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Thread: The Cleansing Corruption

  1. #1
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    The Cleansing Corruption

    (closed to Shinsou Van Osiris)

    The road was nearly silent, muted completely by the ambient noise of steadily beating rain. Storm felt his shoulders sag as the rain pulled down at his leather overcoat, adding heft to his somewhat slight frame. The bright moonlight had been displaced completely by the cloud cover, and he held a palm open before his face as he rode. A bright orb of white and blue spun lazily before his hand, a beacon of light shining before his mighty horse. Attila marched steadily, eyes using the light to seek deepened puddles and potential footfalls. So too did Shinsou ride alongside him.

    Rain was cleansing; it would wash the whiskey off his breath and dirt and salt from his skin. It was also penetrating, and he felt his dress shirt begin to tack to his chest like a large white elastic. He’d be wet through lunch in the morning if the sun rose to drive off the clouds; all day tomorrow if the cloud cover remained steadfast. In either event, there would be four or five hours before the sun rose and took battle to the clouds. The night was owned by the incessant rain.

    “There’s a freeing luxury to saturation…” He switched hands, his right palm growing tired of suspending the magical lamplight, taking the reigns for the great beast below him instead. “You only get so wet, and then the rain can no longer burden you.” A smile spread across his face as the metaphor rung through to him.

    “Money, power, women… none of them ever saturate. We’ll always want MORE. ‘Enough’ becomes only how much the next richest man has, and once your wealth brings you to that point, you’ll always find yourself in the company of even richer and more powerful men.” Feeling old and sagely, the wizard paused from philosophizing. His traveling partner seemed far more altruistic in his goals; had Van Osiris been listening, it’s unlikely he’d even have understood what Storm Veritas was getting at.

    Is he a “good man”? Can I trust him? Are those related? Does taking down the Council make me a better man, or a worse one?

    The raven-haired soldier filled his periphery, marching with stoicism atop his own stallion. Shinsou was Telgradian, a powerful alien that carried himself with a certain nobility, in spite of the darkness lingering inside him. It wasn’t an altogether foreign concept to Storm. He was also very knowledgeable, strategic, and wise beyond his years.

    “Evil… evil saturates.” Storm was uncertain as to whether Shin was listening or not. The wizard’s thoughts needn’t be private, even if he was being quiet. “Once you cross the line, the people will ALWAYS see the darkness first. I can keep you in the white if that’s where you’ll want to live; there’s no turning back once you become the villain.”

    Trust me, kid. You’ll never be welcome back into the Ivory Tower once your hands get the wrong color blood on them.

    His thoughts fluttered as the two rode, his moral burden weighing on him. The mage had once been a wholly evil thing; a true hedonist that sought only the tangible and discrete targets. Karuka had changed him for the better, Taische more so. They had walked the line of good faithfully, showing compassion and care for him and others. They were also strong, and smart, and powerful.

    And now they’re f*cking gone. Apparitions, into the great ether of Althanas. Perhaps this land just swallows the good.

    His eyes steeled behind the falling torrents, nostrils full of the refreshing scent of ozone. Althanas was a cruel, unfair place, and required a person of power, judgment, and wisdom to rule it. Shinsou wasn’t all of these things; Storm wasn’t either. Perhaps collectively they would fill the gaps and make the land richer. Perhaps not.

    Perhaps they would be a better solution for the people than the corrupt Council of the Brotherhood, who orchestrated chaos to allow for anonymity and profit. The road to Whitevale was dark and clouded, and would be capped on the end with blood and bedlam.

  2. #2
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris had rarely travelled by horseback but found the journey from Radasanth to be surprisingly pleasant, even given the task ahead of them. The Telgradian was further surprised by his companion in tandem; Storm Veritas, who was liberally flecking the journey with his intellectual viewpoints and entertaining philosophies. Shinsou had previously seen him as sleek and sinewy; a dangerous and cold man who would do anything for a quick buck. Now, though, he was starting to warm to the electromancer. He had been listening intently to his partner's musings through the miserable weather and had realised the man he had been quarreling with in the streets of Radasanth had many more different dimensions to him than Storm had let on.

    It was starting to hit the early hours of the morning. The sun was still tucked behind the earth and only a dull glow of navy blue from behind a thin blanket of clouds gave any clues as to the time. The pair of allies rode down the muddy hill towards a junction where Shinsou shot a sideways glance at Veritas, listening intently to his final words. The man looked more like a politician than anything else, his rain soaked slicked-hair and saturated riding suit held taut against his athletic frame. Osiris agreed that had he not known what Storm was capable of, he would say he looked more suited to debating philosophy in a university somewhere than inciting coup de etats. However, the Telgradian also had a view to share, one that epitomised their very task at hand.

    "I’ve always found it ironic that two eternal, absolute concepts such as good and evil can be open to such wide interpretation," Shinsou started, adjusting his overcoat to protect from a sudden chill, "What is good and what is evil? Are they not merely a convenient way for people to categorise everything in the world according to their own beliefs? After all, right and wrong are just viewpoints depending on which side of the fence you are on. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter."

    It was just like Shinsou to break everything down into logical, cold truths, but that was the man he was. Nothing was without reason, he figured, as they continued on.The area they were in, about five kilometres from Whitevale, was a fairly rugged track next to farmland. Even with the enormous steed beneath him, the tall Telgradian felt every step beneath jolting him as the hooves churned up mud and clay. A story was coming, one he would share with another person for the first time since setting foot on Althanas. Even as painful as it was to recollect, the delivery of the past was as cool as if it had been about someone else entirely.

    "To answer your question about keeping me in the white, consider this; know that there was once a terrible power inside of me that brought ruin to my people. Consider that this power was inflicted upon me against my will, that I was forced to submit to it and use it against my own people," Shinsou met eyes with the electromancer, "to fall was such a quiet thing. It was but a simple matter for the people to collectively label me evil regardless of the circumstances of my subjugation. My life changed because I was categorised as something I knew I was not, because the people couldn’t look past “good” and “evil” to see the truth of what happened. In your words, I was saturated with evil and forced to undergo horrific punishment. They thought me dead. After that, I came here. I chose Althanas."

    He watched as Storm took a moment to fill his cherry-wood pipe with a bit of tobacco, lighting the pipe with a snap of his fingers. He screened out the rain using the back of his hand as he inhaled, indulging Osiris's story further. There was a point to all this, Shinsou knew, and Veritas's expression seemed to indicate he was willing to hear the rest out.

    "I live by a philosophy; that from the smallest actions, the manipulation of the most subtle critical points, the universe and its workings can be moved. This is why we must be careful in all that we do and of the choices we make," Shinsou gestured to emphasise his point "and what we chose was to set out today to kill a number of corrupt, controlling men. This is amoral by definition but necessary by circumstance. Good and evil; opposing sides of the spectrum brought together by a singular purpose. A beautiful thing."

    As they continued to ride, Whitevale appeared on the horizon. It used to be such a small and unassuming place; a rural town that blended into its surroundings. Now, though, the buzz of industry choked the charm from it. Even at this hour, pillars of smoke rose from Brotherhood kilns, their fires and men forging weapons and armour intended for revolution.

    "In the end, " Shinsou said, finishing his somewhat elaborate point, "we must always have contrast to be able to have understanding, and not just have adherence to a single idea of right and wrong. Categorization is the remit of history and it is history that will decide what kind of legacy we left long after we're gone, not individual people who themselves have no right to judge. That is what I believe."

    A few minutes later, the allies had gotten close enough to travel by foot. Smoothly dismounting their great black mounts, leaving them by a derelict barn that still had reserves of water and hay, Shinsou and Storm strolled to within a kilometre of the town gate.

    Eyeing the perimeter, Shinsou spotted a few familiar faces patrolling the border. It was good to see those faces on duty; it would seem highly unlikely to the guards that knew him that he’d be here for anything other than Brotherhood business. There would no doubt in Shinsou's mind that there would have to be a few sacrificial lambs to throw to the wolves later on, but for now there would be no need for a gung-ho assault on the gate.

    "The guards there are familiar with me," Shinsou observed to Storm as they crouched behind a fence out of view. "It wouldn't seem odd for me to be here. However, it'd be protocol for them to report my arrival and, of course, when the Brotherhood learn we are here and not murdering half of Radasanth's remaining senators-in-waiting for them it'll get ugly, fast. I think we'll have ten, maybe fifteen minutes before the message gets up the chain of command."

    Ever thinking behind his stoic visage, Shinsou began formulating a plan.

    “I suspect there won’t be much time for formalities at the gate because of the industry here. They'll be busy with the night's frieght...wait a minute, that's it! We can hide ourselves in one of the freighters. There's a good three hours before the day hits proper, under cover of night it'd be easy to slip in."

    Even as he spoke, Osiris suspected it would be better to first seek council from his partner before going with such a plan, given the interesting set of risks they presented. He turned back to Storm.

    "Unless you've got something better? I don't mean that facetiously, either. I'm all ears."

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  3. #3
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    Drenched and a bit tired, Storm listened carefully as Shinsou explained his philosophies, ponderings, and looming strategy. That the two had traveled miles in the blackness to sneak into a haywagon and hope for the best did not settle well with the wizard. It sounded… beneath them now, the type of hare-brained scheme Veritas would have undertaken as a novice to Althanas.

    Temper yourself. Not too far off the handle. I’ll still need him.

    “The Brotherhood is a sophisticated criminal syndicate. They will be experts in smuggling, it being an art form in and of itself. We march in there, trying to squeeze our asses inside of crates or under the carriage by the axes, we’ll be caught.

    “Now, the guards who catch us will probably be the same slap-dick idiots that we’ve both handled pretty easily in Althanas. Maybe a little heavier hitting, or a faster-firing weapon, but low-paid and low-class slugs nonetheless. The REAL problem would be spooking the powers-that-be. Once they sound the alarm, those weasels will burrow deep.”

    And I’ll have damned near given myself the flu for nothing.

    He scrambled to find the right words, cognizant of the cold air across his wet clothes (driving urgency into the matters) and the simple comeback Von Osiris should be thinking – a risky idea was better than none at all. Scanning the periphery of the large city on the horizon, Storm eyed for weaknesses. His keen vision couldn’t pick up enough details from their spot, even as he moved beneath a tree to clear his line of sight and flush the rain from his eyes.

    “You know Whitevale better than me, we’ve got a few options.” He kept his gaze fixed down the road at the city, which was largely guarded with a sub-military style wall. “I don’t know the Brotherhood’s headquarters as all, but we need to keep the leadership pinched. Does getting into the city help us if their HQ is a god-damned castle within the city? How many escape routes will they have?”

    The questions came in faster than he could communicate, and the magician was leery to bombard his Telgradian accomplice with too many questions.

    “Let me simplify… First, we get in there. That wall looks poorly defended, with no guard towers I can see. The wall is only ten, maybe fifteen feet high. Find me an ore-rich rock, and I can press us both up and over that without breaking a sweat.”

    Another smile crossed his face. Discretion always proved the better part of valor.

    “Or… we just march in the front door on these entitled sons of bitches. I’ve got the mysterious glass eye of doom here, and you have business to attend to. We just march up, demand a meeting, show our hand a little, and ask for ‘answers’.”

    It sounded crazy, but Storm had taken in more absurd actions before.

    These guys assume they’re safer than they are. Two men, even with gifts, can’t take down the structure. They’ll march us in with blades at our backs and presume we’re about to get our heads separated from our shoulders.

    “We let them presume they own control of the whole situation. We’re two disgruntled would-be employees with an axe to grind, unaware of how shit gets done within the Brotherhood. They march us up, walk us in, and leave us at the feet of the executioners.”

    The different possibilities bounced around his head as Storm considered the options the Brotherhood would have. They’d probably have bindings; would these people know not to use irons with him? They’d try to muscle the tandem; would they know what they were dealing with?

    Screw them. How would they get so f*cking savvy now?!

    As the rain beat down about the two of them, shielded lightly by a thin-branched tree, Veritas pulled another deep breath of smoke into his lungs and let the tobacco smoke warm him from the inside. The smooth buzz settled his fast-twitching brain, relaxing the paranoia and crazed hypotheticals which tormented his fevered planning.

    From the frame-up, to the absurd package delivery, to the relative ease of escape for Storm and Shinsou, the electromancer and Telgradian had been underestimated every step of the path. If they could forecast being underestimated one more time, Veritas and Von Osiris could bring the world down around them.

  4. #4
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    Shinsou was right to seek council from his partner, but as Storm rattled through a number of diverse and intricate schemes the Telgradian noted that the man had left a small detail out of his equations. Patiently, he waited for the electromancer to finish and then took his opportunity to speak as Veritas took in more of his tobacco refreshment.

    “All this is well and good…” Osiris said, fist clenched in palm to ease the chill on his knuckles, “…but remember something. These guys aren’t the low paid, low commitment pond-life we’ve already seen in the far flung reaches of Althanas. We’re not dealing with Soap, who couldn’t give a shit where his next payday comes from as long as it comes."

    One of the guards shouted to his companions, and for a moment the Telgradian thought they had been spotted. Nothing further came of it, so as the men returned to silence, Osiris continued.

    "The men we are dealing with now are the very pulse of the Brotherhood. They won’t take orders from anyone who isn’t a recognized official, end of story. If we get marched in there under duress and then next minute we’re issuing the orders, they’re going to cotton on quick. We’re dealing with a different animal altogether now; the slightest hint of insurrection will ruin everything.”

    Shinsou brushed down his wet coat and allowed silence to fall for a moment whilst Storm absorbed his caution. The Telgradian knew his words cut off two of their plans immediately – direct action in Whitevale would be completely counter-productive to what they hoped to achieve.

    “My blade, Stygian, is unique. It can install my influence into anyone who is cut by it for twelve hours. My plan was to get as far as the council chambers, gather the board in one place and kill everyone but the chairman. I’ll cut him with Stygian and force him to appoint us as councillors, which I’ll broadcast to everyone in the Brotherhood using Kaze Sasayakimasu. Then, ten hours later, the previous administration gets involved in a nasty accident and first responders find five corpses. Everyone is dead except us, and the beast…”

    Shinsou sliced his hand across his neck.

    “…is headless, legitimately making us leaders.”

    A smile crept across Osris’s rain soaked face.

    “There is no impenetrable castle here. All that shields them from their enemies are a wall of loyal guards and a relatively accessible underground HQ, assuming you know the tunnels. I can’t use Stygian on every guard, but one or two key men would be enough to levy us an escort to the complex entrance without rousing suspicions from anyone else. The tunnels are lightly guarded – only there could we kill and not be noticed. To start, what we’d need to do is to lure those three men at the gate out, away from prying eyes, and cut them with Stygian. It doesn’t matter how – once they are under their control they’ll remember nothing of it. ”

    Shinsou brushed away the wet strands of brown hair from his face. Storm looked back at him, following his words carefully, as the clouds above started to break apart to reveal the cold, star flecked night’s sky.

    “They’re wearing metal breastplates, if that helps to stir some creative thoughts?”

    This seemed the least absurd plan and the path of least resistance. If they could get past the gate, the fall of the Brotherhood would be only a matter of when, not if. No-one, apart from the unusual pairing of Osiris and Veritas, would be any the wiser as the carpet got pulled from right underneath their feet.

    It was a moment Shinsou was looking forward to very much.

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  5. #5
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    Storm Veritas's Avatar

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    Shinsou was nothing if not forward thinking, and introduced Storm to some of the complexities with a simple assault. The strategy of the whole thing was intoxicating, even if urgency made its presence felt with each passing second. Saturated, the two waited and spoke as the low light of morning began to wink at the horizon behind them. The luxury of darkness would not avail itself forever, and soon enough they’d find the morning bustle crowding them, pressuring them, and driving notice of the strangers.

    The Telgradian had sparked a real epiphany within Veritas, an idea which would certainly grant them access. What better chaperone to the council chambers than a guard, thirsty to receive reward for securing the wayward assassins that were likely prized by the Brotherhood.

    Gods, it’s hard being such a f*cking genius. Exhausting, really.

    With a smile, Storm motioned as he crouched and approached the front gate, remaining hidden in the dense brush beneath the rain, their steeds far behind them now. Creeping up with a smooth deliberation, he could see the first four guards by the gate, some thirty yards before them. Covered by a large slab of pitch-painted wood, the guards enjoyed a game of dice in the dry sanctuary of a small lean to as the wizard went to work.

    A tiny burst of electric energy was all it took to spark a crack in the timber of a thin maple tree to their side, the tree quickly toppled under the weight of the rain-soaked leaves. Four faces raced in their direction, looking for the source of an odd sound on an otherwise boring night.

    “Nope, screw it, not going out there again. Your turn, Skip; I checked last time. Take Leo, take a quick peek, and you get next roll. Don’t bitch, either; it was cold as balls when we went out last night.”

    Morons.

    Storm darted through the woods as the two thick soldiers marched closer, rustling leaves in an effort to get their attention in spite of fatigue and indifference. It worked; they lumbered forward quickly, hands instinctively drawn to the pommel of their swords.

    “Easy! Who’s there?! You okay!?” There was an air of confidence in the first guards voice, likely granted by a life of being a very large human. To his left, a far more surreptitious smaller man held a lantern before him, lighting everything before the tandem.

    Darting back further, Storm had successfully pulled the duo away from the sight of the gate when they pointed him out. He slowly raised his hands, showing empty palms as he spoke smoothly, with finesse and confidence.

    “Congratulations, gentlemen! You’ve found two of Whitevale’s Most Wanted. You’ll be celebrated for this, after you handcuff us, blindfold us, and march us in to the Council chambers. Hell, they’ll probably give you enough cash to put another floor on your houses!”

    Confusion was the order of the day, as the first man drew his sword as a point of caution. Effortlessly, Storm clapped his hands in front of his chest, the two breastplates upon the guards smashing together like magnets. Suspended in the air, the men looked in horror as their gauntlets clinked together, hands outstretched. In a blur, the electromancer raced around them, pulling a long stretch of rope across their mouths.

    “Shut your F*CKING mouths, or I’ll crush you in your suits, and kill your friends at the gate. Let’s do this easy; no one gets hurt.”

    A consideration of what Vaan Osiris had shared about his blade rolled through his head momentarily as he repostulated the final phrasing.

    “No one gets hurt, seriously, anyway.” A quick motion to his friend. “OK superstar, let’s see Stygian do some work.”

  6. #6
    The Outlaw Torn
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    Shinsou marvelled as Storm Veritas employed his electromagnetism with the type of aplomb only attributable to him. Watching the guardsmen clink and clank in a cacophony of pointless struggle was amusing but also a poignant reminder of just what the sleek electromancer was capable of. A man like Veritas carried his power far better than his weight; a meagre man, he wasn’t much to look at but underneath that harmless looking façade was an unfathomable and dangerous power that deserved and demanded respect. Shinsou was certainly learning that respect, but it appeared the Brotherhood, to their detriment and Osiris's astonishment, hadn’t.

    Fools. They make an enemy of Veritas, knowing his power, and don’t change their soldier’s equipment to compensate? Absolutely amateurish.

    Osiris waited for his moment and approached the bound and gagged men, Stygian to his side, as morning began to break above the horizon behind them. Time was running short.

    Nightfall

    After the command followed the application. The Telgradian quickly drew the blade of his mythril sword across the bare flesh behind each soldier’s right ear so that the cut wouldn’t be noticeable; the last thing they needed were two guards covered in blood wandering the grounds of Whitevale. After cleaning their wounds for a minute, and with a few muttered instructions, Shinsou and Storm’s personal chaperone to the council chambers were ready for business.

    ”Bind and bag us, boys. Take us to the entrance of the tunnel complex near the chapel.”

    The guards, now unbound, proceeded with their work. Iron shackles were applied to the wrists of the allies, and all sunk into black as hoods were forced onto them and suffocated their eyes from the dawn light.

    “March on. Stop for no-one.”

    The instruction was carried out without question and, with that, the first part of the plan was underway.

    Half a click behind them, a shadowy wraith moved in and out of the road, crouching as he approached the front gate. The thick foliage served as excellent cover for his vantage point. Creeping forward slightly, the master assassin Kazui could see the guards march with their quarry through the gate some distance ahead. He had tracked Shinsou and Storm from Radasanth; an easy task for an professional of his quality. Any militiaman worth his salt would know to only travel at night under cover of darkness, and with limited human traffic flowing to and from the city at the hour they had left it was a simple matter to identify his targets and track them to Whitevale.

    The Council would be pleased. Very pleased.

    The assassin glided through the woods, barely disturbing the leaves and twigs as he went. Without a sound he leapt forward quickly, hands drawn to one of the low lying branches of the trees before using his momentum to vault onto the last oak in the treeline before Whitevale. The assassin was confident about his access options; to his left, a scaleable perimeter wall invited him in. It seemed the most effective option, boasting a high vantage point that overlooked the entirety of the town square. His prey had successfully pulled the guards away from the rest of the men at the gate. The guards themselves? Every job afforded a little collateral damage. Their deaths would barely be noticed; celebrated only with an anonymous gold star in the Brotherhood memorial wall.

    Kazui moved with panther-like agility up the wall, his sharp grappling claws digging into the masonry. Once atop the structure, he waited. A few moments needed to pass to ensure the guards were out of sight of the main guardhouse and the watchtowers. Time seemed to be suspended as the prisoner march continued to beyond the first building, which he recognized as the barracks.

    Come on. Just a little more!

    Another thirty seconds passed before the opportune moment arrived; the men reaching the exact point where no-one would witness the grab. With an athletic pounce, Kazui cannoned into the air and raced towards the brainwashed guards. The first looked into the distance, expressionless from the mind control, as a throwing star buried itself into the back of his neck and severed the spinal cord in a fountain of blood. The second was equally as vacant as a serrated knife penetrated between two vertebrae and twisted, severing vital nerves and arteries.

    The electromancer and the Telgradian, hooded and shackled, hadn’t a clue what was happening until it was already too late.

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  7. #7
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    The attack on the guards came at a time of ultimate vulnerability for the adventurers, who thought they had set the trap perfectly for the Brotherhood. As he heard the crunch and tumble of felled bodies conjoined with the low groan of death, Storm’s mind raced with fear. Something had gone horribly awry; it seemed inevitable that the next blade would slide across his throat.

    ”Shit! Shin, abort f*cking mission!”

    Out of his line of sight, Shinsou was graceful and almost artistic, spinning and backpedalling as he snapped his head backwards, the sheer speed of his movement sending the blindfold tumbling downward. Handcuffed with metal shackles, the man in black remained poised in the face of disaster.

    Veritas dove forward as he used his magic to open his metal shackles, landing hard on the unforgiving gravel. He had used his magic somewhat frivolously, manipulating fields and illuminating the path with a plan to have time to recover. He scrambled to remove his blindfold, tearing it violently away with a singular pull. Pushing his lithe frame up from the scratching surface, his eyes caught the assassin moving smoothly, calmly.

    Not like this. Not like this after all this.

    The attacking stranger held a long, thin sword which glistened in the moonlight with several drops of thin red liquid which appeared black in the soft yellow light of night. He extended the blade directly towards the electromancer, speaking slowly and with deliberation.

    “If I wanted you dead, I would have done it long ago. Don’t waste your time with the metal magics, Veritas. The sword is dark matter; I saw how well it worked for your friend there against you months ago. “

    He made a small hop forward, thrusting the blade to the bulge of Storm’s throat. The wave of magic the wizard had tried to generate was for naught; he called the bluff of the swordsman and lost. Whatever the hell “dark matter” was, his magic had no effect on it. His heart raced as he felt his skin bend before the tip of the hard edged sword.

    Well, shit.

    “Tie your hands with these; double knots and behind your feet. Don’t get cute. They’re cured rubber; stronger than rope and burn twice as badly.” The stranger marched smoothly over to Shinsou, who was smart to stand firm and not resist. A second pair of rubber bindings were placed about his wrists, and the stranger released and discarded the shackles deep into the woods with a violent toss.

    “I don’t know what you idiots were thinking. No one ignores the glass eye. It may look optional, but it most certainly is not. Take orders. Do your thing. Get rich. What’s so difficult for you gifted types?” A cocksure laugh echoed out from the assassin who was now behind Storm, securing the ties and moving with an incredible confidence.

    “Keep the blindfolds off; I don’t need you bumping into shit. Stay shoulder to shoulder, and don’t try anything. One of you moves, the other goes down fast. I still get half if I deliver you both dead, and I am at day's end a businessman.”

    And so they marched, Storm Veritas and Shinsou Vaan Osiris shoulder to shoulder. Their wrists bound behind them in taut rubber strands, the dark road before them opened and lit only by the soft glow of a moon which had just recently burst through the clouds. Defeated, they were ushered in by the assassin, whose face Storm had etched into memory. Short and square, with a thick jaw and large, scrambling eyes. Sunken cheekbones were marked on the right side by a series of small, inconsequential scars.

    You ugly mother*cker. You should have killed me when you had the chance. I WILL find you, I f*cking promise you that.

    His fury was masked by a face which showed only defeat and frustration, as he was led into a large, single story with a grey stone façade. Heavily armed pikemen yielded before the group, which was immediately led down a set of stairs and into a small alcove. A small dead end, the empty room was pocked with stone and a single iron gaslight. They were backed in, the tip of the strange black blade ensuring their compliance.

    A tall man with short white hair came from the opposite hallway, clapping the capturer on the shoulders with a smile. His hands moved in a large circle, a swift of black enveloping the two in a large, painless blast.

    “Well done, Kazui. They aren’t going anywhere. Cut their binds and come for a drink; I’ll inform the council of your handiwork.”

    Listening once more to directions, Storm and Shin backed to the freshly formed cell of hard black matter about them. To no surprise of the magician, the material was incredibly strong but decidedly not metal. The rubber bindings were cut quickly, and Storm collapsed with fatigue as he rubbed at his wrists. His eyes found Shinsou, whom was obviously frustrated with the failure of his plan.

    “Well, your idea looked pretty damned good on paper; no sense pissing and complaining now. Sons of bitches took my knives, too.” Another smile crawled across his face, as he pulled his hair back taut against his head once more.

    “I’d say we have them right where we want them, wouldn’t you?”

  8. #8
    The Outlaw Torn
    EXP: 48,634, Level: 9
    Level completed: 47%, EXP required for next level: 5,366
    Level completed: 47%,
    EXP required for next level: 5,366

    AP
    12
    GP
    0
    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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    There was a horrific irony in the way things had turned out.

    Shinsou Vaan Osiris, chief enforcer for the Brotherhood, who a week ago was imposing the council’s will upon whomever they deemed it necessary, now found himself confined to one of their enchanted cages and wondered for a moment if he was the star of his own parody. His brilliant plan to pretend to be captured had gone terribly wrong and had lead to their actual imprisonment. This dark, throbbing prison in some dank corner of Whitevale was shared with Veritas, a man who in that same week had gone from being almost jointly culpable for his death to the Telgradian’s only ally against the organization they challenged.

    You just couldn’t make it up...

    There was a tinge of dark humor in the role reversals, but also an unspeakable annoyance that both he and Storm were completely unable to prevent their incarceration. Despite these turn of events, the Telgradian wasn’t worried though. The only thing that they had going for them now was that the council’s insatiable thirst for retribution would inevitably lead them here. That, and the fact that whoever had constructed their cage was a total moron who hadn’t done their homework on Osiris’s abilities, focusing too much on stifling Veritas’s powers. As such, the electromancer’s throwaway comment was absolutely accurate.

    “We have them bang to rights.” Shinsou replied as he paced the humming circumference of the cell’s magical barrier. “But the question is, why? That idiot was obviously so worried about your magnetic abilities he completely overlooked the fact I can manipulate dark matter and, therefore, this contraption. This cage is no obstacle at all. In fact, compared to Telgradian magic, this lackluster containment field comes over as quite offensive.”

    As he mulled over how the council could be so careless without it being intentional, it certainly felt to Shinsou like the Brotherhood was playing them. Hiring an assassin skilled enough to capture them only then to be so amateurish with the method of imprisonment seemed too strange to the Telgradian to not be completely contrived.

    “That said, without wanting to state the obvious, I think they are up to something. I am not gullible enough to believe that they would simply ignore or overlook my powers. I was their strong-arm from the start – they know me better than that.”

    That thought guided him back to the bars trapping them in this enchanted chicken coop, and it was then the Telgradian noticed something about the dark forces that blocked them. Each smooth shaft swirled with marbled lilac hues but every now and then a fork of white hot electric snapped out from the gloomy cylinders. Whilst Storm gazed quizzically at the Telgradian’s snooping, Shinsou noticed a subtle change in the consistency in the dark matter. He recognized that something was embedded within the magic; some sort of dormant electrical field, perhaps, but whatever it was could not have been anything other than by design and clearly wasn’t intended to be friendly. Other than that, the Telgradian didn’t know what the field would do if struck or manipulated.

    “One way to find out I guess…”

    The simple act of placing an index finger against the bar was enough to invoke a massive, violent reaction from the dark magic, one that threw Osiris back with such force that the spellblade crashed onto the floor and rolled helplessly to Storm’s feet. The Telgradian winced at the searing pain in his right arm, rubbing it furiously to douse the ache, but the mind-wrecking throbbing continued unabated.

    “Fuck, fuck, FUCK!

    A minute or so passed. The quiet was flecked only with the occasional curse word as the fierce pain ravaged Shinsou’s right side. Storm had little to say; occasionally looking up with a concerned expression at his counterpart, but keeping relative silence. Veritas, being an experienced electromancer, knew the pain would be much like a toothache; present, pulsing through his nerves, and strong for a time but nonetheless finite. There was no need for small talk or false concern for an injury he knew the Telgradian could handle. Besides, his focus was on the empty corridor ahead of them. That was where the Brotherhood would come for them, and, as if the thought had provoked the wheels of time to turn, a metal door slammed open at the furthest reaches of the tunnel to indicate a presence.

    “Get ready,” Shinsou warned as he stood up, clutching his elbow. “It may be dangerous to flesh, but I don’t think this cage will stand up to a full power Enpera Kurohitsugi. At the opportune moment, we’ll hit them.”

    It was time to prepare. As he gritted his teeth through the pain of the effort, the Telgradian channelled his energy and could soon feel the power of his magic reverberating through his body. The beginnings of a portal through which he could summon his dark lances started to come together as the air immediately behind him changed into a disc of a swirling marbled purple. It was designed to be small enough to be concealed behind Storm and Shinsou’s forms, but the contorting, twisting rift would only need two seconds to expand into a significant tear which would unleash hell on command.

    Currently, Osiris couldn’t see farther then the shadowy maw of the corridor’s entrance. The rest of the scenery was smothered in night’s blanket beyond his eyes. But he knew that they were there. The Council’s steps ricocheted off the concrete, a melancholic clicking of three pairs of shoes echoing down the hall as the pair waited for their captors. It was clear the news of Shinsou and Storm’s capture had reached them already, the tale of their apparent but wholly unsurprising insurrection burning in their ears, and now they would try and inflict the retribution on their prisoners they had planned for all this time.

    Three of them. I suppose even the Brotherhood wouldn’t be stupid enough to send all five of the council to us. We’ll kill who we can, and get the hell out of here.

    At the heart of the darkness ahead, the silhouettes of three faces could be seen. Shinsou stared at the supposed figures of the Brotherhood breathlessly before shifting uncomfortably in the cell. The three men paced forward into the room and spread to the true ends of Shinsou’s field of vision, each one dressed in fine, silken clothes and each brandishing a single leather gauntlet with a gemstone embedded within.

    Hex magic crystals… The Telgradian noted, …and not a shred of metal between them. Less amateurish, more dangerous.

    The middle face, in his guise as the leader of the group, leaned forward slightly to reveal a scarred, stubble drawn face, framed by a slicked back crop of platinum hair. His features were creased and worn, but his blue eyes were sharp and focused and the man held an annoyed expression as he gazed back into the cage at Shinsou and Storm.

    “We, and you…” The Councillor growled, “…are going to have a problem.”

    Althanas Operations Administrator


  9. #9
    Moderator
    EXP: 116,175, Level: 14
    Level completed: 82%, EXP required for next level: 2,825
    Level completed: 82%,
    EXP required for next level: 2,825

    AP
    57
    GP
    10,080
    Storm Veritas's Avatar

    Name
    Storm Veritas
    Age
    38
    Race
    Human
    Gender
    Male
    Hair Color
    More pepper than salt.
    Eye Color
    Grey or Blue
    Build
    6'1, 185 lbs
    Job
    Defiler.

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    The concept of power awaiting the end of the journey had become a sprouted seed in Storm Veritas, so to be captured along with Shinsou so quickly was deflating. The entirety of the situation was frustrating; some magical cage encapsulating the two of them, no real discernible weakness making itself apparent.

    The question that continued to ring in his ear concerned not the brotherhood, but the tracker assassin who had been so patient, so skilled, so opportunistic.

    So lucky, as the electromancer had convinced himself.

    How could we be so goddamned stupid?! That sonofabitch comes up behind us the whole time and we didn’t see him? Didn’t hear him? How did he know we’d put ourselves in such a vulnerable position? Gods, it’s like he read my f*cking mind.

    He stood silently as he thought, rubbing his chin as his eyes glared off beyond the bars into the distant hallway. The prospect of telepathy seemed plausible, given all of the other idiosyncratic powers which seemed to crop up about Althanas. With a sneer, Storm hoped the assassin had stolen the thought of how genuine Storm’s plan to kill him had been.

    Aside him in the cage, Shinsou had tried and failed to break their encampment; he then mentioned something about an “Emperor” to which Veritas had given little consideration. It was one of his fifty thousand spells, or so it seemed. The shorter man was nothing if not clever; his lethality also did not escape the experienced wizard.

    What type of bullshit is he up to now? We’re sitting ducks here, probably under surveillance.

    Soon, a trio of wealthy looking types entered the room, smiling with a confidence born from knowledge beyond what their two caged beasts could hope for. As Shinsou had gathered magic behind him, Storm moved closer, a counterintuitive move that allowed him to physically block any line of sight to the great power of the Telgradian’s magic. A taunt came from the leader, who looked down a slender, aquiline nose and spoke with a sharp, nasally voice.

    ”We, and you.. are going to have a problem.”

    Storm felt his blood race at this, his heartbeat quickening. He was incredibly powerful, furious, and felt a great fear as battle stood moments away. They had the benefit of surprise, however the Council seemed far too powerful. Power pumped down his veins to his fingertips as he barked back in anger.

    “YOU DON’T KNOW THE F*CKING HALF OF IT!”

    On cue, Shinsou unleashed a fury upon the cage, mighty black funnels opening and blasting the cage in a great wave of projectiles at an impossible velocity. Storm was braced for the explosion, a crashless booming sound which shook the entire group, sending pieces of the cage exploding outward like icicles knocked effortlessly away from the roof on a warm winter’s day. There was no fire, but the great black light was blinding to nearly all of them.

    Naturally, it was not so blinding to the wizard so famous for making his bones with lightning. Squinting, he stepped forward over the edge of the fractured cage, setting his sights on a council member to his left, knocked down and disoriented from the explosion.

    Lucky shit… it will be too quick for you.

    Storm’s lips curled back in a sneer as he extended his right hand before him, his now white eyes piercing from behind nearly-sealed eyelids. From his palm, a twisting explosion of crackling white fury, spiraling upon the felled elder with an unquestionable speed and violence. He held the blast for just moments, however the sweet smell of ozone was fast replaced with the horrific, piercing bite of charred flesh.

    Turning quickly to the remaining jailors, Storm was on high alert. The spectacular effect of Shinsou’s attack had worn off, and two very powerful men were rising towards the wizards.

  10. #10
    The Outlaw Torn
    EXP: 48,634, Level: 9
    Level completed: 47%, EXP required for next level: 5,366
    Level completed: 47%,
    EXP required for next level: 5,366

    AP
    12
    GP
    0
    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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    The two councillors advanced in formation over the flat stones of the holding room, interspersed with the still smouldering corpse of their colleague. Despite the man’s gruesome demise at Storm’s hands, they didn’t seem at all dissuaded from their task. Even as the smell of burnt flesh hung densely in the air, with no ventilation in the low grey ceiling to help the pungent odour out of the building, they split and began to man-mark Shinsou and Storm like beaters flushing out game.

    Nothing’s ever easy, is it? Come on you sons-of-bitches, let’s see what you’ve got… Shinsou thought, circling over the charred body.

    The leader of the group, the one with the scars and the stubble with the platinum hair, wasted no time at all. The fineries and the aged frame the man possessed was a superb disguise for his sheer power. Two quick steps and a sudden drum of a punch into the unprepared Shinsou’s gut knocked the wind and spittle out of the Telgradian, sending him crashing to the floor in a pained heap and muddling his senses. The sheer force of the blow rattled him, and in the first few seconds Shinsou lost all positional sense. He didn’t know where Storm was. He didn’t even know where his enemies were as chaos erupted around him.

    The councillor snarled, a few feet away from his downed adversary, and brought his leather gauntlet to bear. A crystal inside the glove shone a marine blue hue before unleashing three long, protruding quartz needles. Each looked as sharp and long as an assassin’s blade.

    Shit! Get out of-

    There was no cover and no time to organize; the makeshift claw of magic was thrust straight at the prostrate Telgradian’s face. A kick of adrenaline rushed back through Osiris’s body, coursing all over his skin as he inhaled heavily and wrenched his body to the left to avoid the gemstone talons skewering his face. Suddenly, as he kicked off from his heel and rolled to the back of the room whilst the scraping of claws against stone echoed through the room, Shinsou felt something take over him. He had not felt this way since he had felt his hands turn white, his knuckles protrude up like horrid sores as he attempted to hold on to his towering sword, back in his childhood as he tried to fend off the Jal Shey.

    It was the killing urge that surged through Shinsou’s system now. Such wild, volatile emotions had never been taught or entertained by the people who had educated the Telgradian, as they were frowned upon as sinful and archaic. Yet as the claw marks etched into the floor where he had been a moment ago fixed in Shinsou’s mind, along with memories of the Brotherhoods threats on his and Storm’s life and freedom, he understood the meaning of this ugly sensation. At this moment, he wanted to get bloody. It was a real, undeniable abhorrence towards another and its sting kept his heart pounding.

    Just to his left, the other councillor swung back and forth wildly at Storm, as if blindfolded, unable to hit the agile electromancer. A flash of Veritas's lightning attack registered in the corner of Shinsou’s vision, one that pulsed out into the night from every which way, but Osiris was too focused on his own opponent to see what had happened. The leader turned to face him once more, scouring the wall with another feral swipe as the livid Telgradian ducked the telegraphed attack and lashed out with a powerful sweep, knocking the aged assailant to the ground. An ash-like eruption of dark matter filled the vicinity as Osiris mounted his captor and tore at the air behind him, clutching the councillor’s pallid neck as he did.

    “Time to die, you son-of-a-bitch!” Shinsou panted, seething through gritted teeth at the man trapped under his weight, “And don’t worry, because you won’t be alone; I’ll be sending your fucking committee along as your escort to hell presently!”

    The anxious eyes of the Telgradian narrowed into a creased grin, his flustered red face coated in a thin film of sweat even in the damning cold of the room. He was enjoying this. Sitting up, he reached out and dragged a dark lance out of the void-like tear he had created, glaring at the cringing face staring back at him. Shaking with an uncontrollable rage, he tightened his grip around the shaft and motioned the point to his enemy’s throat, ready to satisfy his lust for death.

    “Ugh!”

    Suddenly, the other councillor cannoned into the mounted Shinsou, a result of another powerful, if not clumsy blast against him by a floored Storm Veritas from the opposite end of the room. The second adversary had been reduced to a smoking, shambling corpse by the electromancer but now the dead weight pinned Osiris down and allowed the platinum haired oppressor time to recover. Barking his cloudy breath with sheer effort, Shinsou’s now gritted teeth occasionally emitted a spray of saliva as he struggled to free himself from underneath the dead man in time and grab his discarded dark matter lance. His bright eyes flared and his whole body shook with effort as Shinsou finally wriggled free, meeting the sole remaining councillor halfway to his feet with the black Telgradian magic in hand.

    Like a pouncing guard-dog the Telgradian barrelled into the remaining leader, knocking him to the ground in a flurry of blood and sweat. Writhing around on the ground, the two struggled constantly as the councillor pulled his clawed gauntlet free from their tangle of limbs and forced it down towards Shinsou’s gut. He tried stabbing and slashing like a man felling a fatted beast at the neck, endlessly willing the needles to punch into the Telgradian’s belly. It felt as if he struck seemingly not even just to end the ordeal, but simply to satisfy his cruel lust for the death of the Brotherhood’s traitor. Grasping the councillor’s clawed hand, Shinsou desperately threw back his assailant’s arm and rolled him onto his front, locking the arm back as he did so.

    Got you. Say goodnight!

    As he forced the man down, thrashing with every bit of strength as he was held, Osiris couldn’t help but feel vindicated. The resistance became less and less until the man simply had to submit, groaning through pursed lips in frustration at his weakness in having underestimated his captive.

    “You’re done here, you little shitstain. You and the whole council are DONE!” Shinsou screamed as he fashioned another dark lance with a crackle from beneath his free palm.

    Again and again that lance smashed into the back of the leader’s skull, shattering the aged man’s cranium to a pulp in the corner of the stone room. Through the cries and the struggling, the choking and the coughing of blood, Shinsou dashed his crackling lance harder still upon his man. Soaked in blood and caught in a fever of rage, each blow became more protracted until Osiris finally lifted the limp body and drove it down face first onto the cell floor. The Telgradian fell, lacking the strength even to kneel, next to the two silent carcasses. Something dark had taken over him in those minutes of fury. The memories of subjugation from his past that had haunted him for so long blended sickeningly with the realization that the Brotherhood had all this time been imposing their will on everyone, on Storm and on him. He had never been their enforcer; they had been his master.

    No-one under their control had been free, until now. Until this moment.

    “Fuck you. Fuck all of you.” He whispered, gazing up at the ceiling through eyes flecked with spatters of blood. “Never again will I be anyone’s slave.”

    Althanas Operations Administrator


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