Game Thread Act IV: Hope's End - RPG Crossing
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Old Apr 28th, 2022, 10:54 PM
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Act IV: Hope's End



Hope's End Back through the misted hills and into the cursed orchard where Bollo's tree reclaimed its spot in the ground. Grigore only saying, "May be your tree, but this is his world." Feet moved as if of their own volition, the mind loathe to reject the call, to reject the invitation, of Hope's End.


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Dark stone covered in mold and mildew rose out of the dry fields and barren trees with narrow spires tipped in twisted metal poles and bricked minarets. Heavy drapes billowed in scarcely lit windows as if blown by some unfelt wind and shadows danced in that flickering light that spilled forth to cover the cobblestone grounds in a waltz of shadows. The sky that had been darkest night was now filled with roiling clouds that seemed to be swirling about one another in a silent clash of storm and tempest that had not the power or strength to reach the ground but was occasionally lit by a flash of heat lightning that briefly illuminated the vortex above. Back below, a wrought iron gate slowly swung open creating the first sounds heard since entering the grounds, letting out a wailing screech that would have made even the most evil of banshees blush in shame.

A metal door swung inward, inviting all within as the same droning compulsion drove all forward. Any look to Grigore would cause the man to avert his eyes downward as if in shame for having led Holgrim's heroes to this place, to Hope's End. A large ball room was beyond the door with arched doorways leading off into other parts of the manse and ensconced candelabras covering the walls that extended dozens of feet to the high ceilings. Those ceilings were painted with images that seemed to shift and change from slow dances of masked humans to mad frenzies of demonic creatures tearing each other limb from limb and then back to a serene scene of picnics under oak trees and then back again to the chaos of wolves slaughtering herds of sheep.

Gathered in the ball room was a large gaggle of people, all wearing fine porcelain masks which matched those worn by the party, though none could recall having been given one or having put one on. As if one cue, the crowd parted to allow the group to take the center of the room before a small procession of what looked to be servants dressed in the finest of silks carried a litter to the far end of the chamber.

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Stepping from the litter was their host, the Thistledown Gentleman. He wore a luxurious suit of the softest blue covered in exquisite golden filigree. A shock of the whitest hair stood on end atop his pale head. Unnaturally long eyebrows tufted over his eyes and extended beyond the bounds of his cheeks. He was gaunt but tall, thin but walked with a power to his stride as he moved to the center of the room in front of his guests. No words were spoken but he extended a hand to Khloe who was compelled to take it. As if on cue, the room erupted into dance to the sound of some unheard symphony giving the entire ball the creepy sound of naught but feet sliding across the marbled floor.

Each person was presented with a masked partner who would dance for a time before partners would switch. This went on for quite some time though how long was difficult to tell other than for the pain rising in the balls of the feet and the small of the back. Throughout the partner switching, the Thistledown Man never relinquished Khloe. No words were spoken but his eyes bored into hers as a smirk spread across his face. He seemed imminently pleased with his...catch.

As the rounds came and went, Zen found himself partnered with Xylie who had a strangely serene look in her eyes beneath the mask, obviously ensorcelled in some way. Then Holgrim found himself dancing with a short woman, long red hair spilling out behind a white mask that hid green eyes. Green eyes that looked to be their own. Her head moved in close to Holgrim's shoulder and a familiar voice whispered to the Lord of Leilon, "Do not react to my voice. His hold on me has lessened since your friend, Khloe arrived. He is most interested in her. He can become quite distracted when he brings new toys here. If you can help me get past his goon, I may be able to get us out of here. I've found a path."

Dandelions' eyes looked up into Holgrim's and though he was powerless to end his dance, he could feel her fingers grip him tightly as they continued their endless dance to the silent orchestra that played on into the shadowed night that forever gripped the Shadowfell and forever darkened Hope's End.

After what seemed an eternity, the Thistledown Man led Khloe to his litter which was then carried further into the mansion while the other guest all filed into a dining hall with a table laden with all manner of fine food and drink.
Once all the diners were seated, the doors slammed shut and were magically locked but all present were able to reclaim their own voices and command of their bodies.

One man approached Holgrim and said, "Gods be praised, the Lord of Leilon has come. He's come to save us he has." The man looked vaguely familiar to Holgrim. "Chester, milord. I worked the mine for a season under your leadership. You are here to free us, aren't you?" A faint memory of a missing miner flitted into Holgrim's mind. The man had been thought lost to the marshes.

Another man stood up from his seat and said in a low but stern voice, "Watch yer mouth, fool. You think he doesn't listen to what we're saying at all times? You'll be another statue out in the garden if you keep flapping your lips!"


oocUpon exiting the Catacombs of Glimpses, the Thistledown Man has invited you all to Hope's End. He is practically god in his little slice of the Shadowfell and you were powerless to resist. Once inside the mansion, you are unable to speak and are compelled to participate in the ballroom dance, though your thoughts are still your own.

Feel free to post any discussions or reactions to Okaat's disappearance during the walk from the catacombs to the mansion. You could still talk but were walking to Hope's End. Once inside the mansion, your ability to speak was taken from you. If you like, you could describe your dance clothes or your mask. You find yourself in formal attire and dressed to the t's.

After the dance, you again have your voice and control of yourselves but find yourselves trapped in the dining room. There are roughly thirty other 'guests' present including Dandelion (who seems older than just a few days). If you'd like to speak with any other guests, feel free to take any liberties you wish with who they are or where they're from.

@Khloe - next DM post will include some one on one with your character and the Thistledown Man and we'll find out why he's so happy to see you.
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Old Apr 29th, 2022, 01:36 PM
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Rubric Dos
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Rubric said very little as they approached Hope's End. He felt Father Holmgrim scratch the metal between his ears and the wolf welcomed the touch of a friend. Dos felt an emptiness after the loss of Okaat. The hobgoblin had been Rubric's Companion since he had been a living dire wolf pup. When he had died during a skirmish with forces from Luskan, it had been Okaat who had brought him back in the steel body.

Dos paced around the survivors from the lair of the Glimpse. Once he was satisfied they were safe, he moved over to Khloe. "Why did the bird lead us here?" The voice was methodical and without inflection. "What did we learn?"

I must protect them all. I must help them.

The wolf stuck to the shadows and scouted the mansion, looking for anything to help his charges.

 
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Last edited by Bluejack; Apr 29th, 2022 at 01:38 PM.
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Old May 2nd, 2022, 06:58 AM
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Father Sergeant Holgrim – loss
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Holgrim sat outside the Glimpse’s cavern, head bowed. He held Dos’s head in his hand stroking its metal head like he would with on of the mastiffs he’d unleash at the goblin ranks to rout them.

Tyr’s judgement finds me wanting. he thought reflecting on where he had led this group. Dandelion, Unos, Okaat and now Xylie Every choice wrong – too many friends The Lord of Leilon knelt as if in prayer – but in truth is was to mask his tears from those he’d led to horror and death.

”Master Holgrim, will we save Xylie?” he felt Duos’s head at his ribs.

”Yes.” the Father Sergeant said getting to his feet again. ”Xylie and Dandelion still lie ahead – and there are some that may benefit from this mission.”

”Come.” he said again, head bowed as he trudged with the group back to the forest, where his choices had meant Okaat’s death ”Let’s finish this.”


__________________________________________________ __

Dandelion! he squeezed her slightly at the waist to silently communicate the relief at finding her.


It had been a sullen trip to this obscene ball. The Lord of Leilon felt overwhelmed by his poor choices – he' been clothed in hubris along with the marks of Lordship, he’d shown his judgement was poor time and again. He made a decision - dedicate himself to bringing his comrades – and Xylie and Dandelion home, then he would lay down his office. He was not worthy – his future would lie in service, not leadership.


But the sight of Dandelion and the feel of her in his arms woke that duty. His service would be to lead them out, whatever that took.

”Gods be praised, the Lord of Leilon has come … to save us he has.” one of the guests said when the Thistledown man left the room

I accept your charge, Chester, I will lead us from this place

”Watch your mouth, fool …” another of the ball-prisoners spoke up ”You think he doesn’t listen to what we are saying at all times?”

Holgrim looked around the room. They were cowed, they needed hope.

”Of course he listens.” he stood, towering over the man who had objected ”Maybe he reads our unsaid thoughts too. But that does not matter. We are leaving this place – all of us.” he put out an arm to Dandelion ”Dandelion, you stay by my side at all times – I have sworn to return you and so I shall.” he looked back up at the faces that were now paying him attention.

”This Thistledown Man knows I am here to lead you out – that is no secret to him. And fear not – he will take no action against you without getting past me first.”


The Lord of Leilon still knew how to present an intimidating form. With a powerful stance, he held the Anvil on both hands, the bloodlike-rust stain of his icon decorating his tabard, and he looked across the crowd, assessing their spirits and connecting with each in turn.

”But I must know more of where we are. Chester – do not be afraid. Each of you do not be afraid. Eternity in this hall at his whim is none of our fate if we act together. Be brave, have heart – Tyr’s servant, the Lord of Leilon will deliver us. But I need to know what you know.”

He pulled up a chair, then gestured them join him. With a group gathered around him, he spoke again ”Now, five things …” he counted off on his fingers
”Situation – what is this place? Literally, this room. The doors are locked, can we open them – the walls, the roof, are they a route out. When do they return, is it predictable?”

He grasped his second finger ”Opponents. Who dwells here that will stop us. And what else besides creatures? How many of them? How do they react if we resist? How are they weak – and mark well everyone is weak. Even the Thistledown Man – what powers does he hold, and has any seen where those weaknesses lay.”

Then he moved to the third finger ”Lessons. What have you tried. Tell me in detail – what did you do, what happened, what have you learned. Every failed effort is just a step towards victory if you mark your lessons well.”

Fourth finger ”Next. What do we know of outside this hall? If we make good our first step, then what next – what are the challenges that lay beyond this door that can take us beyond the reach of this Thistledown man?”

”And finally …” he grasped his thumb ”… we need to return to our plane. Where? Do we know of any routes from the Shadowfell? I’d rather avoid where we came in. If any know of routes we can target, share it now.”
He sat back and listened carefully to their responses, questioning details carefully, assessing the strategy for the coming fight.




ooc
Really - if he survives this Holgrim is either going errant or hermit!


 


 

Last edited by Jon; May 4th, 2022 at 03:30 PM.
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Old May 2nd, 2022, 02:23 PM
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Castles in the Sky
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They were compelled, either by magicks of a fowl nature, or curiosity most unwise, to approach the dark castle before them. A tower of dark stone, covered in mold and mildew, a dank moistness that permeated the air trying to twist the soul like the twisted metal poles that held the spindly towers, towers whose pennants hung limp and forlorn.

The door spread wide as they approached, inviting them in, past the grand stair case, past the multitudes of dining rooms and hallways, pulling them towards a ballroom of magnificence and aplomb accoutrements. Once lavish curtains draped the walls and windows, formerly plush chairs lined the walls.
The room was just filled with people dancing, gliding, very little to no talking though. Even the paintings above and tapestries below appeared to shadow the rhythmic dances of the living.

It was a masked ball of some kind. Each dancer wore upon their visage a porcelain mask. She remembered back to a pair of twins who used to be on the trapeze and wore black porcelain masks. Very fragile things, but pretty if polished to a gloss. A very effective mode of concealing one's identity though if you were familiar enough with the other person, you could still identify them.

These were shaped like animals, from hawks to wolves, to seals, to otters. Each dancer had their own mask, and each masked dancer was both a uniqueness but also just a piece of the whole body as they all danced together swapping partners at appropriate intervals.

She was enthralled like the rest, and found herself dancing with the Master of the House. He wore a garb of luxurious pale blue and white, ruffles and petty gemstones gilded his outfit from collar to boot. He moved with the assurance of one used to being in command of his station and with lack of self-awareness or shame. The two of them melded their step-patterns to better accentuate the characteristics of the music; competing with each other while complimenting each other in the process. Her skill and training in dance and acrobatics giving her just enough edge to keep up with the quickly transitioning music as the two engaged in more difficult maneuvers, a pair of warring lovers on the dance floor, incorporating others as needed as they danced for dominance upon the polished marble.


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Old May 2nd, 2022, 04:58 PM
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Bollo Poppindwyer
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Bollo left the labyrinth cave, thankful for finding the exit from the torturous chamber but confused by Grigore’s reference to his tree. The druid laid his hand on the oddly placed tree, wondering what exactly the vagabond meant. Regardless, Bollo followed along with the rest of his companions… drawn inexorably forward… not of their own volition.

It seemed that the time had come to meet the Thistledown Man and so meet him they would. The firbolg did not try to fight the compulsion drawing him forward, he knew that to do so would be useless. The power on display here was beyond anything the druid could conjure.

The fear within Bollo, a fear he usually succeeded at submerging deep within himself… upon entering the lair of their host… it burst free. Never before had Bollo felt so powerless… a mannequin danced across the floor. A puppet for the Thistledown Man… a source of perverted entertainment… but for how long. How long until Bollo and his companions would be tossed aside in pursuit of novel pleasure.

The swirling storms in the dark skies above, Bollo felt the interplay of electrons in the air… the building electrical spark… the lightning streaking through the clouds. Bollo felt it all… but now his senses were deadened… he could feel… but not interact. To the druid this was the most egregious insult. To take away his inborn freedom, the freedom inherent in nature and turn him into an automaton… a machine.

Disgust filled Bollo at his fate… and at the same time this disgust hovered around Okaats fate. The hobgoblin had somehow disappeared within the caves and now his mechanic creature had achieved some facsimile of intelligence. Bollo was confused… thoroughly. And in the midst of all this confusion, the Thistledown Man made his appearance wearing the cloak of gentility as if that could mask the stench of evil that reeked from the man.

Bollo was still powerless… unable to react but his heart leapt from his chest as he saw Klhoe drawn deeper into the man’s web. Bollo saw his dress… saw that he was painted in the guise of a civilized man… a man Bollo never professed a desire to be. He longed to rip the confining clothes from his body… and the mask was something else all together. Looking into the mirrors about the room as he was forced to twirl about, Bollo saw that his mask was made of steel… steel made into the visage of an extinct bear species that the druid had desperately tried to save from overhunting. The weight of it burned his skin and Bollo felt as if he was being branded.

As the dance turned into dinner, Bollo felt self-control return to his limbs… to his tongue. He listened as Holgrim summed up the situation. “We need to retrieve Khloe. How are we to do that when the Thistledown Man controls our very limbs on a whim? Look at the girl, Dandelion… she has aged in her time here. What talents do we bring to bear against such naked power?"



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Last edited by Begon Ugo; May 2nd, 2022 at 07:05 PM.
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Old May 11th, 2022, 06:38 PM
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Nightmares
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Zhou Zen (Silver Finch)
As soon as Zhou Zen he stepped foot upon the surface of the Plane of Shadows with his companions, he had been sure that they had all stepped into a nightmare. Now, as the group stepped through the opened gate of Hope's End, Zen was beyond sure that they were all stepping into a nightmare within a nightmare. Darkness all around; in the stands of barren trees, on the ground that somehow did not open up and eat them alive, in the swirling sky above them...ominous and sparking clouds hovering, hovering.

Darkness. All around. Everywhere.

Another nightmare about to begin.

Another nightmare.

The door to the manner opened.

Another nightmare ready to begin.


The eerie, shuffling waltz began and Zen found himself unable to speak. He looked to his dancing partner, Xylie, and into her eyes...strange looking eyes for one taken away and made a plaything. Very strange, Zen attempted to say, but the words remained in his mind.

He looked to Khloe. Then back to Xylie. Back to Khloe. Dancers switched. Partners found new partners. Again, Zen looked to Khloe. She remained with the manor's master. Time and time again, she remained with the manor's master.



Zen's ability to speak returned as some of those in the party were swept away and seemingly locked in another room. "Important questions the Father Sergeant asks," he said to those many souls lost and imprisoned within the Shadowfell. "Important questions, indeed."

Zen then looked into the eyes of each of those prisoners as he thought of Okaat's fate, then glanced at friend-Bollo and frowned.

"Truly, a nightmare," he said. "A nightmare that we must end."



 


 
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Old May 16th, 2022, 08:11 AM
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Hope's End
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Rallying himself around his own self-conviction, Holgrim pushed aside all the self-doubt that had been building up during his time in the Shadowfell. What had transpired was over, it was done. He could only control the problems before him and the cleric set his mind to solving them. ”Situation – what is this place? Literally, this room. The doors are locked, can we open them – the walls, the roof, are they a route out. When do they return, is it predictable? Opponents. Who dwells here that will stop us. And what else besides creatures? How many of them? How do they react if we resist? How are they weak – and mark well everyone is weak. Even the Thistledown Man – what powers does he hold, and has any seen where those weaknesses lay. Lessons. What have you tried. Tell me in detail – what did you do, what happened, what have you learned. Every failed effort is just a step towards victory if you mark your lessons well. Next. What do we know of outside this hall? If we make good our first step, then what next – what are the challenges that lay beyond this door that can take us beyond the reach of this Thistledown man? And finally, we need to return to our plane. Where? Do we know of any routes from the Shadowfell? I’d rather avoid where we came in. If any know of routes we can target, share it now.”

Dandelion approached Holgrim, pulling up a chair to sit directly across from him. She had grown from the girl he remembered back in Leilon to a young woman. How horrible to have spent such a transformative period of one's life in such a place. He did not, however, see sorrow or pity or misery in her eyes but a wisdom that one would attribute to a military veteran or aged politician. Her time spent here had aged her, certainly, but it had also sharpened her mind, her wit, her attitude and her insight. She knew this place. She had studied this place. She had been the Thistledown Man's favored guest for quite some time and had been given freedoms that the others could never have dreamed of.

"His power over you is driven by his attention paid to you. Your arrival sparked his interest, therefore he completely claimed you. He seems taken by your friend, I remember her from the night of the banquet. If she keeps him distracted, we may feel his grip over us subside. As far as escaping this room, you will not. Throw a chair through a window, the window will shatter, the chair will break but they will reform before your eyes. Leave by a door and re-enter by another. It is simply the way of this room, but there are others that behave in a more mundane manner. At some point the doors leading from this room will open and we will have access to the wing of the mansion with the guest rooms. We are given far more governance in that area." She leaned in close to Holgrim's ear. So close he could feel the warmth of her breath and the air used in her speech tickled the hairs within his ear. "I have even found passages that lead outside...but we must be patient and careful in their use. His lap dog is always prowling about."

Quickly, Dandelin stood and gestured toward the table. "Might as well eat and keep your strength up. The food is quite good."



right-aligned image

The litter holding Khloe and the Thistledown Man left the ball room and passed through several rooms that seemed to hold no function other than to display works of art. Paintings lined the walls and carved statues decorated raised pedestals but Khloe felt compelled to keep her eyes glued to her host and could only see what was outside the litter through her periphery. He leaned in close and he smelled of clove and liquorice, "I admit I am quite taken with you but despite all of your visual charms, there is one thing you possess that interests me greatly. I know you went to see the Glimpse and that you came from there with a memory you did not have prior." The litter came to a stop and gently set itself upon the ground. Khloe was powerless but to accept the Thistledown Man's hand as he extended it to aid her in stepping outside of the litter. The servants who had carried it slowly departed back the way they had come, leaving the pair in a small atrium, the roof of which opened to the dark roiling sky. "I'd like to reveal something to you."

Still holding hands, the pair slowly rose in the air, up through the roof to a short balcony on the roof at the back side of the manor. If the front was possessed of the failed trappings that could remind one of home, the back was a horrid example of what the Shadowfell truly was. A bog of putrid gray water steamed noxious fumes amid an endless expanse of marsh where dwelt all manor of twisted creature. Some had only one leg and no arms so that they had to struggle to keep their mutated heads out of the water why flopping about to provide locomotion. Others were so bent and crooked as to make walking in a straight line nearly impossible. As the horror of it all soaked into Khloe's mind, the Thistle Down Man waved a hand and the sky parted revealing an even blacker truth above the cloud cover. At first, it merely seemed just a black void but the longer Khloe looked, the more the truth was revealed. She was looking at the palm of an outstretched hand. It was impossibly dark but the one could detect its outline as it was darker than even the black night sky. A spindly arm led up to a shoulder that was like exposed black muscle. This led to a neck that looked unfinished, as if individuals veins and arteries were exterior to the neck itself. Atop of this was a horned head, the face of which was some macabre or alien failed expression of what a face should be. It towered over the entire manor, like a mountain would tower over a small hamlet in the hills.

Waving his hand again, the Thistle Down Man allowed the cloud cover to reclaim the sky, erasing the horrid visage of the creature above and let fall his control over Khloe's body. "This place is my prison. I was once a being of color and beauty such as yourself but this world has sapped me of that vividness, that creature has devoured my soul, bit by bit, until there is naught left of me but this pale visage you see before you. I thought I could bend this world to my whims and I succeeded for awhile...until It found me...trapped me here and began to feed off of me."

"Will you help me? We can end this nightmare...both of us...together."
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Old May 19th, 2022, 02:49 PM
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Castles in the Sky
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They absconded, Khloe half in a trance and the thistledown man. Somehow her garb had been transmogrified into a sweeping gown with the hue of jasmine, over which lay a bodice of carmine crushed velvet laced tightly to accentuate her natural accoutrements, the billowing folds of her dress overlaid with another of black and carmine lace; heeled boots and white gloves completed the look reflecting her spun copper hair, it's comb, and the brilliance of her eyes as they walked.

Illusion it was, illusion it may be, but it was illusion that would normally have had the lass looking for a quick silver to look into, if not that, then certainly the long hallways through rooms freshly painted with the finest frescos, the softest tapestries weaving tales of woe and weal, furniture crafted by the finest artisans. Yet despite all the beauty around her, despite the vile darkness, the spiders and bats she knew in the back of her mind must exist somewhere, the twistedness of a place covered in illusion and lies; she felt compelled to look at and think of nothing more than the man who stood before her; doublet toyingly undone at the top button, flaring bow tie, a jacket of soft pine green with what appeared to be oak leaves carved from the cured skins of calf and lamb. His violent eyebrows emoted his very nature to her, yet still she was compelled to follow, not to touch, not to smell, just follow and listen.

Khloe's heart thudded in her chest as she calmly walked down the halls.

"I admit I am quite taken with you but despite all of your visual charms, there is one thing you possess that interests me greatly. I know you went to see the Glimpse and that you came from there with a memory you did not have prior." the smell of licorice and cloves, the deep sultry voice like coffee pouring through ice caused her to try and take a deep breath, but the illusion was too real and her chest caught on the illusory laces almost causing her to have the vespers. Yet she recovered.

Her mind wanted to know, her mind wanted to run, her body was enthralled, yet her katra knew there was more to what was happening. Matriarchs be with me. she soundlessly called from her mind. They were dead of course, but she imagined they watched her still and even if they were powerless to assist, it was better to call for aid and not get it, than not call for aid when aid was available.

The roof creaked and groaned, then cracked open and slid back like an old drawer that had not been opened for many eons. Stone dust, cobwebs, and other particulate wafted down as the mighty universe, it's myriad of stars, nebulae, planets, and the realm of the very goddesses and gods themselves were revealed in all their magnificent splendor.

"I'd like to reveal something to you." he called, teasingly as if from a minor distance, calling her back to his attention. A call she could not refuse though she greatly desired to do so.

She looked up into his eyes, the amber pools of her irises watered with the glistening moisture of innocence. A contrast these two - the young acrobat and the wizened maester of the manor.

He took her hands, gently, softly as if lovers, but without consent. As he did so the earth itself fell from beneath her feet as he lowered the castle down around them; drawing the heavens down around them as he did so.

As the sky descended down upon her it too split open, like the roof above, as a primordial being, a being which appeared to be a mix of both khaos and erebos; chaos and darkness intertwined in the darkest dark that ever existed. A hand so dark that the eye rolled off it unseeing only glimpsing the faint edges where starlight ended and hand began, was outstretched before her.

Then the horned beast receded. The pair of them floated with great haste downward once more as clouds unfurled above them once again. Then the castle arose from the depths from which it had been abandoned, rising to meet the two beings until their feet were gently supported by the balcony. Wrapped around the bannister were encircled with trachelospermum jasminoides (the star jasmine), it's glossy evergreen leaves and deliciously fragrant white flowers beckoning them closer and embracing them gently.

Again the man looked down into her eyes. It was a look of a man who felt like he could leap from whence he stood and dive into her eyes like a champion diver off a cliff.

"This place is my prison. I was once a being of color and beauty such as yourself but this world has sapped me of that vividness, that creature has devoured my soul, bit by bit, until there is naught left of me but this pale visage you see before you. I thought I could bend this world to my whims and I succeeded for awhile...until It found me...trapped me here and began to feed off of me." He said, obvious lament in his voice.

Was this for sooth or a lie? She felt horribly out of her depth, drawn to WANT to believe him. The heartstrings of her soul pulled mightily on the young acrobat, but he had drawn so many here over the years and he had muddled her mind to draw her here.

"Will you help me? We can end this nightmare...both of us...together." The hook was cast, the die fallen through the tower.

On one hand a dragon stood, righteous and pure holding back the tides of night. Yet yonder stood evidence of this man's attempts to bring beauty into the world as well. Was he vile or kind? Certainly even the sociopath could convince a young lady of great education to give up the protection of family and friend and waltz into the swamp unaided and to her doom; yet still no one truly evil could envision such beauty as he had attempted. Then again, the dragon had obvious love affair with him as well, could be his act of evil had only but opened the door allowing the beast over head entrance into his life - like the warlock of fable, perhaps the pact forged was not of his making nor choice but that he truly did need to be free?

Did not all men deserve a chance at redemption? Yet even so, why did he effect to assume she had such control? Merely because she had seen the glimpse and walked unscathed?

Her words were quiet, dwarfed in the magnitude of the mansion about them. They held her convictions, but they floated like butterflies upon the southern zephyrs to the ears; the sweet nectar retained to moisten the ear that hears. "You show me great and mighty wonders, m'Lord. Beauty and craftsmanship the like I have never before been exposed too. You speak gently and quietly, and truly the horror above; this lady Nyx or similar beast; does instill despair and doom.

My heart yearns to restore upon you redemption, but not redemption of slices but of the whole. Not just redemption from a beast or a burden, but the innocence that comes from being freed from all beasts, all burdens; a full restoration of the katra. A complete freedom from that which twists you thusly, m'Lord. Yet even I know that one cannot truly be free from the grip of evil if one harbors even the slightest evils within one's heart. You must, in the deepest bowels of your heart, yearn to be a good man. A good ruler over your lands, a good maester of those who have entrusted their lives to you.

Truly, m'Lord, I say to you that there is no fate but what we make. Convince me that you desire to be a boon to this world and I will go to the ends of myself and beyond to help you achieve freedom from your plagues. Else, I pray, even if the cost be my freedom to leave, let the others go and I, and I alone, will watch as you decay into whatever evil form that being has in mind for you. "


She stood there, her chest heaving with fear and desperation against the illusory gown he had clothed her in. The smell of jasmine, was that illusory as well, or were the flowers real? Where were the matriarchs she had called upon - they had beseeched her not long yonder to teach him the secret dance. Could they not break her from this trance of the body so she could flee into the darkness?

She wanted to mention the dragon that, to this day, pined away for her lover. Yet still she hesitated. Would he be receptive or would he lash out angrily? Men were such fickle folk, needing the most tenderness of touches to guide them along the right path. If she mistepped now, she might never have another chance.


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Okay, so I might have waxed on a bit overly much...


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  #9  
Old May 21st, 2022, 05:11 AM
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Father Sergeant Holgrim – loss
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Holgrim listened carefully to Dandelion. The strength of the youth – it always impressed him. Here was Lord of Leilon beset by doubt – grasping for ways out – and this girl, who had been kidnapped and taken to this same hell, calmly recounting what she had learned. Even found.

”You are a resourceful and wise girl Dandelion – I look forward to seeing what you will do as a woman. You grow to be an impressive citizen” he stood and followed her to the table.

”Come Duos … let’s see if we have a morsel for you.” Father Sergeant called over to Duos ”A dog is such company – tell me, does the Thistledown man keep any? Maybe one in these rooms?” Holgrim looked significantly.


ooc
Ie is the ‘lap dog’ here – and which one?


 


 
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Old May 21st, 2022, 07:29 PM
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Bollo Poppindwyer
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Dandelin stood and gestured toward the table. "Might as well eat and keep your strength up. The food is quite good." Bollo sneered at Dandelion, his look perhaps more harsh than he meant it to be as he shook his head and looked over the food that was on offer.

The firbolg removed a sprig of mistletoe from his hip pouch and poured a single drop of water onto the small leaf. He squeezed the moisture and leaf together in his fist and when he opened it again, ten juicy berries lay in his hand.

“I would not trust the nourishment that the Thistledown man provides. I would think that everything that man provides is illusionary and in the end harmful. These berries will provide more than enough nourishment for you… they are pure and only one is more than enough for you to sleep well at night.”

Bollo offered the berries to his companions, unsure if they would be useful for the metallic wolf. He looked at the wolf as Holgrim spoke to the construct and the druid was at a loss.

“Rubric… forgive me but I must ask a question. Okaat… what has become of him? Of you?"


OocCast Goodberry

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Last edited by Begon Ugo; May 21st, 2022 at 07:33 PM.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 04:08 PM
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Trust & Questions
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Zhou Zen (Silver Finch)
"You use the word 'trust' once again, friend-Bollo," Zen said to the towering firbolg. "Trust. Something that has eluded us since we arrived here in the Plane of Shadows. It has eluded us, indeed." The old man then took a berry from the druid's enormous hand and popped it into his mustache and beard covered mouth. He nodded to Bollo after a chew and said, "Delicious. Thank you."

And there, next to Zen and his friends, was the reason they had travelled so very far from home. The reason they had fought off darkness and death. The reason they had also accepted death in order to reach inside a place that they were never supposed to see. The reason Okaat was now...lost? The reason...

Dandelion.

There was no arguing that the young lady was beautiful, although not as young as she had been mere days ago. Not even close. The old man addressed her.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Dandelion. I am Zhou Zen, but known to some as Silver Finch." Zen bowed slowly, stood upright again and smiled widely at his newest friend. "You may call me Zen or Silver Finch or Old Man...or whatever you wish. Heh. Some queries for you, young lady...since you have been in this place and close to our...'host'...for some time. What is in store for our friend, Khloe? Can you venture a guess as to where this Thistledown Man might have taken her? And for what purpose he has done so? Hmmm?"

Zen's squinting smile remained for Dandelion to peruse as he awaited any information the young lady might share with those that sought to bring her home.



 


 
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Old Jun 2nd, 2022, 08:04 AM
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Hope's End
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Bollo passed out his goodberries as a replacement for the suspect food provided by the Thistledown Man which his companions consumed, including Dandelion. Most of the other 'guests' merely ate the same food they had been eating for days, months, years, decades. It was hard for any to know for sure how long they had been there. Questions were directed at Dandelion about their hosts lap dog and the girl elaborated a bit. "The hobo with long greasy black hair and rusted scale mail. Pale as the night's moon, a miserable cur. He's made some manner of deal with the Thistledown Man for he is not constrained as the rest of us are. I believe he collects lost souls in this realm and brings them here and ensures the guests of Hope's End do not leave. Not that we often have enough of our own free will to do so. Whatever plan we make to escape will surely have to go through him if it is to succeed. Do not underestimate him. I have seen him cleave more than one man in twain with that massive sword he carries upon his back."




"You show me great and mighty wonders, m'Lord. Beauty and craftsmanship the like I have never before been exposed too. You speak gently and quietly, and truly the horror above; this lady Nyx or similar beast; does instill despair and doom.

My heart yearns to restore upon you redemption, but not redemption of slices but of the whole. Not just redemption from a beast or a burden, but the innocence that comes from being freed from all beasts, all burdens; a full restoration of the katra. A complete freedom from that which twists you thusly, m'Lord. Yet even I know that one cannot truly be free from the grip of evil if one harbors even the slightest evils within one's heart. You must, in the deepest bowels of your heart, yearn to be a good man. A good ruler over your lands, a good maester of those who have entrusted their lives to you.

Truly, m'Lord, I say to you that there is no fate but what we make. Convince me that you desire to be a boon to this world and I will go to the ends of myself and beyond to help you achieve freedom from your plagues. Else, I pray, even if the cost be my freedom to leave, let the others go and I, and I alone, will watch as you decay into whatever evil form that being has in mind for you."


A single tear fell upon the Thistledown Man's cheek as Khloe spoke. He knew in his shriveled heart that he deserved no such faith from one whom he had brought here against her will but he saw his chance to finally end his horrid existence in the Shadowfell. A giant grin crossed his face and he responded, "When the cursed chains that bind me to this realm are broken all are free to leave, brave Khloe, gracious Khloe, compassionate Khloe. First, we must dance. You must teach me the Tannakha-Bachata, so that together we can elude my captor."




Meal had finished and the prisoners of Hope's End were expecting the doors to open ushering them to their sleeping chambers but there was a delay. When finally the doors did open, it was to the hall leading back to the ball room. Once again freedom was stolen from limbs as legs moved back to the dance hall. This time, however, was different than the last. Quite different for those who had danced innumerable dances. There were no eloquent gowns or tailored suits, no masks, no powdered wigs. Holgrim's armor creaked and groaned, Xylie's chainmail swayed and jingled and Bollo's hair remained unkempt rather than brushed and shaped and Zen retained his eastern garb rather than a swift change to more western styles. The master of Hope's End quickly emerged from the direction he had stolen Khloe with the girl upon his arm and the pair quickly set about dancing a strange dance that did not match the normal pacing of the silent symphony. This dance was far more primal, as if each movement were somehow a dedication to the sprits of earth and sky. They were all swept up in this strange new motion, learning along with the puppet master as Khloe shared her knowledge of the Tannakha-Bachata with the Thistledown Man. His eyes fixed upon the dancer before him, the Thistledown Man spoke in a deep and raspy voice that was filled with hope and desire, his eyes locked upon Khloe with a gleam of hope the girl had not seen before, "We are all going to be free."
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  #13  
Old Jun 7th, 2022, 10:49 AM
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Disciple of Mechanus-Hobmodron
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Okaat Tharr
There was no order to the Glimpse. Okaat's mind shattered in an instant of intense chaos. Too many possibilities. The infinite in a mortal mind.

The Glimpse coalesced dark tendrils into a shadow mass within the stone chamber. A few remained extended like feeding proboscises that probes each orifice. The hobgoblin still lived, but the tendrils had no mercy while they extended into the nose, the mouth, the ears. The Glimpse saw most other Okaat's had never escaped the modrons. Trapped in Mechanus, the artificer became a terrible monolithic force of order. A general fighting the devils in Acheron. The battles against the Jester dwarfed in comparison. So many dark Okaat Tharrs.

The Glimpse felt a nearly imperceptible snicker push forth from a black pseudomouth. That this mortal would dare to come into its realm. The tendrils reached into each glimpse, pulling small bits of Okaat Tharr from those highly probable selves. They replaced and consumed this pathetic version. The glimpses devoured the toymaker. They feasted on the friend. They tasted the sadness and rage of Okaat's loss.

Through a tiny crack in the wall, the Glimpse flowed away, its perverse work done. Okaat's breath was ragged, but present. His skin was tinged dark. His eyes were a deep, dark violet. His ragged voice spoke.

"0. 1. 01. 10. 11. 001. 100. 010...."

"0rDer."

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Old Jun 12th, 2022, 06:03 AM
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Father Sergeant Holgrim – something was about to happen
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Holgrim set down his plate and chewed thoughtfully on the goodberry. He put a hand on Bollo’s elbow, thanking him then adding, quietly ”Dandelion warns of Grigore – the Thistledown man’s spy she says. If it turns badly, watch him. I’ll confront Thistledown, you watch my back.”

He passed through the crowd, passing the same warning to his companions.


So by the time they were at the dance again, Holgrim paid no mind to the perversity of such elegant moves by a crowd so shop-soiled by toil and travail. All his attention was on two figures. Grigore, the vagabond destined to betray them and the Thistledown Man who it appeared had bewitched young Khloe.

Holgrim steered through the flow of dancers, letting their movements carry him to within an elbow’s length of the pair. We are all going to be free he heard this strange creature say. So the Lord of Leilon gave his comrades a significant nod. His hand idly grasped the Anvil.

Something was about to happen, and they were ready.


ooc



 


 
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Old Jun 12th, 2022, 10:27 AM
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Bollo Poppindwyer
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The pulp of Bollo’s goodberries lasted quite a while within one’s mouth… if one wanted it to… and Bollo did. He wanted the small bit of reality to remain… to remind him of the ongoing farce that he was being forced to be a part of.

Free will… it was a sacred concept to the druid. Live and let live… live until you die. But here in the Shadowfell, free will was not even an illusion.

Bollo danced… he had no choice in the matter. The Thistledown man promised freedom but it was sure to be a poisonous pill… most likely freedom meant death for the mortals invited to the charade. Bollo merely nodded at Holgrim’s warnings.

Bollo would choose death rather than to exist in someone else's nightmarish memories.


OocBollo is at 29/67 hp.

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