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Sophia's Choice...


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Welp.. As many of you may know, I published 5 short books a couple of years ago right here on DarkMatters.org that wound up being incorporated in a quest added to Sacred 2 (Ancient Secrets) as a Chris

"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends."   - Emerson Lake and Palmer, 'Karn Evil 9'   Hard to believe it, but the last installment reached the 200th page milestone of this s

Today's installment brings us back to home base on Seraphim Island and a road trip for Smitty and Karem. And we find that Sophia isn't a very picky eater..   --- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----

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This made me laugh out loud:

 

“Indeed. I’ve known several tyrants who had the bad taste of executing people who gave them bad news. Have no fear, if the lord mayor decides to try anything, I’ll personally come by and avenge your death.”


“You don’t know how little that goes toward reassuring me.” Shran said.

 

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One flick of a wrist... or pull of a trigger in this case, she could change his religion. :P I can actually see Tim Curry dripping through those lines.

 

Eh... I'm thinking he's already a bit of a polytheist - especially after his last line...

 

Have you seen any of Orphan Black? If so, you'll know what I mean.

 

This made me laugh out loud:

 

“Indeed. I’ve known several tyrants who had the bad taste of executing people who gave them bad news. Have no fear, if the lord mayor decides to try anything, I’ll personally come by and avenge your death.”

 

“You don’t know how little that goes toward reassuring me.” Shran said.

 

Gee.. I would have thought the line before that would have gotten a bit more of a LOL - the one where he shrieks like a little girl..

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One flick of a wrist... or pull of a trigger in this case, she could change his religion. :P I can actually see Tim Curry dripping through those lines.

 

Eh... I'm thinking he's already a bit of a polytheist - especially after his last line...

 

Have you seen any of Orphan Black? If so, you'll know what I mean.

 

>This made me laugh out loud:

 

“Indeed. I’ve known several tyrants who had the bad taste of executing people who gave them bad news. Have no fear, if the lord mayor decides to try anything, I’ll personally come by and avenge your death.”

 

“You don’t know how little that goes toward reassuring me.” Shran said.

 

Gee.. I would have thought the line before that would have gotten a bit more of a LOL - the one where he shrieks like a little girl..

 

Well, if I could have heard him shriek like a little girl... then for sure I would be -----> :3lmao:

 

;)

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Tonight's installment shows us the origin of one of Ancaria's most ponderous mysteries. There have been rumors of hidden quests surrounding this object of curiosity which have yet to be proven true. I speak, of course, of Llama8's Infamous Electric Poop.

 

Yes, that's right... Tonight we find out how that pile of plop came to be, whodunit and why. Those of you who have been around DarkMatters and have perused the Sacred Wiki will be familiar with the Easter Egg surrounding this... Unfortunately, this page is NOT preserved on the wayback machine. :dntknw: Otherwise I would have posted a link.

 

Therefore, I dedicate this chapter to Llama8... Curries and all... :D I bring you:

 

---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Whisperwood


The wagon finished rolling through town and made a sharp left at the coast. The wagon rolled on to the westernmost pier where a rather odd looking ship was docked. Like most other ships in the harbor, it had a mostly normal looking hull, except this one was made of metal instead of wood. And instead of having a sail and mast, this one didn’t appear to have a standard means of propulsion. The driver of the wagon popped out of his compartment and motioned to Sophia to follow him.


Sophia left Loromir and Orphas behind as she jumped down from the side of the wagon and followed the driver to the pier.


“Ahoy Captain!” the driver yelled, “Permission to board your ship?”


A man came out from the small wheelhouse on the top of the deck and motioned for them to come aboard.


“Stay with Mer-Kil, Loromir. Just in case he decides to wake up again.” Sophia said as she, the guard and Orphas clambered up the ramp. Loromir went back to the wagon.


“Greetings!” Sophia said. “I am Sophia, Queen of the Seraphim.”


“Greetings!” the captain replied. “And I am Captain Fargos, master of the T-ship Daeva.”


“Daeva? That name sounds familiar for some reason.” Sophia said.


“Aye, it should” Fargos replied, “It’s the name of the Elvish scientist who created Testa and the Volunteers. Lord Testa named the ship after him. He hopes that this will be the first of many such ships – ones that will revolutionize ocean travel. There’s another one just like it being built in the port of Na’Fian.”


“I see. That sounds impressive. But we will need the use of your ship.”


“That would be rather difficult. Fargos said. “There are a few things that aren’t finished yet and we don’t have a full crew. And the crew we’ve got hasn’t got a clue as to how the ship works. As I said, this ship isn’t like those old wooden hulls docked in the other berths.”


“We have until dusk to get my cargo out of the city and out to sea.” Sophia said.


“What sort of cargo?”


“A live, but unconscious Dragon.”


“A WHA?” Fargos said.


“Come, take a look. He’s loaded on Testa’s wagon at the end of the pier.” Sophia replied.


“I’ll take your word for it. Now just for the sake of discussion, where exactly would you be wanting to take this beast?”


“One of the islands to the north of Artamark’s Splinters – the southern most will do.”


“That’d be forty miles north of the big splinter. We could make it, but there’s a storm brewing off the coast. If we managed to get the ship off the dock it’d be on us before we got halfway there – and that’s with a full crew who knew what they were doing... In addition, this ship has never been out to sea. Yes, it floats in the harbor but we’ve never tested it with that sort of load. For all I know it could capsize us before we left the dock. Third, those islands are pirate real estate. We’d have to get past them and I’m not entirely certain we could do that fully laden.”


“OK. We need Testa. Do you have any idea where he and the Volunteers went today?” Sophia asked.


“As a matter of fact, I do. They set out for the southern part of Whisperwood just to the northeast of the farms east of Skook’s Corner. Something about a problem with werewolves raiding livestock...”


“I see. Captain, do what you can to get this ship ready to go. I’m going to fetch Testa...”


“Suit yourself. I’ll do what I can, but I seriously doubt we’ll make the deadline.” Fargos said skeptically.


Sophia and Orphas left the captain and the driver behind. They stopped by the wagon where Sophia said, “Orphas and I are going to take a short trip to find Testa. We should be back shortly. Be sure to make sure Mer-kil behaves while we’re gone.”


“Right. Torik and I will wait right here,” Loromir replied. “Better make it quick, I smell a storm brewing.”


Sophia looked at the perfectly clear sky. “The sky is perfectly clear.”


“I know, but trust me, I can smell it.” Loromir replied.


“He’s right – I can smell it as well.” Orphas added.


“Then I suppose we best hurry.” Sophia said as she and Orphas took off down the road to the front gate.


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


Sophia and Orphas arrived at the farms belonging to the castle at Skook’s Corner in near record time. Sophia saw a farmer heading to a farm house and ran up to him.


“Have you seen the Volunteers?” she asked.


“Uh... Volunteers?” the farmer replied.


“Yes, you know, the big blue Elves?”


“Oh... Them. Yep. They’re up that way,” he said, pointing towards the woods, “Up near the cave.”


“Thank you!” Sophia said as she ran in the direction the farmer pointed in with Orphas in close pursuit.


“Best watch out for werewolves!” the farmer yelled after them.


Sophia wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect of having to deal with werewolves. They were a nasty lot with sharp claws and teeth. No one knows exactly how the first werewolves came to be, but there were many theories. There were two things that were known – if you managed to survive being attacked by one, odds are your fate was sealed and you would wind up becoming one yourself and that there was no cure.


One theory held the belief that the first werewolf was bitten by an otherwise normal wolf that was sick with some unknown disease. Another suggested that the wolf had somehow been contaminated by T-Energy. And another popular theory suggested dark magic was behind the transformation. Still other theories said that the condition was a combination of any of the three – disease, T-Energy and/or dark magic.


There were certainly numerous practitioners of the dark arts who did little to dissuade the rumor that they were responsible for the werewolf phenomenon. As such, normal people left them alone, fearing they might be the next to be turned into a werewolf.


“If we run into any werewolves – run away.” Sophia said to Orphas. “We know what happens when a Human or an Elf gets bitten by one of those things, but I have no idea what would happen if a Dragon got bit. And quite honestly, I’d really rather not find out!”


“What happens when a Seraphim gets bitten?” Orphas asked.


“That’s another thing I’d rather not find out about.”


“I see. By the by, exactly what is a werewolf? So I know what I’m supposed to run away from.”


“Well... They’re a cross between a wolf and a Human or Elf. They’re tall, furry and walk upright. They may be wearing remnants of clothing. They behave like rabid beasts and attack anyone who is not of their own kind viciously and without mercy. They’ve been known to rip their victims to shreds using teeth and claws. The victims who are killed are the lucky ones, those who survive become one themselves.”


“I see. Then I would assume we’re alone here in the woods.”


“Just us, the Volunteers and the werewolves.” Sophia replied.


“Then may I suggest a transformation is in order.” Orphas said as he began removing his clothing and handing it to Sophia.


Orphas manly frame expanded into his normal form.


“AH! Much better!” Orphas said.


“Are you sure about that? With all the trees and such, it might be more difficult for you to move.” Sophia asked with a note of worry in her voice.


“Of course, I am now much better armed,” he said as he flexed his claws. “I can now also breathe fire. My sense of smell is infinitely better too.”


“I see.” Sophia replied. “Just don’t bite any of them and by all means do not eat them!”


“I’ll try to remember that.” Orphas said as they moved along the path that led deeper into the forest.


Sophia stopped in her tracks. She looked around her in all directions.


“It’s quiet,” she said.


“Too quiet.” Orphas rumbled. “There are creatures of all kinds around here but they’re being very still. I can smell them out there.”


“I suppose that’s why they call this forest Whisperwood.” Sophia said quietly so her voice wouldn’t disturb the forest’s ambiance. They made their way along the path in silence. The forest became denser as the path curved back and forth.


Suddenly, a shout came from not too far ahead. Sophia motioned to Orphas to pick up the pace and started to move quicker towards the source. As they came around the bend, they saw Kuan, the Volunteer writhing on the ground, holding his belly.


“Stay back! His breath is quite toxic.” Sophia said. “It has the ability to make anyone who gets a whiff of it want to fight anyone and anything indiscriminately – allies as well as enemies.”


“I see. What is he doing?” Orphas asked.


“I’m not sure, but it doesn’t look good. I wonder where Testa and the rest of his group are. He would be most qualified to figure out what’s going on.”


“I could take to the air and take a look around.” Orphas volunteered.


“Good idea. I’ll stay here and keep an eye on him.”


Orphas spread his mighty wings and launched himself into the air. He circled once around Sophia’s position and took off toward the east. Moments later, he came back, circled once and landed neatly near Sophia.


“They’re in the next clearing near a house,” he said. “It looks like they were in a battle of some sort. I saw a large number of what looked to be corpses just beyond the house.”


“Let’s go then.” Sophia replied.


“What about Kuan?”


“I don’t think there would be anything who would be foolish enough to try taking him on and we shouldn’t be gone long.” Sophia said as she turned to find a path big enough for both of them to make it through the thick forest.


“Maybe I should stay here? Ker makes me nervous.” Orphas said.


“As well she should. From what Testa told me in Sloeford, Ker considers Dragon to be her favorite snack.” Sophia said wryly. “Very well, you wait here with Kuan; I’ll be back as fast as I can.”


Sophia saw a gap in the woods big enough for her to fit through. She emerged in the next clearing and saw a wisp of smoke rising from a fire slightly to the north. She ran in that direction.


“Testa!” She yelled, her voice carrying in a surreal way given the otherwise silent nature of the area.


Testa emerged from the small house – more of a hovel, really.


“Sophia! What brings you to Whisperwood?”


“You do, actually. But that can wait! Kuan is in the next clearing, writhing on the ground and he looks like he’s in pain.”


“That doesn’t sound good,” Testa said grimly. “Show me where. Kybele, come with us.”


Kybele emerged from the house and brought up the rear as Sophia and Testa were on their way to the gap between the clearings. They ploughed through the opening into the one and found Orphas standing a solid distance from Kuan who was still writhing on the ground.


“Steady old friend,” Testa called as Kybele raised her arms and concentrated her healing energies towards her stricken comrade.


Kuan’s writhing gently eased as Kybele’s ministrations took effect. Kuan finally was able to stand up.


“I thank you, everyone.” Kuan said. “That was quite painful!”


“What happened to you?” Testa asked.


“I don’t know – but I think it was something I ate, Excuse me...” he said as he stepped away from the group. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it very far as he squatted down and a rather unpleasant pile of scat emerged.


The scat itself was quite a sight. In addition to having what amounted to having a rather nauseating odor, the pile was actually throwing off small bolts of lightning.


“By the Creator!” Sophia exclaimed. “What in the name of everything holy is that?”


“I would guess that would have been Kuan’s dinner from last night.” Kybele said, “I sense he was somewhat constipated. I merely helped him clear the obstruction.”


“I figured it was probably something he ate, but why is it sparking like that?” Sophia asked with morbid fascination.


“Not entirely sure. Kuan ate at least a gallon of Bengareshi curry for dinner last night.” Testa said.


“Extra spicy!” Kuan said with a fond smile on his face as he recalled the meal.


“I see.” Sophia said, “Are you all right, Kuan?”


“Yeah. I’m fine now,” he replied. “Thanks for the assist.”


“Not a problem, but can we go off somewhere else that’s less offensive?” Sophia replied.


“Let’s!” Kybele replied.


“By the way, is Ker with you today?” Sophia asked.


“No, so you can feel free to bring your big friend with us.” Testa replied as he glanced in Orphas’ direction.


“I’ll meet you on the other side of the woods.” Orphas said as he once again took to the air.


Sophia and the Volunteers made their way back through the gap and emerged in the next clearing and found Orphas waiting for them.


“So, Sophia, what was it that brought you to Whisperwood?” Testa asked.


“We need to move a Dragon to an island to the north of Artamark’s Gate.” Sophia replied.


“Ah... So you’ve managed to free another one?” Testa asked.


“Not exactly. He wasn’t under the Carnach’s thrall. But he is quite insane. Loromir is standing guard over him now at the docks and is keeping him unconscious for the time being. He’s currently loaded on that self propelled wagon of yours – very clever piece of technology, by the way.”


“Thanks. I hadn’t ever thought of using it for moving Dragons, though...” Testa said. “So the problem is?”


“Well, we were hoping to move him on that self propelled boat of yours to the island. And the captain of the ship told us we can’t do it today. The mayor of the city wants us out of his city by dusk.”


“That won’t be happening. There’s a storm due later tonight and the ship won’t make it in time – if it was ready to go now – which it isn’t.”


“Right. The captain told us as much.” Orphas replied.


“What is so special about the island you want to take the Dragon to?” Testa asked.


“It’s remote and he can’t cause trouble there. There are no portals on the island and it’s far enough off the coast so he can’t simply fly back to the mainland. In short, he will be marooned there.”


“Why not simply kill the beast? Or better yet, feed him to Ker?” Kuan asked.


“It’s not our way to simply kill someone because they’re insane.” Sophia replied.


“There’s also the matter of reincarnation," Orphas said, "Once freed from his body, he would be free to be reborn into another being. My protégé, Torik, was once my now deceased master. And look at the problems he caused for Sophia.”


“Oh... I hadn’t thought of that.” Kuan said.


“Indeed, his death is one that should be avoided for as long as possible.” Orphas said.


“In that case, I suppose I’ll have to have a word or two with the mayor.” Testa replied. “We can work on the ship’s controls tonight and be out of the harbor in the morning. Perhaps if we had some Dwarven help, it might actually go faster.”


“That might be a bit of a challenge, but I think we can accommodate you on that. And on that note, we should likely get moving. It’ll be dark soon enough.” Sophia said. “Orphas, I’m thinking it might be better if you transformed again.”


“Indeed.” Orphas said as he began his transformation into his humanoid form.


Sophia dug out his clothes from her pack and he got dressed as he finished.


The group made their way out of the woods and back toward the road leading to Artamark’s Gate.

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I have learned that adding lightning to anything can make even the most mundane things epic. Kuan just proved this. Epic release, epic sight, epic smell, epic chapter.

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Kuan gives the gift of 'Lightening Scat' to his worshippers; usable 1/day. Now that would have been an interesting, yet morbid ability...

 

Too bad they can't put that crazy old dragon in some form of stasis, but I'm assuming that's not possible in Ancaria.

Edited by Omnicide
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@ Omnicide -

 

They kinda can - just give him a swift kick to the jugular and he's out for a few hours at least. And stasis would be a good thing indeed. Especially when you consider what the old fart has you doing in Sacred 2... Think about it for a moment and let the ramifications sink in.

 

Unfortunately, stasis isn't an option. So they gotta do the best they can.

 

Lightning Scat as a God power... Only available in the morning hours. Tho it would seem those toxic turds have a half-life of somewhere near infinity...That could be problematic since it's indiscriminate and would cause damage to you as well as your opponents. And you would have to stay close to it in order for it to damage the baddies.

 

@ Llama8 - :D When I rolled past that turgid pile the last time, the idea just popped into mind. I couldn't resist...

 

@ Aegis - Indeed... It's one of those things in Sacred 2 that just begged for an origin story... Might as well make it as epic as possible.

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Sorry for the delay in posting... The past week or so has been quite insane, leaving me little time to write. But I've finally managed to squeeze in a bit and get something done.

 

--- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
The Sea Trial


Dawn came soon enough. There was much in the way of banging of metal coming from the ship. On several occasions, there were bouts of cursing and on one occasion, Smitty came out of the ship and went to visit the local blacksmith’s forge only to find that exercise futile as the local smith had extinguished the fires that fueled it. This, of course, set off another tirade of cursing on Smitty’s part. It didn’t matter to Smitty that the forge itself was outdoors and exposed to the storm and keeping it lit would have been difficult at best.


By dawn the storm had mostly blown through with only a few wisps of clouds left in the aftermath.


The hatch opened up and a big blue head popped up out from down below. Testa clambered out from below decks and came down the gangplank. He walked to the covered warehouse space where Sophia, the Dragons, Kybele and the wagon waited out the storm.


“Greetings, friends.” Testa said.


“Greetings,” Kybele replied.


“The ship is finally ready.”


“Great! I’ll wake everyone then.” Kybele said.


“How is our cargo?”


“Still asleep – and I’ll make sure he stays the exception.”


“Good. The sooner we get out of here, the better Shran and DeMordrey will like it.”


Kybele went to Sophia and tapped her on the shoulder. Sophia woke with a start.


“Greetings... Are we ready to go?” Sophia asked.


“Indeed. We’ll need to wake Loromir, Orphas and the wagon driver.”


Sophia stood and stretched out the kinked muscles in her back. In all her years, she learned to make do with whatever sleeping accommodations were available, but sometimes – like this morning, she was a bit stiff. She walked over to Loromir and tapped him on the shoulder.


“Rise and shine! The ship is ready to go!”


Meanwhile Kybele was busy rousing Orphas, Torik and the driver.


“Greetings all, the ship is ready, the weather is calm enough, I think, to make a go of it.” Testa announced once everyone was awake.


“Great news!” Orphas replied.


The driver was already checking his wagon over to make sure it was ready to roll.


“How are you and Loromir doing this morning?” Sophia asked.


“Very well, actually. We went out last night and did a bit of hunting given there wasn’t much at the tavern for us to eat. We even brought back a few extra for the tavern keeper so he would have something to roast!”


“That was quite generous of you.” Sophia said.


“Somewhat, I suppose, though we do have an ulterior motive.” Loromir chimed in with a grin.


“Of course.” Sophia said, dryly.


“I hate to tell you this, but I’m quite familiar with the innkeeper in town. He’s actually a vegetarian.” Kybele interrupted.


“Um... What does that mean?” Orphas asked.


“It means that he doesn’t eat meat.” Sophia replied.


Orphas and Loromir’s jaws dropped. “Doesn’t eat meat?” they said in unison.


“No. No meat.” Kybele replied.


“Not ever?” Loromir asked plaintively.


“Not ever.” Kybele confirmed. “Though the owner has made exceptions. He has been known to make a rather interesting fish stew – but only on rare occasions.”


“Then I suspect our gift of those boars will not be welcome. Come, brother, we must retrieve them before the innkeeper has a fit.” Orphas said.


“Indeed, we may need a snack later on anyhow.” Loromir confirmed. “We’ll be right back.”


The two ran off in the direction of the inn. Fortunately, the pub was on the waterfront nearby.


Fortunately, no one had yet woken up inside the inn. Loromir and Orphas each grabbed one of the dead boars and hauled them up to their shoulders. Just as they were turning to head back to the wagon, the door popped open and the innkeeper popped out. He almost fainted at the sight of two men with wild boars slung over their shoulders.


“WHAT in the name of the Creator is the meaning of this?” he shouted.


“I’m sorry. We didn’t know you were a vege... that you didn’t eat meat.” Loromir replied. “We brought these by so you might have something to prepare for tonight’s dinner. We only just found out and we were taking them away.”


“I see. Well... Bring them in... Just because I can’t have meat, doesn’t mean my customers won’t make a meal of it.”


“You can’t?” Orphas looked at him with incredulity as he and Loromir brought the two carcasses into the inn.


“Nope. I have stomach problems. Meat doesn’t agree with me.”


“You poor man.” Loromir said with a degree of melancholy.


“Meh. I’m actually better off without it. In fact, I haven’t felt as good in years now that I’ve cut meat from my diet.”


“Yes, but the joys of a wonderfully prepared roast – with gravy!” Loromir said, wistfully.


“...Are all well enough for those who have the constitution to be eating those things but I make do with my vegetables. At any rate, I’ll have the two of them ready to go by dinner time. I expect you two will be back by then.”


We’ll do our best to make it back in time for dinner.” Orphas said. “But only if we get moving, brother, we’ll never get back if we don’t get moving now.”


“Right brother, we must get going.” Loromir replied.


Orphas and Loromir bid the innkeeper farewell and ran back to where the wagon was waiting.


“We’re back...” Loromir announced just as the wagon started rolling forward.


“Ah... Good. Where are the boars?” Sophia said.


“The innkeeper has them. It seems he caught us as we were about to leave with them.” Loromir said. “He’s agreed to roast them for us and serve them for dinner tonight.”


“That is very kind of him to do that for you.” Sophia said.


“Indeed it is,” Kybele said, “considering his condition.”


“His condition?” Sophia asked.


“Yes, his condition. Eating meat doesn’t agree with him. Remind me to come with you when we get back. I will need to check in on my patient.” Kybele said.


In the mean time, the wagon reached the end of the pier.


“So how are we going to get him on the boat?” Testa asked, “The crane on the pier doesn’t look like it would be big enough to lift him.”


“Leave that to me,” Orphas said. “But before I move him, do we have anything to lash him down to the deck?”


“Aye. We should have enough,” Captain Fargos answered.


“All right then, let’s get this done?” Orphas said as he steeled himself for the task of moving Mer-Kil from the wagon to the ship. Loromir likewise prepared himself in case his help was needed.


The driver meanwhile loosened the bindings on the wagon and tossed the restraints over the top of Mer-Kil’s frame. When the last of the restraints were loosened, Mer-Kil’s body began to rise much as it had when Orphas put him on the wagon. The driver got into the wagon’s driving compartment and backed it out from under the unconscious Dragon.


Mer-Kil began to move forward toward the ship as Orphas used his mind to move the big beast. The Dragon moved over the edge of the water and the tail end of the ship. Moments later, Mer-Kil began sinking slowly onto the deck. As he settled on the deck, the ship itself sank slightly into the water. The ship’s crew began tossing rope over the big Dragon’s backside to lash him to the deck.


The wagon driver approached Testa. “My lord, what should I do? Shall I wait here for your return? Or will you simply portal back to the castle?”


“Go ahead and head back, Sophia has a little project for me and that will likely take some time. When you return, be sure to write up a report on how the wagon performed. I never quite intended for it to be hauling Dragons so I’d like to know how well it performed under such a load.”


“Yes sir!” the driver replied and turned to mount his vehicle. He backed the wagon up slightly and turned it facing the road heading toward the main gate.


Testa clambered up the ramp leading to his T-ship. Captain Fargos came out from the wheelhouse and said, “All stations are reporting ready.”


“Very good, Captain, make ready to cast off.” Testa replied.


“Aye, sir!” Fargos replied. “Prepare to cast off!”


A pair of dockhands untied the bow and stern mooring lines from the dock.


“One eighth power Mr. Fargos!” Testa ordered.


“Aye Aye!” Fargos replied, “One-eighth power!” as he went into the wheel house and worked the controls. The ship began moving forward slowly, yet smoothly.


“Rudder to port!” Testa ordered.


“Rudder to port!” Fargos repeated as he turned the wheel to the left and the ship veered away from the pier.


“Power to one quarter!” Testa ordered once the ship was away from the dock.


“Aye Aye, Power to one quarter!” Fargos replied and the ship began picking up speed.


“Make your way around Lighthouse Splinter!” Testa said, “Then set course Thirty-two degrees off the north star and set power to one half!”


“Aye!” Fargos replied and steered the ship around the small island known as Lighthouse Splinter – all the while making sure he kept the ship at a safe distance.


It was so named for the obvious reason; there was a lighthouse on the island. The islands were called “Splinters” mainly due to the fact the main island – a volcano – and the multitude of smaller, jagged islands appeared to have been smashed – or splintered from the main island. How this came to be wasn’t immediately evident.


Regardless of their origins, Artamark’s Splinters were at once an impressive and dangerous place. Some of the splinters were submerged, barely below the water; ready to rip a jagged hole in the bottom of a passing ship should the unwary captain steer the ship too close to them.


The ship passed the last of the Splinters and Fargos set the course to thirty two degrees north by northeast and set the throttle to half power. The ship picked up speed.


Testa stepped out of the wheelhouse and almost bumped into Sophia.


“So what do you think of the T-Ship Daeva?” Testa grinned.


“I like it just fine. Seems a bit of an antique, however, in this age where we have portals nearly everywhere.”


“Ah, but that’s just it – portals are only nearly everywhere. There are still some places where portals don’t exist yet. And there are places where they likely never will. There’s just not enough need for portals in some places. And there may come a time when we really need to get somewhere quickly by sea.”


“True enough, I suppose.” Sophia replied, “How soon before we reach our destination?”


“I’m not entirely sure, but I would have to say some time around midday.”


“By the way don’t count on our secret weapon being a regular member of your crew.”


“Oh? Why is that?” Testa asked.


“He’s um... been ill. Ocean travel doesn’t seem to agree with his kind.”


“Pity, he’s quite the engineer. I would most certainly love to have him working for me.”


Sophia smiled, “I’m sure you would However, I don’t think it would work out too well.”


“Why would that be? I could furnish anything and everything he could possibly need.”


“True enough, however he’s been ‘cursed’ by his father.”


“Er... What sort of curse?” Testa asked.


“His father cursed him to be an outsider to his people and his craft. Should you be caught doing business with him, you would wind up being blacklisted by every other blacksmith on Ancaria. You’d never get anything built, nor would you be able to get anything done.”


“How exactly is that a curse?”


“It’s a Dwarven thing. The ability to earn a profit is all important to them. Given his father is the Master Blacksmith of all of Ancaria, the curse carries quite a bit of weight in the Dwarven and Blacksmith communities.”


“I see. So how is it he’s working with you?” Testa asked.


“Loromir found him in the markets of Ciria Delith. We managed to extract him from the big city and brought him to the Island. I only found out about this curse after the fact. On the other hand, I would likely be dead right now if we hadn’t taken him from the city. The armor that the Archmage and Master Blacksmith brought as a gift for me... Let’s just say there’s something evil about that armor. Given the events that happened at the funeral, I have a really bad feeling about it.”


“Yes, well, that’s probably for the best that you not try it on.”


“I have no intention of doing so. Have no fear. At any rate, he’s been quite an asset to Karem and the Seraphim in general and he gets to do what makes him happy and everyone wins.”


“Seems like a reasonable arrangement.”


“Very much so. At any rate, I doubt you could provide the necessary discretion to keep him safe.” Sophia said.


“True enough. While I trust the men in the Castle proper with my life, all it would take is one comment while sitting in a tavern somewhere and his cover could be blown.”


“Exactly. But where he’s located on Seraphim Island, it’s highly unlikely he would be discovered. So... What did you think of his device?”


“I had a look at his plans – but I’m not entirely sure they would work properly. The way he has it, if you were too close, the projectile would wind up going into the mouth of the Dragon, then through the roof of its mouth and potentially winding up in the brain of the beast and out the back of its head. And I believe that’s contrary to what you had in mind.”


“Yes, that would be troubling. Is there no way to control that?” Sophia asked.


“I’ll have to do a few calculations and get back to you on that.” Testa replied.


“Very well...” How soon do you figure you would have an answer?”


“Would the time we arrive at our destination be acceptable?”


“Of course.” Sophia replied, with a smile.

 

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


The ship sailed on through the morning and as promised, land was spotted just before midday.


“When we get close, slow the ship to full stop when we’re close.” Testa said to Fargos.


“Aye aye. Full stop when we get close. How close do you want her, sir?”


“As close as you dare without running her aground, Mr. Fargos.” Testa replied.


“Aye, aye!”


Fargos worked the controls cautiously. The ship got closer to land.


“Make with the depth finders, Mr. Flynt,” Fargos said to one of the crew.


Flynt and a pair of crew ran out on the port side of the deck and grabbed three long poles. Each took up a spot – one at the bow, one at the stern and one about amidships. They lowered the poles into the water as a sort of mechanical feeler to see how deep the water actually was. As long as the poles were dangling in the water and didn’t hit anything, everything was just fine. The moment one touched, that was the point where things would become interesting – but not in a good way.


Fargos, meanwhile, had slowed his ship down to a crawl. The three depth checkers poked at the water vigorously until the one at the bow suddenly hit something and yelled out “Contact at the bow!” Fargos immediately put the engines into reverse to stop the ship.


“Drop anchor!” Fargos yelled across the deck and the bow pole wielder and another started cranking on the mechanism that held the anchor on its chain. The anchor sank into the depths.


“We’ve arrived, Lord Testa!” Fargos announced.


“Thank you, Mr. Fargos.” Testa replied. “Sophia, Orphas. We’re here. Can you get him to the beach from here?”


Orphas looked at the beach, a good twenty yards or so from the ship. “I think I can do it, if Loromir helps. Loromir, come give me a hand, brother.”


“What can I do to help, brother?” Loromir replied as he walked up to the group.


“We need to lift Mer-Kil to the island but this is as close as we can get.”


“I think we can do it. Though, perhaps we may need a bit more help...”


“Sadly, that’s something we don’t have at the moment.” Orphas replied.


“What about young master Torik? Does he not know the spell?” Loromir asked.


“Torik! Come here!” Orphas called.


“Coming master!” Torik replied as he climbed out from below decks, looking slightly greenish.


“Are you all right?” Kybele asked.


“I am feeling a bit ill, actually. Sea travel is not something I’m used to.” Torik replied.


“Understandable. Here, take one sip of this.” Kybele replied, handing Torik a vial with a whitish looking potion inside. “This will calm your seasickness somewhat.”


“Thank you, Kybele!” Torik said as he took a sip from the vial.


“We’re going to need some help moving Mer-Kil to the shore.” Orphas said. “This will take all three of us to do.”


“We need to move him all the way to the beach?” Torik replied skeptically.


“Indeed. It may be difficult, but we can do it.” Loromir said.


Orphas pulled Torik aside and talked him through what he needed to do. All three began preparing their minds for the upcoming task. Lifting Mer-Kil onto the wagon and moving him from the wagon to the ship was nothing compared to moving his bulk the remaining distance to the shore.


“We’re ready.” Orphas said to Testa.


“Very well, in that case, cut the cargo loose!” Testa said to his deckhands. Two of them jumped to the task and untied the big brute from the deck fasteners.


Kybele gave the big beast one more check to make sure he was still asleep.


Orphas, Loromir and Torik all braced themselves mentally and focused their mental abilities and began to lift their unconscious burden away from the deck. Mer-Kil began to hover unnaturally above the deck and slowly, but certainly moved over the railing and toward the beach.


Mer-Kil floated onwards until the big body was well over the beach, at which point he started slowly descending. The look on Orphas, Loromir and Torik’s faces was one of stress. Sweat was dripping from their brows.


When Mer-Kil landed on the ground and was comfortably on the ground, the trio released their mental grip on him and relaxed.


Torik collapsed in exhaustion on the deck. Kybele calmly walked up to him and put her hand on his forehead.


“He needs some food and rest. But he will be fine.” Kybele said.


“We did it!” Orphas said as he went over to a bag he had brought with him that was lying on the deck. He reached inside and pulled out a clay jar and handed it to Loromir. He pulled out a second jar and handed it to Torik and pulled out a third for himself. The trio opened the jars and began to drink the contents.


“What’s in those jars?” Sophia asked.


“What else? Gravy!” Orphas replied. “The good stuff from the Seraphim Island kitchens no less!”


Sophia fought unsuccessfully to stifle a laugh, but it managed to escape anyhow. “What else, indeed! Drink up! You three have earned it.”


“In the meantime, I suggest we make haste and get as far away from the island as possible. I’m not sure how much longer it will be before Mer-Kil wakes up.”


“Yes, good idea,” Testa said, “Mr. Fargos, weigh anchor and plot a course back to Artamark’s Gate. Best speed!”


“Aye aye,” Fargos replied and set about dispatching deck hands to retrieve the anchor and went back inside to sort out the course for home.


“So what’s the verdict on your ship?” Sophia asked.


“So far, so good. I’m not entirely satisfied with the speed, but it’s still faster than the old wooden sailing ships.”


“Then it sounds like a success.” Sophia said.


“True enough, it’s at least a start.”


“So what about Smitty’s device?”


“I’ve been thinking about that. I think there may be a way to make it work at any range.”


“This is a good thing. How soon can we get a working prototype?”


“I would imagine with the way Smitty works,, you can have one tomorrow. But I’d really not push him into doing it. He worked very hard to get the ship ready to sail this morning and he needs rest. And before you ask – Yes, I could make one, but I’d rather have him do it for you. I’m not sure how well he would take it if I ‘borrowed’ his idea and made it work.”

 

“True enough, I doubt he would take it well. He needs his confidence boosted as much as possible.”


“Exactly.”

Edited by wolfie2kX
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Feh.. I don't bother. I figger - if they don't wanna eat meat - there's more beef, pork, chicken, and lamb for ME..! :tongue2:

 

In the mean time... Sometimes I even amaze myself..

 

I started writing this book waaay back in December - when I had a bit of free time. This is, of course, about the time the wiki and DarkMatters got taken down. I didn't have any resource other than my own memory - and of course, the time spent playing the game. Mind you, I probably started at least 4 Shadow Warriors but rarely got past say, the Orc territory for one reason or another... Mostly due to being distracted by a build I saw for another character class or the game file got hosed by some glitch that's killed off more than 50% of my characters thus far. I had never completed the game with a Shadow Warrior.

 

So... Today, I'm plowing through the underground tunnels linking the Dragonsea Islands - with my latest SW. I find a James Orkus - an Orc who's hanging out down below looking to catch up with me.

 

He wants to go talk to a dragon - and of course, it's our old friend Loromir the Wise. So I click on Loromir and lo and behold what does he have to say to our zombie hero...?

 

"Let me have a look at you. You exude an aura that I haven't felt in a long time. Ahh. I remember, back in the days when the Seraphim were on the brink of failure! The object you now carry with you brought about the turn of events. Get away from me! That aura is corrupt! It has lost its purity. You must exorcise the demons from this blade, before the wall to the realm of the dead is destroyed forever!"

 

If you recall, earlier on, Loromir's primary talent in helping Sophia was detecting auras of the various people around them.

 

Sometimes it's kind of scary how well I know this game - even the parts I haven't played as yet. DOH!

 

What's even scarier - all this fits into what I had in mind for another chapter that I had planned...

Edited by wolfie2kX
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I'm running with a Seraph for light and an SW for shadow right now. I have a strategy that I hope will eventually get me to niobium level. Your fan fiction does help me keep motivated to work toward this goal.

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Interesting. While I've managed to get all but the TG and Inquisitor to completion, the SW is the only one I managed to complete niobium level. Needless to say, I've become all too familiar with the SW's story in comparison. :P I wonder if you'll also include Sophia's obsession with collecting *ahem* pets. :P

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Feh.. Niobium.. I've only gotten one TG up as far as completing Gold. Somehow - starting over - even if it was another level of difficulty after whacking the guardians - just didn't quite appeal to me. I figure that if I gotta start at the beginning, I might as well start everything over. The only characters I have in the Niobium level are ones I downloaded and played around with as an experiment (the blank level 200 characters) to push bargaining to insanely high levels. I got another thread on that somewhere called Goddess of Shopping.

 

Never the less - I am kinda confused about the SW's personal storyline. In it, you gotta retrieve 3 objects from the necromancers and later the Orcs - The Book of the Dead, the Pyramid of Control and...? The log entries mention a vial of demonic essence on the one hand, but along comes Loromir - and he's going on about a blade. One I haven't found any mention of in the story line thus far. Did I miss something?

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Too bad my latest shadow warrior is in the swamps, otherwise I could check it out to be certain. The only logical place to which he would have gotten the blade would have to be speaking with that seraphim, Hudella. I would think that after you agreed to help clean up Sohpia's personal zoo that she would give the sword to you and send you on your way. For some reason, I also though the items you retrieved together became the sword.

Edited by Aegis
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Yeah... Good thing we got the wayback machine.. sort of, anyhow.. Got some of the explanations but no pics.. :(

 

It does appear that the three items become the sword - how exactly does a pile of paper, a bottle of demonic essence and a pyramid become a sword... I have NFI...

 

Though... Hmmm... Pyramid of Control.. This smacks of Testa's hand... Left hand IIRC... What's he got in his left hand everywhere he's depicted? Yup. A pyramid.

 

post-14586-0-16142200-1371601661_thumb.jpg

Edited by wolfie2kX
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OK... This chapter is ridiculously short. Less than a full page, but it has merit. I'm posting this by itself because the next chapter will be a bit on the long side and will be coming later today or tomorrow.

 

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

The Beached Dragon


As the sun started fading in the sky, Mer-Kil suddenly woke from his slumber. He looked about and saw that he was on what appeared to be a beach. Curse the lot of them. They managed to maroon him as they had planned.


No matter! Mer-Kil was nobody’s fool. He would manage to survive in spite of it all.


Mer-Kil would have his revenge – even if it was the last thing he would do – even if it took ten thousand years. Somewhere along the line he would get even for this outrage.


First thing to do – find food and water. Even though Dragons could go a long time without eating or drinking, it would become an issue at some point and the sooner he got around to doing inventory, the better things would be.


He unfurled his wings which had been bound for the past couple of days and tried them. They were a bit stiff and sore, but nothing that would prevent him from doing some aerial reconnaissance to see what his island prison held in store for him.


Mer-Kil crouched low and threw himself up into the sky as his powerful wings flapped downward and he was aloft. He flapped a few more times in order to gain more altitude. Soon, he was up as high as the top of the volcano.


Fortunately, Dragonkind was blessed with sharp night vision. He couldn’t exactly see things just as he would during the day, but he could see warmth given off by things. He looked below him and saw the sand where he woke up glowing faintly. He saw the top of the volcano – and the glow of the lava in the pool at the top.


He flew further west and saw hot spots – there was likely a village down there. And where there was a village, there were likely villagers. Food would not be a problem just yet. Nor should water be an issue. The vermin on this besotted world needed copious amounts of it.


Mer-Kil glided down to his beach and landed. Tonight’s mission was accomplished. He spent the night plotting his revenge.

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I've figured out that you don't need to complete a game to get to the next level. Once you reach a high enough level to access it from multiplayer, just set up co-op, go in and voila, you can start up the next level without having to finish the previous one.

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Hmm.. OK...

 

I've got problems with that. Every time I try taking a single player game into any sort of multiplayer - it winds up getting hosed. In other words - when it try to load the game again, it crashes to the desktop with a resounding thud.

 

Also, since I'm playing with the CM Patch - Co-Op is missing. :( I can only do full multiplayer games with it enabled and we all know loading a game you've played with the patch after disabling it - it causes problems with missing items and such. And of course, most of my current armor is part of a set from the CM Patch. DOH!

 

The only way to recover it, I've found is to restore a shadow copy from Windows System Restores. Just go into Windows Explorer - find the file in question and right click on it. Select Properties and go to the tab with Previous Versions on it. You can look to see if there are older versions of the file. Of course, this usually means you usually wind up losing sometimes several days worth of XP, goodies and such. :(

 

Still better, I suppose than starting entirely from scratch.

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So... As promised, yet another chapter in our tale of life on Ancaria...

 

Tonight, our intrepid heroes are back in Artamark's Gate and are contemplating a new weapon as they're waiting for the town to go to bed. Kybele teaches a man a lesson and of course, there will be much in the way of roast boar and GRAVY!

 

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

A History Lesson

 

Meanwhile, the T-Ship Daeva arrived at the docks of Artamark’s Gate. Fargos and the crew maneuvered the ship into its berth and secured the ship.

 

When the gangplank was lowered to the dock, Kybele beat a hasty retreat without saying anything to anyone.

 

Moments later, Orphas, Loromir and Torik also left the ship and made their way to the tavern where their roast boars were waiting. Most of the crew also followed them off of the ship.

 

Sophia, Karem, Testa and Smitty were the only ones left on board. Smitty would have to wait until the docks were deserted before he could leave so no one would notice.

 

Karem decided to take a nap while Testa and Smitty discussed the blood gun.

 

“So what sort of power regulator did ye have in mind?” Smitty asked.

 

“We need two actually. Since you’re using an everfrost crystal, we’ll need something that will limit how cold the blood becomes. Too cold and too hard out of the muzzle and it will put a hole in your target’s head instead of dropping the blood in the target’s mouth.

 

“Aye, that is something I thought about. I figured friction with the air would do some of the melting for me.”

 

“Yes, friction would be a factor if you were further away, but not so much if you were up close and personal with the target. Therefore we need to figure out how to throttle down muzzle velocity and temperature.” Testa concluded.

 

“Aye... I see what yer getting at.”

 

“So, if you put a power regulator like the throttle mechanism I used for this ship here, the distance issue is solved. But we still need to control the temperature.”

 

“What if we controlled the distance between the crystal and the blood?” Smitty asked.

 

“That could work.” Testa replied. “A simple knob with a screw mechanism to dial in the hardness of the projectile... One direction to make them colder and harder, the other to make them not so cold and softer.”

 

Smitty was like a madman – he grabbed a writing pen and began sketching furiously.

 

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

 

Meanwhile... Kybele arrived at the tavern and went inside. The establishment was packed with hungry people of all sorts. She went directly to the kitchen area.

 

Orphas, Loromir and Torik arrived moments later and sat down.

 

Kybele looked around for the tavern keeper. But he was no where to be found. She stepped out into the main dining area.

 

“Where’s Mort?” Kybele asked one of the serving wenches.

 

“He’s upstairs,” she replied.

 

“Thank you,” Kybele replied and made for the stairs.

 

She found him in his room. “Greetings,” she said softly.

 

Mort, the tavern keeper, was lying on his bed with a bit of rag stuffed in each nostril.

 

“Greetings,” Mort replied as he took note of Kybele’s entrance.

 

“How are you feeling?” Kybele asked.

 

“Quite depressed actually – I had forgotten how good the smell of wild boar could be when it’s roasting in the oven. I had to stuff something in my nose to block that wonderful smell.”

 

Did the rags help?” Kybele noted with a hint of amusement.

 

“Not until I broke a couple of leaves of mint in each one. Now it’s a bit more tolerable. I smell mint...”

 

“So why are you up here? You’re tavern is packed to the rafters with people wanting to be fed.”

 

“Because... Because I thought I was over eating meat. But the smell... That lovely odor of wild boar mixed with garlic and herbs.”

 

“Did you?” Kybele asked.

 

“By the Creator! NO! The only thing that stopped me was the memory of the excruciating pain from the last time I ate some.” Mort replied.

 

“Then you’re all right?”

 

“Physically, I suppose.”

 

“Then my worries were for naught.”

 

“But I still want to have some of that roast.”

 

“Even if it means going through that pain again?”

 

“No... I’d rather not go through that, ever. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone – not even my worst enemy. But not being able to eat any makes me so very sad.”

 

“That’s understandable. Tell you what. Why don’t I go down to the kitchen and whip up a pot of my famous vegetable soup?” Kybele asked.

 

“You won’t get far. I don’t have the ingredients in the kitchen.”

 

“That would be a problem.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

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

 

Smitty finally stopped sketching, took a deep breath and turned the drawing around so Testa could see. Testa took a moment to scan over the sketch...

 

“This is to scale?” Testa asked.

 

“Aye.” Smitty replied.

 

“This will never do. It’s way too big and bulky. This weapon is longer than Sophia is tall, and is far too wide to be wielded quickly and effectively.”

 

“Aye... I suppose it is a bit large – but it’s a prototype for a brand new class of weapon.”

 

“Indeed it is. But what are you planning on doing with this? Something like this might serve as a deck gun for this ship!”

 

“Yes, well, I was planning on making it so you could shoot Dragons from a good distance.”

 

“What sort of range did you have in mind?”

 

“Och, at least half a mile.” Smitty replied.

 

“Smitty, would you listen to yourself for a moment. Half a mile? Do you know how difficult it is to hit a target that far away? Especially since you only have normal sights on this drawing. Mind you, a moving target would be even more of a challenge at that distance.”

 

“Um... Well, I suppose I hadn’t thought things through entirely.”

 

“Sophia, what would you say is the maximum distance you might consider using this sort of weapon?”

 

“Hmmm. I hadn’t actually thought of that. But I would imagine I wouldn’t want to be too far away. But I’d like to be able to use it just outside of the range of their fiery breath. I’d really rather not wind up roasted.”

 

“Indeed, that would not be a good thing.” Testa replied. “Pity they’ve gone to dinner.”

 

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

 

“Are you familiar with where I grew up?” Kybele asked.

 

“Can’t say I am.” Mort replied, still dejected.

 

“There are a few rather interesting plant species on Dryad Island. Fortunately for everyone, they do not grow anywhere else on our world.” Kybele explained.

 

“You see, they do not behave like any other plant species on Ancaria. They are quite the loveliest flowers anywhere on Ancaria. They are also among the deadliest. As sprouts, they look like pretty much any other plant – hiding in plain sight. But when they mature, they uproot themselves. First their blossoms flower. Then they begin to move about on their own. They’re primary purpose at this point is to find a mate, exchange pollen and spread their seeds. But the jungle they live in is not without its dangers. There are other plants and animals that would seek to eat them so these plants are not without their defenses. Some spit acid that can blind and burn you horrifically. Some spit a substance that bursts into flames when it comes into contact with the air – and will cause nasty burns.”

 

“Um... Is there a point to this botany lesson?” Mort asked.

 

“Indeed there is. Just because something is pretty or even beautiful – it can still hurt and even kill you. In the same light, just because it smells good and is tasty doesn’t mean it won’t hurt or even possibly kill you. When the first colonists arrived on Dryad Island, they found these plants to be fascinating and beautiful – until, of course, the first one walked up to one of these plants and got a face full of acid. Legend has it he died on the spot and dissolved into a puddle of goop in half a day.”

 

“How horrible!” Mort said.

 

“Yes, it was. But it was one of those harsh life lessons we had to learn. My people learned to avoid these walking plants by building homes in the tree tops. We avoid much of the other deadly fauna on our islands this way as well.”

 

“Why do your people stay there if it’s so dangerous?” Mort asked.

 

“Well... Because we accept the challenges of living in such a place and mostly because the colonists wanted to abandon technology. You see, several generations ago, my ancestors left Ciria Delith and the other Elven territories of Tyr Lysia and Bengaresh because they disagreed with the way things were being done there. The people were abandoning the old ways and adopting technology in its place. Mind you, technology isn’t always a bad thing. It’s the way it’s used that can be good or evil.”

 

“And the Elves of that era were using technology for evil?”

 

“Exactly right. They wanted to rule the world and all of the races.”

 

“What about the Seraphim? Where were they during all of this?”

 

“The relationship between the Seraphim and the Elves has always been a complex one. Some say Maria, at the time, was ‘otherwise occupied’ with concerns of her own to be bothered to intervene. Some say, she gave the Elves of the era the knowledge they needed to build the weaponry they made to wage war on everyone else. No one really knows for sure.”

 

“So what happened?” Mort asked, now absorbed by the impromptu history lesson.

 

“Well, there was a major war. Even the Seraphim got caught up in it. Its one thing to build weapons to defend yourself and your people, but it’s quite another to aggressively go to war against all of your neighbors. Once Maria found out what the Elves true intentions were she realized that she had been used and manipulated and she unleashed her fury on the Elves. The colonists rode out the storm in relative peace and isolation but the same could not be said of the rest of Ancaria.”

 

“Why?” Mort asked.

 

“Why what?” Kybele replied.

 

“Why did the Elves of the era do what they did?”

 

“Oh... Simply put, they felt they were best suited to and bring peace to the world and bring back the Creator.”

 

“You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m not really the religious sort. What does bringing peace to Ancaria have to do with bringing the Creator back?”

 

“There was a prophesy made back at dawn of Ancarian memory that the Creator left us – all of the races on Ancaria – to sort out our differences and learn to get along with one another. And once we did that, he would return to us and lead all of Ancaria into a new golden age. The Elves were quite devout in this belief and felt that they would force the Creator’s hand by taking over and ruling the world. Their logic – flawed as it was – wouldn’t have worked. The more they oppressed the other races, the more the other races would have resented the Elves and eventually, they would have been overthrown. The prophecy was clear – the Creator expected all of us to get along in a peaceful, balanced world where no one had an advantage.”

 

“Surely, they realized this...” Mort asked.

 

“Indeed. That is why they were actually planning genocide of all of the other races.”

 

“Er... Genocide? What’s that mean?”

 

“It means the extermination of an entire species or race.” Kybele said and let that sink in.

 

“You mean...?”

 

“Exactly right. All Humans, Dwarves, Lizardmen, Orcs, even the Seraphim and not to mention all of the other minor races – Goblins, Ogres, Kobolds and such – would have to be wiped from the face of Ancaria.”

 

Mort sat up, speechless.

 

“Everyone?”

 

“Well... I’m certain they might have kept some Humans around as slaves, but yes; I believe they were planning on wiping out all of the other intelligent life forms on this world.”

 

“Even the Seraphim?”

 

“Of course, the Seraphim had to go. The Seraphim were and still are the primary keepers of law, order and this world’s fragile peace. The Elves knew that the Seraphim would not approve and would step in to stop them, which is why they built weapons that would kill them as well.”

 

“Its mind boggling that they would try something like that. I don’t recall ever hearing this before. Why is that?” Mort asked.

 

“If I had to guess, I’d have to say it had to do with the fact that Maria didn’t want to advertise her... shortsightedness. Since then, it seems there has been much better control over the amount and the kinds of information that the Seraphim are willing to share – even with the Elves.”

 

“How bad was it?” Mort asked.

 

“If I recall the history book correctly, it was very bad. The Humans and the Seraphim suffered the brunt of the Elves fiendish plot. The Humans – mainly because they are the closest territory to the Elves’ lands. The Seraphim – because they had to come to the rescue and defend them. The Dwarves and the Orcs also sent in a few armies that were decimated. The Lizardmen were also attacked through a tunnel that leads from Bengaresh to their lands. But they were able to hold their position – mainly by blocking the tunnel. All in all, about One hundred fifty thousand beings lost their lives in that war. That’s not counting the Elven casualties. Another twenty-five thousand of them were killed, including the conspirators behind this atrocity. Thus ended the Thirtieth Glorious and Faithful Elven Empire.”

 

“So what happened to the technology?” Mort asked.

 

“It was confiscated and destroyed. Though on occasion, a few of the weapons have popped up here and there. Fortunately, due to the passage of time, most of them have wound up far less effective as they once were.” Kybele replied. “I would venture a guess that most of them will be quite useless relics of a long forgotten time eventually.”

 

“That’s a good thing.” Mort said.

 

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

 

Smitty spent quite some time thinking about what they had discussed and sketching while they were waiting for the Dragons to return from their feast.

 

“Och... How’s this?” Smitty finally said as he handed his sketch to Testa.

 

‘Hmm... Very well done. What do you think, Sophia?” Testa said as he passed the sketch to her.

 

Sophia looked over the sketch. The picture depicted a weapon about two feet in length, with a handle and a butt stock at one end, a box like portion in the middle and round barrel at the other end.

 

“Nice, but will it work?” Sophia replied with a question.

 

“It should. We will have to dial it in a bit once we’ve got it built.” Smitty said.

 

“What are these controls up on the forestock?” Sophia asked.

 

“Och... Those control the power and the freezing. The first button and the second turn the muzzle velocity up and down, the third and fourth turn the freezing factor up and down.”

 

“Sounds complicated.”

 

“Well, yes, in a matter of speaking, it is. But it has to be.” Testa replied.

 

“Um... Why?” Sophia asked.

 

“Well, if you have the muzzle velocity too high and you’re too close to the Dragon, you could wind up putting the blood projectile through the skull instead of just into their mouth. The same goes for how cold you freeze the blood. If you make it too cold, it might do too much damage and kill the Dragon instead of saving it. Conversely, if the muzzle velocity is too low and if the projectile isn’t frozen enough, the blood would never get to where it’s supposed to be.” Testa lectured.

 

“Oh... So what would it take to make figuring that out a bit more automatic?” Sophia asked.

 

“I’ll have to get back to you on that.” Testa replied. “It’ll take some serious thought to figure out how to get that working properly. Give me at least a day to sort through the variables.”

 

“Very well,” Sophia said sounding disappointed in the extra delay. “I suppose I have some business to tend to in Hagelstein anyhow.”

 

A knock came from the hatch above. It was one of the deck hands who had returned from his supper. “It’s all clear topside, Lord Testa!”

 

“I suppose that’s our cue to get Smitty and Karem home.” Sophia said. “Pack everything up!”

 

Smitty and Karem got all of his drawings, tools and such gathered and put them in their bags. The party emerged on the deck. Testa and Sophia emerged first to make sure there weren’t any people lurking about. The coast was clear. Smitty and Karem made their way outside and everyone made their way down the gangplank. They walked to the end of the pier and made a break for the city’s border with the sea.

 

They made their way around the city’s border along the path they arrived the night before. They arrived at the main path and made a break for the portal after waiting for a patrol to pass by.

 

Sophia set the portal for Seraphim Island and she and everyone except for Testa went through.

Edited by wolfie2kX
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