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The War for North-West South-Eastern Buphone Avenue

Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:12 pm


The 41st of Ymiden, 719th Arc

The dream converges from here and here.

A grand hall sat deep within an even grander castle. Built for practicality rather than aesthetics, the bulwark sported thick walls, watchtowers, battlements, a moat and drawbridge. It was located on top of a hill overlooking the immediate surroundings. Many a siege this piece of architecture had withstood with great success, as the battle scar-like newer brickwork testified. Some claimed the castle Wentaleedl to be unconquerable, but no such thing could ever exist. There always was someone who could find a way to bypass all defenses. Still, none with that capability had yet tried to breach the walls.

For all its function over form, despite its appearance, the interior was quite comfortable. While arrowslits remained in the outer walls and towers, providing entry and exit for howling winds and cold drafts, the inner walls possessed windows. Glass fortified with metal lattice, thick curtains to keep out both cold and light, if so desired. Many of the brick walls were lined with tapestries, expertly crafted, finely embroidered, for a more pleasant décor, but also warmth. Many of the rooms had a hearth on one side, where crackling flames popped and snapped happily, especially in Winter.

In that grand hall too, a fire provided comfortable heat. There were no windows, but the large amount of lanterns fastened to the walls and ceiling more than made up for the lack of natural light. Frescos told the tale of a legendary battle. Central in the room stood a large table. It was fashioned from dark mahogany, covered in a natural resin that made the wood keep its luster. The table had exactly four corners and four sides. Each of these sides was exactly equal in length to the other ones, forming a perfect square. Around it stood several cushioned chairs, all identical, none more grand or elaborate than the others.

On one side, closest to the fire, sat a man with a crown perched upon his head. Once upon a time, his locks had been golden brown, as had his beard, though now they were steaked with grey. He had unified the nation decades ago, pulling it out of a dark century full of strife and war. Forceful when diplomacy failed to make the bickering Lords see eye to eye, he’d ushered in an era of peace. However, peacetime had not affected his figure, still as sharp and fit as ever. Age, on the other hand, did claim its toll.

That, and the situation at hand. Two idiots had started a war down in one of the Southern regions, causing the King migraines and insomnia. With great haste he had called for his loyal knights, and all had answered the summons. From all corners of his great nation, the knights had come, each and every one of them now seated at the Square Table.

King Ruhart Mille-feuille aux Fraise et Crème Glace, Sovereign of the Rabble States, rose from his seated position, standing straight. Each of his movements had a military feel to it, a result of long years of leading an army, fighting evil, and his training routine. The smalltalk around the table died out as all knights fixed their gaze on the King. On his dignified face and beard, the simple crown on his head, the fine but not extravagant attire covering his skin. Only a conservative amount of jewelry weighed him down; a heavy-looking golden necklace, and a set of rings inlaid with precious stones. Most importantly, of course, was the legendary blade on his hip. Extracaliber, the magical blade gifted to Ruhart by the Dame of the Pond, possessing an edge that put all other weapons to shame. No-one really knew how it had been crafted or what the base materials had been. LeMir, the court wizard, wise mentor, chief advisor, and good friend of the King suspected it was made from refined Stariron, and thus unbreakable. Moreover, the blade dealt six d-eight extra radiant damage to evil aligned creatures, and inflicted life threatening injuries on a natural nineteen as well as a twenty.

“Gentlemen, Ladies. Friends. My sincere thanks for gathering here today,” the King began. He did not raise his voice, but nonetheless the words carried to the other side of the room with ease. “I trust you all have heard of the situation in Buphone Avenue? Marquis d’Inverse et Contraire and Count Niais de Pendragon Épicé par le Voleur have started a war over some minor dispute. To conserve the peace of the nation and prevent the violence from spreading, we have to deal with this issue.”

There were approving nods and speculative murmurs among the Knights.

“For this very reason, one of you will have to interfere. No holds barred, but do keep in mind, both my oldest daughter and middle son are quite fond of the parties involved. One of them is to be my future son in law, I believe, so you do not have license to kill. Now, to determine who’s to stop them. Let us discuss your individual capabilities. As always, we will vote afterwards, so refrain from arguing about who you feel should be picked.”

* * *

Meanwhile, in Buphone Avenue, specifically the North-West South-Eastern side, Count Oberan Niais de Pendragon Épicé par le Voleur, Esquire had assembled his own war council. They made use of his manor, where all manner of strategies were being discussed, gathered intel was spread, and missions were planned.

Around the large dinner table which now functioned as war table, several people had gathered. There was the Count himself, of course, but also General Langere, Spymaster Gespatz, Treasurer Von Logenstein, Strategist Ponzo, and Madame Yrmellyn de la Morthe d’Aghaste. The latter had been freed not too long after her incarceration, thanks to a bold and swift intervention by the Spymaster’s men, and a sleeper agent already present within Marquis Nabero’s household.

Mother Goose had not been freed, as she had been detained elsewhere, so the Spymaster had debriefed, and making a detour for a non-priority target would have put the whole operation at risk. According to Ms. Gespatz, the waterfowl had first been sentenced to death by Rotisserie, however, the punishment had been lessened due to Lady Le Fay swaying the Marquis. Instead, Mother Goose was now kept in a cage, forced to rap and beatbox background music for Nabero at all times.

Not much was known about Lady Le Fay and her actions. For the most part, the Lady was a mystery player, seemingly aligned with the Marquis. Yet, from the act of mercy towards the goose could be inferred that she had at least a friendly connection with the creature. Count Oberan had never heard of her before though, nor had most of his war council. Perhaps Madame de la Morthe d’Aghaste had.

Either way, the war was not going as hoped. Oberan’s troops were not winning any ground, having had to leave the town of Berenbrig, near the border of North-West South-Western Buphone Avenue, under the Marquis’s control. A couple other villages had also been seized by the enemy, but now Oberan’s troops had fought the Marquis’s army to a standstill near the river Feluws. They had to destroy the bridges to accomplish this, but due to the advantageous position near Kernwidth, a major player in the field of agriculture, the stalemate would be broken soon enough if Nabero’s army ran out of food and supplies.

Naturally, they would have to cut off the supply caravans sent from Center-Buphone Boulevard -- the capital of South-East South-Eastern Buphone Avenue -- to the front, which was the operation being discussed now.

Spymaster Gespatz felt the best course of action was to send a small, elite squad of soldiers and scouts in a wide berth around Nabero’s armies. Crossing the bridges that had not yet been destroyed further along the Feluws, they could evade detection and sneak around to intercept the supply caravan. General Langere was of the opinion that such a move was too predictable, and would result in a countermeasure by the enemy. Moreover, the obvious route taken by the caravan smelled like a trap and would achieve nothing but the death of his men. Men he also needed to defend the remaining bridges, and keep Nabero’s armies from crossing the river Feluws by boat or raft. However, Ms. Gespatz’s spies had heard no mention of the caravan being bait, disagreeing with the general vehemently. The treasurer seized the moment to remind the both of them that funds were running low already, and to finance any operation, the current taxation would not suffice. Another rise of the taxes might cause the populace to revolt, which never was a good thing. Ponzo, thinking of war machines that could easily crush Nabero’s army, said nothing. He simply sat with crossed arms, still miffed that Von Logenstein had dismissed his request to build a giant, fire-spitting, clockwork dragon that would wipe out all their problems in one fell swoop.

Oberan still tried to figure out what Nabero was planning, and how Yrmellyn Le Fay fit into all this. What was her angle? Why was she siding with the Marquis, if that was indeed what she was doing. Also, had Madame de la Morthe d’Aghaste really bribed Mother Goose, thus meddling with the results of the Dance Duel? Had he won, or had he lost?

* * *

Hours passed. Evening fell, and the Knights of Wentaleedl commenced the voting round. King Ruhart was presented with the results, all tallied by one of the trusted servants. He serenely unrolled the scroll, eyes scanning the contents quickly. A contented nod of his head, and the King stood.

“I am pleased to announce that we have come to a consensus. The Knight to go deal with the Buphone Avenue Situation is… Ser Dancelot. Ser Dancelot, good luck and godspeed. I expect great things from you.”

Ser Dancelot, a true prince charming of a knight, rose from his position at the table, bowed, and strode out of the chamber, determination etched into his face. Once the Squire of King Ruhart during the wars, he had been Knighted for acts of heroism. If there was anyone qualified for this job, it would be him.

Last edited by Oberan on Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:29 pm, edited 5 times in total. word count: 1748
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Re: The War for North-West South-Eastern Buphone Avenue

Fri Oct 18, 2019 5:25 pm

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Their dream journey in the warped world had been long and weird. It had begun in the museum where Yrmellyn had found Oberan. He had been hiding behind a curtain with a stolen painting of a couple in a boat. The museum guards had aimed to arrest both of them. In desperation, the two of them had jumped into the painting - while holding the painting in their hands. This was why they had warped the world.

Soon, the pair had found that they had a parallel version. Their other selves travelled on another route. The two versions of Yrmellyn and Oberan had also gained two different sets of names. Yrmellyn le Fay and The Oarsman, had been travelling around by boat (The Lady, The Oarsman and The Frog). Yrmellyn de la Morthe d’Agasthe and Count Obéran d’Epice had gone to an elegant ball. There they had created a scandal. It had ended with the fatal dance contest that caused the war (Ballroom Blitz).

At the end, the pair in the boat had met a sad fate. The oarsman had died. The boat had sunk in the water in front of the stairs to the palace where the other two of them were in a fix. Lady Yrmellyn le Fay had invaded the ballroom. Helpless, she had seen guards bring her other self to prison in the company of a goose.

The Count and his arch-enemy and rival Marquis Nabero were now at war. Each had their own version of the warped Yrmellyn at their side. Yrmellyn de la Morthe was Count Oberan’s ardent supporter. Yrmellyn le Fay, staying with the marquis ... was an unknown card in the deck.

And so the warped dream continued.



At Count Oberan’s Court

Yrmellyn de la Morthe’s eyes were blazing dark. Full of hate she listened to the planning discussions in Count Oberan’s hall. She wanted Oberan to win the war. Her time in Marquis Nabero’s prison hadn’t been pleasant. The marquis had called her a courtesan. He had also tried to make her betray the count and pledge her loyalty to him instead. He had tried to bribe her! That white-clad blighter! When she has refused they had threatened to torture the goose. But, Oberan’s people had rescued Yrmellyn and left the bird behind. Yrmellyn de la Morthe didn’t know what had happened to the bird but feared the worst.

“I fear that Mother Goose has met a fowl’s fate,” she said if someone asked her.

It happened that she spent time thinking of the mysterious Lady le Fay. The woman had made such a dramatic entrance in the Black and Gold Palace. It had been in the moment when everything had gone south. She had burst into the ballroom, looking like she had recently arrived from a long and taxing trip. Her hair had been in disarray and her words had been incoherent. She had babbled about evil frogs and terminators and the death of an oarsman. Her escape had been narrow but not happy.

With a weird feeling of déja vu, Yrmellyn de la Morthe had noticed that the woman wore a violet dress. I had looked like an exact copy of her own violet dress, except for being wet. At that moment a memory had drifted through the courtesan’s mind. Shouldn’t there have been an oar too and a cloak? A boat? An oarsman? But it had been a memory as fleeting as a dream and she had forgotten her question.

She memorized the names and roles of all the prominent allies of the count. They must be invincible? But, the most impressive of them all was, of course, Sir Dancelot. Oh la la la la! What a knight! If Yrmellyn de la Morthe hadn’t already chosen to stand by Count Oberan she might have proposed a tête-a-tête.



At Marquis Nabero's Court

Meanwhile, in the stronghold of Marquis Nabero, his allies gathered. The tragical mystery beauty Lady Yrmellyn le Fay sat on her chair beside the Marquis. She kept a stiff upper lip. As a true lady she wasn’t going to show her sorrow in public. Only when she was alone could she allow herself to cry and lament the death of a simple oarsman. She had travelled a long way with him until his death in the marsh below the gates of Black and Gold Palace. He had only been a common plebe with a monotonous rower job. But, during their long journey she had become attached to him nonetheless.

And so, the expression on her face was calm and benevolent, but there was a mysterious sad darkness in the lady’s eyes. Her gaze roamed over the people in the hall. The allies of the marquis enjoyed the encouraging songs of his special cheer-leader. This was a certain fowl named Mother Goose. The bird had voted in favour of the Marquis’s rival Count Oberan after the dancing duel at Black and Gold Palace. The marquis believed that he would have won that duel if only that goose had been honest.

As a revenge, he had imprisoned the poor goose as well as the Count’s sly courtesan. That woman, Yrmellyn de la Morthe d’Agasthe, had been freed by Oberan’s henchmen but they had left the goose to her fate. Nabero had wanted to grill it. But, Lady Yrmellyn Le Fay had felt suggested that the goose would be made his cheer-leader instead. The marquis had granted her what she wished - on a condition. She must do him the honour to be his fair lady and wear his white and gold scarf at the tournament to come. The lady had felt obliged to agree to this deal to save the goose in distress.

At the moment, said goose was doing her cheerleader job. She didn’t want to be roasted so she worked hard. Yrmellyn le Fay watched the incarcerated fowl’s show and suppressed a tear. Instead, she accompanied the goose by playing the new harp the Marquise had given her. It was as a token of her new rank as his fair lady.

And the goose sang ...


I’m Mama Gee

And here’s a rap from me

Come on Marquis, it is time to swing

Dream of the victory this war will bring

Your glory and honour will be a sure thing

But for Oberan the bell will ring

Honk!

Ah-honk-honk-honk!

Ah-honk-a-honk-a-honk-a honk-a-honk-honk-honk!

Needless to say that the atmosphere in the hold of Nabero was all-time high! Nabero sat on his seat and beamed at the allies who were clapping the beat and singing along. He pointed out some important people to Lady le Fay. He had a winning team if he ever had seen one!
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Re: The War for North-West South-Eastern Buphone Avenue

Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:12 pm



High up in the rafters above Nabero’s war room, the Spy wrote notes furiously. Her quill scratched on paper, ink tracing letters in black. Words strung together in sentences, which then faded into nothing. It did not seem to bother the Spy, as she simply kept on writing without paying the disappearing words any mind. Deliberately, she added a full stop to the end of her current line, then pausing for a couple moments, gaze fixed downwards, ears cocked and ready to listen.

Below, Nabero and his allies were conversing, discussing their next move. Mother Goose sat locked into a cage, singing her song. There was a sad edge to it, the Spy found. Not like the upbeat and powerful bars she used to spit. Yet, the fowl did a good job at hiding it. And it wasn’t like Nabero would care anyway.

The meeting reached its conclusion, and the Marquis dismissing his war council. Up above, the Spy continued transcribing the gist of what had been agreed. Plans made for their next move. Ways to deal with Oberan’s army and how to get past it. Battle strategy for when they engaged each other. Places to lure the Count’s armies to, where Nabero would have the advantage.

Only the Marquis remained for a while, staring at the table, Yrmellyn Le Fay standing nearby. A blanket was thrown over Mother Goose’s cage. The Marquis and Lady spoke quietly, in private, voices hushed. The Spy still picked up on it though, jotting down an additional note. Anything about the unknown Lady Le Fay was of great importance. It lasted a couple extra minutes, after which both of them also left the room. Dinner was to be served soon, so the Spy understood.

She waited in the rafters even after her keen ears heard the key twist the lock shut. Only when she was certain that no-one was going to enter the room again soon, she carefully made her way down. Despite her cautious movements, she was quite swift in her descent, and before long she stood in front of the birdcage.

“Mother Goose,” she whispered, “Don’t be alarmed. Keep quiet as much as possible.”

A moment later the Spy lifted part of the cloth covering the goose’s cage, now standing face to face with the waterfowl.

“I work for the Count,” the Spy introduced herself, “We’re working on getting you out of here. However, it will take a while longer. Please exercise patience. In the meantime, it would help if you could tell me what happened. You realize you might have played a part in starting this war, yes? Can you tell me about that?”

Unfortunately, the goose did not recall much of the incident. In fact, there was a peculiar hole in her memory. She told the Spy that, after being summoned to judge the duel, she had been chatting with Comon Siwell and Monsieur Brûlée while everything was being set up. They’d been excited. Duels were rare these days, after all, and both combatants were skilled duelists. Yet, she did not remember seeing the competition itself. She did not remember the dances, nor the points she had given. Suddenly the duel was over, the goose stated, and though she had vowed beforehand to be impartial when awarding points, she had been glad that Count Oberan won. Nabero was a bit of a stuck-up twat, you know?

Naturally, all that was sung rather than said. The Spy simply paraphrased it in her letter.

It was quite interesting though. Gears were turning in the Spy’s head. She’d been informed of Brûlée’s testimony of the events at the Black-and-Gold palace, which was eerily similar to Mother Goose’s. Neither had any recollection of the duel or the points they’d awarded. Instead, they remembered before and after, with no in between. Strange. Very strange.

This was the kind of information that had to be passed to the Spymaster immediately. In normal situations, the Spy would wait for the agreed upon time to send a message over to North-West South-Eastern Buphone Avenue. Graceful and unseen like a shadow, the Spy made her way to her little hideout, at the top of one of the towers of Nabero’s Keep.

* * *
Meanwhile, near the river Feluws, a squadron of elite soldiers was sent into enemy territory. They were the SCI-FI unit: Special Interception and Covert Infiltration Force. The acronym should be SICIF, but that did not sound cool enough. As such, the founders of the program had rearranged the initials to something that was not as lame.

The SCI-FI corps were subjected to harsh training regimes, both mental and physical, so they were the crème de la crème of Oberan’s troops. As a semi-secret corps within the army, only high ranking members of the Count’s court were aware of their existence. The common soldiers believed them to be a myth, and the populace had never even heard of them. Future members were thoroughly screened before being approached, and only the best were selected. Those who did not join or dropped out had their memory wiped through volatile mind-altering magic. Those resistant to the effects of the magic often died in unfortunate accidents during their training.

As a result, the SCI-FI units were highly competent, extremely loyal, and also few in number. Only a limited number were necessary though, as despite the dangerous missions they undertook, the loss of a SCI-FI member was rare.

Five SCI-FI soldiers crawled to the riverbanks in the dead of night. Not noticed by either army. Their leather armor was light, flexible and tough, and carried an enchantment to alter its colors based on the environment. Additionally, it kept the wearer warm or cool depending on what was necessary. They each carried bows, a shortsword, daggers, a garotte, climbing claws, and several other neat gadgets.

Once they reached the water, they popped a mouthpiece with a horizontal tube between their lips, then soundlessly slipped into the cold river. The circles created from their presence were the only indication they had been there, but they too faded as the unit crossed the river below the water’s surface.

* * *
Sir Dancelot finally arrived at the one of his two destinations. His horse’s clipped and clopped over the thick wooden drawbridge, the guards stationed at the gate saluting the rider wearing the symbol of the Square Table. No-one of common birth would dare question or stop a Knight of the King, let alone interfere with their missions in any way. Usually they would have readied their halberds, calling the rider to a halt, but even under orders, no hair on their heads thought about doing that once they’d spotted the mark.

Into the courtyard he went, horse brought to a stop. A sergeant of the guard came rushing forward, a question dying on his lips as soon as he realized who he had in front of him. Instead Sir Dancelot was asked if they could be of any service, and a stablehand was called to take care of the horse. A page took off running inside to notify the Count of the Knight’s arrival.

One of the higher ranking servants guided Sir Dancelot inside, where the two of them were greeted by the Count himself, along with Madame de la Morthe d’Aghaste. They’d been about to have their dinner –well, supper if you wanted to be technical about it—but no dishes had been served yet. So they'd stepped out of the dining room into the foyer to greet the visitor.

“Ah, welcome Sir—”

“Dancelot Forphune, Former Squire of King Ruhard, Knight of the Square Table, Servant of Justice.”

The Count stepped forward, hand extended. The Knight shook it, grip firm and strong.

“—Sir Dancelot. A pleasure. I am Count Oberan Niais de Pendragon Épicé par le Voleur, Esquire. Beside me, the lovely Madame Yrmellyn de la Morthe d’Aghaste.”

“Madame,” the King’s man bowed, planting a soft kiss on the back of her hand.

“We were about to sit down to eat. I’m sure you have a long and tiring journey behind you, would you care to join us?”

A nod, and the three of them headed for the dining room, where properly educated servants had already added an additional plate alongside cutlery for the unexpected guest. After they sat down, a girl filled their cups with an exquisite wine the Count saved for important visitors, and soon enough the meal itself was brought. Finally, after all pleasantries had been taken care of, Count Oberan could ask the nature of this unexpected visit.

* * *

Up in the attic of the North tower of Nabero’s Keep, the Spy finished transcribing her notes in a more clean, organized and legible text. She clicked her tongue in a specific rhythm, and a small bat fluttered down from the ceiling. It sat perfectly still while she tied the message to one of its legs, then squealed in delight when she lovingly scratched it between the ears with a finger.

“To Count Oberan, little Branbat. As quickly as you can,” she whispered, throwing the little creature upwards.

Branbat fluttered to the little window, unhindered by the message attached to its claw. It dove through, then turned to the left, disappearing out of sight. The Spy turned towards her makeshift desk. A bit of cleanup was needed before she could hide and sleep, leaving not a trace of her presence, even in this little hideout. Within the enemy lair, no place should be considered safe, after all.

A sound from behind her made her cease the task she just started. Slowly, she turned around, seeing a figure twist and turn and bend in unnatural ways in order to fit through the small arched window. First feet and legs, then hips and waist. Then a torso, an arm, the head, and the other arm. The man straightened. A roll of his shoulders made his joints pop and crack.

The Spy felt the cold sweat gather up her brow. One of her hands reached for the dagger on her belt. Her face held an expression of shock and disbelief.

Before her stood Comon Siwell, a bloodied leather wing languidly being sucked into his mouth.

“I’m sorry little rat,” he said without emotion, “I was going to let you scurry about, but you’ve been sticking your nose where it does not belong. The last thing I can use right now is the truth getting out, so you’ll have to—”

“Die?” She unsheathed her blade, holding it in front of her defensively.

“Such an ugly word, isn’t it? Die. Kill. Murder.” He pretended to shiver. “No, I prefer the term ‘disappear’. So, little rat, I’ll have you disappear without a trace.”

“I know what you are,” the Spy began, edging backwards, the tip of her blade trembling. She needed to buy time. The door wasn’t that far off. If she could stall for just long enough—

“Of course you do. I know that.” He took a step forward and another. Another one. The gap between them shrunk rapidly.

Change of plans. The Spy rushed to her desk, managing to snatch a pouch from it. Quickly she opened it and grabbed a handful of the herbs inside. She held the hand in front of her threateningly. Comon Siwell stopped his approach.

“I know what you are,” the Spy repeated. “I have read up on your kind, Dangnabbit. You feed off of war and strife and death and spilled blood and misery. You offer deals to desperate people, for a price they cannot pay. Your kind ruin lives and steeped the world in darkness.”

“And?”

“I know your weaknesses. I know what you fear.”

She flung the handful of herbs into his face with pinpoint accuracy, several rosettes of parsley sticking to his exposed skin.

He roared in pain, hands flying up to cover his face as he stumbled backwards. The Spy turned tail and ran for the door. When she was three steps away from it, the sound of laughter from behind her made her freeze in her tracks. Comon Siwell was bent backwards, body convulsing as the sound burst from his mouth.

“Foolish little rat. Such a good try, but alas, we have kept our weaknesses hidden through the ages. Parsley cannot harm us any more than it can you, I’m afraid. Good show though.”

A shiver-inducing clicking sound came from his mouth as his jaw unhinged, opening wider and wider. Rows upon rows of sharp teeth were revealed, sitting behind a row of human ones. It was a nightmarish hole that pulsated and twitched, somehow stretching deeper than Siwell’s body should allow. It continued growing until it reached a radius of half a meter, more than enough to swallow the Spy whole.

Sick with fear and panic, she’d been glued to the spot, but now her survival instincts kicked in. Without hesitation, she rushed backwards, determined to reach the door. To reach safety.

However, Comon Siwell tensed the muscles in his legs, and with a speed impossible for any man, he launched himself forward. The Spy managed to take one step before he was upon her, tendril like tongue wrapped around her neck, pulling her into the eldritch maw. It closed, he swallowed, and the Spy was no more. There was only Comon Siwell, and a dagger on the floorboards.

Until he ate that too.

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Yrmellyn Cole
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Re: The War for North-West South-Eastern Buphone Avenue

Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:38 pm

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It was late at night. Despite this, the Lady Yrmellyn Le Fay stood at the open window in her room and looked out over the silent surroundings. A mix of moonshine and lantern light illuminated the scenery but there was also shadows and spots of fathomless darkness. It wasn’t windy, but a soft and soundless breeze moved through the lady’s hair. It made her think of old times. She recalled so many good and happy things. If there also had been any bad moments, they had faded from her memory.

Those were the times.

And now? She was in a melancholic mood. It was already several breaks since she had parted from the others but she had found herself unable to sleep. The flimsy nightgown the servants had given her had been beautiful but impractical. She had felt cold so she had shifted back into her white dress. It wasn’t much better and the colour felt wrong but she had no other clothing.

Thoughts of the imprisoned goose plagued her. She didn’t know why she felt that she must save the fowl in distress or die trying, but deep down she was convinced that if the bird would die, everything might be lost. Might? She had already lost the oarsman. Now, she was the belle of the Marquis instead, but Nabero with all his fancy titles lacked a crucial ability. He was many things, a warlord, an aristocrat and a master dancer, but he couldn’t row, row, row.

The Oarsman! Oh the Oarsman!

Her thoughts went on, on, on but always they turned back, back, back to the goose, goose, goose.
He’s gone, gone, gone. The frog won, won, won. It may be too late. But, it could be worth a try. I must go down, down, down and set her free, free, free. Otherwise we may be stuck, stuck, stuck in a prison with no key, key, key.

“Oh moon-moon-moon! “ the lady called out, turning to the first moon, the second moon and ... then she said it three times nonetheless, turning to the fathomless darkness. To her amazement this made wonders. A black bird emerged from the spot. It flew up to the window where the lady stood and settled on the windowsill. “You summoned me,” it growled. “Darkmoon Duck, at your service.”

Yrmellyn Le Fay stared at the huge black duck. She had not expected this!

“What do you wish, mylady?” it inquired. “Your wish is my law.”

One more poultry. What is this? I can’t even ...

“I must save Mother Goose, “ she blurted out.

Darkmoon Duck laughed. “Hahahaha! That featherbrained fowl! Listen. You have me now. I’m a smart duck. You don’t need that stupid goose anymore.”
“I ... don’t?” Yrmellyn Le Fay felt insecure when the duck was so macho. Darn. The ladylike feebleness she suffered from was a curse. Yes, even as she thought this she knew that it was true. She was cursed with ladylike warp-weakness. This was why she had lost her oarsman and ended up here at Buphone Avenue.

“No, you don’t.” Darkmoon Duck sounded smug. “I will take care of everything.”

“Oh ...”

“Yes!”

Convinced that she needed an accomplice, Lady Yrmellyn Le Fay allowed the black duck to enter the room. It flew in, landed in the middle of the floor and entered a quick and weird transformation. Before she knew it, a young man dressed in a dark cloak stood in front of her. The expression on his face was extraordinary cocky. She began to wonder if it had been dumb to let him in but it was too late to change that now.

“What are you?” she asked cautiously.

“Darkmoon Doc at your service m’am. Mylady I mean.”

“I mean ... what can you do?”

“I’m The Dangnabbit Buster. That’s what I do. Now, where’s the dangnabbit?”

Darkmoon Doc seemed ready to take action. This would have been fine if there had been any dangnabbits to bust. But, to the lady’s knowledge, there were none. She didn’t know what to do with her new companion. Her only goal was to save Mother Goose and the Duck ... or Doc ... had already dismissed that as a bad idea. Hmmm ... in a fit of sudden slyness the lady decided to fool him and make him escort her down to the hall where the goose sat incarcerated. She would pretend that she would show the way to a dangnabbit. Once there she would free the goose instead. What a splendid idea!

“Downstairs,” she said.

“Alrighty then! Lead the way!”

The pair left the room. Due to the hurry The Ducky Doc was in, lady Yrmellyn forgot to close the window. The door fell shut behind them and they began the long and tricky descent via the many staircases of the Marquis’s residence.

A bit later, a small pebble flew in through the open window. When no answer came, another pebble flew in. Silence. And so, the SCI-FI squad which had now arrived outside the building looked at each other and nodded in silent agreement. Soon they were scaling the wall. Soundless like a soft breeze they ran through the room. They entered the staircases behind it just in time to see Lady le Fay and Darkmoon Doc disappear into the main hall. The SCI-FI squad members looked at each other ad nodded again. Down there was the first point of attack!

*

Meanwhile, Yrmellyn de la Morthe d’Agasthe, that violet courtesan who accompanied Count Oberan, though of the information that had reached them from a spy via echo scroll. They had a good description of the Marquis’s key people now.

There was, for example, Rollo “Steamroller” Tourbleuderhone, a grizzled general from the successful chock-o-war against the Baron of Crèpe Coco Boulevard, another foe of Marquis Nabero. Rollo was brilliant at tactics, superb. That baron had been a pain in the ass for Nabero. But, not so long ago they had been flattened out and their time as ruler had expired. The situation was still unstable and the general populace over there were looking dagger at their new rulers. But, general Rollo Tourbleuderhone had promoted young second lieutenant Frites Pompe-Grenade to the local commander of “The Crèpes”. A general needed to give priority to the new war!

Nabero’s spymaster, Blanche “Tinybelle” Balette, was also a dangerous key player in Nabero’s team. Nobody suspected what she was, because her elegant physique looked so frail. Her hair was black as ebony and her skin was pale, but her mouth was red as a cherry. Little did people know that the beautiful petite was the half-tunawa daughter of a deity white as snow. Innocent and sweet looking, she seemed harmless but appearance deceived. The spy had recognized her due to previous encounters in a dwarven mine.

According to the spy’s report, Marquis Nabero had not revealed the truth about the spymaster to Lady le Fay. He had found it enough to tell her that the small beauty who gave her cold and hostile eyes was only jealous. Tinybelle had formerly been the one he had worshipped from a safe distance in romantic love of what could never become his. Now, due to the allure of novelty, he had fallen for the mysterious Lady le Fay instead. Now SHE was the fairest in the land. “C’est la vie!”

The Marquis had pointed out important people to Yrmellyn le Fay. The lady had been polite and pretended to listen with full attention. But, it had been obvious to the spy that the lady’s thoughts had been on something else.

The spy’s report had ended abruptly and a message she had promised to send by batpost had not arrived. It had been obvious that they couldn’t afford to sit and wait. Something was amiss. Now, several breaks had passed and the Oberan forces were advancing. It was late at night but that was only good. Sir Dancelot had decided that nightly surprise would be the best attack.

Some people didn’t like the idea of being sneaky. They found it honourless to attack when people were asleep. Sir Dancelot had stared them down and so they all had geared up and headed to the stronghold of the enemy for the final showdown.

Yrmellyn de la Morthe had insisted on joining. Her focus was, naturally, to save Mother Goose. She didn’t know why, but it felt like she must do it or die trying. Deep down she felt that if the bird would die, everything might be lost. Might? She had already made a scandal at Black and Gold palace. Now, she was known as the courtesan of the count, but Oberan with all his fancy titles lacked a crucial ability. He was many things, a warlord, an aristocrat and a master dancer but he couldn’t ...

Row, row, row? Why did it even occur to her to think of rowing? Bizarre ...

She had no words for what she felt Oberan couldn’t do. She sat on her black horse and her hair moved in a soundless soft breeze. That was when she heard a familiar voice call out over the silent streets. “Oh, Moon-moon-moon!” At the sound of that voice, Yrmellyn de la Morthe trembled, because she knew it was the voice of Yrmellyn le Fay. The quacking sound that followed made her even more nervous. She saw a dark shape take off from a nook of fathomless darkness and fly toward the open window up there ... and a small dark shape fly out from a vent pipe. It emerged from the façade of Nabero’s keep and came flying in her own direction.

A small bat landed on her shoulder. It had a letter tied to its little leg landed At first, she almost screamed because she believed that she was being attacked by a flying rat. But then, she realized that the missing batpost had finally reached them. The small being had lost blood and one wing seemed injured. It seemed to somehow have found a way to carry out its mission anyway. Alas, they weren’t able to ask any questions. The little bat swooned at arrival and a field medic took care of it.

Yrmellyn de la Morthe opened the letter. Her eyes widened while she read it and then she handed it to Oberan so he could read it too. Obviously the marquis was blackmailing Lady le Fay. If she wanted the goose to live she must marry that white-clad bastard.

“We must hurry up,” she told the others. “Save that goose! That lady I mean. Not that there’s any big difference between them. Both are white and featherbrained and bad at navigation.”

It was time to take action!
word count: 1832
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Oberan
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Re: The War for North-West South-Eastern Buphone Avenue

Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:43 pm



Five of the SCI-FI unit had departed from their secret headquarters. Five had been selected for the mission, and five had been sent. Five had crossed the river Feluws, and five had sabotaged Nabero’s supply route. Though careful, they moved with great haste and efficiency, their actions would have benefits for Oberan’s side in the long run. A slight edge could win a war, but a full-blown advantage made it possible to crush the opposition. Without a steady stream of supplies, Nabero’s army was hamstringed.

Five shadows crawled invisible across the field in which Nabero’s castle stood. Five coalesced at the base of one of its towers. Up the side they rappelled, walking up the side as if gravity held no sway over them. Below an open window they stopped, adjusting their climbing harnesses. One searched their pockets, fishing out a pebble and a rectangle of wood and crystal. They touched the translucent surface of the rectangle, tracing a rune on it and the pebble. Then, they threw it through the window, where it bounced once on the stone floor tiles.

On the crystal rectangle, an estimated layout of the room appeared. A wavy plot had moved when the stone had landed, but now it was a flat line. Silence. Another pebble was thrown inside, further this time. The map on the crystal expanded when the new information was added, but the pebble did not detect any noise.

The leader of the squad gestured with one hand, a series of coded signs, and the five of them completed the last vertical bit of the climb. As one, they emerged from the window, silently touching down on the floor. They covered each other, alert and aware. Needing no instructions, they lowered their Cat’s Eye goggles onto their noses, the lenses inside the gadget flashing green for just a moment. Wasting no further time, the four of them headed down the Manifold Staircase, descending swiftly enough to see the Lady Yrmellyn le Fay disappear into the main hall of the castle.

Naturally, they followed, all four of them sneaking into the large room.

Inside the great hall, the four SCI-FI squad members met no resistance, no security. Just a dark room, but the Cat’s Eye goggles made it possible to see. It was quiet and empty, holding nothing but furniture, tapestries, and the four of them stalking forward without a sound.

“Picking up anything?” the Leader’s voice spoke in the ears of the other three.

“Negative,” the one with the crystal pane stated, his voice not carrying though the room, but instead only reaching the ears of his comrades.

“It is too quiet. Where are all the guards?” the last SCI-FI soldier asked.

“Where indeed?” A voice taunted from behind. They whirled around, but even with their special goggles, they spotted nothing. “Over here, little rats.” Behind them, again.

The two SCI-FI soldiers drew their weapons.

* * *

Count Oberan and about half of the forces stationed at his keep rode out that very night. Ser Dancelot insisted they end this war as soon as possible, and forever. King Ruhart, the Peace Maker, Light Bringer, Champion of Justice, Divine Blade of the Old Gods, Knight of the First Dawn, Almighty Smiter, and Head and Founder of the Order of the Square Table had demanded it. Who was the Count to deny?

Riding South-West first before going North-West and then North-East, Oberan and his Chevaliers de Voleur –along with Madame de la Morthe d’Aghaste and Ser Dancelot Forphune—managed to avoid Nabero’s armies. Their berth cost them time, but not lives. Clearing a path with combat would have resulted in the deaths of several of his Knights, maybe himself, and the Madame. Also, it was entirely plausible that they would not succeed in breaking through. Also, all the bridges across the river Feluws had been demolished in an effort to keep Nabero’s army from advancing, so they couldn’t cross directly into South-East South-Eastern Buphone Avenue anyway.

Several odd things stood out when they did cross the border –and the river. First was the quiet. No owls hooted, no insects buzzed. No critters scurried. Only the wind moved the leaves of tree and bush, rustling every so often. There were no shrieks of bats, no leathery wingbeats.

Second was the absence of cattle when they traveled through the countryside. Stables were empty of horses, cows, and pigs. Chicken coops had no chickens in them. Doors were left unlocked and open, swinging in the wind.

Third was the lack of light. There was the moon and stars, of course, but no building the Chevaliers de Voleur passed was lit from the inside. Houses, shacks, mansions or hovels. All dark as pitch. Some had curtains drawn, some did not, but not one strip of light could be seen from outside. Again, doors were left unlocked, gaping mouths of all-swallowing blackness. Not even the taverns and pubs, late hours not foreign to those businesses, were lit.

Additionally, not one person was seen. No drunks outside the pubs, hollering song and calling for drink. No ladies of the night, seductive but simple, displayed their goods. No town guard patrolled the streets. Not in small one-street towns. Not in Center-Buphone Boulevard, the Capital of Nabero’s territory.

No people, no animals, no insects, no light, no sound.

Due to time being limited, no-one dismounted to investigate, but the Chevaliers de Voleur got the distinct impression of the whole province being deserted.

Well, not quite. There was one creature they encountered.

Reaching Nabero’s castle, a small bat collided with Madame de la Morthe d’Aghaste, carrying a small letter. It fainted almost immediately after due to blood loss, missing half a wing. Yremllyn read the message, then passed it to Oberan and Dancelot.

“But he cannot marry her!” the latter exclaimed in shock. “We must stop this immediately! Marquis Nabero has to see reason!”

“Indeed! Forced marriages are illegal! Only the truest of scum resort to them!” Oberan agreed.

“No. Yes! True, but more importantly, it would break the Princess’s heart if he did! Onwards! Thwart the marriage! Free the goose! Keep Lady le Fay single!” Words barely over his lips, he charged over the drawbridge and into the castle. Oberan and his Chevaliers had no choice but to follow.

“Odd. There’s no guards here either,” one of the riders assessed, glancing around the inner courtyard. No torches, sconces or lanterns were lit either. “And the bridge was down. I have a bad feeling about it.”

“I sense Evil is present,” Dancelot remarked, nostrils flaring. “Its stink is most revolting. My nose is used to the clean and pure scent of Justice and Honor. If it wasn’t, I daresay I’d never even have noticed!”

Many of the Chevaliers started sniffing the air at this, though they noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Neither did Count Oberan, but he and his Chevaliers weren’t Knights of Castle Wentaleedl like Ser Dancelot.

“Right. We’ll infiltrate the castle. Keep your eyes and ears open. Marquis Nabero must be captured, not killed. The six of you are to protect Madame de la Morthe d’Aghaste,” Count Oberan ordered. He then dismounted, unsheathed his rapier, and walked up to the front gate. It was unlocked. A firm push made it swing wide open. Ser Dancelot brushed past, sniffing the air like a hound, and vanished into the darkness. The Count glanced at his Chevaliers, beckoned them with a nod, and followed.

* * *

Nothing was working.

The figure did not respond to their attacks, almost as if he did not even realize they were hacking away at him. If not for the bright red of his eyes tracking their movements, they would have thought it didn’t notice anything was going on at all. All that reacted to the slices of their Oscillating Blades was the parting of his flesh and the twitching and coiling of the tendrils that rolled off the darkness cloaking him.

Yet, the wounds were temporary, closing up in seconds. Veins and nerves and tendons snaked out of the lacerations. They met in the middle and fused back together, pulling the flesh closed. Skin scarred for but a moment, then that too vanished. Limbs that were lobbed off were much the same, reconnecting though tentacle-like insides which pulled the missing arm, leg or finger back to the stump.

What good were blades that could cut anything if the wounds closed immediately after? The two SCI-FI soldiers panted, considering their options. Both soldiers nodded, then each darted into a different direction.

The soft hum of an Oscillating Blade sounded more like a whine, slicing through stone. Feeling danger encroaching, the Leader dived to the side, a dark inhuman shape thundering past by a hair’s width. She rolled and let the momentum carry her back to her feet, eyes scanning the room. Her Cat’s Eye goggles showed the blade of her comrade stuck in the floor. It was silent.

Behind her, the figure loomed. Bigger than before. Less humanoid. Obscured by black even through the goggles, with too many appendages in entirely the wrong places. They moved and twitched like hungry snakes.

SCI-FI Squad Lambda’s Field Leader, codenamed ‘Oh-nine-gee’, upped her Enhancer’s output. A pulse of blue flashed through her armor, and the inside of her goggles showed a warning and several gauges which climbed to critical and dangerous levels. Overheating was unavoidable now.

In the blink of an eye she closed the distance. Two steps that took her further in a burst of speed. A leap launched her in an arc over and past the creature’s shoulder. One swift horizontal slash of her blade. She landed four meters past the monster, skidding a little, then turning. The creature’s head followed her trajectory, severed. Once again her blade flashed. Multiple times. A myriad of lightning-quick cuts. Flesh and bone dropped to the floor in hundreds of perfect cubes.

Her armor hissed. The gauges fell to zero in an instant. She coughed up blood and sank to one knee, her body unable to handle the strain the Enhancer put on it.

“You cannot run, little rat. You cannot hide. You cannot fight. Resist all you want, it will not matter.”

At her feet, the mess of flesh reassembled itself, parts merging together slow enough as if to taunt her. She wanted to raise her blade and swipe at it again, but couldn’t move her arm. Tendril-like organic tubes sprouted from the neck-stump, and like a grotesque spider the whole head skittered away to its body to reattach itself.

“Good show though.”

An infinite nightmare maw filled with rows upon rows of teeth grew from the jaw of the being, stretching far enough to encompass the half of the chamber’s width.

Oh-nine-gee bit down on a false tooth, breaking the casing of her last resort. Bitter liquid escaped immediately, and was absorbed by the flesh under her tongue. Foam bubbled in the corners of her lips, and all bodily functions ceased instantly.

* * *

Lady Yrmellyn le Fay and Darkmoon Doc arrived in Nabero’s War room without trouble. Except for the lantern or candelabra they might have brought, no lights were lit inside the halls or rooms they’d traveled through. They’d encountered not one guard, knight or servant, nor any sign of them. Mother Goose waited for them inside the covered cage, trembling in uneasy sleep.

She roused quickly though, most glad to see her would-be rescuers. Unfortunately, Nabero had expected an escape at some point. The cage was welded shut and the little door could not be opened. Mother Goose told them as much:

“I am happy you two came,
Though stuck I am all the same,
Marquis Nabero, you see,
Expected some to rescue me

My cage is sealed shut,
And the metal can’t be cut,
But Darkmoon, I see you’re swole,
So grab the cage as a whole

Yes we do not have a key,
But once outside I’ll be free,
Make haste and do not wait,
Oh no! We’re too late!”

“Going somewhere, Silly Goose? I cannot allow that to happen.”

In the door way stood Comon Siwell, smiling without humor in his eyes. He took a deep breath in through his nose, face turning to Lady Yrmellyn. For a moment his features seemed to twist into a horrible nightmare made flesh, but reverted an instant later. The grin spreading across his lips went from ear to ear.

“You have it, don’t you? I can smell it. The World Canvas.” He took another lungful with gusto, as if the scent intoxicated him. “Hand it over, and I will spare you. No, I will let all three of you live. Nabero too, if you want. Up until you try to hinder me, of course. But that is only fair, isn’t it? What say you? Good deal, no?” He extended a clawlike hand, fingers wriggling invitingly. “Please, give it to me.”

“Don’t!” the duck spoke, stepping in front of Yrmellyn, ready to fight. “Let us to engage in unsafe activities!” he intoned his classic catchphrase. “Lady le Fay, this here is a Dangnabbit, you must not give it what it wants!”

“Darkmoon Doc,” Comon Siwell smiled, “What a pleasant surprise. I will feast upon your flesh and use your bones to pick my teeth. And when I’m done with you, I will eat her--” he gestured to Yrmellyn. “—and claim the World Canvas still.” Once more he addressed the Lady. “Unless you hand it over peacefully. This is your last chance. Oh. Perhaps you are thinking to rely on the Doc’s capabilities as a Dangnabbit buster? I am sorry to snap you out of your delusions, but I have grown a thousand times more powerful than last time we clashed. I ate all my kin, you see. As well as a whole lot of people and animals. Let alone the feast of war and fear and strife our dear Count and Marquis prepared for me!” A pause. “You cannot defeat me, Darkmoon Doc. My power eclipses yours by a significant margin.”

To stress his point, the form of Comon Siwell shifted and stirred. It grew and twisted. Arms and legs elongated, horns and spikes and tentacles sprouted from various places. His whole body grew gaunt and pale, but tall and harder than steel. Claws tipped his fingers and toes, darkness clung to his back like a cloak. Bones poked through his skin. His eyes turned into pools of the blackest black. All-swallowing voids that burned red in the middle. Comon Siwell became too tall for the room, having to hunch over when his head reached the rafters. It progressed into a full on bent at the waist, spine parallel to the ceiling.

His jaw unhinged, opening up too far. It widened and widened and widened, stretching more than any orifice should. Rows upon rows of sharp and wicked teeth were ordered in circular layers, going on further than an open mouth should allow. Even in the room itself there should not be enough space for the depth of the maw, so far down did it stretch. When peering in, one could not even see the throat itself. In the middle of it all lolled a prehensile tongue resembling a tentacle. Saliva dripped out in bucketloads at a time.

It covered the entire space above the heads of Yrmellyn, Mother Goose, and Darkmoon Doc. The ceiling and its rafters were no longer visible. There was no gap between the mouth and the walls. Looking up, there only was the endless expanse of Comon Siwell’s insatiable eldritch maw.

His hand remained expectantly near Yrmellyn, fingers as long as she was tall, claws half as tall still. An entire row-row-rowboat could fit within his palm with ease. The boney fingers wriggled with impatience.

“Come now. Hand it over. Live. I always keep my word.”


DARKMOON DOC
Daring doc of mystery, champion of moonlight.
Swoops out through the shadows, Darkmoon owns the night.
Somewhere Comon Siwell schemes, but his number's up (3-2-1)

Darkmoon Doc (when there's Dangnabbits you call DM.)
Darkmoon Doc, Let us engage in unsafe activities.
Darkmoon Doc (Darkmoon, Darkmoon Doc)

Moonlit night and he appears, master of surprise.
Who's that cunning mind behind, that shadowy disguise.
Nobody knows for sure, but Siwell's out of luck, cause here comes

Darkmoon Doc (when there's Dangnabbits you call DM.)
Darkmoon Doc, Let us engage in unsafe activities.
Darkmoon Doc (Better watch out you eldritch beasts.)
Darkmoon Doc!
word count: 2823
Just because I shouldn't doesn't mean I won't.


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