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CollaterHell

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Project_Xii, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    CollaterHell

    CollaterHell

    Contract 1 – Priest of the Rogue Citadel


    “5 million gold. Right here, up front. I can offer double that upon completion of the job.â€

    Mortis studied the little man offering the trunk full of gold before him. Black suit, slicked back hair, a nervous twitch in the corner of his mouth and bright blue eyes that took in every detail. It had been awhile since anyone had required his 'special skills', and this man seemed almost to eager.

    “How is it that you can offer me that much money?†he inquired in a voice that betrayed nothing but general curiosity. “Not even the Sultans of Lut Gholein would be so quick to give a sum like that.â€

    The little man smiled slyly and wrung his hands.
    “My... employers also believe it is a generous amount. But the task is not an easy one. It will take a creature of your cunning and abilities to manage it.†He paused and gestured to the large membranous wings protruding from Mortis' back. “I think you'll find those invaluable.â€

    Mortis instinctively folded his wings closer to his body; he always got uncomfortable when people mentioned them. But there was no denying what he was, and he never tried.

    The little mans eyes glinted mysteriously, as if he enjoyed the fact that he could unnerve an assassin such as Mortis - despite the obvious physical danger.
    “Will you accept?â€

    Mortis leaned forward, his light blue skin looking a shade darker in the lantern light. His sharp, feline-like nails dug into the desk between them.
    “What's there to stop me from simply taking the gold and your life right now?â€

    An uneasy silence filled the small room, broken by the sudden creak of crossbows being loaded. Glinting bolt heads appeared through the cracks of the curtains and the door behind him. The small man stared at him calmly.
    “Your employment being terminated earlier then desired, and my employers being -very- displeased.â€

    The silence continued for a few more moments, then Mortis relaxed his grip on the desk. Deep gouges in the wood revealed what his hands could do when only slightly riled. His hard expression changed to a casual smirk.
    “I'm glad to hear it. You'd be surprised how many of my previous contractors pissed themselves when I said that. Weak fools.†He spat.

    The little man smiled.
    “I'll take that as acceptance.†He extended his hand, “My name is Braca. Welcome to your first assignment.â€

    *******

    Mortis closed the door to the taverns back room carefully behind him. A wave of warm air mixed with the smoke of random narcotic herbs washed into him. The main bar was filed with drunkards and potheads, wasting away their lives or running from problems they were to weak to fight.

    Mortis didn't have time for the likes of them. He tucked his wings in close and headed for the door. Something smacked into his legs hard and grunted.

    The midget carrying a tray of drinks stumbled abit, regained his balance and then stared at the kneecaps in front of him. His eyes slowly worked their way up to the barely human looking face, and he gulped.

    “D-d-do you wan' sumtink?†he stammered?

    Mortis stared down at him silently, his golden eyes glowing.
    “No. Thank you†he said at last. The midget shrugged and waddled off towards a pot smoker in the corner.

    Mortis scanned the tavern one last time and strode to the exit. A thin layer of sleet crept under the crack in the doorway, melting into a pool when it met the taverns heat. He braced himself for the icy chill he was about to meet, and opened the door.

    The howling gale whipped into the tavern for the three seconds it took for Mortis to get outside and slam the door behind him. Then he was out in the blizzard, struggling to see a few feet in front of him. As he waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, his keen senses picked up the sounds of snow crunching underfoot. Someone was coming towards the tavern. He shielded his eyes, squinted, and a vague outline came into view.

    The hooded figure stumbled slowly up to him, a rusty sword dragging deeply in the snow behind. He appeared to be focused on the ground, heading straight for the tavern door. Mortis made to move out of the way... and froze. He caught a whiff of something. Something familiar. Something he'd smelt before in the depths of Hell, long long ago. He wanted to run, to fly, to get as far away as he could, but he couldn't will his body to do anything.

    Slowly the figure approached the door, still appearing to have not noticed Mortis. His hand reached for the handle... and he too froze. After what felt like an eternity, the hooded head turned Mortis' way.

    He saw a human face; a man. Hagged and deeply troubled. A closed wound in his forehead festered and bubbled with infection. But the eyes – windows to the soul – revealed what lurked within this fast fading husk. An evil so ancient Mortis dared not do or say a word.

    The stranger started to speak, but before he could he went into a violent spasm, and his head lolled to one side. The eyes burned with unearthly fire, and the mouth gaped wide open.

    “So, Son of Hell, you sought refuge in the world of Man?†The voice was deep and growling, and definitely not human. It simply rolled out of the mans open mouth, over unmoving tongue and lips.

    Mortis felt the terror rising inside him, not knowing if it was his own doing or if the creature before him was instilling it. He opened his own mouth but succeeded only in gulping like a drowned fish.

    The corners of the mans lips curved into an open mouthed grin, and his eyes darkened.
    “Fear not, traitor to your brethren, I am not here to deal upon you the justice you deserve.†His head slowly lolled to the other side as he continued to speak. “Soon the Three will be reunited, and the worlds of Man and Hell combined. It will be your own kind that takes their revenge, not I.â€

    With a start the mans head snapped upright, the possession twisting his features gone for the time being. He merely stared at Mortis sadly, nodding in greeting, and entered through the taverns door.

    Mortis stood in the freezing blizzard, thoughts churning furiously through his mind. But as the terror faded and was replaced by his usual calm demur, he pushed them aside and resolved to think about it later. Whatever the Lords of Hell were plotting, he wanted no part of. He was free, and would never be chained again.

    'Besides,' he thought, 'I have an assignment to concentrate on.'

    Spreading his wings wide he easily caught the howling winds and sailed swiftly into the night.

    ******

    He was still flying when the sun crept lazily over the horizon, warming his ice whipped face and frost covered wings. As he gazed down at the lush green meadows and thick forests of Khanduras, he felt the numbness seep from his mind and body, and finally, he allowed himself to think.

    The stranger at the tavern; he had mentioned the Three. More then that, he was one of the Three. Diablo, Lord of Terror, had somehow escaped his fate of being sealed in the soulstone, and was roaming the lands free once more.

    Mortis shivered, despite the now hot sunlight, at the thought of meeting his old Lord. It had been so long; so long since he'd left Hell and met any real demons in this land of Mortals. Yet he remembered it well.

    *

    He remembered the moment – the very second – Izauls sword had struck him during the battle for Hell Forge. He remembered how the power surging through that mystical blade, Azurewrath, had severed the connection between his mind and that of the Lords; the puppet-masters, the greater wills pushing all demons into a blind, suicidal frenzy. He could still see his Balrog brethren falling to Angel swords all around him, and Izaul himself once more raising Azurewrath to finish the kill.

    He had fled in that instant. Took flight and fled for all his worth. The battle had raged all around him, demons and the forces of heaven, and he blindly dodged through the fray. When he at last stopped, he was on the furthest most reaches of Hell, staring out over a gaping black abyss.

    He'd sat their huddled, on the edge of the world, coming to terms with his new found mind. Days, possibly weeks passed. He couldn't be sure, as Hell was forever cast in an eerie twilight. At last, a comrade in arms – and once close friend – had stumbled across him.

    “Why did you flee?†his once-ally had asked accusingly. “Why did you abandon your service to Hell?â€

    Mortis merely rocked, arms cradling his knees, and stared up with confused eyes.
    “I'm free†he mumbled. “I am no longer a pawn to the Lords eternal will.â€

    “The Lords will is the will of us all!†came the booming reply.

    “Not mine any longer†he whispered back.

    The opposing Balrog drew his sword from its sheathe and stepped forward, fire blazing from his nostrils.
    “Such blesphamy. Such emotion. You've become no better then humans!†He raised his sword high, “I should kill you now, you weak, pathetic vermin.â€

    The two remained motionless, locked in a time free state... and then the sword came down. With a blade shattering crash it struck the stone at Mortis' feet and disintegrated. The Balrog snorted heavily, fire blazing in his eyes now as well.

    “But I won't†he said, tossing away the useless hilt of his sword. “I am a Balrog, just like you. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt.†He bared his teeth viscously.

    “Now flee, traitor†he continued, “Do what you do best. But know that I will find you. I or one of the other survivors of the battle you abandoned them at. And when we do...†he nodded towards the silverly remains of his shattered sword, “There will be no mercy.â€

    And once again, Mortis had fled. Not just from the Lords and demons he had once fought beside, but from the whole of Hell. Remembering his comrades words, he managed to locate and fight his way through one of the few portals leading to Sanctuary, the world of Men. He knew in his heart that he would find even less acceptance there then he would now in Hell, but at that point in time he had no other choice...

    *

    He snapped alert again as he realised he'd been gliding dangerously low. A wide wall of treetops were rushing to meet him, and he purposely pulled up at the last second, savouring the rush of adrenalin. In the distance, high above the trees and all else, rose the peaked and domed roofs of the Rogue Citadel. It was an impressive structure; well maintained and crafted to perfection, Mortis noticed.

    On either side of the main building stretched the Great Stone Wall, which divided the lands and traveled for miles in each direction. The only method of entry – massive wooden doorways complete with metal spikes and a steel bar to hold the handles – sat embedded in the walls to the right of the Citadel.

    Mortis slowed his descent and landed gently not fair from the main entrance. He crouched in the shadows of the woods around him, and surveyed the area. Guards at the doors. Guards on the walls. All women, and all armed with very well crafted bows. He flinched as a carrion bird passed over the wall and was brought down with a single well aimed shot.

    Closing his eyes, Mortis concentrated on the summoning spell and called in the contract details Braca had given him. The words were bold, heavy print, so no mistake could be made on what they said:

    “Assignment 1 – Priest of the Rogue Citadel

    There is only one man welcome to live in the home of the Sisters of the Sightless Eye. The Priest, known as 'Brother Brent', has been there many years, providing spiritual enlightenment and blessings at all the occasions that require them. He was, by all standards, a noble and holy man.

    But over the years, unbeknownst by everyone in the Citadel, Brent became old, demented, and open to corruption. He resented the way his body was becoming frail and weak, and his prayers slowly turned to that of the Lords of Hell. He begged of them eternal life, and in return he would make the Rogues weak so that when the Day of Redemption came, the forces of Hell could take Khanduras with little or no help from the Sisters of the Sightless Eye.

    The Lords granted him his request by imbuing him with an aura that would drain the life and soul from all those around him. He has been doing this for years now; feeding off the essence of these women to sustain himself. Soon they will be to weak to defend their lands.

    Your orders: find a way into the Citadels Cathedral – undetected – and slay Brother Brent. If you are seen, the Sister will sound the alarm and Brent will flee deep into the Catacombs; a varitable maze of corridors and burial rooms that spans an unknown amount of levels. If this happens, he will be beyond even your reach.

    The life of every single woman in that Citadel rests with you. Their lives are being stolen to feed an evil and beligerant man, and it is highly likely their souls will be forced down into a place you know all to well, to be tortured by creatures you once called brethren.

    Do not fail. My employers demand it.

    Bracaâ€


    Mortis studied the signature for a second, then scrunched the paper up and vanished it. His orders were clear; the Priest would die for his sins. It was also clear that any kind of assault on the Citadel would have to be attempted at night.

    Resigning himself to that fact, he flapped lightly up into an over-hanging branch. Settling into a roosting position, he wrapped has large wings around his body, let out a deep sigh, and relaxed. Before long, his mind drifted into the misty netherworld of sleep. And he dreamed.

    ******
     
  2. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE IncGamers Member

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    Well, this is a nice twist on a mission-based adventure story. Some mysterious "employer" paying a huge sum to save the Rogues? And I just love the Balrog-as-hero thang: the gift/curse of free will; the demon without a country; the quarter-ton monster perched peacefully on a branch, maybe with little sparrows alighting cheerily on his back and head, chirping brightly while he grumpily tries to sleep... (No?) Can't wait to see where this is going.
     
  3. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    part 2

    (Thxs for the kind words :) )

    He dreamed of the hardest time in his life; the first two years after he came through the portal. Running. Hiding. And learning the hard way how the laws of Sanctuary differed to the laws of Heaven and Hell.

    In Hell, the air was always warm and suspended in an eternal twilight. Food and water were not required to sustain life; although many demons took pleasure in feasting on the blood and flesh of new cursed victims, no nutrition was derived from it. Hells minions never suffered from thirst or hungry, never needed sleep, and never faltered under muscle fatigue. They could fight relentlessly until their body was rendered incapable by an enemies weapon; such were the Laws of Hell.

    In Sanctuary, Mortis found himself facing every mortal element. The weather changed constantly, alternating between a bright time that was both warm and blinding, to a dark night that was very similar to Hell. Both times had glowing orbs in the sky, the dark time one more to Mortis' liking. It radiated a soft glow that illuminated the land with silvery beams. He traveled mostly under this orb, as the other burned his blue skin and made him squint. Sometimes water fell from the sky, cold and wet, and other times it combined with howling wind and ice.

    Aside from coming to terms with what he later learned was “day and nightâ€, “sun and moonâ€, “rain and snowâ€, he also had to face strange needs occurring in his body.

    “Hunger and thirst†were things he learned from watching the birds and bests roaming around him. Water didn't exist in Hell, the closest thing being bubbling tar or the Lava River. By following animal example, he discovered not all water was safe to drink.
    Streams were good, they ran fast and clear. Puddles and dams were not; they were murky and riddled with parasites. Though a demon could stomach almost anything, being host to a gut-full of micro-organisms was not their idea of a good time.

    Hunting also required new skills. In Hell, victims were forced to flee over flat, barren land with few places to run and even less places to hide. The demons could track them down at their leisure.
    In Sanctuary, the landscape played an all to important part in the hunting routine. Trees, rocks, grass, burrows, hills: anything that could be used as cover was taken advantage of. Mortis simply did not have the experience needed to hunt for himself.

    So once again he followed packs of animals, picking on the remains of their kills. Over time he became more confident, and joined in on the hunt.

    He always chuckled at the look on eagles faces as he glided beside them.

    The day he made his first independent kill was a great one. He reveled in it, gorged himself to the seams. And then became acquainted with another mortal trait.
    Vomit was definitely not something demons, or at least Balrogs, were used to. He had seen Stygian Hags giving birth that way before, so his first instinct was that he was doing likewise. When he found that wasn't so, he panicked, thinking perhaps his insides were now on the outside.

    But that too was untruthful. Upon closer inspection, he realised it was merely the flesh of the beast he'd consumed, and he resolved that next time he'd eat slower, eat less and perhaps chew his food.

    Oh yes, those two years had been a harsh time. He had lived with the wild things because, as he expected, any human he came in contact with fled in terror. He was as lost in this world as he was in his own.
    But then he met a man who hadn't fled. A crafty, suave old man, highly skilled in many things. He had taken Mortis into his home, and taught him how to survive. Mortis would one day refer to this man as 'the Teacher'.

    ******

    A cricket chirping in his ear roused him from his slumber. The dream faded quickly, for which he was grateful. They weren't the most pleasant memories.

    Flicking the cricket from his shoulder, he unfolded his wings and saw that, once again, it was dark. The great dome entrance of the Citadel glowed slightly from within, and he could still see guards pacing in the torch light. Entry was going to be a challenge, but not impossible.

    In one swift motion he leapt from the branch, hit the ground and bounded back into the air. To his disappointment he discovered there wasn't a breathe of wind, so he was forced to beat his wings heavily to get appropriate lift. Although a fair distance from the Rogues, the sound still traveled to them, but it merely sounded like a flock of bats to their ears.

    Reaching a height he thought would attract the least attention, he began to glide slowly over the massive Monastery. He could identify each section quite easily by the structure of the roof.
    The domed main entrance opened into a three pronged cloister, which then led onto what could only be a barracks. Even at night the women were continuing their vigorous training routines; firing a constant barrage of arrows at distant scarecrows tied to poles. It made him uneasy to see all the arrows in the heart or head locations.

    Mortis glided on further, identifying what appeared to be the roof of a prison, but from the small size of it he gathered most of the building was situated underground. Another cloister separated that, the mess hall, and the very location he was looking for; the great spiraled peak of the Cathedral.

    He floated quietly towards the roof, wondering exactly how to go about his entry, but at the last second curiosity got the better of him and he changed course towards the mess hall instead. He landed softly and peered about. A number of wide windows allowed viewing inside, and he silently paced up to one.

    Pressing his hands carefully against the glass, he gazed down on the rows of tables below. The room was illuminated by large chandeliers and candles, and although he couldn't make out the words a steady murmur was coming from the happily eating women. They sat in small groups, dipping bread into soup, or chewing well cooked meat from the bone. The occasional laugh told him they were carefree and completely oblivious to the evil that lurked just across the cloister from them.

    ''Monster', thought Mortis. These women were so strong, yet so innocent in their faith. He ground his teeth as his eyes swept over the sea of feminine faces. And so young, some of them. Would they die before their time because of a Priests greed?

    He suddenly realised his nail were digging to hard into the glass, and hairline fractures were beginning to appear. Turning from the window, he crouched, and with one mighty leap, cleared the inner cloister completely. He landed on the roof of the Cathedral with a thump, and almost staggered as the frail tiles shattered to dust under his weight.

    ''At least I didn't smash completely through' he thought with relief.

    Carefully he stalked the outside of the roof, searching for a window or maintainence hatch, and annoyingly found niether. The stained glass windows on the walls of the building were heavily barred, so there'd be no going through them without a considerable amount of noise.
    No, the only way he was going to get inside was through the front door. And that would mean going through the guards stationed out front.

    Mortis got down on all fours and peered over the edge. Two female guards did indeed stand at attention below him. Moving with exaggerated caution he slid off the roof and began to crawl down the wall, digging his claws as deep into the stone as possible.

    He hoped to Hell no one would come into the cloister; they would die of shock at sight of a large, dark, winged being nestled above the heads of the guards.
    'Like a giant spider, ready to pounce' he thought with amusement.

    He hovered above them, motionless, so close he could hear them breathing. Gripping desperately with his tow-claws, he reached out his hands, ready to render unconscious with two simultaneous blows.

    And then one of the women spoke.

    “Have you been dreaming lately?†she asked. Mortis jerked back with a start. The other guard made a 'tch' sound and shook her head.

    “Oh gods, Quinn, not this again. Are we going to talk about the meanings of your stupid dreams every time we have guard duty together? I swear I'm going to put in a transfer to wall-watch if you keep this up.â€

    “There's no need to be rude!†Quinn said, sounding hurt. “They worry me, Karla, and it helps to talk about it.â€

    Karla sighed.
    “Ok. Fine. What were they about this time?â€

    “Same as before, but stronger this time. More persuasive. It's still dark, and I can't see who's speaking. All I can make out is a silhouette. It looks human... but much larger. And definitely female. I can distinctly remember... red hair.â€

    “Red hair?â€

    “Yeah. Red hair. It matches the voice somehow. She calls to me, or pleads with me, even acts motherly sometimes. I've only ever once got the feeling she was trying to command me, but I didn't like that so she stopped. It's not a disturbing dream... about the only thing that bothers me is the snakes.â€

    “The... snakes? Riigghttt...â€

    “I'm not kidding! The silhouette has snakes all over it. At least, that's what it looks like. Long, whip-like snakes coming up over her shoulders and waving their heads around menacingly. It's really creepy actually.â€

    “It sounds it.†Karla shuddered, “Perhaps you should lay off shooting the wildlife. Sounds like they're after revenge or something.â€

    “Do you think?? Quinn asked, sounding worried.

    Mortis, still hovered above them, was completely intrigued in the conversation and had forgotten he was quite exposed in his current position. He quickly came to his senses and reached out again.

    “Sorry girls,†he whispered.

    “Did you say something?†Karla asked her companion.

    -CRACK-

    Mortis brought their skulls together hard, and the women slouched unconscious. He quickly dropped from the wall and dragged their bodies to a dark corner. The mission was in full swing now, it wouldn't be long before someone entered the cloister and saw that the guards weren't at their posts. Then the alarm would sound, and he damn well hoped Brent would be dead by then.

    Laying them respectively on the ground, he hurried back to the large Cathedral doors and tested the handles. Unlocked thankfully.
    'Never know when one of the Rogues might have a crisis of faith' he supposed.
    He pulled one side of the door open, pleased to hear it well oiled, and slipped inside.

    *****
     
  4. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    Geez what's happening to this place? Where's everyone gone? Where's RevenantsKnight???
    He's the best reviewer of them all, i was hoping for his comments.
     
  5. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE IncGamers Member

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    I can feel your pain. Can't speak for the revenant one, but here are a few of my thoughts:


    I still like this. It's interesting the way you have divorced the beast from the beastly, and made it possible for the reader to identify with Mortis. He was only ever a demon because Hell made him that way (the devil made him do it!) and now that he is in the human realm he is quite human.

    Also the quest he is on is interesting and I think your writing is on a good pace; it seems neither long nor rushed, but makes for a good read. The introduction of the Teacher is interesting. I'm guessing there will be more flashbacks of lessons learned. Some specifics:

    It threw me a bit to hear Mortis refer to himself as evil, especially as the previous narrative goes to such lengths to portray him as something else. I can understand that he might think that that is what the rogues would think, but it comes across as if he is applying that label to himself.


    I liked this bit because it addresses the one problem I had with this section. The idea of a monster the size and weight of Pit Lord engaging in stealthy actions is, frankly, hard to believe. I'm not saying it's an unworkable concept, but because of the rather obvious problems with it (kind of like asking a reader to imagine an elephant tiptoeing across thin ice) you might invest a little more time convincing the reader of Mortis's exceptional skills of stealth and evasion.



    That's all I've got. Your story is enjoyable and I hope for more. As for the elusive knight, my advice is to be patient. You can't expect a celebrity of such magnitude to be at your beck-and-call, you know. And I've heard it whispered that the Rev doth crit' in strange ways...
     
  6. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight IncGamers Member

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    Vacationing on the coast of insanity. :D In all seriousness, I’ve just had a shortage of available time, which may be the case for a good while longer. Yeah, life’s stupid like that. Thanks for the kind words, though (and same to 0xDEADCAFE.)

    ...And on the story: this looks like a good start. On the whole, this was a pretty smooth read, and the content’s interesting and most definitely original, though there are a few points that I’d describe in more detail, and the formatting for the dialogue was a little unusual. Anyway, here’re some specific comments on Chapter 1, and sorry I didn’t get to this earlier:

    Er...a suit? Sounds a bit out of place in the Diablo world to me...unless you meant something else by that. Either way, I’d suggest a bit of revising here.

    “Awhile†technically means “a short time,†and “a while†can mean a much longer period. Given the context, I assume you want the latter. Also, that should be “too eager.â€

    Should this break be here? If that was intentional, I’d add another press of the Return key.

    Nice little touch on Mortis and his attitude towards his heritage.

    In general, I’d advise not starting a new line for dialogue in this manner; if you want to set speech off from the rest of the text, hit “Return†twice. If not, then it’s probably fine just to treat the speech and the preceding narration as two sentences, and simply have the appropriate spacing in between.

    Cats don’t have nails; they have smallish retractable claws. I’m not sure what you were suggesting with this image; are his nails like small claws, or are they retractable, or are they somewhat delicate? All of these came to my mind as possibilities.

    This struck me as a rather odd comment, seeing as Mortis has apparently worked for others before. If you meant this to mean that it’s his first assignment with this particular group, I think that could just go unsaid; it seems a bit like stating the obvious to me.

    That should be “tavern’s,†since you’re indicating possession of the door.

    I think that should be “washed over†or “washed into his nostrils.†As it is, it sounds a little like you’re likening the air to a current of water or something. .

    Those should be “filled with†and “too weak.†Also, marijuana isn’t a narcotic by a medical or scientific definition. Either way, I’d make up some drug of your own choosing instead, because “pothead†just has too many modern connotations for it to work here, in my opinion.

    That should be “a bit.â€

    Heh. I had a great image of this playing out...hilarious.

    That should be “tavern’s,†since you’re indicating possession. In most such cases, use the desired noun with an apostrophe and then an “s.â€

    There should be a comma after the first “long.â€

    That should be “Mortis’s way.â€

    Erm...not sure what you mean by “haggedâ€; perhaps you meant “haggardâ€?

    Nicely done here, but “windows to the soul†is perhaps a bit too common a phrase...maybe you could take the idea and alter it a tad, so that it becomes something truly yours.

    “...dared not do†sounds like it’s missing something.

    This seems like a good outline of the scene to me, but it felt a little lacking in detail. The “violent spasm†and the “unearthly fire†in particular both seemed to pass by too quickly, without any extra description to help these things stick in my mind.

    Vivid image. That should be “man’s,†and “an unmoving tongue...†by the way.

    Another good image, except...fish don’t really drown. Were you going for a “fish out of water†sort of simile?

    That should be “man’s.â€

    Interesting depiction of Mortis...for someone who just had a brush with the Lord of Terror himself, he’s surprisingly composed. Could be fun to see him mess with other demons that rely (or are very used to) fighting with mind games.

    The end of this sentence doesn’t read too smoothly; I’d recommend adding “it†after “of.â€

    You need a comma after “wide.â€

    Whoa. Too sudden. Now, I got that pretty quickly, but Mortis probably shouldn’t have done so. Or, if he did, it would’ve helped to explain a little of how he came to this conclusion; as it is, it feels like you’re shifting from what Mortis knows to what you, as the author, know, while remaining in Mortis’s thoughts.

    Some spelling points: those should be “Izual†and “Hellforge.â€

    Wow. You’ve got one heck of a cool idea here...but it goes a bit undeveloped. This concept and backstory fit pretty well into your tale, and, for that reason, are definitely worth some more time. My advice would be to draw this moment out into at least a few more sentences, adding in more description, perhaps Mortis’s reactions at the time, that sort of thing. If you can make this scene stick in the reader’s mind, just like it does in Mortis’s, then it’ll make your story that much more powerful.

    Erm...if Izual was about to take him out, then how’d he manage to flee?

    I think that should be “between demons and...â€

    That should be “there huddled,†and “newfound†is one word.

    Given the “greater wills†concept mentioned previously, and this demon’s next words, I would’ve expected him not to understand that Mortis had a choice in fleeing...which is something this sentence implies. Personally, I’d drop this part entirely.

    There should be a comma after “free,†inside the quotes, and “Lords†should be “Lord’sâ€
    in both instances.

    There should be a comma after “longer,†inside the quotes. If you have a quote, and the text immediately following it is the speaker’s action (e.g. he whispered,) then there should be a comma, inside the quotes. Exclamation points and question marks function as commas in this instance, so they work too, depending on the context.

    “Sheathe†as a noun is actually a corruption of “scythe.†I think you mean “sheath.â€

    That should be “blasphemy.â€

    That should be “...no better than the humans.â€

    The comma after “high†should be a period.

    “Time free state†sounds too technical to me for description in a story, though maybe that’s just me.

    I’d suggest using a modifier other than “blade-shatteringâ€; it’s apparent that that happened from the later description, and so seems redundant.

    You need a comma after “won’t,†inside the quotes.

    That’s “viciously,†right? Otherwise, his teeth are acting like liquids.

    This started out pretty well, but with the part after “survivors,†it lost a lot of its punch. I’d just leave it at “survivorsâ€; it’s clear who you’re talking about, and it doesn’t have a wordy clarification slowing down the threat.

    That should be “silvery.â€

    That should be “comrades’.â€

    Since “a wall of treetops†is technically a singular noun, “were†should be “was.†Also, that should be “adrenaline.â€

    The semicolon here should just be a comma, since replacing it with a period is grammatically incorrect.

    That should be “not far,†methinks.

    I don’t think “priest†should be capitalized in this case; while he is presumably the only one, it doesn’t sound like it’d be a title. Maybe that’s just me, though.

    That should be “he was once,†I think, since he’s still alive. As it is, it suggested to me that he is dead.

    That should be “unbeknownst to.â€

    “...with little or no help†seems like it should be “with little or no interference†or something like that. Also, I’d revise “he would make†to “he promised to make,†since he’s making promises at the moment of his negotiations. This improves the parallelism of the sentence (he begged for X, and then promised Y.)

    That should be “too weak to defend...â€

    That should be “Citadel’s.â€

    That should be “veritable,†and I’d think “Sister†should be plural, since you appear to be using it to represent the Order as a whole.

    That should be “belligerent.â€

    I’m split on “vanishedâ€; on the one hand, it’s a little awkward at first, seeing as you’re not using it in a normal sense, so I got stuck a bit on the initial read. On a second look, however, I really like the image it suggests. It is a good image, so unless you can come up with a different, smoother way of phrasing this, I’d just leave it; it’s not too much of a problem as is.

    Heh...nicely done with this and the previous detail on the carrion bird.

    That should be “onto,†unless he really did fly smack into a branch.

    Well, I’m definitely interested. As a concept, Mortis is something I’ve been wanting to see for a while; why not have demons or angels who just get fed up with the whole “eternal war†thing and go rogue? Anyway, I’ll try to read the next chapter shortly, and post some thoughts when I can...just know that if I don’t post for a while, it’s not because I didn’t read your story. Given the odds, it’s much more likely that one of many things decided to come along and stick an industrial-grade water pump in my pool of free time. Thanks for posting!
     
  7. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    Oh, sorry he was refering to Brent in the Catherdral across the cloister :S I'll fix that up.

    I made a critical mistake of leaving out his physical de-evolution out of the first 2 years flashback. As it is, it's in contract 2, but that's deffiantely going to be altered later. For now, just imagine him as a stealthy, thinner being. I apolgise for the, really, rather stupid mistake.

    The Knight:

    Yes, that's the reviewing skills i know and worship. Cor... rehaul ahoy. It could be a long haul to, considering i'm up to part 3 on Contract 2
     
  8. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    Part 3

    Inside the Cathedral was quite beautiful by all standards. Rows of pews filled the main hall, and a long red carpet lay between them, leading to a large canopied altar. Two prayer rooms were located either side of the hall, filled with the gothic stained glass windows he'd seen from outside. The high ceiling was filled with hanging ornaments and intricate chandeliers, and tapestries that depicted feral looking women: the original Sisters of the Sightless Eye.

    Kneeled at the altar, deep in chant, Mortis saw his prey. Brother Brents soft words drifted to him, sounding strange and alien. Whatever they meant, he was certain it was no good. Mortis strode up behind the old man and waited.

    “Who do you chant for?†he asked.

    The Priest stopped mumbling but neither stood nor turned around.
    “Another man in the Citadel?†he asked calmly. “You are honoured indeed.â€

    “Answer the question, old man.â€

    “Patience lad,†Brent replied, standing up now, “I pray to the Heavens, seeking protection and guidance for these women. I keep evil at bay via a holy shield that must be strengthened every night.†He gestured upwards, “Do you feel it, brother, feel it's divine power? The power of the Gods. Perhaps you wish to join me in worship?â€

    “The Hell I would†Mortis hissed.

    Brent paused, and then turned around slowly. He gasped and stepped back in shock, seeing the being he'd been conversing with the past few minutes.
    “You're a... a..†he pointed, accusingly.

    “A demon†Mortis finished. He lunged forward and grabbed Brent by the throat, “and I've come to make you pay for the lives you've been stealing to feed your own corrupted soul.â€

    Brent struggled and kicked, but soon found himself dangling in the air. He grabbed Mortis's huge hand and tried to pry it from his windpipe.
    “What... do you mean??†he choked, fear welling in his eyes.

    “You can't lie to me, Priest. I can smell evil; I was it once.†He brought his face in close to Brent and breathed deep... then paused. He smelt nothing. None of that particular taint that was so common with the other men he'd been assigned to kill.

    He shook his head.
    “Tricks! I heard you chanting just now; those were no normal prayers.â€

    “Ward spell... protects... the Rogues†came the strangled reply.

    “Stop it! Stop lieing, old man. I know all about your evil scheme. You've just become adept at hiding your taint. Even mortals can sense it, and the women eventually would if you didn't hide it well.â€

    “Not lieing... you... are the tainted one... ENOUGH!!â€

    A blast of raw energy suddenly sent Mortis catapulting backwards. He sailed through the air and smashed into the right hand row of pews, breaking through three of them before coming to a rest. Brent was leaning against the altar, gasping heavily and glaring at his enemy with vengeful eyes.

    “I've had enough! I don't know who you are, or why you've barged in here accusing me of such evils – even willing to take my life! But I can deduce one thing: your intentions are not in service of the mighty Lord, God, and you are therefore a threat to these women.†He raised his hands, “You must be destroyed!â€

    Two bolts of pure light flew from his palms and struck Mortis in the chest, sending him back through another two pews. He reeled; the light neither cut nor scorched the flesh, but inside he was burning up. A throbbing, incapacitating burn that left him struggling to breathe.

    Brent continued to yell in his fury;
    “I was a Paladin of the High Order, I swore an oath to protect the Rogues. I will lay down my life to do so!â€

    More orbs of light flew across the hall, but Mortis was up and staggering aside. He summoned the energy to leap onto the wall, despite his pain, and began to scurry towards the dark peak of the ceiling.

    “Flee demon! My holy fire will slay you!â€

    The light orbs followed Mortis's ascent, blowing holes through tiles and rocking the building. He climbed, dodging and clawing for his life, circling around the peak until the canopy of the altar finally shielded him from Brents view.

    The barrage of orbs halted, and Mortis waited, crouched on the ceiling, for the second the Priest came out to find him. After a minute, Brent cautiously did so, and Mortis pounced. Hurtling down, hands outstretched and claws flashing, he must have looked a vision from a nightmare.

    Brent paused but a second before unleashing another volley of light. One struck Mortis at the last moment, doubling him over, and the falling demon barreled into the Priest. They tussled on the floor, clawing and punching for all it was worth. Brents thick robe protected him from the slashing talons, but he was too slow to avoid the massive headbutt that sent him flying.

    The two were back on their feet in an instant, the Priest proving surprisingly nimble for his age. They circled each other, watching thier opponents movements keenly. Brent suddenly drew a large silver crucifix from a out of his robe a thrust it in Mortis's direction.

    “Burn!†he cried, and made two slashing motions.

    The beams of light that came this time did cut, and the smell of his own burning flesh filled Mortis's nostrils. He looked at his chest and saw a still-sizzling sign of the cross scarred deep.

    Brent snarled in triumph, while Mortis bared his teeth. He saw the crucifix raised again, and instinctively hit the floor. Beams of light streaked over his head as he dodged left and right, bearing down on his prey. With one swift motion he rolled and lashed his wing outwards, knocking the cross from the Priests hands. He came up and took a blind swipe with his claws, hoping to at least injure Brent. The warm, pulsing chunk of flesh that suddenly appeared in his hand surprised him.

    Brent looked equally surprised at the blood flowing from his severed throat. He put his hands up to stifle the flow, but the damage had already been down. Paling, he fell to his knees, then slowly slouched onto his back.

    Mortis dropped the piece of meat and sighed. Tiredly, he stumbled over and knelt beside Brents face, expecting to see hatred in the old mans eyes as his final moments slipped away. Instead, he saw only a resigned sadness.

    “Repent, old man†he said softly, “Admit the corruption you succumbed to, and go freely to the Heavens.â€

    Brents eyes widened, and a deep gurgling rose from his throat. His chest rose with the effort to speak.
    “My place... in Heaven is... assured. But... the women...†he made a sound that was either a laugh or a cry of anguish, “You... have doomed... ... them all.â€

    His head lolled, and the severed artery in his neck ceased to pump blood. Mortis stood, the kill complete, and turned to leave the Cathedral.

    From somewhere deep underground, the earth gave a mighty tremble. It shifted and growled, shaking the foundations of the building. Mortis took to the air in surprise; confused and unnerved by the disturbance.

    At that moment the Cathedral doors burst open, and a large contingent of Rogues poured in. There was fury on their faces, and vengeance in their eyes. But that quickly faded to shock, as they weren't prepared for what they saw.
    To their eyes, a great winged being hovered over the body of their beloved Priest. The gore still dripped fresh from his claws, and they saw by his face and the golden eyes that he was no man. He was demon, and he had defiled their Cathedral.

    Mortis wanted to explain, to tell them he had actually saved their lives and Brent wasn't the man they thought he'd been. But he could see the hurt, the horror, and the anger bubbling inside them, and knew they wouldn't listen to anything he said.

    With a unified cry the women nocked their arrows and began firing wildly. He flapped his great wings and rushed towards the ceiling, arrows nicking his chest and thighs. The roof was his only means of escape, he knew, and as he powered upwards he clenched his outstretched hands into fists and closed his eyes.

    At the last second he folded his wings down close, and let the momentum carry him into the brittle tiles. With a crash he exploded out on the other side; out into open air and soft moonlight, and began to fall. He quickly unfurled his wings and brought himself to a hovering halt.

    A stream of arrows followed him out of the hole, arcing far into the night, and he swooped down low over the rest of the Citadel to avoid them. The nicks in his flesh and holes in his wings would heal quickly, he knew, so he ignored the stabs of pain for the moment. As he crossed low over the rest building, he half expected to be assaulted again. But something wasn't right.

    The women were in hysterics. Some rolled on the ground, other held their heads in their hands. Most just stood swaying and staring blankly like zombies. In the barracks, the ones holding weapons had actually turned on each other.

    Mortis glided past, somewhat worried about the strange events unfolding below him. No force he knew could make this many humans act in such a way. The ominous rumble beneath the Cathedral also made him uneasy.

    Some of the Rogues spotted him at last, and started firing arrows. Their aim was nothing of what it used to be; they barely paused to judge distance. Mortis quickly veered away and left the chaos behind, heading east to the lands of Anaroch. He had a feeling there was nothing more he could do.

    *

    His mission was complete, although the aftermath had been strange. He couldn't stop seeing the blank stares of the Rogues in his mind.
    Braca was going to meet him at the foot of the Gholeinian Desert at midnight tomorrow, and he promised himself he'd get some answers from the mysterious little man.

    But for now he was determined to take his time and try to unwind. He had a long flight ahead of him, and two days worth of events to think about. And he knew sleep would not come for him tonight anyway.
     
  9. Wombat-Slayer

    Wombat-Slayer IncGamers Member

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    Ah, I see you've posted it here.

    Gosh Knight, you're a reviewing best :)
     
  10. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight IncGamers Member

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    On Chapter II: it’s a fun read. I rather like your take on the link between mortality and Sanctuary; it’s definitely an original and intriguing approach that’s well worth pursuing. It also brought up an interesting particular question...and on that note, here’re some specific thoughts:

    That should be “differed fromâ€...and “laws†somehow seems a bit odd to me; it suggests the laws of physics, which has an overly scientific feel to it. I’d word this as something like “...learning the hard way that Sanctuary held perils he had never known in his life in Hell.â€

    This paragraph might be a little too dry and factual for some, though I realize that it’s difficult to get this sort of information across without such exposition. Perhaps if you did this part with Mortis as the subject of the sentences, e.g. “In his faded memories, he could remember Hell, feel its ever-warm air and see its comforting dimness...,†it might seem less removed from the action.

    That should be “Hell’s minions†and “hunger.â€

    That should be “enemy’s weapon.â€

    ...And here’s where that previously mentioned question of mine came up: does aging apply to demons in Sanctuary? If I remember correctly, the Three were loose for centuries before the Horadrim.

    I liked this description; it’s nice that this is told from Mortis’s perspective on day and night prior to his knowing what they really are.

    It might not be a bad idea to add in Mortis’s reactions upon first encountering such phenomena; while far from essential, such a detail would offer another portrayal of his character that could be quite memorable. (Sorta like the parts about hunting later in this chapter, in fact...)

    “Microorganisms†seems too far beyond the Diablo world to me. I’d change this to focus on the symptoms of consuming said creatures, which would also help by creating a more visual image for the reader.

    “Less†should be “fewer.â€

    That should be “all too important.â€

    I’d try to not end this sentence with a preposition; while I don’t think that this is as hard and fast a rule as some people like to say it is, there is a reason it’s taught as such at some schools. My suggestion would be to word this as something like “...used as cover became another tool for both the hunters and the hunted.â€

    Heh...that is a funny image. A side note: “eagles†should be “eagles’.â€

    Oh wow...that was excellent. I sure wouldn’t have picked that particular reflex as a “mortal trait,†but this does work very well. I can just see Mortis slide from one emotion to another and then nearly go nuts...

    On another note, I’d describe Stygian Hags a little instead of using their game name and drop “Balrogs†for “Mortis’s kind†or something like that; while these aren’t confusing or anything, they rely on images that aren’t really your own. Now, this is unavoidable to some degree, but it’s best if minimized, and I think these instances could be removed without too much trouble.

    I’m not sure about this, but I think that should be “domed,†since it’s describing a noun (entrance.)

    That should be “breath of wind.â€

    Erm...how could he see all the training and such if there’s a roof on the barracks?

    I find it interesting that you gave Mortis so many “human†traits...it does really make for a fun character, though it also brings up the question of how much Sanctuary could change a demon.

    Mortis’s perspective felt a little odd to me; this whole bit sounded distinctly like an archetypical hero, which isn’t something that works perfectly with his mercenary background. It’d be interesting to see, though, how he came about to hold these views, given his background.

    That should be “priest’s.â€

    That should be “nails were digging too hard†or “nail was digging too hard.â€

    Heh...he’s not exactly built for stealth and grace, now is he? Nice touch.

    That should be “maintenance†and “neither.â€

    I’d change this to “...guards indeed stood at attention below him.†I can’t really give a grammatical reason as to why; it just seems like it flows better.

    I think that should be “...so close that he could hear them breathing.â€

    That should be “toe-claws,†and “render them unconscious.â€

    I thought the conversation, on the whole, was pretty good; the dialogue sounded more or less natural to me. One thought about this particular passage: “put in a transfer†sounds a little too modern, as it suggests a bureaucracy that I don’t think the Order of the Sightless Eye would have. I’d change it to read something like “...I’m going to ask [someone] to trade watches with me.â€

    “OK†should be double capitalized, I think.

    You’re missing a quotation mark after the speech here.

    That should be “still hovering above them.â€

    There should be a semicolon, not a comma, after “now.â€

    Hrm...â€respectively†works, but did you mean “respectfully,†perhaps?

    I think that should be “was pleased to hear it well oiled,†but somehow either way sounds off to me...possibly because Mortis shouldn’t hear anything if it was well oiled. I’d word this as something like “...open, thankful that it moved silently on well-oiled hinges,...â€

    Well, there’s a lot here that I found interesting, and though there’s some edits to do, this read pretty smoothly. Thanks for posting!
     
  11. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    Alrighty i've gone through and re-edited it. Won't bother to repost, but you may see it pop up in TDL if i'm lucky.

    Care to review the final part of contract 1? (above your review of part 2, Revevants Knight). That'd be way handy :)
    otherwise i'll just post the next part of the story soon.
     
  12. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight IncGamers Member

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    On Chapter III: interesting twist you’re setting up here...I’m rather curious to see which way you’ll take it. The ending, on the whole, felt a little rushed; even though Mortis is in a hurry, what he sees sticks with him, so it might be a good idea to spend some more time on that. Anyway, some comments:

    That should be either “Inside, the Cathedral was quite beautiful by any standard†or “The interior of the Cathedral was...[insert description here].†Both work, in my opinion; it really depends on how much time you want to spend here. Extra imagery/description couldn’t hurt, but then, since this is beside the point of the piece, it might be better just to move quickly to the scene with Brent.

    That should be “were located on either side...,†and “gothic stained glass†doesn’t really draw an image for me; perhaps you might want to use a different adjective.

    If the intent of these tapestries is to honor the original Sisters, would they really look “feral�

    The way this is worded, it sounds like Mortis is at the altar, etc. I’d move both descriptive phrases to after “prey.â€

    That should be “Brent’s.â€

    The wording here sounded a little awkward to me, though I understood what you were trying to say. I’d drop the pronoun “it†for something more specific, wording this as “...certain that the chant did not bode well for the Rogues†or something like that.

    The comma after “upwards†should be a period, since “gestured upwards†doesn’t really describe the words he says, but the actions that accompany them. Also, the “it’s†there should be “its.â€

    There should be a comma after “would,†inside the quotes.

    You need “over†or some similar preposition before “the past few minutes.†Also, depending on how grammatically correct you want this to be, you could rewrite this sentence as “...seeing the being with which he’d been conversing...,†since ending phrases with a preposition is, technically, incorrect. However, this rule gets broken all the time these days, and I think that the “correct†way sounds a little stuffy sometimes. I guess it’s a stylistic call here.

    If you want to keep “pointed,†then the speech and “he pointed accusingly†should be two different sentences. This is for the same reason as “gestured,†detailed above.

    You’re missing a comma after “demon,†inside the quotes.

    Did he, now...interesting.

    That should be “lying.†It’s one of those evil irregular verbs.

    I’d try to take this out of the passive tense, considering the context. If you want, you could do a sentence where Mortis looks up and sees Brent, as sort of a transition from Mortis’s perspective of being launched across the room to Brent’s speech.

    The last bit there seemed tacked on; it took me a couple reads to catch that you weren’t referring to one of the evils Mortis was accusing Brent of doing earlier.

    Erm...“God†per se doesn’t come up ever in Diablo; it’s only Order and Chaos. “...in service of the mighty Light†might work.

    For reasons mentioned above, I think that the comma after “hands†should be a period.

    It’s unclear to whom “he†refers at first; grammatically, it’s Brent, but the context marks it as Mortis. I’d specify that you’re talking about Mortis here. Also, it might be worth another sentence or two on the effects of the light, so the reader gets a better, and more memorable, image.

    Technically, this isn’t a complete sentence, because there’s no verb; “...that left him struggling...†just modifies the subject (the burn.) For me, this felt disruptive, though I don’t know what other people might think about this fragment use.

    This should be punctuated and formatted in the following manner: Brent continued to yell in his fury, “I was a Paladin of the High Order; I swore to protect the Rogues. I will lay down my life to do so!â€

    That should be “Brent’s.â€

    Good image, though I’d word this as “...he looked like a vision from a nightmare,†as what you have sounds a bit more removed from the action, as if the narrator’s taking some time to talk directly to the reader.

    Minor nitpick: I’d clarify what you mean by “one,†such as “one burst†or whatever.

    That should be “Brent’s.â€

    That should be “...watching their opponent’s movements keenly.†Even that, though, seems a bit odd due to the singular “they,†which is technically incorrect; you could play with this some more or just call it a stylistic choice and leave it as is.

    Should that be “...from out of his robe and thrust it...â€

    Again, the “he†here is a little unclear on a first read. I’d also reword “raised again†to “rise again.â€

    That should be “Priest’s.†When indicating possession by one person, use the possessor plus an apostrophe and then an “s.†Adding just an “s†usually creates the plural form.

    “Severed throat†suggests decapitation. I’d find a way to reword this; perhaps “split†or “slashed†would suit your needs.

    That should be “Brent’s†and “man’s,†respectively. See previous comments concerning the possessive form.

    The comma after “softly†should be a period.

    That should be “Brent’s.â€

    The phrase “as they weren’t prepared for what they saw†works, but it felt a bit too factual for the situation. Personally, I’d focus on what they saw, with something like “...as their eyes met a scene from a nightmare.â€

    I’d word this as “Their horrified eyes saw only a great...â€

    That should be “shooting,†not “firingâ€; the latter didn’t come into use until after the invention of guns. Also, I don’t know if this is necessary, but I’d word “nocked their arrows†as “nocked arrows to their bows.â€

    The semicolon after “side†should be a comma, and there should be a verb, such as “flying,†after that. There should also probably be a “then†before “began.â€

    I think I mentioned this before, but how did Mortis see into the barracks from overhead, unless the roof is glass?

    See previous comment comparing “firing†and “shooting.†It’s not a major point, but still it’s worth noting.

    That’s spelled “Aranoch.â€

    Anyway, not a bad chapter overall. There’s some edits to make, and you could expand on some ideas, but the base of this part seems pretty solid. Thanks for posting!
     
  13. Darknicrofia

    Darknicrofia IncGamers Member

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    this is the best story i've ever read by far, can't you speed up the writing a bit man, I dont mean to rush you but I am eager to read the finished work of your epic tale, love it. blizzard should turn your story into a book and I'll be the 1st person to buy it :D
     
  14. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    Lol. Thxs :)
    Alright, i'll post some more.

    Contract 2 – Sultan of Lut Gholein

    -------
    Collateral
    Indirect, subsidiary, or accessory to the main thing
    -------


    “I can't do it, dammit! How many times must I tell you? I don't even think it's possible for demons to learn magik. Why must we persist?â€

    “Nonsense. You can summon and control fire from within you, can you not? That's a form of magik right there.â€

    “Yes, but we are born with that, something we can do at an age so young we barely recognise it as a skill.â€

    “Give yourself time. Even an old dog can learn new tricks if he knows the rewards are well worth it.â€

    'The Teacher' was an elderly man named Zac Robinson. Aside from being a highly respected member of a thief guild, he was also a collector of rare antiquities. It was obvious the two careers complimented each other.

    He’d stumbled across Zac hunting in the woods, and was surprised to meet the first man who hadn't fled in fright. Zac was wise, witty and extremely curious; even offering Mortis a bed and food in exchange for first-hand tales from Hell.

    As it turned out, Mortis had more than enough stories to keep the old man intrigued for more then two weeks, and by that time they had become steadfast friends. When the tales began to dwindle, the next subject in Zac's line of curiosity was the demon form itself.

    Although Mortis was highly uncomfortable with the idea of being studied, the old man claimed if he was allowed to do so, they both might gain valuable knowledge on the limitations and abilities of Mortis's body under the laws of this world.

    He finally agreed, and Zac subjected him to many vigorous tests that lasted at least another week. But by the end of it, the amount of information they had acquired was staggering.

    As Zac expected, metabolic rate was far higher then usual. Yet his body still had the remarkable ability of storing the most vital of nutrients, allowing him to survive almost twice the time of a human without food or water.

    The accelerated rate of regeneration was something Zac couldn’t explain. Any wounds Mortis received would inexplicably heal within hours or even minutes of receiving them, depending on the nature and deepness of the cut. These were unchangeable demonic traits, and did not seem to be affected by the laws of Sanctuary.

    Hearing, eye sight, and sense of smell were all heightened, as was expected. Susceptibility to disease or organ failure was very low, as his body seemed able to identify and produce its own serums for fighting off diseases. Mortis studied every inch of the old mans report, not really understanding most of these statements, but one factor produced the biggest shock for him.

    Life expectancy.

    In Hell, a demons life was eternal. If locked up and away from harm, never forced into battle or drained by one of the Lords, a demon could sit on the edge of the abyss until time turned his body to stone. And even that happening wasn't a certainty.

    In Sanctuary, Zac could give no definite age limit, but he could confirm that eventually Mortis would die like any other Mortal. His cells, though they aged and decayed far slower then any other living being Zac had seen, they did die, and so his fate was assured.

    Mortis was faced with his own mortality for the first time as a free will. That night, the old man introduced him to the wonders of alcohol.

    As more weeks came and passed, Zac began to share the wealth of knowledge and life experiences he'd acquired over the course of his well travelled life. He revealed he was skilled at many basic magiks that helped in his thieving career. When Mortis took a keen interest, the old man devised some classes for his pupil, and so it came to be that the demon called the human, 'Teacher'.

    “Look, it's a simple summoning spell. When you master it you will be able to call in or vanish any object of yours at will.â€

    “I don't understand how that works†Mortis snorted. “Where do the objects go when I 'vanish' them?â€

    “Your mind. Your memory.â€

    “My... memory?â€

    “Correct. Or at least, as close to correct as we can get. In truth, no one knows exactly where they go. But they exist for as long as you remember they're there. But if you forget...†he made a 'poof!' sound and motion with is hands, “Gone. Forever. Many objects have simply fallen off the face of Sanctuary that way.â€

    Mortis mulled over this for a long time.
    “That would indeed make thievery easy†he said thoughtfully.

    Zan suddenly became very serious, and his expression darkened.
    “No Mort, it does not.†He pulled a chair in close and sat down, leaning in as if he feared the walls had ears. “What I'm about to tell you, you must never tell anyone else. Mort, do you promise?â€

    “I promise, Teacher. May I be cast back into the depths of Hell if I break it. â€

    “Good. Now are you listening.â€

    “I'm listening.â€

    “Can you hear me Mort? Mortis, are you listening? Mortis? MORTIS!â€

    *****

    Mortis sat up with a start, almost colliding heads with the figure leaning over his bed. Braca jumped back and gulped.

    “S-sorry. I couldn't tell if you were sleeping or not. Do you know you sleep with your eyes open?â€

    Mortis rubbed his neck and grumbled something under his breath.

    “Yes. It helps to stop enemies sneaking up on me. I was just... dreaming this time.â€

    “Ah... well I hope you're rested enough to receive your new contract. It's quite an important one.†Braca rubbed his hands together and his eyes shone dimly. Mortis grunted and got up off the bed.

    “It's the middle of the night. Give me a few minutes to wake up before you start telling me about the throats I must slit.â€

    Braca nodded in agreement as he watched the demon walk over to a dresser. Mortis had called in some spare garments upon arrival at the inn; the ones he'd been wearing during the mission had been ravaged by the Rogues arrows.

    He never wore much in the way of clothing. Undergarments for modesty, animal skin coverings similar to that of the Barbarians in the north. He never wore shirts or anything that required being slipped over his head, as there were very few tailors that designed them with wings in mind. There was, however, a breastplate that could be unfastened and clasped around his chest. He hadn't worn that out on last night’s job.

    He opened a draw of the dresser and began to flick through the various pieces he did have. And suddenly realised Braca was still watching him.
    “Do you mind†he said over his shoulder.

    “Mind what?â€

    Mortis turned around quickly, strode over and grabbed the little man by the scruff of his well-pressed suit.
    “Even demons like to have privacy†he growled, and tossed Braca out the door before he had time to protest.

    *

    The small man with slicked back hair paced the hallway impatiently, wringing his hands, twitching like a mad thing. Finally the door creaked open, and Mortis filled its frame. He was preened and looked far more awake.

    “Excellent! It's about time. My employers are very eager to thank you for your work last night, you were exceptional.â€

    “It wasn't much.â€

    “Oh but it was. Brent was a powerful man, you did well to succeed as... intact... as you are now.â€

    “Yes. He was a -†suddenly the full details of the night before flooded back to him, and Mortis slammed the little man up against the wall. “What did you make me DO?â€

    “W-w-what?†Braca stammered.

    “Brent wasn't corrupted. He was as loyal to the Rogues as he would be to family. You made me kill an innocent man.†Fire was beginning to build in his eyes, and the sudden reek of ammonia hit his nostrils as Braca's bowels released.

    “He wasn't! He wasn't I swear! Please, let me explain!†The nervous twitch had progressed into a full on contortion of the face, and he was sweating profusely.

    Mortis squinted at him with his sharp golden eyes, smelling the genuine fear coming from his sweat. And his pants.
    “Fine. You have three minutes.â€

    He dropped Braca, who fell against the wall shaking uncontrollably.
    “Brent was a Paladin, in service to the Zakarum†he began to babble, the words come out at hummingbird pace.

    “He was very high ranking, and so spent a lot of time with the High Council. The very Council that now stands corrupted and blood thirsty in the Tower of Kurast. The influence of Mephisto is like a virus; it takes seed and can stay dormant for a long time, or it can attack viscously the mind or body.â€

    “The Council and the Zakaramites were consumed fast, because they were so close to the source of influence. But Brent left at the first signs of others madness, thinking he could escape it if he was in another country.â€

    Mortis crossed his arms, his eyes still narrow slits. Braca gulped and pulled a handkerchief from his sleeve to wipe the urine from his trousers as he continued.

    “My employers kept a watchful eye on him for all the years he spent in service to the Sisters, and it was only recently that we began to see symptoms surface. It starts with dreams; wild, violent dreams that makes the victims buck in their beds. In the morning they can remember nothing, so go about their daily lives with no knowledge of what’s taking root in their bodies. Their mental state slowly degenerates, until one day they snap, and Mephisto has them. They become mindless killing machines, hellbent on slaying anything in their path back to the source, to protect it.â€

    He sighed, and stared at the carpet.

    “Brent was a good man. It was hard on my employers to authorise that contract. We simply could not allow an event like that to unfold.â€

    Mortis stood quietly, his nails clicking tentively against his hardened skin. He didn't look fully convinced.

    “If that is the true story, why did you make a false one in the contract for me to go on? Why not just tell me the real reason outright?â€

    “Because you're you!†Braca replied, his voice rising. He'd stopped shaking now and had regained some of his usual confidence.

    “My employers know what you're like; they know your unusual morals when it comes to women and children. By all rights you shouldn’t care who you kill, being the demon you are.†He paused, wondering if he’d overstepped the line a bit by the look on Mortis’s face.

    "They needed you to fight to the best of your ability, and to do that they used the best weapon of persuasion; the lives of all the women in that Citadel. They knew you'd fight with all your fury to protect them. And you did Mortis, you saved them. Just not from the danger you originally thought.â€

    Mortis leaned in close, his face inches from Braca's.
    “Then tell me why they all went crazy after I killed Brent.â€

    The little man gasped and pushed away, out in the hallway as if he wanted to run.
    “You... you saw that?â€

    “I did. It wasn't pretty. And I have no idea what instigated it. Do you?†he glared accusingly.

    Braca gulped again, and then suddenly became very professional.

    “The details of events that take place after your contracts are fulfilled are not necessary for you to know. You are hired to do a task, for a set price, with the information you are given. If more is required, and I and my employers deem it beneficial, we will provide it. Other then that, we expect you to either accept or decline our offers, and probe no further into matters then you are entitled to.â€

    He brushed an imaginary piece of lint from his shoulder and looked down his nose at the demon before him.

    “Have I made myself clear?â€

    Mortis was taken aback. Nobody, certainly no man, had ever spoken to him in such a way. The fact that Braca showed no signs of fear anymore, and was indeed deadly serious, told him that perhaps discretion was the best course of action.

    “My apologies, Mr. Braca. I will ask no more questions.â€

    “It’s just Braca. I currently have no birthing name†He relaxed a little, sure now that he wasn't about to be disembowelled on the spot.

    “If it makes you feel any better; Brent in himself had become a source for the madness. The women had contracted a slight dose, and that had been purged upon his death. The effects are temporary. They should have returned to a normal state of mind not long after you left.â€

    Mortis nodded.

    “That helps.â€

    Braca reached into his suit and fumbled about, finally pulling out a neatly sealed envelope. “The details of your next assignment rest within this letter. If you accept it, we can offer you a sum equal to that of the last. Do you accept?â€

    Mortis thought for a few seconds, his mind reeling at how much money he was earning from the strange man before him. Then he nodded, and reached out a clawed hand.

    “You'll like this one†Braca said slyly, “I believe you mentioned the Sultans of Lut Gholein last time we met?†He handed Mortis the letter. “Well, now you get to meet one for yourself.â€
     
  15. RevenantsKnight

    RevenantsKnight IncGamers Member

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    Hrm...the overall plotline and such looks pretty strong still; I definitely want to know what’s up with Braca and who is “employers†actually are. There was one major bump in this chapter, though, regarding the flashback sequence with the Teacher; something about this part just didn’t seem as engaging as the rest of the story. I can’t say I know why it felt that way for sure, but my guess is that a lot of it sounded like you were just trying to get information across to the reader in the fastest and clearest way possible. While both qualities are often seen in good writing, I think you might have made it too fast and too clear, in that it reads as if you’ve distilled it down to a report about Mortis’s history. Also, I don’t know how scientific you want this all to sound, since the Diablo world is most definitely not exactly up to modern standards in terms of biology. Anyway, some comments:

    This is a good opening bit, though when I read it first, I got a bit confused towards the end of the exchange between Mortis and the Teacher because I wasn’t sure what was going on. I don’t know if it’s necessary or not, but it might help if you gave the reader a little bit more of a hint about who’s talking and what’s happening here.

    The transition between these two paragraphs felt really awkward to me, as did the fact that the conversation doesn’t seem to go anywhere for a while. You might want to ease away from the speech by describing what’s around them, what they’re trying to do, etc. and then moving to the Teacher. Also, the quotes around “The Teacher†are first doubled and then single; I’d pick one and stick with it.

    I’d see if you can’t get some of this across to the reader by describing the room around them...come to think of it, you don’t really describe their surroundings at all. That’s definitely something that could use some attention. For instance, if you mention that there’s a very old something-or-other in this corner, an enchanted item over here, etc. it should become pretty clear that he has a sizable collection of rarities.

    It’s not really clear to whom the “he†refers; I can assume that it’s Mortis from the context, but you don’t actually mention the name before this in the chapter.

    The semicolon after “curious†should be a comma. Also, since you pass over this rather quickly, it has a dry, just-the-facts sort of feel to it, which is probably part of why I found this section a bit less engaging. It seems to me that you might have been trying to get too much to the reader in too little time.

    Anyway, my suggestion for dealing with this is to slow it down a bit, adding in more details, conversations, specific short tales, or whatever. You may need to break this history up a little, and introduce some of it in later chapters, but personally I’d think that some of the stuff here doesn’t have to be brought up immediately. I could see, though, that getting this all down on paper (or a computer screen, rather) probably helped with organizing the story and all that, so I’d recommend keeping a separate, unchanged copy around for your own uses.

    This is another place where it feels a bit like you went too fast. Especially given the nature of the conclusions you later present, I was rather curious as to how the heck he came up with all this knowledge. Is he extremely scientifically advanced for the age, did he use magic, etc.? Lastly, “vigorous tests†sounds...weird to me, since the tests themselves can’t really be lively; that’s more a comment on how the Teacher might have been while conducting them.

    “Metabolic rate†is a pretty good example of the overly scientific feel I mentioned earlier. I’m not exactly sure when this sort of thing entered the scientific community, but it wasn’t when Diablo-era technologies were common. Therefore, it begs the question of how the Teacher knows all this, and it also just doesn’t sound quite in line with the setting. I’d recommend deleting the reference and trying to find a different wording for this, given these reasons; however, I don’t doubt that there’s a way to make this work.

    Both of these sentences sounded a lot like the language used in medical reports, research papers...you get the idea. These are elements that might be better demonstrated, in that you could relate a short instance where he saw/heard/smelt something very subtle. Admittedly, the second one might be hard, though. Also, the last part of the second sentence should be worded as something like “identify invading diseases and produce...†since his body doesn’t really identify what it produces.

    For me, the transition from “statements†to the last clause felt like a bit of a jump, to the point where I’d consider making this two sentences. Changing the comma after “statements†to a period and then beginning the next sentence with “One factor (or finding, perhaps?), though...†Also, “old mans†should be “old man’s,†since you’re trying to indicate possession of the report in this case. Finally, I don’t know if “biggest†is the right word in this situation, since the shock isn’t being compared to anything.

    That should be “demon’s life.â€

    I think that the first bit of this sentence is maybe a touch wordy; you could probably get away with just “Locked up and kept away from harm, a demon...â€

    Erm...again, how does Zac see these cells, let alone know the concept behind them?

    The transition between these ideas wasn’t clear for me. It seems like you were planning on putting something between them but never did. Also, “as a free will†at the end of the first sentence sounds unnecessary; I wasn’t sure what you meant by this.

    I’d delete “and life experiences,†which sounds a bit redundant to me given the rest of the sentence.

    I’d delete the comma after “human,†and I’d add something like “in these†after “keen interest,†so that it’s clear that it refers back to the magiks. Also, the period at the end should go inside the quotation marks around “Teacher.â€

    You need a comma after “works,†inside the quotes.

    That should be “his hands.â€

    I’d reformat this so it’s all on one line.

    Isn’t his name “Zac�

    There should be a comma after “no.†Also, the abbreviated form of Mortis’s name sounds a bit...odd; I can’t say why necessarily, but it doesn’t quite fit with the tone of the story in my opinion.

    There’s an extra space at the end here, before the closing quotation mark.

    The period at the end should be a question mark.

    Heh...nice touch on Braca.

    You need a comma after “well.â€

    That should be “he’d worn during...†and “...the Rogues’ arrows.â€

    That should be “a drawer.â€

    You need a question mark after “mind,†inside the quotes.

    Thick, isn’t he...

    You’re missing a comma after “privacy,†inside the quotes.

    The comma after “night†should be either a period or a semicolon, as either clause could be a complete sentence on its own.

    There should be a comma after “Oh,†and a semicolon or period after “man†instead of the comma.

    Erm...“bowels†doesn’t refer to the bladder.

    There should be a comma after “wasn’t.â€

    You need a comma after “Zakarum,†inside the quotes, and the last bit should read “the words coming out at a hummingbird pace†for grammatical reasons. Nice image, though.

    I’ve always seen “bloodthirsty†written as one word, but maybe that’s just me.

    Again, a “virus†is a concept that seems beyond this world to me; if you could somehow set this idea up without the anachronism, I think it’d go down easier. Also, while the Zakarum Church was well aware of Mephisto’s location within the tower, I’m not sure if many people, if any, knew that he had grown in power to the point where he could corrupt the entire Council. Either way, it’s a little surprising that Braca knows all this...Finally, I think you meant “viciously attack,†not “attack viscously.â€

    That should be “of the others’ madness...â€

    That should be “...that make the...â€

    I’d word this as “...nothing, and so they go about...â€

    That’s spelled “tentatively,†not “tentively.â€

    You need a comma after “did,†and a period or semicolon after “Mortis.â€

    Hrm...I’m not entirely sure what you meant here. Perhaps “...and pushed himself back out into the hallway...�

    Dang, that was a fast change.

    Personally, I’d delete the part after “further.†The last bit sounds like an unnecessary hedge to me, since, from Braca’s perspective, they’d probably tell Mortis all he’d need to know to do his job.

    There should be a period after “name,†inside the quotes.

    The semicolon after “better†should be a comma, since “If it makes you feel any better†can’t be a complete sentence on its own.

    There should be a comma after “one,†inside the quotes.

    Overall, this chapter was a decent read, though the flashback felt a bit rushed and dry to me. I am interested in the running storyline with Braca; let’s just say I’ve got some ideas and want to know if I’m right or not...:) Sorry for not getting to this earlier, and thanks for posting!
     
  16. 0xDEADCAFE

    0xDEADCAFE IncGamers Member

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    Good job with the latest chapter. I particularly liked the little details about his attire and his taste for privacy. It's still a bit difficult to accept the idea that a demon could walk around freely in Sanctuary without being hunted down and killed by the local townfolks, so as many details as you can put in about how he goes about his daily routine can only help make it more believable.

    One part I found a little unsatisfying was the end of his meeting with Braca. At first Mortis seems ready to kill Braca because of his concern that he might have acted wrongly in killing Brent. Then he totally changes, apparently due only to the fact that Braca talked down to him. That didn't quite work for me. Was Mortis suddenly afraid of Braca? Was he suddenly more trusting of him? I think that needs more explanation.

    But overall an enjoyable read. :thumbsup:
     
  17. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    Think of it as getting really really mad at your boss. You want to punch him, but suddenly he reminds you of your place and the fact that he could fire your ass on the spot.

    Your temper can fade pretty quickly. Thxs for the replies and the reviews though :) Part 2 will be up soon
     
  18. chi987

    chi987 IncGamers Member

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    you've got a very interesting character in the story :)

    I liked the beginning of contract 1 part 2, describing his first experiences on Sanctuary. It reminds me of Frankenstein.

    Shouldnt that be Zac?

    Its hard to tell whether Zac is real or an imaginary person in his dreams. That might be your intention though. If he's not a real person, Mortis is learning things on his own and that's pretty cool :p
     
  19. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    Zac is real. All will be revealed slowly, in time. Mortis's past pops up at random intervals, and sometimes confuses the reader by making them think; "wait, what the hell?" and then realise he's slipped back into a memory :) Some people don't like, others recognise it as a really cool storyline blending technique.

    That's in later chapters though. I'm currently nearing the end of Contract 3, i'm just taking my time posting here cause Revenants Knight is my god and any reviews he does is gospel. Once i've corrected what he says is worng, i pretty mcuh consider that section of writing complete.

    And thxs for the advice about the first part of Conrtact 2, R.K. It was pretty cold and factual. It went through a massive rehaul, though i won't be posting that here. Perhaps you'l lread in the dark library if i'm lucky. Right, onto Part 2.

    --------

    *****
    Desert. Mortis's least favourite landscape to traverse. The hot, moistureless air dried the membranous skin of his wings and cracked his lips. Yet despite those small discomforts, it was a place he'd returned to often in the past. He had a history here.

    As he passed under the great stone arch of the cities entrance, he was almost relieved to see it had barely changed in the past seven years.
    'Sands shift, people come and die. But this place never seems to age...' he thought.

    The mighty palace of the Sultans towered above the smaller stone buildings, its impressive tear-drop shaped roof sand blasted but still magnificent. Not far from that was the two story brothel and exotic dance club. Mortis secretly hoped the girls had changed, even if the city hadn't. The market in the middle was a hive of activity, and laughter could be heard from the nearby tavern. He focused on the bar and walked towards it, already aware of the eyes beginning to watch him.

    Out the front of the tavern, a middle aged woman watched a young boy playing in the street. Her husband watched to, an arm protective and lovingly around his wife’s shoulders; a smile on both their faces. The woman suddenly noticed Mortis, and her smile fell.

    “Gel, Gel come quickly†she called.

    The boy, drawn by the slight urgency in her voice, stopped playing and walked to his parents. She wrapped her arms around him, holding him close.
    By this time market chatter had began to fade, as more people noticed the large figure strolling down the main street. The boy had seen him now and was squirming wildly in his mother’s arms.

    Mortis stopped a few feet away, as the child finally freed himself. He ran towards the demon that was easily four times his size, hands outstretched.

    “Mortis, Mortis!†he cried.

    Mortis smiled and stooped to collect the boy.

    “Gel!†he said, easily cradling the child in the crook of his arm, “You've gotten big.â€

    “Big enough to scare you soon†Gel grinned. He clawed his hands and made scratching motions, “RARGH!â€

    “Whoa, easy Tiger.†Mortis chuckled. “Any scarier and you'll be growing fangs.â€

    Gel's parents had wandered over, the woman smiling warmly now.

    “Hello Mortis†she said. “It's been a long time. I seem to remember you visiting far more often.â€

    “Hello Atma†he replied, “Yes, I suppose seven years is a long time. To humans. But you haven't aged a day.â€

    She appreciated the comment, but they both knew it wasn't true. The grey in her hair and lines around her eyes portrayed the struggles and hardships she endured from living in this desert city.

    “Mortis.†Atma's husband extended his hand.

    “Ackmand†Mortis took his hand and shook it slowly. There was no hostility between them; only the uneasy tension you would expect from a husband whose wife was standing in front of an unpredictable killing machine. “You're looking well too.â€

    They listened in silence to Gel babble about his pet scorpion as they walked towards the tavern. And then a gruff voice spoke behind them.

    “So, the Dune Hunter returns.â€

    Mortis stopped dead in his tracks. Eyeing Atma, he nodded and handed the boy over, before slowly turning around.

    “Elzix...?†he said, somewhat surprised.

    The balding man wearing an eye patch leaned heavily on his cane and limped down the street towards him.

    “Yes, it's me. The man you left for dead among the bodies of my other bandit buddies.†He scowled as he reached Mortis's feet, glaring up unintimidated.
    “I owe you, demon.â€

    Uneasy silence. Apprehensive stares. The market was readying itself for a full fledged battle. But suddenly Elzix's face broke into a broad grin.

    “Owe you for changing my life! Ha!†he slapped Mortis on the shoulder. “Good to see you. Relax already.â€

    Mortis allowed himself to breathe. The idea of killing in front of the boy had put him on the edge, and he was slowly concentrating on stepping back. Elzix's behaviour had him thoroughly confused.

    “Changed... your life?â€

    “You bet! Turned over a new leaf. I'm an honest man now.â€

    Mortis raised an eyebrow.

    “And my taking your eye and leg did this?â€

    “Hey, if knowing a beast like you is stalking the sands isn't enough to turn a man from crime... well I probably should have just stayed there and bled to death, cause I'm sure as hell you would have finished me off second time 'round. Besides,†he continued; “with the rest of the band dead I got a hundred percent of the loot.â€

    Mortis's features hardened and Elzix quickly jumped to his own defence.

    “Oh but don't worry, I used it to buy the inn on the other side of town. I run an honest business. And as a show of goodwill, I'll even let you stay the night free.â€

    Mortis finally relaxed enough to shake the old bandit’s hand.

    “Thank you for the offer, but I won't be needing it. I'm not staying long.â€

    “Eh? You're leaving already? But you just got here!â€

    Another familiar voice, Mortis turned to see a wrinkly, toothless man wearing a fez. He had numerous bottles slotted into his belt and protruding from every pocket on his body.

    “Lysander! You're still here? Still brewing those crazy potions I take it.â€

    “Indeed I am! And I've just made a real boomer: my new home brew. If you think you’re up to it we can challenge at the bar. I guarantee it'll knock you socks off and burn like hell all the way down.â€

    “I'll be the judge of that†Mortis smiled.

    The friendly greetings and familiar faces continued to drift in, and the day ebbed on. Mortis felt the warm feeling that was rare anywhere else: acceptance. The people here welcomed him for the deeds he'd done for them in the past, and to some degree he felt they were friends. He felt personally responsible for their welfare and safety.

    So he wondered how the contract he held for the death of their leader was going to impact his relationship with the only city that saw him for who he was...
     
  20. Project_Xii

    Project_Xii IncGamers Member

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    Hey c'mon it's only a short part...
     

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