Waking Up

Set 19

CRISIS WILL NOT BE PAWNS ANY MORE! I am through playing to mortal pipers’ tunes. I am finished with the inanity of hustling and bustling. ReSet knows who we are, and we can either stand in the light and fight with its backing, or we can fall to mortal mens’ schemes. This Mangy Carl is the last being to abuse CrIsis without repercussion. Heed my words, O Ye of this Mundane Coil! CRISIS WILL STAND UP.

I have fallen to the depths of my own piteous dithering drivel for the last time. I have failed in my duty to lead since I was given it. I have lead as a half-awake tusker blundering through a field of pansies.

ARISE AND FIGHT I SHALL! FOR OSIRIS! FOR THE LAWGIVER! O DEUS! O VINGADOR!

Unfortunately this realization came far too late. Asleep, I watched as CrIsis blundered through a delicate lace spider’s web, and I am sorry to say most of the arachnid net’s vibrations were caused by me. This self-proclaimed “Crime Lord” is no more than a petty schemer, a lowly usurper to a minor dutchy, full of his own sense of smug self-importance. Which is only said to shine an even poorer light on CrIsis.

Finally – after not one, or two, but three, people battered to pulp by unguided fists refused to help us – we were lead to an unsavory brothel in this godsforsaken town. The voluptuous proprietor lead us to the hive of scum below her establishment. Warning bells silenced by my listless stupor sounded as, looking around the room, we saw Tyvernos, Bungo, Jidian Kulder, and others that would never have taken up with such an unsavory wretch as this. We had to nearly draw weapon on the barkeep before he lifted his arm two feet to point to the back of the room. The crowd parted, as far as possible, welcoming us in for death’s embrace, closing around us as we passed.

Only fear of the Hydras and Giants held my hand from activating every death ward in my arsenal then and there. They would have lasted far too long for it to have been worth the trouble. Mutual Suicide isn’t on my “bucket” list.

He gave a canned speech, something about us being pawns in his schemes, though that might have been me coloring events. He says he’s on our side, but how is that possible if he’s doing nothing more than making us dance on his strings? He explained his little trial of terrors, and it sounded like a contrived scenario to force us to grow together and bond. Unfortunately you need a leader for that, and one that people will follow. I was not that man.

Through stairs, hallways, and rooms we fought and puzzled. None of us are thieves or assassins, and this whole dungeon seemed to be catered specifically to that skillset; skill, speed, strength, forcing mages to get by without magic or psionics. And then came the duels. Duels forced to the death. What possible purpose would that serve? Abrupt. That’s the name of the duel between Xerx’ses and Me. It was cut unbelievably short, thanks to the simple spell “Paralysis Bolt.” As I fell, eyes unable to move from the towering minotaur, I saw the pain and confusion in his eyes as he cradled my unmoving form in his arms and gently wrenched my head from my shoulders. Why?

Confusing: The fight of Burlap and Asher. A lucky lob of a comical confection ended the fight abruptly, though I had never heard of Death by Dessert.

Convoluted: The fight of Burlap and Indaris. Honestly, I don’t know where it began and where it ended. It was as if the entire fight was seen in a dimensional mirror. What seemed like hours passed, and time jumped from the first punch to the third punch to the second spell cast and back to the first punch. What’s worse is those watching in the wings seemed to be arguing of which spell, attack, or movement came before or after which. I saw blood spurt from indaris’ burst lip as a strange bouncing ball hit him in the face, and then perform a dribbling return into the gash, only to burst forth again in a spray of crimson. By the end I wasn’t sure if Burlap was truly dead, or if he would of a sudden be standing and in the middle of a spell, instead of broken on the floor.

Hazy: The fight of Caminata and Me. My moves seemed to be broadcast to her, with flight and invisibility. It would seem that I need to pay more attention to what my groupmates have available to them, as I didn’t know she could see the invisible realms After a failed death ward, I decided to take the easiest path – Cloud of Slumber. Now, the problem with my magic in a one-on-one battle is that My spells aren’t very potent. Xerx’ses and Me casting the same spell would come out with different results. That is not my focus. So, it is not surprising that after 6 clouds, the Druid was still alert and attacking.

I was filled with the absolute asininity of the whole situation. Why were we killing each other – KILLING EACH OTHER – at the whim of a MAN? A man who has ties to ReSet? WHY? I refused to continue the farce. I needed to show my new-found clarity, and my dedication to it. I lay down before Caminata, resigned to death. I would not kill anyone in CrIsis.

I awoke to that stupid, grinning, haggle-bearded, snaggle-toothed, halitoxic, grime-covered stupid face of Mangy Carl’s. I looked, and to my side was Burlap. The defeat sank in. I could not escape, not when we had blundered so completely into the spider’s lair. So, I took Burlap, and we fought our way back to the blood-soaked sands of the dueling pit. We found the rest of CrIsis waiting. With a temporary surge of purpose, I lead the charge into the next room, to find all of our magic and psionics were useless.

The hallway was dominated by a trapdoor fully a third the length of the passageway. I lead the defeat of the obstacle, but it was obvious I wasn’t prepared to be leader, since I wasn’t able to route the conversation to a constructive vein. The blasted ennui returned, and I let the conversation run rambling out of control, everyone going every which way. Once we passed the chasm, with the help of a mundane bit of hemp, we proceeded to the next room, where I let Asher take the lead. The innovating little kobold led us all through the hallway of spinning disks with relative ease, and even yanked Burlap’s unintentional blundering head out of the line of fire once. Maybe this should be our leader? I thought. But no, even his leadership was flouted as well-meaning group members overlooked his detection efforts to skirt around him and down the hallway in front of him.

We made our way down that following stair to a room of strangeness. Magic seemed to work, but then when one of the group tried to negate all magic, it seemed to not affect the clearly magical Golems that attacked us. I was useless in the onslaught. Wave after wave of Golems attacked, and Crisis staved them all off with relative ease. What is the point? To prove that we are the ones that have done what we have done? Wouldn’t you be able to know that just from going to the recently vacated lair of one Tezcat Necromancer? Or see the smouldering remnants of a district of Shinkasa? Or the repairs to Oceanside? We regularly make it through this kind of thing, and putting us through a contrived revival of the past isn’t going to change us. We are independant, and aren’t a cohesive group. It is something that possibly needs to be fixed, but it won’t be.

We seem to be close to the end, but the last golems’ death rattle broke me from my stupor. I AM DONE WITH THIS. MANGY CARL WILL PAY. He says he’s on our side, but someone that is on our side wouldn’t manipulate and control us. You don’t force people to kill each other, and then refuse them Lady Luck’s final kiss. I remember seeing the light of Ma’ip, and then being yanked back into darkness. For that interminable instant, I thought that it had to be Anubis’ infernal hooks latched into my flesh. I prepared myself for an eternity of torment. And then I saw his face. His face fills my sight now. I will watch him suffer. I will bundle him for the guards in Caer Itom. He will be put in front of the judges over the land, or whatever passes for judges here. With the “Lawyers” I have heard of that seem to be cropping up, the judges must be quixotic at best.

Whatever the result, we will take him.

>>An excerpt from his Journal, on the 19th day of Set in the 23rd Year of Emperor Voelkian Itomas II, by Azariel, Apprentice Alchemist. Acolyte of Osiris and the Lady Luck.<<
First Picture by Winning The Web
Second Picture by Palladium Fantasy
Third Picture by Peachyco
Fourth Picture by Peachyco
Fifth Picture by AZ-Rune
Sixth Picture by AZ-Rune

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