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The Warrior's Path (Even)

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    The Warrior's Path (Even)

    The sky above the Courts of Chaos was littered with the most beautiful and dynamic star line anywhere in all of creation. From his perch on the balcony of House Seiryuu's fortress stronghold, Prince Even could watch the creation of super novas and black holes, the constant shimmering of falling stars, and the depictions of universes beginning and ending all around him. All things were in flux here, and there was something so pure and amazing about it.

    And yet he felt unwhole. Incomplete. Half of him was anathema to this place. The death of King Olin had travelled quickly, but Even could have sworn that he felt it, as though a psychic backlash had shaken the whole universe at the moment of his father's death. A psychic implosion worthy of the hellish zodiac above the Abyss, had left a power vacuum that Even could not ignore.

    Lord Cerulean, the patriarch of House Seiryuu appeared in the archway behind Even. Cerulean was the Keeper of the Logrus, a dangerous yet also honored position for any Chaosian Lord, for the Logrus itself dwelled physically within his stronghold, and would do so until it felt like wandering elsewhere. Politically, it was advantageous for House Seiryuu, and there would be no better time for Cerulean to challenge for the Throne of Chaos if a figure like Prince Even could claim the jewel of Amber and support the rise of this great house. The two men were related of course. Even's mother had been a cousin to Cerulean, and her dalliance with Olin had spared House Seiryuu from the worst of the last war between Amber and Chaos. However, that dalliance had been akin to kidnap and repeated rape in the minds of the Chaosians. They said that Even's mother had made the best of a horrid situation and had done her part to salvage her family's holdings as best she could by influencing Olin to attack elsewhere.

    "The Word of your Father's Death has been confirmed," Lord Cerulean said, stepping up beside Even to grasp a clawed hand at the obsidian railing overlooking the Pit below. "My daughter Azure reports that your half-siblings witnessed his passing, though the body seems to have been mysteriously disposed of. If there is no body, perhaps some trickery is afoot?"

    Even doubted it. He knew his father was cunning and devious of course, and faking his own death was certainly a part of his playbook - but something told Even that this time was different. This was serious. Olin was not around anymore. Not at least in his capacity to affect the course of events. If there was time to make a move to exact his revenge, this was the time.

    #2
    Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

    Even kept his gaze upward, finding the magnificent view somehow reminiscent of the tides of battle--ever changing, chaotic, and at times confusing... but at the same time pure, honest. If anything calmed him, it was the thrill of the fight. He had been through his fair share of wars on Earth and in other parts of Shadow, but never as a general in the war room. Only by staring death in the face on the front lines of battle could he find meaning, and here in the Courts of Chaos, where one's demise could come to them at any moment, he felt alive, if nothing else.

    The prince stretched his powerful frame, rolling his shoulders to keep himself prepared for the natural dangers of the realm, where even the ground beneath one's feet was subject to change. His sword Intrepidus, currently in the form of a sleek rapier, was sheathed at his side. Though his face and some natural features still resembled that of an Amberite, his hands and feet were adorned with hardened rock-like scales, and a pair of massive wings lay folded at his back. In this demon form, no attempt to feign amity had to be made; one could be as ugly, or as brutally honest, as they desired. It may have been considered monstrous, even terrifying to some. But to him there was only truth in this appearance--and in that truth, there was beauty. Not the 'beauty' defined by societies, but one only acquired through absolute freedom and self-expression. To be free, he thought, one should never restrict themselves to a specific order... to a pattern.

    As he looked on, Even could feel the unrest welling up within him. He was no stranger to this feeling. After all, he had kept it with him for quite some time in the form of a small seed, one that had sprouted into a great darkness after his mother's death, for which he only had Queen Eileen, as well as his own father King Olin, to blame.

    Perhaps Olin had been a father to someone at some point--maybe even a kind and caring one, devoted to the growth and well-being of a future heir. But whoever he had chosen to be kind to, Even was not one of them. To this day the resent had never completely left his heart, and when he looked over his shoulder at Lord Cerulean to hear the news, the prince shed not a single tear.

    "That old fool," he muttered in response to the lord's report. "If only I had been the one to watch the life fade from your eyes... it would have been that much more satisfying. Trickery, no... he is dead. I can feel it."

    Even glanced sideways at Cerulean and simply nodded. Standing beside him was one of few people that he held any degree of respect towards. Not only was being Keeper of the Logrus quite a station, but the lord's ties to his mother added a sense of familiarity. To him, she was the embodiment of all that was pure and truthful, and though Chaosians were anything but that at times, Even would easily choose them over Amberites if given the option.

    Did Even need others? Surely, there were some; ones who cared not to hide their schemes behind beautiful words and feigned friendship. But as far as the young prince was concerned, these individuals were few and far between--and nowhere to be found in Amber, perhaps with the exception of one individual...

    "Send Lady Azure my regards for the report," he said. "It is admirable that at least a few of us have the courage to brave that cesspool of pathetic charlatans that is the Castle Amber."

    He paused and took a deep sigh, looking back into the distance. Disgust was already building up within Even at the thought of what might be happening in his estranged homeland of sorts, and he continued on, speaking to Lord Cerulean as much as himself.
    "No doubt the Queen's children are already scrambling for the rights of leadership--it's almost pathetic how predictable they are.
    Amber... still the same terrible ideal, but just a different ass on the throne. If there is anything they need, it is true change, something that a pure-blooded Amberite would know nothing about
    ."

    As Even knew quite well, ideals were considerably harder to destroy than just people. He thought back to events on a shadow he spent some time on, one called Earth. Here, a cruel dictator had recently passed, and they were just as quick to fill the void of leadership with his son--a man far too similar to him in both personality and appearance. Though Even was hardly surprised by such events, they never failed to make him sick. Especially when he knew similar events were likely occurring in the one true world, Amber, like a sick caricature of the ploys for power that occurred all too often in shadow.

    What kind of son would take Olin's place? One just like him, no doubt. A man whose power was never enough, and one who would no doubt satisfy his needs with various women before disposing of them. Women like his mother.

    "I wish to seek an audience with the House nearest to us," said Even, completely serious in tone.

    ~~~~~
    Demon Form (for reference):
    http://i.imgur.com/nRGNN.jpg
    Last edited by Takimaru; 17th March 2012, 13:32.
    Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.

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      #3
      Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

      "My daughter has always been fascinated with the Amberites, in all their varieties. It's why she has such a liking for you I think - one of us and yet one of them at the same time, by your blood. Take no offense at that, Prince Even, your birthright is the key and our hope for victory. You will put right the many wrongs that Amber has cast through shadow for too long."

      Lord Cerulean's demonic face was grim and stoic, but it was clear he had confidence in Even's capabilities. He had pledged his entire House's future to what this son of Olin could accomplish.

      "I can arrange an audience with Lord Kell of House Hendrake, or Lord Ultho of House Bariman. They are rivals to us both however. I am not certain what you would hope to accomplish by seeking audience with them. The Barimans are one of the oldest Houses, reputedly the Keepers of the Logrus at the dawn of the Pattern -- extremely proud and xenophobic, and more than a little touchy about how the Pattern was created on their watch. The Hendrakes, by contrast, are a rising power. They have a wealth of Shadowmasters among their ranks -- making them fearsome within the courts. But Shadowmasters lose their abilities closer to Amber, and are next to useless in Amber itself. They are important in Chaosian politics however, and Hendrake considers themselves blessed by the Serpent, destined to become the next Keepers. They have it in for me, you see..."

      Cerulean chuckled, as if the nature of plotting, treachery, and constant threats were nothing new to him, and indeed they were not.

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        #4
        Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

        The prince simply shook his head and replied, "None taken. I am aware that having the blood of Amber makes one... different. If not for its power, I'd have likely perished in one of the many conflicts I had been through while in Shadow." Even mused to himself. The veteran warrior had lived up until now, sustaining injuries and wounds that no man should have survived. Ironically, he had his father's side to thank for his strong constitution and superhuman attributes--but that was probably the extent of it.

        "In spite of the tragedies my paternal bloodline has brought to Chaos, I am most fortunate to retain your support, as well as that of your daughter and your house as a whole. After I replace the corrupt government dwelling above Kolvir, you have my word that House Seiryuu will have a place in the new kingdom."

        Even looked down at the open palm of his right hand. With this, he had grasped the hilts of swords that felled emperors, pulled the triggers of rifles that caused the fall of dictators, and claimed the lives of many an enemy when there were no such weapons to be found. Furthermore, he was just as skilled with his left, having taught himself a degree of ambidexterity over the centuries.

        How many more would have to die until his heart was at ease? Certainly the answer lay among the royalty of Amber--his siblings, particularly those that bought into Olin's ideology. He had been instrumental in the overthrow of various governments in Shadow. Outside of the Amberites' obvious military might, why should this campaign be any different? Even himself was many times stronger than an average Amberite, and was still unmatched among his siblings in the realm of weaponry and strength. From birth, he found himself drawn to the art of direct combat. Not only did he love it, he was good at it. Why was this?

        "...Somehow, I get the feeling that I was put here to correct the sins of my father. The things we leave behind have a bad habit of catching up to us." Everyone had their personal 'demons', and Even was no exception. Olin's, however, may very well have been the son that he left behind in Chaos.

        Listening on to the rest of Lord Cerulean's suggestions and weighing his options inwardly, Even raised a hand to his chin. If he had his way, he would eventually unite all the Houses of Chaos and launch a full-scale assault on Amber, in retaliation for the centuries of injustice and the atrocities committed by none other than his father, Olin. But one can move a mountain by carrying small stones--starting somewhere was the most important point. After but a few more seconds of deliberation, he made his choice.

        "I'll speak to House Bariman," he said confidently. "Though we are rivals, I feel as if there is something to be gained for our mutual hatred of the Pattern. Perhaps I can convince them to assist us in a siege on Mount Kolvir. After we've disposed of Bator and whoever has the nerve to continue in my father's footsteps, they can do what they wish with the Pattern beneath the castle--it matters not to me."
        Last edited by Takimaru; 21st March 2012, 06:12.
        Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.

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          #5
          Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

          "I do not know that you shall succeed as much as you hope. House Bariman has stayed a Great House since the dawn of the Pattern by rigid determination and by letting others do the work for them, not the other way around. They will look upon you with suspicion, but I doubt they would be foolish enough to attack you, given your known skill. They will hear you out, but that is all that I believe they will do."

          ****

          Lord Cerulean had left Even by the balcony, saying that he would send four of his most skilled Shadowmasters as an entourage with the Prince to the House of Bariman. The Shadowmasters were skilled and would make the journey across the Chaos landscape safe... stabilizing the roiling shadow stuff and providing a black road to the imposing gates of House Bariman, where ten large, black armored demons with rust colored, leathery hides awaited them.

          "Who approaches House Bariman unannounced and unlooked for?" snarled the biggest of the demons, likely their captain.

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            #6
            Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

            "That is just as well," Even responded, his determination unwavering. "I would not ask such a proud faction to be my personal foot soldiers, but rather bring to their attention the fact that my father's death is an opportunity that should not be overlooked, at least not for anyone remotely interested in the balance of power between Amber and Chaos." He nodded his thanks to the lord and took one last look at the marvelous view from House Seiryuu's balcony.

            ****

            As the prince arrived at the gates of House Bariman, he was greeted by the rather impressive row of sentries. Even may not have had the sharpest of tongues compared to some of his siblings, as he let his actions do most of the talking--but if he knew anything of influencing others, it was that a resolute speaker was often enough a convincing one.

            "I am Prince Even, descendant of both Chaos and Amber," he said in reply to the largest demon's inquiry. The hardened veteran was prepared for the disdainful looks he would likely receive upon mentioning the "A" word in the demons' presence, but there were no two ways around it, and he knew this.

            "I seek not to appeal to this house for political reasons, as I hold all Chaosians to a degree of high regard--for cowards cannot easily stand on the ground that the lot of us occupy at this very moment," he added, moving his foot to the side almost instinctively as a crack formed beneath its previous position. Like many other dwellers of this realm, he had grown accustomed to the ever-changing landscape.

            "Though I would gladly grant a duel to anyone who asks, I am not here to incite conflict between Houses... not while there is vengeance upon Amber to be exacted, for the numerous atrocities committed against us all. I request an audience with Lord Ultho. I have information about the state of affairs in that city of traitors that he would undoubtedly find useful."
            Last edited by Takimaru; 22nd March 2012, 21:35.
            Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.

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              #7
              Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

              "Lord Ultho does not need to treat with any mongrel with the blood of Olin!" The demon in charge spat. "The blood traitors of House Seiryuu may accept your presence amongst them, spawn that you are of one of their women folk. But we of House Bariman care little for your claim to be one of us. You are an abomination and your very existence is an affront to the Courts. For your feet to touch our sacred halls would be a sacrilege. Go back to where you came from!"


              The demon in charge seemed either very brave or very stupid to challenge Even in such a manner. It was known that Prince Even had been dwelling in the Courts for quite some time now, and that he was a warrior without equal. There was no question in Even's mind that he could kills this demon, as well as the nine other demons with him. The question then was whether he killed them and broke down the door to House Bariman with force, or if he tried to continue with his diplomatic course?

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                #8
                Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

                The half-blood heaved a sigh of disappointment, maintaining his piercing gaze on the head guardian. As he was somewhat familiar with Chaosian politics, he didn't expect this to be that easy... but to Even, if that were the case, then it wouldn't be worth doing. After all, as someone who never truly belonged--not in Shadow, in Amber, in the Courts, anywhere--he was used to discrimination. Not that he was immune to vexation from such attitudes, but his resolve was far from weakened.

                "As one of the oldest Houses, it comes as no surprise that the blood of my father would offend you--as it does me. But I have not come all this way just to turn back with nothing gained for any of us. A war between our clans is the last thing we need at this moment, especially when Amber itself is in an exploitable state from the threat of internal conflict. But if it's a fight you're looking for, I will gladly grant you one, provided it takes me to Ultho's doorstep and ends this foolishness."

                Even boldly steps forward, motioning for the four Shadowmasters alongside him to stay back. He stands confidently, keeping a careful eye on the posture and body language of the other demons, anticipating their every movement. "I'm sure you realize that to engage me in direct combat is to stare Death in the face."

                Though his words were clear, talking never was the prince's favorite activity. Not with words, that is. Inside, he was yearning for battle, hoping that the largest demon would make the mistake of stepping forward to meet him, like many opponents had before, on the street, in the cage, and upon the battlefield. For Even, the degree of diplomacy he had shown was already more than necessary for what these xenophobic fiends would listen to. Sometimes there was no better teacher than action, especially when hours of speech would not sway the members of House Bariman from their rigid views. Lowering his chin, he raised his lead hand, gesturing for the leader to meet him in the center.
                Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.

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                  #9
                  Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

                  The demon's nostrils flared in vexation, but he made no move forward.

                  "I know who you are, Amberite, and I'm not fool enough to challenge you for the sake of glory. But I AM barring you from entry into this house. There will be no shame in my death, were you to attack me, and it would be you who brought war between the houses. I say again, go back to where you came from!"

                  The demon was clearly playing the odds. Even saw him sweating behind his mask of bravery. The leader of these guards knew that to face Even was death, and he had no desire to die - but he did know that Even didn't want a Chaosian war - and was banking on that to make the Amberite back down. The demon guards on his left and right seemed to shift just fractionally away from from the leader, sensing the imminent danger. They were less inclined to sacrifice themselves than he was.

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                    #10
                    Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

                    The prince exhaled slowly. Of all his years spent in Shadow, few, if any, were spent wearing a suit and exchanging pleasantries. This diplomacy thing, it admittedly wasn't his strongest suit, not for someone whose experiences were primarily comprised of fighting, not talking. He had no time to waste on this nonsense, on sentries whose sole duty it was to keep outsiders on the other side of those walls. And faithfully did they stick to their task, at least. They could be commended for that much.

                    Lowering his hand, Even simply made his way to the large gate, his footfalls sturdy. Finally, he stopped right next to where the hulking Chaosian waited. Here he was within arms reach, unfazed by the demon's proximity. Without even turning to face him, he said, "Fair enough. I'll just enter with no members of House Seiryuu involved, as a Prince of Amber seeking to make a deal. I will go to Lord Ultho, and just have a discussion with him about current events. If you wish to stop me, then feel free."
                    Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.

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                      #11
                      Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

                      The demon did stand in Even's path, and several of the others, hesitantly formed ranks with him, their sense of duty eventually winning out over their sense of survival. Even couldn't fault them for their discipline at least.

                      As he pushed his way through, he felt the demons start to resist. They pushed and their spiky, leathery hide was uncomfortable against Even's skin, tough and sturdy though it was. This led to him having to shove the lead demon aside, which he did easily with his superior strength. At that point the other demons dove at him, trying to bring him down, but even surrounded and in such close quarters, Even was too quick and too strong for them, elbowing, dodging, kicking and slapping the brutes aside as if they were nothing.

                      They fall, a few of them not bothering to get up. At last the lead demon manages to get Even into a clinch, but his strength is so weak compared to the Prince that it hardly slows down his progress as he reaches towards the door. Seeing that he is hopelessly outmatched the demon releases Even.

                      "Fine, enter our fortress unwelcomed. I'll see to it this affront is known throughout the courts!"

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                        #12
                        Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

                        Word of an affront against House Bariman, spreading throughout the realm? He began to wonder if this was necessarily a bad thing, considering it was no easy task to break in through the front door of one of Courts of Chaos' oldest houses. Though he wasn't terribly impressed with the fight that the group put up, at least they had the guts to face him in the first place. They would need that kind of nerve to fight this war, he thought. A Chaosian who was well aware of the difference in strength between themselves and an Amberite may find it wise to turn tail and run, but if the majority of this faction's soldiers shared this type of fighting spirit, perhaps it wouldn't be a total waste to appeal to their leader.

                        "A Prince of Amber causing trouble in Chaos? If that's what it takes to make the lot of you stop fighting amongst each other and pay attention to the true threats, then I'll gladly take the fall. It wouldn't be the first time."

                        With that, he continued on into Lord Ultho's territory.
                        Last edited by Takimaru; 27th March 2012, 02:04.
                        Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.

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                          #13
                          Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

                          Even left the demon guards scowling and uttering oaths behind him, but they did not pursue him as he made his way through the grand entry hall into the Bariman stronghold, his four shadowmasters swirling in their dark capes behind him. On all sides they were surrounded by a small army of demons who watched them pass by. House Bariman was certainly not short on soldiers.

                          The way to Lord Ultho's chamber required shadow work to navigate the shifting walls of his house, with magical spell wards put up everywhere to confuse intruders. No Bariman soldier offered help and it took Even an obnoxiously long time to figure out how to navigate the labyrinth - more than once having to create his own path forward with either his immense strength or with the power of the Logrus.

                          Hours later he ascended to the throne room, where a short man in red robes and rust colored skin hunched on his throne, looking down the steps at Even. Behind him the tendrils of the Logrus thrashed and it was evident that the man had summoned the Logrus into his mind, prepared to do battle with Even if necessary.

                          "You are an unwelcome guest in my house, Prince Even," he croaked. "Yet still you have come. Speak then."

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                            #14
                            Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

                            Finally arriving at his long-sought destination, Even at least expected this much of Bariman's physical defenses; this arrangement was almost typical of a House of Chaos. Not that such a thing made the ordeal any less frustrating, but the prince certainly got the hint that he was not welcome here.

                            He stopped a fair distance away from the lord, so as to not come off as menacing.
                            "So I am," Even replied. "If I were just to stand and chat with your guards, I would have never been granted the opportunity for an audience with you, Lord Ultho. I had to seize it with my own two hands."

                            He continued. "But I am not here to fight. Not with the one who holds authority over this House, anyway. There are more important matters at hand. Recently, King Olin of Amber has passed. His presence is no longer felt. Inevitably, my siblings will fight for the throne, as authority of the realm's forces are somewhat divided among them. And while I am but a half breed, this is a chance for you--no, for all of the Courts--to have a denizen of Chaos, and a master of the Logrus, holding control over their foes. Olin's blood flows within my veins, and as an eligible candidate for King, I can turn the corrupt government of Amber into something new, making reparations for the years of suffering they have imposed upon countless Chaosians."
                            Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.

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                              #15
                              Re: The Warrior's Path (Even)

                              Ultho listened with brooding eyes to what Even had to say, but by the end of the prince's short speech, the Chaos Lord wore a cruel grin.

                              "Foolish Prince of Amber, the blood traitors of House Seiryuu are as blind as the Serpent's right eye, and forgetful of that very same wound. The Lord Cerulean dreams of a universe with both Amber and Chaos, with prolonged struggle and the pain of Chaosians continuing to live under the thumb of Amberites and their abominable Pattern. You suggest we help you become King in Amber, achieve control of both the Pattern AND the Logrus, and meekly cede control of the Courts to House Seiryuu, your loyal lapdogs? Let me tell you what House Bariman dreams of - what any true Chaosian dreams of - and I will tell you now, Prince Even, it is not of you sitting upon the Throne of Amber. It is not for ANY mongrel son or bitch daughter of Olin to sit comfortable upon the mantle of the hated Pattern, no! It is for that throne to be rent asunder, it is for that castle to topple into the sea, for Mount Kolvir to become a molten scar upon a dead world and the Pattern - all Pattern - to be broken and swallowed up in the Serpent's maw, for the universe to return to its natural state, it's true state! For Chaos to be supreme and for nothing else to rise against it's power. For THAT, Prince Even, would my forces fight, but no, not for you, not for any whelp that bears the blood of Amber. Not for their rule.... and yes, we are well aware of the sickness that has pervaded Olin's body and brought him to ruin. By the grace of the Serpent, the power of the Logrus has shown that there is weakness within the Pattern, that any Order can be brought low by a single flaw. With Olin dead, the hour of the Serpent's ascendency is at hand. When the Logrus calls on us to march against Amber, that is when we shall strike. Not a moment before."

                              Ultho had leaned forward in his asymetrical throne, his eyes large and bloodshot, his veins in his forehead throbbing with black blood as he spat his words and the power of the Logrus waxed thick in his aura. Simmering in his own hate, the Chaos Lord sank back in his chair, his figure recoiling within his dark robes. The intensity within him died down a little and he looked now with dead eyes, beyond Even, or perhaps through him.

                              "There will be no alliance with you or House Seiryuu. Events are in motion that you cannot comprehend, and that you shall not overcome or dissuade. Make your war upon the whelps of Amber - I wish you all the luck and power you will need to spill the blood of your people, and may House Seiryuu spend itself on the spears and walls of your homeland. The Serpent will tell me where to make my stand, as it always has."

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