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Exaelitus
February 9th, 2012, 05:18 PM
I wasn't sure where to post this, as it's too long for my own profile page (and it's not really anything about me the person/player). But I wanted an origin story for Exaelitus (the character) since I'm sure people in the guild are quite unfamiliar of me and the kinds of characters I might make. Exaelitus' actions in-game aren't exactly the character-defining type. ;)

It's not a very good piece of written fiction in itself (I cut corners for various reasons, and I'm not a very good fiction writer) so I apologize in advance! Hopefully it will be at least entertaining and informative enough to justify spending time reading it! :)

{ If so, then I'll probably be creating origin stories for my other three characters. }


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{The story was too large to go into one post, or include as a text attachment, so I attached it as a zip of a unicode text file. However, I've also broken it into posts below for easier access, although it may be harder to read due to the forced breaks, etc. Again apologies for the length, seeing it as so many posts makes it seem all the larger, heheh }

Exaelitus
February 10th, 2012, 11:21 AM
He didn't intend to kill a god, but really how often do your plans and dreams turn out the way you expected?

-

"Brother" Keely awoke abruptly, groaning as the morning sun assaulted his eyes. Outside he could hear faint sounds of the far away village already proceeding in its daily activities. He paused with dread as he realized that he should get up, but couldn't find a reason to do so.

He knew the people relied on Father Mongrey and him, but deep down inside there was nothing there. It was an old nothing, a lazy nothing, and nothing of quiet despair. Even the things that he counted as joyful blessings were often polluted, and far too infrequent. But he didn't even know if that was why he felt the nothing inside him. He wasn't even sure if he was unhappy overall, many times he was joyful.

It's just if he took the time to contemplate, he didn't like what he saw in himself. In response he would ask "Why continue on"?

There would be no answer there.

This twilight time while waking up was when he delved most into the abyss. Not exactly inspirational... Keely groaned and flopped his pillow over his head as he shifted in bed.

And then there was the Father's boss, no less than a Grand Prelate, Prelate Simon to look forward to.

Keely laid in bed for perhaps another hour or two, and then fooled himself into sitting up on the crumpled mess of a bed by sneaking a morning drink.

Not enough to get drunk, just something to add a pleasant buzz to his head, and a smile on his lips. After wiping his mouth with his sleeve, He groped his robe into a more presentable configuration, splashed some water on a face that looked ever more aged and flawed, and then tromped his way between the ancient stone walls of Malkalif Abbey. The sentinel on the hill overlooking the village, the monastery that was his life, his world...

( At least, until the day of sacrifice, where his essence would merge with Alakibeth in bliss. It was a pillow with two sides, one clean and inviting, the other... Well, as Farther Mongrey said, "Only the zealots are stupid enough to actually want to die." )

He felt a flash of aching sweat as he dreaded the events of the upcoming day. Prelate Simon was due for an inspection today, and Father Mongrey was unlikely to be anything than his typical distant, down-spirited manner towards Keely. Perhaps today would be the day that "The Grand Mystery of Alakibeth", or rather the high clergy running the sprawling religious power, would discover that Keely was nothing more than a leeching sluggard unworthy of his position or alms-pay.

"Perhaps they'll just take me to the pits and leave me there to die.", Keely thought hopefully. More-so, though, he hoped that his deception would last yet another day.

The guilt of that slithered deep and wiggled around like acid within him. It didn't used to be like this, but as the years past, and clergy leadership changed, the brightness of his service had just faded into dust. But it was all he had, just the dust in his hands. As he was walking, he looked down, noticing his hands were clutched into frantic fists, and self-consciously stuffed them into his robe pockets.

Then, as he passed a room, there was a flash of movement. "There!...", Keely thought as his heart raced, "... in the spare sanctum I just passed." He stopped in the hall, and forced himself to turn and approach the archway. Cautiously he crept, knowing that only Father Mongrey and himself were left in the cold fortress. ( Even the Prelate would come alone, without any entourage, since he liked to think of himself as some sort of lone troubleshooter genius. )

And besides, even though he caught only a flicker of the intruder in the corner of his eye, it was assuredly too small to be a man, or even a child. Still, he did hear a waddling petter-patter of feet. At least, he thought he did... The problem was it sounded like two feet, not four. No creature he knew of would make that sound.

Keely spent 10 minutes trying to get his legs to move into the archway, when he finally entered the spare room, he saw nothing but the sheet-covered Dias and benches. The mosaic windows were letting in the sunlight without holes in them (they could not be opened).

With the exception of some small tracks, there was nothing in the room that hadn't been there for months. No wait, that wasn't quite true, on the Dias was a small yellowed scroll. He perused it, it wasn't any work he was familiar with, certainly not in line with the teachings of Alakibeth. Must have been left by some guest speaker who attended here when Malkalif Abbey had seen better days... If the Prelate had stumbled over this... He stuffed it into his pocket, and took a final look. The room was empty.

Keely laughed. He wasn't sure why. He left the room quickly and wiped the sweat from his brow.

He couldn't find the Father anywhere, so he went down the path to "the oasis" between the Abbey and the village. It was a small clearing to the side of the path, complete with benches and a stone sitting-circle around a statue of Alakibeth.

Keely saw Father Mongrey siting on the stone under Alakibeth with an old man from the village, taking "Confice". While the man was confessing his sins to Keely's boss, and presenting gifts of sacrifice to the god of Sacrifice, Keely decided to wait with the villagers. At least until the Father was done with the morning part of his duties.

Trying awkwardly to not draw attention to himself, yet look like a part of the dwindling crowd, hating every second of it -- Keely heard a beautiful familiar voice, "Excuse me Brother Keely..."

He tensed, and clumsily turned around, to face the young Widow Jessika and her babe she clutched lovingly to her chest. He tried not to look at the half-covered chest, the soft top-curves exposed for all to see. He reminded himself sternly that she was a good woman in poor conditions who had only just lost her husband to the draft-army some months before. But that didn't change the fact that he had "impure thoughts" of her for years now. Now she was a "Madame", unmarried yet no maiden. Which was strange to label her as such, since she was so young, so radiant-

Aggravatingly, at that moment, one of his eyes became watery, and he almost fell adjusting his stance to a comfortable position as he turned to face her. He tried to appear appropriately aloof and fatherly, but he stammered and felt ever the fool as he said, "Uh-uh yes- uh Madame Jessika? Uh- you do- do know I'm not able to take Confice for you, Father-"

With a frown the woman nodded impatiently, even with irritation in her eyes they still glittered like soft jewels in the harsh sunlight, "I'm aware of that sir, I may be a simple woman, but I'm not simple minded sir." The baby stirred against her, and her face turned softer, something else flickered in her eyes.

Keely felt his throat grow sore. The village was large, but was clearly in its declining stages. After so many tragedies the people were naturally becoming harsh and bitter. And then there was the fear... A plague was on the land, and rumors were that it was coming this way.

The woman continued, "Brother, I need advice. I want to be a reverent servant, but my baby is weak. I fear that Confice might..." she lowered her voice, took a secretive look around and stepped uncomfortably close to Keely, "I have not much food to eat, and my baby is very fragile in my arms, after every Confice, he seems so weak and listless. I don't know if he can do much more. I fear another one will-" The woman's face scrunched together, as she fought to maintain propriety in the public setting they were a part of.

Keely felt sick, with such a storm of emotion stirring his innards. He wanted nothing more than to embrace the woman and child, to hug them tight. But he distrusted himself, and knew that the poor Widow already had the raven eyes of town gossips upon her even in the best conditions. Even if Keely was pure, and did nothing wrong, at the whim of fickle sensibilities precious Jessika could be on the wrong side of a mob. Perhaps killed, while he sat safe - reputation untouched behind the thick walls of the monastery and the power of the "Grand Mystery".

He laid a hand carefully on her shoulder, and said softly, "Do not fear Madame, Alakibeth, may-the-world-bathe-in-his-sacrifice, accepts all gifts with honor and love, even those we don't intend to give on purpose." After all, Confice was just a small offering of blood, so it could be done regularly. There were more... extreme rituals to Alakibeth for greater gifts of sacrifice.

The woman paused, stifled a sob, and nodded, she walked off towards the statue without a further word. Soon it would be her turn to cut herself and dribble her life-blood on the ground of the statue as she gave Confice, then to do it again with one of her baby's fingers.

Keely looked on intensely, as he fought with himself. He knew that all gifts to Alakibeth were cherished, and that he and the woman should be happy for whatever happens to the child, but somehow deep inside himself he felt something dark and wrong. His faith in the scriptures of Alakibeth had died a year ago, yet he knew they must be truth, Father Mongrey was such an inspiration, and even though the religion was not popular in this region, the crowd today was certainly not tiny.

There must be something there, he must be at fault, it must be because of his sloth and lust that he resists sacrifice, he mused and debated with himself. Perhaps-

Another flash!

Exaelitus
February 10th, 2012, 11:24 AM
The creature was small, humanoid, possibly hairless. Its skin was smooth but not glossy, the color of dry slate. Its head disproportionally large, with long angular ears sprouting from its sides, it had the qualities of both a man-dwarf and a gecko but looked like neither. It had a huge bulbous nose, and waddled as it scurried across his field of vision. It came from somewhere on the far right, past the woman, behind her by only an inch or two, and into the brush near the path on the other side of the clearing.

Keely didn't make a noise, only because he was so caught off guard. It ran right there in his full view. He looked around at the others, and realized that everyone else was either distracted or looking in the wrong direction. He felt paralyzed at first. The noise the creature's feet made was exactly the same sound he had heard earlier.

Somehow he managed to move, and bolted across the clearing down the path where the creature might have gone. Later, he'd hear that the popular talk of the town now had become the "fact" that Brother Keely had came down with a serious bout of the "loose bottom" right in public and was seen comically rushing for privacy.

But now, he was crashing through the bushes along side the path, after a while he heard a child laugh. But it was strange, he knew most of the children of the village, many he personally signaled to Alakibeth at their birth-devotional for their parents. He rushed forward, but then found nothing. After a moment, he heard more laughing. Willing his feet faster, he burst forth into a ditch.

And into the midst of children playing in the small river. They laughed and splashed water at him.

He couldn't help but laugh. It was minutes before he realized that he had been so enchanted that he had joined in with them at the banks of the river, splashing and joking around. Reluctantly he excused himself over their protests, but not before warning the older children to make sure no one get too far, into the deep currents of the river. As he left, he felt quite pleased and easy going -- he started whistling.

He had only been walking in the woods for seconds, when he heard a child running after him, calling after to him to wait.

He turned, and was hit with some mud on his cheek, which plopped and slid down the front of his robe. The blond haired waif who threw it was unknown to him, and the plain style of her clothes were not any he recognized. Her eyes were a strange blue, pale with a shade of green, flecks of red fire around the pupils.

"You kiss the feet of dead stone!" she jeered, almost cheerfully, and then rudely stuck her tongue at him. She fled back towards the river as she laughed.

The villagers, even the unbelieving ones, were always quietly respectful of the clergy from Malkalif, if only out of respect and fear for the influence of the church. Keely felt hot all over, boiling with rage, he chased after the girl even though she was quickly out of sight. And nearly burst again upon the kids playing in the river. He stopped short, huffing behind a tree, noting that the girl was not among them.

Instead, again he saw the creature.

It was dangling from a branch by its feet, on a tree across the river. Wearing only something that appeared to be not-quite pants and not-quite undershorts, it was nothing short of immodest by Keely's standards. Silently cackling while its familiar eyes stared back at his. The eyes of strange blue mixed with pale green, with sparse red sparkles...

Keely flinched towards the creature, but stopped short, not wanting to alert the kids of his presence, or the presence of the creature. Quickly it disappeared, dangling a gold and silver necklace in its hands. The design of it was quite particular. It had a trinket at its center that tickled Keely's memory. Physically still, he mentally chased the knowledge but it fled from him just as quickly as the creature did.

Tired and confused, he made his way back to Father Mongrey. No doubt the Confices were finished, and he had some pressing questions on what he was expected to do before that pompous Prelate arrived, the smiling serpent that Keely disliked so much. It was bad enough he disliked the man, what angered Keely was that before they met he didn't really dislike anyone. Now the clueless, incompetent, self-righteous Prelate had tainted Keely's innocent view of his fellow man.

As he exited the wilderness and his feet touched the path, he was hit with another unwelcome co-incidence. Once again, its arrival was discovered by sound first.

"I see Father Mongrey hasn't given you enough work to do, Brother Keely", came the accented voice that sounded more dumb than foreign to the ears. At least to Keely's. And of course the cheerful tone was just as false as the smile that was crafted upon the Prelate's face as they both stood looked upon the other.

Keely decided it was better to be silent, in a way, the Prelate was right. Keely was just a lowly Brother, a servant. For food and shelter, education, and a multitude of other benefits, Keely's part in turn was to work. And here he was tramping through the forest chasing spritely creatures, by his own initiative, which was firmly outside the realm of work.

After an uncomfortable moment, the tall thin man, moved along the path barely looking at Keely as he passed him. Simon's virgin white vestments and majestic hat completely clean, indifferent to the long journey they must have made. Keely looked down at his own soiled clothes in shame, he made his way to a different part of the river, quickly cleaned his robe with its waters and made his way back to the monastery.

He did not see the Prelate or the Father at the clearing. As he past the statue, he looked at it. He's not sure why. It wasn't like the image of Alakibeth was new to him. And, at least as Father Mongrey would tell it, this particular statue was quite roughly hewn, a very poor work of art the villagers had made in tribute long ago. But Keely felt himself staring at it as if for the first time. He wasn't sure if it was the mid-day shadows dropping from its brow, but its face looked stern that way. Not a completely stern face, it lacked life. "Dead stone in the shape of a face..." Keely thought to himself, and then hurried off.

Keely did not encounter his two superiors in the cold castle, either. He passed the time by doing his typical chores. Normally he did them reluctantly, cutting corners or postponing them altogether. But even though Simon had probably already completed his "inspection", Keely toiled with special effort. There were no more creature sightings or abnormal events, but he looked back at the results of his chores with a special satisfaction. He ate dinner alone, and it was only when he was shuffling towards bed, that he came upon Father Mongrey in the hearthroom, warming himself.

Keely knocked, and then entered when the man didn't respond. As he sat down beside his boss on the warm bricks, the sweet smell of a drunkard shoved its way up his nostrils in the most impolite way. Keely was too shocked to say anything. He hardly saw Mongrey in such a personal way, although he knew full well the man was taken to drink. After all, that's where Keely received his own stash of "Special Beverage". It was then he noticed the man was clutching a near empty bottle of the stronger stuff.

They sat in silence for a while, then the Father slurred out "He's a right basttthard he is, told me evening and came in the midday. I sssshupose he thought he was being so clever and sssshhhopfisticated in his glorious insPECTshun."

Keely smiled and chuckled, fearfully.

The drunk monk continued, "Didn't find anything, but complained anyway. Just about ground me down into dust bisssshing about- Huh?" he looked at Keely as if he just noticed he was there, sobering up some, he looked back at the fire. And cleared his throat. "Where were you boy? I was going to have you do a couple of the Confices, you're about ready for that. Just about ssshick of them, and you know I have to be able to rely on you. Can't be missing out on work so muccch!"

Keely nodded. He boss was right of course, Keely had been slacking for quite a while, though Father Mongrey appeared to only tangentially notice it. "Yes, of course, sir, I'll do better..." He knew the poor soul probably had worries of his own, he doubted the Prelate had any higher estimation of the Father as he did for anyone else but himself.

Exaelitus
February 10th, 2012, 11:26 AM
The man stirred, and continued, "Not that it matters anyway. Stupid waste of time, bleeding into the dirt only feeds the weeds..."

Keely gasped without even realizing it at first, ashamed and anxious he tried to fill the silence quickly, "Uh, forsuredly sir, it's just the spirits speaking, silly-"

The older man interrupted with a bitter laugh, he belted it out like a low-horn for several seconds, unable to stop, and then finally said, "Boy! You sweet, stupid, boy... It's not REAL." Mongrey leaned forward into Keely's face for emphasis. Keely felt practically dizzy just from the fumes coming off of the Father. But primarily he was held-fast by some fearful awful dread, a shocking unexpected hardness like when you stick your hand in Quickmud for the first time and discover a second later it feels like it's embedded in rock.

Mongrey unexpectedly hugged Keely hard, and had tears in his eyes as he pulled away. He then set the bottle down, grabbed and kissed Keely's hand, and stood up. The old man started pacing back and forth, rambling.

"Sure! I was like you, bright eyed and pure! Read the Mystery every day like a good zealot! Then, one day here I am in charge of an Abbey and I realize it is ALL stone, nothing but stone. The walls, the statue, people's hearts, Alakibeth 'may-the-masses-bathe-in-his....phoey!'"

Keely's face turned red, and he realized he was sweating heavily, "Father Mongrey, please-"

"NO!", the man lunged at Keely, grabbing his robe so forcefully that he accidentally gathered up some of Keely's flesh in the process, "LISTEN!" the man hissed. He saw the pain in Keely's face, and let go, turned away contritely, but anger still boiled in his voice, "It's not the Merrywater speaking, this is how it's been for ages with me. I prance about bowing before Pharisees and patting the heads of the half-wits reassuring them of a blissful sacrifice, trying to convince them of the faith, and all the while I can't even believe myself!"

Keely coughed and sputtered as he stood up in shock, "But, but Father, the miracles, the happiness it brings-"

"Just because you cling to a lie doesn't mean it won't rot you!", Mongrey muttered bitterly, "Sure, cling to it, pick and choose, cry out and spew your blood everywhere! What has it gotten the people over at Femis Valley? Eh?!" Mongrey challenged angrily.

Keely lowered his head, the plague was spreading rapidly, horribly changing, mauling its victims, turning them into hungry savages with soulless expressions. Men, women, children, turned mottled colors and covered in decay. The Baron's personal army was busy razing the villages of Femis to the ground with fire. Some before they were even hit. All in hopes that fire would contain the curse. But no-one really knew its cause or cure.

"And sweet-sweet Jes-ee-ka!" the man said mockingly.

Keely raised his head quickly, his fist almost doing the same, "What about the Widow Jessika?"

Mongrey, who still smelled like a drunkard, even though he might not still be one, said dismissively, "The damn woman clings to ticklish words, and false hope, anything but make a decision herself! Would rather bleed her own baby dry than take responsibility enough-"

Keely flinched towards his boss, but controlled himself. His chest was thumping and his muscles ached with craving to move.

The man continued as if nothing happened but seemed evermore sober, "We both know she's vulnerable, boy. The Prelate knows of her weakness and I've seen how he gawks while talking to her. I've taken her Confices, she's not exactly a paragon of virtue and the gossips know it. Thinks her husband dying was punishment. Now wrecked with guilt, she'd rather stay here, and blame her plight on others. Instead, she should be taking that baby far from here, make a real life elsewhere. Get away from this pitt-hole..."

With a voice more even than Keely expected, he said "Father Keely, I suggest you don't disparage the good name of the holy Prelate and of the good lady-"

Once again a long bitter laugh came out of the old man, "Good LADY! Is there even such a creature? In the village, she's trash to the others, who knows, may be easier to become the Prelate's-"

Furiously Keely lunged towards the old man in the gray and white robe, Keely's fist falling towards his face.

Father Mongrey grabbed it easily in one hand, and squeezed Keely's wrist until he knelt in pain. Calmly the master monk leaned down and said with baited breath, "After the Prelate's done with his 'Super Special Secret Mission of Importance' he's likely to expel us all, with time to spare to have breakfast at the tavern!"

The iron grip on Keely was released, and he quickly stood back from the steadfast Father. Keely felt deflated... tired, but mostly he felt ashamed of himself.

Mongrey straightened his clothes, and then said, part dismissively, part apologetically, "I'll arrange for you a few days at the Inn, I hear the Widow works there...", a furtive look, "After tonight, you stay there. Find the Widow, keep her from making a mistake in time of trouble." The old man shrugged, now sounding tired, "Then arrange for passage to some OTHER retreat. Simon will destroy this place... and us along with it, if we give him the opportunity. Forget about the Order, and about the church! Before it's too late, boy. Before you become me. Now get to bed, and I don't ever want to see your face again."

Keely turned away before Father Mongrey could see the hot tears on his cheeks.

-

That night he had a dream. A terrible dream where he was rushing through the wilderness at night and burst forth into the middle of the village. The normally empty town square was filled with people. Familiar faces, shrouded with a terrible expression of hopelessness upon them. Gone was the plaza and statue of the town founder. Dream-Keely looked towards where it should have been, and saw villagers crouching hands-and-knees in what liked like mud, a field, but indented in the ground.

The people were mushing down their hands into the ground, like kittens on a belly of a momma-cat. Except occasionally the people would lift up their paws into what used to be their mouths, and noisily consume the harvest of the field. One of them, looked over at him, and being a night-terror, of course it had to be Jessika. But what gave Dream-Keely the raw terror, wasn't that she was there. No... No, it was the realization, the primal certainty, that she loved the taste of that filth just as much as she loved eating her baby earlier. And the smile, oh gods, the smile...

Keely woke up screaming, he trashed about a bit, purposely. Frenziedly trying to fling the animal fear from his body. He got up, and splashed water on his face, he looked out the window, then dragged a chair so he could sit there, staring at the buildings, vowing not to sleep anymore, ever. And fell asleep again.

-

Exaelitus
February 10th, 2012, 11:28 AM
-

Mongrey sighed.

He was going to miss the booze most of all...

He had a deal with the blacksmith. He loved that guy like a brother, the man was what Mongrey imagined himself to be if things were different.

Instead, he had slid slowly into this claw-trap of a life. Any people he had actually loved or cared for were now gone. Dead, or driven away. The only truth he knew were lies. All this time flaunting around as a respectable sage and clergyman, and yet he was nothing but a fool. Now his superiors were sure to vent all the blame for their failures on him. Better to crush and vilify him to their superiors than admit they were incompetent. Take away from him this decrepit collection of crumbling walls and rotting wood. But, blast it, it was all he had left. He couldn't lose it, he couldn't allow them to cook him as a feast without getting their own hands dirty. He wouldn't let them attack his dignity!

He shrugged as he got the chair ready, then noted how flimsy the chair he selected was. "You idiot, can't even get a sturdy chair..."

As he held the rope with his other hand, he admonished the chair, "Stay together, at least until-"

Mongrey grinned, his last expression before it went slack.

-

In the morning, Keely didn't see anyone, he did his daily chores anyway, and then he went into the town, hoping to see Jessika and perhaps make sense of what was going on.

Instead, he wasted most of the day searching for her. Eventually he went to the tavern part of the village's only Inn, where he found that, indeed, his stay had been paid for in advance. He made a mental note to send Father Mongrey a thank you letter, and to keep in touch with the man regardless of the way they parted. They weren't exactly friends, but Keely thought the man might actually be a good person if he gave himself a chance to become one.

He brooded for a while, then realized he needed a refill. It appeared that even though "the other tavern" was the preferred one, and this Inn's tavern to be a lessor used one -- The absence of the barmaid had forced the patron to be quite busy. He was a portly man, huffing and puffing out words as he completed orders, drinks and food. Customers had to get up and take them off the counter themselves. Keely felt bad for the man, certainly this was not helping business.

At the counter, Keely noted the man was trying to relax during a well-deserved lull, so he politely asked for a simple drink. The man smiled, and filled his flagon.

"Busy I see."

The man just nodded, his eyes growing large as an expression of his feeling of being overwhelmed.

"I would help, but as you can see I'm not a barmaid.", Keely offered good-naturedly. He knew that even if he had the expertise, part of the job was being decoration for the grimy men seeking to let loose with childish escapades they dared not do in the presence of their wives.

"Yep, my own fault though, gave Madame Jessika her leave."

Keely tried not to get angry, but couldn't help saying "Leave? But- Why? She's a good woman and needs all the work-"

The man smiled and held up his hand, "Brother Keely, I know your love for all of us", he teased, "But I din't give her the boot! Quite the contrary, without her I'd not have any customers at all, considering Savongiloni's been under cuttin me for years! No, she insisted, said she was moving on."

Keely frowned, and nodded somberly.

The beleaguered owner patted Keely's arm and said, "Not a believer myself, but Brother Keely you're a right-fine man! Don't worry about her, she- OH!" The bartender muttered something, patted several places on himself and then reached under the bar and handed him a note. Just as Keely was thanking him, they both noticed a growing band of grumpy, grubby men holding empty mugs and plates. The owner nodded to Keely and moved quickly away.

Keely opened the hastily scrawled note with trembling hands and started walking slowly towards his table while he read it.

"Dearest Brother, Of all the people, I must thank you. Your kind, unselfish support and comforting words have shown me your heart is good. Perhaps in other... Well, perhaps it is the best that we part ways. Someone unexpectedly gave me a necklace which I have used to barter passage on a ship. I will not be returning, but I take with me the memory of you, and the smiles it brings. -Jessika"

As he walked by the table of adventurers that have been trying to engage him all night, they tried again.

"Hey there, Healer Man!" the burly barbarian woman enticed, "Our offer still stands! We leave tonight and-"

Keely held up his hand apologetically, making a point to show them that he was not interested in the pile of treasure they had been dividing up from their last unsuccessful try.

He sat down at his lonely table, and drank deeply from his cup. He realized at this rate he'd need another in a short minute, but he decided he was done for the night. He was drained of emotion and will, and just wanted to sleep again.

What Keely presumed to be the footpad of the group, slinked over to his table cautiously. He was carrying something secretively, no doubt something from the trove to convince Keely to join. The thin small man was smiling softly, and paused for Keely's nod before pulling up a chair. The man looked around and said, "Heya Brother, Kelly is'it?"

"Keely" he said carelessly.

"Ah, yes'then, sorry about that Brother Keely. Heya, 'goodfolk here say you're a solid man, honest'n'true."

"Not that you'd be a good judge of that" Keely mused.

Rather than be offended, the man chuckled as if he had been tickled, and said, "Heya-now see what I mean. But we're a good group of blokes we are, solid friends of old. We've many hauls together, but our good friend'n'priest met a sad end many months back. We've gotten back together in his honor, only after this big break fell into our laps, begging to be suckled."

Keely shrugged, he heard of and seen documents about a few of them, good reputations. But if they were really serious about exploring the Bekala ruins to the east they would likely all end up dead. The stories... This was no ordinary ruins, no one has dared explore even the surface part for centuries. Even still, risking his skin for gold trinkets wasn't-

The man secretively placed the bracelet down on the table and slid it over. It wasn't the fact that it was made of pure gold and silver so much as it was the style of the markings that stopped Keely in his tracks.

"Wa-- Where did you get this?" Keely demanded, his head lowered and his voice hissing loudly in a poor attempt at a casual whisper. Earlier today he tried to remember about this markings. He recognized the markings now. This was an ancient thing. It was from the Alakiascension period, treasure only seen in small collections far from this region, even this continent. And it looked like the matching partner of the necklace the creature was carting along in the forest.

The man grinned and leaned back, slouching and draping his arm over the back of his chair. Now he looked like he almost didn't care where he was, or what was happening around him. He stared at Keely like a cat stares at a mouse tangled in underbrush.

"This- This-"

"Came from the ruins me and the gang be talking about, heya." The rogue said with a twinkle in his eye.

Keely nodded. If the creature had been in the ruins once, perhaps it was there now, or even lived there. If he had anything to do, it was to catch that thing.

"I'm in." he said, without looking up from examining the bracelet.

The man paused, and then sauntered back to his table, boasting to his compatriots of his artifice.

-

Exaelitus
February 10th, 2012, 11:31 AM
-

Keely was impressed with the group. He especially marveled at the mage, who seemed to bend everything around her to her will. They penetrated deep into the ruins before it was mid-night but the dungeons where they were now had proved Keely's expectations right.

Mob after mob had came at them, never a single room without a mortal challenge. The food had been contaminated and the party's usual harmony was off-kilter. They had spent the better part of the night and following day wandering around. Dread crept through his body as he realized that they hadn't even seen their entrance to this level even though they often found themselves traveling in circles. The group was made up of professionals, and veterans at that. Yet, Keely couldn't shake the feeling they were outmatched by the ruins.

Heady, the masterthief was the only one that looked calm. He winked at Keely, but he could see that the rogue was just better at hiding his doubts. Or, the man was just over-confident. Keely had to admit, though, the man was trustworthy, at least in certain things. He had saved Keely from serious harm at least twice. So Keely felt bad abandoning the group.

He hadn't planned to. And in his defense, his healing had kept the group from becoming physically weak. They were on strong feet when he chased after the creature.

They had already argued for too long on which of the passages of the two to take. So when Keely saw the creature run into a side hall in the "other" part of the fork, he decided to not stop the others ahead of him. He'd catch up, it's not like they would notice, since most of the time his skills were not needed.

He heard a laugh up ahead, and willed himself to go faster, he drew his sword, vowing he would just hack through whatever thug or animal popped out, and keep that creature in sight till he caught it. He was so determined, he hadn't even noticed when an hour had past, and as the slant in the floors lead him deeper.

There, he saw it again! This time the distance between them had grown much shorter than the other times, and the little bugger seemed more impulsive in its choice. Keely sped around this last corner into another side passage.

There, at the end of the hallway, in front of two massive double doors, oak with wrought iron bands, stood the creature.

Keely stopped mid-jog. And raised his sword defensively, ignoring the mewls of exhaustion from his arm.

They stood there...

Looking at each other...

Neither spoke...

One of the creature's ears twitched, but Keely was still.

The creature sauntered, well as best as a creature who waddles could, towards Keely without even a hint of fear. It spread its arms, palms open, and said "Ho! Here we are! Now that you've found me, friend, don't you have any questions for me? Perhaps threats? Or Treats?"

Keely's eyes narrowed, and suddenly his arm didn't feel so tired. He braced against any vile action, "No closer, what are you? A demon? Creature from the depths or beyond the skies?"

The creature bowed, and said "What are any of us? Flesh, Roles, Titles, Professions? Perhaps more importantly what do we do? Myself, I am an Agent."

"Of Who?"

"Of God."

"Which one?" Keely said, more nervous now, there wasn't just the gods of virtue, there were also darker ones...

"Ho! The only One. Silly."

"That's not an answer, spirit!"

"Myself? No, I'm quite mortal, as I said, an Agent. If you seek answers, seek them in your pocket."

Keely pondered the creature's riddle. He had read of adventurers going to far off lands and worlds, and the guardians of great ruins and treasures. How there would be tests and riddles, but never did he hear one like this. He feared he was too simple-minded to solve it... He almost looked back, hoping the mage or rogue were behind him to help.

The creature made a sour face, a smirk that wrestled with a frown, and then said loudly, "IN YOUR POCKET, HO!" Then covered its mouth quickly, and glanced at the doors.

Keely nearly hit his forehead with his own sword, as he realized the creature was being literal. With his free hand, he searched one pocket, then awkwardly the other.

The creature sat down where it stood, and then picked at some lint or string from its "pants".

In the other pocket Keely found that scroll he had picked up, it had been soaked and dried, yet its words were as clear as when he first glanced at it. He sheathed his sword, against his better judgement, but the creature seemed relaxed and as UN-poised for attack as a small man-gecko-gnome-like creature could be.

This time he scrutinized it, seeking for answers. After he read it, he looked over at the creature and said, "How can I be an 'Agent' too?"

The creature smiled broadly, its eyes glistening, and began discussing things with Keely.

-

"So, what now then..." Keely pondered at his new friend.

The creature looked once more at the double doors. "My plan is risky, friend. You have someone to confront, but don't fear, I'll be in the shadows... And remember you're never alone."

"Not by my side then?" Keely pleaded, though he knew that it was probably Prelate Simon beyond those doors, and having this creature by his side didn't exactly look proper.

"Ho! I wish, but everyone has limits. Besides, if Alakibeth knew I was behind this, the plan might not work."

Keely felt cold and he thought perhaps an earthquake was growing underneath them, as he felt less able to stand straight..."Uh..."

The creature shrugged, "You'll do FINE. Just remember, tell him you no longer follow him, and you do NOT offer yourself to him."

"Th-that's all?"

"Well, don't try to fight him, just... umm... kneel down and bow your head."

A tiny part of Keely, deep down inside, protested that despite their talk, and if the creature may or may not have helped in the past, this all sounded strangely like a very tricky ploy to get Keely to die a nasty death without much fuss. He scowled, but screwed down his courage and decided that sometimes to believe in something you have to trust.

He didn't know how he did it, but somehow he was in the room.

It looked like any worship-hall of Alakibeth, perhaps larger than the average, except for three things.

The first, least noticeable difference. Was that there were vast brightly colored tapestries hanging from far above the rafters of the arched hall, stretching down to touch the dust layered stone floor. They showed all sorts of scenes and creatures, and seemed to tell a story. Enough to tell the story of the life of a person. But there was neither time, nor sanity to take in everything and yet understand all of what the tapestries were telling.

The second, more obvious difference, is that although the Prelate was near the Dias of Sacrifice at the far end of the hall, he was not on the right side, and was certainly not in the process of leading any ritual Keely knew. He was suspended, engulfed perhaps more accurately, by many dark red smooth appendages or tentacles, as if a doll of some giant squid creature. Two of the appendages ended in claws, digging deep into the upper arms or shoulders of the poor man. With his back to Keely, he wasn't sure if Simon was awake or what. And now that Keely thought about it, the man appeared to be naked, or at least close to being so. He didn't really care to look close enough to determine which.

Lastly, the owner of those appendages was floating high above the Dias, Alakibeth in all his glory, dark red skin, 6 times the figure of a man, with wings like a bat looming behind him. His eyes glowed a brilliant, beautiful yellow.

Alakibeth was booming, even though he was speaking lowly, to the Prelate, "Do I make myself clear? No more departing villagers, when my Great Blessing covers them like a blanket, I want EVERYONE there! Each village's sacrifice to me most be fill-"

Simon was flung to the side, his body made a crunching sound as it hit the wall, but the servant of Alakibeth's moans echoed in the hall of music and voices. Keely thought that he would be disappointed that Simon was still living, but mercifully a larger, newer, part of him was actually glad he still might be counted among the living.

Alakibeth roared such a gush of sound and wind that Keely actually stepped back. The god rushed forward so quickly Keely wasn't sure Alakibeth actually traveled as much as he teleported. He crumpled to the floor in fear as the great being towered over him, the stench of "off"-flesh and gunpowder rolling off of Alakibeth like foam from a waterfall.

Keely tried to draw his sword, but he fumbled and it clattered away uselessly. He saw in abject fear, the grace in which the monster drew from its side a massive axe, its edge looking so sharp, so readily able to detach men's heads from their bodies.

Alakibeth boomed "Looks like it's your Day of Sacrifice, Brother Keely!"

Keely almost choked, knowing that the entity was aware of his name, that he almost didn't find the words, but glancing over among the pews, he saw a small figure give him a thumbs up. Keely pondered at the inanity of it all, but somehow found a voice, "Alakibeth I do not follow you, and I will not have any sacrifices for you anymore."

Exaelitus
February 10th, 2012, 11:33 AM
Undeterred, Alakibeth gloated, flinging vuglar names, "... I will take you." And lifted its weapon high, Keely could feel its motion even as he lowered his head. He was painfully aware of how easy a target he was making, but he silently talked to someone he had just recently met while he waited.

The axe did not make a whistling sound as it descended, as much as it made the sound of a ghost shrieking in the darkest of night. As it fell, Keely felt its shadow engulfed him.

And then, nothing else happened...

At least for a few seconds... minutes? Keely couldn't tell, his mind was spinning now, coming down from all the excitement, he didn't think he could stand much more...

Keely was about to look up, when he noticed the blurry trail stretching from tapestry to a form, as it was fading -- The form having already came close. He could see its feet in his peripheral vision. If asked, he couldn't really explain why he didn't look up directly at it. Only that he felt he didn't need to. He knew it was another "Agent", and he knew that it had stopped the axe many feet above Keely's neck. It also could have been that his body refused now to believe that it was any other time, than time to collapse completely. Keely was glad now that he hadn't had anything to drink or eat recently.

The voice of a man spoke, echoing easily off every wall, yet it was calm and even, like someone announcing they have arrived, "Alakib, stop. You have violated the terms, and are now forfeit."

The hulk, that was once was, dropped to a standing position on the floor in front of Keely, letting go of the killing tool it once held. Keely could see its legs turning towards where the form stood, and heard it speak, not so forcefully now, "DO NOT TELL ME-" it begain, but never finished.

Instead, Alakibeth, or rather Alakib, flew backwards away from the form, the tip of a beam of light that slammed into the great stone wall, as the tapestries became flame and vanished. The wall buckled under the force, as a pile of leaves would when a star falls down upon them. Through the cloud of dust, Keely could see the creature waddle out, protecting its oversized head with its hands, from a pew nearby the downed body, crushed and mauled into a lump of defeated flesh, much of it scattered far and near.

The creature picked up the sword and offered it to Keely, as it helped him stand up, "Ho! Now we leave, we've got to prepare you for a journey."

"But-", Keely motioned with his sword towards the broken, smashed figure, in worry. "Shouldn't we... I mean, I... you know?"

"Murder Alakib?! Ho! What a thought! Escort it out of your new mind, child! It's not our decision what happens to him now. Perhaps he is already dead, it is not our concern." The creature pushed on Keely's legs towards the doorway.

Glancing back, and towards the other, undamaged wall, Keely noted that there was only one tapestry left, which was pristine without even a smudge, it was of a kneeling form in armor, a simple bearded man, before a marker made of wood.

-

They were standing in the woods, in a clearing about midway between the ruins and the village. Except for wild-flowers and a few rabbits, there was nothing waiting for them.

"I don't understand."

The creature shrugged, "I didn't mean physically, silly. Ho! You need to improve your listening skills, child, or clean out your ears!" it joked, "Oh, the exception being this." From somewhere it had gotten a piece of clothing that it was now holding, and threw it at Keely. It was a blindfold. "Preparation really is mostly about attitude!"

"So... mentally... but a journey? To here?"

The creature laughed, not unlike a child, "Not TO here, FROM here."

Keely didn't like where he thought this was going, "But what about the Widow Jessika? And my things-"

The creature jumped up and down, "Been busy slaving all day getting the plan ready, I present to you a Wonderous journey and you worry about trinkets!"

Keely blurted with a sudden realization, "You! You gave her that necklace, the one I saw you with."

The creature bowed, "Ho! At your service. Do not fear, I will do what I can here. But you must leave. You wanted to be an Agent, so now is the time for the Agent to begin his training and mission... There is a world, called Alpheridies. It will be your home. Your life here is dead, just like the icons you worshipped. You will become one of their people, learn their culture and make it your own. I've arranged for a family to adopt you."

Keely nodded, and put on the blindfold as the creature motioned him to.

"To better fit in, I can gift you with their sight. As a Miralukan you will start your new life, become a new man. In honor of that, I've taken the liberty of giving you a new name. That's all I can do, Exaelitus, the rest is up to you."

Before Keely could protest that he liked his old name just fine, he felt like he was a tablecloth being yanked across a table and its side, reality distorting.

And then, he could "see" he was standing in a crop field near a forest. Even with his strange new "Force" vision, he knew the bright forms were not merely strange representations of things he was familiar with. The scent in the air was alien, and he felt more spring in his step and the sweeps of his arms. He saw that a couple and their children, all in curious garments were approaching him, with expectant glimmers on their faces.

Exaelitus grinned.


He didn't intend to kill a god, but he did. He realized now he couldn't live his life on intentions, or expectations of the tomorrow... what mattered was what he did today.