"I know where I am going and I know who is going with me...” Daniel sang between his teeth, as he skimmed between one world and the next and this time and that.
“Oh bugger." Daniel exited into the Weeping Lands upwards. Through the centre of a small grassy knoll to be precise. The knoll was in the centre of what had once been the main courtyard of Linstock. The great Castle had long ago been reduced to rubble, by time and the “life” of the Weeping Lands.
Daniel felt his shape change quickly, here he was just another feathered firedrake, no magic only a huge appetite and a sarcastic wit. Juzzza’s body rolled from his mouth and rolled down the knoll. It came to rest, head on one side as if asleep. Ok, Daniel thought “I am here but what is the time?
“Hold that thought.” A soft female voice said.
“You were inside my head!” Daniel cursed and turned to look at the speaker.
“You were thinking very loud.” Out of the shadows of the ruins came a cat. A very large cat. Twelve feet in length and that didn’t include the tail or the silver edged wings folded on its back. Alisha, the dark lady, winged panther and so much more. She opened her wings with a snap, though Daniel noticed the movement was stiff, as was her footsteps as she moved towards Juzzza’s form. Her muzzle was also greyed and her jade eyes dark with memories.
“Oh Shite I am that late! Where are?” Daniel blathered, his small wings flapping.
“Gone, I am alone.” Alisha answered as she nuzzled Juzzza, then licked his face with her rough tongue.
“But if they are gone, why…” Daniel was puzzled this made no sense.”
“I sensed there was something I hadn’t done yet. Maybe this is it.” She settled down by the form of the once loveable rouge and softly purred. The vibrations rippled down her body and transmitted themselves to Juzzza. His lips parted and he sighed.
“He is dead,” Daniel came up and peered into the man’s face.
“The body is damaged badly true.”
Alisha raised an eyebrow, “depends if his spirit will allow it.”
“That’s still around?”
“It’s debating whether to leave. Who is he by the way?”
“Errr….family.” Daniel said in a rush.
“I see.” Alisha gave a half growl and narrowed her eyes.
“It’s not like that.” Daniel muttered.
“Not like what? I just don’t like the way he uses those he should not and have others clean up after him.” Alisha hissed.
“Damn he must have made you mad before he left.” Daniel mumbled.
“He left, that made me mad.”
“You said you felt something you hadn’t done?”
“He could have kept me company.” Alisha retorted.
Daniel opened his mouth then snapped it shut. Best not to argue with a woman in this mood, especially one that can swallow you whole. “His name is Juzzza.”
“Hello Juzzza,” Alisha said and licked Juzzza’s face.
“Go away, “Juzzza’s spirit said on another plane as the figure of a woman came up and sat beside it. She was plump, grey haired and despite her years had the expression of a bemused kitten.
“I will after you tell me all about it.”
“Not much to tell, Juzzza rasped, “I loved her. she killed me. It was all for nothing.”
“Love is never nothing and death is a state of mind. Do you want to live?”
“Nothing worth living for….”
“Let’s just run through things.” Alisha suggested.
And they did.
Juzzza poured out his story and Alisha nodded, tutted, hissed, booed and sighed in all the right places. As they talked Juzzza’s body began to heal. It breathed normally and was ready for him to return if he wanted too. His spirit was weak and unsure but has still attached. Alisha withdrew from the spirit plain. It was enough for now.
She rose stiffly, swearing “Damn joints…” she looked at the drake. “you hungry?
“You hunting?” Daniel licked his lips and took to the air. Alisha opened her wings and rose gracefully. She had gone but a dozen feet when the earth round Juzzza began to boil. Alisha roared and turned on a wing tip. “This is not your place and time, you have broken the laws.”
“I have good reason.” A feminine voice answered as a blast of power hit Alisha, sending her spinning to the remains of a wall.
“Noooooooooo” Daniel screamed and dived for the fast disappearing form of Juzzza.
May 27th, 2004, 08:18 AM
Juzzza sat on the log that did not really exist and looked down at his feet that did not really exist with eyes that did not really exist... It was a strange feeling.
He felt himself in mind and memory but had no sensation of substance. Like a waking dream where he retained control.
He did not understand fully why he had denied the light, why he remained in this half-realm. He truly felt that there was nothing for him in the real world on one side of the realm, but at the same time he was not yet ready to join the light on the other.
The woman had asked to hear his story and he had told it, he could still not believe the end, that he had died and who had killed him. He wondered if the love he still felt for Myst kept him in that place, or perhaps it was the nature of his passing. He had heard of restless spirits retaining a connection to the real world. Did he have unfinished business?
Just then a light burned in the distance, and holding to physical habits his spirit had yet to forget, he held up a hand to shield his eyes.
A woman walked across the void between his log and where she had appeared, a patch of lush grass appearing beneath each step as she strode forward, a patch disappearing as she lifted each foot from it.
At first he thought it was the plump, friendly woman he had been talking to previously then he realised with a jerk that before him, looking as she had when they had first met, was Lady Danika.
"Hello Juz," she said, smiling, her eyes full of sorrow.
"Dani... I," he began but she hushed him by stroking his face and gently shooshing with her lips.
Danika sat beside the Rogue, her hands placed on her lap. She leaned her head on his shoulder and reached for his hand. He let her lift his hand, and if he had been alive, goosebumps would have raised at her touch.
"Why are you here Dani? Are you really Danika, or have you been conjured by one of these Gods to string me along yet again?" said Juzzza.
Dani raised his hand to her lips and kissed it softly. He looked down into her chestnut eyes.
"I am Danika Juz, or at least I am my spirit, my form here is how you wish to see me, I have no control over that," she smiled. "No God has sent me love, I promise you. The Gods are powerful and they can manipulate the spirit world as they can the real world but they can't control everything. I am here because you need me to be, I am here because you need me to convince you to do what you already know you must do."
"Why would I go back? The games of men and elves mean nothing to me anymore, the one person I loved has..." Juzzza paused, realising what he was about to say and suddenly he felt guilty.
"The Gods are still using you to achieve their will Juz, your body has been taken by Varsnya to be used as a hound, to hunt the Hat Man. And there is something else."
Juzzza was angry and his eyes flashed, again the Gods intended to use him as a puppet and again, his father was in the middle of the mess. He waited for Danika to continue, his fists clenched.
"I helped to create a powerful being with Albert. Quinot was not really my brother, he was a creation, a being to carry the Kult'ar in his chest. It was a cruel trick, even the boy did not know what he was. Now he is real and he has the powers of human and elf at his disposal. Juz, Albert activated the Kult'ar after you were killed, he destroyed the elves."
Juzzza's fingers fell open and he cupped them to his face, sobbing. Danika placed an arm around his shoulders and stroked his hair.
"Myst survived Juz, she was carrying your child and he saved her. Now she is alone, she is the last remaining elf and she carries a powerful being inside her. The balance in our world is now worse than ever, we have a living Kult'ar under the guidance of Varsnya's desciple and your own son, who will carry the power of a mage, born into a world not ready for the consequences."
May 27th, 2004, 10:48 PM
[Starts near the end of Juzzza's ending, will be self-evident]
Reed felt so cold in Gina's arms. "The healer had better hurry," she mumbled. Gravin looked down at them both and nodded. Reed was looking terribly pale, a striking contrast to the black of the assassin's robes he was wearing. His chest was heaving, irregular bursts of breath, too slow, too flat. It did not look good at all.
And then it began, slowly at first, and hardly noticable, but growing ever more intense. Soft threads of blackness rose from Reed's pores, weaving upwards to the ceiling of the cavern. Several threads merged into thicker things, whirling things, eddys of dark.
"Wha-" Gina only barely resisted an urge to drop Reed and fly backwards, away from the blackness that made ordinary darkness look bright. The eddys combined into a pulsating blanket, putting Gina in mind of smoke. "What's going on," she exclaimed, eyes big.
There was no response. "Gravin?" She looked up and saw Gravin stare into the distance. The dim light made him squint.
"It's Quinot," Gravin exclaimed, hurrying forward, but his boots slipped on a puddle of blood, and he fell. His eyes searched for his little brother, and found him. A wave of purple light emanated from his mouth. "What have they done to my brother?" Gravin's voice a higher pitch than usual.
And then Reed's muscles started to twitch uncontrollably. Gina tightened her grip, trying to steady him, despite the exodus of shadows, for what else could this be.
"Forget about the healer," Gravin mumbled, his voice strangely calm. "My brother's just incapacitated all the elves I can see. What have they done to him?"
Gina shook her head. "I doubt the healer would be in time. We're losing him..." The twitching had subsided. The breathing nearly so.
"No!" Gilli swooped out of nowhere. "You're not going to die on me, Reed. You're not..." And then she floated slightly backwards, more puzzled than worried. "He stabilizes. How..."
And it was true. His heart slowed down, and his breath picked up. Gina and Gilli stared at each other, not knowing what to say.
The healing has began, my dear. Soon you will be whole again. This is my gift to you, and you, in turn, will work for me.
The voice was everywhere, and everywhere was a vague concept. Body and mind apart, such a strange feeling. Reed tried to see, but found no eyes to see with. Within a dysfunctional body? Dying? The healing has begun?
"And, pray tell, why would I work for you?" Reed ventured.
Your motivation is none of my concern. Suffice to say you will. You have set the shadows upon this world, and now you will go and catch them. Did you really think you'll get off that easy?
"You wouldn't happen to be a goddess of light, would you?"
It's one of my favourite labels. But you don't really care about labels, do you?
"And you would be a shadow hunter?"
Why, no, my dear, that will be your job. But fear not, you will have assistence. I shall send a soul to accompany you on your efforts.
"Hey is this my body or some kind of fun fair for supernatural entities. I'm beginning to think I want my shadows back."
How droll. You mortals can be so amusing. And where's your gratitude? I've granted you life!
"At least you're capable of irony. I like that in a goddess." Reed sighed and then he opened his eyes.
"Reed!" Gilli exclaimed, circling him, torn between her joy at his miracle regeneration and the frustration of not being able to hug and kiss him, like a regular girl with a regular body.
Gina looked down at him. "I thought, we'd lost you."
Dazed Reed sat up. "I'm rid of the shadows, I think," he mumbled. Then he shook his head, attempting to shake of his stupor. He tried to stand up, but found he was too dizzy. He sat back down. "Gilli? Gina?" Staring ahead, eyes open but not focussed, he went on rambling. "All my favourite girls start with a 'G', except for Arleena, who starts with an 'A'." He closed his eyes, and his right hand went to his brow. His head slumped slightly forward, slanting slightly to the left, straining his neck. When he opned his eyes, they caught onto something that could be a body, were it not for the weird angle it described. Reed squinted, turning slowly.
"Close your eyes," Gilli said urgently, "Relax. Don't look."
Which was exactly the wrong thing to say.
May 27th, 2004, 11:51 PM
They had passed many an elf on their way back to Suzé's, but not a single living one was among them. His body drained and tired, Reed hadn't felt anything, but a vague feeling of sadness. He'd stopped before an inn he recognized, looked at it for a while, but dared not go inside. When they finally arrived at their destination, it was a relief to see Suzé's elven features animated and lively, as ever. It didn't matter that she wasn't really an elf. At moments like this it was no disgrace to indulge in a little comfortable illusion.
"So you're back?" Suzé said. "A lot has happened, you know. And you bring another guest?"
Reed turned slowly, looking a while at Gravin before speaking. "This is Lord Gravin Longress, from the Crystal City. He had nothing better to do, than come with us. We're heading out of here. We came to get Arleena, say good bye, that kind of thing. And how are you?"
Suzé shook her head. "The last thing I wanted was free shadows. But it was inevitable the moment you called to them. I'm surprised to see you alive, though. How come, the shock of the shadows being torn from your body didn't kill you straight away."
"I'm glad to see you, too," said Reed, absentmindedly examining an elven ornamental dagger, hanging on the wall. He picked it up, and started to play with it. Suzé watched him suspiciously.
Arleena came through a door. "I thought I heard your voice. I bet you've done something incredibly stupid."
"He's slit his wrists and almost bled to death. Stupid enough?" Gilli winked at Arleena.
"You..." She shook her head. "Just when I thought you reached your maximum level of stupidity you suprise me."
Reed bowed his head, closed his eyes and smiled. He took a step in Arleena's direction.
"He almost died, too," Gilli continued. "But then he recovered, just like that."
Arleena frowned. Suzé turned her head ever so slightly in Gilli's direction, putting a finger to her chin. Reed opened his eyes, intending to look Arleena in the eye, but something made him look down at the dagger he was still playing with. Confused, he watched his grip tighten around the hilt.
Startled by Reed's expression, Gilli dove into his mind, but let out a scream, as she was pushed backwards by an alien momentum.
Suzé's jaw dropped open.
Arleena stared, at Reed as his hand shot forward, and buried the dagger into the side of her belly. Her eyes opened wide, staring at Reed unbelieving.
Reed looked into Arleena's eyes, as he felt his hand pushing against the soft mass of her belly, blood warm upon his finger. "Not me," he managed, his lower lip trembling, tears starting to sting his eyes.
"Hey, no pain," Arleena gasped.
What kind of body is this. Pitiful hand-eye-coordination.
Reed noticed the voice in his head, but payed no attention to it.
"You don't get anything right, do you?" Suzé scoffed. "You found my message about shadow hunters, and still you're not prepared."
Reed ignored her. With horror, he felt his hand turn, releasing a new wave of blood from Arleena's wound.
"Friends suck..." Arleena mumbled, sinking to the floor. Reed let go of the dagger, and sank to his knees beside her, brushing a strain of hair from Arleena's face. Tears were blazing down his cheek. He opened his mouth, but couldn't speak. Arleena forced a smile, tried to raise a hand to Reed's cheek, but failed half way. Reed snatched it with both his own hands, felt a faint movement of fingers, pushing into his palm, and then nothing. There was no saving her, the dagger had been planted with precision.
You call that precision? That was supposed to be a quicker death. We have to practice, you and I.
And still Reed ignored the voice. Nothing mattered. Nothing at all. He collapsed over her, sobbing uncontrollably.
Gilli hovered in the corner, feeling powerless. She had failed Reed. When he had needed her most, she had failed him.
Gina and Gravin just stared.
"Your little trinket will not hurt me," Suzé muttered under her breath, looking down at the sobbing Reed. The fool had led the shadow hunters right into her home. She gritted her teeth. So be it. For good or worse, it had begun.
March 19th, 2005, 11:08 PM
To the Proprietors of Loveable Rogue Inc.:
I am to understand that it has been almost a year since your group has been active. I would like to be given this time under heaven to explain my purpose. In the days of Qing Ming, Prime Minister of Wei during the Spring and Autum Period the land was in turmoil and he wished to bring it to peace and unite the world under the leadership of his Emperor. But as the scholar Nan Chu has said: sometimes Heaven ordaines that the capable will only cause themselves grief when they fail to recognize the alloted time for a dynasty is at an end.
I feel that such a time has come. I will not waste your time by explaining the omens that cry out "The time of the Han is at an end!". You have likely seen them too.
My point is this. My body has died in this time. I was unable to deligate the tasks before me, and even managing everything has failed to bring my lord to the throne.
I do not regret leaving my thatched hut those many years ago. Now, I think I want to return to those days of comfort and simplicity. I want to find gainful employment with your group of adventurers.
As you know by now, I am dead. But I have been assured that I may project myself to your time and place. In fact by Heaven's Mandate I will be allowed affect change on the physical plane once more and from time to time I have been told I will be rewarded with a physical presence.
Please take the time to read my resume and let me know if you have any use for a worthless aparition as myself.
Objective: To lead a party of adventurers to the fulfillment of their quest with a minimal loss of allied and civilian life.
200 A.D. – 208 A.D. Liang Food Local
Employed several workers to toil on family farm.
Engaged in heavy farm-work often.
Made connections with men of talent.
Fire starter training.
208 A.D. – 209 A.D. Jingzhou Provincial
Coordinated forces during war crisis.
Managed Generals to get the most out of their abilities.
Set thousands of fires.
Was instrumental in saving the Southland from invasion.
Revamped the Administrative system of the entire province.
209 A.D. – Present Shu Kingdom
Orchestrated the invasion of Shu from Jingzhou.
Set many more fires.
Captured King Meng Huo seven times.
Pacified the southern barbarians and received yearly tributes.
Invented Sliding Bulls and Running Horses decreasing time needed to transport grain and supplies.
Created Warrior Farmer communities to build supplies and provide year round training, increasing the training and readiness of soldiers tenfold.
Expanded territory into Hanzhong.
Invaded Wei seven times gained much territory.
Improved the agriculture and economy of Shu tenfold.
Fire Expert, Subterfuge, Expert in judging land for theatre tactics, Can trick nearly any Enemy General, Can summon natures elements Expert with Wind and Rain, Can read the will of Heaven through astrology.
195 A.D. – 200 A.D. Nanyang Toaist Instuitute
Major: Phd. Art of War
Minor: MCBA (Master’s of Confucian Business Administration)
March 22nd, 2005, 08:35 AM
Return to sender.
Post stamp: Post office Hull City
Dear Mr. Zhung Liang,
The Lovable Rogue Inc. seems to have left their base neither having cancelled their P.O.Box, nor having payed their bills. Rumour has it that most of them are dead, and they have been instrumental in getting rid of the twin threats of the Kult'ar and the Dark Elves of Derudin. Achievements notwithstanding the management of GNK Postal Service cannot abide such behaviour. We have discontinued their P.O.Box and are still awaiting settlement of a rather substantial bill.
Should you happen across information - rumour or otherwise - of their wherabouts, we would be grateful if you could let us know.
Post Office Hull City
GNK Postal Service
March 22nd, 2005, 02:31 PM
"I smell trouble..." Albert said softly as he peered out from under the large brim of his hat. Albert was leaning against the wall of the main post office of Hull city, as the post men and women trundled out of the sorting officem towards their bikes.
"Can I eat it?" Daniel asked with a sigh and belched a small plume of greenish smoke.
"Gad's what have you been eating" Albert snapped as he pinched his nose.
"Well, let's see. Pickled herrings one barrel, nope that wouldn't cause that, nor would the five layer pie or..."Daniel stopped and looked down the street at one particular postman, trying to cram his very large frame on to a very small bike. The firedrake pulled on Albert's left trouser leg, letting a trickle of flame curl upwards towards Albert's groin.
"Watch it." Albert said.
Daniel's left foreclaw pointed in the direction of the postman, now wobbling up the street swearing "crap on a stick, I can't find the pedals."
"It can't be..." Albert remarked and pushed back his hat.
"It is or I am dung beetle. That's it I ate a good dozen with a martini chaser."
"Shows what damage martini does to the system doesn't it." Albert said and moved off the wall and started to follow the wobbling postman.
March 23rd, 2005, 12:25 AM
Rumour has it that most of them are dead
"Did you hear that Urk? We're dead."
The goblin cackled as it ran off into the throng of the tavern seeking items to thieve.
Kahn leant back with his feet up on the table, tearing roasted meat off the bone of a mammoth sized leg.
"Dead indeed.", he muttered.
March 23rd, 2005, 12:44 AM
To the Administrative offices of Hull City:
My Name is Zhuge Liang, former Prime Minister of the Han. I have need to purchse the old offices and business liscense of Loveable Rogue inc. Could you please point me towards the current owner of the building that their offices were located. Also if you could let their creditors know that I am willing to purchase their debt in Gold that would be heaven ordained.
May the stars bring your fortune
Zhuge Liang: styled Kongming, Master Sleeping Dragon, Prime Minister of Shu-Han.
March 23rd, 2005, 03:26 AM
"Sebastian?" Cassandra Guildentstein called out, standing up from her desk, "I think you better read this."
"What is it?" he asked, taking the letter.
"Someone wants to buy the building and business license for Lovable Rogue, Inc."
Sebastian scowled confusedly as he read the letter, then looked up at the red-headed woman beside him.
"He wants to buy the building and license? He can't buy the license, that's against city law."
"I don't think he knows that."
"What about the building, what's the status on that?"
"It's owned already."
"What's its tax status? Can we get it for that?"
"Paid up, local owner. They've got five months until the next payment. So what do we do?"
"They send a bribe?"
"Offered to pay the creditors in gold?"
"So no bribe," Sebastian sighed, leaning back against the edge of the table. "Take a letter Cassie."
To Zhuge Liang, former prime minister of the Han.
From: Mayor Sebastian Montague, Port City
we would like to thank you for your interest. We have passed your generous offer to the building owner and to all creditors. The license I regret to inform you cannot purchased by city ordinance from the original owner, however you are free to file for your own license.
Appropriate forms have been submitted for an Adventurer's license, please include a fee of 10 gold sovereigns in Port City currency.
Mayor Sebastian Montague, Port City Hall.