[Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Weird red metals, dominions, immortals, hollow planets, invisible moons, and a lot of glorified magic zeppelins. It's all here.
The Book-House: Find Mystara products, Find Known World products.

Moderators: Gawain_VIII, Havard, Seer of Yhog, Cthulhudrew

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:32 pm

The Queen of Krakatos sat back, staring for a long while into the small, sputtering camp fire. She glanced over to Zirchev, who puffed away at a small, thin pipe.

“If this is another of your tricks…”

The Huntsman sat up straighter. “I assure you, Your Majesty—“

“And stop calling me that!”

“We’re not lying,” Katarin insisted, from her seat across the fire.

“I already told them that!” Jasna whispered, rather loudly.

“Somehow, it sounds more convincing coming from Kat,” Brynne said.

“It sounds like a story told ‘round a camp’s fire,” the queen said. “The boy could have easily lifted the armor and weaponry from Kurtar or his men.”

“Dwarves,” Zirchev corrected, causing the queen to glower at him again.

“That sword is not of the sons of Denwarf,” the shrike said. “They tend to overbalance the weaponry they make for Men. It is the work of human hands.”

“There? You see?” Jasna asked. “Goldy wouldn’t lie!”

“Impossible,” the queen sniffed. “If any man were capable of making swords to best Halav’s bronze, I would know of him, because he would be working day and night in my fortress.”

“There isn’t,” Brynne said. “Not yet. That’s what we’ve been telling you. We have come from the future, a future you and Halav and Zirchev secured.”

Petra barked a laugh. “Look around you, little girl. Werewolves and worse prowl the forests, Beast Men pour down from the mountains, their numbers increasing with each dawn. We have no intention of meeting them on the field. These settlements are lost. We will take the survivors south, and they will be put to work fortifying the city.”

“Um, yeah… about that?” Petra the Younger peered from around the shrike’s elbow. “They didn’t look very excited about being ‘rescued.’”

“Another few weeks, and the wall around Thres— Lugsid will be finished,” Brynne said. She paused, and then her eyes widened. “Oh,” she said, in sudden realization.

“Don’t you dare narrow your eyes at me, girl!” the queen said.

“They weren’t defending themselves from the Beast Men,” Brynne said. “They were defending against you!”

The queen rose to her feet. “We are at war! I will do what is needed to defend my people, and what I need now are walls of stone around Krakatos, not wood.”

The shrike stood, too, but Brynne was faster in getting to her feet.

“So you thought you’d just… come and take the people of Lugsid?”

“If I did not, then Halav would have. They have no chief, their lands are about to be overrun. They do not have weeks to finish their wall. But they can finish mine. I do them a mercy, taking them away from here.”

Brynne’s hand closed into a fist, but it did not move from her side. The older girl looked over her shoulder, locking gazes with Katarin.

“Child, you do not understand how—”

“We understand slavery when we see it,” Petra said, to her namesake. “Taking these people away from their homes, so you can keep yours?”

“Mine is the stronger of the tribes,” the queen said, “and so they must bend to us. It is that simple.”

“The strong defend the weak.”

Brynne and Justin looked at each other, for they had both spoken the same words at the same time.

“Those with power have a duty to those without,” Justin said.

The queen's lip curled. “They will survive, and they will be grateful, or we will cast them out.”

“That isn't enough,” Katarin said, stamping her foot.

“We are at war, here—“

“Which is precisely why you need to band together,” Katarin pressed.

“This rabble? Fight? If we give them their swords back, they will turn them on us,” Petra sniffed.

“Maybe you should have thought of that before you took them all captive,” Jasna said.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:30 pm

“Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into,” Jasna muttered, to Brynne.

They walked next to each other, Justin and Petra the younger ahead of them, Morana and Katarin behind, led by the Huntsman and the Queen. The golden-haired shrike trailed behind.

“Me?” the older girl hissed. “It wasn’t my idea to go traipsing off into the mountains in search of some rusty old shield.”

“Tarnished,” Katarin said.

Brynne glanced over her shoulder. “Don’t you start with me, too.”

“Iron and steel rust. Bronze tarnishes.”

“You want to blame anyone for this, blame her.” Brynne tilted her head at the girl behind her.

“I save her from being skewered, and see what thanks I get?” Katarin sighed.

“The Temple of the Shield?” Morana asked. “What would possibly convince you to go on that wild goose chase?”

“It was her idea!” The rest of the Handmaidens spoke at once, each pointing towards Jasna, who slowed her pace, sputtering.

“Keep moving.”

Moonlight gleamed off a bare, yellowish blade, a curved helmet of the same metal. The guard was careful to keep the sword’s tip pointed away from the girls, but motioned with it just the same.

Five other guards surrounded the girls, and a dozen bowmen walked with arrows nocked some ten or so paces away, eyes as much on the surrounding woods as they were their charges.

“I found it,” Jasna said, when she’d recovered her voice and their guards' attention shifted to the snapping of twigs and branches deeper in the woods.

“We found it,” Petra chirped.

“See?” Jasna asked. “Not my fault!”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Mon Aug 18, 2014 3:46 pm

Howls rose again in the night, but these were deeper, shorter than those of the wolves of the woods.

“Quickly!” Zirchev barked, and the group’s pace doubled. Petra the Younger had to jog to keep up.

“What are you doing?” the queen hissed. “Those howls are getting closer, not further away!”

“They come from the direction of the camp,” the Huntsman said. He held up a closed fist, and the column slowed. The howls were joined by distant cries -- human voices.

“And you motioned for us to slow our pace?” The queen’s voice rose sharply. She made to push past Zirchev, but he would not budge, laying a gloved hand on her shoulder. The glove creaked.

“They are under attack!” the queen hissed.

“And what good do you think a dozen men will do? None, and even less if you should be hurt! We will stay here, and make our way to the south, ahead of Flaghr’s horde.”

“You’re going to leave them?” Jasna asked.

Zirchev glowered down at the girl, and then directed his ire at one of the swordsmen, who ducked his head.

“Apologies, General. She’s a slippery one.”

The guard reached towards the girl, but she slid away from his grasp.

“You can’t just leave them. That isn’t—”

“Isn’t what? Isn’t right?” the Huntsman snapped. “They outnumber us ten to one, and most of those in the camp aren’t soldiers. Flaghr’s warpacks will make a wheat harvest of them. I would like to live to see Achelos again.”

“You aren’t just a dozen men,” Jasna said. She gestured towards the rest of the group. “Did you forget you have us?”

“A dozen men and half again as many children.”

“Don’t underestimate us because we’re small,” Jasna said.

You’re small,” Brynne said.

“She’s trying to make a point,” Katarin said, poking the taller girl in the side.

“It sounds to me like she’s trying to volunteer us for suicide,” Justin muttered.

“No,” Zirchev said. “We flee south.”

“No,” Petra said, shaking off the Huntsman’s hand.

One of the guards cleared his throat.

“I’ve got family still in that camp, General. And… begging your pardon, but you didn’t see how this one had one o’ them dwarfish mercenaries trying to breathe mud. With her hands bound.”

A mutter rippled through the ranks of the swordsmen. More than a few heads nodded.

Zirchev heaved a sigh, and waved a hand. “Very well. Arm them, for all the good it will do.” He drew up his hood. “A fine lot of good I do as an advisor if you never listen.”

“You are here to tell me what I do not wish to hear,” Petra said. “And it is my right as queen to ignore you.”

“That sounds a lot like what mother says to my father,” Brynne said, with a grin.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:00 pm

“Wait!” Jasna hissed, grabbing Zirchev’s cloak.

He sighed.

“Every moment we waste, another Traladaran perishes,” the queen said.

The shrike looked up from where she’d been kneeling at the edge of the game trail, and then stood, brushing leaves and twigs from her white gown. She succeeded in smearing the mud around a bit.

“Goldy says that we will waste a few more moments,” Jasna said, translating as the shrike spoke, “‘or we will be the ones to perish.’”

The shrike held several small stones in one hand. She worked one between her thumb and forefinger, touching it to the dimly glowing blue gem on the back of her bracer, then manipulated the rest of the stones — six in all — until she’d touched each of them to the dragonstone. Then she wound her arm back, and threw the handful of pebbles into a high arc.

She waited a span of several breaths, then glanced down at the flickering gem adorning her golden bracer. She passed her fingers over it a few times, then nodded, as if to herself. She snapped a sturdy twig from a low-hanging branch and began to scratch at an undisturbed part of the muddy path.

“This is not the time for art lessons,” Petra huffed.

“No, look. This could be the river,” Zirchev said, pointing towards a trio of wavy lines. “And here — these dots indicate the tents?”

The shrike glanced up at the Huntsman, gave a quick nod. She reached into a pouch at her waist and drew out a handful of stones.

Gleaming stones. Gems, they all saw, as she started scattering them here and there around the muddy representation of the riverside camp.

The soldiers gasped. Zirchev’s eyes widened, and even the queen drew in a sharp breath.

“‘Here is the approaching horde,’” Brynne said, before Jasna could start translating.

“Her Old Traladaran is better than yours,” Katarin whispered. “You told the Huntsman to ‘halt,’ not ‘wait.’ You can’t speak like that to an elder.”

“I’m older than he is right now,” Jasna whispered back. “I’ve got two thousand years on him.”

Katarin sighed.

“Years that have yet to happen don’t count,” Morana said. “Now hush, I’m trying to listen.”


“‘…. Will keep up a cover fire from these points while the swordsmen form a line down to the river’s edge.’”

“And how do you propose we do that with barely a dozen arrows apiece?” the queen asked, folding her arms.

The shrike held up the twig with which she’d been indicating points on her hastily scrawled and bejeweled map. She spoke three short words.

Brynne grimaced.

“She says you’d better start scrounging for sticks,” Jasna supplied.

The queen’s back straightened, and she rose from where she’d been squatting beside the Huntsman.

“You will school your tone, you—“

The shrike clapped her hands.

“Well, go on,” Jasna said, making ‘shooing’ motions with her hands. “Every moment you waste, the more blood those gnolls are going to spill.”

The queen turned, and stalked away as the bowmen sprang into motion, the swordsmen quick to follow.

“You curry no favor with the Queen with your tone, little one,” Zirchev warned, as he, too, went in search of arrow-length branches amidst the winter-bare woods.

“What?” Jasna said, glancing around at the other Handmaidens. “I never asked for her grace when she was Immortal, why should I start now?”
Last edited by RobJN on Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:55 am

“I think I’m getting the hang of this!” Morana said. The long, thin branch she held across her knees creaked, twisted, and then burst into a shower of splinters.

The shrike sighed, and handed the Darine girl another branch from the stack. “Karot!” she admonished, brushing a finger over Morana’s forehead.

The golden veins within the green dragonstone about the girl’s neck flickered, glints of light racing from the heart of the stone towards the faceted surface. The branch shivered, then jolted straight, feathers sprouting from one end as if they were leaves, the other end blossoming a pointed, iron tip.

“Zobh!” the shrike nodded. She handed the girl yet another branch. “Aparahm, ca.”


The camp was abuzz with activity, watchfires stoked as high as they would burn. Soldiers ran among groups of men, barking orders, herding the men into ragged lines. A child ran past the approaching queen, remembering to bob a quick bow, scrambling to keep the armload of cloth from falling into the mud.

“Wait,” Petra said, squatting down to the boy’s eye level. “Where are you going with that?”

“B-bandages, Your Highness,” the boy stammered. “General Halav has said—” His voice cut off as the queen stood, scowling as she scanned the bustling activity of the camp.

“Find your family,” she said. “Take only what you can carry. Make for the rafts. Spread the word.”

“B-but the general….”

“He is a fool,” Petra snapped. “Go,” she said, her voice a bit gentler as she glanced down at the boy. The she looked back up. “Archers, take up your positions. Zirchev—”

The Huntsman was already loping through a thin spot in the nearest line of soldiers. “I know,” he called over his shoulder. He bent closer to one of the men, pointing towards the river.

“Shouldn’t we go with her?” Jasna asked, as the queen stalked off through the camp, towards the large, red tent.

“Do you want to be between the two of them when she starts to skewer Red-Nose?” Brynne asked.

The shorter girl blew hair from her eyes. “We should be doing something,” Jasna said.

“We will go to the river, like we’re supposed to,” Katarin said.

“You will go,” Justin said. He adjusted his sword belt. “I’m going to—”

Jasna stepped in his way as he tried to pass. She poked a finger into his mailed chest.

“You are coming with us,” she said.

He moved to sidestep, and she danced into his way again.

“If they’re going to fight, they need my sword.”

“There isn’t supposed to be any fighting,” Jasna said. “We’re going to slip away on the rafts. Did you not hear Goldie’s plan?”

The young man’s grip tightened on the hilt of his sword.

“We’ll take the last raft,” he muttered.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:12 pm

“That is the last of them!” Brynne shouted, as she sloshed up the riverbank. “Petra, go!”

The younger Handmaiden dashed away from the small campfire, her sling whistling, and then she hurled one of Goldie’s gems skyward. As it reached the top of its arc, the stone burst into reddish-gold light, brighter than the meager, fitful fire towards which Katarin was leading a shivering Brynne.

A similar flare of light bloomed in the sky above the far side of the refugee’s camp. And then another and another took light.

“Three?” Jasna asked. “She didn’t sing anything about three.”

“Three more!” Katarin said.

“Three and three means we flee,” Petra said.

Justin clambered to his feet. “They’re going to be overrun. Hey, where are you going?” He grabbed Jasna’s arm, as she started towards the camp. “The river is this way. Did you not hear Goldie’s plan?”

The girl snatched her arm away, reaching for the dagger on her belt with the same motion. “We can’t leave them. They can’t die here! Come on!”

“You told me—” Justin turned to the other girls. “Three and three. We take the raft, right?”

Brynne had already hefted her staff, and Petra was gathering some of the larger of the stones by the riverside, Morana doing the same.

“You can’t—” he sputtered.

“We must,” Morana said, looking over at the young man. “This whole night has not not felt… right. We are out of step with our heritage.”

“You were all fired up to help before,” Jasna said. “What happened to all that hrabrost?” She stood up straighter, thumping herself on the chest.

“I just… Look, I fought one of those things, and barely held it off.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you’ll have us backing you up, then,” Jasna said, as she drew the knife from her belt. “Now come on!”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:56 am

The sky split, spilling sickly greenish fire from a golden tear that opened between the stars. The cacophony of yips, snarls and howls faltered on the other side, then became high, pained shrieks. Bursts of golden flame flashed along the base of the wall of fire, as beast men still charging from behind crashed into those trying to backpedal away from it. The beast men vanished in a lick of flame, leaving only echoes of their cries and wisps of ash on the cold night’s wind.


“Wichery!” Justin breathed.

“Witchery that keeps our heads on our shoulders,” Brynne said.

“They’re coming through!” The young man drew his sword.

Brynne knocked his blade back down as he made to raise it.

“Don’t be a fool. They’re on our side.”

The shadowy figures drew closer, the greenish-gold glare lessening, revealing the broad-shouldered Halav and a handful of archers hurrying away, their eyes wide and wild.

“Where are the others?” Jasna asked, as they drew nearer.

“The white witch said to retreat, that’s what we’re doing,” the big man rumbled.

“Where are Petra, and the Huntsman?” Jasna pressed.

“I told her it was folly. They are too many. Hurry, now, lads. The little witch said her wall would not hold for long.” Halav ushered the archers past the girls. “We won’t wait at the shore,” he said.

“You can’t just run away!” Jasna called after the man. He did not even slow his pace.

The girl turned, and ran to catch up with the other three.


They found Zirchev, kneeling over the Queen, tying off an already-blood-soaked bandage around her midsection.

“I told her to stay back with the rest of the archers,” he hissed, hands trembling as he reached for another bandage. “But she insisted—”

“Move aside. Let me see,” Katarin said, her hands going to the fallen woman’s side. She peeled back the bandage, and blood welled up over her fingers. She sucked in a sharp breath.

“This is bad,” she said.

“What do you need?” Brynne asked.

“Hot water. Hot irons. Warm, clean cloth. More light. More time.”

“What do you need that we have a chance of getting?”

Katarin shook her head, biting her lip. “Too much blood. This wound is too deep.”

“I saw you work your healing on the little one,” Zirchev said. “Her wounds were deeper than these.”

“That took nearly all of my strength,” Katarin said. “And Petra helped with that. Now stop, you’re making it worse!” The girl snatched the bandage from the Huntsman’s hands, winding it up and packing it against the bandage he’d just applied.

“Time,” Morana said, as if she’d just remembered something. She fished the green stone from the front of her bodice. “I think there is something I can do about that.”

“This isn’t some trick to turn sticks into arrows,” Katarin said over her shoulder. “No, hold that here,” she said, turning back, and moving Zirchev’s hands.

Morana shook her head. “No, that was something completely different, making them into something they would already become, but skipping all the time in between. This wouldn’t hurry her along…” The golden chain clanked as she tightened her grip on the stone. “No, I think I can do just the opposite.”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:05 pm

“It stopped!” Zirchev gasped, taking his hands away from the blood-soaked linen. He bent, and held his cheek over the Queen’s lips, and his look of amazement crumbled. “She does not breathe! You said this would save her!”

Brynne brought her staff down in front of the Huntsman before he could regain his feet.

“Relax,” she said. “She’s still alive.”

“But she—“

Katarin’s eyes went distant, and then she blinked, looking over at Zirchev. “She’s… I don’t know how she’s done it… but—”

Sickly, greenish light shone from between Morana’s fingers, where she gripped the stone, the light giving her complexion a rather ghastly pallor.

“She’s severed the strands of Time surrounding your human,” Goldy said as she approached the group. Her voice was not the least bit amazed, and made the miracle sound like an accusation. She rounded on the Darine girl. “What are you thinking?”

“It… was the only thing I could think of.” Morana’s voice sounded distant, as if she spoke while dreaming.

“You meddle in waters far deeper than you can comprehend,” the shrike hissed. “Those waters are far more likely to drag you under than keep you afloat. Release the time-lock.”

“If she does that, Petra will die!” Katarin said. “She can’t—”

“She isn’t —” Jasna started to say, then clamped her mouth shut as Brynne trod on her boot.

Goldy stared at each of the girls who’d spoken, the light of the stone giving her golden eyes a strange, green sheen. Brilliant lines of gold shone across the irises, as if she were looking up at a shower of falling stars. She shifted her gaze to the streaming wall of greenish-gold light, which was steadily diminishing.

“I must warn you one more time,” the shrike said, laying the palm of her hand across the hilt of the sword at her waist. “Release the time-lock. For your own sakes.”

“You’re supposed to be on our side!” Jasna said. Her own hand hovered near the knife tucked into her belt.

“Release the time-lock,” the shrike repeated, her voice going hard. It trembled, ever so slightly. “Before you take any more of Her power.”

“Who’s power?” Brynne asked. She flexed her fingers around the haft of her staff.

Little Petra cleared her throat. “Maybe… we should do as she says.”

Jasna scowled at the younger girl. “You’re supposed to be on our side, too!”

Petra raised her hands. “I’m just saying… If its enough to make Goldy scared… how bad must it be?”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sat May 21, 2016 8:43 pm

“What in Khoronus’—?” The big red-haired Traladaran’s question died in a cracked whisper.

“I thought you said you weren’t going to wait,” Jasna said. Her smirk was cut short as the stone under her foot turned, and Halav hauled her, sputtering, from the Wufwolde.

Katarin caught the girl as Halav hoisted her onto the raft, slapping her back.

“Serves you right,” the weaver said. She looked over the shoulder of her dripping friend, and flashed a smile at Halav. His own was brief, and then he was bellowing orders to the bowmen, making ready to cast off.

As the raft was pushed into the current and the three bowmen scrambled onto the hastily-assembled mass of logs, Halav and Zirchev worked long staves, keeping them far enough from the stony shore not to run aground, but not far enough out that the current’s bite would tear the raft apart.

After perhaps an hour, the steady rhythm of the staves in the water, and the bobbing of the raft itself was enough to lull the girls — huddled together as much for warmth as for lack of space on the raft — into exhausted slumber.



A hand shaking her shoulder awakened Jasna from a dark, dreamless sleep. She shivered, reached for a blanket that wasn’t there, and then sat up straight, blinking.

It might have been morning. Or it might have been late afternoon. All she could see around her was a thick, clinging gray mist. Behind her, where the Queen lay, the fog was washed with a sickly greenish light that emanated from the stone Morana held against the blankets.

Standing above her and the others, two of the bowmen hauled at the long staves, pushing the raft along.

“What happened to the current?” Jasna asked. She leaned to one side, reaching towards the edge of the raft.

“I would not,” the shrike warned. Her voice, like the gentle ‘plok’ of the staves as the bowmen poled, seemed perhaps a bit to close, too loud, hemmed in by the thick fog.

“This isn’t natural, is it?” Katarin asked.

“It is not,” the shrike said with a shake of her head.

“Is it your doing?” Brynne asked.

Again, the shrike shook her head.

“I think I liked her better when she was barking orders,” Justin said.

Petra the Younger cocked her head, brushing her hair away from one ear.

“Something ahead,” she said, motioning for the bowmen to slow their work.

Jasna closed her eyes, but all she heard was a lackluster lapping of water against the raft, and the muted creaking of wood and hempen rope and leather.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:20 pm

The something Petra had detected was a steep embankment, which emerged only begrudgingly from the fog: layers of thick roots, gnarled and twisted one among another, forming a dam, or wall.

The bowmen grumbled about the dreaded fog, and getting turned around. Halav ordered them around the obstruction, yet poling in either direction only revealed more of the same twisted exposed rootwork as the fog parted.

“What devilry is this?” the big man demanded.

The shrike mumbled something, and while Jasna merely snorted in amusement, Brynne translated for the Traladaran.

“She did try to warn us,” the girl said.

“She also called him a—” Petra started.

Katarin clapped a hand over the girl’s mouth.

“What are we to make of it?” Zirchev asked, and as he did, the embankment widened as the raft drifted, a large root bulging outward, rootlets spread conveniently between it and the looming wall, rising away from the waterline.

“Well, that’s subtle,” Jasna said.



“No,” Zirchev said, placing a hand on Jasna’s shoulder as she made to hop from the raft to the base of the natural staircase. “I will scout ahead first, to make sure it is safe.” As he rose, so, too, did the shrike.

“It would do no good to tell her to stay, would it?” he asked Jasna.

“You’ll need someone to translate,” the girl said, shaking off the huntsman’s hand, following them onto the embankment.

Zirchev glowered, but held his tongue, pressed close to the wall of roots, hurrying up the uneven steps. Within a half dozen of those steps, the raft below disappeared into the clinging fog. Another half dozen, and even the sound of its creaking, and the muttering of the guardsmen was swallowed up.

“Is there no end to this?” Zirchev asked.

As if to answer, the wall to which he’d been pressing his back fell away, and he tattered for what would have been the span of several breaths, had he not been holding it. The Huntsman ignored the shrike’s wry smile.

There was nothing but a knobby protrusion, where the roots bent to plunge the dozen feet to the river below, and a short stretch of sandy soil built up among the tangle, before trunk after trunk could be seen, stretching to the edges of the mists to the left, right, and above.

Zirchev prowled from one gap to another, peering at the ground, cocking an ear to listen. Though the string of his bow was relaxed, the fingers that held the arrow were anything but.

Jasna waited, watching, shifting from foot to foot. She huffed a sigh, and then stalked past the Huntsman, slipping easily between the trees. She twisted, as Zirchev made a grab at her.

“What are you doing?” he hissed. “I haven’t finished—”

“It’s quiet,” Jasna said, not bothering to whisper back.

“Just because you can’t hear something waiting to eat you, doesn’t mean something isn’t waiting behind the next tree,” he said.

Jasna skipped backwards, keeping out of Zirchev’s reach as he tried once again to stop the girl.

“If we wait for you to check behind every tree, it could be too late,” the girl said. “Right, Goldy?”

The shrike opened her mouth, the word of warning dying as she began to speak it.

The branches behind Jasna bent, twisting around the girl’s arms, lifting her off her feet, which she kicked first at the tree to her right, and then to her left.

Zirchev drew his bow, bringing the arrow to his cheek in one fluid motion, only to find the arrow shaft sprouting leaves, the bow writing in his grip as greenery burst forth along its length as well.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby Chimpman » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:56 pm

Well, I've been away from these stories for quite a long time, but I've finally caught up with the Handmaidens (Thorn is next... ;) ). There are a couple of things I caught (some of them admittedly pretty far back).

I just love the whole bit about Petra (the Younger) and the white petals (some form of wolfsbane I'm assuming), and the plants coming in with the Flaemish. That's one thing I really like about delving into these historical stories - we get to show how the world changes over time. Mystara of the past is definitely not the same world that exists in the modern era (circa AC 1000), and I think you do a really good job at showing that... especially with the little things like the flowers.

I'm also really intrigued by Morana's time magic. There is definitely something mysterious going on there, but I can't quite figure out what it is. My first reaction is that somehow that magic might be related to fey magic (which could be what is upsetting Goldy so much). Not sure. I definitely want to see more.

Oh... and I'm really itching to see some of this story converted into an adventure module!
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
 
Posts: 7526
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:11 am

Chimpman wrote:Well, I've been away from these stories for quite a long time, but I've finally caught up with the Handmaidens (Thorn is next... ;) ). There are a couple of things I caught (some of them admittedly pretty far back).

I just love the whole bit about Petra (the Younger) and the white petals (some form of wolfsbane I'm assuming), and the plants coming in with the Flaemish. That's one thing I really like about delving into these historical stories - we get to show how the world changes over time. Mystara of the past is definitely not the same world that exists in the modern era (circa AC 1000), and I think you do a really good job at showing that... especially with the little things like the flowers.

I'm also really intrigued by Morana's time magic. There is definitely something mysterious going on there, but I can't quite figure out what it is. My first reaction is that somehow that magic might be related to fey magic (which could be what is upsetting Goldy so much). Not sure. I definitely want to see more.

Oh... and I'm really itching to see some of this story converted into an adventure module!

It's always good to get feedback -- especially from a M-history buff. One of the things I've been trying to keep blended into the story is the... difference... between the present-day legends, and the truth of those, as the Handmaidens are finding out.

With a surge in lycanthropy coming as a result of the Alphatian (and later, Flaemish) landfall, it makes sense that they would have had with them a means of curbing or abating the curse. I think it was PC4 that introduced the moonflowers, growing in the werewolf valley in Glantri, that aided in resisting the compulsion to change during the full moon.

We'll have some explanation of just what it is that has Goldy so worried coming in the next few installments. :twisted: I was just about to start writing again when the e-mail went 'ding!' :mrgreen:
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:44 pm

“Take them. Find the others, and bring them, as well.”

Jasna heard the coldly melodic voice, though she could not see its source. Branch-like fingers curled around her face, in addition to those already gripping her arms, and she could see nothing but branches, trees, and sky as the creatures carried her deeper into the forest.

Branches, but no leaves. She at first thought it a trick of the strange, murky not-quite-twilight lighting filtering from the purplish-orange sky, but the bark of the trees as they passed by looked… ‘Sick’ was the only term that readily crept into her mind: the wood looked bark-like enough on one side, facing away from her direction of travel, but the other was… smooth, glossy and rippled like the shrubs surrounding the orphanage in Threshold sometimes looked when the morning’s dew froze in the later part of winter. But the frozen dew’s glaze never held the greenish-gray tinge. And while the thorns from the roses sometimes peeked through, what protruded from the sickly trunks and branches was sharp, jagged, and green, but certainly was no thorn she had ever seen.

The branches fell away, and she found herself staring up into the open sky. Publish, like a bruise, touched around the edge of her vision with shades of orange, like sunset touching clouds. Yet there were no clouds. Oddly colored though it was the sky was clear. She could even see the beginnings of stars winking here and there.

But they were wrong, too. And not just because she could not tilt her head to catch the right angle. Not a single group formed one of the familiar nighttime constellations.

The back-and-forth sway of her captors’ strides changed to something closer to a heave-ho cadence, her stomach lurching in the space between each step. Climbing, and not on regularly cut steps, she guessed. If she could have twisted her head to look down, over her shoulder, Jasna was sure she would have seen more of the step-like, outgrowths of roots.

Three more long, regular strides, and then the breath whooshed from her lungs as the tree-men dropped her onto what definitely felt like hard-packed dirt.

She tried to wheeze in a breath, turning over and gathering her knees and elbows under her.

More of the same hard, sandy soil, that scrubbed and scraped beneath the heels of her hands, the toes of her boots.

Tiny, leaf-studded shoots wagged and waved from crevices in the ground. Odd, Jasna thought, since it seemed much too early for any such growth.

Too slow, she tried to push herself away, and the sprouts surged into vines, entwining her forearms, while other runners snaked around her legs. Several thin, greenish streamers even twined through her hair. The more she struggled, the tighter they wrapped, as if trying to pull her into the ground itself.

From the gasping and cursing behind her, she guessed the Zirchev had met a similar fate.

“By all means, keep struggling,” the frost-tinged voice purred, from somewhere above her. “Those are bloodvine creepers. It has been an age since I have had visitors, when they last fed. They are ever so eager to flower again.”

The vines heaved, sending dry earth billowing up in a dusty cloud. Too late, Jasna tried to hold her breath, but already had half a lungful of grit. When her coughing subsided enough and she finally dared open her stinging eyes, she found herself staring through tears at jagged ends of bone protruding from the ground, broken-off bits of thorn still embedded in one of them. An arm? A leg? Katarin would no doubt be able to tell which it was.

She blinked again, harder, trying to clear her vision, and found herself staring at the hem of a brilliant white gown, pooled as the figure before her stopped. She peered closer. It was not white, not entirely, but a shimmering of color after color so quick as to trick the eye into seeing no color at all. The elves, she knew, were said to make cloaks that did that.

Had they stumbled into one of the elves’ sacred groves?

“We didn’t mean to—” she began, but the creepers writhed further into her hair, leaves uncurling, sifting her hair this way and that, tickling her cheeks, nose.

“I did not give you leave to speak.”

Jasna tried to crane her neck, to look up, and again, the tendrils tensed. What brushed her cheek was not a leaf, but something harder, sharper. It slithered up her cheek, uncomfortably close to the girl’s eye.

“Nor did I give you leave to raise your head. When in the presence of a queen, one does not raise one’s eyes until they are given permission.”

The figure took a step to the side, and the gown flowed, as the figure bent, leaning towards Jasna’s left ear. Much as she wanted to risk a glance, the girl kept her eyes fixed on the broken end of bone jutting up from the soil between her hands.

“Had you moved your eyes,” the voice whispered in her ear, “I would have taken them as punishment. Perhaps there is wisdom in you, yet, child.”
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby Chimpman » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:34 pm

Huh... how did I miss this last post for so long*?

RobJN wrote:The branches fell away, and she found herself staring up into the open sky. Publish, like a bruise, touched around the edge of her vision with shades of orange, like sunset touching clouds. Yet there were no clouds. Oddly colored though it was the sky was clear. She could even see the beginnings of stars winking here and there.

But they were wrong, too. And not just because she could not tilt her head to catch the right angle. Not a single group formed one of the familiar nighttime constellations.

Oh! Walking into Twilight! I really like this description. I knew exactly what was happening :twisted:

RobJN wrote:“Nor did I give you leave to raise your head. When in the presence of a queen, one does not raise one’s eyes until they are given permission.”

:o Didn't expect this to happen so quickly, but I am definitely stoked and waiting for more. At first I thought that the creature who had captured them was some kind of sickly mutant treant... but after reading this I started to think, hey... maybe that was a... troll... ;)


[*] The Rogue One digital copy was released March 24, which I took off from work so that I could watch it on a continuous loop. That's the only thing I've got...
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
 
Posts: 7526
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby RobJN » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:46 pm

“Well now… what have we here?” Jasna could hear a smile in the voice, but it certainly held no warmth. From the corner of her eye, she could see the others, similarly held in place by more shoots of bloodvine. Directly beside her, Brynne shifted, and then sucked in a sharp breath.

“I believe you were told not to struggle.”

“I was shifting because I had a — ow!”

“Brynne!” Katarin hissed.

“What? She— ow!”

“If you cannot hold your tongue, perhaps I should take it?”

“Go ahead and— ow!”

“I did not give you leave to speak.”

“You asked a question. It would be rude not to — ow!”

“Are you slow, child, or simply ill-mannered?”

“Stubborn,” Katarin muttered.

“How come she didn’t— ow!”

“The Thief of Essences amuses me.”

“Unwrap these vines, I’ll show you amusement,” Brynne growled.

“Will you, now? And how do you intend to do that?”

Jasna counted a third, and then a fourth breath, until the silence broke with a low chuckle from their captor.

“I asked you a question, child.” There was no mirth in the frosty tone. “Look at me.”

The tendrils threaded through her hair slithered, loosening, and Jasna was able to crane her neck. The briefest of glances to her left allowed her to see the others also raising their heads. She returned her focus to the figure before them, and quite simply forgot to take her next breath.


Jasna had seen pretty girls before. Katarin, for instance, and even Brynne, in her oddly boyish way. The baker’s boy at the Threshold marketplace even called her pretty, once, when she asked him why he didn’t ask for the coppers when he slipped an extra sweet-cake in Matron’s afternoon order for loaves.

Aurora, she thought, was pretty, when she bothered to smile. Likewise, her near-sister, Silva. She was very pretty, in a regal sort of way.
None of them, though, had stopped her breath. Her eyes stung, and she wanted to weep, but she couldn’t — that would blur her vision, and she didn’t want to stop staring at the golden-haired woman standing before her.

Her eyes, twin emeralds, even clearer than those of the statues that brought them to this time…

Her skin, smooth, flawless as freshly poured cream…

Before her, Jasna felt small — smaller, even, than among her friends. She’d liked her own hair, well enough, even if it was constantly getting in her eyes, and sure, it was light, with just a hint of copper, but that of the woman — it shone, like it was its own sunbeam.

Jasna swallowed, against a dull ache in her breast. She was…

Jasna swallowed again, and what little air she had left escaped her lips as a sigh.

The woman before her was beautiful.

Jasna sucked in another breath, and her throat burned.

No, not her throat. Her breast. It burned.

It was hot.

She tore her gaze away, dropping her chin.

The dragonstone pendant lay hot against her skin, a glimmer of red-gold light shimmering across one or another of the veins within the stone.
Were her hands not bound, she would have snatched the thing up, yanked it free, tossed it aside. It was distracting her from the woman. The beautiful woman. No, she was more than just beautiful. She was perfect.

Not like her, with her too-long hair. Or like Brynne, with her lopsided smile. Katarin’s nose turned a little too far up, Jasna thought. And Petra! With those crooked teeth… None of them were anywhere near—

Jasna blinked.

The woman was perfect. Unearthly.

Too perfect.

Unreal.

She lifted her eyes, again, squinting against the brilliance that shone within the woman’s hair.

For all their shine, the woman’s emerald eyes were hard, flat, like stone. Or a serpent.

Her cheeks, pale and smooth as they were, seemed… hollow.

Wasn’t her nose a little too pointed?

Jasna glanced lower. The woman’s hands were slender, delicate.

Tipped not with nails, but talons.

Her gown, pooled against the ground at her feet, didn’t hang quite right.

Jasna squinted, against the shifting-shimmer of the color-warping aspect of the cloth. One of the ripples had slightly more bulk beneath it.

“What is it you stare at, child?”

Did the woman’s voice linger a bit too long on the sibilants?

“What is it you think you see, my dear?” the woman asked, and smiled a sweet smile, showing teeth.

Pointed teeth.
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook | G+ | twitter
User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
 
Posts: 3559
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Location: Texas, USA

Re: [Thorn's Mystara Fluff] FQ2: Twilight of the Golden Age

Postby Chimpman » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:26 pm

Ohh :twisted:

I really like this description. Initially very attractive... but upon further inspection... very scary (probably very scary regardless).
Jasna squinted, against the shifting-shimmer of the color-warping aspect of the cloth. One of the ripples had slightly more bulk beneath it.

:mrgreen: A little bit of the "troll" showing through the "queen" ;) That was my favorite part.

It makes me want to go back and do some work on Grondheim, fleshing out the Troll Queen and her court.
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
 
Posts: 7526
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Previous

Return to Mystara

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Google Feedfetcher and 2 guests