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  #1  
Old 02-06-2012
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Sunset Fallow Sunset Fallow is offline
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The Ineffable Quality of Being

The Hunter

Sabbah E’Leuhsia-Kalesh-son Lord Redeemer was a patient man, a patience born of a certainty of a fate hidden to most mortals. That his death was a foretold certainty was not disputed, nor his fate beyond that seeming end, only that his thread would not be cut by any mortal hand before that ordained by his God, of this he was certain.

He was a hunter, his Lords Redeemer, and he hunted by the grace of his God. His prey would not be allowed the luxury of making their escape by the simple fact of his death. He was not inured to dying, far from it, the pain was near unbearable. But to see the look in their eyes as he whispered in their ear, softly touched the warm skin of their neck, whole and unharmed after they thought they were free was a pleasure that bordered on the erotic.

But, such pleasures must wait. He was first to find this girl, this waif of a woman who had escaped from her captivity to run so far as to leave her trail cold amid the frozen wastes. That, of course, was what had saved her. He almost had her. He had followed easily, her tracks plain to see in the new fallen snow. But then the blizzard had come, swirling masses of snow that blinded and obscured her tracks.

Now, to be summoned into his presence was obscene. It wasn’t that he was humiliated to admit his mistake; the misfortune of her escape was nothing more than one of the less than calamitous events that he took as essential to his profession. Once finished and his mind free to reflect on such due rewards, this mage’s end would be something to weigh should he continue to be such an irascible little prick.

Still, he smiled; he had found events thus far to be most enjoyable. She had proved to be more capable that he first thought. He might even regret her end, as he ripped her soul from her still living body. But, as much as he might feel remorse for the death of a formidable adversary, his God demanded his due. Eventually, it is to Him he must bow, of that there was no escape...for him...or for her.

Last edited by Sunset Fallow; 02-13-2012 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 02-07-2012
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The Ineffable Quality of Being

Prey

The new fallen snow squeaked eerily in the ghostly morning light as I walked between trees standing like skeletal figures frozen in some macabre dance of death. Each footstep echoed faintly against a landscape devoid of all color but the blinding white of all things frozen. My labored breathing left a vanishing trail of tiny clouds as the cold air burned in lungs unaccustomed to the harsh clime. I had no idea where I was, where I was going, or even if I was being followed. But the latter, although unknown, was almost certain.

It had been snowing lightly for days, or at least since I ran…from that place. The wind had driven the snow to cover my tracks, for both good and bad. I had no idea if I walked in circles; no other footsteps could be seen in this blinding waste. My sudden departure, if such an escape can be described with such calm restraint, left me with little food and scant warm clothing. The cloth wrappings of my feet and ankles over leather sandals had only served to leave my feet both wet and nearly frozen.

Yet I couldn’t stop, or go back, even if I could find the way back. I’d rather die out here, frozen in some huddled mass rather than live there. Better to die here, quickly, than by inches forever imprisoned. I saw again in my mind those times he came to me. His touch was so cold, colder than the ice that clings to every rock and tree in this landscape. And each time I recoiled from him, abhorred at his touch and wizened visage. He was angered, yet left me each time wordlessly, locked alone with only a single servant to bring me food and water, to clean the chamber pots, and bring me fresh clothes. I had no idea what he wanted. He spoke as if we knew one another, but he was as a stranger. Even more, as I tried to remember, I had only a recollection of a clouded past. Images of places and people that I didn’t know flashed before my mind’s eye in a wild frenzy that confused and frightened.

Even more unsettling than the odd memories and visions that plagued an unknown past were the peculiar changes that surrounded the circumstances of my escape. Recently, my anger at being locked away and unable to recall even a hint of my past had swelled in me to the point of bursting, and I pounded near relentlessly on the heavy wooden door that was the only egress from my room. It was one night in a similar fit that it happened. Hands nearly raw from the daily pounding suddenly burst into flames brighter than any torch. The door, made of wooden planks thicker than a man’s arm, smoldered at my touch. Then, as mysteriously as they appeared, the flames vanished and left my skin pink and unharmed.

Try as though I did for several days, I was unable to recall the flames that had caressed my skin so warmly, and blackened the door so easily. None noticed the blackened mark as they came and went from my room, as I carefully hung some used bedclothes over a hook to hopefully conceal the obvious blemish. But one day, as the servant came, she took the clothes from that hook and saw the mark. It was only a moment before she turned slowly to look at me with fear clearly etched in the lines of her face. Then, with great deliberance, she replaced the clothes on that hook, and turned to leave the room. For days I feared what was surely to come of that mark, but no word was ever said and every few days, clean clothes were hung with great care on that hook, concealing the mark that was the evidence of my change.

Perhaps now, with the change that had come over me, most would think I now had the means to escape, and affected such escape with daring do. Yet this would be quite far from the truth. The power that began to grow in me still was not manifested fully. It is there, at times, and more often not. The change that came with that fire however, was not the only change. Memories that once seemed haphazard and bizarrely disjointed began to coalesce. I remembered another person, a person who looked like me, sounded like me and had great power. But they were not memories of me or so I thought.

So it was the servant who came to me one night that gave me freedom, not some heroic act of defiance facilitated by some new found power. The fear the servant felt was not of me, you see, for she had come to know the young woman in the room, and she knew what I would become if I stayed.

“You must leave…now.” She held out a pack and clothes more suited to the cold of a winter’s day.

I hesitated only moments, then took the pack and clothing from the servant.

“Wait, you must follow me…wear the cloak and hood.” The servant took me by the hand and touched a finger to her lips.

They followed labyrinthine corridors through a near endless maze before exiting through a kitchen and into the cold of the night air.

It was there I was given my freedom. “Go child, run…never return.” The servant made to hurry off, a bag in hand.

“Wait…tell me, please, at least my name.” The servant stopped and turned; her eyes sad and fearful.

“Eypheha, my child…Milady…you are Eypheha.”
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Old 02-13-2012
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The Ineffable Quality of Being

The Hunter

Padded footsteps sounded lightly on a bare stone floor. The Hunter hesitated, barely moving, as the closing of a heavy door echoed dully from some distant chamber with imagined finality. An enormous hall lay before him, its looming walls and lofty ceilings receding distantly into the vagaries of shadow. The once grand opulence of the crumbling stone façade lay in stark contrast to the ruin and emptiness of the darkly imposing chamber. Carved figures with twisted faces and misshapen bodies peered eerily from shadowed recesses. Thin shafts of light penetrated the gloom from windows placed high upon inwardly curved walls. Tiny motes of dust rose in thin luminescent clouds at his every step to dance lazily in the still air.

Before him at the far end of the room rose the shadowed form of a throne. Had he some trace of the blood of the elder races, perhaps he could have distinguished the misshapen thing that occupied the seat of this once royal edifice, but such was not the case. Quietly, gracefully with practiced poise, he walked to the edge of the shadow that engulfed that throne. There, he paused and with seeming deference dropped to his knees, his head and torso bending slowly to touch the floor. His breathing slowed and eyes closed, he waited unmoving upon the recognition that he hoped would come from the one who sat upon this baleful throne.

“Have you found her?” The voice, thin and gravelly as if immeasurably ancient, sounded hollowly from the dark mount of the throne.

The Hunter raised his head mere inches from the floor, his eyes downcast. “No, Sire” What form of address would suit a man, if man was his form, who could kill with a twitch, cause pain beyond any knife, cause even his most vile enemy to love his twisted form?

The Hunter waited as a thin chill spread across his back, sweat running slowly along the crease of his spine. Nothing moved. Only the sound of his breathing came to his ears, and the smell of dust and ancient decay to his nose. Was this admission of failure to be the end, his final words before he was tortured for his insolence, a writhing screaming mass dying by inches on the floor? Thoughts of escape, of attacking before attacked, all scurried unbidden through his mind, and all foolishness. A furtive smile creased his face and lay hidden against the stone floor.

“No?” The voice sounded a whispered question rousing him from his brief reverie, and then paused. “Do you still follow?”

“Yes, Sire” The Hunter nodded once slightly. Again the voice paused as it seemed to consider the turning of events beyond any other’s comprehension, all unsaid, mysterious and ominous.

“I see…return to me on the moon.” Was he dismissed? The Hunter lowered his head to touch the floor and uttered the words of submission. “Men’darim Isharet”

Gracefully the Hunter rose and took three steps back, bowed deeply, then turned and walked unerringly to the door. Unseen, a sudden chill sent a shiver along his spine, or was it the thought of death so close? He paused as the door to this cavernous chamber opened before him. Perhaps he expected some spectral shape looming ominously at that post, but only darkly clad guards could be seen deep within those shadows.

He remembered the words, ‘return…on the moon’. And what if he did not have her? What if he should simply not return? Should he consider such thoughts that are with some dim certainty his death? And why did he want her? Better not to consider such things.
“Better to do only as I have done these many years, to hunt, only to hunt and collect my pay.” Sabbah looked up at the windswept stone of the citadel now far above him. “I will find her, pity her the more. And leave the reasons ‘why’ to others that might care for such things.”

Last edited by Sunset Fallow; 03-24-2012 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 02-20-2012
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The Ineffable Quality of Being

Prey


I came upon the village with the last of my strength. Numb fingers, blue and stiff, clutched at the thin cloak wrapped about my head and shoulders. Frost covered wisps of hair hung loosely from my cloak and whipped slowly against my face as I stumbled through the snow. I stared blankly at the snow that rose to meet my every step. Cold penetrated to my bones. With the setting of the sun, I feared that now my only solace was that I would die with my freedom, meager recompense for my effort. Yet it was enough….I would not rue my decision, though death was not so easy when seen so close.

The village sat within a small valley hidden from the road as it surmounted a small tree covered ridge. I had been following the road and a single set of tracks through the remainder of the storm for several hours, hoping that each new rise hid some habitation, somewhere to find shelter and food. I stood on the crest of the hill and stared down at the few houses and other buildings that nestled closely within the narrow valley. Smoke rose from each chimney and hung in a thin blue miasma as if the village were submerged beneath a languid pool from some child’s fairy tale.

I made my way down from the crest of the hill, my steps eager in hopes that some shelter would be found…my naiveté so obvious, and so nearly fatal. I rounded a bend and fell, the ice and snow rising in a cloud to both cushion my fall and cover me as if I were some icy apparition. As I recovered and cleared the snow from my face, I saw him. Huge shoulders framed an enormous head and neck. I could feel my heart jump into my throat, hammering at my chest. He growled deeply and took one or two slow steps toward me, perhaps unsure at first with my fall causing such a flurry what exactly I was, whether prey or hunter. But as I sat stunned and frozen in fear, all doubt was erased.

The dire wolf took another step then launched itself at me with such speed that belied its massive form. I gasped and put a hand out before me and fire erupted in a blinding glow. In an instant, a blue white ray lanced out to strike the beast in the chest spreading quickly to envelope its entire body, yet still it came on toward me as if some fiery demon spawned from the Abyss. It was upon me before I could move more than hands to keep its massive jaws from my neck. I had no thoughts other than to live until the next instant. Jaws snapped fractions of an inch from my face. I fought with all the strength I had to survive. Fire had blackened its coat and rained ash down upon me as it worked its head back and forth to clamp its jaw about my neck.

Then, as suddenly as it began, it was over. The wolf jerked to one side and slumped against me, its weight nearly pinning me beneath its huge body. An arrow protruded from its side. Blood leaked slowly to drip warmly on my hands and chest. I was bewildered. I rolled the beast from me and looked at it as if it was some visitation from hell, and I spared that dark descent its jaws only moments before had surely promised.

“You’re welcome.” The voice was calm and friendly, and came from the edge of the road. I peered into the falling snow and saw a form standing easily with longbow in hand, bundled from head to toe in furs. I could only stare. My voice had deserted me.

“Yes, and that was a nice trick with the fire. You wounded it sorely, I think.” He took a few steps toward me. My wits seemed to be returning, if slowly. His smile was now evident, and a face that was no longer hidden beneath the furs that warmed him. “Pardon if I make such an obvious observation, but you are not dressed for the weather.” He paused as if I were a simpleton, his words spoken slowly and clearly.

Finally, words came to me. “Thank you…thank you so much.” I tried to rise and nearly fell. A mixture of blood, ash, and snow covered me. My hair was wet and matted across my face. The cloak that had served me so well was ripped and hung loosely from my shoulders like a rag. The wrappings of my sandals had come loose and I stood with one foot nearly bare. He looked at me with what I can only describe as a mixture of mild amusement and pity. As I saw that look and all the travails of the last several days finally rose within me, I found I could do nothing else…and I began to cry.

Last edited by Sunset Fallow; 03-24-2012 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 02-25-2012
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The Ineffable Quality of Being

One Year Ago

They stood to either side of a woman who appeared dead. She was quite beautiful; her hair was combed and lay delicately about a face that seemed young and in the flower of her womanhood. Everything about her was exquisite, perfect in every way. Yet the chest did not rise, the faint beating of a heart was absent and the skin seemed nearly translucent. There was an air of stillness about her as if she had never lived, never moved.

“She’s lovely…beautiful.” He stared at her without blinking. He seemed unable to draw his gaze from the woman lying before him.

The woman standing opposite him also looked upon the other woman lying so coldly between them. Yet her gaze seemed more detached. “You are pleased, then, Aka?”

Aka Seth Manah waited. His gaze was fixed upon the woman who reposed so delicately beneath a glimmering blue nimbus. “Yes…it is as I remember her. You have pleased me greatly, Nephthanee.” Finally he looked upon the woman, Nephthanee Ab Hsu, who stood opposite him. A barely perceptible smile curved her lips, and now she also waited. “Ahh, yes….your payment. It is on the desk.” He gestured with a nod to the desk near the door.

Nephthanee twisted only slightly, her smile now more evident, and then turned to look at her desk. “Still very clever, Aka. I always admired you for that.” She walked back to her desk and retrieved the leather bound book to open it before turning back to him. “Now we both have a thing of beauty.” She closed the book softly and turned back to him. “I’m not quite done, you understand, Aka. I still need the soul.” She paused as her words seem to reach him slowly through his adoration of the woman lying on the stone.

Aka looked up finally to study her for a moment and then reached down to a bag that he had carried into the chamber. From inside the bag he produced an ornate silvery box that had no visible latch or hinges. He set the box upon a nearby table and placed his hand over the top, then said a few words nearly inaudibly. A soft click was heard and the box opened as he withdrew his hand. Lying nestled upon a dark cloth within the box was a small vial. He offered the box and vial to Nephthanee. “Her soul…”

Nephthanee held the vial up as if studying a new gem. “How long has it been, Aka…since she died?”

Aka had returned his gaze to the woman lying on the stone table. “More than three lifetimes.”

Nephthanee only nodded slowly as she set the vial carefully back into the box. “And you were married, as I remember. It was so long ago. Can you tell me how long you were together?” She gently closed the lid with a soft click.

His gaze never lifted from the stone and the woman. “Seven years…only seven years.”

“Ahhh, so sad.” Nephthanee sighed. No words could be said that would ease the pain he felt. “And her name…was it…”

“Eypheha….her name is Eypheha.” His words spoken so softly…a whisper.
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Old 03-07-2012
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Noa

What he did had come unbidden, ushering forth from some darkness that screamed from him like a caged animal. He could still see the scene; snow falling lightly around her bedraggled form. She standing helplessly and crying. His heart lurched as he could only take a step, then another…finally dropping his bow and running to her, his arms wrapping around her protectively. He didn’t understand why or what had happened, only that the sudden rush of emotion couldn’t be denied. His heart pounded and breathing quickened as he remembered the warmth of her so close.

She had wept near silently on his shoulder; wracking sobs that tore deeply at his heart. She felt so thin and frail, but so good in his arms; the press of another person against him. It was a touch that he had not felt for years. He had whispered to her then, words that he could hardly remember, asking her name, urging her to come with him to his cabin.

Now, she was here. His cabin was small, just two rooms. It was enough for a man who lived most of his life in the woods, but he felt embarrassed at it now that she was here. Yet she only gazed at him. She wouldn’t look away. The truth of it was her gaze was unsettling. He had lived alone all these years since his wife had been taken. Thayan slavers had come, as they sometimes did, to raid the Rashemen foothills in search of their prey. He’d been out hunting as was his usual daily routine; traps to tend and the occasional buck to bring down. He’d come home, and ran the last several hundred yards as he saw smoke. His house was burned to the ground; his wife gone. Villagers told him it was Thayans, raiding for women and the younger men; and they had taken his wife.

He followed them for days on their trail once he found their party. He killed them slowly, one by one. He took each one with grim determination. But soon they were deep into Thay and nearing one of the larger castles. Those who were unable to keep pace had been butchered and left as they fell on the road. He checked the bodies he found hoping that each one would not be his wife. They were nearly to the castle gate when the Wizards came forth. The slaves were chained to the front of the castle. It was only a few moments, the slavers moved off and left those who were chained standing. Then the fires came. They killed everyone. He could still remember the screams, watching in horror as they tried to escape their chains while the fires consumed them. He watched helplessly as his wife was incinerated in the flames, writhing in agony as he could only watch.

They knew he was there, of course. They counted on it as he would go back and spread the news of the horror he had witnessed; to further the myth of their supremacy…their ghastly cruelty. He couldn’t see their faces, but they stood looking at him from the castle walls as if they knew. He wanted to die with them that day, and stayed unable to move from that spot for days, hoping that they would come…hoping to die taking a few with him in his misery. Yet nothing came, and finally he left, her ashes blown to dust in the winds.

“Noa?” The voice sounded as if from far away. Reality swept away the nightmarish visions that so often filled his days and invaded his dreams. He hesitated before turning, embarrassed that he should leave his guest to see him so preoccupied.

He turned to look at her. He couldn’t help but stare. Had his wife been gone so many years? He held the bowl out to her and smiled. “It’s hot.” Then handed it to her and looked away, pretending to work at some trivial task near the fire. He served himself and sat at the small table opposite her.

They ate in silence for a time, he taking the occasional bite and she eating quickly and then pushing the bowl toward him as she’d finished. “There’s more…” He said with slight smile, pleased at her appetite for his meager fare. She smiled in return and nodded quickly. He took the bowl and refilled it, setting it again before her.

“Do you know where you’re going, Eypheha?” He asked without looking up, his mood suddenly more serious.

“Nope” A single word uttered between quick bites.

He nodded more to himself than her. “Then I’d guess it’s from something or perhaps, someone, you’ve run.” It seemed more a statement than a question.

She stopped eating and looked up. She stared at him until he met her eyes. “You’ve kind eyes.”

He watched her for a moment then, as she returned to eating, he continued. “You came down the road from Thay. If you are running they’ll send a hunter…at least for one as beautiful as you.” He watched her as he spoke. “He’ll be good, far better than me. He’ll find you and kill every person in his path, if he must…but he’ll find you.”

She stopped and stared into the bowl, placing the wooden spoon quietly on the table. They sat in silence for several minutes as she stared, never looking up. Then, quietly, she began to talk…telling all she knew, and all that seemed to be missing. They talked long into the night. Finally, her weariness overtaking her, she fell asleep sitting by the fire.

He’d decided long before she slept what he would do. It didn’t take long to pack the few things he needed.

Last edited by Sunset Fallow; 03-10-2012 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 03-13-2012
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The Ineffable Quality of Being

The Hunter

He hated the stink of the place; the reek of unwashed bodies and sweat, the sour stench of ale spilled and washed, but never quite gone. The dross of human existence circling ever closer to that final ending, each one a solitary mass of flesh slowly decaying without leaving so much as a mark on the passage of human history.

Sabbah had come to the village three days ago. He had followed her trail with some difficulty through the last vestiges of the storm to a point just outside the town. It was there that he noted the markings of a struggle. Blood had soaked the snow. A search of the surrounding area had revealed the tracks of a dire wolf and that of another person, probably male. A trail of blood leading away from the area had paralleled the heavier tracks and those of the woman, the one he followed. The trail led into the town where it finally vanished amid the countless footsteps of the villagers.

He had found the Inn where he now stayed along the main road amid a few houses and businesses that marked the center of the village. Now he waited and watched each person that came and went from the only public house within miles. After three days he had narrowed his mark to one or two, those he would question. He had made his preparations, followed each to their home and knew where they lived.

Now it was time. He had studied the man each time he came to the Inn; probably a woodsman, friendly, out-going, and the type that talks to everybody and knows everything. The woodsman came to the Inn each evening and left after a couple of drinks and some friendly banter. He had overheard fragments of conversation about a man who had rescued a woman just outside the town. Tonight he would talk to this woodsman. He had gathered his things from the Inn as he would not return.

Sabbah waited as the woodsman went through his routine of talking to each patron, plying his trade to sell a few skins and learn the local news, gossip by any other name. He left knowing that it was about time for the woodsman to finish and walk back to his wife and home. Sabbah made his way to the outskirts of the town and up a small rise toward a cabin in a copse of trees overlooking the village. He chose a spot that hid him from sight, but allowed him a view of the front of the cabin. He didn’t have to wait long.

He stepped from his concealment as the woodsman was about to enter his home. “Nice evening, wouldn’t you say?”

The woodsman whirled about quickly, a knife drawn from a sheath at his hip. Sabbah continued, taking a step forward, smiling. “Say, I didn’t mean to frighten you. No need for that.” He nodded indicating the knife.

“You can stop there. What do ya want?” The friendly banter from the Inn now quite gone.

Sabbah held his hands to either side, but continued to walk slowly forward. “I heard you at the Inn, selling skins. I just wanted to buy a couple.”

The woodsman studied him for a moment. “You ain’t wantin no skins…an’ I said stop.” He raised the knife a bit higher. “I don’t wanna hurt ya.”

Sabbah stopped and smiled, and suddenly his form was engulfed in a darkness that was blacker than any moonless night. It was less than a moment. The woodsman abruptly stiffened as a knife punctured his lung low on the right side of his chest. He coughed slightly as he sagged on the knife point that penetrated deeply between his ribs. Sabbah wrapped his arms around him, and supported his weight, then turned and dragged him to the door of the cabin.

He kicked the door and the frame shattered, the door swinging open to slam against the wall. A woman stood in the center of the room, stunned and unmoving. Sabbah continued into the room and dropped the woodsman into a chair near a table, then turned and with one swift movement, stuck the woman across the face with the back of his fist, throwing her to the ground. He followed quickly with two quick strides to where she lay, grabbed her hair and dragged her to kneel before the woodsman who now sat coughing blood and gasping for air.

He pulled her head up roughly and placed a dagger point beneath her chin, then stared a moment into the eyes of the woodsman. “Now…you will tell me everything I want to know.”

Last edited by Sunset Fallow; 03-14-2012 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 03-19-2012
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The Ineffable Quality of Being

Nephthanee

“I told you this could happen. You had played much with that soul, and it was old. Memories fade with age, Aka.” Nephthanee stared placidly at Aka as he paced back and forth across the well furnished room. A fire had been set in the large fireplace to warm the room as she expected him to arrive this day. Still, the castle walls were not so quick to lose the numbing cold that swirled about the wintery landscape.

“Give her time. Her memories may still return. Besides, I did as I was asked…I did not guarantee the results. As I said…” A small smile twitched at the corner of her mouth.

Aka stopped and turned to Nephthanee, his eyes narrowed. “I HAVE no time….witch!” He paused only a few moments, speaking more calmly. “As to the results, so that you may know that ‘thing’ that you created has left…escaped.”

Nephthanee returned her gaze to the fire, her voice calm. “Although I find that news a bit sad…for you, I fail to see how it affects me.”

Aka stood for a moment to consider this and resumed his back and forth pacing before the fire. “Ahh, then you won’t mind if she intends to pay you a little visit? I did tell you she was a warlock, and quite powerful?” Aka smiled. “She was very inquisitive, confused…unable to recall even the smallest details of her life before coming to the citadel. Well, that’s not quite true. It seems she does remember you.”

“Me?” Nephthanee smiled as she continued to stare into the fire. “Yes, I do remember looking into those eyes as I awakened her. I could see the confusion; newly wakening, her memories a blur. I felt quite sorry for her.”

“How pleasant for you.” Aka waved his hand in the air. “Needless to say, I want her back…or rather her soul. I’ve sent a hunter. If he finds her before she reaches you, then our business is finished. If not, I expect you to provide that service.”

“Oh…?” Nephthanee turned to Aka. “I’m not sure that was part of our original understanding.” She raised her hand and a glowing blue globe the size of a melon that crackled with electricity floated just inches above her upraised palm. “And as for your hunter, he’s not welcome here.” And then vanished with a soft ‘whump’ as she closed her hand slowly.

Aka stopped his pacing and stared at her for a moment. “You seem so enamored of your little creation, I’ll be sure to return the body.” He turned to leave but then stopped at the door. “I hope she does find you. It’ll make it so much easier to kill her knowing that she’s coming here.”

“I thought you said she was a powerful warlock….perhaps it is the body of your hunter that I will return. Good day…Aka”

Last edited by Sunset Fallow; 07-29-2012 at 12:41 AM.
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  #9  
Old 04-01-2012
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The Ineffable Quality of Being

Eypheha

Eypheha glanced down from her perch near the top of the rocky outcropping she’d been climbing. It had taken her over an hour to reach this point and Noa had told her to be back at the camp before sunset. She had merely assented with a vague smile and nod to his near parental caution and ran off to do what she always did, and that was to explore or investigate…or just look and see what lay over the next little rise. He had called her a child one night after one of her forays had left her out and away from the camp well after dark. She couldn’t really argue and trying to explain to him that she had this overwhelming urge to learn and experience things didn’t really justify the anxiety he felt. She had to admit that it felt nice that he was so protective of her.

She could see the camp they had made at the end of this days trek along what Noa had called the Golden Way. They’d been traveling almost a week now. Their travels had taken them from the southern border of Rashemen north along the east coast of a large lake and then westward to a small town named Mulsantir. They’d found a ferry to cross the lake the next morning after their arrival and now were again headed west. They would talk during the day, and each would share their dreams, hers of the visions she had and his, only one, the same one every night. They didn’t talk much of his nightmare. Their first few days had been a bit unsettling. She’d found it hard to adjust to the idea of having a companion, someone who was always there, someone who seemed to care about her.

She had to smile as she thought of Noa. He’d become a part of her life. It was odd how he’d just left everything he had to be with her. She didn’t understand it, but she was grateful. He was a terrific hunter, and provided fresh game for their fire each night. But that wasn’t what made her smile as she thought of him. He was kind and gentle and handsome, at least she thought he was handsome; not having many male models to judge against made it a rather easy decision. She knew from the talks they’d had of his past and the nightmares of what had happened to his wife. She knew or suspected of how she fit into to those horrible visions, or thought she did. She didn’t say, of course, and only listened wide-eyed as he recounted the tale those few times he spoke of it.

But now the sun was close to setting and the climb she’d made had given her this one last challenge. The drop from this slightly rounded boulder was at least three or four hundred feet in any direction. Yet, there was one higher perch, and it lay only a few feet across the chasm that gaped between her and that further rocky plinth. She backed a few feet and took several breaths, her nerves tingling as she envisioned her leap taking her the ten or twelve feet though the air to alight gracefully on the far side. She took several huge breaths and sprinted the few steps she could take as she reached the far edge of the boulder and jumped with all the strength she could manage.

”Eypheha!” Her name resonated and startled her as she stiffened in mid flight. She landed awkwardly as her hands slipped from the rocky face where she landed. Gravel and debris rained down on her as she grasped at the face frantically for some hold. Bloodied fingers clawed at fissure and small holds as her footing slipped.

”Eypheha!” Again her name sounded as if someone shouting, only the voice was in her head. Her foot slipped from a small lip and she thrust her hand into a narrow crack, then making a fist. Her fall nearly dislocated her shoulder as she was left dangling from one arm over the chasm below. She closed her eyes and panted heavily, pain lancing through her arm.

Again the voice in her head sounded. “Eypheha!” She waited a moment and shouted…”What? For Gods all wonder, what the hell do you want…?”

“Ahhh, my child…I hope I’ve not caught you at a bad time.” The voice was somehow familiar.

“Bad? You have no idea.” The pain in her arm was awful. She pulled with the arm that was jammed and scrabbled for purchase on the rocky face.

The voice, now soft and quite seductive echoed in her mind. “Truly…well, I am sorry for that.” There was a brief pause. “But, I have to warn you…do not come for me. Aka has sent a Hunter for you. I imagine this Hunter to be quite adept at his profession.”

The voice seemed to have a face, not one that came from the sending that echoed in her mind at this most inopportune moment, but from her own memory. “I’m sorry, my child…I am sorry for all that has come of this. I didn’t think you’d be so tortured. Please…please, you mustn’t seek me out. He’ll find you, I’m sure.”

A small lip solidified under one foot and she pressed up, relieving the pull on her shoulder. She didn’t hear the voice for a few minutes and slowly made her way to the top of the rocky pinnacle that had been her original goal. Once at the top she laid on the slightly rounded surface and rested. The sun was nearing the horizon and she’d have to leave soon, but she ventured one last query, hoping that the voice wasn’t gone. “So, tell me…now that I’m not about to die…who the hell are you?” Though the answer was only confirmation of what she already suspected.

“Nephthanee, my child…I thought you knew.”
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Old 05-14-2012
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The Ineffiable Quality of Being

Aka

Hands covered of dry skin stretched tightly over bone caress the surface almost lovingly. Clouds form in their wake, rain falls, lightning crackles within its depth like some stygian tempest, all silently. He utters a word in some language nearly forgotten, guttural, and then another, a gesture and the great globe grows darker. Images that resemble places from a nightmare flicker into view then fade beneath billowing mists. His hands pass over the surface again and again, each time a different image appears, some horrible and grotesque beyond imagining, some hauntingly familiar but misshapen and pale as if devoid of life. Each gesture is made more quickly, his movements more cursory. Muscles covered by almost translucent skin bulge as his jaw sets in concentration and frustration.

Finally, his face contorts with rage as he sweeps aside the images. “Where are….YOUUUUUUUUU!” He screams as hands magically imbued with inhuman strength crash down on the pedestal cradling the huge crystal sphere. “You think to escape me…me? I GAVE you THAT LIFE…” Aka Seth Manah makes another gesture and a chair is flung across the room to crash against the wall, reduced to splinters that litters the floor in a wide circle.

He stops, then paces, suddenly calm, his hands clasped behind his back as his walks slowly along the great hall, muttering. “Why now…why can’t I see you? Something….ahh yes. Something.” He turns and stares as if looking through the walls to the west. His face contorts into a rictus of flesh pulled into a caricature of what was once a handsome man. “I know…I know…” He whispers….then laughs. It echoes through the great hall to no one.

He raises a hand with an intricate gesture and says a word…again strange and unknown, then begins to speak. His words seem to echo hollowly as if spoken into some great void. “Do not think to ward her…I warn you. She is mine.” He pauses walking a few steps. “You only delay that which is inevitable. My hunter will find her despite your wards. Trifle overmuch, my dear Nephthanee…and I will come for you, as well.”

As if in response, a great beast materializes behind him and waits. Aka takes a step then turns, his steps falter as he glimpses the beast, massive and luridly muscled like some gargantuan demon summoned from the Abyss. His eyes narrow as he stares up at the great thing as it watches him with an intelligence that belies its massive form.

“Is this your answer; some puny summoning from the abysmal depths to frighten children?” Aka makes to cast on the beast. “Hardly…my friend, and such a temper, and those threats.” She sighs deeply in mock annoyance. “And, please, do not harm my servant.” The lilting voice and ethereal image of Nephthanee whispers from close behind him, then walks some distance to his side.

“Listen to me…you old fool. That soul no longer knows you. She is not whom you loved. I do not seek enmity between us…you were a friend once, perhaps still are. But I am not the weakling you remember all those years ago.” With that the beast spreads wings that stretch hugely to either side, flames envelope its body and sets that which is close afire. A booming laughs shakes the hall…and the beast take a single step forward, its immense weight causing a dull rumbling thump as its foot falls. ”Do not think to rouse my ire, Aka…you will find me a very formidable foe.” The words fade as does her image, leaving the huge demonic form advancing on Aka.

He takes a step back and casts on the beast, and nothing, no great hiss of destructive forces, no thunderous roar from the pain inflicted. Unfazed, the huge demon advances on him slowly. It swings an enormous taloned hand spewing acid from razor sharp claws. Those claws, more like metal spikes, pass inches from his face as Aka scrambles backward to avoid the beast’s onslaught. Smoke rises from clothes splattered with acid; furnishing within the room burst into flame and burn with a guttering fire filling the room with an acrid soot. Aka retreats across the room, slipping and scrambling to escape, then casts … but the beast continues to advance and then slowly fades leaving a booming laugh to echo as the image melts away. At last as the beast vanishes, his back pressed against a wall, his hands frozen before him in some arcane gesture, he just sits and stares…panting, his eyes wide with terror. Finally in a fit of rage…he screams into the smoke filled room, his fists tightly clenched and his eyes stretched wide.

Last edited by Sunset Fallow; 05-15-2012 at 11:36 PM.
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