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TVC - Chapter 39 - The Scribe

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Peter ducked under another sweep of the ogre. The beast was even more angry since Todd had taken his razors to its many faces.

Peter stabbed up into its chest, through the eye of a particularly ugly face. The beast howled as Peter ripped Soul Eater free, leaving a huge gash in the creature's side. The many mouths snapped at him with their sharp teeth and Peter was hard pressed to avoid their biting.

He crawled rather ungracefully between the construct's podgy legs, hamstringing the beast as he went. It toppled over, crushing several Nagashi under its weight. The beast was far from slain however. As the energy from the Black Shard flooded the battlefield once again, the ogre's wounds sealed with a sickening slurp.

Todd danced back towards the battle like a whirlwind, and with slightly less finesse, Peter charged after him, knocking several skeletons to the ground and grinding them to dust under his boots in his eagerness not to be out done by the Strigoi.
 
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The broiling, stormy skies billowed with clouds. All battles that vampires such as these partook in summoned the inclement weather, but with so many in one place the sky above was writhing as dark storms struggled for place in the sky. Mirroring the battle below, clouds buffeted and battered one another for position, striking at one another with thunder and lightning. Deathly tolls like those of a great bell echoed across the plain.

But none of them were anything like that which came next. A foot-wide column of lightning drove itself into the ground, smashing apart both skeletons and Nagashi warriors around it. The extraordinary boom of the air itself exploding from the fury of the strike cascaded across the battlefield. As the shock wave hit, soldiers from both sides of the battle were torn limb from limb by the sheer force of the blow. Beyond a ten-foot radius, soldiers merely flew through the air, cannon-balling into their kin and oft destroying them in the process. In a manner of seconds, there was a clear ring of empty space, bar a single figure.

From the blinding light and the boom that rattled armor all across the stage of battle, every eye (or socket), whether they find themselves mounted on the face of a Lord or a foot soldier, turned to see the source of the commotion. Through the afterglow of the electrical cataclysm, every one saw a figure in pearly white armor. As the light faded from their eyes and the darkness of battle once more filled their sight, the disturbing tint of the armor revealed itself. This was no glorious hero - rather, a macabre visage of sheer terror. Clad in bone, the lone creature stood proud and tall, glaring at all sides of the field. His countenance was sheared into a hideous, twisted grin, a mocking insult to all. He stood with sword and fangs bared, his eyes wild with bloodlust. In the near silence of the aftershock, his voice carried clean and true across the plain, amplified by some magic. In his mad, lilting voice he decried, "What did I miss?" The manic cackle that followed mimicked the thunder above, ricocheting and rebounding in a cacophony of unholy tones.

As his laughter died down, the sounds of metal meeting metal began once more. His presence announced, the empty circle began to fill swiftly. He sneered his lopsided, insane sneer and lunged towards a soldier with supernatural alacrity. Not knowing whose side they fought for, he drove his blade deep into their breast. He swung with a strength beyond men and the armor and bones that remained hewed their own path through the fray. Like a catalyst, as he drove his way through the flood of soldiers offshoots of damage spread as the corpses of his foes slammed into others, initiating further confusion and death.

He knew not whether the bodies he defiled with his touch were on the side of his lord or those of his enemies by association, but he didn't care either. He reveled in the glory of battle, sending scorching blasts of pure magic hurtling here and there with haphazard disdain. He arbitrarily slayed friend and foe, leaving only corpses in his wake. Here and there a confused warrior would strike at him, only to see his weapon deflected. The armor of bone withstood slices that would have cleaved plate metal in half, and weathered blows that would have caved in any other breastplate. Once or twice he felt his pride and joy shatter and splinter, but he funneled the winds of magic into it and it was once more whole.

Eventually, he caught sight of his liege lord, locked in mortal combat with what appeared to be an old man. Evidently, he had misplaced his trust in either Simon von Carstein or his own eyes. Nevertheless, he hacked his way towards him. Eventually, he reached his lord. Calling out over the sound of battle but not bothering to magically enhance it, he said, "Hello again! How've you been?! Is this not a good time perhaps?" He gave a little giggle before continuing, "Do you need any help? I am at your service..." He plunged his sword into a nearby ghoul as he waited for a response.
 

Disciple of Nagash

The Perverted One
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As the daggers sped back towards him the Sentence dismissed them with a snarl, his wizened face momentarily twisted in anger that his attack had been thwarted. Suddenly he felt a jolt of power as the Black Shards shockwave spilled over him, and he effortlessly pulled some of the power into him. It was sweeter to him than any wine, and its touch brought back the rotten grin to his face.

”Must we play these games Count?” his voice cackled above the din of combat, we both know that it is only that bauble that is protecting you" Suddenly from his outstretched hand ribbons of magic flowed, wrapping themselves around Simon with blinding speed. In seconds his arms were pinned to his side, legs clamped together until he was entirely immobilised. Only his head and hand bearing the Carstein Ring were left uncovered.

What to now my cocky young Count? laughed the Sentence, ”Even your vampiric strength cannot overcome those bonds, and you are not nearly as skilled as I in the dark arts, so you have no hope of dispelling them. Slowly walking forward he allowed a smug smile to slide across his face, ”all I have to do is remove your hand and there will be nothing to stop me from destroying you."

Suddenly from the side he noticed a charging figure in pure white and reacted instinctively. The blast of magic was enough to launch the attacker backwards into the dirt, and as he started towards him the Sentence noted with interest the magic surrounding the bone armour. Two more bolts of magic lashed out gouging holes in the bone, and as he watched he saw the tendrils of magic attempting to heal the damage. A swift hand gesture tore the magic out of armour, leaving the attacker bereft of his arcane support. Another cackle left the Sentence’s lips as he felt his power surge through him. Without the Lahmian slut or the traitor V’azrin nearby there was no one to stop his magic, and he turned back to Simon, intent of completing his task.

”Now, where was we before I was so rudely interrupted?”

**********************

“Mistress! Please, you have to do something!” Rayla begged her sire. Through her half closed eyes Lesa saw Jason protecting her and knew that she had to act. Though drained beyond her usual limit, there still work to be done. Reaching deep down into her well of power she struggled to draw upon it, feeling only a deadness inside her. Thoughts flickered through her mind as he tried to find something, anything that would make her respond. An image shot in to her mind and stuck fast, an image she had spent so long. After a moment the pictured moved, playing out as she recalled the memory. She saw his mouth move, heard the words he said and form within her felt a rush of grief that she had fought against for so long.

Looking at her Mistress Rayla was about to call once more when she felt something shift in the air. Instinctively she stepped back as she saw a trickle of red run down Lesa’s cheek. A second later a wave of pain and misery washed over her, a surge of emotional magic that the ancient Lahmian had been unable to keep insider her. For a second Rayla wanted nothing more to curl up and die, to do anything not to feel that way, not to feel the overwhelming guilt. With the wash of pain images flickered, half formed thoughts, and she suddenly had the strongest notion that there so much she had not been told, so much that her Mistress was hiding, something that was the cause of this soul destroying guilt.

As swift as it arrived it was gone, and opening her eyes she saw Lesa standing firm, eyes wide open as she regarded the undead hordes before her. Gone was the tiredness, the sadness, the only thing that remained was pure hate. Raising her hands she screamed a spell that warped the air in front of her, twisting and turning in on itself, before a tiny pinprick of darkness appeared. In an instant it double in size, and from its depths an irresistible pull was felt as it dragged anything nearby towards it. The ranks of dead before them were slowly pulled in, bodies ripped apart to squeeze into the tiny hold that was growing larger and larger with every passing moment……..
 
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Again Peter launched himself at monster, and again his blow achieved nothing. Even he with his vampiric strength was beginning to tire. He called his legions around him. He had lost about a quarter of their number already. He hoped he had enough left for what he planned to do.

Black Knights cut through the ranks of Nagashi and skeletons. They were led by his vampire bodyguard. Behind them marched ranks of skeletons and wights, their magic blades glowing in the gloom.

In the midst of his bodyguard galloped a riderless horse. Its hooves glowed with cold fire and its hooves crushed skulls. Peter mounted Firehoof at full gallop, grapping the Nightmare's reins and twisting himself into the saddle. Todd spun out of the way as Peter's cavalry sped past the ogre. Soul Eater flashed red as the Blood Dragon lashed at the constructs side. The beast toppled over.

As the horsemen galloped on, the Wights swarmed over the construct. For every wound that it regenerated, it recieved a dozen more. The monster was carved into hunderds of tiny pieces and the spell taht held it together was unravelled.

Peter went on along the line, wooping as he went. He carved through the Nagashi horde, who were to busy fighting the Council members in front of them. Although the charge barely dented the enemies numbers. It bought the Council a few precious seconds.
 
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A crackle of energy filled the air and with a sudden flash Arthaniel and Quezalat appeared on the field. With a swift gesture Arthaniel unleased the aura of deadness that emanated from the spite Shy that was orbiting around his head. The Null Zone to magic that was created by the spite's bound power would allow Arthaniel and Quezalat to advance unmolested by the magical forces of Nagsh's Disciples. Seeing this new threat a small squad of Nagashi troops turned and advanced toward the Vampiric Archmage. Arthaniel smirked at their weeknes and with a quick wave of his had severed their souls from their living bodies. Flashing lights appeared around their bodies as they writhed in agony. Withing seconds the lights soared to circle around Miranal. One brisk word sent the captured souls blasting throught the ranks of the Nagashi, incenerating everything in their path. The blast of soul energy bought Arthaniel time to prepare a greater Incantation.
 

Simon von Carstein

The Poetic Fiend
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Simon struggled against his magical bonds but was powerless to break them. "I have only one word for you Sentence! JEREK!!" Sentence paused genuinely puzzled not understanding the significance of the word until suddenly something struck him with great force hurling him away. In full bestial form Jerek raised his head and roared at the dreadlord as he staggered to his feet. Simon flexed and broke free "Might want to try something different Sentence that trick won't work twice on me."
 
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The old man's blast of magic stalled Zaak, leaving him sprawling in the dirt. His ever-present smile faltered. Leaping to his feet in a single bound with vampiric agility, he advanced upon the offender. In that glimpse of magic, Zaak had felt a store of pure potential energy unparalleled by anything he had previously experienced. A flash of fear flew through his mind. He began to walk closer, and he saw his lord's corpse engulfed with magical darkness. Zaak knew he was certainly no match against this foe.

Suddenly, a couplet of magical bolts slammed into his breastplate. He was knocked off balance temporarily but regained it as the armor made its repairs. Suddenly, he felt his work sucked out of the Osarmatura. It came as a shock - this armor had served him for several years now. Confused, he checked through it with his mind. There was no mistake - the armor was now purely mundane. The two holes lay gaping in mid-repair, mimicking his pride's damage. In a simple motion, this man had robbed him of something of great sentimental value. This made Zaak unhappy.

Ignoring Simon's lack of response, he strove towards the curious man. Suddenly, a creature of unknown origin hurtled towards him. The man, who's name was apparently Sentance, was caught off guard and released his magical hold over Simon. Still uncertain of how he should deal with his current predicament, he reacted in the way he was most comfortable with; with not so much as a second thought, he flicked his arm up.

Corpses and skeletons from both sides, littered upon the ground like discarded refuse, twitched in their place. Around thirty of the slain warriors stumbled to their feet, all of varied kind. There were some in armor, others fleshed and yet more crafted of simple bone. The skeletal ones held an odd, violet tint to their ghostly eye-fires. Waving his hand over the ground once more, another sequence of minions rallied to Zaak's call. He filled the vacuum where their minds had once been with his own, locking them to his will. Secure in his dominance over them, he began their march towards Sentence.

No doubt the old man would attempt to grasp control over them, but in this Zaak was certain - they were his, and none others'. Of course, they could and most likely would be bodily destroyed, but there were far more where they came from. The pseudo-army silently and stolidly converged upon Zaak's adversary. Zaak himself still bore a concerned grimace, but it still had a quirky slant to it. He kept both eyes focused on the man, ready for whatever the geriatric should throw at him.
 

Sweeney Todd

Master Vampire
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A grim smile spread across the Guilt's face as she at last found an opponent worthy of her ministrations. A short distance away the hunched form of an injured vampire directed the assault of a spirit horde upon the Legion with his hands like a conductor leading an orchestra. She begun to slowly wade towards him, a detachment of Nagashi zealots following in her wake. Her blade casually flicked out left and right at the lesser undead while those that struck at her smote themselves instead thanks to her innate abilities.

As she drew close, she was quickly engulfed by an aura of freezing cold as the wraiths rushed to assault her. The Guilt did not even bother attempting to defend herself, and smirked as ghostly scythes clove their own wielders' forms in twain instead.

"Time to die." She hissed and began to pick up stride.
 
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Quezalat appeared onto the battlefield, blade still stored on Larekoth's back. Unsurprised that his erstwhile companion had not been content to stay out of battle in Todd's ramshackle contraption, he quickly remedied his unarmed status. Seeing the psychological shock his appearance had on a nearby unit of Nagashi, he mentally spurred his monstrous mount towards his fleshy opponents. The Nagashi fell like grain before the enchanted blade of the Vengeance, and they were further shocked by the quick and very messy death of their standard bearer at Larekoth's massive jaws. As they broke and fled, Quezalat restrained the Cold One's pursuit instinct in search of deadlier prey. Seeing the giant axe-wielding Executioner facing Mircea and Ashlotte and remembering his close but greatly enjoyable duel with Krell, he charged the towering figure. In his way stood a single, hunched figure; one of the Disciples of Nagash. Instructing Larekoth to leap for a quick kill, he was unprepared for the magical blast, that, even dampened by his armour, threw him bodily off of his mount and cracking his back scales as he hit the ground.
 
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Jason’s back straitened, his bones snapping back into place, as the Guilt raced towards him, he smiled at her, as he examined the silver pocket watch in his cloak. It was burnt and scared but mostly undamaged and brought his attention back to the Guilt’s face a grin crossing his pale features "Not tonight, mi' lady" he said as he bowed to the Vampire running towards him, his eyes glowed with energy focusing on the Guilt’s as her smirk dissipated.

The Guilt ran forward as the Zealots blades, met with Jason’s ethereal wraiths the magical blades, clashing together as Jason moved slowly towards the Guilt. Her blade flicked out forward as Jason blocked the blow. He knew he could not magically or physically touch her but there must be a way around the enchantment, his mind raced with the thoughts, while the guilt relentlessly attacked him with her sharp blade.
 

Trevy the Great

Vampire Progenitor
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The Verdict stepped back as Graveclaw screamed his rage into the skies. There were few forces that could stand against the raging hordes of Ghouls that bore down upon him, however Verdict steeled himself. If he was to die, it would be at a mighty cost to his enemies, with his god's name on his lips.
"And He beheld all that was wicked from his dark tower, and His vision melted away the enemy, turning to dust all those that would defy Him." Verdict cried, pointing a twisted finger at the monstrous vision of Graveclaw. "And from His eyes poured the sight of a God, the power of the Dark unleashed, and it cleansed all he beheld of evil and spite until there was nothing but dust and ashes."
From Verdict's eyes bolted chains of brilliant violet lightning, speeding through the distance between the pale figure and the massive form of the Strigoi faster than the blink of an eye. The air filled with the stench of seared flesh as they struck Graveclaw's body and the Strigoi roared in pain, but did not falter, turning to charge at the Dreadlord.
"And he met those that would defy him in battle, and the heavens rained down upon them, and the earth opened up to swallow them, and the warriors of his enemy turned to strike down their brothers even in death. And so the wicked were and will be vanquished, in the past and in the inevitable future, for none can stand against the power of a God!"[hr]
Vekarin ran over the bodies of the fallen, not paying heed nor respects to the dead as his boots crushed their bones beneath them. A lone Wight turned to face him, but it found itself without a head as Vekarin sped past. He did not have time to enter combat with every soldier on the field.
In the distance he saw Lesa still standing, a nimbus of darkness surrounding her that drew her enemies within it, trapping them forever. She looked so small, helpless and unprotected where she stood, and Vekarin resolved that that image would not continue much longer.

Victarias looked with wonder at the blade in her hands, the steel of the purest black, as if no light could touch it or reflect off of it. In fact, the blade drew light into it, eating it like some sort of ravenous mouth, never to escape. All around it, light stretched as it was pulled unto the sword, and yet the blade remained untarnished, as if it still hungered for the light. It was a thing of darkness, a blasphemous, ugly, evil weapon, wielded by madmen and the cursed champions of chaos. Even now it seemed to whisper to her of the power that she could obtain.
She could become more powerful than the council combined, she could wield the powers of Chaos to strike down Nagash and rebuild his mighty empire in the shape of her choosing. Mighty, shining citadels rising to touch the very skies, great fortresses guarded by ranks of the undying, leaving the living free to pursue their own goals, their own lives. She was the noble ruler of it all, this kingdom of honor and glory, of progress in a golden age of the Old World, her every need catered to, her every whim satisfied, no enemies to threaten her dominion, for all dissidents had been stamped out, their veins drawn for lifegiving blood, their heads adorning the walls or her castles and the shields of her warriors....
No.
How long had this cursed thing whispered in Vekarin's ear? Was his possession of it simply the spoils of conquest or fated for some other purpose. He was stronger than it...
Wasn't he?
And yet, as she turned to face the hordes of undead that pressed up about her, Victarias realized; the weapon would save her life.
 

Disciple of Nagash

The Perverted One
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“Retreat”

Across the battlefield the word echoed in the minds of the followers of Nagash. For split second some stood in shock, and for some that second proved to be costly indeed. One of the lower ranking Disciples started to speak, questioning if they had heard correctly. He never completed the sentence as black fire consumed his body, reducing it into sooty particles that were swept away in the wind. The commands of the Dark Lord were not to be questioned, and no one was beyond his reach.

Again images flashed into their heads, this time a plan of retreat. Years of living under Nagash’s command had drilled his infallibility into his servants and the rest responded without pause or question. The Dreadlords swiftly retreated, using nearby minions to block their opponents and make their escape. Casting their spells the Disciples of Nagash created a wall of corpses as a rearguard, blocking the rest of the army as they pulled back. A similar wall surrounded the Orcs. Whilst the zombies were next to useless, and easily cut down by the vampires, there was enough to give the Legions of Nagash time to retreat.

It was not the only reason they retreated without harm. Though they may have pulled back, the damage that had been done to the Council’s forces was immense. Over half of their army lay fallen, some so damaged that no necromancy spell would be able to bring them back. As much as they would have liked to pursue, the Council’s army was in no fit shape to do so.

The Legion had not escaped unharmed though. In addition to the many troops sacrificed as a rearguard, the Black Shard had exploded, levelling everything nearby. Countless Pinnacle Guard, and the rare Spectral Cavalry had also being destroyed, and the Bone Throwers had been commandeered by the marauding Orcs.

Within a few hours the plain in front of the Council’s forces was clear once more, littered this time with mounds of the dead, the number added to as the rearguard also collapsed as they were released from the Disciple's control. It was indeed a victory for the Council, though it was a poor one at best. They had not showed they could stand up to the might of Nagash, in truth if the Legion had not retreated, many thought the Council would have met its end here.

The leaders of the Council stood together, convened atop a small hillock overlooking the battle field. It was hard to gather what they thought, for they stood in silence for a moment, though it was clear from some faces they were not happy.

His armour blackened and twisted, the Duke stood next to Lesa. He for one felt different. The magical artefact used on him by the enemy commander had nearly cost him his unlive, and he felt truly thankful he was still here. How he lived he would never know, all that he knew was that he had awoken on the back of a horse, carried out of the fray by one of his loyal knights. As much as he would have liked to saviour the feeling longer he knew action must be taken, for if the enemy returned when they were in this state they would easily be crushed. However even as he opened his mouth to speak, he heard a voice next to him.

“What is that?” The rest of the Council turned to where Lesa was pointing. The Lahmian looked tired to death, her eyes dark and her skin grey. The spell she had cast had nearly run out of control, threatening to rip a larger tear into the realms of chaos. It had only been contained when V’azrin had lent his power to dispel it. Even then he could not bring himself to talk to Lesa and had swiftly walked away when the task had been complete.

“It looks like someone walking, “Victarias replied after a moment. The fact that the object was over a mile away was testament to the vampiresses sight, but as they all stared they could see she was right. A second later what they saw was enough to set alarm bells ringing. Rising into the air the figure seemed to try and disperse, before a violet flash brought it back together, sending it back to the ground.

“It’s the Innocence,” Lesa breathed in horror, “I thought my spell would have crushed him.” They watched for a moment longer before she spoke again, “it seems to be containing his abilities though, it looks like can’t turn into his mist form.”

“Then this is our chance,” Mircea said, followed by a nod from Simon with a feral grin on his face, “we can finally get rid of one of these bastards.”

”Do not underestimate a Lord of Dread,” V’azrin hissed, ”It may be a ploy, and even if it isn’t, he is still immensely powerful.”

“I agree,” Helena counselled, “I do not think we should rush into this –“

“We should take what chances we are given before they are taken away,” Vekarin interrupted, pointing with his gauntleted fist. The Innocence was moving more quickly now, headed towards the mountains, no doubt to hide within its shadow. Presented with the opportunity the Council for once reached a decision within minutes. They would follow and annihilate the Dreadlord, and to ensure the task was done the full Council would carry out the task.

The Innocence had moved a deceptive amount of distance, and when they Council finally caught up with him, he was disappearing into a cave in the mountainside. A look from some of the Council suggested they were not happy in following into what possibly could be a trap, but again any protests were squashed when presented with the opportunity to destroy one of the Dreadlords. Weapons drawn, spells ready, the cautiously followed.

In the cave they found only a dank tunnel leading downwards, and from the darkness came a shuffling that told of the Innocence’s difficult progress. Their quarry in sight the vampires sped up, not noticing the shadow that followed now behind. Eyes glinting in the darkness Rask tailed them silently, though for what reasons no one knew, possibly not even he knew.

The tunnel finally came to an end, yet not even the vampires eyes could pierce the complete darkness of the cavern before them. Before Lesa could speak an incantation to summon a ball of energy, light suddenly flared into being in front of them, causing all of them to shield their eyes against its harsh glare.

”Do you think you will kill me that easily?” The mocking voice of the Innocence echoed round, and they looked up to see him stood on a plinth in the middle of the cavern, a sword in his hand. Vekarin didn’t wait and rushed forward in a blur of motion, sword lashing out. The rest of the Council followed closely, ready to take advantage of any opening they could get, but they would never have the chance.

At Vekarin’s first blow the Innocence seemed to stumble back, his hood twisting for a moment, and in that moment his ghastly visage was revealed. Too caught up in the thrill of combat Vekarin had not seen his face, and he brought his sword round in a decapitating arc. Suddenly a crackle of lighting roared across the room, slamming the Blood Dragon to the ground. Such an attack to overpower Vekarin’s plate armour could have only come from one person, and he looked in Lesa’s direction with a look on confusion and anger. When he saw the look on her face he paused for a moment, for he had never seen such anguish in the face of another creature.

“It can’t.......” she mumbled, dropping to her knees, her eyes fixed on the sight in front of her. Looking back Vekarin saw the Innocence rise once more, his hood no longer covering his face, and the Blood Dragons face dropped in shock.

“Milosh?......”
 

Trevy the Great

Vampire Progenitor
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"Innocence indeed." Vekarin spoke as he rose from the ground.
Kill the traitor, kill the fiend, kill the weak one, kill the small one.
Kill the Innocence!

"How can this be, how is it that you still live? By Abhorash the damned slayer, why are you here!" Vekarin yelled, his voice booming like a thunderstorm about the narrow tunnel.
End him, end him now. Bleed him dry, you know you want to. Remember how he slighted you, now take the opportunity. Forget the girl, she can die next. What handsome trophies they'll make, won't they?
Vekarin took a faltering step forward toward the Dreadlord, readying his shield. Innocence would not...
Do it! Do it now! That's right, take his misbegotten life. Drink of his lifeblood, won't it taste good? Oh, so good; cold and smooth, the stench of decadence. Blood for the...
"Why?" The Blood Dragon asked.
You see it, don't you. This is not the time, you are not the killer. There are a thousand futures ahead, but not here, not now, not you...
 
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Before Zaak could formulate any kind of plan to proceed, the Sentence retreated. Raising a wall of unliving flesh before him, the old man sped away into the depths of the fray before he could be stopped. Zaak immediately wrested control over the two- or three-score zombies with a flick of his wrist before walking forward. All across the corpse-ridden plain Nagashi were retreating. Skeletal and fleshed minions alike were left standing dumbstruck as the foes retreated from beneath their blades. The entire army drew itself out and away from the castle. Had the battle ended already?

Moments later, with not so much as a whisper of a hint of a warning, the hulking black object in the distance exploded. Shards ripped through the atmosphere and showered down upon the field. Embedding themselves in the blood-soaked earth, they hummed with velocity and raw magical power. One such sliver embedded itself deep in the ground near Zaak's feet. Bending over to extract it with his hands, he felt the cold, harsh magic emanating from within. This would prove useful...

As the enemy retreated, various figures of leadership about the battlefield whooped with glorious victory. It was a shallow one for Zaak, as he had not truly contributed and the Osamatura was ruined. Nevertheless, it was clearly a victory for his liege lord, and that was good enough for him. He surveyed the now half-filled battlefield and decided to make use of it.

He clapped his hands together once, and seven spiraling swathes of darkness arced then plummeted towards the ground behind him. Making contact with the surface, they collapsed into semi-material form, wraith-like specters gliding over the ground. The coven, once assembled, diverged once more, arms outstretched. As they passed, the collapsed corpses gained new ersatz life. Shambling creatures clambered to their feet, before shuffling towards Zaak. He himself was also making use of the refuse about the field, summoning troops to their feet once more. He amassed a reasonable force, stumbling along behind him, violet witch-fires in their eyes.

Along the way he picked up chunks of the black substance, and handed them to skeletons to carry. As he approached the location of the explosion the pieces grew larger, and they began to need multiple skeletons to bear their weight. The unswerving minions fulfilled this purpose silently and uncomplainingly. Eventually, the coven returned to his side, a flock of several hundred troops behind him. Nodding to them, the coven set up a loose perimeter around the force and began herding them towards an unknown location. They appeared to be heading towards and to the right of the castle - evidently, Zaak had some purpose for them there.

Once this was complete, Zaak assembled with the other vampires on the hill. By then his natural grin had recurred on his face. His eyes glinted at the thought of future escapades with these vampires. However, before that there were more pressing matters to deal with. A lone figure was seen on the battlefield, who some of the others recognized as "The Innocence". Whoever it was, they were manifestly of relative importance to the others. He cantered along behind them, wondering where this would lead.

He accompanied them into the cavern, and saw the brief fracas between the Blood Dragon and hooded one. In the aftermath, the identity of the perpetrator was revealed. On the edge of his seat, Zaak nearly burst with excitement when he discovered that it was Milosh... whoever that was. Apparently there was some unknown quantity to this that Zaak failed to grasp. Who was this Milosh? Left in the dark both figuratively and literally, he awaited some kind of explanation.
 

MasterSpark

Nostalgian
Staff member
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Helena glowered at the newly revealed Milosh, trying to deduce if this were nothing more than some form of arcane trickery but try as she might, there were seemingly nothing else for it. She felt a surge of sympathy as she pondered what horrid and vile treatments Milosh must have been put through to end up like this but she still kept her cool - the prior battle had drained much of her reserves and she were now forced into the position of a mere onlooker.

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Having been told to stay behind as the Council had chased after their pray, Ashlotte were busy with surveying the battlefield for items of any certain significance. Then she saw it: the severed arm of Mircea. The limb lay on the ground, fingers and muscles still moving with magical vitality. Ashlotte figured that the elation of surviving the encounter with The Executioner had made Mircea forget about it. She decided to recover it for safekeeping until she would run into the vampire lord again.
 

Gree

Master Vampire
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Mircea regarded the figure in front of him coldly.

‘’I see, this was unexpected, Brainwashing? Or was this of your own violation? Milosh?’’ he questioned.

Shrugging. ‘’I guess it matters little, unless you surrender, we will be forced to kill you’’ he stated. Glancing at annoyance at his right stump, a normal human would have been driven into unconsciousness by the sheer pain and shock of a severed limb, but to a powerful vampire lord like Mircea, it was simply a dull ache.
 
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The Broken form of Jason shifted around the dark space at the violet light flickered in the empty space between the council and the innocence. The tension was growing steadily; as Jason looked upon Milosh there was only one thing that eluded him about the situation
“Why are you here Innocence or is it Milosh?" Jason allowed his question to sink in for a moment.
“Have you not just disobeyed your master’s orders by staying here?”
Jason said as he stepped forward from the rest of the council his eyes glaring and calculating the innocence’s reaction.
 

Sweeney Todd

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Sweeney Todd and Geralt hurried in pursuit of the Innocence, leaving Mrs. Lovette to raise back the fallen members of the Fallschirmkorps and salvage fragments of the Black Shard for future use.

Todd recoiled in surprise at the sight of the revealed Milosh. He had been in the Council long enough to have known and fought alongside Milosh, unlike some of the newer additions. However he did not take any chances, and with a quick hand signal Todd and Geralt took up flanking positions around Milosh. The duo watched him warily and waited for the deadlock to break in either way. Geralt did so uneasily, instinctively sensing an additional presence of an outsider watching. But neither faltered in their watchful vigilance.
 

Simon von Carstein

The Poetic Fiend
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Simon watched the proceedings carefully hiding his shock at the identity of the Innocence. "Oh Milosh! How low you have fallen." he said shaking his head sadly. I had such high hopes for you Milosh. But its not too late. Even if I can't restore you to your original self you can still contribute to my cause." He gestured to the von Carsteins around him "Take him alive." he said simply. "Right." said Mircea observing Milosh "and if we can't?" "Then get me some of his blood its important." Simon replied.
 

Gree

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''I would note, brother, that is going to be rather hard with one arm, unfortunatly I have forgotten to reattach my arm in my haste leaving the battlefield and have little time to regenerate a new one immedietly'' Mircea commented.

''I will need some help in that''
 
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Quezalat's frustration with the Disciple of Nagash's resilience ended with several punctures in the Saurus' scales and a pulped mass hanging out of Larekoth's jaws, as the Cold One had, without urging, taken the Disciple in its maw and chewed enthusiastically. As Nagash's forces sounded the retreat, he was immensely annoyed by his failure to properly engage the Executioner due to the need to chop apart the two-score zombies that had been unlucky enough to rise in his way. When the council clustered around the newly-revealed Milosh, Quezalat was still in the throes of his battle fury; heedless of the Council's pause in their attack, the Oldblood spurred Larekoth into a jump over his erstwhile allies and howled a thunderous challenge, before landing directly in front of the revealed Innocence with a brutal cleave through the midsection.
 

Disciple of Nagash

The Perverted One
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There was one who was watching the events unfold with a gleam in his eye, a gleam that was not entirely his home. As Milosh was finally revealed and his watching gaze took in the entirety of the Council stood before him, booming laughter echoed in his head, before a voice spoke directly into his mind.

"Yes," it hissed,"now Scribe."

Hearing his master's command the Scribe took a step forward, now resolute in his task. A few days ago he had almost doubted his duty, but now............

As the weapon tore into the midrift of the Milosh he dropped all pretences, snapping Lesa's spell off him. A second later a maelstrom of dark mist burst forth in every direction, slamming the vampires into the cavern walls. As quick as they fell the Council were back on their feet again, but before they could do anything a barrier appeared around Milosh, stopping them in their tracks. Pounding on it with all their might it seemed impenetrable, as even their powerful magic weapons could not breach it.

Standing before her husband Lesa could not move, the shock of what she was seeing had overwhelmed her. The man she loved just stood there, staring with black cold eyes, as if he didn't even know her.

"Who is doing this?" bellowed the Duke in anger as his sword bounced off harmlessly again, "Milosh is not even casting a spell so......."

"So small minded," a familiar voice hissed as he stepped through the barrier as if it wasn't there, "that you cannot even see what lies before your face"

For the second time that day Lesa's mind reeled, unable to understand what was happening. First Milosh and now.....
"V'azrin? Wha-what is happening? What are you doing?" Seemingly in shock as well the other members of the Council took a step warily back, well aware of V'azrin's magical prowess.

"Happening? Is your little mind so wrapped up in vice that you cannot comprehend the obvious?!" V'azrin snapped at her, "I was never on the Council's side. It was no more than a ploy, one which you fumbling idiots fell for." Walking next to Milosh a small malicious smile crept across the Necrarch's face. Placing his hand on the vampires shoulder he pushed him to his knees, before standing behind him and putting both hands on his head.

"Of course I never dreamed of the discovery I would make when I met you. When I met him," V'azrin continued in an almost conversational tone, "the King's Childe. The oldest of Vlad's children, and the one in which is blood flows through the most strongest."

Glancing up as Todd suddenly made another lunge at the barrier, the Necrach lashed out with a black bolt, smashing him into the rock walls. The distraction dealt with he continued speaking as if they were all friends, enjoying small talk.

"Did nobody wonder why they Carsteins seemed to have no powers to call their own? Each line has certain traits, my own glorious line is magically adept. The followers of Abhorash have their martial skill. The slut Lahmians speed and stealth. The Strigoi vermin, raw power and resilience. But what of the Carsteins?" Looking at the uncomprehending faces that looked at him, a derisive snarl twisted V'azrin's face,

"Of course such gutter feeders as yourselves would not think such higher thoughts. But for one with an intellect as mine, is was a question that needed answering. Nagash did not choose Vashanesh to lead his armies based on a whim! He chose him because of a reason, because he knew the power that the Carstein's have.........used to have. Control.

V'azrin paced swiftly round Milosh, excitement making him raise his voice.

"Of course like the other lines, the masters were so much more powerful. Vashanesh was said to lead by charisma alone. A fallacy of course. It was his blood, his power, that ensured that the armies of Lahmia followed their king. Such was it's potency that not only did his bloodline follow him, but the other bloodlines.

When Nagash saw this, he saw a useful tool, and thus made that trinket."
He gestured towards Simon who glanced down at the ring on his hand, surprise followed by a thoughtful look.

"No your arrogant whelp, it will not work for you. Your watered blood is far to weak, even the King's Childe could not activate the full powers of the ring. But that is not needed.........not any more."

As he said those words an inkling of what was happening started to enter the Council's minds who shared looks of fear, horror and anger. But behind the barrier the only person who could reach the Necrach was Lesa, and the Lahmian had crumpled back to her knees as she faced the horror that was her husband.

"So needy. So easy. He thought I was giving him his corporeal body back," V'azrin cackled, "when in fact I was manipulating it, changing it, and now........now it is ready." Placing his hands back on Milosh's head V'azrin paused as he looked once more at the Council, a strange expression on his face when his eyes passed over Lesa.

As if mentally shaking himself the Necrach's expression turned resolute, before he started chanting. The ancient Nehekharan echoed round the chamber as it grew in pitch, the ground underneath starting to tremble. Higher and higher until................

The cavern was plunged into darkness for a second, before the torches relit themselves. For a second it seemed as if nothing had changed, until Milosh opened his eyes. Gone were the black eyes, replaced with an eerie blue glow. Suddenly there was a gargled cry as Simon ran his blade through a gap in Vekarin's neckpiece, gouging a hold ion his neck his other hand plunging a dagger into Lesa's unprotected back.

Nearby Mircea used his one good arm swiftly cut down Geralt, Zaak and Jason, the element of surprise giving the edge he needed. Instead of his usual cold stare a blue glow now shone outwards.

Unsure how to react Helena started forward, before a chittering at her back warned her of an impending attack. The tip of the Fellbade scored a scratch as she moved out of the way, but it was enough to seriously hurt her, and she swiftly fell back.

"Yes! Yes!" V'azrin, before maniacal laughter spilled forth, echoed only by the dark laughter of his dark god inside his mind, "the Carsteins are mine to control. But it will not stop there! It will only be a matter of time before I work out how to extend his hidden power over all the bloodlines, and then.......

As if on cue Milosh stepped forward, and from the shadows around him wraiths materialised. He was still the wraithlord, master of spirits, and on his cue they rushed forward, weapons at the ready. Realising they were unprepared and outmatched the remaining Council members did the only thing they could do. They fled.
 

Simon von Carstein

The Poetic Fiend
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"I've been waiting along time to do that!" snarled Simon withdrawing his sword and dagger. Speaking to Vekarin he said "You came to my citadel and the first thing you do is slaughter my men and make endless demands like you're in charge. As if anyone would trust you to be in charge. Relying on other people to free your wife from the prisons of Morr because you're too cowardly to go yourself." Turning to Lesa he said "and as for you! We were supposed to be allies but instead you just took charge without so much as by your leave. Constantly whining about your blasted husband who ended up in most of the situations because of you!" As the council fled he smiled and shouted after them "Don't run this party has just begun."
 
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Zaak's unsuspecting and now unprotected body was hurtled into the side of the cavern by the crushing darkness. Unable to move, his limbs crushed against his side, he watched as confusion was scattered through the council. Retaining his grin, out of confusion rather than glee now, he clambered up the wall to his feet once more.

The moment this was done, Simon sliced at him. Now that his armor was simple bone it cracked as soon as his weapon made contact. Cursing himself for his foolishness in leaving himself unprotected and trusting the others to function, his face distorted into a dark scowl. He felt the deep gash penetrate his abdomen. Slowly, he pulled shards of bone from his flesh, leaving them to lie on the floor of that cave. Uncertain and confused, his head flicked back and forth from the exit to his lord. Erring on the side that didn't just try to kill him, he half-ran half-loped off towards the exit of the cave.

As he saw the half-light at the entrance he released a primal yawp, and bound the winds of magic to him. Great black, leathery wings veined with violet burst from his shoulders. Clutching his gash, he spurned his way off into the sky. He headed away from this place of confusion. Even now he regretted his choice to serve Simon. It was a fool's choice, and despite the fact that Zaak was a fool it was not right!

How could he have hoped that this disjointed and malignant troupe would have raised his daughter for him? Where he had tried for over a century why would he think that another could or would help? No, they were all depraved and selfish creatures. He knew he could not trust them, and yet he fell into their hands. Well, no longer. Zaak belonged to no man. He spat at the ground some distance below, and continued his flight from the cave.

Some time later, a mass of undead could be seen congregating around the Black Carriage. The seven specters stood guard, and raised one arm to hail him as he approached. He abandoned the wings to the winds of magic, and they dissipated in the breeze. As he plummeted towards the ground, his body collapsed into a similar black mist. At ground level, he rematerialized upright and shirtless, and continued on foot towards the Carriage. His bare torso bore the gash where Simon's blade had been. Beneath his left arm he held the remaining shattered bone of the Osamatura, but this he hurtled to the ground. It was useless to him now.

As his wraithlike attendants swarmed to his side, he dismissed the majority of them. Leaving but one, he plunged his hand into where its chest would have been. It buckled around his fist, and released a shrill shriek. It began to shrivel up, collapsing in upon itself. As it did so, his wound began to re-stitch itself, tendons and muscles and skin building itself up once again. Just before the phantom completely disappeared he withdrew his hand, leaving only an ugly scar on his stomach. The faint black wisp fluttered off to regain its own strength.

Zaak's face was decidedly not grinning. By the time he reached the carriage his eyes were broiling with malignant fury. Flinging the door open, he stalked inside and slammed it behind him. His head wrenched to the left, where he beheld the sight he had been waiting for. Encased in a glass coffin, Cassandra's elegant body floated limp and translucent. She smiled as she saw him, her fangs gleaming like moonlight. Her whole body shone like the moon, casting sparkling beams of light around the carriage like a bejeweled disco ball. He leaned in close to the coffin, and placed his hand and face upon the glass. The longing in his eyes burned white, swamping the red of his anger. She raised her own hand, and placed it under her father's on the glass. A single tear fell from his eye, and slid down the pane of glass.

He stood there for some time, just enjoying his daughter's presence, however fleeting. After a while, she withdrew her hand and closed her eyes to rest. A second tear followed the first, and Zaak backed away from the casket. As he stepped out the door, he blew a soft kiss towards her, and thought he saw a touch of color return to her cheek, if for a moment. He closed the door quietly from the outside, and collapsed upon it.

He sat there in the fetal position for some time, before standing up. His task now? Revenge. Simon was still out there. Zaak was unarmored. He needed to craft something for himself, something new, something better. Looking at the sizeable mound of the Black Shard chunks, he smiled to himself once more. When he returned, he would be ready.
 

MasterSpark

Nostalgian
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Heavily bruised and battered, Ashlotte had taken to mounting her mechanical steed to relieve herself of the burden of walking. Suddenly, the severed arm of Mircea that she had stored on the back of her horse began shaking and twitching violently before seizing her throat in a vice grip. She was unable to dislodge it as the hand exerted an extreme amount of force. While Ashlotte didn't need air to breathe, her metal skin would soon begin to give way for the immense pressure.

Rearing her steed up with an unspoken command she unleashed the energy stored within her mount in a powerful electrical discharge, forcing the hostile limb to release her and throwing it to the ground. However, before long it was up on its digits again and lunged at her but an accurate triple-dose of pistol bullets left it shivering in its death throes.

As soon as she could relax, Ashlotte felt a horrible tugging sensation within her and looked in the direction where her mistress and the Council had ventured. Something had happened.

-"Mistress!"

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Rask's assault with the Fellblade had drained what was left of Helena's essence. With one last scornful look over the scene she disappeared from view just before Rask again leapt at her. She would need a lengthy rest if she were to ever recover from this night.

Her thoughts was ablaze with unanswered questions. Truthfully, she had suspected that Simon would be capable of something like this ever since their visit to Nagashhizzar... but no, something was not right. The vampires were somehow being controlled by the Dreadlords.

An already grim situation had turned even darker.
 
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