From the Story Arc: The Lecture

Previous Story in the Arc: Steps by Comrade Hero (Wednesday, May 09, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Paragon City University by Comrade Hero (Tuesday, July 24, 2007)

(posted Monday, June 11, 2007)

Oranbega was not a place for the unwary to tread. Wall mounted torches cast baleful orange light across the ancient stone passageways and corridors. A chill breeze sent flickering shadows dancing around the carved statues and engraved columns.

Yet there was no sign of life in this stronghold of the Circle of Thorns. No bugs to be trod underfoot, no spiders patiently spinning cobwebs from the corners of the arched ceilings. As quiet as death. And just as deceptive and dangerous to the unprepared.

Like an unseen wraith, Rack cloaked himself in invisibility as he descended into the depths of Oranbega. Every so often he had to stop and negotiate the mystic wards and arcane traps that had been laid in place by the Baron Zoria’s mages. A wrongly placed step or a minor inflection in the counter spell could trigger off alarms that would summon Circle mages, and often much, much worse.

Many heroes, and villains, made the mistake of assuming that Oranbega was little more than an underground city of dark twists and sinister turns that could have been wrenched from the pages of some Role-playing game. There was treasure to found here, and you were definitely rolling the dice if you thought you could hack and slash your way through the Circle of Thorns to reach it. And the dice were heavily stacked against you.

Down here there was no-one last minute saving grace from a Medical Evacuation Teleportation System. The mystic energies permeated Oranbega like a thick veil. If you fell here your body and soul would be stolen away and imprisoned in the blink of an eye. And you didn’t want to be caught alive by the Circle of Thorns. Not ever.

Rack moved onwards in silence, his swift footsteps unheard on the polished stone as he negotiated his way deeper into Oranbega, past demonic sentries and spectral guardians bound to the Circle mages by blood pacts and soul bindings. These supernatural allies of the Circle mages would gladly tear them apart if they could, servitude to the Circle of Thorns did not come lightly or willingly for these entities.

Yet Rack felt no pity for their plight. He felt nothing at all. He was here for one thing. And he was not visiting death tonight upon the Circle of Thorns or their infernal minions. He was stealing from them.