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Tei

Blood of a Necromancer

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yay. new post! good new post. even better.

"Okay, you’re back to normal. Making sarcastic, literal plays on words.” wonderful line that.

see? i told you all i wouldn't be able to kill him...

Ah, now that's a major difference between us... I have no problem with killing my characters- especially the ones I love the most. In fact, for one of my stories, BOTH of my favorite characters will die before the story's end. Of course... I do generally twist it. >D

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Sam: heh, Kaz and i used to have contests in each others stories to see who could be first the most...

 

Kaz: yeah, i almost forgot what i added XD i had to go back and look.

 

lj: oy, i basically only use the names XD i'm considering posting one of my completely originals though...and you want to talk about there being more? that's only page 94 out of 160 XD

 

Marian: i can't. there's the difference...well, i can't premenantly kill them, anyways XD make them vampires, no problem. seriously injure them...ha. endlessly.

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Marian: my point exactly. I can't permanently kill my characters...but i have no problem with making them undead XD

 

Sam: that's my trick, Nanghaithya just borrowed it XD regarding next installment...

 

Marian again: i like it! "reality is standable when you make it a joke" I may have to put that quote in my signiture XD

 

STORY CONTINUES HERE

 

“Well…I was until you said that…what makes you think we can’t take him?”

 

“Shival almost destroyed us. You, Tei’jal, Rashnu, Daun’tei…”

 

“Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine? Maybe we were tired.”

 

“And maybe he was stronger than we had thought,” Nanghaithya returned. “It’s a major risk.”

 

“You know I don’t care if it’s a risk or not. We’ll do it.”

 

Nanghaithya sighed. “I appreciate your enthusiasm, Derez, but you’re getting cocky. Look at it this way: Shival was an Elite Demon. Ahriman controlled Shival, which means he must have been multiple times stronger. Shival almost killed us all. Ahriman was strong enough to control seven Daevas. At once. Elini let us out of her control when she summoned all of us.”

 

“Then we should take him out before he does something else despicable,” I cut in. Derez and Nanghaithya both looked at me.

 

“I hear you, he needs to die, but…” Nanghaithya seemed to be weakening to our argument.

 

“But what? You don’t think we should be the ones to do it?” Derez asked.

 

“I think we’re some of the strongest people--Humans, Demons, Vampires, Druids, whatever--in the Isles,” I said. “I don’t think anyone else would be able to get that far.”

 

“That’s probably true…all right, fine…give me some time to recover first, but I’ll come with you.”

 

“So there’s types of Demons?” I asked, suddenly changing the subject. “Like you’re a Fire and Earth Demon?”

 

“Er…yes…there’s more to it than that though. I’m a Fire type, Earth subtype. Sauvra is a Fire type, Air subtype…there’s the types and the subtypes. The types are always the basic elements--Earth, Air, Water, Fire. The subtypes can be variations on that--like Lightning and Ice instead of Air and Water. Agas is an Air-Lightning Demon, Indra is a Water-Ice Demon, etcetera.”

 

“What type is Ahriman?”

 

“Oh…Goddess…who knows? Given a guess I would say probably Earth and Fire in some combination…but that’s just a guess. Honestly, I have no clue.”

 

“So…what does this type and subtype mean?”

 

“Mainly it affects the type of spells you cast and at what power. Almost like an Orb Staff. Like my Fire and Earth spells are powerful, but my Water and Air spells aren’t. Especially Water. Like I use Earthquake, Fireball, that kind of thing because my types lend themselves to it. I can pull off the others, but with difficulty.”

 

“What type would be mind-influencing spells?”

 

“Just about any Demon could do that,” he said. “It’s the kind of situation where the more you practice, the better you get. Like Poison, Plague and Charm. Tawrich practiced Plague endlessly on whatever he could find. It ended in him always being able to Plague things and very, very effectively at that.”

 

“We learned the hard way,” I said. “He has a strong Poison spell too.”

 

“What?” Derez asked, looking at me with a look that clearly said, “If you know from experience, I’ll kill Tawrich.”

 

“Tawrich Poisoned me and Plagued Lars when we went to get back Aramati’s soul. No call to kill him--we’re both alive.”

 

“But still…how dare he…”

 

“He was only doing his job,” I said, patting him on the arm. “He didn’t bargain on having to deal with you wanting to kill him. Calm down.”

 

“I don’t want to calm down! He tried to hurt you--”

 

“Anyways,” Nanghaithya interrupted before Derez could get any further with his thoughts about killing Tawrich, “Supposedly spells like that will hit Ahriman very, very hard. Plague, Poison, Weevil, Decompose, Blight…the whole nine yards. So if we worked on using those on him…both you and Lars have strong Plague spells, and Rashnu and Tawrich have the most powerful Poison spells I have ever seen.

 

“You can say that again,” I muttered. “Anyways, so how long is it going to take you to heal?”

 

“How am I supposed to know? Longer than a few days. Give it a week and we’ll see how I feel. Meanwhile, you can rest, practice spells and forms…you’ll find something to do, I’m sure.”

 

Rashnu then came in, with a cup in hand. “I see a certain Demon finally woke up,” he said gently, kneeling with us on the floor. “How are you feeling?”

 

“Decent enough,” he said. “What’s in the cup?”

 

“You already know,” Rashnu said with a small smile. “I can see it that smirk that you know I’ll never change.”

 

“Forcing me to drink this, that, or the other potion? What is this time?”

 

“It’ll help with any after-effects of that poison that you insist upon steeping your knives in.”

 

“Oh.” Nanghaithya drank it in one swallow, coughed once, and made a face. Rashnu smiled slightly. “I suppose this is one if the times that it’s obvious that I’m younger than you, eh?”

 

“You’re younger than him?” Derez asked. Both Rashnu and Nanghaithya nodded.

 

“He was a journeyman when I met him,” Nanghaithya said.

 

“Journeyman?”

 

“Yeah…this was back when there were levels to Necromancy. Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman, Necromancer. Anyways, I’m from Veldt--you knew that--but the schools in Veldt were physical-strength-oriented, and I wasn’t a very healthy child…and not to mention I’m a Sorcerer. So my parents sent me Shadwood Academy, where I was an oddball, being from Veldt--all the girls thought I was so exotic, they were all over me. Rashnu, you wondered why I’m bisexual? That would be it.--, and basically the star student. Then Daun’tei came, looking for apprentices--yes, Derez, we did used to hand-select our apprentices, not just take anyone we could get--and they showed me off. And he decided that I’d make a good Necromancer.”

 

“Unlike me, who has a story similar to yours,” Rashnu said, looking at Derez. “I went to Shadwood, passed the journeyman trials, then I was supposedly involved in some scandal or the other, so I ran away.”

 

“What’s with you and being involved with scandals? You were involved with the whole Luna thing--” Nanghaithya began to tease.

 

“Hush you. So Daun’tei found me the same way Tei’jal found you--laying half-dead on the ground, that is. So when Nanghaithya was brought to us, I was kind of his older brother.”

 

“And then he insisted that I take the position as next High Necromancer.”

 

“Rashnu, what do you know about Ahriman?” I asked.

 

“Plotting another quest already?” he asked, mostly playfully.

 

“Yeah. Might as well take out Ahriman before he destroys the world, right?”

 

Rashnu laughed. “Right. Well…I’d say I don’t know much more than you do.”

 

“Anything more than us?”

 

“Well…here’s what I know. He’s evil incarnate. He’s strong. He was an Elite Mage before he was a Demon. He can control seven Demon-Daevas and several Elite Demons at once. He has powerful versions of Daeva spells--Sauvra’s Scorch is about a quarter of Ahriman’s Scorch Exora, etcetera…this form of him was basically Lord Zorom’s body possessed by Ahriman’s spirit…you do know about Zorom, don’t you?”

 

“No,” I said.

 

“Time for a history lesson,” Nanghaithya said. “Make yourselves comfortable.”

 

Rashnu ignored Nanghaithya’s comments. “Zorom was the younger prince of Candar, near Thias. He supposedly attempted to assassinate Prince Edward, who took the throne. So he was banished, and wanted revenge, so he tried to revive Ahriman. He failed, Ahriman took his body, essentially devoured it, and…became Ahriman as we know him. Talia, Jack, Devin, Alicia, Fredrick, Haddan… they were all involved with that. And as we know, they failed to kill him. So that was your history lesson for the day.”

 

“I think we can take him,” I said.

 

“The Necromancers and Elite Mages have always been rivals…” Derez said, sighing slightly. “This will be wonderful…”

 

“Hey, he didn’t kill me, did he?” Nanghaithya asked. “Obviously I’m a Necromancer. He hates me, but that isn’t much of a problem I suppose. He’ll hate all of us when this is over. But what will it matter? He’ll be dead.”

 

“That’s the Nanghaithya I know,” Rashnu said. “Always a touch of dark humor.”

 

“Of course,” he said. “But it’s true. I hope.”

 

ENND CONTINUATION

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That's great. I can just see Tawrich going around "Plague", "Plague", "Plague" until he did it "effectively".

 

What more possessed people? Really can't anyone do their dirty work in their own body?

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yay, history!

sorry, that's all i've got. XD except bravo on posting so quickly (making up for lost time, are we?...)

 

Tawrich Poisoned me and Plagued Lars when we went to get back Aramati’s soul.
must have been quite gruesome. :lol: (sorry, couldn't resist.)

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XD. I'd be honored to have you use my statement in your siggie, Tei. Just make sure you give credit. ;):P

Now as for the story... hehe. I love witty banter and blunt, almost curveball subject changes... so I of course loved this update.

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*gasp* I'm caught up again. (Sorry for wandering away from fanfic reading--I was reading books. Because books are cool. ^.^)

 

Anyway...

Shival was obviously getting irritated with Rashnu’s flippant answers. “Say anything, Druid, anything at all…one more word…”

Rashnu smiled and said sarcastically, “Anything, Druid, anything at all…one more word…”

...I definitely remember that. :D

 

Okay, I'm back... So hurry up and post more. Uzga seems to be approaching. (Poor Lars.)

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This was... a bit different from what I read before. I think. Or is it just because I don't remember? I especially don't remember Nanghaithya and Wyr'run loving each other. Is Nanghaithya a girl now?

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I like this one, lots of describing of costumes i'd love to make/wear ^^

 

Marian: jinxed us XD

 

Agas: XD no, Nanghaithya is not a girl. as rena said, although out of habit i use "yaoi" as opposed to "slash" (my friends and i would always confuse each other by using different terms to say the same thing XD) don't ask where it came from--my characters have a mind of their own.

 

Rena: man, you have NO idea XD I think i might be turning into another KTC

 

STORY CONTINUE HERE

 

The week passed uneventfully…Nanghaithya rested, the rest of us did as he predicted we would--rest and practice spells and forms. Between the day after we got home and the day we left for Veldt, I think Lars had learned ten new spells--most of which Derez said he hoped he’d never need.

 

As we got ready to leave for Veldt, we started plotting about what we should do in the way of who would come. Derez wouldn’t let me go alone, Nanghaithya insisted Elini come along so the Daevas could “give Ahriman a well-deserved…hello” and wouldn’t let Derez go without his protection. Rhen had to come, being the Chosen One of Ahriman’s Prophecy. Dameon wouldn’t let her go without him--and Nanghaithya also said that Dameon should go, although he wouldn’t say why. Lars insisted on coming also, but he wouldn’t let Ludmilla come.

 

“You’re a strong fighter, Ludmilla…but I don’t want to risk anything happening to you.”

 

“Lars…I’m worried though…I don’t want you to go alone…” she hugged him tightly. “I don’t want you to get hurt…”

 

“You call this alone?” I laughed. “If this is alone then I’d like to know what with a group looks like.”

 

Ludmilla stuck out her tongue at me. “Very funny, Tei’jal…all right, fine, you can go, but if anything happens to you…”

 

“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

 

“But I have to worry…”

 

“You worry as much as Luna,” Rashnu’s voice said suddenly. “My Goddess, she was about to chain me to a wall to keep me from going, I swear to it.” I looked at Rashnu, a bit surprised.

 

I don’t know if I could describe what Rashnu now looked like. Druids aren’t allowed to wear metal armor--not to mention it interferes with their spells--so a Druid in battle armor doesn’t look quite like what you would normally think of when you think “battle armor”. Actually, he looked quite a bit more like a Necromancer than he normally did. His normal headband was replaced by a silver circlet, engraved in Runic and Elvish all the way around it. The leather bracers were replaced by spiked ironwood ones (ironwood is wood that was enchanted to be as strong as iron, so Druids can wear it). Under his linen robes, he wore leather armor that fit tightly to his skin--the collar and sleeves peeked out. Studded leather gauntlets covered the backs of his hands. In short, he didn’t look much like Rashnu.

 

“Now why weren’t you dressed like this for taking on Shival? You might not have gotten as badly hurt!” Daun’tei exclaimed. He wasn’t battle-ready at all. Nanghaithya and Rashnu insisted that he stay behind. (“One huge battle was more than enough for your leg for a while.”)

 

“Luna said the exact same thing. Do you know how long it takes to get into armor if you haven’t worn anything like it in two and a half centuries? Do you know how long it takes to find armor you haven’t worn in two and half centuries? Where do you think I was for the past hour and a half?”

 

“Are you seriously telling me that’s your old practice clothes?”

 

“It looks like it,” Nanghaithya said, grabbing Rashnu’s arm and examining the leather. “I can’t believe this still fits you. And I thought Wyr’run fitting into his for years on end was impressive. The last time you wore this had to be when you were initiated as a Druid…”

 

Daun’tei laughed. “Nanghaithya, he was so small when he came to me, the smallest set of robes trailed a good four inches on the floor. I think that was the smallest set of clothes I had. You were small too, but at least we didn’t have to pin your robes so you wouldn’t trip with every step.”

 

“Where’s Derez?” I asked, suddenly somewhat suspicious of what other clothes had been dragged out of the closet.

 

“Right here,” he said from behind me. I turned.

 

“True Necromancer” would put it mildly. A True Necromancer is basically an extremely powerful Necromancer--typically evil but not necessarily. Derez was also wearing leather under his robes. Only not his normal robes--I assume those still had bloodstains in them. These robes were black, patterned with spider webs that looked like they were made of metal. His normal linen cloak was replaced by leather. I’m still not sure if I thought he was handsome or downright menacing.

 

“Are we trying to kill Ahriman from surprise?” I asked after a minute, trying to absorb the shock of seeing him like that.

 

He laughed coldly. “No. We’re trying not to get killed. If you ever see Rashnu or I in this armor again, it’ll be when Hell freezes over.”

 

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” a voice said from behind us. All of us jumped, particularly Rashnu. “He said that when we sealed the Demon Portal.”

 

“Daena? What are you doing here?” Rashnu asked.

 

“I figured I’d come to see you off,” she said, kissing Rashnu on the cheek. His ears turned red. “Be careful, Druid Brother. I’d hate to see anything happen to you…”

 

“I’ll be fine, Sister,” he said quietly. “We defeated Shival, we can take Ahriman.”

 

“But Shival was under Ahriman’s control. Don’t forget,” she added, “Ahriman controlled--”

 

“Nanghaithya already gave us this speech,” Lars said. Ludmilla hung on his arm. “Controlled seven Daevas and a few Elite Demons at once.”

 

“And all his lesser Demons. Even Uzga the--”

 

“Angel of Nightmares,” Rashnu cut in. “We’ve heard about her too.”

 

“I’d be careful about her,” Daena half-smiled. “She seems to have a thing for Daevas and Daeva-status Necromancers…one of her Angels of Death has a thing for Druids too. Just to warn you.”

 

Great,” Nanghaithya moaned. “Nobody summon Agas, and please hide me, when we see her…she took a fancy to both of us at a point…”

 

“She what?” Lars asked. “You’re married, Nanghaithya!”

 

“I was married,” he corrected. “Besides, it doesn’t matter if I was married or not--it doesn’t matter if I’m bisexual or not--she can still like me. Honestly it was a rather frightening experience when she started hitting on Agas…” I, and everyone else in the room pretended to ignore the part about him being bisexual. I vaguely hoped that he was just making a point, but then remembered everything else he had jabbed at about it.

 

“Let’s end this conversation before it gets too out-of-hand,” Derez said, a slight pink tinge appearing high on his cheekbones. “Did you really only come to wish us luck?” he added, directing the comment at Daena.

 

“No,” she said. “I wish I had. Rashnu, can I talk to you?”

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“Just come,” she said, taking him by the arm. They talked for a few minutes, Rashnu looking uneasy and Daena looking somewhere between sad and hopeful. After they were done talking, Daena disappeared--probably back to her shrine via a Traveling Rune--and Rashnu rejoined us.

 

“What was all that then?” I asked.

 

“Nothing…nothing you need to worry about right now…” he said softly, shaking his head a little bit. “It shouldn’t be important.”

 

“Oh well. Tell me anyways.”

 

Rashnu waved his hand vaguely in the air. “Just…not important…don’t worry about it. Forget anything ever happened.”

 

I reluctantly dropped the subject as we did our final preparations for fighting Ahriman. Daun’tei sharpened the Sword of Shadows--not that it really needed it--for Rhen, then John and my rapiers. John was wielding an Elven Rapier, and I, a Skull Rapier that Rashnu had enchanted a long time ago. Leave it to him to come up with something like that.

 

“I still wish I had managed to get Elven bones into that rapier,” he said as I swung it around to get used to it again. “Drow blood would have been nice, too.”

 

“Never mind that--you got everything else,” I said.

 

“What’s “everything else”?” Nanghaithya asked, holding out his hand. I gave him the sword. “Darkness take me, Rashnu! This thing is practically Demonic! What’s in it?”

 

“Bat bones for luck, wolf bones for strength, Shade’s blood for magic, Druid blood--same idea-- Elf blood--don’t anyone ask how I got my hands on that-- Demon blood--yes, Nanghaithya, that’s what I asked you for blood for--for outright power…um, let me see…there was more…Recently I added a piece of one of those cutlass-like swords those black things were carrying…”

 

Daun’tei laughed. “One would think you were a High Necromancer at one point. Not only are you a skilled alchemist, apparently you can make powerful weapons too.”

 

“Now that you know all that,” Rashnu said, taking something from his pocket, “Imagine what this does.” It looked a bit like a soul pendant, but at the same time, obviously wasn’t. The pendant itself was a gold octagon, with a bloodstone shaped--fittingly--like a drop of blood and decorative silver chains forming an “X” across it. He fastened it around my neck. I felt…different. More powerful. And excited to battle Ahriman.

 

“What is that?” Nanghaithya laid his fingertips on it, then gasped. “Rashnu, what the--what have you been experimenting with?” he cried. “That is a Demonic object!”

 

“That,” Derez said, examining closely, “Is the holy symbol of Afflux. Rashnu, where the hell did you get this thing?”

 

The faintest trace of a guilty smile appeared on Rashnu’s face. “Listen to your own question.”

 

“You did not, seriously, get that thing--”

 

“Being the Dark One has advantages,” he said. “Advantages like being able to handle Demonic objects with ease. Yes, that is an artifact from the Abyss.”

 

“Abyss?” I asked. “And what’s Afflux? I’m so confused.”

 

“Afflux is the God of Necromancy, in essence, him and Wee Jas, and for some reason, I think there was another…Nerull? Evening Glory? Lolth? Ah, someone,” Nanghaithya murmured, touching the pendant lightly.

 

“Not Lolth. Lolth is spiders and Drows and entirely too creepy for my taste. And when you can creep out the Dark One, that’s pretty bad,” Rashnu said. “Besides, Lolth is what I consider to be a false Goddess. Something more like a very wicked Demoness. Someone really ought to kill her…avenge that Drow weapons master who gave his life in his wife and daughter’s sacrifice to her to protect his son…the only two decent Drow I know, him and his son. Regarding the other God of Necromancy--Kiliara. And Demi-God Masana Iiyami.”

 

“As for the Abyss…it’s…the Demon Realm is the first level of the Abyss. The second level is the Land of Fallen Souls, essentially Hell. The third level is something else, the fourth something else, and so on,” Nanghaithya finished, more or less ignoring Rashnu’s mini-dissertation on Lolth.

 

“How many levels are there?” I asked.

 

“Infinite.”

 

“What?”

 

“The Infinite Levels of the Abyss is more infamous than I think you realize,” Rashnu said, directed at me. “As for that particular object…yes, I toyed with it a little.”

 

“What precisely did you do to it?” Derez asked, examining again. “Normally even a Demonic amulet of Afflux wouldn’t have this powerful of an aura…”

 

Rashnu smiled slightly. “That’s where my messing around comes in.”

 

“What did you add?”

 

“That is for me to know and you to wonder,” he said coolly. “Now then, are we ready to go?”

 

Nanghaithya looked critically at us. Derez, Rhen and Rashnu were the only ones who looked truly battle-ready (Rhen was wearing full-plate armor), although the rest of us did look more aggressive than usual. Lars’s normal wool cloak was replaced with studded leather, but looked otherwise the same. I was wearing studded black dragon-leather armor--very tough, albeit a bit tight, as I hadn’t worn in it many years. Elini was wearing similar armor. John was wearing…not armor, specifically. He looked much more like a pirate than he usually did though. In short, oiled gears for war.

 

END CONTINUATION

 

god, i love those costumes ^^

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Costumes made for battle. ^.^ All that black leather... *happy sigh*

 

(What? Black leather is cool.)

 

Lolth? The one who turns Drow into driders if she feels like it/you annoy her? Ew.

^Not sure if that's reallly what happens, but it certainly happens in BG2. *shrug*

 

"The Dark One." Ooh, ominous. :D

 

I remember that Abyss talk... Not a lot of what else happened in this one, though. Weird.

 

Anyway... Always a good when you update, it being a great story and all. ^.^

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would have happened even if i hadn't typed it... the universe hates me. This stuff is inevitable. *sigh*

anyway, pretty good update. :) love the story part.... there were a lot of grammatical mistakes in this one though. o.o didn't expect that.

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Yes, black leather ^^ black leather is fun.

 

Yep, that's the Lolth. (if she feels like it XD yep, that's definately her)

 

That abyss stuff will be important...eventually... XD

 

Marian: were there really? i didn't edit this one quite as much a the others...it was early and i was in a hurry. which one bugged you the most?

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erm... which one... there were a lot of I/me mix ups that drove me up a wall. That was the main thing. There were a few other things but... I can't even remember those. It was just... a ton of me/I things that were totally messed.

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"Doesn't that kind of apply to you and I?"

 

"You and ME."

 

"Whatever."

 

--Adelaide and Srg. Sarah, Guys and Dolls XD

 

I'm horrible about that I/me thing. always have been, always will be XD (i love commas, though, my friends used to call me the evil spirit of the comma)

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yeah. you normally have some... but this one was loaded with them. Ah well... those buggers are hard... and I'm not exactly reading this to proof it.

lol. I'm the Queen of Ellipses.

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Commas, Cliffhangers, and...ah, there was another one that i'm known for. Spelling, that's it.

 

...one of my friends had me test his game and I kept saying, "You need a comma. That's spelled wrong." he finally goes, "are you playing it or proofreading it!?" he's so fun to annoy XD

 

lj: yes, fashion ^^ my idea exactly. I would LOVE to make those costumes...too bad leather is expensive. i saw a cloak like the one that derez was wearing (and a character named Kevice wears, but he turns up later) at the renaissance faire and it was $1500 O.o it was purple and black and GORGEOUS. sorta like THIS

 

except a little different...

 

Marian: ... XD

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XD... nice...

>.>

<.<

... ^_^

ok... enough with the overboard ellipses... for now... if I decide to be good. >D

spelling... yeah I'm pretty annoying with that too. heh... I'm surprised, actually, that basset hasn't asked me if I'm reading her story or proofreading it yet.

Nice cloak. XD

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the company is Miles Tonne. Google it and you'll come up with their website. I should think it would anyways. (they have some sketchy stuff, but the cloaks are wickedly awesome. but $1500!? O.o WAAAAAY too much to spend on a cloak)

 

Rena: two chapters from now, Uzga appears. be happy XD

 

KAZ IF YOU ARE STILL ON THE PLANET: this is where that "i DID swear up and down" line came from.

 

...no one expect my grammar to have gotten any better here, by the way XD

 

STORY CONTINUES HERE

 

Rashnu took a Rune from his box as he finished packing his bag--it turned out to be filled with potions, ingredients, and Runes. “Ready?”

 

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I said. “Rhen? Ready to go?”

 

“We’ll go with that,” she said, looking more than a little nervous. Rashnu smiled gently and patted her shoulder.

 

“Alicia would be proud of you,” he softly said in his “calming” voice. He has voices for calming, angry, bored, sad, happy, teasing…basically all emotions and then some. “And the Ancient Guardians too.”

 

“Ancient Guardians?”

 

“Avhren, Serenia, Golumn, Lehvus, Secubus…The Guardians of the Relics. Pieces of Agea. Sort of like the Druids, only…different.”

 

“The Relics? Agea?”

 

“Talia didn’t tell you this?”

 

“No.”

 

“Agea was an artifact of great power. It was really quite a bit like the Sword of Shadows. It was divided into seven pieces, which were guarded by the Ancient Guardians. Avhren was a Vampress who guarded the Death Relic. Serenia was a princess who guarded the Passion Relic. Golumn was a golem (creative name, eh?) that guarded the Earth Relic. Lehvus was a dragon who guarded the Fire Relic. Secubus was a succubus (more creative names) that guarded the Sea Relic. The Dreamer guarded the Dream Relic. It took all of them as well as High Priestess Gevolda to fuse them into Agea which was in turn used to delay Ahriman.”

 

“So basically you took their places?”

 

“Er…Dreamer is the only position that carried over from the Old Ways. Although is suppose you could say that Avhren was my predecessor, Serenia was Vohu Manah’s predecessor, Lehvus was Erithea’s, Secubus was Daena’s, etcetera. But there are more Druids than Ancient Guardians. Anyways, we should get going.”

 

“Avhren was an Ancient Guardian?” Daun’tei asked. “Really?”

 

“Yes. Why?”

 

“I went out with her for a while. I wondered where she ran off too.”

 

“Apparently to guard the Death Relic,” I said. “Now let’s go.”

 

Luna kissed Rashnu’s cheek. “Be careful.”

 

“Don’t worry.”

 

“Let’s not go through this again,” Derez said when Luna opened her mouth to respond to Rashnu telling her not to worry. “Shall we go?” Rashnu held out the Rune.

 

Veldt!

 

 

When we appeared in Veldt, it was…chaos, to say the least. Elini and Nanghaithya gasped the loudest. Armored soldiers were rushing around. Some buildings looked like they had been set aflame prior to our arrival. The Queen was being guarded by at least ten men--according to Elini, most were her husbands. Nanghaithya approached her, falling to his knees out of respect as he got close.

 

“My Queen,” he said softly, more respectfully than usual.

 

“Sorcerer,” she said, somewhat calmly. I could tell she had recently been crying.

 

“What happened here, majesty?”

 

“The…creatures, they…they…there!” she shrieked, pointing behind us. We turned.

 

“Darkness take me, more?” Nanghaithya half-asked, drawing his needle knives.

 

“What are they?” one of the Queen’s husbands asked.

 

“They’re called Stohs Nhiktoi. Undead warriors,” Rashnu said, taking a bow made of the same material as my rapier from his back and readying an onyx-tipped arrow. “They can only be killed by piercing or slashing their foreheads.” The Queen was sobbing hysterically. Apparently it was these Undead warriors that had caused so much destruction in Veldt.

 

Nanghaithya began the battle by taking off toward one of them at a full sprint, knives flashing in the Veldonian sunlight. Derez took a dagger from his shoe and also flung himself at the warriors. I drew my rapier. Rashnu drew his bow tightly.

 

Alla fsif noe!” he cried, aiming his arrow at the forehead of the closest Stohs Nhiktoi. It fell immediately when the arrow hit. Of course it did--Rashnu has fatal aim.

 

Amazingly, so did the rest.

 

“How did you do that?” Nanghaithya asked as he and Derez sheathed their knives. Derez’s ears turned slightly red. I sheathed my rapier. “That was incredible!”

 

“The words “alla fsif noe” roughly translate to “fall as if one”. When spoken in the Ancient language, they turn into a spell.”

 

“That was cool,” Lars said, staring at Rashnu’s bow then at the fallen Stohs Nhiktoi. “You have to teach me how to do that.” Rashnu smiled slightly.

 

“Good to know you’re enthusiastic,” he said. “Now that that problem is solved, on toward the Demon Caves.”

 

We walked through the desert toward the Caves. I found out then that I hate deserts. Rashnu actually put on the hood that was attached to his Druid robes--he used it so rarely I’d forgotten it was even there--simply to keep the sun of his face.

 

“It’s not like I’ll get any hotter, my hair is as black as the hood anyways,” he said when Nanghaithya told him to take it off or he’d get heatstroke. “I think the sun would be more likely to give me heatstroke.”

 

“It doesn’t really matter now,” Derez said. “There.”

 

Not very far ahead of us was the opening to a cave. The Demon Caves. I could tell by the sign posted outside them, written in Erithea’s distinct handwriting:

 

Demva Onkes

Thro Nsol Melpe

Vagabe!!

 

Demon Caves

Stronghold Temple

BEWARE!!

 

Rashnu laughed slightly. “Only Erithea would possibly say, “Stronghold Temple, Beware,” in the same breath,” he said, shaking his head slightly and smiling. Rhen looked nervously at the sign.

 

“We’ve been in here before,” Dameon reminded her gently.

 

“Yeah…but if this is the way to Ahriman’s Liar…the monsters here were so powerful…”

 

“Whatever is in the Lair we can think about when we get there,” Lars said.

 

“Let’s get out of the sun--it’s giving me a headache,” Nanghaithya said.

 

“I thought you’re from Veldt,” Elini said.

 

“I am. But if I haven’t been here in a century, a lot of good it does me.”

 

We stepped into the cool, dark caves and were immediately surrounded by Imps--small, vicious, green-and-pink creatures that dwell exclusively in the Demon Caves.

 

Shredder,” Nanghaithya said calmly. The Imps flew in all directions for a moment, then disappeared. I noticed blood splattered on the ground that I was quite sure hadn’t been there before Nanghaithya spoke. Lars stared.

 

“Where did you learn this stuff?”

 

“The same place you did, and with years of practice,” he said.

 

“What level spell was that?”

“Annihilator, ninety-nine,” he said. “Last guild spell they teach. You could probably learn it if I felt like teaching you.”

 

“Ninety-nine?”

 

“It’s the equivalent of Death, basically,” Derez cut in. “Except from the Annihilator’s guild.”

 

“Oh…then can you teach me?”

 

“Eventually,” Nanghaithya said. “But for now…we have a Lair to get into.”

 

Rashnu took the lead as we searched the caves--as little searching as was actually involved--for Stronghold Temple. He knew exactly where he was going. Rhen kept looking around us nervously.

 

“Maybe we should hurry up. Or maybe we should leave. Or maybe we should--”

 

“Relax,” Derez finished for her. “We’ll be fine.”

 

“I have some calming draught in my bag,” Nanghaithya said, sounding bored.

 

“I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” Rashnu said. “Look.” Before us stood a large stone temple. Stronghold Temple. Rashnu took Nanghaithya by the arm before we went any further.

 

“Feeling… friendly, Rashnu?” he asked, looking at Rashnu’s hand. “I thought you swore up and down you didn’t have a crush on me.”

 

“I did swear up and down I don’t have a crush on you, and it’s true. Daun’tei made that up for his own amusement. She’d try to rip you apart if I’m not physically escorting you,” he said. “Didn’t you hear what she said to Sauvra?”

 

“Yeah,” Nanghaithya smiled slightly. “Something about “I’ll rip you apart with my bare hands, Demon!”. Goddess, he wouldn’t shut up about it.”

 

“I’m sure the rest of you were laughing until you couldn’t breathe properly,” I said.

 

“Oh yes. But only when he wasn’t around to complain about that too.”

 

“Demon!” A voice suddenly shouted. Nanghaithya bowed his head as Erithea came flying down the temple steps with a sword drawn--I recognized it as the Sword of Might. Rashnu tightened his grip. Nanghaithya clung somewhat.

 

“Easy, Erithea. He’s with me.”

 

“But he’s a Demon!”

 

“Yes, I’m aware of that. But he’s also one of my best friends. Allow us to pass, Sister, please.”

 

“Pass into where?”

 

Rashnu smiled slightly. “That’s enough acting from you, Erithea. You know full well where we need to go.”

 

“Why in the name of Goddess would I let a Demon into Ahriman’s Lair?”

 

“Because of the Rebellion,” Nanghaithya murmured. Erithea rushed forward and grabbed him by the front of his cloak. She was almost as tall as him.

 

“What Rebellion? What is he talking about, Rashnu?”

 

“I have no idea,” Rashnu said. “What are you talking about?”

 

“The Rebellion…the Daevas are going to turn on Ahriman. Crush him.”

 

“That is what the Chosen One is for,” Erithea said shortly. “Why do you have to go through with them?”

 

“Because he knows the way,” Rashnu said, suddenly taking his ceremonial knife from his belt and putting it to Nanghaithya’s throat. Nanghaithya tensed involuntarily, looking betrayed. Derez seemed to be using every ounce of his being to keep from forcefully removing the knife from Rashnu’s hand. “And if you don’t let us pass with him--”

 

“Do you think he matters to me? Kill him for all my cares in the world!”

 

“I had no intention of that,” he said calmly. Nanghaithya relaxed slightly. “I could send him back to the Demon Realm, though. And summon him again once we’re inside the Lair. So it’s a lose-lose situation Erithea--Either you let him pass easily, or we do it the hard way.”

 

Erithea sheathed her sword--finally. “All right, all right.” she grabbed Nanghaithya’s other arm and started dragging them through the temple with us following. I wasn’t sure why she did that until we stepped inside.

 

Nanghaithya cried out softly, as if the temple itself had hurt him. Derez looked alarmed. Rashnu put both his arms around Nanghaithya’s waist and pulled him forward, despite his moaning and trying to escape. Erithea stopped outside a locked door in the basement and let go of Nanghaithya’s arm for a moment. He bit down on his lips but couldn’t keep from screaming. Rashnu shifted his grip and held him gently to his shoulder to comfort him. Erithea searched all of her pockets, then took Nanghaithya’s arm again. He relaxed slightly, not screaming anymore but still trembling in pain and moaning.

 

“Rhen has the key,” Erithea said.

 

“This key?” Rhen asked, holding up a small gold and lapis key.

 

“Yes, that one.” Erithea seized it from her hand. When she opened the door to the Lair, I felt a hot, humid, sulfur-smelling blast of stale air hit my face and coughed. I hate the smell of sulfur. “Good luck to you then. Rashnu, you’d better come out alive. I told you what happened to the other Dark Ones.”

 

“Other--” I started to ask.

 

“Thank you, Erithea,” he said, pushing Nanghaithya into the Lair first then giving his Druid Sister a quick hug.

 

“Come on,” Nanghaithya said, no longer tortured by the magical properties of Stronghold Temple. I think Rashnu’s Shrine is the only one that won’t hurt him at all. He had once mentioned a pounding headache from Vohu Manah’s Shrine, and the whole of Land’s End. “Let’s not wait around forever.”

 

The rest of us followed quietly into the Lair. Derez grasped my hand tightly. Rashnu started walking very close to Nanghaithya.

 

I heard a door shut and lock behind us.

 

END CONTINUATION

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