The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 17)

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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 8)

Postby SilverDragoness » April 18th, 2012, 8:19:33 am

OOOOHHHH!!! It's amazing! please, write more soon!
*is sorry for abusing caps lock*

For kind :t-ninja: and :t-pirate: :

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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 8)

Postby Nerruse » June 26th, 2012, 8:36:17 am

I apologize for the long delay, I have been very busy of late. The next chapter should be up by the end of the week.
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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 9)

Postby Nerruse » June 29th, 2012, 12:44:11 pm

Chapter Nine


"So, how did you learn?" Belmos asked.

"Fast," Ruin replied. "Had to, to survive." She shifted slightly, looking away. "The first time I used magic was to keep myself from bleeding to death."

"I'm sorry," he said quietly, hesitantly patting her shoulder. "Things have been hard on you. I apologize for being so direct, but what about your parents? Surely they could have assisted you."

"They're dead."

The silence stretched uncomfortably as he processed that. It had been a long time since she'd thought of them. Years. And yet the memories, and the nightmares, never faded. She shook her head, dispelling the thoughts before the grief rose again.

"Anyway, that's not relevant to the situation at hand," she said finally, breaking the moment.

"Indeed," Belmos said. "So, magic without a catalyst. I would have thought such an ability to be a detriment, yet you demonstrated otherwise quite efficiently."

As he spoke, she closed her eyes for a moment, connecting to the ever-present stream she imagined as her inner magic, or whatever the magi called it. Either way, it was always cool and oddly refreshing. A gentle pull caused a small, eddy-like swirl. Ruin opened her eyes. The ocean water, still after the passage of the storm, swirled, forming into a gently pulsing sphere the size of her fist. She drew it to her and let it rest above her palm. Moisture was drawn to it like a moth to a flame and in moments the water orb was nearly obscured by fog. She snuck a look at Belmos.

The master magi stared at the orb, looking for all the world like a boy who'd just seen, well, magic for the first time.

"Impressive," he murmured. He met her gaze. "And you aren't drawing on Ling Shen at all. Fascinating. I must think on this technique of yours for awhile. I can see how you are doing it easily enough, and yet…it seems the archmagi has much to answer for."

She withdrew her power and tossed the orb back into the water, where it settled without even a ripple. The fog vanished just as rapidly.

"It's not something you learn by thinking," she said. "And in any case, there are more pressing concerns. Like what our next step is."

Ruin sat at the edge of the pier, her eyes on the brilliant crimson sunset shining across the bay. Belmos crouched next to her and sighed heavily.

"I don't know."

"Well, I have a suggestion. First, we need to do something about the hellhounds. Whoever's hunting you is quite persistent and we can't afford the attention, not to mention the high risk of getting ripped apart and set aflame. In that order, if we're lucky."

"What do you have in mind?"

Ruin smiled. "I'm going to earn myself a bonus."
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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 10)

Postby Nerruse » July 1st, 2012, 8:26:22 pm

Chapter Ten


The hellhound loped down the road along the waterfront, pausing occasionally to sniff the air. The infernal flames flickered on its back, flaring brighter as it caught a trace of its prey. When it reached the broken, isolated pier it stopped. Turning in a circle, head to the ground, ears flat. After a moment it raised its head and howled. The second hellhound joined its companion in less than a minute, also pausing to sniff at the ground. It licked at a darkened spot near the pier. Blood. Both turned to look at the storehouse across the way.

Ruin pressed herself against the corner of the building, gripping her blades tighter. They were slippery in her sweat-dampened palms. Saying a plan was one thing; putting it into action quite another. It didn't matter how confident she had been earlier. One hellhound was a close call; two was certain death. And she was luring them to her on purpose. What the hell was she thinking? But then, she hadn't truly expected this to work quite so easily. The trick was simple enough and, augmented by magic, proving quite effective. It helped that she was wearing Belmos' magi cloak, the fine silk stained and tattered almost beyond recognition. And that it was stained with fresh blood.

The second hound met her gaze. It growled, hackles raising. Time to go. She turned and ran, the baying of the hounds spurring her on. This time it was not a random flight and by using the many tight alleys and sharp corners that formed the maze of the dockside district she managed to stay just far enough ahead to relax a little. Just had to make it past this last row of storehouses to complete the scent trail, leave the cloak behind and vanish.

She turned the corner, felt the hot blast of brimstone on her face, and then the abyss swallowed her.

~~~~~


An incessant throbbing in her head was the first thing she became aware of. Felt like she'd been struck with a mace. But then, given that a hellhound had nearly eaten her face, she supposed she wasn't that far off. She could still smell the brimstone. Great. That would never come out of her clothes.

The second thing she noticed was the fact that her hands were bound behind her back. Tight but she could still feel her hands. Or rather, the tingling of them from being pinned between her own body and whatever she was propped against. Probably a wall. It was cool against her skin. Stone, then. Not in dockside anymore. She opened her eyes, flinched, closed them again.

"Finally awake. Good." A female voice of indeterminate age, slightly accented.

She opened her eyes again. A black-robed figure stood before her, blocking the light from a pair of torches set on either side of a door. It wasn't quite a dungeon but certainly, this was not a friendly place. She focused on her captor, painfully aware of her lack of weapons.

"What do you want?" she asked, grimacing at the taste of ash still in her mouth. By the gods, she hated hellhounds.

The woman held up a familiar, badly shredded piece of green silk. "Where is the man who wore this?"

"Safe," she said. Well, she hoped. "Unless your hounds got to him too. Is that why you called them off me?"

"I did not do anything," came the stiff reply. "We were not trying to kill him."

"Then why are you hunting him down with hellhounds?"

"Because," the woman said, "I am trying to save him. Hellhounds are the least of his problems right now. Will you trust me?"

That sounded anything but trustworthy. But then again, Ruin still had no idea exactly what she'd blundered into. This situation was, she realized with a sinking feeling, far beyond her control.

"I will hear what you have to say, but know that I promise nothing. Trust is earned, not given," she said.

"You are wise, for one so young. Very well." She crouched and flicked her wrist. A tiny dagger appeared from her sleeve and quick as a scorpion, cut the rope binding Ruin's hands. "Come. We have much to discuss."

Ruin had no choice but to follow.
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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 11)

Postby Nerruse » July 3rd, 2012, 1:55:11 pm

Chapter Eleven


Ruin followed the strange woman through the surprisingly large, ornate house. She had been held in the root cellar; they ascended the stairs into a large kitchen. It was deserted but for one of the hellhounds sprawled, sound asleep, by the servant's entry.

"Do you wish refreshment?" she asked, even as she stepped to the hearth, ladling out two generous bowls of something from the pot.

Whatever it was smelled delicious, and Ruin was embarrassed by her stomach's growling.

"I'll take that as a yes," she said, amused. "Come, we shall retire to my study, then. Even here, we are not without our, what do you call them, long ears?"

"Spies," Ruin said.

"Yes. But that is not a concern for you."

The study was on the second floor, just after what could only be a guardroom off the landing. It had the disheveled feel of many long nights and too few answers. Papers scattered across a desk, half burned candles sitting on every table, books stacked everywhere and on everything else. It all seemed very at odds with the mysterious woman who spoke with such formality and moved with the grace of a serpent.

They sat and ate first, Ruin grateful for the distraction. And the food, though it was little more than travel fare. Light broth with vegetables and, when lucky, a few bits of meat. Hare, in this case.

"This isn't your house," Ruin said, then inwardly cursed herself. She hadn't mean to say that out loud.

"Not originally, no. It was…given, to us." She took both their bowls and set them aside on yet another stack of books.

"Us?" Aside from the hellhound, she had sensed no one else.

"You do not recognize me?" She sounded genuinely surprised. "You are a magi, are you not?"

"No." What did being a magi have to do with it? She could hardly be expected to know someone garbed in a hood. She couldn't even place the woman's accent, and she'd been to most of the known world. The parts accessible by a port, anyway.

"Hmm. Interesting." The woman thought a minute, then reached up and pulled back her hood. She had pale skin, stark against midnight hair. She looked young and yet ageless. Her eyes shone strangely, clearly touched by something arcane. What really drew Ruin's eye, however, was the strange tattoo on her forehead that resembled a black eel twisted into the vertical figure eight of the infinitas, the symbol of infinity. "I am Jesira, the archmagi of the Order of the Black Eel. Or, as we have been branded by the Magi Order," her eyes narrowed with anger, "the Dark Brotherhood."

Just what she needed. Even Ruin had heard of the Brotherhood. The name was a curse in many parts of the world; just uttering it in Keeptown's borders was grounds for treason. It explained the hellhounds, at least. But only in part.

"If you are an enemy of the Order, why are you trying to help its disgraced master?"

"You speak as a soldier would. It is politics, not war. The Order is threatened by our presence, for we are magi beyond the control of their Circle. So they have demonized us and forced us into hiding. But that too, is of no concern right now."

"What do you mean?"

"I think you know. Even you must feel it. A sense of, of wrongness, in the air. I do not know what the Order is doing, but they must be stopped. That is why we are here. If the Master of the Keep has been cast out, he must know something of their actions." Jesira met her gaze, held it, her eyes hard and probing.

"He does. Better that you hear it from him. I scarcely believe it myself."

Jesira leaned back, apparently satisfied. "You do not care much for either Order, I see. Yet you are a magi yourself."

"I'm not," Ruin said, a bit more forcefully than she intended. Something about Jesira was irritating, like an itch she couldn't scratch. If anything felt wrong it was her.

"If you wish to believe that, so be it," Jesira said. "You will have to face the truth someday."

"What do you want from me?"

"Belmos. Your ruse worked so well my hounds have lost the scent. Bring him here."

Ruin stood, crossing her arms. "And if I refuse?"

Jesira smiled grimly. "Not an option." She made an almost imperceptible gesture. Ruin staggered back, choking, as something cold and slimy wrapped around her neck. It was so slippery she couldn't even grasp it to pull it away. After a moment the pressure eased and she found herself face to face with a black eel. It hissed, showing her jaws filled with double rows of needle-sharp teeth before slithering around her shoulders and sinking into her skin like a living tattoo. Queasy and horrified, Ruin felt her own magic roiling as it was cut off from her, tainted by the eel's presence. "Do not mistake my hospitality for kindness. Not all of the tales of my Order are mere fabricated shadows. I will not ask again."

"I'll do it," Ruin growled, teeth gritted against the not-quite pain of the eel.

"Excellent. Go, then."

"My weapons."

"No. You'll get them back as payment for services rendered." Jesira stood and, deliberately turning her back, walked away.
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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 11)

Postby ellebellie » July 4th, 2012, 1:42:17 pm

:t-woo: Wonderful! Please write more!

I just returned from a very long hiatus
(last time I actually played was in 2012),
so I'm still getting back into the swing of things.
Anybody know how many new creatures I missed?

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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 12)

Postby Nerruse » August 23rd, 2012, 12:02:17 pm

Chapter Twelve


Their arranged meeting space was yet another dockside tavern, some distance from the last. A lifetime spent on the wrong side of the city guard had taught her well. This one was seedier than the last, filled with roaming eyes and stinging smoke from half a dozen less than legal plants. Tempting, but there were slightly more important things to tend to than the sweet oblivion of the leaf. She picked her way among the tables, past the drunks and red-eyed hazers. They ignored her and she them, in the unspoken way of those wanting to avoid attention.

Fortunately, Belmos was not hard to spot. He was like a mouse in a cat's den, shifting nervously as he sipped at a tankard, all too conspicuous in his fine new clothes and obvious air of concern. As soon as he saw her he stood, relief plain on his face. He held out his arm and she clasped it briefly.

"Are you all right?" he ventured after a moment of slightly awkward silence.

Ruin waved him back to his seat and took the chair opposite. "More or less. Sorry it took so long."

"It's fine, I'm just glad you made it," he said, offering her a shy smile that only made her feel worse for her betrayal, no matter that it was forced. "This place unnerves me."

"It's not friendly," she agreed. "But that goes double for anyone who causes trouble in here. There aren't many places for wanted fugitives, I'm afraid."

"So I've learned," he murmured, more to himself than to her. "Anyway, what happened?"

She shrugged. "Not much. The hellhounds got me, I blacked out, woke up in the stronghold of the Dark Brotherhood. Well, Order of the Black Eel, that's what they call themselves."

"What?" Belmos stared at her, open-mouthed.

"Yeah, I was surprised too. Apparently they're the ones who set the hounds on you. Not to kill you, mind. Jesira just wants to…talk."

He leaned back and frowned, eyes dark. "I'd sooner talk to the hellhounds. Jesira is dangerous. She was even before she left the Order."

"Don't I know it." This was it. She shifted uncomfortably, all too aware of the eel embedded in her skin.

Belmos narrowed his eyes. "What is it?"

Ruin glanced around quickly, making sure they were still being studiously ignored. They were. She leaned forward, pulling her clock and the collar of her shirt aside. She couldn't see it, as it was coiled along the back of her neck, but judging by his soft curse, Belmos saw the eel just fine.

"Can you…?" she wasn't even sure how to say it. Kill it? Remove it? She wasn't even entirely sure what a black eel was.

"Too much of a risk. It's not just physically attached. But I think I can…" he trailed off, leaning closer. "Hold still a moment." His touch was delicate, barely brushing her skin. A flash of magic, strangely cold against her and she felt the eel recoiling. She gasped as it burrowed deeper into her.

"Sorry," he murmured against her ear. He stepped back, looking a little pale. Magic still flickered from his fingertips.

"You practiced." How long was she unconscious for, after all?"

"A little." He looked around pointedly. "Had some time on my hands."

"So what did you do?"

To her surprise he actually looked frustrated. "Not what I had hoped. Eels have been banned from use in the Order for a very long time. I'm sorry."

"It's fine," she lied, hoping she didn't look as horrified as she felt. "Thanks for trying."

She had just assumed that Belmos, being a master and all, would be able to just, she didn't know, wave his hand, maybe chant a few arcane words, and dispel the thing. Just like that. For the first time she began to realize how much she didn't understand about magic and, she was loathe to admit it even to herself, that frightened her. This was a world unto itself and she was an interloper. Now she could only hope it didn't get her killed in the meantime.

"Well," he said, bringing her drifting thoughts back into their current situation. "It seems like I have a need to speak with Jesira after all. Shall we go?"
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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 12)

Postby ellebellie » September 1st, 2012, 11:18:07 pm

Again, wonderful! Please continue to write more!

I just returned from a very long hiatus
(last time I actually played was in 2012),
so I'm still getting back into the swing of things.
Anybody know how many new creatures I missed?

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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 13)

Postby Nerruse » September 14th, 2012, 1:50:56 pm

Chapter Thirteen


The way back to Jesira's manor house seemed to take forever, every step heavy with the finality of defeat. Ruin's confidence was badly shaken. She admitted it; flitting from port to port, blades in her hands, magic at her call and Ling Shen's power and companionship to fall back on had made her arrogant. She was cavalier, an outlaw, not quite a mage but not quite not. Just when she thought she had the world figured out it came crashing down around her. And here she was, dragging the man she'd promised to protect down with her.

Belmos seemed to sense the dark current of her thoughts. "It's not your fault, you know," he said. He walked a pace behind her. Following. "You couldn't have known what you were dealing with. Jesira would have known that and used it to her advantage. I'm afraid I've dragged you into the middle of what could very well be a magi war, if what I suspect comes to pass."

Anger flared, bright and hot. Ruin stopped and turned to face him. "And what is that suspicion, exactly?" She stepped forward, getting right into his face. He flinched at her withering glare. "What is any of this? Magi, the arcane, dragons, it's all so vague and for all I know, a complete lie! You're no better than the rest of them." She spun on her heel and stalked away, leaving him standing speechless in the street.

She was so sick of all of this, she thought as she walked. From that one bloody night on the docks two years ago, she'd had no peace, no rest and no escape from magi and the magic that ruled their world. It wasn't Belmos, she knew that, and on some level she regretted yelling at him. It was what he represented, the power he'd once held. The Order he'd been a part of. And, more importantly, she was afraid. Cold fear hitched up her spine like a spider, making her skin crawl. That was the heart of it, really. She was way over her head, drowning and alone and even a master magi couldn't save her.

At the corner of an intersection flanked by a small, misty garden on her right and an upscale merchant pub on the left, she stopped. Staggering over to the small bench in the garden surrounded by white lilies, she retched into the flowers until she had nothing left, disgust and shame flooding her emptied stomach. Then, shaking, she collapsed on the wet, cold wood.

*****


It was a long time before she stirred. The sky was dark, the air cold against her already clammy skin when she awoke. She rubbed at her temples, thoughts hazy and sluggish. Hadn't felt like that since the dark days following the death of her parents. Yet, she found, this time her breakdown felt almost cleansing. But with it came the guilt. She hadn't gotten angry with Belmos, she'd abandoned him.

Well, first things first. She stood up, took a deep breath and headed for the pub. She must've looked a sight, cold, bedraggled and ragged, but the barkeep gave her hardly more than a glance and a raised brow in warning. She inclined her head slightly, acknowledging him, and immediately headed for the chamber room to clean up the best she could.

Once presentable, somewhat, she took a seat at the counter, ordered hot tea and whatever soup they were serving. While she waited she spent some time observing the crowd. Fat-bellied merchants with red faces, alternately laughing and swearing over their cards and cups. Mistresses clung to the richest and ugliest of them like ticks. She should have felt disdain, but Ruin could muster only vague pity. That was the life she would have led, if she hadn't found the blade first. In that, at least, she was fortunate indeed.

Her meal arrived and Ruin set to eating, giving no further thought to the merchants and their empty-eyed companions. Then she paid, wincing inwardly at the ridiculous cost, and left.

Full dark had fallen in the meantime, but in this more affluent part of town the street lamps were lit promptly, filling the streets with flickering yellow light. It reminded her of the hellhounds and was just about as friendly to someone like her. She noticed some city guards nearby, watching her. Their hands rested on the pommels of their swords. Ignoring them, she turned and headed back the way she had come much earlier in the day, carefully retracing her path.

He was gone by the time she returned to the spot she'd left him of course, but she doubted he'd have gone far. Then she heard a familiar growl behind her. She turned, slowly. A hellhound stood in the street. It gazed at her with those candle-yellow eyes for a moment, then to her surprise, ignored it. It was sniffing around in the street as though looking for something. Or someone. Shit, she was such an idiot.

The hound raised its head, staring into the distance for a long moment. It barked once and bounded off down a sidestreet. Without a second thought Ruin followed it, chasing the demonic hound into the darkness.
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Re: The Chronicles of Ruin: A MagiStream Story (Ch. 14)

Postby Nerruse » October 11th, 2012, 12:40:04 pm

Chapter Fourteen


Thoughts of all the terrible things that happened to those walking alone in the dark flitted through her mind as Ruin chased the hellhound, but as it turned out, her concern was baseless. The hound stopped just outside one of the more respectable, if less hygienic pubs. To her surprise, instead of a repeat of the Golden Koi attack, it simply turned to face the street and sat down next to the door. It blinked at her, looked aside to the door, then back again. Well then.

She squared her shoulders, readjusted her clothing and pushed open the door. She'd only been to this particular pub, The Den, once before but it was just as she remembered. With warm red walls and clean, if aged furniture, it was inviting and almost homey. More suited to overland travelers, mostly traders and the occasional sellsword, but welcoming to anyone who wouldn't cause trouble.

Not that anyone would, the owner being the formidable woman known simply as Fox. Ruin saw her tending the bar. She was an older woman, red hair streaked with gray, but she still had the lean, hard form of the warrior she had once been. As soon as Ruin entered, she knew the Fox had seen her, taken her measure and dismissed her as harmless. Always a bigger fish, as the saying went.

"Ruin!"

Turning, she saw him seated on the right side of the open common area, at one of the few actually booths by the window. He seemed relaxed, smiling and waving her over, a mug of steaming something in his other hand. Odd. She rubbed at the bridge of her nose, shaking herself a little. Always so suspicious. Sure, it kept her alive, but it sure didn't do much for her social life, such as it was.

"Belmos," she returned, approaching. "I'm sorry about earlier, I just…"

"No, it's fine. I understand. You were right; I haven't been entirely straight with you. Now that we're all here, I can remedy that."

"We?"

Sharpe's head poked up over the edge of the booth as he stood. "Hey girly, long time comin', eh?"

"What are you after?" she asked, scowling.

"Hey, easy," he said, looking pained. "We were like family once, if ya don't 'member. What changed?"

She glared at him.

He threw his hands up and stepped away. "Fine, 'ave it your way then. Evenin', Belmos." He left in a swirl of cloak, whistling a jaunty tune as he slipped out the door.

Ruin watched him go. Once the door finally clicked shut, she dropped her hand from the hilt of her sword. As she turned to occupy the recently vacated seat, she noticed the Fox's gaze flicker, lingering on her for barely a blink. Tolerated but not welcomed. Story of her life, really.

"What was that about?" Belmos asked, looking somewhat deflated.

"Long story. I hope you haven't told him anything important."

"Nothing more than what he already knows. If you don't trust him, why did you take this job?"

"Good," she said, ignoring the question. "We don't have much time. There's a hellhound outside."

He paled. "Again?"

"No, I think it's just here to watch us. We'll need to get moving soon before Jesira gets impatient."

"Too late for that," he muttered, mostly to himself.

Well, maybe there was hope for him yet. Then again, he did know Jesira somehow.

"What do you think she wants?"

He shrugged. "Could be anything."

"The dragons?" She kept her voice low. One did not summon dragons lightly. Superstitious crap, most likely, but these days she wasn't so sure.

"I wish I knew. Really. I don't even know how she found out about them. She hasn't been part of the order for a--, well, a very long time."

Ruin raised a brow at that, but Belmos didn't elaborate. Just nothing more to tell, but then, she supposed it wasn't something she needed to know right now.

"I guess we should find out then."

"Yes."

They both rose. Ruin sensed a new kind of tension between them. Not that she should have been surprised but, it still kind of hurt. Strange how for someone she barely knew except by reputation until recently, she had found herself feeling, well, comfortable. Maybe because finally, someone knew her secret. Or maybe it was the way those clear blue eyes regarded her…oh, stop it. You're only thinking that way because you haven’t had a good tumble in awhile, she chided herself. That was all it was. All it would ever be, him being a Magi, and a shockingly naïve one at that. One does not generally sleep with one's enemies.

But those eyes…
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