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 Paradise or Penitentiary?

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Mustafa Al-Nar

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PostSubject: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Thu May 31, 2018 10:49 pm

It was night when Mustafa roused himself. His body ached from his face down nap on the dirt floor, but he had never felt more rested. As he slowly stood, stretching his strained limbs, he took his bearings. The large bronze gates were behind him, and were unyielding. He tested them, as if to pull them open, but this time, they did not budge to his force as he attempted to pull them open once more. Mustafa frowned, examining the gate for hinges, he found none...though he distinctly recalled the gates opening inwards as he had entered.

Accepting that he could do nothing with it at this point, he turned his attention towards the inside of the compound, and was somewhat disappointed in how little he could make out. The night was clear, but the moon still new and visibility was poor. So, as far as he could tell, all there was to see was a dirt road leading up a slight incline, with no real destination in sight. Mustafa slung his long empty rifle and, having nothing better to do, decided to follow the road to see if he could find out where he was.

The night was chilly, not as cold as was typical for the desert, but still chilly enough to make the walk enjoyable. The winding road proved a solid place for thinking, as despite its turns, it was not treacherous. Mustafa gathered his thoughts on his most recent events, realizing that he had no idea where he could be as no modern structures had intact bronze gates to his knowledge, his thoughts turned to the beast that had brought him here. No such animal could exist in reality. A lion unharmed by lead, and unfazed by explosives? Such a thing was preposterous - or so he had said. He had quickly learned no one else was able to see it, but had learned to anticipate its appearances, and make use of the knowledge of the coming tragedy to plan to keep as much of his squad a-

It struck him then, what had happened, what had cost his brothers their lives. Mustafa doubled over, collapsing to his knees as his ears rang bringing him back to the first explosion, the one that was meant to claim his life, the roar of flame as his mind shut down again as he watched his sisters burn.

He stayed there a while, not noticing the time until the vision passed, and was replaced by the more recent traumas of watching his friends gunned down around him, as the lion stalked toward him, mandibles gleaming in the moonlight, eyes reflecting the pale gibbous...wait...gibbous?

His mind seizing on the distraction, Mustafa turned his gaze again skyward. Indeed, the moon was near new...how much time had he lost during the chase? Nothing made sense - was he in fact dead now as well? No worse (and in fact far better) than he deserved, a bizarre puzzle like this. Resolving to find the answer, he retook his feet and shoved his traumas aside, just like he had before. Scanning the sky for stars to try to identify which way he was headed and how he had arrived here.

Finally, after a long hike, he came upon a clearing. In its center, stood a large brown tent, larger than any used for normal camping. Light came from within, illuminating it as the only homely place around. He hoisted his rifle, which, while empty, would still be enough to scare most and cautiously approached. He ducked inside and let his eyes adjust to the light within. "Hello?" He called out in English without realizing. "Is someone here?"
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Faustus Epicurus

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:04 pm

Epicurus sat on his plush wine red couch surrounded by overstuffed pillows with a pipe of tobacco in his hand contemplating the turn of events. The room in this part of the tent was a sitting room with a game of go on the coffee table. Opposite Epicurus' couch was another green couch filled with over stuffed pillows with a low brown coffee table in between the two.

I'm not finished yet, but the game is closing in on the late stage and I need a power play...flip a crucial piece...I've already been boxed in pretty thoroughly.

He heard another mortal voice calling out in his entry way.

why does my foresight always fail me when it comes to these things?

"Over here young demigod!" He called as he blew out a stream of smoke which curled and formed a trail out to the source of the voice.

"come towards the semi-sinister but not actually sinister red lit room!"

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Mustafa Al-Nar

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:41 pm

Mustafa squinted as a trail of smoke came floating out of the tent in a way that did not seem to match airflow.

Dead...not off the table... He lowered his rifle, but kept it drawn. He ducked under the smoke and followed it within. The way it curled and wound, there was no doubt that its flow was not natural. The voice that had called out had seemed friendly, but honeyed words could conceal poisonous intent, especially with the air within this tent. From the moment he had entered it, something had felt different. The air was charged and buzzing, but not from electricity, or at least Mustafa didn't think so. Something else was at work.

He followed the smoke guide to the aptly called red-lit room. The sinister moniker seemed hyperbole, as all that he saw within was a slender and well-dressed older white man smoking a pipe, lounging on a deep reddish-brown couch with a look of query on his face as Mustafa raised his empty rifle once more, marking the man. He scanned the room further, spying the vacant couch opposite the man, an opposing green, and the coffee table set between with a grid board atop it. White and black stones lay scattered on the board, forming patterns with their positions on the vertices of the grid.

Ignoring the board, Mustafa checked behind the couches, under the table, and the various corners. Determining that he and the older man were alone, at least in this particular room, he lowered his rifle and remained standing, hoping his height would aid the interrogation, as it often did. He wouldn't need his rifle against this man alone, though he got the feeling that even loaded it might not have been of any more use here than it had been against the lion as the smoke trail the old man had proved the source of vanished as easily as it had materialized.

"Who are you?" Mustafa's voice seemed strangely strained, and he realized he was parched. "And where are we?"

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Faustus Epicurus

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:20 am

Epicurus laughed when he saw the demigod enter with an empty gun. He watched Mustafa check each of the possible hiding places for others chucking under his breath.

"There's no one else here right now, though not like you could do anything about it if there were....especially with that empty thing you are carrying around."

Epicurus clenched the pipe in his teeth, reaching beside his seat into the couch cushions. He retrieved the sword he had stored for just this occasion. He casually flung it hilt first at the demigod.

"Since having a weapon seems to soothe you, child. Here. It is one of the many I have at my disposal but you may have it, it is named 'Ambassador'. I forged it when I was a young warrior, its not the best quality but its serviceable."



The sword glinted with malevolent intent, glowing gold in the darkness, its name was etched into the blade in large greek script. There was also a strange symbol burned into the leather grip.



"This weapon is made of Celestial Bronze, you've probably never heard of it considering you're from the mortal world. Celestial bronze is mined by the Cyclopes from Mount Olympus, the home of your father, and is prized as it is rare here. But what am I doing? You're a son of the Forge Master, you'llbe interested in the process. Well, once mined the ore is tempered in Mount Etna and cooled it in the River Lethe. Once finished, the metal is deadly to creatures of the magical world like that lion you were running from. This metal however will not harm mortals, but demigods are also affected by it because of the nature of their blood. Artifacts and weapons made of celestial bronze are known to emit a faint golden glow as this is what the ancients incorrectly referred to as Oricalcum, though that is an entirely different mineral. Anyways, The metal is able to disperse monsters into dust once a weapon made of celestial bronze passes through them, this sends the monsters back to Tartarus from whence they came."

Once he finished his instruction, he stood up and paced around Mustafa looking him over.

"I...am the owner of this place, The Oasis." he continued to walk circles around Mustafa slowly.

"My name is Faustus Epicurus, and you are in one of the few safe and free places for your kind. Think of it like an Oasis in the desert. You are safe here, son of Hephaestus."

He motioned to an empty space in the room and a banquet table appeared.

"Now please, help yourself to some food and join me." He motioned at the couches. "I'll answer any questions you might have."

Faustus made his way back to his seat and exhaled another plume of smoke with a satisfied smile on his face.

A forge master....finally.....whatever you are doing Ezekiel, the Fates clearly do not favor you any longer...
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Mustafa Al-Nar

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Sat Jun 02, 2018 12:09 pm

Mustafa caught the sword as he slung his rifle across his back again. So the old man can tell the gun is empty with a glance...he is not normal. He examined the blade. He had never held one before, but the moment he grasped the warm leather hilt, he flourished it, with such ease that he felt like he had been waiting for it his whole life. He blinked, startled by this, and the seeming flood of information he seemed to know of this blade. The weapon was clearly second hand, but this had not dulled its edge, or at least, it had been recently polished. It was well balanced, light enough for single hand usage, but with enough space to grip with both hands should heavier strikes be desired. The metal was as the old man said, completely alien - nothing on earth could match its bizarre sheen and combination of strength and elasticity. It was not brittle in the slightest, and could not be broken, even had he swung full force upon an anvil. An anvil? His archaic speech and the atmosphere must be getting to me.  To his surprise, Mustafa realized he was smiling while he had been examining the blade. Not a large smile, but the barest of smiles was unfamiliar to him, until now. He held the blade at ease and looked for a corresponding scabbard, though he did not find one in the dim red light. He bowed his head slightly to this strange, old man. "Thank you."

Placing both weapons down onto the couch he was offered, Mustafa took the man up on his offer for food, and more importantly, drink. He was well-rested, but now his body reminded him of its starvation. He took a large cut of the roasted meat, and some of the red grapes which seemed surprisingly fresh, and a joy he had not tasted for quite some time now. He took a glass of the red liquid, matching the tone of the opposite couch, and tentatively took a sip. A red wine. That would do for later, but now he desperately needed water. Examining the table, he found the pitcher of brass filled with clear water. Here he poured a drink and drank immediately - the smoothest and sweetest of recent memory. He poured himself a second glass, put both glasses and plate down upon the table and sat into the couch facing Faustus. He drank and ate cautiously and silently for a moment. Finding nothing wrong with the food, he ran through Faustus's recent speech, and frowned, as there were many things that made no sense, but which part should he address first.

"Thank you for your hospitality, Faustus. However, I am not a son of...Hef-ai-stus? I am Mustafa Al-Nar, son of Zaid Al-Nar." As he drank the clean water, his taut voice recovered and he squared his shoulders a bit, sitting straight. "I have many questions. First, Am I dead?" He emphasized the last word a bit more than he meant to, the finality of the meaning matching the punctuation. He took a swig of water before continuing. "What are you, A Sorcerer?" The myths had spoken of magi, men who could conjure, but they were legends, not to be believed. "What do you intend for me?" as I am clearly not the man you seek . He nodded thinking those were the most pressing, but then the last one of great import popped into his head as well. "Why can I not leave?"

He looked at Faustus, gauging the man's reactions to his queries though his focus slipped as he tasted the meat - succulent and sweet but well-spiced. A marvel! He had to look at the meat incredulous, before devouring it again, savoring the mixture of tastes, and losing his previously projected stern demeanor in the joy of such a meal, before recovering it as he completed his questions.
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Faustus Epicurus

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:28 am

Epicurus watched the young demigod wield the sword, his father's gift to him analyzing the sword intuitively.

Yes this is a son of the forge master....he could be very useful indeed.

"Ah, well I suppose there are some things we need to go over."

It was good this man had an appetite, he would need strength for the trials to come.

"Mustafa, you are a demigod. You are a son of Hephaestus, the forge master of the Olympians. I am...yes you could say I am a sorcerer of sorts."

He chuckled at his joke that only he would understand.

"and no you are not dead, you are just now coming back to life. You have been dead for some time trapped in the mundane world of the mortals. Now you will start to slowly come back to the land of the living, your senses will awaken, your powers will grow and you will in time meet your real father."

He smiled at the last question. It was not really a question, but a challenge.

"You can leave whenever you want. The spell that keeps this place safe from those monsters out there tries to keep demigods from leaving before they've had a chance to recover from wounds and if they have forgotten a weapon. So, you did not have a weapon and the spell did not want you to die to the lion so...you were not permitted to leave. But now you have Ambassador...so...you should be fine."
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Mustafa Al-Nar

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:44 am

Nothing the old man said made any sort of rational sense. Demigod? Son of forge master of the Olympians...presumably gods he held of some kind. He claims this is not a cage, but rather that which I came from to have been the prison.. Mustafa's brow furrowed as he considered his options. Things were strange here, that was undeniable. This old man was, under any other circumstance, insane. But he had some degree of power, and admitted as much. And there was an itch, something hard to pin down, that felt what he said made sense. It was nothing like what Mustafa had felt before, except for when he had held the blade for the first time.

There is no choice but to adapt. I live, but the rules have changed...powers beyond mortal realm exist and are obtainable if Epicurus is to be believed

He downed his wine as he finished the grapes and savored the flavors before speaking again. "How did you know of the lion?" The man had said that it was just one of a kind of creature, ...of the magical world, whatever that means. Tartarus is their origin. And they turn to ash when slain...the test is obvious then, whether I should truly take this man at his word.

"What sort of powers?" Mustafa's mind turned to his impossible survival several years ago. There was no mundane explanation. A Forge Master would fear no flame... He looked around for a source of fire to test this, something he had not done before, but in a place like this, where logic was no longer sound, testing the impossible was now preferred.

"What does the symbol mean?" Mustafa picked up Ambassador and turned it so the sign was clearly visible. Is it his sign? Or of my "father's" origin? He took second glass of wine, drinking it slower as he gathered his mind and tested his own muscles. As these questions were answered, the time for vengeance and truth was approaching. "Is the lion still at the gate?" His eyes sharp as steel, he focused his mind to task. To learn what was true.
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Faustus Epicurus

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:35 pm

"It's an uncommon monster however other hero's have slain it, most notably Hercules." He smiled "I see it in your aura. Claw marks and sulfur."

He stood and walked around the man, eyeing him, searching his aura for other signs.

"I see grief and panic."

Smoke flowed around Epicurus in his mind's eye. He saw fire, screaming, and war. War such as only usually follows a son of Ares.

"You've lost your family, I see....." he said in a reverent tone. "Yes,an all too common story."

He shook his head slowly

"A demigod inherits much power and much tragedy. The fates are often unkind, and the gods uncaring to their plight. That's where others like myself fall, to pickup the slack and care for those abandoned by the powers that be."

He sighed and counted on his fingers.

"Usually the powers associated with the children of the vulcan are thus. 1. Strength greater than that of any mortal. 2. Endurance beyond any mere mortal. 3. Control of the flames, and immunity to them. and finally 4. The knowledge of the forge and how to make godly weapons and armor."

He steepled his hands together

"The lion is still at the gate and will remain so until you slay it. Which I recommend you do not attempt until you have some training as it is a particularly hard to kill monster."
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Mustafa Al-Nar

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:46 pm

A sorcerer's sight reveals this much? Much could have been guessed had the old man known Mustafa's origin, but there was a little too much precision to be pure happenstance. However, it is not absolute. Mustafa thought briefly of his remaining family, Zeinab and his father, foster father if everything that Faustus said could be truly trusted. That remained to be seen.

The old man was going out of his way to appear friendly, a safe haven. Still, nothing could be this simple. Goodness for goodness's sake did not exist. He had something to gain here, A gathering of "demigods." A private army of super-mortals... The idea didn't seem too far-fetched. If this purpose was as he said, then tying those "fates" to his, might be inherently profitable. A forge master to outfit an army, of course, would be valuable. It wasn't for sure, but if what he said proved true, then this was the working theory for this man's "kindness." And if it's going to be like that, I best get my value.

A terrible thought crossed Mustafa's mind...Could this sorcerer have sent the lion? Merely to gain my allegiance? The idea seemed needlessly complex and time-consuming, but then who knew the minds of such men. If that proves to be the case, then my reckoning will be had. Until then, I will play his games.

As Faustus listed the powers out, Mustafa reflected. He had always been physically strong and tough, much more so than his peers and those several years his better. That much was explained by genetics, all his family were physically intimidating...well, except his "father," but even he wasn't unfit. However, immunity to flames...that much had shown itself once, and if it could be tested, I would supposedly have mastery as well... Mustafa had a sneaking suspicion his propensity for explosives was less free than he initially supposed. The knowledge as well. He eyed Ambassador. He knew next to nothing of swords prior to holding it, yet he knew various properties and the quality of the blade and steel...or bronze rather. The evidence was difficult to ignore.

Still, he witheld an answer. He did not reveal the symbolism. Mustafa hefted Ambassador, once more examining the strange sign. Does he mean to keep it secret? He promised me answers but witheld one. This confirmed Mustafa's thought that, though obviously friendly at the moment, Faustus had motives of his own, and could not be wholly trusted. However, he could be trusted enough for now, and seemed to have dealt in good faith besides. Mustafa tilted his head and stroked his goatee, before nodding and hardening resolve. His eyes ablaze he  stood, his numerous other questions could wait. "Then train me Sorcerer. I will...I must slay the beast." My death will serve no purpose if I cannot rid the world of such an abomination. This was the first priority, and would also serve to open the gate to test if he truly was free to leave. Two birds, one stone.
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Faustus Epicurus

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:46 am

"Excellent, then first thing is first. Let's get you settled in your house."

He clapped his hands and another wind spirit appeared.

"Please escort Mustafa here to the House of Hephaestus. If I am wrong and the house does not let him in, then please show him to the ritual field."

He returned his eyes to Mustafa and put a little steel in his gaze.

"Please go and make yourself comfortable. Get a night's sleep. Then meet me at the ritual field for official claiming. We have several other guests arriving....and you will all meet then."
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Mustafa Al-Nar

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PostSubject: Re: Paradise or Penitentiary?   Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:09 pm

Mustafa blinked as a faint hazy whirlwind of dust and sand blew in at Faustus's cause. It seemed to settle into a vaguely humanoid shape, then gestured at the old man's command.
Another impossibility - just when you get used to them.
Mustafa took a deep breath then returned Faustus's steel gaze with equal pressure. "Then I shall go rest, and see you at this field in the morning Sorcerer."
I will meet your soldiers, those who you would have me outfit for battle. Let us see if any are worth the steel...or bronze in this case.
Mustafa nodded to Faustus, and exited the tent, carrying Ambassador in his right hand, his empty rifle slung about his back.
Let us see what my "father's" hall has to offer.
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