Clearing the Minds

Ja’Deir’s head broke the surface of the serene pool and suddenly all of the inner voices clamoring for cleanliness hushed. He’s always felt at home in water, and with the creatures of the deep. It’s like being wrapped in a blanket from head to toe – a nice, clean blanket. All of the sounds that hit you when you’re in the open air drop off and you feel a comfortable pressure all around you, reassuring you that you’re not alone in a bleak desert. Ja’Deir swam around the rock where the elf sat a few times, exploring the depth of the pool, and doing a few loops and barrel rolls in the process.

But as usual, when you shut a problem out it doesn’t go away. His head emerged from the watery bedding, and a voice started back in on him. Well, it isn’t so much a voice as a spiritual pressure. It was like those high-pitched sounds Ja’Deir heard from time-to-time, but humans didn’t seem to notice. His ears twitched as he pulled himself from the water, partially because of the voice, and because there was a deep grinding rumble, as if the cavern’s belly grumbled. The magicals in CrIsis were studying the circles when Ja’Deir went down, but all except Tyvernos had readied themselves at the entrance to the room when he had come back out. Tyvernos and Ja’Deir shared a significant glance, and they both rushed to the entrance; the Gnome putting away his Holy Digit, and the Ashada pulling back out his glowing sword and shield.

It was then that Ja’Deir stopped dead. His weapons had changed. The psi-sword – the deadly, laminar extension of his mind – had always taken the shape of a scimitar, with a clean sweeping edge, supported by the horned black. It was wicked looking, but still simple, the perfect representation of Ja’Deir’s mental attacks. Now, it was a thin, clean, razor-sharp rapier. No more were the ornamentations, or unnecessary swoops or bends, only a simple blade easily cleaned.

That change wasn’t as shocking as the change in his shield. It had been ridged and rounded, like the top of an acorn. If you were dragged across it you would come away with scratches, and the crevices were nearly impossible to get out all of the blood. Ja’Deir had often reveled in the symmetries it attributed to his own mind. Though it was rudimentary and seemingly benign, it was just as deadly and unforgiving as a metal shield, but each and every time it was used against a living thing it left a permanent reminder. Now it was a smooth rounded shield that spanned from mid-thigh to shoulder. Its smoothness was so perfect that it no longer resembled anything made by human hands. His previous shield could have been replicated easily, and despite the glow it almost looked as if it were man-made. Now its perfection removed all doubt as to what it was.

Now, looking at the sword and shield, Ja’Deir realized he had been tense whenever he looked at his sword and shield, ever since the vision with Overkill’s poor deceased – A tension that was no longer there. His weapons were clean. They were painless, and they were clean.

This exchange felt like it took hours to complete, but it was in the split-second between leaving the water and the arrival of the first Tezcats Ja’Deir had ever seen. They were tall. He’d always thought of them as Pygmies, the size of Dwarves or Gnomes. But no, they were as tall as Ja’Deir himself, carrying wicked-looking weapons, their faces and bodies disfigured for battle. It seems that in order to create the proper fear in their enemies, they make their faces into gruesome beast’s faces. Some had bones shoved through their skin, made to look like they had horns or extra teeth. Some had beast’s pelts made into costumes, and others merely painted their faces into demonic expressions. One even had cut her face into an inhuman grin, literally stretching from ear to ear, and showing all of her sharpened teeth and forked tongue.

All of this had no effect on Ja’Deir or CrIsis. When you’ve faced real demons non-demonic humanoids don’t hold a flame. Ja’Deir let loose a battlecry, “PYO! o’ṃ ishanaya intaraya sowaka,’’ and leapt at them like an arrow loosed from a giant’s bow. The first one in line, skin scorched by lightning, saw true terror instants before he died. An Ashadan Mind-Mage full of Righteous Fury and flying faster than most mortals dreamed is something to see. The rest of CrIsis were on Ja’Deir’s heels, like a deadly imitation of salmon swimming upstream. With each landing, a savage fell. Only half of the enemy fell before the rest fled the horror.

CrIsis followed them, since their route was the only one not explored yet. CrIsis abruptly entered vast jungle, in what seemed to be an earthen shaft. A single gargantuan tree rose from the middle, stretching past the top, and casting strange shadows on the rest of the flora in the basin. CrIsis battled their way through the basin, for the Tezcats had themselves set up to receive. CrIsis walked right into a trap, even though they knew they were assaulting a Necromancer’s Stronghold. They’d forgotten that a Tezcat of this power must preside over a large tribe as well. Their infernal poisons stopped them in their tracks as they made their way through, but not permanently. It felt like they’d take a leap and fall asleep, then take another leap, and fall asleep. Overkill growled under his breath, “Yar, someone be needin’ ta stop tha’ necromancer, ‘cause he’s bringing out ‘omicidal feelings in me fer these ‘innocent’ Tezcat Bilgerats.”

Then, as if CrIsis closed their eyes and ran screaming toward the Necromancer’s stronghold, they came upon a strange mine entrance, the world changing from forest to rocky cavern. The smell of death and decay assaulted Ja’Deir’s sensitive nose and, with the sight of the waxy, swollen foliage near the cavern’s mouth, made him gag. Surely they had found it. CrIsis’ discussion finally made it into Ja’Deir’s ears. They had been talking about Leylines, vast currents of power flowing through the earth. Apparently magicals can draw this energy right from the earth itself, and it makes all of their abilities last longer and more potent. Most of this seemed strange to Ja’Deir, having no basis to understand it from, as all of his power came from a well of energy within himself, and he couldn’t take psychic strength from other creatures or from the earth. They were saying that all of the ‘excess’ energy that they were siphoning wasn’t available, after entering the jungle shaft. They’d come to the conclusion that something was pulling a lot of energy, far more than any caster unaided would be able to do.

Ja’Deir’s stomach dropped. He’d always thought that he could handle anything by himself. Wooly Dragons didn’t stand a chance to him, and neither did an unholy relic that plagued hundreds of villagers. Nothing had even given him a scratch since he was a child, smaller than the rest, and targeted for his high placement in the adult’s hearts. Even the Ancient Dragon’s crushing foot did not vanquish Ja’Deir! But the horror in their voices as they talked about what kind of being could draw that much power, that there wasn’t anything for them to take…

CrIsis entered the mine, and started down one of the passages. Ja’Deir thought of the metal cart tracks, and how cattle would die if they were touching the metal bars of a fence if it were hit by lightning – no matter where it hit. He asked everyone to fly, to avoid injury, and asked that all of the magicals hit the metal with lightning, so anything coming down the path would be killed before they came across it. Tyvernos and Xerx’ses obliged, but the concern was raised after they passed the first room full of redead undead that they’d just announced their presence. Anything not standing on the metal would see the deaths, and know that an assault was under way.

That started a very long discussion. So long that even Ja’Deir was siding with Tyvernos against the endless chatting, and almost ventured off alone. The question was raised about how to scout ahead. Ja’Deir didn’t want to leave the group alone, (at first) and thought that scouting wasn’t necessary… better that the scout had a full army with him if he were in trouble than that he were alone and killed. Asher spoke of a form of Astral Projection that would save him versus anyone not able to see his Aura or see the Invisible, and would save him from beings on the astral plane. Ja’Deir had long dismissed this out-of-hand, since the psychic tether connecting body and spirit would lead anything to both, and it lay unprotected and unwatched for anything to destroy. The body was also not invisible, so anyone passing by would be able to see it and kill the mage. But, the idea sparked interest in the group, and it kicked off a discussion about who they really are, since there was so much they were still learning about the basic skills and abilities of their companions.

Asher is an Archeologist. His passion is for cultures and peoples long-dead and currently alive. He loves getting to the ‘roots’ of things, and feels knowledge will come naturally. This is all important on a personal level, and Ja’Deir loves that about him, but it won’t stop a blade from entering his flesh, neither will it stop gouts of flame from killing his friends. This isn’t to say he’s not a skilled mage in his own right. He somehow commands both magic and psychic forces. His abilities to adapt to any situation are astounding to Ja’Deir. That is what is important to CrIsis as a military force.

Indaris is a Cartographer. He loves to know the lay of the land, and does an incredible job at showing people the beauty and the danger of the land, and how to navigate it. He has a great hand at art, and could make a living in a court of a king. Ja’Deir loves that about him, that instead of fame and fortune he has chosen a hard life of sacrifice. But can that stop his friends from being taken by the dark? Will it stop the world from burning when the Dark wins? No. His faith in the Light and his resolute actions are what will do that. That is what is important to CrIsis as a military force.

Ja’Deir loves to talk to people. He loves to tell stories, and laugh, and cry, and get to know them on such a personal level that he can’t help but to love them. But there is a time and a place for play, and a time for concentration. Ja’Deir learned that lesson long ago. He has heard that his ancestors are playful, and their personalities draw people to him and out of their shells. He’s been out of his homeland for too long, as it would seem, though. He’s become jaded toward life, and doesn’t know how to get back the primal need to play, to pull pranks, and to joke. But there is a time and place for that – In the entrance of a cavern full of Necromancer’s creations, on a holy quest, with the whole world depending on their safe return from the infernal depths is NOT IT.

CrIsis has plenty to discuss, but they will perish if they talk when they should act, and act when they should talk.

>>Letter written in a cavern in the Yin Sloth Jungles on Grekar 12th, in the 3rd year of CrIsis.. Entry by Ja’Deir, Ashada Mind Mage, disciple of Apis.<< First Picture Credit: Panoramio
Second Picture Credit: KalEl7 at Deviant Art
Third Picture Credit: Fine Art America
Fourth Picture Credit: About .com

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