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Trials and Tribulations


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Join date : 2015-03-26
Age : 47
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Trials and Tribulations Empty Trials and Tribulations

Post by Peregrinus on Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:38 pm

The Year 1365, Nightal.

The sky was fluttering with shimmering white crystals of wet snow. The winds carried through the night swiftly and fiercely. The sounds of the wilderness was drowned out by the songs of the banshees. A shawl of chain and leather covered the man’s face, and his metallic ashen helm covered the rest of his head. His body was covered in a combination of dark steel and was completed by black chainmail sleeves. His tunic was torn and ancient but bore the ancient symbols that once represented the lord of Justice. His gauntlets clenched the stone casket as his thoughts wandered through the past. The creatures of the Lurkwood felt a chill in the air and it was unnatural. They ran to find shelter away from the wailing. Something dark had awakened.

“sir knight? are you alright?” A man with long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail spoke to the esteemed Knight Captain of Myth Drannor. “I was lost in thought, Nevir.. I will be fine.” The Knight Captain Beltram spoke softly to the other knights, and pointed towards where the undead horde had appeared from. The dozen spread into defensive ranks and cautiously rode past the bodies of the skeletons and zombies that had assaulted them. The warhorses snorted their dislike of this place to the knights but followed their orders. “Captain, something doesn’t feel right about this manor. The horses seem to be losing discipline here. Something has them spooked.” “I know, Nevir. I felt a presence when the undead ambushed us. I don’t understand how they got so close without our priests knowing.” Beltram observed his fellow knights circle towards the large manor. He was told to bring the treaty to this place to the Amn ambassador. It was suppose to be a simple errand, not this unusual ambush. Loleth Manor was what the map indicated. He pulled his white furred cloak tighter to his body. It was unnaturally cold here. Too cold even with the snow coming up to their knees and the winds howling like a rabid wolf. Beltram beckoned to Nevir and the two slowly approached the dark manor, their weapons drawn.

Tears streamed from starry green eyes of the elven maiden. Her hands were bound behind her with a crudely shaped rope. Beside her was her daughter. A lass of mere 10 years of age also bound and gagged. Both sat on antique dwarven made dining chairs. A steel chandelier shaped like an owl was lit with many candles , casting the darkness away from the room, casting the two in silhouette. The room was squarish in shape, twenty five by twenty five and cathedral like ceilings. The owner of the manor, the ambassador laid behind them in a pool of her own blood with a dagger through her neck. It was no longer the Loleth Manor. A shapely figure knelt besides the blood. Her pointed tail curled slightly upwards. Her sultry voice echoed quietly through the room. “ Why did we have to kill her, Atrius? She was so pretty and polite. I wouldn't have minded bedding her and of course you could always have.. “ A wide grin came across her face, her small horns slightly pointed forward. “Don’t be so distracted, tiefling. We have a task at hand and I can sense the knights from Myth Drannor are coming. Remember our agreement, tiefling. Kill Lady Amberyn in front of the lead knight and take the girl to the location I showed you and your debt to the Lich is done.” Atrius stared at the tiefling girl, his eyes glimmering green in the darkness. The tiefling shrugged and nodded her head and drew her slim blade from it’s sheath. “What did this knight do to your employer that you want his family taken care of.. ?” A strange smile appeared on the face of the one called Atrius. “It is in need of a champion and Beltram fits the role perfectly. Between you, myself, Beltram, and the pirate, we’ll be able to find what it requires. Get ready, tiefling. He approaches..”

“Those in thrall of the crystal will be corrupted absolutely.”

The jagged crystal cut deeply into Beltram’s chest. He screamed in agony as it bore into his chest like a dagger with sawteeth. He felt the blade draining him mentally. It was as if the crystal was taking his memories from him. Beltram couldn't remember what happened after he confronted the tiefling and the sorcerer at Loleth manor. Everything was blurred and his mind was in chaos. He felt a slight wiggling sensation from his spine. All he could hear in his mind was “ shhhhh, just let it all fade into darkness. No need to remember. Now, if you would kindly hold your head back……. “

The shadows crept all around Beltram but there was a quiet , unemotional voice in his mind telling him to stay calm. “ I’m sorry, templar that I had to turn you into this but I do not have much of a choice myself in what I do. But listen carefully.. I've made plans and with your newfound abilities, you’ll be able to gather what we need to break from this entity that controls us both now….”

Sometime later in the outskirts of the all encompassing desert of Faerun, three shadowy figures walked their way through the sandstorm. The three wore leathery masks to keep the wind and deadly dust away from their faces. One was thin , obviously female but wore a hood over her head, a another towered over the other two as if an Oak amongst a sea of saplings, and the last wore dark clothes underneath his cloak, his eyes peering further away than the other two could see.

The woman turned to the one in dark clothes. “see? I told you it would be here.” A slight grin appeared on her face, her fangs glistening slightly even in the storm. The man nodded while looking at the glass tower they were close to now. The giant spoke finally. “ I wonder why this piece of glass is so important to the Pasha. It just doesn’t make any sense and my gut is telling me we shouldn't be here.” “ And where is that damned dark one? He should have caught up to us by now.. At that point, the smaller man frowned at the giant. He gestured at the secret entrance in the smooth glass substance. He thought quietly about Artium and only could agree with Lanius, giant of a orc. He didn't trust the shade, and probably never would. His reliance on power and manipulation troubled Acastus. Their organization was ruthless but only when absolutely necessary to achieve a goal or task at hand. Their last quarry together was what he could consider a civilian assassination yet Artium derived so much joy from torturing the woman as if a cat toying with a mouse. Artium claimed he didn't care for politicians hence the long torture but Acastus knew it was simply his nature. His senses tingled entering the tower. There was something wrong.

“What are these stipulations on the contract?”

If shadows could scream, it definitely was doing so. This place the three had entered was unnaturally cold, and damp. Droplets of liquid fell with a loudness of a boot stomping on a stone floor. Their darkvision afforded them very little sight in this dark corridor. There were no visible light sources yet one could peer into it and make sense of the depth at least. The tiefling mouthed her concern to Acastus. “It’s too quiet here, you can hear my hooves.” Acastus nodded silently. He knew Loleth was dead on. It was an unnatural silence here. The winds outside seem so far away, and their footsteps seem amplified in this strange place. And he knew Loleth never made a sound with her hooves unless she wished it so. He strained to listen and tried to ascertain what was beyond the corridor. It was obvious that nothing had stepped into this tower in ages. The cobwebbed ceilings extended far and there was a odd shimmer above all around them.
Silence broke when Lanius spoke with his deep guttural voice. “Where is that damned shade?” He was to meet us here after the contract…” Loleth kept close by his side , watching the hall that they were now leaving. The hallway led into a massive crystalline stairway. One path led skywards while the other led downwards into a pit of darkness. The metal of it glimmered almost maliciously in the near darkness of the hall. No shadows were cast here. It didn't bode well for the three. Their powers relied much on it.

Acastus was fairly certain that this place was magical in nature. Something was blocking his vision. His senses should have gotten used to the darkness by now, but it was still difficult to see and Loleth who usually saw darkness like daylight also was struggling to gaze into the darkness. It was Lanius and his keen sense of smell that noticed the strange metallic scent coming from below. “Acastus.. There is that scent the courier told us to look for. We should be getting near the target now. All they had to find this place was an ancient map, and a description of the target. It had taken them over a month to find this place. They were fortunate to find a sorcerer in Gwynneth, the main isle of the Moonshaes who knew of this place. An old wormwood tree box with mithril joints long as a man’s back. The Pasha was quite the collector and it didn't seem out of place that he would want some old artifact to add to all of the other artifacts in his collection but where had he sent Artium? He had never sent the four on a task separately. Loleth took point and headed downwards, Acastus followed close behind her, with Lanius at their backs. The scent grew stronger as they descended down the glass tower. They moved downwards at a steady pace. The stairway seem to last forever. How deep had they gone? Acastus felt a twinge from the back of his neck, and he reacted instantly. “click, click, cliccck.” He leaned as black bolts with a vinegar odor whizzed by his face, barely missing their mark. Lanius, with agility odd for an orc of his size pulled Acastus by his cloak behind him while drawing his massive two handed mace. Loleth somersaulted forward and five flashes of metal sped away from her in a blink of an eye. They heard a deep gurgle and a language foreign to them. Lanius snorted and muttered “ damn duergar!”

The three saw a sea of movement from below. Loleth drew her ivory dirk, while Lanius moved forward after spitting in disgust. “bleech.. I hate the scent of dark dwarves.” Acastus moved a few steps back and drew his short bow. His senses were still tingling . It wasn't just the duergar here. There was something giving him a migraine.. It was if something was digging into his head. Globes of darkness appeared all over them and complete darkness surrounded them. Acastus heard a crunch as Lanius hit soft flesh with his mace and a deathcry from one of the duergar. He saw Loleth blink out of existence and then heard the gasp of the few duergar nearest to them. Acastus closed his eyes and relied on his keen hearing. Two arrows fired towards the duergar and he heard a grunt as both arrows connected with an audible thunk. The familiar sound of metal against bone and sinew. Acastus put away his bow and unsheathed his short swords. He heard Loleth gasp for air and then silence. He heard a loud thump as Lanius fell unconscious to the stone floor. Acastus felt a sharp pain as something begin to dig into his thoughts.. Thoughts he had kept locked away. The darkness started to fade and he saw Artium with a slight grin on his face, the box in his hands.. Standing next to him, a trio of tentacles faced monstrosities with dim glowing yellow eyes, wearing black robes. His limbs felt limp and he felt his swords slip out of his hands. The world begin to spin as he realized the mist all around them, the scent of rusty steel imprinted in his nostrils. Then it went black.

“The seas of fate”

“thuump” “thump” “thhuump” Acastus felt his heart pounding in his chest, and felt the bright light on his face. The shimmer made his eyes strain, and it made the sharp pain in his head amplify to a fervor. A shadow crossed over him blocking out the light. His small shiv was in his hand instantly as it gently grazed the metal armor it touched in front of him. “Relax, you are safe for the moment. I mean you no harm.” The man’s light blonde hair woven into a long ponytail was what Acastus saw as his sight started to adjust to the sunlight. He could smell the morning dew upon the ground, and the scent of horses nearby. The human was well built. That much was obvious. The full plate armor he wore bore the insignia of two lions holding a shield. A cormyrian knight? Where the hell were they? “Are you well enough to stand?” the man asked.
Acastus glanced around anxious of where his companions had gone. “The others who were with me.. did you see them?” He sat up slowly as his limbs felt numb and his head continued to beat as if someone was pounding his head with a set of clubs. He still had his gear with him at least. Well, mostly everything. His secretly sewn pouch in his leathers was gone and with it , the last payment paid in diamonds by the Pasha. “You were alone, with your face in the river. I would have not seen you if it were not for Mr. Wallaby here.” He motioned to his brown and grey warhorse who also had the trappings of the twin lions holding a shield. “I am Nevir, a Knight of Suzail.” “The Sword is to the north of us and we are just west of the farsea marshes.” (The southern ridges of the Anaurach is also referred to as The Sword)
“My patrols lead me through here. You are very lucky I happened by, it looks as if you've swallowed quite a bit of the swamp waters.” Acastus tried to recall what happened. He remembered seeing the trio of hideous tentacle faced creatures and then a sharp pain in his head as if needles were being thrusted into his skull. Loleth confronting Artium with her daggers, and Lanius falling into a depth of darkness. And then flashes of light, a weight on top of him, sound of metallic boots, crunching of bones, gurgling choking sounds and then a voice whispering “if you would kindly hand that over.” He wasn't sure if it was all in sequence.

There were other flashes mixed in with those images. The cold night air as he low crawled through the retinue of Thayian patrols through the sandy flats to Narfell, just west of Thay and then the dead run into the forest of Lethyr. He could hear the horns ringing in the distance. Very likely, The Red Wizards had discovered the body of Sextus and sent patrols and their scrying wizard eyes to find the culprit. It’s in the forest of Lethyr where He first encountered the odd little halfling named Silus. Without Silus’s maps and his supplies, Acastus might not have made it out of Narfell that evening. Dried bread, and sour wine made for the meal that long evening but it was the first taste of freedom and he liked how that felt. Acastus found out a few things about the outside world beyond Thay and realized that There were others like pappy who could be trusted. He figured out later that Silus was a Harper agent, and their lives tend to get very complicated very quickly. With a hand drawn map, and some dried rations, Acastus parted ways with Silus as the halfling was headed due eastwards where he did not want to be. His destination would be Uthmere, a coastal city where he could find a ship called the RavensClaw where he would find a passage southwest far from Thay.

Acastus shook his head and focused on the present situation. “I could take you far as Tilverton if you wish.” “ I do have some supplies I could part with if you wish to venture through elsewhere.” He had to locate his companions and find out what Artium had done. Acastus took the knight’s generous offer of supplies and the knight Nevir bid him farewell with a knight’s farewell. (a fist across the chest and a bow of the head) Now that he knew his whereabouts, Acastus found a shadow to jump into. The darkness enveloped him and propelled him a long distance to Memnon, city just outside the Calim desert. He wasn't sure what to expect, as he had never failed a task assigned to him. How much time had passed between the City of Shade and the farsea marshes? The shadow door placed him on the outskirts of the city of Memnon. It was evening when it deposited him away from the general populace near a shadow cast by a torch of a guard outpost. The dark path had saved him two weeks of travel time. Acastus overheard the guards at the outpost. “ a rather high bounty by the Pasha.” The other guard spoke “indeed it is, especially for one of their own.” “Well, the Pasha has no tolerance for betrayal.” The first guard responded “ It must have been quite the treasure for them to betray the Pasha.” “Aye, hard to believe but when a reputable wizard comes bearing such a news, it’s hard to dispute.” It’s then Acastus saw the wanted poster. It was a resemblance of him, Loleth and Lanius. Wanted alive for trial and questioning on whereabouts of the 9th shard.. Acastus didn't know what that meant but is that what was in the wormwood box?

More memories of the past distracted him as he pondered the situation at hand. A year had past since his escape from Thay. Acastus had managed to reach the RavensClaw where he met her captain. One by the name of Robert Laslo, also known to the shipmates as the Dread Pirate Robert. Acastus was never certain why he was given such a name as Robert was a polite soft spoken captain and was certainly accommodating to him. The crew obeyed his orders unquestioningly so there was an aspect to this human he could not outwardly see. Acastus was not sure why but he felt at home on the decks looking out to the sea. They had seen much in their voyages. The many coastal cities and towns circling the fallen stars, well as their many encounters with other corsairs which taught him much of close quarter battle. The lessons that Robert taught him in tactics, use of small weapons, well as the many aspects of sailing. The RavensClaw always dropped off in a port in Dalelands where Robert would return with his son Jayne. Acastus learned to trust the crew, Robert and Jayne became an adopted brother to him. And at the port, he would see a girl close to Jayne’s age, already blossoming into full womanhood waving goodbye on their journey back out to sea. Attractive for a human girl but there was something about her that bothered Acastus. It was if there was an unnatural fire in her eyes, hungering to spring forth and set things asunder.

And then the fateful day arrived with a one eyed man named Elias and a ship called the Shimmering Maiden.

“Into the darkness”

Green eyes of the man sparkled wildly in the sunlight, and his unkempt hair whipped about as if it were a wild pony roaming about. Elias looked around the dock and pointed directly in Acastus’s direction. “He’ll bring about the citadels of the fallen ones.” The ships, the “Shimmering Maiden” and the “RavensClaw” were docked side by side. Acastus caught wind of the not so subtle outcry and slowly glanced at the man. It felt as if time simply slowed down to a snail’s pace. He heard whispering in his mind. “This is your memory, it is the truth. You will remember nothing else.” The hissing brackish voices overwhelmed his other senses.. Acastus felt the damp cold stone under him. The voices were all in his mind, giving him a miserable migraine. His vision was blurred but he could make out the chains holding him in place. He listened to his surroundings carefully as his vision was blurred and he could not distinctly make out anything except simple shapes in his surroundings. Three voices, thick in accent, and one clear, cold, and calm voice amongst them is what he heard. “so this netheril device will drain his ability with time so I can transfer it to one of my others?” Acastus heard guttural indecipherable voices respond in a language he could not understand. The calm voice spoke in the guttural tongue and then paused briefly.. “I’ll need to adjust the device.. You say that the alchemist still lives? ah, yes that would make sense. His daughter would make for a good hostage.” “Well, for now we can simply implant the device, and hope the entity does not damage the ability of this one.” The loss of memory is unfortunate though. His knowledge could have been useful assuming he would be willing to part with it.” Acastus heard his own screams as he felt a sharp jagged blade gouge into his back. And then felt oozing tentacles touch the sides of his forehead and a flood of memories. He felt something slithering inside his back, and then to his neck, and an overwhelming pressure in his head. Then darkness came.

The cool breeze awoke him. The slow shifting sound of the planks on the ship relaxed his muscles. Acastus looked up and he found himself laying near the bow of the ship. A slight migraine dulled his senses and he slowly sat up to a man standing near him, holding a mug of steaming liquid. “The journey is underway, are you alright? You've been laying here for quite some time. The crew felt I should check on you. I’m Captain Lorkhan, and you’re on the Shimmering Maiden”. “Have a rest, we have a long journey ahead. Here, have some Cormyrian willowwood tea. It’ll calm your disorientation.” Acastus nodded and found himself sipping the tea. How much time had past and why did the hairs on the back of his neck tingle. He looked around and saw that there were other passengers. Why couldn't he remember? A young olive skinned elven girl balancing on the ropes above, a human with a well trimmed mustache and beard, dressed in seaworthy clothing and leathers, a tall stern woman with a cloak hiding her face standing near a comly elven priestess (by the looks of her) dressed in a velvet long dress, ones usually worn by the nobility, a human woman, shapely with curly red hair standing near the side. It all looked so familiar but something felt off about the entire situation.

A voice at first just a whisper caught Acastus’s attention. It became louder as the words kept repeating over and over again. “You must wake up. don’t let them dig into your thoughts. Wake up! block their thoughts with your will. Think of something, anything..” Everything faded and he imagined a face. He saw a woman, her shapely lithe form , her perfect calm smile, and her eyes sparkled softly in the sunlight.
“That’s it. break free before they return.” He felt the shackles loosen around his wrists and saw the green eyed man looking directly at him. Then he felt the cold damp stone floor of the space there were in. Elias hastily handed Acastus a crumpled up piece of parchment. On it a name was written.. “Robert Laslo”.

“light into shadow”

The green eyed man blinked out of existence. Acastus managed to read his lips before he faded. “stay alive”... He vaguely remembered a package.. It was important that he took it back to Calimshan. He wasn't sure why but it held the answers to what was happening now. His memories took shape in blurry images. Why was the Pasha a woman? Or was it the Pasha? Who was it that he was working for? The only clear thing in his mind was the shape of the package. The grain of the wood was coarse as if it was built in a hurry. There was magic coursing through it. He distinctly remembered the odd tingling sensation on the back of his neck when he lifted it to put it in his travel pack. He carefully folded the crumpled piece of paper.. “Robert Laslo”? who was he and what was the relevance? Only seconds had passed since Elias had vanished. He heard a sound in the diminutive room he was in, and his hand instinctively grasped an object off the hay strewn floor. There was blood, and a not so subtle shriek of a giant rat dying. He held a jagged nail in his hand. The nail was through the rat’s skull and Acastus was poised to strike if there were more but there was but the one. He was famished , and stripped a bit of the rat’s flesh for sustenance. It wasn’t the absolute worst thing to eat.. He recalled it had been worse in the past. Small snippets of memories flooded his thoughts, and he could gather parts of the past when he escaped Thay. Acastus carefully glanced around his surroundings. Water dripped slowly off the damp ceiling, echoing loudly in the small chamber. He saw a small slithering creature donning what looked like a seashell slowly poked by him into a hole in the wall opposite of the metal bars that blocked his way. He saw what looked like glimmering of light from a small crack in the ceiling. His thoughts wandered wildly on his surroundings, his past memories, and the green eyed man. It was hard to distinguish what was real and what was illusion. Perhaps a bit of both? It made Acastus uneasy. His powers of observation had always discerned something. or far as he knew, they always did. The metal bars were too close together and it was impossible to see clearly what was actually beyond that barrier. A migraine interrupted his train of thought.. He heard what sounded like a quiet dull throbbing in his head and then he was no longer in the damp room. He felt cold air in his lungs but it was dark. It was as if the landscape had turned monotone. The grass appeared white, and the skies were completely dark.. Acastus heard whispers around him. It was almost a chanting. It lured him forward in the strange alien environment. Various shadowy shapes shifted all around him, moving in and out of place, as if they were out of sync. Blurry remnants of creatures and beings fluttered in and out of existence. Then, he paused as his breathing seem to slow and he saw the breath exit out of his mouth in slow motion. “How curious, a another walker enters my realm”. A darkness spoke and Acastus felt his limbs stiffen and freeze. The cold metal claws dug into his shoulder and sharp pain caused his entire body to tremble. He kept himself calm by allowing his breath to come naturally.. Why did this darkness call him a walker? “Oh, it’s you.. You look.. different. How odd. You don’t recognize me, do you? Acastus narrowed his eyes and then he saw the lightless visage. Two glimmering points of red orbs glaring back at him.. He could hear his heartbeat louder as it got closer...And then he heard a another heartbeat add to his own, and then a another.. His head erupted into pain.. It felt like he was falling forever as he watched a figure dressed in silver approach the darkness. The light was so bright. It was coming from the figure. Acastus heard a deep resonating voice speak. “He is one of us now, away with you!” He heard a shriek and vision faded..

    Current date/time is Sun May 26, 2019 3:23 pm