Mountain of Shadows RP: the sequel

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AuthorTopic: Mountain of Shadows RP: the sequel
Law Bringer
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Dear Readers (OoC):

And with another grunt of dissatisfaction, this topic is dredged up from the depths of SW to be dealt with. So, given the fact that this RP is now over one and a half years old (yes, it is, check it yourself), we have to ask ourselves: Are we ever actually going to finish this thing?

A few of us have seriously considered this question, and the consensus seems to be "probably not, at least not before one of us dies of old age". Thus, we have a proposal. If nobody else objects, we're just going to cap this whole thing off with a nice, long epilogue and call it finished. You've got a week to object (preferably in the form of an IC post). Otherwise, it's been fun, and hopefully we can get a new RP kicked off sometime in the near future.

(And to those of you who've read this far and have no idea what's going on, read the whole RP. It's good stuff.)

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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

I hate undead. I really, really, really, really hate undead. With a passion.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
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OoC: Pardon the double post... and before we close this out:

quote:
Originally written by Frozen Feet:

I have an itch that this RP will become long and successful...
Amen to that... great job, everyone.

IC:

It was dark. Very dark. Sequoia had a vague idea of which way was up, so he used the broken halves of his staff to dig his way out of the snow.

Eventually, the druid was rewarded by the sight of a clear, star-filled night sky. No storms, no ominous peaks blocking out the light, and no wolves. In celebration, he took a handful of snow and shoved it into his parched mouth. Then, when his eyes had taken in the entire sky, Sequoia turned his attention to the shattered caldera that he sat in.

Some of the mountain's power still throbbed within his mind, but it was slowly draining away. Sequoia could dimly sense some of his fellow travelers, but he could not figure out where they were, or if they were alive. But if nothing else, at least the lights inside the druid's head had faded, and ice no longer formed in his wake. The burning sensation he had felt along every inch of nerve and muscle was also gone. There was just soft, cool snow.

And none of it was tainted.

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Epilogue
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While it is acknowledged that many legends surround the infamous Mountain of Shadows, most contemporary scholars believe them to be the product of political mudslinging and misguided fantasies. The very idea that the noble and brilliant King Albert would squirrel away the kingdom's riches in a desolate mountain is simply unacceptable. Even more impossible is the idea that the wise and powerful king would be defeated by one insolent demon.

Some fringe researchers have inquired into the previous denizens of the mountain, but their searches have proven fruitless. In spite of their failure, they maintain that another kingdom held sway over the mountain before the beginning of Albert's rule. These unsubstantiated reports are frequently ridiculed within the academic community.

The only confirmed historical events surrounding the mountain regard a group of so-called "adventurers" that attempted to scour the mountain for treasure, as "adventurers" are prone to do. Oral and written records in towns surrounding the mountain document the arrival of the "adventurers" and the eventual return of a few. Details of their trip to the mountain are often conflicting and confusing, but they frequently hinge on the presence of a massive demon who possessed the very mountain itself. Such tales are not completely outside the realm of reason, but they are frequently dismissed as stories meant to scare children.

However, more interesting than the "adventurers" and their alleged exploits is the well-documented seismic event which took place near the mountain, in the time between the arrival of the "adventurers" and their departure. Later expeditions found a large caldera at the mountain's peak, supporting claims that the mountain was at one point volcanically active. In any case, many subsequent expeditions have attempted to map the system of caves that is alleged to lie beneath the caldera. These caves are mentioned in the reports of the "adventurers" and their exploits, but so far, researchers have yet to find any substantial cave systems. No artifacts of any kind have been unearthed as of yet.

Strangely, several research groups have been lost while searching the mountain, but most scholars agree that this is due to the inclement weather which frequently strikes the mountain. Other possibilities include geologic instability around the caldera, owing to its relatively young age. Regardless, upon examining all of the records and evidence for both sides of the argument, I am drawn to the conclusion that the Mountain of Shadows is merely a geological oddity, instead of the legend that is quite frankly over-represented in the mythology of King Albert's time.

---Sharg Makin, abstract from master's thesis in historical archaeology

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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

I hate undead. I really, really, really, really hate undead. With a passion.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
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A long run and an interesting read. Here's to everyone who participated:

IMAGE(http://www.prompt-communications.com/pics/applause.jpg)

Dikiyoba.

Edit: Forgot tags.

[ Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:38: Message edited by: Dikiyoba ]
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
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Zing. Burned.

I guess I deserved that for procrastinating. And I don't even have the excuse Prem did back when we finished Pretenders of Pralgad (losing net connection).

So what did we do and who survived? I suppose Sequoia at least made it, that didn't sound like a dying soliloquy. Cain definitely didn't. Tuulentekija? Who knows. Edith? Possibly not. Melora? I'd rather she did. Lisha? Oh, definitely. Filbert? I'd be amazed if he didn't, he seems to slip out of anything. Cyrus and Caecus and Andros? Uh, well. Gnosis? Ask me a tough one. But the taint was removed - and some force must continue to guard the Mountain of Shadows, causing the freak weather patterns. And the peak was blown away.

But wait, that was just the epilogue. Let's see what led up to it...

---

Yighth mghlha nga'i!

Ngaaaa'i! Ngaaaa'i!

Fwoz ogrha mezha'i!

Mezhaa'i! Mezhaaa'i!

A short, vicious downward movement of the knife. Blood splattered on the horned golden mask, while the acolytes broke out in a frenzy of chanting.

The masked master shouted the final kadences of the guttural litany over the din, and held the silver cup below the groove in the basalt altar, where it was swiftly filled. The cup rosed toward the lips, but only for ceremonial effect: The mouth opening was barely enough to breathe, definitely not enough to drink through. The cup was passed among the acolytes, who did not have this luxury: By the time the cup returned, its vile content had been drained to the last drop.

The robed priest turned from the dead goat and left the shrine. Hardly outside, the uncomfortable golden mask was discarded and white hair tumbled over red cloth. Reaching her own chamber, she exchanged the red robe for her black travelling cloak.
Learnt all from these fools there was to learn. Peasants who worship made-up demons and drink the blood of their livestock. Yighth mghlha nga'i indeed. Melora took up her longbow as she left: She was not coming back.

---

Blurred images came first, then sound.

Then pain.

Where am I?

The image came into focus. A ceiling filled with stalactites. She was lying down.

Some kind of stone table. An odd table, too. It seemed to be solid rock, rough but hewn. A groove ran along it, passing right beneath her throat, its purpose all too clear. They're right out of goat, she drowsily thought.

She tried to move her head, but her muscles did not react. There was a shadowy cloud over her mind still, and the darkness lay ready to engulf her. Had she awoken and fallen unconscious before? If so, she must be getting worse: Dim memories resurfaced; she was lying on an altar with Edith. And Cain - that treacherous bastard - and undead chanting. She nearly faded again.

Poison. She had been tricked, like a... a human. Yet, no rage, only detachment. Is the poison calming me down?

No, the Shadow is. Even now, battered and bruised and drugged, she could feel it tugging at the back of her mind. Once woken, it would remain active for a long time. What did I think when I unleashed it? But now it would give her an advantage.

Focus. You are harf'er'melora. It needs more than poison to cloud the mind of the Shadow. Again and again, she tried, but the cloudy tendrils held fast. And then she realized they were aided along by some magic emanating from Cain. He's... using us as a power source, she desperately realized. He's draining my power, not my blood. And without her power, she was helpless - shadow or not.

Slaughtering goats in a backwater temple dedicated to fabricated Elder Gods seemed like an attractive career option just about now.

---

Weapons clashed with ringing clangs, undead growled.

She must have nodded off again, she realized as her eyes opened once more.

Again, she tried to raise her head and was surprised when she could. Shouldn't I be getting weaker as the poison takes hold and Cain saps my strength? But her mind was piercingly clear, and even though her drained aura made her feel like a fish dragged helplessly ashore, she grew aware that she was no longer being sapped. And neither, it appeared, was she poisoned.

What? A sour smell lay in her nose, and she suddenly realized. Not Shargali. Juice of Hassadar. A nasty opiate that could immobilize its victims for hours, but sharply limited: Its effects on humans faded after only a few hours - far sooner in a Firstborn.

But what of the sap? Melora looked around again. Another revelation: Filbert.

The poor fool had been caught as well and tied to the third platform, serving as a power source for Cain. Somehow, his addition to the ritual must have freed her. For all his experience with demonology, Cain appears to be woefully ignorant of magic itself. And then another thought - once he realizes, I'm toast.

All around them, the fighting continued. She grew aware of Sequoia crackling with power, of Lisha battling her way through waves of undead. Tuulentekija was nowhere to be seen.

What do I do?

The Shadow answered her immediately: Get Gnosis. You are the pawn, and he is the opposite side of the board. She smiled sarcastically - the Shadow often used chess analogies.

Gnosis. The book. It was the only way to make contact, but she did not have it. Her pack! It was right there, beneath the altar! Apparently, her captors had been in such a hurry to tie her to the platform that they had hardly bothered with looting her. Now if only... but her hands and feet were all chained down with heavy iron links. Kinky.

She needed to get the chain off while her mind was her own. And she needed to do it without alerting Cain/Orloki...

---

Just then, the continuing crackle of power rose to a crescendo: A blue nimbus was surrounding the druid, and she could only imagine the destructive forces he was about to unleash. Does the fool not realize that if he releases that kind of power, the detonation will kill us all? White light glittered in Sequoia's eyes and she realized he was beyond reasoning - he belonged to the mountain as surely as Cain belonged to Orloki. As she belonged to the Shadow. Again the question: Are we but pawns for the immortals to play with?

A knife whirred through the air and struck the druid's arm.

What the! Her head whirled around to see Lisha grimly fighting the undead with her other knife. "Shadow of the Moch'ronn", she muttered. What was Lisha doing, attacking her own allies? Then she remembered that the assassin had likely saved all their lives: The druids staff dropped and the glow partly faded. He seemed to be unaware of his surroundings or even that Lisha had thrown the knife: Sequoia was cradling his arm and muttering vague, disconnected phrases of power while she desperately advanced toward him.

"Lisha!" She was the only one who could aid her now. And if Melora could contact Gnosis in time, perhaps they could even save the druid. But she must not draw attention to the fact that she was no longer drugged and being drained. And still Lisha fought through the undead. Toward Sequoia.

"LISHA!" She risked a shout over the din, throwing caution to the wind. But the southern assassin did not hear her. A skeleton engaged her in combat but was quickly dispatched: With a single swift movement, she lifted up the frail structure and threw it over her shoulder.

A moment later, Melora felt a crunching pain as a heap of bones landed on her legs, chest and face. If I get out of this, Lisha and I are going to have a long talk about where to throw trash.

The skeleton, only slightly the worse for wear after its fall was cushioned by a drow, clattered menacingly, but appeared somewhat dazed. Its skull was inches from Melora's face, looking at her with a pale grin.

She took her chance immediately. The Shadow rushed to the front of her mind and into her voice as she hissed at it.

"Obey."

I bid the wraiths move aside and they did. With fear in their eyes, she recalled. No darkness in the world would not be compelled by the force that rode her. At least, none used to servitude.

The skeleton was no exception. It halted, its rotting eyes staring at the drow in fear. Its jaw clattered, but in the absence of vocal chords that would have to do. She might be the Shadow's, but now the skeleton was hers. We're getting somewhere. However, the skeleton still lay right on top of her, grinding sharp edges into her body. And to think I called it kinky before.

"Free my arms. And get off me."

Finally, the skeleton shifted and took its weight off her chest. Bony fingers reached for the link around her wrist, but rattled it in vain: It was locked, and not to be opened. I would need powerful magic to break it. Magic that only Gnosis can give. And with no hand free, I cannot reach the book.

Chicken or egg. She was trapped - the opportunity had been for nothing. But still...

"Open the bag next to the platform. Take out the green book and show it to me."

The skeleton looked almost overwhelmed with a command of that complexity, but somehow it managed to obey. If only Cain doesn't look over right now - he'll notice that something is wrong. Melora looked around for Lisha and Sequoia, but could not see them: Undead were blocking the view. However, the sounds of fighting continued, and they must still be alive.

At last, the book entered her field of vision, held by grey-white finger bones right up to her face.

"Now open it and show me the first page." Was that formulated clearly enough? It had been long since Melora had to give verbal commands to undead slaves - expressing things literally and simply took lots of practice. But it was. The skeleton's hands opened the book and held its pages right up to her eyes.

Chained to a sacrificial altar but left out of the ritual by a technical error, being made to read a book by an enemy skeleton taken over by my mind-control, trying to use the book to make contact with an incorporeal creature that may or may not even be able or willing to respond. That should top the past decade as far as Weird goes. Now let us hope this works, she thought as she desperately tried to focus on the ancient alien script as she had before.

---

Lines flowed past her consciousness. She had instructed the skeleton to turn the pages when she nodded, and was already a few pages in. Impatience made her scan the pages only briefly, trying less to gain meaning from their words than to open her mind to whatever strange magic allowed Gnosis to communicate through the book.

Why do I cling to desperate measures?

Hope. She had trained herself never to give up while she was drawing breath.

But surely there comes a time to accept the inevitable.

A simple answer came immediately: She was mortal. Not mortal in that sense, of course; the century had passed her by without leaving even a line of age. But bound to her body, and definitely going to die if it was destroyed. No second chances for her, no dispersion to a nether plane until a mortal summoned her again - the luxury of the undying ones. The time to accept the inevitable was after it had happened.

Is that then the entire secret behind mortal striving?

With a sudden suspicion, she stopped thinking. "Hounds of Tindalos," she cursed. "Gnosis!"

Was that not what you were trying to accomplish? And there is no need for the book now. or talking aloud.

Gratefully, she ordered the skeleton to close the book and lurch aimlessly away from the platform.

- And now, let's see some magic. Let me out of this thing.

- You need to open your mind completely if I am to guide it. I sense an obstruction.

- The Shadow! Melora had almost forgotten it. The Nameless now sat at the back of her mind, controlling it and apparently interfering with Gnosis.

- Something from the nether planes? Did you do this to yourself on purpose?

- Yes. It was necessary. The answer was more complicated, but she had no time to waste.

Just then, another voice chimed in. "Congratulations, Pawn. You are now a Queen."

- Wonderful. It's like there's a party in my skull. Will you please get your territories sorted out in there so we can accomplish something for once?

And, just like that, her mouth suddenly opened of its own accord, muttering strange syllables laced with the metallic taste of power, and her bonds opened with a series of clinking sounds.

We're back in business. She grimly stood up and stretched her aching back as she slid off the platform.

---

Of course, it was at that moment that Cain finally realized what had happened.

"YOU!"

A roar, but he stood immobile in his pentagram, trapped as much by the ritual as Edith and Filbert were.

"Get the elf! Bind her!" He shouted at his minions, who converged on her. But this time, she was ready.

"X'somhra! Ignaraxun X'somhra!" A first wave of the minions was reduced to dust, but more followed. Where is he getting all these corpses from anyway? King Albert's entombed army, probably. That was why all the undead were reduced to bones. Gnosis unleashed more of its magic, but there were too many of the undead. And of those strange cultists. How did living creatures come here, if they are living creatures?

And then... The Swordsman has gone from us, Gnosis sounded in her mind. The mental image clearly conveyed that he was referring to Tuulentekija. He drowned in the pool of molten ice; I felt his life slip away. To her surprise she felt... grief. Hers or that of Gnosis? She had not expected to bond with her companions this much, let alone one she had hardly travelled with. But he was dead, and she felt sad, if only for a moment.

Consciousness restored, mobility restored, magical power restored. What was next on her list?

Get out of here alive. Modest objectives. She had come to find untold riches or learn ancient secrets of long-forgotten lore, raising her power to that of the immortals. But here she was in a room full of enemies, witnessing a demonic ritual nearing completion, hoping that the Druid did not manage to set off his super-destruction spell. Small accomplishments would have to do. Oh, and get the others out of here too. Evidently, years of living among humans had made her soft.

---

Filbert was free and lay gasping on the floor as he struggled to get his drained body back under control. His expression was one of disbelief. "You..."

For Edith, unfortunately, time seemed to have run out. Soon after Filbert had been captured and Melora had been freed, the drain must have overpowered her mind, forcing it first into sleep and soon into a deep, almost death-like coma. Perhaps she could still survive, but only with powerful healing magic and a lot of time. You may have died so I could escape, the drow realized with another pang of regret.

Time to mourn the dead later. For now, I need to aid the living. But even as she half-dragged, half-supported Filbert back to where she had last seen Lisha, the cultists threatened to close in.

"X'somh---" wait. A sudden idea had taken hold of her.

"Halt, I command you!" She shouted over the din. "In the Name of the Unnamed," now *that* sounded ridiculous, she cursed herself, "you must obey me!"

To her surprise, her words actually had an effect. Only a few skeletons seemed to be affected, and they were only mildly confused instead of possessed by her, but there was a momentary slack in the onslaught. "Slay my foes!" She shouted again. Simple, literal commands.

The result was havoc. The skeletons began to fight each other and the cultists immediately, causing utter chaos to spread.

"Halt! It is I who commands you!" Orloki shouted through Cain's voice. With the escape of Filbert and the death of Edith, the ritual had been interrupted, but it had left them merged in an indistinguishable chimaeric being. He was free of the pentagon now, but seemed to be oblivious to that as he continued to shout at his minions. "Get the elf! Slay the elf!"

By now, Melora had reached Lisha. Amazingly, she was still alive and fighting, barely wounded.

"Lisha! We must get out!"

Even more amazingly, Lisha finally seemed to hear her.

"Can't. The library," she grunted in between two knife-thrusts, "Gnosis."

"I have Gnosis." In a manner of speaking. "Get the druid and get out."

The druid! She had nearly forgotten about Sequoia. But Lisha suddenly shouted and pointed over her shoulder, and Melora turned around, the two free-loading entities in her mind as shocked as she was: Sequoia had lifted the other half of his staff up and had resumed his channelling. His nimbus was bright and glowing again, and lines of radiant power kept off the cultists who were attempting to get near him.

"He's going to blow us up!" Melora shouted.

"He will blow up the demon and my last chance at contacting Gnosis!" Lisha retorted.

He will blow up nothing, Gnosis commented in her mind. The mountain's force is life, not death. But he will disperse me. A sudden feeling of wistfulness overwhelmed Melora. Gnosis himself was feeling sadness.

Why disperse---", and as quickly as she had asked, she got her answer.

Finally, understanding: A trinity of entities, locked away in here to seal away the lost secrets of the ancients forever. The Curator, to order and manage the library. The Guardian, Orloki, to keep away intruders. And Gnosis, the library itself. And all of them fueled by a magic that would never fade - the living force that flowed through the very roots of the mountain, enslaved since time began. Aeons had passed this place by, all adventurers swiftly driven away or killed by the power of the Guardian. The Curator and the Guardian becoming senile over the millennia, even as Gnosis itself was fractured when its books were moved over the lines of power.

King Albert's men, intruding into the mountain, drawing Orloki's wrath. The Guardian taking sole dominion of the mountain, enslaving the Curator, the weakest of the three.

And finally, Brother Sequoia being drawn to this mountain, the first mortal after thousands of years who felt the throb of the enslaved mountain beneath his feet, and endeavored to free it.

"We must do something!" Melora shouted out loud.

- No. Leave him be. I made my choice when I freed you.

- Choice?

- Maybe a choice. Maybe the druid would have managed to complete his spell without you drawing off the undead. Or maybe he could not have. But a choice made without foreseeing all the ends is still a choice.

- But we can still---

- "Leave him. I do not mind oblivion." The voice in her head sounded somewhat unsure at this, but went on. She hardly realized that she had begun to speak the thoughts of Gnosis out loud. "I have learned curious things from you mortals. More than I could hope to fully appreciate. But I think I begin to understand this concept of 'compassion' at last."

"Melora?" Lisha seemed confused at first, but caught on that her voice was not her own.

- "It is one of the things that had me puzzled, you know. I have learned so much..." Gnosis' voice dropped, almost to a whisper. "Indeed, I anticipate oblivion. It is one of the few riddles that I have never solved. When you burn a book, you get ashes. When you kill a mortal, you get dead flesh. But where do their thoughts go? What becomes of that which has never had substance? I wonder..." Gnosis' voice regained strength. "In any case, I bid you farewell. You have proved very informative - and amusing." A moment later, Melora's mind and voice were her own again.

She gazed at Lisha, who was staring at her. "Now get---"

And then, a most curious silence descended over the world.

-----------------------------------

OOC: This can transition neatly over into Eph's epilogue. See? I actually can get my butt in gear. Even if it's often after the deadline.

I almost killed Edith, but Sherlock may want her to survive. So depending on that, Sequoia's spell could have either revived her ("it is life, not death"), or not.

I did kill off Tuulentekija, because he said in his last OOC that he couldn't get out himself, and Lisha didn't get to him in time. If he should survive, we can rework it a bit.

Other than that, I hope this rounds it off a bit. :)

[ Tuesday, March 13, 2007 18:32: Message edited by: Dr. Johann Georg Faust ]

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Now we can begin planning the next one ;) .

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Very good, Ephesos and Aran! I liked it.

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quote:
Originally written by Frozen Feet:

Now we can begin planning the next one ;) .
'Tis already in the works. If I recall correctly, it should be ready by sometime tomorrow.

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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

I hate undead. I really, really, really, really hate undead. With a passion.
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Well done lads...somehow we finished this. I like the ending by the way...leaves some unanswered questions, I like it that way.

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quote:
Originally written by Ephesos:

quote:
Originally written by Frozen Feet:

Now we can begin planning the next one ;) .
'Tis already in the works. If I recall correctly, it should be ready by sometime tomorrow.

*Taps foot impatiently*

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By Tyran:
quote:
*Taps foot impatiently*
IT'S COMING, DANG IT! JUST WAIT!

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EDIT: It's fanfreakintastic!

[ Thursday, March 15, 2007 20:39: Message edited by: Dintiradan ]
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This had better be one fanfreakintastic RP idea from all the hype it's getting. :P

Dikiyoba.
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OOC: This topic is being diverted from its original purpose. That is not good.

No hype. The preparations are pretty much done, we're just having a last-minute debate about the title, or it'd already be posted.

However, I won't be participating. In my experience, an RP can take at least 1-2 months, and during the beginning will in fact take a few waking hours each day to follow and post in. Less than six weeks from now, I'll have an examination more gruelling than anything since my IB. Do the math.

I do have a concluding little IC snippet (in the tradition of BtM and PoP, every character/faction gets their individual epilogue). I wanted to make it fit into my last post, but it didn't quite work since that was leading up to Eph's post, and this is more parallel.

---

IC:

The snow moved.

A hand appeared, then another hand, then a head. The drow, still half buried, turned her head to survey the surroundings.

Where am I? She had regained consciousness buried in icy darkness, but feeling utterly at peace. Her wounds were gone. It had taken her a while to decide that she was not, in fact, dead - helped along when her ears began to feel frostbitten.

And now, she was digging out of the snow, and seeing... what? Had she not just been in a cave, deep in the heart of the Mountain? Yet here she was, standing in a snow-filled valley. No, a caldera, she realized: She was standing on top of the mountain.

But this wide a crater should have been visible from below. Had the mountain not had a peak when she had first seen it? And if the mountain had collapsed or erupted, why was she still alive and why was the snow so pristine? There were riddles here, but she realized that no one would be able to answer them. Save the druid, maybe. But he probably won't. Sequoia was sitting a short distance away, having apparently burrowed out of the snow in a similar fashion. He appeared lost in meditation or content.

The snow moved again, revealing another hand. The deep southern tan contrasted with the pearl-white ground; Melora walked over and helped Lisha dig out of the snow.

"You!" She got out after gasping a bit. "Where are we?"

"Where we were, only a lot higher." Melora hadn't quite caught her breath herself, and her words were clipped. Lisha seemed to take in the view and come to the same conclusion as Melora.

"How did we survive that?" She gestured around her at the newly-formed caldera.

"Do not ask me. Best not to ponder, maybe." She glanced over at the druid, who had finally noticed their presence, but remained seated. "I am glad we did, at all."

Lisha looked less so. "Failure," she spat. "I came to find first information, later treasure, and later the ancient library. I have failed on all counts."

"We did vanquish Orloki," Melora interjected.

"I am sure that will find favour in the eyes of the Grand Master when he receives my report. Heaps of gold and halls full of ancient books, and I return with nothing."

"Your report."

"Say what?"

"You have failed to retrieve treasure whose existence the Grand Master did not even imagine. You will report this?"

Lisha flared. "Unlike your ilk, I have loyalty to my lord. I am bound by oaths stronger than blood to obey, to gain what information I can and to report what I know."

"Lay it off." The drow looked bored at the insult. "What I am saying is, you have never actually seen the heaps of gold you are talking about."

"Encased in black ice, practically everywhere we went."

"Demons do use illusions to lure the unwary adventurer. Did you touch any of them?" She spoke on. "And likewise of the books. Gnosis was the library, and he is gone - if he could be said to exist in the first place. Are you sworn to retrieve disembodied spirits?

"In fact, one of the only books we ever actually saw was this one." She removed her pack from her back and removed the volume bound in worn green leather. Lisha looked at it in silence as Melora held it out to her.

"Are you not going to take it?"

"You are giving it to me?"

"Look." She opened it and saw the beginning of the snaky writing again. It was the same as before, but felt... different. It was only a book now. "Gnosis is gone. While ancient, this book is now of sharply limited usage unless you can read the ancient language - I cannot - or you merely want a valuable bauble for your library.

"Besides," she added while picking up her pack again, "if I ever need to look at it again, I am sure I will be granted access." A rare thing: The drow smiled.

"Think of it as a farewell gift. I don't think we will meet again." She turned around and began to walk off. This degree of sentimentality was embarassing.

Lisha appeared to have the same thought. "Thank you. And farewell," she called after Melora, before walking away in the opposite direction.

[ Thursday, March 15, 2007 22:12: Message edited by: Dr. Johann Georg Faust ]

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IC: Edith was aware. Painfully aware of her surroundings. To those around her, she must have looked dead, but she was very much alive. She was paralyzed by the poison... Juice of Hassadar if she wasn't mistaken. She had encountered it before in her past. In fact, she was forced to submit herself to regular doses during her training as a Master Alchemist. According to her scholars, if you could control the chemicals in your own body, then you could master any aspect of alchemy. She could remember being nursed on a bed in a state of paralysis on many occasions due to the poisons and elixirs she had been subjected to.

But it made no sense. Edith had mastered her body's control over Shargali and become practically immune to it. So why was she still in a state of absolute paralysis? She couldn't open her eyes... couldn't speak... couldn't move any of her appendages... she could hardly even breathe. Tapping into her other senses, she studied her surroundings as best she could. It felt like she was lying chained on a stone slab, a sacrificial one by the sounds of the demonic chanting around her. And there were also the sounds of fighting. Had the others made it to wherever she was? But there was something else. She sensed the presence of someone next to her.

Not being able to look, Edith tried to train all her thoughts and energy into a clairvoyance spell. It was then that she realized that all her energy was being drained… drained from her mind and spirit by Orloki… or was it Cain now? A feeling of hopelessness crept into her mind. Almost as quickly, so did a voice. Only a quiet whisper at first, too faint to understand. Then it grew louder and finally she could discern what she was hearing.

“Ah, so the whispers have turned into a solid voice. I was beginning to fear that it was already too late to make contact with you.”

Being used to telepathic speech, Edith questioned the voice. “Who are you?”

“I am Gnosis.”

“But, I never read from the book that Melora had… How…”

“You no longer need to. My power has now surpassed the petty link I needed with the book.”

“Why am I paralyzed? I am already aware of the poison in my veins. But I should not be affected by it. My training…”

“Training ceases to have substance when your strength is being sapped from your body by the Guardian. You have lost your control due to your weak state.”

It’s at this point that there is a loud crackling noise next to Edith, but it’s not enough to jar her from her concentration. (Obviously the skeleton landing on Melora.)

“So my situation is hopeless, Gnosis? Is that what you are telling me?”

“You surprise me for a mortal. I never would have thought that you of all people would have given up so easily. Especially with your motive for coming to this mountain.”

Edith flinches in her own mind. “I would have thought that you wouldn’t approve of the idea of revenge.”

“I can’t say that I really have much of a concept of it. It’s new to me.”

“Look, Gnosis. I don’t ask much of people. And I don’t ask for pity. But if you can find some way to help me just now, I would be eternally grateful to you. I came this far to avenge my father’s death and if necessary, die trying. But this wasn’t what I had in mind.”

“You actions are admirable. You don’t fear death, yet you ask to be saved. If only long enough to exact your “revenge” on the Guardian. I will help you and there is a chance I may be able to save you from death, but you must be prepared to embrace your demise should the fates decide it.”

“What will be, shall be. I am willing to embrace whatever my destiny brings.”

“So be it.”

With that, Gnosis went silent. For a minute Edith laid there listening to her surroundings. Then she became aware of the person next to her rising up off the table and a sudden demonic “YOU!” that could only have come from Orloki. Then sounds of someone else on the other side of her being helped up off the floor. It’s at that moment that she became conscious of an even stronger drain to her vital life’s energy, and for a moment she believed that the fates had decreed that she was to perish after all. However, that all changed when she heard a series of loud cracks coming from her bonds and then from the stone slab she was lying on.

The next instance, Edith realized she was lying on the ground facedown, on the icy floor of the chamber. Oddly enough, it wasn’t cold that she felt, but a soothing warmth that seemed to energize her. With a sudden gasp, she felt sensation throughout her whole body and realized she could finally open her eyes and move. She first saw the stone sacrificial slab, lying broken in half lengthwise beside her, with the bonds all shattered. Then the group of undead and cultists fighting each other. And finally, lifting her head slightly to where the voice of Orloki was coming from, her eyes rested on the foul being that she had been concentrating all her hated on since the death of her father. Orloki had taken over Cain’s body and was now using him as a shell for all his power.

That’s when it happened. A blinding light spewed forth from Sequoia, who had been building his power up all this time, unbeknownst to her...

------------------------------------------------

The next thing Edith remembered was being cold. Terribly cold. And then the sensation of being lifted. She opened her eyes and saw, of all people, Melora staring down at her.

“Unbelievable. You still live. I thought you were dead when I found you along the edge of the caldera.”

OOC: I thought I’d leave it here until the rest made their winding up posts. I’m not quite finished yet. I wanted to be sure of who else was alive and dead before I finished. Not to mention I am so exhausted right now that if I don't stop, I'll pass out at my desk.

[ Monday, March 19, 2007 16:56: Message edited by: Murder He Wrote ]

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"Keep your wits about you, the game is afoot!!" - Sherlock Holmes

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OOC: I won't make a final post for Cain. Some things are better left unanswered.

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"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying."
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"Where am I?" Was all that Edith could get out.

"You're on the edge of the caldera." Said Melora as she helped her to her feet.

"Caldera? What caldera? This mountain doesn't have a caldera."

Melora looked at her smugly. It was the first time Edith saw what could have been the beginnings of a smile on her normally expressionless face.

"Well, it does now."

As Edith looked behind Melora, she saw the enormous crater that dipped down into the mountain. She was right. The top of the mountain was gone. All that was left was a huge caldera. Melora checked her for injuries.

"Amazing, none of us sustained any injuries. That must have been SOME positive spell that Sequoia cast. Too bad none of us can remember what happened."

As Edith stared at a retreating figure on the other side of the caldera, she answered Melora reflexively.

"Yes... too bad. I take it that Brother Sequoia is alive then?"

"Yes. He's none the worse for wear."

"And what of Lisha... did she survive?"

"Yes, she did. She left us 15 minutes ago… with the book. I gave it to her."

"Oh. Well, I won't ask about that, it's none of my business. Too bad she's gone. I was thinking of giving her my extra Xyda flower."

"Your extra Xyda flower?"

Before she could respond to the query, Edith had looked down and was slightly taken aback by the sight of her one remaining knapsack on the ground close to where Melora had found her. She answered as she picked it up and put it on.

"When you and her were engaged in a conversation in the tunnels, she mentioned having used her rarest ingredient, a Xyda flower. I was going to give it to her if we got off the mountain alive. However, on reflection, I think it's best that she didn't get it. She strikes me as one who has an ulterior motive for everything. Probably serves some sort of a master."

"From what little I know of her, I think it's better that she didn't get it."

Edith looked at Melora inquisitively. "Could you use it?"

Melora shook her head. "I would be more than happy to take it off your hands, but I think you should keep it."

Looking down at the caldera, Edith pondered over the fate of Cain.

"Well, I'm sure that Cain is now at peace. I wonder what happened to Filbert. Have you seen him?"

"I think I saw him a while ago on the opposite side of the caldera, but I can't be sure."

"Speaking of him, where is Tuulentekija?"

Melora looked down at the ground with a faint hint of sadness. "I don't think he made it."

The words hit Edith like a brick and it must have shown visibly on her face. But instead of breaking down and crying, as most would have done, she just shed a tear and remained defiant against letting her emotions get the best of her.

"Well, at least he died a hero and is also now at peace. I guess there is nothing left for us to say but farewell."

They briefly shook hands and then Edith started on her journey down the mountain. Whispering under her breath as she watched her leave, Melora said, "Farewell, Edith."

-----------------------------------------

Edith returned to the village and continued her aristocratic life as a Master Alchemist. She erected a monument in memory of Cain, Tuulentekija, and all the others who were believed to have perished in the past on the Mountain of Shadows. She told people about her adventure in the mountain with her companions. When asked what had happened that caused the mountain top to explode, she would only say that the Curator had given her the gift of seeing the demise of Orloki, but her lips would be forever sealed as to the exact details.

OOC: The general consensus is that Tuulentekija is dead. However, that’s up to Frozen Feet, really. And I think the Filbert character could use some closure. I left a hint that he might be alive.

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"Keep your wits about you, the game is afoot!!" - Sherlock Holmes

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IC:

"Where am I?" He looked around. A hand reached out for him, then a face appeared, a smile. "Let me help you."

"Where am I, and..." Filbert was silent. he was standing now and looked into the face of the person that helped him up.

"Father?"

-----

Filbert woke up. He opened his eyes and looked at the sky above him. Father? Filbert quickly sprang up and looked around. He saw a huge smoking crater and some small figures around it. One was sort of walking away, two others were, Filbert thought, speaking to each other. So that's the end. So long, Cain. maybe we meet again. When we do, I will strike you with that poisoned dagger. I will kill you, one way or another. Filbert turned around and walked away. First back to the village, where he bought some stuff: a new sword, some new clothing. He also bought himself a sword. The daggers were nice, but not quite enough. He had learned how it isto be almost dead, and he didn't like the thought of it.

He walked out of the smithy, and marched out of the village, back to his home, back to his people, back to his beloved.

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...so, are we done here?

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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

I hate undead. I really, really, really, really hate undead. With a passion.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
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I thought we were done here already long ago, actually.

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Play and rate my scenarios:

Where the rivers meet
View my upcoming scenario: The Nephil Search: Escape.

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Posts: 3029 | Registered: Saturday, June 18 2005 07:00
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Like Nazgul, I've decided that Gnosis doesn't need a closing post. Everyone else did a much better job than I.

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Guild arena used for ritual combat, coming-of-age sacrifices, and as mosh pit for local alternative rock bands.
- Gortok (OotS #133)

[ Thursday, March 29, 2007 06:47: Message edited by: Dintiradan ]
Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
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Tuulentekija will remain dead. Maybe, in the distant future, an archeologist will find his frozen remains and wonder, 'What was this guy's story?'

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I have nothing more to do in this world, so I can go & pester the inhabitants of the next one with a pure concscience.
Posts: 617 | Registered: Tuesday, April 13 2004 07:00
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OOC: It is over now, but worth a stay of execution - at least for another three years until the next purge.

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