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Thread: Through Forge and Flame

  1. #1
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    Through Forge and Flame

    "Kneel in my presence, mortal firecaller, and pray tell what insolence has brought weakness to my tower and temple?" The man looked as nothing more than a demon, and he may as well have been, by his temper. Great in size, with coal black skin mottled with cracks of glowing crimson, his short horns jutted but an inch above his angry visage and bare head. Huge and razor sharp nails tapped into the arm of a throne of obsidian, scoring it deeper and hotter with force and flame. The very air around the beast rippled with power and heat, and the immense curved scimitar of bronze leaning against the seat burned with hunger for fresh blood and battle.

    Across the vaulted and pillared hall kneeled a young man, slight and fragile in comparison, clad only in simple hooded robes of russet, a small blue-bladed knife tucked neatly in the sash. "O great Djinn, I have come seeking the counsel of the King of Flame and to learn what wisdom he has occasion to impart upon a meager magician of Philosophus grade." With this, Caduceus rose and allowed the cowl to fall back, revealing his faintly bearded jaw and piercing eyes.

    "Philosophus!?" the monster thundered, reaching for his blade as he stood. "I see before me a mere mewling neophyte, begging for scraps to which he has no claim! The Great Salamander has no call to heed impetuous dabblers!" The elemental roared in ire, cleaving the air before him even as his sword burst to flame. The earth rumbled and where he struck, a jet of conflagration erupted. Djinn charged forward, screaming, "Prove your worth, human!"

    And the young magician immediately began to question his master's wisdom in sending him to incite the creature's rage, even as he called up the power to, hopefully, rebuff the King.
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  2. #2
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    The door creaked as it opened, revealing a countenance the magician did not expect, a young lady's. "Shalom, miss..." he fumbled.

    "Gavrila," she supplied. "Gavrila Endora. Are you here to see Master Cicero?" She was at least five years his junior, with dark hair falling to her shoulders. Rather than the simple dresses he would expect of the other lasses of Hearthwood, she wore slacks and a tunic. They ill fit her, however, as if they were not her own, but belonging to an older brother, or her father in his youth.

    "Indeed, Gavrila. May I come in?" The girl stepped aside and led Caduceus inside, to a spartanly decorated sitting room. A pair of soft scarlet armchairs faced each other by a fire, with a slightly less comfortable-looking sofa on the opposing side. Nothing adorned the cobbled stone walls or the hardwood floor, though a small desk sat stacked high with books in the corner. The old man has taken her as his apprentice, then. As the girl turned to leave, presumably to fetch Chic, he spoke again. "Tell him that Chaim has come calling. He always used to call me that."
    Last edited by Zook Murnig; 11-29-09 at 02:01 PM.
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  3. #3
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    "Shaddai el Chai Atziluth," snarled the young man as the Fire King thundered nearer, closing the last few yards. He drew the dagger from his side and swept it through the air before him, the blade tempering his will into a hurricane in miniature. The powerful gale at once hurled Caduceus safely, though roughly, to the right and fouled his attacker's charge. His robes were buffeted about him as he caught himself in a crouch.

    Even as Djinn recovered his own balance, he was already preparing his retaliation. Short, guttural syllables echoed through the hall, and with his free hand the Salamander hurled a torrent of dark flames. Like a whip, they rushed out high, then were swung down upon the magician.

    "Adonai!" came the reply as Caduceus raised his fist as if a shield, and dark stone flew to his aid, a barrier of rock against the explosion that shook nearby pillars. He hardened his will against the onslaught, holding the wall of earth between himself and his foe while he worked to draw upon the very energies so scarce in the South Tower.

    Here, the active element of Fire held sway, and its polar opposite could gain only a token presence. And so the mage called out to its own stronghold, in the West Tower, a bastion of ice and Water energy. "Apas, flow to me." Another blast rocked the temple, and his mind with it. He knew that the spell would fail soon, without his full attention, and so he pulled harder still, grasping for whatever power he could.

    "Fool human, to think mere pebbles may hold back the tide of flame," jeered the monster. "You shall yet pay for the sully you have brought to my realm."

    Even in this blazing place, Caduceus began to feel a chill run his spine, whether from sheer terror or his next spell. He prayed for the latter as he dropped the shield and thrust out with his knife, screaming "ELOHIM TZABAOTH!!!"

    Magic rushed out of him, hastily aimed and focused upon his adversary's heat-wreathed face, and the air around it simply froze. The working didn't last long, however, before ice became water, and water became steam in that blistering blaze. Still, he earned a howl of pain and frustration for his efforts, and bought precious seconds to act as Djinn stood stunned, his glowing ember eyes squeezed shut.

    "Your name, dabbler," demanded the beast. "Your name, that I may know who has earned my greatest ire."

    The magician smiled and answered, "You may call me Chaim."
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  4. #4
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    Chic Ezra Cicero was at once a plain and unique individual to look upon. On the one hand, his basic features were of common stock for the village of Hearthwood, and most of Corone for that matter: somewhat stocky build, a prominent, but not overlarge nose, salt-and-pepper hair cut respectably close, a modest farmer's tan, and a myriad of other ordinary characteristics. On the other, he showed near to every mark of a life devoted to arcane study of one sort or another. One eyebrow had been scorched from his face and grown back kinkily, his hands displayed multiple burns from alchemical attempts long past, and tiny pinprick scars had formed over his left forearm, the remnants of blood letting for complex spellwork.

    And this remarkable countenance wore an expression of keen interest, and barely contained excitement – the man almost invisibly shook in his broad chest with each breath, and he leaned forward in his chair, hands clasped together tightly. "And once this creature, the Qlippoth, was defeated and bound, the middle pillar arose from its binding?" the man asked animatedly, his voice rough with age and use.

    "Yes, master. And when I awoke, a sign had formed upon my abdomen," the younger magician replied. "The mark of the goddess Luna."

    The elder shut his eyes tightly at this, falling back in his chair. He did not speak for several moments, considering. Finally, "This is...not unheard of, though I know of only one case in recent generations of this happening. I cannot say that his circumstances match yours completely without an examination of the mark, however." He looked his former apprentice squarely in the eyes. "Chaim, may I see this sign?"

    "Of course, sir," said Caduceus as he rose. As he pulled off his robes, vivid images flashed before his eyes of the previous night's excursion. The hands of a beautiful woman, undressing him similarly. Their embrace, and her departure the next morning, possibly to never meet again.

    He laid the garment down in the chair behind him, and paused self-consciously before lowering the waist of his trousers an inch to reveal the shimmering silver crescent above his loins. And two new shining marks on his hips.

    The master sat stunned, and Caduceus heard a gasp from the next room, drawing his eyes to meet with those of young Gavrila as she peered around the corner from the kitchen. She retreated almost immediately, and the magician returned his attention to the man across from him.

    "Caduceus, my boy, this is remarkable," he breathed. "And gravely serious."
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  5. #5
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    "How serious, sir?" hazarded the bare-chested young man. He felt his former master's gaze fixated on the two new sigils, those of Venus on his left and Mercury, his right, in green and orange, respectively.

    "Have you experienced in any unusual magical occurrences since your projection and meeting with the Qlippoth?"

    "Yes, sir. I managed to glimpse the goddess Luna in astral form just last night," he replied truthfully, though he did not dare go into further detail about the encounter. The old man wouldn't understand, he thought. And he certainly wouldn't approve of such activities.

    "I see. You may dress yourself, son," Chic instructed. "I think I may know what is happening."

    "Sir?" Caduceus, pulling his robes back over his head, became more and more nervous with each passing second. "What is it, sir?"

    The man sighed deeply. "I'm afraid your training will need to step up immediately. This creature bound within you is the demon of your self, and so long as it remains it will gnaw at you, clawing away at its binding. You will yet face it again, before long, and you need to be prepared for this confrontation.

    "To this end, you will need to practice the finer arts of the magician, and the more dangerous. The seal you placed upon the Qlippoth would seem to be a strong one, but your skills need to improve greatly in that area. This will require knowledge of the delicate magic that goes into enchantments, as the same principles apply. You will need to construct a wand, an implement of the Fire element to get a foothold in your studies."

    "But...but, sir... Wouldn't a magician study himself intensely before even attempting such a device?" Caduceus knew what happened to mages who tried and failed – most didn't get a second chance at it. It took months, sometimes years, to come up with the proper formulae to attune the object to its user's energies and habits within the Art.

    "Yes, Chaim. Which is why you must do one other thing first. It is more dangerous still, but this at least you have a chance of surviving without losing time in preparations. I believe you will be able to handle the Elemental Monarch of Fire, Djinn, though he will be a challenge even for you."

    "S-sir...what must I do?"
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  6. #6
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    Several hours later, Caduceus had calmed some and Chic had run through the basics of facing Djinn, and other astral entities of similar strength.

    Presently, he was seated facing the hearth, his breath steady and patient. His mind wandered outward from his body, and with an effort of will he released the bonds between body and spirit, and struck out astrally for the South Tower, home and temple of the Fire King, Djinn. He began to feel the intense heat, swallowing him and threatening to burn him to the core, but he would not abide it. Finally, he felt as if he were bodily in the heart of a volcano, and he waved an arm and coalesced, standing in a great hall, surrounded by pillars formed from solidified jets of magma, and an obsidian throne across from him.

    "Kneel in my presence, mortal fire-caller, and pray tell what insolence has brought weakness to my tower and temple?"
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  7. #7
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    "Chaim," the beast spat, clutching with one hand at its damaged eyes. "You are not Chaim, boy."

    "No, I am not," said Caduceus. "But that is how you will know me, O Salamander."

    Djinn screamed then, and it struck the young magician as more than sound. It was a wave of force, physical and psychic, hurling him roughly against a scorched and scorching pillar. His knife clattered across the floor of the temple as it slipped from his hand. Pressure built in his mind, hot anxiety and fear and doubt crowding his every thought out. The man slumped on the ground, curling and whimpering like a newborn babe.

    "Mortal, you will be cinder and sinew ere I finish with ye!" the roaring voice snarled. "You call vile Water in my presence! You take my sight in your insolence, thinking yourself safe from my ire without it! NEVER!!! Your mewling race has no place here, demanding my assistance!"

    A dry sob escaped the shivering form as phantom pains wracked his body with every word. Lightning coursed his spine, his mind on fire. He wanted to cry out for mercy, for forgiveness, but he could not draw the breath. He felt sure he was beaten.
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  8. #8
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    The magician lay in a heap on the floor of the cabin as Gavrila and Chic watched on. Sweat poured off him, and his body writhed in seizures and spasms.

    "Fight through it, boy!" Chic knelt by the heaving young man as he began to scream himself hoarse. Gavrila had taken position on his other side with a cool cloth, wiping the sweat from him as it cascaded from his every pore. This had been going on for several minutes, the convulsions growing stronger and stronger.

    "Gavrila, I need you to do something." The old mage's voice was shaking. "I need you to help him through this."

    "But sir-" The girl stared, panicking, at her teacher.

    "My girl, you don't want him to die, do you? You can help him to break free."

    "Sir, won't the creature detect my intervention? That would only endanger him more! And myself as well!"

    Chic wiped his hands over his face, thinking of a way to explain. "Caduceus is a hammer. He hits hard, and he hits fast. It is what he is good at." He looked her directly in the eye. "You, however, are a screwdriver. Your talents, as you know, lie in fine and delicate work. If you show him where to hit this spell, he can shatter it himself."

    "S-sir-" she started to protest once more.

    "Gavrila, you are my apprentice, and you will do as I say!" The graying man took on the aspect of a wild man, anger and desperation in his eyes. "I will hold him down, and you will do what you can to help him!"

    The young lady looked away, wincing, shame crossing her visage. "Yes, sir." As Chic turned the magician onto his back, holding his arms and torso down, Gavrila focused herself. Opening her eyes once more, she kneeled over Caduceus, leaning down to bring her face close to his. Warmth of embarrassment brushed her face as she kissed him, pouring a little of herself into him, searching for a weakness in the enchantment thrown over him.

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  9. #9
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    Alma Waterstone
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    Like this...

    Another mind joined Caduceus', instructing him in the ways to break loose from Djinn's assault, sharing in the pain and taking some of it from him so that he could act. The mage reached out tentatively, feeling at the soft spot, then gathered his strength and lashed out against it with everything he had.

    Suddenly, in a flash of intense pain, the sorcery broke and Caduceus could move again. Anger flowed in, filling the void created as fear fled. White hot rage vibrated in every fiber of his being– rage at being bound, at Djinn's dismissal of his strength, at his impotence against the psychic blast. He pushed himself to his feet, leaning on the hot pillar he had struck against earlier, drawing power from it. He pulled simmering power in through every pore, calling to the Tejas, fire energies, of the South Tower. He gathered more and more power until his muscles ached with the strain and he felt as though his eyeballs would collapse outward under the pressure. His hands began to tremble with the might of it, overwhelming every nerve and synapse with pure, unfiltered heat and ferocity.

    The magician braced his feet in a broad stance, drawing a five-pointed star before him with his right hand, the left holding his arm and aim steady. "YOD HEH VAV HEH TZABAOTH!!!" he roared, thrusting his palm out with all his strength into the center of the invisible pentagram, pouring the gathered energy into the blast. Where he struck the symbol, a roiling ball of flame burst forth, streaking toward the Fire King.

    The fireball burst explosively as it hit the target, hurling him through the heat-lit air and half taking out a nearby pillar. His flight was unslowed, however, as he continued to hurtle, spinning, into his obsidian throne. The stone shattered, throwing up dust and debris in a thick, dark cloud.

    Caduceus panted with exhaustion and, after a minute to regain his breath, shouted to his opponent, "I am Chaim, and I have come seeking the counsel of the King of Flame."

    As the smoke cleared, he heard a growling voice say, "And you have proven yourself worthy of my counsel and association, Magician of Philosophus Grade. Though, I am loathe to admit it."
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  10. #10
    ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו
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    As Caduceus awoke, among his initial impressions was that of lips locked to his own. Second to this was the raw physical and emotional need he felt to latch onto that sensation, experiencing life that had nearly been snatched from him in flame and fear. His mouth moved roughly, kissing those soft lips without reservation, his hands rising to feel and hold the face before his.

    And then, after a moment, they were gone.

    Light stung his eyes as he blearily opened them for the first time in hours. A blurry face came into view, pale skin framed by long dark hair. It retreated, and was replaced shortly, as vision became less clouded, by a more familiar, though less pleasant, countenance. "Caduceus, can you hear me?" asked Chic, his rough voice quick and low.

    Swallowing a lump of self-consciousness, the young man nodded. "I did it, Chic," he said, his throat sore with every sound above a whisper. "He contracted with me."

    That drew a crooked grin from the jigsaw visage of the elder magician. "Good work, Chaim. I knew you could do it." He pulled the former-apprentice up to sit on the floor before standing aside. "We've much to do, m'boy. But that can wait for tomorrow, when you've recovered." He gestured to the young lady. "Gavrila, take care of him. Make sure he's comfortable," he instructed before hurrying off.

    Silence reigned for several minutes as the pair, left alone together by the softly crackling fire, intensely avoided each others' gaze. Finally, Caduceus coughed and spoke. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"

    "No, no. It's okay." Gavrila flushed. "It was...nice. And I don't think Master Cicero noticed, in his excitement."

    "I was a little worried about that." The magician's ears felt hot. "Um...so, that was you? In my head, I mean," he stumbled, changing the subject.

    "Y-yes. Master Cicero says I have a gift for the more subtle arts. He says I'm not quite cut out to be a magician." Her red cheeks grew, impossibly, redder. "But he also says I would make a fine medium, as I grow into my...abilities."

    "Oh. Well, thank you. For the help, that is." He felt so foolish, sitting there in abject terror of a girl – No, he thought as he looked her over more closely, definitely a woman – several years younger than himself. "I might not have made it without you," he admitted, finally.

    He wrenched a spark of courage from his gut, and made the leap. "Could I kiss you again?" he hazarded.
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