Chronicles A Remnant of the Past

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Amankh Kaltar, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. Amankh Kaltar

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    Amankh Kaltar Herald of the Sands

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    Rags and a thick tattered cloak shook in the wind of the Aberresai Savanah, the wearer traversing the near endless swaths of yellow tinted grass. A staff tapped the ground along with the figure's walk, the motion methodical and practiced and the design gilded and masterfully made, as they stopped in their walk to survey the land. A hood covered their head, the shadow obscuring the vision of a mummified skull, dried and lifeless, sand dripping from eye sockets in the occasional drip of dust.

    It was a familiar landscape, as he often saw it due it being on the outskirts of the Amol-Kalit and the massive empire that stretched across it many years past. Of course, new structures now occupy the land, as with the deserts that once occupied massive castles and pharaoh's now holding mere villages belonging to greedy and foolish bandits. He would call them kings and queens, but their land was stolen, not earned. Unknowledgable about the ruins they claim to rule over, not even of the sands they walk on. Times have changed, that was certain.

    In the Aberresai Savanah, a long road now stretched across for what must be miles, the road cobbled and certain parts unkempt while others seemed pristine. Signs occasionally popped up along the road, directing to a place they call "Elbion." A city of mages and magic, they seem to call it. Perhaps it'd be beneficial to head there? After all, assuming times have not changed drastically, the mages must be scholars of some sort. They may know of what happened to the empire of the sands, what caused such an unlikely fall.

    A quick prayer played under his breath: "Abtatu, may you bless the sands and guide me to the knowledge I seek. I wish for the past I do not know. May your presence persist beyond my years, beyond my kin, and beyond my understanding." As the prayer was muttered, the undead began to walk along the path to the city of mages and scholars. If he cannot learn of his past, then perhaps he can learn his present. Perhaps his undeath as well, and hopefully, of others like him.
     
  2. Telemachus

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    Further down the road, a heavy carriage stood - loaded down with various scholarly equipment and supplies. The horses tied to it were preoccupied with feed bags. By the wagon, a Sidereal Elf lingered at the edge of the road, looking out a short distance into the undergrowth of the savana. Or what remained of it, anyway.

    The ground had been blackened and burned away, flattened, in some sort of preparation.

    Under Telemachus' watch, an aggrieved-looking imp carved strange symbols into the earth. The creature was about the size of a falcon, a red-skinned humanoid with leathery wings and teeth like daggers. Beady, yellow eyes bore into the ground as it upturned earth with its hands. It's tail swished about occasionally, like a prowling cat, as it went about its work. Despite its primal movements, the symbols it carved were precise.

    The movement of Amankh Kaltar along the road caught Telemachus' eye, and he half-turned to look. One look at the shambling corpse and the Elf's mouth half-opened. For that one, brief shining moment, Telemachus was completely aghast. It didn't last long. He shut his mouth again and narrowed his eyes, watching the reanimated pharaoh as it trudged ever-closer.

    This ought to be good.
     
  3. Amankh Kaltar

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    The undead elf walked along the road, the staff tapping across the cobblestone in a slow rhythm. In the distance, he could see a carriage of sorts, carrying all sorts of scholarly items. It intrigued Amankh deeply, his pace slowing as he came closer and his head slowly moving to better view. Perhaps he won't even have to journey to Elbion to learn more about what has happened to both him and his people! Perhaps this elf has some knowledge about it, in some way or another.

    Upon closer inspection, a strange creature worked on a variety of symbols on the ground. It was clearly not doing something out of fun or to occupy the time, no. The preciseness of the symbols suggested otherwise. He wondered briefly what type of magic these symbols and that creature was for, and if it was one he was familiar with. He tried to search his memories, but was quick to realize that would be a fool's errand. His memories were already vague enough, to try and find a specific spell he didn't regularly use was a useless task.

    Amankh was brought out of his thoughts by the now-watching Elf, who seemed to have a brief moment of shock as he gazed upon him. On instinct, Amankh readjusted his hood to ensure it covered his evidently dead face more. From the few times he had been spotted and people realized he was a member of the living dead, the response usually consisted of immediate outrage and pitchforks. If the Elf did indeed realize his nature as an undead, then this was at least a calmer encounter than the ones that came before. If not, then he should still keep his distance. However, the magic and any potential knowledge he may hold is too intriguing and enticing to simply ignore.

    Stopping some feet away from the carriage, a raspy voice emanated from the ragged figure, saying, "Hello, traveller. Are you of Elbion? I'm looking to travel there, as I've heard there is a great deal of knowledge one could learn by visiting the College there. " As he spoke, a jaw of dried skin along with shining gilding escaped from the shadow caused by Amankh's hood. "I'd imagine you are at the very least knowledgeable on it," the rags shifted as a covered arm gestured over at the imp going along it's work carving symbols and the scorched land, "if you do not live there." The undead spoke a surprisingly regal and formal version of Common, although it was clear he wasn't as skilled as a regular nomadic or travelling Sand Elf would be.
     
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  4. Telemachus

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    Telemachus had half-expected Amankh Kaltar to attack him outright, as undead were wont to do, but instead this one came forward and spoke. Rather eloquently, too, if somewhat... Archaic. Strange. Suspicion did not yet sinkaway from Telemachus' features and the Sidereal Elf held the undead's gaze with still-narrowed eyes.

    It was hiding its appearance, but Telemachus could detect the magicks reanimating it. Something was off. This thing had no master. That made it a rarity as much as a danger.

    "I am," Telemachus answered, tone flat as the ground they walked on. "Though I do not imagine one such as you would be welcome there."

    A polite way of acknowledging Amankh's condition, if there was one.

    Necromancy had been banned by the College, and that seemed to include anything spawned from it. And even if it didn't, like most places, it would give this thing a wide berth, if not attempt to destroy it outright. For safety reasons, of course. Telemachus could understand. But if it were up to him, they would be better off studying it first.

    "What business do you have in Elbion, stranger?"
     
  5. Amankh Kaltar

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    #5 Amankh Kaltar, Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
    If Amankh had an eyebrow to raise, he would've raised it at the elf's comment. That confirmed his knowledge, although thankfully the elf was being a bit more civilized about it, unlike the various others who be chased the undead off with torches and pitchforks. Amankh examined the elf carefully, not closing the distance. He was clearly an elf, but not one of the sand. Whether he knew anything of the empire of sand elves was a coin toss.

    "Ah."
    The word came out with a bit of an exasperated sigh, a faint plume of sand escaping his mouth as he did so. A hint of disappointment, anger, and acknowledgement were all present in the word, mixed together. "Disappointing, one would've hoped a city of scholars and mages would be a bit more open to those faced with Unliving then peasants, but alas." The sand drifted down to the road, before somehow being pulled back into his mouth with a deep breath and a quick motion of the hand, settling back down. The feeling would likely be uncomfortable to nigh lethal if it were a mortal doing it, but Amankh had grown used to the sensation as time went on in his unlife.

    "Well, my business was to visit it in search for some storage of historical texts, musings, theories, perhaps even some magical texts and books, you understand. Being a city of mages and scholars, I assumed they would have at least one large repository of knowledge. However, if they are just as the others I've met, it appears to be a hopeless task." The words were spoken with a hint of superiority present in his voice, which was typical for some elves. How scholars could be afraid of an undead trying to read, he would never comprehend. A necromancer, he could at least begin to understand, as a user of necromancer is believed to be willfully evil by a large population now. However, an undead shouldn't follow the same line of thought, as they clearly didn't ask to be raised. It all seemed rather confusing, but it seems most things nowadays and in the past are like that.

    "What magic is your creature doing, if I may ask? I assume it's a familiar of some sort, or perhaps a conjuration?" Many of the magical disciplines present today are different from when he was alive, and those he was familiar with have been changed by practicioners and mages.
     
  6. Telemachus

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    "As it presently stands, they are scarcely welcoming of non-humans either," Telemachus replied. A cold comfort to one such as Amankh, to be sure. People could not control the species they were born into. In Telemachus' experience, however, those undead that retained their agency often underwent the transformation willingly. Then went mad from social isolation.

    He wondered, briefly, how far along this one might have been. Not enough to begin attacking people outrgith, but here it was walking around in the open. Something must have been amiss.

    Telemachus had been about to ask another question, but Amankh Kaltar beat him to it. The Sidereal Elf turned and looked back to the Imp, Barkas, as it labored. Like he was noticing it for the first time.

    An instructor at heart, Telemachus could not help but offer an explanation. "He is preparing a summoning circle. The glyphs must be outlined precisely to attract the correct attention, once the ritual begins."

    Errors in drawing a summoning circle were the bane of many conjurers. One switched glyph could be the difference between calling a helpful attendant or an unbound Fleshcurse Monstrosity. Telemachus blinked, as if recalling who (or what) he was speaking to, and looked back at Amankh.

    "What was it that you sought from Elbion's library?"
     
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  7. Amankh Kaltar

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    "Well, at least they are not as discriminatory as I had originally thought." The sentence had a very apparent sense of sarcasm to it, but it was clear that while it was disappointing discovery, it was somewhat comforting to know that undead were not the sole race that is discriminated against in the city. A part Amankh's mind began to think on other places that could possibly house an undead in their borders, but none came to mind, due to both a lack of knowledge and the clear fear many hold against them.

    As Telemachus went into the logistics of what the conjured creature, an imp it appears, was doing, Amankh looked over the sigils and glyphs, paying a close mind to the words the Sidereal Elf said. "I see. I've read and seen similar, but it appears the methods have been... Modified. As to be expected, considering the differences present, however."

    Whether that modification is beneficial or simply another instance forgetting the better innovations of one's predecessors must be seen, Amankh mused. "Have you practiced this magic well, or are you a student practicing what they've learned?" The undead seemed surprisingly lively, at least when the topic shifted to magic. Undying bounds of curiosity about the magical world have not laid to rest after a thousand or two years below in a ghastly crypt. Rather, they seem to have been reinvigorated by the new swaths of knowledge laid before him in this new world. It was a way to maintain some semblance of sanity, now.

    The undead shifting his focus to the elf once again as they asked their question. "Learn of the world I left behind, as well as the one in front of me. That is what I sought. Whether that knowledge was even present in the library, regardless of whether or not I'm accepted, is debatable though. The past is unknown even to me, who had lived it for years upon end." A pang of sorrow hit the undead elf as the sentence finished. To live without knowledge of one's past seemed almost impossible to him; how could he live through the present when he did not know what came before it? Did all undead have this dilemma, he questioned in his mind, between wanting to know the future but forgetting the past?
     
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  8. Telemachus

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    "I am the foremost expert on the art in Elbion," Telemachus said, pursing his lips. Something about him might have indicated he had needed to explain this before. "Where did you learn to read Antikatherean?"

    While not strictly required, all of Telemachus' summoning circles utilized Antikatherean glyphs and symbols. It was something of an esoteric language, not well-studied or documented by species outside of the Sidereal Elves. He found that they lent a certain gravity and power that other runic languages could not.

    Telemachus titled his head to the side, regarding the undead as one might regard any minor curiosity. This was quite strange. Fortuitous that they should happen to cross paths. He could not help but ply it for knowledge. "And which world did you leave behind, precisely?"
     
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  9. Amankh Kaltar

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    "Then, I am pleased to meet one," Amankh said, a hint of genuine respect mixed in with curiosity in his voice. "Is that what is called? Antikatherean? It's familiar, but clearly it has changed in some ways since I've last seen it. I recall some elves traveling through who would occasionally use it to write, though I never learned the language." Antikatherean, as it was apparently called, seemed almost alien to the undead, with its structure startlingly different to the language of the Sand Elves. It seemed almost ornamental, more like it belonged on the gilding on a palace wall than on the floor, being carved out by an imp.

    The undead, hood still draped over the dried skin and bone of his skull, looked similarly curious at Telemachus. The elf clearly was an elf, but their were also clear differences between the two. Unlike Amankh's eyes, when they were still alive and non-magically animated, the elf's eyes were pure white, looking like milky pools, not a pupil to be seen. They clearly didn't originate in the desert, but beyond the borders of the sands that once were ruled over by the empire, Amankh's knowledge dwindled down to mere partially remembererd folk tales and stories.

    A moment of hesitation struck Amankh as he pondered the question, a brief moment of wondering whether or not he should speak of the world left behind. To leave it in his memories, so that the elf would not seek to defile whatever ruins may remain of the once great civilization. However, this caution died down quickly with the resurgence of the idea that the elf might know of the specifics of its fall. So, he went on. "I hail from an empire that stretched across the sands of what you call the Amol-Kalit. No matter where you looked, spires pierced the skies and stairs led up to the sun and stars. Towers lined the walls, like the jaw of a serpent. Gilded palaces, golden windows, and buildings as grand as the moon and sun." A cloaked arm rose, gesturing towards a vague direction, maneuvering to paint an image. "And in the middle, past the bustling people, past the river that flowed through marble streets, past the countless cities under their control, was the Pharoah, the grace of Abtatu!"

    Amankh seemed, to, as he spoke and relayed the slightly romanticized image of the empire, take on a more patriotic and proud tone, raising his voice to a grandious level. Once he finished relaying, he paused for a moment, before continuing. "That was... many, many suns ago, and the empire that once ruled over the sands is now nothing more than ruins beneath it."
     
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  10. Telemachus

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    The more Amankh Kaltar spoke, the higher Telemachus' eyebrow raised... Until it would go no more. Could it truly be possible that this undead truly dated back to the ancient empire of the Sand Elves? There were not many who were aware of or could recall the millennia-old interactions between the Sand and Sidereal Elves.

    "Fascinating."

    Telemachus had assumed they were only legendary. Apocryphal. Extant Sand Elves were rarely talkative enough to confirm or deny such things, and the Sidereal Elves did not engage in as much travel as they once did. Here was someone who could potentially know something. Then again, if Telemachus believed every word from every passing stranger's mouth, he would not have gotten this far in life.

    "It seems, then, you expired prior to your empire's fall," Telemachus said. "If the circumstances of its decline and dissolution are unknown to you, then the knowledge is truly lost forever. All the College archaeologists have are their speculations, and the ten thousand conflicting histories of Amol-Kalit's minor tribes."

    He was not one to normally dissuade people from seeking out Elbion. It was a useful place... But so far as he knew, the College's research on the nature of the lost age of Amol-Kalit was no better, or reliable, than that conducted in Amol-Kalit.
     
  11. Amankh Kaltar

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    "Yes, many who ventured inside the walls often remarked that same sentiment." It is clear that losing parts of his memory has not yet taken away his pride for his now-dead empire. In fact, the evident lack of people who are aware of the empire's existence seems to have revitalized and fueled Amankh's pride in it, spreading its deeds more actively.

    As Telemachus spoke, a steady stream of sand began to spill from Amankh's mouth in plumes, as if it were a sigh. "Not even an entire city of scholars? None can recall the fate of an empire that once stretched across the entire desert, which is now dominated by thousands of tribes who are ignorant of their previous rulers?" As Amankh spoke, the sand began to whirl around, whipping every so often in anger, falling to the ground shortly after as he calms, only to repeat the cycle. A long moment of silence came from the mummified corpse, a moment of heavy consideration. Where should he go now? If his search is doomed from the beginning, then why search at all? The sand began to whip around the dead elf walking, moving like the waves of an angry ocean. Some particles flew off as the sand whipped about, while others remained in the whirlpool of the desert. Telemachus could likely feel the occasional brush with the sand, but the purpose was less of an attack, and more of an effect of anger.

    Slowly, a decaying voice spoke out from the corpse, the sand momentarily pausing in the air. "Where... Where are there others? Sand elves, even the undead would do. All of the sand elves cannot possibly have forgotten their lineage, and some of the undead must have lived long enough to know of some tale or myth." The sand elf raised his head to look at the elf, the sand finally settling on the ground. Only the occasionally rise came from the sand that now littered parts of the road. Whether it was from the wind or some remaining anger was difficult to tell.
     
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  12. Telemachus

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    #12 Telemachus, Dec 26, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
    His expression did not change, though Telemachus felt the faintest trace of alarm grip his heart as the sand surrounding Amankh Kaltar worked itself into a frenzy. "It is something of a historical blind spot, I agree," Telemachus replied cooly, brushing some collected sand from the collar of his robe.

    Coarse, rough, sand - now it had gotten everywhere. He'd be wringing it out of these robes for weeks.

    "The Sand Elves rarely leave the desert. They have taken to a nomadic lifestyle and are not forthcoming with their history. Perhaps they will be more likely to talk to one such as you..." Telemachus trailed off.

    There seemed an equal likelihood those same Sand Elves would see him as a physical manifestation of a past they desperately wished obfuscated and try to destroy him. Telemachus did not know the exact odds, as he had never dealt with Sand Elves extensively. He vocalized none of this, for fear of further souring the mummy's mood.

    He continued, "It is said the undead have been sighted in formidable numbers around the Allir Reach, though I fear they may not make for good conversation."

    Not all undead had the gift of keeping their mind upon rising. Still, they possessed the rudimentary ability to differentiate undead and living, becoming passive towards the former and hostile towards the latter. While they would certainly tolerate Amankh Kaltar being in proximity, they wouldn't do much else.

    "Might I inquire your name, traveler?"
     
  13. Amankh Kaltar

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    After a moment, the sand suddenly shot itself back into Amankh, finding refuge in the spaces between bones. Wisps of sand still spiraled out of Amankh every so often, yet the majority of the expelled sand returned to rest within Amankh's very body. Once the sand was dealt with, Amankh rested intent empty eye sockets on the elf. "A depressing outcome for a race that once built an empire to rival any that now plague the sands. Perhaps they will prove more forthcoming to one of their own, even if I bear merely the same skeleton now." Attempting to find a nomadic tribe is sure to be a difficult task, especially in the ever shifting sands of the desert and the many foolish tribes that block off parts of it, akin to a guppy blocking off a section of the ocean.

    "The Allir Reach?" Amankh paused for a moment, before reaching a skeletal hand into the heavy and thick rags that covered his form. Out came a weathered map, sand dusting its surface. The sand blew off into the air, circling around for a moment before falling to the path. Empty eye sockets searched the map, finally resting on the label 'Allir Reach.' "I see. It is at least the only people guaranteed to not attempt to kill me upon sight, if not particularly conversational. They may provide utility, or at least those with some semblance of intelligence." Amankh folded the map storing it back in the rags and bones of his form,returning his gaze to the elf.

    At the request, Amankh tapped his staff against the path, sparking up a small plume of sand to rise up around the mummy as he spoke grandiously. "I am Amankh Kaltar, servant to the chosen of Abtatu, and herald of the sands of the Amol-Kalit! As for you, fellow mage?"
     
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  14. Telemachus

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    A depressing and predictable outcome. Such was the fate of all empires, no matter who struggled to build them. The world of Arethil had a habit of rejecting hierarchies that outstayed their welcome. Still, life went on, and the wheel kept turning. Telemachus hoped to be on top of that wheel one day.

    Telemachus watched quizzically as the undead produced a map and examined it. He could not help but fear that whoever owned that map previously may not have parted with it willingly.

    "A pleasure," he replied, though the even tone of his voice made it unclear as to whether he meant it. The corner of his mouth had twitched again at the mention of Abtatu. "I am Telemachus, First among Conjurers."

    It was a title begrudgingly bestowed on him by his peers along the Gulf of Ryt. Now that he had seen Elbion and knew there to be nary a similarly skilled master of Conjuration in the city, he had grown more comfortable in using it. Technically Telemachus was merely a First Order mage as far as the college was concerned - but it was more a reflection of their mindless superstition than his abilities.

    Or so he told himself.

    "I would urge caution in traveling to the Reach. That region also crawls with those who call themselves Templars; militant orders charged with the eradication of ones such as you."

    Yes, speaking of wretched superstition, it would only be fair to warn Amankh Kaltar of the fractious Templar Order. Telemachus had encountered them in the past and their dealings had been far from pleasant... And he had been alive. Imagine what they might do to one already dead.
     
  15. Amankh Kaltar

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    A slow, formal nod came from the undead at the introduction. Considering the unintelligent and much less formal mannerisms of most undead, this was an unorthodox movement. "Greetings Telemachus, First among Conjurers." A slight tilt came shortly after as Amankh came to notice the twitch that came from the elf after he had mentioned Abtatu. Odd.

    The origin of the title Herald of the Sands was given to him by his Pharoah, as far as Amankh could remember. Clear images were conjured up the title, images of outstretched hands shifting great storms of sand around towers that pierced the sky so that they would not fall. Sometimes he would see a memory of him with a dagger in his hand, sand dripping from its blade, but the memory would always fade before he could understand it. Whether he could still do that now was debatable, as he had little need to do so. The title was comparable to the court wizards of now, although obviously with more of a specification leaning towards sand. Any other jobs that the position included were forgotten, and likely lost to the sands of time, so to speak.

    "The Templars," said the mummy, the word hanging in the air coldly. "It seems superstition and violence sticks together as much now as it did thousands of years ago. Disappointing, but so be it." For a moment, the undead's grip on his staff tightened in thought, as Amankh weighed the importance of meeting with the Sand Elves versus his own kind.

    Both seemed reluctant to speak to him, if they had anything of importance to say at all. If the undead were to give some sign of sentience and intelligence above repeating 'brains' over and over again like an obsessed animal, then he may wish to venture to the Reach. A guaranteed alliance with a race that is undoubtedly large considering the method of their creation may prove useful in future endeavors. The Templars may prove to be troublesome, however. Meanwhile, the Sand Elves may prove valuable in terms of their potential knowledge on his people. Perhaps they have passed down stories of the empire, from which he may be able to discern the cause of its demise. Their nomadic nature may make it difficult to find them, and isn't a guarantee that they will know anything, much less treat him any differently than the Templars would.

    "This information has been beyond helpful, First among Conjurers." The sentence cut through the silence, a near and rare genuine sign of respect coming from the walking dead. "Are there any other pieces of information I should know about this new world?"
     
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