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    The City on the Mountain is no more

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    The City on the Mountain is no more

    Post by ScreamPaste on Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:33 am

    I. The Eyerie


    The Eyerie was one of the six cities founded at the birth of the Empire. It was built atop Mount Fidelis around the temple there, and it served as a walled fort several times through out its history. More recently it had been a center of industry. Metals were mined, smelted, and either exported or worked locally, making The Eyerie a key part of Accord's economy and industry alike.

    However, being on a mountain top the city had a hard time producing it's own food, especially as it grew larger. Over time The Eyerie became completely dependent on caravans of food from other parts of the empire, most notably Honest Fields.

    And for a long time life in The Eyerie was normal. A population of the sturdy and the ambitious made their living on the mountain, close to the Sun, even if they worked outside her gaze. Until the needs of the church for metals, precious or otherwise, waned.

    The population of Accord stablized, the need for new construction was low, and the great works of artisans of the past stand the test of time. Miners and smelters had to turn to other, more private sources of income. And it was easy to find.

    In the absence of need the noble houses laid claims on the stake of want. Most notably House Ferrus. They dug new tunnels to tap old veins and paid their workers well enough, and eventually they had a near monopoly on the metals coming out of The Eyerie. Even the church found it more efficient to simply trade for the metal they needed than to mine it themselves.

    With no competition for their work force, House Ferrus began to cut corners and wages. It was a gradual process, but eventually the workers became too poor to safely leave their jobs. They were utterly dependent on the fistfuls of bits and sers they earned from House Ferrus.

    During this time, Sidon, the last remaining member of Vis' council of six, died. Kara, the then new Hieraphain, hand selected his replacement. Chromatica, a young and vibrant woman with unflinching loyalty to her people. Her oaths were taken, and Kara's council of six, now complete, attended in their entirety.

    In the second year of the new High Preistess' rule an accident in the mines killed many of the House Ferrus workers. Chromatica herself personally gave funeral rites to each of the dead and even helped to construct new towers of silence outside the city gates so that there would be enough to put them all to rest in Helia's light.

    This was the event that prompted her to look into the plight of the workers in her city. She saw her people being mistreated at the hands of the more fortunate and stomached her anger to seek a solution. She petitioned the Hieraphain, telling her what she'd seen, and asked that the church employ the remaining workers themselves, even at great cost, for whatever metals they needed. Kara agreed.

    Old tunnels were unsealed and supports reinforced, workers were paid fair wages, and facing the total loss of their workforce House Ferrus was in turn forced to improve the quality of life of their remaining workers and any future prospects.

    II. Chromatica
    III. Denial
    IV. Anger and Bargaining
    V. The Storm
    VI. Acceptance and Death
    VII. Salvation by Fire


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    Re: The City on the Mountain is no more

    Post by ScreamPaste on Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:01 pm

    II. Chromatica


    The last High Priestess of The Eyerie was a young woman named Chromatica. Her reign was short, but memorable. For her brief life she burned brightly, having been hand chosen by the Hieraphain to complete her council of six while barely in her twentieth year, and having been executed before the end of her twenty fifth. Chromatica spent her life as a controversial figure, and not merely for the deep purple shade of her irises, the deformity for which she had been named.

    It was clear she had not been chosen for her wisdom. Wise as she was for her age, others in the church far surpassed her. Nor was she a great philsopher or weaver of Helia's magic. Speculation raged among nobles and commoners alike what could have set one so young and inexperienced apart in the eyes of the Hieraphain. At the ceremony of her oathtaking Kara suggested Chromatica was chosen to share the burden of rule for her strength of character and unbreakable loyalty. With Chromatica sworn to reside in the temple for life, their parting was bittersweet. Each year during the festival of Renewal Kara would return, and celebrate with the people of the Eyerie, rather than take part in the grander displays in Arcanum, and Chromatica was known to keep a cider mug in the temple as one of her few personal belongings.

    While not always humble, Chromatica's willingness to help was more of a need, something integral to her personhood. She moved and worked freely and without hesitation among her people. Her hands bore the callouses her heart never seemed to have developed. Something that became clear to the people of The Eyerie in her second year of rule, when an accident in the mines, then worked primarily by House Ferrus, took many lives.

    As more and more of the bodies were recovered it became clear that there were not enough towers standing for them all to greet Her Grace. So, Chromatica helped to build new ones herself. She worked tirelessly at any craft she could be instructed in, and could be seen hauling loads of bricks and mortar across the city herself when there was no other work to be done. She personally gave funeral rites to each of the lost, and held a sermon once the work was finished. It was a gesture expected of a High Priest, but all who attended could see the smoldering anger beneath her composed exterior.

    Less than two weeks later she led men of the clergy through the halls of every artisan's guild in the city and personally promised them improvements. Jobs were created, wages increased, and safety was made a priority. For the first time the people saw why she had been chosen. Under her rule the smiths and smelters and miners flourished. Coin poured out from the church into the hands of the people, and the power of the nobles in The Eyerie waned.

    Around the same time Chromatica adopted a young girl named Anna as her personal protege. The girl, an orphan who had idolized Chromatica and shared her boisterous temperment, had been in the mines during the accident and lost her left foot. From then on the pair were inseparable.

    Chromatica's tendency to work closely with her people fostered trust in the church and allowed her to rule from the ground; and for most of her rule the people saw her as kind, loyal, and fair. In the end, none of that had mattered. Despite her best intentions, Chromatica was young, inexperienced, and sometimes arrogant. Worse, she'd made powerful enemies.


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    Re: The City on the Mountain is no more

    Post by ScreamPaste on Thu Sep 29, 2016 11:39 pm

    III. Denial


    The Eyerie was a special city. It stood on top of a mountain, surrounded by forests, rich with metals, and far from fields and pastures. Populated by hardy, industrious people used to the imminent threat of a tunnel collapse or working with molten ore. People who were tended to closely by a high priestess as vibrant as the Sun she worshipped, who let her heart lead her judgement, to a fault.

    The qualities that made the city special are the same which led to its destruction. On top of the mountain, they were dependent on food from outside. Surrounded by forests which could hide the shades from Her light. The same forests supplies had to pass through. Likewise the maze of tunnels beneath the city where the people had mined greedily for ore housed the cold things safely until the storm allowed them to strike. The people, hard and sturdy as they were, waited until it was too late to allow themselves to know fear. By then, it was panic. The passionate priestess let herself make mistakes, and enemies. Her youthful arrogance convinced her the rumours and scandals that cropped up around her would serve no consequence. Denial destroyed the city.

    It began only a few months before the end. Supplies stopped coming. At first it seemed normal, simple delays. Days passed. Messengers were sent. None returned. People in the mines began disappearing. No one would notice until they didn't go home at cycle's end. And then they stopped disappearing. Bodies were found in frozen heaps, held together by a glass like substance so cold to the touch it burned. Each body with its arm extended, hand pointed North. Among them was the sister of a Halfling from a nearby village. A known summoner who could call on beings from other planes. He had made it out alive. The people were quick to accuse him, and Chromatica came to his aid, ushering him inside the temple and keeping him from the angry mob.

    Whispers began that the priestess was in league with the creatures in the mines. Old rumours returned to light with the new. Chromatica was known to run off, out of the city. Sometimes for over a cycle. The people knew she loved to run, and she was fast, but to run for so long was unheard of. What could she have been doing on the mountain side, or in the forest? And what about those unnaturally coloured eyes of hers? Where had they come from? The noble houses encouraged speculation she'd been a devil blooded child, abandoned and raised by the church. Kind as she seemed, people began to wonder.

    The people moved to retrieve the bodies in the mines. A force of miners meaning to do right by their friends, a contingent of the clergy, and even Chromatica herself, went inside. A full on attack took place. The shades came from inside the walls of the tunnels, quenching the lights and stealing the breath and life of anyone they touched. Only Chromatica made it out alive.

    Whispers grew into murmurs that grew into angry accusations. Crowds formed, hysteria began to take hold. Chromatica ordered the mines closed, and food rationed. The clergy began using their magic to conjure what they could, but it wasn't enough to feed the thousands of citizens of the city, or to quell the rumours surrounding herself and the Halfling.

    Weeks passed, food grew scarce, and the city broke out in sporadic violence. Lynchings, arson, accusations. The small contingent of the Church Militant in the city, led by Knight Captain Aren, had its hands full between defending the temple at the city's center and putting down the violent riots.

    Things became worse when, on a tense, if peaceful day, a band of strangers reached the city's gates. The first people to do so in weeks. The travelers, starved and seeking asylum, were escorted to the temple and through the crowd by a handful of sergeants of the order Sol. Chromatica greeted them, and welcomed them inside. Foolish as it was, she shared her rations with them: few potatoes and some water. She even let them stay in the temple for the cycle to rest. The people were furious.


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    Re: The City on the Mountain is no more

    Post by ScreamPaste on Fri Sep 30, 2016 12:10 am

    IV. Anger and Bargaining


    By the time the strangers arrived in the city there were few who doubted Chromatica's heresy. The pattern was clear, she gathered anyone who were spared by the things in the shadows to her and protected them. They believed her to be a heretic, and those she sheltered to be her conspirators.

    While the strangers rested in the temple the mob outside grew in both size and violence. Before the cycle's end they'd lynched a man who had refused to turn on the priestess and carted his body with the rope still around his neck to the front of the temple for her to see.

    The church militant formed a shield wall to hold back the crowd while Chromatica demanded to know by what right the crowd had passed sentence. Things were quickly spiralling out of hand, though no one dared to ascend the steps where the Knights Sol stood.

    Eventually several men made their way to the front of the crowd, and with their hands held skyward, approached her. In front of the people of the Eyerie they pointed out that Chromatica stood accused of bringing about all the death and misfortune the city had faced. They demanded a trial. For just a moment her youth was on display. She hesitated, and she was afraid. The crowd quieted, all eyes on her, and then began to chant. "TRIAL. TRIAL. TRIAL." With the word on their lips they become more brazen and even began to push against the shield wall of the church militant. Chromatica accepted.

    With her fate uncertain, and her people starving, Chromatica went back inside the temple and put the strangers to work. She sent one of the strangers who had survived the forest once into the woods North of the mountain to find a Knight Sol named Loken who had once heard the voice of The Goddess. The others were joined by the Halfling whose sister had been lost and sent to travel The Eyerie to negotiate with the nobility whom she could not.

    The strangers were apparently quite convincing, as the foodstocks of most of the nobility were nearly emptied to be divided and rationed among the people. Only House Ferrus remained unmoved, and when the final stranger returned with Loken even they were swayed to share their lot.

    The following cycle Chromatica spent some of the magic she had normally devoted to conjuring food and water for her people to equip her newest allies and sent them into the mines. They had done what they could for the living, it was time to grant what peace they could to the dead.
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    Re: The City on the Mountain is no more

    Post by ScreamPaste on Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:27 pm

    V. The Storm


    As the time approached for the group of strangers to make their move dark clouds began to form on the Northern horizon and a powerful wind blew Southward over the mountain top. The crowd outside the temple had finally become orderly and peaceful, appeased by the promise of a trial. The clouds seemed a bad omen.

    The strangers left for the mines with a wagon for the bodies of the workers, and the clergy used their magic to conjure what food and water they could. That Chromatica's offering was less than it otherwise would have been did not go unnoticed. No sooner than the strangers left the city walls to cross the river and enter the mines a fierce, frozen gale swept through the city. The winds carried the dark clouds nearer by the moment, and most of the crowd dispersed for shelter.

    For a few hours things seemed strangely still. The streets were empty, and the temple square finally free of the screaming mob that had been stationed there near ceaselessly. And then the screaming started.

    People bolted out into the rapidly flooding streets as the rain fell hard and dense and cold. The clouds darkened the sky, obscuring the city from Helia's protective gaze and an army shades streaked over the mountain, across the sky, out from walls, and up from the ground. An endless torrent of thousands of shrieking black shadows that stole warmth and life with a touch swarmed over the city from every direction.

    Stiff, frozen bodies floated through the flooding streets and tangled into grotesque dams that raised the water level yet higher. There was no shelter, no place safe from the shades without the light of the Sun. So the hardy people of The Eyerie made their own. Lanterns and furniture were smashed and buildings lit ablaze. People made light with which to fight back. The streets were a whirl of violence and terror as the combined population of the city made a fighting retreat toward Helia's temple at the city center. The clergy ordered the church militant to set all of the nearby buildings aflame and they formed a protective circle around everyone who made it to the city's center.

    Spells of light and flame were spread around the temple square to weaken the shades, and the clergy and the knights and sergeants of the order Sol fought side by side with the men at arms of the noble houses and any able bodied worker who had thought to bring a tool or weapon. Chromatica stood her ground on the front lines, always keeping a watchful eye on Anna.

    The strangers returned, exhausted from their battle in the mines, but determined none the less. They took up arms in the battle and helped to hold the line and fuel the fires to hold back the darkness.

    The fight was hard, and drawn out. Flashes of lightning illuminated something massive and winged circling overhead while the shades used darkness like puppet strings to possess the dead and sleeping. When the storm finally passed less than a tenth of the city's population remained. The Eyerie itself had become a tower of silence.
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    Re: The City on the Mountain is no more

    Post by ScreamPaste on Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:00 am

    VI. Acceptance and Death


    The clouds passed and revealed a diminished and beaten city to Her Sunlight. For every person who had survived ten others had not. Every street, alley, and building had been turned into a tomb. Most had died running, but some had died fighting. Over and over again the story told by adult bodies lying only meters away from the bodies of children played itself out.

    The living gathered the stiff, marble white bodies of their friends and family and laid them face up in the streets and along the outer walls. There simply were too many to ever build enough towers. One by one, each was given their rites in the light of Sun by the remaining members of the church.

    At the cycle's end a meeting was called at the temple. Chromatica stood before her people and told them what she felt to be truth; the Eyerie could not be saved. The city meant nothing anymore, and the only remaining things of any value were the lives of its people. She announced her plan to send the travelers to Arcanum and ask for an evacuation.

    Then she started a spirit fire and began to call names into it. The names primarily of people lost only hours before, but other names, too. Not everyone answered. It became clear from the words of those who did that the shades were even harming the rest of the dead.

    As Chromatica called each name into the fire in turn she grew weaker, and near the end she could barely stand, and her hair stuck to her sweat soaked brow. Still, she called more. Names of people important to the travelers on whom she had relied so heavily for the past several cycles. A small thank you from her to them for all they had done. When the ritual ended, the people dispersed and took their rest. Not long after, the travelers left the city, taking the Halfling summoner and Chromatica's protege, Anna, with them.

    And for the week after they left, the city was unnaturally silent. There were no killings, no more attacks by the shades. Only whispers between the survivors. The clergy eventually finished giving rites to the dead, and they continued to use their magic to feed their people. But there was no happiness, ease, or contentment. Only a pervading sense of loss as the moments counted down to Chromatica's trial.

    The High Priestess refused to eat as the time approached, not out of protest, or due to anxiety; she didn't want the food to go to waste. There was little doubt she would be found guilty, the attack by the shades had come only hours after her agreement to a trial and nearly wiped out the city. Almost no one remained to speak for her.

    She said a prayer at the top of the cycle, fed her people, and then invited them into the temple to argue her guilt or innocence. She sat quietly during the trial, and listened. In the end only her own knights and a few citizens stood by her. She was sentenced to execution by beheading, and given one cycle to make peace.

    When the time came it was she who led the knight chosen for the task to the square, and not the other way around. She took a kneel, and bowed her head. Her body was laid on the temple altar, and a wreath of flowers was woven and placed around her neck to obscure the killing wound.

    After her execution the city seemed to truly die. It began rot in the blazing heat of Helia's light. Without the High Priestess the clergy could no longer produce enough food, tend to the sick and weak, or shelter the fragile. Hundreds starved, died of exposure to the elements, or took their own lives. The people realized too late what they had done.
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    Re: The City on the Mountain is no more

    Post by ScreamPaste on Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:26 am

    VII. Salvation by Fire


    The population continued to dwindle. The sick festered, and the weak perished. The heat of the Sun was relentless and punishing. The people whispered of divine punishment, and they began to pray for mercy.

    When salvation finally came it was in a flash of fire. The travelers reappeared in the temple square with the Hieraphain standing at their center. They quickly split up to gather the people while Kara climbed the steps to the temple. The woman who emerged was not the same one that had gone inside.

    The composed, friendly Kara who had often visited the city, who had favoured the city's festivals above all others, who had approved Chromatica's plan to help her people, was nowhere to be seen in the seething beacon of fury that descended the steps. She extended a hand to her side and the sky bled.

    Clouds of smoke and fire birthed themselves from the sweltering sky as Kara hissed rebukes, and her words sent a ripple through the air that grasped at the minds of the people. One by one every living survivor walked to the temple square and took a knee. They organized themselves into perfect rows as the clouds above began to circle, trapping the people inside the eye of the storm while a column of angry Sunlight poured down its center.

    The Hieraphain balled her extended fist and the storm touched down. Fire began to rain on the city, tearing apart everything it touched. The wind howled and swept walls of flame across the ground to scour it flat while lightning illuminated silhouettes of the shrinking skyline. Ash and soot danced in the air to coat the prostrate survivors as they were forced to witness their city's destruction.

    Kara directed the storm with gestures like a mad composer. Cyclones of flame tore through buildings, lightning arced between the walls, houses, towers, and streets. Stone crumbled, steel melted to slag, wood exploded into ash. The heat in the air was suffocating. Thousands of years of history was erased and blown away in the wind. The storm condensed the power of the elements into a single, focused scream.

    Slowly the storm spread outward, until there was nothing left to destroy. The clouds dissipated back into the nothing they'd come from, the winds tapered off, and the fires died down. In the end the Eyerie was a flattened ring of ash and rubble. Only the temple at the city's center remained standing. Kara dropped her arm back to her side, the people regained control of their bodies, and most quaked in fear. None dared to move from the square.

    Everyone expected Kara to speak, to rebuke and chastise them further. She didn't. Instead she seemed to switch off entirely. She told the nearest of the travelers that Chromatica could never have left the temple, anyway.

    The Hieraphain looked for a long time at the mass of sick, starving, and terrified people before her. The city was gone, and there was nothing left to tie them to the site, so she did the last thing Chromatica had asked of her, save their lives.

    The survivors were led out of the city on foot, and through the Benevolent Wood with Kara at the front of the column. A supply convoy protected by the Knights Sol met them halfway. The people were fed, clothed, and protected. At great cost, they had survived, but The City on the Mountain was no more.

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