Private Tales Read between the lines

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
Zana was only a quarter of a way around the tower when her boot suddenly crunched on brittle bone. The noise seemed to echo now she was alone and she froze, unsure of whether it would have attracted someone - or somethings - attention. As it was nothing moved and she quietly let out the breathe she had been holding only to suddenly breathe in when she looked up. Ahead of her the towering almost skeletal head of a dragon lay.

Zana froze.

A thin layer of skin and scales still lay over its body and the rise and fall of its side showed it yet lived but it was nothing like she had ever seen or read about in the bestiaries. Very slowly Zana began to step backwards the way she had came, making every step as quiet as possible.
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
Talus began to take slow, patient steps backwards.

There were some Dreadlords who could have torched the inside of this place in an instant. Who could have ripped and torn through every one of these cocoons with a wave of their hands. Talus was most certainly not one of them.

One on one he could stand toe to toe with any mage alive, but something like this? There would be a better solution than sending him in.

So, he slowly began to make his way backwards. This time his steps were more careful, practiced. He tried to make as little noise as possible, not wanting whatever the fuck those things inside the cocoons to awaken. He turned the corner, and then began to sprint.

With a flicker, Talus form once again turned translucent blue.

A second step, and then he flickered into life beyond the wall where he had stepped out of. A breath catching in his throat as he looked around. "Zana?!"

He called out, not knowing what she had stumbled upon.
 
  • Stressed
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
"Sssshh!" Zana hissed to his left where she had just poked her head back ground the curved corner. If the shushing didn't stop him hollering the clear alarm on her face most certainly would. She pressed a finger to her lips and then motioned for him to join her where she was. It didn't take them long to retrace Zana's earlier steps to a safer position where Talus would be able to see the slumbering beast.

"Something's not right with it," she whispered so softly a gust of wind would have snatched the words away. In truth Zana didn't need to speak aloud at all it was merely habit. It had been years since they had learnt to read one another's thoughts through the web Talus had created with his magic. They stayed to watch a little longer then Zana motioned they should leave.

Back at where they started in front of the tower Zana ran a hand through her hair.

"What did you see inside?"
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
Talus froze as he saw the slumbering beast, his lips thinning.

There was something seriously wrong with all of this. It was not just the beast, but this whole city. The way that everything was. None of it was right, none of it was how anything was supposed to have been. Dragons did not do this. Frost Wyrms did not do this. They might attack cities, but they didn't obliterate them.

Certainly not in this manner.

Quietly the two former Dreadlords began to back-pedal, taking slow steps until they once again turned back around the corner and Zana questioned what he saw. "More of those cocoons."

He answered softly. "Hundreds, maybe thousands of them."

In the moment he hadn't really counted them all, but the number was more than obvious in his head now. He frowned, and then quickly spoke again.

"I think...it's probably everyone in the city, or at least close to it." Had to be with what he saw.
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
Zana swore quietly under her breath and begun to pace back and forth.

"None of it makes sense."

She crossed her arms across her stomach and tapped her fingers against her jaw as she mulled over the evidence. Except the evidence ran through her mental fingers like sand. None of it stuck. The dragon was sick and clearly had something to do with the humans-turned-foetus' but what had made the dragon do this?

"I don't... I don't think the dragon did this on its own. You saw the state of it, it can barely breathe. Someone is controlling it. I can't think of a better explanation."
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
Talus nodded in agreement. There was really no other way around it, nothing that could have explained what was going on here. The beast, the dragon...if it even could have been called that was a cobbled together mess of what it should have been.

There was a magic behind this, a power that they hadn't yet seen. "So we're back to Dreadlords."

He said quietly.

It wasn't a sure thing of course, but it was why Thawne had sent them here in the first place. A Dreadlord was supposed to have been responsible for all of this. The famine, the disappearances, the little nuance of terror and horror.

"Whoever it is." Talus contended quietly. "They're not here now."

At least not in the places they had seen.
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
Zana nodded her head in reluctant agreement. She had never heard of a natural sickness that would cause the dragon to do that and she, perhaps arrogantly, could not think of another magic user with the strength needed and the twisted mind who would want to do something like this.

"I don't understand why though," she said quietly with a shake of her head. "Dreadlords work on sense, it's what they taught us but this... there's no clear logic. You need people to run your city not... this," she motioned to one of the nearer eggs.

She sighed, a sinking feeling forming in her gut. For there were, of course, Dreadlords who had escaped who did not think logically. Which made them all the more dangerous. Were they dealing with one of them, the Wanted?

"I don't suppose you saw any signs inside as to where they might have gone? The next town is a good days ride west."
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
"Just because we don't understand it, doesn't mean there is no logic here." It was a fact that he had to remind himself of often as a student. There were many things in the world that hadn't made sense then, and now was honestly no different.

Whoever had done this, Dreadlord or not, clearly had a plan.

There was no need to do this to a city if one planned to conquer it, in fact by all the terms of the word it was conquered. Yet it seemed that the plan had so much more. Lips thinned for a brief second, and he shook his head in answer. "No."

He told Zana.

"All I saw was more of these things." Talus motioned to the cocoon. "I didn't want to get any deeper."

Not alone. Not when he had no idea what was lurking around the corner. "Maybe at the top."

He said quietly, glancing up the tower.
 
  • Nervous
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
Zana sighed and nodded in reluctant acceptance. Maybe once they worked out the logic they would be able to figure out which Dreadlord's logic it was. At least the dragon still slumbered and had not yet moved on to another city so it couldn't be about mindless death. They needed answers, quickly, and her eyes followed Talus' up towards the top of the tower. She sighed.

"Why are the evil lairs always at the top?" she murmured. Her magic was not strong. Nothing close to the near Archon level of magic she had displayed in the revolution, but the Herald had afforded her some when this mission had come up. A sure sign even higher beings thought this was their burden to deal with. So gathering that handful of magic she pulled rocks and debris towards them to form a small discus and then slowly lifted them into the air.

Such a simple job but she was winded when they stepped onto the ledge at the top and paused with her hands on her sides to catch her breath.
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
Talus didn't seem at all uneasy as the discuss slowly began to float up from the ground.

He trusted Zana implicitly, knew that not in a hundred years would she allow them to fall. Even if she did, his own magic would keep them safe. In fact, his own magic very likely could have carried them to the top of the tower faster than Zana could have.

Not a word of that was said however.

Talus knew his wife. Knew the toll this would take on her, but also knew that it was something she needed. That the slow rebuilding of her magic was like a stack of confidence. A need that he could, and would not take away from her.

"Deep breaths." He told his love softly as they stood atop the tower. "I'm sure whatever fucked up enemy is waiting for us can wait a little longer."

The former Dreadlord jested as he rubbed his wife's back.
 
  • Bless
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
"I shouldn't have been so lazy after the twins were born," Zana grumbled to herself. For a Dreadlord, at least, Zana had been lazy. For any other woman who had just given natural birth to twins she had been insane and several women in the small town had said so when they caught her out for her morning jogs. Least they hadn't seen the weight lifting equipment in the barn. But in terms of her magic... It had been fear more than anything that had kept her from testing that warm spark she'd felt appear again after their arrival.

Looking up at where they were Zana grimaced. There were certainly less eggs up here but a few stood around the room as if to remind them what had happened below.

"There must be a study of some kind up here."
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
Talus glanced around with no small amount of unease. The sense of this place was the same as down below. Less of the strange eggs existed here, just a few that he could see, but it was clear that the infection had spread even onto this lady.

Slowly his sword slipped from it’s scabbard, but this time he didn’t move to cut any of the cocoons open. Instead he stepped carefully between them, nodding his head when Zana suggested there must have been some sort of study.

Slowly the two moved forward.

Eventually the ice and snow, that strange substance began to fall away. The air was still chilly, cold enough to see their breaths, but things became more…normal. Hallways revealed stone walls, cobbled floors.

Eventually they happened upon a door. Talus frowned, motioning for his wife to go to the other side of it. Just beyond he could hear the crackle of a fire, the flickering snaps of wood being taken by heat.

He waited by the door, and then swung it open.
 
  • Dwarf
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
Zana drew her blade in a mirror of Talus' action. It felt odd to hold a weapon again but the worn leather hilt felt solid and comforting in her grip as they began to creep forward. She tried not to peer to closely as the membrane thin icy eggs they passed but she still shuddered every time they put their back to one. It was a relief when their boots hit cobblestones and she felt herself easing into the hunt.

When they reached the first room with the sounds of life in Zana slid to the other side of the door and nodded when she was ready. They barely needed to talk for the plan to unfold along the bond. When Talus swung the door in Zana jumped through the opening, sword and magic at the ready.

Inside was a simple, cozy study. The fire was burning nicely and a large comfortable looking armchair had been dragged close. A figure sat in the chair.

"You took your time," the voice drawled in that familiar Anirian accent. The hairs on the back of Zana's neck prickled and she opened her mouth to warn Talus when the door slammed shut.

"I haven't had visitors from home in so long."
 
  • Sip
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
Talus moved so quickly that it was easy to question as to if he hadn't already been expecting something to happen. The door slammed close, and almost instantaneously the former Dreadlord's features flickered into a ghostly blue.

He swept forward in a single step, and then passed through the doorway. Snapping back into the physical realm directly behind Zana, his sword at the ready.

"HA!"​

The man in the chair, his features aged and ragged let out a bark of a laugh. As if the situation was somehow funny to him.

"That's a neat little trick, lad."​

Talus gave the old man an odd look. There was a familiarity to him, but...but he couldn't place it. He felt as though he'd seen the man before, but he wasn't an Archon that Talus had ever met. Nor one that had been on the wanted posters after the Revolution.

He glanced at Zana to see if she recognized him. "What have you done to this place?"

The former Dreadlord asked, blunt, terse. It was why they were here after all.
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
The first thing that struck Zana about the figure in front of them was his age. Dreadlords didn't often get a chance to get old. There was no such thing as retirement and at some point of other they would simply grow weak. That was when the young would pounce and shove them from their position if they did not get removed in some other, quiet manner.

Which meant this man was either incredibly powerful, or something... else.

There were many dark places an old Dreadlord could have escaped from in the aftermath of the revolution.

"Why don't you sit and have a drink first, my lad," he chuckled and motioned with a left hand towards a trolly where decanters were stacked. He still didn't turn to face them. "Like I said, it's been a while."
 
  • Scared
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
"I don't drink." That was actually quite true.

During Zana's pregnancy she had been told to stay away from drink of any sort. Being the supportive husband that he was, Talus had of course followed along. After the twins were born...well, it was all he could do to get a glass of water during the day. Much less a glass of scotch.

Fingers tightened on the sword, and he glanced over towards Zana. He stepped forward once more, slowly moving to the side to get a better look at the man's face.

All familiarity was still gone, and yet something still tickled at the back of his mind. "Who...who are you?"

Talus asked, his voice firm.

"You really are intending to take the fun out of all of this."​

There was an exasperation in his tone as he held up his hand. There was a flicker in the air, a sigil. Talus recognized it almost instantly. It was a rune of truth, a bit of magic that could not be forced but only willingly touched.

"I promise, if you do me no harm, you shall be safe here within this room for...thirty minutes."​

For some reason, the words and oath didn't make Talus feel any better.

His presumption was the same as Zana's. If this man could afford to do this...he was likely very powerful.
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
The thirty minutes seemed to have been plucked randomly from the mans mind. Zana certainly couldn't see any rhyme or reason for the specifics. Either he was going to try and hurt them or he wasn't. Why put a timer on it? For a drink? Her brows furrowed as she watched Talus slink closer, coming almost fully around to the front of the chair. She didn't like him being so close and without backup.

In a few quick steps she was at the man's other side.

"How benevolent," Zana murmured as the man finally turned towards her. There was no sight in his eyes that she could see. Instead the blue iris' were pale and watery and a subtle mist clouded them. He grinned when he saw her discomfort.

"Far more benevolent than I hear you were, eh?" He chuckled and then motioned with a hand to the tea pot in front. "If you will not drink my wine, how about some tea?"
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
Talus wondered when he would start to feel rude rejecting the man. "No...I'd rather not."

"So distrustful."​

The man clicked his tongue, shaking his head. There was an air about him. It went beyond confidence, beyond self-assurance. Talus couldn't place it, but it felt almost as though the man had planned all of this. As though he'd expected it.

"I suppose that's what they made us though, isn't it?"​

He slowly glanced at Talus, then to Zana.

For the first time he seemed to draw some sort of ire for his features, but it was clear it was for neither of them.

"First they train us to be Soldiers, then killers, then butchers."​

A rueful look passed over his face.

"But then again, maybe that was just the path you chose."​
 
  • Cthulhoo rage
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
"We chose freedom," Zana replied flatly, anger flashing in her eyes at his comment though her tone remained neutral. Briefly she glanced towards Talus and then back down towards the man. He had promised not to hurt them for the next thirty minutes so it was time to ask their questions.

"Something you seem to have taken away from the people and that dragon outside," she frowned and slowly sat down on one of the chairs. Now she looked she realised there were two vacant ones; as if he had been waiting for Talus and Zana.

"Freedom is the biggest lie the world has been sold. Nobody truly wants to be free. They want to find love, be happy, live a good life. That doesn't mean freedom," he scoffed.
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
"That's the same shit the Houses offered us for centuries." Talus wasn't really thinking when he said the words, but it reflected his thoughts.

He could remember those same arguments from a dozen different lips. All of them paying credence to the system that they had broken. It made him angry, it made him rage. His fingers flickered over the hilt of his blade, his foot moving half a step forward.

"Is it?"​

The man said.

"The houses didn't let you have love. They didn't let you have a life. They made us into soldiers, weapons. In their eyes we were never people."​

His head shook.

"Those people, the little pieces in my plans, they were never free. They were living shadows. Servants and slaves to the man who sat in this tower before me. I granted them more liberty than they could ever have hoped for."​

Talus practically spat. "What are you? Another tyrant offering deliverance? Another despot who dolls out freedom by the hand of their own power?"

There was no laughter this time.

No wry smile.

"No, son. I am just the man who will tell the truth."​
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
The theme of truth kept cropping up. If she hadn't seen the twisted dragon outside and the odd eggs she would have wondered if his magics related to truth. Like some sort of human lie detector with a twisted sense of a life mission. But the scenario they had found just did not marry to the man before them. Unless he had not worked alone.

She glanced to Talus as she thought through her next question with care.

"Then what are you doing here with these people? The dragon outside? How is your truth helping them?"
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
A venomous smile flickered over the man’s lips. His eyes slowlydragging away from the two dreadlords and moving to the fire. For a few moments he didn’t speak, didn’t say anything at all to Talus or Zana.

“It isn’t.”​

For some reason Talus hadn’t expected the admission. He’d thought the man would offer some sort of argument, would try to claim righteousness. Yet as he stared into the fire no such objection came.

Instead he simply looked back towards the two Dreadlords.

“These people died so mine could be free. It’s that simple.”​

Talus still didn’t recognize the man, yet there was something so familiar about his features. Something that he just couldn’t quite grasp at. Lips thinned for a brief moment, fingers tightening on the hilt of his sword.

He didn’t move, but with every word he was starting to realize just how useless this entire exercise was in the first place. This man believed in himself, in what he had done.

“Tell me, Zana, Talus.”​

The former Dreadlord stiffened as the man said the words.

“Who won the Revolution? Who overthrew the Houses? Who claimed that Victory?”​
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
So my people could live...

Zana's mind turned that little insight over and over to try and figure out what it was he meant. He couldn't mean the deformities growing in the eggs. If he was a Dreadlord then he most likely adhered to their ideals of purity, especially given his apparent age. Was there something they were missing? A part of this puzzle that would make it all so clear?

His question jolted her back and with a scowl she opened her mouth to reply.

"We d--" Zana paused then thought about it. Her eyes flickered to Talus before she bit down on her bottom lip. She had convinced herself the revolution was for the good of the Dreadlords as a whole, the future of Vel Anir but the real victory...

"The Guard."
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Talus

Talus

Dreadlord
Messages
1,990
Character Biography
Link
Talus saw the question a different way.

It was, in a way, the very opposite of Zana's mindset.

He had committed himself tot he Revolution before any other Dreadlord. Had intended to fight with the Guard and die, because he'd known even then...they would have died. Without the Dreadlords, they could not have succeeded.

It was for the better. The Republic was more just, more equitable, but without the Dreadlords it would not exist. That was where his mind flickered when the man spoke, when he asked his question. Lips thinned almost immediately, but he didn't have time to answer.

"No."​

The older man said, pointing at Zana, Talus.

"You won. Him, you, and all the others you managed to sway to your side. Dreadlord's won that war. Took down the Houses, the very people who had beaten us like dogs for centuries."​

His voice was cold now.

"And what was your reward? You're still dogs."​
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: Zana

Zana

The Butcher of Vel'Anir
Messages
1,372
Character Biography
Link
Zana's brows pulled down into a frown.

"That's not true," she denied and shook her head to punctuate her sentiment. "We have choices now, far more than we had before. You can choose not to be a Dreadlord. You could have retired somewhere, lived the rest of your life peacefully," it was a shortened version of a speech she had given nearly a hundred other Dreadlords when they had refused to get on board with the new regime. Their blood still felt wet on her hands when she dwelled too long.

"But you chose to bring violence to these people instead. That's a crime neither of us can permit."
 
  • Popcorn
Reactions: Talus