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the liche lord arrives


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Tarquinus stands at the crossroads, frowning. He has no dial, but the shadows of the nearby copse of trees have not moved.

'The flow of time is stopped, or the earth of this place does not turn,' he mutters, squinting at the sun and flicking a bead of sweat from the tip of his nose. He sees a glittering object in the road ahead of him. After standing - for how long he knows not, whether moments or hours - he resolves to approach it.

He glances at his hands in wonder as he walks, notes the thick muscle of his forearms. 'Flesh restored, and youth, with it. Or so it seems. If this is a trick,' he raises his voice, scowling upward at the cloudless sky, 'you will pay for it, Shaper. You know me.'

The glittering object is a large, cut and polished stone with many facets, green and translucent, possibly a thing of great value. 'Surely not an emerald.' As he gazes into it, he remembers... a magic box of wood... confinement... darkness... a painted fool... a girl, much like his own daughter, so many centuries dead, and like her a ghost. A murder. He tosses the stone up a short distance and catches it, and then begins to stride down the road.

Someone with a cane is hobbling toward him, disturbing a whisper of dust: an old woman, bent, tattooed, a shawl covering her head. She smiles at him, looking surprised at his scarlet kilt, his sandals, his bare chest, his massive beard, his crown of velvet, his earrings of gold. 'Another visitor,' she says in a quavering voice. Extending a hand she adds, 'Let me say your sooth.'

Tarquinus shifts the stone to his left hand and holds out his right. The crone squints, smiling, at his palm... and suddenly her face falls even as she drops his hand.

'What - what are you?' she gasps, starting to back away. Tarquinus moves swiftly and cracks her head with the stone. She collapses, trembling a moment, and is still. He squats beside her, dipping his right index finger into the old woman's blood, and traces a mystic symbol upon the shocked features of her face, frozen forever in death.

'Never ask that question,' he growls. Raising his face skyward once more, he adds, 'And here, whatever gods rule this place, is your sacrifice. Tempt me not. I have fought against Crystalman, old Achamoth Himself, I have witnessed the unsheathing of the Axis of Woe, and I have contended even against the Archons. All things must end, do you hear me?'

He rises, whipping off his kilt and crown, wiping his hands clean, and casts the garments into the dry grass by the side of the road. He continues down the path, naked but for his earrings and sandals, carrying the green stone in his left hand and eyeing the unmoving sun suspiciously as he goes.

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The path winds ahead of him, leading him to a house filled with scrolls. He sidles through the door, noting with amusement several others, mostly pale of complexion, looking bewildered and somewhat embarrassed by their nakedness. He marvels at strange hair colors and pale eyes, shaven faces, even a woman curiously tonsored under her arms and on her legs: repulsive.

Some moron has left a large scroll atop a table, unfurled and hanging down on the floor. He gingerly lifts the strange papyrus and rolls it back into place.

One of the pale-skins gawks at him. "Are you Zeus?'

Tarquinus flicks his eyes up from the table. Zeus... the name sounds familiar. The hill-country savages across the sea... a god of thunder. In the language of his ancient slaves...

"Zeus?" Tarquinus demands. The pale-skin steps back, alarmed by his tone. "Jupiter? That idiot? Do you have any idea..." But the northman clearly does not. Tarquinus shakes his head. "Stupid name," he murmurs, half to himself. "No. I am not that one. I am pleased to declare no divinity."

"Sorry, dude. You look like a statue I've seen, with like a curly beard."

Tarquinus runs his hands through his beard. Yes. This is a problem. "Do not call me 'dude,'" he says, pushing past the northman. His eyes range over the woman's body, and she shies away. "I mean you no harm," he assures her with a tight smile, and makes his way out of the strange house. "The beard must go," he announces to no one.

He walks further along the plain, an eyebrow cocked toward the sun. Some distance away lie wrecked chariots, strange, broken weapons. He walks, for how long he cannot tell, and comes to where a summoned god stands alongside the road. Strange armor, stranger runes - and the mark of women's magic. "Do I know you?" Tarquinus asks. The god hisses but makes no other reply. "You'd better stand guard, then," Tarquinus advises. "If the northmen behind me pay you homage, you should know they belong to some insane barber's cult. Might want to speak to them about that." A man in a brown robe, evidently an acolyte, approaches, but Tarquinus simply shoves him aside. "Go light a fire," Tarquinus tells the man, jerking his head at the god by the road. "He'll be wanting the smoke of a sacrifice, soon."

Further along, the road dead-ends into another. An all-too-familiar pentacle hangs over the gateway at the road's end, and agonized wails and moans ring faintly in his ears as though from a great distance. He reaches up, but a voice booms, "This way is closed to you, mortal. Only gods may pass."

Tarquinus pauses, his hand in the air, and slowly starts to laugh.

"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you? For me to be a god, for me to be as confined as you are? This is not your world, Samael," he says to the gate. "Do they believe you? Do they know the Sign keeps you in, and not them out?"

He glares silently at the gate. After a pause, he says, "Get your lackey - the crawling clown - master-of-a-thousand-guises-and-interesting-in-none-of-them - to tell your lies, then. It is, as we both know, the only thing he does with any competence. And as for you, well, I admit I thought you'd finished me when you tricked Arthur into striking me down with the Axis of Woe." He spreads his arms, still clutching the green stone in his left hand. "Well - here I am." His face breaks into a nasty smile. "I do hope you've forced yourself on some hapless mortal woman, as is your habit, so I can relieve the cosmos of the embarrassment of another of your progeny. You long to be what you are not, Abnormal One... and you never will be."

He decides to take the right-hand path away from the gate, chuckling as he goes.

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Please remember that all legends you write must be based on real things that happen in the game, do not add fantasy events. There are plenty of things happening to allow you a lot of things to write. Date is also very important, and adventure log quest (like wizards quest, or shade ballance) may be added as a history reference point to know in what context the event happened (you can also reference the adventure log page number if you want to)

I just found this in the Local Legends section, so I have to make it clear that some of the events described above are what Manu calls 'fantasy events.' I added them to provide some context for the character of Tarquinus. For the record, I was unaware of Manu's ruling on this, but did not intend to describe things other than in-game events from this point forward.

I hope the audience will forgive if I embellish the words of certain players for the sake of legibility and entertainment.

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Actually, I think that message was intended only for Yami, because her stories officially represent the game (she's the "Legend Teller"; that was the title granted to her). However, I think it's more agreeable if you try stick close to the truth as possible and limit your story to MD. But it's allowed either way.

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