The skies were forebodingly overcast, the winds still as death itself. An uncomfortable heat lingered over the three sentinels; too warm for what should have been a brisk fall night.
The three Arbiters lingered just out of sight of the wooden palisade, the top of Circle Master Yoru's ziggurat just visible over the hill. Their patrol route was down a long path, dotted every hundred feet or so with Ether Wards haphazardly skewered into the ground, some at a rather sharp angle.
"Old Master Yoru is up to something fishy," mumbled Elusis, thrusting the butt of his halberd into the ground and stopping for a moment to wipe the thin sheet of sweat from his helmeted head. Maliki and Staephen stopped just in front of him and issued nods of acknowledgement.
"I agree," Maliki said, running her fingers idly across the trigger guard of her Zuudi style Archenbusse. "The air isn't right..."
"You're both being paranoid," interjected Staephen. "Circle Master Yoru is always up to something fishy - it's no different than usual. You just have stomach-butterflies from the Capparnian bar-be-que eel you ate earlier, Elusis. I told you you should have gone with the pork. And it's been a warm fall season... it happens from time to time. Weather's been like this for a while now. and besides..."
As if to interrupt him, a nearby Ether Ward began to give off a low hum, as the tinkling of chimes became just slightly audible. Stephen stopped, mid sentence, but only for a moment as Maliki and Elusis began to brandish their weapons.
"Probably just some spare Ethereal burnoff from the Nexus... sure it's not much to worry..."
The forest exploded into a sudden and abrupt clattering of metal, Lysonite gems burning molten red in every direction. It didn't take much more convincing to know that something had gone VERY wrong.
As if to reaffirm their suspicions, a terrible boom and a brilliant light manifested behind them, in the direction of the Nexus. The three Arbiters put gauntleted hands over their eyes to shield from the radiant display. It quickly faded, but the top of the Nexus had disappeared from the horizon, replaced by a thick, black pillar of smoke and ash.
"I need to report to the the Lord Arbiter General. Maliki, Staephen, go to the Nexus, see what happened, and get as many people as you can out." Elusis yanked a clattering Ether Ward from the ground, nearly blinded by the glimmering of the Lysonite jewel atop it. "When the Jewel bursts, get out of there."
"That's suicide!" stammered Stephen. "We'll be turned into walking aberrations! Who knows how much ether is floating around there. The place is probably a barren wasteland, filled with whatever has spewed forth from the Matrix."
"Well go and see. If it is, leave. If there are people who need help, it's our duty to save them from Ethereo-phenomenal crisis."
"It's our JOB," retorted Maliki, grabbing him by the shoulder plate of his carapace armor, and dashing the other way.
"It is crazy," mumbled Elusis. He gripped the haft of his Arcanite Halberd and dashed down the path, the frantic tinkling of the wards echoing in his brain for five miles.
I quite like this idea because it is highly adaptable. If your game does not focus on Ether a similar setup could be made for any 'aura' of your choosing. What a perfect way to harken the arrival of the BBEG, chimes ringing furiously in a place absent of wind but with a darkening sky. They could also function like Tribbles + Kingons, which is to say if some ethereal/evil has posessed a human or is disguised they still react. They're just a really nice touch that can be added anywhere.
I cannot say enough good things about this sub. The deity, the assassins' guild & their equipment would have all made fine subs on their own! I especially liked the Marionette strings and the mythos/motivations of the Laughing God and his cult.
If I could think of one thing to improve or expand upon (in maybe another sub), it would be to have a little more detail on the circus itself. Simply because I like circuses, especially ones with a nice, dark theme. Could be a great writeup for a 5-room dungeon, the goal being to uncover the truth about the Angels, retrieve a killing contract before it's handed over to them, etc.
5/5, and my patented "Smashing Sub of the Day" award. Have an HoH as well!
I am not going to vote yet, because this is so close to being a five but is missing one crucial thing to me. Motivation. What is the mission of the circus? Why does this god value laughter? Why does he have a group of laughing assassins? I feel like all of this could be explained if I just knew what the motivation of the cult or their god was.