Carrion Crown: Kyle's

Deep thoughts

In the time taken walk back to the strange inventor’s cottage and seeing the steel contraption beached on the pebbled foreshore Amandlon was deep in thought about his new path.

Having the 50,000 in gold leads to being able to purchase needed magical items from the town merchants that would greatly aid the fight against the whispering cult. Ecthelion stated that he needed a belt that increased his stamina, though I felt he needs strength more, after hearing of the botched attempt to lift a wagon of the trapped grandmother.

Thinking on what the heroes need, it is clear that we need some enchantments to protect against poisons and attacks on our sanity. I know the coin was to buy the Ravenshead artifact but this will not be bought so easily I feel. Not only does it not rightfully belong the current possessor, the whisperinf way cultist, I do not intend on providing them so much wealth to continue funding their evil ways.

We could pool all the coin and gems made from the sales of the found magical items, and the 50,000 gold, so the group can make combined purchases of items that protect us all. Too easy have the assassins and cultists been able to severely hurt or kill our allies.

I think I will speak to the others when I get back, after we have dealt with the mantis killer, and clearer heads prevail at dinner.

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Devouring 1001 Soul

The lifeless female halfing body laid upon the ground, as the blood spilled across the floor. Anastasya felt the urges to bathe in the blood, feast on the flesh of the corpse. But gritting her teeth she managed to tame the inner beast that lurked inside her. Leaning over the body she looked upon the male halfing. “I am ready to begin..” Seconds later she started to murmur words in Necril “Ast fastus charon ab bitus nordiarch” (May these souls be devoured for they have sinned) over several times. After the symbolic hymns were completed, Anastasya moved to caress the lips of the lifeless body. Feeling the Darkness approaching, encroaching… as the essence transferred from one body to another. Anastasya skin begins to darken and the veins in her neck pulsate, submerging her with the evil intent…

Her eyes deluded to white, as the echoes in her mind turned to screams of pain..
Overburdening her with such vile acts of pain, her mind became unstable as if experiencing a 1000 years of torture.
“Argggggghhhhh!” She screamed with her voice sounding so loud it echoes across The Tangles.

“This power is over taking me” groaning in agony, “I must hold my willpower together” Anastasya struggles to crawl to the nearby room grabbing a piece of ceremonial chalk and embarks on drawing a pentagram around her. “By The Bones Land in a Spiral I will not let you control meeeeee!”

Completing the pentagram she huddles up into a fetal position rocking back and forth murmuring the words in Necril “Ast fastus charon ab bitus nordiarch” Slowly the voices in her mind start to fade away, her skin blemish back to its former color and her pupils return to their former state. Leaving Anastasya vigorously panting as the ritual is completed. However feeling the essence absorbed into her soul Asastaysa feels immense power course through her veins as if she was as strong as 1000 men, but knowing that the duration is limited to a short time. She needed to make the use of it by hunting the vampire who she has tracked into Carrion Hill.

Bewildered by the room next door, where she left the two halfings. She felt the warmth on her skin as the room was overpowered by some unnatural source of light. Anastasya waiting for it to stop as her eyes were dazzeled by the display. Glancing upon the room she saw the halfings hugging each other as if they haven’t seen each other in decades…

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At the water's edge

Camping in the woods near the coastline brought back many memories of his childhood in the firelani forests with his sister and cousins when they were just children. Leaning against a tea tree with paperlike bark Amandlon reflected on the assassination attempt yesterday by the red mantis agents. They were extremely efficient and had killed two of us within seconds with their poisoned bolts and ability to shoot with pinpoint accuracy at our vitals.
Looking down at his healed ankle, Amandlon still feels the pain at the bolt that shattered it and pinned it to the floor of the stables, while the second bolt punched through his elven mail straight into his heart crashing him into darkness at once.
Again the halfling knight, Ecthelion saved his soul and brought him back with Sarenraes call. Amandlon owes the knight twice for saving him now. Looking down at the holed elven mail that was made by a master armorer for his family, Amandlon realises that he had been foolish to think elves were better than the other races here. Desna is showing me a different path to connect our elven cities with the younger races, I see that I need to learn more from them, than the other way around. I am the wisest elf in my city, yet I did not see the truth until meeting these heroes.
Standing up Amandlon removes his elven mail and bundles the mail into his backpack. Taking up the finely enchanted mithral shirt that seems to absorb the light, Amandlon slips the chain shirt over his fine cotton undershirt to settle smoothly on his body. Immediately Amandlon notices that he is not easily seen by the nearby animals or birds as he stalks through the wooded area here.
Amandlon makes the decision to walk this new path and adapt to the life and style shown by these adventuring heroes travelling with him. He must not be so arrogant and always rely on the lady to get him out of trouble, it is time for Amandlon to make his own luck too.
It is time to become the hunter not the hunted.

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Darkest hour before the light

Amandlon leans back against the wall sitting opposite Ulysses, while sipping his wine, and thinks on the heroes. It seems this city has taken three heroes off their path into darker travels, the witch we could do without, but Ulysses and Zephyr had skills we needed to fight the cultists in Thrushmoor and Ilmarsh.

I think Lord Ecthelion, Falkon and I need to leave this city before the corruption gets into us. Time to pray for guidance on the new path ahead for the remnants of the heroes and hopefully the lady will direct new worthy heroes to aid our efforts.

If the halfling knight falls off the good path it will be the death of the heroes and I will need to find another group of stronger allies to travel with in these dangerous lands. I smell old death and decay in the corners of this city and grave concerns about the carriages near the mines.

Putting his glass on the table, drained off its dregs, Amandlon goes to prepare for the road tonight. Bidding Ulysses a safe road until we meet again Amandlon pulls his elven hood over his head and blends into the drunk locals wandering the streets back to his church.

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The path less travelled

Sitting in the newly consecrated shrine to Desna Amandlon practices the mental discipline that strengthens his will and focus on the celestial realms of the lady. This city is built on layers upon layers of corrupted filth with the nobles selling their peoples souls to turn a profit making the middenstone.
The recent journey with the heroes of Harrowstone has shown first hand the spawn of evil and chaos that infests the city, summoned by cultists led by the high priest of abadar it seems. Before pursuing a path that leads to conflict with another church and the ruining of a ruling authority Amandlon is seeking a commune with the lady for answers to the citys future.
Amandlon can feel the insanity pressing against the minds of all in the city and sees the signs of some falling into madness. Amandlon is one of the wisest of his city and even he can feel his mental strength waning.

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Bringing back the dead

Falkon sat up rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He could tell that he had been in a deep sleep as his head began to clear. As his eyes focused on the prison cell bars, Falkon couldn’t help but smile. Waking up in a cell with two dead Paladins beside you would usually mean that there are worse things to follow but, Falkon felt that today would present a chance to turn the tide of the anarchy that plagued this city. This evil town had presented himself and his party with nothing but chaos in the past few days and now it was finally time to put things right.

The trial would be done with by the end of the day and he would once again be free from the clasp of the law. The fact that he was the only currently living member of the party convicted did not bother him. Yet before he could begin thinking about his defense there were errands that needed doing, starting with the paladins.

Falkon walked over to the iron bars and rattled them hard. Sparks flew between the bars as electric currents streamed out of his recharged body.

“GUARDS, Were are the Guards.” He yelled out through the bars.

Within a few seconds he could here footsteps moving hastily down the hallway until a plump-faced guard who had a startled look on his face came into view.

“Any word in regards to these potato sack Paladins being resurrected?” Falkon asked slightly nudging Ecthelian’s limp body with his boot as he did so.

The guard screwed up his face as if wasn’t sure if was aloud to say. He obviously wasn’t used to taking orders from prisoners.

“Well” Falkon demanded, “If there is word I shall here it.”

“A messenger arrived not an hour ago and said a adequate cleric had been found. He needs at least a day for the preparations. The Paladins bodies are to be taken up to the church and are set to be resurrected at first light tomorrow morning. However, the Cleric refuses to waste his time and therefor will not begin until he has his payment of 24,000 gold. This price is non-negotiable.”

Falkon smiled at this, “Tell this cleric the Paladins and his payment are ready to be picked up immediately.”

“Right away” the Guard replied before scooting of again.

Falkon delved his hand into his pocket feeling around until his fingers brushed against bone. He chuckled as he pulled out the ‘Orcus amulet of the faithful’, its negative energy weighing heavy in his hand. Looking over at the paladins he could almost hear their spirits shouting out at him, destroy it! Destroy it! IT MUST BE DESTROYED! It was funny how little power their codes on honors held in death. If they were breathing they would already have been belted this beautiful amulet into pieces with a hammer by now. Paladins never seemed to have any sense when it came to finances. They were always burning and destroying useful items. Not this time though. This time Falkon would make sure that their party utilized their wealth to the best possible outcome. Falkon did not have words for how much it amused him that he would be buying back the lives of two Paladins by selling a demonic trinket from a hellish plane. The irony almost killed him. The amulet was at least worth 26,000 so the deal would be a fair one. If anything Falkon merely felt like showing the two Paladins that sometimes evil can be used to fight evil.

As Falkon Sat waiting for the cleric to arrive and take the lifeless Paladins up to the church his mind was suddenly bent and fixed on something far more important; the Orb of storms. How had he let it slip from his mind? For the safety of the orb was paramount to the fight against evil. Friends would come and fall but to loose the orb? The very thought made Falkon’s insides congeal into an ooze that seemed to weigh him down as if his body was made of adamantine. Where was it? The most intense desire to hold it rushed over him. He sprang up and almost dived at his backpack. Ripping open the flap he began to tear at its contents, throwing anything that wasn’t the orb across the room. He couldn’t find it. An immense rage began to build under his skin. He felt like a kettle sitting in a molten forge about to explode. He was now thrashing at the outside pockets, the first yielded nothing, nor did the second. As he began to unhinge the buckle of the last pocket he took a deep breath. It was a small cell after all and if the orb was not in this last pocket Falkon couldn’t even comprehend… the buckle at last flew open.

Gone.

The orb of storms was gone. Falkon threw the bag across the room in a fit of rage, his head screaming as his lunges ceased to function. He grabbed at his heart in an attempt to ease the piercing pain, but he couldn’t. There was an object on the inside of his robe that was in the way. For a second he was confused before remembering. Of course! The Orb was inside his robe. The place it had always been. He pulled it out just to make sure.

With a big sigh of relief Falkon clasped the orb tight in his hands. “There you are, yes, yes, I knew you wouldn’t abandon me.” Falkon felt all the anger and stress wash out from his body. How did he not think of looking in his robe? He couldn’t understand where his irrational behavior had come from, but it didn’t matter. The orb was safe. As long as the orb was safe everything would be ok.

Falkon spent the next hour thinking about how he could prevent this from happening again. He believed his robe was the safest place for the orb but not safe enough. There was room for improvement and he had a plan.

He would need to find the finest Tailor, Alchemist, and Locksmith Carron Hill could produce. Cost would not be an issue when it came to the safety of the orb. After drawing a few sketches his plan was as follows. He wanted the tailor to make the pocket on the inside of his robe double layered. The inner layer would provide the perfect sized resting place for the orb that could only be accessed through the finest zip and lock the locksmith could produce. Inside the outer layer, he would then get the alchemist to inset a deadly poison. That way, anyone who would try and cut into the pocket would strike through the poison layer and be left in a bit of trouble. Falkon would need an antidote for the poison of course, just in case he came in contact with it himself. Adventuring was a dangerous business after all. He would offer 1,000 gold to each of them for their services. Although he thought this was an excessive amount, he didn’t want the pocket anything less than perfect, plus, this would be enough for them to refine his design and test it with various materials.

Falkon would sleep better knowing the orb was kept safe. Especially with all the current distrust and theft amongst the party.

“it is time” a man in strange gold robes said to several of the guards in the prison. The two stretches the paladins had been laid on were picked up by several crows and were ready to be ferried to the Abadar church to be resurrected.

“Oh Abadar, judge of the gods, we understand the key to a prosperous and ordered society is to follow your golden rules. Firstly, we acknowledge that rights and liberty must be paid for in gold. Secondly we acknowledge that no man is above the law, no creature below it, we do not question the law unless it is contradictory to the majority. We are simply required to obey the law, understanding it, both the spirit and the literal meaning it was suppose to represent. Thirdly, we acknowledge your might, your sound mind for commerce and business. We acknowledge the harmonization and cultivation of cultures which are required for congruence of all communities, demonic and angelic, so that all beings can live in peace. Finally, we acknowledge your divine law, which surpasses all others. Oh mighty one, before you here today, stand a sylph sorcerer named Falkon, who beseeches thy the return of thy dearly departed. These souls here before you today, the living wishes them to be returned, for they have work yet to do on the material plane.

As ordained cleric, a loyal and faithful worshiper, I Gweldon Gray pray for you to return the souls of ‘Ecthelian Talamar’ and the man called the ‘Raven Knight’ to the land of the living. For this we offer this tithe to pay for your divine blessing”. Gweldon holds up a large golden font full of gold pieces, he then raises it above his head as a ceremonial blessing. The act itself was symbolism of Gweldons devotion. An act of rejoice to the large ornate key carved in the roof of the temple. After moments passed with Gweldon sharing a private moment of prayer, Gweldon places the font down on a golden dais infront of the main altar. Exthelians and the Ravens Knighs bodies were directly faced the dais, in which began to strangely resonate when uxtaposed to the two bodies on the stone slab. Gweldon returned for another small font, this one an ivory coloured bone font with numerous siler pieces in it.

Refacing the altar Gweldon began to chant again.

“We offer this tribute to the Lady of the graves, so Chauron and her psychopomps provide their souls a safe journey back to their corporeal bodies”.
Gweldon held up a small bone font full of silver pieces above his head, motioning it towards the small symbol of Pharasma hanging on a tapestry on the eastern side of the temples walls, before placing it on the central dais with the gold coloured and filled font font. Keeping his attention focused on the central altar, Gweldon clutches the key around his neck. “Such tribute shall be stored in your vaults until it is to be claimed by the rightful benefactors at a time of your choosing, and we the ordained clergy shall protect it until then”. Gweldon returned to the two dead paladins laid out on the golden coloured silk covered sheets, resting on 10 ft long solid stone slabs.

“Abadar, we make this final offer, this final tribute as a cost for the return of the mortal soul”. Gweldon placed a large diamond on the chest of each of the two dead paladins. The diamond itself a material component required to complete a spell of resurrection.

“To ensure a save journey we now ask for a moment of solace and silence, so those that wish the soul’s reunification of the flesh, a final chance to commune with the dead. May there prayers be answered. May those that pray offer there own tribute to Abadar and the gods, to ensure their own prayers are head”. Gweldon turned to those in the temple witnessing the resurrection and offered them a chance to kneel beside the bodies and pray for there return. “Please sit Falkon and pray, place any tribute you offer for the journey upon the dais so that your friends may return safely, with the gods appeased and guided by your prayers”. Gweldon offers an outstretched hand to a golden inlaid prayer mat, which directly faced the altar and another large Abadar symbol behind it on the northern most facing of the temple.

In the entryway to the shrine and resurrection room, the temple had an uncomfortable feel, as more then twenty fully armoured Crow watchmen kept a close eye on the proceedings. Giggles erupted amongst them as one of the Crow members cracked a joke. “Too come back from the dead only to die again, what a waste of coin”. Another replied “Thee halflings not gonna payout much in the eternity mines, they don’t pay that much for knee high workers. His body will be there more then 100 years before ei actually earns a copper”. Gweldon shot them an angry stare, which quickly quieted them down. Advion followed up Gweldon’s glance with some words of his own. “It is not wise to speak ill of the dead, those that do are often haunted by vengeful spirits and souls from beyond the grave”. Adivion had taken some time out of his busy campaign schedule for mayor of Carrion Hill, as to ensure his friends saw a friendly face when they awoke. “Besides, these men are heroes, they gave up there lives to bring justice to a heinous serial killer that you crows could not apprehend. And for that, they should be commended, respected and honoured”.

The brashest of the Crow guards did not take kindly to Adivion’s statement. Most of the Crows had become tight lipped around the aristocrat, especially since he currently was the strongest candidate for the new mayor’s position in Carrion Hill. Yet Davis could not let Adivion’s words go unanswered.

“We will see old man, there are still plenty of rich folk up in the Crown, morn’en the dead. Upright citizens of Carrion Hill whom can’t afford resurrection, like these two criminals ere. Zephyr told us all about em and how they are the prime suspects for them upright citizens deaths, These two sure as hell had a hand in kill’en. That coin spent on em would’a been better spent on em folk already morning loss. For sure no one ‘eres mourning there deaths. So far we aint found nothing that suggest these men weren;t responsible. En what we did recover from Imeron’s could have been planted by this lot friends. With Imeron miss’en, how do we know this lot are simply not setting up an innocent man? Probably got poor Imeron stashed somewhere, or they dropped him in a grave to create an alibi for the murders. Even Detective Hammerlock is miss’en. Strange since he only went missing when he got involved with investigating em. En us Crows all saw you come in to town with em, so how’s do we know your not simply try’en to deflect our attention from the real culprits ere. We’re had only problems since they arrived. And worst now the Crows have to deal with more vigilante as adventurers from all over flock the land, ere, to kill some beast this lot probably conjured. Them sounds more like the real cultists then those locked up in prison. What’s worse we now hear they’re been consorting with demons, protecting a witch halfling succubus with black raven wings. So you tell me why I should be respectful”.

The words began to sink into all the Crows whom watched the proceedings. “You should all know that I studied at Quaterfaux academy in the capital, so believe me when I tell you that several powerful diviners are in route to divine the truth about the murders”.

“So we get more outsiders ere, creating more problems”, Davis continued his verbal attack. “More people whom an’;t be trusted”. Davis quickly turned his attention to the dead Raven knight, pointing out his holy garments to the others, “There was a reason Pharasman worshippers were excommunicated from Carrion Hill. Cause when there ere, we always get problems like this”.

Davis words stuck a sound blow. Momentarily Adivion seemed lost for words. But he soon recovered. “Quaterfaux acadamae is a respectable institution, its inhabitants some of the most gifted wizards and alchemists in Ustalav. I would have you mind your words as any attack n the academe is an insult on all those that practiced there. Can you not understand the logic behind involving practitioners of the arcane arts. {Perhaps your brains is to small to comprehend and understand such magic. Do not be adverse in this matter. I simply wish for all parties involved for the truth to be revealed before we condemn them, by simply giving them a chance to explain there actions themselves and magic to support the investigation. For dead men tell no tales. It is therefore logical and in the best interest of all parties involved, that this ceremony is completed uninterred. Besides I see something in the halfling others do not. Ecthelion has and will continue to accomplish great things, I believe in him, as I do with those in his retinue to make the right decision when the time comes. I believe some day soon, Ecthelian will unify all the barons of Ustalav to common purpose, and I aim to be by his side when he accomplishes this”.

“Well he won’t be accomplishing much more when he’s scrap’en up dead carrion beetles in the Eternity mines. En halflings…”, but before Davis could finish his sentence Gweldon prevented him from talking any further.

“SILENCE” Gweldon commanded. “You are in a sacred place of worship, a place of divine law and contemplation and as such you will treat it accordingly. Take any further grievances outside, for this is a sacred place. And Davis if you decide to stay, unless you want to be taxed for disturbing the peace on sacred ground, I suggest you keep the remainder of your words to yourself for the rest of the ceremony”.

Davis sneered but kept quiet. Several Crow members decided to leave and wait outside. Tempers had be flaring up all over the city with crime on the rise and more adventurer wanna bees flocking to the city for a chance at the beast.

Gweldon returned to the bodies, and began to chant the lengthy spell of resurrection. After about a minute of chanting, Ecthelion’s body began to twitch with life. His chest began its rhythmic breathing again, suckling in new air as his life was returned. His eye lids final opened from there dormant state. Opening his eyes Ecthelion found himself basically naked with a small gold dyed silk sheet covering up is private parts. About a minute later after Ecthelion returned from the dead, so to did the Raven knight.
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Ecthelian could hear the High Cleric of Abadar’s voice sounding from some place afar, calling him back into his body that had slowly began to pulse once more. With every beat of his heart, warmth flooded to his fingertips – warmth which he’d began to wonder if he would ever feel again. He began to slide back down into his body, letting it’s warmth envelope him, like hot water in a bath, but death seemed to grab him by the collar – not ready to relinquish his spirit yet.

A heavenly voice chimed out to Ecthelian. “My child, please do not go back yet, for there is something I must explain to you and it is of dire import.” Ecthelian felt himself lurch upward, and an deaths icy cold emrace washed over him once more.

Before Ecthelian appeared a beautiful woman, robed in light itself. Bright light wreathed her sublime body. Tears fell from her face, and still she was far more beautiful than anything the Halfling had seen. ‘My Dawnflower,’ Ecthelian mouthed. “What is wrong?”

“You have been ever so devout my child, and I am sorry to place on your shoulders yet another burden, but this task has been chosen for you by forces even greater than my own. A battle draws near, and with it a closing. You are all that stands in the way of a tragic ending. You must stay true Ecthelian. Do not let the evils taint your judgement. Fate itself keeps you alive, not just I, for one reason …when the final battle comes, you must prevail, and you must remember who you fight for.”

“I will never forget mother. My sword is yours, and yours alone. I will fight for your grace for as long as I exist, and no other.”

“Good! It can be no other way. Remember that. Now go! See to your sister… and watch those at your side, for not all can be trusted.”

The land of the living beckoned once more, and Ecthelian drifted slowly back down into his body. He found himself standing amongst butterflies. The Raven Knight was forgiving a man named Davis, for some reason. Ecthelian body jolted violently, and all his senses came back. He stood up as tall as he could, and addressed the crowd around him. “Where is my sister. You will take me to her immediately! The last few hours have been Hell, and I have waited over a decade to rest my hand on her sweet face”
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Ulysses awakens, the world a swarm of monochromatic hues. He feels around, the visual assault continuing. He feels the dry rustling of leaves beneath his hands and beneath his head. A light burns through the maelstrom of tone and slowly the world begins to sharpen. Ulysses lays on the ground breathing deeply as the shape of a large oak tree forms in front of him.

With hesitation Ulysses stands, hoisting himself upon the tree as he does so. The white light of the sun high above does little to comfort Ulysses as he looks ahead of him. A forest of bare tree’s surround him and a blanket of leaves lay at his feet as if the landscape had become perpetual autumn. Upon every tree perched an unkindness of Ravens, each looking intently at the Ulysses.

Realisation crept through him like the setting sun. Turning wildly from side to side Ulysses collapses on his knees, hands held up on pray.

“It is I, your sword, your feather, your sentinel, your son. I walk now through the Valley of death so I too may be judged.” As he speaks pain burns through his forehead and he falls to the ground, pain sweeping his body. All around him the forest starts to burn, the fierce orange of the flames engulfing the soft greys of the world around him. Clutching at his head Ulysses screams out, the language of undeath dripping from his tongue;

“Subvenite Sancti Dei, occurrite Angeli Domini: Suscipientes animam ejus, offerentes eam in conspectu Altissimi!.” The flames stop and the world turns quiet. Pushing himself upon his knees Ulysses looks up, sweat dripping from his brow. Ahead of him stands a man, tall, his face that of a skeleton, his mouth twisted into an eternal grin. The figure begins to clap slowly, the sound echoing through the empty forest.

BRAVO, BRAVO” The figure smirks. “A FINE PERFORMANCE BUT I’M AFRAID THE CURTAIN HAS ALREADY BEEN DRAWN MY DEAR RAVEN KNIGHT.” The figure begins to approach Ulysses, twirling it’s cane as it walks.

“Where is she Samedi? Ulysses replies. “WHO ULYSSES, THE LADY OF THE GRAVES? THE MOTHER COME TO SEE HER FALLEN CHAMPION?” Baron Samedi chuckles before kneeling before Ulysses, placing a bony finger upon Ulysses forehead. “I SEE NO CHAMPION? DARKNESS BURNS IN YOU YET, EMBRACE IT AND YOU SHALL DEFEAT YOUR ENEMIES. EMBRACE IT AND ALLOW ME TO SHIELD YOU FROM HER SIGHT.”

Ulysses pushes the finger away, falling back onto the ground. Supporting himself on his elbows he looks into the eyes of Samedi. “I will not succumb Samedi, I am her sword.”

THE REAL WORLD IS NOT BLACK AND WHITE ULYSSES

Trembling Ulysses unhinges the sword at his side and lunges forward swiping at Samedi. “You are not my master! Take your foul words and begone”. Samedi disappears in a swirl of black smoke, the sword slicing through the ethereal vapours. All around Ulysses a voice echoes.

REMEMBER, HE WHO DOES NOT FEAR DEATH DIES ONLY ONCE.” Cackling fills the air as darkness fills Ulysses mind, all around him the forest begins to fade.
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Both look a little uneasy on their feet, still suffering from the side affects of the resurrection. Gweldon himself looked exhausted. Channelling such divine power through his body into the recently dead cadavers, had taken its toll. Flustered, he moved to the prayer mat, kneeling and offering some final words of prayer and gratitude to Abadar for trusting and bestowing such power to him.

As Ecthelian and the Raven knight found there feet, a large black sigil appeared on there brows. The sigil looked like that of a Tien temple gateway with a man hanging upside down, suspended by rope lynched around ones neck. The black moved, glowed, appeared and then disappeared on the paird foreheads, like they were alive. Although the marks were only made out of ink, it appeared to those that witnessed as if the area around the ink was weeping blood. Those that looked at the event expressed distress expressions or gave each other ominous glances. Gweldon immediately thought as if something had gone wrong, or as if Abadar had sent him some sort of warning from the other side. As Gweldon studied the sigil something came to mind. Lost in deep contemplation, Gweldon was shocked back to reality by one of his acolytes.

“Heretic’s, blasphemers, abominations, impure ones”. Another followed up with “Cultists, demon worshippers”. Several Abadar acolytes fumbled with there weapons.

Gweldon commanded once more “SILENCE…”. His voiced boomed like thunder. “We are here to judge them for their beliefs. To do so is to invite ourselves to be judged”.

“But archbishop Gweldon, they wear the mark of the bringer of Chaos, the demon lord of undeath and destruction. They wear the mark of the defiler, the mark of Orcus”.

“Mind your words youngling, to say his name is to invite him in and few can resist his temptation” Gweldon retorted. “Have I not told you many times in the past that as clerics of Abadar it is not our place to deface an individual’s character based on there religious beliefs. We must remain vigilant and keep our minds free from such biased and clouded attitudes. For Abadar seeks the harmonisation of all beliefs, cultures and religions. These men are entitled to there own form of worship, as long as it is conducted legally within the authority of the law”. Gweldon moved over and clamed one of he younger acolytes with his demeanour.

“I only heard yesterday, that our brothers in Korvosa authorised the sacrifice of eleven virgins to Asmodeus, with the church of Sarenrae resurrecting seven of them to keep the populace in the regions beliefs appeased. We do not judge an individual’s beliefs. For even the demonlord of undeath has a seat at Abadar’s table”.

“But… but master…” the acolyte struggled against Gweldons statement.

“Let it rest my brother” Gweldon added. “We will review the ‘Order of numbers chapter six’ later, as to free your minds from such predisposed and jaundiced opinions”. Gweldon turned to the Crows who had gathered. “Captain, these men are all yours. They are to be confined to prison quarters until there trial commences”.

Several of the Crows in the room moved around Ecthelion, the Raven Knight and Falkon. “Alright lads, bring these gits with us and lock em up. If they cause any problems, don’t be gentle. Ecthelion, Raven Knight and Falkon, you are all to come with us”.

“A moment with the prisoners” Adivion asked.

“Easy friend” came a swift response from Adivion. “Your sister is safe. She is resting in the Madhouse Inn, I have had a cleric tend to her wounds and she has two twenty four hour guards watching her at all times. She is resting comfortably asleep, but although her body may heal it will take a long time for her mind to do the same”, Adivion took his time to help Ecthelion on his feet.

“You need to worry about yourself more. I almost lost you and I am not sure that you realise the effect such trauma has had on your body, let alone the effects delving into the abyssal plane Uligor would have on your mind. You should have told me you were intending to head after Vrood in the abyss, I may have been able to help if I knew you were planning such a trip”. Advion gave Ecthelion a concerned look, before offering him some wine to moisten his dried lips.

“You need to look after yourself better, because I am not the only one concerned for your welfare, there are others that care”. Stepping to the side Ecthelion could see the small stature of Riff hiding behind Adivion. Her eyes filled with tears, unable to control her emotions. As she saw Ecthelion get back on his feet she rushed over to him launched to embrace him.

Amongst the whimpers and tears as Riff clasped him like a vice, Ecthelion heard “You promised me that you would look after yourself”. Riff spent the next five minutes locked with Ecthelion, tears ran down her cheeks. “You promised…”.

Riff cried some more and begin to bang into his chest banging his chest with a clenched fist. There was little strength as she pounded his chest. “You promised…” Riff whimpered again. Her cries slowly became sobs, then sniffles. Riff stepped back clearing her eyes, but not before she gave Ecthelion a kiss on his lips. Realising she had kissed him infront of a whole contingent of Crows, accompanying adventurers and clerics, her face went red in embarrassment.

Sensing Riffs discomfort, Adivion stepped back into Ecthelions view as Riff backed off. “I organised the hedge wizard Lykas to teleport Riff here to make sure you had friendly faces when you woke. I have remained in communication with her, after she threatened me with various …. forms of harm at sentinel keep unless I kept her informed of you movement. I must say [Adivion chuckled to himself a little] that I have faced dangerous creatures before on my expeditions, but nothing compared to her scorn. She could freeze a dragon in fear with her stares”. Adivion laughed off the last statement. Riff countered his statement with a heavy thud to his thy. Riff just got more embarrassed with Adivions words.

“Easy… easy” Adivion laughed again.

After the chuckles between Riff and Adivion died down, Adivion face became more serious. “Seriously Ecthelion, now may be a good time to take a rest from adventuring for a while. With me running for mayor, your sister trauma and the city still in chaos, I could use your help to restore order. I am sure Riff would not mind hanging around for a bit. If I win the election for mayor, I might even put her in charge of the Crows, second only to Zephyr of course”. Adivion moved and gave Ecthelion a pat on the shoulder. Although looking weary from his ceaseless campaigning for mayor, he still held the demeanour of a rich and upstanding gentleman, one from a definite noble and wealthy background. His golden sceptre still glistened from his waste, as did the various ruby gems on the various rings on his fingers.

“The city could use your help”. Adivion moved to a nearby window looking empty as the chants from rioters could be heard in the streets.” You have brought Lorrimors murderer to justice”. The slightest hint of tears welled in his eyes. The stiff aristocrat tried his best to hide his tars by staring out the window.

“With Kendra in the wind, and your named sullied by whatever happened at Belfor’s, if you stay here with me I am sure we can solidify your position amongst the nobles in Versex if you are willing to trade a pen for your sword”. Adivion turned to meet Ecthelions eyes, staring down as to hide his watery eyes. “I am sure I am not the only one who wishes you to stay” Adivion said as he glanced over to Riff. His eyes then focussed on the several adventurers whom had been accompanying him since the battle of the Furrows. “Let the others continue hunting the Whispering Way. Too many friends have been lost chasing after them already”. Adivions thoughts began to reminiscent to his adventures with Lorrimor, Krane and Cormarc. With two of his dear friends dead and the other missing on an expedition to the Isle of Terror in Lake Encathan, Adivion found friends in short supply.

“I wish to keep Kendra from adding her name to that list”, Advion added as he crossed his arms in a defensive posture. “Surely you can understand my logic after we have lost so many friends”. Adivion unfolded his arms and cupped his hands behind his back.

Not waiting for a response Adivion added further. “Gustav Kaple and Kaiden Octavious have managed to prevent the Abadar clerics from ordering a fully fledge trial for the events that occurred at Belfor’s estate, due to the ambiguous circumstance and the inconsistent reports from witnesses about what actually happened. Instead it will be a tribunal in which you will have to undertake the test of Abadar. The test involves the use of Abadar truth telling spell. To avoid a trial you must not resist the spell or you will be immediately considered guilty until proven innocent. Psydonos of the Abadar church will be leading the tribunal, he will touch you with his hand and the symbol of Abadar will appear above your head if the spell is successful and you have not resisted its effects. The spell itself imitates a zone of truth, in which those affected can’t speak any deliberate and intentional lies. Hopefully in a few hours we can put whatever happened at Belfor’s behind you and exonerate you from the crimes committed there”.

Riff jumped back into the conversation. “I know you Ecthelian and what you did for Ravensgro, you would have never committed the crimes you are accused of”. Riff gave Ecthelian another pucker on the cheek. “I will see you at the tribunal and maybe after… we ca..an catch up”. Her face went red again when she realised Adivion had heard her words. “After you speak with your sister” she tried to add to deflect Adivions teasing glares. Adivion just laughed.

In the background Ecthelion could hear the Crows giving his companion the Raven Knight a hard time. Only realising then himself he was only covered by some gold silken robes the clerics had placed upon him for the resurrection.

Ulysses continues to his feet, his body shaking. His forehead tingled, the place in which Samedi had placed his finger remained deathly cold. Looking around at the faces staring back at him the Raven Knight musters what dignity he can. “I will come with you crow”.

“Well we can’t have em walken the streets in that sorry state, give em the clothes we brought along”. One of the crows dropped a set of filthy clothes at the Raven Knghts feet. “We only bring out the finest garmentsfor so called heroes. Now get dressed, the small stature of your manhood is making me reconsider why ya making a pact with the devil, trying to get him to compensate for other things huh”. Some of the Crows laughed it off. “I should get Grimsley to give ya a fine toothed comb patdown. But I’d think you both enjoy it ya queers now git moving”. The Crows form a circle and get a little pushy with those that don’t keep pace.

Looking down at the clothes strewn upon the ground the Raven Knight looks up at his captures. “I have clothing, the ceremonial robes of my station. You may try to slur my name, you may try to break my reputation but your cowardly words or actions will not dishonour me Crow. I will not wear your clothing.”

The Raven Knight turns to address Father Gweldon. “Thank you father for what you have done. I came to this town to help free it from the clutches of the beast. I came as the first Pharasman to enter these walls in many years in the hope that a bridge may be built to begin end the decades of violence and tension. I am hopeful that we may speak of these things in detail however I fear that the endless cawing of your crows will deafen any talks of peace.”

Turning back to the Crows. “I am Ulysses, twenty seventh Raven Knight of the holy Church of Pharasma. Death is unavoidable and you too will be judged by the Lady of the Graves. Ut iudicium vestrum esse velox.”

Spit you foul curses elsewhere" Davis ran off his mouth again, looking to the other crows as if to suggest the Raven Knight needed to be taught a lesson in manners. Before he went any further his capatain broke the flaring tension.

“Well lads look like this ones going for a birthsuit parade through the tangle. Ya Pharasman garbs are back at the prison, so if ye ain’t gonna wear the rags your comming going for a nightwalk naked”. The captain wore a grin. “Brrr its cold out” another Crow says jokingly.

Falkon Laughed along with the captain and the crows this time. “I find it amusing that you snap at these Crows for disrespecting you, when really, offering you the option not to go walking the streets naked was the first respectful thing the have ever done. You make blemishing your reputation an easy job for these crows my friend.”

“Very well” says the Raven Knight, picking up the clothing and placing it over his head. The filthy rags fitting loosely around him. “If you would have me dress as a beggar then so be it Falcon. I assume it was you who brought us here, and I assume it was you that allowed our gear taken away in the first place.” The Raven Knight leans in close to whisper to Falcon. “It is your actions that have lead us to this inpass ‘friend’, for too long have my companions asked i compromise my beliefs to follow theirs. I fear for your soul Falcon, the lady of the graves sees all, she knows all our secrets and judges all who walk in the valley of death. This trial is not a battle for our freedom, it is a battle for your eternal salvation. Confess your sins Falcon, confess and repent.”

“Is that how you pay your respects to the man who found and paid a cleric to bring you back from the dead? I am not the one who has taken away your possessions. You must be blind to accuse me of working with these crows for If you haven’t noticed I bare the same chains you do. The only difference is I know when cooperation can be used as an advantage. As far as I’m concerned these crows have been acting completely in the boundaries of the law. You should be grateful that my cooperation with them aloud yourself and Ecthelian’s body to be taken out of prison and escorted for resurrection. You wouldn’t be living if they hadn’t aloud it. Just try not to let their petty insults get to you, after all, they are most likely just baiting you for a reaction. As for compromising your beliefs, if you feel that I have gone against your code by bringing half insane Paladins marked by the devil back to life by selling a demons trinkets, well, I would certainly be more than happy to return you to your grave.” With that said falkon laughed turning away from the raven knight, wondering if Ecthelian would show any appreciation for what he had done of if he to would be so insensitive as to insult him. It was the first time he doubted whether he should have bothered at all. He need not pay 26,000 gold just to be insulted. Perhaps next time he would think twice". Falkon was not happy with the raven Knights disrespect.

“I tell you what, roll over on your friend’s sorcerer and tell us what your so called friends did up at Belfor’s, en will make sure you get to keep your life. All you need to do is tell us what happened”. Davis had an impish grin.
Mantra had been standing in the shadows, clutching the Vrood’s spellbook Mantra watches as the group is taken away. “Mistfit, follow them and make sure they come to no harm”, she orders the brooding quasit. “And if something happens to them, what should I do, thrown myself on headman’s axe so it dulls before them take them heads” snubs the demon. “Shut up you sneering fool,” reply’s Mantra. " You have witness the powers of the old one and seen what happens when he is not obeyed. It don’t want them dead and it won’t forgive failure. If the others are brought back before thy time it will bode ill for all. We have been given the incantations to do his will. If this is accomplished we will be stronger then even my sister and the halfling will owe us. Everything is coming together as planned".

“Fine”, whines the quasit, “as always your will be done”. Watching the quasit take flight and then vanish, Mantra starts to contemplate ridding herself on the insubordinate demon. He caught him sneaking around her while she was reading Vrood’s book. He could not be trusted, they all could not be trusted. The image of the eyes always watching, the arms flaying her flesh and the teeth chewing on her bones. They were always watching, the party members, the guards, the clerics, she even believed she saw a bird with a third eye following her. He was following her and none could hide from his eyes.The urge came back, she needed to hurt something, and fast. Watching something squirm, trying to resist the power, falling prey to the spell and witnessing the eyes glaze over as they found oblivion. That was glee, and for a second the eyes would be blind and reprieve would follow. She needed this feeling now, and the other party members needed to be free. She turned her back as the elf began his show. She needed her ball to find a new target, it’s target.

“All right get moving” another crow bellowed as he pushed the two paladins.

Davis dropped some dirty clothes in front of Ecthelion.

Adivion gave the Crow a livid look. “A momentary indignity to clear your name” Adivion said too Ecthelion. Adivio then turned to the rest of the Crows “I assure you things will change we I am in charge”. With that Riff and Adivion left the trio Falkon, Ecthelion and the Raven knight in the Crows protection, not before Riff gave that deathly looking glance at the lot of them saying “you hurt em and there will be hell to pay”.

Stepping out onto the streets the contingent of crows was suddenly awestruck and bewildered by the dazzling display of colourful effects that emanated from an elf that sang a song on top a nearby roof.

Sitting in the shadows of a nearby chimney stack, a greyish cloaked figure puffed slowly on a pipe, while reflecting on the events seen below. A small squirrel is curled up near his pack eating some ground nuts and leaves and a red butterfly flaps nearby to disappear in a ruby flash when the ink tattoo’s become visible on the heroes. “Mmm chaos is heavy here in this city. I must assist the heroes as their path is difficult and dark.”

Flashes of rainbow colours sparkle across the streets as Amandlon strides out of the adjoining street juggling glass orbs in complex moves drawing attention to himself. With his cloak open the mastercrafted elven chain seems to run with silver as the nearest crows become enthralled with his whistling and juggling (Will save 17 to ignore). Glancing to the group amandlon hopes this will give the heroes some relief from the crows and prevent a fight by calming them all. [The enthrall will last up to 1 hour as he leads the group to the court house]. Amandlon winks at Ecthelian playfully.

The elf’s voice was soothing and reminiscent. Many of the crows that listened were reminded of there childhood. There thoughts echoed back to being wrapped up in there mothers arms as a baby, or venturing out into the world exploring new things.

Those that listen gave the singing elf there undivided attention. Enthralled and mesmerized by his voice. The elf had been careful to use the blind side of the temple in which the other crow members that were nested along a joining buildings were blind to. Davis and the others Crow member’s expressions changed as they succumbed to the spell. The facial expressions changed from there usual miserable and down trodden selves, to that of an elated jokers or person whom had just won something at the carnival. The effect liken to that of somebody whom had been eating too many spotted mushrooms from the forest floor. Faces filled with wide grins, enchanted stares and dulled senses, Whenever Amandlon spoke or sang the crows immediately stopped talking and gave him there undivided attention. Better yet for Ecthelion, the Raven knight and Falkon was that the heckling had stopped. The crow attitude had significantly changed about how they were to treat the prisoners. Davis turned to the Raven Knight when the elf stopped singing,

“Sorry about before, it’s just that with all the strangeness that occurring in town. The Crows have been hard pressed to maintain order. We are all a little on edge at the moment with the beast and riots. Please forgive me for any indignities suffered on my part. We just want to make sure that proper procedures are followed and the city returns back to normal. Grimslys got your clothes and once you are properly fitted we can escort you to the courthouse. Although you have about six hours before the trial commences. Otherwise you can be confined to your quarters at the Madhouse Inn or be remanded in the prison cell until your trial begins. The choice is yours according to Zephyr Markov”. Davis waited for a response, when none came he spoke up again.

“Your lawyers arrived in town a short while ago, they are busy preparing your defense”.

Suddenly, Davis ears twitched at the sound of wolf whistles, as the nights sky was flooded with them from high above on top of the Middenstone buildings. The whistles were joined by the shouts of “Keepers in transit to the courthouse, keep a close eye out for anything strange”. Several hooded lanterns were opened up on top of the buildings as the keepers coach made its approach for the courthouse. “Look for any shadows or any movement that’s out of the ordinary, the beast is believed to be able to hide in shadows” came a second call. “Davis turned back to his prisoners, “Like I said, we are all a little on edge. So where are we headed”.

Before an answer came the elf started up his singing, giving Ecthelian a wink as his jailors immediately turned there attention on the elf, beguiled again. The elf began to lead the Crows towards the court house. Although it appeared to the Raven Knight, Falkon and Ecthelion that at least momentarily the Crows had forgotten them. The parade was just like the pied piper and his mice. Except in this story it involved an elf and some Crows. With there gear poaced at there feat, outside of the temple wall with Amandlon having enthralled there captors, the heroes were free.

Talking to Davis as he walks. “You are forgiven Davis.” The Raven Knight mutters a small blessing over the hunched crow. “I understand your anxiety, you are not the only one.” Looking around the streets the Raven Knight scans the roofs and streets ahead (Perception dice 17 + 9) “If you would indulge me one small pleasure, I wish to collect my gear and go to my lodgings at the Lions Rampart Inn, accompanied by the Crows of course.” Stepping ahead the Raven Knight looks back to Davis, “If you ever tire of this life the Lady of the Graves could use a man like you. I would like to offer you a place amongst our ranks, once this beast has been laid to rest.”

As the crowd reaches the court house Amandlon ceases concentration on his enchantment and moves into the court room taking up a place where he can see the room and be close to the heroes in case things get out of hand. Whispering an old travel oath to the lady of songs his radiant holy symbol is tucked away into his cloak as Amandlon blends into the crowd ready to draw divine power to save his allies if necessary. Concern for Falkon is at the front of his mind with his selling of demonic unholy symbols to someone in the city and his lack of regard for others becoming noticeable. Still it is not Amandlon’s role to be the father or judge of these people and all have to walk their own paths. Free will is the key to divinity. Pushing such thoughts away as the heroes await their trial Amandlon thinks back on how elves hold court and decides to note the differences to tell his mother once he completes his mission.

Amandlon’s keen hearing picked up some of the conversation between Ecthelion and Advion seeing the emotion caused by mention of the halfings sister. Thank you lady of songs, I see the path to restore hope to the knight now. With your blessings I will be able to heal his sister and ensure she really is safe. I sense that Ecthelion does not trust the town to protect her after so much he risked to save her. Standing up and blending into the crowd Amandlon makes way to the Inn planning with every step taken.

After Amandlon led the enthralled crows to the courthouse, he headed for the Madhouse Inn. It was a strange spectacle for all those that witnessed twenty fully armoured Crow watchmen cheering and clapping an elf that sung a melody as he danced down the street. Released from the enchantment the Crow guardsman immediately began to talk with each other about the singing.

“The best performance I have ever seen”.

“Truly remarkable”

“The voice of an angel”

“Eternal bliss”

“A once in a lifetime Divo”

Several other comments followed. The crows seemed more concerned with discussing the performance then realizing they had just left there prisoners unattended, and watching the elf whom slipped away.

Walking with purpose along the filthy streets to the Inn Amandlon resolved himself to help the heroes, whatever it takes to rid the evils from this city. Seeing a small ant, Amandlon bent down and asked it to lend its strength to him for a moment (casting Ant haul) and seeing the ant struggle with its piece of fruit, apologised before leaving it. Getting close to the Inn the elf drew a small spark of the celestial planes into his body infusing it with an aura of doom causing those who oppose him to become shaken in fear (WDC17).

As Amandlon approached the room in the Madhouse Inn where Saera was resting, he noticed two men guarding the door and another inside off a reflection in a mirror opposite the room’s open door. The three men all wore red leathers and carried twin sheathed sabres on their waist. Watching the elf approach one of the men tenderly grabbed at his weapon, keeping them holstered but ready to draw them at a moment’s notice.

“Who are you and what businesses do you have here?” the man said in a raspy voice.

Walking towards the guards “You are not crows and have no authority here. Stand aside and let me attend to the wounded lady within. Her rightful family is concerned for her care and I am here to address this now.”

“Her wounds have been attended to elf and nobody sees her without Lord Adivions authority. If you make any attempts further, they will be your last”. As the aura hits the two guards their eyes flare, as they manage to suppress the shakening effect. The third guard takes a defensive position inside the room. All three men draw there sabres ready to strike. “Be gone elf, I do not wish to sully and dull my sword with your blood”, the second man said as to deter any hostilities.

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Training with a titain

Muerte was surrounded by this blackness and it was tight about his aching body. It enveloped him completely and held his movements in place. Surprisingly, it was warm. It was entirely alien to him. Even his spiritual mentor Santo Del Rey himself couldn’t describe the dying process to him (no true Pharasman could) and so to be aware of the fact he had died, the Luchador took this as a golden opportunity to experience leaving his physical shell.

Suddenly, the sensation of his stomach lightening came to bear. His fighting instincts kicked in and he became aware of space. He was rising- rapidly. Rising into what, he could only guess and only hope it to be La Dama’s peaceful embrace. Then, simultaneously came the feeling of release from his dark hold and the burning of blinding light in his blackened and bloodshot eyes.

He pawed weakly at the air in front of him, attempting to screen his face from the light. Was this the Dawnflowers embrace, perhaps? The goddess of the dawn Caballero Sol fought for? He blinked blood and tears away and his eyes focused.

He was still in hell.

And a Titanic sized woman was holding him in its hand, smiling down at him.

“Caught you.” It boomed, its voice deafening.

Muerte scrunched his face up and gritted his teeth while he willed his way through the screeching of his now throbbing eardrums. He felt motion and its gaze shifted up and away from, assumedly towards its destination. A necklace of greater daemon skulls hung around her neck. Muerte marvelled at the size of the smallest skull- he doubted he could have even lifted it.

“Come, not-quite-so-small one,” it boomed once more. Muerte’s eyelids flickered as he screened out the most of the noise, “We have so much to discuss…”

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A Luchador final moments

Muerte’s head spun momentarily as his efforts to throw the Aspect of Orcus and himself from the deck of the ship had proved successful. His body burned with the pains of the act, but nonetheless, he held his arms tightly around the base of the wings of the demonic avatar.

Gravity rushed up at him and Muerte looked up at the ships above him as they seemed to fly up and away from him. A part of his mind marvelled momentarily at the novelty of the airborne vessels, but the thought was interrupted by low demonic laughter.

The wings Muerte held began to beat heavily, his grip strained to hold on and he was thrown from the demon. Below him now, it beat its wings and slowed itself. Seeing an opportunity to strike it again, Muerte steadied himself in mid air and aimed his enormous bended elbow at the demon’s muscular back.

“Muerte desde arriba!” he roared, moments before his elbow drop struck the demon. He recovered quickly and was gripping one of its leather straps in moments. Years of his craft in the ring in Santo Del Rey’s courtyard had proven useful yet again.

Muerte seized the left wing of the demon. Desperate panic had gripped him, but not for his own safety- he would die here and he had come to terms with that. But he had panicked at the thought of the demon surviving him. Jamming his booted foot under one of the leather straps across the demon’s shoulder, Muerte reached down and tightly gripped the wing’s base in his hands. He dug deep, pulled all of the energy he had and strained, his aching sinews popping and ripping in his limbs. He roared in agony and with all the force he could muster, he tore the demon’s wing out of its socket and cast it into the rushing air.

The Demon screeched, its pain and distress obvious as it felt imminent defeat at the hands of the Pharasman giant. Muerte flailed momentarily, his boot stopping him from being thrown off his foe’s back. He bent his leg and pulled himself down to the belt and seized it with a shaking bleeding hand. He glanced at the demon’s head and realised he wouldnt be able to reach it with his free arm.

‘No mind,’ Santo Del Rey’s words echoed through his memory, ‘Just feel.’

Nodding to himself, Muerte seized the belt with his other hand and arched his back, his legs trailing in the rushing air above him. With a twist and a turn and in one fluid motion, he flipped himself and placed his legs under the demon’s horns, securing a new grip on the beast. He released his grip on the belt and launched his arms forward, seizing the demon’s horns with his hands. He slipped his feet to its shoulders, braced himself and began to pull it’s head from it’s shoulders.

It flailed wildly, roaring and bellowing in its foul hellspeak as the giant strained its neck. Muerte could feel shuddering in the demon’s shoulders. He laughed aloud, his chuckles booming over the din of rushing air.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE A NOBLE KING,” through his feet, he felt a loose pop in the demon’s shoulders. A tendon had broken. Muerte quickly turned the head to the right.

“OR A CHIMNEY SWEEPER!” He then wrenched the head fast and hard around to the left and was rewarded with a loud cracking noise as the demon’s neck broke. It turned suddenly, its limp body no longer able to stabilise itself in death. One of its arms struck Muerte and sent him flying. Muerte looked down to the fast approaching ground.

“Everybody has a turn to dance with the Grim Reaper,” he said, knowing the words to be his last.

He didn’t feel the impact. No sounds, no scream, no pain.

Just blackness.

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