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  #121  
Old 03-10-2019, 12:36 PM
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Still recovering a bit from Mealstone's unexpected insight, the salamander turned his full attention to Cassel's words rather than his meal. A knowing smile crept out thinly at Cassel's recommendation to share knowledge, and widened a bit at the reason. Yet it was short-lived, as uncertainty clouded his gray features at talk of a pyramid and 'complete mastery'. Which gave way to confusion at mention of worlds and advancement.

Mealstone had relaxed his tense posture somewhat as the words flowed past. He was rarely a fan of Cassel's pontificating, and this particular diatribe certainly landed in that category. Yet the margoyle was loathe to interrupt, moreso than usual, after the painfully awkward results of his previous comment. So he merely turned his head slightly away from the warlock and closed his eyes, apparently waiting it out.

"I must admit that your logic confounds me." the salamander admitted with regret. "The same number of people have the knowledge in question whether you buy, trade, or take it from them. The only difference is the nature of the exchange, not the results of it." he went on, albeit slowing his words towards the end. He then raised a hand, seemingly to forestall interruption, but then moved the hand to cover his abdomen. In addition, he no longer looked 'well', instead seeming to be in some distress. He closed his toothy mouth, with his thin lips pressed tight, while his head bowed in concentration.

"I ... need ...." was as far as that statement got, before the salamander abruptly rose and hurried towards the door with an ever increasing pace, exiting with all the haste of the building being on fire. Which only earned a vague glance of curiosity from some of the other patrons, but caused no stir.

"A fair point." Mealstone muttered under his breath as he stared at the table.
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  #122  
Old 08-27-2019, 06:37 PM
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Cassel’s thoughts went unbidden to his long lost familiar. In time past, he would have dispatched his serpent to follow the salamander. Walking after the poor fellow seemed so… pedestrian. Still, he pushed his chair away from the table and stood, angling towards the door with a huff. His cape fluttered, but not distinctly. His hair shifted, but not with flair; he shoved it out of his eyes like it was a petulant child. Things were different before. Better.

Used to bePower coursed through him. Naturally. Why would he have it any other way? He was floating in an aura of silvery flame, toes pointed downwards with his arms stretched out. In truth, it was not much more than a vain expression of magical effort intended to intimidate. The power was there, but it had no focus. No purpose. He was tied to the positive material plane, but the gate was refusing to close completely. He enjoyed it, of course. The power was making him something else.

Beyond humanity. Beyond mortal.

That was the direction he had always longed to pursue. He never felt like he belonged to this realm. The people were basic, mundane. The limitations of law; the judgement of others; restrictions of moral code. The lack of respect. He felt like he belonged to a different set of principles. Might makes right. Although he never wanted to kill without purpose, he did want to kill. Termination was a fair form of conflict resolution.

The termination of others, of course.

”Boss, you need to cool off some! You’re going to fry EVERYTHING!” His voice of reason, his conscience. His best friend. His ONLY friend these days. Cassel’s immunity to Positive Material Energy extended to his familiar, so this semi-random venting left him unscathed. But only him. There had been…

Accidents.

The venting was more frequent, and unfortunately timed. At first it happened only when he accessed the gate; during combat and with a convenient target available. Over time it started happening accidentally. Orion, a fierce pseudo dragon and long-time companion, reminded him constantly of his losses. ”This is why Duvien retired, boss. This exact situation.” Cassel’s body would be hazardous to touch. Like, Pull back a stump hazardous. The positive energy was bleeding even worse from his hands and head, dripping liquid fire to the floor below and flinging it all around him when he gestured, gesticulated, or somatic’d.

Right now, though, his mind was elsewhere. To be more specific, his mind was on task. The task was destruction.

He pushed open the door with a hand that was meant for better things and scanned the street for signs of the salamander.
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  #123  
Old 09-01-2019, 02:13 AM
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The disdained, yet familiar stench of fresh retching tainted the malodorous mist from the opened pores of the city's ground level. The temporarily spent clouds of the storm lent everything a grayish cast, but the gray Salamander was easily seen a few paces beyond the inn's doorway, alone and preoccupied. The contents of a smallish fang-shaped vial were being patiently consumed, as they were apparently quite congealed. That or the Salamander's tongue was not functioning correctly.

The arguably bleak evening weather left few others about, and none that seemed the least bit interested in the Salamander or his activities. Mealstone belatedly exited the inn behind Cassel, just as an ominous rumble amidst the heavens preceded a silvery discharge of horizontal lightning across the sulking clouds. For others, the livid streak was just another unwanted aspect of the lingering storm that had long overstayed its welcome. For a rare few though, the oddly-timed bolt illuminated the obese hand behind the Salamander's poisoning.

Lord Lundor amidst luxury
A jeweled ring was trapped on every sausage-like finger of that waddled hand, as well as its pair. They belonged to Arbit Lundor, scion of House Lundor for decades already, whose notorious dealings in secrets filled his coffers far more readily than the family orchards ever could. Known to be shrewd in his dealings, his notoriety stemmed from the perverse pleasure he took in public revealings of those who refused his price. He was a man with many enemies. Yet his obscene wealth afforded him considerable protection, and forgiveness could always bought among the ruling elite, at some price.

Overflowing his opulent chair, Lundor weighed heavily on one end of a food-laden table. He appeared to be gorging himself with heedless abandon. Behind him towered a seasoned Priest of Syrul, the veil-tongued Suel goddess of deceit. On the other end of the table sat a Witch of some sort, looking thoroughly disgusted. At her elbow sat a priestess of Kurell, the Oeridian god of jealousy and revenge. The priestess stared at Lundor with unabashed contempt, to no avail.

Reflecting through the heavy curtains of Lundor's castle, the lone stroke of lightning glimmered briefly on the Lord's glistening pate in just such a way as to mark him as guilty. As somebody should have done with Holy Water decades previous, before exiling him. Yet he had always managed to purchase his way out of any trouble he stumbled into, one way or another. He feasted gloatingly, reveling in the mortified unease emanating from the table's other end.
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  #124  
Old 09-03-2019, 07:52 PM
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The half-elf strode across the distance between them, but made no immediate move to assist. Life played its game without his knowledge ad infenitum. He should not intervene simply because he was aware. This bystander would live or die and Cassel would continue. He waited until this event found its end before he addressed Schoedinger’s Salamander.

FoundHe felt that he hovered, floating forward through the grandest cavern opening he had every witnessed. He may have walked, but that detail was minor. This was the showdown he had longed for. The ancient power that hid within this underground was rumored to have the secrets of lost magics. And this Cassel would have for his own. His aura gave away his presence. Not simply in his immediate vicinity: any within miles who could sense the arcane could feel him. He enjoyed the knowledge that multitudes would know the exact moment of the impending transfer of power from the old to the new.

The cavern’s opening was overgrown with vegetation. Underbrush clotted the ground while a mature tree canopy arched overhead. Still, there was nearly a hundred feet more before the cavern ceiling began to block out the sky. The energy seeping from his outstretched arms ate at the leaves and branches nearby, but neutral life was not the sort of destruction it sought. It wanted – nay, demanded – to force its opposite out of existence. It desired balance. Cassel was an unwitting vehicle for this unstoppable force of unnature.

He moved within the maw of the enormous crack in the surface world and was soon winding his way through large passages and small. Before long he started to feel his goal ahead of him; much like himself, that aura of power was unmistakable to those who were attuned to such. He began to move with more urgency and impatience. Events occurred which have no bearing on the end of the story, so let it simply be said that he found himself in front of a great pair of doors, forty feet wide and sixty feet tall.

They should have been closed, but alas…

There was a gap between the doors as the right side was slightly ajar. Cassel placed his burning hands on the right leaf, immediately transferring his palm prints to the ancient wood and steel banding. He did not notice. You see, the power flowing through him was not of this plane. The longer he left the gate open, the more it shifted him out of balance. It was eating away at some part of him like water eats away at rocks. It was making him less and less of this reality. It wasn’t putting him somewhere else, just less here. It was with this mentality – less here – that he entered the vault and faced the doom of the first chapter of his life.
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  #125  
Old 09-08-2019, 01:49 AM
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Belatedly noticing Cassel's arrival at his wetly cloaked elbow, the Salamander plugged the still-upended vial with a clawed thumb. Turning his head slightly that way, yet not enough to cloud the wizard with his unexpectedly fouled breath, he forced himself to speak

"The fish ... was poisoned ...." the amphibian of the depths blankly uttered in stunned disbelief. Yet having to find his tongue helped him move past his conflicted fugue. A greater semblance of awareness lit his bulbous eyes and his posture noticeably improved.

"I never thought to need this." he dazedly added, mildly gesturing with the nearly empty vial. "It seems to have worked."

With that vaguely contagious whiff of genuine relief, the Salamander returned to sucking the last gooey drops of salvation from the vial. Yet it was obvious that his scholarly mind was awhirl with thoughts and questions, doubts and concerns. Someone had tried to incapacitate or slay him, in a city where the number of people that knew who he was could be counted on the three webbed fingers of his hand.

It would take him more than a mere few moments to sort himself out.
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  #126  
Old 09-17-2019, 05:03 PM
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The sorcerer nodded solemnly, seeing that he would need to wait a while before the salamander would be at full strength. He sat his butt on thin air and raised his feet into a cross-legged seat. Three feet off the ground. AKA, “stepping up into a sit”. He acted like he would be patient, but then he wasn’t. ”So, who knew you were in town?”

He acted like he would wait for the answer.

”And who knew about your meeting with Olgnaf?”

He raised his eyebrows in a querry.

Nine VoicesCassel entered the chamber, his senses on alert. He was aware of his surroundings, but felt sideways. Orion was on point, though. As his silvery aura filled the space with flickering light, his familiar let out a long… whispered… whimper.

”Boss, I don’t think we are supposed to be here. This place is for… I don’t know… Otherworldly things.” He wrapped his tail around Cassel’s neck and grabbed two fists full of his white/silver hair. His head had dipped so that his lips were less than an inch from his master’s ear; despite the fact that the words they shared were telepathic and not related to sound at all.

”I AM otherworldly, my friend.” As if that resolved all issues without doubt, he proceeded into the void. Within moments the light was giving hints as to their surroundings. High vaulted ceilings were a combination of carved rock, set stone, and raw cavern. The floor gradually became covered with glints of gold, jewels, tombs, scrolls… More scrolls. If this was a hoard, it was equal parts monetary and intellectual.

All too soon, there was his prey. What first appeared to be a wall of greyish scales quickly revealed itself as the broad side of a dragon. A very large, quite alive and awake, great wyrm. Cassel’s mouth spread into a grin, as it was want to do in such situations. He raised his hands and began the motions that would release his fury.

”Ancient Evil! I am Cassel! Feel MY WRATH!!!” He was nearly finished with his spell when he heard the sounds.

No, that its far too simple a description.

When a lion roars, the very air vibrates with it’s sound. When rocks tumble down a hill, the ground shakes with their passing. When the storm breaches your doors, the air howls past your ears. When armies clash… when thunder rolls… when the swift river meets rock…

All of this and more. All at once! Cassel heard many different sounds simultaneously. They all fed on a different part of his senses, and they all had meaning. Just as the lion intends his roar to make his presence known, this voice; these voices, made a statement. The purpose of that statement was clear to him immediately.

All in one word, nine voices made one arcane command.

”HOLD.”

He held as though in a vise. Humbled? Nay, emasculated. Concerned? Frightened out of his freaking WITS. For the first time in years, surely since his adolescence, he was at the total mercy of another. His eyes darted left and right, growing wide enough to fall out of their sockets to the cold cavern floor below. Orion lifted from his shoulder, taking to the air on thin leathery wings that now look far too fragile in the silvery air. He hovered, in shock at his master’s frozen form.
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  #127  
Old 09-21-2019, 05:57 PM
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Gradually recovering his wits, the Salamader rose to the challenge of Cassel's queries. His unusual eyes were focused, if still leaking a bit, and burgeoning anger strengthened his stance. His words, when they came, were clear and concise, more bitten off then merely spoken.

"Only five or six know that I am here, as I came to the Underground Inn from below, and only one of which knows who I am and why I'm here, besides yourselves now." he answered the sorcerer with a brief glance to Mealstone mutely lurking nearby in the gloomy drizzle. "Olgnaf was the only one who knew before our ... meal here." the Salamander added with distaste as he glanced to his 'mess' on the ground before him.

"I will not be meeting with him." he belatedly continued, looking up as a Watch patrol approached with obvious concern. They were the same group of guardsfolk that left Ye Old Roasted Elf shortly after Cassel and Mealstone had arrived. "As soon as I finish with the authorities, I shall leave this place, for my safety if nothing else." he added in a quieter tone, his anger seemingly banked at a slow burn. "While you owe me nothing, I would ask that you share word of Olgnaf's treachery in this, as his reputation, at the least, should not survive this unscathed." the Salamander bitterly requested under his breath as the patrol came to an expectant halt before the odd trio.

Strangely perhaps, the four guards did not look particularly surprised. Not even Cassel's invisible perch or Mealston's relaxed crouch garnered more than warily taking notice, before attention turned to the amphibian's restrained anger. They had clearly seen odder things in their city, and seemed to have genuine concern for the suffering stranger.

"I was poisoned with Black Mold in the meal I was served here, and all the proof you need of that is right there." the Salamander tersely informed the suddenly alarmed guardsfolk.

A quick glance from their leader sent two guards swiftly into the inn for answers, while a stronger look set an unlucky guard to collecting a sample of the victim's bile from the wet ground. "We will learn what there is to learn of this." the patrol leader assured the Salamander.

A stray squall of cold rain fanned across the inn's frontage, as a trio of hustling potential customers neared and then veered away, apparently choosing to take their business elsewhere. Thunder dimly rumbled in the distance as the air filled with a chilly mist behind the passing squall. Hope of success in his journey had fled the Salamander, with mere survival taking priority. Yet one person's loss can become another person's gain, even if inadvertently.
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  #128  
Old 02-07-2020, 03:43 PM
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Cassel smiled grimly, apparently pleased that the salamander would survive. Or perhaps pleased that his survival did not hinge on the half-elf's interference. He was no hero. He wanted less and less to be responsible for life or its termination. He was no gatekeeper.

That Cave and The NineHe had been high before. Stoned, buzzed, drunk, baked, burnt, krunked... This was like that. With his consciousness drifting elsewhere, what remained was loopy. If he had more knowledge of the process and/or the science of the conscious mind, he might hypothesize that his EGO was leaving his body. But that was not his specialty: it would not have given him power and therefore held no temptation for him. In any case, he was having a difficult time focusing on the situation. He knew where he was and he knew he had wanted to be there, but he was 'floating' in more ways than one. His feet were off the ground just as his cheese was off the cracker. His eyes scanned the room - an easy feat with the positive energy light flaring off his body - but he saw very little.

Just the dragon.

The DRAGON...

The dragon he wanted to destroy. His purpose was undeterred. That core desire - gain power - could never be dismounted from the destrier of his soul. Once his focus found the titanic wyrm, instincts triggered and the battle commenced. He did not give warning to his opponent, he did not wait to catch his own bearings on the space. He did not even take a competitive stance; could not, in fact, do so as his feet were still a foot or so above the ancient stone floor. His hands began spinning into arcane motions which had long since transitioned from learned to innate. Mystical words spewed from his mouth, accompanied by gouts of liquid argent fire. His spell crescendo'd with an eruption of flames from his hands towards the great beast. Ten feet wide and fifty feet long, the column of silvery fire would have leveled several small buildings. The dragon, though...

The dragon.A beast made of age, spirit, and the essence of the sky. None were older than he. Even some aspects of the world's landscape had seen fewer summers. He had no color; his origins predated that tacky idiom. As such, he was more of a molting grey than anything. He may not even be a 'he'. If 'it' were not an insult to one so self-aware, that might be most appropriate. For eons he collected death. Then for eons more he collected value. In the last millennium he has collected memories and knowledge. There was no library with more accumulated information and history than his head. Much of it was fascinating but mundane.

As much or more was arcane and lethal.

He was enormous, and had chosen a vault to reside in that was suitable for his bulk. His body shape and features were prototypical of all dragons. If there had been a model upon which all dragons were based, this creature was it. Long neck, reptilian head, clawed hands, bat-like wings, bulbous belly that surely contained a variety of gaseous sacks for spewing death on villages. His black eyes saw everything. Deciphered everything. Judged everything. Knew everything.

He had felt Cassel coming when he first entered the cavern. He had smelled the cow that his belt was made from. He could hear Cassel's mother in the echoes of his footsteps. When the small one started casting a spell, the dragon smiled.


Orion saw all of this, but from a good distance away. He was hidden behind any feature of the room that would grant him concealment. He did not want to be here any longer, but his soul bond to the half-elf made it quite impossible for the tiny dragon to leave. He did not begrudge it, but it was not the first time that he'd wished there was an alternative that would allow him to take a vacation. When the flaming spell struck the dragon, the familiar knew that this was the end for Cassel. Which, of course, meant the end for him.

Cassel's spell lit up the cavern less like fireworks, more like a sunny day. No, more like a forest fire on a sunny day. The smile on his face combined with the silver flames encircling his body made him look quite insane. The spell washed over the dragon, incinerating the decades of dust that had settled over every surface. Setting fire to miscellaneous papers and discarded wooden furniture. Other things turned to ash that had been forgotten long ago, and would never be remembered again. There were precious metals fusing to each other, melting into very valuable puddles. Swords were getting re-tempered, again, causing sugary crystallization that would make them all but useless on their next swing. All of this put Cassel in a place of uninhibited glee. Until he saw the dragon.

The dragon.

The dragon was unaffected. Bored even. He was awake, which Cassel had not even verified before attacking. He was looking at Cassel with - if this was possible - raised eyebrows. One of the talons on one of this deadly hands was tapping the stone floor, scoring gouge after gouge in the rough-hewn surface.

Yeah, he might have made a mistake.
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