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Divided By Zaros


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#41 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 06 September 2007 - 10:36 PM

Chapter VIII - Slave Life

"This new slave doesn't look like much. He's too old. His arms are too skinny. He's not even worth two clumps of tin."

"Aye. But he's going to work for us one way or another."

My temples were pulsating with pain. I could barely move my arms or turn my head without an onslaught of stinging pain ripping my skull apart. Very carefully, I struggled to open my eyes. I saw light and that was enough to make my eyelids shut immediately and for me to begin uttering a pathetic moan. Slowly, I moved my fingers and eventually my arms. I ignored the pain as best as possible and struggled to move myself into a sitting position. I had pain shooting through my hip as I moved about. The sound of the chains around my wrists and ankles did not do much to help my headache either. Finally I sat against what I believed to be a wall and forced myself to open my eyes.

I was in a tiny (by human standards) holding pen with bars separating myself from the outside. I was in a very large sized mine as hundreds of dwarves armed with whips and mallets patrolled about as thousands of tan-robed workers were dismally smashing stones and rocks with iron pickaxes. Every so often, a dwarf would stop and crack their whip against the back of a slave who they thought were not working to the best of their ability. The majority of the workers who were not facing in my direction had bloody welts all over their backs as their robes were frayed and worn from the strikes. I felt impossibly weak for some odd reason. It was then that I noticed that all of my possessions were gone. My amulet, my sword, my robes, my prayer book and all of the items in my harness was missing. I was dressed in the standard tan robes of a dwarven slave. It had been a very long time since I had removed my amulet of glory. I was not used to the feeling of not feeling power flowing throughout my body. Just to the left of me was a small leather pouch. With a great amount of effort, I stretched out to grab the pouch and pulled it to me. My fingers were still numb and it took much longer than normal to untie the leather straps. Finally I was able to get it open.

All that was inside the pouch was perhaps ten redberries and a small amount of flour. All that remained of my waybread was just a few crumbles. 'They ate my food' I thought with disgust as I strapped the pouch around my waist.

An hour after regaining consciousness, two dwarves came before the cage and unlocked the gate. With an ear-piercing squeal, the gate creaked open and the dwarves walked inside. They grabbed my arms and my shoulders and hauled me to my feet as easily as a child would lift up a rag doll. I staggered from pain and nearly fell over again due to the chains around my ankles. But I was just barely able to keep my balance. After unlocking my chackles, I was rudely shoved out of the cage and pushed into the center of the cavern. The height of the caves stretched upwards many hundreds of feet. Nearly every inch of the walls were occupied by a slave chipping away at the rock. There were many scaffolds and catwalks erected throughout the cavern along with a minecart system which operated through the center of the cave. There was a large pile of iron ore situated near the cart tracks and there was at least twenty slaves constantly shoveling iron ore in the carts at all times. I felt dizzy looking at the constant pattern of movement throughout the entire cavern. The dwarves had a system for mining. Those who disrupted productivity were the ones who felt the dwarves' wrath.

"Turn. Face us." I turned as best as I could and looked down into the eyes of the dwarves that released me from my cell. "This is Iron IV. This is one of the largest iron mines underneath the Citadel of Keldagrim. We have seventeen iron mines down here but this is the one you have been assigned to. Ye'll mine iron ore on the ground level. We doubt ye'll be of much use up there." The dwarf motioned upwards with his thumb towards the top of the cavern. "Ye'll mine iron until we deem yer worthy to not mine anymore. Turn around." I turned away from them once again and instantly felt the sting of a whip ripping across my back. I could not withstand the pain and I dropped to my knees as an incoherent sound escaped through my lips.

"That's just a reminder of what ye'll feel when ye cross us or defy us. March!"

With tiny steps, I walked forward as quickly as the chains around my ankle would allow me. My trek was mercifully quick as I was placed against a stone wall along with twenty other slaves who were chained together with steel chains. An iron pickaxe was unceremoniously dropped near my feet as one of the two dwarves stayed behind to watch my work. I grabbed the pickaxe and weakly slammed it against the stone. The high-pitched strike of the axe against the rock caused my headache to intensify once again. Yet, I continued to strike the rock as I knew that the dwarf's whiplash wouldn't be too far behind if I hesitated. Eventually, I was able to loosen up a small piece of iron ore from the wall. I turned back to the dwarf.

"Always face the rock. Place iron ore behind ye to da right and rubble to da left. Others will collect for you. Now quit listening and get working!"

I continued working for about four hours before the loud crashing of a gong signaling something. My arms were quite sore but at least my work was enough to keep the guards from striking me. The slaves to my left and right stood upwards once they heard the sound and turned to their right. After a quick head count, we were ordered to march forward towards one of many shafts leading out of the cavern. I was barely able to keep the pickaxe in my hands. My arms felt like jelly. I could barely feel my feet at all. It was the sounds of the whips and the memory of the sting that kept my feet moving instead of collapsing on the spot. After nearly twenty minutes of marching we were led into a dark cave where we were unchained one by one and shoved into the darkness. As I staggered around the dark, other slaves rudely shoved me away from them, making claims such as "my spot". Nearly one hundred slaves were crammed into the dark cave. As the final person entered, an iron gate came crashing down over the entrance, locking us all in. I simply sat down at the spot I was in, whispered a few prayers to Zamorak and drifted off to sleep.

At no time did I ever unclench my left fist. If others discovered that I was a Silver Shade, the dwarves probably wouldn't be the first people to kill me.

---

For four days, this particular routine continued. Without the sun or the stars to gauge time, it was nearly impossible for me to tell how long sleep time was compared to work time. One thing that I could agree on is that the former was far shorter than the latter. The food they served was foul-tasting and quite possibly spoiled. Yet I devoured every last shred of kebob meat I was able to scrap together and drank every last drop of stagnant water I could get. My knowledge of mining helped me out considerably while mining the iron ore. I was able to draw out more iron ore than others around me because I knew where to strike to break apart the ore from the stone. I did not talk to the other slaves at all nor did they speak to me. For that, I was content for the relative peace and quiet. On the fifth day, I was mining iron ore when I started separating out my ore differently than normal. It only took ten minutes before I heard the heavy steps of a dwarf behind me.

"What part of two piles don't ye understand old-timer?" I could hear him removing his whip from the hook hanging from his waist. "Ore and rubble, not ore, ore and rubble."

"Permission to speak?" I did not turn around to face the dwarf.

The dwarf sighed mightily and slumped his hammer against the ground. With an over dramatic thump onto a knee, the dwarf placed his mouth next to my ear. "Speak. And it better be worth me time. Or else it will mean skin from your back."

"The pile closer to my hip are pure iron ores. They will smelt just fine in your furnaces without the chance of melting into slag. The other pile are impure. You should save them for the steel mills." Subconsciously, I braced myself for the barb of the whip or something blunt and hard crashing into me. But there were silence from the guard. I turned my head ever so slightly to the side and looked as far right as I could manage. I met his eyes but they were locked onto the ore pile next to me. He was staring hard at the iron ore I separated aside. Long, tense seconds passed as the dwarf dug his hand into the pile to pull up one of the ores and then another and another. He then stood up. I then heard his hand exploring the other pile I had collected.

"Rise and turn" I heard the voice say. I quietly gulped and got to my feet with the cracking of my knees. I closed my eyes and breathed in slowly, perhaps for the last time. With that, I turned on my heel and opened my eyes. The dwarf's grim appearance was faded somewhat but a contemptuous and critical gleam was still in his eyes. "How can you tell?"

"I've done a lot of mining and smithing in my day. I know when it will smelt or not."

"So do ye? Tell me, how much do ye know?"

"I can smelt and smith runite" I replied.

Most people do not think that dwarves are capable of fast actions. But they can move very quickly when they are in need or they are angered. In a flash, both of the dwarf's hands grabbed my wrists and twisted them painfully. I was forced down onto the ground on my back. The dwarf was on top of me instantly and the handle of his war hammer was pressed down onto my throat. The dwarf had an disgusted look on his face as if his parents were used as the subject of an obscene joke. "Ye lie to me. And when ye lie, ye get punished!"

"I swear upon Bessie's soul that I speak the truth!"

The last thing I remembered about the cavern was the back of the mailed gauntlet striking me across my mouth and the sight of the slaves overhead looking down at me from the scaffolds.

---

That evening, the Smithmaster sat down at his desk and reviewed the large pile of documents he had to sift through. Usually, there was only one stack of papers on his anvil. These were the reports of the Consortium and this typically involved labor, financial and inter-clan disputes. A dwarf's life was never a simple one despite the opinions of other races. It is true that they all enjoyed their drink and food. The time where a dwarf could sit down with a flagon of ale and an audience of fellow dwarfs to tell stories to was the most appreciated times of their lives. But a dwarf had to always keep an open eye or three (if it were possible) to keep aware of their actions and the reputation of their family. Bickering and animosity had always ran prevailant throughout their society. Blood running freely on their streets due to a disagreement on the share of ore received was more common than the Consortium wished to admit. Less dwarves working affected their profit margin and that was something the Smithmaster took a special responsibility as King to prevent.

This particular evening, there was a second stack on his desk. It only consisted of four pages written on rose-colored paper each stamped with the symbol of the pickaxe in red wax. The Smithmaster rarely received documents pertaining to issues of the Faith. When he did, it always became his first priority. The Smithmaster took a large bite of lamb meat from his dinner sitting to his right. After wiping his fingers clean on his leather tunic, he picked up the papers with reverence and began to read the report. Long minutes passed as his eyes slowly moved from the left to the right. Several times, he flipped back and forth from one page to another, confirming his suspicions.

"Surgi!" the Smithmaster yelled out. A few seconds later, an old dwarf with a long braided blonde beard entered the Swordmaster's chambers and bowed before him.

"Aye King?"

"The prophecies are beginning to unravel. The truth is emerging from all the chaos. Tell me about the intruders."

"There were four of them Lord", Surgi began. "The first was a large beast, perhaps troll-bred; alas we are not certain on that. He shot us a defiant eye so we shattered his kneecap. It took thirty of our best kin to restrain him in chains yet more than half of them did not survive the experience. He is incredibly strong in muscle and also of mind. But we will eventually break him and he will be a valued addition to the servants. The second was a elf-witch. Sadly, she offered no resistance when we arrested her. A pity, truly. Her screams would have been a welcome addition to the choirs.

The Smithmaster nodded his head slowly and waved his fingers in a circular motion for Surgi to continue. "The third and fourth individuals matched the descriptions of what you had prophesied. An elderly human with dark skin and reddish hair and a small woman. They were both dressed in red robes and the man carried an old prayer book." Surgi respectfully held out an old and worn book with yellow paper bound in red leather. The Smithmaster took the book in his hands and opened it carefully to read the text inside. He smiled calmly and closed the book with a gentle motion.

"Test him" the Smithmaster stated. "If he fails, kill him and the others. Is the human woman harmed?"

"No Lord."

"Wise. For until the test is administered, she will be not be touched. If even a single hair on her head is, I'll personally crush your skull and throw you into the furnaces."

---

I woke up in a dark place lying on something both hard and cloth-like. My tongue brushed against my teeth and I felt space as it touched the fresh tender gums of my now missing teeth. Two of them were knocked completely out. One of them was very loose and would probably fall out if I chewed with it. My face felt swollen and it hurt when I moved. Fortunately, there was only a little light in this place so I didn't suffer when I looked around. I was in a stone prison cell with a ceiling slightly lower than my full height. I was lying on a stone slab cut into the wall farthest away from the door. There was some fabric of some kind underneath me which didn't smell too appealing. I stood up slowly and slouched over to the door. There was a small slit in the door which I peered through. All I could see was flames and the sound of fire was the only thing I could hear.

A short time passed until the door snapped open and three dwarven guards beckoned for me to come outside. Standing outside the cell was a large furnace which blazed with fire and heat. In front of the furnace was two ornate pedestals which were roughly three feet in diameter and standing two feet off the ground. On the first pedestal was a small clump of light-blue ore and my heart began to beat faster. It was a piece of runite, an object I had not seen in many years. On the other pedestal were eight pieces of coal arranged in an orderly pattern. I walked towards the piece of runite ore as if I were in a dream. The dwarves who were in the same room as I made no motion towards me although they were armed with war-hammers. I stood in front of the piece of runite and whispered weakly, "May I?"

The dwarf closest to me, an older dwarf with a beard that dragged against the stone floor nodded his head and I gently placed my fingers on the surface of the metal. It was very cool to the touch: smooth like glass. While the ore was about twice the size of my fist, I would need both hands to lift up the ore as the metal was incredibly dense. The glimmer of the color was beautiful and I felt a momentary feeling of sadness that I would have to destroy the ore to smelt it. But it was pointless to be sad as it would be transformed into something even more breath-taking. I turned away from the runite ore and walked the few steps to the other pedestal to inspect the coal. Each piece of coal was pitch-black in color and obviously mined from a rich vein. Most people never notice the purity of coal when it is mined. It, like any other mineral from the earth, has qualities which separates it from other pieces of coal. It was expertly mined from the earth and free of traces of other minerals which could potentially weaken the runite in the smelting process. I turned away from the coal and faced the old dwarf in silence.

"Human, it is time to place your merits you speak of to the test. If you can accomplish what you claim, we shall transport you to Keldagrim to face the final judgment from the Smithmaster. If you can not, tell us now so we may grant you a quick death compared to a painful death should you destroy our precious runite." The old dwarf handed me a pair of leather gloves and pointed at the furnace. I looked at the gloves for a moment and let them drop to the floor.

"My old master would never forgive me if I smelted anything with my hands covered." I turned to the runite ore and lifted it up with a some effort. With heavy steps I plodded over to the furnace and threw it into the bin. I then pushed the bin into the flames. It sat there the same as before, completely unaffected from the fire and heat which caressed the surface of the ore. I began to count as I turned around to collect the coal from the other pedestal. Once I reached thirty, I threw one piece of coal into the fire to make it burn stronger and threw one other coal into the bin with the runite. I continued counting as I placed by foot on the bellows and pumped it five times. The surface of the runite began to "sweat" as the heat steadily grew hotter and hotter. One minute after adding the coal, I repeated the same ritual with adding two more coal and pumping the bellows. Exactly two minutes later, all the coal was thrown into the fire and the runite ore was reduced down to a blue colored pool of molten liquid. The dwarves stood behind me silently, watching the smelting with great interest and most likely with awe. I left the liquid runite in the pan inside the furnace and watched it with a critical eye. It was a few minutes until I began to see movement within the molten ore as if a bubble was about to form. Immediately, I pulled the bin out of the fire using its maple handle and carefully walked over to my left where a bar mould was waiting.

With infinite patience, I slowly poured the runite into the mould and replaced the pan into the furnace. By the time I walked back to the mould, the metal had already cooled and hardened into the form of a slender metal bar. I lifted the mould up, turned it upside down and quickly slammed the mould against the ground. With a loud clatter, the runite bar fell out of the mould and I lifted the bar up from the ground with both hands. It was incredibly heavy, even denser than its previous ore form. With a great effort, I walked over to the old dwarf and placed the bar into his hands.

"With my blessings. May its new form be useful to Keldagrim."

The old dwarf stood there silent for several long minutes as he inspected every centimeter of the foot long ingot. Finally he placed the runite bar on the pedestal and kneeled down onto his knee with respect. I collapsed down onto both of my knees from the agony of my pains and the other two dwarves quickly lifted me up onto my feet. "We're not carrying you into the heart of Keldagrim. On your feet." Suddenly a door which was previously invisible to my eyes opened up and I was led into a dark lantern-lit hallway. I could still hear the sounds of whips and screams and the tapping of pickaxes in the distance but it was far away from us. We walked for a great distance down this corridor as the sounds of the mines faded into blessed silence. Just as I thought my legs were going to fail me, we reached a large annex of minecarts sitting on hundreds of different tracks. We walked up to the first track where three mine carts instantly rolled out of a dark tunnel and stopped in front of us. My height allowed me to enter the middle cart with little problem while the dwarves vaulted into their vehicles with a well-practiced motion. And with the loud click, the minecarts began to move once again. The ride was very bumpy but I was pleased to be off my feet.

I was getting far too old for this.

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when i was king, you would have been the first against the wall.


this is sarah, pick up if you're there. i'm at this place on pico boulevard called tech noir.


#42 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 15 October 2007 - 08:07 PM

Chapter IX - The King

"Escaped?"

Barnabas stood at the edge of the table in complete silence along with the other members. This is was something he was very good at doing, especially since what had happened was not his fault. Barnabas watched the senior ranking member of the Templars remaining at the Castle fume and stomp around the conference room. He smiled on the inside, knowing that as much as the Templars promoted control and discipline, even the highest ranking members were subject to frustration.

Barnabas took this opportunity to think of how Hashem could have escaped the Arena. Reports from the scene described three other accomplices including Hashem's supposed daughter (cross-referenced with the Brimhaven "incident"), one very large and very destructive goblin-kin or ogre crossbreed (of great interest to some of the scholars in the Library) and an elvish woman (of whom Savant may or may not be interested in). The ease in which Hashem took out the majority of the Guthixian druids and mercenaries would suggest that he had access to some sort of augmentation device like an amulet of glory. Barnabas had already mentioned this to Bradley before the two left the Castle to return to Varrock. He also thought about his foolish outburst he made a few days ago in the meeting after his connection to the Hivemind. He remembered the look of distain and sadness in Bradley's eyes after he made the comment about the Ents.

But there was no reason to worry too much about it. Bradley did not seem displeased when they spoke afterwards and he even gave him a rare compliment for the speed in which he has learned about the Templars. Barnabas's chest swelled with pride for a brief instant for he was one of the fastest risers in the organization in quite some time. Finally, Kalin, the former knight of Falador who was either one or two positions under Bradley calmed himself down and the meeting was completed as per standard practice. It was a few minutes after the meeting was adjorned that a new face came walking up to him and began speaking to him as if they were long lost brothers. He was a priest of Saradomin in his early forties with jet black hair and a rather nicely trimmed goatee. He seemed perfectly normal except for the slightly jaundiced coloration of his skin.

"Barnabas! It's an honour to finally meet you!", the man said, stretching out his hand for a shake.

"Thank you" Barnabas replied cautiously. "I'm sorry but I've never met you before."

"Oh, I know. But word of your arrival within these walls has spread throughout the Templars. There's people in Shilo Village who think you will do quite well. I'm Birchum, formerly of Ardougne, currently of Rimmington." Barnabas shook his hand firmly yet had a rather dodgy feeling about this individual.

"Pleasure. Is there anything you needed from me?"

Birchum fumbled through his robes and retrieved a small piece of parchment. "Yes, yes... Kalin needs you to report to the Rectory this evening for your initiation rite." Barnabas narrowed his eyes at that statement which Birchum quickly noticed. "You are growing fast in the ranks of the Templars and you will need to understand how everything works from the other side. You have a keen eye for detail and others respect that greatly. Remember to dress up your armor since it's a formal ritual." And with that, Birchum disappeared around a corner leaving him alone in the hallway with the parchment in his hand. He had a suspicious feeling about the exchange for a short period of time before he remembered that he had other duties to handle.

---

The last portion of my journey was not very pleasant since the dwarven guards placed a leather mask over my face. If I had my amulet of glory on, I may have been able to hear distinct sounds to give a sense of location. Just a simple footstep can reveal so much about a location like the material of the flooring, the height and width of the corridor or how far away the step is. Just a single footstep is all I need to grip a concealed dagger and hurl it straight into their throat. But without my amulet on, it was a nauseating experience of movement and random sounds. There was one point of the walk where we stepped onto this platform and suddenly I was lifted straight up at an astonishing speed! My legs instantly buckled and I fell to my knees. Fortunately, there were two firm hands gripping my shoulders.

That's one good thing about dwarves. If they need someone or something held still, they were more than capable in doing so.

The sudden ascent came to an end just as abruptly as it began and I was quickly lifted up onto unstable feet. It was then that I smelt a familiar odor. It was Kelda hops growing in the ground. We must have arrived at the top level of the city. I carefully counted my steps and the direction we traveled in. I heard a set of double doors open and then a short walk to the south led to a staircase. I took the steps three at a time as we went up yet another staircase. There were no sounds of trading and commotion, even though I thought I was in the old Consortium chamber.

I felt short stubby fingers grasping the top of the leather mask and then a harsh tug which yanked out a clump of my hair. Almost immediately, I was shoved forward very rudely and I landed on my hands and knees. I was indeed within the the old Consortium meeting room but the northern wall was completely removed allowing a healthy and chilly breeze. The circular room was illuminated with six torches each held within the grasp of finely wrought steel torch-holders. I was near the top of the Citadel. Before me to the north was a long (but wide and sturdily built) staircase which ended in a metallic throne which was suspended in midair. How the throne did not fall over the edge was an amazing defiance in the laws of physics. Yet, a small and heavy looking dwarf sat at the top. Portions of the throne was covered with various gemstones and diamonds of varying sizes and shapes. It only took a small amount of lighting to make the throne dazzle with brilliance and obscure the features of the powerful King sitting on the throne.

The King was laughing mightily at the sight of me. His laughter floated along with the cold breeze of the outside mountain air with a malicious whistle. I struggled to my feet as best as I could. Several times, I fell over onto my side as my knees screamed with agony. It took nearly five minutes just to place my battered and burnt hands down flat against the stone floor to push myself upwards. Yet I finally managed to stand and maintain my balance. My eyes did not disguise the fury I was feeling at this time. I stared up into the dazzling light of the throne and stared at the King sitting there with vicious daggers coming from my eyes.

"Oh, oh!" the dwarven King exclaimed. "It can stand! Even after all the times we knocked it down to the ground, it stands yet again. So, ye got yer audience with me. But yer request is all for naught as there is absolutely nothing ye can possibly offer the Dwarves! We possess everything! We have endless finances and infinite ores and minerals at our disposal. We own treasures which could buy major human cities many times over. We have all the power in the world! So, unless ye have a miracle tucked up underneath yer fine working clothes, we'll throw you back to the adamantite mines. We have enough runite smithers of dwarven blood. Humans smithing metals, bah!"

The King resumed laughing once again as I reached into my robes with two heavily shaking fingers. Clumsily I poked throughout the robes of my robes and finally found the piece of folded cloth. I pulled the cloth out for the King to see and suddenly smiled with a bloody grin. His amusement quickly settled down to a grim silence as his head lowered somewhat to look at my possession at a better angle. I could just barely discern his eyes within the shadow that masked his face. I didn't need my amulet of glory to see that he was exactly who I thought he was. Wrinkles and age couldn't mask his identity from me. With slow and aching movements, I unfolded the piece of cloth. I looked down inside of the cloth and spoke.

"Lord Smith and Forger of Keldagrim, I offer you one opportunity to accept my terms of this trade. My terms are that in return, you shall free the companions whom were with me upon our discovery within your domain. If they are injured, they shall be healed. If they are hungry, they shall be fed. If they are wronged, than you shall strive to pay penance for your actions. We all demand sanctuary within your domain for a period of three days at the most and then we shall leave. Furthermore, I shall be welcomed back should I choose to return to this fine city before the end of my lifetime. Do you agree to my terms?"

"Show your so-called treasure first, then I'll briefly consider your excessive demand. An earth rune I wager is within your possession. We have thousands of runes of all types. A diamond, I wager next, if it is not... Show your treasure!"

I pinched the firm and dry stem as I lifted a fat, plump redberry up into view.

The King was off his throne instantly and was running down the stairway with his thick stocky feet and short stump-like legs. He was a very old dwarf with an incredibly pudgy face laced with wrinkles and liverspots. His beard was fiery-red in color which sat like a bushy beehive on top of his immense stomach. His breathing was labored by the time he reached the bottom step and he stopped in front of me with wide gleaming eyes.

"You have more?"

"A small amount, perhaps. Maybe enough for a small pie or a few tarts. I'm assuming you want me to cook it for you too?"

"Oh yes please!!" the King begged with sad and achingly hungry eyes.

"Do you agree to my terms?"

"YES!"

I placed the redberry back in the cloth sash and tucked it back into my slave robe. I clenched my right hand around my left wrist and held my left hand forward. The King mirrored my hand placement and we stook hands shaking exactly six times. The King looked up into my eyes and smiled broadly as he begin to speak out an old oath. Upon hearing it, my lips moved along with his as I whispered out my words before the King.

"An oath of bronze is frail and weak,
an oath of iron is bravery meek.
An oath of steel is firm and fair,
an oath of mithril is an oath I'd swear.

An oath of adamantite is firm and true,
an oath of might through and through.
The walls shall crumble and the ore may dry,
but the oath is forever and shall never die.

But an oath of rune is an oath for good,
never to shatter nor change it's mood.
Let all around witness this day:
may it be etched in metal, stone and clay.
The world shall die, the Void may come,
but only if this oath shall ever come undone."


For several long minutes we kept our hands clasped together in silence as we looked proudly into each others eyes. Finally, the King broke the silence. "Sorry laddie for putting the hurtin' on ye. I had to be certain."

"Master Thurgo," I replied. "You tortured me worse than this when I couldn't get my head around steel smelting. You've lost your touch. Free my Daughter, my friend and my companion. Let me cook this morsel for you and we can speak about the old times."

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when i was king, you would have been the first against the wall.


this is sarah, pick up if you're there. i'm at this place on pico boulevard called tech noir.


#43 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 17 October 2007 - 12:05 AM

I hope not either but I am a busy person at work.

And to repair...




Chapter X. - Snacks and Stories

The bruises were starting to form all over my arms and my legs. The last two days of testing (at least that was the "term" Thurgo used) was quite brutal. Yet I could tell that the dwarves were holding something back with each and every beating I endured. My skin felt hot against the heat coming from an earthen brick stove that gave off a sturdy source of stifling heat. My red prayer robes were covered in a mist of freshly ground flour. While the dwarves were not natural Farmers (except for hops), they were wise enough to begin stockpiling a large amount of foodstuffs and meats for the times they had to lock the Mountain down for extended periods of time. All my fresh wounds and burns intensified as I walked closer to the stone oven. It was very painful opening up the door and sliding the pie inside to bake. Yet, I felt completely calm and at ease; oblivious to the temporary shrieks of pain.

"Ten minutes Thurgo. Are my companions safe?"

"Aye, they're safe" Thurgo replied as he sat back on a stout stone chair covered with scores of small throw pillows. His fat fingers lazily gripped a long-stem pipe which gave off a sickly-sweet odor. "Yer heavy muscle killed nearly fifty fine soldiers. Ye may have to come down to speak to him."

"Are your guards trained to cripple first and ask questions later?"

"Aye, they are. 'Tis a trying time we live in. We canna' afford an intruder to gain even a pebble of territory. And since ye're slinging questions at me, how did ye even get inside in the first place?"

"I used an elven teleport crystal which I've modified slightly to serve as a teleport beacon. I entered the old human Mining Guild a few days after it was sealed and hidden one half of the crystal within the stones. It was a very risky venture because I had no way of knowing whether there had been changes made to the cavern. You could have made the cave a storage room and I could have teleported half inside and half outside a crate of steel bars and died instantly. Is that area still under mourning?"

"Nay. The earth forgave us eventually for taking her blood. We never built there because it's a fair distance away from Keldagrim, even by mine cart. More time spent traveling is less time producing. By the by, ye're aware that we have a Front Gate?"

"Yes I am aware but circumstances beyond my control made it rather difficult to travel there. I was forced to use the back door." I pulled up a small stone stool and sat down in front of old Thurgo. His stomach was gurgling with anticipation and his eyes constantly wavered from my eyes to look at the oven. "Since when did you authorize slavery within your Realm?" I asked.

Thurgo sighed mightily and inhaled a long draw from his pipe. He exhaled with an exasperated whistle as smoke billowed out of his lungs. "I never approved of slavery. Even though yer actions throughout that entire Red Axe affair insured my return from exile and the rightful position as King over the Folk, there's customs which won't die out easily. The vast majority of the clans here agreed that the Consortium was a good idea. Thus, I preside as the head of the Consortium and act as the ultimate authority in all disputes. There were only two topics in which my choice was vetoed: slavery and my position as High Priest. Ye know me Hashem, I don't like forcing someone to do something they don't want to do. All the punishment ye endured when I trained you in Smithing was fine because ye coulda told me to stop at any time and end yer training. But what's happening in the mines is something I hate. For yer time down there, I apologize."

"Getting me to accept your apology is a simple affair. I pray the others will be as forgiving."

"Yer Daughter was not harmed in the least nor was she ever taken to the mines after we knocked ye out. You're not the only person who's been having visions or hearing voices in recent days. In fact, many priests and leaders in the Church have been having visions about you even since Zamorak fell to Zaros."

At those words, my head lowered down towards the floor in shame. I thought I was something special for one of the first times in my life. For the last few days, I believed that my visions separated myself from the burdensome life I lived. Thurgo looked over at me with a narrow eye and snorted loudly in disgust.

"Ye're looking Lumby. What's wrong?"

"I thought I was going to be someone special."

"Ye're going to be someone quite memorable once this entire affair reaches its resolution. Even if ye fail or ye succeed, ye'll be remembered in some fashion or another. Some of the more elder bishops back around the time ye were a wee lad had visions about ye wading through oceans of blood or skulking around in deep shadows. So, ye have a great destiny to either fulfill or squander. Ye're being prideful and you know I can't tolerate that."

"As always Thurgo, you are right." I lifted up my head and turned towards the oven. The odor of redberries filled the cramped and stuffy room. Thurgo's bones were weak from supporting his massive weight for so many years. Sitting in this room was always a blessing for him as coldness rarely settled into his joints. The pie had at least five more minutes until it was ready. I stood up and smoothed down the wrinkles in my prayer gown the guards were kind enough to return to me. My trusty prayer book rested on a small wooden table next to Thurgo's collection of completed Zamorak bibles. He had followed many clues throughout his life. His holy vestments were hanging neatly from a iron bolt jutting out of the stone wall and his crosier rested against the wall next to his red refitted garments. All of my possessions were returned to me with the exception of my glory amulet. I lent it to Thurgo so he would have the strength to climb up and down stairwells without the agonizing pain of arthritis. "So if you know the greater picture, would you mind sharing it with me?"

"Enlightenment through chaos is based on instinct and not logic. Logic is the pathway to Order. Logic is usually fragile as it depends on the rationale of the person who is doing the thinking. Passion is a much better conduit to your destination."

"You aren't going to give me a simple answer are you?"

"Of course not" Thurgo replied with a smile. "I wouldn't be a good example to the Faith if I were a hypocrite. Ye must react to the situations and visions as best as ye can to embrace Chaos. Ye must remain diligent to the Faith in order to succeed."

"Hrm" I muttered with a small degree of frustration. I turned my back to Thurgo and walked over to the oven. As I walked, my hand slipped into my robe and pulled out a slender vial of clear liquid. It, like the potions I drank during the Arena, was capped with a tiny wooden cork which I flicked off with my thumbnail. Nonchalantly, I opened the door to the oven and retrieved the small pie with an oven paddle. Thurgo's eyes lit up broadly at the sight of the golden brown pie.

"Oh wait!

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#44 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 24 October 2007 - 07:45 PM

Chapter XI - The Paths of Gods.

I will not lie to myself; I was just as shocked as was every other human within the Church when Thurgo was anointed as a High Archbishop of Zamorak. I remember arguing with my colleagues and fellow swordsmen about his ascension up the ranks of the Church. I could not understand what a dwarf, of all races, would understand about the moral plights of humans. Even when I was ordered to train under Thurgo in the now dark arts of Smithing, I did not speak to him about religion and faith. I was there to learn smelting and smithing, not debate theological opinions or the interpretation of psalms.

Yet when I heard Thurgo speak, my thoughts focused on his words, his tone, his inflection of syllables and his flow of words. He was a born speaker with conviction and knowledge behind his words. I listened intently and felt revitalized by his insight.

"Gods are creations of higher entities. The higher entities that we know of are known simply as the Golden Ones. Many people see the Golden Ones on a daily basis without ever noticing them. Trying to imagine them as human or dwarf or goblin or any living thing is futile as they are All-Knowing and All-Encompassing. They exist within the air ye breathe and the water ye drink. From personal experience, as I spoke about briefly, they appear as ye'd most imagine them to look like. Their only known "personality" trait that our scholars were able to confirm was that they manifest with a stripe of gold or yellow color somewhere on their person. They do not desire nor do they want to receive worship from mortals. They have existed long before Creation was made and they will exist long after Entropy devours everything away."

"The Golden Ones create the Rules and they create the Gods. Besides these two things, they do nothing else except watch to see what happens. Now, while the Gods are just as All-Powerful and All-Encompassing as the Golden Ones, They lack free will. Zamorak, for all His might and power, can not stop serving as Chaos. He also is defined by how the Golden Ones created Him. Some people have argued that bad things happen to living beings because the Gods are jealous of the free will we all possess. I can cast down me crosier and tear off me vestments and stop being an Archbishop if I so choose. Zamorak can not stop me from doing this but He can display His intense displeasure if He so chooses. Others believe that bad events happen in equal amounts of good things throughout the lifespan of an individual and this is caused by cause and effect rather than divine intervention. Regardless, Saradomin is responsible in creating life and matter; Zamorak is responsible for testing the resistances of what is created and Guthix maintains the balance between the two extremes."

"The funny thing is that certain Gods have abilities that other Gods do not have. Zamorak, as far as we know, is completely incapable of creating Life. On the other hand, Saradomin is unable to extinguish Life. Saradomin may receive a prayer from an elderly woman who had been bed-ridden for years. She may no longer be able to move nor speak. She could be in exceptional pain and despair and Saradomin can do nothing to release that woman from her misery. Zamorak could end her life if it suited His desire. You can not imagine the number of families of our Church that have come to me lamenting the loss of their father or relative who died in battle or due to prejudice. All I can do is console them and ease their pain. Our Lord has no dominion over Life, they can not be raised. Necromancy, however, is an alternative.

"Besides the Major Triat, there are thousands upon millions of smaller Gods. Many races do not worship Zamorak, Saradomin or Guthix so the Golden Ones created Gods for the races that Saradomin had created. They in turn possess influence on what they were assigned to control. Most of these Gods are destroyed or uncreated once their purpose becomes obsolete. There's no reason to have a Grand Antslug God or Goddess if the antslugs are extinct. It is our belief that these no longer needed Gods are simply absorbed back into the Cosmos or back into the Golden Ones and they are simply no more.

"Now listen carefully because this is where things get interesting. All Gods, Triat and non-Triat alike, share one characteristic with sentient beings: a drive for survivalism. They share the same reactions to stress as we do. It's a strange concept to think of a God as afraid but they do display these qualities when their existence is at stake. There have been many historical and archaeological references to Gods retreating away from Creation to a state of being which would best be defined as non-existent. There have also been other accounts in which Gods refocused their Being into a material form to lay in torpor. Some Gods have redefined themselves as crystals or rock formations. In fact, there is a cavern under Lumbridge Swamp where a portion of Guthix's power has been focused into rocks which weep tears."

"Yes, I'm familiar with that place. Forgive me for my interruption" I said.

Thurgo grumbled for a moment and resumed his speech. "Many other Archbishops and I have foreseen the hob-ogre in our visions. I can assure ye that his violence and anger is due to our allegiance to Zamorak. It's a natural defense mechanism since Saradomin's purpose is absolute: maintain order and fight against chaos. Yer friendship with the Beast is a curiosity in theology but ultimately a minor detail. His leg is undoubtedly healed at this point due to Saradomin existing within him. If it will make ye feel better, I will come with ye when you speak to him."

"That would be appreciated. I still feel guilty knowing that he was hurt by others."

"And what if ye never met him? He would assuredly feel pain and torment at some point in the future. Let go of yer attachment to him but never release yer friendship. He is a powerful ally for our cause and a powerful connection for yer well-being. Now it is time to rest." Thurgo reached into his pocket and pulled out a slender necklace made from hematite and runite. "This necklace shall ensure ye free passage in our Realm. No dwarf will accost ye with it on. It is a royal symbol of goodwill. And if they do not respect ye with that, they will with this." The old dwarf pushed the Smithing Cape across the table towards my direction. It had been many years since I had worn this cape yet my hands moved on their own volition to fasten the runite clips together around my neck. It was quite heavy due to the interwoven threads of metal yet it felt soothing and comfortable to wear. I reached out my hand to shake Thurgo's hand. He gripped my hand firmly and pulled me downward so that he could embrace me tightly.

"My son. Forgive me for my sins. We needed ye strong so that you would not crumble under the pressure. The hardest part lies before ye."

With that, Thurgo bade me a good night and I exited his quarters. The guards outside his room glanced at me with a cautious look but immediately saluted as I walked past them. I could hear their shushed words of admiration when they saw the cape I was wearing. With slow and casual steps, I walked into the streets of Keldagrim and breathed in the damp, stony smell and felt peace. The city was just as impressive as I remembered it in my younger days. There were no where as many dwarves as there were now. In nearly every direction, even through it was late at night; the streets were filled with dwarves hustling from one place to another. I was frightened at first to walk through the city but passing dwarves removed their hats or helmets as they passed me and nodded politely upon seeing my necklace and cape.

I wandered a short distance to the north on the western side of the old river and stood at the center of the bridge which previously loomed over the Kelda River. The river was dammed off long ago due to the mithril rich vein of minerals which ran on the bed of the former river. From this height, the dark blue glimmers of the metal almost looked like water cascading over the rocks. For nearly an hour I stood in this spot and looked at the city spread out before me and the marveled at the depth in which the dwarves dug. There were hundreds of levels to the city, each one of them with their own multi-floored buildings. Many dwarves passed by me and I heard a few whispered words of awed respect. Yet, I was left alone to contemplate and weigh my options.

I dreaded the knowledge of knowing that I would have to confront T'Hanz. Even with Thurgo by my side, I felt that this situation would not be forgiven. Desperate to keep my mind from racing over that memory over and over again, I thought about Abomia. I imagined the smoothness of her skin on her cheeks and the melodious sound of her laughter when she smiled broadly. And despite my best intention to resist the urge, tears began to stream down my face. They fell off my chin and plummeted nearly a thousand feet straight downward into the depths of the mithril mine.

"Tall folk? Have you been drinking too much?" a voice said a little behind me and to my left. I looked over my shoulder and looked down and stared directly into the eyes of an elderly dwarf wearing a shortened version of the Smithing cape. His hair was all white in color with a short neatly trimmed beard and long flowing hair which extended down to the middle of his back. He was simply dressed with tan colored breeches and an ivory-colored tunic. His boots were black in color with exceptionally thick soles which gave him an additional three inches of height.

"Nay, fellow Master. I have not drunk in years" I replied. I yearned to turn back around and resume staring down into the beautiful mithril mines but I could not be disrespectful to a fellow Smither.

"Years? You know that ale is the wine for those deep within the earth. You have the markings of the furnace in your hair and skin. Don't deny your profession. Come with me. Let us drink together and speak of simpler times." The dwarf stood there with his hands proudly affixed to his hips and a steely eye stared in my direction. I knew that he wouldn't move or budge until I've given him a yes or no answer. And even if I refused, he wouldn't leave just yet. I breathed in slowly and started walking slowly to the east. The dwarf smiled and turned to walk alongside of me.

"What is your name? I'm sure your pride would combust hearing the words 'Master Smither' at all hours of the day and night."

The old dwarf laughed heartily and smiled. "Aye, it would. Pleasure to meet you Hashem. I am Saradomin."

---

This was the second trip across the River Lum for both Commander Bradley and Savant in less than a week. This time, neither of them got very wet at all. Bradley was always impressed with the elven tools that Savant possessed. He had seen Savant build a mahogany dining table in ten minutes time using just a single carving knife. The knife itself was sheltered within in a clay sheath. It was an odd looking knife since the blade itself was as dull as a spoon. Yet a person could hold the knife with just two fingers and slash down a sapling as if the wood wasn't even there. It was a cutting knife (which was one of the most redundant names it could have been called; both Savant and Bradley agreed.) It took Savant about five minutes to cut down two trees and shape the logs into functional canoes all the while whispering apologies disguised as prayers.

The canoes were pushed back into the river once they reached the northern shore and they continued to the northeast back to Varrock. They walked for nearly three hours before they reached the outermost boundary of the Varrockian Army. They were spotted by a sentry riding on a horse and were quickly surrounded by eight heavy cavalry riders dressed in full plate armor and wielding long pole-arms. The cold glimmer of authority came over Bradley's face and they were quickly ordered to deliver a full report of their current mission and the status of their platoon. The questions were quick and to-the-point and Bradley did not allow any time for the soldiers to think about their answers. After nearly ten minutes of interrogation, the soldiers were dismissed (much to their liking) and they rode away to patrol the perimeter of the Army. Savant and Bradley walked about ten more minutes before they came to an elevated section of land which was crowned by a single yew tree with healthy branches and leaves.

To the north were thousands upon thousands of soldiers all training or sparring with each other. An equal number of small pup tents were littered below the two leaders; each one just large enough to fit one man and a few meager possessions. Some of the tents were not aligned neatly as notated within each soldier's manual on warfare. Bradley took careful mental notes on these minor transgressions so he could verbally assault the commanders of that particular platoon and have them reassigned to the front lines. Let the weak ones charge to their deaths. They may be lucky and kill off a few barbarians. But they will be more likely to die and that will strength the Army in the long run. Bradley turned towards the northwest and smoke could be seen rising from the horizon. There was a large number of catapults and bascillae far off towards the west firing their fiery loads towards the wrecked barbarian village. He knew that the barbarians would still attempt to defend their territory against overwhelming odds. Bradley silently cursed into the air since he was not able to see the front lines clearly from his position.

"Why lament over the impossible Bradley?" Savant mentioned casually.

"You are right as always Savant. I believe this is just a human trait I have not yet controlled."

They both walked down the side of the hill and entered into the mass of soldiers directly. As they walked through the ranks of men, they were greeted with quick and orderly salutes and a hush come over the soldiers in the general vicinity of the two leaders. Bradley looked from his left to his right and met the eyes of many of the young soldiers. For all general appearances, the soldiers appeared to be rugged and tempered fighters. Yet Bradley was able to detect small imperfections quite well. By the time he and Savant reached the platoon leader's tent for this particular squadron, Bradley already had a long mental list of grievances he would unkindly direct to the so-called leader.

They would not be spending much time here in the war zone. If everything Bradley has seen in his visions were correct, he would be the safest within the city walls. And even that would not be guaranteed.

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when i was king, you would have been the first against the wall.


this is sarah, pick up if you're there. i'm at this place on pico boulevard called tech noir.


#45 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 17 November 2007 - 12:31 AM

Chapter XII - Just One Drink

I walked through the traditionally dirty areas of Eastern Keldagrim with the odd dwarf close to my side. The scent of rum was heavy on his breath and his swagger suggested that we were heading to his fifth tavern tonight. While he swayed back and forth, his feet always landed him in a mostly upright position and he never lost his balance for the two miles we walked. Many dwarves were on the streets in what I believed to be in the very early morning. The lights of the lanterns lining the streets were dimmed, suggesting that it was light outside. Perception of time underground is nearly impossible to maintain. All the strikes on my head in the last few days completely destroyed my knowledge of whether the sun or the moon hovered in the sky above the mountain of stone. The other dwarves maintained their distance from me. I could tell that not all the dwarves particularly cared for humans even if they were wearing a Smithing Cape. I could also tell that not all of them appreciated my allegience with Zamorak. But they did respect the Lord Smith's necklace and that's what made me go drinking with Saradomin.

He and I hadn't spoken for at least ten minutes. The twenty minutes before that time was spent listening to the dwarf ramble on about his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Looking down at him now, he didn't really even appear old enough to establish that boast. His hair was long and pure white in color. His thick moustache flowed down his upper lip and blended in perfectly with his white beard that extended nearly down to his ankles. His nose was large and bulbous and very very red. And when he looked up at me, his eyes had an elusive shade of blue. It was a strange color for blue and its origin escaped me.

"Skyflowers..." Saradomin muttered.

"Pardon?" I asked.

"Skyflowers. That's what I gave my son Frossum when he returned from glorious battle! Oh they were beautiful flowers. Oh, I pray for the day we will reopen our kingdom and allow us to see the outside world again. The earth we love is their soil; both should be respected!" The dwarf waved his fist in the air as he spoke each word and trailed off as he starting staring at his hand with bleary eyes."

"Are you certain you want to have any more drinks?"

"Are ye certain ye don't want me fist in yer face, fellow Smith Lord?" Saradomin stared at me with a crooked evil eye before erupting in laughter. "I'm perfectly fine Hashem so quit your worrying."

"I never told you my name."

"True, but we already know everything is there to know about you. Lord Smith Thurgo never shuts up about you. Now I don't follow his or your religion for obvious reasons..." Saradomin nearly choked himself with a rapid-fire series of short laughs that nearly caused him to double over in pain. He eventually stood and resumed. "Pardon please. But the majority of this fine city does follow Zamorak and word tends to travel around a lot. And I'll tell you that a good deal of us dwarves are pleased that you did prove to us that you are who you truly are. Oh, by the way, I'm Saradomin!" The dwarf stopped and stuck his hand outward for me to shake.

"Charmed" I murmured as I shook his hand for the seventh time tonight. I looked up from him and noticed that the tavern was only about fifty feet away. The Split Pick was one of the toughest taverns in Keldagrim and quite possibly the deadliest one I had ever frequented in my life. Even from this distance, the sounds of fighting and laughter could be heard pouring from the small windows. We sauntered up to the front door and Saradomin swung it wide open. We were both bathed with waves of merry voices as Saradomin was greeted with salutations such as "your majesty!" or "divine one!" He smiled broadly and walked clumsily forward into the establishment. I stooped downward and entered the building. The instant my head came into view to the dwarves, it fell instantly quiet except for the sounds of hands grabbing hammers.

"Mind your manners and clear your eyes!" shouted Saradomin who suddenly had a rather dour expression on his face. The crowd immediately fell quiet as the barfull of dwarves noticed both the Cape and the necklace. The bar exploded with cheers and turned straight back to drinking and talking. I carefully made my way through the sea of drunken dwarves as I felt hardy slaps against my sore back. I was greeted by nearly twenty dwarves at once and I took the time to greet each one of them. For ten minutes, I chatted with the dwarves who were curious with news from the topside and gave them a quick synopsis of the troubled society of the humans.

By the time I was finished (or when the dwarves noticed that their flagons of ale was empty), I made my way to the bar to sit down next to Saradomin. He was busily jawing with the bartender with promises of healthy long lives in exchange for ale. The bartender was standing like a statue with his arms crossed and his eyes looking vacantly upward. Noticing my approach, the bartender pointed a finger at me and beckoned me closer.

"Human Hammer-wielder, he's with you?"

"Regrettably so, Tapman. He was rather persistant in talking to me."

"Thurgo don't hand those necklaces out like tin. Your tab is on the house for tonight only. Will you pay me back for his drinks?"

I nodded my head and the bartender walked to the taps to fill our flagons to the brim with stout. He returned with two tall glasses filled with exactly one pint of pitch black liquid. Saradomin loudly and drunkenly praised the name of Zamorak and lifted up his glass. His call was responded by nearly half the bar as glasses were raised from the tables and the rowdy beginning of a rather bawdy drinking song. By the time I turned back towards him, half of his glass was empty but not a drop of stout landed on his beard. I lifted up the glass and took a gulp of the bitter liquid. As I drank, I noticed the surface of the stone walls with greater clarity than before. I nudged the side of my companion and he looked up at me with a broad smile.

"So, your Lordship, what did you need to speak to me about?"

Saradomin swayed back and forth on his stool as he lifted up a finger to wave against of the movement of his body. "Not yet. You need to drink more."

"I don't drink much anymore. My body can't handle a hangover like I used to forty years ago."

"The hob-ogre you're worrying so much about is perfectly fine." The dwarf's voice changed just slightly when I heard it. It sounded empty yet all-surrounding at the same time for a split second. "Aye, you heard me. Drink up and then we'll talk."

Looking down at my stout, I thought those words were particularly wise and I began to order more to drink.

-----

Three hours had passed and I was standing at the end of a long table with roughly three hundred dwarven eyes locked onto my mouth. I was talking about my recent adventures through Lumbridge and across the ocean and my bloody fight within the Arena. Prior to that, I regaled the audience with a long story about my training under Thurgo near Ice Mountain. At the end of the story, I had every dwarf laughing so hard from my very simple, very human mistakes. Smithing and mining were so natural to a dwarf like breathing and eating is to all living things. Simple mistakes like hammering the edge of a knife too flatly were unknown to the dwarves so my mistakes were considered hilarious to them. Although, I believe they were laughing more over the torment I received from their current leader. I never spoke poorly of their King so there was never any animosity intended when I described my frustrations.

Saradomin was sitting nearby, listening in to my words but content to be drinking and resting his bare feet up on a nearby stool. He was still working on the stouts, having consumed at least twenty pints of the dark ale. I had lost count of the number I had prior to switching to rum shots. The room was beginning to move slightly on its own accord yet I was still able to maintain my composure and my balance. Dinner was finally served and my question on the exact time was finally answered. I had been drinking since mid afternoon, something I had not done since after I left my father. My stomach rumbled upon smelling the odor of roasted boar and chickens. The waitress slid a plate of food across the table and I ravenously feasted on the slightly bloody meat.

Saradomin and I eventually left the tavern after being wished well by each and every person in the bar personally. I had clasped many hands that evening and Saradomin received plenty of mocked bows and prayers. We staggered out onto the street singing an old battle hymn which sounded distinctively like a prayer to rid the body of poisons. The song was familiar as I vaguely remembered reciting those words while infiltrating the Church of Saradomin while investigating an undead excursion on a remote island beyond Morytania. The days of my youth were so filled with wonder. I began singing Zamorak prayers in return as we walked back to the bridge to the north. After a while, we arrived at the eastern side of the bridge where he turned and stopped.

"So.. Saradomin", I slurred, "what ish it ye want'd to tell me?"

Saradomin looked up at me with his cool blue eyes and spoke in a distant and hollow voice. "You may want to sit while I talk." I didn't raise my voice or complain. I simply fell backwards and thumped down on my posterior. I felt pain but I didn't feel all of it at once so I was fine. "Zaros is preoccupied currently as It is recalling how to regain omniscience. So, I have a little more time than I thought to talk."

"You aren't a god" I slurred to the dwarf.

"You don't have to believe anything I have to say. That's your choice and that's something us Gods have learned to accept over the years. Back in the earlier Ages, we would smite down a person with an insolent tongue or curse their ancestors and descendants for blasphemy. Now, we are content to receive worship and watch you fulfill your destinies. Now, in order to truly commune with the Gods, you must possess some kind of madness. Thurgo was always very perceptive to Zamorak's visions because he is Incando. He is bound by addiction to redberries and his forced abstinence from the fruit has attuned his mind well to receiving the Will of his God. You only began seeing the majority of your visions in recent years since you are starting to enter senility. Your mind is beginning to fade and all of your cunning and intelligence will soon fade into forgetfulness. You drank so you may become drunk. This allows you to hear my words."

I started to lift a finger but Saradomin seemed to become brighter. Logic and reason flowed out of my brain as my eyes focused on the rapidly blurring form of Saradomin. I started to avert my eyes but discovered that I lacked strength to lift my hands up to cover my eyes. Slowly, the light grew in intensity and eventually everything became pure white. It was then that I heard Saradomin's voice again.

"When Zaros trapped My Avatar in Its icy prison, It knew that It could not fully capture My full Being. Since It was created before My aspect came fully into focus, It had an advantage that I could not overcome. Yet, It was newly awoken from eons of slumber so Zaros was still weak. Because of this, I still had the ability to transcend the planes and commune with my subjects. The plan for my freedom, and subsequently: Zamorak's rebirth, had begun the instant I sacrificed Myself to save my beloved city. The plan is nearing completion; the hardest part of your journey is about to begin."

"I speak to you, loyal servant of Zamorak, because you are now the entity I must place My full faith in to accomplish your goal. My previous hopes were placed in a mortal organization called the Knight Templars but their leadership has been corrupted with Zaros' influence. There is one person within the Knight Templars whom you may trust for he understands that co-existence and not conflict is the only avenue through this trying time. You have already met this man although he may not remember your first meeting. Everyone else within this organization must be avoided at all costs. They aim to kill you for they see you as the new incarnation of Chaos."

"Speak to Thurgo about my words and I shall speak to My son in return. Lift your spirits and take shelter in that you will not be alone for the long walk."

And with the onset of a splitting headache, I succumbed to the spinning in my head and noisily vomited up the contents of my stomach.

-----

"Fourteen pints of stout and twelve shots of rotgut rum?" Thurgo's voice was much louder than it needed to be. I lacked the strength or the courage to ask an Archbishop to keep the noise down. He was completely furious to have been waken up by his guard to ask where to put the stinking drunk human. "Hashem, ye must control yer desire to poison and ravage yer body. Yer survival and everyone's survival is dependent on yer well being!"

"Thurgo", I weakly said, "who are the Knight Templars? I've heard their name mentioned several times in the last month by my Daughter and in a vision."

Thurgo snorted derisively. "A vision me arse! Ye were practically pissing grain alcohol last night."

"Saradomin visited me last night. You can dismiss this as drunken rambling if you want to. He spoke to me and told me that he was now relying on me as much as Zamorak. His plan was crumbling away because he claims that the Knight Templars are now corrupted by Zaros. He also said that he would be speaking to T'Hanz."

Thurgo fell silent and stroked his pudgy fingers through his long voluminous beard. "Describe Him. Not the dwarf. Him."

My mind scrambled to recall the previous evening. I remembered the drinking and the laughter as well as the long-winded stories of some the tavern's regulars. I remembered feeling the cool breeze against my sweating face as I leaned backwards against the side of the stone bridge and recalling the shift in the dwarf's voice. "He was bright, but not blinding although I struggled to shield my eyes from His form. I did not feel pain when looking at Him. I remember vaguely that He had arms and legs like a human or dwarf but I knew that He was completely beyond comprehension. He could have had a thousand arms or twenty noses and He would have seemed completely normal to me." Thurgo fell silent yet again and my head rejoiced in the peaceful silence that took over the room. Finally the obese dwarf sat down on his favorite cushioned chair and spoke.

"The Knight Templars are a clandestine organization who believes it is their duty to guide everyone more towards order. They were not concerned whether people wanted their direction forced on them or not. They believe that if you did not believe Saradomin's word as gospel then ye were a heretic and ye had to die. They were responsible for many political coups throughout the world from the insertion of an operative in a remote village in a minor position of power all the way up to kings and queens and Grand Councils. They were also responsible for the breaking of the old Guilds and tarnishing the proud heritage of Smithing. Working molten metals with a hammer is not a sign of evil yet that is how the Knights portrayed the skill once they learned that I worship Zamorak. They are very powerful with alliances throughout the land. They are fantastically wealthy and they even have access to some rune magics. Their leader, who is rumoured to be a Harbinger Elf, has access to many strange magicks; both of fae and sylvan origins. Their troops are well supplied, well trained and fanatical in devotion. They are very, very dangerous."

My fingers rested against my pulsating temples and I could feel my blood coursing through my veins like the beats of a malicious minded drummer. "And your thoughts on the organization's corruption?"

"I have no opinion at this time my son. Regardless of whether they have been influenced by true Evil or ye perceived yer vision incorrectly, the Templars lie in between ye and Varrock. There is very little that they do not know." Thurgo placed his hands together and fell silent. I had seen that pose many times in the past as that was when he did his best thinking. For several long minutes, the stone carved room was completely silent except for the sound of our breaths. Finally, he opened his eyes and stood up from his chair. "Ye shall leave to Varrock in three day's time. Tomorrow is Church and I will annouce yer departure from the city to all who will listen. Have faith Hashem. For when ye leave the mines and quarries of Keldagrim, ye will not be alone."

"Saradomin mentioned that to me."

"Mentioned what?"

"That I would not be alone."

Thurgo walked over to me and placed a heavy hand on my shoulder. I could feel his beard against my cheek as he placed his lips near my ear. "Hashem, a talking donkey could have mentioned that to ye and it would have still been true. There are five thousand faithful followers of Zamorak in this proud city and nary one of them would allow ye to enter the gates of Hell alone. Church is in ten hours. I'll wake ye in five. Yer companions need to be reunited with ye."

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#46 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 12 January 2008 - 12:48 AM

Chapter XIII - Three Doors

My head was still pounding from the effects of the alcohol still coursing through my veins. Even as much as I missed being with my Daughter and T'Hanz, I truly did not want to wake up. Thurgo, for all of his excellent qualities, was not a patient dwarf; especially when it came to keeping his incredibly busy schedule. It took nearly all of my willpower to keep from vomiting as we descended from the royal level of Keldagrim all the way to the base of the city and the mines. The suspended platforms of granite which the dwarves referred to as Lifters did nothing to alleviate my nausea. I stood in the center of one of these platforms and it suddenly dropped down into the bowels of the earth. I wanted to scream as I felt the sensation of floating and falling all at the same time. It was the sturdy hand of Thurgo and one other nameless dwarf guard who placed their hands on my shoulders and kept my light frame from thrusting upwards against the drop. We reached the bottom of Keldagrim with great satisfaction and we walked towards the Prison building which was situated near the entrance to the mines. We were currently walking through a narrow tunnel lit by oil lanterns every twenty-five feet. The sounds of the guards' metallic boots stepping against the stone was like cannons firing and no pressure against my temples would alleviate the pain.

Thurgo was busy reading various scrolls and parchments as he led the way through the tunnels which led to the proper cells. He rarely looked upward to see where he was going. There was really no need for him to do so. Dwarves were renown for their instincts involving rocks and ores and all things related to the Underearth. He could tell by the echoes how far he has traveled, how much longer he would need to walk and the subtle changes in the tunnel's pitch. We were accompanied by ten dwarven soldiers who were sworn to protect the Smithlord at all times, two royal advisors who carried unread information for Thurgo to scan and a young dwarf who was most likely a runner or apprentice for Thurgo. He walked with speed and grace which belied his rather ample frame thank to my amulet. If there was one pleasure I gained from this experience, it was knowing that my old teacher was without pain until I reclaimed my property.

Eventually, we entered through a thick iron door and entered a dark corridor which seemed to extend towards infinity. Every six feet, there were two iron doors on either side of the hallway. It was oddly quiet within the prison. We walked another fifty feet before Thurgo stopped and ordered a guard to unlock a non-descript door to our left. The door swung open and Thurgo finally looked up from his scrolls to wave me inside. With a nervous sigh and a beating heart, I stepped through the threshold.

Inside was a rather comfortable looking room complete with crude wooden furniture and a small bed with a mattress and pillows. Sitting on the foot of the bed was my Daughter and she immediately stood up and hugged me with a powerful squeeze. My face turned red from the powerful embrace and she immediately stopped.

"No... amulet..." I breathed out in painful gasps.

"I'm wearing it at the time my Mistress" Thurgo said from outside the door. "Your Father lent it to me so my arthritis wouldn't hurt me so badly."

We sat on the bed as Thurgo stepped inside the cell to sit on one of the stone chairs. Many questions were answered and Abomia expressed her relief in knowing that I was fine and we were in the domain of friends and fellow believers. All the time we spoke to each other, her hand rested against my hand and her thumb softly rubbed against the surface of my scar. I turned towards her occasionally and found her eyes locked upon mine. I could only look at her for seconds at a time before I turned away with an odd sensation of love and fear and self-loathing.

Abomia was treated with the utmost of respect by the dwarves thanks to the direct order of Thurgo. As he explained to me earlier and for the first time to my Daughter, he forseen the events which will eventually lead us full circle to Varrock. Abomia listened in complete silence; nodding her head at the appropriate times to acknowledge that she understood. It was when one of Thurgo's advisers gently coughed that we all stood up and exited the cell. With a loud clash and the relatching of locks, her cell was closed and we continued down the hallway to the left.

---

Like a moth to a flame, the scattered remnants of the Mother's influence over the Templars began to arrive in Falador. They were all secretive individuals and they strived to keep their jaundiced condition away from the perceptions of others. One by one, they entered the Castle and was waved through by guards who were aware of their position within the Knights Templar. They spoke very little to outsiders and spoke silently with the others of whom the Mother blessed with her essence.

The priest held a simple charm in his hand with a tight grip as other yellow-skinned people began to strap armor to the slightly smelly body of Barnabas. It had been two days since he was turned into the Undead by the Saradomin priest and his facial features were carefully restructured into a vision of restful insight instead of shocked betrayal. Barnabas made only the softest sounds of moaning as the Templars slipped his pale white feet into silver and blue trimmed steel boots. After a short period of time and several healthy sprays of rose water, the zombie was completely covered from head to toe in armor with the exception of his helmet.

The priest gripped the charm tighter and commanded the zombie to rise to its feet. Without a sound, it stood upwards and remained in at attention until the next order was given. The zombie was ordered to exit the room in which was created and enter the doorway to the right. The sounds of hissing instantly echoed throughout the room as the priest and the zombie entered. Commanding the zombie to remain still, the priest quickly removed a slender metal key from within the depths of his robe and walked to the chained Hivemind of the Mother. With a click, the chains fell down to the stone floor with a clatter and the creature began to weakly crawl across the floor towards its new host. The priest stood against the northern wall completely silent for a few seconds before he dropped down to the ground, dead. A small trickle of yellow fluid oozed out of his ear and seeped across the floor to rejoin back with the Hivemind. Just outside the cell, there were other sounds of bodies hitting the floor and within a minute, there were other yellow slime-like tendrils crawling towards the Hivemind.

It took the Hivemind nearly a decade of captivity and torture before it found the opportunity to safely spawn offspring. It was pleased with the work of its children. It was almost as if it was the Mother herself, but it quickly dismissed that foolish notion lest the true Mother display displeasure. The slimes were quickly absorbed into the body of the Hivemind and it slithered towards the body of Barnabas. With tentacles which slowly regained strength, the Hivemind climbed up the leg of the zombie up to the base of its skull.

And with a quiet gurgling noise, the Hivemind hardened one of its tentacles with a substantial amount of effort and drove it through the back of Barnabas' skull. Slowly, the form of the Hivemind entered the body of the zombie as the color of Barnabas' skin darkened from sickly white to putrid light-yellow. The arms of the armored biped began to move on their own accord as the Hivemind took control over the body as if it were pulling the strings of a marionette. It took a few minutes before the Hivemind was able to liquify and digest the unneeded organs and bones to make room for its entire form.

The Hivemind opened its new eyes and they began to glow yellow. It reconnected itself to the Mother and she was pleased to be whole once again. The Templars will pay for their cruelty against one of the Mother's own. The Mother leafed through the decayed remnants of Barnabas' brain. She saw the image of a meeting of men and a name was mentioned that she was interested in.

Hashem.

The Mother sifted through the memories of her new host body and found another meeting which said that Hashem was last in Seers Village, a captive in the Arena. The Mother telepathically contacted several of her Captains at sea. In less than two minutes, five of her ships changed course and began sailing to the shore line near the snow covered mountain. Hashem was heading to Varrock.

Mother would be waiting.

---

"Are you sure this is the right cell Thurgo? It's so quiet inside."

"Aye, it is" Thurgo replied as he handed me the keyring. "My guards told me that he began to sit on the floor of the room cross-legged, as if he were meditating. Every time they looked through the spyhole, he was always in the same spot. He's eating though, that's for certain."

I nodded my head grimly. "My amulet please?" Thurgo frowned when I said that but respectfully slipped the amulet up from around his pudgy neck and held it out. As the amulet passed from hand to hand, I could see his body "lower" as his old and tired joints suddenly felt the substantial weight from his girth. His face grimaced as he felt the pain shoot from his ankles and knees and I felt pity seeping from my heart. "It will only be for a minute my old Master. If he hugs me without it on, he could potentially kill me."

I slowly walked up to the door and slid open the metal latch which concealed the spyhole. The room was completely dark with the exception of two slivers of red glowing eyes. They were facing the door. I heard calm breathing inside. "T'Hanz?" I asked. "Are you alright?"

"Yes Hashem. I am well. Will we be heading to Varrock now?" I audibly gasped when I heard him speak. He was speaking in complete sentences and using proper grammar! Slowly, I unlocked the door and opened up the heavy metal door. As light from outside entered the cell, I saw T'Hanz again for the first time in several days and a giant smile crept over my face. He appeared to be perfectly fine and his knee had no obvious signs of a wound. While T'Hanz appeared to be the same as before, there was a distinct change in his eyes. There was no signs of dullness in them; they almost sparkled with intellect. T'Hanz appeared to me like a true warrior leader much like the old Chieftain from Relekkia as I passed my Trials. He appeared calm, wise and patient.

"You seem to look fine my old friend. Are you injured?"

"No. My broken leg healed completely after the first day. It was when I fell asleep that I had a different dream than before. My Father spoke to me at much greater length then before."

"What did he tell you?", I asked.

"He said that it would be wise if he kept a closer eye on us for the final leg of our journey." T'Hanz paused for a moment and looked outside the door. "Abomia? Please come in! I've missed you so much!" As she entered the cell, I noticed for a split instant an odd glimmer of light coming from T'Hanz's eye. It was the briefest glimmer of blue light and it could have just been a trick of my mind. Abomia smiled broadly and hugged the massive bicep of the hob-ogre and immediately looked down at his previously injured knee.

"Did it hurt?" she asked.

"Oh yes. It did. However, now is not the time for retribution." T'Hanz stood from his sitted position and stretched his limbs out as best as possible due to the terribly small size of his cell. Even the largest cell in Keldagrim was not enough room from his immense frame. "High Smithlord Thurgo?"

"Aye?" Thurgo said from outside the cell. None of the dwarves would step into his cell.

"My revenge shall not come now but it will come after this is all over. There is an hatred between Dwarves and Goblinkin which will only be satisfied with the shedding of blood. I would suggest that your kind prepare themselves well as they have done for centuries. There will be a reckoning."

"That I understand T'Hanz. From one warrior to another, I would not expect anything less than justice."

T'Hanz nodded his head and began the process of carefully squeezing through the door frame. "For now, I hunger and I require a large amount of food. I also require a royal pendant that Hashem is wearing. I despise the notion that my appearance instantly labels me as a threat. If the pendant will ensure respect with your people, then I require it." Thurgo turned to his runner and nodded his head. The runner took off down the hallways with the sharp sounds of his metal boots slapping against the granite.

"Anything else?"

"Just peace between us until the resolution is reached. After that, anything goes." T'Hanz finally managed to get through the doorway although the ceiling in the hallway was still three feet too low for him. He hunched over as he walked backwards down the hallway back the entrance of the prison. At least outside he will have plenty of room to move about. Abomia accompanied the hob-ogre as the guards escorted them out of the prison. Thurgo and I remained behind to unlock the third door.

"When did she pass over?"

"About twelve hours after we shackled her with cold iron and slammed the door home.", Thurgo replied. "No sunlight, no wind, no sights of the forest or the touch of Nature. The only plant-life down here is mold which sometimes leads to interesting visuals."

I looked down at Thurgo with interest. "Glowing molds?"

Thurgo chuckled as he flipped through his keyring for the right key. "Aye. She will become my third wraith and hopefully the color scheme will be appealing to my eyes. Thurgo finally found the right key and unlocked the rather simple lock. Had Allessandra not been Elvish, she could have easily escaped this room with a solid kick to the doorknob. Sadly for her, the walls and floor of the cell was made from pure iron. Iron was always the ally of the Dwarves for it was plentiful, marketable and durable. However, an obscure note about the metal is that it is the physical representation of Reality and it is the exact opposite of Magic. Races which rely upon Magic to survive such as the Fae or the Elves or possibly even the Moon Clan of my father find themselves weakened when the metal is directly touching their skin. It saps their strength and weakens their resolve to fight. It's the ultimate representation of Banality, Glamour's Death. It's actually quite interesting to watch.

Thurgo opened the door and I saw Allessandra lying in a heap against the northern wall. Her body appeared emaciated and the skin around her face was taut, highlighting her skull underneath. The color of her skin was completely black as if she had been horrifically burnt but that was a simple side effect of being away from the sun for an extended period of time. But the most curious thing about her was the glowing green algae which seeped into her pores.

"So, the elf is trying desperately to commune with Nature and the only plantlife down here is mold?"

"Aye, that's right. The algae respects the elf and is willing to do what it can to preserve their life. Skin or hair: whatever it can get to. You know I don't care for elves at all but even I think this looks beautiful." Thurgo kicked Allessandra in the stomach with a resounding thud. Weakly, she struggled to move but found herself unable to move her shackles. To her, they weighed a thousand pounds. Thurgo smiled as he reached into his robes and retrieved an iron nail etched with curious symbols.

"Thurgo, you know that I dislike Necromancy."

"I know you do. But she will be invaluable for our cause. She will benefit us more as a Wraith than an Elf." And with that Thurgo kneeled down on one knee, turned Allessandra onto her back, placed the tip of the nail directly on her forehead and smashed it home with one strike of his hammer. Her scream pierced throughout the prison and I was taken back by its sheer intensity. Whatever hope of my headache fading was instantly shattered. Slowly, her skin began to grow mottled as she began to decay at an accelerated rate. Clumps of skin began to drip off her body and quickly scattered into ashes as they struck the floor. Eventually, all the remained of the elf was a biped-shaped pile of dust and the nail clattered against the ground. All the symbols on the nail glowed with a sickly green color and it very faintly hummed with power. Thurgo picked up the nail and held it tightly between two thick fingers. "Show yourself Elf-Witch!" he yelled.

Out of nowhere, a ghost-like version of Allessandra materialized into view. The face and body of the elf appeared to be much the same shape as her former body but she was comprised of black mist with glowing green highlights. Her hair floated in the air as if she were submerged underwater and each individual strand glowed the same eerie color of green. Most intimidating were her eyes. They were completely black with two pinpoints of green coloration mimicking pupils. Her face dripped with complete comtempt and she would have gladly torn us both to shreds if Thurgo wasn't holding the controlling device.

"A nail?"

"Not too much blood to clean up afterwards. Most necromancers prefer using a knife but then there's the initial shock and pain of death. You slice a person's throat, their heartbeat will force out nearly all the blood in a person's body. Besides, the nail can then be hammered into a suitable object for maintaining control." Thurgo looked at the terrifying form of the Wraith and whispered "away". Allessandra instantly faded from sight. Thurgo slipped the nail back into his robe and we stepped out of the cell.

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when i was king, you would have been the first against the wall.


this is sarah, pick up if you're there. i'm at this place on pico boulevard called tech noir.


#47 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 08 April 2008 - 09:18 PM

Chapter XIV - A Day to Worship

The hushed sound of the congregation could be heard from behind the partition where the High Priest prepared for the service. All of the dwarves in the audience were respectful of the place of worship yet it was difficult for them to avoid small noises like the shuffling of feet or the occasional cough. A temple based above ground is a peaceful place to worship since it is usually quiet and somber. But a temple found deep within the earth with tall walls surrounding the pews is a prime example of pure aural chaos. I moved the curtain not more than half an inch to view the worshipers and was astounded to see several thousands of dwarves all dressed in their ceremonial robes or, at least, their cleanest garments. There was never an official dress code within the Zamorak Church. Peasants commonly entered the church wearing their regular garb and they were welcomed within the fold without prejudice.

Although even the poorest parishioner made a conscious effort to appear in church wearing the best clothes they owned. Respect transcends Order and Chaos.

Thurgo made the final adjustments on his red-trimmed miter before stamping the end of his crosier against the stone floor three times. The crash of the strikes echoed throughout the cavern and there was a sudden increase of volume as the congregation began to hush and shush each other. Within a few seconds, there was complete silence except for a few children who were to young to understand the concept of quiet. Thurgo smiled at us for a second before stepping out before his flock, muttering the first few words of the Fourth Hymn. His voice reverberated throughout the cavern, his echoes complimenting his powerful voice in a rather confusing but beautiful fashion. As he walked to his podium, the choir behind him began to sing.

As much as I wanted to join in with the song, I remained quiet. I knew that my voice was much different than the naturally deep-voiced dwarves and I could not bring myself to soil a most beautiful rendition of the Fourth Hymn. I looked to my left and saw my Daughter and T'Hanz standing next to each other with their heads bowed. Oddly enough, I noticed T'Hanz's large lips moving to the words of the prayer and Abomia smiling contently from the prayer. I had so many questions that I wanted to ask but now would be the worst time to speak.

"Wait until the service is completed Hashem. We'll speak to you." I suddenly noticed Abomia looking at me with a loving smile and a red finger tipped with a pitch-black claw held over her lips. I blinked and Abomia appeared normal once again. T'Hanz looked over at me with his sage-like eyes and he winked at me.

"Be respectful of your Lord's wishes Hashem." It was the hob-ogre's voice within my head this time. My heart began to beat wildly from within my chest but slowly I began to calm down as I heard Thurgo begin the Rites. The air was filled with the sounds of fluttering pages as the dwarves in the congregation picked up their prayer books and turned to the proper page to recite our Lord's prayers. I've been within many temples and churches in my lifetime, mostly as a loyal Zamorakist but sometimes as a disguised Saradominist. One thing I have noticed is that both religion's services were alike for the most part. Each faith had their own ceremonies which mirrored their counterpart's rites. I closed my eyes and began to focus upon the words of the prayers and I began to feel peace once again. After thirty minutes of chanting and preaching and singing, Thurgo cleared his voice and began to speak.

"My Folk and Kin, my brothers and sisters from within the earth and my beloved clan mates: the time which I have spoken about for the past two years has come to pass. The end of this Age is imminent. Before our Lord's demise at the hands of the foul Elder God, we have done much to further His good name. We have made Chaos strong throughout the land by challenging the laws which do more to oppress than assist and changing the perceptions of the non-believers around us. But now, the ultimate step remains before us. Our Lord Zamorak is ready to be reborn!" Gasps echoed throughout the congregation along with cries of joy. Thurgo smiled in calm quiet as he allowed his followers to express their surprise and relief. He tapped his crosier against the floor once again and the Chaos Dwarves of Keldagrim became quiet once again.

"However, in order for our Lord to be restored, we must place our faith in the hands of a human." Oddly enough, there was very little commotion from the congregation when Thurgo said those words. "As such, I hereby order all the workers in the mines freed from their services. Their crimes of trespassing in our Domain shall be absolved. When our Lord is reborn, we shall honor Zamorak by returning to our roots. No longer shall a Kin-folk rely upon the work of another person when it comes to reaping the rewards of rock and stone." Several highly-decorated dwarves sitting in the front row nodded their stony faces up and down in quiet agreement and possibly with a small measure of guilt at the same time.

"There are quite a few of you who may have seen a dark-skinned human wandering throughout our fair city yesterday. He was wearing a fiercely-earned Smithing Cape and a hematite pendant. And," as Thurgo turned his head slightly to his right with a smile, "he still owes the Tapman of that establishment a rather large tab." Laughs and applause erupted from the congregation for a few seconds but silence was restored well before Thurgo had to grip his crosier again." Many priests and Archbishops have had visions about this man."

"However, the visions were never about his companion, who holds a much grander purpose than he. He is the shield, the aegis, the protector of the Host. And the Host shall become Zamorak if we rise up against the forces which aim to destroy our Lord once and for all! I would make a royal declaration if this matter involved the blood. But it doesn't. This crisis is one of Faith and therefore I must request. I call upon the Faithful of Chaos and all others, who may hear my words, to join us into war. Our cause is not for the further glory of Zamorak, who shall re-rise. Our cause is for the preservation of everything we hold dear. Should Saradomin die within the heart of Varrock, all existence may turn black from the taint of Zaros!"

---

It heard It's name spoken somewhere.

Zaros' influence was beginning to influence the lands around him. Already the golden sands surrounding Its pyramid was pitch black in color and covered with a thin coating of ice. The frost was as firm and unyielding as runite and was very jagged in appearance. The entirety of the Kharidian desert was firmly under Its control and only the strongest and bravest of Its followers remained in Al Kharid. Zaros floated in Its biped form over the blood covered flagstones of the crypt and was instantly curious. The calling of Its name came from far beyond Its range of knowledge and It extended Its consciousness outwards.

It was a large mountain range capped with white snow and icy crags.

Zaros sensed smoke from deep underneath the mountain. It was technology that It sensed; a much more evolved version than the goblins. It descended down through the rocky plates of earth.

There were many iron-wrought lanterns lit with grain alcohol. The light created shadows and Zaros smiled.

And at the bottom of the caves, a red-robed dwarf (yes, that is what the humans and goblins called them) preached the Word of the Fallen One. He was responsible for much blood-shed.

The conditions were right and Zaros manifested Itself into a tiny shadow at the base of the crosier the dwarf held in his hand. The shadow shimmered slightly and shifted into an inkier shade of darkness. The shadow shivered for a split instant as Zaros smiled in amusement.

---

"Abomia" I whispered suddenly. She turned to look at me as I extended a long finger towards the foot of Thurgo. Her eyes instantly looked forward and she saw the odd inconsistency in the shadows. Her hand pressed against my chest as she silently and quietly pushed me backwards by two steps. T'Hanz's hand was already on Abomia's shoulder, preventing her from moving forward. He looked at me with eyes which glowed soft blue. He bent down on one knee and whispered in a voice that I never knew he was capable of.

"Hashem, my dearest friend, you must step back. You will not survive this fight even if there were ten thousand of you. We shall thwart Evil." T'Hanz's face was calm and tranquil but I could see the look of intense concern in his eyes.

"Thurgo is in danger. I must save him."

Abomia spoke this time. It was strange because she continued on as if she was the one talking to me just now. "You must decide whether you wish to save him or not. Do what you feel is needed the most. Whatever your decision must be, you must not engage Evil. Evil will destroy you before you even touch the hilt of your scimitar."

I blinked and I
felt the touch of Abomia touching my chest. I took two steps backwards before Abomia could push me back and I noticed her hands gripping her dragon daggers. T'Hanz was already crouched down in a stance where he could sprint forward with his powerful legs.

"I'll grab Thurgo." Both Abomia and T'Hanz nodded in agreement and we ran towards the Archbishop. Many thousands of dwarves collectively gasped as they saw three figures appear on the side of the elevated stage. Thurgo turned to look at us in a confused and irate expression. With a sudden rush of icy wind, a score of thick black tendrils covered with jagged spikes erupted from the tiny shadow. Thurgo moved faster than I have ever seen him move when he crouched low to the ground and swung his crosier at the one of the tentacles. With a piercing shatter, the symbol of Zamorak exploded and the elderly dwarf was hurled back with a concussive force. The tendrils wavered in anger and began to lash out randomly. The choir behind Thurgo attempted to run off the stage but was unable to escape Zaros' wrath. Within a few frenzied seconds, the thirty member group of respected voices were reduced down to bloody chunks of flesh and fragments of blood-stained robes. The arms whipped around in a fluid movement and began to flail wildly at the first several rows of the congregation. A few attempted to stand their ground, a few attempted to flee but it was all for naught. Dozens of dwarves fell by the second and the tiled floor of the church ran freely with the blood of innocents.

I swallowed down every ounce of terror I had coursing through my heart and dashed towards the fallen priest. Since Zaros was directing his murderous rage towards the audience, I dashed as quickly as I could towards the LordSmith. I mercifully reached the dwarf and bent down next to him as I slipped two fingers against his pudgy neck. I was able to feel a strong pulse and I was confident that he would be just fine. I glanced upward and saw two of his personal guards standing about ten feet away from me. While they were frightened, I hissed out a stern command for them to come forward and rescue their leader. Fortunately, their bravery quickly returned and they rushed forward to drag him away. Just as they arrived, Thurgo rolled over and pushed his ample frame up onto one knee.

"Aye, that was a good hit but not nearly enough to keep a proud dwarf down." Suddenly his eyes opened wide as his hands gripped my shoulders and pulled me closer to him. I screamed in agony as I felt a jolt of intense pain rip across the left side of my stomach. With a mighty thud, I found myself flipped over and lying against the stone floor which was rapidly growing wetter with the flow of blood. He instantly was up on his feet and inspecting my wound. I felt more pain as his meaty hand pressed down hard on my flank.

"It's a deep cut laddie." He whistled hard and but the guards he was summoning was already present. They were terribly frightened at the manifestation of Zaros but they stood their ground and shielded us against any further attacks. They stood in front of us with their kite shields firmly planted on the ground. My vision began to grow murky as coughs and chokes began to fill the air. I felt tough hands gripping my armpits and I was dragged away towards the side of the stage. Screams and cries of fear echoed throughout the temple as everything began to fade into shadow.

A terribly cold, terribly dark and terribly evil shadow...

Suddenly, the glows of blue and red filled my vision as Abomia stabbed one of her daggers into the shadowy appendages of Zaros. Its wounds shined with blinding light and within that light I saw Zamorak in His former glory cutting deep into the body of Zaros with His War-Axe. Behind Zamorak, I saw a white-robed man gripping a staff which was as large as an oak. He leapt upwards, blinding like the cold winter sky against the sunlight and He struck Zaros with a crippling blow. The form of Zaros writhed around and flailed wildly with a demonic roar which caused the walls to rumble and crack.

It was then that everything froze in place. The temple was illuminated with pure shadow as everything darkened to the point where the smallest features of every person present was visible. The transformation was nearly impossible to describe in words, the best thing I could think of is when Ititas came to me twice before. The tendrils of Zaros melted together into the form of a smoky murky shape and then reformed into a singular form of pure and absolute dread. The form of Zaros hovered over the podium and our religious icons began to shatter from Its presense. It stood nearly twenty feet in height and the horns from Its head extended nearly thirty feet across the temple. Zaros appeared powerful in physique despite the fact that a God would not lower Itself to smite a mortal with Its fists. Smaller wisps of shadows circled around the form of Evil, caressing but not actually touching the True Form of the God.

Zamorak and Saradomin stood ready with their weapons on either side of Zaros. Order was crouched with His mighty staff in both hands, ready to cast out apocalyptic bursts of magic or to smite It with its trembling power. Chaos stood at ease: His mighty War-Axe reformed in His hands into two cruel daggers which dripped with Oblivion. Zaros began to speak in an ancient tongue and Its words rumbled throughout the earth. Flecks and pebbles began to rain down overhead as Its powerful voice echoed throughout Keldagrim. I was trembling down to my very soul yet I sat up (to Thurgo's desperate objections) and began to sing.

My voice was so small against the might of Zaros but it was strong enough for Thurgo to hear. He began to sing along with me also. Upon hearing our duet, the guards who bravely approached us despite true Evil's manifestation began to sing along too. Our voices began to ripple throughout the temple and many other dwarves joined in with the song. I struggled to look past Zaros' dreadful form and noticed much of the congregation still in attendance. Fear was beating wildly through the chests of every man, woman and child dwarf but they still struggled to sing their prayer along with us. Within a few seconds, the rousing prayer of the Fourth Hymn filled the city of Keldagrim for the second time.

It was then that Zaros turned away from Chaos and Order and faced me directly. I clenched my eyes shut against Its full gaze but I could still see the blackest set of eyes wreathed with flames and ice searing and tearing into my soul. My lips still continued to mouth the Hymn yet I could not longer hear my words. I felt footsteps walking closer to me (which was odd since It was floating) and my skin began to blister from the chill of ice. My eyes opened involuntarily and my green eyes became visible to Evil.

"
Spoiler
" Zaros spoke in a voice which sounded like a hollow echo in a deep crypt. Instantaneously, Zaros retreated back into the shadows on the stone floor panel and light crept back into the temple.

---

Savant immediately fell silent and pressed his hand to his head. It is not often that Savant gets to enjoy particularly well cooked meals. It's not that the Templars did not have access to cooks of high renown, it's the fact that the majority of them migrated to Varrock after the breaking of the Guilds. It is rarer still for when he gets to speak with others with culture that even vaguely reminded him of his old home in the Grand Forest far to the west. Not that foul abomination which was Ardou'glantis; the true homeland farther still towards the sunset.

But in the middle of lunch in the royal banquet hall of the Iron Citadel of Varrock, Savant showed a rare deviation from civility when he paused in the middle of his story. His starry blue eyes fell shut and an uncomfortable silence overtook the table. It only lasted about five seconds before Savant smiled and resumed the story of the Great Underground pass. Not the true version of it at any rate, but it was sanitized enough to satisfy the foolish egos of the humans.

With a playful touch of appreciation towards the waitstaff (a particularly attractive female human who had privately "served" him several times in the past), Savant stood from the table, praised Queen Ellamaria's good health and left the table. Bradley was quick in excusing himself along with Savant and quietly followed him back to his private chambers. He knocked on the wooden door and it unlatched and opened for the general. Savant was sitting on the opposite side of the room, his hand outstretched in command over the wooden door.

"Are you well?" Bradley asked the old elf.

"No Bradley, I am not. I have foreseen an event which could have serious ramifications against our cause."

---

I looked around and immediately noticed the sprays of blood and gore against the stone walls on either side of the pews. Nearly two hundred dwarves (of rather opulent and highly esteemed families) lay dead in their seats or against the ground. There were still several hundred worshippers huddled against the back of the church who either stood their ground as best as possible or was not yet able to flee completely. Cries and screams echoed throughout the caverns of Keldagrim as word quickly spread of the deaths. I looked around the pulpit and saw Abomia and T'Hanz standing on the stage in confusion. Abomia turned around wildly and saw me lying on the bloody ground. She rushed over to me and kissed my cheek with cold lips. She looked at Thurgo and jerked her thumb towards the congregation. Thurgo quickly rose up from his knees and turned to face his flock as she tended to my wound.

"My people. What you have witnessed is what shall happen to every living thing should we fail. I beg of all who can hear my voice. It does not matter if you praise Chaos or worship Order. If we fail to fulfill what I have been preaching, this is our future! Tonight, we shall mourn. Tomorrow, we shall plan. And on the following day, we shall have vengeance!"

---

The cheer of the dwarves filled the city and echoed down every expansive mine shaft and cavern and grotto underneath the earth. The ears of a white-furred half-wolf outside the village of Catherby twitched upon hearing the faint noise coming from the old shortcut underneath White Wolf Mountain. The wolf grumbled with vocal cords that had some humanity in them and bayed into the air. He swallowed two more bites of raw rabbit before he heard two howls in response.

"Good" the lycanthrope thought. "They have heeded the call."

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when i was king, you would have been the first against the wall.


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#48 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 11 April 2008 - 11:45 PM

Chapter XV - A Day to Mourn

Not many people in Keldagrim slept that night.

Throughout the mines, there was confusion as legions of armored dwarven guards began unlatching shackles and throwing the steel chains in large piles. The miners were understandably frightened. After all, for most of them, had nowhere else to go in the world after spending so many years in a place where they were provided food to eat and was also warm. A few of the slaves took this opportunity to take their revenge against their former captors but their uprising was brought to a final end by the crushing end of the guard's warhammers. It took nearly two thousand dwarves six hours throughout the night to gather all the slaves together before one of their many cleverly disguised Gates and release them all out into the snowy night. Most of the weakened and bruised humans died within hours from exposure to the bitter elements; the others were granted mercy from the cold by the fangs and claws of wandering wolves.

And as the last slave was pushed outside of the Dwarven Kingdom, a few of the bearded guards noticed the loud howls of the wolves over the whistles of the cold wind. There were more of them outside than normal, most likely from a productive breeding season. The Gates closed with a resounding slam and the side of the mountain was quickly covered with a blanket of snow, returning it to its former nondescript appearance.

The mess halls and taverns of the city were remarkably busy this evening as nearly the entire population of Keldagrim found it needed to share their misery with their friends, their families and their rivals. The taps at every tavern never stopped flowing that night as flagon after flagon of ale were poured to be lifted up into the air in remembrance of those who died earlier in the day. Even the most grizzled and stone-hearted mine guard wept openly at the pain of one of their relatives or friends perishing down in the Zamorak Church. Zaros' fury made physical identification of the corpses impossible. A listing of those who died was only possible through clan and individual sigils found on rings and other metal symbols worn by the dead.

Thurgo did not sleep at all that night. His Church was desecrated by Evil and it was his sworn duty, along with his Priests, to clean up all the carnage and restore it back to it's former glory. It would have taken a week to remove all the bloodstains from the pews and the walls but many dwarves, including the local dwarven Bishop of Saradomin, were on their knees; scrubbing the stone seats with bronze wire brushes and stifling down the urge to vomit. The stench of the dead hung heavy in the air and every person's clothing was soaked in blood after even a few minutes. It took five hours of cleaning before all the butchered carcasses were collected together in metal chests, carried two miles in a long procession line and thrown into the still working fires of Bessie, the old Blast Furnace. Even as they worked, goldcrafters and stoneworkers of all Houses and Companies were toiling to create new icons and repair the damaged walls of the Temple.

And deep within the mines of Keldagrim, exactly ninety-nine dwarven miners of the highest skill and learning, each clad with capes inlaided with the symbol of a pickaxe, toiled at a large fragment of granite. The stone was nearly two hundred feet in length and each dwarf hammered and chiseled away with maddening speed. A person with an untrained eye would have commented that the dwarves were doing a great job in reducing the boulder down into dust. But each dwarf knew exactly what they were crafting and they performed their work with great respect and much sorrow. In thirty minutes, their task was completed and each of the dwarves lifted the Memorial Obelisk onto their shoulders and began the painful and agonizing march to the Consortium Building at the highest point of the city.

---

"Abomia, I have to kill you."

We were in a small parlor in Thurgo's residence, both of us sitting cross-legged on the floor facing each other. The room was illuminated by a single candle which was positioned on a table which was more or less between ourselves. The walls of the room were lined with wooden bookcases: a rarity in Keldagrim but something Thurgo personally requested when his royal home was constructed from the base to the rafter. Thurgo had traveled extensively prior to his acceptance of King and LordSmith of the Dwarves and I would wager that he had met a few elves in his extensive lifetime. The majority of the shelves were filled with volumes and volumes of personal accounts and tomes on theology.

Abomia, just as beautiful as she had appeared to me throughout the time I have known her, was silent. Yet, she did not appear to be shocked or surprised by my statement. She breathed softly with her eyes closed and her head lowered towards the ground. For several minutes, the only sound between us was our breaths and the sounds of our hearts beating within our chests. Finally, she looked up.

"Why?" It was a matter-of-fact voice, without a tinge of anger or fear.

For the next several minutes, I spoke to her about the events in Ardou'glantis, the pointing of the elves' fingers towards her when the question Ititas commanded me to ask was given and the possession of Zamorak into her small, lithe form. I told her about my second meeting with the Golden One as she laid asleep in bed in the Elven city as he explained the ramifications of the Awakening. I told her about my visions and I told her about my conversation with Saradomin, the supposed "enemy". All the while, she listened intently and made no attempt to interrupt. And as I spoke, I struggled to hold back the tears in my eyes as best as possible and ultimately failed. With a delicate trace of her fingers, she wiped the salty tears away from my eyes and held me close. As I felt her hands touch my back, I knew that I have loved no one else in my life except for her and to lose her would destroy all of my sanity.

It was then that I noticed an odd shift in the light of the candle. It was if it "blinked", a barely perceivable diminishing of the light as it returned to it's former brightness. I felt Abomia's hands lightly pat my back and she moved backwards to look into my eyes. But it was no longer Abomia, it was Zamorak.

"Thank you for telling her. You really should have spoken about this to her sooner. It is a sin, after all, to treat those you love and those who love you in return in a cruel manner." There was a gentle knock on the closed door and Zamorak lifted His black-clawed finger slightly in response. The door creaked open and Saradomin, the dwarf, walked into the library. "Greetings Order." Zamorak said to the dwarf without actually looking at Him.

"Well met Chaos. I would have manifested My Avatar into the form my last creation yet I doubt his size would accommodate the tight quarters of this room." Saradomin strolled before me and greeted me with a simple nod. I bowed in return to the both of them.

"I am sorry my Lord. I displayed weakness to you and I beg your forgiveness." Zamorak smiled just slightly and placed the gentle hands of my daughter together in a contemplative fashion as he turned just slightly to His right. Saradomin walked over to Zamorak and assumed the same position except that He faced away from Zamorak to His left. At the same time, they took a single step away from each other and the ebony-robed form of Ititas appeared between them.

"And it comes to pass that We arrive to you for the third and final time. Before you even ask, no, Abomia knows nothing of what is occurring. She does not retain any memory of the time Chaos exists within her."

"Nor does this dwarf," Saradomin said, "who smells perpetually of ale and kebobs, recalls the times in which I inhabited his body and walked with one of my favorite races."

"You did the world a great justice when you stood defiant in front of Evil, Hashem. Through your bravery and your own actions, you have forced Evil to abide by one of the Great Laws." Zamorak coughed slightly upon saying the last word but returned the sign of weakness with a curious smile which dripped of contempt.

"What law is this, my Lords?" I asked.

Ititas spoke upon hearing the question. "The first question has been stated. Whenever there is a great disagreement between the Gods, between the three members of the Triat or between those who were or will ever be part of the Triat, a Godwar must commence. When you opened your eyelids and stared into the Eyes of Evil with your orbs of emerald color, It saw Guthix. Both Order and Chaos spoke to Evil at that precise moment and the ancient Rule was invoked. At this moment, you have nothing to fear from Evil. It will not, under any circumstances, attack you or any party which is involved with either Chaos or Order. The Godwar must be waged and a winner must be determined."

"But I am not Guthix!"

"Of course you are not. Evil is still drowsy after many eternities of slumber. It will still require, of what you mortals consider centuries, time before It regains absolute power over Its Dominion. It saw the symbol of Guthix within you: both in the color of your eyes and the profession within the Church you were given by My Archbishops. That was sufficient enough for us to fool Evil. It may be older than both of us combined but the weight of slumber is still heavy on Its Shoulders."

"Good. At least we have time to plan."

Saradomin was the one who spoke. "No, time is a luxury you do not have. I have been dying steadily inside Evil's icy prison. There is only a fraction of time left before I fade into Oblivion."

"How much time?" I asked.

"The second question has been asked. It is rare that We ever provide portents and dinivations for mortals, but the circumstances are dire. Five days from now at the height of the Sun over the courtyard of Varrock will be the exact moment of Order's death if no action is taken to circumvent this destiny." I breathed in through my nose and calculated my location and the distance from Keldagrim to Varrock. It would be a long and exhausting march with little time to rest but the travel was entirely possible. "You have one final question to ask Hashem."

I looked at the two Gods and the one true Creator in front of me and that is when I noticed that Saradomin and Zamorak had never looked at each other the entire time They were together in the same room. Even when They (or what I thought was Them) spoke to me prior to rescuing Thurgo from a certain and grisly death, They were looking at my direction and not at each other. I then pondered the hatred between the two religions over the Ages of this world. Countless mortals have died in their wars against each other and it was all over a belief that could be easily accepted by the other side if they had only taken the time to understand the other perspective.

"My final question is not towards you Ititas. It is for both my Lord Saradomin and also Lord Saradomin." Their eyes turned towards me as I spoke my words and I felt suddenly small and insignificant in Their presence. I felt a tremor of fear creep through my spine and I breathed quickly, afraid that it would be my last breath. "Why is there so much hatred between Chaos and Order?" Ititas folded his hands inside the sleeves of his gold-trimmed robe and looked back and forth at both Gods simultaneously, an impossible and unexplainable task which was accomplished by the Creator without effort. It was then that Saradomin and Zamorak turned towards each other and looked at each other for a few seconds and turned away.

"Tell Me Hashem, why is it you hate Necromancy so much?"

I thought about the question for a good minute. "I find it unnatural for a person who lived a full and satisfying life to be brought back from the Beyond. It defeats the purpose of life; it makes everything they have worked and struggled for while they lived a moot point."

"I wished I thought of that when she died. But I was so consumed with the loss of the woman that I loved that I refused to accept that." Zamorak walked over to a small chair and sat down. It was so odd seeing the body of Abomia playing host to a God and seeing that God bordering on the verge of despair and sadness. "Many thousands of your years ago, in the time your history would consider the Second Age, I was not yet Chaos. I was Zamorak of the Maj'harrat, an immortal race from another dimension than this one. Events came to pass where the Maj'harrat was facing extinction against Evil. To this very moment, I do not know why Evil decided to turn Its attention on us. While I am a God and I am omnipotent, Evil's purposes is entirely Its knowledge, not mine, since It is older than I. What I knew for certain is that fleeing Evil's wrath was not an acceptable and honorable avenue of action."

"Now I know you know all about the history in that War since I have always been watching you in the classrooms in the temples, even after My death. But what very few people know is that prior to slaying Evil and assuming the mantle of Chaos, I was deeply in love with a fellow Maj'harrat named Enakhra." Zamorak paused for a few moments as He placed Abomia's hand against her forehead and a mighty sigh escaped from her tiny frame. "Your human mind can not comprehend the true form of the Maj'harrat but when I say that her beauty transcended all beauty ever known, I am not exaggerating."

"I can understand that My Lord." I said as I kneeled next to Zamorak and placed my hands on Abomia's small fingers and looked into her/His eyes.

"In the end, Evil was defeated when we were both impaled on a God-sword. I immediately transcended into Godhood while Evil was banished into torpor. I searched all throughout the heavens and the hells for my lost love but I could not find her. I finally turned to the only entity that could create new life, Order. He refused me also. My hatred for Order instantly erupted like an inferno and I vowed that I would destroy Him. Ahh, the irony of the moment. We are in a position where my oath can finally be achieved but yet it would result in the fatality of all Reality." I turned my head towards Saradomin and He was standing to the right of me with His arms folded over His mighty chest.

"So young Chaos, do you finally understand why I refused your request? Your creation of Necromancy to revive your lost love was in vain for it can not fully recreate Life. I'm certain that the Enakhra you falsely created desired you to the end of its unlife but it lacked the full spirit of the entity you previously loved."

Zamorak sadly looked into the eyes of Saradomin and sighed despondently. "Aye. I do admit fault. I was a young God, full of impetuousness and arrogance. I understand now the folly of My actions but You know that I can not apologize."

Saradomin nodded his head curtly. "You swore an Oath against me and there are Rules that must be followed. We'll eventually see this out to the bloody end." At that moment, a large clock in the corner of the room began to toll four times with the sound of an iron mallet striking a flattened bar of runite. "Hashem, we must leave you now. I'm feeling particularly merciful after this discussion with you. And with you also young Chaos. I think I'll leave this drunken dwarf on his bed with a particularly pleasant dream about his youth. To all who are here, I bid you all farewell." And with a turn on His heel, Saradomin opened the door, stepped through, looked back with a polite nod and closed the door. Ititas did not say anything. He simply vanished as if He was never here the entire time. All the remained in the room was Zamorak and myself.

"Let's not shock Abomia by finding herself on the chair instead of the floor. Zamorak stood up and stepped over to the position He first appeared to me in: kneeling on the floor embracing me. I took the opportunity to wipe a forming tear from my eye with my finger and I resumed my earlier position. I hugged Zamorak tightly and He took this moment to whisper a few words into my ear. And with that, I noticed the light of the candle waver slightly and I felt the coolness of Abomia's skin once again. She was softly weeping and my hand moved up to touch her soft hair.

"I am sorry my Daughter." I said with a weak voice. "The last thing I ever wanted to do is to hurt you." Abomia pushed herself away from me and looked into my eyes with tears streaming down hers. She then leaned forwarded and kissed me passionately and my heart began to beat madly with desire.

"You do not need to apologize" she breathed out. "There's always an alternative." With that, she pinched the flame of the nearby candle and we both collapsed down onto the floor.

---

"You are right my most faithful of followers. There is nothing more chaotic than love."

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when i was king, you would have been the first against the wall.


this is sarah, pick up if you're there. i'm at this place on pico boulevard called tech noir.


#49 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 08 September 2008 - 08:54 PM

Chapter XVI - A Day to Plan

"We're related?", I said in confusion as I slipped the smooth yet dense robes over my shoulders. The white fabric interwoven with barely perceivable mithril threads pressed down on my shoulders with a noticeable gravity. While it didn't impede my movement nor cause any amount of discomfort from the weight, it would take a little while to get used to it.

"Aye Hashem. I am certain of it." Thurgo opened his desk drawer and rummaged around through his various knick-knacks collected throughout the years. A few tiny and well-cut emeralds, an old crumpled up tinderbox and a few spools of threads before he was able to find what he was looking for. He produced a slender golden necklace with a cameo dangling from it. Even with his pudgy fingers, he was able to click open the pendant revealing a stencil-drawing of a young female dwarf. "This is Elendia Forgefire of the Incando clan. She is your mother." I took the pendant and stared at the picture for several long minutes, attempting to coax any type of memory from it.

"No. I recall nothing." Thurgo frowned somewhat as he took the necklace back from me.

"It is a shame. She was a renown member of our bloodline as her addiction was the most unique of all. I desire redberries. You desire knowledge or chaos, that I haven't determined yet. However, she craved a simple yet impossible thing. Peace."

"How can you achieve peace Thurgo?"

"You can't, only on a personal level. She was one of only three Incando who conquered her curse and became a member of the Morcant, the Satisfied. She discovered, after many maddening years of insanity, that peace lied without the caverns of my Kingdom. She traveled the world and eventually found that peace was only a short distance to the west of here. She settled on the outskirts of Relekkia, just a few miles outside of our Main Gate. It seemed that her issue was that she was claustrophobic and living underground was too traumatic for her. So she lived out the rest of her life in the valleys against the slopes of the snow-covered mountains of the Trolls. Eventually, she made contact with the Fremenniks. She may have been spoken to kindly by the Chieftain at that time but she was never to be accepted within the tribe. She was a dwarf and they were humans. The Chieftain decreed that no Fremennik shall associate with her in matters regarding their tribe. But your father was a different type of human."

"My father was technically not a Fremennik. He was part of the Moon Clan." Thurgo's eyes opened somewhat when I said that.

"The Golden Ones told you that?"

"No, the Ty'ranless'ach of the Elves. He told me this prior to casting a spell on me. He mentioned something about vengeance."

"Well, my kind is not knowledgeable about Magic so forgive me if I can't help unravel that puzzle. In the end, he came to visit her and provide her with foods grown from his fields. She had an exceptional amount of knowledge pertaining to the art of construction. The two became acquaintances and eventually friends and ultimately lovers. In fact, I remember seeing you for the first time when I came to visit her before she passed on. You were maybe four years old and napping when I saw her and she told me about how she conquered her addiction. Peace was all around her and she was finally content to raise you. Sadly, she became ill several months later and finally passed away on a gentle Spring morning. Your father was inconsolable."

As he spoke, I distinctly remembered a thought in which I was running outside through the fields and running by my parents. I recalled being able to see my mother's face yet my father's face was out of view. "Does it bother you that you were unable to become a Morcant?"

"No lad. Zamorak is my satisfaction." Thurgo continued to scribble away at a piece of paper as I carefully tied the red-trimmed stole into position. The holy vestment was dwarven smithed, not woven from cotton. The white "cloth" of the robe was a stitching of fine steel wires, each as thin and flexible as a single strand of hair. Interwoven throughout the thinness of the metal cloth were colorless filaments of purified mithril and runite which augmented the density of the entire robe. It was strong enough to deflect a runite arrow shot from one hundred feet away if it were aimed at the wearer's chest. They fail to mention that the impact would most likely shatter one's ribs or sternum but it would definitely save a person's life. Plates of polished ruby were then soldered to the surface of the robe in intricate designs feigning the appearance of a trimmed garment. Each robe takes a group of fifty dwarven smiths and crafters two years to manufacture. While this suggests my promotion to Bishop was preordained, I still wondered how Thurgo got my measurements. I carefully positioned the mitre on top of my head and turned to Thurgo.

"So? How do I look?"

"Pull your left sleeve down a quarter of an inch. Only the most worthy followers of Zamorak ever get to wear a holy vestment and you're the first human to ever receive a dwarf-made version. A lot of blood went into that so make certain you wear it with respect." Thurgo stood from his chair and carefully clasped his holy cape around his throat. "Come now. It's time for the meeting. How fitting that your first one is regarding the most important matter in recorded history. It should be interesting."

---

The room was dark. That was simply a given.

I had never been present to a High Meeting within the Church of Zamorak simply due to the fact that only Bishops and Archbishops (and their established dignitaries, woe to those who loosen their tongues) are allowed to even see the interior of the Chamber. Every Zamorak Church has a Chamber and only four of them aren't to the exacting standards of it being septagonal in shape with a radius of sixty-six feet. This Chamber was one of the four as it was constructed by dwarves. Even they are not apt to inter too deeply within their domains: untold beasts and infernal entities are known to dwell deep in their coffins of stone. Besides, space is considered a premium to the dwarves so their Chamber was scaled to dwarven proportions.

I originally sat to the right of Thurgo but I found the dark obsidian thrones to be uncomfortable. The width for my posterior was fine, it was the height of the backrest which was too short against my spine and the breadth of the seat had me sitting with my knees up to my chest. With the assistance of Abomia (and Abomia only, much to the amazement of the other Bishops), the solid-stone chair was moved away from the black seven-sided table and I knelt on the ground. I carefully smoothed the metallic "fabric" of the vestment over my knees before I kneeled down as I didn't wish to sully the whiteness of it. Yet, the ground was immaculately clean and there was no dirt present to stain the leggings. My amulet of glory hugged my chest closely underneath the tight fitting garment.

I looked briefly at Thurgo as he was about to call order to the meeting and took comfort in knowing that his pains would not bother him for the rest of his life. He wore Abomia's amulet of glory underneath his own vestment. Immediately, I turned behind me and saw Abomia standing a few steps behind me against the wall. Her eyes were wide-open and her pupils were as dilated as if she had chewed raw tarromin or kwuarm. Both were powerful muscle constrictors and accelerators coming from the same family of plants. But her dazed yet lucid expression was caused by the onyx amulet worn around her neck.

I had decided to give Dama's fury amulet to Abomia earlier in the day. I had worn it once, while speaking to Thurgo in his study prior to my promotion to Bishophood. The instant I placed it around my neck, I felt such an incredible rush of power flowing through every muscle, bone and capillary in my body. My mind was arush with words and whispers, some coming from many rooms down the hallway and spilling into me ears from the streets far below. I nearly vomited as I sniffed in air through my nose as I sensed an incredible onslaught of salt coming from the tiny beads of sweat on Thurgo's brow. The burning of the candles were a combination of sickly sweet marrentil and the bitter acidic sensation of burning rope. And when I opened my eyes, I saw Thurgo's face and it began to grow larger and larger until I found myself staring at an individual hair in his moustache. And amazingly enough, it grew larger and larger until I saw tiny spheres, each lightly red in color fading ever so slowly in its pigmentation.

I was able to see aging and that's when I started to become nauseous.

I ripped the amulet off my neck and immediately felt such overwhelming weight in my hands. The piece of crafted onyx was barely larger than the dimensions of my thumb yet it weighed approximately three pounds. The fury amulet created such an incredible sensation of power that removing it created a most cruel illusion of weakness upon removal. I wore it a few times more and I knew that I could not lay claim to this artifact. It was too powerful for my body and my mind to handle. Abomia would be better suited to use it.

And as I looked at her with concern, she snapped out of her trance-like appearance to look back at me with loving eyes. I knew she knew what I was thinking. I was able to hear the pulse of Thurgo like beating drums when I wore it; I knew that she could tell that my heartrate increased when I looked at her with the smallest sensation of fear. She mouthed to me "I'm fine." and I breathed a sigh of relief. She was still getting used to it much like we both did when we wore our glory amulets for the first time.

A gentle tap of Thurgo's hand against his chair called the room to silence. Other hooded Bishops sat at the other sides of the table with stacks of papers and rolled up parchments ready to reference facts at a moment's notice. Dwarves were naturally meticulous creatures and information to them is true power. I felt partially unprepared compared to the other Bishops but Thurgo made no mention of bringing anything along. "I call now to order this Meeting. In Zamorak's name, we pray:"

"Dearest Zamorak, Mantle of Chaos and Lord of our lives, we pray that you grant us the inspiration to make the right decisions to further your Name. May Anger fuel our desire for righteous revenge against the vile Zaros, Evil Incarnate. May Passion strengthen our resolve, our shields and our hammers in battle. And may Clarity and Understanding guide us to make the right decisions for every Zamorakist throughout the world, every dwarf in Keldagrim and the existence of everything as we know it. In Chaos' name, I say, amen."

"Amen." was whispered by everyone present.

"Right then. As we all know, the public meeting held in the Consortium went quite well. I believe that the majority of the Clans and Company were glad for war to be declared. We have had a slump in profits for the last few years and war is a good way to keep everyone working as productively as possible. I had received word from several contacts confirming the position of Varrock's army. There are approximately ten thousand troops present as of five days ago and I would venture that there will be far more by the time we arrive. Our army is being mobilized as we speak and they will be ready to march in three hour's time. I also think Hashem's course of action is quite sound. Eastern movement through the Asgardian Ridge from Taverly straight to the western region of Varrock is the most direct route. The Guthixian druids of Taverly won't bother us as long as we don't trample their flowerbeds. The barbarians may be a problem but Hashem has a few connections within their tribe so they should should be receptive to help. I am mostly concerned about the Knights Templar. Thoughts?"

Thora Goldenbeard spoke up. "Their faith and financial connections make them dangerous to us. While they are no match against our ground forces, they will whittle our ranks down if there is a wizard present. I suggest we increase the number of scouts as we pass the region of land north of Falador. If we catch them by surprise, we can kill them and take their runestones." She was young and beautiful for a dwarf of her age. She looked as spry and youthful as a fifty-year old dwarf despite her century of service to the Church. Her face was smooth and olive colored except for her blonde-colored beard which was braided into two rows. An Epochian myth amoungst the dwarves held the notion that Thora was the Goddess of Wealth and her braids would turn to solid gold if they were ever cut from her chin. While Thora would probably blush if you compared her to a diety, she composed herself like one: knowledgeable, wise and infinitely patient.

"That is a wise decision. I will have it happen. Anything else?"

"Yes," Thora continued, "we need at least another ten thousand troops if we are to breech Varrock."

"I concur, Thurgo." I said as I looked at him. His face did not falter: it was still as grim and resolute as stone.

"No. Five thousand troops are all we shall muster. If they lack the drive to route an army, no matter how large, they were not worthy to wear the crest of the Red Axe to begin with. Furthermore, I will not deprive my city of Industry any more than it will be when we are away and I do not want the entire city awash in tears when the wives learn of their husbands' deaths. Even if we pull the entire population of Keldagrim, what chance do we have against Zaros? I much rather lead a few to a glorious death than everyone to a slaughter." The others at the table nodded their heads and accepted Thurgo's decision. It was written that a High Meeting shall never have conflict. The instant the Archbishop makes a decision, the debate is over. "I will, however, concede that our forces are missing a proper siege element. How many Machines are off the production lines and ready to operate?"

"Twenty at this time." The dwarf speaking was Rellin Tinspinner, the head of a rather small Company dwelling in the far corner of the eastern half of the upper levels. To the public eye, he fronted a modest business which mass manufactured gears and pipes critical for smelting and water heating. But privately, he had far more finances than the majority of the other Companies combined and he could be considered the founding father of Technology, a fledging skill gaining popularity throughout the dwarven culture. Not even Thurgo knew the secret location of Rellin's factory but it was rumoured to be well off to the east, near the old entrance to the mines underneath Falador. "Five more are due off the lines in the next two days."

"Get all twenty of them ready at the auxiliary gate at Ice Mountain. Tomorrow, at high noon, I want one of them to do a sweep of the northern side of Varrock and do a hit-and-run against the side flank of their army. We need to get a proper estimation of their size, their ranks, their files and demoralize them all at the same time. The rest of the Machines will rendezvous with the army west of the Barbarian village."

A gentle nudge at my side distracted my attention from the conversation. It was then that I remembered about the small fragment of the Scourge I had been carrying around this whole time. Suddenly, a rather far-fetched idea crept into my mind. "Thurgo, what route will this Machine take to reach Varrock?" I asked.

Thurgo ran his fingers through his beard as he contemplated. "Northward past the Saradomin monastery and then straight east along the southern boundary of the old Wilderness?", he asked Rellin.

"I agree Archbishop." he replied. "There are still a substantial number of coal veins to the west of Varrock's Guild camps. The Machines can use the coal there to refuel." Thurgo looked back at me and inquired as to why this was important.

I carefully stood up and loosened my vestments to reveal my leather pouches normally worn around my waist. After loosening two brass buckles, I retrieved the glass vial containing the thumb of the Scourge I have carried around ever since using the Ring of Dueling to escape the ocean voyage. The liquid form of the Scourge began swimming through the water in the vial at a rapid pace and the others leaned forward to look at it a little better. "This is our solution for taking care of the guards inside Varrock. All we have to do is introduce this to the water supply and one foe will be replaced with a much slower and easier to kill foe."

"Are you suggesting that we murder the population of Varrock in order to achieve our goal, Hashem?" Rellin asked with an inquisitive look. I did not hesitate in the least when I nodded my head. He smiled briefly and scribbled a few notes on a piece of parchment. "This is going to affect our overhead Thurgo."

"It's still a better alternative than no business at all." the Archbishop replied. "Besides, the period of time following wars is the best time to bring in new converts to the fold." Thurgo motioned to me to hand him the vial so he could have a closer look at the Scourgling. "This little thing will eradicate all the soldiers and citizens inside the city?"

"Theoretically, it should. From what I know about the Scourge, the first thing it will attempt to do once released is to replicate itself and return to others of its kind. It should attach itself to fish or other water-dwellers and multiply. The current of the river will lead it into the sewer systems of the city and there's plenty of creatures and insects down there for it to feed on. After that, it should sense the activity of humans above ground and attempt to assimilate them."

"And the Scourge's weakness?"

"Fire." I motioned to the air staff which rarely left my side ever since my exodus from Varrock. "I have plenty of blood runes but fire runes would be greatly appreciated." The other Bishops began scribbling on their parchments and one of them let out an exasperated sigh. While their resources were my resources due to our theological affiliation, runes were still quite expensive and quite a hit to their already inflated bank balances. "I do have a few other elemental runes to trade in order to cushion the expense my Brothers and Sisters."

In the end, I was given six slips of paper from the other Bishops which were signed and wax-stamped with their seal. All I would have to do is visit the Bank of Keldagrim on the highest level of the city and I would be given fire runes. In total, I would receive just shy of one hundred fire runes in exchange for the air staff once this brutal mission reached its conclusion. More notes were taken down by the Bishops to fortify the Army with bang-globes: glass orbs filled with high proof grain alcohol. When they were thrown against foes, the glass would shatter and coat every square inch of with potent booze. From there, all it took was a small flame to create a blazing inferno.

"Very well," Thurgo stated, "I think everything has been talked out. Is there anything we are forgetting?"

"Yes Archbishop" said Abomia's voice from behind me. "How are we going to actually free Order from his ice-formed vault? They have tried many methods in the hope that the ice would break or crack and nothing has worked as of yet. Cannons, catapults, Fire Blasts and Wave spells: all for naught. We've planned everything as to reaching our goal but nothing has been discussed on how the goal will be accomplished. And I don't understand how my Father killing me is going to shatter anything."

Thurgo looked at me with a curious look in his eye. "So you did tell her?"

I nodded. "I couldn't live with the guilt anymore. She had to know."

"Well, to answer your question Abomia, the only thing that can remove Saradomin's icy prison is either Zaros or another God or Goddess. The problem is that Zaros is technically superior to both Zamorak and Saradomin. It existed before the two Gods that we are familiar with so Zaros would be able to eliminate Chaos and Order without any effort. Even if both Saradomin and Zamorak were restored to Their former glory, They are no match for Evil."

"We're missing Balance." I whispered out quietly. The Chamber became eerily silent as I looked up and noticed that everyone was looking at me with amazement.

"You know Hashem, that is most likely the answer." Thurgo said with a hint of pride in his voice. "Zaros is a previous incarnation of an aspect of the universe. While it can compete against individual Gods, it may not be able to compete against a reformed Circle of faith. Your hob-ogre seems to represent Saradomin where our little Abomia is representing Chaos."

We all heard a gentle rush of air as if a gust of wind suddenly manifested itself inside the dark Chamber. I looked behind me but Abomia was not to be seen. I looked over my other shoulder and saw Abomia standing next to Thurgo's seat with an expression of frustration. "Why is it that everyone keeps referring to me as Lord Zamorak? I am not worthy enough to be called that; it's blasphemous!" Suddenly, I had an idea.

"Daughter, let me prove to you that you are what we say you are. Get me a glass of wine." Almost immediately, one of the unnamed Bishops poured a fine red wine from a crystal decanter into a small stone cup and slid it across the table towards me. I handed it to Abomia and told her to bless it. Her angry face melted into sincere confusion.

"Bless it? How?"

"Just hold the cup in your hands and say 'I bless this wine'."

After a few seconds of hesitation, she closed her eyes, held the cup up against her forehead and whispered a few words which I could not understand. As she placed the cup back down on the table, I reached into my pouch and produced a small vial of water and a pinch of dried dwarf weed. I quickly mixed the dry herb into the water and watched as the liquid became dark in colour. I then carefully tilted the stone cup over the vial and allowed a trickle of the wine to seep into the vial. I placed my thumb over the hole and gently agitated the contents. Very slowly, the murkiness of the liquid faded away leaving a small amount of water which was light-blue in appearance. Abomia audibly gasped and stepped away from the table in fear.

"Hashem? Is that a potion of Ranging?"

"It certainly appears to be. We will have to test it to be certain but I am positive it is." I stood up from the ground and gently took Abomia's hand in mine. "Abomia, you must believe me when we say that our Lord resides within you. I am not certain how we are going to shatter Saradomin's prison. But I believe the answer lies within yourself and T'Hanz since both of you represent the power of the Gods. Now, we just need to find who or what represents Guthix. Once we learn this, then we'll be able to accomplish our task and save everything from annihilation."

Abomia was silent after my speech until gentle sobs escaped her lips. One by one, the dwarven Bishops rose from their seats and consoled her with words of encouragement and praise. Despite the ominous darkness of the Chamber, I felt blessed with peace and purpose.

All the preparations were complete.

Now it is time to go to war.

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#50 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 09 September 2008 - 09:05 PM

Chapter XVII - Nearly Full Circle

If there is one thing that I had never grown tired of is the ingenuity of dwarven engineers and inventors.

At least thirty years ago, while in the process of infiltrating the HAM cult for information on their practices, I happened upon the Dorge'shuun tribe of goblins underneath Lumbridge Keep. While they were certainly far more intelligent than their above-ground cousins, they were still rather dim. But they were blessed with a great knowledge of construction and stone working. Their city was a masterpiece in design: fully functional, ample residential and crude commercial quarters and an rather ingenious aqueduct system. Most impressive of all was their command over the primal energies of lightning. They discovered that certain metals conducted the power of electricity and they were able to successfully harness such a raw and uncontrollable energy into simple applications like light. Word of the Dorge'shuun's engineering slowly spread through the secret circles of the world and eventually the dwarves of Keldagrim caught wind of this rumour.

Now dwarves aren't the kind of folk who will humbly walk into a room to begin negotiations. They are a prideful race, perhaps even more haughty than humans on their worst day. As stodgy and arrogant others may think of dwarves, they have a flamboyance which rivals the gnomes. When the Clans and Companies visited the Goblin City and took notes of their stone work, they decided that a quick means of transportation was required to connect the two cities. I had the opportunity to ride the original steam-powered transport vehicle. It was terribly loud and quite smoky but it made the six hundred mile journey in half a day (which was quite impressive).

Three decades later, I found myself traveling on the newest design of locomotive. And much to satisfaction of my old sensitive ears, it was remarkably quiet. It was roughly the same shape as the original steam powered train of old but it was powered by a combination of electricity, burning coal and a secret power source that Thurgo only referred to as "magnetics". Sadly for T'Hanz, he was forced to sit cross-legged near the area in front of the doorway leading out. While he was cramped up in what appeared to be an uncomfortable position, he seemed calm and at peace. I had apologized to him profusely for not being able to spend as much time as I wanted to spend with him over the last several days but he accepted my words with a quick smile and a contemplative nod of his head. I don't know if my eyes were playing tricks on me but his red-colored eyes seemed to glisten like an amethyst. I wasn't certain if it was because I hadn't seen sunlight for such a long time or the spirit of Saradomin was exerting more and more control over his form.

Abomia and Thurgo were sitting next to each other. After proving my claims of piety at the High Meeting earlier in the day, she and Thurgo were practically inseparable. She had so many questions of the Faith to ask him and he was only too pleased to set aside his scrolls and parchments and ledgers and books and spend time just talking to her about religion. And as he spoke, I could see the difference between Thurgo, the King of Dwarves and Thurgo, the Archbishop of Zamorak. The King was normally in a foul mood: constantly buffeted by assistants and runners, pressing documents into his hands to review or sign or authorize. He had to surround himself with other leaders, all expressing their opinions on how a certain action should be handled. Power is a curse for those who do not seek it.

But Thurgo as a spiritual leader was an entirely different individual. He radiated strength and confidence much like a King but his demeanor was calm and peaceful. When Abomia whispered into his ear, he looked upward with a thoughtful expression on his face and he regularly nodded his head and ran his fingers through his beard. But just before Abomia finished, he always smiled since he understood her questions and he knew which answer was correct for her frame of mind. When he spoke, his voice was calm and soft like an old teacher who enjoyed speaking to his favorite student if only because the pupil shared the desire to learn more and more. Thurgo the King was surly, aggressive and impatient. Archbishop Thurgo was none of these things and this is the reason I respected him so. Eventually Abomia giggled merrily from one of Thurgo's jokes and she kissed him lovingly on his cheek. As she stood up, I sat down on the other side of the old dwarf.

"Ach, laddie. Aren't you going to give me at least one minute of peace before we arrive?"

"Actually Thurgo, I was curious as to why the engineers didn't install windows into this transport?"

The old dwarf smiled and laughed. "That because the tunnel we dug through the earth is just large enough for the train and the tracks. There's no windows because if there was, you'd just see rock racing by in front of you. Actually we did try installing glass windows but at full speed, the vibrating and rumbling of the transport usually shattered them. I thought you were going to ask when we would be arriving."

"That knowledge would be useful."

At that moment, we all felt an odd shaking sensation as the wheels were running over a series of low-grade dips. "Excellent timing as always Hashem. Sit down please, we're nearly at the point where the driver will begin braking. We should be arriving in five minutes." As Abomia and I took our seats near Thurgo, the dwarf continued to speak. "Abomia, Hashem has a little more experience than you do when it comes to dwarven culture and military. You are to stay with Hashem at all times. It's not that my soldiers hate you, it's because they may say things towards you which may not be entirely polite."

"They're going to whistle at me and attempt to bed me." Abomia said matter-of-factly.

"Yes."

"Thurgo, I've dealt with enough men in my lifetime to know the difference between the wolves and the mongrels. I can handle myself." As she spoke, I could feel the train beginning to slow down dramatically and I could feel the inertia press me backwards into my seat. Even T'Hanz put a large furry hand against the floor to keep him from rolling him over onto his side.

"Good. Because as of now, you need to begin to re-exert yourself as an Assassin of the Church. Your vow of silence must begin anew. This war is not because of land or politics; it is a Godwar and only those who exemplify the Faith the most will see it out to the bitter end." As he spoke, I noticed Abomia resume the expressionlessness of how she was when I met her again underneath Varrock and I felt a tiny amount of regret to see her have to revert back to her training. She simply nodded her head towards Thurgo and he was pleased. "Excellent. T'Hanz?" The hob-ogre looked at Thurgo with a healthy amount of contempt in his eyes and his mouth involuntarily opened to reveal his sharp teeth and a menacing growl. "While I apologized previously to how you were treated in Keldagrim, I ask a favour of you."

"There is no favour that I will willingly grant you or your foul kind." The purplish color to his eyes was gone: all that remained was a brilliant crimson glow which matched the rage trembling throughout his body.

"Regardless, I ask that you bring up the rear of the army. You shall be the whip. I ask you to kill any dwarf which falls behind you or decides that fighting this war is not in their best interest. Cowardice or retreat is not an option." T'Hanz growled loudly at Thurgo's request and eventually he nodded his head with an evil smile.

"I swore peace until the end of this conflict. I will accept your request." And with that T'Hanz fell silent once again.

"I thank you T'Hanz." Thurgo finally turned to me. "As for you, you will be given command of two squadrons of soldiers. They have been briefed and they understand that any sign of disrespect given towards you or your wisdom will be dealt with harshly." I nodded my head as the train finally squealed to a halt. As we stopped, we all heard a thunderous sound coming from outside which sounded like a great weight of metal slamming home against a flat stone surface and then complete silence. Thurgo rose from his seat, unlatched the door and swung it wide open. I was the last to leave the train as I stayed behind to help T'Hanz contort himself from his sitting position through the narrow gap. As we exited, I found myself at the top of a tall stone platform with a torch-lit stairway leading down. Just outside the train were four dwarves, all armoured and silent holding T'Hanz's oak maul. After the hob-ogre stood up and stretched his stiff muscles, he took his weapon with a snarl and looked downward.

At the bottom of the stairwell was a huge cavern nearly a mile long and several thousands of feet wide. It was filled from wall to wall with the entire army of Keldagrim standing at attention with their backpack and weapon on the ground in front of them. Each of them were dressed in dark plate mail with red paint adorning their armor forming the designs of various Clans, Companies, religious affiliations or runes symbolizing personal mottoes. Their helmets were carried in their right hand and all of the soldiers wore grim expressions on their faces. Most of them bore scars or burns on their faces, each of them telling an individual story of their harsh training under the Red Axe Company. Not a single soldier moved a muscle and each of them looked directly at their leader who was halfway down the stairway with Abomia silently walking a few paces behind him. As T'Hanz and I walked down the stairs, the soldiers wordlessly parted in perfect unison and turned towards the center of the cavern, allowing Thurgo a clear path all the way to the other side of the cavern.

I would be lying if I wasn't intimidated by the expression of each of the soldiers. I could tell just from their eyes that each one of them was resolute in killing as many enemies as possible before they were granted an honourable death in battle. I sensed no fear of death from them I could not see any flaws in their armor nor in the quality of the weapons which were now at their sides. As we walked, Thurgo eventually came to a stop and called out two names. Two armored dwarves stepped forward and saluted their leader.

"Hashem, these two fine soldiers are named Zirkon and Dammeus." As Thurgo spoke their names, they turned to face me and they saluted me simultaneously. "They lead the battalions that you now lead. Their purpose is to protect you to their deaths." And as Thurgo said that final word, the one hundred dwarves under their command shouted out a guttural noise which echoed throughout the cavern. "They will ensure your survival. Just be certain to give them the opportunity to show you their prowess in combat. They all desire to spill much blood and I don't think they'll be able to forgive you if you deprive them of that honour."

I looked at the two leaders with a critical eye and saw from their stances and their powerful frames that they were more than competent warriors. "General Thurgo, I would rather die by their hands than to keep them away from battle." And without a word, Thurgo turned and continued his march to the front of the army. As he walked away, I slapped Thurgo on his arm and pointed backwards to the back of the army. He thumped his maul in his free hand with a smile and walked to the back with long strides. Eventually Thurgo, now a tiny dot in the distance reached the front and he shouted out an order. The part in the army closed up as the soldiers stepped back into position and the soldiers picked up their gear and their weapons in well-rehearsed motions. After a minute, every dwarf was facing away from the train, ready to march. Thurgo shouted out another order and there was suddenly a great groan coming from the wall ahead of him. With a blinding flash of light, a vertical line of sunlight appeared in the wall in front of us as the door in the mountainside creaked open. The light grew stronger and stronger as the chill of snow and coldness began pouring into the cavern with a frightening speed. Eventually the door opened entirely and Thurgo shouted out the command to march. Five thousand knees bended and stepped forward with a deafening noise and we began the march towards Varrock.

---

While the trek down the face of the snow-covered mountain was straining, the songs the dwarven soldiers were singing focused my attention away from the frigid weather and the dull pains coursing through my joints. My glory amulet may provide me with just enough strength to lift up a full oaken barrel of rum or break a thin blade of iron or steel. However it doesn't provide me immunity from the elements. I was dressed in the same Zamorak vestments presented to me by Thurgo prior to the secret meeting. While the weaving of mithril threads was inlined with both yak hides and bear fur, it did little to prevent the icy chill of wind against my face or hands. Within minutes, I could barely feel my fingers and I walked hunched over with my hands tucked underneath my armpits. I looked down and forward and saw that the front line of soldiers had not yet reached the ground. The sky was remarkably clear this late afternoon and from this height I could clearly see the white castle of Falador off to my right and the cruel iron finger of the castle of Varrock on the horizon before me. There was smoke in the air far ahead of us. I prayed at that moment that it wasn't an ill omen.

I sang along with the soldiers as best as I could. I was not familiar with the majority of the songs they were singing as they were relatively young dwarves and I had not associated with their culture after they retreated back to Keldagrim about thirty years ago. I listened to their words in a vain attempt to stave off the bitter cold and kept my pace as we all steadily declined down the mountain side. While I was uncomfortable, I couldn't make any audible complaints as the soldiers ahead of us were doing an astounding job in trampling the snow down to a flat and densely packed surface. My boots (generously crafted by Rellin prior to our departure from the city) had spikes strapped to the soles and they ensured that my balance would only be compromised if I decided to intentionally fall to the ground. They dug deep into the snow and I did not feel as if I would slip to the ground.

Two hours later, my limbs cried in satisfaction as my section of the army finally reached the ground. A few dwarves stood near me in case I fell but I waved them off with a curt nod and a broad smile. I looked backwards and saw perhaps a thousand more dwarves begrudgingly making their way down to terra firma. Many other squadrons of dwarves were already sitting down on the ground and unstrapping their spikes from their footwear. I called out an order to my group to rest and one hundred dwarves immediately thumped to the ground and began talking about the looting of the Varrock treasury. I leaned against a tall boulder and attempted to unbuckle the spikes with my numb fingers.

After a few frustrated attempts, I saw a pair of tiny hands enter my field of vision and with two quick tugs, Abomia loosened the spikes and they dropped to the ground with a thump. She was silent but she still smiled at me and winked. I could already hear her words in my mind: 'You forgot to bring your gloves again Father?' After so many years smelting and smithing, I've felt uncomfortable wearing gloves. They usually made my hands feel too warm and I relied so much on my sensation of touch over the years.

"Thank you Abomia" I said. I was going to ask her how her descent was but remembered that she wouldn't reply to me. I looked up and noticed T'Hanz trudging down the mountain, the last person of the army to reach the ground. While dressed in sparse patches of leather armor and furs, he seemed completely unconcerned or unaware of the cold. His eyes were narrow and he watched the dwarves carefully as he gripped his wooden maul tightly. He breathed heavily once he reached the level ground and walked over to us.

"Are you alright T'Hanz?" I asked.

He took a few minutes before he answered. While he struggled hard to conceal himself from all the dwarves that surrounded us, I could tell that he was not comfortable. "I am now. It would seem that I am not terribly fond of heights." I looked into his eyes and I could see an expression of uncertainty and fear in his face. I tried hard not to smile from learning this as I thought it odd that a being so resistant to harm would be frightened of anything more than a nightmare.

"Well, except for a small section of roadway about forty miles ahead of us past Falador, you'll have nothing else to worry about. When we reach that stretch, just walk towards the left and look away from the edge and you'll be fine. Would you like me to walk with you?" T'Hanz silently nodded his head and I began to make arrangements for someone else to handle my command. It was then that we heard shouts coming from the front lines and suddenly trumpet blasts began to blare out from around us. All around me I saw dwarves suddenly stand up as they unsheathed their warhammers or pulled their kite shields up over their guard arms. Abomia and I sprinted as quickly as we could through the masses of dwarves towards the source of the commotion. Within two minutes, we arrived at the head of the line and found a tight circle of dwarves surrounding a single man whose body was covered with blood. The white hair of the man blew wildly in the cold breeze and his teeth seemed oddly canine.

"I", the white haired man said, "will say once again, I must speak to the Reagent!" The hands of the man was still dripping with blood and his fingernails curved out of his fingers into sharp tips. I followed the droplets of blood towards the ground and saw the remains of three soldiers torn to shreds. All around us, I heard the baying of wolves and the glow of eyes coming from the surrounding evergreens. Wolves began to stream forth from the slowly recovering forest and each of them snarled fiercely with saliva dripping from their toothy jaws. It was then that the man began to shift in shape before my eyes. His flesh began to expand outwards as if his bones and muscles were shifting around inside his body. Patches of white fur began to grow over his entire body and his face stretched outwards with a growl that mimicked that coming from the wolves. Within a few seconds, a twelve foot monster stood before us. I remembered seeing monsters like them before, long ago in a dismal land. As I struggled to remember it, my attention was immediately focused on another wolf which was about twenty feet away from Abomia and I. It was a pure black wolf much larger than any wolf, dire or not, had the right to be. It was still in a wolf-form but its shoulders stood equal to mine. I would venture that it weighed at least a ton and its claws was strong enough to slash down a tree. While it was growling, it seemed like its attention was focused on me.

About twenty feet behind me, I heard the familiar voice of Thurgo calling out. "We do not have time to speak! The fate of existence lies upon our shoulders to arrive in Varrock with great haste. Either remove yourself from our path and call off your curs or this army will slaughter your pack right here and right now!"

For once, I found myself incapable of taking any action. I was staring at the wolf-man form of the white furred creature before me and I saw his wounds closing up in front of my eyes. I felt something brush against the side of my robe and I noticed Abomia reaching into my Herblore pouch. I immediately read her mind and I carefully withdrew a tiny black vial from the leather satchel and handed it to her. She uncorked the vial and unceremoniously dumped the liquid over one side of one of her dragon daggers. She nodded towards me in thanks and suddenly vanished from sight! The soldiers around her felt a sudden gust of wind as she ran as quickly as she could towards the beast. Half a second later, she reappeared next to me and a howl of agony came from the white furred beast. There was ten new wounds on the body of the wolf and it struggled to stay standing before collapsing to the ground. Amazingly enough, it was not dead. In fact, we all watched the stab wounds close up as once before but the poison on the blade was serving its purpose.

"Fools... Only... the metal... of the moon... can harm... us." The monster was struggling to regain his previous stance but his legs were convulsing with toxins and they lacked the strength to support the weight of its frame. The other wolves began to growl even louder and a few of them shifted into the same hybrid form as the first one. "You monsters..." it continued. "You are more apt... to destroy... than listen to wisdom... which will save... us all." It pointed straight at me. "You enslave... our elders... and force him... to abandon his tribe."

All at once, I realized that these monsters were werewolves and without thinking twice I lifted my left hand over my head. The Ring of Charos glimmered against the sunlight and every wolf around us instantly stared at it as if were a priceless gem. "No my brothers and sisters, stand down and let us all talk! There has been enough bloodshed between us. Let's save it for our true foes!" With that, the wolves and half-wolves surrounding us shifted into human forms and Thurgo strangely ordered his soldiers to stand down. After a few minutes, the army of Keldagrim stood in formation towards the west and a small group of humans, gypsy in appearance, stood to the east. I was in between the two parties kneeling to the side of the white-haired man. While he was in obvious pain, he was still alive despite having enough poison in his body to kill one hundred men. His breathing was labored but after a few doses of anti-poison and some irit compresses, he appeared to regain his strength once again.

"Grandfather, why are you aligned with dwarves; Zamorak aligned dwarves for that matter?" the man asked me. I closed my eyes for a few minutes as I breathed in the cool air and focused my mind into a plausible lie. I knew this fib wasn't going to involve wooden cats, I had to craft a believable story to fool them.

"I am not a Grandfather nor am I a part of your tribe." I was tempted to clap both of my hands over my mouth but the truth already escaped my lips. "I am a simple human who has never worshipped Guthix for a single day in my life despite my knowledge of herbs and potions. I am a follower of Zamorak and I was entrusted to restore the balance that Zaros destroyed. Let me ask you something."

"What is that, false wolf?" Already the man was able to stand back up. He was still wobbily on his feet yet he was able to stand. I looked a little to my left and saw the front row of dwarven soldiers fidgeting. Their armored gauntlets gripped and ungripped their warhammers and I could tell that they were ready to bolt forward and most likely die. To my right, I saw the odd collection of raggity dressed humans standing calmly. Their hands were still elongated and each finger was tipped with a three inch claw.

"Are you one of the Silver Shades?"

"Yes. We all are. In fact, we are all the first." I looked at the gypsies once again and I saw faint glimmers of silver light glowing from underneath folds of clothing or from underneath long strands of hair. "You were trying to use the ring of the Lie-Weaver to goad us to your will."

"Yes I was. Will you forgive me?"

"I would say no but the ring will compel us to accept your apology if you force it upon us."

"Are you familiar with the situation we are in?"

"You mean how Order will die unless released from His captivity and the complete nullification of existence if He perishes? Completely."

I turned around and walked over to Thurgo. "Sixty miles to the front gate of Varrock. Four days. We can make it there in two days if we triple-time it."

"What are you suggesting?" Thurgo replied.

"That we stop here and talk to them. If anything, they could be persuaded to join us in battle against Varrock. Their ability to ensure injury should destroy morale."

Thurgo didn't waste time shouting out his order to camp up. "And don't chop down a single tree." he yelled out. "Twigs and branches for the fires. We don't want to piss off the druids any more than they probably are right now." Thurgo turned around and pointed a finger at me. "You. Me. We'll talk later." With that, Thurgo turned on his heel and walked into a sea of armored dwarves. I've seen him angry many times before but I wasn't worried about it. Thurgo was always the type of dwarf, much like most humans and elves I've met before, who felt most comfortable in a position of authority. He tends to get offended whenever someone else is serving a greater purpose.

"Foul tempered little dwarf." I turned and the white haired man was standing to the right of me looking at Thurgo waddle off. "Is he normally this way?"

"Yes, but he does care in his own unique way. What is your name?"

"Silas Scar-fang, the White Wolf. You are Hashem?"

"Yes but how did you know that?"

Silas pulled a silver blade from his sheath hanging from the side of his hip. It glowed much like the moon and the other gypsies kept a cautious distance from the blade. "You told me your name when I carved your crown into your palm."

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#51 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 10 September 2008 - 09:12 PM

Chapter XVIII - The Omega is Born

"I knew I was being followed!" I exclaimed. It was completely dark except for the glow of the many campfires littered over the countryside. The night-time sky was as cloudless as the day and hundreds of stars twinkled with life against the black canopy of darkness. Our campfire was surrounded by myself, Abomia, T'Hanz, Thurgo, Silas and two other companions of his. We had to speak loudly as the soldiers in the army were being a little rowdier than I would expect. There were the clash of warhammers slamming against each other and wooden flagons embossed with brass filled with stout toasting each other. Thurgo made no motion to silence or quell his troops and I didn't think it would be wise to question Thurgo's leadership. He and I spoke briefly earlier near sunset about taking initiative without consulting him first. I apologized to him and all was right between us again. I think he was most angry about being influenced by the lingering magic in the Ring of Charos.

Neither he or I thought he was a particularly weak-willed dwarf.

"And Abomia," said one of Silas' companions. "You were a most difficult deer to track but your best efforts to disguise yourself meant nothing when your scent betrayed your location." The female gypsy speaking to Abomia was known by the name of Laila. She had raven-black hair which cascaded over her bare shoulders and she wore an assortment of beads and trinkets around her neck which glimmered against the flickers of the flames. As I looked into her eyes, I wondered if she was indeed more bird than wolf. However, my gaze was returned by a longing look at my ring and I quickly tucked my hand underneath the folds of my robe. Laila paused for a few seconds as she shook off the entrancing effect of the ring and continued. "We and our tribe were the ones responsible in performing the Rite of Marking on the individuals the Creators wanted marked."

"Do you recall the marking of a sailor by the name of Tobias?" I asked. The other gypsy companion laughed with a mighty roar and spoke up upon nearing that name.

"He was the easiest track of that particular evening. All I had to do was spend forty blood runes on ten pints of ale. He had an... attraction... towards me which I wasn't fond of. But I used that opportunity to fill his gut with beer and he promptly passed out. I carried him a short distance out of Port Sarim and carved the crown on the spot I thought best exemplified his personality." Abomia and T'Hanz listened with interest and I smiled as I realized his humour. Ragabash, I recalled the name of the new moon. It was a symbol and phase associated with the Trickster.

"His ass." I whispered to my companions. T'Hanz actually laughed out loud upon hearing that and I don't think I have ever heard his sincerely laugh before. I turned back towards Silas. "Tobias didn't turn out to be a proper Silver Shade. He had broken the code several times. By his own admission, I had the right to silence him."

"Not all who are chosen to bear the sign of the Silver Crown are worthy of the honor." His own scar, positioned at the base of his skull and covered with a healthy mane of hair, glowed fiercely as he spoke. "There are many who at first prosper and then falter under the weight of responsibility. Those who lose the worth of the position are visited by us a second time and that visit is not very pleasant. Thank you for saving us a trip."

"Silas, will you join us?" Thurgo said. "While your faith preaches balance and neutrality, even you must understand that a side must be taken for this upcoming conflict. Evil is strong whereas Order and Chaos are weak."

Silas Scar-Fang looked at this two companions and they began to communicate back and forth in a gutteral language and a series of complex hand motions. For several minutes, they grunted back and forth and there were several times where the man who carved Tobias' crown stood over Silas in a threatening manner growling quite aggressively. But Silas snarled back at him aggressively and his companion finally he sat back down. "My beta believes it is unwise to take a side in the conflict. It goes against the fundamental teachings of our Lord. However, I disagree with him. There are times in which non-interference is counter-productive to true Neutrality. The weight of Zaros is threatening to destroy the scale which we hold most sacred. We will join you but there is a boon Hashem perform for us."

"What is that?" I asked.

"The ring. You must give it to us so we can no longer be enslaved by the will of its wearer. It is an evil artifact and it has caused much distension to our kind. Please give it to us and we will gladly join your army for the final conflict."

I thought over his words carefully and I looked down at the ring. It was a rather ugly ring, scratched up and battered but it had an odd appearance to it which appealed to me and I found myself unwilling to find a ring which would look better. I then thought about all the lies I crafted using the power of the ring and I felt remorse. "Yes. I will give you the ring. However, you must tell me why I was chosen to be a Silver Shade."

"We can not." Silas replied. "We know the reason but the Golden Ones, the Creators themselves, commanded silence regarding your Rite. No force will loosen the secret from our lips, not even the Ring itself." I looked fiercely in Silas' eyes and found sorrow in return. I could tell that he wanted to reveal his secrets to me but the oath he swore was much stronger than the metal loop of a Morytanian traitor.

"I will hand you the ring after the events in Varrock are completed. If I fall in battle, you may take the ring from my corpse. I swear this upon the Silver Crown." I stood as I said those words and Silas stood in return to shake my hand. Our army was now forty people stronger which far more than replaced the three foolish dwarves who attempted to kill Silas before being ordered. I felt more confident knowing that they were with us. Suddenly the blare of trumpets once again filled the air. Five sentry dwarves came running towards us and quickly saluted.

"LordSmith Thurgo, ships are heading towards the shoreline to the south. We count ten ships."

"Were you able to make out the markings?"

"No sire. It is too dark and they are too far away to make out details." Abomia stood up and peered intently towards the coastline. Even with it being dark and the shore being a mile away, she stared hard to the south with eyes augmented with the amulet of fury.

"The closest ship makes very little sound against the water. The water flows around the hull as if the wood desires to not get wet. The rippling of the wind against the sails is like air against a leaf." She paused for another minute, staring intently and without sound. We were all silent as Abomia spoke her words and the three werewolves looked at Abomia with impressed expressions. "They're elves." I breathed a sigh of relief. Ten ships of elven archers and warriors would help our cause dramatically. "Don't be relieved just yet Father. The other ships are crude and I can make out faint tortured moaning. The rest are Scourge ships." I looked at Thurgo with an expression of dismay. "Forgive my trespass Archbishop, I have disrespected my position within the Church."

Thurgo stood from the campfire and placed his hand on the handle of his runite mace. "Your apology is accepted my dear. You will resume your vigil of silence in battle. As of now, your insight is appreciated." As Thurgo rose to his feet, his majors quickly stood behind him ready to hear his commands and relay it to the currently unaware army. He turned his head and whispered into the ear of the closest soldier. He nodded and quietly walked away from our campfire and into the depths of the camping soldiers. "He's going to get fifty soldiers armed with bang-globes. We're not going to cause a commotion unless it's needed." With that, Thurgo began walking to the shore to the south and we followed him.

---

The entity previously known as Barnabas stopped suddenly as he stiffly made his way through the mostly vacant castle of the Knights Templar. He was in the process of returning from the living quarters of the Templars and he was followed with a score of recently killed and infected knights. As they made their way through the winding hallways of the Keep, it slowly turned his head to the west, towards Taverly and sensed others of the Scourge. Suddenly, it jerked its head towards the north as if it felt the tiniest portion of itself travelling at a rapid speed. It felt odd to it since the missing piece of the whole seemed to come from underground. It wondered as best as an undead being could as to how a creature associated with water would be so deep within the earth.  

It continued its slow walk towards the front gate of the castle and it was joined by others possessed by the Scourge. There were at least fifty of them in number, each of them possessing a sickly yellow color to their flesh, and all of them were wearing robes of the purest white. The entity walked up to the others and they all simultaneously slit their throats with their knives. Body after body fell lifeless to the flagstones of the courtyard and gelatinous yellow slugs began to pour out of the corpses. The former Barnabas stood their silent and unmoving as hundreds of slugs began to crawl toward it. After a few minutes, the final slug slithered between the gaps of its plate mail armor and melded against and into the flesh of the zombie. Suddenly, there was a sharp snapping sound as the armor cracked into pieces and clattered against the ground. The zombie's body seemed to flow with motion as it completed its evolution into its intended form.

Barnabas looked upwards with eyes which regained a measure of keenness. He extended his arm outward towards the wooden lever which kept the counter-weight to the portcullis in position. Suddenly a tentacle erupted from his finger and it whipped through the air with a spray of slime. The tendril whipped tightly around the lever, causing it to crack and splinter, and the lever was pulled with considerable force. The sound of metal against metal filled the courtyard and the gate raised up.

If the entity was Barnabas, he would have liked this particular evening. The weather was chilly but there was only a light breeze to accompany the lack of clouds in the sky. The constellations were bright against the black sky and he would have spent several hours observing the heavens. But Barnabas was no longer.

Only the new Father of the Scourge remained.

---

There was another individual walking through castle hallways at this time and he was making certain to move as quickly but as quietly as possible. He stuck to the shadows and waited patiently as he watched guards pass by him; concealing his position behind the suits of iron armor which decorated the hallway. He knew the times in which the guards would make their patrols and he moved quickly and surely to his destination. He finally stood outside a tall wooden double door engraved with an etching of a muscular bearded god with His hands extended downwards towards a large mass of bowing individuals. The symbol of a four-sided star was engraved on both of the knockers. With a well-rehearsed motion, he picked the simple lock and opened it. He smiled upon seeing the image of Saradomin split in two as the door opened, a grisly vision which his Lord would love to see happen.

He stepped into the dark room and closed the door quickly, barely making a sound. The room he was in was far too large for a bedroom and it was filled with so much space that really served no purpose except to bolster an otherwise inflated ego. The light sound of snores came from the northern side of the room but the individual was more interested in admiring the many paintings hanging from the walls. The next patrol would leave in ten minutes so he had a short period of time to sate his curiosity. He walked casually around the room, peering at statuettes (the vast majority of them being icons or figurines of Saradomin) and admiring paintings (typical landscape pieces with the sun replaced with the symbol of Order) when he came upon a marble pedestal with a red bladed dagger on it. He picked up the weapon with a practiced grip and noticed the faint greenish tinge to the edge of the blade. He smiled in satisfaction and walked over to the bed.

She was deeply asleep and he looked at her for a few seconds before lightly running the edge of the blade against her scalp. Her eyes instantly opened and his hand flew over her mouth before she had the chance to scream. He knew that she knew who he was but that was fine. With true interest, he looked into her eyes which was starting to turn blood red as her blood vessels began to rupture internally. She spasmed briefly, staring at her killer with equal amounts of fear and contempt and finally expired. He unceremoniously wiped his hand against his black leather chaps and carefully cleaned up the vomit and blood from the corners of her mouth. When he finished, it looked like the old woman died peacefully in her sleep. He especially admired how he was able to push her rigid facial muscles into a slight smile.

He looked over the dagger one final time and replaced it back in its original position on the pedestal. He stood by the door, waited for the steps of the guards to diminish once again and quickly left the room. He would be back in his quarters in five minutes and within thirty minutes, he would be asleep. The only thing he was thinking about now is wording of the speech he would give tomorrow announcing the death of Queen Ellamaria of Varrock.

---

The Dorge'shuun goblins of Lumbridge finally reached the northern region of their new territory and just to the north was the plains to the south of the Iron City. It took much longer for them to arrive because goblins, even a tribe which was considered more intelligent than others of their race, were prone to argue and fight among themselves. There were many times where the march was halted and a great number of their kind were slaughtered because of minor offenses. The leaders of the goblin army weren't reknown for their ability to actually lead. They were the larger ones who were able to hold their own against their smaller brethren and the ones who actually enjoyed the sensation of violence. But eventually they reached their target and they gazed at the southern wall of the city with an equal mixture of wonder, contempt and hatred.

Zaros effortlessly whispered a command into the ears of the goblin leaders and with a monstrous shriek that could be heard from miles, ten thousand goblins began running towards the gate of the city. Many miles away to the east in the northern section of the Kharidian Desert, Zaros communicated with the general of his main army and word was quickly spread to prepare. Let the pawns soften the defences of the heathens; the holy warriors will purify the sinners and deliver their bodies for their Lord's Feast.

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#52 Hemlock

Hemlock

    there's a hundred ways to cover your redneck past.

Posted 23 April 2009 - 06:13 PM

Chapter XIX - Rebirth Part I

"Where was I again?"

I wasn't certain if I had paused a few seconds ago or if several decades had dissolved into Entropy. I suddenly felt disorientated as I felt information seep throughout my essence and then I knew exactly what I needed to know. My audience were still present and none of them indicated any displeasure for my unnaturally long period of silence.

"Pertaining to your present location, you are currently within the Nexus. Pertaining to your tale, you were recounting the events directly prior to your ascension."

"Be at ease my friend. We are patient. We are aware that your sphere of influence isn't one that involves 'clarity'. Focus, recall and recant."

Their words were still strangely foreign to me. Yet I understood and I continued...

---

Without any warning, Abomia stopped and pressed her fingers into her temples in considerable pain, Absent-mindedly, Thurgo held a single fist into the air, signalling to his troops to come to a complete halt, and walked around to face her. Behind him, I could see the first wave of Scourge shuffling and lurching up from the sea and the batallion of elvish soldiers drew their bows in perfect unison. It was simple to make out the details in the darkness since the strings of their bows glowed with a pale golden colour. I looked back towards Abomia as she reached into her worn crimson robe and produced a small slender fingerbone. She looked at me with a pleading expression and pointed at her lips with her other hand.

With a stern sigh, I touched Abomia on her shoulder. "Whisper it in my ear." Immediately, she pulled me downward a few inches and cupped her hands around my left ear and told me about the situation in Varrock. All the while, I looked at Thurgo staring fiercely at me, growing redder with anger with every second. A few troops around him took a step or two away from him, as silently as possible as to not attract his attention. Finally, Abomia finished what she had to say and snapped the finger bone in twain. It instantly dissolved into dust and vanished thanks to a timely gust of salt-tinged wind.

"What do you think we're all marching to Assassin?", Thurgo screamed in fury. "We're marching towards the resurrection of our God and vengeance against those who oppose the Faith! Your vow of silence is an act of piety to purify our deeds and actions! You are to only speak with Zamorak, not anyone or anything else!"  As Thurgo continued his tirade, I glanced back down towards the seashore and noticed one of the zombies staring at us and extending his arms towards us. Before it could take a single step, its face was instantly impaled by fifteen eagle-feathered arrows shot by the elves. But it was now too late. The element of potential surprise was now gone and I started to feel oddly angry at that precise moment. I turned back towards Thurgo and ignored his words. My eyes focused on a long thread of saliva hanging from his beard. He then noticed me and paused.

Even he could sense my rage. While his face maintained an angry expression, I could see his eyes begin to widen and I could feel his large heart pound a little faster.

I turned towards my Daughter and saw her head bowed. I could see her lips and her chin from under her hood and I could tell that she was distancing herself much like she was prior to our meeting in Varrock and our voyages across our known world. In the moonlight, her skin reminded me of porcelain and my mind thought of a doll. A doll, how appropriate since it can be moved and interacted with but it is ultimately just a tool to be used my others. My thoughts swam with Thurgo's low-pitched growl and I could hear and feel it swimming around within my head. I then decided to damn the consequences.

My left hand lashed out at Thurgo with a flash of silver-coloured light and I spoke in an oddly commanding voice. "Still your venomous tongue Archbishop! Is it not taught that greatest gift a follower of Chaos can give in Chaos when it is most needed and appreciated? If a vow of silence is commanded by the head of His mortal church then I demand as her Father and the Protector of the Host that I be the only one to hear and interpret her words!" All signs of rage seeped out of Thurgo's expression and his eyes became fixated on my ring. Ten long silent seconds passed as I stared at Thurgo. I slowly moved my left hand to the right and to the left and his eyes blankly followed the Ring of Charos.

A gentle voice whispered into my ear from behind me. It was an odd voice; a mixture of both human and canine. "I told you that trinket is powerful. Use it with caution." It was Silas and he was right. I lowered my hand and cupped the ring with my right hand in a calm pose. He maintained his befuddled look for a few more seconds before he blinked and nodded his head with remorse. Without another word, he turned back towards the shore and ordered the soldiers to march once again.

Before I could follow, I felt a little cold hand creep against my fingers. I looked down at Abomia with a smile and she returned my affection with the sight of her loving eyes. I gently squeezed her hand and rubbed my thumb against her fingertips.

---

At that very moment, thirty miles in a slight southeasterly direction, another army of a much smaller scale was camping outside the northern gate of Falador. All the soldiers were human, middle-aged and each skilled in at least four different styles of combat. The order was just recently given to camp for the evening so the majority of the soldiers were still dressed in gleaming white plate mail armour. Wood was being chopped, fires were being lit and animals were being hunted for food.

All, of course, in Saradomin's name.

The Templars rarely convened in public places dressed in the true colours of the organization. But the orders came from the top to intercept a great threat before he reached Varrock. Nearly five hundred troops from many different assignments all throughout the known world converged on this location. Most of them were grateful for the opportunity to eat and talk as there were many stories to be shared this evening and many new brothers and sisters were greeting for the first time.

At once, there was a shrill scream coming from the dark forest pathway to the south. Roughly a thousand eyes swiftly turned in that direction and hundreds of hands reached for their weapons. The air was filled with the high-pitched squeal of metal rubbing against metal as swords were drawn. Crossbow strings were drawn back and notched and exactly two people reached into their pouches to retrieve vastly expensive runestones. It was silent once again for a long cricket-filled minute. It was then that a limping man approached from the south, blood pouring from many gaping wounds all over his body. He looked away from the army back towards the south, back towards the shattered gates of the White City. Suddenly, he froze in position and began to spasm violently. It was a strange motion as his feet began to flail around in awkward positions yet he did not fall to the ground. It was if an unseen puppet master was supporting him from above. At once, his skin began to putrefy and coin-sized boils formed on his skin. He fell onto the ground in a heap and slowly, with a rattling mean, began to shuffle stiffly back to his feet. It looked up into the eyes of a shocked army and began to limp towards them.

But it was not the man's death that shocked the army. It was the fact that behind the newly created minion of the Scourge stood a hulking monster that writhed with tendrils dancing from it's back and chest. It stood over nine feet in height and it was massively, almost disgustingly, muscled. Its skin was covered with a yellow pus-like material which pulsated on its own accord. His arms ended with a clutch of tentacles: each barbed on the surface, constantly shifting like a viper and tipped with a long black spike. And its face consisted solely of an over-sized mouth, filled with glistening teeth, and a single red eye located underneath.

The eye was oddly human-like in appearance and it would be the only recognizable reminder of the Knight Templar formerly down as Barnabas.

He was now the Father.

And he was very, very hungry.

The Father roared loudly, sending scores of birds into the air from the surrounding trees. Those birds unwise enough to fly in the opposite direction of the roar were quickly killed by lightning quick tendrils strikes coming from the Father. The corpses of the bird were already rotted before falling to the earth with wet slaps. The Father looked forward and saw many humans in front of it. It instinctively knew that they were the Knight Templars, an unworthy collection of foes with a long history of cruelty against the Scourge. A two foot long tongue extended from the top of the Father's skull and it crudely licked the scabs which were its lips. With a deafening roar, it charged against the army!

---

And underneath hundreds of feet of rock not more than fifty miles to the northwest, a single dwarf walked down a finely chiseled hallway carrying a simple small metal chest. The hallway was loud with rowdiness and quite a few words that would result in stitched lips if a Silver Shade was around to hear them. The dwarf marched for a few more steps before stopping and he knocked on a door which looked the same as all the others. The door opened and muscular bare-chested dwarf beckoned him inside.

"Your assignment, Thorin, for the morning." The messenger dwarf placed the chest on a plain stone table, saluted and left the room. Thorin looked the chest, looked back to his flagon of ale in his left hand, looked back at the chest, looked back at the flagon and (with an incredible amount of willpower) looked back at the chest. He set the flagon down on the ground and opened the chest. After two seconds of inspection, he closed the chest, quaffed all the ale in a single gulp and walked over to the other side of the room. His comrade was lying on the ground snoring loudly. With a meaty thump, Thorin woke him up by introducing the tip of his steel covered boot to his comrade's ribcage.

"Rrrrgggh???" muttered a blearly voice. His eyes were red irritated, possibly infected.

"The package is here."

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