A creature approaches.
Yes. Yes. Yes. We sense it as well. Should we attack?
No. We sense the one. The one with the voice.
We agree. We do not attack the one with the voice.
Gather around. The one approaches.
Pain. Fear. And this incessant hatred! At times the intensity of the feelings supplanted all other lingering memes in Vizier's mind that he no longer felt his own being; he felt more like a cluster of disembodied thoughts drifting and spreading across space and time. Only his weight periodically pushing back up his own legs reminded him that he indeed had a physical form to manipulate.
There was a time when Vizier remembered he had more of a control over his feelings. He had felt pain, fear, and hatred before, to be sure. But he had more control over them, or at least he had enough control over how to express them. It was difficult now for him to trace back to when exactly that loss of control began. All was known now was that this hatred had taken over him.
As he walked up the incline and into the cave, an army of Tormented demons surrounded him. The ones closer to him stepped up but kept their distance, careful to make way for him to proceed further into the cave. This was as close to a welcome as these creatures were capable of conveying, Vizier thought as he glanced casually at the creatures as he walked through them. They didn't make any noise or attempt to verbally communicate with him. And he had long given up trying to do his part to talk to these creatures. Over time they had established a mutual understanding through subtle means since any verbal intonation were more for his own benefit than to serve any practical purpose. The creatures' hissing were beyond his ability to emulate or comprehend, just as his spoken word was beyond theirs. For whatever reason, he was nevertheless able to communicate with these creatures at some intuitive level. He didn't achieve a total telepathic connection with them—not in such a way that he would consider to approach having actual conversations with them; the link was more primal and basic. He sensed that they for the most part understood simple directions enough to allow him to coordinate their actions. He could even direct them to battle and implement strategies. Despite how draining the experiences were, and how exhausted they left him each time, he could tell that he was making progress in being able to achieve more and more sophisticated control over the creatures. The creatures were capable of discipline and coordination, that he knew for a long time. He saw them in action in the service of Abaddon before, and since then, he had experienced himself the command of that aspect of the creatures, if only rarely. With enough time, he was confident that he could turn them into an army far more powerful than that of the Titans.
He waved his hand to dismiss the creatures, again knowing that the physical gesture had little practical use. But the motion provided a level of comforting familiarity to him. Promptly the Tormented creatures understood enough and started moving outwards to form a defensive perimeter around the cave. Safe deep inside, Vizier returned to his human form and took in a deep breath. With the ever present red aura that acted as the sun, it was never completely dark as the night or bright as those mid-days in Orr. Ideas of day and night no longer made sense in this place. As night was now simply when he had to rest after a period of activity. And this was now his time to rest after a long day.
The Realm had become a much more unpredictable place since the fall of Abaddon. The confused and disorganized groups regressed mostly to relying on their survival instincts and typically fought anything, most often times each other, on sight. Some—like the Margonites—were more coordinated, and at times they managed to merge and combine into larger clusters. But mostly, they too had conflicts between themselves. Vizier had himself fought sizable groups of these Margonites from time to time. At other times, he observed silently as the different groups fought. It was important to observe and learn of each group's characteristics and, perhaps more importantly, its vulnerability.
Staring at one of the creatures quietly pacing around the entrance to his cell, he still didn't understand how he became such that he could command the Tormented demons to do his bidding and carry out his wars. They seemed to have a will of their own when Abaddon was in command. At times they assisted him. At other times they simply ignored him altogether. Now, it seemed he was connected to them somehow, despite the fact that he couldn't carry on the simplest of conversation with them. He sat down and subsequently laid down on the flat rock that had come to be his bed.
Perhaps it was better this way, he thought further as he closed his eyes. Conversation exchanges typically involved an exchange of ideas. And such exchanges were seldom fair; one side would always be getting more out of the exchange than the other. The other would realize this and—to be expected—would not disclose the entirety of the idea. Thus born the prevarications, the omissions, and the deceptions. He would spend all day second-guessing what others told him, and he had to also be sure that he didn't reveal too much of anything that would cost him his leverage in the future. And at the end, much of the exchange would be a waste of time. He could make the case that he had more honest exchanges of thoughts with these creatures than with any of the supposedly learned and articulate peers back in Orr.
Even before he was employed by King Reza, Vizier had always jealously guarded his magic from others. Mystics were plenty in his circle, and the intense competition to be the best was harsh on him over the years. Of course, only the best had the prestige and had his reputation spread around. And if he were lucky, and his dealings with the correct contacts worked out, he may get the king's attention. All that time, he looked at each young ambitious wizard with suspicion. He knew what they all wanted: power and knowledge. His power. They feigned admiration and worship to gain his trust, patiently performing duties if an apprentice would. All they while, they would observe and soak up what they saw and whatever they got their hands on. And when they had acquired what they wanted, they would disappear and move on to the next target. He knew these treachery well, for he too was once a young ambitious young man himself. And he got to where he was through methods that were less than honorable by most standards.
Eventually he did work his way up and into the king's court. And there his power grew even more. Although he did not played a direct role in the plot to eliminate his predecessor, Vizier was aware of the power struggle in the court, culminating to a conspiracy to depose the chief counselor. He knew of the conspirators and their plans, but he wisely stood out of the way and observed. Then, at that last moment, Vizier prompted the counselor of the plot, and a great battle ensued when the conspirators were caught unprepared by a surprise assault by the counselor and his aides. The battle was fierce, but it took place in one of the plotter's castles far from the main castle, without Reza's knowledge. Both sides suffered greatly in the long battle of spells that involved exchanges of all forms of elements and curses while Vizier stood idly by in the dark, watching. And once the time was right, he stepped in and, together with the counselor's aides, easily wiped out the conspirators. The wounded counselor did not have time to express his gratitude and savor his triumph before he too was struck down. Vizier could still remember the surprised look on the counselor's dying eyes as Vizier dealt him the final blow. Vizier was careful to leave no one alive. And so he had the exclusive account of what exactly happened as the news finally reached the king. Shocked at the mutual annihilation of the senior wizards of the circle over a power struggle, but nevertheless impressed by Vizier's account of how he desperately defended the counselor, albeit unsuccessfully, Reza had appointed Vizier the successor to the role of the chief counselor and to rebuild the circle of wizards. And over the years, Reza trusted Vizier enough to consult him on most matters involving magic.
Vizier continued Reza's philosophy of impartial meritocracy in the arts of wizardry. It was a good enough doctrine—provided that one had the luxury to be the one judging. The king himself, being of royalty, of course was spared the reality of living in a life of cut-throat competition. Instead, he reaped the benefit easily enough. For someone in his position, it made perfect sense. Who wouldn't want to have countless others competing for his attention and acceptance? Whether out of ignorance or apathy, the king perpetuated a culture of cold competition throughout the land. Brothers competed against each other. Teachers were suspicious of their students. For in a world where the strong triumphed over the weak, everyone was concerned for his or her own welfare above all else. The determined would reign over the ambivalent. The committed would lead the undecided. Vizier was a byproduct of this, and he dutifully reinforced this environment as he presided over the king's circle of wizards.
Although Reza trusted Vizier, he also conveyed to the counselor in no uncertain terms that, if there were a more powerful and wise wizard available, he would not hesitate to replace Vizier with the superior candidate. After all, it was only fitting that the highly coveted position in the king's court went to the best suitor. Perhaps Reza used similar tactics to keep all his staff on the top of their chosen professions by channeling their own sense for self-preservation. For Vizier, living a life of perpetual uncertainty had made him weary, paranoid, and resentful. To this day, a part of him still felt that most of what eventually became of Orr was justice doled out to its king.
A snore escaped Vizier's nostrils as the slim human frame rested while the Tormented creatures silently patrolled the cave and the perimeters.
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13-07-2009, 11:20 #21
Part III: The Scorned Counselor
Last edited by Qin Li; 13-07-2009 at 11:24.
25-08-2009, 10:06 #22
“Are you certain you're not affected by this new member to the court? You seem distracted.” The Asuran's exaggerated eyes with their completely dark lens, now accentuated by the dimly lit interior of the library, looked more alien than usual. The short creature with his large floppy ears would make an adorable pet for some youngling, Vizier thought.
If only these creatures were not so annoyingly arrogant.
Still, Vizier liked having Noom around. Despite the contemptuous tones, the condescending attitudes, and the fragile but exaggerated sense of pride, the little fellow proved to be a helpful assistance. And most importantly, he was incapable of betrayal. For all their shortcomings, these little creatures—at least to the extent that Vizier had the opportunity to have come in contact with them—impressed him by their seemingly absence of duplicity and deception. Their own pride probably made the thought of having to stoop to the level of deception unbearable, Vizier often joked to himself. Were he not so busy and preoccupied by the duties here in the King's Court deciphering the old scrolls, he would've liked to visit the underground worlds of these creatures.
Noom talked about his home constantly, of course, whenever he felt it necessary to let Vizier know of something else he found that illustrated how the human world was inferior that of his. The underground tunnels and magical teleporting gates that allowed them to instantaneously travel great distances across physical barriers. The magical structures. The miraculous melding of the mechanical with the magical, each amplifying the power of the other. At times Vizier wondered why Noom would bother wasting his time serving as an apprentice in the court; the knowledge from his own world easily rivaled that of Orr's, or any other land of the humans for that matter.
As if reading his mind, the little creature continued while studying the writings on the scroll laid out before him. “Some times I wonder the wisdom of the elders in assigning me to waste my time here.” He turned and blinked at Vizier, as if waiting for some response. “It is doubtful that anything revealed by these scrolls will be comparable to the advances the Asurans have made in the magical realm, let alone enriching it.”
“It must annoy you to have to serve as an apprentice to us bookas.” The taunting smile on Vizier didn't last long before his usual stern countenance returned. “And let me worry about Solassi.” The Asuran almost looked hurt, but Vizier was certain his eyes were deceiving him. “Rest assured, your elders will be impressed by our deciphering and unlocking the ancient scrolls' secrets. Your quest for fame and power will bear fruit, if you manage to finish what you start.”
“I know. I know.” Waving a dismissive hand, Vizier went on before Noom had a chance to respond. “Spare me that speech about you and your father. We both know you desire knowledge and power just like everyone else. You're doing this for yourself as much as for anyone.”
A rushed series of knocking on wood interrupted the conversation as the two turned around. Vizier knew that knock by now. At first it was difficult to constantly be interrupted by the rude gesture, often at the most inopportune moments when he was deep in thought while working on the scrolls. But by now he started getting used to this new magistrate appointed by Reza. While not adept in anything of importance, Solassi nevertheless managed to convince Reza to have him manage the various scholarly activities surrounding the scrolls. While rivals for the court were a constant source of stress, at least Vizier respected most of them. This Solassi, in contrast, had no talent whatsoever. And for the life of him, Vizier couldn't figure out why Reza chose to keep him employed. While this magistrate's ignorance was perhaps matched only by his arrogance, Vizier had bit his tongue thus far for fear of offending the king. After all, he was still an employed hand. If only he had unlocked the secret behind the scrolls....
30-09-2009, 09:35 #23
Vizier jolted awake with his eyes next to the roof of the cave, gasping for air. Another dream into the past, he realized as the sweat accumulated and rolled down the side of his face. Closing his eyes and exhaling slowly, he lowered his body down onto the platform below. When exhausted, he sometimes lost track during sleep and levitated uncontrollably. It was one reason, if not the main reason, he decided to rest in an enclosed area.
Ever since that first experience, Vizier knew he needed to confine himself when he slept to keep himself from drifting away into that terrifying sky in the Realm. Just like the best swimmer would drown if he found himself far enough into the sea, it would be easy for him to be lost too far away from the ground to ever return to it. Not many know of the nature of the Realm of Torment. And even less, he imagined, would share the knowledge. And although he wished to learn more about this new home, he would rather leave the risky explorations to others instead of braving the unknown himself. He had learned a long time ago, and had ever since seen it reinforced time and again, that smart men benefited from the fatal mistakes of fools rushing to exploring the dangerous. The wise ones always stayed behind, thinking, and planning how to leverage the knowledge while the lesser men acted. That was the way things were, and that was the way things will always be.
Rising up from the cold slab and stretching a bit, he glanced over to the left where one of the familiar demons was patrolling quietly. It saw him and stopped and tilted his head, almost with an innocent aura about it, as if waiting for any instructions. Seeing that there was none, it turned around and quietly walked away. He didn't make it a point to associate with these creatures, seeing that he couldn't communicate with them. However, proximity over time with this particular one had made it seemed more than just another mindless minion. If there were such a thing in this place, he would consider it a pet of some sort. He studied it over time and found that it was shorter than the others. At first he thought it was a young one, but then he wasn't sure these creatures went through comparable stages of maturity as humans did. Would they even die of old age if given the chance?
Death, he thought as he finished transforming to the Lich form and started toward the cave's exit. Now there's an interesting concept. The humans now considered him undead, which was a misnomer at best. If anything, he was in actuality immortal in the typical aging perspective. But the humans wouldn't understand that. Given their limiting fragile shells of flesh, it was understandable that the souls living in them had developed over time this equally limiting concept of death out of fear and ignorance. But he didn't blame men for fearing death. It was the self-serving and duplicitous nature, and possibly more frailties than he could count, that seemed inherent to the species that he abhorred. He hated the fluidity of man's sense of loyalty and honor and how easily any man could subsequently stray from the path as soon as it benefited them to do so. As his thoughts linger on humans, he felt a rage building within him again, to the point of losing control. He caught it and had to stop and quickly calm himself down the best he could.
A wave of heat enveloped him as he stepped outside the cave. Despite the increased tolerance of the Lich form, he still felt the punishing environment of the Realm every now and then. In his human form he would have been overwhelmed by the cruel environment, given the time he had spent here. But in this form, he was able to tolerate it on a prolonged basis as long as he concentrated and got plenty of rest periodically.
The Tormented demons around him backed away as he surveyed the land before him. It was as he remembered it before he rested—barren and unyielding as ever. He enjoyed his dominance over this area that stood before him. It took a long time to clear out the others, and now he was enjoying the fruits of his labor. He had learned that, in order to maintain ownership of anything of value, he had to keep an eye out for competitors.
Recently, discoveries of the warring factions of Margonites troubled him. In particular, one faction was gaining power at an unprecedented rate. Its leader hid well in a stronghold that Vizier had not gathered enough intelligence about, only that he went by the name of Mallyx. On several occasions he had ambushed isolated bands of Margonites that followed Mallyx, and from whatever he got out of defeated Margonites' last breaths, he learned that Mallyx was a powerful leader with a very loyal following. Of course, he knew enough of these Margonites to expect nothing less. It was one thing if they were wandering without a purpose. But once they found their leader, they were a loyal bunch. With his power, Mallyx had also developed an ego to match. From what he learned, Mallyx intended to rule the Realm in Abaddon's absence and was delusional enough to proclaim himself the successor to the fallen god. There was no reasoning or negotiating with him; it was either to serve under him or perish. Vizier had served under others before, and given his experience, he had determined to never again be a servant to anyone other than himself. And certainly not to some lowly despot like Mallyx. He had to plan. Slowly and surely, he had to figure out a way to eliminate this threat. The later he waited, the more powerful Mallyx would become as he began to recruit the remaining Margonites.
Which, of course, meant that Vizier needed allies.
He looked over to the East. To that distant cloud of dust, whipped up by a large army of invisible Margonites. He had monitored their advances through the Realm thus far and, at times, tested them with the conjured demons. So far he was not able to secure any victory over them, let alone taking any prisoners to question. Because of this, he knew very little about this band of Margonites. Were they an arm of Mallyx's, or were they a group he could leverage? He had to give credit to the leader of that army, both for having the resourcefulness to discover a way to render his army invisible and also to be able to command such a large body of Margonites with such efficiency and precision. Even without any formal military training, Vizier had many successes fighting other bands of roaming Margonites, thanks to the potency of the Tormented forces he commanded. But against this army he had not been able to make a dent in its forces despite the different strategies and tactics he had tried. They were extremely cohesive and disciplined. None of the units wandered away from the group far enough to be picked off despite the various distractions and baits he had planted. If anything could mount an effective challenge to Mallyx, he concluded, it would be this army. If he could only convince this leader to join him.
Approaching this army was going to be tricky. They were perceptive and rotated their patrols often such that there were constantly alert soldiers monitoring for encroaching enemies. Many times Vizier had planted baits to draw out the forces at the edge but only to run out of patience. It seemed they were trained to stay together. And when they moved, the entire army moved at once and overpowered whatever forces they encountered. Therefore, having his forces meet them was not practical. If he were to contact the leader, he would need to do so himself.
06-11-2009, 03:13 #24
25-11-2009, 06:51 #25
This was not the first time Vizier found himself surrounded by sharpened tips of steel, but the situation was so odd that he couldn't help feeling mildly amused. He looked around to see the evenly spaced blades around him, as if they were slim petals of a flower blooming from where he stood. Since their wielders were cloaked in some translucent material that, for the most part, made them invisible, the spears themselves looked like they were floating in the air.
“What business do you have with us, Lich?” demanded one of the translucent figures before him. He couldn't see the speaker, of course, so he turned to face the general direction of the voice. It must be someone from the old world, he reasoned. Perhaps even Orr itself. Amateurs, he concluded, clouded by their memories of past. And he could teach these Margonites a lesson or two on invisibility.
“I wish to speak with your leader,” he spoke slowly. He didn't want these infantrymen to get too excited lest one of the spears got too close. Raising his hands with his palms wide open, a gesture he learned that seem to work as a universal sign of friendly intent. With the threat level reasonably contained, he made his offer, “I can provide a valuable service to him in while traveling in this Realm of Torment. Surely you have come across many rather unpleasant creatures. I can help you navigate around their spawns.”
What followed was a long moment of silence. He noticed a shift in the distortions of the air before him. That Margonite had moved, perhaps to relay this message to the leader. Without moving his head too much, Vizier started to study the distortions up close. There was a limit in what he could see and feel when he himself was cloaked. But now that he was in the physical form, he had his full faculties at his disposal. And he took the opportunity to study the nature of these Margonites' invisibility while everyone waited for the response from their leader.
His suspicion was correct. They were not truly transparent. A careful observer can tell from a distance of about ten paces how the distortion in the air formed a silhouette of the human form cloaked underneath. And when it moved, it was easy for the eye to pick up. Doing battle with one would be difficult, however, since the exact location of one was difficult to tell, especially if they moved quickly. Frequently one would be swinging a weapon or casting a projectile spell towards thin air. But he soon realized the one weakness that gave away their position....
“The Prophet has no need or desire to meet with you, Lich,” a Margonite voice behind him finally spoke. “Your treachery in the old world is well known, and we see no point in trusting you.”
“I have no need to deceive here,” Vizier turned towards the voice. “These are not the days of old.”
“Be gone, Lich,” said the voice. The spears drew closer to his neck, almost piercing his skin. “Do not let us see you again.”
“So be it, then. We shall do this the hard way.” The Lich form disappeared, and the Margonites each withdrew their spears.
Immediately, Vizier materialized about fifty paces away. As the Margonites around him noticed his defiance and presence, they drew their weapons and rushed in to attack. Before the first blade lands, Vizier again disappeared into thin air. And again he would reappear at some other spot roughly fifty paces away again, provoking the Margonites at that new location. This was going to be tedious, Vizier thought to himself.
Even though Vizier had well rested before taking on this task, over time he was gradually getting exhausted. It was instances like this that he envied warriors that mastered the skill to exploit adrenaline boosts from the heat of battle. He knew these Margonites well. He knew their behavior, fighting styles, strategies, and their persistence. And he knew his own ability and stamina. Although this may be tedious and may turn out to be an exhausting task, he should be able to locate the Margonite leader before his strength wore out.
And so he materialized briefly to take a quick look at the Margonites around him and to allow them to see him, perhaps engaging in some obligatory exchange of arms, before dematerializing and try again at the next spot. He was methodical and moved slowly from the rim of the Margonite camp slowly into the center. Up close, it looked as if he was hopping around randomly, as he carefully chose the patterns designed to confuse anyone following him. But he was well passed the perimeter by the time of his eighth hop.
He thought about the different strategies to go about this. One was a brute force attack on the edge to get their attention. Since the Tormented demons were expendable for the most part, that was probably the easier way to go. But Vizier did not want to divulge the full extent of his influence on the creatures just yet. And he wanted to personally make the appearance to court this Margonite leader, not alienate him. Old habits die hard, he realized. Despite so much that had happened, he found himself adhering to the Orrian etiquette system, even as he had learned to despise every man from that cursed land.
And so he found himself now mostly in defensive stances dodging and blocking swings of the sword, scythes, and spears. Every now and then he would steal some life forces from those around him, carefully to not cause any fatalities. One never made any allies by slaying their army.
25-11-2009, 08:31 #26
MORE MORE MORE! i looove it! i particuraly like the way the lich has a kindof cynnical view on things, a get-something-done-right-do-it-myself thing
27-11-2009, 06:03 #27
23-02-2010, 08:20 #28
Hexes have always been double-edged. Every first-year apprentice knows that, let alone seasoned necromancers. Stay observant and outwit your foes and you can devastate armies. Blindly squandering your energy and sacrificing your own blood in a panic, and you slay no one but yourself. And then there are the mesmers. Yes--the perpetually annoying passive-aggressive mind twisters that are brought onto this world for no purpose other than to obstruct.
Having passed the infantry ranks in the outer shell of the Margonites, Vizier was now running into a predominantly casters' circle. Thanks to his continuous hopping in and out of invisibility and into seeming random locations, the sorcerers' elementalist spells were not effective against him. And even if a few had landed lucky shots at Vizier where he stood, by the time of the next hop, he'd be free of and immune to whatever hail, fire, stone, or freezing gusts hurled at him. But hexes stayed with him. As soon as he appears out of a hop, the first thing to do was to prepare for counter hexes. He preferred dealing with melee any time over the troublesome mesmers. And if he and Noom had more time back in the Orrian chambers he knew they could unlock the secret to also render counter hexes useless.
For now, however, it was fortunate that his plan did not depend on active confrontation. He estimated that he had enough anti-aggression hexes on him such that any attempt to attack anything now would backfire at least five-fold on him. Even offensive spells were not safe. He felt his concentration drained and couldn't concentrate. No doubt it was due to the layers of distraction hexes placed on him.
And fortunately as well, the Margonites did not know how to disable his hopping. So whenever Vizier felt overtaxed by hexes, he could escape easily simply by hopping to a different place. This particular teleporting skill was one of the spells he did manage to decipher back in Orr despite the daily time wasters that plagued his schedule. He knew it was a powerful spell the moment he understood it. He just didn't imagine it was so versatile. In addition of the original intent of stealthy instantaneous travel, it also had a convenient side effect of removing hostile spells. As long as he refrained from any offensive moves, he could maintain this as long as it took for him to find the leader.
“It is not unlike the technology behind our teleporting gates,” remarked the Asura as he studied the scroll, “if it does what it claims to.” Ears twitching with anticipation, his eyes widened even more than usual. “It takes considerable power to maintain each of our gates operational,” he continued, “and each one is rather stationary once it's erected.”
“Interested, are we?” Vizier could hardly mask his own excitement.
“Of course,” Noom gave him an annoying glare. While Vizier was a competent human to work with, the very awareness of his own intelligence had built up his conceit so much that it was unbearable at times to be in the same room as he. Of all, Noom despised the frequent condescension attitude the most. However, there were few instances when he could overlook all the flaws of this human, for he was an intelligent and skillful wizard. “Even you can grasp and appreciate the power of a mobile teleporting spell that is so flexible. Just the physical displacement aspect of it is attractive enough, not to mention a side effect of temporary invisibility.”
Noom couldn't stop talking, which was a sign of high excitement—the kind that usually preceded a major breakthrough on their quest to decipher these scrolls, as Vizier learned over the seasons working with the Asura.
Their progress was slow and unpredictable, as the scrolls' writings were cryptic and were written in an ever-evolving glyph whose symbols changed meanings over time. It was not uncommon for a seemingly innocuous poem to transform into the recipe for a death hex at the change of a season. This very scroll before them, for instance, had been for the longest time simply a categorization of obscure fauna in the deep jungles of Maguuma. But using the newly deciphered alphabet for this season, the same scroll now seemed to describe the incantation and concentration methods to invoke a localized teleporting spell. As if the same mysterious markings on the parchment just seemed to suddenly taken on a new life of its own.
“Wait!” Vizier's eyes reflected the flickering flames from the torch above them. “Look at this stanza. Doesn't that remind you of that hex breaker symbol?” He rotated the scroll a little for the Asura's benefit.
“Yes. Yes. It does. If our latest decoding alphabet is correct,” the Asura scrambled through the pile of papers, comparing his notes again. “It seems that the process of teleporting also purges any hex....”
The Margonites shifted their strategies, Vizier slowly realized. Or more accurately, they now had one. They no longer seemed as disorganized and surprised when he hopped. Although they still had no idea when he would next appear, they no longer rushed from one corner to another to confront him as he materialized. It took a few moments for Vizier to realize what they were doing: at first it seemed they were all retreating, but they were actually all moving toward each other such that they packed up into what must have been a dense shell around him. The distortions in the air from their cloaks, while barely noticeable when worn by one or two, now was obvious from they way they effectively blurred out the entire lower half of the horizon around him. It took some more time to realize that they were now slowly advancing toward him in the center. Someone somewhere within the ranks had figured out that he could not hop to a spot where there was already something there.
The Margonites were trying to trap him first by establishing a solid shell where he could not hop out of, then slowly closed in on him. It was a clever strategy, he had to admit. So clever, in fact, that for a moment he actually was unable to come up with a counter strategy. He hopped around randomly to buy some time before arriving to the conclusion that he needed reinforcements. The trick was to summon them such that not to give away his ability to control them. He did not want to disclose the full extent of his power to the Margonites. Another lesson learned early on in his career: never let others know all you were capable of.
And so the call was made. The spawns were happening at the edge of the Margonites' circle. Vizier did not want to summon them too close to where he was lest it would seem too suspicious. So while he feigned being trapped by the slowing encroaching Margonites, he was commanding the Tormented demons to fight their way in. But not so direct and not so fast, he reminded himself. It had to look uncoordinated.
Last edited by Qin Li; 23-02-2010 at 08:22. Reason: formatting changes
24-03-2010, 11:13 #29
We are surrounded. We need to spawn.
We may not. The voice explicitly forbids us to.
Why not? We will not survive without reinforcements.
The voice doesn't say. We obey the voice.
Yes. We obey the voice.
Concentrate on the forward flank. We will open a path. The voice has spoken.
We are outnumbered. We will fall.
We need to spawn. We need reinforcements.
No. Concentrate on the forward flank. We will prevail.
We will prevail. The voice has spoken.
The one with the voice. We have arrived. We are few in numbers, but we have arrived.
Why has the one attacked us? It does not speak to us anymore.
What should we do?
We cannot survive. We should retreat.
The one has slain us. Why did it beckon us only to attack us?
We are dying. The one does not help. It is slaying what is left of us.
It says we will prevail. We will obey the voice.
Yes. We will obey the voice. We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
“Impressive,” a voice out of thin air spoke. Vizier knew he finally found what he was looking for. It was a costly endeavor, but it finally paid off. “Whatever magic you used seemed to weaken those Tormented creatures significantly,” continued the voice.
“Coincidental, I am sure,” Vizier straightened the fabric on his tunic. “I have a sense of where they are about to spawn,” now that he had the Margonite leader's attention, Vizier slowly savored the position of power. “And can avoid them for the most part. As for what to do once they do show up, well,” waving his hand and turning to face the hollow voice. Vizier finally stopped when a tall figure stood before him. It was slightly taller than the others. While the figure was still cloaked from the neck down, there was total clarity in the glowing eyes—six of them arranged in two columns of three running down the upper portion of what would be the face—staring at him. They never blinked, just forever emitting that purplish glow at him. “What happens next,” Vizier finally took his attention off of them, “is less predictable.”
“When allies form, each side typically benefit from the joint venture in some way,” the voice continued slowly. “The kinds I've dealt with were driven by material wealth, power, security; and now, the glory of Lord Abaddon. What is it that you wish to obtain through this alliance?”
25-03-2010, 02:45 #30
A lot has passed since I last read this... I'm going to have to catch up... I HATE BEING SO BUSY!!! >.< I don't have time for simple things like reading. :/