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ZONE - The Forbidden Halls of Clan Dimmlundar


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#1 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:14 AM

After much hardship and on a path fraught with danger, the adventurers finally made their way into the Jagged Edge. They pushed forward, ignoring everything they came across that could have served as any kind of distraction from their goals, and doggedly pursuing the quickest path possible in as much silence as they could manage, as everyone seemed to have something they wanted to keep to themselves.

 

While a trip through the Edge should have been suicide for anyone, the adventurers were exceptionally lucky in that they managed to avoid too much trouble. The gods clearly smiled upon them... all of them, as the new moon offered a great deal of comfort to those who knew of its terrible power.

 

Eventually, they reached the door Agni had spoken of. It was so old now even the Dwarven stonework had worn with age, and writing all around it told all travelers to beware - in nearly every language one could imagine, not only Dwarven. Upon reaching it, they could not help but wonder... Exactly how had Agni expected them to get inside an ancient, sealed door, even if this was considered a secret back-door not meant for use, rather than the enormous gates that had been so impenetrably sealed by the dwarves?

 

That answer became apparent when, upon further investigation, they found wards upon the ground that looked recently drawn... and the massive stone doors opened on their own with a mere touch. What wards these were, they knew not, but they were effective at keeping things out, it seemed... If anything even knew of this door, which, from the desertion, it seemed no one did but them.

 

One thing was for certain, however: someone, or something, had been here recently.

 

No matter the case, the adventurers prepared to enter. Some lit torches ((Please specify if your character did or not, if you have one in your inventory; if you do, your torch is lit and will burn out when I say so, and be removed from your inventory)), and it was so dark in the tunnels ahead that even Valya and Garandros had trouble focusing upon anything in the shadows.

 

Down they descended, deeper into the halls, into an ever-growing darkness... A strange feeling came over them then, as if their very mortal souls knew something here was terribly wrong. Evil radiated so powerfully that the very air was full of it - feelings of despair, of sorrow, of wrath, of greed...

 

And then they stepped out onto a ledge - and they saw the Forbidden Halls of Clan Dimmlundar stretched out before them.

 

---

 

They were truly a breathtaking sight. Seemingly endless streets reached far into the distance of Nidavellir, and each great, geometric building of stone - some perhaps once gilded with gold in places, but now long since torn to pieces by greedy demons - looked like a craftsman's masterpiece. Various glowing gems still stood in lanterns along the streets and mounted in buildings, illuminating everything in glows of various hues, unlike anything seen anywhere in the mortal realm.

 

In the center of the city stood the greatest building of them all, reaching almost to the ceiling of this entire world. Whatever flags had once been draped down its sides were stolen, burned, or ripped to shreds.

 

And yet an unnatural quiet lay upon the place. What was once a bustling Dwarven city now stood completely still, barren. Down here, there wasn't even wind to stir the silence. Now and then, they heard the distant, echoing drip of a stalactite. All they had to keep them company was the crisp chill of the underground air... Oh, and each other.

 

They descended a long, winding staircase down to the city streets, becoming lost in a utopia of ancient Dwarven architecture. So far, everything seemed peaceful - if one found the unmistakable touch of death peaceful. But nothing moved, and they heard no signs of life to disturb them... though each and every one of the adventurers felt a strange heaviness, a sense of dread, hanging thick in the air. It seemed strange, and yet even the least experienced among them knew this feeling: it was evil. Evil, in its purest form, that haunted the entire city... an evil so powerful its very presence weighed upon their souls.

 

They would have to find Dáinsleif, the sword of the former king, quickly, if they wanted to complete their mission - and get out alive... But there was also the knowledge that anything they found in this entire city was theirs to keep.

 

As they moved through the streets, they realized it would take some time to reach the enormous building in the center - whatever it was. However, there were other structures of interest in the general vicinity already, including:

  • Temple - A temple to unknown gods, as all places meant to bear holy symbols were long since destroyed. But such a place could easily hold something of interest, or at least perhaps information - on the evils that lurked in the city, if nothing else.
  • Tavern - Always a center of local culture, though it was highly doubtful they would find anyone alive. Still, perhaps some old evidence of the culture here still lingered in the tavern - or perhaps some priceless old Dwarven drinks.
  • District hall - A district hall, meant as a government seat for the populace of this one area of the city. Perhaps some records could be found there giving some indication of where Dáinsleif was being kept... along with some other treasures.
  • Blacksmith - Anything to be found in an ancient dwarven smithy was surely of interest - if not to them, then certainly to anyone on the surface. Anything found there could be almost priceless.
  • Homes - Perhaps containing useful information, not only to them, but something to bring back and sell or give to scholars on the surface - and, besides, the homes could very well contain lots of little baubles and trinkets that could be sold for a great deal, simply because they came from the long-dead civilization of Clan Dimmlundar.

 

Where the adventurers started looking was up to them.


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#2 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:53 PM

Malvolio looked around the Dwarven city: a part of him was awed by the city's majesty, even if it had been tarnished, but more of him was concerned by the overall feeling of evil in this place. Who knew how many demons were in this place?

 

"We should get in and get out as soon as possible," the Templar said as he raised the lit torch that he had found "I prefer not to have my head stuck on some demon's spear."

 

Malvolio glanced back at the group as he moved off into the city "We should head towards the District Hall: maybe we'll find some records about where Dainsleif is...was held."

 

---

 

Agethar glanced around at the Dwarven halls, too in awe of the place to pay attention to anything anyone else was saying.

 

Maugrimm, on the other hand, paced back and forth, ready to head into the city and look for the Dwarven sword.

 

---

 

While the others were still trying to figure out where they were going, Huo entered the city wordlessly.

 

As soon as the Priest was far away enough from the others, he spoke aloud the spell that would grant him his sight again.

 

Huo braced himself for what he would see; who knew what glancing into the spirit world in this place would be like.

 

 



#3 Burger Warrior

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:47 AM

Korvarl had largely stayed silent for his own reasons as the group made their way to the Forbidden Halls, musing over their quest, his poor choice in companions… and the one exception to that, the beautiful Elnira. He often had trouble not staring at her, and with every passing night it seemed his love - and jealousy, when any of the other men in the party so much as glanced at her - only grew.

 

It was, for Elnira, probably a little creepy by the time they headed down below.

 

In any case, Silvershield stayed as close to her as he dared - which was pretty much as close as she made it clear his limits were - holding his own lit torch aloft as the party headed down into Clan Dimmlundar’s ancient home. Of course, with the glowing crystals he realized that was a waste of a torch, but by then it was far too late. The regret that came with that realization only made the weight of pure evil settle heavier on Korvarl’s soul; even the sight of Elnira being herself could not alleviate the darkness of this place.

 

For the first time on this journey, Silvershield truly regretted his decision to join.

 

"We should get in and get out as soon as possible," the Templar, Malvolio, said as he raised the lit torch that he had found. "I prefer not to have my head stuck on some demon's spear."

 

He turned back toward the group. "We should head towards the District Hall: maybe we'll find some records about where Dainsleif is...was held."

 

Korvarl brushed past him, leaving Elnira’s side for the first time since they’d taken leave of Arrowfall. “Well dun’t jus’ talk about goin’ there, get movin’!” He growled, having no patience for the human just standing about. Silvershield briefly considered putting out his torch so he was less of a target for whatever monsters still lurked in the shadows, but they’d probably heard him coming anyway. May as well be able to see them, too.

 

In any case, Korvarl Silvershield made surprisingly good progress towards the District Hall despite his short legs and heavy armor. It seemed this was the fastest he’d moved since any of the others had laid eyes on the dwarf.

 

-----

 

Percula had remained openly with the group since she met them - well, a few of them, anyway - at Arrowfall, keeping close to Caiden as they headed into the Jagged Edge. She didn’t vanish again, but like Korvarl with Elnira, the pixie in disguise pretty much always stayed at Caid’s side during their travel into the Forbidden Halls.

 

Naturally, once they were inside, her curiosity overwhelmed her urge to stay by Caiden as well as the gloom that seemed to weigh so heavily on everyone else. It was a small miracle that Percula managed not to glow or take off flying through the strangely empty halls. Granted, she did just about everything short of that.

 

“WHOOOAAAA!” She echoed Agethar’s apparent amazement a lot more verbally. A lot lot more verbally. “This place is so cool!” Percula went on at only a slightly lower volume, glancing back at Caiden only long enough to catch his wrist, which was quite a feat, considering the diameter of said muscle-bound wrist. “C’mon, c’mooon! There’s gotta be all sorts of stuff in here!” Saffron urged him, not unlike a child in a shop stocked with a multitude of sweets.


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#4 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:28 AM

 “Well dun’t jus’ talk about goin’ there, get movin’!

 

Malvolio bit back a retort, as he had been walking down the stairs before the dwarf pushed past him, and continued down the stairs in silence.

 

Soon, he had to break into a quick jog in order to keep up with Korvarl, as the dwarf was moving surprisingly fast for someone in all that heavy armor.

 

Malvolio didn't mind,however, as a small part of him didn't mind if the dwarf was the first to run headlong into danger instead of him.

 

---

 

WHOOOAAAA! This place is so cool! C’mon, c’mooon! There’s gotta be all sorts of stuff in here!

 

Agethar followed the pair in a daze, as he was still in awe of the dwarven city, with Maugrimm following close behind.

 

---

 

Huo Shiye continued to make his way towards the temple, still the only one headed in that direction.

 

Every once in a while, he would glance back and see the shapes of the others as they made their way into the city.

 

The Priest continued to make his way towards the temple regardless, trying not to think about the overwhelming sense of evil emanating from the very stones beneath his feet - and what he had seen when he first renewed his sight in the cursed city. 



#5 Sareth

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 08:12 AM

Valya had spoken little, if at all, during the journey to the door. However, her greatest fear had not come to pass---the moon had remained weak and hidden during the trip. The Gods, it seemed, smiled upon them.

 

She did not bother with a torch as they made their way through the tunnels; the light from those carried by others was sufficient for her. Although she nearly began to regret that choice as they made their way deeper, the air taking on a oppressive, almost hostile quality.

 

The wonders of the Halls of Clan Dimmlundar were lost on her. All she saw amongst the ruined grandeur was a myriad of places for enemies to hide.

 

While they spent a few moments deciding on a destination, she looked around. On a personal level, the blacksmithy was the only thing that held any appeal---weapons and armor she could always appreciate. However, she rather doubted an ancient, famous sword like the one they sought would be found simply  lying on an anvil, and the others decided to head to the District Hall. Well, maybe later.

 

Drawing her sword, letting the long blade hang easily in one hand, she moved to the front of the group, leading the way to the indicated structure, easily keeping up with Korvarl's---relatively, for a dwarf--- quick pace. Her eyes continually swept from side to side, and her other senses stretched themselves to their considerable limits, alert for any sign of danger in the gloom.

 

***

 

The Halls of Clan Dimmlundar were truly a breathtaking sight---almost literally; Allya was struck briefly speechless as she got her first glimpse of them.

 

WHOOOAAAA! This place is so cool! C’mon, c’mooon! There’s gotta be all sorts of stuff in here!

 

"Indeed" she muttered, mostly to herself, smiling a touch at the odd, small girl's excitement.

 

However, for her the wonder was short-lived. For, perhaps more sensitive to such things than most, for all the beauty and grandeur around them---ruined though much of it was---she could not ignore the truth her soul screamed at her: this dead city was a place of evil. The oppressive aura of hate and sin and death, stronger than anything she had ever sensed, made the air seem thick and noxious in her throat; she almost wanted to gag. But she willfully repressed the reaction; she needed to keep her wits about her.

 

Her scholar's instincts agreed with the decision to check the records in the District Hall first, and so she followed without argument. As they walked, she kept to the middle of the group for protection.

 

Tearing her attention away from the ominous and beautiful sights of the ruined city, she forced herself to relax, reaching out, feeling for any spirits who might remain in this accursed place. Perhaps they could give some indication of where the blade they sought lay... or of what waited for them in the dark.


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#6 Sephsekla

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 10:37 AM

Garandros was in a foul mood. As was his way. Who knew what lurked in this hall, but if some fiend was sleeping then no doubt their noisy group would wake it.

Percula and Elnora were two shrill noisy things too many.

The group began to move but Garandros slipped away. What he was after would be most likely in the temple, if it existed at all.

He took off in a quick but quiet march towards the temple, halting at the sight of a stricken looking Huo Shye in his path.

"Know something the rest of us don't?" He growled, slowly drawing the long blade from his back.

---------

WHOOOAAAA! This place is so cool! Cmon, cmooon! Theres gotta be all sorts of stuff in here!

Elnira nodded in excited agreement, and turned to face Percula.

"Just imagine! We could find out so much about this civilisation! I'm hoping there's a census of some sort." She was distracted by Mr Whiskers, the cat's hissing incredibly loud.

"Poor Mr Whiskers doesn't like this place," she explained, with a glum look.

The cat yowled affirmation.
Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.
 
Except cancelling Firefly. Because that's just not cool.

#7 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 02:23 PM

Korvarl, Malvolio, Allya, Elnira, and Valya made their way toward the district hall, Allya remaining in the center of the group as she attempted to reach out and find any spirits... ((Sareth: see PMs))

 

The district hall was quite a sight: one of the larger buildings in the area, with sections that looked as if they had previously been decorated with gold and possibly even gemstones, though these had long since been torn off. The doors were blasted open, hanging there, still half charred and surrounded by piles of ancient ash. Korvarl and Valya led the way inside...

 

But there was little to be found. The hall was a wreck, destroyed furniture everywhere, the glass shattered out every window. However, there were also papers scattered toward the back of the room, around many rows of desks - perhaps searching through them would yield something useful.

 

To the back of the building, a great doorway stood open. Apparently, it had once been protected by massive doors of stone and steel, meant to guard something. A quick look through the doorway revealed a cavernous maw of a staircase leading deep downward, no doubt to some sort of vault.

 

 

---

 

Caiden stood there silently, taking in the sights with his usual stony look - pretty much the opposite of his lover.

 

“WHOOOAAAA!” Percula echoed Agethar’s apparent amazement a lot more verbally. A lot lot more verbally. “This place is so cool!” Percula went on at only a slightly lower volume, glancing back at Caiden only long enough to catch his wrist, which was quite a feat, considering the diameter of said muscle-bound wrist.

 

He didn't seem at all unused to the action. What was more surprising was the fact that he actually let himself be led when she started moving in a seemingly random direction. Surely his love for her knew no bounds.

 

“C’mon, c’mooon! There’s gotta be all sorts of stuff in here!” Saffron urged him, not unlike a child in a shop stocked with a multitude of sweets.

 

The Venator gave a brief sniff of the air as he glanced around another time. Then he added, "Mostly demons."

 

But he trailed along after her as she made her way toward a nearby building - and Agethar and Maugrimm trailed along after him, apparently following without paying much heed, as the other Venator's attention was focused on their grand-but-morbid surroundings.

The building Percula picked turned out to be a tavern, as she threw the door open and they all peered inside - even if Agethar had to look through a window instead, since it was impossible to see through the door past Caiden's shoulders.

 

Whatever calamity had befallen this city had also befallen that poor little tavern. It almost looked like a place where people had tried to hide, as one of the doors leading into the back was still boarded up. Much of the furniture was broken and pieces littered the stone floor, but a few tables and chairs remained intact. Directly across from the entrance stood a huge bar loaded with barrels and bottles, most still intact, lining the wall behind the dwarf-height counter. There was also a shelf with lots of piles of dust of what had apparently once been food, though a few chunks of odd bread remained. On either side of the room, sets of stairs led up to barriers constructed of steel slabs affixed across the doors - though it was impossible to tell if it was to keep something out or keep something in.

 

As they entered, they heard nothing... and yet Percula felt the tendons in Caiden's wrist shift as he curled that hand into a fist. That was enough for her to know something was off - and when Maugrimm gave a low growl, his hackles raised, that was enough for Agethar to know, as well.

 

A sound split the utter silence so abruptly it made all of them start. Something thudded against the boarded-up door to the right side of the counter, most likely leading downward into a cellar. It thudded hard. But, apparently, it couldn't get through... and perhaps it had been thudding against that door for an untold number of years.

 

---

 

Huo and Garandros chose to go to the temple, a place defiled even farther beyond recognition than any building they had seen so far. Every inch of decoration on the building was destroyed, shattered, smashed - whatever it took to end its existence. There was no sign of a single holy symbol on the entire outside.

 

And, as they entered, there was no sign of any on the inside, either. Everything was destroyed: glass blasted out of the windows, a hole smashed into the ceiling overhead, and everything was in disarray. What looked to have once been a shrine at the center of the long room was nothing more than a scorch mark.

 

As they continued exploring, they made their way through a door at the back of the building... and they found there two doors. One, Garandros opened and found was a study, in surprisingly decent condition. Two books lay open on the still-intact desk, but others were put away on the shelves, along with some scrolls.

 

The other door led to a large, open room of stone containing only a podium and an altar. Its high ceiling was supported by four stone pillars... Four pillars positioned around an enormous summoning circle of runes, glowing blood red.

 

And, standing there, trapped in that still-glowing summoning circle, was a demon.

 

It was tall but not inhumanly enormous, standing there with its muscular arms crossed, and its skin was solid black, blacker than night, blacker than their darkest nightmares. Its face was hideous, almost skull-like, with slits for nostrils and a mouth with long tusks - almost like those of an orc, but far, far larger. Its eyes were pits of seething red, and it wore a long belt of daggers over its bare, scarred chest.

 

The demon regarded them with apparent surprise, narrowing its terrible eyes. "Mortals..." it croaked almost in disbelief, its voice one that hadn't spoken for an age.


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#8 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 03:50 PM

Malvolio glanced around at the inside of the ransacked district hall. The whole place looked like - and probably had suffered the equivalent of - a tornado had gone through it.

 

The Templar made his way towards the desk, and began to collect many of the scattered papers that lay everywhere: most of it was probably dwarven, but he was interested in whether or not he could find anything that was in Old Achaean.

 

---

 

Agethar's awe of the city quickly changed to fear and disgust as he, Caiden and Perky entered an abandoned tavern. The whole place looked like some dwarves had tried to hide in it in the overthrow of the city, but the thing that scared the Venator the most was that there was no sign of corpses, or any smell of rotting bodies at all.

 

It didn't help that apparently something was trying to escape from the cellar.

 

Agethar nearly jumped out of his skin as something rammed against the cellar door, and Maugrimm's growl turned into loud barking as the ramming continued.

 

"If I didnae know it would make thing's worse," the Northern Venator muttered as he drew both his axes "I'd put a bolt through th' door an' twixt th' thing's eyes."

 

"...if it has any."

 

---

 

"Know something the rest of us don't?"

 

"Nothing that you cannot sense yourself, Friend." Huo Shiye said, seeming to ignore the fact that the rouge Venator had apparently drawn steel on him as he continued walking towards the Temple.

 

The two walked in apparent silence until the reached the Temple. From what he could tell by walking through it, the Priest was amazed that it was still standing. The pair searched through the building, until they finally entered a room that contained something that he wished they would not run into.

 

"Yaoguai." 

 

When he had looked into the Spirit world, he had been surprised and terrified to discover that he could see nothing but the souls of his companions. So he was surprised that he could see the demon standing before them.

 

Huo knew had to do something to avoid a confrontation, and fast.

 

The Priest moved past the Venator before he could charge forward and did something that probably baffled the Demon even more:

 

"Greetings, O Evil one," Huo said, bowing politely to the startled creature "yes, we are indeed mortals, come to this city in search of something precious, but we never imagined that we would encountered a being so powerful and observant as yourself."


Edited by Dalton Westmoore, 14 September 2017 - 06:54 PM.


#9 Burger Warrior

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 12:23 PM

Korvarl frowned at the mess that was the district hall, muttering something into his beard. “O’course. Shouldn’t’ve put it past demons t’wreck a place like this…”

 

Still, Malvolio began to search, and Silvershield figured there might be some stone left unturned by the invading malevolent forces. He wasn’t going to waste time giving up on potential leads, no sir. Walking past the Templar, he cleared his throat. “Tell me if there’s anythin’ tha’ looks important, aye? Gonna check th’cellar out…”

 

‘Cellar’ was one way to describe the stairway that led down toward what was inevitably going to be some kind of vault - or prison - but Korvarl didn’t bother explaining further as he passed through the large, open doorway and into the cavernous stairwell - one hand still holding his torch aloft and the other clutching his shield tighter with every step downward.

 

------

 

Caiden gave a brief sniff of the air as he glanced around another time. Then he added, "Mostly demons."

 

Perky screwed up her face in an adorable - well, to Voros, anyway - pout. “Caaaaaiiiid, lighten uuuup…!”

 

The building Percula picked out at random turned out to be a tavern, and as she threw the door open and they all peered inside, taking in the view. Not that it was a very cheerful one, and for the first time since she’d laid eyes on the grandeur of the Forbidden Halls Saffron felt the weight of dread and loss. “...Oh.”

 

Still, she led the way inside, and as they entered they heard nothing... but Percula felt the tendons in Caiden's wrist shift as he curled that hand into a fist. That was enough for her to know something was off.

 

A sound split the utter silence so abruptly it made all of them start. Something thudded against the boarded-up door to the right side of the counter, most likely leading downward into a cellar. It thudded hard. But, apparently, it couldn't get through... and perhaps it had been thudding against that door for an untold number of years.

 

"If I didnae know it would make thing's worse," the Northern Venator muttered as he drew both his axes. "I'd put a bolt through th' door an' twixt th' thing's eyes."

 

"...if it has any."

 

Percula bit her lip, glancing at her lover. “Eheh, uh… I think I’ll give that door a pass… unless you can feel something?” She asked, her curiosity threatening to get the better of her. It was evident in the way she rather quickly added that last question. Please tell me it’s safe so I can open it I gottaaaaa!

 

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#10 Sareth

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 01:11 PM

“Tell me if there’s anythin’ tha’ looks important, aye? Gonna check th’cellar out…”

 

"I'll come too" Valya said simply. Sword at the ready, she followed the dwarf down into dark.

 

***

 

Allya shuddered, and all but wrenched her mind away from the spirit world. But, like closing your eyes against the dark, she couldn't block out her awareness of that yawning void.

 

For most of her life, the spirits had been there for her, aided her when she called. And she had done her best to honor them in return. But none remained in this place---this mausoleum was dead, right down to the stone. Suddenly, she felt very alone.

 

“Tell me if there’s anythin’ tha’ looks important, aye? Gonna check th’cellar out…”

 

She glanced at the cavernous entrance through which Korvarl and the northwoman headed, and then turned away.  She hoped they would find what they were looking for soon---she did not want to go any deeper into this place.

 

She headed over and helped Malvolio gather up the scattered papers, glancing at each as she collected them. She doubted she would be able to read any of it---it was probably all in dwarvish, like the map---but it gave her something to do. Besides, she just might get lucky.


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#11 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:32 PM

 “Tell me if there’s anythin’ tha’ looks important, aye? Gonna check th’cellar out…

 

"I doubt I'll find anything by myself," the Templar said as he held up the sheaf of papers he had collected "I can read old Imperial fine, but this Dwarvish looks like chicken-scratches to me...no offense..."

 

However, the Dwarf continued on anyways, leaving the Templar to his work. However, Allya made her way over and began to help him search through the papers as well.

 

After a short period of silence, Malvolio offered a conversation starter to the elf:

 

"Nice to see you again. Can you read any of this...?"

 

---

 

Eheh, uh… I think I’ll give that door a pass… unless you can feel something?

 

This choice of words caused the Venator to look at the pair with a suspicious glance, before he continued to explore the tavern.



#12 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 06:37 PM

Malvolio and Allya searched the papers, but everything they found was clearly in Dwarven - or, at least, all the official documents were. Many of them crumbled to dust in their hands, but thankfully most remained surprisingly intact. Unfortunately, Malvolio found nothing in Old Achaean or High Imperial...

 

But Allya found something written in Demonic. It was scrawled in blood over many of the Dwarven papers. It was scrawled again and again, repeating endlessly.

 

It read simply, "XIRALOC SLEEPS HERE NOW."

 

After quite a bit more rifling through the Dwarven papers and assorted official-looking documents - some of which looked like lists of various kinds - Malvolio found another one written in Demonic. Giving it to Allya, she realized this one was different than the others.

 

And it read, "XIRALOC EATER OF SPIRITS BOW BEFORE HIM."

 

If Allya had to guess, Xiraloc was no doubt some kind of high demon. Even in her studies, she had not encountered anything like this "eater of spirits," however. The powers and evils of demons reached depths yet unknown to mortals, but she only knew demons to "eat" (or at least that was what some people liked to call it) souls, the souls of beings capable of sin, not spirits of the earth and animals.

 

As for who wrote the bloody messages, it was clearly a very overenthusiastic demon - very, very long ago, judging by the age of the papers and the blood.

 

---

 

Korvarl was glad he had a torch as he descended, Valya following after him. The darkness down here felt impenetrable, even for his torchlight. Valya could see better than the dwarf, but even so, she began to get the impression this darkness was not wholly natural.

 

They descended a fairly long staircase and stepped out into a chamber lined with metal bars guarding various vault rooms... the doors were still intact. But, behind those bars and sturdy locked doors, they saw treasure.

 

Who knew what these vaults were for, but they were lined with family treasures. Weapons, armor, shields, goblets, coins - it was all here. Mountains of it, hidden in the heavy darkness.

 

But they had no way of knowing if any of the swords they saw locked away were the Dainsleif they sought.

 

---

 

"If I didnae know it would make thing's worse," the Northern Venator muttered as he drew both his axes "I'd put a bolt through th' door an' twixt th' thing's eyes...if it has any."

Percula bit her lip, glancing at her lover. “Eheh, uh… I think I’ll give that door a pass… unless you can feel something?”

 

As Maugrimm continued to bark, Caiden grew tenser. As Agethar passed them and went about searching around the bar, Percula saw Caiden shudder. ((Burgs: see PMs))

 

Meanwhile, Agethar searched the bar and behind it. He found mostly that same odd bread, which - when picked up - was exactly as hard as a stone, but somehow it didn't seem outright rotten. There were also some intact barrels and bottles of various drinks - pretty much every variety, though all of Dwarven make... which meant they were probably the best in the realms, and also extremely valuable, especially considering their age.

 

As he continued searching, he found something else: a bag hidden away under the countertop. Spilling its contents onto the bar, he found no less than 45 gold coins.

 

And then something thudded overhead, on the second level. The thudding behind the door became louder, more urgent, and it prompted Caiden to draw the steel blade on his side. It also prompted Maugrimm to bark still louder, and Caiden glanced in Agethar's direction, though he kept most of his attention focused on that door.

 

"If you think you can quiet him," he nodded toward Maugrimm, "you should. This place has been silent for only the gods know how long. We don't know what was sleeping."

 

---

 

The demon watched as Huo approached, still not moving. It was apparent to Huo that he could not - he didn't have excessive knowledge of runes or the binding of demons, but he knew enough about magic in general to be able to tell that the demon could not leave its rune circle. It had no means of attacking them, and as long as they didn't break the seal or step into the summoning ring, the demon could cause them no harm.

 

"Greetings, O Evil one," Huo said, bowing politely to the startled creature "yes, we are indeed mortals, come to this city in search of something precious, but we never imagined that we would encountered a being so powerful and observant as yourself."

 

There was one word for the look on the demon's face: bored.

 

"You are attempting to flatter me," said the abomination, sounding weary. "I have heard the flattery of mortals, but it was long ago. If you came here expecting no demons, you will be exceptionally surprised. I wish only one thing now, young one: freedom. Tell me what you want from me that will obtain me this. I have stood in this same disgusting little room for longer than your civilizations have existed. If this was the plan of my summoners, to make me linger here for eons, their plan has worked. I am now willing to do whatever anyone asks of me."


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#13 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 08:10 PM

Malvolio watched tensely as Allya read the bloody papers that he and she had collected together. From the look on her face, he could tell that whatever it said, it wasn't good.

 

"What does it say?" he asked, nervously fingering the grip on his dirk as he glanced around the room "Is it something we should warn the others about?"

 

---

 

Agethar quickly pocketed the coins without much thought; he was a Viking by birth, and had their lust for treasure. 

 

The Venator started slightly as more ramming could be heard from upstairs. He wondered how many of these creatures where in this place.

 

"If you think you can quiet him, you should. This place has been silent for only the gods know how long. We don't know what was sleeping."

 

Agethar nodded, and let out a low whistle.

 

At the noise, Maugrimm went quiet instantly, though he still looked like he wanted to bark.

 

As the thumping from both doors continued, he looked at Caiden and asked quietly "What should we do?"

 

---

 

"You are attempting to flatter me," said the abomination, sounding weary. "I have heard the flattery of mortals, but it was long ago. If you came here expecting no demons, you will be exceptionally surprised."

 

"It was not as much flattery as it was trying to be polite to something that could kill us in seconds if it wished," Huo said, sounding a bit hurt by the demon's words "as for demons, I expected that as soon as we entered this place we would be wading through them, yet you are the only one we have encountered so far."

 

"I wish only one thing now, young one: freedom. Tell me what you want from me that will obtain me this. I have stood in this same disgusting little room for longer than your civilizations have existed. If this was the plan of my summoners, to make me linger here for eons, their plan has worked. I am now willing to do whatever anyone asks of me."

 

"What kind of freedom do you wish for?" the Priest asked, curious to what the creature's reply would be "If you wish to walk this city once more, I must warn you that several of the companions I came here with are quite skilled at killing demons. As for how you could help us, we are searching for a sword called Dainslief; do you know where it might be held?"

 

 



#14 Sareth

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 12:04 PM

"Nice to see you again. Can you read any of this...?"

 

"Not most of it" Allya replied, too distracted by her work to return the greeting. "But this"---she showed the templar one of the blood-marked sheets---"says 'Xiraloc sleeps here now'. Look for more like it, would you?"

 

The next bloodstained paper she found said the same thing. And the next. And the next. The same cryptic message, over and over...

 

But after much searching Malvolio handed her another defaced document---and the message on this one, she saw at a glance, was different: 'Xiraloc eater of spirits bow before him.

 

Her brow crinkled as she read the statement again, certain she had to have misread it---or at least wishing she had. There was no mistake. Was it possible, she wondered, for there to be a demon so powerful---or otherwise anomalous---that it could claim not just the souls of sinners, but the innocent spirits of nature itself. She desperately wanted to say no, but she couldn't forget that utter emptiness where the spirits of this place should have been.

 

"What does it say? Is it something we should warn the others about?"

 

She gave a single, harsh laugh---utterly without mirth. The idea of a warning struck her as almost ludicrous at this point. They had had their warning back in Skaldsong Tavern when Agni had described this place and what had happened to it. And none of them had listened

 

"It says 'Xiraloc eater of spirits bow before him" she said after a moment. "Which means, unless this writing is the mere delusional ramblings of some insane demon, that somewhere in this place lies a monster unlike anything mortals have ever seen... and lived, anyways."

 

***

 

"Recognize anything?" Valya asked Korvarl, looking at the heaps of treasure locked away.

 

"Any ideas on opening these doors?" She supposed it was too much to hope that the locks had rusted into fragility after all these years of neglect. Still, sheathing her sword, she went over to the nearest door and gave a powerful tug on it, although she was ready to jump out of the way in case these dwarfs went in for booby traps.


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#15 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 06:15 PM

"Not most of it, but this says 'Xiraloc sleeps here now'. Look for more like it, would you?"

 

"Alright." Malvolio said, and he continued to gather papers.

 

Very quickly, he discovered that the majority of the papers were covered in bloody letter, probably saying the same thing as the first paper. He then, however, found a paper with a different set of demonic squiggles scrawled across it, and handed it to Allya, who quickly translated it.

 

"It says 'Xiraloc eater of spirits bow before him, which means, unless this writing is the mere delusional ramblings of some insane demon, that somewhere in this place lies a monster unlike anything mortals have ever seen... and lived, anyways."

 

The Templar closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. The Elf could hear him mutter something about wishing that more Templars were with them.

 

"That name sounds like I should know it from something," Malvolio said as he stood, holding his torch in one hand and a large sheaf of papers in another "though I have no idea where I would have read it."

 

He glanced around, seeing if Elnira had stayed with them or had followed the others "We should find the others, preferably one of them who can read whatever's on these papers. If what that demon wrote about this Xiraloc is true, then we should get the sword and get out of here as quickly as possible: I don't know about the rest of you, but having my soul be this demon's meal is not very appealing."



#16 Sareth

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 12:33 PM

"We should find the others, preferably one of them who can read whatever's on these papers. If what that demon wrote about this Xiraloc is true, then we should get the sword and get out of here as quickly as possible: I don't know about the rest of you, but having my soul be this demon's meal is not very appealing."

 

"Right" Allya replied simply.

 

"We should probably get Korvarl and Valya first" she added after a second, looking at the dark stairwell down which they had gone. She hadn't heard anything from down there, so it was probable they had not encountered anything dangerous. "He might be able to read these. And we should not split up any more."


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#17 Burger Warrior

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 02:34 PM

Percula had spent some time with Caiden a the corner of the tavern before finally moving away, glancing at Agethar as he spoke. "What should we do?"

 

The pixie in disguise shrugged, her gaze flickering back to Caid for a moment. “I don’t think we’re gonna find anything useful in here… and it doesn’t seem like whatever’s trying to escape is gonna for a bit, sooooo… how about we go anywhere else?” She offered, heading for the door.

 

-----

 

Korvarl - and one of the humans, a big berserker lady - descended the fairly long staircase and stepped out into a chamber lined with metal bars guarding various vault rooms... the doors were still intact. But, behind those bars and sturdy locked doors, they saw treasure.

 

Silvershield frowned as he realized nothing was conveniently labeled ‘Dainsleif’. That made things slightly problematic.

 

"Recognize anything?" Valya asked Korvarl, looking at the heaps of treasure locked away.

 

He shook his head. “I’m not a Dimmlundar, ‘aven’t quite been in a place like this… much less seen Dainsleif m’self.” He replied, peering in at the treasure.

 

"Any ideas on opening these doors?" She asked, going over to the nearest door and giving it a powerful tug.

 

“...Wouldn’t advise doin’ that, lass.” Silvershield commented with a wince. “Never underestimate what a dwarf’ll do to keep their treasure safe.” He grunted, examining one of the other locks. He was no thief or locksmith, but he’d had to break into a number of dwarf-run establishments as an Enforcer of the Iron Gauntlet. Sometimes those establishments involved some fancy locks that had to be undone through means other than brute force… perhaps he could figure out whether these would need that sort of attention.


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#18 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 04:11 PM

"We should probably get Korvarl and Valya first, he might be able to read these. And we should not split up any more."

 

Malvolio nodded, following the Elf into the stairwell with his torch in one hand and his sheaf of papers clutched in the other.

 

Hopefully, they would find the others before something bad happened to them.



#19 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 07:26 AM

"It was not as much flattery as it was trying to be polite to something that could kill us in seconds if it wished," Huo said, sounding a bit hurt by the demon's words "as for demons, I expected that as soon as we entered this place we would be wading through them, yet you are the only one we have encountered so far."

 

The demon said nothing to that, though a strange look did briefly cross its face.

"What kind of freedom do you wish for?" the Priest asked, curious to what the creature's reply would be "If you wish to walk this city once more, I must warn you that several of the companions I came here with are quite skilled at killing demons. As for how you could help us, we are searching for a sword called Dainslief; do you know where it might be held?"

 

"I care not what sort of freedom. Banish me back to the Underworld, if that suits you. Or set me free in this city, and I will grant you a boon of your choosing. But do not leave me in this place.

 

"As for this Dainsleif," the demon went on, "I have heard of it... It was, in part, why so many demons were drawn to this place. It was forged here, long ago, and enchanted with ancient magicks. It is said that wounds caused by the sword are eternal, even to the mightiest of creatures; and, once drawn, it must slay at least one soul before it can be sheathed once more."

 

The demon arched a ridged, hairless brow. "It would have never left the side of the king who had it made, King Hreidmar. He dwelt in the great hall in the center of this city. That is all I know."

 

((This section is continued in the last part of this post, in which more characters join those at the temple.))

 

---

 

Valya tugged on one of the many locked doors, but to no avail. Even her great strength couldn't budge it. Thankfully, nothing happened to retaliate against her efforts.

 

Korvarl examined another of the locks, looking at it as closely as he could, even in the strange shadow that hung in the air... It was, of course, an ancient Dwarven mechanism, but even he couldn't quite parse just how it worked. Apparently, they didn't make them like they used to. He did deduce one thing, at least: if they wanted to get these doors open, they would need to find the key - or keys.

 

Malvolio and Allya descended shortly thereafter, the former clutching several papers in hand that he soon showed to Korvarl. The dwarf took them, though he had a touch of trouble reading them in the torchlight.

 

Still, he found many of no interest - censuses, assorted other public records that told him just how vast and powerful this city had once been, beyond even the current height of the Silvershield clan capital... though one census did mention King Hreidmar's home as being the great clan hall in the very center of the city, but that was hardly surprising.

 

But he did find something a bit more interesting. He found a page torn from a thick book that had apparently been a record of every treasure kept locked away in the vaults under this district hall - the vaults they were in now. Everything around them were various personal artifacts, here to be kept safe, as well as many historical items that had not yet been sorted, such as for show in a museum. No doubt everything in here was already priceless at the time of its safekeeping - to say nothing of how priceless it has now become.

 

The keys, however, were marked as resting in the hands of King Hreidmar - who apparently held all keys to every vault in the city, save for some very small personal ones. Rifling through the papers again, he found something else: a record of magical artifacts in the city limits. He did not know the district names of the city, but if he had to guess, the vaults they currently stood in had at least one enchanted artifact of some kind kept in these vaults.

 

But, most importantly, he found mention of Dainsleif - and the page from the record book clearly stated that this artifact never leaves the quarters, or the side, of King Hreidmar himself.

 

---

 

As the thumping from both doors continued, he looked at Caiden and asked quietly, "What should we do?"

 

The pixie in disguise shrugged before Caiden could answer, her gaze flickering back to Caid for a moment; he met her gaze, but only briefly. “I don’t think we’re gonna find anything useful in here… and it doesn’t seem like whatever’s trying to escape is gonna for a bit, sooooo… how about we go anywhere else?” She offered, heading for the door.

 

"Let's try the temple," Caiden suggested. "We need to regroup."

 

No one outright protested, at this point, so the three of them - plus Maugrimm - gladly left the inn, though the banging noises slowly began to quiet once more, as if sensing they were moving away. They headed toward the temple instead, staying largely quiet, though Caiden remained close by Percula's side for the duration. Agethar noticed Maugrimm throwing a few unusual glances in the other Venator's direction as they walked, his floppy ears twitching occasionally.

 

And then Percula and Maugrimm both suddenly jumped out of their skins when they heard a ridiculously loud growl that sounded like some demon was ambushing them... until Caiden said, the flatness of his voice hiding his embarrassment, "Sorry. I'm starving."

 

They made good time to the temple, and upon entering, it didn't take them long to make their way toward the back to join Huo and Garandros - and find the little room with the assorted books, some open on the desk, as well as the demon in the summoning circle, to which Huo spoke. The instant Caiden saw it, he narrowed his eye and tightened his grip on his sword - and protectively inched a little in front of Percula.

 

Caiden, Percula, Agethar, and Maugrimm walked in just as the demon calmly addressed to Huo again. "May I ask to what purpose mortals such as yourselves would enter a place such as this? You spoke of those with you who fancy themselves demon slayers. I must warn you: if you came to slay demons, you should turn back. It is not myself of which I speak, but a far, far greater power. Unless you are here because of that binding upon your souls...?"

 

 

((I just took Agethar, Caiden, and Percula directly to the temple [so you're all there now; feel free to look around and interact with the details described in the last section of this post, including the room with books and the room with the demon and summoning circle], so that they could regroup with the others, assuming they were okay with being done at the inn and not trying any doors. This way the group can get back together faster.))


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#20 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 10:23 AM

Malvolio looked at the Dwarf as he read through the papers. While glancing at some of them, the Templar noticed that the dwarf's expression would change.

 

"What do they say?" the Templar asked "Anything of use to us?"

 

---

 

"I care not what sort of freedom. Banish me back to the Underworld, if that suits you. Or set me free in this city, and I will grant you a boon of your choosing. But do not leave me in this place."

 

"It is something I will discuss with my companions," Huo said, glancing at the Venator "I've put myself in a great amount of danger just by speaking to you."

 

"As for this Dainsleif, I have heard of it... It was, in part, why so many demons were drawn to this place. It was forged here, long ago, and enchanted with ancient magicks. It is said that wounds caused by the sword are eternal, even to the mightiest of creatures; and, once drawn, it must slay at least one soul before it can be sheathed once more. It would have never left the side of the king who had it made, King Hreidmar. He dwelt in the great hall in the center of this city. That is all I know."

 

"Thank you, sir," Huo said as he bowed gratefully to the demon "you have saved us much trouble in locating the blade. As soon as I discuss it with the others, I will free you: I am a man of my word."

 

As he spoke, three of his companions walked into the room. The Priest recognized both Perky and the large Venator, Caiden, and made his way over to them.

 

"Now, I know this looked suspicious," he said as he stood in front of them "but I can explain..."

 

"Explain what?" Agethar said as he gestured to the demon with his axe as Maugrimm began to growl "That ye've just been talkin' tae that thing?"

 

"Yes," Huo replied as he gripped his staff tighter "the Yaoguai was here when we arrived, as my companion can tell you if he chooses. He wants his freedom, and in exchange, he offered information about the sword, Dainslief. He said that it is in the center of the city, in the great hall; he also said that the sword cannot be sheathed unless it kills something first. I've heard of a sword like it from my country, called-."

 

 "May I ask to what purpose mortals such as yourselves would enter a place such as this? You spoke of those with you who fancy themselves demon slayers. I must warn you: if you came to slay demons, you should turn back. It is not myself of which I speak, but a far, far greater power. Unless you are here because of that binding upon your souls...?"

 

The Priest glanced back at the Demon, and asked "Binding on our souls? What do you mean...?"





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