Ascensions Gate

Dreams #4

Ramos stood at the edge of the firelight. The air was metallic, owing to the scrying defense Thiramos has designed. They were safe for now, but their adversaries were watching for them. Ramos looked around the camp. Thiramos was busy preparing some kind of ritual on the ground, drawing sigils that left a cold, blue light in the dirt. Fennia was aiding Thomas with spells of divination and Bors was praying to St. Bathazar for justice. Ramos shuddered at the memory of Nerubi’s passing.

Then he remembered why they were there. John and Weapon 27 had betrayed them in that awful cave. The party had been sent to snuff out a growing cult to the new dragon god Ezra. A brutal fight had occurred between Ramos’s men and the cultists. Victory was assured, but suddenly John spoke something to Weapon 27 and the half-ogre slashed at Ramos. He narrowly avoided being bisected by his friend’s huge blade. Ramos turned in time to see John, with a sad but detatched look on his face, draw a silver flask from his cloak. Ramos was about to turn his attention to his former friend, but Thiramos grabbed him. There had been a flash of light and Ramos was here.

They didn’t know why John and Weapon 27 had betrayed them, but Thiramos suspected that the flask John had drawn may have been a containment vessel for a demon. Had he been corrupted or was he always corrupt? Weapon 27 was always unstable, and it turned out that they knew almost nothing about John. Maybe he had been waiting all this time to kill them, maybe something had happened.

Ramos shook his head. It didn’t matter anymore anyway. After they had killed the dragon knight Blix and defeated Seth, Luthor had realized that only he and Karn remained and had evidently plotted with John. If they were to have any hope of stopping Prince Luthor, they had to kill John and Weapon 27. Thiramos surmised that John was looking for them through magical means, but he doubted that John would expect a preemptive attack. They were prepared.

“Thiramos, is this the only way?” Ramos asked.

“Lamont, you know it is,” he responded. Ramos nodded.

“Alright. Are we ready?” Ramos asked. One by one the group nodded.

“When I open the portal, it will appear on the ground. We should all jump in together at the moment it appears.” The ice mage said.

“Very well. Once we get to them, you all follow the plan. Thiramos and Fennia attack Weapon 27. Bors needs to incapacitate John, and I’ll take him out. We need to hit them before they know what’s coming.” Ramos said. The group nodded. Thiramos waved his wand to complete the ritual and a glowing white circle appeared on the ground. Ramos immediately jumped into the portal.

The portal dropped them into a stone room. Ramos was familiar with the room because they had studied it carefully through Thiramos’s mirror. Torches lit the walls and their quarry sat at a table discussing their plans. As Ramos’s eyes adjusted to the light, John was already moving toward the far side of the room. So quick, Ramos thought. Weapon 27, however, was predictably slow in reaction. He had only managed to stand with his massive sword when Thiramos attacked him. A bolt of frigid light leapt from the elf’s wand and smashed into the half-ogre. As the massive fighter took to thunderous steps, his speed slowed and he was encased in ice. Fennia wasted to time and launched a massive beam of magical energy towards Weapon 27. The ogre’s form exploded into frozen chunks of gore.

Ramos had lost track of John in the grizzly display and, as this thought dawned on him, a wire closed around his throat. Almost instantly, the air in his lungs was trapped and his vision darkened.

“I’m sorry, my friend, but the money was too good,” John’s voice rasped in his ear. His grip pulled tighter and Ramos knew that this plan was either about to work, or he was about to die. From the side, Bors uttered a strange word in an unknown language. John’s body became ridged and ceased fighting against Ramos’s struggle. Ramos brought the tip of his newly constructed rapier up to his neck and cut the wire.

As air rushed back into his lungs, he turned to face John. The spy stood, frozen in place with a distant look on his face. The murderous garrote hung useless in his hands, wet with Ramos’s blood. John’s eye’s followed him, with a look somehow displaying sadness, confusion and hatred at once. Ramos plunged his sword into his friend’s heart. With a great cough of blood the paralyzing spell was broken and John fell forward.

“I’m sorry, John,” Ramos said. The spy looked at Ramos and gave a bloody grin.

“That’s not my name,” he said. The light left his eyes.

Ramos woke up.

Dreams # 3

Ramos stood in a dimly lit room with his friends. The room was perfectly square, like being on the inside of a metal box. There were two doors, each with a different number embossed on them. The numbers were pieces of a giant puzzle box…a puzzle that they were currently trapped in. Ramos didn’t know how the puzzle worked, but trusted that Thiramos and John were leading them to the Mad King Ahaza. They had led them this far with little issue.

The other rooms had traps or mechanical monsters as guardians, and Ramos expected this room to be no different. At the center of the room, sitting on a bench, was a man, or at least what appeared to be a man. He was dressed in high fashion and had a wide brimmed hat obscuring his face. As the party walked into the room, he looked at them. Ramos saw a porcelain face, carved into a smirk, and knew at that moment that this was another clockwork monster. Weapon 27 tensed near Ramos, and the man bowed in response.
“I seek no issue with you, my large friend,” a voice from behind the mask said. The voice sounded different than a Golem’s magical voice, like sounded not unlike the sound a violin’s string made when a bow dragged across it.
“Then let us pass,” Nerubi said. The man chuckled.
“I am the greatest duelist in the world. If one of you can beat me, you shall pass,” it said. The group turned and looked at Ramos. Ramos sighed.
“I will duel you,” he said. The man sprang from the bench. There were several clicking sounds and two thin blades sprang from his hands. Ramos drew his rapier and main-gauche. The duelist stepped forward and crouched down into a low stance. Ramos’s mechanical opponent extended his blade forward, with it’s twin pointed away. Ramos stepped forward and entered a loose stance, meeting the duelist’s rapier with his own and holding the parrying dagger out from him.
“Your name, sir?” the duelist asked.
“Lamont Sinclair,” Ramos said. He was paused for a moment. That’s not my name he thought.
“Well, Sinclair. Best of luck to you. En garde!” the duelist said. He swatted away at Ramos’s blade and thrust forward with his other sword. Ramos stepped backwards and cut the angle to avoid the strike. Just like the Marquis taught me Ramos thought. But who had taught the Marquis? The duelist twisted quickly and followed up on his attack, lashing out with twin strikes. Ramos batted one of the duelist’s blades away with his own, and parried the other with the main-gouche. The two continued to fight, retreating one moment and attacking another. They appeared evenly matched to Ramos’s friends, but the duelist had two blades to Ramos’s single rapier. As he deflected the duelist’s next attack with a quick beat parry from his rapier, Ramos thought about his plan of action. He could not continue this assault, he would fall to one of the blades sooner or later, so he needed to disable one of the duelist’s swords. The plan came together in Ramos’s head. He disengaged quickly and stepped back. The duelist paused and looked at Ramos. No doubt he could sense the bait, but he pressed his attack confidently. Using a skilled compound attack, the duelist rushed Ramos with a series of well placed blows. Ramos met him with a compound riposte, deflecting the attacks while feinting and retreating. The duelist finished his assault with a dual strike at his opponent. Ramos parried the first rapier with his own, pinning the blade to the ground, and caught caught the other with his main-gouche, locking it in place. Ramos twisted his dagger quickly, expecting to hear the snap of a broken blade, but there was none. Ramos looked down and saw that the duelist’s blade protruded from his hand like a spike, making it stronger than a normal blade. The duelist chuckled.
“A skillful plan, Sinclair. It would have worked on another swordsman, but alas, it was doomed from the start. You have committed to this, now you will die,” the duelist mocked.
Ramos ground his teeth. He needed more force. As the duelist began to exert even more force to free himself, Ramos looked at the gauntlet on his arm. The duelist was forcing the parrying dagger higher into the air, hoping to slip his sword from the catch. As Ramos’s arm was turned towards the ceiling, he flexed his forearm and the metal spike launched from its housing trailing a steel chain behind it. The spike buried itself into the ceiling and Ramos pulled his hand toward him. The motion activated the re-coil system and pulled Ramos from the ground with incredible force. He cranked his wrist hard and, with the combined force of his ascent, the force snapped both Ramos’s wrist and the duelist’s sword. Ramos rushed towards the ceiling, getting his feet in front of him. He looked down at his stunned opponent, and sprang from the ceiling towards the ground. The duelist saw the attack coming and raised his remaining rapier. As Ramos fell towards the mechanical fighter, he stabbed with his parrying dagger and his rapier. The dagger caught the duelist’s sword and pinned it to his own chest. As Ramos smashed into his opponent, he drove his rapier into the duelist’s chest cavity through a small opening at his neck. Ramos bounced off the metal swordsman and collapsed on the ground. He stood up quickly and faced the machine. The duelist was shaking violently, metal plates falling from his body.
“Impressive,” he croaked as he fell into pieces.
Ramos stepped forward, blood leaking from his swelling face and his wrist throbbing horribly. He took his parrying dagger from the duelist’s metal form, but, seeing that is was now as mangled as his opponent, he discarded it. Ramos walked over to the snapped blade and examined it. With a little skill, this could be made into a sword of its own.
“Guess now you’re the greatest swordsman in the world,” John said mockingly. Ramos smiled.
“Onward,” he said.

Ramos woke up.

Dreams # 2

A large axe almost crushed Ramos, but the titanic blade of Weapon 27 knocked it aside as Ramos dodged. He had his sword drawn and his parrying dagger in his other hand, all but useless against the magitech suit. The pilot of the armor, a Torosian lieutenant, spat at Ramos and used her magically enhanced strength to swat Weapon 27’s sword away. Ramos prepared for the next assault.

Ramos vaguely remembered how the fight began. The party of survivors: Ramos, John the scout, a huge half-ogre called Weapon 27, a Concordant ice mage Corporal Thiramos and a lone monk named Nerubi, had banded together on the battlefield and were fighting their way back to the Concordant line. They had learned of a Torosian strike force set to attack regrouping Concordant soldiers. Ramos would not have that. They tracked the enemy force and attacked from ambush. Weapon 27 cut through dozens of men with his terrible sword and Thirmos froze a score of enemy soldiers with his magic. Ramos and the monk fought against the enemy, with Ramos hoping to engage their leader.

Now Ramos dodged another attack from the battlesuit pilot and realized he was outmatched. All of Raulo’s teaching, would be useless against a walking wall of magical iron. Weapon 27 smashed at the suit, but even his sword couldn’t break through. Ramos charged and thrust with his rapier hoping to hit any weak point, but there were none, and his sword bounced off the metal. The pilot laughed.

“Such tactics certainly didn’t help your commander, duelist, I doubt they will aid you any better,” she mocked.

Ramos drew a breath. This was the magitech suit that Raulo faced. He was certainly dead now. Rage boiled inside Ramos. Raulo had been a friend, turned Ramos away from a life of crime to protect the Concordant. He was a true hero and now this war hungry witch struck him down. Ramos bellowed in anger and renewed his attack and the pilot laughed cruelly. There has to be some weak point! Ramos looked behind the battle suit and saw John creeping behind her. As if reading Ramos’s thoughts, John took careful careful aim, and launched a dagger at the lower chest plate of the magical armor. The blade stuck in between the creases of the plate and popped it just slightly away from the armor. And that was enough! Ramos saw the opening and lept forward and thrust his rapier at the spot. The pilot gasped in surprise and pain as Ramos’s sword bypassed the armor and sliced her flesh. She stumbled away, bright red blood leaking from the lower plate. Weapon 27 saw the sudden weakness immediately, and rushed the wounded pilot. He began smashing his sword at the lower plate. Each blow was thunderous and the pilot could not hope to stand. She collapsed to the ground, armor ruined. Weapon 27 raised his sword above his head, ready to deliver the crushing killing blow, but Ramos raised his hand to stop. Weapon 27 paused and the pilot crawled from her ruined armor. John appeared next to Ramos.
“No survivors, Sergeant,” he said. Ramos looked at him stunned.
“We are not killing a defeated enemy if we do not have to!” He said.
Thiramos stepped next to Ramos, “Sir, we have no other option. We cannot take her prisoner, we have no way to hold her and she will try to thwart us in returning to our line.”
The pilot rolled on her back and looked at Ramos.
“You are a coward,” she said, “Come on, patriot, strike down your enemy. Luthor will do the same to you soon,” she spit at the flag tied around Ramos’s waist. Weapon 27 tensed. Ramos sighed. Everything seemed so different than before this battle. What would Raulo do here? It was dishonorable to strike at a broken foe. But she would try to hurt them, kill other soldiers. That was her job. And Toros had invaded the Concordant. Ramos stepped forward, and stabbed the pilot in the throat.
There was a heavy silence on the battlefield. Is that what a hero should do? Ramos asked himself.

That was what a hero did.

Ramos woke up

Dreams #1

An explosion deafened Ramos and he fell to the ground. The air was thick with smoke and screams of the dying. Scanning his surroundings, Ramos saw corpses of Concordant soldiers littering the ground near him. He stood up and as he walked forward, a young man grabbed his leg. “Sergeant,” he croaked as he died. Ramos looked down and saw he was wearing a scout’s uniform with the red and white Concordant flag around his waist. A magical rapier bearing his family’s crest hung at his hip and his left arm had some Skree magatech bracer. These things were alien to Ramos, but oddly familiar. Raulo, Ramos thought. He had a vague memory of watching Raulo fight against a magatech battle suit, but it wasn’t the suits he had seen in Itoni. He felt like he saw Raulo fall, but who was Raulo?

Ramos continued on, in the distance he saw Torosian soldiers crossing a ridge. In response, Ramos dropped to the ground, landing beside a corpse. While Ramos paused to think about his next move, he looked at the corpse next to him. It was a young man, but the age was hard to place. He was staring up at the sky; blank blue eyes in a frozen stare. As Ramos looked at this man, he found it remarkable how utterly plain the man’s features were. He had to keep looking to remind himself of the color of his eyes or hair, as if the memory was fading as quickly as it was made. As Ramos studied this corpse, he couldn’t find a single injury. As Ramos looked, the corpse’s hand rose suddenly and Ramos felt cold steel against his throat. The corpse blinked and spoke, "Hiding amongst the dead?”
Ramos exhaled slowly, “You as well? There are enemy soldiers heading this way. We should move lest we face them alone.”
The corpse smiled. “A good plan,” he said, “my name is John. I’m a corporal in the Scout division. Got separated.”
Ramos was sure someone in the Scout Division was named John, but he had never met anyone with that name. “I’m Sergeant Sinclair,” Ramos said. He never had a title in Itoni, but this one fit well.
“Well, Sergeant, if I may be so bold as to make a recommendation. We are overrun and if we try to regroup with Concordant forces we’ll have to fight through Luthor’s men alone. We should attempt to find other loyal forces and circle back,” John said.
“I agree. There’s other people we could help.” Ramos said.

There was another explosion.

Ramos woke up.

Letters to Home 8

Dearest Lucille,

I am sorry it has taken so long to write, I’ve been on a massive campaign! It started weeks ago when we met Maldrian, an elven noble from the southern Elf Kingdom. He explained to us that his brother Callindis was a high ranking member of the Blades of Aramatheus. Callindis had been charged with recovering a dread artifact: the Iron Heels of Lord Goreseth. I remember your family telling us dark stories of this wicked man when we were young. The Heels, as well as other pieces of Goreseth’s armor, are rumored to have great magical power—- power that may draw out the evil in a person and Prince Telleus is trying to gather the various pieces of the brutal warlord’s armor! Maldrian explained that while in the jungles, Callindis was taken with a curse of lycanthropy. Prince Telleus would never allow a werewolf in his ranks, so he had dispatched assassins to kill Callindis. Maldrian commissioned us to recover the Iron Heels of the Conqueror and slay his brother, so that his brother would avoid a torturous death. We agreed to recover the artifact so Prince Telleus would not have such an item of power.

We journeyed to the jungle fortress of Callindis and fought through his forces. Indeed, the cursed soldier had infected most of his men with the moon curse. We purged the jungle of these murderous creatures and faced Callindis. His bigotry was still intact, but his bloodlust greatly magnified and we had no choice but to fulfill Maldrian wish and slay his brother. We also uncovered information about the Iron Heels—- as well as some darker knowledge that I will explain later in this letter. We had learned that the Iron Heels were en route to the Prince, when the convoy was attacked by the Van-shinn, a group of desert pirates.

We journeyed to the Har-Azer Desert and found the sandship. Exploring the butchered remains, we found some treasure, but were unable to locate the evil artifact. We deduced that they must have been taken back to the Van-shinn’s lair and we journeyed there. Along the way we faced a silt horror, an evil squid creature that shifted through the sands like it was water! We defeated this beast and found the Van-shinn’s cave lair. The tribe lived in a series of caverns under the sand, including women and children. But there were slaves that had been pressed into service against us. Some of my companions argued that we shouldn’t try to spare slaves that fought against us because they had little hope of escape, but I argued against such an act. A little hope is better than no hope, and heroes shouldn’t make a cold decision about who lives and dies. Heroes fight against oppression, and try to save innocent people. Heroes should embody hope. I hope that I do. We fought our way to the demon the Van-shinn had been worshipping, discovering her to be an elder brown dragon! We chased the wyrm, a beast named Nafell, from her lair to the desert sands above and faced her in a terrible combat. We defeated her and I recovered the Iron Heels of the Conqueror. The Van-shinn approached us and I demanded them to back down. Out of fear of us, they did and swore allegiance to me. We took the dragon’s treasure and I demanded that they free all of their slaves, which they did. I hope you do not question me, but I left the raiders a large portion of gold. I feared that we were taking their resources, and there were women and children. A true hero shows mercy to those bested whenever able. I think that’s what Lamont would have done.

We returned victorious, but it was not without a massive price. Perhaps this is why I didn’t write you sooner, it’s been difficult to think about and I’m frightened. Callindis bit me savagely in our fight with him and he has passed his moon curse to me. It hasn’t taken hold of me fully, but I feel bloodlust boiling up inside me. I find myself angry at my friends, almost coming to blows with them. I think if the Van-shinn had resisted I would have started attacking them. We’ve done research, it is a slow disease and I am fighting it. I’ve been dreaming strangely, I do not know if it is connected to this. I need to find a werewolf lord to remove the curse. Fear not, I think I’ve found a way.

The dark knowledge that we’ve found is that the Blades of Aramatheus may be building towards a massive attack on the Concordant! Worse still, there is evidence that my kin are aiding them heavily. A great shame has befallen me again that my family is aiding these vile murderers. With that, we are journeying to the Concordant to find out what they’re up to and stop it if we can! There is also a werewolf lord located in the Concordant in the city of Vandale, a descendant of the Wulfen Brothers of legend. Perhaps he can help me.

I will be across the desert soon, but I do not know if it is a good idea to see you. I think you should stay with your cousin or somewhere else, perhaps the temple of Saint Balthasar, for I feel my brothers may target you when they realize I’m coming for them. I will continue to write to you. Please be safe.

Coming home,

Letter to home 7

Dearest Lucille,

Please forgive me for my silence; I have been unable to write until today. I hope my earlier letters this season reached you, but I doubt any letter would have been able to leave Itoni until last week. I am glad to report that I am alive and well and we have achieved victory in Itoni! We have been fighting bitterly for the past several weeks, with the occupying Morlians increasing their strangle hold on the city. The Flames of Vengeance continued to engage in numerous battles throughout Itoni, isolated skirmishes and sabotage. I will spare you the details, but I must confess to witnessing numerous atrocities on both sides. The Morlians were wicked, and it brought out the worst in everyone. I believe I have held true to my own convictions, but war is truly terrible.

We were captured in the middle of our resistance, and were to be executed! I was terrified that I would never get to write to you and almost gave into despair. But we were able to escape with none of our party meeting our end that day. It grieves me to say, however, that this was not true for the remainder of the battle. Ghaul Thu and Arius fell in the sewers of Itoni. We also lost our new minotaur companion. None of them would respond to our ritual to call them back from the realms of their gods. True death of heroes is a sad thing indeed.

We pressed on and were able to gather the forces of The Gears of War, lead by the legendary Seraphim. It was quite an experience to meet another one of the so called Chosen of the Gods. He was a frightening individual, but at least he was on our side. We paid for their services with a magitech Colossus we had recovered. I was reluctant to unleash such a terrible weapon on anyone, but it was the only way. Our final battle, we did our best to evacuate the city before the Gears attacks, but alas we were only able to spare a few hundred of the final assault. It was truly horrible, there’s a reason those machines were all destroyed! Worse still, devils had taken up residence in Itoni, profiting from the misery of war. We did our best to stop their wicked deals, but we were trapped by a cunning succubus and Haplo gave up his soul to save us. A heroic sacrifice, and a terrible one. There is hope however, we may be able to save his soul one day.

Finally, the Morlian forces were in rout and we faced Lord Commander Madregal Thax. This man had been the source of misery to the Scarlands with his campaign against Toros. He had given an order of no retreat and ordered his men to kill any Itonian they saw. Thax mocked our attempts to stop him and swore that he would bury us in the burning city! The fight against this man was terrible, he used advanced magitech weapons and abilities on us, frequently taking to the sky and shooting us. But he could not stand against us, and we defeated him. His crimes had been too great and no quarter was given. I have thought that Lamont Sinclair would have offered Thax a chance; I hope that I am still on my path. Thax would have spit that back in our face anyway.

With Thax defeated, the Morlians continued their retreat and escaped the city. They will not be returning. I regret that the city is all but destroyed and there are many dead. The Flames of Vengeance are currently aiding the city in rebuilding and tending to the injured. We have a great deal of work to do. If the city was in a better place I would send for you, but it is still a grim and dangerous place. I will continue to write to you as we rebuild. You can be a hero in peacetime as well as war.

I hope the West is treating you well. Please write to me as soon as you can.

Looking Home,


Rooks Books 203
Happy New Year

The city hasn’t been the same. Ever since the reclamation of Itoni the city is becoming more steeped in death… After all those deaths the veil between worlds has become thinner. Genocide is just the thing to do that, and there was no shortage of death on either side. A way was torn, but it hasn’t stopped. I’ve felt it, at night when I hunt, the hunger of the Shadowfell is pulsing into this world. Right now the tide has receded, I know it will return. The tide will come in and I don’t know what is going to wash up on shore. All I can do is prepare, prepare and make sure I do a better job of saving this city. Been keeping the lowlifes out of it as much as possible so those that do live here can thrive. Sometimes I feel like it’s the best I can do

Last time I’d come too close to death, I’d been gotten caught off guard. I can’t stand the feeling of those whispers. I can’t tell if it’s just my imagination or not anymore. I’d been close to the edge too often for my taste. Now I’ve got this arm as a reminder. It’s mine, but it’s just not mine. I can feel it, it’s a part of me, but it’s just not mine. So I’ve become an instrument, this life isn’t mine anymore. It belongs to those who’ve stood by me and to those that can’t stand on their own. I want to carve out the rot on this city so it can live. A lot of people don’t think things can be the way the used to be, I think it can. I’ve just gotta make it happen.

I’ve got to make it happen before I end up like Haplo. He’s my other reminder. He’s sold his soul, only not to the Shadowfell. I can’t help but think it’s gonna be worse for him. I almost did it. Let the bigger dog take the bone, see if I get split down the middle. Don’t know how many more times I can be split, I’m pretty broken as it is.

Letter to Royalty

To my Commander and Sovereign

My Lord, I pray this letter finds you well. I am writing to tell you the status of the free city of Itony. By now I’m sure you have heard that nothing went as the Morlians expected. They could have never guessed that those foul scum known as “the Flames of Vengeance” would hire out the Gears of War and assault the city with a magitech colossus. The Storm Raven were routed but the late lieutenant commander Madrigal Thax did destroy much of the city on his way out. So now here we stand two months later. Repairs are being made in the city and people are returning. With the Flames being the cities heroes there has been an influx of despicable half-bloods. It repulses me to even be in this city anymore and I only tolerate it because you need me here. I will keep an eye on things in the city so as to keep you aware of potential threats to your glorious plans. I will keep the unclean nature of this city from me with the knowledge that you already have the crown and the boots are on their way here. I await your majestic rise to power and to the return of your fathers righteous path of our people.

Your faithful servant

Fevered Dreams

The World is a white fire. My hand wouldn’t come up to block my eyes. The Blackness finally settles in as a muted world begins to fall away, I managed to grab bits of the world with my left hand. Breathing is hard, its seconds taking longer, but holding my grip helps.

A sense of a familiar taste, it is acidic and bitter sweet; I’m salivating. Someone in this World is dying, the death is elegant and potent. There are hands? Many or none, I’m not sure. They are trying to mute out an already dull world and I’m straining to listen to the words. There is a gold creature, it seems surprised, it’s still gold in a grey world. Then the rasping started loud and drowning, trying to wrest my grip.


The voices are familiar, they’re not comforting. Ice runs through my veins. They want to eat me, I know they want to eat me. I’m screaming and nothing’s coming out so I try to run but all I can do is hold my grip, nothing else is responding. There’s a face next to my head it’s been there the whole time. It’s trying to cajole me, Ice, trying to be friendly. I can just let go, then I can run and get this thing out of my face. I’ll drown, I’m still holding my breath. If I let go I can run.


I know what it’s doing it’s trying to make me let go. I can’t , I can never lessen my grip, never never never.

I can’t die. I can’t, I can’t die. I know where they want to take me. I know I know I know. The feline malevolence drifts from my ear to my shoulder caresses my neck with venomous ice. Pain. Finally Pain. It exists in this halfway place. It surges through my spine and I yell, but there’s no sound.

Surge of green. An ocean of it flashing around, its loudness subdued by my inattentive ears. Endless, unforgiving green. I only pay attention to the creature on my chest, it’s curled up, rumbling. Friendly, hungry eyes remain fixed on me, curiously attentive and patient. It is waiting for me to give in. I am the boat it is riding out on such a fibrous sea. Poison emanates from the vibrating vapors pouring off that horrid little creature, it’s demeanor unchanging. I’m aware of those hands again, clawing at my backside. I think they are hands. I think my eyes are bleeding. I haven’t let go, my left arm is entirely a cramp, rigid and solid. I don’t know if I could let go if I wanted to. I don’t. I know where they’re taking me. I can’t die. I can’t.

I can’t die.

They want me too badly.

The gold thing is there again, in my field of vision. There are many things in my vision now. I don’t understand. What did they do with the sea? It was dustier now than it was before, and more solid now. The light here burns my bleeding eyes, my throat raw even though I’m still not sure I was screaming. Are my eyes bleeding? They’re very hot. I can still smell that bittersweet aroma. I want to eat my own death, it hangs like a musk in the air. The gold thing is talking. It’s angry though. Does it know I am here?

Bleak. Dull. Grey.

I’ll stab that little bastard. I’ll keep those fucking eyes off of me. I can just get a better grip pull myself back. I can keep fighting. I can keep.

I can keep fighting

“No, no, it’s ok, you don’t need to.”

Ramos is there. Is he in the Ocean World? No, the ocean isn’t dusty here. There is no ocean anymore. It’s smaller, contained. A room. Very small, no there’s curtains. A cloth room. Heh.

“I’ll fight, I’m still good.” My tongue is funny. I can still taste my death. I wipe off my tongue.

They’re saying things but it’s still dull. I can move my arms now. I can feel my chest, there’s no cat there now. I can feel my ribs. My ribs…


I can feel my metal ribs with my metal hand and I can feel that they’re both metal. How can I feel that? Dull aches are everywhere, I might be able to stand if I try. I don’t think I should yet though. Reesa is thinking about other things, I think she’s been watching me. Why can I feel my muscles in my metal arm? How did that get there? I think there was an explosion. I think I was in that explosion. Is this a hospital? How did we get to a hospital?

“What do you want to do with her?”

“What?” I feel thick.

“You didn’t want to…” Ramos was looking at me, concerned.

It settles in, “No! No. I was just going to let her go.” Don’t want the shadowfell to be mad at me, I’ll take one less person being mad at me.

Ramos looks relieved. She said something ominous I’m sure. I don’t care at this point. I want to know what happened to my arm. I think I should just be glad I’m still alive.

I just… can’t die…


Ramos stared at the cold stone floor of the cell. His chest hurt terribly; the blood-strained bandage tightly plugging the wound left after Thax’s shot. The weight of defeat, however, was much more painful to bare. Their plan, to destroy the Morlian fleet, had failed. Who’s fault was it? An easy answer was no one. There was no way to know that Thax would take the fight to them so quickly and violently. In such a situation, they had been completely at his mercy. Ramos clenched his teeth. Things would have been very different if I had been on the ground. It was also easy to blame Xaing Hu. Ramos had clearly stated that if the ship was to fall it needed to be directed towards the sea, a directive that the druid had ignored. The party was quick to blame him, but Ramos reflected that a druid was likely a poor candidate for pilot, particularly Xaing Hu due to his well known impulsiveness. The plan had mostly been Ramos’s idea, at least the elements of flying the airship. Ramos could have piloted the machine, in fact he may have been the best choice. But he let Xaing Hu take the reigns, perhaps out of battle lust to fire cannons on the Morlians that had hurt so many. This error in judgement led them to situation they were now in. They had been told that they would be executed within five days if the remainder of the Flames of Vengeance did not surrender. In Ramos’s mind, that meant they had plenty of time to escape.

And then they took Reesa.

It was sudden, days earlier than expected. He had never felt so powerless. Reesa, defiant to the end, had grabbed Ramos and told him that he had to promise to take care of her charges. As they pulled her away he promised he would protect them. He was glad they dragged her away quickly, otherwise she would have seen the grim look the crossed his face. With her gone, they were unlikely to escape. He wouldn’t be able to keep that promise.

Ramos shook his head violently. No! he thought. There was always a way for good to win. The story shouldn’t end like this. And if Ramos had anything to say about it, it wouldn’t end like this for the rest of them. Ramos sighed. I hope I can fulfill my vow


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