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  1. - Top - End - #331
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Roland Parnum

    Seething silently, Roland grows angrier and angrier as the conversation carries forward, unable to take his mind from Almeza's certainty:

    'Yer flame-kissed boy's due to die, so he is, out on these hills. Spirits demand a sacrifice...'

    Roland glances down at Ramiro and could see the lad was in dire straights, but it only made him angrier to see the proof of her words in front of him. A gust of wind tears through, making Roland shiver in his armor even as Ramiro looks ready to collapse.

    The hands of a blacksmith had little in common with the hands of a healer. Almeza's statement and long experience on the cold road were enough to tell Roland there was a problem, but he had no idea how to fix it. The clerics at Windspire would know, but he'd long since given up understanding their ways.

    "How far is the cave from here?" Roland asks, voice tightly controlled as he addresses Almeza. Polite conversation was over. Roland eases out of the saddle, dropping to the snow regardless of her answer. Ramiro would ride Ember this afternoon to the caves this dwarf spoke of, or they would need to convince her to let them stay. Either way, Roland's feet would need to be planted on the ground.

  2. - Top - End - #332
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Early afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 5 of 6

    "Almeza knows." The dwarf woman's eyes blinked and flickered like candle flames in a wind. "Half a day's walk west from here. Maybe ye reach it before sundown. Mayhap Spirits catch you before then. Best go! Ye got no time to come spill Almeza's blood, and if ye would, ye might have to give some of yer own!" She cackled, turning and walking back among the stones of the ruin. The ice creatures waited a moment, then followed her.

    With little else to do, the adventurers set out, following the trail of the sabercat. It was making encouragingly long strides from the look of the tracks, certainly fast enough to indicate it wasn't wounded. And nothing emerged from the snows to ambush them, the mountainous range of the Spear on their right, the rolling hills of the Valley on their left, wind ever-present, ever-howling. Though Ramiro and Verglas were riding double, their pace wasn't terribly affected.

    At least, until they came to the stream.

    It wasn't on the map. And perhaps it hadn't been for centuries; from the look of it, some sort of small avalanche further up in the Spear had reopened what had once been an old mountain trickle or spring, or widened it perhaps. The stream was a good 15 feet wide, a thin river of water cascading down from north to south right across their path.

    Njal, leading, took a look around. To the south he could see the telltale signs of where the stream slackened its flow and where it likely would disappear into snow and ice again. But he could also tell from those signs that it'd be a good half day to ford the stream downhill from here and get back to where they were. A quick inspection also indicated the water was at least hip-to-chest depth (and thus chest-to-head height for a dwarf or gnome). The flow was likely slow enough to wade through, but the real problem was that anything that went into the water would become soaked immediately. Their enchantments of Endure Elements should keep them from feeling any discomfort, but the problem would be drying out their clothes - they would have to figure out a way to make a decent fire at some point after, or risk hypothermia if their enchantments ran out. Anyone walking in wet clothes would be quick to lose the heat-preserving benefits of their gear, assuming magic didn't have another way to solve the problem.

    There did appear to be slick, narrow rocks by which it might be possible to ride or walk over. But that too was treacherous and risked slipping and falling into the stream itself, and getting everything they held wet. Perhaps encouragingly, though, the sabercat's tracks simply ended on one bank of the stream and resumed on the other -- and given the look of them even from here, Njal thought it most likely that the massive cat had simply cleared the stream with one giant leap.

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    DC 15 Jump to clear the stream.
    Balance check at DC 20 to cross over on the rocks.
    As said, half day to get back here, i.e. it'll be sunset but you'll be on the other side of this stream.

    What do you all do? (And again, sorry for delays folks.)

  3. - Top - End - #333
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Verglas

    The little gnome craned her neck around the horse's head for a better view.

    "Well that's fascinating Could be worse I supppose We could be trying to cross in spring what with the runoff from the mountains this would be something fierce Not that thats any consolation I suppose though.

    "Shockingly I can be of some usie in this situation I could take on a form with clawed feet built for swimming and help guide the horse things across the rocks Then on the other side its a matter of a few minutes to dry off clothes and fur as we continue on our way What do you think?"
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  4. - Top - End - #334
    Titan in the Playground
     
    DrK's Avatar

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Njal "Stormcaller"


    Seeing the stream Njal pat's the massive a horse's flanks. "Aye, not too far for ye to jump eh? A wee hop fee the likes of you. " Shouting out to the others he is making ready to jump when Verglas speaks.

    Glancing at the small gnome he asks a cautious, "So, how do we get dry? Without a fire the clothes will freeze solid. Be cold even with the warding"

    He circles around in the snow, the horse pacing. "Aye, let's hear what he got Verglas "
    Thanks to Emperor Ing for the nice Avatar

  5. - Top - End - #335
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Verglas

    The gnome braces herself and slides down Rodrigo's leg to the snow. She goes to examine the open stream barring their way.

    An excellent question An exemplary question Njal One of the the first magics that my people learn as children is one that allows us to undertake a lot of the minor household chores to help our parents This bit of prestidigitation puts toys back and clears chalk off of walls but it also cleans clothes and as we all know clean clothes are not soaking wet clothes It's not an instantaneous process but I can get us all clean and dry again a few minutes after wading across here."
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  6. - Top - End - #336
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Njal "Stormcaller"


    Njal nods to the gnome, A wonderful idea if ye could swim across we' a rope ye' could tie it steady and can use the guide rope. THen dry off and we be about our way. Safer than a long jup eh lad...". The last is said patting the horse heavily with a smile. "Aye, you don't want to be jumping that do you."

    THat said he'll trot to the edge and have a look around looking for anything that may threaten them as he waits with some curiousity what manner of beast the gnome shall become.

    Perception (1d20+5)[24]
    Thanks to Emperor Ing for the nice Avatar

  7. - Top - End - #337
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Verglas

    Verglas nods at Njal steps to the edge of the water.

    "Well if nothing else this could be a test of the limits of the environmental magics that could be written up in the journals."

    Verglas weaves an enchantment and abruptly grows and changes. Her pack and some of her clothes remain in place, while other bits simply disappear into the new form - a long thick-limbed scaled humanoid with a long, strong tail. She takes a moment to look at herself.

    "Huh and Master Balandemir said that there was no point in reading about the warm-weather races this far north Put that in your godsawful-smelling pipe and choke on it you smug bastard."

    Turning to Njal's horse, Verglas tries smiling, but realizes that it came across quite like preparing to bite the horse. She settled for moving slowly and carefully as she took the horse's reins and then lead it into the icy waters of the stream. If all goes well, she leads it to a point some twenty feet out of the water on the other side, then returns for the other horse, the dog, and then, if need be, to hold the hands of the people.

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    Casting Alter Self to become a Lizardfolk. With taking 10, her balance checks to get across the stream without event are now 15.
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  8. - Top - End - #338
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Late afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 1 of 6

    Verglas got them all across the river safely enough, and, drying the group out, the four adventurers continued their trek westward, the wind slowly whipping up as the day proceeded. Ramiro's condition at least didn't get any worse, although he clearly was in a fairly bad way. The foothills of the Spear had accumulated great drifts of snow, and they less walked than waded as the sun began to dip into the west, ahead of them, the first hints of pink touching the sky.

    Ramiro wasn't sure exactly what prompted him to do so. Maybe it was because he was feeling hungry. Either way, he reached for the precious Everlasting Rations he'd brought with him.

    They crumbled in his hand. Somehow, due to whatever interaction of magic with the fierce elements or just from exposure of some kind, the rations had deteriorated down to about 3 individual portions and nothing more. And when the other members of the group got around to examining their own trail rations, they also discovered that fully half of each of their supplies had become soggy and inedible.

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    So Ramiro loses his Everlasting Rations and is down to 3 trail rations. Everybody else, halve the trail ration supply you have - both for yourselves and feed supplies for your mounts if applicable.


    They shouldered their burdens against the wind and against the disappointment, though, and drove on, even as the wind blew harder come evening, and snow danced around them. As the sun began to set, it became more and more difficult to see where they were, or indeed what direction they were going in; the tracks of Lyssa's sabercat were disappearing as snow filled the prints, turning the deep marks into tiny creases in the fall. Indeed it got to the point where Njal was about to call a halt, figuring that it would be easier to stop and reassess where they were in the morning ... until he noticed, north of them, in a nook against a fold of ancient rock, the darkness of a cave. Decent-sized, too; it was surprising they hadn't noticed it until now, even with the wind and snow blowing around.

    They had, it seemed, found the cave Almeza had been talking about.

    But two things happened as their spirits surged and they began to stride towards the cave.

    The first was that Njal realised the cave wasn't natural.

    What had seemed a natural fissure in the rock, even these twenty steps closer, was not. It was in fact a graceful arch, a doorway into the rock with flowing lines and a leaf-like pattern around the arch, which for no reason he could put his finger on immediately sent a surge of dread going through his veins.

    The second was that the snow between themselves and the cave entrance began to coalesce.

    The snow seemed to form an eddy, then a whirlwind, and then a miniature tornado, ice and snow spinning in a column of whiteness, taking on weight, and substance...
    ...and form.

    Where there had been ice and blowing snow there was now a humanoid woman, incredibly beautiful; her skin a light blue, her hair long and black, her lips red and full. She wore snowy white robes that billowed around her. She was as beautiful as the rusalka that had charmed Roland, but striking in a different way - a spirit of air and snow than of water and ice. It wasn't clear where her robe ended and the snow and ice began, and it wasn't clear whether she was standing on the ground or not.

    Her eyes opened. Shining green light radiated from her eyesockets.

    STRANGERS AND INTRUDERS.

    The voice was in each of their heads. No song of sadness this time; a clear, sharp voice that rang of crystal.

    I WOULD KNOW YOUR INTENTIONS.

    Spoiler: Verglas
    Show
    ...Great Five Gods, she knew what this was!

    The surge of excitement was in her veins. Her heart was thundering. All those dry and dusty tomes, all that contempt and sympathy approaching pity for her interests and her studies over the years, all the black looks and superstitious gestures. All of it paid for this moment.

    Because she knew what this was.

    The rusalka was an imprisoned spirit of the water. The elves had made experiments of many of the species they had captured. Attempts. Prototypes.

    But this creature was no prototype, no toy, no mere attempt at perfect servitude. They had different names depending on which story or whether you asked a human or a dwarf, but the elven word for them was something approaching guardian -- not that many people looked that deeply into their language. The most common name for them was Yuki-on-na. When the elves left, they had left their guardians behind to spite their former slaves. Most of them the first human magic-wielders had clumsily managed to defeat. But the one thing all the Yuki-on-na had in common was that they were left to defend the structures of the elves.

    Which could mean that had they found an elven ruin ... but they had also found its guardian still standing.
    Which in turn meant no mage had tried to defeat it. Or that none had succeeded.
    Which meant what the guardian was watching over was likely still intact.

  9. - Top - End - #339
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Verglas

    Verglas had enjoyed being tall and scaly, but the sensation of the tail dragging through the snow had been unpleasant, and she was almost relieved when the magic wore off and she dragged herself back up onto the horse.

    When they entered the cave and saw the figure, Verglas was initially fearful, drawing back, but then abruptly all of that changed. She leaned forward in the saddle, practically vibrating with excitement. With great effort, she slows and lowers her voice.

    "Oh great Yuki-on-na, you honour us with your presence. We are here seeking shelter, not to defile that which you protect. We mean no disrespect to you or your great purpose here."

    Knowing all too well how her companions felt about the legacy of the elves, she wasn't sure how much she could share - or what she could say to them that would be of use. She glances back at her companions, begging them with her eyes not to leap to violence.
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  10. - Top - End - #340
    Titan in the Playground
     
    DrK's Avatar

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Njal "Stormcaller"


    Njal had grinned at the scaled gnome's more impressive transformed form. "Aye lass, thats a good wee trick." And had then helped the others as best he could to cross the stream. Enjoying the warmth and drying gnomish magic on the other side. "Better than shivering by a fire aye!" he nods, wishing his teachings had helped him learn such a basic, if useful cantrip.

    As he sees the spirit he pauses. His hand slipping the club free and the other resting a warning hand on the wolf's collar. "Aye laddie, she no be natural, have a care or she'll rip yer soul free." Watching the gnome advance he nds, "Be careful wee one, you dinnae want to get caught by that beastie."
    Thanks to Emperor Ing for the nice Avatar

  11. - Top - End - #341
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Late afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 1 of 6

    I AM NO BEAST. The Yuki-on-na's eyes flashed green at the dwarf's words. AND YOU, GNOME, ARE NOT SPEAKING ALL THE TRUTH. The creature indicated Ramiro, still drooping over the saddle, and Roland. THESE TWO ARE TRANSPARENT. ONE SEEKS ONLY SHELTER AND REPRIEVE FROM THE SICKNESS IN HIM. THE OTHER SEEKS THE YOUNG WOMAN. I CARE NOT WHAT THE MINER BELIEVES. BUT YOU ... She again turned her eyes to Verglas. YOU KNOW WHAT I AM. WHO BADE ME HOLD THIS PLACE. SPEAK AGAIN, AND SPEAK TRUTH THIS TIME. OR NONE SHALL FIND YOU EVEN SHOULD THE COLD DRAW BACK AND THE WORLD BE WARM ONCE MORE. WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION?

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    Just changing the text colour for the sake of everyone's eyesight.

  12. - Top - End - #342
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Ramiro Sanda
    At these words, he rises from his stupor. He shuffles off the horse, and focuses internally, readying himself to ignite his chi, should this come to conflict.

  13. - Top - End - #343
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Verglas

    Verglas is appalled that this wondrous creature has misconstrued her honest comments as some kind of evasion, and does not hesitate to say so.

    "You have misunderstood, mighty guardian. We have indeed been sent in search of a young woman, but I had no idea that she is here. If she is under your protection, I will not seek to contact her. Please. Our colleague is unwell. We just need a place to shelter for a time. I did NOT lie to you, and do not lie now.

    "Of course, I would be honoured to speak with you, if you are willing. I am very interested in the era of your creation."


    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    Verglas honestly didn't know that the young woman is in the cave - in fact, the existence of the guardian made me, the player, abandon any hope that she was here. There was absolutely no intent to deceive, or indeed to convey anything but obsequious reverence. Such toadying is now continuing in this speech.
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  14. - Top - End - #344
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Late afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 1 of 6

    The guardian's eyes held Verglas's for a moment, and then seemed to turn inward, as if she was listening to some other voice they could not hear. YOUR INTENTION READS WELL WITH YOUR WORDS. YOU ARE INSTRUCTED BY HER BLOODLINE. YOU SEEK THE PRESERVATION OF HER LIFE. SO BE IT. THE CONDITIONS OF MY SERVICE ARE SUFFICIENT FOR SUCCOUR AT THIS TIME. SOME OF YOUR HYPOTHESES I CAN ANSWER, GNOME. THE WOMAN IS NOT HERE - NOW. SHE WAS. SHE IS NOT UNDER MY PROTECTION - NOW. SHE WAS. YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THE TIME I WAS FIRST BOUND HERE, AND IN THOSE WHO BADE ME. YOU WILL HAVE SOME OF THE ANSWERS YOU SEEK. YOU WILL HAVE SHELTER. ON MY TERMS. THEREFORE - FOLLOW. IF YOU DARE. THE SPIRIT OF THOSE WHO BADE ME LIES LIGHT WITHIN. MAYHAP THE PRESENCE OF A MINER AND A POWER OF THE FIVE MIGHT CAUSE THAT SPIRIT TO STIR.

    The snows whirled, and a second later the Yuki-on-na was standing by the cave entrance itself, a calm and clear passage free of whirling snow forming for the party. If they chose to follow. There could be no doubt among any of the party that this place was an elven structure; and no matter the races of Horizon and the Archipelago, and no matter how long the elves had been gone, no one trod in an undisturbed elven ruin lightly, whether for good reason or for a powerful superstition against such places. It was said, among the folk, that there was always a price to be paid for walking in places the elves had used as their buildings and structures ... and one could never know precisely what the price was. On the other hand, there were a decent number of repurposed elven structures that were being used without incident; the entire city of Hearthstone, for one.

  15. - Top - End - #345
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Verglas

    Verglas went through a kind of convulsion, trying to simultaneously bow, clap her hands with delight and look to make sure none of the big folk were getting ready to hit things. She ends up half-a**ing all of it, but then straightens and turns to her companions.

    "Our fortunes have taken an immense turn for the better Although the lady is no longer here we now know that she was and therefore we are still on the right track. The Yuki-on-na has agreed to permit us to enter and I cannot implore you strongly enough to be on our best behaviour This will give Rodrigo all the time that he needs to rest in the safest of all possible shelters watched over by a creature of legendary wisdom and power Shall we?"

    Her tone is unusually upbeat, but there is an unmistakable edge of "Don't f*** this up." at the end. The gnome woman turns back to the guardian spirit.

    "Pardon, but do you mean to suggest that there is a spark, an essence of one of the old masters still lingering in these halls?"
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  16. - Top - End - #346
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Late afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 1 of 6

    IN A WAY. The Yuki-on-na glanced from Verglas to the cave entrance. THOSE WHO BADE ME HERE COULD BLUR THE LINES OF LIFE, TIME, AND DESTINY. IF YOU WOULD DARE GAZE ON THEIR WORK, THEN FOLLOW. IF YOU WOULD RISK AN AWAKENING, THEN FOLLOW. IF YOU WOULD PAY THE PRICE ... THEN FOLLOW.

  17. - Top - End - #347
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Ramiro Sanda is somewhat concerned, but lacking in options he follows.

  18. - Top - End - #348
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Njal "Stormcaller"

    Njal listened to the strange being and the gnome. "Eh now. We dinnae want to mess wi' the old ones. If the lass has moved on we be wanting to move on as well."

    He looks at the Yuki-on-na carefully, "Oh now, where did the wee lass go? We still be needing to find her." and the addresses the party, "Have a care. The ruins of the old ones ain't safe".
    Thanks to Emperor Ing for the nice Avatar

  19. - Top - End - #349
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Late afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 1 of 6

    SHE PASSED THIS WAY, SON OF THE TUNNELS. The Yuki-on-na's hair floated in the screaming wind. SHE PASSED THIS ROUTE, FOR I COULD NOT DO OTHERWISE THAN TAKE HER THROUGH GIVEN WHAT SHE WAS.

  20. - Top - End - #350
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    BlueWizardGirl

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    Verglas

    The look that Verglas gives Njal expresses significant doubt that he has any idea what she does or dinnae want.

    "And what was she?"
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  21. - Top - End - #351
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Late afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 1 of 6

    YOU SHALL HAVE SOME OF YOUR ANSWERS WITHIN, replied the creature, and turned with hair billowing into the cave.

  22. - Top - End - #352
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    BlueWizardGirl

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    Verglas

    The gnome turns to her companions with a shrug.

    "I'm going in with her to get all of the answers that I can Each of you can make your own determinations about what you will or willnae do as the case may be If I'm going to die on this blasted freezing lump of rock and ice I'm at least going to learn something before I go."

    She trots forward, following the guardian.
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  23. - Top - End - #353
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Ramiro Sanda
    This is where I draw the line. I need to rest. If you need to go on I understand, and will try to catch up later.

  24. - Top - End - #354
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    Njal "Stormcaller"

    Njal nods at Verglas. "Aye wee lassie, I'm a might curious to see what lies within." Patting Ramiro on the shoulder he nods to the cave. "You sure you be wanting to wait, safety in numbers eh? And ye' be strong and wise." Pausing to stare at the cave he wonders what things lie within, ancient remnant of the old masters would be of great interest to be seen.
    Thanks to Emperor Ing for the nice Avatar

  25. - Top - End - #355
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    BlueWizardGirl

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    Verglas

    Verglas looks pointedly at the horse that Ramiro has literally just rode in on, as a silent rebuttal for his reason to stay, but says nothing.
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  26. - Top - End - #356
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Late afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 1 of 6

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    I'll take it for simplicity's sake that Njal and Verglas go in while Roland stays with Ramiro back outside.


    Dwarf and gnome followed the whirling shape of the Yuki-on-na into the cave.

    The entrance itself was tall, an archway with a pinched, pointed crest, clearly engraved with the graceful, fearful patterns and lines that Verglas and Njal had seen in tomes and on isolated, minor ruins of elven structures.

    The moment they entered the cave, both of them knew the place was more than a mere hole in the rock.

    Spoiler: Verglas
    Show
    The gnome felt it as a subtle charge on her skin. She had a feeling that if she looked or didn't have her long hair under control, it likely would have been dancing in a manner not much different to that of the Yuki-on-na's own swirling mane. The feeling was not unfamiliar. At the foot of the Mountain, where mages where schooled, there were certain rooms in the prentices' halls that had something like this charge to them - the rooms where instruction took place, particularly in the forges. But even that familiarity was a poor match, too; as comparing an echo as to a song. It was not the charge of lightning or heat, but that strange sensation she had come to associate with places where the magic in Horizon was heavily concentrated. This place was surely a place of power, one where elven magic was still running strong even into the bones of the earth itself.


    Spoiler: Njal
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    There was a feeling that surged right out of Njal's bones the moment he stepped below the arc of rock that constituted the entrance. His people had been under the mountains for millennia, perhaps aeons, before the Rebellion which had freed humanity and dwarvenkind alike from elven slavery. Most dwarves to this day felt no discomfort and even a warm familiarity when they entered a cave or a tunnel. But there was another feeling, one rarely experienced among dwarves. Had they been able to convey it to humankind accurately, a human might have called it apprehension, or an uneasiness, something akin to what a human called 'walking across my grave'. It was the feeling experienced, for no discernible reason, when a dwarf passed inside a reasonably-well-preserved elven ruin. It was as though the very stones themselves bled the long dwarven history of beatings, torture, and whippings they had suffered under elven rule, one most concentrated and apparent within the underground passages of former elven facilities ... as though the elves had sowed some pernicious seed in dwarven blood to cow them into service even within their own tunnels, to better keep them serving as the miners for the elven lords. Here, now, that feeling broke over Njal like a wave, a sense of apprehension, a feeling that something was not right, the feeling that one had a spider unseen on one's shoulder, a snake below one's raised foot. A feeling that only a true elven complex could force upon a dwarf, no matter how many centuries after the Rebellion he had come to this place.


    The path into the cave was a straight line, the rock smooth and worked. There was not a breath of wind past the cave entrance. Centuries of dust littered the floor, and everywhere were the elven lines of decoration on the walls. Light was provided. With no apparent source, light flared from an unseen torch as the three travellers walked past a section of wall, and then receded as they left. Empty rooms opened on either side of the passage, the entryways the same pinched archway decorated with elven inscriptions. The light did not go so far into them to be certain, but there seemed a variety of sizes and shapes, common only in that they seemed utterly empty one and all.

    EMPTY THEY ARE INDEED, came the Yuki-on-na's voice into their thoughts. FOR SO IS THE FATE OF ALL WAYSTATIONS WHOSE WORK IS COMPLETE.

    They had been walking at that point for a good ten or fifteen minutes or so. The passage had subtly widened over that time, so what had been a passage where three could walk abreast now could comfortably accommodate ten. The empty rooms had been on either side of the passage for the whole of that time. There surely had to have been dozens if not hundreds of empty chambers on either side of this central passage ... until now, when suddenly, there was a long stretch of tunnel which did not have a single archway to either side.

    Except for two.

    An arch stood on the left side of the tunnel, which was not a pinched archway but a massive, perfect semi-circle in the rock wall. The symbols surmounting the edge of this arch were not solely elven, but another language ... or some form of geometric design? ... that Verglas did not recognise. Opposite stood another, small pinched archway, no larger than could admit one man. The passage, meanwhile, continued straightward on, further into the darkness. The travellers reached the edge of the great semicircular arch, and looked in. The arch projected perhaps seventy feet into the rock, and there stopped at a rock wall. In the centre of that wall was something that did not belong.

    A circular pool of azure water, standing horizontal on the wall, rippling as though a gentle wind were constantly blowing across it, glimmers of light sparking from the waves as though an afternoon sun unseen were glittering upon it.

    Spoiler: Verglas
    Show
    Verglas's heart didn't quite stop, but it did skip a beat. Not only was the charge on her skin reaching a zenith, but she now understood. The Yuki-on-na, the facility, everything. This thing - if she was right, and she was right, there was no way one could be mistaken about it anymore than one could be mistaken about the concept of sunset or sunrise - was a portal. One of the great elven devices, the magical constructs that had allowed the elves both to reach across the world with but a footstep and to reach other worlds to abduct the myriad species that now called Horizon and the Archipelago their homes. The same constructs had apparently been used by the elves to withdraw through when the Rebellion had succeeded ... and had only clumsily been utilised by the arcanists of that fifteen-hundred-year-ago time to reach the Archipelago as the world's warmth was struck from it. As many arcanists died, went insane, or caused the implosion of the portals they used as those who successfully held the gates open long enough to bring humanity through. And the secret of using the portals that did survive the elven retreat had been lost.

    Which made the scene even more terrifying. Because the portals Verglas had read about (or visited the shattered ruins of) were all inactive. The giant circles had been mere shimmers of grey light in their frames, responding to neither word nor spell nor command. This was the first portal she had ever heard of which had all the legendary signs of least being activated: the warping of What Was indicated by the rippling of water in its frame and the light sparking as illumination itself twisted within the fearful ring of a gate to step outside the universe itself.


    Spoiler: Njal
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    Njal's apprehension hit its crescendo. There were legends about such things. Every dwarven child had been told the story of the Rebellion, and had been told the stories of the elves who could walk between worlds. And greatest among the elven evil were the Gates, the devices that allowed them to snatch babies from worlds across the stars of the sky. The evil in this place was palpable, and Njal was positive he could hear the voices of the Spirits of all his ancestors, screaming to him from their graves ... and could he hear that dreadful, legendary chuckle that passed down through his bones and blood from eons gone, the laughter of an elven slavemaster?

  27. - Top - End - #357
    Titan in the Playground
     
    DrK's Avatar

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Njal "Stormcaller"

    Njal shivered as he entered, the hair on his back and ears stood up as he felt a great tremor of fear at the alien otherworldly elven ruins. His eyes roved from side to side scanning the empy chambers, each one a new source of danger. Pausing at the end he spies the shimmering pool of water, and as the horror hits him he finds he club in his hand almost of its volition.

    Staring in horror he whispers to Verglas "We must leave this place, the entrance must be sealed for evermore and stricken from memory. This pool is a thing of ancient evil. Used for generations to spread horror and destruction." Addressing the spirit, "Is it still active?"

    Thanks to Emperor Ing for the nice Avatar

  28. - Top - End - #358
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    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Verglas

    Predictably, Verglas' response is significantly different than Njal's. As if in a rapture, the young gnome slowly drifts toward the portal, obliquely so as to be able to view it from different angles. There is a keening emerging from her that is more likely to be heard by Njal's canine than her humanoid companions.

    "Of course! It is as you said You could not do otherwise but to admit her to this place Because this girl has the blood of the old masters Am I right? And has she passed through already?"

    The ice gnome's skin normally was pale with a bluish tint, but her face is now flush and gleaming, and dozens of stray hairs stood straight out of her bun.

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    She is of course absorbing every detail of the entire facility, and the portal in particular, that she can. She's furiously trying to discern the way in which the portal might actually operate. Spellcraft: (1d20+12)[29]
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

  29. - Top - End - #359
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Late afternoon, Day 4

    Complication Dice 1 of 6

    THOSE WHO BADE ME WOULD RATHER OBLIVION THAN MINGLE THEIR BLOOD WITH THAT OF THEIR SERVANTS AND INFERIORS. The guardian's hair was truly dancing now in the aura of power projecting from the portal, and her eyes flashed green. THE GIRL HAS MERELY THE REQUISITE ABILITY. SHE DID NOT PASS THROUGH THIS PORTAL, FOR EVEN IF SHE HAS THE ABILITY, SHE HAS NOT THE LEARNING NOR THE STRENGTH TO UTILISE IT. SHE MOVED ON, UP THIS PASSAGE, NORTHWARD, TO THE FAR END, WHERE IT EMERGES FROM THE MOUNTAINS, NORTH OF THIS RANGE. TO THE LANDS OF THE MEN OF FROST.

    Her eyes shifted to Njal, and the slight smile on her features was apparent. YOU NEED FEAR NOT TRAVELLING THIS PORTAL, SON OF THE TUNNELS. ACTIVE IT IS, UNLOCKED AS A DOOR IS UNLOCKED, BUT NONE MAY OPEN IT, NONE MAY COMMAND IT SAVE THOSE WITH THE ABILITY. ONLY ONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO SUMMON THE POWER IN THEIR BONES. SUCH AS THOSE WHO WERE AMONGST YOUR PEOPLE AND MANIPULATED THESE DOORS WITH ALL THE SUBTLETY OF DISSECTING A SEED WITH A GREATAXE.

    Spoiler: Verglas
    Show
    And another piece of the puzzle came together, one that shocked Verglas to her core. It locked so many half-answers and unknown questions out of history ... if this creature was correct, and there seemed to be no reason to suspect other than that it was.

    The power to manipulate the portals did not derive from one's ancestry being elven. It derived from the inborn ability to pull magic directly from the very world itself and shape it into different forms, as opposed to magic as practised on the Mountain and virtually everywhere in Horizon, which was based on spell, formulae, and ritual. That, Verglas intuited, had perhaps been one of the systems by which the elves secured their mastery over their slave populace: because there was no spell known, no ritual ever recorded, which ever unlocked a portal, much less allowed it to be used, not in any elven tome recovered. It was a secret never written down and therefore lost with the elves ... for the secret had never been a matter of something written. It was a matter of sheer capacity and sheer inborn power.

    Such an ability had been known among humanity, among dwarvenkind, long ago. It had died out around the time of the Rebellion. Which perhaps was to be expected: as many arcanists died or went mad as were able to open the portals to the Archipelago.

    It was so obvious standing here, Verglas realised. And yet nobody had ever made the connection. Never connected the passing of the ability with the fact that the secret of utilising the portals had died out at the same time.

    The ability to manipulate the raw magical energies of the world had a name - one that might as well have been myth for all it mattered. But it had a name nonetheless.

    It was called sorcery, and those who were blessed ... or cursed ... with the power, commonly termed as sorcerers. Beings of great natural talent, inborn from their birth. And of whom, the Yuki-on-na was implying, Lyssa Hardwalker was one. Making her also one of the very few if not the only living example of such a being in the world.


    Spoiler: OOC
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    Hence why I banned sorcerers as PCs guys :)



  30. - Top - End - #360
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: A Gathering Storm

    Verglas

    Verglas moved to and around the portal, holding out her hands as if they were warmed by the very power of the the ancients, but never coming closer than a few feet away, and moving with great care and slowness so as not to trigger the guardian. She turns to Njal.

    "I can't believe I didn't see it before Curse my brain for assuming that learning was the key to power or that elven lineage would be all that's required but it's what you have your people I mean that connection to the earth that you feel in your feet Of course not manifested in the way you have but as though your body was already wound tightly to the magic from birth I'm talking about the natural magicians of course and the reason that the silly girl has survived this horrific trek is that she's one too Untutored and uncontrolled probably but powerful enough to draw the respect and cooperation of this great guardian We've really got to find her She may be the only one left."
    Despair favours the status quo. It is a luxury we cannot afford. ~ Andrew Nikiforuk

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