The World of Farael!


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The start is that an angel, Farael, has been thrown out of the Heavens, and he fell to an unknown world. He woke up in an unfamilar place with few memories of his prior life. Also, he has blue skin covered with intricate runes, and glowing, yellow eyes. What happenes next?


An ominous but still benevolent young (?) priestess of a death goddess informs the angel of what she had visioned during a period of meditation. He seems to have been cursed with the runes of servitude by some unknown master of the arcane arts that had struck him down to this world. As for what he plans to do about the situation, she leaves it up to him to find out while she walks away from the scene itself. The goddess has plans for this one, and it's not her business to pry into them.


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He joins the x-men?


Sotiria Spiros wrote:
An ominous but still benevolent young (?) priestess of a death goddess informs the angel of what she had visioned during a period of meditation. He seems to have been cursed with the runes of servitude by some unknown master of the arcane arts that had struck him down to this world. As for what he plans to do about the situation, she leaves it up to him to find out while she walks away from the scene itself. The goddess has plans for this one, and it's not her business to pry into them.

Not knowing what else to do, Farael decided to follow her. He discovered that he is in a Wastedland. It looked like a desert with rocky hills and lifeless trees. Ravens were following them. The priestess knew that he was following her, but she continued to walk. After a day of walking through the land, they came upon a decrepit looking temple. It was adorned with statues of skulls and ravens. The priestess looked back once, and then she entered through the skull gate of the temple.

Farael didn't know what to do. Should be enter a temple of death to seek out answers, or should he go elsewhere in this unknown world?


Kryzbyn wrote:
He joins the x-men?

While he was trying to decide what to do, a strange looking man approached him. He had long, white hair, dark skin, and he was carrying a bow with a quiver of silver arrows.

"Are you one of the Expired?" The man asked.

"I am not dead, if that is what you mean," Farael said.

"Yes, that is what I meant. My name is Kryzbyn, by the way. What is your name?"

"My name is Farael."

"I am honored to meet you. I couldn't help but see you staring at the temple. I saw you walk out of the Wastedland with the priestess. I think her name is Sotiria."

"Do you know her?"

"I know her too well. Are you going to go inside to talk with her?"

"I don't know," Farael said.


Farael felt there was more, much more to this situation than he could see. In many cultures, he knew that beginnings always coloured what they started. Thus, seeking death at this point, even symbolically, was foolish. He resolved not to enter, but raised his voice and called to the priestess: You have my word that I will return at one point of my travels.


Sissyl wrote:
Farael felt there was more, much more to this situation than he could see. In many cultures, he knew that beginnings always coloured what they started. Thus, seeking death at this point, even symbolically, was foolish. He resolved not to enter, but raised his voice and called to the priestess: You have my word that I will return at one point of my travels.

The priestess did not answer back, but he felt like he heard her.

"So, Farael, what are you going to travel to now? What is it that you are seeking?"

"Answers. I do not know why I am here. The priestess of death told me that I was cursed with these Runes of Servitude on my body by some unknown master of the arcane arts. That is why I am on this world. She also said that the goddess of death had plans for me."

"Yes, that sounds like being cursed to me. Look, I am what you may called in-between jobs at the moment, so I might be able to help. I have a friend, so to speak, who lives in a town about 10 leagues east of here. She is very wise, and she knows a great deal about lots of things. However, she is also very strange. You will probably like her."

"What is her name?"

"Sissyl. As I said she is very strange in both mind and body, but by the looks of you I don't think you will mind. However, if charges a price for any questions asked of her. You wouldn't happen to have a bag of gold somewhere?"

"If by gold you mean money, then know. I don't remember ever needing it before where I came from."

"Well, on this world you need gold and lots of it just to survive. We can talk about it more on the way. Between the two of us I am sure we can find a way to make some gold. By the way, what are you? I can tell you aren't Human, and thats a good thing."

"I think I was an angel before I came here."

"An angel from the Heavens? I thought they all had wings?"

"I don't know. Maybe I lost them along with my memories."

"Its all right, maybe Sissyl will help you. Let us go now, we have a long walk ahead of us to..."


"....I cast the runes upon these sands,.......
an angel cast down in the dirt,.....
seek the garden's guard whose hands,
grasp a brand of fiery hurt...."

Scarab Sages

What color is the sky?

Can Farael decipher any of the runes on his skin?

Does he have powers? Perhaps a gregarious floating skull companion?


Mad Hermit Runecaster wrote:

"....I cast the runes upon these sands,.......

an angel cast down in the dirt,.....
seek the garden's guard whose hands,
grasp a brand of fiery hurt...."

As the two walked to the town, and it was starting to get dark, they saw a horrific looking man walking towards them in the middle of the road. When he saw Farael he laughed and said,

"...I cast the runes upon these sands,...
an angel cast down in the dirt,...
seek the garden's guard whose hands,
grasp a brand of fiery hurt..."

He then laughed again and ran past them.

"Who was that?" Farael asked.

"Its just the local hermit. He is quite mad. I have heard tales that he was once a powerful Runecaster, but when he went mad he stopped casting runes. Now he just begs for gold and he lives in the hills," Kryzbyn said.

"Maybe I can talk to him and ask him questions?"

"Not now. We have to keep moving. Its starting to get dark and the Expired will start coming out. If they do then we will have to fight them off. I hope you know how to fight. I can protect myself, but not both of us."

"I don't know. I will have to see when the fighting starts."


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

What color is the sky?

Can Farael decipher any of the runes on his skin?

Does he have powers? Perhaps a gregarious floating skull companion?

As soon as the Sun set, they heard sounds coming from the trees on the side of the road. The recently Expired began to stumble out of the woods, and they were coming towards them. Kryzbyn took out his bow and he began to shoot his arrows. He was a very good shot; several of the Expired fell with silver arrows in their heads. However, several of them attacked Farael.

He didn't know what to do, so he tried to push them away. As soon as he touched one of them, the runes on his skin glowed with a bright light and a white lightning erupted from his hands. The Expired that were near him exploded. The other Expired slowly turned away back into the forest.

"What in the Hells was that?" Kryzbyn asked.

"I don't know. I didn't make that happen. I didn't control it."

"Interesting. I hope Sissyl can decipher those runes. We don't have to worry about the Expired attacking us again. Come on, let's go. We will be there by morning so we can see the blue sky again. Maybe we can make some gold too."

As they continued walking they didn't notice a gregarious, floating skull following them...

Dark Archive

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Meanwhile, far across the land, in the distant mage-empire that rules this world, a sinister force watches through disembodied eyes. A mighty elemental lord observes the fallen one and his vagabond companion as they travel, and his face twists with an expression of distaste.

"What troubles you, sir?" an attendant inquires, drawing the Dark Knight from his reverie.

"A force has begun to move," replies the master, though his gaze never departs from the vision before him. "A ravager has appeared, and has dared the night. It seems the Expired will be of no use against this one. His touch renders them to ash."

"Shall we dispatch the Knights, my lord?" a captain inquires. Her hand reaches eagerly for the weapon at her side.

"Not yet," the leader answers. "They must pass through the forest first. Perhaps the natives of that feral place will spare us the effort. The forest is full of deadly things eager for the lifeblood of mortals. And should the Blooms be disturbed, they might be so conveniently placed as forest guardians themselves, completely under the control of the Forest Mother Alraune."

Nods and murmurs around the room confirm the Dark Knight's assessment.

"Nevertheless, let us be prepared," he adds. "Dispatch a contingent of armed slaves to the western border. Make sure their collars are functional - I will not stand for another revolt. Tell them to seek the dark archer and the tattooed angel, and destroy them both. They must NOT reach the lair of the seer. Am I understood?"

More murmurs of assent, followed by the attendants and underlings departing to do their lord's will. The master turns his attention fully back to the scene before him as Farael and Kryzbyn near the haunted wood. Farael... at last, you have come. I have waited long for this moment. Let us see what dance Fate has in store for you... this time.


Culex, The Talons of Temrath wrote:

Meanwhile, far across the land, in the distant mage-empire that rules this world, a sinister force watches through disembodied eyes. A mighty elemental lord observes the fallen one and his vagabond companion as they travel, and his face twists with an expression of distaste.

"What troubles you, sir?" an attendant inquires, drawing the Dark Knight from his reverie.

"A force has begun to move," replies the master, though his gaze never departs from the vision before him. "A ravager has appeared, and has dared the night. It seems the Expired will be of no use against this one. His touch renders them to ash."

"Shall we dispatch the Knights, my lord?" a captain inquires. Her hand reaches eagerly for the weapon at her side.

"Not yet," the leader answers. "They must pass through the forest first. Perhaps the natives of that feral place will spare us the effort. The forest is full of deadly things eager for the lifeblood of mortals. And should the Blooms be disturbed, they might be so conveniently placed as forest guardians themselves, completely under the control of the Forest Mother Alraune."

Nods and murmurs around the room confirm the Dark Knight's assessment.

"Nevertheless, let us be prepared," he adds. "Dispatch a contingent of armed slaves to the western border. Make sure their collars are functional - I will not stand for another revolt. Tell them to seek the dark archer and the tattooed angel, and destroy them both. They must NOT reach the lair of the seer. Am I understood?"

More murmurs of assent, followed by the attendants and underlings departing to do their lord's will. The master turns his attention fully back to the scene before him as Farael and Kryzbyn near the haunted wood. Farael... at last, you have come. I have waited long for this moment. Let us see what dance Fate has in store for you... this time.

Farael felt someone watching them. The feeling was something familar from long ago, but he could not remember it. He remembered a name. Culex. The name meant nothing to him, but it still bothered him.

"We need to leave this forest soon," Farael said. "I have a bad feeling about this place. I think we are being watched."

"Of course we are being watched," Kryzbyn said. "The Expired must be watching us from the forest."

"No, it's something or someone else. Is there a quicker way out of the forest?"

"Yes, but we would have to leave the road and cut through the forest. I know all of the trails through the forest. It would cut our travel time in half, but there are others things in the woods besides the Expired to worry about."

"We don't have time to worry about it. We have to go now."

"All right then, my blue friend, then let us depart. Follow me."

Kryzbyn ran into the forest and Farael followed him. He cut through the woods like someone would go through their house. Kryzbyn knew the forest well. After a long time he found a clearing and stopped.

"You may not get tired and hungry, but I do," Kryzbyn said. "Stay here and I will go get us some berries to eat. You do eat, don't you?"

"I believe so. I have been feeling weak lately, and I have been feeling pains in my throat and stomach."

"What you are feeling, Farael, is hunger and thirst. Apparently the fall you took changed you into one of us mortals. Don't move, I'll be back!" Kryzbyn disappeared into the forest without a sound.

Farael waited for a time, until he heard a sound from the forest.

"Is that you, Kryzbyn?"

There was no response, but he heard a crashing sound and then he saw a tree move. Then another tree moved and still another. It wasn't long before the trees started to move closer to Farael. He tried to run, but he felt his legs and arms being held by vines. They were very strong.

One of the trees moved towards him with unlikely speed, and he saw the trunk open up into what looked a mouth full of wooden teeth. Apparently, the trees were hungry too. Farael opened his mouth to yell, and his voice sounded like thunder. He simply said, "STOP!" The trees stopped.

White lightning crackled all around him and the vines burned away. The lightning reached out and struck each tree, setting them ablaze. Farael looked on in shock, and he noticed that once again the runes covering his body were glowing.

He also noticed something else. There was a light rain that fell from the tree tops. The rain quickly put out the fire. The walking trees retreated from him in apparent fear. Then he saw her.

She looked Elven in appearence. He hair was green, and her clothes looked like leaves and bark. They covered up her private parts, but left nothing else to the imagination. She looked at Farael with intense eyes.

"Try not to do that again, Stranger. Those Blooms are ancient," she said.

"They tried to eat me. I had to defend myself," Farael said.

"I wish they had eaten you. Both of you, in fact."

"Is Kryzbyn with you? Has he been harmed?"

"No, he is alive still. Come, the Forest Mother Alraune has summoned you. I have been commanded to take you to her. She wants to speak with you. I hope it doesn't last long."

She turned and walked through the forest; the trees parted for her. Farael followed close behind...

Scarab Sages

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No one who wasn't looking for such a thing would have noticed the strange little skull, barren and bleached save for its googly eyes looking quite fresh in their sockets, floating on the horizon. Though it had been quietly muttering to itself the whole time up till now, after what it had just seen it was at a loss for words.

But not for too long. It began analyzing its predicament.

"Item 1: I've forgotten who - and exactly what - I am, and have before me someone who looks to be in the same boat.

Item 2: I find that my fellow amnesiac, an imposing, blue, tattooed gent who looks like he'll sooner be able to obliterate armies than remember his own thrice-damned name, simultaneously inspires empathy, sympathy, kinship, tantalizing familiarity, and a serious case of the willies. He could use a friend. So could I.

Item 3: I just saw a mighty and glorious paragon of womanhood possessed of no reservations whatsoever against proving the fact, and words cannot begin to measure my sudden lust! She could use a...a...well....

Item 4: Items 2 and 3 appear to have antagonized one another. Must I choose a side? Can't we all just get along?"

Clearly, the skull was preoccupied.

Several meters away, in a lonely and rather out-of-place pineapple tree, another spectator preferred it this way.

Back at the temple of bones, an imposing vulture flew into its belfry and rapped with its beak 4 times on the largest bell.

Within a 5-kilometer radius of the area in which Farael had first found himself, a mild earthquake shook the land for a good 9 seconds.

Of those last three events, only one meant nothing.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

No one who wasn't looking for such a thing would have noticed the strange little skull, barren and bleached save for its googly eyes looking quite fresh in their sockets, floating on the horizon. Though it had been quietly muttering to itself the whole time up till now, after what it had just seen it was at a loss for words.

But not for too long. It began analyzing its predicament.

"Item 1: I've forgotten who - and exactly what - I am, and have before me someone who looks to be in the same boat.

Item 2: I find that my fellow amnesiac, an imposing, blue, tattooed gent who looks like he'll sooner be able to obliterate armies than remember his own thrice-damned name, simultaneously inspires empathy, sympathy, kinship, tantalizing familiarity, and a serious case of the willies. He could use a friend. So could I.

Item 3: I just saw a mighty and glorious paragon of womanhood possessed of no reservations whatsoever against proving the fact, and words cannot begin to measure my sudden lust! She could use a...a...well....

Item 4: Items 2 and 3 appear to have antagonized one another. Must I choose a side? Can't we all just get along?"

Clearly, the skull was preoccupied.

Several meters away, in a lonely and rather out-of-place pineapple tree, another spectator preferred it this way.

Back at the temple of bones, an imposing vulture flew into its belfry and rapped with its beak 4 times on the largest bell.

Within a 5-kilometer radius of the area in which Farael had first found himself, a mild earthquake shook the land for a good 9 seconds.

Of those last three events, only one meant nothing.

Farael and his female companion felt the earthquake.

"Did you do that?" Farael asked.

"No, it wasn't me. That was not a natural occurance. We must hurry."

She started running and Farael ran after her. The woods parted for them both until they reached a very large clearing. Gathered there were many forest folk dressed like the woman. Farael saw that the trees themselves formed a circle around the clearing, and they looked like they were watching him. He also saw all manner of animals also watching and waiting.

"Farael! I am happy to see you!" It was Kryzbyn and he was holding a handful of berries. He handed them to Farael who immeaditely ate them.

"As soon as I left," Kryzbyn said, "the trees themselves captured me. I have been traveling in these woods since my youth, and that has never happened before. You bring out the worse in people, Farael."

"Silence! We should have feed you to the Blooms years ago! You are nothing but an annoying pest who using the forest as a playground! The Forest Mother is coming!"

One of the largest trees around the clearing "walked" towards them. It began to change shape into a giant woman. He skin was as brown as tree bark, her hair was the color of tree leaves, and her eyes were as black as coal. When she spoke, her voice echoed throughout the forest.

Your coming has been expected, Farael. Your arrival was foretold long ago. The pieces of the Great Game are falling into place. Your fall will bring many great changes to the World, both good and bad.

"Why am I here? Who placed these runes on me? Why can't I remember my past?"

You have many questions, but you are not ready for the answers. In time you will be, when you face him for the fate of the World.[i]

"Who will I face? Is this person's name Culex?"

[i]When the time is right, you will know his name. My servant Wynnym will escort you out of the forest and into the town of Zurn. There you will find some of the answers you seek.

"Please, Forest Mother, no! Choose someone else!" Wynnym pleaded. However, Alraune seemed not to hear and she disappeared back into the forest.

"I guess you are part of the party now," Kryzbyn said to her.

Wynnym struck him quickly with a tree vine.

"Do not speak to me! Come, I must obey my Mother. It will be Sunrise soon. I want to get this task over with."

So the three departed from the clearing, and in the distance a grinning, floating skull followed.

"I want to join the party," it said. It floated along unnoticed...


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Sissyl was concerned. She had stood polishing her hundredth chitin golem's breastplate when she realized there had been some kind of change in the very atmosphere of the world around her. From the sad, broken status quo, there was the beginnings of a promise of breaking up, like the first warm wind in spring. She had done her rituals, taking her time to make certain the results were as good as they could be. The piles of iridescent insect wings lay in heaps before her now, as she sat staring at them in her workroom. The only light was a small candle-flame, and it reflected against the tiny symbols and patterns on the table. Sissyl searched for their meaning, until the world eventually intruded once again and the wings became merely wings again.

"Strange. So close, and so strong. It does indeed seem they are headed here. Such a being will stir up many other pairs of eyes. Best make sure I have some aid to give him once he gets here."

She pondered the chitinous golems. They had wings, certainly, but they were clumsy fliers and would take far too long to get there to help Farael. And, the divination had been clear. The blue man would get to her house. It was entirely uncertain whether he would still live by then, though... Sissyl decided, as so many other times, to wait. She had oceans of patience.

Scarab Sages

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As previously mentioned, somewhere in the waste beyond the tree line stood a single pineapple tree, which any half-decent naturalist would have observed seemed quite out of its element. Something stirred within it.

"It's been a dull little world of late, hasn't it?" Thought a thinker to itself. "Peaceful, yes, but a certain kind of peace - the kind one feels after one's lost a war. It's no fun any more."

A single large, ripe pineapple fell from the tree and bounced several yards across the ground...and in spite of the familiar dictates of botany and physics, continued to bounce merrily onward from there.

"Isn't it time for a holiday? Time for, perhaps...a Game?"


Sissyl wrote:

Sissyl was concerned. She had stood polishing her hundredth chitin golem's breastplate when she realized there had been some kind of change in the very atmosphere of the world around her. From the sad, broken status quo, there was the beginnings of a promise of breaking up, like the first warm wind in spring. She had done her rituals, taking her time to make certain the results were as good as they could be. The piles of iridescent insect wings lay in heaps before her now, as she sat staring at them in her workroom. The only light was a small candle-flame, and it reflected against the tiny symbols and patterns on the table. Sissyl searched for their meaning, until the world eventually intruded once again and the wings became merely wings again.

"Strange. So close, and so strong. It does indeed seem they are headed here. Such a being will stir up many other pairs of eyes. Best make sure I have some aid to give him once he gets here."

She pondered the chitinous golems. They had wings, certainly, but they were clumsy fliers and would take far too long to get there to help Farael. And, the divination had been clear. The blue man would get to her house. It was entirely uncertain whether he would still live by then, though... Sissyl decided, as so many other times, to wait. She had oceans of patience.

Farael, Kryzbyn, Wynnym (plus the unnoticed, floating skull) left the forest as dawn approached, and they walked through the Hathor Hills. In the hills was the town of Zurn. It was built into the side of a valley, and it was shaped like a bowl. Houses were built into the side of the valley as it descented down to the bottom. Farael noticed that the appearence of the houses improved as they approached the bottom, until they came to what he assumed was the town square.

"This is where I grew up," Kyrzbyn said. "As you can tell, I look different. I was an orphan, abandoned by my parents on the streets of Zurn. A Church of Lights took me into their orphanage. It was mostly a happy childhood, but the other orphans picked on me. When I was old enough I ran away into the woods, and that is where I finally felt at peace. Unless, of course, I am with Wynnym."

"Shut up! Where is this Sissyl's house? I want to be done with you once and for all!"

"Its very close, my plumcake," Kryzbyn said.

"Why does she hate you so much?" Farael asked.

"It's a long story, Blue-One. You might say it's complicated. If I had more time I would tell you, but we are almost there."

They went through a maze of houses, buildings, shops and warehouses all built together. Finally, Kryzbyn pointed to a strange looking house that was separate from the others. It was decorated with the statues of winged creatures that Farael immeaditely recognized.

"Angels," he said. "It looks like Sissyl likes angels."

"Then that means good luck for you," Kryzbyn said. "Maybe you will get your wings back afterall."

Farael doubted that it would be this easy. He still felt that he was being watched, and something terrible was about to happen.

"How well do you know Sissyl?" Farael asked.

"Not too well. I just know that she is some sort of all-knowing {i}Seer[/i], and for a small donation she will answer your questions. I asked her a question once, and she was right. However, the answers usually lead to other questions."

"Then there is no point waiting. I guess I will knock on her..."

That was when they heard a loud BOOM and shouting from the other side of the town.

"What is that?" Kryzbyn said just before a giant fireball struck Sissyl's house. It exploded in bright flames that knocked the three of them down (and the it sent the unnotice, floating skull flying).

"NO!" Farael yelled. As he stood up he noticed that Wynnym was hurt. A brick from Sissyl's house had struck her head and she was bleeding. Kryzbyn immediately picked her up.

"We have got to get out of here now!" Farael said. "Which way do we go?"

"It doesn't matter, just run! I will follow you!"

Farael ran, and Kryzbyn ran after him holding Wynnym. All around him fireballs were striking houses, and people were running for their lives. It was minutes later when they noticed them.

Hundreds of swording welding soldiers dressed in black, metallic armor were slaughtering anyone they caught. They were all wearing a bright, red collars around their necks that glowed.

"Those are Temrathi slave-soldiers!" Kyrzbyn said. "They must be here for you!"

Seeing the soldiers cut down innocent people filled Farael with rage, and that was when his runes began to glow. Kryzbyn dropped to the ground and covered Wynnym.

White lightning surrounded Farael and it flew towards the soldiers. Their black armor exploded. He ran past him and he saw what was throwing the fireballs. It looked like a giantic cannon on wheels pushed by slaves. Some sort of dark wizard was operating it. It was on the eastern rim of Zurn, and it was raining fireballs down onto the town.

Farael pointed at the fire cannon and he yelled STOP! The white lightning left his fingertips and the cannon was destroyed, along with anyone near it. Farael was too preoccupied to notice one of the slave-soldiers strike him from behind with his sword. His runes glowed and the sword did not penerate his skin.

Farael turned around and struck the soldier once with his fist. His hand went through the armor and the soldier died instantly. He saw that the surviving soldiers were retreating. That was when the runes stopped glowing, and Farael was back in control again.

Most of Zurn was now in ruins. He saw that Krysbyn was kneeling by Wynnym. Her head was badly cut and covered by blood. Farael knelt by her.

"Can you help her?" Kryzbyn asked

Farael reached out and touched her forehead. He concentrated with all of his might, and his hands glowed lightly. Wynnym's wound healed and she woke up.

"In the name of Alraune!" She said. She noticed that Kryzbyn was holding her so she quickly stood up.

"What happened?" Wynnym asked.

"I think this was about me. I felt that something terrible was about to happen. I have got to leave here and get away from anyone. No one else should be hurt because of me."

"If it's answers you want, Angel, then I might be able to help you."

They all turned around and saw a floating, grinning skull looking at them.

"Follow me if you want to live," it said.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

As previously mentioned, somewhere in the waste beyond the tree line stood a single pineapple tree, which any half-decent naturalist would have observed seemed quite out of its element. Something stirred within it.

"It's been a dull little world of late, hasn't it?" Thought a thinker to itself. "Peaceful, yes, but a certain kind of peace - the kind one feels after one's lost a war. It's no fun any more."

A single large, ripe pineapple fell from the tree and bounced several yards across the ground...and in spite of the familiar dictates of botany and physics, continued to bounce merrily onward from there.

"Isn't it time for a holiday? Time for, perhaps...a Game?"

The pineapple continued to bounce across the Wastedland until it bounced to the Temple of Death, which was appropriately covered in bones. It "knocked" on the skullgate several times before it opened. A woman with pale white skin and red eyes opened the door. She saw the pineapple and at first did not know what to think of it.

"Would you like to play a Game?" The pineapple said. Of course, she knew that the voice was coming from the fruit itself. It was coming from somewhere.

LET THE PINEAPPLE IN!

Sotiria knew the Voice of Death when she heard it, and it still filled her with awe. She opened the gate, and the pineapple rolled in...

Scarab Sages

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Upon hearing what it had just told the assembly in front of it, a small voice at the back of the skull's cranium was beginning to panic.

You're bluffing??? To THESE PEOPLE?!?

Weeeell, a more forward-positioned voice responded, I really could stand their help, and under the circumstances, what else am I to do?

There was a microsecond of epiphany as two inner voices found accord.

"But first," said the skull aloud....

"Yes?" prompted Kryzbyn within the next second's pause.

"BANZAIIII!!!"

The skull suddenly rocketed itself straight into Wynnym's chest, burying himself in her statuesque bust.

After the three shared an initial reaction of momentary slack-jawed shock, Wynnym grabbed the skull with both hands, wrenched it away from her until her arms were completely outstretched, and began to squeeze.

"You wouldn't be the first skull I've crushed with my bare hands, you know - if I'm not mistaken, you'd be #27," She bellowed. She realized as she did that she was beginning to make good on her promise, and the muscles in her upper arms were visibly expanding with the effort.

She also began to notice that this was one tough skull. It merely lay there in her hands, its jaw wide open and eyes glazed over. She reluctantly let go, and it just continued hovering there.

"...Good enough..." It gurgled. "...completely...worth...it...."

As he was watching this, it occurred to Farael perhaps he should have done something. He had rather expected some serious white lightning right about now, but there had been none forthcoming.

"Anyways," Farael managed to say as commandingly as he could, "you were offering answers?"

The skull abruptly broke out of its bliss in response. "Answers? Answers! You bet chief, answers! Come with me and we'll get this all sorted out. That's what I'm good at, answers, answers, or my name isn't...uhh...."

The poorest fragment of desperate memory surfaced in its mind and suggested itself.

"Rictus. Name's Rictus."


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

Upon hearing what it had just told the assembly in front of it, a small voice at the back of the skull's cranium was beginning to panic.

You're bluffing??? To THESE PEOPLE?!?

Weeeell, a more forward-positioned voice responded, I really could stand their help, and under the circumstances, what else am I to do?

There was a microsecond of epiphany as two inner voices found accord.

"But first," said the skull aloud....

"Yes?" prompted Kryzbyn within the next second's pause.

"BANZAIIII!!!"

The skull suddenly rocketed itself straight into Wynnym's chest, burying himself in her statuesque bust.

After the three shared an initial reaction of momentary slack-jawed shock, Wynnym grabbed the skull with both hands, wrenched it away from her until her arms were completely outstretched, and began to squeeze.

"You wouldn't be the first skull I've crushed with my bare hands, you know - if I'm not mistaken, you'd be #27," She bellowed. She realized as she did that she was beginning to make good on her promise, and the muscles in her upper arms were visibly expanding with the effort.

She also began to notice that this was one tough skull. It merely lay there in her hands, its jaw wide open and eyes glazed over. She reluctantly let go, and it just continued hovering there.

"...Good enough..." It gurgled. "...completely...worth...it...."

As he was watching this, it occurred to Farael perhaps he should have done something. He had rather expected some serious white lightning right about now, but there had been none forthcoming.

"Anyways," Farael managed to say as commandingly as he could, "you were offering answers?"

The skull abruptly broke out of its bliss in response. "Answers? Answers! You bet chief, answers! Come with me and we'll get this all sorted out. That's what I'm good at, answers, answers, or my name isn't...uhh...."

The poorest fragment of desperate memory surfaced in its mind and suggested itself.

"Rictus. Name's Rictus."

There was a momentary pause as Kryzbyn, Farael, and Wynnym looked at the floating skull who just told them his name.

"All right, Rictus, what about the answers?" Farael asked.

Rictus was at a loss for words. What should he do? Lie? The angel would probably know if he was lying. At least he finally found out two things: his name and his sex. He started to tell the truth, that he had no answers, when he heard a loud voice in his head:

TAKE THEM TO THE STATUE OF ZURN. THERE IS A SECRET DOOR UNDER HIS LEFT FOOT. IT LEADS THE TUNNELS UNDER THE TOWN. I WILL GUIDE YOU TO MY CAVERN.

"Wow, that actually hurt my skull," Rictus said to himself.

"What?" Kryzbyn asked.

"Oh, under the Statue of Zurn's left foot there is a secret door to the tunnels under the town. There I will guide you to a cavern where you will get your answers. Follow me!" Rictus started to float, and the other three reluctantly followed.

Rictus has never been to the town square or the statue, but it was not difficult to find. Apparently when he was actually alive he was really good at finding things. It wasn't long before they were at the twon square, and they saw what was left of the Statue of Zurn. Most of it's upper body had been destroyed by the fireballs. The legs were all that was left.

"Zurn was a sort of prophet," Kryzbyn said, "who founded this town over 500 years ago as a safehaven for free thinkers. As the power of Temrath grew, Zurn became a neutral town where people could express their views openly. Lately, the people here weren't even doing that. Temrathi spies were everywhere. Even I kept quiet, at least in the open. I knew they were evil, but I never expected this."

"Come on, stop crying!" Rictus said. "Let's see what this Zurn guy has under his left foot!"

Kryzbyn felt the need to shoot an arrow into Rictus, but instead he simply followed. He knew all about the tunnels under Zurn, but he didn't know about a secret cavern. However, he kept quiet for now.
They made their way across the ruins of the town square, and they saw many burned bodies. Wynnym cried quietly.

At the statue Kyrzbyn easily found the secret door under the left foot (he had used it before) and they followed the Rictus down the earthen stairs to the tunnels. Here the floating skull immeaditely got lost, but the voice in his head guided him.

TURN LEFT.

Rictus did and the rest followed. His glowing, red eyes provided all of the light they needed. They made several more right, left, and straight turns before finally reaching a part of the tunnels that Kryzbyn had never been to. They reached a dead end, which was in fact a giant boulder.

"This has to be it," Rictus said. "The voice in my head tells me that the answers you seek are in there, but you have to move this boulder first. Don't ask me to do it."

"Who is this voice in your head?" Farael asked.

"How in the Hells should I know?" I didn't know my name until a few hours ago. Just move the damned boulder!"

Farael tried pushing it, but it would not budge. They all tried pushing it, but it still would not move. Farael grew frustated, and he kicked the boulder in anger. As he did it his runes glowed, and the giant rock spilt in two. Once the dust cleared, Farael entered the cavern first.

It was vast. Stalactites grew down from ceiling of the cavern in seemingly endless rows. Fungi grew on the ground, and they glowed with a soft, green light. They heard the sounds of footsteps in the distance, and they saw glowing, red eyes watching them at the edges of the cavern.

"Welcome to my lair, now that my former lair has been destroyed."

A very tall, pale skinned women (who had bones growing out of her head instead of hair) was smiling at them. Two winged, chitinous golems were at her side.

"I am Sissyl the Seer, and I have the answers that you seek."

Scarab Sages

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In the middle of the Wasteland was a lonely crater speckled with bone dust, scraps of scorched metal, and large tracts of strange green glass.

In the precise middle of this lonely, dusted, blasted and glazed crater was a small, soupy puddle of fresh, conspicuously incandescent pineapple nectar.

A philosopher once asked, if a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it, does it in fact make a sound?

A soothsayer once observed, when the cats are away, the mice will play.

A clown once realized, no one can ever know for certain what a deserted area looks like.

By a certain convergence of the logic behind these riddles, it could be deduced that, should a tree suddenly decide to grow somewhere it had no business being and there was nobody around to witness it, there would be nothing to stop it from doing so.

Thus, in a lonely stretch of wasteland, a lone pineapple tree asserted its presence where none had been before. Who's to say, really, how long it took to grow or how it got there?

Within this tree, a small voice said to itself:

"THAT was fun!"


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Sissyl smiled, a somewhat distant smile. Seeing the exact form her divinations would take was always a gratifying feeling, even when the results could have been more to her liking. They had arrived, and though the blue man was still alive when they met, it was still true that death had followed in his wake. The Temrathi soldiers' attack was completely unexpected, and the village she had cultivated for so long was extinguished. She stood straight, showing her impressive height, then spoke.
"Welcome to my lair, now that my former lair has been destroyed. I am Sissyl the Seer, and I have the answers you seek."
The band seemed to relax somewhat, even the little skull she had used to guide them here.
"Please, follow me and we can discuss the situation."
She turned around without waiting for a reaction, knowing full well they would follow her merely on the promise of an answer or two. Soon enough, she heard their steps following hers. The clicking and scraping of her golems' gait echoed in the cavern. She led them to a stone door with large arcane symbols, drew a hand across its surface, and entered as the door simply faded out of existence for a while. Inside was a room of black marble and pillars holding up a distant ceiling. More of her servants kept watch here.

Sitting on chairs around a table, a collection of the finest cold cuts of venison waiting for them, ruby wine in tall crystal glasses, she broke the silence.
"It is good that you came to see me. I have answers for you, as I promised. My reputation is harsher than I might like. Suffice it to say that this is a delicate situation, and I am prepared to help you without payment. Eat and drink, and I will tell you some of what you need to know."
She paused to let them settle.
"You are Farael, and I understand you do not remember anything of relevance. Understand then, that Farael is a name that resounds through the history of Tennelore, our world. It is, as far as I can learn, the fifth time you are here. Each time, you are the catalyst for great change, whether good or bad. Each time, you attract the broken, the yearning and the lost to your side. And each time, you have a judgement to make. Your hallmarks are the same as always: blue skin, glowing yellow eyes, and the chains you wear in the form of your words. Your destiny, and perhaps that of this world, is written in these glyphs on your skin. In the very first account of your presence, the Testament of Kinnal Eth, you are described without them. That was several hundred years ago now, but the implication is that you were given them on Tennelore. If that is true, then you should be able to remove them here."
She saw that Farael had stopped eating, a doubtful look on his face, but plunged on anyway.
"I am certainly not the only one who knows this. Since the Temrathi attacked here, we must assume Culex, their leader, also does. Beyond that, Tennelore is a highly magical world compared to some others, and there are dozens of diviners and prophets who will have known of your coming. Most of these will see opportunity, and, sadly, will try to use you as a weapon. Since I saw your presence, I have studied what I could find about you, and I suspect they will find the cost of that is far too high."
She sighed.
"Be that as it may. I will need to depart from here. I have a debt to pay, a debt of blood. So, I give you my home, to use as a base of operations if you want it. You may find it prudent to leave, given the attention of Temrath. The warding runes on the door will open for you all. If you want a suggestion, I would tell you to see the master of the Order of the Red Hand, an order of healers in Brinay that does not support Temrath. It is your best chance to regain the memories you have lost."

Dark Archive

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Servants of the Dark Knight navigated the winding streets and narrow aisles of Vanda, the great imperial capital of vast Temrath, with commoners and slaves quick to scatter or step aside when the sight of the familiar knighthood insignia was proudly displayed. Vanda was a city of elemental wonder, crafted - like its rulers - of living crystal and stone. Powered by purest fire and sustained by eternal water, Vanda rides held aloft over the lowly earth of its empire on the backs of the mightiest winds, traveling freely wheresoever its masters deign. For like its masters, Vanda - named after the shadowy otherworld from whence its inhabitants came - never touches the ground.

The Vandans themselves are a curious species. Their nature is obviously otherworldly, unearthly, unnatural by the laws known to mortals. Their bodies are crafted of crystal, sculpted with minute precision into forms of physical excellence. Young Vandans are never seen, and the secrets of their procreation, development, and growth are kept secured away from human eyes. They resemble humanity in many ways otherwise, in the shapes of their bodies, from the waist up; the other primary differences are the curved horns protruding from their heads in a unique pattern and shape for each Vandan, the wild manes of grey-and-red hair that flowed from their heads, and the wings on their backs which appear and feel to be fluid, living brass. In place of legs, they have instead an inverted pyramid of crystals that wraps around the base of their torsoes, and a sinuous, shadowy tendril or tail that serves as a third limb. They hover rather than walk, floating a meter or so off the ground, and can fly freely if they so wish, though often they do not, for disdain of having to carry their flightless servants to places they cannot reach.

These particular Vandans ignored the lesser commoners and civil servants of their people with as much lack of attention as the many human slaves that adorned their city's streets, attending to tasks and business as commanded by their masters. Their destination was in sight - a low, glassy dome on the outskirts of the city, overlooking Vanda's northernmost cliffside and providing a vista view of the immense landscape of their empire below. In perfect file the knights reached the building and, after assigning two guards at the rear to secure the entrance, marched inside to attend to their mission.

They found the old scholar exactly where their lord had expected, crouching over his work on the tier below with the avid enthusiasm of a man pursuing his greatest joy. Botur raised his greenish face to the sound of his visitors' approach, then rose upright at the recognition of the Knights and returned their captain's salute. "Welcome to the Menagerie, my lady. How may I serve the empire?"

"Our lord is in need of your services," the captain intoned, cutting immediately through further pleasantries and to the heart of her mission. She was a no-nonsense sort, uninterested in the flattery associated with working as the Dark Knight's immediate emissary. "There is trouble in the borderlands. Lord Culex wishes it to be dealt with swiftly and surely."

"Indeed, indeed," the sage replied, turning back to his records. "What sort of trouble?"

"Insurrection. Likely after the initial sweep attack was repelled, the troublemakers are going into hiding. They have magical aid."

"You will be sending another troop, I assume?"

"We are. We will see to it that the slaves are more properly equipped. But they will not be going alone. We will be taking some of your Beasts."

Botur chuckled darkly and traced a claw down the list. "I have just the thing. My Aragh will sniff out the magic of these revolutionaries and devour their energies, then turn its might against them."

"Two will suffice," the captain acceded. "The slave-troops depart tomorrow with Colonel Yzgal. Ensure the Aragh will answer to her commands and have them ready for the hunt come dawn."

"It will be done, my lady," Botur acknowledged with a low bow. He watched her depart, then turned his gaze to the Menagerie below, and its vast collective of his bestial experiments, roaming over the mile-wide enclosed ecosystem he and his fellow arcanobiologists had created for them. The magic-hunting wolves would make swift work of any caster whose spells they could track, and this rebel would be no different. And should he dare to attempt to cast upon them, they would merely devour the magical energy and turn it back double. The perfect mage-killers, and one of his personal greatest creations. The old sage stood proud as he leaned over his work, and dreamed of accolades from his lord for work well done.


Colonel Yzgal was not a nice Vandan. Her face really was red with rage, as were the many horns that protruded from her head. The two green furred Aragh were by her side as she mounted the air ship. Like her it was made of crystal, but it's color was black like her armor. It's crew consisted of about twenty of her officiers, fellow Vandans like her, and hundred of the human slave-soldiers, that were controlled with reddish collars at their necks.

Her first officier, a male Vandan named Tzan, approached her as she floated into the ship.

"We are ready to depart, Colonel. The slaves have prepared the ship for departure."

"Then get on with it!" Yzgal screamed. Her voice was very high pitched, and she liked screaming. She enjoyed the sound of it. In her hand was a black colored whip. Whenever she passed one of the slaves she was casually whip them. She enjoyed doing that too.

When she entered her chamber the two Aragh went with her. She had been commanded to never let them leave her side. Her instructions were clear: deal with the blue skinned man named Farael personally.

Capture him if you can, but if not kill him. He is the most dangerous person you have ever faced.

Yzgal laughed to herself. She had personally killed thousands of these humans, and other races, when they took control this world (most of it) over a century ago. They were inferior to the Vandans in everyway. Even their gods were inferior to their gods, she believed. Why else would they allow them to take control of this world? She laughed again and decided to leave her chamber.

"I have more slaves to whip," she told the two Aragh at her side.

The ship traveled to the west, and its journey would take them across the Temrathi Empire to the location of the rebels. They paid their spies well for their information. It was time to deal with them once and for all...


"Wait," Farael said to Sissyl,"I have so many questions please stay!"

But, she literally disappeared. Her golems remained, but they weren't saying anything.

Farael was in shock. Her had been to this world five times before, and each time he had been a catalyst for great change...both good and bad? She also said that he should be able to remove the runes of his body, but how? Who put these runes on him and for what purpose? He didn't know what to do or what to believe.

"I told you that her answers lead to more questions," Kryzbyn said. "When you said your name was Farael, I didn't know that you were the Farael from the Holy Canon."

"What is the Holy Canon?" Farael asked.

"It's the book that the Church of Lights use for their prayers. It's also called the Book of Light or the Good Book. My faith doesn't use it, but I have read it out of respect for them. What Sissyl said was true, you must be Farael the Angel returned to Tennelore. The very thought of thaty scares me."

"Why? What did I do before? Have I done both good and bad things?"

"Look, I know you are a good person or angel," Kryzbyn said. "I know you would never intentially hurt me or anyone else. I guess the problem is that in the Holy Canon you were delivering messages from the Gods of Light, and sometimes those messages were not nice."

"In one of the stories I read," Wynnym said, "you destroyed an entire city that had sinned against the Gods of Light. I called down fire from sky, and everyone in the city of Horum was destroyed. You delivered a message and it was received."

"I don't get it. I don't have message to deliver. I don't even remember the Gods of Light or the Heavens."

"Not yet," Kryzbyn said.

There was a moment of silence and Farael was at a loss for words. In fact, he had trouble keeping his eyes open. He sat down.

"Farael," Wynnym asked, "when was the last time you slept?"

"Slept? What does that mean?"

"You are mortal now," Kyrzbyn said, "so that means you have to eat, drink, and sleep. Why don't you lie down on the ground and sleep? Just close your eyes and it will happen naturally. I will stand guard, since I don't need to sleep."

Farael nodded and lied down on the ground. Within seconds he was asleep and he started to dream about a pineapple tree in the Wastedland...

A shadow passed over the Wastedland. It saw the tree and it smiled.

Yes, that is good. The Game is started again. He has returned and all is going to according to the Plan. Yes, hahahahaha...

The shadow passed over the Temple of Death, and the Death Goddess herself acknowledged it, but she did not smile. She was a part of the World, and yet separate from it. She knew the Game was starting again, and she welcomed it, because it always meant that more souls would come to her.

LET THE GAME BEGIN...


The Testament of Kinnal Eth

As I stood watch outside the gates of Horum, I beheld a man approach. He was taller than most men, wearing robes of pure white, and he was blue in color.

"Kinnal Eth, I have a message for this city," he said to me.

"Who are you that you know my name?" I asked.

"I am Farael, an angel of the Gods of Lights, and I have a message for the King of Horum. Allow me to pass."

"Of course, I will allow you to enter," I said, bowing low. "Let me show you the way to the elder's abode."

I walked him through the narrow streets of Horum. I was disgraced by the filth piled up on the streets, and the evil displays by the people there, but Farael seemed not to notice.

I took him to the King's palace, where two large guards tried to bar him from entering.

"Let him pass!" I shouted at them. "Can you not see that he is an angel of Lights?"

"I care not who he is," the largest guard said. "His gods mean nothing to me."

"OUY ERA THOB INLBD!" Farael said, and both guards were struck blind. He pushed them aside and shattered the gates to the palace with one touch of his hand. I was now following him. He struck each guard who tried to stop him blind, until we both came to the King's throne room.

King Nebazzar was sitting on his throne waiting for the angel. The Sword of Horum was in his hand; his other guards had feld in terror. He was an old man with long white hair and beard; an ancient, iron crown hung loosely on his head.

"Who dares enter my palace without my permission?" The King asked.

"I am Farael, and I have a message from the Gods of Light! Repent! The people of Horum have sinned against their gods, and turned away from them. You have lead them into darkness! Repent! Turn away from the Dark Gods and command your people to do the same. If not, then fire will rain down from the sky when the Sun rises in the morning. You have been warned!"

"Get out of my city!" The king screamed. "No man, angel, or god can command me! I answer to no one. Be gone!"

With that Farael left, and I followed him. I walked with him outside the city gates, and then he said to me:

"The king will not change his mind. Take your family and leave this city at once. Go to the town of Jabeth. It is a good town and you will be safe there. Keep true to the Gods of Light, for you are a good man. Write down everything you have seen so others may know the truth."

After saying that Farael rose up to the sky like a bird in flight. I did what I was told. I took my family out of the city, but instead of going to Jabeth right away we set up a tent on the hill outside the city. At dawn I beheld a Rain of Fire fall on Horum. No man, women, or child in Horum survived it. I knelt down and prayed to Farael for his mercy, and then I took my family to Jabeth.

Kinnal Eth 2:1-25


Farael woke up suddenly. He had dreamed about a tree in a Wastedland, and about a city called Horum that he destroyed thousands of years ago. He saw Kryzbyn sitting on the floor across from him.

"Good morning, Big Blue. You had a good twelve hours of sleep. Did you dream?"

"Yes I did. I found it to be...unpleasant."

"I wouldn't know, since I have never dreamed. I think they called the bad ones nightmares. Come on, we need to get out of here for Brinay to find this master of the Order of the Red Hand. I have heard of them. They can heal wounds no one else can. Some say they can even bring the dead back to life. Brinay is one of the few free cities left around here. For reasons I don't know, the Temrathi won't go near the city. It's time I found out why.'

Wynnym was waiting for them. She had backpacks for each of them.

"I gathered together whatever supplies I could find. We can probably get whatever else we need on the way."

"Kryzbyn and Wynnym, why are you coming with me? From what you have told me yesterday I could be danger to you and everyone else."

"True, but you are also the best hope Tennelore has to defeat the Temrathi," Wynnym said. "If it would help to free us from their bondage, then I will help you."

"Me too, Kryzbyn said. "The safest place on the world is probably next to you. I am tired of hiding from them."

"Don't forget me!" Rictus shouted. The skull floated next to Wynnym. "I'm a skull in love here. Oh, and maybe Farael can help me find the rest of my body too. It can't hurt."

"Don't come near me or I will make sure your second death is permanent!"

With that being said, Kryzbyn lead them out of Sissly's chamber to the tunnels that he had used before. The tunnels lead then under the Hathor Hills to the Temrathi district of Telatur, which they would have to pass through to get to Brinay. What they didn't know was that Colonel Yzgal would be waiting for them...

Scarab Sages

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Farael's band made its way through the winding, cramped tunnels under the Hathor Hills. After a certain amount of time, they found themselves in a more spacious cavern, pocketed all over with large gaps in the walls and floor that offered a splendid (if a little perilous) view of the subterranean landscape beyond, filled with underground rivers, crystal formations, and strange arachnids that looked more than anything else like large pencil-sketches that had jumped off their page. They stopped a moment to admire the view. Why not?

"FARAEL!" A deep, aristocratic voice suddenly erupted behind them. Farael and the others swiveled on their heels, not knowing what to expect.

Floating behind them, apparently having just wandered up through the gap in the cavern floor directly beneath it, was a mass of beryl-colored wheels-within-wheels, each wheel covered with countless staring eyes.

"Farael, comrade, how fortuitous to find you here! Listen, I seem to have gotten turned around a bit, this not being my prefecture and all, but could you kindly direct me to the post office?"

Farael blinked as the others turned their gazes to them. To his frustration, the only thing he could say was the only thing he knew:

"You're an angel, like me."

"Yes, yes," said the entity amiably. "Be ye not afraid, and whatnot. Erhm...post office?"

"I...I'm sorry, I don't know."

"What? Oh." The wheels slowed in their spinning, then sped up, slightly faster than they were before. "Transcend it all, Farael, not this business again! Poor comrade. Anyways, I certainly hope you can get yourself sorted out soon, after all We've all got a meeting in just a few hundred mortal-hours. Bellerophon will be there, Shax and Vassago, too, maybe even Ahuramazda!"

"Um...I don't think I can make it. I have to fight a war or play a Game or something, but please, who are you? Who am I? What do you know about me?"

"No time!" Boomed the wheel-angel. "Terribly sorry, get well soon and whatnot, but I've GOT to find the blasted post office and get back to my prefecture," The wheels accelerated faster and faster, and the angel began boring through the stone above it. Rock dust and the occasional scrap of precious metal fell from above as it continued to make its way through the stone. After a second's hesitation, Kryzbyn and Wynnym managed to start catching some of the mineral chunks before they fell through the gap below.

"Remember Our meeting!" It said from high above. "Veeery importaaant...." The noise died away until there was nothing but the trickle of the underground river.

Rictus felt it had to be asked: "Farael, what's a post office?"

Farael said nothing. He resumed his trek through the caverns, and the rest quietly followed.

Farael wondered, to whom do angels pray?

Certainly hope it's not Him.


It took a day for the four of them to leave the caverns, and no one said anything about the wheel-angel. The meeting with another of his kind spooked Farael. He also didn't understand the other meeting a few hundred mortal hours from now. What did that mean? The names Bellerophon, Shax, Vassago, and Ahuramazda held no meaning to him.

"We are close to the opening," Kryzbyn said. "I will show the way."

Kryzbyn lead them up a stairway carved into the rock. They walked up the stairway for an hour before they saw sunlight through a small opening.

"I'll go up first to see if it's safe," Kryzbyn said. He quickly went through, and then moments later he said, "Come on up!"

They left the opening of a cave that was on top of a hill. Below them was a grassy plain.

"That is the district of Telatur. We have to head south for Brinay. It will take us about three or four days to walk to Brinay. I know several back roads and hidden trails we can take, but it will still be risky. However, we could buy safe passage there with all of this gold we have now." Kryzbyn touched his bacback that was now stuffed with raw gold.

"I will have to thank you angel friend if I see him again."

"He is not my friend," Farael said. "At least, I don't remember him being my friend. It's all very confusing."

"You have our sympathy," Wynnym said. "Still, as long as we have this gold we should put it to good use. Is there a place where we can use it?" Wynnym asked Kryzbyn.

"Absolutely. The village of Velcor is just a few leagues to the east. I know people there who can help us for a price, and we can pay it now."

They walked along backroad through a forest into Velcor which made their journey longer, but it protected them from prying eyes. The village was small, but it was friendly. They covered themselves up with gray, hooded robes that Kryzbyn had stashed away. It would sttract to much attention for a large, blue skinned man and a floating skull to be seen in public. Farael held Rictus under his robe, which he did not like at all.

Kryzbyn took them to the Golem Tavern, which had a stone-skinned golem as it's doorman. It was over seven feet tall and it didn't say a word. The tavern itself wasn't crowded, since this was the Gods Day and most folks were resting. Kryzbyn went to the bar, and the bartender (a red haired and attractive woman named Vicka) asked him what he wanted.

"A whitebird," he said and she nodded.

"Go into the backroom and be quick about it. There are eyes everywhere."

They all went into the backroom, which was filled with sacks of flour, ale, and spices. A secret door opened, and a large, gray-haired man wearing white robes stepped through.

"Kryzbyn, its surprising to see you here. We didn't expect you until the summer."

"I know Kelvar, but something unexpected happened. Go ahead Farael, show him who you are."

Farael pulled down his hood, and Kelvar gasped. He kneeled down to one knee.

"The stories are true! You have returned to free us! Farael has returned!"

"Please, stand up," Farael said. "There is no need to kneel before me."

Kelvar stood up, but his eyes were filled with tears.

"After the Vandans destroyed Zurn, we started to hear stories from the survivors. They said that a blue skinned man had used great magic to destroy the slave-soldiers. When I heard that I knew it could be only one person. Farael the Angel! The Gods of Light be praised!"

"Kelvar, I don't remember who I am. Others have told me that I am Farael. We need to get to Brinay to meet the master of the Red Hand. I was told he could heal my mind."

"Yes, I know them very well. Master Gynax is a good and wise man. I have never met him personally, but everything I have heard has been good. The Red Hand are friends to the White Birds."

"What are the White Birds?" Wynnym asked.

"They are the name of the resistance to the Temrathi Empire," Kryzbyn said. "They want to overthrow them and send them back to their own world. By the way, I am one of the White Birds myself. That is why I went away all of those years ago."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Wynnym asked.

"I swore an oath to keep it a secret, but Farael's arrival changes everything."

"Come, let us leave at once!" Kelvar said. "We will meet the others at the river. We can take a swiftboat to Brinay."

The five of them left, and Rictus did not like it at all. He was still stuck under Farael's robe. Also, he recognized Kelvar's voice from his previous life...

Sczarni

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When they got to the river, it was a commotion. Everyone had felt the earthquake and felt something BAD was going to happen. The captains were shouting out prices at an ever increasing rate, until the group was certain the backpack would not pay for any of them.

"We must leave this place" Farael whispered "It's too easy to get separated here, and Rictus and I would attract too much attention"

"Relax" Kelvar replied as they walked along the banks of the river "We'll be okay. You're the Fatebringer, and if necessary, Rictus can protect us."

At this, Rictus was very intrigued "how, precisely, as I am lacking hands or feet? I would think that that'd get in the way."

"Silence fool!" Kelvar hissed. "I have the rest of your bones sewn into my cloak in various locations and a tinderbox in my front pocket"

Finally, Wynym found who she was looking for "There we go. Captain Curnow, of the 7th Sea."

Curnow, a man in his late 40s, with a beard of jet black, sword sheathed (though Farael can see a ruby embedded in the hilt, as well as an elaborate pattern running down it.) "Aye! Wynnm! Rictus! Yeah, I know Rictus is there! The blue fellow has a ridiculous bulge in his cloak! And knowing Kelvar, the rest of teh bones are in the cloak! He steps down from his swiftboat and kneels down in front of Farael. "Greetings, Fatebringer. I don't yet know what is going to happen, but I've survived through the past three, and now he's on my side for once. Hop aboard, where do you need to go!?!"


"Captain Curnow, please don't bow to me. I don't feel like I deserve it. Have we met before?" Farael asked.

"Aye, we ave," Curnow said standing back up, "but in another life. I am at your service. I take it ye want to go away from here?"

"Yes," Wynnym said, "we need to go to Brinay to see Master Gynax of the Red Hand. When I saw you I knew you could do it."

"I can do that for ye, and it won't cost ye a copper piece! To serve the Fatebringer is payment enough. But, my crew may want some to the gold. Its been a long time, Wynnym. Are ye still in that big wood with the trees?"

"Yes I am, and I couldn't be happier," she said.

They boarded the swiftboat, which was a long and lean vessel capable of great speed. It had plenty of room below for all of them and the crew. It had secret hiding places for the illegal items that Captain Curnow liked to smuggle in and out of Telatur.

"I call this boat The Dagger, and I only use it if I am traveling up and down a river. My real ship is anchored off the coast of Brinay in a hidden place. Its a beautiful ship that I built myself."

"What is it named?" Kryzbyn asked.

"I named it The 7th Sea. Kind of catchy, aye?"

They settled down below in one room that was hidden by a secret hatch. It was not a very large room, but each person (except Rictus) had their own blanket and there was plenty of food and water. There was also a small washroom where they could relieve themselves as needed. Captain Curnow told them it would take several days for them to reach Brinay, and with the gold they had in their backpacks he could bribe any official who asked too many questions.

"You might as well relax for now. Not one of you is to come on deck unless I call you. My the Gods of Light guide us true. With the Fatebringer on our side, we cannot fail." With that he closed the hatch.

"What did Captain Curnow mean when he said that he we had met before he another life three times before?" Farael asked Wynnym.

"I don't know. Curnow says a lot of things that he doesn't mean. He is a colorful fellow."

"How do you know him?" Kryzbyn asked.

"Before I settled in the Forest of Alraune I wandered the lands, and I met Captain Curnow. He is a great friend. I miss hearing of his tales, both true and false."

Rictus floated over to Kelvar and stared at him with his glowing, red eyes.

"Tell me everything!" He shouted at him. "Why do you have my bones sewn into your cloak? How did we meet? How did I die? Tell me!"

"Keep your voice down! I reason I have your bones sewn into my cloak is that I was told to by a priestess of Death herself!"

"Was her name Sotiria Spiros?" Farael asked.

"Yes it was. Do you know her?"

"We met just once before, right after I first fell in the Wastedland. She said that the Goddess of Death had plans for me. This must be all part of her plan. We did not meet by chance. Indeed, I must be the Fatebringer. However, I do not know what kind of fate I am bringing."

"She told me to keep your bones safe, so I sewn them into my cloak. She said that you and I used to be friends. I found that hard to believe. I never knew a Rictus before, at least none that I can remember. Perhaps you had another name. She also said that you were a very powerful being."

"How did Captain Curnow know about me?"

"Because I told him about you, fool! He is a part of the Whitehawks (not the Whitebirds). He has helped us in our struggle with the Vandans. We spoke last night about the priestess. Indeed, these are strange days. I know that Farael can save us."

After that there was a time of silence, and everyone decided to rest. Farael silently prayed to the Gods of Light that Master Gynax could restore his memories. He wasn't as confident in his abilities as the others. He felt the swiftboat moving, so they must be on their way downstream.

The black crystal ship of Colonel Yzgal was about a day away from Telatur. She was in her chamber, with the two Aragh, when her black crystal made a sound. She took it out of her belt and said, "Speak."

"Farael and his people are on their way to Brinay," an unrecognizable voice said. "They are hidden in a swiftboat named The Dagger. Captain Curnow is helping them. They should arrive in Brinay in three days."

"Excellent! We will be waiting for them. We must stop them before they reach Brinay, or we will not be able to get to them. Your information will be rewarded, spy!"

Colonel Yzgal was pleased. All was going according to plan. Farael would be captured, or better yet killed, the rebels would be killed, and she would be greatly rewarded by Lord Culex. Nothing could go wrong.

"Captain Tzan!" She screamed.

"Yes, Colonel," he said at her door.

"Prepare my crystal armor and the slaves. We are headed for the mouth of the Telatur River on the outskirts of Brinay. Go at full speed! Use the magics to keep us dim from sight! Do it now!"

Captain Tzan obeyed, and she was pleased. She believed that fate was her side...

Sczarni

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A few days later, Curnow brought them out. "I apologize Fatebringer, to all your past, present and futurte incarnations. The Vandans have found us, and Tzan is moving in on the Dagger. My 'lads..." He gestures to a few men who do not look at ALL like they should be called lads, wearing chainmail and brandishing fierce-looking tridents "they can help hold off Tzan's forces for a while, and I can maybe help even those odds-" He unsheathes his sword, an intricate, gold hilted cutlass with intricate rose patterns weaved into the blades. "But you all will have to help."

As Wynnm is about to either protest or curse- the world will never know, he put a sword in her hand. "This'll work well enough for you. It's no Ashkandor, but it'll get you through. Word of the wise though. Once drawn, the sword must draw blood." Wynnm took a few practice swings, preparing for battle if it came.

He handed a bow and two quivers of arrows to Kryzbyn "And this for you. Solid Elder." Kryzbyn tested the bow, finding the arrows fit perfectly into the notch of the bow. "Interesting. I may need some practice, but It'll definitely see use before this is over."

Curnow attempted to hand Kelvar two short swords, but he denied them, instead pulling out a morningstar and a shield.

"If Rictus is half as good as he was when we last met, he should be okay. Now, for Farael. Ashkandor, sadly, remains lost, but in the meantime, this quarterstaff should help." He hands Farael the aforementioned weapon, and Farael, while having difficulty swinging, ends up using it a bit like a cane.

"Now, our main tactic is going to be to sail for our lives, but if they pull out the boarding pikes, stay near me. This is neither my first encounter with Vadrans, nor my first swordfight, so I can pull through. If I fall defending you, get to Brinay, find a librarian named Pym. 'E can get you the rest of the way."

The ship continues sailing for about ten minutes before the Vadran craft pulls alongside, with Tzan next to men ready with gangplanks.

"Tzan."
"Curnow. You're smart. Give us the Fatebringer, and you'll live."

"I'm going to give YOU one chance. You've lost hundreds of men to me alone, and even with the crystal armor, you have a slim chance. And If I fall, my lads will take you down."

"I'm curious, how did you find us?"

"I am as ancient as the pounding of waves against the hull of the first canoe, and I've been sailing ever since. You couldn't hide from me in the water if you were invisible."

"Enough of this. ATTACK!" The gangplanks were lowered, and Vadrans, in plate armor, each with a greatsword, rushed onto the Dagger. The "Lads", each used their trident to punish the first man to charge across, the first bodies falling into the water. Curnow was alone to take the first man to make it to the boat, and as Farael was worried he would die, the Captain twisted, knocking the man to the ground with his leg before delivering the coup de grace. "Well. What are you waiting for! To arms!"

Scarab Sages

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Meanwhile, far, far away...

"Fan Pao Jing?"

"Present!"

"Shax?"

"Present!"

"Vassago?"

"Present."

"Maneadel?"

"Present."

"Farael?"

A moment of near-silence filled the great synod chamber.

"Farael?"

Suddenly, the gates crashed open, driven by a terrible radiant wind. Appearing at the threshold was Farael. His skin was like blazing golden armor shot through with odd cracks, and his dark beryl hair was done in an opulent topknot.

"PRESENT, Your Might! Apologies!"

With that, the Greater-Lesser-Intermediate Lord of Lights WOT quietly checked Farael's name on the roster and resumed the long roll call as Farael lept and bounded through the angelic host to His assigned place, which happened to be next to the wheel-angel who had seen Him not long ago.

"Comrade Farael! Good to see you in one, ah, more like yourself again," whispered the being of wheels as Farael settled next to Him. "and just in time, too, my Greatn - PRESENT!" He interrupted Himself as He heard his name called. "Right, anyways, I DID find your post office. Strange place for it, though."

"Ah, well, yes," responded Farael quietly. "but the mortals would have found it otherwise. My wards can be a curious lot, hard to discourage, too. I prefer it that way, the extra effort is worth it."

Somehow, the wheel-being shrugged. "Right. If you say so, your prefecture, and whatnot."

Roll call eventually concluded, and the assembled host cried as one, "All present and accounted for, for all Time, for all Lords, for all Lights!"

With that, the god WOT rolled up the great scroll and tossed it upward, where it continued its ascent to somewhere unguessable. WOT did not look as most imagined a god of any degree would look - He looked most like an overlarge cross between potato and human thumb with a nondescript face, and the great booming of His voice could not quite conceal the nasal and hesitant qualities within it.

"When last we convened," He began, "we resolved Old Business. Now is time for New Business, as well as of course status checks on the Old Business as it hath been resolved according to last synod's judgements. Ahuramazda, yes, I believe you had an appeal to make?"

Ahuramazda, so mighty among djinn that he was greater even than many true angels, briefly bowed His head before speaking thusly:

"Within my prefecture a great prophet has emerged, a true prodigy who would know our thoughts before most any other concern. He is well-positioned to lead his world to heights scarcely dreamt of, but in order to do so, first would know this: 'Why should there be a Second Reign of Fools? Why should the Fourth Shadow threaten my world and my generation who have already have so much taken from us though we be guilty of no crime? And why, oh, why, the persistent jellyfish of history?' Those were his words to me. What am I to tell him?"

WOT shrugged and clasped His fingers. "Tell him, I don't know, the truth, I suppose: Things don't really happen for a reason. He does sound like a nice boy, so I give thee license to offer him a Wish or two, if thou sees't fit - plus refunds, I suppose, I'll have to inquire, but that won't take long."

Ahuramazda nodded gravely and sat down.

The synod continued for what would seem to any reasonable being like an eternity, with most of the assembled angels voicing reports, judgements, and petitions, until eventually WOT's gaze returned to Farael.

"Farael, very glad you could make it." WOT loosed a heavy sigh that seemed to enervate the entire synod. "Listen, We're gonna call You back this time. We've decided we kind of like the way things stand in your prefecture. The Vadrans are very nice, very responsible people with lots of..."

"UNACCEPTABLE!" Interrupted Farael. "Have you ANY idea how...how...how much STAKE You have in my prefecture?!? You're being a transcendent fool, the Great Game is upon us, the GREAT GAME, does that mean nothing to you?!? Think of the consequences, what co-"

"SILENCE!" Boomed WOT. "Look, for the love of Mortaldom, We've all talked this over, we've had the Plutarchons evaluate it, this is the best we can reasonably offer you, we don't really have any other choic-"

"You have no choice?!?" Hissed Farael. Then He smiled. "So be it, then I have no choice either. If the Gods of Light would forsake my prefecture, then there are always...The OTHERS."

There was a brief awkward silence, then the synod erupted into a bedlam of laughter. There was no way an angel of Light could defect His prefecture to the Others, of all possible pantheons. He could stay with the Lights or he could become one of the Damned, that was It. Farael's threat, if that was what it was supposed to be, was completely absurd and empty.

But then, why did Farael continue to stand tall, proud, and defiant after the laughter had ebbed away?

WOT's mind was racing so fast it had already reached a terrible conclusion.

How can he have connections to the Others? He couldn't possibly...but he doesn't need to. He's bluffing. He's willing to Damn Himself for the sake of His prefecture. Transcend it all, of course He is, most any of Them would if they truly believed it would do any Good, they're ANGELS. Still, there's a reason nobody goes through with that...If I Damn him, I Damn his prefecture. Unless...
The Others DO have a presence there. Would they really CARE enough to embrace a realm as it Fell, just to...?
TRANSCEND IT ALL! I don't have a choice. It's not worth losing a prefecture, an entire Province, even, over.

"Know what?" WOT said aloud. "Fine, fine, no big deal, if you feel that way, we'll let you keep doing it your way, let us know how it works out, huh?"

"That is all I desire," Farael beamed as he rose from His seat and bounded from the great synod chamber.

"Ehrm, glad you could make it," said the wheel-angel next to him, weakly, as he left.

WOT stared in incredulity at the remaining host after Farael had left.

"Cans't thee believe the nerve on that guy?" He asked the assembly. "And did you see the way He'd manifested Himself???" The host laughed again, as if on cue.

"For Mortaldom's sake, he looked like...a pineapple!"


Captain Curnow was shocked when Farael disappeared. The Vandans were leading their slave-soldiers down the gangplanks to The Dagger. His crew and Farael's friends were trying to fight them off. Even Rictus was trying to help by saying very annoying things to them.

Then, seconds later, Farael reappeared. Now he was welding his staff like a man who was born holding it. He leaped onto the gangplanks and he started attacking the soldiers with lightning speed. White Lightning was literally coming off him. Each soldier and Vandan he struck fell dead. When he was finished the attack stopped. He heard someone yell, "Retreat!"

The gangplanks went back up to the black-crystal airship, and he flew out of the river into the sky.

"Victory is ours!" Captain Curnow yelled. "All hail Farael the Fatebringer!" He held his sword high and everyone cheered. Everyone except Farael.

This victory was too easy. Something is wrong here.

Farael looked up and he saw Colonel Yzgal looking down on them from the deck of her airship. He saw two slave-soldiers holding a large, black object. She pointed down to The Dagger, and they threw it over the deck. It started to fall and Farael immeaditely recognized it.

"EVERYONE JUMP INTO THE RIVER! IT'S A BOMB! JUMP!" Most of the crew and all of Farael's friends jumped into the river, and seconds later the fire-crystal bomb struck The Dagger. It exploded in a fiery blast that destroyed the swiftboat.

Farael was relieved to discovery that he could swim. He swam to shore, and he saw that most of the crew and his friends survived. The Sun has risen and he could see the destruction of the swiftboat. Then he saw something else.

Colonel Yzgal herself was hovering above him, dressed in her black-crystal armor. She was holding the two Araugh had her side. They looked like giant, greenish wolves. She smiled and dropped them to the ground. They snarled and ran toward's Farael.

"Now your fate is sealed," she said.

Scarab Sages

Somewhere high above, a tiny star fell from the Heavens. Except that it wasn't a star, it was much too small and dark, though it did cast a slight golden glint.

Who do angels pray to?, mused the smoldering pineapple as it plummeted toward the vast sea beneath it.

Certainly hope it's not that giant thumb gent.

But it turns out it's not, is it?

Dark Archive

Yzgal had dreamed of this moment. Glory to the Vandan people, the Empire of Temrath, and Lord Culex himself, all at her clawtips. The Aragh plunged, claws raking at the ground and spraying soot and soil in the air as they raced toward the scent of magic. Every bite would drain blood and mana from the angelic entity before her, until his wounds or his energy reserves ran dry. If he bled to death, so be it; if he simply lay crippled and helpless by the siphoning of his lifeforce and magical power then she would simply crush his neck manually. She was not averse to getting some blood on her claws in the line of duty. Rather she relished it.

But that staff... WHERE had he gotten that staff? And what power did it have, to slay a Vandan with but a touch?! They were certainly not arrogant enough to think themselves invulnerable, and Lord Culex could not be considered arrogant to think so for it was simple truth, none had laid a harmful hand on the Dark Knight of Vanda since his ascension to the position, even in training or sparring combat. But they were resilient, extremely difficult to kill creatures. They possessed no lifeblood, their existence powered by pure elemental mana and the dark energy native to the shadowy netherworld of Vanda from whence they came. They could be shattered like stone - for stone they were, living crystal and fluid metal in manlike form - but the immense energy needed to do so could not be wielded by mere mortals save for the most trained of archmages, and the enslavement of humanity had been, among other reasons, to prevent such wizardry from coming to be outside Temrathi control.

And now this outsider - this fallen one - was carrying around sufficient power to do so in a single blow in a stick!

While it might do to slay humans and, as much as the thought made her cringe and snarl, Vandans, the Aragh had little to fear from the staff, if it was magical in nature - and what else could it be? Even divine magic would do naught but fuel their hunger. If Farael wished to defeat the Aragh in battle, he'd have to tear the mage-hounds apart with his bare hands or any weapons he could get hold of, while avoiding them doing the same to him with their fangs.

Yzgal herself was going to destroy that staff before moving in for the kill.

Sczarni

As the Araugh's and Yzgal were marching toward Farael, the rest of the party had troubles of their own.

While Rictus and the nature of his being a floating skull allowed him to go through the water at breakneck speed, crashing from the side into Yzgal before rolling into the sand, where she was knocked down.

Wynnm, having had all her experiences on water involving Curnow, cursed herself for not being able to swim as she started bouncing along the rocky bottoms of the rapids until Kyryzbyn helped her to swim until they reached the side of the banks opposite Farael. "Kyryzbyn... the Araughs..." were her last words before slipping into unconsciousness. Kyryzbyn took respect to that, and, nocking an arrow, let it fly into the eye of a Vadran. He looked down at his bow in disbelief, and, with a mischievous smile, drew another.

Kelvar was swimming, but was having a rough time of it and, realizing Farael was more important than his shield, abandoned it and made it to the side of the bank with Farael, and after seeing an arrow whizzing by his ear, he took his morningstar in two hands and dented the helmet of a Vadran, buckling another one's knee armor.

When Farael kicked himself up, Yzgal was up as well, twin scimitars whirling. "Goodbye, Fatebringer." she slowly advanced as Farael adopted a defensive posture, backing out of her reach. She made a lunge, and Farael leapt, kicking off the back of her head and using the staff to crack the skull of a Araugh. The other made a jump and tackled Farael breaking the staff in two pieces, using on to keep it's mouth away as Yzgal got up and leisurely walked over, avoiding Kyrzbyn's arrows with ease. "To think you were supposed to topple Vadra." As she preapred the killing blow, Curnow flew out of the water on the crest of a wave, shouting "For the Fatebringer!", drawing another sword from his great coat-a sharp, one handed blade seemingly made of obsidian. and clashing with Yzgal, the two slashing and parrying at incredible speeds until Curnow made a single kick, Kyrzbyn making a well-placed shot into the eye socket of the other Araugh. Farael, rolling it's corspe off him, used what was left of his staff as a projectile, knocking Ygzal off balance and into the rapids.

"She'll be back." Curnow said grimly. "They always come back." Kelvar, who had finished off the last Vadran, said simply "How did you do that?" "not important." The captain barked. "We need everybody on this side of the river, so we can start our trek to Brinay."

Meanwhile, in the Grand Palace of Vadra, the Grand Emperor was displeased. "They WHAT! And Yzgal is GONE! Damn that captain! Hunt them down! Every soldier we can spare! And send the Ringbearer." At this, the messenger gasped. "Yes. I know. Times are dire, and he is our surest bet of killing Farael." With a reluctant pace somewhere between slow-walking and scurrying, the messenger went down the hundred stories of tower to get to the Ringbeaer's chambers. The Ringbeaer sat there, a young man with a tattoo extending from his ring finger to part of his face and his chest, was polishing a ring of the purest gold. "Hello. I am presuming Farael is alive?" The messenger nodded. "One of the members of their merry band is going to die. Did you know that? I can't see which though. Farael is a blot of ink on the clean chart of everyone's fate. Too dark to see. But, very well, I shall do it. But you know what I shall require." The messenger nodded again, eyes blotted over with tears, but frozen from fear. The Ringbearer put on his ring, walked to the messenger with a sword and bowl, and, after slciing the man's throat, let his blood pour into the bowl already full of alchemical reagents, and then dipped his sword into the mixture. And with that, the Ringbearer ran out of the tower, across the fields and the plains and the tundra. For now, he had a mission to carry out.


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I approve! Cool story so far...

Silver Crusade

Of course you approve. I made you the Legolas.


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That does help...this avatar is based of an actual DnD char...who was a ranger...so it all jives in my head.

Silver Crusade

So he IS an elf? Just checking... I'll write that down... is he Drow?


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An image of what Vandans look like. Colors and basic shapes are variable, but they always have bodies of multicolored crystal (usually blue, violet, green, or red) and wings and horns of metallic hues (usually brass or golden).


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Yeah, cliche or no, Kryzbyn was my Drizzt clone. Played him for 4 years from 1st to 14th level in 2nd ED. Drow noble from House Mizzrym. If you want any other details from his career, I'll be happy to share them :)

Silver Crusade

Who's Drizzt?


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The surviving members of Curnow's crew and Farael's band decided to rest and mend their wounds before walking to Brinay. It was less than a day's walk away. Of course, it would have been much faster by boat. They all watched the Temrathi airship fly back to their capital.

"I fear that they will be back, and this time they won't just send one airship," Kryzbyn said.

"Aye, it's true," Curnow said. "The district of Telatur will surely be destroyed as an example to the others. Killing the Vandan's slave-soldiers wasn't too hard, but the Vandan's themselves are very hard to kill. Their bodies are like stone."

"They can be stopped," Farael said. "Some of my memories were restored when I went to the meeting."

"Was that when you disappeared?" Wynnym asked.

"Yes, it was. I can't truly describe all that I saw. It's like a distant dream. But, I do know that the Vandans can be stopped, and it is my mission to stop them. That is why I came here."

With their wounds mended (Wynnym was a good healer) they made their way by foot to Brinay. They followed the Telatur River until they reached its mouth at the Seine Sea. There by the sea's Western coast was Brinay. It was a beautiful city, with tall, ivory walls protecting it.

Before they even got close to the city a regiment of warriors wearing white chainmail rode up to inercept them. They were riding warhorses and each one was armed with a crossbow and broadsword. One of the warriors jumped off his horse and approached Farael. He bowed deeply.

"Farael, news of your return has spread throughout the lands. We received a report about your battle with the Vandans. Truly, out liberation is near! I was sent here by the Mayor himself to escort you to Brinay to meet him. Please follow us. We have carriages for all of you."

The crew was in one cariage, and the rest rode in the other. Captain Curnow insisted on staying by Farael.

The tall, ivory city gates were opened for their arrival, and all along the city streets people cheered Farael's arrival. Brinay was as beautiful outside as it was inside. White seemed to be the dominant color of the city, but there were a few other brown buildings too.

It took them awhile to finally reach the Brinay Hall, where the mayor and city council met. The soldiers surrounded Farael and his band by the throngs of cheering people. It was all overwhelming to him.

They lead them all inside to the mayor's chamber. Mayor Brownson was a short and heavyset human man of sixty winters. He wore the official white robes of the mayor, and a pointed hat.

"Welcome to Brinay, Farael," he said kneeling. Farael really wished people would stop kneeling in front of him.

"Please rise. We are happy to be here, but we don't have much time. I fear that the battle we had with the Vandans will just bring more of them. I fear they will destroy Telatur. I saw sent here to meet with Master Gynax of the Red Hand. I was told he could help me."

"Yes, Farael, you are probably right on both accounts. Master Gynax can help you, but the people of Brinay have nothing to fear from the Vandans. We have been safe from them for over a century."

"Why is that, Mayor Brownson? Do you have a weapon that is powerful enough to destory them?"

"What we have is not a weapon, but an artifact that can destroy the Vandans if they get too close. Please, sit down and rest. I will summon Master Gynax here to speak with you. It is the Red Hand that operates the artifact that protects us. He can answer all of your questions."

All of them, except for Rictus who was floating, sat down around a long, wooden table and waited. Within an hour Master Gynax arrived alone. He was wearing a long, blue robe with a large, red-hand symbol sewn into it's front, and on his head was a pointed, wizard cap. He had black hair and beard, and he was wearing spectacles over his eyes.

"Farael the Fatebringer," he said smiling. He walked over and shook his hand, which Farael liked. "I never believed I would live long enough to see you in the flesh. Truly, these are interesting times."

"I am happy to finally meet you. I was told by Sissyl the Seer that you could help me restore my memories and remove these runes."

"Well, let me have a look at these runes first. They really are beautiful." He took ten minutes to look over the runes that covered most of Farael's body, except for his face.

"I thought so. I recognize the handiwork. These were placed on you by a master runecaster. It's a simple spell to cast, but it takes years to prepare the runes before hand. It would have taken just a few minutes to magically place these on you."

"I don't remember that happening."

"All right, if you will allow me I will cast a Spell of Remembrance on you. I will be able to show you who cast the runes on you. Hold on a moment."

Master Gynax closed his eyes and he started humming and moving his hands around in intricate motions. Then, an image appeared before them. They saw Farael lying down on the ground in the Wastedland. He was unconscious. His nude body had no runes on it. Then they saw a man approach him. The man made a few, magical motions of his hands, and the runes appeared on Farael's body. The man laughed and ran away.

"Do you recongize that man?" Gynax asked.

"I do! Kryzbyn said. "It's the crazy, old hermit who lived in the hills by Zurn. I was told he used to be a runecaster. He put these on you!"

"Interesting," Gynax said, "but why? That question I cannot answer. Unforunately, I cannot remove these runes. They are too intricate even for me to remove. There are only two people that can get rid of these runes. The person who cast them and you."

"Me? How can I remove them?"

"If I knew how I would tell you. Farael, you are an angel of the Gods of Light. They invented runes. You have access to power that I can only dream of. I can feel just some of that power within you. You took a small part of that with you from the Heavens, but it is a small part of infinity! When you are ready, you will be able to remove these runes."

"I had a feeling you would say that," Farael said. "All right, answer me this question. What are the purpose of these runes?"

"That's simple. These runes can be used to control you. Even kill you if you don't follow the runecaster's orders. They are truly Runes of Servitude. They are like magical chains."

"The mayor said you had an artifact that could destroy the Vandans," Wynnym said. "Maybe that could help Farael?"

"Oh, that? Well, I don't think it can, but I will show it to you. Its really rather interesting. Here, I will show you an image of it."

Gynax uttered another spell, and he showed them all a vision of something that looked like a giant bell.

"Our order consists of healers, but also wizards and sages. They found this artifact in an ancient, ruined city. Yes, it is a sort of bell. When struck at a precise angle, it emits a high pitched sound. That sound is strong enough to shatter glass or even crystal. We used it just once before when the Vandans first tried to take Brinay over a century before. It shattered them instantly, and they never returned. The Red Hand keeps its location a secret. There are spies everywhere, even here in Brinay."

"Then what do we do now?" Kelvar asked. "How can we help Farael find this runecaster? From what you told us he can control him."

"Yes, I will see what we can do. There are spells that I can cast that can locate him. He sounds like an unstable person, so it could be difficult. Please, stay with me at the Red Hand's House. It is the most secure building in Brinay, and it is also safe from spies. I do not trust the people who work for Mayor Browson, or him for that matter. Come, let us depart now. We have a lot of work to do."

Back at the Imperial City of Vanda, Lord Culex (also called Grand Emperor and many other things) was alone in the throneroom of his palace. Everything was going according to plan. The plan was given to him by the Dark One, He who could not be Named. The Dark One told him about Farael's arrival. The Dark One told him about the runecaster who lived in the hills. Only he could cast the runes that would bind Farael to his will, the Dark One said. It was the Dark One who said that it was all part of a Great Game. It was the Dark One who told him where to find the Runecaster, who was deep within one of Culex's dungeons.

Lord Culex sent for one of his attendants.
"Send the Runecaster to me," he told him. "I need to speak to him again. I need to make sure he understands what is required of him. Everything must go according to the plan."

When the attendant left he saw the shadow in the corner of his room. It was the shadow that was always watching him...

Sczarni

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"Brinay." The Ringbearer said to himself in the depths of night. "The city so full of loyalists to the Empire it doesn't matter they have the bell." he walked up to the city gates, and was freely allowed in by a third of the guards. The rest he had to kill. They tried to fight. Pathetic. He knew they were somewhere within the walls of this city, and as he perched above the gates, he knew he would get the Fatebringer. It was simply a matter of time.

Scarab Sages

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As He headed to the Red Hand's House, Farael couldn't get the Meeting out of his mind. The memory was more than vague, it didn't add up. Even the timing seemed wrong. "A few hundred mortal-hours," His wheel-angel "friend" had explicitly said - but on this world, at least, while it had been several days, it had still been fewer than even 100 hours, all told. Who were these "Others" whose influence the Gods of Lights seemed to take so gravely, and why didn't He know a thing about them anymore? More importantly, why did Farael look so different at the meeting, and where had His runes gone when they were back now - for that matter, if that was really Farael Himself at the meeting, why had He viewed the whole thing in the third person, as though through the countless eyes of His wheel-angel acquaintance? He even remembered a little of what happened after He stormed out of the chamber after making His demand, and the god WOT had a point: The Farael who had stood up to an entire angelic host and made such brazen demands to a god - He looked like a pineapple.

Far out at sea, a tremendous impact from above instigated the formation of a comparatively small, but still ample, tidal wave....


Captain Edward Curnow wrote:

"Brinay." The Ringbearer said to himself in the depths of night. "The city so full of loyalists to the Empire it doesn't matter they have the bell." he walked up to the city gates, and was freely allowed in by a third of the guards. The rest he had to kill. They tried to fight. Pathetic. He knew they were somewhere within the walls of this city, and as he perched above the gates, he knew he would get the Fatebringer. It was simply a matter of time.

Master Gynax lead Farael, Wynnym, Kryzbyn, Kelvar, Kelvar, Rictus, Captain Curnow amd his crew to the Red House of Brinay, which was made out of red bricks. It was several stories tall. The Ringbearer watched from the rooftop of a nearby building; his magical ring blended him into the background. He watched and waited.

Curnow told his crew to go to his ship, The 7th Sea, and prepare it for voyage. It was anchored off the coast of Brinay. He had a feeling in his bones that something wasn't right, and he wanted to be able to get out of Brinay as soon as possible. He told Farael about his feeling, and he agreed with it.

Gynax lead them up to the seventh floor of the Red House, where there was a large, red colored room.

"I will call the elders of our order here to meet with you," Gynax said. "Together we will find out what our next step should be. I promise you that tonight we will find answers."

Gynax left and Farael waited. The Ringbearer jumped onto the roof of the Red House. His mission was to kill Farael, but he needed it to be a surprise attack. Even he was not sure if he could survive a direct fight with an angel. However, he had read that fallen angels were just as mortal as he was, and mortals could die. He knew exactly what to do. He used the magic of his ring to start a fire.

Farael was the first to notice the fire. He could feel it, and then everyone heard shouting.

"Fire! Fire! Everyone get out of the Red House!" They heard someone say.

"Let's see if we can help," Wynnym said. "I can try to summon a rain over the Red House." She closed her eyes to pray, and the rest happened very fast.

The Ringbearer had easily blended into his surroundings. He held his sword with both hands. The fire was the perfect distraction. He walked into the Red Room unnoticed, and he had a perfect shot at Farael. He ran in for the kill.

Rictus was more than just a floating skull. Being dead had it's advantages, like being able to see what others could not. He saw the Ringbearer running at Farael, and he yelled, "FARAEL LOOK OUT!!!"

As fate would have it, Kelvar was speaking with Farael when the attack happened. He instinctively stepped in front Farael, and the Ringbrearer ran him through with his sword.

"No!" Farael yelled. He looked into the eyes of the Ringbearer, who quickly pulled his sword out of Kelvar's chest. Farael acted out of instict, which was why the white lightning flew from his hands. The Ringbearer was able to deflect it with his sword. It struck the rest of the Red Room, destroying most of it.

"You fool!" The Ringbearer shouted, "Is that all that you got?" He laughed and Farael's eyes glowed. He had something more. He opened his mouth, and the Fire of the Gods came out engulfing the Ringbearer. He screamed and his body was burnt to ashes. All that was left of him was his sword and ring. Captain Curnow picked them up.

Kelvar was dead. Rictus floated above him and wondered what he was feeling. Sadness? Regret? He didn't know what to feel, but he had a feeling about what he should do. He uttered words that he could not understand, and the bones that had been sewn into Kelvar's cloak ripped out of it. They reattached themselves to Rictus, and he was shocked and happy at the same time.

"Look, everyone, I'm a skeleton! Praise the Gods!!!"

While Rictus was dancing around, the body of Kelvar was removed.

Farael told everyone his concerns.

"We must leave Brinay tonight," Farael said. "I believe we would be safest on the 7th Sea. Trust me, my friends, I feel I am close to an answer, I just don't know what it is yet."

As they left, Master Gynax gave them a present. It was a small, golden box.

"Don't open it yet. Wait until you leave the city. I want it to be a surprise. I too have had the same feeling. Something terrible is about to happen to Brinay, but I cannot leave my home. I must remain behind to help if I can. I wish you well, Farael. I hope you bring a good fate to the world."

They went to the port where the 7th Sea was waiting for them. It was the most magnificant sailing ship in all of the world. It was a three masted beauty adorned with mermaids and pure gold cannons.

"Aye, come abroad all ye," Captain Curnow said. "You may sleep in my quarters. We will leave at once and then decide where to go."

They boarded the ship, and at once Curnow noticed that something was wrong.

"I have been a seafarer for many lifetimes, and I know when a big wave is coming. Get this ship out to sea, you dogs!" He screamed at his crew. "Everyone below deck now! A wave is coming!"

Curnow used his skill as a master sailor to sail the ship through the tidal wave that crashed into Brinay. The ivory walls of the city fell. The tidal wave was beyond anything that Curnow had seen before. He stood alone on the deck with his hands at the wheel, and with a combination of skill and his own magics, and he kept the 7th Sea afloat. When the wave ended, they were far out in the middle of the Seine Sea.

They all gathered on the deck of the ship to decide what to do next when something even more unusual happened. A large pineapple was flying towards the ship. It landed in front of Farael. He didn't know what to say or do, but then a voice came out of the pineapple:

"Greetings, Farael, I am so happy to finally meet you. The Great Game has started, and you will play a major part in it. WOT wanted to stop it, but I talked Him out of it."

"Who are you?" Farael asked.

"Oh, how silly of me. You may not understand this at first, but I am you. I am Farael the Fallen."

Dark Archive

"Colonel Yzgal has not reported in, my lady," the messenger replied. "the Ringbearer departed some hours ago on His Dark Lordship's orders, and the Runecaster was summoned up from the prison depths not long ago."

The Captain snarled and dismissed the errander to continue about his duties. If Yzgal had not yet reported in, after so long, there were only two reasons: she was dead or she had failed. She, like Yzgal, like all soldiers of Temrath, knew the Law: Death before Defeat. If she returned to Vanda without completing her mission, she would never see Lord Culex to report; she would be executed at the first superior officer who questioned her regarding the status of her mission. If she survived, she was still out there, making her preparations for another attempt.

So be it. The Aragh were replaceable, as was Yzgal to a lesser degree. She was merely a Colonel, after all. If she lived and later successfully completed her task, all the better. But it would behoove the Captain to assume she had failed, and act accordingly. New action would need to be taken. She did not know what Culex desired from the Runecaster - the old hermit had been one of their earliest human prisoners, and though she herself disdained the idea of using a human as anything more than fodder, much less allowing one so magically capable to retain their arcana, it was not her place to correct the Dark Knight. It was simply her place to continue as she had been - commanding the lesser officers in Temrath's army, and seeing to the completion of her orders: the death of the angel and the elf.

She considered returning to Botun and fetching another beast from the Menagerie, but dismissed the idea. The Ringbearer had been dispatched to Brinay, so the rebels couldn't be far from that location. By land or by sea, was the question. The assassin would handle those on foot, she decided swiftly; she would see to sending troops by water.

Considering her options, she noted a location that spread a smile across her stony face from horn to horn. A few leagues off the shore of Brinay lay the Jagged Isle... a place where magic grew wild and strange creatures walked the night. One of the few places where the barriers between this world and the shadow of Vanda were thin. It was a place of power, and the mighty mages of Temrath often sought such locations for their lairs. She knew a mage who had made his home on the Jagged Isle. One who owed a debt of servitude to the army of Temrath. A debt she could call upon.

She departed to the scrying room and focused on the the image of the necromancer until he appeared, studious in his lair, in the rippling liquid in the crystal bowl. "Alzir. Alzir! I am Captain Rivie of the first legion of Vanda. Give me your attention!"

The mage sat upright. Despite being a Vandan, his stone body - crystal so deeply violet that it nearly looked black - was emaciated and skeletal, his head devoid of hair, his frame supplemented only by the long white robes he wore. "I hear you, captain. What commands our lord?"

"Your debt has come due, necromancer," she continued. "A group of rebels nears the village of Brinay. Lord Culex desires their destruction - primarily, a dark elf and a winged entity clothed in runes. I pass this command to you, to be completed in any method you desire. We seek only proof of their destruction."

There was a moment of silence, then a barely perceptible nod from the figure in the bowl. "It shall be as the Dark Knight commands, my liege. These vandals shall know why Alzir has been crowned as The Terror of Death."

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