The Great Ones The Great Ones Beneath

Szesh

The Silver Flame
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Szesh felt a tightness in his throat, but it was not from the ash. He had been called many things, but "kind" had rarely been amongst them. Not since...

He coughed, his flight turning turbulent for the duration of the fit. He kept his grip on the girl, doing his best to avoid spattering her with more dark blood. When it settled, he gave her an apologetic look.

He didn't really know what to say to her. He wasn't even entirely sure why he had saved her. Draco's gaze, he had almost left her at Bhathairk, thinking her lost. Feeling her warm but weak embrace only made this guilt more intense. She was hurting, but that was a feeling he understood. Shared experiences had helped him grow closer to Heike, and while that memory was still muddied by circumstance, he could remember the comfort it had given him. Zeri could use comfort now.

"I know what it is to lose a home," he said in as soothing a tone as he could manage. "When the Shattered City rose, the avalanches..." he trailed off. He had not spoken of this to anyone. "...I had not lived there for years, but it hurt."

He felt a little sheepish. That was his comfort for her? "It hurt?" Zeri had watched her city burn before her eyes, seen its buildings fall into the abyss, and he told her that it hurt. At a loss, he deferred to the rushing wind to fill the silence.

 

Medja

Vizier of Stars
The Empire
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The haunting melody which now played in her mind held her attention more than anything else. More than Kiia's attempt to drain her life, more than Ashuanar's interruption, and more than Gerra's abrupt departure, though she was acutely aware of each occurrence. She didn't care that soldiers around her whispered of what they'd seen, of her terrible power. New knowledge flooding her mind unbidden was what occupied her attention now. The dragon's name--Drakormir--and the disturbing connection she now shared with him, and...and the power he offered.

It was a power she could use to become even stronger than Gerra. To take her own vengeance, to overpower him and even succeed him. Empress Medja had a lovely ring to it...
She could feel her heart pound hard in her chest and her eyes dilate as Drakormir's song rang in her head, slowly drowning out all else. She pulled her hands around her arms, suddenly very cold.

But that isn't what I want. I've never wanted that mantle...and what would it cost?

I request… I beg of you for help… to save Elbion.
Medja inhaled sharply as Kara's words pulled her back to reality. She raised her head to meet the stranger's gaze. That's right. Drakormir was a destroyer. A tyrant. She knew that now. He would lay the world low, just as she had thought. The song dulled to a quiet chorus in the back of her mind now.

I have to silence this song. I will not be a slave to this monster.

Medja stood. She advanced towards Kara with a new resolve. She didn't know what killing Drakormir now would do to her, but neither did she care. That fiend would be put down before he could wreak his destruction upon Arethil, one way or another.

"I will do what I can." She replied.

Calmly, almost effortlessly, she called the Fists of Aramekh to her and began to channel power into them, even more than she had stored while riding upon Akrep. Her viridian energies crackled and arced through the air, augmented by orders of magnitude by the draconic blood in her veins. From deep within the earth the purest elements coalesced and took form around the Fists. A consciousness hidden away within Arethil herself began to awaken. A titan formed of gold and emerald constructed itself before the Empire's forces, Medja's own ace in the hole: the Avatar of Aramekh.


While not as physically imposing as Akrep, Aramekh was a massive entity in his own right. The golem gazed down at Medja, suddenly aware for the first time in untold years, and knew what was to come next. It knelt before Medja and opened its palm, and Medja stepped into it. Aramekh would be the quickest means of getting to Elbion by any measure. The sorceress turned to look upon Ashuanar, gaze cool and calculating.

"Will you join me, dear Sun?" She asked. Even in her eerily calm state, her care for Ashuanar shone through her tone, and her expression softened slightly as she stared at him.
 

Zeri Rekani

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Zeri held onto Szesh's arm and turned her head such that her right eye could look up at him. Her body pulsed with the pain of the Ash bruises and other woes but she ignored it as best she could, only the occasional squirm or grimace or strained whimper.

She listened to him.

The Shattered City. She'd heard of it once news made it to Bhathairk. Many stories flooding in about the event in so short a span of time--some conflicting, some likely exaggerated.

And what Szesh said felt real. As real as her own pain, that of the heart and not the body. They were joined together by a sharing of the most terrible of circumstances. And she thought of Weylin, how he too was part of that grim cadre and how it had--by her lights--broken his spirit. She did not wish for the same to happen to her.

"I'm s-sorry to hear what happened to your home, Szesh," she said. Single open eye blinking for reasons more than the wind of their flight.

"I want to believe that things will get better for us."

She closed her eye and her shoulders hitched and she seemed perhaps the most fragile thing in all the world.

"I really want to."

Szesh
 

Celestia

Healer
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Celestia was determined to keep chasing after the dragon. Nothing would stop her.

Except…

She felt a strange pull in a slightly different direction. Even the spear in her hand reverberated with a tug towards something, and that something was not in the direction of the dragon. Celestia tried to resist it, watching the looming shadow of the dragon go further away.

But there was a nagging in the back of her mind. Celestia looked over at the spear, gazing at the very tip of it. She had already thrown a spear, and she had seen how little it had done. What if the same thing happened this time? Tereth had mentioned something about blood. What blood? Whose blood?

Celestia realized she was vastly unprepared and stuck with a weapon she knew nothing about. Staring after the dragon for a long time and chewing her lip, she finally turned away from it. The Avariel knew she was making a big mistake. People were going to die and she was straying from the path.

She followed the sense of pull from the spear and came across a curious arrangement of rocks. Celestia recognized it at once as a portal stone. She stared at it for a long moment, wondering where it was beckoning her to go.

“...Here goes nothing.”

With a deep breath and an exhale, Celestia stepped forth to activate the stone.

Kara Orin
 
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'There was,' Vel must admit, 'some benefit to being so often overlooked.' Whether it meant you missed out on suicidal assignments or dodged the wrath of an angry Dragonsworn because they ignored your existence in favor of your more bold companions, it all came down to a simple truth; there was safety in being unknown, in fading into the background. All her life Vel had done just that, content to study what interested her and to be just another inconspicuous figure in the machinations of the Underground. To be so utterly insignificant was a comfort in a world where standing out meant catching the attention of those who would use and discard you on a whim.

It was not until she stood in the face of a beast like Neha that she truly knew what it meant to be insignificant; the land was rent, the city gone, a casualty of the dragon waking up. Her power called for attention, commanded it and glorified in it; what were all of them but insects in the face of her wrath or even indifference? Subtlety had been a word that Velathina had lived by for all her long decades... and in the face of Dragonfire?

Velathina craned her head up as the Dragon screeched overhead, the javelin that pierced her leg fading as blood fountained down from the wound. It splashed onto the ground, onto the ashes of Bhathairk steaming and sparking with power for those bold enough to take it - and if ever there was a time for boldness, it was now. The Dragon was diving, its attention fixed on those who'd done her harm and as Vel stepped into the puddle of blood, she fixed her eyes on her target and broke the rule she had lived by for over a century.

"Fuck subtle!"

The link between the Dragon and her Blood was yet fresh, the potency fading the longer it was from her body but what had been spilled suited her purpose just fine. Velathina pulled the ritual dagger from her harness and slashed across the palm of her left hand and then reached down to pool the dragons thick blood in her hand - elf and dragon mingled, burning at the edges of her wound, and writing began. She dipped the point of the knife into the blood cupped in her hand like a feather to the inkpot and began tracing a glyph, expediency calling for simplicity though with the blood of a dragon as the base mingled with her blood and will it should be enough. She prayed it would be enough.

The Glyph glowed with power, black crimson light reflecting in the pool of blood and Velathina could feel the power of the Dragon fighting against her will. The glyph dimmed and as the spell threatened to unravel she realized that boldness could not succeed without cost.

"I see... so be it."

The knife rose before she could hesitate or flinch or regret, the point driving through her right eye in a quick circular stabbing motion that severed the nerve and brought her eyeball out on the point. Agony ripped through her and it was only a century of Drow conditioning that let her stay on her feet as she swayed against the pain, dipping the eye into the pool of dragons blood in her hand and clenched her fist around the point. Viscera and blood burst between her fingers and she ripped the dagger free, tracing the last points of the glyph and joining them together as she activated the glyph with a vicious snarl.

"Force: REND!"

The glyph -burned- into the very fabric of reality, casting her face in fel light that highlighted the hollow socket on the right side. Something shattered, the air cracking like thunder as the blood surrounding her surged through the cracks toward the dragon, guided by Vel's will and the link between the Dragon and her Blood. It crashed into the wound left by the javelin and ripped. Rend was a simple word, in theory, but when applied to a living being's limb it had ghastly, gruesome consequences.

"Chew on that you scaley bitch!"
 
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Szesh

The Silver Flame
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Zeri's words, spoken so openly and honestly, found their way to him. He grumbled a bit to himself in his thoughts, how these past few years had made him "soft," how his burgeoning desire to reconnect with those around him was "weak." They were the old arguments of an old mindset, one rooted in rigid honor codes and traditions of his people. The very same ideology that had sentenced him to exile. The murder he committed was inexcusable, he knew this. But the events that lead up to it... the things that turned a loyal soldier against one of his own... would things have been different had his village clung less to the old ways?

He was not ready to entertain those thoughts just yet. For better or worse, his own identity was shaped by that immutable culture. Someday, perhaps, he would consider these things. Far, far in the future, he may even forgive himself.

"I want to believe that things will get better for us. I really want to."
So did he, and he refrained from voicing his more cynical opinions. "We are alive," he replied. "So there is a chance."

The land had grown flat, and soon enough the portal stone came into view like an oasis. No major city surrounded it, but a network of pop-ups had naturally formed around the highly traveled area. Even from here, the sky had been darkened by the smoke from Bhathairk, and people moved quickly in fear of what was to come, for they had heard the great dragon’s screams.

Szesh landed heavily, running to a stop by the stone. His breath was heavy, and with Zeri still in his arms, he reached for it.

Hesitating, he looked down at the girl that he held. He knew he had to do this, but she had no such obligation

”I think wherever this stone goes will help us. But I don’t know what else is there.” He had no rationale for this, only a deep feeling in his gut. Surely Draco had opened this path for them. ”Do you wish to come?“ There were plenty of people here who could likely help Zeri (or so he thought), but he did wish, secretly, that she would come with him.

| Zeri Rekani |​
 

Zier Xya Zythos

Let's Be Honest, My Title Is Dumbass.
Elbion College
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During the journey, Awano would tell Zier, “This is an incredible gift. I’ll help maintain your magic…”
A gift? that sounds wonderful! He hopes it's the edible kind... he's getting hungry. Maybe a little, magic, colored ball of something or a vile of some mystic liquid he can dri--

The Maester would then channel a spell in an attempt to supply Zier with enough magic to make the journey without collapsing.
Damn. It wasn't food. Well, it was a gift nonetheless, and a much appreciated one. His stomach may be empty but his magic is replenished and it will last longer. "Yo, Awa- Maester Awano," Formal isn't his thing. "When we get to Elbion.. how are we actually going to stop it? Plus, what if it's peaceful...? Or was peaceful. I mean, it was calm when we saw it, despite people swarming it. It kinda had a right to get angry." He can't help feeling sympathy for it. Who likes waking up to violence? Sure, it destroyed things with it's existence, but that doesn't mean it's malevolent. There must be more to this dragon, and no one's going to know what it wants if people keep trying to slay it.

With the spell fueling his energy, the obsidian slabs they flew on became faster. "Just sayin'. Not everything has to be violent." Sure, he started this whole thing in a fight club, but he at least knows when not to fight. Conflict with this Dragon will certainly result in several, innocent deaths. He hopes, somehow, it can be talked down.
 

Ashuanar

Vizier of the Imperial Army
The Empire
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Ashuanar watched in dismay as Gerra recoiled, and swifty departed. He'd never seen the emperor, never even imagined how his rage could take him. It was indeed frightening to behold for one such as Ashuanar, who had believed oh so whole heartedly. But more than whatever fear that may have been stirred, and now dwindled, there was something else that remained.

Confusion, and...

Anger.
His faith, though intact, had been shaken.

How could he...

His eyes shot to Kara, frustration ebbing at him with her sudden appearance. But, her plea was earnest, and in truth, one he too had an interest in carrying out. Knowledge of Elbion and its arrangements could prove... useful.

But to get there...

Medja held that power in her hands, it seemed. With Aramekh's appearance, Akrep's usefulness seemed to be at an end, for now.

"Will you join me, dear Sun?"

After what had just occurred, her voice was like a healing touch over a fresh wound. His gaze fell from above and met hers, and the softness in her eyes drew him forward without hesitation, almost anxiously.

How foolish he felt, and how powerless - having allowed her to be injured so greviously before.

Yes, even by Gerra.

But he would not so carelessly allow such a thing to happen again.

"Of course," he replied, "I would be no where else."

As he stepped onto Aramekh's palm, he turned his head to Akrep. Then, perceiving it's master's wish, the colossus turned and departed for the horizon. It would carry on it's way for a time, before delving into the earth from where it had come.

 

Kara Orin

Staff
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A drop of sweat trickled down the side of Kara’s face as she waited for a response. Specifically, from Medja.

The song of the dragon would remain in the air. Medja would be more powerful if Drakormir lived, once she learned how to use His gift. This could be heard by Medja.

If Drakormir perished or abandoned her, Medja would be left with something underwhelming. This could be heard by Medja.


Kara watched with her muscles tense as Medja finally replied and summoned Aramekh. She watched with furrowed brows as the golem finished materializing and took Medja into its palm.

Ashuanar then stepped up onto the golem’s palm. Kara turned her head for a moment to watch the (still compared to humans) titanic Akrep depart to the horizon.

Then before Medja and Ashuanar departed, Kara lifted her head to ask, “Please…

A thought on how to phrase this.

May I travel with?” Kara asked.

It might have been too prudent to ask instead of just joining. But it would be unwise to do anything among an army of sand elves that would displease the Viziers.

I will vouch for your intentions to the City and College,” Kara claimed.

Should either the City or College wonder if a golem also decided to attack along with the dragon.

Medja Ashuanar



Zier seemed unusually excited to Awano for some reason, but oh well. He heard Zier’s question and gave it a good thought.

“I’ll try to talk to it,” Awano began, “See what it wants.”

A pause as Awano attempted to keep up his concentration.

“But it may be too late for that. So, we need to see what's in the Vault,” Awano suggested.

Having existed for centuries, the College of Elbion had collected an assortment of magical artifacts from around the world. Whether or not any artifact saw the light of day was heavily regulated. Rumors swirled among the College students of doomsday devices that the College guards and other monstrous things it could be hiding.

“Sitim and you can see if an archivist has something…” Awano told Zier.

This would be Awano's plan, barring further input from Zier.

Zier Xya Zythos




And at Elbion, Drakormir began his final advance…
 

Duago Trothar

Youngest Son of the Trothar Clan
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After his little adventure in Vel Anir, the komodo warrior known as Duago Trothar fled to the trade routes in search of his clan. They were nowhere to be foind however. And since this young masculine komodo had reason to fear that House Pirian might send their Dreadlords after him, he had started on his way to the College of Elbion seeking to find some method or charm by which a magicless creature such as himself might be able to be defended or forewarned against sorcery.

Guards and students eyed him curiously and not very politely. Komodi did not enjoy the best of reputations in the land. And being from a race without magic at a college for magical studies, his presence here seemed to garner extra suspicion from those who noticed him.

As he made his way into the College grounds, he was greeted by a very polite elf woman who asked if she could help him.

"Please excuse Duago Trothar, but Duago was hoping to learn if there are ways that the one who has no magic can use in defense against the attacks of a magic nature."
 

Gerra

The Emperor
The Empire
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Many leagues flew swiftly by beneath the wings of the great golden eagle and he approached the outskirts of Elbion, soaring higher than any kite, where the air grew thin and the wind faint. He did not need his keenest of eyes to see the scaled behemoth ahead of him. There were mountains that were smaller.
 

Tenrof

A Shadow out of Time
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Even faster than anticipated. Tenrof could see the city in the distance, even as the dragon attempted to swipe him off the tail like he were an annoying leech. He let loose a chuckle, despite the situation. The analogy was crude, but quite different. At least those little parasites could be dislodged. Him? It would take nothing less than the dragon biting off the tail to make him dislodge from his current perch. He had nearly reached the middle section of the tail when the dragon had decided to dive, finally arriving at its intended destination.

The sudden drop gave him a quick idea. Something to distract the wyrm before it could set its' sights on the city. Reckless, suicidal, and quite insane. But an idea it was, and he could pull it off. The Aegis had yet to destabilize entirely, and he had even managed to configure it back into a somewhat workable condition. It would never last a prolonged fight in such a state. But it carried the likely chance of knocking him out of commission, if he could not withstand the information surge to follow. He was still blocking it out, and eventually it would rush back in like air.

So be it.

As the dragon descended, he used the sudden movement of mass to let go, and rise high up into the air, propelled above the clouds. High enough he could spy a bird flying towards his location. Odd. Most feral fauna would be rushing towards whatever safety they could find, given the situation. Clearly a brave one, or a wizard in disguise.

No matter, it would bear witness to his stunt either way.

A resounding boom confirmed the dragon's landing. He looked down, still suspended by the momentum of his leap. What was at least half an hour by horseback seemed a simple march for the wyrm. Even as high up as he was, he could see its body slither and crawl across the land.

No more.

"Aegis critical. Visualizing focus."

Gravity took hold as he fell, a black dot in the expanse of white clouds. The wind picked up, ruffling his coat in violent and wild flaps as he inclined his body directly at the head of the dragon, visible even from his rapidly falling height. His hat wavered in the violent wind, an unseen force keeping it affixed to his head, allowing only flutters to show it was affected by the weather.

He cocked one fist back, extending the other forward in preparation for perhaps the single hardest strike he would attempt.

"Impact."

Tenrof's form rippled, as whatever had been covering his body shattered like brittle glass, the pieces of air and reality flying outwards, only to flow into a singular location like water; his clenched fist.

And the surge returned with a vengeance. A surge Tenrof had not experienced in a long time, but his willpower was nonetheless undaunted, forcing his conscious to process everything his mind could see, feel, and hear, concepts and all. A mortal man would be rendered vegetative, forced to endure what the specter was powering through.

A man was aware of many things. He could see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. But to such a mind, these could be processed unconsciously, only focusing on particular sensations and never the entirety of the world around them, filtered through a mental block. If he was aware of just how the world functioned, and how he himself would function and react within it, at virtually all times, his mind would break.

Tenrof did not possess such a privilege. His own physiology was also entirely different from a human's, which worked against his advantage.

Adjusting... ▅▅▅▅▅▅▅ Average…

Adjusting. Current a▅▅ pres▅▅re is . ERROR!


The words were human, but at the same time... not, as Tenrof ground nonexistent teeth.

" ņ̸̛͓̙̩͎̰̲̞̜̱̣͓̤͇̟͈͂̔̿̐́̑̇͗͌̄͐́̌̾͊̑͋̾͝͠ ơ̵̥̰̲͚̱̰͖͔̘͙̞͇̣̦͗͂̅̄̓̏͋̄̀̀͒͆̅̓̀̎̈̑̕͠͝͠͝ t̶̡̡͇͕͔̞̙̖͉̟̯͔͓͕͚͎̰̙̝̲̦̥͍̣̮̬̍̓̊̈̃̾͗̒́̓͐͜͜ͅ ÿ̴̧̨̧̡̰̫̭͕̦̥̫̺̮̟̩̦̰̳̼̠̣̯́ͅͅ ̷̮͓̮͖̺̦̟̱̘̼͋͐̽̌͋̑͆̑͑͊͗̏͂͒̐̄̓͘ ẹ̵̢̯̺̈́̍̈͗̅͆͛̌͑̍̈́͗̃̾̚̕͘̕͝ t̶̡̡͇͕͔̞̙̖͉̟̯͔͓͕͚͎̰̙̝̲̦̥͍̣̮̬̍̓̊̈̃̾͗̒́̓͐͜͜ͅ ."

Range. Twenty meter radius. Filter. Only positional existence accepted. Deny irrelevant data. Compose information, processing, isolating areas where scanned substances are vacant…

He continued to fall, the head drawing ever closer. At his current speed, the distance was closing alarmingly fast, forcing him to skip a couple processes and nearly fade out from reality to compensate.

Existence of matter labeled "air" processed. Positional data processed. Outline of intended target identified with 99.924 percent certainty.

Aegis Catalyzed. Deployment ready.


And through the mind-numbing flood of information, Tenrof reeled back, now mere feet from the Dragon's head. And intoned grimly, like the toll of a death bell.

"Pitch Black. Grand Impact."

And the fist descended like the hammer of an angry god.


OOC: Overkill? Maybe. Tenrof might not be getting back up after this. Who knows? ;)
 
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What was with his luck of being fucked over by random people?! Did no one ever actually see him or were they all such tremendously self-absorbed assholes that they didn't care that their actions had consequences for others? He supposed most of these people didn't give a fuck about anyone or anything other than being able to say that THEY hit the dragon.

Because fuck everyone else right?

Alexios himself might have a habit of attempting to inflate his own merit to try and better his position in the world but he at least had the decency to stab the person he was fucking over for his own gain. These people just seemed determined to fuck over as many people as it took to look the part of the Hero.

Fucking pathetic in his opinion but, then again, he was a bit busy trying to avoid being squished. Again. He was avoiding being squished because of the actions of another, again, because he refused to be a casualty of circumstance. A bystander tragically lost in the Hero's titanic struggle with the beast that threatened them all. He tightly gripped the scales to keep from flying off the dragon during it's twists and turns to evade, or shake off, someone.

Rather than attempting to run along the edge of Drakormir's neck, Alexios let himself fall off. He threw himself down toward the ground at the same time the dragon began it's dive. But he was never going to fall faster than the dragon without some assistance.

Blasts of fire, small explosions, burst from his hands, guiding him through the air toward the Dragon's ear. The wound was closed but the blood remained on the outside of the dragon. Grabbing onto the flesh and scale of the ear just in time for the jarring landing, Alexios grunted in pain with the strain that it put on his arm joints. Reaching out with his left hand, he ran it along the blood, gathering it along the surface of his palm.

He was no blood mage.

But the thing about dragons is that they were fire. Fire made flesh and thought and, sometimes, malice as well. He knew fire on a deep, almost spiritual, level and he knew that the blood of a dragon was fire. He wouldn't be able to destroy a city with a swipe of his hand, he wouldn't be able to call upon a death spell with the burning fire of power held within the blood.

But he could understand it.

He could feel the fire that was the dragon, was the dragon's blood, and he could feel how it worked, on some level. The fuel it demanded, the power it could unleash, unstoppable and ever-hungry. His soul was fire and he would have this fire add to his own.
 

Nahir

of the Desert
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In the secret chamber beneath the shattered Moondial, the pedestal of the Ancient Blood Spear sat empty. Surrounding it were the dusty remains of long-dead warriors' corpses, having fallen just after reanimation. Their stone caskets sat open and empty, much like the jeweled and gilded coffin that Mèchanteau had taken a nap in. Of course, that temple, and much of the Forbidden City, had been mostly collapsed when the Dragon God had risen.

Dozens, possibly hundreds of sarcophagi had been buried or crushed in the calamitous awakening. Scores of tombs and graves desecrated by falling stone and unforgiving sand. The memory of the ancient, defiled.

But here in this massive, crumbling necropolis, there was one sarcophagus that did not contain the dead. And it opened the moment Tenrof, the Shadow out of Time, attempted to unleash Pitch Black: Grand Impact on Drakormir.

Near the back of the Moondial chamber, the stone cap-slab slid to the floor with the hum of a tired spell, and a heavy crash.

The thin form inside barely managed to heave himself out of total darkness, and into the dim light.

Falling to his knees in the dust and dark, the man gasped as if he were drowning. Emaciated, filthy, and wearing tattered rags, he looked almost undead. Almost.

All magic has an end.


{White Swallow, depending on his troops‘ movement in this intervening chaos.}
 
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Zeri Rekani

Novice
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There was a chance.

And that was true. If anything was true, that was true. Once said, once heard, Zeri would not let herself believe otherwise. She cradled that small jewel of hope and nestled it in her heart, its glimmer perhaps darkened by the crushing tragedies of the present and to be darkened further by the grieving that was yet to come for all she had lost but even so this glimmer was not entirely smothered. Ma was dead...but she need not be gone. Zeri could hear her forever in her mind's ear, see her eternally with her mind's eye, keep her memory alive by defiantly living the full life that the Dragon had sought to take from her.

Over the course of Szesh's flight, there were no more tears to shed. The sorrow was potent still, and yet this remained true. Simply no more tears.

So her mind turned to other things. Like the bruises which peppered her skin, turning the green to sickly shades of blue and black and purple underneath the smudging brown film of dust and dirt which coated her from head to toe. She'd been knocked to the ground while running home and had fallen down onto the rubble of her home, but neither of those things--as bad as they were--warranted the number of the bruises. Zeri reached. Touched one. Winced. Tender, the bruise, and the lot of them a source of constant strumming pain throughout her body.

She noticed as well the peculiar graying of Szesh's scales. He, too, had been injured sorely. No one fortunate enough to escape Bhathairk did so unscathed.

She coughed. Knew that she had inhaled a lot of that Ash and dust and smoke while in Bhathairk. And she did not connect the two, the coughing and the bruises, settling eventually on thinking that she had suffered far more injury than she thought while in Bhathairk and that this alone accounted for latter.

She did not know the deadliness of the Plague which infected her, nor even of the infection at all.

* * * * *​

Szesh descended from his flight and Zeri went to clutch at his arm again as he did so. Before them was...the Portal Stone? The Taagi Baara Portal Stone? She knew it and its surrounding environs, having come here before during her first true adventure to the Spine, but why were they here now? Szesh had to know something that she didn't.

He spoke to her, and she looked up at him. A small look of apparent fright when he asked, Do you wish to come, as if there was a possibility that she could be left behind. She had nothing left. No home to go to, no family she thought were still alive, no one here that she knew. So, much like Szesh himself had earlier, Zeri reached for the familiar.

And trusted him.

"I-I-I'll go," she said.

Her eyes trailed down and she looked at herself and the horrid state she was in. Dirt and dust and regular ash and soot and the bruises and the blood and the traces of vomit clinging to parts of her face and her stained loincloth and the sweat that glued most of it together.

"I'm filthy." A plaintive, almost whimpering, comment.

And she looked back up as Szesh held her still.

"But I'll go."

Szesh
 

The Herald

Chronicles RP
Staff
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50
I’ve seen the Herald claim a great mage that thought she could move the peaks of the Spine.”
- The Tome of Magic, by Nokev the Wise​

Before Tenrof could reach the dragon, a figure appeared upon the head of the dragon. Not Alexios, something else.

Only Tenrof could perceive this.

It looked at Tenrof.

Disappear.

Tenrof’s attack, gone.

Tenrof’s body, gone.

A ghost he shall be. Unable to interact with the world proper.​

In place of Tenrof’s body, a hissing black ooze-like being landed upon Drakormir’s head. It had eyes everywhere on its “skin.”

It seemed tiny as it sat atop the dragon’s head. Yet that was only due to Drakormir’s immense size – this ooze would dwarf houses with ease.

It will begin to go forth and attempt to eat everything.
 

Kara Orin

Staff
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609
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Fortunately for Alexios as he began to “fall” toward Drakormir’s head, Tenrof distracted the dragon and kept His attention from reaching Alexios.

Yet once Alexios landed right next to Drakormir’s ear, his time began to wind down. It did not help that there was a “splash” sound further up the dragon’s head.

Putting so much of Drakormir’s blood on his own skin would tingle a bit. A foreign sensation to touching blood, if Alexios had such an experience. There was definitely power within it, as Alexios assumed.

The blood in Alexios’s hand could immediately be used for a spell. In effect, cast blood magic for some purpose. Alternatively, he could consume the blood and be subject to whatever changes it brings. Or he could conjure up another idea in his fire-filled brain.

Yet Alexios would not be given long to ponder on what to do. The dragon’s claw reached up to its head. He was going to grab the ooze that suddenly materialize and toss it toward the city before it could cause any issues for Him.

Alexios just happened to be in the path of its palm.
 

Kiia Sidra

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Kiia lay there, barely holding herself up with her elbows. She watched in awe as Medja pulled the golem from the sands, watch her and Ashuanar climb aboard and saw the massive scorpion tread away.

A new figure now, hazy in the distance but growing near rapidly. She hoped it was one of the Empire’s soldiers, another Abtati who would help her. Her mind was quieter now, in her defeat, and she would not be taking life with such abandon. Though it was excruciating, her leg was not an immediate danger.

Tereth approached. He was clearly not what she had been expecting. She was very vulnerable right now, and her nerves were tense until he spoke, breathing a sigh of relief at his words.

“Thank you,” she said, her face still contorted with pain. She attempted to lift herself but only made it as far as sitting up. Any attempt to move the hard, shriveled limb sent a new ache through her body. “I… am afraid I cannot walk.”

The irony of the situation had not escaped her. One of the most capable healers in the desert in need of a healer herself? Injured by the very people she sought to join? Rescued by an unknown human rider rather than one of the hundreds of her own people? Her humility was approaching new levels.

 

Szesh

The Silver Flame
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She was very small. Most people were small by comparison, but Zeri seemed particularly tiny in this moment. It wasn’t simply because she was broken and bruised, nor the sadness that lingered behind her eyes. It was because Szesh felt a certain responsibility to her. By taking her he had saved her life, but that action would be worthless if she died now. Things you wanted to protect always appeared so fragile.

She was filthy. They both were. Ash and dust covered them both, and more than a little blood had dried over both of them. Szesh had not even noticed the small, wet drops that had begun to pool in his nostrils, and the black pigment of his mouth hid the multitudes of tiny hemorrhages on his tongue and gums.

Yet he considered it a good sign that she had the wherewithal to be concerned about her hygiene, and he was relieved that she would accompany him. He nodded to her answer, and pressed his clawed hand to the stone.


At once they were in a new place altogether. A town square, with bright, clean buildings. The ringing in his ears persisted. No… not ringing… horns? He looked up, and saw an enormous pillar of light pierce the sky, surrounded by a swirling whirlwind of fire. It was… not what he had been hoping for.

Where were they?

There were people here, but they were armed. Szesh had appeared in the square kneeling, with Zeri still in his arms. He had to hope that they were not hostile, had to trust that he had not been steered wrong.

He said the only word he could think of. ”Help.”

[To be continued in Foreigners in Thagretis]


 

Tereth Adathar

Monster Hunters
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What happened? he asked. He couldn't help being a bit of a curious snoop, after all. He nodded silently as she mentioned that she couldn't walk. He glanced down at he leg, shriveled and gnarled by whatever had done this and he wasn't surprised. He pulled the healing elixir from his pouch and glanced at her.

This is going to burn, he warned. He hoped it would work on a wound like this, but he wasn't sure. If it did work, it would sting and burn, but it would help and the pain would subside and lessen overall.

He popped the lid off and poured it over the leg. At the least it might slow the spread of any damage or necrotic tissue.

He slipped the empty vial back into his bag and slipped his arms under her and picked her up, doing his best to avoid the injured area. The trickiest part would be getting her onto the horse in such a way that she could remain mounted.

Can you hold on? he asked, climbing into the horse's saddle. It would likely take several minutes before they managed to find a position that would work. He hoped the elixir would help keep her from losing consciousness on the ride.

When he was confident - or about as confident as he could be - that she wouldn't fall off he pulled the dust from his satchel and poured it over the horse's head. It snorted and shook its head before finally calming once again.

Hold on, he said cryptically before the horse took off at blinding speed. Although it was still on the ground, it seemed to almost fly over the surface of the sand. At high speeds and with longer stamina, the horse would carry them both to the nearest town.

It was the same town he had left from earlier, and thus he knew where to find the healers. The healers were all open and tending to the injured from the quakes. Fortunately, most seemed to have dealt with initial casualties.

Ready? he asked, reaching up to her and taking her inside.

They'll take care of you here, he said. I have to pursue and see if I can help, he said. He didn't know what he might be able to do, but he knew he needed to try. Unless he was stopped, he would head out onto his horse and do his best to catch up. The hunt was still more than afoot.

Kiia Sidra
 

Tenrof

A Shadow out of Time
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He had only moments to perceive what the new entity was before him, when his entire world seemed to twist.

Contort.

It was a sensation unlike any other, as if he had experienced all of eternity, all at once. Time and space looping and morphing and contorting...

It was not a pleasant sensation, by any means.

His attack, rendered fruitless, useless. Enough kinetic force to crack the dragon's skull was rendered moot, and Tenrof felt his entirety fade away, as the full consequence of his maneuver took hold. Even with this unknown entity forcing the process, it would have been already too natural. His senses were now faint, obscure, his mind no longer feeling that nagging itch, as he processed the World around him. Now it seemed he truly was a specter, than a visage of one.

He fell onto the dragon's head, his form dissipating on impact and leaving virtually nothing behind. Only to those whom could peer beyond into the planes beyond would be able to see him, hat, coat and all, but only in those planes he would remain.

No longer could he affect the world directly, or even remain a physical factor within it. Now he wandered in-between the realms of spiritual and physical, unable to interact with either unless under extreme duress.

But at least, the entity that intervened had the decency to let him remain anchored here, and not remove him entirely. He could work with that. But whatever had converted him was nothing short of absolute. He would not be recovering in a simple week's time of meditation. This required a different approach. A right angle, opposed to a direct contrast. Something to muse over. And hopefully in time when Kouri returned to the surface world.

With that, Tenrof drifted away, but not before leaving one final warning to one in the Mage City's college, one who could act in his stead.


This marks Tenrof's leave from this particular thread! Thanks for havin me!
 

Gerra

The Emperor
The Empire
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575
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Below, the great dragon approached Elbion. Beings assailed it, but they looked like mere gnats against an elephant. Nothing more than a nuisance.

The golden eagle folded his wings and dived. No more than a blur in the sky, he fell silently until, mere feet from the ground, he unfolded his wings and arrested his fall. The shape of the eagle morphed, becoming indistinct like a desert mirage, then firming into the figure of a half-giant, kneeling on the earth before the gates of Elbion, directly in the dragon's path.

He craned his neck up and could barely see the head of the approaching colossus. Nausea rose in Gerra's gut and he felt a weakness in his knees that would not permit him to stand. His eyes stood wide and there was terror there, for how could there not be?

He did not possess Maho's unflinching courage, nor his wish for death.

Before the largest creature in all existence, whose very presence threatened the destruction of the known world, Gerra could only feel fear.

Overcome by awe, Gerra's eyes swung down to the earth in front of his fists, unable to face the approaching doom. Everything he had done for Amol-Kalit. All the death. All the sacrifice. Worthless now. And Kiia... Medja? He had turned against them in rage. He had consigned them all to this fate.

He screwed shut his eyes and kneeled there in the dirt on the road to Elbion.

My son.

Mother?

Never forget who you are.

He opened his eyes. Before him in the dirt was the new bud of a sprouting flower. Even here, despite the constant grind of wagon wheels and undiscerning horses' hooves, there sprouted hope. The nausea left his stomach.

Slowly, Gerra got to his feet. Fear fled his features, replaced by the austerity of an emperor. Eyes that smoldered with the newborn heat of the rising sun lifted to gaze upon Drakormir. Once more, he felt the fury that had awakened the simmering embers of his blood. Duty and vengeance blurred together in the sudden inferno. He raised a fist to the sky and a ring upon his hand flashed.

A pillar of fire that could be seen from leagues away roared into the sky above him, blinding in its brilliance.

Drawing upon the ring of Akhu, he spoke directly into the mind of Drakormir.

"B̸e̵h̷e̶m̸o̴t̶h̷,̵ ̸I̶ ̸a̴m̶ ̸H̸a̴s̶u̴r̷a̷s̵ ̸n̶a̸-̶G̸e̸r̸r̷a̷.̶ ̴S̵o̸n̷ ̸o̵f̶ ̷t̶h̶e̶ ̸g̴o̶d̷d̸e̵s̴s̸ ̴M̶a̷s̸k̷a̵t̶.̸ ̸W̵h̸a̶t̵ ̶i̷s̵ ̵i̶t̷ ̸y̸o̴u̵ ̸s̴e̷e̵k̷?̸"

Kara Orin
 

Focraig'Diin

Ice Mage Archivist!
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The hell? The bloody ground was shaking!

The mage hastily abandoned what scribbles he had been writing down (A thesis on how his Cryomancy functioned, and how it would interact with other magics of ice that used other sources of power) and rushed to the windows overlooking the city. He hadn't heard of any earthquakes striking this region, so what in the world was causing all the shaking -

"Oh... fuck me..."

Rare were the times he would swear aloud, which made the moment all the more outrageous. And terrifying.

He dearly wished Traecon was here right about now. He'd have something witty to say about the walking cataclysm on four legs. He'd never even seen dragons before, let alone something that freaking humongous! What was he supposed to do, give it a relaxing chill to soothe its inner fire, make digesting him less of a hassle? Like what the bloody hell, and what kind of hellish pit did this albino monster crawl out of? Why was it walking towards the damn city?

He'd sound the alarm first. Entire city had to be warned. He hadn't the belief that the city would hold against such a beast - hell the dragon's head seemed to tower above even the city's own lofty peaks, and judging from the flattening of those impossibly wide wings, it knew how to fly too. Just the world's fucking luck taking a dump on him. Or was that Traecon's misfortune leeching off Focraig's own karma? He hadn't the faintest idea, and ideally he should be sounding the alarm right now.

Pointing (but really, who would notice that, over the shout to come?) at the monster, no the force of nature about to come pounding at their gates, the ice mage roared at the top of his lungs, a bellow that echoed even above the din of the ignorant townsfolk below.

"DRAAGOOOOOON!"

But even as the word left his lips, did an unfamiliar whisper reach his mind.

'It can bleed... and thus, it can be killed...'

The mage would have huffed in annoyance at the message, but was more occupied with preparing to face off against that gigantic wyrm, as pointless as it would be.
 

Karanon Ulventhral

Runaway Drow
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12
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It was like a trench where Karanon was firing from. The shifted ground, earth, and stone had created it. There was a sort of incline of fallen road, with a bit of a step at the bottom, leading out of the place. And there was no fire on that side of the area at all. Nor on the sides that connected to it. But a part of a wooden fence had fallen on one edge. And that wood was ablaze with green flames. It was that fire which he shot through, allowing the metal heads of his bolts to be baptized in it, and the wood just behind them to start to catch before pulling the trigger.

He hoped that the fire would make a difference to the shots he was taking at the enormous thing. But he was not thinking. Not really. He was a just a male who had made it to the surface as the world was coming apart all around him. First figuratively and then literally. He had sought a better life. A chance to survive. And what had he been met with? The doom of all things? The flying mountain of death?

An evil that made Maelfazen look like a pretty little princess having a tea party... He laughed maniacally at that thought... He was losing his grip on reality... How could anything matter anymore? How could anything matter ever again? There was no safety to be found on the surface. There was no safety to be found anywhere. Nothing was going to stop that giant. And yet HE fired on it as if his tiny splinters of flame could do something.

The drow didn't even notice that he was still, and had been bleeding from two puncture wounds in his side. He only repeated the hopeless attacks. He really would have just kept on repeating the motions after he ran out of ammo. And he was getting closer to that moment...

Even Shaerra had retreated from him, sensing his dangerous will, his lack of control, his fury, as only an animal could. She ran and hid beneath a fallen metal shop awning that was itself now coveres in dirt and rocks, creating a secure little niche for her to lurk safely in.

Just then Commander Tor'Rahel's archers arrived down the impromptu incline behind him.

He didn't even notice as one repeatedly addressed him. She then attempted to snap him out of it by grabbing his shoulders forcefully and spinning him around to face her...

But as she did that, the real world faded from his perceptions. Instead of the archer, he saw Lady Nirkadri holding him by the shoulders and laughing cruelly at him just before she... Before...

Adrenalin and hatred exploded in Karanon's breaking mind. His fists clenched and held up the crossbow and fired a bolt into the archer's neck. She fell to the ground grasping at her throat and gasping and bleeding. He then fired his last two bolts into her eyesockets at point blank range. She was dead then. But he only saw Lady Nirkadri laughing on the ground. He almost tried to reload his crossbow with nothing. But then realizing he had no ammunition he started to slam his crossbow into the dead drow's face repeatedly, muttering indecipherable syllables as his maddened eyes seemed to glow with hatred.

In his mind he was trying to smash in the face of Lady Nirkadri. Desperately trying to take his power back after what happened in his own home. In front of the only friends he had ever known, the spiders that he trained. Now dead thanks to the same drow woman. But even as he smashed and smashed at her face, the memory of her laugh only replayed in his perceived experience. His actions just as meaningless in his mental prison of terror and inner agony as they were in Zar'Ahal. His life just as valueless for it's masculinity.

Meanwhile back in the real world several of the archers had pulled him off of their fallen sister whose head he had just mashed into a fine soup. Two held him by the arms as he struggled to get free and kill the dead woman deader and deader and deader. Another had relieved him of his crossbow. And the former second in comand looked on and noticed his wound.

She had already realized what was happening. She had seen similar things happen to good soldiers all the time. But the wound could have been making it worse. And since he had just put her in charge of this unit, albeit unintentionally, she thought that she would help him out. That way, she wouldn't owe him any favors later.

"It's combat shock! Medic!" She called and an archer who knew some healing spells and carried medical supplies ran forward. The acting Captain of the archers now pointed at his wounds. "Bandage him up. Give him something to mend the wounds. And if he can't be calmed from the shock using calm spells, use tranquilizing agents. You two. Keep a strong hold on him until he comes out of it."

The acting Captain of the archers then called the rest of them to the fire. She had seen what the beastmaster was doing. It was a simple method. She held an arrow in one hand arrow and pointed to it with the other.

"Arrow!"

Then she pointed to the green flames consuming the nearby wood.

"Fire!"

The she pointed at the mountain-sized dragon.

"Target! Any questions? Good. Give that bitch a taste of her own bite. Aim for thing's heart if you can!" And then the archers began to do as Karanon had done.

...Karanon, who yet he struggled against the three trying to help him. Two held him in the space between the incline and Shaerra's hiding spot while he writhed and shouted. He was screaming obscenities and demands for silence, mixed in with gibberish sounds of utter desperation and horror. He still heard that laugh. Torturing laugh. Evil laugh. Relentless laugh. And his apparently healthy red eyes still saw, where everyone else saw a corpse, a living drow noble woman mocking him as she lay upon the ground slapping her malevolent thighs in amusement. And laughing.

And laughing...

AND LAUGHING!!!

Neha Vyx'aria
 
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Kiia Sidra

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She looked up at him as he spoke. It was all she could do, and she felt an intense dislike of being helpless. The pain distracted her from most of this, but lying like a withering damsel in the sand was not something she wished to do. She was a high priestess of Abtatu, a conduit between the gods and the people. She commanded respect and reverence… but now her fine silks were torn and sullied, and the fine golden jewelry was scratched and dulled.

“I… failed to save a dying man,” she said, biting her lip in her own frustration. She did not fail often. “His friend was angry, and attacked me with a spell. It pulled the life right out of me. I was lucky it only hit my leg.”

She saw the elixir he produced. She hesitated for a moment, but figured that it wasn’t likely to make things worse. She doubted it would do much, the injury was unique in its pathogenesis, but she did appreciate the gesture. Tereth had not been lying, it burnt fiercely.

Kiia bowed her head and clenched her fists. After a few seconds she cried out through grit teeth and felt her leg give a few weak shudders. Tears of agony dropped off her nose and into the sand, and thankfully the pain began to ebb within a minute.

She allowed him to carry her, there was no more sense in being prideful. It hurt to move the leg but no worse than the potion, which seemed to have had a very tiny beneficial effect. Her skin was not so cracked and dry, and while the muscles were still thin and the tendons stretched, the elixir was attempting to correct some of the damage.

She nodded to his question, determined to bear the pain and keep some semblance of dignity as they rode. She sat mounted in front of him, side saddle to avoid moving her injured leg too much. With his support from behind and her gripping the horse’s neck firmly, she managed to stay mounted as they took off in a flash of speed.

He helped her inside and then made to leave. “Wait..” Kiia said once she had taken a seat, putting a hand on his shoulder. She looked at him intensely, trying to convey just how grateful she was for his help through her eyes.

“Thank you.” She said. “I… would have been in terrible trouble had you not arrived. Please, allow me to repay you. These earrings and necklace, they are valuable. Take them.” She removed the heavy golden items and held them out to him. “And if you ever return to Amol-Kalit, tell the Abtati that the priestess Kiia Sidra is a friend.” She smiled weakly at him. She had told the truth about the jewelry, it was solid gold. As for the rest… she may have been wishful about how much influence she would acquire in the future. Still, Gerra would not forget her now. Anger faded with time… she could work with this.

“Might I know the name of my savior before he departs?”