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[News] In the Shadow of Virtue: Ricardo Captured / Bane Chosen Invade Yew

Discussion in 'UO Baja' started by WarderDragon, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    In the Shadow of Virtue: Ricardo Captured / Bane Chosen Invade Yew

    Summary: Lord Captain Jenkins of the Royal Guard summons a militia of Britannic and Old World Volunteers, forming an expeditionary force to scout the edges of the Isle of Magincia. But their plans are cut short when Sherry arrives, announcing the Bane Chosen assault on Northern Yew.

    When the militia arrives they discover Ricardo, War Criminal from the First Ophidian War, has been captured.

    Nicholas and Yalp discover plans revealing a man named 'V' is behind the plot. Others find similar notes on the corpses of the Bane Chosen and their demonic reinforcements.

    The Queen arrives from the Countryside, seemingly unaware of the Invasion of Magincia.

    [​IMG]

    He watched them, a silent spectre wrapped in the accutrements of death and discord.

    "Remember," Lord Captain Jenkins shouted from atop the stair leading into the Interior Palace, "we do not aim to defeat them today." Indignant murmurs rose through the mass of armed peasants and guardsmen.

    One ascended the lowest step. Darius' eyes threatened to bore holes into the Commander of Queen Dawn's Palace Guards. "If the Temple of Magincia has fallen, I swear..."

    "Well, well, well," came a voice from the shadows. "You can hardly blame the Guardsman for the actions of the Bane Chosen."

    Jenkins turned. "Nicholas," he said, pounding a gloved gauntlet against his opposing shoulder.

    "Captain," Nicholas emerged to stand in the light, exchanging glances with Glinmiali Zanthes.

    Jenkins turned to again face the crowd. "Are the Banes massing in any particular Region of Magincia?"

    James cleared his throat, though the answer obvious. "Where the City once stood."

    "Everywhere," Nephthys breathed.

    Gilthas emerged from the throng. "When I was there, Captain," he began in the thick accent of his people, "I saw tents. Perhaps there will be something inside. Orders. Their plans."

    Jenkins opened his mouth to respond, but was cut short by a squeal, that of a wounded animal, and fierce scratching at his boot. "Sherry!"

    [​IMG]

    The strange mating of Mouse and Man fought to catch her breath. "Oh, how horrible! It's a disaster!"

    "What happened?" Jenkins removed his helmet and knelt before the Queen's strange, inhuman advisor.

    "I was at the Prison," she breathed, wiping her nose with an all too human paw. "Visitin' Ricardo! We were attacked!" She tugged on his boot. "You must come, fast! It's horrible."

    * * *

    The Knights of Bane and the Britannic Guard fought mercilessly 'neath a sun that refused to set. Garish light bloodied their sword blades and gilt their breastplates with liquid fire. The sound of mortars and explosions erupted in the distance, mingled with the fierce howls of Britannian War Wolves.

    Nicholas eased Sleipnir into a slow canter, fresh blood dripping from the tip of his undulating Flamberge and staining his sleeve. He had managed to take the mans hand, then his head, but only in poetry did a man face a band of hardened warriors and survive without wearing evidence of the struggle. Tarrant was tapestried in proof of such duels.

    He leaned forward as he passed beneath the Gate and into the Castle of Truth.

    When he emerged on the other side, he paused, drawing rein. There, guarding the entrance to the fortress and adjacent prison was a man, garbed in the accutrements of the Chosen. His armor was a mass of dangerous lines and sharpened edges. He was mounted atop a Bane Dragon, venom dripping from the maw of that fat, bloated creature. "Caught," Nicholas murmured, grip tightening on the Serpent embossed hilt, anticipating a charge.

    [​IMG]

    None came. The Bane Knight dismounted, removing his horned helmet. "Nicholas," he shouted in surprise.

    Nicholas' eyes narrowed. He recognized the man, though man was a stretch. "It has been some time," he replied. Dexter was young, not more than a year or two older than his own son. Yet the man standing before him was an efficient killer, a swordsman of rare talent that laughed when he shed blood. Nicholas had saved the boy from the Ophidians a dozen times earlier that Summer, in the employ of the Chosen, and Dexter had returned the favor in kind. Nicholas swung his leg over Sleipnir's Saddle, dismounting.

    "We've captured the Thief, Sir," Dexter announced. Was he truly that naive? "Come to help us retake Britannia from these Heathens and Blasphemers?"

    "I have," Nicholas said, approaching him.

    Dexter grinned. "I thought so," he announced, extending his hand to the older man.

    Nicholas ignored the gesture, and passed him. "Are you prepared to give your life for the Cause?"

    Dexter replied, though instinct guided his words. "Yes," he began, turning. "I..." His words were cut short, as the Flamberge drove into his stomach.

    Nicholas studied the face of a man he had saved numerous times, a comrade, as Dexter descended to his knees, holding the blade to his stomach.

    He looked up. "W...why?"

    "Be Brave," Nicholas tore the weapon free. "I will not be far behind."

    He swung, ending the young mans suffering.

    * * *

    Yalp led his War Wolf through the shadowed corridors of the Castle of Truth, delicate fingers wound tight around the winged hilt of his Planesword. The mithril weapon, carved with Enochian runes and long wielded in service to the Empress of Zento, glowed with a faint, spectral hue, though releasing captured blades of silver moonlight imbued in to the hilt. It helped him find his way around the corpses of Bane Chosen and Yew Wardens.

    Someone had come before him.

    He paused. The Wolf - a Cu Sidhe of the Dark Moon - began to snarl, her hackles rising on end, twisting her head to peer behind them.

    "Saesi... Air byrol sai thaes," Yalp murmured soothingly in the tongue of his people. "What is it, Girl?"

    Then he heard it, a loud, inhuman groan as the beams of the ceiling began to splinter and give way.

    "Vaeraer," he snarled. "Back." He and the Wolf just managed to clear the hall when the beams exploded, the ceiling collapsing under the weight of two massive creatures. Blackrock Golems. There was no going back now.

    The Managarm descended further into the Castle, fingers wound tight in the mane of the Wolf, using its senses to guide him deeper into the shadowy oblivion of Yew Prison. He was separated from the Britannic and Town Guard, but there was a chance the Thief was still alive, and if he could only find his way, hope remained.

    Moments passed. He descended into the Dungeon, the sound of moans and pleas for help echoing through the dimly lit corridor of Cells. The Prisoners, he observed in the torchlight, had been dragged from their cells and silenced by whatever evil had assaulted this place. Some had been beheaded. Some, stabbed. One, his tongue cut out. There was nothing he could do for these people, he thought, knowing he would have to save his energy for the fight ahead.

    Yalp found the Cell. XIII.

    He gripped his weapon, and threw the door wide. Movement. Instinct took over. He swung. Two blades slammed together in the shadow, sparks flying.

    "Nicholas," he breathed in recognition.

    Nicholas lowered his Sword. "You just missed him."

    "Where is Ricardo?"

    Nicholas gestured to a piece of rolled parchment on the bed. "Have a look for yourself."

    [​IMG]
     
  2. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    [​IMG]

    The Battle continued to rage as the Britannic and Town Guard forced their way into the Fortress of Truth.

    "Get this man back on his feet," Jenkins snarled through the visor of his Plated Armet, the massive weight of his opponents arm slamming into the Captains shield. He grunted as the steel buckled under the blow, his arm going numb.

    Gilthas leapt over the corpse of a Bane Knight, blade slicing into the throat of another. "Captain," he shouted, his free hand grasping the shoulder of a fallen Guardsman, dragging him back against the wall. "One of the Golems has trapped people in the Library."

    The Captain began to respond, but was cut short.

    "The Queen! The Queen!"

    [​IMG]

    Jenkins dropped to a knee as the Golems arm whistled over head, slamming into the wall. Mortar and stone exploded in a shower of debris, pelting the Captain. Not hesitating he leapt forward, twisting, and drove his shield into the monsters throat, beheading it.

    [​IMG]

    Dawn caught the swing of a Bane Knights axe with her Sword, Justice, and twisted, slamming her elbow into the mans nose. "Who delivered the Order to march on Yew?"

    "Sherry did, m'lady."

    [​IMG]

    * * *

    The Bane Chosen began their retreat, disappearing into the surrounding wilderness, leaving the Britannic Guard worn and bewildered.

    [​IMG]

    "I came as fast as I could from the Countryside," the Queen breathed as she entered the cramped chamber. She was covered in dirt and blood, much of it her own, damp tresses having been brushed back with her fingers. Jenkins was close on her heels, left arm hanging limp at his side. If it pained him, he showed no sign. Glinmiali and Gilthas entered behind them.

    Yalp offered a polite bow. "Your Majesty," he murmured, presenting the note. Nicholas remained in the corner, wrapped in shadow, wolven eyes on the Britannnian monarch.

    The Queen studied the crumpled parchment. "...Magincia," she seemed faint. "Forces there...?" Her voice rose. "V!?"

    [​IMG]

    Nicholas and Gilthas exchanged glances. "If their plan was to release Ricardo," Gilthas announced. "It seems to have succeeded."

    "Released," the Queen asked, "Or taken?" She handed the parchment to Jenkins, who retrieved it with his right hand. "There will not be an Expedition to Magincia."

    Jenkins regarded her with a level stare. "As you wish, Highness."

    She sighed, and covered her eyes. "Oh dear... Ors," he whispered. "I must return to the Castle."
     
  3. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    In the Shadow of Virtue: The Dark Throne
    By Mark Steelman

    A hooded figure robed in crimson emerged from the darkgate and surveyed the room. There were no sounds in this chamber but the angry roar of the lava sea that roiled outside the red stone windows. Towering demons stood guard in the room and broke the silence briefly to grunt their recognition. The figure nodded.

    The figure passed from the room and down a dark hall. There were no windows here, just warm obsidian walls which gave the hall a darkness that even nightsight could not penetrate. The sound of the lava faded and the mysterious figure could hear nothing but the scraping thud of cloven hooves on stone as demons tended to their duties.

    He arrived at two large brass doors flanked by more demon guards. The doors had a heavy pattern engraved in them and there were runes on each door. The runes were of a demonic language, but he knew what lay beyond. The guards lowered their great axes to block his path. He pulled back his hood to identify himself and they stood aside and opened the doors to let the human pass.

    The double doors opened near the corner of an indescribably large room. The floor here was the same obsidian stone that paved the hallway but the stone walls displayed a red and black pattern that extended from the corner to the horizon in both directions. The only light came from a ceiling of dark clouds that roiled with flashes of light thirty feet above the floor.

    The air here always made his eyes burn so he took out a black linen mask and placed it over his head. Adjusting the mask, he pondered the possibility that he might be in a courtyard and not a room, though the difference had little meaning in this place. The sky outside the fortress was always dark too, just higher above the head. There was no wind here so he concluded he was indoors. He raised his hood and proceeded with grim determination toward the darkness at the center of the room.

    As the walls and the doors faded out of sight behind him, dark things began swooping past him, out of the clouds and back into them. They peered at him with reptilian eyes and he knew that his master was informed of his approach. He arrived at a great moat of lava and waited. A moment later a flash of lightning struck the floor and a red portal opened. He closed his eyes and shook his head to regain his vision after the flash and made a mental note to himself to cover his eyes when waiting for the portal next time. He then stepped through the gate.

    He emerged before a great throne surrounded by large hound-like beasts. He knelt before the great horned demon who sat on the throne.

    “Speak,” rumbled the demon.

    “My lord, your people hath succeeded in capturing the queen’s husband but Ricardo was not in his cell when we stormed the prison. Our spies in the palace say they do not know where he is. He may have been captured by whoever stole the crystal from the palace.”

    The demon did not move but the sky became more tormented and the giant hounds around him began to bay and growl.

    “My lord, we know that the followers of Minax seek the power of the crystal. We suspect they hath taken the crystal and Ricardo too.”

    “I begin to question the competence of those who call themselves the Chosen of Virtue Bane. If Minax is behind this, why would she capture Ricardo if she already has the crystal?”

    “We know not, my lord. Perhaps it isn’t Minax. Could there be others who seek the crystal?

    “You bring me many questions and frail theories and far too few results.” Growled Virtue Bane. “Have I not sent my hellhounds to protect your soldiers? Have I not sent my dragons? My demons? These bring your soldiers power and security. Have I not given you previously hidden knowledge of the secrets of blackrock? These things have real value. Have I not been generous to all your requests? If you wish the Bane Chosen to be exalted in my new kingdom, you must deliver on your promises! If you do not get me results soon, I will take back all that I have given you with interest!”

    The man bowed to the ground. “Forgive me Lord Virtue Bane, thou art most generous and most patient.”

    “Patient! I have been patient for far too long!” fumed the great demon, pounding his giant fist on the arm of his throne. “I was patient when my demons failed to find the crystal in Magincia, but know that they were wise to raze it to the ground before returning to me with a report that it wasn’t there! Yes, I am patient, but not infinitely so. ”

    “Yes, my lord. What would you have your people do next?”

    “If I am to control Sosaria, I must control Truth. Now listen carefully, I want you to build an altar on Magincia at the location of the moongate. Then, I want you to have those who wish to be counted among the Chosen to bring a symbol of Truth and sacrifice it to me. It must be a testimony by them that the only Truth comes from Virtue Bane.“
     
  4. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    Virtuebane - The Codex of Editable Wisdom.

    Virtuebane is a daemon in Ultima IV, waiting at the entrance to the ruins of Magincia.

    Prior to Ultima IV, the inhabitants of Magincia provoked a horde of daemons to attack their city due to their insufferable pride. It is unknown if Virtuebane was amongst this horde, but it is known that the city was destroyed, and the souls of those who perished were left to haunt the ruins.

    When the Stranger met Virtuebane in Ultima IV, the devil gloated about the destruction of the once proud city of Magincia, and explained to the Stranger that Magincia was destroyed for founding their virtue upon pride.​