Author Archives: Rules Director

June Prologue 2017

PrologueNews and Rumors

[THE SUNDERING TREE, DEEP IN THE AETHER; MAY 28, 2017 (WR)]

“Yes. Let me see”

At his command, the Carrionettes stepped away and their clay limbs clicked with each movement. They faded from the circle of bloody masks on the ground and waited lifelessly in the tree-line. Valtherion did not have the dead eyes and the clay hearts of the puppet-like creatures, but looking upon the macabre trophies did not gladden him. After all, there was little and less left in him when the Face-takers were done – only the burning ember of spite and the grim contentment that others had suffered.

It was not enough. It would never be enough.

Behind him, the Sundering Tree’s branches reached into the heavens. After long years, it was able now to tear into Midworld at Valtherion’s twisted will.

“The Witch-King is pleased with your work, Valtherion!” From beneath its shadow emerged a Birdkin, dressed in Gotterdammerung garments and clapping slowly as it trespassed into his domain, into his throne.

Valtherion turned his masked gaze toward the Beastling, his crown of thorns and flowers moving in tune with his movements. “What I do is not for the Witch-King, Horusath. I do this for my own cause, for my own crusade!”

The Birdkin was cautious and strode carefully around the circle of masks on the ground. From the edges of the treeline around the grove, Carrionettes watched him with dead, glossy eyes.

“The Witch-King has given you the means of your vengeance. He has given you power and the protection of a World-Lock. He has even given you leave to continue your work – instead of utterly enslaving your will. I would not be so quick to disregard his pleasure”

Horusath bent to pick a discarded favor from the muddy ground. “A Callasine favor? Do you treat with your Kingdom still? Is there something you need to tell the Witch-King of the North?”

Valtherion laughed mirthlessly. “Death-Priests of the Silver Kingdom, sent to strike me down. My former home and my liege means as much to me as this bloody mud. And at the fullness of my strength, I mean to tread upon them in the same fashion. Even the Queen of Stars will fall to the Facetakers when the Sundering Tree rends the veil between Midworld and the Aether”

“That is good” Horusath nodded his beak, looking this way and that to take the scene in. “You were Envoy for them long ago after all… just as you were once an ally to Freehold. I will remind you now that it would be unwise for you to forsake your current allegiances for your past ones.”

“They failed me after I had sacrificed so much for them” The self-style Prince of Thorns had no laughter this time, only seething spite. “They can seek me out all they like, but they will not find me or my Tree so easily. The waves of Facetakers and Carrionettes will be as an unending river – and eventually they will drown in it. Their souls will adorn the Forest of Faces.”

“Ensure that this occurs. Anubisath has little love for Freehold and less love for failure” Horusath made his way to the Sundering Tree and faded away from beneath its boughs.

How the Witch-King and his minons made easy use of the Aether and of his own creation galled him. But there were other grudges to nurse, and vengeances to be quenched.

The Carrionettes moved to allow a trio of Face-takers into the grove. They were gigantic creatures, seemingly wrought of shadows and hunger and all wearing the faces of those they had hunted. The torment of a hundred souls were stitched upon their garments – and they would only ever want more.

Valtherion shivered even now when he saw them so hungry. His fingers traced the outline of his mask, then reached inside to claw at the shattered remains behind it.

Soon, Midworld and the Aether will be joined and all will share in my glorious torment

Rumor (anyone may read this)
Lore-keeper skill only
Callas Selvarion or Rumormonger skill
Fir’bolg or Rumormonger skill
Gotterdammerung or Rumormonger skill
Ixia or Rumormonger skill
Jotunbrud or Rumormonger skill
Kali-Ishtar or Rumormonger skill only
Labyrinthium or Rumormonger skill only
Malak Travak or Rumormonger skill only
Pendrakken or Rumormonger skill only
Riverfolk or Rumormonger skill only

 

 

May 2017 Prologue

PrologueRumors and News

[THE HINTERLANDS NEAR THE SOULWELL; MAY 08, 2017 (WR)]

A Gnome stepped out from the Soulwell, blue flesh limned by pale moonlight. After several breathless strides, he collapsed unto his knees among the roots and the earth.

“I’ve returned.” His ragged fingers dug into gravel and dirt. “Even from death, I return! Is there no end to this torment?”

He was whole. His clothes, the beads around his body and even his blades – all were wrought anew by the Soulwell’s eldritch energies upon his reincarnation. Only the livid crossing scars upon his face remained of his past life and they remained there in his every incarnation, joining beneath his right eye – the eye that watched his children fall to a light-wrought blade.

He remembered who he was, even if his gods already forgot him*. No longer a sentinel, no longer a parent, no longer a Priest  – now nothing but the whisper of a whisper, an echo of an echo.

“…Memnocrathes…” The Entity rasped as it stepped around him. Its voice was as merciful as a butcher’s blade.

The Gnome remembered what he was. And what the Sun Elves did to his comrades and to his children, the Entity did to his faith. It was nothing but dust and ashes now, the bitter dregs of a once-flowing chalice.

“You did this!” He stared up at it, his hands curling into fists. “You made me do all of this! Every tenet, every code – broken, ruined, shattered! You even made me bring you to this gods-damned Soulwell!”

“Little thoughtling…” it rasped as its towering shadow blotted the moon’s light from his form. “The Orrery…”

He remembered what it wanted him to do now and the rage found him again, filling the spaces where faith had dwelt. His power was a tiny spark when compared to the thunder storm that was the entity, but he had weeks of torment to scheme and plot. The Gnome rose slowly, hands closing around the handle of a dagger in his belt. It was only a memory of a blade, but it was a hateful recollection from when the Solari first struck at Freehold long ago. In the mind of a Gnome, even thoughts were deadly.

“It’s gone, the Orrery. It’s her toy now – to bend or break as she chooses”

“I already knew, Thoughtling” It glowered at first, but then its light softened into cold mirth. One of its hands flexed bloody fingers. “Its power flows to me in rivulets…yet it pales when compared to the essence I wrest from the fallen.”

“But I now know this ‘Freehold’. I know that there is nothing here that can stop me — I have searched the memories and I know this to be truth. My purpose will be fulfilled — my duty will continue. All thought, all memory will be taken and archived until the Gods’ return”

“THE GODS ARE DEAD, ZAKARIEL!” Memnocrathes screamed and forest fell quiet to his voice. “They will never return and I won’t be your toy or Fate’s any longer!”

With every last ounce of his strength, he lunged at Zakariel and buried the Archon-bane dagger into its chest. But his foe flinched only slightly when the blade was driven home. With a single motion of its bloodied hand, it broke the Gnome’s arm and tore the dagger from its flesh.

The Entity’s wings fluttered behind it as it strode forth and grasped the Gnome by his skull to bear him violently unto the earth. Zakariel’s grip tightened as it spoke and Memnocrathes’ vain flailings slackened into an eventual stillness.

“Little Thoughtling, I have seen the raising of the seals and the falling of the Daemon. I have sifted through the memories of thousands upon thousands — even warping the thoughts of a broken Aethereal. 

Know then this — that your blasphemy is not new. Your rebellion is not novel. Your weaponry, all of it, in its futility, means nothing to the Archonis Celestia. I am one of the Gods’ true servitors, not some upjumped Aelfan!

And in the Archive I keep for them, you will not even be a footnote!”

When the Entity removed its hand from the Gnome’s face, his eyes saw nothing and there were only bloody wounds where his gems – his Kha – had been.

From amidst the shadows of the forest around the Soulwell, dozens of cross-scarred Gnomes followed Zakariel silently, blood still dribbling from the holes in their faces.

*A curse among the Servitors of the True Keepers – “May They forget you”

OOG Clarify: Every character that has ever performed Research or used the Analyze Item skill on the Enigmatic Orrery or otherwise Attuned themselves to it receives this as a vision as a very vivid dream Thursday night (May 11, 2017). These characters are aware of Memnocrathes’ surface thoughts and his final actions before his attack upon the Entity, they are even aware of the time of this occurrence.

 

Rumor (anyone may read this)

 

 

April 2017 Prologue

PROLOGUERUMORS AND NEWS

[APRIL 8, 2017 (W.R.); A WAREHOUSE IN PORT DAWSON]

The shadows danced with the flickering of the candleflames, lending Karasu a fearsome aspect that moonless night. Her frown deepened as her informer droned with his report. He knelt face-down before her in the inferior position that suited him as an underling, muttering secrets into the dirt. Stuck in Port Dawson and several days away from Freehold, she would have rather read a report than heard it – but times were different now than they were in Kenrei and literate help was hard to find.

He finished the report with “Karasu-sama, I hope this pleases y–”

“Pleases me?” She put one foot atop her underling’s head and ground his face into the dirt floor of the warehouse. “What kind of information is this? What kind of informer are you? You are telling me nothing that I already know!”

“Mercy!” He pleaded after she lifted her foot. His bloodied, broken nose added snivel to his pleas. “I’m just a lowly worker – I barely saw anything at the Wave-strider ship. Only shadows and feathers and screamin–”

The foot came down, strongly, repeatedly and with the mercy associated with crows and vultures.  Karasu only stopped when she heard the scrape of boot against dirt. She recognized the intent behind it and did not turn to face the newcomer.

“Boss Karasu. Black Serpent of the Dust Vipers. I heard you were second only to Boss Gemma before it all went tumbling down” The tall Elf’s shadow radiated power. Likewise, his blade was sheathed but there was a deathly aspect to it that gave Karasu pause. “But you’ve switched from carving lotuses to paddling rafts, the rumors go. What a world we find ourselves in!”

“What do you want, Gaius? I’ve no room for games” she gave her underling one final kick before turning to face the Shaedling, tattooed arm behind her with a knife. He would tell of this meeting, of course – but only what she wanted him to tell.

“I need help – as per before. A relic of my Krieger has been stolen, my brother has been gravely wounded and—“

“And you want me to find the cause of all of this? Are they so precious that you would risk coming here yourself?“

“This is everything to me, now that he has grown strong with the devouring of so many Parasites. I’m calling my favor” a coin with a black serpent fell at her feet. “Or does that mean nothing?”

She picked the coin up with her free hand, but she never took her eyes off of the Elf. Karasu touched the coin with two callused fingers and it vanished immediately into her aspect.  “Hai. It means something, even now – especially now”

“Then we have work to do and much to go over with regards to my quarry. Unlike your useless informant, I know the Black Chalice renegade who attacked the Wave-striders last night and what they were seeking”

Karasu raised an eyebrow in surprise, but she showed little else in emotion except anger and annoyance before her hands moved in a blur. She cast her throw backwards and the knife caught the underling by the throat. His gasps filled the air until the poison gave him silence.

Gaius peered at her stunned or perhaps contemplating his next move. His hands did not reach for his sword but there were other ways a Dammerlicht could kill. Expertise in Sorcery and Witchery were the hallmarks of that currently beshadowed house.

“I know this as well” her eyes narrowed and she caressed the serpentine tattoo upon her arm. “Eshuu Shadow-eater, your old enemy. How is he alive and what do you think would bring him to Freehold?”

Rumor (anyone may read this)
Callas Selvarion Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Fir’bolg Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Gotterdammerung Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Ixia Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Jotunbrud Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Labyrinthium Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Kali-Ishtar Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Malak Travak Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Pendrakken Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only
Riverfolk Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only