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> Items of Worldly Might! The last hope.
06/12/2007 5:37 AM
The letters were received in the strangest of ways. They were most often produced from the pockets and pouches of the people they were intended for, though these containers were much to small for the piece of velum that came out. The words appeared to be burnt into place, and the signature and seal were unmistakable.
In the interest of saving our world from the growing hordes of evil, I have decided to take you on a journey. I invite you to walk where no mortal man has ever stood before, and retrieve items my breatheren and me once thought to dangerous for the world to control. If you are willing to learn more, please visit me in my keep. I'm sure you know the way to Dagger's End.
Eldest Gold Dragon
Dagger's End was nothing more than a staircase that climbed the impossibly tall mountain that Talios called home. It jutted out of one of the few plains where things could still grow. His keep rested on top of the mountain, and if you could climb the stair, Talios would agree to entertain you for a time. Many had tried, with varying degrees of success, and those who survived said it took them anywhere from three days to a month to climb to the top. Everyone knew that the stair was a test to keep the undeserving from Talios's lair. If you turned back, it was but one step to safety, but then you had to start the climb all over again.
[Edited by oldnoblewolf on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 6:09 AM]
06/14/2007 1:25 AM
Everywhere was slaughter. The unearthly magical light that brightened the air was punctuated by the orange glow of flames that licked air and flesh without discrimination. The field had long since run red and still battle kept. The lines were gone; small battalions fought together merely for survival, and that was a losing battle.
Shapeless, nameless horrors broke out of the darkness as if part of it. Beyond the unnatural light of the field was a primordial blackness that none dared look into too deeply. And those creatures tugging themselves from the blackness were horrors of unreal quality; too terrible for description by any mortal man.
Arothir rallied his own warriors with a war call that seemed to shake the very foundations of their souls. Those closest to him refused to turn back, even as other companies broke and fled before the staggering horrors of the dark. Men, Elves, Dwarves, and a dozen other races could be seen in that small battalion, all driven by the same need to fight and survive. Ragnild shone with a blue flame as it tore dark ranks asunder, spilling ichor but free of stain. And below the rising and falling blade, shimmering like a silver spike, was Arothir.
Thrusting his sword ahead, the Aasimar knight drove his men on only to have them crash as a wave against rock. A vicious clawing and raking sheared through the ranks, ripping warriors to pieces, and Arothir was thrown by the mass of the dying to the ground. As a hulking beast of a creature leaned over him with red-stained claws, a shrieking filled his ears. Basilio had come to his master's aid, wicked beak dragging the creature's soul back to the abyss that spawned it.
With a grunt of appreciation, Arothir swung into his saddle, eyes cast about the battlefield as his hand absently stroked the creature's great feathered mane. Just then his fingers caught on an object there. Tugging it few, the knight found in his hand a small dark vial-like object. Upon opening it, he sighed in wonder as a large parchment slid free, with blackened letters seared into its surface. Tugging off his helmet, Arothir quickly read the missive of Talios. Without a moment's hesitation, he rammed his spurs into Basilio's flanks, wheeling hard to the West.
It was some hours before Dagger's End was in sight. And yet another before it was looming before the proud Aasimar. No command was given, and twice Basilio squawked in frustration as a great wind pounded him away from the great mound of rock. Narrowing his eyes in thought, Arothir urged his mount to the ground and slid from the saddle.
'This is a task, I'd wager. A task where you cannot offer aid. Find food, as best you may. I will call you at need,' Arothir explained, heavily stroking the griffon's great, hooked beak. 'Go now.'
As the beast lifted and flew away northward, Arothir set to climbing. They called it a stair, but it was steep and broken by time. More often than not Arothir found himself climbing rather than stepping, his shield and sword strapped to his back to lend him more freedom of movement. It felt like he climbed for a week, though for how long he truly clung to that mountainside he could never say. But finally, and with great satisfaction and relief, Arothir found the stair less broken and finally stepped his last, appearing at the edge of the peak to gaze over the home of Talios, most excellent and renowned of Dragonkin. Without even taking a moment to view his surroundings, Arothir dropped to a knee and thanked Bahamut, as seemed most appropriate.
Despite the murk the view was staggering: almost literally so, given the strength of the wind near the edge of the stair.
Wiping the sweat from her brow- a somewhat redundant gesture given the breeze tore it away as quickly as it formed- Muirin's gaze lingered over the plains that spread out from the foot of the mount, her new familiarity with it doing nothing to diminish the awe it inspired.
Even from this great and terrible height, dwarfed as the lands were, there was no illusion of peace; curling, black tendrils of smoke formed transient columns in the patches of magical brightness, reaching skyward, a stark reminder of the violence below.
The elf took a meagre sip from an almost empty waterskin, hand straying absently to her belt pouch.
Contained within was the letter from Talios, phrased as an invitation, but irrefusable to any who would stem the gathering tide devouring all free lands.
She had not questioned its appearance, unexplained and unlooked-for, but the words branded upon it had fed the starved hope that still smouldered within her heart.
She had travelled through lands unknown to her to reach Dagger's End, the mountain a looming presence long before she reached its craggy foot.
Dismounting, she had removed the horse's tack and then released it, before beginning her solitary climb.
At times it was a scramble: loose scree and crumbling hand-holds making for treacherous and painfully slow progress.
Time, too, seemed treacherous: with no sun to mark the passing of time she had quickly become disoriented, even the aches in her muscles too dulled to gauge effort, the forever-swirling dust creating a constant thirst.
Yet on she climbed, grim but dogged, changes in incline no longer making her expectant of an approaching summit.
Unsure at first if it was merely wishful thinking the stairs gradually seemed to become easier, more even, until the moment came when there were no more steps, only ground, the summit finally reached.
After a few stumbling steps she faltered, her limbs now unused to a normal gait, and fell to the dust. Managing to roll onto her back, propped uncomfortably on her pack, she lay breathing heavily.
This is what he was enduring, and it was only a taste of what was to come. Oceandune was ascending Dagger's End, the infamous climb which was said to test the mettle of the gods themselves.
[i]It wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't so [b]dry[/b],[/i] he mused. The air around him was stiflingly hot, and drier than a desert.
"Ah...heh." He derived a small chuckle as he realized why his ascension was so damnably warm. Dagger's End wasn't just an unbearably hard mountain to climb; it was a [i]magically[/i] unbearably hard mountain to climb. Obviously, the climb was catered to each individual, and this one was more tricky than most. It had been preying on his sub-conscience, weaseling its way in before Oceandune had even noticed.
That was impressive.
Returning his attention to the path ahead, Oceandune continued up the mountain.
Certain stories claimed Dagger's End to be an endless stair, but Oceandune had yet to see any stairs. No, his climb had been plagued by the same dangers you get in the desert, such as in the part of Thay where he grew up. Dehydrating heat, mirages, unbearable thirst...yet the vegetation around was what you would expect for a mountain. Tall needle-leafed trees dominated the area surrounding him, although rocks were plentiful and he was beginning to see the tree-line.
Still, the heat was unbearable, and he was reminded of the time when he was a child and he had wandered too far out into the desert...
Oh! Incredibly devious!
In the middle of that thought, Oceandune realized the second effect the mountain was putting on him. It was side-tracking him! Years of rigorous training had instilled in him the ability to focus on a single goal, and to never lose sight of that goal. Yet he had meandered away from his objective, and his steps had begun to slow.
He might have gotten angry, but now that his head was clear and he realized the subtlety of the mountain, he cleared his mind of the emotion. Rising anger meant less control, and he would need all of his control to emerge successfully. Redoubling his efforts and his concentration, he continued his climb.
After climbing for a while longer, he decided to try and do something to combat the mountain. Pausing for a moment, he looked to the skies. His brows furrowed, and his eyes shone, becoming pure white lights. The wind picked up, and clouds formed overhead. A drizzle of rain fell from the sky, a refreshing shower in the heat.
The clouds began to dissipate, but Oceandune hadn't caused it to stop. Concentrating harder, battling the will of the mountain, he fought to bring in heavier clouds. Slowly, darker clouds formed, and a low thunder rumbled across the sky. A sweat broke out over Oceandune's body, despite the cool rain. He was fighting the will of the mountain, a will that few had ever come across. He needed just a moment more to gather the energy, until...
Finally, the lightening bolt shot out of the sky, striking the face of the mountain, and the thunderous crack as it split the sky was deafening.
The deed done, Oceandune allowed the storm to slip away, as if it had never been.
Compared to the mountain, the lightning strike was a pinprick. Still, the gesture had been made. Oceandune would not back down.
Hours later, he was still at it. He had climbed hundreds of feet of sheer cliffs, sometimes climbing seemingly endless overhangs. Those, he relished, though. After he would walk a straight and narrow path, teetering over the edge, wind buffing him around.
When he had passed the tree-line, the climate had switched from desert-hot to tundra-cold in an instant. It was cold enough to make [i]him[/i] feel cold, and he had lived in the clouds at one point in his life.
The obstacles he overcame had been tedious, strenuous, arduous, and exasperating. Still, he kept at it.
Finally, just ahead, he saw the one thing he had yet to see the entire climb: stairs.
A set of white marble stairs, perfectly sculptured, led up the mountain. Looking ahead, he could see the stairs continue to what looked like the summit a mere 50 feet ahead.
Taking it slowly, he took the steps three at a time. He could see the golden glow of the sunset reaching over the top of the peak (when it had gone from light to dark, he couldn't remember).
Reaching the last of the stairs, he finally reached the peak, and was encompassed by the golden glow.
06/19/2007 7:17 PM
Zaon was boiling over with excitement. He would finally be able to have friends! People that knew his name and his face that would want to help him! He paced in front of the final step of the stair, waiting to see the faces of his first real friends. He knew how the magic worked, and knew that time didn't travel the same way up here, but he was certain they should be arriving right about now. Lot's of people came to see his father, after all, and every time in the last 200 years Zaon had been correct in his time frames. He couldn't possibly be wrong now.
All three of them arrived at the same time, though in various states of health. Zaon had felt the Storm Giant trying to enforce his will upon the mountain months ago, but it probably seemed even longer for the towering individual.
The elf had almost failed in her quest, and it brought joy to Zaon. The ones the mountain was hardest on were always the best guests. He moved quickly to remove her fatigue while the three of them were trying to figure out where each of them had come from, and which of them had gotten here first. Every time the guests came in numbers there was this moment of confusion.
The Aasimar would be the stuffy one. The mountain had spit him out almost as quickly as he had started, and that meant he would be very dull in Zaon's opinion. Of course Talios would love him.
Zaon had food and water prepared for them in advance and brought it to them after had had finished tending the Elf. "Hello, I'm Zaon, son of Talios, Son of Bahamut. We were expecting more of you, well Father was anyway. I tried to tell him there would only be four." His voice was somewhere between music and rocks bouncing off a cliff in a way that most of Talios guests found uncomfortable. "Father will see you after you've eaten, and bathed if you wish."
He considered each of them carefully and decided he would definitely need to go prepare them gifts before they went to go see Father. He had been working for years in the hopes of being able to build them items they would like. Talios hadn't liked the amount of stuff that had gone missing from the hoard, but he ultimately knew it had to be done. "Father thought there would be more of you, but we'll manage." Zaon wracked his memories and tried to pinpoint who was in front of him. "The moon and star makes you Arothir of the Golden Stars unless I miss my guess. You'll be father's favorite. The armor and whip makes you Muirin Starfall, and you could only be Oceandune. Welcome to Dagger's End. If you need anything, just let the castle know."
Zaon turned with a gesture meant to draw their eyes to the last bastion of hope for the world. Trees grew here, something the lands below had not seen since before Zaon was born, and animals roamed free, only in moderate danger of being eaten. Talios was very careful to keep them alive, because there was no way to get new ones. The castle itself towered even above the Giant with three floors large enough for Talios to stand in. It was made from stone that had been carved out of Dagger's End and was by far the greatest mortal work ever created. "She's sentient, and those servant's father couldn't convince to leave can still hear her voice. Oh look at me, rambling when there is still so much to do. Eat, Eat."
[Edited by oldnoblewolf on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 7:18 PM]
As Oceandune reached the summit, he was both physically and mentally exhausted. Now, he was also confused.
He had pondered what he would find at the top of Dagger's End while he had traveled to the mountain, although he hadn't thought much about it once the ascent began. Still, in all his ponderings he never once would have thought that the boy in front of him would be what to expect.
[i]No,[/i] he suddenly realized. [i]Boy is incorrect. This is a man. This half-dragon is certainly aged, but he is...unexperienced? His demeanor does not show his age, that much is obvious...quite odd...[/i]
He kept his observations to himself, and instead looked upon his surroundings. When he first peaked the summit, he had been blinded by the sun shining brightly on this land, and so the first thing that had struck his attention were the [i]sounds.[/i]
Sounds like he hadn't heard in years, the beautiful sounds of nature! Oh, it was wondrous! The birds' songs filling the air, the chirp of insects, the brush of critters through the foliage...sounds such as these had been sorely missed.
A slight breeze caressed his skin, cooling and comforting. Taking a deep breath, he was amazed at the fresh air, moist and raw with the smell of fresh vegetation; natural air. It filled him with a feeling he hadn't had since the battles began: joy. The natural setting around him, full of its former glory, brought a sense of hope that the war could be won.
When he could finally see, the sight of the place left him speechless. Words cannot describe how it felt to see, to hear, to feel these things after years of nothing but the haze of smoke, the cries of the wounded and dying, and the pain of countless battles.
As Zaon had made the introductions for them, Oceandune looked at his new "companions." Evidently, they had received letters of invitation as well. Muirin, if he had heard Zaon correctly, looked like she had taken the climb the hardest. As he watched, the half-dragon knelt over her and mumbled a prayer as a soft glow encompassed her. When the light receded, her face was no longer flushed, and she was rejuvenated. Undoubtedly, she would wake soon.
The other person who had made the ascent was, according to Zaon, Arothir. Noble, regal, and with the hint of...extraplanar. Obviously, he was an Aasimar, and while he looked like a few of the paladins Oceandune had come across in his time, he didn't seem to possess the divine connections of the paladin. No, his honor was from physical training and hard work, aspects which Oceandune respected greatly.
"She's sentient, and those servant's father couldn't convince to leave can still hear her voice. Oh look at me, rambling when there is still so much to do. Eat, Eat."
Gratefully, Oceandune obliged, offering a nod of thanks to their host. Abstaining the chair, he knelt at the table. For the first time, he was at eye level with the rest of them.
"Many thanks, Zaon, son of Talios. I understand that guests are not customary and quite rare. I am honored to be here."
Never much one for idle chatter, he didn't know what to say next, so he just punctuated his sentence with a bow of his head and resumed eating.
[Edited by Max on Wednesday, June 20, 2007 5:00 AM]
Exhaustion slipped from her limbs, blessed energy flowing freely through her.
Murmuring a quick prayer of thanks Muirin sat up slowly, nodding silent thanks to her host. He appeared elven but... not: taller, slightly more heavyset, and with features that drew the eye despite one's will, almost leonine.
He introduced himself as the son of Talios, in a voice that was melodic but somehow unsettling. A half-dragon, she judged, seemingly young by their standards, and yet she would not have made a guess as to his age.
As he talked she let her eyes meet those of those others present as he named them: Arothir, knightly and striking, appearing human but undoubtedly bearing the blood of a Celestial, and Oceandune, a half stormgiant, instantly memorably regardless of mohawk.
At Zaon's prompting she looked finally at her surroundings, and was instantly overcome: her hand coming to her mouth as the breath caught in her throat.
How long since she had seen such beauty?
Nature in its manifold glory, pristine and unspoilt; it swam before her eyes as tears gathered, then forged a clean trail through the dust on her cheek.
The castle beyond was a wonder, sentient or no, but her eyes kept seeking out the verdant treasure to the fore, her heart filled with reverence.
With reluctance she turned from it at the half-dragon's insistent hospitality, only to be confronted by yet another marvel: fruit. A meal of excellence and great variety had been provided, the undisputed jewel of which-to her eyes- being the myriad-hued selection of fruits.
Reaching with only barely-controlled lust for a blush-skinned peach she brought it first to her nose, inhaling deep and long, finding succor before even tasting the flesh. Eyes closed in simple bliss, the taste sweet melancholy for better days, now but memory.
"Many thanks, Zaon, son of Talios. I understand that guests are not customary and quite rare. I am honored to be here."
At Oceandune's words her manners returned, and she smiled gratefully at their host.
"My thanks, also, Zaon Dragon-son. I'm sure guests would be more plentiful if the great virtue of your hospitality was known."
06/20/2007 6:52 PM
Standing, Arothir came face-to-face with the one called Zaon. The knight was almost taken aback by the rapid clip of that voice, the excited and hurried pattern of his speech. Here was one that looked, to all appearances, as one that could be old or young, ageless in his way. One that claimed direct blood relation to the renowned Talios. Yet the man spoke as a boy. It puzzled the Aasimar, but he listened intently nonetheless.
The knight's head tipped at the utterance of his name, though he could at the moment find no words to speak that seemed appropriate. His heart did, however, swell with some measure of pride at the statement that he would be the favourite of Talios, an honour deeper than a hundred titles in a hundred nations.
As Zaon moved away, entreating the climbers to feed themselves, Arothir's eyes opened wider and he stepped trancelike away from the group. A bird had flown past, and the part-celestial was transfixed by the sight. The Aasimar was younger than his companions, little more than a century old; His Celestial blood was diluted, leaving him with a full lifespan of perhaps only twice that of a Man. Moreover, his youth and his life of war had made sure that he had never before seen nature unblemished. Arothir seemed not even to notice the others as his eyes roamed the sight as amazedly as a child might on seeing a magic trick for the first time. This would stay burned into his memory for the rest of his days.
At a sound from behind, Arothir cleared his head and made for the food, making no comment on his momentary lapse in decorum. Seating himself beside the Elf, he began to eat. In truth, the food was strange to him - much of it being of a kind he'd never seen. More than once he had to feign enjoyment only, as he slowly became accustomed to something that did not taste like soldier's gruel and stale bread. He'd heard tell of magic users that could create food - but the only magic users Arothir had encountered were all so heavily-taxed that minor sorcery simply for pleasure or respite was out of the question.
Within a few bites, the Aasimar's head lifted to appraise the other guests. Seated beside him was a fair-faced Elf. To an ignorant observer her beauty could be mistaken for frailty, but Arothir had fought alongside enough Elves to know that power and skill were as natural to their race as magic and beauty. Across from the two was the giant. Arothir was not versed quite as well in the lore of that race, and so could not pick out the exact type. What the knight did know was that giants had fought beside him in his years, and even the smallest among them fought as well as ten men. This one looked to be as fit as 20 or more, and Arothir's head tipped in a silent acknowledgement that the Giant was certainly a force of nature in and of himself.
Once the meal had begun and an uneasy quiet reigned, Arothir quirked a brow and looked suddenly to the half-Dragon, as if only now having processed his earlier words: "Zaon, son of Talios; you said there would be four. I see only three here. Is there another still on the mountainside, and if so can we offer no aid in their climb? Where are they, and whom?"
06/21/2007 7:55 AM
Zaon had forgotten that the people in front of him may not have ever seen trees or animals or ever grass for that matter, and it took him a little while to figure out what exactly was going on. He decided that letting them take it all in was a good idea and tried really hard to be quiet and let them enjoy themselves. Silence was always uncomfortable to Zaon, so it was especially hard for him. He let loose with a sigh of relief the moment the Giant started speaking.
"It's really no trouble at all. I love having guests. Unfortunately the climb precludes us getting very many, and never three at one time before, most of them never live to see the top." This revelation made Zaon very sad for a moment, but nothing could keep his spirit down for long. "Well, there were many others called, but I'm afraid most of them perished or turned back. Once you start the stairs you're all alone, and it's just too much for most people." Again there was a brief moment of silence as he reflected on the deaths of some of the great heroes. "As far as the fourth is concerned, you're looking at him. I will be going with you on your journey. I've been preparing for this trip all of my life. I've even been making things, though some of them didn't turn out so well. We had to rebuild an entire room once." After a short pause, and a look at the Aasimar, Zaon continued, "Okay, maybe it was twice, but the second one wasn't my fault."
[Edited by oldnoblewolf on Thursday, June 21, 2007 7:58 AM]
Oceandune watched as everyone ate, and rejuvenated themselves.
The elf-woman had recovered well, and quickly. Oceandune had watched as both the Aasimar and the Elf noticed their surroundings, and enjoyed watching their enjoyment.
The elven woman gazed upon the lush wilderness with the same feeling that one gets when you see a loved one for the first time in a long time. Oceandune knew very well what she was feeling, for he had the same feeling when he had gazed upon the lands around them.
Then again, he realized, she is an elf. Nature and the wilderness is sacred to them...he could only guess at how much the surrounding country-side meant to her.
The Aasimar's face belied the wonder he was feeling. It seemed as though he was seeing these things for the first time.
[i]He very well might be,[/i] he realized with a shock of melancholy.
His hypothesis was confirmed when they started eating, and he - [i]Arothir. I must begin connecting them to their names, especially if I am to travel with them.[/i] - seemed shocked by the fresh and sweet food that Oceandune and [i]Muirin[/i] relished.
"Okay, maybe it was twice, but the second one wasn't my fault."
A deep chuckle escaped Oceandune's mouth, and a small grin, almost a smirk, made its presence known on his face.
[i]Theüd would enjoy talking with him,[/i] he thought.
"It is unfortunate that no more have made it." The thought that people might have died trying to reach this place did not sit well with Oceandune. Not for the fact that they died, but that they died a useless death. They had striven to come here to help the people of the world, but instead died alone on the side of a magical mountain. Had they stayed at their homes, how many lives might they have saved? How many more deeds might they have done before their eventual deaths, had they not been led here under the false pretense of "saving the world"?
But now was not the time for such musings. He had allowed himself to keep up the charade the half-dragon boy had put up partly because he was unaware of what he should do, and partly because he had truly been exhausted. His thoughts had reminded him of the pressing matters at hand, however, and he could not allow himself to delay any longer.
Looking around the table, he could see that everyone had almost finished. Clearing his plate of the last scrumptious morsel, he cleared his throat.
"I thank you many-fold for the food, Zaon. I have not tasted such fresh and sweet a meal in many years.
Which is why I feel the need to request for us to continue. Perhaps after we meet with your father we can make use of the other amenities and services you had so graciously offered, but we have come here for a reason. As we sit here, I cannot help but think of the pain and strife that is continuing below, and of the on-going war. We came here in the hopes to have an impact on the war. While everything you have done thus far is much appreciated, I cannot see the impact we will have by sitting here and biding our time."
Again feeling awkward for a closing statement, he stood up, quite an effective physical statement as his full height of over eight and a half feet was reached, and bowed his head to the half-dragon - [i]Zaon,[/i] he corrected himself again - in both gratitude and an invitation to 'lead the way.'
[Edited by Max on Thursday, June 21, 2007 1:17 PM]
06/21/2007 5:03 PM
Zaon's face turned a red brighter than apples and then quickly tried to pull himself together, which meant he looked very guilty indeed. "Yes, You are right, Oceandune. We should get going. I'm afraid my excitement at getting to meet the three of you has scattered my thoughts. Father will be expecting us soon," This remark was shortly followed by a muttered, "I'm afraid." The look that crossed Zaon's face said he didn't much care for being in Talios's presence any more than he had to be. "Hopefully it won't take long. I have gifts for all of you before we depart in the morning." He looked around quickly and decided that everyone was indeed ready to depart and told them to gather around and be sure to touch him. He really would rather not walk if he could help it. As Oceandune had pointed out, they had wasted enough time.
Once everyone was touching him, Zaon began a soft chant that was obviously words of arcane power. The sensation of being sucked through a very small hole and spat out the other side might have been slightly uncomfortable, but caused no real harm. They appeared inside what Zaon had always thought of as the Throne room. It was actually the vault, but Talios was there more often than any other place. The only light in the room came from Talios himself, though it was more than enough to fill the room with a mild light. Talios's head was resting on a pile of coins directly in front of where Zaon had teleported them, and one of his very large, amber eyes was looking directly at them. The rest of his impressive form was situated on top of his horde in such a way that it was hard to tell where Talios ended, and the gold around him began. His 'whiskers' were spread out before him and were each longer than Oceandune's full height, and as thick as one of his thighs at their base. His wings started at his tail in a kind of double fin that ran along side the length of his spine and eventually became his wings, which stretched back to touch his tail once again.
Talios spoke telepathically because he did not want to harm his guests. (Greetings, all . . . the three of you,) The mental slip earned Zaon a harsh look, and for once Zaon couldn't be blamed for looking confused. (I'm glad to see my son did not keep you long.)
[Edited by oldnoblewolf on Thursday, June 21, 2007 6:41 PM]
The lush greenery of the mountain's summit had inspired awe and reverence, a longing for a time long lost, but equally did the presence of Talios, great Gold.
A moment was needed to recover from the unusual, and not entirely pleasant, sensation caused by Zaon's method of travel, but almost immediately did one's attention focus on the elder wyrm.
Beyond an impression of a vast space dwarfed by the enormity of the dragon- both physical and otherwise- what sort of a room they were in Muirin could not have said, so mesmerizing was their host, so complete his dominance.
A warm radiance seemed to suffuse his being, the light dancing across his gleaming scales creating such brilliance as to entirely overshadow the splendour of the horde on which he rested. A head of unsurpassed dignity held amber eyes of terrifying wisdom and unimaginable knowledge.
A voice was heard in her head, benevolent, impossibly old and wise: even in this form deep and resonant, thrumming through her core.
(Greetings, all . . . the three of you,)
(I'm glad to see my son did not keep you long.)
Bowing, she spoke aloud, feeling she must sound as the buzzing of a fly would to a great lion.
"His hospitality was most gracious, Great One, and much needed: my heartfelt thanks to you both."
06/23/2007 12:02 AM
Arothir's brow quirked at Zaon's statement that he would be joining the trio. He did not, in fact, doubt the power contained in Zaon's form, but rather the ability of the half-dragon's mind to attune itself with the dark world beyond this mountaintop. Chastizing himself for doubting the wisdom of Talios, the Aasimar remained silent until the giant - Oceandune - spoke. Nodding his agreement, the knight pressed his hands to the table and shoved himself to his feet in a gesture of agreement.
Shaking his head, the Aasimar nearly vomitted. The sudden transportation enacted by Zaon was unfamiliar to him, and the queasy feeling it left was disturbing. Yet Arothir all but forgot the unsettled feeling in his stomach when he realized in whose presence he stood. The creature that filled this room was most amazing - spectacular in size. Arothir could not recall ever seeing a dragon quite so large, though in truth he had seen very few in his lifetime. He was momentarily stunned into silence by the simple presence of the leviathan. It was hard to believe that this enormous being was blood to the almost erratic creature that had greeted the trio only minutes ago.
Recovering his senses, Arothir brought himself to one knee before the gaze of Talios. He had grown strong fed on tales of mighty dragons, the children of Bahamut. They were most revered, bordering on divinity. The Aasimar was aware that there were even some men that treated the legends of the dragons as if the creatures were, in fact, godlings. It was all this, and more yet, that caused the resonating feeling of fealty toward Talios.
Even so, Arothir did not speak. He simply knelt and thanked Bahamut for this chance to serve.
Oceandune was pleased to see agreement in his companion's eyes, including Zaon's, embarrassed though he might be. Hastily, Zaon readied them to meet his father, and it was indeed not long until they did.
The unpleasant sensation that rippled through his body was not entirely unknown. Oceandune had experienced similar sensations in his planar travels, although it certainly was not the most comfortable method of travel.
The first thing he saw upon emerging from the spell was amber. A seemingly large wall of amber. Then Oceandune realized that that amber wall was indeed an orb. An orb which fit into the head of an immensely large, and powerful, dragon.
Instantly, the presence of the dragon assaulted him. Simply the size of Talios was enough to inspire awe and more than a little fear, and his regal head lay naught but ten feet away. It seemed that the Dragonfear that all dragons innately possess was being subdued by Talios, although Oceandune doubted it was, or even could, be suppressed fully. It wasn't completely Dragonfear that was battering him, but an almost Dragonawe, or inspiration. Simply seeing this splendid creature, ancient and wondrous in his power and beautiful in his glory, lifted the spirit and inspired hope.
Talios's message, deep and resonant even in telepathy, came into Oceandune's head. He then heard Muirin reply, and was a little startled to remember that he was, indeed, in the presence of others. So huge and consuming was the presence of Talios that he had all but forgotten about his companions.
"Indeed, I offer my gratitude as well." His deep voice seemed minuscule and high in pitch compared to the rumblings of Talios, even in MindSpeak. With a deep bow, Oceandune took his eyes off of the Great Wyrm - a showing of deep respect and trust.
06/23/2007 9:54 AM
[i]Muirin Starfall is the first to speak. This one recovered quickly from the teleport spell then. As is the way with Elves, little seems to give her much in the way of pause. A worthy champion. It's really no wonder she the last survivor of Lithaldoren. I wonder if she knows.[/i] Talios's thoughts were his alone this time, but the fact that they were being weighed and measured was clear in the eye and face of the dragon. Muirin was apparently found up to par.
Talios was forced to grin at Arothir. The man's simple display was enough to let Talios know that he was a man of great honor and respect among his people, and he instantly liked the man Zaon would surely have called stuffy. [i]Is he Unwilling to speak, or unable? It's always so hard to tell. I'm almost tempted to roar and see if he is truly a coward, or just reverent.[/i] Talios decided that he would assume reverence, for no coward could ever hope to climb his mountain.
[i] Oceandune truly does exist then. and here i thought the stories of a Storm Giant half-breed were merely wives tales. I guess anything is truly possible in these, the last of days. I see his gods are with him even in this place. Maybe they will be strong enough to follow him where he now goes.[/i] Each of them had now been measured to his satisfaction, and Talios decided it was time to get to the point.
(Lift your faces. I don't wish to speak to your hair.) He waited fro compliance before he continued. (I am marked for death. /the dream has come of how to depart this world for the next, and I must make the trip soon, least I forever be unable. I fear I have waited as long as I can.) He gave a moment for this to sink in for his visitors. /his son already knew this to be true, and Zaon offered no words, for once. (Items of great power were once given to my brethren and I so that we could use them for the betterment of the world. I'm sorry to say that most of them were never used. All the sons of Bahamut have now left this world, and they have carried with them these Items of Worldly Might.)
Talios realized that this could cause some confusion, but his son filled in the gap for him, unable to hold his tongue any longer. "He doesn't mean ALL of the dragons, just the first two generations. The rest will stay here and fight." For once, Talios was grateful for his son's incessant need to speak.
A low rumble filled the room before Talios continued. (You have been summoned to go and collect these artifacts. You will be coming with me so that my death can mean the return of these things to the mortal world. I trust that the four of you will use them well.) There was no doubt in Talios's 'voice', nor was there a question. It almost sounded like an order. (Your quest is not without danger though. A great Dracolich has been set to guard the Dragon Graveyard, and many things have been put in place to guard the burial chambers of my seven brethren. Unfortunately, the children of Tiamat were also given items of great power, and some say they guard them even in death. Fifteen item there are in all, though I suggest you find the good ones first. The ones given to Tiamut's children will try to turn your hearts to darkness without the other items to offset their power. The items will choose you as much as you them, but fear not. Even the most mundane looking of them holds great power.)
Again, a pause as information was let process through their minds. Each of them had much to think about, though Talios already knew the answers to his next question, he had to ask it anyway. (You can turn back now and forget these things, or you can press onward and receive rewards beyond your wildest dreams. You will not go without my aid, however. I have taught my youngest son everything I know about magic, including the creation of powerful items. I believe he has things to give each of you before you depart with us. )
Zaon knew he had to wait until they gave their word before he could give them his gifts, so he bounced from one foot to the other as he waited to go get them. "I do hope you all come. I'll need all the help I can get."
[Edited by oldnoblewolf on Saturday, June 23, 2007 10:23 AM]
(I am marked for death. /the dream has come of how to depart this world for the next, and I must make the trip soon, least I forever be unable. I fear I have waited as long as I can.)
A tremor of shock passed through Muirin's slender form- such a loss this would be!
Not only would his magical lighting of the battlefields be missed, but the [i]knowledge[/i] that such a great being was gone from the world would be a great blow to the spirit.
She was almost too stunned to register Talios' next words, that all of Bahamut's children had departed, but in the brief span it took for Zaon to explain the true meaning a cold had seized her heart.
At the half-dragon's words her breath had returned, but the vivid realisation of their fates if this ever occurred lingered: as it was, they were painfully outnumbered, the seemingly endless swell of darkness advancing relentlessly, only barely being held at bay in those places where dragon's fought, their effect on morale more potent even than their own powers.
She nodded wordlessly at the great Gold continued, absorbing all that he said, her mind already racing ahead to the challenges they would face, the set of her features growing grim but remaining determined.
At Talios' final words, at the choice he offered them, a fleeting look of sorrow passed cross her face.
[i]The desires of my dreams cannot erase time to give you back to me, my Vehiron. Lend me your strength for these trials, so that some hope can be given to our world[/i]
Matching Arothir's earlier gesture and going down to one knee she drew her sword, placing it on the floor before her, the light emanating from the dragon seeming to trace the etchings in fire along its blade.
"You have my pledge, Son of Bahamut: my life for this quest".
06/26/2007 1:10 AM
At the command from Talios, Arothir lifted his head. His gaze was fierce, almost defying the great wyrm to find any reservations or fear in that hard-lined countenance. He registered no passion at the revelation that Talios was not long for this sphere, though his heart sank at the thought and he took courage to continue listening only by squeezing tightly around the hilt of his scabbarded sword.
The Aasimar listened intently to the words of Talios, memorizing every word on the off-chance he may need that remembrance. And even if he did not, Arothir thought, if he survived this trial he could carry to the bards a great tale. Even in dark days, bards did love tales. As the huge dragon finished, the knight allowed himself a moment to process the information and smiled thinly at the words of the Elf, Muirin.
Drawing his own sword with the rasping hiss of steel, the Aasimar placed the tip of the weapon against the ground, hands curled about its crossguard. His chin was set and eyes flashed. Though he may have been quiet and reserved, his voice now was again that of a commander of the field; "The clerics spoke of Talios. Hearing those tales, my shield-bearer once named him King of Dragons. I see now that his ferver was not misguided."
Arothir rose to his feet before continuing, sword still braced against the ground, one hand draped across its guard. "I give myself into your service, Talios King of Dragons, and your son's after you. Whatever you ask, I will serve."
[OOC: This is going to be lame, I know already and I haven't started it yet. I have a massive headache and an icepick that gets drilled through my tooth and into my skull every time I chew too hard and my teeth touch, but I don't want to slow you guys down.]
Oceandune could only try and appreciate the brevity of Talios's situation. He was an extraordinarily old, powerful, and noble dragon, and what he had chosen as his last action on Faerûn reflected his bearing.
He listened to the Great Wyrm's words, waiting for him to finish, and then to his new companions' replies.
Encouraged and reassured of their integrity, he too spoke.
"Indeed, I am most honoured to be entrusted by one such as you, Talios. I gladly offer my actions and my life in this venture, and know that as you say they will be of great use to rid the lands of the darkness which has overcome them."
[OOC: Eep...I almost put Earth instead of Faerun.]
06/30/2007 11:59 AM
As each of them made their promises, the weight of their words settled upon them each in turn. A promise made to a gold dragon, even one that was about to die, was more binding than any law ever made by man. They had each said it in turn, and so it was true. They would succeed in this quest, or they would die. They had left themselves no other options. Talios was pleased by this. It meant that if they should succumb to the evil they faced, they would not escape the graveyard. (I'm sure Tiamat has found a way to send her own champions, so we must hurry. Twilight is nearly upon us, and we must be in the air, or I shall miss the portal. Give your gifts quickly my son, they will be needed.) Talios closed his eyes, knowing he would need the small bit of rest he was about to receive. The journey would be a long and hard one for all of them.
Zaon leaped into action like a spring freed from it's restraints. Each of them had one chest borrowed from Talios's collection that contained three items crafted by Zaon specifically for those who would receive them. He had tried to anticipate what they would need based on the stories he had heard about them. He hoped terribly that they liked them. "I made them myself, but don't worry. These are the ones that work correctly. Father had to drop a fire shield into the ocean to put it out though. I think we'll leave it there if the three of you don't mind." He watched with the anticipation of a kid at Yuletide waiting to see the looks from his friends faces. "Well what are you waiting for? The Chests won't open themselves."
Somewhat hesitantly Muirin approached the chest, throwing a smile to the eager-looking Zaon.
Inlaid with rainbow-hued enamel the chest was a wonder by itself, but before even opening the studded lid she could feel the strong magic emanating from within. Raising it gently a soft, silvery radiance lit her face, the source appearing to be a platinum ring, cushioned lightly on a pair of boots. Sitting just above it was a crisp white card, inscribed in with gold ink in a fine, curlicued script.
Removing the card from the chest she ran a thumb lightly over the lettering, enjoying the quality of the paper.
[i]Ring of Virtuous Good[/i]
A wry smile crossing her lips at the wording, she drew the ring out carefully. Lying in her palm it felt slightly warm to the touch, comfortingly so, its beauty plain and unadorned. She moved to replace it, but then looked to Zaon: receiving an encouraging nod, with a silent sigh and a wish that this could be done in private, she slipped it onto the finger next to that which wore Vehiron's equally plain, and equally beautiful, band. Immediately she felt a sense of security enshroud her, and knew, as if told, that its magic would protect her from evil, from attacks both physical and arcane. A nimbus of light surrounded her, and she felt the telltale tingle of a ward to protect her mind.
[i]A great gift, indeed, and one I fear may be needed...[/i]
Taking up the card again she read the next words: [i]Boots of Swiftness[/i].
[i]Ah, these will require some adjustment to become used to[/i]
Beautifully worked in an unidentifiable dark grey leather they were soft to the touch, and flexible, and so light as to seem weightless.
With a self-conscious smile she removed her own well-worn boots, half marveling that they had managed to survive the climb and remain relatively intact. Drawing on the magical boots she was unsurprised to find that they, as the ring, fit perfectly, as if they were crafted to her measurements. When both were on she felt a strange lightness in her limbs, felt more dexterous, more agile, uncannily balanced. She knew it would take some time to get used to these particular enhancements, and hoped that they would have some small amount of it before departing.
The card revealed the third item to be a rod, named [i]The Path[/i].
Picking the slim metal rod up it seemed strangely light, it's construction appearing almost more gnomish than magical. Holding it up she put her eye to the hollowed handle, jerking back as her vision seemed to leap strangely, magnifying what she observed. Recovering from the surprise she laughed in delight and put the rod to her eyes once more, scanning the room and its occupants quickly, while trying to recover her composure. She knew without doubt that this rod had a number of abilities that should prove invaluable to them on their quest.
Running her fingers over the rod a thin section seemed to come loose in her hands, a parchment map unfurling smoothly. The map showed a view of the summit's top. Unbidden, a word came into her head, and she spoke it aloud.
She recognised the word as Low Magius for 'large'- and indeed what was shown on the map did grow 'large'. As an eagle must see his prey from above the view shown on the map seemed to speed closer, enlarging the detail shown, individual rooms, doorways, even staircases, becoming distinct.
Logically enough, the command word to return the map to its original size was 'small'.
Smiling widely she looked up to the half dragon, inclining her head in a bow.
"How wonderful! Thank you, Zaon. This is... remarkable!- as are your other gifts. I hope I prove worthy of them".
07/03/2007 3:40 AM
Arothir smiled thinly as he watched Muirin withdraw her gifts, nodding his approval at the quality and utility of the items. With a quick glance about, he presumed it was time to inspect his own chest. Kneeling down, the Aasimar ran a hand absently over the ornate chest with its rich silver inlay and dark wood. Sliding free the silver bar, he pushed open the chest and was greeted not with a bathing light, but rather a mute, dull shimmering.
Within the chest was a ring sitting atop a piece of fabric. The ring, though in fact the same as Muirin's in function, was altogether different in appearance. This ring was silvery in colour; mithral, most likely. The ring itself was completely smooth and rather wide. Stamped on its face was a rune of Celestial origin. Arothir was not overly familiar with the Celestial language, but he recognized this as the rune of Virtue. Sliding the ring over his gloved left forefinger, he immediately felt energized, as if imbued with the cosmic power of goodness -- what Arothir considered the essense of Bahamut.
Curiously, the knight lifted out the neatly folded fabric to see that underneath it was a pair of vambraces. These vambraces were white-dyed leather, one embossed with a golden star, the other with a silver crescent moon. The symbol of my house, Arothir thought with a smile. He slid his arms into the vambraces and tightened the straps. Once the second was in place, Arothir sensed a new power in his thews. His muscles seemed to momentarily flex and strain of their own accord before settling again, and his very body seemed more fit and powerful.
With a sigh of wonder at these two gifts, Arothir suddenly found himself looking down at the soft fabric he had laid aside. It had been heavy for all it appeared to be. Hefting it again, he realized that a pair of mithral clasps dangled from one end. Standing to unroll the fabric, he admonished himself for not realizing before that this fabric was in fact a cloak. It was very fine, made of a deep burgundy with silver and gold shot down the sides and across the hem. Swinging the cloak around his shoulders, Arothir nodded appreciatively toward Zaon as he clasped it into place. To those around him, Arothir seemed greater after putting on that cloak; wiser perhaps, or fairer, someone who could inspire and whose words were cunningly-crafted.
'Very fine gifts, indeed, Master Zaon. So well-worked and thoughtfully crafted. You are truly talented. You have my gratitude, and my pledge to use these gifts as best I may, and I, as Lady Muirin, will endevour to prove worthy of them."
Turning his attention to Oceandune, Arothir smiled and spread his hands. 'Come my Giant-friend, let us see what wondrous things Master Zaon has fashioned for one already so imposing and strong!' Arothir called cheerfully.
[OOC: haha...for some reason I hit "Post Reply" before I had written anything.]
Oceandune had watched as his companions opened their chests. As each of them put on their ring, they were both encased in a holy aura, and the sense of all that was right and good flooded the room, strengthening each of them. Indeed, Zaon seemed to have matched the gifts quite appropriately.
Turning his attention to Oceandune, Arothir smiled and spread his hands. 'Come my Giant-friend, let us see what wondrous things Master Zaon has fashioned for one already so imposing and strong!' Arothir called cheerfully.
At Arothir's words, Oceandune gave a grin and walked up to his own chest.
The chest itself was a thing of beauty. A dark wood, almost naturally black, adorned with silver metalworking that took the breath away. The thin wires that ornamented the lid of the chest gleamed in the light of the giant room they were in.
With a single step, he was standing before the chest. Almost reverently, he reached with both of his large hands and lifted the lid of the chest.
Inside, he could see that it was lined with a dark velvet, continuing the contrast of the exterior within. At the bottom of the chest lay three items gleaming with their own light.
The first to capture Oceandune's attention was a ring, nestled within the circle of a necklace, and below the necklace was what seemed to be a rod of some sort.
Reaching down, he grabbed the ring first. When he had lifted it out of the chest, and studied it in his palm, the word [i][Swordbane][/i] came into his mind.
[i][With this ring, your enemies' hopes will be crushed, as well as their weapon.][/i]
With a nod, and a slight grin, he put the ring on. It slid on smoothly, and fit perfectly, feeling as if it had always been there. Once it was firmly on, its own light faded away, revealing the adamantine metal it was made of.
Looking back down, he reached for the necklace.
[i][Wise Choices,][/i] were the words that came to his mind this time.
[i][This simple adornment will grant you incredible insight, which you will need in the times to come.]
I...cannot accept this.[/i] He thought. His entire life he had striven to overcome obstacles with his own abilities. Physically, mentally, and spiritually, he had trained himself so that he would not require augmentations such as the one this periapt offered.
With regret, he looked up at Zaon with apology in his eyes. Seeing the half-dragon's hopeful face, innocently cheerful, he did not know how he could express his own conflict with the item. He looked at Talios, in hopes that one as great such as he might understand.
What he saw in the eye of the Great Wyrm surprised him. He could see and feel the holy power which the Great Gold Dragon was comprised of. It was as if Bahamut himself was fulfilling a part of Talios's existence here on Faerûn.
With sudden realization, Oceandune realized that it was true. The only reason Talios was still here in this realm was to lead the force that would free the lands. Talios couldn't do it himself, however, and now the only reason he was still here was that Bahamut was giving him the strength through his own essence.
As he gazed in wonder at the Great Dragon, now realizing that he was also looking at Bahamut himself, in a way, he felt the deity's presence wash over him. He was assured, though he knew not how, that all would be alright. This was a gift from the gods as much as it was a gift from Zaon, and he was to use it as such.
Still, there was a slight hesitation as he looked into the orb in his hands. The necklace was made from a large black pearl, attached to a silvery chain. It was beautiful in its perfection. The pearl's luster gave the perception that it was always moving, swirling, as storm clouds do.
As he gazed deeper into the pearl, he saw that that indeed was what it looked like: storm clouds. It seemed that this pearl carried the essence of a storm, with clouds roiling within its depths. Suddenly, he saw an arc of lightning shoot from the middle of the pearl, and travel along the length of the chain until it reentered the pearl on the opposite side.
Aloud, he could hear the inexplicable sound of thunder rolling across the land, and through the room they were in.
It was then that he knew that it was indeed a gift of the gods. Not just from Zaon, but from Bahamut, Stronmaus, and every other deity which wished to see the darkness expelled from the land. Looking to his companions, he could see that they, too, had been chosen. Each of them - Arothir, Muirin, Zaon, and himself - were chosen for their strengths, and together they could prevail.
With this in mind, he clasped the pendant around his neck, its dark brilliance set against his light skin. He gave a slight bow to Talios/Bahamut with understanding and gratitude in his eyes, and gave a silent prayer of thanks to his own deity.
Realizing there was still one more gift to be had, he looked back into the chest. He had seen Muirin receive a rod, and he was wondering if he might receive one as well.
As he lifted it out of the confines of the chest, however, he felt it expand in his hand as it grew to its full size. By the time the item had left the chest, it was a full eight feet in length - the perfect sized staff for himself.
[i][Staff of the Storms,][/i] came the words to his head. [i][With the magic imbued in this staff, you truly will become master of the storm, and shall wash away the evil forces against you.][/i]
He felt the power of the staff course through his system, the exciting tingling of electricity crackling along his body.
Now that he had received all of his gifts, he turned to Zaon. "Thank you for these gifts, Zaon Half-Dragon. After receiving my own gifts, and knowing that each of us have received well planned gifts perfect for complimenting our own abilities, my hope for the fate of the world has been renewed." He looked over to Arothir and Muirin, and then to Zaon.
"Without doubt, what we are about to undertake may be the last thing we do in our mortal lives. The gods smile down on us, but it is our own actions that must be made, our own courage and strength tested, and our own beliefs to be tried."
"I will stand by the three of you, and I vow here and now that I will withhold nothing in my abilities to see all of us through to the end, and to the beginning of a new time where the darkness that has plagued our land shall be lifted." He then sealed his vow with an act of respect reserved for great kings, gods, and others of equal importance: he knelt down into seiza, and bowed low, until his forehead touched the ground.
[Edited by Max on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 9:40 AM]
07/03/2007 2:34 PM
Zaon watched each of them with rapt attention, careful to watch for every crease in their faces that might tell him that they found some measure of displeasure in what he had created. "I'm sure you will Muirin. Vethisjach, the Draconic word for 'My Shadow', Will let you step into the Plane of Shadows. You can even attack from inside of shadows prevalent in an area. I thought you would like it. Just say 'kear' and you'll pop right back into whatever Plane you came from."
The unstable Half-Dragon was especially proud of seeing Arothir smile. Cavaliers were not exactly known to be overly free with praise or emotions, so any small display meant a lot to the child-like man. Zaon assumed that setting the cloak aside was simply a matter of confusion, and tried hard to take no offence. "Irthos is the 'secret' of your cloak. Light will bend and bounce around you randomly, making it hard to discern your exact location. Ocuir will make you return to normal." Zaon thought he was very clever with his little joke, since irthos translated into secret anyway. "I'm glad to see I got the symbol for your House correctly done. It was very tricky."
Only Oceandune gave him any reason for concern, [i]And after I went through all the trouble of finding a pearl big enough that it wouldn't look like a pebble around his neck. Some people are just ungrateful it would seem.[/i] But then Oceandune's face changed with some sort of inner realization and he bowed to Zaon's father. This upset the boy all over again, but the enjoyment he received from watching the staff he had made grow, just like it was supposed to, washed that little irritation away. Such mood swings were common for the half-dragon after all. "Your necklace will also affect your sight. Illusions will fail before the magics built within, and even magical darkness won't block your perceptions. You can see the farthest of anyone, so it seemed appropriate." Then there was Ocendunes speach, and the BIG bow, that left Zaon, for the first time in his life, speachless.
Talios continued to rest for just another moment. They had an hour before he had to leave. "In one hour we will depart for our destinies. Meet me in the courtyard when you are ready. Zaon will bring you to where you wish to go. I suggest you walk through my gardens. You may need the reminder of exactly what it is you go to save to strengthen you on your journey." And with that statement, no fanfare or visible effect at all, Talios winked out of existence, leaving the room rather dim, lit only by the glow of the magical items in the room, and seemingly much larger than it had been a moment before.
[Edited by oldnoblewolf on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 2:39 PM]
"Your necklace will also affect your sight. Illusions will fail before the magics built within, and even magical darkness won't block your perceptions. You can see the farthest of anyone, so it seemed appropriate."
"Many thanks and gratitude, Young Zaon." He replied with a genuine smile. He was hesitant with the descriptor he used, but it seemed appropriate regarding his mindset, if nothing else. Indeed, even if he turned out to be older than the rest of them, he was probably still young by his own standards. Being the son of a dragon, his lifespan would likely exceed even the elf's -[i][b]Muirin[/b][/i], he had to reinforce within himself once again.
And with that statement, no fanfare or visible effect at all, Talios winked out of existence, leaving the room rather dim, lit only by the glow of the magical items in the room, and seemingly much larger than it had been a moment before.
The sudden disappearance of the massive dragon startled Oceandune. It was instantaneous, and absolute, and left him feeling as empty as the gigantic room now seemed. For the first time, he knew just how immensely massive the room they were in was, because there was not a presence to fill it. It was larger than any room he had ever seen, even within the castle of the Head of the Clan of Storm Giants whom he was a member of. The room itself was probably larger than entire human castles.
When he came to grips with the size of the room, he turned to Zaon.
"I believe that your father has shown his wisdom once again. If you would be so kind, I would enjoy some time to meander through the gardens, and I believe, as your father said, that we would all benefit from such an outing. Perhaps you could even show us a few spots where we could wash up in the stream or a spring."
07/15/2007 5:22 AM
Zaon was looking at the empty spot in the room and looking rather sad. The rest of them would never have to stare into the dark recesses of this plase, knowing that it would never be filled again. Zaon would have to come home. The thought sent shivers through his spine. Haveing to watch his father die would be the hardest thing he ever had to do. "Okay, Oceandune. I'll take everyone okay? I don't think I ever want to come back into this room again." Again Zaon began his chanting and the sensation of being sucked through a straw came back. Zaon barely felt it, barely heard the words he was saying. Nothing could keep him down for long though.
The appearance of the gardens shifted him from sadness to contentment, and the sight of one of the animals set his heart a flutter. Back to his perky self, he turned to Murian, Oceandune and Arothir. "I have a wonderful idea. How would you each of you like your own private tour guides? The animals here are very helpful, and if you give me a second I can find animals to take each of you in a seperate direction. They'll show you around, and it will give each of you time to bath in something close to privacy. Then they will bring you back here when it's time to go." He stooped down to talk to a rabbit that was hiding behind Oceandunes leg, haveing mistaken it for a new tree. About a minute of otherwise uninteligible noises the rabbit ran off and Zaon stood up and smiled. About a minute later three does came out from hideing to help lead his friends through the wood.
"They are here for you, good, good. You can walk up to them, touch them, whatever. They are very friendly. Here, give them one of these to say thank you." Zaon quickly handed out sugar cubes, and then realized Oceandune would probably loose it in his hand. "Sorry everything's so small. I didn't come equiped for Storm Giant guides."
07/16/2007 7:27 PM
Staring blankly for a few moments at the empty space that Zaon's father had occupied, still digesting the day's events. It was only after he fully processed everything that be came aware of his own drowsiness. He had fought in a battle, flown hundreds of miles, climbed a mountain, and talked with the most revered of dragons, all without having ever slept or rested.
It was then that Zaon transported the new companions once more. Finding himself again in the gardens, slightly disoriented, Arothir scabbarded his still naked sword and took one of the sugar cubes from Zaon. Offering the morsel to one of the deer, Arothir found himself led away almost immediately. After only a few minutes of wandering, his eyes fell upon a spring. It did not take the Aasimar long to bathe and dress himself again. Knights quickly learned to be efficient rather than frivelous with their time. Once finished, the deer led Arothir, hair still hanging damply, out to the main gardens.
Stretching himself out on the ground, back braced against a jutting, smooth rock, the knight allowed himself a few long moments of undisturbed rest while he waited for his companions to return. Even before they did, however, Arothir was woken by a harsh call. Looking up, he smiled to see that Basilio had somehow, by the magic of Talios, found his way here. The mighty griffon was near-hopping toward Arothir, beak parted as if it were going to run up and lick him. Forcing himself up, the knight ran his gloved fingers through the feathered mane of the great creature and checked all its harnesses and straps to assure it was ready to go when the time came.
At the sound of footfalls, Arothir turned to see which of his stalwart companions was returning so quickly. . .
"Sorry everything's so small. I didn't come equiped for Storm Giant guides."
A large grin broke out on Oceandune's face.
"No need for an apology. I have long since grown accustomed to items that are ill suited to my size. As unusual as it may seem, I know very much how you may feel in my presence. As I'm sure you know, I lived with my father's clan for a time, and believe me when I say that I am small compared to their stature.
"And I was in the company of hundreds of beings of such size," he finished with a wink, and put out his hand to have the sugar cube dropped into it.
When he had received his cube, and saw Arothir beckoning towards one of the deer. Following suit, he held out his hand toward on of the other does, and patiently waited as it crept nearer. At this point, he was focused entirely on the doe, pushing thoughts of all of his companions away.
He crouched down, lessening his imposing stature. From his throat, there was issued a series of coos, clicks, and other various noises.
[i]Here you go, I have sweets for you.[/i]
The doe's head cocked to the side.
He motioned reassuringly, [i]Yes, it's a gift from Zaon.[/i]
Tentatively, the doe nibbled the sugar cube out of his hand, which could easily have engulfed the doe's entire head had he so wished.
As it was, he didn't want to, and instead moved his hand across the doe's back. Then, more noises came out of his throat.
[i]Would you happen to know of a good place to get a drink, and rest?[/i]
The doe looked up and barked, stomping her front left hoof on the ground.
Oceandune smiled. [i]Could you show me?[/i]
The doe nuzzled his hand, then turned around and leapt off into the woods. With a grin, Oceandune bounded after her, following her lithe form through the woods.
[OOC: ahh...sorry, I'm tired and can't finish this...I know it's horrible to leave a half of an entry, but I'll finish it tomorrow.]
The unpleasant feeling from Zaon's method of transporting them dissipated more quickly this time, perhaps overshadowed by the still-lingering feeling of loss created by Talios' absence.
Wonder at the beauty of the gardens, too, helped to dissipate the sensation of stomach roiling, and began to fill that space created by the dragon's vanishing.
Charmed by Zaon's conversation with the rabbit Muirin gasped with pleasure at the sight of the does, delicate and unsurpassingly elegant, and seeming to lack the customary timidity. Taking the sugar with thanks from the half-dragon she went down to a crouch and held it out to the doe on her palm, the black nose twitching gently a few times before the treat was carefully taken. The doe regarded her with large, liquid eyes as the elf moved her hand, waiting for a sign of assent before rubbing her neck lightly, a gentle warmth felt in her hand through the soft hair there, silken near the large, sensitive ears.
Standing slowly she turned to their host.
"Thank you for this, Zaon. This memory will remind me of our purpose, no matter how dark our path may become".
After bowing deeply she followed the deer through the tree, walking as slowly as the new boots would allow, pausing frequently to examine the wonderous array of plants that grew in the small sanctuary, some of which she had memories of from childhood, many more the like of which she had never seen. They came presently to a small, crystalline pool, nestled in a bower of sweet-smelling honeysuckle and jasmin.
Resisting the lure of the water for a short while she instead drew her blade, almost reluctantly, and moved through a few drills, examining how the enchantments of the boots affected her speed, her movement and balance, and how to compensate. It felt a little strange, but she had experience of fighting under similar effects so it was not as difficult as she had feared. Satisfied finally that she had their measure she removed them and her armour, slipping gratefully into the pool.
The water was cold and refreshing, reinvigorating her, seeming almost to wash away the memories of the hardship of the climb, and even of the months before it. It was deep enough near the centre that she was able to duck her head under and dive a little, sinking to the bottom to watch the light filter through the leaves above the pool and onto the water.
She emerged, finally, feeling more rested than if she had slept deeply for hours and followed the doe back through the greenery; barefoot, now, carrying the boots in one hand, enjoying the feeling of moss under her toes, and grass where the trail wove out from under the shade into brighter patches.
She wore a large and relaxed smile on her face when she emerged into the gardens, enjoying the brief respite for what it was. The smile grew even broader when she saw the large griffon standing beside Arothir. She approached slowly, keeping her movements slow and calm, her eyes bright with awe.
"So Talios is not the only warden of beauty, I see. It has been so long since I have seen a griffon! Oh he is marvellous".
07/18/2007 9:49 AM
[I]Did you send them to the healing springs?[/I] Talios's thoughts were not quite so big and booming over this small distance, and Zaon was accustomed to it.
[I]Yes, Father. I sent them with your deer.
You are sure they know what to do?
Yes Father, I spoke with them yesterday, and again this morning.[/I] Zaon's growing annoyance with his father was apparent in the tone of his thoughts.
[I]I just have to make sure. I only get one chance at this you know.
You know, Father, you could just choose to stay. I'm sure the world would much rather have you than some stupid artifacts.
The Children of Darkness have already left to retrieve them, and we have very little time my son. The world will have them one way or another; I would rather they were in the hands of those blessed by Bahamut. His sister will not be forgiving.
You know, I always wondered, why she doesn't have heads for all of her children. Why only the metallic?
The psyonic dragons were not originally hers. When she killed their master, she thought all of them would follow her without question. Half came to me, and the others left for her courts, but I don't see how that is important right now.
You're right, Father. Should I come help you get ready? I still don't know how you intend to get that thing on your back?
Don't worry about me, my Sun. I'll be just fine.[/I]
Zaon started petting his rabbit friend, and tears fell from his eyes. His father had never called him that before, and for some reason he couldn't explain, it made him very sad.
The doe nuzzled his hand, then turned around and leapt off into the woods. With a grin, Oceandune bounded after her, following her lithe form through the woods.
Almost an hour later, Oceandune returned. As he emerged into the clearing where they had last met, he saw the wonderful creature standing by the side of Arothir, and one of his great grins broke out onto his face.
"So Talios is not the only warden of beauty, I see. It has been so long since I have seen a griffon! Oh he is marvellous".
"Indeed. You must count yourself lucky to have such a companion, and friend, Arothir."
Looking at the beast, he saw the intelligence behind the bestial visage. He was enamored with the beast, and gave it a showing of respect.
Turning to Arothir and Muirin, he greeted them. "I hope you each rested and enjoyed the pleasantness of Talos's gardens as much as I did."
07/23/2007 1:15 AM
Smiling easily as Muirin entered the garden, Arothir bowed his head at the compliment, his smile widening at her obvious pleasure. He repeated the gesture as Oceandune arrived, the griffon seeming to copy this action by puffing his chest and dipping his head low. "He is Basilio. King,' Arothir translated. 'And he is our companion now, rather than mine alone. He will journey with us.'
Stroking the great beast's black-tinged beak with one hand, he held out his other to Oceandune and marvelled at the pure size of that hand, making his own seem as that of a small child. 'Rested enough to continue. I fear none of us will find complete respite until the sun's light again touches more than just this mountaintop.'
Arothir said no more. Zaon would be along to collect them shortly, and then this quest would begin in earnest and the companions would have to bid farewell to the sun and the trees once again, perhaps never to see them again. It was a sobering thought, and Arothir's silence was not lost on his companions.
Muirin knew her pleasure at the gardens was writ plainly on her face, and so nothing more was needed to affirm Oceandune's words.
She hadn't been surprised to find Arothir first returned to the spot where they would await Zaon: of course he would have an appreciation for the beauty abundant in Talios' living treasure, but he did not strike her as one who could sit at leisure easily while such a task lay before them.
She, too, felt the weight of the time they did not have to waste pressing upon her, but she had [i]needed[/i] to wander in the green. She had felt like a ghost in her own skin for so long, now, so apart from everything else around her, so lost in the mire of old memories and the leaden pull of their attached emotions, that to be surrounded by such pure beauty, untouched, unsullied, to be able to just [i]be[/i], to let that peace watch over her, had been a gift that she would need if she was to persevere.
"He is Basilio. King,' Arothir translated. 'And he is our companion now, rather than mine alone. He will journey with us.'
"Basilio..." she said the name under her breath, smiling at the great beast's posturing, the magical light gleaming with a deep magnificence in his feathers.
[i]A king indeed[/i].
She nodded at Arothir's next, more sombre words.
"But it will prove a powerful memory should our resolve be tested, no? Talios is wise indeed".
She looked towards the castle, the realisation of the full extent of the Gold's shrewdness making her smile ruefully. A pleasant rest providing a deeper motivation, as if they had needed it.
"If everyone could have seen this-" she gestured at the verdant life that surrounded them, "what an effect it could have. After so much darkness to see this wonder... how much hope it would breed.. My home was once this beautiful- Lithaldoren," her tone grew wistful. "We saw such beauty every moment of our lives; never did we think it would fade, be swallowed by shadow. It has been too long since I returned there. I could not-".
She bit off her words, conscious suddenly of their nature, and of standing before two who were, for all purposes, strangers. Each had their tale, none less sorrowful than her own.
"And what of your homes, friends? They fare little better than mine, I imagine, but do you remember a time when they were different?"
"And what of your homes, friends? They fare little better than mine, I imagine, but do you remember a time when they were different?"
At these words, Oceandune could not help but think of the Monastery where he had grown up.
With a slight clearing of his throat, he spoke. "Aye. My home, the Monastery, was nestled on a mountainside, overlooking a valley within the Sunrise Mountains, which bordered Thay.
"Many would not believe that the beauty which I cannot express of the surrounding lands could be so near the evil land of Thay, but it does. Even the Thayans, for the most part, had beautiful countryside, with wide sweeping plains and plateaus. The deserts of The Endless Waste had a certain beauty to them as well, as you watched the sun rise over in the mornings."
He gave a small chuckle.
"We had a game - Thekd and I - of sorts, of traveling into The Endless Waste to spar in the early morning, before the sun came up. We would continue until the sands grew too hot to walk on, and the sun too unbearable overhead. You would never imagine such colors in a sunrise, except as you see it rise over the deserts of The Endless Waste."
At the mention of Thekd, his heart was brought down a touch. The familiar telepathic bond which they shared had been dormant for some time, ever since the small Half-Celestial left this plane with his mother's people over a year ago. Oceandune missed having his quick, sarcastic comments on everything, the humor and brightness which the small man brought to each adventure sorely missed. Oceandune refused to believe anything but the best, believing the great, although diminutive, Aranala'aqir to be alive and fighting.
Idly, he wondered if his friend would be with him now, on the mountaintop of the Great Talios, were he not already fighting on another plane.
"Of course, ours was one of the first to be overran. The Thayans, in their arrogance, thought they could use the blight that has come across the world to their advantage, and sought the Dark Army's assistance in destroying everything. They had never found the Monastery before that time - it had been protected long ago with wards and magic the likes of which I have only heard of in tales of Myth Drannor, and the ancient Elven Cities - but with the Dark Army's help, they cleared the entire range of mountains of all life, and it was inevitable that they stumbled across it.
"It wasn't long after this that the Dark Army turned on the Red Wizards, destroying their homeland and killing them off. From that point on, fueled by the magic they plundered in the catacombs of Red Wizards' vaults all over, they spread, and the rest is, as they say, history."
Oceandune felt himself weighing himself down with these words, and realized that the painting he had just made was not a pretty picture, and such was what they should be reinforcing themselves with at this time.
"I am sorry. I seem to have strayed into our present, dark times. Arothir, what about you? What beauties of your home might you share with us?"
While waiting for his answer, he looked out. He felt his spirits rising once more as he gazed out at the beauty of the mountaintop. They would succeed, and the land will once more be just as beautiful as it once was.
08/01/2007 4:48 AM
Listening intently to Muirin, and then to Oceandune. He did nothing but stroke the feathery mane of his companion, occasionally rechecking a few straps on the beast's saddle, or even the strap's of his own armour. While he may have seemed somewhat disinterested, the truth was that Arothir memorized every word spoken, visualizing every blade of grass. Judging from their stories, the knight assumed he must be many decades, perhaps even a century or more, younger than the others.
Turning at Oceandune's prompting, Arothir's face registered no emotion, only grim practicality of fact.
"No beauty to speak of, such as it is. I was born to dimming light; winter in the North. By the time I could make memories, the sun had already been stolen and fell things walked in shadows outside the glow of great fires. Hethom Castle is where I was squired, and knighted, outside the town of Ceirn.
I served there until a madness took the place. And I know not if it still stands, or in what condition. Like his father before him, my father was a knight. Also like his father, he died while he son was still young. My mother is the only good memory I may have to share, but no words can do justice to her kindness or her courage."
Arothir would say no more. Even the mention of his mother had not seemed to spark much show of emotion, except to those that looked very closely for the subtle changes in tone of voice or posture. The knight's entire mood was overwhelmed by determination. Muirin and Oceandune may be fighting to restore the world to what they remember and cherish, but Arothir was fighting for a world he had never known and needed to believe could exist.
Impatiently, Basilio stamped the ground, flipping his head. Arothir chuckled.
"He is not so subtle. But I share his feelings. We should be on our way."
08/09/2007 3:33 AM
Zaon sighed as he watched the companions from a distance. He had no sad stories to share, or horrible things to tell, and so once again felt somehow left out. His greatest complaint in life had always been that he had no friends, and now that seemed like such a small thing to complain about in comparison. Zaon knew the time was approaching, and the mental nudge he got from Talios Sent him walking out onto the path proper and out to greet the people who were supposed to save the world.
As he stepped out into the path, Zaon started speaking, so as not to startle anyone. "I'm sorry I didn't get to spend more time with you three, but there will be plenty of time to talk on the trip. Father says the journey is for him like the mountain was for you. We won't notice anything going on, but the trip will sap his strength." He looked to make sure each of them had taken some water, and the affects were quite obvious to him, and then motioned for them to follow him. "We can walk this time. The trip is far to pretty to miss, and my friends want to wish you good luck."
As Zaon turned to go he listened for the sounds that would tell him of the people following him. He had to turn and look anyway though. Birds appeared on branches where there had been none, rabbits and squirrels sat along the path. Every animal you could conceivably find in the old world was patiently waiting for them to pass. Oceandune would hear well wishes, and hopes of safe keeping, while the rest would just hear the clamoring of animals.
As they left the woods behind, a rather abrupt event, Talios came into view. He appeared to be situated under what could only be called a large gazebo that he obviously intended to carry on his back. (It's the only way I could come up with to carry you all without putting you in my mouth.) The comment seemed offhanded as Talios shifted underneath the thing. Stairs appeared leading up, and each of them would find a box containing two smallish stones. Zaon picked them up immediately, and set them to floating around his head. (These will keep you free of hunger, thirst, and the need to sleep while you are in the Dragon Graveyard. They are yours to keep after you are done.)
[Edited by oldnoblewolf on Thursday, August 9, 2007 3:35 AM]
As they made their way, Oceandune could hear the animals' farewells and good wishes. He was astounded at the diversity of the animals, and grateful for their presence.
Once they had cleared the forest, and Talios came into view, it was only too apparent that their grievous task was about to begin. The burden of the structure on the Great Wyrm's back was great, and would have been insulting if made for any other purpose. As it was, as the Wise Dragon had said, it was necessary.
Without a word of protest, which would be insulting even though it was in defense of Talios's comfortability and nobility, Oceandune cliimbed the stairs and picked up his own Ioun Stones. He had heard of these little wonders, had studied them, but had never used one himself. They were extremely hard to find, and Oceandune's feelings of gratitude towards the Great Wyrm increased even more.
"You seem to have thought of everything, Wise One, and if I were as naive as I was in my youth I would say that you have. I know from experience, however, that not everything can be planned for. Nevertheless, with all of the foresight you have shown, and all of your generosity, I believe that we are fit to overcome any obstacle, foreseen or otherwise.
"I am ready, Great Talios. I shall grieve for the loss of your great presence on this world, and celebrate your passing on to your next life. A simple show of gratitude for all you have done is all I can give you, and a promise to see the task you have given us through to the end, whether of myself or the task."
[Edited by Max on Monday, October 1, 2007 3:57 PM]
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