The Red Earth Rises!
The lick of embers against the night sky dances like fireflies. Around the blaze sits a hodgepodge of guildlings who have started to gain notable Influence around the lands of Tol Eressëa. As their ale starts to empty, the travelers begin to share stories from their recent quests. Stories of dragons & spirits, of heart-felt losses & hard-won victories, of nightmare-inducing fears and heart-pounding joys. Of all the tales they spin around the dying fire, one story seems to linger in their minds, even as the warm glow of the fire dwindles. As all tales, this one is ever-changing. Passing from one guildling to another, taking on new shapes and forms as the days go by; however, one thing stays constant: it always ends with a trail of rust-tinted floor.
A tired and worn-down ranger, beaten and bruised from his journey to find the long-lost crypts of the ancient Majar, leans against a large hill to catch his breath. The mossy patch gives way and the ranger finds himself in a gut-wrenching downward spiral on the forever-forgotten steps. The worn ranger rights himself and produces a torch from his bag. As he does, our ranger notices an airflow against the torch, yet the air around him feels warm, moist, and totally still. The ranger, confused and unable to think straight, turns around. For the briefest of moments, the air is filled with a blood curdling scream - moments later, only silence…. And a patch of blood-stained ground.
Our three wanderers’ lay on the soft & lumpy forest floor, with their eyes open and their breathing halted. Thoughts of doubt wash over them like a tidal wave of fear, leaving behind suspicion and angst as the monstrous wave recedes back to the ocean of the mind. As stories of guildlings sudden & extended disappearances spread from pub to campfire, feelings of fear begin to couple themselves with an inborn desire to earn Influence with Tol Eressëa and claim the riches that come with Hero of the Realm.
Even with a renowned champion in their party - does this group of mismatched guildlings know what it’s getting itself into?”
A twisted & deranged Warlock chants in an unknown tongue. She shakes the very ground as she summons all the powers of her pact to bend the Balrog (so she thinks) to her will. Dedicated to gaining its power, she engulfs all in an inferno of black flames that are said to carry all the power of The Pit itself. Yet, as the immortal flames slowly fade away, only a patch of crusted-red puddle remains.
At first light FiascoTK, Arrow, and Crazyypersonn6613 plan to continue on their journey, yet they forget that tomorrow is promised for no person. In the deep hours of that night, the gentle breeze begins to carry the echo of a far-off laugh and takes on a chill. Just as the final flake of light begins to recede from the evening prior’s fire, a blur charges into camp and effortlessly pins Crazypersonn6613 against a splendid oak. Amidst his blue and swollen face, the words “wh….who… what do you want?” Thraximundar answers only with a twisted smile as he brings up his other hand, revealing the unconscious Arrow gripped by the neck. Licking his teeth, the zombie assassin goes to sever the heads of his prey.
Minutes away from the camp, the renowned champion, FiascoTK, sits atop a fallen tree, legs crossed, eyes closed. While our other two adventurer’s sought respite from their quest, the pious sought guidance from his deity. Whether it be the guidance of said deities, or years of developing his reflexes and skill, FiascoTK springs to life and speeds through the forest - dodging trees and branches with simple swerves.
FiascoTK appears behind Thraximundar with a silence even the assassin cannot sense, and with the mutter of some words, manages to strip away Thraximundar’s connection to his mana. The undead assassin’s smile flips in the other direction as he drops his prey, lands on all four, and turns to see his foe. Time comes to a halt and the world goes quiet as the two stand frozen, eyes locked, Thraximundar lunges at FiascoTK before the moment can pass, seemingly forgetting the two very-much-alive guildlings.
As FiasoTK and Thraximundar go blow-for-blow, FiascoTK quickly finds himself exhausted while his zombie assailant seems to grow stronger, despite his severance from mana. As if the universe mirrored itself from moments before, Thraximundar now stands with his elbow digging into FiascoTK’s throat as Crazypersonn6613 & Arrow manifest from behind, each mustering all strength to unleash a landscape altering attack on the undead menace.
Knowing his time for this kill has passed, the demented Thraximundar begins to retreat, with our three heroes close behind.
This….. This is how we make our names known. This is where we find glory!”
Our three suddenly find themselves at the edge of a cliff watching as Thraximundar thrashes violently around on the ground, digging his ancient claws into his dead and flaking skin, shrieking unintelligibly, gasping as the last of his mana seems to escape him. The three are quick to take advantage of the incapacitated foe as they move in for one final attack. Sensing his demise, Thraximundar quickly comes to and charges at the three. Using the force of a bygone Majar, Thrax quickly pins the three heroes on the ground, mouth drooling, as he hisses at FiascoTK
“what did you do?!… Who are YOOUUUUUUUUUUUU?!!!”
In a faint yet calm voice he replies “I am FiascoTK” as he deftly dislocates his own shoulder to slip through the zombie’s grasp, stands with an outstretched arm and breathes. Piercing light shoots towards the abomination, countless searing blades of pious light. Thraximundar, emboldened by the feeling of death - even his own - smiles. As the last of his form fades away into boiling shadow,
I’ve marked you all now, even death is not an escape from my fury.”
Our heroes rise up, quietly dusting themselves off and tending to their beaten bodies.
“After.. That” *breathes deeply* “all of Tol Eressëa will be lining up to praise us.” said Crazypersonn6613.
“Praise is reserved for the gods, Crazypersonn6613” retorted FiascoTK.
“Oh, lighten up, FiascoTK! Crazy is right, this… this takes us that much closer to winning the riches & secrets of Tol Eressëa. We need to celebrate.” cheered Arrow.
“We’re out of mead, Arrow” *turns around and begins walking West* “And if the stories are to be believed, no Majar - even a dead one - goes down from such a rudimentary attack. It was too easy. Far, far too easy.” warned FiascoTK.
A warm intimate feeling begins to surround the inner spark of our contestants, and a voice more radiant than the suns and as physical as the ground takes shape in the air, giving the impression of a figure standing before you.
"Your time in Tol Eressëa so far has brought me much boredom. I expect more. I demand more. Put forth names and tributes if you ever hope to be Hero of the Realm. My treasures are not for the greedy, but for the pure. They are not for the toxic, but for the kind. They are not for the winners, they are for the ones who have never lost. It is time we make this fun."
The familiar electric feeling encroaching on your spark begins to expand, as if exploding in an array of lights and sounds. As if your very own spark is singing to you. The song materializes and begins to spread throughout Tol Eressëa as it does. With every note, trees turned to mountains, mountains turned to vast lakes, and sweeping valleys materialized where once only charred land existed. The lands of Tol Eressëa begin to sing, and in their song exists death & creation as the island recreates itself.
As the sun rises & the sun sets on this altered Tol Eressëa landscape, the winds begin to carry a certain melody to them. To the unfocused, it likely sounds like a gentle breeze making its way through the thickets & dunes; however, to those that are in tune with Tol Eressëa can hear it singing,
The Keepers have lost their way. Like all, they fall. The powers of the Arcana have smote the pain. The stakes now raise, now give praise and brace - for The Dungeon."
Lover, fighter, dreamer, schemer, gamer.
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