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Thread: The Gnarled Roots of Osiris

  1. #1
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    The Gnarled Roots of Osiris

    (Closed to Gnarl & Root)

    I’m conscious…

    His eyes were open, yet he could see nothing.

    Am I…am I conscious?

    He couldn’t feel anything. Not his hands, his feet, his arms or legs.

    Where am I?

    There were no sounds. There wasn’t a feeling of hot or cold on the surface of his skin, or even a heartbeat in his chest. Everything in his mind told him he should be naturally expecting these feelings, yet they were missing entirely.

    Is this real?

    Suddenly, a cold prickling sensation spread over the top of his right foot. It was slight, at first, but grew stronger with every second, reaching his ankle and the bottom of his shin.

    What’s going on?

    A mist of murky, hazy purple began to seep through the darkness towards him. He could feel the same cold prickling sensation sweep across his face as the black void peeled away from him, slowly revealing his surroundings to him.

    The room, if you could call it a room, was smothered in a dense lilac mist that rolled over a dark granite floor and cascaded down from a cracked, mossy stone ceiling thirty foot above. There seemed to be no walls…just an expanse of void that stretched on far beyond what the eye could render, obscured by the thick steam-like substance pouring down from above.

    As the feeling returned to his face, Atlas could begin to taste an electricity in the air, a cold static that curdled the blood and left an awful metallic aftertaste on his tongue. Then suddenly, although muffled at first, sounds began to erupt around him.

    The hissing of steam, the snapping of an electrical current, the sound of his breathing and even his heartbeat echoed through his head. He still couldn’t feel anything below his neck and above his feet, and attempts to move his limbs were fruitless.

    “Welcome back.”

    The voice that spoke was soft but a little gruff. Atlas turned his head left in the direction of the voice and observed silently as a silhouette paced through the sickly marbled expanse of black and purple, distorted by the smoke in the same way scenery might be blurred by heat in a desert.

    The figure stopped short of him, just enough to ensure his features were mostly obscured save for a straw sedge hat and what appeared to be a cane to lean on.

    “Usually, it is difficult to speak after three years of having your mouth sealed shut. However, I’m going to guess you are the exception, no?”

    Atlas tried to muster up the energy for a response, but his mind drew a blank and his mouth remained shut.

    “No answer?” The man shook his head. As he did so, he caught a little of the light that was present in the room and Atlas made out some of his features. A short black stubble beard, a vagrant’s white and gold patterned haori from the neck down…and soft, mellow hazel eyes gazing back at him through the black. “I have to admit I’m a little shocked, but it can’t be helped. You’ve been treated with a little more intensity than your peers so it might take a little more time.”

    The man put his hands behind his back, resting back on his cane, and sighed.

    “Do you know your name?”

    Atlas pondered for a moment, willing his mind to try to remember, but he couldn’t make a connection. He shook his head in response, and it was the first reaction the man in front of him had gotten since his arrival.

    The man pivoted on his cane and walked back a few steps before stopping abruptly, waving a hand across his body to dispel some excess mist.

    “Your name is Atlas Revaan. You are a Telgradian soldier, a servant of His Royal Majesty and a vessel of his will. At this moment in time you are in a Telgradian facility called Kokushi, recovering from your wounds.”

    Atlas tried hard to think. Telgradian Soldier? Kokushi?

    “Don’t try too hard to think right now, Atlas, because your mind is still fragile. For now, just listen to what I have to tell you and know this: you were brought to Kokushi to heal after being gravely injured in battle in service of His Majesty. The properties of this thick mist in this place can help to re-construct the soul and body in its entirety.”

    The man paused, sighing again. He took off his sedge hat and wiped a bead of sweat from his head.

    “Sorry, as you can probably tell by now, the humidity here is a little heavy. Anyway, it is beyond my remit to discuss anything of this subject further. I have orders to prepare you for a meeting with the Telgradian Council and they will brief you further on your…situation. For now, I’ll release your remaining seals and give you a little time to get your body in working order.”

    The man raised his right hand, outstretching it towards Atlas, before muttering a quick and almost inaudible incantation. A ring of blinding silver light quickly expanded out from an epicentre close to Atlas’s heart, through his body horizontally and shattered into glimmering dust in front of his eyes. The man turned and began to walk away, dragging his cane with him, as the use Revaan’s arms and legs began to return to him.

    “…Dakuatsu number thirty…Shirubashakkuru…with half an incantation.”

    Atlas’s throat was dry and burning from inhaling some of the electrically charged mist as he spoke.

    “…I can’t remember much, but…I remember…Shirubashakkuru. A binding spell. You only used half…half an incantation” Atlas found himself struggling for breath after only these short sentences, and stopped.

    The enigmatic warden of this strange place stopped in his tracks, and had now spun to face him. This figure once again caught the light and his once relaxed expression had changed to shock, his eyes were wide with awe and his mouth slightly ajar. It took him five seconds or so to relax his demeanour.

    “So you can talk after all, Revaan. Impressive, very impressive! Even more so that you can recall the details of a Dakuatsu of that level after waking from a three year sleep.”

    Atlas fell silent again, his heart now pounding and his lungs burning from inhaling the strange purple smoke. The man tapped his cane on the floor and summoned a shimmering circular portal in the centre of the room.

    “ …but I recommend that you stop and rest now. The more you talk, the harsher the atmosphere of this place will be on your lungs. I will summon some attendants to take you from here shortly, so sleep for now. Farewell, Atlas Revaan. We’ll…”

    The man began to pace through the portal, its silver surface rippling as his body made contact with its surface.

    “…meet again.”
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 08-20-15 at 07:52 AM.

  2. #2
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
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    Renown for its beautiful architecture and rich culture of arts and music, the Telgradian capital city of Garah was the crown jewel of all of Telgradia. Its famous Lunar Harp Theatre attracted people from all over the country to admire poetry and prose, and to lose themselves in tales of love, comedy and war. The bustling Garah Markets brought endless streams of merchants and traders through the gates, fetching their finest and rarest wares for all to bargain for from the four corners of the world. The inns and wine bars served only the finest meads and vine from every possible archipelago and continent on the face of the planet, and their rooms were bursting with patrons, their streets littered with the happy drunks and the disorderly at kicking out time.

    The buildings in Garah were, by far, the most special sight and were the only ones of their kind in Telgradia. Constructed from a silver quartz-like material called Frach, the houses and structures spanning for miles and miles gleamed in the early morning orange hue of the sun, refracting light through their translucent skins to illuminate other nearby structures, who would share and pass on their own light.

    In the town square, the Council buildings were aligned in such a way that the early morning sunrise poured light into a Frach trough that encircled the Telgradian Royal Compound and struck through it. This created a glowing golden crest in the image of the Royal seal, which was visible in the town square until sunset.

    Atlas Revaan gazed upon the Royal seal from the third storey window of the Council’s headquarters, sipping hot tea slowly from an oaken cup as he awaited his audience with the council. Something about the image of the seal seemed to bother him, a small fragment of a detail lodged on the back of his mind somewhere, perhaps, but he couldn’t place it and thus dismissed it, shaking his head. He sat in a nearby chair, and cast his still weary eyes to the polished wooden floorboards, cradling his cup of half full lukewarm tea.

    I can still barely remember anything, and it’s still so painful to see. After so long in the dark, everything I look at is giving me a blinding headache.

    It was the first time in the three years he had been sealed that his body had ventured outside of the darkness of Kokushi or it’s internment section, so he had been told by his attendants, and his eyes were having immense trouble adjusting to the light three days later. Even staring down at a dull colour such as an oak floorboard was making his eyes ache, and his head thump, so much so that he dug his fingernails into his forehead and raked them through his hair irritably in a vain effort to release some of the pain.

    “Atlas Revaan?”

    A heavy, official looking sprucewood door at the end of the narrow white corridor had swung open, and in its doorway stood the heavy set features of one of the Telgradian Council’s messengers, complete with black coat-tails, white stockings and ceremonial white wig. Atlas looked up, slowly, making a visor over his aching eyes with his free hand to try and make out more of the man addressing him.

    “Yes?”

    “Apologies for the delay. Councillor Ra will see you now.”

    Atlas nodded slowly, prised himself out of his chair, and paced up the corridor, handing the empty oaken cup to the messenger on the way past. “Thank you” Revaan said, nodding and closing the door behind him.

    As he turned, he took in his new surroundings.

    The first thing that hit him was the rich scent of fresh wood, a very delicious scent indeed. The room was only about twelve foot squared but it was panelled in mahogany, furnished with ivory trinkets and finished with Frach detailing around the ceiling. A large marble table separated Revaan from the business end of the room, on which a traditional silver Telgradian ceremonial tea set was placed.

    Across from Atlas sat Flexton Ra. He was an imposing man, dressed in flowing and elegant black and red councillors robes, with hands the size of anvils and a belly that put about half a metre between him and the edge of the table. He stood up, running a swift hand through his greying locks.

    “Atlas Revaan, my boy! Welcome, please sit down.” He extended an inviting palm gesture for Atlas to sit.

    “Thank you, councillor.” Atlas responded, pulling up a nearby chair.

    “Tea?” Asked Flexton, gesturing towards the tray ahead of him. “Dxun told me that you have had a bit of a taste for the Tiger Leaf blend since you left Kokushi on Monday.”

    Atlas nodded, taking the pot and pouring the thin herbal blend into a silver teacup. He watched as the green liquid swirled around the cup, looking into his own weary eyes in the reflection of the surface of the tea.

    “Who is Dxun, if I may ask, sir? I don’t recall the name.”

    Councillor Ra picked up the teapot and poured his own tea, and sat down.

    “Dxun Ra, my son, was the first face you saw when you awoke. He came to wake you and perform the undoing of the seals that had been placed on you during your rehabilitation.”

    Flexton sipped from his tea, smiling as the green liquid washed over his dry lips. It was pleasant and refreshing. As he looked up from the rim of his silver cup, Flexton caught Atlas’s gaze. It was the first time he had really looked him in the eyes since he had arrived; they were deep, golden curious eyes. His brown hair was swept back to the crown, and for a man as old as he, Flexton could see a boyish charm about the lad. High cheekbones, strong frame. A fine Telgradian specimen indeed.

    Atlas broke the momentary stare, and coughed. He appeared puzzled about something and quickly spoke his mind.

    "He used Shirubashakkuru under half incantation to break my seals. My memory is still recovering but I remember a lot about Dakuatsu, and I seem to remember that spells numbering in their thirties were very difficult to control.”

    “Interesting…” Flexton said, surprised. “Your memory…some of it seems to still be intact? Quite a feat considering your lengthy stay in Kokushi.”

    Atlas sighed, sipping a little of his tea and averting his gaze from the window to stop his eyes from punching out of his skull.

    “Look, I’m not sure what happened before I ended up in that place. Dxun told me I was injured in battle and brought to Kokushi to heal. I don’t remember anything prior to yesterday, sir. All I was told was that I was required here at the Council.”

    Flexton nodded, sipping his own tea. “The Council doesn’t convene until next week, but I needed to see you before then. Can you spare me a little time for me to fill you in on your situation and a little bit about why you are here?”

    Atlas nodded. “Sir, I have nowhere else to be, to be honest. I don't know if I'm ready to be up and about yet, either, but I guess I'm all ears.”

    “Excellent.” Flexton stood up, lifting his weighty girth from his seat, and paced to the window, gazing out into the streets below.

    “Telgradia is a beautiful country, Revaan, and for all intents and purposes a content kingdom now that the civil war has ended and peace is here. However, for all of its surface appearances and brave faces, it is also true that Garah and Telgradia are in a period of transition. The civil war that had befallen the country three years ago has left deep, lasting scars on the face of the nation; both physically and psychologically."

    "The people had divided into two warring factions: those loyal to the rule of the King – Maxmillian Isa – and those who were discontent with the rule of the Monarchy, the separatists. Telgradia’s greatest general, of his own accord and against the Council’s wishes, seeked to help unify the nation under the rule of the Monarchy and set off with his trusted lieutenant by his side to end the war and defeat the separatists. But…something happened.”

    Flexton sighed, adopting a more serious tone. “That general and his lieutenant found something much, much worse than the seperatists in the Outlands. A whole Telgradian seperatist empire, one so big it was a wonder it went undetected for so long. They were organised, well funded, and well led. The general tried to assassinate Shinsou Vaan Osiris, the Emperor of this dark state, and failed.”

    Atlas frowned.

    “Shinsou Vaan Osiris was a powerful and dangerous Emperor who commanded absolute loyalty from his army and sub-ordinates. When they attacked, they were ruthlessly efficient at it. We received intelligence from our border force that they were transplanting augmented souls into soul stripped vessels of men to make their soldiers more powerful, and then letting them loose against our patrols to test them. Once they approached Telgradian Royal territory, even if we managed to hold them off for a few days, it made no difference. Osiris himself was a wielder of levels of Dakuatsu that have been as yet unreached by our scholars and used a great deal of it to murder tens of thousands of people and turn the tide of the war in his favour.”

    Atlas’s demeanour changed. He started itching on his right arm, and he looked anxious. Flexton hadn’t noticed, and was still facing the window.

    What is this…I’m feeling?

    “It was curious, though. Shinsou, however, seemed to weaken the further away from the Outlands he travelled, and was captured after Dxun had a short skirmish with him. We thought that something in the Valley of the Jalshey, Shinsou’s birthplace, may have been giving him power but we were never able to verify that."

    “Was he executed?” Atlas asked.

    “It’s complicated. His soul was razed from him and stored in a Pillar artefact – a crystal vessel – whilst his body was cleansed. Essentially, Shinsou no longer exists, save for that Pillar. And this…” Flexton paced back towards his seat, throwing his weight into the chair and crossing his leg. “…is why we need you.”

    “You need me, sir?”

    “Yes. The Pillar of Osiris is an extremely potent object that will try to manipulate and overcome its bearer in the hope of possessing him or her, giving Shinsou a new vessel. We wish to destroy it, for the good of all Telgradia. Up until yesterday we were on course to do so, but we believe the Pillar has been stolen by someone with connections to Shinsou and that someone has taken it to a realm called Althanas. We last felt its trace presence on an inhabited part of Althanas called Corone, an island nation and a melting pot of all sorts of cultures making it very easy to blend in and hide. You have a fresh mind and a fresh body after your experience in Kokushi and we believe you to be the ideal candidate to retrieve it for us, as the Pillar’s effects will take much longer to get a grasp on you than it would our other men. It is indeed a vile item, but you will be afforded every protection.”

    Atlas fell silent, placing an empty teacup back onto the silver tray in front of him. His eyes were still throbbing, and he was internally wrestling with his head to suppress the headaches, but he mustered up the strength to respond.

    “I have to ask, sir. Why me? I'm just a soldier, a nobody, really."

    Flexton leant in, prodding a fat finger towards Atlas over the table, a glint in his eye.

    “...because, my lad, you were our missing general, and I know what you can do."

    What?!

    "Yes, it was you. The one who stumbled upon the hidden Telgradian empire. Dxun found you gravely injured and brought you home to heal you after your encounter with Shinsou Vaan Osiris. You brought hope to many, and the name Atlas Revaan is revered and immortalised here in Garah. You will not have seen it for yourself, yet, as you have been shut off from the world for some time. But mark my words lad, there will be quite the circus about you if word gets out you have returned home."

    This can't be real.

    "Atlas, you must make no mention of your identity to anyone outside the Council or Telgradian Army until you leave the realm by portal. If you do, our little excursion might be compromised.”

    “Try not to think about it too much, lad.” Flexton rose from his chair, offering his hand, which Atlas hesitantly took. He stood, head bowed, gazing into nothingness for a moment as he tried to take it all in.

    “One more thing…” Flexton said, putting a comforting hand on Atlas’s shoulder. “I’ve assigned someone to you, to look after you until the mission. His name is Jaeger Keats, a Colonel in the Telgradian Royal Guard. He’ll make sure you are well looked after. For now, return to your barracks, and he’ll swing by and introduce himself later.”

    Atlas nodded slowly, still a little dumbstruck. “Thank you…”

    Flexton Ra nodded and ushered Atlas politely through the door, closing it behind him. There was a soft clicking of a latch as the door shut and a wheezing cough from the other side of the door.

    I’ve really got my hands full with this.

    Atlas looked ahead of him, past a waiting gentleman on the left who had taken his seat, and began to walk towards his dormitory.
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 08-20-15 at 07:54 AM.

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  3. #3
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    Gnarl & Root's Avatar

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    The sun finally peaked back in through the steel barred window, escaping from out behind the cloud cover. The large puffy cumulonimbus clouds had covered the skyline for the past few days, the rain hadn’t yet come but the ever altering skyline was the only thing that changed from his four walled cell.

    Gnarl watched the outstretched shadow of the bars slowly make their way around the room, was the sun moving that quickly through the sky? Or was it simply another illusion that derailed him from the reality of his enclosure? The cold stone upon which he lay felt more comfortable now than it had previously, not that it had changed physically, but because by now, after so long he had forgotten what a real bed felt like. No straw or cloth of which to rest his head, no layer upon which to separate the cold and the daily rumble that shook the whole room like an earth quake, but it most certainly was no quake.

    Gnarl felt the rumbling once more, the grinding of stone as if his cell was moving, loose stones and dirt would rattle on the floor around him, while the vibrations that ran from the floor to his tired body felt somewhat relaxing. Gnarl stared at the floor, the same few pieces of dirt shaking about the stone paving by his face slowly made their way involuntarily towards one side of the room like a race from one side to the other; at least they were racing in his own imagination.

    Stoney, his faithful rock remained still, only small itself, but a clear white that distinguished it from the rest of the darker dull stone of the cell walls and floor. Stoney had been his only friend, and even with the rattling room coming to a stop, Stoney’s fist sized bulk never moved.

    “Why are you looking at me?” Gnarl asked Stoney.

    “I can’t look at you, I have no face.” Stoney replied.

    Gnarl looked confused, his small friend was right, he indeed had no face, and therefore lacked any expression and emotion. He hadn’t ever needed a mouth to talk, Gnarl could hear him wherever he was, that was strange enough, but how could Stoney see without any eyes?!

    “I owe you a face…” Gnarl mumbled in thought as he let at a long deep breath of boredom.

    “The real question is…Why are you looking at me?”

    Gnarl looked away for a moment, covering his face with his dirty hands, and then taking a light peek through his fingers to watch Stoney from a more hidden perspective.

    “You can’t hide from me…I know you’re looking from behind those fingers of yours.”

    Gnarl removed his hands and revealed a surprised face, only a smudge of his usual face paint that ran down from his eyes remained, his usual black lined cheeks now more of a grubby mess. Stoney could see him no matter what, and he was yet to even have any eyes, what power of the gods did Stoney have? Licking his dry lips Gnarl rolled his head back and stared at the ceiling, the plain grey stone ceiling was as bland as could be, only a few metal pegs broke up the mass of grey, and they were out of reach, ready for a prisoners chains to be attached to them once again. Yet guessing by the light grime and moss that protruded from its grooves it showed they had not been used in some time. Gnarl had imagined being chained to them, hanging from the ceiling like a corpse hung to spread fear to the masses; yet in here nothing and no one could see him. There was just silence…

    Then, a flickering of a shadow passed the window, and a large head with pointy ears shadowed the wall, the enlarged shadow making the figure somewhat intimidating and yet this was not the case; just more illusion. Gnarl stared at the shadow on the wall and crawled over to it, dragging his tired self until he could reach the smooth rock wall, and he stroked it while purring to himself as he imagined the cat beside him.

    “I miss him Stoney, it has been a long time.”

    “It concerns me to see you lose your mind in this way…” The rough almost growling type voice spoke out loud.

    “ROOT?!” Gnarl exclaimed at the top of his voice, as he turned around and raised himself to his weary feet.

    “I hope you realise you’re not going to stroke me like that?” Root replied nonchalantly, the small grey and black marked cat stood proud as his small frame allowed him to slip between the prison bars. His azure eyes glinting ever so slightly enough to allow Gnarl to make out his shadowed face.

    “This place…” Gnarl muttered as he wandered towards the window. “It steals your sanity, and I find it hard to believe what it real or unreal before me.”

    “Well it has taken me way too long to find this window again. I was starting to think I’d lost you.”

    “Too long.” Gnarl sighed.

    “But let me be clear, your time amongst these walls draws to a close, and I look forward to actually seeing you under the sunlight once again. Your skin looks ever pale without enough sunlight, should you be here any longer then I’d suggest you stand by it more often.

    Anyway, pick option three, it’ll help me ensure your freedom. Option two will only make things more difficult, and option one, well, unless you wish to become another man’s love slave I highly suggest you don’t pick that one.”

    Gnarl smirked at Root, his freedom so close now he could taste the fresh water and imagine the warmth of the sun once again shining upon his skin. Finally Root has returned to save him, his friend, while feline, was releasing him from the prison that no man could. The strangest but cleverest cat he had ever seen and while looking just like any other common cat, he hadn't ever met one that could talk or think like this, what or who Root really was, was a mystery.

    Yet it had never really mattered, Gnarl spoke to Stoney, and he was normal, so what was so wrong with a talking cat? Nothing.

    What seemed like sudden, came the incoming footsteps of another man, a guard who would usually push through a plate of food and water. He could tell it was the same man, the stuttered footstep of a man with a slight limp, only minor and yet noticeable to Gnarl, a man who had all the time in the world to notice such a minor thing.

    Gnarl leaned back against the wall and stared at the door, watching the small metal food hatch, expecting it to open as usual and yet this time, the loud and clear screech and thud of the heavy unlocking latch echoed over the cave like chamber.

    "Option three." Root quickly repeated.

    "What?" Gnarl replied as he continued to watch the forever locked door finally open.

    He Stepped inside, the guard who had fed him all this time, for months or years maybe, he wasn't sure just how long he had spent in here. Yet it was the first time since he arrived that he had laid eyes upon him. The bearded man, dressed in a long but fancy looking tunic, decorated with a gold looking lace and thread, yet still mainly sown out of a more common cloth or cotton, he looked smart for a guard. Gnarl looked down at his own clothes, old more ragged leather, tired looking and well used, but durable and still particularly undamaged, it has survived this long, so he couldn’t complain.

    "Option three!" Root whispered once more.

    "Who are you talking to?" The man asked confused as he stared suspiciously at Gnarl, then the window, and then Root.

    "Myself...I often speak to myself, alone in my home..." Gnarl wandered away from the window and picked up Stoney, offering out his hand to the guard. "And Stoney! He keeps me mighty good company! Albeit he is the only company I have here in my…mansion."

    The bearded man stood unconvinced for a moment while two more guards, cautiously more armoured than himself appeared silently outside the room. Still holding onto the door he considered shutting it again, Gnarl had been left alone for some time, had his isolation sent him insane? Scratching his bearded chin with indecision he looked back at Root, the quaint looking cat sat innocently on the sill of the window, rubbing his head against the metal bar rather convincingly.

    "Meow!"

    The guard smirked and glanced back over to Gnarl. "Alright, my name is Nius, and I am here to escort you to your ruling. You're going to my lord, where you will present yourself before him curiously and then you'll be given three options to choose from. Listen to him carefully, and do not speak until he allows you to speak. You will pick an option from a series of choices, and it will determine your fate. There are no second chances, and there is no changing your mind."

    Gnarl looked over to Root, but only found an empty window. "What if I choose nothing?"

    "Everyone chooses. Now follow me out, you step anywhere you're not supposed to and my friends..." He gestured to the overseeing guards. "Will kill you in an instant."

    Placing Stoney into his pocket, Gnarl dusted himself off, however pointless in his situation, then took a deep breath to steady his nerves as his heart raced at the mere thought of being outside of his cell. What was waiting for him outside the door? Was there women awaiting his presence and was it raining outside?

    Gnarl looked out the window for what felt like the final time, Root was long gone and the dark clouds did indeed prepare for a lashing down of rain. Oh how nice it would feel to be rained on once again.

  4. #4
    Master of Puppets
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
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    31
    Race
    Human
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    Male
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    Brown
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    Gold
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    Atlas? Look at what they have done to you.

    At first the figure was no more than a shimmer of mist, diffusing through the cold night air. As it drifted through the musty room the furniture became slightly out of focus, like a poorly taken photograph.

    It wasn't until Atlas closed the door behind him that it congealed into a form, a silhouette of a man with brilliant white eyes, a silver skin and the smile of a predator. His clothes were odd, like a ceremonial Telgradian uniform but half burnt, and from one hand dangled a severed head.

    Atlas’s head.

    You don't know me, but I know all about you.

    For a moment all was silent, then suddenly the tell tale click of the door locking. Atlas froze. He could hear music now, a violin-led heavily distorted version of the Telgradian national anthem. He took a step backwards. Then the ghoul spoke, and not with the voice of a man but with the rasping tones of an old fifty-a-day smoker.

    You're the best of them Atlas, it's not fair. They did this to you and I don't want history to repeat itself. I don't want you to end up like…

    His grin became a snarl, baring teeth like a wolf, and he drifted closer without taking a step. Atlas opened his mouth to scream but nothing came out. The thoughts accelerated inside his head. He wanted them to slow so he could breathe but they wouldn’t. His heart was hammering inside his chest.

    I don’t want you to end up like…

    The phantom smothered him, covering him in a blanket of darkness, and then suddenly the ground opened up beneath his feet. His stomach wrenched as he fell, and the air sucked out of his lungs.

    Suddenly, there was nothing.

    “Fuck!”

    Atlas sat bolt upright. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead and off the end of his nose. It took a few seconds for him to take everything in; the whitewashed stone walls of his room, the still fresh scent of lime from the burnt oyster shells used in the whitewash, the flickering candlelight of a bedside lantern. He threw back a white sheet that served as his duvet and placed his feet on the cold stone floor, resting his elbows on his knees and placing his head in his hands, ruffling his brown hair and heaving a massive, chesty sigh.

    Another sleepless night. But this one felt different to before. I know that voice. Who was that?

    Atlas stood up, and threw a shirt over himself, tucking it in to his loose pants. As he went over to the lantern, shadows danced about the walls and a cold draft blew in from the window, making the hairs on his arms stand on end. Atlas paced over to a mirror, leaning on a rail in front of him, and peered into it, lifting up his shirt. For a man so apparently brutally wounded, he had no scarring, no tell tale signs of wear and tear, which he thought odd for someone who had taken as much punishment as was being suggested by Dxun and his subsequent meeting with Flexton.

    Curious, he ran his palm over the skin. It was soft, tender, supple…not the skin of a soldier. He would have expected the skin of a soldier to be weather beaten, rough, and nicked. Maybe he was being paranoid. Without a working memory it was easy to be suspicious of everything.

    Or is it? If that’s the case, why did I accept Councillor Ra’s mission without question? I mean, I don’t remember anything prior to a couple of days ago. Should I have been suspicious? I’m a soldier, after all…I follow orders, I don’t act on hunches. Even so…

    Suddenly, there was a loud rapping at his door. Atlas dipped his head away from the mirror and walked to the heavy oak door, pulling it open using the black iron ring handle.

    There was a man stood in the doorway. He was tall, slim built, and neatly dressed in some sort of uniform; black trousers and waistcoat with an open collar white undershirt. He wore a grey greatcoat, opened down the middle, and strange shoes that looked more akin to something from a dinner party than military dress. His hair was short, black and slicked back, the ends of the strands curling slightly, and behind a thin, gold pair of spectacles were eyes so dark they were almost black. The man’s hands were tucked into his coat pockets. Atlas couldn’t help notice his cold expression, it was particularly striking.

    “Revaan?”

    “Yeah?”

    “I’m Keats. Can I come in?”

    Atlas looked puzzled. “What do you want? You were supposed to be here a couple of hours ago, I’d given up on you. I need to sleep, really. It’s late.”

    “It’s not about what I want, Revaan.” Keats strode in anyway, brushing past Atlas without much resistance. Atlas shrugged, and closed the door. “It’s about what’s right.”

    Atlas was still confused. He stood there for a moment, flummoxed. Keats continued, lowering his voice to a mere whisper, leaning in to Atlas’s ear.

    “I can’t talk long. As you know, I’m one of your assigned bodyguards for this little trip we are taking. I’m telling you now, be careful where you place your trust. Believe only half of what you see, and none of what you hear. Your life may depend on it.”

    Atlas looked a bit rattled. He stepped back, brushing a hand through his untidy hair. “What? What do you mean?”

    Keats stopped dead, pulling back his head to click a bone in his neck. There was something very cold about him, perhaps a lack of feeling in his voice or a chilling glint in his eye. Whatever it was, Revaan couldn’t place it. He just knew it spooked him a little.

    Atlas had heard enough. “Look, I don’t want to be rude but I don’t know why you are telling me all this. I can’t hear this right now. I need to sleep. If you have something to say, tell me tomorrow when my head is right.”

    Keats walked back towards the door, stopping just short. Atlas had already turned his back to replace the lantern onto the bedside table, hoping Keats had spoken his last for the night.

    “You don’t know me, Atlas, but I know you. Oh yes…I know all about you. Look what they’ve done to you, Atlas. You’re the best of them and look what they’ve done…”

    What? That voice…!

    By the time Atlas had spun round, there was no-one there. Keats had vanished into the night as quickly as he had appeared without so much as a sound, and Atlas was left alone in the dance of the candlelight to contemplate the words of his enigmatic bodyguard.

    The next morning, the early dawn sun poured over the military compound and filtered in between a crack in the curtains in Atlas’s room. He stirred slowly, throwing back the covers and stretched until his fingertips stubbed the headboard. Opening his eyes he caught a glint of the sun before casting his gaze to the door that Keats had come from last night.

    There was an envelope on the floor.

    Frowning, Atlas rose to his feet and paced across the cold slabbed floor, scooping the letter from the tile. He whisked his thumb across the edge, slitting it in two, and unfolded the paper.






    Let’s have a little breakfast meeting tomorrow. Ask the fat-man Flexton to set up a training session in the morning and if you impress me, we’ll talk. You could probably use the exercise anyway.

    -Keats

    PS – Bring a towel.
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 09-18-15 at 05:29 PM.

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    "Yes Baldrick, but you never said 'wibble'."


  5. #5
    Master of Puppets
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
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    31
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    Human
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    Male
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    Brown
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    Gold
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    8:30am – Telgradian proving grounds – 10km from Garah.

    Atlas skirted around a pile of brown frosted leaves, the innumerable flashing fragments shining in the brilliant wintry dawn light, for today there was no weather; no wind, no cloud, just sub-zero temperatures. Even the leaf stems lay white and sharp. Ahead the narrow Frach path glistened like white quartz, carving a snow-capped forest in two before arriving at a wasteground clearing.

    All this beauty over everything ugly. And here I am to add to it with a sparring session on a cold winter morning.


    Revaan paused, his breath rising in visible puffs. He remembered why he came, even though he didn’t want to. He had agreed to some "refresher" course in close quarter combat. He'd gone to the second highest authority available to him, Flexton Ra, and asked for Keats specifically to train him, something that had surprised the councillor. Keats was a member of the Telgradian Royal Guard, an elite unit, far stronger than the common soldier. Atlas needed to talk to Keats, though, and this was the only way of getting hold of the bastard, apparantly.

    There was no wind and were it not for the biting cold Atlas wouldn't have noticed the air at all. He was more accustomed to these temperatures meaning moisture, but it was tinder dry and dehydrated him every bit as fast as summer heat. With each breathe precious drops deserted him and his headache grew. The snow at his feet was looking more inviting all the time and so every few minutes he ducked down to take some and place it on his tongue to melt.

    “General Revaan.”

    The first man that walked into the clearing looked liked an aged version of Keats. At first his eyes were cast to the snowy earthen floor and then he seemed to suddenly realize he was at his destination, at the rendezvous. He lifted his head. His face had the same structure as Atlas’s, high cheekbones and symmetrical. He had the same gold eyes and pale skin. He was still slender despite his years, toned and not at all stooped.. Around his eyes were laughter lines in just the right amount. Revaan supposed that he was often happy, but at that moment he was deadly serious.

    The second man was Keats, the enigmatic messenger from the previous night.

    Atlas raised a hand to wave. The man’s face split into the smile Atlas had imagined him to wear often. Then he came over in fast easy strides, ones that crunched in the snow, with Keats by his side.

    “Atlas, good to meet you. My name is Osho, I’m responsible for your refresher training.”

    His face shone in the dawn light which was beginning to pour over the glade. Osho gestured to his left.

    “This is Colonel Jaeger Keats. He is a serving member of the Telgradian Royal Guard, and he will be putting you through your paces today to make sure you can handle the rigours of battle, just in case you run into any trouble. Remember – you have only been out of Kokushi for three days. We aren’t expecting you to pull up any trees yet, so take it easy, and just try to familiarise yourself with your skills. Now, I’ll leave you in Keats’s capable hands.”

    Osho gave a final respectful nod towards the pair, and turned, striding back through the clearing from the direction he came.

    There was a moment of silence. The two men stood face to face, a couple of feet apart. Atlas studied Keats carefully for a moment, looking for a change of expression, but none was forthcoming.

    “When you came to see me last night, you talked about “what they’ve done” to me, and “being the best of them.” What was all that about, Keats? You shot off before I could ask.”

    Finally, Keats broke his expression, laughing.

    “That? A heavy night on the old tipple, must have been pissed as a fart when I dropped in on you. I’d come from an officer’s retirement bash in the mess. We tend to get a bit heavy duty in there when it comes to the ale. Magic stuff.”

    His tone was jovial, but not particularly convincing.

    “Bollocks. You weren’t pissed. I couldn’t smell so much as a whiff of beer on your breath.”

    Keats shrugged.

    “Is that so? Well, maybe I can handle my drink better than most, mucker, but ale is ale. Does things to the mind, you know. You’d know plenty about that an’ all. But I’ll tell you what, general. If you can beat me one on one, it might just be enough to clear the hangover and get the old memory working again. What do you think, you up to it?”

    Atlas smirked, brushing his hair back.

    “Yeah, I’m up to it, but if you won’t come clean about these little secrets, I’ll just have to beat them out of you!”

    He suddenly jerked forward, throwing a crisp right jab at Keats’s left cheek. Keats saw it coming and pivoted on his right foot, bringing his body ninety degrees and blocking with a solid left palm. He stepped in towards Atlas, counterattacking with a low right kick. Atlas quickly crouched, throwing up left arm to block the kick. A shooting pain shot up his arm and shoulder like a lightning bolt as the boot connected with his flesh.

    “Quick and instinctive. Good!” Keats said, grinning. “This might just be worth missing breakfast for!”

    “You’re starting to piss me off!” Atlas growled. “Arrogant little shit!”

    Atlas pulled his arm away and rolled backwards. The snow peeled from the ground as he went, lifting bits of debris with it. Untucking out of the roll, Atlas staggered backwards a few more yards and righted himself. Keats looked bemused.

    “Why did you do that? Putting distance between us? It won’t matter, I can close that gap in an instant!”

    Suddenly, a faint glow appeared in Atlas’s eyes. His smile was wry. Through his eyes Keats could see something, a gold-orange circle around their pupils. Then, Atlas raised his right hand, outstretching two fingers together.

    They were pointed directly at him.

    “Dakuatsu forty: Shinohai!”



    A blanket of silence covered the clearing. Nothing happened.

    Frustrated, Atlas tried again.

    “Dakuatsu number forty!...”

    Shit!

    “Performance issues?” Keats asked, mockingly. “Don’t worry, happens to a lot of men. One out of ten I hear. Still, practice makes perfect.”

    Suddenly, Atlas felt naked and vulnerable. He tried to deflect.

    “Who are you, really?” Atlas enquired. “I know enough about Dakuatsu to know that casting a forties tier spell without an incantation would raise a few eyebrows here, yet you were almost expecting it and only seemed to be surprised when it failed. Why?”

    Keats stayed silent. Atlas detected something at this moment, a similar feeling to that he felt when Councillor Ra was briefing him. Was it suspicion? Just what was it that people were trying to hide from him?

    After a moment, Keats sighed heavily, and shook his head.

    “You want to take all the fun out of it, don’t you? Let me show you how it’s done.”

    He outstretched his right arm, revealing a black tattoo that spiralled up like twisted vines to his bicep. It began to glow a scarlet hue as Keats pointed two fingers at Atlas.


    “Let the scales fall from their eyes, the blind, and let them know their own powerlessness. Let the wind carry their ashes to the sun, and scatter them."





    Shit! A full incantation for…


    “Dakatsu number forty: Shinohai”



    There it was, from the tips of Keats’s gloved fingers... a colossal grey wave of razor sharp ash, sweeping towards Atlas at over one hundred miles per hour. It was rushing, racing, roaring towards its target with a frightening pace.

    Atlas’s body was paralysed with fear, his breath coming out short and sharp. He knew he had to run, but his legs refused to move. He watched, eyes glued, as the wave surged in, threatening to destroy everything in its path. It was unbelievably strong, powerful, almost unstoppable.

    “…Ugh.”

    His lanky arms twisted to protect his body from the constant slashes of Shinohai’s relentless cloud of razors. His skin, cracked and rough, stung bitterly as he awaited his enemy's next assault, but it did not come. His body remained tightly knotted, still anticipating Shinohai's next blow; once again, it did not come. Blood seeped from a hundred small cuts over his body, his clothes torn where the ash had slashed him, and though he expected a follow up, there was nothing. Atlas finally crumpled to his knees, his heart racing, his breathing laboured. He was alive, but he was hurt.

    Keats sighed, ravelling his cuff back down to the wrist. He was smiling as he trod over the bloodstained snow, leaving a trail of bloody bootprints behind him. As he reached Atlas, he knelt down and spoke into his ear, almost mad with delight.

    “Now that’s just magic! That’s what I want to see! Survival instinct! Anyone else would have needed peeling off the walls with that level of attack.”

    He wiped the saliva from his lips, and coughed. Atlas looked up, clutching his injured torso, cradling his slashed right arm.

    “I want to make you remember, Revaan. There’s power in you. I’m talking about real, tangible power, not just fighting spirit, or will to survive, or any of that crap. Don’t keep me waiting long for it! I’ll see you soon!”

    Keats spun to greet some approaching attendants, who were appearing just through the tree lines. They carried water, medical supplies and other small items, and as they came across the clearing Keats passed them on the left, heading for the path to Garah.

    “He’s ready. He’s definitely ready for this. Get him a towel or something.” He said, wryly grinning to himself. "Looks like he forgot to bring one after all."
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 09-18-15 at 05:35 PM.

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    "Yes Baldrick, but you never said 'wibble'."


  6. #6
    Reaching beyond the stars
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    Gnarl & Root's Avatar

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    Nervously Gnarl moved out of his prison, past the guards and into the long candle lit corridor, the guards shiny armour reflected each flicker of the many candles as they began marching forward, ushering him to keep up with Nius. Gnarl frantically skipped a few steps as he marched into sync with Nius in front of him, his legs taking a few moments to get used to moving beyond that of a couple of steps. It wasn't an attractive corridor by any means, more a continuation of his old dank dwelling but it felt a little less claustrophobic than the same four walls he had spent such time in.

    Gnarls mind ran free, the thought of seeing the outside world was exciting him more and more, the possibilities, the experiences...he missed them all! No more walls! No more walls!

    "hurmmm, hummm hurmph...."

    Gnarl looked over his shoulder for the speaker, the cold stares of the ever watchful guards met with his more timid gaze. If they were talking, then they were clearly whispering about him or something else he wasn't to know about. Gnarl faced forward again, he didn't want to give either of them the chance to use the threatening looking halberds they held alongside.

    Gnarl wasn’t easily intimidated, but he appreciated the impressive appearance of the armoured men, the chainmail undergarments, the plated chest and shoulders, and the black staff of the Halberd that held the shiniest of steel blades together. No expense was spared in their creation and their visual display as they led him away from the dark recesses of his cell and to what he expected to be a brighter more pleasant place; was promising.

    "hurmmm, hummm hurmph...." The muffled voice repeated.

    "What?" Gnarl questioned towards whoever was willing to respond.

    "What do you mean what?" Nius replied a little annoyed as his eyebrow raised skeptical of Gnarls sanity.

    Gnarl looked back rather confused, his eyes widened with embarrassment as Nius stared back at him like he was crazy. Even if he was, he had to ensure he contained himself for long enough to get out of here. “Oh, err...I was going to ask a question, but changed my mind.”

    Arriving at the end of the corridor, another door with another equally large lock, shifted open before him after a swift knock from Nius. Gnarl felt the urge the cover his eyes, if only for a moment as he left the darkness for the final time to step into a well-lit corridor. There was no hesitation and no delay as they passed through, straight into a next corridor, brighter and much cleaner than the dim and damp passage he had just travelled.

    Immediately he smiled, there was an actual carpeted floor, with a long red rug that ran straight down the center of the posh corridor. The stone walls painted a cleansed white, and large burnt out candles sat in the small wall pockets leaving the only visible black marks on the clean architecture. The sunlight entering in through the large glass less windows brightened the corridor without the need for any lit candles. Where were the dark clouds again?

    A light but cool breeze blew down the corridor, wafting down with it the smell of freshly cooked food. Some sort of bakery perhaps? His mind continued to wander and his stomach continued to growl at the thought of attaining some of this food.

    hurmmm, hummm hurmph...."

    Gnarl listened again, his eyes dancing back and forth between potential culprits, who was making such a racket at a time like this? Was it a test to see exactly how crazy he was? He wouldn't react, he couldn't let them win, he had to escape. Trying to change his mind set, Gnarl reached out and touched the creamy coloured wall, then a sudden strike slapped his hand hard as the pole of a halberd knocked him clear of the wall.

    "Keep your hands to yourself!" He shouted from behind, the same angry and suspicious eyes that continued to plague him would not relax even for a moment.

    He stroked his hand as if to rub away the pain, before retreating his playful hands into his pockets for a bit of security. The rough surface of Stoney quickly became clear, he had almost forgotten he was in his pocket.

    "Hurmph...hmit's about time...it rather restricting in here." Gnarl nearly spoke out loud in reply but for Stoney's interruption. "Don't talk...Just listen. This is your chance to find a way out...don't mess it up. You can't afford to try and make an escape now, the guard on your right is lazy, but his counterpart who hit you is more than just angry. Don't get taken in by the delights of the open world. Concentrate."

    Wait..hold up second...your voice is in my head...how could you possibly be muffled?

    Gnarl continued quietly behind Nius, almost biting his tongue to ensure his silence before then stopping by another even larger more open entrance to a considerably larger room. The boxed style corridors were no more, the tall arching ceilings immediately opened into a visual spectacle that was one mighty grand hall of god like proportions. Gnarl lost himself for a few moments, he wasn't sure where the lay his eyes: the giant cylindrical marble pillars, the artistic designed ceiling of crossing beams and arching supports, the huge marble pavings that they walked upon, each larger than his own cell, inhuman in size, but then before him the uplift in the floor gave rise to a small staircase leading to a raised platform of seating and its occupants.

    for the first time in a long time, Gnarl was not fidgeting, nor was he feeling the need to speak to Stoney, for the first time in a long time he could be alone in his own thoughts without sounding like a mad man, what god had created such a masterpiece in size and design?

    "Kneel!" Nuis demanded as he kicked at the rear of Gnarls right leg.

    Gnarl bowed ever so slightly bearing a hint of sarcasm as he did, no matter who he was before him, he would only kneel before a true god. The man sat aloft the platform looked amused as his intrigued eyes peered down into Gnarl's, the consideration to who he could be, was lacking.

    "I would normally punish greatly a man who would bow so sarcastically before me..." He deep bellowing voice echoed over the great hall as Nius gestured towards the guards to strike Gnarl down.

    "Do not!" The man shouted to their approach. "Time for punishment has long since passed for this man. I am looking more to the future than the present, and I do not require such measures to be enforced at this current moment in time."

    The long baggy robe that covered almost his entire self momentarily slipped off his leg as he adjusted his sitting position, while the hood covered not just his head, but shadowed his face entirely as if he had none at all. Just a black abyss that shrouded his appearance from those that would present themselves before him.

    "You are Gnarlnoc are you not?" He questioned.

    "Indeed I do go by that name of birth. Given by my mother."

    "Your sentence here...for Murder of an official to the one true king, in fact one of his appointed Earls, was forever imprisonment, to spend out your days in a walled prison that would send you insane and to self murder. Yet here you stand, and I say with much surprise, before me.

    The King has announced some changes to your sentence. One would question why...but for the fact that the King always has a plan beyond that of any normal mans understanding."

    "Why?"

    The hooded man's head tilted, and his fist clenched over the knob of the thrones arm. "Your humour is not well placed vagabond, and you would be wise to heed silence before I pick your destiny for you."

    Gnarl smirked before a forceful boot walloped into his thigh and he finally kneeled before the hooded lord. His hand pressed against the cold marble floor to avoid head butting it as he tumbled forward, its blur of mixed colours, almost pretty, left him staring into its blissful pattern. Once again felt the weakness of his underused muscles as he steadied himself, now his thigh really hurt.

    "I give you three choices vagabond, and I will not give you a second chance to choose. In fact, for your insolence, I now offer you no explanation for your selection, I merely offer you one of three scrolls. You may understand your fate by reading it upon your choice...You can read can you not?"

    "Yes...I can read..." Gnarl muttered under his breath."

    The condescending voice frustrated him, what he would give to have taken one of those halberds and then stab it into that man's hidden face. What reason would such a man need to hide his appearance so? Or worse, did he even have a face of which to make bleed? Gnarl stood back up slowly, his legs feeling more weary than they had before, while the robed lord above him now revealed three scrolls, each neatly wrapped up and sealed with wax.

    "Time is ticking away vagabond, which scroll do you desire the most? Scroll one? Scroll two? Or scroll three?"

    Gnarl thought for a moment, the anger pulsating inside, held back only by the knowledge that he really could do nothing about this man, he was trapped here until he made a choice. He had to stop delaying the inevitable, he had to just go along with what he was given, because the truth was as a prisoner this was the only choice he was ever going to be given. It was time for Root to finally prove his friendship and trust.

    "Option three...I pick the third scroll!"
    The Destroyer of Worlds

    Part 1: The Gnarled Roots of Osiris
    - Philomel ~ "One of the best "opening" threads by any character I have ever read."
    Part 2: The Truth we Left Behind
    -Currently writing-

  7. #7
    Master of Puppets
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
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    The central council building was quite unlike anything Atlas had ever seen before, even in a city like Garah.

    At first he was struck by the imposing columns all around the rectangular receiving room, a place where diplomats and commanders were awaiting an audience with the Telgradian Council. Each column was linked to the next by a perfect archway and the curved ceiling was inlaid with gold trim. In the middle was a grand fountain in the shape of an angel, exquisitely carved from ivory tinted Frach, from which water that was as blue as glacier run-off cascaded from. Even the water foamed beautifully as it hit the marble base below.

    The stone was cold beneath his feet and he shivered a little, but at least he wasn’t going to have to wait too long. It was nearly ten o’clock. Everyone in the room was restless.

    “The briefing will start in just a few minutes, ladies and gentlemen.” Bellowed a voice from behind one of the pillars. The voice echoed around the room and down the hallway behind Atlas.

    As he turned to meet the voice, still aching from his session in the woods yesterday morning, he saw Keats across the room who had already begun to stride towards him. He was looking a lot more formal today, wearing the gleaming white jacket and pipe-clay cross-belt of the Royal Guard uniform over the traditional black undershirt, accentuated with polished gold buttons.

    He shook hands with Atlas, smiling and peering over his gold rimmed spectacles.

    “Good to see you well, Revaan, after our intensive training. Not that I’m surprised you are well, of course. You healed a treat.”

    Atlas frowned. It was hard to hide his feelings on this.

    “Funny that you say that, Keats. A Dakuatsu number forty with full incantation, and you’re not surprised I’m alive. I think it’s safe to say most people would be stunned that I even managed to pick myself up from the dirt after an attack of that level, and yet it doesn’t even make you flinch.”

    Revaan was looking for some sort of reaction, but Keats remained calm, and answered with a cavalier wave of the hand and a smile.

    “What exactly is it you are trying to insinuate? I’m just pleased you are well, surely that’s what you’d expect from a comrade, especially towards a former hero of Telgradia?”

    “Former?”

    “A figure of speech. No one knows you are back, save for the army and the council.”

    Atlas paused. He looked around a little and realised that there were others around him whose ears might have pricked up. He needed this talk, now, before the briefing, but not with others in earshot.

    “Can I have a word, privately?”

    Keats nodded, and gestured to the side of the room, underneath an archway that wasn’t occupied. Atlas followed, and when they both stopped, he leaned in close, jabbing a finger into Keats’s chest.

    “I think you know more about me than you’re letting on. I’ve also been thinking about things since I woke up in Kokushi, and I’m starting to wonder if the Telgradian Council know more than they are letting on, too.”

    Keats looked a little shocked for the first time since they met, but composed himself quickly. Atlas continued, retracting the finger.

    “When I saw Flexton he told me that I was General Atlas Revaan, the hero who went to fight the Telgradian separatists and ended up getting beaten within an inch of his life when he stumbled into something he shouldn’t have.”

    Keats shrugged.

    “Yeah, that’s right. Where are you going with this?”

    Atlas pointed a finger back at himself, tapping the tip against his chest.

    “I was brought back from battle by Dxun, Flexton’s son, who was my lieutenant. When I woke up, he didn’t seem friendly, or happy to see me. He was supposed to be a time served sub-ordinate of mine and yet it was as if I were a mild inconvenience to him.”

    Keats scoffed, a dismissive expression etched onto his face.

    “To be fair, Atlas, you had only just woken up from a three year healing process. Could be that you were just disorientated? It’s hard to read a man when your own judgement is distorted.”

    Atlas frowned again. He paced away slightly from Keats, bowing his head, his hands clasped behind his back.

    “I suppose I can’t rule that out…but I have other concerns. I’ve been kept away from people unconnected with the council or the Telgradian Army. Flexton told me that the common folk knowing who I was would possibly endanger the mission to Althanas. Fine, I can live with that. But I talked to my attendant the other day, a pretty little lady who was maybe a little on the naïve side, and she told me something, Keats.”

    Atlas turned, staring him dead in the eye. His golden eyes narrowed, intensifying the gaze.

    “Kokushi is a prison, not a healing chamber. Not only is it a prison, it’s one of the most secure prisons in Telgradia.”

    Suddenly, Keats’s demeanour changed. It was as if he were waiting for this realisation, and for a brief moment Atlas noticed a glint in his eye. He folded his arms, and bowed his head.

    “Go on…”

    Atlas continued, his tone deep, his mouth dry.

    “Now, perhaps it’s true that Kokushi has a first class healing chamber that was really needed to save my life. Maybe I’m just being paranoid. But something about the whole thing doesn’t add up. Why hide the fact that Kokushi was a prison to me? You see, it’s all these little things that don’t add up.”

    There was a moment of silence. Keats stood still with a stony faced expression, arms folded. His body language screamed defensive. Yet, underneath this mask, it was almost as if he were grinning wryly, like he was proud that Atlas was being so inquisitive.

    Suddenly, a voice called out from the chamber doorway, and the atmosphere between them dissipated.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, please make your way into the council chamber for the briefing.”

    Keats sighed, adjusting his glasses by the rim.

    “It looks like your search for answers will have to wait for now. The Council are about to start..”

    With that, the big man turned and walked with the crowds of men and women towards the council chamber, leaving Atlas trailing behind on his coat-tails.

    I'll get my answers, Keats. Don't you worry about that.
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 09-18-15 at 05:44 PM.

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    "Yes Baldrick, but you never said 'wibble'."


  8. #8
    Reaching beyond the stars
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    Gnarl & Root's Avatar

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    Gnarl
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    The robed lord did not chuckle nor did he sigh as he placed the two disused scrolls by his sandaled feet before knocking them slightly with his heal to guide them underneath his throne like chair. Sitting back up he then carelessly chucked the third scroll down to Nius, who caught and immediately began to unravel the scroll before Gnarl.

    “You are here by ordered…” Nius paused for a moment as he cleared his throat. “…To travel by portal to land far from here, a land known as Althanas. You will accompany and protect the people on route to find and retrieve the Pillar of Osiris.

    Your life as of the moment you undertake this order, is forfeit to their lives. You must protect them at all costs. Failure to do so will mean your immediate death, but success in this mission will mean you’re…Freedom.”

    Nius looked sceptically to his superior, the mere fact that freedom could be offered for such a task seemed to violate exactly what they were trying to achieve here. Yet he did not dare speak out as he looked back at Gnarl before grunting with displeasure at the order.

    Gnarl’s heart raced nervously; did he truly mean freedom from this place? Had Root pulled some strings to get him released? How fortunate that such an offer would come his way on such a day. Something was not right, but the man sat before him bore no face of which he could try to understand. There was nothing but an emotionless booming voice that remained as monotone as when it had first started.

    Gripping his arms and dipping his head Gnarl was forced down, the surrounding guards to powerful to resist. Gnarl glared around, and yet could only stare at the feet of the men holding him down on his knees. Then, falling into eyesight a small metallic necklace with a green stone encased within it, the cleanest looking stone he had ever witnessed with an unblemished metal lace that linked it all together. Slowly it swayed down before his eyes as it floated past his face before being fastened around his neck.

    Gnarl listened to the clink as the lock clicked together. “What is dis? He asked as they let him go and stepped back again.

    “This is your ball and chain, it allows me to ensure I always know where you are, and should you attempt to remove it…There are consequences…Vagabond.”

    Gnarl lifted it lightly, inspecting its surface as he rubbed his thumb over its smooth surface, yet nothing but a slight reflection of the sun light glinted off it.

    “What is the Pillar of Osisisisisris. “He blurted out as he sniffed the bland stone.

    “Up!” Nius ordered, as Gnarl slowly returned to his feet, his curious eyes still shifting from Nius to the hooded man and then to random locations around the room.

    “What the Pillar is and what it is for is none of your concern. Follow your orders, complete your task, and you will no longer dwell in our lonely prison. Now leave, my guards will escort you to your destination. Further orders will be given to you by the appropriate superior.”

    Gnarl neither snarled nor smiled an almost emotionless response and yet he did feel confused, unsure of how he should really be acting when placed in such a position. Quickly he was shifted towards another door on the opposite side of the room, the two guards who had forced the necklace on him following closely as they ushered him towards the door. A few more disapproving looks came his way, and the sharp blades of the halberds were not far behind.

    Was it such a displeasing choice? Even if it was the robed man had made the wrong decision no one would question it verbally, not without consequences. Gnarl continued to stare down at the stone, its green hue almost glowing as it hung from his neck. He pondered to what powers it really had and what could happen should he remove it; a flurry of fearsome thoughts rushed through his mind and his posture tensed. It was only then he realised, since the offer of freedom became available to him, he had been too excited to stop and understand exactly what it meant to be free.

    He would be free from the chains: free from the same four walls and free from his isolation, but he wouldn't really be free, he could never be free from his past. The memories of what he had lost to be where he was today. He had no family to return to, no wife or children, no friends and colleagues waiting to greet him, he would have to face the realisation that he was just as alone outside of the prison as he was within it.

    "Gnarl...Sweety!" Her soft voice called out.

    "I am not sweet, I am ferocious warrior." Gnarl replied pushing out his chest as he stood tall.

    "You do not need to be all man to me...I love your sweet side. Strong when you need to be, soft when you can be." She smiled with the beautiful pink lips he remembered, then looked up to meet his gaze with the beautiful brown eyes he fell in love with.

    Brushing away her hair to reveal her face she stood up to meet him face to face, and Gnarl smiled with appreciation. "Melhila, I miss you..."

    He reached out to touch her soft skin, he had missed it for so long, and he needed to feel her touch once again.

    "What the fuck are you doing?!" The rough looking man bellowed out angrily. "If he touches me I'm gonna kill him!"

    Gnarl froze, his gaze confused and surprised, had he dozed off? Was it a memory or a wishful dream? He leaned back away from him, before stepping to one side to get some distance between the two. It was only then he looked around at where he was, a new place, a large room, but how far had he walked? Sometimes he scared himself, how long had his mind wandered for him to walk into this room?

    The room, rather busy was another marble constructed room, large pillars that stretched high above, similar in fashion but not on the same scale of where he had just been. The most prominent feature of the room was a grand fountain that sat beautifully in the center; the lavish style and expensive materials used to make it nothing short of the best. Yet little focus lay on the room’s decoration as the room bustled with chatter and discussion of future outings and plans for an adventure. Which one would be option three as he knew it? So many questions, so little time to find answers.

    "The briefing will start in a few minutes, ladies and gentlemen." A somewhat posh voice called out.

    Gnarl rather skittish as he returned to the reality around him, began touching the pillar nearest to him, his dry hands enjoying the cool temperature of the marble stone.

    "This guy’s fucking nuts, why is he stroking the pillar?" The angry man questioned to the guards.

    Yet he was only met by a strong and forceful strike to his back and a displeased glare; the guard's quiet demand enough to silence him from anymore comments. It quickly became clear that they were the only ones surrounded by guards, the rest of the room, somewhat better dressed and more relaxed as they prepared for the final call.

    Gnarl couldn't shake the continuous frown the man he almost touched gave him, locking onto him as he stepped left or right, the unforgiving male was not going to forget their encounter any time soon. Scruffy looking, he was visibly the worse dressed man in the room, his greasy long black hair and rough beard only made him more intimidating, but unarmed and under guard with Gnarl and a strangely silent woman he couldn't do anything.

    Wearing old bulky clothes with worn boots, he made Gnarl look well dressed, and the woman who leaned quietly against a Pillar fiddled with her long blonde hair. She confidently smiled as they made eye contact but rather arrogantly looked away and into the crowd of people. They all needed a wash, but at least Gnarl and the woman looked presentable amongst the room.

    Gnarl peered over to the fountain, the fresh water more appealing as he felt dirty, but now was not the time, and even more so as the same voice that called out earlier made itself clear once more.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, please make your way into the council chamber for the briefing."

    Nius had remained back within his lord’s hallway; his displeasure had been noted from his earlier reaction to the scrolls orders. He hobbled slowly back to the base of the stairs, and then kneeled before the robed man.

    "Do you question the lord’s word and law?"

    "No sire." Nius answered nervously.

    "I would hope not Nius, as I took note of you scepticism earlier. Should I take that as a distrust in the lord’s word, I would punish you."

    "I will not doubt in your or our lords word sire, but I only voice my concern at the faith and good grace at which they are given their freedom. All three of them deserve to die by our laws, instead they have been sent through the portal to their release."

    "Then let me assure you of your concerns...The only freedom for them at the end of their journey is death. Our lord would never actually let them free, the Pillar of Osiris is the only goal our lord holds an interest in. The rest are merely there to save us from wasting people of actual importance, use the waste to save on expense. I like to call it using all of your assets."

    Nius stood up impressed with the foresight of the lord; he should never have doubted him, not even for a second.
    Last edited by Gnarl & Root; 06-25-15 at 08:03 AM.
    The Destroyer of Worlds

    Part 1: The Gnarled Roots of Osiris
    - Philomel ~ "One of the best "opening" threads by any character I have ever read."
    Part 2: The Truth we Left Behind
    -Currently writing-

  9. #9
    Master of Puppets
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
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    The crescent shaped auditorium was as beautiful as the adjoining waiting chamber which Revaan had just left, and he found himself once again admiring the work of the vast swathes of Telgradian architects that had poured quite admirable, and equal, amounts of complexity and luxury into the design of this building.

    From the back of the queue, just having stepped through the doorway, Atlas was able to peer down into the vast chamber and survey it all. Gleaming white marble steps, polished to a dazzle, fanned out from an oval shaped marble well in the centre where the Telgradian Council’s deliberators sat, rising up into three separate tiers of ten rows until they reached the lip of a gold-trimmed gantry. Large, imposing pillars chiselled from glimmering Frach rose from floor to roof at regular intervals, each one sporting a unique carving of a Telgradian beast or warrior at their summit. The ceiling of the auditorium consisted of majestic mosaics of assorted deities, lavish in colour and oozing exuberance, staples of a proud culture.

    Atlas and Keats formed part of the steady stream of dignitaries that poured into the chamber, and soon there was a river of colour flowing over the steps. A lot of the people attending, as expected, were wearing various versions of ceremonial dress reserved for high ranking officers and figureheads. There was a small section though, of about thirty to forty men strong, already seated at the front of the room on the first tier under what looked to be armed guard. Their clothes were very basic, not exactly the sort usually seen at a Council briefing, and a lot of the men had postures that looked extremely out of the ordinary for diplomats or officers

    Revaan cast an eye over the small section and tapped Keats on the shoulder, gesturing a thumb to the ragtag gathering in the corner.

    “Who are they? They look like prisoners.”

    Keats nodded. “From Kokushi, albeit a different section to the one you were in. I would guess third or fourth level.”

    Atlas looked puzzled. “How can you tell that from here?”

    Keats smiled. “Simple. Look at their bodies: most of them look of fine frame. That means they are being allowed exercise, and in prison that’s all you really do. Their crimes have confined them to a private wing, as they are considered too dangerous to mix with the normal inmate populace, but they still have their routines. Past the fifth tier, no-one goes outside of their cell.”

    Atlas looked down as he began his descent down the stairwell to his assigned tier, being careful not to stumble in the crowd.

    “What level was I on?”

    “Seven.” Keats responded bluntly. “The lowest. If you hadn’t of been in a coma we wouldn’t of been able to heal you. The seventh level is designed to damage any living thing to within an inch of it’s life, and then heal it again so that the process can repeat. The ultimate punishment, really. The healing properties there have to be powerful to return the prisoner to a healthy state, which is why they sent you there. ”

    Atlas and Keats veered left out of the crowd and filtered down their assigned aisle. As they did, a heavy set man stepped from the crowd, and approached Keats, shaking his hand. His kind, weary eyes and balding appearance, along with a spanking Telgradian command uniform, told Atlas this was no ordinary dignitary.

    “General Jolee, good to see you.” Keats smiled and firmly reciprocated the handshake.

    “You too, Jaeger. Can I have a word in private?”

    “Of course sir.”

    Atlas stepped away from the two and took his seat. Meanwhile, Jolee and Keats merged with the crowd and then split off into a covered section of the chamber, a passageway leading to the Council chambers. They stopped as soon as they reached the mouth of the passageway. Jolee turned to face Keats, his brow furrowing slightly. His pleasant and outgoing demeanour had changed rather abruptly.

    “I’ve been told you volunteered for this mission, correct?”

    “Sir, on Councillor Ra's recommendation, sir.”

    “May I ask your reasons? It is highly unusual and, if I may say, slightly out of character for a member of the Royal Guard to take such a heavy interest in Council affairs, even with a recommendation from a Councilor. Although, a recommendation from Ra doesn't equate to much standing at all, given that we are the high council.”

    Keats looked quite taken aback. He stood slightly to attention, fixing his gaze ahead.

    “Sir. I and Flex- Councillor Ra - feel that the nature of the mission requires a more, shall we say… experienced hand… to deal with all the sensitivities of our venture. For one, we have a dangerous convict guard to escort. Secondly, the Pillar of Osiris is a dangerous item indeed. Should the Pillar overwhelm Atlas, I…”

    Jolee raised a hand obstructively. “…that won’t be necessary. We have a number of good officers who can handle this excursion and it is outside of Royal Guard jurisdiction, even if you are a volunteer. We need you at your post, Keats. One thing though; it surprises me that you knew a convict guard would be escorting the main party, as these details were not supposed to be supplied to anybody until the briefing. How did you come about this information, exactly?”

    Keats looked bemused for a moment, and then hid it.

    “With respect, sir, I have eyes. The waiting chamber was full of diplomats and officers. The small merry band of convicts you freed from Kokushi stood out a bit from the aristocracy. I think the appropriate phrase is: you can’t polish a turd.”

    Jolee sighed and nodded.

    “Yes, well…they are expendable, and they will be fighting for their freedom. His Majesty knows that a desperate man fighting for his freedom is far more formidable than a comfortable man fighting for his pay.”

    Keats nodded slowly in agreement, although there was a slight agitation about it.

    “Anyway, back to my original point. Keats” Jolee continued. “I can’t let you go on this mission. I have too many officers idle and we can’t afford for His Majesty to be without one of his top officers for any length of time.”

    Keats clenched his fists behind his back, grinding his teeth slightly. He peered over his gold rims, a fierce look etched onto his face. Then, as quick as lightning, he stood to attention, clipping his heels together in the customary manner, and the anger was hidden again.

    “Yes sir. I shall return to my assigned post. One thing though, sir, if I may. Can I at least escort Revaan as far as the portal when the time comes? I am his assigned bodyguard, after all, and even though it's mostly ceremonial, I wish to see my task out."

    "Permission granted, Keats." Jolee saluted back. "But then you return, understood?"

    "Yes, sir."


    Telgradian barracks, 02:00hrs


    “They’ve booted me off the mission. Outside of my jurisdiction! Cheeky bastard. I was recommended by a Councillor!”

    For some reason, Atlas felt a wave of relief sweep over him on hearing the words. He had been suspicious of Keats since they met. His behaviour and mannerisms were odd, and it set his teeth on edge almost every time they talked. He would just be grateful for a normal officer, with no agenda, and a hurdle-free mission. Maybe then, when he got back, he could return to rebuilding his life.

    My life…What life?

    That was a subject to which he had paid very little attention at all since his release from Kokushi. Before all of this, Atlas had a life. There were probably people he cared about, people who cared about him. Maybe he had a wife, or a child? Friends? No-one from either the council or the army had bothered to fill him in on anything. Perhaps he was making too much of it, and for now everyone wanted to keep him focused on one thing so he could be eased back into society when the task was complete? Or perhaps there was something more sinister behind it. After all, it was very odd that a man with no memory was being relied on to undertake such an important mission.

    Then again, Councillor Flexton did explain that I was once a revered General. Having a fresh body may help against the corrupting effects of the Pillar. That makes sense...

    Atlas figured there probably wasn’t a lot of point mulling everything over and over again, for fear of losing his sanity. All that mattered was that Keats, one of his bigger doubts, was off the mission. He didn’t understand the connection Keats was trying to make with him in their first encounter. He didn’t get a lot about the man at all, in fact. The only thing that mattered is that he was no longer there to bother him, which meant he could get this mission completed with minimal fuss.

    In his assigned bunk at last, free from the noise of the auditorium, he was able to think more clearly upon the details of his mission to Althanas.

    “A party lead by Atlas Revaan will use a portal to infiltrate Althanas. There, they will seek clues as to the whereabouts of the Pillar of Osiris. The party will consist of Atlas Revaan, Captain Iziz of the 1st division, Captain Mott of the 13th division, and an assigned convict guard from Kokushi that will be used to protect our forces. The Pillar of Osiris must be obtained and returned to Telgradia at any cost.”

    As the last flickers of a dying flame lit the cold, barely furnished room, Atlas rolled over on his bed and looked through an open window at the glowing white crescent of the moon. The next time daylight struck, after all of his preparation, he would finally be ready to journey to Althanas.
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 06-25-15 at 04:41 AM.

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    "Yes Baldrick, but you never said 'wibble'."


  10. #10
    Reaching beyond the stars
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    Gnarl & Root's Avatar

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    The loud clink of the locking shackles was depressing, after finally walking free from his cell, he was already cuffed and forced to sit in a chair with a line of corresponding prisoners. Gnarl sighed as he slumped in his chair, the hard wood as uncomfortable as the stone floor in his cell. He sat in line; squeezed into a row of inmates that sat shoulder to shoulder as they all watched the same boring mission objective speech.

    Not one of them cared, nor fully understood why they of all people had to be in there in the first place. Surely their masters would update them on what they needed to know, instead of being forced to endure this. It felt like punishment, especially as the monotone noble spoke with little to no charisma in his wording. He just stood there, still as rock, but dressed in an upmarket plumb little outfit, stripy and cleaner than a blade just forged from the smoulder.

    “…This is where we expect our treasure to be…” He continued.

    “Urgh…” Gnarl slumped even further till the pull on his cufflinks tightened to the tug of his seating partner. The same silent woman was yet to speak in his presence, and still she needn’t as she tugged the chain to urge him back up his chair. The man sat on his opposite side slumped almost as much as he did, but his were eyes firmly closed with his nose twitching as if about to snore.

    “…to be dropped right here, which on reflection should….”

    Sleeping seemed like the right idea, as only a few of them; including the silent female continued to pay attention. Gnarl closed his eyes, the mumbling of the narrator the only thing stopping him from actually falling asleep. What a slow perpetual punishment this was, where was the end?

    Then, another big tug shook down the chain and Gnarl sat forward with haste. Was he slumping again? The angry preying eyes of the blonde woman stared down at him from her standing position, and Gnarl quickly returning to his feet realised that the meeting had ended, for them at least. The couple of rows before him had already emptied and now his row was lining up to leave. Evidently, he has nodded off but for how long would remain a mystery to him and his sleeping compatriot who needed another big tug to disturb, yet he barely moved as he let out a loud snore.

    Gnarl looked across at the next man who looked back bemused. “Get up you fat sac of crap…” He almost shouted it as he gave a swift boot to the dozing man’s leg. He stirred as his awakening eyes looked to his aggressor, his frown masked by tiredness slowly seeped through to a tense infuriated stare. Standing upright, he towered over the other man, a bulking mass of muscles and meat. Gnarl swiftly turned away to face the front, while the now startled man fell silent as a metaphorical droplet of sweat ran down his forehead as he regretted kicking the beast of a man.

    “Get moving!” An impatient guard shouted to them. The group began to move, the smaller man feeling fortunate as the bull before him flexed his cheeks at him in a strange display of anger before turning and moving on as instructed.

    Once moving they were led out of the room rather quickly, heading back out another door from the lobby, and then down a new corridor that neither Gnarl of the others had seen before. The same marble flooring and tall white painted wall’s that looked as if a fly daren’t go near them; pure perfection. It wasn’t too long a journey and before they knew it they were led into a large quarter, lines of beds made with decent quality wood and mattresses, and a beautiful bright bathroom in the corner of the room. This was a treat, the best treat before their journey; like a final request before an execution.

    Most charged into the room as the guard by the door released them from their locks, but Gnarl upon his release took it slow, his larger prison partner soon shoulder barging past him to a bed. It had been so long since he had lay upon an actual mattress, he stopped by the bedside to admire it, slowly pressing down on its soft springy exterior as if to savour the moment. It was the softest thing he had touched since his arrival here; oh how he missed such a simple but satisfying experience.

    Finally wasting no more time he jumped onto the bed, laying down to allow the quilt to caress his back, the pillow to massage her head and neck, and the mattress to shape to his weight. He didn't need anything else, not while he had this, at least for a moment he felt like royalty.

    After the initial excitement from the prisoners, it soon fell silent the peaceful nature for the first time not forced upon them by the guards. He glanced around the room; it felt too good to be true, not a whimper, not a complaint, was this really their final meal before they all died?

    The peace lasted for some time and the sky dimmed as it darkened to night, the guard patrols fell lax outside the door, now only passing by on occasion, but the truth was, regardless of how pretty the room looked, or how comfortable the bed was, the door was still iron barred and sealed shut with a heavy bolt lock. It was no surprise no one checked in on them, they didn’t care if they killed each other or tried to escape, this was nothing more than a pretty looking prison before they were sent to their deaths.

    "You...Crazy guy..." She finally spoke through her dry lips, a little rough, slightly deep, but a sort of sexy tone that couldn't help but catch Gnarl's attention. "I hope you're gonna join in?"

    The same first prisoner he had almost stroked before the briefing confronted him, his back towards the door, and his voice almost at a whisper. "There's no chance were coming back after this. Once were clear of this castle, when were no longer under siege here, when those guards are weak and low in number..." He peered back over his shoulder in a cautious manner before looking back to Gnarl. "Were gonna kill them all...So don't fucking stroke them, and you might just survive."

    Casually he moved on to another to spread the word. Gnarl sat up as he walked away, the man still sneering slightly as he resented their earlier contact.

    “What’s your name?” She asked with a curiously raised eyebrow. “You’re in right?”

    Gnarl smiled as he looked back at her. “Of course I’m in.” He replied nonchalantly, even though he knew there was no other answer to give. He had no intention of being their enemy too.

    “Look…” She wandered over and knelt by his bed. “Not everyone in here is smart enough to escape alive. Let’s be honest, most are either too stupid, or are no good with a sword in battle. It will take a bit of both, and I’ll need your help to get out of here.”

    Gnarl immediately felt suspicious, the room now full of whispers as they formed their little groups, looking for the strongest to help them, or simply an ally to help them survive.

    “Why do you ask me?” He questioned, curious to her motive’s and why she would approach him over anyone else.

    “Well…” She leant in to his ear. “This act of yours, this craziness, I find it amusing. More importantly, I think it’s clever, and these guys, big and full of balls, but no brains. Those of us smart enough, we do go a little crazy within these walls. Maybe we have more in common than you think.”

    “I see, and what do you know that they don’t?”

    “These necklaces…” She held up an identical green hued gem from her bust. “We find out which guard is carrying the switch. The one that we are all linked to, the switch that he flicks to kill us all, it needs to be stopped. We find him, we kill him, and we get free. I know who has the switch...”
    Last edited by Gnarl & Root; 06-25-15 at 09:01 AM.
    The Destroyer of Worlds

    Part 1: The Gnarled Roots of Osiris
    - Philomel ~ "One of the best "opening" threads by any character I have ever read."
    Part 2: The Truth we Left Behind
    -Currently writing-

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