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 Corrupted v.2

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Cryomancer
The Cold Mage
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Posts : 5869

PostSubject: Corrupted v.2   Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:13 am

Chapter I


The fortress. A vast compound, a bustling hive of activity and conversation. Each of the various sections inside the mechanic castle were often filled with people discussing many subjects.

Not anymore.

The once structured forums--replaced by lurking creatures--now reeked of misery and disarray. Majestic archives of archaic knowledge were now tinder for living flames, flames that had leapt since the downfall and had not calmed since. The pristine walls had long been reduced to rubble, and new barriers had been erected; what was once a proud and noble fortress had been transformed into an eerily disnyesque-castle mausoleum. How had this happened? Many would question what cruel monster could ruin such a promising future for a forum, let it go to waste.

The two figures on the hill, overlooking what was formerly the Destiny Arena, had a different question in mind.

Why did we let this happen?

---

The duo had no words for one another, only a shared sense of guilt. The younger of the two clenched his gloved fists as the sun beat down in its final moments of setting, sending rays of heat across the horizon. perhaps the fortress itself had an searing aura, or maybe it was an abnormally humid day; whatever the case, the young one had not been expecting the temperature and was wearing a faded tuxedo. Since the beginning of the pair's stakeout, he had paid for his unpreparedness. Of course, he had already suffered dearly.
The elder had dressed more reasonably, wearing an unbuttoned silk dress-shirt over a plain t-shirt. Both were shades of orange, and seemed a lot more comfortable than a suit jacket. Although he was much older than his smooth-faced partner, there was some light in his eyes and youth in his soul. It was apparent by the slight tilt in his grey beret and multicolored bracelets adorning both wrists that the elder was a creative force to be reckoned with.

These two very different men shared a similar past, and an even closer present. It was up to them to ensure their own futures. So many lives had already been lost to the ever-encroaching shadow, so much power nullified. Each day was a reminder of who had passed, and with each sunrise and sunset there was sorrow. Only recently, word had arrived that the younger's long-time friend and cohort had met his demise--suffocating as his library burned around him. The tux-clad gentleman had been inconsolable for several days before exiting his shanty with red-rimmed eyes and a broken spirit. The friend's name was carved onto the shrinking space available on the Wall of the Lost, which included almost the entirety of the Fortress's staff, most astonishingly the Matriarch Owner. It was enough to make many give up completely, but still there remained those who refused to go quietly.

It was pitch black by the time the duo had returned to what was left of the campsite. Since the Downfall, everything had gotten darker. On their way to the fortress, the elder had suggested they set up a checkpoint of sorts in case recon took longer than planned. Both were thankful for this wisdom. As his partner went to gather additional logs--the forest east of the Destiny Arena was vast--for the fire that the younger was attempting to create. Two minutes went by as the sharply dressed spy stared at the firepit, two sticks in hand. It was a stare down with the intensity to rival any battle.

When the elder returned with a bundle of what used to be a tree in tow, he was more amused than surprised to see his friend lying next to the un-scorched pit, head in hands. He wasn't sure it would have surprised anyone, to be honest. The gentleman was much better known for extinguishing flames than he was at creating them.
Wrenching the whittled sticks away from his comrade, the elder quickly ignited the pit in 4 strokes, then went to unload his bounty. it was going to be a long night.

It's going to be a long night, Arty thought to himself. Of course, Arty's thoughts never were really to himself. The ghosts of countless friends departed occupied most of his inner dialogue. This particular night, The Specter and The Blaze sparred in his subconscious. The Specter warned that the fire might draw attention to the recon operation, and the Blaze countered he could have made a fire twice the size in half the time.
"You always were a hothead," Arty mumbled. The elder stirred awake, but quickly returned to his slumber once he realized who was talking. The conversation between three old friends, the elder sleepily thought, could last all night. And it did. By the time the first keygull call rang out, Arty had only gotten a few hours rest. he was perfectly fine with that, however, as he had deemed long ago that he would be experiencing nightmares both sleeping and awake. If anything, some had mentioned, there were less nightmares while sleeping.

When the duo returned to their base--a large grouping of tents and wooden shanties surrounding an old stone fort ruin--it was nearly dusk. Arty immediately headed to the largest of the shanties, itching to get out of his tuxedo. Before he had sauntered off, however, his companion smugly asked why he had even bothered wearing something so decadent. Barely even turning his head, the former Archon mustered a smile and replied,

"You know me, classy to a fault," and continued to his makeshift abode.

Closing the door behind him, however, his brow furrowed. He was classy, true, but he had ulterior motives for this getup. Planning for the recon operation, the risk of being discovered by scouts or tank patrols was brought up; on the off-chance he was spotted, Arty certainly wanted to make an impression on any minions that might survive the strife that would ensue. For better or worse, he had now been left not facing the heat of the battle, but of the sun. For now, he was away from both. Slipping out of the tux and into a collared shirt and khakis, Arty felt a sense of calm. The mission had been very tense, and sitting down in his worn out rocking chair was very relaxing.

As the Archon had done many times before, he looked around his refuge. This particular shanty had log supports both inside and out, making it somewhat more structurally sound than its neighbors. There was less room inside, but that was fine for its one occupant. With the extra space that would normally be filled with bunk-beds, he had installed a desk, a filing cabinet, a combination safe, and a bookshelf. During the downfall, there had been a panic to save important scripture (The original screenplay for "Hacker!", first edition copies of The Rules, and several chat logs of note) and also more archaic items. The majority of these writings that persevered were held in the filing cabinets amongst spy reports and letters between refugees, while the arcane and powerful treasures were held in the safe. Only a handful of people had any of idea of what exactly the safe held, and only one person knew for sure. The bookshelves, on the other hand, were for the public. The refugees of a once great fortress were given the opportunity to read some of its historical works, simply signing out whichever document they wanted and returning it when they were done. The Arenites were slowly trying to get a sense of order, but all knew things would only ever be truly right if BAW was theirs once more. Through the small window to his left--there was one on each wall--Arty could see his companions his fellow refugees, his friends. These were the members who had worked the hardest they ever had simply to stay alive. It was a dream many had given up on, or else had taken from them.

All these deprived souls echoed around in the young Archon's head, nothing but the faintest of whispers at first. As he slowly slouched into his chair, a creeping look of horror across his face, the voices picked up; he could hear words now, just snippets of conversation. Then the phrases came, louder and louder until a million ranting voices shouted inside his mind. Louder and louder, Arty's whole body began to shake until... the voices shut off unanimously, a choir of rage replaced by the single squeaking of a door. His door. Arty's mouth was slightly open, and his eyes deadset ahead, as he found himself staring at a young refugee--Thok22 or something--peering curiously into the shanty.

"The Council has requesdted your prescence, sir."

Tilting his head, he tentatively added,

"Something bothering you, sir? You look like you've seen a ghost."

Jumping out of his rocking chair, Arty walked to the door with an increasingly amused expression on his face. Straightening the young messenger's mask, he simply replied,

"No, no. I've not seen a ghost."

Sending the boy on his way, he reached into his pocket and wiped his brow with a handkerchief. I've seen them all, he thought grimly before following in suit.

_________________
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