Whispers on the Wind: Finale
Finale to the Whispers on the Wind plot. This is going to be very dangerous. There could be maiming, death is not off the table. Be advised this is going to be rough. Not for the faint of heart.
Jan. 16, 2020, 8 p.m.
Outside Arx - Crownlands near Arx - The Field
Comments and Log
The time has come and preparations have been oh-so carefully made. The journey to Drummond's Field is a rainy one. One of those wicked summer storms with bolts of lightning that shake the heavens with their rolling thunder. The rain falls like needles, pelting the canvas covered wagons that carry the supplies and any members of the party that are not keen on a several-hours ride in the rain.
They are able to pulls the wagons and horses onto the field itself, the crops planted earlier in the spring are crowing in neat rows, though the crevasse that was hidden under the fallen tree -- the entrance to the stone tunnels below, are given a wide berth. Still, the air smells of ozone, soil and growing things. A good, clean smell, no longer soured by the miasma of rotted flesh and sickly honey. Once they reach the tunnels, things are drier, though when they reach the ritual chamber, with that crack in the cavern's ceiling, things are a little damp.
The sacred salt is carefully laid out in the concentric circles with the thirteen pointed star radiating outwards. Braziers are set and lit, incense burned and left to smoke, twists of pale gray smoke rising in slender, fragrant coils.
It is time.
Archscholar Sina stands just outside the circle that has been drawn upon the floor in salt, at the point that is dedicated to the Sentinel. The Godsworn priestess is wearing her armor, dark hair tucked up within her helm, the blade Brixeur'Ame sheathed at her hip. A tabard of steelsilk and aeterna is worn over the armor, gleaming brightly in the light of the braziers that have been placed about the chamber.
A large circle has been drawn upon the floor of the cavern in salt. The salt is not just ordinary salt, however. It is salt finely distilled from the waters of the sea, blessed in the Shrine of Mangata, and consecrated. It is a small fortune, glimmering on the floor in the light of braziers lit at thirteen points around it.
Within the great circle, around the altar, is a smaller circle, and within this circle are the circles representative of the triads of Creation, Concepts, Arts and the Lost. Along the edges of the outer circle, drawn in salt, are symbols of the thirteen gods of the Pantheon within the rays of a thirteen-pointed star. Circling the very edge, a prayer of protection has been written in fine grains of salt in meticulous script. The prayer is a beseeching to all thirteen Gods of the Pantheon.
When all have gathered, who will be gathering, for the purpose of this evening's rite, the Archscholar speaks for a moment to explain what is going on. "Tonight, we will be joining together in the hopes of sending a lost soul back to the Wheel, and into the arms of the Queen of Endings. This is a rite of exorcism. It is a solemn rite, calling upon the gods in a Beseeching, but also a dangerous one. If you are going to have a change of heart, now is the time to leave. Once we place these items," she says, gesturing to the parcel in her arms, "on the altar and begin our prayers, there is no turning back." She glances around, waiting to see if anyone wants to leave.
Wearing her new mirrorsilver-and-stygian-covered snakeskin armor - including the faceless, mirrored helm and a few pieces of steelsilk, Sister Dianna Godsworn hardly looks how one might expect a priestess to appear. She stands, her body poised and ready, with her backpack set beside her feet - filled with a myriad of things. She does not speak, though she turns her mirrored gaze around the room, reflecting everything upon it in those mirrorsilver discs, and sucking light into the alternating stygian.
There's no going back for Josephine. The jeweler having endured the ride and shoulders relaxing as they go underground. For all that she hates the sea, the water, beneath the ground feels more comfortable. With borrowed steelsilk, fireweave, shadowmeld and steel, the woman is a mishmash of styles and a testament to the desire by others to see her protected. Sina gives her warning and the jeweler lifts that chin of hers, plants that cane down and moves to take up a pre-appointed spot. There is no turning back.
Ian is here, and he looks like he's ready for, uh -- things. There's the armor, of course, the steelsilk hood, currently pulled up to keep the worst of the rain off his head, the heavy gloves tucked into his belt. That's all pretty standard, if a bit piecemeal. But then there's also a pair of custom fitted goggles sitting atop his head, ready to be lowered into place in the event that eye protection should be required (or cause of death related puns), and the scarf. There's a truly hideous scarf looped at his hip, where his sword would normally be, coiled like a whip. Aside from the knife at his other hip, he doesn't seem to be armed (unless the stench coming off the scarf counts, which it might), but of course anyone who knows him at all well knows there's an alaricite sword in his cane. Also, he has a flask. Full of alcohol. He's taking a drink from that while he waits. For what? He doesn't know, but his bland expression suggests that he's made his peace with that uncertainty. Then Sina is talking, so he caps his flask and puts it away, into an inner pocket of his coat. He starts putting his gloves on.
The only reason Amund is here, at the end of all things related to Butcher, isn't simply to stop great evil, though that does factor into the decision. It is to avenge Demetria Arcuri, as he'd given his vow to do so.
The Knight of the Telmarch is clad in his full war regalia, the black-dyed fireweave with the flame-lined trims making for an interesting study of contrasts, though it doesn't contrast as much with itself as it does with the sand-colored sword that he wields. Encased in crystal glass, it makes for a strange, but unique weapon.
Because of the foul miasma of the place, his scarf covers his jaw and bottom of his nose. He nods to Josephine. "It ends today."
Lucita says, "I am not a Disciple or Godsworn but I am faithful to our Pantheon none the less." Sucita says in gentle tones, armor damp, moisture glinting here and there where it hands in some of the tooling of her armor. I'll gladly 'sing' to help emphasize the prayers and beseeching or hold something for you or step back out of the way, whatever you need of me to end this thing." She says in somber tones."
Colette seems to be far to busy watching and listening. Keeping a look out for anything out of the ordinary, to even hear the offer to leave. Her cowl pulled over her head, her shawl up around her nose. She looks ready for a fight.
Unlike usual, Fairen is dressed in full armor, the ancient sword Lastguard on his hip. There's a more solemn and serious expression on his face than before, although oddly serene. After gazing at the preparations upon the floor, he walks to Sina's side withou hesitation. "There is no turning back, Archscholar," he replies quietly, although a mint salve is smeared beneath his nose. The Disciple of Vellichor prepares himself to assist the Godsworn with their exorcism, back straight and eyes gleaming behind glass lenses.
Ashur's hat gleams with vestiges of rainwater. He stands by near to Dianna, at her back. Brazier light reflects in his eyes as he watches the surroundings, alert, resting one hand on the lower arm of the bow that hangs at his back.
Dressed in her usual red leathers-exotics this time though-stands Thea. She is straight and ready, her medical essentials ready, her blades close. Gold-flecked green eyes scan her surroundings, her ears open as she listens. Her face appears serious today, gone is the impish glint that usually plays across her face.
There is a growling roll of thunder that rumbles down from above, muted by the layers of eart, only given egress by way of that crack in the ceiling. The rain seems to lessen, the drilling fall turning to a softer misting, the air gusts an ice cold breeze down from the ceiling creating a fog-like cloud to form along the roof of the cavern. The air feels... thicker. Colder. The tenor of the place shifts, the prickling feeling of being watched can be felt.
The Legate of Arts is here, as she would not allow the Archscholar and her fellow Legate to face this alone. Cassandra, having helped how she could in the ritual with Sina, walks down those who have appeared, a bundle of burning incense in her armored hand. "By your honor, may Gloria watch over you. By your strength, may Gloria be your sword. By your will, may Gloria be your shield. By your faith, may Gloria protect you. We few, we brave few. We are the line between the light and the dark. May Gloria light our way when the shadows grow long." She speaks the words to each person in the group, should they want the blessing of the Sword of the Faith.
Ian's eyes move constantly, picking out the movement of shadows, the fall of the rain. He glances Dianna's way a lot. As the atmosphere becomes heavier, his demeanor, if anything, becomes more peaceful. Alert, but peaceful.
Gently, from beneath the mirrored-and-stygian facemask, Dianna speaks: "He's here. This is him - for those who do not know him. Hello, Baron. It is good to find you again."
These words, perhaps, are odd - coming from the Mirrormask. And yet, for those who read her Whites, they may know her reasoning, and the reason for this gentle, tender tone. She does not move, yet - aside from her head, which seems to be looking around the room, reflecting the fog in the mirrorsilver - becoming all the more foggy. She, too, is restful, peaceful. Serene.
The thirteen pointed walk, round the star, a journey of the pantheon -- the Legate of Concepts followed behind who creates salt circles. She was a trailing tall figure who swung the censer while she whispered the Litany of the Gods, emboldening the protective salt circles with the air of Mangata, the fire of Gloria, the aroma of Petrichor -- around and around it was a graceful dance of prayer and benediction, her rhythm becoming a familiar tune of heart.
Ailith carefully strides, meticulous in avoiding breaks in the salt circles, and moves to stand alongside her brethren, the Godsworn. With her head held high, solemn and calm of stance, the Legate speaks aloud with hands braced upon the hilt of her sword, gleaming of diamondplate and faded symbols. "This night, we shall call upon the Gods. Three to bear witness as crimes are presented, judgment passed -- of Gloria, of Sentinel, of Limerance." She bows her head before Cassandra when she nears, bending to a knee as a knight, and lends words to the prayer, "Hold fast in your hearts the strength found in Faith, Family, and Friends. Let the Shield of the Faith protect your hearts and minds. What comes upon the rumble of thunder shall seek to unravel your beliefs, trickery to coerce break, and horrors to rattle your resolve. Look to one another, fill yourself with the glory before the Gods -- hold the line. Justice will prevail."
Colette nods her head once to Cassandra at the blessing, but keeps her focus on the task at hand. Eyes darting around the room quickly trying to observe everything all at once.
Once any who have had a change of heart have left, or once all have stayed, Sina nods and then places the parcel at the end of a long pole, letting it hang by the tied ribbons, and then uses it to place the parcel on the altar in the center of the circle. Once it has been carefully placed there, she draws the pole back and then hands it off to one of her templars, who hands it to an acolyte. "Feel free to sing and pray with me," she says, with a nod and a smile to Lucita, and another to Fairen, and to the others present, each. "Offer your own prayers. We will need thirteen sacrifices, one for each brazier. Josephine Arcuri has crafted thirteen beads, one for each of the Pantheon. Something personal, and representative of our purpose here today. Those who wish, may aid in offering the sacrifices as we pray to each god. But most of all, remain steadfast. What is to come, will not be easy. We will call upon each of the Gods in turn, as we call upon the wayward soul we seek to summon here tonight. Do not speak his true name, until after I have done so."
With that said, the Archscholar offers a solemn inclination of her head out of respect toward Cassandra as she brings Gloria's blessings, and to Ailith, who stands as the Shield of the Faith. Then, she closes her eyes, entering into a meditative state, even as the air begins to grow colder. Once she has achieved that meditative state, Sina begins to pray. "Petrichor, Lord of Safe Havens, hear our prayer. We sanctify this circle, that it might protect and ward against that which would harm us. May your blessings sanctify this place, where one of your chosen was saved."
Sina drops a cloth parcel tied with a sable ribbon.
Adjusting himself to move slightly behind the Godsworn, Fairen listens to the Legate of Arts with his head bowed, accepting the blessing of the Sword of the Faith with humility. Likewise, the words from Ailith are taken in as he breathes deeply, focusing inward and steeling his resolve. The Marquis returns Sina's smile and prepares to pray. "Petrichor, Lord of Safe Havens, hear our prayer. We sanctify this circle, that it might protect and ward against that which would harm us. May your blessings sanctify this place, where one of your chosen was saved." His voice is deep and strong, eyes closed in meditation.
Ashur hears Dianna's voice, poised at some space behind her still, but one might get the sense that if he spoke it would be in less gentle tones. He has no air of menace however, rather one of suspense and moderated condemnation. When Cassandra offers benediction, he momentarily removes his hat and holds it over his heart, then replaces it upon his head. The prayer to Petrichor is murmured under his breath after Sina, quiet but firm.
Bending a knee to the backpack laid nearby, Dianna withdraws a steel rose - delicate and beautiful. She holds it in her hands, steps to the circle, near a brazier, and offers up her prayer, "Lady of Change, Bright Lagoma, hear our prayer. We ask for your aid to heal a troubled soul. Let your winds of change bring peace to all within this space. May the fires of your Eternal Flame purify these offerings." She takes the rose and lifts it before the fire, "Jayus, bless us all with your love, with your beauty, with your song. Bless us and keep us in this day and in this night - and in all the days that come, if it be your will. I offer you this rose, meaningful only to me, to my heart - and to the one who gave it to me. And to you, Jayus, I give it willingly." She drops the rose in the fire.
When he is named, the thunder turns to laughter, the chill of the wind is now a sharper, cutting thing. The fog condenses down into more obvious tendrils, the gray darkening at the edges, like a rain cloud. The laughter wheezes as those coils dance around Dianna, close enough to gather condensation on her mirrormask, and yet there is no press, no overt attack. "Do you think to use sweet words on me after all of the violence we've shared?" The rumble sounds amused, before the fog retreats, the laughter returning, dark, ominous and mocking on the heels of Ailith's speech. "So you think you can call upon the gods to help you?" There is a snide roil to the laugh, the incorporeal voice managing to convey a snide sort of disdain while holding a note of threat as well. "Do you think you are the first to try to exorcise me?" That laugh comes again, the wind whipping more strongly through the room, though not a single grain of sand is affected. Not yet. "You will chant your pretty words, and try with all your might... and all you will do is banish me. For a time. And then I will be back." The voice comes from behind Fairen now, "To possess more minions..." The voice shifts directions, coming from just beside Josephine, "To kill more children..."
Dianna takes a blossom and flower petals of colored steel from an orange backpack with two pockets.
Dianna drops a blossom and flower petals of colored steel.
The beads in question are drawn from a pouch that Josephine has carried with her. At Sina's words, as each of them start, josephine's murmuring her own prayers and drags the beads in their respective braziers, limping about the circle with assistance from her cane. The voice as it rings out though, draws out an unamused look on her face but Josephine holds her tongue. Even when that voice comes from beside her. Plink goes a bead into a brazier with a little more force than the others have.
Ian shows no sign that he intends to offer a sacrifice today, which means that there's nothing to distract his watchful gaze while the others pray. He's remarkably sanguine about the talking fog -- he gives it a long look, but that looks more like he's waiting to see if it's going to turn itself into the kind of threat that he can do something about.
Lucita listens carefully to the instructions and nods, determination showing in her expression. She takes a place behind Sina, not in a reserved way but in a supportive manner. She clears her throat and nods once again, ready to start when called upon. For once she does not seek to sneak a fortifying sip from Ian's flask, she has her own if she should need it, but apparently not as yet. She observes each of the preparations being made.
As the Butcher's presence is drawn by Dianna's naming of his title, Sina does not allow this to distract her, for she was expecting it. She shivers just a little, at the chilling words whispered into the air by the Butcher, but she stands firm, her eyes opening now to focus upon the circle before her as she raises her hands in a benediction. "Mangata, Goddess of the sea and air hear our prayer. We sanctify this circle in your name, and call upon your blessed light. We honor you with this blessed salt, and pray that all within will be cleansed and purified." Her voices rises over that of the Butcher's, though she does not yet speak his name. "Lady of Change, Bright Lagoma, hear our prayer. We ask for your aid to heal a troubled soul. Let your winds of change bring peace to all within this space. May the fires of your Eternal Flame purify these offerings." She makes a brief gesture, for the beads to be sacrificed, her breaths coming faster, but her concentration holds, for now.
Thea shivers as the air cools, watching. She murmurs a prayer to herself quietly, however not stepping forward. She watches the tendrils of fog, lips thinning a moment--not saying a thing.
Colette has no prayers to offer, she is there to protect those who would pray. She tightens her fists as she mentally preps for what is to come.
Unlike Ian, Ashur is not sanguine about talking fog. Blue eyes widen and dart towards Dianna, carrying a flicker of concern. He stands firm at his station, and scans the mist as it moves.
Fairen shudders briefly at the disembodied voice curling up from behind him, but remains resolute. "Mangata, Goddess of the sea, hear our prayer! We sanctify this circle in your name. We honor you with this blessed salt, and pray that all within be cleansed and purified." Eyelids flicker open, watching the Archscholar through every prayer, not allowing his attention to be diverted. "Lady of Change, Bright Lagoma, hear our prayer. We ask for your aid to heal a troubled soul. Let your winds of change bring peace to all within this space. May the fires of your Eternal Flame purify these offerings!" The end of each prayer is pronounced with a firm exclamation, his zeal and fervor beginning to burn like the braziers and the sacrifices within.
"Oh, are you not speaking to me? Shall I kill another of your children?" This, a taunt aimed directly at Josephine as the fog swirls, "Let's see, there are what? Two more in Arx? Shall I sample that younger, tasty daughter? The one that works in your shop?" As the ritual continues, that cloud begins to seethe, not longer amused, the voice taking on a tinge of annoyance. "Blah blah blah, do you *really* think your gods are listening? Do you think they care? If they *cared* why would I be allowed to do as I do? You are solving *nothing*! You cannot kill me! Not unless I have a corporeal form!" This, last bit is said in an exultant crowing. There is a pause and then the voice grows louder, "But your bleating grows tiresome."
Ian gives the fog, which does not seem to be going away, a measured look. After a moment, he slips something out of his pocket and snaps his scarf loose from where it's looped at his waist. He ties some kind of complicated knot in the scarf about halfway down, the knot encasing what looked like a token taken from his pocket. He says something to Ashur in a low voice while he does so.
Josephine checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 20 higher.
Ian checked dexterity at difficulty 15, rolling 41 higher. Ian rolled a critical!
Dianna checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 29 higher.
Thea checked dexterity at difficulty 15, rolling 2 lower.
Sina checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 6 higher.
Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(5) at difficulty 10, rolling 22 higher.
Colette checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 7 higher.
Thea checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 32 higher.
Ashur checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 0 higher.
*plink* The next bead drops into it's brazier and the old jeweler focuses on what the beads are saying, what the armor around them and swords is saying. The flecks of ore in the metal, the braziers. And then under her breath, josephine sings a song to herself. "There is just one moon and one golden sun..."
Josephine checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 11 higher.
Dianna checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 5 higher.
Finishing her blessing of those present, Cassandra turns, taking a breath of the incense before the burning embers are scattered in a toss, a rubicund armored hand resting atop of the pommel of chain of prayer beads on her wrist. With every god mentioned, her finger shifts, touching on the bead that represents that Ideal. "Gloria, burn the fog and darkness away by your righteous light. May the Sentinel's sight see this miscarriage of justice. May he see his justice be served by the valorous and just. May the Queen of Endings bring this lost soul back to your Wheel, so that they may find a better chance to find your love."
Sina checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 5 higher.
Cassandra checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 5 higher.
Lucita checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 11 higher.
As the Butcher's voice continues to taunt and mock and attempt to terrorize, Sina continues with her prayers, maintaining a prayerful state of deep meditation, her silvery eyes focused upon the circle before her. "Vellichor, God of Knowledge and histories, hear our prayer. Steady us as we stand before the unknown. Let us remember that every story has a lesson to be learned." She continues with the prayers, to each of the gods of the Triad of Arts this time, her voice rising ever higher. "Gloria, hear our prayer. Steady us against the darkness. Lend us your strength of will to stand in the face of it." Finally, she speaks both a prayer, and instructions to Lucita, "Jayus, Prince of Stories, hear our prayer. Let our hearts sing along with our voices, that the darkness be kept at bay. Fill these sorrorwful halls once more with the beauty of your inspiration."
Amund checked dexterity at difficulty 10, rolling 19 higher.
Fairen checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 3 higher.
Ailith checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 9 higher.
Ashur shows Ian an appreciative smile, but his eyes still contain worry. He listens to the speech of the cloud, and adjusts his stance near Dianna.
"Violence has been done, by one and all, Baron Ruthas of Glenbriar," Dianna gently speaks. "You are mistaken, though, Baron Ruthas. You forget yourself; you forget ...why you began - have you not? You wrote of unfairness, of the vanity of the gods. You wrote..." the priestess tenderly speaks, "That you wished to be favored of the gods - and of Tehom. Have you forgotten this? Have you forgotten that you wish to be beloved? Chosen? Because you /can/ be, you /are/ loved. You need only remember, Baron Ruthas, that is through love that one is loved - not through hate. Not through violence. Not through harming others," she softly shakes her mirrored helm. "Give yourself back to the Mother; you have had your time," the priestess sweetly speaks. "And let the Queen of Endings embrace you again, to decide when and where she will return you to this world anew. Do not be afraid, Baron Ruthas. There is nothing to be afraid of - don't you remember? That is what it is to love Tehom, and to be loved by Him. Embrace. Embrace all that is wrong, all the darkness in yourself - and return. Of your own choice. At once." The words are an order, but a reminder, an enticement.
Lucita checked mana + performance at difficulty 40, rolling 27 higher.
Dianna checked mana + theology at difficulty 35, rolling 8 higher.
Fairen checked mana + theology at difficulty 35, rolling 22 higher.
Prayers around. To each brazier, a memory of an ideal gifted in honor of the god. Never stopping. Never slowing.
The heel of steel boots crack upon the stone floor when the Shield of Faith begins the call to make a step toward the demon -- quite assured of the Sword of Faith to be close by while the Archscholar and Godsworn Sister maintain the prayers to invoke a Rite of Protection. "Goddess of Honor, unflinchingly we stand the line to face battle. O Glorious One of the Sword, bare witness! Gloria, the Hand of War, hear these crimes against one who forsakes the Pantheon -- for one who dishonors our gods' sacred gifts and ideals." It is a beginning.
Cassandra checked mana + theology at difficulty 35, rolling 16 higher.
Ailith checked mana + theology at difficulty 35, rolling 22 higher.
Lucita's voice is clear as she begins to sing when indicated, an even metered song paced to last through the ritual. Its words emphasize the prayers, seeking to strengthen them while adding some shielding to those present in the chamber.
Sina checked mana + theology at difficulty 35, rolling 31 higher.
Josephine checked mana + theology at difficulty 35, rolling 28 lower.
"Vellichor, God of knowledge and histories, hear our prayer. Steady us as we stand before the unknown. Let us remember that every story has a lesson to be learned!" Unlike Sina, Fairen is now moving, like his eyes behind the lenses of his spectacles. Joining Josephine, he picks up a bead and drops one into a brazier with a satisfying plunk. "Gloria, hear our prayer. Steady us against the darkness. Lend us your strength of will to stand in the face of it!" Another bead is taken and tossed into the sacred fire, each motion precision in his meditative state. "Jayus, Prince of Stories, hear our prayer. Let our hearts sing along with our voices, that the darkness be kept at bay. Fill these sorrowful halls once more with the beauty of your inspiration!"
The Archscholar continues her prayers, her voice rising ever higher, her focus rock solid and intent upon the circle and the altar before her. Her silvery eyes are calm, her voice steady as she prays, "Gild, Goddess of fortune, civilization and safe travels, hear our prayer. We call upon your aid, Kind Goddess, that we might remember mercy and charity in the task we begin this day. Limerance, Lord of Fidelity, hear our prayer. Let us remember compassion in the keeping of our vows. Sentinel, hear our prayer. Today, we call upon Ruthas of Glenbriar to answer for his crimes against the gods and humankind. May your temperance and impartial wisdom guide us. Let us be your instruments, that we might judge true."
Ian is left, once he's finished, with what looks like the kind of bola you'd bring to a pillow fight if you hated everyone present. It's ugly, it's soft looking, but it hangs from his off hand like he's really planning on using it on something. He also draws the alaricite sword free of his cane, even though that means leaving the cane part out of the way somewhere, since he don't have enough hands to carry all three.
As the ritual continues there is a subtle golden light, three points that swirl in the gloaming fog. These lights reach towards those tendrils of fog that are gradually forming a vaguely humanoid shape, though as the lights glimmer they pass right through the fog, making no contact at all. The bands of light shine more brightly as the prayers continue, but as they pass harmlessly through him, the Butcher's laugh only grows louder. He rounds on Dianna and cackles, "Do you love me, now, priestess? Would your hands caress my body if I had one? I think not! Lies! Trickery! But your gods cannot touch me! So long as I am free of flesh, I am free of death!"
The crack in teh ceiling above seems to fill abruptly, the drone of hundres, thousands of insects begin spilling down, crawling down the walls, buzzing along the currents of air, thiny black bodies heading for those gathered around the circle. From down the corridor shuffling sounds and moans can be heard, and above all, the mad cackling of the Butcher. "And now... now you have brought me such a fine feast of those who consort with those traitorous gods!"
After flicking another bead into a brazier, walking alongside Josephine, Fairen continues to pray. Echoing the Archscholar's words with an iron will, "Gild, Godess of fortune, civilization and safe travels, hear our prayer. We call upon your aid, Kind Goddess, that we might remember mercy and charity in the task we begin this day. Limerance, Lord of Fidelity, hear our prayer. Let us remember compassion in the keeping of our vows. Sentinel, hear our prayer. Today we call upon Ruthas of Glenbriar to answer for his crimes again the gods and humankind. May your temperance and impartial wisdom guide us. Let us be your instruments, that we might judge true." Each step taken between the braziers is slow and measured. But the shuffling and buzzing has to be shoved out to keep his concentration.
has her hand on the hilt of her kopis, but then there are the insects! Gods the insects! She shudders, groaning already. Thea pauses, realizing--Crap! Was she heard? digging through her satchel already....
Josephine checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 44 higher. Josephine rolled a critical!
The Achscholar continues to pray, thus far unperturbed by the Butcher's clamoring, and the sudden arrival of insects, which she seems largely unaware of, so focused is she in meditation and prayer. She does not offer up sweet platitudes to the Butcher, nor does she try to taunt him. Instead, her task is to call upon the gods, and that task is not yet finished. Her gaze remains fixed on that bundle of items on the altar, the items that were collected at the behest of the Gods. "Lady Death, Queen of Endings, hear our prayer. Take this troubled soul, Ruthas of Glenbriar, and bring him into your embrace once more. Too long has he been with us, and it is time now to send his lost soul back to the Wheel. We pray that he will find peace in another turning.
Skald, we do not pray to you, for you have asked us not to. We make the choice today, however, to free Ruthas of Glenbriar from the chains of the Abyss, that he might be free to choose again in another life. We hope that you are with us.
Aion, Great Dreamer. We do not pray to you, yet it is our Intention that what has been wrought within the Dream by Ruthas of Glenbriar may be yet be cleansed and purified. Let him once again be made whole. May that intention be made manifest!"
Today isn't a day where Amund carries any kind of flammable oil with him, sadly. The shuffling sounds, the moans? Those earn his attention. Sandstalker is already free of its sheath, so he whirls it at half-turn in order to have its point face the entrance those sounds are creeping in from. "Use fire on the swarms. Stick with me to protect the summoners from the shuffling half-dead abominations he'd stitched together."
The knight is not at all interested in the Butcher's banter, which has been the overall sentiment he has been expressing as of late. They just need to hold out long enough to finish the ritual.
For her part, Dianna prays, still speaking on behalf of Ruthas of Glenbriar. Her voice is clear, her manner gentle, elegant, refined - and loving. "Gild, Goddess of fortune, civilization and safe travels, hear our prayer. We call upon your aid, Kind Goddess, that we might remember mercy and charity in the task we begin this day. Be kind to Baron Ruthas of Glenbriar - though he means us harm. He has forgotten what it is to be human.
Limerance, Lord of Fidelity, hear our prayer. Let us remember compassion in the keeping of our vows. We are bound to you, as we are bound to one another - even this discorporeal man. He needs his body; he must remember - for he has forgotten what it is to be real, to be human. To have the oaths of humans and to be blessed by the gods.
Sentinel, hear our prayer. Today, we call upon Ruthas of Glenbriar to answer for his crimes against the gods and humankind. May your temperance and impartial wisdom guide us. Let us be your instruments, that we might judge true. But, lest we forget ourselves, too: Give us wisdom that we may know to measure violence and love - that we may neither be swept up so much by one or the other that we lose ourselves - and forget the gods."
Ashur frowns deeply at the light figure when it mocks Dianna, and notes the way Ian prepares his weapons. Following suit, he brings his bow to a hand, and nocks an arrow. He hears Amund's command, and turns with the man to face that entrance whence the shufflers may come, but does not step away from his stance near the Godsworn priestess.
Ashur wields a recurve bow of polished yew.
Sina continues to stand there then, at the point of the star dedicated to the Sentinel, focusing all her will into the prayers she has offered up.
"Gloria, Goddess of War and Honor, I beseech you. I ask for you fire to protect the valorous and honorable souls here. By the Sentinel's gaze, I ask for judgement on one who's crimes are so heinous. By Lagoma's purity, I ask for the mercy to grant this restless soul a better life in their next life. Queen of Endings, I seek out your guidance to bring a wayward soul back to your embrace." It is less of a prayer and more of a chant from Cassandra, fingers clutching the prayer beads on her wrist like she would a weapon. In this moment in not her sword she uses as a weapon, but her faith as a righteous blade of purity and passion.
Sina checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 68 higher. Sina rolled a critical!
Fairen checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 7 higher.
Lucita checked mana + performance at difficulty 40, rolling 45 higher.
Dianna checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 11 lower.
"It's a world of danger, a world of fear, there's a world of darkness, a world of tears, there's so much that we dare, but it's time to beware, it's a dark world after all." This is not some popular oft heard song and as she starts the next verse, josephine's hand holding the next bead out to pass to fairen to drop in, falters. Just a moment. Then it drops to Fairen's palm and she keeps limping around. A deep breath. A smile so faint and warm. "Though the wild winds blow and the tempest howls, and through all your dreams does a dark thing prowl, if we hold to the light, then we'll make through the night, it's a dark world after all."
Josephine checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 32 lower.
Ailith checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 23 higher.
Cassandra checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 12 lower.
Ian checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 35, rolling 4 higher.
"If it's walking corpses, don't light them on fire," Ian advises to Ashur while he dumps the contents of his flask on his improvised weapon... thing. "Then we'll just be fighting walking corpses that are on fire." Then he lights the scarf thing on fire. The wool immediately starts to smoke. A lot. He keeps the "bolo" moving just enough to encourage that smoke. Hey, it worked with the demon wasps. Also, the smoke probably smells terrible.
10 inflicted and Cassandra is harmed for moderate damage.
Colette looks over and nods to Ian, "I 'ave not perfected the flaming fists yet. Seems a tricky thing to pull off." She says with a little grin
10 inflicted and Josephine is harmed for moderate damage.
When it gets down to it, when there /had/ to be bugs, icky bugs, the singer reacts. Lucita closes her eyes and then opens them, focising on the Lantern of Lagoma and then the wall covered with crawling with bugs. With passion she sings a Canticle of Lagoma to call out fire. Her weaves carefully avoiding people and the ritual circle but seek out and scorch the bugs with licking flickers of flame... sizzle POP, crackle SNAP. Insects gone into a curtain of flame that disappears as the insects burn.
"Lady Death, Queen of Endings, hear our prayer. Take this troubled soul, Ruthas of Glenbriar, and bring him into your embrace once more. Too long has he been with us, and it is time now to send his lost soul back to the Wheel. We pray that he will find peace in another turning." Focusing on his task at hand, Fairen continues to place beads into braziers while walking alongside Josephine, his prayers growing louder with each god named and called upon.
"Skald, we do not pray to you, for you have asked us not to. We make the choice today, however, tofree Ruthas of Glenbriar from the chains of the Abyss, that he might be free to choose again in another life. We hope that you are with us." Ignoring the taunts of the Butcher and refusing to respond to it, he smiles at the craftswoman and her song.
"Aion, Great Dreamer. We do not pray to you, yet it is our Intention that what has been wrought
A lantern sets beside her foot, burning bright of the Eternal Flame, blessed by the Pantheon, a device that has broken of Illusion and Lies -- the Legate of Concepts remains affixed to her position and a lantern gradually is lowered beside her as she calls once more, "May the Sentinel guard the righteous! The Silent Watcher sees all -- for every crime of demonic influence, every corrupted act of magic, and every soul taken. Justice shall not waver for the God of Justice takes note and will remember. I call thee the Faceless God to bear witness for truth shall shine!"
Thea checked perception + medicine at difficulty 20, rolling 63 higher.
"Aion, Great Dreamer. We do not pray to you, yet it is our Intention that what has been wrought within the Dream by Ruthas of Glenbriar may be yet be cleansed and purified. Let him once again be made whole. May that intention be made manifest!" By Fairen's will. By how he brought his ideals upon the Dream, so once more let it be heard.
Thea rummages in her satchel, pulling out a couple herbs, she nods her head--satisfied. Thea lights the herbs--Penny royal, watching as the smoke rises and spreads.
Cassandra visibly struggles suddenly, choking for what seems to be longer than she'd like. But her eyes narrow, looking up. To stubble but not to falter. To compensate, she draws her sword, Chivalry's Point, turning the sword upside down and jamming the point into the ground using it as some kind of leanto. Or perhaps she needed a better point of focus. What better than her sword. "Goddess of War! The Silent Watcher. The crimes of Ruthas of Glenbriar seethe with dishonor and injustice! We call to you, O Gloria! Seek your fire down on the cowardly and dishonorable! O Sentinel! Bring your fair justice low, bring down those that would hide from your sight! Honor will be restord! Justice will be wrought! Bring forth your jugement!"
There is one more prayer yet, of course. A prayer to Tehom. "Tehom," Sina prays, her voice still steady, her focus of will still upon the circle, and the beseeching of the Gods, "We seek your aid in understanding. To know ourselves, we must look upon our reflections. Remind us that we are all of us flawed. May we look upon Ruthas of Glenbriar as a mirror, and see in him, a part of ourselves. Envy, pride, arrogance. He has felt that he is not beloved of the Gods. Somehow, he has felt spurned, and unwanted. Let us reflect upon what it means to become our flaws, for this is what has happened to Ruthas of Glenbriar. While we look into the mirror of ourselves, let us remember, too, that any one of us could become him, should we given in to our darker motivations." With this, she bows her head, and finally lowers her hands.
Beads tumble, falling from her hand, the next one ready to sacrifice and then the velvet bag bearing the rest hit the ground too as Josephine's eyes widen a moment before she's choking. Breath stolen away and hands come up to her neck, that universal sign as fingers scrabble at her throat. Spots start to filter and the Jeweler looks like she might panic and then it's gone. Whatever it was, dissipated and she's sucking in lungfuls of air. Frozen in spot. Looking to what currently constitutes the baron.
"We need a body." The words echo'd from something she's heard and then she's moving. Fuck the limps, Josephine, wheezing, wheels across, careful not to disturb the ritual paraphenelia and walks into the fog and breaths deep.
Those trio of glowing lights get brighter, stronger, radiating a sense of honor, chivalry, justice, at sharp odds with the sense of darkness, cold and mockery that opposes it. Those bands of golden light spear through the foggy shape with little effect once more, and there is another cackle of laughter, a laughter that turns to outrage as Josephine steps forward and starts to inhale. "What are you doing?!" There is a little golden spider on Josephine's shoulder, it's spindly forelimbers waving at the fog. As Josephine steps into that cloud, it attempts to shift away, but as if caught in a slow, inexorable vaccum, it is being pulled into Josephine with each deeply drawn breath.
A deep breath comes from behind the mirrorsilver helm, and Dianna's voice comes clear as a bell: "Tehom, Dark Reflection of the Gods, we pray to you to for your blessing upon Ruthas of Glenbriar, that he may see the darkness of his soul, that he may be made whole by it, that he may see his fear and his ill-doing, and his ill intent. We pray that you save him from it, in seeing this truth. That in this truth, he may return to where he belongs: With the Mother, whole again to know himself, to master all he is and be better than all the fears which have made him into this, to do what he has done. And if it is your will, take him back - make him yours. He wishes it, Tehom. He has always wanted you - and he does not belong here."
Dianna checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 1 lower.
Ailith checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 3 higher.
Sina checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 2 higher. Sina rolled a critical!
Colette checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 9 higher.
Ian checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 3 higher.
Josephine checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 8 higher.
Cassandra checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 2 higher.
Fairen checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 2 higher.
Amund checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 3 higher.
Lucita checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 23 higher.
Ashur checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 26 higher.
"Tehom, we seek your aid in understanding. To know ourselves, we must look upon our reflections. Remind us that we are all of us flawed. May we look upon Ruthas of Glenbriar as a mirror, and see in him, a part of ourselves. Envy, pride, arrogance. He has felt that he is not beloved of the Gods. Somehow, he has felt spurned, and unwanted. Let us reflect upon what it means to become our flaws, for this is what has happened to Ruthas of Glenbriar. While we look into the mirror of ourselves, let us remember, too, that any one of us could become him, should we given in to our darker motivations." While Fairen finishes up with this prayer after Sina's own words, Josephine's sudden drop of the beads and choking with it brings a look of concern. Picking up the beads and starting to place them in the braziers, finishing up the last of thirteen, the jeweler going into the fog and inhaling it makes it rather difficult for the Marquis to remain calm during his prayers.
As the ants, wasps, beetles, bees, biting flies and more pour down the walls they begin to swarm. Dianna is the first to be enveloped in a writhing mass of biting, stinging vermin. They crawl over her, looking for seams in her armor, seeking tender flesh to feast on. Cassandra and Fairen are not much luckier. They are not engulfed as Dianna is, but they still collect a number of angry bites.
Thea checked luck at difficulty 10, rolling 1 lower.
20 inflicted and Dianna is harmed for moderate damage.
5 inflicted and Cassandra is harmed for minor damage.
5 inflicted and Fairen is harmed for minor damage.
Dianna checked composure at difficulty 10, rolling 11 higher.
Colette checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 54 higher.
Ashur checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 13 higher.
Sina checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 5 higher.
Ailith checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 8 higher.
Cassandra checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 14 higher.
Yes, Dianna is bitten - and yes, there is some challenge in keeping her composure, but, if she feels any pain, she shows nothing. Not a flinch, not a flicker, not a wince, not a shrug. Those bugs - the ants, the bees, the wasps, the beetles - they bite this Mirrormask, and she does not falter. "Lady Death, Queen of Endings," Dianna gently prays, "hear our prayer. Take this troubled soul, Ruthas of Glenbriar, and bring him into your embrace once more. Too long has he been with us, and it is time now to send his lost soul back to the Wheel. We pray that he will find peace in another turning."
More bites, more stings, and Dianna speaks again, "Skald, we do not pray to you, for you have asked us not to. We make the choice today, however, to free Ruthas of Glenbriar from the chains of the Abyss, that he might be free to choose again in another life. We hope that you are with us. Beloved Aion, Great Dreamer. We do not pray to you, yet it is our Intention that what has been wrought within the Dream by Ruthas of Glenbriar may be yet be cleansed and purified. May that intention be made manifest."
Dianna checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 28 higher. Dianna rolled a critical!
"Does it matter what condition the body's in?" Ian asks Josephine, while eyeballing the corridor from which there is moaning and shuffling. But then she's stepping into the fog and whatever's going on over there is way out of his pay grade. So. He hands his makeshift weapon off to Colette. "It's not flaming fists but there's a token of Mangata in there. See if you can keep the bugs off people." With these parting words, he moves to intercept whatever's coming, pacing carefully on the muddy earth.
A rapt beat of words, a thump of a heart, and a call of a chant. Ailith digs her heels to remain standing and tall, calm before the taunts and horror of the Butcher. "Love and True, these ties do unite us together. O God of Fidelity, hear our calls and join as judge. Three to unite. Three to witness. Three to judge. It is by these three, we strengthen." From her pouch, she recovers two tiny vials and hands one to Cassandra. Their eyes meet solemnly before, in unison, they pour to create a symbol upon the floor (without disturbing the salt). And upon its center, she places the lantern and unlocks a pane, opening the light to this vessel.
"Brand. Marin. He who betrays. Hedgelord. They thought to escape the Queen. Thousands of years for some. Justice always finds a way," she calmly declares, remaining steadfast at Cassandra's side. "Even Will thought to escape." A faint signal is shared with Cassandra and their thoughts aim for a goal -- possibly along the lines of what Josephine fought hard to wretch from her throat.
Lucita checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 22 higher.
"I'll shoot them," Ashur responds to Ian with a flicker of a tight smile. This tense and eldritch atmosphere is beyond his ken, but he lifts his bow towards the directions of the shufflers... and then sees that Dianna is being overrun by biting insects. In a fraction of a second, the weapon lowered to his side, he lunges for Thea's smoke satchel (rude!) and waves it across the priestess' form, wafting the repellant over the multitudinous tiny forms.
Fairen checked willpower at difficulty 10, rolling 13 higher.
Ian handing off his smoke device gets a nod from Colette. When the bugs come in she looks to Ashur and runs in with him to help keep the bugs off of people. Swinging it around Cassandra first, as he seems to be heading towards Dianna. When she is satisfied that she has the Legate clear, she turns her efforts to help Fairen if she can.
The Archscholar cycles through the prayers once again, then she calls out, "Ruthas of Glenbriar! We call upon you, in the name of the Queen of Endings, to account for your extra time upon this turning of the Wheel. In the name of the Sentinel, we call upon you to answer for your crimes, Ruthas of Glenbriar. We call upon you, Ruthas of Glenbriar, to take this body," she goes on to say, her eyes filling with tears for poor Josephine, "and accept your due. Return to the Queen of Endings, of your own free will. Or we will send you to her."
As Ailith speaks those words, those trio of lights grow brighter still, blinding. The more they shine, the faster that foggy form of the Baron into the vessel he is closest to -- Josephine. The wisps of fog coil around the jeweler, that tiny golden spider on her shoulder still artistically wriggling its forelegs. The insects swarm, and from the mouths of the corridors that attach to this room, shambling horrors can be seen. Misshapen bodies, bloodless skin in gray hues, clouded, sightless eyes and hands that reach, seeking flesh to rend and tear.
This time with the golden bars of light cross the space where the Baron was, they begin to wrap around Josephine, smoking lightly as she is bathed in golden light.
There's a gritting of teeth from the insects and bugs that bite at her, but Cassandra doesn't yield, doesn't relent, and when she sees Ailith motion with the vials, she rises, mirroring the motions with Ailith, careful not to disrupt the what has already been prepared. She pours in unison with the Shield of the Faith, the Sword of the Faith moving in time and rythmn with her fellow Legate.
She speaks as she moves, pouring out the vial given to her. "Oathbreakers and deniers will always find judgement of the Sentinel. For his Eyes cannot be hid from from. For his Hand will grasp for the hilt that is the sword of justice. The Faceless Judge shall always given his sentence. The Queen of Endings shall always have her due." A light nod is given to Ailith, agreement in her expression.
Amund checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 21 higher.
Amund checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 40, rolling 18 higher.
Ian checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 41 higher.
Ian checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 53 higher.
Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(5) + brawl(4) at difficulty 15, rolling 23 higher.
Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(5) + brawl(4) at difficulty 15, rolling 50 higher.
69 inflicted and Amund is unharmed.
150 inflicted and Ian is harmed for severe damage.
Lucita does not stop singing throughout what all is happening. Within range of her vision, the bugs are gone to cinders, keeping them away from as many as she can, a solitary singer, not a choir of singers. She tries to boost the effects of the Faithful as they pray one by one.
Colette checked strength + brawl at difficulty 30, rolling 27 higher.
Thea gets her sachet of pennyroyal smoking well and as she stands and lifts it aloft, like a torch, the scented smoke drives the bugs way from her, like a boiling black tide. They scramble away in a forty-foot sphere, scrabbling to evade the smoke. Dianna, Fairen and Cassandra are rather abruptly bug free.
Ian lowers his goggles over his face as he moves to engage, a clear sign that he expects this to get messy. It's almost casual, the way he brings his alaricite blade up and lops off the hand of one of the walking dead, just as it's reaching for him. He's bringing the shaft of the cane, the blunt "parrying dagger" around to ward off the other one, but it lurches at an unexpected moment and slams into him, throwing him off balance enough that it can reach through his steelsilk hood and scrabble bony fingers against his throat. There's a fair bit of blood, but in the darkness and the chaos, it's hard to see how bad the wound is.
Breath catches at her throat when blue eyes sharply discover who is being drawn. The lump swallowed, Ailith meets Josephine's gaze before her shoulders set back. "Mother of Beginnings, I call upon thee! Thy Crown's Hand," Josephine, the forger of Death's Crown, "shall be thy Knight of Eve -- bravely unbowed to deliver justice. O Queen of Endings, guide her. Be with us so that we may end this cycle, this cheater of death, and be returned to the pantheon for penance." Her hand plants upon the hilt of her sword, the Sword of Light, and she chants the Litany of the Gods -- focused in guiding the Butcher to his end, empowering thoughts by awareness of his crimes to be replaced by its opposite. For hunger for power, it is fulfillment. Satisfaction. Love of family as has the Arcuri, so has the love of one mother to her abruptly taken daughter.
Somehow, Amund knew that the Butcher would send his small army of misshapen bodies he'd experimented on to fight them. Those shambling horrors cause the knight to slip into a defensive posture, letting them approach rather than bridging the distance. Once they do, however, he moves swiftly, slicing through a monster before contending with the other's clawed counterattack; his armor holds, and his subsequent blow to the enemy's waist cleaves through bone and flesh as it travels in a controlled arc. He glances at Ian and the wound on his throat, kicking aside a third enemy to make his way to the Kennex. "Let's herd them in a narrow line. We cut them down that way."
Ashur checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 25, rolling 20 higher.
Ashur checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 25, rolling 16 higher.
Colette looks up sharply from her Bola dance in time to see Ian getting attacked. She runs in. Fast. While running she is wrapping the Bolo around both hands creating a scarf garrote. She jumps right at the first corpse slamming her shoulder in to and letting her momentum take them both down. As she does she wraps the scarf around the throat of the one attacking Ian and pulls it down hard with her and the other corpse. As she hits the ground she rolls to get back up and unwrap one hand from the makeshift garrote.
Josephine breathes deep, the question from the thing that killed her daughter goes unanswered as she inhales. Forces him with the help of whatever those lights are, standing there and doing her best to follow the instructions of that little golden spider on her shoulder. And she makes the choice. She holds her breath for a moment. Closes her eyes, tries to drown out the sounds of those bugs, of the fighting. Focuses on the song that she sings in her mind now instead of out loud. "Work swiftly" Who she says that too, the people? The spider? Though now she looks around, hands in a fist.
Ashur drops the smoke satchel near Dianna, leaving a cloud of the repellant about her, and whirls to face the shufflers with his bow rising again. He stands between the walking dead and the priestess. An arrow is nocked and drawn in a swift motion, whirring past over Amund's shoulder. The shaft drives through one corpse and pins the shambling thing to the one behind it, causing them both to stumble around vainly.
Sina checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 15 higher.
Cassandra checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 4 lower.
Dianna checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 14 higher.
Ailith checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 19 higher.
Fairen checked mana + theology at difficulty 40, rolling 22 higher.
The stinging and biting that is bringing up angry welts along his skin doesn't stop his praying, nor do they bother Fairen nearly as much as watching Josephine's fate. The shuffling dead, the swarming insects - these are nothing in comparison to that. His voice hitches in despair despite the chanting continuing without ceasing.
Domonico checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 35, rolling 18 higher.
Domonico checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 35, rolling 13 higher.
Lucita checked mana + performance at difficulty 40, rolling 23 higher.
While bugs skitter away and while others create smoke bombs and fight off the horrors created by the Butcher, Sina continues to stand at the point of the Sentinel, her feet planted shoulder-width apart, her silvery eyes focused now on Josephine and the lights about her, watching that golden spider on her shoulder. "Lady Death, Queen of Endings, make your will known to this troubled soul, Ruthas of Glenbriar. Let him know that even he, wretched as he is, may yet find redemption and know the love of the Gods, as you have taught me," she says, tears still streaming down her face, as she seems to understand what is happening with Josephine. "Know that we do not celebrate his passing, but we will celebrate his life. Vellichor, let us learn from the story of Ruthas of Glenbriar. Grant us your wisdom, as we seek to understand. Sentinel, guide as we bring Ruthas of Glenbriar before you. Let him seek penance, and a chance to redeem his troubled soul.
Domonico wields Warspite, an alaricite xiphos.
Lucita continues to sing diligently, blocking what she can from the ritualists, protecting them and adding the strength of her singing to the prayers and rituals being done. Small beads of sweat start to show at the hairline and she is a shade paler but her voice is just as strong as when she started.
5 inflicted and Lucita is harmed for minor damage.
The fighting continues, the swarms of insects are kept at bay by Thea's smoking pennyroyal, while the efforts of the assembled Faithful continue to call upon the gods and goddesses. That trio of lights is near blinding now, a chiming hum filling the air. Josephine's form begins to straighten slowly getting pulled upwards until her feet hover off the floor. Those golden binds are smoking, hissing, even as Josephine bears the clear pain, being inflicted. The coldness is fading, the light taking over the space, even as a crack of thunder sounds from above.
Cassandra finishes whatever it was that she and Ailith were doing with their pouring of water and oil. Her eyes become steely. "Now! I ask for the justice brought down upon the sinful! Upon the dark, to push the black and shadow back! To burn it away in the light of the Gods! By the will of the Gods, Ruthas of Glenbriar, you will hurt no one ever again in this life!" Her fist clenches, as if making some kind of invisible gesture. "Queen of Endings take you! Take you back to where you belong! Claim you back to betraying an life that was not given to you!"
The cry comes, loud and clear as Domonico comes charging down the corridor, Warspite drawn and hand as the warrior joins the fray, attacking the shamblers from the flank. A powerful slice of his xiphos and one enemy falls, torso near cut in half diagonally. He ducks under a return slash and steps in, between Ian and further harm before ramming the tip of Warspite straight up through the chin and skull of a second in another brutally efficient strike!
It's unclear whether Ian heard Amund, owing to the fact that he's a little busy right now with Zombie Jackie Chan. He grunts with pain as the zombie scrabbling at his neck is pulled off of him by Colette. And then Domonico comes barreling in, allowing Ian to step back, his free hand pressed to his throat still. There's a lot of blood there. It's already saturated the steelsilk.
Colette checked strength + brawl at difficulty 30, rolling 26 higher.
Free at last of the stinging insects, the Mirrormask priestess continues praying, her voice growing stronger, "O gods of the Pantheon, whom we love, whom we adore: Take this disembodied man from this world. Hear our prayers; know our hearts; know our minds: all of us. He does not know what he does, Baron Ruthas of Glenbriar. He does not know that, while he seeks to destroy us, to strip of us our wills, he binds us ever closer - to you, to each other. Give him love, the love he seeks is yours, after all. Give him succor, give him the life he wills to have, O Mother of Beginnings, Queen of Endings. Aion, great Dreamer, knower of all dreams and wills - we would have you know ours, and I would have you know mine: Burn this lost fog, let Ruthas of Glenbriar see and know the Light! Skald, god who has given us all choice, one and all - even this man; even Ruthas of Glenbriar. We do not seek to take choice from him, but give it back - to all those whose lives he would take choices from." Dianna's voice grows quieter in her insistent prayer, "Tehom, Tehom... Will you not love him back?"
The Archscholar continues to chant her prayers, even as that light becomes blinding. The tears filling her eyes are both in awe, and sorrow. Yet, she persists, her will never flagging, her prayers never ceasing. "Mangata, we hear the thunder of your voice above. Purify this tainted soul with your blessed light. May the waters of your compassion wash through him. Take my own tears," she says, lifting her hands to her eyes, and sprinkling them to mingle with the salt circle on the floor." She watches Josephine's form with her eyes filled with calm compassion, her heart never wavering. Lagoma, may your blessed flames purify this tainted soul. Rise up and cleanse away the pain." Her prayers continue, on and on, her face alight with awe, wonder, and understanding.
Colette bends down and coldly and nonchalantly grabs the head of the zombie at her feet. She twists it cruely and a loud snapping can be heard. Seems she is hoping that will keep it down on the ground. She breaks the Zombies neck without breaking eye contact with Domonico, "Lord Malvici, Nice of you to be joining us."
The Archscholar continues to chant her prayers, even as that light becomes blinding. The tears filling her eyes are both in awe, and sorrow. Yet, she persists, her will never flagging, her prayers never ceasing. "Mangata, we hear the thunder of your voice above. Purify this tainted soul with your blessed light. May the waters of your compassion wash through him. Take my own tears," she says, lifting her hands to her eyes, and sprinkling them to mingle with the salt circle on the floor, "that he might be cleansed." She watches Josephine's form with her eyes filled with calm compassion, her heart never wavering. Lagoma, may your blessed flames purify this tainted soul. Rise up and cleanse away the pain." Her prayers continue, on and on, her face alight with awe, wonder, and understanding.
Amund checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 35, rolling 12 higher.
Amund checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 35, rolling 22 higher.
Ian checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 25, rolling 35 higher.
Tears work their way from between eyelids that are clamped shut, tracing paths down her cheeks. "I know. I know." Josephine bites out. "Stay strong. Stay the path." This is now yelled out to the ones praying. "He's burning."
Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(5) + brawl(4) at difficulty 20, rolling 35 higher.
Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(5) + brawl(4) at difficulty 20, rolling 25 higher.
Reigna GM Roll checked dexterity(5) + brawl(4) at difficulty 20, rolling 39 higher.
105 inflicted and Domonico is harmed for serious damage.
Cassandra says in Celestial cant, "The time of judgement has arrived Ruthas of Glenbriar! The Eyes of the Sentinel bear down upon your soul, finding that darkness has invaded your heart! Only he may judge you know, and in his impartial and fair view, may he find our soul wanting! May Gloria, Goddess of Honor and War, find you unworthy of this unlife, may she strike you down for the shame you have brought down upon yourself! And may Death finally claim you again as your own. That you might finally find peace in life that is no longer yours! You cannot escape, for your judgment has arrived! My your darkness be burned away by purifying light! May the souls of the lives you have wrongly taken know peace!"
Cassandra shouts in the odd chant, unwilling to relent in her prayer with the rest of her fellows, holding her hand outright, as if to push away the fog and tendrils and shambling corpses by the power of sheer faith alone.
75 inflicted and Amund is unharmed.
Ashur checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 20, rolling 8 higher.
Ashur checked dexterity + archery at difficulty 20, rolling 11 higher.
117 inflicted and Amund is unharmed.
Ashur lets two more arrows loose from his quiver, the fletchings a blur as they speed past Amund to lodge into shambling undead. He continues to stand between the misshapen horrors and the praying Dianna.
Faltering, Josephine's directions called out to them has Fairen rally and pray with strengthened conviction. Observing the golden light as it surrounds the jeweler, he takes a step closer to where the Godsworn also are praying. Cheeks pallid, he gazes at the two Legates and the Archscholar, drawing inspiration from them to press on.
With an overhead whirl, Amund slices through a shambler's torso, finishing it off after it attempted to hit him, before pulling back suddenly as he brings his sword up to cleave at another shambler's arm, cutting it off entirely. He reverses his stance, trying to defend from the overwhelming numbers through feats of agility alone. This isn't sufficient, of course, given that he's struck twice, but he remains on his feet. Even if he gets pulled by one, slashed low on his torso by another, he has to stand, because this is the conclusion to a fight he's bought what seems like forever ago. Sandstalker is a blur of gold, his expression one of intense focus.
"I said to herd them! Narrow their ranks and this is ours!" Arrows fly past his shoulder and he registers their passing, but also that there's an archer thinning down the number of shamblers coming at him.
Ian turns up the collar of his coat and leaves that as protection for his bleeding neck as one of the zombies closes with him again. He cleaves into it in a motion as controlled as if he were still unhurt. He tosses a look Amund's way, but either has nothing to say in reply, or physically can't say whatever's on his mind.
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Cassandra before departing.
The Archscholar continues to pray, her voice rising further, her head tilting back. Hearing Josephine's pleas for them to hold fast, Sina does. She blinks the tears from her eyes, and prays, "Gloria, Lady of War. Let your glory shine upon us, and hold us steadfast. Let our hearts remain steady, and our sword hands true, as we seek to finish our task with honor. Yours is the glory, ours is the victory." Her hand rests on the hilt of Brixeur'Ame. Now, she is starting to move to each point of the star within the circle, offering up prayers. Tears for Mangata. A lantern lit with the Eternal Flame for Lagoma. A small painting offered up to Jayus, created by her own hand. As she gives up each offering, she finally reaches the point where Vellichor's sigil is etched in the salt. "Vellichor, in your enlightened name, we pray. Enlarge our understanding of this world, and the story of Ruthas of Glenbriar. Let us see it. Steady us as we stand before the unknown, and steady him as well. Edify our minds, our hearts, our wits. Let us remember Ruthas of Glenbriar. We bend our knee, and accept your truth," she calls out, resting down on one knee, bowing her head. "We open our ears, and receive your counsel. We open our eyes, and receive your words. We open our hearts, to receive your wisdom."
Domonico yanks his blade from the zombie he has just slain before giving Colette a brief nod, "Also keep something in reserve to..." he suddenly ceases talking as he spies another corpse approaching Ian's flank, lunging at the badly injured man with snapping jaws. Domonico just reacts and his left arm snaps out, intercepting the attack on Ian before Domonico makes a loud hiss of pain as the corpse clamps down it's teeth on his arm, taking the attack aimed for the Kennex.
Lucita trails Sina around the various stations, singing appropriate songs and hymns to accompany the prayers of the rituals. It is clear strain is starting to show on her as she continues, her voice showing a faint rasp on some sequences of notes and her color growing paler. One hand rises to rest at the base of her throat, one of the signals that it is hurting, but still she sings.
There is no point where Dianna's does not pray, and yet, there is still no knowing of her present expression - aside from love, peace, understanding. And, hearing Sina's prayer, Dianna finds her way to the symbol of the Sentinel, where she bends a knee as well and implores: "Let us know, Sentinel, what judgement you make upon this man. He is not ours to judge, but to give to you, to return to you. Vellichor: You know his life. Speak to us, through us. Give us knowledge, we beseech thee, that all may know as you know, that we may be blessed with justice from The Sentinel - to do what is right."
There seems to be an impossible number of these shambling dead. They take wounds and still move. They stretch out with claws and teeth to trip, slash and bite. Domonico heroically puts himself between one of the shamblers and Ian, his back getting raked open as a reward for his valor, blood spraying the walls. Amund however, seems impervious to harm, the creature's claws scrabbling against his armor to no avail as he continues to hack and slash them with that glittering glass-coated blade of his.
The conflict between the trio of lights and the spirit bound within Josephine is coming to a head, the jeweler bathed in a radiant aura of gold, even as smoke shimmers around her. Her face is gilded in a combination of blue light as lightning strikes above, and the gold that surrounds her. There is a scream then, a man's scream, not a demon or wraith, it comes from within Josephine as the light gets so bright none can look directly at the jeweler. It is as if a sun were brought to life within the cavern, a sun from within Josephine's body. That scream hits a fevered pitch, absolute terror, rage and dread before it begins to fade as the light shines too brightly, blinding everyone in the cave.
There is then, silence. The moaning from the shamblers is gone. No skittering of insects. No screams from impassioned wraiths. For a span of seconds there is just... quiet. Not silence. Just... quiet.
As the light finally dims, and the spots dance in everyone's eyes, it takes a bit to reacclimate to the illumination within the cavern. The shamblers are gone, crumbling bodies fallen to the ground, unmoving. A soft golden spotlight shines down through the crack in the cavern's ceiling. Josephine lays on the floor of the cavern, expression one of utter peace, eyes closed, hands clasped on her chest. She is not breathing, her body still. At rest.
Yet there is a translucent echo of Josephine, standing just a few feet away, looking back at the others, and at her side, Demetria, a hand on her mother's shoulder.
"It's okay, Momma." Demetria's voice is soft, her form changed, she's much smaller now, a young girl, hand clasping Josephine's. "Come on, Momma. It's ok. The Queen is waiting for us. She wants to talk to you 'bout a crown you made..." With that urging, the translucent child tugs on Josephine's hand, the jeweler taking a moment to look at each person, a timeless smile on her face before she turns, no hint of a limp as she moves away, slipping out of that golden light, disappearing as she does.
That light remains for a few moments before it splits into three, the small orbs swirling around the godsworn, lingering near Ailith before they wink out, leaving the cavern feeling emptier.
Cassandra will likely never be sure if her use of the language she rarely uses will have some kind of impact. It likely doesn't matter, because the screams intensify and the light grows brighter, she has to turn her head away, shielding her eyes, holding her hand up to try to shade her sight. Once her vision returns, the silence is defeaning. She looks at the ring on her finger, as if waiting for something. She says nothing at first, taking a look at those present, seeing now shamblers. And then, Josephine on the ground. "Josephine!" causing her to rush forward. Then sees it both at once. The body and the vision. "No!" she slides to her feet at Josephine. "No, by Gloria not you! Damnit!" a fist beats at the ground. Something tears at the Legate. "I'm sorry. By the gods, forgive me. We had so much work left to do together... The plans we made...we were to help the Guild...no. NO!"
Amund checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 16 lower.
Dianna checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 1 lower.
As the light brightens to blinding, Sina remains where she is, there at Vellichor's sigil, letting her last offering settle, a rather absurd floofy quill with some personal meaning to her. She lifts a hand to shield her eyes, unable to stare through the glare of blinding light as that man's scream echoes out through the cave. Throughout the rite, she has been focused up until now, intent on the prayers of her beseeching. Her own voice is raw from the constant chanting and praying, and it's clear she is beginning to tire at this point. Still, she manages to push herself to her feet, once the light begins to dim, and she finally lifts her eyes, to stare at the form of Josephine lying peacefully on the floor, and then to the golwing figures. She blinks tears from her eyes, whether it be from the blinding light, or the emotion of the beseeching. She gives a nod to Josephine's glowing form, and to Demetria's as well, her expression solemn. She is reverently silent as those three lights linger around Ailith, and then wink out.
Light. And more light. Shards of light from Josephine's body, reflected, sucked into by the mirrorsilver and stygian of Dianna's armor. She sees too quickly what comes, shielded from a good deal of the light by the mirrorsilver and stygian.
Dianna kneels still, staring at Josephine's body, staring at Josephine's echo, at Demetria.
Lights pull back, swirl around herself, Ailith, Cassandra, Sina - then move to Ailith again... and are gone.
Not a sound came from Dianna in all this time. Just peace, quiet peace - and then, a sob, choked. Only one through the mirrored helm as the helm moves not at all.
Lucita checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 7 higher.
All that time spent fighting and it comes to a critical moment where, to Amund, there isn't a feeling of invulnerability. Yes, he took on many blows head-on, cut through a number of enemies. Fought the entire journey, burned down masses of swarms. But he turns and he sees the glow, then the phantasm of Demetria and Josephine standing beside her.
He sheathes his blade - with reverence for it - and turns. The usually expressionless man has a face of clear anguish, a fist clenched. It subsides for several heartbeats, enough to be visible, before he closes his eyes, takes in a deep breath. "Not you, Josephine."
Spoken, lower, "Not you."
Ian steps away from the action taking place in the center of the room, to a wall that he can lean against. With careful fingers, he lowers his collar and takes off his hood to try and get a sense of the damage to his neck.
Sina checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 12 lower.
Domonico checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 22 higher.
It seems to take a moment for the meditative nature of what has been done to fade away from Sina. Then, she bursts into tears, uncontrollably. She sits down on the floor, and wipes at the backs of her eyes with her trembling hands.
The shambling stops and the light glows bright around Josephine. Ashur turns to look in awe, bow dipping down to his side. He gazes on with reverence at the two spirits, and the sorrow of those who were close. Bowing his head, he removes his hat and holds it over his heart, eyes closing.
Ailith drops. Palms splay across the stone, a knee bent, as words trickle as achingly as the tears shed down her face held in rapture. The lights, a trickle of familiarity as if hearing their voices, she croaks, "Thank you. For you are with us. Always. And your love--" her gaze turns, forcing herself to face what's expected, to see the body of Josephine and the spirit of her family. Shaky, she shutters, her breath broken. "Be at peace, Knight of Eve, Weaver of Metal, Beloved by Stone. Your works, they shall you're your praises this night. Rejoice in the warmth of the Queen and your daughter. Farewell, friend. I shall carry you with my own family."
Colette looks around as the corpses fall around them. She looks a bit confused for a moment before she looks to where the ritual was happening. Looking on as people mourn their friend. She walks over to Ian quietly and dips the scarf in to a puddle, then squats down to help the man assess the damage and see if she can offer any assistance.
Josephine has died.
Lucita's voice cracks, is raspy before it is over, fading to a strained whisper as the singing ceases. Her amber gaze shimmers moistly, lashes wet with tears as she shakes her head in tiny movements while the ghostly images fade. Moving slowly, as if every part of her aches, she moves in uneven, shaky steps to check on those who are wounded, a gentle hand resting on the shoulder of those she passes in a shared grief, and a touch offering comfort. She rasps "Jo... oh no, Jo..." to herself.
Ian's hands are dark with blood, and he gratefully takes his scarf back from Colette, his mouth forming the words of thanks, even if no sound comes out. He does his best to staunch the bleeding.
Domonico pulls the helm from his head, grimacing from the pain of the injuries as he witnesses the return of Josephine to the Queen of Endings. He does not weep but merely nods his head once to the apparitions in respect before he steps forward to stand sentinel over those on their knees in sorrow.
Teeth barred and eye held tightly shut, Cassandra is knelt over Josephine's body, looking rigid as stone. "I did not...talk to you as much as I should. We dreamed of bringing the Guild back to the Faith. We spoke fondly of it. And then...life." Meaning she got busy, never enough time. She clutches the prayer beads made by her. "I was not the Legate of Arts I should've been for you. I am sorry." Cassandra Laurent is not one for breaking down sobbing, that is not her way. But that doesn't mean there are not tears in her eyes. "Your work will be remembered. You will be remembered." Her head sags. "Be at peace, my friend."
As his expressions changes from troubled to suppressed, Amund pulls at his coif, obscuring his face further with the scarf. His eyes are obscured from sight as he moves towards the jeweler's body, reaching for her hand and grabbing it tightly. He mutters a few words to the jeweler as he rises to his feet, another loud exhale. "Let's leave this place. I like it even less than before."
Amund mutters, "Thank you for ... in me and giving Ophelia the means ... Moonlight. I have a debt to you ... yours I ... ever repay."
Colette doesn't say anything, she just nods at Ian, her face blank and expressionless. The lady helps the man apply pressure as best she can, she is no medic.
Ailith removes a coin from her pouch, kisses it, and places it upon the hands of Josephine. "We will need to bring her with us. I know she'd like to have her body lain next to her daughter's or returned to her home with her family."
It takes a long time for Sina to recover her composure. But eventually, she does. It's just the strain of it all, you see. She rises to her feet, and murmurs softly, "I will cherish your memory, Josephine Arcuri. We will hold a memorial in your honor, and ensure that there is a place for you always in our memories. The school that I am planning for the Lower Buroughs will be named, the Josephine Arcuri School of Trades and Theology." She bows her head to Josephine's memory. "And thank you for the beads," she whispers, fingering the beaded bracelet on her wrist.
"Ian," Dianna murmurs through her helm, pulling it from her head. "Ian, you're not well." Yes, sometimes, the obvious must be spoken - just like Ian does. Dianna stands, steps to her friend, kneels again. Peers at him. "We need a medic." Again, the obvious - spoken with quiet resolve, but it is clear there is a deep concern.
Hollow-eyed, Fairen drifts slowly over to where Josephine lies peacefully. Face and neck swollen, he rubs at the stings and bites without realizing it. The appearance of the two ghostly figures register, just as the three lights do before they vanish. The Marquis nods at Amund, "This is an awful place."
Taking a shuddering breath, Cassandra regains her composure befitting of the knight that she is. "I will carry her." Kneeling down, she gently picks up Josephine's body, cradling it like it is a holy relic.
Ashur takes a deep breath and places his hat back upon his head, slinging the bow back over his shoulder, and looking at the body of the brave woman who gave her life to defeat this ancient evil.
|As the last of the golden light fades, as the sense of conflict vanishes and they are left in the aftermath, the air is still, the rain a mere misty patter, the air warmer. The sun comes out from behind the clouds, a single beam of light shines on Josephine's body before a cloud slowly drifts across the sky, casting a peaceful shadow across her face. The walls glimmer, the natural crystals winking and twinkling as if in farewell to the unparalleled artist that listened to them and told their stories.
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