Portal Breach: The Collision of Worlds :: v.4.0


    Trees? What Trees?

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    Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Prixlezub on Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:05 pm

    Time: Sunset
    Date: February 8, 0004

    Through the mountain pass the duo had traveled, coarse sands meeting their combined hooves and claws as they had emerged in the wastes. From there, the demon prince had kept their travel strictly to a hard gallop as they paced through the thousands of miles that lay between them and their destination. Sandstone buttes and lush, grassy meadows were passed in a blur and a rush of suffocatingly hot air. As they traveled further south, the air warmed with them, until their own fiery heat was rivaled by the thick, humid atmosphere that hung like a dense blanket upon the swamplands.

    Upon arrival the demon trotted to a halt, the soft, muddy earth sizzling and steaming underfoot as it was hardened into dust and soon after... it bubbled up into his telltale trail of magma. Despite the length of time it took for them to travel from one end of the continent to another, the massive demon did not seem to even require deep, puffing breaths as he took in his surroundings, save for the thick plumes of black, sooty smoke that was bumped from his grill as he thundered to a halt from his prior gallop. Such a span of distance was nary a trifle for the prince, his form used to running for far longer at the same pace they had held. Zurg however... The demon turned his horned head to look back at the smaller demon, the two containers upon his hips shifting slightly as he stepped.

    Certainly, he had held up during their long run, unbroken by breaks for rest or food. In fact, he seemed to enjoy stretching his legs and marveling at his new found form. Even so, the body the alien held was that of a younger demon, barely a sub-adult by their standards. While Prixlezub did appreciate that his charge could indeed keep up with him over their journey, there were certain details that kept coming to mind. The fact that the smaller demon likely did not have the same amount of stamina as he did and may require a break. Either for food or rest.

    Food of course was most likely, as their kind was not known for frequent pauses for rest.

    "If you require food, there are plenty of creatures to devour. However, we should keep moving while you forage. There are other things besides the native wildlife that may lurk within this place." He advised, his head already turning back to face the quickly darkening swamp ahead. He leaned his head down to sample the scents off the damp ground in deep, smoky huffs.

    Vegetation, methane, the musky scents of the local wildlife, and the ever present aroma of decay filled his nostrils. However, the one scent he had been most interested in picking up had thankfully not made an appearance this eve. Yes, the prince was well aware that the Nazaj'ir had been thoroughly defeated and sent retreating back into the ocean, however the demon was not so foolish to believe that they had completely given up on sinking the land beneath the waves for the sake of their deity. A place that was a delightful mix of both land sea would be a good start for a second infiltration of the jungles, whether it be aggressive or for the sake of reconnaissance. Especially after a long span of quiet.

    Stumbling upon a temporary scouting outpost was something he would rather avoid so long as Zurg was in an unfamiliar form. Which reminded him... "Keep your ears and nostrils open for anything unusual. We likely will not encounter anything too troublesome but it is wise to keep one's guard up." He rumbled, nodding ahead to the thick trees. With how dark it was getting with the sun's setting, the trees ahead took on an orange glow as the demon's eyes brightened to part the shadow. "In August, during the campaign I followed down to the jungles, our group encountered Nazaj'ir along this land bridge. Likely they are still recovering from their defeat, however to think they are completely dormant would be folly." He explained evenly. Telling the demon to keep close of course would be redundant, given his statement.

    What life signatures that the two did not pick up in the immediate radius were illuminated further ahead, numerous pinpricks of glowing eyes peering back at them where the firelight barely reached. If the smaller demon was wondering how they would be passing through the dense, thick trees further in? All he needed to do was observe as the prince lumbered up to a large, vine covered cypress tree that happened to be in his way.

    CR-CRACK!

    With one toss of the demon's head, his horns stabbed into the tree's thick trunk to snap it nearly clean off before throwing it aside. What was once an old growth tree was now a fallen log, sunken into the deep trench that its landing had punched into the soft earth. Such a feat had sent a few of the smaller animals into a panic, warning calls raising in hysteric chatters and whooping.

    Best not to stare at the demon's display of power for too long, he was already moving deeper into the swamp.
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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Zurg on Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:23 pm

    What a rush!

    Zurg loved to run. No, that was a severe understatement. There wasn't a word in the entire Basic language to express how much the tinier monarch liked to run. To feel the wind whistling past the curve of his horns... To feel the earth quake beneath the might of both paw and hoof... Ah yes, yes... To run was to be alive, to run was to be free. It was in his very blood to run and traverse the land as it was meant to be enjoyed. Nevertheless, Zurg could not run forever.

    Muscles shivered and smoke billowed; the newly-formed demon lagged further and further behind his gargantuan charge, yet he did not lose heart. A trying journey, to be sure. Perhaps one of the hardest treks ever undertaken. But still the alien continued, claws digging into the earth and his fiery mane trailing. It was by some stroke of fortune that Prixlezub commented about needing sustenance. Never before had Zurg been so eager to clamp his jaws around supple flesh. "Duly noted," he rumbled. If the demon was swift enough, maybe he would have the luxury of dining upon several choice cuts of the various aquatic reptiles. They were certainly aplenty and the ecosystem wouldn't suffer an irreparable dent. Decay filled the monarch's nostrils and his maw crackled with embers. Beyond that, he could make out the scents of wildlife and methane. Ah, to yet again be in a swamp... What's this about keeping one's guard, however? "Nazaj'ir..." There was that name again.

    A name he had heard but could not associate a face with.

    "My senses are open," Zurg assured. Open for what, he didn't know, but they were on full alert. An orange glow illuminated the way as Prixlezub charged ahead, a mighty cypress tree effortlessly uprooted. Shards of bark went flying through the air as frightened animals hastily scurried away from the larger demon's display of raw power. A poor decision on their behalves.

    Robust jaws snapped and so did brittle necks, fangs tearing through skin and bone. Whatever the monarch could quickly snatch up, no matter the creature, he devoured hungrily and discriminated not. Zurg was simply grateful for a bite. Heeding his towering guide's stern warning, he faithfully kept close behind Prixlezub and refrained from lingering. There will be more opportunities to eat and rest, but this was not one of them. "So, what were the Nazaj'ir like?" Zurg asked. Just an innocent subject of interest to pass the time through these murky waters.


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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Prixlezub on Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:08 pm

    If the demon prince had not suspected Zurg to be hungry before, there was little reason now. For why would one need to suspect when the evidence was unfolding right before them? Any morsel that scampered into the younger demon's path was eagerly snapped up, whether it be mammal, reptile, bird or fish. With how shallow they were into the swamp currently, the demon held no reason to worry or instruct Zurg to be mindful of what he devoured. Likely they would not encounter a single sapient being until they reached the middle of the swamp or upon reaching the jungles themselves.

    With how ravenous he was, however, the prince doubted that his senses would be open for enemies as well as prey. Thus, he wordlessly kept vigilant as he lumbered forth into the swamp, a cacophony of splitting wood and falling trees echoing through the swamp with each toss of his head. Although, as they trekked further in, Zurg may notice that the water was not all that still. In the deeper pools and rivers they passed over, the water's surface split with a multitude of flying bodies. Large carp also made their home here, and were quite eager to jump out of their aquatic homes once they began to boil from a hoof or claw stomping into it. Smoke plumed from the demon's maw as he continued to knock down a path for the both of them to follow, refusing to take pause even as his charge asked about the Nazaj'ir.

    "The Nazaj'ir are a race of serpents, they are colorful and finned, much like a fish, and like them as well they are most at home in the water. However, this does not mean they are not dangerous on land. They can utilize both weapons and magic in a fight, but I have found that their abilities are oddly subject to gender. The females are more likely to use magic than the males would." Another crash of timber ensured that there would be little silence to indulge in, especially as the trees grew ever more thick. The twinkling eyes that had readily observed them quickly were snuffed out as they fled, although a few began to spring up to the side of them, ever curious about how dared to trespass into their territory. "It is not challenging to tell the females apart from the males either. The females are slender creatures, resembling a human from the waist up in terms of shape, even their faces look like a mix between human and serpent. Otherwise, all familiarity to a human stops there, as they possess four arms instead of two, alongside the obvious differences. The males interestingly enough are far more bestial. Powerful in body, with a face that resembles a crocodile with tentacle that dangle from their jaw and chin. Although I have seen some that have a shell-like head.Despite the differences in their appearance, they all reek of the sea." He explained between shoving down trees, an effort that was hardly taxing on the prince, despite having taken the entire day to run to the swamp.

    Ever pool and pond he stepped into hissed boiled violently, its denizens fleeing for the far cooler shores. Crocodiles, fish and amphibians alike all took to the land, but even their hasty escape was not fast enough to spare them from receiving deep burns upon their flesh. To kill them would be quite merciful should Zurg decide to snap up the unfortunate morsels.

    Of course, Zurg had asked what the Nazaj'ir were like, which covered far more than their appearance. At this, the demon rumbled thoughtfully, pushing down two trees that had somehow grown to weave into each other with just as little an effort as the ones before it. "They are a highly zealous race, obsessed with sinking land beneath sea for the sake of their leader, along with enslaving anyone they came across. During the expedition to the jungles, they had been interested in finding a sort of stone, an artifact that may have been important to their cause. They also had managed to summon a massive beast from the depths of the ocean and sent it to attack the Ss'ruul's main city." He went on, every moment was another few steps into the swamp. By now, despite how little time they had spent walking, the grasslands had already disappeared behind them, the two demons now surrounded completely by cypress trees and murky water where muddy earth was not available.

    Not that it would matter, the demon's hide was thick enough that the distinction between water and earth was nigh perceptible.
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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Zurg on Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:34 am

    ..Sss!

    Tepid waters churned and boiled, Zurg sharply retracting a paw. Right, right... He had nearly forgotten that Prixlezub's fiery element was naturally opposed to its antagonistic kin. The smaller demon gingerly waded through the aromatic swamp much like an intrigued cat would to a chilly pond. His careful steps were not without consequence, however, or that of the demon prince's own.

    Large carps frantically threw themselves into the air, scales glistening, and it became apparent as to why: they were burning. A pang of guilt ran though the monarch's mind and he felt pity for the gentle creatures. "Like fish, is that right?" Pay attention, now. The demon prince would not take kindly to wasting both his time and his words. Zurg quickly plucked as many carps as he could from the bubbling pools surrounding his heated limbs and did his best to relieve their suffering. They were plopped into his maw with a satisfying crackle, the air smelling heavily of roasted fish. In a handful of seconds he was already taking his place behind Prixlezub's mammoth tail. "And fish with sexual dimorphism that drastic? Huh, I wonder if they had been something else in their ancestry..." he pondered aloud. The thought became a reality once it was established that the Nazaj'ir sexes were not made equal; females sounded by far more graceful than their male counterparts, though they paled in comparison to the latter's brawny description. Zurg lapsed into silence as he processed this new information, occasionally glancing to his peripherals to better note the dozens of frightened, curious eyes of the native wildlife.

    "I am... rather impressed that an entire race of intelligent beings has remained hidden from the overall populace for so long," he remarked quietly. The smaller demon deftly leaped over a fallen piece of tree trunk and felt energy returning to his body. It seemed his modest snack had helped, yet those meager bites were far from enough. Zurg took it upon himself to dine on a few wounded crocodiles and ended their tortured existence.

    Mercy, after all, was something he was intimate with.

    "They are a highly zealous race, obsessed with sinking land beneath sea for the sake of their leader, along with enslaving anyone they came across. During the expedition to the jungles, they had been interested in finding a sort of stone, an artifact that may have been important to their cause. They also had managed to summon a massive beast from the depths of the ocean and sent it to attack the Ss'ruul's main city."

    That was mildly... troubling. The monarch craned his thick neck upward and wore the equivalent of a small frown. "Hmm, I don't think I like the sound of that..." Sinking the land beneath the sea? Ugh, Zurg absolutely despised deep water habitats. "Don't like the sound of them being slavers, either." Terrific, just what everyone needed. He didn't see it necessary to inquire further about how the Nazaj'ir managed to summon a leviathan from the oceanic depths (transporting matter was rather commonplace), though... "Stone?" he inquired, his curiosity successfully teased. "If you don't mind me asking, Prixlezub, what did the Nazaj'ir want with a stone?" Zealous slavers, magical capabilities, and now ancient artifacts... Sounded like one of those B-movie adventure vids Jo liked so darned much.


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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Prixlezub on Sat Feb 28, 2015 11:26 pm

    The sharp snapping of dense wood continued to echo into the night, by now its cacophony may as well be background noise to their travel, mingling with the combined thunder of the two demons' heavy footfalls. Their travel already carried them into deeper waters, quicksand bogs and thick mud that would have swallowed any smaller, lesser being traversed easily as they bubbled and boiled with an angry hiss of steam and the phlegmatic gurgle of baking mud as it dried at their passing. Small creatures that resided in the mire squealed and scrambled to escape before they were boiled alive. The deeper waters, which they would come up to a human's waist, only sank the prince's legs up to a little higher than his wrists and fetlocks.

    Certainly, it was a pity that the swamp residents could not all spare themselves from being boiled alive, but all the same, the prince could do little to ease their pain, save for moving swiftly through the swamp. All the same, Zurg was able to nab an easy meal from the wounded, fleeing creatures. Despite all the dim glows of life energy that raced or flopped the monarch's way, he thankfully remained a very good listener. Already he had voiced a very good question, even if it was only thinking aloud. "They may have been something else at one time, perhaps cursed to their forms. Although we only know little of them aside from their behavior and motives. Their biology, culture, history... These all remain a mystery. When they return from the oceans again we may have an opportunity to answer these questions." Prixlezub replied, shoving aside another tree with his horns as they continued.

    Indeed, it was rather impressive they remained hidden for so long, but such matters were not all that rare. "Not many on this planet are interested in what lies at the depths of the ocean, Zurg. Any who do venture beneath its waves do so only out of necessity." Such as when the seas had been plagued by a massive beast back during the incident with SIR. "Just as many do not wish to venture into the frozen north or any other uncharted lands that could mean their own demise, uncharted places that hold secrets both dangerous and priceless. The people of Portal Breach are far more complacent in staying within the safety of the city and the more peaceful biomes than one may think." Came his methodical answer. A pity, that. There was so much waiting at the bottom of the sea, within the depths of deep caves of the mountains and the icy tundra of the north.

    Even if such secrets were not of material worth, a well remembered memory, a tale that could be passed down through generations was even more so.

    All the same, the demon was grateful as well that his territory remained undisturbed. None so far had traveled so deep into the frigid north to come across his kingdom of charred stone and fire... As Zurg listened on, he rightfully did not find their methods to be very appealing, sinking the land beneath the water and slavery resting with a sickening flavor upon his tongue. The talk of the artifact they had been searching for however, that certainly had piqued his curiosity, quick to inquire further on the subject. "Hmm..." The demon rumbled thoughtfully recalling that fateful evening at the Nazaj'ir's slave quarry, the obelisk that sat at the very bottom. "It was a massive construct, both made of stone and metal. When I had been able to witness it, the stone was covered in these glowing runes, and a purple field encompassed it.  However, I am unsure if the protective field emanated from the stone itself or the creature that was channeling in front of it. I had never seen the creature again, but it too was monstrous. Much like the Nazaj'ir it was covered in scales, but it lacked their serpentine build. No, it looked much like some form of giant had borne spawn with a octopus. Its face was made of up tentacles, as were its arms and hands. From the armor it wore, I could only ponder that it could have been of a high rank, or at the very least important enough to warrant not needing to wear full body armor. Aside from a pair of pauldrons and a scaled cingulum, he was bare. Even so, his armor looked more decorative than functional." Prixlezub reasoned. Ah, but that was not what Zurg was curious about, he wished to know more about the artifact! Although Zurg would be disappointed to find that there was little else the prince could say on the matter...

    "The field around the artifact prevented any of our parting from harming the creature that was busy channeling, and by the time we had finished off the three who were guarding the stone, both the tentacled creature and the artifact had left in a burst of light." He finished, although his final words on the matter of the mysterious artifact were not punctuated by the sound of crashing trees. The reason being?... Well, there were none, for the duo had come across a clearing.

    The number of old, fallen trees that were growing some manner of fungus or moss that littered the area made it all too apparent that this was not made by any natural means. The bright orange glow of the demon's eyes reflected off of the dark water, pausing for a moment to examine it. Could this have been?... The demon lumbered out and over to one of the logs, the water becoming deep enough that it swallowed his massive form up to his elbows. Steam roiled and billowed around him with a loud, sharp hiss as his body temperature boiled the water. Once having waded out to one of the logs, he dipped his nose to it and he took a few deep snuffs of the wood. "Hm..." There was that scent of salt water, albeit very faint, having been broken down over time and buried beneath the natural smell of the bog. "Zurg, I believe we may have come across one of the beast's footprints." he rumbled, lifting his head to look back to the smaller demon. "It is old, over a year since our group had traveled here and likely only a fraction longer since the creature had been summoned from the deep." He rumbled.

    As fascinating as this all was, they still needed to keep moving. Should Zurg be wary of the deeper portions of the water, he would find the banks were sturdy enough for his weight. Although he would find their edges dipped in a way much like the edge of a massive paw.
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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Zurg on Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:39 am

    It was indeed a pity, but do storms pity the drowned? Zurg disregarded the waning life signatures and instead focused on what mattered: the thunder of Prixlezub's voice and of the mysterious denizens of the deep. "A mystery..." he repeated quietly. The alien didn't need to be reminded of just how covetous the ocean could be of its secrets. Lazy flames crackled as Zurg shook his boxy head. "It would be ill-advised to wait until these slithering warlords come bubbling up from the sea. If they are truly a threat and capable of wanton destruction, as evidenced during your previous jungle excursion, then we would fare far better by being proactive." And that meant boiling the slimy things alive, if need be.

    But it was true that not many thought it desirable to explore outside their borders. Most of Portal Breach's populace had become quite content within its protective walls, where the threat of death posed little meaning. Ah, but convenience oftentimes bred complacency, did it not? "I am not surprised that there is a hidden civilization deep beneath those cerulean waves," the alien agreed, "though I personally have no desire to explore them. This world can have all the priceless treasures and all-powerful artifacts; none allure me as they once had." Whatever for, hmm? Zurg had everything he needed right on 4224 Monitor Lane, and he had a disagreeable planet to fret over. There could be untold riches lying about the deepest of sea trenches, yes. Just as there could be godly trinkets waiting to be discovered beneath tons upon tons of ice and snow. Neither were particularly appetizing to the alien's mellowed palette. To an opportunistic conqueror, however... Six inquisitive eyes drew upon the demon prince's muscular neck, plumes of contemplative smoke escaping his lesser's grill.

    Perhaps, perhaps... It remained to be seen if a world that constantly refreshes was worth any tribute at all.

    The talk of this aquatic general, this... tentacle-faced monstrosity born from the strangest of otherworldly horror stories, was of a more passing interest. Being an alien himself and unfazed by peculiar oddities, Zurg had seen plenty of nasty wriggly things. Octopoidals, for a start. As grotesque as they were thick in the head. Perfect thug material.

    "Still doesn't explain why they bothered with such an obelisk in the first place," he spoke up. It had to be of some importance if a commanding unit made off with it, but why? And why would creatures of the sea bother with forgotten relics of their earthly neighbours? A pensive hum escaped the smaller demon's throat, yet he was just as incapable of answering the riddle as Prixlezub was. "Runes and teleporation..." he muttered, a paw idly rubbing his hardened chin. No, something like that certainly doesn't ring a bell. Possibly magical in origin? Yes, sounded like it. "The only source of arcana I've seen on all my time here would be the mystical Isle of Avalon. But if there are other mysterious lands... and ones that have never been seen by any of our eyes..." Well, that just goes to show, doesn't it? Zurg's collection of Portal Breach history was entirely useless. The obelisk couldn't have been from Avalon and it definitely wasn't a remnant from that boy and his wretched book, bleurgh. A shiver raced down Zurg's spine at the memory.

    "Zurg, I believe we may have come across one of the beast's footprints."

    Hm...?

    Oh yes, yes.

    The smaller demon tentatively waded over, the bog's muck swirling around his heated shoulders, and he took a few hearty sniffs of mouldly log for himself. Sniff, sniff! Ick, that's one mouldly log. Zurg tossed his mane at the unwanted scent, a portion of his lips parting in disgust. And there's a smattering of sea water, too... Anyway, what's this about a footprint? He didn't see any, although...

    Talons sank into the muddy silt, each curved tip gingerly feeling for any defining impression or feature. Alas... Prixlezub wasn't kidding when he said that his kind weren't the most receptive of touch. Nevertheless, Zurg made do with what he was given and could faintly grasp just how gargantuan this beast must have been. "And this is why I positively hate the ocean..." he grumbled. Everything was wet, everything was huge... The entire thing was more trouble than it was worth, and the things that called it home were even more so. Just ask the resident lizard folk!



    ((Super sorry for the long wait.))


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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Prixlezub on Sun May 03, 2015 1:25 am

    A covetous of its secrets as it was vast, even if it were proposed that the denizens of the breach were to boil the Nazaj'ir, they still had to find them first. "Of course, if their goals succeed on the southern continent, they could just as easily bring the fight to us. However, if the Nazaj'ir are capable of summoning a monstrous beast from the ocean depths to assault an entire city they could just as easily move themselves elsewhere should a plan to wipe them out goes awry." Prixlezub explained evenly, pondering the notion before adding one final thought. "That is, if we are to eradicate them, it needs to be swift, thorough, and above all done with the greatest competence. A very small minority of people upon this planet have all three, and even they can fail at their assigned task. " As for the welfare of the sea? it could easily refresh after the deed was done. Although that too brought up another point to be discussed. "Should the Nazaj'ir return from the pool after their eradication, it should be made sure that they do not recognize their attackers, or at the very least made certain that they return far more feeble than they were previously." Taking and destroying their artifacts for instance, or using them against the Nazaj'ir upon their return. There were plenty of ways to destroy the serpentine creatures, so many that there could be a mile long list written on how to wipe out the primitive nation of sea-serpents.

    Of course, with Zurg's turn to live a more peaceful life with his family, there was little interest in seeking out the treasures that lurk within the deep. His disinterest was expected, but as for the prince... Hidden by his muscular neck and boxy features, a glint of thought passed over his six fiery eyes. "For the best, I suppose." The larger demon rumbled. "Jo may throw a fit if you returned home with some obscure arcane artifact." Not to mention what hell may break loose should the artifact in question happen to be activated by idle hands. Regardless, the prince's jest was only that.

    While the general himself was not worth further inquiry, the obelisk however was far more interesting. "A general has his commander just as his underlings answer to him. The only way to truly know would be to seek answers from the one who is at the highest part of the command chain. In this case, it would be their Lady and her ascension." Came the demon's matter-of-fact answer. However, he knew what the monarch was asking, what part did the obelisk play in the grand scheme of sinking the continent beneath the ocean? "Although, I have speculated that the obelisk has a sister artifact within the Ss'ruul city, Tz'tchotlan. It was there that the beast had attacked, why else would one wish to use such force to decimate the city if not to ensure that their Lady's ascension was completed?" The demon reasoned, falling silent as he listened to Zurg's thoughts regarding the obelisk.

    Befitting a more technology-driven mind such as his, the monarch's knowledge of the arcane was quite limited. neither originating from Avalon or any other magical event upon Portal Breach, Zurg was, for lack of any other word, stumped.

    "If there is time during our travel to do so, we shall have to visit Tz'tchotlan further." For the demon to seek out what may be lurking behind the city's walls, and for Zurg to seek out... well... Anything that caught his eye.

    In the meantime there was a footprint, and a young demon who was disgusted at the scent of the sea. The prince gave a small chuckle at Zurg's reaction, along with his attempt to feel out the depression that had been since eroded. "Indeed." He came to agree, wading out from the muddy depression and back onto the shore. In his wake a plethora of fish rose to the top of the deep water, boiled alive by the prince's fiery presence. "We need not worry about the ocean here. However, there are spirits that haunt this place. Wisps, remnants of the drowned who wish for others to join them. To us they are harmless, but I would rather you stay by my side than wander off after them." He rumbled.

    With that, they were back on the prince's decided path, the crash of trees resounding through the darkness as he pressed forward. In his wake, Zurg may notice that their trek into the deep swamps had brought forth more than just curious eyes of native creatures. Quiet mutterings that tickle sensitive ears, and pale glowing orbs bobbing about at the very edge of the light that their fiery presences produced.
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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Zurg on Mon May 11, 2015 11:15 pm

    "Hmph..." scoffed the smaller of the two demons. He was swift, he was thorough, and above all he possessed great competence. It was honestly be nothing special, perhaps the equivalent of a nice Sunday afternoon, for Zurg to eradicate their resident fish-men. The Cosmos already know that he'd wiped out disobedient civilizations as if they were nothing more than matchsticks. What made these slavers any different, aside from their foreign magics and ensconced water citadels? "Should it be decided that we war with these slimy creatures," began the monarch, confidence lacing his fiery tongue, "then I will personally make certain that the Nazaj'ir regret ever evolving to the status of higher intelligence." And that was not a threat the ex-Evil Emperor made lightly, though it could be said that he made it easily. Of course, there would be the issue regarding Jo; Prixlezub was already cognizant of the mechanic's... eh, displeasure with such tactics.

    War was war, woman!

    Yet the hungering flame within Zurg's eyes faded with a silent fizzle, the predator inside his breast relenting. "Yes, it is for the best," he agreed, heavy tail swaying to and fro. "Those days are behind me, and there would be no point in bringing an artifact to the dinner table." That was just asking for trouble. The cats would just get their nosy paws all over it, besides.

    The only way to truly know would be to seek answers from the one who is at the highest part of the command chain. In this case, it would be their Lady and her ascension."

    "Then we need to find their lady," mused the demon.

    Easier said than done, for there wasn't a soul above the water's treacherously calm edge that knew the location of the Nazaj'ir city. Perhaps these lizard-men Zurg kept hearing about, but seldom else beyond them. Prixlezub's words shed further light upon the situation and the monarch found his overseer's hypothesis worthy of merit. "That does make sense, doesn't it? Why else would these thieving brutes invade another kingdom if not to either acquire warm bodies, treasures, or valuable pieces to their enigmatic puzzle?" Ascension... No, sounded nothing good at all, and these two warring civilizations must have two halves of the device. Ah, but they were getting mighty ahead of themselves! So much was missing, so much relied heavily on speculation... More evidence was required further.

    "If we have time, that would be wonderful. I'd very much like to see these lizard-men for my own eyes." Them and their precious golden city. But first, there was the matter of vindictive bog spirits... Prixlezub's warning was enough to get Zurg leaping towards him, eyes darting frantically around and his tail raised defensively. Supernatural things, Cosmos no! He tucked himself closely to Prixlezub's thick legs and did not forsake his guardian's massive side.

    And lo, the whispering - the tickled sweet-nothings and the bobbing orbs of wicked lights.

    Hurry it up, Prixlezub!


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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Prixlezub on Thu May 14, 2015 4:42 pm

    What were the differences between this civilization and any other the monarch had conquered? While the demon held full confidence that Zurg could wipe out any civilization he so chose, there was still a matter of his tendency to underestimate his opponents... Point in case being their rivalry. All the same, this was not the Evil Emperor Zurg he was speaking to, a tyrant who enjoyed toying with his prey and throwing his weight around  to show who was in charge. Should he decide to use force against the slavers, likely it would be only for the best of intentions and with only the best quality of work to ensure they would not return to their former glory.

    "Very well." Prixlezub rumbled in reply, "I have recognized your handiwork in the past, certainly you should be able to wipe out a primitive race such as them. However, if you do so, I would suggest you find out how they summon monstrosities that are hundreds of feet and tall and swiftly disable it." Even if Jo was going to be displeased with the ordeal, the demon figured she likely would understand just what the stakes would be if they were allowed to survive. Alas, even as the words rolled from his maw, the flame within his eyes began to die down a little, the days of conquest were behind him.

    A pity, it was nice to see a glimpse of what used to be every once in a while.

    As for the Lady? Zurg would find himself mildly disappointed. "I am afraid even if we were to capture her and go through the motions of extracting her secrets, neither intense interrogation, nor torture techniques would make her speak, if she is anything like her followers. The serpents are zealously loyal to the point of carrying information to the grave if need be." The prince replied thoughtfully, for a few moments there was only the sound of tress crashing to the ground to either side as he pushed his way further into the swamp. At once there was a rumbling chuckle that made the air and earth shudder, the reason soon elaborated. "Perhaps you would make use of that device that was built for picking one's brain should she be captured." He offered, tilting his head slightly so the smaller of their duo could see the makings of a toothy, metallic smile.

    His gaze soon turned back ahead to toss aside another of the swamp's willowy trees with his horns. Yes, it would make sense that the Nazaj'ir would attack the city in order to complete its goals, but the prince was a little more confident that another artifact was inside the city. After all, why did the beast take pause when he has spoken of his suspicions to the General? Why had it sought out his crimson hide directly after instead of resuming its attack on the wall and fighting off its attackers? The beast had been summoned and controlled directly, to the point where its master had been able to hear and see everything that it did. That could be the only explanation as to why its rage was so... Precise. "Indeed." Came the prince's distant reply, all too focused on pondering this predicament while he was uprooting tree after tree.

    THUMP!

    His thoughts were interrupted by the shuddering of the earth around him, glancing back to see a very spooked Zurg. The reason why was not so hard to deduce, he could hear the same whispers tickling at his ears as well. Instead of hurrying up, however, he merely gave the smaller demon a word of advice as he continued to move along, unphased by the tiny, tennis-ball sized spirits. "When the party and I passed through here some time back, our guide was able to disperse them by shouting for them to leave. It was rather intriguing, the tiny things actually burst like soap bubbles with a shriek." Prixlezub calmly rumbled, another swamp tree shunted aside with a thud as he kept moving. "Why not try it for yourself?"

    They were a minute fraction of your size, Zurg! What harm could come of giving them a good yelling? Besides, there were far more insidious thing that lurked here besides these little spirits.
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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Zurg on Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:23 pm

    Alas, it was indeed true. The monarch had a long record of underestimating his opponents, but such was the weight of hubris. Nevertheless, the alien was greatly aware of just how threatening the wild races of Portal Breach could be. Like summoning giant beasts from the ocean depths, for example. Six flaming eyes again traced the faint outline of a gigantic footprint, inquisitive talons stirring up silt and boiling fauna alike. "If they do so via magics, I'm afraid it will be much harder than rooting out a simple infestation," Zurg rumbled. But should the summonings be of a more technological nature... Well, there was nothing a good EMP blast couldn't cure. "Rest assured, however," he quickly continued, "these slithering snake-men will be no match for a full-scale assault. Ha ha, pun not intended." Old villainous habits die hard.

    "The serpents are zealously loyal to the point of carrying information to the grave if need be."

    "Oh, so they're one of those..." Terrific, terrific... Fanatical zealots were the least fun to deal with, and mainly because they believed in total war to the point of destroying both themselves and the enemy in Pyrrhic victory. Aha, but the mentioning of a certain device was enough of a mood-lifter~! "Ah yes, yes. Getting all that dust off ye olde Cranial Dissector bot would be a good spot of fun."

    Sorry, Jo, but sometimes preventing a planet-wide disaster meant having to get your hands a little dirty.

    By now, their journey into the deep swamps had been relatively uneventful; which was all fine to the monarch, because who honestly needed stress wherever they went? Talking, pondering, scheming the downfall of entire civilization... Zurg wouldn't have it any other way. Er... except for those floaty things, over there. They gave him the mighty spooks, yet Prixlezub was hardly fazed by their ominous presence. Apparently, shouting at the infernal balls of light was enough to disperse them back into whatever void they fluttered out of, though the monarch had his doubts... Suppose he got close to one and prodded it. Would his soul, assuming it existed, really be sucked dry? In case these ill spirits were blind or needed their ghost glasses, the alien wasn't exactly normal-sized at the moment. Eh, what the heck. Let's go poke one with a sharp claw and roar at it stupidly. Because why not, right?

    And so Zurg did, the smaller of the two demons keeping his blocky face low to the water as he skulked over toward a bog light. Alright, here we go... Just one little tap, that's all... Just one, little....

    ...Poink!

    "Shriiiiiiek!"


    "ROOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!"

    Too spoop! Up the monarch went, his limbs thrown to the air, and he high-tailed it back to Prixlezub as if the Boogeyman himself was after the demon. Zurg didn't care what anyone said: spirits were still scary, even if they popped after being yelled at!


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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Prixlezub on Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:27 am

    "I suspect so." The demon rumbled in reply, embers curling alongside smoke from his grill as he toppled yet another ancient behemoth. "The Nazaj'ir are talented in the arcane from what I have observed, and they make no effort of hiding it. There would be no surprise if the more monstrous among them were made that way via this same prowess." He continued, pausing for a moment to acknowledge Zurg's pun with a air shuddering chuckle. A full-scale assault... ah, Zurg, never change. joking aside, wiping out these scaley vermin would be no easy task if they are as magically advanced as they lead on. A thoughtful hum purred from his throat as he pressed forward, felling tree after tree... Hm, it seemed they were starting to grow a little more sturdy. His next arboreal victim was thrown down with a thunderous crack, thudding heavily into the muddy ground.

    "Yes, if we decide to go ahead with this, we will need a few minds to pick. higher ranking ones will likely be more heavily guarded, but the grunts... They will not be missed. We can use them to find the location of their hiding place, that is, if we get lucky and there is only one." Prixlezub mused, his ideas punctuated with another sickening crack of snapping wood, the tree shattering at the base and falling to the side. "...One of the females especially. Of their race, they seem to be used often in the arcane. Once the information we need is gathered, we can still use the ones we captured. After all, a familiar skin is one most trusted, yes?" He went on, turning his head to look back at Zurg briefly, a metallic grin gracing his features. "We make these grunts into our own pawns and send them back with a little something extra, a means to look through their eyes. Yes, it is limited given their rank, but these creatures seem to be eager to find anything that could aid their Lady. If we manage to make them believe that they found something important-" The prince paused, his brows raised for a moment and a grin most wicked stretched across his maw before turning to swipe aside another swamp tree.

    "If these beings are as interested in conquest and power as one may believe, imagine if you will that an artifact be placed for them to chase -a fake one of course- and we let them retrieve it. A grunt would not be scrupulous enough to ponder it, but we just need to convince them that it holds potential. It would be when it is in the presence of a higher up that it would show its true purpose. Something that could swiftly penetrate and enslave the mind upon our command." Prixlezub elaborated, although as he continued pondering this, he paused in his tracks, turning his gaze back to Zurg. That wicked grin upon his features had dissipated, at least somewhat. "However, this leaves too much room for error should there be witnesses or one who is too wise for their own good. I am unsure of how advanced your people truly were, but I must ask... If we were to somehow warp one of these grunts to shift their shape in order to go where we wished, and to take the information we need of their inner workings, how well could this be executed?" He offered, just in time to notice that Zurg was still bothered by their glowing followers.

    Hm, he nearly forgot about all of those with the roll he had been on.

    Although he had instructed him to given them a good yell, it appeared the junior of the duo wished to have a more claws on approach. He had to admit, that little shriek it gave as the wisp was popped upon a sharp talon was music to his ears. Not to mention the display that his friend had given, limbs flailing and roaring with panic, Zurg bee-lined back to the demon prince as if he had seen his own ghost. his thundering had been so loud, it managed to drown out the indignant cries of the others, screaming and wailing before they too popped and dissipated into the night. "Nicely done." Prixlezub chuckled, his eyes flicking over to the small group of wispy spirits, or should he say, lack of them. "You managed to scare off your first will o' the wisp, along with its friends." He lightly praised, raising a heavy paw to pat Zurg on the back. Turning his head back to the way ahead, the demon prince resumed knocking down tree after tree steadily working through the swamp. All was well and the monarch managed to face one of his fears, at least somewhat.

    Now all he had to worry about was what took their place.

    Once again the way they had came was dark and devoid of bobbing, floating orbs
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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Zurg on Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:22 pm

    These poor trees... Zurg watched them be effortlessly shoved aside with idle, unspoken fascination. So many centuries gone in the swift jerk of Prixlezub's hardened tines. It was only upon hearing the word, "Nazaj'ir", that the smaller demon returned his attention to the present. And of course feeling the Demon Prince's thunderous chuckling in his fiery breast. "I doubt there is simply one," he contributed, following close behind Prixlezub's destructive trail. By now Zurg tuned out the boiling hiss of whatever wildlife was unfortunate enough to wade too close. "If these snake creature are as intelligent as you claim, there are no doubt several bases of operation. A main city, perhaps. But it'll no doubt be heavily fortified and carefully obscured from any cursory glance." That didn't factor whatever arcane magics the Nazaj'ir employed in the sinister art of illusion or stealth, either.

    "Once the information we need is gathered, we can still use the ones we captured. After all, a familiar skin is one most trusted, yes?"

    "Hmm..." Mind control was no hard feat; Zurg would easily enthrall a broken and battered subject to his will. Torture was such a misunderstood art. "A grunt would not be too hard to subvert and it would grant us additional insight," he agreed, musing. There were, of course, numerous pitfalls. Prixlezub's weakening grin was indicative of the fact.

    How advanced were the monarch's people...

    A "similar" wicked grin carved itself into Zurg's thick features, though he was still largely unused to this body's facial expressions. He wasted no expense in reassuring the Demon Prince's concerns. "A trick of the light is no big thing," purred the smaller demon, very confident. "An illusion can be arranged, along with the seamless warping of one's vocal patterns. However, need I remind you that science and magic do not always get along? As much as I revel in the thought of stamping these slithering nuisances into the mud, we still do not have much information in regards to their magical prowess and culture. But, assuming we did..." And it was here that the alien-turned-demon gave it some thought, a contemplative paw rubbing his angular chin. "I could perhaps devise an instrument that would be imperceptible to their scrying techniques. Or, maybe, create an obedient clone, imprint its blank mind with Nazaj'ir knowledge, and send it off. An organic robot that can be controlled with nary a few taps of a button, if you will." Was this ethical? Absolutely not, but one cannot be ethical when there was an entire race of bloodthirsty slavers out to ruin your lovely day. Nevertheless, it was very clear that they could not proceed with any plan until they had a crucial component: information. And specifically information about the Nazaj'ir themselves.

    But yes, the wisps.

    The same wisps that had Zurg bolting for cover, because spoops.

    Prixlezub's encouraging gesture of praise had not gone unnoticed, along with his... mm, pat of confidence. The monarch simply lifted his heated nose to the sky and feigned an air of pride. "I wasn't afraid - not even for a nanosecond," huffed he, slayer of wisps. If only, if only.


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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Prixlezub on Fri Jul 17, 2015 12:30 am

    With another toss of his head, the demon undid yet another century of growth, the massive tree falling aside with a snap and thundering as it hit the waterlogged earth. At Zurg's contribution, a plume of pale smoke curled from his grill openings. Of course, there can never be simply one major city, especially in a place so vast as the vast oceans that covered this land. Yes, they could merely go look for other Nazaj'ir cities, but the real question was where to even start? The monster's tracks could be traced, but even then the sight of it being summoned inland was still ingrained in the demon's memory. They could have summoned it close to shore and set it into the swamps from there... Any attempts to track the portal's originating point would be folly at this point as well.

    Searching for a grunt would have to be their next best bet, it seemed. Unless...

    "I wonder how long their conquest for land has gone, and if the Ss'ruul would know anything. It is only reasonable to think that if they had been attacked once, they would take measures to ensure they kept a vigilant eye on them so they would not get taken off guard again." Prixlezub mused thoughtfully "Our search could start with their insight. With nearly a year having passed, something may have been found by now." With that thoughtful statement, the demon prince knocked down a row of densely grown trees with a swipe of his horns, his gaze illuminating an equally dense arrangement ahead. They were getting closer to the swamp's center, it seemed.

    As for the matter regarding infiltrating the Nazaj'ir city, the monarch was confident in his abilities yes, but not so much in them interacting well with the more magical nature of the serpents. "Yes, this is certainly a troublesome matter. However, I believe there may be something that my own arcane abilities may be able to accomplish in this matter." He offered, knocking aside tree after tree even as their numbers grew more dense. Nary a clearing could be found this deep inward, save for some pools of bog water that vaporized at his passing. "In the past I have made use of dominance runes to encourage lesser beings to do my bidding, include making some quick and easy to use spies. The same could be performed on the grunt we capture, with little to no risk of being found out. A clone sounds like it would take a long while to create, as would imprinting memories into its brain. It is a novel idea, but it is best we keep things streamlined." However, in the end they still needed to get started with finding information before they went ahead with anything.

    For now, there was the defeat of the wisps, and Zurg's denial of being frightened by them. Of course you were not, that was why you bolted the moment one of them screamed." Prixlezub rumbled amusedly.
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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Zurg on Wed Jul 22, 2015 9:11 pm

    It must be hard, being so big and all.

    "Don't you find it odd?" Zurg piped up, following after the Demon Prince's destructive lead. "Why would creatures of the sea have a demand for land? You said they were slavers, and slavers, to my general knowledge, aren't in the business of acquiring territories." No... they either used slaves as a means to gain capital or as a cheap, expendable force of labour. The latter gave the smaller demon pause, seeing how these slithering serpents weren't very neighbourly. "Hmm... I wonder if they're building something..." It wasn't too far-fetched. Prixlezub seemed to think that further inquiries should be directed at the Ss'ruul populace; though, really, of how much use would the lizard-folk be? Zurg mulled it over. "Well..." he began, "perhaps they would be more observant of surface activity from the Nazaj'ir? I am uncertain of just how much territory they cover, but it's definitely worth a shot." Assuming the Ss'ruul would be willing to part with their insight, of course.

    For crying out loud, did this swamp ever end? How long had they been trekking in this muck, anyway? Zurg was a good charge and kept his growing dismay mum. Eh, this wasn't exactly as swift as jetting around, per se, but it sure beat walking on foot. Shame about all the wildlife, though... This trail will be very conspicuous come morning.

    "Yes, this is certainly a troublesome matter. However, I believe there may be something that my own arcane abilities may be able to accomplish in this matter."

    Ah, right.

    Magic.

    The monarch tried not to raise a questioning look at the mentioning of dominance runes, or of just how encouraging they could be. "Growing clones isn't as long as it used to be," he answered, tail swaying side-to-side. "Advances in modern technologies have made it possible to grow a fully functional clone in little over three days. It's the conditioning that comes after that takes the longest." After all, it takes time and effort to teach clones how to walk and talk, amongst other things. "But yes, agreed. We keep it streamlined. Your method is preferred," he relented. And what's this about the wisps?

    Zurg huffed, his expression proud. "I bolted for a tactical retreat in case of any retaliation. One must never underestimate their opponent." Which was easier said than done...


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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

    Post by Prixlezub on Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:37 am

    Only if you want to fit inside buildings.

    "Don't you find it odd? Why would creatures of the sea have a demand for land? You said they were slavers, and slavers, to my general knowledge, aren't in the business of acquiring territories."

    For a moment the prince paused in his trail-blazing, his tail swaying idly to and fro before settling. "Yes, it is indeed odd that these creatures would desire land. All the same, all we had come across during the entire venture down into these parts were underlings, beings that held little information and gave very little as well." He rumbled evenly, returning to his pace soon after. "Given they are searching for powerful relics, and wish to exalt this Lady of theirs, it is not too far fetched to believe they are building something of importance. However, I have also noticed they are beings of the water. They likely are not so comfortable having to do their work on dry land. How much easier do you believe it may be to do one's work if the land was flooded?" He offered, tossing aside another dense cluster of trees with a lash of his powerful neck. "Should this place be to their liking, we would have seen far more than a few small patrols and a digging camp..." Hm, speaking of that... "I may also have to return to the camp once we are down there and see if there may be anything that was missed during our raid." He added thoughtfully.

    In the heat of the moment, details were often left unnoticed. Even if it had been a year since they had last been there, perhaps something could be scavenged from the rubble, clues perhaps. However, the prince soon realized the heat of his interest and turned his gaze back to the smaller demon following behind. If that would be comfortable for our schedule, we must return to the city before the transformation wears off." He added, smoke pluming from his grill as he turned and butted aside another swath of swamp growth. As for the Ss'ruul, the prince listened and, could not help but agree. The lizard-folk did not strike him as naval people. However, there was one other reason for seeking them out. "Yes, they may be observant of the surface activity at the least, but also I wonder about those that had been enslaved in the camps. Their captors may have been loose-lipped during their laboring, especially if they thought themselves to be invulnerable." The prince pondered aloud.

    While Zurg was content to keep his maw shut regarding their slow trip, the prince was starting to note something odd. Even during the initial trip through this place, it took less than a day on foot to travel across the wetland. The trees were so dense now that even a human would have trouble squeezing past them, and the prince's gaze could hardly push past the numerous trunks.

    Something was attempting to slow them.

    Prixlezub's grill openings twitched as he sniffed the air, keeping an ear on Zurg's explanation regarding the clones. "Yes, quite impressive." He rumbled, the fiery licks of white that were his pupils scanning the branches and undergrowth for any signs of life. interestingly enough, the trees were also quite barren, both to his eyes and his nose. Zurg's huffing and prideful expression we glanced back at vigilantly, mainly to ensure nothing was lurking behind his charge. "Keep close, we are under watch." The demon warned with a hushed gravel, more felt than heard.

    His thundering footsteps ceased, thick grey smoke billowing from his maw as he took another scan. All the while he could not help but notice a flux in this areas humidity, planar energies pooling thickly around the very trees. Hm, perhaps the answer to whom was watching them could be answered swiftly enough. "This part of the swamps are not what they seem, I think it is time we find just who is behind this charade."

    Within moments Zurg would be able to feel a charge in the air, the demon prince stepping forward just enough to put enough space between himself and the smaller demon so as to not accidentally transfer any of energy to him. With a dull thud his hindquarters settled into the muck, and the length of his bladed tail curled about his side as his fore-claws raised to curl in front of his chest. Stronger and stronger the charge became, until a mass of darkness began to pool about the prince's heated talons, resembling a churning storm cloud with how it broiled and billowed around his digits. Then, slowly, he spread his talons apart, the maelstrom of abysmal energy strung between them in a thick, wispy ribbon.

    All at once, there was a deafening CR-CRACK! as the shade was repelled in a sweeping arc from the demon's clawtips, snapping outward and into the dense tree growth. However, the truly intriguing sight was what lay in the shadow's wake. The hundreds of trees that were aligned like the walls of a great fortress were swept away as if they were mist, leaving their path not only more open, but their watchers without cover.

    There they stood, or more righted themselves into standing, water trickling down from the large, bowl-like recess upon its forehead. With glistening eyes it glared at them, a sharp hiss puffing from it as it vehemently regarded the two trespassers.

    "As I thought." The demon prince rumbled, standing up from his meditative stance to resume his towering posture, "One of the resident spirits has not taken kindly to our intrusion."

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    Re: Trees? What Trees?

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