Jaukoehai and Slythe

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Jaukoehai and Slythe

Post by Jaukoehai » 09/10/16

CHAPTER ONE:

Jaukoehai stood at the center of the pit, the torches reflecting off his armour. In the stands high above, at least 100 Orcs were jeering at him. But none of them matter. Only the Orc sitting on the throne smiling at him is of any interest.

"Emperor Fyst, I take it? Is that your birth name, or did you actually want something really cliche?"

"Your ranger friends helped you get much further than you should have, Ironskin." The Emperor said with a growl. "I am going to make you pay for killing my two sons!"

"You know what, that was wrong of me. Why don't you come down here so I can apologize properly?"

"Not today, Ironskin. I will watch as my champion crushes the life from you, once and for all!"

The gates on the other end of the pit opened, and a rather large Orc in massive armour came lumbering out.

"I'm impressed, Fyst!" Jaukoehai yelled as he got into combat stance. "You finally managed to find something as ugly as you! Well, almost."

"I will enjoy watching you die!"

The champion rushed at him, raising his enormous cleaver. Jaukoehai remained stoic, of course, and didn't move a muscle as the brute charged at him. Cleaver struck tower shield, and the impact shook the dust off of most of the fortress. And yet, Jaukoehai hadn't moved an inch. He responded by bringing his hammer around the side, connecting with the champion's chest and sending him sprawling into the dirt.

Jaukoehai turned back to the Emperor. "Did you get the message yet? I'd hate to have to hammer my point home."

Unfortunately, the champion wasn't yet down, tackling Jaukoehai from behind. With the warrior pinned, he raised his cleaver, only to be staggered by a smack to the face from Jaukoehai's shield. The knight leapt up and delivered another blow with his hammer, then another. The third shattered the champion's arm, and the fourth, his head.

In an instant, the Orc crowd went silent. The Emperor hurled one of his guards down at Jaukoehai and fled, the rest of the crowd close behind. He ran to the top of the fortress, where his only surviving officer waited. Fortunately, said officer happened to be the head of arcane studies.

"Your highness, the rangers have blocked off our routes of escape. We will have to hole ourselves up in the fortress."

"That isn't an option! Ironskin is here!"

"I may have a solution..."

A few minutes later, Jaukoehai smashed through the door (and the Orcs bracing it) leading to the roof, where Fyst sat upon his balcony throne waiting for him.

"It's finally time for you to pay for what you have done to this island!"

"If you want to make me pay so badly, come and do it!"

As Jaukoehai charged, however, the sorcerer stepped out from hiding and cast his spell. A portal opened up before Jaukoehai, and with his momentum he couldn't stop in time. He fell through the portal, which promptly closed behind him.

He got up and looked around. He had seen this jungle once before, but he had expected to return in many years time. This jungle is the territory of one of the four states that forms the Sathirian Empire, largest and strongest empire in existence. The jungle itself is home to their capital.

The Iksar (Make a Human bigger and give it the scales, tail, and head of a snake or similar serpent) were really not that bad individually. In fact, Jaukoehai had made many friends amongst the Sathirian Empire. But the empire itself was truly evil, and Emperor Venril Sathir is likely the most powerful being alive.

Jaukoehai began looking around for a sign pointing to the city of Jinisk, the people there don't mind him. But what he found instead was an Iksar in red leather armour, with a red cloth mask and hood. Correction, multiple Iksar. They stared with cold serpentine eyes at Jaukoehai, and as one they drew some wicked looking serrated blades.

The first one leapt at him. He slammed it in midair with his shield, sent it straight into a tree, then drive his hammer into its stomach. Amazingly, however, it wasn't dead. Deciding that direct assault was ineffective, the other Iksar pulled out bottles of strange green liquid. One of them threw it at Jaukoehai's feet, and it released a cloud of greenish yellow gas. The knight coughed and staggered a bit, and his vision began to blur slightly, but it wasn't enough. He had spent plenty of time building up immunities to poisons. And so he blasted his way into the next Iksar. Yet still it survived blows that would have killed most things. Then more of them showed up, with more of those bottles. Jaukoehai was quickly overwhelmed by the gasses. Before he blacked out, however, he heard the sounds of combat...

When he next opened his eyes, he was in a tent. His stuff was still with him, all of it. There was an Iksar watching him. This one was dressed similarly to the ones that attacked Jaukoehai, but his getup was black instead of red. "What were you thinking?" He said in the raspy voice common amongst his people. "What kind of an idiot chargesss openly into territory protected by Sssathir'sss Oathsssworn?"

"The kind that was teleported in." Jaukoehai said. "Who are you? Why did you save me?"

"Our bosss will exxxplain that to you. She awaitsss you outside."

She? An Iksar willingly taking orders from a female? Such a thing is unheard of! Quite curious by now, Jaukoehai left the tent. He found himself in an isolated encampment, atop a hill surrounded by tall rocks. There were no fires going, and a thick mist covered the place. There were approximately thirty Iksar, all looking like the one in the tent. Except one, who waited for him in the center of the camp.

Her clothing was certainly unusual for an Iksar. She wore a one-piece skin tight black leather outfit, covering from the neck to the toes. The black leather was stark contrast to the bright acid green of her scales. However, perhaps the most odd thing about her was her appearance. Iksar have never been considered the most attractive species around. Jaukoehai, despite being a really terrible judge of who is attractive and who isn't, could tell that this Iksar was an exception to that rule.

"Ah. Awake at lassst." She said. There's another unusual thing about this Iksar: her voice doesn't share the traditional Iksar raspy voice, one could almost describe it as smoky. "I've been waiting for daysss, Jaukoehai. I thought you wouldn't wake up. I've never ssseen anybody take that many hitsss of antilosssk pollen and sssurvive."

"I'm a very unique individual."

"Indeed."

"Why did you save me?"

"I did not. One of the Iksssar who fought off the Oathsssworn recognized you. He sssaid he owesss you a favour, and he brought you here. I wasssn't happy with the exxxtra baggage at firssst, but now I think you may be ussseful to usss."

"First I need to know: who are you, and who exactly is 'us'? Are you rebels or something?"

"In a way. Truth be told, we are plunderersss. It'sss merely convenienccce that the being we're plundering from is Venril Sssathir. And who am I? My name isss Slythe."

"And what exactly are you plundering?"

"Tell me sssomething. Have you ever heard talesss of the Cccity of Missstsss?"

"A few very vague rumours. Why?"

"Allow me to fill you in. Long ago, when Sssathir wasss jussst recently made Emperor, Lord Riliss plotted to overthrow him. Sssathir found out about this, and he stole Riliss'sss prized Phylactery for ussse asss insuranccce. With that Phylactery in hisss handsss, Venril isss confident that Rilisss wouldn't dare fight against him. Sssathir is paranoid, however, and feared that sssomeone may find a way to sssteal back the phylactery. Ssso he masssacred an entire Iksssar cccity, brought the inhabitantsss back asss powerfully magical ghosstsss to ssserve asss guardiansss, and cassst a ssspell over the cccity that causes it to be shrouded in eternal misstsss. Only hisss Oathsssworn are allowed anywhere near it. Many other itemsss of incredible value are there, and we intend to sssteal them all."

"And you want me to kill the ghosts?"

"No, they can't be killed."

"So you want me to deal with these Oathsworn? Now that I'm ready they'll stand no chance."

"No."

"Then what do you want me to kill?"

"Nothing. I will need you to do the grunt work."

"The... what?"

"Carrying thingsss mosstly. You'll probably do sssome cleaning. Maybe, if you're lucky, you'll get to do the cooking."

"Ok, look here, I don't... oh wait, you're screwing with me, aren't you?"

She smiled the smile of a born hunter. "Naturally. I've heard of you, Jaukoehai Ironssskin. Your ssskillsss would be wasssted on grunt labor. I want you to help rob from Venril Sssathir, and maybe ssstart a bit of a cccivil war."

Beneath his helmet, it was Jaukoehai's turn to deliver the hunter's smile. "All in a day's work."

"Exccellent. But it isss nearly night, and dinner isss nearly ready. Go out, sssocialize with the othersss. If you need me, I'll be in my tent."

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Re: Jaukoehai and Slythe

Post by Jaukoehai » 09/10/16

CHAPTER TWO:

"You'll need to eat sssomething." One of the Iksar said.

"That would require removing my helmet. I've gone without food for longer than this on many occasions."

"Why don't you jussst remove your helmet and eat?"

"Because I don't remove my helmet."

By this time, most of the camp was watching him. "Why not?"

"Because I don't. My appearance is quite private."

"Well, if you're not going to eat, you may asss well work. The cccity isss that way. Go on."

"And do what?"

"Avoid ghossstsss and sssteal anything valuable. Actually, sssteal anything that isssn't nailed down. And everything that isss nailed down. And the nailsss."

"Wow. I've been told to steal stuff before, but this is something else. Alright, I'll do it."

"Pleassse tell me you have sssomething to kill thossse ssspiritsss."

"No, nothing to kill them. But they won't touch me if I'm holding this." He holds up his fabled shield, what had once been the Qeynos Claymore. "I'm willing to bet that Venril Sathir never planned a contingency for this."

"What, the shield?"

"No, me."

As Jaukoehai walked in the direction the Iksar had indicated, he spotted a pair of rocks. Directly between those rocks was a pathway, leading to a small bridge over the river and into the city (or at least what he guessed was the city. The area was so misty he could only see about six feet in any direction). As he passed between the two rocks however, a serpentine tail wrapped around his armoured neck and yanked him back. The woman, Slythe, was suddenly leaning against one of the rocks.

"You weren't there a second ago!"

"What an assstute obssservation."

"My helmet helps me see invisible people. How did you do that?"

"I wasssn't invisssible. What do you think you're doing, going out to the cccity?"

"One of your people told me to go steal... everything, really."

"Not yet. I wouldn't wassste my knight in shining armour on such a menial tasssk. No, I have sssomething much more sssuited to your unique ssskillssset."

"What is it?"

"Follow me, knight."

"I have a name, you know." Jaukoehai said as she walked off. He followed her anyway.

A short while later...

"So let me get this straight. You can't waste my talent on stealing things from a heavily guarded city, so instead you relegate me to fixing old relics?"

"Not jussst any old relicsss. Thessse are sssome of the firssst sssteam-powered clockwork machinesss. I've heard ssstoriesss that you are a bit of a clockwork exxxpert. You're the only one here who can fixxx thessse."

"For what purpose?"

She laughed. "Jaukoehai, that isss for me to know and you to guesss at."

As she walked toward the tent exit, however, Jaukoehai saw something. He reached out and grabbed her arm, looking at her left hand.

"What are you doing?" She asked, trying to pull away. But he is the hero of Qeynos for a reason.

"That scar on your palm. I've seen such a scar before. Only once. When a necromancer tried to steal my shield from me."

She said nothing, so Jaukoehai released her and asked "How much of my stuff did you try to rob me of?"

"Jussst about all of it."

"Why didn't you?"

"Becaussse a few of my employeesss told me ssstoriesss of you. I figured you'd be more willing and effective if you had all of your itemsss."

"Wait... You didn't remove my helmet, did you?"

"Oh you bet I did. It took a long time to remove, but... what'sss the matter?"

Jaukoehai had sat down hard. "Nobody... NOBODY is supposed to remove my helmet!"

She took on an almost psychiatrist-like voice. "And why is that?"

"BECAUSE!!" He yelled, now seriously thinking about taking his hammer to the entire place. "Because I learned long ago that my true appearance is something that people should never see. Ever."

"Why shouldn't they?"

"Because... because I don't want to be judged for what I am, for what I was."

"What makes your past scare you like this?"

"I'm not scared! ...My past, everything about it, is something anybody would be ashamed of. My life before I came to Qeynos is a total mystery to everyone, and I intend to keep it that way. Part of that is hiding my face. If they saw it, they would guess. Then they'd put more pieces together. And I'll do anything to stop that from happening." There was a long pause, and Jaukoehai chuckled a bit. "It's funny. I've been hiding my face for so long I don't even know what I look like anymore."

Slythe smiled a bit. A smile on an Iksar is usually cause for fear. In this case, it may still be. She leaned down very close to Jaukoehai's helmet, her voice dropping to a sibilissant whisper. "You are an outsssider, an anomaly, even amongssst your own kind. I can relate."

She stood up then, and walked toward the exit. "Now get to work. I can't have you sitting on your metal behind all day." She said as she left.

Jaukoehai shook his head a little and stood up, shaking his head a bit. "What just happened?"

He was quite confused. Understandably, of course. He had never told anybody that, not even his twin/clone (though technically he already knows). And then this serpentine queen of thieves comes along and he spills more than he ever had.

He stood up and got to work on the clockworks, all the while wondering "What do I look like?"

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Re: Jaukoehai and Slythe

Post by Jaukoehai » 09/10/16

CHAPTER 3:

"So there I was, half of the Bloodtoe Brigade at my back, searching the area in a meticulous manner, leaving no stone unturned. Literally. But nobody could find the thing! The best Dwarven trackers around and we just couldn't find it."

"But the ssstoriesss sssay you did!"

"Yeah. I sat down on the beach to think, and something caught my eye. I hopped in the water to take a look, and there it was. Literally ten feet from our base's back door in the one place we never thought to look. I was so frustrated by then that I straight up broke it open."

"What wasss inssside?"

"Spoiled food."

"You're kidding."

"Nope. All those legends of the lost merpeople city, all that studying, and two entire days of a Dwarven brigade wasted all for an old forgotten halfling cellar."

"With nothing even remotely edible in it?"

"Actually, it turns out that the alcohol was quite excellent, being about a century old, but since I don't drink alcohol and Dwarves love the stuff, so I gave it to them."

"You don't drink any alcohol?"

"I tried, once. I can't stand the stuff."

One of the Iksar renegades laughed. "Then you, my friend, have never tried Cabilissian whiskey!"

"I have not, and I don't intend to."

"Come now, even warriorsss like usss mussst occasionally take time to unwind."

"No one wants to unwind more than me. But I have enemies everywhere, and they're constantly looking for me. I barely get any sleep in my own home."

"What isss it with you? Rarely eat, barely sssleep, and yet you're the mossst famousss individual in the whole world."

"I couldn't tell you if I wanted to."

"Ah. One of the god'sss little aberrationsss, are we?"

"More than you could know."

"Well go on, then!" Another one yelled. "Tell usss another one!"

"Alright, I've got plenty of stories. Which would you like to hear?"

"Well, we've heard action, exxxploration, comedy, drama, intrigue. What are we misssing?"

"Romanccce!"

"Ah, of courssse! Surely you mussst have plenty of that kind of ssstory?"

Jaukoehai chuckled. "Romance really isn't my area."

"Oh, come now!" An Iksar said. "We may find your people'sss methodsss of acquiring a mate to be absssurd, but your exxxploitsss are enough to attract even an Iksssar!"

"Well that explains a lot."

"Oh?"

"Well... alright. Back in the state of Danak, I was visiting the front, of the war between the Empire and the Draconians. At the Sathirian 101st camp, I met two Iksar, sisters in fact. They gave me various duties while I was helping out, but I think they did it just for an excuse to talk to me. They flirted shamelessly with me! It was surreal! I mean, I'm more or less used to it from residents of Qeynos and her kingdom, but coming from a pair of Iksar? It was pretty weird."

"And...?"

"And what?"

"Where did it go from there?"

"Eventually they ran out of jobs for me and I went elsewhere."

Most of the Iksar sighed or shook their heads. "You misssed a golden opportunity."

Just then, Slythe showed up. "Alright, everyone! Night isss falling, time to get in your tentsss."

Jaukoehai walked over to his position at the entrance to the camp. As a being who needs little to no sleep, he was given the duty of watchman. It was at about 1 AM that he heard a voice behind him.

"Jaukoehai."

He twirled around, hammer and shield in hand, only to see Slythe standing there, quite nonchalantly.

"You make no sound when you walk."

"Then I am at lassst ready to leave the compound and avenge the death of my father."

"Wait... what?"

"I'm kidding."

"Oh. I'm used to people being serious around me."

"I can't imagine why."

"Why are you here?"

"I wasss bored. You've been with usss for weeksss now, I figured I would come out here and talk with you."

"I see. What about?"

"Mossstly you."

"I don't generally like talking about myself."

"You ssseemed perfectly willing five hoursss ago."

"That was telling stories about things I've done, not about me. There is a big difference."

"Ssso, there hasss been sssomething gnawing at me ever sssinccce you ssspoke with my employeesss earlier."

"What's that?"

"Do you have a mate?"

"You are the third Iksar to ask me that. And I'll give you the same answer I gave them: no, and I don't plan on getting one."

"Very well. Now that we've got that sssettled, on to my nexxxt quessstion: why not?"

"Because having a 'mate' would be nothing but a liability. They would be a major target, all of my enemies would try to get at me through her. Plus she'd be a distraction. And... I haven't really met anybody that would make a good 'mate'."

"You need to be a bit more... flexxxxxible."

"I'm quite fine with this suit of armour blocking some of my dexterity, thank you."

"That isss not what I meant. I wasss referring to emotional flexxxibility. Tell me, which of the godsss do you pay homage to?"

"The god of valor, of course."

"And who isss hisss sssissster?"

"The goddess of love. I actually met her once, as well as her brother."

"Did she sssay anything of interessst?"

"Well she told me she appreciates the work I am doing for her brother, that she admires my skill and vitality, and that I'm one of her biggest pet projects."

"You remembered all of that, hmm?"

"It's not everyday you meet a god. It was pretty memorable."

"And do you think she'll sssuccceed?"

"Why do you care?"

"Becaussse I'm bored. And I don't like unanssswered quessstionsss, which you left a lot of when you were telling ssstoriess. Now, new topic. What are your thoughts on the Sssathirian Empire?"

"Biggest empire in existence, ruled by the most powerful and feared being in existence, Venril Sathir. An evil organization that must be destroyed, eventually."

"And what isss the Empire'sss greatest weakness?"

"The infighting and varying agendas of each city and city-state."

"What isss the biggessst example of thisss?"

"Lord Riliss, ruler of the Riliss state. He loathes Venril Sathir, and Sathir loathes him. The only reason he hasn't openly rebelled is because Sathir has his precious phylactery."

"What isss your opinion of Lord Rile?"

"Nasty guy. I don't like him at all. But if I had to choose between him and Sathir, I'd easily pick Lord Riliss."

"What of Danak?"

"Lord Ganak, ruler of the port city and city-state that bear his name. I don't mind him. He's a mighty warrior, doesn't put much stock in magical forces. He's honourable, and he seems like a decent being. If I were to choose anyone to replace Venril Sathir, I'd choose Lord Ganak."

"What about Atrebe?"

"Lord Atrebe is a puppet of Sathir and a horrible sorcerer and experimenter. He is very much like his master, and as such I intend to see him ended."

"Excccellent. And what do you think of our plan?"

"I think it will throw the Empire into chaos long enough for somebody to do something to change this continent forever."

"You do not believe Rilisss would win the war?"

"As mighty as Lord Riliss is, he could not win a war against the rest of the Empire. Not even if Danak joined with him. Venril Sathir is far too powerful. But he will make an impact on the Empire, of that I have no doubt."

"Jaukoehai Ironssskin, you are exactly what I needed. Thisss all endsss tomorrow, for better or worssse. We will sssteal the phylactery and sssend the oldessst, mossst powerful empire in exissstencce catapulting into chaosss."

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Re: Jaukoehai and Slythe

Post by Jaukoehai » 09/10/16

The sun was rising over the hills. Not that that mattered, of course. It was so misty there that sunlight made little difference. Jaukoehai suspected that was part of the enchantment. Still, as the sun rose, so too did all the raiders in the camp. Including Slythe. She still wore the leather catsuit, but now she also wore black gloves and a hood. Now only the smallest bit of her acid green scales were showing.

“Jaukoehai. There is no time to wait. Thisss will take usss sssome time. The cccity is a reasonable dissstanccce away, and it will take usss even longer to get to where Sssathir has hidden the phylactery.”

“Wait, what do you means ‘us?’”

“I’m coming with you.”

He laughed. “Ok, thanks for the offer, but that’s not a very good idea. That outfit, comfortable as I’m sure it is, is most definitely not built for combat. Forget the swords of the undead, the sharp end of a feather could pierce that if propelled hard enough.”

“Well, with a big tough soldier like you watching my back, that won't happen, will it?”

“I could probably keep you safe, but--”

“Excccellent.” Jaukoehai was cut off as Slythe’s tail wrapped around his wrist and she started walking off, dragging him along behind.

“Seriously? You're going to drag me along with your tail?”

“Would you like me to let go?”

“Please!”

She released him, and he moved to walk beside her. “Sorry for snapping at you. I’m not used to people acting like that toward me.”

“I figured, you could use the breath of fresh air. Wait, that'sss what you call sssnapping? You need to loosssen up.”

“Loosen up? What do you mean?”

“I mean that you’re far too mellow! You need to let yourssself exxxperienccce and releassse more emotion, and ssstep outssside of your routine! You’ll never feel everything life has to offer if you won’t take time to live a little. Jussst try to be lesss ssstiff!”

“And I suppose you’re the expert at not being stiff?”

“I am the mossst fluid being you will ever lay eyes on. In every sssenssse of the word.”

“Yes, well, as much as I would like to loosen up, I cannot. My line of work makes it impractical.”

“Even people like you can afford to ssstep outssside their comfort zone on occasion.”

The two continued to chat about small, inane things such as recent fashion trends in Qeynos or the best method with which to skin something. Normally, this mist and darkness would discourage conversation, but not with these two.

It took two hours of steady walking to reach the stream which surrounds the City of Mist.

“We’ve conssstructed a makeshift bridge to get into the cccity jussst down here.”

She lead him to a rickety looking wooden bridge, which she crossed with light footed ease. Jaukoehai, on the other hand, broke two planks walking across.

“Sssmooth.”

“Clearly this bridge wasn’t built for a form consisting mostly of metal and muscle.”

“I’m looking forward to ssseeing how much ssstamina you’ve got, though.” She waited as he yanked his foot out of the last plank.

“I certainly seem to have plenty to spare.”

The two of them looked at the city. The mist was so thick by now that even Jaukoehai with his special helmet could only see about ten feet in any direction.

“Alright, which way, Slythe?” She didn’t respond. “Slythe?” She was nowhere to be seen.

“Great. I haven’t been here one second and she’s already gotten herself captured or worse. Aah! I told her it was a bad idea for her to come along!”

“Well? Let’sss go!” Her voice seemed to come out of nowhere.

“Where are you?”

“Now now, if I told you, that wouldn’t be called ssstealth, would it?”

“Alright. Normally people are hiding from me.”

“Sssomehow that doesn’t sssurprise me.”

Jaukoehai walked along the streets of the ruined city, with the distinct idea that the presence he felt was not Slythe.

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before he was accosted by a group of skeletons, which were of course taken down with a few swings of Jaukoehai’s hammer. But one was felled by a quick jab from a shadowy figure that quickly retreated back into the mists.

“Nice kill. You aren’t bad at this.”

“Keep moving.”

And so he did. He walked and walked through the twisting streets of the ancient city, countered almost every other step by a group of skeletons. Naturally he encountered several spirits, but they all gave him a wide berth. The power of his shield repelled all phantoms, though it didn’t keep back the living skeletons all on its own. It didn’t repel the living, either, which was about to become a problem.

In the road ahead of him stood ten Sathirian Oathsworn warriors, their curved swords held to the side. They were standing between Jaukoehai and the bridge to the building where the phylactery was held.

Last time I fought these clowns, blunt attacks had little effect! The best I could do is knocking them out! I’ll have to get out my sword…

He took his small backpack off and rummaged through it. it had been enchanted to be more or less endless, and he knew he had a backup sword in there. But as he took it off, the ten Oathsworn began walking toward him. He quickly plunged his hand down and yanked out the blade. When he looked up, however, he discovered that he didn’t need it.

Slythe had come in from behind as silent as one of the phantoms that now inhabit the ruins. The odd golden dagger in her hand had felled one of the Oathsworn before Jaukoehai even looked up.

The Oathsworn whirled around, turning their death stare to Slythe. No words were exchanged between either party as the duel commenced. Jaukoehai began running over to help, but stopped in awe at the scene folding out before him.

Slythe leapt or slid or rolled past each swing of their blades. Her movements were as swift and fluid as the serpents her kind resembles. Her body twisted and manipulated itself to the point where Jaukoehai wondered if she had any bones at all.

It was like a storm of black leather and silver blades, Slythe was everywhere at once, leaving destruction in her wake. By the time she slid to a halt, every Oathsworn had collapsed.

Jaukoehai was standing there, totally stunned by the display he had just witnessed. Never had he seen anyone move with such uncanny grace. There wasn’t even a scratch on her. It was especially impressive to a being of such limited flexibility.

“I… that was… wow!”

“I’m flattered, but you may want to sssee what’sss behind you.”

He rotated to see an immense metal golem’s fist bearing down on him. The metal mass made contact with a resounding crash. The golem’s hand shattered, and Jaukoehai didn’t move an inch.

“Not bad. Now watch how the master does it.” He picked his hammer up and leapt into the air, bringing it into the chest of the steel giant. The thing buckled like a soda can, its very limbs popping from the torso from the force of the blow.

He turned to see Slythe watching him. She was closer than she had been, perhaps she had run to help? “I sssee that the ssstories about your durability are not overssstated.”

“Wait, let me see that dagger!” He jogged over to her and examined the blade in her hands. “I’ve seen images of that before, in a really old book! Is that the Fang of Ichor?”

“You know of it?”

“Know of it? I’ve been looking for it for at least a decade! This dagger is mythical!”

“Very impresssive. How did you know about it?”

“I’ve dedicated a significant portion of my life to the hunting of rare and dangerous artefacts. Some may call it a hobby--”

“And others may call it an obsssession. I know the feeling.” She was giving him the oddest look.

“What?”

“I’m sssurprised at you. I would never have figured you for a treasure hunter.”

“And speaking of treasure hunting, there is a pretty big one just across that bridge.”

“Indeed. You go firssst, I inssssisssst. And remember the plan!”

Jaukoehai walked up onto the bridge that led to the old city hall. He took his steps slowly, watching for signs of traps. He glanced behind him, but Slythe had once again been swallowed up by the mists, and her own skill at subterfuge.

He walked across the bridge, the mist amplifying the sounds of his armoured feet clanking on the stone. The rest of the city was abnormally silent, but in this spot it was something more. The silence here was almost palpable.

Before him appeared five spirits, clearly of Iksar nobility. They stood before him on the bridge.

“You shall go no further, thief.”

He put on his best heroic voice. “No spirit will detain me. Let me pass, or else.”

“You shall not pass.”

“And who will stop me?”

“We will.”

“You? A bunch of wispy shadows of once-living politicians? Don’t insult me. I’m the only survivor of the turning of New Tunaria. I am the conqueror of Stormhold, slayer of Ykesha, and hero of Maj’Dul! Do you really think that you could possibly detain the Sentinel of Qeynos? Stand aside you pathetic shade, lest I unleash upon you the wrath that has ended nations and toppled gods.”

The ghosts looked at each other momentarily. While they did, Jaukoehai raised his immense shield and advanced. They screeched and hissed and worked desperately to get away from the powerful shield.

“PUPPETS OF SATHIR, YOUR POWER IS NOTHING BEFORE MY OWN! BEGONE, ABERRATIONS!”

He pushed them back, off the bridge, hovering over the abyss below. He was joined on the bridge by Slythe.

“Sssorry boys, but we have to run along now. We’ll be taking thisss with usss.” She displayed the highly intricate metal construct in her hand, within which was a flawless green crystal. “Enjoy your eternal ssstate of torment trapped between worlds! Come along, my knight.”

“I’m right behind you.”

The two made their way out of the city, no longer bothered by any undead, or even anymore golems or Oathsworn. The most dangerous thing they encountered was the bridge out, which Jaukoehai proceeded to shatter in four more spots.

They returned to the camp, amidst the massed cheers of Slythe’s Iksar employees. The two of them studied the Phylactery carefully, you could almost call it geeking out.

“Look at those details there, they seem to be indicative of some sort of battle, perhaps the battle of the Swamps of Nathsar?”

“Yesss, it does look that way. And thisss one here, it makesss note of sssome sssort of buried cccity. Cabilisss, perhapsss?”

“Perhaps. Fascinating.”

“Well, I should go put thisss with the ressst of the artefactsss.”

She got up and walked into her tent. About ten minutes later, one of her employees approached him.

“The bosss sssends her apologiesss. She dissscovered that a few of the artefactsss were time sssensssitive, and she had to leave in a hurry to make sssome sssales. But she sssends her sssincccere appreciation for your ssserviccces, and she wanted me to give you thisss with her complementsss.”

It was a very old looking leather bound book, covered in the symbols of Druzaic, the language of pure magic.

“Amazing! Well, tell Slythe I’m quite grateful. I guess I’ll be on my way.”

“It was an honour, captain.”

And so Jaukoehai left the camp, and began the long trek back to civilization.

As he walked, however, something nagged at him in the back of his mind. He focused on the nagging thought, tried to make it more tangible. Then, suddenly, he realized what it was that was bugging him.

There were no time sensitive artefacts in the city! If there were, they would have expired long ago! The city isn’t exactly a sealed environment, after all. Which means… Slythe wanted him out of the way. For whatever reason that may be, the situation definitely warrants further investigation. And so Jaukoehai retraced his steps.

Meanwhile, back at the raider camp…

Slythe stood, surrounded by her former employees. They were armed and quite unhappy looking.

“Sssorry, bosss. But nobody really crossses Venril Sssathir. He’ll be paying usss handsssomely for the return of his artefactsss, as well as the head of the Iksssar foolish enough to sssteal from him.”

“I should have expected thisss. But you lot should know more than mossst that attacking me is sssuicccide.”

“Mossst of the time. But you’re out of your element here. You can’t kill usss all, and the ones that die jussst mean a bigger cut for the ressst of usss. Now ssset the sssack of artefactsss down and we’ll make it niccce and easy for you.”

Her smile widened. “You don’t want to do that.”

“Niccce try. You’ve played all of your cards. What could you be holding out for now?”

There was a loud clanging noise. “That.

They turned to see Jaukoehai standing there, an unconscious Iksar at his feet. “I need to remember that your kind is usually dishonest.”

*Holding Out for a Hero begins playing here*

Jaukoehai held his shield before him and charged like a rhino, bouncing the rebellious Iksar off it like bugs off a kettle. The distraction was more than enough time to allow Slythe to leap into action, forcefully disgorging many an Iksar’s childhood memories from his head. The unstoppable force and the immovable object, the perfect union. The renegades were unprepared for such a brutal onslaught, and it was a matter of minutes before the battle was over.

“Jaukoehai! That probably attracted every Oathsssworn in the jungle! We have to go, now!”

He nodded, and rushed over to her and picked her up over-the-threshold style, grabbing the artefact sack and slinging it over his should as he ran past.

“Jussst how fassst are you going?”

“I’m not entirely sure!”

Jaukoehai eventually stopped running, and set Slythe down on the banks near a river. The mist from the city was still chokingly thick, but slightly less severe than back at the camp.

“Well, that was exhilerating!” Slythe said, a bit out of breath. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone that fassst.”

“You knew I would come back to save you, didn't you?”

“Of courssse.” Slythe said, getting up.

“And now that you’re rid of your former employees, you don’t have to share your profits. Very clever. The complexity of your plans never ceases to amaze me.”

“You would be sssurprised.”

“Oh yeah? Try me.”

She thought for a moment. “Very well. You sssee, I onccce worked in the capital cccity, Sssebilisss. And one day I came acrosss a very ssstrange and obssscure entry in the archives. I followed that vein on a hunch, and it paid off. By piecccing together variousss clues, I dissscovered sssomething very interesssting regarding the Sssarnak. The Di'zok were afraid of exssstinction at the hands of the Sssathirian Empire. Those fears were well founded, as Sssathir did issue the order to have them hunted down. Desssperate, they used the techniques of their original creators, Emperor Atrebe, to create the ultimate warrior raccce. And they sssuccceeded. And Venril Sssathir was afraid. He knew that the Sarnakki had the power to topple his empire if allowed to live. Ssso he had the laboratories where they were being created completely sssmashed. He sssemed to have sssaved himssself from ever having to worry about the Sssarnakki again. But he misssed a sssingle laboratory, one hidden deep within a volcano on an island chain jussst north of Kunark. Thisss laboratory finished itsss tasssk, and the firssst batch of Sarnaks were born from the vatsss there. I had hoped that I could use you to lure your Sssarnak brother here, tell him that clues to his ssspecccies’ origins are here on thisss continent, which he would then relay to the ressst of his kind, they would sssend people here, and conflict would eventually erupt between them and the Empire.”

“So… so I was just bait? A pawn in your little game of chess? My brother was the one you wanted all along?”

“Initially, yesss. But I realized quite quickly jussst how much I wanted you. You became my rook. I will level with you: I do not think I could have gotten the Phylactery without you. And, in the end, you became an integral part of my plan.”

“Well, it is a good plan. And if everything you have told me is true, it could well be earth-shattering.” He paused then, as if thinking very hard about something. The next time he spoke, it was choppy and uneasy, the voice of a nervous man. “You know… your moves while we were trying to get through the city were very impressive. I’ve never seen anybody with such acrobatic flexibility. For that matter, I’ve never seen anybody keep up with me in battle at all, besides my brother. It was, er, quite… stunning would be the word, I guess.”

“I know. I sssaw you watching me.”

“Can you blame me? You took out one of those oathsworn before I even got out my sword!”

“There are cccertain benefitsss to doing things my way.”

“No doubt.” His tone turned a bit sour.

“What’sss the matter?”

“Oh. Well, do you remember that conversation we had shortly after I arrived? It’s gotten me almost obsessing over the question: what do I look like? I haven’t seen my own face in more than eighty years. I’m normally unshakeable, but this question has kind of rattled me.”

“You haven’t ssseen your own faccce in over eighty years?”

“Yeah. I got this helmet about seventy years ago, and before that I was wearing a different helmet. I’m starting to think that I’m incapable of taking it off.”

“Why?”

Once again, Jaukoehai found himself blurting out information he had always hoped to keep under wraps. “I’m afraid of what I might see.”

“You’re afraid that you will sssee your passst. The passst you have tried ssso hard to keep under wrapsss.”

“I suppose I am.”

“We all have ghossstsss, Jaukoehai. We all have shadows from the passst that haunt usss. You cannot let them rule your actions here and now.” She walked over to him, so close they were almost touching. “It’sss like I sssaid. You need to be more flexsssible.”

She reached up slowly, as though she were handling a wild animal, and engaged the hidden mechanisms in his helmet that kept it locked firmly in place. She raised it, inch by agonizingly slow inch, off his head.

“Slythe, I don’t think--”

“Shhh.”

She finished lifting the helmet off of his head, and dropped it on the ground beside them. Reflected in her serpentine eyes, he could see himself for the first time in eighty years.

Jaukoehai was lost in the moment, gazing with fascination at his reflection.

“Slythe, this is… I… don’t look MMMMPH!”

His arms went flailing around like the Eleventh Doctor as she yanked him down and pressed her lips against his.

With all fairness, Jaukoehai functioned about as well as he could have in that situation. He had no idea how long it lasted, given that his brain wasn’t exactly functioning properly.

Of course, eventually she released him, and as he straightened up, she reached out and gave him a gentle shove. Jaukoehai went toppling to the ground with a loud clang. When he straightened up, Slythe was nowhere to be seen.

He scrambled to grab his helmet, and clicked it back on. As he was looking around for some sign of which way he went, however, a dazzling white light suddenly pierced the mist. He could see an armoured Sarnak figure, silhouetted against the light which emanated from his raised fist, cape flowing in a non existent breeze. When the blinding light died down, his brother Jaukoehai Sky’ki stood there in his resplendent gold and white armour, with his companion Denva Loogei close behind him.

“Brother! Are you alright?” Jaukoehai S. asked, rushing to his twin. “I sensed great alarm from you a minute or so ago. What happened?”

“Oh, it was nothing.” Jaukoehai I. said. “Being here for three weeks will do things to the mind. It was only a Sathirian warrior. I dispatched him with ease. Say, a female Iksar didn’t run past you a moment ago, did she?”

“No. Why?”

“...I saw one fleeing the City of Mist. I was curious to see if I could help her.”

“Why you’d help an Iksar is beyond me.”

“You know as well as I do that some are better than others. Come, we should head home. And boy, do I have a legend to tell you!”

And so the two three beings, the hero the outcast and the mercenary, made their way back to Qeynos, Jaukoehai relating the tale of the Sarnakki’s potential for destroying the Sathirian Empire, just as Slythe had wanted. But as they walked, and for two years after, our hero searched his surroundings for some sign of the serpent thief.

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Re: Jaukoehai and Slythe

Post by Jaukoehai » 09/10/16

Jaukoehai looked around. He was still clad in his armour, which was now totally fine, and he was lying on a bed in a golden room. It was quite ornate, and lined with small lion statues. He instinctively put a hand over his stomach, which is where Cristanos blasted a hole in him, and was relieved to find it intact.

“Where am I?”

“The Plane of Valor, Jaukoehai.”

He turned to look. A large Human clad in ornate silvery armour stood in the doorway. Jaukoehai recognized him instantly as Marr, God of Valor.

Jaukoehai leapt out of the bed and knealt reverently. “I am honoured, my lord!”

“Rise, Jaukoehai. You do not need to kneel before me.”

“My lord, since I am here, am I… dead?”

“I’m afraid so, Jaukoehai. But you displayed immense valor, all the way up to your final moments. I was very impressed.”

“Then I am to reside here now?”

“No.”

Well that was confusing. “What do you mean? Have I not earned my place here?”

“Oh you have earned it many times over, Jaukoehai. But you cannot stay here, as much as I would like it. You have business elsewhere.”

“What do you mean?”

Marr seemed to think about his response for a moment. "I'm just going to put it this way, you're a tool for Norrath. You're a way for it to right wrongs. I really can't go into the specifics, the Tribunal has decreed that we're not to truly explain to you what you are."

“So what do I do now?”

“You died a bit prematurely. Still impressively, no doubt. But you need to go back.”

“You're going to reincarnate me on Norrath?"

“Indeed. There is no delay, you may return to your planet whenever you are ready.”

“And I become a new man? With a fresh start?”

“Of course.”

Jaukoehai shook his head. “No. I want to go back just as I was. I want to remember everything.”

Marr looked confused. “Why?”

“Because he has something to go back to.” A woman walked out from behind Marr. Picture what you consider the most attractive woman in existence. Now multiply that attractiveness factor by at least ten, and you’d have what this woman looks like. Of course, that’s not surprising. The woman was, after all, Erolissi, the goddess of love. “Brother, I say we replicate his old body and let him keep his memories.”

Marr thought for a moment longer. “Very well, if both you and my sister think so, then so it shall be. Of course, we must sever your mental connection with your twin. And this must stay a secret, for now at least. There are certain rammifications for dying and coming back, after all.”

Erolissi leaned in and whispered to Jaukoehai. “I know what my brother said, but there is one person you should tell.” She leaned back up. “I wish you luck, Jaukoehai.”

Marr walked over to Jaukoehai. “I will recreate your body in the mortal world, in any location you wish."

"Build me a new body in the Kunzar Jungle. I'll have to start searching there. If you could guide me, Erolissi, that would be great."

"I'm certain I could help give you a nudge in the right direction here and there." She said with a wink.

Within a single instant he was standing in an old ruined village. He made for Torsis and vowed that he'd find Slythe, no matter what.

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