Chapter XI - The Gateway
Posted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:59 am
Ever the Ruinous Powers are watching us. Waiting. They are in the whispers in the darkest corners of your mind. They are the hands behind the puppets we call kings and heroes, playing the great show until they tire of it all. It is they, who grant strength and justice, where in this bleak world there is none. It is they, who in your moments of darkest despair answer, whilst your gods remain silent. It is they, who know your every desire, and bestow such sweet gifts; with their blessings all can be. One has to only reach out and find those whispers, and answer them...
The winds howled with the cries of countless nunbers of lost souls, the laughter of daemons, and utter madness. Impossible sights bent the minds and very spirit of those that ventured here. No man left unchanged. From a high ridge overlooking a plain covered with the petrified bodies of thousands, Erling watched as a solitary light moved across the insane landscape. Each time he glanced upon it, the object of his attention would appear to be further away, then closer, then somewhere entirely different. Here in the Chaos Realm, the laws of mortals did not apply. How interesting, he thought, that a mortal should find themselves lost in his domain. Another soul for the Perfect Prince. Perhaps with sacrifice, at last a way through would be revealed to him?
Erling followed, ignoring his physical sight, instead feeling the pull of a mortal slowly losing their mind. With each day he grew closer to his quarry, if time could be described as existing here. Until, yes, there it was; a Dark Elf. The armoured Druchii moved without walking, his body seemingly asleep, floating an inch over the ground as if pulled by some unseen current. The Master of Excess in All Things would be pleased with such an offering. Erling gripped his axe to close the gap to his quarry, as the illuminated Druchii moved towards a tall monolith. Crouching, ready to strike, Erling watched with rage as a crack appeared in the great stone, widening, then pulling his prey through, before closing up with the sound like a thunderclap. For a moment Erling had seen blue skies, trees, white cliffs; a beautiful land. He howled his frustration as his sport was lost.
From the safety of her hovel, Lahmia stared at the statue she grasped in her hands. Dried bunches of herbs hung from the rafters along with glass bottles filled with nails and thorns. A desiccated toad hung by its hind legs at the small window overlooking the mud churned road that wound its way along the coast towards the village of Skaldbjorn. A solitary life suited her. They would come to her at times seeking her knowledge, her wisdom, and she would ask the bones of their fates, then by night watch the lights to the north flicker across the sky, and beg that they grant her beauty, power, wealth. Finally she had been answered.
The statue had just appeared on her crude altar amid her fetishes and candles, as if had always been there, just hidden from her sight. The solid gold figurine glowed in the dim light, yet its worth was more, far more, than the valuable metal of which it was formed. “My sweet Prince,” she uttered as she turned the icon in her hands, captivated by its beauty. The androgynous form had a presence. It felt like it was viewing her, judging her, desired her. And she desired it back. She had only to do as it told her.
There seemed to be some inscription on the back of it. Lahmia stepped outside in a bid to read the words more clearly. As she ran her finger down the back of the statue, the words seemed to whisper, like a lover in her ear. She found herself joining the chant, whispering together with the voice that danced through her mind, granting her visions of herself radiant with beauty and bedecked with the finest jewels, with all the men in Norsca at her feet. She saw herself as a great queen of the north, now unaware even of the words she was chanting, only the promises in her mind. “Open the door”, it called, “Come to me.”
“Yes, my sweet Prince”, Lahmia replied. And then the world disappeared into madness.
Her hands felt dry stony earth beneath her, as she pushed herself up and took in the sights of the Chaos Realm. Trees made from flesh bent their limbs in a wind that wasn’t there. Creatures of impossible anatomies loped across the landscape, as the lights flickered across the sky. Those lights to which she had called for so long had now called her. One moment she was alone, the next, he was there. Clad in furs and Norscan armour, a man stood before her. He regarded her as a wolf might look at a wounded deer, and smiled, a long tongue running across razor sharp teeth. Lahmia pushed herself backwards, scrabbling through the stones to be away from him, clutching the golden statue under an arm.
“I have been expecting you”, he uttered, his voice soft and delicious as honey mead. Lahmia found herself paralysed by his majestic presence, his terrifying beauty, the perfection of his poise. She bowed her head, falling to her knees as she yielded to him. “I serve”.
“So you shall”, he replied, “So you shall...” He gazed down at the pitiful creature at his feet. She held the key to his freedom. With a little guidance, he would walk the world again.
Lahmia stepped through the doorway, clutching the statue. Finding herself in a green field surrounded by cliffs, she heaved up the contents of her guts as the sensation of travelling through a portal struck. Spitting out the last of the bitter bile, she took in her surroundings; tall white monoliths surrounded her. Yes. This was the place of which Erling had spoken. He had promised her such things, such sweet things, and having tasted his power, she hungered for more. She smiled with lust, before being interrupted from her dreams by shouts of alarm and the noise of horses whickering.
She rose to her feet, and sighted a small patrol on horse, wearing silvery armour that caught the sun. Gripping lances, they begun to ride towards her, urging their steeds to a canter. Elves! She had heard stories of the fey folk, but had never seen such creatures before. Their beauty entranced her, but their intent was deadly. She had to get away, or else all would be lost. Running to the edge of the field, her fingers gripped stone as she began to clamber up the cliffs. Beneath her, the patrol reached the base and yelled in their musical tongue as they circled their steeds and drew their bows. An arrow slammed against the stone, less than an inch from the fingers of her right hand, and she stumbled, losing her grip. She reached out with her left hand, forgetting that the statue was tucked under her arm, and as she found her grip, felt a sickening horror as the icon fell to the elves below. More arrows were fired, and urgency overwhelmed her as she ascended the rockface ever higher out of range.
Finally hauling herself over the top of the cliff, she sat a moment to catch her breath, examining her palms, bloody from her efforts. Crawling to the edge of the precipice, she glanced over, seeing no sign of the relic that had slipped from her hands. He would be angry. She would be punished. The thought pleased her. Yes. Time to attend to her task.
The Asur patrol rode swiftly to Tor Achare. Not slowing as they reached the gates, their horses hooves skidded on the flagstones as they wheeled them around and through the streets at a gallop. Only reaching the High Tower did they stop and dismount, removing their helms and marching up the marble steps, to ask for an urgent audience with the Mages here. As was the custom, they were made to wait as the guard went inside to announce the visitors, before they were admitted.
“What, Tharinar, is of such urgency that it might interrupt my studies?” asked the Mage, clad in red silk robes lined with gold embroidery. The Shining Guard bowed low, stepping forward, “Apologies, my lord, we had spotted an invader at the waystones.” The Mage placed his quill down quietly on the desk, his brow furrowing. He had felt several disruptions in the aethyr about this place of late. “And have they been captured?” he asked.
Tharinar shook his head, frowning to himself. “She escaped. Yet we have recovered this.” He placed an object covered with cloth on the table and stepped back. The Mage rose to his feet, carefully lifting the cloth and investigating what lay beneath. He felt it calling, singing to his mind, and with mild horror let the cloth fall again. “Very interesting. Interesting indeed” he mused pacing about the table, considering how such a fell item had arrived upon Ulthuan’s fair shores.
“Take a search party. Find her. And bring her to me”, he ordered. Tharinar bowed, “As my lord commands”. Turning, blue cloak billowing behind him, he called for his men. They would not fail.
Lahmia sat on a ledge overlooking the field of waystones, rocking as she dragged a knife over her palm, uttering the words. The ritual of opening had been revealed to her on the other side, and enough corruption hung in the air to retain the portal, that now was no less than a sliver of darklight at the central waystone. She called, chanted, raved, barely clinging to sanity. The runes on the Stone of Valetear lit up, as if resisting something. They blazed, as a low whine filled the air. For a moment, the blue-white light rippled with purple, green, gold, and other colours no sane mind could fathom, before the line of darklight at the stones base widened, the edge defying reality itself. Erling stepped out, smiling as he regarded a small force of Elves approaching the field. With him, his daemonettes followed. What better way to bless his arrival than with blood. The Dark Prince would be pleased.
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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
Chapter X - viewtopic.php?f=55&t=24979