Athas: The gods Reborn

Forum Role Play

Singing Skulls Ruin

Stacy B.

As you rest after defeating a fabled dragon (!!!!!) a few undead, and some nasty slimy worms, you receive a comforting feeling in the form of Lilith’s voice whispering in your thoughts, “I am safe. I know you are worried, but I am well.” You rest well, comforted for the moment. No sound seems to be able to enter this room once the doors were all closed, and so you feel safe.

Artemis: As you sleep you dream. A woman approaches you and lays her hand gently on the side of your neck, a small feather brand appears. “I am Naquida, and I choose you.” Your dream fades to a vague distance, you watch the world around you change from one of brilliant greenery, blooming life; to sullen, dry, and dead lands.
(Female-Neutral Travel, Currents, both Air and Water
gain fly speed equal to half your base speed, gain climb speed equal to half your base speed)

August 11 (1 week ago)
Bilal S.

Artemis’ eyes slowly open, his lips forming the name “Naquida”. He looks around gently, adjusting his eyes to the still new faces. Argo sat on the other side of the room, meditating and alert. The watch was left up to the both of them.

He slides back quietly and adjusts himself onto the stone floor. The cold hardness was comforting and familiar, reminding him of the time years ago when he’d found himself in that ruined temple. Artemis began recollecting, processing, everything that happened the day. He couldn’t think how he had ended up in this place, with these people. It must have been the gods.

Gods…..

He’d studied and read whatever he could find, but it was never much. Faint words, meaningless pages. And now here he was, looking at the brand on his arm, still feeling a tingle from the other two, not to mention the newest one.They are not gone, they are not dead, the gods live! Vindication for all the years he spent traveling…looking for information, clues…anything.

Artemis noiselessly unsheathes his sword, cleaning it as he composes his thoughts. The blade didn’t need it, but it helped him think.Here I am, in yet another temple. However this time I’m not alone.Since he’d woken up, there had been little time to stop and think about what was happening. Strangers he didn’t know that were involved with the gods and their Will apparently. The statue of himself next to the others. Lilth, the mysterious woman he seemed to have replaced. Following that, the battles. Elementals, and…a dragon?Was that really a dragon? Was that really what they look like?They defeated their foes, found real gold, and a lot of it. Went on to face several other strange creatures the others didn’t seem to bat much of an eye at.I suppose it’s happened to them before? This isn’t so new?

It was funny. For years he’d hidden his magic…and today he’d revealed it with little second thought. At the time, the reasoning was simple: There were people using magic, they didn’t seem quite like your average group either.It was amazing how quickly they adapted to him, just as amazing was their own coordination and prowess. Each one did something different, and fell in harmoniously with the others.Truly, people chosen by the gods themselves.

Artemis’ hand touched the mark on his neck. “Naquida”. She had chosen him.For what purpose?To help her, and them. To what end?For the revival of the gods.How?He’d have to stick with this group and find out. For it seems fate had brought him here to join them on their journeys. And indeed, it seemed like staying with them was the best way to further his own aims.

His eyes drifted over his new comrades. Arlan. Quite friendly and boisterous. Seemed to be the type to lead. Draven. Wielding magic of a different kind. Quiet and Powerful. Roderick. Ferocious protector. Careful and strong. Argo. An Eladrin like himself, yet very much different from himself. Each of these people were capable, each probably have their own stories to tell but don’t want to go too deep into.

Artemis’ eyes stopped at Argo meditating.So this is the Eladrin worth 3,000. Wonder what he’d done to get such a bounty. Angered a noble from the sound of things.Artemis had been stopped occasionally and questioned. It was annoying. What was more annoying was the occasional unreasonable bounty hunter, who he’d have to deal with. Did he dislike Argo for it? Not really. But he was interested in his story. He didn’t seem the type to anger a noble without reason. Few intelligent people are.

Artemis raises his head, then his brow furrows for a moment.Ah, I wonder if that caravan I was with is alright….Well, we were only a day from Urik. This just means they don’t have to pay me I suppose.

He slowly sheathes his sword, then closes his eyes.
Tell me, what do you wish of me? I shall await your word. I will free you. Guide me so that I can. Watch me so I do not waver. Show me so that I am not lost.Then only might I find you and save you.

For a brief moment he listened intently to nothing. Then,
I shall wait…

A small smile briefly plays across Artemis’ face as he relaxes himself, entering a trance.
Things have gotten very interesting. What else is around the corner I wonder?

August 12 (1 week ago)
Edited August 13 (1 week ago)
allen c.

When his whits about him return and he stumblingly stands he looks around the room with a purpose, seeing Arlan awake and moving around groggily he calls for his friend to come with him to a adjacent room shutting the door.

Roderick begins to tell him of what happened last night and the vision he had, he holds some minor details back as he tells him of his dreams. Firi’s seductive words still ringing in his ears, he tells of what she wants him to do and the reward she promises. He tells him of the visions of his family, his middle daughter and her future husband.

Arlan takes all what Roddy tells him, his eyes go wide when he tells him what she wants him to do. Not interrupting he listens till the end, his expression calm.

“What are you going to do?” Arlan says in a hushed whisper “That’s horrible, if it were any other situation I’d tell you to try and have both.” he states with a half hearted smile “All jokes aside, this is serious.”

“I know my friend, I am torn between two women I love.” Roderick says hanging his head in shame “I never knew something like this could happen to me. My wife and children are my world, then a goddess chooses me. Me? Now I’ve done some horrible things I never thought possible for me to do, but to kill my wife? I couldn’t do it,” his eyes tear slightly “there would have to be something worse than I for that.”

Arlan, still thinking on what he has heard. Swallows hard and begins to tell Roddy about his dream,fearing Roddy will not take kindly to what he has to say about his little girl.

Taking in all that Arlan tells him of his dream and of the stable boy, Roderick gets very serious. At first he thinks he’s being deceived by this man he calls brother, but as he continues he tells of things about his daughter that he couldn’t possibly know. He listens further, Arlan assures him he knows the man from Roderick’s vision as a man from house Runewood. Roderick thanks his friend for telling him the truth, and escorts him out of the room.

Before leaving the room Roderick more angry than he’s ever been begins to think long and hard about that stable boy, his hands gripped tight to the point of bruising his palms. He thanks Arlan for his help again and steps back into the now empty room.

“No matter what anyone hears, do not open this door.” Roderick says with a voice that could chill you to the bone “I will be fine, and I will be with you in less than two hours.” he calmly closes the door and walks to the center of the room.

“I am here, and I am yours.” he states calmly “I have a price however, if you do not meet it than we cannot deal. First is what I have heard true? and if it is you know what I want, I want him…. nothing more…. just him. If you are indeed for punishment, you will meet my price.”

A cruel and malicious laugh fills the room as Roddy’s blood runs cold. He feels a large powerful hand clap him on the shoulder, his claws sinking into the leather.

I knew it’s still inside you, that darkness you try to hide so well. Psurrab says with a calm voice. I will grant you this, but you in turn you must do a task for me when I request it. I want nothing now, except for you to agree to MY terms.

His mind still clouded with rage he quickly responds, “Very well, I will be yours when you wish me to be.”

Your drunkard friend speaks true, and your request is fully within my power to grant. I only ask are you certain of your desire for this worm brought before you?

“Yes.”

Than may I present to you Caffran Mel’Ori stable boy of house Lubar’s Urik estate

The room gets pitch black for a moment Roderick can hear the sound of someone moving in the darkness, he hears the sound of chains rattling against stone. As sudden as the darkness came it is gone, revealing a young man chained to the wall of the room. His clothes dusty, his hair unkempt his eyes wide with fear.

“Wh-wh-where am I? Who are you? What do you want from me? I swear I have done nothing wrong.” the boy simpers in a panicked tone

“I need you to be silent for a moment, all will be explained in time.” Roderick says calmly as he walks to the door and opens it to call for Arlan. “I need you for a moment please.”

Arlan comes into the room and jumps at the sight of the stable boy from his dream. The stable boy’s eyes go even bigger when he recognizes Arlan from around Urik.

“Is that him?” Roderick asks calmly

Arlan nods, still trying to find the words as Roddy pushes him back out the door. After the door closes Roddy stands for a moment his hand against the door. Caffran shifts nervelessly in his bonds.

“First off I’m going to answer your questions, than I’m going to explain why you are here.” Roderick says in a low calm gravely voice as he turns to face the young man. “You are in a temple ruin to the lost gods, one of them brought you here to me. My name is Roderick Toombs, you may or may not know that name it doesn’t matter.” his tongue clicks before he continues “You have however, met my daughter Ariel. Which is the reason why you are here with me, you hurt my little girl.”

Caffran opens his mouth to speak but is hit hard in the jaw. “Let me finish. Now one can assume you’ve hurt other little girls in the past and will continue to do so. You however, made the unlucky mistake of doing it to mine. Now you see I love my children, very much. One could say I’ve done unspeakable things to provide for and protect them.” he licks his lips as he continues “Now what we have here is simple, you hurt my little girl so I’ll hurt you.” at that Roddy’s eyes go cold “If you die, I’m fine with that. One less dishonorable person in the world, if you live you’ll never hurt anyone again.”

After an hour the screams that can be heard from the next room go quiet as Roderick calmly walks through the door to meet up with the rest of the party. In his hands you see him making a dagger out of what appears to be a femer, if you look close you’ll see a symbol of Psurrab carved on the side and a identical one tucked in his belt.

August 12 (1 week ago)
Edited August 12 (1 week ago)
Michael P.

Meanwhile…
As Roderick was no longer holding the door closed, Argo decided to risk a peek. One of these days, his curiosity would have dire consequences, and he hoped that day would not be today. Using his skill with Thievery to make sure the door would open without a sound, he had opened it just enough so that he could look into the room without being noticed. From what he saw, Roderick had removed the man’s lower left leg, and was currently…

Distracted by his rising horror, Argo almost failed to notice Roderick starting to glance back towards the door. Still slightly distracted, the Eladrin accidentally let the door creak as it closed. After a few minutes, Argo decided that Roderick hadn’t heard the door over the mans cries of agony, so Argo risked another look. By now, Roderick had finished what he was doing, and was starting to repeat the process with….
Argo silently shut the door. He’d seen enough.

As Argo walked back towards where he had been meditating on the floor, Arlan intercepted him.
“What is Roderick doing in there?” Arlan asked, over the screams from the next room.
“Do you really want to know?” Argo asked, incredulously.
“Probably not.” Arlan paused for a few moments. “Tell me anyway.”
“Well, he’s cut off the mans leg below the knee, exposed the femur, shaped it into a dagger, then detached the femur, and is currently using said femur dagger to repeat the process with the man’s other leg.” Argo said rapidly. “Also, every now and again, Roderick hits him with his own detached leg. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Bodily Harm.’”

At that point, the screams stopped, the door opened, and Roderick calmly walked back to the group. Arlan watched Roderick for a bit, then turned back to Argo.
“Argo, if you ever think I’m about to piss off Roderick, please stop me!” Arlan said quietly.
“If you’ll do the same for me,” Argo whispered back, “We have a deal.”

August 13 (1 week ago)
Stacy B.

As you finish your uneasy rest and begin to pack up camp, eyeing Roderick with a level of fear and perhaps distrust, you see a vision, a glorious blackscaled dray. It is hard to recognize her at first, but after she turns, her new armor shining in the dim light, you realize it is Lilith. Her face is hard, a scowl like none you’ve seen, “What have you done?” She hisses, and drops a pair of shattered manacles at her feet. You hear nothing as they fall, she is not truly here, just a projection…somehow, “He is free.”
The image of your friend fades, but not before her message sinks in.
As each of you turns to look at Roderick he falls to his knees, screaming in agony, gripping his forearm as if trying to tear the flesh off with his hands. When he finally is able to breath the mark of Psurrab is gone, as is its gift. The true weight of the message hits you like a anvil to your chest….He is Free….

August 14 (1 week ago)
Michael P.

Argo let his feet fall from beneath him to sit heavily on the ground. It hurt, but he was too distracted feel any pain, only horror. Psurrab, the god of Tyranny, Cruelty, and Punishment had been loosened upon the world. Almost involuntarily, Argo glanced at Roderick. The look on the human’s face spoke of immense regret and despair, to a degree that was entirely out of character for the usually confident man. Lillith’s anger had obviously made a deep emotional impact on Roderick.

Argo made an effort to consider the implications of Psurrab loose upon the world. Unfortunately, he was too rattled to focus on any one particular thought for more than a split second at a time. Just when he was about to give up, a memory surfaced from just before the torture had started. Roderick had said, “I will be yours when you wish me to be.” With that, Argo’s thoughts finally started to arrange themselves. Roderick had obviously made a pact with the evil deity, and Argo had assumed that Psurrab being released was the price of the pact. However, thinking back, Argo realized the manacles that Lillith had dropped were cracked in such a way that could only be the result of brute force. That raised a disturbing question: Did Psurrab’s freedom fufil the terms of the pact, or was that just a mere side effect? Argo had no answer to that question, he knew nothing of Magic but the propaganda of the Sorcerer Kings. Then again, he’d also witnessed Draven and Artemis use magic, and he remembered the gifts given to him by…

The solution hit him like a bolt of lightning. Upon Argo’s shoulder was the sigil of Xuda, the god of Oaths and Binding Pacts! If there was any being who might be able to answer his question, it would be her. Argo tried to clear his mind as best he could, shifted himself into a poor imitation of Lillith’s praying posture, then bowed his head.

“Xuda?” Argo called within the boundary of his mind. “I need your wisdom. Is Roderick’s will still bound to that of the evil deity, Psurrab?”

He concentrated as hard as he could, but no answer came to him. He tried again.
“Xuda, please!” Argo thought. “I must know if Psurrab can still manipulate my friend! Xuda?”
After another minute, it was obvious that no response was going to come. Argo stood back up, his pitiful attempt at prayer had failed. He would have to try again later.

August 14 (1 week ago)
Mark B.
Permalink Quote Edit Delete
Draven heads to a quiet corner alone, as the others often leave him alone. He kneels and starts thinking to himself about the release of Psurrab and then puts his hands together. He starts to hum gently and says a short prayer;

“Oh God of Tyranny and Cruelty, If you are truly are free grant my plea. I want more power, enough to rule Atlas and dethrone the Sorcerer-Kings. Enough power to make anyone bow before me, enough to extend my life.”
Draven the looks into his shirt and sees that the black plague has infected his entire torso, all but his heart that is being repelled by the God Symbol. Draven puts his hands together again, bows his head, and then goes to pray again.

“Any God that will listen, allow me more time to live. At least until Nibenay. At least until Pandora is freed.”
Draven then pulls out the dragon statue he found earlier and sits.

“Now what secrets do you hold?”

August 16 (1 week ago)
Edited August 16 (1 week ago)
Stacy B.

Draven a voice whispers so quietly that he barely misses the word. At first he turns his head, only slightly, to see if one of his allies is playing a joke on him, but he hears it again, Draven. He doesn’t recognize the voice, but his gods have remained silent, bestowing blessings, but nothing more to him. He turns his head back to look at the statue, not wanting the others to know that someone or something is speaking to him. You are my chosen, the truest Avatar of my will, no other can serve me as you do. For your service I will grant you a greater gift. Choose….choose one of your companions….they will bear your illness in your stead…they will bear your curse. Before his eyes the dragon statue shifts and moves, no longer sitting tall, but crouched as if ready to pounce, its eyes glowing bright white against its green obsidian body.

Argo feels no response, and though not unexpected it certainly doesn’t make him happy, how are they supposed to figure all this out if no one will talk to them? He sighs and closes his eyes a moment before the answer slaps him, literally. Before him, in a vision only he seems able to see, Lilith appears, still pissed, but at least she doesn’t look able to eat him this time. Argo rubs the shoulder where she hit him and glares, “What was that for?” he says under his breath, “I’m not the one releasing evil gods and killing random people.” Lilith shakes her head and her voice rings almost in a shout, but the others do not react, so Argo is certain they cannot hear, “Xuda asked that I respond. Psurrab is free and can no longer be bound, but his power is still limited. The gods can only be truly returned to power once they return to their own plane, he is stuck here. He is as powerful as the Kings, but even that is limited. Be wary, he knows where you are.” She turns to go but thinks of something else, “Remember, the gods gain power through worship, if he somehow convinces people that he’s a god, much like Hamanu has to his people, he could become a great force in this world, even without his siblings.”

Roderick feels the weight of his actions weigh on him. His chest is tight and he feels so close to tears he’s starting to wonder if he might be turning female. What has he done? Yes, he’d done horrible things while selling his sword, but he’d changed all that once he’d started a family. He’d learned a code of honor. Looking down at his arm and the missing mark he shakes his head, the gods have much more influence than they let on if he’s reverted so far into the darkness that he was capable of such madness. At that thought he feels Her touch, a soft caress, a gentle kiss, “I apologize lover, but such emotion brings me such power. Psurrab brought out the worst in you, but the passion of your vengeance that led to such immense cruelty….I’d almost broken my chains. Your misery will fade, but my power grows with it.”

Arlan leans back against the wall, realizing that his words to his friend had caused this dark lapse and ended up in the death of a man. It could have been him in another life. If he hadn’t been born a noble, perhaps that could have been him. He shakes these thoughts aside and takes a drink of his flask, needing the burn. Before the liquor reaches his stomach he feels a soft touch on his chest, one he’s not felt before, a presence both gentle and strong. He realizes this to be Alpia, the mother. Her hand moves to his side and he feels a slight tickle. Lifting the side of his shirt there is now a tree tattooed on his side. The roots create an image of his face. Many branches grow from the tree, but only bear leaves for the moment. She whispers, “Your children will rule this world. You will bear 8 in your life and they will replace the kings that rule now. Worry not, I will care for them, I will show them your love, even if you never know them. When this journey is through, when Athas is green and we have our realms of power, you will sit upon a throne in the planes, and your children on thrones in the Mortal realm, and all will be as it should.”

Artemis sits away from the others, the screams, the message from the blackscale, the resulting tumult of emotion from around the room have made him scared. He isn’t sure what to think at the moments following, but touching the brands upon his skin he realizes that these gods have plans for them. He studies his marks and a memory returns, a book that only had names in threes, nothing more. There had been hundreds at one time, but he remembered that some had moved on of their own will. Now only 30 true gods remained and 6 labels as Champions, though he was unsure of what they meant. Rubbing his face he tries to recall more but cannot. He hears a gentle male voice speak to him, from where he’s unsure, “I am Multra, and you, my friend, will bear my wisdom, in time. Rest now, you will be called upon soon enough.”

August 16 (1 week ago)
Michael P.

“Yes, I know that Psurrab is no longer bound,” Argo muttered quickly, as the vision of Lilith faded, “but is Roderick still oath-bound to Psurrab? Lilith? Lilith!? LILITH!”
There was no response for a bit. Then Lilith’s face re-appeared, said “Oh, that’s what you meant? Yes, he is”, then disappeared.

It was nice to know that he could at least count on Lilith to give him a straight answer. Argo could probably have phrased the question better, but that wasn’t important. What was important was everything Lilith had said. Roderick was still oath-bound to Psurrab. That would probably become a major concern later, but they had more pressing issues. Psurrab could gain power by gaining worshipers, and Argo could only think of a few people that would want to worship that particular deity. Unfortunately, all of those people were Sorcerer Kings, who would probably love to call upon Psurrab for power and knowledge, and that knowledge could easily prove to be the groups downfall. For example, the current location of the party, possible locations of Sigils that the group had yet to find, and… oh no.

The temple! The first time they were there, Argo had managed to bind Raxom to himself, and the rest of the party had done similar things with their gods. If the Sorcerer Kings were able to bind deities to themselves, the results could be catastrophic. Argo stood up, wincing as he put weight upon his newly bruised shoulder, and walked over to the rest of the group. He had to keep them informed.

August 18 (1 week ago)
Jag Pro

The third night in the Temple of the Singing Skulls…

Arlan dreamt again that night, only he isn’t himself. He can tell immediately by the shorter point of view and the feminine laugh that sounds from his mouth.

You are standing on a promenade overlooking the square. King Hamanu is giving a speech, but you’re not truly listening. A young man, handsome as any you’ve seen approaches you with a sweet drink. You’ve seen him around all week during the festival, he’s always had his eye on you.

As the night approaches you’ve found yourself constantly in his company, and a bit tipsy you are seduced. When you awake the next day he has long left and you are unsure of where you are. You check the room next to yours and there lays a familiar male. A year or two ago you brought a Basalt statue to his family home in Tyr. You step inside slowly, not wanting to wake the three women wrapped around the half-elf male. Glancing at the scattered clothes and things on the floor when you notice the metal swords, quickly dashed and hidden beneath hastily removed clothes. The hilts marked with the Runewood family rest. You remember his family, and noting his obvious proclivity to seducing random females you now have a backup plan.

As you walk outside, ready to catch the carriage back home you notice the man you slept with, he’s leading a small herd of crodlu away from a stable. He doesn’t notice you, but you realize you’ve been duped. Oh..what will your father say if you end up pregnant with a stable boys child because you were stupid enough to believe he was noble and courting you? You bury your face in your hands as the carriage takes off, “Heir to the Runewood name…that’s what you tell them….not some useless stable hand.”

Waking from the dream, Arlan sit’s in a daze for a moment; He’s back in that decrepit hole in the ground that is the Temple of the Singing Skulls. As he looks at the group, he see’s Roderick awake as well; Roderick, now aware of the Half-Elf’s presence approaches. His human friend, tell him of the vision he had that night; Roderick talks about his family and children and of murdering his wife, holding back his emotions as best he can.

The description of the man next to Ariel sounds funny though. It did not match Arlan or the suitor from his own dream. It actually reminded him of his cousin Cyran, who lived in his home in Tyr. Feeling bold, Arlan chances telling Roderick about his own vision, carefully sidestepping his involvement and his family name. Roderick visibly shaken by the revelation of this stalks of and warns Arlan not to follow. At that, Arlan returns to his dreams, to hopefully avoid any more visions.

Later that night…

“He is free.”

Startled awake, by the scream in his mind. Arlan glances around, seeing Roderick ripping at himself. Taking a swig of his flask, Arlan watches as the others scramble about, wondering what the fuss is all about. As Roderick, calms down, the Half-Elf approaches him and looks at his wounds. Channeling his psionic energy, the young Ardent attempts to heal the wounds Roderick has made; none of the injuries are serious, but painful nonetheless. As he does this, he listens as his friend speaks of the deed he has done and the implications of it.“Well, I did tell you so,” Arlan says, attempting to lighten the mood with some humor. “When we were in the temple north of Yaramuke, I had said we should be careful about helping strange beings gain power without terms given to us.

They chat a short while more about the implications of this before Arlan attempts to retire once more. As he sits in his corner of the room on his bed roll, he feels someone climb into it with him. Gently caressing his body from behind, she whispers in his ear, “Your children will rule this world.” As she speaks, a feeling of comfort rolls over Arlan, it is Alpia, goddess of fertility holding him close. “You will bear 8 in your life and they will replace the kings that rule now,” she continues, “Worry not, I will care for them, I will show them your love, even if you never know them. When this journey is through, when Athas is green and we have our realms of power, you will sit upon a throne in the planes, and your children on thrones in the Mortal realm, and all will be as it should.”

With her words of comfort, Arlan drifts off to sleep once more, unwoken until the next day…

August 18 (6 days ago)
allen c.

Before Roderick falls asleep he puts on his new collar, the leather and metal are cold to his skin at first. It quickly warms with his body heat as he settles in for the night closing his eyes. He doesn’t feel anything at first as he slumbers, until he hears the click of a chain being affixed to his collar. The resounding click brings back the memories of his childhood, the hard labor, the beatings, the starvation and the loneliness all comes back in a tidal wave of emotion. Then he feels her soft hand on his cheek, her lips pressing against his.

I’m sorry my love, I did not realize your past could still be as overpowering to you. I just wished to show you some added benefits to this collar other than in combat. Roddy’s eyes open to see Firi wearing a similar collar with a chain connecting to his. This is a symbol to how we are linked as one my darling, to show you that I will never let you go.

With that she pulls Roderick up by pulling on the connected chain, him not offering any resistance as she does so, The 7 foot tall golden eyed tiefling pulling him closer to herself as her honeyed words continue to have him enthralled.

The other night you became mine, I want you again. She states with a soft giggle as she bites her lower lip.

She places her hand on his armor as it seems to fall away by her touch, she pulls him closer as she begins to slip out of her garments as well. Her soft violet skin is so warm to the touch, her scent like that of the sweetest fruit. Roddy puts his arms around her as she bends to kiss him, he feels himself lift off the ground as she wraps her arms around his neck. She falls back pulling him with her, the connecting chain rattling with their movements. As she wraps her legs around his hips Rod feels her tail begin to wrap around his thigh. Her nails biting into his shoulders causes his head to throw back, a soft groan leaves his lips. He entwines his fingers into her silvery curly hair as he gently pulls he head back exposing her neck to his teeth, nibbling his way down her throat causes her to inhale sharp as a shiver moves through her. Roddy takes the chain connecting the two as one in hand and pulls her with him as he rolls to his back, the lovers still entwined with one another.

“What do you do to me?” he half whispers, his breath heavy “The things you make me feel……”

She gives him a mischeivious smile as a reply

They make love for hours, screams of passion and pleasure coming from them both.

Afterwards Roderick lays with his head in her lap as she runs her soft hands through his hair

I love you, Roderick. I don’t want this to ever end.

“I love you too Firi. and I don’t want this to end either”

August 19 (5 days ago)
Michael P.

After the final encounter that day…
As the last monster fell, Argo turned and bolted for the door, unable to take any more of that dreadfully overpowering stench. As he burst through, he breathed deeply and savored the clear air and feeling of victory. But it didn’t last long.
“Argo!" Draven called from within the room, obviously holding his nose. “We need you to help us search this room!”
Argo looked at the door with immense apprehension. He never wanted to go back in there ever again. Still, he might as well get it over with.
“Give me a second!” Argo called, then blocked his nose and forced himself to walk back in.

That night…
Argo meditated near Artemis, both of them keeping alert for danger while pursing their own goals. Artemis was engrossed in preparing his ritual, while Argo was keenly examining a statue they had recovered from one of the chests. It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but it was still interesting because this creature was related to the gods. According to a passage that he’d seen in the temple, each god had their own familiar. Each familiar often shared characteristics with his god.
Before he could discover any more, he noticed Roderick starting to move. After a few seconds, he could hear Roderick breathing heavily while shuffling on his bedroll. Argo forced himself to give an understanding smile to Artemis, who was looking understandably nervous.
“Let him have his pleasure.”Argo said, shrugging.“It’s been a rough few days for him and he hasn’t seen his wife in ages. Besides, it could be worse.”
“Fair enough.” Artemis replied, and then turned to Argo. “Wait…what do you mean it could be worse?”
Argo sighed, then spoke. “Well, you know how Arlan can choose to send his emotions? Let’s just say he does it automatically during… certain acts.” Roderick grunted in pleasure as Argo said this, unintentionally driving home his point.
Artemis looked slightly disturbed. “So… you mean when he…”
“Yep.”
“…you all feel his…”
“Yep.”
“But…” Artemis started to ask, then stopped himself short. “On second thoughts, I don’t want to know. "Um…thanks for the information.”
“No problem.”
With that, Argo resumed his examination of the statue, ignoring Roderick’s movements. Argo could tell the statue was feline, but nothing else about its features stood out to him. However, for some reason, he knew that it was an intelligent hunter. Argo racked his memory for anything else, and a phrase from somewhere popped into his head.
… is a clever hunter and a loving companion. However, just like its master, it is often stubborn and fickle in its affections…
Argo looked at Roderick as he rolled over. With a little imagination, that description could almost fit…
Just as Argo had that thought, two wounds appeared on Roderick’s back, like an invisible demon had suddenly clawed his spine. Argo was stunned for a few moments, then his mind kicked into high gear. Psurrab had escaped by allowing Roderick to take his revenge, and he was the evil god of Retribution. Firi was the evil goddess of Passion. If she had gotten her literal claws into him…
Argo grabbed one of his full water bottles, blinked over to Roderick, and tipped the entire thing on his head. Roderick cried out, suddenly wide awake, soaking wet, and very angry.
“What the hell do you think you are doing!?!” Roderick exclaimed loudly, grabbing Argo before he could answer. “I was hers and she was mine, we were one…. You took that from me, why?”
Argo’s eyes widened as Artemis blinked over to try and defuse the situation.
“Roddy, wait! I saw those scratches appear on your back, I was worried!” Argo said, eyes filled with equal amounts of panic and concern.
“Calm down Roderick, Argo did what he thought was best.” Artemis said calmly, putting his hand on Roderick’s shoulder.
At first, the words didn’t seem to have an effect, Roderick’s breathing still sounded angry. After a few seconds, his breathing slowed and he let Argo go. Now free, Argo took the opportunity to look at Roderick and immediately saw that he was a mess. His upper torso was a road map of scars and bruises, but with a large number of fresh bite marks and scratches that he could only assume they were the result of his nocturnal affair. The fact that he was still drenched didn’t help either. Argo sighed, then put a hand on Roderick’s shoulder.
“Roderick, I can’t even imagine what you must be feeling right now.” Argo said softly. “But whatever you’re feeling, it’s what she wants you to feel. Firi’s using you Roddy. She knows how Psurrab got out, she just wants to be freed. You know we can’t let that happen again.” Argo took his hand off Roderick’s damp shoulder. “I’m going to get some bandages.”
With that, Argo and Artemis headed off. Roderick just stood there, his head bowed, oblivious to the blood and water dripping off his body. As they walked away, both Eladrin heard him whisper:
“I also want her freed…”

August 19 (5 days ago)
Bilal S.

The fourth day in the Temple of the Singing Skulls…

As the group decides to head out, Artemis stays behind to keep watch over their safe room and prepares to communicate with Multra. Arlan and Argo both offer their help when he would be ready, which Artemis gratefully accepts.

As they all leave, Artemis closes the door and bars it. With all the doors shut, he heads to the centre of the room, where he sits down, takes out his pen and a black, leather book. For some time he sat there, searching his memories and jotting down notes and shapes in his book.
In time Artemis stands up and begins drawing concentric circles, the inner one large enough for him to sit in. Following that, he draws symbols between them. He planned for each symbol to fit perfectly and connect with the next, but every few moments he’d rub them out, unsure of how to make them link. Ah. I can’t remember….it was so long ago since I read it. Are these even the right symbols? Confused and frustrated, he closes his eyes and breathes deeply. Alright, clear your mind. There is great power in them, but not a single one can be wrong, or it will fail.

In his meditation, Artemis’ mind wanders back through the years, to his time in the ruined temple. There were many volumes, filled with forgotten knowledge and stories, unintelligible at first glance. He spent so much time deciphering whatever wasn’t already ruined. It took patience…effort….doing it all alone. Yet he never felt alone. There was no one there for sure, yet he always felt his hand guided to the next book, one that wasn’t riddled with gibberish. He then remembered one such book, small and brown, containing many passages of words he never understood, but felt compelled to memorise. It had never occurred to him until much later that perhaps a god took notice of the small, crying child in his house, and silently watched over him. It would explain many things, and it was this ridiculous thought that would sometimes help him keep hope alive as he spent years discovering nothing. My path was never clearly defined for me. I was never sure of where to go. Yet here I am.

Artemis’ eyes opened, clear and focused. Chalk in hand, he rubs all the symbols he’d already made and starts over. This time he drew with confidence, as if another hand was over his, moving it. Each line was sharp, each curve perfect. He felt possessed as he completed each figure with a flourish, slowing and speeding up as if dancing to a song.

As he finished the last one, completing the circle, he stood up, scrutinizing each detail until he was satisfied. Then, a certain combination of knocking came from the door the rest had left through. Recognizing it as the one Arlan and he had agreed on, Artemis opens it to see the weary group enter. They seem surprised by the circle, but proceed to tend to their wounds and leave him to it. Artemis finishes his inspection of the circle, and then draws two slightly smaller ones at particular angles, close to it, joined by rectangles in which he proceeds to draw more symbols. Argo sits nearby, meditating and keeping watch.

(The episode with Roderick and Argo ensues and ends)

Artemis returns to his preparations, pushing the flooding thoughts to the back of his mind, and finishes them. Once again looking over it all, and satisfied, he calls Arlan and Argo, who sit in the circles connected to the main one. Artemis explains: “All you’ll need to do is sit here and remain focused and calm. Magic is a power that simply exists. Its form is shaped and turned to one of the caster’s desire. I’ll be channelling a lot of this power, and the both of you can help keep it under control.”
The two nod as they take their places. Their confidence in that it would work was not lost on Artemis. This has to work.

Artemis takes his seat in the centre circle, and closes his eyes. He takes slow breathes and calms himself. The room was completely silent with a slight chill. Then, he began slowly speaking words of power. As he said each one, the next immediately came to mind. The others listened as seemingly meaningless and complex strings of words escaped Artemis’ mouth as he began speeding up. Can you hear me Multra? Because I hear the words you taught me all those years ago.The lines of each circle lit up in golden light. The symbols, beginning from behind Artemis, started glowing in an electric blue. It spread slowly at first, and then sped up as it went through each one, splitting off into the symbols connecting Arlan and Argo’s circles, before reaching the last symbols on the other end like a flame.

The entire room rumbled.
“I HEAR YOU…”

Artemis’ eyes fly open. The group, now wide-eyed, watch them in amazement. Each eye had uncountable concentric circles, half molten gold, half electric blue. The symbols and circles glowed brighter and brighter as Artemis reached the end of his incantation. When the final word was spoken, the glowing suddenly fizzled out. Artemis’ eyes returned to normal. Silence ensued.

Then, mist formed from nothing. Within it, the shadow of an amalgamation of body parts comprising various creatures, each shifting constantly, some rapid, some slow.

“Haha! Finally! After all this time, I am free of those accursed shackles.”

Artemis spoke, cautiously, unable to hide his surprise.
“O Wise Multra, is that really you?”

“Yes Artemis. It is me, free at last, thanks to you and your comrades. Aaah, it feels wonderful.”

The party silently waited for the god to speak again. They didn’t have to wait long.
“Hmm…yes….this temple will do fine. I will stay here as I recover my strength. As a reward for your efforts, I will help you and your group, as a guide, as the need comes. In the meantime I will recover my vigour, for the inevitable time it will be required.”

Artemis responded, “Our deepest thanks Knowledgeable One. Your foresight will help us greatly.”

“Mmm. Travel onwards down your path, and beware Psurrab. I am not yet sure of the exact details of how he managed to break free of his bonds, and it irks me that I know only little more than what you do. But what I can tell you is that he is limited in his power, as am I, as long we remain on the mortal plane. However this does not mean he cannot increase his strength with followers. Stop his advance before he becomes too powerful and takes over.
Now, I shall rest for the moment. Good luck.”

The shadow disappears, followed by the mist, into nothing. The moment the last tendril vanishes, Artemis collapses, exhausted. Argo reaches and catches him just in time. He leans Artemis against the wall, where he nods wearily and closes his eyes, entering a meditative state. The circles and the symbols contained fade, and disappear.

10:07PM (8 hours ago)
allen c.

After Argo dresses his light wounds, Argo pauses when he sees the slave brand of house Shom on his shoulder. Not wanting to talk about it Roderick just makes a disregarding grunt when their eyes meet. Not wanting to push it, Argo just continues to bandage him up. When finished, Roddy walks to the far wall and slides down it to a slumped position and broods about what has happened between his nocturnal affair and the confrontation between him and his friends.

“Firi’s using you Roddy. She knows how Psurrab got out, she just wants to be freed.” keeps going in his mind along with what Firi said “The other night you became mine, I want you again.”

Am I some plaything for her whim? Is what she tells me true? Is what I feel real? Will she just abandon me once she is free? How can I know for certain what she tells me is true?

Torn with these thoughts he watches the ritual that frees Multra, he watches and just nods. Two freed, how many more to go?

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