A Strange Dream

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Delaldur

Newbie
Ravineous' Journal Entry 3294.)

Bored. Bored! BORED! There is absolutely nothing to do around here any more. There’s been no meddlesome adventurers around recently, but at least that would be a change from the tedious humdrum of the last few months. I’ve even littered awesome little doodads all over my tower and no nibbles on the hook. No new fortunates to be test subjects for me. I’ve even killed off a few dozen of those stupid birds, but that barely even caught my attention.

I’m thinking I might have to go out and stir something up myself. I know what you’re thinking, future me: “What? Actually going to expend energy going out into the world?” Well, let me tell you, that is how desperate I have become. But it is seriously obnoxious, trying to avoid being a cliched, moustache-twirling crazypants. I could go kidnap someone important, bring him or her back to my tower. But that’s been done countless times over. I need something with a little more panache.

So, going to let that stew in the old thinker. So, new subject time. Recently, I’ve felt, perhaps even sensed, something nearby. Something that resonates in my memory from times long forgotten. Like a whisper of a dream that I had while deep into my cups or something. I can’t put my finger on it. But it is nearby and powerful. And it should be mine.
 

Naga

Newbie
:::Wisps of steam and smoke carry with them a jumble of confused, uncertain feeling and thought:::

Focus...

Sun strengthen my resolve....

Focus...

More eyes....always the eyes upon them. Upon us. Staring. Watching. Waiting...... but I can see a pair growing...They are not in my memories...but I feel I should know them.

Focus...

Too much darkness....far too much darkness....I cannot see...focus...

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(Councilor?)
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Where...where is it coming from...these new eyes upon them...I cannot see where they are beginning....danger in the darkness...I must delve deeper. Too much at risk....so much at risk now...so much given...so much......

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(She’s not waking! Fetch Arbiter Harris. Mercy, she’s radiating even more heat...)
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Such darkness in them... these eyes...but a spark of something I should know. That spark is familiar....I should know it.....I should know....The eyes.. deadly.... proud..... arrogant.....

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(Bring the buckets around here. We must cool her off. Quickly!)
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Calling...they’re calling..cannot see them. We cannot see them....Where are you?

The darkness is so strong... Too much light and I will miss the shadow.....but the light is so small...so....small....but it is there. Thanks to those who fought for it, it is there.

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(There’s nothing we can do to wake her, only stem the tide. I want someone watching her at all times. Keep the cold water coming...Curse it all. Hiranya, you had better come back to us...)
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So much darkness....so small a light....I must focus.....I will find you deadly spark...I will know what you are....I will find you.....


::The steam and smoke of thought fades away::
 

Delaldur

Newbie
Ravineous’ Journal Entry 563.)

Ok, so things are getting a bit more interesting around here now. I found that source of power that I felt. I think it was being guarded or something. Barely noticed it if it was, but that means someone is probably going to want it back. I may have gone a little overboard with what I did to that little fort, but at least that means they’ll have to search the rubble, which takes time.
But what is even more perplexing is that, so far, it has remained unresponsive to all of my attempts to interact with it. I’m clearly not doing anything wrong, so what could it be? Clearly, there is an additional variable that I am not accounting for. Oddly, I think it might be location. Location, location, location. I think I remember, well, I don’t remember, but I remember, there is some connection to a place long lost to history.
Hmm, the tower tells me there is a powerful force is approaching. Faster response than what I had assumed. Good on them. Well, that’s as good as excuse as any to take my vacation a little early this year and continue this elsewhere. Grab my bag and away I go!
 

Delaldur

Newbie
Ravineous’ Journal Entry 5654345234345.)

This sucks. Funny how I was patting myself on my back about being so clever that no one would be able to follow me, but now that is what I desire the most. But look at me, getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back a bit.
I was so giddy when I arrived, so many new toys to play with. Artifacts once thought lost to time, rituals no mortal has ever laid eyes upon, and mountains of other treasures. I started at once, working with the scales. Something must have worked. How did I figure that out? I tried to return to my tower, and when I circle-walked I was still right next to the scales. No dice with rifting, either.
No big deal, I think. I walked in, I can walk back out. So, that noise we’ve been hearing? Like scratching from outside? I know what that is now. I went to check it out, because it was driving me NUTS. Well, guess what? It is a FREAKING ARMY of STUPID monsters just outside, doing their best to get inside. Awesome. I blasted a couple, just to see more step out of the nearest shadow. And the best part is, once they noticed me they started screaming. Which is totally helping my concentration.
So, here I am. Stuck in a place that’s lost to time, surrounded by an army of screaming monsters, with an artifact preventing me from taking off. Can’t send out a Whispering Wind. I see the magic just get absorbed into the scales. No magic, eh? Good thing that’s not the only trick in my bag. Never tried making contact from this distance before, but what else am I going to do? Oh, I know! Sit here and wait to get killed! No, that plan is dumb. Nothing else to do but give it a shot and then try to turn this BLASTED contraption off.
 

Ziggy

Newbie
The dolls would never hurt us would they Zigwit? Shut up Harriet, you whiny old dessicated hag. We're trapped here. Each time we duck out the back door, everything goes black and we end up at the front door. It's like our house but dark and in a land I've never seen. Outside the windows the dolls are gathering. Darkness leaks from their eyes. Outside is wrong, this is not home. The dolls are wrong too. I've never made a chimera doll. Who would? But it looks like our handywork, Harriet. No human dolls or little bears or tiny humans. Only mean dirty barbarians and scary colorful ones that curse Zigwit. Gypsies, horrible gypsies. Everything is dead out there Harriet. The world is finally over. Oh Zigwit, I'm so scared. Maybe the gypsies will be our friends again. Maybe they will help. NO! They cursed us, they are terrible. There are so many here. I hate them, I hate them, I ... Hey, there is no sound. I wasn't done hearing myself rant! They're here to save me!!! ::a bright light appears, the evil dolls turn to see the light and melt away when they do. The background of Zigwits dream fades away and he sees a new scene.:: Zigwit I can't see, what is going on. Zip it Harriet, I will describe it. A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with complicated numbering, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light.
 

RavenSis

Newbie
I have been working on my latest invention for hours. My hands are hot and sore, small flecks of metal scratching at my skin as I tinker and perfect the timing of the gears. My hands are uncomfortable, but the discomfort feels like accomplishment. At long last, I am certain I have just one more adjustment to make. I put my hand in to slide the last cog into place, and I hear my creation start whirring and grinding. It has come to life! For a moment before the panic sets in, I feel pride in how smoothly this combat trainer moves.

It takes its first swing at me, and I am pulling my hand outwards as hard as I can, but I am stuck firmly. I dodge and weave as best I can, and it grabs things off my workbench to swing at me. It takes another swing and knocks my lantern to the ground, and the whole room is cast into shadow. For a moment, I am perplexed; the other lanterns in the room don't seem to be lit anymore... everything is pitch black. I look up, to see if my creation is lit, and there is a brilliant flash of light above my head. The whole room is fully lit, a brilliant white, and my creation goes perfectly still before an ear-piercing wail of metal grinding on metal erupts.

My creation's gears grind together, and it crumbles to pieces in front of me. All the creations in my shop, even those still in pieces, animate, and shake themselves to pieces. The friction of metal on metal is a cacophony of chaotic sound, and I clamp my hands firmly over my ears, looking around to see how I can escape. I look to the door, and it opens; it must be an assistant come to help! She steps inside, pulling a box out from under her jacket. She slams her hand on the candy-red button, and immediately, the workshop's noise ceases. The creations around me melt into a puddle, and I am, at long last, saved!

We laugh together, and she and I step outside of my workshop. I have lost a great deal, but I will make better creations. Taking a step outside, I see my workshop is... not at home as it should be. It is in a land I haven't seen before, an untamed land, and I am confused. I turn to my assistant, to ask her where we are, and she is no longer herself. Her hair is longer, her sideburns gone, and her clothing is colorful. She speaks to me with an accent, "You are no longer safe, Harriet," and she raises a single finger, pointing ahead of us. There stands an iron cage, with a heavy lock, and I walk forward to investigate it.

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies... immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light.

--Harriet, Haberdash Ambassador
 

Naga

Newbie
::::Black tendrils whisk in, drips of sludge leaking off of them::::
You are waist deep in disgusting water, dragging your feet through thick, sticking mud at the bottom. The sun barely penetrates to where you are. Dim and dark, even when it should be bright day. There is sludge and moss, bugs all over the place, a horrible rotting smell. You are treading through a swamp. Trying to get through. You look down to your hand. You are carrying a sword. The very sword you put down years ago. It is in your hand. And covered in blood. Who’s blood, you can’t remember. Your shield is battered, your arm tired. You remember that feeling of bruised and aching. The feel of fighting, of battle. You continue to trudge through the swamp, even as the bile in your throat rises. You had left this life behind you, it was in the past. And now you have no idea who’s blood oozes slowly down your hilt.

A piece of bloody cloth floats by you. It is a ripped and shredded symbol of the Barony of Seacrest. As you move further into the swamp you start to feel odd tugs at your feet and legs. There is movement in the water. Subtle, odd movement. You peer into the murk. The moving objects are pale, oddly long and soft.... Hands and arms suddenly reach out and begin to grab onto you from the water. You instinctively begin to hack at them with your sword, trying to move away. They keep coming after you. They’re pulling you under. You stumble. The mud has given way to deep water. The arms are pulling you down, down under water. Your air is running out.

A light pierces the darkening water. You can almost hear a hiss of disappointment as the grasping hands let go their hold. You feel a strong hand grab your own and pull you back towards the surface. As you come closer to the surface you realize there is a person up there, leaning over the water, pulling you toward safety. They are backlit by stong light, you can’t tell who they are. But their necklace...they’re wearing a knotted necklace. You hear a soft voice whisper in your mind, “I am here Callan. I am always right here, my love.”

Your head breaks through the surface of the water and you are suddenly standing. On firm ground. The sun beats down on you. You try to see where you are, but the land keeps morphing around you. It’s lush trees one moment, then suddenly fades into rough wasteland. Creatures that can only come from legend twist and fade in shape around you. You feel watched. On the horizon you can see the glitter of weapons. There are people in furs and leathers glaring at you with strong, proud eyes. You are drawn to a pedestal, the only thing not changing and fading in and out of your surroundings. There is an object on top of it. A bird of prey, fiercely staring at you, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, you find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game you’d played before but forgotten. You manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. You watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until you are blinded by the brightness of the light.
::::The dark tendrils abruptly vanish::::

~~Callan Ryder
 

RavenSis

Newbie
All I can hear are the shrieks, the screams. I don't know how they've found me, but the woods are full of them. I can see the light of their eyes, bouncing off the bark of the trees. They know I'm here, and they are searching, searching. It's all I can do to stay quiet, to slow my breathing so they don't hear me. Suddenly, I hear a growl behind me, and I turn. These aren't just husks, these are children!

I run as quickly as I can, but I can hear the snarls behind me, getting closer. My foot catches on a root, and I fall forward. I'm sure this child is going to tear me apart, but no hands reach me. All the lights are gone, no glowing eyes, no moon through the trees. Then there is a burst of light, sound, and heat, and both myself and the child Husks are knocked back. The light is blinding, my skin feels like it's blistering with the heat.

The Husk children scream, angrier than ever. I turn to look as the light levels lower, to see how many there are behind me. Now, it is my turn to scream; there are hundreds of them, all children, all empty of life and full of rage. They tense their muscles and run at me. I am doing my best to run, to get away, turning only to fight those who have caught up to me. I can hear voices, regular voices, up ahead. As I reach a clearing, I look up, and see a row of white-hooded figures. I turn, standing next to them in line, and we fight line after line of Husk children. It is a tough battle, but we succeed.

We are all breathing heavily, but we have all survived. I am overcome with sadness, knowing all those children were turned to Husks, wondering who their parents were, how I can tell them of what has happened. A long way off, I hear wailing. We spring back to action, expecting more Husks, but it's not. They're adults, they're alive, and they're Besche. These must be the parents; their grief is written plainly on their face.

One approaches me, a woman. Her face is lined with tears, but she maintains her composure. She takes me by the hand, and starts walking, pulling me with her. We walk, not talking to each other, hearing the ongoing sobs of the others behind us. We approach a clearing, and I hear a clanging. Again and again, clang clang CLANG. What is that noise, all the way out here in the woods? CLANG CLANG CLANG.

There is a cage in the clearing... a huge, black cage.

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light

- David Harris
 

Naga

Newbie
::::A plume of earthy dust carries in a series of images::::
Not far from you is the steady and slow sound of dripping water. It is the only sound you can hear. You hold up the small, flickering candle in your hand. It shows the inner side of a blocked tunnel, shale and gravel still pluming with the dust of the cave in. Behind you is nothing but another dead end. You are trapped. Sweat begins to gather on your forehead. You know what it is: fear. You swallow hard, fighting the panic. You know what panic will do. It will use up what little stale and musty air was trapped along with you, and you will suffocate yourself.

The walls start to feel uncomfortably close. There is a shifting of sand at the sides of the tunnel. Is it getting smaller in here? You swear the walls were farther away from you than they are now. You look around for anything to help get you out of there. There are no tools. There are no explosives. There is nothing. The candle is starting to sputter. In between its flickerings the flame shows the walls far closer than you know they were before. They are closing in. The flame grows smaller, and smaller. As the darkness comes closer so too do the walls of the tunnel. The flame is now a tiny flick. Desperately you stare at the last ember, sheer terror taking you over as you suddenly realize: you can no longer move. The darkness begins to whisper and groan. You feel horrible moving things around you where you know there should be no moving.

The darkness is overwhelming. It’s so overpowering that you don’t hear it at first. The light snick of a shovel. The sound of voices. The darkness tries to drown it out, but it cannot. The sound of the shovels grow stronger, the whisper of the darkness grows fainter, and fainter. You can distinctly hear the shovels now. A voice calls out, “Bernard! Hold on Bernard! We’re comin for you mate! Jis you hang in there.” You cannot speak. Cannot call for help. Cannot answer them. You struggle at the darkness around you. They are coming to save you, you’re going to get out of here!

The darkness crumbles away suddenly, starting an avalanche around you. All the darkness and the dirt trapping you turns to dust and is swept away by a strong wind. Before you is a large cage. Around it is wasteland as far as you can see. The earth here feels odd to you. Far different than any kind of dirt and rock you have ever experienced before. In the distance you can see decorated wagons moving in line with one another. Coming toward you.

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at you, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, you find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game you’d played before but forgotten. You manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. You watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until you are blinded by the brightness of the light.
::::The dust surrounding the images abruptly falls and disappears::::

~~Bernard
 

Morganne

Fighter
~~Martine Mancini, Dame’s Dog and Premiere Fashion Consultant~~

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Ahh, yet another boring evening surrounding by admiring debutantes and finding none so beautiful or well-coiffed as myself. Truly, my brothers-at-arms do not understand how I suffer. But still, I will dance to the preferred music of the King, I will eat food prepared by the finest chefs in all of Kosmara, I will bear the burden without complaint, and I will represent my family and my Dame.

But yet.... is it possible? Another, as handsome and interesting as I? It cannot be so! I shall show this impostor for what he is.

Where has he gone? Do not think to trick me, with your many mirrors! I am Martine Mancini, and can be bested by none, be it man or woman! Who, though.... who is that ruffian I see now? Who would dare come to a King’s promenade so poorly groomed? Why would anyone continue to live should their hair, their dress, their walk, their ::shudder:: teeth be so poorly constructed? And why does he follow me, staring at me with wild eyes, in every direction I turn?

How can this have happened? Where are my clothes, my powder, my manservant? What has happened to Martine? I must escape, I must.....

No, Your Majesty, you do not understand! This is a trick, I would never disrespect your Royal House by appearing so repugnant and ill appareled in your presence! There must be a mistake! I must tell you a joke so we shall all laugh together! I must...... Leave?!? But... but..... Yes, you are right! I must find my clothing, my manservant, my powders... I must fix this! Do not fear, Your Royal Majesty, I shall return in all the splendor you have come to love!

The gardens. At least there are not so many people here. Perhaps I can find a small pool, a fountain. It will not meet my standards for cleanliness, but at least I can calm my hair and remove the worst of the stains before showing myself before the commoners - I can’t have them thinking I am one of them. After all, I serve the people, I am not ONE of the people. That would be absurd. It could never be.... I, Martine, am no peasant but a warrior, a Dame’s Dog, a Mancini, a... a....

What. Is. That.

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light.
::::::::::::::::::::

~~Martine Mancini, Dame’s Dog and Premiere Fashion Consultant~~
 

Morganne

Fighter
-Sir Gavin Medina-

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The smell... I can’t clear it from my nostrils. Breathing, I inhale it. When not breathing, I feel it seeping into my skin, crawling through my muscle and bones and becoming a part of me. The coppery blood, the stomach bile, the defecation of once-brave soldiers shaming themselves before an enemy that none could defeat. And here I stand, blood dripping slowly from the haft to the tip of my sword, sight hazy through one remaining eye... and still defending my King. The only hope for Mercatos is to keep true to our nobility, our royal line, our heritage. These Outsiders will not make us kneel to them, we will stand proud as Humans.

A new challenger steps forward, fresh and clean. In the midst of all this death, I can smell this... thing... yet even over all the fallen. In my time I have seen many a strange creature that I never thought to encounter, and yet this defies them all. It appears as though some creative madman took many different beasts and hew them all together at the body’s junctions. I shudder to even look upon it, to meet its gaze, for in its eyes I see only death.... not for me, but for all I believe, for the Code, and for Mercatos itself.

My muscles protest, hesitating a full heartbeat before obeying my command, and yet still I step forward. I may know I cannot win, and yet I will not let my Liege and my People fall without protest. I will fight again. I will... my sword drops from burning fingers, crackling and sparking with the pain of fire. The cowards! They have used magic against me from behind their lines, enflaming my sword so I have not even that weapon. I will be defeated. Mercatos will fall. And I will have failed. I close my eye. Behind the lid I see a darkness spreading from this point, from the battlefield to encompass the Wyldes, the Kingdoms beyond, and all of Kosmara.

And then through the line steps my sworn Lady.. my Duchess. I am not ashamed of the tears that fall down my face now, beholding her beauty after such horrors I have witnessed this day.

The scent of her perfumed hair wafts over me, reminding me of many a day at croquet in her garden estates near the coast on the Bay of Luinalai. Her kind voice calls me back to myself, as I sway upon my feet and then fall, at last, in exhaustion and anguish to my knees. Before a Human, and her grace, I can finally fall. “Good Sir Gavin, will you not solve this puzzle for me, and end all of our anguish? I am sure it is you that can do it, and I know you will not deny me, my brave Knight.”

I clench my fingers deep in the dirt, willing myself to action. I do not understand her request, or how she can call me to games when so much has been lost already, and all the rest hangs in the balance. I have given my estate, my wealth, my family, every last man-at-arms and brave farmer I could call to my standard.. and I kneel here finally beaten - defeated by the great Lady who set me on my path to nobility.

I release Fortannis from my grasp, patting blindly at the mud. I slick back my curls with two hands swollen and defiled beyond recognition, and look to the task my Lady has set before me.

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light.
::::::::::::::::

-Sir Gavin Medina-
 

Delaldur

Newbie
(This experience seems somewhat ephemeral.)
You are working your forge, masterfully crafting raw metal into what many would call art, but all would call impressive arms and armors. Suddenly, a voice rings out, “Grim, trolls outside!”
You grab your blade and rush out to meet your hated enemy. As you exit the building, you are momentarily disoriented, because you are not exactly sure where you are. This is not a land you recognize. But these thoughts are quickly brushed aside as you notice a large troll standing before you, glowering menacingly at you. You quickly close the distance to it and savagely swing your blade at its torso. The slight purple afterimage of your sword gives you pause, but something akin to a slight bloodlust has overtaken you as the sword easily slides through the thick skin of the troll. Another troll takes the place of the first one, and that one falls just as easily. A third follows suit, and soon nearly a dozen dead trolls lay before you. But there seems to be no end to them in sight.
Without warning, your body stops responding to your thoughts. Briefly, you scream inside your head, thinking that your paralyzed form is about to be cut down by your enemies. Then, you notice that the trolls have stopped fighting, and seem to expectantly looking at you. As if waiting for you. You hear your voice say, “Follow. We have work to do.” You feel your body move as you lead the trolls away.
You are forced to watch, a prisoner in your own body, demolishing any resistance you encounter. At one point, after putting many gypsies and barbarians to the blade, you look back at your host, and notice that the trolls are acting strange. Some seem to be shambling about, moaning in pain. Others seem to be darting about, screaming. You nod, pleased.
After what feels like days of senseless carnage, you see yourself standing before a man, cowering before you. You feel your arm raise your blade to strike him, but you hesitate. You have not yet struck down someone who was not fighting back. In that brief moment of hesitation, you realize that you have regained control over your body once more. You turn around, saying to the man, “Run! I’ll try to buy you as much time as I can!”
As you brace yourself against the mass of monsters now bearing down at you, you feel a sensation building within yourself. You shout at them, “I, Marcusagrim Anvilstrike, will will stop you here or die trying!”
Suddenly there is an excruciatingly bright flash of light that seems to have come from inside of yourself. You wait a moment for your sight to clear. While you wait, you notice you no longer feel your sword in your grasp. As your vision clears, you realize that all traces of any danger have been wiped clean from your surroundings and for the first time in a long it is quiet. The brief peace that has settled upon your surroundings is broken by a sudden noise coming from behind you. You turn towards the sound and are surprised at what you see.
A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, you find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game you’d played before but forgotten. You manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. You watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until you are blinded by the brightness of the light.
 

Delaldur

Newbie
(These happenings seem to have a surreal quality to them.)
The human enters your tent and looks over at you. He shifts uncomfortably, obviously not enjoying being the bearer of bad news. “It’s over, Maddock.” he says. “It is decided, us outsiders are here to stay.” With that, the man turns and leaves.
You follow him outside, thinking there must be something else that could be done, anything else to prevent the Wyldes from being overrun. By monster and outsider, alike. As you look around your encampment, you take in the sight of men and women preparing for battle. You catch bits and pieces of conversation over the sounds of blades being resharpened and armor being repaired for the next engagement between the so-called “Thinking Coalition” versus the army of constructs that marches upon your homelands.
You hear one man remark to another, “How can we keep fighting like this? They don’t tire or get hungry. They don’t care about infection. And it is unnerving to stare into those blank faces as they do their best to tear us to pieces.” The man’s companion just shrugs and says, "Better here than home," before he goes back to running a whetstone along his blade.
It’s been like this for nearly a month now. Where they came from, no one knows for sure. But everyone is sure of what this massive group of constructs is here to do: Destroy the Wyldes and every living thing within. It started small. A few border attacks. But the conflict rapidly escalated. Eventually, as losses began to grow, word began to get out to the other nations. And despite how vehemently you opposed it, it was accepted that the outsiders must be allowed access to the Wyldes, for the survival of your races. And so it began, the second invasion of your homelands.
“There must be something I can do,” you think to yourself. If there was some way to figure out what the goal of the invaders was, it could be accomplished or thwarted. And life could return to how it should be. But how do you discern what the goal is of a unknown power that attacks through mindless minions? And every moment wasted is just that much more of your homelands gone, beaten into a flat, barren waste as the golems march through. Too much has already been lost.
It is at the point that your companions return. They inquire as to how the diplomacy went, and you tell them about the unfortunate decision made. They, in turn, tell you how it might not matter. They found something, but they need your help with it, if you can figure it out quickly enough all the damage that has been done could be unmade. You eagerly follow your friends back, out of the encampment. They lead you out into the Wyldes, deep. The scenery seems to flash past, and then, suddenly, you find yourself at the entrance to a ruin. Inside, you are led to a small, locked room. They point at an object over in the corner. “There, Maddock, there it is.” You head over to examine it, and you see a cage.
A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, you find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game you’d played before but forgotten. You manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. You watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until you are blinded by the brightness of the light.
 

Aisling

Artisan
Crossroads Staff
~ Celestial Guild master, Angus Falcone ~

There was a storm approaching, rolling over the hills just behind the oncoming enemy lines. The roar of the hoard echoed through the constant rumbles of thunder, their silhouettes flashing in front of us as lightening struck. The air was thick with anticipation and fear; we were ready, defenses were up and we were well rested and prepared for the fight, but something felt odd…not quite right. You could smell it…it was foul. I shifted in my armor and grasped the hilt of my sword for comfort. Ah Bethany, the old girl, she was always there to get me through these battles.

The sky grew darker as the hoards moved in closer; the storm was closing in around us, the wind howling. The troops were growing restless and began crowding in together. The air was getting tight, pressing in all around. My heart was pounding in my chest. A large flash of lightning struck behind the oncoming hoard, lighting up the field and blasting a wave of static in the air…magic was everywhere. They were close enough to see now…Barbarians and Gypsies, with wild, glowing eyes. They look deranged and mad. Another flash, my breath caught…I could hardly breath. Stay calm, just focus. They weren’t alone. It was a fantastic sight and I stumbled back as it filled my eyes with wonder and fear. Monsters…everywhere. Horrible and terrifying. Chimera and other hideous monstrosities.

Panicked, I grabbed for my sword and drew her quickly. She was gone, melting away in my hands before my eyes. I turned and tried to run, crashing into the soldiers behind me. They are marching forward, pushing us towards the screaming rampage of chaos running towards us. I shout at them to stop, no one listens. “Angus,” they say, “you’re going the wrong way.” They keep pushing, the screams behind us getting louder and louder.

I grabbed for my wand, tried to summon up something…anything to make them listen, to make them stop. A bright light burst up from the ground at my feet…a circle? I collapse and sink into the ground, the troops marching into nothingness as they pass over, the sounds of lightning growing distant, fading away. I look up to see a faint star shining in the sky and the world stops…

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light.

~ Celestial Guild master, Angus Falcone ~
 

Aisling

Artisan
Crossroads Staff
~ Genevieve Renard Bordeaux, Master Chef and Culinary Artiste ~

“Oy, cookie, where’s my grub!?” a voice yells from the counter.

“Just a flippin’ minute, it’s on its way!” I yell from the kitchen, flinging open the oven and reaching in for the smoking pan. Barehanded, I pull out the tray, carrying the smoking, charred masterpiece over to the serving station. A spoon flies over and scrapes the crispy food off the pan and sploshes it down on a plate in front of the customer, splashing black ash over their brightly colored garb. The gypsy curses at the spoon, wipes off his shirt with his hat, grabs his plate, and walks away into the growing crowd.

Realizing the lack of potholders, I stare at my hands wondrously at their lack of protest to the heat. I drop the tray, scattering the contents all over the counter. “Order up!” I chime to the rowdy crowd. I turn back to the kitchen and resume cooking my amazing and appetizing concoctions. Nothing but the best!

Steam fills the room from the boiling pot on the stove as a spoon flies through the air and stirs its contents. A knife appears in my hand and I begin chopping for the next meal. The pot begins to boil over, filling the kitchen with hissing and spewing. “Will you watch what you’re doing?!” I call to the spoon, who stops momentarily before continuing its flight around the room. The knife shoots from my hand and begins a similar course. Perplexed, I try to catch them, slipping on spilled grease on the floor.

The room grows dark, save for the glowing flames of the stove, the pot hissing and spewing wildly as it cooks. “The academies never showed us this.” Spoons, ladles, knives, and spatulas are whizzing around everywhere now, closing in like a cyclone; getting faster and closer every second. The lid of the pot rattles and falls to the side and I look in. I scream a silent protest as dark, glowing eyes stare up at me from inside the stew. I struggle to get away, but the spoons are all around and a force draws me near as the pot boils and spits everywhere. I can’t get away….I can’t escape! Such a tragic waste of culinary talent!

A loud bang is heard from the tavern as a barbarian kicks down the door carrying the most delicious entrée spread I could ever have imagined…perfection. A bright flash of light bursts in from behind him and floods through the kitchen. The spoons stop and clatter to the floor and the stove jumps, twirls, and vanishes into thin air. I put my hand out, reaching for the dish, this perfection and beauty blinding me as I grasp for it...

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light.


~ Genevieve Renard Bordeaux, Master Chef and Culinary Artiste ~
 

Ziggy

Newbie
::Kilgore blinks into her dream with shadowy shackles on her neck, hands and ankles, binding her to the ground. Her eyes fill with rage:: Raaaaaaaaaa!! Who dere? Release Kilgore now! Where you take Kilgore?! ::Darkness creeps over this wastleland, figures appear before Kilgore:: "Chimeras?! We not in Kupspar anymore! You dere, Besche, unbind me and show me my enemy so Kilgore can show them there own entrails as they die. Come, now! You dont ignore Kilgore, Besche!! You colorful jingly one, unbind me NOW!!!!

"Its so dark here, I am lost again in the mines. Kilgore cannot give up. Someone will release me. Only tru da darkness can one truly see..."::Kilgore peer into the dark distance to see a growing light. The sound of combat and familiar battlecries seem to ferry in the light. Kupspar has come to release her. Kilgore blinks and now stands unshackled with nothing in the room except A bird of prey, fiercely staring at her, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, She finds a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game she's played before but forgotten.She manages to solve the puzzle after a long while of figuring out simple arithmetic, and opens the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. She watch it continue to change…and thinks "can that really be a flying lion?"... and disappear into the sun, until she am blinded by the brightness of the light.::
 

Kayden

Scholar
~~Guildmistress Giovanna DeLuca~~

They spirits keep coming. More and more of them begging...pleading...to be returned. There are so many that there isn't time to guild them all gently. The sound of battle ranging on and on out side the circle, outside the safety of this guild. After the 27th body begins to reform, you check back to the first, with hundreds, maybe thousands more crying out for help. The body doesn't move or respond to your touch. Its cold, unmoving. This isn't how its supposed to happen....

In panic you begin to check the other bodies, all cold and unresponsive. You being to try and resurrect more, pulling spirits down again and again trying to get them back...back from where they have gone off to, without their bodies. But their bodies are here now. And yet....

Did that one move? You shift to check on the first body, and are elated to see it begin to rise to its feet. As you approach, it moves its head toward you. It shifts its eyes upon you. And they are empty...black...gone.... It lets out a snarl which brings you out of the slight daze you were trapped in. You then realize that the entire room is now being to shift, and more bodies begin to rise. You scream and run. Out of the guild, out of the circle. Into the battle all around you. The carnage you see is almost more than you can stand. This isn't why you got into this life. You wanted to help, but it was never supposed to be like this.

You run and run until you're away from the battle. Its at this point you realize you no longer know where you are, none of this looks familiar. suddenly you are surrounded by strange and unusual beasts. They rush you, and pounce to strike. Then the warm pulling sensation is felt in your stomach and you feel yourself being pulled away. Drawn back to....

...Your circle. Now filled with bodies, as if they had multiplied exponentially. The warm press of bodies all growling and snarling. It is so dark in here now, the creatures are now all twisted and demented. they begin to go crazy, just hacking and slashing at everything. The blood begins to rise, and before you can blink it is filling the space, covering everything, drowning you. As you close you eyes, and begin to give in to death, these seems to be a bring flash of light, so bright that even with your eyes closed it hurts.

When you open them, the scene has changed. No bodies, no guild, no circle. Just....A bird of prey, fiercely staring at you, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, you find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game you’d played before but forgotten. You manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. You watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until you are blinded by the brightness of the light.


~~Guildmistress Giovanna DeLuca~~
 

Ziggy

Newbie
::As you blink into the dream you quickly notice the bound, headless bodies of a women in rich clothing and of several men wearing yellow sashes. A man stands before the bodies wearing the blood soaked colors of a noble house but doesn't seem to know how to wear them anymore. A knight who left his path long ago. The man glances at his bloody sword, seemingly hypnotized by it. He is shaken from his empty stare when words come from the moving lips of the woman's head:: Darius, why? How could you execute your own wife...your loyal wayfarers? You've betrayed us all, we will haunt you forever Darius. You're a weak, cowardly man. You've never saved anyone from harm, you bring them to it. I hate you Darius." ::All the heads now face Darius, eyes open:: "We hate you Darius!" ::The man drops his sword and sobs into his hands. Wiping the tears from his eyes he notices a shield on the ground bearing the picture of a chimera::

"Where is this land? What have I done? ::Outside the circle of bodies laughters begin to echo, the man quickly glances around noticing Besche and Romani surrounding him.:: "Wayfarers, save me from this terrible place."::The man falls to his knees before the body of the woman, sobbing. A light begins to grow from the horizon behind the man.:: "It will all be over soon my love, your wayfarers have come to rescue you from this place." ::He turns to see familiar silhouettes backed by a pure white light, they charge towards him letting out a victorious battlecry. He hears a loud fluttered of wings behind him and swings around to see a bird of prey, fiercely staring at him, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, he comes upon a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game he has played before but forgotten. He manages to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. He watch it continue to change thinking… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until he is blinded by the brightness of the light.::
 

Kayden

Scholar
~~~Steward Sarah Trenton~~~~

There is shouting. The people of the town are angry. I must try and put and end to this. We all need to stop this fighting and get along. Rushing out the door I quickly take in the scene. I can see several Citizens armed approaching, but everything seems all wrong. This isn't Kuppspar. This isn't Mercatos.... Where am I??

The Gypsis are all pouring out of there Vardes, forming a defensive line to try and keep the Humans back. Battle lines are draw. "Stop this!" I scream. "It doesn't have to be this way. We must work together and come to a common understanding." But no one seems interested in listening to my pleas.

As I watch in horror at the battle that is about to begin, I see lines of troops forming all around. Gypsie and Beshce vs. Humans. But....then...Dwarfs with Biata and Orc....and Horned Elves with Hoblings and Sandborn....Shatieri and Katieri ... all kinds of Elves....All the races of Kosmara coming together.

Another line beginning to form...this line doesn't consist of any of the known races. These are monsters. There numbers far exceed those of all these other present, and I realize, I am no longer behind the lines of battle. I am trapped in the middle of a conflict that I can do nothing to escape. The forces collide and the conflict is great and terrible.

I hear a scream in the distance, calling for my help. This voice is so familiar to me, but unknown. They are begging for me. I must go help them. I run through this unknown place trying to locate the source of the cries. I come across a clearing and in the middle is a cloaked figure bound to a stake crying, shouting for me. With my heart racing I run as fast as I can to help them. But as I get there everything drops into darkness and then is replaced...

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light

~~~Steward Sarah Trenton~~~~
 

Naga

Newbie
::::Bone chilling fog and snow waft in::::
You feel sharp cold stings on your exposed skin. The cold penetrates your clothes. You look down at your arm. It is hard to determine where the white of your sleeve and the ice and snow buffeting your body separate. You try to look around you. There is only the cold snow stinging your eyes. You can’t see past your own hand. The wind is very strong. It carries with it nothing but the deathly chill of the cold, snow, and ice.

Snow...I am in a blizzard...cold...no sun...

You force your legs to move. You must move. You pick your feet up, one after the other, pressing forward. As you move, the wind increases in strength, blowing all around you, changing its direction every second you continue moving. So fast does its direction change that keeping your balance is very hard. You focus on keeping upright, you can feel the cold penetrating your core. It’s so cold. The wind moves faster, the cold increases, your body is weakening, the chill is overwhelming you.

Overwhelming...cold...it is terrible. I feel...I feel....

You collapse against the wind, falling across windswept ice. Your eyes sting from the cold. You manage to push yourself to your hands and knees. Trying to shield your face from the stinging wind, you turn your face downwards. You notice odd shapes in the ice beneath you. One is a small dark circle and the other...a small oval. Squinting, you lean closer, trying to see what it is. There is a shine to them. Color, a slight color...red is one...and blue is the other. Pendants. They’re pendants. You know them. Fear rises in you. You know them. You watched them be made long ago. You gave them with your own hands. You squint closer. There are dark masses beneath them...hands. Their hands are reaching toward the pendants. Their hands, their bodies are under you. You try to slam your fists against the ice, the cold has weakened you. You cannot break the ice. You cannot get to them....

Cannot get to them?! Weakened from cold?! There is and never will be cold strong enough. I can get to them! I smash against the ice. Over, and over again. A voice behind me speaks, something about fires ready to melt the ice, they are calling for Hiranya... That’s me. They are calling for me. They are distracting me. I do not listen. I feel warmth behind me, I do not turn. Blood starts flowing from my knuckles. I CAN get to them. Over, and over again. There is no barrier strong enough. No ice cold enough. I will get to them. Over, and over again I slam my fists into the ice. I feel my fists grow warmer, and warmer. Blood now covers the ice. I do not stop. The voice is now in front of me. It yells at me that it is here to help, I see the reflection of colored boots in front of me. I do not stop. I do not look up. I will not lose my focus. Nothing can tell me that I cannot fight the cold, ever. EVER! I wreath my hand in flame and smash my fist as hard as I can against the ice, there is a shattering sound around me. All around me, breaking, cracking, there is a sudden warmth. Like pieces of glass the world falls away from around me.

::::The bone chilling fog and snow all but explodes into nothingness. It is replaced by angry licks of fire::::

What fool has attempted this?! Where am I now? I see...why am I here? What business does ANYONE have here?! I know this place. A cage....? Very well...

A bird of prey, fiercely staring at me, throws itself repeatedly against the confines of its iron cage. Upon trying to identify the lock, I find a brightly colored and flashing puzzle with many numbers, a complex lock that seems oddly familiar… almost like a game I’d played before but forgotten. I manage to solve the puzzle with simple arithmetic, and open the cage, jumping back quickly to avoid the flashing talons as the bird screeches a cry of war, suddenly sporting a type of battle armor and changing shape as it flies…. immediately out as though preparing to engage a foe. I watch it continue to change… can that really be a flying lion?... and disappear into the sun, until I am blinded by the brightness of the light.

::::The fire turns to smoke and sweeps away::::

~~Hiranya Navsuk
 
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