Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 2: Aranina]

Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 2: Aranina]
#1
Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 2: Aranina]
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

Loading Mini-Grand Framework... Done.

Generating Administration Personality... Done.


"Once upon a time in a land far far away there were four characters."

Generating Characters... Done.


Four beings suddenly found themselves nowhere, able to see one another but nothing else. A synthesized voice came out of the nothing surrounding them.

"The four characters were pulled from their native lands to a featureless void wherein there was nothing to be seen but blackness in every direction. Here they were addressed by the booming voice of the narrator. 'You four have been specially selected.' the voice informed them. 'Technically speaking this is a battle to the death, but I have told that story so many times. I thought we would try something a little different. You bold four are noble heroes on an epic adventure.'

“The voice went on to describe each character in turn, abitrarily commencing with the orphan clutching the baseball bat. 'Oftimes in a story the poor orphan child turns out to be the hero of noble lineage. Well this time there is no noble lineage to fall back on but perhaps Aaron Incorable can overcome his run of poor luck and triumph in this new environment.'

“The next character to be introduced was the lich; Vhaegar. He was dressed in all manner of gold and finery with a pigeon perched upon his head. ‘Liches are stereotyped as evil and wicked, poor Vhaegar is just a man who did not want to die. Perhaps today he can play a different role from the one he normally plays and become a hero to inspire the people of this good land. Also due to certain limitations his soul is now in that pigeon.'

“Next up was a plain looking man in an overlarge coat. 'A hero would not be a hero if they did not have some adversity to overcome. Talmadge Tea has more than most. In some ways he is more gifted than he would allow himself to believe and it is only by harnessing that gift that he will prove himself a true hero.'

“The final character to be introduced was not as the other contestants were expecting the human with the slug on his head but the slug with the human attached to it. ‘This hero hails from a world, which I must admit is not the kind of thing I normally deal with. In his world the brain slug is the top of the line data storage unit; this one containing every peice of information about DifCorp, essentially it is the company in question. Though I have never seen it yet, perhaps the 'evil corporation' can redeem itself.'"


Generating Setting... Done.


The four generated characters suddenly found themselves moved, assembled at the entrance of a series of dimly lit catacombs.

"Our tale begins in earnest as our four heroes arrive at the entrance to the Great Catacombs. Their quest to defeat the evil Lord Ashkaroth can only begin once they have claimed the magical equipment guarded at the deepest depths of this deadly maze of traps and monsters.

In their hearts they know that tough times were ahead and that not all of them would survive the trials that lay within. But equally they knew that it was the only way they would have any chance at stopping Lord Ashkaroth.”


SpoilerShow

SpoilerShow
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#2
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by XX.

It was dark again and Talmadge was getting worried.

He’d spent so long in the white room that he’d forgotten what anything outside of it looked like. Was everything so dark? There had been a window in the room, or he’d imagined one, and all he could see on the other side was a blackness. He didn’t like to look at it. He’d smashed the window and broken his hand once. Proper came not long after. He was sure Proper would know why the window was there if he could get him to stay long enough to listen. Proper knew everything.

The darkness in the catacombs was like the one outside the window, Talmadge thought. The voice that had spoken to him wasn’t Proper’s, he knew that, and no one else had ever said a word to him while he was in the white room. They came and went. It was probably a hallucination, that voice. Proper would know what to do about it, Proper knew what to do about everything. Should he be nervous?, he wondered. Did heroes get nervous? He didn’t think they were afraid of the darkness. If he ever met one he would try and remember to ask. He would write it down in his book. Heroes are not afraid of the dark.

The lack of walls was starting to frustrate him. Where was everything going to go if there was nothing holding it in? What if it all fell out? There were too many shadows. He wanted to pick them up and move them somewhere else but they kept slipping through his hands.

There was a smell of death.

In the shadows of the catacomb Talmadge heard a sound, only a moan at first, then a howl and then a cacophony, symphonic. He felt it in the marble under his feet, swimming through the ground, then as a breath of air against the back of his neck that crawled inside his skin and turned his bones to stone. He knew before he turned who it was. A wolf’s face was grinning at him, black on black on shadows with a knife between its teeth and eyes all afire in the gloom.

Talmadge smiled weakly. Proper never left for long.

The knife clanged to the marble floor with a blasphemous sound. It wasn’t a knife at all, Talmadge realized as he picked it up. It was a sword, four feet from hilt to tip and viciously sharp. It was lighter than it looked. He wondered if it was actually there.

I found it for you.

Talmadge winced. Proper’s idea of finding things tended to involve their previous owners losing the ability to own anything at all.

Aren’t you going to thank me?

He held the blade in his hands for a long minute, weighing it. He didn’t know how to use a sword. He hadn’t been allowed anything with an edge to it in years. It couldn’t be that hard. Proper wouldn’t have given it to him otherwise.

Well?

He turned and walked into the catacombs, sword tip carving a line into the stone.
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#3
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Jacquerel.

It was cold by the entrance to the catacombs. Vhaegar had half a mind to complain about the chill on his old bones... only he wouldn't be convincing himself and he didn't think anyone else nearby would particularly appreciate it. Besides even if he could feel cold it would have been his own fault, there's just something about losing your flesh that makes people think it's alright to walk around topless all the time.

Before he had been so rudely plucked away he had been studying a treatise on plant magic, he'd been thinking about doing a spot of gardening to pass the time, but regretfully the scroll didn't appear to have come with him (had it simply dropped to the floor as he'd been transported away? It was very valuable!) and besides the lighting was far too dim for reading. Within the tunnels there were torches spaced at roughly even distances along the walls, but they seemed to have been placed just far enough apart to simply enhance the shadows rather than illuminate them, which was obviously not very careful. The lich rubbed at his sockets idly in hope that they'd adjust to the light then mentally cursed himself for his stupidity. Old habits die hard. He couldn't help but think he was forgetting something else too...

The sudden bright flash as the lights in his eyes amplified from candle flames to gaslamps in intensity startled a grubby ball of feathers that had previously been perched on one of his ridiculous ornamental horns. The terrified pigeon made a strange warbling noise, lightened its load onto some priceless gold plating (did the mysterious narrator have to make it quite so realistic?) and flapped into the air.
"Damnation!"
Vhaegar remembered what had already slipped his mind. If the strange being that had brought them here wouldn't let him keep his reading material, why had it brought the one thing he wanted to take least?

The terrified pigeon fled down the twisting corridors and the ancient wizard was forced to follow.

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#4
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

help us... help us.....
you were chosen... succeed where we fell...
failure... i failed...
only you...
you...
hero


Running.
What else could he do?
The ghosts where overwhelming, all of the sprits of the fallen hero's recognized Aaron as a being who could understand them, who heard them, and ultimately... who could be used by them. The spirits flocked to the boy, asking him to avenge them and to go forward in their name, to go on and tell the story of them and not any others.

It was overwhelming him.

Aaron clenched his teeth and held his bat closer to his head, blindly running through the catacombs, far far away from the ghosts and ghouls assaulting him.

He ducked into a split path, not stopping for a second, his weak and frail body only powered by fear.
This same fear would make him stop.
The corridor ended and he saw a large ornate room, gold on each wall. And in the center of the room was a gem encrusted goblet of <font color="#FF0000">fire
.

"What do I do," he asked no one who was there.
...
And he did nothing.
He only stared at the burning flame.
His eyes did not move from the goblet as a pair of white eyes flicked into sight, he stood motionless as an orange claw lifted out of the golden cup, he did nothing as the flame elemental rose above its fiery home.

There was silence.

"Yes... I will."
With only the words a bat to go on, Aaron leaped forward into the flames.</font>
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#5
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by ch00_bakka.

The Corp woke up from its nap (on a long flight to the Beijing building-city). It had been having a nice dream (as much as a collection of data in a human mind can dream), about a hostile takeover of GMZ. It was beautiful. The contracts, the marketing... DifCorp was contemplating a name change to DifZai when it was rudely awakened by being snatched out of reality and into the battle. It immediately noticed a loss of spectacle functionality. This place, wherever it was, lacked wireless. It recorded all of the opening speech, and when it heard the plot, such as it was, it smiled. With a flick of its eyes, it pulled up some files from one of its subsidiaries, Mages of the Isles. The "Ashkaroth's Catacomb's" supplement for the "Swords and Sorcery" role playing game. Excellent.

After the transition (instantaneous, probably some new technology from JSCAS), DifCorp accessed the map provided with the supplement. It was apparently in the Zombie Caverns area of the catacombs, if the open graves and scattered dirt were any indication. It opened a nearby coffin, and found about twenty pieces of gold and a small iron dagger. Damn. Randomly generated. The map couldn't help right now. The Corporation seized the monetary assets of the former owner of this grave, and stuck the weapon into its suit pocket. It headed left, creating a map of the cave as it walked, so it could find where on the large map it was. It failed to notice the shuffling sounds from behind.

The Corporation had made enough turns to realize that the map was absolutely no help. It moved the files back to long-term storage in its abdominal computer, and sat down on a rock. The tomb was completely dark. Luckily, its glasses had infrared sensors, so it could tell if any creatures were coming. It looked around, just to make sure, and saw nothing but a statue of a human. Or at least a human-shaped, heatless blob. The Corporation decided that investigating the statue for any possible monetary gain was in its best interests, and walked over to it. The zombie immediately lunged forwards, trying to take a bit out of DifCorp's precious skull. The Corporation immediately ascertained that this was an attempted hostile seizure of meatspace property by an enemy, and took steps to prevent consumption of its brains. It jumped quickly back, receiving only a small scratch on the shoulder, and grabbed the dagger from its pocket. It pulled the "zombie" statistics from that "Swords and Sorcery" game up as well -- this appeared to be a necromantic zombie (better to assume the improbable than die, after all), and it would be best to know the creature's weaknesses.

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#6
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

The flame elemental was taken aback. As soon as the boy had decided to leap forward, it just felt off. It was not necessarily scared, either of being hit (as being made out of flames makes physical injury less of a deal) or of the boy (as he was just s dirty skeleton of a human). But it still felt like it had a reason to be afraid. So, instead of taking the brunt and taking the blow, which would have burned the hands of the boy, the flame elemental dodged.

This was a mistake.

Still swinging his bat hard, completley ignoring the heat and fatigue that would have driven a normal man to death, Aaron hit the side of a ruby on the goblet that the fire elemental came out of. The recoil of hitting the encrusted gem knocked the boy and his bat backwards, Aaron on to his butt and the bat into the air.

The bat flew into the darkness, far from the goblet and dropped with a *tink*. The flame elemental reacted positively to the loss of the bat and began to move toward the weaponless Aaron... who proceeded to immediately ignore it and instead began to leap into the darkness where the bat lay. It was then that the flame spirit realized exactly where the bat had landed.

Only moments later, Aaron was once more knocked backwards, this time into the large golden flaming cup. The flame elements began to cower as it felt the other being in the room slowly begin to enter its home. A tentacle extended out of the darkness, trashing at the room wildly. Then another. And a third. And then a fourth, this one wielding the bat.

The flame elemental looked to its side to see Aaron standing up. Unlike before, where he was tired and more sad than anything, he was now furious. His eyes were open wide and he had a face of pure hatred and scorn. He was not about to leave his bat in the hands of some tentacle thing. He wasn't about to leave it for the world. With each breath his face twisted to become more and more angry at his separation with the bat.

With speed and energy that could only be unnatural, Aaron thrashed into the creature in the darkness, specifically aiming for the arm with the bat. He grabbed the tentacle and began to twist it, gripping it with his unkempt nails and dirty, hardened hands. The creature made an ear shattering shriek of pain and sent its other tentacles for Aaron. But it was of no use. Aaron hadn't retrieved his bat, his lifeline, one of the only items that means anything. He wasn't done enacting his revenge.

The flame elemental looked in complete and utter terror. Its white eyes wished that they could forget the carnage, but as it went on, they could not have looked away. To the elemental's relief, the scene ended and Aaron was reunited with his bat once more. He dragged his feet back to the goblet and shot the flame elemental a terrifying look.

"He says that you are coming with me."
And so it did.

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#7
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by XX.

Talmadge was beginning to wonder if his hallucinations were going to be a problem. It seemed rude to ask if the people who came from the darkness were real. They seemed to think they were, anyways. One had been a scaly green thing with a snake’s head that had attacked him with a sharp stick. The sword cut it in half in one sweep, and it had died and lain perfectly still with its red mouth open. Talmadge hoped that when he left it would never have happened.

He was in a brighter part of the catacombs now. The darkness wasn’t close enough to touch him. Proper had left, though he could hear it running through the tombs and panting. It had brought him a skull earlier, browned and missing teeth. He’d hated that skull. Proper made him keep it anyway. He’d thrown it away as soon as the wolf was gone. He’d find a new one later.

The walls here seemed to be made of ice, and the bodies were frozen in them in messy rows. Talmadge saw a woman with long golden hair twisted as if dancing. There was a dark wound on her neck that he had to brush away a layer of frost to see, and he was horrified to discover that her eyes were open. She stared at him, the ice woman, and he backed away. He wished so badly he’d never cleared the frost. She was watching. Her eyes were moving, blinking, a hallucination, a hallucination, it wasn’t real it wasn’t it wasn’t real she’s dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead

The next tunnel was warmer, but still covered in ice. He had stopped trying to look at the bodies because they were looking at him, all the dead people. They’d been put in so they were facing inwards, all in different poses otherwise. Talmadge hated them. He wanted to carve them out of the ice with his sword so they’d stop watching but he didn’t want to touch them. A white worm had crawled out of the ice and hissed at him and he’d butchered it so quickly he hadn’t thought to ask it for directions. It would have been nice to talk to someone other than Proper. He didn’t know if he remembered how to talk. All the whitecoats ever said was “go” and “stay” and “put that down immediately or we will have to use force”. They would never have given him directions.

It was eerily silent in the ice tombs. Even Proper’s panting seemed too far off, only its echoes bothering to stay. The ice did something to them. They sounded softer than Proper because Proper was always there, but these were new. A soft sound. A heartbeat. No, not a heartbeat at all: a wingbeat. Birds. There was a bird in the catacomb. Maybe it was trapped.

Talmadge had a pigeon on his head. He wondered if it was real.
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#8
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Jacquerel.

"Ow. Ow. Ow."
Vhaegar was not unfamiliar with labyrinths, he had built two of his own in fact, but as the architect of this one hadn't been him it turned out almost none of this knowledge was of any use to him.

The corridors were rather predictably lined with traps and while his levitationary nature meant that he avoided every pressure plate and tripwire without even thinking about it several were of the unavoidable magical nature, setting off as soon as he moved through an enchanted barrier or was spotted by a magical eye set into the wall. He had already been stuck with several arrows, a jet of flame had incinerated much of his cape and he'd had to hastily drop all levitation and clatter to the ground as a pile of bones to avoid an enormous spiked steel ball on a chain that swung down from a recess on a roof. He could stand a couple of wooden shafts for a while but he did not want to deal with the bother of regenerating himself from pulverised dust while trapped in a mysterious maze apparently inhabited by some "dark wizard" (hopefully it'd be the Vhaegar kind of dark wizard rather than the actively maleovalent) especially now that he had lost track of his phylactery.

The bird in question had, of course, zipped through the entire maze without any harmful incident except for when it had managed to set off traps directly in front of its pursuer, slowing him down even further. It didn't take long for the accursed animal to vanish completely into the gloom and leave its former owner completely lost. He was half tempted to just call it off and try and find a way out, but paradoxically his innate cowardice forced him onwards. He'd spent a good long while not dying and he'd be damned if he was going to do it now, what would be the point of heading out if the next iron ball to the head could actually be his last? It was at about that time he came across signs of someone else.

There were faint scrapes and footprints in the ice and (more tellingly) some kind of scavenger beast lay in several pieces across the way, its blood already cooled to a sheet of rust. It was also pocked with beakmarks. First priority was obviously finding the bird, but he'd been told that there were others here and there had been some sort of implication that they were meant to work together. Vhaegar hadn't really been thinking much about the whys of how he had arrived here much yet, getting possession of his immortality was his first priority, but maybe whoever it was would be able to help him. He sped up, the tatters of his robe brushing the tracks away as drifted across.

It wasn't long later that he came upon Talmadge, floating silently up from the darkened passage behind him. A flying skeleton, spiked with crossbow bolts in imposing armour. His voice was unexpectedly loud in the otherwise silent crypt.
"You there! Have you seen any birds?"

It was only then that he took in the scene properly and realised the aforementioned animal was right in front of him, nesting in a mess of unwashed hair. His eyes flashed with annoyance and he flexed his sharp bony fingers.
"Give me that!"

He lunged.

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#9
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

worry not it is weak and scared
it poses no threat to you
there is no reason to fear it


After the adrenaline rush tampered down, Aaron and his bat had a small conversation in which Aaron was constantly reassured that he was safe from the floating fire spirit. Amongst the points presented were how useful it would be to them, how it didn't feel like the regular flames they had seen, and how it was of course completely subservient to them. However, Aaron was assured that they would kill the damn thing when the time was right.

The spirit led the dirty boy through the corridors, to another dark room, the only light source being the spirit itself. There were ghosts. There had been ever since Aaron did whatever he did to the tentacled beast, but they didn't speak. As much as they wanted to go and ask and use him for the purposes they did not and out of fear could not.

All except for the new ghost that had appeared in the center of the room. When the old man's ghost appeared, the room illuminated as two small torches lit up on the side of the room. Before Aaron could react, he and everyone else was "Silence(d)!".

"Hmmm, so you are the hero we have been waiting for, aye? Hmm, a bit ragged and dirty for one, but no matter, no matter at all. It'll all be dealt with on its own time. Listen up lad, if you want the treasure, it won't be easy. This maze is patrolled by three brothers in armor. One of blue, one of red, and one of green. Each of them holds a piece of the key to the room you seek. Each one also has a hidden orb elsewhere in the maze, that they can teleport to at will. However, they are only one of the dangers in this room."
The old man continued to blather without a sign of stopping about all kinds of traps and all kinds of monsters. He went on and on about the exact order of things and the pro's and con's to every approach. It infuriated him.

<font size="1">why do you still stand
leave

He used a spell on me. I can't move or speak.
but you can


Aaron tried to move his arm forward, but he couldn't do it. He would be stuck here, listening to this old man forever.

dont you dare give up
move
now


With one swift, panicked, impulsive motion, Aaron's bat swung forward at the ghostly old man. It connected, and it connected hard, sending the ghost flying out of the room. The flames receded, and Aaron was once more alone. Except for his bat. And the fire elemental. And all of the many ghosts that had been standing in awe and fear. But as far as fully sentient and coherent things he could speak to, he had pretty much no options.

But he was fine with that.
He just turned around and shuffled silently back into the maze.</font>
SpoilerShow
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#10
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by XX.

Talmadge was thinking about a song.

He couldn’t remember how it went, though; was it something like this? (The skeleton lunges and he dances aside) da-ta-ta da da da da (he’s bringing up the sword) tch tch ch ch ch ch ch (he watches it flash in the light that’s not there) ck-ck-ck-ck (he swings without meaning to)

Talmadge was still humming as the flat of the blade slapped against the skeleton’s head and its head jerked in surprise. Or did he imagine that? t-t-t-ch-ch-ch-ch heard it through a window once, someone walking by the door with a music box. The only sound he’d heard in years. t-tch-ta-ta-ta-ck-ck-ck-tch-tch Talmadge had never been a good dancer. He held the sword clumsily in front of him and sidestepped around the floating skeleton, realizing with a sinking feeling that if the music stopped he would never get to hear it again.


“Give me that fucking bird,” the skeleton was saying, and he was pointing to Talmadge’s head with his bony claw. Was it still there? There were someone’s feet in his hair, but he wasn’t sure whose. Proper would woooaaahhh-ahhh-aaaaahhhh (that wasn’t how it went) Proper would always know.

“Talmadge the Tea, a terrible man, wolves in his head and a blade in his hand…”

That wasn’t the song at all, he thought sadly. Proper was getting it wrong.

“Talmadge the Tea, a miserable soul, made out of iron and pigeons and coal…”

“That’s not it!” Talmadge said frantically, waving the sword at the skeleton, who was clacking its teeth. “You’re not doing it right!”


“What the hell are you on about?” The dead man yelled. Why hadn’t Talmadge noticed his horns before now? Was he the devil? This seemed like a convoluted way to damn someone. “It’s my pigeon, idiot! Give it back!”

“Talmadge the Tea, screaming in pain!”

“That’s not it! That’s not it!”

“Talmadge the Tea, dying in vain!”

“YOU’RE SAYING IT WRONG,” Talmadge roared, and shrieked in surprise as his sword suddenly exploded into flames. He saw the skeleton leap back as well, or as close as it could come to leaping without having legs. He hoped he wasn’t hallucinating this. This made even less sense than his normal delusions.

The sword continued to burn, scarlet runes now visible in the steel. Amber light lit up the ice tomb and cast writhing shadows against the corpses frozen in the walls, almost making them appear to dance. There was no sound in the cave except for Talmadge’s panting and a soft cooing coming from somewhere on his head.

Nervously he stuck out a hand towards the floating skeleton and tried to make his mouth form a smile. “I’m Talmadge,” he said. “I think we got off to a bad start.”
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#11
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Jacquerel.

Vhaegar stared at the man in front of him in stunned disbelief. What on earth was going on here?
First he was attacked with a sword (better not have chipped that skull, the immortality magic repairs structural damage but doesn't bother fixing anything non-lethal and it takes ages to sand away any cracks) then the sword caught fire somehow (presumably magic what with the glowing runes although he was no expert on pyromancy, casing a sword in ice is far, far easier than covering it in fire and not ruining it or having it go out instantly) and now he wanted to shake hands?

If this guy hadn't been part of the whole "you're now on a quest!" lineup just a little while ago he would have dismissed him out of hand, hell probably even tried turning him into an icicle to boot so he could get that bird back, but if the weird voice hadn't been lying to him he was probably stuck with the lunatic. And he didn't think the voice had been lying, clearly the presence of both Vhaegar and... whoever this other guy was would be important for the removal of "Lord Azathoth" or whatever he was called or the engineer of the scheme wouldn't have used so much power to bring them there. And why lie to them after doing that?

It definitely wasn't his expertise but he could tell that pulling people from all over the world would take some fairly impressive magic, he had absolutely no idea where he was but that meant he would have to have been transported to somewhere fairly far away from his own manor (it was on top of a hill, he could see for miles on a clear day) and there had been no warning, no focusing runes and there was little chance he'd been anywhere near sight range for whoever had cast the spell. But if someone had the power to do that... why did they need an old man with little battle experience to go and fight this "Lord Askator" for them?

Whatever, in any case it meant he was going to have to stick around this guy and it was probably best to make sure he didn't try whacking him with that sword again.

The elderly skeleton reached out one of his own fragile hands and took Talmadge's. Talmadge stared absently at it for several seconds as if he'd forgotten what was meant to happen next and it was only just before Vhaegar was about to curse and retract his arm that he tentatively shook it.

"Talmadge... I've not heard of anyone by that name before. I am known as Vhaegar. It's... not the name I was born with, but nobody takes a wizard seriously if he's called Steve.
Do you remember what we were told before we were sent here? We have to find some 'Lord Ashkandi' or something like that and then we can all go home."

Now somewhat mollified by the fact that he wasn't being clubbed with a sword any more, he glared at the pigeon again. It seemed to have made a nest in the man's head and fallen asleep, cooing quietly to itself as it dreamed about pigeony things. The thing hadn't shown any inclination that it wanted to stick with its previous owner, but if Talmadge and he were meant to be working together then at least he'd be able to keep an eye on it, right?

"And if you're going to keep that pigeon then look after it, it's important."

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#12
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by ch00_bakka.

DifCorp had gotten lost again. The zombies were still following it, attempting hostile takeovers every few minutes. The Corp had been able to use its "negotiation" skills to fend off the undead, but it had lost its dagger several turns back and had been forced to resort to a crude club made out of a board from a coffin. It noticed a tear in the side of its suit, and some blood underneath. The medical diagnostics function in the DifCorp™ InfoGogs had been blinking for quite some time. The nanobots would take care of that. The Corp hoped. The stat block from the "Swords and Sorcery" game had said nothing about contagious zombie bites. But it also hadn't been accurate about the catacombs' layout. Either way, the Corp's host would still be useful.

The Corp noticed a change in the walls. They were actually carved, instead of natural, and some were made of bricks instead of plain stone. This was good -- it might be nearing the others it had seen earlier. It plodded slowly into the labyrinth of tunnels, not noticing the more and more frantic flashing of the medical diagnosis function on its goggles.

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#13
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Aaron had been busy. Moving seamlessly through the maze, without regard to the spirits accosting him, he and his reluctant companion had slain monsters and warriors alike. The fallen hero's joined the ranks of the slowly growing cluster of spirits guiding him. But he only barley listened. The entire time, he was keeping his bat clutched to his jacket, his thin legs focusing not on the orbs or keys, but on finding something edible.

Unfortunately, what he found was much more formidable. Glowing green like the grass outside the caverns and after the wind spirits, the Golen Guardian of the Green Orb turned directly into him.

"Alright boy I've dealt with this one..."
"...careful youngling, he is too much for you..."
"...you've just got to dodge until you can hit him in the weaker joints..."
"...WHAT ARE YOU DOING JUST STANDING THERE? RUN AWAY ASAP..."
Said the voices surrounding him, their ghostly selves feeling a thrill, even if it was just to see the boy struggle. Less unscrupulous spirits departed to the floors, hoping to avoid what would surely be the child's screams of terror.
fight
Said the voice directly into his head, moving around his ears and willing him to move on.

Blank. A map of Aaron's mind would reveal nothing but an instinctual movement. Without a thought the wild child dodged the approaching golems charge and then used the momentum of the dodge to bat the fire spirit accompanying him directly at the green guardian.

The green tint of the creature was engulfed by the forceful flames that continued to spread across the hallway. Knowing it's duty and fearing for the safety of its treasure, the golem teleported to its orb, leaving Aaron physically alone once more.


But not for long, following through the bricked wall, DiffCorp was momentarily startled by the intense flames that appeared, in the hallway ahead, only to disappear in a green flash. The sunglasses-clad being with a slug's visuals saw in its place, a young boy in a large jacket with a clinging to a metal bat. He was breathing heavily, and was very malnourished. There was no reason to fear him, but the corporation's host certainly felt something bad tingling down his spine. Despite this, it approached the boy, who it now recognized as one of the others mentioned in the beginning.

Aaron payed the Big D no heed. He was starting to grow delirious, his hunger finally overcoming the adrenaline that kept him brisk. As the corporation drew closer, his starving body began to stumble away. He was getting closer and closer to blacking out, clinging on to the walls for support, when a ghost whispered to him, telling him to move on, reassuring him that he could make it to food. With the ghost encouraging him, he crawled to the room and received a slightly rotten prize. But it was at least something.

The motherly ghost stood near Aaron. Her presence was helpful to him, giving him a warmth that he needed. It wouldn't last.
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#14
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Where the other ghosts had stood dejectedly, angry at their fate and failure, the motherly ghost that had taken a liking to the malnourished boy had been exploring.

Years ago, after her holy skills had failed to pass the forces of the catacombs that her spirit came to rest in, she explored. She kept herself tied to the Earth, learning more and more of the wretched maze in hopes of being able to pass that knowledge on to someone, anyone who could be capable of seeing her.

After guiding Aaron to some food and giving him reassurance, she began to tell him a secret that she had learned. She wrapped her ghostly arms around him, and though he did not truly feel it, his link with the spirits allowed him another moment of pure warmth. It was a scene of beauty two beings sharing a moment of slight happiness in a situation as black as the night sky.

"Child, listen to me," he voices carried a presence, even Diffcorp, having chosen to observe a while longer and despite not being able to actually see the ghost, felt that it should stay still. "Here, along these walls is a passage to the exit that you seek. I found it only after years of searching these halls. Worry not, for neither it, nor the center of the tomb house any monsters or enemies."

She released him, the moment of warmth gone, and his weakness returning. Despite his exhaustion, Aaron mustered up the strength to touch the wall. Slowly, one of the walls moved, giving way to a dark passage with a small light far in the distance. The boy and the ghost entered without another word.


What the ghost had said was true. Neither the passage nor the the goal of the four so-called hero's were areas that the monsters, enemies, or guardians would enter. However, that didn't mean that they could not enter them. While the two walked through the secret path, the green guardian had been chasing his orb. As it turned out, at this moment, three thieves had entered the catacombs in hopes of collecting a treasure beyond their dreams. Two of them had succeeded in getting the orbs without tipping off the guardian but to his surprise, the green one had appeared only moments after he had taken his prize. He ran through the maze, hoping to get to his allies before the guardian and his flames engulfed him. He went very far, but the guardian caught up and killed him. The orb that was in his thin hands slipped through his fingers, flying down into the maze faster than the guardian could run after it. After its guardian attempted and botched a teleportation, the green orb luckily made it into the hands of the late thief's allies. As soon as they set up and opened the door, they made sure the also nick the orbs because man, they looked like they were worth a lot, so many colors!

The guardians of the orb only had one single mission. Protect the orb at any cost (with of course a few provisions that, say, prevented them from hurting Lord Azeroth of course). In retrospect, this was not the best choice. The green guardian, knowing that the orb was across the door, and still unable to teleport to it due to some anomaly, only had one choice if it wished to follow its only mission.

So it broke down the door to the treasure room and proceeded to beat and kill the thieves. Once more, the orb rolled away, only this time, it was to the feet of a young boy and a ghost who had taken him under his wing.

And in one fell swoop, the ghost was slashed, removing her spirit from eternity and giving her a fate worse than death. Non-existence.

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#15
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by XX.

It isn’t an easy task to lure a hero into the Inner Sanctum of the Great Catacombs, let alone four. Things have to be arranged, enemies have to be killed, a certain level of dramatic tension has to be set in place and really it’s all just horribly inconvenient and can never seem to be resolved neatly. The thieves found that out quickly, bless their absent souls. The Guardians of the Orbs knew this and felt a certain sense of existential satisfaction when Aaron entered the chamber and voided their contracts, causing them all to simultaneously detonate in a burst of arcane light and leave behind a measly 34 gold and Small Shiny Rock each.

Aaron staggered into the Sanctum with a look of wonder on his face, trailed by the beslugged DifCorp host. The corporation was busily calculating the best angle to shoot for when it announced its discovery of this archaeological Mecca- the sword over there had to be Babylonian, albeit in remarkable condition, and wouldn’t that make for an excellent subplot when the inevitable film was made? The Cultural Relevance team was going to have a field day with this. The slug host smiled broadly out of habit. It was a good day to be in business.

The orphan’s concerns were more pedestrian. He dove mindlessly through heaps of treasure, ignoring the fat gold coins that clattered around his feet and the ornate chalices that rang like bells when he touched them. He couldn’t eat those. He felt the ghosts hovering around his shoulders (it’s coming, it’s coming, wait for it, wait for it), growing anxious as he fiercely tossed aside artifact after artifact, blind to everything that wasn’t a cup, a sword, a pendant, all the objects he dug through in search of anything that was simply food.

Something glittered at him out of the corner of his eye, and Aaron turned to see a fat red apple resting primly on a stack of gently twitching carpets. He lunged for it as if at any second it might vanish and tore into it with feral strength, nearly biting off his own fingers in the effort. He was so hungry that it took him several seconds to realize that the juice running over his fingers was blood, warm and red and soaking his hands to the bone, but he was starving, starving, and the corporation looked on in interested horror as the orphan devoured it anyway, grateful to have something in his stomach at last.

The ghosts were frantic now, and he finally took the time to listen just as one of them whispered in his ear, you’re not alone.

There was a man at the door with a sword swinging in his hand, looking worried. Behind him, a floating skeleton grumbled at a smug-looking pigeon.

As they entered, a faint chiming sound rang throughout the Sanctum and a golden light fell over the entire room. In its center a kingly statue blazed to life and rotated with a grinding of stone to face the adventurers clustered at the entrance. The corners of its mouth cracked upwards as it began to bellow in a voice made to cow the enemies of Justice,
“HAIL, WARRIORS! YOU HAVE CONQUERED THE EVIL THAT RESIDES WITHIN THESE CURSED HALLS AND PROVEN YOUR WORTH AS CHAMPIONS OF THE LIGHT! YOU HAVE DEFEATED THE GUARDIANS OF THE ORBS AND VANQUISHED THE BEARERS OF THE DEAD!…”

A child, the wolf was laughing in Talmadge’s ear. How monstrous.

“Was this what you were telling me about?” Talmadge said nervously. He rolled the sword’s hilt in his hand. “Was this it?”


there’s danger here, there’s danger, you have to run, boy you have to run, he’s here, he’s here-
don’t listen to him
listen
you have to run
YOU HAVE TO RUN


“I’m so sorry.”

“-CLAIMED THE SWORD OF THE WORLDBURNER AND TASTED THE FRUIT OF PROPHECY-”

“You seem like such a nice person,” Talmadge cried, and brought the sword down with all his might at Aaron’s neck.

Quickly, faster than anyone should have been able to move, Aaron grabbed the shoulder of the bewildered DifCorp host and shoved him forward, bracing the man’s back with his arm. He heard the rush of air as the blade hit flesh and gasped in pain as blood sprayed across his face, burning hot from the fire of the sword and running down the Corp’s back from the gaping red stump where his head used to be. He felt the tall man’s body spasm and go limp, and it fell to his feet with a sick wet thump.

Talmadge shrieked,in horror, letting the burning sword clatter to the ground. “No, no, no, no,” he wailed, dropping to his knees and shaking the corpse’s shoulders frantically as if trying to wake it. “You were the wrong one! You were the wrong one, no no no, stop! You’re not him! You’re not him at all! Stop!”

Aaron backed away stiffly, nearly tripping over DifCorp’s gently rocking head. Its glasses glittered up at him, the lifeless mouth almost smirking. From behind its ear, a small greenish slug began to crawl forward, twitching gently.

DifCorp wasn’t particularly pleased about the recent turn of events, but being a megacorporation and hundreds of years old to boot had given it a sort of laissez-faire attitude towards life. It hadn’t been particularly attached to its body, certainly not any more than an ordinary man would be to his car, and was currently mostly regretting its sudden loss of legs. The corporation was just beginning to consider an unplanned transfer to the nearby orphan child when a haunted bat came down and, without any further notice, ended that particular train of thought abruptly.
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#16
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

"And with that the heroes left the Catacombs, onto the next exciting stage of their journey.

The group suddenly found themselves scattered throughout what, to those who were familiar with the concept, resembled a Victorian town. In truth it was little larger than a village, and overshadowed by the distant silhouette of an ominious black citadel. The streets were lined with snow and upon both sides gas lamps illuminated their emptiness. The lights in the houses were extinguished and not a soul was to be seen. Here and there were items that did not seem to belong like strange brass carriages powered by clockwork buried beneath a layer of snow or grafitti renouncing the awful Lord Ashkaroth.

"The heroes journeyed through the day, arriving as night fell in the small village of Aranina. They would have to stop here for the night to regain their strength before venturing on to Lord Ashkaroth's Onyx Citadel. Entering the town they found it to be seemingly empty; no doubt the result of Lord Ashkaroth's late night curfew. They hoped that somewhere in this strange town there would be someone willing to lend them shelter during this cold night."

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fyck phytybyckyt
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#17
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 1: The Great Catacombs]
Originally posted on MSPA by Jacquerel.

The quaint little town reminded Vhaegar a fair bit of home, if he ignored the strange machinery, not the manor he'd lived in for the umpteen years since he'd managed to sidestep around death but the one he'd lived in as a kid and grown up in, and later the one he'd studied The Craft in. The houses had been similarly built and arranged, though there was a lot more glass and metal around than he would have thought possible outside the house of a very rich man and he couldn't see any people, but it was also apparently quite a late hour and there was snow on the ground so nobody in their right mind would want to be outside.
The familiarity was quite comforting and he was very glad for that, he needed it right now.

Since shuffling off the mortal coil and onto some other slightly different metaphorical spring, Vhaegar had become somewhat familiar with how the inner workings of the body looked (the rituals involved had been fairly unpleasant, and once he got tired of refreshing the enchantments that kept his flesh around he got to experience the decay first hand) and he'd even been killed a few times by wandering adventurers.
The deaths had never been real though, they were just a performance. He had been incapable of dying so there was no actual risk involved, and he always made sure he left no lasting harm on his attackers (even if he did occasionally wake up from temporary oblivion to find out that someone had put his house to the torch before leaving). The point is, he'd never been close to a death that had meant anything, at least not the death of a person, and for this one he felt at least a little responsible.

He had thought the boy was harmless.
A bit weird obviously, not all there in the head, but not dangerous either.
Yes, he'd swung his sword at Vhaegar when they first met and that hadn't been fun but he was sort of used to that reaction. He was essentially a pretty harmless old man who wanted to sit at home and read books but people still went out of their way to try and stick swords into him, it didn't surprise him in the least that a young man's first reaction after seeing him emerge from a darkened corridor filled with the walking dead was to draw a weapon. In fact he had been surprised that Talmadge had revised his opinion quite so quickly.
That just made the fact that he'd been wrong sting more.
Why had he tried to kill the kid? That boy looked practically dead already, he didn't need any help, and Vhaegar was pretty good at spotting these things. He couldn't possibly have caused any harm to anyone...

And on top of that, his pigeon was missing again. He wasn't sure it had even made the transition with him from the treasure room. It certainly wasn't good pigeon weather in any case, if it was around he hoped it had found somewhere warm to roost because he didn't really want to find out if a dead pigeon worked as a phylactery as well as a live one did.

Of course as this was the narratively appropriate moment, there was a muted cooing noise from between his ribs and a feathered head poked itself out from within his ribcage, nudged a strip of fabric out of the way and stared up at him with an unreadable avian expression drawn across its beak. He managed to grab hold of it before it had got more than ten yards away, clutching it delicately but firmly in one skeletal fist.

"And it's about time too, blasted thing.
I am really going to need a more permanent solution than this..."

He was so caught up with musing how he could keep the thing around without having to hold onto a struggling bird the whole time that he didn't notice the intricately decorated golden ring it had clutched tightly in its little talons.
The ring told the bird it should hold still and wait. It's time would come soon.

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#18
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 2: Aranina]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Cold. It was so cold.
But that was okay, Aaron liked the cold more than the heat anyway. Not that he could care, as the paranormal boy was dealing with a rapidly descending body heat and a conscious that was essentially running away. The blazer, as covering as it was, did very little to protect him from the snow's deadly embrace. As such, it was very lucky for the bloodied boy that a satyr walked on by.

"Oh my... A bloodied mouth and a black club. It is as the oracle said. I must keep him safe."


When Aaron stirred he was warm.
In an odd twist of fate, this was the least time he had felt safe twice in one day in such a long time. His teeth still felt the slightest bit of pain as he looked around to where he was. It was quaint. The room was padded with wood and the furniture was nice, nothing exactly special was going on here. He was alone. It took a moment to realize this, that he was in fact, 100% alone.

"Where is my bat?" Aaron leaped out of the bed, ignoring the lingering pain as he teared through the hut in search of his beloved object. He was even about to search outside when the satyr returned, seeing the injured boy turning his trunk upside down.

"Young lad, please, calm down, I know that you must b-" Aaron charged at the satyr and pinned him to the ground, his eyes were wild and the satyr winced at his breath.
"Where is my bat?" His arms trembled as the satyr remained still, confused and slightly scared of the prophesied hero. "WHERE?" He drew closer, gripping tighter. The satyr didn't want to harm the hero, but something here was wrong. Without much options, he reluctantly broke free of boys grip and knocked him out once more.

"Oh my... I do hope that oracle will have answers for... this."

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#19
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 2: Aranina]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

As it happened, the oracle in fact, did. Whether she wanted to share those answers was a different matter entirely.

The Oracle of Aranina, known only to a select few in the rebel's cabal, was a very knowledgeable elvish woman. Currently, looking at the bat of the supposed hero, she knew that there was much more than what met the eye. For one thing, while she shared only the most mundane and least threatening of the prophecy, there was the lack of the two other "hero's," he without flesh or bottom, and he with the hex and mind of woe. She really didn't want to let them know about that last one. However, upon seeing that one hero was no more than a boy she was even more confused.

It didn't help that when she held the bat, she felt... something else. She wasn't so sure of the legitimacy of these people as hero's, and even considered that perhaps... her visions were tampered with. She dismissed that thought as well, citing that the only way they could be is if she was known to Lord Azeroth which could only happen if there was a traitor. And there couldn't be one right?

As the Oracle dealt with her second guessing and paranoia, a familiar satyr knocked on her door.

"Oh Oracle, Oracle, I have troubling news! The hero's mind, it can not be sound!"

She allowed him entry as she replied, "What do you mean? Where is he?"
"He's asleep, I had to... do something less than scrupulous. He attacked me! Asking for his bat. He didn't even eat but he was just so strong, it was uncanny. He has the strength of a hero, truly, but even still his age is questionable."

"All will be revealed in time, is there word on any other arrivals to Aranina?"

The satyr accepted the answer, he had no reason to after all. "Yes, there seems to be a man without flesh, but still living. We do not know what to make of him, he seems fixated upon a bird. What should we do with him?"

After some silence and thought, the Oracle decided. "If he has no bottom, bring him here. Meanwhile, keep the boy fed and make sure that he doesn't leave your hut. I will call for him later. Wait a moment." She went into her closest and grabbed a baseball bat, holding it, and Aaron's bat in each hand, she used a bit of magic to turn the former into the latter. "Give him this. Bring with you a strong one, maybe Brutus, just in case it doesn't work."

The satyr accepted the bat and bowed, taking his leave. "Thank you madame."

Unsure of herself, the Oracle retreated to her room. If the skeleton that entered the town was the second hero, then she would have to be prepared. And then there was the issue of the possibility of a spy that kept nagging at her. She couldn't deny it as an option. As she waited for the hero to get back to her, the Oracle prepared a meeting of the council. She hoped that it would serve to ease her suspicions.

If only she knew what kind of bat she was dealing with, if she did, she'd know better.

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#20
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 2: Aranina]
Originally posted on MSPA by Jacquerel.

SpoilerShow

It was perhaps not in the most heroic position that our pair of rebels discovered their "prophesied hero" as they trudged slowly through the snow-covered dirt towards the village. The elderly skeleton was bent over an indistinct shape in the snow, apparently trying to unravel a length of cord from the tarpaulin protecting it from the weather but meanwhile getting the intricate bones in his fingers hopelessly tangled and knotted together. It's really not as easy to manipulate things with skeleton hands as you might imagine, things keep slipping between the holes.
Every so often he'd stop from his pitiful attempts to extract himself (accompanied by some distinctly unheroic language) to shove a deeply distressed pigeon back up into his ribs as it tried to flutter its way free, apparently having decided to take the cage-like aspect of his anatomy quite literally. As he got himself more and more tangled in his pilfered twine and paid absolutely no attention to the approaching Satyr and his hulking associate, the goat-man decided to cough politely to capture his attention.

Startled, the elderly skeleton spun around, attempting the futile gesture of hiding his hands behind his back. This simultaneously pulled the cord free of its attachment, sending the tarpaulin billowing off in the night winds and the filigreed clockwork assembly it had been covering toppling over into the snow with a loud clatter and grinding of gears.

"Aha! Natives!
I ah... do apologise for the racket only I tried knocking on the doors but it doesn't appear anyone's in.
Do you think I scared them? I am quite aware that my aspect can be rather intimidating to some, and I do hope I haven't caused any damage to ah..."

Vhaegar glanced downwards at the probably ruined piece of machinery on the ground and gave up trying to figure out what it was.
"To whatever that thing is but I simply must get some twine to tie up this infuriating animal.
Good that you're here actually, I appear to have got myself into rather a tangle. Here, hold this for a minute would you?"


Vhaegar reached into his ribcage, yanked out the frantically struggling pigeon and thrust it into the Satyr's single unoccupied hand without giving him any chance to respond. Somewhat bewildered, the satyr stared down at the bird in hope that he could discern some kind of explanation but although it looked fairly exotic (blue flames burning from the eyes aren't a staple feature of pigeons, fantasy land or not) and seemed to be clutching some kind of golden band it was acting like any ordinary bird.
It decided to try and prove this further by relieving itself on his hand.

"Sir I really must-" Vhaegar cut him off in mid sentence as if he hadn't even heard him talking.
"You know it's been so long since I've ever had an actual conversation with anyone. I'm actually fairly excited I must say!
I'm sure you must think me awfully rude to come into your village and steal your rope but if it helps it is an emergency, and besides I didn't come here of quite my own volition...
I do have quite a tidy sum of money tucked away at home but I'm afraid I can't repay you immediately, whoever brought me here neglected to send me my wallet.

But I digress, you're the first people I've met for a while who haven't taken one look at my face and done something regrettable! Apart from that boy in the dungeon I suppose, although actually he did almost knock my head off so he hardly counts. And then he killed someone! Terrible business really! How on earth are we meant to accomplish anything if we go around killing eachother?"


Vhaeger suddenly flicked both his wrists at once, creating a somewhat impressive collection of rattling and clicking noises as his knuckles bounced off each other in all directions before settling back into their correct places, dropping the piece of cord neatly onto the ground.

"Ah! That's the ticket."

Vhaegar grabbed his bird back from its temporary minder and began binding its wings to its chest with rope, humming quietly to himself as he did so. While he lacked the necessary apparatus, the odd angle of his jaw gave the distinct impression that were it possible he would have been biting his tongue in concentration.

"Sir while I am sure what you are doing is of some importance, I have a matter of great urgency to discuss with you!"
"Who me? Why didn't you say so sooner, man!?"
The Satyr graciously declined to answer that question, instead electing to count his blessings and just get on with what he had been trying to say.
"We heard of your arrival and our leader has requested to see you in person, she says that your arrival was foretold and may be of great importance. Furthermore she also instructed me to first supply you with-"
"Ah! Wait! This must be about the voice yes? The one that brought me here, and that terrible man too! And there were another two but I barely met them and one of them is dead. I'd never seen a man killed before you know? I mean I'd died myself plenty of times but it's different when it's not you. Such a waste!
Actually this reminds me of a story I heard when I was younger..."


The Satyr sighed, and tried to exchange glances with Brutus, who appeared to have fallen asleep where he stood, the bat he was meant to deliver still clutched in his other hand.
Maybe he should have just tried to knock the lich out too, this was clearly going to be a long night.
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#21
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 2: Aranina]
Originally posted on MSPA by XX.

tick .tick .tick.tick.ticka.ticka.tickatickticktickatickatick tickticktickticktick

I would prescribe no more then 3cc, any more will damage
any more will Talmadge


“Talmadge.”

But how had he gotten here?

He was lying on a floor with his coat pooled around him, the edges dipped in diamonds. No, not diamonds- he used to have a lens of diamond on his gun. That was glass. This was ice. Ice, wasn’t it? Cold as ice. He laughed and licked the floor, tasting tears. Who builds a castle of tears?

Lieutenant Tea, Psion Corps, Canis Div-

“Don’t call me that,” he heard himself snarl, and then he was on his feet and reeling under a frozen cathedral. Warped buttresses of ice and panels of glass burned his eyes with light, an icicle chandelier hung far too low over his head. “That’s not my name,” he said haltingly. He looked down at his hands, covered in frost.


“Of course it is,” she said. “And you’re a hero.”

Her voice was a river flowing under ice. She was taller than he was by at least a foot- hard not to top fivefootsevenannahalf but- she was slender as a whip and cold as the ice. Her hair, her eyes were the palest shade of blue and her skin made the frost look grey. A crown of frozen fingers rested on her head and rained down drifts of snow whenever she walked, over to him to cast her winter’s shadow over the sleeping form of Proper.

“Strangers have come to my village,” she said, drawing an icy hand over his cheek. He felt his skin blister at her touch. “In the heart of winter they have come to my little crossroads. A trio of heroes, determined to stand against my lord Ashkaroth. Do they know the doom that awaits them? Do you…?”


Talmadge’s eyes slid to the floor. Proper was sleeping soundly, curled into a ball snout-to-tail. A fiery sword glittered in its jaws.

“I know who you are,” the ice woman whispered. “I know everything about you. I am the Queen of Winter, and I see all that walks in my kingdom. You cannot stave off the hand of winter, nor will you survive the attempt- but it need not be cruel, as they say. I have need of one such as you, Talmadge.” She said his name in a foreign tongue. “Help me slay the others; I see you are no friend of theirs. I can bring you power beyond your grandest delusions. Ashkaroth remembers those who serve.”

Proper opened an eye, burning yellow against the span of ice.

Plumes of steam followed Talmadge’s words out of his mouth as he agreed with the ice woman’s plan. Was she the one, wasn’t she familiar, yes, the woman locked in the ice in the catacombs? Dancing. People change, Talmadge, people change but you don’t. No, you never will.

Proper circled his ankles, letting the sword’s blade trace a circle around his feet. Dyed in the wool, as they say. I’ve brought you so much. Its cold wolf’s snout was pressing the pommel into his hand, he couldn’t refuse. I did everything for you. I did everything for you.


The Winter Queen’s eyes widened just so slightly as Talmadge leaned on the fiery sword now grasped in his hand. He was so tired suddenly. The tip smoked and scorched as it burned its way through the ice. “Where did you- ah, I see. You’re a hero. Yes…”

She led him, unruffled, to a window of razor-thin ice facing a courtyard of frozen statues. “I sculpt one in the image of every life I give to the snow,” she said. Talmadge could see their blissful faces from here, an army of smiling animal-men-monsters. Proper laughed. “Because all too often they forget who holds the true crown. They are all clustering around some oracle now, my little spies tell me. She must be shown her place.”

She clapped her hands and there was a sound like bells; a white fawn appeared. Its eyes were black as coal. “Prepare the carriage,” she told it. The little creature yawned. “I think it is time my hero and I paid the village a visit.”


Talmadge only smiled. A wolf howled, long and loud.
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#22
Re: Mini-Grand 5109 [Round 2: Aranina]
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

So a Satyr, a Skeleton and a Brute walk into a bar, only it isn't a bar it is a house, and the skeleton doesn't really walk so much as he floats there but that's beside the point. The point is they go somewhere and what awaits them is a little ball of angry in the shape of a human. The kid, which we all know is Aaron, had been awake for a while, but couldn't get past the locked door and had resorted to wanton destruction in light of his lack of exit.

Without any fanfare, other than a note of dissatisfaction after-the-fact, Brutus dealt with him the way he knew best.


"You know I still think that you probably should have tried talking him out of his fit."
He almost wished he hadn't.

At any rate, the group, accompanied by an unconscious child, made their way back to their oracle when they were stopped in the road by a mouse.

"Sirs, sirs, I have terrible news, hurry, hurry!'
"What is it?"

"She is coming."

All it took was the chill in his voice and the Satyr and the brute knew exactly who
she was. Their look of fear was not enough for Vhaegar who continued to prattle on.
"So I assume she is someone bad? I mean, now that I think of it, you two haven't really explained much, I know that apparently I am a hero and so's that kid and the other guy, but I haven't really seen a villain per-sea and while I guess from this frozen silence you guys have going on it is this she."

"The Oracle will explain all, we must hurry."

The Oracle was fucked and she knew it.
The cards, stars, and leaves all suddenly said the exact same thing, as if every fiber of her being had walked under a ladder, been passed by a black cat, and did something stupid with salt. She didn't know what was worse, that it was happening or that she couldn't figure out anything more specific. She wasn't just a run of the mill oracle, she was The Oracle, uncertainty just was something that she had phased out of her life. Sure, she had small mysteries like, "Is there a traitor?" or "Where is that left sock?" but with the right tool that meant nothing.

She was scared, jumpy, and most of all, paranoid.
Not the best state to be in when a wanton group of people barge in, expected for a while, but at that moment, unannounced.

"Uhm, Oracle... you seem a bit... jumpy."
"Uhm well you see..."

"Why hello there Miss Oracle, it appears that you have all the answers here. Up on the table though, doesn't really seem like the best place for doing oracle things, if I recall correctly, usually you use a crystal ball or some cards or something, but I suppose every place is different and-"
"Please, time is of the essence, Oracle, Oracle, she is coming."

There was a moment of silence as The Oracle realized what all the uncertainty was about.

"Oh shit."


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