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Author Topic: Arraxia Rising: Strategy and Sectarus  (Read 1832 times)

Sabrath_Kell

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Arraxia Rising: Strategy and Sectarus
« on: May 24, 2015, 11:54:14 PM »
4. ARRAXIA RISING: Strategy and Sectarus

For over 500 years, the Arraxian Crown has plotted and schemed to bring about the destruction of the nations of the world, through whatever means necessary.
ARRAXIA RISING is a chronicle of its stories, plans, and machinations, played out across Etheria and the Dark Realms.



City of Elbereth, Westlock

Bonfires lit the grounds around the walls of Elbereth, coloring the celebrations of the Arraxian defeat of the Blood Wave force in oranges and yellows. For the first time in the history of the city, perhaps even the history of the country, Warlocks were heroes, even saviors. Knights and paladins, and even a few (well very few — maybe one or two) servants of Asyra struck up thanks-laden conversations and shared horns of wine with the Dark warriors, and even pretended not to be uncomfortable.

It was unnerving. Especially considering that openly practicing Warlocks were generally rounded up and taken off to a dark cell.

Sabrath Kell walked through the celebrants, watching. He didn’t enjoy standing still, even after battle. Stopping felt too much like losing, and standing still seemed to be far too close to dying. So he did what he always did after bringing his troops through to victory — he surveyed the camp, took stock of the costs, and made note of the troops who still stood ready. He surveyed the faces of the women and men he passed, searching their eyes, their smiles, their body language, their weapons.

The habit was undoubtedly a holdover from his much younger years, when he had started his career as a Warlord in the service of Ivarium. He had gained the title of Mort (the Ivarium equivalent of Captain) before he was 23, then had been named General of the Sixth Legion by age 30. It was not the most meteoric rise in the history of the Empire, but by then, his reputation had become entrenched.

His reputation stemmed from two unusual facts, not wholly unrelated. The first was that even as he continued to rack up victory after victory for his forces and the glory of Ivarium, he began to focus his attention on Dark magic. Eventually, he had openly admitted that he had been recruited by the Arraxian Crown, and that he was no longer Sabrath Kell the Warlord, but Sabrath Kell the Warlock. And yet despite that, his zeal for warfare did not wain. With his new Dark Arts and abilities, he continued to defeat any army or monstrous force gathered against him and his men.

The second reason for his reputation was his longsword Sectarus, a blade that even the demons eyed with something between fear and trepidation. The sword was ancient magic, older than the Infernal Interregnum, older than the old Sen Ahreal kingdoms, perhaps even as old as some of the ancient V’tar artifacts that were thought to predate Atalancia.

It was more than a sword, that he knew for certain. It had been forged in the likeness of a sword, cut men down like a sword, but its deadliness was much greater than that. Trapped within its dark runes and multifaceted blades was an ancient soul, a soul of exceeding malevolence and dark intelligence.

It called to me, Kell remembered. It called me by name, clearly and powerfully, in the deep recesses of my inner mind. Nevermind that I was locked in battle in the Shackled Lands. Before he had known it, he had wandered from the battlefield, through dense jungle, to a web-sealed cave. Inside, he had found a collection of rotting bags filled with Kumanjaro talismen and amulets, and a heavily magicked dragonscale case with the sword.

When he had opened the case, the eye that adorned the hilt had blinked and stared at him, and the voice had spoken to him as if they had known each other for decades.

:: Sabbrath! I am sorry to have pulled you away from the glory of the field of battle, but it was necessary. Let us go back together, and destroy those who would tarnish the reputation of the Empress. ::

He had taken the sword, and had done just that, slaying every last warrior and member of the village. And then, he had called down a curse on that place, a curse that now knew that Sectarus had supplied to him, tainting the ground, the vegetation, the rocks, the flies, and the corpses with blood-dark disintegrating rot.

His troops were brave men, but even they had quailed under the ferocity of his savageness and the unknown, powerful curse. Soon enough, they would become accustomed to it, Kell reflected. Soon enough, they would be proud of it, to serve the general who wielded Sectarus in service of the Empress.

:: Have you indulged enough nostalgia? :: the voice that was Sectarus asked, bringing Kell back to the present. Kell was moderately certain that Sectarus could not read his personal thoughts, despite being telepathic. But the sword did seem to know his moods and his manners, and could read his emotions.

Yes. I’m simply taking stock of the situation. “Victory requires thorough planning, and planning requires thorough awareness.”

:: You quote the words of Lord Bellicar to me? Any general with 30 minutes on the battlefield knows such things. But here’s a maxim that you may not have read, “Consume your enemies while they believe you to be friends. Only as their souls dim will they swell up with outrage.” ::

Who said that? Though he did not like to admit it, the soul that was Sectarus was a seasoned and brilliant tactician, perhaps of a level of Kell himself. If the blade could feel emotions like gloating or superiority (and there seemed to be every indication that it could), it did so when it presented Kell with insights from ancient generals and warlords, long lost to modern scholarship.

:: An Arch Mage named Arzimandius, long ago. Who he was and what he did is less important than what he mean though. The courtyard is flowing with love and appreciation to you and your forces for saving this wretched city. It’s time that you take advantage of it, don’t you think? ::

I do. I was just thinking the same thing, though without namedropping long-dead mages. It’s time to share a cup of celebration with the Governor of Elbereth.


***


Albert Marchens, Governor of Elbereth, nodded to the paige who announced the arrival of Sabrath Kell to the throneroom.

The Warlock was tall and muscular, with stringy locks of shoulder-length white gray hair. His face was hard, somewhat severe, with red-rimmed eyes and deep furrows on his forehead. He wore his ornate Ivarium battle armor, enameled blood-red and gilded with silver filigree. Surprisingly, he handed his sword Sectarus to the paige as he entered, and watched with amusement as the youth recoiled as if the thing were a viper that would strike the moment it touched his hand.

“It will not hurt you lad,” Kell said. “A sword is only as powerful as its wielder, and only when it is in his hand.” Kell ignored Sectarus’ laughter, low and deep in the recesses of his skull.

He bowed curtly. “Your city is secured, Governor. Though Trokoth still marches with the eastern  portion of his army, you have no more need to fear a two-prong war in Westlock.”

Marchens nodded. In his state robes, he looked more like a faculty member at the Grand Academy of Magic than a Governor of Westlock. “I have reports that Trokoth’s forces are encamped outside of Victoria. With any luck, our forces there can do to him what you helped us do here.”

:: “Helped" you? :: Sectarus growled. Even in the paige’s hands, the sword maintained its mental connection with Kell. :: This fool is clearly full of himself, Kell. If not for us, this city would be knee-deep in Westlockian corpses. ::

It’s all part of the dance, thought Kell. Let him feel empowered and magnanimous. It suits our plans. Plus, by destroying the lesser of the two forces, we seem a lesser threat than the Blood Wave horde.

“Indeed, Governor,” Kell said out loud. “The prowess of the Westlock army is well known. It is a fine force, made up of brave warriors. I have little doubt Victoria will stand.”

The Governor nodded politely to the point, then leaned forward, closer to the Warlock. “On behalf of the city of Elbereth, and on the authority of King Gavin the Fourth of his name, I thank you and your forces for coming to our aid.”

Kell nodded politely, waiting for the follow up question, which did not take long in coming.

“Yet, I am curious. You know that openly practicing Warlocks are subject to imprisonment throughout the Heartlands, save for in the Mage Wars arena in Victoriana. Never to my knowledge has there been an assemblage of Warlocks this large, or drawn from so many nations. In the five centuries since the Infernal Interregnum, never has an Arraxian army participated this openly. Why now? And why here? What is this force you command, and what should I expect of it?”

To his credit, the Governor delivered his words confidently, even boldly, but Kell knew the man was sweating. The Blood Wave attack had brought the city to the brink of ruin, and now the Warlocks were here, stronger in both health and number. The city was his, if he wanted it.

“You are right, Governor. It has been many years since we have assembled so openly, and by rights, you could send your troops now to lock us up. Yet, if I may be so bold, the world has changed in the years since the Mage Wars Accords have been written. Once, the Arraxian Crown served as the pawn of the Infernal forces of Adramelech. But today, we are no longer pawns to Infernal machinations.”

Kell let those words ring though the chamber, saw the look of surprise play across the Governor’s face.

“No?” he said, a hint of incredulity in his voice. “How can I believe that?”

“Put aside the fact that we came here, unbidden, at your moment of need, and saved your city,” said Kell. “When we formed our Circles of Fire (see http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15439.0 for more), and advanced on the Blood Wave forces, we did so using Elemental and Dark magics. But throughout the fight, Governor, we did not summon Infernal help. Not one demon was called during this battle, nor has one been called upon since.

“History has taught us the folly of relying on Demonic forces. In the last five hundred years, Warlocks have been despised and hated, our magics maligned. It is time we step back into the light of the nations, Governor, and show that we too are part of this world. We have come unannounced, to render aid unexpected. Now that we have done so, we will leave this city, and her people. My men politely ask that we do this after the festivities have ended.”

“Nothing then? You have no demands?” Marchens eyed Kell's face, searching for signs of deception, some kind of trap.

“Demands? Governor, truly your mistrust is misplaced. We ‘demand’ nothing. We have come in peace, we will leave in peace, each to return to his or her country of origin. Even in Ivarium, I had not heard that the Westlockian throne was so unthankful to those who had proven to be friends.”

Clearly, Marchens was not fully convinced, but his pride had been stung. “How then can the City of Elbereth reward the forces of the Arraxian Crown?”

“As I said, we seek nothing in return. But if you would uphold Westlock’s proud tradition of generosity, then I would ask this: let us be welcome here in this city. Be tolerant of our order and magic here in this city that we have helped to save. Let us establish a single temple to Taranis — and not to Adramelech — to serve as proof that we are no longer beholden to Infernia.”

“If we so decree, will you continue to abstain from contact with demonkind and the denizens of Infernia? One slip, one imp, one pentagram, and the deeds you have rendered today will be immediately forgotten.”

“We will,” said Sabbrath Kell. “We do so swear to Governor of Elbereth, representative of King Gavin IV, King of Westlock, and heir to the mantle of Meravaran, that from this day forward, Warlocks will have no communication or traffic with the realm of Infernia.”

Governor Marchens paused long, weighing the words, the lack of trust, the service rendered to his city. Finally he spoke. “So be it.”

***

And that is how a temple to Taranis, Lord of the Supreme Darkness, administered by representatives of the Arraxian Crown, came to be state sanctioned in the city of Elbereth, in the nation of Westlock.

As Sabbrath Kell left the throneroom, he shared a mental laugh with his sword Sectarus. And in Infernia, in the main chamber of the Bastion of Chaos (see http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15478.0 for reference), there was laughing as well.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 01:09:18 AM by Sabrath_Kell »
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Boocheck

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Re: Arraxia Rising: Strategy and Sectarus
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2015, 12:46:42 AM »
NICE! :)

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Sailor Vulcan

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Arraxia Rising: Strategy and Sectarus
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2015, 06:19:05 AM »
I like! But one thing that I didn't understand...Why couldn't they have pretended that infernal politics changed so that there was a civil war among the demons. How ELSE would they hypothetically free themselves from the power of Adramelech? They could have claimed that not all demons are evil, and that the good ones were usually killed under Adramelech's reign. Then there wouldn't be a problem with summoning demons.

Plus, there's kind of the problem of pretty much all warlocks that fight in the arena summon demons, and have been summoning them in their duels up to this point. If they didn't use demons they would lose a lot more...
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 06:26:02 AM by Sailor Vulcan »
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