Post by Devius on Sept 4, 2015 0:04:40 GMT
The pounding that has been agonizing my mind is starting to subside. All the men have finally calmed their unrest. Those who tried to incite riots have been swiftly dealt with, with the help of Kavad Kastorian, no less. I heed his unexpected aid with gratefulness and suspicion. Perhaps he has found the wisdom to support my command during the trials of the battlefield, or there is a more elaborate scheme in the works. I shake the thought for the moment, I have other matters to attend to. While Kavad dealt with the men, I was able to send Lord Varazes and the Pride of Sakhran to scout the far side of the river. I expect them to return with valuable insight soon. We have been waiting here uselessly for too long.
I call to gather the commanders in my tent, we must be ready to act on whatever the scouts have discovered. They all show up quickly, but some faces are missing. Tramene Dakani is the only leader of the Archonic Knights left. Tycorro Tassar was unjustly dismissed, and Attia Handar stands in Grandmaster Kanrel’s place.
It is decided that Attia shall command the Hammer of Radiance in Tycorro’s stead. While Tramene has all the right by seniority and tradition, he and his spellcasting knights have no place on the front lines. He accepts this with a graceful bow towards Attia, pointing out that her capabilities would be wasted leading only the three living riders of the Spear. A mocking slight or genuine compliment? I cannot tell, but they seem to be familiar enough with each other to know the difference.
While discussing whether the Force of Sistorian’s leadership should fall to Damesco Truseva’s younger brother Dandred or his loyal lieutenant and friend Questyn Navarro, Attia suddenly screams and falls to the floor. Her yell of terror is echoed from others outside the tent. Tramene quickly helps her to her feet. Her nose is bleeding, her voice is shaking.
Radiance. She stammers. I cannot feel his warmth.
For a moment, I am steeped in the dark waters of utter despair. Has the Bright Lord fallen while we wasted our time? Did we miss the eclipse?
No, it is impossible. Radiance’s demise would have brought more devastation than a bleeding nose. I can still feel Twin Star’s presence within me, alive.
Still shaking from the moment of dread, I rest my hand on Brilliance’s hilt and calm the others with my rationale.
As I speak, a blinding light pierces through the thin walls of the tent. I rush outside, fearing cannonfire. But I am greeted by all soldiers standing amazed or cheering wildly. Looking straight towards Falor. I turn around.
The Pillar of Light shines brighter than an entire generation has ever seen. I stand in awe.
Attia Handar falls to her knees once more, crying tears of joy. Radiance lives, Radiance wakes, she whispers. The three other riders of the Spear of Radiance join her, the sources of the screams heard earlier. Before, all Archonic Knights bore the spark of Radiance, these days only the Spear had that honour, and even then it was merely through the proxy of the High Palatine.
Their quiet words of praise are quickly deafened by the cheers of the soldiers.
The Light of Radiance!
The Glory of the Bright Lord!
Ten Thousand Years!
I raise Brilliance and angle it to capture the light of the pillar. The mystical blade absorbs it, magnifies the brightness. It is as if I am holding a sunray made steel.
Ten Thousand Years! I cry. And now I believe it.
(No specific orders this turn but I expect the scouts to return with their findings at the start of next turn and the soldiers should all be ready to fight after this boost of morale.)
Post by Timeon on Sept 4, 2015 0:28:27 GMT
(Typed up at Dev's request for the sake of Danton's characterization)
As the fires of Falor give way to the fire of men’s hearts, a messenger arrives from the city. Kansar has met him before. He is Darien, majordomo of House Suren. Kansar barely resists taking the man’s head from his shoulders, for it was Darien who commanded the blasphemous cannon battery. But Radiance. Radiance is awake. Radiance will judge.
Darien throws muddied gloves to the ground and falls to one knee before the Sistorian prince and his closest generals. His tale is one of a dance of darkness and light. He tells of the Jahimi Princess and the shadow within her. Darien speaks of the Battle of the Curia, of Suren and Precious Glimmer, of Tilan and Dawn Lantern. At last he speaks of Radiance - but then also of Lightdancer’s death. When the tale is told, he bears orders from the High Palatine.
There will be a night attack upon the Republic, fuelled with the fervour of knowing that God has awoken. When the Vigil Unblinking comes alive with battle, then that shall be the signal.
But no sooner is the tale told, then Danton Redwind of the Wardens unsheathes his sword.
“The Mockinglord.” he states without a moment of hesitation. “I found dead chimera in the ruins of Black Sun’s mansion. And what you report - and what we found at Black Sun’s temple
- leaves no doubt. Black Sun is in league with the Godslayers and the Mockinglord himself.”
The Lords Sistorian cried out in outrage and despair, though Danton Redwind had said as much with the attempt on Manlia Suren Issander’s life. None tried to deny his words, however.
When Danton finishes studying their faces, he whirls towards the fields beyond.
“My Wardens will deal with Maurielle of Jahimis. And with Black Sun and these Godslayers as well. Focus on the Republic beyond, Lords Sistorian. I know where to search.”
When he has gone, Torval Sistorian looks up from the earth, his shame washed away by the Pillar of Light beyond.
“Dawn Lantern and Black Sun both were ever distortions of Radiance’s will. Now our Lord shall speak for himself once more.”
And their drawn swords glint near as bright as Brilliance itself, for they reflect the light of God.
(Danton Redwind's Wardens C17 to head to Black Sun's mansion and begin to hunt Black Sun, Maurielle and the Godslayers - using Black Sun's escape tunnel as a starting point to enter the city (if it leads to the countryside instead, just directly enter the city))
Post by Timeon on Sept 5, 2015 19:46:36 GMT
Radiance returned. Maurielle of Jahimis, a skin spy. Sssssssskin spy! Under Stormlight's own vigil. And convincing enough to fool even her own father. Tilan must feel the true fool. He did not envy him Dawn Lantern's ire for it. Though it could not match the wrath Dawn Lantern would feel for him for doing the unthinkable. The Seraphs had been severed from Father. And as intended, Radiance... Radiance awakened. To find the world in ruin.
Summit's ivory wings took them east of the palace of light. The stars watched from above, ever the unnerving reminder of the growing storm in the West. For even if Varantium survived this siege, the Silhouette's numberless hosts were growing beneath the watch of evil stars.
And so Manlia Suren Issander's crippled form at last turned its attention to its saviour. To an old friend. To the peacock of Suren.
"Thank you, nuncle. In my heart you shall forever burn brighter than Radiance's own Spark. You will bear my unending love till my end, Summit of Suren."
The bird did not turn its head, but the music of its voice bubbled up from warm pools in Manlia's being.
"Child of Suren. I would have answered your call sooner, but the news you brought forth of Black Sun's treachery weighed upon me. I was severing my link to her, and could not end the ritual once started. Dear effendi of Suren. You will continue to bear the hate of many, but I know your heart. It has returned the Bright Lord to the world."
"Take me to Lightdancer, passion of my House. We must return him to Father!"
The Suren peacock wheeled towards the Artisan's District, where the Last Argument had set up camp. Along the way, the city was alive with the uproar of prayer and hope. The Pillar of Light escaped nobody, nor did its implications. The zealots were swarming back towards the palace, it seemed.
They landed upon the rooftops, to find the Argument had taken up a keening durge in the old dialect. Torches had been lit, held by the warrior-officials of the Curia, Seda Suren visible amongst them, her hair loose in mourning. How dared they lament when Radiance awakened? But Manlia's denial could not long survive. Summit at his side, he walked through a parted crowd to suddenly find the emanations of a spirit well thunder into him. He would have noticed it sooner, if not for the deafening echo of Radiance.
Lightdancer, third and least of the Seraphs - the only faithful son - was dead.
Manlia's shoulders slackened. His mouth moved silently. Summit arched his neck to place his head upon that of Lightdancer. They had been steadfast friends in both times of peace and war. The Seraph's injury had drawn other spirits, who had now witnessed his death. Alexis Kata stood with the patron spirit of her house - the Golden Calf - the Keykeeper of the Vaults. The bull spirit stood close to the patron of Suren's bitter enemy, House Nusidio of the Lanterns. Harvest was his name. The hound's fur stood on end as Manlia took notice of it. The patrons of lesser houses and their scions had gathered also, mingling with the rest of the Curia's warrior-officials.
Manlia added his own voice to the eulogy of song, and when it rescinded he limped to stand beside the body of his hope and glory.
"Brothers and sisters of the Curia. Sons and daughters of Varantium. At great cost we have bought time for this city. Through blood and tears we have kept the hated Inquisition and their puppets from the Palace of Light. And even as we fought, our own ilk pissed upon our glory and cast away their honour to remember old feuds, to grasp at power even as the light of civilization was snuffed out. But even as night falls, the sun rises."
Manlia Suren, son of Issander, threw a hand forward to force their attention upon the Pillar of Light.
"Even as we mourn Lightdancer, you have dared to hope. And your Faith and sacrifice has not been in vain. Radiance awakens."
"The sun rises." Harvest affirmed, his hound-head howling in triumph. The cry was taken up, old wounds forgotten. "Radiance is Bright Lord once more!"
"But this awakening comes at great cost. As I attempted to awaken Radiance, we were once more betrayed. Dawn Lantern, hoping to rule alone, turned on me. He was joined in his efforts by Precious Glimmer and one of the Mockinglord's own. Like Black Sun, Dawn Lantern has proven faithless. Radiance has punished his Seraphs. He has rewarded me. Behold, patrons. While your Spark is gone, mine burns brighter than the sun. And so I tell you, we must defend this new dawn. Defend it from the Dark. The Republic must be destroyed. Our ranks must be purged by fire, for even Maurielle of Jahimis proved to be a chimera of the Enemy. We must strike now, before the Eclipse."
"Suren! Ten thousand years!"
A crowd was continuing to gather. Manlia faltered, broken in body but not in spirit. Summit righted him.
"We strike tonight. Summit. Take Lightdancer's place amongst the Curia. Lead the Last Argument. Keeper, return to the Palace of Light. You hold its keys. As a Lantern, you can mend the rift with the Suns from the other end. Bring word to Tilan of Jahimis for me. Tell him I want him to fight with me now, tonight, at my side. Harvest! Hold this city while the Republic is routed. Maintain order, and hunt the skin spy and her dark masters!"
The crowd began to break up, zeal and passion driving them harder than any whip. Their God needed them. Their God lived. Their God spoke through his High Palatine.
When at last the final chapter was turned, Adjumot and his Chainbreakers stepped from the shadows. Theirs had been the core of the dirge for Lightdancer all along. Their ever prssent song had accompanied Manlia's speech beneath the level of the conscious.
"We will deal with the Inquisition, High Palatine."
"You must hunt the chimera, Adjumot."
The scar faced old man smiled for the first time.
"I have faced this skin spy before. She broke into the Crucible and stole the weapon that led to the Arbiter's death. We chased the lost lore to Senusa and failed. I know her methodology, yes. But I worked with Danton of Redwind on both occasions. You need me to deal with the Inquisition, High Palatine. Leave Goka Kaan to Danton and his Wardens."
Manlia Sueren Issander found a slight weight taken from him. Whether it was Adjumot's words or his song, he could not tell. Manlia sent for Darien. The Sistorians had to know, and Danton with them.
Turning at last to his own affairs, watching the milling crowds talking and praying and humming around him, preparing for war, Manlia Suren Issander could not help but cough with laughter. He was glad. For the first time in countless generations, they were almost working together. Whatever might come, it was a new beginning.
((Chainbreakers, Manlia, Juluc and his regiment, the Bridge Burners, the Jahimi magic soldiers meant to draw Inquisitor attention and the smallest remaining Vigil Unblinking regiment to exit the southern gate near the Vigil Unblinking tower. The archers are to lead the way due to knowledge of the tower - including hidden entrances and vulnerable spots. The tower is to be seized and the cannons destroyed. The Inquisition is to be baited into a trap using the magical soldiers and Adjumot and his Chainbreakers.
Meanwhile, the Last Argument and nearby magi regiments/companies are to form the core of a second force, with a token infantry guard. They will be joined by the remainder of the Vigil Unblinking. Their goal is to reclaim the southern walls by force or by patience, and to rain utter hell into the Republican camp thereafter. The signal to commence offensive action is the attack on the tower of the Vigil Unblinking, meant to draw soldiers and attention away from everything else.
A third group composed of infantry in appropriate numbers and the magic lions will be formed, to be led by Tilan Jahimis if he answers our call to arms, or by Seda's husband otherwise. This force is to exit the southeastern gate to attack the Republican camp once battle breaks out in the Vigil Unblinking - what they wish to accomplish is utter chaos and breaking up of the Republican formations, as well as torching of tents and supplies. The timing is intended to be such that the Inquisition is at the tower at this time, and this will be made clear.
At last, the archers of the remaining Vigil Unblinking and magi are to take position on the walls to accomplish a position both offensive and defensive, being able to fire into the Republican camp and challenge any Republicans who do not exit the city once their camp is in danger. Attacking the Republicans at the wall is probably best accomplished by a pincer maneuver, involving archers already on the walls.
All zealots to pull back to Palace of Light immediately - Albor's elite heretics to rest. The others to exit eastern gate and attack Republican camp from north to south, with the intention of clearing away barricades and anything that would upset a cavalry charge.
Siege of Sistorian instructed to cast Lightdancer's body and offensive projectiles into Republican camp after zenith of fighting to relocate spirit well. ))
Post by conumbra on Sept 6, 2015 4:30:26 GMT
Ahhhhh...getting to discard that identity feels like I'm taking the biggest breath of fresh air imaginable. Oh, are you surprised with the change in perspective? It only makes sense, really. There's no need to continue stating I'm Maurielle; that little charade has served its purpose in this particular tale. Now that I don't have to pretend anymore we can get a bit more personal, give you a key to my mental mansion, so to speak. But don't mistake a guided tour for exclusive access. I've still got some nice little tidbits tucked away, all wrapped up in their bows. Wouldn't want the surprise foiled too soon, now would we? So sit back and enjoy this little seat inside my mind while you try to puzzle things out. Consider the birds.
But yes, now I can finally stretch my legs. Living in that identity for so long, it was almost unbearable. I knew about the stagnation going in, but still! I don't know how you humans manage it, sticking with your same old roles, your same old identities. You stay so still, so constant, so...boring. But then again, not even most spirits are as flexible as I am. That's why I was chosen for this particular mission, after all. And now that the mask has been torn off, it gives me a whole mess of options to work with. A whole new mess of limitations and problems, sure, but like I said, I'm flexible.
I quickly take shape again in the back alleys outside the Palace of Light. Just that simple act of transformation felt like a godsend. A shame I had to vacate the area, but while I might have felt confidant taking on Dawn Lantern by his lonesome, him and the High Palatine together would be a recipe for disaster. And survival always takes precedence. Still, the sight of my blade moving straight for the Palatine's skull is a lovely image. Not quite as lovely as my assassination of Lightdancer, but still nice. Bet you'd like to know how I accomplished that little feat? Well, that's one of those little tucked away tidbits I mentioned, though maybe you'll puzzle it out. Did you know he didn't actually have any blood? It's true, when I brought my hand through his throat, coloured streams of light shot out. I would have laughed if I hadn't been forced to flee before finishing the deed. I shudder at that memory, of that once-mighty griffin brought low. Death is such a delightful change to inflict on others.
My first task now is clear; I have to meet with Black Sun again. Right now, my access to information is frustratingly cut off. If I'm to figure out my next logical step, she'll be able to guide the way. Of course, she neglected to actually tell me where she would be, but that's no problem. I could go back to her mansion, but that place is likely swarming with soldiers. And besides, if she did leave clues to her passing, they're likely to be entirely misleading. Think think think, where would be a good place to hide? The Palace of Light is swarming with soldiers, and Dawn Lantern would have likely sensed her presence so close. Outside the city walls is much too far away to keep track of what's going on, and the space between the outer walls and Palace has been scoured over thoroughly. I doubt she would remain unnoticed in such an environment, plus it's much too close to the actual fighting. That leaves the most logical place for her to be. The City Park, north of the Palace. It's close enough to the Palace that she can keep track of the goings on there, it's inaccessible enough that she can feel secure, but there still leave options for her to flee. It's still a rather large area to search but it's better than the entire city.
I become like the wind, invisible and silent as I make my way there. The walls offer no resistance as I soar over them. This freedom is astounding after a decade of stability and order. I land in the parch, softly, the leaves around me heralding the arrival of a breeze from the wrong direction. Quickly I assume the role of a human once more but not Maurielle. A member of the Aegis, clad in the palace armour and carrying his weapon. Maurielle's appearance is too noticeable now, best leave it behind for the moment.
I spend barely five minutes searching the local foliage for a sign, before I get one. One of the local spiders, a small spindly orb weaver, lands on my shoulder. Just as I move to flick it away, I hear Black Sun's voice in my ear. Seems she's laced little spirits to keep track of movements here, give her some early warning if she is to be disturbed. Through this spirit, she leads me through the forest. I come upon the entrance. I couldn't even spot it without the spider's help. Hidden beneath a large boulder exists a small button that opens a stairway down into the earth. There are several other boulders the same size around this one, to deter easy detection. As I make my way down the steps, the entrance closes behind me. The darkness envelops me as I go to meet with Black Sun.
Post by ashenmoon on Sept 9, 2015 16:41:52 GMT
Turn 26 - about 6 am - turn ends Monday 14thdl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14467358/eclipse/eclipse_dominion_tactical_135908aaf_026.jpgwww.dropbox.com/s/c9vww4xyv4awq3q/eclipse_dominion_tactical_135908aaf_026.jpg?dl=0 Manlia
The men - and daemon - followed the High Palatine. Or, rather, preceded him gladly, as Manlia Suren Issander was carried on a litter into battle. Healer magi surrounded him, a moving hospital.
Though he himself did little, the assault on the Vigil Unblinking was a resounding success. Too much of one. The Inquisition never showed up.
They had passed through the city walls into scorched and dark districts. Far away to the east, they heard the faint screams of the zealot charge. Much closer, the Republican artillery opened up once more - they had cannon up on the walls and were firing north into Falor. But there was nothing Manlia’s force could do about that now.
The attack on the Vigil Unblinking went according to plan. Archers raked the walls and skirmished with the Republican troops on the open ground outside the fortress. The Bridge Burners tackled the walls head-on, soon making their way through them. And all the while, the Noisemakers and Fogmakers spun their magics into a whirlwind of force - a fireworks display that no one with the slightest sensitivity to the Divine within a dozen miles could miss.
Yet there was no trace of the Inquisition’s counter-magics as the troops Manlia had brought burst into the Vigil. The Republican soldiers put up a strong fight, but were outmatched. Juluc’s men followed the Bridge Burners, and soon the fortress compound was theirs, all save the old keep at its southern end. From atop its high towers, cannon blazed into the night, raking the compound with their fury. The Burners suffered - but they waded through that scourge, battered down the gates, and burst through the Vigil’s ancient corridors. The Noisemakers joined the battle, then Juluc.
When at last, they found the remaining Republican soldiers had no thumbs - but charged suicidally against them nonetheless - the Dominion warriors gave out a great cheer, knowing the enemy was all but defeated.
Then, the Vigil Unblinking disappeared in a burst of light - rubble rained down hundreds of yards away from the explosion, pebbles ripped through the ranks of soldiers outside like the bullets of their guns. The Republic had rigged the fortress with their black powder, and sacrificed themselves.
Stunned, Manlia watched from his sick bed the glowing remains of the fortress, a great dark pillar of dust and smoke blotting out half the sky, lit by lurid fires from below. Frowning, he thought he saw some movement in that smoke - a great lumberous shape, flying away - but then it was gone. Kansar
The scouts soon returned, reporting that the Republican army was on the move - the regiments that had been on the east side of the river were crossing over to the west.
It didn’t make much of a difference. The Sistorian cavalry assembled, then waited while faint cries of battle drifted out from the south.
Then - a great explosion lit up the night. And the cavalry set out.
The night was treacherous. They went slowly at first. Then sped up. The lights of the enemy were forming up to the south - flickering over their long ranks. The distance between their lines was quickly closing-
-and swarming with zealot bands.
The ground, littered with their dead and crying.
Knots of them, wandering dazed through the dark, aimless.
The Sistorian lines got caught, confused. In the dark, entire regiments on the east flank, close by the river, moved on without realizing the west had become hopelessly entangled. The centre came forth in a jagged line, companies out of tune. Somewhere, the charge was sounded.
The enemy they faced was unlike any so far.
Their ranks were closed. Their pikes were steady. Their aim was long, and true.
And more and more of them were forming up in a long line from the Florid to the city walls. They were pushing forward. Kansar, finding a vantage point, looked south and gasped - the entire Republican army seemed to be pushing its way north…“Maurielle”
“Your human is terrible,” was how Black Sun had greeted the creature who had passed itself off as Princess Maurielle Jahimis. “You should have practiced other human shapes more often. If you walk among them - wear a helmet. This new disguise will fool no one.”
The creature that could turn itself into wind, into metal, into flesh at will, adjust the very substance of its physical form, had nothing to say. So it reported on what had happened. How it had seemed that Dawn Lantern was about to take power for himself, and so cause irreparable damage to the Dominion leadership - just as Black Sun had thought he would. How the High Palatine had opposed him, and how Precious Glimmer had helped him fight Dawn Lantern… until, somehow, the Palatine had accessed the power of Radiance himself. How Precious Glimmer had realized that now it was the Palatine who was the true danger. How Maurielle had struck him down - and revealed herself to Dawn Lantern.
Black Sun was in a foul mood. She could add more: that Precious Glimmer was dead, and that Radiance’s connection to his children and servants - his every Spark - had been extinguished. Black Sun had long held her own Spark of Radiance under close guard, the ritual to sever it ever only an unspoken word from being finished - so it had been no great inconvenience.
But Radiance waking up…
Briefly, it-that-had-been-Maurielle saw doubt in Black Sun.
“... but it doesn’t change anything, really. Not in the long run. Maybe he wakes up today, and is awake tomorrow. Or a year or a decade from now. Back at his best. How long will that last, hmm?” the Seraph muttered to herself.
There was no one around… or was there? Strange movements flickered in the shadows - when turned to look at, there was nothing there. But a soft hum of magic betrayed… something. Illusionist. That was one of Black Sun’s many skills. The cave could be filled with chatting onlookers and she could hide them all at will.
“After the last Palaienid, Father was awake, active even, for almost a full century. Those were bold days. Bold. But they ever end. Again and again. They end. Poor Manlia - he cries ten thousand years, but what can a mere mortal understand of such time? His is an empire that may stand a hundred, maybe a thousand years.” Black Sun’s eyes bored into the soul of the creature that had been Maurielle, and it realized - no, Black Sun did not doubt: she did theatrics. “Mine will stand a hundred thousand years!”
Swallowing - swallowing? a human impulse! - it asked: “What are you planning?”
The Seraph smiled, a rueful smile. “Right now, not much. I have outplayed myself. I have held my servants back - as far away as I could. I have weakened Falor, my brothers and Father. But it has not been enough. I am beginning to doubt the Republic will be able to accomplish what it set out to do, and my pieces - one after one - have either failed or betrayed me. Precious Glimmer chose to sacrifice herself to save you. But how can I trust you to do what must be done?”
The creature that had once been a woman was a very effective tool. It could kill. Quietly. Almost unstoppable save against an enemy who knew what to prepare for, and even then, supremely difficult to counter. If the Republic was unable to carry out their mission, then someone who wielded such a deadly weapon might…
Black Sun sighed, a dismissive wave. “Do this. Obey that. Go there. Kill those. It is so very easy to make someone do something. It is what Dawn has always done. He is very good at telling people what to do. What to accomplish. Inputs, outputs, specifications, expected results. Benefits. No. I am not interested in making anyone do anything. I want them to believe.”
Believe what? That Black Sun’s was the right cause? Which was…?
“Change. That should be something you are well familiar with, I think. Yes, change. Something has to change and the path and players we have seen for the last ten thousand years will do nothing new if they are around for another ten thousand years. The game, and those who play it, must change.”
So much for a plan…
“Here is a plan for you, then. Go to my old friend Twin Star and his Lord Sistorian. They are having doubts about supporting my plan - in fact, so far, they have done very little to support it. They are travelling to meet with the Sistorian prince, to discuss what comes next. Wait until they are all together. Then…”
The one that had been a princess smiled, nodded to itself. It knew this game well-
“... convince them. Make them believe. Make them see our side, and that it is the right thing to do. To draw back from this battle. To let the old gods fall and for new ones to rise. It must be their decision.”
Our side? It was to… to convince them to see Black Sun’s side, when Black Sun had said nothing about it whatsoever? What was this-
“Go now! The Warden approaches - you do not want to be here when he arrives…”
Post by Timeon on Sept 13, 2015 15:57:03 GMT
No sooner had flaming rubble begin to fall, Manlia Suren Issander had begun to empty his stomach onto one of the retainers holding up his seat. The healer-magi scrambled towards him like cockroaches, but he waved and cursed them off. It was hard to miss his cavalcade, and Juluc Smilebiter and the captains of the Bridge Burners and Noisemakers left alive soon shambled from the darkness, their bloodied faces half-lit by the Unblinking fires.
The strike on the Tower had been their last hope. And it had failed. In their tens of thousands, the Republicans inched north, wedged between river and wall, out of his reach.
Despite everything, despair had hit him once too many times for him to feel it now. In two days, triumphs had crowned the Dominion, as well as devastating defeats. Radiance was awakening. They had to hold fast. Even if they could not destroy the Republican army, they could hold the city until the passing of the Eclipse.
He sent Juluc and his elites to harass the retreating Republicans, while the Noisemakers, Fogmakers and Bridge Burners would regroup and rest in the city.
Then he led his entourage back into the city, immediately coming face to face with members of the Curia who had seen the fire blossoming from the Tower. It would be apparent to all of the defenders what had transpired. Once again, however, Manlia had narrowly evaded death. He called for the magi, archers and Chainbreakers to take to the walls, to harass the Republic's every step.
By now, Lightdancer's corpse would have been cast to the plains. A spirit well should have opened by now.
After conveying his orders, he made for the northwestern part of the inner city. The Plutarian Mercenaries' time had come.
Orders are as follows:
Noisemakers, Fogmakers and Bridge Burners to fall back to the city and rest up and regroup. Juluc is to strike the Republican army in the rear, with the intention of achieving slowing them down and causing chaos in their ranks. It is not to be a full-on assault.
The Vigil Unblinking archers are to harass the Republic from the walls.
Manlia is to enter the city and rally its defenders, sending the magi, archers and Chainbreakers to destroy the Republicans from above. They are to achieve chaos, destruction of morale and destruction of the enemy artillery. This is meant to pave the way for the inevitable glorious Sistorian cavalry charge, by breaking up the pikemen ranks with rampaging chimera.
After these orders are conveyed, Manlia will continue to rally the Plutarian cannon mercenaries, and send them to contribute to the bombardment of the Republicans. He will probably check on what's up in the Palace of Light along the way back without getting caught up in its intrigues, and then will end the turn on the walls with his cannons, overseeing the systematic bombardment and degradation of the Republic.
The bombarding units are to follow the Republican movements from the wall, so that they are unable to escape by marching further north.
Post by conumbra on Sept 15, 2015 3:37:29 GMT
Wonderful. Just spectacular. I come to see what she thinks will be the right course of action, and am told I have to do the impossible. I have to convince a man who has railed against the machinations of those above him for his entire career, that those same machinations are the right course of action. Assuming he's heard inklings of what occurred in the Palace of Light, there is also the fact that he likely thinks me a traitor to his way of life. And the war will doubtless divert his attentions away from where it should be. I'd have a better chance convincing a starving man to fast.
Then again...the Prince's say in things matters far less than that of his spirit and father. The Prince Sistorian mighty rally against every perceived injustice, but Twin Stars is another matter. His father was a bit of an unknown, but through my years at court I've never known him to be as vocal as his son. There might be something there to tug on, some hint of self-preservation that can be tugged. There's no better yoke than a being's own self-interest, I've found. Even some of the most virtuous people alive wish to keep on living, and the rest want much more than that. They want their families to remain safe, their legacies untarnished, their status maintained. Such higher selfishness can even override baser desires for wealth, copulation and gluttony that so pervades the human race. Better even than those, higher selfishness extends to spirits as well.
Very well, if Black Sun wishes to convince, I can be the snake whispering in the ear, promising something more coveted than mere gold. I can promise safety.
I leave Black Sun's side. Assuming that was Black Sun I just spoke to, assuming she was even there, assuming we were the only beings within the room. All things I would not bet my existence on. To her, I am merely another piece on the board. She will lie to me for her own interests. It may be that my purpose meeting with the Sistorians is not to convince, but to antagonize, to provoke a hostile response. I'm flexible enough to work with that.
Barely a step outside of her cave, I transmute into wind. Such speed, such unmatched freedom! What Warden can outpace a gale? I soar above their heads, watching the scenery fly past. Compared to the pathetic humans crawling through them, the buildings seem stable, constant. But it's all an illusion, a trick. These shops, these roads, have not existed for eternity. Eventually even they must change with the coming tides. If I am lucky, perhaps I will still be around to witness the transformation.
But Twin Stars beckons me. A challenge like this, even failure will be an entertaining event.
Post by ashenmoon on Sept 15, 2015 20:13:22 GMT
Turn 27 - about 8 am - turn ends Friday 18thdl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14467358/eclipse/eclipse_dominion_tactical_135908aaf_027.jpg www.dropbox.com/s/i4inaadaft989ma/eclipse_dominion_tactical_135908aaf_027.jpg?dl=0
Quick OOC updates, for now at least. The Dominion
Lacking specific orders, being thrown into disarray, and facing an undeniable advance by thousands of Republican pikemen, the inevitable cavalry charge never happened. The Sistorians pulled back before the enemy’s advance, harassing with little effect. The enemy artillery batteries were set up in rotation, continually firing from one point while the rest of the Republican army advanced - leapfrogged - around it. For now, Kansar has received word his father and Twin Star are on their way to meet him. “Maurielle” may make an appearance. One two three RP go!
Attacks from the city and by attacks from Juluc and the lions etc did do a good amount of damage, but was outranged/fought off before soon. As the enemy army started rounding the corner of the city, the longer-ranged units were poised to do a lot of damage, but enemy artillery has made that a bit unhealthy (though not extremely risky, really).
Tilan Jahimis leads a portion of “Palace” troops in implicit, if not outspoken, cooperation with the High Palatine’s general command. Word is that Dawn Lantern has shuttered the Curia and refuses to speak to anyone. Radiance’s beacon only grows stronger.
Post by Timeon on Sept 18, 2015 23:31:39 GMT
The Wardens had emerged into the Glade, once the private gardens of the emperors of old. There they had tracked Black Sun to a network of caverns beneath the gardens, but found them deserted. After fanning out across the Glade to find any sign of their prey, the Chainbreakers stepped forward to meet with them. Adjumot hailed Danton Redwind as an old friend, though his discerning eye revealed a terrible corruption in the Warden chief's fabric and being. Yet the Chainbreaker did not question it. They had last met at Senusa, chasing the Godslayer agents and the lore they had stolen from the Crucible. Events had reunited them in the most unlikely of places.
After a brief interlude, they sent word to the High Palatine.
The time for shame had passed.
Manlia Suren Issander's arms were folded behind his twisted back as he stood overlooking the Plutarian cannon battery. Shadowless. Honest. In the light of the Sun.
The cannons fired in unison, sending a volley of runed metal over the city walls and into the Republic sea to the north.This is what I have wrought.
Manlia thought, ash fluttering about him in great gusts from the city fires his zealots had extinguished - and from those they had failed to.
With Dawn Lantern cowering in the Palace, Black Sun in open rebellion, and Tilan Jahimis having chosen his side, Manlia Suren Issander was finally the undisputed authority in Varantium. At least until Radiance let his voice be heard once more. And this time, Manlia was not sure his God would utter "Suren!" so much as glare in profoundest outrage at the myriad schemes which had eaten away at the Throne beneath him. Yet what mattered was that the Bright Lord was returned. For while Manlia was the first to admit to himself his lust for power, it had ever been in his God's service. And that service was coming to its close.
The cannons fired again. Manlia Suren Issander would happily answer for his crimes... once the Enemy was defeated.
An armed entourage began to ascend the steps towards Manlia's marble platform. His healer-magi made to bar the way, but then recognized the banners carried by those they would oppose. They were the banners of House Jahimis. The trademark palanquin of the Jahimi lords was carried up before Manlia. Yet Manlia did not find himself hoisted into that box. The palanquin was not the focus of attention. Eyes regarded a grizzled old man ascending the steps on foot, bearing armour of bronze scale, silken scarves trailing in the ashen wind.
Tilan Jahimis had seen many battles before the warrior-official had retired into patriarchal politics. But the fight had never left him. Precious Glimmer had failed to fell him in the Curia. And now Precious Glimmer was dead. And here stood Tilan Jahimis, recovered from the disgrace of the Lanterns, meeting Manlia Suren Issander eye to eye, mere hours after trying to strike him down.
"Reports on your attack on the Republican flank match your reputation, effendi." Manlia managed with the faintest of bows, though the action forced wretched fingers of pain to place a death-grip on his body. His expression buckled momentarily, but Manlia ignored the interruption. "Be welcome, Tilan."
Tilan's gaze drifted past Manlia, to the artillery behind him.
"You awakened Radiance." he stated. What he truly meant by those words was hard to guess. But he was here, rather than hiding in the Palace. And he had answered Manlia's call to arms. Manlia gave him the benefit of the doubt.
"I did." Manlia's mouth twitched, blinking away the sweat rolling into his vision. "I am sorry for your daughter."
Tilan did not flinch at Maurielle's mention. Radiance's awakening had numbed that shock with a greater one. But the wound was clearly not forgot.
"Not as sorry as I. These are dark times, where daughters are unmasked as demons, and where the High Palatine stands amidst the cracking of cannon."
Manlia Suren Issander leaned forward ever so slightly, fighting a spasm of agony as he did so.
"The ban on gunpowder was ever Dawn Lantern's doing, was it not? You know this. The Peasant War. A hundred Archonic Knights, riding to put down what should have been a local rebellion. Only to find their steel and glory challenged by peasants. Muskets. One hundred Archonic Knights, slain, blood watering the crops. The Great Houses saw the challenge to their power. As did the Seraph, and indeed, all the Great Names."
Tilan Jahimis' eyebrow shifted, almost mockingly so.
"We can debate the merits of the Ban for months in the Curia, as was done so many years ago. But that time has passed. And the Common Law was amended. It is not your place to challenge it."
"No." Manlia Suren Issander admitted. And then he spat, breaking the spirit of even the most early and barbaric of Faloran protocols. "Times have changed. But unlike Black Sun, my loyalty to Radiance remains. If he truly believes gunpowder to be Sin, then I shall take my own life if he so asks. But we cannot sit and wait. The Eclipse draws close."
Tilan Jahimis put a hand to the hilt of his blade.
"I am with you, Manlia. Not because I believe in you, but because I must. I brand you a false prophet and a madman, son of Issander. I will see you hang once this is over. Despite whatever zeal has driven you, you have shown your incompetence as a general and commander. Your every gambit to defeat the Republic, Manlia, has failed."
Manlia Suren Issander smiled.
"This one shall not. Come with me."
((Manlia, the Chainbreakers and the Wardens are to enter Black Sun's escape tunnel to intercept part of the Republican army and use Chainbreaker magic to sow chaos in the Republican ranks. A messenger to the Sistorians is to confirm that they are to use any opportunity presented to enjoy a glorious cavalry charge.
Ranged units to continue to harass Republican army, focusing on destroying their artillery where possible. Tilan Jahimis left in charge of city's defence while Manlia accompanies Chainbreakers, with the intent of directing their wrath and emerging in Black Sun's mansion. Soldiers in the city who aren't resting and regrouping, where possible, to be ordered to head north to man the northern defence.
If Albor's heretics can be reached with possible movements, considering above orders, they'll be ordered to take shelter behind the hills north of the city, without being detected by the Republic due to the cover - but in a position to hold the hills in case the Republic tries to take them.))
Post by Devius on Sept 21, 2015 20:56:00 GMT
The rebel army marches forward quickly, too quickly. My men are disorganised. Their unsynchronised assaults do little to stop the enemy’s progress. I must retain order.
As I begin to descend from my vantage point, my uncle Torval approaches. Father has come, and Twin Star with him. They await me in the summer mansion of house Vistis.
Father, here? He’s too weak to take to the battlefield, he admitted so himself. Whatever he has to say, it must be of great importance… But I look back on the battlefield, and watch how the Pride of Sakhan keeps needlessly losing men by straying too close to the enemy gunfire. Every minute wasted increases our losses, and we cannot bear many more.
Father can wait, I tell my uncle. If he wishes to see me, he may do so on the battlefield.
Whatever my uncle thinks of my impudence, he does not show it. He bows mutely and rides to deliver my response. Have I instilled him with unquestioning obedience like Father does with all his subjects, or is my uncle merely refusing to speak his heart to me? As a ponder the implications, the wind changes. No, a single gust sweeps opposite the harsh winds of the plain, carrying a voice.
Don't forsake opportunities sweet Prince, or nothing will ever improve.
Show yourself, daemon! I demand, my hairs on end. But the fickle wind is already gone, only the sound of battle is carried across the fields.
Before long, I spot the arrival of Father’s retinue. He stops at the foot of my hillock, intending for me to approach him. It is only right. Adamant as a I may be to overlook the battle, I cannot presume that Father should be the one to beg audience with me. I descend the hill, still keeping an eye on the enemy forces.
Father, Venerable Twin Star. I greet them with a bow. Father only nods, Twin Star speaks first. There is much to discuss, brave prince. The warm melody of the words grants me an inner peace I have not known since I left Sistorian lands.
“Radiance… Awakens.” Father states. Only two words, but unquestionably carefully chosen. He wishes to see my what my stance on the matter is.
Yes. I reply, straightening my back. I have seen his light.
And with that light, he would put all of existence into stasis and stagnation. The wicked wind from before! This time, the breeze does not pass, instead it accumulates in our midst and takes on a human shape.
“I believe you asked me to show myself.” Maurielle says coyly.
“The princess of Jahimis!” One of the soldiers gasps.
She bows. “Yes and no. I am both less and more than that title.”
Uninvited. Twin Star roars. Gone is the soft blue and yellow glow, replaced by burning flames and chilling ice.
I draw Brilliance. If this traitor wishes to mock us, she will pay the price. Your life ends here, abomination. I state coldly.
“Hold.” Father’s command. I stay my hand.
Yes. Twin Star rings in agreement, although the sharp lights still remain fixed on the skinchanger. Let her speak. We need… perspective. We have come for perspective.
Father gives me a look. I lower the blade, but it remains unsheathed.
Speak. Twin Star demands.
“Thank you kindly.” She begins. "You speak as if Radiance awakening will be a good thing for the Dominion, that once this war is over, we will prosper. That all the corruption and decrepitude worming its way throughout will be blasted away.”
The men begin to jeer. Shouts call for the traitor’s head. But Twin Star silences them all in a word.
The being posing as Maurielle makes a gesture of gratitude, and continues. "Perhaps you believe those responsible for the crimes you accuse them of will be punished. You might even be right. Perhaps the High Palatine's grasp for power will be curtailed, perhaps the vanity of the Curia will be replaced with honest devotion and valour. But this will not last." She shakes her head.
"It will not last because Radiance will not last. He will go to sleep once more, and once that happens, it will begin again. The nepotism, the greed, the self-centered nature of those in charge. Perhaps you and your children will live in an age of peace once this is done. But all Dawn Lantern needs to do is wait, then he will clamber for power once more. You have not purged the poison, merely delayed its harm."
Dawn Lantern can be destroyed. Twin Star states. There are paths beyond blasphemy, Masha.
I cannot tell if Twin Star just addressed the skinchanger by name, or title, or something else entirely. Whatever it was, the face of Maurielle shows no reaction and simply continues.
"You remove the symptom, not the cause. As long as Radiance exists, this cycle will continue. A brief period of prosperity, followed by a decline into decrepitude. Dawn Lantern's destruction will not mean the end of this game, it merely changes the players.
Something must change, or the Dominion will sit, as it does now, like a fat cow. Those who rule will bicker and argue, plot politics and intrigue while millions starve."
She turns to face me. "I have been among the Curia many times during my existence. I have seen you loudly decry those same people, again and again. If Radiance is not removed, your great-grandchildren will stand as you do now, decrying those same families, or those like them. Nothing will have improved."
I cannot not stand idly while this traitor speaks blasphemies in front of my patron spirit. You would have us stand back while the enemy destroys Radiance? I ask. Let them slay the heart of our people? There is no faster path to our demise, I scoff.
She begins to speak but Twin Star cuts her off.
You have made a claim that is not without some merit. Twin Star states blankly. But Radiance is the Father, and from the Father we all stem.
The skinchanger turns away from me once more. "Of course, I would not ask that you let your lands be conquered. If this war can be won, I urge you to do so. The Republic's ethos disgusts me, I have no wish to see the Dominion fall. But the Dominion does not require Radiance, it has not required his presence for some time now." She opens her arms, styling herself like a saviour. "Fight, win this war. Stop the Republic in this tracks, push them back if you can. But bring down the sickness when the chance comes, so that what replaces it can truly better what remains.”
I have heard enough, I spit. She is an outsider, she does not understand. You speak of the Dominion, I start. But before there was a dominion, there was Varantium, raised to glory by Lord Radiance. He is the lifeblood in our veins, the light in the darkness. He points us forward, awake or not. High Palatine Manlia Suren has shown us a new dawn. We shall last ten thousand years, and Radiance with us.
Some of the men cheer, but they are quickly cut off. Father steps forward, clearly displeased with my impulse to speak before him.
“I have but one question. Who are you?” The difference is subtle, but the tone of voice Father uses to address the chimera is one he saves for interrogating the worst criminals, or speaking to his sons.
“Apart from all of these words of Religion and Decadence, we have not spoken of Family. I thought you the daughter of my friend Tilan of Jahimis. Where is Maurielle, if not before me? My friend's heart must surely be broken."
For the first time since appearing, she lowers her head. In shame? Surely not.
"I am afraid Lord Jahimis heart will not be healed."
Father nods, clearly expecting the answer. “Speak freely. If you truly wish for the greater good, you have nothing to hide. Lord Jahimis’ heart or no.”
The skinchanger casts a glance at Twin Star, who says nothing, then she begins. "As Twin Star said, I am Masha. Initially I was a proud servant of men who wished for the Dominion's destruction. My task was to infiltrate, and then use what influence I could to bring your society crashing down. Maurielle's memories guided my actions, her connections guided my responses. But…-” She hesitates. “-I changed, as is my nature. I saw Lord Jahimis’ affection for those around him, I saw Kansar Sistorian speaking out in righteous condemnation, I saw the honour and loyalty of your soldiers. There is worth here, worth that can be salvaged."
She pauses as if short of breath, though it is not in her nature. “As for Maurielle of Jahimis, she does not exist anymore. What is left is merely a fragment. Instincts and memories. The process killed her, her soul does not exist in this body. If there is an afterlife, she has passed onto it, I’m sure.”
Father is not convinced. “Who are you?” He demands again.
It is likely she is one of the Mockinglord’s own. Twin Star contemplates.
The skinchanger sighs. “I am indeed of the Mockinglord. I was created as a being of change, to remain stable for any length of time requires extreme willpower. What was not foreseen was what prolonged stability would do to me. I transformed, not in form, but in outlook. And so here we are. I was once the Mockinglord's. Now? I do not know."
She slumps her arms in resignation. Little remains of the fervent conviction she had just one minute ago. Twin Star’s lights move closer, as if to orbit her.
If true, the implications are profound.
“If.” Father states. “Regardless, tell us how you came into Black Sun’s employ. We presume she was the one who sent you.”
If you wish for us to stand with you, Masha, speak plainly. The Eclipse approaches. Twin Star warns.
"It was chance, truly. I had come to Varantium in order to speak with her. At the time, I believed one of her spirits was pilfering money from the taxes we sent to Varantium, and wished to speak with her concerning the matter. During our negotiations Black Sun saw through my disguise, just as Dawn Lantern did within the palace. Instead of killing me, she interrogated me. She convinced me that change needed to happen, but not destruction. Though after spending time with Lord Jahimis I was already beginning to doubt my mission."
“And who assigned you that mission?” Father continues. My presence seems all but forgotten. “The Arbiter is dead. The Mockinglord roams free. What does he want in all this?”
Or have you been loose long before his imprisonment, Masha?
Turning to the lights above her, she nods. “Indeed. The Mockinglord planted many seeds before his freedom was taken away. I was one of them. I know of another, a spirit of song known as Valenal. Their connection to the Mockinglord is closer than mine, and it was they that gave me my mission. Valenal said the Mockinglord wishes for a fiery transformation to overtake the world and that I would be the catalyst. I do not know how much of what he said was the truth of the matter. I am sure there is another of his brood with the Republic, the Mockinglord always plays both sides to assure his plans’ fruition."
Father’s expression changes. I see the light of realisation in his eyes. And… tears?
“Maurielle the sparkless.” He says below his breath.
The implication dawns upon me. Renal-
“What have you done to my SON?!” Father roars, drawing his sword. His guards draw theirs in unison.
“I did not hurt your son!” Masha shrieks, trying to back off. But Twin Star’s light still circles her, holding her still. “None of my missions ever concerned him, directly or indirectly! If he was victim to another of the Mockinglord’s games, I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t told!”
Twin Star’s grip loosens. They are amongst us.
“They killed my son!” Father howls. I have never seen him like this. I can only look on in stunned silence.
Twin Star returns to Father’s side. You had best leave, Masha. This is now a family matter. If you speak true, assassinate the Generals of the Republic. Leave the Curia to us. Destroy your counterpart among the rebels.
Destroy Renal Sistorian.
Masha nods, and disappears with the wind.
Father stares at the spot where the skinchanger stood, sword still in his hand. His breath is heavy, almost strained. Twin Star’s lights lower themselves to his shoulders, whispering words meant only for his ears. Soon he sheaths his sword and regains his composure, turning towards me.
“The time for revenge will come, my son.” I merely nod. He continues, changing subject. “When Black Sun approached us, we were outraged by her blasphemy.”
And its extent.
“You must have felt it, too. Twin Star’s rage, burning hot.” I nod once more. “Yet we remained loyal to Black Sun, as defiance would only cause more discord. Until... The Bright Lord awakened.”
But there is truth to what Masha said. Twin Star states solemnly.
Father and Twin star exchange glances, clearly engaging in a silent discussion. They never show any signs of disagreement. When the Lord of Sistorian and its Patron Spirit speak, they do so in unity. Thus the ongoing silence grows ever more unnerving. Finally, it breaks.
Father nods. Twin Star speaks.
You led House Sistorian in the field. And though Renal may have once wielded Brilliance with as much passion and honour, it was you who did so, Kansar. Prince Kansar Sistorian, what do you advise?
All eyes are on me. Even Father looks to me for guidance.
I take one sharp breath. While there may be merit to Black Sun and Masha’s ideas, this is not the time to consider them. If we are to win this war, our men must stand strong, with the light of Radiance on shining our backs. A time for introspection will come, but it is not now.
And in the end, the truth is so simple, is it not? You free us of webs of deceit, Kansar Sistorian.
Father draws his sword once more, and raises it into the air. “Prince Kansar Sistorian! Your Prince! Ten thousand years!"
As the men take up the chant, Father bows before me. I realise what I must do.
A subtle wave of the hand. You are dismissed, Vandar Sistorian. I say.
He nods, the hint of a smile flashing across his face. And then he leaves, his guard in tow. Twin Star moves to follow and a voice fills my mind.
Remember, Prince Kansar. The bond with Radiance is broken. Broken upon his awakening. Once this war is won, it may suffice to convince Black Sun to declare as Archon of Jovinium. And carve our own path.
I display no reaction. Twin Star knows I heard. I turn my steed around to climb the hill once more, I have orders to give and lives to save.
(Kansar gathers all units and leads them to the town in the northeast. The Pride of Sakhran and the Hammer of Radiance will attempt to harass the enemy lines as they move but only if they can remain safely out of reach of the cannons and guns while doing so.)
Post by ashenmoon on Sept 22, 2015 19:42:28 GMT
Turn 28 - about 10 am - the Eclipse is starting! - turn ends Friday 25thdl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14467358/eclipse/eclipse_dominion_tactical_woopwoop_028.jpg
Another round of quick OOCish updates. Also, exhaustion has been updated. The Dominion
The Sistorian force falls back to the north, while the enemy advances to take up formation between the cavalry and the city. Scattered artillery chases the cavalry, but the main portion of the enemy’s fire power is directed south, at the city. A messenger arrives from the High Palatine, urging the cavalry to take any opportunity to charge… but they await the Prince’s command.
Inside the city, Manlia sees enough to make sure that Tilan carries out the gist of his orders. Dominion troops seek their way to the north wall. Manlia enters the tunnels with the Wardens and the Chainbreakers.
His hunch was right. Less than a kilometre through the winding passage - threading its way through a black maze of crisscrossing tunnels underground - they run into Republican soldiers. They and the Wardens are an even match - while the Wardens are weary, they are the elite of the Dominion and wield magic. But the Republican soldiers facing them are equally peerless, and utterly fearless.
The Chainbreakers soon sense their chance - though their reach is limited in the cramped stampede of the tunnel melee, they detect the black void of Inquisitor magics brewing.
They lash out. Their song echoes through the spirit realm, reverberating through the tunnel. Screams answer it. Powerful bound spirits break free - surfacing like whales from a black ocean, throwing themselves into the open air - and, like whales, soon bound once more by gravity’s pull.
Several powerful Inquisitors had been slain. More of their kind had avoided the attack, and were now hiding in the side tunnels, out of reach of Adjumot’s song.
After the exchange, the ordinary Republican soldiers fought with twice the ferocity. Danton’s men had to pull back, along with the Chainbreakers. Their fighting retreat soon brought them close to where they had started. The pale glimmer of sunlight, and beyond it the woods of the western Gardens, awaited.
Even as they looked, that pale glimmer grew fainter.
Outside the cavalry camp of the Sistorian host, the creature Masha had reformed. The noise and thunder of the Republican army milling on the plains below reached its Maurielle-shaped ears, but its eyes were gazing at the skies.
At the beginning of the eclipse.
Post by ashenmoon on Sept 23, 2015 18:13:01 GMT
Vandar Sistorian and Twin Star recede down the slope. Prince Kansar dismisses them, stepping at last into his own - regal, leading undisputed.
It was enough.
An old man’s heart broke.
A secret too enormous to bear - too important to ever reveal - burst free.
Torval Sistorian fell to his knees next to Kansar. His aides cried out, rushed to his side.
“What is it, uncle? Are you unwell?”
Tears welled on the weatherworn cheeks of the warrior.
“Brother…” he gasped, barrel chest heaving, struggling to contain the chaos that had weltered within.
“Uncle?” Kansar asked again, keenly, looking into Torval’s distorted face. Never had he seen his father’s brother in such a state - such… turmoil.
Torval’s fist grasped the prince’s shoulder, an iron vice.
“I never meant… for…”
“Uncle!” “Lord Torval!” A ring of concerned faces surrounded them.
“Renal. Oh, brother… what have I done to you?” Torval mumbled to himself.
“What, uncle? What are you talking about?” Pain radiated from Kansar’s shoulder.
“Renal! For years… he sought, with me, a way to serve Twin Star even without the Spark. Such a loyal boy... “ Eyes locking with Kansar’s, Torval startled back into lucidity. “The scars I bear, I made him give me. It was all a ploy. I hatched it. I stole my brother’s son, turned him into a turncoat, sent him into the Republic as the ultimate infiltrator… to this day, all he does, he does for us.”
Brilliance was the weight of the world, dragging down his body. Kansar fell back.
“What are you saying…”
In the distance, broken, Vandar Sistorian mounted his horse. Twin Star floated beside him. They rode away.
“Renal never betrayed us. I sent him. Together, we… we spun this web of lies. ‘Wait’, I told him. ‘Wait until the final hour. Work your treachery slowly. Worm your way into the heart of the Republic. Pretend you hate us. Never reach out. Never betray your true self, unless at the final hour - unless it means you have found a way to defeat the Republic for ever.’ This I told him. This he has followed. General Garrek does not exist. Only Renal Sistorian.”
High Palatine Manlia was carried upon a stretcher away from the battle in the tunnel. The light of the world above the surface was near, when a terrible thunder crashed through the tunnel. Behind them, the battle between the Wardens and the Republican soldiers in the subterranean passageways had taken on a different tone, a different timbre.
Adjumot, lord of the Chainbreakers, singer of the song of freedom, spoke:
“They fight one another.”
Post by Timeon on Sept 28, 2015 0:01:35 GMT
The Eclipse had come.
Like a bag thrown over one's head - sudden darkness, and suffocation. The light coursing through Manlia Suren Issander sputtered, forcing his jaws shut. He tried to hold on to it, grasp the power - but the pull was too great. Radiance was all but ripped from him, leaving him gasping. All that remained was inside of him was an echo in the cavernous dark of the Eclipse. And even that seemed to collapse, for Manlia's injuries were upon him like so many wolves.
"We come to it at last." Adjumot placed a hand upon Manlia's brow, sending a new warmth through his being, the fire of the Crucible. It burned away some of the pain, leaving a better sort of agony in its wake. The agony of a life fighting to survive, and succeeding.
And Adjumot's words came back to him.They fight one another.
Could it be Tycorro Tassar, seeded amongst the enemy, having found a way to turn them against one another? Unlikely. Yet the fighting continued. The Inquisition was trapped between Warden and Republican. Perhaps it was no more than a coup. Ambitious Avus Gula, ever the pig, hungry for glory... but how could they dare, when Radiance yet lived? If not Gula- Renal
? Impossible. Was it?
Adjumot watched him steadily, milky eyes hiding nothing, yet revealing just as little.
"Thin their numbers, Chainbreaker." Manlia gasped. "Find Gori. This time, do not kill them. This time, drive them mad. Let the spirits break the will of their hosts. Turn them into chimera."
The Chainbreaker nodded. Manlia grabbed Adjumot's arm, and met his misty gaze.
"Let the Wardens chase the Inquisition into the darkest tunnels and wipe them out. But you. We need your Chainbreakers, Adjumot. To break the army above. So meet the Inquisition and route them, but do not chase them."
"Danton." Adjumot intoned, as if not having heard his orders. The spirit realm shuddered. "There is something wrong
about my old friend, Palatine. The great Davaerid. There is a sickness deep within our self-proclaimed paragon of justice."
"Then you should have seen to it earlier, Chainbreaker. It is too late now. Or too early. Let Danton fight his fight. Our judging eye will consider him later."
Manlia looked to his trusted guard. So many slain. His two finest had perished in the Curia, one driven to the ground by Tilan Jahimis himself, the other stabbed in the back by the Aegis. Five had fallen to the Godslayers outside of Falor. Six perished on the plains. Now only three of Manlia's elite retinue remained. Four if one counted Folgar Halfborn... Folgar. My family
, he thought. He whinnied once as his healer-magi and bodyguards lifted him, to take him to the black light at the tunnel mouth.
Were they still in the city, or had Darien helped them to vanish? Pain laced his broken body, but his heart in equal part.
"Take me to Lord Radiance! Take me to Father!" Manlia Suren Issander cried to his pallbearers, twisting his head towards them.
Above, the view had quite changed. It was a parody of night. Silver shone around a black sphere, leering down at them, a void which seemed to draw all light into it - and Radiance's power with it. Manlia Suren Issander shut his eyes. The spirit realm was silent.
Silent save for a distant cacophony. An orchestra of screams. His vision, both spiritual and physical, took him south. Lit by the inferno that was the Vigil Unblinking, Manlia could see that a different kind of darkness had begun to grow before Falor - one mirroring the Eclipse itself. Lightdancer's body had been cast down by the Sistorian eagles, and a spirit well had formed.
In the dancing shadows of the fire, Manlia could see the ground retching, like the movement of so many roaches. They darted and seethed in every direction. They were spirits wearing the flesh of the fallen, an abomination. And they spilled against the walls of Falor like a hungry sea, breaking and receding with futility. Scribes would later record that fingernails could be found embedded in the walls of Falor for many years after. The swarm of the dead was not cohesive. Their chaos had spurts of direction, but these spirits made flesh wanted nothing more than to experience. And in that was chaos was madness. Like a cobweb, they spread out to their extent, testing their boundaries, finding them in the walls of Falor... and they inched north, towards the Republican camp.
This time, none barred Manlia Suren Issander's entry to the Curia. As he entered the palace, a shower of azure magic vomited over the walls from the remnants of the Last Argument. Summit, the Silver Peacock, stood with them. His wings were spread wide, destruction escaping from him in brilliant, incandescent waves. He was not Lightdancer. But he was Summit.
Then Manlia was in the Palace grounds. The Aegis stood lined to greet him, their eyes downcast. They had taken sides in the struggle in the Curia. They had killed their brethren. And they had been proven wrong for it. Maurielle turned chimera before them, Dawn Lantern writhing, Radiance, awakened. Their High Palatine, dying.
Their commander stepped forward as Manlia's retinue began to ascend the palace steps. He was Jalace, the bastard half-brother of Maurielle of Jahimis. He knelt before the High Palatine, but Manlia only waved a feeble hand towards him.
"All is forgiven."
The young man's blue eyes trembled.
"I am sorry for your sister, commander. I know you and Maurielle were close."
The commander was downcast, but then he hardened. He saluted.
"She will be destroyed, Your Grace. I have sworn to handle it myself."
"See that you do, Jalace of Jahimis. Your father is depending on you in this above all." Then Manlia's watch drifted past Jalace, to the Pillar above the palace, dim as it was now. "And my Father's hopes are with you as well. Take me to him."
There was nothing to be heard from Dawn Lantern. The Seraph must have barred himself away in his own corner of the Palace. When Manlia asked about him, Jalace could only say that he thought the Seraph always loyal, in the end. And that Radiance's awakening had humbled him. To Manlia, it only left the taste of dirt in his mouth. Dawn Lantern had failed them all. And he was sure the Seraph knew it.
The runed doors of the Curia appeared before them. Their marching boots fell silent in unison as they paused to behold them.
God-Emperor Radiance awaited beyond. The Bright Lord. The Radiant Lord. The Father of the Falorans.
A minute passed. Then two. A bead of sweat ran along the side of Manlia's head, curling past his ear. He was shaking. Fear? Anticipation? Excitement? He was awash with too many emotions to tell. He looked to commander Jalace, whose eyes were wide. He must be lost in his own mind.
The commander looked to him. There was pain there, the pain of loss. But hope, too. Manlia could place his trust in Jalace for this.
"What of my family?"
"We caught your servant, Folgar, trying to hurry your wife and daughter away. The three of them are still locked away with Dawn Lantern. We know nothing more."
Manlia trembled. Adela. Nadi.
The urge to turn course, to go to them - it hit him, but just as quickly, he suppressed it, and looked to the golden gates.
"Open them. Take me to Him."
When the gates opened, the Aegis found itself blaspheming by seeing. Radiance floated above the Throne before them, legs crossed. He appeared as a pale figure of liquid gold, almost completely featureless. His light had been snuffed out by the Eclipse. Now, even a common man could look at him. Radiance had no mouth, but a pair of all too human eyes watched the Aegis approach. Radiance's irises, Manlia noted, were orange.
The Aegis began to ascend the steps, slowly, every step measured and hesitant. Jalace never stopped staring at his God, as if expecting to be struck down in a fit of violence at any moment. Manlia could hear the heavy breathing of every man around him. But it was not the effort of carrying Manlia that made them labour so. Their God was awake. Radiance was looking at them. His eyes had started to droop, lazily. Sceptical, perhaps.
Manlia began to smile. Radiance was studying him now, an eyelid twitching with consideration. The Aegis crested the summit of the Throne. Radiance floated just above them. Radiance blinked
, and Manlia felt how the Aegis nearly dropped him. But they did not. Very slowly, they lowered him to the ground, so that Manlia was lying on his back, looking up at Radiance. Meeting his gaze.
"Leave us." Manlia rasped. "The Father must be with the Son."
The Aegis prostrated themselves. They began to weep.
"Ten thousand years!" they cried. "Lord Radiance! Ten thousand years!"
One begged forgiveness for ever doubting. Another guard grasped Manlia's hand in his own. They had been wrong.
"Go!" Jalace rasped, and the Aegis stood firm, bronze gauntlets slamming in salute.
When they were gone, Manlia smiled once again. Radiance began to descend. Soon, the God's feet unfurled, and touched the ground. Manlia felt the warmth spread from his God's feet, rushing past Manlia's back, causing him to gasp.SUREN.
Measured, but tired.
"My Lord, My God."
The spirit realm was a suffocated sunrise, but a sunrise nonetheless. And in the world of the flesh, Radiance stood as any man would, arms hanging loosely at his sides, drooping eyes betraying slow thoughts.IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME.
Manlia reached out. Radiance ignored this.
"The city is under siege, Lord. The Republic-"WHAT IS THIS WORD. REPUBLIC.
Radiance's voice was a mental one, but still Manlia could hear
it. It was in a dialect of Faloran so ancient that the common man could never hope to understand. But Manlia Suren Issander was the High Palatine. Thus was his schooling. He found himself switching to the tongue of the Emperors.
"Traitors, Lord. But the treachery is deeper than that of man. Black Sun has betrayed you. Dawn Lantern has failed you. Lightdancer. Lightdancer is dead."
Manlia Suren Issander screamed his throat raw as Radiance's eyes consumed him. He felt his very being compromised as Radiance ploughed through his mind, and Manlia found himself babbling fragmented words wherever Radiance's perusal was insufficient. Manlia's memories cascaded before him like shattering glass, some shredded with the heavy handedness of his God's study. These were the fast turning pages of a book being ripped apart. Until at last, Manlia saw himself being born. And then, nothing.YOUR MEMORIES. SUBJECTIVE. TAINTED. FRAGILE. YOU ARE DYING.
Radiance doubted. Doubted that Black Sun could betray him. That Lightdancer... could truly be dead.
"You can heal me, Lord!"
Radiance ignored him.I DO NOT FEEL MY SONS.
"Only Dawn Lantern remains with us, Lord!"
Radiance was looking ahead, past the golden gates, at the unknowable. Then his orange irises fluttered back to Manlia. The God blinked.YOU HAVE BEEN FAITHFUL.
Then a pause.NOTHING HAS TRULY CHANGED.
Manlia lifted an arm again, reaching out.
change. Why do you leave us, Lord. We have always tried. Tried so hard. Why do-"BECAUSE THERE IS NO POINT, MANLIA SUREN, SON OF ISSANDER.
Manlia Suren Issander's hand fell uselessly to his side. Something unfamiliar crept up Manlia's mind, like a spider. Doubt?
"My Lord, My God..." Manlia Suren Issander felt tears beginning to form.THE SUN SHINES. THERE IS NOTHING MORE TO THIS TRUTH. NOTHING LESS. NOTHING MORE.
NOTHING MORE IS NEEDED.
Manlia thought desperately through the endless books he had read, through the countless arguments of philosophers and scholars and past Palatines. The innumerable theses on the nature of Radiance, of his slumber. The arguments in the Curia for the nature of Varantium. For its future. For its past. In that knowledge, somewhere was surely a question, or an answer, to present to Radiance.
"You sleep because your purpose was lost, Lord." Manlia tried to convince himself. "Lost when the Dominion became a dilution of ideas. A democracy of Archons. A meaningless peace... You sleep because-"
Once more, Radiance interrupted him. This time with force that was almost physical. Above all, it was bored.BECAUSE THE STORY NEVER ENDS.
((Wardens to chase Inquisition and make contact with the traitor Republicans. Chainbreakers will help them briefly, but will not pursue the Inquisition if it escapes. The Chainbreakers will instead afterwards join the defenders at the wall to hopefully target the Inquisition outside the city. Manlia, of course, to go to Radiance. Siege of Sistorian eagles are to do a fly-by attack on the Republican artillery and are then to report to Kansar Sistorian.))
Post by conumbra on Sept 30, 2015 5:12:18 GMT
The time of the eclipse is upon me. The clock has been ticking for quite some time, and if I do not act now, all hope of concluding my mission is scattered to the four winds.
A shame I could not convince the Sistorians to lay down their blades. It may have even gone as I had hoped, were it not for the old man's outburst. Humans can be so fragile sometimes, it astounds me how you can make it through the day without collapsing. But the Sistorians were merely a quick diversion, in the hopes of obtaining some resources. The ones I had have been torn from my talons with the events inside the Palace of Light. But they would have been useless in any event. No man or woman there would have dared assault the seat of their god. I could have used the- but no they're likely useless now, in the current situation. A shame really, to leave such an asset as them alone but it would serve no one if they were to be destroyed. The Lady holds a special attachment to them as well, and she is powerful enough to give me pause when handling her gifts.
No, with the oncoming moon my physical assets will be useless. And so I must attain some spiritual ones.
But first, a diversion, a small side-trip to satiate my curiosity. That talk with the Sistorians raised so many interesting ideas in my mind. The Prince brought up the idea of replicating the merger...and the old man's outburst brought up my opposite number. There has to be one, of course. Playing both sides is ever in the Mockingbird's game. Surprised? I doubt it, but in any event, so close to the endgame there exists little use for pretension. Well some of it, anyhow. I do so enjoy my secrets, the little opiates of the mind.
But yes, if Renal is truly my opposite number, it is high time I make contact. Perhaps he can offer me resources I was unable to access before now. And if he is not like me, then perhaps he shall die. The anticipation makes even me giddy.
I flow gently towards the camp of the Republic, through the very currents of the air. I wonder how much you think I lied during the Sistorian meeting. For sure there were some truths revealed, some tantalizing bits of my self exposed, for vulnerability's sake. Not all of it was truthful, and even the truths that were there...well they were chosen carefully, at least. If you want a truth, well my outlook seems to have changed over the years of my existence, since my form could not.
The camp, sprawled out before me, looks so fragile. Deceptively so, like a colony of fire ants. Among them are men who could end my existence. The Inquisitors have proven durable enough that I am wary of their gaze. I do not know what effect their strange magic would have on me, but I can hazard a guess. Such rigid stability, such stagnation as they represent can only mean imprisonment and toil, and I wish no part of that. I descend down to the level of the camp as a breeze felt by the messengers and guards. Quickly, under cover I assume my human form once more, though with appropriate clothing at least. I keep my head down; already I can feel my form wish to change back, the faint rippling of my face. A decade of rigidity has left my essence aching for difference, and it does not enjoy being denied so. Still, if I keep my head down and do not raise suspicion, I do not think they will notice.
Flying high above the camp, I spotted the many-colored banners of the Republic horde. Renal's, placed near the central command tent. Perhaps after I deal with him, I can slay General Otakar. He had made some notoriety, I don't doubt this death would make it more difficult for the Republicans.
I keep my hearing tuned to the words around me, and the movements of those others would miss. Men and women rush through the camp. On the surface everything is as it should be, yet underneath...there is nervousness. Unease. And soon I learn the reason why. It seems our dear Renal -or Garrek, or whatever insignificant title he wishes to call himself- has taken no action whatsoever. He'd sat himself in a field beside his horse, refused to move at all. Well perhaps he is like me after all, if this is sabotage.
Most others do not bother me as I go. In all the years I was at the Curia, I had to make myself unnoticed in order to keep those who could discern my nature from investigating me too closely. Ten years of that, you learn how to travel unseen while standing in plain view. A demure posture, downcast eyes, slightly submissive mannerisms. Most simply ignore you as another person in the morass of humanity, and avert their attention. And so, I don't reach much in the way of trouble until I near Renal himself.
The defector has placed himself in an open area near the top of the hill, far from any nearby tents, trees or obstructions. It will make quick escape difficult, but against normal soldiers that shouldn't be much of a problem.
"I have a message from General Command. They said they're concerned for Garrek's lack of action." One of a pair of guards speaks up, blocking my way with a polearm.
Of course, like any decent security, they're suspicious. "General Command? What General?" they reply.
One of the pair breaks off to speak with Renal. And indeed, the rumours I heard were true. There he sits, beside his horse on the grass. Nearby are a small cluster of officers, huddled together, likely discussing why their erstwhile commander sits steadfast on the hill.
After a few moments of conversation, I am brought before the man. For a supposed Sparkless traitor, he looks...humbler than I might expect. There is no great defiance in his eyes that would mark other rebels. He seems...resigned.
Still, he is refreshingly direct in his words. "Otakar's dead, and you're a liar. If you're here to kill me, get on with it. Otherwise, get to the point and stop wasting my time."
His men, naturally, keep their hands close by their weapons. I doubt their arms could do much to hurt me, but the attention is worrisome. Already some of the officers are diverting their gazes to see what is going on.
Alright, time to improvise. He doesn't want the actual truth. What he wants, what most humans want, is a believable fiction. So a lie that seems like concession, seems like an admission, something he will believe in. Mix in a probe of his true intentions, and this should be enough. I steady my posture some more, change it to seem in keeping with my new words, my sudden confidence.
"Very well, the truth, if you wish it. I was sent here to meet and have tea with you, so to speak. One of the members of the Curia sees the way the wind is blowing, and they wish to discuss their place in the coming times, with someone who understands their viewpoint."
The final seconds before he retorts are agonizing. My next actions hinge on this moment.
"No negotiations." He says. "Go home. The final day dawns, and every man ought to know where their loyalties lie. I won't deal with those whose banner is a weather vane."
Ah. So he is not like me. Then all that remains will be whether he lives, or dies. I glance around. If there is an Inquisitor here, my task will become much more complicated. A brief moment to concentrate, and I worm my mind into the realm of the spirits. My former home, it beckons to my view. A look around, and yes indeed, one of the officers bears a...negation. Like someone had cut a human-shaped hole in the spirit world. This is not even death, it's a lack of existence. It is all I can do to close my spiritual gaze, before the emptiness fills my mind. Complicated indeed.
I bow my head and turn to leave. While I might consider killing Renal in another time, right now I cannot jeopardize my existence to do so. So near the completion of my goal, such a rash move would end my existence if performed poorly, and I cannot see much to gain from it, outside of seeing another human perish, which admittedly does have a certain...desirability...to it.
The men look to bar my way, but a wave of Renal's hand, and I walk away, easy as that. A quick duck behind a tent, and another breeze winds its way from the Republic camp. Time to receive those spiritual assets I had in mind.
Below me, I see the dead rise. Lightdancer's death has broken a rift between worlds, and these are one of the results. Such bravery lies within them. The courage, to flee the only home you have ever known and to take up residence in this one, it is one of the greatest transformations a spirit can undergo. There is something worthy of admiration in that, I think, even if most don't know what to do once they come through.
The spirit well is like a great void in this world. Staring into it from above, all I see is a black, heatless flame. It roils and twists under no material breeze, and within the lightless fire I can see glimpses of a rampaging horde. Ephemeral claws, talons, rend and rip and tear and trample their own kind in a desperate bid to enter the hole between worlds. Even open as it was, there were some spirits still too weak to make the crossing, and others happily tore them to shreds as they passed, only for the weak ones to reform and try to claw their way through anyway.
I sit there for a moment. Did I do this magnificence? Lightdancer is dead by my hand, surely this is my doing. This is beauty, in its own way, this roiling mass of darkness and possibility. I float high above the gateway between two worlds.
I do not know fully what new existence will await me once this is completed. But I know how to guide them, to bind them to a purpose that will see my mission completed. The spirits here, some of them can be put to use. As Radiance's power falls, so there are spirits of concepts who will gain from this. Spirits of light have ruled Varantium for far too long, I think. Time for the old to make way for the raw potentiality of the new.
I float down, just above the border between the Spirit well and our world. The blackened flames suffuse the very air around me, coiling around and through me, filling me with the whispers of those beyond as they feel my presence. Many shirk away from me, fearful of what I am, what I represent. For I am spirit bound permanently to the Material, and this scares them more than anything. Not mere existence, but a blend of the two worlds, I seem unnatural even to those who I might once have called kindred.
A thousand times I have tempted fate. One more won't hurt.
...Chimera...Exile...Harlot of the flesh...Why do you approach?...What is it, something new?....I will rip and tear your flesh...The world's fruit beckon...We offer power, take it, see us loosened...Power for power.
The horde is almost too much to take in at once, a cacophony of voices all seeking my attention, all seeking to bargain, or to destroy, or to question. Weaklings, the lost of them. A good portion manage to go enter the Material world, but they stay near as wisps, curiosity overriding the raw hedonism that fills their essence at this moment.
"I bring a bargain of my own. Hear me, spirits of darkness, of the voids between stars, of hidden secrets and treachery veiled under the cover of night. Hear me, bats and owls, nocturnal carrion beast. The sun is being swallowed in the sky, heralding the omen of profound transformation. And as the sun is swallowed, so too is the great light of Varantium weakened. Too long have spirits of light smothered your kind. Together, we can smother great Radiance as the sun is being smothered, and bring forward unending darkness."
...Material problems...What do we care?...Light burns us...Smother it...Suffocate...Consume...Snuff it out...What's in it for us?...What do you offer?...Power for power.
"Right now you pine and struggle to get a brief taste of the mortal world's bounty. Join with me, and instead of these scraps of experience, I will provide you with the sweetest flesh of all. The Golden form of Radiance possesses great power, even in his weakened state. Those who join me will be able to take that power once he is gone, and that of those around him. You will have all the flesh and spirit your gluttony can sustain. Join me, and there will be a feast beyond your imagination."
...Hunger...Feed us...Give us more...need more...Madness if we accept...Great risks...What do you offer?...Power for power.
"In addition to what is to come, I offer myself. Once the pact is sealed, I will no longer be singular. We shall work together as a great collective, a swarm of darkness enveloping all that we touch. I will not be as one; we will be as many, and I humbly offer you this, to seal the pact. Take my sense of self, rip it into pieces, and thereby will the agreement be forged. I am willing to give what I expect from you. Now join with me fellow spirits, join and we shall bring the void to Varantium!
I suppose this is farewell then. Whatever comes out these blackened flames next will no longer be the same Masha, or Maurielle for that matter. Truth be told this is a last gamble, born of desperation and partly obsession. But like I said, my outlooks have changed. And so, with one last goodbye, I sink into the darkness.
Post by ashenmoon on Oct 4, 2015 19:27:49 GMT
Turn 29 - about 12 am - about 4 hours (2 turns) left of the Eclipse - turn ends Friday 9thdl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14467358/eclipse/eclipse_dominion_tactical_woopwoop_029.jpg The Dominion
The Sistorian cavalry watched in the gathering dark as fire and magic blossomed among the Republican lines. Torches were lit, and the fields became a reflection of the stars above - but far more chaotic, lurid fires lighting black towers of smoke rising from far-away Falor.
Tracing the movement of armies in the eclipse was like watching a swarm of fireflies in the night. The Sistorian lords determined, from what they could make out, that the enemy was assaulting Falor, and that only a minor force remained facing the Sistorians. Some worried this was only a feint: that in the dark, the Republicans had quenched their torches to lure them into a trap.
The landscape was swarming with scattered parties of men of both sides, a confused nightmare of hinted-at strategems and lost opportunities.
And still the cavalry did nothing. Both Lord Torval and Prince Kansar were deliberating. At the Palace of Light
Inside the Palace of Light, high atop the Cariapolis and overlooking the ancient city of Falor, is the hall of the Curia. For millennia, this has been the home of the God-King Radiance and his court of mortals and seraphs.
Now, High Palatine Manlia Suren Issander lay dying on a stretcher at the floor of the Curia. Above him, atop his high throne, sat the god-king himself - no longer a blinding light but visible to the mortal eye, a golden humanoid form mouthless and with eyes like copper coins. The painted-glass windows facing the city to the east and south were shattered, shards scattered over the floor amidst pools of blood and splinters of wood. The rows of seats were still in disarray, the marks of battle yet visible, but no more than a handful of men were present - wandering the aisles, raising falling chairs, cleaning away smears of blood.
The doors of the Curia were thrown wide open and Davaerid, Danton Redwind, last acolyte of the Arbiter and his only remaining Warden, marched in.
His hard-bitten followers came after, scores of them, weary and battle-worn. Three of them held on to silver chains that pulled forth a great panther, sleek-skinned and with flashing eyes. Black Sun - the Seraph and daughter of Radiance.
More held on to ethereal tethers that bound the High Inquisitor Gori and a dozen of his followers. They were all led into the Curia, shoved to their knees.
The prisoners gazed up at Him - the devil, the slaver; the creature that had usurped mankind’s destiny; the Lord of Light, the Prince of the Morning, the God-King, the Archon; The Radiant Lord.
A warden kicked him savagely, doubling the High Inquisitor over, coughing.
“Danton,” wheezed the Palatine. “What is this…”
“Here is the slattern,” grated the last Warden, indicating Black Sun - “the traitor. I caught her trying to render aid to these ungodly blasphemers.”-daughter-
Radiant Lord’s voice reverberated through the spirit realm. Even weakened by the eclipse, diminished to a fraction of his original strength, the voice - the presence - of the God-King of Varantium brought several of the Wardens to gasping tears.
“Ten thousand years!” they wailed, though no one listened. -daughter… what is this-
The panther slumped on the floor, dejected, said nothing.
“Her treason is no more. All her plots have failed. Even now, as the Republic launches a desperate final attack on our walls, she knows she has failed. She tried to bring the Inquisition here - here! To the sanctity of the Curia!” Davaerid sputtered, red-faced, stopped suddenly.
“... but Danton,” the Palatine breathed, “what… why have you brought him here?”
Gori looked up. He smiled, teeth red with blood.
The Warden paid no heed. He fell to his knees, cradled his own head, talking to himself. His followers glanced between themselves, confused.
A terrible silence fell upon the assembly.
Danton Redwind, last acolyte of the Arbiter, whispered madly to himself. In the acoustics of the Curia, his voice carried far: “no… no it cannot be… it is but I… damn you! DAMN YOU!” he screamed.
One of the wardens’ prisoners - Dynkar, leader of the godslayers - burst out laughing.
One by one, the Inquisitors began to laugh. Mad, insane, the laughter of men sentenced to death, watching with glee their prison burn around them.
“Danton!” the Palatine cried.
With a visible effort, the last Warden recovered his senses, straightened up.
Gori was laughing, maniacal, hysterical laughter pealing throughout the Curia, repeating, increasing, mocking.
“... I condemn you. You have established a system of inequality, where mortals and spirits under your rule have not been held to the same set of laws: this is against the Common Law, and I condemn you to fines and to redress the injustices of your rule. You have enslaved mortals through the system of Tributes without honoring a Pact or repayment: this is against the Common Law, and for this I condemn you to imprisonment with no...”
The Warden fell to the floor, sobbing.
“... no appeal! And… you have... you have taken possession of a human body: this is against the Common Law, and for this I condemn you as a chimera and sentence you to death.” Maurielle Jahimis
A thousand thousand minds converged upon hers: the creature Masha felt the surge of impossible power - knew it was too much, that she was doomed, that she had gone too far, that she was splintering, that her mad magics flung into the maw of the spirit well had created something far beyond her control and intention-
Among the thousand thousand, one overwhelmed, consumed, all the others.
A gulf of nothingness yawned. The chaos of the spirit well disappeared, became an all-consuming darkness.
A mind of the abyss touched what remained of Masha. A darkness beyond night, beyond stars: a nothingness. Instinctively, she recoiled - but found tendrils of her self snared in this Otherness. Panic filled what remained of her mind. She had been prepared to lose herself - a creature of chaos, faithful to the Mockinglord to the last - but this, this was too much - this was not chaos, but nothingness, more dead than death, non-existence incarnate: a Daimon such as this would render the world asunder-
A halberd of stars sliced through the cosmos, world-encompassing.
Maurielle Jahimis screamed, pummelled sooted earth, face contorting, fists bleeding. Howling, crying, screeching her flesh-and-blood throat raw, she let out her anguish, her pain, her torment. She twisted and she tossed and she turned, exhausting herself, straining herself so that her vision flashed and she saw spots of light move across the insides of her eyelids. Her body ached: her every joint was laced with agony, cloth tortured her sensitive skin - she tore it off, tossed it aside.
Naked, curled into a ball, her sobs slowly slowed.
Through red-rimmed eyes, reborn, Maurielle Jahimis looked up at the Avatar towering before her.
Twisted ebony armour gleamed in the unnatural night. Superimposed, her vision doubled - seeing two worlds at once: a silhouette of stars, a hole through the universe, tendrils of galaxies fluttering like smoke from the halberd in its hands.
The plains before Falor were quiet. The spirit well was no more.
“What-” she asked, but the Silhouette had disappeared.