Borders Drawn in Blood

its a trap!

As I lay down to rest and look at my comrades I see men who have grown into fierce combatants. . People who put aside religous differences… a girl that is becoming a leader… a group that has put everything at risk ..even there moral standings in order to seek rightousness. Its amazing I can sleep anymore , with the evil that is hunting us. We have decided to wait this one out . To set a trap for the vial sister’s. So as I lay here prettending to sleep I think of Rosa. …hhhhhhhhhhaaaaah…roooooossssssaaaaa…
ghost! (Not now) then there’s a skirnish with the horses.. there stampeding towards us! Look out! As beast and beast run in fear from a black entity..creeping in the distance I stand…just in time ..shit (as I dodge the first stallion.) " haha ..u mi…." ( as I get over run by the second warhorse….back to where this started..eyes closdd on the ground. Ghost its time…. shortly after I return to my feet. Moun t on my horse.. and see….nothing but stomped friends…and pierre…I see Frederick ….wait.. I see two fredricks…. not two of those evil motherf…. let good sort this out as I pray for insight on which ones my friend…. poof the evil sister shows hers self and we are only left w one evil…..well one enemy…we all charge the sister and wail on her continously till she is mangled like roadkill her jaw is unhinved like a snake and …..and ..and …shes still evil “shes still evil!..SHES STILL EVIL!!!!!!…” our newly accomidatd pawn continues to wail on her .. the back stabbing sister apears from air ,these slimmy creatures of the dark aren t natural. Her evil blade seems to have a real effect on damage.. people are goi g down fast . Wheres the body of the other sister… shes gone… this is not right… nizzar thinks he sees her and victoria allows her to be seen again. Shes standing next to fredrick again.i try to smite the backstabber its hard to hit this evil doer..sometimes its like I dont even have a chance to hit. The jawbone sister goes down again but we are left w the last devil.. she stabbed me…and I feel…wea……….(as I fall and slump on my horse…..shortly after battle) " so you are telling me frenchie here runs up…everyones down except him and victoria…and he slaughters her?.." I say to victoria. " yes. He did quite well" she proudly acknowledges. .." she z not dead and not a single one of u should lay a blade on her…"we talked her up and prepared to restore her back to life before we do..victoria attempts to dominTe her mind… when she does the oddest thing yet happens… " victoria…your eyes are radiating light… and you…your evil?!…" she thinks im joking…we have to show her in the river…she contiues to link her mind w the witch… shes talking to her and says ghat thersz 4 sisters.in 4 towers… and that there coming for us and they will be here soon…. that they were sent to protect a mortal…lord Gelf. What does all this mean… and whats in store next

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Belief

We have all endured so much through the years that it is hard to believe that things could actually be getting even more difficult. Unfortunately we seem to be at a crossroads and all of these roads lead to great danger with little chance of success. I am struggling with the fact that my friends, my family really, are following me on what seems to be a suicidal mission. I have asked them many times if they are sure about coming along and they all agree and are willing to see this through. I can only hope I do not get them all killed.

What is our mission? I have thought about this long and hard and I realize that I can’t speak for everyone because they all have their own reasons for being here. So the real question is what is my mission? My mission is to end Corvo and the woman who now helps him. Of this I am perfectly clear. I wish that we could just march to Venice and take him on but that is not possible. I also know there are many others who are in league with the 2 but they are merely pawns in the game Lucifer is playing with us. When tempted with their heart’s greatest desires, it is hard to blame one for succumbing. I am not here to punish all who have wronged me. That would be a very long list and could consume me before I ever got near Corvo. No, these men will pay one day but that is not my job.

So, Corvo and the woman are the ones we must stop. There are many who will stand in our way. None of the paths I have been shown are easy and most end in death without ever reaching Venice. We have so many enemies but only each other as allies. It seems that when someone does try and help us they too end up dead for their troubles.

We have 2 of the 6 Sisters after us at this time. They are very formidable opponents and while we have struck them down several times they always manage to escape and regroup. Dominic has be grievously wounded when they attack and I am afraid that they will succeed in killing him one of these nights. They use shadow and magic to assist them while we try to counter with light and magics of our own. So far it has been a draw but sooner or later one side will lose someone. We must come up with a strategy to stop them.

On top of the Sisters there is Messini and Lord Guelph after us. We must dispatch these sister before those two can catch up with us. There is no way we can fight all of them at once. We will surely end up on the wrong side of that battle. Assuming we manage to rid ourselves of the sisters, we will then have to track down Messini and Gelph. Hopefully they are not together and we can find some tactical advantage to assist us in stopping them. I wish I could make them understand exactly who it is they are serving, but perhaps they already know. I suppose that is not my job either, but it is a shame there must be so much bloodshed.

Even if we manage to rid ourselves of all of those obstacles we still have half the countryside looking to kill us. The bounty on our heads just makes it that much more difficult to reach our goal. This last encounter with a group of mercenaries proved very difficult and my poor Dominic bore the brunt of the injuries. But I know we must continue. I believe with all my heart this is what I am meant to do with my abilities. This is what God wants of me and I am willing to sacrifice everything for him.

I pray that God grants us the skills and strength to reach Venice and destroy Corvo and his Mistress. I pray that my friends/family are spared even if I myself do not survive the battle. All that matters is Lucifer is stopped, this time at least.

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The Corvo Must Die!

Well after a short rest in Pisa, and arranging for the care of the women and child, we leave for Venice hoping to find the Corvo Cardinal there and eliminate him once and for all. I do not know how Friedrich and Ettore can leave the ones they love, if I had really rescued Jasmine I would not be traipsing across Italy looking to kill these Satan worshippers. I would be leaving the country and finding a nice safe place to live and raise my family, Like Spain maybe.
We have a short uneventful trip to Florence, I did not even get to kill some bandits. This is our third time visiting this city and I hope we can leave without being chased this time. We stay at a moderately priced Inn that caters to merchants. They are serving pork and wine with dinner but only grumble a little at my request for chicken and hot water. Shortly after we retire for the evening Friedrich starts to clutch is stomach and vomits. There is a commotion in the hallway, Artigli is dragging a sick Ettore to the room shared by Dominic and “Lila”. I leave Friedrich there as well and go to check on Gino. He says his stomach is a little upset but is fine otherwise. We head back to the “sick” room, Lila says it is poison that is making everyone feel bad. I am fine but I did not drink the wine or eat the unclean pork.
Dominic has cured Ettore but will have to wait until morning to fix Freidrich, who is now unconscious.
Poison huh, I leave to question the Inn Keeper, but at the stair between the 1st and 2nd floor is enclosed in pitch blackness, and I hear no sound from the common room. I go back to our rooms on the 3rd floor and tell the others. We agree to investigate. Gino will stay to guard Friedrich, Ettore goes out the window. The rest of us head downstairs where I will beseech Allah to banish the foul darkness. Upon reaching the 1st floor I call upon Allah and his power once again triumphs over the evil that called the darkness.
The darkness collapses in upon itself revealing a slaughter house. All the people here are dead. Cut down by sword or dagger, and many have the black hand print over a dagger wound. This is Corvo henchman work! We need to leave. Dominic, Lila and Artigli head to the stables to ready the horses. Ettore and I go upstairs to get our gear and Friedrich. Lila has granted us the ability to speak to each other over the distance.
We have just started packing when Gino screams in pain as he is cut down by a black robed woman. She vanishes into a hole in the air before I can even move. I rush to Gino’s side in hopes that he is still alive and I can stop his bleeding until Dominic or Lila gets here. Before I reach him I a stabbed in the back by the black robed wench. I call on Allah to fill her mind with fear and kill her. But her will is strong and she resists. She stabs at me again, and I strike back. But some of my attacks miss because she blinks out of the way. I hate this evil sorcery… She vanishes into the hole in the air, bleeding from several hits Ettore and I delivered. Gino is indeed alive and Lila has him healed but still unconscious, when I collapse unable to move. I think several choice curses at the wench as my friends lug the 3 of us downstairs to the horses and we leave. Lila talks us through the gate, and we camp off the road several hours from the city.
Friedrich recovers first, then Gino and myself within seconds of each other.
The next day Ettore still feels like we are being followed. That night Ettore spots someone outside our camp and it turns out to be the Svortza archer we capture outside Vincenza.
He tells us that 2 of the 6 sisters are with him and mean to bring us to Venice to face Corvo , Guelph, Messini and some woman who appears to be in charge of them all. He says the Svortza’s are involved because they were promised the rule of Milan. But what he saw at the Inn was too much for him and he is leaving, but needed to warn us away from Venice to ease his conscience. We allow him to leave and still plan on going to Venice. Lila says we must kill Corvo, I say we add Guelph Messini and this woman to the list.
The next day we track Svortza and eventually find evidence of a running battle. we find tracks of his and his archer companion, but no sign of who they were fighting. They lost as we find both of them partially skinned and hanging from a tree. We cut the bodies down and give them a Christian burial. As we can’t track the sisters, we search for a place wait for the them to find us. We pick and open clearing, but that did us no good as they attacked that night. Dropping that darkness over camp and flanking Dominic, dealing him grievous wounds over and over. Leaving him standing, but on the brink of death. I call on Allah and his power shreds the darkness once again. Ettore flanks the sister we fought at the inn, hitting her with his dagger in the back. Dominic’s Greatsword bursts into holy flame as he calls upon god to smite this evil person. His final blow cleaves into her shoulder nearly severing her arm and she drops. The final opponent steps close to her sister picking her up, we all attack and just when we thought we had her the illusion vanishes, leaving only a blood stain where the first sister went down. I HATE EVIL SORCERY!!!

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death of the dog

sweet verona. i guess this is my home. Well we techniqually commondered the estate from the Gelfs.. i mean hell this breast plate isn t even mine. All gifts from the lord. We must arrange a meeting with congrande, he has been sick and aparently is not doing well and is being cared for in the castle. So we go there to set up a meeting. when we go to the gates the gaurds inform us that he can’t be seen and we must set up a meeting with his nephew. This leaves victoria unsettled..so that night we devise a plan to sneak in the castle to speak w the big dog .With all the gaurds we couldn’ t figure out how to go in without being seen, Nizzar knows a way we can walk in daylight with no one noticing, a trick from his lands. but how do we get to the window … victoria pulls me aside and says she has a way, and to trust her… yes, trust the queen that i met as a boy named lilo, who then was lila, and now i call victoria. Sadly this crew of falsehood are the only ones i can trust. So victoria asks me to keep this secret, that it would be, in the least, difficult to explain…. Her plan is for us to transform into angel like creatures and fly invisible to the window and get in., and thats what we do… when we get up to the window we sneak in . i keep telling victoria that if comes down to it we will have to use our swords, she keeps insiting that we will not draw weapons, we will not be fighting in the castle… in fact i think shes mad i suggested it…when we find congrande he has a cretaker in the room and we quietly approach him.. victoria and i proceed to mend him with our faith.He is consiteraly better. Victoria whispers something in his ear. we leave. we didnt end up drawling our swords. the Next day there is a crowd gathering aroud the castle. Congrande is better and we go to see what is going on…. his nephew then adresses the crowd and says congrande has fallen, and the caretaker is to blame as he tosses his body over the edge of the wall he was upon, we all look at each other in actulization that there has been fawl play. we retreat to the estate to get a knock by a gaurd saying if we still wanted our meeting with his nephew… shortly after we get a knock but this time its rossa… She tells us we have to leave, that the nephew is sending troops to us and we must leave now, usually thats my line..as pack my belongings i realize, i dont own much…it will be sad to leave this familar place and we have been ran out all over italy and there was only one allyy left . and thats where we must go… we escaped the city just in time and yet again we travel..a few nights in we are at camp when some bandits decide to approach us. Evil fredrick is on shift when he starts to unload arrows on this first scoundrol. We awaken and proceed to begin a battle i don t think theses bandits are ready for.

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Our travel to Pisa

Fighting the bandits proved a simple task; a slight change of pace from the more skilled enemies we’ve been facing recently. However, I wished that sort of thing did not happen with Carine, her son Ben, and Viola along with us. I bet they were frightened. Most of the bandits split after the first few were slain but we managed to run them down. While in pursuit of a couple bandits, and to assist Freiderich, I spotted the two dead on the ground with Freiderich stopped over them. He seemed to be pulling out teeth! I was shocked at first because this was unusual coming from Freiderich. “Freiderich!” I call out; “what are you doing?!” I ask. His response was calm, “what … I’m just keeping a tally.” Weird; he has never done that before. I shrug it off and calmly reply, “well … hurry up; we need to return to camp.” I need to talk to Viktoria when we get back. That was just too weird to keep to myself, especially with his new shadow trick too. I shiver at the thought.

We return to camp while the party members are chucking bodies off the side of the cliff. “Hey, Viktoria may I speak with you a second?” I ask and she says “sure.” “What in the hell!?” Viktoria shouts aloud. We share with the rest of the party … I just thought it unlike Freiderich as does everyone else but shrug it off to a new weird quirk if you will. Urr Zog the snow valley men’s leader collected bones and wore them as armor so if Freiderich wants to suddenly adorn a necklace of teeth who am I to stop him?

The rest of the night and subsequent two-week travel to Pisa passes uneventfully.

We’re traveling in to Pisa to meet with Uguccione in the hopes of housing Carine, her son Ben, and Viola there while we continue on our journey. Our house in Verona is no longer safe. He agrees as long as we pay two silver coins for each person per day. After discussion, the party decides to pay for Carine and Ben for 10 years and Viola for two years. We reorganize our loot, sell what we don’t want, and decide what we want made or repaired while here in Pisa. I decide to get a new hooded cloak and a couple of new traveler’s outfits. I newer pair of boots would be nice too. I also find a lovely hairpin for the ever-lovely Viola. The rest of my time is spent with Viola resting and wandering the streets of Pisa.

….

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The Escape From MIlan

Ettore and Nizar quickly spring into action with Victoria quickly following behind to offer their support at helping Dominique. I on the other hand am still shocked at my appearance. ‘Do I still have my powers too?’ As I get up the shadows under me cling to my skin as if they were a light blanket. ‘Yep, looks like it. But how, if we are back here then it didn’t happen and it was a dream but I still have the powers so it must have been real. That is not possible.’ Although the rest of my friends are fighting with what appears to be the Waif, I do not follow and instead keep my distance. I am not ready to show them my ‘new’ self just yet.

They quickly dispatch him, almost slicing him in half at the finishing blow. The rest of them quickly begin searching the room while Rose’s son and I watch for enemy reinforcements. The find a secret room adjacent to this one, Ettore finding a trap on the way in, the hard way. I hear the rest of them moving about but no fighting so I keep watch a little longer as I watch the fire in the church slowly spread. I stay there until my curiosity gets the best of me and I take a peek at whats inside. I see what appears to be some sort of dungeon with three women, with a disturbing amount of similarities to Victoria, shackled to the wall, several boxes and chests and a desk. The women appear to be injured and hysterical but they appear to be healthy enough to move. ‘This guy is sick.’

As Ettore and Nizar quickly work to release the girls and open the chests Dominique holds onto his partially melted sword despite Victoria’s grumblings. Then I notice Victoria staring at me, ‘has she noticed already?’. And now Dominique is staring at me, “what do I have something on my face?” I respond knowing full well they have noticed my pale skin. Though Nizar is pale, for him, after our fight, why are they looking at me?

After we released the women and gathered all of the valuables in the room, we quickly make our escape. Just outside of the church we see Messini leading a group of his own knights and Gelf soldiers toward the church. ‘That traitor!’ We quickly give him the slip, the three women make a brake for it at the first chance they get, and end up by the inner wall. We find a good spot to climb up and I scramble up to the top, tie a rope off and throw the other end down to the others. Victoria makes her way up first, she makes surprisingly good head way at first but gets stuck about mid way up. I quickly grow anxious and begin pulling her up. All the meanwhile I am looking to my right and left, studying the soldiers on the walls to make sure they don’t spot me. I almost get Victoria up when one of them sees me, in a panic I move into the shadows along the wall and allow it to envelope me. I can see them become confused and begin moving away. At that point I quickly help the rest of them up and we begin moving people down the other side. With all of us now on the wall, the guards spot us and move to intercept. We quickly climb down, though some of us fall, the other side of the wall escaping our pursuers.

We now find ourselves in a burning city full of crazed plague victims. ‘Out of the frying pan…’ We manage to shuffle our way around the plague victims without in-sighting their rage and make it to the outer wall. The victims crowding around the gate on the other hand do attack us and we fight defending ourselves. During the skirmish Victoria yells “Hey check this out” and light springs forth from her fingers burning some of the plague victims. ‘Now if she can do that and everybody is fine with it, I don’t see them not accepting what I can do. Maybe.’ Dominique yells out and the rest of the plague victims run from him. We manage to make it out of the city to find Victoria’s army fighting each other. Not knowing which side has betrayed the other and not wanting to join the chaos, we avoid all conflict and make it to the woods. Shortly after we meet up with Uggucioni who, along with Adolometto, were the only ones who didn’t betray us, however we had no way of knowing if Adolometto was still alive. After getting caught us on events, we part ways with his army as we head back to Verona.

That night we discuss with each other what had happened to each of us when we entered the room. Each of us had a different, though similar themed, vision and each of us was tempted by the Waif, or whatever he was. They each told their story and how, in different ways, they refused his ‘help’ and were killed in their vision. I went last, which made things a whole lot worse since I was the only one who did accept the ‘help’ and was the only one who didn’t die in my dream. And it appeared that my shadow was tired of hiding for when I began to retell my tail, it began acting on its own, to the shock of the rest of my friends. After I retell what had happened, my friends are rightfully shocked at what I have done but ultimately I think they are somewhat accepting, if not worried, of what transpired with me. Now that the easy part is finished, I am extremely worried about the second part, how do I tell Carine?

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My Vision

Ettore awakens in his house and everyone around him is dead including his family. Blood is all over him and his clothes. He is 17, not the 12 year-old who saw them in this state originally.

His childhood friend, Marco aged 12, appears and hurriedly tells Ettore that they need to leave.

Ettore finds his brother fighting alongside other Venetians … He assists his brother in the fight. Marco says that he can help if Ettore lets him … Ettore’s hands erupt in flame. Scared and panicked Ettore tries to dowse his hands in the nearby canal … unsuccessful. Marco continues to whisper in Ettore’s ear, like the buzzing of a gnat, to trust him and to relax and put Ettore’s trust in him and this fighting will cease.

Ettore, out of breath, looks up at the sky thunders and crackles with lightening. Kneeling beside the canal, daggers down, and hands still enflamed he begins to pray. He opens his eyes in time to see the cardinal emerge from the weather above. Ettore closes his eyes again to pray …

This time when Ettore opens his eyes he is back standing within the doorframe to the room that Dominic was in. This time, however, Dominic is across the room fighting.

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Jasmine's Rescue

As I move into the room with the bright white light, I see Ettore and Friedrich stopped by the door. The shadow from the floor is slowly covering them. I move toward Dominic and his opponent. My protection from evil spell is now a visible sphere around me and I can see it is eroding. I move and flank the person dominic is fighting and it is the waif we lost in the camp. It appears he is once more possessed. As he catches Dominic’s sword in his bare hand. When Dominic wrenches it free there are red hot melted finger grooves in the metal. I attack the waif, but my hits only leave small chips in his stone like skin. The last of my Protection spell is unraveled and the shadow from the floor engulfs me.
I am standing at the bottom of the stairs I the Emir’s castle in Sicili. A soldier on the first landing says If I hurry I can save her. I rush up the Stairs to Jasmine’s room. As I pass the soldier I realize he had the waif’s face.
I burst into the room and six soldiers are just starting to rip Jasmine’s clothes off. I slaughter them in a round. I have all of the Skill, Knowledge and Equipment of the my older self. Jasmine throws herself into my arms, and I have not felt this alive for over 5 years. We must leave this place though. As I bring her out , killing anyone in my path, We reach the courtyard. It is full of soldiers and in the center stand the Emir and 2 of the Dervish. I will never be able to kill them all and protect Jasmine at the same time. I here the waif’s voice, “I can help, you only need to ask”. So I ask him to help, I must not fail Jasmine again.
Knowledge and Powers fill my mind, I have but to will it and my enemies will fall before me. And I WILL IT!!! My hands burst into flame, but it does me no harm, and the court yard breaks apart and the shadows reach up and pull them all toward hell. I have been on the receiving end of this power before, I like it this way much better. As Jasmine and I walk calmly across the court yard, I stop and casually behead the Emir. Now we can leave by the boat I arranged.
The Waif’s voice is back, “Why leave, You could rule here. I could give this Kingdom and more to you , you only need to ask.” I refuse, I have never wanted to rule only keep the one’s I love safe. My thoughts turn to my friends, How will they survive if I am not there to save them. I must get to Venice and save them as well, now that Jasmine is safe. We sail to the mainland and buy horses, And start the 2 month over land journey to Venice, I hear rumors of a New Pope Corvo, and preparations for a war with the east. This is not right, none of this happened. During the entire trip the Waif’s voice is saying he can help, I need but ask and he can allow me to bring Allah’s worship to this entire peninsula, all of Italy and even the Holy Roman Empire will fall before my and Allah’s might, the catholic faith will be wiped out. I only need ask and I can bring Allah’s peace to the entire continent, no more war, famine and plague. All the children can grow up happy and well fed, all I need to do is ask for his help.
It would be so easy, I think to myself, I could save all these people. But no, this is not right, my friends are Catholic and they are good people, I do not have the right to do this. I have saved Jasmine and that is enough.
We finally reach Venice and it is prepared for war, the Plague collector soldiers are everywhere, and many other troops as well. I see open fighting on the streets as neighbors settle old scores. This is chaos, I can bring them peace, I only need to ask. But no, I will not ask. I reach the docks looking the ship that brought me here, It never arrives, now what, Jasmine and I move across Venice to the house Victoria was staying at, It is empty. So I go to look for Ettore. When we reach his neighborhood it is a war zone. I see Ettore in the middle of it all, jumping from boat to boat surrounded by enemies. I hide Jasmine in an abandon building and move to help him, but I will never make it in time. The sky above him rips open and begins to rain fire. “I need only ask, as the knowledge and power slip back into my mind”, how can I let the boy I saved , that I trained and helped shape into the young man he is, die when I have the power to save him? Suddenly Ettore’s hands burst into flame. YES! he can save himself and I will not have to watch my friend die. But what is he doing?, He drops his daggers and stares at his hands in horror. I then see the Cardinal, with a beautiful woman at his side moving toward Ettore and instead of defending himself, or using his new powers, drops to his knee’s to pray. He has rejected to offer of power!!! The cardinal and the woman reach him before I can and she touches Ettore and he crumbles into ash. I rush toward them, intent on killing her, “you only need ask and I can give you the power” whispers a voice. No!, I will dismember her with my weapons. Reaching her my weapons do no damage, and shatter at her gesture. “you only need to ask, all is not lost” No!! As she reaches out to touch me, blackness engulfs me.
I awake back in the brightly lit room, Dominic is still fighting, I must help him, even though I feel bruised all over.

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You Either Die a Hero, Or See Yourself Become the Villain

I am staring my captain in the eye, a man who supposed to have died five years ago. I can’t believe it, this isn’t right and yet here he is, here I am. With the equipment from five years from now, I am the same man as five years from now, with the same scar as five years from now.
“Well, do you think you can find me the white elk?” The captain looks at me then looks beside me, I turn my head to see Patch, my best friend, who is suppose to die a few months from now. But only its not him, I know it to be him but his face, it’s wrong, it’s of the Waifer we met in Italy, the one we lost in the camp outside Milan. “Is there a problem Friedrich?”
“Um no sir, no problem. Though just out of curiosity, have you heard any grumbling from the men, any malcontent?”
“No I haven’t, there has been no word and there will be no rebellion in my camp, I wont here of it.”
“Yes, sir, sorry sir. I will find you that elk then.” I turn and walk out of the tent, Patch at my side. We leave the camp as we did five years ago, but unlike five years ago shortly out of ear shot, I tell Patch to hold up.”
“What’s going on?” he asks.
“We are not going to hunt for that elk.”
“Well I didn’t think so considering you need to go save your captain.”
“How did you know, are you one of the conspirators?”
“No, no, but you can’t save them alone, I can help you. Think about it, you will be a hero, you would climb the ranks of the army, maybe become knighted, maybe even having a nice piece of land to call your own. All you have to is ask, and I can help you accomplish this.”
“What is your angle on this, what do you get if I ask for your help?”
“I don’t have an angle, I am just interested in your decision.”
My decision? Who is this guy? Why does he wear the face of the young Waifer, and how can he want nothing in return? I am no business man but I know nothing is free. There has to be something.
“Well, what will it be?”
I look at him, then at the ground, then back at him. “My decision?” I move my hand to the Corvo mace. “This is my decision!” I swing the mace at his head and crush it in one strike. His body falls to the ground dead, it’s not the mangled Waifer’s I see, it’s Patch’s face. ‘Well that isn’t what I expected’. I move quickly back to camp, as I near it I can here fighting in the distance. I make it to the outskirts of the camp, I had behind a bush so no one can see me. The captain and his forces are doing a great job of getting their arsch handed to them. They are surrounded by an out numbering force, there is one man who appears to be in charge on horseback. I take out the spyglass and look to see if I recognize him, I might not be able to kill him now but maybe I can kill him after all of this is over. My jaw nearly hits the ground when I see his face, it’s Mastino Della Scalla, Cangrande’s nephew. ‘Well I certainly can’t kill him, Cangrande will be pissed.’
Someone falls to one knee next to me, he is breathing heavy as if he ran to join me. “Man its one hell of a fight out there, are you gonna join them?” I look over, its another soldier who just came out of the fight, but he has the Waifer’s face. “Are you just gonna stand here or are you gonna save your captain?”
“There are too many of them, I would be picked off before even getting close to them.”
“No, all you would have to do is hit the guy on horseback, kill him and the rebels will run. You will be a hero.”
“The guy is about 1000 yards away, not even I can hit him from here.”
“Here, try this.” The Waifer takes out an arrow and gives it to me. “Here, its a lucky arrow.” He then touches the tip. The tip of the arrow turns shadowy and black as I hold it. The shadow creeps up the shaft until it covers the entire thing, the tip now appears to be rotting and the shadow is dripping off of it.
I stand up, take the arrow with two hands and stare at it for a moment. ‘Do I shoot it, I would be a hero to my homeland, not a disgrace. But if I do this, and I stay in the Empire, what will happen to my friends? Would they even be able to take on the cardinal without me?’ And what would happen to Carine if I stayed here, and my son….’ My train of thought trails off at that point. I take the arrow, grasp it firmly and break it over my knee.
“What are you doing, I don’t have an unlimited amount of lucky arrows.”
“This is what it should be, I can’t help them, I won’t make it to Italy if I do.” I watch as the traitors finish off my comrades, my friends. Five years ago I would have given anything to come back here and help them, to fight and possibly die beside them. Now there is too much at stake, if this is real, who knows what would happen if the cardinal succeeded, who would be able to stop them. The traitors begin burning the countryside, my home. I watch for a moment, I look to see if there is anybody I can help, I then take my leave.
“Where are we going?”
“To the lord commander, just like before.”
“You think he will just let you go, you are a traitor and a deserter. You will be killed.”
“He let me go last time, he should do it again.”
“Yes, but that was because Patch vouched for you last time, you made sure that it won’t happen this time. I don’t think I will do as good of a job backing you up as he did.”
“We will see.”
It appears that the Waifer is following me to the castle. He is acting like any soldier would, jovial, trying to make small talk and the like. He has stopped tempting me with deals which I am grateful for. We make it to the castle, and I tell my story to the general, just like before only the Waifer is with me. He doesn’t believe me, he orders me executed. This isn’t suppose to happen, this is not what happened before! I plead with him: “I will do anything to prove my innocence, name it and I will do it”.
“Anything?”
“Anything.”
He pauses of a moment, “You will die”.
The soldiers begin to approach me to lock me in irons. “You know, you wont make it out alive without my help, there are too many of them. All you have to do is ask”.
“Fine, I need your help.”
“Then run!” We make a break for it, run past the immediate guards and make it to the stairs. Its then when he nudges me into a shadowy wall. Before I can do anything, the shadow envelops me like cool fine silk. I go into the wall and I see myself emerge from a large bolder 200 yards outside the castle. As I emerge the shadows cling to me. I quickly shake them off but the cool feeling lingers. Thats when I notice that my skin has become pale and cool to the touch. ‘Well that is concerning, hope its not permenant.’ Fortunately this time the Waifer does not follow. I quickly run from the castle as I can here the troops are mustering, no doubt there are getting ready to look for me.
I make my way south to the place where the slave caravan was ambushed. Maybe, my friends will be there and we can meet up the same as before. As a venture down, I hear of a great war brewing in the east. It also seems to have started in Venice. ‘What war, there isn’t suppose to be any war at this moment. Sure the crusades are ongoing but not like this. Me changing of events didn’t cause this, did it?’ I make it to the ambush site, and I wait. The day comes, no caravan. A wait another day, still nothing. ‘Maybe they got delayed or never left Venice. I need to go there.’ I make my way farther south, avoiding Imperial troops headed to Venice. ‘I must be headed in the right direction, everything seems to be converging on Venice.’ I make it to the Veneto and see banners of all colors there as tens of thousands of troops are camped outside of Venice. ‘Who are these people, what are they doing there? There is no way I caused this.’ I ask some villagers what is going on.
“The new Pope has called a new war against the east. He has united all of the nations of Christendom to fight in the crusade.”
“Wait, new Pope, what new Pope? What happened to the old Pope?”
“Well, after Pope Gregory died, they voted on a new Pope. They voted for the cardinal of Florence, he is now Pope Corvo.”
My heart sinks in my chest. ‘No, this isn’t possible. How did he- when did he- WHAT IS GOING ON! There is only one thing to do now, see if I can meet up anybody. I will start with Ettore, I think I remember where is old house is.’ I manage to catch a ferry to Venice proper. What awaited me was a city in complete chaos. Rival families opening fighting in the streets, corpse collectors trying to impose martial law upon the city, troops from several different nations cutting their way across the city, trying to maintain order. I slowly make my way toward Ettore’s house, avoiding as much fighting as I can. On the way, I bump into a soldier and he turns to me “Where are you headed?”. I turn to respond, he has the Waifer’s face.
“I was wondering if you would show up again.”
“What do you mean, I have always been with you. Even before all of this.”
“Sure you have,” I say with skepticism. “I am headed to Ettore’s house if you must know”.
I continue to head to Ettore’s house, the Waif follows me unfortunately. Despite the rest of the city in turmoil, this part of the city is early quite. I turn the corner to enter the campo to see bodies littered everywhere. I check them to see if I recognize anybody but fortunately come up with nothing. I make my way up the stairs to the apartment, I cautiously enter to see a room painted with gore. Dead bodies of both Ettore’s family and what appeared to be hired thugs litter the apartment. Although Ettore’s family is dead, the thugs on the other hand have been eviscerated. Some of them are almost cut in half. I check again and again do not find Ettore living or dead. Now I have nothing, no leads nowhere to go, nothing.
“We must leave here, it is dangerous to linger,” says the Waif behind me.
“For once I agree with you.”
We quickly leave the area, as we do I pull a random idea out of my head. ‘Maybe Abbot Morosini will know what to do, if anything he might be able to bless me or do whatever Dominic does to help people keep their minds strait and get me out of this dream, if this is a dream.’ I make my way to the docks, and after making a couple wrong turns I make it there to find some of the heaviest of the fighting is here. As I ponder how I am going to get around this mosh-pit, I see Ettore come out of the shadows on the far side of the fighting and jump into the fray. I am too far away to yell and get his attention and the only way to get closer is through this hoard of bodies.
“You wont make it you know,” comes a voice from behind me “without my help that is.”
“I don’t want you help!” I charge forward, taking a few out with arrows at first then, when I am closer, I lunge into the fray with the Corvo mace drawn. I am not used to close quarters combat like Dominique and Nizar are so despite my best efforts I take some hits as I slowly make my way towards Ettore. About midway through a booming warcry, which sounds like it came from the sky itself echos throughout the city. It is so loud I can feel my entire body reverberate to the sound. “What was that?”
“Danger, you can’t save him if you don’t ask for my help.” comes a voice from behind me.
I ignore it and continue to make my way toward Ettore, who appears to now be defending a unconscious person on a gondola. I almost make it to him, I now can see that his hands, in addition to holding his daggers, now have flames that dance all around them. Then I see them, a woman I have never seen before and the now new Pope accompanied by a large contingent of guards moving toward Ettore. Ettore sees them, kneels, and begins praying. ‘Now is not the time kid, get up.’ “Ettore, what are you doing? Get up, run!” No response, the woman approaches him and touches the back of his neck and he immediately falls over dead. “No!” I yell as I try in vain to move closer. Another yell comes from crowd, Nizar bursts through the mass of people and makes a flying leap toward the Pope and the woman. They put their hands up in unison and he slows, as if he is running into a raging wind. As he nears a stop, his body begins to dissolve and blow away from him until he finally disintegrates before them.
“What now, you can fight them alone.”
“New plan is the same as the old plan.” I manage to get onto an empty gondola and untie the ropes holding it in place. ‘What am I doing, I have never used a gondola before’. I attempt to make my way to the island with cathedral in the distance, in between me and it are large ships dueling each other in the canal. I look back to see if I am being followed. I see the Pope and the woman looking in my direction, they look at each other and begin talking then look at me again.
“You aren’t going to make it.” the Waifer says from the other side of the gondola. “They will kill you.”
“There is only one man who could walk on water, and it sure as hell isn’t those two.”
“Ha, who says they will be walking.”
Just then, both of their lower halves are enveloped in shadow and begin to lift them up. Once the are ten feet off of the ground, they begin to fly across the water to me.
“You must decide now, you either let me help you, or you die.”
I wait a moment, “Dieing isn’t an option”.
“That is what I like to hear.”
“Do we need to shake on it?”
“Shake? Oh no, all you have to do, is ask.”
“Fine, I need your help.”
The Waifer grabs my right arm, and it erupts in flame. “Just reach out, and you will kill them.”
I grab an arrow and noch it, I am for the woman first and let it fly. It hits its mark and she cries out in pain. The shadows seem to drip off of her and land into the water creating an oily ooze under her as she now floats toward the water. I shoot again, this time at the Pope, same thing happens to him.
“You have to do it with your hand.”
I bring the gondola to the woman, she is still writhing in pain, though now she is at the surface. I grab her with my right arm and her skin begins to crack and catch fire. As parts of her now begin to turn to dust, a somewhat humanoid shadow, leaves her body and pushes its way into mine. I try to wave the wisp away from me with my other hand but it does nothing. The shadow enters my body and as it does, knowledge enters my mind. After the woman is dead, I then move to the Pope, I stare at him for a moment, savoring the moment as this is the man who has caused me, my friends, and family so much pain. Then I grab his face and he begins to crack and disintegrate. Just like with the woman, a shadow leaves his body and enters mine, with it even more knowledge and the realization that I can now do new things. As the flames from my hand go away, I notice my skin is now alabaster white.
I take the gondola back to the island of Venice, at first the other soldiers ignore me but as I try out my new powers, some and then most begin to bow to me. I see myself become an admiral in the Venice-an navy and leading a campaign through the Byzatine Empire and then to the holy land and taking it all in the name of Venice.

I awaken to find myself laying in the middle of the Milanese Cathedral. Ettore and Nizar are next to me still unconscious. Dominic is still attacking his foe, but now his sword is partially melted and his armor has been ripped off his body. ‘I am back, but, how?’ I go to get up, as I bring myself to my feet I catch a glimpse of my arm. It is now alabaster white.
“Sheiza.”

View
The Distraction
From various viewpoints

Well we did it! We managed to successfully sneak into the inner wall of the City of Usurpers. We did have a bit of a scare as Dominic all but collapsed on the way to the inner wall. I think he was having some flashbacks of a vision and I try my best to calm him. He says he has been here before and I tell him he has been in a vision. This is the place that you saw yourself fighting hoards of the plagued people as you were retreating. The vision was frightening but I urge him and let him know we are here with him.

We manage to ditch our escorts into the town and start to explore on our own. Just before we leave the group we see a General, mounted on a horse, directing the troops as they return. He is giving them all their next orders. We discover a bit later that this is General Azzo VIII of Este his Lord Gelph. He seems formidable on his own. Hopefully we won’t need to face him and the Cardinal at the same time.

We end up at a tavern and start working the crowd for information. We find out the Cardinal seems to have gotten a promotion. He is now calling himself Pope Catalus VI and is openly using the Corvo name. We also find that he is living in the Cathedral. Well, the old cathedral, as the “Pope” has commissioned a new one that is promising to be spectacular. if your into worshiping devils and the like

We work the crowd for some time and that is all we come up with. We also determine that there is no place for us to stay the night. If we are to take on the Cardinal tomorrow we will need to rest and recover our abilities. and no I am NOT calling that vile man the Pope I “convince” a nice couple to put us up for the night in their very tiny apartment. The night is uneventful but we do find out a few things. First that the Cardinal actually holds Mass himself and second that he is giving communion in the name of the Blinding Light of the Morning Dawn. I think for a bit and come to realize that this is Lucifer the most powerful and beautiful of all the Arc Angels. We decide to attend Mass the next day.

We enter the cathedral without incident and I listen in horror as Corvo distorts and changes the Mass to serve the Blinding Light of the Morning Dawn. The masses do not know and believe he is simply speaking Our Lord’s words. Just as I am seething with anger at his perverse words Dominic suddenly gets up and walks out of the cathedral. For a moment I thought he was as disturbed as I was, but then I recognized that glazed look on his face and realized he was having another vision. crap I quickly follow and when I think the chance of being seen is minimal, I intrude on his vision once more.

It is the same woman that was in the vision at the monastery. She is telling Dominic he must wait, that he is not ready. She says there are too many. Dominic speaks to her but it is not his voice coming from him.

Dominic awakens from the trance and does not seem to remember any of the vision he just had. The others have caught up with is and I let them know what I saw. Dominic always remembers his visions and this voice that spoke was not his and it was one that I did not recognize.

We all discuss the various possibilities and eventually decide to continue on with the plan. We find a side door and enter “unseen” into the cathedral. We are halfway across when Dominic is attacked out of nowhere. He screams and has a nasty bite on his face. I shudder and realize it is the assassin. I sing to the heavens for courage for my companions. Attacks miss the invisible foe until suddenly, Nizar finds him with his blade. A lucky shot? No, it seems Nizar is able to see him. The Cardinal’s bodyguard appears and Ettore, Fredrich and Dominic go after him. Nizar continues to fight the assassin alone since he is the only one able to see him. I am not sure where Artigli has gotten too and I hope he is okay. The attacks against the bodyguard continue and the Cardinal makes his appearance. I am not sure how he is attacking but eventually he turns into those inky bird spots again and begins to draw the blood out of the fallen assassin.

Nizar finishes off the assassin and turns his attention to the Cardinal. The others had already finished off the bodyguard so it is just the Cardinal now. He casts some twisted magic on Artigli and he falls to the floor writhing in pain. He has that awful hand print on his face from where the Cardinal touched him. Everyone else begins to attack the Cardinal and he eventually turns into the inky, blood sucking darkness with the bid like form.. After several missed attacks Nizar prays to Allah and eventually the Cardinal is whole again. The assault on the Cardinal continues. Ettore lays into him with all his might landing many blows until suddenly the Cardinal explodes. The explosion cracks the vile of Fire Sand and Nizar quickly grabs the flask and tosses it in the far corner just before it explodes. The pillars and walls begin to crack and the cathedral catches fire. Artigli takes even more damage and Dominic gets a glazed look and then suddenly charges into the room behind the evil doors that were also cracked by the force of the explosion. Fredrich, Ettore, and Nizar follow. Dominic enters and I move to check on Artigli. I concentrate on Dominic’s thoughts and he is blinded by the light coming from the room. His eyes are being blinded by the intensity of it and he falls to his knees.

Suddenly he is in shadow. His eyes open and in front of him appears to be a wall of fire but is a massive winged creature wreathed in flame with a flaming great sword in one hand and a shield in the other. He stands near 12 feet tall and he is wearing exquisite silver armor covered in such minute etchings they appear as if the are lace. On his head is a 5 pointed crown with sapphires adorning each point. As he looks around him the column of light fills the room and there are black clouds swirling about the light. The creature charges it.

I check on Artigli and he is in bad shape. He is bleeding from his eyes and ears and he has boils all over. I heal him quickly to assure he doesn’t die and then I move to where I can see into the light filled room. I see Fredrich and Ettore kneeling just inside the doorway with black shadows licking around them. Nizar is there but he is farther in on the steps near where Dominic is fighting….what? Wait how is Dominic fighting? I take a moment to concentrate on his thoughts again and he thinks he is simply kneeing in the room like the others. Okay this is really strange. After a few seconds of trying to understand I decide that I am wasting time and that I need to help my friends. Standing here isn’t helping anyone. So I step into the room to try and get Ettore out.

Blackness:

I am suddenly alone in the church. Everything is quiet and peaceful. I see none of the damage from a few moments ago. more trickery I hear a voice asking me “Why did you leave me?, How could you leave me?”. It takes a moment but I realize it is the boy we left in Ghibeline’s camp. I tell him we thought we were protecting him and that I was sorry for any harm that came to him. The he says the oddest thing “My loyal servant you have done everything I’ve asked of you.” WHAT THE HELL? I ask the creature to reveal himself and I maneuver to where I can see him. The waif is there and dressed in rags. I ask him to reveal his true identity but I get nowhere. He tells me I must make a decision or I will lose everything and everyone. That all will be lost, my home, my family, and my friends. I tell him I want no part of anything he has to offer and for him to return me to my friends. He of course does not and continues to press me to take my rightful place by his side. He then begins his mind games. This is an area I am very familiar with. I have spent the better part of 5 years in and out of people’s minds. I have manipulated many who would have turned us in, killed us or who I simply needed help from. While it may not be right it is something I have a lot of experience with. The waif then shows me Morrosini and Ghibeline’s armies wiping out the Adolometto faction. He later shows me the fighting in the streets of Venice and the plague collectors trying to restore some sort of order. After every viewing he asks again for my decision and it remains the same. Return me to my friends. My faith lies with them. There strength has gotten me this far and I will not abandon them now. he always seems to laugh at everything I say as if it is a child’s whimsy and my concerns are trivial. He presses on and shows me Ettore as I have never seen him. He is absolutely eviscerating people left and right and his hands are now seemingly made of fire. Suddenly Ettore drops his daggers and kneels down to pray. The Cardinal with a beautiful woman at his side moves up to Ettore and touches him. He collapses dead and a shadow form leaves his body just as it did Lord Gelph’s in the monastery. Then Nizar comes charging out and lands a blow on the woman. They both grab Nizar by the shoulders, his blades disintegrate and a black shadow comes out from inside him and he is dead. I then see them headed toward Fredrich who has somehow managed to maneuver a gondola away from the fighting on the land and into the middle of war being waged at sea. They become shadowy from the waist down and being to fly across the water towards Fredrich. Fredrich looses an arrow and takes the woman down and then the same with the Cardinal. He then moves the gondola to where their bodies have formed an oily slick on the water and reached out to touch it. As he did 2 shadows came out and went into Fredrich!!

The waif asked again what my choice was and I again told him. I will stand by my friends. So his last trip took me to the battlefield where we were surrounded by Mastino, Messini, Ghibeline and many others. My friends formed a protective circle around me. The waif had filled my mind with access to incredible powers. These were terrible, unimaginable powers. I knew that with a mere thought I could make the army pay. I could show them what their treachery meant and I could wipe them all out with a single thought. The power was unending. As I was taking this all in the waif was in my ear telling me to show my enemies my power. Show them what I can do to them.

My mind was racing but to me the power was not an incentive. Instead it was terrifying. I was so completely terrified by it that I knew in that moment that no one should ever have power like this and if the Cardinal did possess it I would fight to my last breath to stop him. I refused the waif’s urging and stood there as my friends fell one by one until my hero, Dominic, was the last to fall beside me and then it was my turn.

I awoke next to Fredrich and Ettore and Dominic still seemed to be fighting.
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