The heat lingered like a wet cloth, even though the sun had set a good hour earlier. Elyssa leaned on the wall behind her, the stones still warm from the sun. She could hear the faint music coming from inside the Serpent Heads Inn. The water in front of her glittered in the moonlight and she closed her eyes keeping that image in her head.
He had sought her out and asked her to go north, back to her old ties…memories she has tried to burry deep inside her. I never be ready, she thought.
Rumours were going round about a harsh cold that was tormenting the North. Making every hermit coming down from the mountains seeking shelter in more populated areas. She believed that everything is connected, like silver strings moving through the earth and skies. There was no coincidence that he asked her to go north. If the balance had shifted to one side... There will be consequences... Something was hiding in the cold North, something every bit as terrible as Yig.
Time to go back to Cimmera. I’m sure choosing my timing.
Ygliss has been released from limbo and this is sending a lot of tremors in the 'force'. In the far north something snarls in the icy blizzard and in the depths of Aquilonia a tremor can be felt.
Last edited by Angel-of-Sins; 4th January 2011 at 20:19..
Tielan sat alone upstairs in the trading post of Summeria's Hold, home of the Hand of Ibis and temporary shelter for one or two of her people and some of Kathal Chieftain's kinsmen too.
She was turning the object in her hand over and over thoughtfully, then stopping occasionally to stare intently at it again.
The darkly jewelled dagger seemed to move in her hand as she looked at it yet she could feel no movement. Phurbas of Dark Wings, Teleia had called it in her notes.
Shivering involuntary, only partly from the cold, she lay the dagger back on the folded red fabric in the box, closed the lid and continued to read the notes she'd found with it from Teleia.
Unfamiliar names and locations jumped from the pages in a hand she recognised as Telia's own. Sorcerors, a demon of chaos and darkness, rituals, and a hidden key to help bring the demon back. Something Balorac wanted to do really badly and should be stopped from doing at all costs. And what had happened to the rings she'd copied that day in Akhet? Had Teleia passed them on to anyone? There was no mention in her notes. It made no sense.
She sighed heavily, placed the notes carefully back in the box alongside the mysterious dagger, and leaned her head against the wall. Why did Teleia have to leave her now? and why had she left the dagger with her?
Nothing she could do about it while the frozen mountains held her in their grip. She frowned and rubbed her forehead thoughtfully. She'd have passed the problem to her Elders before, but now...........
.....but now, she had more pressing worries. Find Somewhere to live first,she thought to herself. Food to hunt, a place to sleep. She pulled the pelts around her and tried to rest. Kathal and Cedric would be back in the morning, hopefully, with news of the expedition. Maybe they'd know what to do.
Something Cedric said in the tavern had been niggling at the back of her mind for days now. That there might be more to the bad weather than just - bad weather.
Checking she was alone in the Feast Hall, she brought the box down from the sleeping area above and placed it on the table, lifting the lid slowly and peeking inside. It was still there. Deep down she knew it would be. Nestling in the folds of Teleia's red cloak, blinking challengingly at her. She took the notes and reached in to lift the dagger from it's hiding place but pulled her hand away suddenly and closed the lid again firmly.
She needed to talk to somebody - but who would understand?
Last edited by Tielan; 21st January 2011 at 09:18..
She'd heard from Cedric that the Lady Elyssa was back in Cimmeria and had stopped off in Conarch.
She wrote a brief note for her and sealed it carefully in the box along with Teleia's own research and the dagger, handing it to the rider and sending him to Conarch in the hope of finding her still there.
This dagger was left with me for safekeeping by Teleia before she returned to her homeland. I think you will know better than I what significance it holds, and what needs to be done with it. I do not want this object to fall into the hands of the Vanir and I believe it will be safer with you.
Be safe in your travels,
Hoping she'd done the right thing, she watched the rider till he disappeared, then turned and headed back into the valley.
One tale the Settlement of Dinog often tell in dark winter nights, were the tale of Gorm Heimdul, Chieftain of Diong and a young warrior called Rann.
There were several murders during the time that followed the darkest months of the year, one night a female victim was sacrificed close to the village walls. The remains of the poor girl´s body were found shattered over the landscape. The cultist had not only been able to scarify the girl close to her home, but managed to get away without being seen. After that cruelly defiant gesture, the cult committed several murders in broad daylight. The native inhabitants of the region lost all confidence in the clan and their ability to stop the slashing’s and killings of the powerful Stalker men. There were talk about that the cultists might truly have the ability to shapeshift into humanoid dragons and to fade unseen into the shadows. Some whispered that the chieftain himself was too close to the cult, maybe in fact a member himself.
The villagers were becoming unnerved. They were trying to stop an enemy who was essentially invisible. They struck without warning after preselecting their victims by a process that evaded all attempts to define it. There was no way to determine who the cult's next victims would be or to guess where they might strike.
One summer night a young man called Rann was awakened by the warning growl from his dog. When he rose to investigate, a four-foot-long, barbed arrow whistled by his head, narrowly missing him and embedding itself in the wall. The next morning by the camp fire, he learned that two of his friends had also barely escaped death that previous night.
Rann decided to attempt to set a trap. On the path to a village where several slayings had already taken place, he sent two of his best men, posing as easy targets. The two walked side by side toward the village while Rann and a dozen other warriors concealed themselves in the bushes and snow at the side of the path.
Suddenly, issuing the blood-curdling shriek of an attacking dragon-like humanoid, a tall woman in dragon robes charged headlong at the two men, swinging a large club. The young man struggled with the leopard man, but before Rann and the other men could arrive on the scene, the cultist had smashed in the boy's skull with the club and fled into the bushes.
Rann had lost one of his best warriors, but the knife that the young man still held in his hand was covered in blood. They would now be able to search for a woman with a severe knife wound.
Rann was about to have some men take the bodies of the two men to the burial grounds when he had a sudden flash of intuition that the cultist woman might return to the scene of the slaughter. While the others searched the neighboring villages, Rann hid himself behind some bushes overlooking the trail.
When the moon was high on the night sky, just as Rann was beginning to think about returning to the village, a nightmarish figure crawling on all fours emerged from the snow, pounced on the young boy's corpses, and began clawing at their faces. But rather than claws raking the body, Rann caught the glint of a two-pronged steel claw in the moonlight. The killer had returned to complete the cult ritual of sacrifice. Rann advanced on the Stalker woman, and the robed murderer snarled at him as if she were truly a big reptile. When she came at him with the two-pronged claw, Rann imbued his sword into her chest.
With Rann's act of courage, the natives of the region had been provided with proof that it was possible to fight against the cultists. With their newfound courage they faced the chieftain of Diong, whom they suspected had a larger part in why the cult had such a hold in the vicinity. When they raided the chieftain’s house, Ranns men found a dragon mask, a dragon-skin robe, and a steel claw.
During the chieftains captivity the cultists increased their slaughter and among some of the victims were the wife and daughter of Gorm Heimdul, the imprisoned chieftain. The desperate village inhabitants had hoped that the sight of the mutilated bodies of his family would anger Gorm Heimdul into betraying the cult members who had so obviously turned on him, but the shock proved too much for the chief. When he saw the bloodied corpses of his wife and daughter and realized how viciously his fellow men had betrayed him, he collapsed and died of heart failure.
Ice, snow, and rock finally gave in and sided, tumbled alongside the cave wall. The sound roared like a trapped beast. When the snow settled in the cave cathedral, a large rock had sided loose and was imbedded deep into the snow a few meters from the wall. It stood but 30 meters high, swaying back and forth until it reached its equilibrium and became still.
A red light flickered in the darkness. Something was alive... and by each moment the light got stronger. From within its core a pulse emerged and the nearby snow moved slightly.
Nearby a snarl was heard in the deep woodlands...Finally they were together again.
Something has been set free from its bounds in the Mountains, something that should have been kept at peace.
The man who calls himself Darshan Singh looks at the small parchment laid out in front of him.
The note is covered with minute glyphs.
The writing is in a Khorajan language that is spoken by only a handful of people, the survivors of a relentless and seemingly senseless manhunt that happened ten years before, and resulted in the demise of peaceful people of shepherds.
But the language in those glyphs is only revealed if one were to use a certain ring of translation that only the operatives of the secretive Eye of Blackthorn carry.
Unless you are Darshan Singh and you can read what is written on the parchment as if it is your mother's tongue.
And the writing doesn't leave any mysteries either: Rahul is due back in Akhet a day from now, on a Khitan ship called the Green Dragon.
Seemingly innocent words that entice the peaceful and eloquent Darshan Singh to utter the worst profanity in many years.
There was a trail of blood leading into the cave. Wet paw marks with splashes of purple. Some marks were older, but it was difficult to distinguish in the beaten tracks. The whole area felt wrong and Elyssa kept looking over her shoulder. She kneeled and rubbed the blood between her fingers. It had not yet coagulated. A snarl from deep inside the cave sent shivers down her spine, but yet she drew her sword and continued slowly deeper into the darkness of the cave.
She kept close to the wall and from what she could guess, the cave turned slightly to her right. She heard something big move a bit further inside the cave and unexpectedly an adolescent wolf bolted past her out of the cavern.
“Whooooaa.. easy there..” Elyssa stepped as close to the wall as possible, keeping her eyes on the wolf and back again into the darkness. The young wolf ran away and started to howl a distance from the mouth of the cave.
“Agrua Gaharah Dam Kana!” The cry came from deeper inside the cave.
Here we goes, was all she had the time to think before another voice answered the ancient growl. “Agru Gaha Da Kana to you too!”
“What is this... !!” Elyssa emerged behind two young girls with a drawn sword. The cave had turned to the left and was sparsely lit by two torches that the two girls were carrying. She looked from one girl to the other. One of the girls began wavering. “I still think its best we leave...”
Some feet away from the three of them lay what seemed to be a man with a goat like mask. A gargantuan wolf like shadow hovered over him and seemed to tear at the goat's head of the lying man. The shadow was dark and vaguely wolf like, and seemed to fill half of the cavern.
The other girl, who seemed to be the leader of the two, finally got her tongue back. “Oh shite … Hey lady. We don't want any trouble. We just stumbled across this thing. We got nothing to do with this!”
The first girl nodded enthusiastically. “What she said...”
The man bellowed and howled, and then bleated like a goat, as he was being tossed into the ear like a meat puppet by the snarling shadow beast. The scene filled them with an irrational fear, tumbled down over them. Elyssa couldn’t help feeling it was something far too familiar to that fear.
“This is not working.. “ Elyssa stepped in between the two girls and closer to the man deep inside. “You two might help to get that abomination out of here. ?” She looked questionably from one girl to the other.
“I don't want nothing to do with this ****ing thing. Magic isn’t' my thing lady. He's all yours.”
The beasts yanked and tear at the man's goat's head, and he seemed to exude the same sort of black vapour that the beast is apparently made off.
“So be it them...“ Elyssa muttered and moved forward. Behind her she heard the running footsteps of the two girls bolting out of the cave.
The beast’s growl seemed to echo to all sides of the cavern, but somehow the sound seemed to take a distinct human aspect.
“This ends here... “Elyssa took a deep breath and rushed forward with her sword high and attacked the beast. The black dark vapour engulfed her completely.
A man walks into the cool halls of the inner sanctum of the Cult of Set, in Khemi proper. The rustling of his fine cotton robes is the only sound, as the soles of his slippers are custom made to eliminate any sound while walking.
The other man looks up from his desk and smirks.
"Set's Blessings, my brother. What brings you here on this early hour?
Will you not be late for your morning rituals, hmm?"
The 'brother' answers the question by dropping a papyrus scroll on the desk, adding a look of urgency in lieu of words.
"And what am I supposed to be looking at?"
The other man offers in a soft voice. "Complaints. Lots of complaints."
The ast priest behind the desk, dressed in the official robes of someone in the higher echelons of the Administration of Set, goes through the list and snorts.
"And who might be this disturber of His peace that has gotten the faithful of Akhet district all riled up?"
The man with the soft voice smiles thinly.
"One of yours. Well, he used to be one of yours. His name is Settrah."
The face of the ast priest hardens.
"And what has my 'prodigy' been up to this time? Don't tell me he burned another infidel in the market square?"
The man with the soft voice shakes his head.
"Nothing like that... yet. But he went from preaching the gospel of Yig in the streets, to going into the taverns and threatens the citizens with hell and damnation while they are enjoying a quite drink or a courtesan."
The ast priest shrugs.
"It is good that some of them sit less comfortably in the soft pillows, while shirking their responsibilities to Set and His administration."
"If the faithful are unhappy, your proposed rise in levies and taxes will meet opposition."
The ast priest rolls his eyes.
"Haven't we been generous? Opening up the trade through Akhet even more to accommodate the increasingly extravagant needs of the 'faithful'? I think the proposed tax increases are very justified."
"Be that as it may, we have to get him off the streets, brother. How long before he goes into a temple and goes iconoclast on us?"
The ast priest shakes his head and pulls out a scroll from scroll shelf behind his desk. He unrolls it and goes through the text with a long nail of his index finger, until he reaches a passage he is looking for.
Deliberately slowly he turns the page to face the man with voice, and says:
"Read it and weep. Settrah cannot be touched, until he truly goes too far."
The soft voiced man looks from the page to the ast priest with an incredulous face.
"So... they let him spout his blasphemous nonsense about the Set's Righteous Terror, just because..."
He looks at the page again as if trying in vain to make the words change meaning.
"...because they do not know if he is truly the voice of Yig? They are actually afraid that he is what he says he is? Are they insane?"
It is the ast priest's turn to smirk.
"I will overhear that comment you just made, unless you feel it is your time to meet Set's judgement.
Somebody high up made the decision and that should be enough for you.
The gospel of Yig is actually based on the oldest scriptures and just because we choose to disregard them in our daily rituals does not mean they are not valid or even blasphemy.
My suggestion to you is to have the guards 'escort' him to the deep desert, where he gets his 'Truth' and hope that he will not make it back alive. Although I doubt we should be so lucky..."
Last edited by Balorac; 18th April 2011 at 10:05..