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Legacy of the Void

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A Few Kilometers South of Lirrey Village...

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Connor looked out from above an outcrop upon the desolate, charred landscape of Yh’mi as he slowly munched on his plain biscuits. His Auranite-powered exoskeleton stood empty on his left, while his newest invention; the Solabernite-powered solar-rifle sat on his right. He thought back on his adventure ever since setting foot inside this blasted, gods-forsaken place in his seemingly never-ending search of the Void.

It had been almost four months since he snuck through the wall and past the White Hand Order paladins. It wasn’t easy, though. He had to give it to them, they were tenacious in ensuring no one stepped foot into The Broken Plains. It took three attempts before he was able to get past the guards. Their religious fanaticism and extreme caution against anything that dwelled inside of the accursed place was something the inventor and researcher was concerned with. True, they sought to study and understand what made Yh’mi what it was. But their end goal was where their similarities ended: to destroy and cleanse it completely. Connor had a different goal in mind: If Yh’mi was created from the powers of the Warp that somehow went awry, maybe there was a way to purify it and show Yh’mi’s full potential. But no matter, they were far behind and stuck behind the great wall; of no consequence to him at this time.

His thought returned to Lirrey village; his current place of stay. It was almost one month since he sought safe haven in that place. The moment he stepped foot inside it felt so surreal. The weather, the people… everything felt so disconnected from the rest of Yh’mi. It felt as if an entire village including the skies above and ground below them had been one day teleported right into the middle of the blasted land. But instead of being overrun by the twisted creatures which inhabited it, they steered clear of it like it was poison. Even the white fluffy clouds and relatively clear skies stayed as it is throughout night and day. It was as if there was an invisible barrier which kept the place protected.

Like a separate dimension. Connor thought. But still somehow seamlessly threaded to this reality.

Even the inhabitants of the village behaved oddly. They seemed to have no idea whatsoever where they were or the dangers which surrounded them, brushing it off as rumors like as if he was the crazy one,  and they kept suggesting to him to visit some harbor even though the nearest body of water was the sea; which was at least over two hundred kilometers away. In addition, they never seemed to leave the place for any reason whatsoever. Not as if they had any reason to leave the place anyway. The land surrounding the village where the sun could touch was somehow useable for farming and rearing of animals. They seemed entirely self-sufficient. Add to the invisible wall of protection and Lirrey was, to him at least, a peaceful and safe haven for anyone who managed to brave and survive the horror show that was Yh’mi. The Order of the White Hand though had other ideas. They thought it was a trap by Yh'mi to lure physically and mentally exhausted adventurers and claim them forever, thus strongly advocated staying away from the village. If anyone could get in at least.

So far, they were on point about this village’s hospitality at least. They welcomed him in and allowed him to stay indefinitely. Even when he offered to pay for the food and board, they politely refused. Saying that it was their custom to treat every visitor as a honored guest. Connor was wary at first, keeping himself awake the first few nights in case anyone came to kill him in his sleep. He even tested each morsel of food they gave him for poison or illusions. Slowly but surely, he became convinced that they weren’t actively trying to kill him. He still kept himself vigilant, of course. Only asking for the bare minimum and trying to help around the village where he could. Connor would remind himself everyday of his mission and would keep travelling outside of the village with his monitoring equipment in search of any evidence which might hint at the connection between Yh’mi and the powers of the Void.

Which led him to his current state. Ever since his monitoring equipment had picked up the surge of energy southwards from Lirrey, he immediately sent out a letter to the Gaian Academy’s head researcher who specialized in studying the Warp. This he had done by travelling all the way back to the gate and pass it to a trusted acquaintance during the dead of night. It had already been two weeks and he had not received a reply nor any evidence of a research expedition making their way to him. He wondered if one day he would have to make the trip up the doomed steps himself. The inhabitants of Yh’mi were already dangerous enough. Only the gods would know what was waiting for him inside the Narrow Pass or even the Taen Mountain if he ever managed to get that far.

That was why he had been spending copious amounts of time doing what he did best: inventing and building weapons and equipment which would help fight off the abominations. Before stepping foot into Yh’mi, he procured as much Solarbernite crystals as he could carry since they contained light or holy energy that could effectively hurt the hellspawns. He already had his exoskeletal suit powered by auranite crystals that helped to increase his speed and strength, which enabled him to fight off creatures smaller than himself. Anything bigger than that, however, was debatable at best. That was why he was out here now to test his latest invention: The Solarifle. It used small pieces of Solabernite as an energy source and shot physical beams of pure light energy at its targets. The power of each beam was enough to obliterate wood planks into pieces. If things became close and personal, he had his kukri with him which was specially modified to emit solar energy along its edges at a press of a button; powered by a single Solabernite crystal at its hilt. The fact that exhausted Solabernite crystals could be recharged simply by leaving them out under the sun made it a resource that was essential for survival in the wasteland.

But the overarching theme that seemed to tower over his entire experience, even before his journey to Yh’mi, was this subliminal niggling that scratched the back of his mind. He couldn’t put a finger on it, but it seemed as if some invisible hand had drawn him towards the doomed landscape. Even the inspirations which gave him the concepts and ideas needed to produce his Solabernite inventions seemed to come from his dreams. He couldn’t remember exactly what he dreamed whenever he slept but in the morning, he would be fresh with new theories that would spur him on to tinker and experiment. However, he had not had the time to investigate further as to whether this unseen stimulus was brought on by extended exposure to Yh’mis environment, or by something… unnatural.

Connor shook his head, willing away the distracting thoughts. His mission today was to test his new weapon. Now was the time to try it out on his unfortunate test subjects. Finishing the rest of his biscuits he pocketed the empty pouch, stepped into his exosuit and picked up his rifle. He started to make his way back to Lirrey, but then suddenly he stopped. His danger senses were tingling and his gut wrenched. There was nothing but the howling, desolate winds. But in Yh’mi, one could never be too careful. With his rifle raised, Connor stood and waited.

Then the ground burst exploded all around him.

 


@jaistlyn @Shamash @Gloxie @Damnatus @Voldemort

Edited by Vetanoob

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The bright sun that shone in Lirrey dimmed and darkened the further Connor travelled from the village. The important solar energy that powered his inventions were scarce in the dreary land that surrounded the cozy haven he had just left behind. He felt a constant call from Lirrey, a longing to go back to the safety of the village and its friendly people. He could settle down there, lead a peaceful life, marry a girl and start a beautiful family…

In contrast, the land of Yh’mi was never truly warmed by the sun. A thick cloud roiled up in the atmosphere, the unpredictable high winds responsible for the airship crashes that happened in the area. The light that managed to filter through was sickly yellow at best. As Connor trudged through the desolate landscape alone, silence rang in his ears. It was a disturbing silence, devoid of life, and it was what drove most people to paranoia and the edge of insanity.

Back north, beyond the defensive wall at the encampment of Inns’th, it was a slightly different matter. For once, the bastion was bustling with activity and new arrivals. Months ago, the Head of the Order of the White Hand had managed to persuade the independent nations of Terrenus to send aid to Yh’mi, in order to capture the Furthest Point. This hill in the middle of the Broken Plains was to be a stepping stone for further exploration into the Unknown Territories, and also to act as a lookout point across the whole Broken Plains. News had spread in Inns’th that the second wave of defenders had arrived at the hill, and construction of the fort was underway. Preparations were being made for the third, larger wave to travel to the hill.

As such, the travelers that came to Yh’mi heeding the call of Connor’s letter would find themselves in relatively lighthearted company in the first leg of their journey, whether they travelled under sponsorship of the Terran government, or if they had bribed one of the suppliers for the Furthest Point effort to smuggle them into Yh’mi. Everyone knew that the journey was still perilous, but Yh’mi seemed to be lying low for now, though it could be the calm before the storm.

Beyond the Furthest Point however, the travelers were on their own. That was when the silence would hit and the fear in their head would be a constant throb.

-

Connor may have thought himself prepared, but the attack was still sudden enough to surprise. Dark shapes rushed out from the crevices of the ground and took to the air. The shapes resolved into bats; though these were not ordinary bats. They had long fingers tipped with sharp raking claws which can cause disease. There was at least six of the creatures, one of which charged straight at Connor’s face, preparing to spit venom into his eyes.

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Why in the bloody name of the gods did these kind of monster have to appear?! Connor gritted his teeth as tried to swat away at the pesky but dangerous creatures that try to claw, swipe and bite him from all sides. With their small frame and numerical advantage, even his solarifle would be useless against these more agile foes. But it didn't stop him from trying anyway. What made it worse we're their occasional acid spit which, though thankfully slow, still made for a formidable weapon. With his exoskeleton powering his movements, Connor leapt toward the direction of Lirrey village in an attempt to gain some distance away from the fluttering beasts; but the bats were able to change direction quickly and start gaining on him, shitting globs of acid at his back. Connor abruptly halted his sprint, swung behind him, took aim with his rifle pointing at the swarm's general direction... And fired! 

BZZZT! A short coherent beam of light energy shot towards the bats and zoomed past most of them, clipping the wings of one of the damned creatures and causing it to screech and fall to the ground, screeching and writhing in agony. But the fall of one of it's kind did nothing to stop the rest of the bats from reaching him once more and attacking him again. This time, Connor unsheathed his kukri and pressed a button on the handle. A humming sound filled the air as the end of the blade glowed bright yellow as solar energy coursed through it. Connor thanked to the high heavens that he had the sense to purchase all that thick, boiled leather and fashioned them as lightweight armor on his person. As one of the bats landed on his forearm in an attempt to drive it's claws into the inventor's flesh, the latter quickly slashed the former in half before it could let go and evade. 

Another one down, four more to go. Connor panted. He managed to cut down another bat using the same tactic, but the pesky creatures seemed to learn quickly. They drew back and kept a safe distance from him, as if contemplating what to try next to bring down their prey. Seizing the opportunity, Connor sprinted back towards the direction of Lirrey village once more with the bats following close behind; There was no use trying to fight them any longer if they could learn from their prey. Turning the power adjustment dial towards the high side on his exosuit, Connor's speed increased greatly but still not enough to outrun the bats. He could see the edge of the village now! If he could manage to get past the invisible barrier, the creatures should theoretically cease pursuit. Theoretically being the key word. 

The bats screeches became closer with every passing second and Connor's legs were starting to burn from use, even with the assistance of the suit. He was very close now! Ten meters! Five meters! One meter! 

SCREEEEEEECH!!! A high pitched scream sounded right beside his left ear causing him to flinch in pain, close his eyes and trip over his own feet, sending him sprawling across the ground just inches away from the invisible barrier Connor where believed to be. The three remaining bats converged onto their fallen prey, fully intent on ripping him apart. 

"FUCK. THIS. SHIT!" Connor roared, fishing out a single pebble of solabernite and flicking it onto the floor before slamming the buttstock of the solarifle onto it, crushing it into pieces and causing an unstable reaction that released a bright flash of light as bright as the sun. The duration was momentary, but the intensity of it was enough to cause the bats to be incinerated into ashes.

And all that was left was the sound of howling winds covering his breathless panting as he laid on the dirt. Pushing his goggles up onto his forehead, the inventor's sat up and crawled his way into the unperceivable wall of Lirrey's territory. He got in a few more meters just in case then collapsed onto the ground once more in exhaustion. The clouds giving way to the sunlight which basked o to his soiled frame. 

"Good day Mister Maxwell!" A chirpy girls voice called out from behind him. A blonde child no more than six years old smiled at him in genuine interest; one of Lirrey village's many odd inhabitants "You really seem to love your calisthenics in the middle of the day. Well don't let me break your rhythm Mister Maxwell! Ta!" 

As she skipped away towards the village, Connor could only return a irritated deadpan stare towards the girls back and groan. 

"God, I hate Yh'mi." 

 

Edited by Vetanoob

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[Appearance: Undir is a man in his late twenties. His body and face are rather average and unremarkable for his age, save for the extensive tattoos on his arms as well as the runes and patterns painted on his face. He wears a mixture of old leather military gear and Academy robes, along with a buckler carried on his left arm. On his back he carries a large backpack that is tightly squeezed in a number of locations with fabric strips that seem to shimmer even in the absence of movement or sunlight. Around his waist sits a modified tool belt which carries chalks, paints, and a knife.]

He’d read about the nightmarish, deadly creatures that lurked in the shadows of Ym’hi. He’d heard of the inhospitable environment. He’d even found someone in Inns’th willing to share some local legends about the area, in case there might be a hint of truth in them. Unfortunately, no amount of information could have prepared Undir for the ever-present sense of dread that seemed to permeate the entire forsaken land of Ym’hi.

At least his journey so far had been relatively calm. He’d seen a few vultures (or, at least, things that looked like vultures) circling ahead at one point, as well as a few of the Kraiths he’d been warned about. Nothing had attacked him so far, though. Somehow, this fact failed to reassure Undir. In fact, it only increased his anxiety—after all, at least an enemy that has been seen is an enemy that can be fought.

 The outline of a village on the horizon brought Undir out of his gloomy thoughts. Lirrey. It meant a chance to rest, a chance to restock supplies, and, most importantly: it meant that he wouldn’t have to travel alone anymore. Company would be a great comfort, both in terms of additional safety and the prospect of conversation. Of course, it also gave a greater chance that he’d be spotted by monsters, but on this side of Furthest Point being spotted was really an inevitability.

As if summoned by these thoughts, a flock of batlike creatures shot out of a crevasse in the ground about a hundred yards in front of Undir. His mind began to churn with possible strategies and escape options. Lirrey was too far away to make a run for it, half-a-dozen creatures was likely more than he could handle alone, there was nowhere nearby to hide… Feeling a mixture of relief and concern, Undir realized that the bats were attacking someone else. Part of him wanted to rush over and assist, but he was pretty sure that if he tried to do so the bats would rip him apart before he could be of any assistance.

The man who was being attacked managed to defend himself expertly, killing all of his foes without appearing to have sustained any wounds. With the threat eliminated, Undir hurried to some of the fallen bats and took a few samples including one of the more intact corpses, which was jarred and sealed with a spell of suspended animation that was written in runes around the exterior of the jar.

 Fascinating, there’s nothing like this in the existing records. Some kind of venom gland in the mouth, along with a nauseating fluid on the claws… As is the case with the other natives of Yh’mi, this thing seems like it was made to kill.

As his curiosity was satisfied, Undir became aware that the attempted prey of these creatures was collapsed on the ground nearby. Now that he was close, Undir could see that the man appeared to be wearing some kind of power suit, carrying technological weapons of some kind. Magitech had never been Undir’s strong suit, so he couldn’t identify how any of it worked, but it fascinated him nonetheless. He stood over the man, eager to learn more.

“Is this military gear? Was that flash of light solabernite? How did the creatures behave? Other than angry, of course,” Undir queried, notebook in hand. “Oh, and do you happen to know of anyone in the village who has mentioned an expedition or void magic?”

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Somewhere in Yh'mi, a girl with a white dress and long black hair was floating behind this guard. This guard had a dull expression and his eyes were glowing red, the same color as the girl's eyes, he also had two holes on his neck which were covered up by a bandage that was bloodied. Luna had no idea how she got to be in this... place. One second she was in her coffin, sealed away deep beneath the earth, the next second she woke up in Yh'mi. How long has she been sealed away? Was she sealed in Yh'mi, or did she somehow get transported here?

Her current location was a relatively calm area, though it was eerie and silent, some talk here and there but not a lot. Though with suspicious looks, she got around basically anywhere with the help of the guard. She had heard about this wall and how tight the security was. A week later, screams and clings of steel were heard from the wall. A guard with dead red glowing eyes and a bandage around his neck directly attacked the ones who stood watch while muttering something about a "vampire miss". Though he fell quickly this had drawn enough attention away from Luna, who was currently levitating up and over the wall to the other side. When she got to the ground on the other side of the wall she heard a boom, and her senses went into overdrive. It was in the direction of a village she had heard about. Since she had to go there anyway, she flew full speed towards the sound of the explosion... and flapping?

She had a rough idea of what was happening. While she was close, she was also quite a bit far away, she had observed the situation. Originally she planned to just go right past them to the village that she could see pretty well from this distance, she heard the words "void magic" and thus decided to stop and observe the scene, if they looked well enough, they could probably see her red glowing eyes staring right at them, listening to everything they were saying.

Edited by Gloxie

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As the mage made his way through the gate that led into Inns'th, walking among a crowd that was slowly filtering into the dangerous territory of Yh'mi, his strange eyes surveyed his new surroundings with a mixture of surprise and a sense of ambiguity that turned to tension upon his features. The encampment wasn't what he had expected. He suspected that Inns'th would prove as desolate as he had read about and heard about on his travels, but it seemed to be bustling with more traffic than it seemed to be able to deal with.

 

The mage had realized—tens of miles away from Yh'mi's northern border—that the rumors of Terrenus ramping up their activities in Yh'mi had been true. There'd been so many folk on the road and they all seemed to be headed in the same direction, making for easy travel that was liable to make many of them drop their guards. In his experience, large groups tended to afford people a sense of false bravery, which unfortunately crumbled as soon as one came to the realization that numbers weren't the end-all, be-all.

 

He didn't necessarily disagree with the aggressive nature of their tactics, but it was folly to expose any and every one who felt they could survive the precarious tight-rope of the void-tainted lands. It left too much room for the inexperienced to succumb to madness, especially if they weren't watched closely. And they weren't going to be, he understood as he navigated through the throngs of new arrivals. There were just too many of them.

 

The problem that Yh'mi presented needed to be met by professionals, first and foremost, and not just by a blob of cannon fodder from every corner of Terrenus. Of course, the mage was quite biased in that regard. His work as a prospector of tombs back home made him one such professional. Leisurely, the mage made his way to the group on tents on the south eastern corner of Inns'th as his correspondence with the smuggler had indicated. As he approached one campfire in particular, a middle aged man with a bushy, gray beard stood to greet him.

 

"Welcome, lad. You're not what we were expectin', but we're glad to be expectin' ye nonetheless," the older man greeted, reaching out with his hand for a handshake as three younger men approached from behind. "As I wrote in me letters, the name is Barliman Estarriol and these are me sons: Jasper, Ogion, and Barley Jr."

 

The young men piped up with each of their own greetings as their father mentioned their names. As they all exchanged handshakes with the mage, Barliman chimed in again. "And you're—"

 

"—Arthur Uskglass," the mutant greeted back with a grin, "I'm pleased to make all of your acquaintances."

 

Barliman ushered Arthur into the biggest of their three tents while his sons retook their positions, utilizing old logs as benches as they sat around the fire. The mage paid the older man within the privacy of the tent, and Barliman explained the plan as he marked the best areas to ditch the caravan before their arrival at Furthest Point. Barliman and his sons were traders, supplying Yh'mi's humanoid population with products from the outside world. There were many like them in Inns'th. However, unlike the others, Barliman had made his name as an adventurer in his youth, and had even traveled to the new base at Furthest Point during the first caravan. He returned to Inns'th to reunite with his sons and even more product, allowing the second caravan to leave without them and preparing for the third. The wait had given Arthur the opportunity (through one of his contacts) to correspond with Barliman, and the older man seemed more than willing to smuggle Arthur past the wall. As long as the pay was good anyways.

 

They would travel as merchants and traders. So the mage arrived as one, albeit seemingly more capable than the average merchant. Arthur carried a large rucksack made from wax canvas, a meager portion of its contents amounted to the mage's own equipment, food supply, and extra clothing. While the rest of his pack consisted of as many trading goods as he could fit, which included processed wood, ore, and furs. Most of it was turned over to Barliman as additional payment, though he kept some leftover.

 

"Ay lad," Barliman grabbed Arthur's attention after they had rejoined his sons outside, pouring ale for himself and his guest, "Ye sure ye need what's left in yer pack? I could sell it for ye. I'd take a percent, as customary, but ye'd still make a killin' when we meet next."

 

"I'm sure," replied Arthur, graciously accepting the offered mug of ale, "It might prove useful as reagents for my spellwork."

 

Barliman and his sons watched Arthur closely with awe and wonder in their eyes. But to the older man, who had met many mages during his adventuring days, his awe soon gave way to curiosity.

 

"I hope ye don't mind, Mr. Uskglass. It's not that ye don't look the part. Ye've got the look of the arcane upon ye, no doubt, but you seem more of a warrior than a wizard."

 

Arthur shrugged his shoulders and waved off the comment, showing that no offense had been taken by Barliman's characterization. He couldn't blame the older man, for the mage was certainly also a warrior. The mutant stood at six feet and a single inch, and weighed as much as two hundred and fifteen pounds. Much of his weight was thanks to his developed musculature. His barrelled chest, broad shoulders, and powerful limbs made him larger than any of Barliman's sons and nearly as large as the older man himself if not for his rotund gut and the muscles from his adventuring days hidden underneath the fat of his retirement.

 

"I've received training both as a fighter and as a mage, though admittedly I consider myself more wizard than warrior."

 

"The poleaxe you carry would suggest the opposite to us," Barley Jr. entered the conversation with his diction dripping with amusement, his eyes settling on the weaponized pole that was leaning against Arthur's shoulder as he drank merrily.

 

"What poleaxe?" Arthur asked incredulously, pretending to not understand the young man's meaning before adding in a tone drenched in mock-seriousness. "This is my wizard's staff."

 

They all stared at one another for a moment. Then they all burst into riotous laughter.    

 

 

-----------------------------------------

 

Darkness still lingered overhead as Arthur awoke the next morning and stepped out of the tent that Barliman and his sons had provided him. The mage had woke up early indeed but it hardly mattered. It remained dark over the skies of Yh’mi whether it was noon or midnight, and Barliman had prepared him for that fact in their exchanged correspondence. Bring a lantern, he said, and enough oil to last multiple days of trekking. The mage joined Barliman around the fire for breakfast, and ate and talked as his sons awoke one by one and joined them all around the fire.

 

The morning passed without incident and the preparation as they broke camp with haste, and the five of them made their way to the gate to join the rest of the third caravan. Purportedly the largest caravan to head out from Inns’th for Furthest Point, it took them nearly an hour to pile out of the gate, but soon after they were moving quickly across the rocky landscape of the Broken Plains. It seemed as if those who coordinated these migrations were getting the hang of the logistics.

 

Like the previous evening, Arthur and his smugglers were in good spirits, even as the dark and eeriness of Yh’mi’s alien landscape encroached upon them from all sides. And much like them, the rest of the caravan seemed in good spirits as well. There’d been no sightings of monsters and no one had gone missing by the end of the first day of travel. It felt as if Yh’mi were giving way to their advance, retreating from the might of the large caravan. Arthur, of course, wasn’t so confident. The land was buying its time, waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

 

“We should be arriving at Furthest Point by the end of next morning, my father says,” Jasper told Arthur as he sat next to him around the fire. The caravan had stopped for the night and they had set up their tents and fires across the expanse of the rocky ground. The encampment contrasted starkly against the backdrop of Yh’mi; the lights from campfires and torches providing both visibility and protection.

 

As they ate dinner, the mage and his companions picked up where they left off the previous evening. The laughter was a near constant early on but soon the conversation grew quiet as more and more people went to bed. Barliman had not only proved an able host, but a capable storyteller as well.

 

“Ye see, for ye can not travel through the dark lands of Yh’mi without a light. The fires that litter this camp are not for show, and they’re not just night lights to assauge one’s cowardice. They’re a necessity and that piece of knowledge will save your life, Mr. Uskglass.

“This land is alive, ye see, and it waits to punish travelers for their folly. The phenomenon is known as the ‘Eyes of Yh’mi,’ for the land SEES you in the dark and will rip your life away in a blink of an eye.”

 

-----------------------------------------

 

It wasn’t long before Arthur had turned in for the night, falling fast asleep even as his mind mulled over the stories that Barliman had told him. Barliman and Barley Jr. had remained awake, operating as sentries for their tiny portion of the encampment.

 

During his first night under Yh’mi’s darkened skies, the mage’s sleep had been peaceful albeit short as Barliman woke him up within a few hours of falling asleep.

 

“Wake up, laddie,” the older man urged him quietly, “Most of the camp is asleep and this is your best bet for leaving us without anyone noticing.

 

The mage grunted in response, rubbing the sleep out of his fiery eyes as he dressed and prepared himself for departure.

 

“I don’t mean to pry, Mr. Uskglass..” Barliman began as Arthur was tying his lace-up boots, “But what will ye be doing out here?”

 

“A contact of mine at the Gaian Academy received a message from a researcher whose somewhere south of our position. He needs help and I was in a position to offer mine.”

 

“Ah, so ye’re rescuin’ ‘em and bringin’ ‘em back then?”

 

“Actually, no, this is a rendezvous. We’ll be meeting each other and heading deeper into Yh’mi.”

 

The look of awe on the old adventurer’s face would have been comical if Arthur’s words hadn’t been so perilous.

 

“What will ye all be doing? If ye didn’t seem like such a good man, I’d suspect ye were up to no good.”

 

“I appreciate the vote of confidence but I believe this may be one of those things you’re better off not knowing.”

 

“Too right.”

 

-----------------------------------------

 

Later that evening, the mage and Barliman made their way quietly through the encampment, crouching low behind a tall boulder that obscured them. Arthur was dressed in his magely attire and carried a small iron lantern in his right hand; his rucksack was strapped to his back and looked much lighter than it had been previously. Much of his trading goods had been divided amongst the baggage of Barliman and his sons, and Arthur only carried the necessities and his weapons. His poleaxe and a wide rotella were fixed to his pack, along with his sleeping roll and a brass basin that he often used for scrying.

 

“This is it, lad,” Barliman instructed in his crouched position. Like Arthur, he carried a small lantern of his own and gripped a trusty falchion in his other hand. “Follow this crag ‘round the camp, it’ll provide ye with a natural barrier that’ll hide ye movements. Once ye reach the end, turn north east and walk until ye see Furthest Point to the West—”

 

“Then I’ll correct my direction to face north and travel the rest of the way,” Arthur finished Barliman’s sentence, dropping his lantern and reaching out with his hand for a final handshake. Grasping his lantern once more, the mage began his lonely trek, following the curve of the crag that seperated the sight of his body from the rest of the campsites that littered the landscape.

 

“Just avoid the village up north if you can help it,” Barliman called out from a short distance, attempting to keep his voice down as he spoke.

 

“Of course,” Arthur lied well as he turned back with a smile.

 

“And take this,” Barliman threw his trusty falchion, sending it into a spin that Arthur halted by catching it by the handle with his free hand. “It’s not much but it’s served me and me friends on more than one occasion.”

 

Giving his thanks, Arthur turned and walked in his crouched position until he was totally out of sight.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

Within an hour, Arthur was moving quickly yet carefully across the rocky terrain, having left the encampment miles behind. The good spirits that had characterized the early portion of the trip were gone now, and a feeling of dread replaced it. A feeling of uncertainty that made every step a chore; every motion a challenge in and of itself. The mage bared his teeth and steeled himself, knowing that he had trained all of his life to survive an endeavor just like the one that was currently presenting itself.

 

While the skies offered no indication of the time of day, the distances provided the mage with some method of estimation. As the makeshift fortress at Furthest Point came into view, Arthur presumed that morning was just arriving. He gave the hill a wide berth, using boulders and rocky outcroppings to move undetected across the land. While Arthur moved, he scavenged for food stuffs, filling an empty pouch with a multitude of Whiteflange Mushrooms. His research on Yh’mi had identified them as safe to eat, and the mage had no intentions of letting nature’s bounty to go to waste.

 

Meanwhile, the mutant remained alert. His sharp eyes, ears and nose working overtime as he walked. Peeking over a short crag, Arthur stared off to the north, his wolffish eyes shining a monstrous orange. He was trapped in the land of beasts now, but was a beast himself.

 

-----------------------------------------

During his second evening under the dark skies of Yh’mi, Arthur tried to sleep under the opening of a small cave. He’d laid traps all around (inside the cave and out) and he left a fire raging at the feet of his bed roll. His lantern was placed at his left hand side. But while he tried as he might to stay safe, the mage couldn’t stay safe in his dreams. The shapes of buildings from afar appeared in Arthur’s mind’s eye; his perspective shifting further and further back until the buildings turned into a village. Then the village turned into just speck as the backdrop became apparent. Mountains loomed overhead, palpable shadows clinging to the massive rocks with an almost serpentine like quality.

 

And Arthur heard whispers, vague words spoken in a language that the mage couldn’t understand. But that, nonetheless, the meaning could be derived in some esoteric sense. The whispers asked him to come closer, to step under the shadows of the mountains…

 

And die.

 

The mage sat up in his bedroll, having woken up with a start to find himself greeted by utter darkness. His fire wasn’t smoldering. It wasn’t embers. It was out entirely. A chill went up Arthur’s spine and fear froze him in place for a brief moment. The story that Barliman had told the mage replayed in his mind.

 

Ye see, for ye can not travel through the dark lands of Yh’mi without a light….

 

Frantically, Arthur looked to his left and found that his lantern was missing. His wolffish eyes widened in surprise, crawling over to the unlit campfire and retrieving some kindling from his pocket. If he wasn’t a mage, Arthur would imagine that the process of relighting a fire in the dark would have been terrifying. However, even with his ability to see in the dark and his magic, a layer of nervous sweat began to build up on Arthur’s skin. Speaking words of power under his breath, the mutant took a deep breath and began to spit flames onto the kindling and wood that he settled on the firepit.

 

The mage sighed in relief as a fire erupted, causing the environment to brighten all around him. He took deep breaths as he tried to calm himself down, frowning deeply as he turned his head towards the opening of his cave and found his lantern on the right hand side of his sleeping roll.

 

He must’ve forgotten where he’d placed the damn thing.

 

It was safe to say that Arthur wasn’t getting anymore sleep that night. Waiting for charcoals to form, the mutant cooked a light meal of mushrooms and ate from the pan until it was time to depart.

 

-----------------------------------------

Arthur caught his first glimpse of Lirrey as he was pushing a stone into the mouth of a two meter wide Kraith. A feeling of deja vu fluttered to the forefront of his mind as he was reminded of the skyline from his nightmare. Like his nightmare, however, mountains loomed over the small village and the whispers returned. Gritting his teeth, the mutant pushed the stone into the monstrous maw and stood up straight as he tried to push the whispers from his mind.

 

After a few moments, the mage was on his way, hoping to enter the relative safety of Lirrey before something terrible occured. Fortunately, no monsters had attacked him during his trek. Undoubtedly, luck was on Arthur’s side, though he figured that his stealthy form of travel helped matters.

 

The mutant’s eyes widened as he crossed the preternatural threshold between Lirrey and the rest of Yh’mi. The roiling black clouds disappeared almost instantly, giving way to sunny skies that Arthur had missed. While he walked through town, no villager approached to ask where he came from or what he wanted. On the contrary, they all greeted him eagerly and politely as if he were one of them.

 

“The inn is down the road,” a strange man instructed Arthur with an eerie smile causing his lips to curl, “But please, make sure to visit the harbor.”

 

“I didn’t know there were any bodies of water here,” Arthur replied curiously, though by then the mysterious villager had already turned to leave.

 

“Please, feel free to visit the harbor, Mr. Uskglass…” the man responded as he departed without another word.

 

The mage had walked the whole way to the inn before he realized that he’d never given the man his name.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

During his third evening in Yh’mi, Arthur slept soundly and ate his full (free of charge), recharging his batteries after his trip through the Broken Plains. He tried not to think too much about the peculiarities that surrounded him, concentrating solely on the fact that the villagers proved supremely helpful if not wholly benign. His sleep came easier still when the innkeeper told him about the other foreigners in town. They were likely his partners in the expedition, and Arthur made plans to meet up with them the next morning.

 

As he awoke, the mage dressed himself and latched his rucksack through the inserts in his black robes. Arthur took the stairs down into the common room and ate his hearty breakfast quickly. The innkeeper told him that the man he was looking for had walked towards the village’s limits earlier, and quickly made his way there at a run.

 

“Morning,” Arthur called out as two figures came into view from afar. Before they came into view, the mage had heard an explosion which only forced him to quicken his pace. But as soon as he arrived, it was clear that the trouble (if any) was resolved.

 

“I’m sorry for the wait. I traveled non-stop all the way from Taen,” he added, explaining the wait between Connor’s letter arriving at the Academy and Arthur’s arrival in Lirrey.

 

That morning, the mage was dressed in a black dress shirt and slacks; his brown leather boots were laced around his ankles and his black velvet robes were draped over his broad shoulders. His robes were lined with black fur, and its sleeves hung empty at the mage’s sides.

 

A leather harness was strapped to his torso along with a belt around his waist. They contained pouches filled with his occult vestments and polymorphed weapons, and holsters that carried small rolled-up scrolls. A larger scroll hung at his hip from a karabiner on his belt; a thick wax seal kept the scroll closed and its powers in check. With his new falchion hidden away, Arthur carried his poleaxe in his right hand while his lantern dangled from a rope looped around his left wrist.

Edited by Voldemort
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Connor stiffened as he heard footsteps behind him. Fiddlesticks! There can't be more of those damned monsters walking around?! In one swift movement, the inventor flipped himself onto his back and pointed his Solar-rifle at his would-be assailant... Only to find a man as old as he was. Covered in tattoos and wearing old military equipment and robes. Connor couldn't be too careful though. He heard stories of monsters who could shapeshift themselves into civilians; indistinguishable from normal people. And he was still at the border of Lirrey village. For all he knew, the yh'mi wildlife could venture within the village outskirts as long as they didn't come too close and he wouldn't know!

"Now you stay where you are! Before I shoot your head off!" He shouted. 

On 5/18/2019 at 8:52 PM, Shamash said:

“Is this military gear? Was that flash of light solabernite? How did the creatures behave? Other than angry, of course,” Undir queried, notebook in hand. “Oh, and do you happen to know of anyone in the village who has mentioned an expedition or void magic?”

Hearing the magic words, Connor continued staring at the curious man before realizing he might not be a threat. Slowly, he lowered his rifle and picked himself up. This person was who the academy professor sent? He did look like an academic. However, his military looking gear also caught his eye. If the academy contacted the government about his presence here, then it was most likely he would have to tread carefully. He couldn't allow the military to get word about his inventions. So much for Doctor Megan Starweight keeping her mouth shut.

"Firstly, no it's not military gear. This exoskeleton is my own invention." Connor responded sternly. "Secondly, yes that was solabernite. Thirdly, I don't give a damn what those creatures behaved. Everything in this hellscape behaves the same way: To kill any intruders upon this land. And lastly, yes. I'm the one who sent the request for the expedition. Did Doctor Megan Starweight brief you about it? Or was it your commanding officer?"

Before the other party could answer, Connor's danger senses tingled again. Readying the solar-rifle he scanned the immediate area for signs of any monstrous denizens. Then he saw it! A pair of glinting red eyes in the distance. He squinted and could barely make out something... someone floating in mid-air. A girl? Maybe Yh'mi was starting to play tricks on his eyes. After this expedition, he swore to himself he would get away from here and go back to civilisation again. 

"I know you're there! Come over here and show yourself before I blast you out of the sky! I have a rifle that shoots light energy and I'm not afraid to use it!" Connor growled. 

On 5/28/2019 at 4:18 PM, Voldemort said:

“Morning,”

Once again, the pit-pat of footsteps came up behind him, accompanied by a greeting. Turning around to face the new visitor, he raised a brow at the unfamiliar man. Since when was there another person inside the village? Why didn't any of them tell me? He wondered.

On 5/28/2019 at 4:18 PM, Voldemort said:

I’m sorry for the wait. I traveled non-stop all the way from Taen,” he added, explaining the wait between Connor’s letter arriving at the Academy and Arthur’s arrival in Lirrey.

 

That morning, the mage was dressed in a black dress shirt and slacks; his brown leather boots were laced around his ankles and his black velvet robes were draped over his broad shoulders. His robes were lined with black fur, and its sleeves hung empty at the mage’s sides.

 

A leather harness was strapped to his torso along with a belt around his waist. They contained pouches filled with his occult vestments and polymorphed weapons, and holsters that carried small rolled-up scrolls. A larger scroll hung at his hip from a karabiner on his belt; a thick wax seal kept the scroll closed and its powers in check. With his new falchion hidden away, Arthur carried his poleaxe in his right hand while his lantern dangled from a rope looped around his left wrist. 

"You sound like you're expecting me." Connor replied, still wary of the two men and the strange girl-like floating figure. "Are the both of you from the academy? I'm surprised you two didn't arrive together. Care to explain yourselves as how you got ton know about my letter?"

The inventor then turned towards the pair of floating red eyes. "If you're not one of Yh'mi's denizens, then come over here and we can talk!" 

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On 5/30/2019 at 2:38 AM, Vetanoob said:

"Firstly, no it's not military gear. This exoskeleton is my own invention." Connor responded sternly. "Secondly, yes that was solabernite. Thirdly, I don't give a damn what those creatures behaved. Everything in this hellscape behaves the same way: To kill any intruders upon this land. And lastly, yes. I'm the one who sent the request for the expedition. Did Doctor Megan Starweight brief you about it? Or was it your commanding officer?"

               The inventor’s response was rather hostile, making it apparent that Undir had underestimated the man’s dedication to secrecy concerning the expedition. He had best be careful—not telling outright lies, of course, but also not letting the full truth of his participation become known. Before he could respond to the inventor’s snide question, the man pulled out his rifle again. Undir dove to the ground, but he soon realized that the inventor was aiming not at him but rather some ominous humanoid figure that seemed to be levitating in the air—and did it have red eyes? Yh’mi just kept getting weirder.

               Strangely enough, though, the creature didn’t seem to be attacking them, even though it was outside the city boundaries. Perhaps it wasn’t a creature of Yh’mi after all? Undir had heard stories of curses and maladies that could make the victim’s eyes glow, but most of them were simply rumors and lacked much evidence.

               Undir was startled by the appearance of yet another new face—a rather intimidating man, who, judging by the scrolls around his waist, was a mage of some kind. The man greeted them, and Undir waited expectantly for an introduction. Before one could be made, the inventor spoke, again with a rather hostile tone.

On 5/30/2019 at 2:38 AM, Vetanoob said:

"You sound like you're expecting me." Connor replied, still wary of the two men and the strange girl-like floating figure. "Are the both of you from the academy? I'm surprised you two didn't arrive together. Care to explain yourselves as how you got ton know about my letter?"

               “Ah, sorry, let me formally introduce myself: I’m Undir Valenson, an alumnus of and adjunct professor at the Gaian Academy, though I’ve been travelling doing more independent work as of late. I specialize in runic and ritual magics. I had become acquainted with Dr. Megan during my time at the Academy—fascinating research, I must say—and she contacted me about a unique opportunity to research void magic.  The way void magic seems to defy all the laws of magic we thought we knew fascinates me, though I know very little about it. Anyway, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more.  As for your… comment about a commanding officer, I assume you refer to this?” he said, gesturing at the pieces of leather armor he wore.

               “You have a sharp eye,” Undir continued, “It did come from the military. I worked in the P.E.T.A.L research department a few years back—ended up quitting for reasons I’d rather not share. Technically I shouldn’t be wearing it, but,” he said, shrugging as if apathetic, “I’m afraid my regular equipment isn’t really designed for a place as dangerous as Ym’hi. I assume you’re the one who organized this expedition? Pleased to meet you.”

               Undir awkwardly thrust out his arm for a handshake, hoping the gesture would offset the inventor’s distrust.

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"I know you're there! Come over here and show yourself before I blast you out of the sky! I have a rifle that shoots light energy and I'm not afraid to use it!" Connor growled

She let out a giggle, this mortal was an entertaining one. She was trying to see if they noticed her, wouldn't be fun otherwise. She looked at the small creatures around her and picked up one of them, which began shaking with fear. This fleshy creature looked like it had been chewed, eaten and vomited back up, its teeth were also sharper than the average blade. She flew towards the others at great speeds while she pets this ugly creature. 

"I gotta say, that was a nice performance you two!" She took a glance at Connor and Undir. If they didn't specifically protect against it, they would hear her voice inside their heads, she was using telepathy to speak to them, this was, of course, her preferred method of speech.  She looked at their gear, advanced. Not your average everyday suicidal group it seemed. Perhaps they knew something about this place, if they didn't, their greater probably did. She threw the creature she was holding away, it proceeded to run away to what looked like its family. Luna took a look at Connor's rifle, light energy he said? Now that does sound threatening. She smiled at him, not even being close to the ground. 

"Oh sorry for being so rude you guys. My name is Luna, it's nice to meet you all." She looked back at the cutie Connor as she laid on her back, though still levitating. "I am interested in your guys' topic of void magic. As it happens, I have no idea how I... Well that can be a topic for another time, in any case. I want to know more about this certain topic... So what's the plan chief?"

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The mage would rest the bottom spike of his poleaxe on the ground, keeping his thumb wrapped around the haft of the weapon as he came to a halt and spread out his hands in an attempt at being disarming. Of course, Arthur couldn't blame the rifle-wielding researcher for his reaction. Yh'mi was a dangerous place and the event of their rendezvous was too auspicious for anyone's taste, especially that of the mage's. The idea that they would have all arrive nearly at the same time seemed too good to be true, much too convenient, and in a land that pulled tricks on travelers? A healthy dose of suspicion went a long way; a realization that made Arthur think that perhaps he should be more like Connor. His fiery, wolf-like eyes darted from Connor to Undir, and finally to the vampiric girl who floated down to greet them. It was a curious bunch that had gathered, Arthur thought, they certainly would have raised eyebrows if they had walked through Inns'th together. So perhaps it was better that they arrived and traveled separately. That said, it didn't change the fact that they were all, individually, incredibly suspicious. 

As it was his turn to explain himself, Arthur smiled in what he hoped was a disarming manner, wrapping his wrist-laden lantern arm around the back of his head so he could rub the nape of his neck. "I'm not from the academy but I am a traveling alchemist and researcher. My field in particular often overlaps with the study of the void, so Dr. Starweight and I corresponded regularly on the topic. She knows that I'm the fighting-type, so she supposed I could lend you some aid, especially since I was already in Taen when her last letter arrived." The mage paused in his explanation, taking a breath and allowing his words to register. During the lull in the conversation, the mage slowly maneuvered his haversack in front of him, and fished inside the front compartment of his bag for a rolled-up letter. Arthur reached out, handing out the letter to Connor with a broken academy seal. "So indeed, I was expecting you and indeed came running to meet with you. This is a letter of introduction from Dr. Starweight. Hopefully, that'll suffice in settling things."

@Shamash @Gloxie @Vetanoob

 

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On 6/3/2019 at 1:11 AM, Shamash said:

“Ah, sorry, let me formally introduce myself: I’m Undir Valenson, an alumnus of and adjunct professor at the Gaian Academy, though I’ve been travelling doing more independent work as of late. I specialize in runic and ritual magics. I had become acquainted with Dr. Megan during my time at the Academy—fascinating research, I must say—and she contacted me about a unique opportunity to research void magic.  The way void magic seems to defy all the laws of magic we thought we knew fascinates me, though I know very little about it. Anyway, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more.  As for your… comment about a commanding officer, I assume you refer to this?” he said, gesturing at the pieces of leather armor he wore.

               “You have a sharp eye,” Undir continued, “It did come from the military. I worked in the P.E.T.A.L research department a few years back—ended up quitting for reasons I’d rather not share. Technically I shouldn’t be wearing it, but,” he said, shrugging as if apathetic, “I’m afraid my regular equipment isn’t really designed for a place as dangerous as Ym’hi. I assume you’re the one who organized this expedition? Pleased to meet you.”

               Undir awkwardly thrust out his arm for a handshake, hoping the gesture would offset the inventor’s distrust.

Connor listened to Undir's explanation. He seemed to have above average knowledge on the subject of the void and knew Doctor Megan, even if it was on the basis of being an acquaintance. He would have to take Undir at his word... for now at least. Noticing his still outstretched hand, Connor relaxed his features and grasped it firmly. 

"Please to meet you." The inventor quipped. "I apologise for the hostility. I've never been one to trust people easily, especially those who might seem like they're from the government. One look at my inventions and they'll be trying every trick in the book to try and pry it off my dead corpse for their own use. An army of auranite-powered soldiers could very well set off another war."

On 6/6/2019 at 3:25 AM, Gloxie said:

"I gotta say, that was a nice performance you two!"

 

On 6/6/2019 at 3:25 AM, Gloxie said:

"Oh sorry for being so rude you guys. My name is Luna, it's nice to meet you all." She looked back at the cutie Connor as she laid on her back, though still levitating. "I am interested in your guys' topic of void magic. As it happens, I have no idea how I... Well that can be a topic for another time, in any case. I want to know more about this certain topic... So what's the plan chief?"

Connor squinted his eyes at the floating girl and turned to the other two men. They definitely seemed to be able to see her. So either he was still sane, or all three of them were not batshit insane. He didn't feel like he was the latter in any way, so he surmised that what he was seeing was the real deal. 

"I don't know where you come from Luna, how you came to Yh'mi or why you can levitate in mid-air like as if it's nothing." Connor exclaimed. "I won't pry as to where you got your abilities. But if you're able to get this far without being killed by any Yh'mi's abominations then I guess you can come along with us."

On 6/10/2019 at 10:56 PM, Voldemort said:

Arthur smiled in what he hoped was a disarming manner, wrapping his wrist-laden lantern arm around the back of his head so he could rub the nape of his neck. "I'm not from the academy but I am a traveling alchemist and researcher. My field in particular often overlaps with the study of the void, so Dr. Starweight and I corresponded regularly on the topic. She knows that I'm the fighting-type, so she supposed I could lend you some aid, especially since I was already in Taen when her last letter arrived." The mage paused in his explanation, taking a breath and allowing his words to register. During the lull in the conversation, the mage slowly maneuvered his haversack in front of him, and fished inside the front compartment of his bag for a rolled-up letter. Arthur reached out, handing out the letter to Connor with a broken academy seal. "So indeed, I was expecting you and indeed came running to meet with you. This is a letter of introduction from Dr. Starweight. Hopefully, that'll suffice in settling things."

"Curious..." Connor replied, taking the parchment and reading it. The handwriting was definitely hers, as well as her trademark signature and wax seal; both of which would be very difficult to forge. Satisfied with the proof, he handed the letter back to Arthur. Taking another look at the his three newfound companions, he sighed heavily. 

Me, a mage, a floating girl and a researcher who can fight. An odd combination. Well... beggars can't be choosers. Gods help me.

Connor relaxed his stance and turned towards the direction of Lirrey, motioning for the three of them to follow him. "Come. Walk with me. I'll brief you while we head towards the inn." 

Once they were safely within sight of the village, Connor began his explanation. "I've been staying here for months now. If you think you're hearing voices in your head, ignore them. It's some enchantment this village has. It tries to pry into your mind and convince you to stay here and never go back. I can't tell if anyone used to be an adventurer and got turned, and I don't want to know. You can be rest assured they won't try to actively try to kill you."

They passed a few stone houses as dirt roads turned to cobblestone and the foot traffic became heavier. "Quite some time back there was an incident which rocked Yh'mi's foundation to its very core. Streaks of silver covered the sky and a silver portal opened up south of Netherpeaks. What used to be a volcano was replaced by a lush green mountain. Ever since I heard of the story, I made my way here and I've been surveying the area for any void energies with my measuring equipment ever since. Recently, it picked up a large spike in wavelengths only void magic could emit. Visually, nothing has changed. The portal and mountain are supposedly still there."

Finally, they reached the inn. The party entered and followed Connor straight to his room where the four crammed into it and made themselves at home while Connor continued his briefing.

"My theory is that whatever that portal is, it's being powered by void magic. I don't know how it got there or how it transformed that part of the gods-forsaken hellscape into some botanical garden. But that's what we're going to find out." Connor took a deep breath, then hardened his gaze. 

"I'm not going to lie. We'll have to go through the narrow pass and into the heart of Netherpeaks to get to the other side. Yh'mi's abominations may strike us at any time to stop us from reaching our goal. Hell, not all of us might make it back to the Terran heartlands alive to report our findings. Even if we do, I've got a feeling we'll all be scarred in more ways than one. I don't know what we'll find there, but whatever it is I'm sure it'll be worth it."

Connor gave a somewhat lopsided, but confident smile. "For science!"

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