:moogle: My story reposted, I feel really sorry for everyone that lost stuff, i was reading a lot of it, anyone who still has their stuff please repost it, anyway I’m still looking for a title to my story, and the new chapter six is now posted
Chapter 0
:fungah: Nothing… Long before the first sound. Long before the first forest began to grow from a single seed. Before the first words were spoken, before the first swords clashed, and before all, there was nothing. A black void encompassed all, black surrounding the nothingness that wasn’t there. There was no time, only waiting hopelessly.
Then, a strange power created a spark. This spark was small, soundless; it was simply a miniscule beacon of light in the complete Sea of Darkness, or The Void, as it has come to be known. This seemingly trivial item soon became the bane of The Void. The spark began a chain reaction, bursting into new sparks around it. An entire universe unfolded slowly; like the fall of a snowflake at first. Very soon, however, the speed picked up into a fierce gale, the terror rushing through the blackness and forming many lands and planets, throwing stars up into the skies as it expanded.
The expansion seemed endless, forming more and more, occasionally tearing through space and creating other planes of existence. They were filled just as elaborately as the first. The first plane is known as the Material Plane. Two other planes were known as Re’talia; meaning Hell in Common, and Neorina; meaning Heaven in Common. Within Re’talia a god was formed from The Spark. In Neorina a goddess came to be from The Spark. And so it came to pass that Asmodeous became the ruler of Re’talia and Tellinta became the ruler of Neorina.
Upon the Material Plane The Spark made the first races (in order of age), Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Halflings, Orcs (which were spawned from elves), Gnomes, and many more races. They began to make civilization, and soon began quarrels and wars. The creation of the Elves is recalled by them as The Beginning. The Elves moved to the Forests, the Dwarves to the Mountains, the Humans to the Plains, the Halflings to the Hills, and the other races spread out across the Material Plane to whatever land they found suitable for them. The Elves despised the Dwarves and the Dwarves despised them mutually. The Halflings were looked down upon by most others, even though many of them were very respectful and prestigious. Some individuals rose to great power and life went on as normal among these peoples.
Asmodeous spawned many demons and devils to serve him, and Tellinta spawned many angels to serve herself. It was not long before Asmodeous came to know of Tellinta. Asmodeous was extremely ambitious, golden fire pouring from his eyes as his horned head looked upon Tellinta. He loathed her from the moment he saw her, her winged form shining bright white, beauty covering every inch of her form. Asmodeous rarely ever took his true form, but his skin was red and he was twenty feet tall, large horns coming from his temples. A long tail follows him and fire of some hue was always burning in his eyes. His muscles rippled and sharp teeth were always bared. For now he took a humanoid form, small horns coming from his temples and golden fire engulfing his eyes.
He spawned more powerful demons, but none that could near his own strength for the fear of being dethroned. He created the Pit Fiends, vile creatures with tan-colored scales and six arms, each bearing extremely potent poison upon their claws. He also created the Tharguth, dragon-winged creatures with no arms and very powerful legs. They breathe corroding gas and are very powerful. Then the abashai were formed, snake-like creatures with powerful wings, skull-like faces, and long manes running down from their necks to halfway down their backs, tails ending in long spikes sharper than the finest blade of any make. Wyrms and dragons of many colors rose from the depths of Re’talia, and Tiamat became the leader of the dragons. Tellinta had spawned equally powerful creatures; her dragons were led by Bahamut.
Tellinta knew nothing of Asmodeous’ plans to dethrone her and take her from power. It was not long before Asmodeous attacked Neorina with his endless leagues. And so began the War of the Gods…

The Six Arch-devils

Small skirmishes of the War of the God sometimes broke out in the Material Plane at times, killing the innocent as well as the not so innocent.  The races became more involved in the war as they began to master magic.  
Some would aid Re’talia and some would aid Neorina.  Tellinta began to overwhelm Asmodeous with the aid of most of the races’ people.  Asmodeous feared creating those near him in strength, but he knew that he must to at least even the scale of the war.  Asmodeous sat upon the Throne of Nessus, deepest layer of hell, in his humanoid form, sipping wine from a goblet of bone with a grimace gracing his handsome face.  He rests a cheek upon his palm, looking around at his palace that he resided within.  War was raging perpetually outside, angelic creature and daemonic creature in fierce combat.  The war was always coming closer to Asmodeous, and he stood slowly, a determined look upon his face.  
He moves to a large hall within his palace and looks around at the long table lined with chairs, the enormous fireplace roaring with a purplish flame.  Chandeliers of bone hung from the ceiling.  A table cloth of flesh was splayed across the tabletop and heads of angelic creatures lined the walls.  Asmodeous cast a final look from side to side, and with six words in some demonic tongue he pointed in six different directions, a demon appearing in the wake.  
Asmodeous spoke to the arch-devils as they examined their sudden existence, his cold, terrifying voice echoing throughout the hall, “You are the arch-devils I have chosen to lead my armies.”  He spoke each of their names in turn, “Thraxx’yllva, Sedaria, Houranies, Cont’alma, Ystel’linta, and Lasandir.” 
Each of the arch-devils wore a different colored armor that was meshed to their skin, their eyes matching the color of their armor.  All of them bore different appearances.  Each had their own special ability that the others did not, and each had a unique blade of great power bequeathed to them by Asmodeous.  They were all now in their humanoid form instead of their true form.
Thraxx’yllva wears pure white armor.  He is built strong and tall at 6’11”, the most handsome of the six.  Short black hair is spiked up like a many pronged crown upon his head.  The armor is held tightly to his skin, showing his extremely defined muscles and flowing with every contour of his body as all of their armors do.  He possesses the power to control the minds of others and bend them to his will if they were unable to resist him; which is extremely difficult.  He wields the Nelintir, a four foot long sword.  The blade is fiery red, a hilt of pure white and a topaz held into the base of the hilt by four talon-like appendages.
Sedaria wears armor of deep green.  He is short in stature at 4’3” and had muscles greater than that of Thraxx’yllva.  Acid green hair was in a single braid, dragging across the ground behind him.  His face is scrunched up and he almost always looks as though some creatures dung was directly beneath his nose.  His power over earth allows him to make plants grow or take all the life of them.  He can summon earthquakes at will or turn a pebble rolling down a hill into a landslide.  His blade is the Terrasque, a great axe larger than himself with a purplish hue, blotches of green splattered at random upon it.
Houranies wears blood red armor. He is of average height at 6’2” and his body looked the weakest of the six.  His head lacks any hair but instead spikes cover his head.  He possesses the power to control fire and create it at will.  Fire is his toy and his body is always at a very high temperature.  He bears the Holocaust, a flaming scimitar five feet in length.  The blade is orange, streaks of blue along it at random.
Cont’alma wears grey armor.  He is very tall at 7’6” and his build was near Thraxx’yllva’s.  Brown hair falls to his shoulders and his body is constantly shrouded by mist, obscuring one’s view of him.  Cont’alma possesses the power to take the form of anything that he sees, taking its properties and powers if they have any.  He can become a mock of Asmodeous himself if he wishes to, or even Tellinta.  He also assumes the state of health of what he is imitating.  Cont’alma wields the Tunchaka, a seven foot masamune.  The blade can cut through anything that was not magically imbued without and problem.  The blade and hilt are pure black.
Ystel’linta wears brown armor.  He is the tallest of the six at 9’8” as well as the greatest muscles, the armor stretching over his massive form.  Long, dark red hair covers his grotesque face.  He possesses the power to morph any inanimate object into whatever shape he wants.  Ystel’linta uses the Heraltani, a double-bladed sword, four feet blades coming out from both the top and bottom of the hilt.  Both blades are broad and bright red in color.  The hilt is pure gold laced with mithril chasings.  He seemed more primal than the others and let out an almighty roar, shaking the hall, as Asmodeous looked at him.
Lasandir, the final arch-devil, wears jet black armor.  He is the same height as Thraxx’yllva but his muscle mass is slightly less.  Long white hair falls to his waist and abysmally deep red eyes look back at Asmodeous.  Lasandir has the ability to control the continuum of space and time, able to open rifts at will and send things into the continuum, unable to escape it without Lasandir’s ability.  Lasandir bears the Sentrallion, a six-foot sword with an extremely broad blade.  The blade swirls with the colors of blue and white, daemonic runes lining the side reading, “The All-Powerful Must Triumph Over the Weak.”
With a very wide grin Asmodeous shouts at his new Generals with renewed strength, “Defeat the forces of Tellinta!  For the head of every arch-angel you bring me I will increase you powers ten fold!”  The arch-devil’s left with great speed, passing by Asmodeous and leaving the fortress to lead each of their armies of one hundred million.  Almost immediately the tides changed.  The War of the Gods was now even.  Every time one side had an outburst of strength it would be quickly stifled and the war would be balanced once more.  The battles began to erupt more frequently in the material plane.  Asmodeous sat upon the Throne of Nessus, still bearing his grin as he drank of the wine.

The Intrigue of Lasandir

The arch-devils exited the fortress and for the first time saw Nessus.  They looked about the endless plains of death and destruction.  Jagged rocks stick from the ground and chasm’s lay like deep wounds, spouting flame.  A great wind always swept through Nessus, taking the unwary off their feet.  The feeling of evil about the place could not compare, however, to the ominous presence they had just left in the fortress.  They reveled in the smell of death that surrounded them, desolate land stretching farther than they could see.
Their eyes widen as they chance upon the six hundred million strong army, divided into six leagues of one hundred million.  Each of the chosen moves to the army in front of them, the seemingly innumerable grouping of different types of demons standing with solemn discipline, or fear, it was hard to tell which.  As the arch-devils took their first steps all of the armies went down to their knees (if they had any), in respect and reverence for their leaders.  A loud rush of clanging armor and weapons encompasses the area and one leader of each army stood to greet the arch-devils, each naming the ones in front of them.
Most of the arch-devil’s held a smug look upon their faces, all except Thraxx’yllva.  He had a look of indifference if not disgust upon his face.  He walks off and his army stands quickly, following him with a steady march.  Some fly, some go on foot, some slither, and some drift.  Thraxx’yllva yells, “Flammis etiam!” and a portal opens in front of him, leading to Neorina.  With a war cry he enters the portal, swept from Nessus, and then his army, imitating his war cry in a single, deafening sound, followed through the portal.  Almost immediately bodies began to fly back through the portal, even as the torrent continued to rush in.  Some were covered in blood as they entered the portal, this only agitating them.
Ystel’linta was the next to leave, roaring with such rage that the ground shook around him.  His eyes burst into orange flame and he too speaks the words that Thraxx’yllva did.  The portal opens and he rushes towards the portal, ground trembling every time his enormous feet impact the ground.  He spins his blade in his hands that the swinging blade is almost invisible.  A few seconds after he enters the portal blood begins to flood from it and his army follows him.
The rest of the arch-devils leave, Houranies last.  Lasandir finds himself in a strange place on the other side of the portal, the Sentrallion strapped to his back, a small battle already going on.  He looks around for a few seconds, a vast plain of grass and a few trees scattered across it.  He had come to the Material Plane.  
He shakes his head as his army rushes in, killing many on all sides, when a blade comes sweeping towards his neck.  He arches his back so his hair touches the ground and with a powerful thrust of his legs he sails backwards through the air, unsheathing his sword from his back and throwing it up above him as he is propelled backwards.  The sword vanishes from the air and reappears, slicing off the head of his assailant.  Blood sprays from the creature’s neck and as Lasandir’s hands catch the ground his sword slashes another enemy from the shoulder to the waist on the opposite side of its body.  The part of the creature’s body above the slash slowly slides off as it falls to its knees.  Lasandir pushes upwards out with his arms as when his hands touch the ground and he moves into a back flip just as his sword reappears and thrusts through the stomach of another of his enemies.  He lands on his feet and the sword is wielded in his hands, moving through the space time continuum at his will.
He turns and caves in the skull of a bird-like creature with the blunt side of his sword.  It screams in pain and with amazing speed he thrusts his fist through the creature’s chest, grabbing its spinal cord and snapping it in his grip.  He withdraws his arm, black armor drenched in blood.  He grins as he slashes vertically at a new opponent.  The cut is clean and the two halves of its body fall to the sides.  Steam rises from his sword, the blood that touches it vaporizing instantly.
Lasandir looks up at a great wyrm flying overhead.  He bows his head and closes his eyes and the next second he is sitting upon the back of the wyrm.  It swoops down towards a large group of angelic creatures and swallows three of them whole, ravaging five more with its enormous claws.  It does not seem to acknowledge Lasandir’s presence even as he slashes through the abdomen of an angel, its guts spilling out onto him and the corpse falling onto the back of the wyrm.  It slides off and as soon as it hits the ground its body is torn into pieces among the turmoil below.  The wyrm soars high up into the air, following Lasandir’s every thought.  The battle was already much in their advantage, loud clashes and the sounds of spells and fire reaching his level.  The wyrm continued to rise and now the battle seemed much smaller from here and they blackness seemed to be overwhelming the creatures of good below.
Lasandir throws back his head and begins to cackle insanely.  The sound would terrify the most trained and hardened warrior, simply killing the weak.  It rushes over the plain and as soon as he looks back forwards, wind rushing through his hair, an arch-angel sitting upon a wyrm rushes his way.  It rushes past the wyrm he rides and the arch-angel swings its white and gold mace, catching him off guard.  His jaw shatters and nearly flies off.  His eyes widen as the bones move back into place and he curses with a mixture of pain and confusion.  
The wyrm wheels around only to see the arch-angel heading towards him again, yelling in common, “I, Cyrris, will not allow you to infect this world or any others! Return to Hell from whence you came, and venture hither no more!”  As he rushes past Lasandir again he swings his mace, this time at his left shoulder.  
With his right arm Lasandir grabs the mace and throws it far away, not caring where it goes.  With he left arm he grab’s the passing arch-angel’s head and it leaves the wyrm.  Lasandir tears off the angel’s head, red blood covering his armor as he holds the head under his arm and holds the body of the angel in his other arm.  He moves his hand over the chest of the angel as the wyrm soars lower and lower.  A white bond rises from the arch-angel’s chest to his hand and a great power rushes through his body as he steals its soul.  A white mist fills his eyes as he arches his back and its soul enters him, giving him all of its powers and knowledge.  
He jumps from the wyrms back and lands upon the ground, muscles throbbing with painful pleasure and his eyes milky white.  They burst into purplish flame and he charges and kills many of the approximately hundred enemies remaining.  He kills about seventy of them, slaughtering each before any his own ranks could reach them.  He looks around, his breathing harsh and rapid.  His army suffered few casualties, but a few lay here and there.
He sheaths his sword and raises his arms to his sides.  His feet leave the ground a few inches and he begins to chant.  Almost at once souls begin leaving the bodies around him, countless thousands of white essences sucking with a sound like a rushing wind into his body.  Each soul that enters his body makes him shudder, as though a great cold was overtaking him.  Once the flow of souls stops he falls to the ground to his knees.  He looks up, his grin wider than ever.  He retrieves the head of the arch-angel from the corpses and makes the portal leading to Hell.  He enters with a certain pride about him, his army following him vigorously.
He was greeted by Asmodeous where they first received their armies.  All but Houranies and Sedaria had returned.  Thraxx’yllva looked nonchalant but Ystel’linta and Cont’alma seemed very excited from their battle.  Thraxx’yllva had no stain upon him and at his feet were the heads of three arch-angels.  Ystel’linta had two heads at his feet and he was almost unrecognizable for his entire body was drenched in blood.  Cont’alma had two heads at his feet as well but his army had been very much reduced.
Sedaria was the next to return with one head, his army barely reduced at all.  Then Houranies returned, covered in wounds and no army to accompany him.  He bore no heads, and Asmodeous pointed towards him.  His body convulsed as he felt the pain of death each and every one of his soldiers felt one by one.  
He screamed with pain and Asmodeous roared, “SILENCE!”  He doubled the pain and Houranies fell upon the ground, body writhing as he mouths curses soundlessly.  Asmodeous continues, “No failure shall go without punishment.  And now for your rewards…”  He increased the power of those with heads at their feet the amount promised.
A mist rises at the demons’ feet and it begins to move into them, millions upon millions of souls that Asmodeous gives up as if they are simply appetizers for him.  All of them revel in the power, all except Thraxx’yllva and Houranies. The former too arrogant to express himself, and the latter in too much pain to express himself even if he was receiving any souls.  Their muscles convulse and their bodies seem to grow slightly.  When the power stops coming their bodies return to their normal size and they all breathe in harsh rasps.  
Asmodeous then speaks with his commanding voice, “Go now, and rain terror upon those that oppose us!  Spare no one, any non-demons shall fall before us and we will trample them under our feet!”  This time, however Asmodeous sent them in groups.  Houranies was sent with Ystel’linta to pick up his slack, Cont’alma with Sedaria, and Lasandir went with Thraxx’yllva.

Through the portal of black the two went, side by side.  Lasandir had drawn the Sentrallion and Thraxx’yllva the Nelintir.  On the other side they found tranquil grounds on every side to the end of sight.  This was where the next legion they were supposed to do battle with was meant to be.  But there was no one for many leagues around.  Both of the generals’ grins left their mouths as their armies rushed out behind them surrounding them and looking about in confusion.  Then a sound heard by all over the commotion pierced the air.  It was the sound of a knife tearing through armor, followed shortly by a scream in response.  One of the lesser demon soldiers on the outer ranks fell to the ground.
Many more of these sounds pierced the air as many angels and other creatures blinked into existence, unveiling the magic hiding them.  They appeared even within the ranks of the armies, killing many just as the battle began.  Lasandir looks over to Thraxx’yllva and his grin returns as he turns to face and arrows heading towards his face.  He raises his hand and grabs it, the point inches away from his eye.  He disappears from where he is and reappears very close to the archer from whence the arrow had come.  The angel blinked and dropped his bow as the arrow was thrust between his eyes.  The surprised creature hit the ground just as Lasandir turns and brings his sword down upon another archer, both bow and body in half.  
The archers were far from the main battle and they began looking towards the flaming eyes of Lasandir.  Many dropped their bows and drew knives, the one closest to Lasandir fumbling with his knife as the Sentrallion hewed his legs at the knees.  Blood poured from his legs as his body falls to the ground, screaming in pain.  He was quickly stifled; however, as Lasandir’s foot collapsed his chest and with this movement he brought his blade horizontally across the neck of another.  Arrows flew wildly around him.  One heads directly towards his stomach, and as it touches him Lasandir bends space, and the arrow slaughters the one who shot it.  One arrow, however, passes through his neck and out of the front of his neck.  He winces in pain, this short moment allowing another angel to bring his blade down upon Lasandir’s face.  The weapons should not have hurt him, but they were blessed with magic.  
The scar that went deep into his cheek would never heal, similar to the many more caused by the blows to his face from those daggers that came in from all sides.  The angels we hacking away at his face with their serrated knives, unable to penetrate his armor.  Then Lasandir cries out in pain and the sound deafens those angels around him.  
They hesitate and a Lasandir feels an immeasurable power surge from his sword an into his hands, up his arms, and throughout his entire body.  Spikes begin to tear through his skin at many places upon his body.  Pain overwhelms him as his armor gives way for those spikes and expands along with his body.  He doubles in height, his muscles doing the same.  The blue and white colors swirling within his sword are drained, and his eyes burst into flames of blue and white.  Red and black now swirls within his sword, three words now inscribed along the blades’ side now reading, “Gentaru, Hesaphar, Dikatey,” the Demonic-Common translation meaning, “Power, Destruction, Death.”
Lasandir overcomes the pain quickly and adjust to this new power quickly.  He looks around, blades fruitlessly tearing his flesh.  He felt no pain anymore, only anger and loathing for all, including Asmodeous.  The closest angel he picks up before it could escape him, his enormous hand closing in on its body.  Bones crunched and blood stained, dripping from his finger as he swung the Sentrallion, now twelve feet long, through one of the angel’s below.  He rampaged among the archers, smashing them with his feet and rending them open with his sword.  One he picked up and bit off its head, chewing it with an evil grin, mouth full of blood and bones among razor sharp teeth.  
He headed towards the main battle, Thraxx’yllva still in his humanoid form, paying no mind to Lasandir as he fought.  The battle was quickly one, four arch-angels slaughtered, one by Thraxx’yllva, the other three by Lasandir.  Once all of the enemies were vanquished Lasandir falls to the ground, his body returning to normal.  All the pain he did not feel while being attack now rushed through him like a tsunami through a town, crushing all.  After a long while, with Thraxx’yllva standing over him, the pain lessened.  He stands and Thraxx’yllva says, “Taking that form is very taxing, but obviously you needed it…”  
He said the arrogantly, and Lasandir replies, “The archers… of Neorina are… well trained,” his speech coming in between deep breaths.  Lasandir and Thraxx’yllva return to Hell to find the other Generals already there, standing at attention.  Both armies of Lasandir and Thraxx’yllva had lessened greatly.  Lasandir’s face had been eternally scarred, and upon the next time he looked into Asmodeous’ flaming eyes, he knew that Asmodeous had sent them into a battle that could have easily been lost.  To Lasandir this was a sort of betrayal, and he lost much trust for his lord.  He continued to fight for him, however, for five long millennia, the War of the Gods ever raging.  More lies and deceit spouted from Asmodeous’ mouth over time, and slowly Lasandir began to think of turning upon this fool that created him, the other Generals accepting the hoodwinks willingly.  Every time Lasandir saw his reflection, those scars always disfiguring his face and he remembers the pain, and thought of betraying Asmodeous…

Civil War in Nessus

As the fifth millennia as a General for Asmodeous came to a close, Lasandir turns to Thraxx’yllva, standing among the corpses of the enormous battle they had just fought.  They had become fast friends by now, many victories and no defeats.  Thraxx’yllva lost much of his arrogance and with every battle their ambition increased along with their power.  
Souls draw into them like bees to honey, and Lasandir says to Thraxx’yllva, “I grow weary of Asmodeous.”  He hesitates, as if this were something he would rather not divulge, and continues, “When I return to Hell, I will gather my forces and find those others who share my loathing.  I shall besiege Nessus in four days time, which should be enough to gather a force enough to dethrone Asmodeous.”  He pauses again, a nervous look on Thraxx’yllva’s face, but curiosity in his eyes.  Then Lasandir says, “My question is… will you fight alongside me in this battle?”
Thraxx’yllva stands for at least a minute in thought, looking skywards to the endless reaches of the Material Plane.  He looks down to Lasandir and replies in a quiet voice, “I shall help you in this case, for Asmodeous has deceived me with his lies as well…”  The voice was not reassuring, and with that Lasandir spoke the words to open the portal, and through it they went.  By now each of the arch-devil’s had their own keep, but nothing compared to the size of their lord’s fortress.  Lasandir went to his own, unaware that Thraxx’yllva was heading straight to Asmodeous to tell him all of the plans against him.

An enormous army of demons follows behind Lasandir in his march to Nessus, countless billions marching steadily, millions more in reserve in case the battle went ill.  It had been easy for Lasandir to persuade them, they all hated Asmodeous with their every fiber, for he treats them terribly.  All whom refused were killed, and many they did not ask, for Lasandir knew that they would remain loyal to Asmodeous, most of them would simply out of fear of the vile god.
They had been marching for a day now, and finally Nessus comes into view as they reach the top of a high ridge.  Lasandir halts, eyes widening, as he looks over the forces surrounding Nessus even greater than his own.  And who else but Thraxx’yllva stands in the front of them, accompanied by the other four arch-devils.  They all had their blades drawn.  Thraxx’yllva moved to the side, revealing Asmodeous who had been standing behind him.  He laughs darkly, the sounds making anger course through Lasandir’s being.  
Asmodeous shouts over to Lasandir, “You wish to take Nessus?  Then come, come brave fool, to your death.  I am your maker and I shall unmake you.  Those who defy me will fall, I though you knew this?  Many have revolted against me, and all of them have fallen.”  He laughs darkly once more and in response Lasandir raises his sword high into the air, the colors of blue and white contrasting heavily with the red and black plaguing the land in which he stands.
Lasandir yells his war cry, the ground shuddering around him, sounding like the scream of a myriad of souls.  Lasandir’s form disappears as he begins to swing his sword downwards, and it falls upon an unsuspected demon, freeing him of his arm and soul.  And with that came such a war that had never been seen before.  The great forces of Asmodeous clashed with that of Lasandir.  Lasandir’s army is fewer in numbers, but much greater in power.  And so the forces were just about equal.  Thraxx’yllva had betrayed him, and he would be avenged.  After an entire day of fighting Lasandir’s forces still surge forth.  With a final sweep of his blade he left a demon falling to the ground as he blinked out of view only to be found in his keep away from the battle.  He rests his sword against a wall and sits, deep in thought, as the battle rages on.  The next day Lasandir fought again, and they next day, and the next day…

An entire millennia of fighting was coming to a close, and nearly all of Asmodeous’ forces had been eliminated to the surprise of all.  Lasandir approached Nessus, only Asmodeous and Thraxx’yllva blocking the entrance.  The rest of the arch-devils had been sent to their keep.  Asmodeous speaks to Thraxx’yllva in a strong but waning voice, he was not as confident as usual, “Thraxx’yllva, as proof of your loyalty to me, Lasandir, the one a once viewed a powerful.”  In the blink of an eye the Nelintir and the Sentrallion were drawn simultaneously.  The two charged at each other, their blades contacting and being blown backward by the force.  They stood their, swords clashing at a speed hard for their own eyes to keep up with.  Thraxx’yllva slashes downward and Lasandir jumps over it, coming down upon Thraxx’yllva with a vertical slash.  He brings his blade up to parry it and Lasandir’s feet drag across the ground from the force, but he still stands.  Lasandir throws his blade up into the air and jumps high into the air, following it.  Wings of pure black burst from his armor, the armor making way for the twenty foot wing span.  He beats the wings to keep steady in the air as he chants, “Confutatis sanato, vulnere cicatrix manet,” over and over again.  Wings of white burst forth from Thraxx’yllva’s back, making him look much like the demon his is.  He flies towards Lasandir, and Lasandir’s sword meets him in midair as he controls it.  Lasandir continues to weave his spell, his arms making intricate patterns, as he controls his blade to defend himself against Thraxx’yllva.  His arms pulse with a red hue as he points his palms at each other, continuing his chant.  A small ball of gray forms there, great power emanating from it.  
As Thraxx’yllva fends off the blade he shouts, “You cowardly fool!  Fight with your sword, not words!”  From the ball four beams separate, moving in different directions.  One moves below Thraxx’yllva, one above, and one on both sides.  He looks around at the beams and he hesitates, the Sentrallion slicing off his off-hand with a swift slash.  He screams in pain which he quickly overcomes.  The hand begins to regenerate immediately and he sheaths his blade.  The Sentrallion returns to Lasandir’s hand just as the four beams around Thraxx’yllva shoot inwards.  He flies backward out of the way and the spell fizzles. 
 Thraxx’yllva cackles as he shouts some spell unknown to Lasandir, a beam of red shooting from his upturned palm.  Lasandir flies to the left but the spell tears through his left wing.  He falls to the ground as his wings recede and his body bounces as it hits the ground.  He stands up quickly, not affected to heavily from the fall but more from the loss of his wing.  He stretches his back as Thraxx’yllva flies to the ground, drawing his sword once more as his wings recede into his back as well.  He slashes at Lasandir and he parries it.  Their blades are locked, and in between the V they make at the top they stare at each other, both grinning despite their pain.  Lasandir says, “We shall fight without our blades, or this may go on for another millennia.
Thraxx’yllva replies, “Agreed,” and he sheaths his weapon, stepping back.  Lasandir follows suit, and after a few more moments of staring Lasandir charges him as he begins to weave a spell.  He completes it just before Lasandir reaches him, and a green flame erupts from under Lasandir.  The flame nearly burns him, but his form disappears only to be found behind Thraxx’yllva.  He punches him in the back, making it arch.  Lasandir brings his elbow down upon Thraxx’yllva’s face, making him fall flat to his back, making an imprint in the ground.  He pushes up with his legs and one of his feet strikes Lasandir in the face, making him take a step backwards as Thraxx’yllva stands.  Lasandir swings his towards the side of Thraxx’yllva’s head, who blocks it and sweeps his own leg at the one Lasandir stands on.  Lasandir falls towards his back and Thraxx’yllva brings his foot down towards his chest, which Lasandir catches with his hands, thrusting it up and away from himself.  Thraxx’yllva is knocked off balance and Lasandir comes off the ground quickly, punching Thraxx’yllva in the ribs.  A horrible crunching sound fills the air followed by a yelp of pain.  
The on looking Asmodeous winces as if he felt the pain himself.  Then Lasandir kneels down, grabbing Thraxx’yllva by the throat and picking him up into the air.  Thraxx’yllva had no look of pain or panic on his face, but rather a grin.  Asmodeous was reflected in his eyes, raising his hand towards Lasandir.  Lasandir feels a crippling pain course through his back and spread throughout his body and he drops Thraxx’yllva, who quickly recomposes himself.  He looks down at Lasandir with a wide grin, Lasandir returning it.  Thraxx’yllva says, “Why do you look so happy when you know you are defeated?”
Lasandir begins to cackle insanely as he had done during his first battle, but this was much more hideous.  He says, still laughing, “That spell I cast earlier wasn’t just four beams of light, that was simply a diversion!”  Another burst of laughter escapes his lips as Thraxx’yllva’s blood changes into flame.  His body crumples to the ground and Asmodeous stands, dousing the flames and saving Thraxx’yllva just before he dies.
Asmodeous walks up to the crippled Lasandir and points a finger at him, “Never return to Hell unless you wish to meet your own death.  You have defeated Thraxx’yllva and I will not kill you like this, even evil gods have honor.”  Lasandir’s body is engulfed in pain and agony, his form leaving Hell to the Material Plane, the Sentrallion’s hilt gripped tightly in his hand.  Asmodeous had sent his sword with him.  He was banished; pain that he never knew could exist flowing through his body.  Death would have been a release from this, but for some reason he could not die.  His thoughts are dominated with revenge and loathing.
He seems to be in pain for eternity until soft grass graces the back of his neck, and he opens his eyes to the Material Plane all around him…


Reforming a Devil
And a Strange Party

Lasandir stands up, finding himself deep within a forest.  He didn’t know this plane too well.  His body still felt very weak with pain.  A strange feeling hung over the forest, mist licking his armored feet.  He picks up the Sentrallion which is lying on the ground beside him, and puts it on the strap on his back.  His eyes burst into flame as a creature comes into view.  It is very quick, taking cover behind trees.  Lasandir refrains from drawing the Sentrallion but simply watches as the figure draws closer.
It moved like the wind through planes, barely making a sound.  Lasandir’s eyes followed it closely, seeing its features.  It was wielding an impressive bows, chasings of mithril upon it, runes lining it.  An arrow was set upon the string, its shaft covered in runes similar to those on the bow.  Lasandir arches a brow as it stops moving, crouching upon the branch of a tree and aiming his bow down towards Lasandir.  He has long, pointed ears, his body has a strong build and he has dark green hair, matching his eyes.  He lets loose the string and Lasandir catches the arrow, and he says calmly, “I am neither in the mood nor the condition to fight.  Do not test me.  Why have you attacked me, I have done no wrong.”
The creature replies, “It was a test,” he says with a light laugh, “Those unable to pass it aren’t worth my time!”  He studies Lasandir for a few seconds and continues, “You don’t look or feel like the other humans I’ve seen before… By the way, the name is Keel’dak, Deep Wood Sniper and Defender of the Trees. An elf,” he says to the confused look upon Lasandir’s scarred face.  “If you come here to harm this forest or any others, then I suggest you make leaving you first priority!”  He grins and jumps from the branch, landing gracefully in front of Lasandir and giving him a penetrating stare.                                                                          	Lasandir looks down at himself.  He still wears his armor, but as he looks down and feels his forehead, he realizes he is in the form of a man.  He also didn’t feel as much hate towards everything as he did as a demon.  He looks up to Keel’dak and replies, “Lasandir,” in a voice, he now realizes, much different from his own.  He still had the powers and traits of a demon, he could feel it, but he looked much different other than his long hair and his muscular build.  He felt much weaker, however, and it would take a long time for him to reach his former power again.  He does not tell this stranger of whom he is and what he has done.  
Keel’dak bows to him and says, “Well, come with me if you wish.  I have some friends you might like to meet!”  He finishes as he runs past the trees, his voice trailing off.  This elf had peaked Lasandir’s curiosity, so he follows at the same pace.  The elf leads him to the eaves of the forest and towards a city in the distance.
Lasandir catches up with the elf, who says to him, “I was out here hunting, but I decided to stop since I found you.”  He grins a bit as he looks over to him.  “We’re headed for a town called Dintrayna.  It’s a bit lively for my liking, but my friends are staying there.”  The elf spoke as if he had known Lasandir for his entire life.  He spoke with a light voice, uncaring of what was around him.  He forms a great curiosity for these, and he wishes to know more.
They arrive at the town, pausing at the limits as a guard stepped through the gates.  He says, “Hail Keel’dak! Who’s the stranger?”  The guard’s eyes widen as he looks to the hilt of the enormous sword upon Lasandir’s back.  He puts a hand on the hilt of his sword, but it was only precautionary, so Lasandir merely narrows his eyes in response.  
Keel’dak replies, “’Tis a friend!  Fear not Hallan, there is no need to peace bond his sword, though I doubt you would have enough leather in al of Dintrayna to cover it.”  He laughs a bit, leaving the wide-eyed guard behind him and Lasandir follows him, taking notice that Keel’dak already considered him a “friend.”  They arrive at an inn, a sign swinging slightly in the wind above the door reading, “The Sojourner’s Respite.”  Keel’dak led him in, no one surprised to a General of Re’talia in this form.  A few looked over to the elf and his companion, but after a few seconds they continued their idle chat.  Keel’dak was obviously a common sight here.  
The tavern smells heavily of ale and the odors drifting from the inhabitants.  Lasandir doesn’t seem to mind the smell, but Keel’dak has a look of disgust on his face, and says, “This place is so rank; I wish to leave here as soon as possible!”  The tavern seemed welcoming in some ways but it is rather dilapidated.  Fine oak chairs and tables fill the wooden floor, chattering people of many races sitting in the chairs.  A rather disgruntled-looking dwarf stands from his seat swings his large tankard across the face of a human who was standing next to him, and says, “Argh! Damn humans…”  He mumbles to himself quietly.  The barkeep didn’t seem to mind the outburst, paying no mind to the human lying upon the floor.  He cleans a shot glass with a small rag, the old bar top covered in stains and cobwebs hang between some of the various ales and wines, but only the weaker ones.  The barkeep chuckles as he talks to himself, placing the shot glass next to the others he had cleaned.  The overall appearance of the tavern wasn’t bad, but the inhabitants were much worse.  They were all dirty and not properly bathed, shouting at each other over the fog of smoke hanging about the air, occasional bursts of laughter filling the room.
Keel’dak says, “Ah! Here are my friends; hopefully we will be taking our leave.”  Lasandir looks over to the stairs, three people coming down them.  One is a dwarf, weathered from battled, one is a human wearing shining armor, obviously a Paladin, which Lasandir used to battle against in Hell, and the last is another dwarf, not as brute as the first.  They approach and Keel’dak bows to them, saying, “I’d like you to meet my new friend, Lasandir.  Lasandir, this is Ollum Mithrilrasp, Rommos, and Towdok Ironheart.”  He leans over to them and whispers, “I think he might be able to help us with our… problem.”  Lasandir raises a brow, hearing him easily.  The three stare at him blankly, and then Rommos says, “You don’t feel like a human to me.  Who… or what are you?”
Ollum is a dwarf who obviously doesn’t care for his looks.  He carries many javelins, a glowing mithril warhammer, and a double-headed war axe, large dwarven runes of green upon the blade and shaft.  A thin silver necklace bearing the teeth of many he has slain is around his neck and he wears gloves, boots, and a shirt of wyvern hide.  Claws extend from the gloves, glowing faintly with the color of red.  He bears a grimace, looking over Lasandir with a slight sort of disgust as if he is nothing to him.
Rommos is obviously a Paladin.  His face handsome, muscles strong, solid eyes staring with narrowed eyes full of skepticism.  He has a powerful bow as well as a glowing long sword, the Shatterspike.  He holds a proud air about him head up slightly, just and pure thoughts blocking out the vile and dark.
Towdok continues to look at him with interest, stroking his beard.  He is deep in thought, interested in every inch of Lasandir.  He carries no visible weapons but a pouch hangs from his belt and he looks as though he could take a beating when needed.  Obviously a wizard of decent skill, he finds it strange to not know of the materials that make up Lasandir’s equipment. 
Lasandir replies, “And a fine day to you as well.  I am Lasandir. That is all you need to know, for now at least.”  Towdok moves over to him and begins to poke his armor, obviously greatly interested by it, and then he moves around to his back and runs a finger along his blade, saying, “His equipment is of materials I have never seen before.  Certainly not from this plane!” as he strokes his beard.  Lasandir turns to leave, obviously annoyed by the group, Ollum muttering, “Good riddance, I don’t need anyone else stealing my kills!”
Keel’dak follows behind him quickly and says, “No wait!  We need your help.  If you help us we will split our shares with you!  The rewards will be quite handsome plus there will be what we get on the journey.”  Lasandir turns and replies, “I don’t need money.”  He turns again and continues to leave, but Keel’dak persists, “Well then you need companionship don’t you!?”
Lasandir stops, thinking hard.  After a few moments he says, “Alright then, I shall accompany you.  I suggest that you do not annoy me, however, for I will leave without looking back.”  He was not sure he could handle what was out there quite yet, and he needed some way to get back his former power.  He could easily bend the will of these four into assisting him in this aspect.  Ollum shakes his head, Rommos crossing his arms across his chest, a wide grin playing along both Towdok’s and Keel’dak’s faces.
Towdok breaks the silence by exclaiming, “Well let us be off then!”  And with that they go to the stables, drawing from it two carts drawn by horses.  Lasandir, mind set on stealing souls, get into the back of one of the carts.  Keel’dak and Towdok lead his cart, Rommos and Ollum upon the other.  They make their way out of Dintrayna, passing many people and shops.  Most of the people are dressed in gaudy attire.  This town was obviously high brow, and was sure to have many inns of a higher quality than The Sojourner’s Respite.  The shops were stocked with many magical items, buildings large and small.  In one of the stores there is a wide variety of caged animals, exotic and native.  Some are general stores, overpriced but carrying anything a traveler would need.  As they head towards the outskirts of Dintrayna Keel’dak and Towdok question Lasandir.  
Ollum didn’t seem to prefer riding with Rommos, but was forced to for he did not trust Lasandir yet. Keel’dak turns to Lasandir and says, “So, where are you from?  And why were you in the forest, were you lost?”  He replies, “I am from… Ginapha.  It’s not on this plane though, so you wouldn’t know of it.  I was in the forest because I was traveling.  I wasn’t lost though; one who has nowhere to go cannot be lost.”
Keel’dak raises a brow at the hesitation of Lasandir telling him his hometown, but shrugs it off and turns forward again as they exit the town.  The cart on which Ollum and Rommos ride in is in front, and Keel’dak waves to the guard as they leave on the opposite side of town that he entered with Lasandir.  They plains slowly turn into a hilly terrain, a soft breeze playing across their faces.  The grass rolls like so many hairs upon the hills that are heads.  The horses travel at a slow speed, the breeze seeming to make them lazy.
Keel’dak turns again and says, “We’re heading to an ogre encampment in a network of caves.  They’ve been terrorizing the land, taking prisoners and such.  Towdok believes that some powerful mage is leading them.  He resides at the base of the Kintarl Mountains, which aren’t too far now.”  Even as he spoke the summit of a great mountain came into view, the high sun hitting it and giving the peak a hint of orange.  The view of the small mountain range was overpowered by the single one in the middle, seeming to await something ominously.  The carts near the mountain and both Ollum and Towdok’s face are brightened by a smile, the smile not improving Ollum that much.  They reach the base of the mountain just as the sun hides behind the enormous foundations.
Towdok exclaims, “So we have come to Mount Kendalo.  The network of caves beneath expands far and wide, their web reaching out past the base of the mountains.  The true area they cover has yet to be fathomed, for since the dwarves of the Gray Skull clan many a creature has infested the caves.  Nobody is completely sure why the Gray Skull left or died off so we must choose our path carefully.  Step warily in the Cave Sea of the Kintarl Mountains!”
The party jumps from the carts, tying the horses to a large boulder near the mouth of the caves.  The mouth has been carved and rounded, an arc of intricate design on its perimeter.  Upon the arc are runes in old Dwarven runes that, according to Towdok, read,

May those who enter here be grateful
Thou may rest here and not be fretful
But if thou comes with intention to harm
Then thou shalt be greeted with alarm
For here resides the Gray Skull Clan
Far and wide our deep caves span
So if thine heart be black and evil
The caves will strike back like a whirling devil
For many have our caves trapped
In the web of rock and darkness they are wrapped

Ollum and Rommos enter first, Ollum is eager for blood. The other three stay close behind them. Keel’dak looks over to Lasandir and whispers, “I suggest you take this, you may not be able to swing that sword of yours in the narrow caves.” He pulls a composite bow of high quality from his back, mundane but effective, and offers it to Lasandir. Lasandir takes it from him as well as a quiver of bows. Keel’dak draws his own bow at the same time the rest of the party draws their own weapons. Blades, axes, and arrows fly from their holding places, wielded skillfully. The five of them enter the caves, their glowing blades lighting the way.
A sound comes from up ahead, echoing off of the walls time and time again. It was mostly quiet, but an occasional sound came from up ahead, heard over the footsteps of the party. They take many turns, staying to the main path rather than branching off into the many other paths. The sounds come nearer and they come around a final bend, a large hollow area coming into view. Many pools of water reflect the ceiling like a mirror. Jagged stalactites protrude from the roof. An occasional drop of water falls from those spikes, shattering the perfect images and sending ripples through the stagnant water. The ceiling rises almost out of sight.
The smell of the cave is rank, for many tents cover the cave floor, full of foul ogres. Leave it to ogres to set up tents in a cave. All of the ogres now slept, but restlessly. They turn their enormous bodies from time to time, loud crashes echoing throughout the caves. Ogres were not much of a problem, especially when sleeping. However, if there truly was a mage leading them he would surely be powerful. The ogres defiled the caves beauty, a look of pure loathing coming along Ollum’s face. Keel’dak rests a hand on his shoulder to prevent him from charging.
They all turn to Towdok, who shows them a plan with his fingers upon the ground. When he finishes each of them take a different tent, Towdok going with Ollum. Rommos stays behind, refusing to attack the ogres in their sleep. He knew better than to resist, however; it would be no good to argue in an ogre encampment. A dull thud comes quietly from each tent, twice in some, as heads fall from the bodies of the ogres. As they all leave their tents a horn is blown, echoing throughout the cave like a large, dying animal. The entire encampment rises from its slumber, ogres running from tents, weapons drawn. The one with the horn was obviously sitting watch, half asleep. Ollum looks to Keel’dak and shouts, “Why did you not tell us there was a guard?”
Just as one of his magical arrows fly and imbeds itself in the eye of an ogre he retreats to the opening of the hollow, shouting back, “I would have if I had seen him!” A large ogre brings a heavy mace into Keel’dak’s stomach, who recoils. The ogre falls to his knees as a grinning Towdok sends lightning coursing throughout its body from his fingers. Keel’dak recomposes himself and motions Lasandir to him after waving his thanks to Towdok. Lasandir comes, bow in hand, and kneels next to Keel’dak. Keel’dak speaks as he locks an arrow into the string of his bow and draws it, “You know how to use a bo-,” he cuts off as an arrow flies into the eye of an ogre, another flying into the neck of an ogre. With a grin Keel’dak follows suit and begins firing his own bow.
A sword clashes hard against Ollum’s armor, who, instead of flinching, roars with rage as his eyes become bloodshot. He shakes his head violently as he begins to foam at the mouth. He raises his axe and takes off one of the ogres arms. He then buries the axe in the ogre’s side and it falls as he hefts the axe from the ogre’s body. He turns to another ogre and plants the sharp edge deep within its brain, blood covering him and his axe.
Towdok defends himself very well. Spells fly from him in all directions, decimating the ogres around him. A large sphere of flame sears both tent and skin, bouncing off of the walls and flying through the air in correspondence with every one of Towdok’s hand movements. An ogre comes very close to bashing his head with a morning star, only to be felled by the Shatterspike. The sword is thrust into his back and he slowly slides off of it, no scream escaping him. Rommos removes his sword by placing a foot on its back and pulling at the hilt. As it comes from his back Rommos uses the momentum to swing the blade into the axe of an ogre. The axe shatters, leaving the ogres hands empty as he looks down at the shards falling to the ground. His last sight was blood falling upon his empty hands.
Lasandir places the bow upon his back and in the blink of an eye he draws his sword. At this strength it was but a normal sword. He could not use his powers with it yet, so he charges in, thrusting the sword into an ogre chest. A nearby ogre smashes its morning star into his shoulder. He feels a piercing pain he never knew could come from a simple attack. He was still immortal of age, but he could die like any other mortal. This thought gave him a surge of anger. He removes one hand from the hilt of the sword and jumps up so that his face becomes level with the ogre’s. He thrusts his arm out towards it and grabs its head. He pulls it downwards as his feet touch the ground again and he brings its head down onto the ground. Its skull shatter beneath his palm, blood staining the ground as its soul enters him.
Ollum looking over at him (with his axe buried deep within the side of an ogre) and a look of astonishment dominates his face. Lasandir is stronger than Ollum first thought, but he does not notice that Lasandir steals the soul. The battle is soon over, Lasandir stealing souls in an inconspicuous way. The many slain ogre bodies were only a small fraction of the creatures within the Cave Sea.
Ollum looks over to Lasandir, a bright look upon his face. He exclaims, “Excellent fighting Lasandir! You don’t look much like a fighter.” He had calmed down much since he came down from his rage, but large beads of sweat fall down his face and his breath comes in harsh rasps. They all were breathing hard, including Lasandir. This is the first time Lasandir experienced fatigue. The feeling is strange to him but it seems proper in this form. From that point on Ollum was much warmer towards Lasandir, possibly even more so than Keel’dak. Rommos continues still to distrust him completely; he could feel the evil presence in every inch of him.
They continued on through the cave. Eyes stare out at them from dark places. Occasionally and orc or goblin would approach them. One of them however, was the victim of one of Towdok’s spells. It falls into a deep slumber only to find himself tied up in rope when he awakes. Towdok speaks fluently to the goblin in its own tongue. It speaks in a panicked voice. When it finishes Towdok looks up and says, “This goblin has some useful information. It turns out that there is a wizard attempting to control the caves. His name is Houranies. It’s strange; I’ve never heard the name before…” Towdok trails off, muttering to himself.
Lasandir’s eyes widen. He thinks of Houranies, the weakest of the six. Had Asmodeous cast him from Hell as well for failure, or had he sent him here on some mission? Lasandir narrows his eyes. He would kill the arch-devil Houranies, bringing him a bit closer to his former strength. Houranies is still very strong, but certainly not enough to resist Lasandir, or so he hopes. He continues without mentioning anything to the others.
As they move through the dank caves a tumult of clicking comes from up ahead. As they move on the sound comes closer. They draw their weapons silently, Ollum’s eyes full of eagerness. His axe seems to reflect his anxious mood. A feeling of death emanates from the axe. Rommos continues with a determined look and Towdok has his hands up in front of himself, ready to cast a spell. Keel’dak pulls one of his many arrows back on his bow as he looks ahead with concentration for whatever was to meet them.
They enter another large room, or at least it appears so considering that the walls to the sides of the door make sharp turns. An enormous spider web fills most of the room. The party’s glowing weapons light up the web some but it is too dense to see through very far. The clicking echoes throughout the room and they remain silent, unmoving. Keel’dak squints his eyes and looks up at the web. Deep within the web he sees eight enormous orbs looking back at him, all very close together. Then another set of the enormous eyes comes into view. Pincers dripping with some poisonous substance dripped from them, there was some small light source on the other side of the web, but almost the entire room was filled with it.
Keel’dak raises his bow and lets fly the arrow. It soars true and one of those orbs spouts blood. The clicking speeds up very rapidly and a small sound like a muted scream comes from the creature. Towdok looks over to Keel’dak and yells in a panicked voice, “What are you do-!?” Before he finishes his sentence an enormous hairy leg shoots out from the web. The spiked tip catches him in the shoulder as he whirls around, picking him up off of the ground. Rommos chops at the leg but misses and Towdok is withdrawn from sight, blood the only trace left of him.
At once the party is plunged into turmoil and confusion. The loss of Towdok was the loss of the legs of the party. He supported them and led them to where they needed to go without fail. Rommos begins cutting through the webs, looking for the foes. Ollum looks around wildly and his eyes become bloodshot as he hacks off a hairy leg, foam seething from his mouth. A large creature falls from the web into the area near the entrance to the room. One of its eight legs is half gone. Even as it screams faintly Lasandir runs towards it. He slides on his back, sword drawn, to underneath the enormous spider. It raises its head in pain and surprise, the clinking of its pincers stopping as Lasandir stands, sword driving up through the soft underbelly.
He finds himself within the fleshy innards. Poison sacs rupture and threaten to taint Lasandir, but he has immunity to simpler poisons. He slices his way out of the spider, its corpse falling away from him. Some of its legs continue to twitch. Lasandir does not seem to mind the blood and poison covering him. They cut their way through the web, Ollum holding Lasandir with an even higher respect. A muffled cry comes from a high corner in the room. A spider much larger than the one they just killed comes into view, staring down at them from its corner about twenty feet above them. Many more eyes pop into view. Much smaller than the huge spider’s eyes thought they are, they are still about the size of a human’s eyes. Fifteen spiders about the size of a human’s torso head towards them, dark eyes reflecting the light of their glowing weapons. They jump down towards the party. Most of them are split in half. One, however, grabs onto Ollum’s arm and, holding itself there with powerful legs, sinks its fangs deep into his skin.
Rommos quickly hacks off the spider just as another spider lands on Keel’dak. Keel’dak quickly grabs it, tearing its long legs from his skin. Deep wounds are left by it, but he does not seem to notice. His foot crushes the spider’s body as he digs his heel into it. He nearly retches at the sound of it beneath his foot. He does not have time to be disgusted, however. He narrowly avoids being impaled by a long leg. Ollum’s axe swings down, barely missing the leg. The swhoosh left in the wake of his axe is quickly followed by the sound of it clanging against hard rock. The enormous spider jumps down from the web to the bare wooden floor, its legs clicking upon the ground. It is twice as tall as a man and thrice as long as a man is tall.
With amazing speed and agility it moves towards Keel’dak, who nimbly avoids its rush. The spider turns quickly as Keel’dak puts away his bow and draws his knife. He jumps onto the spider’s back and digs his knife deep into it, past the hard exterior. He holds onto the knife with both hands, stabilizing himself as the spider rears and moves frantically, trying to shake him off. Both Ollum and Lasandir use this distraction to slice off four of the spider’s eight legs while Rommos attempts to get Towdok down from the ceiling above. The enormous creature falls to the ground just before it flings Keel’dak from his back. Keel’dak flies towards the wall, his shoulder hitting it with a sickening crunch. He slides down to the ground, eyes closed. Rommos rushes over to him and Lasandir goes to the wall from which Towdok hangs.
Ollum leaves his rage. Fatigued, he slumps to the ground. More muffled cries come from the upper corner of the room. Towdok is wrapped from head to toe in the spider’s web. It sounded as though he was suffocating, but the spider had done a poor job on securing the victim with such haste. Lasandir sheaths the Sentrallion to his back and jumps up against the wall. He repels off of the wall and then off of another and he reaches Towdok’s imprisoned body in two seconds. He grabs the form under his arm and the webbing gives way. They fall towards the ground and Lasandir lands gracefully. He rests Towdok’s form on the ground and he draws the Sentrallion. He jumps back and swings it at a great speed, leaving the rest of the part with the thought that he kills him. The webbing falls away, revealing Towdok, quaking with fear.
Towdok stands slowly and with a rushed bow he thanks him. He sits down against the wall and with a shaky voice he says, “Per-perhaps we should h-have a r-r-rest.” They all nod and Rommos lays his hands on Keel’dak’s wound. It heals somewhat and then he speaks quietly and a white light fills his hands. It leaves his hand and covers the wounds, which now heals completely. Keel’dak blinks a few times and Rommos says, “Rest now.” He stands and turns away from Keel’dak and says, “I will take the first watch. We should rest for only a few two hours at the most, even one hour is risky down here.”
Lasandir nods in agreement and says, “And I will take the second watch.” Thoughts of slaughtering the entire party enter his mind. Their souls would be strong. He thinks better of himself. Perhaps it is too soon to take actions so rash. He would bide his time and see how things turn out, then decide.
Nothing comes about in the first hour of rest and once Lasandir is sure Rommos is asleep, he quietly steals the souls of all the dead spiders lying around. Lasandir’s watch is uneventful, thoughts of killing them buried in the back of his mind, but ever haunting.

Death and Friendship

The party awakes, all still slightly shaken except for Lasandir and Ollum; neither of whom were hurt.  After a bit of stretching they all stand, looking around the room slowly.  The remaining webs had disappears and Lasandir could not confirm when or why this happened.  The pay no mind to it and draw their weapons.  Even though the room was absent of danger the Cave Sea was an even dangerous place.  
Ollum straps the axe to his waste and draws the mithril warhammer, the weapon’s light illuminating the walls.  Rommos sheaths the Shatterspike to everyone’s surprise who notices, for it is a powerful weapon.  He draws his powerful long bow and locks and arrow into the string but not drawing it back.  He closes his eyes for a few seconds and motions for them to stop.  A look of concentration comes over his face for a few seconds and then he says in a serious voice, “Great evil lies ahead.  I don’t believe it is a creature of this plane.”
Towdok narrows his eyes and unties his spell component’s pouch, taking from it a small orange feather and a hide of reddish hue.  As they continue they notice large skeletons lining the walls, which them immediately identify as ogre skeletons; even Ollum could tell.  They see a dark room ahead, the light of their weapons not affecting the darkness.  They all stop at the edge of a solid wall of black.  Ollum says in an annoyed voice, “Move!  I’ll handle this.”  Lasandir grabs his shoulder and Ollum turns to him, “What are ye doin’!?  I get first dibs on whatever’s in there.”  
Lasandir says in a calm voice, “It is a trap…  I’ll go in first.”  He has a determined look on his face.  He did not tell the others he could see through the magical darkness.  Within the room is Houranies, hidden by not only the darkness but by magic as well.
Ollum replies, now more annoyed than ever, “And how would ye know tha’?  I said I’m goin’ in first, and tha’s what I’ll do!”  Lasandir shakes his head in disagreement and walks forward into the darkness.  His body disappears completely from sight and as he enters he creates a wall of force, blocking the other from entering.  They discover this when Ollum falls back after attempting to charge after him.  He beings to slam his hammer on the invisible wall but to no avail.  Towdok calms him by saying, “Don’t worry.  If he dies you don’t take any risk and you get to slaughter even more.”
On the other side of the wall Lasandir observes a grand room.  Pillars support the room, the enormous columns eight feet in width.  They are covered in intricate designs.  They depict dragons and scenes of battles, like huge stone tapestries.  The floor is made of flagstones, but in the center of the room a large circle resides.  The circle is a great wyrm, spiraling inwards to the figure that stands upon its head, large eyes of the wyrm consisting of precious stones glowing brightly.  (They are actually a mixture of many different gems melded together with skilled alchemy.)
The darkness falls away and a pain rushes through Lasandir’s body.  A light flashes from the eyes of the wyrm, affecting him with some powerful enchantment.  Many creatures would die instantly, but Lasandir recovers quickly.  The others look at him from behind the wall of force and lay eyes on the figure in the center.
Houranies stands in the center, many spikes covering his head.  Narrowed eyes and a grin cover his face.  He studies Lasandir and says, “Well mortal, prepare to meet thy doom.  You shall fall in the name of Asmodeous!”  Houranies had not yet recognized Lasandir for who he was.
Lasandir then speaks in an ancient daemonic language, not even Towdok able to comprehend it.  He says, “Houranies, it has been a while.  Don’t you remember me?”  He grins at the arch-devil, his face disfigured by his scars making it look more like to a grimace.  He draws the Sentrallion and Houranies jaw drops, eyes widening.
Houranies exclaims in a panicked voice, “L-Lasandir!?  You haven’t been seen or heard from in three millennia!”  It dawns on Lasandir as Houranies speaks that when Asmodeous banished him he must have been in pain much longer than he thought.  It seemed only a few days since he was banished.  Houranies puts on a fake brave voice, “I will vanquish thee nonetheless!  Come, Lasandir!  I will be greatly rewarded for getting rid of-.”
He is cut off.  He raises the Holocaust just in time to parry the Sentrallion.  The Sentrallion bears down upon Houranies, Lasandir standing in the same place he was before, hands at his sides, still grinning.  He jumps into the air as heat rushes through his feet.  He looks down at where he stood.  Flames conjured by Houranies were left there.  He lands gracefully behind Houranies and the Sentrallion blinks into his hands.  He swings it horizontally at Houranies neck.  Houranies ducks and falls purposefully to his back.  He closes his legs and rolls to the side, catching Lasandir off guard.  Lasandir’s legs are trapped between Houranies’ and he falls to the ground, his face impacting it at a high speed.
Lasandir speaks calmly, voice muffled by the ground, “You’ve become much stronger Houranies.  But not strong enough.”  With a short laugh he pushes his legs down towards the ground.  A snapping noise resounds throughout the room, Houranies’ leg cracking under the pressure.  His armor reforms into its normal shape and Lasandir jumps out from his legs, Houranies screaming in pain.  He stands slowly, putting most of his weight on his uninjured right leg.  He yells, “Fool!” and charges him, blade raised.  He swipes it down towards Lasandir who jumps out of the way.  As Houranies passes Lasandir brings the side of his hand down onto the back of his neck.  Houranies falls to the ground, his neck almost broken by Lasandir’s chop.
Houranies breathing hastens and his body begins to shake violently.  He stands slowly and turns to Lasandir.  Pure rage and loathing fills his eyes as they burst into flame.  He jumps back far from Lasandir and his body takes its true form.  His body grows to twice its original size and red scales cover him.  The Holocaust doubles in size as well, the flames becoming much hotter.  His features remain humanoid but he has the head of a dragon.  The menacing head looks down to Lasandir and he speaks in the same daemonic language, “You’re far too weak since you were banished.  Take THIS!”  From Houranies’ maw a great fireball emerges, heading towards Lasandir.  Lasandir jumps from the ground towards one of the great pillars.  
As his feet contact it he pushes off.  He jumps from pillar to pillar, crossing Houranies many times.  With each passing he slashes, leaving another wound through the red scales.  Houranies swipes at him furiously, too slow in this form.  Lasandir then falls to the ground and stands directly in front of Houranies.  Houranies takes this chance to thrust the now ten-foot blade down towards Lasandir.  Houranies tries to hold back the blade as he sees Lasandir grinning at him.  As soon as the blade enters Lasandir’s body he winces in pain, but not so much as Houranies, who falls to the ground.  Houranies falls backwards, the blade withdrawing from Lasandir.  Very little of the blade entered Lasandir, for he had warped the space around him.  Houranies stabbed himself in the back, fallen to his own blade.  Lasandir falls to the grounds in pain.  A large gash surround by burn marks could be seen vertically down his torso.  Houranies form slowly returns to normal, lying still upon its back.  The force wall disappears and the other four rush in.  Rommos stands over Lasandir, not bending to heal him.  Towdok looks at him with a face full of confusion.  He yells, “What are you doing!?  Heal him!”
Rommos looks over to Towdok and says, “Perhaps it is better this way.  I could tell from when I first met him that Lasandir is evil.  A demon, just like the one he has slain.”  He looks down at Lasandir’s unconscious form.  Towdok pushes him out of the way and withdraws a potion from his robes.  He opens Lasandir’s mouth and pours the substance down Lasandir’s throat.  
The cut begins to heal immediately and Towdok says, “That was our last potion of that strength!  You mustn’t that he risked his life for our safety.”  Lasandir sits up slowly, eyes wide and mouth opened in a soundless scream.  Houranies, body covered in purple blood, charges towards Lasandir.  “I’ll take you with me!”  Houranies stops in his tracks, blood pouring from his mouth.  Ollum had swung his warhammer so hard that not only was Houranies’ armor broken but his skin as well.  Lasandir breaths normally again and says, “Thank you.”  He was shocked by his own words.  They had never before escaped his lips.  From that point on he never again thought of attacking his companions.  He did not know Rommos refused to help him so he respected him just as much.  Rommos, however, had a look of disgust upon his face. His blade is sheathed, arms crossed.
Lasandir’s armor slowly closes over where the wound used to be.  The potion revived him completely.  The others did not seeming to find his thankfulness strange for Towdok had already wobbled off to look around the enormous room, intrigued by the designs and structure, Keel’dak began looking over Houranies body.  Ollum rests against a pillar, leaning his warhammer up against it next to himself.
Just as Keel’dak picks up the Holocaust Lasandir stands.  Keel’dak raises and eyebrow as the Holocaust and Houranies’ body dissolve into a white mist.  Only the arch-devil’s head remains.  The mist enters Lasandir.  Lasandir’s muscles ripple and his body seizes up.  He arches his back as his legs and arms stiffen.  Heat rushes through the body as he gains all of Houranies’ memories and his control over fire.  One down, four to go before he could get back at Asmodeous.
Keel’dak looks up to Lasandir and says, “It will be interesting to have a demon traveling with us.  You are coming with us, right?”  He walks over to Lasandir, “We’ll just have to make sure no one know you’re a demon.”  He grins a bit, and continues, “I don’t think Rommos will take the addition to well, but he will stay with us unlike most paladins.  He follows his own rules.  I cannot guarantee he’ll ever find a liking for you…”
Lasandir ignores Keel’dak for the time being.  He walks over to the head of Houranies and picks it up with one hand.  He says an inaudible word and the flesh melts away.  He takes off the face of the skull and fits it to his face.  The bone warps to fit perfectly on his face, meshing to his skin.  He takes it off again and begins to speak words in his demonic language.  With each word a rune of his language appears upon the mask.  He puts it on again and it hides the many scars disfiguring his face.  He looks over to Keel’dak and says, “I shall travel with you.  I do not know for how long or under what conditions, but I will.”  He feels himself drifting away from the evil that had plagued him for so many millennia.  Lasandir, former General of Hell, soul-stealing demon, joins an elf, two dwarves, and a human.

The party leaves the Cave Sea, many creatures controlled Houranies now free of his spell.  The come out to their horses and the carts and the settle themselves in.  Towdok announces to the party, “We should head back to Dintrayna.  They will most likely prepare a feast for us when we return!”  Their spirits are much higher than when they first set of from town.  Lasandir sits in the back of the cart, contemplating the events in the past few days.  He is less ignorant about his banishment.  He never knew that he had been writhing for so long before he woke up in that forest.
Lasandir blinks and looks around, they were back in Dintrayna, many happy people greeting them.  Ollum and Rommos seem to revel in the attention.  Towdok busies himself with a book and Keel’dak seems indifferent to the crowd.  He turns around to Lasandir, the only one of the party not doing anything.  He climbs from his horse into the cart and reaches into his garments.  He draws from it the two large gems in the great wyrm’s eyes.  Many different precious stones melted into one.  One could feel magic leaking from them.  The gems give off their own pulsing light.  Perfect ovals they seem.  
With a grin Keel’dak says, “I took these right before we left.  They don’t seem ordinary, so I want to know what they do.”  With a wink he tells Lasandir not to tell anyone else and he climbs back over onto his horse.  Lasandir crosses his arms and closes his eyes.  Those gems would probably cause more trouble then they are worth.
They near a large building, most of the crowd had died off by now, for they were not allowed near the Palace of Dintrayna.  It is quite grand, elegant towers and turrets point skywards high above.  Brick of white and roof of blue.  This part of town is much more prominent than the Sojourner’s Respite.  Lasandir wonders why, if they are so famous around the town, that they were staying in such a run-down tavern.  A messenger flanked by two guards runs out to the party and their carts.  The messenger is a small human, dwarfed by the guards around him.  The guards bear sheathed long swords and full plate mail.  They seem to feel powerful in their position as guards.  
The small messenger speaks in a high voice, squeaky and almost sounding scared, “Milady, Queen Faelina, sends her thanks and wishes you to spend the night in the palace, for tomorrow a feast will be held in your honor.”  He gives Lasandir a surprised look but continues, “May I take your horses and carts?  We hope that you will stay here with use this eve.”
The party dismounts from the carts and the horses, knowing the good service of the palace all too well.  They walk towards the enormous sky blue doors, many engravings upon the wood.  Keel’dak steps in front and knocks on the doors.  A sound of chains can be heard behind the doors as mechanics work furiously to open the doors.  The doors open smoothly on large stone hinges.  The other four were very accustomed to the opening hall but Lasandir is left with no previous knowledge of the place.  It is as grand on the inside as it is on the outside, but nothing compared to the fortress of Asmodeous.  Haunting visions of Asmodeous’ face flash through his mind as they continue.  Many pictures of previous Queens line the walls.  Towdok stays in the back with Lasandir.  He looks up to him and says, “Dintrayna is only a small town compared to the expansive kingdom of Queen Faelina.  It is called the Realm of Sythalia.  It stretches out of the control of the Queen so much of it is in turmoil.  No peasant steps foot in this palace without word from the Queen and all who work here are handpicked by the Queen herself.  She is very skilled with a sword and has waged many a war.  Do not underestimate her for her beauty.  The only reason she remains unscarred is thanks to her skill in battle.”

Lasandir soaks in all of this information as he looks to sculptures of some of the more respectable Queens in the past. The kingdom must have been here for very long to have so many predecessors. He replies to Towdok, “It is unwise to have so much unattended land. Many may come in unnoticed in envy of the land she bears. I do not feel good about this eve. I will have the Sentrallion at the ready.”
They come to the end of the entrance hall and find themselves in large room. Curtains hang from the ceilings and tapestries of war bedeck the walls. A great fire roars in the elaborate fireplace. Above the mantle hangs a great sword, reaching from one end of the mantle to the other. Lasandir finds himself unimpressed by the rooms in the castle thus far. A guard walks up to them, impressive mail shining brightly in the firelight. He says, “Please, follow me to the throne room. The Queen wishes to speak with you.” They follow the guard quietly up five flights of long stairs. Soon the come to a door at the end of a long corridor. The door is made of powerful metal. Many precious stones can be seen sticking out of the surface of the door. Upon it two sword with blades crossed are engraved. The guard opens the door slowly and a rush of clanging armor greets the party as all of the guards in the entrance hall turn towards the door.
The party moves in silently to see the Queen stands in front of her throne made completely of ruby and sapphire gemstones. The ruby on the throne looks to be on fire and the sapphire looks cold as ice. The queen’s eyes resemble the sapphire, but much warmer. She bears great beauty and wears an elegant gown of exquisite fabrics. A statue of one of the Queens resides in the middle of the throne room. It is obviously in honor of the first Queen of the kingdom. With a polite smile and a curtsey the Queen says, “Welcome brave warriors. Once again you have helped my kingdom and we are very grateful. The ogres have been coming from the Cave Sea for so long. And despite the fact that you found no survivors you still bring good tidings that the hideous creatures will no longer plague us. As I am sure you have been informed I wish that you will stay here tonight. You will be provided with sleeping quarters and tomorrow we will hold a grand feast in your honor. This is possibly the greatest feat you have accomplished thus far. I see you have another among your company now.”
The piercing blue eyes divert to the mask covering Lasandir’s face. His abysmally deep red eyes return the stare and the Queen says, “Please, oh brave warrior, remove your mask and tell me your name.”
Lasandir hesitates for a few seconds but eventually he reaches up his hand to his mask. He traces one of the runes upon it and the rune glows like the embers of a dying fire for a few seconds. The mask dissolves into his face, revealing the all too familiar scars disfiguring it. With a light bow he says in his deep, cold voice, “Lasandir of Ginapha.” He says simply. The Queen didn’t seem to mind the taciturn person. She also did not seem to mind his scars, while all of the eyes of the guard widened in admiration. They held their positions, however. The Queen sits upon the throne and says, “Please, rest for now, the guards will show you to your rooms.” Her eyes drift over five different guards, each of whom run from their positions and over to the party. They lead them down corridors and stairs to their rooms.

In front of the doors to the castle the two guards and the messenger had resumed their positions in front of the two large doors. One of the guards falls to his knees as the flash of a figure pops into view for a fraction of a second. The guard’s neck bleeds profusely as his face hits the ground. The guard on the other side of the messenger sees a different figure flash into view about twenty yards in front of him. A dagger cuts through the air, leaving a whistling sound in it wake. The dagger lodges itself in between the eyes of the guard who flies backward from the force, his skull shattering as it hits the castle wall. And just as the messenger opens his mouth to scream another figure pops into view for the briefest of moments. A hand is thrust through the mouth of the messenger and burst out of the back of his head, covered in blood. No one notices the deaths and the killers clean up the mess quite well, their invisible forms unseen in the night.

The travelers awoke the next morning and they all met in the main hall near the entrance to the castle. They sit around the fire in large chair. They talk about their travels to Lasandir before this. They had been many a place and it seemed that they had gained much fame in this town in only a month. He does not speak much and night soon overtakes the town. A guard comes into the room and says, “The feast will being. If you will come with me please…” He turns and starts to walk away.
The party follows quickly and they soon find themselves in a grand hall. A long table stretches from almost one end of the room to the other. The fine wood’s finish reflects the light of the torches lining the hall and chair of equally high quality are placed along it. Many nobles sit along the sides of the table. They all stand as the party enters, their manners allowing them to excuse the grimy outfits they wear even with bathing and cleaning. They walk to the end of the table to where Queen Faelina stands, beckoning them. She motions them to sit in the seats next to the head of the table where she sits. A great feast lines the table and Ollum is tempted to grab the first piece of food without waiting for the opening of the feast.
The Queen looks up and down the table and says with a voice full of pride and power, “We feast here tonight in honor of these five brave warriors whom have rid this kingdom of countless dangers. They liberated the Cave Sea of dangerous ogres and bring peace once more to the majority of the land.” With a smile of gratitude she continues, “Now, let us feed and water ourselves and let this night be merry with no lurking dangers threatening to take our lives.” She takes a seat and food is passed and eaten as fast as the words fly about the room. Much tumult echoes from the dining hall, laughter and sounds of mirth cascading down the halls. Wine flows like water and ale flows like air. No one seems to notice the man with his face down in a bowl of pasta nor the man with forehead resting on a slab of meat. A friend of the man with his face down in the pasta pokes him on the shoulder a few times, a smile of drunken bliss on his face. He lifts the man’s head back by his shoulder and his eyes widen. As the man’s back hits the back of his chair his head rolls backwards and the large wound on his neck is exposed. The blood continues to flow from it and a few seconds later the man’s friend screams. Everyone in the hall looks towards him and falls into panic.
The Queen stands up and she reaches into her gown. From it she withdraws a shining long sword. The mercurial blade is heavily enchanted with magics unseen. Many people fall to the ground as figure flash into view. The party stands and draws their weapons just as a black rift tears into existence in the middle of the room above the table. Many men garbed in thieves robes rush from the portal in a great torrent. The party kills many of them but their numbers seem ceaseless. They flee from the room but the Queen stays behind, saying, “Go! I shall defend my castle until death!” Many fall at her feet but in the end she was bound to die and knew it. The party rushes through the castle, weapons drawn. A few time thieves jump out in front of them only to taste cold steel and fall as quickly as they came.
The party exits the castle quickly and find many more thieves surrounding them. Keel’dak whistles loudly and his horse tramples one of the thieves not noticing it. Keel’dak jumps to the horses back and deflects many daggers with his own knife. One of the daggers pierces his left leg and one his left arm. He winces but continues on. He heads towards the stables to get the rest of the horses. The thieves charge inward with great speed and agility.
Metal meets metal and the clang of weapons clashing together fills the night air. A thief is lifted into the air on the end of the Sentrallion and slammed back down onto another thief. Rommos slashes horizontally into a thieves’ side and places his foot upon his chest, pushing him off of the Shatterspike. He brings a shining gauntlet to the face of another assailant as a quick dagger pierces his armor from behind. Ollum runs up after dislodging his axe from a thief and slices off the hands of the thief who stabbed Rommos.
Towdok quickly weaves his hand in patterns and draws from a small pouch at his side small fingernail. He yells, “Enzille nurmenor et grack!” A large magical hand of black erupts from his own arm, seeming to replace it. It grabs the head of one of the thieves and crushes its skull with powerful fingers. A dagger thrusts towards Towdok and the black and grabs the thief by the arm and twisting it until it tears off. Blood sprays freely from the wound as the thieves start to disperse from the area, their numbers lessened greatly.
Keel’dak lets an arrow fly from his bow as he wheels around the corner of the castle, a thief falling to his knees as an arrow tears through his skull. The horses trample a few more thieves on the way to the party and they stop, trained well, before their masters. Towdok offers Lasandir to sit behind him, but he refuses and runs alongside the horses as they take flight from the town. His long white hair billows out behind him, eyes behind the mask of bone looking from side to side rapidly.
The castle of Queen Faelina falls like everything else does in this world. The inside is now controlled by thieves, whom in the close future are destined to be killed. The town is overwhelmed and choked by the thieves, and while their fickle reign lasted they called themselves the Graceful Hands.
The party soon reaches the outskirts of the town soon to be Graceful Hands territory. They would once again be traveling aimlessly until they found something else to do. The five of them would never forget the fall of the Realm of Sythalia and the rise of the Graceful Hands.

Evil Perils and Good Tidings

Far from Dintrayna they traveled.  They rested little for they were frequently beset by enemies on their way.  Most of the creatures are simple and weak.  At this time, however, they were traveling towards a great keep in the distance.  They had stopped off in a town called Heralta for a brief period of time where they bought new carts and supplies.  Before that they had to live off of hunting wild animals.  They were also informed here of the abandoned keep to the west of the town.  
It had once been the residence of an evil necromancer.  Long ago that was and now no one knows of what lives there.  Some of those more versed in lore knew that the necromancer’s name was Val’inar.  Although once he was one of the greatest sorcerers for many leagues around it seemed that one day he just left.  Lights no longer shone in the windows of the great keep and the plague which had been constantly destroying the land around the keep seemed to lift.  Still remains the invisible veil that chokes the land of sunlight at all times, only little amounts working their way in to the land.
Some believe he had been beset and vanquished by some unknown enemy.  Some believed he had fallen due to his own powers.  And yet still others believed that he killed himself, no longer having the will to live such a vile life.
None of the party knew the tale of Val’inar for sure, but perhaps they would find out within the keep.  The horses started becoming unsettled by the land they were entering.  It was a plane of blight.  No life existed here whatsoever.  Many skeletons are strewn about the land.  While most of the remnants are of animal some are of humans and other even larger creatures.  A rank smell comes from the land here at all times, filling their nostrils and threatening to make them retch.  The land had been spoilt by the plague of the necromancer and long had the vileness made the land ill.  It had stretched for a handsome distance for they could only just see the keep on the horizon, Keel’dak being the one who pointed it out.
An ominous feeling overwhelms the area, thicker than even the stench assaulting them.  Rommos keeps to himself.  The look upon his face was of pure disgust for this land.  A palm is wrapped tightly around the hilt of the Shatterspike, knuckles turning white.  Lasandir seems to be the only one at ease.  He is used to such evil environments by now and had grown accustomed to the dangers that infested them.
They travel on as calm as possible, making it about halfway there before the first danger I these lands greets them.  An enormous winged creature soars overhead, coming down slowly in a spiraling pattern.  It bears the body of the lion and the head of a beautiful woman, shining brightly despite the lack of sunlight.  Towdok recognizes this creature right away and announce is it the rest of the party, “A sphinx, do not worry though.  It will only attack us if we answer its riddle incorrectly.  Sphinxes are very powerful beings.”
He seems very sure of his words and Ollum says in response, “Oh!  Only if we answer his riddle wrong.  No chance of that right?”  Heavy sarcasm weighs down his voice.  He seems to trust his axe more than his words and he takes the axe from his side, holding it tightly.
The sphinx looks up to the party slowly with its magnificent features and speaks in a low but majestic voice, “Answer my riddle correctly or I will pounce most promptly.  You may take your leave and your flesh I shall not bereave.  Will you hear the riddle or in your ignorance piddle?”  Towdok replies with a prompt nod and a yes without consent from the rest of the party.  The sphinx immediately begins the riddle;

I possess wing but with them cannot fly
But not many can slay me even if the bravest try
Of great magic I am made
And until defeated it will never fade
I was once thought as parent to sorcerer
But for many of my kind there is a slayer
I am no longer hunted for my scales
But still I am found in many tales
What am I?

The sphinxes’ voice stops abruptly.  Towdok speaks slowly, “I believe I know what it is but some of the lines are in conflict.”  He turns around and continues, “It must be a dragon… But dragons can fly and are always hunted for their scales.”  He turns back to the sphinx and says, “Could I have the riddle again?”
The sphinx repeats the riddle more slowly and Towdok strokes his beard.  Ollum scrunches up his face in deep thought.  The task looked hard but truly wasn’t for the dwarf, being smarter than many others of his kind.  He runs a finger up the blade of his axe, reminiscing upon his many journeys and tales heard.  Within seconds he exclaims, “A dracolich!”  The entire party looks at him with a look of confusion and surprise.
The sphinx nods and says, “You have answered correctly, now you may proceed.  But beware; there are greater dangers than I that lie ahead.  You footing will be imperative in the places lying ahead.  Farewell and bid thee well.”  With a the sound of great wings rushing through the air the sphinx takes flight, and Towdok looks over to Ollum, exclaiming, “Excellent Ollum!  I never thought you would be the one to solve the riddle.”
With a grin Ollum replies in a proud voice, “Me axe has taught my many a thing.”  He pats the axe at his waist and he continues, “But I don’t much like this land so we ought to make haste.”  The horses continue, unfretted by the appearance of the sphinx.  Rank smells continue to drift about them as the Keep of Val’inar looms ever closer.
They do not see what they expect to when the details of the Keep become visible.  Even the elf did not see this from a distance.  He thinks nothing of it, however, believing the Keep had been veiled from sight by the evil of the land.  They all look at it with great surprise.  The Keeps seems to consist entirely of highly polished marble.  Lush gardens surround the high keep.  A few towers branch off from the higher points on the Keep.  It is not overly large but over extravagant.  It seems to be the eye of the storm in the land, or the oasis in the desert full of death.  Beautiful flowers rest idly at the base of the castle and lush vines climb slowly up its sides.  A wondrous view it is.  A great statue pinnacles the Keep.  It is shaped in the figure of a respectable-looking wizard.  The statue bears a staff of diamond in its right hand and a spellbook of emerald.  The party fails to notice the living looks of the eyes.  They are filled with chaos and seem to bear the very quintessence of evil.  Had they noticed the eyes they would have thought it more menacing then all of the lands around them.
They approach the enormous doors of oak with handles of obsidian.  Ollum jumps from the cart and heads up to the doors, shortly followed by the others.  Towdok says, “Stand back,” and he raises his hands in front of himself.  With a few motions of his hands he says, “Oventi drusic.”  He points a palm towards the doors and they are enveloped with a green light for a fraction of a second.  Ollum speaks as the large door creak inwards, “The doors used to have strong enchantments upon it.  They have been weakened, however.  But by what I would like to know.
They head into the Keep without weapons drawn.  Within the doors is a well made floor of stone.  The walls are made of white stone blocks bounded together adroitly by skilled craftsmen.  A clean, unused fireplace owns a large niche in the wall.  Besides this the room is mostly empty.  Two stairs ascends to their right and left from the circular room and another stairwell descends in front of them through the fireplace.  It must have been used as a secret passage when it had still been in use.  The Keep is well lit by many torches on the walls.
Lasandir takes a look around the extravagant interior and says immediately, “Either this Keep is not abandoned or the features of it are maintained by magic.  I don’t trust this place, it lies.”
An eerie silence dominates the place.  After a few seconds of thinking the party heads to their right.  Ollum leads the party followed by Lasandir, Keel’dak, Rommos, and Towdok respectively.  Rommos says, “I agree with you Lasandir.  Evil fills this place just as much as the lands around.”  He speaks with a lighter tone than usual to Lasandir, concentrating more on what lies ahead than his hate for the demon.
After thirty seconds of climbing they find themselves in a long corridor.  Down below them they hear a wind rush through the entrance hall and with a loud clicking noise the doors lock themselves.  They all jump slightly but continue, not truly wanting to know what had happened below them.  They head down the wide corridor, weapons now drawn in front of them.  The corridor is very long and many doors line it.  They check many of them on the way.  First Keel’dak searches them for traps to the best of his ability and then Ollum tries to open them.  None of them open out of many that they try.
Keel’dak says, “Ollum, try this one.”  With a grunt of annoyance Ollum walks over to the door Keel’dak stands in front of and twists the knob.  Upon this door an emblem graces the wood.  The emblem depicts a crescent moon pierced by an arrow.  A red material falls from the wound.  The knob gives way and with a cocked eyebrow Ollum pushes it open.  Keel’dak’s ears twitch and he grabs Ollum, throwing him to the ground.  A black arrow flies over their falling head and dissolves into the air as it contacts the opposite wall.  They stand slowly and Ollum yells, “You almost got me killed!  You’re lucky yah saved me…”  
He mumbles to himself and Towdok hushes him and says, “Hold your tongue!  We know not what evil lurks within this room.  Careful, now.”  Ollum can clearly be heard saying under his breath, “Well we know the traps are set for dwarves.”
They enter the room and look around.  It is just as beautiful as the rest of the Keep they had seen.  It is completely blank except for the altar on the opposite wall.  On the intricately detailed altar rests a gnarled hand.  It is grayish in color.  Long fingernails grace it and the skin is shriveled heavily.  Towdok’s eyes go blank and he walks towards it.  His legs seem to move against their will.  Keel’dak says, “What are you doing Towdok?  Stop!”  He runs up behind him and grabs his garments.  He releases them quickly as though shocked by them.  The rest of the party looks on as Keel’dak stumbles backwards in pain.  Rommos catches him before he falls backwards.
Towdok grabs the hand and the effects of this error take place immediately.  Beautiful walls melt away to reveal a dungeon type atmosphere about them.  The torches throughout the Keep burn flames of green but give off no heat.  Whispers of evil creatures fly through the Keep and a face flashes in their mind.  
The face has the eyes of the statue on top of the keep.  They are filled with evil.  Their color seems to change constantly.  The face is the color of the hand with many black lesions upon it.  Sharp teeth can be seen within the grinning mouth and its eyes are opened wide surrounded by red tissue glistening with wetness.  The skin is greatly decayed and large cavities are opened at various places on the skin.  
That face gives them a sense of violation and all but Lasandir waver around dangerously where they stand.  Towdok disappears from view along with the hand.  Lasandir brings a fist hard to each of their stomachs to lift them from the spell.  The face leaves them as they recoil in pain.  Lasandir speaks calmly, “It is a lich.  Very powerful are its magics.  The necromancer seems to have cheated ultimate death by becoming a lich.  Very strong this one is!  He nearly caught me with his spell.  Keep your mind off of all thoughts of evil or death and it will be harder for him to possess you.  Come, we must find Towdok before the lich decides to kill him.”
None of the party responds but instead a disembodied voice replies, “If you wish to see your friend then come to the basement… If you can!”  With and evil laugh the voice fades away.  At this point they realize they were drawn to this room from the time they entered the castle without knowing it.  An evil aura now fills the Keep.  The walls radiate with a sense of evil and overwhelming power.  With great speed they fly from the room to meet the zombies limping from the rooms around them.  Their scent matches that of the land around the Keep.  Skeletons also approach with rattling bones.  They move closer to the party with hungry expressions.  They slice through many of the undead creatures.  They are much stronger than most of their kind.
They reach the entrance hall mainly free of injury.  Rommos bears bite marks from a zombie on his left leg and neck, Ollum with a sword wound on his left arm, and Lasandir with another sword wound across his chest.  Rommos quickly passes around small potion bottles to the wounded and one to himself.  They all quickly consume the potions but have no time to rest and let their wounds heal anymore.  Even as they stood there undead begin to descend the stairs to their left and right.
They run over to the fireplace, the doors obviously sealed shut.  They head down the stair with Keel’dak in the rear, picking off as many undead as possible with his bow before only their weapons light the staircase.  They descend quietly and carefully, eyes wide and looking around for any more dangers ahead.  After a minute’s slow walk (seeming more like to an hour) they reach the bottom of the stairs.  Tension is high, for they are once again without their spellcaster and they fear that they may be tricked again by the powers within the keep.  The room around them is completely dark and neither Ollum nor Keel’dak can see in the darkness.
Keel’dak, whom is slightly versed in magic, raises his hands and with a few words the magical darkness lifts, but the room is still very dark.  Two small yet bright beacons of light can be seen in the distance, yet the inch slowly closer.  They look like fire in the darkness.  A hideous creature is seen through the eyes of Keel’dak and Ollum, for their eyes pierce the darkness.  A great snake slithers towards them, bereft of all flesh.  The two flaming spheres within its eye sockets strike fear into their hearts.  The rest of the party can now see the great snake-like creature tossing the limp form of Towdok at them.  Lasandir catches him and after a few seconds says, “He’s alive, but we-“
A very cold and shrill voice wracks their ears, “-will be worse off than him soon enough.”  They all look up to the face they had seen earlier.  The hideous, sinister flesh shaped into a grin revealing the sharp, grimy teeth.  The sockets surrounded by red look deep within each and every one of their souls.  
Rommos shouts, “You must be the necromancer, Val’inar!  You shall fall by the Shatterspike for what you have done to our friend, fool lich!”  He grips the Shatterspike more tightly but keeps his expression calm.
The lich says, “Val’inar!?”  He laughs equally as chilling as his voice, and continues, “Val’inar was a fool!  I killed him long ago.  All that is left of him are these curséd eyes!”  The lich raises his hands as if to rake out the eyes, but thinks better of it, and continues, “But you shall die despite these eyes.  Jelntia, get rid of these, I need to decide on using their corpses as firewood or decoration.”  He walks away into another chamber in the darkness leaving the creature behind.  
Almost immediately it strikes towards the four.  All but Ollum manage to leap out of the way of the huge beast.  Ollum jumps into the air and raises his axe as if to bring it down into its skull.  The creature slams its large head into Ollum’s body before he manages to bring down the axe.  His body hits the wall and slides down, but he stays awake and attempts to get to his feet quickly.  The thing is upon him, but Keel’dak rushes in and dives in front of Ollum.  He lets fly the arrow notched in his bow with great skill.  The rune-covered arrow’s tip touches the creature’s skin and dissolves, spreading a pale green light around where the arrow contacted.  It is enough, however, for its head rears up into the air.
Lasandir takes this time to charge at its back, but to no avail.  The creatures looks to its tail and in half a second it plunges the spike upon its tail all the way through Lasandir’s left leg, lifting him into the air.  The Sentrallion clatters to the ground.  With a piercing scream Lasandir narrows his eyes in concentration.  He speaks a few rushed words and grabs the things tail.  It goes limp for enough time to allow him to remove his leg from the spike as a blue light rushes through its body.
Lasandir retrieves the Sentrallion as fast as possible and back flips over a swiping tail.  Ollum regains his footing, eyes bloodshot.  His knuckles are white from gripping his axe.  With a roar of rage he swings his axe down at the creature’s body, breaking many bones.  It shows no pain however, as it turns and lunges towards Ollum.  Ollum suffers only a grazing wound from one of its fangs.  Rommos runs at the creature and brings a powerful swipe of the Shatterspike across its jaw.  The jaw gives way and breaks into many peaces, but still the thing seems unfettered.

Keel’dak notches three arrows onto his bow, all covered in runes, and lets them fly. As the arrows contact its body they disappears and the entire creature’s body glows with a pale green light. It slumps to the ground with a deafening cry. Ollum returns to normal and slumps to the ground, as does Lasandir.
Rommos quickly heals both of them and Keel’dak tends to their wounds, which have been badly poisoned. He does this quickly and adroitly. While the two feel a bit tired, the cans till continue. The move silently into the next room, their swords drawn and Keel’dak’s bow ready to fire.
As soon as they come into the next room they see Val’inar’s walking corpse stand of from his chair. He says calmly, “I’ll have to make my bone nagas stronger from now on…” He looks to each one of them, not in the least angry or nervous. He begins to move his arms at a fast pace and mutter under his breath. Keel’dak lets loose an arrow which passes all the way through Val’inar’s neck and out the other side. He seems not to notice it in the slightest. His chanting becomes louder and his arms move faster.
Just as Keel’dak lets loose another arrow just as the rest of the party brings weapons swinging down at the thing. Just before they all hit him time ceases. The lich weaves more spells. One forms a huge cone of cold, freezing the three next to him, and the third sends a bolt of lightning towards Keel’dak, which bounces off the opposite wall and hits the other three party members.
With an almighty lurch the flow of time continues. Lasandir is the least affected. Rommos falls to one knee, Ollum falls to the ground, and Keel’dak flies against the opposite wall. His eyes close as he becomes unconscious. Lasandir sways a bit but finds his footing. He breathes faster and his eyes burst into flame. The colors in his sword drain and are replaced by the colors of red and black. The flames in his eyes change to blue and white, and his long white hair is picked up by some unfelt gale. The lich widens its eyes and steps back a bit.
Lasandir’s form disappears from view and reappears directly in front of the lich. The lich thrusts a flaming hand towards Lasandir who simply laughs. The hand plunges into the surface of Lasandir’s armor. The armor ripples around the place the arm entered and Lasandir lifts the Sentrallion up into the air. The lich struggles to get out his arm but before he can the Sentrallion swipes down, hewing off Val’linar’s arm. With an exclamation of surprise, not pain, the lich stumbles back against the wall.
Val’inar narrows his eyes and with a few harsh words a pure black arm replaces his lost one, bursting from his shoulder. Lasandir charges him but is swept backwards by the synthetic arm. He falls backwards and hits the ground with a thud. He stands quickly to find the pure black arm moving quickly towards his masked face. His deep red eyes widen as the arm stops inches from his face.
He had not noticed the quickly revived Keel’dak remove a small item from his backpack and use it to cut slice a wound in his palm. He did not notice how Keel’dak’s arm doubled in size, or the words he spoke, doubling the size of his bow he was at the time holding sideways. He did not notice him notch and enormous arrow, glowing bright orange, onto the bow’s string. He did notice the arrow carrying off the lich’s head as it passed, pinning it against the wall.
Keel’dak’s arm returns to normal size as does his bow as he clutches his shoulder in pain. Ollum and Rommos gather themselves slowly. Lasandir heals himself with a small potion and places the Sentrallion on his back. He walks over to Keel’dak and helps him up. He pulls back Keel’dak’s head and pours a purplish liquid down his throat from a small vial. Keel’dak winces from the burning liquid in his throat as he feels instant relief from the pain in his arm and any previous wounds. Lasandir says, “I thank thee Keel’dak, but I would have been fine. It would have been more the wise to let me handle it then to risk losing the use of your arm.”
They all fall silent as the head of Val’inar speaks, “You may have defeated me, but now you must choose. Either your friend or your lives.” He laughs evilly as the entire keep begins to rumbles violently, small rocks beginning to fall from the ceiling. Val’inar continues to laugh as Lasandir shouts, “Go! I will help Towdok!” The other three don’t respond, they just stand their blankly as the Keep continues to shudder. Lasandir shouts, “Don’t worry, he’ll be fine!” over the sound of the rumbling Keep and the vile laughter of the disembodied head.
Rommos shouts, “We’ll be waiting for you outside of the Keep!” and the other three take flight up the stairs, hacking through the undead as the meet them. Lasandir nimbly avoids a large rock falling down towards him and with a swift kick of Val’inar’s head he moves into the next room. Lasandir hears an angered shout from Val’inar and then silence. Towdok lies there, sleeping upon a raised slab of stone, stones falling down all around him.
Lasandir retrieves the Towdok’s body and slings him over one of his shoulders. He looks around at the many riches strewn across the floor of this room and then to a large, empty chest. It is very ornate. He fills it with as many of the weapons in the room that he can, not wanting to come out of this empty handed. He grabs the chest and hefts it up under one shoulder, much larger chunks of stone now falling around him. The chest is seems much lighter than it should be. He takes both the body and the corpse and flees from the room just as it caves in. He runs up the stairs and through the fireplace, many undead lying around on the ground. A few look up to Lasandir running and the other three wave at him furiously, shouting from outside of the Keep.
With a final violent rumble the entire ceiling of the entrance hall comes charging down and Lasandir dives for the doorway. He escapes just before rocks cover fill in the doorway and stands frantically. A tower high above him falls down and he stops in front of the rest of the party as the pieces of debris from the tower shake the ground violently. The all fall to the ground and Towdok blinks a few times, sitting up and looking around as if nothing had happened. They all stare at him for a few seconds and burst into laughter. Towdok looks at them blankly and says, “What’s funny?” He sits their as they all laugh after almost losing their lives. He joins in the laughter, not knowing why, but it felt good to laugh. Their injuries seem trivial and they realize how much more at ease they are after leaving the evil presence of the Keep. They continue to laugh for quite a while, a feeling of elation dominating them.
They set up camp near the destroyed keep, all very tired and wounded from the escape. The horses had waited obediently outside for them, unfettered by the building crashing down. They rest with unclouded minds and high spirits after what seems a feast made by Ollum. He is an excellent cook, even on elven standards. As Lasandir falls into a deep sleep he feels his daemonic features slipping away more every second. He keeps all of his power, yet he feels less hatred. He does not like it, but he thinks, perhaps, he will get used to it.

The next morning they look through what Lasandir had brought to the surface from within the Keep.  Rommos finds for himself an ornate helm of gold with intricate designs of some reddish material covering it.  He finds that it increases his physical features and makes him feel wiser and more confident.  Keel’dak finds a pair of green and brown gauntlets, making his body feel tougher and he feels lighter on his feet.  Ollum finds a suit of full plate mail, making him feel much stronger.  Towdok finds a mantle which allows him to concentrate on his spells so that he can cast them faster and bolsters his intelligence.  Lasandir finds a large stone, about the size of his palm.  It has and extremely smooth surface.  It has a purplish color and he can feel great power pulsing from it, but not even Towdok can identify it as of yet.  
They get back into the carts and leave those cursed lands.  They look back to the keep.  A great pile of rubble is all that remains, no more lush gardens or marble surfaces.  Atop the rubble rests the head of the statue that once pinnacled the Keep of Val’inar.  Their spirits remain high as the warm weather rest upon their bodies.  They reach an unknown town just as the sun goes to sleep under the horizon, painting a beautiful scene across the sky, assaulting their eyes with a myriad of colors.

Fame without Fortune

Looking good, Lasandir. You have some very neat descriptions (like in the last paragraph of the last chapter for example). Keep up the good work!

Fame without Fortune
And Sorrowful partings

The five of them left those dead plains with light hearts and no thoughts of evil to plague their minds.  The last of Lasandir’s daemonic feelings seemed to be left in the room from which he flew with Taudok.  His powers became more easily harnessed, as if the evil was blocking his powers.  He was still far from his former power, but this change would allow him to exceed that former strength.  
The party reaches the town in what seems no time at all.  But what they return to is not what they had expected.  A town ravished by some terrible misfortune.  Very few buildings had been left standing.  It looked as thought a great wyrm had had a merry time here while they were away.

Deep in the bowels of Hell a plotting Asmodeous sits in his throne of bone.  His arms are speared by two large spikes, holding them down.  Spikes from the throne also pierce his back.  His masochistic nature is very obvious.  A dull smile rests upon his face.  Great blue flames dance from his eyes as he looks to the opening rift in front of him.  
A mysterious figure steps from the rift, garbed in long robes of red, intricately designed with patterns of gold and purple.  Two lumps can be seen underneath the hood, the daemon’s horns.  A hood hides the daemons face and his face points towards the ground.  Asmodeous then speaks in a language known only to this daemon and his handpicked fellows, “What news of Lasandir?”  Asmodeous’ flaming eyes study the figure carefully, he held great “trust” in him.  He never truly trusted anyone, but this one was one of the few who came close to it.  Before the daemon responds Asmodeous looks up at the ceiling.  A shriek fills the room shortly followed by a thud as something unseen hit the floor.  A small daemon slowly dissolves into view, which is immediately rent into pieces by a glance from Asmodeous.
The daemon pays no mind to this disturbance and pulls back his hood.  The face covered with blood red skin and laden with innumerable markings looks up to the fiery eyes of Asmodeous.  His own eyes are black as night and the markings upon his face seem to shift very slowly.  They are ancient daemonic runes.  The daemon replies, “The Daemonic Inquisition has found recent evidence of Lasandir in a town on the surface.  He was not seen and the villagers claim he would be dead considering the journey he had taken along with four others.  They would not speak of the journey anymore.  All who did not kill themselves found death as we razed the village.”
Asmodeous narrows his eyes and sends a terrible pain through the mind of the Inquisitor.  The Inquisitor stumbles a bit but recomposes himself, knowing that if he stumbles Asmodeous will punish him more.  Asmodeous speaks in a slightly angered voice, “You should have found his exact location.  Have I overestimated you?  Go, and do not return without the head of Lasandir!”
The Inquisitor quickly rushes out and Asmodeous continues, “I hear minstrels singing the fools name!  He defeats Houranies and will no doubt kill more of the arch-devils if I do not stop him.”  As he sits there he feels something within his mind.  A soul is lost from him, Val’inar.  He was defeated as well.  One of his most devout servants on the surface was defeated undoubtedly by Lasandir.  He closes his eyes and thinks of the day he will kill the traitor.  A rush of evil laughter fills the chamber as the spikes on the throne pierce him deeper.  A goblet of wine, slighted by his mind, is lifted to his lips and he drinks deeply of the draught.

After a few moments Rommos says, “Great evil has destroyed this town in our absence…”  He looks down and speaks again, as if it was his fault, “I should have been here to defend those within the town rather than be off on my own journeys.  A fool of a paladin, I am!”  He looks down towards the ground and shakes his head.
The soft, comforting voice of Keel’dak floats through the air, “Do not fret my friend, for obviously we would have been caught in the holocaust ourselves, had we been present.  It is better off this way.”  He looks around at the town, flames still in a great blaze in certain areas.  He then says, “I can tell that no weak creature infiltrated this town, it looks to be the work of a devil.”  He steps forward a few paces and kneels down, studying the ground.  “Yes, daemons were certainly at work here.  I cannot say how many without a more elaborate search, however.”
Rommos looks over to Keel’dak and yells, “Better off?  Better off!?  I let so many people die!  It feels like I have been stabbed and slashed one thousand times over, and the torture still doesn’t cease.  Let it be known that the daemons that caused this catastrophe will be killed lest I die first!”
Lasandir looks around and then over to Rommos and says quietly, “Asmodeous.”  Rommos looks over to him and he continues, “Asmodeous did this.  He’s searching for me.”  He balls his hands into fists.  That cowardly fool, he thinks.  He sends others to find him instead of confronting him Himself.
Rommos speaks angrily to Lasandir, “I knew only ill would come of traveling with you, daemon!”  Rommos charges Lasandir, sword raises in a fraction of a second.  As the sword swings down Lasandir’s eyes burst into flame and he raises his arm, blocking the sword.  Rommos struggles against his arm until Lasandir pushes the sword away.  Rommos stumbles backwards.
Lasandir looks towards him and says, “Paladin’s never fight well in anger without reason.  You know that even if I weren’t traveling with you other villages would be destroyed, many more and much larger villages than the likes of this one.  Hold your tongue before you fine your head bereft of it.  The ubiquity of evil seems to have plagued even a paladin.  These days are dark even for those aligned with evil.”  Lasandir’s eyes are doused and millions of souls float over his eyes, each one screaming out in soundless vain.  His long white hair is picked up by some unseen wind and it leaves just as suddenly, leaving no trace of the temporarily harnessed strength.
Rommos looks down in shame and Taudok says, “We should be going, this bickering will not help our progress.”  All of them seemed to let Rommos and Lasandir settle the conflict themselves, for embroiling themselves in the fight could have become lethal.  Taudok continues, “Let us be off before the daemons return.  It would be best to make haste and take flight from these lands.”
They leave the town on their carts and horses slowly, with sullen feelings for the death and destruction in the town.  None of them take any notice to the pitch black eyes staring after them.

They soon set up camp and harness the horses to a nearby tree.  They had been traveling for many hours and the sun was falling behind the horizon at a fast pace.  They rest with only sparse bursts of talking.  Their conversations and somewhat increased in levity, but Rommos’ arrogance caused him to refrain from speaking at all.  
After a while they all fell asleep and Rommos chose to man the first watch of two hours.  He is so deep in thought that he did not feel tired at all.  Without enough time to even blink a hand thrusts through the air from behind Rommos and covers his mouth.  Before he realizes what has happened Rommos looks around at a new surrounding.  The being that grabbed him disappears and reappears by a large throne of bone.  Rommos looks up and after a few seconds of contemplating what is happening his jaw drops.
He had of course never actually seen Asmodeous, but he had many stories in his childhood and in the teachings of his deity, Pelor.  Somehow he just knew that this vile being must be Asmodeous.  The being had a humanoid form, with small horns jutting from his temples.  His eyes flame with a deep red color and a grimace reveals long, sharp teeth.  Reddish skin graces his body and a long robe of red caresses his skin seeming to have the utmost care, purple designs and runes upon it.  
Asmodeous raises a hand and points to Rommos, saying in a cold and annoyed voice, “Stand and fight, mortal, defend your life in vain, for in the end you will be vanquished as all of your kind do.”  He sighs as Rommos stands against his will and draws the Shatterspike.  Daemons appear in a circle around him and he begins to fend them off as best he can, great vigor thrusting into his body and giving him renewed strength.  He knew he would die, but he would die valiantly.
He slices off an oncoming hand only to have another claw laden with potent poison tear through his arm and rend flesh.  He thrusts his sword through the stomach of a daemon and tears it upwards with a battle cry.  He brings his elbow to the face of another daemon and in its stumbling he slashes horizontally, separating its legs from its torso.  He grabs another daemon by the throat, unable to comprehend his strength.  It is almost as if Pelor has bequeathed upon him some of his power.  His muscles ripple as he crushes the daemons throat in his grip and feels as a hand thrusts into his back.  He grabs the arm’s wrist and crusts the bones as he turns and brings his head smashing into his assailant’s skull.  The creature falls to its knees and Rommos thrusts the sword forward again into the eye of a daemon over the one he had just slain.  He turns to the final attacker and with an uppercut he breaks the neck of the daemon.  It lives on, however, so he picks it up and holds it above himself.  He bends his knees and with a powerful thrust the daemon’s body flies and splatters on the roof, raining blood down upon him and the chamber as crushed limbs fall to the ground.
The Inquisitor takes a few steps forward and, in a low voice, says, “Rommos, Paladin of Pelor, this was simply a test.  You have been brought here for an offer.  If you will bring to us Lasandir we will grant you power beyond your wildest dreams.  You have been chosen for you are the only one to show hate towards Lasandir, a feeling not shared by the rest of your companions.  It is your duty to kill the likes of Lasanidr.  Do this for the great Lord Asmodeous if you cannot bring him to us.  Pelor is a weak God, why not serve Asmodeous instead?”
Rommos breathes hard as he stares at Asmodeous and his head Inquisitor.  He speaks between rasping breaths in a silent, threatening tone, “How dare you speak of Pelor in this manner?  I will much sooner kill you and then Lasandir.  Asmodeous, your daemons have been slain.  I will face you in battle, and then siege will be laid upon Re’Talia!”  He says this as blood pours from his body, staining his armor.  He starts feeling the affects of the poison as his muscles begin to twitch.
Asmodeous stares at the man with narrowed eyes, and speaks slowly and almost amused, “Pelor has blessed you strongly, but no God is more powerful than I.”
Rommos looks up to him and says, “And what of Tellinta, foolhardy God?”  He grips the Shatterspike harder and looks with wide eyes at Asmodeous.  His breathing becomes more controlled as he stares at Asmodeous.
A look of pure rage comes over Asmodeous’ face, and he stands from his thrones, wide eyes bearing down upon Rommos.  He shouts, “Speak not of Tellinta here!  Fool paladin, feel the wrath of the all-powerful Asmodeous!”  The flames in his eyes douse and a rush of power is felt throughout all of Hell and felt slightly by all those in every plane.  The power is so great that the Inquisitor nearly dies, and Rommos, looking straight into his eyes, feels as flesh begins to lift from his skin.  He looks at his body and notices that he has no armor.  Bare flesh rises slowly from his body, blood pouring down from his muscles.  His organs begin to rupture violently, creating large cavities in his bloody mass of muscles.  He even feels as his heart explodes.  His mind slowly shrives and then explodes as well.  Veins and arteries snake their way of his body and fall to the ground.  His muscles being to fall away, leaving only a bloody skeleton.  The bones begin to crack and his can still see himself, still feel every second of pain.  He tries to widen his eyes in horror but can’t with the absence of eyelids.  He attempts to scream but it is a fruitless pursuit.  He thinks only of Pelor as his soul enters Asmodeous, the bones falling to the ground.
Rommos barely saw those eyes, mostly feeling the affects.  The eyes he could not describe.  One would have to study them for ages, and their true physique would have to be later revealed by someone with will enough to counter Asmodeous.  Asmodeous’ laughter is all that is heard as the Inquisitor recomposes himself.  The laughter would make the eyes of any mortal explode and cripple their mind.  He laughs for nearly quarter of an hour, a pure evil and terrifying sound filling all of Re’Talia.

The party wakes up, each of them feeling a chill rush down their spine without knowing why, Lasandir bordering on pain from this feeling.  He sits up and looks around slowly and then to his own hands.  His hands were shaking from some reason.  His armor recedes into his skin, allowing him to see the bare flesh of his hands.  They were burning and yet he could see no problem with them visually.  
He allows the armor to reform itself over his hands and after a few moments he hears Taudok say, “Where has Rommos gotten to?  He is not with us.  Did he wake anyone to take the next watch?”
They all stare blankly at Taudok without response.  Keel’dak stand and walks around, studying the ground as he moves.  Lasandir says, “There couldn’t have been too much of a struggle, we would have awoken.”  He sits there, pondering, as the wind weaves through his long white hair.
Taudok replies to Lasandir’s comment, “Not necessarily, he may have been transported elsewhere, by magical means or no.  But wherever he may be he is certainly not here, that’s all we can be sure of.”
After a few minutes of quibbling over what had happened to Rommos, Keel’dak says from where he is searching, “There was a small struggle.  Rommos’ feet writhed for about half a second, and in that time someone was behind him.  I cannot determine what it was from the footsteps, but it overwhelmed Rommos quickly.  Wait, silence.”  Keel’dak put an ear to the ground and continues, “A legion of creatures is approaching from the south, and from the north another.  They are coming fast, very fast.  If we don’t move we’ll be caught between them, and it sounds as if they are suited for war judging by the clash of equipment.”  The other can hear the legions approaching, and they now see them coming into view at a full charge.  Keel’dak breaks their silence with a yell, “Run!”
The party runs towards the horses tied to the tree and slash off the ropes.  Just as them mount them they see as arrows fly at them on their left and enormous spears on their right.  Both armies seemed to think the party as spies of the other.  One army is of many elves, pale with green eyes and angry expressions.  The other army is of enormous ogres, many war paintings cover their bodies.  Horses are impaled and carts are destroyed, but they all escape the missiles safely.  Both Lasandir and Keel’dak take to the trees with a single jump and Ollum stands in front of Taudok with his axe drawn.  He speaks a few words in his native tongue and the head of the axe is covered in visible arcs of electricity.  Lasandir and Keel’dak draw their bows and Taudok begins to prepare a spell.  Even in this short amount of time the two armies collide, thinking the party had already been killed.  
Rommos and Lasandir fire many arrows as they jump form tree to tree.  They cannot escape for the war surrounds them on all sides.  Ollum stays back, killing only those who approach him with ease.  Everyone once in a while Taudok casts a spell and takes out a few more, but they generally try to stay out of the battle as much as possible.
The forces seem inexhaustible, and just as a small group of elves notice their position in the trees they fire.  Lasandir jumps easily to another tree but Keel’dak is not so lucky.  He falls to the ground with an arrow in his left leg and shoulder, unconscious, for Lasandir still smells his soul strongly.  The elves seem to think he is dead or do not care, however, for they continue on and leave him there as they enter battle with a large group of ogres.
After a long amount of time the fighting seems to die down.  The elves had triumphed, but just barely.  He could not find the rest of his party anywhere in the forest.  This war was just beginning, perhaps they had embroiled themselves so much that they joined the ranks of one of the armies.  More than just ogres and elves were waging this war.  He did not suspect their deaths, for he knew of their strength.  He drinks the souls of many of the fallen.  He feels much stronger and revived from the battle as his body trembles.  He walks slowly away from the demolished forest, without looking back.  Perhaps their souls would once again be entwined with Lasandir’s some day.

Path of the Sojourner

I can’t read it right now…:frowning: but I’ll take a look at it when I have some free time on my hands. Kay? from the glance I’ve had, lookin’ good.

Path of the Sojourner

Far from the forest he had traveled without being impeded.  Weeks, maybe months, it didn’t really matter.  He had not feasted upon souls in quite a while, and his hunger was starting to bear down on him.  Far in the distance he sees a small town beneath the setting sun.  His deep red eyes look out from behind his mask of bone with determination.  He speeds up his pace, wishing to drink the sweet souls of mortals.
Lasandir finally reaches the town at night fall.  He grins slightly as he moves up to the closed gates.  Lasandir bends his long legs and he pushes himself off the ground, bounding over the twenty foot gates and landing on the other side with cunning grace.  He stands at his full height and looks around.  No guards were patrolling the gates, perhaps because this town is so remote.  Mountains are to the north and east and a wide river to the south and west.
A rush comes through him as he sniffs the air, the strong scent of souls coming to him from all around.  He walks down the street casually, scanning the buildings on either side.  He turns and walks to a building on his right.  He once bends his legs and jumps into the second-story window of the house.  He lands gracefully in the bedroom of a couple and walks over to the bed of the sleeping cover.  His movements make it seem as though he is floating.  
He hovers over the body of the female and thrusts his hand towards her neck.  His hand plunges into the woman’s throat, and he tears from it her vocals cords.  Her eyes open and she attempts to scream with the few seconds she has to live, but without success.  Blood begins to spread along the covers as she writhes.  Her husband awakens from the movements and feels as, with a swift movement, Lasandir crushes his jaw and lifts him into the air.  He kills the man before he knows what is happening.  Ever since his companions left him his hate had risen slightly.  He drinks deeply of the souls of the couple and leaves through the window, a maniacal grin on his face.  
That would suffice him for now.  He needs somewhere to think and calm himself.  He felt so free as he drifted away from evil.

Lasandir finds himself deep within a forest.  His travels brought him here over time.  Thinking and resting seems to take up most of his time.  He doesn’t mind the lush forest about him as he rests his back on a large tree next to a calm lake.  As he sits there a voice enters his mind, he knew he recognized it, but he could not name the voice.  It says, “Come deeper into the forest, I’ve been waiting for you.”
This voice instantly piqued Lasandir’s interest.  He stands slowly and moves farther towards the center of the forest.  He continues cautiously, and through many trees he sees a grove.  He walks into it slowly.  As he reaches the center he feels something pulling at his leg.  As soon a he looks down to see the source of the problem he feels vines tightening and pulling taut.  The vines bind him into this spot and he hears a whistling noise in the distance.  It becomes louder and louder until he sees the object creating the sound.
An enormous great axe flies horizontally towards his head.  He moves his head down just in time as his eyes widen.  The axe tears through a tree behind him, shattering its middle and causing it to fall.  The axe gets caught in another tree directly behind that one.  Lasandir recognized the weapon even as it flew towards him, the Tarrasque.  	Sedaria had found him.
Lasandir quickly breaks free of the vines and draws the Sentrallion.  He turns to where the axe impacted in the tree to see Sedaria standing there, wielding it with both hands.  His deep green armor blends in with the forest.  He moves with much greater speed than Lasandir remembers when he still served Asmodeous.
Sedaria speaks with a grimace, his eyes flaming with a dark green, “Lasandir, damn traitor, you should know all whom oppose the great Asmodeous eventually fall.”  He thrusts the Tarrasque into the ground and a fissure begins to open, heading towards Lasandir’s feet.
Lasandir jumps high into the air just before the fissure sends an explosion upwards.  He lands in the branch of a tree and replies, “And did you know all who serve under the great Asmodeous eventually fall as well?”  He conjures a ball of flame above his palm, and continues, “Houranies taught me a few new tricks, as will you when I take your soul!”  He jumps from the tree and throws the ball of fire at Sedaria, landing on the branch of another tree.  
The rival arch-devil dives from the explosion radius and stands up slowly, yelling, “You’re on my turf now Lasandir!”  The tree Lasandir is perched on begins to writhe violently, as if trying to swat Lasandir off.  He nimbly avoids the swinging branches and jumps to the ground.  He charges Sedaria with the Sentrallion and just before his sword slices through him a great wall of earth rises from the ground.  
He quickly pulls the Sentrallion from the wall and looks up.  Sedaria had leaped the wall and was falling towards him at a high speed, the Tarrasque held down in front of him.  Lasandir manages to knock the axe to the side but it catches his upper arms.  His pitch black armor tears away and the Tarrasque grazes his flesh.  He winces from the pain but recovers quickly.  He jumps back away from Sedaria and begins to weave a spell after sheathing the Sentrallion..  His daemonic chant begins to fill the clearing and Sedaria charges him, his long braid of hair trailing out behind him.
Just before the Tarrasque slices Lasandir in half he teleports to another spot in the grove.  He continues to weave the spell as his voice becomes louder and his hands move more quickly in their pattern.  He completes the spell and then draws the Sentrallion once more.  He raises it into the air and at its tip a small green dot appears.  The dot expands to a fist sized ball and three beams of green light spiral down around the sword and around his body.  Sedaria begins to charge him again.  Just before Sedaria reaches him the three green beams shoot upwards to form a triangle of points around his head.  He jumps through the triangle and each of the points expand into a black portal.  Sedaria stands, looking up at Lasandir.  The portals begin to spew a black and green liquid.  Sedaria attempts to jump out of the way but some of the liquid fall on his armor.  
The liquid begins to melt through Sedaria’s armor and onto his skin.  It melts away the flesh of his lower leg where it contacted.  Sedaria howls in pain and narrows his eyes, surmounting it.  Lasandir lands again and Sedaria begins to conjure a spell of his own.  It is a quick spell, and after he finishes a large bolt of lighting is shot from his chest.  It hits Lasandir in his chest and pins him up against a nearby tree.
Lasandir’s face contorts into expressions of pain as the electricity wracks his entire body.  A scream pierces the grove as his eyes burst into balls of purple fire.  Lasandir steps through the side, the bolt tearing through his innards as his wrenches himself from it.  He staggers for a few seconds and stands straight.  His grim mask of daemonic bone dissolves into his face.  Those old scars become all too apparent as he bears a toothy grin.  A maniacal glint enters his eyes as his body begins to turn to mist.
Sedaria charges him with his axe but his swing flies right through the misty form of Lasandir.  Sedaria looks up at the last seconds as the Sentrallion plunges down through his skull with the force of Lasandir behind it.  Lasandir falls to the ground and looks down at the heavily bleeding Sedaria.  Blood pours from every orifice of his body like small waterfalls.  The Sentrallion pins Sedaria to the ground, and his own green blood pools under his feet.  Sedaria gasps, “Lasandir, you are powerful, but you will never defeat Asmodeous.”  A large spout of blood exits his mouth as he coughs.  He continues, “You may steal my soul and the rest of the brethren’s souls, but Asmodeous’ power is infinite.”  
His voice trails off as his body slides forwards and through the sword.  His back lies face up, split open.  His body and blood slowly turn to a misty form along with the Tarrasque by his side.  They enter Lasandir’s body and he feels the memories and power of earth enter him.  His body quakes with power and his vein feel as though they will explode.  His injuries begin to heal a little but not much.  He pries the Sentrallion from the ground and sheaths it.  He begins to tremble as he stands there.  His body gives out and he falls to the forest face first.  Rest was needed before his continued.

Lasandir had awoken and traveled from that forest with desperate haste in the dead of night.  Asmodeous would send the Inquisition to the forest once he realized Sedaria was dead.  That would not take long.  Lasandir walks calmly through plains of tall grasses all around him.  The grass goes up to his chest, so that he could not see the ground around him.  He wonders what he is doing, wandering around aimlessly.  Having no purpose other than avenging himself was starting to become quite boring, especially without the slightest inkling of where he would find the next arch-devil.
A sound comes from his right, a rustling in the grasses.  He snaps his head to the right but he does not see anything.  After a few moments he continues walking.  The grasses begin to rustle again and he plunges into the grass.  He looks around, still unable to see through the thick strands.  The rustling sounds approaches at a very high speed now and Lasandir draws the Sentrallion.  He cuts through a large portion of the tall grass and an elf enters his view.
The elf has dark skin and says in annoyed voice, “Who are you?  You are not of the Krawth’gaa, vile creatures!  I can tell from your outfit that you are not aligned with them.  State your business or be slaughtered!”
Lasandir stares into the drow’s eyes and replies, “My name is only for those I trust.  First you state your business and name, or you will be slaughtered.”
The drow raises an eyebrow and says, “Very well.  Perhaps you could join us.  The drow stands and with a bow he says, “I am Tal’kranta of the Velve clan.  I am returning home, would you like to accompany me?  We are always looking for new allies.  Please speak with haste, for I am in a great hurry.”
Lasandir says, “Very well, I will accompany you.”  He sniffs the air.  This one was certainly not a daemon, but he would have to be careful in case he was a spy of Asmodeous.  He continues, “I am Lasandir; that is all you need to know.”  He follows the drow silently and they do not talk on their journey.  In twenty minutes of light running they arrive at a large black castle.  It towers over them, casting a long shadow over the land.
The drawbridge lowers as they approach and a guard calls from high on the castle, “Welcome back Tal’kranta.”  The guard, obviously understanding that Lasandir is friendly, has the gates raised.  “Come, I have a message for our leader, he will recruit you.”  While most of the being’s here were drow, there were some variations.  A robed creature stands against a wall, a beard of tentacles cascading from its shadowed head.  Some larger creatures hulk around the halls, and other creatures dressed in all black lurk in the shadow.  No one pays too much attention to Lasandir or Tal’kranta.  The black walls are lit by green torches, and after a while they come to two large double doors.  
The guards standing on either side of the doors look extremely disciplined.  The drow guards wear exquisite black battle armor and carry silver pikes with runes upon their heads.  They cross their pikes without looking at the newcomers, barring the doorway.  Tal’kranta says, “I have urgent news, please allow me to pass.  I have news of the Krawth’gaa!”
Silently, they lift their pikes.  The doors open themselves and Lasandir enters alongside Tal’kranta.  This is obviously the throne room.  Large pictures of the family line hang on the walls and a throne of reflective obsidian seats a drow suited in pitch full plate mail.  A long serrated broad sword rests up against the throne and Lasandir can see the hint of blades beneath his armor.  Tal’kranta kneels to the drow in the throne and says, “My Lord Kel’han, I bear peace offerings from-“  His words are cut off as a dagger silently tears through his skull and sends his body flying back against the wall from its force.  It was hard to follow the movement of the drow’s arm even for Lasandir.
The form of the drow slowly melts into a creature with sickly, pale green skin.  It bulging eyes are pure white and red blood sprays from the wound in its forehead.  Kel’han stands and says in a calm, deep voice, “Improper protocol, the drow never kneel.  Unauthorized presence, he made no appointment for my conference.  Annoyance, every second of my time wasted takes away time to slaughter the inferior and superior.  And worst of all, peace.  All drow know the in darkness there is no peace… only destruction.”  
Kel’han walks down the steps leading up to the throne and over to the body and dislodges the dagger from its forehead, serrated broadsword wielded.  He returns the dagger to his armor and walks towards Lasandir with long white hair swaying lazily in his wake, saying, “The Krawth’gaa are sending doppelgangers now?  Such untrained assassins.  They truly are desperate now.  Now, give me one reason why I should separate your head from your shoulders.”
Lasandir stares into Kel’han black eyes and replies in his deep, cold voice, simply, “Because you can’t.”  He shrugs and draws the Sentrallion in the blink of an eye, parrying off the oncoming broadsword.  He admits to himself that this drow comes close to the power of an arch-devil.  A strange thought that the mortals of the Material Plane could acquire such powers.
Kel’han steps back and walks up to the throne.  He takes a seat and says, “Welcome to Velve.  You shall be Sargtlin, First Class.”  Kel’han says this without acknowledgement from Lasandir.  He sits there, staring, with his dark, unblinking eyes.  This drow was extremely battle worn, the most powerful he had ever seen in any of his travels to the material plane.
Lasandir replies, “Very well, Lord Kel’han.”  His membership to the Velve clan was mutual.  He could tell that most who were be directly recruited by Kel’han would probably die first.  The blow from his broadsword would have taken most being’s arms off if they had parried it.  Lasandir had once again found purpose.  He could bend this clan’s will to his own desires if he needed to do so.
Lasandir becomes acquainted with many others in the clan.  Everyone seemed annoyed by his high placement when he just entered the clan.  After some time he learned the protocol of the clan, how he should act around inferiors and superiors.  This clan had a very detailed structure.    Everyone seemed to have a purpose, even if it involved the most menial task.  There were also training grounds, a huge room in the castle which could be magically changed to create different environments.  Instructors constantly taught every type of fighting and magic.  The clan was very balanced with magic and mundane fighting, a feat rarely achieved by clans in this age.
After a few hours the clan was called to a meeting.  Lasandir hears the message within his mind, and it seems as thought the rest of the clan’s higher ranks experienced this as well.  Every high ranking member heads to a certain room, forgetting whatever they were doing.  Lasandir follows suit, and it was almost as if he had been within the castle walls for years, for he found his way to the meeting hall without any assistance.
He enters the hall to see most of the meeting’s attendants already seated.  Everyone knew there place, including Lasandir.  He heads up the enormous table and sits in a seat next to the head of the table, where Kel’han resides.  Kel’han greets him with a curt nod and Lasandir looks over to who must be his equal in rank.  This one nods to him as well.  Formalities were obviously not meant to be handled at this time, for Kel’han stands and speak for all at the table to hear, “This meeting of the Velve Clan shall now commence.  Stand and pay homage to the dark Lord Vallen Zek.”  All the clan stands and bows their heads, Lasandir follows suit.  
After a few moments Kel’han looks up and says, “Be seated.”  Everyone sits and Kel’han is left standing.  He says to the hall, “In these wonderful days of darkness we wage a war with the Krath’gaa that never relents.  While Velve takes pride in war and cherishes every seconds, we must annihilate this annoyance.  As most of you already know, we have inducted a new member into Velve.  Lasandir is a powerful asset to the clan, and I have decided to have him lead our assault on the Krawth’gaa.”

A low rumble comes over the hall as people turn to those next to them and talk to each other. This is quickly stifled however, as someone in the middle of the table stands and says, “But Lord Kel’han, don’t you think we should send an older member for this mission? Someone with… experience.” The last part of was more of a statement of the question.
Kel’han looks over to the one speaking and says, “After this meeting adjourns, Grelath, you may test yourself in combat against Lasandir. If you win, you may certainly lead the operation. If you do not wish to fight, then kindly hold your tongue and take your seat.” His voice is filled with poison, it seemed he did not like to be questioned. “You all know that my word is final. I feel confident that Lasandir could surpass every one of you in every aspect of this mission. Feel free to challenge him to a fight to the death. Winning will allow you to take his place. Now back to the mission. This will take a small task force of five volunteers. Do not request participation if you do not feel fully capable. I don’t want anyone slowing the assault down. Those who wish to take part in the mission please stand.”
Kel’han looks up and down the table as five beings stand. The one creature with the beards cascading from its hood stands as well as four drow. Kel’han says each of their names as they stand, starting with the strange one, “Flastioch, Felandûl, Ssinta, Shy’nnytha, and Vhauryn.” Both Shy’nnytha and Vhauryn were exceptionally beautiful examples of females of the drow race.
After a few moments of silence Kel’han’s commanding voice once again overtakes the hall, “Very well, after the meeting you will be debriefed and become acquainted with Lasandir. But now we must discuss-“ Kel’han stop himself and stands completely still, listening to the silence around him. The only sound was the clicking teeth of a strange looking creature within the room. He raises his hands and the clicking stops. He stands for about a minute and yells, “Rally the clan! We’re under attack! Thalinta, guard the front gates. Rithalya, get your archers on every tower and turret. The rest of you know what to do. You five,” he looks to the volunteers and Lasandir and says in a calm voice, “come with me, we’re going to cover the top.” He picks up his broadsword, which was rested against his chair, and bolts out of the hall. Everyone in the hall seems to know where they are going, and Lasandir goes with the other five and runs after Kel’han. He doesn’t speak to them as they follow Kel’han. He draws the Sentrallion and after moving up many stair cases Kel’han traces his finger along an invisible rune on the ceiling at the top of a staircase. The stones lift slowly and move to the side, allowing them to exit. Once they all stand clear of it the stone slab slides back into place with a dull thump.
The top of the castle is an enormous blank space, but there are many towers on the borders of the castle’s roof. The towers swarm with hooded figures bearing huge bows. They fire constantly at rapidly descending winged devils, many of which swoop down and grab the archers by the shoulders, dropping them off the sides of the castle. Lasandir sprawls to his stomach as an enormous devil swoops down over his head. He stands up very quickly and looks up to the devil.
The sky above him swirls with dark clouds, lighting and thunder adding to the chaos above. The clouds spiral inwards to a central point, within which pours a stream of devils. Down below Lasandir can hear the sounds of battle at the base of the castle as well. Flastioch, the robed creature, looks over to Kel’han and casts a spell upon him and he lifts from the ground, flying towards the devils in the air to do battle. The other four draw their and attack nearby devils. Lasandir’s armor allows his enormous wings to burst forth from his back and he slices off the wing of an oncoming devil and then crushes one of its knees with a kick as it awkwardly flies past.
The colors within the Sentrallion swirl quickly as blood runs down its surface. The mind flayer’s power fills the area as a large white eye extends from beneath its hood upon a stalk. The eye shoots a ray of red towards a devil, tearing through its abdomen and causing it to fall to the roof of the castle.
Kel’han plunges two of his fingers into the eyes of an oncoming devil and thrusts his broadsword into its throat. He pushes the devil off of his sword and with a skillful turn he brings a fist into another devil’s chest, breaking ribs. The devil responds with a slash, tearing through Kel’han’s armor and slicing flesh on his arm. With another punch he dents the devil’s skull and it is launched backwards by the force.
Lasandir’s form winks out of view and reappears next to Ssinta, one of the volunteers, and slashes across the torso of one of the devils flanking him. With a nod of thanks Ssinta raises his hands with a grin he swings them towards two devils in front of him. Many, barely visible metal wires propel from his hands and criss-cross along the bodies of the devils. Large chunks of flesh begin to slide off of the bodies as Ssinta runs towards a group of devils assailing a group of archers.
Lasandir looks over to Shy’nnytha, who wields two slender, glistening rapiers. With adroit grace she brings both rapiers vertically upwards along the devil’s chest and, spraying purplish blood all over he body. She thrust one of the rapiers into the chest of the devil and uses the other rapier to remove its wings. Another devil comes up behind her and slashes across her back. She stumbles forward and Lasandir throws the Sentrallion into the air. It disappears and reappears slashing off the head of Shy’nnytha’s assailant before it has a chance to attack again.
Lasandir also looks over to Felandûl, whose long, braided hair swings through the air as he brings a fist across a devil’s face. He follows that with a punch to its gut and he sweeps his leg under it. It falls to the ground and he brings a booted heel into its chest at the same time he brings the back of his fist into the jaw of a devil flanking him.
Finally, Lasandir sees Vhauryn in combat. She raises a hand and chains burst forth from the body of a nearby devil and it begins to writhe in agony as the chains lacerate its body endlessly. She turns to another approaching devil and she points an upturn palm at it. With a few words of a spell millions of insect surge from its orifices, covering its body as it screams, causing many more insects to billow forth from its mouth.
Lasandir once again rises into the air. He feels his muscles ripple, his armor expanding to accommodate his body. His grip on the Sentrallion strengthens as he looks towards four incoming devils, obviously finding him as a threat. The four are much larger and more feral than the others. Kel’han experiences the same oncoming attack elsewhere. Lasandir moves into a fighting stance taught only to him and his brethren in his five millennia of service. He moves into a low stance, knees bent in mid-air. He holds the Sentrallion in front of him and his free hand is held in the air behind his head. As the first devil approaches he swings the Sentrallion up into its hard skin. It exposes its chest to him as it flies upward from the force. Lasandir flies towards the devil, his wings flapping furiously. He points his feet towards it and smashes each foot into it twice as he runs up its stomach and chest, crushing ribs and bones.
He flips off of the devil and stops himself as another devil shoots towards him. He puts great force behind the swing of the Sentrallion, slicing diagonally across the devil’s body. The two pieces of the devil separate and fly passed either side of him. He then flies backwards and the remaining two devils collide. The fall to the ground and Lasandir sheaths the Sentrallion onto his back. The two devils hit the top of the castle at the same time many bits of flesh and blood hit the castle’s roof, which used to make up Kel’han’s attackers.
The sky above clears as the torrent of devil’s stop as the storm departs, but he could still hear much trouble below. His wings recede into his back and he lands gracefully on the ground. He looks around and sees insect like devils climbing over the sides of the walls. From large ladders lining the roof climb ogres. Many of the ladders are pushed down but some allow ogres.
The insect devils impale drow with long blades that replace their arms. They vary greatly in size and shape. By now the siege was slowing down, for many of the attackers had been slain. After a few more vigorous minutes of fighting the siege is stayed, with minor damages to the castle. They had lost two hundred of the clan and about three hundred fifty wounded. That is nothing, however, to the loss of thousands on the part of the enemy, not to mention major officers being slain. The battle was an overall victory. The dead had their own weapons thrust into their chest and they were all buried with a bit of those weapons sticking out of the ground.
Kel’han did not tarry long on any extra respects to the dead. He brings Lasandir and the volunteers into a small room, where each of them sit in red leather chairs. Kel’han sits on a large black chair, the back rising above his head. He rests his arms on a desk in front of him and says, “This recent attack by the Krawth’gaa amplifies the necessity of this task. We may have killed many, but their numbers are much greater than ours. Those ogres have even allied themselves with devils. While the Krawth’gaa is our enemy, time is a greater enemy still. The faster you accomplish the task, the less attacks the Krawth’gaa can send. The goal in this mission is to remain stealth. We have located their stronghold and have set up a portal leading to a forest on the threshold of their lands. You will enter the stronghold and move through the halls remaining unnoticed as long as possible. We do not know the schematics of the stronghold so you will have to find the place their leader stays without any reconnaissance.”
“We know that they generally do not keep devils within the stronghold for the alliance is very unstable. This may have changed, so be careful. The ogres are very powerful and they have many mages. We do not know what the leader looks like but the place in which it resides will be by far the most extravagant room in the stronghold. Capture him, alive, and we will have him order a strike on his own stronghold with his allies. If all goes well the alliance will be broken, the Krawth’gaa will be destroyed, and we will kill the leader. I will now leave you to get to know each other better. When you are finished Flastioch will bring you to the portal. If you have any questions which require you to consult me on the mission then… don’t ask. May Vallen Zek be with you.” He leaves the room with the signature salute of the Velve, going to accomplish some other task in the clan.
As Lasandir looks around at his fellow clan members his eyes rest upon the mysterious Flastioch. He notices the gaze and lowers his hood. Flastioch has pure white, bulbous eyes. His mouth is hidden by a long beard of four tentacles and he is nearly as tall as Lasandir. Lasandir had failed to notice the many designs on Flastioch’s black robes. Many thin lines of a wide variety of colors create intricate patterns along the fabric. Lasandir’s assumptions had been correct, Flastioch is an Illithid. The strange thing that made him disown this theory is the fact that the drow and the mind flayers were always enemies in the underground.
Flastioch, as if reading his mind, says, “I was cast out by my own kind for mutinous thoughts. All of my kind are fools, they did not believe my theories and claimed me a lunatic. I was cast from my underground world and so I came to Kel’han, another outcast of his kind. He gathers a large clan of his own kind and others, cast out from their society. But alas, it has been long since the blood of my own brothers and sisters stained my robes! My revenge was swift and terrible with Kel’han’s aid. He is a very powerful drow, and you are in the right to respect him. Soon enough you will learn to revere him.”
By this time Lasandir realized that Flastioch wasn’t physically speaking, but rather speaking to Lasandir in his mind. After speaking with the others he found out that all of those with him were cast from where they lived similarly to himself. Lasandir, however, had not slaughtered the family as each of them had done.
After some fifteen minutes of getting to know those to accompany him on the task he turned to Flastioch and with a calm, determined voice says, “Let us go now. Remember, stay to the shadows until we capture the leader, and then release we will escape as quickly as possible.”
Flastioch led them through a series of corridors to a large chamber with a massive portal in the center. They move through the churning blackish portal and appear deep within a forest. They can see an enormous stronghold even through the thick trees. From its top billows clouds of smoke, being pumped into the air by some unseen force. A great sound overtakes the forest, both of fire and of screaming as whips lash backs. Slavery obviously kept this place working, which was shortly pointed out as drow prisoners by Flastioch. They take to the trees and become so stealthy that they can barely notice each other. Connected by the mind they contact each other and move from tree to tree towards the stronghold.

Grish’ka never saw the small object dropped at the feet of one of his comrades on the outskirts of the stronghold, nor did he hear the small, quiet explosion which splattered the trees around that comrade with blood and guts.  
He walks idly along the halls of the Krawth’gaa Stronghold.  The ogre walks with pride, with utter disgust for the devils with which he is allied.  His walk is interrupted, however, as he trips on the nearly invisible string of wire from across each side of the hall.  His ankles are cut deeply and he falls forward into a netting of the same string.  His body slides through the wires and he is chopped into pieces.  Small thuds accompany each bit of flesh as they fall to the ground.
After a few seconds Lasandir sweeps over the chunks of flesh and they are gone along with the creature’s soul, floating serenely within Lasandir.

So far the infiltration had gone rather smoothly.  They had only killed five of the enormous ogres, all covered in war paint.  Lasandir crawls along the ceiling of a long corridor along with the volunteers.  Flastioch had allowed them to crawl along walls and ceilings with one of his spells in his seemingly endless compendium.  They move along the heavy shadows, their dark forms blending with their surroundings.
They had been crawling for a little over quarter of an hour when Flastioch’s voice infiltrated his mind, “The leader is up ahead, I can feel it.”  They continue to creep along the ceiling and they see a set of double doors up ahead.  Shy’nnytha drops to the floor behind the guards and two slender rapiers meet flesh.  Two head hit the ground at the same time and Lasandir swoops down, stealing their souls and quickly turning their corpses to dust with a few quiet words.
They all retreat once more to the ceiling and Flastioch blinks his eyes.  The doors slowly open and immediately four armor-clad ogres rush through the opening.  Vhauryn drops in the center of the four guards and raises her arms.  With a few quiet words she lifts her arms up on either side of herself and the four ogres feel as their own weapons slice into their abdomens, digging deep and puncturing vital organs.  Blood pours from their stomachs and Lasandir watches as the white apparitions float from their bodies into his.
Five of them drop to the ground and walk into the throne room.  Many paintings of former ogre rulers line the walls and a throne covered in drow flesh seats an enormous ogre, arms the size of tree trunks and legs even larger.  He looks out to the dead guards and then back to the intruders.  The ogre stands slowly, ornate patterns covering its body.  It speaks in common with a low, evil sounding voice full of discipline and an upright attitude, “Pray tell, why do you waste your lives?  I,” he hits his own chest in pride, “Tarkla, shall kill you.”  The ogre stands revealing his full height of over twelve feet.  He moves with amazing speed, bringing a crushing fist into Shy’nnytha’s face which caves in her skull.  Then an enormous knee cripples her rib cage.  Her body falls limp to the floor.
Felandûl screams in anger.  He had cared much for Shy’nnytha as Lasandir had come to know, and she was killed so quickly.  His eyes become blood red as he begins to assault the leader.  He unloads all of his strength into the attack, each blow blocked by an enormous limb.  Felandûl kicks at his chest, launches a flurry of punches at his abdomen, brings a normally bone-shattering kick to his head, and on the final punch the leader bring a huge fist into Felandûl’s small one.  All of the bones in his arm shatter and he feels the pain course through his body.  The enormous ogre grab’s Felandûl’s head and slams it into a wall just as Lasandir brings the Sentrallion into his side.  Felandûl’s corpse slides to the ground, headless, as Lasandir wrenches his sword from the hulking figure.
Blood pours from the wound but it quickly closes as he regenerates.  Vhauryn completes a spell just as the wound closes completely.  Vhauryn sends a bolt of electricity through the ogre, causing it to shake violently.  Flastioch ends a quick chant and points a finger at Tarkla.  He begins to shake and grab his head but quickly overcomes the spell.  
Tarkla once again stands up to his full height and with a few words in his native tongue he waves his hand horizontally through the air.  Lasandir and Ssinta charge forward just as some invisible force pushes Vhauryn up against a wall.  The force begins to peel her flesh back against the wall and after a few seconds her body explodes into the wall along with a dull sound of snapping bone and a sickening fleshy noise.  As Lasandir and Ssinta charge Tarkla he raises a hand as if to block them.  Long wires fly from Ssinta’s hand as the Sentrallion passes through Tarkla’s wrist.  The severed hand falls to the ground and Ssinta covers the ogre’s body in strings.  He attempts to tighten the strings but the ogre’s body doesn’t give way.  Tarkla flexes his muscles and the wires snap, leaving only lightly bleeding cuts in his skin.  The ogre didn’t even seem to notice the absence of his hand.  He just continued to walk towards the two opponents with a bloody open wrist.
Tarkla begins to laugh maniacally as he surges forth, even with Ssinta’s wires lashing his body.  Just as Tarkla raises hand to kill the determined Ssinta his body freezes.  Flastioch’s begin to bulge as he holds in place, pointing his hands up towards the ogre.  His body begins to tremble and words from Flastioch fill his head, “Quickly, bind him!  This spell cannot hold against one as powerful as this for long!”  Ssinta either heard the message or saw his opportunity.  He immediately begins to bind Tarkla in rush of wires.  They encircle Tarkla and tighten quickly, covering every inch of his body besides his nose and eyes.  Lasandir sheaths the Sentrallion and grabs the bound Tarkla and picks him up with ease.  He hefts the weight over his shoulder.  The spell fades but Tarkla is unable to move in the slightest.
Ssinta says, “We have to leave… now.”  Lasandir nods and raises his hand into the air, palm pointed at the ceiling.  He yells, “Cirfeam!”  A large hole appears in the ceiling as chunks of debris are thrown onto the roof, revealing the darkness above them.  He looks back to Flastioch and sees the many ranks of ogres trying to penetrate the invisible wall of force he had created in the doorway.  The three of them jump out onto the roof one by one and begin to run for the edge of the roof.  The wall of force disappears just as two ogres try to slam through it again.  They fall to the floor as they stumble into the room.
Lasandir, Flastioch, and Ssinta jump from the roof to the ground and run to the portal.  A small group of ogre mages stand around the portal, inspecting it.  Lasandir raises his hand and the other two stop.  He inches forward and with a charges swings the bound body of Tarkla across the group of ogres.  They are launched to the side with looks of surprise on their faces and the three members of the small force move quickly through the portal.  It closes behind them and their task is complete.


I finally found an appropriate place to post this. I am looking to get this story published when I finish it, and if anyone has any critique or a suggestion for a title feel free to post it. However, I am looking for someone to draw the main character of my story. When I have it published I will probably be including the picture I choose from the people I have drawing it. I will be paying they artist if they wish if the book is published. Anyway, here’s the description. Lasandir is 6’11” and he wears pitch black full plate mail covering almost his entire body. The armor is meshed to his skin, showing his high muscles definition. He wears a mask of daemonic bone, with two large horns jutting up from the temples. Daemonic runes cover the mask. He has abysmally deep red eyes and without his mask almost every inch of his face is covered in scars. His eyes burst into flame when he is angry and he allows it. He has long white hair that goes down to his waist. His sword is the Sentrallion. It is a six-foot sword with a wide blade and an inscription runs up its side saying, “Omnipotens mustum adorea supera æger.” The sword’s blade swirls with the colors of blue and white. (optional) Lasandir has pure black wings that have a 20 foot span from tip to tip.