The Great Library of Palanthas

An Aesthetic shows you to a small reading room.

Stories of Ansalon from the view of Argen.

A little gully dwarf runs by and says 'Wordwrap Off 65 80.'
The gully continues 'Eyes hurt? Turn Color OFF!! (regular story dates)

Astinus says 'Enter the main library here to view only the author list.'
Astinus gently places a leather bound tome with glowing glyphs on the table in front of you.
You note the spine bears the word 'Argen' scribed in rich maroon ink.

Author:    Argen          
Date:      Mon Oct  1 14:23:25 2018
Subject     [01/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 1: Marked Argen looked at her reflection off of the creek bridge. She was a silver- haired cleric, standing just an inch short of five feet, although her chest was large enough to avoid being mistaken for a child. She brushed the bell ornament in her hair and noticed the sound his touched off of something approaching her from her right. She turned toward the new presence. It was a male human in a tuxedo--or what was at one point a tuxedo, but it had endured so much wear and tear that it hardly qualified as acceptable clothing to wear in public without any serious repair. "Well, hello there," he crooned, his eyes briefly shining red under the moonlight. She noticed that his skin was quite pale under the moons' gaze--too pale. 'Well, that's not suspicious,' she thought sarcastically. "I see you're traveling alone at night. Such dangerous behavior. Perhaps I could escort you to a safer... place!" The male vampire's tone was *almost* charming at first, but during the latter part of his words, he lost all pretense of control and dashed toward the maiden. "Sorry, I'm not really into guys like you." Argen gritted her teeth as she ducked the vampire's rush and drew out her mace. It was furnished with gold and the base was adorned with a multi-colored feather of the god she represented. The undead being snarled and glared at her, his eyes aglow with an unnatural red haze. The cleric knew what was coming and glanced away from the charm attempt. "You'll have to do better than that," she admonished. The male vampire made a feint for a claw swipe, and snarled as he instead tackled the cleric onto the ground. He wasted no time, hungry and mad as he was, and went for a bite on the girl's neck. Argen's hands immediately flicked to the sole object left on her waist and she thrust upward. The vampire gasped his last and looked downward. In the cleric's hands was a wooden stake, and both were gradually becoming more bloody as the object had pierced through the vampire's dead heart. "Told you I'm not into guys," the cleric grunted. But the male vampire wouldn't give in. By instinct, he leaned forward and tried to bite at the cleric's neck, but missed and bit her shoulder. He didn't even have the energy to make the bite more painful before he turned into dust. Argen grimaced and blew the dust off of her as she rose to her feet. She still felt a stinging sensation, however, and brushed the spot where the vampire's teeth went in. 'Damn. He bit anyway,' she realized. 'Not good. Not good at all.'

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:25:14 2018 Subject [02/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 2: Journey At a temple dedicated to her god Chislev, the cleric there thoroughly examined the bite mark and shook her head slowly. "I'm sorry, my student," she said, "but it is as you suspected. The bite was enough to pierce through the skin. You're infected." "What?!" The silver-haired cleric started to panic, but the older female grabbed her cheeks and placed a finger on her lips. "Be silent. All hope is not lost for you yet." "B-but..." Argen remembered where she was and spoke in a quieter yet no less unnerved tone. "Isn't vampirism... incurable?" "Not incurable. Very difficult to cure, but not incurable," the older cleric replied. Argen blinked several times as her cheeks were held and was left looking straight up at the other cleric's face. She was a Qualinesti elf with verdant green hair along with deep brown eyes. Her skin was darker than fair just like any other Qualinesti, but the tattoos than ran through her skin gave her more of an outlandish appeal. She stood more than a head taller than Argen, and her chest was just as large as the other cleric's. She had on some sort of hair ornament on her head that resembled a unicorn's horn: a most sacred object from the rarest of equine animals, a symbol of Chislev herself. 'I can't stop looking. Is this part of the effect of the vampirism? Stop it,' Argen told herself and shut her eyes. 'I am not attracted to--' "--are you listening to me, child?" the cleric asked, noticing that her patient was no longer paying attention. 'Why are her cheeks flushed like that? Don't tell me vampirism is messing with how she interacts with others.' "Y-yes, Mother Dinah," she replied as she tried to open her eyes and face her properly. But she was met with another cheek pinching. "How many times must I tell you," the taller female chided, "do not call me Mother! I'm not even old enough for that title. It's Sister Dinah," she stressed. "Y-yes! I'm sorry, Sister Dinah!" The green-haired elf let go of her cheeks. "Really, now... must you always be so troublesome, Argen? Let me tell you what you should do to cure yourself of this vampirism. The journey will not be easy, and the trials will be harsh. But are you willing to endure what you must in the name of Chislev?" Argen looked back at the older female seriously and nodded. "Yes, Sister. Please lend me your guidance."

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:26:42 2018 Subject [03/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 3: Stalker The silver-haired maiden looked at the map and the journey that her superior had clearly marked for her. The continent map that Dinah marked set a direct course from the shrine to the sacred waters of Crystalmir Lake placed right next to the city of Solace. Without a mount, it was to be at least a six-day journey. And it's not like she could have supported a mount, anyway. A soft purring and a rubbing on her legs caught her attention. Argen reached down to stroke her pet tiger's head. "I know, Sifnir. We'll get through this somehow." The white-furred tiger was not large enough to act as a mount, even for someone of Argen's size, but she was at least large and strong enough to act as a proper guardian for her. 'That's the last time I go out walking at night without Sifnir,' the cleric had chided herself. They continued across the expansive area known as the Solamnic Plains. As a crossroad linking with many different areas, the field was often one of high traffic, not only from the animals but also sentient travelers as well. But at the start of sunset, as they nearly finished crossing the plains, Sifnir began to growl and look around nervously. "Sifnir?" The cleric looked down at her pet's erratic behavior. "What's... wrong." She trailed off as she too glanced about and drew her mace. Multiple shadows were tailing them from the high grass. Although Argen couldn't quite sense them, she trusted that her white tiger's senses could, and did. "Come on out!" she shouted toward their pursuers. The cleric was nervous, however, and gripped her mace unevenly. She really didn't want to fight if it couldn't be helped; if it was a well-organized group of bandits, even with Sifnir, the silver-haired human knew she had little chance. But no sound returned. Sifnir began to relax after several minutes of standing in silence. "Shh... it's okay, Sif. I think they retreated for now." She turned away from the path that led to Estwilde. "Let's stop at Solanthus for the night, Sifnir. I don't feel good traveling this late at night by ourselves." The tiger grunted in agreement and followed her as they doubled back to a previously passed fork in the grassy road.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:27:58 2018 Subject [04/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 4: Fear 'Why am I... back here?' Argen stood outside the hidden temple's prayer room. She stared at the huge double doors for a long moment before she decided to push them open. As she did, she saw the familiar green-haired cleric standing in the center of the room, her position knelt in prayer. "Come in," she said and began to rise from her seated position, "I have been expecting... you." Her voice trailed off as she looked at the silver- haired cleric. "Wait. You're not Argen. Who are you?" 'What?' The smaller maiden's expression turned to one of alarm as she saw Dinah summon her blessed flail into her waiting hands. "S-Sister Dinah! It's me, Argen!" She held up her hands in surrender. "No, you're not! The real Argen doesn't look like a living corpse!" She pointed her free hand's finger at the other maiden. "See for yourself!" Argen turned around and looked at the mirror that suddenly appeared behind her. The image staring back at her was more decrepit, with pale skin and failing hair, and its mouth was more agape as it was missing teeth and even eyes. Argen screamed and the world around her shattered. --- Her form shot up from bed and she wildly looked around. 'That was... a dream? But that felt all too real...' Her hand unconsciously reached up to brush at the vampire's bite mark, and she winced at the lingering pain that remained. 'This... thing!' She buried her face in her rented inn pillow for a few seconds longer. 'I hate this. This vampirism is going to break me if I don't find the cure.'

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:29:18 2018 Subject [05/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 5: Visitor "Here it is... the Khalkist mountains, Sif." Argen reached down to gently stroke her pet tiger's head, though it was more for her own comfort than for Sifnir's. She looked down at her hand that stroked the tiger's fur. 'Still normal. I still have time. I'm not dead yet. Less than five days to go.' The northern mountain range was not so much mountain as it was a flat land path that cut through only the less steep portions of the impassable mountains themselves. It was still bereft of much trees, however, which meant less cover to sneak through. 'And with those unknown stalkers after me, having less cover isn't what I call ideal,' she brooded. As they climbed down the rocky terrain, sunset approached and the cleric groaned to herself. She rechecked her map. "There's an inn just before Nerakan territory, Sif. I'd rather not stay anywhere near Neraka itself, so we'll take our break there." The tiger gave a noncommittal grunt. In the middle of putting her map away, she shivered unconsciously and drew out her mace. 'Somebody is here. Is it those same stalkers following me?' She briefly glanced at Sifnir's reactions. The tiger looked confused and didn't seem to sense anything that the Chislev cleric was feeling right now. 'No, it's not. This is different, I'm the one sensing a presence first.' "Neraka? I highly recommend against that," a female voice cut into the air. This, Sifnir did hear and flexed into a ready stance. Argen glared at the path ahead of them. The sun had not completely fallen from the horizon, but the two clearly saw the shadows manifest into a single being ahead of them on the rocky road. "Hello there." "Who are you?" Argen held up her mace defensively. "Actually... that's probably a stupid question. You're another vampire, aren't you?" The woman standing several feet away from the two was indeed pale-skinned. She wore a long strapless black dress, and her hair and eyes were also just as black as her clothes. She stood at nearly six feet, quite tall for a former human. There were two small yet visible holes on her neck, most likely where she was bitten herself. At the very least, this vampire looked less hungry than the last. "Quite astute for a fresh vampire," she said with a smile. "Although you're not quite fully turned yet. Yes, I am a vampire. Millfilia, at your service." The pale female bowed gracefully. Sifnir growled and crouched into a low stance, ready to strike at any moment. Her master held out her hand to stay her pet's movement for the moment. "What do you want with me... Millfilia?" she asked cautiously.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:30:33 2018 Subject [06/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 6: Sympathy The fully awakened vampiress flipped her dark and messy hair back and smiled at the smaller girl. "I just wanted to thank you for getting rid of my ex-husband. He had this nasty habit of cheating, you know, and you did save me the trouble of getting rid of him myself." Argen rolled her eyes and remained on guard. "I hardly think that you came all this way just to thank me. You've been tailing me since the Solamnic Plains, haven't you?" "The plains?" She smirked down at the smaller female. "Actually, I've been following you long before that. As I said, I wanted to get rid of my husband myself, so I had been following him which led to you. But you took care of him... although that came with a price, I see." The female vampire stared straight at the point where the silver-haired cleric was bit. "I just thought I'd help ease the transition to the undead for you. Ansalon in general is pretty unkind to the dead, unless you already belong to an undead coven." Argen growled and shook her head. "How about no, thank you. I already have enough problems as it is. I don't plan to stay being a vampire, anyway." Millfilia clicked her tongue and shook her head. "You just don't understand, do you? Once you're bitten, there is no way out, ever." "Maybe for you," she countered, "but through my faith, I know there is another way." "Faith?" the vampiress echoed, and took a closer look at the smaller girl's belongings. She noticed the multi-colored feather addition that was attached to the girl's primary weapon. 'Something as obviously ugly and bordering on criminal for the fashion-minded could only be a follower of Chislev,' she brooded. Her once jovial and easygoing expression dropped into a flat-lipped serious look. "You don't understand. What you seek is not a true solution." "And why is that?" "It's because--" She narrowed her eyes and looked at something past the female and tiger's shoulders. "We'll talk later--after we deal with them." "Them?" She heard Sifnir's growling too late. A body burst out from the ground behind her and grabbed her. She saw the decayed and empty-eyed gaze of a zombie for an instant before it threw her over the rocky ledge.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:32:26 2018 Subject [07/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 7: Creeping The white tiger pounced and mauled at the zombie threatening her master, but it was too late. Argen screamed as she was hurled into the air, and had but seconds to process where she was being thrown into. 'All the way to the sharp rocks... this is going to hurt,' the cleric mused. She heard a loud whooshing sound and a pair of arms wrapped around her as she was caught in mid-air. 'What?' Millfilia smirked at her in the air as she adjusted their landing trajectory to the more flat ground under the high ledge Argen was thrown off of. "Told you I'm here to help," she said in a smooth tone. The silver-haired maiden blinked several times as they landed, and then started to squirm out of the vampiress's grip as she remembered the one left behind me. "Let go of me! Sifnir's in trouble!" The female vampire sighed and clicked her tongue. "You're just too troublesome of a princess," she chided and jumped directly back up to the ledge, much to the shock of the mortal cleric suddenly clinging on for dear life the moment the taller female started the inhuman leap. Sifnir gave a threatening roar to the other zombies that crawled from the ground to join in the ambush. She started to back away to the road's edge, but turned completely to notice her master carried by the undead female. Millfilia let go of the cleric and stepped toward the assaulting zombies. "Begone," she hissed, "she is mine." The lesser undead took the message clearly and retreated back the road deeper into the mountains. The vampiress sighed and stretched her arms. "Well, that was boring. They're pretty flimsy and weak-willed undead. Which makes you," she said as she glanced at the infected cleric, "all the more pitiful for letting them get the jump on you. You know you're going to see a lot more of those if you get anywhere near Nerakan territory, right?" "It doesn't matter," Argen said and knelt down to check on her pet tiger. 'Not wounded. Good.' "I started this journey, I have to finish it. But..." She cleared her throat and stood up after satisfied with seeing no obvious injuries on Sifnir. "Thanks for the assist there, lady Millfilia. My name is Argen." "Oh, please. You can drop the 'lady' business, I'm hardly anyone important." The vampiress made a dismissive gesture. "Well, if you're going to be this stubborn, be my guest. Just don't say I didn't warn you, Argen." The undead female made a casual salute and flipped into the air. Her body split into multiple motes of darkness and disappeared. 'I have a feeling that's not the last we'll be seeing of her...' Argen shook her head slowly and took a slow breath. "Come on, Sifnir. We need to make it to the inn on the map before night fully falls." --- At the inn, the male innkeeper at the desk tipped his brown hat toward Argen as she entered. "Evenin' miss. You Argen?" he asked as he peered at her appearance. "Ye sure fit th' description." "Yes," she replied slowly, already wary. 'Why does he know my name?' "Ah. Friend of yours popped by earlier and paid for your room and board. Tall, dark and pretty thing. You know her?" She sighed. 'She's being unnecessarily nosey...' "Yes," she replied. "Mm, good." The male stood up and handed her a red key. "Red door on your right. Make sure your pet there don't leave the room, and yer' responsible if he or she leaves any messes. We clear on the rules?" "Of course. Thanks," she said curtly and accepted the key. As she entered the room, she noticed several objects out of the ordinary that were neatly folded on her bed: two red condor cloaks along with a small note set on top of them. The note read: 'Just because you're stubborn doesn't mean you have to be stupid. At least have the sense to not draw attention to yourself in Nerakan lands.' The other cloak was smaller and meant to be pet-sized. 'Sargonnas cloaks... well, I guess we'd draw too much attention if they were Takhisis or Dragonarmy cloaks instead.' Argen smiled softly to herself, at least momentarily. 'Okay... so maybe not all vampires are the same.' But her smile faded as she looked out at the window and the clear, moon-filled sky. 'But that doesn't mean I have any intention on becoming one.'

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:34:22 2018 Subject [08/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 8: Prejudice She ran and ran, away from the shouting and the roaring of the angry mob that tailed her. The shadows of pitchforks cast by torches lit up the forest as Argen ran without pause. An arrow scraped past her leg, and Argen winced at the scratch the arrowhead made against it. It was made of blessed silver, and its very touch left tiny flames that she paused to beat down before it grew into a larger blaze. She kept going deeper into the unknown. But after nearly a minute of running, she stopped at the cliff edge that led into parts unseen. 'Trapped...' "There she is! We have her now!" Argen turned and found the mob of armed Palanthian villagers and guards, led by the followers of the hidden Chislev temple. In front of them stood a familiar green-haired woman, along with Argen's own pet tiger next to her. "It's over, you phantom," she scowled. "You will impersonate Argen no longer." "W-what? No! It's me! I'm still Argen!" The tiger growled, and the silver-haired woman winced and took a hesitant step back. "Lies!" the healer replied, "the real Argen would never let herself be turned like this. You killed her and took her flesh as your own, vampire... and now you will be struck down like the murderer that you are." A pained and tense look crossed over her features, and she turned around as she gestured toward the mob standing behind her. "Slay her," she said coldly. "Dina--" An arrow flew over the crowd and struck her between the eyes. --- Argen woke up in sweat and tears. She looked around in a panicked daze. 'A nightmare again... they're just getting worse. I wonder if it's because of the vampirism, or I'm that mentally weak.' By her side, Sifnir woke up and whimpered as she prodded over to her master. Argen flinched at first once she saw her, and then calmed down as she realized her pet tiger did not have the same killer look as she did in the dream. "Sif," she whimpered and hugged her tiger close to her. "I'm scared... I'm running out of time and the dreams won't stop." The feline mewled softly at first, but started to draw back and growl toward the window behind her master's head. "Sif?" Argen wondered, afraid of the aggressive posture her pet was assuming, but noticed something amiss as well and turned around. The shadowed figure behind the window departed, and she growled as she reached for her cloak and mace. "We have to go," she said grimly as she donned her cloak. 'Before more of those things come in the middle of the day.'

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:36:19 2018 Subject [09/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 9: Neraka Neraka: a city of true darkness. Surrounded by mountains on most sides, this is the one city held as a haven for all scum and villainy within Ansalon. Held with at least one garrison of the Dragonarmy, it was quite fortified and well-defended from any assault by the more law-abiding nations in the continent. It was not a city Argen was particularly looking forward to crossing, but she had little choice. And yet, thanks to the red condor cloaks of her not-so-mysterious benefactor, the cleric found that all she needed to do was avoid direct eye contact with any of the residents and they would leave her alone. Sifnir remained alert and on edge, barely calmed down by the periodic pettings when the two were alone in the multitude of avenues in the city. 'Okay,' the silver-haired cleric thought, 'just one more block south and...' She frowned as they saw that the south gate was experiencing a big hold-up. Two ogre guards along with an equally bulky and massive specimen of a man in merchant wear argued at the archway, and it was starting to attract a crowd. From the way the merchant and the guards were twitching and making motions to their weapons, along with the excited instigating of the crowd, it seemed inevitable that a fight was going to break out any moment. 'Not that way,' she groaned. 'There has to be some other way. It's even more dangerous, but I may have to get around through the Dragonarmy garrison. That's west, but... it's not like I have any better options.' Argen guided her nervous tiger through the western streets, which looked even more foreboding compared to the rest of the city. The same creepy sensation she felt back at northern Khalkist returned to her again. 'Is Millfilia still following me?' she wondered. 'Or...' Sifnir began to growl more loudly under her cloak. 'No,' Argen realized, 'this is a trap!' Within a narrow street, several figures in black cloaks stepped from the adjacent buildings. They all wore skull-shaped masks over their faces. "We have been waiting for you, chosen of Chemosh," one of them said. "Chemosh?" Argen hissed and reached for her mace. "I think you've mistaken me for someone else. Kindly step out of my way before I let loose my pet on you." "I'm afraid that'll be unnecessary. This is for your protection, Chosen," another said to the cleric's left. He signaled toward something behind her, and Argen heard a scuffling noise behind her. She immediately turned toward it, expecting something to deflect, but it was only a crow leaving its perch. She felt a sudden sting on the back of her neck. The smell of poison on the dart that hit her was plain to her senses. 'Oh no... this is a sleeping agent,' she realized, and weakly turned to her left as she saw Sifnir slump and fall from another dart that landed on her tiger's hind leg.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:37:42 2018 Subject [10/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 10: Darkness Argen woke up in darkness once more, but this felt too oppressive and stifling to be dismissed as a mere dream. 'What happened...? Oh... no, I remember. We were ambushed, and then...' Her eyes took several minutes to adjust to her new surroundings. She found herself completely bound and chained on both arms and legs. Her mace was nowhere to be found, as was Sifnir, but her clothes minus the gift cloak were still on her. She was in a prison cell somewhere, and she could barely see the stone walls from her position, let alone the cell door and the only obvious exit. Argen winced after testing her iron binds. 'No good. And I feel too drowsy to cast anything. What can I do...' After several minutes, she heard footsteps outside her cell. Three of the same skull-masked figures stepped inside. "Ah, you're awake. Perfect." Argen narrowed her eyes at the masked male who just spoke. "Who are you all? And what do you want with me?" Red eyes glowed from the skull mask. 'He's definitely a mage... possibly with enough talent to be a full-fledged necromancer,' Argen judged. "We are simple servants of the great god Chemosh," he introduced themselves, "and you have been anointed by our leader Orinthyrn to be his replacement. We only live to follow his last order that his Chosen survive to ascend and lead us." "Lead *you*? I refuse," the cleric spat. "I'm a servant of Mother Chislev and no other!" "And do you actually think you'll still have a connection with your inferior god," the cultist replied sharply, "once your transformation is complete? Do you believe anyone else in the living world will accept you for what you are?" "He forced that upon me! I didn't choose to be infected!" "None of us chose to be born, and yet, here we are," the male countered. "All we can do in our short and insignificant lives is play with the hand we are dealt with. You should have heard Lord Chemosh's whispers by now. Surely you've already seen the visions of the future he has shared with you?" "They're just illusions!" Argen seethes. "They're just bad dreams playing on my very fears! They are not the future!" She struggled against her binds on her arms, futile as it was. "Where is Sifnir?!" The cultist speaker folded his arms. "Ah, your tiger? Alive, for the moment. But, depending whether or not you cooperate with us, that may change at any time." He turned his back to the cleric. "You have two choices, Chosen. You can accept your fate and the destiny set before you, and your little pet will remain unharmed. Or you can choose to resist like the mouse that you are, and I promise we will serve your cat's ligaments as your next meal." Argen remained silent and grit her teeth as she glared daggers at the cultist. "The choice is yours," he said with a cruel laugh as he and his followers began to leave the room. "Do decide wisely." The door shut, leaving her alone with the eerie purple light that peeked through her cell's window.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:39:22 2018 Subject [11/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 11: Rebellion Even though Argen was an important prisoner, they did not leave a single bit of food or drink. And yet, she found it surprising that she did not go hungry or thirsty at all. 'But... something's wrong. It's like I... it's like I want something else now...' She heard a faint mewling in front of her. 'Sifnir? No... it can't be, it has to be an illusion.' But in front of her eyes, she saw the white tiger sitting on the floor and staring at her wordlessly. "Sifnir? What are you doing there? Help me get... down..." She began to drool as she kept looking at her. 'Why do I... feel like she looks so tantalizing, like I want to just catch her in my claws and--' The cleric thumped her head hard against the stone wall behind her. The illusion of her pet disappeared immediately. 'Stop it. I can't have these kinds of thoughts. I'm thinking like a vampire... no, I must not think of everyone as prey. I can't face them again if I keep having thoughts like this.' The wait was not only boring, but almost agonizing. She couldn't even tell how much time had passed since she was first captured. 'How long...? How long is Sifnir suffering from these same torturous conditions?' The magical lethargy had passed over her head, but Argen could not think of which spells would be appropriate at a time like this. 'Hmm... I can't use an attack spell. I'd likely hurt myself than break the chains if I try. What could I--' A faraway male scream broke her train of thought. 'What was that?' Argen strained to hear what was going on beyond her cell. Somewhere beyond, there was fighting erupting outside. 'What? Who is that...' Minutes later, a powerful force blew the doors of her cell open. The first to enter was a familiar white tiger. Her mouth and muzzle were coated in blood, as if she had been recently feasting on something--or someone. "S-Sifnir?!" Argen blinked repeatedly. 'Is this another mirage again? But it's not going away.' She shivered as she sensed another familiar presence following just behind her pet. "Huh. She knew where you were before I did." A certain pale vampire followed in the tiger's tracks. "So it was worth stopping by her cage first after all." The cleric's heart skipped a beat. "Millfilia...? How did you--" "We can talk later. Let's get you out of here first." She easily yanked the binds off of Argen's wrists and legs, and hoisted the cleric on her shoulder. "H-hey, don't carry me like this, it's really embarrasing. And my mace--" "Next room," the vampiress cut her off. "As I said, talk later. I know your limbs are pretty weak and delicate after hanging around for a whole day." "A whole day?" Argen sighed and remained quiet as she allowed herself to be carried around. Sifnir was no longer on edge around the vampiress, and was more content on keeping an eye on her ailing master. The cleric relaxed slightly, realizing that her tiger was indeed still alive.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:56:10 2018 Subject [12/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 12: Willful When Argen opened her eyes again, she noticed an unfamiliar ceiling above her head. 'Where am I now...?' It was still night time. She felt the surface under her fingers. 'A bed?' Her eyes started to adjust to the faint lighting. There was only a single lit candle on the other side of the room. Argen turned over and noticed Sifnir asleep near the door. 'There's Sifnir... but where is Millfilia?' The cleric felt a familiar tingling across her chest. 'Ah... I'm getting better at sensing her coming now. Here she comes.' The mentioned vampire returned into the room with a single slab of cooked meat on a plate along with a glass of water. "Oh, you're already awake. Good. This is Stone Rose, Argen," she said, already sensing the question in her eyes. "Stone Rose? W-we're here this quickly? I thought it'd be even longer of a journey." Argen rubbed her eyes. The vampiress was looking a little more healthy and human-like than when she first met her. 'Still pale, but... not so ragged and wild.' "Yeah. Thank your pet tiger for being able to keep up so easily. I was moving pretty fast, too." Millfilia began to shrug, and then narrowed her eyes at the other female. "I warned you about Neraka. What were you *thinking* trying to wander without a hint of stealth? Why didn't you just take a ship to sail to Solace faster?" Argen flinched and looked uncomfortably away from her. "B-but there are no ships that go directly there--" She cut herself off and turned to face her again. "How did you know that's my destination?" "I read your maps." The dark-haired woman glanced at the cleric's travel bag at a corner of the room. It was lying idle alongside her weapon. "So you really are a cleric of Chislev. There's only one reason why you'd be going that far out. You're trying to seek your god's favor at the so-called secret shrine under Crystalmir, aren't you?" The silver-haired female blinked. "How did you know about that? That isn't even marked on the maps." Millfilia met her gaze evenly. "I used to know another worshipper like you. So I've been there before--well, not *inside* but the terrain around it is pretty obvious to me. But anyway, don't avoid my first question." She folded her arms and faced the seated cleric on the bed. "Why didn't you just take a ship? There are ships that stop over at Haven or even that trash bin of a town the dwarves call Gully Roma. You wouldn't have to go through so much hassle taking the land route and barely cutting it close for--" She paused as she caught onto Argen's unconscious flinching each time she brought up the word 'ship'. 'Oh... oh, I see. I get it now.' A thin smile crept up the vampiress's face. "I see now. You're afraid of water, aren't you?"

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:57:44 2018 Subject [13/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 13: Temptation Argen's right hand flicked upward. A faint white glow gathered in her palm. She pointed it at the vampiress. "That's not funny, Millfilia." "Who said I thought it was funny?" "If you think it's not, then stop that giggling behind your hand," the smaller girl growls. The paler woman regained her composure and cleared her throat. "Right. Sorry about that," she replied, her amusement slipping as she reached over to rest a hand over Argen's. The silver-haired cleric narrowed her eyes but did not pull away from her touch. Instead, she merely withdrew the smiting spell in her other palm. "I nearly drowned when I was a child," she said while looking away toward the window. "That's all I'll say about it." "I see." Millfilia nodded but did not let go of the cleric's hand. "You do realize what part of the supposed purification process is, don't you? That you have to..." Argen winced but nodded slowly. "Yes. I have to breathe in the pure waters of the lake. In other words... drown myself." She shivered as she tried not to actively recall the experience that she just mentioned. "I'm scared... but I'm even more scared of ending up as one of the dead." The vampiress gave a brief squeeze of her hand. "You don't have to go through it, you know. If it scares you so much that you feel you're in danger of breaking, then don't do it." "No, I must." Argen looked back at her and took her hand away from Millfilia's this time. "If I don't, I'll lose everything I ever held dear. I'll become nothing more than a... a thing." She winced at her own words as she saw the vampiress look away in silence. "N-not that I think any less of you, Millfilia," she said quickly. "I mean, you've saved me so easily twice now with your powers now. I don't think you're... well... you know." Millfilia snorted and sat down on a stool facing away from the bed. She dangled her legs over the stool's edge. "Would becoming a vampire be that awful to you?" she asked in a low voice. Argen hesitated for a longer period before she finally uttered to her in a low voice. "Yes. I still have people left waiting for me. I can't just turn my back on them now." "I see." The pale-skinned lady stood up and walked to the window. The moons were not yet in high sanction. "I had nothing before I was turned--not even my own life. All I had were lies and bonds." She unconsciously rubbed her wrists. Argen remained silent as she understood the real meaning behind the gesture. "When I became like this, I gained new meaning in my life... a new freedom to celebrate. Well... not that much freedom at first. I had to kill my sire first--then I had true freedom. As with you, my own transformation wasn't a choice that I made myself. But I discovered so much thanks to this new state of life. It's a strange feeling, you know... to know that death is not necessarily the end of life in this world." The cleric remained respectfully silent until the vampiress was finished. 'But my circumstances are different,' Argen mused to herself, 'I have too much to lose if I give into vampirism.' "And what, exactly did you gain in exchange for your old life?" she asked instead. "What did I gain? Well... you've seen many of my benefits already, Argen." Millfilia turned to face the sitting cleric. "I move much faster than I ever have, and I've smashed many things with my bare hands that I could never have hoped to break while I was still human. As I said, Argen, I gained many meanings of freedom with this blessing. I can live however I please. That includes..." Her eyes gave a deep red shimmer as she suddenly straddled the healer's bed. Argen tried to blink, but couldn't bring herself to break out of her gaze. "That includes the freedom to love whomever I want," Millfilia concluded and leaned over for a deep kiss.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 14:59:01 2018 Subject [14/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 14: Desire As soon as Argen saw the vampiress's black eyes glow into a deep, Lunitari- like red, she understood almost immediately what the latter meant about being empowered. It was somehow enrapturing to see her express her will, if only because she herself had longed to be in that same position. 'Not in the position of student, but as Sister Dinah's equal,' she thought, unable to control herself as she began to lean forward in turn. 'Sister Dinah...' Instead of Millfilia, she imagined the green-haired cleric she had known for years of her life. 'I want to be... side by side with her. But I don't her to be on top all the time. Someday, I want to be the one to top her. And then--' Millfilia's eyes suddenly flashed in her senses and she instinctively pushed her away before her lips made contact. "N-no!" "Argen?" The white-haired cleric breathed heavily after breaking out of the vampiress's hypnotic eye contact. "Y-you... you can't," she uttered, "I have... I have someone else in my heart whom I love." Millfilia's eyes narrowed at her. 'This is the first time someone's fought back this much,' she muses. "Really? Then why is that person not here with you on this important journey?" she asked. "Because this journey is to prove my worth to her!" Though the vampiress was no longer focusing her gaze on her, Argen shut her eyes to stop any further attempts. "I'm just a student to her, but if I can handle my own issues without her, then I can prove to her that I can stand by her side, not just hide behind her! That's why I'm here only with Sif... if I can't do this much, then I have no reason to continue living." The vampiress's mood dropped and she slid off of the cleric's bed. She turned away as she grasped her hands in front of her, away from Argen's point of view. "You're too much like her," she muttered. "Who?" Argen tilted her head. 'Who is she talking about?' "Nothing," she said a little too quickly, and then gestured toward the inn room's table. "Anyway, start heading northwest in the morning. I need to go and prepare." "W-wait a minute. Can't we travel together?" the cleric asked before she could stop herself. 'I don't know why, but... the way she's starting to distance herself from me is too saddening to watch.' Millfilia gave a pointed glance and gestured toward her pale skin. "Vampire, remember? I can't be out during the day hours. Which means I can't protect you if you get in trouble while the sun is up. Watch yourself, Argen." She walked toward the door. "Now that you know about the servants of Chemosh, they won't make any pretenses toward stealth this time." "But Mill--" She shut the door before she could hear anymore. Argen stared at the door for a long while and then at her sleeping pet tiger. 'Sif's not on guard around her anymore...' The cleric looked back at the window. 'And why does she still want to be around me when she knows I can't return her feelings?'

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:00:20 2018 Subject [15/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 15: Judgment "Here it is, Sif... we need to be extra careful." As the cleric and the white tiger neared a specific fork in the mountainous road, Argen rechecked her map. "Here is where there's a stronghold held by goblins. They're supposedly in league with the draconians too. We need to not be seen." She drew out two bags of silvery herbs from her belt pouch. The female held out one to the tiger. "Here. Eat one of these, Sif." Sifnir wandered over as requested and munched on one of the herbs contained on her owner's hand. She made a face at the odd taste that accompanied the herbs' flavor, and then her body began to turn completely transparent. "Good. They work," she mused out loud and consumed the herbs herself. As her body began to also likewise change, she held out a hand as she applied the detection spells onto herself and her tiger. Their eyes tingled, and they blinked at each other as they came into view again. "Okay," she said quietly, "let's be very, very quiet. I don't know how long these herbs will last us." --- Passing the mountain road took a lot longer than Argen had anticipated. As walking through a rocky road made stealth a very difficult task, both tiger and human had crept very, very slowly as patrols of goblins and draconians passed around them along the pathway. By the time they were clear of the stronghold and both had stopped to rub their feet of blisters, the invisibility veil around them was starting to ripple already. The sun had shifted to a midday position. "And next is a mercenary camp. I don't have any more silvery herbs... so let's just be very quiet," she cautioned Sifnir. The beast nodded in return. But as they approached the looming walls of the mercenary camp, a black cloud began to form above them. Argen shivered and held her arms as a very strong tingle passed through her senses. 'That's a very strong force of magic... something's wrong!' Far ahead of them, the gates slammed opened as all manner of hobgoblins, goblins and even some draconians began to file out into the main road ahead of them to the north. 'Oh no... there's only one reason I would have been detected like this. Chemosh...!' Sifnir suddenly gave a warning yelp and leapt forward in front of her master. A barbed arrow shot from one of the camp's watchtowers and sailed toward the cleric. It gave a loud whine as it flew through the air and pierced through the heart of the white tiger the moment she leapt into the shot. Argen's eyes dilated as she witnessed the scene before her eyes. "SIFNIR!!"

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:01:41 2018 Subject [16/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 16: Stand The giant detachment of mercenaries began to close in on the cleric, but she was unaware of the impending danger. Instead, Argen knelt and examined the wound as best as she could. "I won't let you die, Sifnir! Not when we're so close!" She smelled something foreign emanating from the arrow. 'Poisoned. I have to do something about that first before I can properly mend her.' The cleric held out her hands over the twitching tiger's body and began to focus her magic. But the energies could not push against the poison that flowed through the animal's veins. 'Think, Argen! What could I--' "Don't even bother," a male voice cut into the air. From motes of darkness, a man with a bow manifested. Though he wore the garb of the mercenary encampment that he belonged to, the symbol of Chemosh glowed brightly upon his exposed forehead--a definite sign of possession. "That poison's strong enough to down even a Baaz draconian. Even if I happened to have missed its vitals, your feeble pet doesn't stand a chance against that poison. It is dead. Accept it, just as you must accept your own fate as a chosen of Orinthyrn." Argen knew that tone of voice. It was a level of smugness that she couldn't forget anytime soon. "You again," she seethed as she looked up at the possessed man. "I'll never submit to you. What gives you the right to choose my fate as you please?" "I did not choose your fate. It is my god Chemosh that chose it," the cultist replied. "My mission is only to convey his will, and that is to enforce the edict of our leader Orinthyrn. And his edict WILL be done." The footsteps of the other mercenaries were getting closer. Argen felt them approaching. Her hands trembled as the situation grew more hopeless. 'Sifnir... Dinah...' "Renounce your old faith," the cultist commanded through the voice of the mercenary archer, "and submit your life and your will to Chemosh, and your suffering will end all at once. Resist, and I will have to prolong it until your transformation is complete." It was still midday. There would be no miraculous save from Millfilia this time, Argen knew. She stood up from Sifnir's limp body. Her vision grew misty as her eyes were blinded with tears. "I will NEVER," she vowed in a loud and clarion call, "surrender my faith!" She poured all of her spiritual power into an unnatural beastly howl at the top of her lungs. The approaching mercenary detachment brought their hands to their ears as the resulting power emitted a force so great it blew their war helmets off of their heads. And after fifteen seconds of the inhuman howl, a disturbing silence held over the lowland road. Nothing had seemed to happen, except for Argen slumping onto her knees after that exudence of divine power. "Have it your way," the possessed archer claimed and pointed his finger at the cleric. "Seize her!"

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:02:59 2018 Subject [17/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 17: Freedom When the mercenary band began to charge, their battle cries soon became drowned out by an even louder sound. They all stopped and paused to listen as they registered what it was. From the west, the roars of various forest animals from the neighboring Qualinost territory permeated the skies. "What?!" The possessed archer immediately took to high ground as a wave of bears, badgers, bees and other animals swarmed in on his fellow controlled mercenaries. The animal cries soon became intermingled with the pained death moans of the hobgoblins and the other warriors. The archer grimaced as he saw the carnage from his vantage point. "You have chosen to prolong your pain. How foolish," he uttered, no longer fazed by the death of his pawns and reached back for another arrow. The tip of the arrowhead glowed a deathly black, tainted by Chemosh's blessing. "Then as you wish. Suffer." He fired the first shot. The once-inert cleric suddenly brought up her mace and deflected the arrow. The projectile snapped in two. The archer spit to the side and reached back for another arrow, only to find absolutely nothing in his grasp, followed by a feeling of lightness on his back. "What--" He turned behind him to find a pale vampiress with his quiver of arrows, wagging her finger at him. She was veiled in a dark cloak, which was barely holding the sun at bay. "Lady Millfilia, why?!" Instead of answering, she merely pointed to right behind the archer. The mercenary turned and saw the shining end of a mace just moments before it impacted on his face. Argen howled with indignation and continued savagely beating the mercenary long after he had expired from her first swing. In the middle of her swings, however, she felt a hand grasp her wrist, and saw Millfilia staring sternly at her. "It's over," she said, "you can--" The silver-haired cleric growled and pushed her down. The vampiress hissed and realized there was still something left to beat out of her. She dodged the next mace swing and slapped the cleric hard on her cheek. Argen blinked multiple times and slowly registered the slaughter that had just occurred in the last few minutes. And then she cried. She cried and didn't stop, long after relative silence began to fill the air once the vengeful animals had done their work.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:05:18 2018 Subject [18/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 18: Decision It was nightfall by the time the two reached the underbelly of Solace and the lake the city had held. Miles south of the city borders, down the road, a single grave marker had been haphazardly constructed, adorned only with a silver bell ornament that had once been within Argen's hair. The silver cleric was in no mood for talking until the lake was within sight. Once they reached it, the somber and tiny girl faced the taller female. "That was really reckless of you coming in the daytime," the cleric admonished and took Millfilia's hand to show the burn marks that lingered from the sun. "You were in pain. Couldn't ignore that," the vampiress replied, "even if it did mean a scorching time for awhile. I'm just sorry I couldn't make it any sooner." Argen slowly shook her head and tried not to think about the implications on what she said. "Not that I'm ungrateful for your help... but those cultists are trying to accomplish the same thing as you are. So why are you against them?" "The same?" Millfilia wrinkled her nose at the cleric of Chislev. "Please. I'm not at all about taking away freedom of choice just to see vampirism through. If you want to turn, it should be your choice to make, not someone else's. I never had that freedom of choice, so I don't take for granted how precious that choice is. And I don't respect anyone who tries to strip that freedom of choice--especially my ex's followers." A smile briefly graced the smaller girl's face. "Thank you," she uttered. "I haven't even dried my tears since Sifnir's passing, but... here I am. I shouldn't be moving forward like this so quickly, but... I can't waste the sacrifice that she made for me." She turned her gaze to Crystalmir itself. "So the shrine..." " somewhere underwater. I can take you to its entrance," the vampiress said almost listlessly, avoiding the other's gaze. "But whether or not you ultimately step through is your call." She offered the cleric her hand. "Do you have anything to breathe underwater?" "I have the breathing spell, but..." Argen squirmed as she finished her reply. "Swimming is well beyond me." "Then allow me." After allowing a moment to apply the water breathing spell, Millfilia brought the smaller girl close to her and guided her into the lake. Argen shut her eyes and squirmed slightly, fighting against every urge to thrash and panic as she remembered her previous fear. She did not open her eyes against until the sensation of water in her skin abated, and natural air filled her nostrils again. "We're here." It was a small cavern room with a set of stone doors on the other side. A green and yellow barrier was set in front of the portal. Argen began to take a step, but found the other female's hand on her shoulder. "I'll ask you one last time. Are you sure you want to go through with your choice?" The cleric shut her eyes as she considered what she had lost and gained in the past six days. She took a slow breath as she remembered the warmth of the past, the warmth she had just lost and the warmth that the vampiress was offering to her. But as much as she attempted to envision Millfilia as part of her future, the image of the green-haired mentor won out. She opened her eyes with full clarity of her decision. "Yes."

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:13:01 2018 Subject [19/19] Nightmares of the Moons

Part 19: Choice "I see. You made your choice long before the marking even happened. She must be this important to you if you're willing to shatter yourself this much for her. And she knows nothing of this cruelty she herself inflicted on you for setting you on this path..." The vampiress clicked her tongue. "You would have made an ideal mate. I'm just glad I got to know the human you." Her smile began to slip from her face as she stepped back and did her last casual salute toward the cleric. "Well... it's been an honor, Argen. Enjoy the last moments of your human life." "What? What do you mean by that?" The cleric began to reach out for her, but the pale lady dispersed into motes and blended into the twilight sky. "Millfilia!" But there was no response. Argen's face briefly twisted into one of doubt and pain as she recalled the sorrowful expression the vampiress had left her with. 'She gave so much and I gave nothing in return...' For a moment, she doubted the necessity of this level of sacrifice for her own selfish whims. The cleric pushed the doors open, revealing a smaller room. The room held but only a single circular pool that radiated with divine energy. It was unnaturally pure and clear, and she could see her reflection on its surface as she approached it. And yet, despite how clear it was, Argen could not see the bottom of the pool. She took several uncertain steps into the pool of sacred water. Her limbs trembled each time the surface rose up quickly past her ankles, her knees and then her waist. 'Sister Dinah...' Argen gulped and forced herself to recall her other fears to help squelch this fear. 'No. I don't want to be left behind again. I don't want to be left unable to see her again. I must...' The water rose above her nose and then her forehead. 'I must...!' The last of her air began to leave her lungs. Argen's vision faded into darkness. --- The feeling of drowning vanished the moment she stopped thinking about it. As soon as she opened her eyes, she noticed she was breathing normally. 'Fresh air... wait, am I outside?' Argen noticed she was back at the surface of Crystalmir. She began to pad toward the lake's surface... and noticed something terribly wrong. The reflection she saw was not of her own face, but the face of a silver-scaled horse. She looked at her hands. But they were no longer hands, they were hooves. A horse's loud whinnies cut through the night sky.

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:24:59 2018 Subject [20/19] Nightmares of the Moons - EXTRA

Epilogue I: Mare of the Moons [OOC: This is *not* part of the main story! Because it'd alter the entire genre of the story if it is. This is just supplemental material to properly tie certain plot points together. I rather hate leaving stories incomplete, but adding this to the canon would be totally non-horror and against the rules. Thus, don't think of it as a main entry, but bonus material. :) ] Inside the hidden temple to Chislev in northern Ansalon, Dinah looked up at the giant statue of her god and contemplated her pupil's progress. 'I wonder if she had succeeded... I have not sensed any ripples in the fabric of the earth ever since over a week ago.' There was a knock from the huge double doors. "{oSister Moonstar? We caught this strange animal attempting to break into the temple. What should we do with it?" The green-haired cleric walked over to the doors and opened them. "What strange anim--" She suddenly trailed off as she saw exactly what her followers had caged. Dinah's followers saw her expression darken immediately. The last time someone had angered her like that was when someone was caught slaughtering cats right outside temple grounds. "Bring her inside," she ordered in her strong, authoritative voice, "and seal the doors to the inner chambers. No one is to interrupt us until I say otherwise. Understand?" "{oY-yes, Sister." '{oHer?' the others wondered, but did not dare question her orders and hauled the cage to the center of the prayer room. They tried not to look at her piercing and serious look, and left her be with the creature alone. The older maiden peered deep into the silent creature's eyes. It was a large horse-like creature with dark mercury-colored scales instead of fur, and it bore a mane that was far lighter and silver-colored compared to the rest of its body. Dinah remained silent for a long moment as she considered the creature, and then noticed it was carrying something in its mouth. It was the feathered end of a staff belonging to a follower of Chislev. 'There's no mistake. She is...' The very air warped around Dinah's face as she changed her tone to speak in the animal tongue. -Argen?-

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:26:55 2018 Subject [21/19] Nightmares of the Moons - EXTRA

-You... you know me?- The silver equine-like creature's eyes even had the same green shine as her human form did. -S-Sister... I'm...- -Shh. Do not speak.- The Qualinesti opened the cage and guided the creature out of it. She gently stroked the creature's muzzle. -If you are like this, that that means Chislev has truly blessed you. Your journey was a success.- -What? You knew this would happen?- Confusion and a hint of anger flickered in the once-human's eyes. -Yes. Or at least, I had hoped it would. This is what happens to everyone truly gifted by Her graces. They are given a trial to overcome, and they are granted her ultimate gift. You no longer suffer through vampirism, correct?- The equine let out a horse-like sigh from her mouth. -That's true, but... now look at me, Sister Dinah. I'm not human anymore. And I can't... I can't go back. I'm all alone like this. I lost Sifnir in the journey, Sister. Am I going to stay like this forever?- The elf's eyes flickered with a strange glow. -No, Argen. You're just not yet used to the full potential of your new body. When you are more learned in your powers, you can change back and forth to and from your beast form as you will.- -But... how?- Argen's horse-like tail slowly swished. -How do you know all of this?- -I'm your master, Argen. I know everything,- the elf replied with a wink. -Also... ten years before you joined my enclave, I too went through something similar. And now...- Dinah stepped back from her and threw aside her loose robe, leaving her in a very loose-fitting white gown underneath. Argen sputtered, but was more taken aback as the other female suddenly glowed white and slid through the rest of her clothing. The light around the cleric changed and morphed into a beast form that was very similar to hers--except her beast form was several inches larger, and she had different colorations to her scales and mane. -You and I are sacred beasts, charged by Chislev herself to cleanse the lands and the people from corruption. And you're not alone, Argen,- the other mare continued in the beast tongue. -I am here, and I'll always be right here with you.-

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:28:24 2018 Subject [22/19] Nightmares of the Moons - EXTRA

Argen's staff dropped from her mouth and she skittered back a step as the larger equine drew closer. -S-Sister...?- -I know you've been looking at me for a long time. You think I wouldn't recognize those hungry and longing eyes you've been showing me since we met, my pupil? Have you already forgotten Chislev's first lessons, Argen?- Dinah padded closer as Argen backed away, but she missed her footing and she ended up on her rear. The silver beast recognized how the older woman's aura was, at this moment, resembling very much like that female vampire's. 'Not evil, but... full of passion and something else that I've never seen in her before.' -Hide nothing from nature and ourselves. Let your inner beast define express itself and define what you truly are.- -N-no, I... I...- Argen shook her head, unable to move her new equine legs or look away. -I-I thought that was just part of the whole vampirism thing, being attracted to you like just before the journey. I mean... I-I can't. W-wouldn't you be disgusted, anyway, for two women to be attracted to each other... like 'that'?- She winced as Dinah's hooves stomped down on both sides of her. -Did you just assume my feelings in the matter, Argen?- The smaller equine shook her head. -In another time,- Dinah admitted as she looked down at the the silver beast, -I would have laughed and not even considered the question. But beasts aren't bothered by the discriminations and social stigmas that people put on themselves and on each other. They know better than to buy into those socially enforced concepts like that. Mother Chislev was right: beasts are truly more honest and well-meaning creatures than people currently are. I learned as much...- The larger equine put a hoof against her upper chest briefly where her heart was beating underneath. -...when I became this. You're a beast too now, Argen. Confess. Say those words you've been meaning to say to me.-

Author: Argen Date: Mon Oct 1 15:30:17 2018 Subject [23/19] Nightmares of the Moons - EXTRA

The silver equine's hooves and legs shook as she debated internally how to respond to her senior's words. 'If she knows, then what's the point of confessing? Or maybe she just wants to me to be more proactive about my emotions like... like Millfilia?' As Argen opened her mouth to speak, something in her mentor's eyes flickered and she drew away. -I'm... I'm sorry. I remembered just now that you said you lost Sifnir. I know you really doted on her... so this isn't the proper time for me to spout this kind of talk while you're still grieving.- The larger equine's animal face became more pained, and Argen recognized the emotions underneath the bestial face. -Please just forget what I said and...- Argen suddenly sat up on her hind and kicked the larger scaled equine onto the ground. Before Dinah could react, her student climbed over her and placed a hoof on the other's mercury-colored and scaly chest. -You're always so damn pushy, Sister,- she growled, -so you don't have any right to dictate my feelings. Who said I'm still grieving? I already finished drying my tears for Sifnir long ago. I know... she wouldn't like me mourning for her forever. I also know...- She applied harder pressure on the larger equine's chest, although it wasn't leaving a dent on her tougher scales. -I also know that I don't want this hole in my heart to get any wider. So if you want me to say it, then I will. I love you, Sister--as more than just a mentor. There. Are you happy now?- -Argen...- Dinah looked up at the smaller equine. She winced as she saw Argen no longer holding back her tears. -I had nightmares,- she continued, -every night since the day I was bitten. I was scared you'd hate me and kill me if I failed. Many times I was tempted to just give up... I was even helped by a vampiress who was friendly to me! And vampires aren't usually the friendly kind unless they want something... but she sacrificed so much just to see my quest through!- Her hooves thumped harder against Dinah's scales, but the latter female dared not move. -And I rejected her welcome just for the gamble Mother Chislev laid out for me. I even fought against my own fear of water... because I was even more scared of the consequences those nightmares kept showing me! I can endure the waves of zombies that kept trying to stop me... I can endure those rising waters again. But I can't endure losing another person important to me again.- The silver creature climbed off of the larger sacred equine and turned away as she breathed heavily. Her heart raced several miles per second, and the strain felt even more painful in her new body. Dinah sat back up and nuzzled her side. -I should have gone with you,- she began to say, -if I knew the journey would leave you this fragile. When I took my own trial, I was left alone too. For that, I am very sorry. You certainly have grown in these two weeks... probably a little too fast, and your heart can't take much more of it.- The larger equine's horns briefly shone as Dinah emitted an aura of warmth. -I can heal all sorts of diseases... but heartache is a whole different matter. It will take time... but I promise I won't leave you alone again, Argen. This time, our relationship won't be as mentor as student... but as equals.- The warmth Dinah emitted, the other felt, had to be her way of hugging her in her divine beast form. -Equals...- the silver beast brooded. She turned fully to face the green stone mare and cupped her muzzle between her hooves. -Yes. I... I would like that.- --- They say that on certain nights, when either Solinari or Lunitari are at their peak, two special mares appear bathed under the moons' light, and with a single tap of their hooves, barrens become lively grasslands and the very snow melts before their very footsteps. These two mares were distinct in appearance and demeanor, and yet acted as if parts of a whole. One purified the skies and gave the ground new warmth, and the other cleansed the ground itself as well as provide new water to further nurture the earth. And with the energies of both, even plagued and dying men suddenly become filled with new fervor and life. Thus, the tale of the night mares under the moons spread far and wide.

Author: Argen Date: Tue Apr 30 21:10:05 2019 Subject Over the Eclipse - Purifiers [I]

"Here it is... the dead tree. According to Solace's authorities, it's just one of many hives of banditry now." "Yes, but... is it really supposed to look like this, Dinah?" She took her eyes off of the region map and surveyed the area along with her. Sure enough, the tree was huge, with branches large enough to support the small tents pitched on the higher levels. However, as they approached closer, they sensed something was amiss. The camp on the ground floor was all but abandoned. There were several sets of cages, carts and campfires that had been left unattended and unoccupied. Many of them were even knocked down, suggesting a struggle of some sort. And yet, there were no corpses left anywhere on the ground to show for it. "This wasn't a raid or a prison break within the camp," Argen surmised. Dinah rolled her eyes. "Of course it wasn't. Look there." She pointed at the hollow tree just west of the camp. Its entrance was completely swarmed with spider webbing. "This very well could have been a result of spiders making their new home here. If spiders did this naturally, then we really have no reason to investigate. Besides..." The older druid shrugged. "Less bandits among the general populace benefits everyone." "I suppose--" But Argen trailed off immediately as she heard a groan coming from the webbed entrance. A rotting hand started to claw its way out from the spider silk.

Author: Argen Date: Tue Apr 30 21:11:32 2019 Subject Over the Eclipse - Purifiers [II]

A man with barely intact black hair stumbled out from the webs and fell face-down onto the dirt. "A survivor?" Dinah wondered as she glanced at the man. Whatever clothing he wore was torn to near shred aside from the waist downward. His skin was quite yellow as if suffering from a deep case of jaundice, but parts of his flesh were decaying like a zombie's. The taller druid began for reach for him, but stopped and drew back as the male rolled over onto his back from his own strength. "I... don't believe spiders contain poisons or diseases that could do this to a human." The man was dying and could barely open his mouth as he looked up at the two women standing over him. He weakly pointed his rotting hand toward the entrance and shook his head slowly as if to warn them not to enter. Then his head and hand fell limp. Argen flattened her lips and slowly drew back from the male. "He's dead. Whatever this disease is, it's progressed too far for us to help him now. However..." She glared at the dark entrance to the cave the man spent all of his strength clawing out of. "We can still find out what's going on. If this is a result of malignant energies inside, then it's our duty as purifiers to cleanse this mess, right?" The darker-skinned druid narrowed her eyes at her former student-now partner. "Are you certain this is a good idea? This is a big risk you're taking. You saw the man too, didn't you? This is not a normal pestilence we're dealing with." "We can't make assumptions based on the outside evidence alone. There's still a chance that we can purify the problem at the source," the silver-haired female replied. "That man was already dying, but that doesn't mean everyone else can't be saved." Dinah flattened her lips as she followed the shorter female into the tree. The opening of the hollow tree was nearly entirely covered in webbing. 'I have a really bad feeling about this gamble. The energy of the creatures here feels... abnormal.'

Author: Argen Date: Tue Apr 30 21:12:49 2019 Subject Over the Eclipse - Purifiers [III]

As the druids expected to see, the inside of the cave was filled with more of the same webbing throughout the walls and many spots on the floor. However, they saw signs of tracks belonging to something else trodding within the giant tree. Those new tracks didn't resemble a spider's at all. Argen glanced around her surroundings as they searched the tree. She found no signs of cocoons along the walls. 'Spiders aren't usually systematic on where they keep their prey or lay eggs for their young...' Dinah frowned as she too took notice of the lack of telltale signs of spiders actually making their home within the tree. "This really doesn't seem like any swarm of spiders could have done this by themselves. It's too... organized. They must have been guided by something or someone. Also... where have all the bodies gone?" "Maybe there?" Argen pointed toward a giant hole bored through the center of the hollowed out tree, almost thirty feet in diameter. A huge amount of thick web covered a majority of the hole. "It's a good place to start searching as any." Dinah knelt down and drew a small knife. She began slicing at the webs around the edge of the hole. "Can you handle the other side, Argen?" The smaller druid began circling around to the opposite end of the covered home. "Yes, I'll need a moment. At least these webs aren't that thick--" Argen winced as her head pounded like crazy. Something was drawing near, but with the pain overtaking her senses, she couldn't see where... until it was too late. She peered behind Dinah and noticed a large shadow creeping up behind her. "Dinah!" she shouted and pointed over the taller druid's shoulder. As soon as the green-haired druid turned around, a long spider leg knocked her over the edge of the pit. Argen winced as another spurt of pain flowed through her temples. She tried to raise her right hand to cast, but something else slammed into her from behind into the pit of webs along with Dinah.

Author: Argen Date: Tue Apr 30 21:13:59 2019 Subject Over the Eclipse - Purifiers [IV]

'It's dark... a little too dark. I'm still breathing... wait, where am I?' Argen opened her eyes and found herself suspended off the ground from multiple layers of webbing. She was covered from the neck down in the substance. She glanced over to her left. Her partner was also coming into consciousness. There was little she could see of the room she was in. All around her was webbing as far as she could see. "Dinah," she said in a hoarse voice, "are you alright?" The green-haired Qualinesti winced and attempted moving her limbs, but she couldn't break through the cocoon-like veil around her limbs. "I'm far from alright," she said with a grim expression, "but I'm breathing." Argen bit her lip as she looked around herself. The hole they had fell through was covered in webbing. 'Doesn't seem like we can get out the way we came easily...' "So you're the new meals who strolled in through our front door," a female voice spoke from the shadow. What emerged from the darkness was something neither druid expected. The top half was certainly that of a Silvanesti female, yet the bottom half was that of a huge spider creature. She had multiple rounded eyes above her 'normal' pair. "Well, can't say that you two have much meat in you. But you'll certainly do for my purposes anyway," she crooned. "Who... what are you?"

Author: Argen Date: Tue Apr 30 21:15:54 2019 Subject Over the Eclipse - Purifiers [V]

"Hm... me? Even I'm not completely certain. What I am certain..." The elf walked up to the webbed duo and cupped the shorter druid's chin. " that I am your better," she finished with a smug grin. "I have been chosen by my lord to initiate a grand project the likes of which mortals like you have never seen." Dinah grunted as she narrowed her eyes at the female below her. "What project?" The spider woman smiled and gestured to multiple figures behind her. "Rather than tell you... let me show you the fruits of our research. After all, very soon, you two will be just like them." All sorts of human-sized figures stepped into their view. 'Wait, they're not undead but... something looks very wrong with them,' Argen assessed. All of them had sickly yellow skin, but their flesh was even more disfigured and rotten than the man whom they met at the entrance. Their arms were warped and their fingers had grown exponentially until they were like claws. Facing them up-close, both druids shivered as their sensed some strange malignant energy that pervaded them all. The way their skin was malformed and the way some of them had heads pushed aside to make way for entirely foreign appendages did not mark them as undead at all. 'They're diseased... but what kind of disease can cause mutations like this?' "You're... you're a cursed follower of Morgion," Dinah deduced. "So you're a member of the evil Shadow cult." "Oh, not yet I am. But once their diviners hear of our illustrious continental-wide project, I'm sure they will induct us all into the fold quite handily." The spider woman smiled darkly at them. "'Our'? I don't sense any other living being here," Argen noted. "Please. This operation goes beyond just me. There are others stationed around Ansalon making preparations and conducting experiments just like I am. We will all be rewarded for our services once Shadow takes notice of us, I am sure. But you'll see for yourself..." The arachnid woman crouched down and picked up one of the smaller multi-legged creatures. The way that its tentacled limbs swayed had it resemble some sort of parasitic creature. "...once you feel our new pestilence first-hand. Come into the fold and join the Eclipse."

Author: Argen Date: Tue Apr 30 21:16:59 2019 Subject Over the Eclipse - Purifiers [VI]

Argen shut her eyes and felt the center of her magic. "There's only one problem with your little plan, cultist." "Oh? And that is?" Her magical aura flared up to shine bright silver. "We're purifiers. We live to cleanse filth like you!" "What?!" The infection-spreading creature popped in the spider woman's hands as soon as her aura touched it. Argen snapped the bonds around her as she morphed into her silver-scaled beast form. The half-spider skittered back once the equine creature landed onto solid ground. The sacred creature blew out a white stream of air toward her partner. The air turned into white flame and burned the webbing off the druid's limbs easily, yet the flames did not harm Dinah herself. :You have to warn Solace about this threat, Dinah! Go now!: "What?" Once she also landed, Dinah clenched her teeth as she scrubbed the remaining webbing off of her flesh before she looked at the divine beast. "I am NOT leaving you to fight by yourself!" :You don't understand! This infestation goes beyond both of us,: Argen insisted. :Someone needs to warn Solace of this pandemic threat before it gets any worse. Wiping out this place won't end it by itself. Don't worry.: She flattened her hooves against the rooted ground. :I have no intention on dying here today. I'm just going to make sure this part of their grand scheme goes up in flames.: "You will do no such thing, 'purifier.' Swarm them now!" the half-spider declared.

Author: Argen Date: Tue Apr 30 21:18:03 2019 Subject Over the Eclipse - Purifiers [VII]

The mutated humans all jumped toward Dinah at once. The Qualinesti elf yelled as she shone within a light as bright as her partner's. The light pushed back the swarm as she too morphed into her beast form. Her stone scales were a bright jade green unlike Argen's. She pointed her horn upward and shot a streak of green fire at the ceiling. It ate threw the webbing, and the creature made a giant leap through the hole that remained. Most of the mutants began scaling the dome, but as they drew near the now web-less opening, Argen howled into the air. The rooted walls of the tree began sewing the hole shut. Through the ring of silver fire that surrounded her, she glared at the hateful spider woman. :I told you,: she mentally intoned, :none of you are leaving this tree alive. Your corruption will be purged, here and now.: The arachnid-elf hybrid hissed loudly and shouted a command in her native language. The remnants of the diseased army began to form a wide circle around the sacred beast. "You actually think you can purge us by yourself? There are twenty of us and only one of you." :Yes,: the divine beast's thoughts echoed, :the odds are quite unfair, aren't they?: She stamped her hooves onto the ground and her aura grew brighter. :You should have brought more minions.:

The Storytellers of Ansalon, The DragonLance MUD

Astinus points to the massive wall of books behind him and bids you to make a selection.

Authors: All|A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z

Astinus sighs as he recants 'We saved 855 books from Ansalon from before the great Cataclysm through today.'