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Author Topic: The Gatekeeper  (Read 18671 times)

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Offline ala

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #25 on: June 17, 2011, 07:05:00 PM »
Aithne did not respond at once.  It had been years - maybe hundreds, one did so lose track of time - since she had ventured out into the world farther than the market in town, or a quick visit home.  But the Dwarf's invitation made sense.  They would need her help, and she feared she might need theirs.

"My friends, Cullen and I will come with you."  She laughed her low, rich laugh.  "You are both good company, but I fear other visitors may stop by who Cullen would enjoy, but who I might find less entertaining.  Also,I confess, I am curious.  I want to hear the rest of the story, and coming with you seems to be my only hope."

Aithne looked around her home, assessing what must be done.

"I have much to do before i can leave, and from your tone, and our recent activities, I assume the less time it takes me, the better.  It is sunup now.  Friend Dolgin, may I suggest you and your daughter go on to the town and make your arrangements?  I feel certain I can be there by noontime.  Will that be acceptable?"

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2011, 06:38:28 PM »
The warrior priests dropped to one knee in unison, mail gauntleted fists striking the wooden floor as one, heads bowed.  They formed a path between their heavily armored ranks leading into the library.  There had been signs of a battle here, a fire quickly contained, walls scored by bolts of energy, heavy pieces of furniture strewn about.

High Priest Thaddeus was an imposing figure, tall and stark in impeccably tailored robes crafted of brilliant white linen and gold thread.  Icy blue eyes drank in the details of the scene before him as he strode with regal slowness past his men.  There had been a battle and the library guardians had been injured, seriously, but no one had been slain.  It would be months before the men recovered but they would live.  The mountain temple was a revered place for those who served St. Stravius and location of this repository of knowledge was known to only a few.  Even fewer knew of the secret places within the library where the most precious and dangerous knowledge was kept.

Thaddeus depressed a series of hidden spots on a wall that looked bare.  There was a loud click and a section of the wall slid aside noiselessly, revealing a hidden chamber.  He took a step forward and stopped, breathing deeply, his lips compressed into a thin line.

On the altar, the place where the most sacred tome of the order was to have been, stood a large flask of Dwarven Spirits.

Thaddeus' calm tone belied the rage he felt, "Prepare my gryphon."
« Last Edit: June 18, 2011, 06:40:19 PM by POG »
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #27 on: June 19, 2011, 03:48:17 PM »
Dolgin sat with his legs crossed, all there was was his breath as he fell into the void.  Though his daily meditations typically brought him solace, this was not the case today.  The forces arrayed against him and his cause were vast and the outcome was not clear.  Attachment to the outcome would not do here.  The hour he sat passed in the blink of an eye.

When he opened his eyes. Shandriel was ready to travel.  He night clothes exchanged for traveling pants and tunic topped by a cloak that would serve to hide her features as well as ward off the chill.  Knowing his daughter Dolgin knew she had a fair share of blades hidden on her person.  He graced her with a smile as he stood, refreshed despite the turbulence of his meditation.

"Aithne, I thank ye fer yer hospitality and I hope you can join us in town.  We'll be making preparations and meeting with some other folk afore leaving proper on the morrow.  Of course more light will be shed on meh story ere then."

And with that the Dwarf and his daughter who was not set off to the northeast, the thick woods surrounding Aithne's cave quickly swallowing them...
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline ala

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #28 on: June 22, 2011, 09:41:08 AM »
Aithne watched from her doorway as the two figures melted into into the forest.  She had promised to meet them again before next sunup, and now she had a few precious hours to make her preparations to be gone, who knew how long.

She entered her cave, made breakfast for herself and the insistent Cullen and started making mental lists, deciding what must be done, what might be done, and what, sadly must remain undone. Cullen, always happy after a meal, lay on his back at her feet while she dug her toes into his warm fur.

Finally she rose.  She pulled, from an almost invisible crevice, an old tapestry Bag, shaped like a long triangle with an open top, with lightly glowing carry straps, covered with embroidered runes, and with charms of power and protection woven in its fringe.  This Bag had been her traveling companion for centuries. Together they had walked the Shadow and the worlds.  The ages had not dimmed its colors nor its aura. Through the years the Bag had absorbed power, knowledge, and even a dim form of life. She almost felt it was glad to be on the move again after so long a rest. 

She began to fill the Bag with things she knew would be needed, but might be hard to find while traveling.  Another robe, a few books of spells and recipes, a few candles that burned and were never consumed, a bejeweled dagger covered with glowing runes.  Then some food because although she could go without, Cullen became most disagreeable when meals were too late.  She shook her head and wondered if over the years he wasn't becoming too much like a cat.

Finally she began to wrap herbs, roots, and the specialized ingredients that would be unlikely to be available elsewhere.  Her mind slipped into her own type of meditation.  Slowly and systematically she searched through years of learning.  What was she most likely to need to do, and what would she need to do it?  One small packet, then another and and another were tucked into her Bag.  Someone watching her pack might, by this time be starting to feel vaguely uneasy at the amount of material that had gone into the Bag without any signs of overcrowding, and without in fact, any sign the Bag was not completely empty.  Without even realizing she was doing it, Aithne began to sing under her breath, and though there were no breezes in the cave, the fringe on the Bag waved in time with her song.

The rest of her day was spent wandering through her woods, placing protective charms on places where her herbs grew, cleaning out some winter detritus from a sacred spring, doing whatever she could to keep things safe until her return.

When the shadows began to lengthen she and Cullen returned to her cave for one last meal for a long time in the coziness of their home.  After dinner she lay back against her cushions and peacefully watched the shadows dance.  Gradually in one corner, a shadow appeared that did not seem to have been cast by anything in the room.  It pulled away from the wall and stood, dark and wavering by itself.  Slowly it thickened, changed color and became a tall young man, dressed in white, with dark hair flowing down his back.  He bowed deeply to Aithne.  She looked up with a smile and said, "Cai!  I was hoping you might stop by."

"I see you are packed to travel, my sweet.  Is it too much to hope you have come to your senses and are leaving this cave and coming home?"

A low chuckle escaped Atihne.  "Cai, my dear you are just arrived.  Please save that for later.  As it happens I am leaving my cave, but not, at the moment, to come home.  Things are amiss in this world, and I hope to put some of them right.  You know how very fond I am of the creatures here."

"Who knows better than I of your fondness?  How many hundreds of your ridiculous years have I waited for you to tire of indulging that fondness?"

"You have been a miracle of patience my love.  Now come,sit with me.  Tell me of home and of your life."

Cai lay on the bed next to Aithne, put his arm around her and drew her close to him. He looked at her face and softly touched the wrinkles at the corners of her eye with his fingers.  "Do they hurt, love?"

"No Cai.  They only hurt my pride a little.  It is the price I pay to live and learn here.  You are always welcome to join me."

Cai pulled her close and laughed.  "No my love, this is not the world for me, even with you here.  I'll wait until you grow tired of this.... place.  You will grow tired, won't you? You will come home to me?"

"Someday my love.  I promise.  But I still have much to do here, and in fact, much to do before I can leave in the morning."  She started to rise, but Cai pulled her back down to him. 

"Spend the night with me.  Together we two will finish your tasks... later."  Aithne laughed and settled into the cushions next to him.  As she wrapped her arms around him and first touched his lips she thought, "What journey that begins so pleasantly could end badly?"

And so it was in the deep hours of the night two figures stood with joined hands at the cave door and sang.  As they sang the stone grew across the opening.  Soon there was no sign that any cave existed.  No unwelcome visitors would disturb her home during her absence.  With one last fond glace Aithne looked around her home, and said one last farewell to Cai before he stepped into the Shadow to go home. Then, at last she picked up her traveling cloak, woven with strands of Shadow, woven to hide her anywhere.  She fastened the cloak around her shoulders with a clasp made of glowing red wires interlaced in a way that made you dizzy if you looked too closely.  She raised the hood over her head and, with Cullen, melted into the Shadow and left to start her journey.






« Last Edit: July 13, 2011, 04:33:00 PM by ala »

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2011, 07:33:01 PM »
The bitter taste of fear rose to the back of Salko's throat. The tattoos on his face glowed and capered like living things. He sprinted pell mell through the frosty woods with the echo of his desperate footfalls matching the staccato rhythm of his wildly beating heart. Tunic drenched with sweat he dared not look back at the inhuman growl that Heckler let forth. The undergrowth snatched at him and the deep snow sucked at his stout leather boots.

He cast the first gate like a drowning man, fear making his fingers fumble. His sigh of relief was drowned out by the liquid crash of his body passing thru.

A cerulean flash stole his senses. He crashed headlong into the table knocking it over and upending drink and food. A chorus of shouts went up from gaily costumed revelers who had been thrown about by his abrupt appearance.

Angry shouts that turned quickly to screams of terror as Heckler emerged from the gate behind him.  Salko slipped on spilled gravy and went down hard. Heckler grasped a party goer with scaly clawed hands and ripped her arms out of her sockets in a welter of gore.

Salko's eyes bulged as he cast a second gate. Another cerulean flash and he was blinded by stinging sand that was flung into his face negligently by the howling desert wind.  He struggled to force his way ahead, leaning forward into the wind. A furious gust pushed him back and hurled his body upward. Salko felt the razor sharp talons slice at his ankle. Gushing blood mixed with sand was carried off into the storm. Heckler swung wildly with its three other arms as Salko desperately cast a gate above and behind him arching his back. The wind slammed him into the gate with the familiar flash.  This time he sliced off the weaves with a sharp sideways motion of his arms. The gate slammed shut. While Heckler was reaching thru.

The closing gate sliced the demon's arm off at the shoulder. Salko could not hear it's scream of pain because his ears and mouth were filled with water. The salty water filled his throat and he coughed relexively. Panicking he breathed in more. Heckler's severed limb floated by trailing gruesome ichor.

Salko spun just in time to see a gaping maw filled with thousands of sharp teeth. It closed with supernatural quickness, taking Heckler's arm. Salko saw that the creature was immense and it's body was covered with iridescent scales.  The pressure felt like it was going to crush Salko's skull. He panicked, lungs fighting for air but getting water instead. He kicked and swam for the surface, runic tattoos blazed across his face. Out of the corner of his vision he saw the mouth open again. He looked to the surface, arms and legs a blur of frenzied motion...

...and saw darkness.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 12:23:58 PM by POG »
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #30 on: June 26, 2011, 11:52:49 AM »
The snowy street was aglow in the light of the waxing moon.  The denizens of Skyholt had retired to their homes.  The town was one of the stops between Russex and Calidor so there were many establishments for a weary traveler to lay their heads to gather their strength to continue their journey.  Gyphon's Roost was on of these, a modest tavern with a smattering of travelers in the common room.  Delicious food and strong ale kept the Roost busy but the Dwarven spirits they serve was what made it one of Dolgin's favorite places.

With Shandriel sleeping soundly in one of the upstairs rooms the Priest sat at a corner table, cup in hand, sipping slowly.  He wanted his wits about him when this meeting took place.   It had been years....too long.  He looked at the empty cup that sit on the table...waiting.
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline Aetherealful

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #31 on: June 26, 2011, 07:41:37 PM »
Kali entered the agreed upon tavern, her burgundy eyes taking in everything and revealing nothing. The barest hint of a smile touched her lips as she felt her demonic companion land lightly on the roof. Scarminglion had protested her leaving his sight. She had protested him being harmed by these … people … who would surely try to destroy him. In the end he had conceded to her will, albeit grudgingly. She could picture him clearly, his magnificent dark wings folded around his body, a silent snarl displaying his wickedly sharp fangs.

Granted the fact that these people would likely be the ones to die in such a confrontation was a small and insignificant detail. As soon as she caught sight of the dwarven priest she sought, she pulled the hood of her cloak down and slowly glided over to his table … curiosity a living thing inside her. It had been that curiosity that had drawn her into this place … the likes of which she usually avoided. Her kind were not welcome, but more, she didn’t care for the company of most people.

She rested her pale hands on the back of a chair, not quite willing to commit herself by sitting down … yet. “Dolgin,” she breathed, “it’s been too long.”

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #32 on: June 27, 2011, 01:09:44 AM »
Dolgin's eyes drank in the details as Kali walked across the room to his table. Seeing her peeled back time and stirred old memories and older feelings. That she reminded him of Shandriel's mother was a given, but more than that she was an old friend, an anchor in a sea of chaos.

The grin playing about her face reminded him of how she looked in battle. He filled the other cup. The Kali he knew could out drink any man.  He motioned to the other seat.

"To hell..." he started their customary greeting...
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 05:42:19 AM by POG »
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2011, 07:21:55 PM »
Rayne emerged from the shadows and pushed the rickety cart down the street slowly. The wheels were in dire need of oil. The squeal of rusty axles heralded his arrival long before the few citizens in the streets of Skyholt caught a view of him.  He appeared to be a tall man of indeterminate age who might have been handsome save for a nose that had been broken a half a dozen times too many. His clothes were little more than rags and the cart he pushed held a confusing array of tools, as well as crockery, pots and pans, bolts of cloth. It also bore a sign hastily scrawled in a crude version of the common tongue,

Rayne McDugal-Tinkerer and Jack of all trades.

He was trailed by a small black dog that looked as if it's face had been bashed flat with one of the heavy skillets on his cart. The creature snorted and grunted as it wended it's way along the street sniffing about for food or something else.

Rayne brought the car to a halt and looked across the street at the Gryphon's Roost. The cheerful light of the hearth within brought a warm glow to the windows.
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline Aetherealful

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #34 on: June 27, 2011, 08:12:58 PM »
The smile that had started to curve her lips when she entered bloomed fully, real warmth lighting her eyes. “ … and back again.” Kali eyed Dolgin for a moment. “Been exploring hell’s more interesting landmarks without me?” she asked with a soft, lilting laugh as she took the offered seat, crossing her legs.

She traced the rim of the freshly filled cup with one finger as she considered what a summons from her old friend could mean. “Sarminglion is upset with you. He said there was an unleashing of too much power nearby. An aftertaste of violence in the air … the scent of blood and binding.”

Lifting the cup to her lips, she watched him from beneath her lashes. All things considered, this dissonance that had her demonic darling in such a state of ire was likely the very reason Dolgin had needed to see her.

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #35 on: June 28, 2011, 08:24:43 PM »

Dolgin sipped at the potent drink, savoring it's peaty taste. "Sarm 'as every right to be surly. Twas nae my fault though. Last night a group came callin' on Shandriel. Right powerful group. Twas her alone. A Lock and twelve shifters it were." He paused to let her realize the significance of the number before continuing."

"She was game and led em on a chase. She done a sending loud nuff I heard it thirty leagues away and I got to her with due haste."

Another sip of spirits, "The Lock called a powerful one, strong as Sarm. Meebee stronger. Using and old spell form I never seen afore" Dolgin described the way the shifters were arranged to form a spellform. He was no warlock, in fact his skills ran to the opposite direction. But he knew enough about the workings of that type of magik to know that what he had encountered was no mean feat.

He looked to Kali to see what her thoughts were on what he had told her so far...
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline Aetherealful

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #36 on: June 29, 2011, 01:20:07 PM »
Kali stared at nothing for a long moment after Dolgin had finished speaking, holding her cup as though to drink though it did not make it to her lips. Finally she sat it down with great care. That she was a natural born warlock was a little known fact … that she could do through intuition and innate personal power what most other warlocks needed spellforms for both simplified and complicated her life. “What you witnessed,  my darling Dolgin, is highly advanced and viciously dangerous. Very few schools teach that technique … and the ones who do are arrogant enough to believe that their control over the demons they summon will be complete. They are also tightly knit, the need for a single collective will for such a rite imperative for success.”

She turned her rich, wine red gaze to her old friend. “They are also known to take contracts indiscriminately, not caring who their employer is enough to ask so long as they are paid.”

A perfect group to select when one didn’t want to be associated with the mess that would undoubtedly be left behind. Her head tipped to the side, her expression changing slightly to indicate she was having another conversation. “Sarminglion says that form of binding is effective enough, however where it him and he broke free he would spend a great deal of time teaching the fool who thought to enslave him the meaning of pain. He also says that if a contract of this nature has been taken out on you and your family then his upset with you is the least of your concerns.”

It was another little known fact that her formal education in the demonic arts had been taught to her by the demons themselves ... a fact that she had kept to herself for most her life, only the very few she considered true friends being gifted with that confidence.

Offline ala

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #37 on: June 30, 2011, 06:26:27 PM »
With the departures of Cai and Aithne the cave settled into darkness.  No door, no windows, every spark of fire carefully extinguished.  Warm, velvety, palpable darkness filled every crevice.  Thick, heavy silence lulled Aithne's furnishings and chattels into languid inhuman dreams as they waited for time, which had no real meaning to them, to pass and life to return to the cave.

But then in the darkness one tiny point of light. Bright as a comet, no larger than a pinhead.  An observer might have thought it just a trick of the darkness.  But then another point, and another, until streamers swirled around streamers, and veils of shimmering light hung in the center of darkness.

From this brilliance emerged...a child?  A childlike figure certainly.  Small, plump, tousled curls, dimpled knees, sweetly curved lips, and a round stomach begging to be tickled.  What if the curls were silver rather than gold?  What if where a blush of pink should spread on a cheek there was more a hint of blue?  But then there were its eyes.  No. No the eyes were wrong.  All wrong.  Flat silver with a vertical black pupil. Eyes that gave nothing away. Eyes that watched you like a cobra watching a mesmerized rodent. Watched with a look that made you wonder how much it would enjoy your death. Eyes that were in no way human.  Eyes that made you think of backing away while realizing it really was not a nice face at all.

Xeo looked around the cave with satisfaction.  They were gone.  All was well.  She would never know she was being followed unless there was trouble.  Of course, he liked trouble. But Cai had been very clear.  He was to follow...to remain unseen...to guard...and, if necessary, to defend.  He was under no circumstances to begin anything.  Normally Xeo would have paid no attention to "orders" but ... he liked Cai.  At least he thought that's what the feeling was.  They laughed together.  They fought and hunted together.  They tormented humans together. Cai defended him from the frequent attempts to banish him to some far away inaccessible portion of the universe.  In as much as Xeo understood the concept, Cai was his....friend.  So.  He would do as Cai asked.  But he did hope there would be trouble.  Aithne was no delicate flower.  He'd seen her kill almost carelessly. She would be protected, but he did like a good fight.

Xeo moved around the cave touching things, absentmindedly picking up some dried fruit to eat, soaking in the essence that was Aithne.  Xeo moved his hands through the veils of light and a window appeared in the brightness.  It showed a network of dark lines...overlapping, intersecting, going through things, around things.  A filmy, almost formless road map.  Beads of light moved along the threads. He located a shimmering violet dot with a small gold dot beside it.  He nodded, smiled, wiped away the window with a flick of his adorable dimpled wrist, and disappeared with a soft pop.

The light flickered out.  Silence returned, and the cave went back to its dreaming.


Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #38 on: July 01, 2011, 05:40:32 AM »
The table, made of stout timbers from the heart of tanglewood, nearly groaned aloud under the weight of the sumptuous feast set out before Archbishop Benedict. Fruits from Calidor, exotic game from Malkyria, nothing was too extravagant for the Archbishop's table. He reached out with a bejeweled hand and grabbed a piece of venison, dripping with juices. As he bit into the tender meat he relished the taste, chewing slowly, digesting what Thaddeus had told him.

Thaddeus stood, head bowed, staring at the white marble floor, as still as the four Watchers that stood motionless in the four corners of the room.

Benedict's voice was melody mated with power. "So this priest was a member of the order in good standing until it was found that he was consorting with a practitioner of the black arts. He was excommunicated from the order. Do you feel he is shadow touched?"

Thaddeus was a powerful man and commanded the power of life and death with nearly negligent ease but in the presence of the Archbishop he was a child reciting his lessons for teacher. "Well, yes...at least that is what we thought."

"Explain"

"The fact that Dolgin had shown his loyalty to be with this Kali..." Thaddeus spit her name like a curse, "...and his excommunication meant that he should no longer be able to hold the Light. There were rituals conducted, I was part of them. He should have been gelded...and yet."

"Go on my child."

"He still holds the light." This last was low, a secret that should be held close lest it bring ruin to them all.

This went against Church doctrine and all they taught. This information must not be revealed to the people or they would ask...questions. Fortunately the Archbishop had already taken steps to resolve the situation. One did not become Archbishop, or remain Archbishop fir any significant length of time, without having an ability to deal with "problems" such as Kali. That his agent would slay the offensive dwarf as well was an added plus.

**************************************

Rayne settled into the shadows of the alley across from the Roost. Fu looked towards the roof of the tavern, a low growl escaping his throat. Rayne graced the small dog with a grim smile. "Soon boy," He looked towards the inn, "soon."
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 05:45:19 AM by POG »
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #39 on: July 02, 2011, 10:55:03 AM »
Dolgin nodded, his lips a grim line as he listened to what Kali said. He had a feeling he knew who was behind the attack, and was glad he had sent for Kali when he did.  The next few weeks where going to be...eventful.

"I have been banished from the order." This was said without malice or scorn.  "They found out that I was friends with a warlock." He graced Kali with a wide smile.  "I brought it on meself I 'spose. Wi' locks supposing to be the personification of evil I asked the Church fathers how one could save me life not once but twice, at great peril to her own."  He took a sip before continuing, "Their answer was to call me shadow touched, beguiled by you, possessed.  They looked for the shadow and couldn't find it so the bound me and tried to cut me from the light." Dolgin looked at Kali's concerned expression.  "Nae be afeared.  It dinna work."

The truth was Dolgin was a threat to the Church not just because of his relaionship with Kali but because he disobeyed the conventions, said heretical things, resisted gelding, then there was recent matter of his stealing one of their holiest scriptures.  But he really wasn't a bad sort.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2011, 10:58:23 AM by POG »
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline Aetherealful

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #40 on: July 06, 2011, 02:28:05 AM »
A great many things flashed through Kali’s mind. Memories, all bad … horrific was perhaps a better word. The church … the light … an evil that could not be evil because it belonged to that light … a good that could not be good because it belonged in darkness. She masked the turmoil within her, her eyes becoming fathomless pools that seemed to glow in the dim light. The razor sharp focus of Sarminglion reaching for her telepathically snapped her back to the here and now. The cold within him grew deeper with her distress … she could feel his temper testing the leash of his control.

She took a careful breath, absently twisting the cup atop the table. “Do they know which warlock?” she asked very softly. “Specifically beguiled by me, or by some nameless, faceless warlock?”

Were she not already fair as a winter’s dream she would have gone deathly pale at the merest suggestion that the church, and therefore a relative she’d rather not see again, knew how to find her.

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #41 on: July 06, 2011, 06:15:08 AM »
Dolgin looked at his friend with a questioning glance.  The Church has spies everywhere.  I did nae tell the Questioners your name.  I assume however, they know of ye in particular."  A cold glint came into his eye as his thoughts progressed, "Have ye been threatened?"

There were two people that Dolgin would kill anyone to protect, priestly vows or not, and they were both in this tavern...
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 07:11:20 AM by POG »
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline Aetherealful

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #42 on: July 11, 2011, 03:02:30 PM »
Sarminglion shifted atop the roof of the tavern … something in the air had him on edge. Something more than the scent of blood, than the remnants of a binding spell gone awry – he stretched his ebon wings to their full span, restless. He could feel Kali’s spikes of fear and they only served to sharpen his temper, the cold within him beginning to chill the air around him. He did, in fact, remember the state she had been in when he’d taken her from the church. He did remember what those wretched humans had done to his pet. A natural warlock … one that had summoned demons as playmates as a mere toddler. Summoned, not bound – she had intrigued them, the darkness in her singing to them in ways mortals never had before. She forged a link between the worlds with her very existence.

Turning away from his dark reverie, he turned his focus to the tavern and what was going on within, using his bond with Kali to listen to the conversation she was having with the only priest she’d ever called friend.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kali laughed softly. “Threatened? No, not recently my darling Dolgin. It doesn’t mean that the church won’t decide to purge the world of yet another warlock just for giggles. It does fascinate me, though, the hypocrisy of hiring warlocks to do their dirty work. I imagine it then give the church ample justification to purge that particular sect when they are done using them.”

She didn’t mention that she’s spent the majority of the last few months away from prying eyes to avoid being threatened at all. Something had been bothering her, just outside her sense, just enough to make her wary of people in general. Something that had kept her in dark seclusion with only her demons for company – better her demons than her relatives. It would seem that something had touched Dolgin. She feared, greatly, that the Archbishop was using her dwarven friend to flush her out. But. He was a friend, one of very few true friends, and she wouldn’t leave him to deal with Benedict’s brand of cruelty alone.

“What do you plan to do?”

Offline ala

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #43 on: July 13, 2011, 11:29:09 AM »
Aithne and Cullen stepped out of the Shadow, into the darkest hours of the night, before dawn has started to make itself known, onto the road far out of sight of the town. The world looked so peaceful in the starlight.  Nightbirds sent out their calls and a firefly sparked here and there.  How deceptive.  As she stood in the darkness, rubbing Cullen's ears, she tried once again to form a coherent pattern out of the shards she had: the attack on Shandriel, the hideous spellform and it's evil result, even Cai's surprise visit.  She knew they must all fit together somehow, but for now she had to accept she simply had too few pieces for the puzzle to have a shape.

She spoke softly to Cullen, reminding him that many people were made nervous by extremely large creatures with very sharp teeth and claws, no matter how sweet and well-mannered the creatures were.  Cullen looked at her with his great golden eyes full of sympathy for such ignorant people. At the same time his form began to shrink, his claws withdrew into his small, soft paws and his fangs no longer were visible.  Aithne picked up her golden cat and tucked him into the Bag.

A short walk brought them to the doors of the Gryphon's Roost.  Aithne looked around.  Something felt wrong.  There was a shape on the roof.  No...more a hint, a thought of a shape.  Even her trained eyes could not bring it into focus, but there was a something there that felt vaguely of demons.  Strange it didn't feel more threatening.

She entered the inn.  Stepping from the night into the inn Aithne was blinded for an instant.  The interior of the inn was a patchwork of dark recesses and bright flame-lit islands and her eyes were not yet adjusted.  Even in her semi-blindness she could see red-glowing swirls of demon-energy surrounding one shape.  Again, so strange.  Demon-energy, but the shape was no demon.  Again she felt no threat.  As her eyes became adjusted she discovered the not-a-demon was at the table with Dolgin in one of the darker areas.  She also noted with a smile that the not-a-demon was quite beautiful. Dolgin had interesting friends. There were other threads in the air that suggested he might also have some interesting enemies.

"Cullen", she whispered, "I believe this is going to be a very educational journey."  She smiled and began to make her way to Dolgin.  No one who watched her noticed the cat head poking out of the Bag, or that two of the runes on the front of the Bag had unaccountably taken on the appearance of two deep green eyes, or even that Aithne appeared to have two shadows.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2011, 04:46:15 PM by ala »

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #44 on: July 14, 2011, 02:33:12 AM »
Almost no one noticed the two shadows following Aithne.  Rayne gasped as Fu stood stock still, hackles raised. The dog, that was much more than a mere dog, sprinted across the street in a blur of motion.

"Fu!" If the dog heard his companion he showed no sign. Instead of slowing he leapt at the stout oak door of the Gyphon, crashing through the wooden planks like kindling. Startled tavern patrons recoiled from the explosion of wood.  The growling canine flew through the air toward Aithne.  A gold luminosity shone from it's eyes with the brightness of a torch.

There was a silver flash, faster than the human eye could follow sparks flew and Fu crashed to the tavern floor heavily. He rolled and leapt at a shadow that danced on the edge of vision. Misty and insubstantial, Xeo faded to Shadow. The small muscular dog passed thru, crashing into a table leg and upending the contents. Xeo solidified and swung the silver blur towards Fu. The dog stood up on hind legs to evade and, amazingly ran towards Xeo swinging his front paws like a man would his fists.

One of the onlookers promptly poured his beer on the floor and vowed never to touch alcohol again.
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #45 on: July 15, 2011, 09:42:31 PM »
The score or so of onlookers in the tavern were rapt by the dazzling and mysterious display by the two diminutive combatants. Dolgin nearly lost himself as well, with nearly disastrous results.

The dwarf threw the entire bulk of his stocky frame at Kali, knocking her backwards out of her chair with a snap of breaking wooden legs.  The two landed on the floor in a heap as Rayne, standing silhouetted in the tavern doorway, leveled his crossbow for a second shot.  The first one had passed through the cowl of Kali's cloak as she had been violently thrown to the floor by Dolgin's tackle, scant inches from her head.

The priest's hammer spun into his hand seemingly of its own volition.  He rose it as the second quarrel streaked from from Rayne's crossbow.  Instead of finding it's target, Kali's head, it was blocked by the hammer, sending forth an arc of electrical energy that ran the length of the hammer and into Dolgin.

After some very unpriestly oaths, Dolgin uttered a prayer and kissed the head of the hammer.  Then he hurled it at the demon hunter from his position on the floor.  The hammer hummed towards Rayne and struck him in the chest with the sound of thunder.  The impact knocked Rayne backwards out of the tavern and across the road where he struck the wall about five feet off the ground breaking mortar and cracking bricks.

When the dust settled Rayne, amazingly slowly stood and drew two long swords.  He tilted his neck until his neck cracked and slowly began walking back towards the tavern, smile on his face.  This might just be more of a challenge than he thought...
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #46 on: July 19, 2011, 07:50:25 PM »
The gate opened without warning, close to the ceiling of the room, instantly filling the room with water.  The door burst outward off its hinges and the two windows crashed outward.  Salko fell to the center of the room flopping like a landed fish, spitting out water and gasping for air.  The bed and other furnishings in the room were instantly saturated and the roar of water turned into the whoosh of water quickly leaving the room.
Salko retched; violently, vomiting dirty water onto the already soaked floor.  He staggered to his feet, eyes wild, heart racing.
No sign of Heckler.
With his heart starting to slow from a wild gallop to it’s normal canter he looked about beginning to wonder where he had ended up…
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles

Offline ala

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #47 on: August 13, 2011, 11:48:45 AM »
So quickly did the eruption take place that Aithne was not yet halfway into the room, her eyes still not fully adjusted, when chaos broke out.  She stopped.  Confused, she swirled around, squinting her eyes to better make sense of the blurs fighting behind her.  Strengthened by the eyes of the Bag, she was just beginning to discern a dimly familiar shape when a movement in the Bag made her aware that the situation was about to become more complicated.

"Don't you dare!", she whispered, pushing a frantic Cullen deeper into the Bag. "For the love of the Lady, BEHAVE."  Hard as it might be to draw more attention to their little group, a full sized, armor plated Cullin just might be able to do it.  Xeo's silver form shone clear for an instant.  She might have known!  She clenched her teeth to keep from screaming, knowing the futility of attempting to stop Xeo one he had engaged battle. Xeo!  Why was he even here.?  Oh, Cai had some answers to give.

Looking past the small combatants, she caught sight of the figure at the door.  At first no more that a dark shape against a dark ground, he was suddenly wreathed in filaments of power.  Blinding bright patterns.  New patterns... unknown to Aithne... with a power that almost knocked he to the floor.  Who was he?  Who was he here for?  Why was she so certain that he hunted no random prey?  Where in this chaos was his focus?

She wrapped her cape tight around herself and vanished into Shadow.  No eyes noticed.  All were watching the dog and his almost unseen partner.  She slowed her time so those around her moved as though in water.  The figure at the door raised a bow.  Her eyes traced the path his bolt must take.  He was going to fire at Dolgin!  No. Not him.  The beautiful not-a-demon.  This man was a demon hunter.  But she was not a demon. 

Even with time slowed, things moved too fast.  The arrow was on it's way.  She saw Dolgin throw himself at his companion, block the bolt, crash to the floor and throw his hammer.  She saw the hunter carried out of the inn by the force of Dolgin's hammer, but felt no sense of relief.  Cullen still struggled to join the mayhem.  Xeo was still there somewhere and could be counted on to do the unexpected.  Dolgin was unarmed, his friend still on the floor.  Aithne moved invisibly toward the members of her party.  Her back tingled with the touch of invisible tendrils.  She looked over her shoulder, only to see the hunter returning to the inn.

"Xeo!", she whispered urgently, "Come help me!"  Hoping that for once Xeo might do as she asked, Aithne rushed toward Dolgin.

« Last Edit: August 13, 2011, 12:01:24 PM by ala »

Offline POG

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Re: The Gatekeeper
« Reply #48 on: June 13, 2012, 12:05:50 AM »
Talvaenir was speaking to him immediately whispering warnings that were nearly drowned out in the psychic scream let forth by Zaxas as soon as he touched its black hilt.  Rayne's mind was buffeted by the energies of the two swords as they rushed into his body.  Swirling and clashing the sought to both devour each other and control his mind and bend it to their will.  Inwardly he fought a pitched battle for control while outwardly he strode resolutely toward the tavern, a sheen of sweat on his brow the only evidence of his clandestine struggle.  The eldritch energy spilled out of his eyes in a frightening display.  Talvaenir pulled his attention up....up...up

Energy flared from the sword as a thousand shards of ice descended upon Rayne in a blur.  Zaxas was enraged and shadow erupted that was a match for Talvaenir's light. The razor shards of ice hurled by the demon were turned aside for the most part but enough got through to slice the demon hunter's clothing and open long cuts on his face. The wind from Sarminglion's wings pushed light and shadow away as he reached for Rayne's swords with black claws as his barbed tail darted in overhead...
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 12:08:16 AM by POG »
"Pain can be your greatest ally, from pain you can learn to apply it, endure it and avoid it. Without pain there is no understanding of reality. If you never get hit with the things you strike out with every thing you know is pure fiction."
 
The Ares Chronicles