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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Titan in the Playground
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    Chronicles of A Twisted Ascension


    "Per me, si va tra la perduta gente...

    Per me, si va ne la città dolente..."

    - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy


    I am going to assume you are already well acquainted with the glorious City Halmathan, dubbed by its people and foreigners alike as The City of Power. Few kingdoms around the world can boast of such title and those are far, far away from here. Nevertheless, Halmathan remains. And it has for a thousand years. Guided in virtue by the Airdan Royal family, the grand eight churches and the world renowned Runestone Academy, considered worldwide the foremost school of the arcane arts. The Great Fire not withstanding, everything is as it should be...

    Until a year ago.

    King Marcus Airdan is gone. The last lineage of the legendary Barbarian Queen Maira. The ruler dubbed as the Man of the People, beloved by all... he's gone. An avid hunter since his early years, his majesty knew that hunting within the city would incite the ire of the druidic community and so, he took a small group of his closest and most trusted men north, beyond the gate that separates civilization from the untamed wilds and never returned.

    Did he go out with a hunting party? Who went with him? Why so lightly guarded? We do not know. We know there have been attempts to find him, more magical than mundane, but so far, his absence is heartfelt upon the City of Power.

    Especially when we consider who he left in charge during his absence.

    Being single, King Marcus has no family of his own. He is well acquainted and in very good terms with various high priests of the eight churches, most notably those of Heiorneous, Pelor and Kord. To have any of them take over the City for a short amount of time would not be a problem, other than finding his majesty. But instead, in an act that nobody ever suspected and expected, King Marcus granted steward powers in a document signed by his own hand to the least likely man someone such as he would relate to.

    Enter His Holiness, Grand Inquisitor Connor of the Cudgel.

    Nobody knows where Connor came from. He is a Cuthbertine, that much is clear. He may be known within the upper echelons of his church, but outside the cathedral, nobody knew of his existence until he himself stepped forth, waving the document tightly clenched in his hand. Connor immediately replaced Inquisitor Calchis and assumed the powers of Steward of the City. This, naturally, was contested by every major faction in Halmathan.

    The document itself was passed from church to church. Even Runestone itself. Diviners upon diviners attempting to find any glaring flaw- a sign of fraud, but alas...

    The document is legitimate. The Grand Inquisitor, satisfied with the results, keeps such document well guarded and was quick to act upon his new powers.

    Within a month of his rise to power as steward, Connor enacted the Olidammaran Purge. It was his belief that those who follow a god of Trickery and Theft were, as the symbol of their god dictates, masquerading. Assassins and cutthroats of the worst caliber, Connor passed swift judgement upon an entire church and one fateful night, every last Olidammaran was taken in shackles and chains to the foreboding Castello di Santa Noria, were no one is said to leave. A prison of the old days. Empty for centuries... until now.

    The fate of the Olidammaran High Priest, Roland is left up to speculation. Some say he resisted arrest and was slain on the spot. Others say he submitted and bowed his head in defeat as Inquisitor Dalpinian, Connor's protege and known within the City of Power as Halmathan's Sword of Justice dragged him all the way to the castello, a triumphant and smug smile on his face.

    For those with a semblance of optimism, Roland is alive... somewhere. Not that this last idea is spoken out loud, of course- Connor despises Olidammarans and has nothing but contempt for any who would support their cause. And when you are target of His Holiness' contempt, there is only one place to go.

    Surprisingly enough, the populace at large didn't react as badly. Shocked? Sure. It's a church that has been around for hundreds of years but at the end of the day... do you enjoy being robbed?

    It would be around this time that Rashema's Marina, which has the lighthouse to Fharlanghn, would extinguish its perpetual light- Ravenna the Walker is gone. Perhaps Connor purged her flock as well? He had no problem seizing her temple "for the City", though.

    This brings us to Connor's next edict: The King's Campaign.

    Every self respecting Halmathan wants their king back. He is not only the rightful ruler and descendant to the one who freed these lands a thousand years ago, but he was a genuinely nice chap. This notion is one shared by His Holiness as well and represented in a hefty tax raise on all goods purchased and sold in the City. Many may not agree with it, but armies cannot be simply whisked out of thin air. They require money. An expedition of such epic proportions carries a toll that everyone must be willing to pay, for the good of the City.

    With the Olidammarans gone and taxes sky high and funding the king's eventual rescue, Connor set his eyes on a blemish to the City of Power. One that could not be ignored: Magic.

    A city with a million people. And all it takes isn one unhinged wizard to bring it all crumbling down. Can't have that happen. Won't have that happen. And yes, Magic is present in the churches, because such Craft comes in both arcane and divine flavors, but it was arcanists who felt Connor's wrath the most.

    For starters, Magic is outlawed in the City. Be it a wizard, sorcerer, priest and anything in between, if you're casting out in the street or demonstrate unnatural powers already upon your body, you will be arrested. You will be swiftly charged and may God help you, because you will spend the rest of your days with the Olidammarans.

    You would think that all these acts would not go unnoticed by the other churches. You would be right. Sir Randolph Brunhausser of the church of the Archpaladin marched with his own army to Connor's Palace of Justice, ready to go fetch the king himself. Connor would not have it. It is unknown what these two men spoke of behind closed doors, but today, Sir Randolph and his mighty contingent waste away in their own temple under a lockdown. This has earned the holy warrior the monicker of The Caged Bear.

    As for practicing Magic, it still happens... within allowed and legal spots in the City. This includes any holy church ground and of course, Runestone Academy. This last one was hit particularly bad. A school for those gifted in all matters arcane has Connor's Royal Guards patrolling campus day and night. A cynical move on the Royal Guards' behalf- since they trained at Runestone as well before attaining such lofty title. Problem is, Runestone is a school, not a house of hospice. Many who would not be arrested have had to enroll at the Academy- not a cheap place to live in.

    Of course, any savvy caster would find a way to practice their craft outside Connor's rules, right? Sort of.

    Not long after Connor's ban on magic, gigantic floating machines descended from the clouds, chugging black smoke. Not unlike a giant fat metal whale. These are Connor's Eyes in the Sky. Over a dozen of these contraptions fly sluggishly above the City of Power. How were they built? By whom? What can they do?

    You are welcome to go ask His Holiness about those particulars. Truth is, no crimes have been reported since their appearance. If any caster has fooled those Eyes, they aren't telling and since flight of any kind is prohibited, who will go up there and inspect them?

    So where can casters go and be themselves? Runestone is constantly watched and has become basically a glorified prison. Connor's propaganda has made the populace view casters with distrust, fear and hate.

    So go to a place where his Eyes care not to watch.

    The Mercy, burnt down fifteen years ago may be a part of Halmathan, but nobody has any interest in the slums. Warlords? Thieves? Rogue casters...assassins. Let them stay there. Let them rot. We are in the City safe. And to make that point abundantly clear, Connor began building the Wall of Separation- which is exactly what it means.

    Keep the Mercyfolk away from the City. If there's a wall between them and us, they don't exist, right?

    The Church of Pelor and Ehlonna had different views on the matter. It is said the wall was only half built because both High Father Jace and Lady Silvarel stood in the way of the masons, their presence enough to drive them back. Connor may be a Steward, but not a stupid one. Even he would not go against two of the oldest and most powerful church leaders in the City, after all. And so, the wall remains, half completed. Needless to say, Connor's wrath and hatred for both aasimar and wood elf may have grown exponentially, but we'll never know for certain.

    What is known is that a few months ago, a lowly dwarf from the lands of Suel made his way to Halmathan. A follower of Phaulkon and just as good with the bow as his archer god. Borazon of Suel, he was called. Or as the City would learn later, Father Borazon the Merciful. The first and only priest to willingly establish a mission in the Mercy. hardly a church- the dwarf brought along only two of his compatriots, but the church leaders welcomed him with open arms and recognized him as one of their own.

    But why would anyone want to establish a church in a place like that?

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    @Davish: It is another grey morning in the City of Power.

    Hard to tell if it's the coming of winter or the shadow of one of his Holiness' Eyes in the Sky, chugging amidst the clouds above and blanketing it all with black smoke. Truth be told, it doesn't matter at this point: with the king missing, Grand Inquisitor Connor has reluctantly accepted the mantle as Steward and his actions are for the good of everybody. So what if the skies are overcast? What transpires above matters little to you and everyone here below.

    In fact, as you walk down the Royal District after your morning stroll, past the churches of Heironeous and Pelor, you can already set sights upon the Palace of Justice:


    This is St. Cuthbert's Cathedral in Halmathan and home to His Holiness. Laws are passed here daily in a fair and swift motion, as all things ought to be. Connor had the name of palace of Justice instated to hammer home the idea that the Law is not absent, king or no king. Needless to say, being invited to this place is not something your typical citizen would relish. Connor and his inquisitors make sure that any who come here, rightfully charged, receive due and lawful punishment. Funny how the amount of lawbreakers seem to have swelled since his coming to power. Having said that, the City has never felt safer.

    And you, being a loyal Cuthbertine, have nothing to fear as you ascend the stone steps of the gothic cathedral and eye a black carriage with the symbol of the Cudgel on its side and a small contingent of Royal Guards. These men, trained at Runestone in the art of both blade and spell, are said to be Halmathan's ultimate line of defense. The king rarely sent them out on any missions.

    Connor on the other hand, seems quite fond of them and makes sure their presence is seen as much as possible in the City. A way to maintain order, or so you have been told.

    But that isn't the reason why you are here this morning. The night prior Lord Davrem, who has watched your growth from simple inn keeper boy to immaculate Lawbringer, has tasked you with a very important mission:

    To have an audience with Inquisitor Dalpinian.

    Halmathan's Sword of Justice is Connor's protege. Said to be a peerless follower of the Cudgel, Inquisitor Dalpinian was the man who took down the Olidammarans, always treacherous in their ways, those of murder and evil. Unlike his Holiness, Dalpinian is a tad more public of a figure. Forever protected by a human wall of Royal Guards, the Sword of Justice is as reviled as he is admired in the City of Power. But none of that matters now as you walk into the dimly lit hallways, adorned with stern looking angel statues which seem to follow your every step as these echo through the tall hallways and your eyes wander at the gigantic gold framed paintings of His Holiness, many which depict him astride a white horse with Halmathan off in the distance.

    You need a map to find your way to Dalpinian's chambers, where Cuthbertine Guards have you remove every last weapon and trinket of power before you are asked to show a letter penned by Davrem himself and are made to wait around ten minutes outside before the doors open slowly and the guards lead you inside a grand room with polished marble floors and a large white statue inside sculpted to show a herculean angel stabbing a serpent that bears the mask of Olidammara placed in a most tactless manner to the right of the room.

    At least ten Cuthberetine Guards stand at attention in this grand room and about fifty paces away, seated on a black desk with a stack of documents and multiple ink vials, you see the man himself:


    Inquisitor Dalpinian. The man barely looks up from his work and raises his hand for you to stop at the door.

    "That's close enough. Taskmaster Davrem speaks volumes about you...uhhh... ""

    Dalpinian snaps his fingers in quick succession as one of the guards hands him a note pad and the Sword of Justice takes a sip from his coffee as he locks eyes with you.

    "Davish Battleborn? That's your name? Okay..*sigh*. I have a long day ahead of me so this will be quick:

    You may have noticed a carriage outside the Palace of Justice. His Holiness has found a traitor in the City and because of his infinite wisdom, has managed to route this snake before it could poison us all. The prisoner is in the carriage already. You are to ride with this traitor to her final destination- The Castello di Santa Noria and deliver her to the good graces of Warden Clavius. Your arrival and name have already been notified.""

    Dalpinian waits only a few seconds for the information to sink in as he sips his coffee and raises an eyebrow.

    "Unless you have other more pressing matters, Mister Battleborn?"

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
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    @Remiel: It's hard to meditate out in the open when rain drops patter against your face.

    Although you cannot see them, you are quite certain those metal things are ambling above Glenndale right now. It's the smoke they trail. Sinks down into the forest and permeates its stink. The druidic community has not taken this well at all, as is to be expected.

    But what are they going to do? Rampage through the City in bestial form, clawing and biting and squacking at the source of the problem? Truth be told, that almost happened once. You weren't around for it, but it had something to do with Connor apprehending Lady Silvarel and taking her in chains out of this very forest. Something about an alleged terrorist attack conducted by druids who opposed his rule. Whether this attack happened. Whether the druids were responsible... it mattered not to Connor, who is said to harbor great disdain against the Lady of the Green Meadows.

    Thankfully, the situation was dissolved. Lady Silvarel was released and Connor issued an apology... of sorts. As for the entire druidic community who was about to leap on the Inquisitor's throat, they were all persuaded by one single voice, as this one is heard through the thicket and steps forth while wiping away the dew from her face:



    Claudia Latonia, Loremaster of the Glen and Lady Silvarel's closest attendant in the entire Ehlonnian faith in Halmathan. As a druid, you are fast. Able to assume the forms of various beasts, your speed is said to be unparalleled...

    Except for Claudia. Although she is frail and taken more into the reading of copious amounts of books, the Loremaster of the Glen underwent special training by Silvarel herself... and some say, Silvarel's own mentors. Whoever they may be. It has been sung that Claudia ran across Glenndale Park in a record time of under an hour. No small feat, considering she ran barefoot and without the aid of her mystic training or assistance from her peers. This is not something Claudia likes to brag about- in fact, she is quick to dismiss the story as just that, but you have seen her make quick dashes through the woods and can attest firsthand that she is indeed fast.

    Claudia bows respectfully to you and then kneels on the green grass, passing her hand over the ground, furrowing her brow at first, but just as quickly smiling kindly to you.

    "Remiel van Oak, I hope I have not interrupted your meditation this lovely... morning. I was wondering if you had seen Lady Silvarel around? Maybe last night? I, well... it is becoming harder to keep track of her around Glenndale. It is a big forest and...""

    It is then that a female's voice can be heard from above, booming around the City of Power. It has become common since Connor's stewardship to have the Eyes in the Sky broadcast messages heard city wide, as Claudia squints her eyes at the rain falling from above.

    "... and remember: The Olidammaran threat is an enemy we must all rally against. Together, as proud Halmathans. Only under His Holiness' sacred guidance can we hope to achieve peace and prosperity from those who would sow Chaos and Destruction.

    Have a lawful and blessed day..."


    Claudia clenches her fists and looks up at the sky, which has turned into a downpour.

    "What more lies can such a man weave?"

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    @Laura: The rain washes over your face as your axe cuts down the last training dummy in Kord's training arena.

    Thirty odd splintered bodies strewn around you. Not bad for some early morning exercise. Normally, you wouldn't even be allowed to practice here, given that those who wear the cloth are given explicit permission to train in this hallowed ground. But given that Connor has seized so many places and made them outposts of sorts for his militia, the kordite faith and specifically, Father Bhagazzin, saw in you the making of a true follower of The Brawler and how could he deny one of his own hospice in a house of freedom such as this one?

    But the elation of your training is cut short as those damn voices from Connor's Eyes echo from above, like vigilant inspiring angels to the ignorant masses below. And it is then that your attention drifts towards the entrance to the kordite temple, as a well known figure hails you as he nods at the wooden dummies around you:


    Father Bhagazzin the Blunt, high priest of the church of Kord in Halmathan.

    Of the legendary eight church leaders in the City of Power, Bhagazzin is said to be the mightiest of them all when it comes to raw physical strength. Many have attempted to match him over the years. With only King Marcus reaching an as of yet hotly debated stalemate. Bhagazzin may be a dwarf, but his allegiance and devotion to the Brawler is clear, as is his allegiance to his tenets. Reason why out of all the church leaders in Halmathan, he is the most vocal against His Holiness. Especially after the Olidammaran purge, since it is said that he was in very good terms with the elusive Roland.

    "Hey, Wildstar! Try not to wreck the entire place, will you? That's my job! Now get in here before you catch a cold. Food's ready and there's something here for you.""

    The mess hall is packed with the followers of Kord, who utter a simple prayer before diving in with wild abandon as they stuff their mouths with generous portions of bacon, eggs, bread and wash it down with jugs of milk and orange juice. The better to start the day before training outside and beating the snot out of each other barehanded. The kordite way.

    Bhagazzin wipes some scarmbled egg from his beard with the back of his hand and digs into his pocket, retrieving a dirty envelope.

    "This got in last night, but you were already asleep. It's a letter from...oh""

    Maybe it's the fact that you fight like everybody here. Your training is nearly identical to those seated with you, but unlike them...

    You cannot read. In the heat of drinking, eating and pushing one's body to the limit, such nuances are easily overlooked, as Bhagazzin goes red in the face, clears his throat and opens the envelope, giving it a quick skim and raising an eyebrow.

    "They send their regards. want to know how you're doing here on this side...hmmm. They're, no... she is asking for your help. Clarity. That's the name."

    Clarity. You know one by the name of Clarity. Clarity Clemens. A kordite holy warrior and versed with some of those tricks wizards use. She left Halmathan soon after Connor rose to power. In battle, Clarity is a powerhouse, but she never made contact after she left the City, except citing the one place where she'd be:

    The other side, as Bhagazzin read. The Mercy.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Nerdomancer in the Playground Moderator
     
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    With a bit of pep in my step, I hustle down the boulevard on my way to the Palace of Justice, summoned this morning in haste by Davrem, for an audience with none other than the Most High Inquisitor Dalpinian. While always aware of my surroundings, it is as if I've walked the entire way here in a dream, I remember as much of the journey. I recognize one of the guards at the entrance, "Ho Regnald, The Light illumine ye, and the Law protect ye this day!" Of course I have no time for idle banter, and have passed on before Regnald even has a chance to respond, if he is so inclined to do so at all while standing post.

    There have been times in the past where I have of course been in the Great Cudgel's Church on errand, but never before summoned to the Executive wing. It takes quite a while to wind through the various hallways and staircases before I find myself outside His Holiness's chamber, where I present my summoning papers to the attendant. I am forced to strip myself bare, laying aside all worldly items so that I may gain audience within. As it should be. I am not offended, for I walk in the Light. I use the time I'm given to compose myself, to tamp down any hero worship that may come out once I'm granted audience within.

    Finally, the doors open and one of the Royals bids me enter. I take but a few steps into the room, and there before me is Inquisitor Dalpinian himself, seated atop his desk, seemingly awaiting me. I quickly drop a knee to the ground, pressing my fist to the floor, and intone thusly, " High Inquisitor, I have been summoned, I stand ready to serve" I look up to see that I was right to go no further, for Dalpinian has a hand up to stop me had I done so. Rising back to my feet, His Holiness informs me that the carriage below holds a Lawbreaker, and I am charged to remand them into custody of the Warden Clavius.

    "Yes sir, at once, so shall it be done, and by your leave may i withdraw?"
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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    @Einkil: It's a single drop of rain that seeps in from above and lands on your anvil, causing steam to blind you fro a brief second before you feed the fires of the forge.

    The array of weapons placed around the smithy isn't as impressive today. Not as it was a few years ago when you came to Halmathan. Back then, you arrived with the Craft and Urgency of a smith devoted. You knew this City had use for your tools. Tools they would pay handsomely for. And then money that you would send back home for the war effort.

    The situation back home is dire. There is a full scale war and every last copper counts. This City has an overabundance of resources and money. They also have vast armies. Each church has a regiment of holy warriors at their disposal. Never mind the Royal and City Guard, with the former being praised as one man armies trained in church, barrack and the arcane itself.

    For all their might, you could have asked Halmathan to join in the war effort, but the City of Power has no interest in warfare, merely protecting its borders. They haven't been at war for ages and with the vast amounts of power here, who would seek to bring trouble here?

    Of course, any chance to practice your craft as a smith died in the embers of Connor's ascent to power. The precious resources used to forge the many weapons and armor your people and those in the city might need have been seized by His Holiness. There are weapons, of course. And armor, but those are for Connor's militia. Hell, even the mighty paladins of Heironeous, under Sir Randolph's graces have been effectively nullified. The Grand Inquisitor keeps them in their own temple. Although you haven't had an audience with Connor of the Cudgel, you have spoken to the few paladins at the house of Heironeous, who have mentioned that they are being kept in reserve here in the City, in case of trouble...

    But no trouble has surfaced. The mighty soldiers have grown fat and complacent. No sundered swords and splintered shields to repair, improve. Sir Randolph himself, one of the most powerful holy men you have met topside... he is rarely seen these days. Who knows how he spends his days in his private chambers. Old as he may be for a human, his strength and devotion to the Archpaladin cannot be ignored.

    Nor can his generosity. When business began going south for you, it was he who invited you and others of your homeland to live in his temple. There are no established churches to Moradin here, but both your god and his share the same ethos and metaphysical home, so you and small contingent of Khedeshian soldiers found hospice when none other would grant them.

    Still, you need to help your homeland and delving into the old archives when not working on the forge, you found something interesting about this city's history:


    Halmathan used machines of war. Old ones, mind you. It is true that the City of Power has now began replacing the horse drawn carriage with metal contraptions that spew smoke in their wake. Transport vehicles that litter the streets and seemingly increase in number by the day. However, if there are still remnants of those war machines of days old and none hold authority over them... maybe you can use them.

    A smith is also a religious figure in dwarven culture. So it came as no surprise when, in an exalted and elated speech, you roused your compatriots to venture forth, past the Wall of Separation and bring back such desired materials. Enough, according to your calculations, to get you back home to Khedesh with enough to end the conflict once and for all. Except...

    None of your compatriots ever returned. The City is big, yes. But they know the main streets. True that the district beyond the wall is not mapped, but if your vision is true, they ought to find the old machines, at least half buried, and strip them accordingly.

    This was over a month ago and since, dreams haunt you every night. You sent those brave men out there and in the dark, their cries keep you awake in the middle of the night. Their forms enveloped in shadow and a feeling of dread that has weighed upon you since.

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    @Davish: Dalpinian draws a smug smile as you kneel before him and look at your reflection on the marble floor.

    "As it should be, Mister Battleborn. A word of caution, though:

    This snake you will be taking is extremely venomous. Do not be enthralled by anything it has to say. Monsters are duplicitous by nature. She is no exception. If necessary, subdue her for the duration of the ride. But do not end its life. His Holiness wants her to suffer for her treason.

    You are dismissed."

    Dalpinian goes back to reviewing the copious amounts of documents and you are escorted out of his office and given back your belongings. Once outside the Palace of Justice, the rain has turned to a nasty downpour as one of the lower ranking guards props an umbrella and walks with you to the carriage as the Royal Guards, astride their steeds, watch you from behind their visors and you get inside the vehicle, sitting across the venomous snake as the whip is heard outside and the carriage begins its slow ride outside the City and towards the Castello.



    She doesn't look dangerous as you sit across the carriage from her. Her hands are bound tight by iron cuffs and you can see a slight blemish on her right cheek. A foreigner by the color of her skin. That is no surprise- Halmathan has people from all over the world coming here to make a living. It's how the City has swelled so much financially.

    The woman looks out the window as the rain patters against it and then looks at you for a few seconds, her eyes locking in with yours, followed by a kind but pained smile.

    "Good morning, sir. You are the one to take me to my new home? That is odd indeed. I would not have expected someone like you to fulfill his will."

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    Five long years it had been since Einkil left his home in service to his king and the war. His brother and sisters were often finding themselves at the forefront of battle and with no skill for long drawn out battles Einkil put his skills to work. Eventually the mines and resources close to home would dry up and when that happened the kingdom would have to rely on trade if the war lasted to long, and so he had taken the mission to seek out aid and resources in the Great City of power.

    Each one of those first few years had been meet with relative success. He was not sending home loads of ore and gold as he expected or wanted, however the work he was doing in the city was honest and steady. That was of course until recently, seeing the single drop of rain touch his forge as it created a mist of blinding steam for a few moments he knew it was a sign from the Soulforger.

    Weeks ago he had found a new way to help the war, perhaps even end it, and as such had asked those brave warriors who had been with him to go and investigate his findings. He had expected them back weeks ago, but given it was in the district known as the Mercy had held out hope that they would return. “Mountain Father guide those brave souls home to your halls where they may find their mugs never empty.” The priest says as he plays with the runestone given to him by his mother, said to be blessed by the Soul Forger himself.

    Looking around at the drey weather outside he notes no one is out training, ever since the new laws had come into effect those who were meant to fight and protect others had been kept locked away in reserve. However an army that does not practice gets lazy and fat, something he began to notice the longer he stayed in the temple. To keep himself in shape he stuck to his studies and praise, working the forge each day even if it was only to keep up his own skills it was better than wasting away, and helped him try to interrupt the meaning of his nightmares, sent to him by the Soul Forger himself.

    With this sign that the souls were lost he knew he had to find their body’s and return them to the stone as was proper burial. However in truth he had little information that he had not given the trained soldiers that had set off and not returned. Rushing in foolishly would only get him killed he knew with certainty as each of those brave souls was twice the fighter he ever was. And so for the first time since he had arrived in the city of power he stepped away from his forge after finishing all the work he had to do and made his way to see the only person he knew topside that may be able to help him, Sir Randolph.

    Walking the halls of the great temple in nothing but a simple set of pants, his work apron, a pair of black gloves, and his hammer strapped to his belt he began his search. Greeting the soldiers he knew in the temple and asking them how their day was and if they had seen the Great bear this day.

    “You’re getting as fat as my uncle!” he called out to one of the paladins he knew well, walking up to the man and grabbing him by the forearm. “Tell me with all your lumbering around have you by any chance seen the Great Bear?” he asks, referring to what he called Sir Randolph.

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    @Einkil: The forge is now lit by dying embers.

    The rune casts off the dying light from the forge as you wipe your eyes clean from the steam that blew in your face as you recall the names of those under your care:

    Thidratin Chainbranch, a master with the urgrosh.

    Skassuk Dragonbrewer, said to be a virtuoso with both blade and song.

    Berdur Bronzedigger, a juggernaut in battle that made giants run for the hills.

    Kikruil Ashflayer, one of the few in your company to have followed the Sublime Way. Some might even say a grand master of one its more obscure disciplines.

    Fisgrohilda Largesunder, beautiful Frisgol, as the company referred to her. Always at the forefront of the battle. A shield unbroken.

    Motroumora Windaxe, unlike the others, Motroumora was an earthquake in the quiet bowels of the earth. Her singular style with battle axes spelled swift death to many who opposed the clan.

    These fine soldiers were no mere cadets. Khedesh sent them with you here because they knew you'd need ample protection and in return, you would be their spiritual leader. Their loyalty to King and Country is unwavering. None of them would ever even consider desertion, that much is clear. Which means that their prolonged absence has only one possible outcome:

    They are dead. You sent them to retrieve supplies and something must've gone wrong. But nobody you know could even lay a hand on these men and women. They were considered elite back in Khedesh. However, the last few nights...

    You leave the forge and look out the empty training ground, drenched in rain as the Heironean soldiers, wearing simple garments, read up on their holy texts or play cards to pass the long dreary days.

    You need to find their bodies. Give them rightful rest. But if you go there alone... you will end up like them. Gone and forgotten in this strange city. No, you need guidance. Someone who knows this place better than you.

    Sir Randolph Brunhausser. Halmathan's Roaring Bear. He should be able to provide insight for your current plight.

    One of the soldiers puts down a diary he was writing and tilts his head sideways as you address his body shape.

    "Packed a few pounds? Sure, but that goes away with a little exercise. That square shape you have, though... So, you want to see Sir Randolph? He is in his private chambers. You can go look for him, but I cannot guarantee he'll want to see you or anyone for that matter:

    Our Champion has become quite the introvert since the Grand Inquisitor spoke to him, so go knock on his door at your own discretion.""

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    Before he leaves his forge he makes a simple metal band for his wrist made of plain iron, nothing stood out about the piece as he worked it into shape to become a metal band. Dipping it into a pan of oil he keeps by the side of his work station he slowly pulls the metal out and inspects the work. It was not pretty, or glorious, it was not made to inspire awe when looked at, but instead to be an ugly reminder to himself from this day until he found each of his friends bodies and returned them to the ground that it was his fault what had happened to them.

    Taking out a small engraving tool and his hammer he carves the names of each of the six soldiers into the band of metal before slipping it onto his forearm, just above the elbow.

    As one of the soldiers calls him square the young dwarf looks down, his beard and apron obscuring much of his figure. "Aye as square as a granite pillar which is the foundation of a building and bears the weight of the rest of the building." he replies kindly to the man, taking the back and forth banter in good humor. However when he is informed that Sir Randolph is in his private chambers he thanks the soldier before heading in that direction.

    A few times he stops himself in the middle of the halls, his dwarven pride struggling to ask for help of any kind. However even after five years he felt like an outsider in some of the parts of the city, never mind that walled section where the poor lived. His kin deserved to be found and given the proper rights even if it meant he would have to ask for help on where to look for them, and how best to get a team together to aid him in his search. No doubt had he done this the first time, asked all the dwarven gods to show him the grand design of this place they were going into as well as the dangers perhaps they would still all be alive and the seven of them would already be back on their way home.

    Instead he was here, a month later, alone and standing before the door of his host about to ask for a favor of sorts. If Sir Randolph's information helped him in any way he would be in the man's debt until he could find a way to repay the six lives he owed. And so with gruff determination on his face he raised his hairy ash covered knuckles to the door and knocked, waiting for some kind of reply.

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    Laura smiles to herself with satisfaction as she breathes heavily from the morning's exertions. Not so long ago it would be rare that she'd find herself awake at this hour. But then not so long ago her usual nightly activities wouldn't have come with such a high risk of falling foul of the cudgel. Father Bhagazzin had shown her great kindness in affording her the protection of the church of Kord, and she in turn has tried hard to be worthy of his favour, even if she does still have the occasional slip up.

    The intrusion of Connor's Eyes is an irritation as she towels off the light sheen of moisture that had accumulated during her drills, as much from sweat as from the light rain. But the Eyes are quickly forgotten as Father Bhagazzin calls her in for breakfast.

    "Maybe if you built it stronger it wouldn't be so easy to wreck!" Laura calls back with a wide grin, falling easily into their usual banter. She jogs over to the mighty dwarf, towering over him and yet still feeling small in comparison.

    She towels off her hair on the way to breakfast, then tucks in with just as much gusto as the others. She looks up from a plate of bacon and eggs with interest as Father Bhagazzin pulls out the letter. She's touched by his concern to spare her feelings, but waves swiftly for him to go on.

    Perhaps she never had an education in the first place, but she's recently come to suspect she lacks more than just the know-how; although she can identify individual letters but when it comes to reading the letters just won't sit in order on the page for her. In any case she's not at all self-conscious about it, simply fillng it under things she can't do: like casting spells; forging armor; or wiggling her ears.

    She stands abruptly as Father Bhagazzin reaches the conclusion of the letter, knocking the bench back to the consternation of several nearby acolytes. "Clarity needs my help in the Mercy?! Did she say where exactly?"
    Last edited by RCgothic; 2020-01-15 at 02:42 PM.

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    Good day sir.

    Withdrawing, Davish steps into the outer room and quickly dons his equipment with practised hands. A final once over to ensure all is in it's place and he's off, back the way he came. As he walks hastily down the hallways, any servants in his way move to the sides of the hall, such is the compelling nature of his smoldering eyes, and the set of his posture.

    Arriving back at the entrance in no time, he is escorted to the carriage and enters the compartment, there to see his charge, an outlander woman, who for the moment appears to be somewhat meek. The carriage begins moving almost immediately after he enters, and it is then the Lawbreaker chooses to speak.

    "Good morning, sir. You are the one to take me to my new home? That is odd indeed. I would not have expected someone like you to fulfill his will."

    With a small sigh, and a tone as if explaining something to a child for the upteenth time, Davish answers her.

    I serve the Law. The Law is an inviolate thing clearly stating that you may do this, you may not do that. If you choose to violate it, you have no one, and nothing to blame but yourself for the predicament you then place yourself in. Without Law, there is Anarchy, without Order, Chaos. An agent of Chaos is to be shown no mercy. Many choose to believe the Law is not black and white, that there are shades of grey to be had. I think you are one such as thought this as well, otherwise you wouldn't be here now.

    Even bound, some have caused trouble in the past, Davish checks her bonds while explaining this, and then sits back from her as though coiled for instant action should the need arise.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
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    @Laura: The man may be shorter than you, but make no mistake:

    Before Connor came to power, it was not uncommon for the walls and streets outside the Kordite temple to be utterly demolished. The reason was simple:

    Because of Bhagazzin. The dwarf, a true follower of Kord, enjoys a healthy competition whenever possible. This includes wrestling matches. The Blunt Father will remove any and all trinkets of power and engage with his opponent on fair and equal ground. This usually ends with the rival being lifted off the ground, spun over the dwarf's head and then thrown like shot put across the temple grounds, tearing down a few walls in the process.

    Make no mistake: this isn't done out of malice. If anything, those who enter the arena and fight Bhagazzin is because he either invited them to do so, or because he has taken a liking to them. This is something their rivals will come to learn when they wake up a week later in the kordite infirmary.

    Of course, that was then. Now, Connor forbids any kind of behavior that may disrupt the peace. Plus, whereas Bhagazzin could use the powers of his god to fix any broken walls and streets before, with the City's ban on magic now, he cannot afford to be tearing down walls, lest the temple coffers dry up rather fast.

    Once at the table, Bhagazzin hands you the envelope and watches you get up in a frenzy, causing the dwarf to laugh heartily.

    "That Clarity? Oh, I know her. So she decided to move beyond the wall? Smart girl. Tough one, too. But if she's asking for you to meet up with her, must be for a reason.

    As for where to find her? Hmmm... she doesn't say here, but I knew the place before it burnt down and have it on good authority of a spot where you might find her.

    For one, there's the Ludus Magnus Colosseum, built to honor Queen Maira. It was recently cleaned of some brigands, or so I have been told. It's no church, but it holds great significance to the kordite faith. Clarity could be there.

    Or... well, there is a Church Leader in the Mercy: Father Borazon the Merciful. A dwarf like myself and follower of Phaulkon, father to our god. I recall when he arrived here, we had a sparring match. Sent the boy flying through three city blocks. It was glorious! He is as much a church leader as myself and the others. Finding him in there should not be difficult and by default, Clarity.

    I hope he's expanded his mission to a much larger congregation, though."





    @Einkil: The soldier keeps writing on his diary as you explain the intricacies of dwarven views and how his comment has been turned nimbly against him.

    ".....ooookay. Carry on, then.""

    You're a dwarf. A smith dwarf to boot. These lazy human soldiers could not stand against you. Hell, you could even take on the entire Heironean Church with your Hammer and bring them down by the dozens within seconds...

    An idea. And just that, washed just as quickly from your mind like soiled ale down a dry gullet.

    The tapestries leading to Sir Randolph's chambers depict a repeating motif- that of a young knight astride a white horse. A golden nimbus around his head at all times. The language used on the tapestry isn't one you are familiar with, but clearly a religious figure of great importance within the church of Heironeous, given the amount of votive candles set at the base of each, wafting incense down the corridor before you stop, hands covered in soot and with a dirty apron and knock on his door before a gruff voice answers from within:

    Who disturbs me?! Was I not clear?



    @Davish: You could slap this traitor and knock her out cold with the back of your hand and it would be legally justified.

    The carriage is already moving through town. the mounted guard makes sure traffic is reduced to a minimum- who wants to be on the way of an official carriage, anyways? That's just asking to be arrested.

    And so, you humor this snake by pointing out your stance in this city versus hers. There are only absolutes, no grey areas. No place for Chaos, only Order. And to those who would disobey Order, there would be no...

    "You are so incredibly wrong, young man.""

    The woman may be cuffed and at your mercy, but her words do not belie fear of any kind as she looks out the window at the passing buildings.

    "Where I come from, my family saw to The Law. We understand very well how it operates and know that Law must be tempered with Mercy, Compassion...""

    The woman looks out at the mounted guards bearing the symbol of the Cudgel.

    "...and Sanity. It doesn't matter what happens to me- my fate is sealed. Know that I do not blame you for being the one to deliver me there. But I have been told somewhere, sometime ago, that I am somewhat good judging other people's character. You aren't an inquisitor, are you? You speak like one, true. But that's less of a zealous fervor and more like a blind following. Maybe it's those Eyes above? Have they stripped us of the need to see?""

    The carriage comes to a stop at the north gate while this one slowly opens leading out to the old roads that will lead to St. Noria's Castello.

    "You wish to see Order restored, young man? You won't ever find that in this City. Not now."

  15. - Top - End - #15
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    Laura looks down at her hands pressing down where they'd slammed against the table, as if surprised to see them there. She leans back and brushes some wayward hairs out of her face, taking an excuse to look anywhere but at Bhagazzin.

    "Clarity is... a friend."

    She grimaces. She's a bad liar and she doesn't truly think Bhagazzin will judge. "An ex," she admits. For a moment Laura indulges in memories. Tenderness. Fun. Heights of passion. A stupid mistake... ...many mistakes. A blazing argument. A wistful parting.

    Neither the first nor the last.

    Laura brings herself back to the present with a sigh.

    "Clarity wouldn't ask for my help unless she was desperate. I think I should go to her, damn Connor's wall. By your leave, father?"

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    Sneaking up on Remiel is hard. However, he couldn't hear a cracking branch, the rustling of leaves or anything else that could indicate she was about to appear.

    Then suddenly she stood there and he shuddered out of his meditation, immediately ready for self-defense, just as he had learned early on.

    One blink later, he recognized her.

    "My Lady Claudia!" he bowed long and low.
    He let her speak - of course he let her speak! He listened quietly.

    And then she was interrupted: by the stinking eyes in the sky, spreading propaganda like poison.

    When this annoyance ceased again (unfortunately only for a short time) and Lady Claudia stopped talking, Remiel allowed himself to take the floor

    "Pardon me, Mylady, but I haven't seen Lady Silvarel for six days. However, I've been to the south-eastern part of the forest - examining the trees I'd recently planted."

    He was tempted to respond to Lady Claudia's comment about the lies, but bit his lips. It was not his place.
    Last edited by Fliggl; 2020-01-15 at 04:12 PM.

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    @Remiel: Claudia blushes as you bow deeply and wipes the rain from her hair.

    "No need for formalities with me Remiel, please! I am only Lady Silvarel's attendant. So you haven't seen her in six days? Odd, she usually announces herself to me when she isn't meditating deep within Glenndale. For her to be absent so long, hmmm....""

    Claudia is visibly mad at the announcement from above, but just as quickly dismisses it, lest you catch a glimpse of her displeasure. Ehlonnian priestesses aren't known for being violent or demonstrating it by action or expression. That isn't to say they are easy marks. When push comes to shove, even someone as calm as Claudia can become a beast. Hell, if the stories are to be believed, Lady Silvarel herself can become a veritable storm in the extremely rare instances when she is said to have been angered.

    The Loremaster of the Glen turns her gaze to a tree as she examines the bark.

    "He blames the Olidammarans for what ails our fair City. Truth be told, I am not convinced the Olidammarans are the blame. Not at all. If seeing is believing, what I saw is nothing a bunch of rogues could ever conjure up. But for that I need more insight into this situation. Time draws near and Lady Silvarel... she must be trying to...""


    Claudia snaps out of a trance like state and looks at you.

    "Remiel, can I ask a kindness of you? It involves leaving Glenndale, though. If you cannot, I will understand."




    @Laura: Bhagazzin chugs an entire jug of milk and raises a red eyebrow at your outburst but mentions nothing of it as your mind goes back to Clarity...

    Whatever relation you may have had with her- mistake or not. It is not the kind one can forget so easily. If ever. The church of Kord would never condemn this, of course. In fact, no church would object to it, but Connor...

    He would find a way to cast any sort of relationship such as yours and Clarity's as an unlawful abomination of sorts. He hasn't done so yet... that you know of. But he is not known for being a tolerant man. Mages can give good credence to that.

    Bhagazzin finishes his breakfast and walks with you outside the temple of Kord, hailing one of those metal contraptions that have begun to replace the horse drawn carriage as it screeches to a halt and the man inside gulps as the dwarven high priest looks inside the window and hands him a couple of gold coins.

    "Take this lady to the wall. This should be enough.""

    Bhagazzin turns around and gives you a wink as he opens the door for you and slams it once you're inside.

    "I gave the man enough to get you to the wall. Getting back here... that's on your own coin. Send my love to Clarity when you see her, okay?""

    The vehicle is big, but not as big to fit your decidedly bigger frame than that of the cabbie, who messes around with a few levers and steps on a pad as more smoke comes out the rear of this metal coffin and off you go.

    Back when the King was around, these things were an unusual sight. A novelty. People would ride on horseback around the City of Power or take a carriage. The latter was a free service, paid for by the City.

    But not anymore. The King's Campaign demands a tithe sacrifice from everyone. The streets are packed with more of these metal vehicles and whatever idle chat the cabbie is doling out, you're having none of it before an hour goes by and the vehicle stops far, far away from the Kordite temple and any known landmarks, sandwiched between two giant buildings and a contingent of City Guards as the man turns around to look at you.

    "End of the road, lady. This is it.""

    The vehicle is quick to turn tail and the guards look at you with raised eyebrows, but do not object to you walking in. Although, what catches your attention is that there is no wall. Or rather, it has been covered:



    White tents, stretching out for several blocks in a labyrinthine fashion. The guards watch you walk in, but do not follow, except to guide you in the right direction. This becomes particular clear when your sight fixes on several silhouettes on another tent. You can only see shadows, but one of them seems to be laid down on a cot as another restrains him and a third draws a blade, a sound you know all too well as a quick conversation can be eavesdropped.

    Early symptoms. She can be cured!

    You have your orders and I have mine... step aside, nurse. This is far more efficient...heh!


    Before you can guess the outcome, one of the guards points the other way and urges you to keep moving before a scrawnly short man in a white robe looks up at you and then at the guard. And then at you.

    "Uhhh... you want to go in there? To the Mercy?""

  18. - Top - End - #18
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    Walk along the halls leading to Sir Randolph's chamber he noticed the tapestry's, beautiful but over time they would fall apart unlike a carving in stone that could last centuries in the right conditions. Taking a moment, he tries to determine who the figure is before continuing on his path.

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    As the gruff voice comes through the door asking who it was and was he not clear Einkil calls back in a calm voice. "It is Einkil Durthane. As for being clear, I have not seen you outside as of late so I do not know what you would be referring to." Einkil says plainly. "It has been a month now however and my men have not returned from their mission. I wanted to let you know before I departed that I will be leaving soon to go and find them. Even if it is only their bodies, so that they may be given proper rites. As a general of many warriors I believe you can understand this." Einkil says from the closed door waiting to see if it got a response.

  19. - Top - End - #19
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    @Einkil: Tapestries are nice, but...

    Time will undo them. Cloth wastes away under the harsh weather here. Stone on the other hand... nothing breaks stone. As for the man depicted on them? Given the imagery around him, a saint of the Heironean church, most likely. Every faith has its own cadre of champions and holy figures. Some more obscure than others and so, the name of that particular figure eludes you.

    The voice listens to what you have to say and is followed by heavy footsteps towards the door as the scent of incense wafts strongly from the other side before the door opens slowly and reveals the imposing figure standing in front of you:


    Sir Randolph Brunhausser, High Priest of the Church of the Archpaladin. The Roaring Bear of Furyondy.

    Mighty as he may be, the man looks wasted away. It would appear he hasn't slept in a long time as his massive frame stands at the thresh hold to his room and looks down upon you with a frown.

    "You are the Moradin smith, yes. Of course. I told my men that I was not to be disturbed. I would have assumed that this notice would have been extended to my guests too. So you are leaving us? Pity. I could have used a smith of your caliber. Were my men in need of shields and swords and helms... and you mention your men are gone? I recall a company of dwarves staying here. Yours, I presume. And you lost them...hmmm.""

    The old warrior does not move from the thresh hold, but looks down at you, shaking his head.

    "If you are to leave, give me the names of those you have lost. And as a general of many wars, boy, I will give you one piece of advice:

    Go back to your homeland and mourn your fallen there. If they are gone in this City and you plan to find them, who will mourn you? Take my wisdom or don't. If it's any consolation, may Heironeous watch over you, Einkil Durthane.""

    And having said that, Sir Randolph takes a good look at you and turns his back before the door slams in your face.

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    As Sir Randolph opens the door Einkil gives him a proper bow for someone of his station before listening to what the man had to say. "I was their spiritual leader in this land and was tasked by my king to send home whatever aid and resources I could. My men died in service to our king as you seem to wish to do for your own." the dwarfs notes with respect at the man who seemed broken at not being able to go to his kings aid, he himself had no idea how that felt, but could see the loss effecting him. "I will head your advise and send the names of those who have fallen back home, along with my own on the off chance I do not return. However duty demands I at least try to return their souls to the stone. Last I knew they were walking into that broken district looking for something I found in the libraries about a machine used long ago or not, its to vague, by this city to protect its people. They were to gather the remains if they belonged to no one and return. I plan to pray over the best way to find my friends this day and come the morning will be setting out." he says, though it is clear even from his own voice he agrees with the older paladin, that he no doubt would be lost to this city if he tried.

    "A word of passing from one man of the cloth to another. The bear eats all spring and summer, preparing for the winter storm. When at last spring comes again the mighty bear is ready and strong. Survive the winter Great bear of Hamalthan and when spring comes if I still live we will dine together on fine dwarven ale and roasted roathe smothered in mushrooms and gravy."

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    You claim to have represented the Law in whatever far off realm you came from before choosing to reside here in the City of Power. You profess to have been adjudged the ability to determine one's character from a moment's conversation as though through some inborn divination. I would think one who had once upheld the Law as you so claim would know that I would take your ramblings as nothing other then another in a long line of the convicted who profess to never have committed a crime at all, as though the totality of criminals lack any guilt at all. Surely you must have heard this very same argument innumerable times before?

    I am no Inquisitor, but there are many ranks and positions within the Cudgel's Flock. It is not zealotry or blind fanaticism to believe in right and justice and law and order. No less so than it is to believe in their opposites. All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. i will NOT stand by and let the wicked rise to power, nor keep the rightful from their places either.


    All this is said in the same bored tone as though it should be readily apparent to anything with some fragment of intelligence in their heads.
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    @Einkil: You are somewhat old by dwarven standards.

    This man is an eminence amongst the tall folk. A revered mystic, holy warrior and military genius. Traits recognized for years.

    Considering all that, how can one fathom how he must feel when he is denied to do the one thing he would die for- to rescue his liege?

    You simply cannot. You can try to empathize, but both are worlds apart. Still, some traits are shared and before the Roaring Bear slams the door in your face and gives you perhaps the best possible advice to keep your hide intact, you mention the reason you sent those dwarves and the Caged Bear has last words for you, something more than his initial blessing and well wishing.

    “The machines your men sought... I have seen them. But that was years ago. Halmathan has no need for them.

    I cannot say the same for those beyond the wall you want to visit. And now, Moradin’s smith, I have my own mission to attend to.”

    That door shall remain close for the rest of the day. Possibly the whole week. Human guests tend to get the message rather fast...

    Does that apply to those of dwarven stock?

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    Post Re: Chronicles of A Twisted Ascension IC

    "No halfway intelligent thief would overthrow a regency that somehow allows him to pursue his profession. If I may be so bold as to say so."

    Remiel stopped his bowing immediately when she demanded it.
    He had never been a friend of the Code of Conduct they had taught him painfully. But even decades later, he still subconsciously acts according to the rules of the monastery. The indoctrination was apparently successful. Another reason why he ran away at the time.

    "Tell me, Lady Claudia, what can I do for you?"

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    Laura bids a fond farewell to her mentor as she hops up easily into the metal carriage, stowing her axe and bow on the roof rack rather than taking them into the cramped confines. The journey is less than comfortable with many lesser bumps and knocks as the carriage rattles along, but she barely notices that or the cabbie's inane chatter either, lost as she is in her own thoughts. Although the journey is a long one it hardly seems like any time has passed before the cabbie is breaking her reverie to tell her they've arrived.

    At the sight of the tents and the checkpoint guards she thanks the cabbie and cautiously collects her axe and bow. These tents are clearly unusual and the guard presence makes her wary. According any misunderstandings with the guards is part of why she'd accepted father Bhagazzin's hospitality in the first place.

    Stating her intention to enter the mercy she follows as directed. At one point her preternaturally sharp hearing picks up something about a cure... Is all this to contain some sort of outbreak in the Mercy?

    The sound of a blade being drawn and the ruthless laughter of its owner make her tense, but an insistent prod in her back keeps her moving. Laura grits her teath and briefly considers sticking the prodding digit someplace uncomfortable, but even if she could overcome the guards what could she do? Cure the patient herself? Hells no. And there'd be more guards along shortly; that's the problem with guards.

    So she keeps walking until they come to the scrawny man in the white robe.

    "Uhhh... you want to go in there? To the Mercy?"

    "That's right. My friend's in there. Is there going to be a problem with that?" she asks, gesturing to take in all... this.
    Last edited by RCgothic; 2020-01-16 at 02:32 PM.

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    @Davish: What is it with these people?

    This pathetic woman says a lot of things, but it won't matter soon: she is going where she rightfully belongs as you look out the window and are jostled a bit as the carriage drives on through the old road towards the castello.

    "I never mentioned divination of any sort, just a mere character trait. Time under his umbrella has made you paranoid. But not only you, others under his banner too. I could tell you that I have committed no crime at all. That I am innocent. That the scales of right and wrong in the City have grossly toppled... but it will not change your view, cemented in your belief in the Law. In what is right, as you claim.""

    The rain increases in strength as visibility out the window becomes almost nil and the woman looks at her cuffed hands.

    "You may not be an inquisitor as you claim, but you certainly share their wisdom, correct? Then illuminate me on the following:

    It has been a year and some since the King went missing. Your city has one of the world's greatest armies, there is no doubt about that. You have an army of paladins at your disposal. Never mind Runestone academy, home to extraordinary mages. Willing men and women eager to rescue their rightful ruler in a heart beat and yet...

    Connor keeps one in lock down and the other under penance of fear and arrest. This doesn't strike you as odd? A man who in his own words 'reluctantly took on the mantle of steward'? Or is it reluctance to let go of said mantle? You know, I had a dear friend of mine delve too deep into things His Holiness wished kept secret. That much I know firsthand. Most likely these words will ring on deaf ears, but again, my character trait shines through, even in this dark morning.

    Have you been to the area beyond the wall? Connor was very adamant in finishing it a few months ago. Something that had been stalled for months he rushed to finish in a day. Ever wonder why? Brigands? Those would never dare cross into the City proper, wall or not. So why the rush?""

    The carriage stops and you can already see your destination:



    The Castello di Santa Noria. Halmathan's oldest prison. This foreboding building was built centuries ago to keep the worst of the worst. A maximum security prison. The City has jails, but these are far smaller in size. Local ones per district and for minor crimes.

    This place is reserved for the vilest of them all. It was built purposefully outside the City because, rumor has it, the cries of the inmates at night haunted the sleep of everyone for miles. Some have likened it to Hell on Earth, but their claims have no weight:

    No one who has ever been sent inside has made it out. It's a one way trip. Before the king's disappearance, this place was pretty much empty. Today, though...

    One of the guards on horseback blows a large horn to announce their arrival and a draw bridge lowers and a portcullis rises as the carriage rides inside the courtyard.

    Immediately your attention goes to a contingent of guards positioned at ground level and on the parapets above. An ominous shape shrouded in clouds lingers above the castello- one of His Holiness' Eyes, no doubt as the vehicle comes to a stop and you are sent to escort the prisoner outside... before deep growls can be heard amidst the pouring rain and four shapes circle the carriage:



    These hounds are big. As big as a warhorse. The guards with you reach for their blades as the prisoner you escorted steps out and squints her eyes at the beasts amidst the rain when a toxic male voice can be heard amidst the growls.

    His Holiness be blessed! At last, the almighty Na'wa al-Habai, delivered on my doorstep...hehehehhehehehee!

    The hounds sit on their haunches as a figure walks outside, with a guard walking beside him and holding a large black umbrella to shelter him from the rain:


    You have never met this guy. Not until today. This is Warden Clavius, castellan of St. Noria. You will not find him in the City. He enjoys his humble abode here. And lives to fulfill his sacred duty as he walks up to the woman, who does not hide her disgust as he grabs her cuffed hands and plants a kiss on them, licking his lips as he meets eyes with her.

    "Simply delicious. The last noble sent here was such a bore! I am told you people from the Sea of Sands are used to endure pain under such unforgiving sun.

    This just makes my creative juices flow...yummy..hhehehhehee.hahhahahahahahahaaaa! Ahh... guards! Take the high priestess inside. I will be having a chat with her shortly.""

    Na'wa, as her name has been revealed, simply looks at you before the prison guards drag her inside into the dark and the Warden looks at you, while taking out a silk handkerchief and sniffing it loudly.

    "You have done well to bring her here, boy. It is His Holiness' job to send the law breakers here.

    It is my job to make sure they stay here...and learn. This is a house of knowledge, after all. And since there is nothing else for you and your company to do...""

    The hounds get back up and growl at you as the warden waves his hand dismissively.

    "I have no further use for your presence. You can inform His Holiness that she is now under my gracious auspices. Best be on your way:

    My hounds haven't had breakfast yet.""



    @Remiel: All those years training and learning the old etiquette.

    Druids seldom have use for such pleasantries. There are ranks amongst your order, of course, but rarely are they addressed in such formal way. Claudia being a clear example.

    The Loremaster of the Glen nods in approval to your words.

    "Your words ring true, Remiel. Too bad that the truth is now illegal, it would seem. We were on good terms with the Olidammarans, mischievous as they are wont to be, but never did we harbor ill will towards them. Not in the way he has acted against them. In so doing, I am afraid Balance is breaking. Lady Silvarel mentioned this to me briefly before her incarceration, but never did elaborate further on it.

    I will find the High Priestess. Or she will find me, as is usually the case. But there is another lady of the cloth that I wish found. A dear friend of mine. One who, like me, saw things that I never thought possible.

    Perhaps the last cleric of Fharlanghn left in this City. Her name is Calliope Fareyes, an Ambularet Per Pade, a high ranking title amongst the faith of Lady Ravenna. Calliope mentioned to me that something was amiss beyond the wall. Something sinister, something dangerous. When last we met, it was brief and she was barely alive.

    I returned here after tending to her wounds, but she remained in the old burned district. Her aim was to help those over there but more importantly: she said she had found something. Something that has the potential to be devastating not only to the Mercy, but I fear Halmathan as a whole. I beseech you, because I cannot leave Glenndale and risk Connor attempting to seize it should Lady Silvarel remain in hiding:

    Please, find my friend. Find Calliope and learn what she has.""


    @Laura: Could you break the guard's arms? Yes.

    Could you break an entire squad of these badge wearing thugs? Absolutely, but eventually, you'd get tired and they'd overwhelm you. Whatever was discussed and done in the nearby tent is something to consider in the near future. None of this has ever been even mentioned in the City. Definitely not in Kord's temple.

    And so, when the meek little man asks if you really want to go inside, you tower over him and shed any doubt in your answer as he gulps and gestures to a long tunnel.

    "Your friend is... fine. Hey, I'm not paid to keep you out of that place. Have fun, madam...""

    The guards do not follow as you make your way alone through the makeshift tunnel of fabric and immediately the foul stench of garbage and sewage invades your nostrils before you walk out to The Mercy and take a look around:


    It's ruined, alright. The infamous Great Fire did its job. Although buildings still remain somewhat intact, they are forever blackened and scorched. Garbage piles in towers rivaling those of the buildings themselves and the rain hitting the ground increases the nasty smell.

    There are people here, but not so much in the open. Most you can catch huddling inside the buildings- who wants to get wet, after all. As for where to go... it's anybody's guess. This district was said to be the biggest in the City and it has been unattended for over a decade.

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    "I will! So Calliope Fareyes-- I'm interested in how she can help us."

    It didn't take Remiel long to pack his belongings - he had almost everything he owned with him.
    He pricked 3 fist-sized pieces of grass out of the ground and put them into the pockets of his coat. As he patted them a little later, he said with a smile, "it's always good to have some home with you!"

    Staff in hand and backpack strapped on, he looked up. "Do you know, Lady Claudia, why I prefer the rain these says? It washes away the soot and makes the forest and its inhabitants shine again in all its glory!" He winked at her and headed to Mercy.

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    @Remiel: A patch of good green grass for the long road ahead.

    Claudia smiles as she wipes the rain from her eyes, seeking shelter under a tree.

    "Calliope is a very talented priestess, Remiel. Devoted to the teachings of the Traveler, but also to helping her fellow Man. Without a church to call her home, she must've decided to go aid those less fortunate beyond Connor's horrid wall. I can only hope she is fine and well... she has too.

    And you, Remiel: if you cannot find her, please, and I cannot stress this enough- please return here at once. Glenndale will always provide shelter for you. I do not know how bad things are over there in the last decade or so, but they must not be like here. Even before Connor took office.

    May Ehlonna watch over you.""

    Claudia may not want to get herself wet, but you don't mind. The rain washes away all impurities. Especially those left behind by those blasted Eyes in the Sky and their smoke.

    It doesn't take long for the green hills to turn into pavement and pretty fountains as you make your way to the more urban area of Glenndale. It is a park, after all. Open to the public. There's a large lagoon for couples to row boats across its shores. A multitude of cafes ran by the Ehlonnian church, a way to get more money into their coffers and of course, street vendors, pandering cheap snacks and tasteless souvenirs...

    And they are all closed right now on account of the rain. Who wants to take a stroll and get drenched?

    It's then that you reach Glenndale Park's main gate. Beyond that, the City proper and of course, Connor's ban comes into full effect. That may be the reason why a large number of druids choose to stay in the park. Practice their craft in peace, not be harassed by the police and possibly arrested. Such is the way of the City now.

    And of course, a parade of umbrellas and hurried pedestrians nearly knock you over as people have to get ready for their daily chores. You need money to live in the City. And the only honest way to get it is by working. None of that killing and looting shenanigans from some old coloring book.

    Normally, you would just fly to the Wall and over it. You still can, of course. Connor's Laws haven't dampened your druidic training. But since he took office, you know of no one. Not a single druid or practitioner of any mystic arts, that has been seen floating even an inch off the ground since he banned all manner of flight.

    It's loud horns and noxious smoke that cause you to look at the streets as several vehicles have parked by the entrance to Glenndale:


    Steam powered carriages. The "car".

    These will eventually replace more traditional modes of transportation. Sure, they get people where they want to go faster, but that smoke they trail... not good.

    Plus, they aren't free. The City has imposed a tariff on anyone using them to move around Halmathan. Part of the King's Campaign Tax. Every copper counts, as they say.

    There is of course the old fashioned walk. It's free and not illegal, but who knows how long it will take you to get to the wall. That place is as far removed from Glenndale as you can imagine.

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    "What are you paid to do?" Laura asks, her simmering anger over the overheard incident adding a withering property to the gaze she pins the man with. She waits just long enough for a reply, but if they're not going to stop her she isn't going to hang around.

    Entering The Mercy properly she takes a moment to let the rain wash away her anger, its refreshing drops drenching her face and hair, and it's not long before she's smiling again. Father Bhagazzin warned her against the rain earlier, but in her experience a little water never did anyone any harm. Large droplets soon roll down her waxed leather cloak and pool in her unused hood. This district may be forbidden, but in fact being out from Connor's restrictive control feels freeing - like a load lifted.

    Taking stock of her environs it's clear she's going to need some directions, so she picks a likely looking group of people and walks over to enquire.

    "Hey! Do you know where I can find the Ludus Magnus Colloseum? Or Father Borazon?"
    Last edited by RCgothic; 2020-01-16 at 05:31 PM.

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    @Laura: The scrawny little man looks at the guards behind you and gulps before smiling crookedly.

    "I'm paid to keep the City safe, lady. What else? Have fun at The Mercy..""

    This place may be dilapidated. In ruins. Littered with garbage, but there is one thing absent from it all:

    Connor. No scent of that sanctimonious bastard and his inane laws to push you down. Of course, the district is massive. Roads- if some can even be called that- have been blocked by debris crumbled over the years. Essentially, you can make your way around this place by traversing the old buildings. Some are missing large chunks of wall, leaving rebar studded holes that emulate gaping mouths.

    And of course, amidst the falling rain and as you make your way into the abandoned district, it's impossible for your senses not to pick up people watching you from dark damp corners. They most likely saw someone of your stature walk in, not a common sight these days.

    And below a haphazard tin roof facing the brunt of the pit patter of rain, you watch a huddled group of hobos dressed in dirty tunics gathered around a drum barrel. This one has a few dying embers on it as the men and women, dirty as they come, attempt to breathe life into the fire as a few rotate what looks like..no. It's a rat. A dead rat stuck through a stick as they attempt to cook it over the flaming barrel.

    The group watches you walk towards them and immediately a few retreat, taking their precious food with them as a couple walk around you and size you up, but do not attack as you greet them.

    "Hey yourself! Hell, I thought you Bonnie come back from the dead. You're looking for the Ludus Magnus? That's Kurgen's turf, miss. You sure you want to go there?""

    Another hobo shakes his head.

    "Nah. Kurgen bit it big time. He's gone. Dead as they come. That place is far from here, lady. But with Kurgen dead, who knows who took up the place now. Some say it's, well...hhehehhee..'haunted'. If you can believe that.""

    On the matter of Borazon, the group looks at each other and shrugs.

    "That's the dwarf with the bow? Heard he's like some big shot back in the City. Mustn't be so much here, since he left. Who knows and who cares, right? But if you want to know more, go check out the Bitter Coffee.

    Nana may be able to tell you more and we can take you there... for some coin, mayhaps?"

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    Hearing that Halmathan had no need of the machines he had read about, but that those behind the wall might was troubling, though would explain why his men had been missing for so long. They could easily fight something they knew or another person with ease. However a strange machine was an entirely different story, they did not feel like people did nor did they bleed as far as the dwarf could tell from what little he had read. Fighting them he summarized would be similar to fighting an elemental or golem.

    Taking the advice given to him he leaves the now closed door and returns to his forge where he had left the rest of his gear. Speaking in Terran to his hammer the entire time. "I know what the man said, and I know he is smarter then I. But it would be the same as if you were left alone, someone would eventually come and find you. It is only proper you know. What kind of spiritual leader to the Soulforger would I be if I did not try to find these men and return their bodies to the stone?" he questions the Galeb Duhr residing inside his hammer.

    It was as he arrived at the forge that he realized a rather large problem. He had never spent the gold to buy a bag of holding in all his years in the city due to the group having one they all used and having spent most of his times indoors. He did not need his armor or shield in such places as the city and would often walk around as he was now. Something he doubted if half the stories were true he could do in the Mercy. However showing a great deal of wealth was not wise either. Sure his armor looked dirty and covered in dirt, but that was how it was made to look, designed expertly by his own hands to emulate the earth itself constantly around him. Not a single item he wore would go unnoticed in a place full of thieves and cutthroats and he knew without them he could be in very real danger.

    Shouting out a dwarven curse Einkil donned his armor, which took a great deal of time as he had to do most of it himself, and strapped his shield to his back. Placing his worn backpack beneath the shield he checks the light brown gem is still on the necklace he always keeps on him, as well as the scale he wore said to be from a Bulette that increased his natural protection. Lastly he wrapped his cloak of bear fur around himself before at last placing his helm atop his head. "Yup I look like a target all right. Let's just hope I don't run into whatever the others did on this short recon mission." he says once more in Terran before making his way to the gate to the place he had called his home for a while now.

    Once outside he begins trying to hail a cab, looking first for one drawn by a horse, however if one cannot be found trusting the strange new contraption instead they called the future.

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