The Land of the Falling Wall ("The Dying Earth")

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The Land of the Falling Wall ("The Dying Earth")

Post by Imperial Overlord » 2005-10-03 01:50am

This is a story set in Jack Vance's "The Dying Earth" universe.


During Earth's last days one could find many strange and terrible things in the haunted forests of Ascolais. In the foremost city of the region, white walled Kaiin, many of its citizens were feasting and being merry in the palace of Prince Kandive the Golden. As the last ruby rays of the setting son struck the palace, servants lit brilliant orange lanterns for the benefit of the continuing revelries.

Inside the palace, the wealthy and powerful of Kaiin along with notable guests, fashionable personages, and consorts of the afformentioned, maneuvered around the ballroom like strutting peacocks. Tables laidened with delicacies lined the hall as the great and beautiful of Kaiin drank and were merry.

Among their number was a vigorous, strong featured man of middling years. His face was clean shaven and his dark hair was pulled back. He wore a shirt of crimson silk under a dark jacket and tucked into black trousers. His name was Marendon, sometimes called Marendon the Impoverished (but never to his face).

Marendon had just succeeded in evading the attentions of a triple chinned dowager in a gown of bilious yellow silk suitable for use by a travelling circus as a tent and was currently trying to attract the favorable opinion of one Lady Estelienne. The good lady, considered one of the greatest beauties and sharpest wits in the city, was bedecked in a gown of sable Naa feathers and was currently retreating from the recitations of a poet with great, and obviously false, mustaches.

Marendon seized the opportunity that presented itself. Sweeping forward, he rushed to Lady Estelienne's side. "My lady, I do believe we once held a conversation regarding the greater spotted erb? Providencially, one can be found caged in the garden, near the deodand pit. Would you care to see one for yourself?"

Her eyelids fluttered. "Of course. How thoughtful of you to remember after all this time." She extended her arm and he took it. "If you would please lead away. You will, of course, excuse me good sir?" They slipped away as the poet was still attempting to sputter a response.

"You have my grattitude, sir. I fear every self-imagined gallant and grandee seems intent on pouncing on me."

"It is my pleasure, of course. I must confess that my intentions are not entirely selfless. The quality of your discourse is well known and I must confess to possessing a desire to engage you in conversation." He lead her toward a secluded balcony. She was content to follow.

The half ruined city sprawled before them as the feeble sun sunk below the horizon. "I must confess," she said, "to being ignorant of your identity as well as being grateful for your intervention."

"I am a magician, Marendon by name."

"Ahh, I have heard your name mentioned, although that you were of fair aspect seems to have been omitted. You studied under Azvan the Astronomer, did you not?"

"Yes, he was kind enough to take me on as an apprentice." Out of the corner of his eye he saw a man in orange and black livery approach. "Lately, I have been in the service of Prince Kandive the Golden."

The servant approached. "You are Marendon, called the Impoverished?"

The magician resisted the impulse to grind his teeth and unleash sorcery upon the villian. "I am Marendon the Magician," he stated with wounded dignity.

"Prince Kandive desires your presence."

Marendon turned back to Lady Estelienne. "It appears I must depart. Please accept my apologies."

"Of course," she said with a gentle wave. "May the god Tresecoe guard your steps." With that Marendon followed the servant to the upper levels of the palace where he was at last lead into the presence of his patron, Kandive the Golden. The Prince of Kaiin was sitting near a window, drinking dark purple wine.

"My prince, you called upon me?"

"Indeed. I have a task for you Marendon."

Marendon studied the face of his golden-bearded prince. "Of course, my prince. That is the nature of our arrangement."

"Have you heard of Iucounu the Laughing Magician?" Upon Marendon's nod in the affirmative, the Prince of Kaiin continued. "My spies tell me he is said to possess magic from the Overworld, which no Earthly sorcery can withstand."

The bottom of Marendon's stomach seemed to turn to lead. "I have no doubt such claims are exaggerated and likely baseless."

"Possibly," said Kandive skeptically. "However, such is Iucounu's reputation among his neighbors and contemporaries, I desire counters to his supposedly potent otherworldly magic. Information concerning it has come to my attention regarding those who may possess such arcana."

"I see," said Marendon, with more than a little trepidation. One can dabble in the craft of magic without much risk, but to become a magician requires intellectual prowess and determination. Marendon was no coward, but this task appeared to be hazardous in the extreme. "Who, may I ask, possesses such potent spells?"

"Otherworldly magic is needed to counter otherwordly magic. Iucounu's grasping nature and the size of my collection are well known to many and the idea of losing my library to the Laughing Magician is repugnant in the extreme. Seize for me magic from the demon worlds from the necrophages of the Land of the Falling Wall."

Marendon paused for a moment. "This is no small task you set before me and the Law of Equivalences demands an suitable recompense for undertaking this arduous and perilous task."

Kandive the Golden nodded. "A thousand centums and copies of any ten librums in my library will be yours upon your return with the magic I desire."

"It shall be done," said Marendon who then bowed and departed from the room. He returned to the ball to reengage the attentions of Lady Estelienne, only to find her laugh and clutching the arm of Rhialto the Marvelous. Stymied by the arch-magician, Marendon returned to his rooms to brood over a bottle of wine.
Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2006-08-16 03:07am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2005-10-05 10:51pm

When Marendon awoke the next morning, he broke his fast with a meal of fresh honey cakes and spiced sausages washed down with tart juices. He rose and performed his toilette and made ready for his journey.

His rooms were modestly furnished with accutrements from Prince Kandive's palace that were no longer suitable for formal use. The erb pelt in the library had been acquired by him while fulfilling one of Kandive's directives and was the most valuable furshing that he truly owned. A modest shelf contained all of his books, most of them copies of librams and tomes found in Kandive's collection.

He pulled out a pair of grimoires and placed them on the stand before him. They would go into his haversack, along with a change of clothes, modest camping materials, and a small amount of food, when he began his journey. During past ages there had been over a thousand spells known to man, a hundred attributed to the Great Phandaal himself. Now, in these fallen times, only a hundred remained within the common lore of men. Of the One Hundred, Marendon possessed barely more than two dozen.

With great effort he encompassed the spells. To be able to encompass just one of these corrosive magics would require an ordinary man to spend many years in training and practice. By force of will and mastery of principles, Marendon was able to force The Excellent Prismatic Spray, Phandaal's Gyrator, The Charm of Brachial Fortitude, The Charm of Untiring Legs, and Felojun's Second Hypnotic Spell into his brain.

The magician then wrapped with grimoires in oilskin and inserted them into his pack. To them he added a change of clothes and some food that he had brought up from the kitchens. Lastly, he opened a locked drawer in his desk and drew forth the contents. It was a small mechanical owl, cunningly fashioned from bronze with great eyes of silver and brass.

He was garbed less splendidly than he had been the previous evening, with comfortable trousers tucked into sturdy boots, a plain shirt topped with black vest, and a broad brimmed hat and a warm cloak to complete his ensemble. Finishing his enemble was his sword belt and a purse full of terces. He tilted his hat at a jaunty angle and departed from the palace. He was unmolested as he travelled through the crumbling city of Kaiin, which was decodent, but not yet lawless. He passed through its walls and headed east, towards the Land of the Falling Wall.

Ascolais had once been rich and widely populated farmland, but over the generations the forest had encroached upon it and the region was now mostly abandoned. Still, the countryside was not devoid of habitation. Marendon uttered the Charm of Untiring Legs and set off on his journey, his limbs full of artificial vigor.

He made good time, running without tiring for several hours, and travelled through the Scaum River Valley, with it broad meadows of purple horse flowers and took refuge in an ancient manse run by a charming family of vintners. He entertained them through the night with a series of cantrips that shaped the fire into effegies of famous figures from the 20th Aeon and partook of an excellent repast complete with a bottle from their vineyards. In the morning he bade them farewell and continued on his journey.

He followed an ancient road of cracked and weathered flag stones through the countryside. He crossed meadows and glades as the day wore on, travelling under a dark blue sky, the feeble red sun shinning dully overhead. The great, gloomy trees of the forest cast long shadows as he passed fallen ruins, weathered and encrushed with moss and lichen.

A little past mid-day he arrived at a rustic village and purchased a meal of thick crusted bread, thin stew, and middling quality ale from a farmstead at a cost of a few terces. They informed him of a community farther up the road, Mannich by name, that would have facilities where could pass the night in comfort and safety. They cautioned him also against deodands and erbs, which were not unknown in the region. He thanked the rustics and continued on his way.

The road wound through the trees, with great shaft of crimson light slanting down from the sky. Marendon moved swiftly, but was attentive to his surroundings lest a deodand take him unaware or a gid pounce upon him with one of their famed twenty foot leaps. So it was that he spotted the group of four men ahead of him, but did not immediately think of them as a threat.

"Hail," he cried out, "can you gentlemen tell me how much further it is to Mannich?"

"Indeed," replied the leader, who possessed a handsomely embroidered vest and a gold broach set with several glinting rubies. "We are well aquanted with the town." The man and his friends approached. Their dress was simple, for the most part, but of good make. They wore swords on their belts and the sinister looking, blonde bearded man in the back was armed with a jezail as well.

"How many more miles?" asked Marendon.

"More than you will be travelling," replied the man as the blonde pointed his jezail at Marendon's chest. "Surrender your sword and your purse and well will allow you to retain your life."

Marendon considered his options, but he doubted he could utter the syllables of a spell faster than the bandit could pull the jezail's trigger. "I am undone," he admitted. He tossed his scabbarded sword at the leader's feet and fumbled with the strings attaching his purse to his belt.

The leader stepped forward, impatient to collect his prize. Marendon quickly sidestepped, interposing the leader's bulk between him and the firearm as he uttered the syllables of Felojun's Second Hypnotic Spell.

The bandits fell limp as the spell robbed their muscles of all power. Marendon retrieved his sword and purse, and then relieved them of theirs. He shattered the stock of the jezail against a tree and broke the blades and their swords, scattering the pieces in different directions. Rumoging through the bandits possessons, he found a stout length of rope and dragged them to a tree, where he bound them securely. The spell was just wearing off when he relieved the leader of his handsome broach and attached it to his hat.

"Now then," said Marendon, "your villany is overthrown. I am not without mercy and have not slain you while you lay helpless. I have deprived you of the tools with which you prey on honest travellers and will leave you to the fate that you intended for me. If you can free yourselves and get to shelter before some anthropophagous half-man finds you, your lives are yours. If not, then the Earth is not poorer for your absence." With that, he departed up the road for Mannich.

The village was not too much further down the road and he reached it before the sun touched the horizon. Weathered buildings of ancient stone were mixed stout dwellings of wooden planks that were of more recent construction. The people were pleasant featured and wary of him. A stout man did reluctantly direct him to an establishment where he could take refuge for the night.

The Inn of the Wandering Tree was a pleasant enough place, a three story wooden tavern and traveller's rest crouching under the limbs of a titanic oak. The proprietor was short and slim man, touched with the air of a weasel. "Greetings traveller," he said, eyes flicking to Marendon's hat. "How can my humble establishment serve you."

"A room for the night is a start," said Marendon. "What do you have to eat?"

"Roast fowl, spiced potatos, and braised green beans in a honey and mustard source."

"Excellent," replied Marendon. "A mug of beer as well."

"Of course traveller." The weasel faced man hesitated. "May I ask your name?"

"Marendon. Marendon the Magician."

"I shall endeavour to remember it," replied the proprietor. Marendon retired to a table and cracked open a grimoire while waiting for his meal to arrive. The local beer was slightly nutty in flavor and possessed repsectable force. He finished his mug, ordered another, and began the process of encompassing his spells.

He had succeeded in encompassing the pervulsions of the Charm of Untiring Legs when a stoutly built man with a ferocious looking beard approached his table. "Where did you acquire that?" he barked, indicating Marendon's hat ornament."

"I took it from bandits who atempted to rob me on the road."

"Really?" the man said. "It is the brooch of Irik Taveleque, son of the hedman of this town. He was overdue at his father's house and now has just return, claiming to have been robbed."

"That explains the glimses the townsfolk gave me. Be assured that I did not see any more of their victims and dealt with them harshly."

"That is pleasing to hear," said the stout man. "I will inform the Taveleques of your recovery of their property." Marendon was not pleased of the phrasing of that lest sentence, but let it pass without comment. His terces had purchased a meal that was now arriving. He put away his book and focused on his meal.

The attacked the fowl with vigor and found it very good indeed. More beer helped was down his meel and he was mostly done when an angry party entered the inn. The stout man was in the company of an older fellow of distinguished bearing and four very familiar youths.

The leader of the youths pointed straight at him. "There! That is the magician who set upon us with foul sorcery, robbed us, and left us for the deodands!"

"Liars!" roared back Marendon. "You are brigands who would hide behind the semblance of honest men."

The elder man spoke. "The lies of a stranger are as nothing to words of a respectable man of Mannich."

"The first man to step forward I will blast with magic," warned Marendon. His eyes darted for a route of escape. He grabbed his pack and sprang for a nearby window, the angry shouts of the villagers in pursuit as he rolled with less than perfect grace into the street.

A hue and cry went up. Marendon uttered the pervulsions of the Charm of Untiring Legs and sprinted with the outskirts of town. The villagers followed in pursuit, but were unable to maintain the pace. Marendon ran well into the evening, not daring to slow until the sun was almost beneath the horizon.
Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2006-08-16 04:08am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2005-10-08 12:57am

As the light faded, Marendon searched for a tree that was within his abilities to climb. Upon finding such a specimen the magician ascended into the upper branches and hung the hammock he carried in his pack between two suitable branches. Upon completion of that task he removed the mechanical owl and affixed the thaumaturgical device to a nearby branch to ward his sleep. Thusly defended against the terrors of the night, he retired to the hammock and slept.

Sometime latter he was enjoying a pleasant dream involving to lithesome women and the Dance of the Fourteen Silken Movements when he was jolted awake. "Attend!" commanded the owl in a shrill whisper. "Deodands are scaling the trunk. They will be upon you in moments!"

Marendon looked over the side of the hammock, peering through the dark. He could hear the skittering sound of the half-men's claws on bark. He could almost make out the location of one by the sound, but the deodand's coal black skin made it difficult to locate precisely in the dark. A twisted slightly to blast it when a hand closed upon his ankle and pulled.

He fell from the free, bruised and buffeted by multiple branches on the way down. Marendon fell gasping to the ground, trying to recover his breath as the deodands made their way down. The magician rose to his feet just as a deodand pounced.

The half-man was tall and lithe, with powerful muscles rippling under its black skin. It's eyes were slitted like a cat and ivory teeth gleamed in its mouth. The deodand gripped him about the arms, pinning him. It's voice was like the rustling of falling leaves. "Ahh, now my hunger will be sated."

Marendon uttered the syllables of the Charm of Brachial Fortitude and broke the deodand's grasp. The half-man was quick, but it was momentarily frozen with surprise. Marendon clapped his hands around the deodand's ears with great force. As the tall creature staggered, Marendon seized it, lifted it up, and broke the deodand's spine over his knee. The tossed the crippled creature aside, having spent much of the spell's potency in overcoming the anthroprophagite.

The second deodand leapt from the tree. Marendon uttered the pervulsions of the Excellent Prismatic Spray. Hundreds of darts of varicoloured fire struck the deodand from every direction. The deodand's leap became a fall and it sprawled on the ground, its body blasted open in countless places and its lifesblood gushing onto the ground.

Marendon shackily ascended the tree and reclaimed his belongings. The magician moved some small distance away and struck a small light, shielded by a canopy of trees. He laborously forced the pervulsions of the Excellent Prismatic Spray and Felojun's Second Hypnotic Spell into his brain before retiring to an uneasy rest.

He renewed the rest of his spells and ventured forth through the woods. His path took him through a meadow containg the faded ruins of the city of Aren-Tariel, which had fallen before the founding of the Grand Motholam. Now only lumps of earth and a few pieces of weathered stone remained. He tarried for a time, but found no treasures from the time spent gleaning, and went on about his way.

The sun was waning in the sky when he descended towards fields overgrown with weeds. Great houses of stone lied half broken and derelict, but light blazed in the windows of one of thes decrepit buildings. Marendon approached with a degree of caution.

The door of stout wood opened, revealing a girl of charming aspect wearing a simple black dress with a lantern in her hand. "Ho stranger," she said. "It is not wise to travel at night? Will you not take shelter in my father's house? I offer it in his name."

"I am pleased to accept," he said. He studied her features. She was pale and slender, with dark hair that fell about her shulders. Her lips were red and full, but her most striking features were her eyes. They were blue and lively, seeming to drink in everything before her.

He entered the manse and she shuttered the door behind and then triply locked it. "Please follow me," she said and lead him down the darkened halls marked with faded murals. She directed him to a large room with a roaring fire and a faded burgundy carpet. A withered man with a long beard was wrapped in thread-bare blankets by the fire.

"Father, we have a guest."

The man looked up. "So we do. Leave us, my daughter and prepare dinner for ourselves and our guest. Please be at ease stranger."

Marendon settled into a chair. "Thank you sir."

"You are a magician. No, do not deny it. You travel alone through the wilderness with a single magical adjunct and live. You must be a magician."

"I am," he admitted.

"Ahhh, so my mind has not yet become feeble. My daughter is a skillful cook and the fields yield game to supplement what she grows in her garden. The Grand Motholam may have fallen aeons ago, but the lands of Ascolais remain fruitful."

"You are generous," replied Marendon.

"Stranger, you have not given your name."

"I have been remiss. I am Marendon."

The old man nodded. "I am Zenurithas and my daughter is Liss." As if speaking her name was enough to force her appearance, Liss appeared with a bottle of wine and glasses. She poured for each of them and retreated.

Marendon examined the glass. The vintage was a dark yellow and bubbled languorously. It smell heady and tart. He took a sip. It was strong and sweet. Zenurithas watched him avidly as he drank.

"Ahh magician, I have you now. The excellent vintage you have partaken of is poisoned."

Marendon threw down the cup, eyes blazing. "You will not outlive me old man. You and your daughter will have ample reason to regret your treachery long before you die."

"Perhaps," said the old man. He coughed. "But there is a way in which none of us need die. Do me a service young magician and you will live and I will reward you for well upon its completion as well as provide you with the counter agent for the toxin which seeps through your veins."
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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2005-10-17 04:29am

"You are not beyond my power," Morendon said coldly. "There are fates I can inflict on you, ere I expire. Terrible deaths remain within my competence."

Zenurithas let out a wheeze of laughter. "Do you think death is the worst fate that I can imagine? No, you will serve me. You threats will not avail you."

"Your daughter can be made to suffer," replied Marendon. "Terrible indignities can be inflicted before merciful death claims her."

"Go ahead," replied the old man, "such will not sway. Perhaps if she was truly my daughter I might relent, but I merely call her that out of habit. She is not of my flesh, but born of a vat in my work room. Unfortunately, the service she can render to me is limited by my present condition. You have no leverage, sir magician. Now listen and obey so that we both might live. Otherwise, you will end my torment with death and perish yourself. The choice remains yours."

"State your requirments," answered Marendon with blazing eyes. Persuasion, threats, and force had not secured the advantage. Perhaps trickery would suffice. "I am eager to get this over with."

"Aha!" cried Zenurithas, rubbing his hands together, 'I knew you would see reason. "To the south, in Almery, dwells a magician by the name of Tranceed. He desired my secrets of distilling life in a vat and attempted to take them from be my force. Although he succeeded in overpowering me and pillaging my house, he has failed to penetrate the ingenous code in which I recorded my findings. So he inflicted this curse of old age and infirmity upon me in order to compell my obediance after cruder measures failed to force me to divulge my secrets."

"I take it you resist him still?"

"Yes and the sun will go dark before I aid him. Kill him and undo this curse and I will furnish you with the counter agent of this poison."

"I find it unlikely that I will succeed before I expire. Furnish me with the antidote and I give you my solemn word that I will slay Tranceed and undo this curse."

"I decline," replied the old man, "as in this degraded age the word of too many men is worthless. Instead I propose an alternate arrangement: I have in my possession a formula which will surpress the poison for a time. I will provide you with the supressent and you will then venture forth, slay Tranceed, and return with the antidote."

"I have no choice but comply," responded Marendon with a heavy heart. Zenurithas produced a small flask from the drawer of a nearby cabinet.

"Take a single sip every morning and the effects of the poison will be held in abience. I will provide you with the counter agent upon your return and the annulment of the curse. The malediction is bound to the skull stone of a grue and should be easily recognizable by the charge of malefic force that it carries. Tranceed can be found to the south, in Northern Almery. His manse lies close to the village of Xanta-Hilp, fifty leagues south of here, whose inhabitents bear him little love."

Marendon spent the night within the dubious safety of the house's walls. Liss showed him to a small room with a thick, but fading carpet and a divan suitable for sleeping upon. He settled down to sleep and left early in the morning without farewells. Under the influence of the Charm of Untiring Legs he headed south.

He had considered heading back to Kaiin and seeking aid there, but sorcery was expensive and there was no guarrantee of success. He could call upon Prince Kandive's assistance, but that would greatly reduce the reward he could expect to reap upon the success of his mission. No, he was Marendon. He had faith in his wits, his daring, and his magic. Zenurithas's advantage would prove to be temporary.

His confidence thus bolstered, Marendon made good time through the forest. Towards late afternoon he came upon a large meadow of tall grass and moss covered outcroppings of rock. A few large trees could be seen here and there. Looking to the sky he saw the faint shapes of pelgrane circling in the dark blue sky. He slowed, considered his chances, and then broke into a run.

His magic allowed him to sustain his pace without tiring. One of the pelgrane swooped down, but Marendon reached the cover of the tree first. The pelgrane circled the upper branches of the tree. "Come out and get it over with," the leather winged beast cried. "It is inevitable. I will make you death quick if you cooperate."

"Leave ere I blast you with sorcery," Marendon responded. "I am with powerful spells." The pelgrane circled again, giving Marendon a good view of its grey furred belly and wattle face. The magician held up his hand and performed a minor cantrip, causing multicoloured smoke to shoot from his fingers. The pelgrane squaked in dissappointment and ascended into the sky.

Marendon continued his journey, keeping a wary eye on the sky. As the sun waned in the sky the meadow spread out over rolling hills. With night falling, Marendon pressed forward with an urgent desire to find shelter for the night. He soon came upon a cleft between the hills and was able to hollow in the cleft wall that could be a cave if one was feeling generous. The magician set up his mechanical sentinel and bedded down for the night.

He slept poorly and set off the next day. About mid afternoon the hills gave way to a winding river valley. There was a village along both banks of the river, connected by two wooden bridges. Marendon approached with caution, but was quickly spotted by several children who ran off laughing.

The villagers were tawny skinned folk with wide eyes and metallic copper or dark brown hair. Both sexes wore silk scarves around the waist. The men wore trousers and billowy shirts, with more prosperous individuals wearing elaborately embroidered vests and chains of precious metal around their necks. The woman wore stripped blouses with long billowing skirts or similar dress to that of them the men. In both cases, the women augmented their costumes with bits of ribbon.

The locals eyed him cautiously, but showed no other signs of hostility. Marendon approached a prosperous looking man with a short, thick beard. "Excuse me sir. I am trying to reach the village of Xanta-Hilp."

The man scowled. "Why are you trying to reach such an ill-omened place? Foolishness. The sun could sputter out and die at any moment. Best not to spend what could be your last moments well away from such places."

"Indeed," Marendon agreed amiably, "there is much merit in your counsel. Unfortunately I have little choice in the matter and must venture there anyway. Can you give me directions and perhaps advice?"

"Bah. I have not the time."

"Perhaps, but the sun could dim and die at any moment. Why not spend these moments at ease in the local tavern where I shall purchase beer for both of us."

"Your plan has merit," the man conceeded. "I am known as Farul Krober."

"Marendon," replied the magician. Farul lead him to a small establishment known as the Gilded Toad. After several terces and mugs of beer, the man became quite ebuliant.

"Xanta-Hilp can be found to the south of here, but a wise man would avoid it. The people there are of a sour nature, perhaps because of the presence of the haunted ruins of Kubul-Herez or more likely because they must endure being in close proximity to the sorcerer Tranceed."

"I take it he has a fell reputation?" Marendon inquired.

"Indeed. He is known to employ to Spell of the Macroid Toe on people who have apparently given him no grounds to take offence. Those he is wroth with are made to suffer any number of maladies and compliants with the intent of making life unbearable, resulting in submission to Tranceed or death."

"Most unpleasant. Why have not the local people driven him out?"

"They fear his magic," shrugged the man. "I can say no more on this matter."

"Are Traceed and Kubul-Herez the only hazards to be found at Xanta-Hilp?" Marendon inquired.

"Besides those sour folk? No, not entirely. The lands to the south are watched by pelgrane by day and visps stalk it at night. A man should be swift, wary, and well armed to traverse it unharmed. You would be well advized to carry a stout spear with a barbed head and travel in the company of several stout fellows with similar equipage."

"So noted," responded the magician. "I thank you for all your assistance," said Marendon who set down terces to pay for this round and yet another. "I must leave now, but let me extend my gratitude to you buy purchasing more beer for you."

"That is noble of you," responded the man. "May you fare well in your dealings with the folk of Xanta-Hilp."
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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2005-10-21 01:10am

Marendon crossed over the bridge and headed south towards Xanta-Hilp. After rising into a line of hills, the land descended again and trees became increasingly common as open plain became forest. Marendon kept vigilant watch on the skies above, but the pelgrane declined to swoop down upon him.

He made good time, as part of the power of the Charm of Untiring Legs was still with him. The sun progressed across the dark blue sky and began to sink behind the horizon by the time that Marendon spotted a vast glade strewn with broken stones. Columns stretched into the dark sky, surrounding by pieces of broken roofs. Lonely remants of walls stood like gravestones over fallen palaces. Moss, vines, and lichens contested which would encompass the most stone. Strange fungi grew in the shadows, growing as tall as the shade would permit. A terrible malice seemed to leak from the fallen city.

Marendon skirted the ruins, jogging now at a steady pace. The Charm of Untiring Legs no longer remained upon him and he was limited to his merely human endurance. A scrapping sound caught his attention. He turned his head to see a pale, naked figure on top of a ruined set of stairs. He, for so Marendon assumed it was although he could not tell for sure, was drawing something across stone. Two more creatures rose from the darkness to join the first. One of them was clearly armed with a human thigh bone.

Marendon broke into a loping run. One of the ghouls turned his head and caught sight of the magician. He pointed and howled to his fellows. The scampered down the stairs and through the rubble, intent on their prey. Marendon, on the other hand, ran through tall grass and firm earth. He was able to extend his lead on his pursuers and vanished from their sight as he entered a copse of tall breeth trees.

The magician passed swiftly among their lean and dark trunks. The last rays of the sinking sun sent ruby shafts piercing through the gloom. Strange, metallic leafed plants and faintly phosphorescent fungi sprouted around their roots or grew in shelves along their trunks. Marendon dodged between them and passed through the other side.

Before him stood bedraggled fields and beyond that were shabby buildings constructed from logs with plank roofs. Marendon hurried forward. He reached the first one and pounded on the door. "Let me in! I am a traveller and pursued by ghouls!"

"No!" cried a voice from within. "I will open my door to a vagabond and bandit! Try at Kezel! He is likely to indulge in such foolish acts of reckless altruism!"

Marendon resisted the urge to blast the door, which was of quite stout construction, and gritted his teeth. "Can you direct me to his house?" he said while checking around the sides of the building for advancing ghouls.

"The one near the center of the village, with the foolish and extravegent second story and porch."

Marendon ran towards the center of town. Fortunately, the indicated house was easy to find and was clearly one of the best constructed in the village, to say nothing of being one of only three with a true second story. Marendon knocked on the door. "A traveller asks for admission," he cried. "Please hurry. Ghouls approach."

The sound of a bolt being thrown back was accompanied by the door being opened. A large, burly man with extravegant black mustaches and close cropped hair was revealed. The man was clutching an axe which was designed with the intent of chopping flesh, not wood. A sturdily built woman was behind him and she held a barbed spear. "Enter," cried the man. "Quickly!"

Marendon did so and the man through back the bolt and attached the chain. "It is unlikely that they will trouble us," he said. "The gauns have no taste for prey that can fight back unless their numbers are overwhelming. But lone travellers away from the village are another story."

"My thanks," Marendon said. "You have my gratitude. I am Marendon."

"I am Kezel and this is my wife Sused. Welcome to our home. We occassionally house travellers as our village has no inn. You are fortunate in that are rooms are free at the moment and you may have your choice."

The man picked up a candlestick holder and lead Marendon upstairs. He revealed two rooms, with plain woven carpets and comfortable looking beds. The rooms were clean and tidy. "Choose which ever one you see fit."

Marendon nodded placed his backpack on the bed of the eastmost room. He checked the shutters and found them to be secure. "You will find that there is no house in Xanta-Hilp, no matter how slovenly or in what state of disrepair, that lacks strong shutters and a door."

"Indeed," responded Marendon.

"Take your ease here," Kezel replied. "We will see to your needs in the morning." So Marendon slept comfortably under warm blankets. In the morning he took a sip of the counter agent, which was both sweet and oily, and descended to join his hosts for breakfast.

A boy in his early teenage years was also at the table. Breakfast was composed of spiced potatos (a little mild to Marendon's taste), soft boiled eggs, and slices of strong cheese.

"You eat like a starving Hoon," Sused said, smiling.

"Running from gauns interefered with supper and helped stimulate my appetite," Marendon replied.

She slid another egg onto his plate. "Then eat up."

"My thanks. Your hospitality has truly been excellent."

Kezel nodded. "Well, we expect some of your terces so we might as well earn as many as possible."

"Quite. I would be very grateful if I could get some information from you as well."

"Regarding?" said Kezel.

"The magician Tranceed."

The villager's face darkened at the mention of that name. "We do not like to speak about him. He is an unpleasant man, his presence redeemed only by his occassional dispatch of a gaun or purchase of our goods. He inflicts punishments and torments for merely imagined slights."

"Then why do you put up with him? Surely there are many of you in the village?"

"There is, but matters are not so simple. His manse is protected by a stout wall and a boundary curse. Once inside the wall one has to deal with a huge erb stalks his gardens and a stout door with well secured windows. And we have yet to speak of the spells and magical adjuncts available to him and his apprentice or the nameless evils one may find inside his home. No, the folk of Xanta-Hilp have better ways to spend the Earth's last days than a hazardous assault on the home of a vengeful magician."

"Seen in that light, your decision seems most reasonable. How does call upon the magician?"

"Simply go to his manse to the south and ring the bell by the gate. You will not find him though."

"Oh? Why not?"

"He is away. His apprentice Lilandiver was swaggering through town yesterday, which he is wont to do when his master is absent."
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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2005-11-11 06:27am

After further discussion with Kezel and his family, Marendon handed over a dozen terces and enjoyed their hospitality for lunch. He replaced the Charm of Untiring Legs and the Charm of Brachial Fortitude with the Spell of Dissolution and The Liberation of the Warp.

He waited until dusk before setting out. He strode though the long grass and hid beneath the metallic purple leaves of a grove of blue barked ossen trees, which were not native to Earth but had been brought from a far star in ages past. There he waited, keeping an eye out for predators, well past the time when the sun sank and the sky turned from dark blue to black.

Tranceed, according to the information supplied by Kezel and Sused, was in the habit of journeying by magic to distant cities and enoying the amenities to found within. It was unlikely that he would return before several days. The habits of his apprentice Lilandiver were equally predictable. It was likely that he would well into a bottle of wine by now and Tranceed possessed only two other servants. So Marendon waited.

When it was deep into the night, Marendon moved out of the grove and towards the walls. As he neared the wrought iron gate he could feel the power of the boundary curse. He spoke space twisting syllables and freed space of all warp. The boundary curse was broken and torn asunder. The first part move was complete.

The wall was white stone and four yards tall, with a crest with serrated green glass. The gate was wrought iron and worked with the image of two rearing basilisks. Marendon scaled the gate and descended into Tranceed's garden.

The erb game galloping through the long grass. The hybrid of man, beast, and demon was squat and masssive; running ackwardly on all fours. Marendon could see its tusks gleaming in the starlight as it bore down upon him. The magician quickly spoke the pervulsions of Phandaal's Gyrator.

The erb rose into the air above Marendon's reach, rotating slowly. The magician raised the erb high into the air, spinning faster and faster. Somewhere in the upper darkness its body came apart, it's limbs and most of the visceria flying beyond the boundaries of the estate before hitting the ground with faint thuds. Marendon hoped that no one was a particularily light sleeper. He had a smile on his face as he contemplated the success of the second part of his plan.

He walked up the path toward the front door, an imposing portal of ancient and polished oak reinforced with gleaming chromed steel. He spoke the Spell of Dissolution and the door fell into dust. Marendon entered the manse of Tranceed.

It was dark inside so Marendon focused his will and forced a minor elemental to create a globe of light above his hand. The magician prowled the hall, decorated with tapestries displaying rustic scenes from previous aeons, and into Traceed's library.

There were no shortages of books and several interesting crystal curios in the shape of various nymphs and sylphs, but no grue skull stones. One folio caught his eye. He paused and examined it more closely. It was bound in purple, Phandaal's distinctive color. He took it and wandered into another room.

In another room he saw an interesting painting, depicting the lost moon of Earth shining above welcoming glade. A great jade column covered in carved faces smaller than his thumbnail briefly held his attention, as did a mosiac displaying the nearby stars with the Sun at the center. Shaking his head, he continued to search through Tranceed's treasures.

After passing through a number of rooms filled with trophies, odd brick-a-brack, curios, beautiful works of art, and intricate mechanical devices he found a small white stone that quivered with a malicious force. He pocketed it and left the way he came.

There, of course, was the slight matter of evading the wrath of Tranceed and his apprentice while fleeing through the night in a ghoul haunted region. Marendon skirted the ruins of the fell city by a wide margin and managed to avoid any unfortunate encounters. He napped briefly in a copse of ancient maples just after sunrise and rose to force the Charm of Untiring Legs into his brain.

Marendon spent the next day travelling, during which he was attacked by a pelgrane that decided he looked tasty. It swooped down on him from behind, but as he was prone to check behind him every so often while travelling the plain it was unable to take him by surprise. The sight of its body being pierced by a thousand lines of fire discouraged any further attacks and Marendon was able to proceed without further interruptions.

Two days latter he approached the house of the treacherous Zenurithas and his beautiful vat bred daughter. It was early in the day. Marendon had spent the night high in a tree and had chosen to encompass the Liberation of the Warp instead of the Charm of Untiring Legs in order to forstall any magical trickery that Zenurithas might employ.

Liss answered the door when he knocked. She smiled sweetly at him, as if she had never comitted a treacherous act in her life. Marendon resisted the urge to strike her. "Marendon, you have returned. Come in. Father will be eager to see you."

She lead him back to Zenurithas's sitting room. The withered magician looked up at him from beneath the pile of blankets. "Ahh magician, you have succeeded. Come, yield to me what I desire and I shall furnish you with the antidote to the poison."

Marendon reluctantly reached into his pouch and produced the skull stone. He reached out to deliver it and then halted. "The antidote."

Zenurithas smiled. "Ahh. And if I demure until the stone is in my hand?"

"I will hold on to this until it given to me. I will send it far beyond my reach with my dying breath or you will give me the antidote."

"And what guarrantee do I have that you will then yield the skull stone to me?"

"I am not the one who poisons his guests."

"Very well magician. There is no antidote and there is no poison. The counter agent I provided you with is merely diluted and flavored syrup."

Marendon stared at him incredously. "Search my house magician. You will find no clever and complicated apparatus suitable to preparing such a complicated poison. I am in fact bereft of resources other than the companionship of Liss, who is a mild creature, and my own cunning."

"And yet it has not brought you success," said Marendon coldly.

"Hasn't it?" Zenurithas replied smiling. "The skull stone is inches away and held by one who is not Tranceed who would force all my secrets from me. I owe you a debt magician, and will gladly pay it. Restore me to youth and vigour and I can leave this tomb and begin to rebuild my resources. For the time being, I can compensate you with this." A liver spotted hand produced a several sheets of wrinkled and yellow paper. "Not all my knowledge is lost. Instruction on how to prepare an amulet sensitive to the presence of poison. Do you find this a suitable down payment for your troubles, magician?"

"I could kill you where you sit.'

"And how would that profit you? What recompanse could you extract from my lifeless corpse? Come now, what would you do if our places were reversed? I have taken advantage of you, but your labours have born fruit for you. Will you kill the tree or cultivate it?"

Marendon raised his hand. The first syllables of the Gyrator were at the forfront of his brain. He merely had to begin speaking and the trickster would be torn asunder. He lowered his hand and took the papers. "Very well Zenurithas. I shall spare you the full force of my fury. Do not allow our paths to cross again without suitable compensation being close at hand." With that the magician dropped the skull stone on the floor and departed.
Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2006-08-11 06:51am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2006-08-16 04:03am

Marendon continued on his journey to the Land of the Falling Wall. He consoled himself with his prizes in the form of Phandaal's librium and the formulae for the amulet. These were not insignificant gains and in part did make up for the divergences forced upon him by Zenurithas's deceit.

The magician continued his journey towards the Land of the Fallen Wall. He spent the night with the yellow skinned sheep herding inhabitants of the village of Tresor Kree. They were friendly, although they had a peculiar customs involving changing which had the spoon was held in with every mouthful.

He left in the morning and came upon the remnants of an ancient rode, its flags now mostly overgrown with grass and moss. Under the red light of the afternoon sun Marendon followed it through woods and glades, keeping a wary eye out for predatory half men and other dangers that abounded in Earth's last days.

He was unmolested and as the sun set he erected a hammock among the upper branches and set the bronze owl to serve as a sentinel. His sleep was undisturbed and he resumed his journey. His journey continued in a similar manner for a week until he came upon a great cleft in the earth.

It sundered the land for as far as he could see. On the other side he could see a few dark shapes protruding from the fog shroud of an otherwise desolate moor. The far side of the crevice was higher than Marendon's side and as the magician grew closer he obtained a splendid view of the crumbling cliff face dotted with caves. Marendon approached the edge and peered into the bottom of the gorge. Water coursed through the depths of the gorge, throwing up a curtain of mist.

Marendon looked across the gap that separated him from the Land of the Falling Wall. "Most incommodious," he muttered. The magician possessed no magic that would allow him to traverse the gap, although he was well acquainted with the existence of such potent conjurations. He craned his head both ways, seeking a means of crossing.

Off in the distance he saw a what might be a bridge in the distance. Marendon set off towards it, travelling at a swift pace as the Charm of Untiring Legs lent strength to his limbs. Presently, the bridge came clearly into view. It was a smooth structure that crossed the ravine's gap some one hundred feet below the lip of the cliff. A stairway was cut into the stone of the both sides of the ravine, allowing access to the bridge from both sides. As in the other local, cave mouths and slender footpaths dotted the sides of the gorge.

Marendon carefully descended the switchback stairs toward the bridge. The magician kept a wary eye on the cave mouths, lest they disgorge some horror and he needed to employ magic in his own defence. He was able to reach the bridge without incident and embarked upon crossing it. As he approached the mid point, caves on both sides to the ravine discharged packs of grey skinned rock goblins. The red eyed creatures came not quite to the magician's shoulder, but were possessed of formidable wiry strength and quickness. The creatures were armed with fearsome spiked clubs and curve tipped snaffle irons. In mere moments they had sealed off both ends of the bridge, preventing any hope of mistake.

A magician who had encompassed more potent spells, spells not present in the grimoires and tomes belonging to Marendon the Impoverished, might be able to employ such potent magics as Gilgad's Instantaneous Galvanic Thrust or the Call of the Violet Cloud to extract himself from this dire predicament. As Morendon did not have such potent means at his disposal, he instead drew his sword and affected a fierce demeanor. "I am Morendon the Magician!" he shouted. "Who wishes to be the first to be blasted by magic?"

The rock goblins hesitated, none desiring to be the first to test what magics Marendon commanded. One, larger than most of his fellows, hissed slyly. "I think you lie," he said. "You possess no magics and our snaffle irons shall deal with your sword and our clubs shall deal with you."

"So you wish to be pierced by a thousand lines of coloured fire?" Marendon said firmly. The goblin hedman hissed and retreated. Evidently, his courage extended only so far. "Cease to bar my passage and you will find I am not without mercy," said Marendon. "I will encyst none of you in spheres ninety miles beneath the earth nor subject any of you to the Spell of the Macroid Toe."

He advanced and the goblins took a step back. They took another as Marendon continued upon his course, but the hedman called out. "Halt so called magician! I find that your claims lack credibility."

"That will be for your successor," intoned Marendon. "I advice all that wish to live to flee from your immediate vicinity, lest they be slain as well." Marendon raised his hand and pointed. A scuttling sound from behind him alerted him to that matter's were amiss. He turned to find five particularly stealthy goblins had used the opportunity afforded to them by the conversation to advance upon him while his back was turn. Marendon lunged, running the closest one through the chest.

The goblin let out a cry and toppled off the bridge. The remaining four rushed forwards with their clubs and snaffle iron but in speed Marendon was not found wanting. The magician uttered Felojun's Second Hypnotic Spell, freezing them in place. Marendon calmly pushed them over the side and then addressed the remaining goblins. "Who wishes to be the next to perish?"

"Ahh magician," said the goblin hedman, "so you are not entirely without potent spells. But you would not be so amenable to conversation if they were sufficient to see you past us. Fight us and you will die. Alternatively, you could perform a service for us of not insignificant value and we will grant you safe passage."

To say that the half man was untrustworthy would be stating the obvious, but Marendon could not prevail over such a large force of viscious half men. "Your terms?" he asked.

"That you descend the paths on this side of the ravine until you reach a large cave near the bottom and dispatch the entity that offends us with its continued existence."

"What matter of creature is it?" Marendon inquired.

"To be candid we are not entirely sure. It is some variety of half man, quite large, possessing great strength and some what impervious to the blows of clubs." He hedman waved his hand. "The exact details of his nature matter little to use. Your magic, I am sure, will suffice in this matter. We shall retreat up the staircase, allowing you access to the paths of descent. When you return with evidence of the beast's dispatch you may proceed upon your way. Do we have a bargain?"

"Yes," said Marendon.
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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2006-08-19 08:27am

Marendon descended the cliff side with more than a little trepidation. The rock goblins could not be relied upon to be sincere in their dealings and the beast below would undoubtedly be fearsome. Sword in hand, the magician approached the beast's lair.

The rushing water was loud enough to make it nearly impossible to hear the footsteps of an approaching creature, a task made more difficult by the echoes that were produced by sounds bouncing off the cliff walls. Further complicating matters, the thick mist rising off the river obscured visibility as well.

Traversing the damp, switchback path the magician finally neared the cave in question, which was located not far above the surface of the river. The bones of men and what could be rock goblins were strewn in front of the creature's demesne, a gruesome indicator of the beast's culinary habits. The cave itself was twice as tall and as wide as Marendon was tall, which further discomforted the magician when he considered the possible size of the beast in question. If it was of demonic origin, such as the fearsome erb, it could possess a consider resistance to earthly sorcery.

Marendon pushed his fears aside and advanced with considerable stealth. Those who aspired to possess magic and were heir to no great wealth or influence by need must have more than the average share of courage and Marendon was no exception. He was not unafraid, but neither was he disheartened by this perilous undertaking. He crept forward and looked into the cave.

It was rudely furnished, with rushes covering the floor and a large wooden cage that was presently empty to one side. On a couch fashioned from piled furs rested an extraordinary monster. It was the size of a bear, but with the face and hands of a man. It was covered in dirty white fur and exuded a ghastly stench. It rolled over and Marendon met its dark eyed gaze.

A terrible lassitude assailed the magician as the creature rolled off the couch and roared. Marendon stepped back and it bellowed again, running on four legs like a bear. It's white face filled Marendon's vision as the magician fought the lethargy that was clouding his brain.

To master magic was no easy task and to encompass spells required both will and extreme mental effort. Marendon shouted the pervulsons of the Excellent Prismatic Spray. The whole cave was lit as bright as day as a hundred darts of radiant fire struck the ghoul-bear from all directions. Such was the force of Marendon's magic that the beast was blasted into countless pieces by the mulicoloured flames, leaving nought but blood and scraps of flesh behind.

Marendon breathed a sigh of relief and admitted himself to the cave. The dreary domicile revealed no great secrets even after a thourough investigation. Marendon paused to consider his options. That the goblins would be treacherous was without question. He needed over come them with what resources he had at hand. His gaze wandered over the cage and then he smiled.

With his belt knife the magician cute one of the long wooden beams free, which was nearly twice his height. Its weight was not inconsiderable, but not beyond what he could manage. The magician was able to maneuver the pole of stout wood out of the cave and then onto the path. There he intoned the Charm of Brachial Fortitude, placed the log upon his shoulder, and retraced his steps up the side of the cliff.

As he drew near the bridge Marendon was able to see a score of the grey skinned creatures hiding amongst the rocks above, waiting for him. He smiled in false good humour and addressed them as he advanced. "Greetings, authors of my good fortune!" he cried out.

Several of the goblins looked at each other curiously. Two of the creatures, in the process of loosening the position of a boulder of considerable size, halted a moment in puzzlement. The goblin leader stuck his head over the path. "Greetings magician. Why do you address us so?"

"Ahh, you do not recognize the prize I have obtained. It is of no great importance, for it is mine and not yours. I will depart with it, according to the terms of our bargain."

"Of course," the goblin replied. "Perhaps you will favor us with your knowledge and instruct us regarding the nature of your prize, so we may recognize it should we encounter another." The hedman made certain sly hand gestures to his comrades.

"And how will you compensate me for such instruction?" asked Marendon as he drew closer to the goblins.

"We have several treasures that may be to your liking. Come closer and view them, so we may bargain properly."

Marendon advanced and discovered the goblins to in a line along the path, waiting for him with clubs and snaffle irons in hand. "I see this is how your bargain."

"Surrender your treasure, foolish magician," replied the hedman from the rear.

"I think not," Marendon replied and swung the wooden log with great force across the path. The power of the Charm of Brachial Fortitude augmented his strength to a tremendous degree. The three closest goblins were crushed against the side of the cliff. Marendon advanced, thrusting with the log as if it were a spear or lance, smashing goblins off the cliff or crushing their slender bodies.

The survivors turned and ran screaming, trampling their hedman in their panic and knocking several of their brethren over the side of the cliff in their haste to flee. Marendon stood over the moaning goblin. "Magician, please, have mercy."

"I do," said Marendon. He raised the log. "You are a vile and treacherous villain and whatever travellers come after me deserve the mercy of your absence." Marendon brought the beam down upon the hedman and silenced his cries.

The magician climbed the rest of the way up and found himself alone at the edge of a desolate moor. He tossed the wooden pole back over his shoulder with the last of the strength lent to him by the Charm. The sun was falling and the dark blue sky would soon fade to black. He had arrived in the Land of the Falling Wall.
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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2006-08-28 02:32am

Sunset rapidly approached as Marendon swiftly strode away from the ravine. The vast plain ahead of him was devoid of tall trees, although it boasted the occasional bush or stunted and twisted specimen. Outcroppings of jagged rock were thrust up from the earth and almost indistinguishable from the worn and broken monoliths still standing from a bygone eon. Marendon did not tarry to examine these specimens, as much as it pained him for there was little time to find safety before night fell. The magician scanned the dark blue sky for any sign of the fearsome pelgrane and avoided the rocks which could provide cover for other fell beasts.

The sun slipped over the horizon and the last of the carmine light faded away, leaving only the cold glitter of the surviving stars to light Marendon's way. Deciding that he was at a sufficient remove from the crag to make pursuers unlikely to catch him and reluctantly coming to the realization that resting under even the rudest shelter was preferable to sleeping on the exposed plain, Marendon approached a nearby crag. Despite his misgivings, it turned out not to host asms, vespids, or any such similar cannibalistic creature. Marendon was able to find a recess in the rock and curled up in his cloak after setting his brass owl on watch. Despite the derth of comforts, the magician was soon asleep and remained so until the crimson rays of the mid morning sun woke him.

Marendon encompassed new spells and resumed his journey across the Land of the Falling Wall. Early in the afternoon he came across the remnants of what had once been a city. Its great towers had fallen and its walls were crumbling with gaps in numerous places, but his keen eye noted a patch of earth that was under cultivation. Warily, the magician approached.

Several men were working in the fields. They wore broad brimmed straw hits and double breasted jackets of dark wool over sturdy breeches and heavy boots. The observed Marendon's approach in a taciturn manner, displaying no emotion but keeping a close watch upon him. "Greetings," said the magician. "I am a traveller from distant Almery."

The farmer stroked his thick, dangling mustachios. "I have heard of such a land, but must confess to knowing little of it or its peoples. We here at Cedence receive few travellers. What drives you to cross the tundra alone? And please do not approach any closer if it is any way communicable."

"I have taken an oath to oppose the necrophages that are known to haunt this land, not succumbed to a brain malady," replied Marendon.

"In that case your efforts, although somewhat quixotic, are welcome."

"By chance, would you be familiar with the location of such a diabolist?"

"I am not. It is not beyond beyond possibility that Chelum the Hunter may know of such, but he is absent at the moment."

"Are you aware of when he may return?"

"Usually by dusk. He often takes his ease at the Broken Casket; which I think, without an excess of local pride, you will find the equal of many fine establishments elsewhere."

"I take it can be found within the walls?"

"Yes. We find it wiser to construct our domiciles with the perimeter of the walls that we have rebuilt. It is not safe on the plain at night." He glanced meaningfully at Marendon.

"I am fortunate enough to possess a measure of warding magic."

"I imagine that would make a solitary journey across the plains survivable. In any case, your route appears to lie within the walls of Cedence."

Marendon inclined his hat in thanks and approached the city. It became clear that part of the wall had be reconstructed and many of the buildings within the wall had been restored. Like the farmer, the inhabitants of the town seemed to favor long luxurious mustaches if male as well as sturdy, practical clothes. The women wore their hair midlength and favored blouses and easy to move in skirts. Hats were not much in evidence.

The magician found the tap house, a grandiose building of post and lintel construction made from pink marble, and entered. A short, fat man greeted Marendon. "Good day stranger. I am Rendal Fask, proprietor and brewmaster here. You do not have the look of Nopu or Gezarsk about you. Have you travelled far?"

"Indeed I have," replied Marendon. "From white walled Kaiin in Almery."

"That place is beyond my knowledge," the proprietor admitted.

"I would avail myself of whatever food and drink can be found in your fine premesis. I would speak with Chelum the Hunter."

And so it was that Marendon consumed a roast squab and buttered beans washed down with a mug of golden beer. As time wore on lamps were lit to compensate for the waning of the sun's light. Presently a man with an arrow gun slung over his shoulder and an iron reinforced spear walked into the establishment. He leaned his weapons against the wall and removed his hat. "Ho ho. Rendal! Pour me a drought of your finest dark beer!"

"I am delighted to do so," the proprietor said. "I am inclined to mention that there is a stranger here looking for you?"

"Not the father of a pretty lass in Nopu or Gezarsk I hope," said Chelum with considerable good humour.

"Not at all," said Marendon as he rose from his seat. "I am from a much more distant locale and inclined to ask for your assistance in a private matter. I will, of course, pay for you bear." Terces may have been an unfamiliar currency in this place, but silver remained silver and so his purse was not without its uses.

"Ah ha. That offer has a sound to it I like. I will join you stranger, as long as your speech is pleasant and the beer flows freely." Upon saying so he sat at Marendon's table. "Do speak," said the hunter.

Marendon sat down. "I wish to dispatch one of the villainous necrophages that are said to haunt this region."

"You are bold or perhaps merely brain addled. The necrophages possess fearsome magic, practice abominable rites, and are far too intimate with demons for a man with balanced humours to consider approaching."

"I am not without resources, both magical and mundane. In any event, the only thing I require from you is your assistance in locating one, not in slaying the aforementioned diabolist."

"Very well then. In this I will aid you, although not without some reluctance. You seem a fine fellow and it is not without trepidation that I give you information that will likely cause your death. To the north there is a ruined city, not far from here. I have seen the movement of men or half men within its walls and green fires burning on the hill temple ruins. I believe you will find what you seek there."

"Thank you," Marendon replied and waved the proprietor over with more beer. "Do you know where I may pass the night?"

"We rarely have such custom, but there are a few rooms here I may rent you," answered Rendal Fask. The room in question was small, but clean and comfortable. Marendon paid the tavern master and was swiftly overcome by sleep.
The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2006-09-05 03:55am

The next morning Marendon breakfasted on fresh leavened bread hard boiled eggs dipped in heated iscoleeth oil. After finishing his morning abulations, the magician forced potent spells into his brain and made his farewells. The magician left the walled town and headed north, to the ruins where he had been informed his prey might be found.

The son slowly traversed the dark blue sky, sinking towards the west when Marendon finally neared the remnants of what had once been a great city. Crumbling buildings of marble stood next to lots filled with choking weeds and tumbled statuary. Broken columns and fallen walls abounded. Marendon kept an alert eye out for dangers, but the rumoured half men were not in evidence. The magician crossed the ruin with some difficulty, his eyes on the hill that he had been told off.

He began his ascent as the feeble sun fell over the horizon. There he found fallen and weathered slabs of stone, their original purpose lost to the rigours of time. Ahead and above of him was the ruins of the temple to some forgotten god. A few of the columns had fallen, but the remainder of them still supported a half collapsed roof. A dark figure stalked the shadow's near the entrance, sniffing the air and moving from pillar to pillar.

Marendon crouched behind a broken slab to hide from the creature. A deodand as a doorman was hardly the usual order of things. Only one who commanded possessed potent magic and the means to slake the half man's anthropophagus desires could command such a beast. It appeared the Marendon had found what he travelled a considerable distance to find. Before he could attempt to purloin the master's secrets he would have to dispatch the servant.

The magician circled the hill cautiously, keeping the ground or stone between him and the deodand. The rear of the temple was in worst shape, with a partially collapsed wall and several fallen columns. The magician ascended the hill and climbed the rubble to reach the ruin's roof. There he seized a heavy block of marble and carefully made his way across the crumbling structure. He reached the edge and looked down.

Presently the deodand ventured beneath one of the gaps in the roof. As it stood sniffing the air, Marendon loosed the stone. The rock struck the deodand between the shoulders. The half man fell and twitched feebly.

The magician descended from the roof and approached the dying half man. It glowered at him feebly. Marendon dispatched it with a single sword thrust. The creature quivered and expired. Marendon stepped over the body and headed inside.

The interior of the ruined temple was dark, with faint shafts of feeble starlight shining through the holes in the roof. Worn and unrecognizable statues of forgotten saints or gods rested in niches. Any pattern or decoration that the stonework might have possessed had long faded away. Marendon might have wished for the light of Earth's lost moon if it weren't for a second source of illumination. A sinister green light emanated from a portal in the floor, near the far side of the temple. Marendon approached.

Steps lead down, beneath the temple. Marendon could see a few niches, now empty or merely containing a few loose bones. A lantern blazing with green fire hung near the entrance of the crypt. With more than passing reluctance, the magician descended into the crypt.
The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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Post by Imperial Overlord » 2006-12-06 04:08am

The stairs lead down to a narrow hall of crumbling brick and stone. Carved into the side of the wall were recesses upon which a body could be interred. A few held the crumbling remains of an ancient personage, but most were empty or their contents had gone to dust. Plaster still stuck to the walls in a few places, giving a hint of the decorations the ancients had surrounded the dead with. Marendon walked on.

The hall ended in a wider room, lit by braziers of green flame. A few columns still reached the ceiling, but most had been broken or fallen long ago. Raised slabs were present in lines near the walls and attending to each slab was a table containing ancient machinery consisting of pumps, tubes, and baroque vats.

Marendon approached the machinery and examined it. His observations confirmed his hypothesis of embalming equipment and he paid it no further attention. Corridors lead out of the rectangular room in, one in each direction, but only the one in front of him was lit. The magician noted that dust in this room had been disturbed recently. With no small amount of trepidation, Marendon proceeded deeper into the tomb.

The hall was about as long as the first one, which is to say not very long at all. All the funerary niches in the walls were empty. A hellish green light was visible ahead. Marendon crept forward, keeping to the darkness.

Before him was revealed a room which might have once housed the bodies of a king's chief retainers or concubines or perhaps a chamber for dignitaries of note. The room had undergone renovations since then, although the character of the chamber was not improved by them. Sinister green glowing lamps hung from the ceiling by iron chains. Along one wall a funeral slab had been pushed to form a bench and a pair of book holders with leering demon faces contained a collection of tomes bound in black leather. Another hall lead out of the chamber.

The other half of the room contained a sinister apparatus consisting of tubes, decanters, and flasks. At one end of the sinister alchemical equipment was a flask, at the other was a spigot. In the initial flask was what appeared to be a dissolving brain. At the spigot, drops of tarry black fluid dropped slowly into vial. A dozen desiccated corpses, minus the tops of their heads, were stacked like cord wood next to the distillery.

Attending to this macabre contrivance was a tall man wearing a black cassock wearing a dark hat topped with a square brim. Beside him was a lean and muscular figure, nearly ten feet tall. It was only vaguely man like, with long rending talons. It turned, showing great golden eyes and terrible tusks. "Master," it spoke, "an intruder."

The warlock turned, revealing a handsome face with a neat black beard. A copper run was clasped to his left wrist. "Ahh, a guest. So delightful in these degraded times."

"Make no hostile move and attempt to utter no spells," Marendon warned, "or I will blast you with magic."

The warlock smiled. "Alas sweet guest, earthly sorcery will not aid you. I bear upon my person a most potent rune," and with this he made a flourish and displayed the rune clamped around his wrist, "and my servant is a demon of the Underworld and impervious to most earthly magic. I am afraid you are entirely within my power and your magic shall not avail you. I warn you not to attempt flight, for my servant is very fleet of foot, but his attentions to your person will not be tender if he is ordered to retrieve you."

"You appear to have me at a disadvantage," said Marendon. He recognized the rune on the necrophage's wrist as a potent defence against any of the magics he commanded.

"Tragically, that appears to be the case."

"What are your intentions?"

"Why to liberate your brain from its bony fortress and distill its essence for my consumption. Your knowledge shall enhance mine as have so many others."

"That gives me little incentive to cooperate."

"That is true, but consider how much you can suffer before your brain is extracted. Let me assure you that my servant's knowledge of the torturer's arts is extensive and his frustrations are many. It would be most unwise to court such a fate."

"That, I must say, reflects poorly upon you. I do have a question for you, if you will permit me?"

"Of course. I so rarely have the opportunity to indulge in discourse with educated men."

"Your demonic servitor, due to the aforementioned frustrations, would most likely attempt to inflict the previously mentioned torments upon your flesh if it was free?"

"Undoubtedly. I must confess to being a hard task master when the occasion calls for it."

"I see," said Marendon and uttered the pervulsions of the Liberation of the Warp. All magic was undone and so the necrophage's bindings failed. With a roar the demon turned on its former master. The warlock uttered a potent spells and a bolt of purple flame smashed the demon against the wall of the tomb.

The demon was wounded, as evidenced by an unearthly stench and a terrible burn on its chest, but not undone. It rose to its feet and hooked the front its former master's robe with its terrible claws, drawing him in. Its great jaws gaped open.

Marendon took the opportunity to seize a half dozen volumes from the table and flee down the hall. A long and terrible wailing followed him down the hall as he burst into the embalming room. Dust trickled down from the ceiling as the room shook from some terrible force. The magician looked behind him.

The demon was striding down the hall behind him. The ground shook with each step, which ate up an impossible amount of distance. The wails continued and Marendon was able to perceive the warlock's tongue impaled on the demon's tusk. The fiend from the Underworld grinned at him and advanced.

The magician crossed the embalming room to the next hall and waited, knowing he could not outrun a being that bent space with each step. He had no time to master his stolen magic and turn it to his own use. Only the spells impressed into his brain and his native talents remained to him.

The demon entered the embalming room, causing a tremor to run through it. Marendon shouted the words to The Excellent Prismatic Spray. Hundred of darts of multicoloured fire lanced into the two intact pillars closest to Marendon. The demon roared, but it was too late. His otherworldly presence was too much of a strain on the world around him. The already weakened ceiling collapsed upon him, burying him in falling stone.

Marendon ascended the stairs and noted that part of the temple's floor had collapsed. The magician left the ruin with some caution, but did not encounter any creature of fell aspect. He crossed the plain and returned to the Broken Casket, whose proprietor was somewhat surprised to see him still alive. There Marendon made a survey of his findings, pouring across the volumes and gaining some understanding of their contents. Among them was a spell that would ease his return journey.

He carefully studied it before impressing the spell into his brain. Not to alarm the locals, he ventured into the plain before invoking its power. A dark shape obscured the sun and descended upon him. "What is your wish, my master?"

"Carry me to Ascolais, to the fields just east of white walled Kaiin."

"As you wish," the demon replied and seized the magician in its terrible talons. The Agency of Far Dispatch rose into the air and flew west, across the Land of the Falling Wall and over the forested land of Almery. At last, with the feeble afternoon sun shining overhead, white walled Kaiin appeared in the distance. The demon deposited the magician on the grassy meadows overlooking the River Scaum and returned to the Underworld.

Marendon rose to his feet, having tumbled briefly when he was unceremoniously deposited upon the earth, and straightened his hat. His prizes were secure in his satchel. Whistling merrily, the magician began to walk the final leg of his journey home.
The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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