Team Tuesday

addendum

OMG, WE ARE SO UNDEAD.

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In the Midst of the Wraithwall

Threshold is eerily quiet.

Aside from the occasional caw of a jackadaw the opulent tent of Adalantle sits still in the gray light.

The slain body of The Pretender still cools in the midst of the silken pillows and finery befitting a temple to the Goddess of Love.

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laying the prince, Veknavarius, to rest
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

In many ways I still do not understand why it is the lord Ainu chose me to be his Harvester and not one who had served him alone in their first life. I am thankful he has though for in his honor I was able to righteously smite that vile necromancer and false prince, Veknavarius, in that cursed tent of Adalantle that long ago day in Threshold.

I was still traveling with my companions the Vector Perditia and the northman Buliwyf, as well as, and I am loathe to admit it, the necromancer Wilhelm Arkis. It was he, with his arcane methods, that had transported us there, through what seemed like time and space it self. I am sure Proheme was not pleased with such devilry! But it was effective and as Ainu desired.

What met us first was a wall of such sadness. Tortured souls bound and intertwined into a blanket of misery. With the light of Ainu emanating from his most favored of human innovations, the scythe, I was able to cut us a passage through that splenetic space. At the city walls Buliwyf, with the aid of a small axe, gave us entry to the city proper. By then the wizard had come up with a more effective, if less sanctimonious, method of plowing safe passage through the spectral fog that encompassed even the city inside. 

 Little met us inside the walls of Threshold, and again Ainu was to be praised, for he answered my prayers and used what little sway he still had over the vile undead to turn their eyes away from us. 

Inside a building I would later come to know as The Coin Perditia found two gnome birthlings wrapped in magicked swaddling clothes. I still do not if it was that they were abandoned or that they were to play some foul role in the prince's machinations. A look into their eyes assured me that what I felt in my heart, that we should save them at all costs, was indeed what Ainu willed. I am still forever grateful that it was Perditia and Buliwyf who wished the carry the younglings, for I do not know how I could have wielded my blade otherwise.

 Even before we entered the city I could sense two strong life forces inside the walls. Not the gnomes of course, but perhaps the prince and the one known as Vestangelus, the true root of our problems.  With the wizards magics we were again able to safely pass through that fiendish fog and come upon that cursed pink tent of Adalantle. From within emanated life! Perhaps a survivor? We were young in so many ways back then. I parted the flap with the tip of my scythe and was the first to see the visage of a young woman. Buliwyf recognized her instantly, crying out, Natalia! Finally his unexplained business with the fair church of Adalantle made some modicum of sense! 

But it was not to be, for Natalia's visage was just that, a facade. Her true form, as she deftly defied the righteous blow of my scythe, revealed! Veknavarius!

And a combat it was as he summoned forth poor Eleeti souls to ward off the wizard as he dealt with the Vecktor, northman, and I. It was to no avail though for we not only outnumbered him but had the wise Ainu on our side. I saw in the poor prince's eyes that it was his time, and though I personally slashed a great deal of the flesh from his face and opened a massive rift in his side, which the Vecktor would later use to pry out his entrails, the final blow, the last breath, would be taken by the mighty blade Ostead wielded by the northman Buliwyf!  

As is and was custom I then blessed the rendered corpse and laid the prince to rest beneath the earth. I know Ainu collected that squalid soul that day and escorted him to the lowest depths.

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the bell that tolls
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

Following the defeat of the false prince my companions and I found that we were no longer the only living souls in Threshold. Indeed, in what would turn out to be the Temple of Dimera, we saw the priestess Aya take flight with the survivors astride her pegasus. 

What followed was a great game of chase. The wizard Wilhelm, after dazing one of the viled hill giants with his necromantic magics, produced from his person a gnarled and wicked bell. It's relation to the wizard's school was as blatant as it was powerful, for after it's toll the undead that had huddled around the temple turned their attentions to the toller.

That freed the Vector, northman, and I to slay all those in our path as we tried to puzzle out the appropriate course of action. This tured out to be little more than stopping, for a moment, to watch as the wizard surrounded himself with a thicket of bones. Skeletal arms reached out from the bone to swat away the pathetic swarm of abominations.  

Languor, though, was not a luxury afforded us for as soon as the situation had been taken in and assessed the wizard for screaming at us to make haste our retreat. Though his bellows were meant to be shrill and commanding it was hard to rate him as such the powerful defiler of the dead as the surviving Eleeti stroked and proded his person. 

Soon enough the four of us were united again, though accompanied by those exceptional undead known as Eleeti, and the wizard teleported us as close to Darokin as his fickle magicks could muster. 

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in brevity, the fall of a comrade
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

A curious thing happened following our escape of Threshold. Curious in how those who have only lived one life understood the whole affair. Curious that in it the only one who truly grasped what had occured was the wretched Wilhelm Arkis.

As I had said before, the magicks of teleportion seemed to be a most fickle thing for our magician to muster. Or so he would have it said. I know that it was indeed the will of Ainu, at the request of Palthos.

You see, as it turns out the wizard had deposited us inside a crypt. The walls were lined with urns, urns the Eleeti insisted contained some article of vast importance. Unable to stop them in their endeavors I prayed to Ainu to forgive this transgression and that he did. As I spoke my prayers the northman Buliwfy began pawing and knocking for an escape. This he found and with our combined strengths, myself in my day being of enough strength to best most men, we were able to swivel open our escape. The Eleeti did not follow, insisting they would be most fine and that their searchings were of the gravest concern. Appropriate, I must say, as I secretly hoped they would be interned there forever. 

This then took us to a place I immediately recognized. We had come into the very catacombs where my companions and I would first meet a thousand or more years later. With a curiosity I had previously never felt about my surroundings, my dedication to my lord total, I allowed my eyes to wander in hopes of seeing myself at glorious, if not eternal, rest. Perhaps I over looked but I did not gain the chance to meet my recessed self that day.   

As we made our way towards the surface we felt a great rumbling beneath our feet.  If I knew then I have forgotten since what may have served as the catalyst to the catacombs collapse but I do know that with great speed we rushed towards the tiny beacon of Pelor that wished us to escape.

It was as we burst out onto the soft earth that I sensed only two beacons of light around me. They were the most familiar presences of the wizard and the northman. The presence of the Eleeti was also manifest to me. 

The Az Neul Fni's light was fading and gone well before the wizard and northman were able to reach her. The wizard understood, as I did, that this was an intrinsic part of the Vector's destiny. Though I can never be truly certain I believe the Eleeti, though I have cursed them, are the same ones I had met thousands of the years later in the Temple of Palthos in Freeport. Perditia's adoptive parents. 

The circle of life and undeath is a curious thing for those among Ainu's least favored. Buliwyf was greatly affected by the loss his companion. I can only imagine how compacted it must have been coupled with the boyish feelings he afforded her.  

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of the heroic Pall, breaker of dragon eggs!
From the oral histories of Gygar, seven generations removed...

And listen, younglings and those just now without tail, of how the great croaker Pall helped to slay the red dragon Pyre! It was when he was still in his third cycle, barely free of tail and still only just beginning his adventures with the kind and virtuous Egg Breaker Sepulveda!

There the mighty Pall stood, his black robes still then clean, his steel untested in combat! But he was without fear for the Egg Breaker had promised that they would not die that day and with the divine grace of the The Dryness that the humans call Ainu the Egg Breaker bestowed Pall with the strength of the mightiest horned toad!  

Do not look so skeptical young ones and do not look with fear! For the blessings of Ainu gave Pall the courage to charge at the dragon Pyre and to plunge his blade deep into its flesh!

CROOOAK!

It is true as the pond is wet and the sky is blue. The Egg Breaker charged astride his hoofed beast and swung his mighty hoe at the dragon  alongside the Kecktor Alzlaffnieu, the ice giant Bollviye and the half-orc dwarf Brunooruk!

Alongside these legendary warriors it was a Rhoode like us, the perfect Pall, who fought the most fearlessly that day! His blade repeatedly sinking into that beasts breast as day turned into night and day again!

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Darokin, preparing for its defense and the unworthy who I met there
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

This will be in brevity for it has been so long since I've allowed my thoughts to dwell on those dark days in Darokin.

What comes to mind first is the woman the Pretender disguised himself as in Threshold, Natalia. She was of a certain charm as I understand that certain charm to be, and it was obvious the hawkeye Rair was taken with her. She was confident and poised, but much like the Pretender, false. Her certainity that the first death was a result of love is as silly as it is naive. But I suppose that is how those in their first life think. Sometimes I wish I hadn't felt so aloof in the spryer days of my second life.

What follows Natalia, in my memories of the miserable, was the halfling vampire Quicksilver, who ensnared the mind of that weak willed Wilhelm. Were it not at the insistence of the halfling Chavelle I would have gladly done all to bring that atrocity to its knees so I could liberate its head from its breast.

But those two, like all others, had their part to play and though Ainu's hands on this earth, I am not his heart or mind and must follow through with his machinations. 

What comes to mind more readily is the companion I had in those days, the young Rhoode Pall, who had taken up death's vocation. Though he was a creature of curiosity and joy it touched me that he took his studies with a seriousness and dedication. On the first day of preparing for the seige I taught him the most practical of the magics Ainu blesses his followers with, the spell of digging. Together we used our magics to lay out a series of trenches around this town in order to better defend it. Rair, though weak towards the feminine charms, did a great deal with his magics to also ward off the evil that encrouched.

This registry is growing ever more taxing and I confess it may be some time until I am able to describe the despair of Darokin.  

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Heard within the Temple of Demera in Darokin, whispered by a giant of a man at the east wall

“I have wasted my life on many things, even when I have tried to live it as a man should. My family, my lands are far from here, All Father, yet I am ready as any to stand and fight and die, should my Skein by written as such. These people, these Southerners, these few that stand beside me, as strange as they are and sometimes, so frustratingly…different, are what I have now and the people we protect. They are what is valuable, even if I cannot seem to keep them all alive. My langniĆ°iar, my bloodline of kings and farmers are so far and mean so little now I will be buried as a pauper, as all I have now is my hands and my sword.

But I make no excuses nor will I beg any god or any man, Old Gallows God. I will stand as proud in these next days and brave, I promise you, as even so Tyr would be. All I ask, in those moments, now and to the end, is that I live and I fight well.

I come soon to the table, Olon and I will be thirsty.”

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of death and devotion; a diversion
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

I have on the general brought my recollections of Darokin to order, but still do not feel as though my faculties are of diligent enough measure to express them justly.

In recalling those days I was reminded of my masquerade as the Az Neul Fni. That escapade will be chronicled upon these pages soon, but what it meant to me then is the subject upon which I am to reflect, for it was following that faux-visage that I came to love and revere my lord Ainu in a wholly new light. 

In her service to Palthos my companion Perditia was also known as the Az Nuel Fni, the first Vector. Though I have never come into contact with any of the others I am aware of their existence and the great plagues they have wrought and the epidemics they have conquered. Wearing the hydra's scales I became aware, for the first time, that there are no other Harvesters. I am alone in this duty.

Respected by the clerics of death's many congregations, yes, but always alone. Where my brothers must shave their heads as part of their indoctrination I am allowed to let mine grow however long I wish. The scythe I carry is as much a weapon as it is my symbol of office. Aside from my former companion I have never met another of my clergy who openly laughs and smiles. The mortal realm offers so many joyous things. Not even lord Ainu is as dour as old Xanatos! 

I've lived now what in my first life I would have considered the fullest extent of mortal breath. I have knocked on many a door to collect the soul's lord Ainu wishes. Though I know they will go on to the highest honors, as gardeners, stable men, and brewers, I am always saddened by the lack of understanding those left behind express. It is why I do not join the clergy. 

"Brother Lucian," Brother Isthmus of Ibion said to me, "you have grown gray at the temples. Does it not strike you as the time to settle and serve Ainu in the most proper sense?" No, I said. As much as I am fueled by my convictions, my dedication absolute, I think it would tear at my heart to watch entire generations come and pass. Rare is it as a Harvester that I know at all the souls I collect. Yes, some, of course, like dear Buliwfy and blessed Pall, but those are the great exceptions for I knew of the tremendous laurels the greatest of the gods had awaiting them.  

No, I could never settle down. Veloria would never let me. We've spanned to much of this world's history together now to stop our travels. The hand of death is universal, even in these peaceful times. 

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tithings and delays
from the register of Lucian Sepulveda

On account of Isebe being the recipient of Palthos' latest pandemic I have found my employment in great need. This should suffice as to why I have been tardy in my recitations. 

With this free moment I would like to note the grand morning my companions and I began our flanking of The Pretender and his forces. Truly the day that Veknavarius must have realized great powers were conspiring against him and that his victory was far from certain. Powers greater than giants of bone armed with boulders and morning stars. Greater than his hordes of the pathetic and decaying. 

Pelor was late in the heavens as the wizard, Buliwyf, and I looked out over the Prince's armies. We had endured a great deal that day. Blows that would have sent lesser men to my lord Ainu were dealt onto us, but for naught, for as we gazed down on those wretched marchers I could feel Ainu blessing me with even more of his divine grace. I felt his powers re-invigerating the body he had granted me to use upon these mortal planes. In epiphany new prayers were made manifest and convictions, never in doubt, redoubled! 

I let out a laugh that afternoon and took rest.

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