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Thread: Control (closed to Shinsou)

  1. #1
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 171,784, Level: 18
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    Level completed: 10%,
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    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

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    Control (closed to Shinsou)

    A dark solemn sky frowned over Terrinore Isle. Rain fell in thick, gusting sheets upon the volcanic prison island. It splattered atop the massive stone tower-building and ran in rivers down carved troughs, overflowing wherever sharp angles occurred. It lashed walls thick enough to withstand canon fire and pooled around the prison's perimeter where the ground formed shallow ditches. It threatened to flood the basements where off-duty guards played at cards and dice, hunched around pot-bellied iron stoves and wrapped in old woolen cloaks to combat the chill.

    Terrinore Isle; where criminals went when they needed to disappear forever.

    Near the top of the tower, more than one thousand feet above the gnashing sea, Roderick Rok sat in his cell. Two years had passed since the Baron whose life Roderick nearly stole had him sent to the Lornian prison, two long harrowing years of abuse and deprivation, existing in a cell that smelled of shit and stale sweat. Roderick could scarcely remember the feeling of the sun on his face, or the temptation of a good woman, or the taste of a proper hot meal. And yet as he listened to the stoic silence of the thick-walled stone building, he found occasion to smile. His lips split and yellowed teeth displayed in the dingy darkness. The voice inside his head had spoken.

    The guard arrives shortly.

    Most men would have thought themselves mad, hearing a voice with their mind instead of their ears while locked behind dehlar crossbars. Most men were not powerful telepaths like Roderick Rok. He had been the voice inside many a false madman's mind, had planted memories and opinions inside the heads of the rich and wealthy, had carried on entire conversations without moving his tongue. He knew the difference between a mental message and the onset of madness. At least, he hoped he did.

    Be ready. The deep, booming voice said.

    A door at the end of the corridor creaked open and then closed. Keys jangled in the lock and the guard's footsteps echoed down the hall.

    Roderick prepared a single, potent thought as he leaned on the crossbars of his cell, arms hanging loosely through the grate. When he'd first arrived in the cell his arms had been too thickly muscled to fit through the spaces between the bars. Two years of near-starvation had left him a sickly shadow of his former self. But he would have his freedom. The guard came into sight, eyeing Roderick as he did each prisoner along the line, checking for signs of escape. Roderick closed his eyes and concentrated and pushed the thought he had prepared into the guard's mind.

    Come here, he commanded. The prison had wards in place to prevent prisoners using such magic, but two years was a long enough time to find a sliver of weakness in any shield. Roderick could feel the wards dragging at his ability but he powered onward.

    The guard hesitated, but his hesitation made room in his mind for more thoughts to push in.

    Unlock this cell, Roderick commanded, quickly, before it is too late! Unlock this cell and stand at attention. With a distant look of worry in his eyes, the guard complied.

    Unlacing his arms from the crossbars, Roderick stepped out into the hall. He took the keys from the guard's hand, and the knife from his broad belt, and cut the man's throat in cold blood. While the guard wheezed on the floor in a growing pool of blood the other prisoners in cells along the corridor roared for freedom. Roderick ignored them all, hurrying to the thick dehlar-bound door the guard had entered through and sorting through the heavy ring until he found the key that fit the lock.

    He swept down a torch lit spiraling staircase, his bare feet slapping on each cold granite step, his coarse linen clothing whispering with each movement. His men would be at a lower level than him, but which level, and which corridor on which level, was a mystery. Adrenaline lent wings to his feet and he flew down hallway after hallway, pausing only to peer into the deep shadows of certain cells and when he needed to find a key. Some prisoners wailed at him to let them go, while others - those who were truly broken - screamed for the guards. None would hear them; the next patrol was not due for nearly an hour.

    Eventually Roderick found them all. Greyson Fawcett, the boy-faced murderer who had learned the art of telepathy from Rok himself. Winchell Hackney, the grizzled puppetmaster who could step inside a mark's body and take control of their every movement. Smarteye Sam, a former thief who knew more of precious gems than any jeweler in Corone. Darrin Hornsby, the scarred enforcer who could strike fear in the hearts of veteran soldiers as if they were children. And lastly, found laughing in his cell as if he'd anticipated the rescue, the Lunatic of Serenti, Olin Rutland.

    Find an external wall, boomed the voice in Roderick's head. He spoke a few words and his men fell into step behind him. Like a centipede in six parts they trotted through the halls of Terrinore Isle. The difficult part had arrived, the part Roderick could not figure out. None of the keys he had taken from the guard would allow him to exit the prison, or even come close to it. How would getting to an external wall help them? Even with tools - of which they had none - it would take months if not years to burrow through the thick stone, and they had little more than fifteen minutes remaining before the next patrol would find them. And yet, he had trusted the voice thus far, and thus far it had not led him astray. Roderick and his men wound through the prison, keeping as straight a line as the criss-crossing corridors allowed, until at last he heard the rain.

    It was only a faint fluttering, but through the thick external walls he could make out the sound of water lashing the building's side, like a warden with a whip laying into a prisoner.

    Stand back! The voice roared.

    "Back!" Roderick ordered, flattening himself against the interior wall of the hallway, "brace yourselves here." His men obeyed without question.

    Although the storm raged fiercely, with strident winds lashing the rain about, there had been no thunder and no lightning. Suddenly a cloud swelled and a single thick, forked bolt plummeted from the heavens. It lanced downward, golden electric, and struck the prison's wall with the accuracy of an arrow launched from a Ranger's bow. Thunder rolled in response to the lightning, but it could not match the riotous sound of rending stone.

    Roderick covered his ears and closed his eyes, barely daring to believe what he had just seen. A wall that could withstand cannon fire, laid to waste like a layer of dry kindling. Slowly Roderick opened his eyes and approached the breach. It was taller than a man and twice as wide, large enough for his men to pass through one at a time. Was there a portal waiting for them outside, he wondered, or one of those Alerian airships? Surely the winds would not allow it to hover so close...

    Rain buffeted Roderick's face as he looked out and down through the hole. The sight made him dizzy and sick all at once. There was no portal shimmering in the air, nor any manner of zeppelin waiting to whisk them away. There was nothing but a terrifying drop, more than a thousand feet straight down to the frothy, rock-studded salt water below.

    Jump. The voice said.

    "Are you mad?" Roderick roared into the storm. His men exchanged uneasy glances. They could not hear the voice; they knew not whom he was speaking to, nor what he planned to do.

    You must all jump. The next guard approaches. The voice thundered.

    Roderick grimaced and braced his arms on the rough stonework either side of the breach. He looked back at his men. Before today, he would have sworn they trusted him with their lives. But did they truly? Unless the voice could pluck him out of the air, he would not live long enough to tell.

    The door at the end of the hall opened, and a guard carrying a lantern stepped halfway through before noticing the six prisoners and the gaping hole in the wall. The lantern hit the stone floor as the guard turned and fled to raise the alarm. Olin cackled and made as if to give chase, but Hackney's firm hand on his shoulder stayed the Lunatic.

    To Haide with all of this, and with me as well! Roderick thought. For once, he had to give up control.

    "Follow me to freedom!" He shouted with a confidence he did not feel. And then he tucked his elbows and leaped into the storm.

    Olin followed first with the fearlessness of insanity. Sam went next, his round face contorted in terror. Hackney and Hornsby nearly got stuck in the opening trying to jump third. Fawcett brought up the rear, always the most prudent of the group.

    Far below rain churned the surface of the sea, but no bodies struck the water nor the rocks protruding like teeth. The ocean would go hungry that day; the six criminals had vanished as soon as they cleared the walls of Terrinore Isle.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  2. #2
    Der Geächteter zerrissen
    EXP: 57,454, Level: 10
    Level completed: 32%, EXP required for next level: 7,546
    Level completed: 32%,
    EXP required for next level: 7,546

    AP
    0
    GP
    6,150
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
    Age
    31
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Brown
    Eye Color
    Gold
    Build
    6'0", 155lbs
    Job
    "Executor" (Leader) of the Brotherhood

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    It was another blustery, dull day on Lornius, the type that seemed to epitomise to Shinsou the general atmosphere of the almost derelict island nation. A day prior he had left behind a beautiful Raiaeran morning - a cloudless blue sky, the warmth of dawn beating down on his face and the sight of the early morning sun splintering through the trees, making it look as if a thousand silver fireflies were swarming all at once. It was a good memory for the hard journey to come, an image the Telgradian would gladly hold on to tight enough to last him at least a couple of hours.

    When he arrived at the port underneath the Floating City all of those images of serenity went to the wall. The warmth of the people he felt in Raiaera was quickly replaced by the icy, distrusting looks by Lornius’s denizens. The feeling of isolation lingered on as the Telgradian made his way through the dirty, polluted streets, meandering through crowds of miserable faces who lived in the shadow of the dwarven technology above. People here were nervous of new people who were clean and well presented, largely because the general feeling was that anyone with any money was a criminal in one form or another or abusing their privilege. To the people, all these were sufficient reasons for an unfamiliar face to earn a black mark from anyone too close.

    This place might be getting bumped off the Osiris World Tour itinerary, Shinsou mused to himself as he made his way through the labyrinthine slums towards the designated rendezvous; The Crow and Cockerel, It’s not hard to see why people would go missing here. One wrong look towards one of these miserable bastards and it’s a knife in the back…still, doesn’t explain why three of my best guys would just vaporise into thin air. I’m not buying that this is down to desertion. These men can handle themselves…so why? And then there was that letter from Joshua…

    A sudden downpour of rain flattened his chestnut hair close to his head and spattered against his white greatcoat as he recalled the note that his friend Cronen had sent post-haste to the Telgradian two days ago, requesting his assistance and to meet in the Floating City. Shinsou felt compelled to oblige the man known as Breaker; a man without whom he would not have survived the goddess Am’aleh’s test. He was a good man that contrasted Osiris’s own introverted morality with a kind heart and strong personality rarely found on Althanas, and despite their slight ethical differences the Telgradian had warmed to him quickly.

    As if the thought triggered an involuntary reaction, Shinsou’s hand rested on the hilt of Shira, the ice-craft blade Joshua had created for him to replace the now-ascended Enpera.

    So Am’aleh believes this temple of Draconus is populated by slavers, huh? Well, if it is, I’m quite happy to put an end to that. I’ve got no problem with killing two birds with one stone. After all, I owe them both that much...

    Shinsou usually enjoyed the smell of the rain, but here it seemed to stir the horrible odors of this urban dump. As he strode between shanties towards the place he could access the city above, the accusatory eyes and glazed expressions of the people followed him as he passed.

    ***

    Joshua Cronen was just ahead of him, seated at a table in the corner on his own. He didn’t turn his thin, youthful face round to acknowledge the Telgradian, but rather kept his eyes on his whisky, allowing himself to blend in whilst people walked past him without paying him any heed. Shinsou echoed that caution well; from beneath his own long white coat a well hidden pair of his swords Stygian and Shira swayed from side to side well out of view of any suspecting eyes as he walked and slid into a stool alongside his charge.

    “Good to see you, Breaker.” Shinsou said, offering his hand. “I trust you, too, are enjoying the traditional Lornian culture of being made to feel completely and utterly unwelcome?”

    “You could say that…” Joshua replied as he accepted the Telgradian’s hand. “Thanks for coming at short notice. Am’aleh is grateful for your help in this matter, as am I…”

    “It wasn’t a hard decision, friend. If what she says is happening at this temple is happening, it needs to be stopped. Besides, aside from owing you one, I’m here on Brotherhood business too.” Shinsou repositioned the sheath of Shira at his side with a steady hand. “A couple of my top guys have vanished into thin air while on assignment here and I want to know why. Hopefully answers to both issues will be forthcoming sooner rather than later because this place is absolutely depressing me. How soon can you be ready to head to the temple?”

    Joshua sipped his liquor perfectly in time with the passing of another two patrons and waited for them to wander out of earshot before replying. “We can leave immediately if you want?”

    “Excellent.” Shinsou said, nodding his head. “Let’s go.”

    ***

    Shinsou marvelled at the structure ahead of him as the pair approached the final strait that led to the temple of Draconus, a place that seemed ill in tune with the overall derelict theme of Lornius. The smooth surface of the main path out of the Floating City boundary opened up from a cramped urban wing into an oddly sprawling area, and the walkway that followed carved the large, well-kept grounds of the building in two.

    Ahead, a silver gate stood at least three times the height of the wall on either side of it; a wall that encircled the entirety of the giant shrine and was topped with spires that seemed to scrape the dreary sky. By Shinsou’s estimation, it was probably forty feet high. The temple was made of marble and finely carved statues of the deity Draconus and his avatars adorned the edges of the gate around its massive doors. Joshua explained to Shinsou that he had seen the decorations before, reciting many of the names of the statues from memory, but was cut short as a pair of elaborately robed attendants approached them.

    “Can we help you?” the first attendant queried in a tone that suggested he didn’t want to help anyone at all with absolutely anything.

    Shinsou smiled. “Yes, we’re here to pay our respects to Draconus. We’ve come a very long way indeed.”

    The second attendant cut in, a slight frown creeping across his ever so slightly rotund face. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but we’re not open to the public at the moment. There’s a ceremony on, you see, and we’re very busy.”

    “Oh,” The Telgradian mused, “I wouldn’t worry. That won’t be a problem.”

    The attendants frowned together. The first attendant looked the pair up and down, a confused look plastered over his face. Shinsou looked around and saw that no-one else was watching, one hand placed on Stygian’s mythril hilt.

    “Sir, I don’t think you understand. We can’t admit you. Now please can you-”

    Nightfall

    The command preceded two quick strikes in succession that neither attendant even saw, both designed to graze the exposed flesh of the palms of their hands. Barely even drawing blood, the scratches were not intended to hurt the men, but instead install Stygian’s influence into them. Shinsou smirked to himself as he quietly thanked the high elves of Raiaera for crafting such a remarkable blade with such a useful power, and returned to the conversation.

    “If you would be so kind as to get the door, lads? It’s getting a bit chilly out here.”

    The attendants stood there for a moment, looking like two men who had walked into a room and forgotten what they had come in for, before dipping respectfully at the waist.

    “Certainly, sir. This way.”

    Joshua shot him a sideways glance. Shinsou grinned back.

    “Mind control. As long as it doesn’t endanger their lives, they’ll do anything I say for the next twelve hours. Actually, there’s a thought…” Osiris suddenly thought, turning back to shout to the attendants, “We’ll need your clothes too! Get naked, chop chop! Then you can have a little sleep in the bushes!”

    ***

    Newly clothed in slightly ill-fitting ceremonial robes, Shinsou and Breaker slammed the heavily reinforced temple doors behind them before taking a moment to investigate the building they had been tasked with combing for slavers.

    “Whoa. Look at this place. Seems a bit rich for Lornius, don’t you think?” Came Shinsou’s observation as he looked around.

    Far over their heads, vaults and arches sailed up and converged in a classical array of marble embellishments. A row of columns rose all the way to the ceiling and created an avenue that extended past the end of the hallway in which they stood. At the end of this avenue a white statue of Draconus, shrouded in what appeared to be some sort of dark cape, loomed over the walkway with a single clawed hand held towards the heavens. The floor consisted of a myriad of marble slabs that led to a centre circle underneath the peak of a stained glass dome, and as Shinsou and Joshua travelled forward it seemed that all other passageways through the building were connected through here. The flooring was laid in such a way that the emblem of the society that worshipped Draconus was sketched out over the circumference of the room.

    As a bevy of attendants poured from the aisles and flowed into other sections of the temple like water being split between aquaducts, Shinsou wondered how many people actually worked here.

    “Let’s get to work,” Joshua said quietly. The sheer expanse of the room and its bearing seemed to mute his voice. “There are a lot of people here so we’re going to have to tread carefully.”

    Shinsou nodded, running his tongue over his dry lips

    “Let’s walk up to the main chamber and go from there. If there’s anything going on here, I doubt they’ll be advertising it in the lobby, so my guess is there will be something tucked away in the recesses of the building. Best to get our bearings first and work from there without looking too suspicious, right?” Osiris asked in a hushed tone. He looked at Joshua for confirmation and seeing no strong objection turned on his heels and began walking towards the statue of the Draconus at the end of the corridor, his booted footsteps clicking on the marble in quick succession.

    Shinsou led the way, walking a straight path between the columns as he made his way with Breaker in tow. The lay-out of this section of the building was similar to how the Telgradian had imagined the complex; high, narrow windows of colourful stained glass, patterned to portray important religious events. They alternated with the pillars, dark with the lack of any background light. Under these, tucked into coves far into either side of the corridor, were strange pedestals that contained small statues of various figureheads of the Draconus cult. Rows of lighted, scented candles flickered on top of tables positioned either side of these figurines. The most spectacular shrine, with double the amount of candles and trinkets as the next, was dedicated to the first ever priest of the cult; Father Florendale. Caught in the dancing light of torches lighting the corridor, his statue was the inspiration for all that passed through these halls.

    "Good morning"

    The words from a passing priest almost startled Shinsou, but he quickly composed himself.

    "Good morning." Osiris said, dipping from the waist slightly to show respect and keep up the facade. He didn't hear Joshua return the greeting; apparently he felt it more appropriate to hang just behind her and give a little wave.

    The priest thought nothing of it and rambled on past them.

    Fair enough.

    "Nearly there," Shinsou whispered to Joshua. "Let's hope we avoid any more random encounters. Our cover will only be good for so long."

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    The Second Coming: 29 days remaining

  3. #3
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 171,784, Level: 18
    Level completed: 10%, EXP required for next level: 17,216
    Level completed: 10%,
    EXP required for next level: 17,216

    AP
    59
    GP
    16,155
    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

    View Profile
    "It looks like it should be clear from here," said Joshua 'Breaker' Cronen. He could hear no more heartbeats nor breathing in their immediate vicinity. As the acolytes filed out the large chamber became strangely hollow. Josh had felt dangerously exposed despite the borrowed robes they wore. In Corone he was a well known prizefighter and the former sheriff of Underwood, and the twin Y-shaped on his cheeks made for a recognizable description. This is Lornius, where no one would give a shit even if they had heard of you. He reminded himself.

    The crossing from Corone had been pleasant enough. He'd hired passage on a pirate ship and sailed west on fair breezes three days earlier. Being so close to Am'aleh during the short voyage had given him goosebumps. He'd heard her voice in his dreams again, telling him to put his faith in Shinsou. The Goddess had forced a meeting between the two by putting them through a crucible of bravery and pain, and now this. He'd followed Shinsou's lead and before long the Telgradian had them deep in the heart of the Temple of Draconus. Never before had Am'aleh demanded such blind faith of him. It provoked a rush of adrenaline, like jumping out of an Alerian airship with nothing but a sail-chute to slow the fall.

    Draconus is a slow, ponderous God, Am'aleh had told Josh during the crossing, and he does not believe in intervening among his followers. He will not lift a hand against this slight. You must take the temple, for the sake of the slaves held there, and for my salvation. Breaker frowned at the thought, deeply troubled that his Goddess could be dying. It was difficult to justify the act of seizing the temple in Am'aleh's name. Difficult, but not impossible. Many of the people they freed would have nowhere to go; they would need a place to live and, in some cases, direction. Am'aleh could provide that.

    And she needs it, Josh thought fervently. What she needs, she will have. The lush decorations would be sold, the ornamentation melted down. All that Am'aleh's worshipers would require would be a space to gather, and perhaps some weapons in case there was need to protect themselves. Breaker could see it, as if looking at a mirage. The statues and totems gone, the ornamentation melted... yes, melted down to forge swords and spear and arrowheads. There was plenty of good timber to spare in the Temple of Draconus, and probably down-stuffed cushions...

    Breaker blinked. He was thinking too far in advance, and had wandered to the back of the great vaulted hall. Here the torchlight did not fall, and he found a staircase concealed behind a half-wall made from the same sanded stone as the wall behind it. Even to Breaker's keen eyes the staircase had been all but invisible until he stood beside it. Grinning, he gestured for Shinsou to follow and stepped down the stairs, metal boots clanking softly on the hard marble.

    The basement resembled an impoverished version of the room above. It had a low wooden ceiling and rough-hewn stone floors and walls. There were rows of oaken pews covered by dustcloths and a raised platform at the back with a modest shrine to Draconus. This is what a place of worship should look like, Josh thought, and this is their spare parts drawer. The walls were covered in paintings of dragons and dragon like creatures, all aiming to capture the likeness of Draconus himself. Of course no one in known history had actually seen Draconus. Am'aleh on the other hand... she had revealed her true form to Josh on numerous occasions, and also to Shinsou the night they met. She was not above showing herself to those who served her, and providing counsel.

    Josh prowled down the row of pews, checking under dustcloths and searching behind the raised platform. A pair of plain wooden doors led to the west, and a matching set to the east. He ran a callused hand through close-cropped brown hair and scratched a stubbled chin.

    "There's nothing here," he noted, perhaps unnecessarily. "We should split up," he suggested, moving toward the east doors.

    "Good idea," Shinsou said, "I'll take the west."

    Josh wasn't sure what he'd been expecting... perhaps a dingy sub-basement full of people in chains. Have faith, he reminded himself. They would find something important, by the grace of Am'aleh.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  4. #4
    Der Geächteter zerrissen
    EXP: 57,454, Level: 10
    Level completed: 32%, EXP required for next level: 7,546
    Level completed: 32%,
    EXP required for next level: 7,546

    AP
    0
    GP
    6,150
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
    Age
    31
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Brown
    Eye Color
    Gold
    Build
    6'0", 155lbs
    Job
    "Executor" (Leader) of the Brotherhood

    View Profile
    The temple’s west wing was as enormous, and as disquieting, as any other part of the building Shinsou had travelled through.

    With Joshua selecting the eastern section of the building for investigation, Osiris found himself walking through another set of heavy oak double doors leading him to a new area. As soon as the Telgradian entered, he found himself standing on a polished marble platform that jutted out a couple of feet from the doorway. From here, the platform seemed to be adjoined to two similar marble walkways that followed the curvature of the wall in both directions until the two paths ended abruptly at the back of some sort of amphitheatre. Shinsou felt a little disconcerted standing on this entryway, wondering if he had accidentally wandered into a section meant for the leaders of the temple and, therefore, an area where he might easily be caught, but no-one seemed to be around.

    It was quickly obvious that this room was not to be taken lightly. Looking in either direction, Osiris was no less disconcerted by the great height to which this room stretched than to the depths to which it sank. He saw the familiar series of narrow rows, forming a stepped inner semi-circle that connected to the outer gangway. The chamber seemed to be layered much like the Telgradian Council auditorium back in Garah City, with distinct tiers of unused marble rows that led to an inner well where the five chairs of the Council of Five were located.

    There seems to be no end to the pretentiousness of this place. Whilst most of Lornius live in the shadow of the Floating City in squalor, these bastards are living the dream in an embarrassment of riches.

    As Shinsou ventured across the gangway and walked down to the centre of the well, he looked straight ahead towards the lavish golden chair and clapped his eyes on a plaque etched with the name of the temple’s most important man, ‘Samuel Faustus’. It was about then that footsteps could be heard clicking in unison from the corridor outside. Shinsou, aware of how out of place he would look in such a grand area of the temple and now feeling extremely vulnerable, dived behind the nearest piece of furniture he could find. This happened to be a massive, hollowed out table with a wooden slab at the front; just enough to hide Osiris from prying eyes, but was far away enough from the throne and other seats to be a decent enough hiding place. As he heard voices enter the room, the Telgradian’s heart pounded against his chest.

    For the love of fuck! Why now?

    Through a narrow gap in the wood, Shinsou spied the party of seven that had entered and were now swanning about on the gangway above. The man who led them was about five foot six, but slightly podgy and his face seemed to be covered in a short black stubble beard. A white and gold patterned robe hung over his uniform from the neck down. A steady hand rested on the top of a silver walking cane.

    Master?

    The voice that spoke startled Shinsou so much that he nearly yelped. It took a good few seconds before the Telgradian realised the ethereal voice was that of Enpera, his familiar who was currently sealed away in his old sword’s hilt. Osiris was still getting used to Enpera being able to communicate with him via telepathy, and silently cursed the badly timed interruption.

    For fuck’s sake! You nearly gave me heart failure! A little quieter next time, maybe?

    The beast ignored Shinsou’s reproof. I feel something from the temple. Something I cannot place…

    “Please, gentlemen, follow me.” The voice of the white-and-gold robed man echoed down towards Shinsou’s hiding place, drowing out Enpera’s observation. There was no further dialogue, but each of the attendants following stood to one side of their leader, dipped at the waist, and then marched behind him in unison to a door at the far end of the room. As the men made themselves scarce, Shinsou rose from underneath the desk and stood, his crumpled, borrowed robes unfolding beneath him.

    I’ve not seen anything that suggests slavers yet. That said, we’re only a little ways in, Osiris started to Enpera, his inner voice firm and resolute. What is it you felt?

    There were no audible footsteps anymore and so Enpera’s voice came clearly and concisely. Some sort of magic.

    There was a moment’s pause.

    You felt magic in a place filled to the brim with fucking magic? Gee, what are the odds?! Shinsou’s sarcasm stemmed mostly from his frustration of nearly being rumbled in the chamber, but Enpera’s lack of specifics was starting to annoy him. Anything, I dunno, specific or helpful?

    All I can tell you is that it doesn’t flow from what the Althanians call the Eternal Tap. The source seems isolated, like it is coming from a different place…

    Shinsou stroked his chin thoughtfully, tapping his fingers on the table. Doesn’t flow from the tap? Odd, but it’s not exactly condemning. Our Telgradian magic doesn’t, either. You’re not sensing yourself, are you?

    Enpera snorted. Are you mocking me?

    As a friend jests with another friend, Shinsou retorted, tapping his hand habitually on the side of his leg as he began his lone ascent up the auditorium. Well, I’ve seen nothing suspicious, but that energy source might be worth having a glance at. Can you direct me?

    Enpera’s tone barely changed. If he was irritated by his master, he didn’t show it. In fact, they had been together in one form or another for so long now that the beast was probably used to these little moments. Sure. Let’s hope I don’t direct us to where we are stood now, eh?

    The two almost smirked together and with that Shinsou realised that his Enpera truly had ascended to a sentience of its own. It was even beginning to understand his dry humour and ironic undertones for the first time. The silence of this part of the building was almost tangible and the atmosphere dull and lifeless. Never in a thousand years would they find anything here. As they began making their way east, back towards where Joshua had decided to head, Shinsou began to wonder if Am’aleh’s concerns were legitimate.

    Why would she lie, though? To Joshua or to me?

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    The Second Coming: 29 days remaining

  5. #5
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 171,784, Level: 18
    Level completed: 10%, EXP required for next level: 17,216
    Level completed: 10%,
    EXP required for next level: 17,216

    AP
    59
    GP
    16,155
    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

    View Profile
    The double doors leading east yawned into a tall, wide corridor that curved out of sight. More double doors interspersed the stone walls on either side, and a quick examination of the first room showed that it was used for storage. A faint musty smell lingered around the shelves full of old books and scrolls. In the next room a layer of dust encased an assortment of broken and less-grand statuettes of Draconus, those that had been deemed unworthy of display on the main floor. Even so, the amount of silver and gold filigree in the chamber added up to a small fortune.

    This may be a temple of Draconus, Josh thought, scratching a hand over his stubbled chin, but they worship at the altar of wealth here. The wastefulness of it all put a sick feeling in his stomach that he could not shift. Exhaling a long breath that stirred a cloud of dust, he ducked back into the corridor and continued his search. He listened at each door along the way but did not enter all of them. Am'aleh will help me find what we seek.

    After passing several more plain wooden doors he came to one inlaid with carvings and gold ornamentation. The intricate woodwork showed an image of Draconus as a humanoid dragon, holding the Floating City above his head on long muscular arms. His skin was flecked with scales of gold. A strange power resonated from within the room, much like a fire radiates warmth only far less comforting. Breaker pushed the carved door open and stepped into a miniature hall of worship.

    Stout wooden chairs encircled a dais upon which stood a large rounded object covered by a dustcloth. Breaker cocked an eyebrow as he made a quick search of the racks of spare robes stowed along the west wall. The smell of the room and the absence of dust said that it saw regular use. Why then cover the dais? His boots pinged softly on the marble floor as he wound his way through the sturdy chairs to the center of the room and heaved the dustcloth to the floor.

    The canvas cloth fell away to unveil a large glowing crystal. It radiated light at the same pitch as it pulsated power, not bright but certainly perceptible. In its depths energy crackled, and when Josh looked into it he could see his reflection thrown back at odd angles, sharply skewed to make him look like an unfamiliar version of himself. The crystal stood about half the height of a man and twice as wide.

    Soft footfalls echoed from the hallway and Josh spun around before recognizing the sound of Shinsou's approach. The Telgradian entered the strange chamber and eyed the centerpiece coolly.

    "What is that?" Shinsou inquired, somewhat rhetorically. "Enpera sensed it from the other side of this massive place."

    "I cannot decipher its purpose," Josh said, frustrated at his own lack of understanding. His hands hovered inches above the crystal's surface, wanting to touch it to delve further into its function yet not quite daring to do so. "It clearly holds great power... and yet..." he trailed off, exasperated.

    "Enpera can't seem to say what it does either," Shinsou admitted, moving closer through the forest of chairs, "I thought he might once we got a closer look but the beast is being strangely silent." The Telgradian posted a hand on a sword hilt through his bunched robes, gold eyes peering into the depths of the crystal.

    Breaker's ears practically quivered as he heard the sound of rhythmic footfalls from the hallway.

    "With me," Josh hissed. He gathered the dustcloth and tossed it back over the crystal, and then swift-stepped back into the corridor. They'd barely closed the door when a man swept around the bend in the hallway, striding confidently with an air of authority.

    He was a short man with short black hair and a short black beard. He carried a silver cane like an affectation, not appearing to need it to aid his walking. The top of the cane was a dragon's head, matching the drake-like patterns of gold ornamenting his long white robes. The round-faced man's mouth dropped open in surprise upon seeing them, but he schooled his features into an angry array quickly enough and leaned on his cane as if suddenly needing its support.

    "Who are you two?" He growled, "you're not of this temple. Where did you get those robes?" He tapped his cane on the marble floor to emphasize every other word.

    Josh and Shinsou exchanged a long glance. Cronen could see a dozen lies blossoming behind the Telgradian's eyes, and hastened to speak first. Only the truth, or at least a part of the truth, would save them from having to fight their way out.

    "We came here to worship at the altar of Draconus," Josh said, and his hazel eyes glowed with the same fervor as when he thought of Am'aleh. "Two of your acolytes were kind enough to lend us their robes. They're taking a nice nap now in some bushes outside. We merely wished to explore all that the temple has to offer, and we may have gotten a little carried away I fear. Please forgive us."

    The short, squat man turned his head and eyed them like a jeweler looking through a loupe. His mouth formed a hard, thin line, and then gradually softened into a wide toothy grin. A gold molar glinted in the light from an oil lantern's wall sconce.

    "They're napping nicely outside are they?" The man asked, and then banged his cane on the floor and burst into laughter. "Hahaha, oh that's a rich one. And you two just wandering the halls, enjoying the scenery are you? Hehehee, I like you lads. What brings you to the worship of Draconus?"

    "I was once a sailor," Josh said, showing the man the hard calluses on his hands. They came from training with weapons, not pulling ropes, but still bolstered the story. "One night while pulling water up to scour the pans from supper I fell overboard. Somehow the current buoyed me along, keeping my head above water until the crew threw me a line. It was only after a warm blanket and a good cup of whisky that I realized I was alive by the grace of Draconus, and by his grace alone. From that moment onward I swore to devote my life to the greatness of my God."

    The round-faced man nodded offhandedly, as if not really listening to the tale. He seemed more interested in moving them along than discovering their true purpose there.

    "Well we'll be glad to welcome you both to our ranks," he said, "my name is Samuel, and I'm the Abbott here. If you return on the morrow, we've planned an induction ceremony to bring new acolytes into the fold. Officially," he added, eyeing their borrowed robes. "You'll get your own garments and a full tour of the temple. What say you?" His cane tapped the floor impatiently, a strangely hollow sound.

    "We say yes, and thank you." Shinsou said, pulling at Joshua's sleeve and motioning for them to leave, "we'll see you tomorrow."

    "Glory be to Draconus," Josh said, his eyes ablaze with passion, boring a hole in the Abbott.

    "Yes yes," said Samuel, shooing them out with a pudgy hand, "glory to Draconus and all that. Run along now."

    They hastened along the corridor, up the marble steps into the grand hall, and out through the front doors the way they had come.

    "That was bloody close," Shinsou muttered as they passed through the courtyard.

    "Am'aleh's hand shelters us," Breaker responded, eyes afire even as icy fingers of doubt crept 'round his faith.
    Last edited by Breaker; 10-12-16 at 11:44 AM.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  6. #6
    Der Geächteter zerrissen
    EXP: 57,454, Level: 10
    Level completed: 32%, EXP required for next level: 7,546
    Level completed: 32%,
    EXP required for next level: 7,546

    AP
    0
    GP
    6,150
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
    Age
    31
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Brown
    Eye Color
    Gold
    Build
    6'0", 155lbs
    Job
    "Executor" (Leader) of the Brotherhood

    View Profile
    The Crow and Cockerel was located in the centre of the Floating City, deep within the winding labyrinth of filthy alleyways and grotty passages that comprised the intestines of the sprawling but aged technological wonder high above Lornius. It was a crooked, quaint and almost decrepit sort of building, barely propped up by its walls and capped by a brittle slate roof that looked as if it was held together on a prayer. Almost any time someone slammed the heavy front door, shale tile shrapnel would rain down over the pavement and pepper the gutter below.

    Despite its apparent structural poverty, the tavern still boasted a healthy turn out. Through the grimy glass windows, a handful of oil lanterns burned brightly and the even in the early afternoon shadows of patrons jigged merrily about against the inner walls. Myriads of conversations crept through the crevices of the doors, catching the ears of those passing by.

    Shinsou Vaan Osiris had been there for an hour, he reckoned, as he stroked a finger through his thin stubble and wracked his brains, swaying back and forth on a wooden bar stool. The previous day’s endeavour at the temple had yielded more questions than answers but, as he waited once more for Joshua, Shinsou tried to break down what he had seen in the hope of shedding further light on the situation.

    They were a bit odd, but isn’t that inherent in all these cultish types? Osiris mused, I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Samuel was rude and dismissive, so ticks all the boxes for what I would expect from a priest. If there’s something going on that falls outside of the usual remit of a tinpot cult, I just can’t see it, Am’aleh.

    The Telgradian’s arms folded underneath him as he leant forward on the table and peeled his heels from the wooden, sticky beer soaked planks that made up the floor. Everything suddenly went quiet as Shinsou once again revisited every small detail in his head.

    We struggled to get in, but when we did we explored both wings. There was a throne room, a couple of important looking ministers and Samuel Faustus, the abbot. Then there was that room with the crystal in. Samuel seemed pretty keen to get us out of that room, but again why wouldn’t that be normal? We weren’t really supposed to be there…

    It was then the normally concealed Enpera decided to offer council. The spirit, whose own consciousness was tied to that of its master, spoke quietly with a granulated ambience heard only by the Telgradian.

    I’ve thought more upon the matter of the crystal, the beast started ponderously, and something about it is odd. I underwent an almost hypnotic experience as I tried to analyse it. There was something woven into the crystal that was preventing me access, as if it was pulsing outwards some strange energy as a self-defence mechanism. Beyond that, though, the rest is speculation…

    Shinsou brushed aside a bang of brown hair and stiffened his arms, straightening his back as he did. The messenger sighed, resting his hands on his hips and shaking his head.

    That doesn’t prove anything other than they own a magical relic. So what? It certainly doesn’t answer the question on whether or not there are slavers there. Perhaps Am’aleh was mistaken? In any case, I’ve got two missing agents to worry about too and I feel like I’m back to square one.

    With that, the door to the tavern opened and Joshua slid through the front door, blending in almost immediately with the rest of the taverns patrons. The man started edging towards the direction of Shinsou’s table. Two child shaped blurs bolted past him and disappeared into a corner of the public house, laughing as they played together, seemingly phasing through the wall of people lined up at the bar ordering drinks. Shinsou turned, paid one last glance to the children behind him, and faced his friend who seated himself quietly. Suddenly, a tingling sensation erupted within the pit of his stomach. It was then, as the sensation settled that the swordsman felt it; a power that felt like a sudden burst of light amongst a gigantic sheet of icy shadow. It was faint at first, barely even registering in his gut, but became heavier quickly.

    It was then he realized something. In his previous meeting with ‘Breaker’, both men had been stripped of their powers, only for them to be returned at the end of Am’aleh’s trial. The Telgradian had never had the time, nor inclination, to measure up Joshua. Now, though, Shinsou could sense strong magical energies again and what he felt from Cronen was a force he simply couldn’t explain.

    Was he always this strong?! I’ve never felt anything like it!

    As suddenly as the first power had, a second energy manifested within the range of Shinsou’s senses. This one he recognised instantly as Enpera. It was bathed in electric purple and felt as if a kiln of dark, burning energy had overturned inside him. Something very strange was going on. The Telgradian should have been able to sense the two presences before, back in the temple. Had something been suppressing his abilities?

    For now, Osiris dismissed it. Perhaps another time he could establish relevance, but now was not the moment for it.

    “Joshua,” Shinsou said, nodding a greeting towards his partner, “Did you find anything?”

    “Nothing…” Cronen retorted, brushing his pale skin and clothes down. “I’ve decided I’m going to commune with Am’aleh again and seek further guidance.”

    ”Mmm…” The Telgradian exhaled, a hand resting upon his chin as he pondered, “I don’t doubt she has reasons for her beliefs, but is it possible she is mistaken somehow? Can a goddess even be mistaken? I don’t know, but as you say, perhaps it is time for some guidance.”

    Osiris plucked a notebook from his inside jacket pocket. Scrawled over the first sheet was an address in almost illegible script.

    “The men I am searching for had a base of operations here,” Shinsou said, leering at the paper in front of him, “and from there I will be able to access the Brotherhood archives, assuming they left their keystones. If they did, I can summon a portal that leads me to the Brotherhood scriptures. There might be something on the temple, or even something on the missing operatives themselves that would give us a clue. It’s really the only thing I can do now, from my end at least.”

    His thoughts fluttered as the two came to a silent accord. The burden weighing on Joshua seemed to be more about faith in Am’aleh’s words than whether or not there were actually slavers. It was a trait Shinsou held sympathy with. Breaker was a good man with a virtuous heart and unquestionable loyalty to his goddess. Osiris placed his own faith not into deities but into people around him who had, for better or for worse, advanced him. Mostly, it had changed him for the better and Joshua was one such example of someone who had helped perpetuate that. But how would it feel if the man Shinsou had held in such high regard suddenly allowed that infallibility to fail?

    How would Joshua feel if the faith he had placed in his goddess was shaken, even just for a small moment?

    Shinsou’s golden eyes steeled in front of the uncertainty, his nostrils full of the refreshing scent of ale. Althanas was a cruel, unfair place, and faith was a hard thing to find and a harder thing still to keep. Yet even as his gaze fell upon the tested form of his friend, the Telgradian sensed a strong resolve burning within him.

    Perhaps collectively they would fill in the blanks, bring clarity to the situation and help to abolish Joshua's lingering doubts. Perhaps not.

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    The Second Coming: 29 days remaining

  7. #7
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 171,784, Level: 18
    Level completed: 10%, EXP required for next level: 17,216
    Level completed: 10%,
    EXP required for next level: 17,216

    AP
    59
    GP
    16,155
    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

    View Profile
    "Am'aleh's eyes guide you," Josh said to Shinsou. He stood up, glad to leave the dingy tavern. He walked around a long table, through a cloud of fumes from the sour wine the men there supped, and out the door. On the street he blended with the crowd despite his tailor-cut clothing, moving at the same workaday pace as the residents of the Floating City's slums. He kept his eyes down, certain that if the scars did not get him recognized, the blazing zeal in his eyes might cause a fight. He moved with the common folks' current until it carried him toward the outskirts of the city, where the buildings became polished and pristine.

    Breaker smiled. Many cities had slums along the outskirts, with the richest buildings occupying the center for safety. Ten thousand feet in the air, the Floating City had little worry of external incursion, and the costly real estate along the outskirts looked down on clouds. Josh passed several upper-class inns that he would have preferred over the Crow and Cockerel, the type with clean floors and tables and fine scotch in stock, but he had chosen the dirty pub for a reason. It was well concealed within the Floating City's ghetto, and not the type of place anyone looking for him would search. Am'aleh had entrusted him with this mission, and he did not intend to leave anything to chance.

    The crowd thinned as Josh moved through the upper class quarter, made up of merchants dressed in silks and financiers wearing sifan cloth, some of whom had a cudgel-wielding bodyguard or two in tow. His black metal boots pinged softly over swept cobblestones, and his pale blue clothing swished as he increased his pace. Before long Josh arrived at the air-dock where the steam shuttles made regular stops. A long stone jetty jutted out into nothingness, its end wreathed in wispy clouds. A small crowd of people wearing woolens and silks stood waiting for the next shuttle to arrive. Beside them rested a well-kept ticket booth with a bored looking dark elf behind the glass.

    Breaker stepped up to the booth and gave the attendant a stressed smile.

    "When's the next shuttle due?" He asked.

    "Thirty minutes," the dark elf replied, glancing at a clock on the wall beside him, "one ticket for the trip to Lyridia, sir?" Unless one had one's own airship or the ability to make portals, the shuttles were known as the only way of traveling between the Floating City and the rest of Lornius.

    "Perhaps," Josh said, "I may be back." He turned on his heel and retraced his steps along the clean cobblestones of the wealthy district. On his way to the air-dock he had noticed a small shop that boasted 'Alerian technology and trinkets' on a hand painted sign. He found the grey brick building easily enough and pushed through the heavy oaken door. A silver bell jangled above his head, and a grey-bearded dwarf looked up from reading a newspaper behind the counter.

    The shop was neat and squared away with military precision; every item seemed to have its own proper place. The counter top was clean and bare save for the dwarf's newspaper. The front shelves contained an array of flintlock pistols, various parts from steam technologies, an old musket, and a cacophony of ticking clocks.

    Josh tipped the dwarf a nod as he sidled up to the counter and glanced at the newspaper's headline. Still No Clues Regarding the Six Prisoners Escaped from Terrinore Isle, it read.

    "Do you have a sail-chute?" Josh asked, looking towards the back of the store where more shelving lurked. "It's a--"

    "I know what a sail-chute is, lad." The dwarf harrumphed, "and aye, I do have one or two in back. Let's take a look then." He disappeared into the rear of the shop. Pots and pans clanged, clocks chimed, and a cat mewed as he searched, but in minutes he returned with what looked like an oversized haversack. Closer inspection revealed that the bag was made of reinforced vlince, and included two padded shoulder straps and a connecting belt.

    "I'll take that, and a pair of goggles if you've got them." Josh said with a polite smile. "How much?"

    "Fifty gold pieces for the sail-chute, and we'll say five more for the goggles." The shopkeeper opened a drawer full of glasses and goggles and selected a pair. "Made with cillu glass from Fallien and good Alerian leather, these were. Designed for use in the skyfleet." He put the chute on the clean oaken counter and stacked the goggles on top. "Fifty-five gold pieces all together sir. Wait a moment, surely you don't intend to... do you?"

    "Let's say sixty," Josh grinned. He removed a small leather purse from inside his jacket and unbuttoned it, selecting two gold crowns. One was thick and worth ten gold pieces, the other thicker and worth fifty. He stacked them neatly on the counter and reached for his purchases.

    "You mustn't," the dwarf said suddenly, placing his hands over the chute, "'tis designed for airship-to-ground use. And I can't guarantee it will work." He sounded desperate, but not shameful.

    Josh shook his head and chuckled, and then gently moved the dwarf's hands aside. He shouldered the pack and tightened the belt and put the goggles on over his forehead.

    "How many of the clocks on that shelf work?" He asked.

    "All of them." The dwarf answered begrudgingly. "But lad, I cannot have yer' life on my mind."

    "My life is not in your hands," Josh pointed out. Have faith, he thought as he left the shop. He got a few odd glances as he returned to the air-dock; he was probably the only man in the Floating City wearing goggles on his head. The chute's sack felt comfortable on his back as he stepped past the ticket booth and the crowd of commuters and looked down into fluffy grayness. He reached up and placed the goggles snugly over his eyes, and then checked the chute's straps one last time.

    I'm coming, Am'aleh. He thought, and then dove headfirst from the dock.

    Breaker heard cries of shock from the folk waiting for the shuttle. He saw the innards of the Floating City's framework, all shaped stone cobbled together by metal rods. He saw the steam engines that held the city up in the sky, and then he was out in the open air.

    He plummeted through a frigid bank of clouds and then found himself looking down on Lyridia. From so high above it resembled a toy city carved for some lord's children. Wind thrashed his body and howled in his ears. He stretched out his arms and legs, slowing the descent slightly. His clothing rippled in the slipstream, threatening to tear away, but the strong sifan stitching held. The force of the fall bombarded his muscular body, and a spike of adrenaline raced through his veins. With each passing second the ground grew closer, and the air thicker. More oxygen circulated to Josh's brain with each breath, and the resulting high welled up in an uncontrollable burst of energy.

    "Wahoooo!" He roared as Lyridia rushed up to greet him. He reached behind his neck and pulled the cord. The harness tugged violently and he looked up. Above him the reinforced canvas chute opened like a sail, filling with air and slowing his descent. He hung from the chute like a spider using its web to waft on the wind. Opening himself to the Eternal Tap, he summoned gusts of air to help steer his descent, aiming for the middle of Lyridia, the heart of the slum city.

    Buildings in Lyridia made the Crow and Cockerel look like a luxury resort. Breaker landed inside an abandoned tavern whose ceiling had completely collapsed. The impact of his metal boots hitting piled stone sent shock-waves throughout his body, and rattled the building so badly it threatened to fall in on itself. Josh shed the chute and re-packed it quickly, tucking the goggles into the haversack's lining and hiding it amidst the wreckage. He squared his shoulders and took a deep breath of putrid sea-level air. He could smell rotting garbage and human excrement in the adjacent alley, and overly spiced meat cooking beyond that. He strode through the building's empty doorway on slightly shaky legs and paced along the alley toward a wider street. He passed the Lyridia air-dock where a steam shuttle was just taking off, its massive helium balloon fully expanded. Smiling as the adrenaline finally left his body, Josh made his way toward the city's port.

    From a ramshackle wooden structure along the side of the street, a pair of young grey eyes watched him go.

    Breaker breathed through his mouth as he navigated the muddy roads of Lyridia, avoiding the smells of unwashed bodies and what passed for food offered by hawkers. He took a detour around a tavern brawl that had spilled out into the street and made his way to the pier where a variety of ships moored. Slovenly fishing vessels that seemed on the brink of sinking bobbed next to finer merchant craft. Breaker paced down the length of the dock to the ship at the end of the line. It was a long sloop with crimson triangle sails, made from stout trakym and rywan wood. He climbed the gangplank and found a pair of pirates on the main deck, doggedly scrubbing stains from the sanded floorboards.

    "Well if it ain't Joshua Cronen, come to call on us again!" Chortled the first pirate. He tossed his long brown dreadlocks and twiddled his braided beard. "Ahoy there bucko, what be yore needs today?" The buccaneer leaned on his mop, glad for a break.

    "Aye, are ye' prepared to return to Radasanth already?" The second pirate asked, sloshing a bucket of seawater over the polished deck. "Was the stink of Lyridia too much for ye'?" The freebooters chuckled and slapped one another on the back.

    "Tell the captain I need you to sail me out to sea," Josh instructed, grinning a the pirates' antics, "I need a few minutes on the open water."

    "Twill cost ye' a pretty penny, boyo." The first pirate advised, scratching his head through a red bandana that matched the ship's sails. "Are ye' shore ye' wouldn't rather hire a rowboat?" He laughed at his own joke and slapped his belly.

    "This ship will do nicely," Josh decided. He produced the small leather wallet once more and selected a rectangular piece of prevalida Raiaeran currency, valued at one hundred gold pieces. He passed it to the first pirate, whose eyes widened at the sight of such wealth.

    "Righto matey, finest ship in the known world this is. If ye' ever needs anything on board, come see me, Marigold the Freebooter!" He took the rectangular coin willingly and raced off to the captain's cabin at the aft end of the ship, bare feet drumming the deck boards.

    Before long the ship was alive with colorfully garbed pirates. They ran about the deck raising sails and tying down ropes and bantering to each other in nautical jargon that seemed a language all its own. Josh paced to the forward end and looked out over the railing with crisp sea air washing his face. Soon they left behind the smell of rotting fish and bilgescum that scarred the port, the crimson sails carrying them out onto the open ocean.

    "Drop anchor," Josh called after they had cleared the reefs that surrounded Lornius. The pirates echoed his instruction along the length of the sloop, and the iron anchor splashed into the water from its berth amidships.

    "I'll be but a moment," Josh told Marigold, who had stayed close by since seeing the wealth in his purse. He climbed up on the railing and took a deep breath of salty air, inflating his lungs to full capacity.

    He stepped off the railing and plunged into the sea.
    Last edited by Breaker; 10-07-16 at 05:30 PM.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  8. #8
    Der Geächteter zerrissen
    EXP: 57,454, Level: 10
    Level completed: 32%, EXP required for next level: 7,546
    Level completed: 32%,
    EXP required for next level: 7,546

    AP
    0
    GP
    6,150
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
    Age
    31
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Brown
    Eye Color
    Gold
    Build
    6'0", 155lbs
    Job
    "Executor" (Leader) of the Brotherhood

    View Profile
    The sky was now starting to break into the cold pale blue of a winter’s afternoon. Whilst the floating city basked in the low sun, Shinsou moved like a shadowy spectre once again through the slums underneath towards the Brotherhood safe house. Dirty puddles filled stretches of the streets, soaking Shinsou's pants up to the ankles as he slipped away from the railway house that shipped denizens between the earth and sky of Lornius. It was impossible to find a dry stretch of road to walk down and the milling crowds who braved the chill had stopped trying to find dry land to stand on, instead resigning their flimsy shoes to soak in the water welling up around their ankles. As the Telgradian purposefully strode past them, his boots churned up the mud and spattered it both up his own coat and the legs of those he passed.

    The meeting with Breaker had been short, and as Osiris carved a path through a ramshackle market towards his destination he wondered how his friend would fare with Am’aleh whilst he conducted his own intelligence gathering.

    We’ll get to the bottom of this, I’m sure. Now, I’m not too far away from the safehouse. Better go right here.

    As Shinsou approached a twisting intersection of dirt track, he checked twice for prying eyes and then swerved right, diving into the subtle opening of yet another of the labyrinthine corridors. Quickly the Telgradian trotted forward to ensure he wasn’t caught loitering by any witnesses, and it wasn’t long before the alleyway twisted into another left turn which opened out into some sort of district that was separate to the other slums.

    The Telgradian started to walk through the heart of what, oddly, seemed to be a ghost town. Ambling alone down a single road that seemed to carve it into two blocks of equal size, a few minutes passed before the puzzled Telgradian stopped at a large building to his right, just off the main road. It was one he recognized instantly, the only one in the street with a crumbling front porch that ran along the front. He could imagine people sitting there weaving baskets or carpets, but of course there was no-one to be seen which in itself was a mystery. Shinsou was momentarily re-assured when a couple of children cantered into view from a side street and trampled over a large, broken sign that lay splintered across the stone, but it was only a matter of seconds before the lowly looking denizens trotted off again and Shinsou was left alone in an eerie silence.

    How bizarre…

    It was then that Osiris caught something in the corner of his eye and his head snapped right to meet it. Upon the debris strewn steps of the house was an ornamental plate with a familiar marking etched into its scratched surface.

    This is the place, that’s our emblem. But, what happened here? Looks as if it’s been trashed…

    With a moment’s hesitation, the Telgradian walked up the steps and slowly pushed open the door.

    The interior of the destitute Lornian home was eerily silent; the only sound being a feint breeze brushing past the cracks in the wood of the window panes. Now out of the road, Shinsou stood motionless on the dusty wooden floor. The house around him looked like it had been abandoned for too long, something which worried the Telgradian as he stepped over scrap pieces of paper and filthy files that littered the floor. As he investigated the rest of the safehouse, walking past half drank months-old cups of coffee and half written reports, it occurred to Shinsou that the place had been quickly evacuated at short notice. Its once-quaint rooms, now with their small vaults and low wooden arches repurposed into Brotherhood living space, now seemed somehow filled with emptiness.

    This is very unusual. Whatever happened here had the men leave in a hurry, that’s for sure, but why? Time for some guidance, let’s see what these guys were up to.

    Shinsou brushed away the strands of brown hair from his face as he signed a pentagram on the floor, finishing the rune with two fingers touched to his forehead. The lines on the floor burned with a glowing orange hue as he launched into the appropriate incantation.

    Kaze Sasayakimasu

    The Telgradian could feel the power of his magic reverberating through his body, down his arm and into the rune on the floor. The beginnings of a portal through which he could communicate over vast distances started to come together as the wall in front of him immediately warped into the flickering colours of an aurora. The layout of the dancing lights imploded into a contorting, twisting wall of chaos; colours brightly sifting through each other before stabilising and converging to form a screen with an oil-like shimmer.

    At its heart lay an empty calm through which the face of a young woman could be seen. Shinsou stared at the archiver breathlessly before bowing at the waist slightly.

    “Sorry to interrupt you, Aria. A situation has developed and I need to know the last reported movements of the unit under the command of Thain Golkovin. They were stationed in the Floating City, Lornius. It’s a priority.”

    The young face spread to the true ends of Shinsou’s field of vision. Behind her, in the translucent screen, hung a banner with the emblem that Shinsou knew to be that of the Brotherhood of the Castigars. Aria, in her guise as the Brotherhood’s chief archiver back in Whitevale, Corone, leaned forward slightly to reveal a thin face, framed by curls of brown hair. Her features were sightly, but then her blue eyes became sharp and focused and the woman held a determined expression as she gazed back into the portal at Shinsou. An aide dressed in scarlet red robes hovered next to her, standing so tall as to dwarf the lady.

    “Golkovin’s last report was over a month ago. They had been working on establishing a Brotherhood presence in the Floating City, but had run into some resistance. Golkovin reported he believed the source of that resistance came from a religious cult who worships Draconus.”

    Shinsou's gaze shifted to the floor as he paused for thought.

    “There’s nothing particularly unusual about that. These so called ‘cults’ can hold sway with a lot of people and I can’t imagine they’d be thrilled with the idea of a Corone based organization littering their island.”

    There was an awkward pause. Aria, holding a report, flicked a page over in front of her.

    “Shinsou, there’s more. Golkovin and the other men under him went to the temple to try and alleviate tensions, but after that we received no more reports. They just vanished.”

    Another moment of silence followed. The Telgradian leaned forward again, a frown creeping across his cracked lips.

    “So it seems. I’m at their safehouse now and it looks like they were in the middle of something and got interrupted or summoned somewhere. The temple seems to be the source of all this but I’ve just come back from there and there’s very little to report. We’ve been invited back tomorrow, so I’ll relay any information I can dig up. Thank you, Aria.”

    With that, Shinsou mumbled his gratitude. The world went green and violent as the portal shattered into a million tiny fragments in front of him, ending all communication with Whitevale.

    There’s something going on there, for sure, but god knows what. Slavers? I don’t know. I hope Joshua can help fill in the blanks.

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    The Second Coming: 29 days remaining

  9. #9
    Maul-Slayer
    EXP: 171,784, Level: 18
    Level completed: 10%, EXP required for next level: 17,216
    Level completed: 10%,
    EXP required for next level: 17,216

    AP
    59
    GP
    16,155
    Breaker's Avatar

    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    Ageless (looks 28)
    Race
    Demigod (human)
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Light Brown
    Eye Color
    Hazel
    Build
    6 feet / 202 lbs.

    View Profile
    Breaker sank beneath the wavy surface, weighed down by his boots until his body lost its momentum and found neutral buoyancy. He floated underwater, arms outstretched, eyes open despite the sting. He could see the coral reef that surrounded Lornius through the clear water, growing like an ancient forest from the bottom of the ocean.

    Am'aleh was all around him; in the sea, in the bubbles, he could taste her in the water. The blessing of her presence ordinarily brought Breaker such bliss, but it did nothing to assuage the doubt eating at the bottom of his heart.

    Where are you, my lady? He wondered. A single air-bubble escaped his lips.

    Rather than rising to the surface and bursting, the bubble split in two and floated level with Breaker's face. It split again, and again, becoming thousands of tiny bubbles that took up the shape of a woman. She was slender and beautiful, with soft eyes and shapely hips, and a knowing expression on her graceful face. She smiled at him, and hope grew inside Breaker like the first rays of morning sun.

    Why have you come here? Am'aleh asked with laughter in her tone. You know that I am with you always. Even in the Floating City, ten thousand feet above the sea, I would have heard your prayers and answered.

    It is not the same, Josh thought. A giddy feeling welled up inside him, almost as strong as the adrenaline spike that had coursed through his veins during the skydive. With an effort he suppressed the joy of Am'aleh's presence, focusing on his reason for being there. Am'aleh, he thought shamefully, I followed your instructions, and they left me filled with doubt. I'm no longer certain that we set out on the right path.

    Her laugh was liquid flowing around his ears, as playful as bubbles burst from a toddler's mouth in the tub.

    My poor champion, she said in a tone that mocked his mortality, did you expect following your faith to always be easy? You cannot have faith without a little doubt... otherwise it would just be fact. Your willingness to act without certainty is what truly excites me.

    The water around Josh's midriff constricted slightly, like being embraced by slender arms. He exhaled a burst of bubbles and smiled. His head spun slightly from the lack of oxygen, but he could last much longer without breathing than any ordinary man. He would willingly drown himself, for the pleasure of a moment more in Am'aleh's presence.

    Stay true to your instructions, the Goddess said, her voice fading. There are slaves in the temple of Draconus who must be set free, and you must claim the temple in my name. Be steadfast, Joshua... follow your instincts. Go now... the bubbles that made up her body burst into nothingness, and she was gone.

    Breaker kicked out powerfully until his head and shoulders broke the surface of the water. He'd been hoping for more, any kind of direction would have helped... but he'd known better than to expect it. Am'aleh was governed by her own laws and morals; she could only do so much to interfere in the mortal realm.

    "A line!" He cried up to the pirates who looked down with flabbergasted faces. "Throw me a line!" He'd been under water for perhaps five minutes; most men would not have returned from such a feat.

    The end of a heavy, braided hemp rope splashed into the water in front of him. Josh grabbed the hard tallow-waxed end and climbed the side of the ship boot over boot while the pirate crew helped haul him up. He spilled over the railing and lay on his back taking long, deep breaths. A few of the pirates looked on in shock, perhaps expecting him to pass out, while the rest went about raising the anchor and sails.

    "We thought you was a dead man, matey," said Marigold the Freebooter. He ambled up and offered his arm to help Josh stand, his wrist covered by a tattoo of a skull and crossbones. Josh took the buccaneer's hand and stood easily, water dripping from his fine blue sifan clothing.

    "It takes more than a little water to kill me," Josh jested, wiping droplets from his stubble-strewn cheeks. "Are we ready to make way?"

    "Just comin' about to sail back to Lyridia." Marigold nodded, motioning to the tiller where another pirate stood, guiding the ship in a sharp circle. "If ye' don't mind me askin' matey, what in the blazes were ye' doin' down there? Huntin' for sunken treasure?"

    Josh had to chuckle at the look of greed in the freebooter's eyes.

    "Nothing so simple I assure you. I was speaking with my Goddess."

    "Phaw!" Marigold expressed his disbelief before he could think better of it. "What good has any deity ever done for ye' mate? That's what I'd like to know."

    "Surely a man who lives off the sea must believe in something greater than himself?" Josh asked, ignoring the insult.

    "Right enough bucko," Marigold looped a thumb behind his belt and gestured at the sails with his free hand. "I believes in the wind, the water, and the weather. Those are my gods matey."

    "And mine as well," Josh said simply, enjoying the pirate's confusion.

    The ship sailed back into Lyridia's harbor, prow nosing through the thick smells of rotted fish and bilgewater. As pirates raced about doffing sails and throwing mooring lines to dockhands, Josh rested with his palms braced on the starboard railing. He was not looking forward to the trek back through the pungent slums of Lyridia, but it was a necessary part of the journey. Much like doubt in my faith, he realized. Second guessing himself and Am'aleh was unpleasant, but he would not discover the truth in the Temple of Draconus until he overcame his doubt. Am'aleh has spoken, he told himself as pirates secured the ship against the docks, it is not my place to judge, only to act as she has decreed.

    Josh thanked the pirates and got a rousing cheer in return. They may not know what I'm doing, he thought, but as long as I keep paying them, they're on my side. He hopped up on the gangplank and walked down to the docks, through the milling crowd of dockhands and sailors, and back through the muddy streets of Lyridia. His boots splashed in mucky puddles and beggars tugged at his clothing as he passed by. Twice he caught young pickpockets reaching for his wallet, but he let them both go with a stern warning. Before long he was back in the center of the city, close to the shuttle's docking station and the collapsed building where he'd stashed the sail-chute.

    As he sidled down the empty side street leading to his sail-chute's hiding place, Josh felt eyes on him. He walked past the empty threshold of the collapsed building and then doubled back suddenly.

    A boy of perhaps sixteen was peering around the corner of a single story brick building, curiosity in his young grey eyes. Realizing that he was caught, they youth stepped out into the open, moving slowly towards Josh one mud-squelching step at a time. His drab grey woolens were covered in dirt, as were his face and hands, and his short red hair seemed stiff with grease.

    "I saw you fly down from the Floating City," the boy called, "you won't find your haversack in there no more; we've taken it."

    "We?" Josh asked. He moved to the center of the street and fixed the boy with a steady gaze.

    The youth gave a low whistle, and then crouched down and unsheathed a rusty iron dagger from his ankle. The street became alive with urchins. They slipped out of the gaps between buildings and rose from piles of rubble and garbage, caked from head to toe in grime and clutching sorry excuses for weapons. Some carried large stones or lengths of timber, while others bore daggers like their grey-eyed leader.

    Josh glanced over his shoulder, confirming what his ears had already told him. He was surrounded.

    "Fancy flying man like you must have plenty o' coin," the red-haired youth reasoned. "Fancy clothes, fancy boots. We'll have your wallet and your boots, or we'll have that and your life." He made a slicing motion with his rusty dagger, and the circle of youngsters closed tighter around their would-be victim.

    One of the boys behind Josh stepped forward and swung the length of timber in his hands. He grunted, his feet squelched in the mud, and the wood whistled through the air.

    Breaker bent at the waist and swayed like a snake, hearing the improvised club miss his head by mere inches. He glanced over his shoulder to get the target and then lifted his left leg and kicked the offender in the chest. Not hard enough to kill him or collapse his ribcage, but hard enough to knock him back into several of his friends and leave him gasping on the ground.

    The circle of youths expanded slightly as they took a collective step back, shocked by the speed with which their mark moved.

    "Violent crime will get you nowhere," Breaker admonished.

    The circle seethed and closed in again.

    Josh pivoted, avoiding two slashing daggers, and seized the arm wielding a third. The arm belonged to the leader, and his grey eyes glared defiantly while he struggled against Breaker's immovable grip. Josh disarmed the boy with a twist of his wrist and then hefted the lad by his shoulders and swung him about like a flail. The boy screamed in alarm as the heels of his boots cleared his friends away in swift, scything strikes. Some of the boys fell to the ground, unconscious or dazed, while others fled before the same fate could befall them. Josh put the leader of the defeated group down and faced him with eyes as hard as hazel stone. The boy withered beneath his stare.

    "You may feel as if you have nothing," Josh said over the moans of the fallen urchins, "but you have your life, and you should not look so lowly upon it." He released the lad's arm, expecting him to flee, but the boy merely stood, staring hatred at him.

    "What would you know?" The lad challenged him, spitting each word with disgust. "You're an outsider, and a bloody rich one at that."

    "I know much of despair," Josh answered, "and I know you would have gladly killed me for the possessions I bear. How do you justify such an act?" The youth's face contorted, and then twin tears streamed down his cheeks.

    "My sister is ill," he confessed, the words coming out in a torrent, "my mother works but she can't afford the medicines we need, and I never knew my father. So aye, I'd have killed you for your gold, to keep my little sister alive."

    "Trading one life for another is a toxic exchange," Breaker warned, "and it's not your place to decide who lives and who dies."

    "But it's my sister," the boy cried, wiping tears from his cheeks and smearing dirt across his face, "what else can I do? No one gives coin to beggars in this bloody town."

    Josh paused. He had passed a number of vagabonds near the docks and not even considered giving them gold. He scratched his stubbled chin and then reached into his jacket and pulled out his wallet. Unbuttoning the leather case, he selected a thick crown valued at fifty gold pieces and held it out between finger and thumb.

    "This would buy the medicine your sister needs, and feed your family for a week I'd wager." He said. Greed flashed in the boy's eyes, not unlike the expression he'd seen on the face of Marigold the Freebooter. "It's yours," he went on, "but if you take this, you are promising me never to attack another innocent soul."

    The boy hesitated, and then snatched the coin and ran off, leaving half of his crew groaning in the gutters.

    Breaker returned his purse to his pocket and dusted his hands as he strode out of the alley. He made his way to the docking station and paid the fare for a one-way trip to the Floating City. The shuttle chugged and groaned as its steam engine warmed up, but lifted off the ground with little trouble as helium hissed from the titanium tank into the large vlince balloon. Breaker relaxed as he ascended ten thousand feet, feeling the air grow thin. The shuttle moored at the air-dock on the outskirts of the floating city and Josh flowed out onto the clean cobblestone with the rest of the commuters.

    Meandering back to the center of the city and the slums that housed the Crow and Cockerel, Josh found his thoughts of Am'aleh clouded by memories of the red-haired youth's tear stained face. Had the boy told him the truth? He supposed one of them had learned a golden lesson that day.

    Settling into a seat in the corner of the Crow and Cockerel with his back to the wall, Josh ordered whisky and waited for Shinsou to return. He had learned little, but his faith felt strengthened; prepared to deal with whatever doubt the next day might bring.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  10. #10
    Der Geächteter zerrissen
    EXP: 57,454, Level: 10
    Level completed: 32%, EXP required for next level: 7,546
    Level completed: 32%,
    EXP required for next level: 7,546

    AP
    0
    GP
    6,150
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
    Age
    31
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    Brown
    Eye Color
    Gold
    Build
    6'0", 155lbs
    Job
    "Executor" (Leader) of the Brotherhood

    View Profile
    The usually unshakeable Shinsou felt a little tired as he finished relating his findings to a much-more fresh faced Joshua Cronen. His compatriot listened carefully as the Telgradian explained his situation and concerns about what he had found at the safe-house, but it was clear from Osiris’s pained expression that although there was at least one new lead, Shinsou had returned without answers and this did not sit well at all with the Telgradian. They had found nothing between them at the temple, and even with a day’s research really still had no reasons or evidence to suspect it was anything other than a standard, run of the mill cult headquarters. Joshua’s own intelligence relied mostly on renewed faith and hope that Am’aleh would see him right, and whilst Shinsou had placed great confidence in the goddess he was also a man of facts.

    In this case, facts were sadly lacking.

    “There is a saying in Telgradia,” Shinsou lectured, rubbing his chin, “…that once you have eliminated the probable, only the impossible remains. I have no doubt that Am’aleh knows what she is doing but we have very little to go on except some missing agents, the word of a goddess, a temple of slavers and absolutely nothing else concrete to connect any of it. We’ll have to do a much more thorough search of that place tomorrow, but how? We march in there and start sweeping that way and we’ll be caught. In itself, not a problem, but we don’t want to make the entirety of Lyridia our enemy and undermine everything we’ve been doing.”

    Not to mention ruin the Brotherhood’s chances of setting up shop here peacefully. If this is going on, how the hell are they doing it? Logistically, practically, there’s just no way. Fuck, I can’t think straight.

    Shinsou’s mind was starting to tire. Cold air from the doorway blew across his wet and muddy clothes and the simple act of concentrating was becoming a mammoth task. Scanning the face of his powerful companion for a reaction, of which Joshua offered little, Osiris realized he would be no good for further contemplation tonight. Weaknesses of fatigue the human body were choking his logic and his usually keen memory couldn’t pick up enough useful details from their first trip to the temple to re-assess the situation.

    “I’m done for tonight, I think. I’m sorry.” He kept his gaze fixed down at his empty glass. “I don’t think we’ll be able to solve anything else here. Perhaps we’ll have better luck tomorrow at the ceremony. Let’s get some rest, eh?”

    The Telgradian was weary about bombarding his accomplice with too many convoluted and ill thought out theories. While tired, it wouldn’t serve anyone any purpose. Joshua may not have had a body that wore the same way as a regular human, but his understanding expression reassured Shinsou he hadn’t caused offence. A wave of the hand and a gentle nod confirmed this.

    “Sure. Let’s catch up tomorrow.”

    Osiris rose, nodding back, and strode wearily through the ground floor past an area known as the vault before turning left to go up the stairs. A burly looking man momentarily moved to block him but then seemed to recognise Osris’s face and stepped back. His keen eyes followed Shinsou as he disappeared into the living accommodation before returning to his post on the stairwell, his attention now taken by the swell of evening patrons.

    ***

    Night after night, the Telgradian revisited his confrontation with the Council of Five in his dreams. Every detail was etched into his soul. Every one of his painful memories embedded in him like pieces of glass shrapnel. He remembered a blood red sky littered with furrowed clouds every shade from palest pink to deep crimson. A warm breeze stroked the grass under Shinsou’s feet in wisps and bristled through his brown locks, disturbing them. Osiris remembered how the wind whistled as it swept over Enpera’s edge. He remembered how his skin cracked in the morning heat and how the razor sharp kurai swords of the five best Telgradian warriors in front of him twinkled in the dawn light.

    They stood defiantly, waiting patiently for Shinsou to make a move. They had been expecting a counterattack to come today. The Telgradian seers were always right.

    A smile crossed Osiris’s face.

    “I wondered how long it would be before you showed up. What folly, to throw your lives away for such a lost cause as defending Garah City. The war is lost.”

    Shinsou, looking in on his own dream in the third person, had forgotten much about that day, but now he remembered how the Jal Shey had subjugated him. Just listening to his words, nay, the words influenced by the Jal Shey lord Temperance in his body, sent a cold shiver reverberating down him.

    The silence was short lived as Riisa Endymeon, one-time tutor and former friend to the young boy Shinsou, charged alone towards him as the other members awaited their turn. Osiris wasted no time. His frame burst with dark energies that snapped at the air around him.

    “Enpera Kamishini”

    A solid wall of powerful dark matter, spears protruding from the structure, erupted from the ground with an almighty roar and cut off the approaching Riisa. The man, who possessed a goliath’s chassis in comparison to the meagre frame of the dark Shinsou Vaan Osiris, snapped back violently as the dreadful dark lances that jutted out stabbed through his right bicep. His long, matted black hair whipped the air about his head as he tore the offending spear from the wall and carved a jagged crevice up the dark matter’s surface with one of his gigantic swords.

    “Is this the best you can do?!” Riisa roared from behind his white battle mask, watching gleefully as Shinsou’s dark magic shattered like a breaking window in front of him, “You, the mighty Shinsou Vaan Osiris?! Hah! You’ve grown weak, boy! Magic of this level isn’t enough to stop us!”

    “Magic of this level?” Shinsou replied, motionless and expressionless, “Enpera Kamishini is a child’s plaything; a mere splinter of my capabilities. If you truly wish for oblivion, Riisa, you needed only to ask.”

    A firm, pale hand gripped Enpera’s ivory hilt tighter.

    “Senkai Shinjitsu: Enpera Kurohitsugi”

    As the sun beat down about the two of them, something suddenly pulled Osiris from his dream. A voice echoed in his mind as the blood soaked valley of Garah's outskirts faded to black. Gradually, the scene transfigured into something more familiar. Shadows danced along the cracked plaster walls of the Crow and Cockerel’s bedroom as candles burned in oil lanterns over the doorway. The pungent smell of rising damp wafted into the Telgradian’s nose, coaxing him into consciousness and stirring his senses in a way he would have preferred to not have experienced.

    How many hours had passed since he had fallen asleep, the Telgradian wondered? As Shinsou sat up, only the irises of the panther like form of Enpera stood out on first glance, an icy stare piercing the young man’s face.

    Shinsou! They’re-

    The voice was cut off as he felt it; five raw powers burning like molten lava in his gut, all too familiar pulses of sickening energy coursing through him again. He could feel the throbbing weight of the omen inside him, tearing at his heart. It was disturbing. In fact, it was almost maddening. They beat like a drum in time, spread from what seemed like all over the planet. Corone, Raiaera, Salvar, Alerar and Lornius. Every country in the world.

    The realization hit him like a brick. He was no longer dreaming. This was real.

    So, they've finally come...Riisa. Remy. Massimo. Dxun. Yes, even you...father...

    Althanas Operations Administrator



    The Second Coming: 29 days remaining

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