Cleansing of the Cenotaph.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 22 posts
Tue 31 Mar 2020
at 20:13
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  "The queen above!" Shovash bellows at it, not even slowing her stride. Every step gets another name—"Mistress of Fiends, Godsbane, Whore of Belkzen, the doom of Lastwall," and so on—until she stands close enough to feel the creature's chill on her face. She makes for an interesting contrast, with flesh the colors of ash and char, shot through with streaks of fire. It stands as tall as her navel.

  "Your waiting army is dust, the spectres dispersed, and the orcs you stole from me sent on to the ancestors." But with the context clear, she calms, or at least lowers her voice. "Tell me what you know of Uran Black-blade."

This message was last edited by the player at 20:14, Tue 31 Mar 2020.

GM
 GM, 52 posts
Tue 31 Mar 2020
at 20:37
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
The icy creature looks puzzled for a moment. "What orcs? Uran...Black-Blade? I don't...wait, no, I do recognize that name. She was one of my higher ranking lieutenants for a time. Then she rebelled, and I cast her out. I assumed she got herself unmade decades ago. As for the orcs you mention, I've not added any orcs to my court in some time, nor have I lost any, so I don't know what you're referring to." It gestures, simply, and a few chairs made of ice appear before the throne.

<blue>"Would you care to sit, queen of the lands above? I would not have it said that I am less than a courteous host."


The air around the frozen undead is brutally cold, cold as an arctic winter.

OOC: Shovash takes 15 cold damage before any resistance from the cold aura around the winterwight.
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 23 posts
Tue 31 Mar 2020
at 21:16
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  "Thank you," Shovash responds in a grim tone. "That settles a question of which traitor to believe." She glances at the chairs, then back over her shoulder at Arkr, Aiva, the dragon... but not Ragnar. She is wearing a sympathetic smile when she turns back to their host.

  "But surely you do not mistake this for a social call, or even a diplomatic one. You have a very short time to persuade my companions that leaving you intact will never result in the tomb of Tar-Baphon being opened, and I suspect they will be quite skeptical. Please, begin." She takes half a step to the side, just enough to visually remove herself from the audience of any response. Not even out of the chill, though frost continues to form on her skin and flake away when she moves.
Winterwight
Wed 1 Apr 2020
at 02:32
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
The wight...laughs softly. "Oh, believe me, if I could have opened the Tyrant's tomb I would in a blink of your eyes. But the fact that I didn't in all the ages since he was imprisoned should tell you I couldn't. He laid a geas on me, along with his other lieutenants, not to leave these walls until he returned to lead us out. One does not simply shrug off the Tyrant's hand, as you might imagine, and so that geas has remained for all these years. I can no more step outside these walls than a wolf can flap its legs and fly." It makes a vague gesture. "I am told he has left his tomb now, though, and that he will soon return to reclaim his legions. So perhaps your companions would be better served worrying about that, hm?"
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 24 posts
Wed 1 Apr 2020
at 04:28
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  The sympathy in Shovash's smile turns wry at that, nearly friendly. Now, she actually does take that seat, and lays her staff across her lap to make a less aggressive chat of it. "I regret that we won't have time to discuss all the ironies of that. I truly do. I'll give you the tragedy first, then—your eternity is about to end because Uran could not check her urge to betray for even a week. You should have simply destroyed her all those centuries ago. I assure you, though: I will subject her to worse than she has the cunning to do, herself. Your tyrant hero will still find no army awaiting him, if indeed he walks, but Uran will suffer for causing that loss."

  The conjurer shrugs. There's no announcing the end of millennia of existence in gentle terms, and the two abominations are not allies, much less friends. Still, her voice carries nearly as much sincere regard as when she addresses her own followers. "And there is farce in this. Enough to be a comfort, I hope. The entire history of a whole nation of humans, and humans of the most self-important sort, has been a complete fraud. My people warred with them for fifty generations before my husband and I broke their final stand. And for all that time, we were only a distraction from the mission that defined their lives: preventing you from reaching the Tyrant's tomb. They lived for nothing and died for less."

  "Aiva? Our host suggests that wolves cannot fly."

Ragnar Spirit-Walker
 player, 13 posts
Wed 1 Apr 2020
at 04:40
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
Ragnar waits patiently, silently, until it appears Shovash has gotten whatever she wanted out of this encounter. The hint of the Whispering Tyrant rising from its slumber was something to be investigated with all haste - another threat simultaneous with the Primordials could not be ignored. But if Tar-Baphon was indeed returning, best to deprive him of a powerful lieutenant in advance. And if he wasn't...the same.

Aiming carefully, he looses a single bolt at the winter-wight. Shovash had noted the area was not warded against teleportation; to Ragnar, that spoke of an intended escape route if under attack. But not anymore.

(Surprise round attack, hits AC56 for 77 damage, Phase Lock, and a DC39 Dispel.)
GM
 GM, 53 posts
Wed 1 Apr 2020
at 04:53
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
The winterwight just laughs at Shovash's comment. "Oh, that's rich. That's rich, indeed. Well played, madame. I commend you. Shall we dance, then?" It stands, and is nearly knocked back into its throne by the first bolt from Ragnar. It doesn't stop chuckling the entire time. It does stop a moment later, when Aiva launches into motion and brings Amaranthine down hard on its chest, carving away a chunk of ice.
Ragnar Spirit-Walker
 player, 14 posts
Wed 1 Apr 2020
at 05:48
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
"I have but one question. Who were you, before you became what you are?"

Ragnar's voice echoes in the confines of the room, with the odd reverb caused by his curse-borne impermanence, but he does not wait for an answer. A full flurry of bolts follows his first, hammering into the crater caused by Aiva's blade one after another  before he shifts sideways a short distance.

(Free Boots of Speed, full attack, Swift for Fleet Charge. Total of 460 damage before DR.)
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 25 posts
Wed 1 Apr 2020
at 13:02
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  Shovash takes her time rising to her feet, though it's still well before the battered weight has a chance to. She takes her time stretching her hands and settling her grip on that staff, too, before she finally looks up at their undead host. "እንተ ነኝ," she explains, as though to a dim child. But before she can even complete the spell, there is no host to cast it on. The last of the major undead in this place is gone.

This message was last edited by the player at 19:44, Wed 01 Apr 2020.

GM
 GM, 54 posts
Wed 1 Apr 2020
at 17:53
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
Ragnar lands bolt after bolt, and though the wight manages to snatch one of the bolts out of the air with incredible reflexes, the others prove more than sufficient. The winterwight is pinned to the throne, twisting for a moment, before it falls into dust and frost.

Arkr looks at the scene, then looks at Shovash, his features stunned. He kneels after a moment, head bowed, and in Orc he murmurs a question, soft as a whisper, reverent.

"Be my god?"
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 26 posts
Thu 2 Apr 2020
at 00:49
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  "Hmph. I expected a campaign, not an afternoon's idle time. For the reputation this place has, it—hm? Arkr, what is..." It takes a second for his question to sink in. And it turns out that, for all her eagerness to step into that role exactly, Shovash hadn't been expecting worship to come so soon. The surprise manages to even break through the wall of confidence she projects so often, and she shoots Aiva and Ragnar a very clear 'Is this really happening?' looks even as she approaches the warrior.

  "You... What, in defiance of the Midnight Lord himself? Hmm. I knew you would be loyal, but— I am... very pleased. That you take this step yourself. Yes. Yes, I will accept your worship." She crouches in front of him, then, and sweeps her wings forward to enfold them both. Her next words are not as quiet as his last, but soft enough they are clearly not for the sake of their audience. "And I will accept the responsibility along with it. Let them come after me for your soul. I bound them once already."

This message was last edited by the player at 05:42, Thu 02 Apr 2020.

GM
 GM, 55 posts
Thu 2 Apr 2020
at 18:04
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
Arkr accepts Shovash's embrace, head bowed still. "Thank you, Lady," he whispers. "My axe is yours, my life is yours. So be it."
Ragnar Spirit-Walker
 player, 15 posts
Mon 6 Apr 2020
at 02:37
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
Flickering back into visibility, Ragnar takes a minute to inspect what remains of the winterwight, ensuring it is truly destroyed and not lurking behind some illusory trick or another. Once he is satisfied, he turns to where Shovash waits with Arkr.

"This has been an entertaining afternoon, to be certain, but if you intend to continue further I will have to take my leave of the group for now. An unexpected matter has arisen that I must attend to, entirely separate from the need to investigate the monstrosity's claims with regards to the Tyrant. Perhaps I will rejoin you later, depending on how long I am occupied - and if not, I will see you again when next we slay a titan."

Returning to the massive staircase, he flies straight upward back to the surface, pausing only long enough to reorient himself before heading towards the nearest large city. Teleporting to Bhati's remains will be much easier than flying the whole way, after all.
GM
 GM, 58 posts
Mon 6 Apr 2020
at 04:07
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
Shovash goes up, and takes a day to prepare for the next wave. The new leadership of the tribe seems to be working out quite well, but there are still many things to hash out, details of the distribution of labor and plotting their next steps as a tribe. The next morning, she receives a sending from Tolben, saying that the next attack will take place in Quantium, that a gas gianter is also in orbit over Quantium, and asking her to take care in the Cenotaph and bring back spellbooks.

The same morning, Arkr stands beside her as the armor of the graveknight is reassembled. He is quiet, one hand on his axe handle, distrust of the armor written in his posture.
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 27 posts
Fri 10 Apr 2020
at 17:06
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  The previous day had been an exercise in compressing excitement until it looked like quiet confidence. No two ways about it: the Mutilated Corpse was a prize, and it had come with their shaman's support. That had been especially hard to win anywhere since the business with the gods. But today, with this captured queen, she could be more open about such things. She was humming.

  "I know you're troubled," she interrupted herself to comment. She had checked the number and arrangement of pieces several minutes ago and had just been adjusting their arrangement since. At the moment, she had the greaves held in the gauntlets, high to the sides. It looked obscene.

  "I don't think less of you for it. She was powerful and treacherous. It would be foolish not to be careful, if she might revive." Shovash adjusted the thigh plates a bit until it looked unmistakably like the armor was pulling its legs wide to be fucked. And there she stopped, apparently satisfied.

  "Prepare for a short drop," she said almost flippantly, making a fist near the ground as though she were grasping something. When she stood and pulled up, darkness rose around them on all sides until the sunlight filtered in only dimly from a circle overhead. And then the circle closed, and they were in a cave of moss and stone and a scent like childhood memories. Shovash took a second to breathe deeply, satisfaction evident, then focused her attention on the armor again. The bare rock of the cave floor liquefied, it seemed, and flowed around the sinking adamantium until the armor was half-buried inside a flat oval of basalt. And then that oval slid, through 'natural' structures that reformed behind it, until it had risen nearly ten feet up the wall of the chamber they were in. It even shifted the positions of the pieces as it went until the mocking pose was perfect, and all at slight gestures and simple directions from Arkr's host. Her grin when the display settled into place was enormous. "I think she'll make a wonderful trophy. Don't you?"
GM
 GM, 63 posts
Fri 10 Apr 2020
at 17:39
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
"Yes, Lady. Though...did you not mean to summon the wight into her body? I am surprised that you turn instead to this." Arkr bows his head, continuing. "Whatever you choose to do with her, though, I agree that it was a fine conquest. Another triumph. The Cenotaph rings with the silence of the grave, now." An unusually poetic turn of phrase for the orc warrior, but then, the moment does seem to demand it.
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 28 posts
Fri 10 Apr 2020
at 21:34
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  "Yes, you are exactly right. She will most likely be a temporary trophy, and that is a pity." Her flicking tail catches a small stone and sends it clattering to the side. It rolls up the wall as readily as it might have along the floor. She had wanted to keep Arkr precisely because he doubted her at first, yes, but now he was dimming her moment. Shovash exhales sharply through her nose and sets her hands on her hips, but continues to eye the display she had set.

  "But don't tie yourself to what I tell outsiders to expect. Ingrid was as much a traitor as Uran was. I would have spared her life simply because the warning was useful, but she was getting a zombie child, if her story hadn't been confirmed by the relic on the throne. And even now, she'll make do with something... lesser than this, until I am certain she can be trusted with the power."

  "Besides, I don't actually know whether the Stalker's salvo left the magic intact. If Uran doesn't revive, I can't expect Ingrid to. I'm testing." A sound like footsteps comes from above them. The chamber has a high ceiling, and several tunnels open onto it near the top as well. Shovash looks up with a smile. "Now, that should be a patrol come to check out the sound of arrivals. A little slower than they should be, but there are many right now still learning the tunnels."

  "Much like you will have to," she finishes, raising her hands to fuss with the setting of one ring. "Somewhere in these caves is an open portal to my throne room at Wyvernsting. I will await you there. My family here will watch you, but they won't harm an orc who doesn't attack them first, no matter how they might haze you. Don't tarry, pilgrim." And then she makes a noise with her mouth that doesn't sound like language at all, and she is gone.

This message was last edited by the player at 21:48, Fri 10 Apr 2020.

GM
 GM, 67 posts
Fri 10 Apr 2020
at 21:43
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
"Yes, Lady. My apologies, Lady." It's clear that Arkr has noticed Shovash's displeasure, and he is quick to repent, bowing his head and extending his hands out to the side in a posture of clear acceptance. "I will find you there, as you command, so be it."
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 29 posts
Tue 14 Apr 2020
at 19:47
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  Less than a minute later—not that anyone in either location would know—Shovash emerges from the rippling shadows that obscure an archway on a side wall of her throne room. Clearly magical, the portal remains black and opaque as tar despite the bonfire blazing at its base. A clawed hand reaches out of the flames as she walks through them but retreats when she swats it aside with her tail.

  Despite the chill of latitude and elevation, the fire keeps the room warm enough that the pair of guards dressed only in loincloths have nothing to endure but boredom. The knucklebones are helping, when she arrives. Shovash herself is draped in a hide that might be lion, might be manticore, and definitely wasn't cut for modesty. She's a classic green, now, and it makes her wings look almost draconic.

  "Αφήστε τον γιο μου να αναδυθεί," she instructs the flames as she steps out of them, and they peel back to the sides of the portal like open curtains.  She nods in acknowledgement of the guards, and they greet her by name after standing from their game.

  "The Cenotaph stands empty, its army dust," she comments off-hand, as though the announcement is of secondary importance at most. "Doloch, tell Argiut I'm here and want her to come at once. Lox, tell me what I've missed."
GM
 GM, 70 posts
Wed 15 Apr 2020
at 04:24
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
"Yes, Mistress," Doloch says, sprinting off for the seneschal.

Lox, meanwhile, clears his throat and reports. "Queen, we have endured two attacks by disorganized rabble since you departed, both of them repelled easily. A rakshasa maharajah sent an offer of trade - he offers fine fruits, grain, cloth, and assorted manufactured goods, transported by teleportation, in trade for coin or kind. There was a fire on the southern edge of Wyvernsting, of unknown cause, which killed a family and destroyed a home before being put out." Finished, he bows his head and takes a step back.

Argiut arrives a moment later, hurrying in. "You sent for me, O Lady of Shadowed Places?" she says.
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 30 posts
Thu 16 Apr 2020
at 20:38
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  "Yes, I did. Put together a list of any supplies we aren't already stocked up on that come from the undead." She grins, and the lopsided tusks make it resemble a sneer. From the jaws lying on her shoulder, she withdraws a rotting hand with grossly elongated phalanges that erupt through the flesh as savage claws. The smell actually makes her gag before she offers it, wrist first, to the younger brewer. "Festers of ghoul fever, for instance. Careful you don't cut yourself, and take the time to ready your unguents before you try to extract it."

  Still brushing the traces of filth off her fingers, Shovash turns briefly back to the guards and tilts her head toward the portal. "A newcomer will be arriving as soon as the whelps get bored of playing with him. He will be a bit overwhelmed, I think. Quarter him in the castle, for now, if he arrives while I'm away." It's Argiut who gets the immediate explanation of that, though.

  "I'm heading west. I've been meaning to make peace with the Endseers for over a year, and I've just come across a second reason to break the Dead Eye. I'll return before nightfall. Oh! Also, send a message to Molog to ready his fastest wing. The whole wing. I need some kidnapping done, and the survivors will be rewarded well."

This message was last edited by the player at 20:58, Thu 16 Apr 2020.

GM
 GM, 74 posts
Fri 17 Apr 2020
at 20:26
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
"I'll let him know," Argiut says, relaxing as it becomes clear that Shovash is in a good mood. She takes the undead extremity, gingerly, and takes it off to her laboratory before going to inform Molog.

Quick. Efficient. That's Argiut's style, and why Shovash promoted her in the first place.
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 31 posts
Fri 17 Apr 2020
at 22:53
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  Five syllables later, Shovash disappears without a sign, just there and then not. She arrives just as abruptly at the Brimstone Haruspex, submerged above her knees at the edge of the caldera's largest pool. She has her sandals in one hand to keep them from burning; the hide around her hips stops high enough already. She doesn't stick around long and isn't welcome in the first place: the Endseers prayed to the Devourer, after all, back when that would help. But it would have been this or send an envoy, and even trying to repair relationships, it's good policy to remind people of their powerlessness to stop you.

  She takes off once it's clear they've noticed her—the rays of fire warming her swollen belly are a good indication—and rides the updraft to just below the cloud cover.  There, with the broadest perspective she can arrange, Shovash breaks out of her slow circles to look for one of the Dead Eye tribe's deliberately primitive camps.

This message was last edited by the player at 06:48, Sun 19 Apr 2020.

GM
 GM, 75 posts
Thu 30 Apr 2020
at 18:00
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
The Dead Eye tribe is not hard to find. Their settlement, built around a few cave entrances in a particularly desolate and barren-looking area, is crudely made and simplistic. Shovash swoops down upon them, and finds her reception...less than ideal. By which it is meant that multiple thrown spears are her greeting, though none of them are remotely sufficient to threaten her.

She lands, and delivers her ultimatum in a voice that the entire settlement can hear: they could renounce their contempt of their fellow orcs and their belief in their unique god, or they could go to meet him.

This is met with shock that quickly turns to anger. The shaman of the tribe is the first to step forward, shouting the beginning of a spell. Shovash snuffs him out as easily as a candle.

This process is repeated time and time again. Dead Eye warriors throw themselves against her. It's not fighting - that word is far too generous. It's a simple slaughter. As they attack her, she ends them, in droves.

But finally, with perhaps half the settlement dead by her hand, someone steps forward with a very different posture - hesitant, almost shy. He's an orc of slight build, young, clearly not an experienced warrior at all. And he says, his tone reinforcing that impression of shyness, "I was born in this tribe. I will not die for it. Their god is either a lie or a powerless fool, and I am not his servant."

Several of the Dead Eye look shocked. A couple look ready to execute this coward on the spot. But others, perhaps emboldened by his words, speak their own renunciations. Some are clearly insincere, others appear to be honestly held beliefs - but slightly under half the settlement ends up making the affirmation, speaking the words with ravens and vultures circling overhead.
Shovash Godsbane
 player, 32 posts
Tue 5 May 2020
at 23:28
Cleansing of the Cenotaph
  The shaman isn't even the prize: Shovash had expected a few of those to break themselves on her, and this one doesn't disappoint, calling down the wrath of heaven as though it were something for her to fear.  She actually lets the lightning sizzle harmlessly over her skin and into the ground before she disintegrates the would-be defender of the faith.  Her wings are enough to deflect the large majority of the incoming spears, and none of the rest manage to do more than scratch her iron skin.  It would honestly be disappointing, if she had expected real resistance.

  What she expected instead is exactly what emerges: a parade of fools opting for summary execution rather than swallow their pride and admit 'mighty Brumash' could not save them.  She hadn't even bound this god, but still he utterly fails to raise a champion who could threaten her.  And this was supposed to be the 'father of the orc gods'?  Shovash rolls her eyes and bats aside an axe.  If the Dead Eye tribe were capable of enough coordination to challenge her, she wouldn't have nearly so much reason to confront them in the first place.  It's almost sad, watching them die for an already-bankrupt tradition.  Letting Sting rampage through a few of them keeps it a little entertaining, at least.  But then, eventually, the most foolhardy and unmanageable—the ones who later would have most resisted her full takeover—are gone.  When it takes more than a handful of seconds for another aimless savage to rush her, she begins mentally preparing to leave.  She'd give them a year to replace a fraction of their dead, and then—

  And then one of them approaches as a penitent.  One of them actually recants, in the sight of his entire tribe.  She can smell the fear on him, but he gets the words out.

  "Come here, boy."  Shovash waves him close as more of the survivors echo him.  Scores of more powerful warriors charged up to confront her, and the only ones who even came close were the ones she chose to cut down in melee to entertain herself—their blood covers her head-to-toe and paints the rocks around her in a wide radius.  And he walks unharmed through the gore to come closer than any of them had reached.  She raises three fingers to his chest and begins to paint a broad spiral, the magic in her gloves pulling the blood on her body toward them, keeping the brush wet.  Soon, he bears the same mark that decorates her tribal banner.  "First Eagle, bravest of your people, you will come with me.  When you return to them, it will be as a hero, a teacher.  I want this demonstration to be the last of its kind.  Come."

  She gives him some time to actually decide to obey, as his elders lay down their weapons all around.  And then, still touching his chest, she speaks a word.  They are both gone before the last syllable.