Join Date: Mar 2007
Lucent's Demise part 1
The wind rushed north over the Mordeb Sea, gathering strength from the slightly warm waters below, it pushed onwards over the Tehatamani peninsula winding through the rocky crags and grassy plains on its unerring flight. The long dormant pyramids of the Mordebi stood sacrosanct and immoveable as they had for countless ages against the wind, unaffected by the whistling gale. Pressing ever north it carried with it the faint smells of the ocean which lay far to the south, smells that offered a small promise of relief from the harsh sun battering against the Mordebi plains.
Reaching down, Jhavlin gently patted Breeze, his trusty, although seemingly always hungry mount. Breeze looked back acknowledging the gesture then continued chewing happily on its cud. Raising his face to the sky, Jhavlin luxuriated in the slightly cooling breeze as it rushed past. Inhaling deeply, he absorbed that promise of the coast and something else, something out of place. His brow furrowed for the slightest moment, creases appearing in the long tanned and well creased skin as he looked back at his companions.
“What?” Arelius asked the question immediately, seeing his friend’s reaction put him on edge. There had been too many times he had seen that expression immediately followed by death and pain. He loosened the worn battle hammer which hung from his side.
“There is something wrong…something off.” Jhavlin cast his gaze across the jagged rocks that lined the pass before them. Peering to the left and then to the right he looked for the cause of his apprehension.
His companions edged their horses into a semi-circular formation, a practice born from the habits formed during long journeys and countless battles.
“I see nothing.” Maghda stated matter-of-factly from the end of the line. His dwarven eyes squinted in the bright sun, scanning the edges of the pass above them.
“Nor I.” Tullic growled, his orcish tongue always seeming to curve and writhe when speaking common.
Jhavlin looked left over to his long time friend Ari. Ari had that distant glassy look in his eyes, the look that always overcame him when he was manipulating the fabrics of magic. Jhavlin fought down the involuntary shudder that always crept up his spine when witnessing such things. Drawing his gaze away from Ari, he looked again up the path before him.
“See anything Ryzar?” He asked.
Ryzar edged forward a bit examining the terrain around the group. In one fluid motion he jumped from his horse, his large Northman frame landing easily and softly. Scanning the area, Ryzar moved a few steps from the group his warbow held easily at his side. The ranger bent over running his fingers across the hard packed earth.
Ryzar looked back at the group his large powerful frame still crouched, “Nothing. I see nothing but a few scattered animal tracks, a rodent here, a scorpion there. Nothing that is alarming, in any case.”
Uneasy, tense moments passed before the air around Ari crackled slightly, popping as the energies he pushed forth snapped back into his being. Looking to Jhavlin he shook his head slightly.
“There is something that is strange, there is a, well, a distinct lack of anything,” Ari’s mind speak sounded in Jhavlin’s head.
“What do you mean?” Jhavlin thought back to his friend.
“Normally, when I thought scan, I get a sense of life around us. It is sense of the world and the life that exists all around, the insects, the wildlife, remnants that people leave when they pass by. Here, it is barren. There is nothing.”
Jhavlin’s eyes opened wide in sudden recognition of that thing which had eluded him until this moment. Taking a deep breath again, he confirmed his suspicions. There carried upon the breeze that had traveled far from the south and carried the breath of the ocean upon its back was a slightly lesser smell, a very slight but sickeningly sweet smell, the smell of blood, the smell of death, the certain smell of decay.
“Gods no…” Jhavlin kicked hard into Breeze’s sides forcing the mount to spit up his half chewed cud and burst into a gallop. Wordlessly and without pause the band launched after him.
Breeze galloped hard through the pass, outdistancing the crew behind him. The charger pressed forward hard, sensing its masters urgency. The pass before them opened to the vast plains of Mordebi. Crossing the final edge of the pass the band veered left following Jhavlin’s lead as he hugged the eastern cliffs.
“What in Dromgnar’s name is wrong!” Maghda screamed into the wind, his rough and deep voice echoing against the cliffs.
Too soon realization came to Maghda as the band slowed. Before them the remains of the Lucent Order encampment came into view. Battered and burned, the stench of decay rippling from the camp was nearly overpowering.
“Our brothers…” he gasped.
“Dead…” was all the response that Jhavlin could muster forth from his lips. Eyes that had long since been dried from trial and pain renewed themselves once again and became moistened.
The encampment of the Lucent Order, a camp filled with the sworn brothers of both Maghda and Jhavlin, all of them dead. Nothing stirred around the area, no beast nor birds, even the carcasses lay undisturbed by the vultures and insects of the plains. The bloated corpses lay all about, paladins struck down in defense of each other, the practiced defenses and abilities seemed to avail them nothing in the battle that destroyed them. It seemed whatever had destroyed them, had done so with no small effort, some bodies were ripped into pieces destroyed by whatever overwhelming force had taken the outpost. Not a banner was left standing, all effigies despoiled, some tents stood but even they sagged slightly from the weight of the blood and visceral that coated them.
Maghda clumsily lowered his stout frame from his charger. Walking forward into the center of the camp with his hands clenched tightly at his sides, he turned a small circle looking at the devastation around him. Fury burned in the Dwarf’s eyes, an anger born of stone and earth, an anger that could ignite mountains or wrack the land asunder. Maghda reached back and in one lightning fast motion brought his axe forth from it’s resting spot at his side. Whistling through the air the axe came around and over his frame and thudded into the earth before him.
“Here and now, by the blood of my father and of his father’s before him, I swear I will make whoever did this pay!” Maghda ran his hand across the bladed back of the axe, his flesh parting easily to the razor-honed edge. He let the blood run down the head of the axe where it followed the blade, soaking into the split earth beneath.
Jhavlin placed his hand gently upon his sword-brother’s shoulder. “We will find who did this Maghda, and ensure the debt is paid.”
“They fought hard, battled long. Stood to the last and fought. There is great honor in this,” Tullic growled as he looked about the encampment. The orc seemed unconcerned and unbothered by the stench of decay and death. He placed his hand upon Maghda’s other shoulder and gripped him hard. “Strong like you, friend. Tullic will make sure that there is much pain for Maghda’s pain.”
“Ari, Ryzar search about and find out anything you can about what has happened here. We must find out who or what did this, how many, and where they went.”
Saying nothing, Ari and Ryzar both moved off each examining the scene in their own unique ways.
“What does Tullic do?” Tullic asked.
“We must bury the dead. There are customs and rituals to be done.” Jhavlin spoke grimly, with a voice hard like granite.
Maghda nodded wordlessly and rose from the ground ripping his axe from the dense earth. Arelius reached out to comfort his friend and then thought better of it. Dwarves initial response to the death of friends or clansmen was one of anger and rage. Arelius wordlessly lowered his hand, thinking it best for his stout friend to deal with this in his own way, alone for the moment.
There is a saying in the dwarven tongue “Glaphriat ha’ periach bruhgaht’su hoiy, olli bruhgaht ty’a glaphriat ha’ periach ut meniahga domi. Grah krinto grohg dabrechar shea praghdoru,” which translates roughly into; “Death and pain brought to us today, will bring that death and pain to or enemies tomorrow. We mourn when the debt has been paid.” There are twenty-seven variations of the word “debt” in the dwarven tongue, this variation “dabrechar” was the strongest of those twenty-seven, it literally means a life debt, a soul for a soul, a debt that cannot be negotiated or invalidated by any means.
Upon a small rise to the east of the camp the Arelius gently placed the small silver and lead Ashualian symbol back upon its unassuming chain and lowered it over his head, his rituals completed. The sun had long set by the time the work was done and before the group lay forty-eight fresh graves. A small fire had been lit to finish the last of the rituals by its light. Weary and covered in earth Jhavlin sat before the fire his deep green eyes still exsposing the pain that burned inside him.
“What do we know?”
“It is unbelievable. There are no tracks, no prints, no signs of the forces that destroyed them. I looked everywhere, examined everything, and found nothing. Even the areas where the fighting was hardest I can trace only the movements and actions of your order. I have no explanation for it, I am sorry.” Ryzar’s massive shoulders slumped forward in a sign of the defeat he suffered in being unable to help his friends.
“It is the same with me,” Ari’s mind speak echoed in the minds of the group, “Whoever, or rather, whatever did this has eluded my most powerful scryings. Never before have I encountered such a thing. Surely it is a formidable power that has done this. I tried to examine the time weave of this place and found only blackness slightly before the battle was fought, and then, the blackness lifted and there was only the remains of the battle. I can offer no more.”
“What can possibly blot out the time weave?” Jhavlin asked.
“I know not. Before now I had thought such a thing impossible, the past can hold no lies, nor secrets, if it is probed correctly. Something has wiped out that record though, purged it as if it had never happened.”
Looking over at Ari, Jhavlin examined his long time friend’s expression. Typically, Ari’s face never betrayed the hint of anything but supreme calm on the dark elf’s smooth, flawless face, a complexion that defied all efforts of time to mark it. Now was something different though, it was a look of consternation, of confusion. That in itself was more then enough to worry any rational man.
“Well, as much as I hate to say this, that leaves us one option then,” Jhavlin let his gaze travel across the fire and met each of his companions in an even leveled stare, each in turn. “We must go to the necromancer tomorrow then.”
Ryzar’s and Maghda’s sour expression was all that was needed to see how they felt about the matter. Ari was lost still in the musings of what could had altered the weave and Tullic’s sharp teeth tore into a piece of long hard cheese with ease.
“We do what we must.” Tullic said around his mouthful of cheese.
“Aye, we do what we must.” Maghda resigned, the fury still burning fiercely in his slate eyes. If he found sleep tonight it would be in dreams of retribution and pain.
Arelius held Jhavlin's stare for a moment before he spoke, "Fine, but know that I do this only because there is nothing else to be done." His voice was a touch shaky after the countless intonations of cleansing he had performed over the buried dead. As a cleric of Ashual there was little he hated more then the death magic of necromancers, to him a necromancer was a slight step above deamonspawn.
“Alright it is settled. We leave at first light then.” Jhavlin said rising from the fireside and stepped off into the night.
Jhavlin lay down well outside the light and warmth of the fire and allowed the blackness of the night to swallow him. Closing his eyes he prayed for the souls and happiness in the afterlife for all his fallen brothers. Then, weary from the day’s pain and anguish he let himself fall to the predator of sleep, releasing himself to his dreams.