Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Their Fated Travels...Chapter 34 The Final

You can read it at fanfiction.net here - http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5775192/34/

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Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Chapter 34
The Final

   The locker rooms out back were not open to the general public or audience, but Maestro was allowed to stroll back there, now partially being on the staff as he was. He wandered over to Dieter’s medical bed and spoke, “Gosh, it’s a wonder you’re still alive, let alone trying to fight another bout after this one.”
   Dieter scowled at the wizard but then remembered, it wasn’t that he annoyed people on purpose, he had to remember, the man couldn’t help it. Dieter breathed deeply and replied, “Yes, I do have a knack at seeing off the odds.”
   Maestro folded his arms a little challengingly replying, “Yes and you saw off a good 300 Karl’s out of my pocket too. I had all of my betting money set on Tordrad to win.”
   Dieter laughed to himself, “Hah, I told you to bet on me, fool. It’s your fault you didn’t listen.”
   With that, Maestro visibly sulked. He then pulled himself together enough to mention, “I am not sure what is going on with that minotaur thing you’re about to fight, Dieter.”
   Dieter raised an eyebrow intrigued, “Oh, what is this then?” He tried to seem less interested than he actually was, to keep his cool demeanor he was famous for.
   Maestro excitedly began, “Oh didn’t you know? It has some mutant-like parasitic life form stuck to its body. I’m sure there must be something in the rules against two versus one but oh well, they’re letting it through.”
   Dieter quietly considered this and then spoke aloud, “Hmm, this could be interesting. If I could get a sample of this thing from the minotaur’s corpse I might be able to conduct all sorts of tests on it. I might make a breakthrough that shakes the foundations of history, or at least one that is potent enough to be useful to me…
   Maestro laughed at this, “Oh Dieter, you need to concentrate on not letting it kill you I’d imagine, hah, or else the only breakthrough you will be seeing my good man is your body with a massive horn puncture in it.”
   Dieter scowled at the wizard, “So, how much are you betting on the doom bull?”
   Maestro shrugged, “Meh, I think I’ll leave the betting there. I have an even greater prize now anyway: The listening instrument.”

   Grimdal DalDuraz breathed heavily on a straw bed as his slavers debated what to do with him next. They considered killing him. That would certainly be easier. One mouth less to feed especially if he was now lame or permanently injured. It was a wonder that he wasn’t already dead. The Shallyan woman had healed him valiantly, giving nearly all of her own power to hold him to the mortal world intact even if his soul internally begged otherwise, begged to slip away and find peace. Rissandrea could not hear such requests however.
   It was decided by the slavers that the dwarf would be spared a quick death. The woman had given them so much stick over the entire subject anyway, the last thing they needed was the church chasing after them and involving itself into their affairs. Little did they realise that the woman held no sway in Nuln…she certainly acted with the authority of one who did though and that had been enough.
   As soon as he was well enough to move, they would throw him to the other slaves. They would have to look after him. If he needed feeding, they would have to share their food with him. If the other slaves didn’t like that, well they could just kill him if they wanted. It wouldn’t be their fault then, it would have been the slaves…

   Tobias was at last up on his feet again. Frederick was nowhere to be seen. He did hold a note in his hand though, with a scribbled title on the envelope of a handwriting he recognised: That of his brother. With a hand shaking as much as his breath was, he read the note –

It read:
   Dearest brother. I have heard all about you, what came of your life, your mission for the Emperor. You did well Tobias.
   I am ashamed to say that I have not done so well. I am still living the life of a scoundrel, a thief, a cheat. That is no reason for you to suffer the same. I spoke with the Shallyan woman who travels with you. She knew who I was before I even opened my mouth. I suppose we still look so alike then. I told her it is not like you to take part in such a tournament. What has happened to you brother? You are not yourself. I hate to say it but from what I am hearing, you have become… me. That is why I am writing this note to you. The trauma you have suffered, it is being brought out by the mental grief you hold because of me, isn’t it? I couldn’t wait around to talk to you about this in person…the Nuln authorities are…closing in on me. I’ve been in one place too long, once again. This is no life to live brother. You left that behind you all that time ago and yes, I know father died because of what we did but I’ve finally figured out something we can do to make all of that right again.
   I need to meet with you, to speak with you soon. I will wait for you in Altdorf for twenty-six days. The woman told me that your group is bound for that place next, though she is not. When I see you I will explain everything. My plan could restore the Wilwart name to the greatness it once was. Imagine it brother, being able to return home after all these long years. My plan will even help cure your currently ill state of mind.

   I will be thinking of you each time I see the jaded moon in the night sky.
   Until again we meet, farewell Tobias.


   Tobias gulped hard, swallowing any emotion that threatened to well up and spill over him. Frederick claimed he had a way of making him better. He did not know how to digest all of this – and returning to the Moot? It was imperative that he have this meeting with his brother. Were he not already going to Altdorf, he considered, perhaps this would be the first time he would go absent without leave in the Emperor’s service. Though that wasn’t going to happen now, because the group were going to have to deliver Anastasia to the Seer Magisters of Maestro’s College…
   Over the last few days of being in the girl’s company, Maestro had become strangely aware of her future path. He had explained this to the group, that he was seeing visions of what would happen around the girl, small things like spilling a drink or some other mishap. He would warn just before they happened. In one case Maestro had spoken aloud without even looking to Anastasia, “Oh, I’d watch out for that tree root you’re supposed to trip over. Quite the knee graze that was.”
   At which point, the half Kislev girl had looked down and seen an awkwardly protruding tree root in her path. She had stared at Maestro with some intensity. This of course made the wizard uncomfortable as women often did.
   Maestro knew that some great event transpired in the girl’s future. His training of cosmological aethyric readings told him so. He had checked all of his charts and double checked the figures with Tobias, but no, they were totally correct. This girl was going to play an important role in the future. Her life crossed a path of a particular planetary alignment, one of great change. A time when every two millennia or so, the two planets furthest from each other in the solar spectrum’s field would be closest to the neighbouring Tyzhak asteroid belt. This of course itself was no ordinary asteroid belt either, for the rocks within glowed green. They were the remnants of perhaps an old chaos moon. Some theories suggested that they had broken off of Morrslieb even. It was a daunting idea to most scholars that there might have once been more than one luminous green moon in the skies. The truth was, only the ancients, those who came before even the Slann knew how and why the cosmological systems acted the way they did and the Old Ones were no longer here.

   The atmosphere in the fighting arena was abuzz with excitement. At last the final was here. Tobias had cleared his head enough to join the other spectators in the crowd to watch the bout, though he had to sit on a high stack of boxes at the very back to even see!
   Rissandrea was too busy treating the injured to spectate, but even if she wasn’t, she would not have willingly watched any of this senseless violence. The way she saw it, they weren’t even fighting for a cause, like in a war. Even then, standard orthodox Shallyan faith would approach such matters from a pacifistic stance.
   Maestro sat on the raised area, holding the recently repaired trumpet like instrument. Tordrad had come to and was watching the battle from the wings, ignoring medical advice from Rissandrea to “not move”.

   Dieter was first to come out. He wore the gauntlet of leather and bone, both derived ironically enough from beastmen. As he saw his opponent for this final bout appear, the enslaved doom bull led out into the ring in chains he summoned his amethyst scythe to his hand once more. He deftly swung it about the air with practice slices. He was still getting used to the weapon and how to properly use it. He was thankful though that the other had gifted such a thing upon him.  Perhaps he considered, he could use this “feeding” tendency of his brother to make further gains…
   The doom bull looked worse for wear. The life it had lived, caged up and beaten by its slavers had made its muscles weaken, its strength wane and its health degrade. But even with that against it, it was determined to win at any cost – and then there was the matter of the strange pulsing organ that had attached itself to it…  
   The trainee physician began to walk towards the minotaur creature. He held in his hand a red blanket, one he had stolen from the locker rooms out back. He knew that the colour red had a strange effect on their race, some disturbance of their optical sensory input registering from exposure to that colour. He was a studious man, especially in his foes. He had indeed begun to research certain disallowed books. Anything about beastmen at all, any printed word was considered highly illegal in of itself. Perhaps these creatures were colour blind. Perhaps it was all a myth, but he didn’t care, he would try anyway.
   “Come on then beast” taunted Dieter. The minotaur creature responded to this with a frenzied charge horns aimed downwards.
   Dieter threw the red blanket through the air – it sailed and wavered poetically and landed across the monster’s face, covering even its horns.
   The momentum of its charge kept it going as Dieter side stepped it easily with a hobble. It sped past and crashed into the built up mud wall behind, its horns tearing through the blanket which kept it trapped on its head for now as it blindly clawed at it with its hands while in a daze from impacting the wall.
   In all of the excitement, Dieter lost his concentration on the conjured weapon, as his scythe disappeared. Just as he was going to capitalise on his prone enemy! He quickly readied the kris knife instead.
   Meanwhile, the doom bull tugged as hard as it could at the blanket covering its head, finally ripping a piece off of it. The piece tore clear but because its horns were punctured through it and it did not realise this, the part covering its face still stayed in place.
   Before the minotaur could react, Dieter arrived at it from a full charge. He plunged the knife into the creature, only able to guess what part he was hitting. The blade sunk in momentarily but seemed useless as the creature’s thrashing tore it back out and almost right out of Dieter’s hand!
   Dieter quickly ducked a blind swing from the monster, trying to estimate where its mutated chaotic organ was. All the time the blanket was over its face he knew he could avoid its attacks.
   He had to finish this quickly. His kris blade had been pre-coated in a flammable oil substance. He now brought about a small conjuration of magic to ignite the weapon and then he thrust it into the creature.
   The kris blade again did not penetrate very well at all, with the monster’s constant moving it merely went into a powerful back muscle that was already highly protected by a strong skin covering it.
   Again the creature swung blindly. Dieter ducked it easily and plunged his kris knife into a place he could see on it, its leg. He sunk the weapon into its upper thigh and dragged it downwards causing dreadful damage through muscle and ripping the leg right open.
   The beast screamed in response. Dieter paused and appreciated the sound, like a kind of music to his ears.
   Dieter lunged again with the kris knife and struck the same wound, this time contacting bone. He smiled in great satisfaction as the creature dramatically bled out. His anatomic training told him all he needed to know about the situation.
   Still the minotaur struggled though, still it reached for the small hedge wizard doctor in training.
   Dieter backed away as far as he could from the doom bull.
   The creature desperately tore again at the blanket, but this time it tore in the right place and revealed its terrifying blood red eyes that were wholly focused on Dieter.
   It charged again, this time not missing or being redirected anywhere. Its horn gouged into Dieter’s shoulder as he brought his stave down atop the creature’s head. From this position the minotaur pulled Dieter off of the ground with the strength in his neck muscles. It was ready to get its hands upon the small man and tear him apart. Dieter’s stave was in an advantageous position though. He locked it horizontally behind the horns and with both hands pulled downwards with all of his strength. With this same motion he brought his knee up and into the creature’s face, smashing against its nose. Dieter’s stave snapped from the sudden strain.
   A speedy fist struck the small man to the head and he went flying across the arena, hitting the ground face first. At first he wasn’t moving, as Maestro leaned ever closer to get a proper bearing on Dieter’s current state. But then he flinched, as if something inside of him was dragging him back into the fight – as slowly he pulled himself back up onto his feet.
   The doom bull was already upon him but still Dieter smiled and retained that smile even when he was picked up above the creature’s head, for its eyes were now looking drowsy as blood continued to pump from its wound. The chaotic organ on the minotaur’s back surged blood through its body with adrenaline, which would normally help it, but in this case it only sped up the blood loss! It could no longer hold Dieter in its grasp as the small man smiled knowingly.
   Dieter slipped from its hold and fell onto the monster’s back. He was at last level with the chaotic organ and stared at it in fascination.
   The creature’s posture lowered and lowered until it was stooped over weakly.
   Dieter simply dropped off of its back and began carefully removing the pulsing liver coloured organ from the doom bull’s back, masterfully with his scalpel. The giant beast did nothing to stop him, merely falling to its knees. Its eyes closed and it fell forwards on its face. It wasn’t moving anymore.
   The horn was sounded. The match was over. Dieter raised his arms in triumph at his name being called as the winner. The chaotic organ now cut free was in his gloved hand, wriggling about as if to attempt escape. Dieter could sense some sentient thought about it and spoke words in his magically imbued gifted manner, words softly spoken that would have gravitational effects on the minds of those who heard them. With a combination of hypnotic suggestions spoken quickly he calmed its struggle.
   The crowd cheered his name in triumph as Dieter made his way back into the locker room still holding the strange parasite. He then proceeded to place it in a glass container filled with strange liquid and sealed it tight. He would study this creature more thoroughly at a later date…but for now he had his winnings to collect.

   150 years ago.
   The Council of Seer Magisters.
   Together the council murmured in reaction, as the image of Dieter winning the Nuln tournament was emblazoned on the image in the middle of the room. They had witnessed this event, an event that was important to history in its own way, for it put the symbiotic organ into the care of Dieter and they all knew what would happen next…well probably…they thought they did at least. There had been a few conflicting visions on the matter of what came next in fact, which was normal but the degree of conflicting visions were not normal at all. The rest of the timeline involving the party from here on in fact was distorted similarly. The only way they could read events properly was through the active actions of the celestial wizard amongst those they watched – and he wasn’t much cop, by their standards.
   Magister Viez walked calmly over to Magister Ahvan and pulled him away from the place he was standing, in front of the great doors that led into the hall. He gave his fellow a look as if to say “trust me on this.”
   Suddenly the great entranceway doors burst open, right at the spot where the magister had been previously. Were he still there now, the force of entry would have knocked into him, perhaps causing some harm.
   All of the magisters turned and looked at the overly rude newcomer. The crystal in the middle of the room pulsed frantically, as if crying out for help.
   Every wizard present was left open mouthed, most of them having turned white in the face with shock as well, all except Viez who smiled.
   The newcomer brushed himself down and walked into the room. A dishevelled looking celestial wizard with a rather long beard and hair that was more grey than it was brown spoke, “Gosh, so the seer council wasn’t…isn’t…hasn’t been a myth all this time then. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, I hope. I can’t begin to tell you how awful things have been lately.” The man standing before them was Maestro Rophel Illefescion In the Flesh. He let them know this too with an introduction of dramatic air and self importance, as usual…

   150 years forward…
   Rissandrea sat next to the wizard Taros who lay recovering in his patient bed. Rissandrea passed the time by reading from her holy scriptures in deep pained thought. For every piece of suffering those in her care endured she felt a grave magnitude of sorrow in her heart.
   Dieter wandered across to the area leaning his weight painfully upon the stave.
   Rissandrea looked up at him, disturbed from her reading. She spoke quickly, “Do you need healing Dieter?”
   The doctor in training replied quickly, “Of course not, I can heal myself, girl. I’m here for your sake.”
   Rissandrea spoke again, “You won then?”
   Dieter answered, “As it happens I did.”
   Rissandrea nodded and congratulated him, however the sentiment was false and he could tell. He didn’t mind though – he knew the girl didn’t agree with violence caused in this manner. He figured it was fair enough really, seeing as some of the more severe patients she had seen come through had been due to him.
   Dieter looked down at the shadow wizard on the bed with a bandage around his entire neck. He appeared to be semi-conscious, on some sort of drugs to keep him dazed.
   The clandestine hedge wizard quickly made his point, “I think you have done enough tonight. I am…worried about you. Take a rest.”
   Rissandrea immediately furrowed her brow and began emphatically shaking her head, “I can not do that. You know I can not. There are patients that need me still.”
   Dieter looked around him at those in the other beds. He pinched his lips together, swallowed and began, “Nonsense. All of these patients are stable now, thanks to your skilled work. Whether you are here or not, it will make no difference now…they are all in the hands of your lady…” Dieter particularly hated forcing himself to make that remark insincerely.
   Rissandrea coughed slightly and spoke, “It is my duty, Dieter, to watch over those who are sick.”
   The small man gestured with the arm that lent on his stave as he spoke, “And what good is that when she herself becomes sick in the process of doing it?”
   Rissandrea was starting to feel the ill effects of the night – she certainly couldn’t disagree with Dieter’s point. She looked around her and saw those in the beds resting comfortably.
   Dieter chipped in to add to the thought process he could read on the woman’s face, “Seeing as it’s only keeping them stable, I am medically trained. I’ll look after them for you. Take a rest, something to eat. Even if it’s just for a little while.”
   Rissandrea considered this point and spoke, “You would really be willing to help out?”
   Dieter replied, “I would not have offered lest I meant it.”
   Rissandrea answered, “Alright Dieter, thank you for the offer. I will take a rest for twenty minutes to eat something and re-compose my mind. How does that sound?”
   Dieter nodded and bowed respectfully, “As you wish m’lady.”

   Once Dieter was certain that the meddling shallyan woman was gone, he stood menacingly over the bed of Taros concentrating his thoughts darkly into ambition for power. He leaned over the shadow wizard’s bed and hacked violently all of a sudden. He then spluttered and hacked again before the black tendrils appeared from his mouth and latched onto the wizard’s skin. Where the ends touched, they visibly brought the veins to the surface immediately. The man tried to scream but could not. Even though he was medically dosed up, the fear in his eyes was all too sober.
   The ends of the tendrils seemed to be burrowing into the man’s body somehow, yet they were causing seemingly no physical injury that could be perceived by the eye. Dieter suspected that the damage inflected would be spiritual, not that he particularly cared. The powers of a grey wizard were now exposed to him. The magical wind of ulgu was his to explore. Even if he could only learn one new spell in this short session with the man, that would be enough…