Chapter 42 - Reintroductions

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CONTENT

Scene 1 - Light and Darkness

William meets thorn. He is a death knight and knows who Williams father is. After a brief talk thorn is aware of Marlene. Thorn is the son of Luz.

Scene 2 - Homecoming

Fizbin goes to his family homes and takes care of his mother. He has a “dream” of his fathers ghost. The talk and it is explained that his father loves him. FINISH SCENE Get the book teleport father keep.

Scene 3 - Face to Face

Arthus slid over to get a better view of the intruders in the mirror and saw four men clad in Blackguard robes and armor. Three of the men were young, and clearly nervous, the fourth was more seasoned. Arthus sized them up while listening to them talking about their plan to safely exit the city. Two of the younger men were apprentice wizards, the other was a scout, and the older man was a novice battle-mage.

They placed the large item they were carrying on top of a table and pulled the sheets off revealing a large basin with several runes carved along the rim. Arthus immediately thought back to the scrying pool in the basement of the library in Solace, and he got a bad feeling.

As they studied the large basin the four men discussed how they would get out of the city without being cut down by the King’s forces. They had some money and plain clothes stashed upstairs, and would conceal the basin with magic until they were safely away. The older wizard cast a spell to hide the basin, but the magic was simply absorbed.

The shocked mages discussed how to activate it and in turn they each contributed a small amount of their own blood to power the device. As the blood dripped into the basin Arthus could feel an unseen force pulling at him. Suddenly he realized that he was no longer invisible and thanked his lucky stars that he had not gotten careless and come out of his hiding spot.

Arthus noticed that several of the runes on the rim of the basin were now glowing with eldritch energy. The wizards noticed this as well and began chanting a few minor incantations to power the remaining runes.

The pit in Arthus’ stomach went from bad to worse as the basin hummed to life. He could feel a powerful presence in the room, but he dare not try to get a closer look. Within a few moments the Blackguard began acting very strangely. One of the young adepts stumbled forward as if being dragged by an invisible force, raised his dagger to his throat, and slit it deep. His body collapsed over the basin and his life’s blood poured in.

To the horror of the other three men, their comrade lurched up out of the basin with blood pouring down his body, and stumbled out into the city.

A voice drifted out of the basin instructing the two younger men to return to Gerald’s chamber and retrieve “it.” Arthus had only a moment to decide who to stay on, so he slipped out the door and followed the two men back to the bath house.

Arthus carefully shadowed the two men across the city. They moved faster and faster, becoming more inhuman with every passing minute. Arthus realized that they were somehow feeding on their own life force to gain extraordinary powers, but would soon deplete themselves and die.

By the time they reached the bath house the Blackguard were nearly impossible for Arthus to keep up with. If they had not stopped Arthus would have had no chance of pursuing them without Alec’s help.

They made their way to the now familiar chamber on the third floor where only a few hours earlier Arthus, Fizbin, and Alec had “dethroned” Gerald.

Arthus waited in the stairwell for the right moment, ready to pounce on his quarry. The young mage began loosening a brick in the far wall, and the scout stood guard a few feet away. Arthus knew this would be his only chance, and he took it.

Springing up from the stairwell Arthus slid to a stop behind the unsuspecting mage, using his momentum to drive both slender blades up under his ribcage. He ripped the blades free, spun and used his saber to take the mage’s head before either of the Blackguard could even react.

Arthus ducked under a wild swing and scored a viscious wound on the scout’s hamstring. The scout had recovered well enough from Arthus’ ambush and he went on the offensive.

There was little left of the young Blackguard’s humanity by now, and Arthus found himself focused on deflecting the incoming strikes and trying to keep his foe from destroying whatever was in the stone behind him.

Arthus’ guard proved too much for the novice swordsman, and he lunged wildly trying to catch Arthus off guard. It worked. Arthus struggled to free himself from the grasp of the Blackguard, but he found himself battling against a creature whose arms began extending and retracting in a grotesque display of wrestling. Arthus would break free only to find the creature’s misshapen arms bending and dislocating at fantastic angles to grab him again.

The stalemate lasted quite a bit longer than Arthus liked, and he finally managed to kick himself free and land a few telling strikes. Arthus moved more deliberately and made sure to keep his opponent guessing, opting for dealing minor wounds until his opponent’s endurance gave out.

Arthus finally managed to create an opening and finished off the twisted Blackguard with a flurry of wicked strikes to the kidneys. As the creature dropped Arthus cleaned his blades and finished gathering the items they had failed to find in his last visit.

Arthus found a detailed map drawn on what he hoped was not human skin that detailed several key locations on Sommerset Isle. It revealed the location of Alec’s Instrumentality as well as Sirillius’ two remaining phylacteries. Arthus stowed the map with a shiver and found his eyes drawn to a small silver flute.

The flute was of fine craft, but was not enchanted as far as he could tell. As he picked it up, however, the now familiar wave of vertigo washed over him and he was standing in the center of a massive pavilion tent.

He found himself dressed in elaborate hunting attire complete with field jacket, riding pants, several weapon belts, and a safari hat with a large feather. All around him were exotic and fantastic creatures, and he could feel the eyes of the thousands of riveted guests in the crowd as he addressed them in a booming voice.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the newest and rarest addition to our incredible menagerie!”

Arthus pulled the flute from inside his jacket and played a few simple notes. With a rush, a 40 foot long worm burst from beneath the center ring only a few feet from the Ringmaster. The sand worm climbed until it was two-thirds of the way to the top of the tent and then swept down and began circling the entire arena.

“The mighty Sand Worm! Straight from the deserts of Akaviir and the only such creature ever tamed!”

Arthus’ vision faded back to the steam filled bath chamber and he nodded in self- satisfaction as he spun the flute in his hands and placed it in his pack. “I always have the best hats!” he smiled, took one last look around and sped back to the Towering Oak to deal with the last of the Blackguard.

Arthus broke out of his run a few blocks from the tavern in order to catch his breath. He fully intended to get the drop on the last of the intruders, but as he crept into the bar room, he realized he was alone.

He quickly noticed the large hole in the roof, and wondered what had torn it open. As his eyes scanned the room, Arthus could not help but discover the remains of a foul ritual that had clearly taken place in the short time he was gone. Mangled and desiccated remains littered the floor of the large central room, and the symbols and circles drawn out in blood were clear evidence of the necromancy and demonology that were practiced.

Arthus turned away from the horrible scene, but could not help but observe that the magic used here was well beyond the abilities of the Blackguard battle-mage who he had seen earlier.

With that thought Arthus felt the magic in the now fragmented basin crackle to life once again. He pivoted around on one heel and looked into the pool of blood still held by the half circle and found himself looking into the eyes of Jennesta herself.

Everything about her was enthralling and venomous. Just looking at her, Arthus understood how she could command the vast armies of Aragonia and beyond. As she spoke, Arthus felt his poker face fail. So practiced and natural that it was not a poker face at all any more, he had simply trained himself to remain calm and collected in any situation, to reveal only what he wished to his adversaries. Any situation, that is, except staring eye to eye with a demigod. Jennesta’s unearthly beauty was overwhelming and the potency of her will radiated from her in waves.

Arthus and Jenneseta traded pleasantries that were dripping with thinly veiled contempt. Her words felt like sharpened fingernails raking over his very soul and he found himself enraged by her attempts to devour his will like so many of her witless minions.

Jennesta taunted him with Lilith’s pain as she toyed with the instrumentality which hung helplessly in front of her. Arthus’ hands clenched into fists and he could barely stand the feeling of his own uselessness.

Then, with Jennesta’s gaze leveled at him, Arthus found himself besieged with the infinite possibilities that Jennesta presented. She, like Arthus was Unfated, an extremely rare gift that left the person in question untethered by destiny. Until now, Arthus was content to let the odd glimpse of his possibilities come into focus, but had avoided trying to focus directly on his own timelines. Looking at Jennesta was almost too much. Thousands, maybe millions of visions layered over each other showing Arthus and Jennesta in various states of their relationship. He knew that Jennesta meant to show him these things specifically, and that these were only the possibilities related to a particular course of events involving the two of them, to push further would be beyond his ability to control, so he pulled away.

“Sorry to disappoint you Jennesta, but you’ll have to find another King to call sire.” Arthus said with no shortage of scorn in his voice as he blinked hard to clear his head.

With that Jennesta’s image faded and the last of the Blackguard’s blood burned away. Arthus shook out his hair and fixed his bandana, but before he could complete a long sigh he heard the ring of a hammer striking an anvil. It was an unmistakable sound that sent Arthus rushing out of the bar and sprinting down the street to find William.

Arthus was running at top speed when the crack of a shadow hound materializing in front of him caught him b surprise. Arthus leapt to the side and rolled, drawing his blades as he sprung to his feet. The hound pounced at him and Arthus slipped side to side and bolted toward the sound of the striking hammer.

The sound led Arthus to the doors of a church dedicated to the goddess Selune. As he closed on the church the shadow hound bayed and vanished in a cloud of smoke. Arthus burst in through the large oak doors and saw several bodies strewn about the room. He immediately locked eyes on Alec’s root pouch clutched in the hand of one of the dead. Arthus grabbed it and noticed it was almost completely empty. Scanning the room he saw many arrows and the telling blue blood that made his heart sink.

Arthus called out for Alec as he searched the chamber. Soon he heard William’s voice calling from outside. Arthus climbed the long winding staircase of the tower where William was perched.

As he got to the top, he saw William staring into the sky. Arthus followed his gaze and saw the silhouette of something flying away from them. William confirmed that whatever it was it had Alec. Arthus slumped to the floor and rested his head against the wall, exhausted. He confided most of the day’s events to William and confessed that he sometimes envied William’s single-minded focus. After Arthus had regained his breath they exited the tower and headed into the marketplace to look for a drink.

Cut Scene

Marlene – running through the woods
Alec – is in a cage with a young woman he is running out of the root
The Nyad Dad – Goes back to the house and sees the open fire place and sniffs it


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last edited by CaptainMonstrousCaptainMonstrous


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