Saturday, April 21, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

the second half.


Sunlight streams into a room overlooking a blue-green bay. The warm sea breeze floats into the room, but Calixtus, a tall middle-aged priest, doesn’t notice. Near the open balcony, a birdcage stands, a brilliantly plumed songbird sings inside. Dressed in rich purple robes and surrounded by tomes and codices, Calixtus leafs through a sheaf of papers. He smiles as he allows himself to be distracted by the bird’s song and the warm sea breeze. A few minutes later a small bell rings. The bird stops singing and Calixtus shakes his head, coming out of his reverie. He hunches back over his desk and continues to leaf through the papers, now quickly and nervously. His study door opens and a older, though powerfully built, man enters, standing in front of the desk on an embellished purple and gold rug.

The man glowers at Calixtus as the reedy priest looks up. “You’ve found another way, I trust?” Hedrack spits impatiently as he looks around the well-appointed room. “Living in these plush surroundings hasn’t softened your brains, I hope”, his red-rimmed eyes seeming to bore twin holes in the reedy priest. “Those irksome adventurers recovered the Crook from my incompetent Third, Thukos. I trust you’ve summoned me away from the Inner Fane and the Champion’s ritual with good reason.”

“Prithee, another moment of patience, Highest. I have recorded it here, just after the Crook of Rao.” The scribe scans the parchment in front of him, his ink-stained index finger tracing the lines recorded on the vellum. He mumbles something under his breath, and you can distinctly make out the words ‘crook’, ‘shield’, ‘evil’, ‘demons’, and ‘banishment’.

The powerful man paces the rug and jerks suddenly when the songbird chirps. An amused smile on his face, he walks over to the songbird’s cage. The scribe’s finger stops tracing the lines of text, and points to a section of the vellum, looking up at Hedrack. “Here, milord. Brought into the treasury were two jewels. One, a priceless red ruby. The other, a colorless diamond of inestimable worth.”

Hedrack opens the birdcage and the bird flits out, landing on his hand. Calixtus watches nervously and then continues speaking. “The diamond was just recovered recently from our excavations in the Crater.” Calixtus points to a highly polished black metal box on his desk, its lid thrown back. Inside the box are the two gems.

A distant expression comes over the features of Hedrack, Highest of Doomdreamers. His eyes focus a moment later. “Ah, yes. The diamond. From that meddlesome silver dragon. He won’t be troubling us again. Good to know he was worth our time.” The bird chirps softly in his palm.

The scribe coughs politely. “Yes, well. These gems sat dark and forgotten for a time in the Cult’s treasury. Finally, last summer, I found record of them in the Great Athenaeum of Rauxes. The diamond is known as Nim’hwesta in the tongue of elves, white wind. The ruby is called Lhach’ril, gleaming flame. The gems are much more powerful than inspection alone revealed. They are gems of elemental power. Each, when used in the appropriate ritual, can be used as a keystone to call forth a Lord of Elemental Evil. Obviously, the ruby would represent fire, and the diamond...”

“…Air, or force, I presume.” Hedrack drawls.
“Yes, milord. Summoning an outsider of this magnitude would create magical energy strong enough to rupture planar seals. If an Elemental Lord was summoned in a place consecrated to our Lord, I believe it would weaken or destroy the seals imprisoning Holy Tharizdun.”

“Did your research happen to uncover the ritual for this, my boy?” An unearthly glint surfaces in Hedrack’s eyes. His hand closes around the songbird in his palm.
The priest flinches.
“Y.. Yes, milord, it is just b.. below, here,” Calixtus stutters as he points farther down in the text. “It’s little more than a glorified gate spell, but it does require a few, ahem, unique, material components, namely the brain of a powerful foe, and the gem, of course.”

“You’ve served Tharizdun well. Your reward will be great when He is finally released.” Hedrack releases his grip and the bird flies back to the cage.

Hedrack takes the parchment and the metal box, withdraws a small bag from his robe pocket, and pushes the items into the bag. The air around him shimmers for a few seconds and his outline seems to blur. A bell sounds, then he disappears.

Calixtus breathes a heavy sigh of relief and steps over to the birdcage, when the bird begins to sing again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Furyondian Kingsblade

This isn't the official second half, but I wanted to get this info out there before the other stuff. So, enjoy this for a day or so, then I'll post the rest.

Furyondian Kingsblade. The Furyondian Kingsblade was forged as Old Ferrond was rising from principality to nation. As Furyondy broke from the shackles of the Great Kingdom of Aerdi, new heroes began to emerge. In CY 254, old Viceroy Stinvri died, but not before severing ties with the Malachite Throne of the Great Kingdom. He named Thrommel I as his successor, and after many years of battle, Thrommel was crowned the first king of Furyondy, in CY 260. His scarred and pitted blade was reforged by dwarven weaponmasters and imbued with strong magical powers by Hieronean priests and wizards. Gems were embedded in the hilt and crosspiece, as well as a brilliant red gem set on the pommel.

The kings of Furyondy, all unwavering in their faith in Hieroneous, carried the bright blade to battle for over three centuries, and always the sword was brought back and entrusted to the new ruler at their coronation, after the old kings died. The Furyondian Kingsblade was revered above all other royal treasures, leading Furyondy to victory through the Aerdi War (CY 254-260), the Battle of the Relentless Horde (CY 320-336), and the Small (Short) War (CY 436-438). When Thrommel III took up the sword in his father’s stead, he marched to the Battle of Emridy Meadows (CY 570). At this point, the Furyondian blade vanished from history.

Friday, April 06, 2007

April Teaser, part 1.

Well. Not really a teaser. A bit of background.

Hedrack's blood was boiling. The slave across the room flinched when she dared to look at him and found him glaring back, through heavy-lidded eyes. “I need to think.”

“Satau dead? Thukos? And Chymon? It seems impossible. Especially with all of the funds that slobbering bastard had spent building his accursed clone.” He paced toward the slave and she lowered her gaze as he approached. He raised his hand high, then dropped it suddenly and strode quickly to his desk.

A sending. It’s time to harness Tharizdun’s power. It’s time to call forth His avatar.

Once at his desk, he emitted a barking laugh and opened a hidden drawer. He pulled out a curiously bent piece of copper wire and placed it between his thumb and forefinger, then spoke a few syllables. He then barked a word in a harsh dialect. There was an immediate reply in the same language. Hedrack and the other voice growled and barked in the language for a few moments, then he dropped the copper wire back onto his desk. While he had been speaking, the slave’s eyes grew wide. He sat down in an overstuffed armchair and looked again at the slave, smiling with sickening glee. In a short while, the body would be anointed and brought, and Tharizdun’s Champion would be raised again.

“Bring me that glass, slave.” He pointed at a half-full glass of wine near the bed. The nude blonde slave stepped down from her pedestal and walked gracefully over to the wineglass, her only ornamentation a bright coral necklace. Hedrack motioned quickly with his hand and a small pool of liquid appeared just under the woman’s feet. Her feet slipped from under her just as she lifted the wineglass from the table and she let out a small, surprised squeak. She thudded to the ground, now covered in the grease from Hedrack’s spell, and the glass seemed suspended in air for a moment before shattering on the smooth black basalt floor.

Hedrack laughed as the slave fell, her will dissolving. She was now huddled weeping uncontrollably on the floor. He walked over to her and extended a hand to help her up. He also picked up the jagged stem of the wineglass. “My dear Kelashein, this sort of clumsiness just won’t do. You failed me once as head of the Water Temple, allowing yourself to be captured and taken to the stronghold of that despicable godling, Pelor. I had the temple razed, had you rescued, along with another, who will soon serve infinitely more useful. I thought to give you a second chance here, under my care. More than you deserved. Stand.” He whipped his arm back and then quickly and powerfully sliced it through the air, still holding the jagged wineglass.

Blood spattered over the black basalt floor, which was greedily absorbed into the stone. Hedrack sliced the former water temple mistress over and over. When the winestem finally cracked, he threw it down and kicked what little life still flowed through her body away. After hefting the body into the tub, he stalked out of the room, smiling cruelly.

Stay tuned for part two, which will be coming in the next week or so.