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  1. #181
    Faraking Island of Taroc in Far Western Rekōdo: The Floating Heli'Dom

    Nalia.jpg

    Arion, Acting Guild Master of Taroc and Nalia of Enchantry



    Arion is waiting as Ryth turns. The old warrior would see Arion standing like a tall willow, bent slightly at the back as is listening to something only he could hear. His hands were clasped behind his back. His weapon was there across the back of his Taroc Military Coat. The lacquered wood of black and red was in sword form, but it was no threat to Ryth. The soldier would know this was Arion's passive stance, one he took often, specifically when waiting on Alain at a Guild function or attending a meeting. General Guild business would find him this way: calmly waiting, calmly listening as only he could. Arion's crimson eyes are easily found by Ryth. He's been staring at the back of his head, waiting for him to turn around. He offers Ryth a lopsided smile, something that always looked a tad wolfish and silly. It would now, were it not for the different emotions playing across Arion's eyes. he's trying- and failing- to hide what he can hear in Verona's Soul Song behind his smile. His eyes give him away, especially to Ryth who knew Arion as well as Verona.

    He did his best to not since as her Song skipped a beat. A folly for the best of orchestras, harsh and something to make one jump on a record player, a mistake that made you held your breath until the music resumed. The silence of her Song lasted for only a second, but for Arion, it could have been hours. In that silence he could see and hear all of her heartache and anguish. In that silence, he heard the death of hope.

    Arion could not look at Verona. When he heard her turn away, the Acting Guild Master put a hand on his heart and breathed out as if he were experiencing pains there. It was a brief moment that passed as Verona's own moment of pain passed. When Arion looked at her as she returned to them, his eyes were unreadable, searching the business he found in her own. He returned his gaze to Ryth, but not until after he started speaking.

    "Doraen's gran'mother an' the Mis'rss Islene of th' Nine 'idden Stars are below in th' Infirmary" Arion informed Ryth.

    "Islene brough' 'er 'ere to ge' Doraen's 'elp. Someone tried to turn 'er insides into paint."

    he still didn't know what to make of that. That detail of Doraen's note was so odd that it had stuck with him. He offered Ryth a grateful smile. He nodded in affirmation to Verona that oracles would need to be assigned to take care of the rest of the Circle. They had already discussed the concern over their thinned list of trustable allies. He knew she would take care of it and that reliable oracles would be found.

    Arion heard a shift in Ryth's song when he spoke of forgiving Alain. His crimson eyes focused intently on his old friend and mentor. His eyes, as always, were gentle. He was listening to Ryth.

    "I understan, Ryth" he said gently. There was a huskiness to his voice. He wanted to ask Ryth to stay, beg if needed, but he knew such things would not change the stubborn man's mind. It was made up. It was not his to change. Arion knew, that there was no diplomacy from him that could sway Ryth's heart.

    Arion cleared his throat to try and remove the dryness he felt gathering there.

    "Where will you go?" he asked quietly. He hoped, at the least, Ryth would tell him that.

    Nalia's emerald eyes glanced at the trio of friends that stood apart. She desperately wants to go to Ryth, but she is part of the problem. Thankfully, Eliona spoke up again. Nalia pulled her eyes, already tearing at the thought of him leaving their tight knit group, away from the old soldier and over to Eliona. Her apology caught her off guard. First she is trusted and now she is being given an apology. Nalia goes very still. The weight of Eliona's words take a moment to sink in. In the end, Nalia finds that she does not know what to say. She simply nods.

    The entirety of the room jumped when Olivia yelled. None has realized she had come back from her self-induced trance. It was a moment before her words sunk in. Immediately, Arion touched a hand to Ryth's arm. He wanted to speak with him before he left Taroc. Then his long legs carried him swiftly in a short jaunt over to where the Princess was. He stopped outside Olivia's handiwork. His crimson eyes swiftly scanned everything, but he could make sense of none of the Maginus sorcery. He stepped back quickly as the skulls burst into pieces. His hand had half-reached for his sword.

    "Who is powerful enough to take th' Spiri's of Rekōdo?"

    Jinai had tried and failed. Arion had not been in Mararat for the conversation that took place with the Princess, but before anyone can give him an explanation, her body began to spasm and shake. The bindings of the chair were the only thing that kept her from falling to the floor. Arion reached behind him and twisted so that the strap of his sword lopped off his torso. He spun the blade and ran a hand along with it at it moved. His crimson eyes glowed and the sword moved and bent to the will of his magik. It took a moment and the weapon became an instrument. Immediately, he began to play.

    Arion listened to Olivia's Song, disconjointed as it was, and then to how it flowed through her Magik through the Princess. He could not hear her Soul Song. He could not hear the Spirits. Whatever held them together was broken. The Song he played would seem terribly familiar to Olivia, as if it were a part of a long hidden memory of her childhood. An important memory. One that would define the character of who she was. She would feel a wind pick up and rush past her and toward the Princess. It picked up the dust and bone fragments and spun them in a circle around the chair where the Princess was bound. Olivia, from her length of time aiding Taroc, might recognize a pattern to the dust fragments that was readable, like runes or text. Arion was using Olivia's Soul Song to strengthen what was left of her spell. It was not much. It was only one half of the Songs he needed in order to truly provide the support the Magik needed. He needed Pasce's Song, and it was one he could no longer hear. If the Spirits had moved on from her, her Song would change. He can only offer pieces of what he's heard and pieces of what he knows of Clow's Song. His fingers ache, but he commits himself to remain without fault in his music.

    Fault or not, it could only do so much. It would only hold up against the titanic forces that attacked for so long.

    She was going to die.

    Nalia moved before her thoughts completely formed. She moved as quickly as she could manage around the clutters of chairs and tables, chart work and scrolls and too many books to the dais where the Heli'Dom's telescope stood. She cradled the child of Alain LeCavalier in her womb and bent slightly. One hand grabbed the viewing chair for the massive telescope. She breathed in short breaths and closed her eyes.

    "I need your help" she whispered between breaths to the Heli'Dom."Move it. Please move it. I need-"

    The shooting pains from her hurried movements began to pass. She sighed heavily in relief and opened her eyes.

    "- I need the telescope to face the Princess."
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 02-25-2018 at 09:02 PM.
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  2. #182
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Alain LeCavalier




    The Ailes Bones: The Cross-Shaped Island...


    They came for Alain. An oncoming horde of darkness. Their only purpose is the complete destruction of the man from Taroc. However, their purpose is soon eclipsed by a force much, much more powerful than their desire for murder.

    The vortex turns its focus towards the oncoming swarm of Nightmares. The power of the all-devouring vortex grabs hold of the legions of Nightmares and pulls them into the void beyond. The vortex drinks deeply of this river of horrors. So deeply that it begins to pull them in faster than Darmon can let them through his undead form.

    Soon what was a horde that was flowing out from Darmon becomes a thread of endless, shapeless horrors that links Darmon to the vortex. It's through this thread that the vortex starts to pull Darmon. It begins to drag him towards the void. The void will devour anything it can grab onto.

    Even as his plan appears to show early signs of success, Alain cries out in pain. The energy surging in him is becoming more violent. It's stabbing through him. Burning. Pain. He has to wrap and arm around the statue in order to remain on his feet. His stone hand remains on the rod. He feels like he's on fire.

    Alain's veins can be seen as rivers of light glowing beneath his cracking skin. Small arcs of universal energy pierces out from his body and lash out at the surrounding landscape. Each of these bursts produces a new wound upon the man of Taroc.

    He could turn this energy inward, and use it to change himself into something that could heal from these injuries and harness these forces with the greatest of ease. However, the idea of empowering himself never occurs to Alain. He wouldn't dare halt his ongoing assault on Darmon and the Nightmares. All of this power will be spent in vanquishing his enemies. Saving Taroc and the world. Giving Nalia and their child a world without these dark monsters.

    Alain will sacrifice his life and the potential for godhood for that.

    The Nightmares will have been in this place a time or two. Facing a stone armed godling, who sought to use some great item of power against them. This time it is different. Every iteration of that godling always sought to claim the power for himself. He would make himself into a god, and try to use that godhood against the Nightmares. That strategy never worked. His selfish nature always proved to be his fatal flaw. It always brought him tragedy and defeat.

    Now the Nightmares face a stone armed enemy that is fighting them with selfless sacrifice.

    This iteration of their conflict is entirely unlike all others.

  3. #183
    The Island of Capios: The Great Forest before the Cliff




    Sacha, Shepherd of Souls and Aramil of Sahil, his Advisor



    It was curious that this creature allowed him a glimpse of his nature. Amid their fight, it caused the white-haired man to raise an eyebrow. Now was not the time for such fancies, though it did spark a myriad of questions in his fast-thinking brain. Not now. It was not the time. The glance he gave to the dragonoid being afterward was glazed with a shine of annoyance. He baiting him with cryptic phrases and opened internal doors as they fought. Sacha had no use for such games. He cared not for this being's preference. He came here to complete a job, not to make friends.

    Though, Sacha did feel a diminutive amount of pride at being called astute.

    And he fell right back into annoyance. Of course her knew the responsibilities of his line and work. They did not just hand out Shepherd's Crooks to anyone. Technically, he fashioned his own, as was the custom for the Temples of Liar'Adon, but there were few, if any other Shepherds of Souls left in Maginus.

    Sacha had far exceeded his quota of talking to others for the day. He was a quiet man, one of little words except the most important ones. So it was with shock that he regarded the portal made by the dragon-resembling man. He turned momentarily back to fighting and swept his
    Shepherd's Crook outward with a yell. The curled end of it sent forth a tidal wave of Spiritual energy that washed back the black tide. It was the window that Sacha needed. He planted his Crook in the ground and bowed to Vucan with his other arm planted at his side.

    ~It was an honor to fight beside you~ he offered and hesitated a moment when he rose. ~Thank you.~

    There. Nitya would be happy to know he'd not forgotten her words about how two little words can go a long way and speak volumes. If he survived this, he would have to make sure he told her. She would be most pleased.

    Sacha turned and leaped into the portal before the dark beasts could snatch him in their jaws and talons. Their cry of outrage could be heard distantly and echoing behind him as he traveled through the portal.



    -+-



    The Ailes Bones... To the Southwest: Dragon Scale Island



    Vucan's last words were considered by Sacha and stored. For a moment, he wondered if the dragonoid had sent him into a trap, but within moments, his Soul came leaping out of the portal into the thin space between the air and the choppy water of the Dragon Scale Island. On the shore, he could see Aramil standing faithfully behind his prone body. Idiotically, the hooded man waved at him as if he thought he would wave back. He could tell the Da'Jinn man looked overjoyed at his return. He would have worried for him.

    A part of Sacha hated that.

    He noted the current state of his body, how it held up without his Soul and being tertiary to the battle he fought. Then he rejoined his body. Sacha opened his eyes and blinked them several times. He swayed and Aramil grasped him strongly by both arms, but Sacha lifted a hand to wave him off. Rejoining the body after being gone from it was always disorienting and it was worse and more difficult to do successfully the longer you were away. his Advisor removed one hand, but not the other until he was sure Sacha was well enough to stand.

    "What news from the Women's Island?" he asked hurriedly as if mentioning it would bring down all its unholy darkness upon their heads. Aramil's brown eyes remained on him. They afforded the blighted island no more of their gaze. Sacha's lips pursed.

    "It is overrun, but they fight still" he reported grimly. "I was able to send Ancestors to Shepherd many that still lived, but there was so much loss."

    Sacha registered nearby sounds of battle and looked quickly down the debris-strewn beach.

    ~The Shamaa?~ he asked, already staring forward. Aramil fell into equivalent pace beside him and slightly behind. Something he hated but the man insisted upon. An old Eastern custom.

    "They battle the dark monsters. They came from the sea and up from the earth like grass shoots after the rains."

    Sacha's speed increased to a dead run.



    -+-






    Fateema of Ordh'u and Merriam of Clow, Sisters of Enchantry


    Merriam helped to lay Fateema down on the debris-strewn back. She shoved away any driftwood in the way and smoothed out the pebbles and rocks as best she could. She was gingerly, if not loving as she laid her friend down. Merriam adjusted the shawl about Fateema's head and knelt beside her. Her brown eyes watched amid strands of her drying, graying light brown hair. The crack of thunder and lightning made her turn and stare with horror at the light show in the distance. What in Liar'Adon's starry heaven could cause such a vast amount of power and light to appear? Merriam shivered, not realizing it was a side effect of the land beneath her shivering too. Merriam turned her back to the light and focused on where she could do some good: Fateema. She dug into the sand with her hands until the light of the Shamaa Dream Speakers shone forth. She carved into the sand all around her Sister's body until she was surrounded by the light of the Dream World. She moaned and thrashed her head. Sweat dotted her brow and her fingers twitched convulsively with whatever nightmares she was being forced to watch. Her almond-shaped brown eyes were opened wide and staring fixedly in frozen horror. Merriam sat back and watched Aala as she tended to Fateema.

    She was so focused on her suffering Sister that she failed to notice the Spirits behind her. A plump woman and a taller, thinner man hovered behind Merriam of Clow. They were dressed in the simple clothes of ranchers. Merriam had grown up on a farm that bred Taroc horses before moving to Clow to so that Merriam could complete her studies. The farm had been left in the care of other family. By the look of it, she had inherited almost everything of her mother except her eyes. Those belonged to her father. She had always been a child dedicated to whatever she set her heart and mind to. They watched her with love. Both reached to place a transparent hand upon their daughter's burdened shoulders. Under their touch, Merriam visibly relaxed with a soft exhale.

    She looked up suddenly when Branwen asked if she saw them.

    "I'm sorry?" she said, confused. "Saw who?"

    But before Branwen could answer her, she did see her. A young girl with a bright smile and almond eyes. She was much younger than Fateema was now, just barely on the threshold of womanhood. Merriam went very still and sat up very slowly as if she were afraid she'd startle the Spirit that sat opposite her across Fateema. She stared at Merriam and smiled. There was a hint of what, in life, would have been rich, dark hair beneath a shawl that wrapped her head.

    "Mahlah" the Enchantress whispered with surprise and emotion. Her eyes watered and her crow's feet walked out from the corners of her eyes as she smiled at the young girl. Merriam turned her head just slightly so that her voice carried better in Branwen's direction.

    "I never knew her myself. I wish I had" the Enchantress began. A lump formed in her throat and changed the course of her voice. "She was Fateema's sister."

    The girl was smiling as she returned her gaze down to her sister. Her hands touched her shawl, much in the same manner Merriam had: adjusting, covering with gentleness and doting and love. The girl had a few freckles on her cheeks and eyes that, in life had been full of light and intelligence. She could not have been more than twelve, not a child any longer but not yet a woman. It was a dangerous age for a girl of Da'Jinn.

    "Fateema's people are from a village that no longer exists. As it was told to me, its population had been all but destroyed in the Great War thanks to the curse of a Maginus Wizard. What men survived the plague went to kill the Wizard, but never returned. The women and children had to manage on their own. They struggled and some survived and learned their people's elemental ways of magik. It was Fateema who discovered a vein of elemental energy just far enough from their cursed village to start anew. She summoned the first Water Efreet. Then she began to teach the others how to detect, summond and manipulate the elements of the world around them. They began to thrive in their new village. Aljana, they called it. Paradise."

    The Spirit that had been named as Mahlah looked up at Merriam. Her intense eyes, as intense and unwavering as Fateema's watched her as she told their story.

    "They were discovered by a wealthy merchant as he traveled from Mararat to Ordh'u. Naturally, as it is among the East anyway, he claimed them as part of his harem. All of them. Fateema would not see her people imprisoned after their deep draught of freedom. They resisted."

    Merriam swallowed something back into her chest, but the sound of her aching heart leaked into her voice still.

    "He had most of them killed, beat and chained the ones he favored. Fateema-" she took a needed moment. There was something raw in her voice now. Pure, unbridled anguish. "- Fateema watched the merchant have his way with her sister and then slit her throat before her eyes. It was her punishment, among other acts he performed upon her, for her insolence."

    The Spirit-sister of Fateema had a soft sadness in her eyes. They still focused intently on Merriam, but the sadness of the story of Aljah was without comparison. Merriam wiped at her cheeks and smeared them with her moisture.

    "If it were not for Enchantry and the haven Nalia offered them there, the people of Aljah would be just a story told to scare women and little girls into submission to their patriarchs."

    The last was said with bitterness, but she felt a lightness returning to her, a comforting warmth that spread from her shoulders down to-

    Merriam turned quickly to look behind her, but whatever odd sensation she'd felt that someone had been directly behind her turned out to be just that : a sensation and nothing more. The Spirits that came to her had gone. A sound of screeching and grating hatred caused Merriam to turn back around. Someone was running toward them. Two people. Two men and their incoming presence caused the Nightmares to roar with anger. They fumbled and frothed through the clumsily sand and directed themselves at the two men. The two men engaged the Nightmares and Merriam watched for a moment before answering Branwen's question. Her answer began with a shake of her head.

    "Save your magik for those truly in need. Mine is just spent and I am, as of yet, uninjured."

    She took her eyes from the two men and looked at Branwen. She bowed her head as far as her plump frame would allow her while kneeling beside Fateema.

    "I am Merriam of the Enchantry Guild. I hail from Clow in Taroc. My Sister is Fateema of Ord'hu. We are indebted to you and to Shamaa for your services to us."

    Suddenly, a giant Efreet of water rose up from the surf and waves and slapped a hoard of Nightmares far out into the sea with a swing of a hammer-shaped fist. One of the man, in what her eyes perceived as dark blue robes, manipulated the elemental summons. The other, a man with the same robes, but shockingly white hair, split the air in waves of violet blue light and ancient, old runes. Merriam blinked several times and then stood to get a better look. Her face changed suddenly.

    "Are they of Maginus and Da'Jinn?" she asked in a raised voice. Sisters aside, there was little love for either province among the Enchantresses of Capios at the moment. It was theirs that had attacked and ruined their city just days ago. Suddenly, Fateema began to wretched. Her chest and body heaved until dark, tarry pitch bubbled and curdled up from her mouth. Merriam dropped back down to the sand with a cry and rolled her Sister onto her side. Fateema coughed and choked up the thick, steaming pitch. It sizzled and burned as it hit the white light glowing on the beach. The more Aala worked her dream magik, the more the poison lurched forth from within her.

    A second sound came from the water. A great cry of something high pitched and angry. The water bubbled and frothed. Nightmares screamed. Hints of scaled flashed in the water, spears and tridents that gleamed and glowed. The O'aris had come to rid their seas of the putrid blights that infected them. Slowly the Nightmare presence upon the beach from the water dwindled to a trickle and then a crawl.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 03-06-2018 at 07:40 PM.

  4. #184
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Commander Colina Weir



    The Ailes Bones... To the Southwest: Dragon Scale Island


    It would seem this is not only a night that pure terror walks Emporium, but also a night of ghosts. The spirit magic cast on Capios is caught on the winds of the chaos magic that flows through the isles, and spreads to even the island the Shamaa battle Nightmares. Soon the long departed ancestors of those struggling for life hear the call and march back into the living realm to aid their descendant. For some it might be distant or long lost relations. For Colina Weir it's not so distant.

    Colina has traded her rifle, which she slings onto her back, for her pistol. The pistol is better suited for these close quarters battles. If any of the shambling monsters gets closer than pistol range she gives them a taste of her elemental hatchet.

    It is in the heat of battle that Colina sees them. The specters of those she lost in the Great War. She was just a child then. So young, yet perfectly willing to pick up a rifle and help protect the family home. Everyone did all they could to fight off the Maginus invaders. Her older brother, who was struck down by a Maginus Dark Knight. Her mother, who died a slow death at the hands of a Maginus hex plague. Her twin cousins, whose own family had perished when their village burned down, were both claimed by Maginus artillery. Her father, who was paralyzed early on in the War. The family sought to care for him, but with so few left to care for him he decided he was too great of a burden on them. He used his one good hand to operate a pistol and end his own life.

    They're all here now. Spirits of lost family. They surround Colina, and form a barrier separating her from the Nightmares seeking to claw out her entrails. Colina freezes up at the sight of her lost family. The pains of the Great War stabs at her anew. There are days she can forget how much the loss of her loved ones hurts, but seeing them manifested here makes forgetfulness an impossible feat.

    Colina begins with pained confusion. She questions why they're here. How? Is it the Nightmares? No. The spirits are attacking the Nightmares. Colina then trades the confusion for anger. She sniffs the air. This is Maginus hoodoo. She can almost detect its stink. It's that Maginus priest. He's dong this to her. To them.

    Colina knows all one needs to know about the Maginus people, they taught her during the Great War. The Maginus think the dead can be used as their soldiers, servants, and playthings. They have no respect for the soul or for the natural order of things. Dragging ghosts into the world and making them perform tricks is what these Maginus monsters love doing.

    Colina looks past the spirits, past the Nightmares, and tries to catch sight of that Maginus priests. She doesn't see him. If she had, Colina would have been tempted to grab her rifle and end his trickery with a single elemental bullet through his skull.


    "It's okay," the ghost of Colina's father reassures his angry daughter. "We wanted to be here, he only opened the door."

    Colina, certain that these are words conjured by Maginus sorcery and not her father genuinely speaking, only glares at the ghost. She can't accept this. Maginus took them all away, and now Maginus is dragging their ghosts out and making them dance like puppets.

    She reaches into her tunic and recovers a small leather pouch with arcane runes stitched onto its surface. The inside of the pouch is filled with sacred herbs and the ashes of the church of Colina's home village, which Maginus burned down. Colina holds out the pouch and snarls out the words her cousin, a Taroc mystic and only living relative, taught her. There's a small flash of golden light from the pouch, and the ghosts of Colina's family fade back into the ether.

    Colina mutters a brief prayer for them, and hopes they can continue their rest without the further interference of Maginus pigs.

    With the barrier of ghosts out of their way, the horde of Nightmares rushes at Colina. She replies with a small smirk. She welcomes the hordes. She needs someone to direct this anger at. There aren't any Maginus fools to gun down or strangle, so Colina will gladly redirect her rage at these monsters. With her pistol and hatchet, Colina begins to slice and blast her way through the horde. Tonight the Nightmares will feel a wrath that Maginus has been fueling ever since Colina was a young child burying one loved on after another.

  5. #185
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Verona Aliester, Eliona & Commander Filip Ryth




    Above Faraking Island: The Heli'Dom...


    The Heli'Dom shakes. Eliona is startled when Verona grabs her by the forearm and begins to pull her across the room. The Astral woman isn't sure why she's being pulled away. She's a healer. Even without her light she could try to help Pasce. Surely, the healers of the other provinces have been able to do good without ever knowing the white light of Astral.

    Verona is pulling Eliona away, because she knows why the Heli'Dom is shaking like this. She knows what's about to happen, and wants to ensure Eliona doesn't get hurt.

    The telescope is several tons of metal, lenses, mirrors, and intricate machinery. It was only ever designed to point up and out. No one ever thought it would need to be pointed inward. Now the Heli'Dom is going to do what the architects, construction crews, and telescope technicians never thought would ever happen. It is doing this all because Nalia told it to. The ancient structure has always liked Nalia.

    The Heli'Dom shakes as it seeks to move the steel girders supporting the telescope. It's twisting and moving the telescope platform. In doing so the skin of stone walls begins to crumble and collapse.

    As the stone walls inside of the main observatory begins to break apart and collapse, Ryth is standing in the midst of the destruction. His pistol is in his hand. He begins firing round after round of elemental bullets. These bullets are charged with the element of earth. The falling stone is captured by this elemental energy and reshaped. Ryth shapes the destroyed walls into patches of stone to seal up the breaks in the wall and heal the damage being done to the inside of the room. His bullets don't reach the damage being done outside, but repair crews can handle that. Ryth only ensures that no stone comes crashing down on those within the room.

    Meanwhile, the platform Nalia and the massive telescope sit upon twists itself around. What was designed to gaze upon the heavens is now aimed only at the dying princess. Mirrors and lenses within the telescope twist and flip, seeking to properly align themselves to focus upon something that is very, very close.

  6. #186
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Olivia Kuhrson



    Above Faraking Island: The Heli'Dom...


    Olivia lets out a savage growl as she tosses the arcane mirror aside. Her tricks aren't working. She's losing the princess, and with her any last embers of hope for Alaina and Nalia also dies.

    The necromancer runs to her bag. The magical bag is like Alain's coat, it can hold vast amounts of items. She reaches into it. The bag gives a shudder as Olivia pulls out a large scythe. The weapon has a handle of polished onyx. The blade is a blackened, burning soul of something not recognizable as ever being human.

    It's the Ultrix Mortuis, one of the thirteen forbidden weapons of the modern world. It's said the weapon hates life so much that any living thing that touches it will burn for nine years before death eventually takes pity upon them. Legend claims that a Maginus lich once used the Ultrix Mortius to lay siege upon Da'Jinn's realm of genie, seeking to take the secrets of wish magic from them and become a god. The lich was destroyed by an army of jinn, and his weapon was thought lost forever.

    Olivia found it in the deserts of Da'Jinn. It was in a cave, being worshipped by a group of insane and devolved desert nomads. Slaying those men was a mercy.

    Olivia storms up to the magical power that her magic is manifesting in the shape of a spectral dragons claw. Olivia jabs the bladed end of the scythe into the claw of power. She pushes at her enemy's magical power with all of her might. The unholy scythe she wields directs cold, necromantic power at the souls stealing force.

    This scythe could slice a fully armored Maginus Dark Knight in half. It's dark power could set an entire army of undead fiends ablaze. In this moment, when Olivia needs its vast magical might to perform a miracle, it is not enough. The most she can do is slow down the process. She can only delay and annoy her enemy.

    All of her necromantic knowledge, and the mightiest weapon in her arsenal, is meaningless in the moment its needed the most.

    Olivia screams a primal roar and pushes even harder. In the end her titanic efforts might achieve nothing, but she won't give up trying.

  7. #187
    The Island of Capios: In the Heart of the City, by the Seven White Pillars



    Dyani of the Border Forests



    Distantly, she heard her Animal Spirit let loose a cry. Its voice echoed through the air and, again, Dyani found herself calling out to answer. As her group ran to the third and then second pillars, they collected those left there and added their strength to what they already had. Wielders of light were placed at the group's center, the barrier keepers around the outside and the fighters outside the barriers to fend off the Nightmares that came for them. Their numbers were unending, but they had aide now. Shamaa had come and so had their kin. The light they left in their wake as they trod upon the Dream-soaked ground, would light the way for Kali and her group. It offered them some relief from the dark things around them.

    "Sisters!" she cried as they approached the first pillar. It was closest to where to broad thorough-fair of white stone ended and a street that ran along the length of the forest and down into the city below and above the pillars began. In the distance, beyond the first pillar, there was an entryway of trees alit. It was the beacon of Laelis's make. Her home, Lymes in Astral was on the southern-most edge of the Hundred Year Plains. At Lymes, the plains met the southern forests. It was beautiful, if a bit country for the more sophisticated of Astral's society. Laelis loved trees. It was one of the few things on which she and Dyani could relate.

    The first pillar was in bad shape.

    There were several fallen oozing black pitch from the orifices of their heads. Several more lay dead. The shields held aloft by what Sisters remained were weak. As they drew closer she could see that it was only a Single sister and a handful of Novices that held the pillar. The Nightmares could easily have broken through their barriers, which flickered weakly with the women's growing fears. They baited them, cajoled, taunted so that their mean was the most ripe.

    "Hurry!" Dyani yelled to the others. She was a swift runner and pulled ahead of the group. Her Spirit Animal, still flying with Kali's group, let out a sharp cry. it dove down by Kali and sailed beside her. It's mythical eyes stared hard at the dragoness. In its large pupils, Kali would see what Dyani sees.

    There is a wall of darkness that is trying to tear apart tear apart the beacons set out by Laelis. If the beacons fall, the Nightmares will swarm the forest and be an unstoppable force upon the entrance to The Caverns. Nalia's wards will fall and everyone there will die.



    -+-



    The Island of Capios, Below the White Palace: The Caverns




    Evalynn Agravaine of Maginus, Shalla of Tuah and Laelis of Lymes



    It was not her sisters who came first, but Vucan as he re-appeared beside her. She looked rattled indeed, for she was one attuned to Spirits and the flood of their presence came upon her in waves of throbbing, Universal energy as it was discharged from its point of release several miles to the Northwest. She breathed thickly, heavily in labored inhales as she tried to process everything her senses told her. It was impossible.

    Distantly, she felt the Dire Wolves as they battled the dark things that plagued the island. They were a mystery to her. She could not see their Spirits, she could not read their Souls. They were like a blindspot to her, an emptiness where something should have been. If they had Ancestors come to aid them, she could not sense them. When Vucan spoke to her, Evalynn remained very still for a long moment afterward.

    ~What is causing this?~ she told him in a quiet mental voice. Evalynn's blue eyes looked from the Nightmares that attacked Nalia's well-fortified barriers to Vucan. Along the left side of her face were scars from her temple down her neck. They were runes. Spells. Evalynn's eyes were keen, intelligent. As she looked to the dragonoid man, she reached and touched his arm. Her touch was light and delicate.

    ~Kali? Dyani?~ she called to her Sisters. ~Shalla... Can you hear me?~



    -+-



    The Island of Capios: The Docks at the Bay of Capios




    The Dire Wolves of the Ailes



    In Lydmila's travels she will hear their cries: Long, drawn howls of communication and, as they drew near to the source of the explosions at the docs the snapping and growling of battles. The Dire Wolves of the Ailes, flanked by human Ancestors that no one but they can see, find the dark things and tear them apart. The area surrounding Lydmila is a chorus of wolven sounds and Nightmare screeches and they are gathering closer. Then, bursting forth from one of many mini-forests untouched within the island, came the first wolf, the Alpha. He froze in the middle of the white-stoned roadway at the sight of a living being. They were all supposed to have gone to the forests that hid the Caverns.

    The Wolf raised its proud head. Coudl the dark things create life-like illusions that could fool even them. He stayed terribly still. His crimson eyes were entirely focuse don Lydmila. Then, slowly, he lifted his head and sniffed the air as the winds blew in his favor. Then, perhaps surprisingly, she would feel him give her a shove. It was a psychic nudge, but stronger, as if someone had physically shoved her back to see what sort of stuff she was made of.

    She was, indeed, real.

    This made the wolf more curious. But then the pack came tumbling out from the woods. A dozen, at least, maybe more. Like the Alpha, they were solids black with crimson eyes and massive. They all stopped and stared at her. The Alpha's ears moved, as of they were communicating to each other silently. They all gave her a psychic poke, like a child being tickled. Then there the earth beneath them shook. They flattened slightly as a unit and looked south to the bay. More shaking, more explosions. Their keen ears picked up on something that could not be heard. Then tails began to lift and wag like ebony flags. An excitement grew among the Dire Wolves. Their tongues hung out of the sides of their mouths in excitement and fatigue from their brawling now that they'd stopped. Several shifted on massive paws. An eagerness took over the collective of wolves. Then, finally, on some unheard signal, the pack took off after the sounds of canon fire. Their howls of elation preceded their arrival. The last time they had seen the undead ship was on the beach of a different Aile as they began their masquerade as the female Nalia in order to run astray the fleet of Maginus. The thought of a savory, skeletal leg also caused some extra excitement among the pack.

    A few remained behind. A half dozen, a handful. The Alpha remained. He'd gone back to staring at Lydmila. Beside him stood warriors who were his kin, his brethren long past. They wore the wild garb of tribes, war paints and leggings. They all had long hair, some tied back, some free flowing. They all had crimson eyes and wolfish grins when they smiled. They held swords, spears, bows of lacquered woods native to their lands and they wore horns imbedded in their bodies, some small, like thorns, some larger like a bull. Each wore theirs in their own fashion, like ridges on their spines, to accent certain parts of their body, to enhance others and all had their lineage tattooed upon their arm. They paused to stare at the sniper from Taroc. They were males, all of them, as were their wolf-kin in the living world. But, unlike their living brethren, the world was blind to their sight.

    The Alpha Wolf's psyche nudged Lydmila's strong psychic defenses again. It would feel as if he were circling her but it was purely for study, not hunger.

  8. #188
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Lieutenant Lydmila Pavlich




    The Island of Capios...


    Lydmila had makes her way over the main street of the city for a short time before she feels a calling towards the east. She ducks between buildings and made her way through a maze of small warehouses. The city around her is chaos. It's damaged or ruined buildings, Nightmares lurking in the shadows, azure animal spirits stalking through the air, and the hints of departed souls haunted these streets. It's a world gone mad. If Lydmila's life didn't include experiences such as riding on a ship of undead pirates she might feel overwhelmed by it all.

    As she stalks her way through the warehouse district, Lydmila feels the poking and prodding at her psyche. She pauses, and braces herself against a brick building. Lydmila raises her rifle and peers through the scope. She scans her surroundings with her prophetic sight. It doesn't take long for her mystical senses to follow the mental inspections back to their source. Her scope shows her men in the form of wolves... Or wolves in the form of men. As if this city of tormented madness didn't have enough strangeness already.

    Lydmila has had some experience with wolves. After the Great War she spent several months in Shamaa. She needed to find her peace after the war, and the Shamaa people helped her along that path. Through them she became acquainted with her animal spirit, a sunset wolf. Aglow with crimson. Stars shining in its eyes. Alone and ever watching for its prey on the horizon.

    Lydmila pushes at the nudging wolves. A playful gesture, to show them she can give as good as they can. Any further attempts to test her mental barriers will result in her mind rolling or hopping out of the way and trying to test the wolves right back.

    This psychic roughhousing is soon halted as Lydmila once again feels the call of something. The wolves might get a sense of her tracking something. It's as if some moment in the future is her prey, and she is stalking through the city to find it. Lydmila slides off of the wall and continues through the maze of warehouses.

    Eventually, she climbs up a half collapsed structure and continues her prowl over the rooftops. This eventually brings her to the point in space she is seeking, though not the point in time. She arrives at a crater that had once been one of the many totem studying facilities of Enchantry. This research facility had been built in one of the restored ancient ruins that occupied so much of this island. Something about this place seems familiar to Lydmila.

    Currently, this wrecked place is occupied by a swarm of Nightmare beasts. These creatures seem to be wearing the bodies of the dead. They have squeezed their oily, shadow forms inside of corpses, and are wearing them as armor to protect them from the glow of Shamaa dream magic. All Lydmila sees are inhuman monsters committing one blasphemy after another.

    From her perch atop a warehouse, the dozens of Nightmares look much like ants. They are moving and working as one. They appear to be constructing something in the middle of the crater. They move about, feeding in building materials to a central point, and dutifully adding it to their creation. The building materials are parts of the fallen people of Enchantry as well as scavenged totems from all over the city.

    Lydmila raises her rifle, aims it towards the crater, and peers through her scope. In the scope she sees truth. Horrible truth.

    In their native realm, there are beings known as Nightmare Lords. Beings of great power that rule over each circle of their realm. Kings of realms within the realm. They are the gods of their own domain.

    If the Nightmares hope to expand into a new realm, they will need a Lord to hold domain over that new circle. They are building a new Nightmare Lord out of parts of the dead and the power of the totems. If such a being were to be brought into existence it would be more powerful than any Nightmare creature anyone has encountered.

    Lydmila is tempted to fire her rifle and destroy these beasts with elemental power. However, like ants that have their hill trampled, they will swarm upon the destroyer and then simply continue on with their work. Lydmila can only slow them down. In order to bring an end to this unholy work she will need more firepower than her rifle can offer.

    She takes her eye away from the scope, and gazes out over the horrible scene with her own eyes. That's when she sees him. A slender man she met almost a decade ago. A slender, blonde man of Astral. She recalls his name immediately; Elvio.

    He's not the man she met so long ago. He fell victim to the madness that consumed all men living in Capios, and was exiled from Enchantry. That exile had separated him from the totems he was obsessed with. This drove him down the path of genuine madness. That madness must have brought him to his death, or near death, in the waters around Enchantry. And now he stands among the hordes of corpse-wearing Nightmares. He is a pale grey shell of a creature. He looks more dead than alive. And his frame is twisted and swollen with the signs of being infested by a Nightmare beast, however some small spark of life lingers in him. In his life, Elvio had been a healer. A bearer of the white light. Perhaps that gift has allowed some ember of him to remain in what should be a corpse.

    This tiny hint of life allows the body of the man to resist the control of the Nightmare that occupies him. He resists its instinct to help build a new lord, and instead the twisted and decayed form that was once Elvio stands huddled by a wrecked wall. He holds a silver and brass music box to his chest.

    The sight of this nearly dead man holding the box almost brings Lydmila to tears.

    Lydmila recalls that box. Elvio had told her about it when they met. It belonged to his grandmother. It's a totem of unknown origin. In fact, his grandmother knew nothing about where it came from, what it did, or how to open it. All that was known was that it was in their family for ages and it was a totem. However, the grandmother did not let this lack of knowledge stop her from making up stories about it and telling it to her grandchild. Stories that kept the child entertained for hours and hours.

    Elvio loved those stories. And so he eventually developed a desire to find a way to open that box, so he could find out what is inside, and he could have a story of his own to tell.

    When he was exiled from Enchantry, his beloved music box must have been mixed in with the collection of totems kept in this research facility. He must have been cut off from it all of these years. Either his madness kept him from realizing it was gone, or fate conspired to keep it from him. Either way, now in his almost dead and Nightmare infected state he is at least reunited with his lost music box. There must be enough of his mind left over for him to instinctively seek out and recover the box.

    Lydmila steels herself from the tragedy of this one man. She can't let it overwhelm her. There is work to do. She looks back into her scope and aims it towards the thing that had once been Elvio. Her gift of prophesy shows her the truth of the music box. Lydmila closes her eyes and turns away from the crater. She sits down on the warehouse roof. Lydmila now knows how Elvio's story will end. It's her grim duty to help him down that path.

    She reaches out with her telepathy. His mind is like wet, rotted sludge at this point. Only some cruel twist of fate and magic has allowed his body and mind to survive this long. Lydmila shudders as she must dig through the mess. It's vile and heartbreaking all at once. Eventually she finds some circuits of awareness. The instincts that brought what is left of the man back to this place, and to the music box he loved so much. She takes this rare living part of him and feeds it information and motivation. She shows him that there is a phantom key hidden on the box. The key only responds when the holder of the box is aware of it and turns it in just the right way.

    The mostly dead Elvio reaches a decayed hand to the side of the box, and begins twisting at a spectral key, just like Lydmila is instructing him. The key responds to the correct movements, and the mechanisms within the ancient music box are wound back to life.

    Moments later the lid of the box clicks open and Elvio's story comes to an end.

    Inside of the ancient box is tiny dancer carved of glass, twirling around with effortlessly carved grace. The mechanisms inside of the box begin playing a simple, playful melody that none have heard in thousands of years. As the tune plays, the glass dancer begins to glow. It's a golden light. A light of the purest celestial brilliance. It's the light of fantasies, peace, and joy.

    Even when this light didn't shine, it's contained potential was enough to inspire a grandmother to imagine thousands of wondrous stories to tell her beloved grandchild. Now as the light is freed for the first time in ages, it fills the crater and the maze of warehouses. It shines pure happiness and imagination.

    Lydmila, who still has her eyes closed and is facing away from the Nightmare hordes, hears the screams of dozens of Nightmares. They're shrill, primal screams that only lasts a few moments before falling silent. In fact everything in the crater falls silent. There's no more noise until Lydmila hears the clatter of the music box falling to the ground. The fall snaps the lid shut once more. The glow and the music comes to a halt.

    Lydmila takes a deep breath, opens her eyes, and rises to look back down into the crater. The hordes are gone. Only the bodies of the dead remain. Whatever Nightmares had been wearing and animating them are now gone. Their vile, unholy presence had been cancelled out by the light.

    Lydmila looks towards the music box. It is crumbling apart. It was only ever meant to summon the light for one person. generating enough light to annihilate all of those Nightmares had been too much for the artifact. Now the music box is just a pile of silver and brass shards, and gears crumbling to dust.

    Eventually, Lydmila finds Elvio. He's dead. Whatever forces, dark or light, had been keeping him going are now gone.

    Kneeling beside the man is the spirit of an old woman in Astral robes. She runs a loving hand through his hair. Elvio brought her his story. She smiles to her departed grandchild, hopeful that she will see him soon in the realms beyond. The old spirit gives one glance and a smile to Lydmila, and then fades from this world.

    Years ago, Lydmila could sense that there was no happy ending to Elvio's story. She knows in life he was only ever fated for madness, misery, and finally being used as a host by Nightmares or a weapon by her. However, she prays that his happy ending awaits him in his afterlife. Perhaps there he will find the happiness life denied him.

  9. #189
    The Cliffs of Maginus, on the Shore of the Sea of Rekōdo



    Caldur Eirikson of Isolert and his Six Brothers


    "Hex!"

    The feeling of air being shifted and pressed in massive quantities muffled the sound, but Bothvar's voice seemed to find a pocket between the ear-bursting movements to shout out to his brothers. They saw it just before it hit: a lightning-like snake of a spell that zigzagged and shot its way through the magik they weaved and tethered to the massive powers within the Princess of Rekōdo. It came right at them.
    Gunnar and Bothvar broke from the groups surrounding Caldur. The two brothers stood back to back and circled. An opposite hand from each man each clasped together behind their backs and the other went outstretched as if feeling for something. Bothvar held two fingers up on his extended arm and narrowed his brown and gold-flecked eyes.

    A stone lifted up from the snow-covered grasses and hurled itself at Bothvar's head. He pulled on Gunnar's arm and the other brother swung around. A fireball of blue and gold magik erupted from his palm and flew at the invisible poltergeists that had thrown the rock.

    "My favorite" Gunnar grunted as his golden-hazel eyes scanned the terrain. Bothvar let out a short, gruff sound of agreement as another stone hurled itself their way. This time, Gunnar swung and Bothvar fired.

    More volleys came, with boulders as large as small buildings being torn from the earth to be sent at them.

    "We need to disperse them!" Bothvar yelled. "The others cannot be disturbed."

    Gunnar lifted two fingers in the air, as Bothvar had done. He grunted and swung Bothvar around and as they moved, their finger lit the air up with runes that glowed hotly, like the scorching inside of a fire's flame. When the spell was set and they remained inside its circle, they whispered the incantations aloud. Their voices, though soft, echoed off the not too distant Swells and rebounded back. The runes glowed scorchingly as the brothers released their conjoined hands and thrust the spell outward. It flared to life and roared forward with the force of a tidal wave in all directions.

    The emerald stone-eyes of the Dragon Staff began to glow more brightly. Caldur's outstretched hand began to shake as he drew more from himself and the others at the sudden absence of Bothvar and Gunnar.

    "Do you have them, Cal?" Evyind hollered above the noise of their great movement.

    "Not all" he said with a strained but calm voice. "Keep going."

    He closed his eyes, three of them followed suit, but Baerd's eyes remained opened. Their dark gray-blue hues narrowed. The golden hints at their edges shone lightly.

    "Something else comes."

    "What more?" the elder Gunnar asked as he and Bothvar returned to their leader's side.

    "Something dark" Roneth exhaled sharply. It was then that Cladur Eirikson let out a long and pain-filled yell. His grip on the Dragon Staff tightened and the cliffs where they stood quaked as if the earth itself were groaning.

    "Cal-" Eyvind shouted as a residual agony crept into the limb that linked he to his brother. "We must let her go!"

    "No!" he shouted back. "I will not let the Spirits return to The Masters of Rekōdo."

    Häming slid up to stand on Caldur's right. He wrapped his dark-skinned hand around his eldest brother's. As he clasped his hand over Cal's, Roneth came up on Caldur's left. The exotic eyes stared straight ahead, across the waters and mists and islands. Due west. Both of the men, appearing to have inherited more Da'Jinn traits from their mothers than they had Maginus from their father's held in their palms a golden fate coin from the eastern province. They pressed it into the back of Caldur's hand and held it there hard with the grip of a vice.

    "Keep going" Häming's smooth voice rolled into Caldur's ear.

    Gunnar and Bothvar reconnected with Caldur with hands placed on his shoulder. The fate coins glowed a hot, bright gold against between their joined hands. The tokens protected the fate of those it touched so that not even death could harm them, but it would wear off the instant it ceased to touch the person's skin. They could be used only once and the spell was so powerful that the coin burnt itself out when done and became a useless coin of gold.


    "Harder" Caldur repeated his command to his brothers. "More."

  10. #190
    The Ailes Bones: The Cross-Shaped Island


    Darmon_Aged.jpeg

    Darmon, The Returned



    There were so many of them.

    When he opened the door he so longed-for and treasured, it was like he'd given birth to darkness itself. A wave of pain as they began to push through the opening he'd given them nearly drove him to his knees once more upon the blight earth of the island, but he was saved by a rush of euphoria once the dam had been opened and the building pressure behind it released.

    They'd been pressing at that door, to test the psyche of the undead man since he was reborn. They had wanted out, to lay simple and swift ruination to all of Emporium, but he had not allowed it. No, he'd declared, once he'd had his way with the targets of his wrath and revenge, then and only then would he let them go. They were to help him achieve everything he desired first, and then he would give them every want of theirs. Here, on the precipice of one of those glorious achievements, he released them. He had not counted on Alain LeCavalier knowing about a well-hidden Totem upon this island. He had only and ever-wantingly counted on his torture, destruction, and demise at his hands. He was no longer bound to the rules of the living world. He held the dark power of Nalia al'Vatar in his grasp. What could possibly stop him? A golden, outlined door outlined itself behind Darmon and opened itself like a champoin defending its title to the starry portal.

    Greed.

    Opening the Nightmare door here and now had been a mistake. Had he truly understood the nature of this odd, half-tipped statue of a God-like man, he would never had allowed Alain LeCavalier to lead him here. He could have waited him out, let the man succumb to the infection within him before scooping him up to be finished with all the ceremony and delight his twisted mind could offer. In life, he was not a patient man and such followed him even to his death. If he had listened more carefully to the wisdom of his raven-haired pupil, if he had taken greater care to find wisdom in her work and not abhor it simply for being hers, his situation now might have been completely different. Of course, no such thoughts ran through his mind. Rage did. Pure, unbridled rage at the man before him. He was no longer bound by humanity and the Returned Man was more consumed by his own rage now than he had been in life. There was no restraint. No notion of consequence. Simply rage and desire.

    Darmon thrust his hands forth toward Alain and his infected eyes and Nightmare mangled mouth let out a yell that was half his and half the demons being released. As the void swallowed them without mercy, Darmon threw more at Alain. Darkness erupted from the door in such fast numbers that it simply looked like dark vomit. Fleeting images of shapes, of claws, teeth, eyes, conscious flew by in an eye-blink, but not a single one found his hated enemy. As soon as the spew of darkness and fear came to him, they were pulled sharply and inescapably into the starry field beyond the statue's door. It is like a man of drink taking a draught of the forbidden liquid he's so desired for so long. Somethings grabbed onto the dark legions he controlled and pulled deeply of them. He felt it in his innermost core and his body rocked forward with the forces of it. It is like a swollen river seeking to suck him downstream. How fast the Nightmares come from the door is suddenly and alarmingly no longer under his control. The Returned Man's eyes look up and through the tunnel of screeching, screaming darkness that rushes by all around him he sees the starry void. He feel himself being pulled in to its damning tease of darkness and light. The hunger of this shapeless vaccuum will be his end. He can feel it coming for him again: a death from which there would be no escape. No vengeance. No elation at the ruination of those he so hates and desires most. His feet, braced against the pull in soil of the earth, begin to slid. He leaves a streak in the earth behind him as the pull become too great to deny.

    Soon both the Undead Man from Maginus and his forever rival are both crying out. The pull is becoming too great. He is going into the stars. He hates the stars. He hates the man who can read them. The single thought came to him swiftly. He would be damned before he's trapped in a world of the bits of light that Alain LeCavalier loves so much. The hold he has on the door of Nightmares claws at him, as if it were alive and desperately trying to cling to him to avoid such a fate. Darmon grits his teeth. Violet lightning crackled violently in the fists he clenched at his sides. He threw his head back and roared in anger. The earth shook beneath him. Cracks burst forth in the ground beneath his feet. His blackened, glowing violet eyes open as he thrusts forth his hands to Alain. The earth rips itself up as the door behind him looses itself from it hold of this world. There is a chorus of millions of shrieks and cries as the Nightmare door lifts up from the ground and flies forth. It sweeps through Darmon and passed through him as if he were not there and then slams itself into the void. For a heartbeat in time, the massive door of darkness blocked the damning pull of the void before a horrible sound of living Nightmare beings snapped, bent and crushed filled the air. Their cries ring out and blot out all other sound until the void has its way with the splintered portal and sucks it into its starry void.

    In the end, it is his greed that is his undoing in death just as it had been in life. It was, as it always had been, his most fatal flaw.

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