In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Rackenhammer » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:46 pm

Caraennyn continued to listen to Marcus, alternating his gaze between looking at him, and looking out the gates to the town, where the refugee Dysuhlians were. He was really beginning to warm up to the rat, and patted him on the shoulder when he finished. "Well, if there's any place you can figure it out, it's here. We've had 1,000 years to think of things those musty bonekickers couldn't even imagine. Heck, you might even discover your own school of magic, heh!"

The mage caught his pinggen ball from the last toss, and turned over and over in his hands. "Used to think I might be a spellsword, but now I'm starting to think I might look into techniques based on this. Lord knows, I've put more effort into sport than my studies." He laughed at himself, before staring out the gate again, this time beyond the town.
"Dunno where my family is, or even if they're alive. You talk about loss of status, well, you'd have that in common with my da. He put me here 'cause I'd have a better chance to be someone than if I stayed with him. I suppose he's right, but... it's kind of hard not knowing, you know?"

Caraennyn sighed, still focused outward, which is how he came to miss the approaching feline until he was almost right at the gates. "Hullo, he looks a little old for admissions. What does he want, I wonder?"

Whatever it was, it certainly took a while to explain. The cat couldn't catch the words, but the ragged feline at the gate was starting to become a little agitated at the delay. The guards themselves consulted with each other, before finally admitting him into the grounds, no doubt with strict provisions on conduct.

~

Telemain pursed his brows in thought, resuming his pacing. He'd been in a siege situation before, and had fought off the golems sent at him, but none of them were the 'mauler' kind Zodt seemed to be referring to. Still, he mustered what he did know to put before the group.
"If needed, the entire town, refugees included, could be housed on the University ground. Panic in the streets could adversely affect the retreat, however; and I'm not sure how many would consent to take shelter until it was too late. At any rate, we have a second line of defense. But you're right, our first is quite porous, and I don't think it will buy us all that much time. I can think of a half-dozen ways the wall could be compromised, even by non-maulers, including just smashing through it. It wouldn't take much time; I've seen them go up against stone walls, while I was atop them! Stationary physical defenses are simply not a good strategic option."

The Dean had been sitting, pensive and impassive, processing the information before her. She dipped into the conversation, attempting to gather all the thoughts whirling in the three heads before her. "And what of the further plans? Are there any ways which we can use what we have?"

"Hmmm..." Tel placed his hand against the wall and leant into it, tapping his foot rapidly. "The finest Edwinian Longbows, and the stoutest Edwinian Longbowmen, can fire arrows through the armor chinks. I've seen them do it. I don't think we have either, though. The Archancellor's hunting crossbow might work, but we'd need quite a lot of them, and the wall seems to have taken much of our ready lumber. I suppose the mills might be rigged into catapults, trebuches, and ballistas, which I've also found to be quite effective. Of course, all physical measures must be combined with magical measures, and on that front, victory will depend on how much we've thought of that Vedicus hasn't. Anything that can interfere with a complex magical construction could be effective. I think we're quite ahead on that, actually; although most of our wizards aren't experienced in pitched warfare."

"We have more than you think." The Dean reassured him. "Remember, we were involved in the War of Ducal Succession a few years back, remember?"

"Oh, right." The ferx straightened out, relaxing a bit. "That was back when I was just a neophyte. Hm, well, we'll have to talk to this... Antinom, in order to work out our positions and tactics. We're in for a hard fight, but not, I think, an unwinnable one."
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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Sade » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:18 pm

(OOC: I'm shedding my tertiary character threads for now.)

Antinom was remarkably difficult to arrange a meeting with for a rat often seen wandering the streets with the other Dysuhlians, who had no compunctions about walking up and questioning him or accusing him at anytime and any place of anything, and it was a process Nessus did not particularly enjoy. He brought the matter to him in one locale only to have to discuss it at another locale and make final arrangements at a third locale. In so doing Nessus began to appreciate his frigid compatriot's constant struggle to maintain order. In the end, the simple matter of meeting for the vague purpose of "discussing tactics" took hours. Ultimately they decided they should meet in the University, or rather Antinom had made that decision at the beginning and manipulated Nessus to make it happen. Antinom had also accrued more than a dozen other rats before arriving at the University gates, which had not been part of the agreement.

Moving across the University grounds took agonizing minutes because the rats kept turning in on themselves to debate, argue, curse, and brandish weapons at each other. This venerable, tried and true method of group decision-making warmed Nessus' heart, but it also sucked up time, and it was brought on by the tiniest of novel observations. Aside from Antinom, these rats had never been in the University before; every observation was novel. Thankfully this.. tumult did not involve status or hierarchy, or it would have been uncontrollable. These rats were obviously not chosen at random; Antinom had consciously picked rats of equal status and little mutual animosity.



They now gathered at a table… or milled about, pointing here and there… or shouted harassment at one another, in the room where they'd "discuss tactics." Antinom, on the other hand, sat quietly, observing the University furs. He hadn't been told of Telemain's warning, but Antinom wasn't just a smart rat, he was an intellectual, and a former statesman, and beneath the unwavering, icey gaze he was picking apart their faces and expressions and how they stood and carried themselves. That something had changed was obvious to him. He just didn't know what it was. Spread out on the table were dozens of scrolls he'd brought. They detailed the technical specifications of the wall as it stood, as well as various plans his people had devised for improving it, building new defenses, and other more outlandish projects.

Eventually a consensus on the merits self-levitating dinner plates was reached- it was overwhelmingly negative- and the dozen uninvited guests turned their attention to the table and the University furs on the other side. The sudden quiet was of stark contrast to the commotion only a few moments before. Antinom wasted no time, "we are here to discuss tactics, as you requested. I think you have new information pertinent to that discussion."

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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Rainwhisker » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:47 pm

Feres sat still, as quiet as a guest can be, and right now he felt very much like one. He had no relation to just about anyone from this place, so his eyes and ears simply turned and looked at whoever spoke, and in idle times it was spent looking at the table, the faces sitting beside or across him, and the room itself. It was only when his ears quivered uncontrollably, briefly that he felt another, familiar presence nearby.

-
Galvan was granted entry, and immediately he was off in search of the Dean. It appeared that something important was happening - clearly, what with the thick air that permeated the entire area that spelled gloom and doom. The cat growled however, when he learned the dean was stuck in a meeting. "That's fine. I can wait." he told the one who had said so to him. "Is it possible that I access your library archives or something?" he asked. Hopefully the person would get the hint that he'd stop complaining in his foul mood if he had a book to read.
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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Kitsunegami » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:14 pm

Jyya finally managed to find the Dean when she wasn't too busy putting out fires and spoke with her about Marcus being admitted to the U.U. "I'll sponsor him in whatever way necessary, even if that means I have to teach him myself. I can't say that the other refugees will treat him well. They may even turn on him, or cast him out and leave him to die. I'll leave the final decision to you, and the others in charge of admissions." was all she said after bringing up the issue of Marcus seeking admission into the U.U.

Naia, after many hours of being in a near-catatonic state, regained consciousness. She was strained by this new-found power that seemed to engulf her own. She felt very uncomfortable considering the enormity of what was going on. So many of the students were curious about what was going on, why so many furs had come with Telemain, and just curious in general. Naia had gotten used to traveling in cities with her former master, and she got used to the life aboard the ship to Gawain to some extent, but the U.U. was an entirely new and unusual type of crowd for her...

((OOC: If Tel is going to be at the meeting, just auto Naia to be there with him if he meets up with her after she regains consciousness.))

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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Indrick151 » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:32 am

Logan laid in bed, staring at the roof as he thought on what he’d done wrong, again. He couldn’t control himself. He was trapped in this cycle of rising and falling. To be pulled from darkness only to slip at the next hardship back into it. It made him question whether one actually learnt from their past. Indeed, he should have learnt and known better. He of all people, he had seen the results first hand. Had felt them first hand... and yet he hadn’t. Amelangrien had always hidden the true horror of what he did from Logan. But it seemed that he hadn’t learnt from a single mistake, instead he’d just made mistakes in new ways.

In the back of his mind, Logan knew that was the worst, he had been offered another chance at avoiding a fall, at raising his head up high, and yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that that had been his final chance. That now he would never be given another chance to choose between the right choice and the wrong choice. Between the light and dark. And although he had been forgiven, he couldn’t help but feel that somehow, his choice today had set in motion his fate. Perhaps it was just a fear from all of his doubts and his despair at his own weakness. But perhaps there was something to it.

While he lay there though he could begin to notice just how different he felt. He felt as though there were two of him, one was the body that he moved, that felt the bed and the cool air, which felt pain. And a consciousness, a self that thought and felt his emotions, a self which contained everything that made him who he was. It was as though he could feel his soul contained within himself, a shapeless thing contained within him. And if that were the case... was it possible to manipulate his own soul? But this strange sensation brought no peace, only a reminder of what Amelangrien had done to him. Although through all of his depression, angst and strange realisations a small part of him thought of talking to Tel soon. His first friend.
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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Rackenhammer » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:48 pm

Telemain was slightly off-put that the others at the meeting had concluded it suddenly upon his suggestion; having grown up among the intricate heirarchy of the University, he felt it strange that three magic users senior to him in age, power, and authority should defer to him in decision-making.
As he exited the room, to start on the many dozen things that would have to be done before the meeting with Antinom and his party, a creeping realization began to arrive in his conscious mind. *Insofar as experience goes... I'm the "expert in the field", when it comes to fighting necromantic war machines.* The realization was not comforting.

As he was seeing to rooms for the guests he'd brought with him, and arguing with the steward about how to best accommodate Melissa, a runner came from the infirmary. "Your apprentice sir," the young weasel prefaced with a slight bow, "She's regaining consciousness... and asking for you."
Immediately leaving off his housing arrangements, Tel beat the runner back to the ward where Naia was, concern for his apprentice outweighing the apprehension he felt at being treated as authority.

****

The Dean, too, was busy with many things, not only with meeting preparations, but also with her University duties.
"I don't see any reason why we wouldn't welcome Marcus." The badger smiled at Jyya from across her desk. "Lord knows, its not as if we don't have room for one more student. Placing tests will probably be delayed, what with everything that's been happening, but we can put him up in the dorms if he needs a place. And I shouldn't worry about teaching him yourself; you're hardly a professor." She laughed a little as she guided the kangaroo rat out the door. Dr. Martin was rather buoyed by the idea that one of the refugees would be seeking placement at the UU. It gave her hope for integration, though she wasn't sure how Zodt would react to it.

****

Caraennyn had decided to take it upon himself to take this newcomer in hand. The easy-going feline, quite insensitive to subtle atmosphere, found the other's blatant growling and irritation puzzling and upsetting.
"Here, now, there's no reason to take that kind of attitude. If you're a scholar, the library's open to you. Don't know what mood the Librarian will be in, but it won't be any better for yours being worse, you know." He patted Galvan on his shoulder, pushing him along the way to the Library.
"What are you here for, anyway? It's a bit of a trek just to do a little reading."

****

The Octariat in full probably could match Antinom in political experience, and possibly expertise, notwithstanding the fact that Intra-University politics were something of a penny-ante game. The real challenge was in the meta-game, to keep that many powerful furs at the card table...

Not all eight were at the meeting, however. Four had other duties, and Zechariah, the traveling member, hadn't come back from his diplomatic tour yet. That left the the Warden, Dr. Martin, and the Archancellor.
The Archancellor made an incongruous figure in the group of wizards around him. For one thing, he was wolftaur; which meant his shape was not only unusual, it was built on a scale rather larger than any present. His kind were not usually seen outside the forests, and indeed, the Archancellor spent much of his free time in them, hunting. Among them all, he was, on the face of it, the least disposed to be diplomatic to the rats on the other side of the table. That Taurforms were considered more or less mutant abominations by the Dysuhlians was by now an open fact, combined with the destruction of the aforementioned forests, did nothing to ease relations.

Still, Ridcully himself was at least polite enough to avoid embarassing himself, and seemed more amused at the behavior of Antinom's party than annoyed (introducing them to the floating plates had been his idea).

The other two members of the Octariat flanked him, and were observing Antinom with the same receptiveness with which he was observing them.

Tel was dividing his attentions between one of the charts in front of him and his apprentice. While Naia had regained consciousness, her aura still interacted weirdly with the magical field surrounding the University, and Tel was still greatly concerned. He wasn't sure about taking her into the meeting, but the Dean had assured him that it was for the best. Signaling that Naia was one of the University's would help dissuade anyone wanting to take her power for himself, and if it didn't, they'd have to be dealt with eventually. Still, the ferx couldn't help but feel the one they needed to be concerned with most of all was sitting right in front of them.

Antinom had the first word, and Ridcully took the thread up. He was, on the whole, not a fur who cared for subterfuge. In this case, there wasn't really any point. "Exactly, that's why we're discussing tactics. You and I both know that Vedicus is still out there, and that it was quite probable that he was going to take the offensive, hence the defensive perimeter. Well, our reconnaissance," Here he indicated Telemain, "Has returned with confirmation of an imminent attack, lead by Vedicus, in force. Most likely, this will involve a phalanx of golems, much of them of new and improved manufacture. We don't have a certain timeframe; how long it will take him to build up his forces is an unknown factor, but from what we can judge, he has had sufficient time to put together a sizeable force. Local magical interference means he won't be able to teleport here directly; he'll be lucky if he makes it to the near side of the Dresden.
"It is critical that we use the time we have now to put up coutermeasures. We've called you here because you have on-site knowledge of the capabilities of the recently constructed defensive perimeter, and also for your connections within the various communities. Implementing an effective defense is going to require serious co-operation, and that will begin here. Rest assured, the University will not spare itself in defending this town, and all within it."
There was a slight emphasis on 'all,' easy enough to pick up.
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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Sade » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:48 pm

Unlike the archancellor, the rats held no compunctions about embarrassing themselves. Half a dozen grimaces and sneers of varying degrees answered the wolftaur, so revolting and reviled he was by the lot of them. They behaved almost as if the Octariat couldn't see them, like Antinom was a wall from behind which they could sling comments and insults at will. "The animal speaks!" flew across the table. "How comforting," one replied directly to what the archancellor had said, voice dripping with sarcasm, "but we are the ones who will be protecting all of you."

A here-to-for silent rat shouted angrily, striking the table with a clenched fist, "If you had allowed the construction of Invisus' manufactory weeks ago instead of slaughtering him like an animal we could have faced Vedicus on equal footing! We should be building golems and weapons- real weapons- not hiding behind walls of mud and placing our lives in the hands of students! You have wood for fuel, you have flowing water, you have granite and marble in abundance, and-" his eyes drifted of their own accord to Naia before he quickly averted his gaze toward a window, and back toward the Dean "you have sources of power… Let us use them!"

Another rat- the construction foreman from the mobile tamper- stomped on his toes, "we should not be speaking of these things in present company." He jabbed an accusatory finger at Telemain, Feres, and Naia, "who are they? I have never seen them before! Sure the defective Ferret is one of yours, but the lynx is clearly not," he leant as far across the table as possible, eyes drilling into Feres, "he does not look like a 'University. He does not smell like a 'University. Do any of you even know where he came from? And what is that thing," he jutted his nose in Naia's direction, "and where did it come from?"

Yet another dysuhlian slid in edgewise, "-and why isn't it powering a weapon."

The foreman shoved him over before turning his attention to the Octariat, "it isn't that we don't trust your judgement, but…" but he couldn't think of a diplomatic way to end that sentence.

Antinom, the only rat so far to actually have taken a seat, sat silently absorbing all of what his fellow Dysuhlians had to say. He was indeed like a wall. His fellows made recommendations, but he had made it clear to them that his word would be binding, not theirs. He was now intently observing the three newcomers. "When Vedicus attacks a town or city, the death toll tends to be high. It was true in the past, and, from what I have heard, it is true now. It is an unavoidable consequence of conflicts of this type." His eyes drilled into Telemain, "yet across from me sits a feilan who, by all accounts, has been singled out by our greatest enemy on multiple occasions, only to somehow survive each time. Even your so-called 'Trick'-" his mouth quirked with a slight frown- wrong word-, "ahhhh- your so-called 'Jinx' could not protect you forever, I think.

"What of your recent, what do you call it, 'fieldwork?' Have you looked death in the face yet again? Unless I severely misjudge your abilities, you are no match for him. He could kill you easily. Is it not the least bit suspicious that you not only survive, but return with two strangers who are strange in more ways than one, and 'confirmation of an imminent attack?' I wonder, Telemain, whether you in fact know precisely when, where, and how Vedicus plans to attack." Antinom leant forward intently, speaking towards Telemain but to all three of them "why should we trust any of you?"

The other Dysuhlians were by this point utterly silent. Two-dozen fleshy ears and beady eyes were fixed on the three newcomers.

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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Rainwhisker » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:42 am

The air was thick and tense. It riled up when the Dysuhlians began to speak their mind, and suddenly began to weave all their worries into putting the blame on the him and his companions. It irked him, partially, though he could see where they were coming from. To them, it just appeared too simple, for some kind of devastating opponent to just let the party travel free to deliver a warning about an incoming attack. It didn't help that Tel was supposedly the only one affiliated with the university, and Feres came with a double motive to begin with, though that got replaced with the idea of being able to just journey and foray into matters that clearly didn't involve him in the least. He stayed silent when the construction foreman pointed an accusing finger at him, merely flattening his ears backwards with a faint scowl on his face.

Then Antinom spoke and raised his concern of whether or not he could be trusted - or any of them for that matter. This feilan suggested that just because they survived, they weren't to be trusted. It was almost as if it were better for him if they were dead. Feres was the first to finally speak out, given this chance to reply.

"If you don't want honest help in this...war you're waging, then I'll walk away." he said, firmly. "I see where your worries come from, but just consider the possibility that you've misjudged Tel's ability to find help throughout his journey - and uncanny luck if the stories are to be believed - and see that were it not for us being there for him, this quest of his might've turned a completely different route." He truly didn't mean to belittle his friend's own abilities and the words stung him as he spoke realizing what he had just said, but his features remained resolute.

---

"Here, now, there's no reason to take that kind of attitude. If you're a scholar, the library's open to you. Don't know what mood the Librarian will be in, but it won't be any better for yours being worse, you know." He patted Galvan on his shoulder, pushing him along the way to the Library.
"What are you here for, anyway? It's a bit of a trek just to do a little reading."

Luckily for Galvan, the other feline's attitude made it much easier to pace himself. "Your words have wisdom," he calmed down and sighed. "Thank you."
He scratched his head and pondered what he should explain. "My name is Galvan Lightfang. I come here seeking information, as you may have guessed." he blinked, not showing much other emotion while he quickly sorted his thoughts. "The information will help me possibly turn the tides on a race against time. Peoples' lives could be at stake." he decided to say. He wasn't sure if he was lying at this point, which was all the more reason he needed to obtain this information.
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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Rackenhammer » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:10 pm

Archancellor Ridcully had a proverbial skull of teak wood. It took dedicated effort to make anything sink into it, which had turned out to be an asset for a wizard in a high position. If nobody bothered to take more than two minutes to explain anything to you, it wasn't worth paying attention to in the first place. The same applied to abuse; the wolftaur's face showed nothing but a mild amusement at the antics of the rats. Whether it was because he thought them childish, or because he was fantasizing on the prospect of trampling them, no one could tell.

Telemain, not as experienced in the political game as the Octariat, consequentially had less of a poker face. As the rats began to target their criticism upon his companions, and in particular the projected use of his apprentice, lines of tension became palpable on his face. The ferx's paws moved subconsciously, one to curl protectively around Naia, and the other to grip the table. He could feel the surging power of his apprentice, the astonishing amount of force on tap, wanting only a purpose to which it could be put.
*I could nail any of these furs' heads to the wall right now, if I wanted to.* The realization dawned on him with a start, right about the time Antinom began to speak.

The rat's words were clear, unpleasant, but understandable. He had to maintain his position among his own kind, after all, and it was, on the face of it, rather ludicrous that a mere journeyman-wizard would be able to face one such as Vedicus, on multiple occasions, and survive.

Feres' words had given the Ferx enough time to gather his thoughts. Unclenching his hand from the table, he discovered the surface had charred slightly in his grasp. Wiping the ash off on his trousers, Tel spoke, slowly, and softly, trying to contain the roil of emotions inside him.
"It is true. I do not pretend that luck, or divine intervention, has played a large role in my continued survival. A large debt is also due to the friends, and allies, who have been alongside me on my journeys. I've hardly ever been in a position to refuse help, even from sources who I would otherwise not. I do not know if the old proverb, 'War makes strange bedfellows' dates back to your time, but it certainly applies here and now."

He took a deep breath. No one else moved to speak or interrupt. No choice but to continue, then. "If I may address your foundational concerns first?" Tel gestured towards Antinom. "I don't know if 'jinx' is even the right word, anymore. It is a tool, of which my practical knowledge of its use exceeds my theoretical knowledge of its nature. I have found it to be an effective counter-measure of any and all complicated magical constructions. Its activation reagent is unique and unusual. So far, I have seen no effective counter-measure that I could not, with help, overcome." He indicated now his travel companions, still holding a protective arm around Naia.

"As for having precise information... no. Clairvoyance is not among my talents; and Vedicus is quite good at deflecting the gaze of those who are, as you no doubt know. This is not a game of chess, gentlemen; not all the pieces are on the board, each side must guess and bluff the other's moves. It is more like a game of cards, in that respect. We have past patterns of strategy to extrapolate from, a reasonable idea of all the assets available, and a lucky peek at his hand. This gives us a good enough idea of what he is going to do to make preparations. From what I know of history, that is as much as anyone can hope for, in a war."

Tel was surprised he'd managed to get through all that without losing his calm. He didn't think he could hold out much longer.
That much was apparent to the Dean, who now took the floor. "I think that answers them pretty well. We have little time for bickering and mistrust. This is to plan our battle strategy, and we are willing to listen, and even act upon, wise council. One thing, however, I would like to point out." The badger looked over the beady eyes and fleshy ears pointed towards her. "This is not the first time Vedicus has ridden forth to war. He was not defeated by a superior army of golems, or massive superweapons. It was those whom Dysuhl had despised as weak that proved his strongest enemy. If our suggestions and methods seem inappropriate to you, there are reasons. Now," She sat back, face neutral, paws by her side. "One at a time, please. I would like to know your specialty, and what approach you think would be the most effective."

~

Caraennyn raised a eyebrow at Galvan, more in surprise than skepticism. "You too? Seem's the whole world's become involved in this rotten business." The student wasn't aware of what the scholar was talking about, but it seemed reasonable to assume it had something to do with all these Dysuhlians. "Well, the library's just up ahead. Dunno if the librarian's going to let you in right away, but I'm sure he'll help if you explain nicely."

The Librarian himself, an Orangutang, had just come back from re-shelving, and was double-checking his ledgers at the front desk, which kept the only public entrance in view.
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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Sade » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:03 am

The plague of rats did not remain silent for long. As first Feres and then Telemain tried to address their concerns, they saw nothing wrong with firing off questions and comments about what was being said. These were directed towards each other rather than the University furs. After all, who better to answer the questions than peers of status? If they discussed something for long enough they would inevitably come to a mutually agreeable conclusion. Whether this matched reality hardly mattered.

"What is divine intervention?"
"Can we turn it into a weapon of some ki-"
"What is a bedfellow!?"
"I think a bedfellow is a prostitute."
"That makes no sense; we can't use prostitutes against Vedicus."
"Well then, war clearly doesn't make bedfellows, or this town would have at least enough to go around."

The caustic and talkative Dysuhlians were not ignoring them, they just saw the need to analyze everything being said, as it was being said, lest someone they don't like- basically everyone other than one's self- speak first. Antinom, on the other hand, was listening far more intently, and, when the Dean finally finished, he leaned back into his chair and silently considered the new information. As he did so, his gaze slid back to the three newcomers.

"I don't know how you survived your journey," he looked momentarily to Feres, "I can tell you that friendship would not have saved you from a concerted attack. However I think you are telling the truth.

"You and your traveling companions possess a great strength of character which also appears to permeate the entire University and local community. You are all so very different from each other, yet you seem so inclined to work together against a common foe. At the slightest external pressure, you band together rather than fall apart. It's an important capacity for cooperation, and I think it is something we lack. We will have to learn to work together, both with ourselves and with those with whom we might have taken exception in another time and place."

Someone behind him huffed indignant, "I would rather cohabitate with animals."

Antinom's face twitched. His expression hardened ever so slightly. Out of the blue the statesmen lurched out of his seat, picked it up, and hefted it mightily at the speaker. The offensive rat flinched, stumbling back, instinctively putting up a magical barrier against which the chair exploded into splinters and crackling red sparks of energy. He was stronger than Antinom. They were all stronger than Antinom. But they had never seen him behave like this. The sudden overt hostility, the intense unbridled anger blasting like heat from a furnace long thought frozen, stunned them into cowering away. "Then why are you here!?"

No answer was forthcoming. Antinom straightened and carefully brushed the wrinkles from his robes, "If any of you would rather fight alone, feel free to leave. If you do, all the arrogance in the world- all of our massively inflated sense of self worth- will leave you no better. You will die alone. We will all die alone."

The cool, calm, and collected Antinom was back within their comfort zone, and the rat who'd triggered this explosion puffed out his chest, "I will not leave, but this new arrangement is disgusting and unsatisfying, and I will make my opinion known as I see fit." All at once, the rats started shouting harassment at each other. That is to say, most of them did.

As the altercation played out, the rat foreman had slowly moved into one of the seats at the table, looking thoughtful… or perhaps pensive… and probably also a little unhappy, like the rest of them tended to look all the time. "Maybe we need weak, worthless furs to fight with us."

"Oh yes, that will put fear in Vedicus' eyes for sure."

"No," the foreman huffed, "of course it won't. Random furs? Not even rats? I doubt he will be impressed, but it is like the badger woman says; he was not impressed before, and he lost. We shouldn't send that thi-…the 'archancelor' back into the woods, we should find more of him- a lot more of him."

This spurred on the argument in the background, but surprisingly, through all the hate and shouting and overt hostility amongst fellow rats and towards every other visible feilan in the room, insightful statements and suggestions started emerging.

"We cannot build golems; we do not have enough time to build manufactories."
"We should lay the plans for weapons production after the coming battle on the remote chance we actually survive."
"More soldiers!"
"Dysuhlian tactics… Vedicus knows all of them. The University should weigh heavily on the minute-to-minute handling of battle and the broadest strokes of war."
"Vedicus must use what he knows. He has never been one for creative thinking."
"That may eventually change. We cannot assume total inflexibility."
"I demand more soldiers!"
"They are not lacking in wood. We should build more conventional weapons."

Here, one of the rats seemed inclined to actually speak to the University furs. He shuffled the scrolls around to what appeared to be long lists of numbers, "we can give you the figures and formula for calculating the strength of a given thickness of wardstone of a given composition to given yields of magical power and physical force. Our golems have wards to deflect such things, but it is theoretically possible to build ranged weapons... the taurform mutant's primitive ahh- ballista?- for example… with enough power to do appreciable damage to unwarded golems when properly aimed."

"Yes, and golem construction creates certain weaknesses in key areas if struck from the correct orientation," another suggested, "you practically have to be behind and underfoot to make use of them… but the information could be useful somehow I suppose."

"Golem ditches," a voice in the background blurted haughtily, "we could use earth mages to surround the outer wall with rings of golem ditches. These 'kent' golems I've heard about would have great difficulty passing them."

"Even better, we should bury them under the ground. They could be deep enough so rats, slaves, and carts could pass over them, but golems would collapse them. Maybe with all this magical interference, Vedicus wouldn't notice them."

"I think we need more soldiers!"

"Ranged weapons? Out of wood? Don't be ridiculous. The enemy would quickly destroy stationary emplacements. They would have to be highly mobile, and I only see one horrific taurform mutant in the room. We would need many more to effectively make use of that tactic."

"What… other things can we use? If I am right to assume that 'chess' is the game of strategic attrition I've seen demonstrated in town, and 'cards' involves concealment… almost any asset we have but which Vedicus is not aware could be an advantage."

"What advantage do the newcomers bring to this war, I wonder? If the pitch-stained ferret is a spy, we could use him to send Vedicus false information."

"Telemain is not a spy," Antinom asserted, risking a disruption to their flow of thought to keep it on a productive course.

"Perhaps not, statesman, but surely we can make use of him somehow. The same goes for every man, woman, and child. Everything we know about our soldiers is one more thing he doesn't."

"We need more soldiers! More soldiers make more targets and decrease the likelihood of a crippling blow against truly important furs!"

"Yes, important furs like we rats of Dysuhl!"

"The town should be mobilized. Everyone strong enough to lift a weapon should be holding a weapon, unless they are too important to lose. If they aren't fighting, they should be contributing systematically to the effort. Labor will be needed to construct even the crudest of wooden projectile-throwing contraptions. Labor will be needed to clear the rest of the forests for raw materials. A female cooking for her family is a waste of feilan resources. A small number of furs can cook for a very large number of furs, leaving more available for needed tasks."

"We should not push our defensive border out too far unless we have a very good idea of just how close Vedicus could reach via teleportation."

"Mud. All golems work better on a hard surface. The stripping of the forest has exposed large expanses of bare ground. If we could turn this into a quagmire when the time is right, the effectiveness of Vedicus' army would be severely reduced. Even better if you could somehow… significantly reduce the air temperature, while not freezing the mud, this would decrease the strength of the wardstone."

This continued for quite a while. Antinom was not surprised in the least with the useful outcome of the argumentative nature of the Dysuhlians. Given the right constraints and the right makeup, a cohesive group would form and yield genuinely useful, intelligent recommendations and decisions. There had been a time before Vedicus, after all. The Dysuhlian Empire had not risen to global dominance on the shoulders of incompetent leadership. The real challenge would be preventing this useful tumult from disintegrating the moment the individual interests of the constituent parts were threatened, or from the stress of working with mere non-rodents, or under threat of harm from war.

Nessus, on the other hand, was surprised. He'd known on some level that the group would work, but living at the University for so long, exposed to the generally negative impression of his people which spread from the true source of resentment to cover all aspects of society, had given rise to doubts and cynicism in him.

At length, the rats finished. Frustratingly, they turned their attention back to the present University furs and proceeded to basically repeat everything they had said already, as if the discussion had taken place in isolation and the Octariat and newcomers had only just… materialized out of thin air. Even so, at the very least the suggestions and comments were now ordered in a meaningful and comprehensible manner. The key points were mobilizing the town, increasing the number of combatants, producing effective weaponry in a short enough span of time, enhancing the static defenses, and performing a systematic assessment of the unique capabilities each of the available feilans in the University and town would bring to the table, so to speak.

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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Rainwhisker » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:37 pm

Feres shook his head at the bickering. "I've never seen a group so dysfunctional." he muttered, quietly. The scent of fear was definitely in the air, some of the people in this room were afraid. Frankly, he too was frightened at the thought of an actual war - yet the excitement masked most of it. He continued to watch, as he has nothing to add in particular to the field of war. He did intend to offer his services where necessary though - for combat or for his medicine.

---
Galvan raised a brow. "Something did seem like it was transpiring here, yes...I wonder if it's for the same reason." He paused before the library briefly to ask, "Ah yes -- your name?"

Upon meeting with the orangutan, he told him the same thing he had told Caraennyn.
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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Rackenhammer » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:51 pm

(Another late reply, woohoo! Sorry)

Apparently, the rats' knowledge of Gawainian did not extend to the idiom which grew like foliage on any living language. A brief flash of puzzlement at their incomprehension passed over Telemain's features; the Dean remained stoical, and the Archancellor kept his amused smile.
Antinom, at least, seemed more inclined to think than talk, and, such are the paradoxes that govern life, that was how he came to be the first of the rats to address the group. Tel was encouraged by the fact that his initial assessment of Antinom being a somewhat reasonable fellow was confirmed.

And then somebody had to be snarky.

Tel practically jumped back when Antinom threw the chair; he hadn't known him as long as the others, but he was a s surprised as they at the sudden violence. He certainly didn't feel like getting in between the disputants.
The faculty present shared the desire not to get involved. Secretly, the Dean was relieved that Matteo was on the other side of campus; he might have riposted the "animal cohabitation" comment with something like, "Don't knock it till you've tried it," out of general contrariness. Then the whole thing would have become a fiasco.

The discussion was acrimonious enough as it was, but as it wore on, some fruit began to come out of it.

A small snort of stifled laughter could be heard from Dench the Warden, as he and Feres observed the rats' discussion. "You haven't been at many academic meetings, have you lad?" The weasel whispered to the herbalist condescendingly. "All things considered, they're a relatively productive group. Fascinating."
Indeed, there was a slight air of increased relaxation among the University furs. This was more familiar territory, the squabbles over the relative values of disciplines in approaching a problem, the merry-go-round of assigning responsibility, and order emerging from egoistic chaos, all could be found in a typical faculty board meeting.

Tel leaned over the table, still carefully standing guard and keeping one eye on his apprentice while training the other on the charts one of the more open-minded rats put on the table.
Dench also bent over for a closer look, nodding approvingly. "Hm, that really is quite useful; Danke Sie." Wards and such were his specialty; while he may not have been one of the more popular faculty, he was really quite good in his field.

In the meantime, both the Dean and the Archancellor were taking note of the more useful suggestions. They didn't mind the repetition so much; it gave them an opportunity to organize the suggestions better. The Dean nodded, keeping her voice neutral as she replied. "Quite sensible; we've been working on a few of these avenues already, so its good to know we think alike. I have a list ready of our experts in the most relevant fields; a more exhaustive one would be difficult to give you on short notice. There are a lot of wizards, each with their own discipline which might or might not prove useful. In any case, we may want to save a few surprises for later; we're in this for the long haul." She brought out the parchment she'd referred to, a list of about ten or so senior wizards who'd seen combat in the Ducal succession war 10 years before, some who knew how to use the terrain as a weapon, others who were good at crafting/enchanting, and Dench himself, the maestro of wards. There was also the name of the Bursar, who kept the records, and thus was the one they had to talk to for a more thorough list.
"These are just the University authorities; for matters directly involving the town, you'll have to talk to the magistrate. I don't think you'll have any problems there, though. Not a fur of fighting age won't take up arms to defend his home; they'll fight down to the knife if they have to."

"Knife? They'll go down to the fork and spoon if they have to." The archancellor remarked. He'd been in the war himself; he saw domestic implements used to surprising effectiveness in combat. He smiled upon the rats. "You know, I think I may eventually come to like you."


Tel sat back; it seemed the senior members were taking matters into their hands. He remembered, then, that there had been some trouble with his friend Logan when his party had first arrived at the University. *I'll have to go see him when this meeting is over.* He resolved.

~

"Oh, me?" Caraennyn seemed a little flustered at the simple request. "Caraennyn van der Rayke." His first name sounded a little odd, as if he were speaking Welsh in an affected Dutch accent.

Galvan didn't seem to be paying him much attention, now. Hard to blame him, considering he was now dealing with a very large orangutan. The Librarian seemed satisfied with the feline's scholastic bona fides, and he sat back with an "Ook." With his own sign language, he inquired as to Lightfang's business here.
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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Kitsunegami » Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:02 pm

Naia had remained silent, and was feeling rather subdued by the activities of the room. She wasn't used to having so many eyes on her in such a confined place. She could handle it in cities, where there were just as many who didn't take time to look at her, and more who simply didn't acknowledge her presence. Even though there were around a dozen furs in the room, she only knew 2 of them. The trip to Gawain on the ship was more bearable since there was little time for the crew to 'bother' her. When she arrived at the university, for a split second, she could virtually sense every fur there before she was so overwhelmed by the magical presence that she collapsed.

As the meeting seemed to wind down, she hesitantly leaned toward Telemain and whispered, "I know you said that I seem to prevent something this bad thing does... If.. If it helps... I will try to trust the ones you trust, and let them try to learn about my magic. I'm sure they'll know more about it than I can figure out myself." He could hear her voice tremble the entire time she whispered. One could almost feel her fear and discomfort in the room. Telemain had been her pillar of strength throughout the meeting.

==========================

Jyya Delivered the news to Marcus that he would be accepted into the UU, then took him to what amounted to the admissions area she went to only months earlier.
(sorry about this taking so long. Some times you just don't quite find the right words or right time to post.)

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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Sade » Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:16 pm

"You know…"

The archancellor's words and the fact that they were directed towards the lot of them brought the rats back to the here and now in short order. Antinom frowned at the wolftaur's smile.

"-I think I may eventually come to like you."

Nessus thought some of those rodent faces would literally explode. In a figurative sense, they did. The rats hollered and screamed at one another, threw their arms in the air, and stormed out with such speed that the veritable tumult of hastily discarded scrolls and scraps of parchment had hardly settled by the time they were all gone.

Antinom allowed himself a small groan and buried his forehead in the palm of his hand. "Alright," he said at length, taking a moment to massage his eyes. He turned to Nessus, "let us go 'round them up' again, as one from this era might say."

And round them up they did.

***

The afternoon grew old and weary, but Nessus was not ready to end the day, and it seemed other people felt the same. Rather than activity winding down, it wound up and up. Energy coursed outward from the meeting place in all directions, permeated the University, and finally and in short order burst over the institution's walls to infest the city. There were jobs to be done and an abundance of furs itching to do them.

The sunset cast brilliant red and yellow hues across the sky as Nessus mounted the Dysuhlian Assault Golem, 3rd Generation, for the first time in what felt like ages. It had remained idle and off-limits for long enough that creeping vines had climbed up it's jagged sabotons, finding plentiful purchase on the myriad spikes and ridges of the wardstone construction. He had deemed the construct too dangerous for his students. He had intended to contract out to another branch of the University for a device to test the safety of the machine and, if necessary, ground out any remaining power. Now, he took it upon himself to test it.

He brought his hand to the control surface and scried in an activation glyph. The harsh, metallic surface shuddered beneath him, but that was all. His arm wasn't torn off in an explosion. He did not fall to his near-death. The memories flashing through his mind at that instant did not break out into the real world, they simply remained painful memories. So far so good. He commanded the golem to take a step forward. It did so, but the pipe-organ roar was horribly distorted: the pitch was way higher than it should have been, and the duration far shorter. It stepped forward extremely slowly. Nessus soon realized that different parts of the machine were behaving as if time were passing either more slowly or far more quickly than it actually was, and he felt momentary regret for disbelieving Matteo's "time magic" excuse for the accident.

"I am a traitor," the elderly Dysulian rat Aggar huffed unhappily, stalking back and forth behind the University warden Dench and a second rat, Aelius, as they observed the golem being readied for the experiments. "I am betraying my people and all they have accomplished!"

Aelius did not appear particularly happy either. "What an unsettling thought," he said aloud.

Nessus joined them and they waited a few minutes for the golem's defensive wards to come online. He than tossed a stone at the machine. The stone struck an invisible barrier around it and hurtled off at an odd angle. Someone in the distance cried out.

"Pay attention, little warden," Aggar snapped, and laid a scroll on a field table, "I know non-rodents like yourself have much smaller brains than we do, so you'll have to try much harder to grasp these simple concepts." He jabbed a finger at a representative drawing of the golem and the perfectly circular ward surrounding it. "The-"

"The ward is a layered magical construct," Aelius spitefully cut in on Agger, "The outermost layer is a kinetic bias gradient-"

"A bias gradient," Aggar counterattacked, "following an exponential force curve reaching extreme powers at the center of the curve. Anything approaching the middle of the layer encounters an opposing force of greater and greater magnitude. Mass and inertia are passed between the golem and the-"

"-THE OBJECT BEING THROWN. But the other side of the layer has an identical, equal but opposite effect. In theory, if something is hurtled with enough velocity, it will have enough inertia to pass the threshold at the center of the layer, and it will be hurtled with equal force-"

"-INWARDS TOWARD THE GOLEM! The elemental and anti-magical wards are beneath the layer. If the same theoretical high speed projectile was imbued with magic, the momentum of the physical projectile will carry the magic right through those wards and deliver it to the golem's armor," Aggar finished. His face twisted for a moment, and then he dropped to his knees and shouted vehemently at the twilight sky, "What have I done!"

"You ARE a traitor you filthy rat," Aelius screamed at him.

This exchange continued for a while. At the end, Aelius somehow ended up as the one on his knees and Aggar was the one doing the screaming. He abruptly stopped the harassment as a thought occurred to him, and he turned on a heel to face Nessus and Dench, "of course I have never seen an arrow move with such speed. What fur could possibly possess the strength to draw such a bow? Three or four times greater velocity than a long-bowman's best shot would be needed."

Another pair of rats, Priscus and Vetus, along with interested University furs, had by now arrived to discuss the aforementioned weak points on the golem's armor, as well as the intricacies of wardstone and wardstone construction. The rats appeared just as deeply displeased with themselves as Aelius and Aggar. It had become abundantly clear to all the Dysuhlians that these modern mages had equalled or surpassed every one of their own magical accomplishments from a thousand years ago save one: wardstone. The wonder material was stronger than the best metals even now, yet it was manufactured from resources available in great abundance on the surface. It was also the key to Dysuhlian construct creation and the imbuing of animate properties to inanimate matter. Wardstone was also useful in the manufacture of complicated machines, one of the most significant non-magical achievements of Dysuhl, and one the modern world had yet to match. These rats found themselves in the position of having to destroy their only remaining advantage, the last of their race's secrets.

The golem's ward soon dropped, as Nessus had instructed it to do after a limited length of time lest it stop anyone from reaching it's command surface ever again, and Priscus and Vetus walked slow circles around it. They soaked bits of cloth at the ends of convenient tree branches in colored dyes and started marking it all over to identify weak spots.

"You may recognize some of the obvious vulnerabilities," Priscus intoned monotonously. "Much of the armor is jointed similarly to the type of full plate armor favored in the land you now name after the manx cat rebel "Sir" Edwin. These weak points will most likely be common on all golems with two arms and two legs."

"Outward appearances do nothing to give away other weaknesses," Vetus added solemnly. He made small arcs across the fore and after plating of the golem, "the armor is supported internally by a skeleton. It does not make contact with every point on the surface. There are internal air pockets throughout. These plates," he marked just inward of the connection points between the arms and breastplate, on the back of the machine, "are floating and only weakly connected."

"As our most inferior colleague was so quick to point out," Priscus intoned, "you would have to be underfoot and behind to use these weak points. I am not sure what value they could offer."

By now the golem looked almost comical, so covered it was with markings in a rainbow of colors.

***

Elsewhere on the grounds, the trio of rats Veneficus, Vermiculos, and Mus were basically following Telemain and Naia wherever they went, attracted as they were to Naia's overwhelming power and this wondrous ability of Telemain's to undo their enemy's magic.

"Where are we going?" Veneficus asked, 'we' implying that they were an integral part of the ferret's group.

"I don't know."

"This is not the right direction," Mus declared angrily. "I don't think the 'high energy magic' building is in this direction."

"Neither of you know where we are."

"I know where we aren't, though!"

"Oh how terribly helpful."

***

Off the University grounds, Zodt and her band were beginning to organize the citizens of the town. The townsfolk were not particularly interested in listening to the Dysuhlian rats, and none of the rats were particularly interested in trying to help them.

Likewise, the numerous rats were not particularly interested in listening to the University, and they did not particularly care whether the University was particularly interested in helping them. The task of getting them to cooperate fell to Antinom and a few members of the new previsional Dysuhlian council- the group which had been present at the University meeting. The rats all huffed and hawed and shouted indignation and feigned fearlessness, but the news of the impending attack was not taken well, and many of them were terrified.

Outside the new earthen wall, the rat Vis made a big show of explaining the simple concept of "digging a hole" to earth mages recruited for the job from the University. They would be using their magic to form concentric rings of void beneath the ground, around the town. They would start this line of defense where the wall was still unfinished to protect against the nightmare scenario of an attack within hours instead of days or weeks.

Meanwhile, at the wall, the rat Foreman- who had no name because he was not noble and his family was not able to afford a name- was setting the workers to the task of repairing the mobile tamper. Originally he'd believed it would take them up to two days to get it running again. Suffice it to say he had "adjusted" that timeline and expected every fur to "expedite" his work.

A few timbers tumbled from a work scaffold. The foreman grimaced. "Marcus!" he shouted angrily, and then, quietly, "oh, right."

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Re: In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night...

Post by Kitsunegami » Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:14 pm

Jyya had been among the furs and rats observing the golem as it was painted to reveal weaknesses.

"Hmm, underfoot and behind you say? I might have a thought on that." She said as she pulled her array of runes, a slip of paper, and her ink quill. After a few moments, she had inscribed the sheet with a series of runes and sigils designed to both absorb magical energies, and unleash said energies.

"It may not quite be properly inscribed, but this should be able to store a vast amount of magical energy, and then unleash it all at once... In theory, we could apply the proper sequence to common stones. Perhaps we could figure it out and bury a large number of them around the grounds. They would require the proper command sequence and conditions to trigger the release of energy." She paused for a moment, as though a thought occurred to her, before continuing, "Though I must admit that I don't know much about these devices. It just seems more feasible to create some kind of blast that, as you said, hits from below and behind. I got the idea from festival fireworks I saw in Yamaha. You might even be able to set the spells to turn the defenses into the energy supply to generate the explosion... Maybe... Or possibly set up a series of magical arrays to drain the magic from an area?" She shrugged at her last idea. These were unlike anything she'd ever encountered, but seemed a little familiar at the same time. They seemed different than the golems she encountered outside of the ark...

Having said her peace, she passed on the design to the "professionals".

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