Private Tales Read between the lines

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
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The bath was a dangerous seduction to the road to sleep but she somehow managed to stave it off. Perhaps it was just the blissful feeling of having the dirt and dried blood cleaned off properly that kept her going, or that now odd need she had in her gut to return to the children as quickly as possible. This was the first time she'd been without them in nine months and she felt oddly... alone. The pains of pregnancy kept her from rushing anything and for once she listened to her body as the midwife had said and took her time returning to the bedroom.

When she saw Talus talking about the dwarves and trying to explain the underground mansion that was their second home, however, she didn't immediately go in. Instead she leant against the doorframe and watched. It was a moment she wished she could take a snapshot of right then and there.

"I don't think I've ever been this happy," she said finally but didn't make a move to enter still, content to continue watching dreamily.
 
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Talus

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The kids fell asleep faster than he would have thought.

A part of him had always assumed that the books were right, that they would be a torture to put to bed and even worse to keep there. Yet as he spoke it seemed that his two children fell fast asleep. It was a miracle, if the stories were to be believed.

He stood there, smiling, until Zana's voice broke the quiet. "Me too."

Talus said softly, turning back to regard her.

"Now we just have to keep it up." For the next eighteen years or so, until their children were ready to go out into the world. It was a daunting task, but one that he was more than happy to take on. Eagerly even.

His hand wrapped around one of the cradles, smiling slightly as he looked down at his daughter.
 
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Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
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Zana wandered over to the bed and clambered under the heavy covers with an audible sigh of relief.

"Keep what up?" she asked sleepily as she buried deep down and rested her head on the pillows. Never before had a bed felt so good. Not even after the missions that had sent her away for days. Not even after she had had her first night without a vision. This was exhaustion. It was also why Zana never got to hear what Talus meant by keeping it up. Between one breath and the next his wife was fast asleep with a faint smile on her lips. She looked utterly at peace.

Grey padded into the bedroom and snuffled round the cots curiously before taking a protective position up between the cradles and the door, his tail just covering his nose as he watched the door.
 
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Talus

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"Everything." He smiled.

It was a lot of pressure, but, far less than he was willing to bear for them. The entire world could have sat upon their shoulders and he would have been more than happy to carry it all. That much was not even a question for Talus.

He stared at them. "We should get some rest to-"

Talus turned his head as he spoke, noticing that his wife had fallen into a deep slumber. A small smile touched his face for a brief moment. His hand came up and tugged the blanket a bit more over Zana's slumbering form.

The day had been a long one, and he would not have blamed her if she ended up sleeping for a week. It was a funny thing, all of this. The world seems to have changed in the snap of a finger, and Talus couldn't help but wonder how it would change even more in the coming weeks.

He smiled, and then closed his eyes to get some rest of his own.
 
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Talus

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It was not often that parents of new children were given the opportunity to step away from the bubble created around them. Less so even when those parents were famed Dreadlords and Revolutionaries that most in their home came close to despising.

Yet, at times, opportunities presented themselves.

This one, Zana and Talus had both practically snapped at.

Both of them had gone through the rigors of early parenthood and for the last few months had been driven all but mad. It was a wonder that neither of them had killed one another, much less the villagers who every so often decided it was a good idea to ask them for a favor.

Thus when now Major Thawne had come to their door with a story, a favor, and reports of a city all but disappeared the two former Dreadlords had practically jumped at the chance to get out back into the world. At least for a little while.

There had been a bit of negotiation first of course.

Some talk with Thawne, a message sent north, and three days wait until a veritable army of dwarves appeared at the secluded Morrin Manor. Fifteen dwarves had been left behind, all of them heavily armed, all of them the most adoring nannies and godparents that had ever existed.

Such an army had been the only way to pry both Zana and Talus free from their children. Once the guard was set, the two former Dreadlords set out from their home, traveling north to the Portal stone and stepping through to the far north. Just below the Blightlands.

"Kress I forgot how much I hated those things." Talus said with a shivering cough, his fingers raking through his hair with a shake of his head.
 
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Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
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Zana was staring back at the portal stone with a look that had quickly descended into tears three times already on their way here. The new mother might have leapt at the chance to take up her sword once more, to find who she had been before children, but every step away from the twins was an agonising challenge she hadn't foreseen being an issue. Talus' words brought her attention back from the list of horrific scenarios only a new mother could conjure in her mind and she managed a weak, shaky smile.

"I told you to take the Newt Weed," the simple herb was a small secret she had discovered in her initiate years to counter the nausea of portal travel. The only downsides were the foul taste. With obvious effort she turned her back entirely on the portal stone and concerns of their children and patted Zandors neck. The stallion seemed the most excited of the three to be out again. She imagined Grey would have been too but the large wolf had refused to budge from the twins' sides.

Zana took a deep breathe and nudged her horse on into a spirited jog.

"Do you remember any Dreadlords with powers over ice and snow?" from Thawne's reports the city had been completely destroyed by a severe storm. It was only a lone survivor this time - a careless mistake - that had alerted the Anirians to the fact this found be one of theirs and not just freak weather conditions.
 

Talus

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Talus followed alongside Zana quickly, falling into step besides the great war horse as they began to move down into the valley.

Her question flickered through his mind, and an immediate answer sprang to the forefront. A darkness flickered over his features for a brief moment, lips thinning. Head shook and he bit his tongue until he finally managed an answer. "Hal."

Zana knew why the answer was so quick, terse.

The history that Talus had with his lost friend.

"But he wouldn't do something like this." He was sure of that. The last time he had seen his friend things had been...odd, but Hal hadn't been looking to do things like this. He had wanted to disappear, go away for good. Though not entirely from his voice. "Other than that?"

Talus shook his head. "No one else, but a few who could..."

He trailed off. "No use in throwing out wild ideas. I think we'll have to get close first. See whats exactly happened."

All Thawne had told them were wild rumors and stories, things that had gotten back to him back in Vel Anir. Near half a world away.
 
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Zana

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Hal.

Zana's eyes softened and she brushed her fingers against her husbands cheek wordlessly before he continued with his other suggestions. She couldn't help but agree; there was little they could do until they got there. So, with only a glance to make sure he was ready, Zana clicked her tongue and spurred the horse into a faster gallop: the quicker they were done the sooner they could be home.

Despite their quick pace it was still deep into the night before the city came into view nestled in the small valley which was now covered in thick ice and frost despite the season. It looked like the whole city was made of ice. Zandor stomped and when he snorted small crystals formed where his breath touched the air. Even this far away the cold penetrated deep into the skin.

"Well, it's certainly not normal," she grimaced.
 
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Talus

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A soft breath flowed from Talus' lips, ice flickering through the air as he peered down into the city.

Though he still used his magic almost daily, running from room to room to ensure the twins had not yet brought down the mountain upon them. It had been a long time since he'd run at this distance, and he couldn't help but feel somewhat haggard. "It's not."

He agreed with a quick nod.

They were too far south for something like this to have happened. Even a blizzard would have left some of the buildings uncovered, the natural shift and movement of snow. This seemed more alien, as though something had deliberately frozen the city itself.

"Could be a dozen things." Talus said quietly. "Let's keep going."

The former Dreadlord said as they began their descent into the valley.

It was not long before they saw the first flickers of death. The loss of life that had happened within this city. They rose from the ground, spreading out like strange cocoons. Within then, encapsulated in solid ice were people. Frozen in time and stuck in place.
 
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Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
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Zana's first thought was that this was not ice magic.

It was easy to see how an onlooker had thought it so. The road beneath Zandors hooves had become so slick she had dismounted to walk her mount by the reins instead, and snow banked on either side of the road. Or rather, what looked like snow. It was the frigid temperature that was the key to the whole illusion and a clever key at that. But when Zana paused to run her fingers over one of the few broken shells that seemed to be missing its captive and grimaced as she pulled back digits slick with icy slime.

"It's like an egg membrane," she commented warily and glanced around, hunting the shadows for something not human large enough to lay an egg that size. Maybe the people frozen here were for whatever hatched to eat.
 
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Talus

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"That's...concerning." Talus said slowly, fingers gently hovering over the hilt of his sword.

It had been some time since he'd drawn his sword in combat, longer still since he had cause to use it. A frown flickered over his features, watching the strange substance that Zana had picked up.

"It must be..." He trailed off, thinking. "Something big."

The observation seemed obvious, comically so, but it was important to point out. An entire city had been laid to waist, these...eggs littered the ground, and the cold reigned in the air. This was odd, off, something more than a simple ice mage.

"Thawne said it was a Dreadlord but...I don't know anyone who did something like this." Talus slowly drew his sword, moving towards the front gate of the city.

Beyond he could feel the temperature dropping even more, and as he stepped through the portcullis he could see a massive spire of ice rising in the city, cloaked with a cold mist.
 
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Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
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Zana pulled a small clear bottle out of the pouch she wore at her hip and using her teeth took out the cork. Slowly she let some of the disgusting membrane like substance drip down the bottles neck and then stoppered it once more. Alchemy went far beyond her own skillset besides the basics but there were others that they knew who might be able to use such methods to tell them what this was. If they didn't come across it themselves.

"Maybe we're looking at it the wrong way," she murmured as she stood and wiped her fingers against her thighs. "Maybe they're working together. There was a necromancer Dreadlord the year above me who vanished after the revolution. I remember when I was an initiate he would bring back these horrific twisted... monsters," she suppressed a shiver at the horrific memory. Six of her classmates had died in that little test.
 
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Talus

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Talus had had his fill of necromancers, more than a lifetimes fill really. "Could be."

After the undead had swarmed their way over the walls of Vel Anir he could have done without ever seeing the fucking things again. Yet here they were, with another likely suspect of undeath. There were always other possibilities, but narrowing it down wouldn't be easy.

He frowned, glancing at the strange substance.

Talus spoke slowly. "If it's Necromancer, there will be other signs."

The former Dreadlord shook his head, this seemed...more involved than any necromancer he had ever seen. Why freeze a whole city? Why not just take whats in the graveyard? "This all seems rather...elaborate."

He hefted his sword.

"Let's cut one open." It seemed the logical step, and he quickly moved towards one of the strange cocoons. Before Zana could stop him the former Dreadlord did as he said.

His blade flickered forward, cutting through the odd egg-like membrane. It seemed to shift, and then burst open.

A body fell out, collapsing onto the odd frozen ground, but it was no human corpse. Least not anymore. It's skin was warped, scaled, it's head elongated and sharp talons crested it's fingers. The thing did not move, not even a twitch as it lay there. "What in the fuck."

Talus exclaimed.
 
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Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
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"Talus st-!" Zana's hand was half way to her husbands shoulder when he smashed one of the unknown shells open like a piece of candy. Her stomach heaved at the stench and she quickly drew her hand back to cover her mouth and nose. It had been over a year since she had had to deal with something quite so foul and despite now being a mother of twins who demonstrated daily size was no indicator of produce, this was on a whole different level. After she recovered she promptly lightly smacked Talus' shoulder.

"You could have gotten hurt," she shot him a half-hearted glare. He'd faced worse things, the love of her life, but her nerves and fear were worse since the birth of the twins. Giving him one more frown she then crouched to examine the corpse, drawing the scarf about her neck up to smother her nose. With care she used a nearby frozen stick to turn the small body over.

"Draconic," she said in surprise as the head rolled to reveal unstaring lizard like eyes. "Perhaps... perhaps it is just a frost wyrm."
 
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Talus

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"I've fought Archon's." He reminded her. "What am I gonna be afraid of an egg?"

Talus joked, but he knew it was different now.

Back then they had been idealists, lovers, soldiers in a war that the two of them had started together. Yet there was no denying that more important things existed in this world. Their children could not due without their parents, and he quietly marked down to be more careful.

A frown touched his face the moment she said the word 'draconic'. His lips thinning. "This far south?"

They were in the spine, yes, but Frost Wyrms tended to stick to the Tundra or Neus. A fact which Talus had learned after their...excursion with the Dragons a few years ago. "That's...concerning."

Talus said, glancing towards the tower.

"Least we know where it will be..." He said quietly.
 
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Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
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Zana's mind had come to a similar conclusion. If a Frost wyrm was this far south then something had provoked it to travel so far. Was its home under attack? It would have to be quite the ordeal to force a wyrm to move, especially a pregnant if the eggs were anything to go by.

"There have been stories of ice dragons who travel to the Spine attached to those Dragonkeepers," the odd group who had sworn themselves to the protection of the species over the last millennia as their numbers dwindled. "Maybe its human died. I'm unsure how the bonds work but I've heard dragons go insane when their keeper passes especially if it's painful," her interest in dragons had only piqued after the encounter under the dwarvish mountains. The dragonkeepers had especially drawn her interest.

She slowly rose to her feet and glanced to the large tower.

"We need a plan if it is."
 
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Talus

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He frowned for a moment. "But this is..."

This was something completely different. The creature in the egg, it wasn't a dragon, not even a baby one. He looked at the monster for a moment, his head shaking.

They didn't know enough.

What Zana said made sense, it could have happened that way, but it just sounded so doubtful. Why take this city? Why make villages disappear? What was making these damned things. It felt like they were missing a very large piece.

Only sitting on theory, nothing else. "We need to know more."

Talus said, wiping the blade on the snow before he dropped it into it's scabbard. A gentle hand grazed over Zana's back, and then slowly he began to walk towards the tower.

"Let's find out what's going on here." Before whatever it was came for them first.
 
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Zana

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"But this is..."
Wrong, Zana finished Talus' sentence in her own head. Even she had to admit that. What lay at their feet was some mangled, mutated version of human and dragon that could not have been born naturally. Yet a dragon doing this seemed more plausible than a Dreadlord. What kind of magic could even begin to do this? The ice and the mutation? It was magic that didn't lend itself to one another.

Talus was right: they needed to know more.

"Can you ghost through?" she asked as his fingers brushed over her worn leathers and a smile grazed her lips. Their footsteps crunched as they walked through the snow covered road that had once been the main way through the town. Neither of them were being conspicuous but this far north it would be more than plausible for two sellswords to be travelling through and stop to look out of curiosity. Hopefully they would not mark them as Dreadlords.
 
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Talus

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As he looked up at the tower a frown crossed his features. Zana's question was a good one. There were few things he couldn't walk through when it was needed, but they all tended to be magical in nature. With Dragons?

It was hard to tell.

After a few more moments Talus simply rolled his shoulders in a shrug. "I guess we'll have to find out."

He glanced at her with a brief smile, hand squeezing on her back as they continued to trudge forward.

As they walked they passed more of those strange eggs. At first just a few, then a dozen, then a dozen more. By the time they reached the tower there had been near a hundred of them, all wrapped around the faded figure of a corpse.

"It must have...taken the entire city." He said quietly, the tower looming above them. A thick sheen of ice glimmered above them, with only small scraps of the marble beneath still showing.
 
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Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
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Zana muttered a soft dwarvish curse beneath her breath as her foot slipped on a piece of ice hidden beneath a fine blanket of snow. She regained her footing quick enough but she still glared at the ground as if daring it to try and hurt her again.

"If it's large that isn't beyond the realms of possibility, it would need a big place to nest. To feel safe," there was a touch of understanding in Zana's tone for that last sentence. If the dragon was a mother... well then her only instinct would be to protect her young. That didn't explain why it would be trying to twist these humans into dragons of some kind.

"Something still doesn't feel right," she murmured. "Why would they assume this was a Dreadlord? This far north the locals would have been more likely to think of a dragon. We must be missing something."
 
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Talus

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It didn't really make any sense at all.

Just as Zana had said. There were a dozen threats this far north that could have come even before a Dragon, much less a Dreadlord. Molthal, the Underrealm, bandits. Fuck even a rival city was more likely than any of those choices.

Yet Thawne had suspected from the outset. That was why he had come to Zana and Talus. Why he had asked the two of them.

He did not think that his old friend had kept something from him purposefully, but perhaps there was something he himself had not known. A frown touched Talus' lips as they came upon the tower, it's base a block of solid ice. "Whatever it is..."

Talus said softly.

"It will be in there." That much even a fool could guess.

Briefly the former Dreadlord glanced over to his wife, lips thinning as he considered what lay ahead. He was loathe to leave her by herself, even if only for a few seconds. Fingers tightened, and he glanced towards the tower.

"I'm not sure I want to leave you out here with those..." He glanced back, still able to see some of the strange eggs. "Things out here."
 
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Zana

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Zana quirked a brow.

"I killed an Archon too, you know," her lips lifted into a faint smile but through the bond he would no doubt feel her agreement. This was an unknown and Zana was not at the levels of power she had been before the rebellion. Since her abuse of the sacred laws her magic had disappeared completely only to return in drips and drabs recently on the tails of ominous dreams that felt almost like visions. She could defend herself for a few minutes but other than that?

She squeezed his hand.

"We need to know what's inside, I'll stay right here."
 
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Talus

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"Oh I know you did." Talus said with a smile, squeezing Zana's hand for a brief moment before he took in a slight breath.

Fingers slipped away from hers as he took half a step back.

His head tilted, looking up towards the massive tower. The sheen of ice covered it almost the whole way up, though a flicker of obsidian stone could be seen from there. He glanced at Zana one more time, and then took in a deep breath.

Flesh flickered.

His whole body turned a translucent blue, and then suddenly he darted forward.

Three quick steps took him through the ice. Darting what blocked off the inside of the tower within an instant. His form seemed to drag, pull as he passed through the ice, and once he was beyond nothing but black seemed to greet him.

His body flickered back into it's ordinary form, and almost immediately a wave of cold washed over Talus. Ice formed on his cloak, his breath turning into a fog of cold. "Kress, fuck."

Talus whispered, his hand coming up as he whispered an incantation and a ball of light flickered to life in his life.
 
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Zana

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Zana exhaled out through her mouth and tried to calm the instincts in her gut screaming at her to try and find a way in to follow him. She didn't like him being alone. The last time they had fought apart she had nearly lost him and the pain, the fear, of that moment was still a nightmare she woke from daily. Instead she cast her eyes around her. She didn't intend on breaking her promise to wait here but if anything outside could give them a clue then it was worth wandering a little bit.

She took a stop back and glanced to either side to see if she could see around the tower. It curved away from her in both directions but the wall obstructed most of the view. Zana put a hand to the wall and slowly followed the curve round to the left to see if she could see anything useful.
 
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Talus

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The inside of the tower was the same as the rest of the city; utterly abandoned.

Nothing and no one greeted him as the ball illuminated his surroundings. A thick sheen of ice decorated the floor, walls, and even the ceiling. The only marked difference here was the massive claw marks that seemed to etch through the frozen decorations.

A frown pulled at his lips, and slowly he began to step forward.

He made his way through the open corridors of the tower, holding the light aloft in front of him. Eventually the tight hall began to open up into a massive chamber, and there Talus' breath caught.

In front of him stood hundreds, if not thousands of those strange pods. They covered the floor, the walls, the ceiling. His eyes flickered over them, stopping the count in his head after he reached well into the hundreds. "Fuck...me..."

Talus breathed quietly, his fingers slowly curling around the light to dim it's glow.
 
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