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Unread 15th of July, 2010, 06:49
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Chapter 2: Otherworld

It was no longer cold.

Not that it was warm either, but the freezing chill of winter had vanished. Now there was no real sense of temperature, some non-existent average. An ambient that matched perfectly with the skin.

Opening eyes, the first thing to be seen is the endless pure white sky. It goes on forever without a blemish. Or with only a single blemish. A second and third did exist, but they were less easily noticed. In the sky there was a perfect red circle. It was huge, far bigger than the sun or the moon could ever be. A uniform primary red sitting upon a uniform white sky.

The earth was black, for those who had landed face down, all they saw was blackness at first. It was not uniform however, there were elements of white to break it up from being an endless expanse below an endless expanse. White edged black stones, and others that were black edged white. Or, more, the scattering of stones just seemed to look one way or the other without any regard for light or personal colouration, they were just outlines. Here was a place where certain fundamentals had been neglected. Little sharp tufts that might have been grass also poked out from the bare earth, monochromatic of course.

Besides the great red circle in the sky, this was a place without colour.

But the three men who had found themselves here, lying upon the black and white earth were not of here. And so they retained their own personal natures. Including a rather more objective colouration. Even this was strange however, there was no real illumination here and so there was no shadow. Their skin, their clothes, their weapons, their armour and their possessions were all lit by some ubiquitous neutral glow. And as a result, they rather stood out.

The three were on the edge of some vast hollow, it stretches off in both directions. Not a crater, for there is no ridge around the perimeter but some other geographical anomaly. The opposite side is visible, and upon it stands a long spire reaching up into the sky. Despite looking unnatural, it doesn’t appear to have been constructed as such, having more in common with a vastly overgrown stalagmite. The very tip seems to waver slightly, changing in size or possibly position. The distance and monochromatic nature of the land make it difficult to tell. Perhaps it is simply an optical illusion,

Aside from the enormous shallow,pit and spire there are several trees in the middle distance. Gnarled growths that harbour the second of the inherent breaks in monochromatism. The branches are shrouded in leaves. Leaves that have only the barest hint of colour. A slight pink or rouge but here it stands out on the bleak landscape. The trees are absolutely still, for in this place, there is no wind.

And beyond the trees is a city. The city is a few miles distant making it hard to exactly judge the character. What can be seen is a thin shaft of blue slicing the sky in two. It rises up from somewhere in the city and eventually fades to invisibility against the blinding white backdrop of the sky.

Grimjaw found himself in a place very similar, but entirely alone. From his position he could not see the spire across the pit, but the red circle bared down upon him also and the city with its line of blue was equally clear. The dwarf found himself at the base of small cliff, a sheer step in the landscape of no more than a dozen feet which was more than sufficient to cut off a solid half of his perspective. Of the trees, he saw a few growing near the edge of the pit, their near translucent leaves burning like a thousand suns in this colour-deprived place.
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Unread 18th of July, 2010, 23:17
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Kjetil slowly recovered and got up, frowning. Looking aroud warily, his expression soon showed as much wonder as wariness. "Where in the Gods names are we," he muttered as he looked around. Looking at Lade and Karthas, his gaze then searched in the way Grimjaw had been but eyes didn't find a trace of the dwarf.

The Aart seemed out of place as he took a hesitant step forward, towards the city. "What has happened to us... is that Edinway?" The large man's knuckles turned white as he held onto the spear closely as if it was the only thing left linking him to the real world. It didn't seem to appear to him that it, too, was of some otherwordly material...
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Unread 20th of July, 2010, 00:34
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Silence.

His white eyes stare at the white sky, the giant red orb therein. Everything is a flat, dead color, from the black plain before him to the crimson disc above. It reminds him of the flat, alien eyes of his one time captors - yet, for once, his mind is a quiet place, no displaced memories come to haunt him. It seemed this dismal landscape stirred not a one of them.

Had the world ended? Was he dead?

He considers the questions in the abnormal quiet of his mind. He closes his eyes, feels the beat of his heart, the slow steady rhythm as his chest rises and falls with breath. No, not dead yet. He opens his eyes and they gaze on the distant city, looking very much like a miniature cutout fit to be a set piece on some mummer's stage. It seems, to him, as though he has walked into a dream.

"Bhargh ai gharuk," he rumbles in old dwarven, then he stamps one foot on the blackness of the plain. Was it earth beneath his feet? And where were the others?

"Ahoy!" he calls, rather loudly in this still place. Perhaps they were near.
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Unread 21st of July, 2010, 20:08
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"Mother of Sin," Lade groaned clutching at his eyes. "That ... did not feel good. I'd give what remains of me legs for a good shot of spirits right now," he added, patting the empty flask at his hip out of habit.

The cry echoing across the unnatural landscape drew him from his misery, pulling himself to his feet as he recognised the dwarven accent.

"Ahoy there," he bellowed back with as much power as he could muster in his tired old lungs. "Where are ya lad? Are ya hurt?"
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Unread 21st of July, 2010, 23:49
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Voices... familiar ones... Kjetil tore his attention away from the strange place they had stranded in and focussed on that which he knew. And as long as Lade was talking about spirits, he wasn't in too bad shape after all.

Glancing shortly at Karthas and then back in the direction where Grimjaw's voice was coming from, Kjetil said "let's see if we can find him," and started moving in the direction.

{slow-mo starting in 3... 2... 1...}
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Unread 22nd of July, 2010, 01:04
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For the second time today, Damondred Karthas was afraid. The others were still shouting for the dwarf; dimly, he registered that it was dangerous for them to be making so much noise, but the larger part of his mind was still taking in their bleak, washed out surroundings.

"Oh, fantastic."

By his tone, it was anything but.

...this is what happens when you think with your heart, old fool. Good deeds to save your withered soul? Fah! You'll never find your way back...

In a louder voice (though it still didn't carry far), he rasped, "Are you all daft? Keep your silence! We're not in Aos anymore."
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Unread 26th of July, 2010, 23:19
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He nods at the answering shout, relieved though he hadn't realized how anxious he'd been at the prospect of being stranded alone in an alien world. Their voices brought with them a sense of normalcy in a place that was entirely abnormal. He moved in their direction, and raised a hand as they came into view.

True to dwarven form, he was still well rooted in his original task, no matter the surroundings. A respite for Lade was what he'd sought, and a respite for Lade was what he'd find. He indicates the leaves carried surprisingly gently in a big fist.

"Luck be that I got what I need afore the . . . happening. I can see to his ailment now."
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Unread 28th of July, 2010, 00:14
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Kjetil slowed and hesitated at Karthas' words. Looking back at the man over his shoulder, he pondered his words. Not on Aos anymore...

Turning to face the way Grimjaw was calling from, he spotted the dwarf. "Wherever we are, first things first." When Grimjaw rejoined and announced that he'd take care of Lade's ailment, Kjetil nodded slowly, then turned to Karthas. Stepping up close to the man, he gazed down at him, brows furrowed. "Where were you saying we are?"
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Unread 29th of July, 2010, 23:13
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Karthas shook with quiet laughter, tears streaming down his creased face. He carried on this way so long that Kjetil was sure he wouldn't answer.

Finally - "The world we live on...Aos." He tasted the word as if it was unfamiliar. "We are on the outside of it, looking in. This is where the rat-men came from."

Last edited by treehouse; 29th of July, 2010 at 23:47.
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Unread 30th of July, 2010, 00:07
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Grimjaw looks up from where he is busy grinding herbs with a small mortar and pestle he had produced from somewhere. Some he lay carefully in squares of cloth he'd retrieved from his back, others he transferred to a bowl, and still others he lay atop a flat rock he'd collected. Lade he seated nearby with instructions to get a decent fire going.

"Rat-men?"

If being outside of Aos disturbed him, it didn't show. In fact, he was very much enjoying the respite from displaced memory and felt considerably better than he had in a while. It was almost enough to make him feel comfortable in the presence of this mad sorcerer. His blocky hands moved with improbable dexterity as he drizzled the cloth-herbs with water, wine and oil and then twisted them shut. These he bound to the most damaged areas of Lade's legs.

"Why would rat-men want to live here?"

He pours a decent quantity of oil into the bowl and stirs the contents into a syrupy consistency before handing it to his patient.

"Drink up, all at once."

He'd need to get the fire going hotter before he could add the final components to it, and then Lade would need to inhale the smoke but that could wait a few minutes. Meantime, he sat back and studied the flat sky - might be they'd die here. He felt strangely content.
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Unread 4th of August, 2010, 08:31
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Lade had made many a fire in his life, it's a skill most civilised - and every uncivilized - man knew well enough to do without thought. The motions were familiar, almost rote in nature.

Except for today. His flint and steel produced only the faintest of sparks and the strange grass, shifting between absolute tones of black and white as he moved relative to it, refused to even smoulder for a good long while. Eventually, through grim determination, he manages, but the fire lightless flames burn coolly.

Looking at the hypnotic swirl of black and white, Lade frowned. Brushing his hand near the pseudo flames without feeling the slightest hint of heat, he looked up to his companions.

"Well this is a twist."
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Unread 12th of August, 2010, 09:44
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Karthas shrugged at Grimjaw's earlier question.

"This is their home. The rats, I mean. Yes."

He grabbed a stick and poked Lade's heatless flame with it, not really expecting it to burn. After a moment, he withdrew the branch and raised it to eye level, inspecting for any scorching.
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Unread 12th of August, 2010, 16:42
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Kjetil was about to ask the question Grimjaw voiced and gazed at Karthas with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension. Waiting for him to explain further, he squatted down next to the dwarf and offered a hand every now and then.

Frowning deeply when the fire didn't produce the heat they needed, Kjetil watched it for a few minutes, then nodded. "It takes time, but it will heat up."

His frown once more deepened when Karthas announced this strange world to be the home of the rats. There must be a reason we were sent here...

His gaze suddenly finds Grimjaw and locks on him. "You..." he hesitates shortly. "You know about the rat-men, don't you?"

{Aid another on heal check: 14 }
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Unread 12th of August, 2010, 18:02
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Kjetil's instincts were quite correct, while the northlander and the dwarf set about tending Lade's malady, Karthas noticed that gradually the heat from the fire was building. The monochromatic stack he'd shoved into the equally coloured, lightless,flames reacted the same way, sitting unscathed for almost a minute before the first signs of blackening started. Not that blackening was an especially useful term in a world with just the two shades, but there was some subtle difference, an analogue to charring. It would seem that this world is rather resistant to some manners of energetic change, the idea tugs at some memory hidden by the cobwebs in Karthas' mind.

For Lade, having the two men administer the strange remedy was rather unpleasant. Swallowing the foul concoction took all of his willpower and the stern gaze of Grimjaw, as for the fumes, when the fire finally reaches a reasonable temperature, they sting the eye, the nose and the throat. Liquids run from most of the old warrior's orifaces tricking down his face and refusing to dry in the neutral ambient. Perhaps the dwarves were made of hardier stuff, or perhaps this was some distinctly human reaction to a treatment suited only for dwarvern physiology. The stinging gets worse, feeling rather like somebody had stuffed his nasal cavity full of dancing nettles until eventually the treatment is declared a success.

Such was the torment of the treatment that Lade was rather shocked to find the aching pain of having been partially petrified has gone. Stretching experimentally, the sensation of crushing weight and generally sluggishness has receded into a barely noticeably pang. Of course, the warrior can still see large patches of his skin where the black fluid struck which are stubbornly remaining as living stone, although perhaps with just a shade more flex.

[ooc: Lade is no longer slowed for the rest of the day. Karthas determines that mechanically everything has resistance 2 to fire and cold as an extraordinary ability]
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Unread 15th of August, 2010, 23:08
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Kjetil's brows furrowed as he watched Lade's suffering under their care. "Sometimes only pain brings relief," the large Aart muttered under his breath. But his heart wasn't in these words and surprise showed clearly in his expression when Lade's condition improved considerably all of a sudden. "Feelin' better," he inquired as he got up again.

With the remedy taken care of - Kjetil nodded at Grimjaw appreciatively - their current situation once more became the sole focus of the Aart's thoughts. Believe... they have sent you here for a reason! Clenching his teeth, the Aart studied the land around them. Finally he spoke. "If this truly is the home of the rat-men, then we were sent here for a reason," he started out slowly. "Maybe it is from here that we can finally seal the door between our worlds and stop them from ravaging ours." After a pause he repeats "we have been sent here for a reason, but it is up to us to live up to that which is expected of us." His deep, sonorous voice cracked ever so slightly in the end. Not from a lack of faith, surely.
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Unread 17th of August, 2010, 11:22
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Karthas gave Kjetil a startled look.

"That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. We're here because the anchor on the other side was jostled. And we're probably going to die here."

He glanced at the tower on the far side of the lake.

"We should try to get back there. No, shhh. We can't kill them, they're all we've got. We're all outsiders, here."

That brought a nervous titter to his lips.
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Unread 19th of August, 2010, 02:32
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The dwarf cocks his massive head at Karthas, vaguely irritated by his raving. The man had some power, to be sure, but precious little sense from what he could see. He grunts in a non-committal fashion and turns to the Aart. He'd more or less pieced together the rift - what it meant to Aos, at least, if not exactly what it was - and that the ritual was to have contained it somehow. Rat-men, on the other hand, he was completely ignorant of though Kjetil's words make the story clear enough. For Karthas' benefit he elects to state the obvious.

"Rat-men, is it? And this is their world? We're like to be outnumbered."
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Unread 19th of August, 2010, 21:53
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Kjetil frowned at Karthas' retort. "Guesswork," he muttered and his frown deepened as the man continued.

Relieved, the Aart turned to Grimjaw as the dwarf spoke up. "That sums it up pretty nicely," Kjetil remarked, his gaze on the tower in the distance. With a sideways glance to Karthas, he added "let's get moving for our steps will be guided." After a pause: "We've been set upon this path, a challenge we will have to overcome." The Aart hadn't shown much religious fervor in the days the others had known him, but his eyes now gleamed strangely when he spoke the word 'challenge'.
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Unread 24th of August, 2010, 16:32
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Lade ran his fingers down his stony feet, feeling the rough texture brush across his finger tips. Grimjaw's inhuman medicines had worked, for what it was work. While the pain was gone and he felt able to move his feet in something akin to his normal agility, there wasn't much else he could feel. While not quite numb, the rocky appendages seemed fairly insensitive to touch.

"Our best bet for answers are over there," Lade interrupted, pulling himself to his feet gesturing to the city. "Let's move in and see what we can find, we can run off later if things go bad, and this may be our only shot to have a look. I'll scout ahead, ya lads follow behind."

Moving across the monochrome landscape, the aging mercenary gave some thought to the problem of hiding a splash of colour behind a black and white visage. He knew some animals relied more of senses of smell then sight. If the inhabitance of this strange realm didn’t perceive colour as he and his kin did, then they might have a way to conceal their presence.

It might be the only way.
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Last edited by itches; 26th of August, 2010 at 13:07. Reason: updated
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Unread 31st of August, 2010, 03:46
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Grimjaw grunts an affirmative, having already decided the city was like to be the best way out of here. With a look at Kjetil that might mean anything, he shrugs his massive shoulders and starts after Lade, keeping an eye out for any tracks in this blasted landscape while still managing to scan the horizon regularly for anything out of the ordinary.
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Unread 31st of August, 2010, 21:23
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Out of the ordinary was a hard thing to quantify in this strange world. If the ordinary was this colourless expanse, then it was the party themselves who really defined as out of the ordinary. The few other patches of colour pale in comparison to the vibrant array of shades present in the flesh, clothing, armour and arms of each of the four.

Leaving the dry lake-crater behind them, they set out for the city. The city marked by the blue streak lancing upward into the white sky. Above, the red circle continues to loom, entirely unmoving. Or moving so slowly as to be imperceptible. The going is easier here than in the winter world the party hail from. With no real sense of hot or cold now that the fire has been extinguished and left behind, there is no snow, slush or ice. However, it only takes until the first pangs of thirst arrive and are quenched by waterskins, that the lack of moisture becomes obvious. The lake bed was dry and there are no clouds in the sky to bring rain. Perhaps this is a world where water is alien?

More of the trees lie ahead, a crude pair of ragged lines tracing a long depression in the earth. Motion causes the party to immediately halt and hunker down. The branches of one of the gnarled trees, laden with their bounty of pink petal-leaves, is swaying. In a land without wind, this is no casual accident. As the four watch, a ratman, a Kyrdol, bounds into view. Running its clawed hands along the branch, it pulls the petals free and forces clutches of them into its maw. The beast looks rather like one of the larger specimens encountered in Edinway. It stands another head or so taller than a man and seems to be made exclusively from muscle. It wears no clothing, in fact, it is entirely naked, without any tool or accessory. Perhaps most interesting, aside from the savagery of its appearance, is that it holds its own colour in this monochromatic land. A dull brown so dark as to be almost black, but far removed from its shifting dual-tone surround.

A second of the rat-men appears and devours the thin, translucent pinkish leaves from the monochromatic wood of the branches along with its companion. This one is more brown-furred than black, but the colour looks wan and ill-defined in comparison to the party and intense and vibrant compared to the two-tone grassy hill upon which it stands.

Neither of the hulking brutes has spotted the party, both are very distracted in gorging themselves.

Map


[ooc: White/Grey/Dark Grey reflect elevation at 0ft/5ft/10ft. Party are somewhere off the bottom of the map]
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Unread 2nd of September, 2010, 01:34
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Karthas spoke in a fierce whisper, remarkably lucid for once.

"If they haven't seen us, we shouldn't engage them. There are millions of these lice-infested bastards here. Two less won't make much of a difference to them, but it might weaken us when we get to a fight we can't avoid."
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Unread 3rd of September, 2010, 06:16
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The words echo in the recesses of his mind, stirring memories he'd hoped were gone for good. Faintly, the images tumble past - a handful of desperate men, bright weapons clutched in iron grips, the rim of the hill down which they look, the vastness of the horde gathered there - dim shadows that quickly recede into the depths from which they came. His craggy brow furrows with his frown, doubtless looking like disapproval to Karthas.

And true, he didn't like leaving enemies behind but when the whole world was your enemy . . . well, dwarves were a practical folk. Even when it galled some.

"Best be quiet, then. If we stick to the far side of the western ridge and keep our heads down might be we'll get by."
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Unread 6th of September, 2010, 10:43
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"Let's hold a bit," Lade breathed at the others, squinting down at the pair of rats. "These two aren't acting nothing like the ones I saw before."

Glancing around, Lade squirmed his way to a point where he could observe the pair without being spotted.
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Unread 6th of September, 2010, 21:03
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The two bestial rats seem far more concerned with feasting upon the rose-tinted leaves, or possibly fruit, of the twisted monochromatic trees making it all too easy for Lade to leave the group a little way up one side of the depression. Peering through the branches of a handy screen of vegetation, the party settle down to watch the pair of Kyrdol gorge themselves.

It does not take long for the two to have stripped the tree entirely of its bounty, at which point they both seem a little confused as to what to do next. One looks over at something obscured from view, a brief grunt is carried on the wind before his companion swipes at him, landing him a hefty slap upon the nose. For a moment, tensions boil but after a few more deep squeals and grunts, they simply move on to eating from another tree.

Whether the two are speaking a language is hard to judge given the distance involved.
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