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  1. The Barbarian Raid Part II: Trials by Fire [The Plains Below the Hill] Well, if the bear had begun charging, so rudely interrupting his acrobatic throwing, then that was the moment Viscerex stopped throwing. After all, baiting a thing and throwing oneself heedlessly into its arms were two very different tactical decisions, and the one Viscerex chose ended without his being scooped up like a toy. Indeed it saw him weaving low and sliding laterally beneath the arms of the beast. Once the monstrous claws passed over his helmet, he vaulted away from the entire situation, spinning through the air with a round kick to spur his momentum. He hit the ground some ten feet away, landing for all the world like a nimble performer. And then he threw his third ax. He knew not what he was fighting. Somehow, this woman was able to shift her shape to immense size. Yet he knew bears, and he knew how stubborn they could be. He was unsure of his ability to kill such a creature, and if he could kill it, it wouldn't be with little axes. Yet killing it wasn't his intention. Let it rage and run and swipe and roar-- so long as it was doing all that at him and no one else. His warriors were strong, proud men, and against a creature like this every one of them would die. Viscerex alone was wise enough to fight it by not fighting it. By delaying it. By annoying it. By stabbing again and again at its clear weakness: its ferocity, its feral and unthinking nature. Even if there was a human mind behind its actions, he would frustrate that mind until his warriors had done what they came to do, and then he would run. It was a simple plan, albeit one that required him to dance a hair's breadth from this shapeshifter's claws for a while. Warily, Viscerex stood, his eyes glancing between the bear and the elf. Now that he had jumped aside, both were in clear view. @Better Than Gore [Coth] Two more arrows whizzed past the elf as he dove for cover. Aethelmir cursed and waved his warriors forward. "Get it! Don't let it escape!" he yelled, knowing that the elf, if left unaccounted for, would be at leisure to pick his men off from the shadows. Elves, as the stories told him, were hunters without peer. They had to capture and kill this creature, there could be no other resolution. Damn his hesitation. The chief would never had tarried so in dispatching such a dangerous enemy. Warriors surged past Aethelmir, five men with axes and swords, two with bows, and one with a spear hissed furiously as they swarmed. They seperated into two bodies, wrapping around the chicken coop and presenting the elf first with the end of a spear, then overhead swings from the axes and swords. The twin archers kept running, unable to fire safely into the crowd of armored men. @Spooky Mittens
  2. Unfortunately Coth is mostly morally opposed to foreign intervention on account of its politico-religious doctrine against temporal powers as illegitimate and fleeting. But I do like to keep an ear out regarding larger Terran politics since eventually we’ll be on the world stage. One day we’ll show up to one of these megathreads to inform everyone that they’re all fake governments. But maybe not today.
  3. The constriction of the military forces back to the heartland. Maybe I’m using the wrong terms, but you know the basis of my faction: the military left certain areas to be used to protect the central gov’t. Hence the rise of my church.
  4. Is this in any way related to the Civil War? If so, is this Terran government the one whose retreat led to the factions (like mine) developing?
  5. The Barbarian Raid Part II: Trials by Fire [Leaving the Mysterious Grove] Constans was a lot better. He could move again now, for the strange life that had occupied his body was out (and lounging around his neck). Unfortunately, Constans didn't feel better. He still felt the phantom pain of the fires on his skin. They were the fires of Coth, stigmata from a dream. His skin tingled. He had been given a warning from god. Return, it said. He ran through the silent church, the snake's head bobbing gently with the rhythm of his gallop. It turned to watch Ioreth behind, flicking its tongue to taste her unease. "Coth is burning!" Constans shouted over his shoulder as he sped around a bend, "It's under attack! I don't know how!" He blitzed up the staircase, taking two steps at a time. He passed the strange church and didn't notice at all that the shadows were now quiet. He didn't care. Coth was burning. Yet when they reached the surface, the world was at peace. A calm wind blew through the forest, a woodwind accompanying the chimes of birdsong. The quietude was offensive to Constans, whose blood was thrumming like a war drum. Like so many times past when god reached out to him he felt burgeoning power heating his skin. That god was with him still gave him confidence, and shame. Had he not run off, had he not been so comfortable with- He shook his head. No. There was no one to blame but the people who brought violence to Coth. "I don't suppose you have any magic that can get us to Coth very quickly?" he asked Ioreth, once she'd caught up to him. Around his shoulders, the serpent looked back and forth between the two, as though following the conversation. @KittyvonCupcake [The Plains Below the Hill] Viscerex felt the strange sensation of flight and realized that his horse was no longer under him. Only air was between him and the earth now, and the earth was coming fast. The barbarian lord hit the ground with a roll and found himself, to even his own surprise, on his feet. Behind him, something roared and something whinnied. The horse was on the ground twitching, its powerful neck broken like a swamp reed. Looming over it was a bear. Viscerex tilted his helmeted face from the elf, which he had only just noticed, to the bear, noting that he was directly between them. A terrible position. His spear was still in hand, but now dismounted he felt uncomfortable holding on to it. With a sweep of his legs, he faced the bear and hurled the spear at its chest. Let her break that. Without looking down, Viscerex drew a throwing axe from his belt and whipped it toward the bear. It was the least he could do for his broken horse. He pulled forth another and another, hurling five axes in quick succession. He stomped and spun toward the bear with each throw, like an acrobat and a juggler, showcasing dexterity that surprised even his own men. Those men, hidden behind the camouflage screen, watched in awe as their lord engaged the bear-woman. Later, they would talk of how each would make her their wife. Now, they scrambled to load their bolt throwers. Out on the field, Viscerex made sure to close in. He had two primary reasons for getting so close to the bear. First, if he kept himself placed exactly between the bear and the elf, he might convince the elf to hold off its fire for fear of missing and striking the bear. Second, he needed to distract the bear. He had known bears and women both for more than thirty years, and neither cared very much for being menaced at. The longer he could keep the she-bear's attention, the likelier his men could fill its back full of flaming bolts. So when he found himself within her huge, furry reach, he made a point of exhausting all of his weapons. He made a plum target for a violent animal. @Better Than Gore [Coth] Aethelmir held a woman down, one hand over her mouth as she tried to scream, the other clutching a long knife. He stood leaning over her, looking around frantically as his raiders slipped past. They snaked through the shadows cast by the fires, a pack of wolves come to take what they could from a fallen behemoth. They'd gathered some wealth already, piling it in loose bags which they'd left for later in one of the unassuming houses at the bottom of the hill. Now they were threading their way up to the church at the hilltop where they expected to find even more riches. They'd brought fresh bags. As the last of his nine-man party passed him by, Aethelmir looked down at the thrashing woman and gave her an look like a brother might to a child-sister having a tantrum. "Please," he whispered, "Be quiet woman. None of this requires blood." he said, waving his knife around to encompass all the fire and the raiders and the chaos, "And I already have three wives. Four? God forbid it. So you see? You are safe. Just stop trying to scream." She did, and he gently removed his dirty hand from her mouth. The skin around her lips was oily with his sweat. He leaned back and gave her a smile. "See?" he said. And indeed, she lived. Aethelmir slipped out of her backyard and joined his small band partway up the hill. It was a beautiful sight: the comfortable looking homes, the sprawling farmland, the gentle slope of the ground and all the depth it provided the landscape. And the fires. They were beautiful too. Aethelmir counted at least five houses completely up in flames. Fewer people were still on the streets, though some men were ferrying water uphill to put out houses. There weren't nearly enough to save the town. In a few hours, half of the hill would be on fire. "Shit!" he heard up ahead. A ripple of hesitation rolled through the nine men, and Aethelmir realized he'd missed one in his count of burning houses. Before them was a sixth burning building, a one story home in front of which a tragic scene was unfolding. Aethelmir saw a boy fall, his clothing alight and in tatters, burns across his body. He had died bringing a woman to safety, to a man waiting outside. An armed man. What the hell that man was wearing, Aethelmir couldn't say. He looked like he was dressed up as some forest elf. Aethelmir needed to make a call, because eventually this sad story was going to end, probably sooner than later, and then the elf-boy was going to turn around and find himself face-to-face with nine warriors. Why not just kill him now? He wore a sword, he was prepared to die. "Loose." Aethlmir said to the tracker-twins, who carried bows. The pair of identical warriors already had their bows raised. They let fly a pair of arrows toward the spot right between Tirkas's shoulder blades. He and his burned friends could all die together. @Spooky Mittens @Fierach
  6. Vansin

    Abstruse Arcana

    "Finish my face, cretin." Nisnav said with a refined and gentle tone. The homunculus Vert sprang to attention and wiped most of the vinaigrette from its master's disordered face. Yet their guest arrived, and the creature spun away just in time to face her as she walked into the room, presenting the elf Ioreth with the perfect picture of wizard and servant waiting to receive her. Almost. Nisnav touched his cheek and observed a speck of black oil on his fingertip. He narrowed his eyes at Vert's pebbly back while the homunculus innocently announced their new guest, "Presenting Ioreth, mistress of Book|Ends. Obedient Vert has left you a plate, Lady. The food here, Vert made it himself, so you shouldn't think it poisoned." Nisnav let out his chair and stood. He wore a robe of handmade white silk velvet with its right sleeve removed and a tan damask sash around his waist. Over his empty shoulder draped a smooth ermine half-cape tied by golden rope and atop his head he wore a thin circlet decorated only by a single fire opal, a piece indicative of both dignity and restraint from excess. Were it not for the horror of his face, he would have made a kingly figure. Yet he was horrible to look upon, a king more fit for the underworld than Blairville's vibrant streets. "Another welcome visit, Lady Ioreth." he said with a macabre smile. He offered her a seat at his table with a magnanimous gesture. Upon her seating, and with the help of servile Vert, food arranged itself before her. "I have very much enjoyed Chrysthenes. More, I was delighted to discover similar lines of inquiry between he and one of my own favorites, Ildefonse, who conducted similar measurements of ambient energies around various portals with coterminal destinations. I will take Diomachus and hope he, like I, has considered the next logical step of his master's investigation, which must needs concern bifurcated passages into other worlds and the measurement of energies released thereby. Only by creating singular portals with two equally sized extraworldly destinations can we begin to distinguish the energy output of our own-- oh, and yes, Vert. The Lady's scroll?" The homunculus held out its enfeebled hands and in a small puff of smoke, the universal energy thesis appeared clutched in its fingers. Vert handed it to Nisnav who handed it to Ioreth along with payment. "Planar travel is a hobby of mine, as I have told you. This information remains pertinent and applicable, and I encourage you to keep it coming, as they say." Nisnav noticed that, perhaps to safeguard his image, Vert was no longer hand-feeding him. He willed his fingers loose from his leather gloves and reached out for a slice of cheese. Yet he found it slimy to his touch and dropped it right away. Soon, his hand was sanitized and re-gloved and hidden atop his lap. "Chrysthenes and Ildefonse sadden me somewhat. Prodigious minds, yet forever removed from our reach by cruel death. What you do is nothing short of necromancy, Lady Ioreth, bringing their thoughts back for those of us who wish to grasp at threads of their intellect. Yet even you, plumbing the depths of ancient ruins and poring over forgotten tomes, even you can only bring back what they have chosen to leave. How many awesome secrets have these men taken from us? How many unwritten thoughts? Or worse, how many prodigious ideas destroyed by natural calamity, floods and avalanches burying knowledge we will never find?" His lament had a point, and he got to it. "Among the practitioners of this sleepy city an informal competition has begun, a challenge to pioneer new brands of spellcraft. I know you have heard of it,-- you are an educated and connected woman-- and I have been awaiting your arrival this month to propose an alliance in this matter, a cooperation whereupon we will gift each other our counsel in certain mystic fundamentals for the betterment of each of our submissions. Mine may interest you particularly as a new recourse for procuring information from departed sources-- one which need not rely on books. do I have your interest?" @KittyvonCupcake
  7. Vansin

    Entice me

    Hey, thanks for the link to your thing. I'll definitely give it a read. I'm very specifically not giving my details or preferences, so as not to stop anyone from throwing their thread, organization, or idea out here. I'm looking to be inspired by something, so I don't want to limit what anyone might offer.
  8. Vansin

    Entice me

    I'm pretty good. Are you good? Let me know. Pitch what you're doing. Maybe I'll be interested? Maybe not. We'll see.
  9. [Mysterious Grove] Constans' face, as it turned out, did not look good when it was the color of a tomato. He'd vomited before, and he'd thought that was bad-- but this? His eyes darted to Ioreth and he watched her lips move. She was speaking, maybe, or praying over him. He couldn't really hear most of the words. All he heard was: THUM-THUMP! -- THUM-THUMP! -- THUM-THUMP! The blood must have been pumping out of his ears, it was so loud. And lower, his throat felt as though it was exploding. Something was swimming up his neck, ramming its way from the wrong end against every comfortable sense of nature. His chest heaved spastically, and his fingers dug harmlessly at the stone floor. "Pull it up-" Ioreth said, her voice rising after one of his thick heartbeats crashed. Constans tried. He felt a new sense of power (Ioreth's, though he didn't know it) and imagined himself breathing fire like he'd done only moments before. It, whatever it was, surged through him. He felt a shiver go down his spine that felt more like an earthquake, and his limbs splayed out, his entire body flexing all at once. It was the worst pain he'd ever inflicted on himself, and at its zenith he felt something explode out of his mouth. Wet like a newborn, something long and green was erupting from him, glinting as it poured from his throat and slumped in a growing coil on the floor beside him. It was a snake. Constans didn't know that, because he was barely conscious. The snake was long, Ioreth would notice; it took almost half a minute to extricate itself. It was alert. Its vivid green scales shined with hidden prismatic undertones as it swam away from Ioreth, its eyes glossy with fear. It hissed loudly. Its mouth opened, and a pair of liquid green fangs burned from its gums. Fangs of fire. Constans twitched as though he were dreaming. He was far away, standing in a field and looking down at a mooncap, a common flower that bloomed at night. It was a deep purple bell with hints of gold inside. It was a sensitive sort of flower, only able to stand the light of the moon, and Constans loved it for that. He cupped it in his hands, and to his horror it at once melted into green ichor. The ichor burned his skin, and he flinched away, flicking the acidic venom off and rubbing it into the grass beside him. It didn't work. The liquid caught fire, and before he could think to ask why, Constans was rolling on the ground, trying to put the flames out. New flames kept appearing on his body-- one on his hip, one on the back of his neck, under his armpit, between his toes. His skin felt like it was melting all over, but when he looked up for help all he saw was the hill of Coth above him. He saw how it was just at that moment, burning like him. He woke up by the time Ioreth was brave enough to take her eyes off the snake, which kept its back pressed desperately to the wall and hissed at her if she moved. Constans bolted upright, on his feet before he really knew he was awake. The snake hissed in newborn panic, and Constans' feverish eyes looked at it. "You?" he said in surprise. It was the snake that had hit him with a branch in the forest. Constans wanted to kick it, but almost instinctively realized that he would feel terrible afterwards, because the snake was something more to him than just an animal. He reached his hand toward the beast and beckoned it. The snake hesitated for a moment, but finally rose off the ground and arced on his hand, twisting its body up his arm until it could sweep around his neck and coil there, like some sparkling gorget. "Wow." he said dreamily. Then he blinked, as though remembering something. "Ioreth, if there's anything you need here, get it now. We have to go." @KittyvonCupcake [Outside Coth: Forest's Edge] "Finally." Viscerex turned to the bolt-throwers. The warriors manning them, some of the youngest among the warband, looked back at him expectantly. "Launch this." he said, handing a bolt to one of them. As it passed from the chief's hand to the warrior's, the damp cloth at its end lit with green fire. No one had kindled such a flame. It was the sign of god's favor, and the young warrior stared at it in awe, handling the bolt like some sacred object as though he wasn't about to fling it into the dirt half a mile away. The other two watched as the third fitted the bolt into the thrower, set up his shot-- a high arc, Viscerex suggested-- and loosed the green flame into the sky. Far away, Aethelmir watched with them. "Look!" he whispered to his small band of crouched warriors. They scrambled beside him to see the ominous fire lope green across the sky. It reflected in their eye, the glimmer a sign from god. They smiled at one another and picked up their belongings. Still bent low, they hurried across the plains between the forest's edge and the town. No one was watching them. Aethelmir wasn't sure if anyone else was coming to help them, and so guided his handful of warriors to hide behind the first homestead they found. Two quiet men he sent further, to scout. They returned describing a city in panic, and the warriors saw the scouts told true as a family ran crying past their hiding spot. Under their coarse whiskers, the raiders grinned. The next few minutes was occupied with ransacking everything they could get their hands on. They tore through houses with a mind for speed-- they wanted as much as they could get in a short a time as they could take. In the confusion of battle enemies could materialize from thin air, and moreover, Aethelmir thought, it was likely that Viscerex had signaled for them so they could cause a distraction. They couldn't dally for too long before doing their duty. Still, it was hard to tell the raiders they couldn't raid a bit first. Back on the plains between the forests and Coth, a lone man rode out to meet Nyra and Draug. Upright on a slim horse, he carried himself like a warrior. He kicked at the sides of his beast, steering it with one hand as he flourished his spear in the other. He wore fine armor, all of it stolen, with a helmet that might have once belonged to an emperor. On its faceplate was a delicate and classical rendition of a man-- an angel, perhaps. It looked out onto a world of sin and was unable to offer so much as a smile. Hooded over the face was another face, a snarling dead wolf which descended the warrior's neck and widened into broad, furry shoulderguards. The warrior tore across the flatland, standing in the saddle with his spear couched. Soon, they would be within his grasp. @KittyvonCupcake @Better Than Gore [Coth: Left Behind] Prila helped the elves find their way around town, but her thoughts were with Nyra. When she'd spoken, she hadn't meant-- she hadn't wanted Nyra to go off alone. Wasn't it crazy to go alone? Maybe not. Nyra was a strong warrior, everyone said so. Still, Prila couldn't help but worry about her idol. A fear clawed at her stomach, reminding her how alone she'd be if Nyra died because no one was here to help her. It was selfish, and she hated herself for thinking it. But she didn't stop. She nagged and nagged at herself until she couldn't resist. When no one was looking, she vanished behind a stable and began a mad streak down the hill. Trees and houses blocked a clear view, but she caught glimpses of two figures at the base of the hill. She stopped with a skid, however, when she saw the rider emerge from the forest. He looked evil. Soon, Nyra and one of the elves would reach this man. They didn't have horses, but there were two of them. Would that be enough? Prila knew she could make it three. And so, the little girl resumed her fateful gallop down the hill.
  10. I'm waiting for one round of posts in Coth. At this point that is Spooky Mittens and Kittyvoncupcake, who I will not quote here lest they feel harassed to post. Generally everyone posts about once a week, but one of our writers went on vacay for a week and that delayed us somewhat. I'm hoping my post will be up by the end of this week. After that, I'll invite Raspberry to post and once she does we will have officially begun the section that concerns this event. In no way have I forgotten about it, but I know you're a seer/believer sort. We'll have it soon, I predict.
  11. I have 1 more post before I invite Raspberry to Coth to begin the canon section which will contain our meeting, cooperating, and then negotiating.
  12. Vansin

    Feedback - RP etiquette: Consequences

    I think this conversation highlights a problem with the goal of this note about consequences. We keep trying to determine the precise level of strictness and enforcement for when players give themselves loot, powers, or advancement without paying for it with a certain currency, that currency being "struggle". To get something valuable you must have your character pay in effort as they struggle to achieve or receive whatever it is you want for them. This is an almost universal rule on good roleplaying sites, that you "earn" what you give your character. People often brag about having their OC for ten years or whatever, implying that there is a legitimate history to their character that justifies them coming into a situation with some established powers and items. They have the right to play a greater character because they earned it over time. It is in poor taste to do otherwise. Why? Why is it in poor taste to effortlessly give yourself benefits? Because that's not how good stories are written. In good literature, and especially in the fantasy genre, stories always experiment with people overcoming adversity and getting what they deserve. Almost any fantasy or pulpy sci-fi yarn has good guys, bad guys, innocents caught in between-- someone is going to win, someone is going to lose. Who will it be? Were consequences well-deserved, tragic, or boring? This question drives the tension and the drama. We as readers know this, and can recognize good story structure when we see it. We like characters that suffer and endure hardship to achieve their goals. We root for underdogs and strugglers. But trying to litigate habits that mimic good story structure, like demanding effort to pay for loot/reputation/power does nothing to guide people toward creating better stories. It mimics a grind in the video game style and that feeling of grinding is as like to encourage flat storytelling as it is to encourage exciting storytelling. Perhaps alongside the requirements, you can link to the places on this site where you advise people on how to tell structured stories, because in the end that's what everyone comes to sites like Valucre imagining they'll create. Some, perhaps, need help? I think encouraging people to be better always has to accompany the possibility of, well, consequences. I think you do to, @supernal.
  13. The Barbarian Raid Part I: A Pyre of Coth [Coth] When the first house collapsed, it sent a blossom of fire into the sky so big that, for a moment, it was like daytime. Prila watched it bloom above all the running people and wondered what sort of god would let this happen to his holy town. For all of her and Nyra's troubles only one out of every twenty people so much as bothered to listen to them. Authority or no, neither the daughter of the priest nor an innocent girl could diminish the panic in the air. Prila wasn't sure what more she or Nyra were supposed to do, but she realized that no one else knew either. That was the problem, no one knew what was going on. Realizing that they'd gotten as many people as they could into Lars' stout home and the other hiding spot underground, Prila spun toward Nyra. "Who is in charge of defending the town?!" she asked, realizing that it might not be Nyra. She'd always thought it was, but... "Should we go get someone?!" she cried, as a family feverishly pushed between Prila and Nyra. Prila proclaimed in offense, but her scoff went unheeded. Were she and Nyra the only sane people left in the town?! @Better Than Gore "Oh god, no! No, someone help!" a woman cried on the other side of town from Prila and Nyra. While the girls were not close enough to hear the cry, two men were. Tirkas and Ruska saw the screamer, an older woman wearing a cooking smock. She seemed as safe as anyone could be in a beset town, but was holding her face in panic as she stared into her burning house, torn between her fear of the flames and a love for something precious inside the home. "Helena! Come out! Come back! It's just a cat!" she screamed, but to no avail. Inside the house, among the flames, the figure of a comely young woman flickered. @Spooky Mittens @Fierach [Outside Coth: The Edge of the Forest] What commotion had drawn the glaive-bearing Nym Zael had also caught the attention of a few intermediately distanced barbarians, who crouched low at the sound of murder and sneaked away to inform their lord that enemies were afoot. The product of their intelligence made manifest in a shrill horn-blow which called out loud enough for Anouk and Nym Zael to hear it clearly. The other seventeen barbarians heard the call too, and they processed warily back to their lord, and upon visiting him were told of the news: that two and maybe more warriors had appeared behind their lines. They counted their number and found that they were two fewer than they had been an hour ago. They raged, and Viscerex harangued them against the violent newcomers and sent them off in two teams of four, keeping the rest of his men and himself by the bolt throwers. It was by one of these two four-man teams that Nym Zael and Anouk were found. The raiders were natural woodsmen, and stalked low to the ground. Each held a strung bow and gripped a killing knife in their teeth. Yet for all their naked tools of violence they carried bundled nets in their other hands, not arrows. Perhaps it was their hope to take their prisoners alive? They breached the surface of the underbrush all at once like wolves, but threw woven ropes and metal weights instead of fangs. Four nets at two women, they threw, hooting lustily between their clenched teeth and knives. As soon as the nets were cast at Anouk and Nym Zael, the men were already stringing bows, drawing and aiming no matter the outcome of their previous attempt. @KittyvonCupcake @Radioactive (For the remainder of this event, please allow me to determine which of my NPCs live and die by attacks. There is a certain number I would like to survive for canon purposes.) [Mysterious Grove] Constans did need help standing. "Something for me? Well god-bless, you shouldn't have." he said, irrepressible. Or at least he seemed, until another spasm of his bowels nearly knocked him back to the ground. "Okay, first of all, nice job with the shadow. Second, I think you've noticed something's going on in this area." he said, gesturing circles around his stomach. Her magic helped before, it really did; Constans wasn't sure if he'd be so calm without it. As it was, his calmness was quickly evaporating. He felt a strange sensation, an impression of magnitude the likes of which he had only felt twice. He looked up at Ioreth's angular face and saw another sight overlaid across the smoothness of her skin. It was a viridian dream, and it was on more than just Ioreth. Wherever he looked it remained, moving like a reflection on the dark walls, and even superimposed on the darkness itself. It was in front of him always, forcing itself to be seen. It was of people screaming. People he knew. Who were they? "I'm going through something right now. I'm seeing things again. I think there's something in my stomach. Something alive. Something moving around." he said, sounding less and less sure as he went on. Eventually he was left opening and shutting his mouth in mute apology, because now that he was saying it out loud he realized how horrifying it actually was. He should have said something sooner, instead of trying to seem fine in front of a friend. He gagged. He'd seen a woman give birth once, and he felt as though he were going through a similar process out of his mouth. It was unpleasant. "Helpme-" he gasped between surges of nausea. @KittyvonCupcake
  14. Vansin

    Abstruse Arcana

    In a tower made of an alien stone, in a chamber high above the shuffling canaille in the streets of Blairville was Nisnav Ghoulface. He was a mage of some celebrity in Blairville's arcane circles, once for the horrible deformity of his body and once again for his generous and noble conduct. It was clear to any observer that Nisnav had suffered a horrible burn to the torso and face on the right side of his body. The skin was burned away, and the muscle and bone exposed themselves across his jaw. Beneath his wet cheekskin, teeth glinted from open windows in the ruined flesh. His right arm did not exist anymore, burned down to the shoulder joint leaving not so much as a stump. Long ago, he had wrapped his body in shawls and rags and cast his magic from the shadows. No longer. Now, he was a man of influence and reputation in Blairville; he was a philanthropist, a teacher, a government volunteer, an inventor, and a businessman of no mean prosperity. All that esteem required a level of dignity he had grown accustomed to displaying. Now, he wore the cloak and belt of a respectable mage, and a wide-brimmed hat when he went outside to protect his raw skin from the sun. The children hid whenever he walked the streets, but the citizens of Blairville were kind to him, and he to them. Here, at least, he was admired. Now he was in a long rectangular chamber, awaiting a call from an elven visitor. Often Nisnav would cooperate in the pursuit of new spellcraft and, having recently hit a thaumaturgical quandary, he had sought out the famous bookseller Ioreth to counsel him on the particulars of certain natural crafts he was hoping to intervolve with his own enchantments to create new and possibly revolutionary magic. As far as he knew, she would be arriving any minute now. Whether she did or didn't, Nisnav's day continued uninterrupted. He raised his lone arm and aimed his finger toward the far wall. Across the length of the room many piles of melted and exploded clay lay strewn about the floor. More were to come. "Pull." he said serenely, and nearby a wretched little homunculus struggled to pull a lever on a strange and magical box. The homunculus's puke-green half-melted skin jiggled in effort but finally his wavering arms won their battle with the lever and the box activated. Lights shone from beneath its closed top, and it shook with a clatter before springing open like an oversized jack-in-the-box and blenching out smoke and a streak of gold into the air. Nisnav's eyes widened and he gave a gruesome, lopsided smile. "Oh, yes!" he said with a thrill in his voice. A golden bird! It was a rare product of the box, which existed for the sole purpose of dispensing animated clay birds for target practice. Yet there was no clay this time, no clacking adobe wings to give away its movements, no, this bird sailed quickly and quietly and even as Nisnav cast forth darts of acid from his fingers he knew he would not so easily catch his mark. Indeed, the bird spun and dipped past the attacks, acid splattering against the wall behind it and hissing without effect. With a gesture, Nisnav remotely slammed the door to the room shut, for immediately the golden bird made to escape. The elegant construct swooped gracefully away from the closed exit as though it had always meant to and then bore down directly at Nisnav. Such a bird had never struck him before, but the deformed wizard only widened his eyes and stood his ground. This, he knew, was why the bird-spitting device existed in the first place: to challenge him. If he shirked from a fake bird, what chance did he have in the cutthroat realms beyond? The bird aimed a blunt but painful looking beak down toward Nisnav's chest, and he swerved aside at the very last moment, like a triceratops fighter, and threw his hand out to cast at the bird as it made a leftward swing to retry its attack. From his palm, a small blue bead fired. No larger than a pellet from a toy gun, the sphere bounced into the flank of the golden bird and swallowed it, growing to a size large enough to fit the golden construct almost instantly. The bird flailed and kicked against the humming plasmatic capture field, but to no avail. Nisnav scooped the energy field up in his only remaining hand and leveled it with his injured face. The fire which had so disfigured him had not reached his eyes, and they smiled in victory. "A most fortunate counter-attack, master. Surely, I anticipated it would strike you down." said the homunculus in a thin, gravelly voice. Nisnav sighed with unyielding patience. "Spare me your repulsive fantasies Vert," he said calmly, "put the box away and prepare a lunch." Lunch downstairs was a spread of sugared bread, sliced orlupple and ribbonberry fruits, and oatmeal, with a course of lemon butter codfish and mushroom and lobster bisque. Nisnav reclined as Vert meticulously served food into his mouth and peppered his lips with gentle brushes of a napkin, as though an artist at his easel. Halfway through the relaxing meal, Vert piqued alertly, closed his mismatched eyes, and announced: "Lady elf at the door, master." "Ah, Ioreth. Let her in." Vert closed his eyes again, and before Ioreth the doors to Nisnav's wizard tower swung open to accept her. The dining hall was not so far from the entrance on the ground floor. As she entered, torches sprung to life to show her the way to the master. @KittyvonCupcake
  15. Vansin

    Books on the mind

    As I suggested to @KittyvonCupcake just earlier today: the Dying Earth books are all comprised of short stories or short story fix-ups. Perhaps not as action packed and televisiony as modern fantasy, but if you want dreamlike settings, strange magic, ruthless and amoral characters, and the most superfluous use of wonderful big words you’ll ever find, check it.