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6/7 Eternity and More

JWaldman Jun 13th, 2019 70 Never
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  1. Agartha was a place of mysteries, that much was for certain, and Arthur Rowan and those who journeyed with him set out to discover one of the darker ones this continent held in its depths.
  2.  
  3. A tomb, marked with ancient runes and signs of Azrael worship from a time long ago, had been sealed for centuries, unopened, and unexplored.
  4.  
  5. Until now.
  6.  
  7. Some study into what little was said of the tomb had to be undergone, but once it was finished, the Lich was able to approach the entrance. Here it was, not far from Dawn itself, hidden in the snows and mountains. It was little more than a stone doorway inlaid with chipped etchings and marks.
  8.  
  9. But the words on the door could be read by all who came toward it:
  10.  
  11. "Only a true mark of Death will unseal the Door."
  12.  
  13.  It was this or nothing.
  14.  
  15. Despite all of his attempts to perfect the Necromancy to the ways he meant it to be, it was all in vain; the only other hope he had was to resort to the relics of Azrael, the relics of the old which he would obtain for his own purposes. Leading nothing less but a small Legion, the Lich was moving with several dozen of the finest Undead warriors that he could pick out from his army.
  16.  
  17. Amidst them, countless personal bodyguards.
  18.  
  19. Still, the 'true mark of Death' could mean nothing but the Necromantic runes to him. The very runes that are meant to coax back the souls of the fallen... and he figured that this door was a soul-stone of sort, one that would attract the souls of the fallen to get this door open.
  20.  
  21. At least, that's a theory.
  22.  
  23. "Do not touch anything that looks suspicious. My bodyguards will do that, or someone from the Undead Legion."
  24.  
  25. "Stay on your guard at all times. Do not hesitate to strike whatever attacks you."
  26.  
  27. "We will be victorious in this."
  28.  
  29. With so many expeditions that he's gone to, there's no doubt that Arthur acted as a guiding leader, immediately telling others what they should be doing; still, he came a little closer to the door, anticipating that this might as well be immediately a trap, but...
  30.  
  31. They can't move forward unless they open it, can they?
  32.  
  33. The glimmer was conjured around his gloved hands. Stretching upon the door, a set of Necromantic runes were building up all around it, ones that are usually intended as a post-mortem touch to bring the soul back. They were laid out across the door, and with the determination and the power of true Master of Necromancy, their strength seeped deep.
  34.  
  35. Hopefully, this was their answer.
  36. (Arthur Rowan)
  37. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  38.  
  39. {NARRATION} The runes were cast forward and met the stone slabs that made up the entryway. The cloudy night sky did little to make everything feel any less eerie, and the still wind without even a snowflake falling brought about a silence that could only be created by a corpse.
  40.  
  41. The only glow that came forth was from the markings themselves, and as they burned bright, they illuminated the area in an wave of emerald light. After a second, of them burning more and more, all of the etchings disappeared entirely, and the doorway was left bare, and still unopened.
  42.  
  43. A second passed, maybe two, before footprints in the snow appeared on their own. An unseen thing was approaching the Rowan and his allies. They reached maybe a few feet ahead of the group before a figure came into view, one garbed in black plates and black robes.
  44.  
  45. "Your reputation precedes you, Arthur Rowan." came a whispy voice from the spectre. "Do you believe those you have brought with you deserve to die in this place?"
  46.  
  47. This does not scare the Lich.
  48.  
  49. He already faced off against the worst - the Divine Dragons, fire of which burned him so badly; the Fallen Angels, capable of taking control over his undead armies and stealing them; the reflections of the past, and even other Necromancers that stood in Arthur's way. But no... just because they were Necromancers, it doesn't mean that they shared some sort of bond.
  50.  
  51. It only meant there is additional competition.
  52.  
  53. Already he was on guard, and a simple hand was raised upward as he saw the footprints in the snow. It only meant a simple command to his undead Legion - and they all drew their weapons, preparing to face off against potential foe. It's clear that Lich did not perceive this figure as anything but yet another potential hostility.
  54.  
  55. "They know what they came here for."
  56.  
  57. "Dying in the name of our Progress would be an honor. But personally, I do not think it's their time - there is much out there to do, much to work on."
  58.  
  59. The Lich spoke with conviction that was brewed for many decades. If he had to fight yet another foe... then so be it. But despite him holding his troops at the ready, he fished for more.
  60.  
  61. "Who are you? A guardian of this place? One who tests if we're worthy?"
  62.  
  63. "If so, you will not find anyone more worthy. This Holy Art of ours is dying - and if you care in the slightest, you would known to let me pass."
  64. (Arthur Rowan)
  65. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  66.  
  67. {NARRATION} The spirit was unphased by the weapons drawn toward it, and where it's shadowed face looked ahead at Arthur, everyone else couldn't help but feel as though it was watching them as well.
  68.  
  69. Its voice came a second time.
  70.  
  71. "I know who you are. I know that you are the one who will walk through this place. I know because I have waited here for someone capable of opening the doors to come and see what remains inside."
  72.  
  73. "I know what it is you seek, Arthur Rowan." it said again, but this time after it spoke his name, the face very deliberately looked at the others, "But I do have to warn you..."
  74.  
  75. "Only Life can pay for Death."
  76.  
  77. The gaze lingered on Aldrah, Freya, and Artaghh before it returned to the Lich. The cold air remained silent and still, save a single breeze coming from the phantom itself.
  78.  
  79. "What I am does not matter. I am the one who will open this door, and I will be the one who closes it. If you truly seek eternity, it lies within."
  80.  
  81. The phantom turned and walked back toward the doorway, and as soon as it reached the stone that made up the entrance, both the phantom and the slabs vanished, leaving only a dark opening in the mountain before everyone.
  82. [16:44] He hardly believes that this is it.
  83.  
  84. The Lich King knows that there are countless challenges that likely await ahead of them. He knows that this is just the beginning, that there is much more to see and live through; but despite the bizarre appearance of a spirit, he also knew that they have no time to just stand around here.
  85.  
  86. "Move it, people."
  87.  
  88. Determined and organized as always, the Lich commanded his army, and they walked as he walked- two blue fires that have long replaced his eyes were scanning everything around him, looking about; it wasn't too long before the bodyguards took the stance right infront of him, leading the way with their weapons raised.
  89.  
  90. They would serve him dutifully, even ready to give up their own unlife.
  91.  
  92. "Be ready for anything that awaits us ahead."
  93.  
  94. If the door opened to them like this, they could not allow to waste the opportunity.
  95. (Arthur Rowan)
  96. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  97.  
  98.  Ser Artaghh would whistle away a jolly tune as he followed his king forth into the snowy north, lead forth without fear or consternation towards whatever fate brought the traveling party of Azraelites. The commander felt just a bit more confident in his present pursuits than he’d been on the hunt of Ixchel’s avatar; the knight was better supplied than he’d been on that deadly expedition with certainty. Yet, it was more that the mithril paladin was delving into the depths of his own god’s worship for once, testing his own faith in Azrael, that truly lit a fire within the scarred swordsman.
  99.  
  100. Glancing towards death’s door carved into the mountain side, the knight would watch his king go to work as he took a steady puff from his corn cob pipe in the frigid air, blowing a cloud of cold, minty smoke into the distance as he observed the process at hand. A missing toothed smile held on his face in spite of the likely danger at hand, for the commander could not deny that there were few times he felt more alive than at the risk of losing it all. He would put his faith in Azrael to the test.
  101.  
  102. Abiding to the words of his king, the commander of Dawn’s legion would steadily dredge his black blade from the leather rungs bound to the backplate of his cuirass, gripping the nyeshk handle with unyielding firmness between his burn scarred, bandaged hands. Whatever lay before them wasn’t going to be a simple affair, but then, nothing this far north ever was.
  103.  
  104. Just another day in the service of Dawn.
  105.  
  106. The invisible presence of feet upon the snow offered answer, the spectre of death tingling Artaghh’s mystic senses as they approached Lord Rowan. Their inquiry regarding whether or not the party deserved the death they would likely face only steeled the peasant knight’s nerves, his king’s only added affirmation as he bowed his head.
  107.  
  108. "In the service of ma’ city, any cost is acceptable. "
  109.  
  110. As the mountain face passage opened into the dark depths of the tomb that lay beyond, Ser Artaghh would prepare to follow with his senses sharp, ready and willing to handle whatever came.
  111.  
  112. (Artaghh)
  113. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  114.  
  115. Silence
  116. Freya walked as still as the heart in her chest with the others. No words, no breath, nothing. Determined to aid King Rowan in whatever task he had set out for the undead.
  117.  
  118. Only life can pay for death?
  119.  
  120. Freya had literally no more life left to give. She would serve eternally to see the future of Dawn as bright as it can be. So, she would walk, as determined as everyone else, into the mouth of Death itself.
  121. (Freya Vishkar)
  122. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  123.  
  124.  Aldrah saw that Lich expedition as a way to find ways to further increase his powers in the area of ??necromancy and also to get closer to Arthur. In the view of the necromancer, it would be interesting to draw closer to the one who had the most experience.
  125.  
  126. He just kept on guard throughout the process, the Lich talking with the spirit and then the door opening. That made everything easier, did not it? They could not miss the opportunity.
  127.  
  128. Aldrah just nodded, agreeing with the Lich, because he did not have to talk about it at the moment, just prepare for what was ahead.
  129.  
  130. The necromancer kept his staff in his hands, using it as a walking stick. It was not necessary, but he was doing it. Who cares?
  131.  
  132. Behind him, there were some undeads, such that they came both to protect his master and also to carry his things. Potions and whatever he might need.
  133.  
  134. No matter what he was to find in front of him. He was prepared and if death awaited them, he would welcome her with open arms. For being a necromancer, he lives daily with death.
  135. (Aldrah Leverd)
  136. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  137.  
  138.  {NARRATION} Into the darkness they go; Arthur's undead and the other magi of Dawn hand selected for this mission. It is not a kind place they find themselves in, but at this point that should be the norm.
  139.  
  140. The pathway started out as nothing more than a cavern entrance, the mountain's black walls lining the way down into rocky depths. But after half an hour of walking, the flooring began to smooth out, along with the walls, and finally the ceiling.
  141.  
  142. The group found themselves walking through corridors that one would expect of a fortress of some kind, though it was still void of any light. The only way to see was by the torches they had brought, along with any other sources of light they could provide.
  143.  
  144. And so they walked on.
  145.  
  146. And on.
  147.  
  148. And on...
  149.  
  150. Until finally they came to a decision, a simple one;
  151.  
  152. Left or right?
  153. [17:01] This is precisely the purpose as to why he brought his undead army here.
  154.  
  155. The King would not scout the area alone, nor he would risk his life walking into potential trap; surely, there are other dangers out here, and he would still have to be careful, but at least there's a way of relief in how much he could acknowledge each area before risking it all. And as such...
  156.  
  157. "Bodyguards, you'll remain here. The rest, split up and check each passage."
  158.  
  159. "Be careful about it, but try to move as swift as you can. Report back on whatever you find."
  160.  
  161. The bodyguards stood by Arthur, but the other Undead that he'd bring? They began splitting up- the best scouts, trappers and trackers, as well as warriors, began venturing out, seeking out each and every detail they could find.
  162.  
  163. They weren't in a hurry. Dying wasn't an option that Lich considered.
  164. (Arthur Rowan)
  165. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  166.  
  167.  
  168. The undead that Arthur commands march down each path to scout ahead. They disappear into the darkness as they round corners on each path and continue on. Minutes pass, maybe an hour, depending on how long anyone would wait.
  169.  
  170. Silence is the only thing that anyone can hear.
  171.  
  172. And none of the undead return.
  173.  
  174.  So it seems they would have to walk in just like this.
  175.  
  176. To some degree, Arthur knew that this would be a trick; perhaps this place was testing their determination and readiness to give up any doubts they had and simply walk. Perhaps, this journey would be even the last, but...
  177.  
  178. He would be damned if he walked out of here with empty hands.
  179.  
  180. Despite the displeasure of the Lich, his conviction didn't fall, not in the slightest bit. There was no time for doubt or hesitation, and even though something terrible can await ahead, a simple exclamation was made.
  181.  
  182. "We're heading out to the right."
  183.  
  184. And then, he walked, followed by all those that stayed behind with the Lich King.
  185. (Arthur Rowan)
  186. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  187.  
  188.  Ser Artaghh would steadily puff away at his phantom corncob pipe, time seeming to flow by steadily as he crossed his burn scarred, bandaged arms over the black plate of his cuirass with a degree of curiosity. Waiting for the undead to scout out the options seemed wise, especially since splitting up in a place like this was only asking for certain doom. Yet, as minutes ticked by and no corpses shambled back towards their position, it seemed the party had acquired their answer.
  189.  
  190. Everywhere was deadly.
  191.  
  192. Releasing a cloud of minty smoke into the ominous darkness, the knight commander would grip his greatsword's handle tight, remaining eye everpresently scanning their surroundings for a potential ambush from the shadows. If this was to be a test from Azrael, then to bring anything but his best would be sacrereligous. In his name Ser Artaghh served.
  193.  
  194. The paladin would defer to King Rowan and his aged expertise upon undeath, ready to follow his command on a moment's notice.
  195. (Artaghh)
  196. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  197.  {NARRATION} To the right they went.
  198.  
  199. The pathway is still nothing more than a simple corridor, clean of any kind of dirt or muck aside from dust and a light frost due to the location of the crypt. As they marched ahead, they found no signs of the undead Arthur sent forward.
  200.  
  201. No signs of anything at all.
  202.  
  203. The path is long and winding, but it eventually hits a dead end with nothing more than a stone wall marking the path's finale.
  204. [17:17] "A maze, huh."
  205.  
  206. The Lich King was somewhat amused. To have him trapped in a place with nothing but time being the most essential thing felt pointless - he could spend a century in here, and still be fine and well. The Lichdom granted him that much, but...
  207.  
  208. For others? They had to hurry.
  209.  
  210. "Begin inspecting everything around the dead end. This might be illusion."
  211.  
  212. "If we find nothing at all here, we're returning."
  213.  
  214. "Do not split up far this time, otherwise you can get lost."
  215.  
  216. And so the search begins; the myriad undead, the Lich King, and hopefully others - they all get to searching.
  217. (Arthur Rowan)
  218. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  219.  Ser Artaghh would pace along the oddly cleanly depths of the ancient tomb, scratching at his chin briefly before returning his hands to his blade. It must have truly been a long, long time since the living had walked through this place, it seemed almost pristine in the lack of disturbance from the outside.
  220.  
  221. Too clean.
  222.  
  223. The paladin would follow Arthur's orders to a key, making his best use of his senses as a mystic to scan the area with his remaining eye for any supernatural, ethereal ruses. Anything could be a trap.
  224. (Artaghh)
  225. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  226. There they were at a crossroads, they had to decide the way, but Arthur did not delay and sent their undeads in both directions to see what was the way to go.
  227.  
  228. Some time passed and none of the undeads returned, which was not pleasant to anyone in the group, as they would have to choose one of the paths and move on.
  229.  
  230. The Lich being the leader there, decided the direction the group would take, it was to the right and they followed him.
  231.  
  232. Aldrah was next to the Lich, still using his staff as a walking stick, always alert and with his undeads behind.
  233.  
  234. But after a while walking, they came to an end of the line. Nothing more.. No sign of the undeads Arthur had send on this way. Possible something had happened here. Teleportation? Illusion on the way? They had to find out.
  235.  
  236. "I'll go look around here, see if I can find something." He spoke, responding to the Lich.
  237. (Aldrah Leverd)
  238. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  239.  Igniting eyes of pure Rieka, she would quite literally burn away whatever illusions that were blocking her ability to see, and check every nook and cranny for whatever could possibly take the undead.
  240. (Freya Vishkar)
  241. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  242.  {NARRATION} Everyone had good eye sight at least, even in this darkness.
  243.  
  244. They all could tell that the wall before them was very much solid stone, and likely had stone behind it for as far as it would would go. A true dead end.
  245.  
  246. Searching the rest of the corridor revealed that there was definitely something odd going on here. It wasn't necessarily illusion magic but...
  247.  
  248. Freya could sense it in the air, something that changed with each step the group took.
  249.  
  250.  Freya Vishkar says, "..."
  251.  She held up a hand, and said,
  252.  
  253. "Everyone stop."
  254.  
  255. She took Colada, and marked the stone with a burning sigil of Rieka. A small X on the ground where they were at. She had noticed it slightly- the stone was shifting behind them as they walked.
  256.  
  257. Either they were in an illusion, or the path behind them was literally changing, as to confuse them.
  258.  
  259. "When we walk, we move in a square. Two looking behind us, and two looking in front. I think the paths are moving when we aren't looking."
  260. (Freya Vishkar)
  261. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  262.  
  263.  Ser Artaghh would scan the area to the best of his ability with his remaining eye, trying his best to gauge if the wall before them was in fact actually a wall! And he succeeded! Well, succeeded in discovering that yes, it was wall. A victory for the knight of the Green Hill, of that there was no doubt.
  264.  
  265. Glancing with a light blink at Freya's direction, he'd trail his glance over the floor with a sense of curiosity as he poked idly at the tiles, humming to himself in contemplation as he nodded with firmness to Freya. Her reika eyes saw what he had not, and that was more than enough for him.
  266.  
  267. Following their instruction, Ser Artaghh would take after the Oscuri and King's leads.
  268. (Artaghh)
  269. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  270.  Whatever it is that Freya noticed, it would mean that there's necessity for this; all of them are in this together, and it would mean that they have to cover each other's backs. When that proclamation was made, the Lich King ordered to the rest of Undead.
  271.  
  272. "Everyone, form square positions. Two looking infront, two looking behind."
  273.  
  274. "Also, leave scratches with swords so that we know we already covered this area. Mark every few footsteps or so."
  275.  
  276. As for Lich himself? He would push into the stone with the pure energy of Arcane, making an engraved mark; all for the reason to track wherever they go.
  277.  
  278. "Stick together in formations."
  279. (Arthur Rowan)
  280. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  281.  
  282. [17:35] Aldrah stopped as soon as Freya said, his gaze focused on her as she spoke.
  283.  
  284. Were the paths moving? Now, this was something new, if that was what was happening.. It would be really annoying the way. Mhm.
  285.  
  286. "Right." he replied, he would do what was asked by Freya and Arthur, was the best they had to do.
  287.  
  288. He would use his ice magic, to leave small markings with the Dawn's symbol at the floor, this should be enough to mark the road..
  289. (Aldrah Leverd)
  290. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  291. {NARRATION} Markings were made, reminders set down so the group could track where they have been and where they were. They marched forth with eyes set backward on the signs and eyes ahead into the darkness.
  292.  
  293. It doesn't take long for those looking forward to see another dead end, another stone wall that couldn't be bypassed.
  294.  
  295. Those that had watched down the way they had come couldn't see anything else. The path was dark, and unchanged, and though the markings were out of view, they didn't spot any movement that would have meant something changed.
  296.  
  297.  Another dead end?
  298.  
  299. This doesn't seem right. Although they may have not seen any movement, there's suspicion in his mind that the stones do move, after all, or there's magic in play. But just how much they could keep going in circles, until there's finally an exit?
  300.  
  301. "If you don't remember the dead end, mark it."
  302.  
  303. "Continue moving in those formations. In the meantime..."
  304.  
  305. Perhaps it would be worth it...
  306.  
  307. A glare towards one of the dead ends, and the Lich suddenly unleashed a wave of destructive Arcane; all of it intended to potentially topple the wall. Now, whether it would turn out that there's more behind it, or just more stone? That remains to be seen.
  308.  
  309. "Test each and every dead end you find."
  310. (Arthur Rowan)
  311. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  312.  {NARRATION} A blast of entropic force collided with the dead end, and cratered it inward. Though once the dust had settled, it was revealed that only more stone and mountainous rock remained behind it. This place was built to withstand blasts and the corridors took those who came inside in the directions the architect wanted them to go.
  313.  
  314. That being said, the crash echoed on down into the darkness toward the first dead end the group had met. From what it seemed like, they were now enclosed within a single, very long and winding hallway with no way out, no exit or even an entrance to be spoken of.
  315.  
  316. And yet, from far down the way, there came a wave of heat, and a distant roar.
  317.  
  318.  "Dragon, most likely..."
  319.  
  320. A single remark spoken by the Lich, but he didn't feel himself become afraid; if anything, this would be very far from the first time he's faced off against a Dragon, and this would unlikely be the last time. Still, seeing no particular exit or entrance to speak of, he deduced that heading towards the source of sound would be the only way they might get out of here.
  321.  
  322. "It seems we'll have to brace ourselves."
  323.  
  324. "Remain vigilant to see if you can find any other alternative path. Seems we've been had - whoever constructed this likely intended for us to end up here all along."
  325.  
  326. "We're heading to the source of the roar."
  327.  
  328. Not even a glint of anxiety or worry. Arthur was far too old and had seen too much to be concerned at this point... with that, they made their way to the source of roar.
  329. (Arthur Rowan)
  330. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  331.  
  332.  Ser Artaghh squinted into the darkness as he tried to gauge out the ruse that plagued the group,
  333. his eye darting between the tiles and markings for any apparent shift as he puffed lightly at his pipe. Yet, beyond the hanging sense of dread that hung in the air in all such deadly adventures as this, the knight commander saw nothing of note. The
  334.  
  335. Hearing his king’s orders with a steadfast nod, the knight would draw a finger across the ethereal runes of his black blade, the dense energies of the spirit realm gathering within as he prepared to release a mighty wave of kinetic ghost force with willful determination! That is, he was until Arthur made use of the arcane to make such efforts look like child’s play, halting the mithril paladin’s efforts in their place.
  336.  
  337. The mystic’s ears would ring idly as the wave of heat brushed over his burn scarred exterior, a brief sweep of his bandaged palm over his head wiping away sweat as he squinted with his remaining eye towards the darkness, the source of the blood curdling roar. Whatever had made such a sound did not seem pleased, and a swift scan of their surroundings made it clear to Ser Artaghh that walking around the source of this foul heat was an….unlikely solution.
  338.  
  339. Oh bother.
  340.  
  341. Hearing his king's order, he would bow his head before pacing forth into the humid abyss, steeling his nerves as he gripped the handle of his blade with a grip of granite. He was terrible at puzzles anyway.
  342. (Artaghh)
  343. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  344.  Dragons, why did it have to be dragons?
  345. If she was physically capable, she'd sigh. But, sword in hand, she'd extend her own Rieka to create as much of a light source for the rest of them to walk as easily as possible.
  346.  
  347. She'd also try to notice the markings on the ground as they walked, to see if they had walked the exact same series of marking from before to here.
  348. (Freya Vishkar)
  349. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  350.  They continued on their way, their eyes intent, two looking back and two forward, always marking the way. However, again they came to a dead end.
  351.  
  352. Aldrah snapped his tongue, this place was starting to irritate him..
  353.  
  354. But then, Arthur, decided to blow up the wall, only revealing that there were more rocks behind. There was no apparent secret passage.
  355.  
  356. Then a warmth comes at the direction of the group, Aldrah already covered itself with a little icy air, since he did not like the heat. But followed by this heat, a roar. Oh damn. Something to see ahead..
  357.  
  358. Then the Lich began to speak. He wanted to go ahead! Great. And a dragon? This is good.
  359.  
  360. Aldrah turned his gaze to Arthur and said, "A dragon you say? Interesting. I can work with a dragon's body.." He smirked, "I'm ready."
  361.  
  362. Dragons are powerful creatures, one on Aldrah's command would be interesting. If it really is a dragon.. Well, it was Arthur's guess, after all.
  363. (Aldrah Leverd)
  364. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  365.  {NARRATION} The group continued toward the roar, though it was a distant and far off sound.
  366.  
  367. They were approaching the spots covered in marks, and sure enough, the markings were waiting for them, along with the first dead end they had arrived at.
  368.  
  369. They continued on looking down in both directions, and would find themselves in the same spot they had started with no other paths that broke off in any other directions.
  370.  
  371. Maybe they expected to meet the beast, a dragon, or whatever made the distant roar, but instead they found themselves still alone in the darkness of a corridor deep underground.
  372.  
  373.  "Hrm…"
  374.  
  375. "This might be a crazy idea, but I think that... the corridor might be asking us to throw away any doubts we had, and only look forward."
  376.  
  377. "I've been to Azraelite ruins before. I've seen what they do. Quite often, it relates to what people feel, and what they have inside their minds - until we threw off such doubts from ourselves, we were not able to advance."
  378.  
  379. "Perhaps, this is it. Stop looking into all directions - and only look forward. Walk without hesitation in your mind."
  380.  
  381. But the Lich led by example; he turned, and already he began to march off to the dark where no dead end existed. Simply going forward, wherever his eyes can see... they are already lost in the maze - what would getting even more lost do?
  382. (Arthur Rowan)
  383. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  384.  
  385.  {NARRATION} Looking forward, they continued.
  386.  
  387. Only to meet ANOTHER dead end. When they met this one, another heated wave of air wafts through the hallway, and the roar that was once distant sounds as if it's getting closer.
  388.  "Turn, and continue walking wherever else you can see. This roar is getting closer - means whoever is stalking upon us would soon find its way towards us."
  389.  
  390. "Leave marks as you go."
  391.  
  392. The same continued. Least performing this would yield absolutely no result over and over again, it's still too soon to give up.
  393.  
  394. Still, the blasts of Arcane were sent to different sides here and there, all to shape an impact which meant that they already passed this place
  395. (Arthur Rowan)
  396. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  397.  Ser Artaghh would scratch his head in confusion as the roar led the group not to some foul den of darkness and depravity as any usual source of Azrael worship manifested, but just more trickery! The knight was once more faced with his greatest foe, his dread enemy, puzzles of all kinds. The commander would grit his half missing teeth with a shake of his head as he laughed to himself at the hilarity of it.
  398.  
  399. Yet, he would follow his king’s lead forth with a steadfast nod, pacing forth with readied intentions to face this ruse with all his might. Yet as they reached another dead end, Ser Artaghh would sigh. Damn you, puzzles.
  400.  
  401. Following his King’s command, Ser Artaghh would take out his enmity towards puzzlekind by gouging forth his black blade into the ground with ringing thrusts into the stone below them, progressing forth without anymore doubt.
  402.  
  403.  
  404. (Artaghh)
  405. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  406.  {NARRATION} They continue back,
  407.  
  408. and meet another dead end. Each way they walk, each path they follow, it seemed like there was simply no way forward. They reach a stone wall, one that isn't cratered in anymore, and are left with a choice of doubling back again or thinking of something new to try.
  409.  
  410. The air is now hot anywhere they go.
  411.  Arthur Rowan says, "Hm."
  412. Arthur takes his time inspecting this area. Considering that this isn't cratered, there's no doubt now that things change - or that there's something- or someone- that keeps things going this way.
  413.  
  414. "Carefully inspect each and every inch of this place."
  415.  
  416. "We might not walk out otherwise."
  417. (Arthur Rowan)
  418. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  419.  
  420.  Artaghh says, "Hmm."
  421.  Aldrah nods to Arthur, beginning to look around, touching the walls, searching, maybe some secret switch would open a secret path?
  422. (Aldrah Leverd)
  423. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  424.  
  425.  Ser Artaghh would follow the actions of his fellows, focusing not on familiarizing his path through the illusion with their recent assailments to find a steady path, but rather on oddities that could be perceived while they were progressing forward.
  426. (Artaghh)
  427. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  428.  {NARRATION} Aldrah gets caught up in thinking a brick that is definitely not a secret button IS a secret button.
  429.  
  430. But Freya and Arthur note that the first round of marks are now gone, vanished, apparently, like the cratered wall Arthur had made at one end. They get a claustrophobic sensation as well, both of them realizing that each time they double back toward one end, it gets ever closer to the other, like the corridor is shrinking.
  431.  
  432. Artaghh, while noticing this, finds something else that he accidentally kicks with his foot.
  433. Tattles whispers: It's an arm of one of Arthur's undead with a sigil of Dawn on a sash. The bone is burned, along with the cloth.
  434. Aldrah Leverd says, "Hmm.."
  435.  Ser Artaghh would nearly eat with a stumble as his black sabatons kicked forth into an indiscernible bundle, choking on a puff of smoke from his pipe as he grumbled to himself and glanced down at his feet. Yet, his remaining eye would widen as he began to scan what he'd bumped into, kneeling down with an idle creak of his black greaves as he grasped his findings before raising what he'd discovered for the group to see.
  436.  
  437. One of Arthur's lost undead, freshly barbequed.
  438.  
  439. progressing forth without anymore doubt.
  440.  
  441. "King Rowan, I think I foun' one'a yer employees. Trouble is, he's a wee bi' crispy. Think we migh' be gettin' hunted."
  442.  
  443.  
  444.  
  445. (Artaghh)
  446. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  447.  As he expected it to be.
  448.  
  449. It might've not been the Dragon, but it would certainly be something capable of frying people alive; he may not feel anything because he's undead himself, but he could certainly note the fluctuation of temperature at such degree.
  450.  
  451. "Do you think you can determine where it's coming from?"
  452. (Arthur Rowan)
  453. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  454.  
  455.  Arthur Rowan says, "In fact, I think it's time we try to find whoever is behind this."
  456.  Arthur Rowan says, "All of us."
  457.  Artaghh says, "I think standin' our groun' migh' be the bes' choice, aye."
  458.  Arthur Rowan says, "Better yet - we can stand our ground and begin spreading the light around this dark place."
  459.  Arthur Rowan says, "Begin by firing across corridors. Anything that has light to it - fire, lightning, occultic or holy magics, anything."
  460.  Arthur Rowan says, "Even throw torches if you want."
  461.  The Lich King was famous for one thing - and that were the storms.
  462.  
  463. Even in the little space such as this, an artificial storm could be created at his command; the lightning spread, shocking across the corridors and setting as tiny balls of light. More and more appeared, illuminating the corridors entirely, up until there was very little places to hide.
  464.  
  465. Even then, more balls of light spread out, as the embodiment of lightning.
  466.  
  467. "Leave no corner dark."
  468. (Arthur Rowan)
  469. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  470.  "On it, Chief."
  471.  
  472. Freya hold out her prosthetic palm, drawing from the Lodestone that was now far-implanted in her own chest, and fires off flare-like bolts of Rieka that explode in the air, spreading the tainted energy across as much of the tunnel as it could.
  473.  
  474.  
  475. (Freya Vishkar)
  476. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  477.  
  478.  Arthur Rowan says, "First time I miss Dawn's lamps."
  479.  Arthur Rowan says, "We should've brought them."
  480.  Ser Artaghh never required an excuse to blind fire into the darkness, a tired grin spreading across his burn scarred cheek as he ignited forth in a rich, dense blue shroud of shimmering, fiery mana, his musculature bulging forth with condensed powered as he began to slash forth with his blade, the ethereal runes glowing as it unleashed a scorching barrage of kinetic, ethereal waves forth into the darkness on his king's command.
  481. (Artaghh)
  482. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  483.  
  484.  Artaghh says, "Aye..."
  485.  Artaghh says, "Good men died for those lamps. "
  486.  Well Aldrah had no magic that could illuminate.. But he was an alchemist! With that he could do something.
  487.  
  488. He opened his satchel and took some bottles from inside. Some flasks contained liquids and other foreign dust, others had insects inside.
  489.  
  490. Without delay he began to make a quick mix, where he mixed liquids with powder, together of a firefly. he shook the flask, to blend its contents. After this, the mix turned into a goo, that was glowing!
  491.  
  492. "I think that would help." The necromancer spoke, opening the vial of the mixture and pouring it onto the floor. It would brighten up a bit at least. That's what he could do.
  493. (Aldrah Leverd)
  494. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  495.  
  496.  Freya Vishkar says, "*FUCK"
  497.  {NARRATION} Light spreads out across the darkened space, the corridor filled with dead end after dead end. It spreads out in rieka, in lightning, in torch fires and the like. It makes the the hallways reveal themselves, their grey, tiled stone floor as boring in the light as it was in the darkness.
  498.  
  499. By all accounts this place should be a freezer, but the air is boiling already, and once the lights spread out, it is turned up another few, harmful notches. Another roar shakes the hall, closer this time, but not in front of the group... or behind...
  500.  
  501. but above.
  502.  
  503. The ceiling crumbles down upon them, debris and rock crashing downward. No one is able to get out of its way as a large SOMETHING collides with the floor, and Freya is nearly buried beneath some of the rubble. She's able to move out of the way just in time, but not before the falling stones tear into her left arm and armor.
  504.  
  505. The thing doesn't wait for anyone to ready themselves.
  506.  
  507. It unleashes its hellish flames on those it would deem intruders immediately.
  508. [18:39] There we go.
  509.  
  510. This beast might as well be responsible for shifting things around too. At least, now that they were able to see the monster before them, they knew whom they had to deal with - and this isn't going to be an easy fight by all accounts; at least, he feels that way.
  511.  
  512. "I'm sure the rest of you already know what to do about this."
  513.  
  514. The staff was raised, and the storms only beamed further; this time, it was something that promised powerful winds and lightning spreading out across the halls, intending to smite the beast before them.
  515.  
  516. "Let's get this over with quickly."
  517. (Arthur Rowan)
  518. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  519.  
  520.  Ser Artaghh is assailed by rocks from above with a sudden epiphany as a large chunk smashed directly into his forehead. Falling to his knee for a moment, the revelation that they'd been so focused on the ground, they hadn't thought of the ceiling above them reignited his vigor as he planted his black blade into the groun, ethereal fire burning about his form as he rose forth in preparation to engage the beast.
  521.  
  522. A fight, far more straightforward. In Azrael we trust.
  523.  
  524. The commander would prepare to engage the fiery beast that had charred the undead, a smile of satisfaction spread across his face in having defeated yet one more foul puzzle.
  525. (Artaghh)
  526. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  527.  Dead End, followed by Dead End, this place was hellish. It had no right path.
  528.  
  529. All the group did was keep going forward, hoping to find something.
  530.  
  531. Until from nothing, the ceiling succumbs, Aldrah manages not to be get crushed, but got a little wounded. But Freya was not so lucky and was crushed by stones.
  532.  
  533. When the necromancer only saw flames coming toward him, undeads blocked as much as they could, since the old man did not have the time to look at what had done it.
  534.  
  535. But as soon as he could, Aldrah saw a beast in front of him and apparently it was unfriendly, a fight was on its way without a doubt.
  536.  
  537. Aldrah's icy aura grew, as he now set out for combat.
  538. (Aldrah Leverd)
  539. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  540. The ceiling began to crash, and Freya's prosthetic was caught in the falling debris. The hand was smashed, but no pain to the undead.
  541.  
  542. If anything, she was far more satisfied with this kind of encounter. Puzzles were not her strong suit, but fighting against a monster was.
  543.  
  544. The Reika around her body grew white-hot and blazed the stone she stepped on. Time to get to work.
  545. (Freya Vishkar)
  546. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  547.  The monstrous creature was not so Strong as expected.. It was using its black flames, which made life difficult for the group, waste of time. However, the skill set of all present, had demonstrated enough to subdue the creature, without major problems.
  548.  
  549. Aldrah was using his spells to avoid approaching the creature too much, attacking when he saw opportunities.
  550.  
  551. In the end, the creature was defeated. The group emerged victorious, with no major injuries. Amazing.
  552.  
  553. Aldrah looked at the fallen creature, a cold look, barely demonstrating anything, "I thought that thing would be stronger, after what he done.. But apparently it's just a 'worm', which only served to make us waste time." He spoke in a calm tone, undeads following him.
  554. (Aldrah Leverd)
  555. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  556.  Even with a crushed prosthetic, Freya fought with vigor and speed. Bolts of Rieka crashing into the flesh of the monster, followed up by wicked slice of Colada, infusing as much of Azrael's gift into the beast to slow its movements.
  557.  
  558. But in the end, it would be her teacher, Artagh, to deliver the finishing blow. With an opening created by the flames of her Rieka, the beast would be defeated, and the party would escape relatively unscathed.
  559.  
  560. She moved her prosthetic, and the plating on the wrist and forearm was totally smashed in, with the wires exposed and circuits of Rieka able to be seen. Someone's going to have to fix that one, mmhm.
  561. (Freya Vishkar)
  562. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  563. There's no doubt that the beast would be something ferocious.
  564.  
  565. Thankfully, the teamwork of the group was good enough to ensure that they could defeat it without being scathed too much. If anything, there was certain work with how they made it - with each blow, there was sting of the winter that provided necessary field of the battle, and the boiling blood, which the Lich King assaulted the creature with.
  566.  
  567. But where each and every blow would wind up putting a dent to it, at some point, Arthur realized that the creature was already going down; yet another shock of lightning, something so necessary in this combat, and at last, the beast was defeated.
  568.  
  569. Though, there were also minor casualties...
  570.  
  571. The Lich King floated over to Freya; inspecting her damaged arm, he could already tell that the prosthetic was the one that suffered the most damage. Thankfully, he was familiar with metallurgy to a certain degree - the fact that Dylerun himself forced the Rowan to create parts of his phylactery made it so that he knew how this thing functions.
  572.  
  573. "Hold still."
  574.  
  575. The invigoration of the mana circuitry was apparent. Although it would never replicate the real arm, the runes that meant to surge the prosthetic with energy were put in place, and the careful, but otherwise mending touch of Telekinesis was applied. Surely, it's not a conventional healing method - but neither was this 'wound'.
  576.  
  577. The crushed prosthetic was, thus, swiftly mended back in place through the power of Telekinesis; the runes and invigoration served to re-charge it back in place.
  578.  
  579. "All is done."
  580.  
  581. "However, we cannot waste time. Now, we need to find the way out of here - continue shining with light, we have to make sure we aren't going to get lost in the dark."
  582.  
  583. "Otherwise, try and reach places we haven't been to yet."
  584. (Arthur Rowan)
  585. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  586.  Ser Artaghh would engage against the fiery beast with all of his pent up fury and rage, the taunting puzzles a natural irritant and enemy to the blunt, common born knight. Igniting forth with muscles forth, he'd engage beside his king, paladin, and knight in a glorious crescendo of melee combat, crashing across the battlefield with concussive blows.
  587.  
  588. The undead, Arthur's spellcraft, Freya's might, Aldrah's chill; his allies efforts gave him moments to strike true with an ethereal howl of his blade's swing, fierce cuts of anger as Artaghh's muscles bulged forth with each progressive, savage swing of his black greatsword. His rage at puzzles had overtaken him, and he would have blood.
  589.  
  590. Seeing his moment to strike, Artaghh would phase briefly into the spirit realm as he gathered energy in his right arm, the size and density of the muscle mass in his appendage near tripling as he took a deep, solemn breath.
  591.  
  592. Lunging forth as he stepped out of the phase, the commander would grit his teeth with fury as he SMASHED the beast in its torso with a resounding, vicious, and concussive blow, slamming down with explosive might as all of the knight's fury at trickery was channeled into one action of dedicated ultraviolence.
  593. (Artaghh)
  594. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  595.  {NARRATION} The beast was felled with little difficulty.
  596.  
  597. It simply wasn't capable of wishstanding a full on assault from a real threat. By its physical form, it looked to be something like a bull, or a kaor mutated by the darkness. Shadows flickered around it like fire, until it was finally felled by Artaghh.
  598.  
  599. It slumped onto the floor, still growling, still roaring, until it seeped through the tiled cracks like ink and shadow and nothing more.
  600.  
  601. The hole through which it had descended from above was still open, inviting everyone to climb upward should they wish to advance to somewhere that wasn't walking back and forth between dead ends forever.
  602. [19:02] Of course not.
  603.  
  604. Before others would even speak, the Lich King already conjured the Storm mighty enough to elevate others- provided they weren't going to resist- and pull them upward to where the beast had fallen.
  605.  
  606. All the magi and all of the Undead bodyguards he had, all of them were tugged to a different area altogether.
  607.  
  608. If there was one thing that Lich King truly hated - it was testing his patience and aimless wandering.
  609. (Arthur Rowan)
  610. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  611.  Ser Artaghh was done with this puzzle, not resisting the storm's rise in the slightest as he wiped at his blade with the folds of his green cloak. Heaving with exertion after such an invigored bout, a bit of cool air in a dark crypt might be nice.
  612.  
  613. The knight would follow the lead of his king.
  614. (Artaghh)
  615. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  616.  Ah, A roof! With the natural abilities of Rieka, she could conjure her wings and ascend up in a glorious wave of verdant energy....
  617.  
  618. ...that's if Arthur wasn't floating her up already in a little storm cloud. She accepted it, only if to pout on the way up. Arms crossed as she was hefted into the air.
  619. (Freya Vishkar)
  620. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  621.  Aldrah looked at the hole caused by the beast, apparently it was the best route they had, since it seemed to move forward it only would result to the dead ends.
  622.  
  623. "Let's go this way, then.. Right?" He spoke looking at the others, starting to float toward the hole.
  624.  
  625. He paused before continuing, waiting to see what the others in the group would do.
  626. (Aldrah Leverd)
  627. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  628.  {NARRATION} The group ascends.
  629.  
  630. The are all able to make it up to the floor above, which reveals itself to be an atrium of some kind, one that stretched on and on in every direction. It smelled of the beast up here, but there were no signs of its movements or marks that might have meant it lived her.
  631.  
  632. Instead, standing in the middle of room was the phantom once again.
  633.  
  634. "Oh. Well done." it said softly. "You survived the first test. It means you are talented, Arthur Rowan." it bowed its head to show some respect and then turned toward the center of the room.
  635.  
  636. There in the middle was a statue of a knight with both hands out, palms upward.
  637.  
  638. Along the walls were several weapons, ten to be exact, each placed upon its own pedestal.
  639.  
  640. "Though you were unable to escape the maze on wit alone. Brute force will get you no where in this room."
  641.  
  642. It floated off toward the statue and placed a hand on its shoulder before speaking again.
  643.  
  644. "Bring to us the greatest weapon, that kings covet, puts warriors to ruin, and ends all battles. And we will see if you are the one who is meant to continue onward."
  645. [19:15] "Wit? Oh please."
  646.  
  647. Still, despite such words spoken, he did take in account that there might've been an exit; albeit, not the one he found, but at least they made it through without much of trouble. He began to look around, looking at each and every weapon around them, before he would actually consider.
  648.  
  649. "Hm."
  650.  
  651. "Kings covet, puts warriors to ruin, and ends all battles..."
  652.  
  653. And what would each pedestal contain?
  654. (Arthur Rowan)
  655. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  656. Ser Artaghh would glance around in amazement as he gazed about the atrium, the ethereal voice speaking to other listened to idly as his remaining eye trailed idly about the room. This was a wondrous hall! Yet, the commander would sigh as he heard that, no, there were going to be even more puzzles. Yet, having released his rage with a sigh of relief, his fifty year old blood pressure was finally at a healthy level.
  657.  
  658. He was ready to face his sworn enemy.
  659.  
  660. The bald knight would move forth carefully to examine the various weapons that were on display, figuring such was the first step to determine that which was the greatest.
  661.  
  662. (Artaghh)
  663. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  664. {NARRATION} The weapons are examined and shown to be as follows:
  665.  
  666. A Warhammer dubbed 'Deathbringer', one with a bright yellow leather handle.
  667.  
  668. A Great Sword, called Oath Shatterer, one with Blood red inscriptions on it.
  669.  
  670. A Glaive, Mercy Climber, it is a bright blue blade with a black leader braided handle.
  671.  
  672. Giant Toe, a Maul, decorated with a giant skull with its mouth open where the maul protrudes outward from.
  673.  
  674. Quicksilver, a pike with a dark green jade blade and a bamboo handle.
  675.  
  676. Bad Samaritan, a Trident with dark and golden reflective inscriptions.
  677.  
  678. Midnight Sun, a Quarterstaff with braided dark and light wood and teal crystal inlays.
  679.  
  680. Peacemaker, a rusted longsword with an olive branch wrapped around the hilt.
  681.  
  682. Kingslayer, a Morningstar with a black handle and a white head.
  683.  
  684. Widowmaker, a Longbow made of Cherry wood with yellow crystal inlays.
  685.  
  686.  Potentially, few of those weapons could be something that a king would covet; something that brings warriors to ruin, and ends all battles. But... he also had to remember the teachings of Azrael, his own experiences, and something that he observed throughout his time on Agartha.
  687.  
  688. 'What would bring ruin to warriors?'
  689.  
  690. "The lack of war makes warriors useless..."
  691.  
  692. He ran his gaze across the room. He kept thinking, running the names of each weapon through his mind.
  693.  
  694. 'What would end battles?'
  695.  
  696. "When no more reason is given..."
  697.  
  698. Just two more options in his mind. Now, what he, as a King, coveted? What Azrael wanted to bring to the world by making everyone Undead, albeit, through very brutal ways?
  699.  
  700. 'What was the last thing in his mind to protect Dawn?'
  701.  
  702. "...Peace."
  703.  
  704. He walked closer; steadily, he grasped upon the hilt of the Peacemaker, two blue fires that had long replaced eyes scanning it. Such rusted sword... it probably served the metaphor - if there is peace, there is no need for war or the warriors. The swords would rust.
  705.  
  706. He turned to the statue and approached it.
  707.  
  708. Bracing himself for potential impact, he placed the Peacemaker in its hand, waiting.
  709. (Arthur Rowan)
  710. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  711.  
  712. Ser Artaghh would pass by all the varied weapons that were lain about, their fascinating names and embroidered forms. Each was clearly a mighty, flamboyant, and rich adornment for a monarch, but only one caught the knight’s attention as he approached it with curiosity.
  713.  
  714. A rusted blade with an olive branch. Not fanciful, shiny, impressive. But peace, hard won through war or diplomacy, meant prosperity. Progress.
  715.  
  716. Peacemaker. This, Ser Artaghh thought, might be the blade of kings.
  717.  
  718. (Artaghh)
  719. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  720. {NARRATION} Peacemaker is offered to the statue with the phantom floating overhead. It watches as the knight is given the old and rusted sword, and its armored, stone fingers curl around the handle. It shifts, like an animated construct, until it has both hands resting on the hilt of the blade and the sword itself is pointed downward.
  721.  
  722. No strike follows,
  723.  
  724. only the voice of the phantom.
  725.  
  726. "Good... you know well, Lich King... for a man who doesn't know how to walk backward into the darkness, you certainly solved this one rather quick."
  727.  
  728. It waved its hand and began floating ahead again, "Come. There is yet one more test to prove your worth."
  729. [19:30] "That is perhaps the worst riddle you could've given me."
  730.  
  731. "I was only taught how to walk forward in life, you see. I was never taught to walk back."
  732.  
  733. He retaliates, and while it may sound almost petty coming from Arthur, in a sense, it's true; the Lich Ling only knew how to walk forward or to stop. Never walk back.
  734.  
  735. The Lich King, nonetheless, followed the phantom. It may have insulted him backhandedly, but he knew that he was a somewhat reliable guide.
  736.  
  737. Hopefully.
  738. (Arthur Rowan)
  739. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  740.  {NARRATION} Where others would have smiled, or even laughed at Arthur explaining his reasoning against the maze, the phantom said nothing. It was silent, and moved on toward a dark wall. When it reached it, it slipped through, just as it had done at the doorway where the group had started. Only this time following the phantom would reveal new results.
  741.  
  742. The outside air was found once again, though this time it was not cold.
  743.  
  744. The sound of the nearby ocean washing over large, rocky bluffs could be heard, and the group found themselve sin a wrecked courtyard.
  745.  
  746. "In a time long forgotten, in the wars only spoken of in myth..." it said, circling some of the stones that had fallen from the sky and cratered the ground here. "Azrael's chosen were equipped with weapons of power beyond that of the average soldier... of the mundane necromancer... not even Liches like yourself, Arthur, were granted an opportunity at wielding some of that... GREATER power over the soul itself..."
  747.  
  748. The sounds of war could be heard in the distance, screams of pain and anguish. Explosions caused by spells slung to and fro made the ground shake, though there was nothing visible present to explain them yet.
  749.  
  750. "It was during this war that I was chosen... and then it was here where I was put to rest... to oversee the gift I was given."
  751.  
  752. It pulled back its hood and finally revealed its face; a golden facade with rieka green eyes. A mask suited for someone of the highest order.
  753.  
  754. "Agartha was not always as it was, you know... the mountains were not always frozen over. I have waited for a successor, someone worthy to brave my tomb. And though you killed my guardian beast, you must understand..."
  755.  
  756. Shadows sprouted out of the ground and grouped around the phantom. They all took the form of undead soldiers of its own, though blackened in nature and eyes dripping red. They were creatures from the past, from the age of this Azraelite Hero that they were all now standing in, soldiers who had followed his command.
  757.  
  758. "I must test you myself."
  759.  
  760. Occultism washed forth as it enveloped the phantom's form, and the ichor ridden soldiers readied themselves for battle.
  761.  
  762.  He didn't expect the guardian to simply give up the relic just like that.
  763.  
  764. If anything, he expected the guardian to even refuse to give them anything at all... which would be an understandable notion of someone who seeks someone worthwhile only. Still, there's no such thing as 'going backward' in the vocabulary of the Lich - it may be even viewed as stupidity at times, but this also led Arthur to the success he's in possession of these days. If it wasn't for that, he wouldn't be even anywhere close to where he is now.
  765.  
  766. As such, he only gave a solemn nod.
  767.  
  768. "Prepare yourselves."
  769.  
  770. An address to his people; whether they were simple Undead soldiers that followed their master, or other magi that he brought along, they were all the people that needed to be in their top shape by now. There would be no surrender today, no going back.
  771.  
  772. No defeat. No... they couldn't let that happen.
  773.  
  774. "I understand, guardian."
  775.  
  776. The robes of the Lich were slightly shoved apart, making for a space that conjured myriad lightning bolts within; the storms above them brewed, and despite the relatively closed space, the nature's wrath was looming over their head.
  777.  
  778. "Hold nothing back."
  779.  
  780. "Would be bad if you gave it to someone unworthy, right?"
  781. (Arthur Rowan)
  782. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  783. Ser Artaghh would remain silent as his eye trailed upon one of Azrael's chosen, a sense of reverence for ancient soldier of his own god as he proceeded forth to address them. His jaw fell a bit slack as he heard the words spoken, seeing the shadow legion rise behind their heroic commander to engage once more in battle after ages of darkness.
  784.  
  785. It brought a tear to Ser Artaghh's eye.
  786.  
  787. Igniting his shroud of ethereal fire with earnest once more, the commander of Dawn's legion would grip the handle of his black greatsword tight with unyielding determination, bowing his head to the fallen hero in respect before preparing to engage in this test of worthiness that was now to come about. Death or glory.
  788. (Artaghh)
  789. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  790.  After having managed to decipher the riddle, with some ease it should be mentioned, they followed the spirit to another place.
  791.  
  792. There they came across a spot, open, a courtyard. Then that shadow began to tell a story. Amazing.
  793.  
  794. Aldrah remained attentive, fixed his gaze on the being as he spoke, listening to the sounds of war.. Screams of pain.. Explosions of magics and other things. Interesting.
  795.  
  796. After some time, shadows left the ground, around the being. The look of the necromancer, alternated from the man in the center to the shadows and back to man, several times. Until the shadows became warriors undeads.
  797.  
  798. He picked up his staff, already getting ready, after being said that the thing would test Arthur. Another fight, apparently.
  799.  
  800. Aldrah just looked quickly at Arthur and then at the creature, now being definitely ready for combat. Aldrah was covered by an icy aura and his undeads were ready for the next combat.
  801. (Aldrah Leverd)
  802. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  803.  An Oscuri?
  804.  
  805. Those eyes pierce back at the Undead's very soul. She had expected to find another of Azrael's loyal servant here, but even this was a surprise. The raw, occult power glaring off of him; those eyes...
  806.  
  807. She couldn't really contain herself. The other beast that was fought earlier was a challenge, for sure. But this? This would be legendary. A smile formed across her face, and in response to that flaring of his own massive energy she unleashed the potent Rieka that her own body had.
  808.  
  809. The Lodestone, now buried deep within her chest, lit up. Her lines flared, breaking past the cracked and burnt skin, and her eyes quite literally exploded in energy. Colada is raised, and pointed at the spirit, with her other arm crossing her body and holding her shoulder.
  810.  
  811. "Brave servant of Azrael! You honor me with this battle, and you will find our will just as strong as your own."
  812.  
  813.  
  814. (Freya Vishkar)
  815. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  816.  
  817. {NARRATION} "Aha..." the phantom laughed as it launched itself forth. The waves came over the sides of the rocks and flooded the battlefield. The phantom scated forth along the current with darkened energy magic lingering at his fingertips.
  818.  
  819. His forces charged forth, ushered into battle by the starlight that danced about their bodies, and through rifts of time and space the Azraelite champion aimed to down its challenger.
  820.  
  821. It would have to settle for Aldrah for the moment as it cast him into a pillar of stone with a concentrated meteor of cosmic magic. It was only after this second that a wave of telekinesis from Arthur sent it into a temporary retreat.
  822.  
  823. "I doubt you understand what this mask is capable of, Lich King. But let me enlighten you!"
  824.  
  825. Though the undead at phantom's command were simple soldiers, some of them shifted and changed in state, growing in size and abominable strength. From the champion's back, an enormous behemoth emerged, ready to fight at its side.
  826.  
  827. "I could command two, three Dawn's if I so desired. I could bend your kingdom to my will and force it to march across this continent as I did once before."
  828.  
  829. "Are you WORTHY OF SUCH POWER?" it roared, extending not only its arms, but the arms of its giant as well.
  830. [20:07] Mocking him, like this?
  831.  
  832. No, this was almost a reflection to the past... it wouldn't be the first time someone made an implication that they could steal control from Arthur, or in fact, had done so; but this didn't make the Lich King fret. Instead, it only forced him to become a lot more determined than he already was.
  833.  
  834. The clash of telekinesis and the most powerful of magics out there. Despite it all, the Lich was still very far from giving up, and he only spoke - a replica of his own words.
  835.  
  836. "I doubt you understand what I already can do, guardian, but let me enlighten you!"
  837.  
  838. The storms brewed; the undead in his command had their eyes light up in the beaming blue light - much greater currency of energy was sent towards them, empowering his undead even further.
  839.  
  840. "I faced against Divine Dragons, and I felled the Fallen Angel, an ancient master of this Art."
  841.  
  842. "You can claim the control. You can even march across the continent as you did before - as did I."
  843.  
  844. "But you can be damn sure that I will be the one on top in the end."
  845.  
  846. Another crackle; the reality was being shifted by the telekinesis, the ruptures due to Chaotic energy emerging from the body of the Lich. His own two blue fires began to glow, and he spoke out.
  847.  
  848. "Come."
  849.  
  850. "I'll show you just how worthy I am."
  851. (Arthur Rowan)
  852. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  853.  {NARRATION} It laughed again, expressing more emotion now that it had throughout the crypt. It was here where the phantom was most alive, HERE where it reveled in the memories of its prime. It laid waste to the hordes of undead that the necromancers through at it, and wish crashing, thundrous waves, sent them sliding across the stony ground to cough and sputter as energy magic tore through their bodies.
  854.  
  855. But again it was beaten back, again it was finding this fight to be a true challenge.
  856.  
  857. "The Arcane arts... they are rather unique, no? Capable of so much power, to bend reality as we see fit?" The eyes of the mask glinted, and the ground beneath the phantom cracked as it sent its own wave of telekinesis out.
  858.  
  859. "You felled a Fallen Angel? I -fought- beside THEM." More meteors fell from the sepia toned sky overhead, and the endless legion of undead shadows and monstrosities stayed as loyal as any Dawnite to its master.
  860.  
  861. "List your accolades all you want, Arthur Rowan, you might be the present, but -I- am your past."
  862.  
  863. The flowing occultism that surrounded the ghost snapped and concentrated. It extended outward into dark, black wings of energy that held the body aloft, and once more it darted in toward its enemies.
  864.  
  865.  Despite the might of the Telekinesis that shuddered the Lich King to his very core with a sudden blast, he found it in him to swiftly recover. It's by no means the first time he ever fought another Arcane user, and though he's caught by surprise, he doesn't seem to be afraid.
  866.  
  867. Was it just because he lost all sense of preservation? No, not quite... it's because he knew that he had no right to return home empty handed.
  868.  
  869. If that happened, all hope would be lost.
  870.  
  871. "Do NOT underestimate me."
  872.  
  873. A wave of Arcane in return, an opposition against that of guardian's. It showed much of fire in the unbeating, non-existent heart of the Lich, but he knew that the fight was far from over still. The surge of energy fuelled his body, and despite the beating he's taken, he would find himself invigorated once again.
  874.  
  875. "You cling to Angels like they're your solution - but you forget that they abandoned you all."
  876.  
  877. "I am the will of Man. I will bring the Progress that divines could not achieve."
  878.  
  879. A crackling of the Storms above, and the surge of energy was aimed; when he heard those final words, when the guardian claimed to be their past...
  880.  
  881. "And I am your future."
  882. (Arthur Rowan)
  883. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  884.  The crackling of bones, the exhaustion that settles in with the lack of energy...
  885.  
  886. No. This is not the time. This is not the moment to fall back and remain fallen; despite the brief fall of the Lich King at the mighty magics of the guardian, again and again he was re-animated from near-death by the powerful connection of phylactery that held onto him with essence of the Fallen Angel.
  887.  
  888. Again and again, he would rise, against all odds.
  889.  
  890. "You cannot kill me. I cannot die."
  891.  
  892. The invigorated body of the Lich beamed with excess of the energy. The remaining undead saw their master rise, and in the union of voices they chanted, roared and vocalized their fighting spirit. They may have been given a minor setback, but this would be nothing for all of them.
  893.  
  894. As long as they can continue fighting at all.
  895.  
  896. "So rise, Dawn."
  897.  
  898. "We are the Defenders ofTomorrow. No matter whom, no matter the odds, we will always fight and win."
  899.  
  900. This was it. All or nothing.
  901.  
  902. All For One. One For All.
  903. (Arthur Rowan)
  904. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  905.  "My future?"
  906.  
  907. The ruins cracked again as chaos met chaos. With a singular beat of those occult heavy wings, the phantom collided with Arthur and sent the Lich cascading back into his own forces.
  908.  
  909. "My future is this tomb, Rowan King."
  910.  
  911. Artaghh was felled first, energy magic shredding his armor to bits along his side where the ghoul shadows could pierce his body with their blades. Freya was next, as her rieka exploded against the blackened magic of the phantom.
  912.  
  913. "All of you have entered my crypt in search of treasure, but it is as I warned you before!"
  914.  
  915. Freya was sent backward as well as the phantom stretched his arm out and with an open palm let the forces of chaos down her.
  916.  
  917. "Only Life can pay for Death!" Arthur was swallowed by the lapping waves and the phantom found itself now aiming to drown Aldrah.
  918.  
  919. "Kneel, necromancer. Kneel before your -true Leader-. I may just let you live here with us if you do."
  920. [20:34] Ser Artaghh would engage in the clangor and heat of battle as the ancient master of chaos ushered forth its might at the adventuring party. The fight grew only more intense as the occultic heat from the Azraelite hero burn hotter and hotter, the knight slammed about by dark tides and concussive force alike. His organs slammed against the mithril plates that held them in repeatedly, and the bald swordsman wiped what was distinctly blood from his burn scarred lips. Gouged by the dark energy of the phantom, the bald swordsman found himself backpedaling to retain his life.
  921.  
  922. Stumbling through an alley between this realm and that of the spirits, Artaghh would collapse to his knee with a hacking cough as he tumbled to the ground upon shimmering back into sight. He was heavily taxed, his body ached from the assailment of chaos. And yet, as the knight commander planted his black blade into the stone to force himself back up, the resounding words of his king, standing tall with renewed determination as he bowed his head once more to the ghostly hero.
  923.  
  924. They had a fight to finish.
  925. (Artaghh)
  926. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  927. To the brink of her ability, she was pushed. She could not tire, or waiver. No pain or fatigue could reach her, yet her Rieka was brimming at her limit. Pushed back by a massive wave of arcane energy, she found herself on a knee, gathering up as much Rieka that her broken body could still hold.
  928.  
  929. "I will not let it end this way!"
  930.  
  931. She rose, her body still aflame in the fires of Azrael's gift. Yet, in those fires, shapes could be seen. Flickers of two people, weapons at the ready, on both of her flanks.
  932.  
  933. On the right, another knight in similar black and green armor wielding a shining sword.
  934.  
  935. The left, a witch. head held high with a pink hat atop her head.
  936.  
  937. Both of these spirits condensed, collapsing into Freya as Rieka exploded out from her once more. Eyes on fire, soul on fire.
  938.  
  939. "I shall endure a thousand more deaths before I fall! For my comrades, for the one's who've gone before and cannot return!"
  940.  
  941. Her right hand, the one not gripping the sword, drowned itself in Rieka. The energy condensing and shaping itself until both hands carried a sword; one of Arcanium, and one of Reika.
  942.  
  943. "And while I still stand, no one else will die!"
  944.  
  945. A final charge. But, would it be enough?
  946. (Freya Vishkar)
  947. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  948.  "Come now then, -My Future-." the Phantom taunted. "Come and meet your demise. Come and march forever in my time. We will all wait for someone worthy of this mask."
  949.  
  950. The battle raged on, skeletons meeting their shadows and amalgamations of nightmares. Artaghh was stabbed through the upper thigh by a shadowy spear, but luckily it missed his bone, and though it would prove extremely painful, it would heal in time.
  951.  
  952. Freya and Arthur were not quite as lucky. Both undead were held aloft in the air by a gripping, telekinetic force, and try as they might to counter it, they were kept their until the umbretarnic waters could swallow them again. There beneath the violet waves at teh Phantom's command, they were forced to take a magnified ray of starlight that refraced through the aquatic dome.
  953.  
  954. It seared their cursed souls, and left ethereal wounds that only they could feel, remnants of mortality that caused their innermost beings to ache.
  955.  
  956. The Phantom finally moved forth, ready to kill them all, beginning with Aldrah. "I gave you a chance to serve." it said, its eyes glowing bright and wings burning black. "But you kept fighting. You will have an especially wretched position in my battalion."
  957.  
  958. Occultic energy magic seized his body and began to sear into his mana circuits, and very soon Aldrah's left arm had not begun to rot, but turn black. The circuits were damaged as more occultism concentrated into his body and worked its way toward his heart--
  959.  
  960. only to be halted by Arthur. The Lich King took the Phantom by surprise, and while he was trying to kill the other necromancer, the masked shadow was taken down into his own watery flood.
  961.  
  962. It all began to ebb away after that, the shadows and the high tide as well, and all that remained amidst them were traces of arcanium treasures that the shadow soldiers had once wielded, along with the mask itself to be claimed.
  963.  
  964. The area faded into nothing, the sky into a dark, cavern ceiling, and the group was once more in the crypt, alone and without light.
  965.  ** Tattles has inflicted an injury upon Artaghh. ("Pierced Thigh", "Artaghh was outnumbered by the Azraelite Phantom's forces, and though he fought bravely, they downed him with a crippling spear through the leg. While it ended the fight for him there, the wound is not permanent, though incredibly painful. It will heal in time, and will likely leave a nasty scar.", "Temporary", "Duration: Medium (4 days)") **
  966.  No matter how much they fought back, the formidable force was too much to easily resist. The group was scattered, beaten and almost broken, and the Lich King was caught in the grip along with the other undead amidst them; he fought valiantly, but even that wasn't enough in the greater picture of things. The force began to squeeze around him, forcing him to undertake the malignant power sent by the shadow.
  967.  
  968. Draining him of his very lifeforce that he had stolen from many others.
  969.  
  970. It felt like the encroaching end. Seeing Artaghh become impaired by the shadowy spears and Aldrah caught by the shadow, the eyes of the Lich King began to slowly fade, losing the energy of the body that sustained him. With each passing moment, it became all too difficult to almost do anything, but...
  971.  
  972. "No."
  973. "You cannot win."
  974. "You cannot take my future."
  975.  
  976. A sudden bolt of lightning crashed upon the shadowy figure. As it quickly turned out, this was no simple lightning, but the center of the Storm that found its way over his head; it smite the creature with the full might of the Lich, finding his way in proving him just how powerful he could be. The thunder roared, up until there was nothing else to smite at this point. And...
  977.  
  978. When the dust began to settle? A lone Lich was walking towards the mask, lowering his gloved hand towards it.
  979.  
  980. "Finally..."
  981.  
  982. "My hope... my future..."
  983.  
  984. "It's mine."
  985.  
  986. Placing it over his face, he could feel the surge of energy course through him, the energy that was meant to be his salvation. The eyes of the Lich beamed with fire, the two blue sparks in his eyes coming to a full blossom.
  987.  
  988. Now, forged in this, he would become something else.
  989.  
  990. Something glorious upon Agartha.
  991. (Arthur Rowan)
  992. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  993.  
  994.  Ser Artaghh would engage the phantom with ferocity and zeal, putting his life in Azrael's hands as he charged forth with reckless abandon to face down the ancient hero of his god with all his might. They'd all come here for a reason after all, to prove themselves worthy of their lord's blessing. The commander of Dawn's legion had long since banished his doubts.
  995.  
  996. Focused upon the dire melee with the shadowy swordsmen, fallen members of an Azraelite legion long past, Artaghh's black blade would clank with ethereal echoes against theirs as he savored the tide of glorious melee combat. Swift parries and vicious ripostes were met with a ghostly dissipation of shadows as the knight crashed against the tides of dark soldiers. A shadowy spear lunged forth through Artaghh's distracted guard, and the steady, wet drip of blood down the knight's thigh enraged him with pain.
  997.  
  998. Ensuring to slay the shade that wounded him before turning his focus to the ancient hero, Artaghh would watch only in dismay as he saw Aldrah's life at risk, the champion of Azrael seeking to reap one of their own in the midst of this ceremonial clash. Yet, as mithril paladin attempted to rush for to aid him, the aching pain of the pierced tendon in his thigh brought the knight to his knee.
  999.  
  1000. Yet, it was not to be another tragedy, for Arthur Rowan's lightning was absolute. The storm magi, the lich king of Dawn, smited the champion and saved Aldrah's life, seizing the relic of their god in a glorious display of kingship and valor. Heaving a sigh of pained relief as Artaghh forced himself to a standing position with his blade, the commander would limp idly forth to the masked monarch with a respectful bow of his head.
  1001.  
  1002. "I like this, much be'er than puzzles. A fine adventure King Rowan."
  1003.  
  1004. (Artaghh)
  1005. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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