Overlords and Guardians; Age of Antagonism IC

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Kadaeux, Oct 20, 2014.

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  1. Year 41 AoA (Age of Antagonism)
    Summer; Janwuaris.

    Capital City of Poi Erus
    The people of Poi Erus moved around their daily lives as the blue liveried city guards wandered about their rounds to snatch sneakthieves off the streets as gulls circled the harbour their cries adding to the ambient noise of the city. The smooth stone buildings fitted closely with finely made mortar that looked so permanent, and yet was lashed by weather all year round.

    Within the steepled government palace the cities Governor met with the nations ruler. "Oy, shitface get in here and explain this latest fuckup." The voice of the Governor called out into the hall and the shamefaced sailor wearing an Admiral's Uniform moved into the room.

    "I'm sorry sir. I thought it was another ship, the fog was so thick it was impossible to see." The Admiral was staring at his feet. "We didn't know until we hit..."

    The Admiral King turned to look at the shamefaced Admiral. "Hit. What."

    "Uhm... the lighthouse sir." The Admiral was red-faced and tearing up. A situation made worse when the Admiral King began laughing his head off at the incident.

    "You bloody drongo idiot." He said once the chuckles began to subside. "So ..."

    Suddenly another man came running in. "Governor, Majesty, there is a situation. Raiders from the reach have hit the town of Poi-Sidon. Dragon Ogres, Ogres with Orcs....

    Autocracy of Rahn
    City of Rorkos
    The city of Rorkos was abuzz with activity as the people went about their lives. The two merchants who were in a tea-shop discussing matters that had little to do with tea as they sipped the expensive drinks. "There are rumours that the Legion of Peace has failed to prevent Joakan Raiders from hitting Gimswold's caravan again. Even the hundred men-at-arms Gimswold hired didn't help. He lost the whole caravan."

    The other merchant rumbled with laughter his rolls behaving like miniature Tsunamis. "Gimswold's lucky he can keep his own purse without losing it these days."

    Unobtrusively a small boy worked about the shop, listening to every word both the merchants said, as invisible as the furniture he was beneath their notice.

    "You'd think someone was passing on information on Gimswold's shipments to the Joakans, and Bribing the Legion of Peace to turn a blind eye." The first merchant chuckled drinking more deeply of the aromatic tea he'd selected.

    The second merchant wasn't laughing anymore. He looked around furtively. "Don't say that aloud Rementh." He hissed at the man. "It's bad enough that Gimswold even suspects such a thing."

    Rementh turned sharply at his compatriot's turn of phrase and turn of voice. "You didn't." The expression was one of disbelief. The way the second merchant squirmed sold it for Rementh. "You did... Ychloss, you idiot..."

    The boy turned and grabbed a chamberpot and made for the window before slipping out. The Legion of Peace would want to hear this.

    The Ahokan Plains
    Clan Urutu Camp
    The nights fire reached high into the skies as the stars soared above and the Clan had laid camp for the week. Other than those guarding the camp almost all of the Clan were present around the 'Fire of Telling' the youngest were closest and hushed as the Shaman stood there still as a statue. His skin was weathered and tough as leather almost the colour of copper.

    "It began in the dawn times." He began and those watching the fire could almost see the figures moving in the flames. "It was eternal night before the Dragon-gods brought light to the land and left their fire in the skies." Figures flew though the flames. "They laid their eggs within the mountains around the Dragon-gate and laid waste to the best intentions of man and beast. But driven back they were by the Ahokan Clans and sealed beyond the Dragon Gate. And now they await the time for return. The signs of their return have begun. The ground shakes in anticipation of their return... and what do we do."

    "We wait." The clansmen replied.

    "What do we do." The Shaman asked.

    "We prepare." The clansmen replied louder.

    "WHAT DO WE DO!" The Shaman roared.

    "WE DIE FOR VICTORY!" The Clansmen roared.
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  2. The Black Krag

    The residents of the Black Krag moved about their errands as the flickering torchlight lit their way. Kalahadrad moved with a clinical precision as he rode his mount, the faithful mountains funnel-web spider Bolehs down the corridor towards his 'throne room' upon entering the vastness of the throneroom all chatter became quiet as the clusters of Skaven, Kobolds and Goblins drew quiet on their masters entry with the occasional Harpy shrilly making some remark before noticing why the room had gone silent.

    There was only the sound of crackling torches as Kalahadrad mounted the steps to his throne and dismounted, the giant funnel-web moved off to the side of his throne crouching down as if a favoured pet, which it was. The stillness in the chamber was almost painful to behold as if his presence.

    "Bring me my fool!" He said quietly, but politely, and yet the words made all present flinch.

    A pair of Kobolds began whipping a figure in white and black checked clothing towards the centre of the floor. It was obvious to any who saw that this was a dwarf, but such a dwarf had rarely been seen. Beardless with scars from the crude shavings that those assigned to be his keeper gave him, his eyes full of eternal shame and agony from when Kalahadrad had taken the dwarf's manhood with a less than sharp blade. Gromnir, elder brother of Thráin. Now a Beardless Eunuch and a fool for a Goblin King. There was no worse shame for such a dwarf. And yet, even the thought of suicide was denied him by the Goblin King's sharp magic.

    Kalahadrad reclined back into his throne with a wineskin. "DANCE FOOL!" the order was reinforced by telepathic command and the dwarf once known as Gromnir began to dance and cavort around like a fool the bells on his clothes tinkling as the mood in the throneroom returned to cordial and people began to laugh at the fool and even throw food at him. Kalahadrad smiled amused at the spectacle before beckoning over Rakash.

    The Goblin shaman shuffled over bowing low enough to flatten his nose against the cold flagstones. "My master. How can I better lick your boots today. They are dirty again."

    Kalahadrad basked in the sycophancy for a moment then snapped. "Get up. A tribe of those disgusting Ahokan Barbarians has made shelter in the shadow of the mountain, closer than they typically dare. Take four hundred Goblins and a couple hundred Kobolds."

    "And BURN THEM OUT!" Rakash beamed.

    "Yes, and no. Take me prisoners. Get me a whole family, intact." He grinned and Rakash sighed.


    Ahokan Plains.

    The tribe was camped in the foothills of the mountain fearfully, they had been forced to skirt around the Yutr Clan's claimed territory after being beaten with sticks for getting too close. A much less harsh penalty than they could have claimed. But the Muri tribe was too small to assert itself against the larger clans, there couldn't have been more than three hundred of them, including children, and there were only forty fighters in the whole tribe. Even now most of them were on the perimeter downing Ganka Juice to try and keep awake in the long night.

    Even the weather seemed arrayed against them. The clouds were overhead and threatening allowing only the tiniest slivers of moonlight through them to illuminate the night, the effect making it seem even darker than before the intermittent light ruining their night-sight.

    The peered out into the failed light and could see something moving. Many somethings...

    "Hail." One of the fighters said holding up one hand, had they intruded on another clan's claim? He didn't think they could flee fast enough with a night camp already set up. Instead he put his boots into the ribs of his steppe pony and cantered out a little. "What is it Grudd?" One of the others remarked before falling from his pony.

    Grudd stopped and looked back seeing the thin shaft of an arrow sticking out of his friends throat and was about to cry a warning before he felt a sharp judding pain in his chest. Suddenly he had difficulty breathing and he slid to the ground trying to use his pony as leverage. He could see the tip of an arrow sticking out through his furs, the arrowhead was very sharp, but jagged and hooked and he realised it would never come out the way it went in.

    He screamed suddenly as fire leapt along his veins, the arrow was poisoned!

    It was then that he noticed them coming in out of the darkness, blackened robes and crude armour as they charged the camp. Hundreds of Goblins and Kobolds!

    The battle didn't last long with a Goblin mage of some kind incinerating their own Shaman and taking the Chief and his family captive, the Chief, his wife, three daughters and only son were chained up and dragged off. Grudd could only watch in agony, unable to move as his life-blood bled into the plains and the tents of his tribe burned. He could only watch as Goblins raped his wife over and over until she simply expired. He could only watch as the Goblins took the babes of the tribe, too small to walk and swung them by their feet smashing their skulls against rocks before packing up the survivors, less than a dozen men and women not including the Chief and his family and marching back to the place from whence they came.

    And then oblivion came and Grudd welcomed it with open arms.


    Black Krag

    Rakash beamed proudly as he marched the captive plainsfolk into the throneroom only to find that the master had uncovered the pit. His heart beat fast suddenly wondering if he failed before realising that the pit was not for him. But for the prisoners. "Where is the family!" Kalahadrad said suddenly turning from the meal he'd been enjoying, some roasted human heart with garlic and herb seasoning on a bed of sausages made from a child's entrails.

    Rakash was quick to shove forwards the Chief and his family. "Into the pit!" He snapped and they were shoved forwards by well armoured goblins who served as Kalahadrad's personal guard.

    Kalahadrad was unfazed by his over-zealous servants rush and walked over to the edge of the pit smiling. Three daughters, a wife and a son. It was more profitable than he could possibly have hoped. "Chain the son and wife to the wall!" He snapped and the Goblins chained the two chosen to the wall. "Tell me Ahokan. Tell me, how much do you love your wife."

    The Chief started up dejectedly but defiantly. "More than anything."

    "More than your children?" The Small King replied.

    The Chief paused terrified as he considered the implications. Finally he looked his wife in the eyes, that beautiful woman he'd married thirty years ago. "Yes." He said terrified of what must come next.

    "What would you do to ensure you and your wife would be allowed to go free." Kalahadrad asked.

    "Anything." The Chief answered only realising afterwards that the Goblin King had not included his children in that question.

    "Excellent. So here is what is going to happen. I am, very, very bored. And YOU are going to entertain me." Kalahadrad said with a wicked grin that caused those closest to him to flinch from. "And if you refuse my price to entertain me, I will have your children taken one by one, cut their throats in front of you, cook them, and eat them, all in front of you."

    The Chief looked at his children...

    "And if that is not enough I will cut your wife up piece by piece, cook each piece, and make HER eat them." Kalahadrad said finally.

    "What must I do..." The chief fell to his knees sobbing.

    All conversation was over as they waited on the small kings decree.

    "You... are to rape all three of your daughters over and over until you cannot stand. And when you are spent your son will take your place and continue to rape all your daughters... and your wife. If he falters, he will be cooked and eaten... alive." Kalahadrad declared and the silence was deafening, as was the anticipation. "If I am satisfied I will allow your wife and you to go free, your son and daughters will remain here as thralls, but alive."

    The Chief was already weeping as the goblins in the pit cut the clothing from his daughters... and himself.

    "Please, begin when ready, we don't have all day and I want to know if I should get the chefs out of bed." Kalahadrad said with a smile covertly reinforcing his orders with a mental lash. The chief flinched as the geas took hold.

    And with tears in his eyes, the screaming and entertainment began with the words "NO!!!!" ripping from the wife's throat. It was going to be a good show. And when it was over he'd have to decide what was crueler, killing them all for food, or actually honouring his word.
  3. The Black Citadel
    Sothriar sat quietly at a large table piled high with various tomes and books stacked into neat piles and a few open in front of him. Illuminating the large library was a network of violet-coloured Faerie Fire lights that danced in their enchanted sconces as if they were straining to break free from the small metal contraptions. A few feet away sat Zae'Baer leaning back in his chair silently reading a book with an air of boredom about him. Just outside the wind, flashes of glinting light broke through the still night, followed by booming thunder. To Sothriar it was calming.

    The quiet atmosphere was suddenly broken as the library doors were opened, a thin man dressed in dark robes walking in without a whisper and making his way to Sothriar. With a simple hand gesture the importance of the matter was revealed. Sothriar nodded and then turned to Zae'Baer. "Esh'ko tas." He said softly, closing the book in front of him. With a nod, the tall Moredhel got up and disappeared through the door. The Dark Loremaster waited until the man had closed the door behind him before taking a step forward and whispering secreted words into Sothriar's ear. As he spoke, Sothriar's expression changed from surprised to interest to a calm smile and a nod.

    After a moment he dismissed the Dark Loremaster and made his way through the labyrinth of corridors and passage ways before arriving promptly in the Throne Room. There he found Alissias lazing in his throne. A work of art as terrifying as it was awing. It was shaped into a maelstrom of dark metal, smoothed to form a Raven wrapped in tendrils of shadow. Against it rested his Zweihander and his one of his long swords. The other remained at his belt. Alissias smiled at him. A delicious but deadly look. "I'm bored...Maybe we could-" she began to say, craning he neck as she looked at him. With a raised hand Sothriar cut her short. "Ei. Morakt. Tai isnikt trovi tasrit val im ish Drecht'heid."

    She raised an eyebrow as he finished. After a moment passed she got up stretching as she did. "You're serious?" She asked before shaking her head and answering the thought herself. "Of course you are. I assume you want me to come along?" As she spoke she drew closer her hips swaying hypnotically as she moved. Again she answered her own question. "When do we leave?" She asked. Expecting the self-involved conversation Sothriar already had his answer ready and took no time to reply. "In a few hours. Go get Ragnar and Zae'Baer. Tell them to round up the best Dragon Ogres in the Vanguard, the Black Horsemen and half the Repeater Crossbowmen. I want everyone ready to leave in four hours. With that he strode off towards his personal chambers to prepare.
    Four Hours Past...
    The towering Dragon Ogre waited patiently dressed in a full regalia of Meteoric Iron Scale a large sword in a thick sheath across his back and a large rectangular bulwark shield covered in cruelly curved blades and spikes in front of him as he held it steady with one hand. He seemed completely at ease in the heavy outfit which would easily crush a smaller being. Beside him were Zae'Baer and Alissias both wearing Battle robes with pieces of light meteoric Iron plates covering vital parts of their body leaving them unhindered and slightly more defended than the average advisor or mage. Behind them was the requested contingent of soldiers.

    As Sothriar stepped out into the courtyard he nodded approvingly before stepping to up to the group of captains. Each nodded as he glanced at him. He returned the nod after the others and then turned around the gate raising smoothly as he strode forward and his wings unfurling to their full length. Behind him the others followed.​
    #3 Kae'os Daemon, Oct 20, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
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  4. The Pinnacle, Marik’s Sanctum

    Marik was bent down on one knee inside his Sanctum’s most open room. It was a simple enough place: Wide and open with stained-glass windows on nearly every window. It was a room which was bright and it had only one object in the center of the room: An altar. He had chosen not to don his armour this day, and stood in only a leather tunic and trousers. He only bore his sword’s sheath at his hip, and even that was empty: The blade lay upon the floor at the foot of the altar. This was not a place of war: not now, at least. This was his Sanctum’s holy realm, after all. It was his connection to the heavens above, and to the angels that so often guided his path. He was once again, trying to connect to the one angel that had been the most important factor in his life, and the one angel he would never be able to contact. Some would claim his time was wasted, trying to beseech the gods that he might speak to his mother. Some would call it self-defeating, or self-pitying. He however, found that in the silence of the gods, he found his own answers. If nothing else, he could find a certain meditation in the act. It was soothing to think that his thoughts might at least reach his mother, even if she might never reply.

    Today, his thoughts were not on war…Not openly, anyway. Bjoric was mostly calm, at this time. The snows were light on the tundra, and his captains were all delivering good reports. He had been trying to think of a solution to a unique problem recently: that being his designs to try and unite the lands around him so that he might better fight against the evils of the Overlord nearest him.

    One of his hands tightened around his knee, clenched at the memory of his greatest failure. Gennevë still resided in the same land as him: her blight upon the land a constant reminder of what and who he had lost. Even now, his back ached at the lost weight that had once been a mark of pride for him. She had taken so very much from him, and in return he had taken so very little from her. He had slain a vampire or two, but that is it. In the long run, they had reached a strange stalemate. Neither could crush the other, at this juncture, and that was a stalemate he intended to break. He had the means of how he might end the stalemate: What he lacked was the means of achieving the means.

    In the end, he decided that he should at least spend some of his time in the chamber successfully. He drew upon the light inside his gut, pulling at the strings of magic and tugging the power from himself so that he might beckon forth a dozen Cherubim. The angel-kin all seemed to shimmer into existence, and bowed before him as their connection to the human world. He slowly rose from his bowed position, and beckoned them to do so. “Come, follow me. I must attend a meeting with my captains, and then I would make a task of you all.”

    The Great Hall, Marik’s Sanctum
    Marik felt a certain pride as he sat at his small table, looking at the feasting chamber. The majority of the chamber was a bustling cacophony of action and noise, as several hundred of his soldiers filed into the hall, feasting on captured game and harvested fruit. The idea had been one of his better ones: invite 500 of his troops to feast with him at his hall once a week, without worry of cost. Humans and Dryads and Eledhel all mixed under his command, all rewarded for their loyalty. He felt gratitude towards all of them, serving under him and helping to fulfil his vision. He did not consider himself a king, by any means, but he knew that many of the individuals in this room were united by him, and his vision: A vision that so many of them now shared, and strove to achieve.

    None were more driven in his cause than his five captains though. Different races and creeds had been united by the actions of the Celestial, and before him sat five champions at his own long table. At the far left was Leoc, a hulking bald man with great scars marring his face, and plate armour covering the rest of him as if it were the most natural thing in the world! He bore a great sword on his back, and was tucking into a plate full of meat and mead. To Marik’s immediate left was Cynthia, a dryad woman of terrifying power and wisdom. It was her that he trusted the advice of the most, and it was her that he quietly exchanged words with at irregular intervals during the chaotic meal. On Marik’s right was Mir’een, an Eledhel who stoically picked at a plate of sliced fruit as she pointed out various sights to Marik, be it a drinking contest between a group of Marik’s men or an Eledhel dancing to the sound of music. She was one of his strangest captains, but she was finding fun in the feast, even if she had been the only one to object to it as a ‘waste of resources and time.’ To her direct right, and perhaps even closer than most would think suitable, was Root, A dryad that served as head of Marik’s marksmen and a figure of great popularity in his forces. She was as close as she could be to Mir’een, ‘accidently’ rubbing against her wherever possible as she pinched the Eledhel’s fruit. Marik often pondered whether there was something actually some reciprocation of the Dryad’s affection from the Eledhel: most would have been struck, were they so chummy with the Eledhel leader. On the right of the table was Angjar, the newest addition to Marik’s captains, but the loudest by far. He was enjoying the food and the mead and the sight of Mir’een and Root’s strange discourse, all while speaking with a few soldiers and telling jokes.

    It was a comfortable place for Marik, and he would happily have feasted like this weekly, were it financially plausible. The men and women who served with him deserved every pleasure he could give them, considering how hard he worked them. Soon enough, they would be forced to strike out against Gennevë, and he hoped that he could at least honour those that would die for his cause in whatever way seemed possible.

    The cherubim were all standing at the back of Marik’s table, watching the mortals with a confused interest. None partook of the food, despite several of the more boisterous members of Marik’s people making offers to them.

    Marik began to outline Cynthia with the details of his plan, when a man approached his table, dressed in furs and carrying a strange spear. It was obvious as to who, or more importantly, what he was from the smell. It was the cold salty smell of a Whaler. He nodded at the man, who bowed low in front of the Guardian. That told him it was one of the Whalers he was funding. “What can I do for you?”

    The whaler seemed stunned by the man, but soon enough found his words. “M’lord, there have been si’t’ins of a beast. A huge white whale, M’lord. Its tail be as big as a ship, and we would be unable to capture the beast without some help. We was wonderin’ if your lordship could send some troops to help get the beast? We could feed many a man with the beast, and the hide would be yours, as a trophy or some such.”

    Marik couldn’t hide his interest in the issue: but not for the obvious reason. He had suddenly hatched a plan that might be just what he needed in order to achieve his ambitions. He turned to Leoc and Cynthia, smiling. “Leoc, I need you to gather thirty strong soldiers. Axemen preferably: we’ll need some muscle. Cynthia, I need you to gather me twenty Archers. It seems an opportunity has presented itself.” The two captains nod, before pushing themselves away from the table: Cynthia empty handed and Leoc with the mug of mead in his palm. He then turned to his right, seeing his other five captains staring at him with interest. “Root, I need you to be ready to ride in an hour. We are going to fulfil this man’s request. Angjar and Mir’een, you two are to watch the Sanctum for the next few days. When I return, the three of us will travel to the north. Be ready.”

    Finally, Marik pushed himself from his seat, turning to the dozen cherubim that were as enraptured in the sudden flurry of action. “I need the twelve of you to fulfil a task for me. I need you all to fly to Icing and meet up with as many of the Frostwyr clans as you can, and invite them to meet me at the borders of Icing and Ilmorow along the roads in fourteen days. I will bring them a worthy token of my appreciation.”

    He smiled at them, and they smiled back, understanding his intention immediately. Not waiting to pause, Marik was walking through the hallways of his Sanctum with a real purpose, heading towards his personal sanctum sanctorum.

    The Northern Road, Bjoric

    Twenty minutes later, Marik sat atop a horse, adorned in armour and bearing his shield, as well as a mace. To his left, Root walked beside the beast, to his right, the whaler rode on a grey donkey and behind them, thirty men and twenty Dryads followed behind in an organised column. The hunt should be an easy enough task, even if most did not understand the reason for its undertaking. Marik though, had a purpose about him. He had finally come up with a plan to tempt Icing’s Frostwyr into at least meeting with him. Should he succeed, perhaps he could unite Bjoric and Icing together against the Witch of Ravens, and perhaps even beyond that.

    It was early days though, far too early to dream of something so grand. There were many things that could go wrong, after all.

    Tl;dr - Actions (open)

    • Marik summoned a dozen Cherubim, he has sent them out to organise a meeting between the tribes of Icing's Frostwyr and himself in 2 weeks
    • Marik and Root have led Fifty units (30 Axemen and 20 Dryad Archers) to fulfill the hunt for the White Whale.
    • Mir'een has been left in charge of the Sanctum
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  5. She was Asmodeus.

    No longer was she the girl who had cried when she scraped her knees. No longer was she the girl fascinated by the gleaming fishes in the stream. No longer was she the girl who had hoped only for a good harvest to last the winter.


    It had come in a dream, in a time that seemed so long ago, as she dozed holding the book of the Ordo Noctis, a book emblazoned with a golden eye with a single tear falling. She had dreamt of better times, of her foster father, and the bloody being that stood over her. "Asmodeus!" it cried, sweeping its arms open, her dream growing black, as the figure grew closer and closer.

    And then she awoke with a sharp jump, as the book she was holding fell to the ground with a heavy thump, spread wide open. Open to a picture much like her dream, the figure depicted ragged and bloody upon a battlefield.

    Rhogog - The Hell Fort in the Forest
    The Overlord's Bedroom
    A hellish bed was sprouting spindly legs around it's sleeping occupant. Dare the blindfolded girl approach?
    "Du nomi, seha." "Good morning, Mistress"

    Asmodeus opened her eyes, absentmindedly waving away the spindly leg things her bed has taken to sprouting every time she sleeps.

    "Du nomi, mi sav.""Good morning, my slave."

    It was Alena, some sort of important person before when the Paragon was still alive, and now her willing slave in every sense of the word. Asmodeus herself wasn't expecting Alena to be like this, but after her capture, Asmodeus didn't feel like punishing Alena or killing her since Alena didn't actually do anything wrong towards her, so she was just pushed onto Ueniee, the Knight of Diamonds. While Asmodeus did visit her every now and then to admire Diamond's work, she had absolutely no idea why Alena started being attached to her. Did she suffer from some sort of syndrome or something?

    "Seha? Naie mi sutare?" "Mistress? Why are you staring [at me]?"

    Realizing she was staring, Asmodeus waved the question away. "Sutare mi chie. Mi a ni jasu.""I'm not staring. I'm just thinking."

    Alena pulled down her blindfold again, the chains on her cuffed hands clinking softly as she did so. It was odd, the extent of her affection, a bit disturbing even. She had no doubt Alena would do anything for her at this point. An offhand remark about how the blindfold, cuffs and collar fits her well led to Alena wearing them whenever possible. Asmodeus was sure she had discovered some sort of syndrome. Should she name it the Starkhelm syndrome? It sounded ridiculous, and she wasn't in any sort of organization which appreciates those sort of things. In any case, she seemed... content, and it was rather refreshing to see a beautiful golden haired maiden for once, not the ruggedness of the orcs everywhere, and the strange ethereal beauty of the dark elves.

    Though... the strangest would be her, if she really thought about it.

    The Overlord's Dining Room
    Mind your manners, or die.
    She sat at the end of the long table, with only Alena sitting beside her wearing a dark frilly dress. With precise, well-practiced movements, Asmodeus cut up the steak into smaller pieces like Alena taught her, and started eating. There was a time when she would be grateful to have eaten in the last three days, the long days of suffering that made everything seemed like a dream now. She was still afraid she would suddenly wake up, still shackled to the restraints in the middle of that town, helpless against whatever indignities they would inflict upon her.

    "My Lady, if I may..." A hooded man entered through a side door and knelt, his head bowed in respect. A drow ranger from the looks of it.

    Setting down her utensils, she nodded, the elf going up closer and whispering in her ears.

    "Well done. Ningvir!" One of the orc guards hurried to her side. "Ningvir, guide this man to the treasurer. He will know what to do." She closed her eyes momentarily, sending her consciousness to her treasurer, whispering instructions in his mind. With the bounties dealt with, she wondered how this should be dealt with. She could just of course burn down the town, but then it will be worthless to anyone. Making it captive and torturing everyone inside sounds good as well, but it hardly serves to do anything. Poisoning the town's water supply? It would render it useless to anyone in the future so that wasn't a good solution.

    She could see Alena almost drooling by her side. Oh yes, she had just gave Alena one meal yesterday. She had quite forgotten to eat herself, at the excitement of getting a new dress to wear. It wasn't anything fancy. It was just a simple long skirt with a slit down one side for ease of movement, and a bustier that exposes the upper half of her back. A normal dress would be torn immediately if her wings manifested thus the choice. But she was going on ahead of herself.

    "Mi sav, wo nae mi laem." She pushed the platter towards Alena, who looked at Asmodeus hesitantly, wondering if she would remove the cuffs. She did not, so Alena tried to eat as best she could.

    As Asmodeus sat back in her seat, she sent out her consciousness once more. Firsly, she should send out a few of those flying monkey demons to scout. Those small buggers can really hide if they wanted to. Next... well, she should send a pair of those lust demons to go find out what they can about the place, especially which lord the town was under. Those mercenary troops would best be countered by one of her four Knights. Orthir was grumbling about the lack of things to do recently.

    Vilkelhimm - The Town of the Overlord
    The Forests outside
    Do not think the law does not reach the deep forest
    Snarling, he knocked down the bandit with a single blow of his shield. Growling expectantly, he circled the man, waiting for him to make another move. The Black Axe, bored of doing nothing in that infernal castle, had joined an orcish patrol party to sate his bloodlust. They had just captured a whole bandit gang a week ago, and had toyed with them one at a time, promising them freedom if they could just beat the Black Axe, Knight of Hearts. Of course, it was an impossible task, but surrounded by the orcish squad, the bandits could either fight for a slim chance of survival, or be strung up on one of the trees near the roads. The clearing they had chosen to be their arena was already bloodied, with bits and pieces of human flesh strewn about from the Axe's powerful blows.

    Orthir "Black Axe" was growing weary of these weaklings however. None of them posed a true challenge. He yearned to fight the Knight of Spades again, to have his blood boil in the excitement of battle, to feel the rush of euphoria as he fought a worthy opponent.

    And then he felt the familiar caress at his mind, a voice sweet whispering out of nowhere, a voice heard by him alone in the group.

    "Ormi Seha Asmodeus, mi sukoren!" He shouted, or rather roared at the small group with him. "Koru ni wakli!" Responding to his orders, the other orcs quickly slayed the rest of the surviving bandits ignoring their cries and curses, and strung them up along the road, nailing warning signs to bandit written in crude letters.

    A battle was coming, and the Black Axe had just gotten the honor of leading the group to meet with what may be a whole army. With a roar he started to run on the bony roads, the group following him as they headed back towards the infernal castle to gather troops.

    Lists of actions

    Send out about 20 monkeys to scout out the areas, spreading out and hiding so they dont attract attention.

    Send out a pair of lusty demons to find out what they can about the place.

    Send out the Black Axe to mobilize 200 orc warriors, 200 pikemens, and 200 of the crossbowmen.

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  6. The Raven Perch.

    There were a dozen of them, young and old, male and female. The only thing they shared was that they were human... and that they were crucified upon a wooden surface, hoisted in the air by chains and pulleys. Their faces pale and withered, masks of pain and hopelessness as masked acolytes walked among them, adjusting the chains and then making fresh cuts on skin that has already witnessed the use of a blade many times in the last few hours. One had died, no more blood flowed from the cuts and he was cut down another brought in its place and the cycle continued.

    This was not torture however, nor was it for amusements, this was a harvest. The acolytes making sure that the blood dripping down from the sacrifices was dripping down into the conduits carved in the marble floor, all flowing together to a series of small pools heated by green fires made the blood boil as more acolytes were adding alchemical concoctions to the crimson fluid, making it thinner and more easily to pour into the large basin already filled with the altered blood.

    The acolytes gave the basin, and the kneeling figure before it, a wide berth out of respect and fear. The figure had her head bowed, resting it against a sword she held with its tip to the floor. Her armour functional and ceremonial at the same time, many bleached skulls tied with simple black ropes in a circle around her waist. Murmuring a prayer under her breath before the great basin of blood, the only disturbance in the fluid the ripples created by pouring of the newly heated blood that was just harvested from the sacrifices.

    Time passed and one by one as sacrifices were bled dry they were removed but no longer replaced, their corpses gathered and covered with shrouds as the acolytes prepared them fro transfer to the catacombs, all of them leaving save for the kneeling figure.

    The flow of blood slowed and then it stopped, the red surface of the basin calm then the ripples began to form, originating from the middle of the basin. Her head breached the surface first, rivulets of blood pouring down her face, over her closed eyes and mouth as she waded through it to the edge of the basin and reached the steps. Climbing up she opened her eyes and raised her arms, looking at them as if admiring or studying them. Seemingly satisfied with what she saw her lips curled up in a smile and she traced her hands over her body as if seeing and touching it for the first time. Letting out a purr of pleasure as she swept her hands down over the curves of her body as she slowly stepped out of the basin. None of the liquid sticking or remaining on her skin, all of it flowing down her legs and back into the basin.

    She was smirking by the time her eyes settled on the kneeling figure, placing her hands on the shoulder pads of her armour, making sure not to cut herself on the sharp edges. "Praise Nabra Chabaal." She said in a soft, almost soothing whisper, finishing with a low purr. The kneeling figure looked up inhuman eyes looked back and her words were spoken with reverence as she echoed the three words. Chuckling the Mistress of Ravens took her hands back, "Rise Deathwalker. The ritual and it's rites have been observed to the letter." She looked at her hands in wonder, "I am once again whole... and in my prime. Nabra Chabaal's gift and blessing of the rejuvenation ritual still work marvels." She walked to a table where her possessions lay, clothes, jewelry and her staff.

    Deathwalker, high priestess of the Moredhel in service to the Mistress of Ravens slowly rose up from the floor, her limbs and joints stiff from the pose she had kept herself in while her lady was undergoing the ritual. "The gifts of the Dead God are great indeed, is it true this was a gift directly from him?" She asked as she approached placing her sword on the table and began assisting her mistress with dressing her.

    She was answered with a chuckle before she continued fully, "I don't know if it was directly from him, my loyal Deathwalker. It might be one of his servants who lured me into this great tower so many decades ago. Even so, the ritual prolongs the aging process and rejuvenates me. That is what matters and for that He shall be thanked with service and worship." Once dressed she traced her fingers through the feathers and smiled at the memory of how she gained them, her eyes hardening with a glint of anger however at the same memory. "Hmm... any word from my youngest child? His journey north should have gone uneventful?" She received a shake of the head from her high priestess. "Ah well, I am sure he will be fine... what of my other children? Take me to them."

    Moments later she walked into the chambers that originally housed her harem of servants and concubines but as she created her children it was slightly altered, the servants and concubines within serving new roles. The scene right in front of her made her smile and bite her lower lip. The twins, her handmaidens, were with a young, innocent looking girl of what seemed to be a mere eighteen winters. Her clothes discarded as the two of them were exploring her body, each latched on to one of her breasts, biting down and sucking, making the maid moan from pain and arousal both as she noticed droplets of blood around their mouths. Purring she tapped into her magic and a whisper was brought forth, entering the minds of all bringing forth a sliver of fear into their being. She heard the moans of fright from the servants and concubines but the reaction of her children was of interest to her. The twins stiffened, rearing up and turning around, eyes centering upon her. Both of them getting to their feet and prostrating themselves before. Smiling still she reached out and caressed through their hair as her other three children joined them. Gregorian, bestial looking as ever was kneeling on the floor, Sorin, dabbing a napkin at his mouth bowed graciously and the last of her children, though she was more like a adopted child but was loved by her nonetheless as she also was kneeling like Gregorian.

    "My sweet children, rise." She raised her hands and the four that were on the ground rose, Sorin remained bowed for a moment longer before he straightened himself. She looked each in the eyes in turn before she spoke again, "I am rejuvenated once more, the Allfather who gave you life through me, your mother, his blessing is still upon me and therefore upon you all. To celebrate this, a taste of the Allfathers blessing for you all as well." At those words Deathwalker walked in, holding up a goblet with both her hands, the looks of hunger were unmistakable on the faces of the five vampires. "A cup of blood enhanced with the blessings of Nabra Chabaal. Take one sip and one alone." She said smiling as Deathwalker approached each vampire and handed them the goblet, each of them drinking their share eagerly. It was difficult for undead beings like the vampires to feel euphoria but the blood enhanced by alchemy and magic would do it as she watched each of her children get dreamy looks as they all in turn experienced something unique and wonderful to their senses as the blood burned through their bodies and interacted with the necromantic energies that give them life.

    It lasted for only a moment and as it passed from five mouths came the same three words, "Thank you mistress."

    She grinned and turned around, Deathwalker following her. "I will see and speak to you all soon, now resume your... dinner." With those parting words the doors to the harem closed behind her and her high priestess.

    The Following Day.

    She returned to the waking world with the feeling she was being watched, opening her eyes she stared into the black eyes of the abyss, the name of this abyss was Mother Malice however with her face hanging upside down as she was clinging to the wall her bed was set against. "I see you still like to be a creep. Where have you been?"

    The Drider Matriarch smiled, showing a row of filed teeth as she scuttled off the wall to the floor. "Your library, tending to the tomes until you returned from your... bath..." She noticed the Matriarch had her clothes in her hands and allowed her to help dress her, knowing her servants who would usually do so were dismissed or probably fled at first sight of Mother Malice. She listened to the Drider who was filling her in of what had happened while she was submerged in blood. Apparently nothing major had happened, her little realm functioned as it did and her people were taking care of the duties assigned to them.

    Once she was dressed and her appearance taken care off she turned to Mother Malice, "Same old, same old. Well then... lets remind the people of Sanguinus that I am still around. Inform the Raven Guard and send the heralds out." Grinning the Drider nodded and made her way out of Gennevës chambers. A hour later the gates opened on the ground level and several parties of riders streamed out. The head horsemen dressed in the livery a herald in the service of the Mistress of Ravens its two escorts silent as the dead, skeletal horses letting their hooves struck the ground as the wights riding upon them let their baleful eyes made of witch light glance over the streets as their herald makes occasional stops to shout out a proclamation that Gennevë would come to the grand market to address the crowds. Upon finishing their rounds the heralds and its undead escorts would return to the tower. Some passing carts upon which corpses lay, the old, the sick and others who died naturally in the night, who by decree of the Mistress of Ravens would be buried at designated, unmarked, burial sites only they and the Mistress of Ravens knew about scattered across the marshes and plains of her domain.

    At noon as the streets and markets were getting filled with people going on about their daily business and curiosity about what the Mistress of Ravens was to proclaim to the inhabitants of the city she reigned over. Sure enough a carriage flanked by undead horsemen approaches the large scaffolding in the center of the grand market, which was normally in use for executions and the like but had been scrubbed clean before the carriage was seen. There was a single drider in attendance any of the peasants, human, moredhel even other driders who caught a glimpse of the drider Matriarchs eyes looked away, as if fearing if the hungry gaze of those eyes would devour them whole.

    The procession was brought to a halt and a line of undead horsemen dispersed the crowd standing still around the stage scaffolding as Gennevë stepped out of the carriage, followed by Deathwalker and together with mother Malice the three of them ascended to the higher ground. She smiled as she spread her arms to the crowd as if she were a mother welcoming her child home, her smile getting wider as the crowd cheered and called out, out of genuine joy or frightful obedience she did not care that they did so was what mattered to her. "Citizens of Sanguinus, so good to look upon you all once more. I see some of the looks of worry on your faces, but do not worry. I have not come here today like last time announcing that a league of lords were out to betray me and that due to their actions a fraction of the human populace had to be... removed. No, I have come here to present a opportunity to those eager to join a worthy cause. For several years now you have all observed the deathless as well as those humans, moredhel and driders bearing the sigil of the Raven marching your streets and patrolling the lands keeping you all safe from beasts, bandits and other threats. I have come before you to ask any of you who wish to join this host are more than willing to step forward. Town militia members, private guards, mercenaries, or even those who are just starting or wish to learn a understanding of how to fight with sword, bow or other weapon will be welcomed with open arms." She smiled letting her voice be heard all over the grand market, speaking soothingly, like a mother calming her favorite child and giving it praise.

    "This is a wonderful opportunity each of you faces right now, to join the forces of the Mistress of Ravens and defend this small realm, to protect and safeguard your families and keep them fed with the wages and privileges you might earn by signing up." She narrowed her eyes and her smile turned to one of wickedness. "Not to mention that the families of those who join, will be protected against the stalkers of the night who once in a moon lurk the streets and hunt those who are unwise enough to be out at night, only to be found in the morning with their throats slashed open and their lifeforce drained dry."

    She then gestured to the undead horsemen. "In death your duty ends, for your spirit, but your body shall once again walk this earth and continue its service to protect your families from harm. What greater reward is there? Knowing that in the unlikely event of your death your families, your loved ones will still be protected by what you leave behind!"

    On cue Deathwalker raised a skull from her belt in one hand and her sword in the other. "Praise Gennevë, Mistress of Ravens, your protector! Praise the Dead God, he who promises your salvation upon dead!"


    Was the answering chorus from the crowd and the eye sockets of the skull held aloft by Deathwalker suddenly glowed and then vanished as quick as it appeared. The moredhel high priestess bowing and then stepping back for Gennevë to take center stage once more. "I only accept volunteers, those who wish to serve. Step forwards know and let your names be records in the scrolls of the Dead Who Will Be." A small army of heralds and clerks had appeared setting up tables and bringing forth scrolls, flanked by Moredhel guards.

    She watched and was satisfied when first alone but then forming smaller groups people flocked to the clerks, have their names added to the scrolls before being escorted to wagons that would bring the new recruits to barracks where they would receive some training and instruction of what would be expected of them while stocks of weapons and armour would be made to outfit them as well as sending out delegations to the farmlands to see to the pastures about horses for any mounted troops. At least this was all the case for the human and moredhel troops, Mother Malice concerned herself with any driders that wished to join the retinue of the Raven.

    As time passed and she was confident several hundred new faces would soon wear her colors Gennevë made to leave when a gap opened in the cordon of undead guards and they let through two Moredhel on horseback who immediately went for the Mistress of Ravens. As they got closer she recognized them, Serena Lamarn a captain of her troops often patrolling the borders of her lands and her apprentice Sasha Tâyn. Both of them looked liek they had been on the road for quite some time, seeing the state of their gear. Before they could open their mouths she gestured and smirked, "You both have traveled, long and far from the looks of it, it has been a long time already for me so be quick about it. Last I recall I had send you both to patrol the borders together, what has transpired?"

    It was her apprentice who spoke up after a glance was shared between herself and Serena, "Mistress, two nights ago we witnessed a event in the heavens... a comet appeared in the night sky. A blue comet. What is more it fell from the skies and impacted upon the earth, I saw where it landed but it is a good four days ride from our borders. We.... Serena, was unwilling to act without your command so we came riding back as fast as we could to inform you of this event. I did notice some townsfolk, not certain if they were from within our borders or beyond, were also going out to claim what fell from the skies, so we might have to hurry."

    Gennevë glanced from Sasha to Deathwalker who had been listening in, her grip tightened around the hilt of her sword, the high priestess was probably seeing the comet as a sign of some importance. Regardless... a comet, a blue one at that, falling from the skies was something to take note off, she asked at which point of the border and when received the answer from Sasha nodded slowly. "Serena, Sasha, lady Deathwalker. With me, to the Ravens Perch. Mother Malice, attend to the final details of the recruitment." Without a further word she went to her carriage, her apprentice and the two chosen captains joining her and as the carriage was set into motion. Closing her eyes she leaned back and concentrated sending out a brief telepathic call to someone at the Ravens Perch. Opening her eyes she looked at her apprentice, "A blue comet, was there anything else of note about this? Perhaps a reason why some townsfolk would go to lay claim to it?"

    Her apprentice shook her head, "No mistress, not that I noticed. Perhaps it is simply because of the tales of meteors falling to earth with valuable metals?"

    "Perhaps." She conceded and after that no further conversation took place until they reached her sanctum, stepping out she saw her call had indeed been received. Her second drider captain Matriarch Arachna along with 2 Matriarchs from the Raven Guard stood ready next to four horses. "Excellent, you have done well Arachna, the seven of us will be forming the party, I am afraid you will not gain any rest, Serena, Sasha. Mount up on the fresh horses." Deathwalker had already approached her horse as the two other captains resigned to the fact they would be traveling again mounted the fresh steeds. Mounting her own steed Gennevë took the reins and stood at the head of the six who would accompany her. "Stay close... do not stray from the path at any time." She cryptically said before waving her staff and exerted her will and command on magic to open a magic gateway to the border and moved forwards, the driders and moredhel following. Once all were through she closed the gateway and took a deep breath, shuddering and feeling weakened after exerting her magical powers. "Serena, Sasha, lead the way and we shall follow."

    She was eager to see how a blue comet fallen from the skies looked like and what it might yield...
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  7. Eren Felise
    The City of Vemise, Elucidar

    "His paces were too big when measuring the size of his lands,"

    "The miller north of Bilwater has been holding back taxes,"

    "One of your soldiers barged into my home drunk and wrecked the place,"

    The complaints were endless, and Eren suffered through her bored frustration while Edward dealt with the issues. Opening the throne room to hold public court and hear out grievances did wonders for fostering her people's dedication, but oh how it went on. She shifted position in her seat for the fourth time that minute, and tried to distract herself by inspecting the throne room. It was an imposing and grand affair, she thought with satisfaction. The throne and back wall were wrought of cast iron, the intricate weaving shapes casting dappled shadows across the entirety of the room. Obsidian and marble tiled the floor in equal measure, and sturdy columns framed the throne.

    The trappings of power, she thought as the most recent peasant's business was concluded. How they give and take. She motioned to catch Edward's attention before he could call the next discontent citizen in. "If there's something important, do it now," she said, "otherwise we're done for today."

    Edward, her solemn red-haired scholar, nodded and gestured to a tall man in the crowd. The man's head had been shaved bald, and elegantly shaped scars formed claws and teeth across his face. "I present Hallryn Grigori," Edward intoned, "Emissary of the Scarazar Empire."

    The man stepped forwards, hands skittering like spiders into a gesture of address. "Overlord," the man said with thinly veiled pomp and arrogance, "I have the pleasure to inform you of the great honour that has befallen you. My superiors, the rulers of the grand Black Empire, have taken note of your exploits, and desire to see a proper display of your power. A true demonstration of your worth. Only a week's journey away from here lies a dwarven town by the name of Tsiehrednug. An annoying little town, full of quaint and peaceful industry. The gracious powers of Scarazar will reward you with pure and valuable gold should you raze the town to ash, along with all of it's inhabitants."

    Eren fiddled with a swirl of iron upon her throne for a moment before answering. "A tribute to Khaelesh, then?"

    The man gave an empty smile, revealing crooked white teeth. "The Eternal Khaelesh takes pleasure in such displays," he allowed. "If I maybe so bold, you would do well to stick the severed and scalped heads of the inhabitants upon pikes. It would garner favour from the Empire to give such a display."

    "Khaelesh, Khaelesh," Eren muttered before leaning forward. "I'm afraid your masters don't understand me, Emissary. I do not pay homage to the gods, Infernal or otherwise. Now, Shireen," her captain stepped forward from the base of the steps leading to the throne, excitement clear on her face. "I think returning this man's corpse to Scarazar would help get the point across, don't you?"

    "Oh, definitely," Shireen replied, drawing her sword.

    The Emissary took a step back from the tattooed woman and the bloodlust in her eyes. "What is this?" He demanded, eyes flicking between the advancing sword and Eren upon her throne. "You cannot do this! The Empire will crush you, burn your very memory from this world!" Even from a distance, the sweat on his brow was clearly visible. "You should be grovelling for their approval. For their disinterest! To insult them... it's lunacy!" Shireen continued to close the gap, her sword lightly cutting the few feet of air that seperated her from the Emissary.

    At the last moment, Eren called Shireen to a stop. Her captain turned to her, frustrated, but a raised hand kept her silent. "Insult them?" Eren asked innocently. "No insult was meant. In fact, I would never let it be said that I failed to follow proper diplomatic relations." She looked at Shireen and smiled. "Perhaps I was being hasty." The Emissary gave a loud sigh of relief, wiping at his brow. "Send the good masters of Scarazar this mans scalped head on a pike. I'm sure it will - how did he put it? - 'garner their favour'."

    Even after being seperated from his body, his mouth gaped open in a grisly imitation of his last screams.

    Only after the spectacle was over and the throne room mostly cleared did Edward come to speak to her. "Was that wise? The Empire is not a small power to be trifled with."

    From the bottom of the stairs Shireen laughed at his caution. "A bit late with that touch of advice, coward."

    "You mistake cowardice for a basic understanding of rationality-"

    "I won't be intimidated by Scarazar," Eren interrupted, "They are only men. Men can be killed."

    "The same applies to your own person," Edward pointed out.

    "Does it?" Eren laughed. "But I have so much to do before I go." She waved off the issue. "It's done, and will be dealt with when it needs to. For now, gather one thousand soldiers and a score of my knights. I leave for Tsiehrednug tomorrow."

    "We'll be burning it after all?" Shireen asked, leaning forward like a hound at the smell of blood.

    "No," Eren replied, and left it at that.
    HerziQuerzi threw 10-faced die for: Terrible Consequences Inc. Total: 8 $dice $dice
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  8. Protectorate of the She-Wolf,
    City of Blackgriffin...

    The plaza was crowded, not with various merchant stalls, it was thronged with people all looking at the center stage set up in the middle of the plaza. Upon it stood a number of people dressed in a haphazard mixture of clothes and armour and armed with various types of weapons. One of them, their spokesperson or leader was addressing the crowd while gesturing to a series of poles, and the green skinned orcs tied to them. "Behold! The fierce and vile orcs! Don't they look disgusting! But do not fear good peoples of Blackgriffin, the Northernback adventurers have these evil monsters chained up proper!" For emphasis he turned walking to the nearest chained orc and punched him in the face, the orc snarled and struggled against his bonds which earned him another punch, smirking triumphantly he turned back to the crowd. "See! The beast would like nothing more than to kill me and every one of you but myself and my party have made sure that he and its vile ilk will pose no threat! In fact we will execute these mangy curs as a example to the rest of their kind that their evil race is not wanted in these lands! Because we the Northernback Adventurers protect the weak and innocent, it is our duty."

    Cheers came from the crowd and there were even some who threw projectiles at the bound orcs, eliciting laughter and mockery directed towards the bound captives. In return some of the orcs snarled and yelled curses in common and their own tongue.

    She had seen enough she looked to her left and right, Brienne, Gina and Karhn were with her, as well as a paladin escort of ten of her most experienced and trusted White Wolves. When she moved they followed, pushing her way through the crowd. Those people she pushed or nudged out of the way turned to look irritated and angry, no doubt wanting to send a curse towards someone they thought was being rude but as they laid eyes upon her and her entourage they closed their mouths and stepped back, out of her way. Once she was near the stage she spoke up, her voice loud and commanding. "Cease what you are doing and address me Northernback Adventurer, I have some issues with what you have just said."

    He had unsheathed his sword and was walking to the nearest captive, making a show of it when he first noticed a quiet descending over the crowd and then the voice calling out to him. Frowning he turned around to see who had spoken, interrupting his show and execution of these filthy orcs. To say he was surprised to see a dozen or so people in heavy armour, their spokesperson a woman of all things might have been odd already... to see she had white hair, carried a massive warhammer and that her eyes seemed to glow was another matter entirely. So he was not thinking when he blurted his next few words out, "Who the ruddy hell are you and what makes you stop the just execution of these beasts!?"

    Raising a eyebrow she took that bit of information in, these people were clearly new in these lands or had never heard of her before. "I am Nadira, also known as the She-Wolf, in whose protectorate you are about to carry out a execution without my permission. So I cannot say I agree with your words that this is a 'just' execution. Stand down and address me."

    He turned looking at his fellow adventurers who seemed as stumped as he was and then he turned back to this 'Nadira' woman. "You are the paladin warrior who is in charge? But you are a woman!? Eh, whatever, we caught these orcs at the border of your 'protectorate' and we thought that showing your people that some vile orcs get their just reward was a good thing." Not to mention it would be good for the reputation of himself and his adventuring band and might slosh some jobs, meaning gold, in their direction.

    She cocked her head to the side, looking at this adventuring leader, the orcs and then back at the adventuring leader. "What are their crimes?"

    Blinking the leader looked to his fellow adventurers and then back at her, had he heard her correctly? Wait she was joking, getting the joke now he started to laugh. "Hehe, had me there for a sec, good one."

    "I am most certainly not joking, I ask again. What are their crimes. You said you and your... party, caught these orcs at the border of my protectorate so I ask you, what are the crimes they have committed that it warrants their execution?" She said, repeating herself in a more elaborate fashion.

    He frowned, "You're serious? Their crimes... they... they're bloody orcs! Evil greenskins, plunderers and rapists! That's what they are, do we need another reason to execute them? Next you are going to ask me if I have proof of these things!?"

    "As a matter of fact I am, where is your proof, your witnesses. There are laws in this region and I will have them upheld." She stood at her full height her eyes glowing bright as she stared at the adventurer.

    He exploded at this point, was this she-bitch for real!? How in the name of the gods was she in charge of these lands. "OF COURSE I HAVE NO BLOODY PROOF! THEY ARE ORCS! THEY ARE EVIL! And therefore, they deserve to die! Were you born a idiot or did you fell with your head on the kitchenfloor or something!?"

    She kept staring at him, unwavering for just a few more seconds before sighing. "I have heard enough, you and the rest of your group, the Northernback Adventurers are to stand down and remove yourselves. I will let this show of disrespect and injustice go. Your captives will be released and brought to the border and they are free to go. You have no proof that they have done any evil or crime and therefore they are innocent until proven guilty." She gestured for Brienne and Karhn to take the paladins to the stairs leading up to the stage to secure the orcs while Gina remained at her side.

    With a snarl he took a step back and placed his sword at the throat of one of the orcs, glaring at the glowing eyes bitch. "You want to set these beasts free!? You are an insane woman!" he then turned his attention to the crowd, "Are you telling me good folk that you all agree with this ignorant and foolish bitch!? Orcs are a evil race and each and everyone of them deserves death!" The crowd had been staring in almost near silence but now they were muttering, some shouting their agreements with the adventurer while others seemed to agree with their protector, Nadira.

    She narrowed her eyes and was lifting up her hammer pointing accusingly at the adventurer leader. "No being is born good or evil, it is the choices in their lives what makes them what they are. I have fought against orcs in the past, but those raped, pillaged and enslaved the people of these lands and so I fought them, that does not mean I will slay any and all orcs I encounter in my path. From what I hear you simply encountered these orcs on their own and decided to hunt them down and then execute them, not investigating if they have had any history of evil acts." She then addressed the crowd herself, "People of Blackgriffin, this city and its people, all of you, decided to be under my protection because I helped liberate these lands from many a evil force and because I wish to protect the innocent, all the innocent, no matter what race they are. Tell me people, what difference would there be between a murderer... and you, yourselves if you allow this man to kill a sentient being on just the basis that this being is part of a 'evil' race, without providing any reason or proof that this being has killed anyone. This is no execution, no act of justice taking place in front of your eyes, you are all watching a murder perform... and some of you are even cheering it on. Is murder really something you all approve off?"

    The words did have a impact on the crowd, coming from Nadira herself, some of those who had cheered earlier looked to the ground in shame. First one, then another, and another began to shout for the orcs to be released. The leader of the Northernback Adventurers looked wide-eyed at the crowd. "You got to be kidding me..." He snarled and turned to Nadira while his men were having a silent standoff with her people, preventing them from getting on the stage. "I do not know what kind of magic or lies you feed these people but these orcs are evil and deserve to die and a prissy woman in armour and some kind of glowing eyes trick wont change that fact! They will die here and thats final!"

    "Kill any of those orcs and you will be a murderer and be punished to the full extend of the laws of this realm. Stand down." She replied, her tone turning cold as she tightened the grip on her hammer.

    "You wouldn't dare bitch." He turned his attention back to the bound orc and pulled his arm back for a lunge at his orc captive, his intention clear.

    "Neutralize him Gina. Northernback Adventurers you are all under arrest! Resist and you will face the dire consequences!" Her voice had lost all kindness, if they wouldn't listen to words they would listen to her hammer. In response to her words Gina shouted out a incantation and weaved her hands in a complex pattern, freezing the air in front of her and send a block of ice hurling at the Northernback leader, meaning to knock him out to stop him from killing the orc. Brienne, Karhn and the paladins unsheathing their weapons and glared at the other adventurers. "I suggest you obey her or we will use any and all means to stop you, by lethal means if we have to." Karhn said calmly, glad for small favours that Brienne was wearing her helmet obscuring her half-orc heritage.

    The small block of ice was aimed well by Gina and hit the leader of the Northernback adventurers square on the back of his head, knocking him out. A sigh escaped his lips and he fell to the floor of the stage, his sword scattering away harmlessly. Seeing that and the dozen well armoured and armed warriors, along with Nadira and some kind of mage at her side thinned the resolve of the other adventurers and they quickly dropped their weapons and raised their hands in surrender.

    "Good to see that some sense remains with you all, Karhn, escort the Northernback Adventurers to the nearest prison and secure them there. The court will deal with them, Brienne release the orcs and assure them they will be escorted to the border and would then be free to go. Assure them that the criminals responsible for their mistreatment will be punished." She then turned back to crowds, "See, this is how justice works. The northernback adventurers are misguided and for their attempt of murder they will face punishment, I ask of all of you to not follow their example. Their path leads to a darkness they claim these orcs were part off. Becoming the evil they said were fighting. I have sworn to protect the innocent, any innocent. I do not care what race they are, if they do not have done any evil it is my duty to protect them. Return to your daily lives and homes now, there is nothing to see here but the folly of some misguided... but perhaps well-meaning people."

    At this the crowds dispersed as Nadiras people did as they were tasked, escorting the Northernback adventurers, two of which carrying the limp form of their leader, to a prison in the city while Brienne seemed to successfully convince the orcs they were 'safe' and would be brought at the edge of Nadira's realm.

    She let out a sigh of relief that it had not come to bloodshed, shaking her head. Perhaps they... meant well, with what they were trying to do but she would never allow such conduct of injustice in the realm she had sworn to protect.That said, she was not looking forward to the trial of these adventurers, perhaps she simply would let them go, they clearly had never been to these lands before or knew of its laws. But for now they could contemplate their wrongdoings in a cell for the night. Hefting Foehammer to her shoulder she turned and strode away, Gina following in her wake now this distraction had passed.
  9. Beyond the northern borders of Remyard

    Light rose above the mountains, which high tops split the skies like a riptide. A pilgrimage of nomadic folk, or so they would have you believe, had traveled from the wastelands of Remyard through the mountain pass into the Drahakan Empire. It would be no small task to guide an army through the treacherous terrain she called her own, but Meinir would have no different. Near of all the vassals with her had a past in the nomadic lifestyle, the remainders and children of armies that had scattered after the defeat of their overlords. Banished or chased from their homes. The Drahakan Empire itself offered little hospitality for lionataur-kind, neither trolls, ogres or cyclops and they had survived on the road or hidden in the mountains. Yet today would mark their return in small groups... For today was the first of their campaign of revenge against those who had taken their lives from them; the guardian.

    “The lands our ancestors roamed freely.” A deep voice growled. Ranaan, lionataur captain of Meinir's forces had awaited this day for longer than any other. He stood before her, leading twenty of his kin as scouts. Lionataurs were better suited to traveling the mountains than humankind; she and her swordsmen easily lagged behind... And though fierce warriors, intel had provided Meinir the knowledge they were not as feared as the trolls, cyclops and dragon ogres under her wing. At least, amongst the villages on the other side of the mountains...

    Meinir spoke not to her captain. Leaving her home was a first. Each step felt strange, for some reason, as she could swear that with every step, she was breaking free from the embrace of the desert... One she had never thought to feel so smothering, up till now. The winds were strange, the clouds were both above and below her and the air tasted strange. Every step she took, she felt a sensation so different, Meinir could only compare it to sinking into water.

    “You seem different.” Ranaan commented, having decided to walk next to her. Or rather, jump and pause, at least, as the lionataur felt little to scale the mountains as clumsily as man did in his eyes. It was a strange sight, to see his body covered by a mantle. She had grown accustomed to him displaying his manes and muscles proudly, not to mention the glaive bearing the name of his pride. Alas, he hadn't been able to bring it on this mission, for it's mere aura brought fear upon the weak of mind.

    “No.” Meinir shook her head. “It is everything else that is different. Even you.” As she followed the captain further down the mountain. “As it should be.” She added, although Meinir left the how and why to that statement as shrouded in mystery as the mountaintops were in mists. She pointed downwards instead, at the unseen. “Beyond there lies our destination. I wish we could hurry...”

    After days of travel, the small group finally made it to the first settlement on the other side of the mountains. A village, mostly compromised of humans, one where all work stopped to lay eyes upon the forty-odd individuals setting foot in their home. “They've probably never even seen a lionataur.” Ranaan mumbled under his breath, but Meinir, caring less for how she was eyed, remained calm. She simply played the script that had been written for them, for there was no reason to her not to. The sooner they would gain the information they needed, the sooner they would be on their way.

    “Hail!” Meinir stepped forward and shouted, and instinctively her lionataurs lined up behind her, and her men followed. She removed her hood, revealing her face as a light breeze took a hold of her blond hair.“We seek pilgrimage to the homeland, far away. For this journey, we require the blessing of a man or woman who carries the title of guardian. Those in the knowledge of where we can find our blessing, step forward and speak up.”
  10. The Realm of the Gorgond Sanctuary,
    Gorgond Dahr.

    "Halt! Who goes there!" Came the shout from one of the Dwarves at one of the underground entrances leading to the citadel of Gorgond Dahr, the other Dwarves on guard duty already raising the weapons and forming a shieldwall in case the sound of approaching footsteps, running footsteps at that, indicated some kind of threat. The main entrance lay on the surface but the few underground passages were only reserved for Dwarves and whatever lurked in the dark and came creeping into the tunnel networks of the Gorgond holds.

    "Its me ya daft loons." Came the reply, followed by the panting and heavy breathing appearance of Grimbold, who clearly had been running for a while. At the sound of the familiar voice and appearance the shield wall relaxed and broke up.

    "Delver Grimbold, how gracious of ye to come to the hold. What be the matter lad?" The leader had removed his helmet showing his aged features and gray beard as he took in the ragged looking appearance of his fellow Dwarf.

    Grimbold skidded to a halt and took a few deep breath, "No time ta explain, need to see Thráin right away." He looked at the other dwarves and then back at the graybeard. "Tell me where he be at and then send out a summons, all tha troops in Gorgond will be needing to march right away."

    Frowning the Graybeard gestured to three of the fastest runners as he looked at Grimbold warily. "He's at the library I would think lad... what came in the tunnels and where."

    Grimbold was already getting into motion but shouted over his shoulder. "Skaven, pouring into the tunnels and mines of Morian!"

    The graybeard watched Grimbold go and then looked at the runners, "Ye heard the lad! Warn every company, every clan, every barracks. Our cousins at Morian aren't going to get all the fun!"

    Library of Gorgond Dahr

    He read the letter again, he did not need to, he knew every word, all had been burned in his mind the first time he had read it. The familiar scribbling, the way the Dwarf Runes flowed, even though there were signs that some of them had been written by a shaking, nervous hand, it was clearly written by his brothers hand. Except for the last note, crudely written he glared at the last message. Yes he knew the contents of the message but reading it all over made his anger and hatred boil near the surface. "One day 'Small King'. One day ye will pay for yer crimes." He swore and then turned to the massive tome sitting on a large pedestal, it had been opened at a particular page and he returned to it, solemnly placing the letter back between the two pages it had been located and closed the book. Softly speaking a prayer to the ancestors and the gods to take mercy upon his poor brother and that he once again renewed his oath to restore his brothers and his clans honour.

    He frowned as he heard footsteps, he had given clear warning that he was not to be disturbed as he turned around to glare at the interloper. Blinking as he saw it was one of his captains and oldest friends. "Grimbold? What are ye doing here? Thought ye were mapping the tunnels near Morian."

    The Dwarf miner and mountaineer locked gazes with his lord and spoke in a voice that broke no doubt that he was speaking the truth and that there was a great deal at stake. "Skaven, pouring into the Morian tunnels, hundreds of em."

    Thráin raised a eyebrow and simply reached for his warhammer, lifting it to his shoulder. "Did ye only bother to warn me?" As if in response deep horns were being heard, calling Dwarves and whatever other troops in the citadel to gather their arms and armour. "Good lad." Said the dwarf lord as he went to a gong near the great book he had just closed and smashed it with the butt of his warhammer. As the sound echoed a small coterie of Dwarves came hurrying in. Thráin looked at them solemnly, "Vermin in the tunnels, who must have forgotten that we be having a grudge against their filthy hides. The book of grudges will need to be carried into battle once more." At once the coterie bowed and reverently went to the great book, retrieving wooden bars which they slid in place in holes at the edges of the pedestal, with the combined might of eight Dwarves the pedestal and the book lying on top was lifted up. Nodding Thráin took the lead, Grimbold stepping in line next to him as the two Dwarves went ahead of the carried Book of Grudges. "They aren't gobbos but bashing the heads in of some skaven are also good enough for me in this time."

    At that Grimbold grunted, "I suppose we should be thanking whatever warlord is leading the skaven, a lot of our kin be wanting to bash in some heads around this time."

    Some time later the two of them along with the carried book were outside, looking upon the sight of several hundred Dwarves geared for battle along with some cohorts of human and glamredhel archers who happened to be at the citadel. At the sight of the book of grudges the Dwarves in unison slammed the butts of their weapons against their shields or the ground. Thráin stepped forwards addressing the crowd. "What ye've heard is true, vermin, the skaven are pouring into the tunnels near Morian... we march to cast them out, the grudges against the ratkin are known to you all, so we march to make them feel our wrath! Are ye all with me!" A roaring cheer came from the crowd of Dwarves, more boisterous than the cheer from the humans and glamredhel but they would not understand like the Dwarves did.

    Once supplies were secured the army began to march to secure and liberate Morian and it's surrounding area of whatever skaven infestation was taking place and deal with the foolish warlord who had led his to face the forces of Gorgond Dahr.
  11. The Falthos Highlands
    Oronthil's Heart

    Ceregor sat cross-legged in the summoning chamber, his eyes closed and his white wood staff laid across his knees. The marble floor was as solid and implacable as ever, but he would never even entertain the thought of bringing a cushion or a chair into this sanctified area. There was no holy edict against sitting comfortably in the chamber, rather it was a matter of principle. Ceregor felt that one should come before the gods and their celestial servants in humility, aware of one's own weakness and mortality, and few things could humble a man quicker than a numb ass. He allowed himself a faint smile at his own thought, then returned his mind to placidity.

    Or rather he attempted to make his mind like unto a calm forest pond glimmering under the first rays of dawn, but it was hard to do so with the continuing noise.

    "It's bloody important! Look, he can hear me, you know it, I know it, he knows it. Just move out of my fucking way so I can deliver my report directly instead of over your shoulder, you self-important unicorn fucker." Aeneth was nothing if not expressive.

    Sejuli took the verbal assault like a castle wall warding off a thrown pebble, his voice remaining utterly composed and utterly unrelenting. "You will wait in silence. None are to interrupt my lord's meditation, as you should well know." Ceregor could remember a time when such an exchange would have ended with the leader of the Paladins blushing and spluttering. The Eledhel woman had that effect on most people she met, and from a sharp intake of breath it sounded as if she was ready to loose another round of abuse.

    "It is fine, Sejuli." Ceregor opened his eyes and stood, using his staff to help lever himself to his feet. He moved to the entrance rather than bidding the Paladin to stand aside and let Aeneth pass. Though she was as good-hearted as anyone else, it felt to Ceregor like it would be improper for the foul-mouthed woman to set foot into the summoning chamber, never mind the fact that the angels themselves seemed by and large to have no problem with her colorful vocabulary. "What is this matter of great urgency, Aeneth?"

    The Eledhel woman flashed Sejuli a smug smirk before responding. "A rider came from Corolia. There's a pack of gnolls and wargs headed through the forest, about forty gnolls, and some of them are wounded. They've got wagons with coverings in Moorstear colors, and some with bloodstains. The little beasts probably attacked a merchant caravan and are taking the loot back to whatever hole they live in."

    Sejuli was the first to respond. "If you had simply told me what the matter was, as I requested before your barged your way in here, it could have been dealt with without any disturbance." He made no effort to hide the stern disapproval in his voice.

    "Shove it, pony boy." Aeneth delivered the verbal slap to Sejuli as an aside as she gave Ceregor an insolent look. "You've been cooped up in here for weeks, reading and communing with your angels or whatever. The people need to know you're still actively protecting them. They get restless when you're away for a long time, and hiding out here in the Heart is just as bad. Let's go massacre the little shits and-"

    Ceregor halted her with a raised hand. "You know very well that there has been nothing in the Highlands that required my attention recently. The only reason you're so eager to go fight is because things have been calm lately. There is no need to try to goad me into action with falsehoods, Aeneth, and I will thank you to keep a civil tongue in my presence."

    She didn't even bother pretending toward being ashamed or chastised. Aeneth just shrugged a shoulder. "Sure, whatever, let's go kill some gnolls."

    Ceregor sighed. She was incorrigible, and it was always easier to just let it slide rather than trying to correct her behavior. Often times she seemed more a force of nature than a person. "We will go investigate the matter, and if they are indeed servants of evil then we will cleanse them. With prejudice."

    "Perfect." Aeneth's grin seemed to take up the whole lower half of her face. "I'll get Kara and we'll round up some warm bodies, and-"

    Ceregor cut her off again. "Cavalry only, I think. You may come along, Aeneth, but I want to move quickly, so your soldiers will have to sit this one out." The woman just shrugged again. She obviously didn't mind it if her soldiers remained bored, so long as she got to get out and do something. "Kara's mounted archers and Rawel's cavalry will do nicely, I think. Sejuli, have you any interest in dealing with gnolls?"

    The Paladin shook his head. "I am content to remain here, my lord. Some of the newer men under my command could do with more drills and training. My knights have been growing restless, however, and I'm sure they would welcome the excuse to stretch their legs."

    "Very well. Have the knights assemble at the front gate. Aeneth, tell Kara and Rawel to do the same with their men. I intend to leave within the hour."

    Orders given, Ceregor strode away and left the two behind him to hurry off to their tasks. This level of response to something as petty as a group of gnolls was quite excessive, two hundred and fifty mounted soldiers setting out to deal with an estimated forty, but caution never went amiss when dealing with evil creatures, even the small and weak ones like gnolls. In truth, caution had little to do with it. Ceregor was never entirely comfortable going into a fight without summoning angelic aid, but calling on the celestial beings for such mundane issues as a band of gnolls felt sacrilegious, so he overcompensated by bringing far more mortal fighters than were truly needed. It had worked for him so far, so he saw no need to change his ways now.

    The soldiers assembled quickly enough, trickling into the courtyard in small groups starting a few minutes after Ceregor himself arrived and mounted his horse. Unsurprisingly, both Kara and Rawel had decided to come along on this venture themselves rather than simply telling their soldiers to go and follow the lord's orders. Kara was along for the trip probably just because Aeneth was there, and Rawel was just as eager for a fight as the other Eledhel woman, though for her part it was less a personal need and more to be able to show off the skill of her cavalry once more.

    There was no need for any pomp or ceremony, so once they were all assembled Ceregor led the way out of Oronthil's Heart and down the road toward Corolia.

    Later, in the forests near Corolia

    The trip was rather uneventful, if one were to discount the shocking and colorful array of topics broached by Aeneth and Kara in their usual chatty manner, which Ceregor did as a matter of course. In between such lively discussions, a simple plan was concocted. Ceregor would take the hundred knights and get in front of the gnolls, whereupon he would stop them and demand to know their business in his land. The women would take their hundred human horse archers and fifty Eledhel cavalry around the sides and await his signal. Should the brutish little dog men attack or provide an unsatisfactory answer, the flanking groups would attack while the knights charged. If, somehow, the gnolls had some benign purpose for their presence in the Highlands and Ceregor decided to let them live, they would escort the travelers out of the Falthos Highlands whilst keeping them away from anywhere they might cause harm.

    Finding the gnolls was quite easy, given the clear tracks left by the wagons and the laggardly pace they were moving at compared to the fine horses of the pursuing force. They took to the trees to get ahead of the caravan out of sight, and they all spread out in accordance with the plan. When the first gnoll came into view from where Ceregor awaited them, he lifted his staff and gave it a fiery nimbus just to show the little creatures what they were dealing with. "Halt! Why are you evil creatures befouling my land, and how did you acquire those wagons? Answer me truthfully or be burned by the divine fire of judgment, beasts."

    Ceregor was an honest man. If they did answer him truthfully but they still needed to die, he would not cast them down with fires. He had other means at his disposal, just as fatal, but as a man of his word he could not use flames if they met the conditions of his ultimatum. One had to stand by one's principles, after all. He awaited their answer and surreptitiously prepared to launch an attack with water magic in case it proved necessary.
  12. Near the Blue Comet Impact Crater.

    Genneve's way towards the site had proved to be more than a little easy, as they got closer there was no doubt that villagers had been trying to get close to the site. And yet... as they got closer they witnessed signs of madness, those villagers were engaged in madness. One was clawing his own eyes out and another weeping uncontrollably as she licked an oak tree praying for it to release its nectar. And the madness didn't stop there. A woman and man were spotted copulating with a horse simultaneously and it took a second look to realise it was a centaur, not a horse. But they were mouthing something in a language none there could identify and all three had blood pouring from a torn tongue and lips as they fought to utter the impossible tongue.

    But still they felt nothing as they god closer to it. And a pale blue glow began more than a mile from the place it was said to have come down.

    Looking over the scenes of madness as the rode past she turned to Sasha and Serena, "Somehow I have doubts we would have to worry about claim jumpers, at least about ones trying to take it." She narrowed her eyes and looked back at what was going on with the centaur, trying to understand the language they were all were mouthing but gave up. "Perhaps need to worry more about the mad and insane trying to 'protect' it whatever it ends up being." She muttered as she led the party of seven, making sure her horse remained calm as did the others as they made their slow approach towards the pale blue glow at the horizon.

    As they got closer the party began to feel strange as if something was beginning to effect them. Genneve was largely unaffected and could almost feel a kindred spirit. Or something more... raw.. a sense that she MUST have it.

    It was then that she noticed something else. One of the Matriarchs had simply plopped down on the ground and lay there as if she never planned to move again as the other matriarch began shovelling handfuls of dirt into mouth. Arachna meanwhile started to flush and betrayed herself with seemingly innocent, but erotic caresses, Sasha, Serena and Deathwalker seemed little effected but... still their demeanors changed slightly. Deathwalker's hand grabbed her blade more surely, Sasha stood straighter and Serena began looking covetously at the equipment of her Mistress.

    Whatever it was, it's effect was strong, even so far from the blue glow.

    She frowned as she glanced at the Drider Matriarch who had just... was she sleeping? She then stared at the others, her frown increasing. "I see... very well. Arachna, Deathwalker, you two are with me. The rest of you... try and drag Krissna back if you can't wake her." Part of her gave that order because it seemed some kind of mental effect was taking hold of her people and another part of her, a voice nagging at her was telling her that she was doing this so she could keep it all to herself.

    "And why should I come with you." Came the retort from Deathwalker, laced with anger and bitterness.

    She stared surprised at her high priestess, raising a brow. "Because I need and value your counsel. And because I ordered you to." She looked to see if Arachna had any objections but it seemed she was... were was she rubbing the hilt of her mace against? She shook her head and looked at the others, the look Serena gave her troubled her somehow but she hardened her gaze till the Moredhel captain looked away. Satisfied they would obey her Gennevë continued with just Arachna and Deathwalker.

    As Arachna, Deathwalker and the Overduchess approached the site the effect on them didn't get too much stronger, though Arachna was doing little to hide her efforts to please herself now and Deathwalker's face was twisted into a rictus of anger.

    And Genneve could feel her need for whatever it was growing worse, but still controllable. Finally when they were within sight of the crater they saw, not a meteor, but a being there. Skin as black as midnight moving as if submerged in oil, impermanent... the blue glow radiated out and was growing much stronger as they got closer and Genneve got the distinct impression that whatever it was now looked straight at her, though its body gave no hint it had noticed her at all.

    All Genneve knew was that she must have it. Have its power. Have whatever it was...

    And then she shook off the worse feelings as her senses told her that impulse had put a smile on its face.

    She blinked and then frowned, looking at the being in the crater and then back at her captains. She was taken aback for a moment tilting her head, she had no idea a Drider could bend like that. Turning her attention to Deathwalker made her feel a urge to hurl a spell at her though, the way she was staring angry at both herself and Arachna as if their mere presence angered her. Shaking it off she turned her attention back at the being in the crater. "Well, you were not what I expected at all. Do you understand me?" She stated as she felt the more... aggressive traces of influence that had controlled her actions slinking away in the darkness.

    A wave of sinful senses washes over Genneve, the tightness of effect so tight that Genneve realised that it was an attempt to answer her question. But the meaning was so coated in waves of what seemed like pure sin that it was almost impossible to extract meaning from it. And yet persevering Genneve sensed that the answer was in the affirmative.

    "The seven deadly sins..." She muttered mostly to herself taking in the rather unique reply she had received. "And what is that you want I wonder." She glanced back at her captains. "Also if you could remove whatever effect you are having on my people I would be oh so thankful, I prefer to have a conversation without distractions, though I must admit I never knew Driders were so flexible."

    The figure shrugged in response the wave of sinful senses and images somehow feeling apologetic. Regardless it doesn't take Genneve long to grasp that it could not control the passive effect.

    Then Genneve fell to the ground feeling her mind being plundered and the figure before her changing shape slightly. The agony stopped as abruptly as it began and Genneve could see lips where none were before.

    "I am the Prime Sin." It said to the unanswered question. "Sent to test and reward. My time here is not long before I return and explain to Khaelesh what I have found and seen."

    She widened her eyes and then narrowed them as she got back to her feet, trembling. Khaelesh, huh? Well this would be interesting. "I see, I am more a disciple of Nabra Chabaal, but that does not mean I do not have respect for the other primoral entities." She inclined her head slightly, noticing Deathwalker had bowed to the ground, looking angry still but her priestess background had kicked in at least. "So send here to test and reward, well you certainly have my interest and attention, perhaps a little bit of greed as well." She quipped a half-smile gracing her lips but still wary.

    The being laughed a laugh laden with wrath, greed, envy, sloth, pride, lust and gluttony in equal measure. Suddenly Genneve found herself with a blue shard in her hand. "The first test is complete. Surviving the sins to converse with me. And your reward is a shard of sin. Shatter it in a place of sin worthy of my attention and I will re-appear with a blessing from Khaelesh... if he is satisfied."

    With that. The being and her light faded away, returning to the infernal plane, leaving Genneve with the shard of sin in hand.

    After a moment of contemplation to consider what just happened and what she had just received. Tucking the shard in the confines of her robs she turned around, observing a rather satisfied and bliss looking Arachna and a still kneeling Deathwalker. Letting her drider captain enjoy the endorphines she must currently be experiencing she turned her gaze and attention fully to Deathwalker. "I take it you have returned to normal?"

    The moredhel looked up and nodded slowly, "Forgive me mistress, it was as if... rage... and resentment were fueling my thoughts... I... I was on the verge to attack you a number of times. I would never do that though! My loyalty to you is unquestionable and-"

    "Shh, my dear Deathwalker. You were under the influence of a being from the realm of Khaelesh, it is understandable. If you were about to ask for my forgiveness, don't bother because there was no offense to forgive my dear. Now lets regroup with the others and return home, this place is not hospitable and I have no doubt others will come to investigate the blue comet impact site, even though there is nothing left for them here." Deathwalker seemed relieved and got to her feet while Gennevë turned to Arachna, "My dear Arachna... you were on patrol the last three times when it was the mating cycle for your kind were you not?" The drider did not seem ashamed at all, grinning widely and merely nodded. "Right, make sure that for the next cycle you don't have any other obligations, you clearly had some desires pent up inside you that found release today." She said with a smirk as she and Deathwalker returned to their horses and find the others.

    The sound of retching led them in the right direction, figuring that a Drider matriarch eating handfuls of dirt would have a lot to release from her stomach once she snapped out of the influence that had taken hold of her...

    Summary (open)
    Gennevë has gotten herself a 'Shard of Sin' from a servant of Khaelesh to be shattered at a place of sin that is worthy in return for a favour?
  13. Graim Sinercus
    Lord of the Griffon-Riders

    Peaks Eternal
    Iolaus, Coelum Vigil

    Aerite was crouched on the edge of a precipice of stone—Coelum Vigil's southernmost wall—whetting her sword as she scanned the seemingly endless rock below her. Far below, slowly making their way up the mountain path, was what appeared to be a solitary man on horseback. Rising to her feet, she turned to the sentry waiting beside her and grasped his shoulder in thanks, then moved off along the battlements.

    Every sentry was to memorize a list of expected comings and goings every day. Food resupply caravans, loved ones coming for a visit, emissaries and dignitaries. Everything was forewarned, prepared. Sinercus was staunch in his belief in maintaining order in all things. Coelum Vigil, being a military base and little else, had little reason to expect unexpected visitors to show up, and indeed it was rare. Most matters of law and politics were dealt with in the capitol, Vallo Cippus, with only crucial matters warranting messengers to fetch Sinercus at his Sanctuary proper.

    That wasn't to say that there were never any who deemed it necessary to make the long trek through the Gaftkor's mountain passes to the keep itself. At a half-day's march from the capitol, it was an intimidating trek for most, but not unbearable.

    Flipping open a hatch embedded into the stone of the walkway, Aerite descended the ladder that would lead to the ground level. Waiting below was Irena, leaning against the rungs and carefully grooming her fingernails.

    Aerite was well aware that her companion did not care quite that much about maintaining her appearances.

    And yet, Irena knew equally well how much the facade annoyed Aerite. "So?" she asked, neither deigning to look up nor move out of the way of the ladder's descent.

    With a shove of her boot, Aerite sent the woman stumbling aside before leaping to the floor herself. Without a word—but scowling aplenty—she moved towards the gates so as to interrogate the newcomer.

    With a hardly stifled grin, Irena followed.

    — ° ~ ° ~ ° —

    "Please, milady, I must see the Guardian! My son—"

    "You may see the Guardian," Aerite started, leading the desperate man attempt to rush past him. Latching onto his arm, she dragged him back to a halt with an impressive show of strength.

    Lounging patiently in a nearby seat, Irena feigned boredom. Damned elves, always showing off.

    "You may see the Guardian," she repeated, more forcefully. "After you talk to me."

    — ° ~ ° ~ ° —

    Graim Sinercus was at his desk, going over some details of resource scarcity with one of his chief advisors, when he heard a knock at his door. Glancing to the advisor, he motioned with his head, and the man moved aside, seating himself on a chair resting in the corner of the small room.

    Throwing the door open, the head of his ground forces marched herself inside, dragging a man behind her. He appeared to be in his late thirties, maybe forties; human, and judging by his unkempt beard, one of the foresters of Iolaus. Behind him, Irena slipped into the room and closed the door, as surreptitious as ever. Seeing the desperation in the mans eyes, the Guardian rose to his feet and leaned forward, planting both hands firmly on his desk. "Speak your troubles."

    "Wolves, great black wolves dragged my son into the mountains. Please, you must—"

    "Why did you not track them? Organize a hunting expedition?"

    "They were too fierce, and we too few; one even seemed to bear a collar on its neck. I rode here as fast as I could."

    A collar? Pray that it not be wargs. "Aerite, fetch me Hurgekk. Irena, Nessia. We'll meet at the stables." With brusque nods, the two rushed off to complete their respective tasks. Walking around his desk, Sinercus gave a brief apology to his advisor before motioning for the forester to follow him as he made his way to the barracks, winding through the various stone corridors that had been sometimes carved out of and sometimes built upon the mountain itself. "These wolves, did you track them?"

    "Of course."

    "Where did they go?"


    Repressing an exasperated sigh, Sinercus strode through the hallway as he made gestures with his hands. "Their lair, did you see it?"

    "Ah, yes! They took him maybe twelve leagues distant, south-west of here. I can show you the way." He paused. "But I'll need a fresh horse."

    Sinercus affected a smug grin. "We'll not be travelling by foot." With a heave, he threw open the doors to the courtyard, and strode towards the barracks nestled against the battlements. A large bell hung outside, and with a couple tugs, the powerful half-elf set it ringing. After a few moments, he grabbed the lip to silence it. Within a few minute, all thirty-two of his personally trained Griffon-Riders stood before him, armed and ready, Thean at their head. Pointing to Shrakleer, Thean, and ten others, he dismissed the rest before moving off towards the stables to rejoin the others.

    Thean and Shrakleer came forward to walk alongside him. "What need have you of us?" asked Thean, as serious as ever.

    "A pack of wolves took this man's—" Sinercus paused and looked at the man stumbling over his feet to keep up with the military men expectantly.

    "Uh, Durrin, sire."

    "—Durrin's son. We're going to go get him back."

    "Oh, so that's what it's to be," laughed Shrakleer. "We're errand-boys, now!"

    "I hate to agree with this lout, but I imagine we have far more important matters to attend to. I imagine you have far more important matters to attend to." Thean did his best not to look at the human walking beside them. It had taken quite some time before he could see even Sinercus as an equal, considering his mixed heritage. Humans didn't stand a chance.

    "There is more at stake here. The wolves may be under the command of some force." His smug grin returned. "As for me, I have always had a way with animals, and it's about time I get out of this hen-hole."

    A short distance ahead, Aerite, Irena, Hurgekk, and Nessia awaited their approach. He turned to his fellow riders. "Men, prepare your griffons for travel. Shrakleer, fetch me one of the tamers, we'll be taking him along. Thean, to me." As the others bustledabout, he led the others towards the stables where his and Thean's griffons were kept—up at the front, so that he discuss important matters with others waiting at the viewing openings. "Aerite, Irena, you may return to your posts." The two women gave their respects and moved off. Sinercus and Thean began to harness the saddles onto their griffons, as the other three—along with Shrakleer and the beast tamer—stood nearby. "We'll be gone a few hours, expect a day at most. I expect supplies to be set out for the griffons at our return. Hurgekk—" The gruff man gave a grunt. "—You'll be looking over the Sanctuary while I'm gone."


    "Try not to piss anyone off. Nessia, you'll ride with Thean." He looked over at the beast tamer. "Melluin, right? You're with Shrakleer. Durrin, you're with me. Us six will go to the lair, see what we can find. I want the other ten fanning out to scout the area, and then meet back up with us. Everyone got that?" After a collective cacophony of agreement, and a disgruntled noise from Hurgekk, everyone saddled up. Neither Durrin nor Nesia looked too pleased to be taking a bird's route to their destination, but Sinercus knew Nessia at least would be able to stay firmly on the great beast's back. As for Durrin, he strapped him in—tightly. "Let's go."

    — ° ~ ° ~ ° —

    Hurgekk watched from below as their distant forms grew smaller and smaller in the distance, before disappearing around the edge of a mountain.

    "Fuckin' asshole."

    Synopsis of actions. (open)
    Sinercus gathered Nessia, Shrakleer, Thean, ten griffon-riders, the forester, and a monster tamer to deal with the wolves. The ten griffon-riders will scout the area as the others investigate, and all will meet up on location.

    Hurgekk is left in charge of the Sanctuary.
  14. The Baleful Bastion

    Deep within the bastion, she toils over the alchemical tables. She carefully measures out the various herbs she had acquired through her last journeys through the swamps and prepares to mix them with the various daemonic toxins she possessed in order to produce a more potent poisonous serum. It was all an experiment. Just to see how far she could taint normal concoctions with the otherworldly substances and enhance their qualities. If it panned out, she might be able to extend her limited supplies from the daemons without extending out her pacts needlessly.

    It was as if that very thought sent a ripple through the bastion about her. The walls about her swelled as if taking a breath and groaned. The screams from the walls above, even though she was deep in the dungeons, grew to an eerie crescendo and she attempted to block them out. It was no wonder her troops were so reluctant to inhabit these halls. She herself was hesitant to be here, but it was the key to her enhanced powers. Everything she had achieved in the most recent years, it was thanks to the very nature of this harrowed ground. Dianth gnashes her teeth as she walls begin to ripple like living flesh and sicken her. She sets down the vial in rack and moves away, wrapping her wings close about herself and pinches the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes tight.

    Perhaps it was time for another campaign. They had been here long enough. Four months. No, five. What had she achieved in that time? Nothing of note. They had just been stationary for far too long. Her men grew weary, needing sedation to deal with the horrors of the very place they were meant to call home and defend. She herself had learned of nothing new in truth during her seclusion and had met no new daemons in her toying with the powers of this hell rift.

    Her power had plateaued. Or she needed a greater sphere of influence, yet. She considers the possibilities, as a whisper crackles through the air, indistinct and warped, unlike the screams from the walls outside. She perks her head up and cranes to listen but there was no distinct source. There was no way she could make out the words. They were simply incoherent.

    Dianth frowns and experimentally walks towards the summoning circle set into the floor of the lab, wrought of different metals and fixed the very floor into a set shape where it touched. The only place in the bastion that made any sense and was natural, she determined. The whispers grew into words, babbling she could make out. A frenzied little song, she even mused, as she picked out just what was being said. Tithe-time-tithe-time! Time-to-pay-the-tithe-time! Blood-blood-blood-blood-you-pay-I-splay-they-spray-its-time!

    The very thing left little doubt in her mind as to what was on the other side trying to get into the mortal realm. Calmly, Dianth walks to the edge of the ring and invests her power into the outer circle, sealing the circle. With that, she tears the thin veil between the worlds and allows the other presence through with a small chuckle. ”Why hello, Xosgostoin. Growing impatient, aren't we? Knocking on my front door like that. It's hardly polite of your kind. It is much more proper that you wait until you are summoned.”

    The Butcher twists and stretches, letting his form settle into that of the bloody four armed warrior with the skeletal face before looking at her with the ever-present grin. “No, no, no! I get the fleshy blood filled ones whenever I want! That's part of the agreement! You said so. Aha! YES! I have it in writing! Yeessss, yes yes yes I do.”

    Dianth levels her gaze as she follows her eyes along the rim of the pentagrammatic ring. “Really now. I don't remember signing anything. Or saying that. Ever. Do you even know how to write?”

    Xosgostoin falls silent for a moment before flailing his arms, “Fine! You caught me there. But I still demand my tithe and I will have it now!”

    Dianth takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. This was the curse of working with daemons, was it not. She had to meet their demands for their services or risk displeasing them and losing their favour. “What is your demands?”

    Xosgostoin cackles with glee and throws himself against the edge of the ring, before being thrown back by the energy. Still, he tries to press himself back against the edge to stand face-to-face with Dianth as he towers over her, “The big ones. The half-man, half-lions. Strong and proud. I demand a dozen of your warriors of them to fight to the death in my name and the victor to be given to me, so that I may bathe in their blood!”

    Dianth raises her brows. “You know the deal, Butcher. None of my followers are ever included in your tithe. How about this. I'll find you a couple of lionataur cubs to scuff each other up with their kitten paws and splash a bucket of lamb's blood on you?”

    If a skull with fire for eyes could cry, the Butcher would have managed it in that moment. “That is not fair. You must be reasonable if you are going to try to bargain with a Greater Daemon. Not a laughable offer such as that.”

    Dianth snorts, her wings ruffling in agitation, “I will be when you are, Butcher. Truly, though... If it pleases you, I will bring you six of the dredges of this keep. No more. The victor will be yours to do with as you please. For the purpose of this, and this alone, I release you into the mortal realm and upon its completion, you are to return to the daemonic realm.”


    Gregor growls from the back of his throat as he grips the succubus and tugs her closer to his body, pushing her against the bed. Others of the harem run their hands against his skin and preen for his attention. His mouth, demanding and hard claims another, he does not care which and is not sure, but he finds one none the less as he abandons the concerns of this world with the thrills before him. Drunken passion was all he cared about, escaping these shrieking, living halls of hell.

    The door opening does not interrupt the writhing party of flesh, or even slow their pace. Nor does the first interjection of a clearing throat. “Oooh, Dianth. Tell me, are you particularly attached to this mortal. I would happily take him as my tithe instead. He is a lively one.”

    That appears to get Gregor's attention, sending a chill down his spine and killing his mood in one fell blow. He swallows and draws back, grasping at the blanket and drawing it with him to cover his shame, going so far as to dump a succubus onto the floor as he tugs upon it. His eyes go to the Daemon Queen before quickly scanning for his discarded clothes. By the damned, where had he thrown them.

    He has his uses. I would keep him for a time yet. Assuming he would stop using my minions as playthings for himself. I suppose it is how he copes, though,” she sighs and adjusts the weapons upon her person. “Dress yourself, we are holding a tournament of sorts for our... honored guest.”

    Gregor's eyes flicker over the form of Xosgostoin in his plated armour as he paces towards his pants, “Ah, this guy again... I'd say pleasure to see you again, but, it's not. You ruined the good time I was having you bloody skeleton.”

    The light of the Butcher's eyes glow brighter as he preens, “You are quite the flatterer, do you really think so? I go through quite the beauty regime to keep it up. You have no idea how many mortals must die to complete this look. Just this morning, it took—”

    Dianth covers her face with her hand and tries to tune the duo out as her captain continues to dress himself. Lucinda would be here soon, she was never far from her side as she could tell. As well, she had sent out the mental commands for Odiara and Bertram both to join her at the great hall... Bertram, of course, after collecting six of the lionataur servants. While she found his droning incessant, she had to admit, he had a way with words and he could convince most any of the individuals within the walls of the bastion, and perhaps even outside it, to follow his guidance.

    Are you both quite done yet?” Dianth interjects into the middle of the back and forth conversation between Gregor and the Butcher. Gregor was just spitting venomously about how much he disliked the Greater Daemon and the Butcher was only growing increasingly pleased with the 'flirtation'.

    Gregor points at Xosgostoin, “He started it, Dianth.”

    Do let me at him. I'll only make him bleed a little. He doesn't need all the blood inside him, mortal. It's selfish of him to keep it all up inside him, really,” Xosgostoin chimes back.

    Dianth pinches the bridge of her nose. “I am surrounded by idiots,” she mutters in exasperation, turning and starting towards the great hall.


    Within the Great Hall, Odiara paces before a long table set before a throne, outstretched before an expanse of open hall with dining tables along either wall. It was apparent it might be a feasting hall at one point, but along either side hellfire leaped and flickered, daring anyone near the dining tables to come near. For the most part, only the daemonic of the bastion came to the hall to eat. The rest fell to the barracks with their meals. They felt more comfortable there. There personal affects at least gave the place some touch of humanity.

    What is the meaning of this. Why has Dianth lined up my kind like cattle for the slaughter?...” Odiara hisses, her serpentine eyes thin slits as she clenches her claws, scorpion tail tensing and striking at air.

    Bertram raises his head, the fur of his helmet cascading about his neck as he drums his fingers over his book of sermons, “Why indeed. It is not our place to question the Daemon Queen, Odiara. We offer up our flesh to her cause, though, as she sees fit. These are but mortal shells. We will raise anew for her cause, in the next plane. We will fight for her legion once more, twice strong. They are not so lost lambs as you believe, though. They have offered themselves freely to the Queen. I would not see those not of her flock privileged with such a task.”

    Odiara grimaces and turns away, looking at the lined of lionataur and counting them off. Six... seven.. eight... nine... However did the human preacher manage to convince nine of her people to give up their lives like this. How could she even stand so idly by and allow this to continue to allow it to happen. Her eyes rest upon Dianth as she strides in with Gregor, Lucinda and the Daemonic Butcher in tow. A shudder ripples through her body. She suddenly understood the purpose of why these people were here. Now she wondered the purpose of her presence. A message, perhaps. But what kind.

    Dianth takes her seat at the throne and Xosgostoin stands beside her, hopping from foot to foot restlessly as he eyes the blood sacks stretching and preparing themselves in the outstretched hall before him. “Do take a seat, my friends. The tournament will begin soon...”

    Lucinda fails to take a seat, instead taking out a long hollow reed and a series of long feathered needles and loads one, just to be on the safe side. Gregor is the first to his chair and kicks his feet up and takes out his flask. He tips his chair back and begins to immediately drain his liquor as he draws his cloak further down over his eyes and tries to drown out what was about to happen. Bertram follows his lead, but instead sits on the edge of his seat, eyes wide in anticipation to witness such a grand ritual. Odiara, no sit to bear her awkward body, sits her lionine half upon the floor and glares in waiting, trying to keep her unease under wraps.

    The combatants to be stand rigid and in waiting. One of them seemed almost to young to even be there, perhaps just out of her adolescent years. Another, far too old, perhaps half-way to the grave. They would hardly be worth a fight. The others were hard to place on a spectrum, men and women of various note. They were obvious not of the warrior caste, though, scrawny and lithe. But one could not know for sure what tricks they might have picked up otherwise. There eyes look up, fierce and waiting to Dianth, waiting to prove themselves. It would seem Bertram had made some hefty promises to bring them forth,

    Pair up as you wish. It matters not. The victor will reveal themselves regardless. The rules are hand-to-hand combat,” Dianth announces as she settles forward, resting her elbows on her knees and observing the group. There was one that was obviously larger than the rest... But could it really come down to brute strength? If she pushed the rounds, it could come to endurance... Or it might be a matter of agility. Skill even, perhaps.

    The first round did not last long at all. It was the old lionataur man versus a virile young male. His claws gouged deep and soon the first blood was drawn. It seemed more like a mercy killing than anything. The second drew out, two women of equal talents were scuffling over the floor and it barely ended as one bashed the others' head against a table repeatedly. It certainly pleased Xosgostoin as he loosed a peel of giggles and clapped his hands. The next was a surprise. The young female went up against the largest aggressor, and in an upset managed to outfox him and lure him straight into the hellfire at the edge of the hall. It led to Dianth's clapping, though the Butcher huffed at the lack of brutality. The last of the first rounds, though, ended on a sour note, as one of the contestants attempted to drew a blade. They prepared to throw it at Dianth, but Lucinda was too quick. A poison dart stuck into the would-be assassin's neck and they fell to the ground, mouth frothing as their body convulsed.

    No! NO NO NO! This is foul! I am denied my tithe!” Xosgostoin howls.

    Dianth looks down at the dead lionataur as the only lionataur not to have fought so far quivers at the front of the hall, “Not quite. There is one to replace them yet... Besides, you have still come ahead two more sacrifices than I have promised you. Or have you forgotten how to count, Butcher?”

    The Butcher falls silent as he eyes the unscathed lionataur before loosing a series of low grumbles and falls to the floor with a harrumph, crossing his legs. “I want more, though! You cannot fault a Daemon for such!”

    Dianth snorts and waves her hand, “Carry on with the substitute.”

    The tournament resumed easily enough, and it seemed the combatant was already greatly exhausted and had little left to give against the fresh opponent. They did not last long. And with that, the next round began. The first scuffle, the male to win against the elder was not expecting the ferocity of the bloodthirsty female and was soon to learn she meant business. There fight, though brief, was bloody and was near a draw as both were torn to shreds by shearing claws. The victor, though, was just barely the male opponent. Next, though, came the young female and a fierce male. He had observed how she had tricked the brute into the flames and was not keen to make the same mistake. Without room to run and no ability to overpower him, the young trickster was not long for this world.

    The last round began immediately after. The ragged male and the slaughterer of the young one were up against each other. The first was on his last leg before the fight even began. He could barely stand, leave alone fight and quickly was swept down and taken out with a blood-drenched paw. Dianth stands, looking over the hall with scattered bodies, slick with blood and claps her hands at the injured and blood-drenched combatant. “Quite well done... I dare say, you might almost make a fine warrior. Better than some of those in my services, even... Of course, now for your reward.”

    The lionataur servant lights up, standing proud over the body of his opponent as he straightens up and begins to turn, panting heavily as he tries to wipe away the blood from his face. It only serves to smear it worse, though. His eyes are so trained upon Dianth, he fails to register Xosgostoin as he raises from the floor and descends the stairs and closes in upon him. Nor the way his claws form into great scything limbs. Or how they draw back as he stands over him.

    Odiara turns her head away quickly as the hall echoes out with an ear-splitting scream of pain followed with a burble as lungs flood with blood. The death throes were quickly over though and replaced with the childish sound of glee and ripping, squishing and splashing immediately after, though. Her stomach knots and nausea consumes her though. Keeping her gaze averted, she attempts to run from the room, but Bertram reaches out and grasps her wrist, trying to hold her tight, “Is it not glorious? He does it for her. He sheds this husk. For her. He is truly a devoted soul and will have his true reward... We must all seek to follow his example.” He turns to focus his eyes upon Odiara, “You, of course, must honor him. Stay. Watch.”

    Gregor takes a long drink from his flask, having seen nothing of the tournament with his eyes closed but he was sure to have heard every moment of it. “You're a real nutcase, Bert. Odi, get the hell out of here. I wouldn't blame you. If it wasn't for the fact Di tracks me down every time I try to disappear on her, I'd be right there with you. She at least trusts you on your own for a little bit of time. Skit-skat, kitty cat. You don't need to see this. None of us do.”

    Odiara grimaces, still averting her gaze but shifts her hand to dig her claws into Bertram's arm to force him to release her. “Yeah, you're right. I'm out of here...” She shudders and straightens herself out. “I don't get it... Dianth never used to be like this before.”

    Gregor grunts, guzzling a bit more, “Sure she was. She was just better at hiding it before... Or we were just better at lying to ourselves. Something like that.” With that, something hot and torn to bits come flying from the direction of the giggling daemon and lands in Gregor's lap. He looks down and sees the twisted severed arm of a lionataur and lets out a shriek of terror, throwing it away from himself. Lucinda lets out a quiet chuckle at this display.

    Deciding it was definitely safer to get out of range of any flying bits of gore and to save herself any further trauma, Odiara leaves the great hall. The rest remain put until being dismissed. Dianth stays in place at her throne, silent and ensuring the Butcher was kept in check.
  15. Ukluk Kobold Village

    The Kobolds of the village had closed the gate to the crude wall of logs and sent some of their finest runners into the tunnels to carry word to their king as the plainsmen retaliated. A hundred of their mounted cavalry moved to raid into Kalahadrad's lands lead by a fire and brimstone Chieftain who claimed to be related to the one that the Small King had taken. The Kobolds of the village were not warriors and those warriors that were present were disinclined to fight a force ten times larger than they were and mounted on horses.

    And so the plainsmen began to burn the smaller farms around the village hoping, waiting, for a chance to exact the vengeance they wanted but drawing it out hoping to force the Goblin King into a confrontation with them.

    The kobold messengers meanwhile raced through tunnels underground racing for the home of their master.

    The Black Krag

    Kalahadrad watched the depravity still going in the pit when the messengers, the old Chieftain and his wife had been allowed to go as he swore, both were found just three days later at the bottom of a cliff they had hurled themselves off of. The daughters... and son still lived chained in the barracks for the use of whoever cared to use them. The four plainsfolk were a popular diversion, and free unlike the usual whores and prostitutes his soldiers frequented.

    The current batch of depravity involved a Goblin and his giant spider mount... the latter word of which took on a whole new dimension of meaning in this case. Kalahadrad found himself bored by the display and began to ignore it and took up the paperwork managing the funds of his holdings when a Kobold was escorted in by a pair of his guards lead by Thagash, one of his Kobold Captains. The look of upset on the Kobold and rage on Thagash's face told him something was the matter.

    "SILENCE!" Kalahadrad ordered as he stood to face Thagash. "What news?"

    "Ukluk is under attack. Plainsmen taking 'vengeance' for your last special entertainment." Thagash spat.

    Kalahadrad moved across the chamber and came face-to-face with Thagash. "Restrain yourself. The tall ones will not succeed or get away with it." He said putting one hand on the Kobold's shoulder and he nodded. "Get two hundred Kobold Warriors, a hundred raiders, four hundred goblin spearmen, fifty of the Harpy Hunters, and two hundred Clanrats.!" Kalahadrad roared. "WE MOVE IN TWO HOURS!"

    3 Days Later Ukluk Village

    The cavalry raiders had rounded up a number of the farmers and stuck them onto impaling spikes before the Ukluk village wall gates as they rounded the village in a cavalry circle. The Chieftain stormed the village suddenly his people hacking their way through the gates and charging into the village with his people as they began pillaging the homes as Kobold women and children who hadn't been smuggled away in the tunnels wept as the men struggled to defend them.

    "We will have our justice! Our blood price!" He roared at them as he hacked off another Kobold's head.

    "Chief, what is that..." His eldest son asked as he pointed at the sky.

    "A flock of birds idi...." He paused and looked closer, birds didn't have arms and legs and spears...

    "CHIEFTAIN! WE'RE SURROUNDED!" One of his swiftest runners declared coming up to him in terror.

    He trotted over to the walls on his steppe pony and looked out. The village was surrounded, over nine hundred of the Small King's forces.... how could they have gotten so close? Everywhere he looked he saw Goblin or Kobold faces and those of the despicable Skaven.



    It didn't take the Chieftan long to realise that he was completely surrounded, not just around them, but above the 'birds' had turned out to be a flock of harpies. "How did this happen!" He shouted before one Goblin rode forth riding a vast spider.

    "It happened because you were a spectacularly stupid individual." Kalahadrad remarked as he began twisting the veins of magic. Weaving a carpet of blanketing fear that spread as if by smoke and fog as he looked at the Chieftan.

    "You destroyed the village of my brother in law Chieftain Ergen! You defiled his family. You!!!" Suddenly he began to feel the fear burrowing deeply into his heart as the Goblin stared at him, his words faltering, feeling inadequate.

    "I carried out justice against those who trespassed over my claimed territory." Kalahadrad said as the spells effects began to overlay stronger than he expected, but well within his hopes. "As you have done. But unfortunately... for you... you actually committed murder on my lands. Kill them. Capture the Chieftain!"
    #15 Kadaeux, Oct 29, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2014
  16. Eren Felise
    The Town of Tsiehrednug, Elucidar

    The town of Tsiehrednug truly looked as one expected of a dwarven town. While it wasn't built into the side of mountain, it was in a very rocky location and achieved much the same visual effect. The buildings were sturdy and squat, much like the inhabitants inside. Eren looked it over for a minute more before kicking the flanks of her horse to set it to trotting. Behind her twenty of her dark knights did the same, the combined movement of their horses setting small pebbles to dancing. Looking back, Eren could see the rest of her forces in the distance. Eight hundred swords and two hundred bows, steadily marching forward.

    But Eren didn't need the rest of the army. Not yet, at least. Arriving at the outskirts of town, she called for a halt and let the crowd of dwarves grow before her in silence. Sullen glares and steadfast stances, the lot of the them. This is pointless, she thought, before speaking to the assembled townsfolk anyway. "I am Eren Felice, ruler of Vemise and it's surrounding lands," she declared. "Considering how close you are, I imagine you've heard of me. I imagine the tales you hear tell of mass burnings and sinful declarations.

    "Those tales are true, in their own way. If sin is to speak against the gods, then by all means let me be a sinner. If I burn those who defy me, then the fires speak for themselves." She let a bit of wind stir up for dramatic effect, enjoying such small theatrics. "But I do so for a reason. I come here now to teach you a lesson. A lesson I had to learn for myself, through blood and pain. It's a simple lesson, really. That no matter how hard you pray, no matter how fierce your devotion to your gods, I can burn this town come tomorrow. You can give up every aspect of your lives to those grand beings, but in the end they only bother with a few of their favourite toys.

    "Heroes, angels, mighty kings. They are blessed and watched over by the gods, while the rest are left to die in the dirt. And it makes me sick. It makes me livid. We let the world break us down, hoping someone or something else with fix it all for you. But it won't, and it never will.

    "So my lesson is this: forsake your gods, look to yourselves, and make your own fate. Because I intend to be a petulant child, and break the gods' toys. And tomorrow, when the rest of my army arrives, you're going to have a choice. You can heed my words and become a part of my domain, with all the obedience and loyalty that implies; or you can burn in your wretched churches alongside your wretched idols. And your houses will be searched, so I'd be careful of keeping any religious items with you."

    She did not bother waiting for any kind of response. Let them choose tomorrow, no earlier, and no later. Raising her hand, her and her knights wheeled about to meet back with the army and rest up in preparation for the day ahead.
  17. Fortress of Grellok, Haerrell Savannah, Laekuria

    Under the hot midday sun Lord Arlaw Grellok strolled casually along the outer battlements of his fortress overlooking the practice yards within and out across the Savannah Darus Meradin and Ponthos Hollodose were running their knights through formations and skirmishes with blunted lances. There were various onlookers beyond Arlaw including Veroes of the gnolls and Komeodis of the kobolds who flanked their lord. It had been some time now since new forces had of any decent size had come to these lands and longer still since they had engaged in any major combat. The reasoning Arlaw gave was he was consolidating and there was some truth to this. There was also truth that one who had once dreamed of becoming a powerful chieftain now ruled three cities and was still in the process of learning to read and write. The thousands of warriors were getting restless for one could only stand watches so long, sharpen their blade so many time, and drill formations all while their heart sang for blood. An army of hunters but lately prey had been scarce.

    Standing for a moment Arlaw looked out as the two formations of knights wheeled about one another smaller groupings occasionally breaking off for separate paths or to engage other smaller groups. Without looking away he spoke, "Can you believe it Veroes that we were once nomadic tribesman," while phrased as a question it was entirely rhetorical and Veroes and become used to his lord's musing outloud and so did not answer instead letting him continue, "I still see greater conquest in our future but I once dreamt merely of uniting the gnolls into a force which could strike out and raid at will. Now I have no idea what I am or what we are. The gnolls are but one mighty arm of a force numbering larger than I have previously seen. Look out there," he indicated to the knights as one group struck another blunted lances breaking on shields and armor, "I can recall the days when such men would have been a force mightier than we would have risked attacking and yet now more than a hundred of their number serve me. I envision my own greatness and others see my greatness as well, I now only ask how to reach it."

    It was Komeodis who responded before Veroes could, "With leverage, you have resources, assets, and strength of arms. This is more than can be said for many, you know your own weaknesses, that is good. Now you must focus your strengths," indicating the fighting warriors he stopped for a moment, "Warriors come from far to be at your side despite your name not yet spoken far and wide. You must become known, that is all it will take."

    Further discussion was cut off as a fierce cry resounded out from the practice yards below. Practice and duels had all ended there while standing at the center of a circle stood a gnoll chieftain surrounded by a handful of warriors. Eyeing them menacingly were humans and gnolls many with hands on or near weapons making the center group appear for all purposes to be enemies. Looking up at the battlements the chieftain had eyes locked solely on Arlaw, "Arlaw Grellok, your fear and weakness make you unworthy of your title and so I come to challenge you for it."

    In the back of his throat Arlaw growled as he looked down on the challenger, it seemed he had waited far too long in attempting to solve his own issues. "I will make this quick, Veroes, Komeodis, assemble the captains. Send out riders for Ikraam, Thook, and Heathrough. If it has come to this then it is time I move with all my might. I will showcase my strength today it seems."
    Standing in the chalk circle with noone to his back Arlaw hefted his axe as he looked across at the challenger, he was a younger gnoll, likely knewer to his position believing he had what it took with a mind full of youthful beliefs in invincibility. Mortality was something the younger generation seemed far less in touch with he noticed but is was something he would deal with, perhaps even here and now. They both wore little armor, a breastplate and leathers was the standard garb now for duels of this nature. His enemy carried only his axe while Arlaw still had his punching dagger at his side. As they began to circle eyeing each other Arlaw spoke to his enemy, "You understand the consequences of this, if you are not slain in battle and admit your foolishness you will still be banished, doomed to death. No matter what your brothers in blood will be scattered. Those who refuse to declare their blood to me will be slaughtered and those who swear their blood unto me will be scattered. No two will ever again serve under a chieftain, none may ever again share blood with a brother, no bond shall ever again be forged in battle, and none may ever again rise in rank. Know that you doom yourself and your brothers,"

    Growing increasingly agitated as Arlaw spoke to him the young gnoll closed the distance between them in a moment and swung at Arlaw with his own axe bringing it in a powerful swing at Arlaw's side. Stepping into it he blocked with his own axe's haft accepting the jarring strike into his arms and pivoting his axe's blade down towards his enemy's head. The young gnoll was skilled enough at least to avoid such an obvious strike but was now put on the defensive. Striking again and again now at his enemy Arlaw kept the young gnoll backpedaling away from his axe head. Looking for an opening the challenger parried down a blow aimed to split him from shoulder to hip and attempted to blade back around to catch Arlaw in his left side but once again Arlaw stepped in on the strike this time shoulder checking his opponent as he could not bring his axe to bear here. Catching his enemy just below his throat he lifted his enemy off his feet sending him to the ground.

    With his enemy down Arlaw attempted to move in to finish off his foe though his enemy had managed to maintain a grip on his axe and sent a poorly aimed one handed swing at his foe forcing Arlaw back a moment. That was all that was needed for the nimble fighter to regain his feeting though now with space between him and his foe again, "Before you die Arlaw, know my name for I am Kabwe Tikanda."

    "You will be buried in an unmarked grave," was Arlaw's simple answer as he came in again on his foe making as though to strike at his enemy's legs. As Kabwe went to parry though Arlaw revealed his feint and instead struck down on the haft of the axe jarring it in his foe's grip and lowering his stance to accept the shock. In the next instance Arlaw's knee struck Kabwe's extended chin squarely sending the young chieftain reeling backwards. Before he could gather his footing properly Arlaw was back on him with a swift strike intended to decapitate his foe. Still though Kabwe managed to barely move himself and his axe so that he took only a grazing blow. He did not expect the next strike though, while his axe was still up and out of position Arlaw jammed his punching dagger into his enemy's throat. Kabwe seemed as though to say something but instead only gurgled blood his hands going limp and the axe falling to the ground. Pulling the dagger from the defeated gnoll's throat sent Kabwe sprawling face first into the sand which even now hungrily drank his blood. With his foe apparently defeated Arlaw took up his axe and with a single swing took his enemy's head. Turning to a nearby human spectator he barked out an order to him, "Take the head, mount it somewhere visible. I cannot afford further incompetence among the chieftains."

    Having taken care of that he looked at those who had sworn their blood to Kabwe, "You followed your chieftain and the warrior you had sworn your blood to. You backed one who raised arms against your lord. You may yet be warriors and be of use to me. Is it death or disgrace you choose?"

    One by one the warriors who had stood with Kabwe drew their weapons and threw them to the ground. Then slowly got on both knees before their lord. A sign of their complete failure and weakness, no blooded warrior should ever rest upon both knees before anyone for that moment would become their moment of greatest shame.

    Looking over the disgraced warriors Arlaw sneared at them before barking out the horrifying laugh that struck terror into the very bones of those they faced. Once more it was fresh in the minds of all who was the lord of these lands and why, "You are to be scattered, you are the lowest warriors in my thousands. Your only hope now is to die in my service," With the blood of their chieftain he went one by one and marked them with it in some way, letting them share the blood of the one who had bound them once more and leaving a mark that they would know, see, and feel until their dying breath, "Get out of my sight and never return to it."

    Turning away from them he strode away towards the central keep of his fortress. Seemingly awaiting nearby though was Jean Bartholdt ready to speak once more of her visions, "My lord, I am to beg my leave."

    This halted Arlaw in his tracks as he had been prepared to pass the often strange woman, "Your leave? In what sense?"

    "I am to head north. My visions drive me onward. I shall take those who bound their blood to mine and head north. I see a great dark form, nearly as pure as yourself but without the fire within. I see many forms about her that she herself cannot see. A broken form but a pure mind. A set, a flaw, a gem, a weapon, passion, a tool. As my visions drove me to you and your service I am driven now to go north to this one."

    Looking at the self proclaimed oracle Arlaw's grip on his axe tightened a moment, "You intend to leave my service now-"

    Immediately jumping in Jean halted his train of thought, "NO! Never my lord, my master. I go forth not to shirk from your commands but to fulfill those unspoken. I wish to bring this form back to you so it too may serve in your glory. All the world will yet bow to you and this one shall be a step towards that I promise you for my visions have never yet been flawed only incomplete."

    Looking her up and down Arlaw thought again on her. As all his captains she had proven her loyalty and would not lie to him to save face either his or her own. Thus far her visions had only aided him and while her disappearance at such a crucial time would indeed be missed if she could bring back a being so powerful whatever visions she saw drove her towards them then it was likely worth it, growling a little at having to make such a call at last he conceded, "Go then, you are released until you find the one you seek that will aid me," with a wave of his hand she was dismissed. He knew by nightfall she would be gone heading north for it was not her way to dally in the tasks assigned her, either by him, her god, or herself.

    Heading within the dark keep he quickly passed down the austere walls to near the center where his grand chamber resided. As with the rest of the fortress it was large enough for even cyclops to easily move around in though none were yet present. Instead only Striga, Erskana, and Komeodis sat at the large table which dominated the room. Covered in a map of the territory known in detail to them Arlaw looked upon studying it even though it had long been engraved in his mind. "We are at last moving outwards again. I await the arrival of Ikraam the trader, Chief Thook, and Captain Heathrough so that we may gain what information we can but my plans are nearly sealed," At this Striga leaned forward, the most intrigued of the three present for her daughters hungered for new hunting grounds almost as much as she herself did. Komeodis maintained a neutral expression of attention taking in every detail as he always did. Erskana sat rigid and somber, her thoughts unreadable though fresh blood marked her body giving some idea to her recent actions, "First we must send a flyer to Tomsheim," Arlaw indicated the city on the map with his finger," the city is fearsomely powerful and we must take stock of them. If we can begin talking to the leader of the city then we can either ally or subjugate it in some way. At the very least our name will be better known if we treat with the city," at this Komeodis nodded along seeming to like this idea, "Next is Black Bart's Retreat," Arlaw slid his finger over the map to the other city, "A city of chaos and disorder, we will infiltrate with humans and kobolds, without unit and with our own forces ready to disrupt from within the city should fall easily enough the only problem is forcing proper control on them. Before then though we will wet the appetite of the warriors. They have not tasted blood in too long. We will begin preparations tonight to send a force of raiders south to Brackendown. The town will be pillaged and it's populace surrender or enslaved, if this draws forth a new enemy, all the better."​
  18. Morthral'Tor, Walls
    Looking left and right atop the walls of the frigged fortress, the heir to the throne of the Empire was stepping about the wall. Her blade was unsheathed, both hands tightly gripping the handle. Around her the wall was deserted to make room for training, the unforgiving mountainous wind assaulted her skin and caused her to shudder. Pressing her arms against her body to try and warm herself, her eyes follow the aged man in front of her. Just shy of his fifties, yet, he seemed completely unhindered by the cold winds howling past him. "Quintin, why did we have to train atop a wall?" She asks with agitation as she pants. They had been dueling for nearly half an hour, she had tried time and time again to take him down only to watch him flee here, or there. The older man smiled slyly. "Getting exhausted kiddo?"

    "You win again Quintin." Rolnye mutters under her breath, frost passing from her lips in a manner that made Quintin's smile grow a little. "The youth never learn to hold back." Blinking with confusion as she's brought to her feet, the heir couldn't help but rub her wrist gingerly. "Why should I? I'm stronger than you, I'm faster." Quintin taps her head. "You're not faster where it counts. You exhausted yourself in your zealous pursuit." Looking down into the courtyard that was slowly massing with troops of various races, she couldn't help but remain confused. Her eyes narrow. Something was going on. "Most battles don't last for thirty minutes. Zealotry seems to work for some of Father's men." Quintin sighs and grasps her shoulder, causing her to flinch momentarily and take a step back, glaring at him. He was trying to be friendly, she didn't like people touching her like that. Not most, anyway. "You're right. Most battles last for days, strategically moving forces left and right and skirmishing without committing. You only commit when you corner or exhaust the opponent." He sheathes his blade and follows her gaze back to the Courtyard. He was also suspicious, and showed it in how his shoulders grew instinctively tense. "As for the zealots... Their job is to listen and die as ordered. Your job is to ensure that as few of them die as possible in the process, as the heir to this... Planned empire."

    Rolnye seems to mull the thought over, watching as Quintin turned to go to the nearest set of stairs down into the courtyard. Her grip tightened on the handle of her blade as she stared at his back. Still... Her grip loosened as she took a deep breath. He has his uses, father would not approve. She hesitantly sheathes her blade and follows Quintin.

    Morthral'Tor, Courtyard

    As Quintin and Rolnye descend into the courtyard, they see Skooza making his way through the crowd of zealots that barely noticed him. Growling in annoyance, the heir looked down at the rat and looked around at the crowd. "Care to tell me what's going on, Skooza?" She says with a soft tone of voice as Quintin looks to Rolnye. She hid her true emotions well. Skooza nods excitedly as he looks back toward the crowd of soldiers. "Was coming to tell you! Yes! Caravan of shinies passing through, forgot to pay their dues, in lue of permission, we borrow with the BOOMS!" His snout twitches as he looks up at Quintin. "You were desired by Turios! You come now, yes?" Quintin nods, and the trio quickly make their way to the front of the crowd. While the zealots paid no mind to Skooza, they quickly made way for the heir, many bowing their heads in respect of the bloodline. Reaching the front of the unit, there stood the large, decrepit form of a once handsome man, whose armour shined as bright as the snow. He looks around at his men and nods appreciatively to Quintin, then smiles to his daughter, who bows her head in respect to her father.


    "Men! Start moving out of the castle, we will march towards the ambush site within the hour!" The raspy voice commanded telepathically. As the men begin to mobilize he quietly steps towards Quintin and Rolnye. His chest moved with breath, yet, he didn't particularly have a need to breath. "Quintin, you will remain here and in charge of the castle. Rolnye, you will accompany me." Quintin nods and salutes. "Yes sir." Rolnye beams happily and quickly descends down the steps towards the exit to the castle. This was her chance to prove herself, she would not mess up. Turios watches her leave, then turns back to Quintin as the aged commander asked a question. "How many are you taking?" Turios motions to the troops as they continue to leave the courtyard. "Four hundred Skaven Tunnelers, two hundred Skaven Clan-Rats, four hundred Human fanatics, two hundred Human archers, and two hundred Nightmare Black Horsemen. I'm also taking Skooza, Droshaka, Mist & Fog, and of course, my daughter." Quintin quirks an eyebrow. "Bit large for a raiding party, isn't it?" Turios nods. "We're hitting a tax caravan heading to the Wall. There are only a hundred fifty guardsmen. They must be well trained, so we must overwhelm them with power and numbers quickly to reduce casualties." The aged commander scratches his chin, but ultimately nods once more. "...You really can't think of any other action but to nod, can you." Turios says with a whimsical tone to his voice. Quintin chuckles. "Old habits die hard. The life of a militiaman is not particularly flexible if you take it seriously." Turios nods, and the both of them laugh as Turios waves his friend goodbye, leaving the fortress to join his men. Quintin watches him pass and stares after him, resting his hand on his blade. "Keep an eye on your daughter, old friend." He mutters out of earshot before leaving to attend his duties.
    Ambush Site: Ravine,
    a few hours later...

    Having arrived at the ambush site ahead of their targets by hours, Turios quickly set his plans into motion. There was a 30 foot wide ravine, winding its way along the path that the caravan would show up in. So without further adieu he looks to Fog, then to the ravine. "In combination with the tunnelers, I want you to carve out a path between 10-15 feet high on the northern half of the wall, about one hundred feet away from corner. Make it large enough to get two hundred of our clan rats inside, yourself, and your sibling." Skooza snorts as he pulls a small pack off his back and hands a busted, rickety looking explosive to Turios. "Flare! Loud noise! Whooooosh! Distract enemies, tell nightmares to charge!" Turios nods in approval. "Good." Turios grabs the rocket and Skooza jumps back, causing Turios to quirk an eyebrow curiously. "Ahh... Fragile! Not so ah... So good, yes? To just rip away from poor Skooza's claws?" Turios glances at the small explosive. "This wouldn't hurt me." Skooza chuckles nervously, even a little manically. "No, but it would ruin your good looks." He smirks mischievously, his snout twitches as Turios smirks back. "Right." Turning towards Droshaka Novol, he motions towards the nightmares. "You want a glorious battle? This will not likely sate your thirst for it. Is that alright?" The minotaur snorts and grinds one of his hoofs into the dirt below in anticipation. There was an eager look to his eyes. "Battle is an old friend, any battle is good to me." The minotaur looks back at the nightmares. "How will this be relevant to me however?" Turios points down into the valley, at the bend where Fog and the tunnelers had already started digging. "You will position yourself there, with the nightmares, and wait. The moment you hear this noisemaker, charge into the enemy. We're going to be raining arrows from both sides at them, from multiple angles, so your job is purely to clean up whatever it is that remains standing, understood?" Droshaka spits in the dirt at Turios feet. "You're right. Not much of a fight... But I'll take it."

    Rolnye watches the others preparing, her eyes moving to her father as she noticed an omission of orders for her. Approaching quietly behind him, she raises her hand and draws in breath only to watch her father turn and look at her with a grave look. "You will stay by my side." Rolnye bites her lip, disappointed, but not intending to argue with her father. "... I will." As the two continue to look at each other, the tension in the air quickly dies, and Turios draws his daughter into gentle embrace. His skin was cold to the touch. "I know you're eager to prove yourself, but one step at a time my daughter. First learn my tactics. When the time is right, you will lead by my order, and others will follow. Trust me." Rolnye nuzzles into her father's chest and rests her hands against his shoulders. "I know that... I am your daughter, you are my father. You know what is best." The two hold each other for a moment longer before Turios lets go, allowing her to step away from him. "Ready yourself. They'll be here soon... And, while you're at it, position the zealots in a defensive line around the archers, then take the archers to the edges of the ravine, but keep them hidden just a few feet away from the edge. When the time is right they'll burst out of cover and fire a volley down."
    Ambush Site: Ravine,
    It Begins...

    (Collaborative: Brovo & Kadaeux.)​

    As the caravan approached, Skooza peered over the edge cautiously. He wasn't spotted, and squirmed with delight at the edge of the ravine as the guards and the wagons started to pass underneath him, and the hidden group of his Skaven brethren in the walls. His pure, unbridled excitement ellicited a roll of the eyes from Rolnye as he looks back at Turios and nods rapidly. Turios smiles, and this makes Skooza screech in joy as he lights the jerryrigged signal flare/noisemaker. It descends down into the ravine, deflecting off of the opposite wall as it sent sparks flying behind it. Turios uses his telepathic command and looks down at the ground, where his men were hidden. "Now." Fog uses her magic to push the rocks out, giving the Skaven clear line of fire. The rocks were intentionally made lighter, to both prevent damage to the wagons and to put less weight on her to succeed. Human archers descend to each side of the ravine and look to fire down into the caravan, all the while less than a hundred feet away at the corner of the ravine, Droshaka howls with rage and charges forth with the nightmare riders, inspiring them with his natural leadership to use their shadow teleportation as part of their charge into the enemy. Having 30 feet wide to work with, there would be plenty of shadows, and plenty of room.
    The Ambush itself went off without a hitch the rocks raining down on the column protecting the tax coaches and the archers dropping no less than twenty of the enemy in the first volley. But then a booming voice rang out.
    "TURTLE FORMATION. Protect the coaches!" It appeared to be an Ogre in mixed plate and mail wielding a shield as large as a coaches roof as the troops began bunching around the wagons creating a shield wall as those in the centre raised shields over their heads. "We cannot falter!" The Ogre said bashing in one of the Myrdraal's half-faces with his shield dropping it like a sack of potatoes.

    "Fog, use your Earth magic to destabilize the ground beneath them." The Nightmare complies with a giggle as she looks down at the ground and attempts to use her magic to screw up their footing. The Skaven take aim as Droshaka continues to charge forward. "Attack on all sides save the one the Skaven are firing from!" He yells viciously. Meanwhile, up above, Turios takes a great bow and narrows his eyes at the ogre, taking aim to hit him specifically. Pulling back the bow string with his greater strength, he hoped to pierce the Ogre's armour easily, while Droshaka kept his attention front and center. He was, at this point, gambling on the aura of fear to wane on the human soldiers after their leader was felled.

    Fog's enthusiasm was too much and she overcast the spell, the whole ravine quaking and throwing off Turios's aim as the rest of the assault went more smoothly, the Skaven foot-troops joined the Fanatics and Nightmares in the assault, despite their quick reaction the Ogres quick orders weren't enough soon enough and a full half of the guards were slain in battle joined by almost forty of the fanatics being slain in the close melee. But the guards were shaking as the Nightmares pressed deeper into their ranks.

    Rolnye watches, eyes wide, as the entire ravine shook. Blood was spilled in the depths below of her own shoulders yet she did not flinch as she grabbed a bow from one of the archers and decided to mimic her father's intuition, aiming for the ogre. This time, both Turios and Rolnye fired at the Ogre as Droshaka down below charges and berserks, seeing the guards slowly fall. "BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!" The minotaur yelled and whooped as a fanatic fell dead beside him. Fog however wasn't content with her failure, and seeing as how she had no other orders, attempted the same Earth magic attack again. As some of the Skaven attack again, Skooza screeched and whooped with glee. "GO BROTHERS! NIP THEIR HEELS!" It was completely futile for them to hear him, but he screamed nonetheless.

    Despite Fog screwing the pooch again with her magic everyone else seemed on the mark though the Ogre stood with two arrows in his chest and looking pissed off the rest of the guards began to simply get slaughtered out of hand and attempt to escape the ravine running for their lives. Turios could hear screaming from the centre coach that was decidedly un-taxmanlike.

    Having routed nearly the entire force, Turios quickly issues telepathic commands, telling a handful of his nightmares to secure any surviving prisoners inside the coaches whilst directing the remaining nightmares, fanatics, and skaven, to all attack the ogre at once. Droshaka, seeing the enemy force retreat, grins and attempts to grapple the ogre, or do anything that could keep the ogre pinned and unable to counter attack. Rolnye pulls her bowstring back only to be stopped by Turios. "Ineffective. More likely to hit our own men." Rolnye pouts, but complies.

    As the troops begin to round up the survivors the Ogre spits in contempt and takes his greatsword and snaps it in half over his knee and casts the broken pieces at his feet, a sign of surrender even though the rage in his eyes was still smoldering. As the troops begin securing the coaches one of them drags a young girl, no more than seven years of age from the coach by her hair as she screamed non-stop.

    Droshaka stops just short of impaling the ogre as he slowly lowers his weapon and snorts. "Coward." He looks up at the fanatics and motions to the ogre. "Shackle him." From above, Turios and Rolnye quickly move into the ravine, taking a small foot path down. When they both get down, Turios moves to the ogre, and Rolnye moves towards the girl. Turios examines the ogre, and quirks an eyebrow. "Strange. Normally your kind aren't tolerated by humans." The girl's screaming could still be heard before a loud slap of a metallic hand hitting a cheek echoed through the ravine. Rolnye glares down icily at the girl. "Shut it."

    The Ogre sneered at Droshaka. "Coward? Mercenary. And smart enough to realise when it's suicide to keep fighting." He spits before turning to Turios. "They tolerate us just fine when they want somebody to guard their precious daughter."
    A daughter whose volume doubles after Rolnye slaps her.

    Droshaka shakes his head and walks away, having no further interest in the situation at hand, whilst Turios glances at Rolnye. Rolnye looks back at him and blinks, then suddenly smiles warmly and kneels down in front of the little girl, holding her softly. "Hush, shh, it's okay... We're not going to kill you... I'm sorry, please, calm down..." She glances up at the nightmares, who back away from the little girl. Their aura was probably overwhelming her. Turios kneels in front of the mercenary. "Daughter of who, ogre?"

    "What's in it for me?" The Ogre says bluntly his mercenary nature shining through as the girl begins to quiet a little. Still terrified but calming down.

    "Maybe a job, maybe your life." Turios muses idly as he sits across from the ogre, instead of standing above him. "I can at least have your cuffs taken off." Meanwhile, Rolnye takes off her gloves and slowly runs one of her hands through the girl's hair. "What's your name?" She asks curiously, her soft tone coming through, trying to soothe the girl.

    The Ogre shrugs. "Well I seriously doubt i'm going to be looking at a repeat contract from my previous employer." He looks pointedly around the clearing. "She's Tanaya Van Savaven, only child of Lord Governor of the Veritas City, 'blessed be his light' and all that political nonsense. I was sent to bring her, along with the country taxes, to the city from her mother in the country." The Ogre said with a shrug. "The cuffs off would be handy, I want to light a pipe."

    "Tanaya." The girl said cowering away from Rolnye the memory of the slap far too poignant for trust.

    "Works for me." Turios shrugs nonchalantly, motioning for a couple of fanatics to take off his cuffs. "I'm sure one of my men has a pipe if you don't have one of your own." Turios comments in a friendly manner. A strange appearance for a lich, certainly. "So, have you ever heard of me by any chance?" Turios asked as he leaned back with a bemused look in his eyes.

    Rolnye gently caresses the girl's cheek and frowns. "Tanaya huh? That's a pretty name... I'm sorry about all of this, really, I am."

    The Ogre took out a pipe from a pack he wore against his back, it didn't take Turios much to recognise it was carved from a human thigh bone. Packing it with tabacc the Ogre lit it by taking a hot coal from one of the coaches where it had been warming the feet of the taxpayers. Soon he was sending forth billowing clouds of tabacc smoke. "Runners up for wightwatchers?" The Ogre cracked taking in Turios's appearance. "Nope, can't say I have." He shrugged honestly.

    Tanaya meanwhile flinches back from the contact. "I don't believe you. You killed all those men."

    "Hah, good! Then I've done my job and kept low key." Turios steeples his fingers. "But that will end, soon, and I've need of people like you..." Droshaka likely wouldn't be impressed, but he could be eased with a few good pit fights.

    Rolnye shakes her head and smiles. "I didn't kill anyone." It was the truth. She wanted to kill of course, but didn't actually get the chance. "Besides. Those men killed some of our men. We came for... Justice... I didn't know there would be such a pretty little girl like you here. If I had known, I would have made sure to keep you safe first, but as you can see..." She motions around at all the soldiers nearby. "Nobody here is going to kill you, no, we're going to make sure you get home, safe and sound. War is no place for kids after all, right?"

    The Ogre cocked an eyebrow, "You need people who get successfully ambushed?" The Ogre chuckled, "I'm listening, my name is Kaultok the Round." He looked at Turios. "I'd offer to shake your hand, but you're all bone."

    The girl shook her head. "No, you're evil. I can tell." She shrank back from Rolnye.

    "But no less strong." He offers a hand shake to the ogre to prove his point, the unnatural strength given to him by the powerful necromancer from ages past was something most underestimated until they saw it. "You were ambushed because you were sent into a ravine with a hundred fifty men carrying a large sum of wealth. Your employer was a fool, you were smart enough to know not to die for a worthless cause."

    Rolnye scratches the back of her head and chuckles nervously. "Well that's not a very nice thing to say... Do you want to go home?"

    Kaultok shook the Lich's hand. "I'll be sure to give you my bill." He grinned as he continued to smoke the pipe before piling up a couple of the dead guards to sit on.

    Tanaya meanwhile looked at Rolnye. "Sure I want to go home. So daddy can hang you from the city gates." She said still terrified by recovering some of the fire her father praised her for.

    Turios crosses his arms and leans back, motioning for the fanatics to start collecting the rest of the corpses. "Good, because you're about to find yourself with the utilities of an entire fortress and city." He motions to the nightmares to start moving the wagons home. "Anything else you can tell me about this little girl?"

    Rolnye blinks and stretches, pointing at one of the nightmares as they walk past. "I could leave you with him if you would prefer."

    Kaultok nodded. "She is something called a 'vegan' she will not eat the product of animals or some nonsense like that. The taxman named Yttihs Nam served as her 'cook' for the trip. It's utterly foul in my opinion, a good haunch of meat puts hair on your chest, and whats a woman without decent chest hair to hold onto." He clapped Turios on the shoulder winking at the Lich.

    Tanaya had managed to find her courage and looked ar Rolnye. "It'd probably smell better."

    "Hm. I wouldn't really know, seeing as how I'm kind of dead." Turios says with an amused tone of voice as he hears another loud slap come from Rolnye's direction. Glancing over he blinks. "Vegan." He mutters as Rolnye glares at the child.

    Kaultok grinned. "So you've got a permanent boner eh." He chuckles aloud.

    Tanaya meanwhile begins to singsong. "Bandit-girl and a cow-pat sitting in a tree. K. I. S. S. I. N. G."

    "AHHHGG~" Rolnye pulls her hair and gets up, stomping away from the child. "FATHER!" She screams at Turios. "How do you deal with a child?!" Turios rolls his eyes. "Oh I would have no idea." Rolnye blinks in confusion. "What?" Turios bursts out laughing. "Just bring her here." Grumbling, Rolnye complies, and drags the girl over by her hair.

    Kaultok had been watching and was rumbling with laughter now. "Is this a typical day at work for you?" He asked Turios, "If it is I could really learn to love my job."

    Tanaya suddenly pulls a sharp blade from a sheath cleverly concealed as a chopstick holding her hair in place and moved to stab Rolnye in the back of the leg with it, but the girls movement hadn't been subtle enough and Rolnye manages to easily avoid the sudden attack.

    As Rolnye evades the attack she also turns and suddenly, violently, moves to slam her knee into the girl's rib cage, to knock the wind out of her and send her sprawling to the ground before pinning her and the weapon to the ground. Turios quickly rises to his feet, getting ready to support in this endeavour of his heir were to somehow fail.

    The girl goes down like a sack of bricks, unconscious and having difficulty breathing wounded but not dead. Kaultok looked at Rolnye disapprovingly. "Let me guess, stealing sweet rolls from infants is on her list of hobbies too. Shall we go?"

    Rolnye grins viciously as she grabs the girl by the collar and prepares to hit her one more time, only to get stopped by Turios as he grabs her wrist. "Yes. We're going. With the girl, alive." He opens the gateway, and the disapproving look from Turios is enough to disarm the sickened rage in Rolnye as she looks down at the ground. "Of course, father." Without further words, the five of them enter the portal, back to base, leaving Skooza, Mist & Fog, and Droshaka to guide the wagons home.

    Operation Success
  19. The Falthos Highlands
    In the forest, near Corolia
    (Collaborative post with Sarzu, his writing in this color)
    They had been off the beaten path for a while now, to hide their trail or simply because this was the only path to whatever place they called home was anyone's guess but they did seem to be in a hurry to put some distance between them and whatever their point of origin was. When all of a sudden they beheld a figure who would not seem threatening, at least at first glance with just a robe of some kind and a wooden staff in his hand, the sight of the 100 or so knights in full armour did alarm and barks rang out as the Gnolls readied their weapons. Suddenly a number of wargs perked their heads up sniffing the air and growled, their eyes scanning the surrounding forest and one of the Gnolls riding such a beast let out another warning that there were more surrounding them.

    This send the Gnolls into a hint of panic but then a loud, crude barking voice was heard as the tallest Gnoll among the lot riding a midnight black warg strode forwards, he seemed quite calm at ease despite being outnumbered. Staring at robed horse rider preventing them from going forward. "Human. Out of way." It managed to snarl in broken common, "Business none of yours." He finished saying his hand on the hilt of a rather large and wicked looking double-bladed axe.

    Ceregor sighed. "Very well. Have it your way." He dismissed the water magic just on the brink of formation and instead gathered the flaming aura around his staff into a single point at its tip. He could not pretend to be surprised that matters were turning out like this. The tip of his staff dipped forward, pointing at the speaker.

    This was the signal those in the trees had been told to look out for. Ceregor could not stand monstrous creatures acting as if they were anything less than scum, as if they were above the justice that their very horrid existences demanded. As the warriors waiting in the trees and the knights behind him took the attack signal and started their charge, Ceregor let loose a head-sized ball of fire at the insolent little beast who had spoken, hoping to make it the first spawn of evil to die this day.

    The Gnoll chieftain widened his eyes and spurred on by adrenaline manages to jump off the back of his warg, letting out a yelp as the flames singe his fur pulling his axe out he lets out a shout of rage and then issues a series of quick barks. The gnolls riding the wagons quickly duck inside the wagons and then come out accompanied by the sound of screaming, coming forth out of the mouths of human children as they are roughly dragged into view with Gnoll blades on their throats. "Stop! Or die they will!" The Gnoll chieftain snarls viciously, even though there was a hint of fear, perhaps panic at the sight of the charging horsemen with the way his eyes were darting.

    Ceregor rolled his eyes at the pitiful creature's demand, then yelled so he could be heard over the sound of charging horses. "Kill the monsters, save any children if you can!" There was in truth little need for the verbal command. These warriors had ridden with him long enough to know that he would show no mercy to creatures who spurned his opening invitation to civility. Sometimes good people died in the pursuit of vanquishing evil, so there was no use worrying about it now. The horse archers fired a volley into the group of gnolls and the Eledhel cavalry and human knights bore down on them mere moments later.

    With a roar the chieftain jumped back on his black warg and let loose a warcry, twenty or so wargs mounted by Gnolls or on their own flocked to him as he charged Ceregor and his knights, meanwhile at the caravan a number of Gnolls carrying shields and swords or polearms tried to put up a wall against the onrushing cavalry and the Gnolls holding the kids started to move their blades to slit throats, the first five however suddenly had arrows protruding from their skulls as the horse archers let loose. The Gnoll shield wall was not enough as Eledhel riders swooped in and sliced with their swords and spears into the Gnolls, Aeneth rushing ahead of everyone else and jumped off her horse on the leading wagon quickly beheading two gnolls with ease as she landed and proceeded to kill three more, saving the children who cried and shouted as they ducked and covered themselves.

    Kara and Rawel were too late to reach the second wagon, the children had been spared initially when their captors were shot but another Gnoll had clambered on and had viciously cut apart four of the children before a onrushing Eledhel rider threw his spear at his back.

    Meanwhile the rushing Gnoll Chieftain and his wargs clashed with the human knights, eleven of the knights pulled off their horses to be cut or mauled apart, five of them however seemed to be saved by their armour only earning minor injuries. The Gnolls and wargs were fighting savagely, almost desperate which would be likely the case since they knew they were heavily outnumbered five more knights fell, three cut open by the axe of the chieftain and two grabbed by their legs with frenzied bites of the black warg and tossed into the air as if they were mere puppets as they landed heavily on the ground were they were either trampled or stabbed.

    Ceregor was watching the battle unfold and would see that the Gnolls were readily being overwhelmed, the only oddity was that the Chieftain, seemed to distance himself form the fighting, the other wargs, mounted and otherwise seemed to engage large groups of knights in a frenzy while the Chieftain was trying to reach the edge of the fighting, only killing and engaging those knights that passed too close, perhaps he was trying to escape.

    Seeing the leading gnoll trying to get away, Ceregor was spurred into action. He could not let child murdering scum get away, after all. Discarding his heavy robe and adjusting his plain clothing underneath, Ceregor unfolded his wings that had been hidden by the layers of cloth and pushed himself off of his horse with the combined effort of his legs and wings. He flew over the battle toward the fleeing chieftain and lobbed another fireball at the monster.

    Rather than demoralizing the attackers, the sight of children and comrades falling enraged them. They had seen too many friends and innocents die in the pursuit of justice to be broken by it, so they pressed the attack with renewed anger. Kara signaled her horse archers to focus their attacks on any gnolls trying to get away, and she focused on that as well. The knights kept pushing forward, attacking any gnoll and warg within reach. Aeneth leapt into the fray rather than guarding the children, too caught up in the heat of battle to bother with protecting innocents while enemies still stood. Rawel saw this happening and ordered her Eledhel cavalry in to protect the children and secure the other wagons while she went to help Kara and her archers deal with those on the fringes of the battle.

    The fireball whizzed past the Gnoll Chieftain inflicting no harm upon the foe looking back he seemed about to curse as he suddenly widened his eyes seeing the human had wings!? Instead he let out a shout and spurred on his warg to greater speeds trying to outpace the winged guardian.

    The larger fight seemed to be evenly matched for the most part both sides clashing but not killing their opponents outright, scoring minor injuries and bruises but no cries of fallen knights or pained outcries of Gnolls or Wargs filled the air. Rawels horse however was impaled on a large spear thrown by a hulking Gnoll brute, causing her to fall and her horse fall on her leg, she thanked the gods that she heard no bones crack but then widened her eyes as the Gnoll brute apepared into view raising his axe and then froze, looking dumbfounded at the sword tip protruding from his chest as he sagged to the ground and the Eledhel horseman drew back his sword. The Eledhel were seeming everywhere as they secured the wagons with the children. Many Gnoll fell to their blades and spears until all the wagons were secure and seemingly only the Gnolls and Wargs battling the human knights were left.

    The soldiers saw the end of the battle in sight and pushed to finish it. The knights pressed on gamely, trying to turn the tide of their battle against the gnolls while Aeneth came at them from behind as a one woman unit. Kara and her horse archers held back and fired arrows at any gnolls and wargs that presented themselves for a clear target that had a low risk of hitting the knights. The Eledhel remained in defensive positions around the wagons rather than charging into the fight; a few of them dismounted to defend and help Rawel, who was busy with trying to get the damned horse off her leg.

    Ceregor found himself rather annoyed at missing his second missed attack. He was determined to destroy this evil creature though, so he swooped down into the trees to follow it. The trees themselves provided irksome obstacles that he had to dodge around, but he did as best he could with it and readied a third fireball to fling at the damned beast as soon as he got a clear shot.

    Arrows flew past hitting Gnolls and Wargs alike as the horse archers pressed on, the Eledhel cavalry forming a wall for the gnolls to break against giving them no quarter from that direction. Aeneth was a swirling whirlwind of swords and the last gnolls and wargs tried to escape, fleeing in panic. On such warg fled back alongside the caravan a number of Eledhel who were trying to help Rawel scattering as it charged madly at them before it received a trio of arrows in its head and it let out a shrieking death rattle and crashed, right on top of the horse already on top of Rawel. The Captain uttering something that sounded vaguely like: 'you got to be fucking kidding me!'

    Even so no warg or gnoll escaped, all were either run down by the knights or shot by the horse archers, with no more threats in sight Aeneth managed to calm down, also thanks to Kara calling out to her that she was about to charge into the forest on her own.

    As Ceregor hurled his fireball he narrowly missed a large tree, the tip of one of his wings brushing against it as he swerved around in the air to keep the gnoll chieftain in his sight, who unknowingly used this advantage to put more distance between himself and the winged champion, the fireballs aim was also slightly off but it still hit a target as the black warg cried out in pain as it hit its rear burning away a patch of hair and leaving third degree burns but the beast was still capable of running.

    With all the gnolls and wargs in sight being the dead and dying ones, the varied soldiers cheered a bit before getting on with things. Half of the remaining knights remained mounted and vigilant while the others dismounted to see to their fallen comrades. The Eledhel gathered around their pinned leader and set to work getting her out from under the horse and dead gnoll. Kara called her archers to do the grisly work of slaying any wounded enemies left alive, and told them to check the bodies and the wagons to find anything valuable or anything that might say where they'd come from or where they'd been headed. Kara herself worked to wrangle all the surviving children, of which there were nine, into the least damaged and dirtied of the wagons, and Aeneth accompanied her in highly amused silence because she had nothing better to do with no standing enemies left in the near vicinity.

    Meanwhile, Ceregor was exceedingly irritated at his continued failure. Clearly the fireballs were not working out for him at the moment, so he tried another approach that was less cautious of setting the woods on fire. While still trying to concentrate on not smashing into trees, Ceregor summoned a wall of fire just a couple feet in front of the fleeing gnoll, intending for the creature and its mount to run right into it and thus see to their own demise.

    Ceregor was concentrating on cutting off the path for the Gnoll chieftain that he did not see where he was flying... and collided with a tree he therefore had not been watching out for, darkness obscured his vision as he fell down at the base of the tree.

    When he opened his eyes once more Ceregor did not know how long he had passed out, it could have been mere moments, it could have been longer than that. Regardless, there was no sign of the chieftain or his gnoll, the one benefit of him smashing into the tree was that his concentration had been broken and the forest had not been set ablaze. He could not find a clear trail that might have been the wargs and turned back the way he came, it seems the chieftain had escaped his just punishment, at least for now.

    On his way back Ceregor came across a number of his people, it seemed he had been out longer than a mere moment because they were clearly searching for him and as they laid eyes upon him they shouted out in relief and joy quickly rejoining their beloved master with the others. During his absence the children had revealed what had happened, they were from a Moorstear village just north from Ceregors domain and the Gnolls attacked just as a tax caravan was passing through. The Gnolls struck at night, slaying the guards on sentry duty and slaughtered the villagers and taxmen alike, only a few children were spared, they did not know why they had been spared and captured exactly but one of the children mentioned a Gnoll hinting he had been looking forward to having them in shackles to serve.

    Kara, glad to be free from a dead horse and warg, reported they had indeed found some chests bearing the seal of the Moorstear taxmen, its contents were roughly from what she could tell about 30'000 gold in taxes.

    Ceregor was in quite a foul mood after his embarrassing failure, but all he told his subordinates was that he'd chased the gnoll and had lost it in the dense forest. There was no need for them to know that he'd slammed into a tree, though some of the brighter ones probably guessed it. Aeneth certainly had, given the way she grinned at him when she handed him his previously discarded robe.

    The news of the gold and rescued children did a bit to improve Ceregor's mood. Knowing that gnolls had grown so bold as to attack a guarded settlement, and right by the border of his own territory, was troubling but not exactly unexpected. The nation of Moorstear was not as assiduous in rooting out and destroying evil as Ceregor himself was, so monsters like gnolls would of course find places to thrive. He was tempted to take the gold for his own as payment for destroying the band of gnolls, minus their leader.

    That was only a passing thought, however. Ceregor ordered the wagons loaded up with the gold and children in one, and the dead knights in another, and to get the horses of the departed soldiers harnessed up to pull the wagons along. He kept fifty of the knights with him and sent the rest back to Oronthil's Heart with the wagon of the dead in order to report what had happened and to bury their comrades.

    The rest, still just over two hundred strong, headed for the nearest Moorstear settlement. Ceregor would leave the children with them, as he had no interest in doing the busywork of trying to find any of their living relatives or, if that wasn't possible, finding families willing to take them in. He would also hand over the gold, because it was the right thing to do. However, Ceregor's mind was not on this as they set out; he was thinking of that damned gnoll that had gotten away. He very much wanted to find and dispose of the creature to finish the job, and hopefully he would get that chance in the future.
  20. Marik and Root, The Hunt for the White Whale

    Having gathered the troops with Root, Marik made the trek towards the whaler’s village with relative ease and comfort. The relatively small size of his force would prove advantageous, in that regard and he was blessed by the lands of Bjoric not opposing his movements or oppressing his intent to hunt the white whale. He briefly thought about the plan ahead, and how conquering this beast might be the first step in his grand machinations to unite the lands beyond the wall.

    Arriving at the village of whalers, he was immediately caught by the smell of the village and the general prevailing sense of cold. Being so close to the ocean made it even more chilly than normal, and he was eager to get under way. He turned to the whaler who had initially came to him, and who had travelled the entire way with his platoon. “Can you prepare me a ship? I am going to go talk with the leader of this village. I will meet with you as soon as I can. Let’s hunt a whale!”

    The Whaler moves off into the village snapping a few words at a young boy that bolts for the Elder's home bearing word of Marik's arrival. The people of the village look both fearfully and in awe, at least the women and children do, the men of the village seem to be too caught up in the important tasks of their daily duties to spare a moment’s glance for the arrivals.

    After some minutes an older man hair shot through with grey but not likely more than about forty-five emerges and comes to greet the party a harpoon as large as a man in his left hand as the right ran a well-oiled whetstone over the point. "Lord Marik. It's an honour." He said putting the whetstone away and offering his hand to shake. The people of the village were not the sort to bow it seemed: A village of hard men making a hard living only to come home and give it hard to their wives too, unless Marik missed his guess.

    Marik offers a hand to the whaler, a small smile on his face. “Just Marik will be fine. I’m here because your man informs me of a great white whale. He says that you think my help can secure the beast for your village. I would take you up on the offer, on one condition. You and your people keep the whale’s meat, its fat and its bone. You get everything except the hide. I will claim the hide as a trophy, and your people will feast well for a long time. Is this agreed?” It was hardly worth making the request, as he knew that the village must have been desperate to ask for his help in the first place. These hardened men would normally hide their hardships away, he was sure. Their pride would demand it. To come to him was a show of either desperation or respect. He didn’t know, but he wanted to act as equal with the village elder as he could. These were apparently his people, after all. He strived to be good to them, because they had been good to him so far.

    The Elder looked at Marik for some time judging him, it was evident his opinion was lessened slightly as he figured that help was being offered simply for the trophy and he thought his lord above such petty motives. "Agreed Lord Marik." He nodded. "The beast is no natural thing, larger than a dozen whaling boats, we have already lost two boats and fifteen of our fittest men to the beasts, we need it not simply for the food, bone and blubber, but to remove the danger from our waters."

    Marik pauses after hearing the danger of the whale from the elder. To think such a beast was roaming so close to Bjoric did not surprise him, but to think that his people were unable to deal with it was worrying. “I did not realise the beast was such a danger. I’m sorry that I was unable to come sooner. We will be sure to honour the men you have lost to this creature.” He ponders briefly, looking over at Root, who had drawn more than a few gazes from the menfolk of the village. He was starting to wonder if it was truly wise to bring the beautiful Dryad with him, but when he recalled her skill with the bow, he instantly remembered why she was vital. “You say the whale is no natural thing. Do you have any idea how it came about, or where it came from?”

    The Elder simple looks at Marik in a manner that all too clearly said 'I'm a whaler' but he sighed. "It cannot be a natural thing, it is too large. That is all I know Lord Marik." the continued use of the Lord Honorific forced Marik to realise that here was a man that while hard-bitten definitely believed people had their place and should recognise others.

    Marik nodded, realising that he was not going to change the mind of the whaler about the use of the undeserved title. “Well, let us move on to the business at hand. We have a whale to hunt, after all. You are the whaler, not I. How would you suggest we go about this? I have brought thirty of my strongest Axe man to help bolster any whalers you can offer. I have also brought twenty dryad archers, as well as my Captain: Root…” The Dryad suddenly perks up at the sound of her name being mentioned. She walks over to stand beside Marik, showing off the exceptional height of the Dryad, who managed to dwarf both humans with ease. “What would your move be?”

    The Elder whistled and a number of young men ran up to him. "Prepare the Pequod, Swansong and Ettiene for immediate sailing." Three of the young men ran off bashing on doors on the way and calling out names. "Your axes won't be much help except with the ropes I’m afraid, and your bows will be next to useless but, Ishmael, get the Harpoonbows."

    It took half an hour and the village was in a flurry of activity, the Dryads found themselves split up into five teams of four, each team expected to handle what amounted to a ballista with a heavy Harpoon and thick cable.

    "Lord Marik, if you'll help me with the Pequod's Harpoonbow i'd be honoured." The Elder said clearly dictating that he was coming along. "Three teams of yer Dryads will be on the Pequod, one team each on the Etienne and Swansong”

    Marik listened to the plan laid out by the Elder, and he nodded. The plan seemed solid enough, and the truth was, he had no better plan. The whalers were more adept at this than he was, and he could do no more than adhere to his advice. “Okay, we will follow through with your plan, Elder. Root, I want you to lead the archers on the Swansong. Elder, nominate whoever you decide to lead the Etienne. My men will follow the order to the letter.”

    He began to order his men about, dividing them into small groups and trying to get the organised with the Whaler folk of the village. Thankfully, his troops seemed to respect the Whalers in the same way as he respected the elder.

    Soon enough, the soldiers and the whalers were beginning to mill onto the various ships. He stood beside the elder the entire time, and waited the launching of the trio of ships. ”By the way, I never asked, and I feel a fool for it: but what is your name, Elder?”

    The Elder looked at Marik. "I am called Elder Lord Marik, but the name I was born with... was Ahab."

    The three whaling ships set sail within the hour and headed out into the waves, no few of the soldiers becoming violently seasick while the Whalers offered them various concoctions claimed to cure sea-sickness including a brew of brined whale blubber boiled with garlic. It was on the eighth day as the sun rose that a cry came from the crow’s nest. "WHITE WHALE OFF THE STARBOARD BOW!"

    Marik had spent a great deal of his time on the ship interacting with the people of the ship; both those who called the Whaler village home and his own men. He had not predicted eight days of travel, but he was seemingly unaffected by a lack of sea legs. After the fourth day, he began to practice whittling, and by the seventh, he had given it up because he realised he was terrible at it.
    On the Eighth day, he was beginning to feel the tedium gnaw into his bones. It was almost a blessing when he heard the call for the white whale, and Marik instantly rose from his seated position, so that he could rush to the Starboard bow. He hoped to see the whale, and he knew that Ahab would be eager to begin the hunt, soon enough.

    The whale truly was beyond huge and Marik could almost feel it reeking with darkness. The beast's flesh was as white as bone and its eyes red as blood and Marik could almost feel it fix its attention on him before he realised that it had simply spotted the ships.

    "Everyone to the deck! THE HUNT IS ON!" Ahab said charging from his Cabin towards the prow Harpoonbow, the man mounted the same Harpoon Marik saw him sharpening on that first day, but now he noticed that the Elder, or should I say Captain, had carved the names of those lost to the white whale into the harpoon. "None will shoot before me! Am I clear!" There was a chorus of Ayes as the other two ships began to fan out to box in the whale.

    The colossal status of the whale was an incredible sight for the young Marik. He didn’t see much use for himself at the moment, as he neither saw the Whale as inherently evil, or as a guilty party. His magic was useless, it seemed. That just meant that he would support Ahab in whatever way was required. He rushed over to the Harpoonbow, having grabbed another two Harpoons to reload the weapon, should the first blow not kill: which seemed likely. “Ready when you are, Ahab.”

    Orders were shouted and the ships began to surround the whale before they unleashed their harpoons when Ahab gave the order the experience of the Dryads greatly helping them hit their target, all except the Swansong, the Swansong found itself the target of the white whale and was smashed to smithereens with a single stroke of the whales flukes only six bodies getting off it alive.

    Marik found himself shocked by the sudden outburst of the Whale’s attack. He saw it smash the Swansong to smithereens and suddenly he summoned up his wells of magical power. He needed no more prompting: This creature was a threat, and could not be seen as an innocent any more. Pulling on the pools of his Celestial power, he attempted to summon up Archangels, in the hopes of both assisting the injured and Slaying the Whale that so callously attempted to slaughter his men, and which had succeeded in a far more cases than he deemed acceptable. To Marik, each loss was a personal failure.

    As Marik worked towards the summons ten of the great creatures felt the summons and answered the call to find the White Whale coming around for another pass at the whaling ships, torn between duty and honour and mercy the angels seemed indecisive, seven of them finally decided that pulling survivors from the Swansong from the water was the best use of their skills.

    The other three took glowing golden bows and turned them on the White Whale as the Pequod's harpoons settled into its skin the Etienne misjudging a turn of the whale and missing with their own. The whale was now enraged by its attackers but the first lines had been settled.

    Marik felt a growing sense of frustration as the whale continued to persevere and threaten his people. The truth is that he was fearful of the whale striking at the survivors, or the archangels that attempted to help them, so the ‘Lord’ of Bjoric found a need for settling this fight quickly.

    He was about to hand Ahab a harpoon, when suddenly a thought crossed him. He withheld the harpoon briefly, as he begun to channel the magic of the gods into it. He had already drawn the conclusion that the beast was not only lacking in innocence, but evil, which meant that a blow enhanced with his magic should, in theory, do much greater damage. He finished channelling the Smite evil spell into the harpoon, when he handed loaded it into the Harpoonbow himself. “Let’s take this monster down, Ahab.”

    The Archangels continued to pepper it with holy arrows the Etienne and Pequod managed to bracket the White Whale and launched their Harpoons simultaneously, the one enchanted by Marik punched through the Whales skulls and slew the beast and much cheering was heard as the Archangels turned their full task to rescuing the survivors from the Swansong.

    Of the survivors of the swansong only four were amongst Mariks people, a single dryad a pair of axemen (who were paddling desperately before Archangels helped them out) and... Root. Meaning that of the ten axemen on board the swansong and five dryads three of the Dryads had been killed and eight of the axemen.

    The survivors began towing in the White Whales carcass when Ahab came up to Marik. "We need to get quickly back to land. Neither of our ships can handle the beast alone.

    Upon seeing his captain and troops returned, Marik felt a greater sense of relief than he thought fair. He had lost Twelve good people today. Thankfully, he found that the quest was more than a simple vanity project though, as the whale would have been a greater threat than anticipated, had it not been dealt with so swiftly. To think a fearsome creature such as a whale could be so easily turned to darkness was…unsettling. Was this the work of Scarazar? Or perhaps of the She-witch?

    Either way, Marik had succeeded in bringing the beast down, and the work of Ahab and his whalers could begin. He listened to Ahab, and called over one of the Archangels before releasing the rest from the contract of his spell. “Archangel Mirach, I want you to make haste to the Whaler village and deliver a message to the whalers: requisition them to bring any available sturdy ships, so that we might haul in the whale carcass.”

    The Archangel nodded, and the sound of four wings flapping at pace left Marik briefly saddened by what he was missing. Marik turned to Ahab, a grim resolution on his face. “Let us get this carcass in as quickly as possible then. We have good people to mourn, and I would have this quest be made at least partially worth the sacrifices we have made today.”

    It took longer to get the carcass back than it did to find the whale and yet the Whalers were still in high spirits celebrating the life of the whalers lost in the 'duel' with the beast. Arriving at the Village it took nearly a full day to drag the full length of the beast onto land through a series of complicated pulleys.

    As the village got down to work Ahab sat on an overturned barrel and lit a pipe. "You and your people are welcome to stay; it will take at least several days to shed the great beast of its skin for your prize."

    “Thank you, Ahab. We will accept your offer, and help out where we can. It is the least we can do, after all your efforts.” In truth, Marik accepted the chance to rest; welcoming it as both a break and as a chance to further get to know his people. The whalers were a fine enough lot, especially in their merriment after the successful hunt of the whale. The men drank heartily and the women drank even more heartily. Over the twenty four hour course it took to skin, both Marik and Root received no less than twelve proposals or propositions from the tribes’ folk. It seems that even in the state of loss that the village had taken, which it would probably struggle to recover from for some time yet, the people were happy.

    It was during those twenty four hours that Marik felt a disturbing return of magical energy. Six…no, Seven Cherubs must have fallen afoul of the tribes in Icing, or perhaps its weather. The fact that the people were reacting so aggressively to Cherubs, of all things, was troublesome.

    After the white whale was skinned, its hide was loaded up into a cart, left mostly empty by the loss of eleven soldiers and pulled by the horses. The beast’s hide was tremendous, and even cut up into manageable squares, it become an incredible task to begin transporting it. Not sure if any of the Frostwyr at all would be interested in actually meeting with him, he began to fear that this task was a wasted one indeed.

    As his remaining forces began to ride away from the village, the five remaining cherubs returned to Marik, delivering disappointing news. Only two clans were willing to meet with him: Clan Narwhal and Clan Whale. Hearing the name of the last one worried him, for the Frostwyr named themselves for a variety of reasons. Perhaps this clan was known for hunting whales, in which case they would see the gift as an incredible one. On the other hand, they might worship the beasts, which would make his gift an insult.

    In the end though, he had set out on this quest in order to appease the Frostwyr. He had lost eleven lives in an attempt to fulfil this quest, and to fail without even trying would be an insult to their memory.

    Marik released all but one of the Cherubs, who he sent to gather Mir’een and Bjorn from the Citadel. “Root, I am afraid that you will have to further accompany me to the North. I had intended to send you back after the hunt, but time is of the essence.”

    Root, on the other hand, just shrugged off the words of Marik as if they were without merit. “No need to threat, Marik. I’d rather be up here anyway, if you’ve got Mir’een coming along. Besides, you need someone who can watch your back from afar.”

    Marik nodded, grateful of the Dryad’s help and loyalty. She had been one of his stranger allies, to be sure, but she was one he would never replace. “Let us move, and make camp at the border to Icing. From there, we will wait for Mir’een and Bjorn, and then onwards to meet Clan Whale and Clan Narwhal.”

    Tl;dr - Actions (open)

    • Marik has completed his quest to slay the White Whale. It took him Seventeen days, and cost him Eleven men. (-3 Dryads and -8 Axemen)
    • Marik has organised a meeting with two of the Frostwyr clans, Clan Narwhal and Clan Whale
    • Mir’een and Bjorn have left the sanctuary in order to join Marik.
    • Cynthia is left in charge of the keep
    LimeyPanda threw 10-faced die for: 2 Total: 7 $dice $dice
    LimeyPanda threw 10-faced die for: A harsh land ability Total: 4 $dice
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