[Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

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Azaghal
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by Azaghal » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:28 pm

Uh Oh!
Sean "Azaghal" Pennington

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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:23 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...

The doorway on the far side of the room cycled open, and it was filled with a hulking form, clad head to toe in plates of a metal that looked to be cold-cast iron. Blue-white lights flickered through the eye-slits of the helmet, falling on each of us as it looked slowly around the room.

Gems were worked into the armored vambraces, and lights cycled through each: red, then blue, then white, yellow, then back to the red. They did not look to be dragonstones, for none was veined through with gold.

The suit was armored even down to the hands and fingers, held within ready reach of hilts of an impressively large sword and dagger hanging from either plated hip.

The hulking man plodded into the room, the tip of its helmet perhaps three handspans from the room’s ceiling. It clanked up to Gilliam, stopping just outside the red circle of light painted across the floor and tables. That light suddenly died, and the man reached out to take Gilliam’s arm.

“This way, please.”

It spoke with a hollow, clicking voice, the helmet giving it an extra-deep echo.

Gilliam sprang the moment the pincer-like clamps released him. He leapt, diving over Varis, turning as he tumbled, a sharp ring of steel chiming through the room. The warrior rolled to his feet, the Enforcer’s long knife held at middle guard.

It turned, slowly, to face him, and Varis spun from the table, drawing the sword from the armored figure’s other hip, holding the weapon in both hands, leveled at the gap between the back-plate and helmet.

“What is this place?” Varis asked. “We’ll have some answers before we go anywhere with you.”

The armored figure was silent, unmoving, and Varis repeated his question.

“Vulburgh harmonics detected. Tuning.” The lights cycled faster along the four gemstones. After three passes, they slowed back down. “Please repeat your question.”

“Where are we?”

“Medlab 3, Suspension Control Level. Please lower your weapons, or the facility will override your dragonstone credentials and authorize use of deadly force.”

“Credentials?” Ana asked. “Explain.”

“Bearers of dracosillicates are to be treated as Friends to the Crown and accorded all courtesies. Please, do not force us to reclassify you as threats, and dispose of you as we did the other intruders.”

Varis slowly brought the sword down and away from the Enforcer’s neck. He planted the blade between his feet, resting his hands over the pommel. Gilliam likewise reversed his grip on the dagger, tucking it into the sash at his waist.

“What is this ‘quarantine?’” Gilliam asked.

“We must keep you isolated until a siren arrives to neutralize the symbiont.”

“And how long will that take?”

The man was silent, but the lights winked faster on his gauntlet.

Dracosilicus noxis shipment is currently six hundred seventy-two thousand, five days behind schedule,” came the tinny female’s voice.

“A new host can be ready in a matter of a few hours,” the Enforcer said. “However, the siren anima template was damaged in an earthquake approximately five-hundred thousand days past. We have already overextended our stores of dracosilicates fabricating a backup. And as you heard, the resupply shipments are overdue.”

“Sounds as if it will be a while, then,” Gilliam said, frowning.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:19 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


“If I’ve worked my numbers properly,” Ana said, “this place is more than two thousand years old. Older than Alphatia’s presence here.”

“It predates Halav’s day, that is certain,” Varis said.

“How rich must they have been, to clad the walls in steel?” Gilliam wondered, running a hand along one of the great, seamless plates.

We were following the Enforcer down another hallway, this one slanting downward, running at a sharp angle away from the room he’d called the ‘Medlab.’ Several of the doors we passed through had the hexagonal keyholes, yet the doors moved aside at the armored figure’s approach.

“More importantly,” Ana said, glowering at Gilliam, “think about how old he must be.” She pointed towards our guide.

“I have been in service for seven hundred thousand and six days, five hours, and seventeen minutes,” the man told us.

“You don’t look a day over six hundred thousand,” Gilliam quipped.

The man’s helmet cocked to one side. “You are many thousands of days late in auditioning for jester of the Royal Court.”

“Where is it you are taking us, again?” I asked.

“The idea of quarantine seemed displeasing to you. We will arrive at Suspension Control in a matter of moments.”

“And from there?” Ana asked.

“We will gather the necessary components for a forced ejection of the symbiont.”

“That sounds painful,” Gilliam said, tugging at the flaps of material covering the stone in his chest.

“It is the only other alternative to quarantine.”

“We couldn’t do that in the chamber above?” Varis asked.

“Combat is forbidden in Medlab facilities.”

Another round door slid open, and we filed into another triangular chamber, much like that at the bottom of the falling room. The view opened into a vast cavern, but this one was much smaller than that of the great, light-infused column. A wavering pattern of green and white light shimmered across the ceiling, and I looked down to see that it reflected what looked like a lake of green, glowing liquid, the surface covered with patches of fog the same color. Something could be seen, barely beneath the surface. I strained my eyes, but could only make out an oblong, smooth and shining tube of some sort, with a darker shape within.

There were hundreds of them, no, thousands, lined one next to the other, rank after rank, arranged around a central island that rose out of the center of the greenish lake. As the fog rolled away from the island, I saw upon it a circular metal ring. Tiny figures moved about on the island, armored though not nearly as bulky as the Enforcer. There were five of them, three milling about the large ring, the other two hauling one of the tubes from the depths of the lake.

“This way, please,” the Enforcer said, gesturing towards the recessed doorway that had just slid open with a chime. It revealed a familiar chamber with the railing set at waist-height.

My stomach began making flips even before I stepped over the threshold.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:08 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


I had barely enough time to grip the railing and regret not simply staying above to observe when the falling sensation was gone, and the doors opened into the large cavern we’d seen from above.

The floor of uneven stone gave way to a rocky beach, and the Enforcer guided us to a thin, sandy causeway that led across the lake, all the way up to the island at its center.

We filed onto it at his gesture, and I paused, turning back when he did not follow us.

“Follow the medicos’ instructions” was all he said when I inquired.

The circle that I’d seen from above turned out to be the rim of a great round pool, perhaps seven feet across, forged from a single huge piece of platinum. (Gilliam, I think, nearly wet himself, looking upon it.) Six great brackets of the rough iron-like metal used in the Enforcer’s armor clamped the pool to the surface of the island, each of these anchored to the sandy ground within great blocks of ivory.

Between each pair of brackets, twelve runes were stamped deep into the outer edge of the pool. Closer inspection revealed them to be two pairs of six: one inlaid with silver. The other, the letters slightly more angular, set with gold.

We watched the three armored figures work. They ignored us, for the most part, except to usher Gilliam away when he tried to touch the great bowl.

They affixed a metal arm to each bracket, each extending about two feet over the bowl, ending in a clamp-like grip. At the brackets’ bases, where the metal was sunk into the ivory, they fitted long U-shaped bars into sockets designed for just such a purpose. Tuning forks, I recognized, similar to the one used by Bargle in Koriszegy’s tower orrery.

“What do you make of this?” Varis asked, keeping his voice low.

“A fortune, that’s what I make of it,” Gilliam whispered.

I closed my eyes, treading back, back over ages of legends. Older than the beastman invasion, older than the falling of the eastern and western stars. No, this was something legendary even to the elves, for whom Illsundal’s migration is still history. As with everything surrounding recent events in which we’d all been involved, this was beyond ancient. From the World that Was. The tale gleamed, in my memory, silver-bright.

Ana beat me to it.

“The demons’ mouthpiece.” She spoke the words through clenched teeth.

“The what?” Gilliam asked.

“Khaadak’atman,” I said, hoping I’d crafted the wording right in the native Old Thonian.

Gilliam shook his speaking stone pendant. “It doesn’t work when you speak it,” he said.

“Your pronunciation is quite good,” clicked one of the armored figures, in a voice similar to that of the Enforcer. “But the correct name is ‘Avaat’atman.’"

“‘Well of Souls?’” Gilliam repeated the translation that reverberated in the speaking stone. “It looks to be worth quite a few of those.”
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by Gecko » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:29 pm

RobJN wrote:I closed my eyes, treading back, back over ages of legends. Older than the beastman invasion, older than the falling of the eastern and western stars. No, this was something legendary even to the elves, for whom Illsundal’s migration is still history.
hmm... references to the crash of the Beagle and the Great Rain of Fire, I'll guess?

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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:22 pm

Gecko wrote:
RobJN wrote:I closed my eyes, treading back, back over ages of legends. Older than the beastman invasion, older than the falling of the eastern and western stars. No, this was something legendary even to the elves, for whom Illsundal’s migration is still history.
hmm... references to the crash of the Beagle and the Great Rain of Fire, I'll guess?
Thorn is actually referring to the meteorite impacts of BC 1100. One landed in the Glantrian Alps, the other in the Sundsvall barrens. These were the gate-seeds, which the Alphatians and Flaems sowed across the dimensions and galaxies during their great exodus, in the hopes of finding a new land to call home. It took about 100 years for them to mature and grow into fully operational gateways, after which point the Alphatians made their Landfall on the continent between Brun and Skothar, and the Flaems followed some 1400 years later.

* It is worth noting that for all intents and purposes, the Gates were one-way affairs. Interaction with the demon-tainted magic of Thorn's Mystara caused the Gates to warp while they were growing. The Alphatians and Flaems alike were both disturbed enough by their passage through the Gates to seal them from any further use, lest the terrifying presences they felt as they passed through also come through the portals....
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by Gecko » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:04 pm

RobJN wrote:
Gecko wrote:
RobJN wrote:I closed my eyes, treading back, back over ages of legends. Older than the beastman invasion, older than the falling of the eastern and western stars. No, this was something legendary even to the elves, for whom Illsundal’s migration is still history.
hmm... references to the crash of the Beagle and the Great Rain of Fire, I'll guess?
Thorn is actually referring to the meteorite impacts of BC 1100. One landed in the Glantrian Alps, the other in the Sundsvall barrens. These were the gate-seeds, which the Alphatians and Flaems sowed across the dimensions and galaxies during their great exodus, in the hopes of finding a new land to call home. It took about 100 years for them to mature and grow into fully operational gateways, after which point the Alphatians made their Landfall on the continent between Brun and Skothar, and the Flaems followed some 1400 years later.

* It is worth noting that for all intents and purposes, the Gates were one-way affairs. Interaction with the demon-tainted magic of Thorn's Mystara caused the Gates to warp while they were growing. The Alphatians and Flaems alike were both disturbed enough by their passage through the Gates to seal them from any further use, lest the terrifying presences they felt as they passed through also come through the portals....
oh? That's an interesting idea which raises lots of background possibilities, neat! The Flaemish one also arrived in BC 1100? So there was a working gate sitting around for 1400 years that the demons (or perhaps someone/something else) could fiddle with and experiment on? :evil:

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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:20 pm

Gecko wrote: So there was a working gate sitting around for 1400 years that the demons (or perhaps someone/something else) could fiddle with and experiment on? :evil:
I can neither confirm nor deny that at this time. :twisted: :x
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:39 am

Thorn's Chroncile continues...


One of the armored figures dragged a hose nearly as big around as my head past us, fastening it to an opening on the far side of the platinum pool. At the turn of a switch, the island gave a great thrumming beneath our feet, and the greenish liquid began to bubble up from a drain at the bottom of the bowl I hadn’t noticed before. The liquid appeared semi-viscous, nearly the consistency of warmed honey.

“I’ll give you ten Crowns to take a sip of that,” Varis muttered to Gilliam.

“If you had ten Crowns to your name, I would. But since you don’t…”

Ana sighed, and sidled over to me.

“I do not like it Thorn. Every single legend about this thing is steeped in blood and misery. This thing nearly brought down a kingdom and—“

“Nearly,” I said. “But look — the legends do not mention these runes, the silver and gold. You cannot tell me those are just a coincidence.”

She looked at the runes, and I could see it in her face as she understood just what they must represent. I was prepared for the look of wonder. But that quickly melted into a scowl. She turned, staring out over the lake, and crossed the few steps to the utterly still shore. Not even a ripple stirred the green-cast surface.

A good stone’s throw from shoreline, perhaps six or eight feet below the surface, the rows and rows of rounded cylinders lay silent and still.

I turned, at the sound of metal scraping metal. The armored figures were lifting one of those cylinders into place over the surface of the half-full pool, lining it up between the six clamp-arms.

It looked both delicate and highly durable. It was mainly panes and curves of the clear, crystalline glass, seamed by a webwork of the strange, rough-cast metal, as if the hodgepodge of leftover pieces of stained-glass were slapped together and turned end to end. It was capped at each end by domes of the dull metal, each with a round pane of glass in the center. It wasn't empty; greenish liquid barely had room to slosh within the cylinder as the figures adjusted its fit.

And floating within that….

I caught my breath in wonder. Ana’s sharp intake came through clenched teeth, and I had to take hold of her arm to keep her from rushing forward.

“Let me go, Thorn!”

“We have not yet been given instructions. It would be best not to interfere.”

“Interfere?” She pointed to the cylinder. “There is a girl in there!”
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Fri Feb 04, 2011 3:45 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


Her arms were crossed over her chest, legs drawn up, her forehead nearly touching her knees. Her hair drifted about her in a cloud, stirred to motion with the sloshing of the greenish liquid.

“She’s not breathing,” Ana said. “You have to get her out of there!”

One of the armored figures cocked its helmet to one side. “Of course it does not breathe. It has no need for that function yet. Now if you please, one of each of you to the left of each pylon.” The man gestured towards one of the spots with a metal-clad hand.

We distributed ourselves around the great pool, as directed. Laying upon the block of ivory was a slender metal wand with a rounded tip. I picked it up, and noticed the others doing the same.

I glanced up, to see the girl in the capsule slowly revolve towards me. Something caught the light, gleaming between locks of hair from between her fingers. She appeared to be clasping something to her chest.

“On the mark of three, please strike the chime,” the man clicked. He raised a hand, as a choir director might to signal the beginning of a song. The other two figures busied themselves at a low bank of machinery, leaning over some of those strange light-painted windows, hands busy with dials and switches. After several moments, the two raised their heads, nodding towards the other figure.

“One. Two. Three.” The armored figure dropped his hand, and we struck the tuning forks.

Such a sweet, sweet harmony that arose. It sounded of hope, and courage. And yet, it was also the sound of loss, of a deep sadness.

The tones rang pure for several heartbeats before a grating, grinding sound joined in, sending shivers running down my arms and legs. Above me, line after line of bright white chased across the glass. In another few seconds, with a sharp chime of its own, every facet of the cylinder came apart in a shower of greenish glowing liquid, punctuated by countless shining bits and fragments of glass.

I ducked behind an upraised arm, dodging a step back as the girl hit the half-full pool with a heavy splash. The goop washed up and over the sides of the pool, shards of glass glimmering in the chamber’s eerie lighting.

And as the stuff ran into the grooves left by the runes, those etched in gold began to glow, dully at first, but growing steadily brighter behind the sheen of the greenish glop.

More golden light spilled from above, and I looked up to see the light streaming from cracks in the structure of the cylinder’s metal framework.

No, I realized. They weren’t cracks. The surface was flaking away, in tiny bits and longer strips, as rust might be stripped from iron, or the tarnish worn away from silver or bronze.

The liquid in the pool was beginning to froth and roil, throwing up a heavy mist that obscured all but a single point of shining purplish-blue light. Drops began pattering down into the pool, steam from their striking the surface joining the fog. The drops fell faster, until streams and loops of the glowing golden metal were splashing down, lending brief gleams and flickers of gold within the green-cast mist.

Arcs of blue-white light began to spark and jump between the now-empty clamps above us. Sputtering, jumping first to one, and then arcing between two and three different metal rods. The bursts of lightning began to synchronize, until they were arcing from one pylon to another, six of them chasing each other in the same direction that the storm had turned in the skies above the valley.

From within the circle described by the lightning, there came a sudden, terrible coldness, and it seemed as though my every breath was drawn upward, into that spinning blue-white light. Against the glare, I saw what could not have been: stars in a nighttime sky, though we had to be hundreds of feet below the ground, sheltered further by the bulk of the Black Peaks towering above the Valley floor.

Against the freezing, howling draw of the emptiness that gaped above, strands, finer than cobweb, drifted as if from the cold stars on the other side of the void. It felt as if I stood with a powerful gale to my back, the sleeves and loose legs of my trousers flapping, my hair blowing about my face. Yet those gleaming white threads drifted downward, without a hint of disturbance, disappearing into the bubbling, mist-shrouded pool, their faint white light blending with the gold and the shining point of purple-blue light that hadn’t wavered the entire length of this strange ceremony.

A glimmer caught the corner of my vision, and I tore my gaze away from the spectacle to see the tuning fork turning, elongating, then shrinking. Through the howl of the portal, I could make out musical strains, the melody barely-heard.

“Another minute,” one of the men at the controls said.

Beside him, reddish light painted the faceplate of the other figure.

“Fold-field breach. Six ethereals. Shall we abort?”

Anima reconstruction is at sixty-two percent. The binders have not yet solidified. To shut down now risks her going berserk without restraint.” The armored figure who was overseeing the pool was apparently senior to the other two.

“Eight ethereals.” The red lights were beginning to blink, painting his helm alternating shades of red and white and orange. “Ten.”

The man at the pool withdrew an oblong box from beneath his tunic. He placed it on the rim of the pool, and began taking out stones, holding them up to the blue-white light of the lightning, examining one, then another, and another. Irregularly cut, red and white crystals veined with gold, and a few, slightly smaller, black and veined a deep purple.

“Fifteen ethereals.”

“Seventy-seven percent reconstruction. Binders in place.” Stronger flares of golden light lit the mists from below.

After another moment’s consideration, the man at the side of the pool tipped the container emptying it into the greenish mists.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:21 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


“Ninety percent,” the armored man said, from the side of the pool. Rather than gazing up at the howling lightning-portal, his attention was on the frothing, misty pool, now awash in gold, red, white, and purple light. It was as if a miniature lightning storm were going on in the thick mists.

Fewer and fewer gossamer strands of white light were falling through the portal. The stars flickered, dancing in and out among the blackness, there and then gone, to reappear again a moment later. I frowned. That was not familiar twinkling.

Something was passing over the stars. Several somethings, blacker than the night around them. A cold completely different than that of winter, or of the void seeped through me. It went deeper, past flesh and bone, clutching at the very soul. More and more stars were falling behind the shadows in the night. They were getting closer.

“Ninety-five percent. Ninety-seven.”

“Ethereals are nearly at the gateway. Shutting down.”

“No!” the figure at the side of the pool said, and its clicking voice held the first note of emotion I’d been able to make out.

“We cannot bring her back again if this fails. Those were the last of our dragonstones. And she is the last of our firstborn.”
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by Chimpman » Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:29 pm

Oh... very creepy. I'm getting shivers down my spine just reading it. See... I told you there would be more Azaghal ;)
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:26 am

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


The translation’s echo rang in my ears.

“Reconstruction is complete. Close the portal.”

One of the armored men at the console flipped a switch, while the other turned a dial. Above me, the lightning sputtered, and then the bolts lost their cohesion, arcing faster or slower, opening gaps between the metal clamps. The portal wavered, and began to tear, edges pulling away, revealing the cavern’s ceiling behind them. The howl of the void lessened, but over it, I heard a chorus of keening, metallic shrieks, and a hurried beating of dozens of bat-like wings. Two streaks peeled away from the collapsing portal, as if night itself came through, and two hazy shapes, all wings and tails turned, swooping up along the wall, circling to gain what altitude they could in the confines of the cavern.

A cacophony of blaring horns and a ringing of bells sprang up, a wave of sound crashing over us. The greenish lighting from the vast pool of green was lost as a harsh red glare spilled from great lamps high along the walls of the cave.

Had I not inadvertently cupped my hands as I reached up to cover my ears, I would never have heard the faint splashing, the weak coughing from within the pool. No longer boiling and heaving, the mists thinning, I could see the silhouette of a human figure within the still-faintly glowing liquid. A thin arm broke the surface, and a familiar tracery of golden loops and interlocking whorls gleamed from wrist to midway up her lower arm. Under the strobing reddish glare from above, the metal looked the color of just-banked embers, rather than bright, molten gold. Three stones were tangled among the metallic swirls: red, then white, then black, the white gleaming the brightest of the three.

I leaned against the sloped side of the pool, reaching out towards the girl.

“Aurora! This way!”

Wide, golden eyes flicked my way, but it was a darting glance. Her gaze darted up, and then she took a deep breath and plunged beneath the surface.

Something colder, darker than winter’s night streaked past, wingtips cutting twin trails across the surface of the pool. As it banked and climbed out of the dive, it gave a grating wail that drowned the alarms and bells. The translating echo stabbed into my mind, and for the space of a breath, it seemed that would be my last. Through a haze of red and white light, I could see the others clutching at their ears, eyes tightly closed. Yet across the pool, the two weavers stood, staring, confused yet seemingly unharmed.

The armored figures did not seem affected by the cacophony. A volley of brilliant white bolts sizzled from their outstretched hands, bursting with splashes of light as they slammed into the far wall of the cavern. Though they missed the flying creatures, the things screeched, twisting to avoid the blasts and having to circle higher.

The pain of the creatures’ screams lanced into my head again, and then a sharp tug at my neck made me crack my eyes open against the pain… to find that it had vanished. The girl had surfaced, and snagged my speaking stone pendant, tearing it away as she struggled to grasp the side of the pool.

I reached down, gripping her upper arm, hauling her up over the side. She slipped over the wide rim of the platinum pool, and a good measure of the green liquid came up and over with her. She lunged to one side as I was trying to steady her, and we both slid to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs.

Again, I felt the sharp, biting cold as one of the winged things swept overhead, hazy wingtips not even an arm’s length away. Its effect was lessened, though, for the girl had landed atop me, and she was warm. Hot. The liquid dripped from her long, matted hair, but it was steaming, evaporating from her skin at an alarming rate.

As much heat as she was putting out, though, she shivered violently, the muscles along her jaw clenching as she tried to stop her teeth from chattering.

More sizzling white bolts lanced overhead, and the winged shadows screamed as they spun away from the volley.

I pulled the girl as close as I could, and struggled partway to my feet. Her fingers curled around the neckline of my tunic, and her legs began to spasm, and I nearly pitched back to the ground.

“Thorn! Get her out of here!” Varis pointed with the sword he’d appropriated from the Enforcer, waving it at the sandy causeway.

“Wait, don’t go that way!”

Ana’s shout caused me to turn, and I felt something in my knee pop as I spun, staggering towards her.

She set a hand on my shoulder.

“Flame go with you, Thorn. Let Its fire protect you against all that is Dark.”

A warmth surged from her touch, and then she moved her hand from my chest to my back, giving me a shove. “Now go!”

I saw her spreading her arms, heard her shout in the hard, sibilant Alphatian tongue, and a flare of silver light at my back was answered with another keening, grating shriek and a heavy flapping of wings.

Another trio of white-hot flares soared overhead, to be joined with a sudden roar and rush of orange-red heat. A globe of orange light, rimmed and trailing flames came from the two weavers’ positions around the pool.

The blonde weaver’s aim was impressive, for when the flying beast twisted to avoid the white bolts, it flew straight into the path of the girl’s ball of flame. It erupted with a thunderous roar and wash of even more heat. The thing screamed, spinning, wings aflame until it crashed into the lake, disappearing into the greenish depths.

I ran, spending most of my effort on keeping hold of the girl. Her shivering increased, and though she seemed to cool a bit, the metal around her forearms was uncomfortably hot against my shoulder and chest.

The Enforcer stepped aside as I drew near him, but his attention was fixed on the main chamber behind me. I saw him gather his fists together, winding his arms back, felt the approaching cold of the creature. I did not look back, kept running, towards the recessed doorway, but heard the hard sound of metal against hide, heard both a screech from the creature, as well as the screech of tearing metal. Then the cold drifted away.

The doors rolled open as I approached, and I skidded to a halt. Or rather, the air hardened around me, causing me to skid to a halt.

“You see, I told you they would bring her to us.”

His long yellow robe smudged with soot and streaked with blood — much like the man himself — Golithar tucked a thumb into his wide red belt-sash and managed a smile from the other side of the doorway.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by Azaghal » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:56 am

Rob, TOTALLY FRIGGIN' AWESOME!!!!!!
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:23 pm

I knew I wanted to bring Golithar back, just hadn't quite found the right moment. :twisted: He and his leashed weaver Jolenta were too good not to return. Now, I wonder what happened to Jaleel...? :? :twisted:

Thorn's Chronicle continues....


“Find a way to stop that infernal whimpering of hers,” Golithar told me, “it grates on my nerves.”

The girl still shivered, arms and legs twitching, her breathing cycling between the steady rhythm of deep sleep, and racing to a harsh panting, her heartbeat doing likewise. The white stones on her wrists flared brightest during those phases. I knew from the Aurora before that meant they were actively regenerating.

I did what I could, singing through every lullaby I’d ever learned. These soothed her somewhat. During a particularly violent fit of thrashing in my arms, I sang to her the melody that had played under the chaos at the Well of Souls, and that seemed to give her the greatest measure of comfort. It went on to become a favorite of my nieces and nephews, and grand nieces and nephews. Ana even warmed enough to it to sing it to her children.

It would be many, many years before the warforged medic called Patches would explain to me that she was going through “transfer shock:” reliving the thousands of lifetimes over the course of the past four thousand years. Every battle, every death, every rebirth, unfolding with every breath, every heartbeat. It was no wonder when she opened her eyes a few hours later that they looked so old, so tired.

As recognition of her surroundings took hold, she pressed her head to my shoulder. “It was too much to hope the last time would truly be my last,” she sighed.


Golithar and Jolenta preceded me down the long, twisting metal-lined corridors. I had little choice but to follow them, as Jolenta hardened the air to the sides and behind me. I could either walk or she would simply drag me. The stabbing pains in my tailbone and back of my head taught me it was best to walk, after she abruptly softened the air behind me a few times.

The girl screamed, flinching away from the metal of the floor where she touched it as I fell, her arms and feet blistering from the slightest contact. Yet another reason I complied with the pair’s demands that I carry the girl and follow them: neither was inclined to carry the girl, and they would have had her walk, even after seeing her reaction to the touch of the metal walls and floor.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by Azaghal » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:43 am

Chimpman wrote:Oh... very creepy. I'm getting shivers down my spine just reading it. See... I told you there would be more Azaghal ;)
As to the creepy, I very much had an Alien/Aliens thing going, the exploring the surface parts.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:45 am

Azaghal wrote:
Chimpman wrote:Oh... very creepy. I'm getting shivers down my spine just reading it. See... I told you there would be more Azaghal ;)
As to the creepy, I very much had an Alien/Aliens thing going, the exploring the surface parts.
Lesser Nightwings. They make the Aliens look like frolicking puppies. :twisted:
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:06 am

Thorn's Chronicle continues... (with apologies to Doctor Seuss, there towards the end...)


The red-haired Glantrian took us to a large, square chamber. The walls and floor were scorched, and three of the heavily armored figures were slumped against the wall, their plating charred, burned completely through in places. The eye-slits of all three helms were dark.

I was guided down a short corridor, and pushed into a three-walled cell. The floor was of a smooth stone of some kind, as were the walls. The threshold was a square band of metal perhaps a hand-width across that ran up the walls, and across the ceiling.

Jolenta tossed a white smock in after me, and then gestured briefly at the empty fourth wall of the cell. A dim yellowish glow seeped from the edges of the metal strip.

“You’ll want to rest while you can. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day,” Golithar said. Then he and Jolenta left us.

A slab against one wall was made of the same smooth stone, perhaps a little longer than Varis’ height, raised to about knee-height. I suppose it served as both bench and bunk, as there were no other furnishings or features in the room. Not even one of the strange frosted-glass lights. The cold white light we got spilled in from a fixture in the ceiling of the main hallway outside.

I turned my back as the girl donned the smock. It was cut for an adult’s fit, and what should have hung perhaps to just past knee length on a woman fell nearly to the girl’s ankles. Her hands were lost in the long sleeves. After tearing the sleeves to a better length, I was able to fashion those strips into a sort of belt. The girl used it to gather up some of the extra material so it did not hang quite so loosely on her thin frame.

“It seems odd that they would simply leave us here, unguarded,” I said to her. I leaned close to the edge of the cell, to try to see a bit further up the corridor.

“Do not touch it!” the girl said, leaping up from her perch on the bench and pulling me off balance. “We’re in the detention wards, behind a sonic screen.”

She reached out, and the air along the edge of the metal strip seemed to solidify, suddenly glowing a bright white where her fingers pressed against it. A harsh, angry buzz, like dozens of hives of bees filled the air. The girl grimaced, and pushed harder, leaning into the the space where the wall would have been. Golden sparks began to spit and dance between the curtain of air and the edge of her bracer.

She drew her hand back with a sharp gasp, and the buzzing stopped, the wall of air fading to its regular clarity. The girl retreated to the bench, cradling her hand in her lap, the white stone in the bracer glowing brilliantly, the golden veinwork pulsing, giving the appearance of very bright candlelight.

“I didn’t need a demonstration,” I told her.

“I was testing it. The woman did something to the air between the layers of the screen.”

“How is it that you can understand me, without the speaking stone?” I did not want to tell her that her accent was terrible.

The girl thought it over for a moment, and then shrugged. “I just… know the words. I do not know how else to describe it.”

We sat in silence. The girl’s hand twitched in her lap, and after a while she was able to move her fingers, curling them,then touching them one at a time to her thumb, biting back hisses of pain as she did so. Soon, she was able to move her fingers without any signs of pain.

“How shall I call you?” I asked her. “I am—“

“You are called Thorn,” she said.

I nodded. Though she could have heard my companions calling my name.

“The raven-haired foreigner names herself Ana. The tall man is Varis, and the other man has some days left of being Gilliam.”

“Amazing,” I breathed.

She frowned. “Is it? All these memories crowding in my head. It is difficult sorting them all out. At the Well, you called out to me. You called me ‘Aurora.’ That is what you named she who came before?”

“Yes. Though—“

“Then call me that. It will help me to find her memories, here amidst the clutter.” She waved her fingers at her head in a dismissive gesture.

She looked exactly as Aurora had, when Gilliam had fished her from the Maiden’s Pool, save for her hair fanning out behind her as she sat on the stone bench. And her bracers. While the pattern of the weave and turn of the strands of golden metal were nearly identical, there were subtle differences along the top side of it, to accommodate two additional stones.

She caught my glance towards her wrists, and she shook the sleeves up, exposing the glittering, rough-cut dragonstones amidst the spirals and twists of golden metal. The clear stones still flickered, though their light was dim, very nearly extinguished.

“One stone, two stone,” she chanted, in a by-rote singsong, extending her pointing finger of each hand. “Red stone, black stone.” She touched each of the stones, the red on her left, black on her right, with the opposite finger. “Fire and shadow, sing me a song.

“Two stone, three stone,” she chanted, returning her hands to her lap and uncurling her middle fingers next to her still-pointing first-fingers. “Golden and white stone, candle and courage, ward me from harm.” Her two fingers rested on the middle stones of each bracer. As if playing along with her song, each gem gave a slow pulse of light that faded as she brought her hands back to her lap.

“Five stone, six stone, red, white, black stone, shrikes gone a-winging, last from the nest.”

Her first three fingers touched each of the gems, and each smoldered to light beneath her fingertips.

I stared, catching my breath.

She looked up at me. “What is it?”

“I know that rhythm, but the words are different. Changed over the— years.”

“Centuries. Millennia. You can say it,” the girl said, patting my hand. “Sing it for me.”

I cleared my throat.

She bit her lip. “Apologies. I did not remember in time of your injury.” She reached up, tracing a finger along the still-fresh scar that ran down the side of my neck, along my collarbone.

“One bird, two bird
Red bird, black bird
Cardinal and crow
Sing me a song.

Two bird, three bird
Golden and white bird
Heron and dove
Guide me home

Four bird, five bird
Red, white, black bird
Shrikes gone a-winging
Last from the nest.”


-------------------------------------------
Never was much good with poetry, so excuse my clumsy attempts.

And yes, this was a deliberate separating of the party, partially for expository purposes. Please chime in either here or in a PM if you have questions you'd like Thorn to bounce off Aurora, mk. II
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:26 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


Aurora shook her head. “Instructional mnemonics made into a child’s rhyme….” She sighed again. “No, three and three means I must flee.” She paused, then giggled. She barely smiled the entire time I’d known her. The titter was a bit unsettling.

She scooted back on the bench, leaning against the wall. She closed her eyes, drew her knees up towards her chin, clasping her arms around her legs. It was nearly the same position she’d been in while inside the glass and metal cylinder.

“You should get some sleep,” she told me. Golden light seeped from between her lashes. Flares of color curled amidst the veinwork deep within the stones, as flames would flicker up from banked embers in a campfire. “Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.”
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by Azaghal » Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:12 am

Don't sweat the poetry Rob, it works.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:36 am

Thorn's Chronicle continues...


Waning quarter moon of the Deep Snows (on or about Kaldmont 20, 997AC)


The sudden return of the glaring white light startled me awake. This, in turn, set the stiff muscles along my back, neck, and shoulder flaring with bolts of pain.

Aurora half sat up, stretching like a cat from where she’d slept, curled at the other end of the smooth stone slab.

“They are coming,” she said, rubbing sleep from her eyes. “Play along with me,” she whispered, and then curled back up in a ball, feigning sleep.

A wash of cold prickling against my skin announced the arrival of Golithar and his weaver even before they strode into view.

“Ah, so good to find you awake,” he said. “I trust you are well rested?”

“As well as can be expected,” I answered. Truth be told, it was the soundest sleep I’d had in the better part of the week. My mind was clear, and I felt the comforting presence of my magics — distant due to so much worked metal and stone, but still surging through me with each breath, each heartbeat.

“And the brat? The night’s rest has eased her need for whimpering and whining?”

Aurora sat blinking slowly, dragging her fingers through her hair. She looked between me, and the two figures on the other side of the sonic barrier, her features slack, eyes glittering, seemingly unfocused. When Golithar and Jolenta traded disgusted glances, Aurora winked at me.

“We have not mistreated you. We have allowed you a full night’s rest. We would be inclined to actually feed you, and will give you the chance to earn the right to break your night’s fast.” Golithar gave the silvery lead in his hand an absentminded twitch, and I shivered as Jolenta’s brow furrowed. The shiver passed, and the golden light faded from the edge of the metallic threshold.

“Straight ahead to the doors, then two lefts will take you to the mess hall,” Golithar said. “If you two can manage to make it that far without any tricks, we will allow you to eat. If you cannot, then Jolenta will have to restrain you. That will strain her, and she is not nearly as useful to me in that condition. I will be displeased.” He bent down, his eyes level with Aurora, who was sitting up, kicking her feet against the side of the slab, since they did not reach the floor. “Do you remember what I did when I was displeased?”

He lifted a finger, and Aurora’s left foot halted in midair.

“You will be a good girl, yes?”

She swallowed, glancing at her foot, to the man’s dark eyes, and then she averted her eyes, shoulders slumping.

I have to admit, she even had me fooled for a fraction of a second.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:25 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...

Breakfast consisted of a bowl of some brownish-gray mush that had the consistency of clotted oatmeal and none of its taste.

“Sort of makes you wish you’d tried to run, doesn’t it?” Golithar asked, when he saw our bowls were empty. I couldn’t disagree with him.

I followed Golithar, carrying Aurora, with Jolenta behind me, the full length of her lead strung out to my right. He led us from the mess hall to another of the falling rooms. I nearly dropped the girl in my surprise as I was pressed upon by a great, invisible hand. Breakfast did some uncomfortable flops in my stomach, and then the dizzying vertigo settled itself, the square doors sliding open to reveal another of the triangular rooms with the large window along the long wall.

I looked out upon the vast cloud-filled cavern, but from another angle, and closer to the cloud-bank. It seemed the sea of mists rolled and heaved just a few arm’s lengths below the floor of this room. The ghostly colored lights continued to meander up the nodes of the great column: red-gold, deep purple, pale yellow…

We made our way along another curving, glass-walled corridor. Far from being abandoned, as had those I’d explored above with my companions, these rooms were inhabited. Some of the faces I recognized from here and there around the city of Byxata. In the mess hall, I could count at least half a dozen gray-robed women in the brief glance I got as we passed the doorway. The further ‘round the corridor, the more lived-in it began to look: boxes, sacks, barrels lined the wall. Laughter came from one doorway we passed, and a group of men were busy at a card game of some kind.

Golithar led us down a side hallway, past two round-doored checkpoint rooms, and stopped before a short hall sporting three heavily-armored round doors. One bore fresh gouges along the seams, while another was scorched, seared, the surface slightly warped. The third door was unharmed. He gestured for me to set the girl down. As the floor was of the smooth stone, I did not hesitate. Small though she was, she seemed heavier than a girl her size should be, and my shoulders welcomed the relief.

“I know you have valuables stored behind these doors,” he said to her. “My men have tried might, and our weavers have tried their magic, to no avail. Now, please be so kind as to open these doors for us.”

When Aurora gave him a blank stare, he pointed towards the three doors. “Open them!” he shouted, miming an opening of doors with the palms of his hands.

She jumped, as his voice rang in the cramped confines of the room, but crossed her arms, shaking her head.

“Nieah,” she said, inclining her chin ever so slightly.

Golithar did not even bat an eye at the girl’s defiance. He seemed to be expecting it. He gave a slight tug on the silvery leash. “Jolenta, persuade her.”

Air hardened about me, clogging my throat, settling inside my chest like a lead weight.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:36 pm

Thorn's Chronicle continues...



Golithar leaned down, leveling his eyes with those of the girl. “If you do not open those doors, my pet will smother your friend. Slowly. I could have her shape the air into barbs, so that he tears himself to shreds as he breathes. Would you like that?

“I know these gems prevent lasting injury to you,” he said, pointing towards the clear, gold-veined stone in Aurora’s gauntlet. “He has no such baubles.”

My ears were beginning to ring, and tiny white lights were beginning to burst in the corners of my vision.

Aurora took a deep breath. “Astu,” she said, nodding. “Astu, tata’niamat.” She pointed towards me.

The air binding my lungs softened, and I sucked in deep breaths. I nodded when Aurora looked my way, one of her golden eyebrows arched.

“Saaja, Thorn,” she said, then turned back towards Golithar. “Aham’asmi nuunam ugra.”

“Yes, yes,” he said, waving towards the doors. “Now open them.”

I swallowed. She’d told me to ready myself. But for what?

“Katamaa?” she asked. She glanced from one door to the other, to the other.

Golithar’s brow furrowed. “Any of them! Stop stalling.”

The girl reached towards the round hexagonal keyhole beside the first door, the one bearing the scars from the slavers’ brute-force attempt to open the door.

“Aleva kujcikaa?”

“I think she asks where the key is.” I translated, as Golithar’s scowl deepened.

“Do you think we haven’t turned this place upside down looking for it? Use your magic to open it!”

Aurora shrugged, closing her eyes. The red gems on her gauntlets kindled to red-gold light. “Agni, Thorn.”

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, reaching inside for the spark of fire within me. As the temperature abruptly climbed and the white light seared through my eyelids, I dove into that spark, sheltering within it as Aurora unleashed her magic, just as Golithar had instructed.

The two weavers’ screams were lost in the dragon’s roar of flame.
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by Azaghal » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:56 pm

Crispy Weaver's! Isn't that a new kind of cracker? :lol:
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Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Post by RobJN » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:57 pm

Azaghal wrote:Crispy Weaver's! Isn't that a new kind of cracker? :lol:
They're baked, not fried :D
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