The Great Library of Palanthas

An Aesthetic shows you to a small reading room.

Stories of Ansalon from the view of Khariif.

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 worn book on the table in front of you.
You note the spine bears the word 'Khariif' scribed in dark red ink.

Author:    Khariif        
Date:      Fri Oct  4 16:50:42 2013
Subject     Change of Command

"You sent for me, commander?" said Khariif with a sneer of disdain on his face. The torches in sconces on the wall never provided enough light for Commander Dirgel to see the faces of those who entered his chamber. "Too much faith in those around him, for one who has no faith in his Queen, " thought Khariif. Khariif saluted sharply and took a few steps into Dirgel's chamber, not waiting for his commander's reply. "Yes, uth Creditus, " said Dirgel. Dirgel assumed Khariif hated being called by his Solamnic family name, which he kept despite being little more than a bastard, but to Khariif, it was a reminder of the deeds he had done with Her guidance: that he was now the last of the uth Creditus line, the estate no doubt divied up between feuding Solamnic families. "Have a seat, you have been quite busy." "I prefer to stand, commander. I feel that sitting with such pressing matters looming is a waste of time, " Khariif said, standing before Dirgel and looking down on the human with a trace of the sneer he had entered with. Dirgel looked up at Khariif, unsure if those last words were meant as a taunt. "You have done well recruiting the scum in this area to the armies and training them into much more than they were. Furthermore, you served me well by proving these rumors of a new emperor true and showed initiative by pledging our loyalty. I have been trying to think of a suitable reward." "She has already promised me my reward, Dirgel, though it seems she did not also make you privvy to such information, " Khariif stated boldly, continuing to look down on Dirgel. Dirgel's expression changed to anger. "Know your place, uth Creditus! I am your commander and you will address me as such." Dirgel motioned to the door with his gloved hand. "Should I call my guards in to punish you for your disobedience?" Khariif grinned wrly and said, "You wouldn't dare, Dirgel. The only reason you have held on this long is because of me. Do you forget who trained the guards standing outside your doors? They were trained for Her service, not yours, and She knows you have forgotten that." Dirgel face pinched up as he sputtered "yo.. you.. you Solamnic BASTARD! How DARE you!? GUARDS! Take uth Creditus away from me immediately, send him to work down below!" Two large hobgoblins stepped into the room, their faces stone. Khariif, with a wave of his fingers, motioned them to stand down. Dirgel stood up quickly fumbling for his sword. "Do not stand, Dirgel, it is more of a death then you deserve, " said Khariif, drawing his own sword from its scabard. With his other hand, Khariif grabbed the pendant around his neck. It glowed briefly in an unholy darkness; all colors, but none. Dirgel squealed loudly and dropped his sword. The smell of burnt flesh rose from the red-hot hilt. Dirgel looked up in alarm to see Khariif pointing at him. Dirgel felt his body stiffen up, unable to move, but still seeing. "You can thank Her for this, " Khariif said smiling maliciously. "I promise, you will feel everything, but won't be able to so much as scream." Khariif could see the panic in Dirgel's eyes as they flashed to the guards by the door, who simply looked on smiling. His eyes flashed back to Khariif in time to see the Solamnic blade pierce his gut, spilling out his entrails. Khariif grabbed the former commander's head and turned it down to look at his own innards. "You will be able to move again.. but by then you will be too close to death to notice, " said Khariif, drawing his sword slowly down Dirgel's thigh... * * * * * * * * As Khariif cleaned off his sword, the two guards approached him. One knelt down, ready to move the body. "Leave it, " said Khariif, "it will serve as a warning to my replacement. Get me Qahsoud Black Fist. And something to eat."

Author: Khariif Date: Sat Oct 5 08:32:34 2013 Subject The Darkness C..."

Khariif looked up from a map as a knock echoed on the solid oak door to his recently acquired chambers. "Enter, " he called out flatly, looking around the room, his gaze lingering on the still twitching body in the middle of the room. He would have to change many things about the former commander's chambers, the room was too.. soft.. for his taste, but the body could stay awhile longer. "{oYou call, commander?" a large hobgoblin said, glancing down at the body of Dirgel on the floor, smiling and giving a nod of approval. "Yes, Qahsoud.. it would appear there is a vacancy in the officers' ranks, my former position. I would like you to fill it, " Khariif said, his eyes looking steadily into Qahsoud's. Qahsoud had proven himself loyal and ruthless and Khariif needed a sergeant he could rely on. "{oWould be honor, commander, " Qahsoud said proudly. He saluted and bowed, then returned to attention. Khariif smirked and said "Good.. then come here." He pointed down at the map as Qahsoud walked over and looked at where Khariif was pointing. "The new emperor has moved fast to solidify his power and soon if not already will march to bring the Reds under heel. We have to get here, " he said pointing again, "before the armies from Sanction and Neraka." Qahsoud nodded, "{oCan do, commander, but no goblins, goblins slow. Need use boats here and here, " pointing to the map. Khariif nodded and smiled, looking up at Qahsoud. "I had thought as much Sergeant. I need you to take 4 dozen of our best hobgoblins. You will be accompanied by a Sivak as well as carrying a large amount of cargo. Do you understand?" Qahsoud nodded. "{oWhat then, commander?" asked Qahsoud. "You will set up camp outside the city. A meeting has been arranged at a taven known as 'The Bucket.' What you do after will be decided by you and a human from the Red wing.. Some possible options I have thought of are..." * * * * * * * * The two talked long into the night, discussing possible plans, logistics and potential outcomes. The next day before dawn, Xak Tsaroth was abuzz with activity as goblins and hobgoblins loaded well over 100 barrels into canoes. As the sun was fighting to poke its first needle of light through the dense, swampy canopy, 12 canoes set off through the waters to the coast to the east.

Author: Khariif Date: Tue Jan 14 15:47:44 2014 Subject Idleless Hands pt 1

Khariif looked up from the notes and missives stacked in neat piles on his desk as a knock pounded on the door to his chambers. "Come in," said Khariif forcefully. The door swung open with a creak and the large form of a hobgoblin entered the room and saluted. "{oYou call, Highmaster?" said the hobgoblin. As the hobgoblin entered, the smell of swamp water, sweat and blood came with him. He had been out among some of the swamp tribes for the past few weeks. While the hobgoblins of the region were now faithful to Khariif and his Queen, and because of this, the goblins, Khariif had wanted to ensure that the humans of the barbarian tribes that lived in the swamp were unswervingly loyal. This meant going back to the tribes they had come from to check on their past loyalties and convictions. In some cases, this mean "removing" those past loyalties. In others, it meant brining those loyalties back to Xak Tsaroth as "collateral." Just as often, however, one among the ranks was found to have too much tying him to his past; these men were of no use to Khariif, but could not be allowed to return to their tribes less they divulge sensitive information. If they were strong, they had their tongues cut out and were sent below into the ruins of Xak Tsaroth to clean the rubble left from the cataclysm. If they would not last long in the ruins, they were dropped in the swamp waters near one of the entrances to Obsidian's lair at night; lately, Obsidian had been eating well and the stench of rotting flesh could be smelled for half a kilometer around each of her various ponds. "Yes, Qahsoud, come in, " Khariif said, motioning the hobgoblin forward. Qahsoud strode forward and stood at attention before Khariif's desk. "You have done very well, Qahsoud.. She was right to have chosen you. The black wing in Abanasinia has grown ever more efficient and loyal." Qahsoud hunched his shoulders in a form of bow to Khariif but remained at attention. "Progress in the ruins has been good and before too long it will be time to clear out the remaining Aghar vermin.. for now I have a task for one I know I can trust." Qahsoud remained at attention, his eyes focused on the wall behind Khariif. Khariif grinned and continued: "I must travel to Neraka.. I have had no word from Highlord Maldeev and our Queen has bade me ensure the momentum her forces have gained does not falter.. you are to stay here and keep order in Xak Tsaroth until I return. Do you understand?" Qahsoud nodded. "{oHow long gone, Highmaster? Soldiers grow restless.. there is much coin, but Qahsoud's aul want glory; glory Queen promised, " Qahsoud said as he turned his beady-eyed gaze onto Khariif. Khariif grinned once again. "I have thought this as well.. perhaps we should begin ridding Xak Tsaroth of its previous inhabitants now instead of waiting.. there will be little glory in it, but it will keep them busy until I return." Khariif pulled out a map of the ruins and placed it in the center of the desk. "If we can herd them all here, " he continued, pointing to a section of the map, "it wouldn't be hard to starve them out. These rodents know tunnels we don't, but they won't be able to get enough food through them." Qahsoud studied the map for a moment and nodded. "{oGood. What of Obsidian and dragonmen?" Khariif ran his hand over his face, slightly frustrated. "Do not disturb them. They have their job and we have ours." Qahsoud nodded his head in understanding. "{oYes, Highmaster." He turned and walked towards the door. "And Qahsoud.." said Khariif. Qahsoud turned and looked at the highmaster. "I want them ALL dead.. the gullys will breed like rats if we let any survive. I want this extermination to be final." Qahsoud grinned and nodded, before turning and closing the heavy oak door behind him.

Author: Khariif Date: Wed Jan 29 13:30:03 2014 Subject Idleless Hands pt 2

Khariif would have much preferred to walk alone to Obsidian's lair using the maze of tunnels that wound their way through the ruins of Xak Tsaroth, but he knew it was important to be seen among the troops. Grabbing one of the chains holding up the many large iron cauldrons used to ferry workers, materials and soldiers up and down into the depths of Xak Tsaroth, Khariif swung himself into the pot and landed between two draconians. He turned his steely gaze onto the baaz to his right, who in turn backed away and gave the highmaster a respectful bow and salute. Khariif couldn't abide baaz.. they were too weak willed, too eager to please those immediately above them. Across from him sat a kapak, licking the blade of its long, curved dagger. Their eyes met and the kapak gave a slight yet respectful nod of its head but continued to lick its weapon. This was a loyalty Khariif could use. From his experience the kapaks were loyal to two things in equal measure and nothing else: the Dark Queen and dealing death. Were they smarter, Khariif would have promoted more of them. They served their purpose perfectly however; they were as smart as they needed to be. The cauldron filled quickly and before long a few dozen aghar jumped from the ledge onto the chains of the cauldron, weighing it down. After the ruins were cleansed of this vermin they would have to find a new way to work the elevators. As he looked up, Khariif saw the large form of a large sivak leap from the ledge a dozen meters above and spread its wings. It circled slowly as it glided down towards the cauldron, finally landing heavliy on the brim. The cauldron dipped heavily, causing a few gully dwarves to lose their grip and fall the remaining 200 meters, screaming. Khariif smiled and a few of the baaz began laughing. The sivak saluted Khariif and worked his way into the cauldron. "Greetings, highmassster.. I was wondering if I might have a word with you." Khariif nodded. "Of course, Krestak, I had been meaning to speak with you before I left as well.. but it may be better to wait until we were alone before continuing the conversaion." Krestak nodded back and settled down into the cauldron to wait. "Asss you wish, highmassster."

Author: Khariif Date: Wed Jan 29 13:35:52 2014 Subject Idleless Hands pt 3

The cauldron landed on the floor with a metallic thud and its occupants began climbing out. One of the baaz began barking orders at a few of the gully dwarves to clean up the broken and misshapen remains of their former brothers. Khariif stepped down from the cauldron, giving one of the corpses a sneer of disgust before turning to Krestak. "Come Krestak, I am off to speak with Obsidian." Krestak grimaced slightly but nodded stepped up beside Khariif, slowing his pace to match the highmaster's. "What is it you wish to speak with me about?" Krestak cleared his throat and began: "Highmassster Khariif, do you have any ssspecial orders for usss in your absssence? It isss only that many grow impatient with how long we have waited.." "That is part of the reason I travel to Neraka, Krestak. The emperor has been idle too long. Our queen has expressed her frustration as well." Khariif sighed. "I have given orders to have Xak Tsaroth purged of this aghar vermin by the time I return. I had originally planned to leave the draconians out of it, but if you feel eradicating rats would be preferrable to idleness, you are more than welcome to help the humans and goblinoids." Krestak hissed slightly, "How did you plan to accomplish thisss? They may be ssstupid but gully dwarvesss are ssstuborn.. they will not go easssily." "Sergeant Qahsoud will lead troops and force the aghar into the sanitation district.. from there he will cut off their food and slowly work his way in." "You put too much faith in Qahsoud, highmassster.. he may be cunning, even sssmart, for a hobgoblin, but he isss ssstill a hobgoblin." Khariif smiled. Of all the draconians, Khariif valued sivaks the most; loyal to the Dark Queen and her armies, intelligent, clever and confident, not to mention their combat prowess and their unique ability to take the shape of those they killed. He would have to ask for more sivaks in Sanction. "I trust his will and his ruthlessness. As long as he believes his aul will be honored and famed, he will do as we say.. there is a reason he is only a sergeant and you the Black Wing's only sivak commander." "I do not forget it, highmassster.. perhapsss it would be better if I take control of thisss operation." Khariif looked sideways and up at Krestak's face to judge the seriousness of this statement. Khariif had been warned of putting draconians in positions of too much power. There was more to that edict than he could prove, so for now he could only grudgingly follow it. But if it was only a single operation... "I would want it done with zero problems. While the sooner they are dead, the better, there is no pressing deadline, as long as they are out our sight when I return." The two stopped as they reached the long, wide tunnel that led to Obsidian's lair. "If you think it would be helpful, I will put you in command of the operation." "Thank you, highmassster, " said Krestak as he looked nervously down the tunnel to Obsidian's lair, "and good luck with Obsssidian."

Author: Khariif Date: Wed Jan 29 13:49:32 2014 Subject Idleless Hands pt 4

As Khariif turned from Krestak and started down the tunnel to Obsidian's lair, he feigned a posture of confidence. Although he was less terrified than before in the presence of Obsidian, the thought of being near her still sent shivers down his spine. He envied the draconians their inherent ability to not quaver at the sight of dragons, but he was uncomfortably aware that even the staunchest of draconians still feared Obsidian when they learned of her exploits. Rumors included the killing of her mate immediately before breeding because she had felt he had discovered the location of her lair, or that in the third dragon war she had killed a whole regiment of ogre infantry because one from among them had refused one of her "deals." The tunnel opened up and the light from Khariif's torch was lost on the far ends of the cavern. The smell of rotting flesh, stagnant water and the acrid fumes of Obsidian's breath rippled across the subterranean lake and reached Khariif's nostrils. Before his first confrontation with Obsidian, Khariif had not minded the two former scents; one might even have said he enjoyed them. Now, they only reminded him of the gut-wrenching fear he felt as Obsidian drew near. As he thought this, he felt his stomach knot up in anticipation of her approach. He could feel her, below the water, swimming up to him from one of her tunnels. * * * * * * * * So, the highmaster had come to say goodbye. It still amused her the way these bipeds thought they needed to explain something to her. She especially despised this one for disturbing her; she normally tortured and killed most humanoids that got this close to her lair, but Takhisis had ordered her to leave this one alive.. that he was somehow useful in bringing Takhisis back into the world. Obsidian lifted her head up out of the water and focused her eyes on the human. Their queen was cloaking him, preventing Obsidian's magical detection from working properly. This only angered her further as she was reminded of her own impotence beside Takhisis' power. She drew herself up fully out of the water and stared down at the highmaster. She could see him trembling, fumbling for something beneath his vest. Enjoying the sight of this proud human squirming, she lifted one of her claws from the water and began clacking her talons on the marble floor. "Yes?" The human finally closed his fingers around what he had been looking for and pulled it free. Obsidian rolled her eyes and shifted her bulk.. no doubt he had brought her some usele- suddenly her eyes narrowed on the talisman he held in his hand. "You have seen this before?" said the human, seeming more confident.

Author: Khariif Date: Wed Jan 29 13:54:14 2014 Subject Idleless Hands pt 5

"Give that back!" Obsidian demanded, drawing her face close so he could see the acid dripping from her fangs. She could feel the human shaking and smell the fear in his sweat. Still, she could also feel Takhisis giving him the strength to stand tall and clasp the talisman firmly. "You have not seen this for a long time, " said the human, his confidence growing again. "The last remaining artifact of the lich Caitiff. I believe it was stolen from your hoard when you and the other dragons left after the last dragon war." "Get to your point, human." She was getting close to killing this impudent fool and retrieving what was rightfully hers. The highmaster cleared his throat and continued. "You are no doubt aware that Caitiff had unlocked the secrets of Chemosh and fused these understandings with the arcane arts." Obsidian snorted, sending a drop of spittle on the highmaster's boots which began to sizzle. The fool.. he who had only read about Caitiff in books speaking as if he knew the history of this talisman. "I will return Caitiff's talisman to you, but I will need something from you in return." Obsidian hissed. "And why do I not take it from you now? Why should I do YOU a favor?" The highmaster might be a human, but he was not the fool she'd have liked to believe. His powers came from their queen and he would do whatever he could to curry her favor. "Simple, it would please our queen very much to have an army that required no rest or sustenance and obeyed her will completely. I believe that this talisman will help us find a way to create an army of undead under her control and not Chemosh's." Obsidian stopped for a second and pondered. This human was smarter than most; Chemosh had always kept his ways from Takhisis.. they were enemies as often as they were allies. An army of undead fighting for Takhisis would ensure her dominion over Krynn. "It is not a bad plan.. but we would need one who understands the rituals of Chemosh. Once the rituals were observed and recorded, we would need a conduit to Takhisis.. you, no doubt, feel you could handle this task?" The audacity of this human was beginning to impress her.. to help unlock the secrets of undeath for Takhisis would earn her praise. Obsidian would be respected and feared for millenia. "Yes, " she continued, deep in thought, "this could work.."

Author: Khariif Date: Sun Aug 31 20:30:22 2014 Subject Highlord's Return pt 1

Khariif knelt at the bow of the longboat bringing him to shore, his dark eyes swirling in anger like the eddies of stagnant swamp water as they met New Sea. The longshoremen had turned down their eyes in more fear than usual as he had lowered himself into their boat; something had gone wrong while he had been away and no one had wanted to be the one to tell the highlord. Standing on shore was a small group of officers and even from this distance, Khariif could see their apprehension. As the boat lodged into the muck, Khariif stepped out, his boots sinking a few inches into the ground. "Where is Commander Krestak?" Khariif asked as he walked past the group of officers, his fury veiled under a fierce but impassive gaze. The officers looked from one to another and mumbled something incomprehensible. Khariif paid them no mind; things would be made clear when the highlord got back to Xak Tsaroth. The officers lagged a few paces behind the highlord, silent. As the group approached the Plaza of Death, one of the few parts of the city that hadn't slid into the chasm created by the cataclysm, Qahsoud stepped out from the shadows, his head downturned and his hands fidgeting. He took a step forward, bowed and said: "{oHighlord Khariif, it is-" "Where is Commander Krestak." Khariif demanded, walking past Qahsoud and not looking at him. Khariif's mood had been sour since the visit on the ship by the frail magus. His Queen had been noticeably silent on the issue, a fact that left Khariif feeling rudderless. "{oKrestak is, uhm, dead.. Highlord." Khariif paused mid-step and clenched his fists. Turning slowly, a dark light flared in his eyes. "What did you say, Sergeant?" "{oDuring gully attack, he.. die." A flash of unholy light, all colors but none, flared from the talisman around Khariif's neck as his mailed fist slammed into Qahsoud's face. Khariif felt the hobgoblin's cheek bone break and heard the thud of the unconscious sergeant landing on the cobblestones. "Have him shackled and brought to one of my personal cells!" Khariif demanded. The other officers looked between themselves. Anything sent to the highlord's personal prison cells could expect the worst possible tortures before death. None that had been sent there were ever seen again. Even the cells' guards didn't know what sorts of excruciating tortures the highlord inflicted, but the screams of agony and pleadings for death haunted their dreams. Stepping into the chamber which housed the giant cauldrons that ferried people up and down into the depths of Xak Tsaroth, Khariif became aware of how tremendously his subordinates had failed him. Even with ample time the Black Wing in Abanasinia had been unable to clean up all the corpses. One of the chains holding the cauldrons had snapped, slowing traffic in the room. Khariif strode to the closest cauldron as draconians stepped out of his way with a bow. Khariif swung himself from the cauldron before it reached the ground. He passed a field hospital where humans and goblinoids lay moaning from the infections caused by their wounds. Aghar were filthy creatures and he was sure their mouths carried diseases even Morgion hadn't heard of. "Get the wounded to the surface and treat them there, " Khariif commanded to one of the officers tending the wounded. "They'll stand a better chance up there and won't spread the diseases down here. And have any of the dead brought to the Great Plaza. Don't burn them." Khariif sneered slightly at the two bozak guards guarding the entrance to his chambers and saluted them before striding in. Sitting at his desk, he began going through the sealed reports on his desk. The aghar were once more confined to the sanitation district and the casualties were not as bad as they appeared, although he was sure many more of the wounded would be dead before too long. There were more than enough subjects to begin the experiments thanks in part to Qahsoud, who he would deal with later. For now, he would pray to his Queen and prepare himself for his meeting with Obsidian.

Author: Khariif Date: Mon Sep 1 14:35:09 2014 Subject Highlord's Return pt 2

Khariif's hobnailed footsteps echoed down the tunnel leading to Obsidian's lair. He had prayed to his Queen and She had lent him her strength for the meeting. Khariif and the she-dragon would be spending more time together if his plans were to come to fruition and he hoped his Queen would allow the dragon bonding ritual to go through soon. The aghar disaster would not set his plans back much, if at all. All that was required now was for Inquisitor Sylphshade to arrive and Khariif to convince Obsidian to behave around her. And to ask them both about this Galaphale. This brazen magus irked Khariif. How had he known so much? Why had he appeared to Khariif? And most importantly, why had Takhisis not answered her devoted's pleadings? He knew that Obsidian was waiting for him below the still, black swamp water he could feel the fear creeping up his spine. He waited as patientlly as he could with the dragonfear, knowing Obsidian enjoyed watching the fear turn to panic. After a few minutes, her sleek, black head broke the surface of the water gracefully. "You should have announced yourself, Highlord.. I would not have kept you waiting, " she purred with sarcasm. "I hear you will be quite busy mitigating the losses from your commands." "Not my commands," thought Khariif silently, forcing a smirk. Khariif cleared his throat and spoke: "We still have ample resources to continue with our true purpose, Obsidian. A chosen of Chemosh is due to arrive any day and the bodies of the slain are being brought to the Great Plaza. Our Queen grows impatient, and wants our work to begin as soon as possible. You are still up to the task, no doubt?" Obsidian hissed slightly, a few drops of her acidic breath dripping into the calm waters around her. "The burden will be on you and this follower of Chemosh, Highlord. I only deign to work with you in service for Takhisis." Obsidian rose a bit more out of the water, stretching her wings. Khariif felt the dragonfear wash over him once more, but he stood firm. "And Caitiff's amulet?" Khariif patted the part of his breastplate below which the amulet was held in a bag endowed with magical protection. "It is still safe. While in Neraka I had the opportunity to research Caitiff, as well as observe rituals akin to our task at hand." "Then all is according to plan. Leave me for now. When this chosen of Chemosh arrives, bring me to her directly." Khariif bowed his head to the dragon and turned to walk out. "One more thing. What do you know of a magus that goes by the name 'Galaphale'?" Khariif asked. Obsidian, who had already turned to leave, stopped. For a few moments the two sat facing away from each other. "He is no magus, Highlord, he is much more. Where did you read about him?" Obsidian asked slowly, something resembling concern tinging her voice. Khariif turned back to face the dragon. Stroking his stubble with a gloved hand, he continued: "I met with him. He had questions regarding my character." Obsidian did not move or speak for some time before quietly uttering: "And what has our Queen said about this?" "She has been noticeably silent." "Did you tell him of our plans?" "My plans," thought Khariif. "Of course not." Obsidian turned back to face the highlord. "Continue asking our Queen for guidance. If Galaphale has truly returned, She will not stay silent on the issue. Now leave me." With another bow, Khariif turned and left down the tunnel, leaving Obsidian paralyzed with thought.

Author: Khariif Date: Tue Sep 9 03:00:47 2014 Subject in-room log, pt1

OOC: This log of an inroom rp with Khariif and Sylphshade and takes place in the ruins of Xak Tsaroth where Sylphshade's story "Into the Swamps" leaves off. Sylphshade notices the temperature is the same as in Nightlund, just more humid. Khariif enters from the temple to the north, followed by two kapaks. Khariif salutes Sylphshade and smiles faintly. Sylphshade stands and bows to the Highlord. Sylphshade says 'M'lord.' You ask 'Welcome, Inquisitor! I trust your affairs were cleared up and the journey was sound?' Sylphshade nods slightly."All prior business in accounted for, and the journey was uneventful,sir." Khariif nods slowly. "Good.. I am sure you are tired from the journey.. It is best you have a guide your first time into Xak Tsaroth.. many ways to get lost.." You say 'If you would follow me, I will show you the way for your quarters.' Sylphshade says 'I appreciate you concern, sir. I will try to not inconvenience you."Trails slightly behind and to the left of the Highlord.' Khariif begins walking north at a moderate pace. The two kapaks falling in place behind the pair. Khariif walks with his hands behind his back, talking as he goes. You say 'You may have noticed the aid tents set up here on the surface.' Sylphshade nods quietly. You say 'In my absence there were certain.. 'complications.' They should not interfere with our plans.' Khariif smiles as he stops before the doors of the temple. Sylphshade smiles slightly, remaining silent. You ask 'In fact, they may have swelled the numbers of.. what did you call them.. hosts? subjects?' Sylphshade says 'Yes, subjects.' Khariif opens the doors to the temple, a smirk on his face. Inside is a gleaming statue of the Goddess Mishakal. Sylphshade frowns at the statue. Khariif nods slowly. You say 'Since Her Majesty ordered me here I have tried to find a way to remove it.' You say 'Not even Obsidian's breath can damage it.' Sylphshade asks 'Such icons are generally protected by the gods they represent. Perhaps covering it would be sufficient?' Khariif rubs his stubble and smiles thoughtfully. You say 'To be honest, I rarely pass by it.. and it is a constant reminder of why Her Majesty has ordered me here instead of elsewhere.' You say 'Were her followers to find this place it would interfere with Our Queens plans significantly.' Sylphshade says 'I am sure my Lord would like to sink it in yon swamp, to keep it hidden.' You nod. You say 'If this temple sinks, so does all of Xak Tsaroth.' Sylphshade snorts derisively,"Of course, that would be a trick that one would pull" + You and Sylphshade continue through the temple and through tunnels leading downward. You say 'Watch your step, inquisitor, the climate is conducive to molds.' + After a brief walk, You and Sylphshade enter a large room. Draconians heard aghar in or out of pots, as draconians, humans and goblinoids embark or disembark. You say 'There used to be two of these.. but the recent conflict has put one out of commission.. we will have it running again shortly, however.' Sylphshade eyes the contraption warily. You ask 'For now, if you seek to return to the surface, you could find your way?' Sylphshade looks around the room. Sylphshade says 'With that damnable statue radiating as it is, I know I could find that at least.' Khariif folds his arms in front of his chest as the guards clear the way for him and Sylphshade. Khariif chuckles and nods. + They step into the pot with the two kapaks and descend into the depths of Xak Tsaroth. They walk down a wide and empty corridor. You say 'My troops here as well as the aghar vermin that infest this place will keep their distance from here' You slowly state 'The vermin rarely ventured here anyway..' Sylphshade nods. Khariif walks into the room, that subtle smile still on his face. Before you, in the center of the plaza are neatly ordered rows of dead aghar, goblinoids and a few humans. You say 'There are 95 of the aghar, 43 goblinds, 10 hobgoblins and 21 humans.' You say 'Those numbers should continue to swell. In the past we left them here for Obsidian.. but now she knows to leave them intact.' + Looking around at the 'supplies' stacked in orderly rows, Sylphshade half smiles. Sylphshade says 'This is a better situation than I had at Duerghast. Thank you,m'lord.' Khariif's smile grows slightly as he motions to the south. You say 'Anything you need will be supplied for you, Inquisitor.' You say 'My hopes are that what we achieve here will turn the tide of this conflict in our favor once and for all.' Sylphshade says 'I will need a few helpers, if you can spare such. Humans if at all possible, with perhaps a couple hobgoblins, for muscle should these subjects take a turn for the worse.' You say 'As you wish, Inquisitor.. though I might advise against the humans.' Sylphshade asks 'Why is that, m'lord ? Did you draw a bad lot?' You say 'They are of the barbarian tribes of the region. Though loyal, there is a reason you do not see any human officers.' You ask 'Do you work well with draconians?' Sylphshade says 'Draconians, if you can spare them they will do very well. I didn't want to ask you for them, they do make good soldiers and take direction well.' You say 'I was chastised by our now absent 'emperor' for giving them too much of a command role.. but I find that, if you know what motivates them, they are every bit as capable as we are.' You nod. Sylphshade bows to the Highlord. "I would gladly accept them as a generous bounty , sir.' You say 'So.. hobgoblins for muscle, a pair of bozaks for more detailed work.'

Author: Khariif Date: Tue Sep 9 03:03:47 2014 Subject in-room log, pt2

You say 'Come, I will show you your quarters, and where you will be working.' Khariif motions to follow. Sylphshade falls behind the Highlord again. Khariif motions to the hallway to the south. You say 'You will be working down this way.' You say 'Your assistant will meet you there at your convenience.. for now I will show you your quarters' Sylphshade says 'Thank you again, m'lord.' + The two continue down a corridor before stopping before a heavy, wooden door. One of the kapak guards opens the door. Inside is a bed, a table and desk, a pair of chairs and a bookcase. You say 'I apologize for its spartan nature.. it is not easy to get suitable furniture out here.' You say 'These will be your room for your stay here.' Sylphshade slowly states 'It will do just fine. I do not require much, and I am not performing any duties for the Wing at present. ' Khariif motions to the two kapak guards standing outside the door. You say 'You are free, of course, to explore the ruins if you so wish.' Sylphshade says 'I have much work to do, and some set up as well. I will leave the exploration for a later time.' You say 'I have other duties to attend to, but I will be checking in as you progress.' You ask 'Your demonstration in Sanction was ideal.. how long can you keep them under your control?' Sylphshade says 'They will follow, more or less, for the duration of their existence. Control is not quite the right idea, more of a guide and direct. Once they have a scent of what it is we want them to engage, they just need to be led.' You ask 'And if their leader falls? Or they are seperated?' Sylphshade says 'They still pursue the last given target. Albeit not as effectively. Say we want them to attack elves, they will search for the elves we lead them to. If the leader falls, they more or less wander around looking for any elf available.' Sylphshade says 'They have none of the senses they had in life, no smell, touch or taste. They 'sense' the presence.Hence hwy they need to be guided.' You say 'But they retain their ability to kill.. that is what Our Queen cares about.' You say 'I must take my leave.. but I should warn you first about your assistant.' Sylphshade says 'Oh yes, they can kill. Not as effectively as in life, but on the other hand, they are not distracted or slowed by wounds, nor are they bothered by death.' You say 'A good start I suppose is that she views YOU as HER assistant.' Sylphshade says 'She? Which she? ' Sylphshade looks very confused and concerned. You say 'Yes, I should have warned you earlier, but I have confidence in your abilities: You will be working with Obsidian. She has practiced the arcane arts long before this city fell and has dabbled in the arcane versions of your craft.' Sylphshade asks 'The dragon...I will be working with the dragon?' Khariif smiles slightly and holds up his hands as if to say "What can we do?" Sylphshade inhales sharply."I have never been close to a dragon. There was that blue at Bloten, but, it and it's rider were always far away." You say 'I am, in general, distrustful of the arcane arts.. but Our Queen has assured me Obsidian is loyal.' You say 'Inquisitor, you have controlled beings that send even hardened warriors to flight.. I would not have chosen you if I did not think you were up to the task.' Sylphshade looks doubtful. "I am in no way a practioner of the arcane, m'lord. I work with the divine, and even that is quite the task." You say 'That is why you will be working with Obsidian.' You say 'For now, the priority is allowing her to observe your rituals and see how we might be able to imitate them.' Sylphshade sighs resignedly."I will do my best to fulfill your design, m'lord. Be patient I beg of you. These are untested waters, combining the arcane and the divine, and wrestling with souless beings." Khariif smiles and opens his arms. You slowly state 'It is a very great thing we begin here, Inquisitor. Takhisis willing, all will look at your work and say "This is where Her Majesty's forces won."' Sylphshade bows low."I serve the Dragonarmies, at the behest of the Lord of Death. It shall be done." Khariif bows back to you and salutes. You say 'As I have said, ask for anything.' Khariif backs up to the door, salutes once more. + After the Highlord leaves, Sylphshade looks around the room again, thinking. " I am going to need some special help, hope he won't mind some new faces around here."

Author: Khariif Date: Mon Sep 22 16:02:18 2014 Subject To raise an army..

Sweat streamed down Khariif's temples as he focused his will on the pair of corpses in the circle before him. The humidity of the swamp hastened decomposition, so he had thought best to bind the will of those recently deceased before moving on to the ancient bones left over from the cataclysm. Obsidian's dracoic voice rose in temper as she neared the end of her incantations. Pain surged in Khariif's palm from Caitiff's amulet as the two battled for control. As the dead hobgoblins glowed with an unholy light and began to move, Khariif felt the amulet's will subside and felt the telltale elation that came when he had exerted his will upon the reanimated creatures. "You have improved, highlord, soon you will be able to bind three at a time!" Obsidian hissed, a mocking tone in her voice. The two reanimated hobgoblin's shambled with vacant expressions towards a tunnel leading out from the large chamber. Khariif felt the dragonfear reaturn, replacing the fear he felt while battling with the spirit of Caitiff. Khariif tucked Caitiff's amulet back into its bag and forced a smile. "And yet you still have not found a way to bind the stronger ones to our Queen's will. I need not remind you that she grows impatient." "They are bound to follow our will! Soon-" "Yes, but 'ours, ' not our Queen's. Our orders were specific. This army and the reinforcements of draconians may be enough for the plainsmen tribes, Solace and Gateway, maybe even Haven, but little more. We cannot be everywhere at once." Obsidian snorted once, her spittle sizzling as it landed on the floor. She shifted her weight before picking up two more bodies and tossing them into the circle. "AGAIN!" she demanded, unfurling her wings and preparing the spell to reanimate the dead.

Author: Khariif Date: Sun Oct 5 19:27:03 2014 Subject To raise an army.. pt 2

Khariif muttered and rubbed his eyes with one hand as he collapsed back into the chair at his desk. Stacked to one side was a pile of missives he had just finished going through. Fortunately, the Black Wing's intelligence operations now ran smoothly, with only the most important information going to Khariif. Auraks and a smattering of sivaks and humans handled most of the mudane, and though Khariif did not entirely trust the auraks, they were loyal to Takhisis which was what really mattered. News had come in from all over Ansalon. The Solamnic Knights were beginning to rally, but Lady Ayasana and the Blue Wing could keep them occupied until Khariif's plans came to fruition. The elves seemed to be stirring as well, but it would be too late. Reports about this new Green Highlord Lelthas said that he was ambitious and loyal to His Queen. Khariif would have to arrange a meeting before too long. Pushing back from his desk, Khariif stood and made his way to his bed. The necromancy that he had seen Inquisitor Sylphshade perform concerned him slightly, and he had taken precautions by putting up wards of protection where they were needed. Her incorporeal undead would prove useful, but they were ultimately loyal to Chemosh. Still, she served her purpose and the Black Wing now had an army of zombies and skeletons more than sufficient to crush the plainsmen tribes and clear a path to Pax Tharkas. Binding the zombies had been difficult at first, but grew easier with time. Khariif and Obsidian had experimented with newer rituals, using the secrets of Caitiff's amulet for guidance, and had even began reanimating and binding undead under Takhisis' will. If things progressed as they were, the bodies of the plainsmen would rise as even more powerful undead. "If things progress as they were I may end up joining them, " Khariif muttered. While the bodies of those killed during or after the ill-fated aghar extermination had grown relatively easy to control, the long dead skeletons of Xak Tsaroth's original inhabitants disinterred from the late city's rubble were still difficult and took their toll. Khariif's cheeks and eye-sockets had grown dark and hollow from the mental strain of communing with Takhisis, fighting the will of Caitiff, fighting Obsidian's dragonfear and controlling an army of undead. His skin had grown pale from so much time spent in the depths of Xak Tsaroth and his facial hair had grown longer. Khariif kicked off his boots and sank into his mattress, drifting into a troubled sleep born of exhaustion.

Author: Khariif Date: Sat Nov 8 03:37:49 2014 Subject To raise an army.. pt 3

Khariif fingered the amulet of Caitiff around his neck, trying to clear his mind of his other thoughts before once again subjecting Caitiff's spirit to his will. While subduing Caitiff had become easier, Khariif found the large distance between he and the groups of a couple dozen undead required increased concentration. "All the more reason to continue training Bozaks and Auraks to reanimate and control the bodies of Your enemies." The Black Wings control over the dead was growing at a steady pace. The reenforcements of Bozaks and Auraks were being trained in the rituals required to raise and control skeletons and zombies, and some of the more promising students could control ghouls, whose attacks raised their fallen foes as new ghouls. Soon, these draconians would be sent out with Kapaks and Sivaks to form units capable of operating autonomously. Khariif was proud he and Obsidian had worked out the rituals necessary for ghouls and wights independent of of Inquisitor Sylpshade. The nightlunder had departed Xak Tsaroth under mysterious means which only deepened the highlord's distrust of her. Still, as an inquisitor she was given the freedom to operate on her own discretion. The highlord needed his officers to be creative and free-thinking; he had plenty of mindless undead to fill his ranks. Still, he expected them to be loyal to Takhisis and those whose loyalty wavered increasingly found themselves "demoted" to the unliving ranks of the Black Wing. In this respect, Inquisitor Sylphshade was fortunate she had served an important purpose and continued to serve well as an inquisitor. Sighing, Khariif sat down in the chair at his desk and pulled the amulet of Caitiff out from its pocket beneath his breastplate and grasped it firmly. His eyes rolled back into his head and he felt a moment of elation before his consciousness sped from Xak Tsaroth, across the plains of Northern Abanasinia to a small group of shambling zombies and skeletons. A Sivak lieutenant had come up with the idea of harnessing small groups of undead to a sledge and using them to bring the bodies of the plainsmen killed in the night by the Black Wing Kapaks back to Xak Tsaroth. It was, of course, only a temporary measure until the newly trained Bozaks and Auraks could be deployed closer to the frontlines. This particular sledge contained the bodies of eight men, three women and some adolescent boy who had probably been killed while on his spirit journey.. the spirit gods of the boy's tribe had indeed fulfilled their promise of showing the boy his purpose in life: that of a servant and soldier to the Dark Queen. Khariif spent some time flitting from group to group, redirecting them back to Xak Tsaroty as needed. They would be coming in at various times, providing subjects for the Bozaks and Auraks to practice on and to swell the Black Wings ranks. Khariif slid the amulet back into its pocket and prepared for bed. Takhisis had promised him the bonding ritual with Obsidian would be done soon, before the invasion of the northern and eastern reaches of Abanasinia began in earnest.

Author: Khariif Date: Fri Jun 12 05:17:17 2015 Subject Fortuity

As the door was pulled shut behind Highlord Teague, Khariif looked back down to the missive he had been reading with the corner of his lip curled in a slight smile. Teague would act soon. The fire had been lit and the Red Wing would swell from Blode and do as She had created it to. He had not expected this apprentice magus to be so entertaining a find. He would have to send word and quickly to make sure he was present for at least part of the magus' interrogation. It never ceased to instill a sense of unquenchable entertainment the way the chemical and magical concoction could cause a victim to oscillate between screams of agony and whimpers of terror, its memory numbing effects causing the victim to forget the excruciating pain and darkness he or she had felt only moments before. When he had read of the apprentice's capture, he had expected the magus to yield little. Now, to find both the fresh Black-robed Highmaster and Highlord Teague so interested in this apprentice's fate, Khariif began to wonder if the wizard might not produce more, if not directly. As if Her Majesty had heard his prayer and answered, a knock sounded on the door and the sivak guard hissed something in draconian to the Highlord. Khariif responded affirmatively and the door opened. The guard saluted, strode forward, placed the hastily written note on the Highlord's desk, saluted once more and bowed out. Picking the note up with his left hand and rubbing his facial stubble with his right, Khariif read the note, an eager smile growing on his face. It seemed the apprentice would indeed be far more valuable than Khariif had thought. Nodding once, he cut a fresh quill, dipped it in ink and began to write a reply. Khariif got the impression that the Highmaster and Highlord Teague had differing ideas about what sorts of information Khariif was looking for, and was more confident that neither was correct. Khariif was almost certain that no payment that the Highmaster would accept could pay for the information Khariif desired, at least in the manner that Khariif required it in, but Khariif would get what he could before things began to take on a momentum of their own. Khariif rolled his reply up, sealed it with a few drops of black wax and stamped it with the Black Wing's seal, a black dragon's skull. He called to the kapak outside his door and when the draconian entered he handed him the note. "Have this brought to the innkeeper in the White District and have someone find what happens to it after that." There was nothing incriminating in the note, but the Highmaster would receive it and Khariif would see what their next meeting would turn up. Khariif grunted as he stood up from his chair and stretched. He still had one final meeting in Her Majesty's temple; the one he had originally traveled to Neraka to have. He hoped it was to be the announcement of the bonding ritual with Obsidian. The two had worked well together, forming a mutually beneficial relationship stronger than almost any other black dragon pairing in history. At the very least, it would make the journey from Xak Tsaroth to Sanction or Neraka more bearable.

Author: Khariif Date: Sat Jun 20 20:45:08 2015 Subject Dragonbonding

Khariif stood alone in the large chamber located in the bowels of the Temple of Takhisis. He had eschewed his typically worn armor in favor of a simple, knee-length tunic. Around his neck still dangled his five-headed unholy symbol of Takhisis and the Amulet of Caitiff, the soul of the ancient arch-lich still captured within. The Highlord's face was an impassive mask of patience, only the depths of his eyes betraying that his mind flitted from thought to thought. As he waited, he became aware of a familiar feeling. His stomach knotted, his already pale complexion grew paler and he felt beads of sweat drip down his skin. As the dragon grew closer, he whispered a prayer to Takhisis under his breath, asking Her for strength. Her familiar voice replied in his head "Soon." He felt the fear waver but not disappear entirely. The air in the chamber swirled as one of its five gates opened. Khariif did not turn to look, but instead kept his gaze trained on the gaping, shadowy alcove where his Queen would appear. The gate closed as swiftly and silently as it opened and Khariif heard soft, humanoid footsteps behind him. A hint of a frown found its way to Khariif's face. He had expected Obsidian, not whoever was approaching. Nevertheless, as the figure approached, Khariif felt the dragonfear continue to well up. Khariif turned slowly. Walking up to him, a mischievous smirk on her face, was a beautiful, human woman. A long dress of black silk accentuated her slim figure and left just enough of her olive-colored skin to excite the imagination. Black, almost iridescent hair, fell down to just below her bare shoulders. Her dark brown eyes locked onto Khariif's and he could see in their depths a barely concealed fury. Whatever she was here for, she was not happy to be doing it. "Good Evening, Highlord. Our Queen will be joining us shortly, " the woman purred softly. Khariif arched one eyebrow in curiosity, shrugged imperceptibly and turned his eyes back to the Dark Queen's alcove. The two stood in a near deafening silence, the sound of Khariif's pounding heart seeming to echo off the chamber walls. The darkness above them swirled, and Khariif could not be sure when he first noticed the terrifying form of his Queen beginning to phase in. As the seconds passed, the transparent form of the five-headed dragon become noticeable, compounding the fear and awe in Khariif. Takhisis had appeared. The unspoken voice of the Dark Queen echoed in Khariif's mind: "Khariif uth Creditus, you have served me ably and faithfully. The army you have built, trained and begun to unleash in My name will subdue any who oppose Me. You have worked well with My daughter, Obsidian, and confirmed that one of My children can work with a mortal to make My will on Krynn a reality. My plans can only be advanced by further cooperation between you two." Khariif felt the woman beside him shift her weight slightly and mutter a monosyllable before his Queen continued: "Your souls will be bonded, a sliver of each embedded in the other. And uth Creditus, if for even a moment my daughter feels you are failing to perform as you should, she has orders to end your life immediately." As these last words echoed in Khariif's head, he felt a cold darkness creep into his being and tug. Suddenly, Khariif felt the experiences of centuries flood into his soul. His eyes rolled back as he dropped to his knees and his body convulsed. As quickly as it had started, it stopped, and Khariif had the peculiar sensation of having two bodies at once. Rising confidently, Khariif turned to the woman beside him. Their eyes met, she smirked, turned on her heel and made her way out. It was then that Khariif noticed he was no longer afflicted with her dragonfear.

Author: Khariif Date: Sat Jun 27 21:29:57 2015 Subject Deployment

Khariif sat atop Obsidian, his helmet cradled in the crook of one arm, watching the nearly endless columns of undead stream out from Xak Tsaroth into its surrounding swamps. Obsidian shifted her weight slightly with an angry impatience the Highlord could feel in his soul. "It is for appearences, " the Highlord spoke flatly. "The draconians need to know we are present." Khariif felt Obsidian's growl between his legs and through his body. "I am aware Highlord, " she muttered. Every so often they would spot one of the kapaks flanking the columns, remaining hidden despite the Black Wing's unchallenged control over the swamp. Tucked in the columns were bozaks and the occasional sivak or aurak. By the time any could notice the army moving northward, it would be a day away from Crossing, if any were brave enough to travel the plains the Black Wing had haunted for months. "I still do not understand why you are sending so large a force to take Crossing and Staughton. An army a quarter this size could take them." Khariif shifted his helmet from his left to right arm. "For speed. We will need the ships moored at Crossing and Staughton if we are to get this force across the straits. Our numbers will be growing in the coming weeks." Obsidian snaked her head around to turn one of her eyes on the Highlord. "And how do you intend to stop any ships that may be making an escape?" she asked sardonically. Khariif smiled but kept his gaze trained on his troops. "Not me. Us"

Author: Khariif Date: Sun Jun 28 03:02:41 2015 Subject Deployment pt 2

Lazaras closed the door to his home as quietly as he could in his drunken state. His wife stirred slightly in her bed but did not wake as Lazaras dropped into his own bed. He shifted one of his feet to the floor to help stop the room from spinning as he tried to doze off. He was not sure how long he had been asleep when he heard a thumping on his door. He was vaguely aware of screams coming from far away, but that was nothing too uncommon in this part of town. The vagabonds and riffraff that lived this close to the docks were often out in force this time of night. The thumping continued as his wife made her way to the door, muttering as she grabbed her knife. Lazaras groaned as he tried to cover his head with his arm. No one came to this part of town looking for anything to steal; there was nothing worth taking. It was probably Sniz, first mate of the "Pistora," come to drunkenly offer Lazaras a spot when the ship sailed later in the week. As Lazaras' wife opened the door, whoever was outside thrust himself in. His wife screamed, jabbing her knife deeply into the man's chest. The blow, which should have killed anyone, did nothing to the man who lunged forward, grabbing Lazaras' wife by the shoulders. Lazaras sobered up instantly and reached for the dagger under his pillow as he leapt for the man. He felt the dagger bury to the hilt between two ribs as the man bit down wildly on his wife's throat. The man stumbled back a little from the blow, dropping Lazaras' wife. He turned his gaze to Lazaras and that was when Lazaras first got a look at the man's lifeless eyes. Lazaras realized that whatever this thing had been, it was no longer a human. As his wife gurgled blood and grabbed frantically at her throat to staunch the blood flowing freely, Lazaras threw his weight into the being at his door, knocking it aside. He scrambled desperately outside into the street. It was then that he realized the screams had grown and were everywhere in the city. Lazaras ran madly towards the docks; whatever these things were, they had most likely come from overland and the only safe escape would be by ship. Lazaras was saved once by a guard who drove a spear clean through one of the things chest, burying it almost up to the guard's forehand. The thing continued after the guard as if nothing had happened. Breaking free of the dark streets of the warehouses, Lazaras found himself one of many who had a similar plan of escape. Lazaras scanned the docks, looking for a ship that would be ready to leave shortly after he was aboard. Deciding on one, Lazaras took off through the crowd, pushing and gouging his way through it. The ship was casting off just as Lazaras made it to the pier it was moored at. Adrenline surged through Lazaras' body as he sprinted down the pier and leapt into the water beside the ship. Slowly and painfully, Lazaras climbed the rope. As he reached the ship's gunwale, a face appeared with an accompanying hand to help pull him aboard. Lazaras thanked Zeboim once more and reached up to the hand.

Author: Khariif Date: Sun Jun 28 03:14:49 2015 Subject Deployment pt 3

"Dergin, " the man said as he pulled Lazaras aboard, "Welcome aboard the 'Ikthanos'!" Lazaras collapsed to the deck, struggling to recatch his breath and regain his composure. After a few moments, he reached a tentative hand up to the bulwarks and pulled himself up to gaze at Crossing. There were a few scattered fires, but nothing like there should have been if the city were being attacked. Dergin walked up beside him and muttered "Tonight, the gods judged the quick or the dead." Lazaras sighed and turned towards Dergin. "Lazaras. What were those things?" He looked back out to the docks of Crossing as people began jumping into the roiling water. In the far distance, it looked like the things had made their way to the harbor and were driving the residents of Crossing into the sea. "Never seen or heard of the like, " Dergin responded, "One caught me while I was getting the "Ikthanos" ready to sail. Lucky I was, or we'd all be stuck back there in that carnage." A few scattered ships had also cast off and were following the same North-Eastern tack to take full advantage of the Strait's prevailing westerlies. "Had to cleave the thing's head clean off to get it to stop. Looked like a human, but didn't move or act like one." "SAILS PORT BOW!!" came a cry from the crow's nest, "FLYING DRAGONARMY SIGIL!" With most of those aboard not part of the crew and most of the crew still on shore, the boat erupted into chaos. Lazaras and Dergin both looked at each other and than to the bow, straining their eyes to see into the darkness. Suddenly, Dergin yelled back to the helm "Erwyn, take us windward, the ship to port is going after the 'Sea Mare'. We should be able to slip in past her." The 'Ikthanos' curved to port slightly. Lazaras could now see that the Dragonarmy ship they had spotted was closing in fast on another ship of escapees. "Poor fools, who knows what the Dragonarmy will do to them, " muttered Dergin. Lazaras felt the fleeting feeling of relief wash away. He couldn't place what it was, but he knew something was wrong. All at once, the ship was plunged into darkness. Not even the starlight made its way to the decks of the "Ikthanos". A growing terror filled Lazaras that knotted his stomach and screams of fear rippled across the ship. Sweating, Lazaras felt his way down to the deck and curled up to shield himself. From somewhere above, he thought he heard the sound of escaping steam before a pungent, burning scent filled his nostrils. Lazaras could hear the masts snapping as the screams of fear turned into screams of pain. * * * * * * * * Above the ship, Obsidian careened around for another pass while Khariif looked in vain to where the ship had been. It was noticeable only as a spherical portion of the sea that was not reflecting moonlight. "Perfect, her masts are destroyed, she'll be picked up by one of our ships, " Khariif yelled to Obsidian through the rushing wind. Obsidian finished her turn lined up to again strike the ship. "Leave it, that ship is going nowhere." As if to spite him, Khariif felt Obsidian fill her lungs. A second later, the magical darkness enveloping the ship blinked out and Khariif looked upon her decks. The bases of both masts had melted and snapped with Obsidian's first pass. A dozen or so people lay writhing near them, their flesh melted away and their internal organs exposed. Khariif's eyes turned to a man cowering below the bulwarks of the ship just as Obsidian opened her mouth and spewed a stream of acid across the ship's beam. Khariif turned in the saddle to see the ship's fate. As the acid ate its way through the wood, timbers snapped and water rushed in. "Let her have her fun, " thought Khariif to himself, "she's been bottled up in Xak Tsaroth far too long."

Author: Khariif Date: Tue Oct 20 03:04:43 2015 Subject Loose Ends pt 1

Not many in North Keep had been spared; only those who kept the draconians fed and happy or had the strength and stamina to help move the corpses of their neighbors. Khariif looked up from the logistical notes he had been reading to the sound of a screaming man. The man was hunched over the body of a female, sobbing and stroking her ashen face. A kapak task-master approached and whipped the man once fiercely before Khariif shouted "STOP!" The kapak looked up at attention to the balcony overlooking the town and saluted the Highlord. A brief flash of pleasure flashed on Khariif's face as he watched the man crawl to the woman, blood leaking from the gash on his back. Khariif put down the letter and watched the scene, savoring every moment. The remaining captives continued their work, dragging corpses to the circle of containment in the center of the square. The auraks stood with their arms folded, idly watching the bozaks nearby. After the circle was half-filled with bodies the auraks surrounded it and began reciting the words of magic that would reanimate the fallen into ghouls. The bozaks approached cautiously, not wanting to disturb the ritual. Slowly, the corpses began to twitch and move, a silent scream forming on each ones face. The bozaks moved in, reciting the prayers to Takhisis that would bind the ghouls to their control. Throughout all of this, Khariif remained watching the weeping, broken man. Once the undead were under the bozaks the control, they were marched out of the circle and the bozaks and those they controlled broke off to return to their respective Fangs. A new group of bozaks shuffled into the square as the vanquished continued their task of filling the circle of containment. Above, hidden in the coastal fog, Khariif felt a familiar presence. Those below in the square felt it too. The draconians turned their eyes upward and the humans searched their memories. They had felt this before, on the night North Keep had fallen. Suddenly, a reptilian screech split the air. The humans stared up into the sky in terror as, far above, a large black shape pierced the clouds. The humans dropped their burdens and tried to cower wherever they could. Some tried to run to the square's exits but were beaten back by the cackling kapaks. Others tried to hide in the large pile of cadavers on the southern end of the square. But it was the image of the still sobbing man trying to use the body of the woman he cherished as cover that caused Khariif to laugh. Obsidian landed in the center of the square with a rush of wind and a loud thump, a still squirming plains buffalo pinned beneath her right claw. Stretching her wings and screeching once more (which even caused the draconians to cower back in a mix of fear and awe), she tore into the buffalo, its death moans fading with its life. Khariif rolled up the letters he had been reading and slid them into a scroll case. He checked the brazier he had been using to burn the letters he had read and made his way downstairs slowly; it would not do to present himself to Obsidian until she was done eating. He handed a few orders to General Istak, who would be overseeing the occupation of North Keep until his return. After a few moments of staring into space, his foot tapping as he contemplated his vision from Takhisis, Khariif made his way out. Obsidian had finished eating and turned her penetrating gaze onto Khariif as he exited the building. "You are late, Highlord, " she growled. Saying nothing, knowing she could read his thoughts as she wished, Khariif strode up to her. Grabbing on to her shoulder joint, Khariif swung himself up and settled in between her wings, grabbing on tightly with his legs and arms. With a rumble in her chest, Obsidian turned her head forward, tensed her hind legs and propelled her self into the air. North Keep shrank behind them, leaving behind rolling, desolate plains of fallow farms and the occasional skeleton of a building.

Author: Khariif Date: Thu Oct 22 13:38:34 2015 Subject Loose Ends pt. 2

Khariif strode down the dark hallway, the echoes of his hob-nailed boots reverberating in the cold, stagnant air. Ahead two torches with an elite kapak guard beside each marked his destination. The guards saluted smartly and bowed to the Highlord as he approached. Khariif pushed on the door, its rusty hinges emitting a jarring screech as it opened forcefully. The short row of cells rarely remained occupied more than a few days save for the one at the end, whose denizen had resided there for half a decade. Khariif grabbed a torch from its sconce and held it before his face as he walked towards the cell at the end; he'd be damned if he'd let the hobgoblin's darkvision give the worm an advantage over the Highlord. He heard the hobgoblin shift, sniff the air and mutter something in goblin. With his free hand, Khariif grabbed the symbol of the Five-Headed Dragon around his neck. A wave of fear spread to the corners of the room, causing the hobgoblin to squirm. "{oWho's there?" the prisoner grunted with a gasp. Khariif remained silent, unmoving. He heard the hobgoblin shuffle to the corner of the cell, issuing a slight whimper as it did so. After a few moments, Khariif released the symbol, but remained still. The hobgoblin struggled for breath and crawled forward. "{oHi- Highlord?" it gasped. Khariif lowered the torch to the hobgoblins level, allowing the Highlord to see the former commander of his goblinoid forces for the first time in five years. The hobgoblin had grown weak, pail and frail. The tattered rags it wore revealed a pussing skin infection. "Qahsoud. I had thought it impossible for you to get any uglier. You continue to surprise me." Khariif raised the torch higher, allowing Qahsoud to see the Highlord. "{oMy Highlord, I-" "SILENCE!" Khariif commanded. The Highlord regained his composure. He had not gotten so close to losing his temper in a long time. "Do not fool yourself into thinking you have wormed your way into my good graces. You are still alive because you can still be useful. Without your leadership, the Black Fists have been unable to stop the internecine fighting among the auls. It is a testament to your talents that it has taken them this long to descend into their pathetic ways." Khariif paused, letting that sink in. "If the Black Fists do not have you to lead them, the auls will be in chaos. They have become a liability, one I can no longer tolerate. It would be much easier for me to have them all killed" Khariif pulled a ring of keys from his hip. "But SHE has other plans for you. You and the auls will be travelling to Ice Wall Castle, where you will bolster the White Wings meager forces." Khariif selected a key and opened the lock to Qahsoud's cell. He pulled hard on the door, breaking away at the rust that had developed on the hinges. As the door creaked open, Khariif reached into his breastplate, pulling out a sealed scroll case. "I trust you have not forgotten how to read?" he asked. Qahsoud stumbled forward on his knees, hands up in supplication. "{oThank you, Highlord, thank you for giving me this chance to redeem myself in the eyes of you and Takhisis." Khariif held out the scroll case to the hobgoblin, nose remaining turned up. As Qahsoud took the case with two hands, Khariif turned quickly and began walking towards the door. As he reached it, he turned his neck back slightly towards Qahsoud. "And Qahsoud, I think you will see that much has changed with Xak Tsaroth and the Black Wing since you last laid eyes on anything besides the shattered forms of your brief inmates. It would be wise not to dally in the ruins. Everything you need to get the auls to Ice Wall will be provided for you." Khariif turned forward and continued out the door, making his way back to his chambers.

Author: Khariif Date: Sat Oct 24 22:29:59 2015 Subject Loose Ends pt. 3

"What did you expect?" Obsidian laughed tauntingly, "That those with the mental alacrity to unlock the darkest of arcane magics would just happen to be fallen upon by one of your precious Fangs?" She had assumed her human form - something that caused mixed feelings in Khariif. "I expected these ones to yield more, " Khariif muttered over Obsidian's mocking chuckle. Khariif slumped back in his chair and held the report in front of him. "They don't even know how to find Wayreth!" "You do not find Wayreth. Wayreth finds you!" Obsidian purred. She was reclined casually in a comfortable chair, drumming her fingers. "This fight you have started with the Order of High Sorcery will continue to cost more than it will ever be worth." Khariif remained silently staring into space, unknowingly rapping his knuckles in time with Obsidian. "Caitiff knows more than we can get from him. The Wizards will never part with his spellbooks, bu they could perhaps be persuaded to part with his journals. There must be something in them that will help, " Khariif mused. Obsidian shrugged nonchalantly. "Perhaps. Have you consulted yet with the emperor?" Obsidian asked coolly, the last word dripping with distaste. "He doesn't need to know, though it wouldn't surprise me if he already does. No, he has his hands full already, although I suppose we will have to make the trip to Sanction eventually. It appears the emperor has already surrounded himself with non-devout companions, casting even more doubt on these reports of his loyalty to Our Queen." "He is actively pursued by his former companions in the tower, " Obsidian observed, "His lot is with Her armies, whether you like it or not." "If he can turn his back on Our Queen's son, he can turn his back on Her Majesty, " Khariif responded. "No, if anything his actions draw even more doubt to his current allegiance. I am sure She has a reason for allowing him to rise to become the emperor, but She has not forgotten that it was we who put him into power." The Highlord continued after a brief pause, "I will have word sent to the Conclave detailing our demands for our two magically inclined prisoners. If they fail to meet them we'll have them killed." Obsidian shrugged. "So be it." She stood up and stretched her neck. "I am hungry, Highlord. I will see you later, " she said as she turned and left. Khariif watched her go, grabbed a blank piece of parchment and a quill from this desktop and wrote a few more letters. When he finished, he sealed them with black wax and added them to a pile. He reached into the folds of the simple, long tunic he wore when out of his armor and pulled out the magically protected bag that contained the Amulet of Caitiff. He sat staring at it for a few short moments before reaching in and grabbing hold of it, eyes rolled back in concentration.

Author: Khariif Date: Mon Feb 1 15:54:32 2016 Subject Taken at the Flood

Khariif looked up from his desk at the knock on the door, his brows furrowed in displeasure. The door opened cautiously and a kapak snaked his head in. "Message, Highlord, from Sanction, " the kapak said, before silently opening the door just enough to allow his body through. The kapak saluted, cautiously approached the desk and placed the missive down gently. "Why wasn't it delivered with the evening missives?" Khariif said calmly, a sure sign of the fury inside. The Highlord made no move to touch the new letter, instead narrowing his eyes on the kapak. "Commander Kizent felt it best you see it immediately." the kapak replied, staring down at the ground. Khariif raised an eyebrow, picked up the letter, checked the seal and opened it. As he read, his other eyebrow raised in alarm. The kapak bowed, saluted and began to make his way to the door. "Wait." the Highlord commanded. Khariif pulled a slip of paper from his desk and quickly but carefully penned a note. He stopped once to look at the map of New Sea on his desk before finishing the note, rolling it up and sealing it. "Have Commander Kizent send this by wyvern to the fleet and tell him to see me immediately after, " Khariif said, holding the note out to the kapak. The kapak took the note, bowed and saluted once more and left hastily. Watching the kapak leave, Khariif opened a drawer to his desk and pulled out a few lists. Checking them, he began to write a list of officers on a fresh sheet of parchment. He had almost finished when a knock sounded on the door. "Mmm, " he growled, beckoning Kizent in. The sivak entered and closed the door but stood at attention while the Highlord finished what he was writing. When Khariif had finished, he looked up at Kizent and waved him forward with a gesture of his hands. "We will have to move quickly." Khariif stated, holding out the list to the sivak. "Have these Fangs prepare to move out - WITH their undead. I want them ready in two days time." Kizent took the list, read it over and looked up quickly. Khariif nodded at him. Kizent was clever. Even without knowing the contents of the recent message, he could deduce what was happening. "They will be ready, Highlord, " the sivak stated. Doing some quick math in his head, the sivak continued: "We will need to pack the undead below-decks if we are to get all of these Fangs to fit." Khariif nodded, "It is why we have practiced it. Go. We all have much to do in little time." Kizent nodded, bowed and turned. When Khariif heard the door click behind the sivak, he leaned back in his chair and stared into space for a few moments. Grabbing the symbol of Takhisis around his neck, Khariif took a deep breath as he felt the Vision wash over him.

Author: Khariif Date: Sat Feb 20 22:35:31 2016 Subject Taken at the Flood II

Khariif's eyes burned from the soot and ash billowing from the Lords of Doom, limiting his vision. Through the tears and smoke, Khariif could barely make out the small column approaching the gate at Sanction's Eastern Pass from the West, its red banners fluttering lazily in the hot and heavy wind. Leaning forward, Khariif said loudly to Obsidian, "The Emperor and Baroness would disapprove of your presence.. I'll go to the Temple of Duerghast when we are finished." Khariif felt Obsidian grunt an ambivalent acknowledgment before dipping to the right in a brief dive. The ash grew thicker in the valley, obscuring Obsidian and the Highlord from the troops below, though they no doubt felt the dragonfear creeping in. As they approached the gate to the pass, Khariif patted Obsidian's neck. The black dragon let out an ear-piercing cry that echoed off the valley's walls as she dropped down below the smoke, revealing herself to the troops. Circling once, delighting in the fear that spread through the ranks, Obsidian landed near one of the valley's walls between the Baroness and Emperor. Khariif swung his leg over the saddle and slid down to the ground. With one more screech, Obsidian thrust herself into the air. Khariif removed his helmet as he approached the Emperor and Baroness slowly and wiped the ashen sweat and hair back from his brow. He looked strangely younger than either had last seen him, his hair darker and flesh less pale. His helmet cradled in the crook of his left arm, Khariif inclined his head in a bow and saluted first Emperor Teague and then Ayasana, a wry grin on his face. Stopping equidistant between the two, Khariif looked over the endless column of disciplined, blue soldiers that snaked down the valley before fixing his calm, eager gaze on the Baroness. "Impeccable timing, as always, Highlord Ayasana." He nodded once to her before turning his head and peering through the open gate over the city of Sanction. "And your thorough preparations are second to none, Emperor, Our Queen is I am sure quite pleased, " he stated as he fixed his eyes on the Emperor, enjoying the hint of confusion in Teague's eyes. "I could not have prepared the city and cleared the streets of the plague better myself." Looking back over the vanguard of the Blue Wing and back to the Emperor, Khariif continued: "I admit, following the Vision from Our Queen, I was concerned either or both of you would not be ready for the endeavor at hand, but I stand corrected. I am sure She will chastise me for my doubts." Looking back once more from Baroness Ayasana to Emperor Teague, Khariif nodded firmly, the excited, pernicious grin never leaving his face. "Shall we commence?"

Author: Khariif Date: Thu Aug 11 21:13:20 2016 Subject The Current Settles

A hint of a smile cracked across the Highlord's face, a slight twinkle in his eye. His regulars had done a near perfect job: The forts built on the ruins of the barbarian towns were solid, the foliage around them cleared. The holding trenches, teeming with groaning undead, were sturdy. The Black Wing occupied the southern and eastern sections of Schallsea Island, rot and decay already setting in. His only complaint was that the auls under Qahsoud had done so well.. Khariif had hoped for more goblinoid casualties. The Highlord descended the parapet and made his way to his tent. Once inside, he sat at his desk and began going through the various missives he had received earlier. Most were simple logistics, requiring nothing more than a brief reply. Quite a few warned of reinforcements arriving at the Port of Schallsea, but Khariif only smiled at these. More soldiers required more food and as far as the Highlord was concerned, only amounted to more subjects to add to his ever growing forces. He raised an eyebrow in interest at the last message he had received. A cleric of Mishakal had been captured at Que-La and the commander there was asking if anything special should be done. Khariif slowly caressed the Amulet of Caitiff as he pondered what to do. The life forces he had consumed thus far had been weak and pathetic. Perhaps one so devoted to and blessed by the Lightbringer could yield better results, or at least more of a challenge. Taking up his quill, Khariif penned a response. He would have to leave tomorrow morning to reach the fort at Que-La. Obsidian had returned to Xak Tsaroth for the time being, the tedium of this part of the campaign not being to her liking. He disliked the time that would be spent reaching Que-La on horseback, but he dared not take a wyvern; Obsidian would take it as a direct affront and insult were he to do so. Sliding his chair back from his desk, Khariif gathered the outgoing messages and called in a kapak to have them delivered. Rising from his chair, Khariif lay down on his cot. It was early, but if this cleric waiting for him in Que-La was what he hoped for, he would need a good night's rest.

Author: Khariif Date: Thu Aug 24 04:34:47 2017 Subject The Tide Surges

".. also ready to move, Highlord, " said Sivaan, looking up from the scroll he was holding. Highlord Khariif wrote something on the sheet of parchment on the desk in front of him. He set down his quill, looked over the list one more time and rolled it up and sealed it with wax and signet ring. He held it out to the kapak draconian standing at attention beside Sivaan without bothering to look up and pulled out a fresh sheet of parchment with his other hand. "See that this is delivered to Commander Kretak, " he commanded the kapak, who saluted, bowed and backed out of the longhouse of the former chieftain of the Que-Jotun. Unlike his people, the chieftain's soulless corpse was not milling about in one of the holding pits dotting the town. The chieftain had been a devout follower of Mishakal and Khariif had found that those with the strongest faith proved the best subjects for the rituals used to restore his youth and vitality. The highlord began writing a new directive on the fresh sheet of parchment while Commander Sivaan remained at attention, eyes fixed forward. He waited thus until his highlord finished and sealed the message before speaking up: "What of the other wings, Highlord?" Khariif looked up to him, his left eyebrow slightly raised, before shifting his weight and saying: "I would not trust them even they had the courage to join us, nor would we have the food to feed them. I am sure Baroness Ayasana will show up, banners flapping, as our fangs are rooting out any survivors, demanding credit for her 'aid' and food for her forces." "And if she does, Highlord?" "She will be more than welcome to whatever the denizens of the Port of Schallsea have put up in storage..." The gleam in Sivaan's reptilian eyes and the sneer on his draconian lips would have sent shivers down the spine of the most stoic Solamnic knights. "Should there not be enough to feed them, " Khariif continued, "there will be no loss to Her Majesty's forces.. merely the Blue Wing." Sivaan's grin did not fade..

Author: Khariif Date: Sun Sep 17 20:14:34 2017 Subject Freedom's Fury pt 1

It was a torrid day, the type where even insects were too hot to buzz, and it was made hotter by the fact that Highlord Khariif had been struggling to stand since before sunrise, clothed in heavy rags with a thick sack over his head. The beatings and feeble attempts at extracting information his captors had called interrogation left him weak. The physical pain that Khariif endured, however, was nothing to his internal agony. The humiliation and rage he felt for having failed his Queen consumed his soul. The Amulet of Caitiff, their nearly infinite well of arcane knowledge, had been taken, passing into the very hands that had provided the necessary spellbooks to tap into Caitiff's millennia of wisdom. He had allowed himself to be captured and now found himself being traded by the Knights of Solamnia for a lowly sergeant. Muffled by the coarse sack, Khariif heard one of the Solamnic's forward sentries call out "Halt!" After a few moments, the Highlord could make out an inaudible exchange and was forcefully dragged forward by the knight holding his chains. A few steps later, the bag was ripped from his head. Blinded by the sudden light, Khariif lifted his shackled hands to see better. About twenty paces before him stood a beaten and dejected Solamnic knight. He was unchained. No doubt the Solamnic forces present would believe the unassailable honor of the Knighthood had caused Her Majesty's forces to trust an unfettered captive. Seeing the dark, beautiful Khurish woman escorting the sergeant, Khariif knew he was more bound than any metal could achieve. The woman's exotic, penetrating eyes met Khariif's and blinked once, slowly. When they were a couple paces away, both sides stopped. The knight leading Khariif bowed low. "The dragonarmies would send a lady to lead a hostage exchange in the heat of a siege.. how cheaply they hold their honor, " he said, before carefully unshackling Khariif. A trace of a smirk appeared on the woman's lips as she gently pushed her captive forward. Looking once more at Khariif, the woman saw by the bridled fury in the Highlord's eyes that no good would come today of taunting him for his defeat. Khariif brushed past the woman, heading towards the small group of Dragonarmy soldiers waiting fifty or so paces behind her. She turned with him as he did, the two walking together slowly. When he had almost reached the escort party, a chorus of alarm horns, far in the distance to the west, broke the silence. Khariif turned slowly to see the squad of Solamnics that had conducted the exchange help the released captive on a horse and hurry back towards the port, concern in their voices. Suddenly, arising from burrows and other well-hidden nooks, kapaks opened fire with their poisoned arrows at the Solamnics. Knowing the city was sounding the alarm and that they were surrounded, the knights beat an organized but hasty retreat. A few fell directly to the draconians' arrows, most knights being shielded by thick armor, but few could afford the barding to keep their horses safe. Horses collapsed as the potent poison of the kapak's saliva worked its course. Those knights who found themselves dismounted turned to face the ambush, honorably trying to buy time for their comrades. "The assault has begun, Highlord, " the woman began, handing Khariif an unholy symbol of Takhisis in the shape of a five-headed dragon, "I must say, you have trained your subordinates well. Our Queen is pleased with how the Black Wing carried out your plans, even in your absence. We will get you back to headquarters, you will need rest for the coming days." "No, " Khariif stated, "I will not settle for witnessing this victory from behind the lines." He turned to the woman. "I intend to savor this."

Author: Khariif Date: Sun Sep 17 20:29:15 2017 Subject Freedom's Fury pt 2

The woman's haunting smile, dripping with sadistic expectations twisted as her body began to change. Khariif took a few steps backwards as her body continued to grow. Wings sprouted from her back and her skin turned to scales. A few seconds later Khariif stood before the black dragon, Obsidian. Walking up to her slowly, drawing strength from the unholy symbol he held in his hand, Highlord Khariif pulled himself up onto her and settled between her wings. With an ear-piercing screech, Obsidian pushed off with her hind legs and took to the sky. Finding an updraft, dragon and rider spiraled upward, taking in the view of the unfolding battle. A countless number of undead clawed and clambered at the walls of the port. Spells and arrows fired from dragonians enshrouded in the mass of unliving flesh picked off the wall's defenders and caused the fortifications to quake. Far to the west, hundreds of ships crowded the straights of Schallsea, disgorging their troops or returning for more. There was no need for Khariif to shout direction to Obsidian - the rushing wind would have made it impossible. The connection between dragon and rider forged during the dragon-bonding ceremony allowed her to feel the Highlord, a connection made stronger by Khariif's faith and force of personality. The besieged had been forced into dwindling pockets of safety. The amphibious troops had pushed deep into the city and sections of the wall had collapsed, admitting the ravenous legions of zombies and ghouls. Obsidian and Highlord Khariif, their minds and souls one in the nirvana of battle, dove towards one of those pockets. Obsidian did nothing more than shriek wildly on her first pass, both her and Khariif delighting in the fear and primal panic her dragonfear inspired. Disciplined, hardened knights cowered like children or trampled their companions in a reckless drive for self-preservation. Banking around for a second pass, Obsidian inhaled deeply on approach. With the sound of hissing steam, the black dragon showered those below her with her acidic breath. Cries of fear became death screams as a swathe of humanity was brought to an end. Forgetting his failure in the moment, Khariif was no longer able to suppress his perverse laughter. Adrift in the sea of chaos below, Khariif made out one of the men who had been present at one of his interrogations. The man was of significant ranking, judging by the way his fellow knights had addressed him. He was kneeling on the ground, his tears mingling with blood. In his arms he held the melted body of a fellow knight, steel from his armor liquefying into the corpse's exposed internal organs. Obsidian came around once more, but the man was now gone. She peeled off to strike a different gathering of victims, Highlord Khariif still clutching onto her, laughing.

Author: Khariif Date: Sat Sep 23 04:16:37 2017 Subject A Settling Tide pt 1

Highlord Khariif rested a hand on the rail of one of the balconies of the Cozy Hearth Inn in the port of Schallsea, watching a seemingly endless river of troops march past. Most were headed to the docks to return to prior posts or to reinforce new ones. Many, however, would be quartered within the port in its now vacant homes. Of the original inhabitants, any not deemed necessary, at least for the short term, for the operation of the port or the needs of its occupants were put to work rebuilding the port's defenses until they succumbed to exhaustion or malnutrition. Having grown bored long before, Khariif turned and returned inside. There was still much to be done before he could quit Schallsea. Crossing the room, the highlord opened the door and descended into the maelstrom of activity. Intelligence officers processed compartmentalized information brought in by trusted couriers. The processed data included troop counts, captives, casualties and commendations, among much else. The room stopped and saluted as the highlord entered but returned to work when he waved his hand dismissively. The ground shook slightly as Khariif stepped outside, flanked by two sivak bodyguards. Sappers were busy at work collapsing the tunnels that had allowed some of the Solamnics to escape. "So much for the honor of the Knighthood, " he had muttered earlier. He turned down Red Street towards his current residence - the small mansion of the former Lord of Schall. As he entered, his two bodyguards took up posts in front. Within, a young Wemitowuk shamaness stood up quickly, her eyes wide with fear. At first, Khariif paid her no mind as he removed his helmet and unbuckled his breastplate. Pulling his chainmail coat off over his head, he addressed her: "I was told you were found healing the vanquished, not with your medicine, but with prayers." The woman looked down and shivered slightly. Khariif sat in a chair, away from her, and began unbuckling his greaves in silence. He pulled off his boots and sighed in comfort, eyes closed for a few seconds. Eyes still closed, he asked: "So.. which one is it?" The girl looked up quickly, mortified. Khariifs eyes were open, boring into hers. "Come now, you didn't think my Queen hadn't planned for the return of the gods?"

Author: Khariif Date: Sat Sep 23 04:29:00 2017 Subject A Settling Tide pt 2

The girl looked down, in final acceptance of defeat. "At least my soul will rest eternally with the Light Bringer, " she mumbled softly. Khariif stared at her awkwardly for a moment before suddenly erupting into laughter, startling the girl. "You think, " Khariif managed between fits, "that death is an escape from my Queen's grasp? {IALL will serve Her. Your soul will {Utoil eternally in the {UAbyss!" He chuckled a few moments longer then paused. He stood up quickly, startling the shamaness. She stood up as well and backed up only to find herself cornered. As he approached her, Khariif grasped the symbol of Takhisis he wore around his neck and muttered something incomprehensible. The Wemitowuk felt her limbs freeze up and she collapsed to the floor. She still had function of her eyes and she looked up to the approaching highlord pleadingly. Khariif lifted the symbol of the Five-headed Dragon above his head, his growing voice speaking a mix of common, draconic and magic. She felt him place his hand on her shoulder and though her entire being sought to get away from his touch, her body would not move. Khariif began to feel the girl's entire essence flow towards where his hand lay. Though she could not move, her eyes belied the agonizing torment that racked her being. As her soul flowed through Khariif to the symbol in his hand, he felt traces of her life force remain, renewing his own. The past few weeks had wreaked havoc on Khariif. The disgrace to his Queen for being captured by lowly pirates deadened him to the pain of the Solamnic Knight's torture and tormented his mind and soul long after they had stopped. Still, as the shamaness' soul flowed through his body and to the Abyss, the wounds and wrinkles the weeks had caused began to fade. The deep purple bags under his eyes, caused by sleepless nights spent silently pleading for his Queen to return to him, shrunk away. His grey hairs darkened and color returned to his complexion. As the last wisps of the girls soul flowed into the unholy symbol, Khariif heaved a deep breath. It had been long since he had performed the ritual on one with such faith in her deity and he had nearly forgotten how it felt. As he pulled his hand away and stood up, the corpse of the barbarian rotted and withered in seconds, leaving behind only a pile of dust.

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