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  #1  
Unread 12th of December, 2004, 08:09
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-J-
Dread Lord on High [Epic GM]

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Expostition

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Unread 12th of December, 2004, 08:12
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Vajra
Tiny Skeleton

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Emigreé

Thumb tip against index tip, other fingers opened not splayed, Vajra sounded his breath deep in his belly. The beat in his mind slowed as his fingers settled over his jutting knees. The banner flapping along the west wind came in waves; each crashed more emptily against his eardrums.

The Palace of Mind lay beneath his eyes a thousand paces – its guardians and spires, moats and bridges, rooms and gardens aglow with inner light. He circled each entrance and spoke its guardian’s name – Jnana, Karma, Bhakti, Raja. Their fierce aspects with bladed weapons in thousand arms stared at his feeble body.

“Clothed in Maya, upure in mind, why seek you entrance beyond?,” Jnana roared in Devic; his arms sliced the skin, the tendon, the bone. Vajra’s body pieces sloughed to the ground.

“Pratyahara, pratyahara, pratyahara,” Vajra chanted soundlessly, breathlessly. His mind bloomed thousand-petal lotus form. Jnana’s blades whirled the air, the light, the petals; all fell about Vajra. The lotus storm swirled and grew…


“THE SHIP IS LEAVING, GOOD SIR!”

Vajra’s mind snapped back to his body. He smiled and nodded dotteringly, “Thank you. Thank you. A thousand blessings of light on you.”

He stretched out his hand, and the porter helped him to his feet. Handing him his staff and satchel, the keen-eyed Zil asked him, “You sure, you’re up for this trip? Khorvaire’s half a world away.”

Vajra smiled and turned toward the airship taking his tabla from the porter’s appraising hands. “I’ve made longer journeys.”

The porter cocked his eyebrow and shrugged. “Suit yourself, grandpa, speak with Deri Metson at the Harthorn Inn.”

Vajra turned questioningly toward the gnome.

“Remind’im ‘trust rewards hospitality.’”

Vajra nodded uncertain what politics the gnome intended to involve him in, “Many thanks, may your next birth be fortunate, good sir.”

The gnome raised both eyebrows.

Last edited by Vajra; 12th of December, 2004 at 08:16.
  #3  
Unread 16th of December, 2004, 04:43
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Gralhruk
Ghost of ORP Past [Epic Admin]

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Smoke swirled and eddied, making visible the subtle current that flowed throughout The Underbelly, a somewhat seedy tavern with a reputation for good music. At the moment, the low stage was occupied by a striking young woman - a half-elf with mossy eyes and glossy hair. The haunting melody of her flute wound through the opaque arial display, finding the ears of the more interested patrons.

In truth, there were not so many of these. The night was early, well before the better known acts were scheduled to appear. Many of those present were more interested in their own closed conversations than anything a second rate performer might produce, no matter how pretty a face.

She finished to scattered clapping and then thanked the audience, her voice almost as melodical as the music she had but recently ceased playing. With lazy strides she made her way to the bar, smiling at one or two of the serving maids, and collected the evenings earnings. Giving some back, she ordered herself some red wine and was waiting for it to make an appearance when he arrived.

"Good evening, Leanna."

Her back stiffened only slightly and she resisted the urge to face him. The bartender deposited the wine in front of her and she smiled tiredly as he whisked her coin away. The man seated himself next to her and ordered the same thing, not speaking again until the drink was delivered and the servant had moved away. His voice irritated her - sly, self-assured, and mocking.

"You are not happy to see me."

"You aren't supposed to come here."

Her voice was a whisper, but the anger was clear.

"I can leave. If you want me to, that is. Of course, there is no telling where I might go, with whom I might speak . . ."

The implied threat galled her, yet she had no retort. A word from him to the right ears and she would find herself a fugitive at best. Leanna took a drink and licked her lips. Her eyes found her reflection in her wineglass. Resignation was the foremost emotion.

"What do you want me to do?"

"It is quite simple, really . . . "
  #4  
Unread 30th of December, 2004, 15:37
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Kelemyn
Famine Spirit [Epic]

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"Mo says there's a woman in here lookin' fer me."

Boon didn't bother to lower his voice. He leaned on the bar, his back to the rowdy crowd at the Wild Goose, and snatched up the drink that Leef, the bartender, had just set down in front of him. "Well, where is she? Point 'er out to me!"

Leef shrugged and jutted a stubby finger toward a dark corner of the seedy tavern before hurrying off to tend to another customer. Boon turned and saw a dark-haired half-elven woman conversing with a man at one of the small tables. They were both ruggedly dressed in buckskins, and heavy cloaks and boots. The woman's clothing was trimmed with feathers and bits of bone, reminding Boon of those swamp-druids and rangers from the Shadow Marches. The man was human, his face marked by four vicious scars that ran from just above his left eyebrow, down the entire side of his face. Neither one of them looked the least bit familiar to Boon.

Heh. Well at least it ain't that ugly ol' whore I left back in Varna! But what does this fine li'l half-elf piece want with me anyway?

Boon decided that the easiest way to find the answer to that question was to ask. He couldn't think of any reason to be afraid of the woman. He had enough sense to realize that she probably wasn't here to buy him a drink and wish him well, but so what if she wished him harm? Or even if her capable-looking boyfriend did? If the two of them had a beef with Boon, let them bring it on! He was always ready for a good brawl, and he knew that, if worse came to worse, he had enough friends here in the Wild Goose that he wouldn't have anything to worry about.

He gulped down the last of the watery ale in his mug, and stepped away from the bar. The half-elf woman took notice of him right away. She turned toward him fully, and now that he could take a good look at her face he decided that there was something familiar about her. Where had he run into her before?

"You been askin' around about me?" Boon squinted at the dark-haired woman, working his brain for all it was worth trying to remember where he'd seen her before.

"You don't remember me." The woman's voice was soft, but her deep, forest-green eyes were hard.

"Should I remember you?"

The woman's eyes narrowed, and seemed to burn a bit darker. "We've 'met' before. In Varna."

Ah, in Varna! But Boon was pretty sure that he'd only run out on one woman in Varna. And this half-elf wasn't the fat ol' cow with the screaming brat (and another on the way) that he'd left behind.

"Do you remember.. a half-orc?" The woman's voice trembled slightly, and suddenly Boon did remember. The half-orc druid.

"Now looky here," he drawled as it all came back to him. "That whole thing back in Varna warn't my idea. That was Garritt's doin'."

And it was. Garritt had been his boss on the docks and his drinking buddy back then. Even Boon had to admit that the man was meaner than a snake after he'd had a few. That night, Garritt had almost seemed to be sitting around waiting for the half-orc to show up. And once he did, with his pretty little half-elf woman in tow, it was all over for him.

"Anyhow, you shouldn' go shackin' up with no half-orc swamp-scum! It just ain't right." Boon looked over at the man who he had at first assumed was the woman's boyfriend. The human was now as tense as a bowstring, and seemed ready to lunge up from the table at any moment.

Fine with me! It's been too long since I been in a good barroom fight.

He leered at the two, clenching and unclenching his fists.

"You helped Garritt and the others beat my husband to death!" The woman wasn't done talking yet, it seemed. "And it wasn't because he was a half-orc from the swamp. Garritt had orders. One of the others told me that much before he died." Her eyes had darkened to the point where they were nearly black now, hot-black and smoldering. Her voice no longer trembled. An intelligent man might have stepped back a pace or two.

Not that it would've done him any good.

"Huh?"

Before he died? Who died? How?

Boon wasn't getting a handle on what the woman was trying to tell him. "I don't know nothin' about no orders. We was just havin' some sport and it went too far. Shit like that happens, you know."

She was starting to piss him off pretty good now, and he was just thinking about picking her up out of her seat and shaking her around a bit, when she raised her hand, pointing at him.

"Saedra, wait...." the man at her table started to say.

And then.. pain engulfed him. It was like nothing that Boon had ever experienced before. Searing, explosive pain that crackled along every nerve in his body from head to toe. He imagined that he could feel his blood starting to boil.

Balinor's balls! What's the bitch doin' to me?!

It was the last thought that Boon ever had. He toppled over on the barroom floor, as dead as a stone.

"Yeah, shit happens," Saedra said, and got up from the table.......
  #5  
Unread 7th of January, 2005, 01:08
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Crito
Zombie

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Careth Rides

It couldn’t have been a better day for the Northern Regional Open, known as the Pheonix Open, in Fairhaven. Only a few wisps of clouds in the sky. Mild temperatures. The stewards of Fairhold, the royal quarter of the city where the race was to take place, must have been breathing great sighs of relief when the weather finally broke two days ago.

Careth cinches up the girth on the exquisite, ebony gelding his patron at House Medani had bestowed on him. The young magebred valenar was without question the finest piece of horseflesh Careth had ever had the privilege of riding. He and the horse had developed quite a rapport during this last month of training for the big event, the first of three Grand Prix level cross-country races that made up one of the top competitions in Breland horsemanship tournaments. Careth caresses the horse’s neck and slips him stub of carrot as the horse swings his head around to give him a friendly nuzzle. Slipping his left foot into the stirrup, Careth swings himself up into the saddle.

He leans over to give one more pat and whisper, “Let’s show these dandies what we’re made of, boy.” The horse twitches his ears and gives a haughty sounding snort. Careth grins and gives just the tiniest squeeze of his legs to goad his mount toward the starting area. All of the riders, practically all of them blue-blood aristocrats, were lining up now in front of the royal seats, each one saluting the queen brother, Aurad ir’Wynarn, who was sponsoring the Open and would give the signal to start the race.


Careth could feel the disdain of most of the other riders wash over him as he takes his place on the line. But he doesn’t let it bother him. He makes his own salute and then gathers his reigns, waiting for the queen brother to strike the bell.

At the sound, the riders surge forward across the open field towards the long hedge that is the first jump. Careth and his magebred fight through the congestion of that opening rush and make it over the hedge easily. The first set of jumps are widely spaced, giving riders a chance to maneuver and spread out before the course narrows down into the really tricky, challenging turns and jumps. Careth manages to stay with the lead group during this part of the track. He feels good. The horse is incredibly responsive to his aids, even seeming to anticipate them as they make their way over one jump after another. It’s exhilarating.

Never had he felt so in tune with his mount. They were in the thick of it now, going through the worst that the course could throw at horse and rider. But still, it was as if he were glued to the saddle. Legs firm, staying always near the girth, hands in light contact with the bit in the horse’s mouth, body balanced perfectly through each jump, Careth rides his way through the turns and over the obstacles.

Now there were only three of them anywhere near contention. Triyan ir’Grosca, the Brelish aristocrat who was last year’s winner and this year’s favorite. Careth had to admire the man’s skill, arguably one of the best human riders of the century, although personally he thought the man was a complete jackass. The other contender was Sheara Vanedris, an elven warrior/aristocrat, who also always placed consistently well in her competitions. Careth couldn’t say that she treated him badly in these competitions. He would have to say that she didn’t treat him at all. The lowly son of one of the least branches of House Medani, and a working man, no less, was not even beneath her contempt. He was completely beneath her notice.

Just ahead of him, Sheara and Trivan were jockeying for the lead with just two more jumps to go. It was one of those incredible moments where everything seems sharp and clear, as if etched in crystal. He could see what was shaping up in front of him. He knew what Sheara was going to do. He could swear that his horse sensed it too, as the gelding veers slightly to the right even as Careth starts to apply a light pressure with his left leg. It feels like slow-motion as he watches Sheara veer left in front of the penultimate jump, crowding Trivan toward the edge of the narrowing track. The Brelander has no choice but to check his mount briefly in response to the elf’s maneuver. And Careth times his squeeze of his horses’s flanks perfectly, urging his valenar into a burst of speed at just the right moment. Sheara and Careth clear the jump within a heartbeat of each other, leaving Trivan behind as his last minute check causes his horse to refuse the jump. Only impeccable horsemanship keeps him in the saddle. Now it was down to Sheara and Careth, the two of them now neck-and-neck, Sheara on the left and Careth on the right.

She’s going to have to take some notice of me now, he thinks, whether she wants to or not.


The last jump is coming up at a narrow stream backed by a rail fence. The stream angles toward the track from the left, crossing over it just as it meets up with the fence and begins to parallel the fence off to the right. Careth is sure that Sheara is going to try to squeeze him out of it just like she had done with Trivan. But he also knows, from his walkover of the course the night before, that the recent rains had made the sod on the left side of the track near the stream a bit treacherous. His position to the right might give him an advantage.


The jump is fast approaching. They’d have to make a slight bend to the left maybe six or seven paces before the jump to line up properly.


That’s where she’ll make her move, he thinks.


Sure enough, Sheara tries to take the turn wide to the right, hoping to force Careth out. But instead of checking or giving way, he holds his ground, asking his mount to turn to the left to line up with the fence as if Sheara wasn’t even there. The magebred valenar snorts and presses ahead, bumping flank to flank with Sheara’s horse. Strength and the surer footing win out. The soggy grass roots under the left hooves of Sheara’s mount tear loose, turning divots of sod into tiny sleds under the horse’s feet. Careth’s horse bounds forward and over the last fence as Sheara’s tumbles into the stream, with an agonized whinny at the snapping of leg bones. The elf woman is thrown into the fence. Careth barely even notices the medics rushing past towards the stricken horse and rider as he crosses the finish line.


If the cheers from the aristocratic side were less than overwhelming, those from the other side more than make up for it. Cheers or not, though, nothing can match the feeling of having won. The sour look from Trivan as he offers his congratulations just rolls off Careth. The poison in Sheara’s smile, once she joins them after the medics have done their work, can’t faze him. For now it’s just pure joy for him, at beating the odds and winning, at remembering the feeling of being one with his horse, at the congratulations that pour over him from those that truly mean it, and at the prospect of being able to go on to the next challenge four months from now. The cash prize doesn’t hurt, either.


The thrill eventually starts to fade a little as the well-wishers begin to thin out, bringing Careth back down to the ground a bit. Enough for him to notice a tall, thin human with black hair who seems to be watching him fairly intently, although every time Careth starts to look directly at him, the man looks quickly away. Careth gives a little shrug and turns to accept a last hand-shake and congratulations from someone before running up his stirrups, loosening his horse’s girth and preparing to lead him back to the stables.


As Careth is busy de-tacking and attending to his horse, he sees the thin man approaching the stables. The man looks to be in his mid to late 30’s, moving nervously and looking around a lot. Once inside the stables he goes directly towards Careth’s stall.


"Quite an exquisite race Herr Careth," the man says with a slight Karrnathi accent. While his accent is good Careth can tell it’s slightly practiced and not quite natural yet. His clothing is of typical Karrnathi make, nothing notable.


“Thanks” says Careth. “I hope you enjoyed it.” Careth returns his attention to brushing down the horse while keeping an unobtrusive eye on the stranger. He lets the silence drag out.


"Yes....well..." he fidgets a moment almost as if he was waiting for something. "Herr Careth, please excuse my forwardness, but I represent a most respected noble who has a...opportunity that you might find...rewarding."


Careth pauses in his ministrations and looks directly at the man, “Ah”, he says with a wry smile, “I’ve always liked opportunities with rewards.” He resumes currying and brushing the gelding’s coat. “Why don’t we discuss this over a drink, then, once I finish up here. You can tell me all about it.”

"Excellent Herr Careth," he said with a faint clicking of his boot heels, "Here is my card. Shall we say the Golden Mare at seven?" The thin man gives a slight bow with his head as he turns to leave.


Careth stares after the man for a moment and then looks down at the card. Giving the Karnathi script written on it only a passing glance, Careth studies the card itself, feeling its texture, turning it in the light to see the threads and grain of the paper. After a few moments he exclaims, “Hah!”, and pockets the card.

Zilagro, not Karnath, he thinks to himself. And House Sivis, too, if I’m not mistaken. This should be interesting.

He goes back to tending his horse, whistling a popular tune.

Last edited by Crito; 7th of January, 2005 at 01:10.
  #6  
Unread 14th of January, 2005, 15:14
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Reinstadler
Bodak

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Quiet Incident

“Reinstadler! Get these men in the holes,” Major Osthausen stared at the roiling gray cloudmass approaching too quickly to be from horses. His eyes watched the unnatural movement within and his head cocked side to side trying to discern any sound revealing how the incoming weapon would strike.

Veit didn’t look anywhere except at the mud trench eight feet below where he lowered Sergeant Milvey – Peg-Leg as he was already known.

“Dive! Dive!” Osthausen’s arm hit him at waist height and Veit fell uncontrolled on top of Joerg who grunted at the impact and then screamed as the mud below turned jagged and bitter as shattered glass.

He opened his eyes slowly. Breathe, slowly, breathe, dammit. Laquered pine surface and a coffee cup jiggled and started to clink from the pressure his right hand put around the table leg.

Reinstadler waited several breaths before he unclenched his hand from the wood and placed it on his knee. Afraid to move his head, his eyes followed the smoke back to the nub of a cigarette.

Concentrating, he reached for the cigarette without shaking and brought it to his lips. The smallest crackle as the flame ate what was left in the paper and snapped feebly at his moustache. In the cloud of his exhale, he checked the café, but no one appeared to be staring at him.

Veit snubbed out the cigarette into a glass ashtray. His thumb lingered too long against its smooth edge and he drew his hand back burnt-like. He drained the coffee and delicately placed the cup in its saucer. He stood deliberately and straightened his jacket before stepping into the murmur of Sharn’s dampened streets.
 

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