“The ritual must continue.”
- - ???
The first part of our story begins in the frozen north, in the Frontier, once a wondrous land - as wonderous as the land ruled over by fascist xenophobes can be, that is. And then- and then... it was... scarred. Devastated, split in half, warped by a sorcerous cataclysm unlike any other - though, if you heard other stories of mine, you would probably know shatterings much grander than that, hah! Since then men came to call the thing that destroyed their... just that - the Scarring - and then, forgot it. Having given name to it, they deluded themselves into believing that they were safe from the cataclysm's further wrath. They were wrong, wrong, but there was only one man who understood that - hah! not even a man, but a boy, yes, like you once were and like I, ages ago in times gone by, was... ah, the memories.
His name was Valdemar, a mage of the Imperial Academy of Saphronia. Once, before the Scarring, he knew a girl named Sefarina - ah, and what a romantic story it was, and how delightfully beautiful their love was!.. except that there wasn't any. They were just that - friends, because you see, the boy was a bookworm and did not really have much time to think about these big things that come in pairs and attract men. Whence the cataclysm came, they were separated - Valdemar escaped, Sefarina, alas, did not. The older mages told the boy that all things in the corrupted land were gone, dead, and the boy mourned his girl - almost as strongly as he mourned his beloved Imperial library.
Then, one day, she came. A girl from the dead north, into his house. Pale, bleeding as if she was impaled on a few spears like a cushion, she knelt before Valdemar and said but one word before dying in his hands.
She was alive, out there in the scarred lands.
It was then when the hero of our story realised the awful truth and strode to find out what really happened to his friend, his home, and, what was most importantly, his beloved books...
The Journey BeginsEdit
Valdemar strode swiftly through the snowy roads of the Frontier atop a slender, gray horse, his frail caricature of a figure cloaked in grey robes - barely enough to protect the young mage from the remorseless cold of Saphronian winter. Yet, his steed was steadfast, and Valdemar trusted it. A horse stolen from the Hetmanate's finest stables and charmed with the most potent domination spells the human mage knew, it obeyed his commands without a second thought and gallopped into a raging blizzard that could kill a man in seconds fearlessly.
Finally, as the snowstorm began to vanish, Valdemar could at last see the place he had desired to visit. Gorrinholdt, the Klaxxa colony in the Frontier Lands. The dragonlings of Ar-Klith were ingenious craftsmen, but also somewhat unscurpulous, and that was exactly why he was going to visit their town. Yet, doubt also beset him. What would Klaxxa think of him, a human? Would they agree to help him? Would the mercenaries he had called for come to his aid?
Klaxxa Guard - Halt. - a tall, dark-scaled Klaxxa dressed in a bright furred attire and holding a gun twice as long as his own body, stared at the human. Valdemar leaned back.
Valdemar - I am... Valdemar Mistvood of ze Saphronian Hetmanate... - Valdemar coughed, his Saphronisn accent slipping as he attempted to communicate with the Klaxxa in his own native tongue - I mean no harm to Gorrinholdt. I am a traveler.
Klaxxa Guard - ...Hm. You do not appear to harbour ill intentions. You may proceed.'"
Wasting no more time Valdemar rushed through the clockwork gates of the Klaxxa town. Valdemar couldn't help but admire the view of the buildings. Grey, built of stone and steel, they neverthless appeared quite beautiful, baroque, yet also bore the mark of the Klaxxa race's industrial prowess. Gears were spinning everywhere. Smog rose to the air, covering the sky with its pure blackness. Steam engines roared.
Valdemar - [The tavern must be somewhere here.] - Valdemar rode his horse to the largest building in the town - apparently built to accomodate creatures larger than Klaxxa. It looked shanty. Even far away from it, he could hear the voices of drunken men - and women - inside it, as well as some noise that indicated a brawl. Just what he needed. Valdemar left his horse close to the tavern, in the stables, and walked inside.
Human - What did you say about my mother?!
Klaxxa - I said, gentleman, that she was a figure of such admirable bulk that men fell upon witnessing her awe-inspiring corpulence.
Human - ...What? - the human in the tavern slammed his Klaxxa barmate with his fist, who promptly flew away. His opponent continued making rude gestures. Valdemar sighed.
Valdemar - I expected more civilisation, honestly. - a smirk appeared on the human mage's strangely crystallised face - This is Valdemar from Morjegrad. Who here wants to get rich?
Klaxxa and Human - We do! - the two drunken slobs cried in a sudden unison - and then, suddenly, were interrupted.
Entering through the bar, was a man. Or at least, something that looked like a man. He stood of some daunting height, nearing seven and a half feet tall, and his body was draped in tattered robes, and bandages that seemed blood-soaked. His head was covered in a hood, and a mask which seemed to have multiple faces on it blocked his visage entirely. He was hunched over, and his body shape was powerful in bulk. His hands were covered by more blood soaked bandages and metallic chains which seemed to shape up through his robes. To mask what smelled like decomposition, many powerful spices were possibly stuffed in his mask or his robes. On his robes, was the mark of the Order of the Black Sun; anarchic cultists from the southern reaches of the world.
Pushing the drunkards aside with a casual shove, was another figure. A woman. A drow woman. Her skin as dark as night, she wore a rather fancy, high-class array of attire; a jacket, an unbuttoned shirt beneath that, and tight-fitting trousers with multiple pockets, held up by multiple straps and belts across her waist, upon which she carried additional pockets and slots for weaponry. The weapons slotted in question were a pair of cutlasses of drow design, making them elegant yet serrated and brutal, and a Klaxxa pistol. She wore a hat over her long, decorative hair of almost-white blonde, and a blindfold that hid her eyes.
??? - So...I am not late then? - the dark creature spoke - his voice was croaked and strange, and almost sounding like two or three voices in unison. Whatever was under those robes clearly was not a man. Right on time? ...Early?
Drow Woman - I might just take you up on that offer, mate. - the woman's face was elegantly carved and enticing, as was the nature of all drow, although her eyes remained unseen by the human. It was a curious feature, one must wonder why such a woman with a blindfold wouldn't require the use of aid such as a walking stick or guide.
Valdemar - ...Right. - the human mage looked around. These were... interesting people. He sure didn't feel right about them - he was never that close to nonhumans before - but he sure felt safer - If so, I would like to present you an offer. And I will pay in kind. - Valdemar took a bag of coins from his backpack - a sizeable one at that - and showed it to the visitors of the tavern.
The creature then stood up to his full height. Bones crunched in his back, as if it was not his natural posture. His height was perhaps closer to eight feet than seven feet when fully standing.
??? - If you present me your offer now...what is stopping me from killing you right now and going back south?
Drow Woman - I. The drow woman took a glance towards the colossus and stepped to him, smiling deviously as she folded her arms confidently.
??? - Admirable. But pretty girls like you don't stop me from eating you...or otherwise. Like dancing with you...or...
Valdemar - ...Alright, enough... bantering. 500 human Royal Aurals. For each of you.
??? - Five hundred? Caedes...might find that useful. For gluing the coins...to a sixteen year old virgin.
Valdemar - What? But that's- - suddenly, one more figure appeared the the inn. On the tavern's floor, a golden, radiant, eye-shaped sigil suddenly manifested, and from the ground, a golden spectre of a human knight rose, putting his arms up as he made himself visible. Valdemar stepped back, instinctively raising his hand and whispering an incantation.
Norrigan - Praise Isiris! - the golden aura around the knight slowly dimished, and the sigil disappeared. The knight looked forward and begin shouting, cheerfully. The tall figure looked at Norrigan, inquisitive.
Valdemar - I'm an Imperial Sigilite Mage. Don't get any closer, ghost!- wait, what? - Valdemar lowered his arm.
??? - ...What are you, spectre? A spectre? Spectral?
Norrigan - Yes! Spectre! I'm a dead man!
Valdemar - I know the rites! I can b-b-b-anish you!
The drow woman turned towards the knight that had mysteriously managed to appear in the center of the tavern. She raised an eyebrow and approached Norrigan, circling him curiously.
Norrigan - Oh, no! Don't! I'm here to help you!
Valdemar - So, I'm going to have a ghost bodyguard?
Norrigan - Yep, pretty much. The voice from beyond summoned me to this land, and told me to follow you. For what purpose? I don't know. And who the voice was? Perhaps Isiris if I'm lucky enough. Hahahahaha!
Drow Woman - Yep, that's a spectre alright mate. Ain't seen one of these for decades. A friendly one, at least.
Valdemar - By Pheonas... - the human mage shook his head - A drow, a ghost, and... whoever you are. This is going to be crazy.
??? - A spectre, man...woman, and ourself.
Norrigan - I'm quite friendly. Nothing makes me happier than some jolly cooperation between warriors.
??? - Allow us introduce ourself. We call ourselves Vultusk Kychtdar. High Priests of the Order of the Black Sun.
Valdemar - Yeah, ssshuure. - Valdemar exhaled heavily, trying not to panic.
Norrigan - Have no worries, fellow human. I will be your knight in shining armor.
Valdemar - And... what of you, mi-ilady? - Valdemsr turned to the drow.
Drow Woman - Well, allow me to introduce myself, mate. - Suddenly, the drow woman turned towards a table where more drunkards were lazily lounging, before leaping from the ground and hopping onto the surface of the tablet, kicking away their drinks, coins, and game board. She then turned to the group and opened her arms, raising her voice confidently - You're talking to the one and only Ryza Yazzalarn, most infamous pirate of the north!
Norrigan - Hm. Never heard of you. Sorry.
Valdemar - Avast your booty.
Ryza - Something's going to avast, I'll tell you that for nothing, matey.
Vultusk - Drow? Blood Elf?
Ryza - Yes to the first, no to the second, big man.
Vultusk - Why not?
Ryza - Do I look like one of them pansie elf lasses to you, mate?
Vultusk - To us...girl.
Norrigan - All this friendship has distracted me. What is our mission again?
Valdemar - Ahem.- the mage slammed his staff into the floor - I assume you came here for money, don't you? My name is Valdemar Mistwood, and I am about to present you an opportunity to explore some... ruins in the frontier. There will be treasure there - and I am going to pay.
Human - And where exactly are we going?
Valdemar - The Scar.
Norrigan - Scar?
Vultusk - Many scars.
Human - Alright, the sc- WHAT?! - the drunkard spit out his drink.
Ryza - I'll have what he's havin'.
Valdemar - The land north from here. There were human and orc settlements here, before a tide of chaotic magic swept through them.
Human - It is dead! No man came there and returned! I ain't going with you, and neither does my... friend here.
Vultusk - The Black Sun?! - Vultusk jolted quickly - a shamble of bones was heard under his robes as the term 'chaotic magic' was heard.
Klaxxa - Nobody knows.
Ryza - That so, eh?
Valdemar - I suggest we explore that place. There are... things I'd like to see there.
Vultusk - We...wish to know what is up there. Chaotic magics...perhaps...the Black Sun has finally come to us.
Norrigan - Going to an evil place full of evil energies. I can see why I was summoned now. I must vanquish the evil energies!
Ryza - I don't know bout you bilge rats, but it sounds like some unfortunate land lubbers opened somethin' that weren't theirs.
??? - And that is for men of science like myself to unravel. - A small, draconic sillhouette wearing a helmet flew from the opposite part of the tavern, sitting on one of the chairs. He was soon followed by a tall, scarred human clad in heavy armour, with a hood hiding his face; to some a dark presence could be felt upon his body. He looked at the group through the shadows of his cloak, glaring with cold eyes, observing everyone. His person was laden with weapons - daggers, a shortwsord, a greatsword and a set of javelins.
Ryza - Oi up, me hearties, look what we have 'ere then.
Norrigan - Good! More warriors to cooperate with!
Vultusk - Another human? ...We are beginning to think that we could be made of finer form...
'Lekren - Lekrenad of clan Laxandsar - the Klaxxa smiled as he took vials, machines and potions from his backpack - And this is my friend, Marcos Ridgewood.
Marcos - I prefer to wander alone...whoever you all are.
Norrigan - You must be a very lonely man then. I'll teach you what a good partnership is all about.
Valdemar - Good! A human!
Norrigan - Silly, I'm also human.
Marcos - "Teach" me?
Ryza jumped off of the table and approached the human confidently. Although she could not see him, she could definitely feel and identify his presence, and did stop walking until she was up in his face, grinning widely before placing a finger on Marcos' chest.
Ryza - I'll have you know, mate, that you happen to be talking to Ryza Yazzalarn. CAPTAIN Ryza Yazzalarn, that's who the bloody hell I am, mate!
Norrigan - Yes, teach! Through our quest! You'll see that working on a team is much more satisfying than working alone.
Marcos glared at the Drow who walked up to him and gave her a cold look, although fully aware she could not see it.
Marcos - You speak like the former baron of Redshire has never worked with anyone in his life.
Norrigan - I've never heard of Redshine, so I have nothing else to assume.
Ryza - Redshire? You mean that scanty armpit of a town, the one that got raided by them weird lads?
Vultusk - Kill each other...and I can rebuild myself better...
Marcos glared to Ryza and moved his hand to grip the handle of his longsword.
Valdemar - I heard it was a beautiful place.
Marcos - The only shame in that assault was that the raiders needed to vastly outnumber my own knights.
Norrigan - Hm. I know how that feels. That's how the Knights of the All-Seeing were wiped out.
Ryza - Avast your arms, mate, twas only havin' a laugh. - Ryza reached out a hand on Marcos' own as he touched his longsword and passed a smile to him, chuckling to herself - Never been to Redshire myself, cuz you know, humans and all.
Vultusk - Are we going north... - Vultusk walked over to the door, flinging it open. Or am I eating you all?
Norrigan - Good luck eating me, friend. I am all metal and no meat.
Marcos - I am only passing through. Unless there is proper reason for venturing though the Frontier.
Valdemar - Money. 500 Imperial Aurums.
Vultusk - We say that the Black Sun is further north. Chaotic energies. Dead dying. Life living. Confetti falling.
Norrigan - Confetti? I don't know what that is but I like the word already.
Marcos - So evil is rising. Fine.
Ryza - You hear that, humie? 500 doubloons, that's reason enough for me.
Norrigan - My only reason is vanquishing the evil. I have no need for money.
Vultusk - No such thing as evil. No such thing as good. Only chaos...and those who revel in it.
Marcos - I suppose the Aurums will support me for a few winters.
Ryza - Tally ho, then, ladies! We ain't gonna get anythin' done around here if we spend all our time chattering and squawking now are we?
Norrigan - Indeed! Onward, to our quest!
'Valdemar - And what of you, Klaxxa?'
Lekren - I will go with you. I have... my own reasons.
Valdemar - Very well. Board the zeppelins and onward!
- None hur