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EM Fiction The Awakening Acts V - VI part 2

Discussion in 'UO Siege Perilous' started by EM Aurora, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. EM Aurora

    EM Aurora Journeyman

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    The Awakening – Act V

    Written by the EM Team

    “Now, charge its left flank, and aim for the seams! Mages, lightning and energy bolts, but focus on keeping up our knights!” Dupre shouted out the orders from behind his plated helm, even as his cadre of knights swarmed one of the monstrosities that laired within Exodus dungeon. With the backup of the mages keeping them healed, they weren’t in any threat at the moment from the beast in front of them. Lord Dupre had heard the noises and gotten glimpses of things from inside what was left of Ver Lor Reg and it caused him quite a bit of worry. He’d been trying to devise tactics so that they could retake the city, but the creatures resisted quite a bit of force, and seemed to give up little in areas of weakness save for how well lightning worked against them. As he observed the knights, a noise from behind caught his attention, and he whirled while he drew the longsword at his side and lunged. His blade bit harshly into the seam of the floating menace, and he smashed it in harder by hammering the hilt with his plated gauntlet. With a squealing shriek of metal, the creature’s internal mechanisms chewed themselves to pieces on his sword before he drew it out and turned away, the creature exploding and peppering his armor with light shrapnel. He slashed the grease and oil clinging to his blade onto the floor of the dungeon as his knights finished slaying the much larger creature, and they retreated from the dungeon once more.

    Lord Dupre had always loved the city, with its gentle ocean breeze cutting through the harsh heat of the nearby jungles. Trinsic felt like home, even after all these years…though the sandstone walls didn’t hold the same comfort they once had. In Felucca some of the structures still bore the scars from his campaign against Juo’nar and the fallen knights own siege of the city, but here in Trammel the same evidence was gone; He would never get used to that. He made his way to the weaponsmith, as was usual after these excursions…he’d yet to return without a blade in disrepair from using it against these metal monsters. From there he quickly made his way to the Keg and Anchor, and was going to sit at his favorite table when he noticed there was someone else in the spot he usually occupied. With a muttered grumble under his breath he made his way around the table and sat opposite the man, taking note of his wrinkled and rumpled clothes, and the way he clutched at something in his left hand, a glint of a dingy metal ball hanging off of it.

    The waitress didn’t even need to come over to take his drink order; Dupre had been a regular since he’d trekked away from the lands of Felucca to Trammel, and in short order the staff had learned his patterns. She brought over a strong, aged honey whiskey and left him with a glass full and the bottle on the table. As he took a drink, he put it down with a start as the seemingly comatose man across from him had suddenly flung his open right hand out, clearly wanting the glass. Dupre’s face soured for a moment before he shook his head. “You’ll get nothing from begging, but if you’ve got news or information of worth, I’m not averse to sharing the drink then.”

    This seemed to have animated the fellow, whose face lifted off the table to regard the knight, and he gave Dupre a crooked smile.
    “I’ll tell you a story, my gleaming friend, and perhaps you might understand how this all began. But you’ll get nothing from me with my tongue this dry, so fill up my glass and we can see what you have yet to learn.”

    Dupre looked down to see that as if by magic, an empty glass had appeared in the man’s hand, and he poured him half a glass full of the expensive drink.

    “Now talk, and make sure it was worth the cost of that whiskey.”

    The rough looking fellow winced as he drank practically half the drink at once, exhaling sharply as he pulled away, and leaned forward, as a spark of recognition passed between the knight and the jester. The jester laughed at the apparent shock that ran across Lord Dupre’s face, and he could smell the man’s foul breath accompanying that laugh.

    “I was wondering if you’d recognize me, you old tin can. Can’t fault you for taste though, you always did know how to sweet talk these little waifs into giving you the best stock they had.” With that he raised his glass to Dupre and finished off what was left in it. “Of course, you probably either thought me dead and gone…or never bothered to spend a thought on an old jester, did you? I’ll tell you right now, what you’ve seen in our cities…it’s worse in Ter Mur. Apparently, those refugees out of Ver Lor Reg were carrying something with them, you see…something that doesn’t affect them but it sure does the Ter Mur gargoyles. They’re trying to keep it hushed up…but Zhah’s ferrying out the infected to that abandoned fishing village, keeping them quarantined…and the Ver Lor Reg gargoyles…I’m sure someone knows where they are. I don’t. That fishing village though…it belongs to the dead and the dying.”

    Dupre’s mouth hung open at this stunning revelation, before he snapped it shut. The Jester held out his now empty glass, and flashed him a vicious grin, until the knight poured him another glass.

    “You’re a regular saint, you old codger. Now I promised I’d tell you how it all began. Years ago, when my master was still with us, he’d managed to figure out that something was happening in Ilshenar, and it was centered around Exodus. He’d gathered what he could about the enemy, but it was at a turbulent time, and he doubted that he could get anyone to rally behind him. I wasn’t able to learn much personally, but I think he intended to destroy the machines that were empowering Exodus. Machines you might be familiar with by now.”

    Dupre’s realization happened almost immediately, as he growled. “The nexus devices that everyone’s been collecting and building.”
    The jester’s laugh had no mirth or lightness in it. “Isn’t it all such a grand, cruel joke? Our fate is being brought down on us by our own hands.” He paused to take another drink, shrugging as he did so and returning to his previous story. “He’d managed to get his hands onto some kind of scrolls he claimed were vital, but I never saw what was in them…all I ever saw were the two maps he had. One showed a passage into Exodus dungeon that went through Ver Lor Reg…that same map that was stolen the night of the riot and that that little fence made so many copies of. The other…”

    He paused, taking a long drink and laid his head down, until finally Dupre broke the silence.

    “And the other?”

    The old jester looked up through bleary eyes.

    “The other led him to the last place he ever walked as a man…but I’ll tell you this. Master always had a journal he kept with him that held more in it than anyone ever knew. If you can find that journal…maybe you can figure out what’s really going on. And I think that a knight as smart as yourself should know where it will be.”

    Dupre’s face set with a grim bit of determination.

    “Exodus Dungeon.”

    “Glad to see you can still use a bit of what’s left between your ears, you tin can.”

    Dupre sighed as he poured them both a full glass once more. “Heckles, I think you may have given me the first thing I need to fight this enemy…and I’ll definitely drink to that.”​
     
  2. EM Aurora

    EM Aurora Journeyman

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    The Awakening – Act VI

    Written by the EM Team

    The grass beneath his tread was soft, and covered in the morning dew from a sun that was rising in the east. Each step was taken without any specific destination, and there was no greater purpose in these steps beyond wandering; the land was unfamiliar and strange, and there were no clear landmarks to guide the way, and no signs of any sort…so he wandered. His robe dragged along the ground, fraying its edges as he went…but he paid it no heed. Finally at the end of his energy for the moment, he dropped to his knees in the soft grass, and meditated. An answer would come, or a path would be found. As he grew accustomed to the scents and sounds all around him, a new and unfamiliar sound crept to his ears. He drew himself up and brushed grass from his robe, before altering his direction…and headed in the direction of the wail of anguish he’d heard.

    It took some time, but eventually he saw a thin wisp of smoke rising in the air; soon after, the smell of cooked meat reached his nose. Thinking to find himself at some sort of gypsy outpost, he was far more confused to hear noises that could only be associated with the sick and dying, and he hastened his pace. He stopped suddenly as he saw a red and white sign affixed to an ankh in front of him. While the ankh served to give him some minor comfort that he was not in completely alien circumstance, the sign brought confusion and curiosity to the forefront.

    Quarantine Area! Danger! Entry Prohibited By Order Of Queen Zhah

    There was a fence to lend credence to the quarantine order, but the gates were missing, and he found no guard barring his entry. Were it truly this dangerous, would there not be more stringent measures taken? And what of this Zhah, whom the sign ostensibly claimed to be a Queen? It had seemed there was far more to know than he could have imagined.

    He was close enough now to hear the coughs and moans of the dying and deathly ill, and looking at the sign once more, he strode brazenly past the fencing, paying the sign no more attention. Perhaps the people here could answer his questions, he thought. It was only to find yet another shock as he approached, to see that what lay before him in the area were naught but gargoyles…and not even gargoyles as he knew them. He observed the strange gargoyles carefully and was already mentally cataloguing their symptoms in his head as best he could, despite his unfamiliarity with them. As he walked through the makeshift camp, he stepped onto finely grained sand and rounded the corner of a building before blanching at the sight before him, and realized that his initial assumption earlier wasn’t too far off about cooked meat. His sight was consumed by a funeral pyre, tended by two healthier looking gargoyles, who even as he watched silently threw another limp body atop it. His jaw set with determination at the sight, and despite his curiosity, he knew what had to be done.

    All initial attempts and conventional remedies had failed him; his magic was equally ineffective in curing these gargoyles of their affliction. It had been…an indeterminable amount of time since he had needed to apply himself in such a manner as this, and certainly even longer since being presented with one that would require his knowledge of alchemy. Still, with as focused as most alchemists had become on only the most basic potions, the archaic way he approached it had opened up new avenues, and he checked over the list he’d come up with. He wasn’t absolutely certain it would work, but he knew it was a better chance than they’d had before. Still, it would be dangerous to gather some of the ingredients, if they could even still be gathered. He was unsure if the Blightborn slimes could even be found, but he was fairly certain that Orcs and Terathans were too hardy to have vanished completely. Add that to sugar and vanilla, which any horticulturist should be able to gather, and a cure should be able to be fashioned.

    The problem would be with the disease itself; it seemed to constantly change itself and stop responding to what few treatments they’d already used to stifle it, so that meant that the cure wouldn’t be consistent. It was possible that with different quantities of each ingredient mixed in different fashions, the same ingredients could continue to be effective for some time. He now only found himself with one major problem; being without anyone to assist in finding and gathering the ingredients.
     
  3. EM Aurora

    EM Aurora Journeyman

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    The Awakening Act VI Part II

    Written by the EM Team

    The key was clenched tightly in his hand as he made his way to the ruins that were left of his masters once great castle; the ramparts had been shattered and burned wreckage lay everywhere, but in his mind’s eye it was all still as it had been, and he found his way towards the area he sought. As he approached he could tell that despite the crazed and lunatic nature of the mobs that had destroyed, sacked, and burned his lords home to the ground, none were able to pierce the heavily ensorcelled and locked compartment that he found underneath a pile of blackened stone. After a few moments of effort, the jester managed to clear the debris from the locked door that once lay hidden beneath an ornate rug, now no doubt adorning some peasants floor. Heckles looked to the lock as he lined up the key, and the glowing runes around it shone brightly for a moment before going out as the similarly enchanted key broke down their own magic. With a rough turn, the deadbolt clacked and he pulled the door open, and he descended into the dark depths of the cellar. As his footsteps echoed along the stairs he withdrew a night sight potion and quaffed a bit of it to allow him to see what still lurked in his masters wine cellar.

    His eyes adjusted, but it was just a bit too slowly as the minstrel tripped over an empty bottle. His fall was heralded by the stream of invectives that flew from his lips. His scathing curses did little but echo along the mostly emptied cellar that he’d steadily been doing his best to consume. He dusted himself off and approached the mostly emptied racks until he neared the final row of bottles, stopping to look over the few bottles remaining. There were only a half dozen or so bottles left in this spot, and he noticed that one had a peculiarity to it that drew his attention. He removed the sealed bottle, recognizing it instantly as one of his masters favorite vintages, as his enhanced vision caught a glimpse of something hidden behind it…a small hole that the bottle had concealed. A keyhole, to be precise. With a curiosity that required satiation, he dug the key back out of his pocket and thrust his arm into the crevice that the bottle had once occupied, and turned it as the creak of old and unused hinges strained as the wall rack slowly swung open before him. It took Heckles but a moment to realize what he’d uncovered, and as he walked in he drank the sights instead of the wine he’d initially set out for.

    The room would have sparkled as only the finest gemstones do had there been any source of true light to catch the gleaming golden accents of the hidden vault that lay here. Along with various relics, tomes, and personal mementos of his lord, ensconced within were countless examples of fine jewelry, gold coins, and enchanted armor and weaponry. Most eye-catching to Heckles, however, was the golden strongbox centered upon a small table in the back of the room, a key laying in front of it. As he opened it, he found it filled only with deeds and drawings, papers with the runic language written on them and old experimental spells. Amidst it all were numerous currency markers for very large sums being held by the Britain Bank, and a set of intricate designs that looked to be architectural drawings. Despite his inexperience in the matter, he could recognize the cartographical symbols enough to realize where and what it was that detailed upon it…as well as the cost estimates hand written along it. He recounted the checks that he’d found, and an idea came to his head. Perhaps it had always been his lord’s intention that if he didn’t return, Heckles would find this room and these drawings, and act on them in his stead. And even if not, it would at least be a more fitting use of the area than continuing to let the wreckage sit atop it in ruins.

    A roguish grin played its way across his lips as he did a few brief calculations in his head, thinking to himself. Well, it must also have been my lords intention that there’s enough left over to keep me from that fate worse than death…sobriety.