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Chapter 6
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Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 1005

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:24 pm    Post subject: Chapter 6  

Finally, a chapter. Apologies, i've been working on some other projects. But this cleaning up of our city has forced my fingers to work, and so here we are. A little rough, as usual (i should probably go back and edit one day). I was going to go for longer, perhaps work in a little exposition, but i think this is a good DP for the moment.

Chapter 6

When I looked back from DuskTreader, I started seeing triple. Then quadruple. I growled deep in the back of my throat, eyes flicking from one to the o-

Wait. That wasn’t right. I wasn’t growling. It was. It…. For the first time I really felt it there. Unlike last time, I was there, and so was whatever it was. Still, I wasn’t much more than a watcher, if more aware than before.

And what I was watching…. Well it would have been funny if I hadn’t known them. What came next was a catastrophe. The two men swung vainly at shadows, cutting at images of the Illusionist while the real one wove through their defenses, leaving long red lines slashed across black cloth and weathered skin. Corbie swung his sword again and again, but the clash of steel on steel never sounded. All she did was toy with them, so far, leaving only scratches where deathblows could be dealt. And both of the men knew it. I wanted to help, but all I could do was watch. I watched Corbie’s blade spin off into the gathering gloom. I watched one of Raul’s knives fall to the ground as his wrist turns at an unnatural angle. And I watched Corbie get taken into an armlock, saw Raul leap forward with dagger outstretched…. Saw the swordblade leap out of the Illusionist’s back and take Raul through the chest.

He fell to the ground.

The Creature sprang into motion, the claws and tail straining forward, eager to attack. Corbie hit the stones like a sack of potatoes, and the Illusionist dissolved into mist. We turned, my companion and I, revolving slowly, feet spread, claws snapping and tail swaying like an adder waiting to strike. We turned and turned, and then I felt something snaking around my throat.
As the world slowly narrowed, claws and tail struck randomly, always meeting air, while the thing around my throat grew tighter and tighter. The world became a pinpoint of light, then darkness came. And when the darkness of death came upon me, a different darkness left.
Perhaps the oath sworn to the Dark Lord did more than just give me the feeling of being fed through flames.

The part of me that was still there didn’t expect to wake up. But light returned, suddenly, with DuskTreader standing over me. From the light of the sun, not much time had passed. It was barely twilight now. That was the first thing I noticed. The second was the large bruise on DuskTreader’s face, a dark purple splotch on otherwise pale skin.

The third thing was the Illusionist, and a sword swinging at my face. It stopped a hairsbreadth from my left eye, and overly polite tones told me to get off my ass. Under the stiff tones, there was a strong undercurrent of “I have a pointy metal object in my hand that can make you, so you might as well get up on your own.”

I got up.

Amazingly, I was claw, tail, leg, and other various appendage-free. I even checked for tentacles.
The sword vanished into a wisp of smoke, and the Illusionist gestured towards a group of horses that had not been there when I had fallen unconscious. One of them was most obviously hers. It was a giant black beast, as calm and immovable as if it were carved from stone, with eyes that glowed a faint red in the fading sun, its mane hanging to the ground in dark straggles that seemed to sway even when the beast was immobile. The others three horses, lesser beings, shied away from it, whinnying. One of those lesser beasts had Corbie on its back. He seemed alive, if beat up, and I had already been pretty handily defeated once. Plus I wasn’t sure I could even call the Creature back, though I had an inkling of a possibility of how too. So I let things lie and got on the horse the Illusionist pointed to. DuskTreader got onto the remaining one, and then we rode off into the sunset. The horses stepped around the corpse of Raul Nightslayer.

Pretty much the instant we got out of sight of Dulca, Dusktreader asked, “Where are we going?” I could hear fear in her voice, a tinge emphasized by the fact that it was kind of a stupid question. Where else would we be going? Ixia was where the Amaranth was, right?

The Illusionist was silent. Dusktreader started to ask again, querulous tones wavering like a candle’s light.

The Illusionist’s voice is like a chill wind. “Hold your tongue, or I will hold it for you.” She did not even look back from her position in front. She added something, almost an afterthought. “And it might no longer be attached to your head.”

The trip after that was silent. Thank goodness it wasn’t long.

I caught my first glance of Ixia while invisible. Not that I saw the invisibility, but other people did. Or didn’t. Whatever. Ixia was not what I expected. From what I had heard of the Amaranth so far, I expected something in dark stone that loomed. But Ixia was surprisingly… rustic. The only hints of its being the seat of an Empire were the walls, made of grey stone and standing tall enough to feel protective, though not enough to loom. We picked our way through busy streets, veiled by the Illusionist. Man and beast made space as they passed, though they seemed unaware of their deviations.

In this way, we reached the Amaranth. She was residing in a mansion, ornate, though nowhere near the scale of the castle of the Dark Lord, or what little I had seen of it. Servants bustled, attending to this and that. We arrived at a pair of guards who saluted when they saw us, the Illusionist having dropped the veil when we arrived at the stables. They saluted, and the Illusionist waved me in, along with Dusktreader. She stayed behind to talk to the guards, Corbie stumbling behind on a lead.

And we met the Amaranth. Before I could even absorb what she looked like, before I got further than seeing the frillery of the room, the Beast arrived. Or tried to. Though red mist clouded my vision, I didn’t feel the familiar growth of additional limbs, nor did the mind of the Beast take over. And after several seconds, I the mist dissipated, and I saw the Amaranth. She stood before me, fingers touching my temples, though I had not felt them before, white light glowing on her fingers. Her black hair was curled above her head in an elaborate masterpiece, her dress a similar statement of nobility and class. Around her neck hung a small black vial, with dull grey runes decorating it. I noticed a red rune on its cork, somewhat at odds with her gentile appearance. Her eyes were a bright and vibrant green. And the rest of her….

Well, looking at her, it was hard to believe she was evil. In other words, if I had known her in the real world (and assuming she were willing) I’d probably jump her. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t real. This was a world I had created, however twisted it might be.

When she spoke, her hands now lowered, I had to remind myself of it a lot.

“You are the Hunted, newest of the Shadowsworn, sent to kill me. And with you is Dusktreader, youngest of the Nightbringers, and your handler.” There wasn’t really a question in that, so I wasn’t sure how to respond. But Dusktreader took the opportunity to speak up.

“We are high in the ranks of the Dark Lord’s army. If you kill us, no power in this world shall save you.”

The Amaranth raised an exquisitely carved eyebrow. “As if he wasn’t angry before?” She laughed, a tinkling thing that floated through the room. “Don’t worry, I don’t plan to kill you.”

The DuskTreader seemed dumbfounded at this. “Well then, what do you plan?” She seemed afraid of the answer. Such a difference from the self-assured sorceress I had met in that castle.

“That is entirely up to you.” The Amaranth looks at me, green eyes wise and kind. “I can get you sent you back home. I can answer your questions. And neither of those will require you to help me in any way. Any service you do me is entirely of your own choice.”

She could send me home?

She must have caught the confusion on my face, for she laughed again. “Alas, I can not myself send you home. But the power of the one who summoned you can.” She looked meaningfully at DuskTreader, who huddled in on herself, her dark cloak out of place among the bright lights of the room. “She may not wish to, initially, but I am sure that she could be… persuaded to cooperate.”

The sinister meaning was entirely at odds with her tinkling voice, reminding me that, despite appearances, the Amaranth might not exactly be what you would call one of the good guys.
I hesitated, waiting, expecting the Beast to take over my voice as it had done before, but it did not come. Should I work with the Amaranth? I didn’t know what would happen to me if I did. I was linked to the Dark Lord somehow; would that make this risky? But the promise of answers, and even more so of home was so tempting…. And she said I didn’t have to promise her anything.

DP is relatively obvious. Comments, criticisms, please. I'm a bit rusty with this world, so I don't think this style quite matches previous chapters. It is by no means perfect, though i hope to make it better with your contributions.
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Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 3998

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:55 am    Post subject:  

I think the chapter length was good this time, not too long. I'd suggest at this stage putting together a synopsis. This will help people like myself remind themselves of the characters and what has come before, and for new players to jump straight in. :)

On to the DP. Obviously too good to be true. The one who summoned him here is the Dark Lord, right?

I think he needs to explore the alternative - maybe it will reveal the Amaranth's true colours.

I'd say call her bluff. Refuse, and wait for the reaction.
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Joined: 24 May 2006
Posts: 1005

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:48 pm    Post subject:  

Actually, the person who summoned him was technically DuskTreader, at the Dark Lord's bidding. Apologies if that was unclear.

And yeah, i was thinking of doing a synopsis. It's getting hard for ME to keep track.
It's been so long since i've written this that i had to keep looking at previous chapters to figure out what was going on.
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Joined: 19 Sep 2008
Posts: 28

Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:51 pm    Post subject:  

Well, even if she were to get him home, that would end the story, wouldn't it? And anyway, it would require some "persuading" of DuskTreader...and I dunno about you, but that sounds to me like it would involve a dismemberment or two :shock:

I'd say find out what the Amaranth knows. I wouldn't expect her to tell the truth, but honestly, what does he have to lose at this point? And she must be keeping him alive for a reason, so this is his chance to find out what he's dealing with.

Sorry if this doesn't make much sense, they're just some thoughts :? And on a totally different note, remind me again why he's fighting for someone who calls himself "The Dark Lord"? It just strikes me as odd for some reason :(
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Joined: 13 Sep 2009
Posts: 2139
Location: Rising from the ashes

Posted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:33 am    Post subject:  

Ask if she can remove him from his oath.

This evil vs evil theme is tough... he really doesn't have a clear enemy here, not one that's justified anyhow, at least yet, or any moreso than his 'allies'.

He needs to try to figure out how he can manipulate this world. Apparently he created it, to some extent, through his writings, or at least tapped into what was real in some other dimmension. Surely, as a result, he should have some power here. Perhaps if he were to start writing the story out somehow, then assume that its the opposite of what he wrote? But I guess, this just means he needs to learn as much as he can about where he is still, and if he can, get some time to himself with some scrolls, a pen, and a full vial of ink.

I'm enjoying the story, but I must admit, there's a lot of places, not so much in this chapter, along the way, that really confused me what you were getting at... but meh... maybe that's just me.
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Joined: 30 Sep 2008
Posts: 300
Location: Lurking under the shadows, waiting for the moment.

Posted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:49 am    Post subject:  

I'm enjoying this story, but I don't no whether its going to get continued anytime soon... lol. Ahh wellz, all great things come in time. =D
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