After many long months, the Order of the Stick was finally back together. And they'd made great progress towards discovering the location of the next gate. They now found themselves in the midst of a sprawling desert, setting up camp as evening rapidly approached. It did not take long for the tents and campfire to be prepared, and the group soon found themselves sitting down around the campfire for dinner. Elan, it turned out, was as good as cooking as he was singing. (Demon Roach: At least it's edible…) As the group enjoyed their "delicious" supper, they discussed various things that had occured during their seperation. The topic eventually turned towards Vaarsuvius, and her attempts to find her lost friends…
"So lemme get this straight," Haley arched an eyebrow at her Elven friend, "You spent months trying to find us with magic, even at the cost of your own health?"
"Among other things…" Vaarsuvius sighed.
"Gee, Ears, I didn't know ya cared that much…" Belkar flashed a friendly grin that seemed genuine, yet at the same time mischevious…
"Aye, she work'd fer days an' nights ta find ya'll…" Durkon nodded.
"You should have seen some of the cool stuff she did!" Elan waved his arms excitedly. "Like the time she blew up the kitchen trying to create a special potion!"
"Thanks, Elan…" Vaarsuvius sighed, allowing her forehead to rest in the palm of her hand. "I am happy to know my failed experiments granted you entertainment…"
"Aw, don't feel bad, V!" Elan tried to comfort his friend. "You did your best, and you did come up with a few nifty spells and ideas. I don't know many wizards who can come up with ideas for their own spells, let alone make them!"
"He obviously doesn't know many wizards…" Belkar snickered, which earned him an elbow in the ribs from Haley.
"Thank you, Elan…" a small smile flickered across V's features for a brief moment. The last few months were still a touchy subject for her, even if one did not factor in the events of the last week…
"So what sort of stuff did you actually come up, V-man?" Roy asked. V never bothered to correct him on his nicknames for her - she quite enjoyed keeping them guessing at her gender.
"Yeah, I want to know what sort of stuff you did to try and help us!" Haley chimed in.
"Well, if you really want to know, I suppose I can enlighten you upon my arcane achievements," V smirked, feeling the familiar sense of pride in her work she once enjoyed. It touched her deeply (Demon Roach: Kinky…) that her friends were trying to cheer her up. She knew they probably didn't care what sort of spells she'd come up with - her magic usually went over their heads, both literally and metaphorically in Belkar's case. But the fact that they were asking her anyway meant that they wanted to cheer her up, which mattered a lot to Vaarsuvius after everything she'd been through lately. "I managed to come up with several powerful scrying spells, a few rather nifty sending spells, and a teleportation spell that I'm quite proud of…"
"Ooooh, tell us about the last one…" Haley beamed. Sure, she didn't care much for magic, but she did care a lot about her friend's emotional well-being. "What does it do?"
"Well, barring obstruction, it teleports me to the location of a person or group the moment they find themselves in a situation they will otherwise be unable to find a way out of. I simply input the name of the subject, and-" V snapped her fingers, "I'm right there with them the moment they find themselves in a dire situation they cannot otherwise escape from alive. And, just to be safe, I used every possible name and description I could come up with for you both…"
"Oh? Like that, Ears?" Belkar smirked. "I hope you remembered that I go by the title of Sexy Shoe-less God of Death…"
"As a matter of fact, I did…" Vaarsuvius sighed at her companion's pride. "I also used 'Haley and Belkar, Miss Starshine and Mr. Bitterleaf, the red-haired thief and the psychotic halfling, Elan's love interest and the bane of my existance, and of couse, the sly rogue who's an expert manipulator and the social outcast that follows them around…" V smirked upon finishing the last description. Haley grinned at what she took as a compliment, while Belkar's response was limited to a glare and a one-fingered salute. The whole group then shared a laugh, and moved on to the topic of Elan, his puppets, and the cults he'd helped form…
Elsewhere, in another time and dimension, the universe was at war. Peace and logic had long ago been replaced by violence and hate. Across galaxies, countless atrocities were made in the name of the Emperor's Will, the needs of the Greater Good, the desires of the Dark Gods, the sheer fun of going to WAAAAAAGH, protecting the threads of Fate, and finding the next meal. In this dark and grim future, there is only War. And somewhere in the midst of humanity's never-ending war against everything including itself, Ciaphas Cain, Imperial Commissar and Hero of the Imperium, was about to die.
"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHH!!!!!" the Ork roared as it appeared at the top of the trench wall. An insant later, a focused beam of energy reduced its face to a mass of seared flesh and charred bone. The hulking green brute toppled forward into the trench, landing with a loud -thwump- next to its killer.
"They're getting closer…" Ciaphas Cain, legendary Commissar and fearless Hero, growled in annoyance as he slammed a fresh magazine into his laspistol. Of course, he was only putting on a show. Truthfully, he wanted to curl up into a twitching ball and wait to have his spine used by an Ork as a toothpick, but he had a reputation to protect. Of course, the only person still alive in his trench was his loyal aide de camp Jurgen, but he couldn't in good conscience allow his smelly comrade to see him as the wimpy coward he truly was right before they died. And Ciaphas couldn't help but think that maybe, just maybe, one act of heroism in his dying moments might help make up for his lifetime of cowardice in the Emperor's eyes. … Yeah right, he mentally groaned. "We probably won't be getting out this alive - so we should make the most of our dying deeds!" he quickly added, remembering that as a Commissar, he wasn't allowed to say anything that wasn't encouraging - even if it was a bald-faced lie.
"As the Emperor Wills it…" Jurgen replied in his usual, stoic manner as he fired a burst from his las-rifle into another approaching Ork. The stocky Valhallan, owner of a hidious assortment of skin diseases, an overpowering stench, and a dark secret most of the Inquisition would kill to know about, had been Cain's aide de camp and faithfull lacky for many, many years. They'd fought Orks, Chaos Marines, Tyranids, Eldar, Traitors, and other countless enemies. And it seemed that at long last, their luck was finally about to run out. It seemed that for Commissar Cain, expert liar and skilled manipulator, and Jurger, social outcast and Cain's loyal follower, there was no escape from their coming doom…
One moment, the Order of the Stick was making fun of Roy's inability to fly, and Vaarsuvius was about to add her own witty comment. The next moment, there was a bright flash of light and a sizzle of static electricity in the air, and she was gone. The Order stared at the spot by the campfire where she'd been sitting no less than a second before, all of their expressions a mixture of shock and horror. Except for Belkar. His expression was one of sheer annoyance and rage. " NO!! NOT THIS AGAIN!!" he screamed at the sky.
- End Chapter 1 -