Romance and Treachery

The Union Forces

Acting on information received, General Deepcut took a crack squad of Department S fighters who were dropped off by the Misthorse close to the old Rose Temple, now a pile of rubble. They hid in the bushes and behind half-destroyed walls, waiting for the fight to begin.

A Romantic Night

Orellius Guar and the Spirit of Iron were the first to arrive: the former carrying a large red blanket and various bottles of scented oils, the latter carrying a large bottle of chocolate sauce. Embedded in the Spirit's arm was the Orison stone, which unfortunately Orellius had not persuaded the Spirit to leave behind.

“It's a nuisance trying to get that thing out of the Orrery,” Orellius had moaned, leaning seductively against the wall and pushing his hips out. “It just takes time we could be spending together.” He pouted at the Spirit.

“Imagine if something attacked us,” the Spirit purred, hips grinding against Orellius's. “How could I possibly protect you without it?” It swirled it's tongue around Orellius's ear and down to his mouth, kissing him forcefully. “You are so lovely,” it moaned at him.

Orellius felt slightly sick.

And so, the Spirit of Iron, with the Orison, took the blanket, laid it down on the ground and then laid Orellius down on the blanket, sliding his silk shirt over his head and kissing his way down his neck. Orellius reached out for the chocolate sauce and handed it to the Spirit, reaching up and kissing it square on the lips.

It's warm and humanoid, Orellius thought. Definitely as human now as it's ever going to get. I just have to keep it this way until reinforcements can turn up.

He smiled seductively up at the Spirit as the creature upturned the bottle of chocolate sauce over his stomach and reached for the zip on his trousers.


Bezeth met Koschei on the other side of the fragment from the Union troops. The Spirit of Red Roses was hovering protecively, looking rather anxious and worried as the two begin the early stages of the game. Bezeth explained the rules of each stage before it began, and the two started on her list of challanges, including fairly normal circus-trick style things including slights of hand, balancing on poles across rivers (fishing each other out of rivers), lassooing trees and swinging across fields, and batting balloons at oneanother. Both of them enjoyed the games and the mild forfeits which followed, including Koschei hopping across a field, Bezeth juggling seventeen newts in a spectacular manner, and both parties removing minor items of clothing such as shoes and socks.

Later challenges were slightly harder. There was the ale consumption challenge, which Koschei lost spectucularly, swaying across a wood and being held up by Bezeth. There was the stone chess, which was made virtually impossible by neither Bezeth nor Koschei remembering what was going on. After a half hour break, they went back to the games - the concept of electrocution through a mouthful of marbles sounded like fun until the Spirit of Roses confiscated the marbles. Bezeth glared at the Spirit and considered challenging her for minute, then backed down.

“Something isn't right here,” Koschei whispered to Rosalind. “I'll play one more game and then call it a day. I thought the idea was to lure Valk Tiller and the others into a trap - the games shouldn't be going on this long, and some of these are ridiculous. Getting us drunk and using all our energy - I'm not sure Bezeth can be trusted.”

The two looked over at Bezeth, who was lying on the ground looking lazily up at them, her four eyes glinting horribly.

“One last game,” Koschei said. “Then we'll go.”

Bezeth nodded. “Okay. Kite flying. Rules are simple - the wind is going in that direction, so we fly the kites into that grove over there. Ready. NOW!”

The two raced over to the grove, their kites tangled behind them. Koschei was in the lead, but he pulled up short and dropped his kite. His eyes widened in disbelief. Orellius Guar lay in the centre of the clearing, naked to the waist. Leaning over him was a tall male figure with a mop of dark hair, licking hungrily at his stomach. One of its hands was running through his hair, while the other was engaged in Orellius's trousers.

“Orellius Guar!” Koschei cried. “And the Spirit of Iron! Bezeth, have you seen this!” He stared in horrified fascination, then burst out laughing. “This has to be the funniest thing the Broken World has ever seen!” he exclaimed. “Look at the noble Unsullied now - by the Orrery, Orellius, are you actually enjoying this!”

Orellius said yes and thought no.

The Spirit of Iron looked hungrily at Koschei, then down at Orellius. Then over at the Spirit of Red Roses, who looked straight back at him.

“Uh, Bezeth, help,” Koschei called quietly. Then, louder, “Bezeth!”

“I think we're on our own,” said Rosalind.

In the bushes, Bezeth quietly conferred with Madam Imogene.

“Right,” Imogene said. “It really doesn't like natural things - Corn in particular is its main weakness - and right now all it's thinking of is Orellius Guar and whether it can make him do those little purring moaning noises by licking in various places. Don't count on it being distracted in a fight though - I've never sensed power like this before. To be honest, Bezeth, I don't think this thing can be defeated using violence. It's very nature seems to be made of the desire to cause harm. Higher level Spirit magic than mine could put a stop to it, of course, but I'm not going to be able to do much against that.

As for the Rose girl, she's got power of the peace and love kind, but she'll not count for much in a physical fight. Best bet you've got there is to have it trapped in a web of thorns - she can imprison it, but nothing more. If you still want to fight the thing, wait until I've done the ritual to empower her and then go for it - but, Bezeth, if you think you're losing, get out of this!”

The Fight

Orellius Guar put on his most seductive voice and snuggled his head against the Spirit of Iron's chest.

“Can I have a rose?” he asked softly. “One red rose. To make me feel loved.” He widened his eyes, looking up at the Spirit. “I know you don't care for me, but I'd enjoy this more if I could convince myself you did.”

The Spirit of Iron made little cooing noises into his hair and then looked beseachingly at Rosalind, who rolled her eyes. A beautiful thornless red rose sprung from the ground and was plucked by Rosalind, who handed it over. “One rose, Ferdinand. Because you're doing this for love, not power, for once.” She didn't see the Spirit of Iron roll its eyes, but Orellius did, and turned his head aside.

“She's not being very nice about our little tryst,” Orellius said. “I wouldn't stand for anyone talking to me like that - particularly not someone who has just interrupted what was shaping up to be a very pleasant evening.” He squeezed the Spirit where he thought it would enjoy it, noting as he did so that Koschei kai Morlock nearly doubled over laughing.

“Go away, Rosalind,” the Spirit of Iron said carelessly. “I'm having fun here for once - just go and bother someone else.”

The Spirit of Red Roses turned to leave, beckoning to the hysterical Koschei. Desperately, Orellius used his trump card. “Koschei was just telling me a few days ago how much he admires you,” he said, watching the expression on Koschei's face turn to absolute horror and the Spirit of Iron grin evilly. “I'm sure if you could persuade the Spirit of Red Roses to let Koschei stay a little while, the three of us could have all kinds of yummy fun.” He waved the bottle at Koschei. “Plenty of chocolate sauce to go around, after all.”

The Spirit of Iron lifted itself slowly off Orellius's body and looked Koschei up and down. It leapt towards him -

“my Gods, that thing's got some speed!” Bezeth commented from the bushes

- “and the Spirit of Red Roses walked regally between Koschei and the Spirit of Iron.

“Koschei's coming with me, Ferdinand,” she said calmly. “Koschei. Leave. Now.”

“Rosa,” the other Spirit wheedled, tilting its head onto one side. “Rosa, leave him for me. I promise not to hurt him too much - we can have fun and then I'll send him home.”

“You should see the things a forked tongue can do,” Koschei cut in. Both Spirits looked at him. “Really, Rosalind, it's all right. I'm not going to be damaged by it. Don't get yourself hurt over me.”

In the bushes, Imogene frantically cast her ritual, empowering the area and promoting the wellbeing of plant life. Rosalind felt the earth strengthen and support her and smiled. “He can't be trusted, Koschei. He'll hurt you for fun and leave you injured and traumatised. He's not going near you and That Is Final.”

Serrated knives seemed to spring from the very body of the Spirit of Iron and flew towards the Spirit of Red Roses, who deflected them with thorns. Cursing, the Spirit of Iron then spun a net from iron and threw it over Rose, only to have it gently lifted off her by thorny briars and pulled apart.

Orellius Guar pulled his leather trousers up, fastened them, and skidaddled into the bushes, where various members of Department S clung desperately to their professional integrity and tried not to poke fun at him.

It was increasingly difficult for human eyes to follow the fight. The Spirit of Iron desperately slashed at the Spirit of Red Roses with everything it could muster, but Imogene's spell had strengthened the other Orison, giving her the edge. Slowly but surely, thorns were creeping into a cirle around the oblivious Spirit of Iron.

“She'll have it held in a minute,” Imogene whispered. “Bezeth, take my advice, and let her deal with this thing.”

Bezeth had too much pride as a fighter for that and as the circle of thorns crept up and over the Spirit of Iron, trapping it, she jumped into the fray, sporting a variety of non-metallic weapons. Sharp obsidian blades were flung between the briars into the Spirit of Iron. It tried to keep the grin off it's face, failed, and finally threw it's head back and laughed terribly.

“Bezeth . . . Imogene whispered. “Bezeth . . . this isn't working. You're . . . you're strengthening it. Your fighting is stronger than my magic - you're weakening the Spirit of Roses . . . the energy you're giving off it feeding the Spirit of Iron . . . she can't hold it any longer!”

The circle of thorns snapped into brittle pieces and the Spirit of Red Roses was flung backwards, crashing onto the ground. She raised her arm to shield herself from the advancing Spirit of Iron, which raised an iron sword above her head. Imogene felt her ritual die and the ground became cold and hard.

“Ferdinand - please,” Rosalind whispered.

The Spirit of Iron brought the sword down, to have it parried by Koschei kai Morlock, holding it in a noose made from the rope he had been using in games against Bezeth. General Deepcut, seeing his chance, stormed out from the bushes with the Department S troops and engaged Koschei in battle. Koschei wasn't too bad at fighting, but the General was a force to be reckoned with, dressed as he was in head-to-foot armour which deflected all Koschei's hits.

“Look to the Red Rose!” the General cried. “Nobody innocent will die today! Koschei kai Morlock, I have evidence of your nefarious dealings! You dressed as the Orange God to trick the poor insane Phytarin Pineapple, thus causing her to start a holy war which tore the Fallen apart and wasted the lives of many Union troops! You sabotaged all efforts of Orellius Guar to bring peace to the City and spread information causing riots, which led to the deaths of many. You are a callous murderer who causes trouble for the sake of seeing the damage, and as such I, Kopeck Deepcut of the Union, am proud to put an end to your life of crime!”

“Really,” asked the Spirit of Iron. “He did all that! Sounds like somebody I ought to be friends with!” and he went straight for General Deepcut.

“Don't fight it!” Imogene cried. “Take the blows! Can it hurt you in that armour?”

“Probably not,” replied the General, and stood silent while the Spirit of Iron battled him with everything it had. While it could not hurt the General, the General could not hurt it either, and seeing they were in a stalemate, the Spirit of Iron turned its attention back to the Spirit of Red Roses.

“They can't stop me, Rosa,” it taunted. “None of them here has the power - nothing alive can defeat me in a fight. Give up now and I'll leave here. I'll take Orellius back to the Orrery and play with him there. I won't even take Morlock back to join the fun. Give in and they're all saved.”

The Spirit of Red Roses was too frightened to speak. She nodded her assent and tipped her head back, exposing her throat. The Spirit of Iron giggled evilly and lunged for her, it's fingernails turning into iron spikes-

Koschei kai Morlock threw himself inbetween the Spirit of Iron and the Spirit of Red Roses, blood spouting from his chest where the iron fingernails struck him. Startled, the Spirit of Iron leapt back, and looked fairly guilty when it saw Koschei lying on the floor, blood slowly covering all his clothing.

“He's in a lot of pain,” the General said, and raised his sword. The Spirit of Red Roses turned her head away as it was brought down, and Koschei breathed once and then lay still. Rosalind lifted the body into her lap and cradled it.

“You didn't have the right to kill him!” she spat at General Deepcut. “He should have been brought back for trial! He didn't deserve to die like this!”

The General looked awkward. Dealing with a crying Orison had not been part of his training. Madam Imogene laid a hand on the Spirit's shoulder. “He was dying anyway,” she whispered. “The General did a kind thing. Koschei was in a lot of pain.”

Imogene nodded at Bezeth and the General, and they walked away. Orellius Guar followed.


Rosalind sat in the clearing all night, holding Koschei's body. Word had been sent to Clan Morlock of the evidence against Koschei, and his end, and in the morning representatives came to take the body for the death rituals. Isolde kai Morlock put her arm around the Orison and led her away, promising her a front row seat at the face-flaying.

Bezeth, Imogene and Deepcut made their way back to the other side of the fragment, where they found the Misthorse waiting.

“Was Koschei actually dying?” Bezeth asked.

Imogene shrugged. “He wasn't in good condition. It's possible. But this way, the Spirit of Red Roses hears something which makes her, if not happy, at least resigned, and the General here doesn't have to worry about being strangled by thorns in the middle of the night. Everyone wins.”

“Except Koschei,” Bezeth said, and cackled.

“I expect Captain Slavo will drop you ladies in Confederacy space,” Kopeck Deepcut said. “Thanks for your assistance - I'm glad we got Morlock.”

“We failed spectacularly to get the Spirit of Iron,” Bezeth muttered. “I've never met anything I couldn't fight before. That thing's too strong to be allowed to continue.”

“We need high level Spirit magic to get that thing,” Imogene said. “That, or someone with seriously good skill with nature to get enough Corn that we can empower a Spirit of Corn or weapons made from Corn. That'll work against it.”

“I noticed you had some sort of device which enabled you to predict its movements,” Deepcut said. “Is it a glass stone?”

“It's an Eye,” said Imogene, and showed him.

“Do you want a lift?” Bezeth asked Orellius.

Oleg Slavo's head popped out of the Misthorse. “He's not coming on my ship,” he declared. “He's absolutely covered in chocolate sauce. Look at the state of him!”

“I'll get back via the ferrymen, thanks,” Orellius said, and watched as the Misthorse flew off into space. He sat on a grassy bank and waited for the ferrymen to arrive. He heard a vague rustling in the grass and the Spirit of Iron sat down beside him.

“I quite liked you,” said the Spirit conversationally. “I've been powering your Orrery all this time, and whatever Rosa might have said, I wouldn't have hurt you or Koschei. Not much anyway. You'd have survived. Instead, you lured me here with promises of carnal delights beyond my wildest dreams. You try to persuade me to leave my Orison behind. And when I get here I you get as much pleasure as you want from me and then you try to make me fight Rosa, presumably in the hope of polishing one or other of us off. I'm not entirely stupid, Orellius Guar.”

“I never got any pleasure from you anyway,” Orellius muttered dully. “I can't stand you. I'm embarrassed and cold and I've lost my best shirt, and the entire Broken World is going to laugh at me. You might as well kill me now. That's what you're going to do, isn't it? Ferdinand”.

The Spirit of Iron looked thoughtful, then giggled. “No,” it said, laughing. “I'm not. I'm going to do exactly what you don't want me to. I'm going back into that precious Orrery of yours and I'm going to stay there as long as I like and there's nothing you can do about - wait, what!!!! What do you mean I didn't give you any pleasure! I'm damned good at what I do and you were having fun there, I swear it!”

The ferryman came and Orellius watched with a heavy heart as the Spirit of Iron went back into the Orrery and refused to leave.

game2/koschei_death.txt · Last modified: 2009/03/16 16:45 by gm_rob