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Old September 13, 2015, 06:20 PM   #1
Faust Kitrye'veresi
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[Vortex] Into the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Crimson)

In the middle of the quiet room sat a lone figure, cross-legged with his feet tucked underneath him. His ebon hands, brutally callused from decades of swordplay, enfolded his knees, and his straight back bore no signs of yielding despite his many hours of meditation. Every intake of air refreshed his lungs, imbuing him with new energy and strength to draw upon; every exhale was another distraction leaving his body. Clad in only the black pants that he had worn into his private chamber, the Prince of Har’oloth’s slender but chiseled form was oblivious to the cold air that was commonplace in the bowels of Telath’s subterranean world.

His mind was elsewhere, a thousand miles away.

It had been months since his last visit to the Sanctuary, a large chamber in the Black Citadel that he had often used as a retreat from the outside world. The spoils of war that he had harvested over the eras lined the walls of the room, showcasing a most exotic and rare collection of weapons and armor. In times past, he had come to the Sanctuary to improve, to refine, and to maintain his mastery of the blade, often developing dizzying routines and mesmerizing combinations that had fallen more foes than could possibly be counted. His swordsmanship was second to none, yet the disciplined warrior had returned to the Sanctuary to prepare himself for a battle long in the making.

For his was not an enemy that could be defeated with swords alone . . .

Faust Kitrye’veresi’s crimson eyes slowly opened, easily adjusting to the lightlessness of the room as was his race’s natural birthright. He was aware of the presence on the other side of the closed door even before he heard the telltale knock that followed. It was time, the Vysstichi knew, and that recognition did not surface to his conscious without a bristling sense of excitement. “Tell the masters that I will be with them shortly,” Faust calmly said, rising to his feet and walking towards his personal armory. Hours before, the most powerful mages of Har’oloth, Vortex, and the surrounding lands had been summoned to the Black Citadel to assist him in his upcoming endeavor, one that he knew had to be completed.

He would not allow the shadow of Toherro the Dragonlich to loom over his domain forever.

Less than a handful of minutes were needed for him to don his full set of ardentium armor. Although his adamantite plate was far more effective for withstanding blunt trauma, the Prince of Har’oloth recognized his need for speed, and quite frankly, he did not plan on accepting any direct hits anyway. Indeed, even with the precious gift that the Archmage Jharalynn Dhorc’sar had left to him after his demise, a single blow from the mighty dragon would certainly break every rib in his body notwithstanding his choice of armor. Among the other items that he retrieved was a demon-shaped amulet, an obsidian dagger, and a pair of ardentium rings. Upon buckling his belt and securing both the legendary Lightblade and Soulseeker to it, he draped the powerful Cloak of Time that he had received from the Isle of the Crown around his shoulders and strode towards the door.

Let’s go,” he softly said to his servant, offering the man an appreciative nod before he followed quietly after him. Even as they approached their destination, he knew that his second-in-command, the Master Sorceress, Eilantha Kostith’elgg, as well as his closest friends and allies, were preparing for the necessary ritual ahead. Over the years he had accomplished many seemingly impossible feats, but he had not always done so alone. On this particular occasion, he needed help. The former Matron of House Kostith’elgg had been the first to teach him the intricate ways of sorcery, and now, it seemed, he needed her assistance one more time, and hopefully, the last.
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Old September 25, 2015, 02:54 PM   #2
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Very few men had foes who could not be felled by steel. Then again, even fewer mortals dared challenge the dominion of a liche. Let alone one that was a dragon in life. But Faust was no ordinary mortal. Touched by the gods above and below, he was a champion of light and dark. Marked for death by the heavens and cursed by the servants of Chaos, he was an elf in his own league. But there was one foe in particular that has been a thorn on his side.

Toherro.

This was a name merely whispered and spoken of as myth or rumors. But Faust Kitrye'veresi knew the creature more intimately. In many ways, the Baron of Vortex understood the lich somewhat. The undead dragon was interested only in power and his insatiable thirst for knowledge and treasure long ago overcame the portion of his mind that was rational. For centuries, Vortex was his playground and its denizens his pets. Queens, kings, princes, or peasants -- these were all the same to the master of the Endless Night. If death was the last enemy, then Toherro clearly defeated that foe long ago.

While Faust was donning his armor and getting his equipment, however, a runner from the Matron House of Kostith’elgg delivered a message to him. When the Baron agreed, it was handed to him or read depending on his orders. Regardless of the method, the meaning was the same: the Master Sorcererss was unavailable. A few brightenings ago, she suffered injuries consistent with Vis poisoning after attempting to forge a new enchantment. Eilantha sent her regrets but complained that the injuries made it impossible to cast anything beyond simple spells. She also warned the Baron that the shift in Arcana still created ill effects that were once overlooked by mages.

Without the Master Sorceress, Faust knew that whatever Ritual his friends were preparing was unlikely to work. Her wisdom and experience was the key. In that moment, the swordsman felt the first pangs of paranoia flooding his bloodstream. The air lashed out from his lungs and his vision blurred for a few moments. It was just a moment but Faust registered the concern in his men’s eyes. But they did not hurry to his side or move to help him. They knew better than to acknowledge any weakness in their master.

When his nerves settled, Faust had a moment to curse Meephos and consider his options. Perhaps -- just maybe -- he might be able to figure something out in Mistress Eilantha Kostith’elgg’s absence.
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Old September 27, 2015, 08:24 PM   #3
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The news of Eilantha Kostith’elgg’s infirmity struck him deeply, and not only because he needed her for the critical task at hand. The former Matron of the Second House of Har’oloth was not only his second-in-command and a close friend, but she was one of the many pillars of strength that supported the subterranean city. During his absences, which had been many during the recent Xet Invasion, it was she who had ruled and maintained the harmony inside the underground realm on his behalf. She knew the lay of the land and the intricacies of the Vysstichi and the Esh’lahier people as well as he did, and thus, her health was of the utmost importance to him. Although it appeared that her sickness had been self-induced due to a failed experiment, Eilantha was not someone whom the dark elf could afford to have incapacitated for very long.

Their enemies were many, after all.

He dismissed the runner with a message to be delivered to his ailing friend. Its contents were simple: “Rest and recover your strength.” However, even as he wished the powerful mage a speedy recovery, the Prince of Har’oloth could not help but experience a stinging sense of dread. His plan to defeat the dragonlich had been contingent upon Eilantha’s participation, which no longer seemed to be a viable option. And without her, he knew, his hopes of slaying the bane that had plagued Vortex for so long appeared even darker still. Toherro was not a creature that could be killed with a sword. He had known that from the beginning when he had first proposed his intentions to exterminate the wretched beast.

Left alone again to the quiet of his room, the dark elf pressed his fingers to his temples, massaging the migraine that was already beginning to form in his head. Panic was not a sensation that he experienced often, but a surge of questions and insecurities were already beginning to pummel away at the normal poise for which he was known. Against an enemy that had survived the clutches of death itself, Faust was duly aware that he was not in a prime position to win. On the contrary, as much as he hated to admit it, if he opted to face the dragonlich as he was now, he would certainly lose and be killed. Fortunately, the undead dragon had no knowledge of his plans, and therefore, he was not in a position where he needed to act brashly.

With the flick of his wrist, the Lightblade appeared in his left hand. From where he stood, the dark elf set the rose-colored sword’s point in front of him and spun in place, crafting a full circle around him. Once, shortly after the phenomenon on Telath that had inexplicably affected mages throughout the world, Eilantha had shown him how to harness his newfound power in ways that had not been available in the past. There was only one other time since magic had changed when Faust had resorted to the Amplification ritual, and that instance had been to harness enough power to survive one of the strangest battles of his lifetime. He drew upon that memory again, etching his personal symbols at four points within the circle such that if lines were drawn to connect each, they would form a perfect square. Employing the same methodical routine as the last time, he pricked his finger on the Lightblade’s edge and anointed each of his symbols with his own blood.

Once that was done, he returned the sword to its scabbard and remained in the center of his creation, his feet shoulder-length apart and his eyes closed in deep concentration, filtering out all of the distractions of the brightening. Originally, he had asked Eilantha and her fellow mages to assist him in this process, but desperation, it appeared, had prompted him to begin this new, critical journey alone.
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Old September 28, 2015, 10:38 AM   #4
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It was a statemate; a battle of attrition between the long-lived elf and the dragolich who had conquered death. Winning was such a stale proposition for those who were timeless. Faust, like most of his kin, had seen the centuries drag by as kings and queens fell by the dozen. This was the nature of life to him. He could only imagine how much of a bore mortality must seem to Toherro who had an eternity to plot and plan and hone his cunning.

Lightblade hissed into existence as it was summoned by its master. With an expert hand unlike an artist, Faust began to draw the beginnings of an Altar. During simpler times such an object might have been called a Circle of Magic. The Ritual that Faust knew was a dangerous one. Forces outside his understanding changed Magic in many ways over the years. In its latest evolution, the energies he wielded no longer came from some extra-planar well. Rather he could mold and shape a portion of reality that heeded his will.

Force Essence came from kinetics, physics and matter. The symbols Faust chose only augmented his Altar, which was further empowered by his precious gemblood. In the center of his Circle, Faust felt a moment of euphoria and peace as though his body, mind, and soul aligned into a singular purpose. This moment, however, soon turned into a deep and sudden crushing sensation. Gravity as the grandmaster knew it seemed to collide into itself, creating a vortex of tremendous force that would have destroyed lesser men.

But he also understood it. His Altar was meant to awaken him to the higher callings of his sphere.

And so he received his answer. If Faust was to wrestle free from the bonds that shackled him and limited his power, he was going to fight for it.
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Old September 28, 2015, 07:36 PM   #5
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Within the silence of his meditative state, the Prince of Har'oloth was attuned to none other than the essence around him. There had been many times in years past when he had resorted to a similar journey of the soul, although those endeavors had been pursued in the name of complete mastery of the blade. However, the mechanics back then and now were akin in many respects, and thus, once his Altar was properly erected, he allowed his mind to venture into a realm of the unknown that only those who were gemblooded could possibly explore. And within the whirlwind of visions and images that suddenly assaulted him, he sought the answers to his questions, the reassurances to his reservations. He was reminded of his first time flying on the back of his mighty gryphon, Sarnor. Up and down, they had cut through the heavens as if in an effort to dethrone the clouds themselves from the pristine skies.

But just like that sublime experience those many eras ago, Faust abruptly felt a sinking feeling in his stomach as if he were falling, plummeting thousands and thousands of feet from above. No matter how hard he tried to recover from his mental free fall, he found that he could not, but as the earth reached upward to slam into him, his eyes fluttered open. He blinked once, twice, only to realize seconds later that he was still within the confines of his private chamber. The flames from the candelabras that lined the walls of the room continued to glow, though their dance grew weak. He did not know how long he had been in his trance, but if the sweat that gathered between his skin and clothing was any clue, it had been far longer than a mere moment.

What he had experienced only seconds ago, Faust was uncertain, but he had a strange sense that he knew exactly what needed to be done. He reached upward and wiped his forehead, mopping away the crystalline beads of perspiration that had amassed on his brow. His silver tresses, too, were sopping wet, adding to the already existing discomfort of standing in his moist attire. For another reason that he could not explain, the two swords on his hips felt heavier than before, as if whatever power had dwelled within him was weening him from the weight of their legendary steel. He shook away the absurd thought as soon as it surfaced to his mind, yet his hands slowly descended to the belt that encircled his waist and holstered his most prized weapons.

The clank of the sword belt could be heard rattling on the cold floor a second later.

For decades, he had relied on his swordsmanship. Like a crutch, he had utilized it at every twist and turn of the arduous road that was his life. This was, perhaps, the reason why he had never climbed higher in his studies as a magi, which had shown in the stagnation that he had experienced prior to the powers that were disrupting his connection with the Elemental Plane. Whatever the cause, Faust knew in his heart that until he learned to survive without his skill of arms, he would never have any reason to pursue any other calling. Slowly and hesitantly, he reached down to retrieve his weapons belt, and then returned it to the wall from which he had first claimed them.

Indeed, this was one journey that he had to do alone.

He closed his eyes and focused on the force essence around him, drawing it to himself like a moth to a flame. It was nowhere to the naked eye, but to the dark elf, it was everywhere in his surroundings. He could feel it, and it was this power that he summoned to his beck and call now. Already he was envisioning a location on the Great Mountains where he had first encountered a fearsome night drake. In his mind's eye he recalled the vicinity where the nest of that fearsome beast's ilk had claimed as their home. Using the force essence as a slingshot, he bent space upon itself and Teleported himself to their lair, armed with his magic alone.
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Old October 14, 2015, 04:17 PM   #6
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While Faust’s mind held the pen to write and rewrite the fabric of reality using sorcery, he did not wield the power to compose its laws.

Even as the dark elf manipulated the components of Force around him and shaped the tunnel that warped space, he realized that his power no matter how great was unable to fling him more than a few miles. Teleport was limited by his power and it seemed as though he was hitting the upper limits in that respect. That didn’t really stop the Baron from being Teleported though!

The sensation was familiar to him. But fresh from his Amplification, Faust sensed that his grasp and control over the spell was lacking. It was like mounting a war horse only to discover that it was unbridled and wild. The world seemed to shrink and turn elastic all around him and Faust had the distinct pleasure of being hurled headfirst into oblivion. There was the sudden and inexplicable feeling of the world somersaulting before he was deposited ungracefully on some perilous mountainside.

Pros: he was not dead. Nor was he exactly lost. Faust’s long life allowed him to journey through many, if not most, of Telath’s roads and paths. He knew this place well. He was somewhere on the Great Mountains.

Cons: he left his sword. Which felt ...awkward. Panic threatened to choke the air out of his lungs again and Faust suddenly felt the need to sit down. Though it was near the end of summer, the Great Mountains didn’t seem to care. The cold pelted his exposed flesh and Faust could spy growing snowcaps on the many peaks glaring down at him. Worst of all, the overeager use of sorcery sapped him of his Vis completely. He felt feeble and lightheaded. But deep down, Faust also knew that his energy wells were much larger than they were before.

He was a master, in name if not in power. Only time would tell if his mind could accommodate his amplification on a more permanent basis.

Somewhere behind him he heard the high-pitched shriek of the Mountain's greatest predator: the night drake.
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Old October 14, 2015, 05:44 PM   #7
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He rematerialized on the Material Plane with a painful gasp, his regal face planted unceremoniously in the snow and his gloved hands spread awkwardly to either side of him. With an irritated groan, he slowly dragged his knees underneath him and pushed downward on the hidden earth with his arms, forcing himself out of the fresh white powder. Using the following seconds to reorient himself, the Vysstichi Lord methodically wiped the snow from his visage and the silver hair from his crimson eyes. The field of variably-sized peaks and summits that greeted him was somewhat encouraging as it meant that he had transported to his intended destination, but the lingering aches in his slender form reminded him that his spell had not unfolded exactly as planned.

He shook away his temporary daze, far more embarrassed for his dignity than physically wounded. Teleportation was not a new concept to him. He had cast the spell many times during the years, but mostly in close proximities during battle. That he had successfully relocated himself to the Great Mountains, which were many miles removed from Har’oloth, was a testament to the success of his Amplification; however, it also made him aware of how dangerous his attempt had been. Fortunately, it seemed that at least one god above was still keeping an eye on him.

He silently mouthed his thanks to Phedos.

His gratitude, though, quickly transitioned to a prayer as soon as he heard a loud shriek coming from somewhere behind him. On instinct, the swordsman leapt to his feet, his hands reflexively dropping to his blades as they had done a thousand times before under similar duress. It was only when his fingers snatched cold air that he remembered that he had deliberately left his most trusted weapons behind at the Black Citadel. Hindsight was always clearer than glass, and it chastised the Prince of Har’oloth for his imprudence. Had he made a mistake in leaving his swords behind?

The dark elf shouldered the thought away and drew his cloak tighter around him to shield himself from the elements, namely the wind. There was little purpose in reflecting on his decision now, for it appeared that his originally-intended prey was close, far closer than Faust would have liked under the circumstances. The seasoned warrior in him immediately scanned the vicinity for signs of cover, whether the same might manifest in the form of a cluster of leafy trees, a smattering of rocks, or even a cave. He also searched the skyline for the ominous silhouette of the hunter he knew to be near.

No one could ever forget the terrifying scream of a night drake.

Already with a mindset of survival as he sought shelter, Faust prepared to use one of his gloves to sweep his tracks behind him as he swiftly moved off from where he had teleported onto the mountainside. He could already sense that his vis level was depleted if not nil, and thus, he knew that he needed to buy as much time as he could to replenish his reserves and possibly perform the Amplification ritual again.

The dark elf was no stranger to hand-to-hand combat, but he had no desire to try punching a fearsome night drake to death. Indeed, he needed to access his Sorcery again, and soon.
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Old October 14, 2015, 06:57 PM   #8
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Survival.

Wasn’t that Faust’s greatest ability? Beyond swordsmanship and politicking, he learned how to survive despite the odds stacked against him. Born in the cruel customs of the dark elves, he rose from the ranks despite being ill-fit to be matron. Instead of succumbing to the twisted desires of the ruling houses, he defied expectations and secured his position of power. No small feat for a male heir. And his strides toward power only grew when he explored the Realm. Faust learned that the most ruthless usually perished by the very people they lorded over. Even the wisest were outmatched by dirty tactics. No man truly emerged victor. Life was a cesspool.

Each brightening was given only to those who refused to be consumed by the filth. Only survivors deserved to test their fate or plot a different course.

The Baron of Vortex tiptoed his way across the narrow paths on that mountainside, shivering and exhausted. The cold sapped his strength and his lack of Vis further dampened his spirits. Yet he found strength deep in his bones, far beyond what mortal ken could summon even under extraordinary circumstances. Even without his swords, he was a grandmaster, having reached the pinnacle of his physical abilities. Not even his own imprudence could change that.

The light snow made the suns glare even more unbearable to the Vyssie, though a few moments afforded Faust enough information to set his sights on an outcropping. In a different life, he might have been able to conjure fire for warmth and command the mountain to bend. But he traded mastery over the elements in exchange for raw power. Sorcery was not without its merits after all.

Trekking was made more difficult and it took Faust a few candlemarks to reach a nick on the cliff face. It was barely a cave without the necessary depth to be called such. But at least it got rid of the direct chill from the unforgiving mountain air. At least here he could gather his strength. That short time also allowed Faust to recoup a small fraction of his Vis: enough for a couple of initiate spells spaced a few minutes apart. Or a single journeyman spell.
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Old October 14, 2015, 07:43 PM   #9
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Every step sapped a little more strength from his bones, but the Vysstichi Lord nevertheless pressed onward, determined to find a temporary escape from the dire predicament that he had voluntarily waded into. Unfortunately, the frigid wind had no intention of leaving him alone, and it mercilessly tore at his dry skin and sliced through his cloak and tunic like a fine knife. His teeth chattered, and his skin slowly numbed against the freezing air’s incessant bite. It was during times like these that the Prince of Har’oloth longed for the warm flames of the Elemental Plane and control of the environment around him. Alas, those brightening were long gone, stolen by whatever higher being had seen fit to disrupt everything that mortal-kind had known about arcana.

Whether it was due to an answered prayer or a stroke of luck, he finally located a semblance of a cave near the mountain’s cliff face. Like a thirsty man finding a small spring in the Deserts of Arakmat, the dark elf ambled towards the small opening and found refuge in the small nook. It barely hid him from the elements, but he could immediately feel a surge of comfort as the wind failed to chase him into his fleeing hideout. His shoulders slumped against the rocky wall, and he found his gaze gravitating to the blue skyline as he wondered yet again if the night drake would make its imminent appearance.

Time was not on his side, he knew, for the distant cousin of dragon-kind was a renowned hunter. Faust had slain his fair share of them in his life, and he knew them to be creatures worthy of the deepest respect. Fortunately, it did not seem like the beast, wherever it was, had caught his scent, and thus, he suspected that he had a moment or two to catch his breath, return the warmth to his bones, and rest long enough to regain a spell or two.

Luckily, that moment came.

He used the peace of the minute to return to clara, focusing on what vis he had regenerated and using it to gather a small amount of Force Essence from the air around him. The first thing that he did was envelop the area around him in a circular Force Field, not only to keep the wind at bay, but also to stop any unruly predators from springing upon him while he rested inside. In another era, the spell might have been known as a Circle of Magic, but Faust had learned since the strange shift in magic that only those versed in Sorcery were still able to replicate that particular weave.

He was quite grateful for it now.

Once his defensive spell, which operated like a magical tent in many ways, was complete, he sat down and closed his eyes again, meditating on the Force Essence around him as he tried to understand what exactly had happened to him during the Amplification. Earlier on he had felt strangely different, as if something had changed in him after the ritual, but his Teleportation spell had unfortunately drained all of his vis at the time and prevented him from completely comprehending the depths of the experience.

He would rest as long as was necessary to continue restoring his vis. Only fools trudged into battle unprepared, and with no swords at his disposal, Faust knew that he needed as much of his magic as possible once he encountered the night drake.

The suns would be setting in a matter of candlemarks, and when that time came, his enemy would certainly be out hunting.
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Old October 15, 2015, 11:24 AM   #10
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Magic changed in more ways than one.

Some side effects included initiates learning to customize their spells and learning to specialize much sooner than generations of mages before them. The ease of access to cast spells also dramatically changed the way mages called on their powers. No longer limited by meditation before reaching Clarity, spellcasting turned into an organic part of their lives akin to swordplay or tradecraft. But this loosened membrane also allowed a significant amount of contamination to linger on the mage’s person and casting location.

Arcana Contamination was subtle at first, barely noticeable until it was too late. For sorcerers, remnants of their machinations seemed to twist and confuse the laws of physics. His Amplification and subsequent teleportation quickly accelerated this process. Faust’s Force Field only added to the growing muck of sticky contamination that stuck to his body like a prison of spiderwebs. It made his spellcasting slow and clumsy. Debris around him levitated while heavier objects found themselves bouncing comically as gravity was diminished.

Fortunately, Faust’s strained efforts were rewarded. An opaque wall of anti-momentum shimmered into existence to protect the dark elf from the howling winds outside. It was not a very comfortable place but at least he was relatively safe so long as his spell held. At this rate, it would be several candlemarks before the relatively simple conjuration dissipated. So Faust shivered as his body groaned against the jagged walls of the small nook he found.

Somewhere far away he heard the muffled sound of drake song echoing across the Great Mountains.
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Old October 15, 2015, 12:30 PM   #11
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The Force Field was a minor comfort, but it was still one of few that could be found on the merciless Great Mountains – thus, he was quite grateful for it. With his thick cloak drawn tightly around his shoulders and pulled close to contain his body warmth, the Prince of Har’oloth waited in the safety of his magical barrier to slowly regain his strength. It was a brutal environment to endure, but Faust had ventured through the Great Mountains enough times to know how to survive. Nevertheless, that knowledge and familiarity did not ward him from the cold, nor did it reduce the amount of shivers that rolled down his spine and caused goosebumps to surface along his flesh.

He needed to keep moving.

Underneath the folds of his mantle, the Vysstichi Lord ran his hands up and down his shoulders repeatedly in an effort to facilitate the blood flow throughout his body. It was a common method used by many outdoorsmen, but it was also one that most children learned instinctively from their earliest brightenings of life. As he warmed his upper half, he also stamped in place, alternating from one foot to the other to keep his limbs moving and his toes wiggling. Uncertain how long it would be before his path crossed with the night drake, he wanted to ensure that his physique was primed and ready when the time came, especially if his magic failed him.

He was not oblivious to the fact that his Force Field had not come about without some difficultly. What should have been a fairly easy spell to cast had been labored if not unexpectedly challenging. That concerned him more than anything, for it was a clear sign that he was in no condition to battle the night drake just yet. Ever a student of his surroundings, he studied the various debris around him as the magical residue generated as a result of his spell defied the laws of nature and ascribed characteristics to the debris that it most certainly should not have had.

Gods, it was a good thing that he had not sought out Toherro first.

Indeed, the dragonlich would have fileted him alive and added him to his legions of undead. The thought was humbling to consider.

The sound of the night drake in the distance kept the Vysstichi Lord’s mind from wandering too far. Realizing that the Arcane Contamination was the cause of the strange occurrences around him, he decided not to cast another spell or enter clara, and instead opted to use the precious time that he had beneath his Force Field to recuperate and regain his vis. Once he was comfortable that he had more than a handful of spells in his repertoire, he would move off in the direction of his prey’s battle cry and seek it out.

He would take as long as was needed to do so.
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Old October 15, 2015, 12:49 PM   #12
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One way or another, Faust managed to keep warm and recoup his strength.

Dawn came abruptly and Faust felt the first kiss of dew on his exposed flesh. The Force Field was no more but his thick cloak managed to warm him through the darkening. While his stomach gnawed with hunger, he was greeted with a different sort of fullness. His Vis pool was completely restored. What’s more was the heaviness that came with a much deeper reservoir of power: Faust was still a master in strength if not yet in skill.

The Great Mountains were beautiful despite the overwhelming danger that lurked at every corner. There was a stillness in the air and the scent of wildflowers and fresh powder carried far and wide. Not far from his nook, Faust spied a few dark shapes in the sky -- hovering, gliding. Not nearly large enough to be drakes but other predators hunting for Rosyun.
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Old October 15, 2015, 05:17 PM   #13
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The morning’s first rays of sunlight wakened the dark elf from his reverie. Although unaware of how many hours had passed since he had closed his eyes, Faust required no clock to recognize that a brand new brightening awaited him. Notwithstanding the perpetual chill of the Great Mountains, he felt completely reenergized and renewed as if his entire body had been re-forged during the night. It was an encouraging feeling considering the immense drain that he had known only the day prior. Indeed, never had he been more grateful for his decision to rest instead of stretching himself too thin.

His Force Field long dissipated, the Vysstichi Lord knew that it was time to relocate, not that he needed the magical barrier now anyway. He dusted the powdery snow from his cloak and wiped away the heckling dew that had gathered on it during the darkening. As he returned to his feet, an angry growl coming from his stomach stopped him from stepping forward. On instinct, he dropped a hand to his abdomen and rubbed it slightly, realizing for the first time that it had been many hours since he had eaten. At his current altitude he suspected that food would be difficult to come by as vegetation was generally sparse in the cold, but something else distracted him from his growing hunger.

He felt . . . different.

A thin smile appeared along the corner of his lips as he immediately entered clara again, gathering the Force essence around him as he once more gauged the depths of his latest transformation. Being a mage of many eras, he was easily able to determine that his vis reserves seemed to be noticeably greater in comparison to the previous brightening’s. While that revelation might have appealed to some, to Faust, it was also a reminder that he needed to learn how to control it.

His last Teleportation spell, after all, had nearly killed him.

He spotted a flock of what appeared to be birds in the distance. Their silhouettes offered little insight into their identities, but they were definitely too small to be the night drake that he sought. Still, he knew that his prey was a predator as well, and thus, it was possible that the creature was already preparing to fill its belly this morning and was therefore nearby. Had Faust enjoyed the taste of raw meat, he might even have considered doing the same thing.

Searching for a route that would take him closer to the flying creatures, Faust sought the path most littered with shadows, outcroppings, rocks, trees, or other structures that might provide him with some shelter from sight. Experience kept him low as he traveled, his figure reduced as much as possible to help him avoid being seen. He also paid close attention to the direction of the wind, knowing that even a casual twist in the breeze might carry his scent into the nostrils of any prowling enemies around him.

Always did he keep his gaze roving around him as well, scanning closely for signs of the fiend that he knew to be out there somewhere.
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Old October 15, 2015, 07:19 PM   #14
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Satisfied by his newfound powers and elated at the possibilities available to him, Faust decided to carpe diem.

It was a straightforward enough plan: remain in the shadow of the mountain and cut across the terrain without drawing too much attention. Night drakes were known to prowl these paths and Faust might not fare as well on an empty stomach. There was a stiff southern breeze that sloped with the mountain face. Being surefooted made it easy enough to trace some semblance of a path into the lower edges of the mountainside.

Less than a candlemark later and Faust found himself in a secluded alpine meadow. A field of lavender, gold, and crimson wildflowers spread in front of him. Overhead he spotted the birds of prey circling. Venturing into the field was tempting. A (very) small part of him wanted to prance among the flowers. But doing so meant leaving the safety of the mountain and the copse of fir and pine trees.

As for the fiend, Faust found no sign of it. Night drakes were powerful predators but many scholars agreed that they tended to hunt at night anyway. Superior senses and sleeping mammals made for some easy pickings.

Despite the glare of sunlight, Faust managed to pinpoint movement among the meadows too. Small game perhaps?
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Old October 15, 2015, 08:06 PM   #15
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His stomach continued to growl, reminding him that somewhere, many miles below the Great Mountains, a hot meal was waiting for him in his private chamber at the Black Citadel. With his magical Gate anchored in Har’oloth, returning to his underground lair would have been a simple task for him even before the events of the previous brightening. However, nothing refined strength and innovation better than desperation. This was a journey that he needed to complete on his own, and he was not going to allow a single breakfast to disrupt his concentration.

His path brought him down the mountainside, eventually leading him to a vast meadow filled with beautiful wildflowers. He had forgotten how stunning the Great Mountains could be in the summertime. That was probably because some of the most dangerous threats that he had ever encountered in his life had been in Arium’s notorious range. Indeed, it was impossible for him not to remember the time that he, Serion, Duncan, Parreyon, and Fidelis had hunted the legendary Url Shekk, a three-headed demon unlike any they had ever faced. The memory alone was enough to elicit a shudder from the Prince of Har’oloth, and this time, it was not due to the cold.

Once he was safely situated among the trees, Faust tilted his head upward to regard the birds circling above. Predators, he realized, although they were still a paltry threat compared to the likes of a night drake. What had lured them here? He wondered. From his vantage point he continued to observe, suspecting that a doomed animal was somewhere nearby and about to be savagely overtaken by a swarm of sharpened talons and beaks.

If the place was not so dangerous, he might have considered bringing Iliviana to see it. How she would have enjoyed running through the flowers! Or cutting them down, he soberly thought a second later. Regardless, it was far too delightful a venue to forget about.

How might it look from above?

In clara and with the world practically at his fingertips, the Prince of Har’oloth dispensed with caution for the moment. The power that he had received in the Black Citadel was not something that could be mastered while he hid in the trees. It needed to be harnessed, tamed, and released. Until he learned how to do so, he knew that his chances of slaying his archenemy were virtually non-existent. Toherro, after all, had had centuries – millennia, perhaps- to practice his arcana.

Collecting a supply of Force Essence from the surrounding area, the Vysstichi Lord carefully enveloped himself in it, then slowly lifted himself off the ground to begin floating into the air. Before the higher powers had robbed him of Elementalism, he had used wind and earth to construct a similar spell, yet this version of Levitation seemed to be far more natural to him. Higher and higher he would carry himself, only a few feet at a time as he tried to maintain control of his spell.

And if the opportunity presented itself, he might even try to enjoy the view.
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