Monday, November 26, 2012

A slowdown in my writing.

Yeah, sorry to ya poor souls trying to suffer through my horrid writing.

I've been preparing for a couple of roleplays recently, on top of the Only War roleplay that I GM.  First off is DnD 3.5, which is nice to get back in to.  A science-y wizard is my current concept there.  And then Exalted after that, I'm playing an Abyssal Dusk Caste, focusing on Dark Messiah style martial arts.

Fun times.

Will write the net bit up (IE, the post-fight bit) next time I feel I have a chance.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Writing Practice: Day 4 (Mythology)

Pain, all alone, knows no dreams, resting in a void of itself
Sorrow's tears and sobbing silenced, burdens lost forever more
Muse, unseen, inspires our greatness; Death then takes it all... away

Excerpted from
Musings On Universal Origins, and the Nature of Existence
authored by "The Scholar Unbound"

At the beginning of time, the universe was perfectly balanced.  All was made up of a single, primordial element, and all energies were spread evenly-- there were no stars, there was no void, there was no creation.  There is no true birth of a universe, they always were, and always will be.  The undiscovered, infinite universes are the play-toys of gods.  Sometimes they work in unison, sometimes alone.  Rarely do they work subtly-- for the beings which we call "gods" are almost omnipotent, almost omniscient, almost omnipresent in universes that they claim for themselves.  Where they yearn, worlds are created.  Where they rage, universes are irrevocably damaged.

But being this powerful does not put them above the petty desires we so closely associate with mortals.  Debauchery, cruelty, avarice, and what not are not unique to the natural denizens of the universes-- they are universal concepts, in the sense of them being in every universe.  Some of the gods believe that, in fact, the universes corrupted the more debased members of their kind, rather than the other way around.  The truth is something none can ever know, for the universes are the uncreated, the things that always were and will always be.  Even the gods are younger than the universes which they claim as their own.

Perhaps there is a greater power than the gods out there, guiding the universes in some greater plan.  Or perhaps it's just the fickle hand of chance, with no thought at all, no fate save for what we make for ourselves...


In this universe, one claimed by a god who never gave us his name, the standard creation procedure by the gods was not followed.  He just wanted this particular universe for his own personal playground, after all.  After creating the physical realm for him to enjoy, he began to toy with the metaphysical aspects... turning them in to personifications, one by one.  First he formed Love, the Compassionate, whom he coveted above all else-- and shut her away so that none could have her.  Then he created Pain the Sentinel, as well, intending to do the same thing to her as he did to Love the Compassionate... and yet, he could not have her, for by her very nature the pain he felt from being near her led him to be unable to withstand her.  And so, angry, he collapsed Pain's mind with various tortures, until she became Pain the Autistic, and was not able to interact in any way with the world around her... she lived in a universe in herself, where there was only Pain.

Learning from his mistakes, he then created Valor the Honorable and Rage the Wrathful, then set them against eachother rather than attempt to claim him as his own, all the while continuing his abuse of Love.  The deific arena swelled to include Courage the Inspirational and Pride the King as well, each one fighting for different reasons, and with different methods, all for the god's amusement.  Growing bored still in the endless time before mortals, the god formed a social function to match the warriors arena, and added to it Greed the Lonesome, Sleep the Dreamer, Sorrow the Mourner, and Muse the Unseen.  And yet, this was never enough, and so he mixed and matched each of them to his amusement, and yet despite his abuse, such as his complete control over them that they could not even desire to disobey, never mind actually do it.

Still bored, still restless, the god moved to create mortals, in an attempt to expand his decadent court.  To govern over them, he created Science the Lawgiver, Wisdom the Scholar, Death the Reaper, and then the final one, Hatred the Bloody.  Strangely, however, he was unable to control the minds of mortals as firmly as he could his previous creations, and so they began to converse with them... and give them strange new ideas.  Ideas that were not in his vision of how the universe was to be.  Mortals were always fickle creatures after all, and we still are.  We desired, we raged, we loved, we lived, and we died, no matter what he did to the Living Concepts.  And yet... we also felt pity.  But the god did not desire pity in the universe, and thus never personified that concept.

The universe doesn't work out that way, however.  As Hatred's tortures continued over hundreds of years, its hate turned inward, to self-loathing.  For god hated Hatred, as that is what she was.  So desperate, however, was she to escape her inevitable mind-shattering, that she sought the advice of the mortals.  Not strictly disobeying her master for he could recall her at any time in an instant, she tried to learn how they had survived the divine torment that they had been given.  Upon relating the pains, both physical and emotional, that god was putting her through, she saw the pity in their eyes-- the eyes of the things which crawled in the dirt, which starved and thirsted, which could not even bend reality to their will... and she wept.

The First Rebellion had begun at the instant that Hatred the Bloody had accepted their pity in to her heart, and become Hatred the Pitiful.  It lessened the pain that she felt, and made her feel strong again, as she had when she was first formed.  As she was living amongst the mortals, however, she turned her thoughts to the firstborn, Love... Love, the Compassionate, who cared for everything, and yet was locked away, unable to act on her compassion.  The newborn pity in her heart made her hatred turn outwards, towards the creator.  Taking with her Ictis, the First Knife, an artifact made from stone by the first human to try to work their will upon the world, the first to try to change it in their own image, Hatred confronted god within the arena, calling him out.

Laying before him a list of crimes, she built up the black hatred within her heart to hide the pity that was to truly power her rebellion.  Angered by this rebellion, god struck her down... but she rose up again.  And again, and again.  Moment by agonizing moment, step by futile step, Hatred moved through his divine power much to the shock and awe of her fellows and the mortals that were watching.  Even as the bolts became blasts, and the very essence of creation was turned upon her, she focused on her pity for Love, and pushed her will through Ictis, then plunged it in to god's chest.  At that instant, the mortals were rooting not for god, but for Hatred.  They chose the Deifics over the Creator, and his powers were removed leaving him as nothing but an angry immortal who knew everything in the universe.

This was not enough for Hatred, however.  She fell in to a cold, black rage that frightened even Rage the Wrathful, and literally beat god to death-- something that Death the Reaper thought should be impossible, for god was not within her purview, as a being from outside the universe.  In fact, it should have been impossible, even other gods who had visited this universe were unable to understand how it happened.  Gods themselves could not kill other gods, never mind mortals or other created beings.  This singular instance in all of creation resulted in the gods closing the universe off and investigating it... leaving it to evolve and change on its own instead of at the behest of the gods.

Freed from their obligations, the Deifics honored the mortals for freeing them, and blessed them with their virtues, before fading in to the shadows, to give the mortals freedom of their own.  And so they spread across the world, and over many generations, different cultures became attuned in different ways to different deifics, resulting in the various races.  The ambitious Humans held on to Hope and Pride, while the dour Dwarves held on to Science and Greed.  In their search for meaning, the Elves clung to Wisdom and Sorrow.  The fae Celestials held on to Sleep and Muse, and entered the Deific Forum, while the martial Daemons coveted Rage and Valor and turned the Deific Arena in to their own eternal bloody fighting pit.

Of those remaining, Death continued her eternal vigil, while Courage set out to inspire individuals.  Hatred the Pitiful helped heal Love, whom she had utterly fallen for, and then both of them helped bring Pain halfway back in to the world, so that she knew she was not alone any more.  The smile upon Pain's face was enough to make Sorrow's icy tears turn warm, and make the ever-dour Death crack a smile-- all of them had learned to pity their second sister, punished despite committing no crimes.  As the ages went on, the Deifics found themselves in the same boredom as their dead master did.

This time, it was Pain that provided a solution.  Though she could not properly communicate with the other Deifics, she found that she was able to enter the body of a dying mortal, and make them her Host.  She took their pain, and handed their soul to Death, and found... she could think.  She could talk.  Walking the land as a mortal made her feel happy; even the pains of mortals were like the finest wine compared to the suffering she had gone through trapped in her own mind.  And in the body of a mortal, she approached the Deific Forum and talked to her sisters in great lengths.  Even Death found mortal bodies useful, for they helped her further her understanding of her role.

These experiences deepened the character of each of the Deifics.  Science and Wisdom provided a system through which the Deifics would rotate, spending time as mortals as leisure whenever their duties in maintaining the universe were not backed up.  Hatred was the only exception.  Watching from afar, Hatred felt the loneliness she had before... her duties were twice as demanding as the other gods, and she was unable to keep up.  Her hatred for herself built up once more, bringing her the attention of Sorrow, whom called in the others to intervene.  Science and Wisdom created an automated secretary to fulfill Hatred's duties (and have to continually check upon them, leading to the diminishing of the Elven and Dwarven races), while Sleep and Valor guided the near-catatonic Deific in to the body of a willing mortal, whom Death had empowered with agelessness for this purpose and whom Love had gifted with the will to continue on through the ages until Hatred's recovery.

I still am not sure who this person is.  Is it someone that wallows in self-pity in a tower in a forgotten corner of a world?  Is it perhaps a secret mover of history, empowered by the weakest, yet strongest, of the Deifics?  The historical gold mine that would be this person's brain has long tantalized mortal scholars.  It is my theory that Sleep has made the identity of Hatred's host vanish from the pages of history through influencing the dreams of those who write it, or simply making us not care.  I have only avoided Sleep's attention because my focus is on the Deifics themselves-- I have taken a vow not to research this mortal's identity or nature, in exchange for this information.

Perhaps, some day, the glories or villainies will come out-- perhaps when Hatred the Pitiful has recovered.  Until then, the universe has far too much to study.  The origins of magic is one of them, and I will cover that in my next musings.  As always, I expect these writings to be declared heresy by the Human Church, but the knowledge I seek to disseminate will not be denied, so long as I follow the guidelines that Muse has laid out to me.  May your endeavors be as fruitful as mine.

-- The Scholar Unbound --

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writing Practice: Day 3

[Writer's Note:  A shorter post today.  Apologies for not updating, if anyone was paying attention to my incoherent writings and ramblings.  I've let myself get distracted too easily....]

Sleep, never bound, has a dream to wake the dead and end all rest
Science, cold and always thinking, filling worlds with its wonders
Hope, the fool, who knows everything; Wisdom has much to learn

Some things were fairly standard-- checking identity, equipment, and such.  Thieves Guild members were required to do it, to show that they were working within the spirit of the law even if not within the letter.  Sages of course were glad to carry identification, it often helped ease worries, making their work easier.  Rangers didn't have a system, but this Ranger was known to the town at least.  There were numerous Fighter guilds, although if Knight were here he would show his icon of favor from his lord as identification, something that he would sooner die than have stolen.  Mages had a system as well, because no one wanted them to go out of control anonymously, especially not the nine mages guilds... but Wizard wasn't in any of those.

When they finally found out her identity, it did nothing to ease the worries of the town guard.  "Blackheart the Indomitable?!?  That can't be right..."  Looking towards her companions, the guardsman explained:  "She died centuries ago, fighting Torus the Eternal..."  Everyone looked at her and she sighed, before reaching up to touch her throat.  Magic filled the scar over it, fueled by what little blood energy was left in her dagger, and she temporarily removed the scar to speak.  "Ah... ahem.  I also died defeating Chronus the Timelord, Calidia the Succuvore, and most recently, Ajaar the Utopian.  Many, many more before that.  I have not earned the title The Indomitable without reason... please allow us to move o--"  The magic keeping her scar from preventing her to speak ended, leaving her to cough, as blood leaks from inside in to her throat.

Sage rushed to her, instinctively trying to heal her, and Ranger and Rogue helped her sit down as she mentally cursed herself for not giving herself more time.  She could permanently heal these scars, and yet... they were memories of past deeds that should never have been done.  And her greatest failures...  Sage's magics wouldn't be enough to do anything but stop the bleeding due to the power of what caused her scars, but still, the scarred lips rose in a smile.  There is still good in this world...  "I'm not sure I believe you.  But your companions vouch for you, so I'll let you pass.  We do have... a request, however.  Yesterday, several of our guardsmen began to act erratically.  This morning, they were all gone, as were many of our townspeople.  That's why we were so suspicious.   We need you to look for them-- there's a reward in it, if you're interested..."

"Gone?"  Rogue and Ranger spoke in unison.  "Yes, just... gone.  Breakfast still in its pot, but weapons and armor gone.  It's like they were called to war by some militant god using mind control."  The two looked at eachother, and then to Wizard and Sage.  The latter spoke up:  "Did ... you see a Knight enter the village at any point?  Grey armor with silver decorations, bright red hair, and a greatsword with a sapphire in its guard..."  "We did have a knight,  actually, now that you speak of it.  He came in through the west gate, saying he was on a holy mission... but his was polished silver armor and gold decor, very ornate."  "That would be Laven the Knight, a former companion.  Perhaps he was taken with them... we'll do it without compensation."  Rogue looked dubious, but was shushed by Sage, who looked rather... determined.  "It may even be Laven's doing... if he fell..."

"WHAT?  Felicia, Laven wouldn't do something like that... take people from their homes!"  "Maybe... but how do we know we're still dealing with Laven the Knight, and not Laven the Crusader?  People change, Rowan... Not... not always for the better."  "Crusader...?  Ah shit... he might..."  Rogue looked shaken.  Despite their bickering, he had traveled with Laven for years-- before the adventuring group had really taken off.  They were practically brothers.  "Fine... I'll go look for him with you.  Maybe I can talk some sense in to him if you're right."  "IF anyone can, you can, Rowan."

The Guardsman let them talk it out, heading to finish off the paperwork needed to let them go. Adventurers... always such trouble.  And yet so many towns couldn't exist without them...


"I still can't believe you talked me in to this."  Rogue muttered, as he led the group through the streets.  He could track movement on the streets as well as Ranger could in the forest-- better in fact, if he could charm people and ask them questions.  But there was no one to ask... the place was almost dead.  Still, a person wearing full plate armor did NOT move stealthily.  And Knight-- Laven, whatever he called himself now-- was anything but unpredictable.  The path took them through the residential area, to the church in the center of the town.  "Figures that book-thumper would end up here.... wait, back up."   The double doors of the church burst open, a corpse flying through as Laven lowered his foot.  "So, you fiends come to your judgement willingly.  I will forgive you for your crimes-- aiding and abetting a blood mage with deicidal intent-- for you have been mind controlled.  But you, foul spellflinger, will suffer the same fate as this murderer here."

Wizard sighed, and took her knife to her hand again.  Healing her throat once more, she muttered "Why does this have to happen now, of all times?" before speaking up in response.  "Very well, Laven.  As has been passed down through the ages by Valor the Honorable, I will accept your duel.  But first..."  Laven lunged down at her, sword swung, as she spoke.  She appeared atop a fountain in front of the church, standing next to Love the Compassionate.  Even though it was a statue, she smiled again....  First, these three are not mind controlled.  I am merely... their friend.  Second... you are no longer a knight.  You have killed without honor.  And third..."  Laven smashed his blade through the statue to get to Wizard, who blinked away once more, this time ending up inside of the church.  "If you wish to duel, we will do so within the church of your dead god."

"Heretic!  He watches over us all, and he will guide my blade to your blackened heart!"  Laven became a blur as he launched himself in to the church, smashing through the unopened door and slashing down at her.  But at Rogue noted earlier, he was predictable, and Wizard dodged by jumping back... only to have golden energy lash out at her and send her rolling across the floor, ending up atop the altar.  "Your magic will not help you now, heathen murderer..."   "LAVEN, NO!"   Even before Sage finished her shout, Laven's blade was thrust through Wizard's chest, embedding itself deep within the marble altar and leaving her body to hang limply from it.  

Sage trembled as she saw the event.  The white glow of her staff began to take a decidedly red color... no one had ever seen her truly wrathful-- Sages learned to control their emotions, so that they could better heal their patients.  An uncontrolled Sage could never heal anyone properly... "I, Felicia the Sage, denounce you.  You are now Laven the Murderer, and I will bring you to justice or die trying."  Her staff's glow began to take the shape of a macehead at the top of the staff, and she pointed a finger at Laven, who drew the axes he took from his previous victim and, imbuing them with the same golden magic as his greatsword, used them to block the sagacious energies that attempted to imprison him.  

"You don't know anything about justice, you pathetic fool.  You side with thieves, and weaklings, and blood mages--"  He forced himself away from the energies, and launched himself at his former friend, forcing her to block his axe swings.  "-- even when you do side away from evil, you would sooner heal a fiend than punish its cruelty!"  With several overhead blows to distract her, Laven redirected one of his axes to strike at her undefended sixe... only to find himself blocked by Rogue.  "Laven... I won't let you kill her.  You may have forgotten what it's like to love someone, but I h--"  The thief's daggers shattered, leaving him to be cut deeply in to, the blow knocking him and Sage several feet over, crashing in to a statue just as an arrow embedded itself in one of Laven's hands.  

"I don't know anything about what you're fighting over, but someone doesn't just... turn on their friends like that, Laven!"  Ranger trambled in fear as she notched another arrow... but it was too late.  Her bow was cut in half by a thrown axe, which embedded itself in her gut.  "There is no need for friends, fool, when you have justice to dispense.  I will send you to meet god now... all of you."   

All four of them clutched their heads in pain, as the inhuman word was spoken.  Flowing from Wizard's corpse, a black and red mist formed in front of Laven, taking the form of a human.  "Did you not want to know my name, before you killed me, Laven the Murderer?  Or was it too much for you to bear... you who claims to speak in the name of a dead god?"  "DAEMON!  I WILL NOT SUFFER YOUR--" With a casual backhand, Knight was sent flying in to the fountain, as the surreal form knelt before Ranger.  "Do not worry, Jenna, I will not allow you to come to harm." 

"DO NOT MAKE PROMISES YOU CANNOT KEEP, DAEMON!"  The fallen knight shouted, sending the golden magic at her, lashing out wildly and wrecking the pavement.  Shielding Ranger with its body, the form turned and looked at him, eyes burning cold as it did so.  "Demon?  And yet, the blood of innocents is on your hands.  Hundreds of people, killed in a single night... what right do you have to judge?  If you wish to lash out at someone for angering your dead god, then you would be best served by lashing out at me.  If your guilty, blood-stained hands can still wield their weapons... if your tainted soul can still call upon the purity of Valor the Honorable.  If your bloodlust can ever be endorsed by Courage the Challenger.  Even Rage the Wrathful may turn away from your blackened heart, for you are not strong enough to sustain her."

Laven tried.... but he could not.  His newfound magic would not come to him... and his hands shook in... fear?  No.... remorse.  Guilt.  Self-loathing... like he had never known before.  So pathetic, so feeble... so unable to do anything... nothing but a mortal, and a stupid one at that.  As he sat there being drawn further in to his own mind, Wizard walked out, held by Sageand Rogue, who froze in their steps.  "Yes... it's time for me to sleep again... forgive me for not empowering you sooner... I did not know of the dangers your friends were in."  Wizard smiled and spread the hole that the stab had mde in her cloak open, allowing the god-thing to flow back in to her wound, which closed behind her.  "I know... I've been your vessel for thousands of years, after all.  Sleep well, Hatred the Pitiful."

Everyone stood in awe as they watched, even the town guard who had witnessed the last part of the fight.  "Oh dear... it looks like I have some more unwanted attention..."  She collapsed back in to Sage and Rogue, as Ranger moved to help her as well.  The head guard stepped forward, demanding an explanation.... but no one had one save for Wizard.  "An honorable man, tainted by the corruption of the world, tried to take justice in to his own hands.... but only lost his honor and his humanity in the process.  I do not recommend that the weak of heart look in to the catacombs below the temple... it is a bloody mess of corpses."  The guardsmen looked at eachother before rushing down to look, and to check for survivors... the head guardsman and two others keeping the injured four under arrest in the mean time.

"Wizard, you have a lot to tell us... you NEED to tell us."  Sage said, looking at her companion as if she never knew her before.  "I know... but forgive me, I hate what, and who, I am... only the desire to keep her from suffering lets me get through the day."  As rain began to fall, Rogue and Ranger were sent to be treated, while Sage held Wizard, letting her cloak keep both of them from getting ill.  "So... clich├ęd.  Somehow I think she's still up there... watching me.  Watching us all... Love the Compassionate knows no boundry... and she cries."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Writing Practice: Day two

[Writer's note:  I intended to submit this yesterday, but I didn't have a chance.  Today's submission will be pushed back a day.  So much for the 3k words a day challenge!  But I'll still make it to 21k words if I can.]

Will, bound for greatness, dreaming vividly for the good of all
Valor, the protector, learning, striving for the ultimate test
Pride the King descends to madness; Greed forever yearns... alone

The trip from the destroyed village of Hendric was peaceful.  Too peaceful, in fact... it was more accurate to say that it was dead.  Ranger-- there was no formal group to grant such a title unlike Knight or some other classes, thus Jenna needed only to think of herself as such-- was the first to point this out, fitting in to her new role nicely.  "It's almost as if the Necromancer infected the entire valley.  We should probably leave as fast as possible..."  "Aww, you're afraid of the big bad skellingtons?"  Sage shrugged.  "Don't tease the newbie, Rowan.  You didn't last that long against the evil adventurers either.  Laven, we need to grab you a hammer or something at the next town.  There's no flesh to cut, and the hammer will shatter bones easier."  "Aye, that we do.  You think you want a couple blackjacks, Rowan?"  "Don't mind if I do.  Always good to have back-ups. Jenna, anything on your shopping list?"  "A staff or spear.  Bows aren't made for hitting things."

The banter was pleasing to Wizard, though she did not participate in it.  It suited her place as the Wizard to stay quiet unless needed anyway-- nevermind the injuries she suffered so long ago, facing off against Ajaar the Utopian.  A madman, driven by Sorrow and Rage to rule the world, Ajaar was utterly unpredictable, and had captured Wizard, torturing her with knives, before she managed to take one of them.  As a Wizard, she had a sacrificial blade-- all of them did.  Most used it to sacrifice various spell materials, such as roots of various vegetables, or the blood of farm animals.  Three things were forbidden to be sacrificed in this way... the blood of humans, bones, and gold, for all three were representative of the three forbidden classes-- Bloodmage, Necromancer, and Deific Mage.

Wizard had, at one point, been all three of those.  But that was the past.  Now she was merely Wizard, sacrificing the electrons in the air in order to create lightning, or the mud in the earth in order to summon a stone spike to impale her enemies.  Back then, though... she was desperate.  Stabbing the knife she took from her captor in to him, she sacrificed all of his blood, and used the energy to banish him to the furthest reaches of the cosmos, to float forever amidst the horrors in the void between the stars.  In desperation not to be overcome by the lust for power, Wizard slit her own throat, and laid down to die.  How she didn't was beyond her knowledge.

"Hey, wizzy!  We should get you a staff as well.  Or maybe a sword.  I know you're not a Swordmage, but that dinky dagger won't help you that much against skeletons."  Brought out of her depression, temporarily, by Rogue's question.  It wasn't a bad idea.  A sword could also be used as a sacrificial blade-- anything with a properly honed edge could (though it had to be honed by the mage themself, to attune them to the blade).  It's the very reason that swordmages and battlemages existed, after all.  Cutting the air to gather charge, or to free up oxygen and hydrogen to allow for combustion would make her spells easier, if shorter ranged.  With a nod, Wizard assented to Rogue's suggestion, making Knight grin.  "Heh, what makes you think she can properly use it, though?  Only thing I've ever seen her use is that knife."  Ranger grinned.  "Only thing I've seen you use is your mouth, Laven."  "Ahaha, she has you there."  

Sage sighed, and stopped the group.  "We have company... I count five undead auras, under the ground in front of us."  Ranger muttered "Underground?  That's just unfair." as she readied her hatchets.  "Come on Jenna, at least you have axes.  My daggers might as well be bare hands against these things."  As they bantered, the undead opponents realized they had been noticed, and raised up from the ground.  Dirt melted off of them like sand, forming in to their attire and armor-- armor that ended up somehow... different and twisted.  Visions of their darker ambitions, perhaps... or maybe just a temptation.  Or a lie...

Knight's undead doppleganger, instead of his shining silvered platemail with greatsword, was standing in exquisite gold-embossed armor, wielding a royal blade and shield.  For Rogue, the leather armor and cape was replaced by a chainmail shirt and leather cloak, hood covering a shadowed, rotting face as it drew its poisoned blades.  Sage's counterpart wore tattered grey robes, a crown of crystal spikes upon its head as its black staff materialized in its hand, and next to her stood a skeleton with dual swords, full leather armor, and a repeating crossbow across its back.  But more peculiarly, Wizard's opposite stood as if it was entirely alive, its skin even becoming pinkish instead of pale as its wizardly hat formed upon its head, and a plain oak staff manifested in its hands.  

"Hey Wizard, why do you get the opposite that's alive?  I hate fighting undead."  As the five pairs squared off, Wizard against Mage, Sage against Lich, Ranger against Strider, Rogue against Bandit, Warrior against Slayer, the Wizard and Mage stood there, simply watching eachother.  None of them seemed ready to make the first move, until Mage spoke.  "Alive...?  That's impossible..."  It stood dumbstruck at its newfound life, and the comment shocked its undead companions, allowing the group to get the first strike upon their dopplegangers.  Now with the advantage, they began to corner the four, forcing them to stand back to back surrounded by the real copies.  Then, Wizard's soft voice spoke out in the minds of everyone here.  "We should leave now.  Nothing good will come of defeating them."  The other nine stood in shock at the comment.  "What... how DARE you ignore us!" the Slayer shouted, charging forth only to get kicked down by the Knight.  "Hey, when Wizard speaks, you listen.  Wizard, explain yourself."  

"These aren't dopplegangers.  They're the spirits of your ancestors, pulled across time and laid as a trap here.  The only exception... is me."  Wizard pulled her knife out, and laid a cut on her arm.  Covering the knife with blood, Wizard sealed the wound and then pushed the knife forward towards the Mage.  A hologram of a golden sundial appeared, rewinding itself as Mage began to vanish, before disappearing altogether along with the sundial itself disintegrated in to light.  "So, that's how I was revived, then." Wizard mused to herself, as she collapsed on to one knee.  "Make peace with your ancestors... you have no need to hate eachother."

The group looked at her in shock.  How was she excepted... and what exactly was Wizard?  So did the ancestors... they already knew what their role was, such was the magic within Necromancer's spell that they could not have remained ignorant of that.  But for a mortal to find it out so fast... and for a mortal to have no ancestor to call back?  Lich began to wonder how exactly this paradox started, as well, because she had recognized what was going on with Mage instantly.  "Time travel is stupid" Wizard muttered, and collapsed on her side.  Sage looked towards Lich, then ran to heal her companion, knowing that blood loss wasn't something to let slide lightly.  "Hm, so my descendant is a healer.  Either way you control life and death... even if our paths are different, I am pleased.  Especially since that one defeated Ulrik the Necromancer and freed me from my debt."  Amused, the Lich created a portal and stepped through, leaving its temporary companions to wreak revenge upon its captor's soul.

"Hmph.  So my descendant is a Knight?  At least you're good with a sword."  "Better tahn you, old man.  After all, I forced you to back up."  "Ahahahah, I think I'm fine with this.  That fat bastard pulled me out of Valhalla for his petty plans, but at least I can see that my blood has not been misspent by my descendants."  Strider nodded.  "I'm eager to rid myself of this unnatural form as well.  And you, Herald?"  Bandit shrugged, not speaking from under its mask, as he began to let himself go.  One by one, they vanished, the spell broken... the heroes stood there in anticlimactic shock.  "What ... the hell?"  Ranger shouted, then repeated herself all the louder.  Though Knight and Rogue said nothing, they certainly mirrored Ranger's shouted objection.  "Calm down... Wizard just helped us avoid some stupid nonsense."  "I just... I expected something more, Felicia.  And what the hell was with that Mage?  I thought you can't travel back in time?"  "You can't... or... I thought you couldn't.  I don't know what Wizard did, but that shouldn't have happened." 

"No, really, you think?  Come on Felicia, I think we really do need to turn her in this time.  Blood magic and deific magic both used in a single spell?  She has crossed too many lines..."  Rogue raised his eyes wide.  "Wait, that was deific magic?   How do you know?"  "Because only deific magic can defy the laws of nature like  that!"  Drawing his sword, Knight moved over the unconscious body of Wizard, and prepared to decapitate her.  "Laven, no!"  Sage moved, blocking the blow.  The force of the swing and the weight of the greatsword forced Sage on to her knees, though the enchantment on her staff held.  "Don't stop me, Felicia.  This is for the good of everyone."  Ranger moved to draw her bow and notched an arrow.  "I'm siding with Felicia here.  I don't know your Wizard very well, but even if she IS in the wrong, we can't be making hasty decisions about killing our friends."  "Yeah, Jenna's right.  Put the sword down, Laven."  Rogue moved to push against the sword with his daggers, helping Sage stand up despite Knight's great strength.  "You... all of you... you'd betray God for this... blood mage?"

"So you're a paladin now?  I thought you were a knight."  "I swore an oath!  I let her blood magic slide because she had not shown herself to be evil, but... I cannot forgive Deific magic.  I will not let a Deific magic user threaten the throne of God!  Despite his words, he let up on his strength, until Sage and Rogue were able to force him to sheath his sword behind his back.  "I'm going... I cannot stay with this group any more.  I can't let up on any more of the evil stewing within."  Turning his back on the others, he walked away, ignoring their complaints.  "Goodbye, Felicia... I hope this does not lead to your doom."  Sage was crushed, and dropped to her knees.  Though she could never act on her feelings, they were still there. Rogue hugged her, honestly caring and not wanting to take advantage of her loneliness.  "Wow... I... never knew Knights were like that."  Jenna said, heading to prepare a camp on a nearby hill.  The party wasn't likely to move much further than this today... and the sooner they had a defensible camp, the better.


"I hope you're happy, Wizard..." Sage said, still going through her emotions.  yet the look on Wizard's face was anything but.  Just more of that self loathing that Sage had seen earlier... much more in fact.  Sage did not get her title without being at least a little sagacious, and psychology and sociology were required studies for healers anyway... she could see that Wizard was already beating herself up over it, inside of that scarred up head.  A pained whisper came from Wizard's scarred throat in response, almost more like a mouthed breath than a whisper.  "I'm not... but ... some things had to be done..."  Coughing up blood, Wizard turned away, leaving a worried Sage to try another healing spell upon her.  

Rogue continued to sharpen his blades, asking:  "Is Wizzy gonna make it?"  "Yes, I think so.  I certainly hope so... she has some questions to answer."  "Yeah, no kidding."  Ranger said, finishing up their shelter and keeping the fire from the wind with a few large stones.  "Our priest had told us that no Mage had tried Deific magic in centuries.  If that's actually what it is... well, I'd be surprised."  Wizard sat up, and sage pushed her pack behind the hooded woman.  "It wasn't... deific."  The wizard shrugged, using magic t o replicate the sounds taht her throat could no longer do.  "That nonsense term... no such thing as deific magic anyway.  Gods don't use magic.  They're another level of beings entirely."  This explanation at least would make sense to the others, Wizard thought, perhaps it'd save her from saying something truly heretical.

"I guess, but what exactly did you cast back there?"  "It doesn't have a name.  Like Jenna said, it hasn't been used in centuries.  It doesn't make sense, not to mortal minds... it's more fair to say the magic was using me, to create a causal link to prevent the paradox that had happened, but in doing so it caused paradox that needed to be prevented in the first place, turning it in to an infinite causal loop... I died shortly after I defeated Ajaar, decades ago.  Then I appeared somewhere else... lived up until this time, and met with my past self just as that Necromancer revived me, and knew instinctively that I had to send her back.. creating a knot in time, as it were.  Your priests call it deific magic because supposedly only a deity can truly understand what's going on."  Even sage looked dubious at that explanation, yet Wizard seemed to think it sufficed.  At the very least, they thought she was hiding things from them still.  It couldn't have been that simple or that complex....

Sage recalled hearing the woman say "time travel is stupid"  shook her head.  "So it's time magic then?  No wonder the priests would forsake it.  You could do more damage with that than with what they say Deific magic is.  But you used blood, not gold." Wizard meekly smiled and shrugged, not having the magical energy to speak again yet, she simply let it slide.  There was no contradiction in her mind, at least, but to those not experienced in magic use, they didn't know how magical energy wasn't really all that different between the various forms.  Blood was a source of energy for everything, which is why blood mages are so powerful.  And why they, took, were forbidden.  "Let her rest.  We all need to sleep.  I'll take first watch tonight." Ranger nodded, and Rogue nominated himself as last watch, leaving Sage to take middle.  

The night was cold and dreary, the only sound being the mild wind that picked up only a couple times each hour ,and even then it was quiet-- no rustling leaves, no spooked animals, no hunting predators... the forest was dead.  Even the air in it felt dead, and Rogue woke them all up early to have breakfast at the dying campfire so they could get out of it as early as possible.  The woods would be haunted soon, he suspected, remembering some tales from the Thieves' guild of things similarly happening in the heartwoods of each nation.  They were haunted, and any adventurers that came out were twisted... and cruel.  "Uh.. shit, I just thought of a problem.  Felicia?  Do you have any way of indicating that we are not evil when we arrive at town?  After what's happening to these woods, they may think us evil adventurers, not good."  "hm.  I suppose I can use a bluelight spell.  It is harmful to the eyes of innately evil beings..."  

With a shrug, she asks:  "Do you really think it's going to be that bad?"  "Yeah... this is the last nation for it to happen in, so there's been time for rumors to go around the thieves' guilds about what's happened to every other nation... it's like... the nations, and indeed the spirit of adventure, are rotting from within, and they say nothing good can come out of these forests untainted."  Ranger responded:  "No animals have come out yet... they're all hiding, all running away, or all dead.  So I can see why they'd say that...especially if each adventurer had to fight their undead dopplegangers-- I don't know how many of them could have won in a normal fight."

Wizard began to wish she had a staff already.  The blood loss from the two fights has not been easy on her.  The others-- aside from Knight, who recovered quickly with his immense fortitude-- had taken mostly minor injuries, but Wizard had been hurt more in her fight with the Necromancer than she let on, and then she had to sacrifice so much blood to send herself back in time... she was looking forward to a hot meal and a warm bed more than anyone else in the group.  Not that they were looking forward to it much less than she... none of them were ascetics like Knight was, and even Sage could enjoy the comfort of a warm tavern room, sitting next to a candle reading a book.  Rogue no doubt would try to seduce a young lady.  Ranger, however, was unlikely much like the idea of reporting the news from her village... still, she had friends in nearby towns, so at least she could take comfort in meeting them again.

And so, with both hesitation and joy, they broke from the forest and came upon the town of Eldricsburg, and hailed the guardsmen atop the walls.  It took an hour before the doors were open, but they were allowed in... only to find themselves escorted to the guardhouse under the guidance of Sage's blue light.  

"We have some questions for you.  You're the first ones to come out of the Hendricsfir alive..."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Writing practice: Adventurers

Love, bound and broken, dreams vivid nightmares til the end of time
Courage, shattered, always struggling, cannot right the wrongest crime
Rage descends to bloody murder; Hatred forever burns... cold

Atop a cliffside, a group of adventurers waited in a suitably heroic pose, overlooking the next town.   The normal group for such a thing was, of course, a warrior, a thief, a healer, and a mage-- and this one was no exception.  They'd be immediately recognized as adventurers by the town, and the town would simultaneously rejoice and cringe at their arrival.  After all, they were there to solve problems that the town could not easily solve themselves, and yet, at the same time, they always brought trouble with them.  Thieves were the most obvious trouble, having earned their name quite well, but so too could warriors cause mischief, being arrogant and boastful of their martial prowess.  While the practitioners of the healers' white magics were welcome almost anywhere, mages practicing other forms of magic were all mistrusted, because most of them were highly destructive-- while they could be used in constructive ways, so few of the adherents did so that they were essentially unheard of.

Although full of vices, they were also full of virtue as well.  Those cursed with the adventuring spirit were simultaneously blessed with it; thieves made it a code of honor that they would not take more from the poor than was necessary, and often gave to charity what wasn't needed-- indeed, anonymous and questionable donations were oftentimes the only thing keeping some charities running.  Warriors put their lives on the line to defend those weaker than them, simply as a matter of course, and many a town had given one honorable burials.  Healers would work themselves exhausted to mend those in need, and mages would work in the background to protect the people from things best left unknown.  Thus was the world of Ametrias kept in relative peace... and stagnation.

For the village of Hendric in the nation of Masrica, however, the heroes would be too late.  Not that they had any warning... the several dozen individuals that made up the little hamlet went on with their lives, not knowing how soon they were all going to be snuffed out.


"Kind of a shithole, isn't it?"  "Be polite, they're going to provide you with tonight's meal."  The Knight and the Rogue had the same argument they had always had, every time they came across one of these villages.  Invariably, the Sage and the Wizard stayed quiet.  The former because she was trying to resist bashing the two over the head with her staff for their constant bickering, and the latter because... well, no one knew.  The Wizard never talked.  No one knew what they looked like underneath that hood, and not a single inch of skin was revealed.  Knight referred to them as "the most powerful mute in the world", as a jest-- without a voice, however, the Wizard was very restricted in what spells they could cast.  Still, Wizard had never failed them, somehow always casting the right cantrip for the situation, the weak yet versatile spells only useful in specific situations.  "Hey Wizz, magic us some featherfall will you?  The cliff looks steep."  The Knight shrugged.  He would of course have no problem, even if he fell down the hill his armor and undeniable toughness would get him through with little more than scratches.  And it's not like he was worrying about the Rogue, whose athletic and acrobatic abilities led to many circus related jokes being given out by the Knight.

But the Knight, of course, loved the Sage-- she had yet to return his affections, citing her oath of celibacy, and her dedication to healing.  The Rogue shared his affections for the Sage, but was perfectly happy with using his charms to seduce the natives of the various villages they went to.  It was almost too stereotypical, in fact, and in fact, and the group found themselves considered so generic that no one really remembered their passage.  The only thing really unique about them was that no one knew anything about Wizard.  No one knew his name... or even his gender-- it was assumed that Wizard was a male because almost all mages were male.  it just fit the stereotype that the group seemed to embrace so well.  The group struggled to define themselves and push themselves out of obscurity, but it seemed as if they were destined to fade away.

And then... Rogue noticed the Wizard's response.  A hand outstretched from within the cloak Wizard always wore had a single outstretched finger, pointing towards the town.  As everyone turned to look... it was burning.  Quickly, Wizard started climbing down to the town, Rogue following shortly afterwards.  Knight grabbed Sage's hand, and they all began to move down the treacherous path far too quickly for comfort.  Hendric was not a major town, more of a small collection of hovels really, but where other adventurers would simply skip by it and see it as beyond their help, the adventuring spirit was far too great in those four meager adventurers.

As Rogue began opening doors and windows to check for survivors, Knight burst through walls to rescue those he could see that were in the greatest danger.  Sage began to set up a triage, and Wizard summoned snow upon the village, directing the cold winds of a snowstorm to the biggest of the fires.  But Wizard seemed distracted... "What's wrong, wizzy?  Wolf got yer tongue?"  Wordlessly, the spellcaster pointed down the street... at the being that had caused this fire.  Four adventurers... dark shadows of what they had become.  Draped in black armor, Blackguard's cruel laugh echoed throughout the firestorm.  Baron tossed the coin he was flipping in to his bottomless sack, and took out his dueling blades with a wicked grin.  Assassin, ever-quiet, was already cloaking herself in shadow, as Necromancer's bonecrafted armor glowed with a sickly green light.

"Laven, get out here!  I think we have real trouble now!"  The Rogue shouted to the Knight, as he drew his twin daggers.  Magic blades he earned from an Elven lord, through entertaining him with feats of prowess.  They shined brighter blue than he had ever seen them glow. Warrior's greatsword, too, shone a soft silver, as Sage shielded her companions.  Wizard began making hand signals, and the Rogue and Knight nodded to Wizard's plan.  After all, when Wizard got a plan, it always worked.   Though a mysterious mute who never took off their mask, Wizard was considered the most trustworthy of the four adventuring companions, at least by the companions themselves.  Wizard, after all, would do whatever it takes to both complete the mission and get everyone out alive in the process.  Even if it meant that Wizard had to suffer for it-- and suffer they did.

First up came assassin, striking where she should have been unexpected-- at Sage's back.  Rogue, however,  already predicted the attack, and with Wizard's warning, he was ready-- parrying the vicious poisoned claws of the assassin, and beginning a duel that would impress royalty.  Knight, however, had already received his orders, and worked in concert with Rogue to force Assassin to dodge his blade-- right in to the awaiting daggers of Rogue.  "Nice work, Rowan.  Wizard, keep an eye on the others!"  The two continued double teaming the assassin, cornering her and bleeding her out one by one, as Wizard began to place elemental barriers between them and the rest of their dark counterparts.  Necromancer and Baron were quite willing to simply wait for the spellcaster to waste its energy on containment, while Blackguard marched through as if immune to anything Wizard would do.  And so Sage stepped in.  Her staff enchanted to be as hard as iron, she knocked Blackguard's swing wide off of the Wizard, and released a blast of pure magical force to knock him back in to the wall of lightning.

Forcing Assassin to withdraw-- too injured to fight on-- the two fighters rushed forward to protect their beloved, although the highly defensive Sage seemed to be having no problem pushing aside the Blackguard's attacks even if she could never land a hit.  Assassin slinked away, abandoning her erstwhile allies, as Blackguard found himself cut down by the efforts of Rogue and Knight. But even in his last breath, he grabbed his backup mace and smashed it against Rogue's head, sending him flying back.  "ROWAN!  Laven, cover me!"  "Right!"  The knight finished off the dying Blackguard, as the Wizard's spell ended.  Baron rushed forth with the appeal of a swashbuckler, countering every strike that Knight delivered, inflicting many ,many minor wounds upon him.

Necromancer and Wizard began a duel of spells and counterspells, their quiet duel showing them standing still as Necromancer's sickly aura grew and grew... and yet Wizard never showed even the slightest spark of magic outside.  The sigils and magic words from the Necromancer slowly become more and more visible, more audible... as Baron finally forced Knight to yield, dropping to one knee from his injuries, and Sage cried out "Laven!", the Necromancer released his true spell.... from all around, the dead villagers began to shed their skin.  Even those that were alive did so while screaming in agony, as they had all been marked for death by the Necromancer's poisonous treason days before.  It was to be the first of a glorious undead army... Blackguard the general, Baron the financier, and Necromancer the powerhouse.  Assassin taking care of anyone who got in the way.  It still would, mused Necromancer.

But now with his "allies" killed, he'd resurrect them and control them directly, giving HIM more power.  He would have to thank these adventurers, by making them also generals within his glorious army of death.  And so he did not warn Baron as the first Skeleton thrust its bone sword in to his neck from behind, making Sage scream and back away as she saw the horrors that Necromancer had summoned.  Cruelly, Sage felt blows on her back as well, bony hands beating her as the Necromancer listened to her screams.  All the while, Wizard was stuck in a complex trap that had been lid, and was unable to help.  As her eyes blurred from the pain, Sage looked at Wizard, and thought she saw their face for the first time, hiding in the shadows under their black hood.  And the last thing she heard was a woman's voice...

 "Rest, Felicia."


Knight was the first to awaken, his unbelievable durability allowing him to see the final part of Necromancer and Wizard's duel.  The bone army had been decimated somehow, charred bones, blasted splinters, and shattered slurries of bonemeal were the only evidence of their existence, as Wizard unleashed spell after spell after spell upon the Necromancer.  Despite the horrors that had been inflicted, Knight could not help but feel pity for the fool, as he struggled to maintain his defense against the onslaught.  How much had Wizard been holding back until now?  The hood was down, to reveal long, flowing brown hair, and in her hands-- and the face was definitely female, albeit scarred up by torture-- was a sacrificial dagger.

And then it was over-- Wizard thrust the dagger in to Necromancer's heart after distracting him with a flash-bang cantrip.  Pulling it out, Wizard stood in shocked horror as he watched the dagger draw the blood from his body until he withered in to a dessicated corpse.  Moving back, Wizard whispered "Rest, Laven." and he felt the tiredness return, and slumped over once more.  Wizard sighed and rubbed her throat, the scar preventing her from speaking without the aid of magic.  It was going to be annoying answering questions from them after this.  But she dare not risk using an amnesiac spell on someone so injured as this.  Besides, she LIKED these people.  And so she began using the blood magic stored within her dagger to heal them ,and sheltered them from the snowstorm in a stone building whose walls withstood the attack.

It would be days of recovery before they could move, both physically, and for Wizard, spiritually.  The use of blood magic on those with evil hearts is never pleasant, and she needed the time to purge the Necromancer's evil from herself so she did not succumb to his own rotten ambitions.  She answered no questions from her allies, becoming mute once more.  Perhaps they'd reject her like her previous group did.  As she sat there in self-loathing, Wizard dozed off, leaving the rest of the group to wonder at what exactly their mysterious companion was.  Knight explained what he saw and heard, as did Sage, and even Rogue confirmed it wit ha subtle look under the hood-- Wizard had either forgotten or didn't have a chance to recast the illusion over her face this time, so tired she was from the duel.

"Personally, I think we should trust her still.  I mean, blood magic is bad but... she only used it to help us.  I think her heart is in the right place."  "Stop thinking with your crotch, Rowan.  She needs to be turned in as a witch... I mean, I don't really want to, but it's the law.  Blood magic is banned."  Sage sighed, and shook her head.  "I don't think she WANTED to use it, Laven.  Besides... we all saw her face now.  She may not have learned it willingly.  She's a wizard, not a witch, and I know I'm going to treat her that way."  Knight and Rogue looked at eachother, and shrugged.  They could always go against Sage's wishes... there was no appointed leader of the group.  They were just friends... and yet that's also what kept them from acting on Knight's suggestion.  "Fine... I don't really want to do that to her anyway.  Rowan, where are you going?"  Rogue shrugged as he headed out.  "I'm going to loot their corpses.  At the very least, we should separate the tainted stuff from the good, and destroy it."

"Good idea, Rowan.  Laven, go help him.  I'm going to stay by Wizard, maybe talk to her when she wakes." The look of utter self-loathing on Wizard's face was more than enough to move Sage.  She had seen that look before... they all had.  Most of the time, it led to suicide, and yet curiously, Wizard had shown no evidence of trying to commit suicide over the months that they had spent traveling with her.  She couldn't help but hug the woman, trying to comfort her in her dreams.  Perhaps someday she would open up a bit more, but Sage doubted that would be today.  Still, she had to try.


"The thrice-damned evil bastards here don't have a single item untainted.  All of it will make you evil by using it."  "What Rowan means is that it is powerful... but comes at a price.  It increases the bad emotions when you use it.  I've come across this before... nothing good comes of this kind of thing, no matter how well intentioned you are in using it."  "Really, Laven, you have?  Want to tell the story?"  "No.  Also, don't touch me.  I'm not sharing your bed."  "Hah, you old flirt."  Annoyed once more, and yet also to some extent amused, Sage bapped both of them on the head gently with her staff, letting it clang against their respective helmets, steel and leather.  "Quiet, you dorks.  Any survivors?"  "What, other than us?  Yeah, we found one girl in a well.  We were actually coming back to find a rope or something."  "Poor thing looks like she's been down there since before the attack... I wonder what happened?"  

Certainly she was eager to get out.  Cold and wet, she had to sit by a campfire made by Wizard, who had still said nothing to any of her teammates, and let herself be wrapped in one of the extra cloaks that Rowan kept (pretty much for this specific kind of situation).  "Well Jenna, we can bring you with us, at least until the next stop.  I don't think you're much suited for adventuring, at least not in your current state."  "Uhm... thank you.  And, well... I was practicing to be a ranger... then one day, a wizard came by... looking just like... that one over there... and my mother pushed me in to the well at night and told me to stay quiet."  She took a hunk of bread and ate it, a little too quickly.  After a few coughs, she continued.  "I heard a fight going on, and then it was quiet for a day... then everything was on fire.   Then you helped me out."

"So, just like Wizzy over there?  Hm.  Did you catch a glimpse of their face?"  "No... I uh... I didn't really get a good glimpse of his face.  I did hear his voice though... it was... soothing.  Compelling even... I think he mind-controlled the village."  "Hm ,maybe it was that necromancer?  But I didn't find any robes in his gear that would match Wizzy's."  "Besides, he was much bigger than our Wizard anyway.  Perhaps it was an ally of the evil adventurers?  sent ahead to cause trouble...crap.  I'm going to be on watch tonight, aren't I?"  "Hey, good guess, Laven.  You have some thinking meats in there after all!"  Laven punched Rowans' shoulder and the two laughed, making the girl smile.  "I think I'll go with you then.  I don't really want to hang around a village of skeletons...  

"Well, welcome aboard, Jenna.   We'll see if we can scrounge up some ranger gear for you, so at least you'll be able to take some low level contracts once you get to the next town over.  Just... try not to get depressed.  None of us are that good at talking people out of suicide..."  "What?  Oh gods no, I wasn't contemplating suicide.  I might stick with you though.  At least until I get good enough to work on my own."  "That's fine with me.  What about you, Felicia?"  "Yes, welcome aboard our little circle of friends.  Get some rest... you need it.  We all do.  Except for you, Laven."  The Knight groaned, and the group had a good laugh at his expense... even Wizard seemed amused.

Perhaps, Wizard thought, this group might work for me...