Adventurer of Underfoot
Joined: 20 Dec 2002
|Posted: Fri May 30, 2003 10:26 PM Post subject: Arogati's Test
|This story takes place shortly before the discovery of the continent Velious
A cold wind howled through the trees of the Nektulos forest. In the distance, the howling of wolves mixed with the unearthly hum of the Lesser Spires to the north, creating an almost melodious sound. Arogati smiled silently to himself, knowing that all things in this forest feared him. All things with mediocre intelligence, anyway.
As if to emphasize his thought, a skeleton in the distance noticed Arogati’s presence, and began lumbering toward him. Arogati smirked, and began his casting. The skeleton reached him, tried to swing an ancient, decrepit sword at him, and Arogati was gone. The skeleton paused to look around, obviously confused. It turned around, and the beady red lights that were its eyes locked onto Arogati.
A wretched smile crossed the Dark Elf’s face, his sharpened teeth glimmering in the moonlight, his robes fluttering at his ankles. “Oh, you want to play, do you?” he mocked the skeleton.
A scythe fell down from above the skeleton, smashing it in two. Shards of bone flew, chunks fell and scattered themselves across the ground. The skeleton’s sword fell to the ground, became lost under the tall grass. Out of the shadows, a massive Spectre came to the side of Arogati. It floated silently, holding it’s scythe, it’s expressionless skeletal face looking blankly into the distance.
Arogati stood there, waiting. Waiting for a sign from Innoruuk, for the voice of Innoruuk. Waiting for confirmation that he was not going mad. For confirmation that he had not snuck away like a coward after his wife was asleep, for nothing. What would she think if she awoke and he was gone? She would believe he had a mistress and would likely kill him, that’s what would happen.
She was much older than he. By how much he was not sure, though he guessed it to be by at least a hundred years. Arogati himself was two hundred and thirteen; certainly no youth. His wife was never one to divulge her age, however. He supposed that since with age came wisdom - and with wisdom power – she never wanted anyone to know just how much power to expect. She trusted no one, not even her husband.
Wise woman indeed.
Pushing thoughts of his wife and what she would do to him aside, he remembered the vision that had come to him that evening. His wife and daughter had been away meditating with the other Clerics in the Temple. Alone in his house, he was studying ancient tomes rumored to have been written by Miragul himself.
Then the voice came out of nowhere. A dark, hateful voiced that resonated throughout the room and into his very soul.
“Arogati,” it beckoned.
Arogati looked around cautiously.
“Arogati, I am your God,” the voice called.
“Innoruuk? Dark Lord Innoruuk, do you truly speak to me?” He fell to his knees, lowered his head.
“Come to me, Arogati. Come to me, here.”
The smell and sounds of the forest came alive around him. The hum of the Lesser Spires, the chirping of the crickets, the howling of the wolves and the clicking of bones as living skeletons walked past him, oblivious to his presence. As Arogati looked up he saw the familiar sight of the Nektulos Forest sprawled around him. No longer was he in his home, no longer did he hold the scripts rumored to have been inked by Miragul.
“When the new day begins, come to this place.”
“Lord Innoruuk, what will you have me do when I get there?” Arogati’s voiced cracked, and a single drop of sweat fell down his cheek.
Ignoring his question, Innoruuk only said, “Speak of this to no one.”
And the forest vanished, swirled away like a fog in the wind. Arogati found himself kneeled on the floor of his home once again. The writings of Miragul clenched in his fist. The ancient scrolls cracked, threatened to crumble under the strength of his hand. He carefully opened his fist, and set the scroll on the nearby desk before bringing himself to his feet.
He could not get that voice out of his head. Never before had he heard a voice like it, and it could only be the voice of a God. That voice, that dark, chilling voice.
Arogati jumped just a bit, looked around the forest. He saw nothing unusual. Was Innoruuk here?
“Arogati, come to me.”
“Where are you, my Lord?”
“Come to me.”
And Arogati saw the forest melt away. He watched as his Spectre pet seemed to lose form and collapse into a pile of black rags and bones. It was dying, and Arogati could do nothing to stop it. The forest dissolved until there was nothing. Blackness surrounded Arogati, and then structure slowly – ever so slowly – began to take form.
A sprawling black marble floor. Towering stone building that looked like evil chapels faded into view, into existence. Arogati looked up to see an impossibly high ceiling sprawl forever in all directions.
The reality took form, and Arogati knew he was in the Plane of Hate, the home of his Lord Innoruuk. All around him he saw ghouls, specters, bone drakes, banshees, and other intimidating, powerful creatures. They circled Arogati, chanted at him in unknown tongues, their footsteps a chorus of clicks and taps and soft thuds.
Arogati prepared for an attack. He knew he would not survive if their intent was his destruction, but he refused to go down alone. He would take at least one of these beasts with him.
“Ah, Arogati.” The voice came from within the room, Arogati could tell this much. His eyes darted around, seeing nothing that he had not already seen.
“Was it your intent to lure me here, Lord? Is it my destruction you desire?”
The circling mass of creatures cackled at him, taunted him, but maintained their distance. Even over their cries and laughter, Innoruuk’s voice could be heard.
“I have a task for you, Arogati. Quite the difficult quest. But I see from the look on your face that this may be more than you can handle. Perhaps you would prefer to stay here and play with us, hmmm?”
“Do not mock me, Innoruuk. What is this task you have in mind?” Arogati’s patience was running thin. If Innoruuk was to destroy him, so be it. But whatever he was to do, get it underway.
“You will journey to the Human city of Freeport. There, you will find the newborn child of a Paladin. Arogati, you will bring this child to me. You will slit its throat, and we will drink of its blood, you and I.”
A chorus of gleeful cackles erupted from the creatures which encircled Arogati.
Arogati called out, confused, “Is this all you ask of me? I would do such a thing with a smile on my face, Lord. It would be my pleasure to defile the infant child of the Knights of Truth.”
As the Plane began to fade, seeming to melt as the forest had mere moments before, Innoruuk spoke. “Then why, my child, have you not done so of your own free will?”
Arogati found himself back in Nektulos, his God’s words haunting his heart, a frown on his lips.
“Leave at once, Arogati.”
Arogati lowered his head and sighed heavily as he began to walk toward the Commonlands, and beyond them to Freeport.