Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

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Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-01 07:35pm

I wasn't planning to start this yet, but I have as a gift to Sir Nitram and Lady Tevar.


"My queen," said the knight as he hurried to keep up with his ward, who was moving through the halls with a most unseemly haste, "your lord husband does not approve of this endeavour." Neither did he, but that wouldn't carry any weight with the queen. She thought he was a naive boy who happened to be good with a sword. The prettiest of the queen's ladies, Sianta, glared at him.

"I am familiar with the king's opinion on this subject," she said. "He has neither approved nor forbidden it and so the choice remains with me. That choice has been made." She looked over at the Sir Ralsen, her bodyguard, a fresh faced, blond young man of nineteen and one of the best fighters in the land. He had won two tourneys and placed well in three others and had killed five men in the course of his duties. He was also kind and courteous, a model southern knight.

"Of course your majesty," said Ralsen. The queen had half a dozen years on him and was a northerner, two traits which sometimes combined to make her seem to possess otherworldly wisdom. She was undeniably beautiful as well, with pale skin, perfect features, a slim body and long dark hair. It was rumored that the king had simply picked the prettiest young noble woman available to be his new queen, although the political advantages of tying the north more closely to the south added an additional dimension to the marriage.

Two guards opened the heavy oak doors ahead of them and then closed themed after they entered the chambers. A boyish young woman with short cut dark hair was standing in front of them. She wore plain tunic and trousers. "Your majesty," she said and bowed. Behind her was an elderly man standing just inside a circle of blue white light that glowed softly on the floor. Runic symbols crawled along the interior of the circle and ghostly geometric shapes slid into complex alignments at the center of the circle.

The elderly man was bald and possessed a thick white beard. He wore a robe of white samite and clutched a staff of smooth white wood which was typed by a stylized flower design with a blue crystal at it's heart. Before him floated three thin copper plates marked by a curved and flowing script. The master wizard was chanting softly.

"Your majesty," the apprentice continued, "my master has begun the spell. No one must cross the circle until he has finished. The consequences will be most dire."

"That is understood Miranna," said the queen. "I would have been here earlier, but matters of state delayed me."

"If you had wished us to wait for your arrival-"

"No," said the queen. "It must be done while it still can be done. Before any more fools pour more poison in my husband's ears." Ralsen looked aghast at his queen before composing her features. Sianta and Laeses both smiled. They were northerners and had come south with the queen and her wizard. Southern piety and suspicions were . . . quaint to them.

The door opened behind them and a powerfully built man in his early twenties entered. His skin was tanned and his blond hair and long mustache were lighter than that of Sir Ralsten's. Three men of about his age trailed in behind them. His entourage were well dressed, obviously wealthy, and all carried swords. The prince himself wore the golden lion of his house on a black tunic and rested his hand on the jewelled hilt of his sword. "So this is where the excitement is," he drawled.

He stepped forward. "Your highness," began Miranna, "you musn't-"

He slapped her, the sound echoing throughout the room. She fell. "Commoners never say that word to princes," he drawled. He gazed with lustful contempt at his stepmother.

"Do not cross the circle unless you wish to burn," said the queen. "She was trying to protect you. You made your opinions of this undertaking perfectly clear. Why are you here?"

"To see this folly in action," he replied. He nudged Miranna with his boot, pushing her down as she tried to get up. "Stay down bitch," he said casually. He addressed his stepmother again. "So if I kick her across the circle, she'll catch on fire? I believe burning is the traditional way of disposing of witches." His entourage laughed. The wizard's voice rose higher.

"She'll burn, but so might the rest of us," said the queen. "I would prefer not to. If you want to sacrifice your life to burn a commoner, go ahead."

"A pity," said the prince. "There's always the traditional way. Stake, bonfire, all that."

"She has committed no crime."

"She is a witch," said the prince. The wizard's voice reached a crescendo. The light grew brighter and brighter, becoming unbearable to look at. Hands were raised to shield eyes and heads were turned away. Then the light was gone and there was the sound of the copper tablets hitting the floor of the ritual room.

The queen opened her eyes. A figure lay sprawled in the center of the now vanished circle. He placed the butt of his staff on the floor and pulled himself up. The black silk hood fell back revealing a handsome, but alien face. His skin was pure black and smooth and the bones of his face formed sharp, alien angles. Ruby eyes that were the wrong shape and size to be human surveyed the room in front of him. His hair was pure white and his ears were pointed. He was clearly one of The People, but of no variety the queen had ever seen.

He stood up. He was shorter than average, with a slim, athletic build. He wore robe of dark leather over a black breeches and a shirt of of violet silk. Bracers of black metal, one set with star rubies and the other with star sapphires, covered his lower arms. A sword hung from his belt and his staff was smooth white bone, slim and sinister with a huge jewel piercing it near the top that glowed the colour of fresh blood. His left hand bore rings of black metal set with diamonds. The right had bronze rings set with brilliant gems.

He spoke in a voice used to being obeyed, in an accented and strange dialect of the People's tongue. "Who dares to summon and bind me?" he asked.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Enigma » 2008-10-01 07:54pm

Whoohoo! Nalifan is back! :) Can't wait for more. :) That and more Transformers.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-01 11:52pm

Varnar Gest straightened as he faced the elven wizard. "I am Varnar Gest, wizard to the court of King Elois of Vanyard. I bind you to serve and defend the nation of Vanyard for a year and a day, to protect and serve its monarch, and to destroy its enemies, and then return from whence you came in peace and forever bound against retaliation and retribution."

Nalifan gazed coolly at him. "You speak the Language of the People like a faerie," said Nalifan. "Do you have any idea what you've done, fool?" He took a step forward.

Gest did not flinch. "You are summoned and bound sir, no matter how much you dislike it. You cannot harm me."

Nalifan's gaze flickered over the other wizard and then to the copper sheets lying at his feet. He flicked a finger and they floated up off the floor. "So this is how you managed to bind me. If Corellon wills it, so be it." His voice contained acceptance, not resignation. His gaze shifted over the humans standing at the edge of the room.

"This is the result of your mighty spell?" snickered Prince Sargard. "You conjured an elf? Don't you have enough of them in the north? He's going to save the kingdom?" He laughed. "Good thing my father is putting his faith in steel."

"Very well," said Nalifan. "Why don't you explain your problem so I can solve it. Don't forget the part where you get your hands on exotic faerie magic." He sent the copper plates crashing to the ground. The ladies in waiting and the rakes started at the sound. "Also I'll need a servant who can speak Elvish and your local jabber until I become fluent in it."

"I remind you you are bound," said Varnar Gest.

"I noticed," said Nalifan. "The binding does not compel me to solve your problem in the manner you wish or to act the part of a courtier. Now are you going to get me a servant or am I going to kill one of those doubtlessly important nobles over there in a cruel and horrific manner to prove that I'm serious?"

"You can't."

"That I have adequate support makes solving your problem easier. Therefore killing one of them now to ensure that I get that support. No problem with the binding."

"The king-"

"You are not the king and I can't understand him even if he was here," said Nalifan. "You see how this works?"

The one of the women spoke. She was clearly one of the more important people in the room and quite beautiful, by human standards. Nalifan was inclined to agree with those standards. "Stay your hand," she said. She addressed Gest. "It seems we have the tiger by the tail with this one." Her accent was thick, but her speech was comprehensible.

"You have no idea," said Nalifan.

"Your apprentice," said the woman. "She might serve." She turned to Nalifan. "I want your word you will not abuse her, physically, magically, or sexually."

"Ah, now we've gotten to the stage of people asking nicely," said Nalifan with a smile. "I don't abuse my servants, even if they are someone else's apprentice on loan. Who are you?"

"Queen Alyssia of Vanyard."

"Why don't you tell me why I am here?"

"The kingdom is threatened by the Khaduli Hordes. It is autumn now, too late in the year for campaigning, but come spring they will be upon us."

"These Khaduli, what are they? Humans, orcs, half demons?"

"They are men, although they might as well be demons from their ferocity and cruelty."

The leader of the rakes stepped forward and said something in the jibberish that passed as the local language. The substance of his words was unintelligible, but his tone was unmistakable. "Who is this fool and who will miss him if I kill him?" asked Nalifan.

"Crown Prince Sargard, my stepson," said Alyssia. "I'm certain his father the king will miss him. He's . . . unimpressed with you."

"I'm sure he is. I'll try and make sure that his father stays in good health. I have a number of requirements so I can begin properly."

"I'm sure Miranna can help you with anything you need. We'll get chambers and such assigned to you. I'll leave the appropriate orders with the seneschal."

"They're quite extensive," said Nalifan, "but why don't we address the most important one first. There's a list of very expensive materials and the requirement of some work space that needs to be filled within the next eight hours or the Khaduli Horde is going to be the least of your problems."

"Oh?" she asked. "And why is that?"

"Because if I don't hide my location, my soon be extremely pissed off wife will find us and she'll bring all of our friends on a nation wrecking excursion that will start and end here. As appealing as that is, I'm bound to stop that and I really don't want to fight my friends or my wife. And, of course, you'll all die horribly so why don't we see about my list?"
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby D.Turtle » 2008-10-02 04:07am

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it, seems to fit the bill here. ;)

It's always great to see another Nalifan story.

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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby dragon » 2008-10-02 09:25am

Someone is in for a bad time :twisted:
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Enigma » 2008-10-02 05:35pm

Hold on. Nal is married? I thought it was Trizkel.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby The Nomad » 2008-10-03 12:28pm

Elvarra and him apparently tied the knot in between stories.

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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-04 02:36pm

"Please follow me," said Gest. "My workroom most likely contains the reagents you require."

"Lead away," said Nalifan. The old wizard inclined his head to both the queen and the crown prince before walking out the door. The drow and his apprentice followed in his wake. "How did you get your hands on that magic?" Nalifan asked.

"It was given to me by the elves of the Thorn Wood. They are friends to the high houses of the Deradda and their people."

"Deradda was not the kingdom you named to be protected."

"We were conquered some one hundred and twenty years ago by Vanyard. Elaren the Conqueror died in battle and never had a chance to consolidate his rule. Rivan the Unready, his son, had a lot of trouble with his counts and died young. Some say he was poisoned. Vanyard's hold on us was tenuous so instead of Ikard the Iron Handed instead took the submission of our nobles and guaranteed our rights, playing region against region to solidify his control. We are two nations and one kingdom."

As he spoke the wizard lead them down a hall and up a narrow flight of stairs. He fished out a key and opened a door. Inside were a pair of table a lot of shelving. Jars containing odd creatures, loose folios, boxes, bags, crystals, bones, odd amulets, flasks of various liquids, and chunks of minerals filled those shelves. "Not as spacious or as complete as I might like, but it'll suffice if you have the materials I need," said Nalifan.

He went rooting around the shelves. Miranna gasped as he did so. Nalifan paid her no heed. "This will serve," he said as he put a jar on a table. "And so will this, once it's ground down," he said as he put a chunk of mineral on the table. "And this," he said adding a geode lined with purple crystals. He stopped at a jar containing a huge eye with a slit pupil. "Very nice," he said and then went passed it. He opened a box and two bags before finding what he wanted in the form of crushed leaves in another small jar. "This should do nicely."

"One does not help oneself to the contents of another wizard's workroom," said Gest coldly. "I agreed to provide you with the necessary materials. I did not give you permission to lay your hands on what is mine and mine alone."

"You enslaved me," said Nalifan, showing his teeth in a feral grimace. "Shall we discuss the proprieties involved with that my righteous and virtuous colleague?" As Gest gaped with his mouth open, Nalifan continued. "So don't bother with the indignation. We're well passed that stage and no, I'm not very tractable. Now about the faerie. How do they fit in?"

"Faerie?"

Nalifan rolled his eyes. "The elves."

"They have inhabited the Thorn Woods as long as man has had history."

"That's not really that impressive," said Nalifan. "Continue."

"They shared taught us much lore and magic, sharing their skills and artistry with those who became their friends."

"Including those wonderful copper plates," said Nalifan. "How many of them are there? How many arch-mages among them?"

"I don't know their numbers," said Gest. "They are not a numerous folk. Perhaps a thousand, maybe less. They have wizards amongst their number, but I could not say how powerful they are."

"They gave you this though," said Nalifan. "When?"

"A month ago. An envoy presented it to the Duke of Caldor, which is to say Her Majesty the Queen Alyssia's father who then sent it to her. The elves said it was an ancient treasure that they were giving us to defend the kingdom as part of our pact of friendship."

"Convenient," said Nalifan. "It also protects them too and they don't have to do any of the dying."

Gest's jaw went slack with shock. "Stop doing that," said Nalifan. "It makes you look like a hooked fish. I take it the king wasn't fond of this plan."

"The people of Vanyard trust neither magic nor elves," said Gest. "I am here only because I am part of Her Majesty's entourage."

"Wonderful," said Nalifan. "I'm sure the king will be overjoyed to turn over control of their army to me. Especially with crown prince idiot whispering poison in his ear. These Khaduli wouldn't happen to be grossly overrated by any chance?"

"They have proven to be unstoppable, cutting like a scythe through the southern kingdoms. Nothing and no one has stood against them. Including Irrida which fielded twice as many knights and men at arms as all of Vanyard."

"Sounds tough," said Nalifan. "I better get started." He made a home hither motion with his left hand. "Your lucky day, Miranna. You're going to continue to be instructed in magic as you help me prepare this spell. Language lessons will start now as well. What is 'work room' in your barbaric tongue?"
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-06 02:07pm

I've been asked about the character's levels in the various stories, so here's a rundown in 3.0/3.5 terms.

Since When Does Trouble Knock?
Near 20

Look What I Found Under A Rock? Low 20s

With Justice For None Low to Mid 20s

The Whirlwind Mid 20s

Marriage & Mayhem Mid 20s

The Face of My Enemy Mid 20s

Be Careful What You Wish For
High 20s
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-08 02:44am

The soft blue glow around Nalifan faded away. "That should do it for now. Let us hope that it suffices for the long term."

"If it doesn't?" Miranna asked.

"You'll all die in pain," said the drow. "Now if you could be so kind to repeat that sentence in Saltuth?"

She did. Nalifan copied her. "The accent-" she began.

"-is off," Nalifan finished. He repeated it, closer this time. Then a third, hitting the mark perfectly. "It's the ears. That's racial. The memory, that's specific to me and rather well developed in my case. Have you worked on mnemonic exercises?"

"Yes," she said.

"Good. We'll review them at some point in the future. Now, how do I get suitable quarters, reagents, and funding allocated to me?"

"The chamberlain I guess."

"Excellent. And would he take orders from the queen in this regard?"

"I guess so," she said. "I'm not really up on court politics."

"Let's go find the queen," he said, heading to the door. "You'll tell me what you do know as we hunt."

"As you wish."

"Good girl." He followed her down the stairs and back into the castle proper. It had not escaped his notice that the tower was effectively isolated from the rest of the castle. "Now, how much power does the queen have?"

"Um, well she's the queen," said Miranna as she lead him back into the halls. "She'll probably be in her solar."

"Which means what?" asked Nalifan. "What powers does she wield? Retainers? Soldiers? Money? Influence? Officials?"

"Well, mostly influence I guess. She brought down a whole entourage of us from the north, mostly her ladies though. And Master Gest, of course. This is the first time Vanyard has had a court wizard."

"Are you joking?"

"No," she replied. "Most Deraddan nobles have at least a minor wizard as one of their retainers, but the Vanyards can't abide wizards. They tend to think that the practice is evil or leads to evil. It's not officially prohibited, but between the mobs and the courts a charge of black magic can be deadly."

"How did they manage to conquer you?"

"The priests of the Three are strong and they had numbers on their side. My master says that there were few soldiers in history that could equal Elaren and there was no precedent for the size and power of the Warders."

"Who were these Warders?"

"Warrior-priests of the Three. There were nine of them."

"I'm going to need a religious briefing in the future. Are the Warders still around?"

"The roles are ceremonial now," she said. "They are," her words came out in a rush," fat old men. I can't say much about their ability to work miracles. The servants of the Three perform theurgy only during festivals and against the enemies of the faith. They say the power of the gods is not to be invoked lightly."

"I'm definitely going to need a religious briefing," said Nalifan, "but let's abandon the sidetrack for a moment. The queen doesn't have much power of her own, but she has influence over her husband and she did get a court wizard installed."

"It might have been part of the marriage contract," said Miranna. "And she has the Queensguard."

"Brave knights I imagine," said Nalifan. "How many of them and how much good are they in a fight?"

"Five, my lord," she said. "They serve until they are no longer physically capable of carrying out their duties."

"Which means until it's obvious they are incompetent. How many are in good shape?"

"Uhm, well, I guess-"

"Forget it. Are they all homosexuals?"

Miranna's eyes widened. "Don't say that. Not in Vanyard. In the north maybe-"

"Charming. We're speaking Elvish remember? Are they?"

"No, well, I don't know exactly. Why do you think that they are?"

"I know what lust looks like on a man's face. So it isn't common practice for the knights assigned to be the Queensguard to be uninterested in women."

"A man might challenge you to a death duel over such an accusation. Use of magic in a duel-"

"-is forbidden. I'm beginning to understand why this place is so absolutely fucked. For the perfect mix it's the height of valor to charge straight ahead at your enemy who is expected to allow you to ride him down or skewer him." Miranna's eyes went wide. "Mystra's bones, I was joking."

Miranna lead him to a chamber guarded by a middle aged man with a grey in his light brown hair and mustache. There was still plenty of muscle on his bones, but there was a lot of fat as well. He stared intently at Nalifan. "Sir Hobar," said Miranna. "We wish to speak with the queen."

"Is he an elf," Hobar asked.

"He is," said Miranna. "He has come to speak to the queen. She will see us."

He nodded and let them pass. Inside Alyssia was attended by a dozen women and Sir Ralsten. Light streamed into the room from ceiling length windows on three out of four walls. Half the ladies were weaving. All of them stopped and stared when Nalifan entered. "Your majesty," he said in Elvish. "I require a write with which to acquire quarters and resources from the chamberlain."

"The chamberlain answers to the king," she said, "not to me. He has the power to refuse my request."

"Then perhaps you should strongly convey the urgency and gravity of your request."

Alyssia stared at the drow for a long moment. "Kat, get me paper, ink, and my seal." A young woman inclined her head and dashed off. "You continue to be bold sir."

"You did not use your gift to bring forth a coward," said Nalifan. "No faint heart masters the higher magics."

She smiled. "There is truth in what you say. I can only hope your magic is equal to your hubris."

"If my magic equals my arrogance, then it is not hubris," said Nalifan.

Alyssia opened her mouth to reply, but Kat reappeared with her seal and portable writing desk. The queen took a moment to finish composing her thoughts and wrote a short message before affixing her seal. She passed the paper to Miranna. "Thank you," said Nalifan. "We will take our leave." He inclined his head and they departed.

"So, what is 'queen' is Saltuth?"

She told him. "And 'chamberlain'?" And so it went as they crossed the upper halls, finally ending up at a chamber with neither guard nor supplicants. Miranna knocked on the door.

"Enter," said a young man. Inside there were two desks, one at the back of the room and the other at the front. A young secretary, a boy of about eighteen, sat at the closer desk. A bald man with a grey beard sat at the other desk. He wore a robe of faded dark velvets and a golden chain. He examined a sheet of paper through a pair of spectacles. He looked up and started when he saw Nalifan.

"By the Three," he said as he removed his glasses, "is that an elf?"

"He is, my lord," Miranna replied. "He has been summoned to aid us at the queen's command. She has a letter for you." She passed over the paper. The chamberlain donned his spectacles and examined the letter. "If she so commands she so commands. We have several chambers suitable for noble guests. I suppose we can find two nearby and have the servants adjust them to your needs. As for funds, the queen is entitled to keep her guests in royal style if she so wishes and she has made that desire clear. The treasury can spare a stipend of a hundred orbs a month."

"What did he just say?" Nalifan asked.

"He's giving you rooms and enough money to buy expensive clothes," said Miranna. "He's nice about it, but that's as much money the queen is going to be able to shake loose."

"I'm supposed to stop an invincible army on a fop's clothing budget?" Nalifan said acidly. "He could give a duergar copper pinching lessons. Is it at least enough to keep a mistress in appropriate style?"

She blushed. "My lord, I'm not, I mean-"

"Never mind."

"I though elves weren't like that," she said. "You said you were married."

"Consorted actually," said Nalifan. "We aren't faerie, we don't act in the same way they do."

"What do you mean by 'faerie'?" she asked. "Is that some cultural difference between your people and other elves."

"Sort of. There are the faerie and there are the dhaerow."

Her eyes went wide and she stepped back from him. "Yes, my entire race, some time ago. Don't worry too much. I am self exiled and of a somewhat gentler than a typical member of my race. You say these Khaduli might as well be demons. We dhaerow know the fury of the Abyss. You'll have the best seats in the house when you see which of us best lives up to our reputation."
Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2008-10-21 01:03pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby LadyTevar » 2008-10-08 07:03pm

As always, my gold's on Nalifan ;)
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby White Haven » 2008-10-08 07:32pm

I can think of very few situations where betting against Nalifan killing people is a poor choice.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Vehrec » 2008-10-08 09:31pm

Him getting though this alive maybe. Not so much that he'll do the Good Thing and defend the whole kingdom with just a fop's laundry money.

I recommend slaying the three nearest dragons. Best way to get phat l00ts fast my good elf.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-15 02:12pm

A heavyset man, tall and broad shouldered, stepped into the queen's solar. His hair and beard were thick brown-blond, with a few grey hairs mixed in with the rest. He wore a cloth of gold Lion of Vanyard on his black velvet tunic and a heavy gold ring studded with rubies. The two men with him were younger and wore mail shirts under their tabbards and swords swung at their sides. Their eyes were hard. Alyssia looked up from her sowing. "Leave us," the king commanded.

Her ladies put down their knitting and their instruments and scurried out the door as quickly as the hems of their dresses and their dignity would allow. Sir Ralsen remained behind with his queen. One of the Kingsguard stepped outside the door and closed it behind him. "Your majesty," said Alyssia, bowing slightly.

"So you embarked on that folly," growled Elois. "I thought I made my feelings clear."

"You did, your majesty. You also did not forbid it."

"Are we to play word games your majesty?!" he shouted. "With me?!"

"No, your majesty," she said quietly. "I know you have little faith in magic, but I ask you, how small of a chance is too small to try? None have withstood the Khaduli. If he can give us even the smallest chance-"

"Be silent!" he shouted. "By the Three woman I should have you bricked up in a tower! This is not the first time you've disappointed me. Consider yourself fortunate that I am a kinder man than my father."

"Yes, your majesty," she said meekly.

"You have gone against my wishes and I am not pleased," he continued, "not at all. If you try to circumvent my decisions again, there will be more than words between us. Count on it."

"Yes, your majesty."

"Still, you are a woman and these are dark times. I will forgive your trespass this once. Do not do so again."

"And Nalifan?"

"Who?"

"The mage I had summoned?"

"What is done is done. I have no intention of opening myself up to this charlatan, but he shall be permitted to stay at court and demonstrate whatever prowess he claims to possess for as long as he makes himself useful. I will not tolerate the appearance of dissension between us. As far as everyone is concerned, the kingdom is of one mind and that is the king's."

"Very well, your majesty."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nalifan watched the servants clean out the rooms and carry the unneeded furniture out of what was to be his workroom while carrying in tables and shelving. He yawned. "Are you tired?" Miranna asked.

"Bored," he replied. He walked across the room and looked out the window. The royal palace, whatever it was called, was a sprawling complex that sat on the hill above city, name also unknown. A river flowed through the middle of the city, name also unknown. The bright sunlight was unpleasant. He looked away.

A page entered the room, a boy of about fourteen. "My lord," he said, "you are commanded to attend upon the king and queen at dinner tonight."

Nalifan received the translation from Miranna and dismissed the page with a wave of his hand. "So a formal dinner. I'll need you at hand, even if they don't seat you."

She nodded in acknowledgment. "Have you ever been to one of these things before?"

"Yes," she said, "but I was seated very far away from the important people. I'm afraid-"

"Yes yes," said Nalifan, "I understand. Do you know the city?"

"Vinmark? No, I don't."

"That's your assignment for the rest of the afternoon. Find me someone who does and who can be made to play guide. I'll be doing the elvish equivalent of napping until dinner."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There were about three hundred people in the dining hall, scattered over nine long tables. Nalifan sat at the queen's left hand as her guest. A place had been reserved for Miranna beside him and on the other side of the apprentice was her master. Nobles and high officials, the latter distinguishable by formal chains and medallions of office, occupied the rest of the seats at the high table.

Dinner consisted of several courses, with finger food meat pastries being first, followed by a salad, and then several different roasted meats and prepared root vegetables. Beer and wine were available in generous amounts. Nalifan ate little, consuming his food slowly while focusing on the conversations going on around him. His stunted vocabulary prevented him from making much sense of what was being said around him, but there were pieces of conversation that were intelligible.

There was laughter directed at him from several nobles attending the crown prince. The jokes carried on further down the table. Mocking the foreign barbarian was always a popular joke. Let them enjoy it while they could. Of greater interest was the dark haired girl/woman in her late teens that had a high place of honor near the king. She wore a plain dark gown and her skin was tanned. She was devoid of jewelry, with the exception of a single gold hoop in her right ear. Her exposed forearms displayed both muscle and scars.

Every other woman at the high tables clearly avoided the sun whenever possible and wore elaborate and colourful costumes and numerous articles of jewelry, often with gemstones woven into the fabric. The girl's dark eyes caught and held his. She smiled. "Who is she?" Nalifan asked.

"Darmira, the king's daughter," replied Miranna.

"Does she fight?"

"My lord, that question-"

"-is not proper. Answer."

"I have only heard rumors. They say she behaves scandalously, that she trains with swords and wears men's clothes."

"Terrible," said Nalifan dryly. He smiled back at the princess. "Know anything else about her?"

"No, other than her ladies are said to be like minded and that she hasn't engaged in, in ah, inappropriate contact with men."

"That translate to the precious commodity of her virginity is intact, or at least as intact as can be expected from a woman who does a lot of riding?"

Miranna blushed. "Yes lord."

"And daddy permits this why?"

"I don't know."

"How does she figure in the succession?"

"Uh, after any male children."

"Which is who else besides Prince Moron?"

"Um, no one."

"Interesting." The conversation in the local area had dropped off. A blond noble, about thirty, was talking angrily. His furious blue eyes were staring at Nalifan. "He's talking about me, isn't he?"

"Yes," said Miranna. "He's saying that magic is nothing compared to the power of the Three and cold steel. That you're presence is an offense against the gods."

Nalifan raised his left hand, splayed his fingers, and hooked his index and middle fingers while intoning a pair of words. The noble's words died mid-tirade. His eyes bulged and his hands went to his throat.

"Tell him," said Nalifan, "if he thinks so highly of his faith and so little of my magic, then this parlor trick shouldn't bother him at all." The noble had fallen over backward and his mouth was making motions like a landed fish's.

"My lord, I-"

"Do it now," he said, iron in his voice. The table had gone quiet. She translated his words. The king spoke briefly. Nalifan didn't need Miranna's services as a translator. He released the spell. "As you wish, your majesty," he managed with only a slight accent.

The noble got to his face, his tanned face flushed red. She shouted angrily. "My lord," said Miranna, "he's challenging you to a duel."

The king said something. "And his majesty says to inform you that black magic is not permitted in duels."

"Really?" said Nalifan. "That's a pity. Black magic is my forte. When and where should I kill this fool?"

"Now, in the courtyard." Her eyes were wide.

"Very well," said Nalifan. "Let's get this over with."
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Enigma » 2008-10-15 03:13pm

MORE NOW!!! :)
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-15 05:46pm

"Marcosa," said the tall man with light brown hair and beard.

"Yes, your grace?" said a short, slim man with dark brown hair and beard. The first man could have easily broken the second over his knee. Both wore dark blue tunics with a white manticore emblazoned on the front.

"How is your elvish?"

"As a spoken language poor, your grace, but good enough to tell that the girl is translating honestly." Both of their eyes were set on the circle being drawn in chalk in the courtyard.

"Why would he let himself get drawn out like this?"

"Without knowing the man, I can only speculate."

"Do so."

"He is not like any elf I have heard of before, so I could be very far off. Red eyes, black skin. Not dark brown, but black-"

"I'm not interested in your qualifiers."

"Yes my liege. He may not have expected to fight a duel over this. He might not have expected to be forbidden from using sorcery in the duel."

"He's not a man, but he seems rather collected for a someone who is about to fight for his life while crippled."

"Elves esteem the arts of swordplay, archery, and magic above all others," said Marcosa. "He might have very good reason not to be afraid."

"And I thought they sat on tree branches playing harps," said the duke.

"I'm told they do, but that is not all that they do."

"Good to remember. See if he is carrying any magics," commanded Duke Ericorn.

Marcosa made a pass with his hand. He frowned. "None at all, your grace. That should not be right, unless, unless he's shrouded himself."

"You told me you were the second best magician in the kingdom."

"In the south," corrected Marcosa. "Your grace. And that was before Gest came down with the queen. If he is as powerful as the queen hopes, he should be able to shield himself from me."

"Hmm. I think I want to know more about this elf, supposing he doesn't die in the next few minutes. And clearly I need to know more about elves, especially his variety."

"That would be wise," said a rotund man in simple robes. He wore a shaggy beard and his hair long and tangled, but clean. "One cannot expect a being that is not a man to act like a man. If he is truly to be our salvation, then a wrong step with him could be our destruction."

"That is true good father," said Duke Ericorn. "What do you think, my son?"

A younger, cleanshaven version of the older man spoke from off to his father's left. "The Khaduli matter. Everything else is a distant second."

"Well said," replied the duke with a smile. His gaze remained locked on Nalifan. The arch-necromancer wore a bronze gauntlet studded with brilliant gems on his right hand and a gauntlet of blackened mithril set with diamonds on his left. The duke's brow furrowed. When had he donned those?

Nalifan drew his cursed sword from its sheath. The fool who had challenged him bore no magic, although the sword he wielded appeared to be a fine blade if the gold and jewels in the hilt didn't throw off the balance. A man in white samite shot through with gold thread who most definitely didn't miss any meals was droning on and on. "When can I kill this fool?" Nalifan asked.

"The priest is almost finished," she said.

"And what's 'when can I kill this fool' in your tongue?" She blushed but repeated it softly.

"He's done," said Miranna. "You enter the circle now and fight until one of you is dead or yields."

"Good," said the drow. The circle was about six yards in radius. Nalifan jumped lightly into the circle. The noble raised his blade and saluted with a smile. Nalifan realized he didn't even know the fool's name. The drow lunged at his face, closing the distance between them with blinding speed.

Nalifan had experience with dozens of human cultures and certain universal patterns were discernable to him. Aristocrats of whatever their background preferred to look good and unless their culture glorified them, were uninterested in acquiring facial scars. Thus, unless they had relatively easy access to healing magic, most of their instructors tended not to strike at their students faces in order to avoid disfiguring their clients and loosing their meal tickets.

The noble parried, just in time. They went almost corps a corps, almost touching. Nalifan sprung back. His superior strength was not an advantage he wanted to reveal at this time. Provoking this duel had been risky enough without him giving away more of his secrets.

The noble came at him, confident in his superior strength, reach, and mass. Yes, thought Nalifan, come forward and crush the delicate weakling who is confined to the circle and can't run away. An overhand blow came down at Nalifan.

Nalifan moved at two-thirds speed and slapped the sword away with his arm. Spellbreaker rang as it contacted the blade. The noble was wide open and moving at the speed of molasses on a winter's day. Nalifan ran him through the right lung, the blade coming out through his back with the sound of sizzling bacon. Smoke rose from the cooking flesh as Nalifan raised his foot and kicked the dying man off his blade in a spray of blood.

"Congratulations Marcosa," said Duke Ericorn, "you appear to have been correct. He is good with a sword and does have the skill to hide his magic. Find everything you can out about him and the magic that brought him here."

"That might be difficult, your grace."

"Whatever you need," said Duke Ericorn. "And do whatever you need to to keep him alive. My son is quite right. The Khaduli are our greatest concern."
Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2008-10-17 12:39pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Vehrec » 2008-10-15 10:51pm

A very small part of me is mentally stacking Nalifan up against such famous mages as say Lina Inverse. But he'd probably overtop quite a few of them, wouldn't he?

The rest is just out to see how the story goes. And wondering how in the hell yelling MOAR actually worked.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Enigma » 2008-10-15 11:28pm

Vehrec wrote:A very small part of me is mentally stacking Nalifan up against such famous mages as say Lina Inverse. But he'd probably overtop quite a few of them, wouldn't he?

The rest is just out to see how the story goes. And wondering how in the hell yelling MOAR actually worked.

I surprised myself. I didn't think he'd actually post another chapter this soon. Maybe I should try it with his other fics. :)
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby haard » 2008-10-16 03:15am

Enigma has the power of the MOAR! Quickly, spam his other threads!

What sword is Nalifan carrying that makes cooked Fool?
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-16 12:28pm

haard wrote:Enigma has the power of the MOAR! Quickly, spam his other threads!

What sword is Nalifan carrying that makes cooked Fool?


Cooked human actually. Longsword +4, Human Bane.

And, being a feedback whore, I tend to respond to requests.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby haard » 2008-10-16 03:07pm

Imperial Overlord wrote:And, being a feedback whore, I tend to respond to requests.


Oh, in that case I will give feedback more often. I am a slave under your Star Wars and Forgotten Realms fics - and lately, WoD.

And feedback, typo-watch is a kind of feedback, no? I am not really sure about this one, English being my second language, but:
The duke's brow furled. When had he donned those.

To me, this begs a question mark.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Alan Bolte » 2008-10-17 10:29am

Imperial Overlord wrote:The duke's brow furled. When had he donned those?

A common mistake, but the word is furrowed, not furled. To furl is to roll up a flag or sail, to furrow is to make a trench in the dirt or wrinkle in the skin.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-17 01:18pm

Alan Bolte wrote:
Imperial Overlord wrote:The duke's brow furled. When had he donned those?

A common mistake, but the word is furrowed, not furled. To furl is to roll up a flag or sail, to furrow is to make a trench in the dirt or wrinkle in the skin.


I know the word. I'm prone to making substitution errors when writing quickly (I'm a horrible speller and inclined to spell phonetically) and they're a bitch to edit out because my brain autocorrects them when I read them over so I have difficulty picking them out.
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Vehrec » 2008-10-17 04:04pm

Yeah, I do that as well, both the autocorrecting and the quick-subs. As far as I know, the best way to catch those mistakes is to lock yourself in the bathroom and read it to yourself out loud. Yeah, you feel like a loon, but it works pretty well.r
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For (Nalifan)

Postby Imperial Overlord » 2008-10-17 04:07pm

Ten thousand campfires burned under the night sky. Tough, dark haired and dark eyed men and women sat around those fires, eating greasy cuts of meat and cracking open bones to suck out the marrow. They were stocky in build, but not short and they laughed and joked amongst each other. Stray bones were thrown to the dogs just lurking a the edges of the circles of firelight.

The men were all armed with long, serrated bladed knifes and straight bladed longswords suitable for slashing and stabbing a foe from horseback or on foot. The wore armour of plundered mail or small steel scales riveted onto leather. The women carried the serrated knives as well.

Amongst their numbers were different folk with lighter or darker hair, skin, and eyes. They were slaves, some of whom were the heirs to ten generations of slavery. Some of the male slaves wore weapons and armour like their masters, warrior-slaves who answered only to the man who owned them.

Calloused hands drank down plundered beer and wine or the fermented mare's milk of their own brewing. In a dozen fighting pits naked captives were pitted against starved dogs. The onlookers roared with pleasure as a weeping man brained a dog with a bloody human thighbone.

Around one particularly large fire gathered the chieftains of the Twelve Tribes. The youngest was twenty-five and the eldest was fifty-three. Each chieftain was attended by at least one-slave guard, a trusted adviser or promising child, and a wizard or a witch. They sucked soft meat off bones and spoke of the coming winter and the spring that would follow.

One man said nothing. He was broad shouldered, as his people often were, and of about average height. His hair and beard were dark and full and his face was unlined by scars. His bare, muscular arms were marked by innumerable cuts, each one marking a life ended before he had ceased to count. He quietly chewed on a rib, completely ignoring the rape of a blond girl, perhaps fourteen, that was occurring beside him as two of his slave-guards repeatedly forced themselves upon her.

He sucked the last meat off a human rib bone and tossed it into the fire. "You have missed little Krazad," he said, staring into the fire. "He was as weak and spiritless as the rest."

A huge man stepped into the circle of firelight. He was closer to eight than seven feet tall and wore a robe of flayed faces that had been tanned and sown together. "That may not be the way of things forever, King of Tribes," he said. He approached the fire, sitting down beside the king. His huge frame was so devoid of body fat that the word gaunt might apply, but it more closely resembled a cadaver with all the excess flesh excised. His face was painted white, with streaks descending from his eyes.

A slave girl offered him a platter. He pulled a rib bone from it and stripped the meat. "Great magic was done this day."

"What did you do?" asked the King of Tribes.

"The work was not mine. Up north a great working occurred." He paused to bite a mouthful of meat. "They brought a small number of beings from another world into this one. Perhaps just one."

"Their gods finally lending them aid? I would welcome a champion."

"No, the magic was not priestly." Krazad tossed the rib into the fire. "It does mean the northerners have at least one wizard worthy of the name. His soul would be stronger than that of these fat priests and inbred house kings." He gestured to a nearby campfire. There three witches, their faces tattooed with crimson tears, rotated the body of a grossly fat man on a spit. The roasted man mouthed silently screams with severed vocal cords as the witches chanted spells chaining his soul to his corpse. One witch inclined her head in response to Krazad's gesture. Knives flashed.

"They brought something through," continued the King of Tribes. "That might be a champion." The King of Tribes no longer took pleasure in eating, or drinking, or riding, or fucking, or the presence of his children. Only slaughter and the Feast of Souls stirred him. He was more than human and much less than a man.

"Yes," said Krazad.

"Good," he replied. A witch came over, bearing chunks of cooked flesh containing fragments of a doomed soul. The King of Tribes stripped most of the meat off with several messy bites and then sucked the remainder off. He cracked open the radius with his teeth. "The god hungers."
Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2009-12-08 08:00am, edited 2 times in total.
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