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Shadows Chapter 20
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Shady Stoat

Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:01 pm    Post subject: Shadows Chapter 20  

Chapter Twenty


That was ridiculous! Surely they didn’t want her to responsible for them, when she could barely take care of herself?

Except… she had taken care of herself, hadn’t she? Not only herself, but Malkai too. Only a few weeks ago, she had been a helpless child, pushed from one deadly situation to the next. Now she had the power to kill, with magic alone.

She shuddered at that thought, trying to reject it.

‘Malkai killed himself,’ she thought, stubbornly. ‘I didn’t know he would die rather than allow me to possess him.’

The knowledge squirmed guiltily in her grasp. She had been forced to end Malkai’s life – but the fact remained that her magic was no longer a toy. It was a real and deadly force. And now the wolves wanted to back it up with their own strange blend of sorcery and strength.

She was no longer a child. She had to accept their help – but not on their terms. As Shakal came in with the sewing kit, she addressed them both.

“I need to know everything that you know about Itharien’s cult and what goes on in Shift City. Call a meeting tonight, Renau. Shakal, do what you can with these wounds. I don’t want to face the rest of the wolves looking like I’m half-dead.”

Renau nodded and left the hut, looking pleased.

“This will hurt,” was all that Shakal said, as she sank down beside Keli.

The girl saw no reason to doubt her, and gritted her teeth against what was to come…


By the evening, her wounds had faded to a dull, heartbeat throbbing. She had been tempted to sleep the worst hours away, but had resisted. The thought of having to keep Art out of her dreams had been enough to discourage drowsiness.

She had tried to practice her magic, especially the spirit-walking that seemed so problematic to her. However, every frown, every blink had taken her concentration away from the task, as pain had flared anew. There had been no dramatic breakthroughs in her studies, and precious little success even at the skills she thought of as well-developed.

Eventually, she had just lain back and waited for the evening meeting. She had no idea what she was going to do with an army of sixty wolves, many of whom were young children. Even with their strength, how could they stand up against the overwhelming numbers of Priests and Watchmen?

Were there others that could make up a greater force? Would allies flock to them if she were to win a victory or two over Itharien? Did the wolves want a guide or a General? There were still no answers to this question when she and the wolves gathered, at the edge of the copse.

Soon enough she would have to make a choice.

The wolves hushed instantly as she raised a hand in signal. Not knowing what she was going to say, she cleared her throat and began.

“Earlier today, I fought with Malkai. He accused me of holding you back with false hope,” she said, in a voice not quite her own. “In a way, he may have been right. I feel like I’ve been doing nothing but running away for a long time now. Well, if that’s going to change, part of that change must come from you.”

The wolfs murmured, exchanging glances. She had their attention, if not their comprehension.

“I need to know what’s going on. All of my allies – the Oracle, Shakal, the people I met in the City, even yourselves – have told me snippets of the truth, nothing more. Whenever I ask, I’m told ‘later’, or ‘when you’re ready’.” Her tone began to heat with indignation. “I have trained my talents, I have been patient. If I haven’t proved myself ready today, then when will I? I need to know everything that the wolves know about Itharien and his goals. I need to know more about Shift City, if that’s where he is. The Oracle said that knowledge was my greatest weapon. Well, now I need to be armed before I make decisions that will affect all of us. Tell me what you know.”

There was a hesitation. Keli noted, resentfully, that Shakal looked to Renau for approval. When the older wolf nodded, though, her guide stepped forward immediately.

“What can we tell you about the City?” she asked, steadily. “We only know that Itharien has found one of the Ancient Temples, deep beneath the surface of Old Shift. Somehow, he has navigated the labyrinth that has shielded it in the past. We know he has ancient texts, perhaps the answer lies in those.”

“Is that the place I saw in my dreams?” asked Keli. “The place with the rock-carvings and the boy?”

Shakal nodded. “That is his lair. It was dangerous for you to wander around, untrained, in the heartlands of his power. Now that you control your dreams, it would be safer. I still advise against it, but you do not need my advice so much any more.”

Keli ignored the hint of rebuke. “What is he doing down there? Is that where the sacrifices take place?”

“Perhaps,” answered Shakal. “We cannot be sure. Most likely, they do. As for what he is doing, he is seeking and collecting soul-stones from the ancient temple. They are his only goal. That is what Erath told me.”

“Then tell me about the soul-stones,” demanded Keli.

Shakal shook her head, obviously perplexed. However, another wolf stepped forward at this point. He was one of the eldest in the pack, his grey fur turning white in patches. Keli recognised him as one of the earliest volunteers to help her with her magic training.

“I only know the old tales,” he admitted, gruffly. “I will tell you what I know of the ancient religion, although I doubt it will be of great use to you.”

“Anything you know, I need to know,” she said, firmly.

“Very well.” His voice took on a sing-song rhythm, as if he were narrating a bedtime story. “Before humans ever came to the City, the Ancient Ways were kept. Wisdom was sought from the lands and from the seasons, not from childlike and argumentative Gods that humans have always found solace in.

“As each branch of life appeared to die, only to grow anew in the Spring, so they saw the pattern of their own lives. Death was but a temporary thing, a time of coldness and waiting, before they were reborn into new bodies.”

“So the soul-stones are supposed to be where they wait?” interrupted Keli, impatiently. “That doesn’t make sense. This isn’t some myth – I’ve seen what those things can do to people. The Priests use them to…”

She felt a long-clawed hand on her shoulder. Looking round, she found that it was Shakal.

“Perhaps you had better let Gryph tell the rest of his story,” she suggested, “as you asked him to.”

Her slight emphasis on the word made Keli flush with embarrassment. She tried to will herself to have more patience, as she nodded again at the old wolf. His eyes crinkled into an understanding smile as he continued.

“The Shifters understood the tragedy of their rebirth. In the time of darkness, they must lose all of their old knowledge, all their skills and wisdom, to come back fresh and new. But they longed for more. What good is re-incarnation if there is no connection between what was, and what will be? There had to be some way to forge that link and perfect the chain of life.

“They had powerful sorceries in those days. Perhaps more potent than anything that exists now. In time, they fashioned the soul-stones, as a path towards future enlightenment. Although they had no way to store the ‘self’ – the part of them that they believed to be born anew – they found a way of imprinting each individual’s knowledge and magic into a single stone. In the last moments of their lives, the Shifters would willingly send that part of their consciousness into the stone, to await the time when their new self would recognise and claim it.”

“You mean – those stones are… people?” asked Keli, feeling the hairs rise on the back of her neck.

Gryph shook his head.

“Not people, no. Just thoughts, ideas, power; much of the accumulated knowledge of a lifetime, in each stone.”

“I don’t understand,” she pleaded. “I’ve seen those stones. They burn people up, destroy them until there’s nothing left!”

“You have to understand,” said the old wolf, gently, “to the people in the story, their physical bodies were worth nothing at that point. They were happy to sink their wisdom and their powers into the stones, knowing that they would be born anew, at the moment of their death. Only the knowledge mattered. Perhaps they had rituals to numb the pain of the process. Perhaps, if the knowledge and magic were given freely, there would be no agony as they burned? I only know what the tales say. This all happened a long, long time ago.”

For every question answered, another handful seemed to form. Keli shook her head, puzzled.

“Then why does Itharien want them? He’s against any type of magic!”

Renau gave a bitter laugh. “Any type of magic that resists his own,” she said, curtly. “He wants the stones because they represent power, of course. If he can unlock their puzzles, then he can claim the old magics, from a thousand different sources. He can be invincible and he can spread his empire from one shore to the other. That is what we are fighting against, my leader – and we must act together before he wins the war.”

All eyes looked expectantly at the girl. She felt overwhelmed.

“Can we get to Itharien?” she asked, hesitantly. “Do we know the way through this temple labyrinth?”

There was silence. A few of the Weres shook their heads.

“Only Itharien and his people can get to the temple,” said Renau. “We know where the sewers lead into the labyrinth entrance – but, despite that knowledge, we have not found the entrance. To be fair, we never tried very hard. While the cubs were in there with us, our first priority had to be their protection, not fighting a holy war. Perhaps Erath had more information, but he is gone now. Even if we were to get through, though, we know the lair will be well guarded with Itharien’s men.”

“They would be no match for our strength,” called out one of the younger wolves at the back.

“Perhaps not, as long as our powers were not out of phase,” answered Renau, calmly.

“It’s beside the point anyway,” snapped Keli. “If we don’t know where he is, we can’t fight anyone or anything.”

There was silence as she pondered. Finally, she spoke again.

“We need more information,” she said, looking around at the pack. “Before we go into the City as a fighting force, we must have a plan. We won’t have time to skulk around and find out what we’re doing once we’re inside there. I tried that last time, it almost got me killed.”

She took a deep breath. “Perhaps I can explore more from here, via my dreams. In case that fails, though, I’ll need volunteers to slip into the city and report back after they’ve gathered information. We need any allies we can find within the city. We want to know how to bypass the troops and enter in force, when the time comes. I need to know anything we can find out about the Stone of Oracles, in the Imperial Gardens. Most of all, we need to see if there’s any way of getting through this labyrinth, to the temple beyond. Once those questions are answered, we may be ready to move to an attack.”

Keli gave a wry smile as nearly half of the pack stepped forward to volunteer. They were obviously chafing at their idleness, almost as much as Malkai had been. Well, this would be something for them to focus on, while she worked out the best way of moving against Itharien. Very soon now, she vowed, she would give the High Priest something to feel uneasy about.

She turned to Renau. “Can you pick three or four reliable scouts?” she asked. “Let them enter the City by the rivers and the sewers, each by a different route.”

Renau nodded. “They should leave at dawn tomorrow. Their magic should still be reliable enough to keep them out of sight for three or four days. If all goes well, they will be back within the week.”

Keli nodded. “I’ll leave the details to you. I have my own work to do.”

She left them to it, making her way back to the hut. It was time to search her dreams for a few more answers.


Fires burn, sending ash and burning splinters into the air. The stench of smoking corpses is nauseating, for all that it smells of roast meat. Heavily armed men in uniform are scattered through the streets, poking at the ruined buildings, looking for survivors or hide-aways.

A large, black pair of eyes views them from one of the rooftops. A creature with pale face and dark fur crouches low to the timbers. It sidles along whenever attention is turned away from it, freezing whenever its movement could be caught from the corner of an eye. It looks hungry and frightened. Rodent-like.

As Keli watches through her dream-eye, one of the guards catches a glimpse.

“It’s one of them!” he calls. “A rat!”

Suddenly, arrows are flying. The creature wastes no time, hurtling from roof to roof with such incredible agility that it almost looks like flight. It stares straight ahead, obviously knowing exactly where it is heading. Missiles fly to the right and left of it, but mostly they are directed in the place it had been a fraction of a second earlier.

The chase ensues on the ground. Whistles are sounded, more guards appearing all the time. Still, there is a grim hope in the eyes of the rooftop creature. It directs all of its energies into getting to its destination, ignoring the fires and the guards.

“It’s goin’ into the barricade sector!” shouts one of the voices below.

“Let it,” comes the coarse shout back.

Indeed, the rat lands heavily on top of a precarious barricade and tries to gain a firm footing. Then it freezes, eyes wide, hope dying.

More than fifty corpses, fresh and fly-ridden, lie on the other side of the wall. The blood is still oozing into the dirt around them. Another resistance cell wiped out, and the hope of a fighting retreat gone.

As the rat stares, an arrow finds its mark. It squeals, pitching forward to land beside the corpses. Its breath is shallow and blood bubbles from the corner of its mouth.

All dead…

Keli moved away from the dream, sickened. She concentrated on the labyrinth, trying to push her visions in a more useful direction.

Another scene. A young woman, being dragged down one of the cobbled streets on the West side of the city. She screams and protests, begging for help as the guards keep her in a tight arm-lock. The other citizens, bent to their work, seem determined not to see her, or hear the pleas.

Taken into the nearby Itharien Temple, the guards waste no time in knocking her out with a vicious blow. As she crumples, the larger of the two picks her up and begins to carry her over his shoulder, toward the back of the church.

Keli drifts after them, her eyes picking out details that would make this place recognisable if she were to come here again. She follows them into the back room of the church. It is a small, square cubby with a wrought iron spiral staircase, running both up and down from ground level.

The guards go down, into the darkness of a cellar. Another door and a passage that descends. She follows, wondering how extensive the underground passages of this city are. The rock-lined walls give way to other passages, but the abductors seem to know which way they need to go. In the near darkness, Keli hopes her memory will serve if this information is needed in the future.

After a trail of twists and turns, they stop, mid-tunnel. The unencumbered guard takes something out of his pocket. It looks like a small, turquoise gem. Turning to his left, he hurls it at the wall… and Keli watches in amazement as it flies right through, disappearing completely.

They wait in silence. Nearly ten minutes later, the wall shimmers and disappears. A man in priest’s robes stands in the gap, waiting expectantly. The guards exchange a few words with him, and hand the girl over. She groans but doesn’t recover consciousness as the priest turns and walks back into the hidden passage with her.

Keli follows, thrilled to have found an entrance to what is presumably the labyrinth. Her dreams will lead her straight through to the lair. If she can follow this vision often enough, she will know the route by heart.

It turns out not to be that easy. Within a few turns of the passage, she finds that her memory is playing tricks on her. She can no longer remember how long she has been in the dark tunnel. Time seems to leap. One second she is following, almost within touching range of the priest. The next, he is nothing more than the echo of footsteps against stone. She cannot see him, she cannot even be sure from which direction the echoes come.

It seems that the labyrinth has ways of protecting itself from the uninvited guest.

“Keli?” comes a plaintive boy’s voice. Art calls her, seeking out her company.

It is time to leave…


Keli woke the following morning, grainy-eyed. Her sleep had been neither as refreshing nor as informative as she had hoped. Still, there was plenty of time left to try again. She rose and dressed. It was time to give a final briefing to those wolves that were going to scout out the city.

As it turned out, they had already left. Renau had been both efficient and intelligent in her orders. Each of them had a primary and a secondary goal to fulfil while they were in the city. With two wolves examining each problem, results were likely to be good, even if one or more of them were captured.

It seemed like all they had to do now was wait; or, in Keli’s case, wait and gather information from her visions. That turned out to be a joyless task, though. For one thing, the workings of the labyrinth remained beyond her grasp. Although she dreamed of it several times, and found several different entrances, there seemed no way of tracking the progress of those who wandered through it. She invariably ended up lost and dazed, wandering aimlessly. For another, there was Art. He sought her through every dream, always calling, always closing on her. After Shakal’s warning, she did not quite dare to meet with him again. That decision, though, became no easier with the passage of time.

Her dreams, instead, took her to visions of destruction and misery. Night after night, she saw the death of resistance, the weeping of the survivors and the enslavement of those within the city. Even on the west side, there was a growing culture of fear. Now that the Weres had been driven out or killed, the church of Itharien seemed intent on keeping the level of blood-lust up. There were beating in the streets, curfews and public executions with compulsory attendance.

In the daytime, she trained, hard. Shakal seemed to feel that her dreams were under control now, and that, if her possession skills were good enough to kill the wolf leader, then they were past the point where she could develop them further. She also seemed to feel that spirit-travelling was all but a lost cause. Instead, she made Keli work on her item communication, and gave her the beginnings of training in the Were powers.

“You want to teach me your magic?” asked Keli, startled.

“You risked yourself with Malkai to learn it,” answered the wolf, shortly. “I would rather teach you what I can than have you take a more dangerous offer.”

Keli took the point. Although she was, technically, the wolf leader now, she knew that there were still those out there that agreed with Malkai. Maybe a quarter of the wolves saw her as an intruder and would be glad to be rid of her, whatever the means.

She soon found out that Were magic was, if anything, even more difficult than spirit-travelling. Light spells depended on ‘feeling the tides of light’, as Shakal put it. Her guide seemed helpless to explain it in any way that Keli could understand, and got frustrated with the girl’s lack of receptivity.

“No!” she snapped, after a couple of days. “You keep pulling the power from within yourself and trying to force it on the world around you. That is not our way at all! You understand nothing!”

“I’m trying,” said Keli, feeling her head pound with the effort.

Shakal shook her head, impatiently. “Trying in the wrong way is as bad as not trying at all. Focus on the tides of light all around. Begin again.”

After many days of futile effort, however, the best that Keli could manage was little more than a parlour trick. She could focus a small glint of light that danced and shimmered. It naturally drew the eye as it moved, hopefully enough to distract someone for a moment or two, if it became necessary to keep attention away from herself. It seemed a small enough gain for such a lot of effort.

Her item reading skills, however, were starting to become much better developed. A couple of days after the scouts had left, that branch of her magic suddenly seemed to click into place.

It first happened when she was examining a bead necklace, worn by one of the wolf-elders. A flash of vision sparked through her mind, so fast that she almost felt she had dreamed it. A bedside, an old wolf, emaciated and struggling for breath. Another wolf, barely older than Shakal, sobbing as the bed-ridden elder pointed a skeletal finger at a jewellery box on the mantel. The lid was open and Keli saw the bead necklace, perched on top of a few more trinkets and a pile of yellowed parchments.

The vision had been an accurate interpretation of how the elder had received her mother’s jewellery. After that, the flashes of knowledge had come thick and fast, as if the wall of her own doubts had finally been knocked down. Shakal had no reason to complain on that score, at least!

As her visions brought little information over the coming days, she began to worry. Was she being too careful? Relying too heavily on the wolves for their information and refusing to take risks of her own? Maybe she should search out the way through the labyrinth from its heart, beginning with the dark cave where Art had originally sensed her presence? Perhaps she should go back to the Imperial Gardens and try to sort out the riddle of the Stone of Oracles, even if that seemed to be the place where Art could find her most readily?

Not knowing what else to do, she went to see Shakal and Renau. They were inclined to dismiss her anxieties.

“We have scouts,” said Renau, kindly enough. “You sent them in so that they could find these answers for you. When they come back, it will be up to you again. Their information may not be complete. It will be your job to fill the gaps with your visions. Until then, why take the risks?”

“It would be a far greater risk to lead Itharien to you,” said Shakal, nodding. “Have patience. Study your weaponry and your magic. Your skills will be needed once the rest of the pack returns.”

Now, though, a week had passed without a single wolf coming back from the city. Keli was growing increasingly nervous as the moon waned further and further. Neither was she the only one. The entire camp seemed twitchy and restless. Small fights broke out over minor trifles. Mealtimes were tense and silent, not the social gatherings that they had been in the past month. There was the feeling that something had gone horribly wrong.

“We’ll wait for two more days,” decided Keli eventually. “If they’re simply stuck in the city, waiting for their magic to return, they’ll be there for another couple of weeks. We can send one of the wolves back to check this camp when the moon is out in full again. Once they escape, we can reunite them with the new camp. If they’re dead, though, then there’s no point in waiting – and if they’ve been captured, we don’t want to be discovered here.”

The faces of the elders were sombre. Finding another camp and masking their trail would be no trivial task, especially for the cubs. Still, there was no disagreement with Keli, and she continued.

“I’ll try to find out more about what happened. I don’t know the scouts very well, but I intend to seek them out in my visions tonight. Perhaps I can trace their actions and find out what’s happened to them. Either way, pack the provisions that you can. We must be ready to leave if the time comes.”

That evening, her dreams had other plans for her. Barely had she begun to focus on the missing scouts when some irresistible power began to drag her toward more familiar terrain. There was a wrench and she was suddenly in the Imperial Gardens, beside the ivy-covered wall again.

This time, though, it was very different. Art was there, curled up against a tree and watching her with wary eyes. He was not alone. Nearly thirty miserable-looking men and women were working on the wall of the ivy-walled enclosure. They chipped at the brickwork and greenery with a variety of tools. Already, a small hole had been cleared in the border. A dozen guards stood in the background, swords and whips at the ready, obviously expecting trouble.

“I’m sorry,” said Art in a small voice. “He wants it.”

For the moment, all thoughts of avoiding the boy were gone.

“Who wants it?” demanded Keli, although she already knew the answer.

“Itharien,” he sighed. “He knows it’s there now.”

Keli felt rage swell in her. She had been a fool!

“You told him!” she spat.

He looked up at her, tears streaking his unwashed face. There was no denial, no attempt at explanation. He seemed exhausted, accepting.

The peace was shattered by a scream. As another brick was chipped away, one of the workers whirled, clutching his head, a look of madness on his face. He began to claw down his temples and cheeks, to the eyes. In only a few seconds, his nails were dug into the sockets as he howled his agony.

One of the guards stepped forward, his lip curled in disgust. A quick sword-thrust put an end to the shrieking. Then he looked up, meeting the gaze of the terrified workers.

“Back to work,” he barked. There was a second that could have turned to rebellion – then the first of them turned back and began dully chipping at the brickwork again. After that, the rest followed.

“He won’t stop,” said Art, dully.

“You have to find a way of keeping it from him!” Keli half-begged, half shouted.

He shook his head. “I can’t.”

“You have to! There has to be a way. Please!”

His only response was to cover his eyes with his hands as he wept. Keli felt sick. She had been betrayed. Shakal had been right all along. This servant of Itharien had led them here, whether by choice or not.

Erath had told her to get the Stone of Oracles – and she was letting it fall into enemy hands. She had to do something. She had to wake up – tell the wolves, get into the city somehow. If Itharien got his hands on that treasure, then slim hope had become no hope at all!

She felt herself drifting away from the garden. Other dreams beckoned now, but she had no time for them. She retreated, the way she had come, into the world of wakefulness.

Her eyes snapped open. It was still very dark, but that no longer mattered to her. A meeting had to be called, right now! Barely pausing to pull her trousers and shoes on, she stooped through the doorway of her hut, squinting into the near blackness as she emerged.

The knowledge that something was wrong came to her instantly. She hesitated, trying to understand what her instinct was telling her. Shadows in the darkness, all in the wrong places. Outlines, stealthily advancing from many directions.

“Attack!” she shrieked out, panic cracking her voice. Simultaneously, she began to run across to where Shakal slept.

The camp erupted into life. Wolves scrambled up and out of their shelters, grabbing what weapons they could. The invaders were already swooping down in the darkness, weapons readied.

As the first of the humans grabbed her, instinct came into play. Her mind leapt at his, stopping the blade mid-thrust and taking his arm as hers. For a moment, she floundered, seeing through two sets of eyes at once, then she willed herself to keep stumbling in Shakal’s direction as the armed guard turned his weapon upon the closest ally.

One down, then another. They hadn’t expected one of their own to turn on them. Now, though, the element of surprise was gone. The possessed man was facing one of his own group, sword-to-sword. His mouth raised in a smile of Keli’s satisfaction. Time to leave that body.

Still, her skills were not practiced enough. Even as she deserted the possessed man, her own body tripped over a tree root and went sprawling. She lay, stunned, hearing the sounds of howls and shouts around her. The choked cry of a human, his throat ripped out mid-gurgle. The howl of a wolf as metal pierced its flesh.

She had to get up. She had to help. Her magic might tip the balance. She couldn’t tell how the fight was going, in the darkness – but maybe another possession or two and her people could have a chance at winning. ‘When did I start thinking of the wolves as my people?’ she thought in a daze, as she scrambled to her feet.

Still looking around for a target to send her spirit towards, she never heard the approach from the rear. There was only a jarring pain to the back of her skull… and darkness.


Keli awoke, stomach heaving. She barely had time to lean on her elbow before vomiting hot strands of bile on the rock floor.

She recognised her new location instantly; would have done even if there had been no light. The pounding of pain in the back of her skull was failing to drown out the buzzing whisper of a thousand pressing voices. It dizzied her, fear making the sensation a hundred times worse.

Torches flickered in wall braces all around. They lit the mouldy rock, making it writhe with unholy light and shadow. Wood beams propped up the edges of the cavern, where mud and great chunks of rock piled around the stone shapes of terrible rock creatures, half-embedded in the walls. One looked like a pre-historic kind of bear, another like a giant, lunging viper. There were other figures, not so well lit and even more frightening for their suggested shapes in the darkness. She was in the heart of Itharien’s ancient temple – at the other end of the labyrinth. Right where she had tried so hard to be – although not at all in the way that she had intended!

She was chained by one wrist, to a metal hoop in the rock. There was the taste of something chemical and repulsive around her mouth and nose. The sound of crying and calling came to her, above the buzzing noise. It came from the dark side of the cavern, opposite her, and from the corridor beyond. Four, maybe five people, although she could see none of them. They sounded unhappy and trapped, just like her.

Keli tested the chain half-heartedly. It was secure. Of course it was secure. She was trapped here, until they decided what to do with her. Until Itharien decided how she could best serve his cult.

She already knew how most people served Itharien. Vowing that she would not be the next sacrifice, she fought down panic and tried to think of a way out…
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Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5276
Location: Hell

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:25 pm    Post subject:  

Now that's never a good thing - chained up and ready for delivery. (Though chains aren't always a bad thing fo course...).

What to do though - cast out with her mind, try to locate someone? Maybe a guard, or one of her people if she can find them. Find out what she can through them - how many were captured, where they're being held, how many guards - that sort of thing.

If she finds a friend, then see what they know. Much the same information is what she wants, though maybe personalise it a bit more - ie, find out who else has been captured, how the battle went, who was injured. Information the soldiers wouldn't know/care about, but one of the wolves would be interested in, and it would show that she at least appears to care about the people.

Once she has the information she needs, try and possess a guard. Get him to release you and anyone else if you can, before dispossing of them.

Once you're free you can think of a new plan.
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The Powers That Be

Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 545
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:27 pm    Post subject:  

*pant pant*

Darn - I just made it through chapter 8. The mountain just got a little higher. I'll be back.

Huh. Only five votes on chapter 19? Is that the fate of long storygames? I was going to plot up the chapter-by-chapter voting data, but you've deleted all the polls :(
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Joined: 12 Oct 2005
Posts: 287
Location: Australia

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 7:31 pm    Post subject:  

I'm thinking in much the same way as lordofthenight is.

She should look around, try to figure out the best way to cause trouble and/or escape.
She should do this by possessing a guard. She should lie there, limp, eyes closed, not worrying even in the slightest what her body is doing. That way she can put all of her concentration into making the guard her puppet. She should get as much information from his mind about what he should be doing as possible. Then she should pretend she's doing that so that people aren't instantly suspicious.

If possible, the first thing the guard should do is unlock the lock/s holding her to the wall, but leave them in place so she doesn't look like she is free. Then if worst comes to worst and the guard's body is no longer safe, she can to return to her own body and just slip out of the chains and run and hide.
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Shady Stoat

Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 9:58 pm    Post subject:  

The Powers That Be wrote:
Huh. Only five votes on chapter 19? Is that the fate of long storygames? I was going to plot up the chapter-by-chapter voting data, but you've deleted all the polls :(

It does seem that long storygames struggle. Since chapter 9 or so, I've had between 6 and 9 voters. 5 votes is the worst, but many people are taking exams or on break at the moment.

Then again, I never really envisioned this as a long storygame when it started. It was meant to be about 10 or 11 chapters. The plot didn't get bigger, but the route do it certainly did! :-o

And sorry about the polls. If I ever win another SGotM, I'll keep them up, I promise ;)
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The Powers That Be

Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 545
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Posted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:02 pm    Post subject:  

No worries. I'll try to add to the total - I'm through chapter 12 now...
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Solomon Birch

Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:14 am    Post subject:  

Blimey! Pretty dastardly aren't they, these Itharien. Who taught them to be so dastardly, hm? WHO! :-o

Well, it works in pretty much the same way as Lordy's suggestion, but she should use item reading on the shackles, to see the guard who locked them, and then she should seek him out, as he they will hopefully have the key's for the lock. Then she can get him to slit his own throat or something (would she be able to do that? Maybe just knock himself out) and then peg it. If she kinda knows where she is, then that's helpful. She needs to find a secluded spot where she can try and contact or find the presence of Shakal or one of the other Weres.

Well, at least she's in the city now! That's helpful, kinda....

*holds breath* :shock:
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Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:53 am    Post subject:  

Quote: Well, at least she's in the city now! That's helpful, kinda....

The glass half full then is it ;)

I'm more wary of Itherien and what he knows. Not only has the Were's camp been discovered, but the Oracle's orb is threatened. Art must have told more than we realised, and he seems to have much the same powers as we do, if untrained. Perhaps Itherien doesn't know we can take control of people, but I think it is naive to think so. Have we told Art about our other powers? I doubt we'll be seeing a guard anytime soon.

I think learning what we can via item identification on the manacles is worth a try. If we can get an image of a guard, then we can try seeking him out, but if he's a distance away we need to walk him back to the cell - can we use his memories to negotiate the labrynth, or are we likely to just get him 'lost' too?

I'll be back with more thoughts if they arise.

Happy Writing :)
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The Powers That Be

Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 545
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:33 pm    Post subject:  

Sigh, she should have worked harder on Spirit-Walking. Well, my read is that she can do it, but only in line-of-sight. That should be good enough to get her out of the shackles, no? Then off to control the guards...
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Shady Stoat

Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 2:41 am    Post subject:  

Hmm... in what way do you want to use spirit-walking, Powers?

That magic is basically just a sensory extension. The experience spirit-walker can throw out a ghost-form capable of wandering away from the body, through walls, up to better vantage points, towards a group of people so you can overhear their conversations without them being aware of your presence...

But it can't manipulate its environment. There's no way of teleporting or unlocking shackles via the ghost-form. For Keli, I don't see that there's much she can do with spirit-walking at the moment, other than take a good look around the cave, maybe spy out some of the other voices she can hear but not see.

Or did you have something else in mind?
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The Powers That Be

Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 545
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:00 am    Post subject:  

No, just misread it - comes from catching up on the story too quickly. It would be useful for finding a guard to control, but she hasn't shown that she's good enough at it to manage that. She could try, though.
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Mother Goose

Joined: 09 May 2004
Posts: 511
Location: Connecticut

Posted: Wed Jun 14, 2006 5:48 pm    Post subject:  

If Keli is inside the temple now, maybe her powers are magnified and enhanced. Could she communicate, for instance, with the Oracle, if he's not dead? Or find some other source of knowledge (by spirit walking), say an ancient library that Itharien doesn't know about that would teach her how to counter the soul-stones? Or even read the knowledge hidden in them!

Or could she, instead of just being an observer in a dream, actually affect things, like what's going on in the garden? Her mission, after all, is to save the Stone of Oracles, and the only way she's been close to it is in a dream.
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Joined: 11 May 2006
Posts: 344
Location: California

Posted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:24 pm    Post subject:  

Oh man, I start in on one of these things and then I spend to whole day reading :) Awesome story. Althought I can't help but see a pattern in many story games I've read it seems our hero's plans just never work. You're running away, then you try to do something productive and BAM evil jumps up and slaps you down again :)

Well a teacher of mine once said that to write the middle (or conflict) part of a story you just put your character up a tree and keep throwing rocks at him. he doesn't get out of it till the climax.

This certainly seems like an approaching climax to me. As Mother goose points out the oracle gave her the objective of getting to this stone in the imperial garden, and has she done anything about that? If I remember correctly he said it would let the worthy pass through. She should try to get through that wall in her dream, maybe she could use that stone even in her dream state. Who knows what it does but it's gotta be something helpfull :)
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Shady Stoat

Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 12:11 am    Post subject:  

Poll's up again. It's one of those 'what are you going to do first?' polls, as many of the options were mingled in with each other. :D
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Solomon Birch

Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:06 am    Post subject:  

Went for the first option. The others seem a little risky when we're chained to a wall, and the second option seems to passive.

*holds breath* :shock:
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Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5276
Location: Hell

Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:39 am    Post subject:  

I also voted for the first option, and winning.
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Posted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 8:56 am    Post subject:  

If she can "Spirit Walk" why can she not harness the power of the "Stone of Oracles"

The only way I can see these Stones being imprinted is through "Spirit Walking".
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Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8879

Posted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:29 pm    Post subject:  

Um, missed the discussion.

Anyway, I like the idea of possession. Hopefully a guard will stand nearby. Everyone knows guard duty is boring, so he will be sleepy and hopefully that will make him easier to 'infiltrate'.
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The Powers That Be

Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 545
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Posted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 8:01 pm    Post subject:  

Hmm, I find that I just don't have a strong opinion about this decision, so I'll just sit back and wait for the next chapter. :-|
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Shady Stoat

Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:13 am    Post subject:  

Okay, accessing the Stone of Oracles through dream magic appears to have won. Thanks for voting, everyone. The new chapter should be up before too long :D
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Solomon Birch

Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:24 am    Post subject:  

Looking forward to it Stoatly one! :D

*holds breath* :shock:
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Shady Stoat

Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:42 am    Post subject:  

Chapter 21 up. Locking this one. :D
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