Of Insects and Undead

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Reythaak

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#1
[bimg=no-lightbox | fleft]https://file.toyhou.se/images/8616644_lQbVgNeSwEhFPRu.png[/bimg][bimg=no-lightbox | fright]https://file.toyhou.se/images/8637580_UtgUoAN1DB3Yok5.png[/bimg]
[glow=#000000]Triskalyn and Storm[/glow]​

  ”This is really far out of the way, Tris.”

”You just don’t like being out of your natural habitat.”

”...That might be part of it. My kind is really unusual around here...”

”I hate to break it to you, but “your kind” is unusual just about everywhere.”

”...well, you’re not wrong…”

It was an odd sight, a woman garbed in scale armor that looked as if it had been dyed with long-dried blood, walking next to a tall humanoid avian with red feathers and a vulture-esque look to him. They certainly weren’t the usual sort for the area, where the strangest folks usually encountered were the insectoid Hivers. The avian (an aarakocra) looked like his kin might have been the Hiver’s natural predators sometime far in the past, but not so much the case now. Aarakocra weren’t an even remotely common sight here.

”They need help. We can help. So we will help,” the woman, Tris, said firmly, fixing her bright golden gaze on the aarakocra.

The bird shifted somewhat uncomfortably. He might have been bigger than Tris, and most would probably be more concerned by him than Tris at a first glance (something about the red sclera and yellow irises was enough to make most uncomfortable), but the cleric was definitely a force to be reckoned with. Especially wearing red dragon scale mail. And this wouldn’t be the first time she had tangled with undead; she had told him stories about the pair of undead trolls and the 15 other lesser undead she had faced previously. The lesser undead had been obliterated in the “light of Pelor” as she had put it, though the trolls had been a bit more hardy. He pulled his wings a bit tighter against his body, a hand ghosting down to brush over the fetchings sticking out from the quiver belted to his waist.

”Whatever you say, Tris,” he sighed, ”They should be close enough to a human that I can hunt them just the same.”

Tris stopped abruptly, turning to face her companion and folding her arms over her chest.

”The undead aren’t humans anymore, Rellaahk,” she said firmly, ”Remember that.”

The bird nodded. Serious time, hm? Most didn’t bother using his “proper” name, so to speak. It was a little difficult for human vocal chords. Most stuck to Storm, the name the tabaxi had given to him quite some time ago. He ruffled up his feathers a bit.

”Alright. Alright. C’mon, let’s get in the tavern and start seeing what we can learn.”

There was some irony in the ranger being the one to suggest they get into the inn, and it wasn’t lost on Tris in the slightest. The sides of her lips curled up into a smile.

”That’s usually my line.”

  
They stepped into the inn, being stared at pretty openly upon their entrance. Tris gave one of her almost patented cheery little waves, absolutely glowing with a faint radiant energy. A little aura of literal sunshine around the cleric.

Storm slunk out from behind Tris to catch them a table, and Tris went to handle the business of food and drink.

”I don’t know why she bothers. She could just make food,” he murmured, shaking his head. Tris was an odd one. But effective, he couldn’t deny that.
  
 

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#2
The air was thick with weariness. The kind grown from latent racism and general distrust of outsiders. Nobody approached the pair as they sat down, overpricing the food and water they bought and the guards only eyeing the two of them and one other table.

The other table contained a party of hiveborn, but unlike the rest of their kin, it was a mixed table. All the other benches filled with eating hiveborn, where caste separated. The burly soldiers ate on their on, the workers ate among themselves as well, but the table the guards were eyeing almost more intensely than the outsiders was filled with two soldiers, three workers, and one breed of hiveborn that stood taller, more regal than the rest

The regal one stared at the two, his table eating homemade meats and rations rather than the completely uniform meals of rice and grubmeat offered by the tavern. The soldiers and drones acted robotically, with only the regal Prince behaving humanely.As the cleric sat down, the Prince projected his intents towards the two.

His name was Si'Qraki. He was a rogue prince, and he wanted to root out this necromancer, even if his own kin hated him.

He wanted to help them, but he wasn't used to the rigours of the outside of his world.
 

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#3
[bimg=no-lightbox | fleft]https://file.toyhou.se/images/8616644_lQbVgNeSwEhFPRu.png[/bimg][bimg=no-lightbox | fright]https://file.toyhou.se/images/8637580_UtgUoAN1DB3Yok5.png[/bimg]
[glow=#000000]Triskalyn and Storm[/glow]​

  While Tris was a little bit... miffed by their "welcome," the bird took it much more in stride, offering up a slight shrug to the frowning cleric. He was much more use the kind of treatment the insectoids were giving them.

"Not everyone welcomes Pelor," Storm commented, and proceeded to nibble at his own food.

Tris wrinkled her nose slightly, then in an act of pure childishness, stuck her tongue out at Storm. The bird just laughed as she started nibbling her meal.

Neither were particularly talented at telling the difference between the hiveborn when they walked in. Rellaahk studied them from the perspective of animals almost idly as he ate; he understood how they worked pretty rapidly. Tris was a bit more stuck, it taking her some time to finally start noticing the differences between the drones and soldiers.

The pair's attention was pulled away a few moments later, Storm's head swiveling and bright eyes landing on the prince. Tris followed his gaze, and let out a little "huh" noise.

Well. I wasn't expecting anyone here to be telepathic... the cleric mused. She shrugged. It made some things easier, she supposed. She looked to Storm, as if asking his opinion on the matter. The aarakocra shrugged, more with his wings than the shoulders that led to his arms.

Tris stood and walked over to Si'Qraki. She had decided by this point to drop the little sunshine aura she usually kept around herself, the hivers didn't really care about it.

"I don't know how your mindspeak-stuff works, so I figure it's easier if I just come talk," the bright cleric said with a smile, "I think we could probably use some more help going after the necromancer, if that's what you're offering. We're a lot more use to doing stuff like that; necromancers and liches and undead aren't that different in different parts of the world. And Storm there-" she paused to motion to the red-plumed bird, who hadn't bothered to join her. He trusted her to take care of people-matters. "I don't think he's run into an environment so far that he couldn't survive in."
  
 

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#4
Si'Qraki gave a slow, calm nod as his underlings kept feeding in silence, he gave a small nod to her words, before leaning back.

She was going to have to forgive him, but he couldn't speak. He had his vocal chords ripped out long ago. It was part of the reason he took up the art of solipsism to begin with... after that it was rather... eye opening.

He gave a shrug, gesturing to the Hiveborn around them.

It was hard to be a member of this place, and it was before he even believed his min was the center of his reality.

It was faint, but the cleric gained the notion to giggle, so pointedly artificial to make it clear it was his own emotion.
 

Reythaak

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#5
[bimg=no-lightbox | fleft]https://file.toyhou.se/images/8616644_lQbVgNeSwEhFPRu.png[/bimg][bimg=no-lightbox | fright]https://file.toyhou.se/images/8637580_UtgUoAN1DB3Yok5.png[/bimg]
[glow=#000000]Triskalyn and Storm[/glow]​

  Tris tilted her head at this knowledge, seeming to consider for the insectoid creature before her. Hmm. Ripped out vocal chords? Enough time, and I might be able to do something about that… the cleric thought, though it wasn’t a directed thought. Just one of those further-in-the-back-of-one’s-head things.

”Not a problem. Things happen.” she flashed a smile. He wasn’t the first telepath the bright woman had interacted with. The first insect-telepath, yes, but. Then another tilt of her head, and she looked around at the hiveborn. She had heard little bits and pieces about them on her way to the area, but still didn’t know too much about the race as a whole.

”Having your own mind is an oddity among your kind, then?” she asked rather bluntly. There was a little bit of a pause, ”Sorry, that probably came off as a rude. You don’t have to answer that.” she flashed a smile, trying to cover her slight embarrassment at the mistake.

She took a moment to glance over at Storm, and crooked a finger towards the bird, motioning him to where she stood.

He raised an eyebrow, a motion barely noticeable under his feathers, but stood nonetheless and made his way over easily.

”This is Si’Qraki. He offered to help us handle the… er… problem.” the cleric said, straight to the point.

Storm eyed Si’Qraki, than the other hiveborn that clustered around. He already pegged Si’Qraki as having an unusual role in the place. ”Is that so?” the Aarakocra said rather calmly, inspecting the other hiveborn a little more closely, ”Might be… useful…” a pause as he scratched at the spot where his beak connected to his skin, ”Couple more sets of eyes helps keep us from ending up zombie-chow.”

He gave a nod.

”We. Well. Tris. Will need to rest before we head out, but we don’t need any supplies or necessarily to stay in town to do so,” he said simply. ”So. Whenever you’d like to go root out the problem shouldn’t be a problem. Sooner is better, though.”
  
 
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Lurcolm

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#6
Amusement came from Si'Qraki.

He didn't think she was rude. He's interacted with enough of the other Sentients to know that having your own mind is a given.

He tilted his head to one of the workers, who promptly stood up and turned around to watch the cleric and the birdman, eyes empty of all thought.

While he may have a mind of his own, the others next to him do not. To say hey'd have minds on their own would be... false, for lack of better word. They are more like limbs to him. They have their own minds, simple as they are, and they have their own eyes, but they have no will. They cannot be like him. They've been bred not to.

A simple shrug was all he gave as a response to his mental statement. He didn't know what else to say.

Te other hiveborn reacted to their close interactions with clear displeasure. The guards eyed them closer, holding their spears just a step away from openly levelling it to combat. They did not attack, but their agitation and distrust is clear.

Their new companion eyed the interactions, a mental sigh reaching both of the zombie hunters

Si'Qraki would like it if they left now. Honestly, it was foolish of him to come here to begin with. He was childish. Wanted to rub their noses and agitate them. The longer they stayed, the higher the chance that the local Prince would think of the easiest way to get rid of such a "Mad" rogue and his heretical no-hivers
 

Reythaak

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#7
[bimg=no-lightbox | fleft]https://file.toyhou.se/images/8616644_lQbVgNeSwEhFPRu.png[/bimg][bimg=no-lightbox | fright]https://file.toyhou.se/images/8637580_UtgUoAN1DB3Yok5.png[/bimg]
[glow=#000000]Triskalyn and Storm[/glow]​

  TTris smiled, grateful the hiveborn didn’t find her rude. She usually did a bit better, but once in a while she slipped up. Then she blinked, watching the worker stand and “listening,” for lack of a better word, to Si’Qraki’s explanation.

Storm seemed to grasp it a bit better than the cleric, if nothing else.

Tris decided to just kind of accept that it was a strange concept to her, and not one she’d probably ever completely “get.” She’d probably end up mistakenly directing questions to the drones at some point or another… oh well. Her attention, however, was drawn by the steadily more agitated guards.

”I don’t really want to cause any problems, you understand,” she said, then gave a slight motion towards the agitated guards with her head, ”So. Out and off we go?” the cleric suggested.

Storm gave his own nod. ”This is probably one of the shortest town visits we’ve had.” the bird said, sounding amused, ”It’s usually longer, and a lot more tedious.”

Without waiting to see whether the strange group of hivers, or even Tris, were following behind him, Storm inclined his head towards the guards and wound his way outside. The moment he was out the door, and a bit out of the way, he stretched his wings wide. He avoided actually flying, his goal wasn’t to startle anyone. But he did so love getting to stretch his wings once in a while, especially when he had been inside.

”Off we go then, Si’Qraki.” the cleric said with a smile, and followed her… friend outside. Once the insect-esque humanoids had joined them, they set a brisk pace out of town, not very picky about the direction, just trying to put some distance between the town and them to cause fewer problems overall.
  
 

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#8
Si'Qraki showed military practice before they even left the town. The workers carried loads that any average human would consider heavy, but their slightly shorter forms seem to carry it with ease. They had the packs tied to strong wooden staves, carried over the soldier in an organised fashion. Whether by intent or not, the three drones marched in lockstep, their simple maces held in tandem with the carrying sticks

The two warriors flanked the drones on either side, each carrying large bladed spears slightly taller than themselves. They used them as walking sticks, blade up, but their eyes never cared to look forward.

That was the Prince's place, walking just ahead of the group. He stared at the road ahead, his sure step making it known that he knows the region they were in. He had a heavy crossbow in his arms, bolt already loaded and ready for action.

The two of you should be ready for action. These roads are known for their dead.
 

Reythaak

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#9
Triskalyn and Storm
Tris wasn’t quite sure what to make of the hivers, as they headed out of town. The concept of the drones and warriors not really being their own entities still sat slightly strangely with her, but she was trying hard not to let it color her opinions. It was just… different.

”I’ll fly up and keep an eye out from up above,” Storm remarked more for the benefit of the Si’Qraki than anything. He and Tris had been traveling together long enough that she had expected him to be in the air already. Red wings unfurled, and the avian took easily to the air and once he’d gained some altitude, pulled his longbow free. The wood, even from a distance, seemed to glimmer with some minor magic.

At Si’qraki’s comment, Tris gave a nod.

”I know there are some around here. We encountered a handful on the way in, but thank you for the warning,” she gave a warm smile in his general direction, ”Fortunately for me, my magic doesn’t take much to warm up, so to speak. Pelor is very generous to his priests.”

Even as she spoke, little tendrils of flame licked up over the blood-red, scaled gauntlets and then vanished just as quickly. The flames were more golden yellow than red or orange, definitely divine in nature, and hotter than natural yellow flames.

”Tris. Heads up.”

Tris perked, and already she heard the sound of a pair of arrows being loosed from above them. Storm certainly wasn’t going to waste any time, once he had spotted the creatures moving towards Tris and the hivers.

”Two allips, a shadow, and a couple others I can’t identify from here,” the avian continued.

”Well. Good timing,” Tris’s smile didn’t darken in the slightest. In fact, she seemed to brighten further, nearly glowing even without the use of one of her usual tricks to do so.

As soon as the undead crept into view, Tris was firing a streak of divine light from the creature that appeared to be made of living shadow, causing a little “ploof” of divine fire to erupt from the creature as it let out an inhuman screech. The other five didn’t even hesitate, however, as they moved forward to attack the hivers and Tris.

Three of them seemed to be something between a zombie and a skeleton, too little flesh to be a proper zombie and too much to be a skeleton. Flanking them were two burbling, babbling clouds of shadow with skeletal maws.

”I would be very grateful if you and your soldiers could keep them from getting in my face. Casting spells gets harder when you have an undead trying to chew on you.” There was a pause, ”The other three are wights, by the way,” she called up to Storm.
 
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#10
Si'Qraki stared at Tris for a small moment when she started talking about her God, a small dip of anger in the psychic link they had, but he quickly ceased it, giving a nod to her words

I have no doubt. Your Gods are rather alien to my kin. Those who have tried to bring your Gods to us have been.... rude.

He didn't elaborate more, though perked up at the sound of Storm. There was a marked lethargy when Storm spoke, before the group stared at the dead rising.

None of them are my kin.

The two allips drove into the fray against Tris, who were promptly met blade-to-maw by Si'Qraki's soldiers, their style defensive and professional.They were more focused on locking down the beasts than killing them. The Workers stood in a front line, holding their maces in formation while a heavy bolt flew straight into an Alip's maw
 

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#11
Triskalyn and Storm
The cleric gave a little frown as she felt the hiveborn’s… displeasure.

”I’ve got no interest in converting you, or anything like that. But, I’m also not going to stop showing my own piety as usual,” Tris said, addressing the slight anger rather bluntly, ”Who you worship, if anyone, is entirely up to you. But, Pelor’s been good to me.”

She took a step back from the Allip as the soldiers intercepted the undead creature, also registering the fact that none of the attackers were Hiveborn. She mused over that for a moment as she moved forward slightly, standing just slightly behind the soldiers and just waiting for the straggling undead to surge forward and catch up to their comrades. The fact that she was glowing slightly with warm, radiant energy was a pretty good indicator that the cleric didn’t plan to let the undead live long.

”A racist necromancer?” Storm asked from the sky with a laugh. He couldn’t help it, the idea was amusing. Most necromancers were more opportunistic than that. ”Or he moved into the area from elsewhere, and brought old stock with him.” The words were broken up by the telltale thwip, three times in succession, of the archer firing his bow, and three arrows sprouting from one of the wights.

”Sturdy, for undead.” came the finishing, flat remark.

As the wights came pressing up behind the pair of allip, Tris released the energy she’d been holding, grateful for unintelligent undead. Tactical enemies were much harder to beat.

The energy would wash over the Hiveborn harmlessly, feeling like the pleasant rays of a summer sun. The effect it had on the undead was markedly different. The scant flesh of the wights was burned and bones charred, the one that Storm had hit previously dropping to the ground as the lights in its eyes faded. The other two, and one of the allips, screamed their pain and the allip seemed to burble and boil more furiously.

When the allips swept their claws towards the soldiers, they would pass, at least physically, harmlessly through the hiveborn. But they, and perhaps even Si’Qraki through their link, could feel the claws trying to rend essentially through the hiveborn’s minds and will itself. Creatures of madness and despair, the allips had no hopes of causing physical harm.

But mental? Mental they could do. And the telepathic hiveborn seemed though they might be particularly vulnerable to those sort of attacks.
 

Lurcolm

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#12
Si'Qraki tried to apologize once more, but couldn't as he felt something tear himself apart from the inside. The both the paladin and the ranger were given a mild headache as the allips tore through the collective's mind. There was an awareness of agony, but it quickly stopped

You useless fucking worm!

The soldiers gave a high pitched shriek, redoubling their efforts. The had no more cohesion. Same with the workers and the simple club, they had no more cohesion in their motions, blindly striking in rage

How dare you fucking *hurt* me, you mindless fucking *carcass*

Si'Qraki's mandibles clacked audibly, charging in without recocking his crossbow. The limbs of his bow had blades attached, which he used to drive a blade into an allip's skull's eyesocket, using his weight to smash the thing into the dirt before he and the soldeir charged towards the remaining one

I'll kill you! I'll grind those empty skulls of yours into meal and shove it down your master's throat!
 

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#13
Triskalyn and Storm
Tris winced, and Storm faltered in the air for just a moment as his wings missed a beat. Neither had anticipated Si’Qraki’s rage at the allips’ attacks.

The wights quickly collapsed to the hiveborn’s strikes, still managing to be more mindless than the insectoid humanoids attacking them, even in their rage.

The remaining allip didn’t seem to even register Si’Qraki’s words, instead continuing to babble maddeningly to itself. Si’Qraki could feel through the telepathic link he held with his others the allip trying to pull their attention and distract. However, with the hiveborn’s rage, the allip’s usual ability to fascinate seemed to slough right off the other’s minds.

A bit concerned, Tris called flames to her hand and threw them thrice. They arced from her hand, resembling javelins as they streaked through the air, leaving little trails of flame in their wake. Each struck true and the allip let out a shriek as it burbled and collapsed, the shadows that made up it’s body seeming to dissolve and fade, or skitter off into the wilds.

The cleric stood back for a moment, to let the allip’s demise register with Si’Qraki and his hive before she stepped forward to the prince.

”Here. Let me help some of that,” Tris said, accompanied by a soft prayer to Pelor. The golden light coalesced easily in her hands, far less menacing than the flames she’d thrown moments before, and with a motion was sent forth to circle Si’Qraki’s head.

The light seemed to chase away the lingering shadows and “tears” the allip might have left on the edges of the hiveborn’s mind, before fading away.

While Tris was sending some literal positive energy the hiveborn’s way, Storm had dropped to the ground to inspect the wights. He shot Tris a look. ”It’s really hard to gather any details from corpses when someone incinerates them.”

Tris just smiled.
 

Lurcolm

The Bright Lord's Protege
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#14
Both the prince and his minions were quite visibly rattled, even after the allip's demise. Slowly, Si'Qraki started to pull his wits back together, his heaving chest slowly moving back to normal breathing.

The saving grace was this cleric's divine magic, filling and mending his mind. There was a notable sensation of relief, before his creatures notably relaxed.

Thank you. I've.... never been hurt like that before. Never.

The Prince simply shook his headin shock as hetried to regain his nerves, waving his hand at the Ranger

You don't need to track them immediately. You only have to cut off enough of his hands to force him to use his teeth.

He gestured to the incinerated

The necromancer lost five hands and we lost none.