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The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

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The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:25 am

PROLOGUE

Good Even *ahem* Morning all! Your friendly neighborhood Ajani here with a bit of news...and a bit of backstory.

So I've got a very, VERY overactive imagination. You give me a story idea and I can run with it just about anywhere. I like to create stories in my mind and, honestly, it's a great outlet (and it helps keep me awake in class sometimes).

Anyways, many years ago I was part of an RP group for another game and was gone over Christmas break. Since my characters would be "gone" while I was gone, I decided to write a story about what they did in their absence. So, considering I'll be mostly gone from June 24th to July 10th (ish) I thought I'd do something like that for Sidhiel and Kai, detailing what they're doing on their "summer break". NOTE: You will occasionally see me on the server (helping Peace build the library probably) but I am going to a place with shoddy internet access, so don't count on it. However, I'll be checking the forums daily.

Now I haven't done something like this - i.e wright a story and then post it in public forums - since the aforementioned Christmas break, so I'm a tad bit nervous about doing this. But hey, if Sealand can do it (and yes, you gave me the idea to do this, so thank you :) ) I suppose I can as well. I may not be the best writer, but I have fun doing it.

Constructive criticism and ideas for improvement are welcomed, but no flaming. PM me if you've got ideas, compliments, etc. ONCE THE STORY IS FINISHED, I WILL OPEN UP COMMENTS. Until then, delete your comments...sorry guys :/. Hope to see you guys on the server, and have fun everyone! (I know I will, I'm turning 20, so yeah!) Also: SOMEONE FIND ME A TITLE! (PM me if you've got an idea, the current one is just a placeholder)

HOOOKAEEE wow lengthy prologue. Tl;Dr I'm gone for a while, so are Sid and Kai, writing a story about what they're doing.

Another note: The first chapter will:
1) Be up Sunday maybe
2) Will take place after Richards's funeral, even though that hasn't occurred in RP yet. Don't worry, I'll just kinda mention it in passing and then continue with the story.
3) You guys get a surprise at the end of the story. Ok, maybe not a surprise, but...maybe it'll be interesting?

OK I'M DONE BYE NOW.

UPDATE: The winner of the Title Contest goes to Tengard for his "Antonius Chronicles" idea. I like that, considering that this'll probably go on for a little while (pertains to the letters/conversations/etc). Thanks Teng/Rusk/Ruckus :)


Last edited by AJ.Wisteria on Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:01 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Chapter 1 - And So We Begin

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:53 am

Chapter 1 - And So We Begin

When Sidhiel arrived in New Cerberus it was pouring down rain. The streets were flooded, and the few animals that wandered about the town were huddled under house eaves, dripping with water and looking as miserable as Sidhiel felt. She pulled the hood up over her head and tightened her cloak about her, trying to take as much shelter as she could from the downpour.

Her horse shifted uneasily underneath her, shaking his head and jumping as the thunder roared overhead. She calmed him and began to trot down the familiar streets towards the tavern, which she could barely see in the distance. She knew for certain that Kai would be there, doing her best to raise the spirits of the people in town, though no amount of alcohol, tea, or coffee could hope to mend the horrors the group had seen recently.

Sidhiel’s mind drifted towards the unexpected death of Richards – a man she had hoped she would get to know better as the months passed – and how he had died to save the rest of them from the malicious entity only known as Amulet. The funeral service had been a day before she left to return to Horizon, and though she and Kai knew he was at peace, it did nothing to mend the emotional wounds it caused. The look in her sister’s eye reflected what Sidhiel herself felt in her own soul – maybe she could have done more. She grimaced and pushed those thoughts out of her mind as she reached the tavern and dismounted, tying up her horse next to Kai’s under the eaves.

The sweet smell of mead and cooking bread filled her nostrils as she opened the door, doing her best to take off her soaked cloak and boots before they drenched the floor as well. It was pleasantly warm when she stepped inside, and she felt as if she had stepped into her own inn back in Horizon. Though the tavern was filled with plenty of people, it was eerily quiet and a feeling of morbid sadness filled the room. Only a week or less had passed since Richards had died, and the people of the town were still feeling the pain.

She finally succeeded in removing her pauldrons and boots, setting them next to the roaring fire so they could dry for tomorrow’s journey. Faelar, Chris, Animus, and Squiiji sat at the bar in their usual spots, while Ryu worked behind the counter, touching up the woodcarving he had done for Kai as various conversations went on around him. She patted him on the shoulder and told him to take a break as she brewed herself a pot of coffee and asked the others if they needed refills. “Has anyone, by any chance, seen Kai?” she asked, delivering drinks to Peace, Falgor, Ryu, and Wave who sat at the table nearest to the bar.

“She went downstairs to take a short nap, I think.” Chris replied, taking a drink from his usual glass of milk. “She’s not feeling well.”

“Who is?” Sidhiel muttered softly, taking a drink from her coffee mug. Gloom had descended over most of New Cerberus and the people that lived within the city, leaving Sidhiel with a cold empty feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Most of the group had cleared out within an hour and a half, each paying for their respective drinks and wishing the sisters safe travels as they returned home. She followed the group out the door and stood outside for a moment, the storm’s dying winds tossing her hair in all directions. The storm would pass, and they would leave tomorrow. With that thought in her mind, she locked the tavern door and laid down on the couch in front of the fireplace, closing her eyes as the crackling sounds lulled her to sleep.

****

The next morning Sidhiel was up bright an early, though not by her own choosing. The night before had been a restless one, filled with unpleasant dreams and punctuated by the whimpering cries of her sister as she fought off her own nightmares. She brewed herself another pot of coffee and sat reading for another hour before finally waking her sister up gently. The girls grabbed their bags – surprisingly enough, Kai had packed hers the day before, something rather uncharacteristic – and walked outside to where their horses were tied up. Kai mentioned needing to drop something off at her mountainside home – a sealed letter, Sidhiel noted – and returned in a few minutes without the note. Sidhiel guessed who it was for, but made no mention of it even after they were well on their way.

It took the pair nearly a week of travelling to reach where they were headed. They stopped at a few roadside villages, but most were wary of travelers due to the possible presence of the Overlich and his minions. They received very little help from most of these places and were forced to forage on their own, setting up camps along the way when night fell.

They met up with Mason a day before they arrived at the city, and he guided them through a massive forest which opened up into a vast valley. Before the trio arose a massive mountain range that seemed to stretch on for an eternity in each direction. The snow-capped peaks reached far into the sky, their tops obscured by clouds that floated lazily above them. With a flutter of wings Mason alit on Sidhiel’s shoulder and stared at the great mountains in front of them.

Kai and Sidhiel made their way across the valley towards a large tree that stood alone at the base of the cliffs, dismounting once they reached its trunk.
“Well what now, Sid?” Kai asked, removing the tack from the horses and carrying it over to a shadowed overhang. The horses could stay in the valley while they crossed the mountains, and she hoped their riding supplies would be safe enough at the base of the mountain. “Sid?”

Sidhiel had taken on a peculiar look, one that was familiar to Kai by now. Her face was blank, and she occasionally turned her head to Mason. Kai rolled her eyes and sighed, finally unbridling the horses before returning to her sister’s side. The tree that loomed over them looked like a huge oak, larger than any oak she had ever seen before. It stood at nearly forty feet tall, its trunk nearly as wide as Sidhiel was tall. Its gnarled roots had grown into the wall of the mountain itself, and it seemed to sigh and even sing as the wind rushed through its leaves.

The sisters stared at the great oak and its twisted roots, utterly confused as to how to get into the mountain. Suddenly Mason pecked gently at Sidhiel’s ear and opened one curled claw, dropping a tiny teardrop-shaped teal gem into her palm. Sidhiel’s face became blank yet again as she moved towards the tree and placed it at the very base of the roots.

A minute of silence passed as Kai shifted uneasily from foot to foot, casting unconvinced glances in Sidhiel’s direction. “Should that have wor – “ She was cut off as a great groan issued from the tree in front of them and the very ground began to shake. They looked around, expecting an avalanche of rocks to come crashing down upon their heads from the mountain above or a legion of undead to appear from the forest behind them. Instead, the trunk of the tree began to glow with an eerie light, and with a flash and a groan it roots pulled apart, revealing a long dark corridor ahead of them. Wind rushed into the darkness, pulling the travelers along with it, as the light behind them closed off and left them in blackness.

The travelers stood in the corridor in total darkness for what seemed like an eternity. They could hear distant footsteps and even fragments of conversations, as if ghosts were passing around and through them. There was a whirring sound from around them and lights began to spring up through the floor, splashing the bluish-grey stone with a whitish-yellow glow. They followed the lights along the ground until they came to a great stone wall. Two guards dressed in full chainmail armor stood before them, their crossed halberds blocking the way.

Sidhiel and Kai explained their mission and immediately a look of genuine surprise replaced the bored looks on the faces of the guards. The two men looked at each other and exchanged a few words, then nodded as one suddenly turned and passed through the wall – yes, through the wall proper – leaving Sidhiel and Kai thoroughly confused. Then began the whirrings and clickings as the great stone wall opened up before them and they passed through the doorway.


(Author's Note: I may not be the best writer in the world, but I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. The second one is currently being revised and will be posted...at...some point...)
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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by nighttiger1000 on Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:32 am

Congratulations on your new series!
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Chapter 2 - A Welcome Arrival

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:03 am

Chapter 2 - A Welcome Arrival

They stepped out onto a stone balcony from which one large set of stairs ran down onto the cobblestone street below. As they looked up, however, the sight that spanned before them took their breaths away. Before them stood a magnificent cavern, taller than anything they had ever seen before, even Uron’gar. Great mansions were cut directly into the walls of the cavern while smaller houses sat on the cavern floor, and some even seemed to float above the bulk of the city, suspended by great support beams and connected by long wooden bridges. In the far distance stood the front of what looked like a massive stone castle and a pair of great wood-and-iron doors, which they took to be the entrance to the city’s palace.

They moved down the steps, trying to keep their looks of amazement to a minimum as they passed between massive carved stone pillars that rose up from the ground and arched across the cavern’s roof. Delicately carved and inlaid glowstone snaked up the bluish-hued stone columns, casting an azure-gold hue across the paved walkway in front of them, while translucent luminescent spheres seemed to float of their own accord through the streets and high above the housetops. Hedges lined the streets, their continuity punctuated by ten-feet-tall gangly-looking trees blooming with magenta and deep purple flowers.

They stopped at the massive city farm that seemed to span on for miles in the distance. Farmers worked the field, walking to and fro, occasionally stopping to chat with one another before returning to their work. They finally got the attention of one such worker and, after questioning the rather curious and puzzled fellow (the people of Kalvan are not used to visitors of any sort), learned the whereabouts of the Relthen refugees and turned towards the western housing district.

The large local inn was the building that marked their entrance into the western residential district. Obviously most of the houses in this area were older – not ‘rickety’ or ‘falling apart’ older, they simply sported much simpler designs than the ones towards the entrance of Kalvan – but the mood in this part of the city was much more relaxing than anywhere else they had been. People that had been milling about on the streets stopped and stared in stunned confusion before realizing who the visitors were. The sisters were soon swamped with a wave of thirty or more people, bombarding the pair with questions about their travels, about the Dawnlands, and just about anything else they could think up.

The sisters finally broke through the crowd and were directed to a medium-sized home with a fireplace and ample windows, with a few flower pots out front – no doubt this was Emilia’s doing (she had a fondness for potted plants. Especially petunias). Sidhiel rapped on the door a few times, and a few more times after receiving no answer. A few muffled voices came from inside and finally, with an ear-splitting creak, the door swung open.

Emilia stood there, her usually well-kept hair in shambles, and bits of pastry dough smeared on her shirt. She stared in shock at the newcomers for a moment, but that look dissolved into one of great joy and happiness as she wrapped her children up in a motherly hug. “Martin!” she called into the house. “They’re here!” Without warning, Emilia grabbed each of their wrists and dragged them into the kitchen, where Martin stood poking cautiously at a mound of dough on the cutting board.

When he turned his face lit up and he walked over to them, enveloping the sisters in a bear hug. He did his best to hold their bags as they removed their coats and hung them on the rack nearby, mentioning that Dorian was out for the day, staying over at a friend’s house, and wouldn’t be back until the next. In the meantime Mason flew off of Sidhiel’s shoulder and perched above the furnace, peering down curiously at the dough below him. Martin guided the two girls up to their room where they would be staying and allowed them to unpack, disappearing back downstairs to help with whatever Emilia was in the process of creating.

Judging by the clock on the wall, two hours had passed since their arrival. The travelers had had time to bathe, change into more comfortable attire, and help with the cooking. Outside the sun would’ve been setting over the forest, but both Sidhiel and Kai guessed they wouldn’t be seeing the sun for quite a while.

Sidhiel let out a relaxed sigh as she sat back in her chair, stretching her legs out under the table. She considered wandering back into the kitchen to see if she could lend her assistance, but was shooed out by Martin who had a look of mock fright on his face. “Your mum and Kai are in the same kitchen, Blue. All we can do is hope they don’t light the house up.” She chuckled and sat back down, bopping her forehead gently against Mason’s as he flew down and landed on her shoulder. Martin slumped in the chair across from her with a sigh, rubbing the right side of his neck and shoulder.

She realized just how much he had aged in the seven months or more she had been gone in the Dawnlands. His deep brown hair and blue eyes had taken on many more grey tones, and the beard that surrounded his chin and mouth was now completely colorless. His face was creased and lined, and the dark circles under his eyes gave Sidhiel a picture of just how much sleep he had lost since Relthen’s destruction. A gnarled and nasty white scar ran from his right earlobe down along his collarbone and to the middle of his chest before disappearing beneath his shirt, no doubt a painful reminder of the attack that had brought them to Kalvan in the first place. She reached across and put her hand on top of his, smiling. “You look tired, ada.”

He smiled softly and squeezed her hand reassuringly. “Recent events have me worried, Blue. The people here don’t seem to realize the threat they’re facing.”

“Can you explain in more detail why we are here?”

“According to a few of the miners, there have been some odd goings-on in the mines. Sounds of explosions in the cavern, moans, clacking bones, and a few workers have even been attacked. One casualty so far, but the guards said it was simply ‘miners mania’. Apparently that was enough to convince the overseer that it was safe to keep sending miners into the mines…” he trailed off, running a hand through his hair. “Blue, if they’ve got open portals anywhere... I remember what came out of those obsidian walls – “ he rubbed the scar on his neck painfully.

Sidhiel frowned in shock and fear. “Any netherborn?”

“Not yet, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing them fairly soon. If the undead in the mines are beginning to awake, it’ll only be a matter of time before the Netherborn realize they’ve got a way into the overworld.” Martin waved his hand off towards the castle keep and glanced towards the kitchen. “I brought it up with Lord Corman Dariak, who didn’t seem to care. However, he’s heard of the Dawnlands and the fight you’ve brought to the Overlich, and he seems interested. He wants you and Kai to give a presentation to the town guard.”

“Really?” a light came over Sidhiel’s face as she excused herself, disappearing up the stairs only to reappear moments later with a tattered journal. “A friend of mine compiled a bestiary of all of the creatures on this world and was kind enough to lend it to me. I did my best to copy it out as faithfully as I could, and hopefully it will help.”

Martin took the book from her and flipped through the pages, squinting as he read the writing on the page. “I can’t believe you can read your own handwriting, Blue. It’s hideous!” he chuckled. “Then again, considering that I can read it, it can’t be that bad. This’ll certainly help.”

Emilia and Kai appeared from the kitchen bearing a large loaf of bread with milk, which they poured into glasses and set on the table. Martin re-explained the situation to Kai as she munched on the bread, who nodded her head in understanding and agreement. “So why’s they think we’re good enough to present?”

“I think it’s simply because of where you have been for the past seven months. Or in Kai’s case, two months.” Emilia said.

“That’s it? That’s the only reason?” Kai muttered, incredulous.

“Kai, I believe it is more of what we know about the minions themselves and who to be wary of. We have more experience than anyone else here.”

“That’s basically it,” Emilia chipped in. “Most of the Relthen Guards have integrated themselves into the Kalvan Guard and have tried to warn them, but they refuse to listen.”

“We will do what we can to help out and train them, but if they are unwilling to learn…”

“Sidney, I’m sure once they get a full-fledged attack, they’s gonna wanna learn.”

Sidhiel’s face darkened at her sister’s words but she nodded, acknowledging the truth of the matter. Martin soon changed the subject as the family finished their meal, and after an hour or two sent Sidhiel and Kai up to their bedrooms. They didn’t protest, and both were fast asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow.

Author's Note: Second chapter revised and edited. Hopefully, since I've got chapter 8 or so written out already, I'll be able to post one of these a day. They still need revising and editing, so if you catch something I missed i.e a repeated sentence (I caught an entire repeated paragraph earlier -.-), grammatical error, etc. please don't hesitate to tell me.
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Chapter 3 - An Unruly Lot

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:02 am

Chapter 3 - An Unruly Lot

Sidhiel awoke suddenly when an object that could only be described as “plushy” connected with the side of her head. She hit the floor with a loud thump and a cry of surprise, staring up at the edge of the bed above her. A young man with tousled brown hair and hazel eyes peered down at her, grinning playfully as he clutched the pillow tighter in his hand. “You!” she yelled, grabbing his shirt with one hand and yanking him off the bed. She pinned him on the floor until he begged for mercy, tears of laughter rolling down his cheeks. “Look at you! You are almost as tall as me now!” she said and hugged him, pushing him back so she could smooth his hair. “So good to see you, Dorian.” He waved her hand away and grinned, pulling her up into a standing position.

“Come on, breakfast’s ready.” He said, heading towards the door and out into the hall with Sidhiel close behind. As she passed by her sister’s room, she kicked the door once or twice and called to Kai, who simply replied with a string of muffled expletives. “Leave her. She’s like me on a weekend morning.” Dorian stated, leading the still-groggy Sidhiel down the stairs and into the kitchen.

“You used to wake me up at the crack of dawn when you were younger, Dorian. Not as much of an early riser now?”

“I’ve got a steady job! Gotta get up early an’ stuff.” He said with a laugh. “Weekends are my sleep-in days.”

“Plus he’s got himself a lovely – “

“Moooommmm!” he groaned, pouring himself a cup of tea and frowning at Emilia from across the table. “Well she is!” replied their mother with a smile, serving up some rather well-done-looking eggs on four wood plates. “Works for the healers, she does.”

“An’ she’s damn good at it, too!”

“Dorian Maelek Antonius, watch your language.” Martin muttered, looking up over his paper and his reading glasses.

“You let Kai do it.” Dorian pouted, sticking his bottom lip out at them. Sidhiel chuckled, noticing the similarities in Ruckus’s face when he had been caught in the trap back in New Cerberus. Probably why Kai had taken such a liking to the undead in the first place, she thought. “That is because our sister is beyond help when it comes to her obscenities.” Sidhiel muttered with a smirk. “Hey, Dorian…how about you go wake her up?” a malicious yet childlike grin came across Dorian’s face as he excused himself and snuck up the stairs.

The rest of the family fell silent, tilting their ears towards the ceiling and straining to hear what would happen next. What started out as a few annoyed curses suddenly became a yell of surprise as Dorian came rocketing back down the stairs, throwing himself out the front door as a bucket rolled haphazardly across the floor. Moments later Kai ran – gracefully slipped, more like – down the stairs, rolling once before regaining her balance. Her hair was drenched and she looked almost like a madwoman as she flew out the front door and tackled him on the front lawn, pinning him to the ground before tickling him.

A little light had come back into Kai’s eyes after she saw Dorian, and though her mood was soured at being woken up so early, she looked happy to be home. After the siblings made their way inside, they sat down and finished breakfast with the family, though Kai seemed more interested in returning to bed. It took another ten minutes to wait for her to finish and change, but finally the sisters were on their way.

The sheer size of the city still awed them as their feet sounded against the cobblestone street, echoing eerily against the walls of the houses around them. It was early enough in the morning that few people were up and about, but the few that were awake stopped them on the streets, trying to coax tales of the Dawnlands and their travels out of the duo. They looked crestfallen when the sisters told them of their previous engagement, but after promising to return to the tavern that evening, their questioners allowed them to leave, sporting excited looks on their faces.

After some directions from the locals, they were directed to “The Great Road”, or the road that ran in front of the castle, which sat between the guardhouse and the city hospital. The road was laid with the same sort of hand-carved bluish-hued stone that the castle and the pillars were made from. Two massive oaks – not quite as large at the one guarding the entrance to Kalvan, but large enough to make the sisters crane their heads upward at an awkward angle – arched over the great stone steps leading up to the wood doors of the castle.

They finally arrived at the guardhouse: a simple stone brick structure with two levels and a large wood porch that jutted out over the front entryway. Two deep blue flags with delicately embroidered gold braids and knotwork hung down from poles on each side of the doors – no doubt representative of the city’s colors. The pair of hefty wooden doors loomed above the sisters, and from behind the great iron handles they could hear a cacophony of loud voices and clanking metal – no doubt the guards were gathered inside, agitated at their early awakening.

The sisters pushed open the doors and were greeted with a rather large stone staircase and two opposing hallways, one to the left and one to the right. Before they could decided on which way to go, a young-looking grey-haired human approached them dressed in full plate armor, her helmet held tightly to her side as she extended her free hand to the sisters. She introduced herself as Alena Markova, grandmaster of the entire Kalvan guard, and led the duo up the steps and into the meeting room upstairs.

Simple torches lit up the room and glinted off the shining armor of the men and women inside. The bulk of the guards were sitting in the large benches that ran the length of the hall, while about twenty or thirty lined the walls. Most bore at least some sort of food or drink item in their hands, and every single one of them stared at the sisters with sullen and bored looks on their faces. Grandmaster Markova finally managed to shush the group and introduce the sisters, but not before rapping at least ten of the guards in the front row on the head with the scabbard of her sword.

The two-hour presentation fell on deaf ears as the guard filed out without even a basic “thank you” or nod of acknowledgement to the two. Kai sighed and ran a hand through her hair, frowning. “I’s a feelin’ we’re gonna need actual proof that there’s a threat here.” she muttered. “How’s about goin’ down to th’ mines?” Sidhiel nodded, and the two set off down the street, following the signs that marked the road to the mines.

“So did you pick up all that knowledge yourself? Or did Ruckus teach you about it?” Kai scowled at her sister. “I noticed the note – “

“I left it just in case. Y’know, he might come back and wonder where I am…I…I din’t wanna just leave an’ have ‘im think it was his fault…” Kai trailed off, staring at the ground. “D’you think he’ll come back?” Sidhiel sighed and stopped in the road, pulling Kai aside.

“I have no idea, Kai. I wish I could tell you that he would be coming back, but I cannot.” She put a comforting hand on her sister’s shoulder, smiling. “I have a feeling he will return, though. Maybe you will not know it, but he is one of those characters that seems to like watching out for you.” Kai’s gaze brightened a bit and the corner of her mouth turned up slightly into a smile. “But if he starts taking potshots at anyone in Horizon or New Cerberus, I can assure that I will be…most…displeased…” Sidhiel suddenly trailed off as a fellow passed beside them on the path, his nose stuffed in a book, a pair of reading glasses perched on the tip of his nose.

He was dressed sharply, wearing a dark blue tailed coat with a white collared shirt, as well as black pants and a grey vest. His light brown hair was tied back in a low-hanging ponytail, though a few loose strands had managed to escape from their binding. Sidhiel did a full spin and took a few steps backward to catch her balance, all the time staring at the elf. Kai noticed the man, but didn’t think much of it until she realized Sidhiel had stopped on the path. Her mouth was slightly ajar and her eyes were wider than Kai had ever seen them before.

“Whoa Sidney, need a bit o’ help pickin’ yer jaw up off the floor?” Sidhiel did not respond, but continued to watch the fellow as he disappeared behind the building at the end of the street. “I’ve never seen you look at any of the Dawnland fellows that way. Not good enough fer yer tastes?”

Sidhiel recomposed herself and attempted to throw daggers at her sister with her eyes...though Kai seemed impervious to her gaze. “Most of the fellows in the Dawnlands are taken or not interested, and I have much more self control than to act that way around them. Do you have any idea how embarrassing that would be?”

Kai paused, then laughed suddenly and uncontrollably, only stopping when Sidhiel bopped her upside the head with her hand. “Sorry sis. I's picturin' that…” Sidhiel let out an exasperated sigh and ignored her sister’s laughing. “Plus, if memory serves, you had a bit of a crush on one of ‘em for a while!”

A look of surprise spread over Sidhiel's countenance before being replaced by one of angry embarrassment. “Don’t you EVER make mention of that Kai. Bad things will happen.” Sidhiel growled. “He just…nevermind.” Kai continued to pester her sister, but gave up when they reached the mines, realizing her she wouldn’t speak of it any more.

The mines were unlike anything Kai had ever seen, nearly double the size of the mines in Relthen, New Cerberus, or Horizon, and the sisters were slightly overwhelmed by their size. They arrived in a cavernous open room, in which sat a large two-story cobblestone-and-wood building – the living quarters for the miners, they guessed – and a smaller building, which they supposed was the home of the overseer. On the three opposing walls stretched three more tunnels, all natural in look, held up by wood struts and blocked off by piston-controlled gates. They finally made their way to the smaller building, towards the overseer, the man they hoped could help them.


Author's Note: I've noticed, as I get farther along in the story, my descriptive skills appear to be lacking. Sometimes I get bored halfway through a story and leave it hanging, though I doubt I'll do that with this one. Also, guess what: you guys get two parts tonight! Read the author's note for ch.4 to see why.


Last edited by AJ.Wisteria on Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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Chapter 4 - Useful Information

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:18 am

Chapter 4 - Useful Information
(Ignore the fact that I accidentally posted this in a new topic. /me feels sheepish.)

The overseer sported a dirty, what might have once been a white-colored tunic (that appeared to have acquired some new stains since earlier that day), tattered brown pants, a balding liver-spotted head, and quite a few missing teeth. His name was Careth and, unfortunately, he was most unhelpful. He seemed a bit too focused on the pair’s upper-chest areas and gave them very little useful information. He was firm in the belief that the miners were “Jus’ makin’ up stories to get outta a bit o’ hard work”, and then proceeded to impress them with tales of how hard he worked in the mines. They ended the conversation awkwardly (attempting to look as impressed as they could possibly muster) and quickly and sped out of the house, casting sickened looks towards each other as they walked away while setting their sights on the miners barracks.

The duo had much more luck when they spoke to the miners themselves. Most were men, ranging from teenagers to elders, with darkened faces and hacking coughs, simply working to help pay off debts within the city or help put food on the table for their families. After the two split up and began talking to the miners, Kai hit a break with an older man named Ren. His face was weathered with years of work, teeth missing, and hair covered in coal and ore debris from the tunnels, and at first he was unwilling to give her any information. Finally Kai coaxed him into speaking and caught the break she and her sister had been looking for.

“We started hearin’ sounds about six years ago, but we din’t think much of it after they went silent. Then it started again about two months ago,” he began. “We started hearin’ sounds from the caverns. Most of us thought it was just the young’uns playin’ tricks on us geezers, but they didn’t know what the sounds was, either. We kept workin’, hopin’ it was just wind blowin’ through the cracks in the walls.”

“Then the sounds got worse. Instead of hearin’ one or two a day, we was hearin’ one or two an hour. Everywhere, all around us, like they was hidin’ in the walls or somethin’. We began to get scared, so we talked to Careth. Course, he’s too busy tryin’ to look good for Lord Dariak, so he waved us off.”

“A week ago’s when it got bad. A kid come runnin’ outta Eastmine, covered in blood with an arrow stickin’ outta his arm. He collapsed on the steps, and when we followed the blood, we found…parts of his buddy. It was like the kid had lit up a block o’ dynamite and stood too close, but it din’t explain the arrow.”

“Careth said it was just a case of ‘mine fever’, but we knew things was gettin’ worse. The kid, Jaric, was a good kid, good worker with a family and a baby on the way, always calm and happy. Not the kinda kid to snap like that. He kept sayin’ somethin’ about the ‘hiss’ and the ‘bones’ and some other unintelligible stuff like that. it was enough to get us goin’.”

“He’s in jail now, rottin’ in a cell, an’ can’t make money for his family. He probably won’t be there for the birth of his child if we don’t vouch for ‘im.” The man sighed and put his head in his hands.

“That’s what we’re here for, Ren, an’ I think I’ve got an idea of what happened. Is th’ mine still open?”

“Nah, they closed it off after th’ attack. I bet with a bit ‘o persuasion you could have Careth reopen it.”

Kai visually grimaced but nodded, knowing that her self-respect would probably survive a bit of verbal prodding by a sleazy overseer. She thanked Ren profusely, giving him her word that they would find out what happened and set Jaric free. She spoke to a few others and received the same sort of stories and answers. Before long the clock above the door noted that nearly three hours had passed, and she met her sister out front.

Sid was sitting on the stone steps, obviously still a bit bothered by that fellow she had seen earlier that day. “Kai, I suppose you heard the story of that man, Jaric?”

“Yep. NEC, sounds like. And they’ve got skeletons. Probably zombies down there too.” Kai shuddered. “Ren and the others said we might be able to talk Careth into lettin’ the keys go and reopenin’ the scene, but…”

“Oh joy.” Sidhiel glowered.

“Yeah, I was thinkin’ the same thing. Shall we?” Sidhiel shook her head.

“I think it would be best to wait until later. It gives us a chance to gather more information from the people around town. I suggest speaking to Jaric to get his side of the story.”


The actual holding cells for prisoners were in the basement of the guardhouse, patrolled by two guards…though only one appeared to be doing his job. The elf paced the floor nervously, shaking his friend’s shoulder when the sisters appeared around the corner.

“Can’t be in here, it’s off limits!” he said, when it was obvious his friend wasn’t going to help him. “Wait a minute, I saw you earlier! You two were talking about the undead threat!”

“Indeed we were. We came here searching for – “

“Listen, I just wanted to say I really enjoyed the presentation!” he interrupted, abruptly shaking Sidhiel and Kai’s hands. “I worked down in the mines for a while and kept tellin’ everyone about the sounds, but no one believed me. Said I was getting too jumpy, scaring people, so they locked me down here in the basement with Lazy McHangover.” He bopped the other guard upside the head sharply, who growled resentfully but made no moves. “I’m Theo by the way. Theodore Markova, but Theo works.” The sisters both raised their eyebrows, mirroring each other’s interest in his last name. however, they skipped the subject and continued with their interrogation.

““We’s just come from the mines…heard about them closin’ up Eastmine ‘cause of an explosion?”

“Yeah. They say Jaric got mine mania and blew up Farn, but I wouldn’t believe that. Jaric was the sanest guy around.” he eyed the other guard suspiciously, then removed the keys from his desk. “If you really think we’re facing a true undead threat, then you’d better talk to Jaric. I’ve seen what the undead can do, and I’ve already been chased outta one home.” He unlocked the door and sent them inside, directing them to the second cell on the right.

The man was sitting in the corner on top of his cot – well, one couldn’t even call it a cot, more like a pile of hay with a sheet haphazardly thrown over it – knees pulled up to his chin, eyes closed. He had blonde hair and dark eyes that seemed darker due to the circles underneath them. He was scrawny and looked mangy, like a sickly street dog that’s never seen a bath – Kai guessed this was just the case with him. Sidhiel knocked gently on the door and called out his name.

He appeared at the door in a flash, one hand clasped around the bars, one hand reaching out to them. “Has it happened yet? Is she alright?” he asked excitedly. Kai looked at her sister, a confused frown on her face. “You’re obviously not midwives.” He said with a sigh, pulling away from the bars with an exhausted sigh. “No matter. I doubt they’ll even tell me. So what, are you here to gawk at the crazed murderer like everyone else?”

“No. My name is Sidhiel Antonius, and this is my sister, Kai. Our family came here from Relthen after it was razed, as well as much of the populace. Kai and I were summoned here from the Dawnlands to assess the undead threat here in Kalvan.”

“Dawnlanders? And refugees from Relthen?” he returned to the bars and offered out a hand. “It’s an honor to meet you both. I can’t imagine what your people have been through, but what you’ve done to hold back the threat has kept so many outlying cities safe.”

“It ain’t been easy, but we’s survived.” Replied Kai, shaking his hand after Sidhiel had. “We came t’ ask about what happened in Eastmine.”

“What’s to tell? Farn and I were there, then he was dead and I was blamed.”

“Why were you down there?”

“We were told we could make some extra wages by clearing out some rubble in Eastmine leftover from a cave-in. Farn had a debt he needed to pay off to the upper-district barkeep, and I needed some help paying off the local healer…” he rubbed the back of his neck and leaned against the door. “First thing we noticed is that it was too quiet. Usually we hear rats or lizards skittering about, but that day it was completely silent. Not even the odd noises were heard. Farn didn’t care, but I felt like something was off.

Farn and I spent an hour or two in there before we decided to head up the passage, but then we heard rocks crunching behind us. I was up the tunnel about three feet ahead of him and turned to help him up a ledge when I saw it.” Jaric’s voice caught and he shut his eyes tightly. Kai slipped her hand through the bars and touched his shoulder, which seemed to be enough to get him started again. “It was taller than Farn by a foot, more like my height, and black as night itself. In the torchlight it seemed to reflect deep red and violet colors on its body, but the eyes…white eyes with no pupils that just stared. All of a sudden I heard a hiss and then an explosion.”

“I was thrown back about six feet, and when my eyes finally readjusted I noticed Farn wasn’t there. Then I looked down and saw I was covered in blood, and…” he stopped again. “Gods there were pieces of him on the floor. Pieces! An' platters on the wall and – “

“You were attacked by what is called a Negative-energy creeper. Very nasty and very dangerous.” He nodded, his head in his hands.

“At least I know what killed Farn now but…they’re not gonna believe you. None of ‘em.”

“You let us deal with that, ‘kay?” Kai turned to Sidhiel. “I think it’s about time we head back down to Eastmine, hm?”

Kai and Sidhiel spoke with Jaric for a little longer, reassuring him that they would prove his innocence, then stopped to speak with Theo again on their way out. He was one of the few guards who actually seemed to care about the threat, and wished them luck as they disappeared out the doors. When they finally reappeared in the mines the workers were turning in for the evening – prime time for them to conduct their operation. They bit their lips, exchanged disgusted looks, approached the overseer’s house, and knocked on the door.

Author's Note: Yeah...lotsa dialogue here. I like dialogue, though :P
Anyways, here's my reason for posting - HOLY SH*T IT'S RAINING WOW -
>.>
Posting two parts tonight. My current location has no wifi connection, but we learned last year that we could piggyback off of a free connection across the river. Unfortunately, it's not there this year (or it's not there yet)...so yeah. For the next few days I'll have a steady connection, but after Friday...expect the story parts to arrive much more slowly. Coffeeshops are an internet addict's best friend, am I right?
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Chapter 5 - Unadvised Tactics

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:15 am

Chapter 5 - Unadvised Tactics

Apparently they had caught Careth in the middle of doing paperwork, which was spread out all over the main room. He was pleased to see them again – a bit too pleased, the sisters later agreed. He seemed to leer at them as they walked through the house – and Kai felt her gorge rise as she got a whiff of his breath when he leaned in to greet them. He invited them to sit at the table and vanished into the kitchen, reappearing with three mugs of mead, which he set down in front of them. Kai watched Sidhiel awkwardly sip at her cup, knowing full well she hated the taste.

“So, what brings ye fine ladies back here?” he asked, leaning over the table towards Sidhiel. “Din’t think I’d see you back so soon. Miss me?”

“Ah y…yes. Well, we came to ask about Eastmine and we were hoping to see the scene of the…crime.” Sidhiel explained, trying to keep herself from shifting backwards. “We were sent over here to investigate by – “

“Prolly Lord Dariak, am I right? Thought so. He’s always meddlin’ in business down here.” Careth furrowed his brows and pouted. “Things run smooth enough as is without ‘im stickin’ his hands in everythin’.”

“There any way you could get us the key? We jus’ wanna see it for ourselves.”

Careth laughed heartily, showing a few blackened teeth as he did so. “Key ta th’ vault’s around me belt…” He cast an unmistakably risqué glance at Sidhiel – or rather an attempted risqué glance, as risqué as you can get with a liver-spotted bald head and missing teeth – who pleaded with her eyes for Kai to help her. The latter shook her head helplessly, realizing the fellow’s preference no longer weighed on her. She had dealt with people like this before, at the Scurvy Scallion in Relthen, but Sid kept much more to the shadows and was terrible – no, worse than terrible, appallingly awful – at flirting and returning advances.

“Ah, ‘scuse me…you got a bathroom? I’s not gone all day.”

“Yeh. Go through the kitchen an’ turn right. Can’t miss it.” Kai made her way to the bathroom but never went in, instead shutting the door and sneaking back to peer into the sitting room. Careth was still facing Sidhiel and was “putting the moves” on her, much to her sister’s chagrin. Her eyes darted around the room looking for a way out as her body leaned farther and farther back away from the table. Kai soundlessly smacked her forehead into her palm, cringing at Sidhiel’s comebacks to Careth’s advances. Sidhiel had visibly shifted backward

“Lis’n luv, these keys’re attached pretty damn well to this belt…I dun’ think they’s comin’ off unless the whole thing comes off.” He leaned forward even further, nearly laying across the table as he leered at Sidhiel, who in response continued to lean back in her chair.

“I ah…ahm…” Sidhiel stumbled over her words, pressing her hands against the table and leaning back as far as the chair would possibly let her. “ I’m feeling a bit ill and – “ she let out a surprised cry as her chair suddenly fell backwards, spilling her onto the floor. Careth stumbled around the table and tried to help her up, tripping over his own feet as Sidhiel crawled backwards away from him. She finally gained her balance and swayed for a moment before reaching out with her hand towards his face. Circular ripples of copper light spread out from Sidhiel’s finger across Careth’s forehead, and the man fell facefirst into her with a groan.

“Sid?! What the hell did’ja do?” whispered Kai, stumbling over herself as she emerged from behind the doorframe. “Y’ were supposed ta get the keys without killin’ him! Oh, an’ yer bleedin’.”

“I gave him a high-powered telepathic burst, enough to knock him out for an hour or so…" Sidhiel shoved Careth off of her, grimacing when he hit the floor with a 'thump'. "At least, I think it was an hour. Maybe longer… I did not kill him!” Kai fiddled around with the key ring, pulling a handkerchief out of her pants pocket.

“I was hopin’ fer somethin’ a bit more subtle. C’mon, I got the keys, le’s go.”

The two sisters stopped apprehensively in front of Eastmine, shifting uneasily. A massive iron door loomed before them ominously, seeming to glare at them as they unlocked it. An unearthly screech sounded from its rusted hinges, causing the duo to shudder and look around breathlessly, hoping no one had heard them. A few of the remaining miners in the area looked around fearfully as the sisters ducked into the shadows, waiting for the right time to emerge. It seemed like an eternity before the final miners retreated to the safety of the barracks and the sisters were cleared to proceed.

Just as Jaric said, it was eerily quiet, save for the occasional drip-drip sounds of water and the popping noises of nearby lava pits. Iron and coal ore veins stood out against the lantern light, unmined for weeks, and a few chests stood near the door covered in dust and mud. As they traveled down the passage a little farther, Kai and Sidhiel began to realize something was terribly wrong – not because of the lack of sound, but because of the overwhelming stench that filled their nostrils. It was as if they ran into a brick wall, and they both reeled back simultaneously, hacking and wheezing against in the darkness.

Sidhiel fiddled around in her belt pouch until she pulled out a free handkerchief and handed it to Kai, tying the one she used earlier around her own nose and mouth as they advanced. It wasn’t much, but it deadened the smell enough for them to move forward. The cavernous walls seemed to close in around them, and Kai could almost imagine Jaric running for his life through the tunnel.

Kai took her time examining the edges of the cavern as Sidhiel pushed ahead, and was in the process of examining some oddly placed iron ore remnants when she heard a gasp from ahead of her. She ran down the passage, stopping herself as she reached a small ledge and peered over. “Sidney?” there was no response. Her sister was there below her, the light of the lantern casting an eerie yellowish glow over the painted rocks below.

In front of them was a medium-sized crater, and radiating out from the explosion were grisly blackish-brown stains, no doubt bright red when Jaric had seen them. What was left of the actual body had been cleaned up by workers, but apparently they had been too frightened to clean up the smaller bits and rotting entrails that adorned the walls. Kai felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up as the smell became more noticeable and she gagged, her eyes watering.

“Gunpowder.” Came a voice from ahead of her. Sidhiel was kneeling at the edge of the crater, her fingers covered in a fine dust. “Definitely an NEC. We should take samples and report back to – “

“We’s not alone, sis…” Kai interrupted, pointing towards the way they came. Bright flashes of torchlight danced along the cavern walls as five armor-clad men came into view, one sporting a very telltale comb on her helm. “Oh joy.”

“You two! You are trespassing on an official crime scene! I order you to turn over all weapons, tools, and stolen ores you may have collected. The jail’s calling your name!”

Kai gritted her teeth and glared at the Captain Alena, whose stone-faced countenance merely angered her more. She noticed Theo, the jail guard, standing awkwardly to one side of her, obviously dragged into this against his will. “We was investigatin’ the scene fer undead! This wasn’t a mishap with dynamite, this was a –”

“You are under arrest for breaking and entering into an official crime scene. Now come with us quietly, or –“ she was abruptly cut off as an arrow whizzed overhead and struck Theo in the leg, who fell with a cry of pain. The sisters raised their lanterns and were horrified at what they saw – hordes of zombies, skeletons, and slimes seemed to pour out of holes in the walls and advanced menacingly towards the group, groaning and clacking the entire way.

Sidhiel had already cleared the ledge in one jump and, before Kai could protest, had hauled her sister up behind her, her legs barely missing the grasping hands of a zombie. The guards stood dumbfounded as the horde massed at the base of the ledge, forming a living staircase towards them. They finally snapped out of it and began to back away, tripping over themselves as they fled towards the cavern entrance.

“Kai! Use this!” Sidhiel cried, tossing Kai a bottle of pinkish liquid. She immediately recognized it as a potion of healing and hurled it at the mob, injuring them enough for their staircase to topple. Soon it was rebuilt atop the bodies of the dead and injured, and Kai realized there was little chance of fighting them off. She pushed herself up under Theo’s other arm and the sisters hauled him out of the cavern, the undead hot on their heels. They both noticed Captain Alena firing her crossbow at the undead, taking out a few overeager zombies as they made their way towards the door.

Moments later they tumbled out of the door, crawling out of the way just before the guards locked it and sealed it up with a hunk of stone. “Get him…” Sidhiel panted. “Get him to the healer.”

“You don’t have the right to give us orders. We will do whatever we – “ suddenly the captain found herself at the mercy of Sidhiel’s hand as it pinned her by the neck against the stone slab.

“You fled and left us to die back there. How would that story fly in the city news? ‘Two visitors and a local guard torn to shreds by undead force’. I am sure that would do a great deal of good for your image in the community.”

“You wouldn’t…b…be there t….to…tell th…them!” she gasped out.

“I would not. Kai and Theo would have been, though.” She released the captain harshly, nearly throwing her to the ground. “Your kind sickens me. Now take him to the healer and us to Lord Dariak. We have much to discuss.”

Author's Note: My original idea was to have Sidhiel actually flirt with Careth before knocking him out, but I decided to keep her awkward in the ways of flirting. The next chapter, if I remember correctly, is rather dialogue-heavy, so be warned. I like dialogue, if you haven't noticed.

On another note: SOISDLKNVJAE I'M 20 YEARS OLD. Yep, today's my birthday. It's kinda scary to think about, actually... two decades of my life have passed so far. Anyways, more of the story will be arriving later today. I certainly hope you're still enjoying it!
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Chapter 6 - Unlikely Allies

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:33 am

Chapter 6 – Unlikely Allies

Bluestone Citadel was aptly named – the stonework glowed with an azure hue as the light from the central fire pit danced across the walls. Great pillars of stone and wood ran the length of the corridor, spreading out into four-pronged arches when they reached the ceiling. Each arch and pillar was ornately carved in braid-like patterns, some labyrinthine in design, and each pillar sported a different set of carvings. Sidhiel wondered if they told a story of some kind – the history of Kalvan maybe, or great myths surrounding the city and it’s beliefs – but she had little time to ponder this as she felt the tip of a halberd dig into her back.

They ascended the stone steps and approached a carved wood throne where a man in deep violet robes sat reading a rather ominous looking, aged, leather bound book. The man himself looked rather sickly, his thin grey hair hanging down in front of his face like a tattered curtain as it tangled in an even longer, more unkempt beard. His skin was stretched thinly over a skeletal frame, and he seemed to shake ever so slightly as he looked up, his dim hazel eyes staring through the intruders more than at them.

“Lord Dariak, we’ve caught the intruders that entered Eastmine.”

“Good work Alena. Now…” he stood up with a sharp intake of breath and walked over to them, swaying as he did so. “What have you to say for yourselves?”

“We ain’t done nothin’ wrong. They’s the ones hinderin’ progress an’ protection - ” Alena cut her off abruptly. “Oh really? Things appeared to be going rather well until you showed up. There had not been any other attacks, the mines had been quiet, and now you’ve gone and kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest of undead in Eastmine. Great job.” Alena sneered, pacing behind them.

“They would have left us for dead back in Eastmine. One of the guards was injured, and instead of helping us, they turned and fled.” Sidhiel growled.

“And with good reason! The undead are dangerous and should not be faced at any –“

“With proper training, your guards could overcome their fears and face the undead onslaught with ease. It would not be difficult, just allow us and the remainders of the Relthen guard to – “ This time Alena cut Sidhiel off abruptly, something the sisters learned she was apt to do.

“Milord, we’re doing fine on our own here. We know how to handle these sorts of situations, and I assure you these newcomers cannot offer us any information that we don’t already know!” Alena said haughtily. Sidhiel began to protest again but Lord Dariak waved his hand at them impatiently.

“For now you both get off with a warning.” He said quickly. “Alena, would you kindly escort them out?”

“With pleasure, milord.” She and the guards hustled out of the ‘throne room’ and down the hall, pushing them harshly out the front doors. “You try to pull a little stunt like that again, and we’ll have you thrown in prison. And this time, Theodore won’t be your guard.”

The moment Alena turned her back Kai made a move to strike her over the head, but Sidhiel stopped her. “She’s a haughty B**** no sense o’ decency or care for ‘er kin! She saw what was down there, but she ain’t gonna do a damn thing ‘bout it!”

“Kai, I am not happy about this either.” Sidhiel muttered sourly, turning a narrowed gaze on the silhouette of Alena. “But until we have some inside help, we cannot proceed any further.”

“What about that guy from th’ jail? Theo, right?” Sidhiel nodded. “He’s probably still in the healin’ halls. He wasn’t lookin’ too good when they brought him up.”

“Poison-tipped arrows, most likely similar to the ones your friend used before he began dousing them with lighter fluid.” Sidhiel muttered, beginning her walk down the steps, casting a quick glance at her sister. “Peace nearly lost the use of his arm because of one of those arrows.” Kai rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. “Sorry…” she trailed off. “So where’s we headed next?”

“The tavern?” Kai shrugged and agreed and the two made their way towards the western side of the city. They were greeted by survivors and natives alike, who pulled them into the tavern and prodded them for stories of the great battles and people they had met on their travels. Kai and Sidhiel kept them entertained for the better part of four hours before most of the younger crowd began to trail out, carried by their parents back to their respective homes.

Kai and Sidhiel finally bade the crowd farewell and stepped out onto the well-lit streets, the worries of the day still in the backs of their minds but buried by the warmth of family and the sight of old friends. They spoke very little on the way back, instead keeping to their own thoughts, not really paying attention to the road ahead of them. Suddenly a void opened up on the ground in front of them more softly than either had expected, and Kai was pulled down into the hole. She grabbed at Sidhiel’s arm for support but ended up pulling her, and the two plummeted into a black void.

They were – for lack of a better word – spat through a wall into a long corridor that, save for the robed man standing with their back to them at the end of the hall, was uninhabited and completely unfurnished. “Lord Dariak?”

“Please, my name is Corman, and you must refer to me as that here.” he said softly, reaching out a bony hand to them. “Sidhiel and Kai Antonius. I have only recently heard of your exploits in the Dawnlands,” he paused and smiled cordially when the confusion began to spread over their faces. “Yes, I was there in the tavern, standing on the balcony above your heads and above the fireplace.” Each shook his hand cautiously, frowning.

“That’s why we couldn’t see you. Whaddaya want? Ye kicked us out pretty quick like.”

“Yes, I sincerely apologize for that.” he said, a look of concern spreading across his face. He beckoned them down the hallway and began to explain. They had had troubles with the undead for the past six years or so, though nothing as serious as what had begun recently. All he knew was that someone was working against him and his advisors from the inside out, going as far as to blackmail some of his council members into silence. There was even record of an untimely death that possibly tied into what had been happening recently. He believed that it was possibly one of the guards, and that explained their lack of care for the city and its well-being. Kai noticed Sidhiel stiffen up when she heard the name of the dead councilmember, but she decided to ignore it.

“You are here to help me. Or rather, help the community. We need defenses, but so long as we have that leak within our walls, there will be no solid defenses. We will be overwhelmed if we are ever attacked.” He put a hand on each of their shoulders. “We need your help.” Kai cast a sideways glance at her sister, who seemed to be lost deep in thought. Finally she spoke. “Fair enough. What is our plan?” Lord Dariak’s face lit up with a bright grin and he clapped his hands.

“Fantastic! I am better at planning out battle strategies, but first we need defenses. My court mage is working on a few different projects currently, but we have limited resources and he needs…help.” He turned to the right and knocked on the door next to him. “Magus Brinc? Are you busy?” A few muffled crashing noises came from the room along with some grunts and a small explosion before a shaky voice answered them.

“Y – yes sir! Watch your step though!” Corman pushed open the door and walked in, grimacing as he did so. It was a large room with a high ceiling, well-lit with incandescent spheres that seemed to float through the air of their own accord. Great swaths of papyrus were hung all around them – each bearing their own set of odd runic markings and designs – hung in such a way as to cover up scorch marks, claw marks, and other blemishes that marred the walls. The floor itself was covered with the same sort of runic symbols, hastily sketched with charcoal or chalk, and the areas that didn’t bear some sort of odd scribbling was instead home to stacks of half-rolled-up scrolls or loose books. A very large bookshelf stood against one wall, and through the door next to it Kai could see the end of a bed – obviously Magus Brinc’s private quarters.

“Magus Brinc? Are you – “ Corman stopped as a wood door at the opposite side of the room flew open and a dark shape fell out, slamming face first into the floor. The older man deftly navigated the room – both of the sisters thought this was rather odd, considering his physical state – and helped lift the poor mage up into a standing position. “Alchemical issues?”

“Indeed, milord. I nearly had the mixture correct…unfortunately the knock on the door startled me and I added a bit too much gunpowder. Blindness appears to be the effect.”

“Not permanent, I hope?” the other fellow shook his head with a grin. “I can already make out the shapes of the visitors you’ve brought. Are these the Dawnlanders?”

“Indeed. Rissien Brinc, meet Sidhiel and Kai Antonius.” The young man awkwardly felt along the walls until he reached them, holding out a hand. Kai recognized him as the well-dressed elf from earlier that day, the one that Sidhiel had stared at on the road. Upon closer inspection, Kai noticed his hair was much more unkempt than earlier and his blue eyes sat in dark, tired sockets. His coat had been thrown haphazardly into the corner and lay in a crumpled mess, while his vest and shirtsleeves were covered in potion remnants. “Can you explain to them what our plan is?”

Rissien Brinc didn’t reply, but instead stared at the Dawnlanders in confusion and recognition. His mouth opened and closed a few times, but no sounds came out. “So what’s th’ plan?” Rissien shook Kai’s outstretched hand but paid little attention to her, instead settling his gaze on her sister. “Hello?”

“Y – yes, the plan. Of course!” he shook his head while straightening his vest and cravat. “I assume Lord Dariak has given you the basic run-down of what we plan to do?” they shook their heads in unison. “Oh. Well.” He turned to Corman Dariak, who by then had given the mage a low bow and slipped out of the room. “The basic idea is to create weapons that will injure the creatures we’ll be facing. Specially-runed arrows that are tailored to exploit and exaggerate the weaknesses of our enemies, poisons, spells, the like. However…” he began to pace around the room, trying to keep his eyes off of Sidhiel. “However, I’m in need of research material.”

“You need samples of th’ creatures.” he nodded.

“You’re pretty quick on the uptake, Miss Kai.” she berated him for calling him ‘miss’ as he stared over at Sidhiel, whose stony gaze hadn’t changed within the five minutes they had been speaking. The grin quickly dropped from his countenance as he cleared his throat and continued. “Yes, I need samples. Unfortunately, I cannot rely on the guards or the miners to get me samples, since the ‘mole’ may belong to one of those groups.”

“So why’s you so sure you can trust us? We might’a been changed at some point, masqueradin’ as heroes just so we can relay messages to the Overlich.” Rissien narrowed his eyes and gave Kai a withering glare. “Sorry. Not a good thing ta’ joke about?” he shook his head.

“No.” he ran a hand through his hair, attempting to untangle a few loose strands from the cuff that ran along his ear. “We cannot joke about such things.” He sat back against the wall, being carefully pulling down a loose sheet papyrus to cover a rather large scorch mark. “I will not be able to accompany you, since I will be studying the samples I collected from some undead in the mines.”

“Ohh no. You’s leavin’ us with th’ Netherborn?!” Kai let out a moan and slumped. “I hate those things.”

“And they are terrible dancers…” Sidhiel muttered, digging through her satchel. “Magus Brinc, this is for you. A friend of mine compiled a bestiary of all undead, Netherborn, constructs, or any other enemies of the material plane and was kind enough to allow me to copy the book. I hope this helps in your study.”

“Ahh…thank you.” He said, awkwardly taking the papers from her as she backed off. “Since I’m still getting some of the test tubes prepared, I’ll send you off the day after tomorrow. It’ll give you enough time to prepare for the job, right?” the sisters nodded as he handed them a few sheets of papyrus. With a hopeful smile on his face and a wave of his hand, he teleported the two sisters back out onto the same street they had been on earlier, leaving them a bit confused and sick with a terrible case of vertigo. Minutes later they stumbled back into the family home and crashed into their respective beds, asleep within moments.

Author's Note: Apologies if the next two chapters aren't as in-depth as the others. I've got some pressing things on my mind. Mostly it has to do with the fact that Richard (apparently he escaped from the LFG comic and took a vacation) is having WAAAAAAY too much fun setting fire to most of Colorado. If anyone sees him, give him a rabbit and send him back to the comic... I'm tired of him setting the forests of my favorite state on fire XD

An edited Chapter 7 will be up tonight, though it's kinda filler material since I have to worry about stuff. Sorry 'bout that. By chapter 8, things will have kicked back into gear.
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Chapter 7: Some Wounds Never Heal

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:35 pm

Chapter 7 - Some Wounds Never Heal

Sidhiel rolled out of bed (yes, literally rolled) at a rather late hour the next morning – a late hour, in her book, being somewhere around nine o’clock – and stumbled downstairs into her parent’s kitchen. Bleary-eyed and exhausted she poured herself a cup of coffee and looked around, wondering where the rest of the family was. A handwritten note on the table put her mind at ease: preparations for the centennial anniversary of Kalvan’s establishment would be occurring for the next two or three days, with the actual celebration occurring the week after. Sidhiel chuckled, knowing full well that her parents were there to be helpful as well as scout out areas to place Relthen guardsmen in case of an attack.

“Hey Kai?” she called to the ceiling, placing a few slices of bacon in the frying pan. “Kai! You want me to eat all of this bacon by myself?” There was a rather loud crash from upstairs as her sister rolled onto the floor, cursing wildly. “If you break something, clean it up before you come down!”

“I hate you so much.” Kai grumbled angrily as she stumbled down the stairs five minutes later. “Hot green tea. Now.”

“Magic word?” Sidhiel teased, deftly ducking a slipper as she finished crisping the bread and pouring the boiling water. “Here you are, your highness.”

“Shaddup.” Kai muttered through a mouthful of food, casting a withering glare towards her smirking sister. “How d’ya get up so early an’ still work through the day?” Sidhiel pointed to her coffee cup, grinning. “You have known me for the better part of eight years, Kai, and therefore you should know I am an insomniac. I need very little sleep to function.” She took another sip of her coffee and rummaged through her pack until she pulled out the instructions Rissien had given them the night before. “Here. We need to study this for tomorrow.” The two sisters retreated to the small table out in front of the house for some fresh air – though “fresh air” in a large cavern seems like a bit of a stretch – and began studying.

After an hour of study, Sidhiel’s eyes were beginning to hurt. The information he had on the Netherborn was severely lacking considering their locations and behaviors, as well as how dangerous they were. She excused herself from the table and walked inside, refilling her coffee cup for the umpteenth time as she stared blankly out the kitchen window. They had a fantastic view of Bluestone Citadel, and Sidhiel could even pick out a few of the guards marching along the balcony. Her mind drifted away to the events of the night before – the subterfuge, the underhanded work they were doing – and shuddered, wondering if what they were doing was really a good idea. But as soon as her mind drifted back to the court mage she realized it was time to begin studying again. Their story was not one she wanted to face quite yet.

She found Kai staring blankly at the back of the papyrus sheet Rissien had given them the night before, and as she looked at the sketch on the front cold shivers ran up and down her spine. “Kai?” her sister looked up, the dark circles under her eyes betraying her cheery smile. “You had another nightmare.” Kai nodded, a gloomy look replacing the bright countenance that had only moments ago adorned her face. “They haven’t gotten worse or nothin’…not even more frequent. I just…I don’ like ‘em. An’ it’s th’ same one every time! Always the field of poppies, sometimes there’re cows wanderin’ around, sometimes not, but there’s always that wall.”

“Has anything changed?” Kai averted her gaze and traced her finger along the sketch on the paper. The entire paper was styled to look like a magnificent stone wall, shaded with the charcoal that was sitting nearby. Ivy adorned the left side of the paper, but its beauty was marred by one huge fissure that ran across the bricks. Smaller cracks and chinks in the stone seemed to reach outward from the main fissure, reaching the corners of the paper where tiny tears had occurred. “Kai?”

“The cracks got bigger, Sid. When I first had these, ‘member, after you found me? The cracks were tiny. I din’t like ‘em, but it was ok because they looked like they was fadin’ away.” she sighed and turned the papyrus over. “Now sometimes I walk to the wall an’ black tendrils reach out from the cracks, shadows. They wrap ‘round my arms an’ try to drag me in, an’ there’s noises, screams – “ she stopped abruptly. “I’m scared. I don’ wanna know what’s back there, but I feel like every time I look, I’m gettin’ closer an’ closer.” She quickly inhaled and the fearful look on her face was replaced by false hope. “At least they’s gettin’ less an’ less frequent, though!”

Sidhiel mustered a smile as best she could and dropped her gaze, staring at the ring around her sister’s finger. Stephen’s death and Kai’s belief that she was unable to save him was what set the nightmares in motion for the first time in over six years. Now they were worse, no thanks to the unlikely friendship between her sister and the dangerous yet playful Ruckus…or the untimely death of Richards. Sidhiel could feel the nagging thought pulling at both their minds, the idea that they were not strong enough to save anyone they cared for. Sidhiel pushed the thought away, burying it under happy memories, but she knew Kai was unable to do so as easily, and that worried her.

“We will figure it out. Maybe Faelar has something planned to help you, Kai.” her sister smiled, nodding.

“Hey Sidney?”

“Hm?”

“How’re we gonna tackle the voltain?” Kai chuckled, grinning. She was back to her normal, playful self, and though not a word was mentioned about the nightmares for the rest of the day, Sidhiel could see the darkness and fear building up in the back of Kai’s mind.

After an attempted hour long break for lunch – it was more like two hours since the sisters happened upon a coffee and tea stand in the marketplace – and a visit with their family, the duo returned to their studies. As the hours passed, Sidhiel realized yet again that something else was bothering Kai. She would smirk occasionally and stare up at Sid, then drop her eyes and go back to studying the sheet or retying her bowstring. Finally she rolled her eyes and grumbled, glaring at her sister. “What is it?”

“Oh nothing, nothing…” Kai trailed off, grinning. “You were lookin’ fer ‘im in th’ market.”

“What?! I most certainly was not. I was simply…scouting out places to put guards. In case we fall under attack.”

“Mhmm, sure you were.” Kai replied, drawing out the word as she shoved her sister’s shoulder gently. “C’mon girl, I jus’ wanna know what’s got’cha so bothered about this Brinc guy. What’s th’ story?”

Sidhiel sighed helplessly, staring down at the review sheet. “Kai, it is something I would rather not discuss. Now drop the subject, we have much to do.”

“Sid – “

“Drop. It.” Sidhiel growled, narrowing her eyes at Kai. The latter knew that look well and shut her mouth, realizing that Sidhiel would not answer her questions any more. “So. Do we have a battle plan?”

“I’ll shoot ‘em from afar, you drag ‘em off, and we’ll take the samples. Easy as pie!” she suddenly looked up and grinned, waving as Martin, Emilia, and Dorian appeared on the end of the street. Sidhiel tousled her brother’s hair, grinning as he batted her hands away playfully before bidding them farewell and heading off down the streets. “Off t’see yer girl?” he waved Kai’s question away and punched her gently in the shoulder, skipping off down the street. “Well Sid, I’m goin’ in. Gonna write a bit ‘fore bed. Y’should get some sleep, too.”

“I am going to go take a short walk, Kai. Keep an eye on mum and dad?”

“Sure, sure. Seeya later, sis.”
The artificial glowing orbs that lit up the city began to dim, simulating what a sunset would look like on the outside. Sidhiel guessed that most of the children that roamed the streets had never even seen a sunset before, including Dorian’s girl. She wondered what he told her about, how he would explain the sound of waves lapping against the shore, the smells wafting up from the fishery in the early morning, the feel of sea spray against the skin on a cold morning. She wondered how he would describe a sunrise to her, or the feeling of sitting in the sand with someone close to you, watching the pale moon rise over the sea. With a grumble she pushed those memories to the back of her mind and shoved her hands deep into her pockets, kicking at a few loose stones on the pathway in front of her.

As she reached the town park the feeling that she was being followed suddenly surfaced and she whirled around, extending a hidden dagger from her sleeve. The young man bent backwards and threw his hands up, his eyes wide in surprise. “How long have you been following me, Mage?”

“Ah, only for a few minutes. Honest. I’m not the ‘stalking’ type.” He eyed her dagger suspiciously and put up two fingers, pushing the blade away gently, chuckling. “I see twenty years hasn’t dulled your perception.”

“Why are you here, Rissien?” she asked. “What do you want?” he motioned to a park bench nearby, nodding. With a sigh she sat down, averting her eyes and staring instead at the cracks in the stonework. “I actually didn’t think I’d find you here. I usually go for strolls in this area, though most of the time I’m up in one of those trees over there.” He said, pointing towards a clump of tall oaks in the distance. “But now that you’re here, I guess…we could talk?” she raised an eyebrow and cast a sideways glance in his direction. “Not much of a talker now, eh? Well, ah, that makes things a tad bit awkw – “

“You want to talk?!” she growled, towering over him as she stood from the bench. “Twenty years of nothing, and now you want to talk?”

“Sidhiel…” she cut him off, her eyes blazing as she jabbed a finger at his chest.

“No! You listen here. You left twenty years ago, Rissien. You left me standing alone on that beach outside of Harborwatch Keep with a promise and a hug. No! Scratch that, a broken promise! And you know what?” she gesticulated animatedly with her arms, finally heaving an exasperated sigh. “I need sleep before we go hunting tomorrow, and I would rather not talk about this now. Good evening.” She bowed curtly and left, striding down the street at a brisk pace.

She returned home and spoke with her family briefly before going up to bed, hoping to get a decent night’s sleep before their task tomorrow began. But restful sleep eluded Sidhiel as she wandered through the darker parts of her memories, knowing full well that she would have to face them sooner or later.

Author's Note: Like I said, I've been a bit distracted as of late, so these past few chapters have been exposition. Hopefully the next few chapters will be a bit more action-y...is that even a word?

IT IS NOW.

Right. Next chapters will be a bit more action-packed. That is, if I get any time to write and post them. I'll no longer have a stable internet connection, and with the remainder of the "summer family group" flying in from assorted places across North America, I doubt I'll have much time to sit down and properly write. Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging. Promise!
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Chapter 8 - Roll for Perception, Critical Fumble

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:17 am

CHAPTER 8 – ROLL FOR PERCEPTION, CRITICAL FUMBLE

The sisters left late the next morning and headed towards Bluestone Keep. They would meet Rissien there, and he would show them the way to one of the great portals. They knew full well they had to keep out of sight of the guardsmen, so Rissien had opted to provide them both with suits of armor when they arrived. He greeted them in front of the great stairs that led onto the porch of Bluestone Keep, then took them around to the opposite side of the great wall that the castle sat upon. There was another hidden wall there, like the ones in the front entryway, and they passed through it with little resistance and without raising any eyebrows.

Rissien teleported them back to the corridor they had been in the day before, but the sisters soon realized there was something very different about it. A sizeable hidden staircase had been revealed behind them, a menacing dark maw waiting to swallow up the trio. He beckoned them down the steps, smiling reassuringly as the stairway torches lit up with a snap of his finger. They cautiously followed, casting nervous looks at each other as they went further and further down the stairs.

At the base of the stairs was another corridor – albeit shorter than the one above – with a pair of gated doors at the very end. Although the corridor was brightly lit, it still gave the sisters a sense of foreboding and danger as they proceeded slowly down it, their steps echoing eerily off of the stone walls around them.

In front of the gated doors stood a tall burly man in plate mail armor with a rather long halberd, which he swung towards group as they reached him. Rissien, however, seemed to know this helmeted, armored fellow and the guard let them pass, casting suspicious looks at the two young women that followed in the mage’s steps. Kai noted the pulley system at the very top of the small room they had stepped into and realized they were in some sort of a lift…a very rickety-sounding one that felt as if it would shake itself to bits as the guard lowered them down.

For a normal person visiting this area – which of course, would never happen since it was off limits except for those above a certain position – the ride would seem to take ages. For Kai however, it took a considerably shorter amount of time. She had always liked looking at things from above, and she had heard stories about magnificent flying ships that could soar high enough for one to reach out and scoop up a handful of passing cloud. She wondered, as she stared over the edge, if this was simply a myth or if these ships actually existed and, more importantly, if she could acquire one on a tavernmaster’s salary.

Sidhiel on the other hand, was not enjoying her ride in the lift. Her eyes were closed and her breathing faster than it usually was. “Sidney! The view’s fantastic!” Kai teased, bumping her sister in the shoulder. The latter grappled for the handrail and turned pale, casting a withering glare at her sister who, in turn, simply grinned in sweet revenge. Sidhiel hated heights – often going to great lengths to avoid them – but in the unfortunate event that she was, indeed, in a high place, would turn four shades of green before finally settling on a pale blue color. Her knuckles were white as her fingers wrapped tighter and tighter around the handrail, and the thought crossed Kai’s mind that Sidhiel could probably dent the metal if she grasped it any harder.

Rissien slid the metal grated doors apart once they had reached the ground, offering a hand to a slightly swaying Sidhiel. She rejected it and regained her composure, staring at the sight ahead. In the center of the cavernous room stood three great obsidian portals, deactivated, facing each other in a u-like formation. A cold shiver ran down Kai’s spine at the sight of them, but she kept herself calm and proceeded forward. On a bench nearby sat two suits of armor as well as two other armored guards and a massive iron golem.

“Who’re they?”

“They, as well as this man here, are your army for this trip. May I introduce Q’el Adama, Kamei Mar, and Vaerk. Q’el and Kamei are two of Lord Dariak’s best personal guard, while Vaerk is a personal friend of mine.” The first two stood from their seats on the bench and extended their hands in traditional greeting, smiling warmly. Q’el was a rather short but lithe man, maybe in his mid-thirties, with brown hair and a mustache that stuck out rather comically on each side. Kamei was a woman, a bit younger than Q’el with extremely short-cut blonde hair and dark eyes, who seemed to view Q’el as more of a pun-making annoyance than a partner.

The person that caught their eye was Vaerk. He was dressed in dark red robes – better to blend in with the geology of the Nether, Kai supposed – with a hood and mouth covering that obscured the majority of his face. His eyes, eyebrows, and skin around them were exposed, revealing white hair and deep crimson eyes set deeply into grey-skinned sockets. Kai felt slightly violated when he stared at her, like he was peering into her very mind and soul.

“Ah, I should have let you know before hand: considering I work with potions, I already have ghast tears and brander rods to study, as well as magma cream from the slimes.” The sisters nodded, looks of relief coming over their faces almost in unison. “You ready?” asked Rissien, rolling up his sleeves as flames began to curl around his fingertips.

“As ready as we’ll ever be.” Kai said impatiently. “Light it up.” A ball of flame flew over their heads and hit the portal, spilling an eerie purple out onto the floor as the screeching sounds of the gate itself filled the room. Purplish goo swirled between the black walls of the portal, seeming to hypnotize the sisters. Finally Kai reached out a hand and pressed it into the swirling purple portal as she was sucked in headfirst. She was hurled forward and sent tumbling through the void while the temperature around her skyrocketed as she neared their destination. She tumbled out on the other side and rolled to regain her balance, shifting her chain armor uncomfortably. “I hate that.” she growled, sidestepping gracefully as the more heavily armored Sidhiel was spat unceremoniously out of the portal.

“As do I, but stop complaining.” She muttered, picking herself up off the ground and moving out of the way as the other four exited the portal behind them.

The Nether is not a pleasant place…but then again, this is common knowledge for all of the Dawnlanders. In place of a sky is a crimson-red void, and massive oceans of lava sear and ignite the blood-red stone that serves as the ground. Patches of flesh-colored sand ensnare the feet of unwitting adventurers, leaving them sitting kroons for the Netherborn demons that move freely through the plane. About the only good things the Nether produced were netherwart (a key ingredient in potions, as Sidhiel had learned a few months before), blaze rods, glowstone, and an inordinate amount of mushrooms. Often the costs outweighed the benefits, and judging by the disturbing abundance of bones in the area, many had been lost to the demons and other creatures of the nether.

Sidhiel’s mind momentarily flitted away Rusk and the loss of his father, Stim, to the creatures of the Nether. “Hey, Sid. Is it hotter in ‘ere than last time we visited?” she shook herself away from her thoughts and turned to Kai, shifting uneasily in agreement. “I believe we are near a den of branders, Kai. We should proceed with caution.” As if in response, the ground below them heaved a great sigh, spitting magma out of a crack in the rocks nearby and hurling a few sizeable boulders off of the cliff towards them. They hugged the overhang and crouched down, peering around the corner warily. “Well look at that. Branders. Do you think we can sneak past them?” Kai shrugged, looking up.

“Well we can’t really scale the cliff face…how’s about we go the other way?” Sidhiel nodded and the group crept off as silently as they could. They could hear the slapping sounds of magma cubes in a cavern far below them – compared to other Netherborn, they were rather loud creatures – and the occasional cry of a ghast from far across the cavern. Before long they stumbled across a lone zombie pigman, separated from its “herd” (question is, can you call it a “herd”? or is it a “group”? This is a troubling thought for the sisters) and took cover behind a rather small netherrack outcropping. An ignitit and a dretch seemed to be harassing the pigman, pushing it closer and closer to the river of lava while dangling its sword inches before its face. They could see the herd on the other side milling about excitedly at the edge of the lava, oinking angrily.

“Q’el, how good’re ya with that crossbow?” Kai whispered, nudging the man beside her. He loaded up the bow with a bolt and aimed, waiting for the command to fire, grinning just slightly. A meaty “thuck” was heard as the pigman pitched forward, an arrow buried in the back of its neck, just at the base of the skull. Kai applauded proudly, returning a Q’el’s grin as she slapped him on the shoulder. The herd nearby became more and more agitated as the two other Netherborn looked around – sometimes directly at their attackers – utterly befuddled and confused. “They can’t – “

“See us? No. Group chameleon spell.” Said an unsettling gravelly voice from behind them. Kai and Sidhiel, as they walked, had struck up conversations with Q’el and Kamei, but any attempts to communicate with Vaerk were met with eerie silence. It startled the entire group to hear him speak.

As Kai and Q’el took out the two other Netherborn, Sidhiel and Kamei began readying their swords for another attack, discussing plans of attack that would keep them well out of the way of the zombie pigmen’s weapons, who had since begun advancing towards the body of their dead herd member. Their snorting calls had become more frantic and frequent, and Kai almost felt sorry for them as they began to wading across the fiery river. Suddenly, a humanoid figure appeared behind the rest of the herd, waving its arms and shouting in an unintelligible language as the zombie pigmen turned and gave chase across the Netherrack outcroppings. “It is simply a conjuration.” Vaerk stated, watching the herd with cold eyes as they rushed away. “Now go collect your samples.”

The five moved across the terrain of the Nether rather slowly, due to the lumbering iron golem that accompanied them. It finally came in handy when the group was ambushed by a lone causenic, its armor plating unaffected by the Netherborn’s fiery attacks. Maybe not completely unaffected, Kai noted as she spied a melted hole in its chest armor. Kamei also proved useful – more than just a sword-wielding bodyguard – when she lured a resait far away from its companions and towards her own. They were still gathering skin samples from the resait when they heard a rhythmic rumbling noise in the distance and stood, surveying the area.

“What was that?”

“Probably just a magma flow bursting, Kamei.” Sidhiel muttered, stepping a ways away from the resait’s body. “I doubt it was anything serious. Now we have two more Netherborn to acquire samples from, and unfortunately they are the worst.”

“Which are…?” Q’el asked, prompting Sidhiel to continue with a motion of his hand.

“A haerteon and a voltain. The first is extremely magic-resistant but makes up for it in armor and difficulty to kill. The latter is the most magically talented of all of the Netherborn…and is also rather difficult to kill.

“Where’d you learn all of this?” Kamei asked, eyes still locked on the direction the rumbling came from.

“Experience and plenty of reading.” She replied matter-of-factly. “Mostly experi – “ the rhythmic rumbling suddenly became a pounding noise, growing louder and louder as the seconds passed. Then, from out of nowhere a massive hammer broadsided Sidhiel, sending her cartwheeling backwards until her right side slammed into a Netherrack outcropping nearby. She fell to the ground in a crumpled heap, unconscious, an elf-sized dent in the rock face behind her. In her place stood a massive armored humanoid, nearly eight feet tall wielding a steel warhammer and a nasty attitude.

“Duck!” Kai yelled, letting fly an arrow from her bow. It struck the creature squarely in the shoulder while a crossbow bolt planted itself deeply into its abdominal armor, between one of the articulating joints. It let out a metallic screeching noise and barreled through the group, swinging its weapon wildly from side to side. It caught Vaerk with a glancing blow and rolled him backwards across the gravel until he slid to a stop at the base of a massive boulder. Kai quickly coordinated the attacks as best as she could, sending Q’el around in a flanking maneuver to draw the haerteon’s attention away from Kamei as she sliced the creature from behind with her broadsword.

In the end it was Q’el that dealt the final blow – a crossbow bolt directly through the creature’s right eye. It grasped blindly at the shaft for a few moments before finally falling heavily forward, denting the rock underneath it with its weight. The group barely had time to pause before a flash of bluish-white lightning struck the ground in front of them, sparking fires all around them. “Take cover!” Kamei cried, dodging a large icicle as it shattered on the ground behind her. Hollow, distorted laughter came from the robed figure floating towards them wreathed in green flame. Kai managed to fire off a pair of shots at the voltain’s body, though only one hit, drawing its attention towards her as she stumbled towards the boulder where Vaerk was sitting, still dazed.

“Hey! Wake up!” she cried, shaking him. “Oh for the love of – “ she dealt him a swift slap across the face, which woke him up in an instant. A ball of fire streaked towards them as well as Kamei, nearly setting them alight as it exploded nearby. Green fire flew from the voltain’s hands as it cornered the rest of the group, only its spike-toothed grin visible under its shadowed hood.


“Die humans.”




Author's Note: Oh dear. Well. Apparently the internet that I was counting on piggybacking off of is...well...nonexistent. *sadface* My sincerest apologies for not posting sooner, but it was kind of difficult to get over to the coffeehouse while keeping an eye on three younger cousins >.>
I've no idea when chapter 9 will be up, maybe tomorrow morning (if I get up early enough), but if not...ah...hehehee yeah. Bad planning on AJ's part >.>

Well, enough rambling. AJ AWAYYYYYY!!!! *smashes into a pine tree* Hmm. Maybe I'll just walk.
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Chapter 9 - Of Magic and Murder

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:47 am

CHAPTER 9 – OF MAGIC AND MURDER


Sidhiel faded in and out of consciousness, watching the battle unfold before her as she sat helpless against a cliff face. White-hot pain seared her entire right side, and she could tell just by breathing that at least one rib was broken. The chainmail on her arms had dug into her skin, bruising and cutting it when she had slammed into the wall behind her. A cloaked figure levitated five feet or more off the ground, a column of crimson flame surging from its open hands, exploding as it hit an invisible bubble surrounding Kai and another figure. An crossbow bolt in the shoulder from Q’el changed the direction of the column long enough for Vaerk to mount his counterattack.

A raging stream of green fire leapt from his right hand and ignited the voltain as it let out an unearthly screech, attempting to retaliate with its own magic. A swirling ball of black and purple materialized in Vaerk’s other hand as he hurled it towards the voltain, striking the creature directly in the chest. An explosion of purple, black, and green lit the area briefly before falling eerily silent. The voltain dropped to the ground, a massive hole blown in its chest, and as Sidhiel’s vision finally failed she saw Vaerk deal a swift and rage-filled kick to the Netherborn’s face, grimacing angrily. Finally her vision faded to black, and she was swept away into unconsciousness on waves of pain.

Sidhiel had always hated being in hospitals of any kind. Not because she hated the people within them – i.e doctors, nurses, injured or sick people, the like – but because she hated the feeling of being useless and weak. The on-the-go type of medicine practiced in the Dawnlands was a welcome respite for her, and allowed her to continue with her duties unimpeded by, number one, her injuries and, number two, people wanting her to “rest”.

Unfortunately, in Kalvan, that was not the case.

The first thing Sidhiel saw when she forced her eyes open was her entire family – and from what she could see out in the hall, quite a few Relthen refugees – Rissien, and Vaerk (as was customary to him, he was standing in the darkest corner of the room which, for a hospital, was not much darker than, say, a cloudy day outside). She immediately flung the covers off and did her best to get out of bed, waving off her family’s attempts to lay her back down. They told her she had been out for nearly a day and that she still needed rest.

“I am fine, see!” she said, forcing a grin that looked too much like a grimace. Kai caught it, as usual, and called Sidhiel out on it, receiving a dirty look moments later. Granted, Sidhiel’s entire right side felt like someone had lit it on fire, she felt as if an elephant was taking a leisurely break on her chest, and her right arm was in a sling, but if she could fake feeling “fine” long enough to get out of the clinic, she could recover much faster at home. Her parents shooed as many onlookers as they could out of the clinic while doing their best to keep Sidhiel confined to her clinic room and her bed, but it was in vain, since Sidhiel slipped out behind the crowd.

“Sidhiel, has anyone told you lately that you’s an idiot?” Kai asked once the group had made it home.

“My dear sister, if you had five gold pieces for anytime you told anyone, not just myself, that, you would be the richest woman in the world.” Sidhiel sat awkwardly on their couch in a sleeveless top, leaning against the back of the couch on her uninjured side. Her bandaged right arm and shoulder sat limply in her lap, while she did her best to shift positions and keep as much weight off of her cracked ribs as she could. Even with plate armor, the hammer had done a great deal of damage. “Besides Kai, I am just fine. A bit pained, but just fine.”

“You’s an idiot!” Kai grumbled, pacing. “If y’keep doin’ this, you’ll get yerself killed!”

“I am much too graceful for that, little sister.”

“Says the woman with the busted ribs, cut up arm, and a concussion.” Kai said with an exasperated laugh.

“For once I agree with your sister.” Her father said, emerging from the kitchen with a few cold towels. “You are much too hard on your mind and body. So, for the next three days, you’re grounded.” Sidhiel sat up, gasping in shock as well as in pain as her ribs grated.

“Ada!” he held up a finger, unwilling to listen.

“You may be half a foot taller than me, more graceful than me, and much more independent than you were when I first met you, but you are my daughter, and you answer to me when you are in my house.” Sidhiel leaned back and crossed her arms, grimacing as the cold towels were laid against her injured limb. “You will stay here until you are recovered enough to return to duty.” She attempted to protest but was ultimately unsuccessful and sullenly sat back on the couch, grumbling. Her father was right, she needed time to heal, but she was not fond of simply sitting around while there was work to be done.

For the next three days she made it her priority to sneak as many healing potions as she could from the nearby tavern to her home without being caught, and for the most part, she was successful. Once or twice Rissien and Vaerk stopped by to check in on the family as well as her, though for the most part she slept through those times and missed their arrivals. When she did finally catch sight of them, the greeting was awkward and stilted, ending in an awkward parting bow or handshake, or both.

By the time the fourth day of her “grounding” had rolled around, she realized the pain in her side was completely gone as well as the bruising, and her arm was well enough to use again. “I can actually bend over without hearing my ribs crack.” She said, patting her side confidently. “I am feeling much better.” Emilia and Martin, though they looked less than convinced, had no choice but to let her out of the house and allow her to move about on her own accord. Kai had decided to spend much of the past two days with Dorian, touring Kalvan as her sister sat back and recovered. Seeing the two of them reunited had brought Sidhiel peace of mind: the darkness within Kai’s own mind had begun to recede along with the nightmares. She was beginning to heal, slowly but surely.

It wasn’t even four hours after Sidhiel left her house that she was approached by a slightly limping elf on the streets. Once he lifted his head she recognized him as Theodore Markova, the one who had allowed them to speak to Jaric when they visited the jail. Though he waved at her, he looked pale and nervous, glancing about awkwardly as they stopped in the road. “Is…is there a safe place to talk?” he whispered, his voice anxious and shaky. She nodded and let him into the house, sitting him down in one of the chairs as she made some coffee and tea for the family. He eyed them suspiciously, but once he realized they were on his side he relaxed, sipping his tea as calmly as he could.

“How’s th’ leg?” asked Kai, pulling up a chair. He patted it and nodded with a forced smile, halfway through a gulp of tea. “Gees Sidney, did’ja give ‘im a shot of that Eccavian brandy? The kid looks like he’s about to fall over!” Theo leaned forward on the table, folding his hands in front of him as he stared at the wood.

“When the undead had quieted down in Eastmine, some of the guard went back and gathered up some of the evidence. We found some untouched samples along the walls that’d been blown away from the majority of the undead, and we delivered those to Alena to give to Magus Brinc for evaluation.” He leaned in even closer and the rest of the family followed, now very interested. “One of the castle guards heard it was positive for gunpowder, like you said, with traces of negative energy. But somewhere between Magus Brinc’s office and Alena’s office the evidence was ‘lost’. I’m not buying it. Someone took that evidence.”

Sidhiel sat back, cocking her head slightly to the side. “What proof do you have of this?” Theo shuffled uncomfortably in his seat. “You have no proof. Then how do you know the evidence was taken?”

“It’s just a gut feeling, ya know? Something feels…wrong about everything. One of our own guys saw Careth sneaking around the castle late one night, and we think he might have somethin’ to do with it.” Sidhiel let out a pained sigh and put her forehead in her hand, shaking her head.

“Seriously? We’ve gotta talk ta that guy again?!” Kai asked, incredulously.

“What happened with him?”

“He put the moves on Sidney, Emilia…and she knocked him out.” Kai chuckled. “Actually, it was kinda funny.” Her laugh was cut short as Sidhiel shot Kai a withering glare.

“That’s my girl.” Martin added, grinning. he received the same glare from Sidhiel as Kai did, but appeared impervious to it. “So Mr. Markova, what is your plan, exactly?”

“I’m going down to confront Careth, and these two are the only two that I know that couldn’t be traitors. They’re the only two that cared about Jaric, the only two that even remotely cared about this new threat we’re facing. I’d…” he trailed off, his eyes pleading. “I’d just like a bit of backup?”

the original trip to the mines had taken the sisters about thirty minutes. Considering their current mission, the two of them shortened the time by half, allowing time for Theo to catch up with them as they made their way forward. In all actuality, Sidhiel was the one who waited the most, her long legs carrying her forward much faster than her two comrades. They realized something was wrong the moment they reached the door to Careth’s house. Sidhiel drew her falchion and held it at the ready, taking point as she opened the creaky door and stepped inside. The lights were extinguished and no sound came from the room save for the constant dripping of a leaky sink from the kitchen nearby.

“Anyone bring a torch?” Kai asked, feeling along the walls for any kind of lamp or light source.

“Unfortunately no.” Sidhiel muttered, patting Theo reassuringly on the shoulder as he shivered slightly. “Fan out, find a light. There was one on his desk, as I recall.”

As Sidhiel made her way towards the desk she heard Theo mutter something about a leaky hole in the floor above them as he felt around blindly in the darkness. Finally her hands found a small switch and flicked it on, casting an ugly yellow glow around the room. She turned around, eyes adjusting to the darkness as the light flickered behind her. suddenly she gagged, recovering quickly. “Oh gods.” she muttered. “Theodore, do not look up.”

Often times, telling an adult to “not do that!” gives a result similar to if you told a child the exact same statement – i.e, they do exactly what you told them not to do. Sidhiel had learned this after years of living with a younger brother, but that thought momentarily escaped her when she saw the ever-spreading pool of blood on the floor. The moment Theo looked up Sidhiel knew what was going to happen. He let out a whimpering gasp and stumbled backwards, realizing the “water” dripping from the ceiling was something much, much more sinister. He dry-heaved a few times before Kai caught him, shielding his eyes as they moved towards a darker corner of the room.

The shaft of a halberd stuck out of Careth’s chest and into the wood above, pinning the body of the former overseer to the ceiling. His arms and body hung down limply, jackknifed around the halberd in a painful position – well, painful if he could’ve felt anything. From Sidhiel’s position she could see his throat had been cut savagely, the knife laying at the edge of the blood pool. She knelt down and reached out a hand towards it, stopping herself before she actually touched it.

“I think we can rule out Careth as the mole.“ muttered Kai, leaving Theodore to recover in the corner. “Who’d do this?”

“Who indeed.” Answered a voice from the doorway. Light poured out from handheld lanterns, illuminating the blood pool, body, and the three intruders. Alena nodded to the other guards, who advanced towards the group. “Theodore Markova, Sidhiel and Kai Antonius. You are under arrest for suspicious activity in and around crime scenes, trespassing on a crime scene proper, and possibly murdering the man formerly known as Careth Avik.” She waved her hand nonchalantly and turned towards the door. “Take them to the cells and clean this up. We’ve a homicide on our hands, boys.”

Author's Note: So starting...tomorrow? I'll have actual internet! I'll be able to...ah...do stuff. Like surf Youtube again and play Minecraft, etc. etc. It'll also be nice not having to worry about being engulfed in flames. Man, I shoulda remembered to give Richard a bunny before I left Texas...
Anyways, I hope everyone's summer's been good so far, I know mine has. Who knows, maybe I'll write a little about that. Probably not. Eh, who knows. Anywho, next chapter up tomorrow night. Maybe two chapters! We're also winding down and getting closer to the end. Thanks for your continued support guys, and I hope you've enjoyed the story thus far. :D


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Chapter 10 - Oh Well This is Fantastic

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:48 am

CHAPTER 10 – OH WELL THIS IS FANTASTIC.

Waking up and finding yourself in a jail cell with no knowledge of who you are, where you are, or what you did to end up in said cell is a terrible feeling. A worse feeling is knowing who you are, where you are, why you are in said cell, and being able to do absolutely nothing about it. This was the general feeling between the three people who sat within the walls of a Kalvan jail cell awaiting trial for a crime they had not committed. They had been there only for a few hours, but it was long enough to make all three of them, especially Kai, anxious. She paced around the cell, occasionally pausing to kick the wall or huff exasperatedly while peering out of the bars.

“This sucks.” She muttered, sitting on the cot next to her unresponsive sister. Theodore was just as unresponsive, though this was more out of embarrassment and fright than thoughtfulness. “So what now?”

“We wait, Kai. There is nothing more we can do at the moment.”

“Oh come on! Can’t’cha break down th’ door or make the guard give us th’ key or somethin’! C’mon!” Sidhiel rolled her eyes and stood, making her way over to the barred window on the door.

“Ms. Antonius?” came a voice from across the room. “Is that…”

“Oh. Hey Jaric.” Sidhiel said, looking awkwardly around at her surroundings. “It appears we are all in the same boat, friend.” Jaric stared at her through the bars, obviously shocked to see them there. “What’d you do?”

“Right place, wrong time.” Kai muttered, shoving her sister over. “Seen th’ guard?” he shook his head. “Lazy McHangover was called out about an hour ago, didn’t you notice?”

“I spent the last two hours counting holes in the bricks.” Kai said. “I managed to count 140 on one block, and if there are about 40 bricks in the room…” she trailed off, mumbling strings of numbers as she returned to pace the room.

“Do you know why he was called away?” Jaric shook his head, responding with a worried look. “They were speaking in hushed voices, and left about an hour ago. Since then I’ve heard nothing from them.” Sidhiel frowned as paranoid thoughts whirled through her head. Why would they have left? Was something going on topside?

As if on cue, the ground above them shook, spraying bits of plaster and gravel down on top of their heads. Sidhiel looked back into the room, shrugging at the worried looks her companions gave her. She called to memory an ice spell she had learned long ago, casting it at the lock on the door. Nothing. “Well?”

“Not powerful enough. I am better with a sword than with magic…” an idea crept into her head, and she grinned. “Hold on, I have an idea.” Kai realized what she was doing the moment Sidhiel sat cross-legged on the floor. Usually, when her sister performed a link, she would be standing outside with her feet buried in the sand. But, when all else failed, a cross-legged position on the floor did just as well. Sidhiel’s eyes began to gently glow copper as she searched through the flurry of minds in Kalvan.

She calmly remembered the less-than-familiar western residential district, which seemed smudged and dimmed as she floated through the streets. She could piece together where people were, their shadowy bodies outlined with a dim copper glow as they wandered the streets going about their daily lives. She searched through houses and minds alike until she focused in on the one she needed, a blazing copper beacon of hope in her dimmed surroundings.

“Mason?” she called. “I need to borrow your eyes.”

“Sight?” spoke a childlike voice. “Fly where?”

“Did you feel the shake?” the voice replied in the affirmative. “Ok. I need you to fly around just for a little while.” Another tremor, this time much more powerful, nearly rocked Sidhiel out of her link. Kai managed to steady her sister with Theo’s help, who stared at Sidhiel with a look of confused fear painting his face.

For a carrier dove, Mason had extremely good eyesight. Granted, it was black-and-white, and slightly grainy compared to the vision humanoids experienced, but it was good nonetheless. Sidhiel couldn’t see the looks of shock and fear on the faces of the people below, but she knew enough about body language to read the feelings of the cityfolk just by watching them. As Mason soared across the rooftops she had him survey the area, watching for any signs of true panic in the people below.

“Mason, do you know where the mines are?”

“Mines? For shinies, yes?”

“Yes, that is what they are. Do you know where they are?” he replied with a curt no. “I need you to get down to street level near the inn, please. I can guide you from there.” He dropped hastily towards the ground, weaving in between people as they moved through the streets. Mason lit upon a lamppost near the inn and looked each way down the street, awaiting her instructions. “Turn left. Go until you reach the fourth torch, then turn right. Go all the way to the cathedral, turn left, and you will see the stairway to the mines.”

Mason made quick time of the journey, using his speed and maneuverability to cut the travelling time by more than half. He felt the walls around him shake as he dove down the stairs, swerving just in time to miss a chunk of masonry from the ceiling. “Not good?” he asked.

“Definitely not. What is that?!” He perched on the roof of the miners barracks, watching the people below. About ten guards stood at the mouth of Eastmine, working recklessly to patch up a hole blown up in the wall next to it. a few stood back, firing crossbow bolts into the gap over the shoulders of their comrades. Another ten guards were split between the other two mining tunnels, boarding up the doors and preparing themselves for an attack.

Another explosion rocked the room, sending bits of debris raining down from the ceiling upon the guards, knocking quite a few back. Suddenly the guards began to peel away from the entrance to Eastmine, stumbling backwards over each other in fear as they regrouped near Careth’s home. One unfortunate man didn’t move away fast enough as a massive explosion ripped through the wall, spewing rock and bits of ore at the defenders.

Unearthly sounds reverberated across the cavern walls as hordes of skeletons and zombies poured out of the wound in the mountain, stumbling mindlessly towards the terrified guards. A few of the guards tried to stand and fight but were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of undead. Others did their best to usher out the miners, rolling bits of debris at the undead in the hopes of slowing them down. A wall of flame sprung up in front of the undead, stopping most of them in their tracks. A hooded figure in dark robes motioned animatedly for the guards and miners to move, renewing the flame with a burst of energy once the mass of people started moving again.

“Mason, gather as many of the Relthen guards as you can and lead them down here.” Sidhiel said, breaking her link with the dove as she collapsed back against the wall.

“What’s up?”

“The undead have broken through Eastmine and are heading towards the city. That fellow, Vaerk I think, has bought us some time, but not much. Work with Theo on getting that door open. I need to contact someone.”

*********

Rissien Brinc had felt the tremors in the earth long before either of the sisters had, but his mind was otherwise occupied. He had no knowledge of Careth’s death, or of the imprisonment of his friends, or even the hordes of undead massing behind the walls of Eastmine. He sat at his desk, his hands and vest covered in charcoal, his hair an uncombed mess. He took a drink out of his mug and spluttered, spewing cold coffee across the swathes of paper in front of him. He did his best to wipe off the liquid without smudging the spells and managed to succeed, though his previously white sleeves were now stained a brownish-black color.

He groaned and stood, teleporting himself into the throne room as the third tremor shook the ground. Lord Dariak was nowhere to be found, a common occurrence as of recent times, but as Rissien stared down the corridor he caught a glimpse of Captain Alena pacing at the end of the hall. “Captain!” he called, waving his hand. she turned and strode towards him, looking worried. “What’s happening?”

“We discovered the body of Careth Avik about two hours ago, before the tremors began.”

“Body?!” Alena relayed the story to him, ending with the arrests of Theodore and the Antonius sisters. “You arrested them?! Why? They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time – “

“I understand that, Magus Brinc, I do. But we have no idea whether or not they’re involved in the resurgence of undead in Kalvan. I have to be sure.” He growled, exasperated, and began to pace the floor. “I know you’re not happy about it, but if I can question them – “

“Are you going to question them? Or will you just use Vaerk, huh? His spells have helped you put away a lot of criminals lately.” Alena visibly stiffened, glowering at the mage. “Oh, you were planning that, were you? Well I can tell you from experience that the sisters are AGH!” Pain surged through his head, ricocheting around inside his brain until it finally settled somewhere near his ears. He knew Alena was speaking to him, asking him what happened, but he could hear nothing over the voice in his head.

“Rissien.” The voice breathed, disembodied but distinctly female…and familiar. “The mines…” suddenly all went quiet and the headache disappeared, leaving him confused and a bit frightened.

“Captain, I believe we’re needed at the mines. Now.”


Author's Note: Well hey again everyone! I am now in an area that has a stable internet connection! And, AND I'm in a state that's not completely ablaze! :D
I'm sorry. Jokes like that should not be made. My heart lies in Colorado, and honestly, I hate seeing the state I love the most burn.
Let's see, I've got...five more chapters to post after this one? Yep, that's it (AJ can totally count). You'll also get two chapters tonight, though I'll post the next one in about an hour or two. Uhm...well...ah...ok, nothing else to say. Mindless rambling will not commence.

Also, props to anyone who can guess the joke in the first paragraph.


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Chapter 11 - Antimony Would've Enjoyed This!

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:23 am

CHAPTER 11 – “ANTIMONY WOULD’VE ENJOYED THIS!”

Ten minutes was the length of time it took for nearly thirty men and women to storm the guard house, release the prisoners, and head towards the mines. Most wore simple chain armor, but all were armed with weapons of every kind, from poleaxes and halberds to swords and longbows. The entirety of the Antonius family – minus Dorian, of course. He had been convinced by Kai to help the miners instead – was at the head of the army as it marched towards the horde. A few Kalvan guards were absorbed into the ironclad mass of bodies, increasing the defense force to about fifty people.

An eerie greenish glow greeted their eyes as they reached the bottom of the steps. The wall of flame was still up, though it was diminished in size greatly from what it had once been. A hooded man clad in crimson robes stood before it, kneeling on the ground in exhaustion. A tall man in trousers, a vest, and a dirtied white shirt stood beside him, adding what little power he could to the wall of flame.

“Kai and Emmy, get the archers together and stay out of the way. Aim for the skeletons and NECs as best as you can, keep them away from us. Blue and I will take the main front and relieve these two.” Sidhiel had already rushed towards the two men at the wall of flame.

“The miners are out! Put the wall down!” she yelled over the roaring flames.

“What?” Rissien yelled back. “Sidhiel?! What the Nether are you doin' here?”

“Giving you backup! Now pull the wall down and let Vaerk take a break!”

“Talk to him about that, not me!” Vaerk was unresponsive when Sidhiel spoke to him, staring at the fiery barricade in a comatose state. She rolled her eyes and called over two of her own guards.

“Kelvin and Murn, I am going to knock this man out. I need you to carry him as far away from here as you can, do you understand me?” they nodded affirmatively, readying themselves for the next move. She remembered they had always been willing and loyal guards, and fantastic travelling companions when she did her evening patrols on the outskirts of Relthen. With these thoughts to boost her confidence, she grimaced and touched Vaerk gently on the forehead, copper rings rippling out from where she touched him. To her surprise, he turned his head and stared at her, his eyes glowing a very dim copper color before he fell back unconscious.

All hell broke loose when the wall went down. Zombies and skeletons rushed forward now accompanied by spiders and slimes as the two sides clashed with an unearthly din. Sidhiel cut down three zombies in one swing, narrowly dodging an arrow from a skeleton’s bow as it fired at her from point-blank range. It suddenly froze in place and shattered, melting into small puddles of water on the floor. “Look out!” she ducked as a wall of fire flew over her, singing the hairs on the top of her head. The zombies behind her were vaporized instantly, while a few others farther back writhed and looked for water to extinguish themselves.

"Watch where you throw that fire!" she yelled, annoyed. She cut down a few more zombies but was mobbed by a horde of spiders. “Antimony would have enjoyed this.” She said to herself, her sword slicing through a pair of tiny slimes, recalling Kai's story about the first time she met the fellow.

“Who?” yelled a voice from nearby as a larger slime exploded into flames. She swung the sword over Rissien’s head, beheading an advancing skeleton as he flamed a pair of spiders behind her.

“A friend of mine in New Cerberus! He would have loved this!”

“Killing undead?!” Rissien yelled, confused at the notion.

“He is a bit odd!” she yelled back, smashing a skeleton in the face with the pommel of her falchion as she ducked out of the way of Rissien’s conjured throwing knives. "What did I tell you about watching where you throw things?!"

“Don't blame me! You're the one in the way!" he yelled back.

"You were always a terrible shot!" she replied, ducking a skeletal soldier's sword as she kicked it's legs out from under it.

"Do you ever get bored of this?” he asked, hurling a spider at a group of advancing skeletons with a telekinesis spell.

“Not really! There is always something to keep you on your toes!” she said, spinning around to behead a NEC before it exploded. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed that Kelvin and Murn had managed to drag Vaerk up the steps, disappearing around the bend in the road. She smiled and punched a zombie in the face, whirling around to finish it off before it could bite her.

“Hey!” Rissien yelled, conjuring a bow in his hand and firing off a pair of arrows at another NEC. “Are you still pissed at me?” she ignored him, fending off a rather large slime instead. “’Cause, you know, I’ve every right to be pissed at you, too!”

She rammed her falchion through two zombies and avoided another volley of arrows, this time from her own people. The horde didn’t seem to be dwindling in any way as the battle continued. “You have every right to be angry with me? I was not the one who – “ she ducked back from a guard’s halberd, giving Alena a thumbs up as she skewered a skeleton. “Broke his promise!”

“I broke my promise?!” he cried, fireballing a group of undead and a NEC. “I broke my promise? What about you? You never held up your end of the bargain!” They ended up back to back, ducking around each other to wound their attackers.

“You never wrote me so I could write you back!” she cried, kicking in a zombie’s face angrily.

“I never – “ he sent a frostball flying, dangerously close to hitting her as it froze a group of NECs in place. they were easily shattered by the nearby guards. “I never sent you any letters?!” he smacked a zombie in the face with his staff as bolts of electricity arced across the crystal. “I sent you a letter every other week for two months! You never wrote back!” she growled angrily and ducked away from an undead soldier.

“Yeah?! Well I never got those letters!” she yelled, smashing the soldier in the face. “Twenty years, Rissien, not one single letter!” they whirled around to face each other, Sidhiel’s sword sticking into the head of a zombie as Rissien’s staff shocked a group of three more behind her.

“You never got them?” she shook her head, slicing an advancing slime. “We weren’t allowed to send mail of our own, except if it was official business. So I – “ he finished off the smaller slimes with a conjured group of throwing axes. “I gave them to father.” Sidhiel whirled away into the thick of the battle, taking out two spiders with her blade. “You don’t think – “ she cut him abruptly, a slight smile on her face. “Your parents never liked me! Said I was a bad influence on a sickly boy like yourself!”

“That’s some accusation you’re making there!” he glanced around wildly. The entire cavern was littered with the bodies of the undead, some still attempting to crawl towards and fight the barely-injured guards.

“Well then ask him yourself!” she replied curtly, dancing around a group of spiders gracefully.

“I can’t!” she looked at him confusedly before running her falchion through one of the spiders. “He’s dead. About six months ago.” She looked genuinely shocked and made her way over to Rissien, dodging arrows and groping hands along the way.

“I am sorry, Rissien. I had no idea…”

“Not your fault, not mine either. He was found in a pool of his own blood in his office. Alena called it a homicide, but switched it to suicide. She wasn’t convinced, but she had to because it came from the ‘higher ups’.”

“That does not sound at all sketchy!” Sidhiel replied sarcastically.

“I thought the same thing! But when I tried to pursue any leads, they were blocked off! I still don’t – LOOK OUT!” an armored NEC appeared behind them, its head much like the one mounted above the fireplace in Kai’s tavern. Rissien managed to conjure up a shield just before it exploded. a massive explosion ripped through the cavern, blowing bits of rock, gravel, and ores sky high. Kai, from her position near the miner’s barracks, could see bodies of guards and undead alike hurled through the air, smashing painfully into the walls or other humanoids who ran to escape the blast.

Sidhiel and Rissien were thrown backward several feet, rolling to a lurching stop beside a sliced-up spider. Sidhiel’s ears rang with the impact, and everything seemed dulled and muted from the blast. Rissien lay on the ground next to her, grimacing. “Rissien!”

“Ellie we…we gotta cl…close that shaft…”

“Can you cause a collapse?” he nodded weakly, a ball of bluish flame materializing in his hand as she helped him up. It began to grow in intensity as she fought off the undead around him, sending out telepathic signals to all the guards telling them to fall back. A massive ball of blue fire suddenly blazed through the undead horde, leveling anything in its path as it rolled towards the hole in the mountain. The explosion rocked the cavern and more rock rained down upon their heads as the mineshaft began to collapse in on itself, throwing up tons of dust and debris.

It took the army less than ten minutes to finish off the rest of the undead in the area, but they knew it would take considerably longer to clean up the mess left behind. Bodies littered the floor as black, rancid blood ran in rivulets across the stone, leaving behind a horrid stench. Rissien sat on a piece of fallen masonry, cradling his arm as Sidhiel slumped down next to him. “Your arm?”

“It’s fine. What the hell was that thing?”

“It was a negative energy ravager. Worse’n th’ creeper by about ten times, armored, an’ ugly.” Kai grinned proudly, appearing behind them. “One o’ my friends killed one an’ lemme stick its head on th’ wall of th’ tavern!”

“Already mounting trophies? You’ll have to let us visit and see them sometime.” Martin said, striding up with Emilia. “Are they dead?”

“I used a specialized spell. It explodes on contact with any undead, and will spontaneously combust any others in the area. So yeah, I’d say most, if not all of them, are dead. Just don’t open Eastmine anytime soon…the stench’ll be unbearable.” Rissien said. Alena approached the group, kicking a spider in the face as she stumbled around for a suitable standing area.

“So what happens now?” Sidhiel asked, shifting uneasily.

“We find out who blew the hole in Eastmine.” Theo said, standing next to Alena. “Sorry for locking you in a jail cell, hon.” Alena leaned in and gave Theo a kiss.

“Just part of the plan, Allie. I’m not insulted.” He chuckled, returning Alena’s kiss.

“That explains the name similarity.” Sidhiel said. “You had to make sure we were not spies or undead?”

“Basically. There’s someone in Kalvan that’s been causing all of…this…but we can’t figure out whom. Either he’s really elusive and hard to catch, or he’s really unobtrusive and trustworthy. We’re not sure. We had to make sure you were really ‘good guys’ before giving you all the information.”

“Well then, do you mind on filling us in fully?”

“Yes, but for that we will need Lord Dariak’s help and – well look who it is.” a breathless Kamei rushed up to them as best as she could, tripping over bodies as she went along. “Kamei! You missed quite the party!”

“Shut up Allie. I’ve bad news. Lord Dariak’s gone missing.”



Author's Note: The Antimony joke the title refers to comes from an RP session we had a while back with a character of the same name. It involved a crapload of spiders and was rather entertaining. I think Animus probably remembers it :P

I've also noticed something: casual conversation can be made much more interesting when you throw a few undead in the mix. It's much more exciting that way, am I right?


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Chapter 12 - Well Now We've Got a Plan...Right?

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:57 am

CHAPTER 12 – WELL NOW WE’VE GOT A PLAN…RIGHT?

Alena, Theodore, Rissien, and Kamei made their way back to Bluestone Keep, leaving the Antonius family and the Relthen Guard to clean up the mess in the mines. Granted, none of them were really happy about the current chain of events, but the sisters and their “army” knew they were needed in the mines. Half of the able-bodied guards were sent to pick up the wounded and get them to the clinic. Mason observed the parade of bloodied and battered soldiers wandering the streets, along with a quarter of the Kalvan populace (and the entirety of the Relthen populace), appalled by the sheer number of injured.

The other half began the job of cleaning up the deceased, a gruesome and heartbreaking job for all. “Relthen and Kalvan guards!” Martin called, gaining their attention. “This will not be easy for any of us, and I am sorry we have been left with this task.” He cleared his throat and continued. “The undead – skeletons, spiders, zombies, and otherwise – will be separated into piles six feet tall or so. Set them ablaze as you go along –“ a roar of voices came from the Kalvan guards. “We do this so they can finally be at peace!” he replied. “If any bodies of our comrades are discovered, pull them to the side and cover them as best as you can. We will check the roster, and will call down the families of the missing parents once we move them to the morgue.”

Kai appeared at Sidhiel’s side, deathly pale and looking very out of her element. “So where do I – “

“Kai, go work with mum.” Sidhiel said, cutting her sister off. Kai began to protest, but Sidhiel shut her up with the a look Kai had coined ‘the older sister glare’. “You can be more helpful in the clinic with mum and Dorian. Go.” Kai turned and shuffled out of the room, feelings of relief washing over her as she bounded up the steps. Sidhiel turned her gaze back towards the mines and sighed heavily.

Apparently word had reached the people of Kalvan, who flocked to the mines to lend a hand in separating the bodies. Occasionally cries of shock and grief would reverberate across the cavern as a person discovered one of their loved ones. “Another name accounted for.” Sidhiel thought grimly, her heart twisting with each echoing sob. Through all of this the sounds of cracking bones and the smell of burning flesh filled the cavern as bonfires went up across the mines, putting the dead to rest.

Sidhiel rejoined Kai outside of the clinic two days later (with about six hours of sleep as well), wearing a simple, loose, long-sleeved white shirt and deep blue pants. She took the mug of coffee from her sister and blew across the top of it, attempting not to spill the hot liquid into her lap. “How is it going inside? Has the Azure Angel returned?”

“You could say that. I wasn’t in costume, though.” Sidhiel chuckled, taking a sip of her coffee and grimacing. “Hey, don’ complain. Tha’s all they had in there.”

“Thanks little sister. I needed it.” she eyed the coffee, chuckling. “Granted, it tastes like dirt and it is making my eyes water, but it is the best I will get!” Kai returned the chuckle, nudging her sister abruptly in the side. “It’s yer mage.” She stood and offered out a cordial hand to Rissien, who shook it with a forced smile. “What’s th’ news?”

“We’ve searched the entire castle for Lord Dariak and so far we’ve found nothing save a few scuff marks on the floor from his boots and a few bits of fabric from his robe.” Rissien shifted the sling around his neck, adjusting the position of his injured arm. “We found his scepter in his bedchamber, broken in half, and the entire room looked like it was ripped to shreds.”

“Did th’ undead get in there?” he shook his head. “Netherborn, then. Fantastic.” He nodded, jerking his thumb in the direction of the guardhouse.

“Alena has a plan for us and the rest of the guard, come with me.” the sisters stood and followed him down the street towards the guardhouse. Kai looked around nonchalantly, all the while eavesdropping on their hushed conversation. “So you really didn’t get any of my letters?”

“I never got any of them. For the first three weeks I sat outside the orphanage waiting for your letter. I checked less and less as the months passed…”

“I’m…I’m sorry. I had no idea…father said he sent them out…” she chuckled quietly.

“You know, I would still drop by and talk to Mrs. Maven to see if any mail had come in…I was horrified when the original orphanage burnt down, because I could not check the mail again.”

“I was instated to Mage status about eight years ago, and tried to send a letter out. But our courier was shot by a skeleton.” He chuckled quietly, pulling open the guardhouse door for them. “Bad luck all around, hm?” Sidhiel replied with a laugh and walked in, followed by a smirking Kai. They made their way upstairs to the briefing room, which was void of basically all guards. Q’el and Kamei turned to greet them with a wave.

“Took you guys long enough to get here!” scolded Alena, standing up from her seat in Theodore’s lap. “We were about ready to fall asleep here.”

“You two got as much sleep as I did, stop complaining.” Alena frowned at Sidhiel.

“Sidney, you forget you’s an insomniac. Plus you’s got pure coffee runnin’ through yer veins, not blood.” Sidhiel chuckled and sat in one of the benches, stepping gingerly over Q’el’s bandaged foot, Kai following suit. “So what’s th’ plan, Allie?”

“That’s Captain to you, One-eye.” She grumbled, leaning against the stage next to her husband. “Here’s what we’ve discovered so far. Dariak’s still missing, hauled off by some sort of shadowy shapes with long claws. We’re not sure where they took him, but they know who the last person was to be seen with him. Q’el?”

He started to get up to stand, but Kamei pulled him back down to the bench before he could injure himself. “Kamei and I heard a commotion from Corman’s bedchambers after the last massive explosion. We ran in and found two tall gaunt creatures with long claws standing near Corman, and on the other side of the room was Vaerk.”

“Vaerk? Wait, what?” Rissien raised his eyebrows in confusion and shock.

“It was Vaerk. Same robes, same eyes, same voice. I ran forward to attack them when all of a sudden this…this…” he stumbled for a word, turning to Kamei for help.

“It was like being smashed in the face with a frying pan, ‘cept it was just our brains that hurt. We were blinded by a migrane to rival all migranes – and believe me, I’ve had some pretty bad ones – and this brilliant light. When we could finally see again, they were all gone.”

“Right now, according to their testimony, Vaerk is our number one suspect in the disappearance of Corman Dariak.” Kai shot a look over at Rissien, who was staring at his feet in shock. “Here’s my plan. Kamei, Q’el, Theo and I will search the castle grounds and the entirety of Kalvan multiple times in search of clues as to Corman and Vaerk’s locations. Kai and Sidhiel will work with their parents to better the Kalvan guard in case of another attack – “ Kai raised her hand respectfully. “Yes, One-eye?”

“So you’s got us on babysittin’ duty?”

“No. you will be training our men and women to fight the undead and Netherborn demons. Magus Brinc, you have been working on creature-specific posions and spells, correct?” Rissien didn’t respond, instead appearing to be deep in thought. “Magus Brinc!”

“Huh wha?”

“Creature-specific poisons and spells. For defenses. Yes?” she asked slowly, enunciating every syllable. He glowered at her and nodded. “Good. For the people training our guards, everything begins two days from now. Rissien, you will be working with Sidhiel and Kai, teaching the guards everything you know about the undead and Netherborn.” He nodded stiffly, still looking rather upset as the group filed out of the room.

Kai was the one that initiated conversation on the way back to the clinic. “So…what’s yer problem?” Rissien jerked his head towards her, frowning.

“Is she usually this forward about touchy subjects?” Sidhiel scolded her sister with a light smack to the back of the head. “She knows better than to act this way.”

“I jus’ wanna know…” Kai pouted, giving Rissien her best ‘sorrowful puppy’ look. He sighed and beckoned to a bench nearby.

“When I came here twenty years ago, father made me an apprentice of the court mage…a terribly incompetent fellow with the ability to do simple parlour tricks. I read every book on magic that I could, but after a while there was nothing else for me to learn.
“When he died nine years ago, I was put into the position of court mage. I didn’t know what to do. Corman helped me as best as he could, but he was just as competent as the previous mage.
“I met Vaerk when I accidentally set a tapestry on fire in the local tavern. He took me in and taught me to control the magic, taught me to bend it to my will and amplify it without causing damage to those around me. He was very patient and kind, and taught me all of the spells I know today…” Rissien trailed off. “Vaerk’s a newcomer, he’s only been here eight years. He’s got a past he doesn’t like to talk about, unhealed physical and mental wounds that still plague him, and he’s got some interesting abilities that even he can’t completely hide, but he’s not a bad guy.”

“Well then, you will simply have to prove that, Rissien.” Sidhiel said, putting a hand on his shoulder.

“First we need to find him.”

“I think I could help with that.” Sidhiel replied, grinning.


Author's Note: It is with a heavy heart that I post this chapter, since I learned about Frazz's leaving right before I posted this. I posted a proper goodbye, but it's going to be really weird without you around, Frazz. Good luck in everything you do, my friend.

Well. I suppose that wraps up my Author's note for the night.
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Chapter 13 - Let's Get Down to Business

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:53 am

CHAPTER 13 – LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS

Telepaths have a wide array of abilities, ranging from mind reading to actually borrowing an entire person’s mind and body for their own purposes. Sidhiel, being the non-invasive type of telepath, tended to shy away from the latter telepathic abilities (mind-bending, body invasions, mind reading, the like) because of her respect for other people’s minds – this of course, is different for creatures like Mason or even Kai, due to their willingness to let Sidhiel borrow their eyes.

For Sidhiel, the most difficult – and most recent – thing she learned was mind-walking. For most people, mind-walking sounds a bit like “rockhopping” or “hopscotch”, but it is unlike either of those children’s games. Instead, it is more like an out-of-body experience, where one person’s consciousness physically exits their own body searches out the mind of another. This was something Sidhiel was very good at, due to her attunement to the mental signatures of everyone around her.

For a person in the process of mind-walking, the world looks extremely different, like seeing it through dark, blue-tinted glasses. Plus, the blurred and smudged looks of the surroundings make a person feel as if they’ve drunk six pints of ale all in succession and tried to take a walk around town. For Sidhiel, that was the most disorienting part about ‘walking’, due to her…lack of inebriating experiences.

Sidhiel floated high above Relthen, scanning the darkened and smudged city below, tiny copper fires flitting to and fro as people went about their daily lives. She noticed, peripherally, a failing flame in the clinic extinguish and shuddered, refocusing on the task at hand, concentrating on Vaerk’s mind instead. As if on command, a light copper trail began to appear along the roads near Bluestone Keep. She floated through a few passers by and followed the winding ever-brightening copper glow until it let her to the chasm. She knew immediately where she was, setting herself down in front of the two active portals as she saw two shadowy creatures disassembling the third.

Planewalking is, as a general rule, forbidden within the telepath community, because the trip between planes (even when done by someone powerful) can prove disorienting and even deadly. A mind could be lost to the void – an endless black night without stars, a sun, a moon, or even others to keep you company. Sidhiel shivered as she realized Vaerk’s signature went through one of the active portals, but steeled herself. With one finger she reached out and touched the portal. Instantly a hand reached out and yanked her inside, throwing her across the planes like a ragdoll. She hit the other side and rolled, coming to a stop at Vaerk’s feet.

“You should not be here.” Said a form in front of her, radiating a blinding copper light. “Rissien sent me. Everyone thinks you kidnapped Lord Dariak – “

“You should not be here. You are too young and inexperienced for planewalking.” His gravelly voice was distorted and echoed in her mind, making her grimace. “Tell them I am close. Two weeks.”

“Wait, I am not in your mind…how are you speaking to me?” she saw the corners of his eyes pull up in a grin as he reached down and wrapped his fingers around the collar of his shirt. “I do not need to look hard to see you, little telepath.” He muttered. “Safe travels.” Suddenly she was hurled back through the portal and into her own body.


“Sidney? Hey Brinc! She’s awake!” Sidhiel groaned and sat up slowly in the bed, rubbing her head. “Hey sis, welcome back.”

“Ellie? Are you ok?”

“Wha…ohhh shut the lights off please…” suddenly her eyes snapped open and she looked around. “The training! We have people to train!”

“Kai and I can take over until you recover.”

“I…I am ok. I think…I may need a day to recover from the headache…” she looked around. “I could not find his specific location, Rissien. But I know he is somewhere in the Nether.”

“I thought ye said ye couldn’t jump planes, sis?”

“I cannot usually. But he…he grabbed me and pulled me in. He would not tell me where he was, but he told me he was close.”

“Close to what?”

“I do not know. He told me to wait a week and threw me back into my own mind.” Kai and Rissien sat back, exchanging confused looks. “Apparently we have two weeks. Now, can you help me to the guardhouse?”

“Sidhiel, you should be resting – “ Rissien began, but she waved him off.

“Which is exactly what I will be doing, resting. But I will be observing the training of the guards until then.” She ignored their arguing and got up without their help, finally convincing them to steady her when she fell flat on her face in the middle of the clinic’s waiting room.


The briefing room in the guardhouse was packed. Somehow they had managed to get the entirety of the Kalvan guard plus the Relthen guard packed into the room – nearly sixty men and women. People lined the walls of the room, the benches, the chairs, some even sat on the stage itself. The entirety of the Antonius family, plus two, stood uneasily at the podium trying to get their attention. Of course, it wasn’t working. Suddenly the room went quiet as the sixty or so people looked around confused and surprised, all rubbing their heads. Kai shot a look at Sidhiel, who was rubbing her head with one hand while pressing a handkerchief to her nose with the other. Rissien walked over to steady her as Emilia stepped forward on the podium.

“Men and women of Kalvan and Relthen. Two days ago we had a massive invasion of undead in the mines. We lost friends and family alike in that attack, and though you did well, you have no idea what’s in store for you. We’ve all seen what the undead can do. Now all we have to deal with are the Netherborn.” A hushed but fearful murmur ran through the group.

“Keep your mouths shut, or I’ll have my daughter pulse you again. Now that we have that settled: my two daughters, Kai and Sidhiel, have had the most experience out of any of us with the Netherborn. Since Kai has so kindly taken to writing us a lesson plan for the upcoming weeks, I will hand the podium over to her.”

Kai walked over to the podium, beckoning Sidhiel up. “I’s terrible at presentin’, so lisn’ ta my sister.”

“Guards! I need you to split up into groups of twenty!” the guards shuffled awkwardly. “Well come on then, we ain’t got all day! Git goin’!” Kai said, clapping her hands. A minute later the guards had split themselves into three separate groups. “You are good listeners, that is a plus. Now – “

“What do we call you all?” Kai shot him a withering glare and the guard shut his mouth.

“Group one! Go stand over there near Captain Martin. He and Kai will be teaching you the basics of archery. Group two! Head over to the tall fellow with the sideburns: that is Magus Brinc, and he will teach you the basics of magic for those who have the aptitude. Group three, You will gather near my mother, Captain Emilia, and we will teach you swordsmanship. We will meet back here at…” she looked at the clock on the wall, which read nine in the morning. “At five o’clock, and we will do an information session. You will be out of here by six thirty, which will give you plenty of time to rest and recuperate! We will meet here at the same time tomorrow and send you off with different groups. There will be an hour-long break for lunch at twelve o’clock.” Sidhiel paced the stage.

“This will be your life for the next two weeks, not including weekends. You will be put through the harshest training you have ever been through, and I hope to Frazz that you will survive this. I hope we were sent potential warriors, not wimps! Now…” she paused for effect. “Disperse!” the guards shuffled through each other, tripping over their comrades as they met in their groups. Fifteen minutes and sixty names later the groups were set and ready to disembark. Kai grinned at her sister, giving her the thumbs up as they parted ways. Sidhiel really was in her element again, training her own troops like she did back in Relthen. Kai smiled and headed down the stairs towards her own group.

Kai paced in behind her own group, eyeing them as they attempted to load their bows. It was the fourth day – she was back with the same group she had had on the first day, and hopefully they remembered all of the parts of a bow. “So, little archer, how goes it?” said a deep voice from behind her.

“Fine Martin, I just – “ she grimaced as one of the guards nearly shot an arrow into his foot. “I just hope we don’t have any injur – HEY! DON’ POINT THAT AT ‘IM!” Martin chuckled as Kai smacked a black-haired elf in the back of the head, berating her for aiming a loaded bow at her comrade. Martin took it all in stride, helping a young fellow string his bow without the head-whacking.

“Ok! I want’cha all ta aim for those there targets! Now be careful and don’ do anythin’ stupid!” the twanging sounds of bowstrings filled the air as arrows sliced across the sky, hitting everywhere but on the target. Kai rubbed her eyes with her fingers and sighed heavily. “Ohh this is gon' be a long two weeks. Ready Martin?”

****

“Well done, Eric. Now parry – no, no that is incorrect. When you move like that you – no, listen before you move!” Sidhiel grumbled and shook her head, catching the blonde’s blade and holding it in her gloved hand. “When you try to parry to the left but move right, it twists your arm and leaves your neck open. Try this.” Emilia swung lazily at her daughter as Sidhiel parried the attack, moving to the right. “See, the momentum carries you. Now you try.”

“Sidhiel?”

“Please, no miss. Sidhiel will do just fine, what do you need?” she asked, turning to a grey-haired dwarf. “I’m a lot better with hammers than I am with swords, but no one wants to practice because of that. All the other dwarves ended up in the other groups.” This had always been problematic for Warren, and Sidhiel knew that.

“Well then,” she grinned, hefting a heavy hammer over her shoulder and picking up a tower shield. “I will be your partner. Shall we begin?”

****

“Ria, what have I told you about setting your brother on fire?!” Rissien asked, extinguishing Alvin with a wave of his hand (and a small rainstorm).

“He’s the one that keeps freezing me! It’s not my fault!” she whined, pouting. Rissien put his face in his hand and shook his head, sighing heavily. Two days before the end of the fortnight and this girl still couldn’t stop setting people alight.

“If you aren’t careful, you’ll set the entire building on fire, and then where’ll we be?”

“This building can’t be set on fire. You carved the runes to protect against magic, so that won’t happen.” He raised his eyebrows, impressed. “I read the runes and the books you wrote on them.” She was a quick study, but her quick temper often got her into trouble with him as well as the other guards.

“Listen, I need to make sure Kael doesn’t throw another tapestry across the room. Just…just don’t set anything else on fire, ok?” she nodded and went back to practicing with (actually, it was less “with” and more “on” because of his lack of abilities) her brother.

“It’s nearly time…” he murmured nervously. “Are we really ready?”


Author's Note:
To defeat the Huns Undead...

Yeah, it just doesn't have that ring, does it? Well anyways, here's the chapter. Winding down guys, getting closer and closer to the end...
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Chapter 14 - Dancing, Politics, and Netherborn

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:48 pm

CHAPTER 14 - DANCING, POLITICS, AND NETHERBORN

Sidhiel knew she had better things to do than sketch the carvings in Bluestone Keep. Or at least, she thought she knew. The guards were as trained as they were ever going to be, posted around the castle and mines in case of attack. Alena and her team had received no clues, though they had searched as hard as they could throughout the entire city. Sidhiel was aware that she needed to be on the front lines, but she needed a break. “Sidhiel?” a voice said from behind her. It was Rissien, dressed in his signature grey vest, white shirt, black pants, and cravat. He was in the process of tying up his loose hair, and the shadow around his mouth made him look haggared and worn. “What’re you…” he mumbled, obviously half-asleep.

“I was in need of a break. So I am taking etchings.”

“Studying? That’s your idea of a break?” he paused, thinking as he looked over her shoulder at the papers. “Then again, you were always a studious one.”

“If I recall correctly, you were the studious one. I was more interested in breaking people’s noses.” He chuckled and nodded. “Do you have coffee?”

“The kitchen does. Oh, we’ve got that Alevian coffee I told you about a few days ago. Y’know, the one with the cinnamon flavor?” she nodded and followed him into a small chamber along the left wall. He fumbled around in the cabinets for a kettle and the coffee, finally holding them up with a grin – like a small child with a trophy. Five minutes later the two of them sat across from each other at the table, enjoying their coffee. “Your head feel better? Even I felt those pulses at the meeting last night.”

“I could barely see the pain was so bad. It is why I kept covering my eyes – “

“Ah. I thought it was just you facepalming at the questions. You’re apt to do that, Ellie.” She perked up and raised an eyebrow at him. “What?”

“You used that name again.”

“Oh. Ah…sorry. Old habits, I suppose. Can I not call you that?” she chuckled and took another drink of her coffee. “Actually, I do not mind it that much.” A low rumble shook the counters around them as a foul-smelling wind swept through the halls around them. The torches and lamps suddenly extinguished, leaving only the soft glow from the pillars outside to light the way. “Wha – “ Sidhiel shushed Rissien, nodding for him to light the place up. His hand was suddenly wreathed in flame, casting an eerie yellow glow around them. There was another low rumble, this time not through the floor, but in the air behind them. They whirled around and came face-to-face with a lanky, shadowed creature. It grinned horribly, its serrated teeth glinting in the light of the flames.

“What th – “ Rissien started, but was smacked harshly out of the way by the creature’s clawed hand. Sidhiel drew her sword but was smacked away as well, her falchion rolling to a stop just beyond her fingertips. It screeched at them and rushed forward, ignoring the fire flying from Rissien’s hands. Sidhiel rolled out of the way and grappled with a heavy, handled object on the counter, smacking the creature in the back of the head. A satisfying metallic note sounded as the object connected, sending the shadow-being face-first into the ground. “KILL IT!” she yelled as Rissien rammed the falchion through its back. Suddenly the ground beneath them lurched and trembled, nearly toppling the duo as they rushed out into the main hall. Very distinct sounds resonated quietly through the chamber as they squinted down the hall. One sound stood out to Sidhiel, and her blood chilled at the sound.

“Rissien, we need to leave.”

“What?”

“We need to leave!” a horrendous screech echoed through the hallway as a massive ball of slag hurtled towards the pair. “NOW RIGHT NOW!” she yelled grabbing him by the hand as they sprinted towards the door. They rolled down the steps just as a massive explosion atomized the door and surrounding masonry. Sidhiel sent a mental announcement throughout Kalvan. “Citizens of the Northeastern and Northwestern districts head South and stay inside. All available guards report to Bluestone Keep. The invasion has begun!”

****

Sidhiel, Rissien, and about twenty other guards were already fighting the Netherborn and undead forces when Kai arrived with her group. The warring sides clashed with an almighty din that echoed across Kalvan’s walls as fireballs and strikes of green lightning lit the place up. It was only when she reached Bluestone Keep’s patio that Kai realized she had forgotten her axe back at home. She grumbled and resorted to her cutlass, slicing through undead, dretches, and resaits alike. A flying mass of frozen Netherborn and undead bodies was suddenly sent flying over her head, and as she squinted into the distance she could see Rissien and Sidhiel fighting for their lives.

She made her way that way, flipping over the heads of her enemies and ducking around their legs, each time using their own weapons against them. She strung her bow and shot two arrows into an approaching causenic, narrowly avoiding its caustic blood as she joined the duo in front of the destroyed castle gates. “Sidney! What’s the pl – is that a fryin’ pan?!” she ducked as a blackish circular object swung over her head and smashed in the face of an approaching skeleton.

“Indeed it is. A rather – “ duck. “Handy weapon, I must say! Here, have at!” she tossed the frying pan to her sister and beheaded an approaching dretch. “Rissien! Kai! We need to – “ dodge roll. “We need to congeal our forces! Can you put up a forcefield, Rissien?”

“Why?!” Sidhiel simply tapped the side of her head and grinned.

“No Sidney, you’s be down fer th’ count after that!” but it was too late once Sidhiel’s eyes began to glow with frightening intensity. Suddenly volleys of arrows were flying from the nearby clinic and guardhouse rooftops as the archers began to work with each other, taking down voltains and haerteons right and left. A group of about fifteen dwarves rushed in from the left, smashing through the enemy’s army with warhammers, axes, and crossbows while a group of lighter infantry and mages started in on the right side, slowly closing in on the trio. Sidhiel dropped to her knees, breathing heavily as Kai helped her up. “You’s an idiot!” she screamed.

“R…remind m…me to pay y…you…five cents…” Sidhiel muttered, grinning. “Hand…me…hand me that…hammer…” a hammer nearly Kai’s size lay a few feet away under the hand of a fallen haerteon. She grunted as she hauled it over to Sidhiel, who by then had staggered to her feet. “Shall we?” she muttered, raising an eyebrow. “Oh yes.” Kai replied, stringing her bow. A pair of haerteons advanced through the light infantry on their right, sights set on the sisters. Sidhiel began her charge, letting out a ‘barbaric yawp’ to rival all others as she swung the hammer into the head of the first haerteon. The second let out a metallic moan as its leg joints locked, held in place by two arrows. The first haerteon swung wildly at Sidhiel – still reeling from the first hit – as its waraxe sliced through its companion’s face. She spun around the side of the haerteon as two more arrows locked in its eyesockets, finishing it off for good.

From Mason’s perspective, floating high above the scene, this was an interesting battle to watch. On one side there were the heavily armored dwarves, sending resaits, dretches, and zombies alike flying with each powerful swing of their weapons. Then, on the other side was one barely-armored, gangly, dark-haired elf with a warhammer nearly her size, smashing through the attackers as the shining army proceeded towards the gate. “Rissien! We need to get inside and shut off the portal!”

“Y’think I don’t know that?!” a molten mass of slag hit the ground next to him, injuring a number of the enemy while missing Rissien altogether. “What’ll we do about those?!” black ghasts floated in the air above them, luminescing as they spat globs of slag at the defenders. The archers on the rooftops were already doing their best to shoot them down, but spiders scaling the walls distracted them long enough for the ghasts to regroup. Sidhiel sent out another mental pulse as a mass of pigmen spilled out of the gaping hole in Bluestone Keep. All at once a group of about fifteen guards peeled off from the attack group on the street below, casting every possible spell at the spiders that they could. A ghast suddenly fell from the sky, smashing into the guardhouse training grounds with a sickening squelching noise. “We need to destroy those portals!”

“How many are there?” Martin yelled, coming up from behind the group, his sword covered in blackish blood.

“I can’t tell, but we need to get in there and shut them down or we’ll be overwhelmed!” Sidhiel smashed a causenic in the side of the head, sending it hurtling back through the attack force.

“Rissien, if you can get me in there, I can take out the portals.”

“How?!”

“I just need to smash in the sides!”

“No, I mean how the Nether do I get you IN there?! I know you’re perfectly capable of – “ duck. “Taking the portals out, but – “ he sent a wall of flame spinning towards a voltain. “How do I – “

“Telekinesis spell! Throw me!” he looked shocked, then shrugged, realizing there wasn’t much he could do to stop her. Moments later Sidhiel realized just why exactly half-elves (or any sort of humanoid for that matter) shouldn’t fly. She body checked three zombies along the way and hit the portal with her back, though the impact was lessened by the zombies behind her. Barely a second had passed before another shape flew into the room, landing gracefully next to her. “Hey Sidney! Best get ‘ta work!” said Kai, firing off a few consecutive shots with her bow. With Kai achieving headshots on nearly all of her targets, Sidhiel went to work bashing in the sides of the portal.

One portal went down almost immediately, toppling masses of obsidian down upon an unlucky voltain nearby. Kai smashed it in the head just to be sure before firing off another pair of arrows, squarely hitting the eyesockets of a Haerteon. A fireball flew past them and smashed into the second portal, sending pieces of obsidian flying everywhere

“Rissien, watch where you throw that!” Kai scolded, firing an arrow to the left of his shoulder, taking out a voltain with a headshot. “HA! Take that you nincompoop!” she yelled, smashing a nearby zombie pigman in the face with her frying pan. Sidhiel noticed, out of the corner of her eye, a crimson-robed figure step out of the third portal and disappear into the shadows behind them. “Vaerk!”

“Where?” Rissien replied

“I think he went that way!” she said, pointing past the throne and towards the living areas in Bluestone Keep. “Rissien, wait, don’t – “

“I’ll be fine, I promise! Just hold down the fort until I get back!” he replied, sprinting down the hall.

Author's Note: Hey guess what...TWO MORE FREAKIN' CHAPTERS!! :D I'll post 15 up right after this one, but since I'm still working on my post-story surprise, I'll wait until later to post chapter 16 (finale). Not much else to say here!


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Chapter 15 - Well That's Gonna Take a While to Repair...

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:51 pm

CHAPTER 15 – WELL THAT’S GONNA TAKE A WHILE TO REPAIR…

It was when Rissien reached the end of the hall that he knew something was very wrong. An eerie black-purple glow oozed out from under Lord Dariak’s door, and his blood ran cold at the sight of it. With a telekinesis spell he hurled a nearby couch at the door, smashing it open as he rushed inside. There stood the hunched-over form of Lord Dariak, accompanied by one remaining shadow-being. He launched a volley of white lightning at the creature, frying it to a crisp where it stood. “Milord, are you allright?” he asked, rushing up to the man. At first he heard nothing at all, but he shuddered when he finally heard the low, rasping laughter coming from his friend’s mouth.

“You…” it hissed, pinning him to the wall with a telekinesis spell. He smacked into it with a painful ‘crack’, grimacing at the pain in his head. “Killed…my…pet…”

“Pet?! Milord! Corman! That thing was going to eat you!” Dariak spun around, his cloak falling off as he revealed himself fully. He was a changed man, his once frazzled grey hair now gold, falling in rivulets around his deathly pale face and hollowed eyes. His eyes were completely black, and Rissien noted his pointed teeth when Corman grinned - more like snarled - at him. Black leather armor covered his body, and a red belt bearing an unfamiliar glowing seal in the shape of a skull lined the majority of his midsection. “You killed my pet, you insignificant worm.” Corman Dariak growled, green fire springing to life at his fingertips. “The dead will rise. Cities will fall. The Overlich will prevail.”

A bolt of green flame flew at Rissien, who just barely blocked it with a weak shield. With a telekinesis spell he hurled a nearby knife at Dariak, slicing him across the face. Blood poured out, staining his white skin as he wiped his face and stared at his hand. “Ahh yes. Blood. It will be so nice to not deal with this when I am dead.”

“You’re still alive?!” Dariak nodded, grinning maliciously. “Then we can save you! You’re not gone yet, we can help you Corman – “ a bolt of purple lighting spat out at Rissien, searing the wall next to him.

“You think I want to be an insignificant ruler, you worthless mage?!” he laughed hysterically as he dodged a wall of fire from Rissien. “No…no my talents can be more useful serving him!” he dodged again as an icicle smashed into the bed behind him. “You could join us, Rissien. Become the most powerful mage in all the world!” Dariak pulled a poleaxe down from the wall next to him and rushed at Rissien, who dodged deftly. “Bow to the Overlich! Allow him to use you!”

“Y’see, that’s the big problem I have, Corman. I’m not one to be used by anyone!” Rissien shot three more icicles at Corman, one of which clipped the former ruler in the leg, ripping a hole in his flesh.

“And yet…” Corman paused, checking the wound. “And yet you were used anyways…” Rissien stopped dead in his tracks, shocked. “Stupid boy. You gave me everything I needed to know about raising the undead, opening the portals…” he chuckled and swung the halberd at Rissien, catching him on the shoulder. “I only wish your father had been more helpful.”

“What?”

“Oh yes. I’m surprised you didn’t see it. Your father was weak. I asked him to join me, but he refused. I may look like an old man, stupid boy, but the crunch of breaking bones and the smell of drained blood reinvigorate me – “

“You bastard!” Rissien screamed, hurling himself at Dariak. He deftly rolled under the poleaxe, kicking Dariak’s legs out from under him as he rolled to an upright position. He pulled a halberd off of the wall towards him and stabbed at Dariak, who rolled out of the way just in time. He sent Rissien flying into the bookshelves with a telekinesis spell, rushing towards him with his weapon spinning. Rissien blocked and parried, driving Dariak back with a bolt of lightning. “I like your style, stupid boy! Maybe if I kill you, I can bring your body to him. He could use you!”

“Shut up you murdering bastard!” Rissien yelled, swinging his halberd around and burying it deep into the shaft of his opponent’s weapon. Dariak’s poleaxe broke in half, leaving him weaponless as he dodged Rissien’s attacks. “How long have you been killing our people?!”

“Ever since they killed my brother!” Corman replied, conjuring a bound sword. “He always loved the dark arts…” he swung wildly at Rissien, grinning. “He went to a port town not far away from here and started practicing…but the guard killed him. They fear the power that the Overlich can bring. They fear us! But we will show them.”

“Not on my watch, you ugly sonofabitch!” Rissien yelled, swinging madly at Dariak. Suddenly, Dariak was gone, and Rissien stumbled forward, blindly groping for any sort of handhold to stop his forward descent. A burning, white-hot pain ran through his leg as he fell face first into the ground. He couldn’t see what had been done, but he immediately felt himself weaken, and his vision darkened as he stared up at Dariak’s advancing form. A final flash of flame lit his failing vision as another shape appeared in the doorway, wreathed in flame. Finally all faded to black, and he fell into unconsciousness.

***

A massive beam of green lightning struck the ground next to Sidhiel, taking out an entire group of zombie pigmen in the process. She turned and saw Vaerk holding a conjured axe, his eyes pulled up at the edges in a grin. “Vaerk?!”

“Indeed, little telepath I – where is your mage?”

“He went that way! He followed you, right…” she paled, ramming her sword through a zombie’s chest. “Oh gods.”

“Stay there, little telepath, keep the battle strong here. I will find your mage.” Vaerk turned on his heel and sprinted down the hall, fire igniting in his palms as he appeared in the doorway.

“I was expecting you, Vaerk.” Said the haggared figure from across the room. Dariak was standing over Rissien’s body, which was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. “I don’t think your friend here has much time.”

“I would not be worrying about him, old friend.”

“Oh? And what should I be worrying about?” Vaerk advanced, flames licking up his arms until his entire body was wreathed in flame. He grinned as he saw Dariak’s face drop in horror. “Do you know what happens when you anger a mage?” Dariak shook his head, his eyes wide with fear. “You become nothing more than dust in the air. And let me tell you this…” he narrowed his eyes for effect, the fire in his hands now turning bright blue. “I am most displeased.” Azure flames leapt from Vaerk’s palms, shattering the last-minute shield Dariak threw up in front of himself

“Why won’t you join me, my mentor? Are we not good enough for you?!” Dariak asked, his voice suddenly pleading. “What did I ever do to harm you? I thought you enjoyed power!” White lightning spat out and hit Dariak squarely in the chest, sending him smashing into the opposing wall.

“Once I did, long ago. But then I discovered life. I found a new path. Family.” Vaerk hurled two icicles at Dariak, sending one straight into his side. “That was taken from me once. Now that I have found it again, I will not let it go.”

“Family?! What good is family if they don’t remember you?!” Vaerk’s eyes pulled up, softening for a moment before he lifted Dariak in the air above his head.

“That may be true, Corman. That may indeed be true. But knowing they are safe…that makes all the difference.” His eyes suddenly blazed copper as Dariak felt his body being bent backwards in the air. “You are a threat to their safety. Any threat must be dealt with.” A sickening crack sounded through the room as Dariak’s limp body was flung against the opposing wall.

“I…my legs…”

“Yes, your back is broken. May it stay that way.” Growled Vaerk, checking Rissien’s pulse. It was barely a flutter, and he grimaced as he looked down at the wound. “Stupid apprentice.” He muttered, turning to face the hysterically laughing Corman Dariak.

“Stupid teacher, more like.” a blackish-purple light suddenly shone from the seal on Dariak’s middle. Vaerk paled, reaching out as quickly as he could to the brightest mind in the city. “Little telepath. Get your people out now. NOW!” the timer wound down, clicking away mindlessly. He focused in on every mind that he could, finding their locations while creating teleportation circles to move them to safety. With a wave of his hand an opaque, golden-colored dome appeared over them, shielding Vaerk and his apprentice. Darkness filled the room as chunks of masonry and pieces of furniture whirled around Dariak’s prone form. Vaerk felt himself being pulled towards the mass of whirling debris and snagged a crack in the stone floor with one hand while holding Rissien by the collar.

Suddenly, he saw a black, white, and purple whirling disc within the maelstrom of debris and realized with horror what it was. It shrunk down to a smaller and smaller size, until sparks of red lightning began to arc out from its center. Vaerk put all of his power into the forcefield as an explosion of blackness surrounded them in total silence.

****

Sidhiel and Kai found themselves, along with about forty other guards, standing out in front of the clinic. The Netherborn and undead forces were just as confused as they were, milling about on the porch waiting for another creature to attack. It was then that they heard the gradual rumble in the castle become a roar. A massive black cloud of energy exploded out with unimaginable force, ripping a hole in the side of the cavern as well as blowing out the back half of Bluestone Keep. Huge chunks of carved stone smashed into the guardhouse, sending Netherborn and undead alike flying through the air. Another explosion, this time wreathed in bright blue flame, followed the first wave of energy, completely annihilating any of the enemy standing on the porch.

Sidhiel watched, her mouth wide open in awe as the scene played out before her. When the dust had settled, the entire right side of Bluestone Keep lay in ruins on the ground, as did much of the guard house. Bodies of undead and Netherborn alike lay broken and burnt across the stonework and streets below. “Oh Gods…” Kai heard her sister mutter as she stumbled off towards the keep. Kai followed her sister, who by then had broken into a full sprint, and leapt up the stairs.

It took them five minutes to pick their way across the rubble and bodies strewn around the Keep. Kai was the first in the room, being more agile than her sister, and stopped dead in her tracks at the sight in front of her. Air hung dustily in the gaping hole that was once Corman Dariak’s bedchambers. The entire side of the keep had been blown out, a massive gaping wound replacing where the walls had once stood. Through the hole Kai could see the remnants of the guardhouse, but she had to crane her head around Vaerk to – wait, Vaerk?

Vaerk stood on a small, circular platform that seemed to float of its own accord, a huge crater surrounding him. It was obviously ground zero for the explosion that had ripped through Bluestone Keep and the guard house. On the platform next to him lay Rissien, his leg and the right side of his hip encased in a seal of ice.

“What the Nether happened here?”

“Lord Corman Dariak is dead. He unleashed an explosion that did this,” he motioned to the gaping hole in the mountain. “And he injured your friend very badly.” He pushed his hands forward and moved the platform towards the building, setting it down in the hall – or what was left of the hall. He stumbled forward weakly, breathing harshly as Kai caught him and set him down next to the wall. “Y’ok?” he nodded weakly, his eyes pulling up into a small smile.

“Oh gods no! NO!” came a cry from behind them as Sidhiel cleared Kai with a single bound, landing next to the prone Rissien. “Is, is he…”

“He is alive, little telepath but barely.” He rested his eyes for a moment, pulling his eyebrows down into a grimace. “He needs a healer…” she nodded and checked Rissien’s pulse just to make sure.

“Rissien, don’t you dare die on me, okay? We’ll get you out of here, I promise. I promise.” Suddenly a mental cry for help ripped through Kai's mind, Sidhiel’s pleading voice ricocheting around in her brain until it hurt. Sidhiel continued to check Rissien’s pulse, occasionally running a finger gingerly along the ear cuff on his right ear. Minutes later, Kai and Emilia were dragging Vaerk out of the rubble, with Martin and Dorian close behind, carrying a wounded Rissien.

“Don’t you dare die on me.” she heard Sidhiel mutter as they took him into critical care at the clinic. “Don’t you dare.”


Author's note: Teehee cliffhanger. You guys won't know until later what happens, so go ahead, writhe in your seats. For once I'm the one leaving someone else at a cliffhanger...I absolutely abhor cliffhangers, if you couldn't tell.

Anyways, like I said before, I'm still working on the "post-story surprise", so I'll have the final chapter and that up by later this evening. Look forward to it!

Also: FINALLY TWO PAGES OMG.


Last edited by AJ.Wisteria on Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:26 am; edited 5 times in total
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Chapter 16 - The Road Goes Ever On and On

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:44 am

CHAPTER 16 – THE ROAD GOES EVER ON AND ON

It had been nearly a week since Corman Dariak had died. Though a good portion of the castle and most of the guardhouse had been leveled, and parts of the eastern and western districts burned, the feeling in Kalvan was one of safety. Alena and Theo had taken their own time off, and Sidhiel occasionally caught glances of them strolling hand-in-hand down the street across from the park. Jaric sat under a tree with his wife and new child, looking less like a disheveled prisoner and more like a healed man, while Kai and Dorian played a friendly game of catch with a small ball. Martin and Emilia sat nearby on a large picnic blanket, a massive roll of paper spread out before them. Sidhiel guessed they were working on early blueprints for the new guardhouse, since Alena had asked for their input.

She smiled softly and sat back in the seat, closing her eyes contentedly. “Hey.” Said a quiet voice from behind her. She made a move to stand up and help Rissien around the bench, but he waved her off, limping around to the seat. He propped his leg out in front of him with a stifled groan, resting his cane next to him. His usually clean-shaven face now had a beard that bordered his mouth, chin, and under his nose, and his sideburns were terribly unkempt. “I like the vest. It suits you.” He grinned at her, nodding towards her brown vest and dark green shirt.

“You ahm…you missed a spot shaving.” Sidhiel replied, chuckling.

“Y’know, being in a pain-induced coma for a week tends to make you forget about shaving, Ellie.” He returned curtly, stroking his new beard. “Besides, I kind of like it this way. What do you think?”

“It makes you look like a homeless person.”

“I didn’t before?” he laughed, and she joined in. “The healers say it’ll be a while before I can properly use the leg again, and there’s gonna be a lot of pain involved.”

“Well your leg was nearly lopped off, Rissien. I mean, right through bone –”

“Don’t remind me.” She chuckled as Rissien laid back on the bench, resting his arms on the back. The two of them sat in a relatively awkward silence for the next five minutes, with Sidhiel giving the occasional wave to Kai or her parents. “So Ellie…ah…where do we go from here?” she cocked her head at him again. “I mean, twenty years is a long time to be away from a friend, and a few weeks isn’t a lot of time to get to know them again…” she frowned, nodding in agreement.

“You…you could come with us? Back to the Dawnlands to meet everyone, plus, you would be a valuable and powerful ally.” She grinned as Rissien laughed, shaking his head. “Unfortunately there will be a lot of literal and metaphorical ‘mud-slinging’ going on over the next few months as we attempt to figure out our government and new leader. Considering I’m one of the few Corman Dariak never killed, I’ll be needed here to…sort things out…” he trailed off and sighed, looking as enthusiastic as a child going to a doctor’s office. “I’m really looking forward to that.”

“Your enthusiasm is overwhelming.” Sidhiel chuckled, scribbling on a piece of paper with a quill she had pulled from her satchel. “Next best thing?” Rissien looked at her skeptically after glancing at the paper. “Do we really want to try writing letters again?”

Sidhiel shrugged, smiling. “We both have our own homes from which we can send mail, we do not have to rely on others, and,” she deftly caught the leather ball that came sailing towards her from across the park and tossed it back to Dorian. “And I have heard the borders of Kalvan are opening for trade and travelers.”

“Yes! For the first time in…” he paused, frowning in thought. “Ever? Kalvan’s doors are open to all.” He looked at her, grinning. “You own a tavern right? Both of you? I could send you cases of alcohol from the distilleries we have here. There’s mead, brandy, wine, and more, and – “ she held up her hand, allowing him to catch his breath.

“How about we establish a trade route for letters before packages?” he nodded, letting out a quick sigh. He followed Sidhiel’s gaze towards the rest of the people on the green and sighed. “It is nice to feel at peace, is it not?” she asked, smiling when he nodded.

“It’s not something that’s easy to come by, but when you find it…” he relaxed and laid back on the bench. “Man, it feels good.” she chuckled and did the same.

****

By the time Kai and Sidhiel had reached the front of Kalvan they had amassed a following of an uncountable amount of people, all waving and calling out well-wishes for the travelers that had helped bring peace to their city. The two shifted uneasily, pointing to the guards and their parents as the ones who had done most of the work.

“You’re heroes.” Dorian said, poking Kai in the side. She smacked his hand away and frowned.

“We din’t do anythin’. We were jus’ two cogs in a massive machine, two soldiers in an army.”

“They don’t care. They need faces they can trust and turn to in their time of need. And now that we know you’re out there…things don’t look quite as bad in here.” Emilia said, wrapping the girls up in a hug. “Now listen, I’ve packed you four loaves of bread, some salted pork, some…” Emilia continued naming out all of the things she had shoved into Kai’s pack, though her voice faded in Sidhiel’s mind as she scanned the crowd.

“You look a bit glum, Blue. Already homesick?” she turned to Martin and chuckled, leaning into him as he wrapped her in a fatherly hug.

“I am going to miss you, Ada.” She said before pulling away. “All of you. Promise you’ll write? And keep an eye on the guard?” he nodded, grinning. His gaze suddenly turned to a young, dark-haired elf who had managed to pull himself up the stairs with his staff. “You’re the mage, right? Rissien Brinc?” Rissien nodded, smiling painfully as he extended a hand. “You’re one heck of a fighter, kid.”

“Thank you, sir.” He mumbled, attempting a bow before nearly falling over. Sidhiel steadied him with one hand as he straightened himself up, deciding to nod only with his head. There was less of a chance of his face connecting with the floor that way. “I ah...I came to bid our heroes goodbye.” Sidhiel gently smacked the back of his head with her hand, narrowing her eyes at him. “I meant ‘friends’, of course.” Martin nodded, and pulled away from the group to speak to Kai, leaving Sidhiel and Rissien alone.

“Well, I guess this is goodbye, for now.” she said, extending a hand with a smile.

“I suppose so. But we have letters, so it’s not really a proper goodbye…” he trailed off and looked sheepishly at the ground before taking her hand, finally pulling her into a hug. “Keep good care of yourself, promise?

She stiffened at the hug, unsure of what to do for a moment. Finally she returned it, relaxing as a small smile pulled at her lips. “That means you will have to keep care of yourself, as well.” She said, moving away. “Promise?” he grinned, nodding. “When Kai and I arrive in the Dawnlands I will write you, just so you know we got there safely.”

“Hey Sidney! C’mon girl, I’s usually the one holdin’ up the line!” Sidhiel turned and nodded to her sister before returning her gaze to Rissien, who was shuffling through his satchel.

“I almost forgot. This is a gift from Vaerk to you.” She frowned and took the shallow, carved wood box.

“And it is…?”

“A channel.” Inside sat a black choker with an uninteresting black stone at its center. As she picked it up, the stone began to glow a dim copper color.

“We recently had a bad experience with a magic artifact. It killed a friend of mine.” she shivered suddenly as memory of Amulet's mind suddenly surfaced.

“It’s not a magic artifact, it’s a channel. There’s a note in there explaining it, from Vaerk.” she raised her eyebrow and put the box into her satchel, smiling. “Be safe, Ellie.”

“Can do.” She replied, throwing a wave over her shoulder as she set off towards Kalvan’s entrance and the Dawnlands.

****

“So Sid, when’s ya headed back to Horizon?” asked Kai, perching herself in a sitting position on the bar, attempting to read the letter sitting under Sidhiel’s coffee cup. The latter sat turning the choker over in her hands, unresponsive. “Hey, sis. Yer coffee’s gettin’ cold.” Sidhiel jerked out of her trance and grabbed the cup, burning her mouth as she took a gulp.

“You are a cruel little sister, do you know that?” she spluttered as Kai laughed. “I plan to head back to Horizon tomorrow.”

"I hope that thing stops ya bleedin' whenever ya link or use your mind powers."

"I have a feeling it will, Kai." she replied, fastening the choker around her neck with a confident smile and a sigh as she sipped at her coffee again.

“Sure y’don’t wanna stay?” Sidhiel nodded, smiling. “Right. Peace is pro’ly pissed at'cha fer shirkin’ yer duties. Plus, I think I can hold down th’ fort here.”

“Are you entirely certain of that, Kai?” her little sister nodded, crossing her legs and casting a sideways glance to the ceiling.

“I shall smite any who steal my alcohol, bash any bullies, and I will not hesitate to boot people out onto the street if they’ve had one too many drinks. I will prevail over the evening crowd!” Sidhiel laughed, glancing sideways towards the door.

“Glad you think that. Also, it is nearly midnight…should you really be drinking that?” Kai glanced at the glass of mead in her hand and shrugged, chuckling. “Of course, I nearly forgot you are unaffected by anything but tea. In the meantime, I will be going to bed.”

“Can I read your letter?”

“No.”

“Aww please? Just a glance, an’ then I’ll let my imagination do the rest! I need some more good reading material, jus' one li’l look…”

*Kai continues on as Sidhiel facepalms and the curtain falls on the Sisters’ Summer Saga.*


I...ah...OMIGAWDI'MDONEI'MDONE WOOHOO!!! *gasp* Ooooookay. So I'm still working on the epilogue, but THIS PAGE IS OFFICIALLY OPEN FOR COMMENTS NOW. If you wanna see the epilogue and the surprise I had planned, go ahead and post, along with criticisms, basic comments, whatever else you can think of.
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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by Faelar Laelither on Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:53 am

Woo-hoo!

An excellently written story, AJ. I was waiting eagerly for every chapter, chapter 15 being my particular favorite. It was very much worth the wait and an entertaining read. Thank you for writing it.
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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by Sealand on Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:03 am

Loved it all the way, AJ. I love ALL your characters, honestly. Definitely puts 'Revenge' to shame, in a box, under the bed.

My only problem with it is that the story gets a little confusing when one person is talking and it's followed by another's actions.

E.G. -
right through bone –”

“Don’t remind me.” She chuckled as Rissien laid back on the bench,

Once you've start reading a while and getting used to it, it isn't as big of a deal, but it did trip me up a couple of times. I've never really seen anything written like that, to be honest.

Needless to say, it was an awesome story, AJ. I certainly look forward to any other writings you have planned for sure.

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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:01 am

Hehe, oops. That's the way I've always written, not sure why...I guess it's a bad habit?

I might have some more writings set up for the family, but I'm not sure. I definitely want to expand on Sidhiel and Rissien's story as well as Kai and Dorian (they've a very close brother-sister bond).

I'm nearly done with the epilogue, by the way, plus the surprise. I'll have that up in a couple of hours (if you're wondering why it's taking so long...well...you'll know when you see).

Thanks guys for the support! :D

FaelarLaelither wrote:I was waiting eagerly for every chapter, chapter 15 being my particular favorite.

Why thank you! Why chapter 15 though?

Sealand wrote:Definitely puts 'Revenge' to shame, in a box, under the bed.
to be honest.

D: YOU'D BETTER NOT MEAN THAT. I'm looking forward to reading that still, don't stuff it away yet!! Pleeeeease?

On a side note...I didn't miss the big Frazz sendoff, did I? Imma cry if I did :C
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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by Sealand on Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:25 am

AJ.Wisteria wrote:
Sealand wrote:Definitely puts 'Revenge' to shame, in a box, under the bed.
to be honest.

D: YOU'D BETTER NOT MEAN THAT. I'm looking forward to reading that still, don't stuff it away yet!! Pleeeeease?
I'll finish it of course. I'm just commenting on how better of a writer you are than me. XD


AJ wrote:
On a side note...I didn't miss the big Frazz sendoff, did I? Imma cry if I did :C
Not that I know of. Everyone's pretty much set with their walls.

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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by Faelar Laelither on Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:58 am

Why thank you! Why chapter 15 though?

Dariaks' betrayal was portrayed in a very appealing away. I was expecting something like it to happen, and when it did happen, oh man was it satisfying.
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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by AJ.Wisteria on Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:15 am

Faelar Laelither wrote:
Why thank you! Why chapter 15 though?

Dariaks' betrayal was portrayed in a very appealing away. I was expecting something like it to happen, and when it did happen, oh man was it satisfying.

I actually didn't think I did that well with the betrayal, I could've done a lot better, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! I did have fun writing it, I just wish I'd elaborated a bit more XD

There's actually backstory surrounding the Antonius family and the Dariak family, though even I've not thought that out completely... Who knows, maybe I'll find some way to bring him back. I know I'll be bringing all the characters, Vaerk included, back for another story, maybe over the winter break XD
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AJ.Wisteria
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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

Post by Tengard on Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:24 am

It was great AJ, I really did enjoy it! You and Sea have really impressed, (and inspired) me with your guys' work! I'm so glad you shared it with us! :D

Soooo.... What's this about an Epilogue? ;P

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Tengard, the master of "Nope let's make the characters as UNHAPPY as possible..."

Nihilum, the evolved form of Rusk. Commonly found in dimensions of sheer awesomeness, this Pokemon takes to flying over noobs after a hearty lunch of enchiladas. Needless to say, a swarm is considered a bad sign in many cultures.
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Tengard
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Re: The Antonius Chronicles - Summer Edition [Finished] and other Stories [Unfinished]

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