New Wicked Age: Chapter 1


BlueSlime

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Aug 12, 2010
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#1
Chapter 1 - Sam'al

In a wicked age, a decadent and wealthy empire has overextended itself. City states that have sworn fealty to the Emperor in the past are now being corrupted by foreign cult influence, an ambitious local aristocracy, and general unlawfulness. The trade city of Sam'al, at the extreme east of the Empire, is an exemplar of this condition.

The Emperor hopes that the arranged marriage of his only daughter, Lillian, to the son of the ruling family of Sam'al, shall keep this vital trade city and its considerable military might, squarely within the grip of the Empire. However, many forces are contriving to put a stop to this. There is a feeling of unrest in the city, especially amongst the growing number of poor labourers and the dispossessed. They turn to criminals and cultists for protection, as the local aristocracy seems content to let them starve and die of disease in the outer slums.

Some believe it is time for an uprising - and one such person is the leader of a powerful gang known locally as the Hounds. They are not well-intentioned idealists. They are thugs, cutthroats, and alley-thieves, united by the desire for a better life for themselves. Their leader recognizes that many are willing to follow him, in the blind hope that doing so will raise them out of despair.

Others who do not cling to the protection of criminals instead flock to the words of a prophet of death. Long has the cult of nameless death had roots in Sam'al - a city that rests above an ancient subterranean labyrinth full of ghoulish horrors. The cult styles itself as the keepers of the dead, the servants of a wrathful, unfeeling god that must be sated annually with the death of a beautiful life in full bloom - usually a virgin maiden of beauty or a strong, youthful man full of promise. It is believed that the cult, with the favor of its god, could command the ghouls to attack the unbelievers or enemies of the cult. There is little doubt that the fanatical cultists, who have many followers, both secret and public, desire to remain a central power in the city. Their influence is felt in every part of life, from the lowliest beggar to the halls of the affluent and rich.

Into this nest of vipers stride three heroines - the Emperor's daughter, Lillian, with her own ideas of how to bring order to this city, Lenka, a promising rogue and member of the dreaded Hounds, and Dalian, a fair maiden selected by her cult as the chosen sacrifice to her nameless god, yet perhaps she has a chance to save herself and still appease her god? What does this wicked age hold in store for these three, and who if any of them shall achieve what they desire?

******

Lillian

The imperial princess peered out through the curtains of her elevated palanquin, borne on the shoulders of four powerful Norsers - the elite and deadly soldiers of the Emperor. Beside them on either side were two long columns of two dozen valkyries, the winged-helmet female soldiers which served as bodyguards for all ladies of the royal bloodline. Simta, the valkyrie victora - champion of the elite spear wielding, women, strode beside the princess' litter, her golden helm and breastplate gleaming in the desert sun.

"The governor's palace is close, your highness," Simta announced, professionally. "I see the Governor and your groom to be. His Imperial Majesty wishes you to be kind to your future consort and father-in-law. This marriage is crucial to the future of the empire."

Lillian could hear the concern in Simta's voice. No one, not even her father, had ever been able to truly order around the princess to full success. She was willful, and though the Emperor had arranged and ordered this marriage, there was every chance that Lillian might ruin it. Simta, being a strong woman who did not have fear of speaking honestly to royalty, was as much a caretaker as she was a bodyguard. Her loyalty lay with Lillian only so far as it fit the Emperor's plan.

******

Lenka

The orma den smelled of flavored smoke, and tasted of sweat and drinks both bitter and sweet. Men and women of ill-repute sat together in clumps, some drinking, some fondling one another, and others gambling in games of throwing sticks, or mandala stones. Lenka's eyes roamed between her own drink and the largest circle of late afternoon conspirators, which included Hidar Eil, a man of equal parts vision, cunning, and brutality. The men with him were grain farmers and river fishermen and porters. Lay workers who represented their colleagues and individual communities. She could see the way Hidar's intense eyes and animated expressions were affecting his listeners. They were nodding. Some of them clenched their fists. Violence was being burned into their hearts. Some wealthy merchants were going to find trouble when next they went to bargain with these men. Shipments would be set aside for the people, and kept from the rich. Investigations would be set in motion by the city guard - violent skirmishes would occur, ambushes would be set. Survivors would be intimidated, their families threatened. Slowly, brick by brick, Hidar was setting up a culture of fear, chaos, and anarchy.

Zain took a seat next to Lenka. The girl had noticed his presence only a split second before he took a seat next to her, and she counted herself a very perceptive person. It spoke volumes about the creature who now shared the smoking pipe placed in front of her.

"We have new assignments from Hidar. I think you will enjoy this new one, Lenka. It seems our leader has faith in your ability to kill the prophet of the death cult. He said he wanted it nice and messy - I could only recommend your talents." The killer smiled an icy, unfeeling smile - the sort Lenka imagined he gave to his victims before he twisted his knife into their hearts...

*****

Dalian

Fine black silks had been prepared for her, and her nubile body had been dressed by three female attendants. Perfumed oils were rubbed into her skin, and semi-permanent henna tattoos were painted in beautiful patterns along her forearms and ankles. Bowls of plump dates and juicy round grapes were placed before her, food that she had rarely been allowed throughout her life was now set in front of her in abundance. Dalian knew that she appeared now as an exotic beauty, an exemplar of a Sam'alian maiden, a perfect concubine for nameless death in the eternal hereafter. Rich, steaming coffee, flavored with sweet tal root extract was served to her in fine cups of expertly worked glass - provided through the generosity of wealthy cult followers amongst the noble and priest castes. Only the best was placed before their most adored sacrifice.

A clap of hands from the two large guards with falchions at their hips announced that the female attendants should leave at once. The women did so without a word, leaving the scantily silken clad virgin to lie alone on the cushioned divan and await her visitor. The beads hanging in the arched entryway parted, revealing no less than Nidintu-Bel, prophet of the nameless god, into the chamber. Instinct told her to rise and lower her gaze in front of this powerful man, but he held his hand up to stop her movement.

"No, my dear girl, it is I who bow before you," the prophet said in a melodious, fatherly voice that Dalian could not help but be charmed by. The powerful priest, capable of ordering death at a whim, bowed low to her, casting his eyes to his feet in a display of humility and deference that shocked her. She had been unprepared for kindness. This was the man who said she must be fed to eaters of flesh in darkness - yet why did she not fear or hate him?

"My dear Dalian, it has been my great burden and holiest honor to speak and hold confidence with every chosen one, each year, and explain how important and noble a thing it is that they and now you, shall do." The priest smiled benevolently at her, and extended a hand to brush back the girl's hair, as a parent or lover might do. "I wish you to know that you do more for your people with this great act than I could ever do with all my years of experience and oratory skills, and I assure you that you shall not be without reward in the hereafter. There is a place of honor set aside for you in the grey realms to which we all are consigned to go. When you and I meet on the other side of the great veil, it shall be I who will wash your feet. The act of death shall be a series of moments, and it will not be your end, but your true beginning."
 

Farren

Cthulhu
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Mar 7, 2010
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#2
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Dalian had been enjoying herself immensely, sampling the delightful food and revelling in the faint aroma of the coffee. Her garments were just wonderful, such soft silk, she had only dreamed of acquiring such finery in her lifetime. Had it not been for the lingering knowledge in the back of her mind that she was being pampered not out of love for her, but for that which she was expected to do for the cult, she would have considered her life perfect. She had always enjoyed attention, something being heaped upon her in spades now, yet she couldn't shake the feeling that this was not how things should go. She had often tried to convince herself that it was simply her fear of death, yet that didn't ring true to her. A sacrifice would be made, they would always have to be made and she had no desire to see their nameless god unappeased. It wasn't supposed to be her though, at least not this year. She was sure of it.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the guards clapping, she had a visitor. Placing her coffee out of the way, she didn't feel a need to move from her comfortable position until she saw who her visitor was. She had already sat up by the time he stopped her, her natural reaction to his presence a hard habit to break. Even now, she found the priest's voice calming, though it didn't completely erase her concern. Still, it was strange to her that he would act this way towards her even now, if he was at least malicious towards her it would make it so much easier to quell her indecision.

The girl listened to the prophets words, leaning forward just a little as his hand brushed through her amber locks. To be a disappointment to this man would be a terrible thing, he was giving her so much and such an important task. Things would be simpler if her doubt would simply vanish away with his promises.

“So many blessings for one such as myself, I can scarce believe that I've been granted the honour of appeasing the great one in the world beyond.” Dalian smiled, pushing her doubts to the back of her mind for now. It would do no good to dwell on them at this moment. “I must admit to being a little nervous, I don't wish to embarrass myself as I leave this world.”

Being eaten wasn't the most appealing way to be done the world, though when she felt it was time to give herself to the nameless one she was sure she could do so with dignity. To tell the prophet that she thought she was the wrong sacrifice would likely be misconstrued as a lack of faith in her duty, while Dalian was sure that the opposite was true.
 

Aztlan

Evard's Tentacles of Forced Intrusion
Feb 13, 2011
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#3
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lillian looked in the direction of the palace with indifference. Lillian listening to her valkyrie Simta telling her how she said she should act. Lillian replied with a sarcastic tone, "I'd hate to upset my father." She then continued to say, "I'd much prefer to clean out this city of crime and corruption."

Lillian sat in her curtained palanquin, she felt the palanquin stop and lower to the ground. Lillian then thought, I guess were at the palace. Lillian looked through the curtains to see the palace basking in it's glory. Lillian was helped out by her squads of valkyries. Thee royal precession was then met by the servants of the palace, the servants took no time to lead them into the palace.
 

GargantuaBlarg

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Sep 23, 2009
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#4
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lenka leaned against her table, her head propped up in her left hand. A tankard of some watery swill sat in front of her... supposedly the pricier drinks in the place were better, but she tried 'em a couple times, and she didn't taste or feel a difference, so she went back to ordering the cheapest stuff. She supposed it was for the better - she didn't like the feeling that came with alcohol, that dull buzz that interfered with her reflexes. The pipe she toyed with in her hand wasn't much different, but whatever they put in it tasted good, so she couldn't complain.

Deciding the cup and it's contents were no longer of interest, she shifted her attention to Hidar and his latest batch of townies. She supposed she should feel sorry for 'em... they were probably gonna go off and do something stupid, and then they'd get put in the stocks, or jailed, or beaten, or fined for twice as much they ever made. She couldn't blame 'em, though. Those nobles taxed them into the ground, taking everything they worked for, and then threatening them because it wasn't enough. At least the Hounds were honest about robbing you blind.

But once they got in trouble... she smiled gleefully at the thought. Once they got in trouble, Hidar always set up some retaliation - a raid, or a sneak attack, or... whatever. It really didn't matter - it always involved a big fight with the guards, dozens of hounds gathering to wreak hell. Those were always got her blood pumping - knifing one or two, all by their lonesomes, was almost boring in comparison. She never got tired of the feel of that hot crimson as it splashed on her, or the noises they made when they realized they had things jammed in them that they shouldn't.


She sensed suddenly a presence that hadn't been there before lowering itself onto the stool next to her. She hadn't even noticed it! She turned to it, hand instinctively flinching toward the knife she carried with her, jarring her mug in the process.

But it was only Zain, one of the other Hounds. He didn't seem to register her surprise - or perhaps just wanted to say whatever it was he came for first.

"Good. I always hated that fat fraud anyway... sent more people to his god than he ever will." There was a bare moment's pause, after which her voice filled the air between them again. "What else did he say? How soon's he need it done?" Tongue suddenly dry, she raised her cup to her face, giving Zain an opening to reply as she took in a few mouthfuls.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
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Aug 12, 2010
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#5
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

"Ah..." began the prophet, his eyes sad and understanding, "It is the nature of true sacrifice, young Dalian. If a fruit seller were to gift a king one fruit from his baskets, what might he expect if he gave his lord an average, bruised fruit? He would receive only scorn and possibly derision from his better. So of course, the seller must give the closest to perfect fruit that he can find from his bushel. It is not a proper gift, if it is not one's best. That is why you were chosen, Dalian. You are in the bloom of your life. You are young, vibrant, beautiful, intelligent, and full of promise. You could live a long life of dedication to our god, spreading the message of our church. You could become a symbol of our congregation, a high priestess whose words could sway the masses. It would be a good life, but your reward would still be not as great as to be a consort of death itself. To give yourself over to death as you are now, when all possibilities stretch out before you. We as a faith and you personally are giving the nameless one our very best. That is why we shall continue to have his favor, and fear not for your eternal soul. It goes on to a great and noble continuity."

The prophet patted Dalian's bare knee reassuringly. "Do not fear having doubts. It is natural to do so when facing the great mystery of our god, and those that have come before you have wrestled with the same questions that you are doubtlessly asking of yourself now. I am here to answer all of your questions, and to put your mind and soul at ease. It is the very least that I can do for you."

His voice was calming and his words were logical and seemed to put things in an understandable perspective. They were also flattering. Was she really the best that the cult could offer their god? Was she indeed so admired? She thought back to the sacrifices of previous years - young warriors and beauties. She had felt aloofly thankful, but she had been young. She knew they did a great thing, but it was not until her name had been called at a congregation several months ago that she had given true consideration to what it was that they had done. Was she truly the greatest offering to give their god? She was pretty she supposed, but she could think of several others who might be prettier - one in particular stood out in her mind, the lady Beletsunu, who was near to Dalian's own age and known throughout the city for her captivating beauty. Would she be a better offering to the nameless god?

***************
Simta did not quite roll her eyes, but the princess had learned the champion's facial expressions, and knew that her words were not praiseworthy in the fighter's eyes.

"Crime and corruption, like all evils, are never truly driven out. You may remove evil men, but their works would continue on in the form of another. I would not overly dwell on such idealistic goals, your highness, but focus on the things that I could change. A marriage between yourself and the governor's son would hold the empire together. An empire, I might add, that you may one day be empress of, should - gods forbid - something happen to your royal brother."

Simta's powerful arm supported the princess as she descended from her palanquin. Local guards surrounded the imperial entourage in several protective rings, and the outer gates were barred from all onlookers. The princess was shortly escorted inside the palace by a vizier, who showed her into the grand hall where the governor sat upon a throne that had once belonged to the king of this city, long since deposed when the Empire conquered it generations ago.

Ipqu-Annun was a broad man, both at the shoulders and at his belly. He had the look of an old warrior past his prime, layers of fat extending over what once may have been a powerful and impressive figure. He had hard eyes, a face weathered and pock-marked, and his mane of long black hair had begun to show signs of grey streaks in it. He wore a simple band of iron on his head with the imperial seal branded in the front, to mark him as an official of the Empire. He stood as Lillian entered the room and bowed. An elevated and cushioned chair had been brought to the hall. It allowed the princess to sit and be on an equal level as the governor.

Beside Annun were a small gathering of nobles, and to his immediate right and left were two figures, a man and woman, both young with hair as dark and rich as their father's must have been when he was younger. The young man was Kurigalzu, no doubt of it. So this was to be her prince consort? He was handsome enough she supposed, and built like a warrior, but she had known many handsome men and many impressive warriors. They flocked about her in the capitol palace, sycophants and boasters, and all so dreadfully boring. There was no indication that this man was any different - though she did note that he did not eye her with the adoration that many had always held for her. Was this lordling capable of independent thought? How quaint.

On the opposite side from Kurigalzu stood the lord's daughter, Beletsunu. Yes, she was definitely everything she had heard and more. A beauty among beauties, it was as if some spirit's glamour had been cast over the young woman so that every hair fell into perfect place and every shadow of her figure cast her in the perfect light. She was radiant, and most likely well aware of it. She could see a devilish cunning in the woman's eyes, and was not sure how she felt about the way the young noblewoman smiled at her.

"Greetings and welcome, your highness," said Ipqu-Annun. "May you find rest and shade here at the end of your long journey. I am so grateful and honored to host your imperial personage within my humble walls."

************

Zain observed the way Lenka drank the cheap booze slowly, to give him time to answer, and after a brief moment did so.

"He wants it to happen two days from now. During the cult's celebration of their annual sacrifice. Public and messy, as much chaos and discord as you can achieve, but do not reveal your identity. Better that the blame fall upon the nobility, perhaps even this imperial princess who's come to town. A leaderless, angry, and uncertain cult can be manipulated to our own ends, that is what you must achieve. Use the time you have to plan it well. The prophet must be exposed."

Zain stood up. "I have my own task to see to. I wish you luck, Lenka. A new era is dawning, and we shall be there to greet the sunrise."

With that, the man left, slipping out of the tavern through the back door, walking with the air of a predator about him. A dangerous man, that Zain, Lenka thought as she finished her drink. So, a daylight assassination of a prophet in front of a mob of his followers on their holiest of holy days? She was going to need a plan, that was damned certain.
 

Farren

Cthulhu
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Mar 7, 2010
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#6
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Dalian listened intently to the prophet's words, hanging on them as he calmed her. Even his simple touch adding a great measure of reassurance that she would be a good sacrifice to the great one. That was perhaps the problem though, would not simply accepting her current fate be the easier course of action. Her blissful rewards in the hereafter were not something she would give up lightly, though what if this was simply a test, a chance for her to prove her faith by not simply accepting what was arranged for her. These were all thoughts she would not share, though she had questions still she wished to ask, perhaps she would find some answers within them.

“I'm glad to have the opportunity to clear my mind in preparation for my duty. This is all more than I could have ever asked for, and I will remember it fondly as I pass, though I might like to to walk the streets given the opportunity, just once more. I feel it would help clear my mind to see those whom I will be giving myself for.” Dalian spoke softly, looking down a little shyly. She was not used to asking for things from the priest and in the back of her mind she feared it would be seen as a chance for her to escape, which she was hoping might present itself. She wondered idly if any of the past sacrifices tried to escape their planned fate.

“It... will be painful too, won't it?” This was one of her concerns, not that she imagined anything could be done about it.
 

Aztlan

Evard's Tentacles of Forced Intrusion
Feb 13, 2011
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#7
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lillian looked at the governor and put on a big smile. She gave a nod of appreciation, and said "thank you for the nice gestures, it's nice seeing you all again." Lillian continued " could someone escort me to my room?" Kurigalzu, Lillian's fiance stood forward, he said "I'd love to escort you to your room."

Lillian followed Kurigalzu down the halls. The route was very easy to remember as there were very few turns and such. They talked about normal things, Lillian found Kurigalzu was not as boring as she thought. They finally arrived at her room. He opened the doors, and led Lillian into a very luxurious room. Filled with paintings, colorful carpets, and things such as that. Kurigalzu gave Lillian a peck on the cheek. he then said "call a servant if you need anything", he left the room leaving Lillian to herself.

(Mod Edited to change 'Annun' with Kurigalzu, as that is the groom-to-be's name.)
 
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GargantuaBlarg

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Sep 23, 2009
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#8
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

She watched as Zain stalked out, hoping she'd remember any little details the next time she saw him in a crowd. She didn't like it when people got close to her without her knowing - especially him.

She spent the next few minutes just sitting at her place at the table. One elbow rested on the sticky table; her chin rested on the wrist of that hand, and her emptied mug hung suspended under it, suspended by her fingertips, which slowly swirled her empty mug in circles. Her eyes were unfocused, staring at nothing as she tried to thing of a plan.

If I could cause a riot, that might give me some cover... she mused. But what could I do to ensure that they do? She thought it over for a while, but nothing would come to mind. Eventually, she gave up - she had to talk to Hadir. She got up, and went to stand across from him, visible as she leaning against beam until he finished with his little circle of rubes. When he finished, she'd take him to one of the backrooms, where they'd not be overheard.

---

"You want me to kill the prophet. And you want me to do it without being found out, but I have to do it during the Sacrifice."

"You know that one guard captain that's been out to get me, right? Made me his personal project? If he even smells a hint of me he'll be at our throats!"
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
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Aug 12, 2010
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#9
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Dalian

Dalian listened intently to the prophet's words, hanging on them as he calmed her. Even his simple touch adding a great measure of reassurance that she would be a good sacrifice to the great one. That was perhaps the problem though, would not simply accepting her current fate be the easier course of action. Her blissful rewards in the hereafter were not something she would give up lightly, though what if this was simply a test, a chance for her to prove her faith by not simply accepting what was arranged for her. These were all thoughts she would not share, though she had questions still she wished to ask, perhaps she would find some answers within them.

“I'm glad to have the opportunity to clear my mind in preparation for my duty. This is all more than I could have ever asked for, and I will remember it fondly as I pass, though I might like to to walk the streets given the opportunity, just once more. I feel it would help clear my mind to see those whom I will be giving myself for.” Dalian spoke softly, looking down a little shyly. She was not used to asking for things from the priest and in the back of her mind she feared it would be seen as a chance for her to escape, which she was hoping might present itself. She wondered idly if any of the past sacrifices tried to escape their planned fate.

“It... will be painful too, won't it?” This was one of her concerns, not that she imagined anything could be done about it.

Nidintu-Bel looked at her with a measuring gaze. "Yes, I suppose you should walk the streets of this world once more, as you wish. But it is dangerous for you to walk alone. There are many unbelievers who would wish to spoil you before you can enact the ritual. You have already been marked for it in our prayers to the nameless one. If you are spoiled, your reward in eternity may be ruined. We must keep you safe. So I shall have our best guards accompany you."

He sighed as she asked her last question. "I cannot honestly say. It may be and it might not. It is a sacred and private thing between our god and each sacrifice as to the exact nature of their passage into his lands. We only know that your mortal shell will be consumed by his servants, the ghouls. That may well be after you have passed beyond concern of pain."
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
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Aug 12, 2010
7,068
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#10
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lillian

Lillian looked at the governor and put on a big smile. She gave a nod of appreciation, and said "thank you for the nice gestures, it's nice seeing you all again." Lillian continued " could someone escort me to my room?" Kurigalzu, Lillian's fiance stood forward, he said "I'd love to escort you to your room."

Lillian followed Kurigalzu down the halls. The route was very easy to remember as there were very few turns and such. They talked about normal things, Lillian found Kurigalzu was not as boring as she thought. They finally arrived at her room. He opened the doors, and led Lillian into a very luxurious room. Filled with paintings, colorful carpets, and things such as that. Kurigalzu gave Lillian a peck on the cheek. he then said "call a servant if you need anything", he left the room leaving Lillian to herself.

(Mod Edited to change 'Annun' with Kurigalzu, as that is the groom-to-be's name.)

Though it appeared that Kurigalzu was speaking all the right words to her, her groom-to-be did not seem all that pleased to be with the imperial princess. Something seemed... off... about him. As though he had many other problems to think about and the princess was merely an unavoidable distraction. The peck on the cheek he gave her was an afterthought and nothing more, as if he'd been handed a script beforehand and remembered that 'ah yes, now was the time to give her a kiss.'

It appeared that he couldn't leave her soon enough, and it left Lillian with the distinct, and rather unflattering impression that the governor's son might not actually want to be with her. It was a startling feeling for the princess, who'd been dealing with sycophants all her life. She was left alone in her room, although Simta would offer to accompany her, if she wished it.
 

Aztlan

Evard's Tentacles of Forced Intrusion
Feb 13, 2011
500
0
#11
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lillian began to think "I guess I'm the not the only one who doesn't want to be married." "I wonder what is on his mind, well when i see him again I won't pry." She thought again "I should now think of what to do next, should I go into the city, or wait here?" She put some of her belongings she brought in the room while pondering about her plans. She decided she'd find Simta and tell her to escort her into the city. She left her room and immediately ran into Simta, Lillian then said "just who I was looking for, you wouldn't mind taking me into the city would you?"
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
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Aug 12, 2010
7,068
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#12
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lenka

She watched as Zain stalked out, hoping she'd remember any little details the next time she saw him in a crowd. She didn't like it when people got close to her without her knowing - especially him.

She spent the next few minutes just sitting at her place at the table. One elbow rested on the sticky table; her chin rested on the wrist of that hand, and her emptied mug hung suspended under it, suspended by her fingertips, which slowly swirled her empty mug in circles. Her eyes were unfocused, staring at nothing as she tried to thing of a plan.

If I could cause a riot, that might give me some cover... she mused. But what could I do to ensure that they do? She thought it over for a while, but nothing would come to mind. Eventually, she gave up - she had to talk to Hadir. She got up, and went to stand across from him, visible as she leaning against beam until he finished with his little circle of rubes. When he finished, she'd take him to one of the backrooms, where they'd not be overheard.

---

"You want me to kill the prophet. And you want me to do it without being found out, but I have to do it during the Sacrifice."

"You know that one guard captain that's been out to get me, right? Made me his personal project? If he even smells a hint of me he'll be at our throats!"

Hidar laughed and stroked his dark mustache with his fingers as he listened to Lenka's complaints. There was as usual that mad gleam in his eyes. Lenka knew that Hidar was a visionary and something of a genius, but she was also damned sure that he played jump rope with insanity on frequent occasion. It was what made him so damned scary. No one messed with Hidar.

"Yes, during the sacrifice. Right when he drops that loony girl into the ghoul cave. I want Nidintu-Bel to meet his god in front of all his followers. Let them know that death does not protect even the pompous men who declare themselves Its bureaucrats." Hidar chuckled to himself, and then midway through it saw the serious look in Lenka's eyes, and drew the laughter up short.

"Ah, anyway... the audacious nature of this maneuver is your greatest ally. Go in cloaked, your face concealed, and while all their dopey eyes are fixed upon their sacrifice, put a knife into his back, or hack his head off, or whatever. Just make it messy like you always do. Don't worry about the guard captain - he's already out for your blood, so he's no more dangerous than he normally is. You'll be doing his masters a favor by removing the prophet, or so they'll think until the blame is heaped upon them and they come running to the Hounds for vengeance." Hidar's grin was wide and showed a pearly row of finely kept teeth - an enviable thing for a gutter-runner in Sam'al.

"No doubt you have ways to create diversions. Assemble any crew you need. There should be enough chaos to make good your escape. Hells, you could even try your luck with the labyrinth. The ghouls' will be busy chewing up the sacrifice, you might be able to make it to one of the cult's many secret exits from the labyrinth. Not so secret though... I know of a few myself. The advantage of many eyes and ears." The schemer winked at Lenka. "And when you've done it and the new order is in place, you'll be a wealthy woman."
 

GargantuaBlarg

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Sep 23, 2009
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#13
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

"That's not what I mean, Hidar. He see's me there, he's gonna start sayin' it was us. Hell, he won't even have to see me - just what I do to that priestly parasite!", Lenka's mention of Nidintu-bel spat like it were a foul taste.

She leaned against a wall, bouncing one leg on it's ball as she stared at the wall, thinking. This job would piss off practically the entire city. If she fucked this one up, it wouldn't just be the guard out for them - the rest of the city would be baying for their blood!

Hmm...

A dark smile spread across Lenka's face. The entire city. If she pulled this off, she'd be tearing off the head of that infernal cult on top of solidifying the Hounds' position in the city. If she failed... it'd would be a hell of a ride to meet their god.

"Guess I'll just have to make sure he doesn't find out, won't I? Alright... I gotta go, start makin' arrangements." She walked out the door, muttering something to herself as she left. "Whoever I want..."

Emerging back into the darkened room of the tavern proper, Lenka looked around the room, peering through the smoke to check the faces of those who were here. She needed one of their ears... someone to find out what Ashur would be doing on sacrifice day. She'd also need some grunts, though what for exactly she wasn't completely sure yet.

She ran through the places they controlled in her head, trying to dredge up a mental catalogue of whatever resources might use in her little scheme.

She would also have to case the cult's temple, where they planned to throw the idiot they conned into playing sacrifice to their freakish pets. She supposed she should bring one of the others along with her, someone who knew what the damn thing played out like - where the priest and sacrifice would be, potential escape routes, and whatever crowd and guards would be there. Besides that... she barely knew anything of the place, other than it had the cult's pit of flesh-eaters. Unsurprising, given her dislike of the faith.
 

Farren

Cthulhu
Moderator
Mar 7, 2010
356
18
#14
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Dalian had been expecting to be under guard, she was well aware that the city wasn't safe and that some were jealous of her position. She would not abide being spoiled any more than the prophet would for she still wished to serve their god in the end. "I thank you, I understand that it is dangerous, but perhaps those same non believers will be swayed by my resolve. It is the most I can hope for."

Her eyes dropped a little as his other reply though, her head slowly nodding. She was sure that any pain she would feel would be worth the reward, it was just not a pleasant thing to dwell on. "I see. I'm sure I will not suffer more than I have to before I am within his embrace."

Debating that single point further would only drive her to madness, so instead she extended an arm, waving it over to the assembled luxuries. "Please, if you care to make yourself more comfortable, I do not wish to be the only one enjoying this when I have so much to be grateful for. If not for you or the others I would not have been given this chance to appease the great one."
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#15
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lillian

Lillian began to think "I guess I'm the not the only one who doesn't want to be married." "I wonder what is on his mind, well when i see him again I won't pry." She thought again "I should now think of what to do next, should I go into the city, or wait here?" She put some of her belongings she brought in the room while pondering about her plans. She decided she'd find Simta and tell her to escort her into the city. She left her room and immediately ran into Simta, Lillian then said "just who I was looking for, you wouldn't mind taking me into the city would you?"

Simta raised a brow. "You've just been through the city, your highness. Anything and everything you could want shall be brought to you here. I'm afraid with the Death Festival so close and reports of elevate crime so high, my duty forbids me to let you endanger yourself by leaving to slum around with the lower castes. Besides... it is my understanding you have more important business to attend to. Why did you let the Lord Kurigalzu leave so quickly? Should you not take this precious time to get to know your future husband?"

The valkyrie seemed troubled by Lillian's misplaced priorities. The princess knew that she would have to be either clever or evasive or both to get by Simta's watchful eye.
 

Aztlan

Evard's Tentacles of Forced Intrusion
Feb 13, 2011
500
0
#16
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lillian grimaces at Simta's words, she then tells her "I would get to know my future husband, but he seems preoccupied by something." "The last thing I want to do is make him angry, that could be bad for me later on." "Well that's it I guess, you can go do your other duties." Lillian walks over to a chair by the window, and sits in it looking for any passages out of the castle.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#17
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lenka

"That's not what I mean, Hidar. He see's me there, he's gonna start sayin' it was us. Hell, he won't even have to see me - just what I do to that priestly parasite!", Lenka's mention of Nidintu-bel spat like it were a foul taste.

She leaned against a wall, bouncing one leg on it's ball as she stared at the wall, thinking. This job would piss off practically the entire city. If she fucked this one up, it wouldn't just be the guard out for them - the rest of the city would be baying for their blood!

Hmm...

A dark smile spread across Lenka's face. The entire city. If she pulled this off, she'd be tearing off the head of that infernal cult on top of solidifying the Hounds' position in the city. If she failed... it'd would be a hell of a ride to meet their god.

"Guess I'll just have to make sure he doesn't find out, won't I? Alright... I gotta go, start makin' arrangements." She walked out the door, muttering something to herself as she left. "Whoever I want..."

Emerging back into the darkened room of the tavern proper, Lenka looked around the room, peering through the smoke to check the faces of those who were here. She needed one of their ears... someone to find out what Ashur would be doing on sacrifice day. She'd also need some grunts, though what for exactly she wasn't completely sure yet.

She ran through the places they controlled in her head, trying to dredge up a mental catalogue of whatever resources might use in her little scheme.

She would also have to case the cult's temple, where they planned to throw the idiot they conned into playing sacrifice to their freakish pets. She supposed she should bring one of the others along with her, someone who knew what the damn thing played out like - where the priest and sacrifice would be, potential escape routes, and whatever crowd and guards would be there. Besides that... she barely knew anything of the place, other than it had the cult's pit of flesh-eaters. Unsurprising, given her dislike of the faith.

Hidar waved her away with a mad grin and was soon met by another group of men for some other scheme he doubtless had up his sleeves. A driven individual he certainly was. The fat royals had little clue what was in store for them.

Lenka put her mind to task, cataloging the Hounds' resources in her mind. They had spies amongst the palace servants and within some mid to low level supplicants within the cult. No one on the inner circle of course, they were too tight knit for that. The Hounds also had control of the black market. Caravans from every corner of the known earth entered through the city's gates daily, bringing with them exotic things. She was certain that if needed she could find someone selling any tool or weapon she might need, but the price - now that might be a different matter. The Hounds had money, and they had intimidation, but it was never certain how much Hidar was willing to let you take from the communal coffers to pay for something that might be better to 'have gone missing.'

She knew that the temple was guarded by zealots of the nameless death. Fanatics who were not to be ignored or underestimated. They were serious about defending the sanctity of their god's house, serious enough to have cut their own tongues off as part of their initiation into the sect's military wing. They communicated with hand signals that the Hounds had yet to understand. Any outsider caught studying the hand signals often ended up having a zealot's knife in his stomach. Sneaking into the temple at any time, night or day was difficult because of their watchfulness - and with their sacrifice having been chosen and prepared for the upcoming Death Festival, they were doubly on guard. If she wanted to know anything about getting inside of it, or more knowledge of what the festival would be like, she'd need to talk to the hounds' spymaster, Trota, a cranky old man who had survived to a rare age for a hardened criminal. His knowledge was extensive, and he knew who was safe to talk to in the city. He might be a good place to start.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#18
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lillian

Lillian grimaces at Simta's words, she then tells her "I would get to know my future husband, but he seems preoccupied by something." "The last thing I want to do is make him angry, that could be bad for me later on." "Well that's it I guess, you can go do your other duties." Lillian walks over to a chair by the window, and sits in it looking for any passages out of the castle.

"My duty is to protect and safeguard you. I shall do that here, your highness. I might add that my duty for this trip is also to assure that this wedding arranged by your father goes according to plan. The stability of the empire requires that this trade route remain in our hands." Simta said, unmoving.

From this one room, and under Simta's watchful eye, Lillian could not see any particular passage that would lead to the outside. She only had her memory of how she had come to this room from the front entrance to suggest a mode of exit. If she wanted to find another path, she must discover a way to explore the castle without Simta hounding her.
 

BlueSlime

Tentacle God
Moderator
Aug 12, 2010
7,068
63
#19
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Dalian

Dalian had been expecting to be under guard, she was well aware that the city wasn't safe and that some were jealous of her position. She would not abide being spoiled any more than the prophet would for she still wished to serve their god in the end. "I thank you, I understand that it is dangerous, but perhaps those same non believers will be swayed by my resolve. It is the most I can hope for."

Her eyes dropped a little as his other reply though, her head slowly nodding. She was sure that any pain she would feel would be worth the reward, it was just not a pleasant thing to dwell on. "I see. I'm sure I will not suffer more than I have to before I am within his embrace."

Debating that single point further would only drive her to madness, so instead she extended an arm, waving it over to the assembled luxuries. "Please, if you care to make yourself more comfortable, I do not wish to be the only one enjoying this when I have so much to be grateful for. If not for you or the others I would not have been given this chance to appease the great one."

The old prophet smiled and waved his hand. "I have already eaten. The temple provides enough sustenance for its prophet and holy guardians. Since you wish to travel and show your resolve and bravery as well as your piety to the masses, I shall not stop you. I shall alert Zengan, our finest blade amongst the Wordless Guardians to stand by your side along with his handpicked men to guard you. I shall pray for your safe return. Would you like a priestess to accompany you as well? Perhaps one could provide some happy conversation?"
 

Aztlan

Evard's Tentacles of Forced Intrusion
Feb 13, 2011
500
0
#20
Re: New Wicked Age: Chapter 1

Lillian sighs listening to Simta, she now tells her "I know what were here for." "I just wish, I could help people." "Well there is nothing to do now, so would you like to go on a walk with me through the castle?"