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5/27 Forgotten Sins

JWaldman Jun 6th, 2019 382 Never
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  1.  Promises and suspicions both proven and broken lead the hungry and curious to darkened, ancient places- seeking power both greater and new alike. Darkened clouds amass the skies, casting craggy mountainous landscape in pitch-black treachery. Neither star nor moon illuminating jagged landscape.
  2.  
  3. Nearby sea smashed against stony shore, crashing with aqueous fury - sending frigid mist into the blackened air and filling night with the damp suction of receding tide. Hollow and empty, a lifeless drain of sea and stone.
  4.  
  5. For the uneducated and unwary this is but a place of death; ruinous shores and violent tempestuous waters mean all but the wary and knowing are bound for catastrophe. But the cautious, the well-learned and duteous would spot the signs. Ancient occult magic etched into the very land. Sigils and symbols to guide promising students and inform learned masters. Instructions to find entry into safe haven and secure hideaway.
  6.  
  7. A gateway below the stone tomb of the mountain - deep into earthen stronghold deep and mighty. Flames of darkness illuminating at the mere presence of those in possession of kin-like power. The very air contaminated with the seeping corrosion of vile influence; those yet untainted by occult power no doubt able to -feel- it clawing at their very lungs with every breath.
  8.  
  9. And deeper they were invited. All chill from outside ceasing, replaced instead with the sweltering, stifling heat of stone and earth. A grave.
  10.  
  11.  He had been brought for a reason. The Adjudicator of Dawn rarely went to things himself, much preferring to work from afar, but as the sea smashed against the stony shore, grey and gold jewels narrowed. His arms would cross upon his chest as he slowly walked across the occult marred lands.
  12.  
  13. "Hope there's something ta be found fer ma here." He mumbled, occultism already boiling with hate, and whispers of betrayal around him. He walked onwards, following they had towards the stone tomb, as darkness danced to illuminate the air around.
  14.  
  15. "Siro. Giv' tha' run down. Ya said this was an occultic place, ya? Wha' else is it? Cause it's lookin' like a tomb. A grave. Ain't tha' I ain't use ta grave robbin'."
  16. (Sors Ultovex)
  17. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  18.  The tainted Sarradian's demeanor had alternated between pensive contemplation and eager invigoration as they group made their way across the treacherous and rarely trodden paths of Agarth leading to the cache.
  19.  
  20. The pearlescent jewel was never tucked away for long as it was used as a compass for the journey. The visions, constant as they had been lately, filled Sirocco with a dreamy mixture of deja vu and nostalgia as the faux memories played out in reality before him.
  21.  
  22. "We draw near to where it beckons." He murmurs rubbing his thumb across the warm smooth surface of the artifact. "Once the seat of power hidden from the twisting power of the Spires." He continues, more to himself than the group.
  23.  
  24. The prophetic dreams had always come with such ominous quotes. Some were direct passages from the Memoir of The Umbral Path, others seemed to be undocumented accounts from the authors albeit spoken in voices familiar to the Sarradian.
  25.  
  26. "When first we came here we thought we were damned, but in the end it was our redemption, our haven. Here we practiced our art great and terrible unfettered by the powers beyond that would stifle its growth and our consequent depravity."
  27.  
  28. He blinks a few times and casts a glance to Sors. Had that been explanation enough? It had come to him before the question was even posed yet it seemed fitting.
  29.  
  30. "They had many sites, but this was their first that could be called home."
  31. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  32. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  33.  You know, despite Sirocco asking him to come along on this he still had no idea what he was doing, but instead of asking questions like a reasonable person. Chaaca just shrugs and follows his group along. What could go wrong?
  34.  
  35. Oh boy, this place didn't look pleasant, not one bit. His blue eyes darted from party member to party member. Hopefully they had more of an idea of what's going on here. He'd give a simple shrug, as he focused on the crypt ahead of them.
  36.  
  37. "Yea, uhh. No idea what we're doing, but I need to collect some legs... Sooo, here's hoping there's a lot of shmucks here." There was another shrug.
  38.  
  39. Well, here goes nothing.
  40. (Chaaca Khan)
  41. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  42.  Ser Artaghh, knight of the Green Hill, was as uneducated and unwary as they came. Were he to have stumbled upon this dark crypt in the depths of the foul earth, it was more than likely that he would have simply gotten lost, or worse yet, died in a violent and theatric manner. But luckily, that was not the case!
  43.  
  44. No, Sirocco and Sors were two of the most belligently malevolent, keen minded occultists in all of Agartha's demense, and with steady leading from his noble companions, the black plate knight would be led deep into the suffocating tomb of gravesoil and darkness. It smelled like Dawn almost, which was disconcerting.
  45.  
  46. Man, Dawn smelled like shit.
  47.  
  48. "Alrigh', les' fuck kill some undead an' seize some treasure boys. No fear."
  49.  
  50.  
  51. (Artaghh)
  52. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  53.  {NARRATION} And so they -descended- each darkened flight of stairs seeming to grow more and more decreped and ancient. Weathered from an eternity of usage, of unknown, and unseen feet walking up and down. It was hard to say just how far below the surface they had come and gone; the torches that lit, extinguished mere feet behind them, leaving them in a transient bubble of vile light.
  54.  
  55. Sors, naturally, seemed to take the lead. Swiftly moving over stair without hesitation or issue. Leading his people into the darkness beyond. Those same people, however, were not so lucky. For the marshal of Dawn's legion, heavily armored peasent as he was, put a foot down upon what seemed to be as inoccuous a step as any other and the faintest of stone-grinding clicks echoed through the somber stairwell.
  56.  
  57. It took a minute, ancient mechanisms were never known for their stability or reliability. But the cieling began to crack and give-way. A metal sphere fell down, onto teh stairs behind them. They had time to sprint, to run for their lives. But no luxury to dally if they wanted to get out un-injured.
  58.  
  59. Down the flight of stairs he hovered. The Adjudicator was quick to take the lead, almosttoo quick as he hovered. But it might have been this hovering that allowed him to avoid the trap. Without feet to touch the ground with, he moved to the other side, and once past it, he began to activate a pair of rifts.
  60.  
  61. Undead would start to spill out, but seconds later he heard the stone grinding of clicks behind. That wasn't a good sound. Looking down the hallway, the Adjudicator was quick to open a rift and vanish into it, stepping out far away from where the metal sphere began to descend on them from behind. He floated quick, moving away from the sphere.
  62.  
  63. "Ya'll can all fly, why would ya step on a trap like tha'." He growled. "Go further inta tha' haven o' I'm leavin' ya behind. I want ta see wha' this hidden seat's 'bout."
  64. (Sors Ultovex)
  65. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  66.  Still engrossed between the images of the past and the reality of the present the Withwraith Paladin is unwary of the devious wards that may have been set to slow, incapacitate, or kill any who were unworthy.
  67.  
  68. Still with the ceiling began to crack it was enough to jar Sirocco out of his daze. The outline of his form began to shimmer and glisten as his molecular structure loosened and changed.
  69.  
  70. In the blink of an eye he shifted from a man to a cloud of dark mist swirling unimpeded down the chasms after Sors in an attempt to elude and dodge the metal sphere.
  71. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  72. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  73.  Stairs! You just gotta love stairs, nothin can ever go wrong when you're walking down the stairs... Well except for falling down. That was bad, other than that? Nothing could possibly go wrong!
  74.  
  75. Then he hears it, the faintest sounds of clicking in the background.... That doesn't sounds pleasant, no not one bit. That's when it happened, a giant metal sphere came stumbling down from the ceiling.
  76.  
  77. Mhm, mhm. Yea, we're gonna not deal with that. With a quick tap of his trident to the ground he would attempt to full on flip the gravity of the area... Well, not the entire area. Just the specific part where ball was falling. Anyways! Provided this works the ball would be sent spiraling back up to where it came from.
  78.  
  79. If that didn't work? He'd simply rip open a small portion of space to create a small black hole to suck the ball back into it. Hopefully buying himself some time to escape.
  80.  
  81. Hopefully one of these plans would succeed.
  82. (Chaaca Khan)
  83. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  84.  
  85.  Ser Artaghh would stumble blindly and haphazardly through the cramped depths of the occultic ruins, his black plated sabatons clanking down loudly and heavily with a ringing cacophony as he puffed away steadily at his corn cob pipe, the minty smoke cleansing his mouth of the foul taste of death that hung with density in the air.
  86.  
  87. Naturally, this meant it was his heavy footsteps that activated the trap that now ended up tumbling forth towards the knight with dangerous intent! It would have been a good time to remember that despite the marshal's size, he was fully and entirely capable of flight, and this shouldn't have proven to be an issue if he'd simply been more thoughtful.
  88.  
  89. But being thoughtful was for cowards.
  90.  
  91. Blinking at the distant approach of the metal sphere, the knight would focus upon the distant signature of Sors energy and concentrating firmly upon it before simply phasing out of the living realm entirely, dissipating in a shimmer of ethereal energy as he stepped through the cracks between the spirit realm and their present occupance with the practiced skill of a master of the mystic arts.
  92.  
  93. Were he fast enough to phase away from the sphere of no no hurts, he'd appear with an audible "POP" sound beside the distant Sors, stepping back through into the living realm with a bark of hearty laughter.
  94. (Artaghh)
  95. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  96. {NARRATION} With a mighty, echoing clang the metal sphere hit the stairs and everyone - except the fish - scattered. Sors with his rifts, Sirocco disappointing into mis and Artaghh phasing through the spirit realm to reappear at the Adjudicator's side in an instant. Not entirely unlike roaches faced with a source of light; dashing to the far end of the stairwell and leaving their sirenian companion to face down the fearsome wrath of metal on his lonesome.
  97.  
  98. Thankfully gravity was still, entirely, a thing and as suddenly, and spectacularly, as it had come crashing down - the orb went crashing back up. Wedging its self back into the ceiling from whence it had come. Dust and fragments of brick and tile raining down onto the stairs, cracks spreading outwards from the site of impact. It might be wise to hurry onwards, in any case. But it seemed Chaaca had saved himself! Congratulations to that man.
  99.  
  100. Behind him, the others were on their way to the bottom of the stairs. Coming out into a great, cavernous hall - massive stone statues lining the walls, their weathered features almost impossible to make out through a combination of darkness and age. People long dead, revered and venerated enough, however, to earn memorials in this most ancient of places. Names etched into plinths, tablets with stories and histories written in dead languages. All, seemingly, for nothing.
  101.  
  102. Someone else seemed to have taken up residence here. Reverence for the dead mattered little - as a great number of tables had been set up spanning the vast hall instead. Plates and platters covered them, as if expecting a great party to arrive. In the center was a huge, bubbling pot of stew.
  103.  
  104. Between each pot was a series of cages. Each one containing a single human - non-magi specifically. A simple lock sealing each one tight. If one desired - it might have been possible to free them, to deny this feast their meal. But it might simply have been faster to move on. Clearly, they weren't here to free the poor and unfortunate.
  105.  
  106.  
  107. They arrived. with the metal sphere hitting the stairs behind them, the Adjudicator was quick to move on from the trap. It seemed to have been stopped behind him, the blue Whispering Eye watching as Chaaca seemed to do his best to save them all, but he didn't go back to congraduate or assist. Instead he moved on, aiming to arrive at the next room.
  108.  
  109. Lo and behold, a great cavernous hall, massive stone statues, and feathers. The grey and gold narrowed.
  110.  
  111. "Hideous. Reminds ma o' 'hennans an' their backwards society." He growled, moving further into the room. A number of tables were seen, illuminated by the dark light stemming from the Adjudicator's aura, before seeing the bubbling pot of stew. His gold and grey narrowed, before the blue eye fell on one of the cages. He walked closer to them.
  112.  
  113. "Huh. Reinforcements." The Adjudcator, surprisingly was here to free the poor and unfortunate. From the rest of their lives. A single finger raised, astral force gathering on the end of it to fire into one of the non-magi, aiming to kill in a single blow. If successful, he would open the lock and drag the body out, preparing to add another body to his horde.
  114.  
  115. He'd do this to all if not stopped and if they had the time.
  116. (Sors Ultovex)
  117. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  118.  
  119.  Sirocco walks along the rows of aged statues considering each one carefully as well as the placards that named them and their deeds. He searched for any sign of recognition and would occasionally hold up the Jewel of The Mind out towards one to see if there was any reaction.
  120.  
  121. As for the poor humans being held for the feast? It would be rude of him to disturb a meal set out presumably in his honor. The Heir had come to claim what was rightfully his.
  122.  
  123. "Wind, flame, water, and storm each had their sect but they were faithful all to the single pillar that united them and thus the world against them." He says softly, uncaring for the plight of those in the cages.
  124.  
  125. A terrible fate was in store for them, but how much longer could they run from it anyways? To end up here meant they were Truthless and likely had never known choice and simply could not.
  126.  
  127. The eyes set upon him as he scanned the rows of figures forgotten by time prickled his hardened ashen skin yet he continued to put the jewel out before each. Surely this satisfied It at least.
  128. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  129. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  130.  
  131. Ser Artaghh would scratch idly at his eyes as he followed along into the cavernous expanse of the dread dining hall, his one eye opening and shutting repeatedly as he took in the ancient fortress' sights with the sort of curiosity that got the cat killed. That was the saying, right? The knight wasn't sure, he isn't particularly good at reading, nor common sayings.
  132.  
  133. The commander's one eye slowly trailed from the worn statues and their frozen features to the engravings below them, as incomprehensible due to the darkness as it was from the peasant's general illiteracy and lack of multi-lingual studies. Finally, his attention would fall to the bubbling pots of stew, the distant waft of a hearty broth this deep below the earth a strange thing indeed.
  134.  
  135. Oh wait, that was people stew. Bad. Bad stew.
  136.  
  137. As the imprisoned non-magi came to the bald swordsmen's attention, he would blink with revelation as he put two and two together withinthe steadily grinding cogs of his higher functions. Something lived down here, and it liked eating people....He was people.
  138.  
  139. "Mmmm, coul' leave'm behin', nae any poin' in savin' folks tha' are already dead. Course, cou' use'm ta' our advantage too, lure wha'ever's comin' fer brunch ou' while we crouch in the shadows an' kill the fuckers. Nae any preference me'self, jus' happy'ta be here."
  140. (Artaghh)
  141. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  142. Phew. Thankfully he didn't get crushed, so that's always nice!
  143.  
  144. As the group progressed further and further into the tomb, crypt thing. Chaaca's eyes darted around, as he curiously inspected everything that happened to be in the general rea. Such as the neat statues! He couldn't really see what they looked like mind you, but they sure looked neat!
  145.  
  146. It was then that his eyes landed on the tables. Huh, that's a weird thing to find in a crypt, but it's probably nothing horrible, right? He then noticed all the cages with the non-magi's in it, as well as the cooking pots that resided next to them.
  147.  
  148. Huh, yea no this was probably bad. Oh well, time to free th-.
  149.  
  150. Aaaaand Sors had already killed them. Neat.
  151.  
  152. Well I guess undeath is it's own freedom of sorts. He'd give a slight, shrug as he continued along. Sadly there was nothing he could do for the poor captives. Except for like, but them a hot chocolate after this whole thing was over. Provided they all survived.
  153.  
  154. And I mean, undead or not, who doesn't like hot chocolate?
  155. (Chaaca Khan)
  156. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  157.  {NARRATION} There -were- faint reactions to the stone with each statue. Words and phrases on the tablets lighting up with occult energy, radiating nullified magics - key phrases and terms that, unfortunately, not a single person among them would have been able to read. Surely they all would have meant something, at some point. To someone.
  158.  
  159. Far more colloquially - almost simply - the characters that lit up, the numbers of words and phrases would be required. Not to advance; but to assist Sors in his newfound task. As each and every one of the captives fell dead, the combination locks would prove to be somewhat difficult to open. Whoever had set them up didn't want even other magi to steal their feast. And so they had been wrought of Tyrium. Breaking them would be difficult. But each one would require a simple code; one easily found by counting and matching the illuminated words to their paired lock.
  160.  
  161. But that was just a menial task at this point, as the people had been slain in favor of becoming far stronger than mere non-magi; but soldiers in the necromancer's undead army. They would be far more useful like this. Dedicated to a cause, rather than a feast.
  162.  
  163. However - the local chef would not be happy. And at the far end of the room a great stone door rose and a lone figure came striding in. Clad, loosely, in a bloody apron. A cleaver in each hand. He hadn't been expecting intruders so early; the feast wasn't even ready! As he crossed the massive hall, glowing eyes looked from one legionnaire to the next before voicing the only thought on his mind;
  164.  
  165. "Who are you?"
  166.  
  167.  The Windwraith Paladin was so intrigued by the strange interaction the statues seemed to have with the Jewel that he had not heard the butcher's approach nor even the final cries of those that Lord Ultovex had slaughtered.
  168.  
  169. He violet eyes shift over slowly to the menacing figure and he frowns, "You throw a feast in my honor and do not even know who I am?" He asks coyly.
  170.  
  171. The pale hand raises to his chest, inky black beads appearing all over the ashen limb like a pox. "I am Sirocco Vishkar, Heir to this place and its people."
  172.  
  173. He begins to exude a powerful wave of occult force as the dark beads flatten out and coalesce shrouding his arm in the void force. The limb begins to length at the elbow then flows out away from his chest forming a tentacle that was pointed at the man.
  174.  
  175. "Do capture my likeness well when you make my statue."
  176. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  177. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  178.  The captives were slain easily as non-mages were. But before he could drag them out of the cages, a lock that seemed difficult to open gleamed his eyes. The Adjudicator considered serval methods of undoing the locks in but a moment, before standing up straight. Rather then undoing the locks through code, the Adjudicator was quick to open a green rift, use gravity magic to drag part of the cage in, then close the rift so the part in it would be transported to another part of the lifestream entirely.
  179.  
  180. The Adjudicator cheated at such tasks of intelligence like that.
  181.  
  182. The undead would be raised, shambling corpses yet to fully retrieve their souls before hearing a voice on the other side of the room. Grey and gold looked over, the rattling of chains filling the air around him and putrid whispers.
  183.  
  184. "A murderer. Come ta murder."
  185.  
  186. His shoulders raised and fell. He continued onto the next cage, pulling half of it into the rift, then closing it to create a big whole for the newly risen to come through. He looked over to Sirocco casually.
  187.  
  188. "We killin' this guy?"
  189.  
  190.  
  191. (Sors Ultovex)
  192. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  193.  
  194.  Sirocco Vishkar asks, "Well, that depends on him. Servants should be loyal, obedient, and useful otherwise they are disposable, correct?"
  195.  
  196.  Huh, you know he saw the tables, and the stew and all that good stuff, but Chaaca didn't think there would be an actual chef down here. Yet here one was, complete with a bloody apron! So that was neat, or was it? He'd bring his right hand up to scratch the top of his head. This was probably a bad thing.
  197.  
  198. Cause y'know, Sors did just kill the things said chef was going to cook with. Which MEANS odds are the chef was gonna be a little miffed with them.
  199.  
  200. So out of reflex more than anything else, the Paladin brought his hand back, firmly gripping his trident. A small smirk would cross his face as his body was coated with a radian light.
  201.  
  202. His blue eyes focused on the Chef. It was high time he answered his question. "I'm Ser Chaaca Khan, Knight of the Deep Sea, The Sound Paladin, and a bonified Dragon slayer." He'd then twirl his trident a bit for funsies.
  203.  
  204. His head would then turn to face Siro. "If we do kill this guy, can I have his legs?"
  205. (Chaaca Khan)
  206. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  207.  
  208.  Ser Artaghh would glance into the distance as he saw the dual wielding, presumably quite cannibalistic chef with a swift scan of his remaining eye across the confines of the musty feast hall, taking a slow drag from his corn cob pipe before releasing a cloud of minty smoke up into the thick, humid air of the ancient tomb.
  209.  
  210. Introductions, oh boy! His favorite.
  211.  
  212. The commander would cross his right burn scarred, bandaged arm over the black palte of his cuirass, bowing theatrically towards the approaching butcher with knightly poise. "I am Ser Artaghh, Knight o'ta Green Hill, Mithril Paladin, Dragonslayer, Doom of the Swuisarme King, Propietor of the Daylight Hall Tavern & Inn, an' commander of Dawn's legion. "
  213.  
  214. The swordsman would rise as he ignited forth into a blazing, dense blue shroud of fiery, rich mana, gripping tightly upon the handle of his black metal greatsword before heaving it forth before him to engage in deadly melee combat.
  215.  
  216. "I don' really know why I'm here, bu' it's probably'ta kill ye'. Nothin' personal aye?"
  217. (Artaghh)
  218. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  219.  
  220. {NARRATION} It had been a rather rhetorical question. One look at the man and it was obvious he wasn't the sort to truly care about whether or not these people were knights or dragon slayers. Rather he, himself, was a simple slab of beef. Almost dim-witted really, if not for the glowing ferocity of his eyes he could have been any dull, dishevealed butcher found in any peasent town. Bulky and broad. He used the dull edge of his cleaver to idly scratch at unshaven chin while the group of them began to go through their spiels of introductions and titles.
  221.  
  222. "And I'm the butcher." He held one cleaver out, pointing at them, shaking it idly in their general direction. Not seeming to be certain quite who to blame for the sad state of affairs with his cages. "You're not gonna kill anyone else - you've done enough of that. We were going to have a -nice- feast here. Had a guest of honor coming and everything. Now where'm I supposed to find more meat?"
  223.  
  224. With a sigh, he turned. Away from them. Crossing his arms across his chest for a moment. Head tilting to the side. "We could make this nice and easy, you know. If you all just got into those cages for me, it'd keep the meat nice and tender."
  225. Sirocco Vishkar says, "I think you look broad enough to feed a crowd."
  226.  Artaghh says, "He's callin' ye' fat."
  227.  Sors Ultovex asks, "Do ya got a family?"
  228.  Chaaca Khan says, "He is kinda chunky."
  229.  {NARRATION} The butcher cries a single greasy tear.
  230.  Chaaca Khan says, "Oh... I kinda feel bad now."
  231.  Sors Ultovex says, "I'm goin' ta murder ya family. An' mite be ya guest."
  232.  Artaghh says, "I don'. He's a fat cunt, an' now he's gonna be a fat dead cunt."
  233.  Sors Ultovex says, "Ain't met ya guest."
  234.  Sors Ultovex says, "If we kill 'im an' I ain't mean too tha's fine too. I can fix tha'."
  235.  Chaaca Khan says, "Though seriously, if we kill him."
  236.  Chaaca Khan asks, "Can I have his legs?"
  237.  Sirocco Vishkar says, "My invite was lost in the post."
  238. Ser Artaghh would squint at Chaaca.
  239. (Artaghh)
  240. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  241.  Chaaca would squint at Artaghh.
  242. (Chaaca Khan)
  243. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  244.  
  245.  Sirocco Vishkar asks, "What is this -if- we kill him talk?"
  246.  Chaaca Khan says, "Right, right."
  247.  Chaaca Khan says, "When we kill him."
  248.  Chaaca Khan asks, "Can I have his legs?"
  249.  Sirocco raises his mana engine and it begins to whir loudly as the visible mana circuits inlaid in the mana spring to life. The noise plateaus and a kite shield forms at the end of the appendage.
  250.  
  251. At the other the abyssal tentacle slithers side to side ready to lash out from a distance. The phalanx style he used to fight was evolving alongside his ever-changing body.
  252.  
  253. "As I said servants that can not serve are disposable so at least you shall fulfill some purpose in death. You might even serve again if Lord Ultovex finds your body suitable."
  254. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  255. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  256.  The Whispering Eye is drawn from the Adjudicator's back as the harrowing whispers of occultism and evil mixed around him. Chains rattled, wrapping around his body as the air filled with a putrid smell of poisons and plagues. Around him, rifts of pale green and purple began to open, spilling forth a volley of undead servants with swords and bows.
  257.  
  258. "I real ain't like bein' told by anyone wha' ta do o' not. I became an' Adjudicator cause I ain't like orders. Not from people, ain't from gods. An' certainly, ain't from no dumb butcher I met who ain't even got a family fer ma ta slaughter.
  259.  
  260. I'll meet ya guest fer ya. But instead o' ma goin' on tha' cages, tha's gon be ya.
  261.  
  262. Also, how do ya open tha' cages?"
  263.  
  264. Pale green eyes began to open around the Adjudicator as needles of occultism would fling from his hand to stab at the butcher, the first of many attacks.
  265.  
  266. "Go 'head an' take 'em, Chaaca."
  267. (Sors Ultovex)
  268. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  269. Ser Artaghh would grip his blade tight with a bark of hearty, mirthful laughter that echoed within the damp, dark confines of the feast hall. Ah, no matter how dangerous the quest, how fiercesome the enemy, nor how odd the timing, Dawnsmen were obliged in all cases to commit banter if the moment called.
  270.  
  271. This was their solemn oath, their sworn duty.
  272.  
  273. Unwrapping the bandages upon his arms as he mystic energies began to coalesce within his frame, the knight's mass would bulge forth with concentrated energy as his musculature expanded and densified, veins popping out upon the reinforced form of his biceps. With a respectful bow of his head, the swordsman prepared to engage on the first move of his allies.
  274.  
  275. It would be rude not to send the butcher along to meet his guests.
  276. (Artaghh)
  277. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  278. With another twirl of his trident, Chaaca was ready for battle! Why did twirling his trident suddenly make him ready for battle? Look, don't fucking question these things, he was just gonna kill this guy now, yea?
  279.  
  280. He'd gently taps his staff onto the ground, as he ripped open another hole in space-time creating another black hole behind him. Alright! Operation be really annoying to fight was a go! He was simply going to hide in the back and heal... Uhh, Two more people. He wasn't sure which people he was going to heal right now.
  281.  
  282. But by Azreal he was going to heal whoever those two people happened to be!
  283.  
  284. A small smile crept across his face as he heard Sors speak. YES! He was going to get some legs.
  285. (Chaaca Khan)
  286. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  287.  {NARRATION} All the talk of death and murder didn't seem to phase the butcher one bit. It was entirely possible that he didn't realize these people were, in all likelyhood, more than able to kill him. Nor that the bald man behind him had just roughly doubled in raw muscle mass - which would have been horrifying.
  288.  
  289. No, what gave him pause was the bizarre fixation on taking his -legs-. He needed those, to talk. Turning back around and flexing his own muscles before the group, he shot the fish the fiercest glare he could manage.
  290.  
  291. "No one's taking my legs! You can't butcher a butcher, it's against the -rules-." After all, two butchers was just unnecessary. With a billowing snort, the man stepped towards them. Silently lamenting how much worse their meat would taste after this. Oh how upset the guests would be. They'd probably blame him, too.
  292. [21:27] Chaaca flips the butcher off. He needed those legs.
  293. (Chaaca Khan)
  294. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  295.  Ser Artaghh would allow the squishy sorcerors and their ranged hijinks to occupy the fat man while the knight used his mastery of the mystic arts to the best of his ability. Walking the transcendent step through the cracks between the spirit realm and this dank, dark hole in the ground proved an oddly simple affair, perhaps due to the heavy presence of death and occultism that frothed about like an open fountain in this fell fortress.
  296.  
  297. With each targeted, ruthless warp beside the butcher, the knight would carve deeper into the fat man's fleshy rolls with the jagged blade of his greatsword, opening gouges upon his neck, behind his legs, upon that fat belly of his, until finally the knight saw his opening, the storm of spellslinging chaos almost a relaxing backdrop after so many years fighting beside Dawn's legion.
  298.  
  299. Slipping forth with an ethereal shimmer of his black plated form, the bald swordsman would duck down before swinging his blade in a wild, powerful arc above his head, removing the butcher's hands in a spout of blood as the dual wielded cleavers tumbled to the ground in sudden disuse. Staring down the cannibalistic butcher, the knight was suddenly overtaken by a dread inspiration, his remaining eye lighting up as he proceeded to slowly resling his great black blade upon the musty leather rungs attached to the backplate of his cuirass.
  300.  
  301. Cracking his knuckles with an audible snapping sound, the commander would grab the rotund butcher by his thick legs before raising them up with a heavy of his ethereal might, his reinforced musculature straining at the sheer fatness of the cannibal as they dripped blood idly down past the bald cyclops from their non-present hand nubs.
  302.  
  303. "Chaaca said he needed these. He used'ta be ma squire ya know? Oh wai', ye' dunnae care who were are. Ne'er mind, jus' enjoy the ride then."
  304.  
  305. As the knight's one eyed gaze scanned across the feast hall, a foul smile spread slowly across his face as he began to dissipate with the handless, leg grasped butcher, an ethereal shimmer coating the pair before, in a blink, they were gone.
  306.  
  307. That is, until the first SMASH sounded in the distance. Where once a nearby dining table had existed in respectable carpentry and peace, now the shattered, jagged splinters of a once-table remained as Artaghh proceeded to ruthlessly slam the chef through the table with a meaty crunching sound. Then he was gone once more, another distant SMASH emanating as another table fell to Artaghh's spectral, table shattering onslaught against the chef.
  308.  
  309. Perhaps all the occult in the air was getting to him.
  310.  
  311. When at last the knight of the Green Hill was done, the pulped, now legless and handless corpse of the butcher remained in a pile of splinters, Artaghh holding a fat leg in each hand and rising them to the roof of the feast hall in glorious victory before swinging and releasing them haphazardly at Chaaca. "Think fas'!"
  312.  
  313.  
  314. (Artaghh)
  315. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  316.  A smile crept across the Sirenian's face as he watched his mentor smash the poor butcher over and over again. It was a glorious display of might to be sure, and something about watching a man suplex another man through a table was cathartic.
  317.  
  318. THEN! To make things even better, Artaghh had gotten him the fat man's legs! SCORE! With a smile on his face, he'd give a quick twirl of his trident casting a small gravity spell on the legs, forcing them to float around him.
  319.  
  320. Legs got.
  321.  
  322. "Thank you, Artaghh!"
  323. (Chaaca Khan)
  324. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  325. {NARRATION} For a time, the butcher didn't seem to notice the pain. The blood - the wounds. Most of his focus, in fact, seemed to be on the fish that had so desired his legs. Charging at him almost blindly, dumbly. Rushing forward - only occasionally being distracted by the others. Swinging madly at the undead that got in his way. Growing tired and breathless in his furor.
  326.  
  327. And then his cleavers were gone. His -hands- were gone. And as blood gushed from stumps, pain began to flood his body and tiny, brain. All that anger and energy faded. Eyes dimmed leaving nothing but a fat, horrified man in confused agony. Subject to the marshal's assault - slammed again and again into the fast tables. Smashing cutlery, ruining plate and bowl alike. Sending fork and spoon flying with every impact. Claiming his prizes for the siren and leaving the group free to leave - or, more like, probe deeper into the depths of this strange, vast, tomb.
  328.  
  329. A new path, after all, lay ahead of them - Sirocco's stone urging them to follow the path the butcher had come from.
  330. [22:08] The butcher was good at his job of slicing meat. Fitting that in the end he would be the final piece of meat he saw sliced, a final meal to be enjoyed by the Legion. Arrows of bone were thrown by the undead under the Adjudicator's control as he floated forwards, avoiding most attacks to the best of his ability. Finally came the end, Artaghh slicing off the hands and then dragging the butcher by his legs across the dinning tables.
  331.  
  332. "Good work, Masrhal." The Adjudicator praised. "Chaaca, take wha' ya want 'stead o' askin'." The order was barked out before the gold and grey looked forwards towards the new path. He does not instantly walk into it this time, instead gesturing forwards.
  333.  
  334. Members of the undead horde would move forwards, scouts to activate every trap and run into every enemy before they did. Following that, Lord Ultovex took off after.
  335. (Sors Ultovex)
  336. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  337.  Chaaca Khan says, "Well to be fair, the only reason I asked was cause I didn't know if you wanted em for an undead or not."
  338.  
  339.  Ser Artaghh would wipe the blood steadily from his arms with his cloak, the green wool of his trusty companion now stained heavily by blood. Shrugging idly as his muscles began to shrink once morei n size, he'd wipe a bead of sweat from his forehead as he sighed in exhausted relief.
  340.  
  341. Man, what a work out!
  342.  
  343. Cracking his back as he gave a nod of assent to Sors and a pair of thumbs up to Chaaca and Sirocco, Ser Artaghh would pace along after the undead legion with a hearty, joyous whistle as he prepared for yet another rung of this wholesome, friendly adventure.
  344.  
  345. What fun!
  346. (Artaghh)
  347. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  348. Once more the stone begins to pull at Sirocco and get gives a sparing glance to the corpse. As he began to walk towards where it beckoned the outstretched tendril looped around his body to brush against the fallen butcher.
  349.  
  350. The inky appendage caresses the corpse briefly as the tainted Sarradian moves. Although his conscious focus was on the mission at hand something hidden beneath took an intrigue in the corpse.
  351.  
  352. As he continues the tentacle reluctantly withdraws as though with a mind all its own despite its obvious connection. It coils back at his side and begins to shift.
  353.  
  354. The limb grows bulbous at the end a pale green eye sprouts forth in reminiscent fashion of another of the party's members. The tentacle-eye stalk scans the darkness ahead of its master.
  355.  
  356. "It calls this way." Sirocco calls back to the others, "What was once research had become a series of bindings. The madness was growing more common and we had to relinquish parts of ourselves to prove our loyalties. Thus our rituals were borne and became ever macabre as we traded the illusions of decency for the illusions of loyalty."
  357. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  358. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  359.  Right, no point in dillydallying! With the butcher dead, and his legs now in the Sirenian's possession, it was time continue pressing forward. Of course he'd let the hordes of undead go before him no point in him risking his life on all of those traps.
  360.  
  361. He'd already been screwed by a trap once this trip, he wasn't gonna do it again!
  362.  
  363. His blue eyes would glance over to Sors, Artaghh, and then finally on Sirocco offering them a thumbs up! Which... Artaghh had also done. Oh well, I guess today wasn't Chaaca's day to be original. He'd give a slight shrug before pressing forwards.
  364. (Chaaca Khan)
  365. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  366.  {NARRATION} As the group walked past it - there might have been something odd noticed about the butcher's mangled corpse. Flesh already grey and muted. Putrification settling in rapidly; almost unnaturally so. Exposed bones bleaching, meat moldering and fading. But there seemed to be little enough reason to linger - and beyond was their goal.
  367.  
  368. At a first glance it seemed this place might have been the butcher's kitchen - fires roaring and makeshift counters set up covered in human remains. He had been hard at work preparing for this would-be feast, of course. There wasn't much in the way of vegitable or dough; not beyond what was required to make platter and pie, at least. Mostly it just seemed to be human meat, cutlets and fillets. Steak and haunch.
  369.  
  370. But the room, clearly, was not a kitchen. No more than the cavern before had been a dining hall. This oven, massive and hot, was no baking impliment. These fires, dark and depraved, were meant for burning bodies to ash and dust - their raging heat for cremation rather than cooking to glazed perfection. Around them great stone slabs could be recognized. Tables now used for meal prepration once having been used to prepare corpses for their final sacriment. A place of death.
  371.  
  372. And yet - the stone did not linger here and longer than it lingered in the stairs before. Guiding the occult master onwards yet. Past burning oven to a sloping, almost makeshift doorway. Carved not of stone, like the rest, but built out of wood and board. Far more recent than any other piece of this structure. Behind it lay not well-built passage, but a deep hole in brick wall. Leading down into natural cavern, the stagnant scent of still water and distant roar of ocean tide echoing up through dark gloomy cave.
  373.  
  374. Below them, the faint glint of water could be seen. It appeared they would be getting wet.
  375.  
  376.  The body changed rapidly, grey and muted already as it touched the ground. Lord Ultovex crossed his arms over his chest, considering it. "Mite've been an undead like Arhtur's changed ta look human. Ain't likely, but lookin' like tha' mite be a thang. The ones I killed ain't change tha' fast."
  377.  
  378. He hovered forward, following after the skeletal vanguard that he had initially sent. Then, slowly he would look around using the blue whispering Eye, getting a full view of all the surroundings. It was no kitchen, that was not it's intended purpose.
  379.  
  380. And beyond that, a doorway that seemed to lead into a natural cavern. Again, Lord Ultovex would stay at the doorway, sending his undead in first to go further in and explore the dark and gloomy caves ahead.
  381.  
  382. "Sirocco, ya know lot 'bout this place. Ya been here 'fore?"
  383. (Sors Ultovex)
  384. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  385.  Ser Artaghh would glance around in distaste as they passed through the macabre workshop of the butcher he'd smashed to death with vigor, puffing away steadily at his corn cob pipe as he pressed on with determination to.....complete whatever task it was they came here for. He was still pretty unclear on that, he hadn't asked and frankly didn't care.
  386.  
  387. No, adventure was a good enough reason to do just about anything.
  388.  
  389. Pausing briefly to glance at the cremator with a sense of grim fascination, the knight would spit out a glob of minty tar before pressing forth past the wooden portal and shattered brick wall, delving forth into the natural cave that lay even deeper within the foul heart of the earth, the scent of dead water and the distant sea stinging his nostrils as he held his eye forward with focus.
  390.  
  391. A light sense of grim nostalgia came over him as he looked about the cave's dark walls, the unnatural quality of the rocky crevice reminding him abit too much of the sacrificial chamber of the swuisarme king. Whatever lay before them....it wouldn't be pretty. Then again, none of them were pretty either, so more's company.
  392. (Artaghh)
  393. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  394.  Following the winding path the stone was guiding them through the Sarradian only paused to examine the water briefly before exerting his control over the fluids to push it around and make way for his passing.
  395.  
  396. Wind filled the pocket allowing him to breathe via an intricate twisting current that cycled out the used air and diffused the bubbles in the water around to keep a steady flow of fresh air.
  397.  
  398. Still quoting the prophetic dreams he speaks, "We twisted the elements and made them our own. Few were born with the occult inclination and for those of us who started our journey with our respective basic attunements we found that great was the result of our machinations, but we would grow ever further from our roots. The soil of those beginnings lacked any nutrients in comparison."
  399.  
  400. Once again he hesitates then looks back to insure that his comrades could brave the waters of the cave if it should go too deep.
  401.  
  402. "It feels close, ever closer."
  403. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  404. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  405.  
  406.  Sirocco Vishkar says, "I have been here in dreams, Lord Ultovex."
  407. Sirocco Vishkar says, "It all matches, but only in brief resonances."
  408.  Chaaca's eyes darted around the butchers kitchen, everything in here seemed to make sense. There was a fire to cook things, there were counters covered in the remains of humans, which was always a plus for any aspiring cooks. It was then that a thought crossed his mind.
  409.  
  410. What if he just took the legs off of these corpses too?
  411.  
  412. I mean, it's not like there's too many of them... Right? Eeeehhh, probably for the best if he doesn't, gotta keep up a good pace and all that fun stuff. So despite his desires to remove all of their legs, he doesn't! Instead he continues to press forwards through the crypt, until he hears an all too familiar sound.
  413.  
  414. Water.
  415.  
  416. A large grin crept across the Paladin's face, as he glanced through the wooden doorway to find a hole, which he assumed was where the water was. His blue eyes glanced back at his party mates.
  417.  
  418. "So... Do you guys want me to jump down there?"
  419. (Chaaca Khan)
  420. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  421.  
  422.  Chaaca Khan says, "Cause... I can breathe underwater."
  423.  Artaghh says, "Do it pussy."
  424. Chaaca Khan says, "No fear."
  425. Sirocco Vishkar says, "As I said this was the first place The Umbral Path sought refuge on Agartha. So it became their hold, the first of many."
  426. Sirocco Vishkar says, "None of which remain."
  427. Sirocco Vishkar says, "..Intact, anyways."
  428.  Without any further hesitation Chaaca would leap down into the whole! And by that I mean he uses his gravity magic to gently lower himself down the hole, using his holy aura to create enough light for him to see, and all that fun stuff, as well.
  429.  
  430. Once he actually managed to reach the bottom of said hole, provided there was enough water down there to submerge a good portion of his body. He'd transform!!!
  431.  
  432. The whole process was rather simple, first his legs would quickly begin to stretch, before merging together to form a nice long black tail. His teeth began to get longer, as two giant fangs became more and more prominent. There were some other small changes, but they weren't nearly as cool as the others, so who cares?
  433.  
  434. Certainly not him!
  435.  
  436. Well here's hoping he doesn't get murdered while down here... By himself, but at least he won't drown. So that's a thing.
  437. (Chaaca Khan)
  438. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  439.  {NARRATION} Jumping, blindly, into the water was not the worst idea in the world. It was, however, not an especially good one! The instant the sirenian leapt down into those depths he would learn two things.
  440.  
  441. First; it wasn't anywhere near as deep as it looked from so far above. Waist-deep at best, it was a good thing that he used gravity magic or that might have been painful! Secondly, however, he would -rapidly- realize that the reason the water was so dark, was because - much like everything else in this foul place - was tainted by the profuse occult energies that seemed to simply suffuse everything.
  442.  
  443. It would burn and bite at him - holy as he may be - the mere magics of a single magi nowhere near powerful enough to ward off or deconatminate the stagnant sea pool. It seemed to be stronger here than the mere ambient air above - growing darker, more potent the deeper they went.
  444. [22:56] Sirocco continues standing in the air pocket pushing the water away.
  445. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  446. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  447.  Yea no, none of that.
  448.  
  449. The Sirenian gently floated on out of the water. He glanced up at the top of the cavern, to where his party was resting. Still in his fish form right now. He couldn't be asked to change back.
  450.  
  451. ANYWAYS! He'd shout on up to the people who did the reasonable thing and didn't jump down.
  452.  
  453. "It's mostly safe down here, just uhh… Make sure to float down here, and don't swim in the water." His entire body still felt like it was burning, but he was alive and out of the water.
  454.  
  455. Yet his tail was still exposed for all the world to see, how shameless of him. Of course it was covered in armor, but still! What a scandal. He'd then wait down here for his fellow party members to join him.
  456. (Chaaca Khan)
  457. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  458. With all his fellow legionamaires jumping into the water below, the Adjudicator had no choice but to jump down. And then levitate before he met the waist high water, staying above the occultic infused waves. Slowly, he had his undead jump down into the water and would use the corpses as something of a small boat to ferry him above the occultic liquid. While the likelihood of him being harmed was low, knowing the others would assist, he preferred to do it on his own.
  459.  
  460. "It ain't feel like it'd be safe." The Adjudicator commented, ripping off one of his undead's arms and using it as an ore to stick into the water nearby. "We goin'?"
  461. (Sors Ultovex)
  462. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  463.  
  464. Ser Artaghh would trudge forth into the occultic waters upon seeing that Chaaca was not violently butchered by the contents of the liquid. The foul, oily creep of occultic energy brushed against the dense mana of the spirit realm that surrounded the knight, the painful tingling a reminder of the concentrated malevolence that this foul, dark spilloff from the depths of the sea manifested.
  465.  
  466. The knight would do his best to minimize his direct contact with the corruptive sludge by swiftly floating up out of the dark sea, gripping upon the undead raft before pulling himself upon the incredibly convenient, sea worthy vessels of the undead. Shimmering translucently as he exited the waters, the knight would do his best to wring the tainted liquid from his lightly drenched plate with a bit of ghostly fuckery.
  467.  
  468. What was the point of being a half ghost if you didn't do half ghost things.
  469. (Artaghh)
  470. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  471.  
  472.  {NARRATION} It was, perhaps, with luck that the necromancer among them was two steps ahead and had managed to put together a raft from his summoned bodies. Indeed - those non-magi were put to a fate far more useful than mere -food- already. While he and the occult-master Sirocco handled their situations with surprising grace and care - the latter wielding his magics with spectacular talent to avoid even the most minute contact with the tainted waters - the other two of their group splashed about. At least they seemed to be having fun.
  473.  
  474. Eventually, however everyone seemed to get together and the voyage could continue. Artaghh using inexplicable - and possibly horrifying - ghost tricks to clean himself of foul murk and the sirenian, Chaaca, floundering about; indecent tail exposed like some kind of fishy degenerate. If only they had some kind of barbeque and drink this voyage down the deadly, cavernous sea might have seemed almost pleasent.
  475.  
  476. But, as all things must, the trip came to an end as the corpse-raft eventually beached its self. An island protruded in the middle of the occult sea; the grey-white sands whispering under the minute impact of flesh and bone, allowing the four to dismount with ease. In the distance was a winding path, the dark, glassy waters around it still and calm. Bleached sands stark and grey against the pitch mirror below. And before them stood a singular figure. Vacant, swaying slightly, dead-center of the island.
  477.  
  478. Perhaps, once, it had been a siren. Its skin, a dark swampy green-grey, glistened, feathered gills along its neck opened and closed with every breath. But it barely seemed concious until the four drew close. Then, slowly, its head turned to face them. Bulbous, silver eyes rotating in wide sockets. Blindly gazing at them as a low his escaped its sharp-toothed maw. This sound resolving into jagged, gutteral syllables and words nowhere near human. Webbed fingers spreading as dark waters began to rise across the sands - enshrouding its damp form in writhing tendrils.
  479. [23:22] They sailed onwards, each of the ones present devising their way to get down the water, but the blue eye of the Whispering Eye would only stare at Chaaca in mild disgust as he took a while to get out of it. Of course, minutes later he saw something far more digusting.
  480.  
  481. "Don't touch tha' water. Ya mite end up turnin' inta tha' sort o' thang if ya stay in too deep." He grunted, staring at the dark swampy green gils that opened and closed rapidly. The Whispering Eye was again drawn from the Adjudicator's back.
  482.  
  483. "Chaaca. It looks like it's a Sirenian. Ya talk ta it. It ain't lookin' ta speak human. Mite be some fish language, ya?"
  484. (Sors Ultovex)
  485. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  486.  
  487.  Ser Artaghh would hum contently as he stood cozily upon the scenic corpse raft, releasing a hearty whistle as the adventuring companions made their way closer and close to the white sand bar in the sea of darkness. The knight could say with certainty that if he ever needed to recommend an occultist, a vampire, or a general monster a nice vacation locale, this haunted dread fortress deep within the earth wasn't a bad option.
  488.  
  489. Stepping upon the ivory sands with a steady press of his black sabatons against the malleable ground, the bald swordsman would slowly dredge his greatsword from the slungs upon his backplate before firmly gripping it in two hands, a sense of ominous dread overtaking him as he glanced about and scanned his surroundings for any potential threat.
  490.  
  491. A potential threat he certainly found.
  492.  
  493. Seeing the corpse, evil looking siren as a bit of cold sweat built upon his bald brow, the knight would shake his head violenty and thoroughly as he held a single hand up in a stopping motion at the siren before him.
  494.  
  495. "Nope. No. Sorry, ain' happenin'. I'm nae fuckin' ye'. I won' have it. Dunnae care if ye' have daddy issues, I AIN' FUCKIN' ANYMORE EVIL CANNIBAL FISH. ENOUGH IS A ENOUGH!"
  496.  
  497. (Artaghh)
  498. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  499.  
  500. The Sarradian approaches the edge of the island and halts, his scrutinizing gaze set upon the beast beyond. It had spoken something, but this language was far beyond his comprehension.
  501.  
  502. "Do not mistake our dissuasion from the original arts as mere indulgence in a newfound greater power. Although the allure was often derived from the strength we found ever still it drew us away. We had escaped the subversion of the Spires yet it meant stumbling umbral depths that would yet subvert us. The power was the catalyst."
  503.  
  504. When he had first read the Memoirs as a teen little had made sense. He needed to cross reference it with other tomes and glean what he could of techniques.
  505.  
  506. Back then he had told Fethi that the greatest use he had found for the tome was that it set him on the path to discovering other works that detailed the basics more clearly.
  507.  
  508. Yet now, as they group delved ever deeper into this dark corner ofthe world, it began to make sense piece by piece. The account had been written off as a mad rant, but that was not true.
  509.  
  510. It was a chronicle. A chronicle for the heir.
  511.  
  512. "One of the old members?"
  513. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  514. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  515.  
  516. Sirocco Vishkar says, "Or something they wrought."
  517.  You know despite the whole strange abyss looking water that rested underneath him, the stroll down the river... Thing, wasn't all that bad. Of course his tail was still exposed for the world to see, but only his friends were around. So it was fiiiiine.
  518.  
  519. Probably.
  520.  
  521. Though he wouldn't have much time to dwell on that, seeing as they arrived at a small island. Well it seems like his time of having his tail exposed was at an en-... Wait he could still float.... Yea, no he was gonna keep his tail out, and to make things more fun, he'd pretend to swim through the air, as he floated.
  522.  
  523. Clearly that was the ideal way to fly.
  524.  
  525. It was then that his eyes rested on the rather strange looking Sirenian. Provided it of course could still be considered a Siren. Something about it was off, really off, buuuut. Sors asked him to talk to it, so by Azreal was he going to talk to it.
  526.  
  527. What could possibly go wrong?
  528.  
  529. "So uhh, nice island you have here." Though it was then that Artaghh spoke. "Huh, yea that's uhh… Not what I was expecting you say, or do Artaghh… What the shit dude?"
  530. (Chaaca Khan)
  531. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  532.  
  533.  Sors Ultovex asks, "Artaghh, are these some deep an' emotional fish issues? Is this 'bout tha' bar?"
  534.  Chaaca Khan says, "He's always had deep and emotional fish issues. I think fucking Famine just made it worse for him."
  535.  Artaghh says, "..."
  536.  {NARRATION} There was no true response to the intruders. This strange creature didn't seem to respond to them verbally or physically. Yet - when Sirocco began to speak, its attention shifted. As its head turned there was a great slosh of water, waves cresting and falling. Splashing against the island as blind eyes stared at him. Intense focus burning into his mere presence.
  537.  
  538. It spoke again - repeating its garbled tongue. Again and again. Then its arms rose - and walls of water began to ascend into the air behind it. If it spoke any common, or human, tongue; it seemed unwilling or unable. Instead. Instead, it opted to let the massive wave come crashing down; its challenge stated. If they wanted to move past. They would have to claim that right in the oldest of fashions.
  539. [23:37] Ser Artaghh's rage would boil over at the sight of a siren seductress once more trying to steal his precious seed, shaking his head as he ignited forth in a fiery, pulsating shroud of dense, shimmering mana. His arms would double in size, their mass swelling forth beyond even the knight's extended limits as fury overtook him, the desire only to smite the siren before him overtaking any other thought process.
  540.  
  541. It was the only way he could become clean.
  542.  
  543. Roaring in preparatory violence, the bald, berserking swordsman would raise his great, black blade into the air in salute to the bloodshed to come before engaging the occultist to deal with some serious issues he had. Dawn needed more therapists.
  544. (Artaghh)
  545. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  546.  Right yea, so turns out talking to the thing was a bad idea.
  547.  
  548. Oh well, they tried.
  549.  
  550. Guess he'd get a fish wife later... Wait why the hell did that thought cross his mind? You know... Best to not worry about that, these were strange times they lived in, and Artaghh's screaming about not wanting to fuck the thing was clearly throwing him off.
  551.  
  552. Y-yea... That's what that was.
  553.  
  554. A small sigh escapes from his lips, as he twirls his trident, once more a black hole would slowly begin to rip open behind him, as his blue eyes narrowed in on the Siren.
  555.  
  556. "Right, uhh sorry, but we're probably gonna have to murder you... Though I'd prefer it if we didn't. Not the biggest fan of killing my own kind." Though his eyes would dart in-between each member of this particular party.
  557.  
  558. Odds are? That Sirenian was already dead. Nothing he could do to stop it.
  559. (Chaaca Khan)
  560. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  561.  "Ya know, they say if ya gon smash something, don't regret it." The Adjudicator quipped, before the undead raft underneath him would take it's position. The undead didn't rise or separate, instead just drawing their arms upwards. Rifts would open, and a pair of canons would bet set upon the undead raft, the arms tightly taking a hole of it while the Adjudicator prepared them to fire.
  562.  
  563. "Then 'gain? Tha' real something ta care 'bout? Ain't sur'." The Whispering eye was drawn firmly as pale green eyes opened in the air around him and on the raft. He hovered, prepared to move quickly across the arena in rifts.
  564.  
  565. "Don't apologize, Chaaca. Jus' murder 'em."
  566. (Sors Ultovex)
  567. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  568.  The canons on the ship fired large canon balls across the miniture stream, the hands of the skeletons holding tightly as Lord Ultovex jumped from the front of the ship. Using gravity he would hover in the air, as invisible chains would wrap around his wrists and ankles, dragging the Adjudicator like some sort of self manipulated marrionate. Skin would be pulled appart, blood flowing from the patchworked scars as he drew near the Sirenian, always with a blast of astral force, or a fist imbuded with golden power.
  569.  
  570. Occultic needles fired from the air around, and on the ship new rifts opened, spilling out new undead to man the canons. Between the forces of the Adjudicator and- Technically, Dawn is the force of the Adjudicator, rephrase that. Between the forces of the living and the dead, Lord Ultovex would eventually see an opening.
  571.  
  572. "Ain't sur' wha' ya real are. But I 'spose tha' ain't matter. Ya are jus' another ta die."
  573.  
  574. A bolt of astral force fired from his forefinger, skewering the Sirenian through the back. Following that, the plague that the Adjudicator commanded would spread across the body. Black tar would form in the corners of the eyes and mouth, and very quickly their mind would be overwhelmed.
  575.  
  576. All the Sirenian could see and feel were eyes. Thousands of them, pale green in color and staring down to judge and demand blood and entertainment. With that done, a final rift would open in front of them, a kick to push the Sirenian in, then closing it behind them, to store the sirenian until further usage.
  577.  
  578. Powerful mages made powerful servants after all.
  579. (Sors Ultovex)
  580. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  581. The tentacle writhing at Sirocco's side grips the Jewel firmly and he holds it up once more. He peers about the island searching for where to go next and waiting for the resonance from the gem.
  582.  
  583. Still he continues to mutter the lost phrases to himself at each milestone. His speech with the others gathered is clipped and distant in comparison to his typical demeanor.
  584.  
  585. Something was far different about this place and it showed in the effect it had on him. Whether it was madness or obsession was difficult to discern even for himself despite the Null energies still at his command.
  586.  
  587. Perhaps it was simply passion.
  588.  
  589. "Arrogance was not our downfall, but instead the folly of youth and the ambition of the leaders insured our ruin. We knew well the dangers and yet we pursued in a hope that we could learn more. Some might argue that it was overconfidence therefore arrogant however the Jewel lead us astray. We simply were not worthy."
  590.  
  591. The black-rimmed Violet eyes turn to Sors Ultovex and he nods in approval for the new servant and to signal he was waiting for another flash of guidance.
  592.  
  593. "Closer, closer."
  594. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  595. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  596.  The battle raged on around Chaaca, and once again he used his usual annoying strategy of staying far away from the enemy, and only diving in when it was completely necessary. Of course this could be seen as cowardice, but it was anything but that! He needed to stay alive, so that he could keep Sors, and Sirocco alive.
  597.  
  598. Oh right... He should probably heal Artaghh. Wait no, he can't do that. Damn you healing magic, and only being allowed to heal two other people! Oh well, the fight was soon to be over. The cannons from Sors ship continued to rage against the Siren.
  599.  
  600. All while Sors continued to get closer and closer...Which made it rather difficult to heal him, but hey the Paladin managed to do it. Then he did something with chains? In all honesty Chaaca had no idea what Sors did, all he knew is the strange Sirenian was rifted away to Dawn.
  601.  
  602. Alive or dead, Chaaca didn't know. Not that it truly mattered, mind you.
  603.  
  604. A small sigh of relief escapesfrom his lips, to glance around at his party, blue eyes darting across all of them, searching for any sings of injury. "Right, is everyone okay?" His eyes then focused on Sirocco solely.
  605.  
  606. "Also, where do we go from here?"
  607.  
  608. (Chaaca Khan)
  609. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  610.  Ser Artaghh raged blindly without thought or sense, his brutish manner of fighting discarding his trained competence as a fencer for violent, crushing blows by his great black blade, each immense swing followed by another roar as the knight released all of his pent up anger over his foolish mistake with sirenians. It seemed that in this battle at hand, the bald swordsman had taken it upon his own person not only to slaughter the fish wench, but to face himself.
  611.  
  612. And face himself he did. With each With each wild swing and reckless smash, a bit of the paladin's stress was relieved, the constant uniformity and relaxation of his being finally given way to bestial fury as he sought only to smash the occultic sirenian into actual pieces. To crunch its bones beneath his blade, filet its scales into ribbons, and kill it to pieces to cleanse his soul of the corruption that had tainted him. The foul, oily taint of regret.
  613.  
  614. Unluckily, or perhaps luckily for Chaaca's marital desires, Artaghh was hit by a pressurized cannon of water, blasting him off his feet before he could continue to attempt his massacare of fishkind and knocking the wind out of the commander's half rotted lungs. Heaving idly on his back, the anger would fade like a dying ember, leaving the knight of the Green Hill feeling only damp and cold.
  615. (Artaghh)
  616. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  617.  {NARRATION} Cannon fire hadn't been expected; and had clearly caught the creature offguard. As Dawn's Adjudicator made his way towards the sirenian - a strange -shift- seemed to split the air around the defeated creature. A shadow rose upwards - darkened mist evaporating from the twisted figure. For a brief moment, a mere instant, misty wings seemed to spread as a mammoth, etherial -something- tore its self away from the creature. Leaving it to its fate. And as the necromancer struck - infecting it with his void-plague, the mindless thing seemed to somehow diminish. Falling still and silent as the madness claimed them and inky tar began to ooze from gill and mouth alike. There was no resistance to being kicked into the void, its body fell and silence, too, descended upon the group.
  618.  
  619. All that remained was the last pathway. A sandy voyage; a long path, leading to another cracked stone wall. A great, natural cavern - and a passage leading to another man-made structure hidden within. Spiral stairs upwards. Sirocco's stone resonating with palpable ferocity. Wherever they were going - whatever they were here for. It was close; they were almost -there-. Every step would grow harder. Every breath choked with oppressive darkness. No light seeming to last more than a foot or two ahead of them.
  620.  
  621. Despite ascending, rather than descending, it seemed they were falling into a deeper pit of bleak despair than ever before.
  622. [00:14] Well his question was answered rather quickly. There was a path that lead off to some cave, or something. He shrugged, he had no idea if that was the right way to go, but by Azreal was it the only option.
  623.  
  624. Without much in the way of hesitation Chaaca followed along the long path. Though as he floated along said path, he'd wonder that the hell those misty wings that spread out a from the poor Sirenian. Then there was that shadow thing...
  625.  
  626. That whole situation confused the poor fish man, but there was nothing he could really do about that now, they were so close to being done. He'd talk to the Siren about it later... Provide of course they were alive, or well. The more likely option. Once they were an undead.
  627.  
  628. Then again that's assuming they even remember anything... HM, oh well. He'd give a small shrug before focusing back on the trek. Oh right, IT WAS GETTING REALLY FUCKING DARK!
  629.  
  630. The holy magi deed his best to keep his aura of brilliant light up, but it was difficult, but he could see in front of him, so at least he had that... For now anyways. Odds are it was going to get darker and darker. Another sigh would escape from his lips.
  631.  
  632. Azreal he hated the dark. Well, not as much as he hated fire, but he still hated it.
  633. (Chaaca Khan)
  634. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  635.  The jewel called and he could not help, but answer. Undisturbed by the dark due to his now innate connection with it and the change of physiology that had made him more suited to such an environment he presses out with renewed intensity.
  636.  
  637. The secrets that had eluded him nigh on twenty-five years were going to be unearthed. The mark upon his brow, the stone, these people.. His inheritance. It all lay just beyond this final sandy stone path.
  638.  
  639.  
  640. In the dark bowels of Agartha where no sun had ever shone light would be cast upon the mysteries this foreboding place held. The irony of it brought a faint smile to his lips.
  641.  
  642. "We were lost far before the Jewel. The original goal had been understand, develop, and innovate. Our mentors were dead at the hands of our abominations. We had become akin to the Yokai in our mindless consumption. Despite this we still were not worthy. It had conquered us before we could conquer it."
  643. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  644. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  645.  Ser Artaghh would steadily push himself up from the white sands of the island as the rage drained from him down to the last drop, wiping the foul umbral waters from his cloak as he once more briefly phased in and out of the spirit realm, shedding the water and damp sand from his person with a grimace as he took a long, contemplative puff from his corn cob pipe while watching Sors handy work.
  646.  
  647. The knight realized then that maybe, just maybe, he had some issues.
  648.  
  649. Questions for later, whatever lay beyond this archipelago of evil was no doubt what Ser Sirocco had brought them this far for in the first place. Whatever foul evils and ancient magicks lay waiting in the distance would be halted and or seized for the glory of Valmasia, and that was all there was to it. Any other option was out of the question, the only way out was to continue forth and conquer this darkness for the light of Dawn.
  650.  
  651. Very poetic.
  652.  
  653. Nyeshk sabatons clanking past the sandy pathway and throughthe natural cavern, the commander would release a large puff of minty smoke as he gazed upwards at the spiral stairway, the unnatural cloak of darkness and occult in the air causing the paladin to pause for a moment, to think idly for perhaps the first time since they'd begun this venture.
  654.  
  655. Only for a moment though, no fear.
  656.  
  657. Steeling his grim resolve, Ser Artaghh would ignite once more with the shimmer cloak of the mystic energies, his muscle mass once more doubling as he slammed his fist with a mighty, clanking smash against the black plate of his cuirass to motivate himself on into the dark. Once more they'd head into the breach, and they would do so with no missed step.
  658.  
  659. Only the ascension remained.
  660. (Artaghh)
  661. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  662.  
  663.  
  664. [00:44] {NARRATION} As they ascended - the stairs grew narrower and narrow; until they were forced to walk single-file. There was no light in this place, no warmth. No true darkness either. They could see - but only shadow. The ambient temperature seemed almost perfect for each body; just enough that they felt suffocated by silence. Cloying air making it hard to breathe, skin almost merged with the very air as one homogenous existence.
  665.  
  666. It was an empty expanse of nothing.
  667.  
  668. And as they crested the final stair - they came into a circular room. There was a large pedestol in the center, there was a skull mounted in the center. Lining the walls around it were five others. Were Sirocco to bring his stone near the skull-topped pedestol inscription would light up, shimmering as words began to glow.
  669.  
  670. "Bring all unto one"
  671.  
  672. These seemed to be the only instruction at hand.
  673.  
  674.  Chaaca was many things, a smart man was not one of those things. So he'd simply wait for someone smarter, like Siro, or Sors to give him directions. He didn't want to accidentally fuck things up.
  675. (Chaaca Khan)
  676. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  677.  
  678.  Ser Artaghh could barely read even in broad daylight, he certainly couldn't manage in the dark confines of this dreary ascent. The air felt heavy and unnaturally humid, his maimed lungs aching from exertion as he struggled even more than average to breathe clearly. Yet, he would cross his burn scarred, bandaged arms over the black plate of his cuirass as he silently puffed, with difficulty, at his corn cob pipe, waiting in anticipation for the move of the two occultists on hand.
  679.  
  680. This was their element after all.
  681. (Artaghh)
  682. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  683.  
  684.  The tainted Sarradian approaches the skull and looks down at it, violet eye fervent and brow knit from the frustration of a delay. It took a conscious effort to still himself to solver the puzzle.
  685.  
  686. His tentacle moves forward with the Jewel outstretched towards each of the skulls in order to reveal any secrets they may hold.
  687.  
  688. "Bring all unto one."
  689.  
  690. The pages of the Memoirs flashing before his eyes by eidetic memory or ingrained recollection it was difficult to discern.
  691.  
  692. "At last the pillar crumbled and we scattered to winds. We had sworn to keep what lay hidden there archived, but stowed away. It was no act of benevolence to wait for what would rebuild it, but it was cowardice that drove us forward."
  693.  
  694. He pauses and looks at the skull trying to discern some possible solution.
  695.  
  696. "Perhaps they need to be stacked in a particular order."
  697. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  698. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  699.  
  700.  Chaaca Khan says, "Uhh, sure."
  701.  Chaaca Khan says, "Stack them."
  702.  Chaaca Khan exclaims, "All you, Siro!"
  703.  Sors Ultovex says, "If it looks like it's 'xplode, tell ma."
  704.  Sors Ultovex says, "Gettin' rift ready."
  705. {NARRATION} Were any of them to investigate the other pestestals they would notice that two of them seemed almost scorched; one covered with jagged, almost web-like burns, the other simply radiating dark soot from the center of the plinth.
  706.  
  707. Another was slightly slimy, corrosive occult-infected algae spreading across its surface, while a fourth yet was covered in moss and dirt.
  708.  
  709. The fifth was spotless - as if nothing had ever touched it
  710.  
  711. Occult magic could be felt from all of them - though indistinct, and it did not seem likely that massive groups traveled through here, either. Such a small, secure place like this would rarely ever have seen more than a handful of magi at any given time.
  712.  
  713.  The Sirenian folded his arms, as he slowly nodded his head up and down. "Mhm, mhm." He'd mumble as his eyes darted in-between each of the pedestals. They all kinda looked different to him, but it was hard to tell with all the darkeness. Well with the exception of one.
  714.  
  715. The spotless one was the only one he could properly tell was different. The rest just looked like a bunch of weird pedestals. He'd take one of his hands, and would scratch the top of his head for a moment. Before returning it to it's position folded across his chest.
  716.  
  717. None of this made sense to the simple minded Sirenian. Here's hoping his party members have better luck.
  718. (Chaaca Khan)
  719. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  720.  Ser Artaghh would investigate the pedestals with curiosity as he pondered their mystery, scratching at his scarred chin with interest as he tried to think what exactly would even act as a solution to all of them. The knight wasn't very good at these sorts of puzzles, and yet he was obliged to contribute in some manner for the good of the team.
  721.  
  722. That's just what friends did.
  723.  
  724. As the commander mulled over the words of the fabled clue, contemplating each of the varied states of the occultic pillars, a metaphorical light bulb would pop over his head as he pointed at the entirely clean, yet still obviously occultic pillar.
  725.  
  726. "When ye' break'm down'ta their base components, wipe away the elements, they're all occult. Got'a banish'm additions I figure. Siro, ye' know somethin' bou' tha' aye?"
  727. (Artaghh)
  728. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  729.  "Bring all-" The nature of Sirocco's occult exertion changes as white sparks crackle and hiss filling the cavern with light that fights to defy the oppressive dark like no torch could.
  730.  
  731. "Unto one." White smoke begins to trail out of his eyes, a faint swirl of black and purple barely visible within. The lightning-like null energies swirl down the length of his tentacle-arm.
  732.  
  733. He begins to channel it into the skulls in an attempt to bleach and cleanse the debris on them and make them pristine as the skull in the center.
  734.  
  735. Bring all unto one.
  736. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  737. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  738.  {NARRATION} While the others stood by, nary a clue on how to solve this, the resident occultist tried his magic. There was, definitely, a reaction. But not quite the one they were hoping for. A single eye lit up on each skull his magic touched. Dim, purple light shone as words feebily lit up, but faded. Whatever the case may have been; it seemed occult magic on its own was not enough to activate the mechanism.
  739. [01:22] "Bring all unto one, huh?"
  740.  
  741. Lord Ultovex wasn't the type to jump at puzzles. He was more the type to watch and let others take the lead to solve them. But this time, it seemed that the first time didn't bring them the reaction that they were all hoping for. What this would mean would be that the Adjudicator was up to bat.
  742.  
  743. Literally.
  744.  
  745. Not a moment is spared as Lord Ultovex took the Whispering Eye in hand. The staff is raised up in the air, then quickly brought down on the nearest skull. He aimed to smash not one of them, but all of them, taking bits and pieces of bone from each skull before moving on quick to the next with rift. Finishing that, he would start to fit the pieces of shattered skull together and set the newly assembled product onto the most central looking pedestal.
  746. (Sors Ultovex)
  747. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  748.  
  749.  {NARRATION} Whoever had designed this had, absolutely, not counted on this kind of literal interpretation of the puzzle. As each skull was smashed; there was a distant, echoing scream and a burst of ancient, stored magic. Water, wind, fire, lightning and earth - an eternity of congealed power was released once more into the ether as the necromancer's staff simply smashed them all in the interests of his own curiosity and began to reassemble them as if it were nothing more than a puzzle.
  750.  
  751. There was no great, impressive reaction as the final piece was put together. The magic, after all, had been released. Instead, there was a simple mechanical grinding as a staircase swung from the cieling. Connecting to the one they had ascended; allowing them to climb to the final floor. It seemed this lock had been beaten once and for all - no one would ever be using this thing to hide their domain ever again. Not unless they got some new skulls and some skilled magi to enchant them.
  752. [01:35] Lord Ultovex was not one for complicated puzzles, but as the staircase swung down from the ceiling, and he looked up, he just nodded. From his point of view, the echoing screams mixed with the whispers of evil and murder around him, and the staircase just meant the solution had been reached. As the puzzle was broken, he would reach down, picking up the fractured skull.
  753.  
  754. "Gon keep this. Mite as well, ya?"
  755.  
  756. With that, the Whispering Eye was lifted and pointed up the staircase. Grey and gold looked up into the above before pointing, several of the undead moving upwards to scout ahead.
  757.  
  758. "Tha' was the solution. Must've been."
  759. (Sors Ultovex)
  760. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  761.  
  762.  Oh hey! Turns out smashing everything was the proper answer! Which was always solid. Odds are that wasn't the actual answer to the puzzle, but eh it doesn't really matter now does it? The staircase had come down, which means the job was done.
  763.  
  764. After letting a few of Sors' undead go a head to check the area out, Chaaca would begin his ascent up the stairs. Right, time to see what this final floor had instore for them. I mean, what's the wor- He really needed to stop thinking that. So he did!
  765.  
  766. "Right well uhh, good job Lord Ultovex. Guess this is where we need to go! Either that or this has been a very elaborate trap. In that case, uhh… I unno."
  767.  
  768. He shrugged.
  769. (Chaaca Khan)
  770. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  771.  
  772.  Ser Artaghh would raise his sword in victory against puzzles, the dread foe of any swordsmen. He had come here to kill things, not make use of his limited remaining mental faculties from decades of violent injury and concussive force to his bald noggin. "FUCK PUZZLES, HUZZAH!"
  773.  
  774. The knight would ignite forth with passion as the rich aura of his shroud of mana grew in intensity from the commander's sheer hatred of puzzles. They were the worst. He'd proceed fearlessly forth up the freshly descended staircase, prepared to put his sword somewhere in someone's rib cage after all of that puzzlery.
  775. (Artaghh)
  776. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  777.  
  778.  Oh right, uhh the legs are still floating behind Chaaca. Azreal bless.
  779. (Chaaca Khan)
  780. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  781.  
  782.  As the skull is crushed the tainted Sarradian releases the purifying energy and gives a single nod to Lord Ultovex, "An effective solution at that." He admits.
  783.  
  784. Once more he begins to move towards what was surely the final destination. The cusp lie just beyond and the excitement flowed through his veins. He could have pushed it away and nullified it to nothing, but it was nice to fill the void every once in a while.
  785.  
  786. Temperance is not the same as abstention, after all.
  787. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  788. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  789.  
  790.  {NARRATION} With the puzzle bested - Sors' desire to keep the skull isn't stopped in any way. Removing it from the pedestal at this point does nothing. No mechanism remains active enough to reactivate the stairs and he is free to lay claim to it. Onwards and upwards, a short flight of stairs was all that remained.
  791.  
  792. And yet - it was like stepping into an entirely different world. Gone was the stone and occult decor. A simple look down would confirm that they were still in the same place - the same structure. The stairs were intact, the floor below as normal as it had been. But the floor above - the floor they ascended to - was darkness. Not merely the absence of light - but sprawling nothingness. A silence so heavy all sound seemed to vanish settled over them.
  793.  
  794. There was no air here. They could -breathe- so clearly there was oxygen. But there seemed to be no wind. No atmosphere. No ground to tread on, either. Their feet hit a sea of non-existence. Empty dark void that only seemed to exist because they expected it to. A single moment of slacking causality and they might well find themselves walking down, through the 'floor' instead of forwards.
  795.  
  796. And yet - great, calcified growths of gleaming, obsidian-like darkness jagged and cruel sprouted from the deepest pits of this void. Swirling and spiraling; small, micro-cosmic shapes squrming and writhing within. In the distance - or perhaps nearby. Such was hard, if not impossible, to determine in this place. A singular figure stood, hunched over. Papers scattered about him, mid-air, above and below. As if frozen in time, hundreds of them. Notes and studies. Books, texts - ancient treatsies on occultism. On magic so ancient and foul no mortal would ever dare consider.
  797. [02:00] With the skull removed, and the skeletons sent upwards the scout, the Adjudicator waited a few moments. With no bones hitting the stairs back down, the Necromancer would follow. The above was dark, full of terrors, but he would be sure to touch none of it. He hovered, feet not even connecting with the ground.
  798.  
  799. Instead he moved across the darkness, breathed in the oxygen without air and atmosphere. Into the empty dark void he ascended, looking at the calcified growths and the shapes distant and nearby.
  800.  
  801. "Someone's here. Someone talk ta him."
  802. (Sors Ultovex)
  803. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  804.  
  805.  Well this was concerning, really freaking concerning. WHY WAS EVERYTHING SO FUCKING DARK? He wanted to scream that aloud, but odds are it wouldn't be the most well received. If anything it'd just make him look even dumber. Which to be fair, he was really dumb.
  806.  
  807. Right... Well, they had managed to make it this far, surviving the giant metal ball, the butcher, who's legs still floated behind Chaaca. Anyways! They had also survived the dark and horrible waters, which his tail was still present from, what a scandal. Oh, and then they kicked the crap out a Sirenian, and broke a puzzle. All in all? They've done rather well for themselves.
  808.  
  809. All they had to do now was deal with the strange man. Well, this seemed like more of a Sirocco thing, than a him thing, sooo! Once again he'd pawn off most of his responsibilities on someone else. Surely it'd work out.
  810.  
  811. "Right, I'm not really sure what tosay to this dude, uhh… Siro any ideas?"
  812. (Chaaca Khan)
  813. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  814.  
  815.  Ser Artaghh would enter this...void with steady confusion, the ascent past the stairwell into this place absent of light a certain oddity to the seasoned knight even with all the dangerous locales he's had the pleasure of exploring. Yet, as he hovered forth with determination, his shroud of shimmering, dense mana alight behind him.
  816.  
  817. He'd join Sirocco's side as he dredged his black blade from the leather slungs upon his back, nodding to all of the Dawnsmen present before preparing for whatever came with a contented, missing toothed grin. This was what they came here for then, whatever came of the moments that followed.
  818.  
  819. The commander had been looking for a good fight.
  820. (Artaghh)
  821. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  822.  
  823.  Everything disappeared around them yet they continued forth on belief in the Jewel. Perhaps it was a metaphor for the ones that had come before and yet the floor did not fall out from under their feet. Yet.
  824.  
  825. Sirocco approaches hesitantly for the first time as the old sage comes into view. They had reached their destination and the thrill was replaced with anxiety and apprehension.
  826.  
  827. Temperance. One false step and all could be for naught. The tentacle, still clutching the Jewel, rises up to brush away the Sarradian's hood and hair revealing the snake mark upon his brow.
  828.  
  829. "He spoke rarely of how he first attained the Jewel much less of where it came from. A gift, the key he would mutter in reassuring tones. We not doubt its power instead our doubts were turned inward."
  830.  
  831. His dark-rimmed violet eyes are obscured once again by the white smoke as the Null energy begins to shroud his form.
  832.  
  833. "I proclaim myself heir and come to take what is mine. I am worthy of the Jewel."
  834. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  835. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  836.  
  837.  {NARRATION} When Sirocco spoke, his words muffled and muted the instant they left his lips. Yet - the stranger seemed to hear them all the same. Its head lifting, brows furrowing; staring at the stone. Eyes slowly widening in dawning surprise.
  838.  
  839. He was near enough a skeleton - semi-translucent flesh stretched thin and taut around his aged skull. Eyes sunken and yellowing, almost lost in deep sockets. Beard wild and unkempt, a dark hood casting long shadows over pallid, withering features. And as he rose to his feet, one bony claw-like hand reaching out for the jewel as it began to resonate with bright, almost violent light in this place, in the presence of either this man - or something yet unseen.
  840.  
  841. "Mine." It was a breathless whisper - aged and dry. It didn't comefrom his lips, for they were as mute as anything else. But the sound seemed to bubble from the floor and walls. As if a thousand tiny voices began to murmur in unison. "My power. My strength. Why do you have it. Where did it go."
  842.  
  843. There seemed to be a reaction in the room at large. Darkness began to swirl. As if a font of gravity formed under his feet, warping reality around him - causing yet more of those jagged, calcified growths to sprout up in violent, sudden eruptions.
  844.  
  845. "Give it back. I will take it back. Mine." All around them - phrases began to repeat, echoing in dull, whispered monotone.
  846. [02:40] Lord Ultovex watched, curious as to how things would proceed. Sirocco approached, the jewel held in his hand. The floating body of the Adjudicator remained still, arms crossed on his chest and grey and gold narrowed on his face.
  847.  
  848. "Somethang 'bout jewels an' ownership, ya?" He asked. The gloved hand pointed a single finger forwards, a golden astral glow lighting the darkness at the tip of it, clearly charging for something to be released soon. He remained still, staring at the skeletal man.
  849.  
  850. He waited. No action is yet taken, but the Adjudicator would be all together quick to a draw if they were to launch into combat. He judged, based on the calcfied growths it wouldn't take too long to fall into it.
  851. (Sors Ultovex)
  852. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  853.  
  854.  The Windwraith paladin raises his mana-engine level to the being and the familiar whine of it charging is replaced by the dampened noise in this occult abyssal plane.
  855.  
  856. The result was the same however as the dark energies accumulated at the end and what would have been a high pitched whine as it reached peak was instead a dull vibration felt more than heard.
  857.  
  858. "You were not worthy."
  859.  
  860. His mana-cannon releases the pent Null energy in the form of a javelin at the decrepit figured. Whoever he was, whatever he once had been? That era was over now.
  861.  
  862. These books, this place, those secrets.
  863.  
  864. They were his now.
  865. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  866. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  867.  
  868. "Give it back?"
  869.  
  870. Azreal, he wanted to laugh at that. Why the hell would they come all this way just for Sirocco to "give back" whatever the fuck this old lunatic was talking about. Nope, none of that. The only thing that creep would be receiving today would be a swift death.
  871.  
  872. Well provided he was the one to land the final blow. The other members of his party he wasn't too sure about when it comes to that.
  873.  
  874. The words continued to Echo around the room. It was actually starting to get on the Sirenian's nerves. Of course he could probably just use a simple wave of his staff to cast a spell to silence the echoes, but where was the fun in that?
  875.  
  876. The simple answer was, that there wasn't any fun involved in that. He'd shrug, before brining his arm back to grip the handle of his trident, quickly drawing his magical conduit. With yet another twirl from his staff, the holy energy around him grew more vibrant and bright.
  877.  
  878. The time for talking was clearly over. That much was evident by Siro's own words.
  879.  
  880. The time for action had begun, this old man would be dead soon, why bother wasting anymore words on him?
  881. (Chaaca Khan)
  882. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  883.  Ser Artaghh would grip the handle of his greatsword tight with grim determination, his blazing shroud of energy trailing as his form shimmered with ethereal translucence. The knight hovered forth to meet whatever foul creature of the dark would consider this place so void of life a study, prepared to put it to the sword in a feat of glorious combat.
  884.  
  885. The commander would grit his teeth as his muscles bulged forth once more, manifesting the enhanced might and agility of the ethereal energies in tandem with his own mastery of unrefined mana to increase his physical mass far beyond reasonable limits. This was the way of a swordsman, after all.
  886.  
  887. The Knight of the Green Hill would prepare to strike.
  888. (Artaghh)
  889. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  890.  
  891.  {NARRATION} As the occultist fired off a burst of magic towards the ancient - it hit not body, but barrier. Air rippled and crackled as a bubble of hazy iridescence shimmered around his body. Eyes rolled and he retaliated, fingers splayed as darkness - raw, unfettered darkness, erupted in beams from each digit.
  892.  
  893. "Mine. Mine-mine-mine-mine" A litany of madness flowed around them, and darkness filled the air. Occult power ripping through the silent void. It seemed they would get their wish of a fight.
  894. [02:56] As the attack fails the void permeating Sirocco's skin begins to retreat to instead enshroud his form imbuing itself into his mana and directly twisting all spells cast to contain its sting.
  895. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  896. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  897.  
  898. Chaaca with a slight smirk on his face, the Sirenian would rub some of that good old Nightshade onto his trident. Cause I mean, fuck it why not?
  899. (Chaaca Khan)
  900. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  901.  
  902.  {Item} You picked up Nightshade. Dropped by Sirocco Vishkar. .
  903.  Sors Ultovex says, "Rite. Niteshade."
  904. Sors judges the others for using nightshade around him.
  905. (Sors Ultovex)
  906. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  907.  
  908.  Ser Artaghh would slather his greatsword with the apparent vast amount of deadly poison, cause sure why not.
  909. (Artaghh)
  910. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  911.  
  912.  
  913.  The old man, feeble though he appeared, was suitable for one who walked the path. Searing bolts clashed against null barriers as the two exchanged blows in the way that mages were want to do.
  914.  
  915. The support from his allies tipped the scales in his favor.
  916.  
  917. Chaaca's melodious nature enlivened the void with sound, Artaghh's spiritual energy filled the void with colour, and Sors' dread aura gave feeling through the numb space.
  918.  
  919. One by one the very structure, interim with the being who 'owned' it for the time being, was assaulted with their myriad of spells.
  920.  
  921. Eventually the barrier protecting him cracks and the mana engine whirs to life once more, the sound ringing true as high pitch whine was no longer stifled.
  922.  
  923. A quick shift into mistform allowed him to close the distance in a fluid motion the rematerialize with the end up the cannon pressed again the being's midriff.
  924.  
  925. As the whine dissipates all is quiet and dark for one final moment, a silent tribute to the environment the being once ruled.
  926.  
  927. The Jewel begins to glow bright violet with swirling motes of light floating in an orbiting pattern and the amulet around the tainted Sarradian's neck emits a pure note rupturing the silence and abyss.
  928.  
  929. Untamed energy surges forth enveloping the man and unraveling all that he was into raw essence, the tendril at his side swings forth and begins to undulate as pulls in at the more basic form he had been converted into.
  930.  
  931. "Not worthy."
  932. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  933. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  934.  {NARRATION} Bested as he was, the man's aura gave way and faltered. He had poured all of his might into that last effort. His very essence into that final assault; and for naught. He lost, and with a final, clawing grasp at the sarradian's face - reaching for the stone - he fell limp. Dead. Silence took over, the man's maddening voice gone, his life's work now abandoned and the fruits of his labor worthless.
  935.  
  936. Yet. All was not well. That swirling vortex of darkness that had begun with his provocation had not ceased. It began to rise now, spreading out over his body. Taking form; expanding and swelling. A pitch, shadowy humanoid figure towered over the four in moments. Every ounce of darkness receding from the room. Piling high in the center.
  937.  
  938. Light flooded the room once more, a large viewing window in the far wall letting in feeble moonlight; the silvery night seeming, after that darkness, as vibrant and alive as any sun. Floor below them was nothing but stable stone, carpeted with motheaten crimson silk. Papers finally fluttered to the ground and reality resumed once more.
  939.  
  940. It - this unnatural shape - loomed, vast wings of infinite dark spread and at once a multitude of crimson points lit up its entire body, a radiant wave of hellish stars from deep within its form peered out. Each one rotating to gaze at the stone born by Sirocco.
  941. [04:06] It was never that easy. The older man had been struck dead, but even as life faded from them, as silence grew, the swilring vortex of darkness grew. Grey and gold looked up, the Whispering Eye again took more firmly in hand. The pitch shadowy humanoid figure is watched through narrowed gaze.
  942.  
  943. "Wha' sort o' thang is tha'? Not tha' it matters. It ain't speak so it mus' not be plannin' ta."
  944.  
  945. A small orb of Astral force gain gathered at the end of the Adjudicator's finger as he pointed it upwards, towards the darkness the was growing higher and higher. It does not take long for Sors to fire a blow.
  946. (Sors Ultovex)
  947. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  948.  Right! Go team, the weird old dude was dead, and so was their job here. So now was the time for them to go home a-... Dear Azreal what the shit is happening?
  949.  
  950. All the darkness that had surrounded the room, faded away as light returned to the strange room. A small sigh of relief escaped from the Paladin's lips as he relaxed his aura of light for a moment, giving his mana circuits a well deserved break. After all, he didn't need to flare his aura up to see!
  951.  
  952. So that was cool.
  953.  
  954. Though it was at that moment that the strange shadow monster caught Chaaca's gaze. Another sigh escapes from his lips. Guess the mission wasn't over. With his trident still in hand he'd glare at the monster, as he uttered the immortal phrase.
  955.  
  956. "Ah shit, here we go again."
  957. (Chaaca Khan)
  958. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  959. The tentacle appendage begins to melt away drops of it falling away and turning to smoke before they hit the ground. His organic arm returns to normal still clutching the Jewel in his hand.
  960.  
  961. He holds it out, curiously. He could not explain why, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. If the being tried to attack or show hostility it could be withdrawn.
  962.  
  963. "I have claimed what is mine by right and force." He offers to the dark entity. "The Memoirs were my guide, now I claim my prize."
  964.  
  965. Then, his gold-flecked violet eyes shift to the Jewel and back to the entity. He waits patiently to see if it would be yet another fight, his mana-engine rising level to his side, ready if the need should come.
  966.  
  967. The Nullified aura fades no longer obscuring his face and he simply waits to see what this being was and what it, if anything, it held in store for him.
  968. (Sirocco Vishkar)
  969. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  970.  
  971.  Ser Artaghh would plant his sword into the stone tiles with a grimace as he forced himself back to his feet, his muscles already pushed to their limits from the relentless combat and virulent singe of occultic energy. Huffing heavily from his half rotted lungs, the knight would cough up a speckle of blood before wiping it away, slamming his fist against the black plate of his cuirass in a gesture of iron resolve.
  972.  
  973. Standing unsteadily for a brief moment as the moonlight shimmered against the dark, dull metal of the knight's breastplate and grave, the commander gripping the leather bound handle of his nyeshk greatsword tight with his burn scarred, bandaged hands, taking a deep breathe before raising his blade before himself in preparation for the battle at hand.
  974.  
  975. It was time to finish this.
  976.  
  977. As the moonlight glimmered upon the black armor of the marshal, he would pace forth with a shimmer of ethereal light, his armor fading in and out with spiritual translucence as Artaghh prepared to smash the shit out of that big dark ball of nonsense and occultishness.
  978.  
  979. As the gods intended.
  980. (Artaghh)
  981. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  982.  
  983.  {NARRATION} Sors' beam tore through darkness - or, at least, into it. Vanishing into the void and continuing onwards, seemingly for the infinite. Until the thing brought one hand up, lazily pointing its palm in his general direction. A flash of light - and with speed untowed, the blast came flying back out, straight towards the necromancer who had fired it.
  984.  
  985. It turned - to face the occultist. But stopped. Instead spreading its hands as two -things- began to rise from the stairwell. Appearing almost without question or care for the four still among them. One - a mere vaporous ghost. A smoky haze-like form of the towering shadow figure, all mist and smog, with no substance. The other, a damp and sluggish thing. Its moist form grey-brown streaked with red and purple. Its smell moldering and rotten. Pure substance with no essence.
  986.  
  987. Together the two returned to the void-form. For a brief second the three -things- swirled in chaotic disharmony, a confusing blur of shapes and colors merging together, a rush of raw, overpowering darkness filling the air. Leaving nothing but a massive demon standing before them. Its skin mirror-smooth and reflective. Three red eyes opening, moving independantly as they stared from one to the other - looking at all four before settling on Sirocco.
  988.  
  989. "Worthy, are you?" Its voice was crystalline - sharp and elegant. An almost resonant pitch. A hand rose - and a sharp claw pressed against the stone set into Sirocco's brow. At once it lit up with wild brilliance. A crimson nova of raw mana, the center seeming to split open with a minor cosmos of darkness. A pupil opening wide as the stone awoke.
  990.  
  991. "We shall see" Standing up straight, and looking at the four once more. So ready to fight. To throw their lives away. It brought its hands together; a sonic wave filling the room with deafening silence - fractures running across hand and arm. Escalating to chest and throat. In an instant, it shattered. Its form falling to a multitude of mirrored fragments leaving no true evidence of its existence.
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