Depheant Makepeace - Tales of a young man

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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:26 pm

*** Start of the search ***

With the exception of the northern part of the country with its little colorful tent villages dotted along the coast, Cuhanna has a desert climate characterized by extreme heat during the day, with abrupt temperature drops at night and powerful winds, often remnants of storms raging not far offshore, lifting up grains of sands and polishing the entire land.
Along the coastal regions of the strait located between Cuhanna and the southwest of Old Varana, the desert temperature is moderated by the proximity of the large bodies of water. The winds blowing through the strait which my father used to call ‘the Hellhole’, make the coastal areas bearable to people like myself.

It’s a miracle how the Cuhannans further inland manage to survive. No vegetables could possible grow in the regions behind the coast and how they keep up their water supplies is a mystery to me. Probably they have a keen and trained eye for any signs of wildlife and thus somehow find the only source that could keep those alive. I once read one could even find water under rocks but never before did I have the chance to check whether that was more than wishful thinking or not.
At least until now.

Tomorrow we would leave this little village behind us and cross a small desert tongue to another settlement. Instead of staying near the coast where we would at least have had the sea breeze blowing from the ocean landward and removing the heat of our skin, milady Rya had opted to save time. I made sure a ride and a guide was arranged, and tomorrow would also be the first time in my life on a camelback. From what I heard these creatures, which were domesticated many hundreds of years ago around here, are able to travel as fast as horses, but with an unseen and legendary endurance, capable of traveling many days through a harsh desert without the need for food or water.

Today it also became clear to me we are on a hunt, pursuing someone with something. I already more or less have an idea of what we are chasing, or at least why it is important for the Nuararians. But I could only guess why someone would hide it or even flee with it. From what I learned so far the object was retrieved a while ago by one of their agents here in Cuhanna, someone who is well-educated in the history of this object and the link with these lands. The artifact was found in an ancient underground tomb not far from a mass burial ground somewhere in middle of the High Desert, probably the hottest place in the world. Again I have so much to learn, like why have a tomb in the middle of a desert, and what caused the death of so many people on that location.

Depheant closed his diary and looked up at the sky. Tonight he would take the first watch again as he had a hard time to catch sleep lately. The first time Rya had asked him about it was a few days before their landing. It appeared he was having nightmares and she wondered if something was troubling him.
He looked over at the sleeping priestess. Nights lately never had been pleasant to him, and after his conversation today with her, he realised he had this problem since the Zach’s death. It was only until he started visiting the Nuararians, and providing he stayed over at the temple, nights slowly turned better. And he had decided to stay as it also resulted in one of the biggest changes in his life. Never ever before would he have expected to believe in a true god. Before he realised he also had become a part of the daily life of the Nuararians, often as a sort of a protector for one of the priests.

However, during this voyage Rya had noticed nightmares were troubling him… once more. It was possible that staying at the temple had a positive influence on his sleep, but since they now been on the road for almost four weeks… well.
But,... the only logical explanation was to attribute these dreams to still unprocessed and unresolved things, probably located in his subconscious and not necessarily related to Zach’s passing. Not that Rya or he himself had been certain of course, but she came with a very acceptable insight.
The priestess told him Zachary had been very important to him, and he as a child had subconsciously become emotionally and intellectually attached to his best friend. He was the one who he always talked to, whether it was about daily stuff, or when he had something on his mind. Whatever it was, he had shared it with Zach and he also realised now that he had been looking for a sort of replacement, totally unaware. Even with the godess herself. He felt comfortable in Her presence at the temple in Cear, but the moment he started this journey he also started to lose … the ‘connection’.
Through a few more conversations, Rya had attempted to identify his problem and what was causing it. Now he knew he shouldn’t cling to anyone anymore... at least not like he had done with Zachary. He also wondered if he already and unknowingly had attempted that with a few,… Amy, Celestia, Selchis, Sonja,…and in a way even with the goddess herself. It immediately dawned on him it were all women, a surprise… or not? He never really had a mother, as she never acted like one. Rya figured what happened between him and his mother during his childhood, may have caused a trauma and left a wound which was difficult to heal.

Depheant slowly rose up to his feet.
Well, no longer was he a child and it was time to get over it and be a man. He had agreed with Rya she would help him during a sort of a dream session and after that also his subconscious would be able to deal with its past.

He rubbed his hair.


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:27 pm

*** Crossing ***

Crossing a blazing hot and what seemed endless sandy beach with no sign of an ocean for miles whilst riding on a camelback was in itself already trouble enough and quite the achievement. What was even more striking was the dryness of the air, making it very hard to breathe and causing a sore throat and burning eyes. But when one had to handle a fight in such circumstances, only goodness knew things could get really complicated and surviving such should probably be classified as a ‘spectacular feat’.

With the dark orange sand dunes as part of the ambush surrounding them, the Vigilo blocked another incoming curved sword flickering in the late afternoon sun. A sheer and resonating sound from two blades hitting each other rose up and ruled the surrounding air as the clang echoed between the slopes of those very dunes concealing whatever scene was going on in between.

Currently Depheant had to split his attention between three black-clad attackers also seated on camels while the priestess faced the one who seemed to be the leader of this little band. At first he thought they were dealing with local brigands of some kind but that opinion changed rather quickly when he experienced how these men fought. Their weapons were razor sharp, their blows meant to kill, and whoever these people were they had not the slightest intend on ‘helping’ them carrying luggage or making their purse lighter. Talking about some dark humor...

The Sentinel dared a glance at the one he had sworn to protect and found himself in an impossible situation. Seeing the way how these attackers handled it, convinced him even more he and Rya were expected by these what seemed more than well prepared bandits. Already he could feel the poison that had been applied on one of the assaulting scimitars seep into his veins through a heavily bleeding cut, and penetrating the flesh of his arm. He realised he soon might have to dump his shield as he no longer would be able to raise it.
Rya was able to hold her own, but not more than that. With one glance he could see she would never be able to gain the upperhand, unless she got a chance to summon all the powers granted by her goddess.

Then he realised there was another way as he too had some magic at his disposal. At first when he discovered, he had wondered if gods existed after all and granted him these powers. But then again there was nothing divine about his magic as Phelan once explained. Most likely he inherited it through the blood of his father who in turn received the talent or gift or whatever it was from one of his parents or ancestors further up the family tree. Well, too late to find out as his father had died during the plague, and with it all the family secrets on that side.

If he wanted to make his move, he had to be absolutely certain he would be able to summon his magic. After quickly parrying another attack Depheant returned a series of blows with utmost effort and his hits rained down on his adversaries right before he motioned his camel to leap forward with a sudden speed. The three recovering from the Sentinel’s fierce counterattack turned their camels to give chase to the escaping young man. Although not the swiftest among mounts, these ‘ships of the desert’ could run really fast despite the fact they looked comic with both legs on the same side rising and falling together, producing a swaying and rocking motion.
But for now combat was broken and more than five, six seconds he didn’t need.

As soon as he gained a lead on the masked men, Depheant threw his shield and longsword away and drew the huge falchion hanging on his back. He took a deep breath as if preparing for a dive from a cliff while uncertain about the amount of water underneath it, and then closed his eyes in order to protect them from what was about to come. Suddenly he jumped out of his saddle only to land with a dull thud in the hot sand, and making multiple rollovers in the fine, powdery substance.
This action triggered two things.

The first was a flashback in which he recalled how Zachary, back then unaware of who he was, shot him right out of the saddle, now many months ago.
The other effect was that it also generated a curtain of dust which got mixed with grains of sand already tossed in the air by his camel. Of course that wasn’t enough and as soon as he ended his final rollover, Depheant let out a small tune, creating a cloud between him and his pursuers which deteriorated the visibility dramatically. It was a rather weak spell but even without its damaging effects the created volume of gas mixed with the particles already in the atmosphere would totally blind them… and him.
A second tune improved his already consirable hearing and with the large blade ready the Vigilo crouched in order to stay low for any incoming arrows or metal.

He realised he took a huge risk here. But then again, he was way better off continuing this fight on foot instead of making those inelegant attemps of defending himself on a wobbling camelback. Gambling never had been one of his feats, and never ever before during a card game had he held all the aces. But right now he would bet his bottom coin those men were trained assassins excelling in fights like these.
So it was time to change the rules.

As dry air escaped his painful cracked lips, he started to count. It couldn’t possibly take more than three counts now. He narrowed his eyes as he peered in the bowl of dust and gas, yet he understood he would have to rely on his hearing rather than on his sight.
One… two...

And then suddenly everything happened fast. The moment he sensed the ground trembling under his feet, and he heard the sound of camel hooves nearby racing through the sand, Depheant gripped the handle of his blade tight with both hands and lashed out in a circular move, spinning around a horizontal axis. Gusts of wind, followed by a tearing feeling in his shoulder and a shock going through both his wrists told him his blade struck twice on it’s cutting path, slicing off or at least wounding camels’ legs. Warm blood splattered in his face as he overheard how the animals cried out in pain.
Five… six...

One count later he heard how with a nauseating crack two assassins got crushed by their stumbling fifteen hundred pound mounts. Seemed they didn’t even had the chance to scream their death cries. Satisfied by the result Depheant peered over his shoulder. Two down, now where was the number three?
Ten… eleven…

He realised the other assassin probably had reined his camel. Crouching once more the young man turned in the shifting sand which yielded a bit too easily as he tried to redistribute his weight. Meanwhile he focused on his hearing. All he could perceive were in a certain distance the muffled blows of a fight, the priestess still crossing her staff with the gang leader’s blade.
The choice he just had made came with one major drawback. Right now he found himself further away from Rya and if he somehow managed to survive this he might not be able to make it back in time if her opponent gained the upperhand… or worse. If Rya fell, it would be over and out for him too as he probably wouldn’t be able to pull something off again like he just did. And even this wasn’t over yet. Where the hell was he?
Fourteen… fifteen...

And out of the cloud walked death in person like a dark reaper with a murder tool ready in each hand. Depheant could feel the cold and calculating eyes of a killer on him, determined to claim his prize. During that first moment of contact, time seemed to move in slow motion. Depheant rose to his feet as soon as he perceived the silhouette of the man,... or woman. The next moment it was as if time accelerated up to twice as fast than normal as the assassin suddenly was near and struck him from the side.
A shadow… was all what the Vigilo could think. And he used the curtain Depheant had created. He had seen shades likes this one at work before, Amora and Shayde being two of them. But he didn’t had the time to dwell for a moment about friends he hadn’t seen in a long while since the assassin’s knife found an entrace in his leg. Hot, intense pain shot through his entire leg. A scream escaped his lips, and crippled as the knife hit a muscle the young man sank to his knee.
Nineteen… twenty…

More flashbacks… was this it… would his life be over? Would he never see the end of this quest and did he fail protecting Rya? Would he never be a knight or even see the ones he called family or friends again?
Go all the way Deph, never hold back. That was Celestia… when she literally kicked his butt, now so long ago. A moment which made him realise he had more to his disposal as long as he had the courage and faith. Faith…
Twenty one… Twenty two…

Instinctively he raised his huge blade to his left as soon as he heard sharp metal cleaving air. A loud resounding noise was his reward when metal blocked metal, the parry preventing his head from being chopped off. He would live another two seconds, but the shock going through his arm also told him the poision was close to paralyze him. The same applied to the wound in his leg.
A loud cry from Rya reached his ear and he could only think one thing.

“NUARARI HELP US ALL !!” he shouted, using his voice also to emmit a heavily distorted tune spreading a harrowing sound that caused more than just sending shivers down the spine.

Two things happened...
It was as if something ‘exploded’ behind the delicate membranes lining his inner eyeballs. A warm feeling or presence seemed to take over his body a moment and he could sense strange yet reassuring energies coursing through his veins, increasing his confidence. And then that feeling which he could only compare with what babies must experience when coddled by their mothers left him as quickly as it came.

Simultanously the assassin had reached for his ears after the Vigilo’s shout, and even though he had been trained for pain, nothing in the world could have prepared him for the power of a bard’s voice piercing his brain.
Unless they had made him deaf before his assignment, but that... would have stifled his abilities.
Twenty eight… twenty nine...

One second later the assassin’s head landed in the sand. The decapitated body sank to its knees before dropping over, whilst the blood like a long red silk scarf thrown in a big arc sprayed on the victor’s face.
And then he lost count…

The Sentinel fell on his back, poision immobilizing leg and arm and reaching out for other parts within his body. He opened his burning eyes and looked up at a cloudless evening desert sky only to notice how the gas had dissolved and the dust was settling. Grains of sand clung to his perspiring face and seemed to stimulate blood clotting at the level of his multiple wounds.
He coughed. Never ever before in his life had his throat felt so dry... but that was the least of his concerns.

Then, Depheant Makepeace closed his eyes, unable to resist the effects of the poison slowly destroying his life...

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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:28 pm

*** When the winds turn ***

The sounds of the fight either were fading, or the scene was moving further away from him until desert wind whispering in his ears was all what was left. ‘Breath of life’ his fellow sailors used to call it as the wind was the invisible force capable of taking them to their destination. Truly a token of prosperity. Not a single member of the crew ever complained about there being wind, rather the opposite. Despite the life he had to live on board of his father’s ship, Depheant had discovered he loved being on deck with the sun on his face and chest and the wind playing through his hair with a comforting touch. To him a powerful therapeutic effect…

And then... the wind died down, leaving an overwhelming silence. A cold foreboding feeling crept over him. He understood each of his senses were shutting down one by one and realised his time had come. As an impression of emptyness and distance grew he knew the moment to leave himself behind was almost there. In front of his mind’s eye mists were formed and he started to feel weightless. Yet it wasn’t completely over. Not yet, as a grey silhouette emerged out of the twirling and ghostly scarves wrapping around his form. He tried to encourage his mind to focus on this appearance as it may prove a support and handhold during his transition to another existence. He sensed how he raised his imaginary arm and stretched it in the direction of the approaching presence.
Then he sensed someone in it… someone familiar.


The woman he once almost married materialized out of the misty shape. She looked just like he remembered her. Yet she radiated sadness...

Hey… Yet he didn't hear his voice.

She shook her ethereal face a bit, You changed, Deph… you promised me you never would, yet you did…

What was this, was this the moment where he was brought before the Cold One? Was he going to be judged now, or was he already given to Peralia? Perhaps that being the reason why ‘Selchis’ appeared here?

Alright then… yes, I changed...

The appearance in front of him turned blurry.

You became a stranger, Deph… yet I told you not to be one...
The mists in front of him slowly transformed into another representation of someone he knew well.


Right, couldn’t he just simply die without feeling blamed? Etoth could just judge over him and be done with it, no? Or was this how He handled his business?

Yes I did, though it never was my intention to become one to you or to any other friend...

The woman in front of him disappeared and the mist turned dark, the effect comparable with a dark cloud moving before the sun.

He sensed someone watching him and he tried to focus with what was left of him on something that was out there… outside this space.

And there it was. A pair of angel eyes right above him, and he could swear he felt a hand on his chest, and another going through his hair.
Once more a feeling of deja vu hit him. He and Celestia, having a day off and taking a swim at the lake not far from Ravenswatch…

Hello? ... his being asked.

Pheobe rode the stallion like the wind to reach the two Naurarians that were to meet with her mentor. They were riding into an ambush, she had to reach them in time. Her steed was fast, but not fast enough and they received word of the trap far far too late. She had her blade at ready when she saw the scene and cursed the hand dealt to her.

Golden eyes quickly scanned the scene. The two Naurarians had battled and taken out those sent, but at a cost. The armored female dismounted, weapon still in hand, alert as she went to the priestess first. The female was unconscious, but breathing steadily and the strong beat of her heart meant she was stable. Pheobe threw her helmet to the side, her midnight braids fluttering in the wind.

A few feet away, the male was collapsed in the sand, his blood making the sand look like a dark shadow around him. She glanced at the unconscious priestess and by the tracks she could tell the priestess had tried to reach the young man, but passed out before she did.

Her fingers unfastened armor quickly, needing to examine his wounds. The pallor and chill of his skin, and dark color of the flesh around the wound on both his arm and his leg told her what poison was used. She quickly fumbled through her pouches for the antidote.

“Drink, knight….drink.” The precious drops ran down his chin and Pheobe cursed, looking up at the sky. She had little choice, he was slipping away. She placed one hand at the back of his neck, tilting his head, as she placed the open vial in her own mouth and held the liquid. Don’t swallow, dont swallow. The finger of her free hand tilted the man’s chin, holding his mouth open. The Moonblade fed him the potion from her own mouth, her fingers massaging his throat to make him swallow the cure.

Traces of the antidote caused her own heart to speed up, her head spinning as she tended to the wounds. She was an able battle medic, but no healer. Luckily she had her own gifts. “Dreamweaver, we cannot lose this one yet. Use me as your hand, my body is your own. Aid your servants this dark day and help me hold back the shadows.” She placed a hand on each wound and felt the healing energy move through her. She murmured softly, “Thank you, Mother, thank you for finding me a worthy vessel.”

The camels were quickly gathered, the priestess awakening after treatment and well enough to ride alone. The young man was gathered up and placed upon her own steed, her arms keeping him steady. “Take us to camp, Cloudrunner and do not tarry.” She guarded her two charges, her head held with a determination. As the moon rose and shone upon them, she looked like a female warrior of lore, her armor gleaming silver under the protection of her goddess.

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After darkness came light, a symbol of truth. His faith in the gods had saved him. They had judged him and now he was probably being send to a beautiful afterlife, so light… so… warm.

And then his being passed out again...

Last edited by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:29 pm; edited 1 time in total


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:29 pm

*** Camp ***

When he finally surfaced enough to realise he was waking up, and his brain seemed able to take control over his organs again, the Vigilo forced his eyelids to open. They eventually did so after some brief protest from his eyes exposed to the light. He blinked a few more times, and although his sight was still somewhat blurry, Deph noticed he was looking upwards at a sky made of a white, coarse textile fiber.

“Not… dead…?” he murmured.

His ears caught a sound of someone getting up left from him, and before he was able to send another command to his neck to turn his head, a dark silhouette was already hovering above him. He felt how a warm hand was placed on his forehead.

“No, you are not. The fever is gone… good.” a familiar female voice sounded softly. “Oh, and before you start blaming yourself for not honoring your duties and responsibilities… you did well Deph… very well.”

“Rya…,” he whispered, speech a little impaired.

“Yes, I’m still alive, thanks to you. And we prayed over you, asking Mother to guide you through this long sleep…”

“... Ho… how long?”

“Two days… nearly three,” another female voice sounded before a second silhouette joined Rya’s.

“Who…” he coughed heavily before he was able to continue.

“Here…,” the unfamiliar young female said while gently placing the nozzle of a drink container against his lips.

A few drops of water were fed to his lips and tongue in order to wet them.

“Now slowly drink a little… careful…”

It was hard to obey that instruction as currently Depheant felt like he had aten the sand of the entire Cuhannan desert.

After a few more coughs, but with a mouth and throat feeling a little less irritated, Deph heard how Rya resumed.

“And you were saved by our Sister here, Deph. Meet Pheobe, one of our local Moonblades.”

His eyes had already been slowly adjusting to excessive levels of light. When he focussed on the second female the first thing that struck him was a pair of golden eyes… a sight that gave him goose bumps. “M.. milady…” the Vigilo stuttered. For a moment his vision turned blurry once more. He also noticed his other senses started to wake up too. His hearing told him they were in a sort of camp as he heard a man shouting instructions, followed by the sound of metal striking metal in a regular rhythm. His nose caught the smell of fresh bread baking as well as the dominating scent of his own transpiration. It was warm if not hot in what appeared to be a gigantic field tent.
He blushed. ” I … I need to wash…” he said sounding embarrassed before he tried to move and sit up. Yet he was still rather groggy.

The golden eyed female watched him as she cleaned armor... his armor. She was clad in a tunic and leggings, something cooler than full armor, in shades of blue and grey. Her midnight hair was free, held back by two small braids. Her complexion was the color of cream, unkissed by the sun. She placed his armor respectfully to the side. Her voice was low, almost hesitant. “You should not rise, allow me….”

It was weird, another female than Selchis taking care of his armour, but he was too damn tired and groggy to dwell about it. He shook off the thoughts about the one he once almost married. Some say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but he was becoming aware that he had in fact changed. He was no longer the man that he once was and he and Selchis had grown apart.
With their help Deph got up to a relative comfortable sitting position and noticed he already wore clean underclothes. He blushed harder.

The girl Pheobe rose and brought a basin of water with greenery of some sort floating in it and a sponge, setting it on the floor next to his pallet. She then drew a curtain that would perserve his modesty.
He caught the scent of mint and spice from the water, though when he dipped his fingers within, it was cool.

She had not attempted to baby him, sparing his pride. In fact, she treated him like a warrior. He heard her voice again as she returned to her work. “This will need some mending.”

Rya rose up to her feet,” I’ll leave you in the hands of Pheobe now, Deph, as I have to attend on a meeting. I will soon send someone over to do take away the last discomforts. After all, you have been close with that poison in your body. By tomorrow you’ll be feeling like a young man again.” The priestess winked and left the tent.

For a moment he listened to the sounds of the camp and then, without thinking Depheant removed his soaking undershirt, revealing a lightly muscled and heavily tanned torso. A round scar tissue of an object that hit him directly under the shoulder blade and a thin vague pink line, probably an old scratch wound from something big, running vertically over his chest were at a display. His back seemed worse, with several stripes as a probable result of multiple floggings, old wounds that hadn’t been treated within a given time. It looked as if someone had tried to rectify these, yet the scars were still there, vague but there. It looked pretty bad and they were almost a smirch on the body of this handsome young man.

“You’ll probably will have this back by tomorrow as well…” a woman’s voice sounded.

Depheant shook up as he totally had forgotten about Pheobe, the sponge clearly to small to hide what was at a display. When he attemped to look around and tried to focus, he noticed a curtain was drawn between him and the voice. The young man relaxed and said,” Oh, hey… and… thank you… milady.” Clearly meaning more than just the current mending of his clothes and armour.

Her voice was young, though husky, almost whiskey stung. “You need not thank me. I only regret that we heard word of the ambush too late to prevent the attack. You must have been trained well. Few survive such attempts.” The praise was given casually, words given warrior to warrior.

The sponge stopped half way his chest at those words and he tilted his head a little. Not used to have been given much praises, the young man shook his head to himself, as if he hadn’t fully woken up yet. He stared pensively in the water of the bassin on his lap before he said,” I’m… Depheant… I mean! You probably already knew that… uh… so… Any idea who those guys were?”

“It is a pleasure to formally meet you, Depheant.” She said his name slowly. “They were hired assassins, expensive ones. You will be given several antidotes to carry and I will teach you to identify the poisons. We likely have not seen the last of them. You will learn the rest at the meeting.” Her voice was calm, very unemotional, yet somehow soothing.

He frowned a bit to himself… his mind getting more clear by the minute. So he had been assuming right all along. Trained assassins… and Rya and he were their targets? But why?? Before he asked that, he recalled she mentioned a meeting. “When is this meeting?” And with his question he totally forgot to correct Pheobe to call him ‘just Deph’.

“The meeting you will attend tomorrow once we are sure you are fully recovered from the poison. Which means...if you wish your curiousity appeased, you will rest today, eat what is given to you and try to relax. For the moment, you and the priestess you guard are safe.”

Trying to keep his curiosity at bay, the Vigilo moved his arm so that he could wash his back, a soft moan escaping his lips. He blushed and immediately suppressed the pain in his bicep. Not wanting to show he may not be ready for tomorrow, Deph asked,” And… uh… what will I be doing in the mean time?” If he could have taken it, he would have slapped himself against the head… what a stupid question was that… “I mean…” the rest of the sentence didn’t seem to make it.

Pheobe tilted her head, listening to the young knight. She realized he was still in pain but she also knew that he would not ask assistance unless in dire need. It was the way of the warrior and one she followed herself. “You will share a meal with me, ask any questions that you may have. Some I may be able to answer. I have a few books if you wish to read, or I can read to you. But I must stress that you must rest for today. We very nearly lost you.”

She was right… of course and he had known it all along. In his condition he wasn’t able to do much else. Resuming washing himself, Deph got plunged in thought and went through the memories of the fight, trying to recall as many details as possible. Just in case they would ask him questions about it tomorrow.
He didn’t know how long he had been in this state and the young woman seemed to let him alone, but suddenly Depheant shook up out of this thoughts when he recalled something important to him. But would he discuss this with this Pheobe… or rather Rya who knew him a bit now?

He rubbed his hair and dried his face with a clean towel.

Pheobe busied herself setting up food on the low table, cushions spread around it for them to sit. There was a platter of fresh fruit, dishes of yogurt sweetened with honey, soft cooked quail’s eggs, and a platter of odd flat bread. There was also some sort of meat and a wedge of creamy yellow cheese. She then began to make a tea, flavored with mint and herbs that would be soothing to his throat.

His vision turned sharper with the minute now, but still the Vigilo hadn’t said anything. He knew he hadn’t won that fight just like that. He had relied on his skills and they had been barely enough to keep those attackers at bay. But during the moment of truth, where it should have been his head rolling through the sand, something happened and he knew it.

“Ready?” he heard Pheobe ask. “There is a robe, folded by your pallet.”

Taken out of his reverie, Depheant decided it was too soon to talk about it. Perhaps later, when his mind turned more clear. Perhaps then he would be able to describe what he had felt. Perhaps then they would be able to give him a clear answer on how he had won that fight.
He took the robe and carefully put it on “Yes… I am…”

The curtain was drawn away…

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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:30 pm

*** Briefing near Maslam ***

In the distance his eye got caught by the vague outlines of a city. Maslam. The city was baking under the hot scorching rays of the afternoon sun.
And this was still at the more lenient side of the country where here and there vegetation had been able to take root. Hot, dry, and rather empty outside those walls. Though he knew local population had adapted to the life under these circumstances, to him if felt more like these desert regions hated him. His skin still felt like it had been scraped by the sand, his tongue cloven to the roof of his mouth and his brains felt like they were melting. And they hadn’t hit the High Desert yet, what probably would be blazing hot like a devil’s sauna.

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Depheant nodded and followed Rya into the light brown commanding tent. Before he caught a glimpse of what was at a display on the table, the young man bowed lightly at the ones present. A pair of golden eyes caught his attention first and Depheant greeted Pheobe and a man standing at her side. Judging by how close he stood next to her, probably her husband or something similar. On the other side of the table stood a rather short woman dressed in a blue armour and due the expressions given he recognized a leader as he saw one. This was probably the Nuararian Rya had talked about, the woman leading the operation in which they got involved.

On the field table in the middle a map was spread and held open by a few desert rocks. It looked like an old thing, but when he focussed a moment on its surface he perceived a few things that probably had been added recently. It was clear this document was an illustration of an important location that was about to be mentioned in this meeting, but for now whatever was drawn on it looked unfamiliar to him. After another short and curious observation during which he tilted his head as if to read the few marks on it, the priestess on the other side caught his attention with a soft cough.

Depheant looked up and blushed a bit even though the cough didn’t seem to have been directed at someone in particular.

“Good morning, and I think introductions are in order first,” she looked straight at Depheant now as he probably was the only one with who she hadn’t become acquainted yet. “My name is Sister Aleris, present Seeker of the Relic and in charge of -all- the Nuararian activities around here.”

Depheant studied the woman who reminded him of a matron or something. She was middle-aged, probably in her fourties and though she was rather short she radiated confidence and authority. The way she introduced herself and how she pronounced the few words thus far spoken, it sounded like ‘defeat’ wouldn’t be a word to be found in her vocabulary. Her voice also seemed to herald the approach of a presence that brooked no interference from other authorities. He couldn’t help it, but for a moment he pictured unfortunate apprentices stroving to meet this woman’s standards in an attempt to please her. He bet she had an unrivalled reputation around here.
But that … were just his first impressions.

The priestess nodded to the man standing next to Pheobe.

“I am Blaine Warden, Moonblade of the Dreamweaver, watcher of Sister Aleris. And you have met my foster sister and student, Pheobe Meadows.” The male was perhaps a few years older than him, clad in full armor. His reddish hair was cut short, his beard trimmed close to his face. His eyes were a greenish grey, his demeanor serious. He stood at strict military attention for the moment, his positioning affording him direct view to the entrance of the tent.

Pheobe offered a slight smile that was gone almost before Depheant saw it and an inclination of her head. She too was now dressed in the silver armor, a blue tunic wore over it. Her gauntleted hand rested on the pommel of her blade. It was easy to see that she too stood guard, her eyes inspecting the perimeter of the tent.

Depheant nodded,” Depheant Makepeace, member of the Argentum Vigilo...”

Aleris tilted her head,”... and not a member of the Nuararian Church if I’m correct.”

“Uhmm,” Depheant blushed a bit,” No milady… I…”

Rya interrupted,” Depheant is here on my request and has been assisting the church for quite some time now, voluntarily. He served as a protector and bodyguard for several of our sisters and brothers during their missions.”

“-AS- you already told me earlier, Rya…” Aleris interrupted. Her eyes shifted from Rya to the Vigilo and seemed to penetrate him on the spot.

A cold shiver ran down over his back by the way how she looked. She… didn’t think he had been responsible for the attack? Or that he couldn’t be trusted?
Depheant didn’t feel much to start explaining how he got connected with them, and about his … past internal conflicts as well as his personal past. Those were things that shouldn’t matter here and yet they explained partially why he was with the Nuararians. No idea whether it was some distrust or just someone who was careful, yet Depheant replied while frowning slightly,” Though I am not a member of the Nuararian Church, I look forward to work with you even more as…” he glanced from Rya to Pheobe and the man next to her,” … as I hoped to serve the church and become a Moonblade myself one day.”

Blaine and Pheobe both gazed at him with those words, both Moonblades seeming to evaluate him with their eyes. Pheobe’s golden gaze seemed to be almost curious. The older Blaine’s gaze did not give much away, but his expression was speculative.

“Hoped?” Aleris raised a brow, but Rya just smiled encouragingly.

“Yes, I… I mean...,” Depheant’s cheeks colored red a bit,” .. I hope.” He looked straight at Aleris, without a blink, yet he didn’t dare to look at the other three, afraid it might be a sign he couldn’t stand up for himself. With more confidence he added,” For certain personal reasons… which are my own..., the Lady of the Lighted Night became important in my life, as well as your church. I am here to assist you on whatever problem you are dealing with, and if welcome… I would do so as a member of the church.”

Aleris lifted her chin a little,” You would swear loyal to the Mistress of the Moon and her servants?”

“Yes milady… and with all do respect, I already -am- loyal.”
Depheant pondered, but then added in a delicate tone,” Unless my word as a member of the Argentum Vigilo isn’t credible enough.” And that was the first time he applied on who he was and which cloak he wore. After all, he still was a Knight-Aspirant and he would take his position when he got back.
If … he ever made it back. He had still no idea where he had gotten himself into.
He didn’t blink under the appraising eyes of the Head Priestess, but returned a ‘take it or leave it’ look. He couldn’t prevent the omnipresent blush on his face, but he would he make sure no one had reason to doubt him, including himself. Not… anymore…

Aleris offered him a frugal yet what seemed an appreciative smile,” Very well. I will personal see to it it is done before we set out.”

Blaine and Pheobe both turned their gazes to Aleris but said nothing. It was obvious that the Moonblades respected the elder priestess and if she said it was to be done, it would be done. But Blaine’s gaze once again was evaluating and Depheant got the distinct impression that he would have to prove himself once again.

Depheant blinked,” Done, set…?...” Then he shut, offering the priestess to explain as she clearly wasn’t finished yet.

Aleris looked at the others,” Depheant Makepeace will become a member tonight when the moon is full.” She looked back at the Vigilo,” Welcome to our order. And yes, set out. The others here already know the story, but I will give you a brief explanation and illustration of what I think we are up against.”

He bowed lightly,” Thank you milady…”

“First of all, you address me as Captain, even in this tent. Just so you get used to a little disguise and are rehearsing a role every moment of the day. Secondly, dump the Vigilo cloak when we set out. I don’t want more attention drawn on us than we already seem to have.”

Depheant nodded.

The ‘Captain’ leaned on the map with both hands, staring pensive a moment at a none existing point. Then she started to tell.

“More than a century ago, a very evil man was pretty active in Cuhanna and used an object to lure people to him through their dreams. His victims never returned… or so we thought at first. At some point and due local population and clans working together, this man was caught along with his victims.”

She looked up and offered Depheant a dark look.

“They had been tricked and transformed, together forming a cult.”

“Transformed?” Depheant, not able to suppress his eager curiosity.

Aleris didn’t seem to mind and nodded as she resumed,” Vampires. Now, the people here found that out on the moment they noticed these cult members could be harmed by light. It took some sacrifices but eventually they managed to take them out. All of them, including the main vampire. With their limited knowledge on how to deal with such creatures, they came up with a solution that was logical in their eyes. To make sure those bodies would never rise again, they transported the dead, some merely body parts, to a huge old tomb deep in the High Desert.”
As she noticed Depheant’s frown, she smiled slightly,” Not such a bad idea as it was far enough away from any civilization. Should any rise, they wouldn't be able to reach it without getting burned by some daylight.”

“But there is more to this than just a history lesson.”

“The Nuararians have been looking for an artifact for several decades now. Something that was mentioned a few times in an old tome. This artifact could help us with managing people’s dreams and free or heal them from whatever is mentally troubling them. Then our agents encountered this local tale and checked a few archives. You can guess what came up.”

Depheant nodded,” The object the vampire used might be the artifact you seek.”

“Yes. So, more agents and scouts were sent, and we’ve been snooping around, researching a bit until a few months ago a group of Moonblades located that tomb…” she glanced at Pheobe and Blaine,” … and retrieved this mysterious object. After I received word I travelled from the other side of Cuhanna by ship, but by the time I got there and before I was able to study it, the object was stolen out of a heavily guarded camp.”

“No one saw anything?”

“Well, one very unfortunate man. We found his body probably a few hours after the theft, his head cut off.”

He swallowed,” Shadows, assassins…”

Aleris nodded,” It’s amazing how you two managed to survive out there,” she said with a glance at Rya.

Depheant kept his thoughts to himself about that.

“If you wouldn’t have been alert, we probably wouldn’t have,” Rya replied who patted Depheant’s back gently as she noticed his small moment of absence. She still had no idea how her bodyguard did it but assumed he’d talk about it with time.

“Yes, and I wish we had received word earlier.” Aleris nodded to Pheobe, a look given she did well.

“So, we are going to look for the thief I assume?” Depheant asked.

“You can say that, though I think it may be slightly more than just a thief. I’m not sure yet but my gut tells me to head out with a capable unit to that tomb whilst other agents search elsewhere.”

Depheant looked at Rya,” Very well. When?” He turned back to Aleris.

The Captain drew a circle around a location on the map,” The night after you are inducted we set out."

The Vigilo rubbed his hair...


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:33 pm

*** Departing for the tomb ***

Arid, lifeless, and blazing hot would probably the three main adjectives to summarize these regions. Nonetheless, today was bearable after a small storm last night, probably a remnant of a bigger one that had taken place in the ‘Hellhole’ and which managed to reach the capital city. Not that the short refreshment had contributed to a good night sleep. Whereas he had slept rather well the night right after his initiation ceremony, last night was worse again. Not because he had been dwelling on problems of his past. Not at all as those were over for him and he had a great future ahead. No, the lack of sleep was caused by something else.

Depheant closed his eyes and recalled the energy flowing into him from the surrounding air, coursing through his body, his shoulders, down his arms and collecting in his hands. The experience had been accompanied with feeling supremely good, magnificent and even beautiful. Almost… feminine. At least he imagined a woman could feel like that. Right after that and for a short duration, there also had been a sensation of absolute power, unlimited strength and up to a certain level, total self control. And there was even another interpretation of how he had felt.

But for the rest... what had coursed through him in those two or three seconds and what had been decisive for the outcome of his fight with the assassin, was just beyond comprehension. It almost looked as if his chant had been a prayer at the same time, something like a mantra but without the continuous and monotonous repeating.

The Vigilo waiting on the outskirts of the Nuarari camp opened his eyes again and stared over the wide immeasurable plain of sand, brown beige with a hint of brick red on the hillsides illuminated by the morning sun. The gentle breeze softly mopping his forehead with tufts of hair wasn’t strong enough yet to lift the grains of sand.

Thus far he didn’t really had had the chance to talk about it with Rya as she had been far too busy with all sorts of preparations. Instead Pheobe and Blaine had kept him company and provided him with more information on the tomb and its history. The two Moonblades also started refining the training of their fellow innitiate Moonblade after they saw what he was capable off with a blade.

Blaine appeared to be more the silent type, someone who’d assessed and corrected his student rather with expressions and demonstrations than with words. But of course he could be mistaken as he only knew Blaine two days. Perhaps the red-haired man just wasn’t very open to strangers or newcomers… or perhaps he may even see him as a threat. Pheobe on the other hand seemed very devoted, shy, but also friendly. They talked a bit and Depheant had told her a little about the Argentum Vigilo. She seemed to take interest in whatever he shared about his knightly order. But he just couldn’t share with them what he wanted to discuss with Rya. He couldn’t blame Blaine as he was the same. You just don’t go talking about private stuff with people you are not familiar with..

The sound of an approaching cavalry behind him drew his attention. A long narrow colone which was a mixture of horsemen and camel riders was heading in his direction and at the head of the colone he could perceive the people from the commanding tent, Aleris, Pheobe and Blaine. No sign of Rya yet but Depheant assumed she was probably somewhere among the fairly large group of at least fifty Nuararian followers. He decided to wait for her as he nodded to the first riders and let them pass. The camel he had exchanged for a rather small horse with a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage. He was told this horse belonged to a breed that had adapted to a dry desert climate and was built for speed and distance.

Jumping in the saddle, the Vigilo could predict the ride to the tomb was going to be tough nonetheless, for both rider and mount. The young man whose skin had become very tanned and whose hair got bleached even more by the omnipresent sun, glanced over his shoulder at the city Maslam in the distance. A place for which he unfortunately hadn’t found the time to visit in order to get a taste of the local culture and its customs. Though he intended to do so when he got back.
If… he made it back…

The part of the outfit he was now wearing and which may let people think he was a mercenary, left his arms bare. He could sense a mixture of temperatures. On the one hand the first light of the sun was already enough to warm his skin, and on the other hand the gentle breeze provided a coolness, tempering the otherwise already stinging rays.
When the distinctive sounds of straps creaking on plate mail and metal rings linked together forming chainmail finally seemed to reach his consciousness, Depheant turned his horse to the colone and caught sight of Rya. He clacked with his tongue, motioning his horse to join the others.

He just couldn’t help it, but with all the sounds of metal clanging against metal and the plodding droning hooves of steeds, a weird sensation of early victory took possession of him.
Was that… feeling confident?

Depheant lifted his chin a little, the sun like a source of energy on his skin. He wondered if he could make Amy and Phelan proud of him as a member of the Argentum Vigilo. He shook his head, a faint smile started to decorate his face.
Then he clacked his tongue once more as the colone transistioned from trot to canter which gave him a feeling similar to that of floating...


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:35 pm

*** In the middle of nowhere ***

As night poured over the desert, turning it into a place with different shades of purple, the colone stopped. Depheant looked around yet failed to perceive the reason for the sudden halt. He looked up a moment at the clear sky where the stars seemed to twinkle even more bright than ever before. He glanced around and recalled their journey thus far. For at least a week they’d travelled into the deeper parts of Cuhanna. The High Desert or according to some -the- place where local religions were generated, seemed to him an endless plain of sand and dunes without visual reference points. A place where men experience nothing but bottomless infinity and where they may develop a desperate urge to find something to hold on to.

Like gods for instance…

Thus far it was amazing he hadn’t heard anything yet about some local god of water or something likewise since the first thing he would come up with in a place like this would be… water, water and more water. Unless it was imported by local population, there was absolutely no sign of the liquid necessary for all forms of life.

Depheant shook his head to himself. Their chief god was even known as the Burning Lord, some barbaric god of… fire. His name was S’arrapu. Legend has it that the former temple and tomb the Nuararians came to look for was once built by the now disappeared Tuigan tribe, and along with other buildings got burned to the ground by this fire god as the result of some sort of conflict. According to reports and ancient manuscripts it is said the Tuigan belonged to the elven race, but which remains to date a mystery. According to the texts, these elves were known for their amazing architecture and even after S’arrapu’s wrath there should be still enough evidence left these Tuigan once dominated Cuhanna.

“We’re here…” he heard one of the warriors in front of him say.

The Vigilo looked around. Well, no visual evidence here. Just another part in this realm of desolation, which… up to a certain level was pretty similar to an ocean. If one dies here, his bones one day will desiccate into dust and become part of the endless piles of sand. If one drowns in an ocean, he’ll be sojourning to the lower parts of the food chain until he finally hits the bottom where his bones wait to become one with the soup.

He blinked and suddenly looked up after he had been staring at the sand. Where the hell did these morbide thoughts suddenly came from? Then he noticed some of the other soldiers in front of him shifting uneasily in the saddle.

“We are definitely here…” Rya whispered to herself next to him.

He sensed it too now. His heart felt heavy between his ribs and he had to fight his mind all the time, preventing it from drifting into an abyss of sorrow.
There was no hope… no chance of surviving all this, there would be only suffering and pain beyond imagination. Lives would be damaged and spirits would be crushed. Never again would he witness another sunrise and an irreversible darkness would become the main world… a void, a cold empty and hollow space… isolated, abandoned, deserted. Feelings like these just kept showering over his being until suddenly someone poked him rather hard.
Depheant snapped out of it and looked into the eyes of Blaine.

Then he saw the warrior nodding to Rya,” Ward him, his mind is … troubled.”

The priestess mumbled a few words and suddenly it was as if he got pulled out of a dark, cold and deep water. Like a sailor who got flipped overboard during a storm and who lived under the impression he had been floating around all the oceans until he finally got rescued. Such a relief.


“It’s quite alright,” he heard another voice next to him.

He blushed slightly and nodded to Pheobe who drove past him. Now he understood how at first sight the Nuararians had been able to find this place flawlessly. He could imagine if one were sensitive enough, it would be easy to trace by dreams or something. And that explained why during each stop one specific priestess had been escorted away from the camp only to return hours later. That woman had been their navigator, and far away from civilization and camp, far away from the disruptive dreams of her fellow Nuararians, she had been able to locate this area.
Now he wondered if the tribe members they met had been right all along about it, about places which once belonged to the Tuigan being cursed.

Then the orders to dismount their steeds and to fetch their backpacks with the equipment they’d agreed upon earlier, were given.
It was turning colder as the very dry air of the desert held little to almost no moisture and thus was unable to hold heat for long. And with such a clear sky above their heads any warmth rising up from the sand was quickly released.

Depheant shifted a bit uneasy in the sand as it dawned on him they were waiting. He looked around again and saw no sign at all from the tomb. Pheobe and Blaine were nowhere to be seen and he assumed they were probably looking for the entrance which without doubt had to be hidden under the now cooling sand.

An hour went by without anything happening. Depheant glanced at Rya and just when he was about to say something the moon started to rise up from behind a dune. Simultanously a small area in the sand not far from the group started to glow and it started to spread a cyan light, giving the surroundings a spooky sight.

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He heard Aleris’ voice rise above their heads,” Alright, there is our entrance. Follow us.” And he saw how they one by one stepped into the light and disappeared from sight.
Depheant adjusted his backpack and with his sword ready the Vigilo joined the other Nuararians in this mysterious journey.


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:36 pm

*** Entrance under the moonlight ***

Two things he noticed immediately. Despite the fact the night had made the desert more bearable, the temperature in this new place was significantly cooler. Secondly, this new surrounding seemed odorless with a crisp, clean feeling, and the air seemed saturated with… water vapor. The humidity was almost overwhelming and in sharp contrast with his past weeks in the desert.
With his eyes still adapting, his brain analyzing what his senses picked up, Depheant could conclude it was much much darker here than from where he had entered the light. Behind him, from the thing that had turned turned out to be some sort of a portal, a cyan glow was spread but to no avail.

Cause, front of them the world was shrouded in a pitch-black darkness. Somehow by the sounds of echoes produced by blades unsheathing, Depheant could tell this place had to be huge. He looked up as he drew his falchion and couldn’t even perceive a ceiling. Only an overwhelming velvet darkness hovered above them, making him feel slightly uncomfortable. Then he looked back in front of him, past the torches being lit by the Nuararians in an attempt to determine some reference points. Instead emptiness stretched out and yawned loudly, refusing to give away the beginning or the end of this area. For a moment he imagined enemies lurking in the darkness, watching their prey which gave its location so easily away because of the light it produced. He imagined he could hear them laugh sinisterly at his distress and the very thought of that made him look over his shoulder at the portal with a longing feeling. It was hard to ignore but it just felt like they were all in great danger.

Perhaps it was also because he didn’t hear any other voices, each individual around here dealing with his own thoughts and doubts. Everyone here knew they were going to a tomb but nothing could have prepared them for this.
Well, almost everyone. He did notice Pheobe and Blaine suffered less than the rest of the Nuararians as they seemingly rather unperturbed prepared some things. Probably because they’ve already been here. Depheant never had been quickly afraid, but he would never return to a place like this.
And this was probably only just… the entrance.

Once more he reached out with his other senses and noticed dripping sounds, uncertain whether they were produced nearby or far away. The floor under him appeared solid and rocklike, and as more torches were lit he could see it was uneven and sharp. Stalagmites shaped like fangs rose from the floor and for a moment he was overusing his own imagination again as the sight reminded him of a book he once read. This place was shaped like the inside of a monstrous serpent’s head, full with big sharp pointy teeth. And they were about to be swallowed, skin and bones.

Pheobe turned to him, observing the Vigilo a few seconds. Then she walked over and said,” This time it is your own imagination, Depheant. We cannot ward you for that. Only you can. Have faith.”

Depheant turned to the Moonblade and blushed slightly. He nodded,” Yes milady.”

Pheobe turned around and nodded to one of the Nuararians, a girl who was some sort of a mage. She seemed young and pretty nervous as well, her lips shivering as she started to prepare what looked like a spell.

Suddenly the girl’s hands started to glow white and a large missile like fireworks erupted from the petite stature. But it seemed… uncontrolled, unguided and already after it was fifty feet high, Depheant could tell things weren’t going like they were supposed to. Also perhaps because he heard captain Aleris curse.

Too late to intervene though, the girl had lost control over her spell and as the white missile went up higher and higher they all could witness the darkness above them indeed had been endless.


As the missile finally seemed to have reached its destiny with the ceiling of the cave, an explosion took place, a blinding flash preceding a small shockwave and…

“TO THE SIDE!!” Aleris shouted.

An unnecessary order since the Nuararians as one man ran and jumped to the right into the awaiting darkness. Several people got knocked to the floor or tumbled over each other while others, the sound of it... seemed to crash into water. Most of the torches got extinguished again and for a moment they were once more immersed in darkness.

But before anyone could curse or make comments about this performance, … the rocks came…

When a rock rolls from a mountain, its path is unpredictable yet depending on the speed you may have a shot to evade it. Here in this imminent darkness you had no idea where they would land.

There was just enough light to witness how a mixture of small and large rocks bombarded the spot where the Nuararians had been standing only seconds ago, their equipment crushed or buried under a mass of earth and stone. It… truly could have been worse. As people started getting up again and looked at the pile, they saw they probably would be able to retrieve their gear within a few hours.

Depheant looked over his shoulders as he heard dripping, but failed to see the people making their way out of what probably had to be an underground pool or something. Just when he started to dust off his hair and saw how Aleris was preparing for a serman, the cave started to shake.

“What the…”

All looked up and witnessed a faint cold blue light piercing through a crack in the ceiling. Then that light got a little bit more intens as the crack seemed to grow. It was as if a whole mechanism was set in motion, a natural response to the damage dealt. The line of light changed direction and started splitting up, twisting uncontrollably in all directions. Soon it was clear a rather large crevice was created and…


And once more everyone jumped, just before the ceiling lost its stability and strength. A piece of the ceiling broke into several large pieces and just came down, the light of the moon almost blinding to anyone with the courage to look.

Rocks big as a house came down and even in the water they could sense how the ground shook and pounded violently, the bombardement creating seismic waves of energy to other parts of the cave. And just when many thought the whole cave was about to collapse, the worst was over. Besides some desert sand and tiny stones coming down, all fell silent again.

It took them a while before they dared to come out of the water, many looking up at the damage done to the ceiling by one single magical arrow.

The young mage wasn’t far from Depheant and he could hear mumbling in a repetetive stream of words.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m…”

But before he could get to her Blaine was there and lifted the girl out of the water. The young mage had lost control over her words and seemed to shake unstoppably. Then it dawned on him something was wrong in here. As Blaine carried the girl out of the water, Depheant followed him only to see then what was in the cave.

“Dear…,” he started as he gasped. A faint murmur arose from the others.

Depheant Makepeace - Tales of a young man - Page 3 2vlqgb5

This wasn’t just any tomb… this had to be designed and created by the Tuigan indeed.
An ancient castle-like facade rose up on the other side of the cave. The immense structure which was a wall of stone completed with a stairs, pillars and statues seemed as if it had been carved out in one piece of the rocky wall. And it was so high and still so dark he couldn’t see the top of it.

“Right! Listen up! Announcing our arrival here hasn’t been exactly what I had in mind! You get an hour to dry up and save whatever is left to save! Gather enough food and water, and make sure everyone has a weapon! Leave all the rest! Oh, and… for now forget about the use of arcane magic…” she grimmaced as she looked up at the ceiling,” ... as something appears to disrupt that! ....”

Captain Aleris added a few more instructions and soon everyone was put to work. Depheant glanced from the stones he was moving to the castle-like structure and just by looking at it, a chill froze the back of his neck and his stomach turned to ice. He pictured death-like eyes, devoided of all emotions, watching from above, their gaze in itself enough to cut his very soul... but for now observing them while they tried to rescue their meager belongings. He didn’t like the silence after the accident with the ceiling… he didn’t like the silence at all. Goosebumps rose on his arms.

Yes,... they were all in danger.

Have faith Deph…


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:38 pm

*** Faith ***

Depheant gritted his teeth the moment the group stopped right before the entrance. He looked up at the structure’s dizzying height, the place earlier rediscovered by the Nuararians. The Tuigan sure knew how to build. Who could tell how long this tomb had been right here before it was discovered the first time? And who could tell how long it had existed in the history of the Tuigan before they vanished mysteriously? This building probably once saw the surface or at least saw the sky before it was embraced by rocks forming this immense cave. Maybe the result of multiple landslides?

As he studied its features once more, Depheant realised he didn’t really knew a lot about architecture but this building didn’t match with the picture he always had had about elven structures. Often they were considered to be magical and complex, elegant or very natural... yet all showing the extreme finesse Elves have for craftmanship and art. True, it was said some elves may be rather savage with likely even no homes at all, but even their fine weapons and the rest of their creations always seemed to have that un-earthly feel around them. This building however, this structure didn’t feel very elven despite the fact it was indisputably ancient and could probably last here for all eternity. But there was lack of any initial color,... details, if any, had been crudely applied,... and its facade most certainly wasn’t open to let as much light and nature in as possible. He wondered how many floors it counted as there only seemed to be one balcony, though one which was big enough to contain a full company.

Suddenly there was that overwhelming feeling of impending doom again and it almost triggered a panic attack within him. Like there was this giant looming over him, toying with him and telling him something was going to happen soon. From the pit of his belly a weird heaviness travelled up into his chest where it took a place. But not for long…

“Noo nooo… I can’t… I can’t go in…”

The Vigilo snapped out of it and though the feeling wasn’t fully gone yet, it was pushed to the back of his mind in order to aim his attention to any rising troubles. Now he noticed he hadn’t been the only one standing there, occupied by second thoughts. A man right next to him turned completely pale.

Rya and Pheobe turned around and attempted to bring the man at ease, but it was to no avail. Depheant saw and especially heard it, the man was experiencing the same things he did. He was facing fear, and as he looked around he saw a few more Nuararians hesitating, the expressions of their brother not really helping the common case.

He pondered and then decided to interfere,” Apologies… may I?”

Rya looked at him and nodded,” If you please, Deph…”

Depheant turned to the man and laid his hand on his shoulder. Then he looked over at the rest of the group watching how their brother’s faith fell apart.

“My name is Depheant Makepeace, a member of the Argentum Vigilo… and I openly admit here and now I am afraid too, despite the wards granted by your priests. I know the… accident… ,” he glanced at the young wizardress,” … with the magic didn’t really motivate you. I also know some of you would feel more confident when you knew you could rely on your arcanics instead of being forbidden to use any.”

He looked up at the place where the ceiling collapsed and where the moonlight shone through. Then he pointed at the gigantic hole and said,” I personally think it was a sign of the Lady of the Lighted Night… a sign to move on while she is watching us and aiding us with her light. So that we can see what is truly upon us and so we would be able to overcome our fear.”

It was all bluff and performing. Well,... most of it. It was not because he had realised and even witnessed a few things that he was deeply religious now. He would never be the guy saying when a rock fell one someone’s head and killed that person, that that had been the will of the gods. He still believed people had their life in their own hands and did with it what they wanted. And some things that happened were just accidents. He also realised he didn’t had to convince this man or any other they were invincible, or didn’t had to hold back once they overcame their fears. Finally he also knew some people just had that 'sixth sense' poking in the back of their minds, telling them they were about to die. It only turned true in very rare cases though, often people gifted with certain powers.

Pheobe was dubious at first when the young Sentinel asked to speak. She believed that Blaine should have been rallying his men, yet her foster brother had his hands full trying to calm the hysterical mage. But the words combined with the young man’s voice broke through the heaviness that seemed to hang over the group like a funeral shroud. The young warrioress stood straight and proud as she moved to the young knight’s side, a slight smile causing her lips to curve as the moonlight glinted off her silver armor.

The light from the moon gilded them all in a comforting light. While the young Sentinel may have been speaking to just rally those present, something in his words indeed struck true. The way the moon bathed the warrioress and the Sentinel indeed made it appear as if they were being blessed. And it was the sight of them combined with the man’s words that had scared men finding their strength and their will. Bolstered by sheer faith, the group was ready to move on.

Seeing the young warrioress moving to his side, it felt like a support to his words and Depheant could feel his confidence increasing. Before he caught an approving nod from Captain Aleris who had joined the group, Depheant looked at the girl next to him and when he caught her smile it struck him. She didn’t smile often… as in almost not.
But it sure did look good on her.

He blushed a bit as he caught himself staring at her and returned the smile with a nod. The man next to him seemed to have calmed down and even the young wizardress had been listening. One more thing Depheant realised. These people were probably all very religious, … and just bought what he said about their goddess. But what about his own faith?
With mixed feelings, and now also because of the girl’s expression, the Vigilo picked up his backpack and indicated he was ready to move on.

Meanwhile... he secretly tried to picture how the goddess of the night would look like should she decide one day to materialize in front of him...

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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:40 pm

*** The complex ***

With the help of a few others Aleris opened the huge door revealing a dark and probably long yet narrow corridor. She turned to Pheobe,” Right, you and Blaine have been in there before. You take the lead along with someone of your choice. Not Blaine though, as I want to keep him in the center of the group should anything go wrong and people go lost."

Pheobe’s eyes shifted to the others and eventually locked on the blond young man. She nodded to him to indicate she favored him by her side.

Depheant peeked into the darkness and once more blocked his mind from any further dark thoughts invading and flushing his courage. She had chosen him and he could sense several pairs of eyes locking on him. He took a step in the direction of the entrance. And then another one… and another until he was standing shoulder to shoulder with the young golden-eyed woman.
“I am ready, milady,” he said with enough confidence in his voice to convince all the others things would be alright.
But would they?

And then, seen from above, the ancient structure seemed to suck up the entire Nuararian company like a lizard who had snared his prey and drew it back into his mouth using its muscled tongue.

No way out…

Depheant shook his head, the courage of the girl inspiring him,... and his actions and way of expressing himself inspiring the others.
What struck him immediately was the smell, like an old house where mold had settled in the walls. The darkness in here was incredible and just like it had been the case in the cave, the light of his torch didn’t seem to reach far. Pheobe on the other hand seemed to have no trouble at all and though they didn’t move fast, her step was confident.

He wondered where she was leading them, but then again a first destination would probably be the place where they found the artifact on the previous visit. The passage seemed to be going deep and smooth, leading them into the depths of a dark, dank space. So the facade had been fake and only insinuated they were dealing here with a building. Yet by now the Vigilo could tell they were descending deeper into the earth.

Studying the monotonous dark rock, smoothed by unknown hands, and which now seemed to weave through the underground like a tunnel made by a mole, Depheant could only wonder how the Tuigan had been able to make these. Their technique and skill must have been legendary.
Thankfully the journey in the stuffy pipe ended quickly enough, as it led them into a more spacy place.

Pheobe turned to the group,” This is just the end of the first gallery.” Then she pointed at the other side,” Beyond this point this underground structure turns into a complex of what look like ritual buildings constructed all around a center, with in the middle something we assume to be a sort of powerhouse.”

Depheant raised a brow and when she saw it she shrugged.

“Last time we were in here we weren’t able to get into that place and I would advice against entering it if you could. It… feels not right. The artifact we retrieved from one of the ‘side’ buildings so I suggest we start looking there.”

Even though they hadn’t been confronted with any troubles at all the last time, the Nuararians had reason to come back here in the hope to find a lead that would help them recovering the artifact. And this time they also seemed to expect trouble, blades being drawn witness to that.

From here Captain Aleris took over, and handed out scrolls to Blaine and Pheobe,” Here, we had your maps copied. Pick your men and spread out into two groups. Blaine, you go towards the left lower parts and Pheobe the right upper section. I’ll secure the first rooms of the entrance part with a few.” The Captain turned around and pointed at some,” You, you and you… you stay here and come with me after the others have taken off.”

As Depheant was assigned to Pheobe’s group, the young man caught himself looking around and noticing Rya had joined Blaine’s unit. For a moment he wondered to say something about it but then it dawned on him his role as her protector had come to an end, at least for now. He prayed she would be alright but after facing Blaine during a few training sessions, Depheant was convinced she was in more than capable hands… and he was her brother.
He shook off his concerns and joined Pheobe once more at the head of the group when he noticed she was obviously waiting for him. And when he made briefly eye contact a weird feeling stirred his stomach. It was if those golden eyes were able to look into his soul. If that were ever possible there wasn’t anything really to hide as he never really had lied in his life before. But there were just things he rather avoided to be seen by people. Why? Because he didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for him. That… would make him feel really uncomfortable.
And the past wasn’t present anymore and thus… irrelevant.

They continued their journey through the tomb and for a time which looked like many hours, they explored the immense place. It also seemed to last long because they moved slowly, a few times evading certain passages or waiting for someone to do his work. Since this place was loaded with traps, deceptions and illusions. At some point they had to cross a dark bottomless crevasse and even though the black wooden beam to get to the other side had been tempting, Pheobe motioned everyone to stop. When she threw a small rock on it, Depheant did had to rub his eyes as it went right through it. It turned out there was a wooden beam after all, but with the combination of a few mirrors, some masterful art and probably a little ancient magic still in place, it was slightly off direction than where their eyes first believed it should have been.

It had been clearly the Tuigan’s intention this tomb complex not to be seen by outsiders. Depheant just kept non-stop marvelling and asking questions to himself as the place clearly had awoken his philosophical, spiritual and intellectual curiosity. Each site connecting with one or more other sites made him compare the complex with a tiny city. One... burial city.

But why did a tomb location had to be so big? And what activities did take place here, so long ago? And why below the surface, devoid of any light? There was one burial chamber after another filled with rather small tombs and texts on the wall which made him think of an old form of the Cuhannan language mixed with ancient elven. If they only had more time to read some of it. He was convinced if they’d stayed here for a week, he’d be able to translate parts of it. Then there were the small and dangerous passages connecting one another, and even little underground buildings that looked as if they had served as… homes? But why live so close to the ones who had passed away? And what purpose did the few altars served they had come across?

No wonder this environment made the hair in his neck erecting all the time. It just oozed darkness out of every pore. For a moment, just a little moment... fear flared up in his heart. Not the fear for his own life, no. A fear or nervosity for whatever the answers to his questions about this place may be. He imagined not liking them. His mind drifted back to what Pheobe had mentioned about a place in the middle, something she addressed as a powerhouse. He could feel something pulling on his mind, teasing and nourishing his curiosity.

Suddenly he stopped and looked in the direction of one of the many crevasses and cracks in the rocky walls. Did something in there just reflected the light of his torch?

“Depheant? What is it?” Pheobe turned around and came a few steps back.

Depheant looked from her back to the crevasse, yet saw nothing but a deep luring darkness. Ghosts were playing his mind again probably. “I… hm… nothing.” He didn’t want to worry the others because of his imagination. Yet Pheobe kneeled, holding her blade next to her and her other hand brushing over the ground. And as she kneeled a fair share of a bare leg was at a display.

Depheant Makepeace - Tales of a young man - Page 3 Vy616w

The Vigilo blushed a bit as she looked up. Then he saw she gave him a nod.
What did she mean by that…? He glanced back at the opening in the wall.


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:42 pm

*** Stricken ***

He looked back into the crevasse and by what he then perceived made him just being in time with raising his shield as something foul and dark leaped out of the depths behind the wall. All he first saw were two little gleaming orbs about four feet above the floor, and the next thing was a form shrouded in some black fur jumping out of the shadows, teeth and claws flickering in the light of the torches. Despite its inhuman speed the creature didn’t smack against the Vigilo’s tower shield but instead and without any effort ran up against the metal surface. With a spectacular salto the unidentifiable form just jumped over him and landed on the other side whilst with epical precision slitting two throats at the same time. The stench of too sweet rotten meat that had been lying too long in the sun reached the men’s nosethrills and as blood splattered everywhere, a true nightmare unfolded right in front of them.

Depheant Makepeace - Tales of a young man - Page 3 Fz3k01

It all happened within two seconds. Before Depheant and most of the other Nuararians were able to recover from the surprise and turn to the attacker, a second creature jumped out of the wall. Only this time Pheobe was the faster one and pierced the incoming attacker through the chest. A shrill, loud sudden squeak of pain was her reward. The Moonblade had kept her attention on the wall and prayed the others would be able to eliminate the one who just invaded their ranks.

Easier thought or said than done however…

Despite the fact the creature, which looked like a giant sized rat wielding two curved blades, didn’t seem to wear any protection, it seemed hard to hit it as it used its speed and its own masterful attacks to prevent from being hit. It proved to be a true killer and an assassin worthy of the highest ranks in any corresponding guild. Five more men fell by the razor-sharp metal before the Nuararians gained the upper hand. A few seconds later the creature found itself struck down and pierced by several swords before it finally gave in and died.

Silence descended like an ice cold blanket over their backs as they looked in horror from their fallen comrades to the crevasse in the wall Pheobe was guarding.

The girl turned her head only half and said,” Those weren’t here last time…”

Depheant took position next to her so that she could study the creatures,” Any idea what those were?” he said still breathing heavily.

Pheobe kneeled next to the second body, her hands carefully moving some fabric aside. Several of the men had to take a step back with their hands covering their mouths, and some vomited up their last meals as a fur covered with pus-filled boils and infected open wounds was at a display.

Pheobe seemed unaffected by it though and looked up at Depheant,” They remind me of wererats,... only have I never seen any as fast like these before. The wounds… I don’t know. Rats do carry diseases and some are even affected by them, but these look as if they’ve been cursed. There is something strange going on here.” She looked over at the others and didn’t want to make them worry more than they already did. She had a bad feeling about this and wondered if the Sentinel did have a sixth sense after all.
“Alright, we’ve been here long enough. We must go back to the others.”

If they are still around, Depheant thought. Then he looked at the girl again and somehow he just knew she covered her pain for the loss of her brothers and sisters. He wanted to say something… just… anything. He looked around at the remaining Nuararians and all he could come up with was just a nod..

“Ma’am, what we do with the fallen?” a young guy asked.

“Allow me…” a woman called Hemia said. Depheant knew she was one of the Moonsingers.

Pheobe nodded and the woman started a song dedicated to the goddess and her fallen warriors. After that they had no choice but to leave the bodies behind.

On-a-night like thiiiiiiis,
we-weave the memoriiiiiiies.

Under-a-full mooooooon,
we-think of youuuuuuu.

All-filled with priiiiiiide,
we-call your guiiiiiiide.

Stay-in your dreaaaaaaam,
walk-in-the streaaaaaaam.

Har-vest the liiiiiiight,
and...just... shiiiine... briiiiiiight.

(rhythm and melody of the moonsinger likewise as the dwarven song, but picture mainly females singing this)

Depheant’s neckhair was standing up, and not only because of the words but also due the resonating voice and eventually the other voices joining, honoring the fallen.
If angels really existed, this had to be how they would sound, their voices heavenly, gentle, compassionate…

Once more a moment of silence fell and Depheant used to extend his senses. He didn’t hear a thing. Then Pheobe nodded and the reduced group started their journey back to the entrace.
Hours later they returned and Captain Aleris furrowed a brow with the sight of the group. Pheobe was taken apart and briefed the Captain. Meanwhile Depheant saw how the Nuararians of his group briefed the others in their own way… and tears flowed as some had been really close friends too. But there wasn’t really much time left to mourn.

Soon Aleris and Pheobe returned, and the Captain gave her orders,” Right. Blaine and his group are still out there. We go together and no one is left behind. No more splitting up to scout, only Pheobe here will be just a little ahead as she knows the path. The rest of you stay behind and stay together. Is that clear?!”

“Yes ma’am,” the group replied.

Aleris turned to Depheant and for the first time she looked a bit uncomfortable but quickly regained her firm expression,” Sir Depheant, a word please.”

The young man blushed a bit at the use of the term ‘sir’ but nodded and followed her.

She turned around and looked him in the eyes,” Frankly, I regret and I feel honored at the same time to have you here. Regret cause if something happens to you, I probably will be the one who will have to do some explaining to the people to who you are dear, not in the least to the Knights of the Princeps himself. Honored... because someone of the Argentum Vigilo finds us worthy to aid us in this cause and who even joined our ranks.”

“Milady…” Depheant started

Aleris held up her hand, still that firm expression on her face,” You outrank me even by being Knight-Aspirant. In fact, I should offer you command.”

Depheant started to shake his head as he wanted explain he once operated under Anne Anathema during a Vanguard mission. Then he recalled what the Vanguard Captain told him during the debriefing.

“So… I ask you Sir Depheant Makepeace of the Argentum Vigilo. What is it you want to do?”

He smiled a bit, just as he wanted to show initiative she offered it to him. “Milady…”


He blushed a bit,” Captain Aleris, we don’t have time for many words as lives are at stake. I don’t want to make things more complicated than they’ve already been for you thus far, and waste precious time. But if you ask me what I like to do. I like to be at the head of the group.”

Pheobe, who was close enough to overhear what happened, tilted her head. She kept her silence, waiting to see what her Captain would say to the Sentinel. In truth, she liked having him around. He kept his head under pressure, he was a good fighter and he knew when to step back and let others do their jobs. But she was all too aware that she was still in training herself. Thus her own opinion would not be given unless asked for...or if something was so dire that lives would be at stake if she did not speak.

Depheant glanced over at Pheobe, a moment wondering if he’d be welcome. But he knew one thing. He wouldn’t run in her way. Just… back her up. In fact, he was still recovering from the last surprise attack and noticed he could count on her too to cover his. She may have saved his life there, again.. and he owed her.
He looked back at Aleris who nodded that is was decided. Depheant noticed she looked somewhat relieved.

Two hours later they ran into Blaine’s group… and it didn’t look well…


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:44 pm

*** The passage ***

They found them on their way back in one of the darkest passages Depheant had seen thus far.

It looked as if the light of the torches got absorbed by the rocky material. Black may be a color, but this seemed something even far more darker. He noticed this tunnel also had side passages and numerous crossing tunnels, making the place look like one big maze. How they ever had managed to navigate in here was a mystery to him but if he would have gone by the sounds he probably would have gotten lost. He pictured hearing a low dark voice whispering and caressing his body like a gentle breeze within this seemingly airless realm. He imagined it sighing each time he took the decision to stick with his group. Depheant shook his head once and tried to focus on the encounter as the unintelligible whispers lingered in his mind like an echo.

Blaine’s unit had been struck by the human sized rats too, only the balance was even more terrible as they had lost half their unit against merely three of them. Several of his men were still injured and the ones in Pheobe’s unit with medical abilities quickly went to work.
The moment they bumped into the returning unit, Depheant’s eyes immediately had searched for Rya. She was still alive but among the wounded. Blaine was sitting next to her and had made sure the priestess was taken care off first as she was a capable healer herself. Relieved, Depheant assisted wherever needed and able.

Taking care of a young man whoms arm was ripped open, he overheard Blaine talking with Captain Aleris.

“That is indeed what he or it said…”

“Talking ratmen, Cuhannan dialects….” Aleris shook her head,” And when it attacked it said…”

“For immortality, for the prize…”

“So they were fighting for something…”

Blaine shrugged,” We didn’t see anyone else. But it seems they were left here after the last time Pheobe and me were here.”

Depheant could see on both their faces that they assumed these assassinations were probably premeditated. Then his eyes shifted to the object Aleris was holding in her hand. It looked like a piece of ice but it was probably a diamond or something and it seemed almost luminescent. He studied the object from a distance and perceived a strange interaction of energies. Where Aleris hand and fingers had caressed the gem, the stone seemed to sparkle a bit more for a few moments. As if it reacted on temperature changes.
Depheant rubbed his hair and noticed Blaine was watching him a moment. He blushed, got up and walked over to them since his curiosity had been obvious. Blaine offered him the small rock and motioned Pheobe over as well.

The gem felt sturdy but above all soft, as in… polished. This wasn’t just a piece of rough mineral that had fallen out of the rock wall. He turned and twisted it in his hand, and perceived it had a perfect symmetrical shape. The light effects it seemed to generate under his warm touch gave it an enchanting and alluring appearance. He memorized his observations and offered it back to Aleris.

Captain Aleris said,” Well, no sign of the artifact, and no leads. And our losses are too great to continue now. Who knows what else is out there.”

For a moment the so called powerhouse came up in Depheant’s mind but it would be ill-judged to try and breach in there under these circumstances. Even though it once again had been ‘pulling’ on him, the Vigilo quickly rejected the obviously bad idea.
Going back was the only wise option since they nearly lost half of the company. Rya had tried to raise their bodies but somehow her magic didn’t seem to work in here, while the one capable of that in Pheobe’s unit had been killed.

Blaine grumbled, slight disappointment in his voice but not directed at anyone,” Right, gear up, we’re heading out people!!”

The way back went difficult. Not everyone had recovered fully and some were still limping even after treatment. The smaller prayers of healing missed parts of their normal effects. And that was concerning, to everyone. The moment they realised that, they all hadn’t been that unhappy to go back.

Meanwhile Depheant couldn’t let go off the thought why their magic didn’t seem to work here, but orders were orders. After the incident with the cave ceiling, the use of arcane magic and words had been forbidden in here, and divine magic either didn’t work well or not at all. Plunged into thought the Vigilo resumed following Pheobe as he once more had offered himself to be at the head of the group.

And just then, when not everyone was paying attention, most of them too tired to catch the warnings of Pheobe and the other trackers, it happened. An unfortunate Nuararian tripped over a short thin wire which preceded a whole series of effects. Even before the man was down, a part of the ceiling came down. Except that man who got buried under huge boulders, all the others jumped out of the way just in time. Unfortunately with all the commotion and side jumping another trap was activated. As if by magic two walls seemed to collapse, and this time the part of the ceiling that came down also destroyed a part of the floor, forming a rather large sink-hole. More series of cracks and bangs sounded out from above and the noise was deafening.
For a moment everyone seemed to disappear in a plummeting curtain of dark-grey dust and debris. As the collapse continued people ran and searched for cover, their arms over their heads only a poor form of protection. And then suddenly the ceiling stopped raining down in violent plumes. To Depheant it felt as if an indoor avalanche had just passed him.

When he looked up he could only conclude drama had just turned into tragedy. He saw arms and legs sticking out from under the rocks, red blood turning gray and thickened as it mixed itself with dust. By now it was hard to tell, but he assumed they had at least lost four or five more people. The Vigilo coughed and felt how his heart was still racing. Breathing heavily he turned around and saw Pheobe leaning against a wall, her hand holding her arm. Even this young calm girl showed a certain degree of fear in her eyes. But not for her own life. He just knew she was suffering on the inside over the loss of more brothers and sisters. It was… terrible.

“You… alright…?” he asked as he looked over at the others getting up in the dusty cloud. It... was a stupid question.

She could feel the blood beneath her hand, warm and sticky. She could smell it in the air. And she felt the weight of failure. They had not listened, or had not heeded her warnings. She looked for Blaine, for her Captain and her cheeks burned with shame. Lives were lost because she did not exude enough authority or command. And this failure weighed heavily on her soul.

She looked at the Sentinel and gave him a brief nod. She wondered what he saw, if he judged her as harshly as she judged herself. She knew he observed so carefully and she wondered how he saw her. She had to stay calm, she had to stay focused. And she could not weep, not now and not where others could witness. “I will be fine. We need to regroup, do a headcount, tend to the wounded and save who can be saved.” Her face was white with pain, yet she moved to look to the others first.

An hour later the balance sheet was made. Barely twenty out of a group of fifty were still alive. Blaine and Rya were still there, but the captain Aleris, the Moonsinger Hemia and a few more of Depheant’s group were gone. There wasn’t much they could do for them as their bodies were crushed and buried under tons of rock. The survivors gathered whatever could be retrieved and regrouped.

Blaine looked a moment at Depheant,” We need a new leader.”

The Vigilo glanced to Pheobe and back at Blaine.

“Though we are not in a combat situation… you have a higher rank than anyone else in here, sir Makepeace. I know Aleris and you discussed this earlier, so I will offer you the choice first.”

The young man rubbed his white with dust covered hair. They offered him command? But, Blaine has been like Aleris’ sergeant, the second in command and the rest of the Nuararians regarded him as such. This… was an act of politeness and courtesy... however it certainly didn’t sound like Blaine wanted to shy away from his responsibilities.
But… neither did he. It was offered to him… and he simply couldn’t swear off who he was,... Knight-Aspirant Depheant Makepeace.

“Very well, I accept,” he said with a blush which was this time masked by the dust on his face,” Though it won’t change much on how this group will operate,.... Blaine…. and please stop calling me sir. Just Depheant will do now.”

Blaine blinked once, but then nodded.

“Alright, we know the way out is blocked which forces us to head in even deeper. I have a feeling though we may find a path around and end up where Pheobe and me faced the ratmen and thus find a way out. What we don’t know is how many passages we have to take before getting there.”

A few people around him nodded they understood the possible consequences of that option.

Depheant looked at the floor behind the group,” I have no idea how deep that sinkhole is, but if we are lucky, we may discover this place has even more levels than we first thought. Something like a basement or a sewer system perhaps.” His gaze turned pensive just a few seconds before he resumed,” I propose we lower someone in there and see if there is a way out.”

Blaine nodded approvingly and said,” I’ll go first.” He saw Pheobe shaking her head a little and continued,” I’m one of the few who isn’t wounded and I can handle myself well should I need to get out again.”

Depheant glanced between the two. He was in charge now and thus making the calls. His decision could be one over life and death and if he agreed upon sending in Blaine…
“Make it so,” he then simply said.

Using ropes and belts the group lowered the Moonblade in the sinkhole and two hours later Depheant found himself sitting on a rock, waiting for the man’s return. He had lowered his head a bit, his eyes closed and his hand over his face. He was so tired and then it struck him they hadn’t slept in probably a day or more. It was hard to tell down here whether it was day or night and he had lost all feeling for time.

He took a deep breath, got up and stepped around the small rock to face the sinkhole once again. Blaine had a few torches with him but if he stayed away for a few more hours, he may never find his way back. The fact it seemed to take so long was also positive. It meant there were indeed opportunities beneath their feet and perhaps even a way out. He looked around and saw most of the Nuararians considered it also as an opportunity to take some rest. A few were standing guard but many others were sleeping or just dozing.

Just when he was about to turn away from the hole, he heard footsteps down below. As he peeked over a glow of light preceded Blaine’s return. He looked up and waved at the Sentinel with his torch.
A bit later the tall man was reunited with the remainder of his brothers and sisters.

“I’m not sure if it may prove to be a way out but I have found something that looks like it.”

A few cheered but Blaine quickly continued,” However…” he looked at Depheant,” We may have to face danger as I sensed something down there, tugging and pulling on me. Now I’m fairly resistent against it, but I hope the rest will be too.”

So, in other words, it was his call. Or they try and find a way around and back… or they go with what sounded like lower tunnels. And there it was again. That conversation he once had with Sir Hyel. He had to pick between something that could be bad, or even more bad. Only this time he had no idea on what they may be up against.

“Danger lurks in here everywhere. We have several wounded and if you can assure me there will be at least no traps down there, I’d favor that route.”

Blained nodded,” Not one.”

And that was that. Two hours later the reduced group found themselves in the tunnels below the complex, following Blaine's lead. And this time Depheant couldn’t ignore it as everyone seemed to hear it too. Some even needlessly mentioned it.

Whispers pulling on their minds like cold, clammy, wispy fingers, attempting to pull them in the narrow openings they passed and trying to seperate them.
So much for no traps… this whole damn place was one bloody trap.

But together as a group they managed as they just kept talking to each other and not allowing ‘it’ to invade their minds. A few hours later they could all see a glow at the end of the tunnel.
And gone were the whispers, gone was the confusing concerto of moans and cries. Like a weight that had just fallen off their shoulders.

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Blaine looked at Depheant,” We are here…”

Pheobe brought up the rear, guarding the flanks, her blade in hand. While others spoke of the whispers, she felt something else. Eyes...on her, that unmistakable feeling of being watched that would have the hairs at the back of one’s neck standing. Her own golden gaze peered into the shadows behind her even as the others moved quickly into the light. Though her eyes saw nothing, she could not shake the feeling that she was the focus of some malignant being. She lifted her head, facing the darkness bravely for a few moments more before moving to join Blaine and the Sentinel.


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:48 pm

*** The Tuigan ***

“We take this small pipe up here,” Blaine looked at the others. “Attach a rope around my middle. I’ll climb up and help you up.”

That was after they had decided this could be their only exit as the rest of the tunnels seemed endless. Above them through a few pipes, a bright light illuminated this section of the tunnel and though light didn’t always had to mean something good it seemed right now their only option.

No one objected when Blaine once again volunteered to go first. He was strong and in perfect condition. As was Depheant, but Blaine’s eyes told him it was not his turn yet. Though he couldn’t know Depheant was an excellent climber. Before he had traveled to Cear, he had climbled ship masts daily, often in an attempt to beat his late friend Zachary. The memory of his best friend was still a pain in his heart.

He withdrew himself a short moment from the group and leaned against the wall while one by one the Nuararians were pulled up into the pipe.
The Vigilo whispered to himself,” My dear friend who has closed his eyes, … hear me whisper to you. Every time I lost myself, you were there to look for me. Every time I was alone, you were my shadow. Every time I needed to cry, you were a shoulder. Every time I was sad, you made me smile. The world no longer seemed in need of you and even though I may not cry that often anymore, every day I wish I could see you tomorrow. But I know you are probably in a better place right now and I will keep praying for you. Zach,...if you are still watching,... please, watch over us and those who fell… for the shadows have been dark in here.”
For a moment he just stood there with his hand over the amulet he had been wearing under his armour.

“Depheant?” Pheobe said.

He snapped out of his thoughts, nodded and walked over.

The climb was like a walk in the park thanks to the joint forces of the ones already up there. Even when he squeezed his eyes together really tight, he still got blinded by the torrent of radiance from above. As if Rel had decided to descend upon him. When he came out of the pipe he had to keep them closed, yet patterns of an exceptional brightness and photons of light kept flashing before his eyeballs. The intensity of this form of energy overwhelmed him a bit and it felt like he just had been freed from the darkest dungeon of the world after a period that felt like weeks.

Slowly he got up and could hear how others expressed surprise over something which clearly aroused wonder or astonishment. The Vigilo opened his eyes only gradually until his pupils had settled with the intensity of these new surroundings. They definitely weren’t back in the desert as it wasn’t that hot. Neither did he sensed a breeze over his skin, let alone hear the sound of the ever present wind. The temperature in here was comfortable and warmer than in the tunnels. When someone said something he perceived a echo returning after a second or two. But when he finally managed to open his eyes, he could see where the others had been excited over, truly.
This had to be the... powerhouse. And there weren’t any words to describe it.

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With an open mouth and his hands behind his neck, Depheant turned around and around and around, completely astonished by what was a spectacle for his eyes and his mind.

“What the…”

“I have no idea… knight…” Blaine said standing next to him.

It looked like they were standing in the middle of a large arena or theatre. And they could see shadows high up there moving over the stands. Depheant narrowed his eyes a little and was able to see they were ethereal, just like the gigantic tribune. There were however parts missing in the picture, parts of the structure were gone and gave it the appearance of a ruine. In the middle was a castle high altar-like... thing… and the whole the architecture felt alien and familiar at the same time. Behind it a large mirror hovered above the ground...

While he was taking in all the details, he could hear Pheobe mumble next to him,” Nothing is what it seems, nothing of this is real.”

He agreed and nodded,” This… place could never fit in the place from where we emerged. Also,...” he pointed,” No one seems to notice us.” He looked at the other Nuararians whose blades were drawn and motioned to lower them. He took a few steps forward, not in the least afraid of being attacked by whomever was on those tribunes. After a few more moments of looking he turned around to the others,” It’s like a magical projection, a representation or show of something that exists or existed elsewhere. I think...”

Blaine grumbled and shrugged, then nodded as if it could be the only logical explanation for whatever he was seeing.

The Vigilo turned around once more,” But I have no idea to what reason… or how it works… or who they are…” Once more he tried to get a better look at the ones above them, but each step he took didn’t seem to increase the sharpness or to magnify the fuzzy representations of the manlike beings.

And then he bumped into something. He looked down at his knees and saw a small pillar-like object sticking out of the floor. He immediately sensed energy pulsating within, a pure but raw, magical force. The others joined in a circle around him and watched the bard quietly, the pillar now subject of an intensive examination he seemed to perform. After all, their researchers had fallen in the earlier events and this young man seemed quiet observative.

But when his hand reached out, Rya reacted,” Carefully Deph…” But that was about all she could advice as neither of them had any idea what was going on. She watched how his hand touched the smooth surface.

Along with others, Blaine and Pheobe readied their blades and stood guard.

The moment he made contact with the pillar he experienced something familiar. The pillar responded to his touch by sending out tiny light effects from every spot he had touched. Depheant looked up and around in the circle of people,” Was anyone able to retrieve that stone Captain Aleris carried?”

Blaine stepped forward and handed over the sparkling gem,” I did,” he simply said.

Carefully the bard took the gem in his hand and his eyes shifted between the crystal and the pillar,”I’m not sure how this … works…”
He brought the gem to the pillar and made contact between the two.

Nothing happened.

Depheant rubbed his hair,”Right, that… would have been too easy, no?” He looked up at the others and said,” It’s still funny however why our magic doesn’t seem to work at all... while this here feels like magic.”

“Perhaps we should try again?” Rya suggested,” … something small, like a prayer to heal a cut?”

Depheant nodded,” Alright, something really small. Go ahead.” He got up and took a step back.

“Pheobe, show me that arm of yours,” Rya said as she walked to the girl.

Her arm was taken by the priestess and she turned it around to show the wound. The young paladin had a long gash in her arm that ran from her shoulder to her elbow, the flesh bruised purple around it. Anyone with even moderate medical training would likely suspect that the bone itself might need setting. Yet, Pheobe had not made a single complaint.

Rya mumbled a small prayer but nothing happened at all. She looked at Depheant who frowned.
“Nothing…. as if the Mother herself has turned deaf on me.”

“Hm, as for arcane magic I don’t even like to try then… wait… wait? What did you just say?” Depheant turned to Rya.

“As if the Mother t…”

“... turned deaf! I haven’t tried my own magic yet!”

“Yes, but isn’t that arcane magic too?”

“I know … I know!” the bard seemed excited nonetheless,” But it comes with a melody… so it’s performed in a slightly different way. For instance, my ‘tunes’ never fail even while encumbered or distracted.”

Rya looked at Blaine and then at Pheobe before looking back at him,” Something small perhaps?”

Depheant rubbed his hair, his mind racing fast over the things he could do. Then suddenly he widened his eyes,” Perhaps we couldn’t use our magic because of… a sort of magic preventing us? Yes?”

Rya nodded,” Could be yes. Why? Do you think we were…”

“Enchanted! Cursed, call it what you like! And we didn’t feel anything of it cause it’s an effect that is omnipresent. Perhaps a precaution that was once installed here… or ….”

“Or by someone who wants us dead,” Rya turned to Blaine,” Did any of you two used magic here last time, when you retrieved the artifact?”

Blaine shook his head,” Not me, we never needed any as we were able to get in and out without trouble. Well, besides the traps that is.”

“Well… there is this melody I learned and it… wait… I’ll show it… listen.”

Depheant snapped his fingers a few times and started to whistle. Weaving a string of notes together that slowly went up in speed the bard performed a melody that could have fit in a play about a man being liberated by his friends and who returned to the battlefield triumphantly. As the melody progressed, the pitches went up and down quickly before suddenly jumping to higher notes. Everyone including him, sensed how something fell off them, like a layer that had been glued all around them... ‘it’ just vanished. Like their skin was able to breathe again.

“I never sensed…” Rya started.

But simultanously also something else happened, and the bard widened his eyes but couldn’t stop the melody. The pillar started to glow and rose up from the ground. Around them the images of the arena and the fuzzy people flickered before disappearing. Despite the light the pillar emitted, the space around them turned black. Their faces lit by the light, the Nuararians shifted uncomfortable and turned away to peer into the darkness, their weapons ready.

As the pillar glowing over its entire surface rose up, Depheant noticed one dark spot on the side in the shape of….
He looked at the gem he was holding and without interrupting his melody, he touched the dark spot with the crystal which seemed to merge with the pillar.

The flash of light that followed next came so sudden and was so brilliant that their eyes started to water under its intensity.

“Gods…” Depheant uttered.

And then it was gone, reduced to a soft glow. They rubbed their eyes and after a few moments perceived a swirling vapor dancing around them. The gossamer mist now made this place feel small. Then, on one side they could all see how the grey blanket started to clear up and to Depheant’s surprise an ocean became visible. The mists around them slowly turned more bright, as if there was a sun slowly burning it away. A cry of surprise was uttered and Depheant widened his eyes as under his feet a beach became visible. Only it wasn’t real. He looked over his shoulder and saw the mist clearing up further, offering a familiar sight. Wasn’t this… Cuh….?

His attention was drawn back to the water as Blaine pointed,” Knight,... look…”

Ships… as the fog slowly dissipated. The Vigilo counted at least twenty sails and they were bright white, their fabric shining like juwels under a bright sky. Depheant and all the others took a few steps back as the ships had appeared rather close, the mist cloaking them until they were near. Despite the fact Depheant realised this was all an illusion, a projection of some kind, it all looked very realistic. He noticed he automatically drew his sword when he perceived how longboats which had been tied to the ship’s sides were set in the water, each containing at least twenty people. Rowing benches designed to accommodate two men each pulling an oar on opposite sides, were manned. Depheant squinted his eyes and tried to focus on them. From this distance he was able to see they were… armed… and they were heading for shore.

Something flickered at his sight and when he turned his head he noticed people dressed in primitive clothing turning around and running away. Judging by their skin they had to be Cuhannans and this was one of the many shores of the country. But they didn’t seem to have any real weapons nor ways to protect themselves against what was about to come. A spear which was also used as a fishing rod, yes. And some sharp thin rocks to open up the crabs they caught… but nothing else.

Depheant turned his attention back to the water. If those had come to start a war, these people would come off the worst. He readied his sword but he realised he couldn’t do anything about it, as this was all clearly past… a distant past probably. He narrowed his eyes again. But who were those invaders then, clearly technologically advanced and way ahead of the natives now running off for them? Then it struck him there also wasn’t any sound as the scenario unfolded.

As the longboats closed in on them, Depheant was able to see the crew’s features and they were… elves? They weren’t very tall and their skin and eyes reminded him of an elf he knew, Sir Hyel. Their expressions were calm and serene, which was almost frightening since they just stood up and readied their bows with the clear intention to shoot down any native within range. Shrouded in green simple cloaks they raised their longbows and released a first hail of arrows. From this point the illusion around them flickered as if the spare them the sight of the bloodshed which clearly followed next.

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For a moment everything turned black again, followed by a view of buildings being raised from materials supplied from ships. Here and there magic covered parts of the process. The images flickered incessantly so they were never able to catch all the details. But it was clear these had to be the Tuigan or their ancestors at work, building those fantastic buildings for which they had been known in these regions.

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“So the Tuigan…” Pheobe mumbled.

Depheant nodded,” … once came from Old Varana… and invaded this place. They look like ... Rian elves.”

“But where did they go? Legend says S’arrapu destroyed them by burning down their cities after they challenged them,” Blaine wondered, now also a moment taken by this new lore.

Depheant shook his head,” These images show the start of their civilization, perhaps we’re also able to see the end?”

Images kept flashing and shifting, showing various aspects from the daily life of what had to be the Tuigan. They showed how the elves slowly settled within the lands of Cuhanna and even built structures in the middle of the High Desert to god knows what reason. It was easy to assimilate the natives as there wasn’t really an empire to fight against, just local tribes scattered across the country. From what was shown Depheant could deduce once settled the Tuigan taught the ‘savages’ their language, which explained the language he had seen earlier in the complex. They taught them how to work the land in order to grow crops and create several products, including better weapons.
Where they first had appeared bloodthirsty during the first images, they now seemed to have taken a certain responsibilty.

However… the images also told Depheant they were the ones who established slavery as a business. Slaves were forced to labor, have sex, or fight in arenas and though not all of the slaves were natives, many were. He also saw temples where strange rituals took place and once again… where slaves were sacrificed.
They came at a point in this ‘show’ where the Tuigan seemed to have almost fully colonized Cuhanna, and even though they weren’t the only tribe... they were by far the mightiest. The Vigilo followed it all closely and was curious now how this mighty tribe found its end. He knew the legend. The Tuigan got punished by the Cuhannan Chief god, S’arrapu, who they had challenged and who in return burned down their buildings.

But that is where the images turned hazy again, the sky got red but that could also have been explained by desert sand and dust in the sky combined with a low position of the sun.
What Depheant and the rest of the group -did- see however is how the Tuigan and only the Tuigan got sick. Some disaster in the shape of an infectious disease had struck several of them. Was it a plague of some kind? The young man had to think back of his father who had died as a result of the Dahkan plague. There hadn’t been really a cure for it and he was lucky he survived.
He turned back to the images. It just didn’t make sense. Where they killed by this god, or had they fallen to a plague?

Whatever it was, the images showed how the Tuigan slowly started to disappear from the land, some of their buildings indeed burned to the ground. But it was hard to tell whether a god had been responsible or the natives taking over again, as war -did- occur. Probably it was the latter. Some of Tuigan started to retreat in their temples, where they transformed the underground in a place to live… and a place where they experimented with all kinds of substances and rituals, probably in the hope to find a cure. Then it dawned on him. They were standing in such a place.

So... this whole complex was some sort of necropolis…?

And it also dawned on the others.


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:52 pm

*** Way out ***

Blaine looked at the others, and then at Depheant,” Right, I’ve seen enough. How about we try and find a way out of here?”

Depheant had trouble with looking away from the images. They were so interesting, but Blaine was right. There hadn’t been a trace of the artifact and there was no proof they were safe in here. He looked a moment at the group, several awaiting orders, others still watching. Just Pheobe seemed to be on the move, like a ranger walking around in the large chamber, her fingers sliding over the pictures, searching for an exit… yet with the images being the walls that was a real challenge.
“Alright, perhaps we can shut this thing down by taking out the crystal and first try to see if we can heal the wounded?”

Rya nodded,” I like to perform a small test again and see what happens, but… ,” she looked at the images,” … yes, first, make this stop.”

Depheant took a step forward and removed the crystal from the pillar and immediately the images flickered before the room got shrouded in darkness again. Just tiny light sparks emerging from the Vigilo’s hand gave away Depheant’s position. They could all hear how the pillar sank back into its place.
The young man whistled a simple tune which could have matched with birds starting to sing during a sunrise and a few seconds later a white, unnatural light lit up the room. It turned out to be a large round aula, with simple yet smooth benches carved from the rocks on several levels surrounding them. Perhaps this used to be a sort of meeting place where the Tuigan gathered on important occassions? It sure seemed big enough to hold at least a few hundred people. Everything seemed made from the same and strange, dark rock material but for the rest there wasn’t anything that could justify more time for further research. Just the pillar seemed to contain some sort of energy source. Perhaps they could return one day and investigate this further.
He watched Rya taking someone’s hand and after a mumbled prayer witnessed how a small cut was closed. So their magic was working well again.

“Over here, I think I’ve found a way out,” Pheobe said,”… which seems much easier than getting in.” Her hand was hovering over some handle near the shape of a door, lined in the wall.

Blaine and Depheant nodded almost simultanously and with a click Pheobe operated the handle and a large door opened which gave sight to the first passage where they had entered this underground ghost city.

“Blaine, I like you to take command again,” Depheant said.

The Moonblade nodded with a serious expression and after the wounded were healed, the survivors of the Nuarari expedition readied themselves to move towards the pipe leading them back to the gigantic cave.

"Here..." a soft voice sounded behind him.

The Vigilo turned around and saw Pheobe holding out something to him.

"I found these during our stay around here, perhaps they can help you with your... studies...," she placed two thin books in his hands, the cover and the pages made of a leather-like material.

He tilted his head but just when he was about to open them, Blaine announced they were moving out. He slid the books in his backpack. Later.

The group started to march.

Depheant noticed the feeling of fear was gone and though he longed for fresh air after what seemed days underground, he had no trouble at all with this last part of the journey. He felt… comfortable, and when he looked around he noticed the same thing with the others. Weapons were sheathed, people started to talk softly with each other about what they had witnessed… like they were returning from one exciting story. Well, they were, weren’t they? They survived, they were the strongest and no one could hurt them. They were like gladiators… no, real Knights who had returned from a major vict…

Suddenly he stopped and shook his head. No, they had returned from a terrible adventure were many brothers and sisters were lost. He looked up at the backs of the others who just kept on walking, cheery. Then he noticed Blaine and Pheobe stopping too and looking at him. For a second his mind came to a stop, his thoughts floating around like the pieces of a puzzle he tried to make. Then… he widened his eyes.
“Stoopp!!!!” But it was already too late. Like mice they walked into the trap.

While the pair of warriors in front were stabbed, the pair behind them was still laughing about a joke someone behind them just told. They realised the danger the moment blood sprayed in their faces, and unfortunately their hands reached their weapons too late. The laughing faded, the joke was over as the next pair of Moonblades fell.

“We’re under attack!!” … that wasn’t a needless cry as the ones in the back still had no idea what just happened. Blades sang as the metal was unsheathed. Depheant and Blaine pressed themselves forward while Pheobe remaind in the back to prevent attacks from the rear, if any. High, resonating sounds of metal hitting people filled the pipe.

“For immortality!!”

Depheant widened his eyes at their attackers warcries. About twenty feet from the exit the group got ambushed by a group of black clad warriors, fighting two by two with the Nuararians. Depheant immediately recognised their type. Assassins…
Someone was really desperate to erase them from this world, but he wouldn’t allow it. He noticed he was getting angry as their opponents fought like cowards. Ambushes, poison, they had no honour and just seemed fanatic murderers. This would stop, right now! He pushed a Moonblade aside and tried to assist the woman in front of him by sending out a blinding light with one simple tune. It worked, except it blinded almost everyone. Some lost balance and fell on their backs. For a moment combat seemed broken.
Well, not exactly.

Blinded or not, with his big sword in both hands Blaine leaped forward between and over his men and lashed out with his blade, unable to see what he hit. A few times the metal connected with rock, creating sparkles around the mighty Moonblade who clearly also had enough. But a few times a cry filled the corridor as another assassin fell. Depheant followed his example and joined in the charge which lead them out back into the open cave. His sight wasn’t fully restored yet but with the exchange of a few simple words both men knew were their ally was standing. Their blades formed a deadly spin and a wall of death to anyone who wanted to approach them as they moved out. The rest of the group followed them rapidly and it was Pheobe, somehow with a flawless sight and armed with a small crossbow who took out the final assassin.

As it dawned on them that were no more enemies to be defeated, Depheant leaned over panting heavily. He glanced up at Blaine who just nodded to him before turning to the others.

"Right, it seems we were expected here indeed. And my guess is up there more will be waiting, probably guarding or killing our horses. How much I would love to grant all of you a well deserved rest under the Watchful Eyes of our Mother, how much I have to advice against such. Time is of the essence. We haven't found the artifact yet and we are in danger, so I will ask you all for an additional effort... and probably the remainder of the energy you have left." His voice grew a little softer towards the end.

Depheant noticed how he exchanged a few glances with Pheobe who stood quietly not far from him. He rubbed his hair.


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:53 pm

*** Base camp ***

Two weeks later…

Depheant overlooked the page in his journal.

We got out easily but as expected the horses had been partially slaughtered while others were stolen. A quick scouting mission learned us that a few of the group that had attacked us waited for their companions’ return a mile from the entrance. We were able to overwhelm them rather quickly and fortunately no other Nuararians fell in that action.
It had been enough, more than enough. The what was first a secret Nuararian chapter here in Cuhanna had been reduced significantly only by this mission. Barely fiteen would return to the base camp near Maslam.
With the supplies recovered from our foes we once more made it through the vast, scorching High Desert, a place where I for a moment wondered about my life. I realise my dreams and the dreams I had as a child are an important part. But setting goals and being realistic is too, along with experience.
The mission here in Cuhanna has it all. I want to protect and help the Nuararians. I know what we are after, why and what we are trying to achieve. Next to that, what I have been going through at the side of these fine people will leave a mark on our daily lives.
And that makes it for some reason pleasant to be here, despite the misfortune and the thermal discomfort.

He rubbed his hair and closed his diary when the tent was opened.

“Vigilo, may we enter?” Blaine’s voice sounded.

“Eh, sure, come in please.”

Rya who had been sleeping not far from him, shook up when the visitors entered the tent. They took place on the cushions, Pheobe not far from him with her sandy gold eyes locked on him.

“Hm, sorry to interrupt you both in the middle of the night but we may have an important turn in our event.”

“Oh? New information?” Depheant asked while putting his book aside.

“Pretty much,” Blaine continued,” Our agents have returned and we are being summoned to investigate and strike.”

Both Rya and Depheant widened their eyes a bit.

“Strike at whom?” the priestess asked.

Pheobe glanced at the woman,” We believe the ones who have been throwing a spanner in the works are part of a well-organized bunch… a cult to be more precise. And clearly unwilling to give up the Artifact.”

Blaine took over,” We also have a suspicion about their goals and origin, but I’m not certain yet.”


Pheobe locked her eyes back on the Vigilo,” There is a chance Colothian worshippers are behind this.”

Rya brought her hand to her mouth and turned a bit pale,” By the Mother.. they only care about destruction, crave for instability and the disruption of civil society.”

“Hm, well, .. we think the Artifact may help them with that.” Blaine said.

“Not if we pull it out of their hands…,” Depheant said.

That earned him a faint smile from Pheobe.

He blushed a bit and continued,” So… investigate, strike… where and when?”

Blaine looked him in the eye,” Here in Maslam, … in a few hours. You better get prepared, Vigilo.”


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:54 pm

*** Preparing ***

Even at night the air in the city was warm. Sand stone walls which had been absorbing sun light all day, now slowly released a still somewhat oppressive heat to the surrounding atmosphere. The climate here seemed really consistent. At least throughout the duration of his stay in this country. Hot, dry and stuffy, and the blazing sun made it undesirable to spend much time outdoors during the day. Except at night and when in the desert, where it got downright cold due the lack of clouds and humidity, sometimes even freezing.

The past week he had been training a little with Blaine… who wasn’t much of a discussion partner. Granted… the Nuararians had been through a lot, and made terrible sacrifices, so he understood the now surly and reticent Blaine. But the man took his duties serious and he seemed determined to turn Depheant in hell of a Moonblade next to a Knight.

The Vigilo kneeling behind a few barrels pricked up his ears and waited for the sign. They had had to wait till far past midnight before they could even consider start making their move as the local population tended to remain outdoor for a long while after sunset, even the children.
Evenings also seemed to be the usual time for the local ladies of pleasure to perform their ‘acts’. More than once he and some of the other Nuararians had been addressed by these very exotic looking ladies as they had moved through the city. Luckily their cover was never blown thanks to their disguise and control of the language.
As for Depheant, he had learned the basics of quite a few languages during childhood on board of his father’s ship. Among those the Cuhannan dialect which he eventually mastered during the past months.

When they traveled between the tents and buildings towards their current position, Depheant had been fascinated by the people willing to live in this rather harsh climate and felt sorry for those who didn’t have a choice. Tents and sand-mud houses were their only refuge from the blazing sun. In a hostile desert like the High Desert, most people were nomadic and moved frequently in search of water, flowing robes and various headgear protecting their heads and eyes. One of the reasons life had been able to take root here in Maslam and led to the concept of a city, were probably the deep wells that had been dugged over the past centuries as well as a steady spring located in the middle of the capital.

Depheant didn’t had the chance yet to visit the city earlier. Perhaps after the mission…
But when he earlier observed its activities from a distance, he did learn caravans from the coastal region supplied the city’s inhabitants with fresh vegetables grown in the rich soil there. Usually they arrived a few hours before dawn in order to get their goods well-timed on the local markets. He also learned those merchants probably traded strictly within a barter-based economy. Cause right before sunset they left again with the exchange products. Very often… slaves…

For a moment his thoughts drifted back to the Tuigan ruines and to what they had discovered there. If the Elvenkind never had established such firm foothold in Cuhanna... local life and economic activities would probably have looked completely different. The Tuigan sure had left their mark on these lands, despite the fact they disappeared a very long time ago. From what he had read thus far in the notebooks Pheobe had found, Depheant understood that Tuigan were responsible for quite some demographic changes. What if they never had come to these regions? In what other ways would the Cuhannans have evolved, and would they have advanced in any fundamental respect? What general variables might the Cuhannans have changed on their own?

It made this land despite the heat so interesting and Depheant knew he would return here one day, perhaps with some sort of expedition after he had communicated his findings to the Argentum Vigilo and the temple of Nuarari. Perhaps he could hire some people and…

A low whistle sounded between the sand-colored alley walls. Depheant rose to his feet and drew his falchion. It was time...

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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 9:55 pm

*** The 'warehouse' ***

Someone whistled...

The signal had been given. Dark capes swirled just as an eddy of wind gusted down the alley. Depheant and the Nuararian assault group moved close near the smooth sandstone walls. Streetlights had been cut down or extinguished by their scouts moments earlier.
He also noticed the air was getting as cold as a ghoul’s soul, and the closer they got to the square-shaped building the more an overwhelming desire to give up overtook him. As if his will to live was steadily sapped away. It was then when he noticed the silence. The area surrounding the building was just... crypt-quiet.

His lips parted to mention it but he noticed he somehow couldn’t. Whether that was due fear to ruin the operation prematurely or something else was hard to tell. But just when he wanted to poke the one in front of him about it, the group stopped near the main entrance sealed by huge twin doors. Everything seemed to happen fast but also soundless, and Depheant could swear he even hadn’t overheard a click of the bobby pin forcing the tumblers up right before the door was pushed open. Unless… the door hadn’t been locked...

The group slipped silently forward into the building and as agreed upon earlier they wouldn’t split up before the groundfloor was searched. Inside only a few torches were lit, yet they emitted enough light to give an impression on the warehouse’s insides. According to Nuararians’s informant the place was in reality one of the headquarters of the cult they had been dealing with, and according to their source the artifact would be here.

Depheant had entered as thirth and looked around.
Grain was piled high at the far end and on the other end were bales of silk ready for distribution. That in its own should have been warning enough, if only one of them had been an experienced merchant…
Large wooden crates were scattered all over the place and the light of the torches cast long elongated shadows against the walls.

A slight yet distinctive odor of rats started to fill his nosetrils as they started to spread out over the entire floor. The place felt still, heavy with expectation and foreboding. For a moment Depheant wondered if the others sensed it too. He looked at his companions yet no one seemed to show any intention of aborting this mission.
Even though it felt as if they were like rats entering a maze…

The groundfloor consisted of four rooms, all empty, and one large centrally located storage room from which they had entered. There was a stairs going up and a door that was locked, probably leading to the basement.

Weapons that were still sheathed were muffled with cloth and they had changed their plate armours for studded leather versions. As secrecy and absolute silence were constantly maintained, Blaine indicated with his fingers to Pheobe to move her group up to the next floor while he and the others would watch their back. Not really a senseless precaution given their earlier experiences with this cult…

There was no comfort to be found in the fact that the groundfloor seemed deserted as to him the entire place oozed the coldness of a tomb. And it was when stair treads creaked as the first group moved up, a nightmare came true…

Lids of the crates on the groundfloor were smacked open, and with inhuman speed dark forms with pale handsome faces leaped on the Nuararians, overwhelming them even in their state of alertness. With piercing savage screams claws sliced effortlessly through armour like knives through butter, tearing chunks of flesh from limbs and chests and within the first seconds of the ambush, three Moonblades had fallen in lifeless heaps on the ground.

Armours flexed and metal groaned as the remainder of the group, protected by wards of their deity managed to defend theirselves. Depheant was part of the group that would have secured the ground level and thus found himself in the middle of the ambush side by side with Blaine. Their situation was dire. Depheant thrusted his blade forward the moment he saw an opening and pierced one of the dark forms right in the heart. The man screamed and staggered backwards, before imploding soundlessly, spraying dark unholy blood everywhere.

The Vigilo gasped,” Vampires…”

Their attackers roared in fury as one of them was eliminated and seemed only to increase their efforts in order to wipe the Nuararians out of this existence.

Depheant whistled a short tune that heightened the group’s senses beyond normal and even though the vampires moved and attacked with inhuman speed, for a moment everything around him seemed to slow down just a little. Now he and his companions were able to intercept the blows and even return some. At least for a short while...

Red eyes filled with hatred flicked in the Vigilo’s direction, sensing that he was the source of their frustration of not being able to kill off the rest as easily as their first victims.

Depheant ignored it and instead concentrated on his defense, letting his muscles settle into the rhythm of swordplay. But it was all to clear to him they were fighting for their lives as the vampires were out for more blood.

Next to him Blaine lashed out with his scimitar, the blade eating through one of his opponents as easily as air, practically cutting the vampire in two.

The scent of more blood from one of their own, splattering all over the place turned the remaining vampires into fanatics. They pushed hard, clearly convinced they could wipe out the Nuararian intruders, if not by force then by endurance.

Since there was no other way out the Moonblade officer yelled,” Retreat up the stairs! Pheobe! Grab a few and secure the next floor!”

Depheant risked a glance over his shoulder at the other group. A claw missed his facial skin by perhaps half an inch, an almost penalty for dropping his guard for less than a second.


He bashed his small shield in the vampire’s face and resumed the withdrawal on the stairs… step by step… by step...



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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 10:11 pm

(Author's note : We are 2015 when I take a break and 2016 when I continue the story, fitting in a small storytelling part that fills up a sort of time jump gap.)

The party fought the members of the vampire worshipping cult and Pheobe for a moment ran into the hands of one of them. Only he released her after picking up her scent and confused left the scene. The other cultists and vampires either were slain or fled. Depheant found in the basement the item the Nuarari party was after, sort of since he only saw a glimpse of a device that was said it could influence people's dreams over a long distance, as well as plant certain ideas and opinions into their heads. As soon as he entered the place a big oil and fire trap was activated, and before he could even get close to the item, the entire basement was on fire. They made it out in time before the entire building collapsed and the item high likely was destroyed. Some of the Nuararians returned from Cuhanna to Dasaria, Pheobe and Depheant among them.

Months later Pheobe was sent back on another mission to Cuhanna while Depheant remained home, performing his role as Vigilo. Not long after, Pheobe along with the rest of her team were declared KIA as they were slaughtered during the mission. Finally, merely weeks after this terrible news reached Dasaria, Depheant and a new team were assigned to investigate, but it ends up with some of them stepping into an ingenious trap..............

*** Coming home ***

A vague sense of familiarity washed over him as he boarded the ship. As if something just… ‘clicked’.

Maybe it was the fairly strong wind blowing through the rigging, or the reeling noises of the sails being prepared. Maybe it was the highly detailed and lengthy sound of the creeking deck, or perhaps that slightly sulfury scent with just a pitch of green and briny finish. It could also have been that massive dark-gray rain-cloud a few degrees above the horizon.

He was the last one to board the ship for Cuhanna as all the others were already waiting on deck. Moonblade lieutenant Blaine and his dark haired wife dressed up in traveler’s clothes, priestess Rya who smiled softly at him, Jaron, another Moonblade officer he had met earlier and second in command once back in the desert lands.

Depheant looked around. There were a few more familiar faces like,... Maven, the petite mage girl who had been involved in the cave ceiling accident during their previous mission. Next to her and rather close stood the blonde-haired Sable, a somewhat sneaky Moonblade woman who had assisted them in the assault on the cult’s headquarters in Maslam, and who winked at Deph as their eyes met. He witnessed how the tall woman slid an arm around the young mage. “Vigilo… we are -both- happy to see you again,” she grinned unabashed.

Blaine just shook his head disapprovingly.

Depheant swallowed and blushed before quickly looking at the others, politely inclining his head.
Then there was Brenner, the tough and muscled sergeant with whom he had trained in the camp near the capital of Cuhanna,... and Heathcliff, an easily irritated man which Depheant didn’t like due his nature but whom was an excellent sword fighter, a deadly whirlwind if you like.
He inclined his head in respect to Depheant though and said,” Well met again, Sentinel.”

He nodded to a few more faces among the Nuararian ranks only then to find the little person in front of him. Depheant kneeled and smiled a bit,” You ready for the big adventure?”

With big eyes the child looked back at him but then she embraced him. “Thank you, Deph…” Emma whispered softly.

Blaine grumbled,” Do you really think where we are going is a place for a child?”

Rya eyed Blaine and shook her head, but that didn’t stop Blaine.

“You still have a chance now to leave her here in safety, Vigilo.”

Blaine’s wife’s hand was already going over her husband’s arm in an attempt to prevent him uttering even more deprecatory remarks but then a voice sounded from behind him, from someone leaning against the cargo.

The voice sounded like honey with whiskey, it packed a punch. But the words were not sweet. “What makes you so certain that the child may not have her own part to play, Moonblade? A child still dares to dream. A child can see things that adults will overlook. A child will see things with a different perspective because they can. I would not dismiss her so easily.”

Blaine rolled his eyes and considerably irritated looked over. But when his lips parted to say something, it was his Rosie who prevented him from going further just by brushing over his arm and entwining her fingers with his.

“Fine fine…you your way, Tamsin,” he grunted somewhat.

“Oh understand. This will be -my- way.” The child got a wink. “Us adults haven’t been doing the best of jobs handling this...maybe we need a little dreamer to aid.”

Brenner grinned slightly in Tamsin's direction.

Depheant looked over at the red-haired woman, one of the newcomers in this team who would assist as their scout. Once more he bowed lightly before saying,“ Alright… I guess we are good to go then.”

He turned over to the captain and nodded. The anchor ropes were cast off and minutes later they were heading out to the open sea and towards the dark clouds at the horizon. Soon the wind started to tear harder and harder at the sails and the waves all around them got crested with white foam. Despite the farewells he had been going through a weak smile appeared on Depheant’s face. His hand gripped tight around the railing as the ship’s deck began to rise and fall. The sound of water splashing on deck before trickling back into the ocean felt like music to his ears. Gravity was so much different out here. Was this what coming home felt like?

He looked in front of him where unstoppable currents and unimaginable volumes of briny water awaited them. A small hand from behind gripped his and Depheant turned to look at Emma.

She looked up with such adoring eyes. The child squeezed his hand and whispered,” Thanks… daddy…”

Speechless the Vigilo blinked briny tears from chestnut eyes…

Cuhanna, one month later…

Inside the tomb it was as cold and quiet as a mauseleum. Depheant looked around as the party of Nuararians slowly followed him, one by one trickling in after a long passage through a narrow corridor. There had been an impenetrable chilling blackness when the Vigilo entered the place as second, right behind the redhead encased in black leather. Emma and Blaine had been behind him and only one more time the man had muttered words of disapproval about bringing such a young child with them on this mission. A quick fierce glance from Tamsin however had silenced the man. And after all, Emma had proven useful, her little hands being the only ones small enough to reach for that switch hidden in the rock wall. Thanks to a child the party had been able to resume their mission.

Underfoot loose stones shifted, twisting their ankles in random unpredictable directions and in spite of the magical light the Vigilo had created none of them was able to perceive other walls but the one from which more Nuararians were still emerging.
They moved carefully and in silence, especially after a few hours earlier have come across the place where Pheobe and her party had been butchered. Back there they had stopped a moment and held a small ceremony for the fallen. It had proven one of the most difficult moments in the Vigilo’s life as well as in Emma’s. But he, the child and the other Nuararians had to recover quickly as the mission required an ending.

While they were searching the enormous place, a few tracing the wall behind them and some others standing guard, no one had attention for Emma who had become one with the shadows and scouted a bit just outside the circle of the light cast by Depheant. Well… until…

Depheant turned his head as his superb hearing picked up the sound of metal scratching and being lifted from stone. In horror he had to witness how the girl who considered him as a father picked up a helmet from the floor.

“Emma! Nooo!!!”

Depheant was fast, with Tamsin being even faster. Heads were turned as the two adults leaped over to the girl who looked up startled and dropped the helmet from her hands.
The moment the metal object with a loud clang crushed onto the floor a flash of the whitest light erupted from it, searing into the eyes of those who had looked in the direction of the child. There was also a side effect to it, something which had their muscles freezing in place yet filling them with such a pressure as they all wanted to run but simply couldn’t. For a moment it was as if the world stopped and they had just become statues unable to perform any actions.

And then suddenly the light vanished as fast as it had been applied. It took a bit before the first regained their vision. Blaine being one of the first was also the first who noticed some people were missing,... the Vigilo, Tamsin and the child being among them..


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 10:13 pm

*** Life after all? ***

About a year ago...

It was if a gust of wind blew him in a storm-tossed sea and his sky became overshadowed with an unseen blackness as waves devoured their quarry greedily. He was sucked down in this pool of whatever it was, darkness pushing down on his body from all sides. He struggled, disorientated as he was and fought to get back to the surface from where he was being ripped away. But there was just no leverage to be found and the dark substance simply engulfed him. In the end he could not else but to give into and let the persisting phenomenon take him...

Rumors about a message delivered at Knightshome are spread in Ravenswatch, and point in the direction of a moonblade stationed in Ravenswatch.

Sir, Dame, With considerable sorrow and a very heavy heart, I, a member of the Church of Nuararia wish to inform You about the disappearing of one of Your Knights. After having served our Church in an outstanding way, and having contributed to more than one mission important to our hearts, I wish to inform You that the Knight-Aspirant and Moonblade known as Depheant Makepeace has gone missing in action during his latest quest in Cuhanna. His disappearance along with a few others has been carefully investigated and much to our regret this investigation has proven unsuccessful. We do not exclude anything but after more than one scrying attempt it is as if sir Depheant and the others have ceased to exist in this world. A more detailed report in regard to this mysterious disappearance will follow as soon as our brothers and sisters have returned. Signed Xar Merran Moonblade-officer on Night-Duty Ravenswatch wrote:Sir, Dame,

With considerable sorrow and a very heavy heart, I, a member of the Church of Nuararia wish to inform You about the disappearing of one of Your Knights.
After having served our Church in an outstanding way, and having contributed to more than one mission important to our hearts, I wish to inform You that the Knight-Aspirant and Moonblade known as Depheant Makepeace has gone missing in action during his latest quest in Cuhanna.
His disappearance along with a few others has been carefully investigated and much to our regret this investigation has proven unsuccessful. We do not exclude anything but after more than one scrying attempt it is as if sir Depheant and the others have ceased to exist in this world.

A more detailed report in regard to this mysterious disappearance will follow as soon as our brothers and sisters have returned.


Xar Merran
Moonblade-officer on Night-Duty

---- meanwhile -----


H... hello...?

Depheant opened his eyes. The Vigilo blinked a few times at the light background as he stretched out his fingers, touching and sensing something that reminded him of his own uncombed, always messed up hair. He turned his head and his eyes met blue-green unkempt grass, waving and rustling in a gentle breeze. That bluish tinge the grass had was something he associated with seasides. His fingers clutched at a few grass stalks and it appeared they were coarse and tough. His consciousness slowly restored as his other senses started to pick up things as well. The air he inhaled had this salty, seaweed smell and in the distance he overheard the rhythm of calm waves crashing upon stones.

More and more details started to seep in. Sensing the moist green blades between his fingers and his damp shirt were an indication it was somewhere around dawn. He turned his gaze slowly back up and noticed birds flying and gliding in a bright, clear, blue summer sky. The seagulls seemed to squawk and screech constantly even as the flock diminished in the distance. He winced as he pushed himself into sitting position, his body feeling as if he had been keel hauled a few times. Whatever happened, it was something he had survived.

He rubbed his hair and looked around. It was as if awakening after a dream, his brain transferring faint flashes of memories in his mind. People, places, events... lovers...

In the distance he perceived something that looked like coastal sand dunes on a rocky coast with here and there a touch of vegetation. The smell of sea salt was now full on his face and an ocean stretched out behind those rocks like a darkblue blanket, alive and moving, rolling and folding over itself majectically. Slowly he rose to his feet and immediately sensed how the sun shone warm upon his neck and damp shirt.

He squeezed his eyes shut. Wait a moment… he hadn’ been alone, right? There were others, others with whom he had been in that ancient place. Gods! Emma! The Vigilo turned around and by what he saw next his mouth fell open, literally...

Depheant Makepeace - Tales of a young man - Page 3 Cloud_strife___advent_children_by_happylilsquirrel-d2v88bf


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 10:15 pm

*** Alien ***

Depheant was getting desperate, his hair already greatly messed up and it wasn't even noon yet.

The city he had explored showed a lot of similarities with cities he had been in before but he didn't recognize any of the buildings nor its coast line. The people around here didn't understand a word of what he said, and their language was unlike anything he had ever heard before. He was alone in an alien world, unable to express his most desperate feelings. He wanted to find other people he knew, things he recognized, and more than anything he wanted to go home. It was hard to remain calm and although he had managed so far, his next discovery would have him break and weep like a child who just lost his parents in death.

Outside the city gates, out of people's sight the Vigilo had dropped to his knees, the sight of a large wrinkled map open in front of him making him feel as if all the warmth of his body had just seeped out of him into the very earth below, leaving behind a cold empty husk. The physical pain when his loss fully dawned on him by staring at it... too much to bare. A boiling fury welled up in him and he screamed at the sky, shaking his fists before falling on top of the map, tears covering his handsome tanned face which he buried in his hands. The overwhelming grief washing over him wave after black wave crushed the young bard until he could hardly breathe. His heart bled when he whispered her name, a name he had great difficulty with in allowing it to pass through his lips... as if the best part ever in his entire life just got savagely ripped out of him.


Weeks passed...

Starlight blinked through the leaves that roofed the edge of the creek. A soft murmuring that had been drifting over from a nearby stream pooring itself into the blackish water was suddenly drowned out by a melody rising up from strings that were playfully pulled. There was no wind disturbing the long grass nearby, nor the bare yellow branches overhead of willows that spread expansively around the open spot. Blond hair was falling unkempt over his brown eyes, and he briefly bit his lower lip that was curved as if in pain before words finally yet slowly started to tumble from his lips.

They were flowing and beautiful, but to the ones listening completely incomprehensible. Though, he only had barely disturbed the air with a few strummed chords or soft conversations all around him fell quiet, heads turning in his direction. Not that he noticed. The bard in middle of the circle continued with such ravishing skill, that little by little his spectators failed to resist the melancholy tide that seemed to have submerged this mysterious, foreign artist. He made those strings languish under his fingers in a way that was so universal... and at the same time so typical to him.

He played them with gentle force, and people watched him, frozen in their doings. They didn’t understand any of the words he pronounced, so maybe it was then because of the familiarity of the way how he used his voice. They were all experiencing the rare gift he had of stirring powerful emotions in many through his music. The swelling song he delivered to his audience with fingers that played the lute so carelessly... clearly stole many hearts.

It was only when the music faded that he restored the spirit and the senses to the people and the place from which he had stolen them. But not without leaving a few tears of astonishment that had sprung up to the eyes of the ladies present, sitting motionless looking at him with slightly parted and dry lips. Only he didn’t see them for he could only see someone else in his mind.

Seemingly looking lost in thought the strange yet talented foreign bard rubbed his hair...


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 10:23 pm

*** Like a nomad ***

He had found himself only welcome in this caravan because these people seemed truly an outcast group. Foreigners, strangers…like him, sort of. Now, it may be a stereotypical perception but though they were similar to him, all human with the normal human behaviour, they seemed different at the same time...

Their skin color ranged from olive white to very dark, their hair mostly black but there were a few reds and blonds to be spotted among them as well. In their daily life style they made no attempts to conceal their roots or who they were. Or... as if those gaudily painted wagons pulled by an extraordinary variety of horse breeds was a demonstration of their very colorful, multicultural existence.

A beautiful dark haired gypsy with a cream colored skin, and lips as full as only dreams can create, had been watching over him... and taking ‘care’ of him. With that, she had probably taken interest in him as well. Attempts to get an intelligible conversation going haven’t had the desired effect yet. Especially not to her as far as he could tell. But just like it was with his music, some things were just universal and it was all too clear she was up for some romance. He knew her name, she his. Thus far that was it. And she even pronounced it with this strange, unique accent, like as if his name were a tongue twister.

Thus their communication was limited to a range of simple hand gestures which -granted- had grown spontaneous over the weeks. A lot of their activities and actions were similar to the ones he knew. Cooking, taking care of the animals, blacksmithing, washing clothes, hunting the lands. It was all similar and therefore easily done. Him not just sitting back in resignation because of his own situation made that he could count on a lot of their sympathy, especially from the one named Zinara. But their rituals, the gods they seemed to worship, and the to him confusing way of communicating and rules about it, told him he had ended up in a very, very strange place. It all felt like he would need a decade or more to adapt.

After handing over the lute to the old man from whom he had borrowed it, he noticed Zinara moving behind him, ready to escort him to his tent. And to make sure when there was anything he required... she could see to it that he received it, he thought. When he looked up he blushed nearly scarlet under the admiring looks cast from all sides of the circle and he quickly rose to his feet, dusting off the grass from his rear. Zinara, her face warm gold in the light of the campfire, smiled beautifully and motioned him to follow, the sway in her hips making him aware of the roundness of her thighs.

He groaned under his breath. How could he ever make it clear to her that it wasn’t going to work?


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 10:23 pm

*** Too dark ***

Several weeks later he found himself parting ways with the gypsies, and with that, with the ‘accommodating’ Zinara as well. The moment it had dawned on her that he wanted to leave the caravan, she had been all over him, including at night. But he refused her company even after she had revealed a very... very wishful body to him. Frankly, he felt sorry for her but there was only one face he could think of right now. And even though he now months later had come to the conclusion he may never ever see -her- again for the rest of his life, he wouldn’t give up on his feelings for they have kept him going so far. The very thought of her had been the incentive for trying to find a way home. He was convinced that these feelings he had for her wouldn’t end until the moment his body ceased to function and his soul would return to whatever comes after in this strange world. For that was what it was.

After studying dozens of maps he could only come to the conclusion that he was further away from home than he had wanted to admit at first. Even though it had been the stars and constellations overhead that convinced him from night one -and reminding him all the nights after- nothing stopped him from searching for proof to demonstrate his first hypothesis was wrong. So far no luck though. During the nights, which he now called his ‘dark moments’, he could sense his love for her riding underneath it all. The very thought of her was like solid ground steadying him. But not too long. During the moments he looked up at the night sky, he allowed a tiny inner door to open only to savor those old feelings of joy and passion, of love and happiness that had made him feel so strong, making him tingle right down to his bones. But it was like he was feeding both inner angels as well as demons.

Depheant tugged at his cloak when he turned to the city’s twinkling lights before him. Either he had been hallunicating or he was really being watched. He glanced over his shoulder. As he peered into the darkness he tried to shake off the thought of a leering presence of some sort entity that made the hair on his neck stand up tall. It was also a strangely familiar feeling, one he had experienced for the first time back home, during the night when Pheobe’s blade disappeared from his quarters. He had blamed his mind playing tricks on him but the weapon was never found. Stolen, probably, so he assumed. His heartbeat quickened when he recalled that the news of her death had reached him days after. Coincidence? He shook his head to himself and sighed. Skin with the smoothest texture, in the moonlight so pale that it was practically transparent. He shook his head once more to himself. She was gone. And this night was just getting too bloody dark.

When his brain told him once more he was being watched in a barely perceptible way, he turned his head to check. And when he said ‘hello’, no answer came but a cold breeze swirling around his head... playing with his hair...

Depheant Makepeace - Tales of a young man - Page 3 Darkness


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 10:24 pm

*** Please be here ***

He frowned as he moved his thumbs and forefingers, his facial expressions shifting just as rapidly as his hands created other shapes in the air between him and the girl behind the bar.

The blonde batted her long, dark eyelashes at him when she created a reply using her own digits... and added something on top of that as she wettened her lips with the tip of her tongue.

It didn’t take any knowledge of the sign language he had been taught by the gypsies to ‘draw’ his reply. With a wave of his hands he expressed his thoughts, telling her it was no use. Then, he shook his head once as if to underline that and grabbed the key from the counter.

The girl snickered as she perceived the increased redness on the bard’s cheeks.

Her name was Violet, and more than that he didn’t want to learn about her now. Tiredly he climbed up the stairs and unlocked the door of what would be his room for a while. It was on the third floor and he kinda had taken it cause it was cheap -as not many liked the flight-, and Violet had promised him a very nice view. He plopped down on the elevated porch and rubbed his hair as he glanced over his shoulder at the door. Coming to think of it, she probably had meant something entirely different with that ‘view’.

He popped the cork from the bottle he was holding, poured a little of it into a glass and then looked from the glass to the bottle. He shrugged, placed the glass next to him, and then just drank straight from the bottle. Lowering it from his mouth and wiping his chin with the back of his hand, he mumbled.

“Things just couldn’t get more horrible I guess. The only person I can understand here is myself, and -only-... when I’m talking to myself, out loud.” With a sigh he placed the bottle against his lips and took another swig. “You really had to go out there and try fix things up, didn’t you? While you had also all those nice things at home. Gods, Deph. Today really must be the day you are the least proud of who you have become. You are failing as the knight you should be, and there is no hope to win back whatever you had. You’re just piling failure on top of failure, and you are heartbroken as well. Just as if to make matters worse, now you are also starting to reget things that felt wrong as well as things that felt amazingly good?”

Slowly he became aware of how slurred his speech had sounded and he gazed at the bottle in his tanned hand. No wonder. This hadn’t been the first one today. The Vigilo shrugged and took another swig before he swung to his side and, using the wall as a brace, he clambered to his feet. He made his way to the bed, his movements uncoordinated, his body clearly struggling to maintain balance. Like as if his legs were listening to series of commands -not- given by his own brain. Left and right it goes until he finally bumped with the bed and flipped over on the mattress . To his mind however it was as if he jumped headlong into darkness.

His fingers started to trace the pillow next to him.

She was here… and they were not here but there, in the warm wet sand with the moonlight pouring onto that amazing skin of hers. They were together again in that moment, looking into each other’s eyes while waves of a gentle kind filled holes in beach sand surrounding their form. He was just in time to see how a breeze tousled her hair, a few strands being blown forward over her forehead and eyes... right before her lips captured his.

The Vigilo groaned and rolled from his belly to his side.

She was here… oohh yes… she most definitely was… here…


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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 10:25 pm

*** Never giving up hope ***

Months later…

The hardness of his elbow rammed his opponent with considerable force in the upper stomach. Then, his upper arm swung upwards and the back of his balled fist connected brutally with the man’s nose, breaking it with a nauseating sound, and knocking the man backwards with a shriek of surprise and pain. The crowd all around in the outdoor arena gave an uproar of approval while a judge walked around the circle, inspecting both fighters with a careful eye.

His opponent landed on his back in a cloud of dust and as the blonde man moved over him, he held up his hand as if to fend off both the light of the burning sun and the next series of blows. Bloodshot eyes stared up with a look of awe and anxiety at the defeater, and the man on the ground shook his head once, indicating he had enough.

The blonde man nodded and grabbed him by his wrist, helping him back on his feet. This was getting rather standard, a routine he had been doing and experiencing in the past few weeks. The crowd erupted in cheers, chanting the name of the victor who offered them a faint smile and a light wave of his hand. A voice sounded from the elevated tribune and he turned his eyes to his benefactor.

Black Garius was the man he was working for now, and though he still couldn’t have a decent conversation with any of the people he had come across, he somehow had managed to hook up with this group of mercenaries who also offered their experience to the public in the form of demonstrations like the one today. On the surface the blonde bard oozed pure confidence, and with the way how that huge blade rested on his shoulder also sex appeal.

It was partially a facade he had managed to built up between himself and everyone else as there really wasn’t anyone around who could help him with his true problems. He had found his life much easier this way than having to deal with dozens of questions in a language he still failed to understand. That didn’t mean he was giving up on it. Not at all, as joining these mercenaries was only a step. Right now he made a lot of coin and acquired the gear he would need for his search.

He stood there silently while his master praised the display of skill. From under his sandy blonde, now somewhat tangled hair he let his eyes briefly roam over the crowd, and that is when another memory struck him. He saw her… standing there amidst those people. And she was smiling at him like on the day of his Trial of Prowess. He smiled faintly back at ‘her’, his heart pounding rapidly when he saw her in his mind’s eye descending towards the arena floor. An anxious, but also at the same time warm feeling invaded his body as he imagined her hands creeping up his chest, her fingers resting on his shoulders. It made his stomach muscles clench with a crazy feeling.

The clapping of the crowd had him snapping out of his daydream, and with a nod he advanced to the tribune in order to claim his reward of the day...

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Post by Admin on Wed May 17, 2017 10:28 pm

*** Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn ***

Almost all his duels had been going alright. Almost. But every now and then one simply bites off more than one can chew on.

He frowned slightly upon his next opponent as it was a lithe young woman with a body that seemed more suited for dancing or even for acrobatics perhaps. She wore a mask that covered her nose and mouth, and her dark clothes seemed a midway between a dancing outfit and some sort of exotic, sleek, wrap belted fighting tunic. She was holding something that looked like a blackish walking stick lightly in both her hands, horizontally, and her attention was on the steelbarred gate in front of them.

As the ringmaster announced the next fight to the audience on the tribune, he gazed at her for a moment, and there was something playful behind the blue eyes of this dark haired woman as she tilted her head back to meet his gaze. Her fingers moved lightning fast but Depheant was able to keep up with the sign language as it thus far seemed the only language he was succesful with.

Not too late yet if you want make a bet. I say three against one I beat you. So you make profit out of your loss. She winked at him.

Depheant blinked. “E-excuse me... milady?”

But the girl only frowned on his reaction as she obviously didn’t understand a word of what he had just blurted out. Depheant moved his own digits in response.

What makes you so sure that I won’t lose my money if I did so? He smirked a bit.

She shrugged. Suit yourself. Don’t blame me after.

Depheant rubbed his hair and glanced once more at her appearance and then at his large blade the servant standing right of him was holding out to him. It was nearly as long as the girl was tall and it almost seemed too cruel to use in this fight.

In his mind’s eye he saw -her- for a moment again. At the time where he first had refused to fight with her, afraid that he might hurt her too greatly. Just outside Ravenswatch she had kicked his butt for that… literally. Luckily for him that moment had taken place -before- Phelan and Amy arrived at that embarrassing scene... otherwise he probably wouldn’t have been a Vigilo for much longer. He smiled weakly and let out a sigh, quickly stowing away his nagging feelings.

No, he would fight this one but…

The blonde bard shook his head, gesturing the servant to grab a much smaller scimitar and a light shield instead. As he accepted those he missed out on the girl’s reaction behind his back. Or... how she rolled her eyes.

Amidst the creak and rattle of chains the gate was finally lifted, the cheers of the anxious crowds drowning out those grinding sounds as the pair approached the gate way. The scent of fresh sawdust and blood shot up his nose fairly strong as the previous duel had ended in a small bloodbath. He motioned to her.
After you…

Thank you, was all she signed with her fingers before she entered the arena rather confidently. He came a little bit behind her, observing how she walked with an elegant stride towards the middle of the circle. Then, he noticed how the crowd wasn’t just chanting his name, but also hers.


Perhaps if he had been able to understand a word of these people’s language, and thus learning anything from the announcements earlier made, he may have had a rough idea of what was lying ahead.
But he didn’t…

He wasn’t stupid either and he understood this was going to be unlike the classic duels he had been into. She was obviously something special and he was on his guard, only he had no idea what to expect.

They offered the ringmaster a nod, and then... the signal was given. That ‘walking stick’ started to spin with the swift movement of the girl’s seemingly nimble fingers and Depheant was so focussed on her weapon that he didn’t see her first move coming. It all happened like as if he were only able to move in slow motion.

Suddenly she rotated fast around her longitudinal axis on one foot, using the tip of her other foot and her staff to throw up a curtain of sand, like as if she were a massive whirlwind. The cloud of dust she created… or had become... wafted towards him. Depheant looked in surprise how her form dissolved in the cloud of beige dust, and at the sight of this his mind warped him back to that time in the High desert of Cuhanna where assassins of a cult had jumped upon him. There, the concealing sand cloud his horse had created saved him and he managed to kill the last one.
No, that wasn’t right. At least not entirely. If it hadn’t been for Pheobe he would have been dead either by the poison they had used, or dehydration. She was the one who truly had saved him.


Dark bark connecting with the side of his arm elicited a cry of acute pain. To the spectators his eyes registered surprise. Surprise of how much pain she could cause with that stick as well as the suddenness and swiftness of her blow. It was if she had materialized in front of him when she struck him. Her eyes were gleaming with fond mockery as she stood there for a moment, signing with her fingers while her staff rotated in her other hand, the graceful, artistic spinning creating a hypnotic effect.

What’s up? You are not paying attention.

He muttered a cry of pain as he rubbed his sword arm and almost wasn’t fast enough to fend off the next attack.

Her blows were just as efficient as the cloud of dust she had produced. The blonde bard realized that she probably would have dispatched him already if he hadn’t started training again a month ago. He whirled though as she attacked him seemingly from all sides at once, his mouth agape with surprise. This wasn’t a regular fight at all and he had no idea where to raise his shield first. She wasn’t just fast, she was like wind racing around his form.

And it didn’t stop there...

Depheant Makepeace - Tales of a young man - Page 3 10d8ac4

Afterwards he probably would realize she was trained to be this quick because it would be too exhausting for someone like her to keep up a fight against a warrior like him.

As she ‘danced’ around him, playing with him and making him look like he were some stationary practice dummy, she quickly disarmed him with a rapid rotation of the staff’s end around his sword arm the moment he swung his blade in a downward arc for her leg. She made it look like it had been a rather pathetic attempt to strike her. Next thing he knew, the girl performed a circle kick, her foot picking up some dust along that landed in his eyes half a second before she nailed the tip of her boot under his chin in beautifully executed high kick. This time it was his turn to go down, and he landed so hard on his back that the air rasped his lungs as he heaved for breath.

One could hear how the audience held their breath right before the burst of applause.

Depheant raised his head some. First he could see only shadows, but his vision restored itself quickly. The girl was looking down upon him. She had pulled her mask down and smiled a wolvish grin as her fingers moved.
You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

So... that’s why the mask…, he signed back as he coughed, his hands reaching for his throat that felt like it had been sand blasted.

She smirked while offering her hand to help him up, and before he knew it... he stood shoulder to shoulder with her facing the cheering crowd. Both warriors waved and left the arena, the courteous bard letting the female victor walk through the gate as first.

This time he didn’t rub his hair though… as he was far too busy rubbing his chin...


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