A woman is driven insane from a sword and threatens to take down a kingdom
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Pantania Pommel holds a sword that speaks in her mind, slowly stripping her of her sanity, It constantly asks her to bathe it in blood and when she does not comply, afflicts her with horrible headaches. She recently became guild mistress in Fialscathac. She starts a war with Talantas' guild run by Skrubb, a bwbach. With the swords urging, she gathers her forces. Soon, the sword's manipulations lead her to greater goals: the taking of the throne. Unwittingly a collection of heroes are brought together by fate (or the Gods) to thwart the sword's plans. Meanwhile the dark secret of the church is being discovered. Through betrayal, manipulations, and pain an alliance is forged and friends are lost. The lines between good and evil become blurred and who once was a foe can become an ally. Will the heroes arrive in time to stop Pantania the guild Mistress?
The streets of Talantas were chaos. An interplanar gate was opening, spewing forth hordes of hideous creatures. A particularly large diabhol with two horned heads tore the body of a potter limb from limb, cracking the bones and drinking the blood with twin tongues. The creature towered over the rioting crowds which tried to avoid it.
Elsewhere creatures were flying on leathery wings snatching victims from the mass of humanity and carrying them away to be dropped from great heights to a messy death or fed upon in mid flight. Near the city gates stood Pantania and Abracus, the mage struck with awe and unable to make a move. Her army of thieves stood to one side watching the carnage. The thief woman wore a sly smile and held her silver blade aloft. It seemed to glow with a ghostly light.
Word had travelled to the castle quickly and the militia had been dispatched. Manech also led his Fennid into the fray with a cold feeling of dread inside his breast. There was evil magic at work and he hoped they could combat it.
The College of the Arcane, still tired from the previous attack sent only a handful of wizards leaving the rest behind to defend their compound. The mage’s were lined up on the cobblestone street firing magic missiles of light at the swooping diabhols. One of the wizards went down beneath a gigantic foot, leaving a smear to show he once existed. Manech surveyed the carnage with despair. The gate had manifested inside the city gates, which made defensive walls obsolete. Citizens were being slaughtered by the dozens. Blood soaked the streets and bodies choked the alleys in no time. Panic reigned as the citizens attempted to escape to the safety of castle Dubh.
Manech’s three nines of men wearing red cloaks and mistletoe headdresses stood in a line, weapons ready. His sub commander Meilseior MacOdran stood before the lines, back towards the action. He wore a stern look on his shaggy brows, his long brown beard tinged with a hint of white. His dagger he named Bwlch, or Sharp One because it could slice through metal like it was butter, he held in a fist. He kept a maul on his wide back. He addressed the men and two women who comprised the forces.
“This is a dark day,” he began. “Darker than we have seen. Enemy forces have breached our walls and threaten to destroy the very foundation of our fine city. We must thwart this attack for the sake of our citizens, for our king, for the kingdom; for freedom.”
The soldiers pounded weapons on shields making a loud clamor. Meilsior lifted a hand to quiet them before continuing.
“This is the day when we change history, when we form our own destiny. The day that Alinard triumphs over evil.”
Another rousing cheer from the troops brought a smile to Manech’s lips. Across the square, diabhols swarmed in a dark mass each one unique and each one deadly. There were so many of them. It was time to test the Fennid’s bravery.
“Some of us may die,” he finished, “but not without taking the bastards with us. Now go and show them how terrible is Alinard’s vengeance.”
The forces gave a final roar and rushed toward the nearest demon, the gate still spewing creatures at a rapid pace. Manech held his greatsword above his head and rushed at two man sized creatures; one with a frog-like head, tongue hanging to its chest, the other resembling a beetle but with two pincered mouths. Gobbets of flesh hung from their claws and they hissed in greeting.
“Back to the Nine Hells, diabhols.” The Rifennid shouted at the top of his voice bringing his sword down upon the frog head, splitting it in two and spraying bits of skull and brains. He felt the other creature’s claw rake his side, knocking him aside. His armor kept the talon from penetrating, but it was forceful enough to knock breath from his lungs.
He turned quickly, seeing the dark bodies moving in his peripheral vision. A thrust skewered the beetle thing through the throat. It hissed, spewing ichor across the Rifennid’s face. The liquid burned where it touched flesh and he quickly wiped it away.
“Foul,” he gasped. He turned toward the nearest dark figure and slashed his great blade, severing a wing. They were badly outnumbered and hoped the rest of the Fennid were coming to their aid. He knew that some needed to remain behind at the castle, but the city needed to be protected as well.
With heavy heart, he searched for another diabhol to slay, muttering a prayer to Alinard. It seemed hopeless, but hope and faith were all they had. He prayed it would be enough.
The entire castle was in an uproar. Servants and soldiers scuttled about in a frantic pace, cursing and praying with hushed voices. Citizens of Talantas rushed in a great horde through the portcullis, nearly knocking Cannivone from his feet as he made his way to the chapel.
Mabsant directed the hordes with loud shouts and wild gestures, sweating from the exertion. He spied the young man and gave a curt nod before returning to his job of crowd control. Cannivone weaved through a line of people carrying trunks and bags filled with their belongings, nearly colliding with a male who was bleeding from a gash on his forehead.
Around the corner, he spied Perinia amongst a group of servantry working at a frantic pace to gather laundry for the helpless refugees. She caught his eye and he gave a smile. She smiled in return and went back to her work.
As he turned the corner he nearly ran into the prince who stopped him with a fist to the shoulder. Cannivone bowed in reverence and apologized attempting to push past. Gearalt pushed him against the wall and raised a fist.
“Watch where you are going, peasant,” he snarled. Cannivone looked at the floor, stammering.
“Are you too stupid to form words?” the prince cried. “I knew you were worthless when I first saw you.”
Cannivone glared at the prince with a glint in his eye. He was used to abuse from his uncle, but those days were left behind since he met the paladin, Renarthane. He clenched his teeth and replied.
“I didn’t see you, lord.” The prince scowled and pushed his face against Cannivone’s until their noses touched.
“You think I am below your notice now that the temple thinks you are so special?” Gearalt fumed. “Can you see me now?”
Cannivone shook his head. “No, Lord. I meant no such thing. I turned the corner and…” He was cut off by the prince.
“You are dirt under my heel,” Gearalt yelled. “You think you can assume a position in life just by having people feel sorry for you?”
“That’s right,” Gearalt seethed. “You cannot. A person is what they are born to be. Some are born into greatness others,” he swept his hand about Cannivone’s body, “are born in shit.”
“Please, Prince,” the youth begged. “I want no trouble.”
“Maybe you should have thought of that before thinking you would ever be my equal.” The prince pulled his fist back to hit Cannivone.
The forward momentum of his blow was stopped when Cannivone’s own hand grabbed the fist and pushed backward, knocking the prince off balance. Gearalt was livid. How dare the peasant touch him.
“I do not wish to fight you,” Cannivone said, “but I will not be your whipping boy.”
“You dare to speak to me thus?” Gearalt snarled, his hand sliding to the hilt of his short sword. “It will be your final mistake.”
The prince started pulling his sword from its scabbard. He wasn’t fast enough. Cannivone’s fist found his jaw, rattling Gearalt’s teeth and knocking him to the ground. Stunned, he looked up at the defiant lad who scowled.
“I would give my life to protect your father,” the boy spat. “He has shown me nothing but kindness. You show me nothing but spite. I have asked for nothing and done nothing against you, yet you insist on bullying me with the strength of your title. With Alinard as my witness, I will never be a victim again. Ever.”
The prince sat on his backside rubbing his jaw in stunned silence. Cannivone hovered over him threateningly.
“Now if you don’t mind,” he continued,” I was on my way to the chapel to pray. You are probably needed at the walls. If you ever touch me again, I will kill you and Alinard can damn my soul.”
Warning given, the boy walked away leaving the prince with sore jaw and injured pride, seething in his anger and planning his revenge. There was no way he would let a peasant boy defeat him.
He was about to follow the lad and finish the job when Perinia turned the corner and cried out upon seeing Gearalt on the floor.
“Prince. Are you harmed? What happened?”
Gearalt pushed his sword fully into the scabbard and rose to his knees. He shook off the woman’s offered hand and snapped at her.
“I fell. Get the fuck away from me, you slut. Do not touch me. Don’t you have a chamber pot to empty or a barn floor to warm?”
Perinia scowled and withdrew her hand. She turned away from the prince with a sigh and left him to stand on his own. He took a back glance toward where Cannivone had exited, then thinking twice he stood, straightened out his royal tunic, and joined the mob.
The serving woman’s time would soon come. He saw the way Cannivone stared at her when he knew she wasn’t watching. He would hurt the boy by hurting the serving girl. He smiled as his plan hatched like an adder’s egg in his mind, spreading foul poison. He grabbed his sword and started to run.