The Southern Gate.

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by The Underdark Rises, Oct 26, 2013.

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    Howling winds raced across the wasteland, as clouds of sand were sent hurling through the arid scene. The air was dry, the sun at its peak. No amount of cloud coverage could shield those foolish enough to wander the desert from its unforgiving blistering rays. This was our world, an environment as harsh and strong as those that lingered within her rigid bosom. In the distance, if one dared to glance between two giant peaks, could be seen a giant wall of steel. This barrier served as the first and only line of defense against those who inhabit the southern half of the realm.

    It is said that only the strongest can call her home, that only those crazy enough to sacrifice it all can survive in those harden walls. But their strength came not just from their resolve, nor selflessness. But also from their leader, a fearless tactician who went by the name of “The Viper King.”

    They claim with an iron and firm hand he disciplined his troops, teaching them to live by a single code. That here in the desert, where even God’s dare not tread. Only the strong can survive, and only the truly exceptional will rise to greatness. Within this massive fortress could be found the newest toys in development; this facility served two primary purposes. The first to defend the southern sector, the second to test all new technology. But there was a third purpose; one never written in any record. But one that resonated in the hearts of those truly foolish enough to call it home…

    That those who stand post within Fort Lunare; are forever changed. This wall, it had a way of changing people. And those unable to adapt perished, while the survivors had the unfortunate luck of living on. The third and final purpose was to break the human soul…

    Just outside of this military structure, could be found a lively town. An oasis of hope in an otherwise bleak realm. This civilization thrived off the empires involvement and development, and sold expensive ivory and salt to produce great wealth. Many dare to cross the desert in hope of finding a new life. Only to be claimed by the howling winds and flesh tearing sandstorms. If somehow one managed to elude the natural elements, the predators of this land would prove equally terrifying. Before the arrival of the viper king, the region was in civil war. And for a time life seemed impossible and extinction of human and mer alike all but inevitable. But one day, a traveler crossed the desert on foot alone.

    A beast traversed war torn lands; defying the odds and being the first to make the journey alone in nearly a century. During such trying times this wanderer could only follow its heart. This stranger took over the fort, killing the general in a duel and assuming control of the entire operation. At first the empire resisted the new order, but came to accept it when the fort endured countless waves of sandmer and orc raiders. Surrounded on both fronts they hid as many citizens as possible, and fought a two front battle. Not only did they survive, but the heavy loses the enemies suffered prevented any further military actions for years to come. Allowing the newly constructed city time to be completed and fortified.

    This hero of the people received the title of “The Viper King” a symbol of local myth that hearkened toward an old prophecy. A prophecy that spoke of a foreign wanderer, who would change the desert and bring hope that would last an eternity. And though many sung this king praises, he seldom relishes in it or is seen existing those steel walls. Word quickly spread of this viper, a man said to be as firm, enduring and cunning as the giant worms that crawl beneath the dunes. Though what few knew to be true was that this so called king was no man, rather a woman…

    The recent peace did little to weaken the men, their eyes ever vigilant as they continued to prepare for the next big war. As their fearless leader patrolled the narrow metal passageways. Her face scarred, as one eye forever was stained and doomed to become engulfed in a milky glow. Her bodice was covered in heavy armor, which did little to flatter her figure. As nested between her side and her forearm could be seen a steel helmet with an intricate mask to shield her face. As she patrolled the wall, every soldier she passed immediately dropped what they were doing to salute her. Refusing to move or break the salute until such a time as she passed them by.

    “The report sir!” A large ox of a man bellowed, walking along side of her while handing her a folder. Casually her eyes scanned over the document before tossing it to the side. The man trying his best to catch and keep the order of the papers intact. “Ha! Let the Sandmer try and take this fort again, I assure you I won’t spare as many this time” She spoke so confidently, so matter of fact like. Before kicking the door to her coc open, and nesting on her iron chair. “But of course sir! Also sir…” The ox paused, regathering his resolve. “Should we open the gates for more recruits?” His suggestion was sound, their numbers have dwindled a bit over the last few conflicts, though Sonja wasn’t find of welcoming strangers into the fold.

    “Do as you’d like, I promise to try not and scare them off. Though to be blint, if they are that easily scared off by my presence than they don’t have the backbone or balls to serve under my command!” She boasted, though none in the room could refute her arrogance. For her logic was sound, if not a bit crude.
  2. The sound of mechanisms moving alerted the recruits that stood behind the large gate, awaiting the moment they laid eyes upon their fearless leader and the powerful militia that served under him. Before this moment, none had laid eyes upon this part of the city rather than the occasional blacksmith and food supplier. The military always came first with supplies; whatever was left was distributed amongst the people. Often, considering the dry heated area they resided in, the amount of supplies dwindled quickly. Rarely was there water amongst the supplies as any that was in the area was quickly evaporating. They had to use it sparingly, when needed, and as expected, the ones who retrieved it were the first ones to get it.

    The gate opened agonizingly slow for the most of the recruits. They were anxious. Most had not ceased their movement since the moment they arrived, twiddling their thumbs and constantly moving around in anticipation. It was too much for them to handle, in all honesty, but now they had no choice. As the gate fully opened, the recruits were beckoned inside. Once they entered, they stood side by side with arms firmly behind their backs. A man eyed each of the recruits, glaring at every single one he passed until he reached the end. For some, it took everything in their power to appear fearless and to keep their knees from buckling. There were a ser few, though, that kept their composure and stared straight ahead with no emotion shown. Amongst their ranks, was a woman.

    Although she made no sign of it, she was slightly anxious herself. Not due to the same reasons as the others. Her anxiety came with thinking of the potential future. If things did not go as planned - if they saw right through her - then execution would be inevetible. She did not fear death, per say, but what would take place afterwards. The thought revolted her. She did everything in her power to alter this fate, but the only thing she was capable of doing was push it further into the future. And for a price. Her reason for being here was not because she choose to; she hadn't. The only reason she stood there now, despite the obvious reason, had prevented her from avoiding this area altogether. This place had no place in her slow-beating heart.

    Pushing those thoughts aside, she looked ahead. The soldiers eyed them like they had been starving almost to the brink of death and they were meat. Some appeared worn from previous battles, most likely the past war, and others seemed bitter and hardened from experience. Her interest did not rest with them though. Ahead, she couldn't help but notice a woman in heavy armor standing next to an ox. The way he appeared nervous signified that this woman had power. What kind of power though? Where did this woman stand amongst this militia?

    "What is your name?" A loud booming voice interrupted her thoughts, averting her attention to the man from before glaring down at her. A brief scan of the men and women beside her showed shaken up or fearless recruits. This question posed some meaning rather than the obvious implication. When she looked back over to the man, she looked directly in his eyes. "It is no longer relevent, sir." she said calmly. And it wasn't. If she were to pass a few tests that were to come later on, then she would be a soldier. Her previous identity would no longer have meaning. Being in the military was a lifelong occupation; the only resignation would be death. Anyone who fled from that fate was named a traitor and either killed or banished from the walls.

    "Why is that?" the man questioned with a raised brow.

    "If I pass these tests, I will be a soldier. Nothing more, nothing less. I will being serving under The Viper King until death takes me."
  3. The voiced boomed, it's intensity engulfing the entire room. Silently Sonja listened and observed what was to follow as the ox; her right hand man snorted. The empire was hardly progressive, hence why the slapped the title of king to her name. The idea was to generate the illusion that she was indeed a male, as oppose to a woman. For a lie was far simpler to embrace, then the truth and the changes it brought with it.

    The woman's refusal and defiance to give up her name was a double edged blade. Cutting both in her favor; yet against it in Sonja's eye. Indeed what she said was true, but even the most harden and seasoned veteran members of this small family clung to their names. It was a reminder of who and what we were, and how far we've come.

    Also her inability to follow an order hinted toward belligerency; a trait that can undo the cohesiveness of a unit. Her almond shaped eyes narrowed, as with her one good eye she focused on this child. A part of her wanted to reject this woman, tossing her out into the harsh desert. While another wanted to welcome her, and see what if anything she could offer the unit. "We do not serve the Viper king, the king serves us." The ox replied, his words undoubtedly would strike this child as odd.

    "We don't fight for the king either, we fight for ourselves. Here in this fort; only the strongest survive. The weak perish and are thrown over the wall to be forgotten. This is our way of life; one that gives little way for arrogance or error."

    Truer words were seldom weaved, this was their way of life and no one dared to refute it. Sonja smirked as she thought over the woman's initial words. This child thought of her as some sovereign leader. And while it is true they take her commands and follow them without hesitation; it wasn't due to her rank. No; for that is they way a weak organization operates. They followed her because she has merited it, proven herself as superior to them in both combat and in military tactics. In truth if they sought to revolt they need only kill her, and parade her corpse down the halls.

    Stepping forward Sonja placed her hand on the giant of a mans chiseled chest. Without hesitation he instantly ceased to flap his lips, immediately snapping to the position of attention as if preparing for a scolding. "Child...I am King Viper." Her words cold, direct and cutting through all the unnecessary fat. Whether or not she believed a woman could run such an important base in a sexist government would be up to her to decide. But those eyes confirmed it, they were almond shaped and filled with the rage of a mother grizzly bear. As if deep inside of her lurked a monster far stronger and more terrifying than any man.
  4. The recruits starred in dumbfoundment at the woman’s words. Most people believed the Viper King, as the name implied, was a male. Women leading bands of soldiers or civilians was looked down upon or viewed as a weakness. Even some of the soldiers gazed in disbelief that she would reveal herself to the recruits so quickly. The blonde in front of her, on the other hand, remained unphased. Being with the Loneveil, a band of travelers, for most of her life she learned to expect the unexpected; surprises were around every bend. So the fact that this woman before her was the legendary Viper King did not surprise her in slightest, even if she did not suspect it.

    “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Viper King.”

    The blonde finally relinquished her name, Celestria Faye, and allowed them to call her whatever they so desired. The names of others mattered little to her as a good sum of the recruits would be thrown out before they could even blink. Half of them appeared very squeamish and intimidated by their environment and the current situation. Others remained still as a rock and awaited orders. These people would be ones she would be willing to socialize with later on.

    Shortly after introductions were made the commander, as she later learned was called Theirin, led the recruits to the training grounds behind the barracks. The repugnant stench of sweat wafted from the area before they even entered, causing Celestria to give a small cringe in response. Her nostrils appeared to be extra sensitive as of late. When they entered the source of the stench was apparent; currently, sweaty men and women were brawling in the grounds. Some practiced their archery, others with their swordsmanship, and some with hand-to-hand combat.

    It wasn’t even a moment later when Theirin paired off recruits with another soldier. In front of Celestria now was a brutish looking male. Multiple scars lined his thin point face and and an expression of hostility was present. Being in the hand-to-hand combat part of the training and observation, they had no weapons present. He was in a fighting stance and a moment later, she was as well. When he made the first move, the brawl began.

    “These are the most pathetic bunch of recruits I’ve ever seen.” Theirin stated with a disapproving shake of his head. Most of these people seemed to have been pried from the pampered empire and thrown unwillingly to the military. They were not worth the energy that was being put into them at this moment. If only they did not need them then he would toss them all outside of the walls himself. A sigh was released from the man as he gazed over to his higher up in curiosity. “What are we going to do with them?”
  5. The viper king grinned out of amusement, this new recruit spoke to her as if they were equals or friends. The lack of discipline in this one would prove quite bothersome, but then again the most belligerent of metals often make the finest blades. In silence she watched, peering through her single good eye as the recruits like cattle were herded. "Let us watch." She whispered, her fellow officers nodding their head's in agreement. As the lot of higher ups made their way toward the clearing, resting but two floors above them leaning against the metal railings. This was their time to prove themselves, but as they fought only disgust filled her mouth.

    Her venomous tongue wanted nothing more than to cut these fools asunder, filling their pathetic bodies with a corrosive agent. But now was not the time, no instead she'd be forced to watch with great disdain. Her bearing proving as flawless as ever, disguising her true feelings with unparalleled ease. As their commander she couldn't afford to display many emotions, things like fear, doubt, or even joy can alter the moral and mental states of her men. It was no fact that despite being a woman, she showed little favoritism to her own sex. In fact the opposite had been noted; she often treated them far more harshly.

    She knew in order to change the contorted and blemished perceptions of the empire, only the finest of women could join her ranks. And even than it would take decades before they even took notice, let alone question their prior stance on the matter. The frigid reality of the matter was simple, this was a man's industry; and woman will inherently be viewed as inferior while dawning the uniform. At the Same time Sonja saw nothing wrong with this ironically, for in order to obtains one must be willing to fight a sacrifice for it. Why should tolerance, let alone acceptance be any different?

    Therin called out to the group, as only few shook their heads. With glaring gaze her authority could be felt barreling down on the new recruits, her presence heavy demanding not just fealty but also respect. "Without a spine your skills and muscles are useless. A mongrel dog without the balls to bite, has no right to bark!" She cried, her words being accepted as truth by all those standing around her. It was an ugly truth, but a way of life and perception that had saved this fort many times. "Look around, half of you will be dead by the end of the month. Only a handful of you will live long enough to leave your mark. Whatever your reasons for joining, whatever your race, sex, religion is no longer important." She paused, tracing her tongue around the outline of her full lips.

    "Your families, upbringing, social status, name and even age is worthless. All that matters now is that you will soon become a cell within the body of this fort. A cell by itself is puny, lacking any true glory or notable presence. But when the cells work as a whole; it is than that they truly become a force to be reckon with. While here you will all do whatever I or another superior says. No matter the order, you will carry it out. If surrounded and I tell you to hold your ground, you will not falter." A smirk now staining her intimidating visage. "After all being surrounded only makes killing the enemy easier. Here we don not surrender, we leave no one behind. Nor will we ever retreat, but you will advance in an alternate direction!"

    She paused momentarily, giving time for the importance of her words to sink in. "When you die you will walk through the levels of hell, and no demon or devil will dare touch you! For there is one thing worse than eternal damnation...and that is this command! Welcome to the southern wall ladies and gentlemen..." She concluded.
  6. The words said by the Viper King were admirable; they implanted themselves in the minds of many recruits. Celestria even pondered them for a few moments before her attention was diverted to a statement made during this speech. “For there is one thing worse than eternal damnation…” Celestria had to hold in a scoff when she heard this. As one who was to experience a certain kind of eternal damnation, she saw nothing worse than this fate. The thought of it sent violent chills down her spine.

    1 YEAR LATER….

    “In your positions!” the commander ordered, hands behind his back and a stern expression on his face. The remaining recruits instantly did as ordered and without hesitation, straightened up and clasping their own hands behind their backs. Theirin walked along the recruits, cold eyes scanning them up in down in disgust. It was typical of him to show this; he wanted to see if he made the recruits uncomfortable. If he did, then they didn’t belong there. At this point it was a pointless notion; most of the weak and spineless of the bunch were already thrown out. They did not last very long at all.

    It wasn’t too soon after the first day that they had begun the tedious training. Certain exercises were laid out for them that they were required to pass if they wished to be accepted into this band of soldiers. Others were merely to better one’s skills, used as simple training was meant for. Celestria would admit that she had gotten better at using a sword; she had only ever bothered using a bow and arrow as that was what she was most comfortable with using since she grew up in Loneveil.

    Loneveil was a little group of travelers, mixed with men and mer, that had constantly moved around the land in search of a home. They would never find a permanent residence, and Celestria doubted they would be in the same placed they were located last time she was there. One of their most common skills was archery as they preferred it to hunt what game they could locate and keep a good distance from the beings that meant them harm. Swords were only used by the bravest and perhaps even the foolish as most of them came into harms way using these weapons.

    She had also improved in cooperation. Being the stubborn one growing up, she was always reluctant to work with another. She always believed that it would either cause her to fail or slow her down. Being around exceptional skilled recruits provided her with the comfort needed to perform menial tasks with another. Although she still remained stuck in her ways at times, she was at least more willing to use cooperation and listen to orders. In fact, raising that skill was what helped her get to this position.

    Right now it was the last time the commander would be checking them over. Today would be the day when the decision would be made of whether or not they made it into the military. Admittedly, she was feeling a little anxious.
  7. The troops had formed it up, in their usual expedient manner. As their command walked up and down the line to expect them, he understood that failure to please the viper kings ofttimes resulted in punishment. Though judging by his cold and stern visage, such petty emotions would elude the recruits. Suddenly the door was kicked open, as from their jaws stepped the king of vipers. Her milky eye still as her good eyes surveyed the scene. A sense of uneasiness had stricken the room, her mere presence bringing with it a sense of fear. They had all heard the tales, the stories of their leader and how against impossible odds they proved victorious under her vigilant watch. Though they seemed far too whimsical to be true.

    The sound of her boots slamming against the ground reverberated off the walls. Her audible approach like the sound of a death squad readying to execute a prisoner. No word's needed to be exchanged, her deathly gaze proved more than enough to size them up. In truth she didn't remember a single one of them, they have been training for a year. And like all recruits...they proved beneath her. To the point that they hadn't even merited crossing her mind. But all of that was about the day, for one last test laid before them. A trail unlike any other they had faced...

    "We only accept the best. Those who prove weak perish. You have all survived the training thus far...but few of you will endure your final test." She spoke to matter of fact like, the grimace in her stride like the chilling dance of death.

    "You're final test is to accompany me...we have received word of a group of sandmer. It is our job to locate and kill them. Those that I see even flinch at taking a life, will lose theirs beneath my feet. And those of you that fall to their blades...will be left there to rot. You have fifty seconds to be outside with your blades. If you're late...I'll Kill you." The smirk that crept on her face was unnatural. But resonated and reaffirmed the truth in her words. That she had all intentions of killing the slothful.

    With that being said she calmly made her way outside, her eye glaring at their commander and mentor. "I will speak to you later." She whispered to him, the man only nodded knowing full well what that meant.
  8. Celestria took a deep breath when the left the safety of the walls; the outside was familiar to it and for the entire year she resigned within safety was an entire year of absolute boredom. The people she was forced to deal with during this times were ones either without a backbone or too quiet for her liking. There had only been two people of whom she developed any sort of bond with: Bane and Sierra. The two were already close, having originated from the same area, but they both delivered something the other could not.

    Bane was exceptional at two-handed weapons and didn’t mind lugging around that heavy armor Celestria was not fond of. He is serious when needed, but knows when to relax and crack a joke. Even so, he’s not particularly good with people. Sierra is nearly the opposite. Light armor is her preference and two daggers were her choice in weapons. She had a problem remaining serious during the correct times, but was rather good at socializing with others. The two were nearly the perfect teammates. How she integrated herself with these people was still a mystery to her.

    “I’m nervous,” Sierra whispered from next to Celestria. Even though it sounded louder than a whisper in Celetria’s ears, she knew they didn’t have any eavesdroppers. Searching for a way to comfort her and be truthful was a difficult task. The woman had every right to be nervous when out here. Things happened at random out here and you had to be on your absolute guard in order to defend yourself. Eventually, she settled on a simple statement she heard the recruits say many times to one another. “Everything will be alright.” she whispered in response, gaining a meek nod from the brunette.

    “It’s time to leave.” a soldier hollered at the group of recruits. A few soldiers were asked to tag along in case things got too messy from what Celestria had heard. Many of them remained inside the walls, maintaining the area until they returned. As they moved away from the shade the walls provided, she could feel some of her strength drain from her body. It was too soon for the sun to be entirely effective so she knew she was perfectly fine. Regardless, this unnerved her.

    Thus far they hadn’t encountered anything the recruits could not handle. A missing things from what little supplies they brought were the only casualties. It all seemed to go to be true for her and she knew tragedy would soon strike. It was impossible to completely evade the creatures out there. Even coming from a group that was very familiar with the outside, they barely returned with everybody when making their rounds to scavenge for food. To confirm this feeling of doubt, the ground suddenly began to shake.
  9. It was not the beast of the desert, nor the sand mer that proved many souls end. But the scorching, unforgiving nature of the wasteland. Those without the will, strength and no small measure of luck on their side; were doomed to have flesh torn from bone by the unrelenting sand storms and scavengers of the realm. Even through leather boots, the hot grains of sand could be felt irritating sensitive skin. Even with callouses; one couldn't help but admire the strength of the land stretched out before their eyes. The recruits were weak, their resolve shaken from the moment they joined the Viper kings company.

    With such brittle chains the moral of the group was destined to snap under the harsh strains of reality. That many of them, despite their pure intentions. Were simply not suited for this life; as such only the void will they find by the end of this fearsome journey. "It isn't much further!" She barked through cloth covered face, eyes narrowing as her vision sought to penetrate through the clouds of rolling sand kicked up by a sudden gust. Finally they found themselves nearing a cave, shelter that would prove to be their savior for the eve.

    "Scavenge for food and water, but keep your wit about you. The emptiness around you is a lie! Death awaits us at every bend and corner of the desert!" She forewarned, taking rest within the shaded cave. Many might wonder why she wouldn't watch over the inexperienced recruits? The reason was quite simple, they were tools of war that could only be sharpened by the clashing friction of their own folly and errors. For just like a mother bird cast her young from the nest to see if they can fly; so shall she turn a momentary blind eye over her new children of the flock.

    The earth trembled, as from it's depths something foul stirred. A creature that depended on the vibrations of it's prey to track it, a deadly entity known as a sand wyrm. A giant worm with razor sharp fangs that like a meat grinder consisted of several layers and spun at intense speed. Four of them now raced toward the recruits without rest; their tenacity beyond a reasonable doubt. It had been weeks since they last fed, and craved the taste of man flesh ever so deeply.

    From the peak two cloaked figures watched, blending in with the brown spikes of the rocky formation. Peering from the shadows intensified by the bright sun. "It seems she is a cold one after all. Truly fit of the title, "The Viper King." The other robed figured agreed, nodding it's head in silence. "At any given time she can swoop in and save them, yet she purposely leaves them to die or survive on their own. Is this the true face of the wall? The true resolve and secret of their unbreakable will?" His words earning a concerned glare, as the female whose face was obscured by ivory colored masked chuckled.

    "No will is unbreakable, no walls indestructible. Before the end of the week, the great Viper King will be nothing but a faint whisper." Her arrogance merited note, as the man glanced at her. "You seem rather certain oh wise Pale queen of the Illithids?" His words meant to be insulting, instead evoking a sense of unwavering pride within her. "I speak not out of arrogance alone my dear friend. Have you forgotten my history? I am the yin to her yang, opposite frequency's that when clash, will destroy everything around itself."