply.

    Tarn nodded, “It is a wonderful offer but, what if I refuse?”

    She giggled to herself, though the humor never reached her eyes, “Oh, don’t be like that Kaius. I like you, truly I do, please do not make me do anything that I might regret later.”

    The bard was quiet for a time; sure that he had only seen a fraction of this woman’s magical abilities. Still, he had earned passage into Pnyx just as he wanted, and the mysterious beauty did not wish to give him much of a choice anyway. She was right about one thing; this could be very good for him indeed. At last he bowed to her, “As you wish my lady, but, before we go any further, can I trouble you for the pleasure of your name?”

    The woman’s smile broadened, “Certainly, I am Maladera, and you may call me Mala.”

    **

    It was a beautiful day in Cythera with a cloudless blue sky and a cool soothing wind. Most people wasted the journey on horseback or in a carriage, but not Aron, no not him. Armor gleaming magnificently in the sun, crimson cape flowing gently out behind him, the Paladin marched cheerfully down the dirt road on his way to the mystical pyramid city of Pnyx that up till now he had only heard of. From the open visor of his helm he enjoyed the natural scenery as he strolled past, the green grass and colorful flowers, the emerald trees that swayed lightly in the breeze, that bandit that came to stand in the middle of the road.

    Aron stopped his walk, something in that picture didn’t quite belong, but he couldn’t place his finger on it. Yes, grass was indeed green, and flowers were often pretty… in his experience trees did in fact sway in the breeze, and also if you played the right music for them… bandits with scruffy black hair and five o’clock shadows did stand in the middle of roads holding broadswords, wearing brown leather clothes and dark smiles didn’t they? No, no, that was it. Aron glanced up towards the sky to note the position of the sun, he could make it to Pnyx just before the ceremony if he kept moving right that minute, he looked back to meet the bandits dark eyed gaze, “Listen, can I just give you some gold and we call it a day? I’m kind of supposed to be somewhere.”

    The bandit’s eyes went wide in stunned surprise, though he recovered after a second with a laugh, “I knew nobles were cowardly, but this is a first.” His eyes strayed to the silver hilt that rose above Aron’s right pauldron and the sapphire jewel embedded into it, “Tell ya what, you drop all your gold and that sword there and you can go wherever you want.”

    The paladin hung his head, light gleaming off the blue wings on either side of his ornate helm. Finally he looked back up, “Can I give you all the gold and an apple?” The smile on the bandit’s face turned into a frown, “Fine,” Aron sighed, “Two apples, that’s as high as I go though.”

    The lone bandit sneered, “Are you mocking me, you sniveling dog?” he hefted his iron broadsword, needing to grip the handle with two hands as the blade was nearly as long as he was tall. He rested the flat of the heavy blade on his shoulder, “Do you wanna die?”

    Glancing up at the sky once more the paladin shook his head, reaching up to clasp the hilt of his sword, “Alright, I’ll fight you, but let’s hurry this up.”

    The bandit snarled, “Are you insane?! I’ll—“

    Aron drew his sword so quickly its path was only visible as a flash of light, he stood, right arm fully extended, mirrored blade perfectly parallel to the ground, its point aimed directly for the bandit. From his helm the paladin’s sapphire eyes held none of the humor they had before, only an unearthly chill, “Seriously, less talky, more stabby, let’s go.”

    The bandit swallowed hard, unsure of what to make of this turn of events, he stood immobile for a second that seemed to stretch for a very long time, but the Paladin’s movements snapped him out of it. The force of Aron’s first sprinting step sent rocks and dirt flying back as he tore a single groove into the road, the bandit raised his massive sword to defend against the paladin’s attack, the attack looked like a short arch of white light and Aron took several running steps passed the defending man. The bandit had closed his eyes when he saw the attack coming, bracing for an impact that never came. He felt the rush of the wind as Aron had run by, he heard the rippling of the man’s cape, he even saw the masterful slash that came his way, but his broadsword never moved, the attack missed completely. He turned around to see Aron’s back, and he smiled sinisterly, “You missed fool, now it’s my turn!” He raised his blade high—

    Clang!

    The sword’s blade fell uselessly to the dirt road, leaving the bandit holding only its hilt. His eyes widened as he saw how perfectly the iron weapon had been severed, but the look of surprise quickly darkened to one of rage. Aron turned to face the man, “Yea, I’m sorry about that, but can I go now?”

    The bandit threw his the useless hilt to the ground, reaching behind his back and pulling out a pair of short swords, “You can leave when your family finds your looted corpse…”

    Aron threw both of his hands up in exasperation, “You have more weapons?!” he looked around, really looked across the green plains that surrounded them, no one was around for as far as the eye can see, “I don’t have time for this, take the sword.” In annoyance he tossed the silver hilted blade to the dirt at the bandit’s feet.

    The man looked at the paladin for a long moment before sheathing his own weapons and kneeling to pick up Aron’s, shaking his head as he did, “Good to see you wised up, too bad you already went and made me mad.” He sneered, “Let’s see if you like being killed with your own sword.” Standing straight the bandit twirled the blade once in his hand, admiring its perfect balance, its amazing craftsmanship. The dust around his feet stirred, slowly beginning to swirl as he gazed upon the blade’s mirrored surface, as he saw beyond the blade and stared into the vastness of that which was infinity. Sparkling light crept away from the blade, spinning, enveloping the man who held it, infusing into his very being, “What… what is this?” his voice reverberated like a faint and distant echo, his eyes stared out blankly, being overcome by a bright light. He smiled as he drank from an endless font of power he was never meant to know. White light enveloped him, encased him in dazzling armor and flowing robes to brilliant to look at directly. Great angelic wings unfurled from his back and he felt as though he could fly to the heavens right then and there, “This power…” he laughed hysterically, “I am a GOD!”

    Aron looked on in a bored sort of way, “Wait for it… wait for it…”

    The bandit looked down upon the paladin, “What are you mumbling about mortal? You should be nearly before me, I who gaze into the depths of all that is!”

    The paladin shook his head, “Not everything, not yet anyway. Listen, this is probably going to hurt.”

    The glowing figure only had time to look on quizzically as the sword it held began to hum, and he felt a great fear of the unimaginable force that suddenly rose from within it, “What is… wait no!” with a piercing cry the power he sought flooded in to him, far to much for his frail mortal psyche to bear— ** KRRRAAAAKOOOOMMMM!!! ** in a flash of blue light and a vicious roar of thunder the bandit was blasted down the road, smashing into the ground and bouncing several times before sliding to a halt many yards away.

    The sword hung suspended in the air still shining faintly with residual power. Slowly Aron approached it, reaching out a gauntleted hand and clasping the hilt. His touch quieted the blade and its glow faded. As he sheathed the weapon he looked far down the road to see the bandit on the floor convulsing every few moments. Aron frowned, shaking his head, and called over “That’s going to hurt later… probably for a while.” The man let out a pained moan, “Well the good news is you’re not going to remember how much that hurt,” he grinned, “The bad news is you might not remember your name for a while either.” Shrugging, the knightly figure turned away, “I probably should have told you that you can’t hold the blade without the gauntlets of my Chaos Armor, it was an optional safety feature. It was a little more expensive, but it came with shiny stickers and a hat.” He was technically forbidden to let anyone else touch the sword because of what might happen, but those who knew that were very VERY far away, and he was in a bit of a rush.

    Having wasted several minutes of valuable time Aron set off towards Pnyx at a jog, hopefully he would still make it before the party started.

    This post has been edited by Ragnar0k : 14 March 2007 - 12:11 PM



  • Jehezekel stood with the group which he had come with, and nervously watched the other guests. Almost all were dressed in such finery as he didn't even dare to dream of, though his fine white linen certainly wasn't ugly. He saw Silverfish amusing some of the young ones by making things out of metallic filaments, and thought that perhaps he could help him improve his outfit. Silver was quick to catch on to what Jehezekel wanted, and a moment later produced a brazen brooch, and when Jehezekel had fastened it on, he found that his linen tunic was shot with silvery strands. He felt much more confident about his garb now, and with a huge smile, thanked Silverfish.

    This post has been edited by Jehezekel : 13 March 2007 - 05:30 AM



  • Trundaylan arched an eyebrow in surprise at Sideline's overly familiar, demanding manner of address. To his way of thinking, that simply wasn't the way you spoke to a son of one of the noble houses. The young lord, on the other hand, simply grinned.

    "What tipped you off, if you don't mind my asking?"

    "You went to far too much trouble to get my attention, if you only wanted me here as a guest. Bombarding the Alraeican Tavern with open invitations in my name was just a little over the top, don't you think? A simple note delivered to Arunsen Trading would have reached me just as quickly."

    "But it wouldn't have guaranteed your presence. This way, it piqued your curiousity - and I remember that aspect of your character only too well."

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    Four years ago

    The man with eight fingers thrust the boy roughly into the cell, sending him sprawling onto the floor of rough-hewn stone. The boy scrambled quickly to his feet, hoping for an opportunity to force his way back out past his jailer, but the man was too practiced, too quick. The heavy wooden door slammed shut with a sound like the bottom falling out of the boy's world.

    "That'll keep you," the man laughed, harshly. "Now, you just wait there quietly, like a good little toff, and if you're lucky, nobody'll be back here to teach you a few lessons. You better hope your family has the sense to pay the ransom; then maybe we'll give you back to them - if we're feeling generous!" The man leered at him through the door's tiny window, then the face withdrew.

    The boy heard heavy footfalls echoing into the distance down the long, stone corridor. He pushed himself slowly to his feet, feeling the sharp edges of the granite blocks that formed the wall digging into his back. He felt his way around the four sides of the small cell, discovering them to be depressingly similar. The only way out was the door, and both it and the lock were heavy grade. He slammed his body against the wood a few times, testing the strength of the oaken planks against the strength of his desperation, and found himself wanting.

    He sat down again against the back wall. Tears of frustration and despair at the futility of his situation were just beginning to trickle down his cheeks, when the lock clicked loudly. Light spilled into the cell as the door swung slowly open, framing the black shadow of a man standing in the doorway. The boy instinctively shied away from the shadow, afraid his captor had returned to torment him.

    The shadow spoke, in a different voice.

    "Hey, kid. Want to break out of here?"

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    Present day

    Sideline grunted. "You should recall I wasn't there looking for you," he pointed out. "I was sneaking around the place, looking into the kidnapping and murder of their previous victim. It was sheer luck that I happened by just after they snatched you."

    "Nevertheless, you were there, and you did get me home safely, in spite of my bumbling about and banging into things. Oh yes, I can admit that I almost got us caught, now. I have grown up a little since we last met. I also know full well that I'd have shared the fate, and quite possibly the grave, of their earlier victims, if not for you."

    Sideline eased himself into an armchair, resting one foot on a padded stool, and sighed. "Nobody ever did catch those guys, or figure out who they were; but they never took anyone else's child again, either. Whatever their reasons, they've kept their noses clean since then."

    "Until now," Malis growled, tossing a piece of parchment into Sideline's lap. Printed on it, in dark red ink, was the shape of a hand. Two fingers were missing.

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    The monk-like man wandered the halls of the Magisterium, speaking to no-one, approached by no-one. Crowded hallways emptied at his approach, although no-one afterward recalled any conscious choice to avoid him. The figure appeared to project an aura, within which no-one wanted to remain for very long. That suited him just fine.

    This post has been edited by cache22 : 14 March 2007 - 04:32 AM



  • Selax finally made his way back to the empty library. For a few moments, he stood and looked around, recalling the building of this place some centuries ago. Below him, he could hear music drifting up from the hall downstairs.

    The elemental decided to wait for a little while before making his next round or heading downstairs. He hid in a darkened corner of the library, where no one would be likely to notice him. (Selax planned to leave the room swiftly if he heard anyone coming anyway.) For some time, he remained there alone with his plans and his memories...



  • "Let me get this straight," Sideline said, pacing up and down the length of the office. "You want me to be a bodyguard!? "

    "That's it in a nutshell."

    "Milord, I must protest!" Trundaylan exclaimed.

    "Me too," Sideline broke in. "Look, close personal protection is - well, it's more in his line," he said, nodding at Trundaylan. "I'm an investigator, I don't know the first thing about - I wouldn't even know what to look for!"

    Trundaylan nodded in agreement, his opinion of the rogue rising a notch.

    "But I need you!" Malis protested.

    "Look, I'll do what I can - but my way, understand? You already have some well trained guards, if even half of what I've heard about Trundaylan, here, is true. You don't need me underfoot, getting in their way. I'll be more use working on my own." With a few friends, continued the thought in his mind. But the less they knew about that, the better.

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    "Are we going to wait here forever?" Starfall complained, loudly.

    Jehezekel sighed. "How long can Brianna take to - who is that!? "

    Everyone looked where he was pointing. Brianna was strolling toward them, catching many a young man's eyes as she passed. Her hair was piled high on her head, bound in place with a net of gold filigree, yet with enough of it's considerable length left to reach halfway down her back. She was attired in a full-skirted ballgown of resplendant greens, setting off the flashing emerald hue of her eyes.

    The Scribe noded in approval. "That's my little girl," he murmured, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. "She reminds me so much of my dear, departed wife. Except Ellanan's hair was golden, her eyes were blue, and she preferred to wear red."

    Cat stared at him as if he was more than a little crazy.

    -~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

    "Wolmark, put that down this instant!" Wolmark glanced up guiltily from the parchment he'd been reading, to meet his wife's angry gaze. Leandra's legendary temper matched her flaming red hair, and he'd long since learned not to aggravate her any further when she was in a mood like this.

    "Sorry, I just had a thought I wanted to follow up..."

    "I don't care! You've spent all your time researching a way to bring the others back from wherever that portal sent them, and you need a break. You're working yourself to the bone, and you won't help them that way!"

    "You're right, of course, dear."

    "I'm glad you agree. Now, we have these perfectly lovely invitations to the wedding, and the ball afterwards, and I, for one, intend to enjoy it! Now hurry up and get ready, Ulf and Kwon are already waiting outside."

    Wolmark quickly smoothed down his robe - he had been almost ready, after all - and the two of them joined their companions outside. The four then made their stately way downstairs to join the soir�e in Pnyx's reception hall.

    This post has been edited by cache22 : 13 March 2007 - 04:26 AM


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