Fleeing from the horrific creations of a Necromantic cult in the small village of Decima, a rag tag group of survivors came across an artifact believed to exist only in legends, the Scepter of the Stilled Eye. The relic of the Dark God Sean lay deep within a hidden cave near Decima. Drawn in by the Scepter, the group is transported to bizarre dream worlds where they have to survive the Scepter's test, not knowing what might expect them once they awake from the dream.
Chapter 1 - Part 1 - Master Party - Army of Darkness
Chapter 1 - Part 2 - Master Party - Day of the Dead
Chapter 1 - Part 3 - Master Party - The Reaper's Cry
Chapter 1 - Part 4 - Master Party - Dreams of the Stilled Eye
Chapter 1 - Part 5 - Master Party - The Caryathid Tower
Chapter 2 - Part 1 - Master Party - Preparations
The second floor of the Demon Horn tower did not logically make any sense within the structure of the tower itself, the first room was extremely small, it was composed of several concentric circles, the outer and thickest circle was a passageway whereas the others seemed alite with flame. Around the circle were six doors, one led to the first floor, and the one opposite to it was clearly connected to an ascending staircase, the other four doors, however, all had different names inscribed on them. From left to right, the first door was decorated with what seemed to be twisted Lynx runes, with a tribal mask placed over the center of the door. Beneath the mask, some runes read; "Akuma's Lab, Do not enter.", the second door was little more than a shining, black stone slab, carved on it with precise, indented white lines was the crescent moon/scythe of Sean. The third door seemed to be semi-burned, dark oak, which, if looked at a glance, resembled flayed skin, over it was carved a circle with several lines intercrossed around its perimeter. The last door seemed like a slab of white stone, probably marble, with black lines, as if it had been dipped in black ink and then it had immediately dried.
One didn't need to be a mage to feel the darkness of this place, Rumiko
thought to herself as she arrived to the second floor. An almost claustrophobic feeling threatened to take over her, as the outlook of finding an exit back to the "real" world didn't seem to be close. The xiadomian woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath, to regain control of herself, before starting to inspect the white stone door.
said, breaking the long silence the party was experiencing, "I believe there is not a worse place in all of creation, that I have been." The priest laughed, then held his gloved hand in front of his face to produce a cough. "Miss Rumiko, let's all have a consensus on which door to open first." Ortho said, reaching out his hand, "If we are to leave this horrid place, we must do so all as one group."
stopped what she was doing when Ortho spoke to her. "Yes... you're right", she said, as if remembering there was this group with her in this mess. A little puzzled by Ortho's stretched hand, she just stared at the priest, wondering if he meant to touch her or if that was just a gesture of kindness, or something of the sort.
It sure was a good idea to decide which room was best to break into first, and maybe Ri'hane
could help choose the less ominous of the four by remembering something about the place. She walked around the room and took a closer look at the doors, still trusting her own power of deduction more than others, and meanwhile she tried to search through her mind for any knowledge about these rooms, that could help them. (General Knowledge)
Ri'hane reckoned she'd spent very little time in the second floor, it was a place dedicated mostly to mages. The little she knew, however was that each door in the second floor led to a different Laboratory or library. It was where most of the knowledge available to the lower pawns of the Circle was stored. The were four labs/libraries, one belonged to a deranged mage called Akuma, though the higher ups recognized his talent, many considered him an oddball, his strange behaviour keeping him from climbing further up the ranks. The other three were dedicated to Necromancy, Hellspawning and Corrupting magics.
Walking behind the others, Vineg
looked more to the direction from which they came, but of course took glances to the front as well. Ey was a bit intrigued by the manner of construction in the place and smirked. Other than that, ey liked to ogle Ri'hane's backside. "Come on, priest, don't be so negative
." Vineg felt amused at the insight and kept on grinning.
Following behind the rest of the group, Camus
eyed the small area they were in with mild annoyance before shifting his gaze on the four doors in the room. Giving a cursory glance toward each one, the Paladin grumbled before turning to the slowly dwindling members of his group, "It would be for the wiser if we had some sort of idea on what lies beyond these doors before choosing to enter one." Camus swept his arm around to focus attention on the bizarre decorations of each door, "It should be clear these symbols indicate something... perhaps any one of you would know?"
"Well said, sir Camus." Ortho
reinforced the paladin's observations, and then took a moment to reason out what the doors might have behind them. First the priest pointed out the white stone with black lines, "That one obviously deals with some sort of corruption... notice the tired idealism of the necromancer's symbolism of black tainting white." The third door, resembling flayed skin gave Ortho an impression he had to announce, "I dare say that one is rather apparent of a h... hellsp... you know." The door of a shiny black slab of stone had Ortho change tone into more of a mumble, "Black magic specialist, note the Sean symbol. Wretched thing." Lastly, the door with the mask on it gave Ortho a bit of a cheerful expression, "Oh look Camus, Catfolk writing." Ortho had few fond memories of their tribal society, having spent time in a prison of their people, "Well, at least a step up for this place."
observed the doors. Ortho's suggestions made sense, she thought. Still, they would probably have to check each room anyway, so she truly didn't mind on which one they started. "Should we go through that one first then?" she asked pointing towards Akuma's Lab, after the priest made a remark about the Catfolk. If it was in this tower, though, they probably wouldn't be facing someone nice.
leaned against the wall and with her arms crossed over her chest she said in the lowest voice, which was more of a whisper, "Yeah, go for the craziest mage! If others work with hellspawns, I wouldn't want to know what he does in there!" She then sniffed and looked at the other side of the room. She really didn't care which room they were going to enter first as long as they did it sooner than later, so she could get to her redclaw faster.
raised an eyebrow as he stared at the door Ortho pointed at before shaking his head slightly and said, "We may have enemies all over. It would perhaps be better for us if we focus our efforts on the kind we're more... 'specialized' in dealing with." He indicated Cross Redemption toward the door with the Sean symbol, "Black Magic practitioners are more our forte, don't you agree Ortho? If we are to either battle or otherwise deal with the locals here, better to do so against one we're more familiar with."
"You assume that we are only dealing with enemies here, sir Camus." Ortho
responded, "Do you not recall Sefah? A sworn enemy reborn?" The priest tapped his Antanukas on the floor and then called for a vote, "I believe everyone should choose a door, and the door with the most votes shall be cast as our collective choice."
's expression grew more and more annoyed as Ortho spoke, and eventually ey walked over to the priest and kicked his staff, though very lightly; it was barely enough to move the weapon if Ortho would let it happen. "Now that that's done an' over with, I vote we go check behind the door where it says not to enter. Can there be a better invitation?"
eyebrow twitched when Vineg dared to touch a holy object of Nesha. However, his priestly ways had him smile and place a hand on the corrupt eolan's shoulder. "Peace and patience." After slowly patting Vineg's shoulder, Ortho pulled his hand away and turned to the rest of the group, "I suppose that means Camus and Vineg have chosen. That leaves Miss Rumiko, and Lady Ri'hane. Oh, and myself of course."
"I really think it doesn't make much difference which door we go through first", said Rumiko
plainly, who didn't quite agree with the voting method chosen by Ortho. "However, if you think you have an advantage dealing with black magic, I'd support that choice", she said to Camus, while eyeing the black door with the symbol of Sean.
"I say any of the doors would be a good first choice but Akuma's lair. But since I don't care which, you can count my vote with any of the other doors that gets chosen most.", replied Ri'hane
After taking a good while thinking it through lazily.
"Very well then, the black magic door it is." Ortho
determined, and turned to Vineg, "Sorry child, perhaps next time." The priest then motioned his hand from Camus to the door, "If you please, sir."
"Well sorry, MOTHER, if you think that I care!" stated Vineg
to Ortho and as a response to him putting his hand on eir shoulder, ey put eir hand on Ortho's head and shuffled his hair.
put on a smile and straightened his hair, and gave a reply to Vineg's behavior, "Surely in the face of pure evil and unjust destruction, your countenance is a sight closer to that of the divine."
"It's decided then." Camus
stoically spoke while rolling his eyes at the actions of the Eolan and Ortho. The Paladin wasn't much for humor nor consorting with would-be prisoners, but kept his thoughts to himself as he approached the black magic door. Ever expecting the worst, he kept a vice-like grip on his weapon as he proceeded to open the door.
"Would you perhaps like to bask in my divinity?" asked Vineg
seemingly seriously and grinned. Ey also poked Ortho's staff a little with eir finger, not not in an aggravating manner.
"No thanks." Ortho
replied, "Nesha is a jealous goddess, false idols are not welcomed." The priest took a moment to keep his guard up, pulling the Antanukas from Vineg's finger and gripping the staff with two hands.
looked dismissive and waved eir hand accordingly. "Pft, 'Nesha'. Silly humans, eradicating half of yourselves and your so-called gods."
Since the door had no handle, Camus tried to simply push it in order to open it. However, there was no reaction, the black door would not open. After a second or so, the paladin began to feel a slight tickle in the tip of his fingers. Soon, it grew into a burning feeling, then Camus realized it was as if the spot on the door he had touched had been liquefied and now, on its own accord, the gooey substance climbed, ever so slowly onto his fingers, burning like acid in the process!
"What is this...!?" Camus
let out a hiss of pain as he violently and reflexively tried to pull his hand away from the door. The burning feeling nearly made him howl in agony, but he tightened his mouth, biting his bottom lip in a display of sheer will power and typical paladin pride. In the back of his mind, he chastised himself for ignoring the possibility that the door could have been enchanted.
"Camus!" said Rumiko
as she watched the dark substance, asking herself the same question the paladin had spoken. She had no clue of what to do, so she turned to look alarmed at Ortho, who probably could do something about it.
Raising eir eyebrow, Vineg
grinned and looked fairly curiously at the door and Camus's ordeal with the goo that came off it. Ey thought of saying something about trying water before diving, but didn't bother. Instead, ey wondered what was up with the goo. (Knowledge P)
"Damned corruptions, I should have been more aware of this." Ortho
said instinctively, but the priest wanted to be especially sure of it before applying any counterspell. (Knowledge)
It seemed quite obvious to Ortho that the door had been enchanted with dark magics, however, he could not identify at first sight which spell or spells had been used, let alone consider that customized spells or rituals could have been used to ward the entrance. Without someone with intricate knowledge of dark magic, Ortho could either try every counterspell he could in order to dispell the enchantments or figure out the way to open the door, or he could investigate it more in depth. However, both these options would consume lots of time the party didn't have.
"Can't anyone do something before this thing burns his hand like acid?!", hissed Ri'hane
, frustrated with the situation. She rushed forward to take a closer look at Camus' hand. She was no expert at the dark arts of black magic, and if anyone could help it was the priest, but nonetheless she tried to remember anything that could help. (Knowledge)
Fortunately, when Camus withdrew his hand, the goo remained stuck to the door instead of keep on burning the paladin and he had only sustained minor burns. The goo seemed to be a deterrent rather than a killing device. Looking back on her short memories within the tower (as she had spent more than 90% of the time doing field assignments) she remembered she had never opened a door herself. While she was in the tower, she was usually accompanied by the High Vampire, Seien, and he had always opened the doors within the tower. In fact, in the upper floors, even mid and low rank necromancers seemed to wait until someone in charge opened doors for them, simply by placing their hands dead on the middle of one and pushing lightly.
told others about what little thing she knew and then continued, "Can't we tell that converted necromancer to try? I think only people with high black magic levels can open it the easy way."
was a little disappointed when the dark ooze didn't consume Camus's hand after all, but mostly ey was miffed at not really knowing anything about the stuff in the first place. Ey felt like poking the thing with eir sword, but didn't particularly want to risk the weapon either. Vineg felt a bit like rolling eir eyes at Ri'hane but refrained, and instead said: "Did he look like an expert to you?" Ey grinned then and grabbed eir chin in a contemplative manner. "I wonder if an arm would suffice."
"Great, we can't enter", said Rumiko
frustrated, and brought a hand to her forehead, thinking. She was relieved that nothing serious had happened to Camus, but this proved it was likely they would encounter more traps around. She thought about what options they had, maybe they could throw something at the door to break it. "Maybe we can shout and wait for someone to come out. If there is anybody", she said, leaving out the comment of how suicidal that choice could really be.
"Who are we waiting for?" asked Vineg
and looked at Ortho. "Consecrate it already. If that doesn't work, we might just as well go through the wall or give up. Didn't you use green magic back in Septima? See if it works on the wall. An' you, Mighty Paladin of Phal— Pathos, you might just as well headbutt it and prove to us all how thick yer skull really is." Ey smiled widely at Rumiko. "Though I don't object to YOUR idea either!"
"A better idea would be for me to use your head as a battering ram, Eolan." Camus
grumbled as he carefully examined his burned hand , making sure it still functioned well enough and wouldn't hold him back, "Although a consecration would work just as well". After a few moment's examination, he nodded slightly in satisfaction before looking at the other doors around the group, wondering if they all had similar mechanisms on them to deter unwanted guests.
"If they have gone through the trouble of putting magic barriers on the doors, I'm sure they've thought of ways so no one can get through the walls either! I think that's simple logic for even the most primary brains.", said Ri'hane
as she glanced back at Akuma's door, thinking maybe in his mess of a mind he might have used different kinds of traps other than black magic to keep people away. After all, he wasn't in the higher ranks, so he might have a lesser trap set up.
"Well, apparently this tower went through some kind of disaster, according to what the necromancer downstairs said. Maybe if we ask the right way someone will open", Rumiko
insisted, thinking that the idea wasn't that crazy. Other than that, she had no more suggestions. She crossed her arms over her chest and awaited the rest of the group to make their comments.
"Yes, a consecration would work." Ortho
thought, "But we might as well announce ourselves to the entire tower. No one in our group has used white magic, and in a den of necromancers I believe white magic would stand out. Nor would it actually grant us access if the door were consecrated. I believe that if they had put so much effort into this elaborate trap that only their elders could gain access, then certainly they would have given thought to any intruders that could dispel such a curse. Perhaps the eolan's head would serve well as a battering ram." The priest then pulled out a scroll of red magic, and then held his chin while thinking, "I may be able to offer us an alternative, thanks to Kei'rin." The priest's eyes dashed back and forth, remembering that the crazy hydran girl had gone unseen for a while, "A scroll of combustion might just blow the door open, if I can determine these... catfolk symbols. The spell is lynx clan in origin, I believe."
"Now now, unlike you, I have an actual brain." Vineg
eyed Camus evaluatively while saying that. "I at least dared to start using it, even though I might not know much about your stupid magics. Besides, why would walls have such intricate protection? Usually people assume that walls can't be penetrated just because they're so strong. So, with enough force or the right spell..." Vineg turned to Ortho as he said something about blowing the door open. "If you're going to use that, wait until I've gone around the corner." With that, Vineg walked to the back of the group but didn't yet go around the "corner".
"Explosions and noise would only incur trouble." Camus
replied with a frown as he eyed Vineg with clear distaste. He'd have to put the Eolan in its place sooner or later. "A more proactive idea", he continued as he slowly raised Cross Redemption and walked around the room ,"would be to test if the rest of these doors have similar mechanisms." Having given his input, the Paladin proceeded to tap the weapon a few times against the remaining doors, testing for a reaction.
As Camus tapped the door, there was the same reaction as it had been with his hand. Inklike dark tentacles began to climb onto Cross Redemption as soon as it made contact, only to retreat unto the obsidian door once the weapon stopped making contact. The process repeated itself once or twice, every time the weapon made contact.
"As you wish, sir Camus." Ortho
replied, then continued to try an discern the spell. It was a complex one, having similar level to one of his most powerful spells. Ortho wanted to make sure he would cast it properly, as red magic usually left little room for error and did not lovingly caress those that fail in its casting. "Explosions may alert them to us, but under the guise of an experiment... which is likely happening here, it may not give as much warning as casting a white magic spell would." the Priest reasoned, mostly to himself as he followed the symbols, "I think that symbol means... umm, well... fire. I suppose. Looks like a little flame anyway."
Ortho continued reading the spell under his breath, trying to make sense of the symbols and glyphs. Suddenly, he felt extreme heat on his hands. He dropped the scroll, which immediately combusted into a flash of light and flame. Noticing he had miscast the spell, Ortho quickly tried to fix it, aiming his hands at the door. The fired expanded from his hands and the scroll towards the door, setting it alight immediately! Ortho was pushed back by the flaming wave, his hands were burned in the process and he took 5 damage! In the meantime, the door bubbled and a high shriek came from it as it was engulfed in fire. The fire turned blue and a foul stench came from it, alongside black smoke, and then, it died off. Instead of the smooth obsidian door, all that was left covering the entrance was a rough slab of smouldering grey rock, unpoloished and unadorned.
Ortho gained 400 XP!
watched surprised as the priest managed to cast the red magic spell successfully. For a moment, she had doubted his abilities. The door didn't blow up, she noted, as Vineg had suspected it would. But then again, it was made of stone, which wasn't easily destroyed. She wondered what kind of creature, or whatever it was, had been guarding the door. The dark magic in this place was surprising, she thought. Assuming the black tentacles that had attacked Camus previously were now dead, Rumi approached the entrance and tried to kick the door open.
looked at Ortho and was indeed glad that ey had went behind the corner, shaking eir head a bit at the others for not doing so. Had they never seen explosions? Ey walked up to Ortho and patted him on the head. "Brave little priest. Feeling all accomplished? Do you have a similar spell for killing off that thing from all of the doors, or do we need to think up something else?" Vineg grinned a bit, watching as Rumiko tried kicking the door in.
Rumiko ran towards the door and delivered a massive kick at the huge stone slab. The Stone door shook and then slowly fell backwards, making a huge sound which echoed all through the floor. On the other side of the door was another circular room, but much larger than the central one the group was in at the moment. From their vantage point the group couldn't see much of the next room, it seemed like it was a mixture between a library and a lab. The floor was made of beautifully polished black marble, with greyish stone walls. There were one or two long tables populated with open books, vials, bones, calcinators, mortars and other such alchemical elements. And a segment of wall opposite to the entrance had three heavy bookshelves filled to the brim with tomes.
"Ha! Went better than I expected." Ortho
laughed, and then covered his hands in cloth, "I should have been a flame bearer, probably would have been great at it." Ortho nudged an elbow into Camus, and jostled his eyebrows before answering Vineg, "Unfortunately, I only had the one scroll. However, look inside that room, I'm sure the secrets to enter the others are hidden well inside." Now that he had a moment, Ortho took the time to properly managed the wounds on his hands. (Healing)
Quickly tending to his wounds, applying some bandages and herbs he moistened with a bit of water and crushed with his fingers, Ortho managed to prevent the burn from setting in an recovered 5 HP!
Initially disappointed that his own tactic didn't seem to do any good, Camus swiftly turned his head as heard and felt the fiery blaze hit the door behind him and was surprised to see Ortho's attempt work. Although it slightly damaged his own pride, the paladin mentally shrugged it off and responded to the priest, "The first step would be trying not to burn yourself, but yes, such a career would work grandly." Breathing in slowly, Camus warily began to enter the room to get a better view of the area (spot).
Camus approached the room and began to enter, however, the circular design and the short, yet narrow hallway leading to the next room ensured anyone could only see up to half of the room without entering fully. From his vantage point Camus wasn't able to see anything about the room he hadn't noticed initially.
Rumiko looked at Ortho and suppressed a chuckle at his comment about a career in red magic wielding. Without wasting time, she turned back to the new discovered room, and slowly walked in, carefully looking around. If there was anybody there, they had most likely heard them already. She stood still for a moment, and listened for any noises coming from, maybe, hidden people. (Listen)
Unfortunately for Rumi, she wasn't able to hear anything coming from the room. However, she did hear the very light rustling of feet behind the group. Nevertheless, this could have been caused by any of her companions.
On the other side of the hall, the door to Akuma's Lab silently swung open. A Xiadomian woman by the name of Rei Hachiro carefully looked around the corner, trying to stay at least moderatly hidden. She noticed the source of the explosion: the door to the lab across across the room had been blasted out, and now, a group of people she didn't know seemed to be entering it. She turned back, and spoke softly into the room: "Sir, we appear to have visitors." (Hide)
Rei tried her best to keep quiet and move about without being detected, however, Rumiko and Vineg managed to vaguely pick up the creak of the door being opened and the sound of her feet. Ortho, on the other side, heard the whole thing very clearly, down to what Rei had whispered.
Curious, Vineg was about to look about the room that had just been revealed when ey heard the extraneous sounds. Ey looked puzzled and turned somewhat discreetly to look at the door. Ey then whispered, figuring that it might be better if whoever was there didn't know that they had been noticed: "There's someone there. Should we yell at them or charge them?"
"The eolan is right", whispered Rumiko to the group after Vineg had spoken. She turned around and moved back to the first room. If they had both heard something coming from that direction, it wasn't a noise produced by their own group, she thought.
From inside Akuma's Lab, another voice spoke out, carrying a hint of Xiadomian slur. The speaker was clearly oblivious to Rei's try at covertness since his words were loud and clear. "My minions? Already! Wonderful, bring them in!" The voice, whose owner was Iason Lorena, told Rei, without actually coming to the door to see who she had been talking about.
Somewhat surprised, rather than alarmed at hearing a new voice coming from right behind her, from Akuma's lab, Ri'hane who was still in the first room, took her Salvo in hand and looked back at the door, ready to take action if they were going to be surprised.
The woman who had opened the door, Rei, figured that if they hadn't noticed the door, they'd definitely have noticed Akuma speaking so loudly, pushed open the door, and revealed herself. She was a slim Xiadomian woman, wearing a lot of black clothes, and holding a wicked looking kukri and a dragon fan. She watched the group in the hall, and held up her weapons, in case they might appear to be hostile. "Alright, who are you? Did the Necromancers send you?"
Ortho placed his hand out in front of Vineg, "They are not attacking, and so neither shall we." The priest walked up and introduced himself, "Greetings, I am Ortho ... Paedic." Ortho knew his name might be on the villains list for this tower, and did not wish to be fully exposed to any lingering hate for his previous exploits, "And these are my band of merry men, especially this one." Ortho gave great attention at that moment to Vineg, "Excluding of course, Miss Ri'hane." The priest then pointed out the black magic door he blew open, "As you can tell by this... entrance we made, we are certainly not necromancers. However, we're not priests of another sort either. In fact, we came only to get an item taken from us by those dastardly necromancers." Ortho did his best to convince the two from Akuma's Lab that they were not enemies with a peaceful smile. (Diplomacy)
Rei blinked at the stranger's attempt to get friendly with her. "Ortho Peadic? Your parents must hate you..."
She looked at Vineg, the 'especially merry one', and found that he... she... whatever it was, didn't seem very merry at all. She noticed Ri'hane, some merc the Circle picked up some time ago, and didn't know what to think of that. It was quite certain the merc held no special allegiance to the Circle, especially not now that she probably wouldn't get paid anymore, so she probably joined up with this lot to save her hide. She believed the man when he said they weren't necromancers, as this Ortho was quite... well... brightly dressed. She hadn't been able to shrug off the fact that more than three quarters of all the people in this tower wore black, because that's just what necromancers wear. However, his reason for being here seemed rather weird.
"So what item is so important that you are willing to run into a tower filled to the brim with demons and necromancers to take it back?" She asked, not really believing the man was here for simply an item. (Sense Motive)
To Rei, Ortho seemed completely honest, nothing in the priest's demeanor seemed like he would be inclined to trick her or lie to her.
"What did they say?" Came Iason's voice from inside the Lab, almost interrupting Rei as she spoke, sounding somewhat preoccupied as the cling of glass vials tapping against each other was heard along with some shuffling of feet. He still hadn't walked up to the door, so he couldn't see his 'guests', nor hear them very well, apparently, but neither could they.
Rumiko watched the xiadomian woman, wondering what she and the person inside the lab were doing in there. She stood in the back while Ortho did the talking, hoping he would be convincing. "There isn't much else where to run to in this plane of yours", she commented, remembering when they had arrived. There was nothing else but the tower and the dead, or undead, creatures.
Vineg seemed quite surprisedly amused when ey heard Iason's voice from the lab. Minions, indeed. Ey could only amuse emself more at thinking what kind of person that would would turn out to be. For the moment, though, ey was disturbed by Ortho's hand. "Talk to the hand, puppy. I'm still not stupid. Would you like me to handle your behind instead of attacking while you talk?" Vineg rolled eir eyes and didn't even seem to be going for eir weapons. Seeming a little irritated, ey leaned on something that would not start oozing upon touch. Since Ortho was apparently handling the talking now, ey didn't start interrupting any more.
Ortho laughed aloud at the reply he received, "Well, my parents would seem to have had a sense of humor. That's a story for another time though." He held the Antanukas close and then answered the xiadomian woman's question, "I believe, that even in the face of all dangers, demonic or otherwise, fear is nothing to be taken to heart. Best funneled through the mind, where it's effects are best filtered. Nevertheless, we seek an exit. No less a damned place soon to be, if in agreement, then perhaps you could join us in a prevalent means of escaping this realm? After all, companionship is best appreciated in the dark." Ortho was a slight bit afraid he might have come off a bit priestly with his words, and certainly from his garb he was not likely a candidate for anything particularly convincing of the Caryathid Tower Membership.
Rei looked at Ortho, and decided she should believe him, at least for now. He obviously wasn't a necromancer, and would more easily pass as a priest of nesha, but for now, that would do. Whatever that item be he was searching, Rei cared little about it. In fact, escaping this wretched place might become easier if this Ortho Peadic proved to be some priestly person. After all, Priests were experts in handling demons and necromancers and undead. Many he'd even sacrifice himself in some noble way. That would certainly be a good thing. She turned around, and called into the room; "They're on their way to the top. Planning on escaping this hell-hole. I'm going to join them. You coming, sir? And take er... Franky." The last word came out as if she'd rather have said something else.
"Of course they're joining us! That's why they're here, yes?" Iason replied from inside the Lab, his actions once again hidden from the group waiting outside the door, but his words were followed by some feet shuffling and the sound of a pile of books falling over heavily.
"Rei, would you be a dear and help me? I've misplaced Franky's fifth arm- No wait! There it is, never mind!" There was a sound of glee, and shortly afterwards the murmur of dark and ancient words as the shaman cast a spell.
Being nowhere skilled a linguist as Ortho, Camus kept himself behind the group and slightly out of sight, partly to keep an eye out for anyone coming upon the group from behind them, and partly to not bring attention to himself as he looked very much like a paladin should.It was only after the eccentric voice's mention of Franky's 'fifth arm' that his curiosity got the better of him by asking aloud, "And who is this... Franky?"
Vineg let out a laugh at hearing something about someone's fifth arm. Ey gave Ortho's butt a light and relatively innocent pat and moved curiously toward the door. "I gotta see this." Ey tried to peek into the room and see whatever construct zombie it was that Rei's master seemed to be creating.
Ortho was hardly pleased with Vineg patting his backside, and did not delight in the witnessing of black magic monstrosities either. Still, to refrain from curiosity would give way to suspicion, and the priest played along with forced laughter and loosely hidden discomfort, "Heh... heh... haha... heh heh... huh huh... huh... ungh..." The priest eventually had his spurts of laughter merge into sporadic groans.
Rumiko frowned at Vineg's attitude, and almost choked when it patted Ortho's butt. She wondered how patient that man was. One of her kind would have sliced the eolan's head with a sword right there, for lesser insults. She coughed slightly trying to dissimulate her disgust, and waited for this Franky person and the man inside the lab to show up.
Rei watched Ortho carefully as he went moaning and laughing at the same time, after seeing him get patted on his ass by the Eolan, of which she still couldn't determine whether it was a male, or a female. She couldn't help thinking that this was a very weird group of people, and she found it even weirder still that they had come across this plane. Of course, as the other Xiadomian woman had said, the tower was pretty much the only thing on this realm, but getting into this plane was something altogether. How'd they get here? However, Rei thought that right now, getting out was more important than getting in, and the answers would come after she had managed to introduce Akuma and Franky to this group. In a slightly softer voice, so Akuma couldn't overhear them, she told the group: "Franky is a... project of Akuma. He is very proud of it. Please try and look... amazed when you see it."
She shook her head, and didn't look as if she was going to be amazed herself.
Oh Great!, Ri'hane thought to herself as she rolled her eyes and sighed in controlled frustration. She wasn't particularly happy with following the group of goodies, but now preferred if it stayed that way. She didn't quite trust anyone who had spent time in this tower anymore.
Vineg could find Iason standing over a large stone slab, one of many in his Lab, with a body laid atop it. Once the spell was cast, the body shuddered a few times before his creator, practically jumping around in mirth, helped him off the table and onto his feet. "Franky's alive, Rei! He didn't blow up like the other two!" The shaman called out to his partner as he steadied his creation and made sure everything was in order.
Franky, which turned out to be a zombie, seemed to have been attacked by a seamstress. Stitches crisscrossed all over his body in an attempt to enhance his appearance; his face, which might've been handsome when alive, had it's whole left side of his face re-sewn to repair damage from a Hellspawned claw. Noticeably, two arms had been added to his hips, and another to the base of his neck, bringing his limb count to 7, legs included. He stood nearly a head taller than Iason, partly in thanks to his long legs, which seemed to have been given extension bellow the knees. A black cloth had been draped across his waist, just bellow his extra arms, and stopped just above his knees. Since the recent outbreak of battles in the tower brought a good deal of fresh bodies, Franky was in rather good shape, decay-wise.
Iason, for his part, sported a stunning bright-green, and pink, sleeved black doublet, whose colors in themselves made it hard to believe him a necromancer except for the fact he was standing beside a customized zombie and looking over him with quite loving care apparent on his features. As he was currently engrossed with Franky, he hadn't noticed Vineg trying to spy through the door.
Akuma's Lab was completely different from the Black Magic lab the group had gotten a glimpse of just seconds before. On contrast, Akuma's lab was somewhat dity and disorganized, decorated with several catfolk motifs. The room was filled with scrolls, severed and dissecated body parts, jars with stuff floating on them, totems, dusty old tomes, etc. Much of which litered the floor as well, Over the center of the room was a large wooden table covered in blood and fluids, coupled with some rough carpentry tools Akuma had used in his experiments. The Lab was drastically smaller than the other ones and seemed ill equiped in comparison, though this was probably the way Iason prefered it.
"Oh my!" went Vineg as ey saw the zombie-like thing as well as Iason. "You know, I'm personally not too wild about zombies, but that thing is pretty awesome. What's with the extra arms? Convenience or just curious?" ey asked happily while not coming wholly in.
"What's not with the arm! That is what you need to ask yourself!" Iason said proudly without looking up from where he was prodding one of Franky's stitches, to see if they'd hold. "Alright Franky," He half-whispered to the zombie as he groped around for a heavy tome. "Take and carry!" He ordered and held the book up for his pet to take.
Franky let out a groan that bordered on broken laughter, the stitches on the left side of his face fixing his mouth into a constant perverted smile, and held out his hip-arms and grabbed onto the book his master held out for him.
"Wonderful!" Iason cheered and then instructed Franky to do a few more coordination exercises, having apparently already forgotten about the people waiting on him outside his lab.
A zombie... Camus bit his lip and put up a face of unconcealed disgust as he turned away from the group and began to slowly stomp off. Bad enough he was forced to cooperate with that forsaken eolan and a criminal rogue, but now what looks to be a mad necromancer and his servant? If I didn't know any better, the Paladin thought to himself grimly, I would say the gods are testing me. Frowning at the thought of his faith being put to such a strain, Camus mentally shrugged and bellowed out, "Very well then, if we have nothing else to do here, let us move on."
Vineg pretty much ignored Camus, though ey didn't really have any especially good reason not to continue their journey. Ey glanced quickly at Rei, whose staring ey found annoying but ignored that as well momentarily, and then back at Iason. "Say, you live here right? Where do you get your food? This plane thingy looks pretty barren to me."
A zombie. They had just fought a lot of those, Rumiko thought. Disgusting, dark things, she thought. Thinking about asking more useful things, for the moment, than where did they get their food from, the monk adressed Rei. "Can you open these doors?" she asked. "Also, do you know what's behind them?"
Iason chuckled at Vineg's question and turned to look at him sideways with his hand in front of his mouth, as if to hide his laughing, as he summoned the knowledge about where food originated from the depths of his brain. (General knowledge).
Iason immediately remembered food was delivered to the tower regularly by necromancers who brought it from the town of Septima. Though as most of the population of the tower did not need regular food intakes, they never had to bring too much, there were supposed to be stores in both the first and third floors, enchanted for protection, but he had a clearance high enough to open the doors.
"Oh heavens!" Ortho shouted when he saw the zombie, then covered his mouth and coughed, "Merciless dark heavens, hack wheeze." The priest quickly managed to stress the lines of his mouth in disgust, and forcibly laughed, "My my... such a handy little franky. Which do I shake? Heh heh..."
"Oh, he's left handed, Sir Peadic!" Iason told Ortho matter-of-factly, though his facial features were slightly quizzical as he was still digging through his knowledge about food, but now also wondering why his creations had always been lefties. He quickly shrugged of this second musing of his, and went back to thinking on his first. "Food, food... Food." He muttered, tapping his chin with a finger as he looked to his ceiling for answers.
Rei, for her part, gave Rumiko a measuring stare for a full second before glancing at the others within her line of sight. Obviously they needed to get out, and they'd better start moving fast. One could only guess what was happening on the top levels of the tower. She listened to Camus' and Ortho's uneasy replies regarding the Zombie, and wondered if they had never seen zombies before, acting so disgusted about. Delaying such questions for a later time, when they would perhaps not be in a tower full of hellspawn and hostile necromancers, she pondered over her knowledge of the doors, and who had entry to them, debating inside her mind wether she should tell these people about it. (P General Knowledge)
Iason's features brightened as he figured out the location of the Tower's sustenance stores and he turned back to Vineg to convey the information, using his right hand to point upwards and his left to point down to the floor. "There are rooms on both the first and third floors, with us in the middle." He made a sandwiching motion with his hands, putting his right on top of his left and pushing on the air between them, looking through the gap between his hands to the androgyne who, clearly being of Dark intentions, had won Iason's approval.
"Really," stated Vineg, somewhat more seriously now. "The first floor is thrashed. Haven't you noticed any fighting going on in here? Then again, working on something cool like that, some fighting isn't really interesting." Vineg still thought that it might be a good idea to prevent the group from getting away from this little plane or something to the effect, but for that to be in any way wise, ey would need some source of food here.
"Fighting?" Iason asked, his eyebrows raising slightly. "Oh yes, that! They said to prepare, so we made Franky!" He gave his pet a proud pat on the shoulder, even though he had to reach a bit to get to it. "He's supposed to go to the front entrance, and with my magic animating him, no attacker will make it past. So you really need not worry about the first floor getting trashed, yes?" He said, grinning as he imagined the enemy breaking like waves against his Franky, obviously thinking the fighting had yet to begin.
"Akuma, sir, I fear the fighting has already moved up to the upper levels." Rei said, slightly agitated as Akuma's madness was once again testing her patience. "Nobody will try to break through the front door, everybody is fighting for the exit. Franky can still help us in securing a safe exit, though." She comforted Akuma, realised the man might be very disappointed if Franky wouldn't be able to get in action.
Vineg grinned a bit. "Oh, I doubt anyone will be coming IN. And the first floor is already thrashed," ey added. Ey raised an eyebrow and then went: "Who would attack here, though? And how?" Ey turned eir head at the others for a moment and eyed Rei because of no particular reason.
Having noticed little progress being made to move anywhere, and growing impatient waiting for the others, Camus's mood soured as he stormed back toward the room, bellowing aloud, "The time for chit chat can be done later. I grow weary of this place and would like to move along NOW. Continue to do nothing, and I will force you all out if I have to." Tightly holding Cross Redemption for emphasis on his threat, the Paladin stared hard at those he trusted least to cooperate.
Vineg didn't look at Camus, but instead turned back to Iason. "Ah, the mighty paladin over there has started to grow thorns on the stick up his arse. Wanna join in?" Having said that, ey pulled out from the doorway and was ready to go, though ey waited for the others to go first.
"Good thinking sir Cam..." Ortho said, pausing that Camus was a mighty warrior and also rather famous, "Sir Camellia." The priest gave a wide smile, knowing that Camus would probably just adore getting named after a flower. "However, I say we give a few questions, and answer a few in turn. They can be as honest as we allow them to be, but let us please not rely upon lying." Ortho looked towards the one frequently referred to as Akuma, "First questions of mine, what is the spell guarding the doorways? And do you know how to enter any of the other rooms?"
Rei was slightly startled by the man who demanded they continue up the tower, and threatened to use violence if they didn't get a move on. Especially when the weird genderless one commented the man was a paladin. She was definatly wondering what a holy knight would be doing in this place, with this group. Ignoring the man for now, she turned to Ortho when he started asking questions. "As for the spell, who knows? It's enchanted by powerful necromancers, they don't tell me what it is, exactly. I'm just a guard. I just know that it's not a friendly door towards trespassers. If you want to open them, somebody authorised to do so should do it. Unless of course, you plan to blast every door in the tower out of it's hinges with some powerful explosion." She scoffed, making it obvious she thought that was a really bad idea.
Rumiko wondered exactly where did Camus want them to move over to, but she didn't comment, since she was also eager to make some advancements. Rei hadn't responded to her question, but she guessed the answer was affirmative. In the meantime, the monk returned to the room which door she had kicked down, and searched the book shelves for anything of use or information about the tower. (Search)
Also tired of waiting around, Ri'hane turned on her heels and without another glance at the others, she walked into the room, behind Rumiko. She wasn't sure who she could trust more now; the priest and his small army, or the deranged Akuma and his pet human.
Rumiko saw Ri'hane followed her. "Had you seen any of those guys before while you were here?" she asked, refering to Akuma and Rei. She was starting to think the mercenary knew quite little about the place for someone who worked for whoever ruled this tower.
Before Ri'hanne could answer, an unnatural chill ran down both the girls' spines as they saw slivers of silver smoke gather around them. Apparently the room WAS guarded, only not by anything material or living. They both turned outwards as she guardians slowly materialized, four of them. The guardians seemed just like men, if slightly decayed, however, they were entirely silver and their bodies seemed to shift and move as if made of smoke, sometimes letting light come through. The four men were well equipped, donning chainmail armor from head to toe, heavy iron shields and mean looking blades. Everything was made of the same silvery substance except for the blades, which were covered in a flickering pitch black flame. At unison all four men raised their shields in front of their bodies and drew their blades, preparing a battle stance.
Battle has started!
Turns and positions are as following!
Phantom Defender 1 (C4)(51/57 HP)
Phantom Defender 2 (E4)(31/57 HP)
Phantom Defender 3 (C6)(57/57 HP)
Phantom Defender 4 (E6)(57/57 HP)
Rumiko's turn! -
Rumiko opened her small eyes wide in surprise, and her brain started thinking very fast. She felt stupid for not having guessed the room could be further protected, and tried to figure out how to fight the creatures that had poofed in the area and were now surrounding her and Ri'hane. Guessing they were ghosts, she took a chance and shot a chi strike to the defender standing on C3. (10 MP)
Miko pulled back her fist and generated a blue glow around it, the glow gradually began to solidify, becoming reminiscent of fire as Miko pumped magic power into it. Finally, Miko made a straight punch towards the ghostly guard with all her might. The blue fire on her hand was shot forward, becoming more like a bullet than a fireball, and stricking the ghost almost immediately. Though the ghost covered with its spectral shield, the blast still went through it, leaving a clearly marke hole and burning the wall behind it. Unfortunately, the ghost only took 6 damage and the whole on its body quickly reformed!
Ri'hane's turn! -
"Ara ara!", said Rumiko as she watched the hole she had done close instantly again. "I think we need help!", she said, hoping the rest of the party wasn't too busy discussing with Franky and its friends, and would notice she and Ri'hane were in trouble.
Not having paid attention to Rumiko's and Ri'hane's entering another room, his eyes still set on the others, Camus only began to notice the battle when Rumi's chi attack was unleashed. Quickly turning around, the Paladin's eyes widened in surprise for a moment before turning back to the others still in the next room, roaring out, "We're under attack!"
Completely taken off guard, Ri'hane simply just stared at the smoky looking defenders for a few seconds. But Rumiko's move brought her back to her senses as she concentrated on what to do. Seeing that Rumiko's fireball attack just passed through the unearthly defenders, she didn't know what good her bolts would do. Frowning, she looked at the defender on F3 and cast her Wind Slash at it.
"I get it! I lost track of time again!" Iason said, exasperated, when Camus shouted news of the attack, thinking the knight was talking about the other battle going on, on the third floor. "No need to shout." He grumbled, and gave Camus a rather grumpy look.
Ri'hane lifted her hand and then motioned a slash towards the ghost, immediately a great gush of razor wind formed around her and shot towards the undead, slashing it in two and dealing 26 damage! Unfortunately, immediately afterwards, the ghost began to reform.
The ghost in C3 floated towards C4 and tried to slash Rumi twice with its sword!
Rumi wasn't sure the ghosts were getting any damage, since they reformed themselves so fast. While trying to figure out how to get rid of the defenders, she attempted to quickly avoid the creature's sword.
Vineg stared a little surprised at the ghost-like things that had just appeared and caught em off guard—even if ey wasn't their target. "These are quite recent," ey stated as a reply to Iason. "They appeared out of nowhere just now. An' they seem interesting."
Rumi was easily able to dodge both slashes by ducking and then jumping above the undead's slash!
In the meantime, the second ghost had glided to F4 and tried to stab Ri'hanne twice as well!
In an attempt to dodge the ghost's stabs, in a quick swift move, Ri'hane jumped out of the way the sword was coming at her, "Damn the goodies you have as companions really do take their time to give us some help!"
Ri'hane easily dodged both incoming slashes while calling her allies for help. In the meantime, the 3rd phantom glided to C6 and tried to stab Rumi!
Rei heard Camus' screaming, and Vineg's comment, and shrugged. "I guess somebody set off the protective wards. These things happen when you trespass in the headquartres of a powerful necromancers' cult. It's probably just a bunch of guardian spirits. They'll probably just keep to the room."
"The Defenders?" Iason asked, looking up to Rei once she spoke. "Which one of you was stupid enough to wake them up?" He asked, summoning up the knowledge on how to send the room's defenders away, if there was one. (Knowledge)
Unfortunately for Iason, he had never entered the black magic lab unauthorized, so he didn't know what manner of defenders would populate the room, he could assume them to be incorporeal undead though, since he had never seen them.
"Oh dear! Miss Rumiko and Lady Ri'hane." Ortho thought as he heard the shouts for help. The priest moved to the entrance of the room, and prepared the Holy Word Spell. With the shape of the room as it was, the phantoms would certainly hear it echo. Unfortunately as the priest was aware, the rest of the tower would easily catch note of a white magic spell, particularly of this calibur.
In the meantime, Rumi attempted once again to get away from the ghostly weapons of the defenders that tried to hurt her.
Once more, Rumiko easily sidestepped the incoming stab, preventing the ghost from stabbing her!b Following the example of its companions, the last ghost moved to F6 and tried to slash at Ri'hane!
Careful not to bump into Rumi, Ri'hane jumped backwards fast enough to avoid the slashing sword of the ghost.
Ri'hane tried to jump backwards but found the second ghost flanking her, with a sudden burst of speed and strength, the first ghost sliced right through her with its sword, despite being ethereal, Ri'hane felt a very realistic slash and maddening pain coming from the wound, what's more, she was enveloped in a black flame with burned outwards from the place where she had been hit, dealing 30 damage. Before she could even recover, the ghost slashed again, this time hitting only her shoulder, but provoking another dark burst of flame and dealing 10 damage. The black flames made Ri'hane feel as if she was being skinned alive, and she broke out in a scream of pain!
Vineg's turn! -
Seeing how Ri'hane and Rumiko both seemed to only use some elemental attacks, Vineg decided to do the same. Ey put the pistol away and took out eir Windlash Sabre while moving to a better position, G8.
Rumiko's turn! -
Ri'hane's screams didn't make the situation better, Rumiko thought, very aware now that these phantoms did cause pain and damage. She wanted to run to the central room, which was much more open and where the others could help, but there was a defender blocking the way out. The damage she could make was seriously limited, she thought. She could cast a Blade Shield, but that would hurt Ri'hane, standing so close to each other as they were now, and she depended on her spells to get out of there. "Take this", she said, handing the mercenary one of her healing potions.
Rei's turn! -
Rei walked out of Akuma's room, so that she could see into the room where Rumiko and Ri'hane were under assault. In an attempt to gain control over one of the undead spirits, she started casting Animate Dead on one of the undamaged phantoms (number 3), after she'd moved in close enough.
Rei tried casting animate dead on one of the phantoms in order to gain control of it, the undead guarding began to distort, as if affected by the spell, but after a light moan and some dust, it returned to normal, obviously such a low level spell couldn't control the phantoms.
Ri'hane's turn! -
Seeing that she was trapped inbetween the two ghosts, with such wounds she couldn't stay alive more than mere seconds if she stayed, Ri'hane decided to fall back into the main hall. With the healing potions Rumiko had given her in one hand, and with a quick escape strategy, Ri'hane leaped forward and away from the two phantoms on her sides. At the same time she threw Icarus up in the air behind her and hoped the Morph would hold long enough to take her to safety outside the room. (Icarus - Morph)
The feathered cape, Icarus, immediately whirled and coiled upon itself, finally exploding into a pair of lustrious black wings which sprouted from Ri'hane's back and held her up in the air with effortless flapping!
Ri'hane has one action left! -
Not wasting another second, Ri'hane flapped her newly spread wings and dashed to the safety of the hall outside. (H8)
Iason's turn! -
"Come Frankie!" Iason told his pet before finally moving closer to the fight, planning to join Ri'hane where she had just landed, but stopped at K7 at the sight of the first Defender.
"Stand down!" He ordered pointing at it with a finger and trying to sound as authoritative as he could, thinking he'd try this before blasting away at the ghostly being with a spell. "I command it!" Maybe he had enough power that they'd listen to him.
Though Iason's command didn't seem to have any effect right away, it was unlikely the ghosts would attack someone who was supposed to be in the tower.
Ortho's turn! -
Hoping the shape of the room would contain most of the sound, Ortho finished casting his holy word and gave it a shout to disperse the phantoms.
[Sunny Silverunicorn] - Ri'hane Edreeah
[Blood Raven] - Rei Hachiro
[Sturmi] - Rumiko Tenku
[Grengo] - Camus Mattia
[Veltzeh] - Vineg Tor'eael
[Silverbullet] - Iason Lorena
[Adaman] - Ortho D'Artagmion
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