[Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:16 am

**XVIII**
“Oh, for pity’s sake!” Brynne said, rapping at the head of the giant ant she’d been distracting. “Get this thing away from me!”

The young man tore his eyes away from the streak of gray that disappeared amidst the forest of ant legs, and thumped the ant on the abdomen with the flat of his blade.

The thing kicked at him, but turned away from Brynne, giving her enough room to start spinning her staff. She thrust it forward, the length drumming along the ant’s antennae, and the creature reared back, scuttling backwards, nearly bowling Justin over.

In the corner of the room, Jasna and the giant rat harried the other ants, striking when the other would distract the beasts, slowly driving them back.

Katarin huddled in the doorway, Petra’s clothes bundled in her arms. Brynne called for her to save her magic for after the fight, when the girl had made to cast a weave into the fray.

Finally, Brynne and Justin managed to fight their way over to Jasna’s corner. A lucky stroke had severed one of the ants’ antennae, and the creature hobbled away, shaking its head and bumbling over the rotting wooden pews of the great room.

“They’re not giving up!” Jasna shouted, turning the jaws aside with a two-handed swing of her knife. She reversed her stroke, driving the blade, and her arms up to the elbows, into the thing’s eye. It gave a great shudder, and collapsed to the floor, legs scrabbling, weaker with every scratch.

“Of course not, they’re ants!” Brynne said. The ant was trying to shift the wood between its mandibles, but the girl kept it from getting any kind of grip on the staff by wrenching it this way and that.

“Twist it to your left!” Justin called, and Brynne hauled on her staff, turning the ant’s great head towards the young man.
He brought his sword up in a backhanded swing, lopping the antennae off the creature. It flailed its head left and right, throwing Brynne into the wall, sending her staff clattering across the floor.

Katarin screamed, and made to charge in to the room, but Brynne waved her off.

“No,” she gasped. “I’m-- fine. Look!”

The creature did not press its attack, instead stumbling in a circle, lashing blindly this way and that. Justin drew its attention away with a few jabs of his sword, and Katarin dashed through the opening, going to Brynne’s side.

“Don’t move! You might have broken something.”

“We’re going to have to move,” Justin said. “More are coming through a hole in the wall.”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:16 am

**XIX**
“Through here!” Justin said, shouldering open a door behind Jasna. He swung his sword in a broad arc, smacking at the waving antennae of the approaching ants, the only tactic that seemed to work in slowing their advance.

“Quickly!”

Katarin hauled Brynne to her feet, one of the girl’s arms over her shoulders, though Brynne struggled to walk on her own.

Jasna hesitated, her eyes darting this way and that as she scanned the room.

“What are you waiting for?” Justin asked.

“Where is Petra? We were fighting, and she was surrounded, and then--”

“Who cares about that ratling? Do you want to join her as ant-chow? Get through the door!”

Jasna ignored the young man. “Petra!”

An ant ducked under Justin’s swing, mandibles closing on Jasna’s cloak as she scurried backwards. They tussled, briefly, before Justin brought his sword down, shearing through the fabric. As Jasna stumbled backwards, he scooped her up, racing for the doorway. Ants crowded after him, jamming one against the other in the door’s frame.

“There are too many in the way to shut the door,” he said, waving at the hallway that opened around the corner. “Just… go that way!”

The hallway turned a corner, and broadened. Torches leapt to light as they stepped around the bend, the sizzle and sharp scent of burning dust and cobwebs filling the air. At the far end of the hall, a good stone’s throw away, they saw another engraved representation of Silva. Two more faced each other midway down the hall, and the thrumming hum sprang up as they drew near them. The two faces began to speak, meaning once again echoing in the girls’ minds as the carvings’ spoke their long-dead tongue.

“Soon you shall be on your way
As you begin so once did they
Immortals went to ancient Lavv
Show us what they taught Halav”


“What did they say?” Justin asked.

“Put me down!” Jasna landed a kick on the young man’s knee, and his leg buckled, sending him to his hands and knees. Jasna rolled free, and made it two steps back down the corridor before she stopped. Half a dozen ants were feeling their way around the bend in the hallway.

“Jasna, no!” Katarin hissed, grabbing the girl’s arm. “There’s no way we can fight all those!”

“What they taught Halav….” Brynne mused. “He was a warrior. But before that… He was a smith. They taught him to work bronze! Show them something bronze!”

“Don’t look at me,” Justin said. “All I’ve got is steel.”

Katarin and Jasna both shook their heads.

The corridor gave a shudder, and from above, there was a deep cracking sound. Several trickles of dust sifted down from the ceiling.

The carvings animated again, repeating the rhyme.

“We don’t have anything made of bronze.” Brynne said, as more dust showered down from above. “We know the answer, isn’t that enough?”

“I don’t think they listen,” Jasna shouted. “Run!”

The ceiling gave another groan, and the rain of dust became a trickle of loose stones. Cracks began to open between the stones lining the ceiling.

Katarin raised her hands, her fingers moving as if at a loom, or playing at the children’s string game, ryadkyiv.

The two other girls and Justin all screamed, but the stones glanced off the air above Katarin’s head, tumbling into the hallway behind them. The dust billowed, but stopped short, climbing and curling along an invisible wall.

Katarin paled, sweat beading across her forehead, and she groaned through gritted teeth.

“Go, go go!” Brynne called, regaining her senses, and pushing at the young man and Jasna, urging them further up the corridor.

The stones piling in the air over Katarin’s head began to shift, tipping over some invisible edge, less than an arm’s length from where the girl stood.

Brynne hooked an arm through Katarin’s and hauled, leaping and pulling the girl with her. The invisible support gone, the stones crashed into the hallway, and the cloud of rock dust rolled over them, sending them into fits of coughing and choking.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:08 am

**XX**
Jasna tried to draw another breath, the effort ending in more dry coughing as she got another lungful of powdered rock and dust. She blinked. The torches had gone out, as had Justin’s lantern, but the hallway was lit with a fitful reddish light. She blinked again, at a fiery burning in the corner of one of her eyes. She rubbed at it, and her hand came away stained red.

“It was clever of you to use the rockfall trap to crush the ants.”

The familiar voice echoed in Jasna’s thoughts. A single voice, not the odd echo of twin carvings. A warmer sound, as if spoken from flesh, rather than stone.

“Silva?” The girl looked to her left, and right, but only saw the shapes of stone, looming through the red-tinged clouds of dust. Two more points of brighter red light were barely enough to illuminate the features of the other two girls: Brynne was curled over Katarin, the girl’s head cradled protectively in her arms. If not for the streaks of blood, Jasna would have thought the two asleep.

“I suppose you could say they are,” Silva’s voice said. It sounded as if she stood in the space between the three girls, yet there was nothing there but rocks. And Justin. Jasna supposed that amounted to the same thing, as well, and Silva’s short laugh did not ripple through her mind, needing no translation.

“They’re not..?”

“They live. And are in considerably better condition than you. As is the Son of Karameikos.”

“Petra!”

“Be at ease, Little Sister.”

“I’m not little!”

“Be at ease.” Silva’s voice came a little firmer.

Jasna blinked. The two points of red light blurred, and the shadows doubled. She rubbed at her eyes.

“Why can’t I see you?”

“Four dragonstones must be aligned to manifest a holoprojection.”

“A hollow what?”

“An… illusion.”

Jasna swallowed at the sudden lump in her throat. “We would have had the fourth if Lord Stableboy hadn’t--”

“The Daughter of Chaos yet lives.”

“She is not--”

“She is,” came Silva’s voice. “It is through no fault of her own. She knows what she will become, as do you. She has accepted it. But that does not mean she has given in to it.”

“Is she hurt?”

“If she was, what could you do? Your own injuries are not slight. No-- do not try to sit up. The bones will shift, and the Thief of Essences will not be able to repair the damage you would do.”

Jasna suddenly realized that beyond a few pricklings, she could not feel her feet. Her legs.

“No,” Silva’s voice came firmer. “You mustn’t move.”

“What am I going to do?” Jasna asked. Her eyes burned again, but it had nothing to do with the thin trickle of blood. “I got them into this, and now I can’t get them out.”

“Patience, Little Sister. I am with you. You are not alone. Never alone, even unto the end of all things, that was our promise, remember? In Gygar’s ruins?”

“Aurora says you cannot make promises -- that you can take no vows, speak no oaths…” Jasna’s thoughts were beginning to wander, the shadows were growing darker. Were they moving?

“The Progeny are foresworn, this is true.”

Jasna sucked in a sudden breath. “Then… you aren't--” The coughing cut her off, and stars were bursting in her vision, blooming white, then withering to deeper darkness.

“Hush, now, Little Sister. Let me sing to you, while we wait for the others to awaken.”
Last edited by RobJN on Thu May 10, 2012 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:53 am

**XXI**
Katarin’s healing was like taking a dip in Lake Windrush, and being stuck in Ian’s forge in the Garrison quarter at the same time. Jasna’s every muscle stiffened, as the threads of the healing weave did their work, and Justin had his hands full trying to keep the girl’s head and shoulders from moving.

It was no less trying on the weaver, her hands shaking more with every passing moment, color steadily draining from her lips. She shook off Brynne’s insistence that she stop, or rest.

“These are more than just some scratches and a sprain,” Katarin said. “Wounds such as these cannot go untreated or they will grow worse.”

“You’re at your limit,” Brynne said. “Don’t think I haven’t learned what to look for. You aren’t the only one your Magia is teaching, you know. You must stop!”

“Just… another moment, while the bones fuse,” Katarin murmured. She blinked sweat and grit from her eyes.

Jasna’s body went limp, and Katarin sat back, gulping in air, shivering. She winced as she rubbed at her temples.

“She is fine, now,” Katarin told the young man. “She needs to rest for a little while.”

“You need to rest,” Brynne said.

Katarin turned towards her friend, reaching out to lay a hand on the other girl’s cheek. Brynne snatched her wrist.

“I just need to check once more--”

“No,” Brynne said. “No more checking. We’re fine. We’ll all rest and then carry on. No more weaving.”

“But you’re still bleeding.”

“It’s just a scratch. It’s not worth tipping the balance any further.”

“I won’t--”

“When you think you can push just a little further, that is when you need to stop,” Brynne said, repeating Magia Saoirse’s lesson. “The Sphere retakes its balance from the weaver. What balances healing?”

“I just want to make sure you’re safe,” Katarin pouted.

“And I want the same for you,” Brynne said, resting her forehead against Katarin’s. “Don’t think I won’t clonk you on the head to get you to rest.”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:04 pm

I haven't forgotten about the Handmaidens, but am having some trouble starting the next section. :-\ Ah well... It's not like I don't have enough on my plate :geek:
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:45 am

**XXII**
“She was here. Well… not… here, but…” Jasna scratched her head. The pain there was mostly gone. Had she dreamt it?

To her other side, Justin twirled a finger at his temple, and Brynne did her best not to laugh. Katarin merely scowled.

“Do you hear Silva now?” Katarin asked. She bent down, taking Jasna’s chin in one hand. She held up three fingers in front of the girl. “How many fingers do you see?

“You’re going to see five of mine up close if you don’t let go of me. I’m fine!”

The flame sputtered in the lantern, throwing their shadows along the walls and Justin gave it another shake.

“I can’t believe that thing still works,” Brynne said.

“Must be made of the same stuff as the little one’s head,” Justin muttered.

“I heard that!”

Justin raised the lantern. The corridor had gone dark, the torches blown out in the surge of air when the ceiling collapsed behind them. It continued another five or so paces to a split, corridors leading off to the left and right. The light also revealed another carved face. The young man groaned.

“Pits, falling rocks. What’s next? Perhaps a nice swinging blade?” Justin asked.

“Shush, she’s going to speak,” Brynne said. The air about them began to hum as they approached. The statue’s carved eyes appeared to open, and glanced at each of them as its lips of stone moved:

“When humans were a younger race
dire perils did they face
Imagine setting out from Lavv
and slay the foes of King Halav”


Brynne translated the rhyme for Justin.

“That’s easy,” he said. He raised his arm, and swung it, as if wielding a sword.

“It can’t be that easy.” Jasna made a slashing motion of her own. Brynne and Katarin did as well.

They all tensed, waiting, but the carving did not speak again.

“Will it be left or right?” Brynne asked.

Jasna fished a kopec from her belt pouch, spinning it in the air. She caught it, clapped one hand to the back of the other.

“Words, we go left, wolf we go right,” the girl said.

“You’re going to trust our fate to the toss of a coin?” Justin asked.

“And how would you select which way we go?” Katarin asked him. “‘Catch a dragon by the toe?’”

“Well-- I--”

“Wolf it is,” Jasna said, showing the great wolf stamped on the face of the coin.

They rounded the bend in the corridor, and the humming started even before Justin had crowded around behind the girls.

“Vanya’s garters, is there no corner free of her?”

The carving of Silva animated, and spoke yet another rhyme, the words unraveling in the girls’ minds in the Traladaran language:

“The Huntsman was a hero true
Like Halav, one of the treasured few.
And now we are all in his debt.
Show me one of Zirchev’s pets”


“Pets?” Brynne frowned. “He didn’t keep pets.”

“Horses,” Katarin said. “He showed Men how to use them for riding.”

“But that’s not--”

“And he was always followed by wolves,” Jasna said. She dug in her belt pouch again, waving the kopec in front of the carving. “This is close enough, isn’t it?”

Again, there was no reply, and no ominous rumblings or creaking.

Brynne frowned at the carving as they passed it. “They weren’t pets,” she muttered.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:12 pm

The corridor split again, to the left and right, another speaking carving adorning the wall between the two halls. Justin sighed as the air began to thrum, tapping his foot as the voice spoke, the words a spidery tumble in his head. Silva’s gifts translated the verse:

“King Halav fought against mighty foes
And through his wisdom mankind grows
Before the greatness of this king
Kneel, and to his glory, sing.”


They went to their knees, and Justin followed quickly.

“Which verse?” Katarin asked.

“‘To his glory sing,’” Brynne repeated. “The Verse of Ascension? The Verse of Battle?”

“What could be more glorious than his battle with the Beast Man king?” Justin asked. “Sing that one.”

“The Calling,” Jasna said. “Halav did not have to take up sword and shield. He chose to.”

“That is noble, not glorious,” Justin sniffed. “Death in battle. That is glorious.”

“That is stupid,” Jasna said. “Halav died, and everything he worked for fell apart.”

“Jasna!” Katarin gasped. “You can’t speak of an Immortal like that.”

“I can speak of an Immortal any way I like. It’s not like any of them listen, anyway.”

“Of course they do!” Brynne said. “Why do you think we bother praying?”

“‘Immortals lend no aid to he who will not act,’” Jasna said.

“And nobody likes helping himself more than a disciple of Koritiku,” Justin murmured.

Jasna rose to her feet, settling back into a fighting stance when the wall gave a shudder. There came a light cracking noise, and half a dozen long blades leapt from the gap that opened between a seam between the stones at shoulder-height to a grown man.

Three of the blades swept the space above Justin and the girls, and three more scythed less than a hand’s breadth from the top of Jasna’s head.

“See what happens when you displease Halav?” Brynne asked.

“See what happens when the Immortals don’t grant my wish to be made taller?” Jasna shot back.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:03 am

At Jasna’s insistence, they again took the righthand corridor, she leading the way as the others huddled beneath the still-scything blades. A tapestry hung from the wall past the sweep of the blade trap, depicting a dark haired woman bent over a potter’s wheel, and again at work at a loom. Another carving of Silva adorned the wall facing the group, and the corridor turned back on itself, another tapestry lining that wall, depicting the same dark-haired woman working at a mortar and pestle, as well as drawing a bow.

“This is--” Katarin began, but the corridor’s thrumming stopped her as she listened to the carving speak:

“Mighty she was in her day
Evil foes she held at bay
To pass this way you must be keen
Where was lovely Petra queen?”


“It’s like she’s not even trying any more,” Jasna complained.

“Krakatos,” Brynne said to the carving.

They waited, but there was no crackling from the stone. In fact, as they answered, the grinding of metal on stone of the trap behind them stopped.

“Can we go now?” Justin asked.

“Shh!” Jasna said. “Do you hear that?”

“Is Silva speaking to you again?” Katarin asked.

Jasna gave the taller girl a dark look. “No! Listen! It’s…” She’d thought it merely the ringing of the silence in the wake of the blades’ quieting. But it was the wrong pitch, higher, tinkling, rather than grinding.

“Is that… water?” Brynne frowned, closing her eyes and cupping a hand behind one of her ears, turning this way and that. “It’s coming from behind the tapestry.”

“Be careful, it is very old!” Katarin said, as Justin drew back one edge of the time-faded cloth, revealing a recessed wooden door.

He tried the latch, but like the other doors, it had swollen in its frame, and the young man bounced off the door twice before it finally gave way, sending him tumbling into a short hallway ending in another door.

Jasna had her knife out, Katarin’s fingers spread and ready to weave. At Brynne’s nod, the young man tried the other door. It took both him and Brynne to force it open, the two of them skittering into a long room. Had they been moving any faster, they would have careened into the pool in the middle of the chamber. Righting each other, their shadows shrinking along the wall as Katarin approached with the lantern, Justin drew his sword as the light revealed a shadowed figure huddling in the corner.

At the approach of the light, the figure stirred, and the young lord moved slightly ahead of Brynne, raising his sword.

“Stay back,” he warned. “It could be-- hey!”

There was a flash of gold and pale skin and then everything went dark. The girls screamed.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:45 pm

“I can’t see!” Justin cried. He dared not let go of his sword to clear his vision.

“That’s the idea,” Brynne said, her voice at his shoulder. She tightened her hands over his eyes.

“But--”

“Just wait.”

He listened. The others were not screaming. Just the steady dripping of water into the long pool and Katarin and Jasna’s voices tumbling one over the other. No sounds of battle. The rustling of cloth could be heard between breaks in the quick, quiet conversation going on in the corner of the room.

“You left my hose.” It was Petra’s voice, at a sulk.

“It was dark,” Katarin said.

“You can go fetch them if you like,” Jasna whispered. That was met with silence, and another rustling of thicker cloth.

“No, the other one.”

“Oh, just hurry and put it on!” Katarin hissed.

“I never put that one on first,” Petra insisted. “It’s bad luck. Give me the other.”

A sigh. More rustling. Finally, Brynne’s hands fell away from the young lord’s eyes.

He blinked, watching Petra come into focus as she worked the clasp of her cloak, pulling her curls from beneath it, tapping the toes of one boot and then the other on the stone floor to settle her feet.

“Hullo, Petra,” Brynne said, from her place behind the young lord. “Feeling all right?”

The younger girl nodded.

“You survived,” Justin said.

Petra nodded again, slowly. She adjusted the satchel slung back across one shoulder. “I suppose you’ll be telling the Baron when we get back,” she said.

“He does not already know?”

“He’s a Thyatian,” Petra said. “Everybody knows how Thyatians feel about us. They’re almost as bad as Alphatians.” She shivered.

“‘Us?’” Justin repeated. He swallowed. “Ratfolk.”

The word hung in the room between them, punctuated by the steady drip of water from the ceiling.

“If you were to go to the Baron,” the young lord said, carefully, “he may be able to cure you.”

Petra stared at her shoes.

Justin glanced around the room at the other girls. His grip tightened on his sword.

“It’s natural,” he said. “You’re not afflicted.”

“I don’t know,” the younger girl murmured. “I don’t remember ever not being like this.”

“But, your parents--”

“Are dead,” Petra finished. “My real parents, that is. Drowned, washed away down the Waterolde. My ma and da found me, after their baby went away to Petra. So they named me after her. ‘Petra’s Gift.’” She hitched a laugh, or maybe it was a sob.

“I’m sorry,” the young lord said.

“No you’re not,” the girl said, her voice tight. “I’m not. I don’t even remember them. I don’t know them, what they were.”

“But… if the Baron knew, he could--”

“He could what?” Petra asked, stamping her foot. “Work his miracle? Cleanse my blood of this curse?

“And what happens if it doesn’t work?” Katarin asked, softly.

“Then that means she’s a--” The young lord did not voice the end of his thought.

“Harder to think about when she’s standing right in front of you, isn’t it?” Brynne asked.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:55 am

“You’ve all kept this from the Baron? She could be--”

“She’s our friend!” Jasna spat. “It doesn’t matter what she ‘could be.’”

Justin glanced down at his hand. “Ixion’s fire, she bit me!” His grip tightened on the hilt, as he looked up at the girl.

Brynne’s hand closed over his wrist. Jasna stepped in front of Petra, her own hand resting on the hilt of the silvery blade at her hip.

“How can you defend a--”

“A friend?” Jasna’s fingers closed over the blade.

“Stop this, all of you,” Katarin said.

“He started it!”

“Take your hands off your weapons,” Katarin ordered. “We are not orcs, this will not be settled with blood.”

“You would prefer using your witchery?” Justin asked.

“I can hit him pretty good from here,” Brynne said.

Katarin sighed. “I couldn’t weave if I wanted to. What little power I have left to me I must conserve. I will not spend it mending wounds either of you inflict on each other.”

Jasna and Justin stared at each other a moment longer, then the girl’s fingers slowly uncurled from around the hilt of her knife. Justin’s fingers did the same from his sword hilt.

“We will not survive this dungeon if we don’t all work together,” Katarin said. “Agreed?”

Heads nodded.

“So, here is what we will do. We will table this… discussion… until we make our way back to the shores of the lake. We will carry on until we find… whatever the artifact is that is hidden here.”

“It’s supposed to be Halav’s shield or sword,” Petra said.

“There will be no hostilities between us,” Katarin said, glancing at each of her friends. “Are we so agreed? I do swear this upon my medallion, may Petra take her vengeance upon me if I do so break this oath.”

“I do so swear,” Brynne said, her hand not moving from the young lord’s wrist.

“As do I,” Jasna said, fishing her own medallion out from beneath her tunic.

“As do I,” Petra said, her own hand clenched around her medallion. She itched at her palm as she released the silver disk, deepening the red mark left on her skin by the contact with the metal.

“Look at that,” Justin said. “How can you… How can I trust her?”

“My hands do the same when I touch itchweed,” Katarin said. “It’s a reaction to the metal, not the oath itself. Do we have your word that you will keep truce against Petra?”

Justin sighed. “You do.” He stood up straighter, holding a hand over his heart. “I do swear it upon my honor.”

“How do we know we can trust you?” Jasna asked.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:52 am

“The corridor is that way,” Justin said, pointing towards the doorway through which they’d stumbled.

Petra looked up from where she squatted on the floor, two pieces of paper laid next to each other. Rather than words, each had inked lines and symbols on them, a crude layout of the temple. She looked from one to the other, and again at the wall, opposite the corner where she’d been huddled.

“It should be here, somewhere,” she said.

“No, it’s there,” the young lord said, pointing again.

“Not that.” She waved her hand dismissively, then poked at the two maps. “This. Here. Look, we’re here. See this? This is the chapel, with all the ants in it. And here is the Corridor of Knowledge.” She traced her finger down a long corridor, crossed by two long breaks.

“That must be where the ceiling fell in,” Brynne said, pointing at the top of the long hallway.

Petra looked up. “The ceiling?”

“It sort of… fell on us,” Jasna said.

“Fell on you,” Katarin said.

“Well, if you hadn’t dropped it--”

“And they worry about us going at each other?” Justin asked the youngest girl.

Petra snickered. “Why didn’t you show her the little bronze shield in my satchel? I picked it up from the library. It’s the first of the eight tests.”

“Tests?” Brynne asked.

“It’s called the ‘Corridor of Knowledge’ for a reason,” Petra said. “I marked the pieces of parchment that had the description. Didn’t you read it?”

Brynne and Katarin looked at each other, and then to Jasna. She blushed. “There were… too many big words!”

“So.. if this hallway continues, and there are eight tests,” Justin said, “that leaves three we’ve yet to face?”

“His knowledge of numerics is better than his Traladaran history,” Brynne said.

“How did you know we would need bronze to pass the first test?” Katarin asked.

“It was written in the pages I gave to Jasna.”

“So you know what the final three tests will be,” Justin said. “Why are we sitting here?”

“Because… I don’t know what the last three will be. The pages we found only listed the first four. The fifth was there, but I couldn’t read it, since it was all faded from soaking in beer.”

Brynne crossed her arms. “I’m not apologizing. That move got you away from those cut-throats.”

Katarin cleared her throat. “What are we looking for, if not the answers to the final tests?”

“There are two rooms after the Corridor of Knowledge,” Petra said, pointing to the two large boxes at the bottom of the maps. “Look how where we are lines up with the Guardian Chamber.”

“They’re next to each other. So…?”

“So, if I were a priest, I’d want to take the shortest route possible from chapel to shrine.”

“As if a ratling could take the vows,” Justin muttered.

“Only in the Church of Karameikos,” Petra said.

“I will thump both of you,” Brynne warned.

“So…” Petra repeated, “I think they hid a door between this room and this one.” She tapped the line between the two chambers on the map.

“If the pattern of the tests continues, it looks as if we would skip two of them,” Katarin said, regarding the maps.

Jasna was already on her feet, running her fingers over the mortar between the stones of the wall. “What?” she asked. “I’m not taking any test I don’t have to!”
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:47 pm

It took nearly half an hour of poking, prodding, and pushing at the stones before Petra found the loose block just above her eye level. It wiggled, and then grated back into the surface of the wall, a section of which shuddered and gave a sharp ‘crack!’ Brynne nearly landed on the floor as the section of wall she was leaning on fell away, the doorway pivoting around a central balance.

She stumbled into the chamber, bumping against one of the statues standing close to that wall. Justin came through with his lantern, followed by the rest of the girls, the light revealing a chamber as wide as the other was long, the walls behind and before them lined with three statues apiece.

All six were carved of ivory, rather than the grayish-black granite of the rest of the temple, identical in their depiction of a girl a little taller than Katarin with flowing hair held back with a circlet. Lantern light glinted off silvery workings of metal around the wrists and lower arms of the statues along the wall with the secret door in it, while those opposite sported identical traceries of gold. Those with the golden bands clutched long-bladed swords, the tips resting between carved bare feet.

“Silva and Aurora?” Katarin asked.

Jasna squinted up at the statue along the far wall, rubbing at her head. “Does anyone else hear that?”

“Hear what? I don’t hear anything,” Justin said.

Katarin cocked her head, her brow furrowing as she concentrated. She stepped closer to one of the silver-adorned statues. “I can’t quite…” she murmured. She reached out, placing her hand on the statue’s shoulder, and her eyes widened even as she flinched away.

“It’s warm!” she gasped.

“But did you hear it?” Jasna pressed. “The words are all a jumble in my head.”

“Who cares about the statues?” Justin asked. “Look, there’s the final test.” He started towards the dressed stone archway along the room’s righthand wall.
“Wait!” Brynne called. She, too, had her hand on one of the statues, her dragonstone pendant clutched in her other hand. “It’s... Old Traladaran.” She paused, listening again. “Justin, don’t--”

Too late, the carving above the archway animated, but this time, the expression was neither serene, nor placid. The brows came together, the eyes below them gleaming with a dim, reddish light.

“He who has not passed the Tests of Faith shall go no further!”

Jasna gave a sharp cry, clutching her head. The dragonstone pendant at her neck shone a brilliant orange, the golden veins blazing at full brightness through the red gem. She staggered back, as the gold-adorned statues each gave a shiver, stone flaking from the swords as they swung up to the statues’ shoulders, eyes aglow with a dull greenish light.



All of the girls’ pendants had taken to light, and they all stumbled back and away from the statues, as all six flowed to life. The eyes had opened on the statues, revealing brilliant green gemstones as the eyes of the gold-adorned statues, while those of the silver shone with gold-flecked blue deeper than sapphires.

But the statues were not interested in any of the girls -- they strode past them with eerily silent strides, fanning out in a semicircle to block the doorway to the shrine. Their shining eyes all rested on the young Karameikan, who stared back at the statues with wide eyes.

“What-- what sort of sorcery brings stone to life?” he sputtered.

“The same kind that makes it speak?” Katarin asked.

“Well-- speaking is one thing,” Justin managed. “But this? How are we supposed to get past them?”

“I don’t think we are,” Brynne said.

Justin took a step forward, and the emerald-eyed statues shifted their stance, the blades swinging into a high guard, tips leveled at the young man’s chest.
“He who has not passed the Tests of Faith shall go no further!” the carving above the doorway said, again.

“All right, we get it already!” Jasna groaned. She blinked, trying to clear her vision. It felt as if a white-hot lance had been lodged in her head. The quiet burr and hum of conversation kept flickering at the edge of her hearing.

“You are nearly as pale as those statues!” Katarin said, going to the smaller girl’s side. Her hands were firm on the girl’s shoulders. “No, do not straighten up. Sit.”

Jasna blinked at the other girl. The voices rose and fell, rose and fell. She glanced down, at the blurry redness at the other girl’s throat. Her pendant had slipped from beneath the neckline of her dress, and swung back and forth.

“That’s it!” Jasna gasped.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:34 pm

“Justin, come away, unless you want to be spitted three ways from Soldain,” Brynne said.

He took a reluctant step back. The statues relaxed their guard, but did not stop watching him.

“Well, now we see what sidestepping the tests has cost us,” Justin said, crossing his arms as he stared down at Jasna.

“Brynne, Petra, come here,” the girl said, ignoring the young lord. “I want to try something.”

The four stones brightened as they grew closer, and Jasna was forced to squint.

“Silva!” Jasna called, and they all waited, holding their breath.

Nothing happened.

“Blood!” Petra said. “Red stones require blood to function.” She fumbled in her satchel, producing a long needle from a leather bundle. The girl pricked her finger, and touched the bead of blood to the stone about her neck. The glow flickered once, then brightened, taking on a warmer tone. Jasna did the same with her silvery knife, and the other two girls pricked their fingers on the blade as well.

There was a subtle shifting of the red-tinged shadows along the wall, as the swaying of the stones ebbed ever so slightly until the stones all swung in perfect union.

“Silva?” Jasna asked.

The light between the four girls thickened, as did the shadows, swirling and twisting until they formed the faintest of outlines. Lord Justin gasped, glancing over his shoulder at the face carved above the doorway, at the three sapphire-eyed ivory statues.

“Ah, so my Little Sisters have been reunited. For this, I am glad.”

Justin’s expression fell back into a scowl. “Still can’t speak a proper word of Thyatian,” he grumbled.

The hazy image’s shoulders wavered. “You may tell His Lordship that I know his words, even if I cannot make them. And I work with friend Thorn to correct this.”

“I know she’s talking about me,” the young lord said.

“She thinks you are handsome,” Jasna said.

Justin blinked.

“Aw, he’s blushing!” Brynne teased.

“I-- no, it’s the light!” he stammered. “All… red and--”

“Little Sisters, what is it you wish of me?”

“We’re sort of… trapped,” Petra said. “We sort of… skipped a few tests and now we can’t get through to the Sanctuary.”

The image blurred, and when it came back together, the face that peered back at the girls was similar, the hair noticeably longer.

“Hullo, Aurora,” Brynne said.

“What are you doing in Perrantin’s Tomb?”

“Just… sort of… looking around,” Petra said.

“Well, stop. That place is laced with deadly traps. Leave there, immediately, and do not go back. There is nothing you could possibly want there.”

“We want answers,” Petra said. “Men were set on killing each other to gain the information that led us here.”

“And we all know how sensible men are, don’t we?” Aurora asked.

“I heard that!” Justin said.

“You must leave that place,” Aurora insisted.

“I think it’s a bit too late for that,” Jasna said. “We’re stuck here.”

Silva’s face appeared, in profile, as she whispered something in her twin’s ear. Aurora’s eyes widened, and then she sighed.

“Do you know how long it took to balance the stones above that corridor just so?”

“A lot longer than it took for them to fall?” Jasna guessed.



“There is another doorway concealed behind Zirchev’s second test,” Aurora said. “It will take you to the priests’ living quarters. You can make your way back to the entrance from there.”

“But what of Halav’s sword and shield?” Justin asked. “We came all this way. We don’t want to take them, just look.”

“Absolutely not,” the shrike’s image said. “By not passing the tests, you have no doubt activated the Guardians. They will not allow you to pass. Turn around, go back to the Baron’s town, and do not return to that place.”

“They’re just statues,” Justin said. “How difficult can they be to get past? I bet a few good whacks will snap those stone swords in two.”

“They are relics not so easily defeated by muscle and steel.”

“So there is a way to defeat them?” Petra asked.

Aurora’s features blurred momentarily, sharpening again into another frown. “Yes,” she admitted. “But you do not possess the means to do so. They are not as my sister and I. You can not reason with them. They will not stop until the threat before them is eliminated, one way or another. Turn around. Go back. Do not under any circumstances provoke them. They do not know mercy. They will not accept a yield. They will kill you. Do you--”

The grating ring of steel on stone cut off the shrike’s warning.

“Oh, Hells,” Brynne groaned.

“Voketh’s teeth!” Aurora swore. “Save the boy if you can, but you must leave that room! There is no more time for talk.” The hazy reddish image vanished, the light from the girls’ dragonstones dimming to a faint glimmer of red and gold.

Justin barely ducked under one of the statue’s swords, catching another on his own blade, sending it skirling down the length in a shower of sparks.

“Well, at least I won’t need to worry about dulling it!” he called.

“Idiot!” Jasna shouted. “We have to get out of here, Stableboy!”

“I just wanted--” Justin danced back, a stone sword barely missing his belly, “-- to see the shield!” He braced his sword in both hands, wrenching another stone blade’s swing off to one side.

“Still think they’re ‘just statues?’” Petra said, suddenly beside the young man, deflecting another statue’s attack with both batons, gritting her teeth against the jarring impact.

“On your right!” Brynne called.

Too late, Justin turned for the block.

Jasna hit the boy just behind the knees, sending him to the floor. Swords whistled over his head.

One of the statues lifted its arm for another attack, but Petra caught the downswing with a swing of her own, the combined momentum nearly turning the statue completely around.

“Quickly, before they can surround us!” she called, and Jasna hauled at the straps of Justin’s pack.

He skittered back, like some mail-clad crab, just as the swords crashed to the floor, leaving deep grooves where he’d been moments before.

Petra gave a yelp, dancing away a fraction of a breath too late, red blooming from a gash in her sleeve.

Justin’s sword spat sparks as he deflected another attack, and the stone blade slashed across his thigh rather than his chest.

“Katarin!” Jasna called. “Can’t you do something? Hold them with air!”

“They are too many for that. Too strong!”

The small girl groaned as Justin collapsed against her, his leg unable to hold his weight.

“Leave the pack!” she wheezed, letting him stagger back as a statue’s sword whispered through the air just before the boy’s nose.

Brynne was not so lucky, flinching aside, clutching at her forehead. Blood gleamed between her fingers.

“Brynne!” Katarin shouted. She glanced about, helpless, then clenched her fist around the stone at her neck.

“We wish to retreat!” she called, to the statues, to the carving in the doorway behind them. “Why won’t you let us go?”

A spinning baton clipped the statue’s sword as it attacked Brynne again, and the tip grazed the girl’s shoulder rather than opening her throat.

“You will let us go!” Katarin shouted. Red-gold flames wreathed the girl’s hand, and she stabbed a finger towards the statue attacking Brynne. A bolt of golden flame burst from her fingertip, followed by a surge of red flames rushing along the path traced in gold.

It struck the statue full in the face, stone blistering and flying away in molten red-orange gobbets. The golden light pierced one of the emeraldine eyes, scattering as it entered the gemstone.

The stone, and the rest of the statue exploded with a thunderous roar, but rather than fading, the sound climbed in pitch, until it became a shrill whistling.

The girls huddled, hair and cloaks flapping first one direction with the blast, and then another as the explosion seemed to rush in upon itself amidst the howling wail of the wind. Their screams were torn to shreds in the whirling maelstrom of wind and stone and fire that filled the room.

There was a moment of intense brilliance, a flash of eldritch emerald amidst the flame and chaos, and then the world went dark and silent.

* * * * *
The Quest continues here...
Rob
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby Chimpman » Thu May 10, 2012 6:26 pm

Yes... I'm still way behind...
“Aurora says you cannot make promises -- that you can take no vows, speak no oaths…” Jasna’s thoughts were beginning to wander, the shadows were growing darker. Were they moving?

“The Progeny are foresworn, this is true.”

Blargh!!! :o I honestly did not see this one coming... but I love the twist! So this would make "Silva" an original - one of the two twins of Andahar (unless I'm misreading something)! I am assuming that the term "The Progeny" is referring to the progeny of the twins, and not to the progeny of Uther himself (which I suppose it could also be). Anyway, there are all kinds of implications and questions racing through my head, but I want to try and get through more reading before I go too far down a single path.
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Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff]: First Quest

Postby RobJN » Thu May 10, 2012 6:29 pm

Chimpman wrote:Yes... I'm still way behind...
“Aurora says you cannot make promises -- that you can take no vows, speak no oaths…” Jasna’s thoughts were beginning to wander, the shadows were growing darker. Were they moving?

“The Progeny are foresworn, this is true.”

Blargh!!! :o I honestly did not see this one coming... but I love the twist! So this would make "Silva" an original - one of the two twins of Andahar (unless I'm misreading something)! I am assuming that the term "The Progeny" is referring to the progeny of the twins, and not to the progeny of Uther himself (which I suppose it could also be). Anyway, there are all kinds of implications and questions racing through my head, but I want to try and get through more reading before I go too far down a single path.

Masks of the Dreaming Night opens (more or less) with a revelation from Aurora. :mrgreen:
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