Journal Posts

Tag: transition_stories

Kinguard - The historical doc of Nolan's adventure immediately following World of Orphel 1.0
You could blame the Tellon hospitality or the Jixana who made the wine but you are really to blame. The sea of Purple Feather wine in your stomach lulls you into fitful slumber. When you wake, the light of the suns is not yet in the sky but your room is being illuminated by a misty green light. You look up, expecting King Mallet's chamberlain and are startled when you see a small humanoid with gold skin. Memory delivers that this is a Phellin, a diminutive race of grass-dwellers that are normally silent. This one is not quiet, "Kinguad! You must follow me with all haste. I bear a message from the Almighty."

Knowing that Ollivus works in sometimes strange ways, you stand and begin to ready yourself. The Phellin speaks again, "Belt and arm fully, Kinguard. You will need to be ready." You suit up in full armor and grab Aurelin before returning to the Phellin's gaze. "We must tread like clouds. No sound or we will disturb the guards." You become suspicious and ask if Thelander is ready to go. "He is already on a furious ship, passing through the West Gate. You are alone on this endeavor. Follow."

Although you find the comments puzzling, you follow the little creature out the door. In the hall, he waves a hand and the stone wall to your left begins to shift open. The Phellin walks through the large hole in the wall and beckons for you to follow him. As you walk through, the wall closes behind and you watch the Phellin scurry through the night in Mallet Keep. He walks directly to a hole in the fortification, a hole formed right next to a sleeping Tellon Guard. As you near the hole, following the Phellin, you notice that the Tellon Guard's eyes are actually open but look as distant as the Isles of Vunorr. Passing through, you walk into the thick forest on the side of the mountain that lies behind the fortress. The Phellin slips through the ancient branches and bristling needles towards the edge of the mountainside. He pauses near the edge of the mountain and points a gnarled finger East. The midnight sky is filled with shadow but you can clearly make out the enormous form gliding around the side of the mountain. It is a Nightclaw, a black dragon - and it is flying away. "See..." says the Phellin, "it carries away the final piece in its belly, the hand you seek." Though it seems unlikely, you somehow know that this is indeed the dragon that once held your whole suit of armor in his belly. Now only the right hand remains and you aim to retrieve it, even if it means opening the belly of the beast yourself.

Suddenly, the Phellin breaks into a run around the side of the mountain, following the Nightclaw's laggard flight. You don't know what to do so you run as well, pushing through the branches on the side of the mountain, leaping from rock to rock, hanging on branches closely as you realize again how high Mallet Keep sits on the side of Redcrow Mountain. You run interminably after the Phellin, who continues to chase the Nightclaw as it wings around the mountain. How are you to engage the lizard and obtain your sainted glove? Your progress seems slow, but the Nightclaw moves no faster than a casual breeze and is easy to trail.

As you move swiftly between the foliage, you steal a glance down the side of the mountain and notice that you are now above the entrance to the Valley of R'Shattra. The wisps of clouds that circled the front of the mountain now turn pitch and churn with thunder. The ground below is black but all kinds of activity are taking place; vast flags and banners are waving in the confusing wind, explosions dot the barren landscape and thousands of teeming bodies are writhing or dancing or something throughout the grounds. You look up and then back down only to see that everything is gone and the ground appears a lovely vert with clear skies. You are almost a thousand feet up but somehow you can see everything very clearly.

Turning back to the pursuit, you lose sight of the Phellin, though you can still see the Nightclaw around the bend of the mountain. As you round the corner, the Phellin is standing at the end of the mountain cliff, beckoning towards the dragon. The Nightclaw languidly looks back from its flight path and then lunges from midair at the Phellin. As you run up to help, you feel the sweep of air coming from the Nightclaw's beating wings - only now do you realize it is nearly two hundred feet long and its wingspan is near twice its length. The Nightclaw snatches at the Phellin as you run up and pull Aurelin out. In a flash of movement, you are near the lashing claws when one of them grabs your torso. You shout at the beast as it takes off and flies deep into the Valley. In the distance, you see the Phellin standing on the edge of the cliff, dusting himself off and straightening his hat.

The clench of the Nightclaw is sharp and painful. If not for the Armor, the razors of his nails and scaled hide would be digging into your flesh. The wyrm sensibly grabbed you in a way to prevent use of your arms, making the blade in your arm useless. You hold Aurelin firmly, knowing he will play a role when you avenge this indignity.

The dragon begins to dive. Every instinct in your body demands that some action be taken to prevent this plunge but you are powerless to move and too confused to form any spellcraft. The force of wind envelops your body as you plummet through the clouds. In an instant, the claws suddenly loosen their grip and you begin to fall on your own. Anger strikes and you manage a furious swing of Aurelin that swipes off a small toe from the beaste. A rancorous shriek explodes from the wyrm as it changes course and begins to climb into the sky again. It looks back as it sails into the air, blistering fury in its eye. But it turns and lets the distance between its climbing glide and your spinning dive grow larger and larger. As the uneven ground gets closer, you howl to Ollivus, to Aurelin, to any being willing to listen. You cry Selendra's name, fearing she will never again touch your hand, your face. Darkness comes by means gentler than you would expect.

The next thing you remember is not waking but dreaming - although it is the sort of dreaming that transpires in the Valley – lethargic visions of confusion that may or may not happen in slumber. There was no sensation of landing but more of flight - of angling through empty space, space then filled with the faces and memories of your life. The voices are what you notice first; the replaying of countless comments, monologues, dialogues, words, words, words from throughout your time. Voices common and distant begin, finish and tear apart each other's sentences. One moment Selendra's soft voice coos a seduction, the next Claw's sharp timbre pronounces you a wanted man, Misty's cool tenor asks you a sardonic question and then the booming bass of Mire howls at you in combat. Whispers, gasps, lectures, jokes, knowing asides, insults, moving tributes, diplomatic speeches and dying wishes slither around your mind, words washing over one another so that ultimately, nothing is understandable.
Then, the visions. Everything comes at once; violence of the battlefield, pleasures of the bed chamber, ceremonial gatherings in grand halls, raucous laughter in seamy taverns. A Lukezikkar tears flesh off your compatriots, the head of the dark priest Voihav sits in a shallow pool of acid on a cavernous floor, an ancient green dragon merchant laughs at your naiveté, drug-addled Einnick paint words of power on Totorean's back, five dark assassin lords plot against each other and the world, dazed children climb out of a small town well, a tiny sea cave reveals the bustle of a city, followers of the earth god erect the beginning of the East's Sorrow. Sensation begins, heat is first, then cold, pain, titillation, numbness, then tickles, jitters, clamminess, wetness then moistness, dryness then roughness. Discord ensues, with all things, sights, sounds, feeling, sensations going wild. It goes on for hours, days, maybe years. More than anything, you cannot shake the ubiquitous feeling of deja vu.

After some time not known to you, a single unfamiliar voice pushes through the din. It is the sound of an old man, but the tone is reasonably kind, "You are not here of your own volition." You do not know how to respond. Every impulse rises, saying "Yes", saying "No", cursing, laughing, ignoring the voice. He speaks again, "I know you did not ask for these specters. You were brought here." The face of a man appears in the corner of your consciousness. The face is old but unusual; one eye is gold and the other blue, his beard grows white, gray, and black with hints of purple and his hair is long under a hat that looks like a black seashell - there is more, even something quite frightening, but you cannot trust this memory. "Follow this yeoman and do not fret if he should change occasionally. He will lead you out of the Valley. Know him by his violet glow. The impostors will not use this manner to imitate him. You may choose to return, if you wish, but you must make that decision outside our borders..."

As he said the word, a lithe male Einnick with a wide wingspan appears with a small torch. The violet glow about him distinguishes him from the hundreds of exact duplicates that appear a moment later. As he begins to walk to what is presumably the way out, all of the impostors walk in different directions, every one of the hundreds of thin faces casting you a wan eye and a waved hand pointing in the direction he is going. You gather yourself and focus on the one violet glow amongst the infinite mirrors of guides. You crawl at first, through swamp and grass, some badlands and hills but it is not seemingly very long until the Einnick holds out a hand to pull you towards a brightly lit grove beyond the present dusk. You are at the base of the back of Redcrow Mountain, at the very edge of the Valley. You want to walk forward but the tiny pleasures, the comfortable nothingness of the R'Shattra pull at you. Stay! Lie down and not be counted! Sit amongst your past in the endless convolutions and suppositions of nostalgia! This is joy! This is bliss!

You turn back, sizing up the value of remaining in the Valley. Was Selendra there? Was she somewhere amongst those visions? The Einnick pulls on your shoulder, yanking you towards the outside. You fight some, looking back at the comforts you enjoyed in the Valley - the confusions and images were often pleasant - but he throws you into the Bolborine sunlight.

"Wait!" you cry. "What is the day? How long has it been?"

The Einnick smiles. "You have heard too many tales, friend. Time in the Diss Crater may move slower, but here we use time efficiently. Every passing day to you was only moments, maybe half-moments to the world outside the Valley..." He stands with one foot in the Valley and one out in the sunlight. You can now see he is a most handsome Einnick, but unkempt. His wings have suffered many wounds and his clothing is nothing more than scraps strategically hanging about his body..

"Do my companions know where I am?" you ask.

"They are scattered to points here and there. Much has been transpiring in their lives."

"You know them?"

The Einnick betrays a small smile, "No, but my sire was a seer of some power. I have the gift, too. Mostly, I have wasted it away on Midrese, Otyn and the various substances of the Valley. But I can sometimes see where things are going on."

"Please let me know where they are. I will be in your debt."

The Einnick sits down and cross his legs, beckoning for you to do the same across from him. He puts out his hands, taking one of each of yours in his. "Close your eyes and empty your mind of other things. I will show you the faces of those you hold dear..."

The first one almost destroys you - it is Selendra's face, rivulets of tears making paths down her cheeks. She is standing on the bow of a large ship under the flag of Khindros. Sitting below her is Ulliana, who is knitting a long blanket with a pattern of black roses. She looks up from her handiwork occasionally to check on Selendra. The sorrow is clear on Ulliana's face but she is a warrior and knows she is supposed to hide pain. The course of their trip is entirely unclear but you can see that the ship is moving at an amazing clip. As the vision fades, you catch a glimpse of what looks like the East end of Windbane in the distance behind them.

The next vision is worse - Thelander hangs upside down, with all of his limbs tied in ceremonial fashion to the floor or the ceiling. His face is a mess; he has been badly beaten and none of his wounds have been attended. There is little blood, however. A scruffy looking Tellon sits in the corner, leaning his chair up against the wall, a hatchet at his side. The room appears to be moving very slowly, weaving to one side and then the other. A door bursts open, waking the Tellon who then runs over to meet the two hooded humanoids that enter. Both wear red garments with cowls over their heads and black sashes around their waist. Each carries a sable-wood bow and impossibly silly looking pole arms. "Cough up the gold, miscreant," demands the Tellon, "I've got to get back to the mountain before tomorrow. I ain't no fan of the high seas."

One hooded head turns to the Tellon, "You would not care to live in our homeland then, Tellon. It lies on the ocean floor now."

The Tellon looks away from the others, "Whatever, hand over my bounty on this guy and I will be on my way."

"Give him what he deserves, Brother Xuchen." The second hooded man pulls out a crossbow gun and fires at the Tellon, who takes it in the chest. The gruff old Tellon falls, cursing as he dies. The first hooded man walks over and looks over Thelander. "You will soon pay for the thing you bound to your flesh." He brandishes a knife and kneels to hold it in front of Thelander's face. Thelander is now awake and clearly frightened. "The Tellon was happy to merely turn you upside down, but I want more proof." He sticks the knife right into Thelander's chest, causing a furious howl. When the knife is pulled out - there is no blood, no stain. The hooded man laughs. "We have him. Take him to our ship and make sure the Brethren tie him down accord to Kadd code. It is a long trip home."

The next vision is a startling contrast. Totorean's face looks calm under a new beard and mustache. He kneels in a simple white robe in a line of fifty men. As the image becomes clear, you can see the row is merely one of hundreds (thousands?) lined up on a great verdant field that goes on for as far as you can see in all directions. You cannot hear the hum of words they chant (their mouths are all moving slowly) but you can see where the prayers are headed. The very god Gorinnar himself levitates above them in silence. He turns and seems to notice you watching. You panic but he laughs loudly. His eyes are kindly and they convey peace and good feelings - you know that Totorean is protected and content. The penitent worshippers below, Totorean included, do nothing differently, do not react in any way. You see Totorean's face up close. There is, indeed, nothing but piety and peace. The land they stand on is not Orphel but some heaven beyond the walks of normal men.

The face of Birch Silverwood is as still as Totorean's, but it is somewhere very different and covered with white powder. As the vision expands, you can see that her entire nude body is covered in the powder and that she is lying amongst the rubble of a wall, part of the wall itself. There is no emotion on her face and her eyes look vacant. Stone walls and rocks are all around her, as are others who look like sages and mages. Some are like her, naked, powdered and lying about the floor, in the walls and ceiling. Others are fully clothed and look to be more consciously wandering among the ruins. One of the sages sits down on what may be a body or perhaps a portion of the crater. He places a writing quill and sheets of parchment on Birch's hip. As he begins to write, you realize she is nothing more than scenery to him. Perhaps even to herself.

The last vision is just a sea of skeletons, of the dead on an enormous field under the expanse of darkness known as Gloomsbourough. No shift of bone and skull seems different from another - everything is broken up and empty of any of the attachments of life. There are no left over clothes, no weapons, no identifying characteristics. There is only a world of death piled high and wide on this darkened plain. Somehow, though, you know that the body of Misty is among the carnage, though you cannot pick her out by her lithe bone structure because none of the skeletons are complete.

You cry out as you feel your hands drop. The Einnick stands, having broken your link to the visions of your comrades. "My name is Tox. Actually, that's just the first syllable of forty-three. But it is the only one you need remember. You owe me for my services. I know that you do not have money now and I would not need it if you did. What I will want for this debt is not clear to me right now. But when I find out, I suspect you will know, too."

He begins to take flight, causing you to cry out, "Wait! Wait! I don't know what to do." He smiles and stays low in the sky, "That is a question that plagues all things, ituini. You're seen many of your options. You can walk back into the Valley, if you wish. Or climb back to the Tellon fortress above and find out what is happening there. Chase your friends, your lovers, whatever. Do nothing. It won't matter. The world has already fallen under the wings of the night." Tox continues to let his wings wave slowly in the calm wind.

Despite your expectations, he stays and waits for you to respond, "Are you going back to the Valley?" you ask. "No," says Tox, "I am ready for a change. Why? Are you seeking a guide?" You weigh in your mind the value of this faerie as a guide: his powers would be helpful in your quest to find your friends and undo the recent strange turns of event. But his reliability is largely suspect: you come from a background that derides the lazy, morally bankrupt attitudes of the Einnick - the faerie have little regard for Lodran values. But he is the only person on the empty plains around you. Most of Bolborine is desolate these days and you may not see another person for miles. Normal folk do not like to live near the Valley.

"Can you at least take me to the nearest coastal town? I need to pursue my wife." Selendra first, you say to yourself - you can find the others once you see her again.

"Well, we cannot travel down to the coast of Bolborine and Torn Daastraal. There are armies of the Night throughout the region and I know enough about you to think walking into that would be the end of us both."

"You know who I am?" you ask.

"Well, I know who I think you are but I don't see any reason to confirm it. But I can see the death-aura on your head. Anyone with the slightest touch of magery can see the mark they have sent you." You look up at your head and see nothing. "It is there, ituini, trust me. Any mercenaries with the power to notice that would tie you up but quick."

"Let them try," you say, regaining your composure at the promise of a threat to come. "Where can we go, then."

"Down to the Rhandony. It is one of the few regions in the area to not be occupied. It is protected from the Nightlords due to its close proximity to the city of Nyr. The Nightlords aren't ready to take on the Nine, or their army of Dylcyrin - some of whom live in the Rhadony. We should be safe there."

"How long will it take to get there?"

"Two days, if I fly with you as my cargo," says Tox.

"Will you be able to carry me in my armor?"

"With these, I will," says Tox, as he pulls out a large jar of what look like sharps spores. Before you can react, Tox pops one into his mouth. "They hurt going down but they give me the strength of a Malin." Tox senses your revulsion, "Well, I hope you aren't too squeamish that you won't take a little something because you will need to eat one of these..." As he speaks, Tox pulls out a thin reed of brown grass.

"What is that?" you ask.

"When pulled from the ground, farmers in this area call it ghenn. When sold on the streets in Orphel or Kaggoth, they call it nightstick. Either way, it is harmless. It just puts you into a sleep."

"Why would I take that?"

"Because you are easier to carry as dead weight than when you are awake. Also, it will dampen the death aura and we will not be detected."

You weigh the concern over this course of action and your trust of this Einnick. You realize you have no choice but to trust him. You pick the stick out of his hand, start to eat it and hope you will wake in a better place than this last time.

When you wake, you find that Tox has dropped you into a tavern called the Door In The Cloud, back in Mallet Keep. There is a small note in your hand, written in clumsy Khindra, “Rhadony is almost overrun so I just brought you back to Mallet. Better place for you to begin your next adventure. You can probably pick up some companions from here...”
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