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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

Tamaranis

Quill-Bearer
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Everything posted by Tamaranis

  1. Which power metal bands do you like? I like a lot of prog metal. There are so many sub-genres of metal that I'm not sure if I've heard any of what you're talking about. Post a video of one of your favorite songs...please:) Well, Dragonforce is the quintisential band for that genre, but let's see... Dragonforce: Disciples of Babylon: Symphony X: Incantations of The Apprentice: Wicked: ...That kind of thing.
  2. I'm a big fan of power metal. It's high-energy and the lyrics are mostly about slaying dragons and/or facing the dark lord's armies.
  3. "He's down. Marik, he's down." Sally's voice was steady, but loud and insistent, "Stop trying to stand up. I'm about done bleeding here, you're just getting started." She'd lost more blood than he had so far, but she was right. The bolt through her chest probably wasn't actually done bleeding, but if she hadn't died of it yet then she wasn't going to. She also still seemed to be at her normal strength or close to it. Traditionally, each Guardsman made the mistake of trying to brush off one of his golems when they were concerned about his injuries exactly once. The resulting illustration of differences in relative strength was embarassing enough to prevent it from happening twice. "Alalia!" Sally's bellow was at odds with the way she lowered him to the ground, as gently and easily as if he were a child, "Marik's hurt! Kill not confirmed!" George arrived about a second later, and seeing that Marik's wounds were being tended to, stabbed a spear in the body of the Arrakam-demon twice before taking up a guard position, as if he expected it to leap up and attack him at any second. Alalia arrived being nearly carried by Kevin and Jen, a little awkwardly as Kevin was trying to apply a bandage to the slice through her scalp at the same time. Both her golems were grinning like idiots. Alalia recited a few spells and the light leaking out of the Arrakam demon shifted colors more wildly in response. "Kill confirmed." "This needs stitches," Kevin immediately declared. Then, with the threat of the demon definitively removed, he rounded on the approaching assorted miliatry personell. Most breath and blood troops were used to golems being polite and submissive, so Kevin's sudden explosion about automata attacking Guardsmen, collaborating with demons, treason, and long carreers in latrine digging was all the more stunning. "Just keep the blood out of her eyes," Sally told Jen, "This is serious, I want her help putting Marik back together. George, I've only got two hands here." George, now wearing the same stupid grin Kevin and Jen had been sporting, helped Sally get Marik's armor off him, a process that was significantly more painful than getting the wound in the first place had been. Even when Marik cried out, though, George still seemed really happy about something. "It's our own materiel you idiots destroyed, you know." Sally told him. "No great loss, though." George sounded inordinately pleased with himself, "who needs automata when you've got golems?" "You outnumbered it three to one." Sally said. "You're jealous." George's joy was undiminished. Sally rolled her eyes, "who actually fights thresher!?" "They beat a thresher to death, Sally." Alalia seems almost impressed as the golems, "let them have this. I'm about to start cleansing, give him something to bite before you get to work." "KIds." Marik said, his voice overflowing with disgust. Sally grunted in agreement, then placed something between Marik's teeth. Alalia started a spell that would purge the kinds of fever associated with wounds and surgery, and Sally didn't waste any more time. Marik lost track of everything else in the ensuing agony.
  4. It was very difficult to find proper prison cells for over a hundred people on short notice, so they hadn't done that. Instead, having foreseen that they might need to contain a large number of people for a while, the imperials had built inverted defensive structures on several low hills. Each hilltop was ringed with an earthwork studded with sharp stakes that pointed inward rather than outward. It wasn't a proper prison, someone determined to escape could climb the earthwork with very little risk of impaling him or herself on the stakes, except for the fact the other side was patrolled by bowmen when the holding area was occupied. If one of the areas was filled to capacity and those inside made an organized rush against the wall they would probably be able to overwhelm their guards, but no one wanted to stand front-rank in that escape attempt. It was the guards as much as the structure that contained them. In all likelihood, the thing had been built by army engineers, and so maybe the hilltop locations had been chosen out of reflex. Combined with the lack of solid walls, this meant there was no shelter from wind or rain within. More likely, though, the hilltop location had been selected deliberately to make a prisoner's stay just a little bit more miserable. Hanna tried to be furious about that, but she didn't have the energy for it anymore. A month ago she'd have been standing at the stake-wall screaming curses, but the terror of the last few days, was it four? no, they must have fled from the scar faster than they'd journeyed toward it, followed by her current cold and exhaustion left her unable to bother with it. She was far more concerned with nursing and protecting the pathetic flame that passed for one of their campfires. Sitting across the fire from her, Arthur grinned at her in his unsettling way. Arthur claimed to have traveled most of the world in his lifetime, but he was obviously from Seriithia or somewhere nearby. People said no one who left Serithia to travel the world would come back to sit through the Imperial occupation, but Arthur claimed his journies had mostly consisted of fleeing from one horror into the arms of the next, and after all of that a nice, calm, military dictatorship seemed fine to him. The man was too thin to be healthy. It should have made him seem pathetic, and it did, but it also made him seem sharp and predatory, as if some aspect of civilization had melted away from him alongside his fat. It was generally considered ill-advised to leave women or children unattended in his presence. Hanna didn't want him here, but he didn't leave when she asked him too, and if she stood up, her fire would probably go out. For all the noise he'd made about his travels and the things he'd seen, Arthur had been no use against the scar-spawn. He'd helped kill the first few creatures that turned up, keeping his distance and striking at them with a spear, but always only when the Audurians had outnumbered the creatures, and even then only once the creature was wounded to the point it posed little threat. Once, when some other men were putting down a thing that looked like a big wolf with terminal mange, a swarm of things that seemed to be all legs, not arranged in an orderly fashion like a spider's legs but rather pointing haphazardly in every direction, had sprung at them from bush that they hadn't cleared yet. They weren't all legs it turned out. There was a mouth somewhere inside all that. Those bitten many times died quickly. Those bitten only a few times lingered, dying of fever days later. Arthur had not helped to defend their new village from scar-spawn after that. Not when they began arriving in packs, not when those packs harried their party as it fled the site of what should have been their new home, and not when they became a wave that threatened to engulf the whole caravan. Over four hundred settlers had become barely a hundred refugees during those two days of mad flight. Hanna was not a warrior, but it didn't take much training to swing an axe at whatever looked like the softest part, and even she had taken up arms before the scar-spawn finally gave up pursuit, but Arthur hadn't been willing to lift a hand. She must have given some indication of her thoughts, because Arthur's grin broadened, making him look ghoulish in the firelight. Did he think she would flinch from him because he made a scary face? Hanna snorted. The things that had got her parents had been scarier-looking than Arthur, and she'd killed them alright. If she was too tired to be resentful of the Empire she was definitely too tired to be scared of Arthur. "What's this, what's this?" Arthur's gaze focused past her, and his grin widened to the point it seemed almost inhuman. There was entirely too much tooth showing. Armored men were forcing their way into the encampment at the single gate, though it didn't take much force, and there was an uncharacteristically-disorderly changing of the guard happening on all sides of their prison. There was a lot of shouting and orders going on, all of it in the dominant Ksol language of the empire. It always surprised Hanna how most of the Audurian population of Serithia had so fair failed to pick up the official tongue of the Empire. It wasn't a difficult language, and since their oppressors almost always used it when speaking among themselves knowing it was necessary for keeping track of what they were up to. "Did someone stave in your skull for you before you came on duty?" one of the existing troops jabbed his finger into his replacement's breastplate as he spoke. "I'm very sorry, sir." the newly arrived, more heavily armored man's voice contained no trace of answering anger, "Guardsman's orders, no more breath-and-blood troops on watch." "Chaos-spawned Guard," the first man muttered, "sending golems to give orders to real soldiers." "I'm sorry for the breach of tradition, sir." The golem still showed no signs of agitation, "But Guard-Lietenant Arrakam was clear that time is of the essence and that the watch must be changed immediately. I need to insist you go." Near the entrance, one of the larger prisoners tried to push past one of the soldiers that was moving in. Like most Ksol, the soldier who blocked his path was short and slight, but he was wearing so much armor that it went a long way to removing the difference in their overall weights. The soldier hardly moved when the large man bulled into him, and then his fist rose and fell in a metallic flash. The force of the punch hurled the prisoner to the ground as much as it knocked him cold. That punch set something off in the crowd, and more of them threw themselves against the gate. The golem soldiers were strong and tireless, but they were too badly outnumbered to count on sheer strength alone. Blades flashed and blood spilled. A part of Hanna, some feral aspect of human nature that had been awakened in the flight from the scar, wanted to join in the battle. That part of her was afraid, actually, but it was the frantic, violent fear of a cornered animal. The rest of Hanna, though, understood she wasn't holding an axe right now and that if a pair of large men could not overpower one of the golem soldiers then a small girl would not be able to do it either. Shouts broke out on all sides. Mostly order to execute the prisoners, demands from the gate that everyone put down their weapons. *** Guardsman Marik saw the golems standing on the earthwork lift bows a breath-and-blood man would not have been able to draw.. A surprising thrill of fear shot through him at the sight of Imperial golems about to kill on the whim of a demon. Alalia must have had the same feelings about it as he did be she cut off mid-sentence and hurled the coin she had been brandishing at "Arrakam"'s face. Marik knew that not everything worked as neatly as it was supposed to. There were more types of demon than could be counted, and the coin could not be counted on as a ward against all of them. He knew that the demons the guard hunted were intelligent and powerful, and many learned to ward themselves against the most common magics of the guard. Obviously a demon masquerading as a guardsman, actually brandishing a coin of his own, would be immune to its effects. It was lucky Alalia hadn't known any of that because the coin coin changed course slightly in midair and fastened itself to Arrakam's face just under the cheekbone with an audible sizzle. That should help shift the opinion of everyone close enough to have seen it in their direction. Most of the golems in the immediate area still froze. They possessed intelligence and volition enough to assess and respond appropriately in dangerous situations, but obedience to Imperial military officers and Guardsmen figured very high in their priorities and Guardsmen suddenly trying to kill each other was something most of them would need a moment to sort out. The loyalties and behavior of Marik and Alalia's personal guards had never been in question, though, and almost the same instant Alalia threw her coin fletching appeared at Arrakam's throat. Another set bloomed on his breastplate while two more bolts clattered off it. "Keep it bound!" Marik shouted as he drew an Ixatl sword and lunged toward the Arrakam-demon. The thing fell back from him and drew its own sword one-handed. The other hand pried at the coin on its face. It couldn't face Marik one-handed while a Guardsman's coin burned its way into its skull. Marik slipped around the demon's guard to cut into it repeatedly, drawing flashes of multi-colored light. Alalia's voice rang out to resonate with her coin, and it pressed deeper into the demon's face. The demon's sword began to ring against Marik's with bone-jarring force. Many of the binding enchantments used by the Imperial Guard were modified versions of things they'd captured from assorted cults, originally meant to summon demons. The more of the creature's otherworldly essence was pulled here into the physical world and bound to matter the more meaningful damage to that matter became. Unless you bound a demon first, you might was well be swinging a sword at its shadow. But binding a demon was dangerous, it flowed both ways. The more of the demon you held in the physical world the more physical power it had. Some idiot shouted, "Protect Guardsman Arrakam," It was enough to jar one of the golems that made up the watch into action and an arrow bounced off Marik's breastplate. Even with all of a golem's strength behind the draw an ordinary arrow couldn't be counted on to pierce a Guardsman's armor, but it still had all of a golem's strength behind it. The impact put Marik off-balance. The Arrakam demon released the coin still stuck to its face so that it could use both hands and all it's weight to thrust the point at Marik's heart. An Ixatl blade with all of a bound demon's strength behind it could be counted to pierce even a Guardsman's armor.. Sally bodily collided with the Arrakam-demon, sending the thrust wide. Her own sword fell as she grappled with the demon. He was actually stronger than a golem, now, would have had the upper hand, but the golems forged for battle weren't really capable of linking feelings like fear or pain to ideas like surrender or retreat. She managed to draw a knife, either her own or the Arrakam-demon's, and slashed and stabbed with a seeming savagery that masked the fact the fact she was an expert warrior in total control of her faculties. The demon retreated from the assault, meaning it must have been strongly enough that the knife posed an actual threat to it. A crossbow bolt burried itself in Sally's torso, narrowly missing her heart. The golem that had loosed the bolt dropped his crossbow and charged before he had his axe entirely free. "Go for the kill!" Marik shouted at her. He had faith in his personal armsmen. As long as she had his orders to help her overcome her reluctance to fight another golem, she'd come out on top despite lacking her sword and starting the fight with a bolt through her. He pressed his attack against "Arrakam." He could sort everyone out when the demon was dead. If he could wrap things up fast enough Sally might not even have to finish that moron. Marik knocked "Arrakam's" sword wide and the demon's reeled, his guard collapsing so suddenly and completely Marik almost missed it. But experience and reflexes won out over his surprise and he took the opportunity to get enough power behind his Ixatl blade to puncture the demon's armor and heart just as he realized Alalia's voice was no longer resonating with her coin. With a triumphant roar the demon finally pried the coin out of its face and hurled it out into the night. Suddenly unbound, it ignored the fact Marik had impaled it and nearly decaptiated him before he could free his sword to protect himself. Had it snagged or stuck at all, a steel blade certainly would have, he'd have died. He realized Alalia's voice was no longer resonating with the coin. The demon threw itself at Marik furiously. Unbound it was hardly any stronger than he was, but it spared no attention to its own defence. After landing a thrust that remove a fair portion of the demon's throat without getting a reaction Marik focussed his efforts entirely on keeping his opponents sword away. "No, cover Alalia!" Marik shouted when he saw George moving to flank the demon, "I need this thing bound." Marik spared a glance over his shoulder to see what was happening. Someone has got one of the older automatons, a thresher, moving and pointed it in Alalia's direction. It wasn't even remotely intelligent, but it was deadly in a straightforward way. Four multi-jointed metal legs met at a center post that supported four multi-jointed "arms," each of which ended in a scythe-like blade. The thresher rythmically drew each limb back in an exagerated wind-up then swung around or over itself, accelerating the blade to deadly speeds. Marik had seen what happened when threshers were turned against massed bodies, before, and hoped never to be on the other end of their charge. Breath and blood men with swords and shields would never have been able to stop a thresher out in the open, like this. Sometimes golem soliders bragged about being deadlier than stupid automatons like threshers, but Marik wasn't sure if their armsmen would be able to stop it either. Alalia was bloodlied, but still standing, still calling out to form a spell. Chuck and Amy were battering their swords to pieces fencing with the thing, but they were keeping it off her. Marik had to turn his attention back to "Arrakam," to keep from being killed himself and started a chant of his own. On his next parry he bounced his blade down the demon's and into the meat of its hand. The blade itself meant nothing, but Marik sent the his spell down the blade, into the demon's flesh, and from there back into the not-quite-physical-plane where most of the creature was located. It roared and jerked away and Marik used the opening to decapitate it just incase. He could see strange lights seeping through the wound, but the head just stayed balanced there. The demon gathered it's wits then launched a flurry of overhand chopping strikes that Marik easily parried while he prepared prepared another spell, then he thrust his sword through the hole he'd already punched in its armor to deliver it. Sometimes if you drove the spell into the demon's heart that would have some special meaning. It didn't this time. The demon still jerked and spasmsed in response, but regained its wits and resumed trying to chop through Marik's guard as if it were a tree. It would work, eventually. The demon's puppet body couldn't get tired any more than it could die, but Marik's could do both. Marik managed another glance around the chaos. Sally was on the defense against the soldier golem that had shot her. Their other three armsmen were all bloody, but had managed to grappple the thresher, apparently they were strong enough to overpower it if they didn't give it the freedom to keep its limbs moving. The thing staggered drunkenly under their weight as they tried to kick it apart. A thick fog was wrapping around the hilltop. He didn't see Alalia but he could still hear her building a spell. "'Lia" He shouted, "Help me put this thing down." Nothing happened. Well, if her spell wasn't done yet it wasn't done yet, Marik poured all the physical power into the fight he could, battering the demon's sword away, chopping at it's legs and arms to keep it off balance. At one point he kicked it in the chest, it wasn't like his sword was any more deadly to it than his foot was. There was a flash and something that seemed like a frozen lightning bolt was anchored in the demon's torso a little under its sternum. The spell flickered a few times each second, the details of it's jagged path through the air changed each time it did, but it stayed anchored in the demon. Alalia was holding the other end presumably. Marik smoothly continued the series of attacks he'd been making before she bound the demon. It brought a hand up and managed to keep his sword out of its throat, and fingers spun away into the fog that now surrounded them. The demon countered with an impossibly strong swing that Marik knew to divert instead of trying to bring to a stop, then he cut most of the way through the demon's leg. The demon called out magic of its own that send a pulse of light racing down the anchor bolt. Alalia screamed and the bolt nearly flickered out of existence, but the pulse of light bounced back down the bolt and back in to the demon. The anchor remained in place even though the impact tossed it to the ground. Marik moved to skewer the thing before it could recover enough to defend itself. There was a blinding flash behind him followed by a surprisingly intense darkness as the anchor bolt discharged energy against whatever had interrupted it. Again Marik's thrust came a second too late to actually kill the demon. The demon ignored the way Marik's sword tore through its body as it kicked his legs out from under him. At the same time the demon's Ixatl blade came up to breach Marik's armor and pierce his abdomen. Suddenly on the ground with the demon standing over him, Marik noted the fog had grown so thick it was difficult to make out the face it was wearing. The Demon lifted its sword overhead for a killing thrust, then its body was wracked by a cough so powerful that it had to lower the blade without completing the attack. Marik could still make out the silloutte of the creature, could tell it was casting its gaze around trying to see something in the fog. Another fit of coughs ripped their way out of its chest. If a man coughed like that, Marik would have said he didn't have much longer to live. Trembling with whatever afflicted it, the demon raised its sword again, then stagged backward three steps from an impact that Marik felt as much as heard. The fog had noticably retreated by the time the demon hit the ground. The wooden shaft transfixing its torso was too large to have come from any bow, too large to have been launched from a ballista. The multicolored light flaring around points where the shaft entered and exited the demon's body almost seemed to flow and pool like a liquid. It cast shadows that were neaseating to look at, but that was probably just the demon, nothing to do with the weapon. Marik had struggled to his knees before he realized he was looking at one of the stakes from the prison enclosure. It was driven nearly wholly through the demon's torso, Marik suspected that if the demon hadn't been in a guardsman's armor, the shaft would have passed through its body entirely and continued on. He had no real idea how bad the wound in his gut was. People were still shouting, and fighting, but the fog that had rolled over them was disappearing as quickly as it had appeared, and "Arrakam's" strange blood was doing an excellent job of clarifying who was who. The thresher was down two legs and one of its arms had seized, its struggles appeared to be growing weaker. Sally had fallen to hands and knees and had blood slowly oozing from more wounds than Marik could count at a glance, but she dead yet, so she'd pull through. The idiot she'd been fighting with might not, though, going from how badly burned he was, his body had been the thing to interrupt Alalia's anchor bolt. Alalia was missing her helmet and half her face was covered in blood. If a thresher had done that, then she'd come very close to having her skull split in two. A dozen other bodies, people Marik didn't recognize, lay about, soldiers both golem and breath-and-blood who'd actually fought one another in the confusion. Half again as many prisoners dead. And the demon. The demon was dead, but Marik had no idea what had killed it.
  5. OOC: Something a little less niche, and a little more typically fantasy. Feel free to jump in, or ask me questions if you want to run with something. Or not, whichever. Captain Therlon looked up from his desk at the sound of terse conversation outside the door to his office just as a man swept in. "Swept" was the word for it, alright. He was pulling off a cape. The combination of plate and mail he wore was perfect and gleaming to the point it seemed ornate, though it wasn't actually decorated in anyway. The guards, one of them a golem, had neither announced him nor tried to stop him. "Captain," the man said, placing a metal disc on Therlon's desk, "I am Guard-Lieutenant Arrakam. I'm sorry, but we will have to dispense with the pleasantries." "Guardsman," Therlon acknowledged before picking up the disk. it was the size of his palm, and he felt vaguely uneasy about it resting there. It was solid bronze, of course, but gave the impression it was going to start squirming in his hand any second. There were raised and sunken lines covering both sides that defied the eye to follow them. Therlon had seen enough of these coins that his eyes could take up that challenge, but it made them ache. There was no mistaking the thing for anything but what it was: The badge of office of the Imperial Guard. Therlon felt the ache in his eyes set in and start working its way to the back of his skull. The guard were a headache on three levels. The first thing every breath-and-blood man in the regular army hated about the guard was that they were a bunch of insufferably arrogant pricks. They were every kind of elite, but their greatest skill was never letting anyone else forget it.. The second thing was that their arrogance was backed up with authority. The moment a gaurdsman was sworn in he had more operational authority than a general. Usually, he used it to requisition troops and supplies that were needed some place else. The third terrible thing was that in most cases "guard" was a misnomer. The Imperial Guard weren't really gaurds at all, they were demon hunters, and they didn't bother with two-bit scar-spawn, either. That was the army's job, and therefore below the notice of a Guardsman. No, the guard hunted muderous shapeshifters, bodiless spirts that nonetheless managed to spread terror in their wake, sorcerors who had made deals with the same, and so on. ...and so if there was a guardsman here then, in all likelyhood, one of those bloody nightmares was likely on the loose somewhere nearby. Satisfied with the oversized coin's authenticity, they were damn near impossible to forge, Therlon handed it back. "What can I do for you, Guard-Lieutenant?" "Not three hours ago a band of refugees arrived from the Southwest. You have do still have them in custody, yes?" "Oh, them," Therlon shook his head, "decided they were sick of living under the occupation, made a lot of noise about how they were going to go live free of the Empire's yoke, started building a village on the edge of the Scar..." "And you a band of armed Audurians head out to the Demon Scar because?..." Arrakam prompted. "Because the Audurians and the scar-spawn are welcome to each other." Therlon let the heat into his voice, "They were a band of insurgents. I suspect half of them of murder and all the arrests and executions I was going to have to make were as likely as not to start another riot. Better if they all just marched into the Scar and were never heard from again." "Captain..." Arrakam was lecturing him, now, "nothing good can come of the Demon Scar, not even a convenient death. Now you will have a riot on your hands." Therlon really didn't want to know where this was going, but Arrakam continued, "Those refugees are... contagious. I'm going to need you to put them down." Therlon gaped at the guardsman. Assuring the population of what used to be Serithia that the Empire was here to protect them from the Demon Scar was the only thing keeping the lid on the kettle, here. "There won't be a riot," Therlon groaned, "You can't... That will, they'll be so outraged... there will be a Serithia again. There will be a war." "Captain," Arrakam said, "containing the Demon Scar is not a mere pretense for our occupation. It is a real aspect of your duty here. The most important aspect of it. It is more important than Serithia's Ixatl deposits, it is more important than the bandits who decided the citizens of the Empire made better targets than their own starving neighbors, and it is more important than preventing a war." "You're supposed to be the answer!" Therlon shot to his feet, "You're supposed to walk into this kind of chaos and sort it out, separate demon from man, all of that." "I am giving you the answer," Arrakam's raised his voice, but didn't shout, "The answer is to put these refugees down before you have a horde of Scar-spawn crawling over your walls. Your breath and blood men can sit this out. I will need your golems, they will be immune to contamination and their temperments are better suited to this kind of work."
  6. "What is the meanings of this!?" The man standing in the doorway was well-dressed in the sort of way that you could still enter this neighborhood without necessarily getting mugged. Leather jacket, sunglasses at night with lenses probably a little too small to be effective if it was the day, bluejeans but new and clean ones, not-exactly-dress-shoes. "I convinced your henchmen to kidnap me so I could learn where people were ending up. Then I beat them up so I could safely take everyone else out of here," Ilsa explained, "I think there are probably some bullet-holes in your kitchen cupboards." He was... quick. Ilsa had been hanging around Burnout too long for anything she could actually see happening to pass her personal threshold for what should be considered fast, but he moved faster than she ever could have. She was no longer standing on the floor. Instead she was being held above it by the hand wrapped around her neck. "This was none of your business." He snarled. He was taller than Ilsa was right now, with significantly more reach, so he was sort of confused when Ilsa calmly reached out and put her hands against his face. Or maybe he just expected that when you do something like this the victim should choke and grasp at your hand and arm instead. At any rate, he twisted his head so he could peer between her fingers at her. It was the strangest thing. He was made of flesh, Ilsa could tell. But it was dead. It was beyond dead. There was no life there at all, no chemistry, nothing happening in it. A corpse had an ugly little life all its own, driving its decay, but he didn't even have that. This guy wasn't dead like a corpse, he was dead like a rock. She tried the same things that would make a human collapse but he didn't seem to notice. "Usually you're unconscious and/or paralyzed by now," Ilsa said. He snarled at her, actually snarled, a sound a person should not be able to make, and his grip tightened. Ilsa was at something of a loss as to what to do. She turned up the chemical assault and he still gave no indication he was aware it was happening. She considered switching to just dissolving his flesh, but that an ugly, painful, foul-tasting trick. He noticed she still wasn't choking or struggling so he tightened his grip further. Ilsa's windpipe made a crunchy noise as it gave way. Ilsa's throat and lower jaw writhed out of his hand and her feet hit the floor. Her windpipe made another crunchy noise, "I told you! Basement until I'm done up here!" "That's a neat trick," the man told her, "I hope you'll survive this long enough to learn your place," And then the force of the blow to Ilsa's head was was pushing grey material out the fissure in her skull. Had there been intestines or a liver or anything of the sort in her abdomen the knee to it would have caused something to that effect to be torn. A kick bent one of her knees backwards and then hands were squeezing her shoulders with enough force to break more bones. His head lashed forward and fangs sunk into her neck. Oh. That made sense. The knee that had bent backward recovered form and strength while remaining in its new alignment. The broken bone-analogues in Ilsa's shoulders squirmed down and out from under the vampire's hands before knitting back together. The mass of her neck sipped through his fangs the same as it had his fingers. Strong as the vampire was, he wasn't especially heavy. Isa's displaced arms lined up with legs that had ended up better suited to lifting when she compensated for the knee, and she threw him, not in any particular direction, just up and away. The couple of seconds he spent tumbling through the air gave Ilsa the chance to replace its arms with things that were at once whips and swords. It landed one solid hit, leaving a bloodless laceration before the vampire had come all the way down. Once he was on the ground moving under his own power and speed again, though, Ilsa mostly just sliced the carpet and furniture to ribbons. No great loss, actually. Any further chances to be underestimated and act with the advantage of surprise were gone, now. The vampire moved faster than Ilsa could swing any limb that wasn't a whip at the moment and struck with force that shattered whatever was supposed to be solid. Ilsa slashed away with between three and five arms ending in sometimes-flexible points and blades. The vampire seemed to like tossing it smashing it against the walls and knocking it across the room, so Ilsa ended up being squat and four-legged to improve its stability. At one point the vampire emptied a magazine from a pistol into Ilsa, but it seemed to have less effect than anything else, so he flailed away at it with a couch. Trying to gain the mass and energy to overcome it's foe, Ilsa left something like a burn wherever it touched the carpet or furniture, devouring any feasible material it came in contact with. Then the hail of bullets started. The four people who had been trapped in the basement had recovered their captors' weapons and were trying to shoot the vampire to death. Ilsa had no idea if that was even possible, but they seemed just as likely to shoot Ilsa as the they were the vampire and FAR more likely to shoot a wall than either combatant. This had to stop. If they didn't kill each other they would kill someone in a nearby building. The vampire's fangs flashed forward again. He might be dead, but he was still made of flesh. Instead of slashing through Ilsa's mass as if it were only a little more rigid than water they stuck fast. He was powerful enough to break Ilsa's grip and pull free, but was stuck long enough that when he drew back with a roar of pain he was looking especially fearsome, much of his lips and gums dissolved away. "If you will not surrender I will consume you," the vampire's fists lashed out and Ilsa's solid bits still collapsed under them, but he lost skin every time. "I don't know how much you can survive," The vampire's fist sunk in when he struck what passed for Ilsa's torso at the moment. Rather than try to overcome his strength Ilsa allowed mass to go with him as he pulled back. On limb retracted into the torso to make up for the loss. Another wrapped around the one that was being created by hanging on to the vampire's fist, and merged with it. By the time the vampire got his hand free, bone was showing, "but it might be very painful,for you." The skeletal hand swept against a spearpoint-limb, taking the end of it off. It had lost muscle, but no strength. This would take too long. "You will devour me!?" The vampire was outraged, "I am the predator, here!" The vampire leaped out of the way of one of Ilsa's whip-swords and swept an arm through the wall, tearing the drywall like it was paper until his arm hit a stud. He kicked the base of it and tore it free, then started swinging. When he stabbed the stud through Ilsa, Ilsa just stayed wrapped around it and worked it's way down while the vampire swung it into things. Ilsa swung a hand with a dozen longs fingers spread wide enough to form a net and caught the vampire about the upper body and head. He tore most of the fingers free while another, giant hand wrapped around him. Ilsa more flowed up its own arm than it did pull itself forward. The vampire broke and tore the fingers as they thickened and merged, his attempts to break free easily dragged Ilsa down a hallway with him, but didn't break the grip. More than a third of Ilsa's mass was in the grappling arm, it only had the one arm now. Ilsa didn't really care where it got dragged to, or even if it stayed standing. It reverted to two thin, weak legs. The hand hanging on to the vampire shifted its grip and flowed until it was wrapped around his neck. The forearm swelled ridiculously reshaping and redistributing bones under the rain of blows constantly breaking them. It was difficult to get that single, massive arm into working order while it was being constantly broken, but Ilsa finally managed it. The hand wrapped around the vampire's neck grew sharp and closed with colossal force. The vampire's struggles and the rain of blows he was delivering ceased, and his head popped off his body with surprising force. Ilsa began flowing into something a little less specialized in squeezing heads off and a little more capable of walking. The vampire had dragged it out of sight of the former captives, but Ilsa wasn't entirely sure the shooting wouldn't start again when they saw it. It didn't know what would be more likely to cause trouble at this point, a human guise or a more honest appearance. Probably it was time to call Ghost Dad or SHIELD or regular police or something? There had been a whole lot of shots fired. The police should be here soon. Ilsa stepped back into the ruins of the living room where most of the fighting had taken place. "You are no longer in..." A couple of bullets zinged past,and one passed through its torso. Ilsa walked back the way it had come. There were sirens in the distance. It could just slip out a bedroom window or something. ((Cleaned up a few sentences here and there))
  7. OOC Explanatory Stuff: So over the last few months Katzaniel, The Big Pointy One, Myself, and a couple of guys who've never post on this forum, to the best of my knowledge, have been playing Marvel Heroic Roleplay. It's a great game and I'd really recommend anyone interested in trying out a rules-lite, potentially wacky super-hero themed tabletop game check it out, except it's been cancelled already. We made a bunch of original characters, mostly be re-skinning officlal characters who were pre-statted, and We've been having a lot of fun with it, but! a tabletop game doesn't really let us explore solo adventures for these characters, or answer questions like what kind of neighbor they make. So I suggested it might be fun to find a place to just collect stories about these characters when they're not at full-team muster battling alien invasions or full-muster supervillains. And we were talking about what kind of place we should put that. The Big Point One suggested that we could drop this stuff off at The Pen, and put it in the assembly room to make it clear it's not a big free for all. I had reseverations about this plan. "The site has seen better days," I thought to myself. "It would be low-class of me to try to organize a bunch of activity that most of the remaining membership is excluded from. That would be like, the worst return ever." But then I realized the solution: If someone from The Pen wants to participate in some way that is actually totally fine and there is no reason at all to be opposed to it. I think what we discussed isn't actually coherent enough for anyone else to come along and ruin it, so if someone wants to come along and drop another character into the mix or pick up an existing character and write something about them, that's great. I get that that's a big "if,". This is rather niche, afterall. I just wouldn't feel right excluding anyone.The only restriction, I think, is a matter of common courtesy: If I create a character and someone else wants to use that character in a story I'm cool with it, but I can't speak for anyone else. on that kind of thing. I think if you want to write a story that heavily involves someone else's character, the classy thing to do is get permission first. Anyway, this has technically been taking place in the Marvel universe, but we haven't really had anything to do with any established characters/factions aside from beating up (mostly B and C list) villains and SHIELD telling us to do things. We've been making things up as we go along, so feel free to not make any reference to the Marvel universe whatsoever if you don't feel like it. That's a lot of words... Maybe I'll move this part of this post into the Green Room later? Writing: Mathew had to conclude that he was just about the unluckiest person in the world. First of all, what were the odds of being born a mutant*? He didn't know, the answer to that actually, but they had to be pretty low. Then what were the odds of having parents intolerant enough to kick you out of the house and the age of 14 just for being a mutant? A little higher, for sure, but when you multiplied those together, then took into consideration the odds of being targetted for a random kidnapping, three days later, that brought his current situation into the realm of being some kind of cosmic anti-lottery. And that was before he even considered his mutant power itself. If he could spit lightning or lift cars over his head this would all be different. He wouldn't be locked in a tiny basement right now, except that he'd drawn the short straw. In exchange for all the stigma and hatred associated with a mutant, he got the ability to hover half a foot above the ground. It had taken him a while to reason this out, actually. At first the pain and terror involved in being hauled out from under a park bench, beaten, tied up, tossed into the trunk of a car, and then tossed down a flight of stairs had dominated his thoughts. The combination of darkness and the sack over his head hadn't helped, and as he learned more about his situation, it had kept terrifying him anew. He'd heard other people's voices calling out in fear and confusion in the darkness, and their fear had been contagious. He'd managed to drag the sack over his head against the floor in such a way so as to remove it and so he'd been able to see it when light burst into the room and the same three men who'd taken him a fourth man, his hands bound behind his back, into the basement. He was down here with two men he was pretty sure were homeless and a girl a little older than him who he was pretty sure wasn't. After the new arrival spent some time storming around the room, cursing and kicking the walls he switched to alternately muttering about how they would be sacrificed in some dark ritual, or expirmented on, or fed to CHUDs, and moaning in fear. And all those scenarios had seemed pretty likely, because these men weren't interested in talking to their captives, and they couldn't have been trying for any kind of ransom or robbery, they were just... collecting people. And so the terror had been contagious again. But you could only stay utterly terrified for so long. Eventually your attention wandered and you started thinking about things like the incredible odds against this happening to you. Matthew wasn't sure how long it had been since the fourth captive had been added when the sound of a struggle was followed by the door at the top of the stairs opening to admit the fifth. It was a woman. She struggled and cried, which meant she was more thrown down the stairs than carried down them. One of their captors snarled for her to shut up, but didn't really seem interested in enforcing it. They left the way they'd come, leaving her weeping on the floor. There was the sound of their footsteps retreating, and then she abruptly stopped crying. Matthew could see her silloute sit up. In the darkness, it seemed like her hands were tied behind her back, but then she casually lifted them over her head to hold them in front of her instead. A second later he head what he thought might have been the sound of zip-cuffs being dropped on the concrete floor. She lifted one arm to pull her sack off her head. Her hands were definitely free. "Okay, everyone" he voice was pitched low, but there was no sign of her previous fear or distress in it, "we're all going to be out of here in a few minutes." Questions and demands errupted around the tiny basement. Things like "Get us out of here!" "Who are you!?" "Who are those men?" and "Untie me!" The first thing she did, though was find the chain on a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling and illuminate the room. Mathew, the girl, and the man who had managed to get the sack off his head all squinted and turned their heads away from the sudden, harsh light. Mathew saw the woman somewhere in her early twenties, some complex and indecipherable ancestry, bruised and bloody like the rest of them, maybe pretty underneath that, but not pretty enough to justify the amount of skin she was showing off. A prostitute? Probably just someone trying to look like one. She took a few steps towards the girl, then stopped. Mathew might have been willing to attribute the way she'd slipped her cuffs to a trick of the lack of light, but the room was fully lit now, and suddenly she didn't have a mark on her. "Hey, I'm Ilsa. Are you Sophie Harm?" "I..." the girl stammered, "I am. Who are you, what's going on?" "Hold still for a sec," Ilsa reached behind Sophie, then pulled away the remains of a set of zip cuffs, "I told you already, I'm Ilsa, and I'm saving you." Ilsa walked across the little room to free the man who was still hooded, "I'm saving all of you," she clarified, " Sophie's the one people are looking for, but we picked up on the fact she wasn't the only person collected." She freed Mathew next. Her fingers were suprisingly warm, almost to the point that it was uncomfortable when they slipped inside his cuffs, and then suddenly his hands were free. Mathew picked up his cuffs to examine them more closely. There were two places where they looked like they'd been melted through. Her fingers hadn't been that warm. "Are you a mutant?" he asked. Ilsa finished freeing the last man before she answered, "Probably not, but anything goes, with mutants." "Who are these assholes?" the man she'd just freed pointed upstairs, were they gonna eat us? You gonna kill 'em?" "I don't know, maybe, and no." Ilsa answered, "I not much for gore and killing." "Lady, I don't know what your deal is," the other man said, "but those guys upstairs are pretty mean, it might go bad for you if you decide to play nice." "Speaking of that kind of thing," Ilsa said, "I want everyone to stay down here until I tell you its safe to come upstairs. You might hear or see some scary things. You might hear gunshots. They might shoot and stab me. Don't worry. I'll be fine, but if bullets start flying and one of you is upstairs, you might not be." Ilsa walked to the top of the stairs and groped around the locked trap-door for a few minutes. Then she somehow managed to step around it as it fell out of its frame and slid down the stairs. *** Ilsa climbed out of the sub-basement and into the basement. No one was down there, so she went upstairs to a tiny kitchen. The sound of the door sliding down the stairs had been enough to put the designated guard on alert. He spent a couple of seconds struggling with his ski-mask, gave up and tossed it aside, drew the pistol on his belt, then froze in confusion when he realized which of his prisoners who had emerged from the basement. By the time he put together what was happening Ilsa had crossed the filthy kitchen and put one hand around his wrist. She wasn't really strong enough to overpower him and take control of the gun right now, but she didn't need to be. To a sense she possesed and other people did not, the chemistry of his blood and of his nervous system were visible, obvious, reachable. She pressed into his chemistry through the hand she had around his wrist as she reached for his throat with the other. His free hand intercepted her. Her wrist extended into something like an extra elbow and forearm and her hand reached his throat anyway. The man made the decision to pull the trigger but his fingers had already stopped responding to him. He swayed, then collapsed. Ilsa spared enough effort to make sure he came down without smashing his skull open on anything. There'd be no point in working out nonlethal chemistry only to have someone die from the ensuing fall. She been pretty quiet about that takedown, not letting him get a shot off or anything, but it must not have been quiet enough because his friend stepped into the kitchen with a pistol already in his head. Or maybe he'd just heard all that racket with the door. He looked back and forth between Ilsa and the man on the kitchen floor. Ilsa rushed him. He managed to get a double tap off. One bullet took Ilsa just over the sternum, the other her right shoulder. A little bit of grey something came out of Ilsa's back with the bullets. The entry and exit wouinds filled in with the same substance almost immediately, leaving her with a couple of metallic-looking splotches on her chest, but otherwise no worse for the wear. Once she got a hold of him he went down as easily as his friend had. The third man immediately layed into her with a shotgun. The sheer amount force each shot delivered was enough to put her off balance and by the time the thing was empty she was looking decidedly freakish, but it wouldn't have been accurate to describe the experience as painful. When she advanced on the last man he abandoned his efforts to reload the shotgun and tried to hit her in the head with the butt of it. She let him, the put him down the same way she had the first two. Ilsa considered the state of her body. That last exchange had pushed a lot of what she was using as skin into her and exposed a lot of her inner mass. The shotgun had torn and broken her contractile-fibers and bone-analogs and while that kind of thing didn't hurt her, exactly, she hadn't been focussed on rearragning them into where they'd be in a human. Her left arm currently bore no resemblance ot anything that could reasonably be expected to be attached to person. Usually she felt like there was something vaguely rude about making herself look like a human being, like she was lying to everyone who saw her, but the people in the basement were going through a bad time and might not do well with it if asked to cope with a sort-of-humanoid mostly-metallic thing. She decided to take a moment and put the illusion of humanity back together for now. As soon as she was finished, she turned around to see the boy who'd been in the basement standing at the top of the stairs, staring, wide-eyed. Ilsa rolled her eyes, for some reason emoting was a lot more instinctive when she looked like a person, "What did I say?" "You are a mutant." he declared. "Look..." Ilsa sighed, "I'm probably something else, but sometimes I get this this anti-mutant sentiment directed toward me and there's this expectation that I be outraged or distraught or something but it's just sort of confusing and awkward?" "I mean, some of my friends are mutants, so I feel kind of upset on their behalf, but..." the blow that knocked the front door in was so powerful that it reduced not-insignifcant portions of door and frame to splinters. "...oh. Good." (And that covers about half of what I wanted to cover with this post. I'm bad at short.)
  8. This is like... in fantasy novels prophets, in addition to giving out prophecies, also do a lot of incoherent but sort of creepy ranting. That's what this is.
  9. Yeah, all think all that's going on is you're thinking "visual arts and other people are thinking "the" arts, and writing is clearly part of the latter and not part of the former.
  10. Tamaranis inclined his head toward the Death of Rats, and noticed his tiny scythe seemed to have been...modified. By Minta no less. This sort of thing had a tendency to end poorly, but meaningful communication with the Grim Squeaker was difficult, at best, and he knew better than to interefere. He'd already wished their host good luck, so he resolved to ignore the matter for the time being. "I really should make a greater effort to keep abreast of things, here." He mused, then confided to Cole, "I wasn't even aware we had an orcish member, for instance. There are certain adjustments to decor one has to make in order to account for that sort of development, as you can see.
  11. The location of the Mighty Pen Keep, or rather the lack thereof, took some getting used to. It wasn't that Tamaranis couldn't keep track of all the different places it turned up, he'd learned to move through the madness between worlds long ago and had grown used to awareness of extra dimensions since then. It was that there was a certain way things should be, an order and a pattern to them, and the keep defied that. Still, the place this Mordekai and Cole lived was unique and interesting and getting here by taking advantage of the keep's poorly defined location was easier than punching through the chaos between. Maybe he should have taken a less direct route to see a little more of it, maybe he'd go for a stroll after putting in an appearance at the party. It seemed peaceful enough but with a keep that could be reached from dozens of locations simultaneously you never knew what you were going to get. Overt signs of undeath could startle people from even the most liberal societies so he pressed a little bit of energy into his flesh and let it lose focus until it became an appropriate amount of heat. A few breaths for practice to "warm up" and he was able to maintain a realistic rate and depth of breath with very little concentration. Doing something about being pale would be more trouble than it was worth, they'd sent an open invitation to The Pen, a man who was a little pale would hardly be the strangest character to show up. A pale man of slightly below average height wearing a white coat managed approached Cole at the Barbeque, "Hi there, I'm Tamaranis... you can call me Tam if you like. Welcome to the neighborhood, or good luck with us being in the neighborhood, maybe." Glancing around the yard he noted Minta, Wyvern, the Grim Squeaker, and something made of shadows, which would have been alarming if not for the fact there was hardly any trace of void to it. He needn't have bothered dressing up at all.
  12. From any point of view it wasn't precisely clear what happened. Gil dropped his blade, then fell, eliminating the issue of a hostage from the confrontation, and then suddenly Yarl was charging Iverron. Faced with a fearsome opponent and an easy method of dispatching him, Iverron let his arrow fl. The bow was heavy and the range was short and Yarl's light armor didn't make a suitable barrier. The arrow jolted Yarl in his saddle and pain and shock prevented him from regaining his balance. He fell and his horse stopped, confused and possibly elated by the sudden absence of its rider. Having no one riding him down right that moment, Sliver felt he had a few more options and neatly placed an arrow in Drouk's right arm. The leader of the bandits managed to maintain his grip on his weapon, but his arm fell and hung at his side. He swung his new horse around to face Sliver but it was no war steed and couldn't be trusted to trample and opponent, so with only one good arm, he wasn't able to do much else. In the chaos Illim had managed to draw and load a small crossbow and so he fired it at Iverron, intending to avenge his companion. Iverron however, had managed to get a clumsy grip on his shield and while it wasn't properly strapped across his arm, pulling it into a position between his body and the crossbow was enough to deflect the bolt. Iverron charged Illim as he reloaded, starting just before the bolt actually struck his shield. The whole thing was actually rather graceless, his shield held in one hand, swinging slightly in the wind created by his charge, his sword not even drawn until he was almost there, and Gil nearly trampled. He got to Illim between his finishing reloading and raising the weapon to take aim again but checked his swing. A woman with a slightly curved sword had reached Illim an instant before him. She sliced up and across his side, cutting deep and immediately letting enough blood that the wound had to be a fatal one. Drouk was left facing an archer who had probably hit him in the arm and not the chest on purpose, an armored knight now on-balance with a proper grip on his weapons, and a woman who'd just displayed the ability to cut nearly halfway through a man. He let his sword fall from his right hand, and tossed down the knife he`d drawn at some point that he held in his left. He took in Sliver, Iverron, and Karinne, "None of you were supposed to be here." he accused. ((All party members gain 150 xp))
  13. Iverron found the townspeople's fear of him unsettling. In his youth a lone armed traveller had been no cause for alarm. People would have assumed him a knight of the king or a wandering hero. He wouldn`t be a fool to anticipate offers of free food and lodging. But ever since he`d come to Kiart he`d gotten nothing but distrust from its people. They clearly didn`t want him in their nice little village, but they were afraid to ask him to leave. He walked down the stairs into the common room of the inn he`d stayed at. ``Morning, sir. Will you be continuing your journey today?`` the morning tavernmaster said by way of introduction. Iverron sighed, it felt like a personal attack even though he knew it wasn`t. ``I will.`` Iverron could see the man`s relief. ``I have pressing business to attend to.`` ***** After years of hard work robbing travellers and manacing villagers Drouk was glad to see that a group of armed men obviously up to no good got the respect they deserved. He and his men had only been passing by Kiart and had no real designs on it. But as luck would have it his horse had thrown a shoe and they didn`t have the means to deal with it themselves, so they`d come to Kiart to have it reshoed. But Drouk`s horse was old and he hadn`t been taking particularly good care of it and it turned out the blacksmith owned a fine specimen of a horse. Proper respect! No one hardly raised a fuss when Drouk explained how he was going to take the healthy horse and they could keep his old mare if they really wanted it. ``Fine, take it,`` the old blacksmith said, ``We don`t want any trouble here.`` ``Haha, it`s a pleasure doing business with you, sir.`` Drouk tipped his hat. ``Yeah, you seem the trusty sort,`` Illim said, walking around the shop, ``I bet you do really good work, and as men of the road, we can always use shiny new weapons and things, you make anything like that?`` ``No, we`re not soldiers here, I don`t make very many swords,`` the smith answered. ``Hrm, but a bet you do a really good business in plowshares, or whatever,`` Drouk prodded. ``Hey, yeah,`` Illim agreed as if the thought had only occurred to him just now. ``You must be able to spare a few coins for world-weary travellers such as we.`` The smith clenched his jaw and didn`t answer. Being robbed was one thing. Being made sport of somehow made it much worse. ``Well, you too greedy to lend us a hand or what?`` rumbled Yarl from outside. The big man hadn`t bothered dismounting for this whole ordeal, much to the irritation of his horse. ``We... we`re a small village off the main highways, we don`t have a lot of coin here.`` he managed to stammer. ``Don`t be so modest, friend!`` Illim grinned, ``I`m sure you`ve managed to put together some kind of savings here, and every little bit helps. Let`s have a look, shall we?`` Illim headed through the door into the smith`s home, adjacent to the smithy. ``C`mon Yarl!`` he called. ``Gil, go help blindy find smithy`s copper, will ya?`` Yarl rumbled in response. Seconds later a smaller, younger man walked quickly into the smithy and followed Illim into the smith`s home. Several moments of awkward silence passed between Drouk and the smith. ``Gil`s got a quick eye... Illim doesn`t`` Drouk explained with shrug. A few more moments of silence passed, interruped by the sounds of Gil and Illim looking through the smith`s home and something breaking. ``Oh, hey, this is really embarassing,`` Drouk suddenly said, ``here we must have been robbing you for ten minutes now and I haven`t even asked your name yet.`` Just then they heard a triumphant shout followed by, `No, see, the way this works is you hand that off to the boss.`` Drouk cut off the smith`s answer ``Oops, I suddenly don`t care anymore.`` Gil stepped back into the smithy, tossing a small coinpouch to Drouk. He caught it and looked inside. "Huh, hardly worth taking." he dumped the contents into a pouch on his belt anyway. "Once, again, pleasure doing business with you, sir." Drouk, Illim, and Gil left the smithy, mounted their horses and started to canter them out of town. "Hey, Hey! Wait!" someone shouted. The four of them reined their horses and turned around to see a boy, probably about fourteen years old, charging toward them waving a kitchen knife. "Got it," Yarl said. "You can't just rob Mr. Iron like that! I'll-" Yarl walked his horse forward a step to take the boy off guard and make sure he didn't actually get a swing with his knife, then raised one foot to plant his heel in the boy's face. The boy toppled over backward and dropped his knife, blood pouring from his nose. Drouk tsk'd and walked his horse up beside the prone boy, who was struggling to his feet and fumbling dazedly for his knife. His found it, looked up, and found the point of a sword inches from his face. “And here I thought everyone in this town was so polite.” Drouk lamented, “but the children haven't been taught proper manners. Who are your parents, lad?” “I'll never tell you!” The boy spat out some blood. Drouk looked heavenward and sighed. “It isn't as if it's going to be particularly difficult to figure out. That would be them now, wouldn't it?” A man and a woman had come running from the same direction as the boy, but stopped when they saw the situation he had gotten himself into. “Watch the boy, will you?” he asked no one in particular and trotted over to the boy's parents. “I think you've told your son a few too many stories for his own good.” he called out to them. “Please, he idolizes Darren,” that must have been the smith, “we didn't mean for him to attack you, he's just a child...” the mother pleaded. “You ought to have taught him there are no heroes.” Drouk told her, “thinking anything else is a good way to get killed. “Children, they believe silly things,” she fumbled, “We'll, uh, we'll teach him, better, just don't hurt him.” “Well, I'll tell you what.” Drell sounded conversational, “The boy's offended my delicate sensibilities, but instead of killing someone over it like a brute, we'll take him along with us, and I'll teach him better manners.” Both parents shook their heads and muttered something to the effect of “oh no.” “Everybody wins.” Drouk smiled as if he meant it. “Your child properly learns the way of the world, and I'll make some cash, I'm sure. You can sell children off and make a few crowns if you know who to go to, you know.” “Ayldon will never let you get away with this.” the father murmed. It was obvious where the boy got his ridiculous ideals. ``Pardon?`` Drouk asked, sounding a little annoyed now. ``Ayldon, your king, will hear of this, and you`ll hang!`` he shouted back. Drouk sneered, his voice turning nasty "Ayldon isn't my king, and if you were smart you'd say the same. How long ago did he call away the militia that's supposed to be protecting you from me, hrm? Even if he did care enough to send a party after me for your son's sake, what's protecting you right now? What's to stop me from killing you, taking your wife, killing your wife, and burning down your house for good measure? Certainly not your king! Ayldon has abandoned you." "No he hasn't!" came an angry shout. Covered in highly polished armor, and holding a bow knocked and drawn pointed straight at Drouk, Iverrron guided his horse forward with his knees until he felt he was at the ideal range. "Four against one, then?" Drouk laughed and didn't let it sound forced. "Four bandit scum against a knight of the king.” Iverron corrected.
  14. “I wish you guys didn’t check things out so thoroughly. It ah… cheapens our relationship. I don’t like feeling so mistrusted.” Richard almost seemed to be pouting. Okay, I see ‘em “What makes you think you’re trusted, man?” I don’t know you, how do I know you’re not going to try to slip a few replicas in here?” Joel probably wasn’t using his real name either. How many? Joel’s men were busily taking apart, reassembling, and dry firing a collection of assault rifles. One of them aimed into the darkness and fired a burst. Richard winced. “At the very least don’t actually fire all of them? It makes me nervous.” They were in a field in the middle of nowhere, they’d all come a long way in an effort for privacy, but the sound of a gunshot carries a long way at night. Lots. How’s the resolution now? “Hey, if you want to get paid you let me check these work.” Joel snapped, “I don’t wanna get burned.” Several more bursts were fired. Holy Hell, what is this? “Look, that’s enough.” Richard’s voice was suddenly sharp, “You haven’t found anything out of the ordinary yet, and you’re not going to.” I don’t know, I just catch bad guys… Think it’ll get ugly? “Alright, alright, alright,” Richard was made more persuasive by the fact that of the two of them, he had more armed men here. “We’ll just check a couple more and I’ll take your word on the rest.” Nah, neither of these guys is stupid enough to shoot up the other one. You sure you’ve got this? “Pay the man!” Joel gave the order before any more guns had actually been test fired. Two of Joel’s underlings, one of them holding a briefcase, advanced on Richard. There was a moment of confusion, the one holding what presumably contained the money wasn’t sure why the other one was coming with him. Yeah, I’ve got it The other man, the one not holding a briefcase moved in a way that seemed unnatural somehow. His head twisted on one direction while he threw something in the opposite direction with one hand. Something bellowed out of his mouth. The gas itself was colourless, but it was a cool evening and a gray haze marked its rapid spread. The grenade he’d thrown dumped a massive volume of the same substance. The knockout was quick. Most present experienced a few seconds of dizziness that would be followed by coming to in handcuffs and wondering what happened. But even if no one had intended violence here things had been tense, and shots rang out from those who were more prepared. Bullets tore cleanly through Ilsa. He didn’t offer enough resistance to tumble or break the rounds so they came out the other side trailing a little bit of silver, but made surprisingly small holes and caused no bleeding aside from the bit of silver liquid they carried out with them. A trick of wind and air currents had left one man standing on either side. Figuring that Richard’s guns would be the more dangerous Ilsa charged toward him first. Both men were too shocked at seeing Ilsa stagger through a hail of bullets and into a charge to immediately react. Each of Ilsa’s arms lashed out, almost serpent-like, to take the rifle from his foe. He was a strong man with a good grip, but when Ilsa’s hands touched his there was such a powerful sensation of heat and pain that he released the rifle without thinking. Ilsa tossed the rifle aside and immediately stuck at the man’s throat and face. It wasn’t a very powerful blow, but after a few seconds he started to topple. Just before he fell two bullets struck Ilsa in the back, passed through his torso, and into the man’s stomach. Fuck, casualty. Medic. Ilsa spun on the remaining criminal, who put a few more rounds in Ilsa’s chest before making a break for it. Ilsa fell forward as he ran. He caught himself on arms that were suddenly longer and pursued on all fours. A few seconds later he caught up and delivered a slap to the back of the neck that put the man under. Alright, I’m done here. Just then a very big, fast bullet struck Ilsa in the gut. It knocked quite a bit of silver out his back. “Hurk,” Ilsa commented just before another one split away a section of his head and flung him to the ground. Ilsa, what the hell just happened? We heard a shot and lost signal. Ilsa? Ilsa?… Man down! Several minutes passed before a joint police and FBI team arrived at the sight of the weapons transaction to find the man that called himself “Ilsa” whole and hale and wearing the face his coworkers knew him by. He was holding his hands against the wounds of the only other person who’d been shot. “It’s all clear, but I don’t really know how to fix other people.” he advised. “Oh, and I dropped a sniper somewhere over there, but he‘ll be down at least twenty minutes” he indicated with a nod of his head. One of the armoured officers or agents or whoever they technically were stared at the collection of unconscious criminals for a moment, then radioed it was safe for the medical team to advance. “Ilsa? Thank god,” “I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to explain to you I’m bullet proof.” Ilsa responded. “Yeah, well you know, invincible people working for me takes some getting used to." Ervins, the Special Agent in Charge, quickly shifted back to calm. "You’re the third shape shifter we’ve had, and the first two thought they were invincible, too. Gunshot then suddenly you’re all quiet, gives you a bad feeling, you know?” “Yeah, sorry about that. The transmitter was in my head, I got half my head blown off, I couldn’t get the encryption working right again.” He stood up and stepped away from the prone form in front of him as the medics arrived, “He’s all yours, guys.” ((I've got no idea what you're intended power level is here, I hope the capabilities shown so far for this character are okay))
  15. A splinter of awareness drifted through the places between worlds. Having no true hate or rage of its own to act as a guide it followed that of others. Souls of the departed wicked and wrathful were pulled by their own nature toward places called hells. The splinter let them carry it along. A bit of debris at the whim of great currents. Only rarely did it make any effort to control its course, and then only to ensure it went the correct way when the river forked. After many days it came to a destination. The spirits around it were immediately seized and contorted by the destination. Tormented and twisted, the place remade them in its own image. But the splinter had no concept of pain or rage. This place could not grasp it and it chose its own shape. A sort of pseudo Tamaranis, lacking armour or weapon, appeared at the base of a great mountain, and began to climb. Things abound in claws and fangs and pincers swarmed the mountain, but they didn’t notice the simulacrum. It climbed quickly and unhindered for another day. Only when he had nearly reached the summit was he challenged. “Wizard, you are not worthy to gaze upon the masters,” A great gargoyle-like thing bellowed. “Then I will avert my gaze, but I bring a warning to the lords. News regarding their war.” “They know more than you can imagine, foolish mortal. The lords already know whatever it is you mean to say. Begone now if you wish to ever leave.” “How many mortals can come so far? Have any still truly mortal ever stood here unharmed and unafraid? They must head my warning.” “Blasphemer! If you do not repent your arrogance I will pull you fully into this place and cast you into the lowest of the pits for all eternity!” The dull fiery illumination about them flared brighter and lesser creatures fled from the presence of the guardian. “I have been very careful in how I came here, and my warning is dire. To deliver it I will risk your wrath.” “Then I will come to your world and find you and drag you screaming back here. Then, we will see how eager you are to meet the lords.” Tamaranis’ projection’s voice hardened, “If you came to my world I would rend your essence to numberless fragments and feed them to the void. But if you impede me here I will never get the chance because when your masters learn what you kept from them they will never allow you any hope for the peace of oblivion.” “…don’t dare to look upon them.” The simulacrum followed the guardian the rest of the way to the summit. “Oh lords of suffering. Masters of the greatest of creation. Destined rulers of all that was ever made…” the guardian kept its gaze averted and continued praising the demon lords for several minutes. “A mortal eager for his doom comes before you claiming to possess valuable knowledge. I will bring him before you or destroy him as your will dictates.” “Show us the fool.” Arbal immediately snapped. Tamaranis stepped forward, keeping his gaze at his feet. “My lords, you know who I am?” “Why should we know the name of every fool who thinks he is worthy of our council?” Arbal sneered. “The last of Ki’Ranas’ vampires…” Graz’zt mused, “who seized control of the infection at the moment of his death and achieved immortality.” He addressed the simulacrum directly, “You were such a disappointment. You could have killed that world.” “Oh, that one.” Lesiet recognized him now, “Very old, quite a few demonic agents have died of crossing paths with him over the years, survivor of Terra’s mage war… we’re listening.” “There is power concentrated on the world you’re invading like I have never seen on a mortal plane. I saw the mage war, I’ve seen and fought your armies. You will have scryed and seen power, but you can’t have seen all of it.” Tamaranis’ voice remained cold, empty. Statements of facts without emotion. “Take the rest of the world. They won’t field armies to defend other lands. You could take whole continents and they will only use the tiniest fraction of their power to hinder you, but do not attack them directly. They claim the pen is mightier than the sword, and they prefer it, but if you provoke them to use the sword you will see the power to cast your armies out of their world entirely. Anything you muster against them will be destroyed to no purpose. Leave them be.” “How can you have lived so long making such bold threats?” Arbal sneered. “I would not threaten lords of Hell.” Tamaranis said, “If you attack the Pen I will be forced to stand against you, but it will not be me that breaks your armies. My contribution would hardly be noticed.” “And just why are you giving us this ‘warning’?” Graz’zt asked. “I know you’ve never been a true ally to any demon.” “This is a gesture of goodwill. As my lords have pointed out, I have been at odds with your agents in the past, and it has cost me dearly. I want to make it clear that I bear no ill will, that I am not your enemy. Please heed my warning. Remember that I helped you.” “We will consider your warning. We will remember your goodwill at our leisure.” Arbal said. Lesiet made a half-hearted attempt to ensnare Tamaranis, but as he’d expected the simulacrum shimmered and disappeared the instant his power touched it.
  16. Eye beams. Regarding feedback, though: I think some of us are just bad at it, I know I am. In the rare occassions I comment on something I try to actually contribute something useful, but sometmes I've just got no advice to give. But I still make a comment because sometimes it's good just to know someone read what you wrote.
  17. Usually these things go in the critics corner, I don't think there are actually any rules saying it can't be here, though... Anyway! I've been after you to change the formatting on your dialogue for what? Five years? Six years? Switch to conventional novel format! Yar!
  18. Seems to go one extreme or the other a bit... Katz got angelic, then I got pure evil and laughed, and she said it was a really creepy laugh and asked if I was laughing like that on purpose.
  19. Clearly this can't be a fantasy story as a marauding horde of orcs have yet to pwn raze any villages to the ground. Seriously though, updates for the win.
  20. Robby spotted the demons first, and with no cover and no effort to remain hidden he was sure they spotted him as well. But when he tried to draw them away they had no interest in pursuing him. Instead they continued directly after the main party and were content to let Robby race them there. The mounted men spotted them first and shouted warning before readying lances. Wren dismounted and began rhythmically pulling her arms across each other in front of her chest then stretching them out to either side. Licha closed her eyes and her armour became unaccountably shinier. Everyone else just drew a sword. Most other mercenary parties would have broke and run. This one only held its ground because every single one of them had already faced the demon invaders once before. Stumbling, rotting orcs made up the bulk of the force. As thoroughly wretched as they were they moved with a speed that showed masterful necromancy. Roughly a dozen human-like things, each one twisted and deformed in such a way as to leave no doubt that it wasn’t really human were scattered amongst them. Three more demons bore no resemblance to humans at all. The profile was similar to that of a centaur, but there was no man-like torso, only a headless pillar of flesh with a few long limbs haphazardly attached, each one ending in two feet of steel. Just before the monstrous and the human forces clashed Robby caught up with the lead demon. A roughly human thing with long arms or forelegs that touched the ground every other stride or so. Robby tackled it and they both went down in a tangle of limbs. There was an unpleasant sound of something breaking and only Robby stood up again. Then there was chaos. An absurd desire to fight the horde himself and thereby protect his entire party danced through Robby’s head as he dove out of the path of one of the centaur things. It was pierced by a lance but continued forward, its limbs snapped forward like whips. The rider parried one on his shield but two more cut deeply into the horse and snagged there. The horse screamed and fell, pulling the monster with it. The limb that that had missed the rider struck again, also finding purchase in the horse’s massive torso. The limbs that had already embedded writhed, digging deeper. The rider miraculously managed to fall free of that particular carnage. It occurred to Robby that now would be a good time to kill the centaur thing but instead he caught the spear thrust an undead orc had aimed at him. The spear stopped dead at his touch, the orcs momentum carried it onward until it met Robby’s shoulder and was hurled back, now relieved of its spear. Two more advanced, not giving him enough time to finish a zombie. Brygad placed an excellent shot on one of the orcs with a crossbow beyond all sense of proportion. The leg wounded leg wouldn’t normally slow it down, but it was bolted to the earth. The same bow somehow fired two more shots in rapid succession, and inflicted such tremendous damage on the torso of another orc that it stopped moving. Then the bow was discarded and he was in melee. Licha had allowed herself to be surrounded by squad of the undead orcs, who pressed in, trying to pull her to the ground with numbers and raw force. Their fingers burned and broke away when they touched her radiant armour. When the massive, iron-banded bludgeon she wielded in both hands struck an orc it was reduced to a shower of fiercely burning chunks of flesh. Never having been able to really contribute to a line, Robby moved and operated mostly on reflex while trying to keep track of his allies in the battle. Weapons lunged for him so he batted them away, limbs got close enough, so he broke them. Demons were falling, but there seemed to be fewer humans standing. The rider who had been unhorsed in the first few seconds he couldn’t see, another rider was also unaccounted for. Four men on foot, Llassar among them, held a spot of ground about two who had fallen. The two who were left mounted had pulled out of the melee and were readying another charge. Teq and Wren were fighting back to back, Licha was fighting completely alone. Half the almost humans were still standing, and along with one of the centaur things they made a rush at Teq and Wren. Too much. An orc barred his path but it stumbled as its knee broke and he moved on. A hammer descended, it met his hand and came to a stop for a moment, then he was out of reach. In one sweeping movement Teq’s sword intercepted three clawed hands. A finger sailed free. A demon moved forward and Wren moved back to evade it, then moved forward again, quickly slamming a pair of daggers into its throat, one after the other. A pair of scimitars moved toward Robby, caught his palms, drew red lines. Another attacker came from behind, the axe he evaded but its wielder stumbled into him. Off balance, losing momentum. As a clawed hand missed Wren she cut it to the bone from elbow to wrist. The demon kept coming on, stabbing at her with mandibles. She flowed away from the attack, leaving Teq’s back exposed. Too many undead, too close. Robby struck with both fists, imparting every bit of momentum he could. The orc took flight and he advance two steps before they closed in again. He lashed out in two directions at once, managed another step, walked into a sword. Teq faced down the centaur thing. Three sword-tipped arms striking almost too fast to see in addition to the hooves. The hooves had to much power and weight behind them to parry, so he moved around them while working his sword in a series of brilliant parries that kept the arms at bay. Then sudden, searing pain in his shoulders, stealing the strength from his arms. Robby kicked off an orc, twisted in the air and made it over two more. Another collided with him before he landed. He fell, weapons and fangs descended after him. Teq was dragged backward by the demon that had seized him. He split its skull as he fell, but the sword like tip of one of centaur demon’s arms slid through his throat as descended. The two remaining horsemen brought their bows to bear and a pair of arrows hit the centaur thing, it turned to charge them and received to more arrows. They fled and it stupidly charged after, pumping out its blood. Licha sent a dozen lazy tendrils of fire drifting into the mass of orcish undead that Robby had disappeared into. Each one wrapped around an undead limb then snapped tight, burning through it in an instant. Too little too late, Wren was left fighting five demons on her own. She struck with magic as fast as with her knives now, piercing minds as well as flesh. Demons were blinded or deafened, imagined the humans receiving reinforcements, saw Wren swell to triple her normal height… but they were too close to a kill to relent. There was no room to dodge anymore. Claws kept finding flesh. Wren started to slow. At some level the orcs realized striking at Robby with weapons and leaving him room to fight back was useless, so they pressed in, biting, crushing, stomping. For his part Robby was just as tireless as any zombie and kept on fighting to get past them, still holding to the idea that he could save Teq and Wren. Every time there was an inch of space or any freedom of movement he used it to strike using more force than should really be possible, earning another inch, a little bit more room. Then suddenly the orcs lost strength, his efforts were working, he was free of them! …just in time to see Wren’s final act of defiance. She didn’t have the strength to be agile and precise anymore. So when one of the creatures made yet another attack she caught it by surprise by stepping forward and embracing it. With her last ounce of strength she punched through the muscle of its back and ruined its lungs. The other four wasted no time attacking a defenceless target.
  21. Yeah, you've got to wait for Wyvern to respond to it.
  22. I find myself a little surprised at how swift the response was... ...that's all I've got to say on the matter, I guess.
  23. Well, it's a big story, and it's good, and I think people are a little intimidated to critisize it. Judge not lest ye be judged. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Etc. The matter isn't helped by the fact that I think Wyvern is really the best reviewer we've got going for us right now and it's hard to follow serious commentary from Wyvern with an "Oh, I like that part." ...which is about what I can offer. But anyway, one thing that had struck me as a bit off is the way exams were being handled. Now, it could be totally different in the U.S. of A. than in Canada, and maybe that's all there is to it, but you also mentioned you're 15, so it could be that too. Anyway, When I'm writing exams for university the symester ends, no classes no nothing for at least three or four days, then exams are written over the course of about two weeks. There's still plenty of people around the university during those two weeks, study groups, consulting professors, or just people getting away from distractions, etc, but for those two weeks I'd spend maybe 10 to 15 hours actually writing finals... but you tend to be busy during those weeks anyway. Could be nothing, of course. Could be the finals at the end of a symester are just really, really intense in the U.S. of A. and I'm just a crazy foreigner. Oh yeah, and the exposition that's been happening around now, and seems like it's going to be continued into the future... Wyvern already touched on this a bit. All I can say is pace it carefully. Seems like something that's going to be very tricky to do. And finally, I read this, I enjoyed it, and if you post more I'll read that too. If this is as much as you plan to post, I hope you can stick around so you can notify us when it hits shelves.
  24. Yeah, check your logic at the door, thanks.
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