Chapter X - Thalken Trickery

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Senlui
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Chapter X - Thalken Trickery

Post#1 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:48 pm

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The labyrinthine corridors below the towers of Narthain echoed with the ringing of steel clashing on steel, shouts and curses resounding through the halls deep beneath the ground. The Druchii Regiment of Kar Khadath had seemingly found the den of their foes, and meant to clear them out to satisfy their spite, crushing any further resistance from the High Elves.

Having fought their way through the winding marble halls, the Dark Elves now stood against a small force of asur Swordmasters, elite protectors of the Mages of Hoeth. Blades whirred, gleaming with enchantments as they called to Asuryan and slammed against the wicked blades and thick shields of the Druchii. The Swordmasters pressed forward their attack, striking with indifferent efficiency against the front line, blades making their way through and finding their mark. Highborn Duvainder, parried a blow then stabbed downwards at his opponent, his sword glancing harmlessly off his opponents armour. The countering Druchii struggled to find a hold, and the thalken pressed through towards the fragile sorceresses at the rear, readying themselves to unleash a volley of dhar at their enemy.

As Ithilsyn raised her staff and held it forth, a Swordmaster parried it to one side, thrusting forward with his blade, which bit into her flank. Rage mingled with agony as she lashed out with a blast of fell magic that shattered every bone in the High Elf’s body. She staggered as he fell to the ground, pressing her hand to the wound, leaning on her staff as she caught her breath. Gretka whirled her poisoned blades about her in the narrow passageway. Already wounded, she took a blow to her arm, and failed to counter; the reach of a greatsword too great for her daggers to close in. Sharinal angled her shoulders, striking forward with her glaive in a sweep from high to low. Chainmail split and scattered as the edge found its target, biting into the soft flesh of her opponents belly. Blood and entrails spilt as the Swordmaster fell to his knees, his life’s blood draining from the wound. Finally the Druchii were turning the tide, and as the last elf was cut down, all fell silent.

A low hum hung in the air, resonating with the lightest music as if a memory caught from ancient days still clung to the walls of this place. Already fatigued from the fight, the Regiment followed Caranordor forward to a point where the hallways converged into a single large room, the heart of the underground hideout. At the far end a ramp rose to a balconied second level, banners and flags decorating the walls which were lined with busts of heroes long deceased. The ramp flickered eerily with a brownish hue as if some manner of enchantment rested upon it, at its top a magical barrier crackling with energy was suspended, behind which flanked by two finely armoured Champions of the Hoethi Swordmasters, stood a Mage.

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Dressed in an elegant dark blue robe, embroidered with gold, he cast his calm gaze on the Regiment who stood below him. In his slender hand he gripped a richly decorated staff, topped with a flickering red crystal, held in place by a golden eagle with outspread wings. The crystal glowed with magical potential as he observed the Druchii with a wry smirk, before addressing them with a voice thick with scorn, masked by a playful sarcastic tone. Spreading his arms out in a welcoming manner, he bowed low; this gesture itself mocking them, “Welcome, our most esteemed guests. I do hope you have found your stay in Ulthuan as entertaining as I have found observing your ragged war effort. I must say, your presence here so soon is unexpected... but welcomed all the same.”

The Mage paused, straightening out and narrowing his eyes in malice filled stare directed at the Druchii positioned below him. “In fact, I am so delighted by your company, that I might just go ahead and see if I can make you stay here for good.”

Caranordor glanced at his troops, who seethed with rage and hatred. Without a word, they advanced, Azdrubale walking confidently forward, the other warriors close behind. Glaives and swords aimed at the thalken, they began to ascend the ramp, yet as soon as their feet touched the tiled floor, the hue over it shimmered more brightly. All friction lost, the Druchii lost all balance, sliding back down towards the base, much to the amusement of their foe.

The sorceresses converged together, working to dispel the wards. From each of them flew a destructive blast, which behind his magical barrier, the mage simply countered, turning the aethyric energies to his will. Raising a hand above his head, a gust swept over the Druchii who found themselves being drenched in rain, despite being deep underground. It seemed to drain their magic, weakening their attacks.

Duvaindir curled his lip and primed his crossbow, holding it forward and taking aim at the Mage’s head. Letting the bolt fly, the wicked projectile was launched with deadly accuracy, but was stopped by the crackling barrier of energy in front of Giladar which flickered for a moment yet held fast.

Hiding behind his enchantments, the Mage appeared amused, as if their efforts were the bungling attempts of inferiors. Could not an entire Coven undo his wards?

Ithilsyn stepped forward, calling destructive power to her. Viewing the weaves of aethyr upon the ground, she set forth a rolling smoke which billowed across the floor then upwards, biting into the shimmering brown layer. Crackles and sparks of power erupted from the arcane defences for a moment before the slippery ward was shattered under the High Seeress’ magical prowess. The only thing now separating Giladar from the Regiment was the crackling barrier of energy.

Duvaindir loaded his crossbow once more and quickly shot three consecutive bolts against the barrier at one specific point. Simultaneously, Caranordor charged up the slope with his heavily armoured kin, slamming himself against the barrier with all his might. The accursed ward begun to flicker, weakly at first, but then more noticeably as it begun to fail. Combined barrages of dhar from the Coven finally broke it down, and the Mage stepped back as his guards stepped forth to meet the Druchii warriors in battle.

Battle cries and grunts of effort resounded about, mingling with the singing of ithilmar against black steel. Despite the odds, the thalken warriors fought with careful and deadly precision, parrying the merciless attacks of Caranordor, Azdrubale, and Sharinal, before gracefully landing hits of their own. His crossbow away, Duvaindir now stood with the heavily armoured guards, joining the fray with his sword.

The air thickened with magical energies as blast and counter met in the air around the chamber. Giladar spun his staff above his head calling to Azyr, the wind of the Heavens. A small vortex appeared, spinning about the chamber, lightning bolts forking out and striking in all directions, flashing and crackling about the hall. Armour-clad Druchii cried out in pain as they were struck, falling stunned and twitching to the stone floor.

Frustratingly all attempts to strike with sorcerous blasts failed, the Coven perhaps suspecting that this tower was built on a place of power, to deliberately grant it extra protection. Surely Giladar could not be that mighty a foe?

After what seemed an age, the fight against the Swordmasters was finally reaching its end, as overwhelmed by fatigue and numbers, they were cut down. These great champions of Ulthuan were lost forever as multiple blades hacked and stabbed into their bodies, but not without dutifully harming their foes, who in exhaustion and pain, were soon to be undone.

Distracted by the dance of blades, they hardly noticed the Mage weaving a spell, a hand moving around his staff as he pulled the aethyric winds around him. The Coven focussed their efforts, channelling a powerful blast through Ithilsyn. Giladar held out his hand and seemed to catch it; absorb it, and hold the dhar that should have blasted him to bits. Forming a sphere from the destructive energies, the Mage regarded the sorceresses with a sardonic smile, before throwing the energy back.

Noticing the streams of raw power, Ithilsyn pressed her hand to the bloody wound on her flank, in a bid to use her own essence to heighten her magic. She called shadow around her, moments before the Mage threw the orb of power towards them. The magical blast roared outwards from him in a wave, knocking several Druchii to their feet. Sharinel, in mid strike was blasted with such force, that she slid across the marble, striking her head against the banister, causing the world to fade into a whistling blackness. Duvainder, gravely wounded, was thrown like a doll across the balcony, his cry of pain rising above the explosive boom of power as it struck.

Yet the magical blast dissipated harmlessly around Ithilsyn as the blood on her hand clouded about in a lightly glowing red mist. Her hair and robes streamed behind her as the magic roared through, yet it touched as would a gust of wind, nothing more. As the fallen Druchii rolled and pulled themselves back up in a daze, the seeress glanced to Giladar with a sly smile.

Vithari pushed herself to her feet slowly, shaking her head. Stabilising herself, she readied her glaive, before hurling it like a javelin towards the Mage in a desperate attempt to run him through. It smashed through one of Giladar’s wards, yet noticing the weapon fly towards him, the mage wove a shield, causing the glaive to ricochet, much to the wounded Black Guard’s frustration. Giladar glanced at her smugly.

Wounded, tired, the Druchii on top of the ramp struggled to stand and fight. Pain and exhaustion slowed their reflexes, and made even breathing an effort. Blood covering his face, his body licked by countless cuts, Duvaindir pawed around the floor, with rasping breath like a blind beggar, looking for his sword. Finally touching steel, he mustered the last of his strength and picked the weapon up. Dazed and half-blinded, he rose up to his feet and in one desperate attempt threw the entirety of his weight into one final strike born of desperation at the back of the hated Mage. From her position on the lower floor of the hallway, Vithari crawled forwards before pushing herself painfully to her feet and making her way towards the ramp, watching as Duvaindir’s attack failed, landing harmlessly against Giladar’s wards. They were losing.

The world slowed. The clamour of battle dimmed, and for a moment, Ithilsyn felt a clarity. As if walking through a dream, she stepped forward, placing her hand once again on the sword wound on her right flank, which throbbed with agony. She drew upon her pain, drew upon her anger, calling on the power of her blood, her very essence. If she was to die here, then that mage would die too. Lifting her hand before her, the blood on her palm swirled as a red mist, then lit up like red flame as her eyes blazed with defiant hatred. Drawing a dangerous amount of power into herself, she uttered one single word then threw forth her hand, the raw magic streaming forward and slamming into the mage, shattering all his wards.

With a yell of surprise, the Mage faltered. Giladar tapped his staff on the ground, causing a powerful explosion of energy to erupt from him, forming yet another prismatic barrier as he staggered back, clearly in pain. Finally defeated, he chuckled, his voice made into a groan by the sorcerous wound made against his body which already seemed to be slowly healing away, as he was engulfed in Isha’s soft white light. “It’s been fun, my fallen kin. But I am a busy man and I really must be going now. However, you I implore to stay.”

Procuring a small crystal ball, the Mage raised it high to the air. As the Coven continued to sling their wicked bolts at their enemy, he gathered the chaotic and unruly dhar in the artefact. Uttering several enchantments, the excess magical energies left permeating the hall flowed into the crystal ball, filling it with dark chaotic energy, crackling with bright red sparks. He returned the item back into his robes, where it disappeared without a trace. Looking at the Druchii standing directly in front of him, he offered a playful wink before lowering himself to the ground and placing a hand upon the stone floor. After a moment, patterns of dark blue light seemed to spread over the wall, the floor, the ceiling in an incandescent wave of lines and runes. Rising to his feet, he placed a pendant around his neck which radiated with the soft light of more thalken trickery, before offering a sarcastic little wave to the Druchii. “Ta-tah now, you despicable blackhearted blood fetishists.”

And with a bright flash, Giladar disappeared without a trace.

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The entire complex began to shake and rumble. Large blocks of stone began to plummet downwards, shattering into lesser fragments as they crashed onto the floor. The pillars began to buckle as they struggled to sustain the ceiling of the now rapidly collapsing compound. Having faded to unconsciousness from his wounds, Duvaindir was cut off as the way was barred by falling rubble. If the rest of the Regiment did not wish to be buried alive, there was but one single option left. Run.

Ithilsyn lingered for a moment, before turning on her heel, her light steps following the rest of the Regiment who ran, some with limping gait, through the collapsing halls before them. Bricks and blocks of marble fell, dust filling the air, hampering their sight as they fled through the falling labyrinth. Finally reaching the spiral stairway to freedom, they used the last of their strength to dash up and out to freedom. Gasping for breath in the plaza, they observed enormous wide cracks appearing at the base of the tower, shooting upwards and forking off into further ruptures. Soon after, the entire structure finally gave in and came crashing down. In the blink of an eye, the tall elegant tower was reduced to naught but rubble. As the dust settled, a serene quiet fell about.

Vithari removed her helmet and threw it to the ground in rage as the Druchii thanked their dark gods for whatever slim victory this was. The sky above was angry, a darkness lingered as if Asuryan himself was offended by their work. A mist hung about the ground, concealing Narthain in shadows. And it was from this that a figure emerged. The form shifted, as if the mind could not fathom that which fell upon the eye. At first it appeared to be a beautiful woman, but as the form took solidity from the fog around it, it became apparent that this was in fact a sorcerer.

“Amarthandir”, whispered Ithilsyn, recognising the mist-weaving Druchii.

“Ah, Shobhein. As much as I would like to exchange pleasantries, I bring a dire warning. For days I have been trying to reach you, but I was being blocked by magical wards even beyond my power.”

The sorcerer stepped forward amid the battle weary Druchii, ignoring the contempt filled glances from the sorceresses. Long charged with slaying them on sight, the Witch King had it seemed, had a change of heart in permitting them to practice their arts alongside the sorceresses so long as it advanced his war effort.

“There are dark forces at work here,” Amarthandir continued, “They have taken advantage of your absence in Chrace, in conjunction with the weakening of the waystones by the asur, and your own meddling.” Ithilsyn scowled at his choice of words, replying “It would seem that this has been part of a larger scheme. We have been lured and deceived.”

With sightless eyes, or at least blind to the physical world about him, he replied, “A portal to the realm of Chaos is taking form as we speak. A host of the Dark Prince gathering even now on the other side. Soon it will wash these lands in blood, and all hopes of Druchii dominion will be swept aside.”

Before she could query his prophecy, the air grew heavy and the shadows grew long. Amarthandir took a step back before being lost in the mist, leaving a whisper hanging on the wind. “Chrace... Tor Achare...”

And then he was gone.

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If you wish to join us or learn more about us check this topic:
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=23965

Previous Chapters:

Chapter I - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=23964
Chapter II - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24190
Chapter III - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24669
Chapter IV - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24808
Chapter V - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24875
Chapter VI - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24880
Chapter VII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24898
Chapter VIII - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24937
Chapter IX - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24976

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