Bri Posted January 3, 2004 Share Posted January 3, 2004 Amitola pursed her soft lips, a sigh barely escaping as she gazed at the desolate ruins before her. She grimaced as her eyes explored the surroundings, the razed buildings jutting from the ground as so many diseased teeth in a disease-ridden skull. Amitola raised a strong, deft hand to block the rays of the setting sun, as she took in the full expanse of the desolation, charred, blackened wood breaking up the monotonous landscape of grey and white dust. *By the Red Knight, it feels like it was ages ago...and it feels like it was yesterday, all at the same time* she thought despairingly. Amitola stopped by one rubble of building the battered entrance showing that the entire back wall was open to the surroundings. Running her hand along the edges of it, she whispered, "I'm sorry I couldn't save you mother, father. I tried, but there were too many." Amitola hesitantly stepped into the interior, then stopped as the crack of burned wood filtered into her ears. Closing her eyes, the woman knelt down, her red hair falling like a crimson stream around her shoulders, and her nimble fingers closed around a small, circular object with a long, cylindrical stem extending from it. "No," Amitola murmured, a single, solitary tear streaking down her left cheek, momentarily diverted by a small, puckered scar on her bronzed cheek. Amitola lifted her hand, the small object making a gentle TCH, TCH sound rising to hear ears, the sound soft, but steady as she raised it high. Amitola opened her piercing misty-grey eyes, and she felt her heart wrench as she beheld the remnants of a child's rattle, a fanciful bear painted in now-dulled colors on one side, gentle indentations of baby's teeth on the other. A voice bellowed from behind her, a strong, confident voice, "Lady Amitola, are you here?" Amitola stared in silence at the rattle once more, her hands encompassing the tiny rattle, "I'm over here Sir Anomen." The clanking of jiggling metal presaged Anomen's appearance by several seconds, allowing Amitola to stare at the rattle for a few more precious seconds. "Is anything amiss Lady Amitola?" Anomen's concerned voice questioned in the dying light. Amitola twisted her head slightly, seeing the priest's mahogany brown hair almost turn black in the waxing darkness, and she saw the concern heavy in the noble's eyes. Breathlessly, Amitola answered, "His name was to be Aenohe. It means hawk. He would have been my nephew. My sister's second child. Heh, she joked how her next daughter she would name it after me." Amitola opened her hands, allowing the small child's toy to fall back into the grey dust, and turned her back on the rubble of the house. The woman glanced toward the distance, and continued, "Damn it Sir Anomen, it should have been me, not them. I was the one who went to war, not them. And in the end, I could do nothing." Anomen stood by her side, and quietly said, "I will not gainsay your grief, milady. I have my own sins to bear, but this, none of this could have been prevented. It was fore-ordained." Amitola twisted on her heels, a snarl starting to grow on her lip. With a visible effort, she regained her composure, "Do...not...say that to me ever again, Sir Anomen. Not now, not ever. How would you feel it had been Athkatla razed to the ground instead of Saradush?" Anomen blinked coolly at Amitola's question, and answered, "Then I would have moved heaven and earth to punish those who brought the destruction to bear." Amitola laughed sharply, her anguish carried on its biting edge, "But we did that, didn't we? And how much good did it do?" The priest of ran a hand through his own thick hair then, and Amitola couldn't help but notice that he was badly in need of a haircut. "Sometimes the results of our actions are immediate, sometimes they are not. All you can do is have faith," Anomen responded evenly. "As you wish," Amitola said distantly, "So, what news do you have to report Sir Anomen? Have we turned something up, or must we make haste past the Ward this evening?" Anomen clanked forward, and stated, "Delainy has found the resting place of Gromnir. Evidently, after we slew him, the residents just tossed his carcass onto the trash heap. Not that I could blame them, but it made it hard to isolate his...grave. The others are already moving into place. You are the last one Lady Amitola." Amitola felt a warm heat momentarily flush her cheeks, then it evaporated as she made her way forward, and said, "Quite right. We mustn't dawdle, must we?" The crimson-haired woman moved forward, her eyes momentarily drawn to the circular nimbus surrounding the ashes of Saradush. *The Ward* Amitola thought, putting an emphasis on the second word, *A combined sorcerous and clerical feat, a nimbus of magic to encapsulate the pain, the suffering, the instilled evil from the fall of Saradush. With that much death, destruction, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that the number of zombies, skeletons, ghosts, all sorts of undead would rise on the site of their demise. Even worse, the death of so many Bhaalspawn, the Children of the Lord of Murder was bound to leave an almost indelible mark on the land itself. Each night, each Bhaalspawn, or rather the echo of each Bhaalspawn, rises and reenacts their final moments, only to stop during the light of day, and then rising once more. Even with the essence of Bhaal gone, the magical scarring persists, even now. So, to contain the...evil...priests and wizards in a rare act of unity enacted the Ward* Amitola strode forward in her musing, her incarnadine armor the hue of blood-drenched armor, the thick, vital fluid long since dried. Overlaying the armor was a snow-white tabard, embroidered with the scarlet figurine of a knight chess piece, glistening silver-stars for eyes. Her right hand rested on the sapphire-colored hilt of her blade. In the distance she saw a vaguely quadrupedal figure arch its head into the howl, and gave a mournful howl, the sound dancing in the currents of the air, seeming to come from all around her. "And that's why we're here," Amitola whispered into the air, "We found a way to lay the Bhaalspawn, the Restless Dead to rest." Anomen quickly reached Amitola's side, and he asked, "Are you sure you're alright Lady Amitola? We can leave this matter off for one more night if you wish." Amitola's lips quirked into a humorless smile, and she responded, "I'm sorry Sir Anomen. Just remembrances of the past. I am alright...and I would just as soon put this one to rest as well. If nothing else, that makes it one step closer to finishing." Anomen nodded, and replied, "As you will it. I see the others are taking position, and I must be as well." Anomen grinned wryly as the four-legged figure, an immense black wolf whose shoulders came to his waist swipe the ground twice, making an 'X' in the dirt, and then trod to the west of the X. However, much of the thickness of the wolf was in her width, a girth that one wouldn't expect in her svelte body. The wolf leaned back, a gross parody of a dog begging, her swollen dugs blatant to Amitola's discerning eye, and slowly the features seemed to melt, the hair receding while height was gained, bones swimming underneath her skin, until a young, brown-haired woman, questing emerald eyes looking at the spot she had marked in wolf form. The woman's long, brown hair, the color of freshly dug earth, covered her nakedness until clothes slowly appeared on her form, gathering as a slight mist around her until it dissipated, leaving behind a silvery robe that was easily the equal of any plate mail in battle. Amitola suppressed the momentary concern she felt for the wolf-woman, especially as the wolf woman extended her left hand openly, grasping open air, while the wolf's right hand rested gently on her bulging womb. Soon, a long, stringy cloud of mist appeared in the woman's hand, and upon leaving, revealed a long spear, its spear head alternating from an ice-blue, freezing the air around it, to a nimbus of fluorescent blue, the crackle of electrical energy breaking apart the ice before alternating back to ice. "Everything alright Delainy?" Amitola asked in concern, taking up a position to the south of the X. The wolf-woman cocked her head, and closed her eyes as a slight wince passed through her face, but there was also a smile as well, "Yes. The cubs are getting stronger, more pressing. Soon, I will have to prepare a den for them." Amitola found herself smiling in response, though she couldn't ignore the fact that the werewolf's time drew nearer, and nearer. Amitola glanced toward the north, and saw Anomen don his gauntlets, seeing a flash of a stylized eye on the inner palm as he twined his fingers together, and cracked his knuckles outward. Then, he grasped the hammer hanging from a loop on his belt, the head of it a massive, cracked stone. *It has to weight almost a hundred pounds, and yet he wields it as a child would a wooden sword* Amitola thought speculatively. Anomen then lowered the hammer to the earth, kneeling as he pressed his head close to the handle, and started to mumble a prayer, the significance of the words meaningless to her ears. A snort announced a presence appearing from Amitola's right, and she saw the proud, regal features of a dark-skinned woman make her way to the group. The long, flowing ivory hair was bound into a single braid with several silver loops. Anomen raised his head, and frowned in the direction of the ebon-skinned woman, her pointed ears vivid in the day. She wore a midnight-black set of armor, a rich, if unadorned cloak clasped around the dark elf's throat. What drew Amitola's attention was the way the elf's hand rested on a solid, oak handle from which emanated five dark chains. Each of the chains ended with spiked balls, each one a different color from the other. Two of the heads reacted much like Delainy's spear-head did, one crackling with a luminous blue and crackle of electricity. The other was a light ice-blue, the warm air fogging at its presence. A third head glinted with the color of bright sparks, vivid yellow and red coursing along the balls, catching in the points, the glare adding to the promised thread of pain in the spikes of the ball. The fourth one was quite mundane, a simple green color when compared to the others, but occasionally a caustic green drop would drop from its presence, a smoky black cloud would rise from the scorched ground. The fifth head was a gangrenous yellowish-green, giving off an odor of rotten wounds. "Continue your mutterings, tin-man," the woman derisively said in Anomen's direction, "Maybe your god will give you the strength you lack yourself." A bright contralto issued forth from the shadows behind Delainy, and a tanned, muscular woman made her approach as well, her hair the color of sun-ripened wheat, ears angular but not as pointed the dark-skinned elf. The blond's piercing blue eyes filled with irritation at the antics of the dark-haired woman. Her features were strong, the delicate, ethereal allure of an elf blended with the vigorous beauty of a human into an exquisite blend of the two. Adorned in vivid cobalt-blue armor, the armor made a nice contrast to her intense eyes. "Stop twitting him, Viconia,' the half-elf growled, "Every night you try his...and my patience, and every night you smirk as peace is made. It grows tiring, and ill becomes you. Find your amusement elsewhere." The drow arched a white eyebrow, and a sardonic grin crossed her lip, "Ooh, you rise to his defense so quickly Jaheira. Perhaps you fancy the human for yourself? Who would have thought that. Then again, it isn't like you were available. I mean, even a blind man could see your...attachment...to dear old Phelan? That would explain his attachment to the...bitch." Jaheira's eyes clouded with anger, and she raised a mahogany colored staff, a small assortment of living flowers adorned the staff, the heady scent of their fragrance wafting in the air in a floral perfume. Amitola turned her head as she heard a murderous growl come from Delainy's direction, and the werewolf moved toward the drow as well. "Enough!" echoed a voice that exploded as a crack of thunder, and a glowing purple flash of light whirled along the space between Jaheira and Viconia. Both Jaheira and Viconia stepped back, as one final figure made her appearance. "I swear, you two are almost worse than children," said a chiding, young voice, pushing back her scarlet hood to expose a wrathful, youthful face. The speaker's hazel eyes carried the anger that didn't dwell on her youthful face, crowned by a short-cut crown of pink hair. The purplish glow crackled on the woman's hand, and then dwindled into nothingness. The pink-haired woman moved with the slightest of sounds, her light-green elven chain-mail shirt allowing free movement, while offering a great measure of protection, though her black pants left the woman's legs exposed. Jaheira nodded, "Quite right, Imoen," and made her way back to her position, not sparing Viconia a second glance. Imoen stared at Viconia, and a cold smile filled Imoen's earnest face, "You may wish to keep your opinions to yourself, Viconia. One would think that you were carrying a torch for Anomen by the way you carry on around him." Viconia laughed harshly, "Don't think to change the tables with your pathetic mind-games Imoen." Imoen's hard smile remained as she countered, "Who said I was playing any games, Viconia?" Amitola sighed, and interrupted, "Can we deal with this later? The sun is setting, and if we don't do it now, then we have to wait for it tomorrow." Imoen shrugged, "You're right. I would just as soon get this done. Delainy, are you ready?" The werewolf inclined her head, and silently made her way toward the X, Amitola and Imoen pressing in close, each standing equidistant from each other. Jaheira, Anomen, and Viconia positioned themselves in the middle of one of the inner three, but a good ten feet from the three inner people, forming two rings. Delainy looked toward the horizon with the setting sun, and she started to sway slightly, her eyes closed, and sang in a clear voice, "We crave the darkness from the light, A twilight of rebirth, For the dawn of remembrance to come I can hear the empty silence Tarnished by deeds of the past Arise, until the ending of night" With the last of her words, the fiery orb descended for the night, the last, faint rays painting the sky a glowing purple slowing turning to dark. From the north, a steady thud started slowly, growing in power. Amitola's gaze flicked over to Anomen where she saw him pounding his hammer to the earth, its massive stone head now glowing a pure snow-driven white. With each thud, a small circle of white forms around his feet, and a swirling twirl of ivory light climbed into the heavens in a circular pattern. As the thud reached a crescendo, Anomen's clear voice echoed forth, "Helm, I call upon your guardianship, I entreat you for your aid. You know what we do, and why. Grant your favor once more, and allow me to do your work. Allow your ever-seeing eye pierce the most powerful enchantments, and make them undone." Viconia shook her head, but raised her flail to the night sky, slowly swirling the multi-headed weapon around. At first, each ball left a streak of color behind it, but as she picked up speed, the colors merged and became a thick sheath of blackness that enveloped her. "Power is mine to call," the drow said with a deep, husky voice, "I summon you to me, to the darkness that is mine. You are mine, and mine alone to obey. By Shar's grace, so let it be done." Jaheira used her free hand and pointed at Anomen and the blackness suddenly flickered, and lashed out in his direction. Grinning grimly, Anomen kept pounding the earth with his hammer, but directed a finger in Viconia's direction, and a lance of white energy rushed to meet hers. Amitola looked beyond the drow and knight, and grimaced as she saw cracks slowly appear in the earth, skeletal fingers, some with rotted meat on it, rend the earth asunder. *Every night, no matter how many times they are laid to rest, the lesser undead must arise, and they will do so until the Restless Dead are put down* she thought fiercely. Jaheira's voice then cut in, and the scent of flowers grew thicker yet, as the half-elf's voice unequivocally stated, "Mine is the balance that separates and unites. The beginning and the end, that which allows the distinction between night and day, light and dark. So Silvanus dictates, so let it be done." The woman twisted her staff ahead of her, its ends giving off a thick, green light. growing in front of her, and it grew as thickly as Anomen's white light, and Viconia's black light. The green light then spread forth, meeting the two streams of light in the center, above the center of the X. When all three lights came together, a solid grey color then rose in the center, moving along the path of its donated energies, reaching Jaheira, Viconia and Anomen at the same time. From each person, two more lines of vibrant energy then snaked out, two lines moving directly from Anomen to Jaheira and Viconia, a line growing from Jaheira to Anomen and Viconia, and a snake-like growth from Viconia to Jaheira and Anomen, forming a triangular wall of power amongst the three of them; Viconia, Jaheira, and Anomen each a vertex of power. The triangle of power formed just as even the last rays of sunlight completely vanished, and suddenly a large, wailing moan escaped from the limits of the tears of the earth, and where the skeletal hands were pulling themselves to the surface, there now stood a large number of undead, a mixture of ghouls, skeletons, zombies, and other more ethereal types. Amitola winced as one the horde of undead reached the small group, only to bounce back as they futilely tried to cross the barrier. *A ward within the Ward* she thought, *Otherwise, we would be contesting with them all night long* Delainy then moved toward the X, the earth of it slowly opening as well, and in a calm, measured voice, spoke, "Arise kin to the children I bear, arise kin to the one who is the father of my cubs. By the blood of their father, I share with them, and in the ties of blood, I am kin to you. Arise." For good measure, Delainy pressed her right hand to the point of the spear, seemingly unaffected by its enchantment, cutting her palm and then squeezing the blood onto the ground, the viscous fluid flowing until it touched the center of the X. The earth in the center of the X slowly thrust upward, and a corpse-green hand slowly pressed upward, and another, deeper moan rose from within. Pulling himself up, in badly rent armor, a porcine face grew, a massive slash down one eye, his left tusk broken, showing death hadn't been kind to Gromnir at all. "Kin to me," he moaned, and then grinned, showing a row of teeth, "And enemy to me." The undead orc bent in Delainy's direction, and howled when he found his feet refusing to move. Looking down, he found himself bound to the earth where Delainy's blood touched him. Imoen took one step forward, her eyes glittering determinedly, "Come brother, listen. By the heritage that binds us, I am as you were once more, I will be as you are now. There is no need for this, we are here to give you surcease." The orc let out a laugh that chilled Amitola's spine, and his waist twisted with the grinding of bones breaking until he faced Imoen, Gromnir's feet still rooted to the ground. Amitola couldn't but feel a wince of disgust at this unnatural display. "Surcease? What do you know of surcease?" the orc grunted, "You still live, touched as you were by the blood of our father. Why were you so lucky, when I was not?" Gromnir threw back his head, and howled at the night sky, "Why you, not me? It isn't fair!" There was another wrench as Amitola suddenly saw Gromnir's torso separate itself from his waist, until he was crawling along the dirt towards Imoen, maddened pain ululating in the night. Imoen looked at the orc sadly, and thrust her hands forward, the purplish nimbus of energy growing again, and then unleashed it onto the undead orc. Gromnir's head echoed with renewed pain as he stopped in his tracks. Amitola shook her head, as she rushed over to the orc's torso at the same time as Imoen dropped her spell, and grabbed it in a tight bear-hug from behind. The orc's shoulders bunched as he tried to move his arms, but Amitola's arms retained their grasp. "Let me go!" Gromnir bellowed. Amitola, her nostrils thick with the stench of rotten flesh, merely grunted, "No." Bending at the knees, she lifted the torso straight up, and gave it a rough toss at the orc's bisected legs. With several grunts, the torso rolled until they came to a stop just behind his knees. Suddenly, another flash of purple filled the air, this time bathing the torso and legs. From Delainy's direction, a silvery light filled the air, mingling with the purple. Gromnir's cries rose heavenward, and Amitola shook her head as she retook her position once more. She reached down, and pulled out her sword, a rather unremarkable looking blade. Amitola held the blade before her face, and she grunted, "Yes, Gromnir. It is time to rest. By this blade I hold, with the spilt blood of my people, the ashes of their death thick in my nostrils, you shall face oblivion once and for all." Taking a gauntleted hand, Amitola hit the flat of her blade with her palm, and a sound, akin to that of a thousand tortured souls, rang throughout the night. And the sound didn't grow weaker, but louder. And as it reached a crescendo that overshadowed even the pounding of Anomen's hammer, she then pointed the sword at Gromnir. His cries were swallowed up with the cries of the blade, and then first his flesh, then his very bone started to turn into dust, being ground down by the force of Amitola's blade, and the magics of Delainy and Imoen. "Rest in peace, brother," Imoen said, dropping to her knees in exhaustion when nothing was left but the ashes of Saradush. Link to comment
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