Shattered Lands

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Azazel, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. [​IMG]

    Artunicka walked amongst the Black Forest. He knew the war was coming, the old texts said only one realm would survive. " what do you see?" He asked the old seer days ago. " even our sight is blind to the end the void covers all." He remembered this as he walked through the Forest. What would he do? His people practiced evil and dark arts they worked as a society. There was not murder or stealing amongst them, but these other realms were an abomination to his people. They were all enemies who did not see things as the lands of death did. The forest was dead the trees wilted over, they were never alive as the trees if the Earth lands were, but appeared as those do dead. The lands were covered with a light ash that fell as rain might in the Water lands. The black earth took in the ash and the trees fed off it. If tightly packed and ground the ash was their main liquid. There were whole ash falls on crumbled mountains. He breathed in the scent of sulfer, and continued walking.

    casting his eyes the sky here was always black with a moon the shined black. If a person from any other land were to venture here they would have a hard time just seeing, but his people were born for it. The marshes were the final resting place when someone died. He heard other lands buried in the earth or sea, burned in fires. If this were true he did not know. Here the marshes were great puts of depth unknown. Their green murky waters swallowed everything. In the distance he saw what looked like human servents tossing something in. The humans here were gray skinned and bald none lived after 25 and they were all slaves. They did not mind however they did as told and were not mistreated. His people resembled at least the humans as walking corpses just without the rot and wounds or smell.

    what was unique about them was they didn't have blood but a shiny dark substance in their bodies kept them alive. They didn't age after 25 . He marveled as he exited the Forest, into the small town where all manner or dark creature resided. His castle lay just beyond. But he had to make a stop at the library, most books were so old they talked of a peaceful world before the event. He had been researching the old books for hints of a lost library in his lands that might give him a key in the coming war. There were only 4 books left. The library was the second largest structure next to the Dark Stone that was his castle. It had structures of the blackest arts below ground, some which he found before they became popular knowledge. He made his way there as the ash fell.
  2. It felt as if she had been walking for hours. That was most probably due to the fact that this was exactly what she had done, but the drudgery of the scenery just seemed to add needless time and boredom to the journey. Four scouts had been sent out to survey the perimeter, and of course report on any undue activity. Everyone knew a war was coming, and so they were on high alert, seeking to find knowledge and prepare themselves before they were harmed too badly. Yes, there would be casualties, but minimising them was the idea. Not eliminating them altogether. That would take a miracle.

    Wendy trudged along with sweeping determination, jingling a little as the straps of her pack and her clothes rubbed against one another. It was almost the only sound in the area. That was a sure sign she was close. Now, what was it they had said? 'stick to our territory and you'll be fine'. If that wasn't true, well, they'd just lost themselves a loyal subject, even if she was far out of her depth even in a time of relative ease. Although Wendy was somewhat easily frightened, as she no doubt was at the moment, she was determined enough to shake her fear, for a little while at least.

    Another of her faults was that ability to wander off into the past without realising it. Perhaps it was a defence mechanism - remembering happier times. In any case, she had strayed far from the beaten track by the time she came around. The girl could scarcely see, and what she could focus on was dead and grey. It was her first experience of life outside the earth territory, and it was a disorienting one. With ash settling in her hair, changing it from a woody brown to yet more dingy black, Wendy aboutfaced and ran. She prayed this was the right direction, and also hoped she didn't inhale too much of this foreign place.
  3. The library was a black and twisted place. Many books needed approval to read, some were too powerful and their texts could drive a person insane. Others held arts so dark, if you were not skilled enough you might end up sacrificing what existence you held dear. The shelves were lined with tomes, covered in dust. His boots clicked off the grey marble floor as he went to the lower levels. A few wizards were down there and all acknowledged him with a nod. A turn of a key let him into a chamber only a few had access to. These books asked a price for their knowledge. He priced his finger and placed it in one of the four books he had yet to read. The dark substance vanished and the time opened with a groan. There were few words but this image stood out [​IMG] he was unsure about what to make of this was it a creature, or a statue? The texts said nothing

    he repeated the ritual on the other books. That was the only image in all four books the text were the same but something was off there were slight differences in the pictures. He spread out all four next to each other. The Dark King, as some called him studied the works. He could see clearly now the differences. Moon, a in the distance, a statue and an eclipse. What to make of this was unknown but he suspected that at least the tree might still be standing.The event that came before shall come again laying blackness and void to all but one. The one who proves worthy shall dominate and erase from reality the unworthy. that text was under all four pictures.

    "so it's true." He said to himself. " the event shall return, my people must survive " he placed the books back on the shelf and exited the chamber. When he reached the main level he headed to guards. " no one is to enter the Chamber of madness with out my authority." The two guards, who looked like black lizards in red armor, nodded their heads and tapped their chest in salute, before hurrying off to carry out his orders. He watched them go and them returned to the world outside.
  4. It wasn't long until Wendy became out of breath. She paused for a moment, coughing and spluttering in an effort to expel the hostile air that felt almost serrated to her fragile throat. The scout also did her level best to resist rubbing her irritated eyes, instead clenching her slight hands into tight fists. This was a pretty terrible situation, for even a seasoned traveller. Unfortunately for her, Wendy was not a veteran of the field, and so she was struggling to remain calm and in control. She was well aware that she was rapidly running out of options, and so she resolved to test out the only real option she had.

    With quite timid focus, Wendy reached out mentally, searching for any plantlife in the area. She had no idea if this would work, but it was worth a shot. Afterall, a shot in the dark is miles better than certain death. There was a tiny beacon of warmth in the distance, and Wendy made haste towards it. She wasn't entirely certain if this makeshift internal compass was working, but having faith in an emergency is one of the virtues of the desperate.

    Gradually the feeling of warmth and life grew until it was a steady pulse on the other side of the no mans land through which Wendy had inadvertently wandered. The feeling of death all around her slowly began to fade, just as the unfamiliar, sickening transition to neutral ground occurred. How she'd managed to miss it the first time, Wendy had no idea, not that she was going to ponder on it for too long. Nothing mattered now but getting back home.

    The journey was mercilessly short, once the girl had her trajectory planned. Within just a few minutes, the scout was back where she belonged, breathing harder than was perhaps warranted. It was the fear that had done it, far moreso than the ashy environment. Maybe she really wasn't cut out for this. Just beyond the veil, Wendy sagged against a tree, sitting in amongst the lush greenery and closing her green eyes. She imagined her meagre home, anticipating the excellent feeling of finally returning. Of course, there was the idiocy of her quest to report, but hopefully she'd be lucky and just get a slap on the wrist. As long as she was still alive, that was the main thing.
  5. Knowing he had long journey before he, he set foot towards his castle. The moon hovered above it a circle blacker then the night in the sky. The castle itself, Black Stone was ages beyond memmory. It rose to the skies the tip of the tallest section, just in the front, pierced the moon slightly. There was a giant spider-web window of red stained glass above the large double wooden doors. They were easily wider and taller then two men together. The castle was made of the same black stone of the mountains looking like black water. There were four towers at each corner with guard posts of goblin archers, they held the sharpest eyes of the creatures if the land, having evolved from the underground mines through the centuries.

    He walked up the steps and pushed open the large doors. As he stepped inside they swung closed with a small bang they sound echoed off the walls. The first part of his castle was a large circular chamber with a throne at the end. He used it for his town meetings, everyone had a voice and got to speak their piece about how things were and town matters. He considered it the worst part of his Lordship, but he knew it was necessary for he was not a tyrannical leader. A king could not rule without the backing of his subjects. The floors were a granite or red and silver, the walls had photos of great warriors of his people and of him upon them. Candle fixtures with purple or green flame lit the hallway beyond the meeting chamber. Sets of armor stood proud and chests displayed weapons as he strode through the hallway. After that a long staircase in a diamond shape room led up curving into two stair cases. You could stand at the top of either and watch those below. His chambers and a guest area for a few privileged were up those stairs as well as a physical training area.

    Below the castle were unholy artifacts and tomes he decided were not for public knowledge. As well as a vast personal library it was for his meditations and rituals. But right now he headed to his chambers to prepare for the search of the skeleton with the flute
  6. Pharus looked out beyond the boundaries of his donnus. It was a structure made of stones carved out of the mountainside that divided Iuris, the land of light, from other lands. Before him lay the slowly changing civilization to which he had molded over generations. He wished today would be like any other, but his companion—a human woman who had been destined as an oracle at the age of ten—knew otherwise. She, being the most recent of a long line, had served for longer than any other before her. She was twenty-nine years old and her time had come to offer her final gift.

    “My lord,” she said dully, “the priests are here and are ready to make their offering.” He looked back towards her tilting his head down slightly to the side.
    “So soon, we must part this world,” he said in a human tongue, “a bitter toll for the possession of mere eons.” The oracle frowned not knowing what he added in angelic. “Another cycle has come to a close.”
    “Do our labors displease you lord?”
    “Necessity, oracle, is a cruel mistress.” She could not comprehend him at times and shook her head sadly. Then she looked up at him with a spark of hope in her eyes. She knew what would be required of her today, but in her heart she only wanted to please him, and fulfill her wildest desires.
    “My lord!” she said looking up at his eyes, he standing a head taller.
    “Carry on then,” he said with resignation in his voice, “we needn’t draw this out. Indeed he might have seen something in her eyes for every oracle in every cycle perpetrated the same fault—a love that would never be actualized. She leaned against the door frame to the upper chamber of the donnus.
    “Today is my last, my lord. You know it, do you not?” He gave her no response. She stepped closer and partially disrobed, revealing her breasts, and he huffed in irritation. “If you have any love in me, any sense of humanity…” But knowing full well the effects of what she wanted he shouted at her.
    “I am not human woman!” he grabbed her roughly and spun her around, dragging her into the interior of his home. She struggled to wriggle free from his grasp but he continued to maintain his grip and then brought her into the sacrificing room down stairs. This room was curtained off by another stone wall and a single doorway from the room in which the priests had gathered. He threw her up against the meditation table and she let out a groan of pain as her stomach hit it. She looked at her master with derision because of the rejection she felt. She pushed herself off from the table, and thinking she could deny him what she was supposed to do, she folded her arms and turned away from him.

    But like all oracles, upon receiving her office, she was given a set of blue inked tattoos that were imbued with magic—forever chaining her to the service of her lord. When an oracle refused her duty after receiving these tattoos the ink began to burn without fire and without consuming the flesh, producing the effect of pain without death.
    The oracle, now refusing to sacrifice, and having not known this before, soon learned of her error. She shrieked both in terrified astonishment and from the intense pain she suddenly received. Behind the curtain, the priests heard her and worried. Some even began to doubt if their unseen prayers would be necessary.
    The oracle gritted her teeth as she clenched her fists in an attempt to brace herself. Then as the pain seemed to subside she spoke to the priests.
    “It’s alright everyone. I’m fine. Do not panic.” She turned around to look at her lord with a terrible expression of wonderment. And still not attending her duty the ink gave her another sharp pang across her body. “Begin the ceremony,” she commanded. Nothing occurred. She looked at [name], who only showed a great—although placid—sadness. The ink again sent out its warning and her fists clenched white and then subsided.
    “Bloody hell!” she said “I’ll start!” She climbed up on the meditation table and began the long rhythmic chant. The priests, being reassured began to sing along with her one by one. Slowly the house began to fill with the melody of happy singing, though no one—save the oracle and [name] was quite sure of what would come. As the singing reached a certain pitch the walls, marked with similar designs to that of the tattoos on the oracle’s body, began to glow an iridescent color. The walls began to reverberate and the vibration seemed to penetrate all that were singing and this vibration separated them from their physical forms. Their life force then channeled into the oracle until she too was filled with the vibration at which point her life too became that of pure essence. But because of her tattoos enchantments this life flowed into Pharus and he could feel himself become reinvigorated by it. Nothing was left but the clothes of the priests and the robe of the oracle.
    He collected the clothes.

    After, he reflected for a moment. What was the oracle’s name? He had spent ten years with her. Had he been a human they might have been married, but the only name he could remember now might not have been this oracles.

    He walked out into the grand reception hall of his house where several armor clad angels stood guard, awaiting news. He gave them a signal and they went out to announce their lord’s coming. A horn was blasted like thundering trumpets and all the peasants gathered together. Then [name] emerged carrying the clothes. The people began to shout praises, and begged for aid and help for this man, or that son, or blessings for their daughter’s marriage. He tightened his face, having to listen to the humans beg for aid rather than use what he had given them already. Then he raised his hand that he would speak.

    “My people, today fortune favors the industrious for a new cycle begins. We celebrate those who just now, through their rigorous effort and purity have attained the transcendence of ever lasting life.”

    A mighty cheer went up through the covenant of people and the whole scene was overcome with the sounds of joy and touting. “Those,” he continued, “who attained the perfect knowledge have gone on to search of the great ones who came before. And so gather before me children and rejoice, bask in their sacred remnants. Though it is always sad to see loved ones go away unexpectedly we shall take solace knowing that they will serve the light wherever they may end up.” With this he began to hand out the garb of the priests, and the men and women carved them up and began to gamble for who would take which piece.
    He turned away from this grim practice and began to walk out of the city. Tomorrow, he would choose a new set of priests and a new oracle to be trained but now he wanted to escape and so he retreated to the plains.

    The following day, he returned. The whole town was for some reason under lock down in his absence. A high ranking officer and some human generals approached him.
    “My liege,” said the angel, “we have disturbing news. A patrolman who had been out by the borders noticed that the creatures there have been disturbed recently. They speak of strange things that seem unnatural to our knowledge. We wish to know what you think we should do.”
    “Tell me all about this event as we walk back.”
    “Yes sir. Well you see, the officer on duty had taken to view the backlands as a measure of safety, as per your order some months back. It was not until recently though that the strange occurrences began. In this particular case, the officer wandered too close to the border because he had noticed something rather unfamiliar and unique. Among a lightless backdrop there was rather dark barked tree whose branches were aligned straight into the air and seemed to dissipate smudgedly at the upper extremes of it. Additionally, when the officer approached it however the tree seemed to vanish from sight. “

    “Very strange indeed. And you say this was at southend?”
    “And how could the man see this dark tree against a lightless backdrop?” The reporting angel looked at Pharus while knitting his brow in confusion.
    “It would seem, as he put it, that our world had a rather peculiar effect on the thing in the other location. It sort of illuminated it, and then—if I made a guess of it, seemed to destroy it. Shall I make my report and have a battalion on the case?”
    “No,” he said placing his fingers on his chin, “we shall do some study on it and see what history books have to say about such a thing, or indeed whether a place as this could exist. Were there any other peculiarities?”
    “Yes, there was one other,” said the human general, “but I hesitated to mention it because it involved the Northend Battalion.” Pharus looked at the officer speaking with anguish in his face. “They are missing.”
    “And you presumed to keep this information from me because?”
    “We haven’t found whether they were slain or just lost.”
    “Very well. You are dismissed.”
    “But sir?”
    “I said go. Leave me to my works.” The officers nodded and gave a salute and then departed.

    Pharus then took a quick leave towards his house and locked all the doors. Then as he proceeded down underneath the land he came to the great library. It was the place where he stored all the knowledge discovered or created by the priests, and all the scientia of the oracles past. He was sure that it was here that he would find his answers and so he began to turn the place upside down to find out what these signs meant. He opened one book and found only bits, lore and trifles. In another it was mere rhymes about the days before his time, written in a language not spoken any longer. As he studied this language though he began to understand more of these simple humans and the world they came from. The event which had occurred before the angel’s arrival was some sort of catalyst. It changed the humans in a way, changed the nature of the land. He turned over other books of the old language and found references, key phrases to a location of an unknown source of wisdom.

    “Impossible,” he said aloud to himself. At last he exhausted the priory knowledge and looked at the scientiae. If indeed answers were in these empathic murmurings, of which he gave the ability for,, how could he not know of such things. A ponderance indeed. He looked at them carefully. Ages and ages of whispers. He splayed them out to be read together. And then angrily scattered them. He knelt on the ground and closed his eyes to concentrate, and as he meditated on the issue the energies around him began to gather like moths drawn to a flame. They danced around him in that underground room and flicked at him as though tongues of flame babbling. Then, as though he had reached a critical point in reason, they began to interact with the pages. The spirit-like energies copied the many oracle words in the air and interposed them on each other. Pharus suddenly awoke from his trancelike state. He looked at the words before him glowing like embers. He read them to himself as quick as he could, committing them to memory before they suddenly burned themselves out of existence. He stood up and ascended the stairs with new found clarity.
    He unbolted the doors to his house and thrust them open. The people and guards looked startled. Obviously the rumor had gotten out. And by now fear of roaming, gnarled beasts rife with peculiar characteristics jumped from mouth to mouth. Though he would have liked to punish the person who let the word out, there was something needing to be done. He called a general meeting of his highest staff members and explained the two pronged approach he wished to take. The first step was to find and locate this mysterious other library and the key to which it opened. The second step was to explore the board worlds that separated the light from the other lands. He assigned a battalion of his strongest and fiercest warriors, human and angel alike and sent them to the furthest reaches to explore the boundaries. Both tasks were to be accomplished in a month’s time. And with that decided he sent the various groups to go about their task.
    During the interim however, to allay the people’s worry he announced that he would go about the ceremony of the Benedictine without delay. The people were gathered in the town square and he stood atop his balcony from his home. There he began to perform the ritual sermon which would choose his next oracle. This however, he now knew would be a most special generation, for she would be the lead in change.
  7. Reaching his chambers he proceeded in. A glance outside told him it was their daytime for a green hue melded with the darkness and the moon became a blood red. Citizens emerged from their homes to start their day working. He would have to hold one town meeting before heading out but fir now he collected a few items a blood ritual as well would need to be preformed. He changed into a fresher pair of his outfit so as to be sturdy on the travels. He also tied a pouch if ash to belt for consumption later. Placing his sword embedded with runes that focused on blood essence he headed to the lower levels of his castle.
    "My Lord, it is good to see you." A lizard guard said, it's tongue tasting the air.
    " I will not be staying long. Send a message to the town leaders to have our people gather in the Room of Discussion. They have three hours."
    "at once, my Lord." He tapped his chest and headed off as Artunicka headed down a twisting stairwell into the Chambers of Ritual. The room was octagon shaped with bookshelves all around it. In between those were chests filled with jewel or arcane objects. Reaching out he took a book, Atlas of Karthos, while he had many books detailing all creatures and specific regions, this book gave a general discriptions if everything or at least what was known. He had remembered the tree from the books picture earlier.

    turning the pages he found it at the end. It was said to appear at the Line between light and dark but it seemed to only appear to a few and it also seemed not to have a permanent location. He would head to those lands that Line that was neutral in power but beyond the mind in reality. People had been driven mad staring at it. He put those thoughts aside and placed the book into his coat. Another one was on Blood Magic, the darkest form of magick besides his own gift necromancy. He was trying to blend the arts, but was not able to yet. A necklace was retrieved that held a diamond filled with blood that would refill on its own. There was a glyph carved in the center if the room and he walked towards it kneeling. He opened the necklace and a drop of blood hit the glyph and started to expand filling the carving.

    A groan filled the room and a cold wind swept across the floor even though no window was open. The blood began to boil as he raised his arms wide both stretching out st his sides bent at the elbow slightly. His eyes closed he chanted in the language of vampyria known to a select few. "Et soon die naga. Burke tu ken na chiemben taru." In the universal language it meant "he who spills the blood, shall protect that which reflects in its depth. In this case his castle was reflected and unless another blood ritual was used against it, the castle could only be penetrated by ones who were bleeding. This menu when his town gathering was called they would all be pricked on the finger to show their sacrifice. If they were enemy and managed to get in their life force was exposed for the round had to remain open to stay inside. However since the blood in the necklace was his just magick infused and thus resembled the red blood of normal humans. The blood turned to steam and evaporated in the air. Outside a red done was faintly visible to the people but others could not see it if they walked into it it would resist them making them feel weak. The ritual was complete. Three hours had passed in whst seemed seconds. He headed to the Room of Discussion as it was being filled and took his throne. He wanted to get on with his task.
  8. Why was it that the oracle had to die? She didn’t know, and almost felt that it was none of her business. The world was governed by the higher beings that were the angels, and although sometimes it seemed cruel and generally brutal, there had to be some overwhelming reason for all of the death that occurred like clockwork. It was the dispersal of the priests robes that saddened her most, it seemed so callous, but there again, she was not free of guilt herself. She had attempted to grasp a scrap or two - had failed - of course - but that was hardly the point.

    Astraea wasn’t a heathen, far from it. She knew that without the blessing of the angels, humans in this land would have died out as soon as the event struck. It was only through the grace of the divine one that they survived in the land of light. It wasn’t necessarily an always pleasant existence, but what life ever was? Animals had to kill to survive, even had to abandon their brethren to ensure survival. There was no reason that humankind should escape this natural order of things.

    There was a brief time of unrest in the village, from what she had heard there always was after the ceremony in which the oracle and priests lost their lives. There was a vacuum that needed filling, and fast. It was difficult to imagine what might happen if the position was never filled. Riots? No. Just unrest. The uneasiness would build, of course, but the likelihood of a rebellion was so infinitesimally small that it was hardly worth contemplating. The beings that watched over and ruled them were good men, whatever the cost of their protection.

    It was unfortunate that during this time of unrest the news of dangerous beasts came to the people. Astraea had enough faith in the guards to hope that no one would be harmed too badly, but the more cynical, older generations had other ideas. As she walked the streets, running her various errands, the young girl heard ever wilder stories and predictions of mass killings. It was all broad speculation, but it seemed that most believed in the hysteria.

    Instead of panicking like some might have, the fifteen year old simply carried on as normal, though with an ear out. She was a cool and wily customer, her hazel eyes rarely startled, not outwardly so, anyway. At an early age Astraea had learned to keep her game face on, and perhaps as a result of this strategy, she was rapidly growing into a strong young woman.

    The years of her life so far had not been overly cruel. Of course, in any family there is bound to be tragedy, but this one had escaped relatively unscathed. The children had been healthy, the parents hard working and strong. They had not been overly violent, all in all, save for the cot death of a young baby brother, there had been no real trauma in the family.

    However, this was not something to be dwelling on today, for today the townsfolk had gathered for the selection of the newest in the succession of oracles. It was an occasion that would bring peace of mind to many a soul, and also ensure the stability of the land for however long this oracle remained in place.

    Astraea attended, having to stand on tiptoes in an effort to see what on earth was going on. She was not tall, and most likely never would be. The crown of her mouse brown head popped up every so often as she jumped, struggling in a sea of much larger elders. Eventually the girl gave up, simply satisfying herself with what little there was to see and hear.
  9. The guards opened the door and a green light reflected off the floors. Many different people came shuffling in, mostly heads of household who would pass on what they heard. The flooded in and then the doors were closed. Standing in a large crowd they were not packed in, but were less then arms length apart. Artunicka stood up and raised an arm.
    "Thank you all for gathering here today ." There were mutters of gratitude and praise. He sat down and clasped his hands together as he started out waiting for it to remain silent. He than spoke again.
    "Citizens if Karthos, I shall be taking leave after this. The city guard will keep order in my stay. My advisory council shall make all plans and arrangements as well. I have found information regarding the Event which shall help if the prophesied war comes to pass. Nothing shall change except my absence. If you have offerings make them now."
    a few groups stepped forward and gave what they thought of as valuable. One group stepped forward. " we offer you the thought bag. We shaped this for you. If you need anything think if it and it will be in the bag. But only one item a day and only general things, blood paper money that sort of thing." This group was 4 mutilated men. It was said their Gods mutilated themselves to create the world,and so they emulated them. Standing the king moved towards the group and they bowed. "Rise." He said lifting his hand. "This is a gift I truly can use, you may stay here for your offerings." When all left the group remained and was escorted to guest chambers. Artunicka headed outside and wandered into the Black Forest,for over a day he wandered and finally rested at a small circle of stone.

    The circle was large enough so that two people sitting in it could face each other. It looked old and was unsure of its purpose. Making a small circle himself and after gathering kindling he struck two rocks together. Both had an X carved into them, or they would not have been able to spark. The fire grew a green flame that dance and chased away the cold. Reaching into his coat he pulled out the atlas. Flipping through pages he found the tree he had some way to go before he reached the Line and what he would find there, how big it was how long could he travel it or what was on the other side he did not know, but that is where the tree was. The back of the book held blank pages for him to write and do he did with with an ink well from his pocket.

    day 1 cycle 12 moons
    i have walked for over a day now and feel no closer to this tree. In another day or two I will be at the outskirts of my realm, further then I have ventured before there are dark creatures in hidden places that this book warns of I will not be able to survive encounters with some but I believe our paths will cross. Until then I know my people are safe and I move towards the Line.
  10. Beginning the ritual of Benedictus, Pharus held up his hand in a speaking motion. The crowd grew silent in anticipation for the first verse. In his hand he produced a forked piece of metal which he struck on the edge of the balcony. It reverberated with a singing tune and began to light up. He began to sing the opening verses of the Hymn of Lucens. For the girl Astraea, this would be the first ceremony she would be in. The magic of the fork began to materialize and waft about the air as though there was a breeze.
    “Gloria, spiritu sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.” At this the crowd fervently began to sing this in canonic styles of rows.
    “Lux aeterna luceat eis Domine cum sanctis. Tu is in aeternum qui a pius sumus,” he said quieting the crowd. “De profundus clamavi ad te,” the responded “Domine; domine” and he continued “exaudi vocem meam. Lux.”
    At this exhortation an older woman fell back unconscious from ‘feeling’ the spirit of her lord. Some others caught her and fanned her that she might revive. This fortunately allowed Astraea to see better.
    “Fiant aures tuae intendentes in vocem deprecationis meae.”
    The crowd responded with the customary “Cum sanctis lux!” And indeed, another small event seemed to occur, where a once quite sane human began to act irrationally and burst into tears, beating his chest and tearing out his hair screaming ‘I am worthy! I am worthy!’ Pharus did not acknowledge him as the singing seemed to make the magic flow in an awkward way, as though it didn’t know who to choose.
    “Si iniquitates observaveris, domine,” the people began to cry out, “quis sustine bit? Qui apud te propitatio est, ut time amus te.” Suddenly the magic light shot violently and seemed to jump from person to person, touching every single person in the square. As it hit some they fell violently to the ground and convulsed until the passed out. Others simply felt a jolt or a tingle touching them. Pharus seemed to be concentrating as he sang the final lines. They were the most difficult to say.
    “Sustinuit anima mea in verbo eius; speravit anima mea in domina magna quam custodies auroram!” At this the holy magic made its final selection as it angled itself right for Astraea. The holy magic struck her like lightning. But it did not hurt. Instead, it felt as though her heart were being wrapped by a warm blanket of the finest down. Pharus looked her over from up on high and observed her qualities sternly. She had been selected yes, but she was not yet the Oracle, only one who might become it. The crowd of people turned to look at her as if she did something out of sorts. Some twisted their face in consternation that this girl was chosen over them. Some, who were men, cursed that the oracle should always be chosen out of the women. They were merely power hungry or else loutish and crude. Others wished to touch her and so they grabbed at clothing and wanted to bask in the warmness of her presence. These were the borderline fanatics, like the man who screamed that he was worthy. Pharus held up his hands to silence the square and they did, as they all looked up to him.
    “The one who may become the Oracle has clearly been chosen. But there is no time to celebrate just yet. Bring her to the meditation chamber and gather those men whom were struck by the spirit of Benedictus. They shall be learned to their order and purpose.” With that he turned away and retreated into his home. The crowd suddenly spread wide as a contingent of the angelic guard approached. One of the captains placed his hand, from behind her, on Astraea’s shoulder. He gazed down at her with a look that some would call sour. But it seemed to be the common expression among most angels, with the exception of Pharus.
    “My lady,” he said, “you shall accompany us to the ceremonial place.” The angelic captain’s name was Efferus.
  11. The girl was frightened. The crowd was huge, and the electricity that seemed to be flowing around the air filled her lungs with yet more nervous energy, that gradually turned to anticipation of the ceremony. She had heard stories, many of which were filled with embellishment - or so she assumed. The story tellers of the settlement were masters of stretching the truth, and so Astraea came to the gathering expecting much less than the stories foretold.

    As soon as the ceremony began in earnest, Astraea stopped moving almost completely. The feeling in the crowd became uniform, their attentions focused solely on the words of the ritual, and of course the one speaking them. It was as if nothing else in the world existed, or ever would. Astraea was even so focused that she hardly even noticed the woman fainting dead away, instead simply manoeuvering herself into the space that was now left, gazing upward reverently.

    The people seemed to become ever more intent on the angel, straining to hear every word he said, and seeing every nuance of his posture. It was all a little bit hysterical, and perhaps for good reason. As the climax began to commence, and the light started shooting around as Astraea assumed it always did, the pressure of this ceremony just seemed to be too much, and the floodwaters broke.

    The bolt that flew towards Astraea should have been terrifying, but she was so taken in by the reverence of the crowd that her survival instincts just seemed to fail. Of course, by the time she might have realised the error, that feeling of warmth had swaddled her completely. A heady delight at the strange sensation that had engulfed her caused her to stumble ever so slightly, only to be propped up by someone who had taken it upon themselves to try and clutch her for just a moment.

    So. What the stories had said were true. Astraea only really understood the reality of the situation when the guard of angels split the crowd effortlessly, making their way towards her. Feeling somewhat intimidated by the captian, Astraea averted her eyes without really registering that she was doing this. However, once he spoke, the young girl did look him in the eye, still a little thunderstruck, but doing her level best to face this with bravery.

    “Yes.” Was all she could muster by way of word, though she would have liked to be able to report that she had answered with something more eloquent. But there again, did her word really matter? There was little choice in the matter, now that she had been struck, and so whatever she had responded with, the outcome would have been the same. She obediently proceeded to this ceremonial place, awaiting whatever destiny had chosen for her.
  12. Staring into the fire he reflected on the past. Before he was Lord another ruled. Xanatos a tyrannical vampire. The people lived in fear and suffering. He led a failed rebellion a simple mortal who knew rune magick. It wasn't enough, instead of killing him Xanstos changed him into a vampyre so as to better control him and keep chains on the populace. For awhile it worked, until Artunicka used the runes and blood magick and invented Necromancy. This allowed him to control any vampyre who feasted on red blood. He easily dispatched Xanatos making him wither and turn to dust. The people crowned him King. After years of study he was able to survive without feeding, but the thirst was still there and feeding would make me stronger and faster. He simply chose not to. Practicing necromancy on himself he overcame the usual weaknesses of his species, such as light and silver. He was immortal, but could still be killed by removal of his head or being cut in half minor wounds healed quick major wounds took time. So knowing he could die, and that doing so might make him return as a ghost of his land, he cherished his life. He studied death and blood, but had no desire to experience it.

    He stood and stamped out his fire. Far over the horizon he saw...light. He did not know what to make of this. He had heard rumors of lands different then his own, but he had never been there, he wasn't sure he believed it. Then again he was moving to the Line and that itself was only mythos, so maybe the rumors were true. As the ashes kicked up and the fire died, he collected the ashes and consumed them raw. As vampyre he needed blood, or used to but the ash was needed so not to weaken it was more for nutritional value. As where blood was more an energy and power booster to a limited degree no mater how much was consumed. After he was finished he headed west .

    After a few miles the Forest changed into a mountain area,the light was brighter but still more then a few days travel. Then he heard a noise behind him and spun around half crouched as the werewolf lunged its muzzle foaming as it snapped. It's arms were outstretched and the necromancer lashed out at its knee sending the creature sprawling to the ground. It stood up and clawed at him. He took two steps back each to avoid a blow. Raising his fists in a stance he grinned. After all it was nice to see some creatures would pose entertainment, it would be his training away from the castle. These creatures were not his people they were not citizens of Karthos, these were feral beasts, like the giant cave trolls,or the Wraiths, deceased spirits who enjoyed fighting so much they could not rest in the afterlife,all life they used to live forgotten but their skill. Those he would have to use magick on such as his rune sword. The were wolf was much simpler. He sent a right and a left jab at the creatures face snapping its head back. The creature was taller then him and stronger then most vampyres, but his age and training prepared him. Before the creature could recover he tossed out a right and left hook to its ribs. The cracking of bone was quickly covered as it howled in pain. Stepping forward with his right four he swung his right elbow into the creatures neck snapping it. It crumbled to the floor it would soon be a meal to others. Turning he headed up up a steep hillside that led to a mountain that sparkled dark blue like a diamond. Overhead the black moon sparkled and watched.
  13. The captain, Efferus cleared his throat and gently took her hand even though his facial expression did not change. There always seemed to be tension between the humans and the angels. But the angels never mistreated the humans in any fashion. Efferus walked with a slow but sure step, and his acontingent followed behind with an exagerated slowness to give the two space.

    THe entire time they walked up the steady grade of the mound's face, Efferus never spoke to her. However, he did catch her once when she was about to trip over some rocks. The large building that was Pharus' donnus was an emmense building made of marble varying in color. It alternated green and white on the ouside. The roof however was far more extravegant. It was made of golden spires that were butressed by the forms of angels and fearful humans cowering in a freeze. On the very surface of the central spire were pairs of eyes looking in all directions as if to warn that Pharus was watching.

    Efferus enetered the building, and guiding Astraea into the reception hall. It was large inside. Larger than someone might have guessed. In the center was a large square stair case that rose only a few feet off the ground. To each side were silky colored sheets of various colors that billowed in the gentle breeze that wafted through. Pharus was standing there with his back turned to the entrance. The door moaned as it was heavy when they enetered and so Pharus turned his head and looked at the two from his peripheral.

    Efferus approached with the girl and stopped a few feet away.
    "My lord, I have brought the girl as you said."
    "And the men touched by the magic?"
    "Taken to the monestary."
    "Very good. Now leave me and the girl."
    "My lord." Efferus bowed to him and Pharus now faced the girl.
    "Well my dear, it seems today is full of surprise. Tell me about yourself before we begin. And then I will give you a chance to ask anything of me."
  14. Not overly fond of this angel, Astraea did allow herself to be conducted away, but did not offer any thanks when Efferus saved her from falling when she stumbled. The girl was still stunned, processing this idea of being chosen. It was an honour, of course, and bubbling away in a cauldron at the back of her mind, a little ounce of gloating pride boiled slowly, but that would never become a strong aspect of this girl. Even when triumph had been achieved solely by her own will and skill, the girl had not felt too much pride. It was an ugly emotion when directed toward oneself, and so Astraea reserved this only to be projected outwardly.

    Those eyes made her uneasy. The brief flurry of relative confidence that had built during the gentle climb, fled as if from a great predator, as quickly as it had come. The combination of ever watchful eyes and the frozen figures of those fearful people did nothing to allay any fears that the girl might have had. It was hardly an inviting design. However, there was no choice but to continue on, soon entering the large room in which Pharus stood. At least this reception hall was more appealingly adorned. Of course, now that she was inside and faced with the angel she had never even thought to speak with, Astraea focused on little else.

    Until today, Pharus had been unreal. He had been the figurehead of the land, a man of which tales were told, nothing more. Today, he had become real, and no doubt it was a slight shock on the system of this nondescript girl. There was nothing all that interesting about her life, which made this request to divulge the secrets of who she was all the more difficult. The moment Efferus had left, Astraea had felt pressure descend upon her shoulders, and only a couple of years ago, it would have been enough to make the girl cry. But today she was beginning to become a young woman, and conducted herself as such.

    "Yes. Of course, My Lord." It seemed the appropriate, reverent response. Astraea spoke stiffly at first, focusing on trying not to offend or anger, for she did not wish to know what the outcome would be if she did so. "My name is Astraea. My father works the fields, along with my elder brother. I help where I can, wherever I am needed. I'll be sixteen in seven months." As she spoke, her words became cruder and less respectful. The nerves stripped the mask of formality completely, instead revealing the true form of the girl. She was one of many ordinary peasants. Nothing all that interesting had happened in her life, aside from the time she caught a baby bird and nursed it for days, before her dear old brother took it upon himself to alert mother. No doubt, it did not end well.

    "I am sorry. There is very little to say." To Astraea, there was nothing of note to bother Pharus with, and so she ommitted it all, preferring to play it safe, rather than boring this illustrious leader.
  15. Pharus looked at Astraea with a small bit of amusement. There was a nervousness in her which all new oracles displayed. It was understandable he supposed, but he did not think on the reasons why. They were unimportant. He took a step down from where he stood and as he did it seemed as though the whole of the environment changed around the two of them. The air around Pharus seemed to ripple as though he were in water, but the air retained its non-physical attributes. With each step the world around them seemed to be stripped away of its reality until Pharus stood directly in front of the young girl. He was very much taller than her, standing about 6’4. His golden curls shone brightly in the light of their land, and his bright youthful face seemed to be unchanged since the first day he had attained the personhood. He did not raise a hand to her but his aura seemed envelope her. It was similar to that of the feeling she felt from the ceremony, only more complete.
    Indeed this was so, because the oracle since her election became something neither human nor angel. Her essence became that in tune with the void itself or at least mimicing it the best she could. And in this way the aura of Pharus and the soul of Astraea now seemed to balance each other. The energy that connected the two of them instantly shared the information of her knowledge before hand—but it would only last as long as their auras interacted with one another.
    “All that you see here Astraea was once a vast continuous land of plains. Your people here were of the simplest order until we angels arrived. Since then we have been nothing but a boon to your kind, providing order and a semblance and protection. The status of the Oracle grants you an infinite bounty of knowledge—particularly of all those who came before you. But to ascertain this you must make the first step towards the mastery of your skill. As your benefactor and lord, I will be here to help you, but the work done shall be all on you. Do you understand?” She shook her head in bewildered acceptance but said nothing. “Very well. We shall begin your training.” He then began to walk up the stairs towards a door. The door would open up to the priest’s worship room. It was dim, but feebly lit by thousands of age old candles that flickered. When Astraea entered the room instantly would react and would send her out of time and space to the plane of existence wherein the void originated. She would not actually be there of feel the vast separation and the coldness of being out of body. She would still be able to hear Pharus speak to her.
  16. That feeling was like a drug. It was as if everything was suddenly alright with the world, seen through a rose tinted lens. It made Astraea think of frosty nights in front of the fire. Even the harshest of storms appeared almost inviting, so long as that crackling hearth emanated its warmth around the room. It was only a crude picture in her minds eye, and hardly fit to describe the true feeling, but she was doing what she could to work with the memories she posessed.

    Had she felt more able to move, Astraea may have begun wringing her hands or shuffling from foot to foot in her nervousness. However, for the time being the girl remained fairly well rooted to the floor, simply staring up at Pharus in thinly veiled awe. She had no doubt that she looked like a dumb fool who has wandered into a scholarly library rather than the local taphouse. The one who took several moments to diferentiate between the scent of crumpled old papers and the stale swill soaked into the floorboards. It was a ridiculous thought, almost enough to bring out a laugh, but not quite.

    Thankfully her ponderings on fools were interrupted by the somewhat intimidating approach of the angel. His words were the only truth. As far as Astraea could see, there was no reason to deny anything that was said, and so of course, she reacted in the same fashion she seemed to be favouring during this heady event. The movement of her head was jerky at best, and soon the gesture ended. It was a moment after Pharus had moved off that the girl thought to follow, of course doing so in a hurried series of steps that covered little ground compared to the lord.

    The shock as a small foot stepped through the doorway to the priests chamber was almost too much. All that had occurred today had been unexpected, but none of it had involved such a vast momentary change. Astraea was wide eyed, heart pounding in an immediate fear response that was perhaps not unwarranted. However, she did not panic. Her hazel eyes wandered carefully, she was on full alert, though how effective that state would be remained to be seen.
  17. The mountain were tougher then he expected, not many hand holds and a few of the foot holds broke causing him to grip the rock tighter. If he fell it would mean death for he must have been legions into the sky the forest of the ground a mere speak. He paused and looked sideways. The backdrop of his land was amazing and it was a rare moment of peace for him. That was soon to change he found as he made it to the top, the blue rock shining beneath his feet. There were a group of four trolls sitting at a camp fire. Upon hearing his approach they grabbed axes and stood at the ready.
    "Where do you think your going?" One of them said "you gotta pay the toll 5,000 grains of ash."
    the king smiled, they had no clue whom they addressed but he reached into his thought bag and produced a canister of the ash and tossed it at them. " if you can tell me where the Line is , there may be more on my return trip."
    The ash was caught easily. " it's a league or so once you reach the bottom of this here mountain."
    Artunicka had suspected that was the case but reassurance was not a bad thing. He strode past them and continued onward.
  18. All about Astraea there seemed to be an infinire void of space. She could peer out if she so chose and see all that had come before in the memory of oracle. Pharus' clarion voice called out to her.
    "If you will but open your heart and mind you shall see what oracles can do." She would do so (for the sake of progression ) but the result was far more altering than previous done so. Immediately before her wisdom and though flash each of the lives of the ten oracles. She could see not only the truth of what became of their sacrifice. And as odd as it was the thought would occur to her that in her own life she had been previously gifted with glimpses of oracular clarity, what ever form they took.

    Before her now stretched a chasm deep and wide. On one side she could see her own self, older, a strong leader of an army and a mother of a child golden as the son. From where she stood that would seem far ahead and only one of many out comes. Here Pharus stepped beside her and she saw him for what he was. It was terrible, and yet compassionate at the same. His brillancy radiated from a faceless head and a thousand wings reached out, encompassing the surety of his people and the humans. As fear striking as this was, and the true reason of his source the true oracle--maybe Astraea--would then see that the necessity of human cost was to ensure the lives of their civilization. She too would know that she and Pharus were inextricably bonded. She would accept this and walk forward towards what ever unique destiny she saw. For every oracle saw a different visage of her own future and this was to be the real test.
  19. It was difficult, and a part of Astraea held back, clinging to the known world of her childhood, despite the fact that it was horrendously dull in comparison to this new realm. The idea of leaving a plain, simple and safe life behind had always been attractive whilst growing up - as it was to most children - but faced with the grim reality of it, the girl had to hesitate. Of course, perhaps leaping into it without thinking would have been a worse sign. There is a fine line between boldness and foolishness. Astraea endeavoured never to cross this threshold, and so reserved a few ounces of her old self, even as she opened herself to the void.

    The moment that door opened, it was as if an infinite of knowledge swooped inside her, lodging itself within any crevice it could find. Of course, there was a limit to this, and it did not last forever, but it was still an overwhelming experience. The lives of ten women, all of which met the same end. But it was not frightening. It was the natural order of things. Sacrifice would always be necessary, and although Astraea maintained that it should not be accepted as a blessing alone, it did at least seem clearer now.

    This vision, or whatever it might be, a potential future so alien that it was almost unrecognisable, it was full of information that now seemed obvious, as well as yet more questions left unanswered. But was that not the way of the world? The true sight of Pharus was at first enough to make the girl wish to look away, though she did not. She soon saw the altruism in the figure, the necessity in its horror. But these words were hardly fitting. Perhaps a human mind could not interpret an angels true form accurately, for they were of course entirely separare races.
  20. Pharus walked ahead of Astraea and proceeded towards the images that only she saw. And as he reached across the chasm he pierced through the ethereal version of Astraea's future.
    "Come, if you take the mantle." He said stoically. Then he was on the other side. When she would follow she would emerge from that dark place and see herself in the mediation table, to which belonged the many oracles. There it would be that the final stage of this trial would take place. It would be the most terrible and long lasting event in her life. He waited for her to emerge if she so chose. From this point on, things would go forward to dawn.