Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Pyromaniacwolf
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Pyromaniacwolf Edgy Character Maker

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The Lycan Covenant


At the news of the rhino man trio being reported to him, Vlath knew what must be done. As Mex Silentpaw was the one reporting the new information to him in his makeshift shrine, he instructed her to send a pack of Silentpaw hunters back across the river and to the newly established Seagard, there they would meet up with two packs of Bloodfang warriors. This fighting force was to then travel to the holy sites and find the Rhino men and defeat them. They could not escape but if possible one should be brought back for questioning, however, if their capture endangers the warriors then they should end their lives.

Having given his orders to Silentpaw, Vlath was left alone in his tent. He decided it was time to go and see how his people were coping in their new home. As he walked from his tent he immediately saw that perhaps this move was for the best, the lumber being supplied was far closer and so wooden lodges could be erected far faster, the rabbits that had survived could hopefully survive on the dryer landscape and even the mountains were closer by... that would make them easier to mine, the stone would be needed for greater construction and greater shrines to the God's glory. With that thought in mind he sought out Goldtooth, who was overseeing the flow of lumber from the forest to the new settlement as it entered Wolfhelm. The Voidcaller simply ordered the lycan to find a group of scouts and to have them escort a goldtooth with some knowledge of the ways of the earth to survey the mountain and to find a potential location for a mine.


Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Lauder
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Lauder The drunk kind of hero

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Oguurec Dekaan


The treehouses were certainly something else, especially to such a small species such as the goblins. To them these homes seemed like monoliths, and the group simply looked in awe for a moment as they took the breath taking sight in. However, Uxu was the first to snap out of the splendor of the moment, forcing herself to think of what to do before these beings took notice to the small band of goblins. Though her mind was split on whether she wanted to be seen as a conqueror, prophet, or even "ally" to these new beings that had frightened Joz when he had first seen them. It took but a few moments before the goblin queen had made up her mind about the situation and raised her staff into the air and a magnificent explosion conjured itself in the tree tops above the party, the loud noise was no doubt able to bring the attention of this place to the party and the sunlight that flooded in through the opening would direct their gaze upon the group.

"Quick, put on a performance! Do it like I actually pay ya!," the queen commanded in a hushed voice.

The guards scrambled for a moment before they made a formation, flanking their leader on two sides before slamming their staffs into the ground and chanting deeply. They conjured up the smallest explosion they could under their staffs to produce a sparking effect, making them group probably seem more like a traveling band of performers rather than a highly trained magical group that would probably be able to level this place. However, they tried their best to make their queen look like a head of a religion, even though she technically already was in her own goblin like fashion.

As the initial blast shook the air and tore a hole through the canopy above, pale, panicked faces appeared inside windows up in the treehouses. Between the panicked screams, they heard one voice, "It's the blue exploder-things!"

But Uxu didn't enjoy the power trip for long before the tree next to her began to violently shake and move.

"I don't likes that? You guys?" Uxu said, in too calm of a voice.

"Not at all, boss," the guards said in unison, machining her calmness.

"Welp, you boys know exactly what to do," Uxu said before every single one of the goblins turned the tree and simply began to repeatedly conjure explosion, sending splinters to the ground and other scorched limbs of the trees. They caught a glimpse of a face in the thrashing tree's trunk for just a moment before it got blown apart. They would not be satisfied until the tree was just utterly obliterated. But other trees around were quickly coming to life, and from windows and balconies and ropebridges up in the treehouses above, there were now some humanoid figures firing bows at the goblin attackers.

"Well, boys," she paused to make a volley of arrows disintegrate in an explosion, "I believe that this is our queue to exit stage away from this place!" Uxu turned and began to run away, the other guards turning to run away before one turned back to make a rope bridge explode. The others did their best to stop the trees from coming to life by blasting them as much as they could while Uxu began to mutter under her breath.

"Darkness blacker than black,
I beseech thee, combine with my divine power.
The time of awakening hath come.
Great Explosion, I summon thee to deliver your child,
A most powerful child to conjure a destructive force with no equal.
Return these creatures to cinder,"

Arrows whistled by, one of them catching one of her fleeing guards in the back.

Uxu suddenly turned to face the trees and houses before thrusting her staff forward.

"Explosion!"

A light shined on the center of the tree town, staying there for a few moments before a flash of light expanded, a powerful wind rushing past the group and through the trees. Soon an explosion of a tremendous magnitude erupted in the center of that town. Scorching anything close to it before simply catching the trees on fire before the sound of the deafening them erupted, bringing with it the blessed ringing that the goblins so loved to hear, something that would bless any for miles away with its noise. The blast engulfed one of the great trees and the charred remnants of one treehouse cascaded to the ground as a mass of fiery debris, whilst the other treehouses were badly shaken and the remaining defenders were left to deal with the spreading fires once they recovered.

With that 'diversion' left for the strange treedwellers, Uxu made like her guards by turning around and running back down the road. They blasted apart the bridges as they crossed them, ensuring that they would not easily be pursued, and began to make their way back toward the mountains. Once the trees began to thin out and the ground grew more rocky, they finally rested a moment to catch their breaths.

"Well, what are we gonna do now?" one of the panting mages finally asked.

Uxu, thoroughly tired and exhausted from having to conjure what would normally be called the mother of most explosions, looked up into the treetop and thought to herself. It was a long way from home and frankly, she did not know the path that they had taken, especially now that they got all turned around from the brief battle. She looked back at the path, the broken bridges and stuff, only to sigh to herself. "Well, we lost one of our boys back there. Let's see if we can get him back, and see if we can subjugate those ungrateful beings!" Uxu ordered, turning to the path that they had come from, "Any of yas that don't wanna come along, too bad! You had the chance to be afraid before ya joined my beloved guard! But to guide ya back to the truth path, I'll bring some motivation! Our small blue style cannot be defeated!" Her hype was transferred onto her guard before they turned and began to run, and swim in the case of the rivers, back to the treetown.

It took a while for them to get back, but rather than sticking to the path, they ran into the thick of the trees, become stealthy little buggers. As they neared the forest retreat once more, they began to hear the roar and crackle of fires muddled with shouting and great pounding footsteps. The elves that lived in the treehouses, along with several animate trees, were drawing buckets of water from a well and using them in a desperate to contain the spread of fires. Since the creatures were distracted, the goblins began to spread out among the trees, taking cover behind the thick trunks and keeping an eye out for any trees that wanted to come to life. After a moment of silence among the group, Uxu peaked her head out and yelled as loud as she could to the humanoids, "Listen ya gits! I am a dee-vine being! And if ya want me to summon another one of them child-explosions then ya better send an envoy over 'ere t' discuss terms!" Her goblin speech was showing, not sounding like the dignified leader that she was supposed to be, causing some laughter in the guard.

A trio of the menacing ents spun toward the sound of her voice, raised their branches, and roared with the deafening sound of warping wood. One of the villagers, an important-looking man that nonetheless wore some skimpy robe woven from vines, turned to face Uxu. "You have gone too far, blue monster. Leave! The power of Nature compels you!"

"We was defending ourselves! Ya gits shot first!' Uxu retorted letting out a light huff before she continued to try and be diplomatic, "Listen, clearly yas are a buncha 'shoot first, ask questions later' types but perhaps we can come to sort of resolution that does not end with me summoning a bigger explosion to level the rest of this place! Yeah?"

The stranger pointed an accusatory finger at Uxu. "You push elven mercy to its limits, fiend! Old Wiseroot only tried to greet you, and then you blasted him back to sleep! It might be a hundred years before he wakes up again! So now if you don't back down with all your fire and explosions, I will call upon the power of Pan to expunge you!"

Uxu gave a look of confusion before she snapped back at the elf, "We thoughts he was gonna attack us! Ya don't just wake up next to a buncha summoners like us! See how small we are! Anything can come out of the woods and eat us! Like a hawk..." She turned to ask her guard a question, "Hawks are big right?"

"Sometimes," one responded.

"Yeah, like hawks! And squids!" Uxu said as she turned back to face the elf.

By this point it was hard to tell if the stranger was shouting or whining, but either way, it was annoying. "But you just burnt, no--explodified half the village!"

"You shot us first! I did what I needed to in order t' survive! I mean, I didn't hurt anyone did I?"

"First a big scary boom! Then you hurt poor Wiseroot! And then you blew up one of our houses and made three people inside of it reunite with Pan! And now the village is on fire and my flute collection is going to burn!" His soft hands were grasping at long tufts of silky hair and pulling. "You want me to like you? Then start by helping to put out those fires!"

"Wait, flutes? Not the flutes! Boys, we must save thems! I think," Uxu looked back over at her guards before whispering, "What's a flute?"

All she got was a silent shrug. The rest of the goblins came out of hiding, finding it pointless at this point.

"We'll help! But ya killed one of my boys, I want his body back!" Uxu said, walking up to elves with her guard in tow. "Now does we have a deal, mistah?"

"Elves don't kill anything! We merely reunite things with Pan," he huffed in correction, but then after a moment he finished, "Deal!"

"Alright boys, get some buckets! We are gonna be putting out fires!" Uxu shouted to her guard. Given the society that these goblins lives in, almost all of them knew how to put out fires by this point due to the endless explosions that they would summon. It was a sort of necessity, but with the banning of the duels inside of their town it was slowly getting better, though explosions are just so great that sometimes they just spontaneously come into existence, at least, that was the normal excuse. Though many of the walking trees seemed to cast the goblins baleful glances as they arrived to help, the giants were too preoccupied with trying to contain the fires. The elves were likewise fighting the fire using pails of water drawn from the wells, except for a few that possessed enough magical power to summon water out of the ground itself in great geysers, or blow out flames with great winds, or (in the case of the one that they'd first spoken to) smother the flames beneath wild growth, creating blooming eruptions of flowers and other plants that were so thick and green that not even the flames could consume them.

When it was all over, the elves began whispering among one another and casting furtive glances toward the goblins, whilst a dozen of the walking trees now stood at attention around the village in such a way as to make a flighty escape into a difficult proposition. One of the trees at least had the decency to pick up the fallen Kooch Hor in its branches and gingerly set down the body beside them, but the grim reunion of looking at their friend's corpse hardly lifted their spirits or set them at ease. But before tensions or nerves could rise too high, a small group of the elven sorcerers (they must have been this village's leaders) approached Uxu and her guards. "You have helped to stop the fires, and Faras thanks you for saving his flute collection! But we haven't forgotten that you also started those fires, and brutalized Wiseroot, and reunited several of us with Pan! For now your judgement is out of our hands, for we must divine the will of Pan! You all can sit by that tree while we call him!"

Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Ahr Xanten
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Ekon-Danna Turn Nine







The sweat had stopped pouring from Tenshi's brow but his back still ached from the hard work, though rest was the last thing on his mind at the moment. The water ways had been set up, all they needed now was water to flow through them to make this land prosperous. While he had been working hard alongside the others his mind had gathered an idea together. It had turned over and over in his thoughts, he had polished the words he would use and smoothed out any problems until he was ready to walk along the sand and dirt the covered the area. He travelled across the crude pathways that had been carved between the tents and the fireplaces, dodging guy ropes and scattered debris made by the nearly four hundred people that called Hunzuu home.

The overwhelming presence of those around him was tangible as he trudged through the throng of energy and life. Each twist and turn held a new and varied sight and sound from peoples daily lives. The smell of food roasting on a firepit, the snoring of a sleeping troll under the shade of his tent or the babble of conversations caught and lost Tenshi's attention as he picked his way through the camp. A group of small children raced past him trying to catch one another, their infectious laughter drew his attention from his thoughts and towards the camel-skin tent that stood alone in centre of the crush. People had squeezed into every possible space Hunzuu had, yet had left a respectable arms length from the chief's tent.

Tenshi pulled the tent flap aside and ducked into the shaded tent, the camel skin doing little to muffle the sounds of bountiful life outside. Csini sat quietly to one side of the tent, sitting comfortably amongst a few pillows sewing ripped clothes back together. Tenshi bowed respectfully to her and she responded with a slight tilted her head. Malak was a few steps further into the tent carving meaningless symbols into a chunk of sandstone he clung to as if it would spring to life and tell him the answers to all his problems. The pair sat quietly wandering through their own mental world, but the room was still abuzz with the chatter that permeated the camel-skin walls.

“My Chief, I've had an idea.” Tenshi began, uncaring of what thoughts were broken by his interruption. The chief looked up, as if waking from a dream, his eyes were unfocused and he nodded for Tenshi to continue while he regained himself. “We must search the lands. The ancestors brought us here for a reason, they must have left a gift for us in the soil. Someone must have found something, maybe one of the children has picked up a strange rock or....” Tenshi's words trailed off as Malak put down his carvings and nodded.

“Travel amongst the people, ask any questions you wish.” Malak's clipped words gathered pace as ideas flooded his mind. “We shall send people into the nearby area to search for resources.”




Senwe considered the words of the stranger carefully. Trolls were no stranger to keeping slaves, or to being slaves, but this man made a living from keeping them. A dangerous man, he pondered as he gathered his thoughts.

“Greetings, stranger. I am Senwe of the Ekon tribe. We are travellers from the far southlands who seek a place to call our own.” He gestured to the reed mat as a show of good faith and to the goats cheese and water the trio had shared, “will you join us amongst the gods to discuss the matters of these lands and your business?” The two warrior trolls stood and moved a few spaces away from the god tent to make space for the stranger.

“You speak of Giwabi, are they the owners of the soldiers who have watched us with such interest?” The questions bubbled up in his mind like water at an oasis and spilt from him in a torrent. “Could you show us to the leader of the Giwabi tribe so that we may talk and what would you trade for those you hold?”
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Cyclone
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Cyclone Trapped in the Past

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Turn 10




The Lycan Covenant



Attolia



The Mustaqilun Tribe



Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn



Ekon-Danna






Hidden 7 mos ago Post by AdorableSaucer
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AdorableSaucer Blessed Beekeeper

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Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 10





The Great Hall - now furnished with tables and stools for every dwarf - hosted an atmosphere quite unsure about its own identity: On one hand, this was the first protein rich meal the dwarves had eaten in a long time - Makkar's crew had brought back enough fish for a proper meal, as well as some for drying and preserving - but on the other hand, the shivering miner currently crying over his bowl of fish soup, surrounded by many a supportive brother and sister, carried with him a message of a subject so fearsome that the room's enthusiasm had decided to take its business somewhere else. There were no jigs; there was no song; joy and laughs did not belong. The councillor long table was not much better, even as Erima showed a display of what could almost pass for gratitude in Herim's direction, who accepted it with all the patience of a fisherman awaiting his catch. Makkar and the actual fishermen had also received praise, though the warning from the west had cut it short. There was no mistaking that the fish had helped considerably, though. While no one in the great hall technically smiled, each and every dwarf and dwarfling could not help but reveal a shine of joy in their eyes at the taste of grain bread and boiled fish. This, at least, kept the air of despair from completely permeating the room.

Osman shoved the last spoonful of soup into his mouth, licking the beard surrounding his lips to make sure he had not missed any droplets. The black-haired dwarf's brow hung low, casting shade over his brown eyes. Makkar, spoon sticking out of his mouth, glanced over.

"Wha' o' uh mai'h, fo'ma'?" he began before swallowing and pulling the spoon out to repeat himself clearly: "What's on your mind, foreman?" Osman looked up and pulled at his mustache in a pensive manner. He tried to speak, cleared his throat a little and tried again.

"Anyone got any idea of how we're going to get rid of that gods-damned chicken?" Most of the councillors abruptly stopped eating, some looking at Osman in an insulted manner, as if he had just ruined their meal. Golaq Gold of the Gold Union let out a sigh.

"Look, foreman, you gotta bring this up now? We were havin' such a nice meal and here you come and talk about that cursed thing... Can't we save it for-..."

"Save your whining, Golaq," Quana interjected. "The foreman raises an important point. We ought to discuss it sooner rather than later." Golaq leaned back with a curt groan and picked his teeth with a rather long fishbone. Igura Water straightened her back somewhat and looked towards Osman. "Well, foreman, as your closest advisor on logistics surrounding a potential trek to the west, the last shipment brought with it news that the paths are getting slipperier." The others looked to her. "You mean to say that there is ice on the Westroad?" Erima Rock said with a smile. Igura nodded. "The reports convey as much." More and more councillors smiled. The winter was slowly loosening its grasp on the valley. "However," Igura added, "this will make the trek harder. Considering we, unfortunately, had to eat a good few leather shoes, we cannot provide proper footwear to all." Osman knocked gently on the table. "We won't need everyone. Ra'ol, what's the current state of the Whitepeak Bastion?" Ra'ol looked over to Osman and then down in his lap, sweat forming on his forehead.

"Well, uh, we... We..." He let out a sigh. "It's nowhere near finished, foreman. There are four walls, a poor excuse for a barracks and a single tower. Are we lucky, it may withstand a single swoop from the flying menace. We-..."

"And that's enough whimpering for now," Osman said and waved a hand. Ra'ol deflated in his chair. "Chin up, Ra'ol. We won't let it swoop by. Find that lad, wossname, Cadood?"

"Kadol, foreman," Joron corrected. Osman snapped his fingers. "Yes, that one. Kadol!" The foreman's shout made the entire hall quiet down. The sound of what was likely a wooden stool falling over and then swiftly being picked up again echoed from the Steel Union long tables. After a few minutes, the young dwarf shuffled up to the councillor table and raised his right fist in the air. Despite the fervor of his salute, the dwarf's face betrayed nervous grimaces. Osman nodded.

"Son, you're our best authority on subjects regarding this Grimgor Thunderbowler."

"Godrim Thunderhowler," Joron corrected, spitting the name out as if it was poison.

"I know what I said," Osman snapped at Joron before turning back to Kadol. "We're currently having a little discussion about that blasted sky-chicken and we're wondering if he ever told you anything about how to defeat it. Anything at all." Kadol folded his hands and looked down. A moment passed, followed by another moment. Finally, Kadol remembered something.

"He... He said it can be driven back by howling!"

"-Godrim's- howling, likely," Joron said sourly. Kadol deflated, but his eyes glistened as another memory came to light.

"I-it can be stopped by magic!"

"Which we most definitely have loads of and absolutely can utilise to its utmost potential at this very moment. Just ask Roka how that Thunderhorn is coming along," Erima snarked. Roka, who once again was filling in for Khyber Tin, hung her head. "She's not wrong," she muttered in defeat. Kadol hung his head as well. Osman, who looked about as calm and patient as a starving hound in a slaughterhouse, slammed his fist on the table so hard that a few soupbowls went flying.

"Rock, cut the filth!" Erima smirked and leaned back in her chair. Osman turned back to Kadol. "Son, is there really nothing else? No hints? No details? No ancient history?"

"History, he says," Joron muttered sourly. Osman shot him a look that could pierce armour.

Kadol shook his head in defeat. "I'm... I'm sorry, foreman. I have nothing." Osman ran a hand through his beard. "Well, that narrows the options..." he muttered. Herim leaned over and whispered something. Osman looked up.

"You are aware that Godrim hasn't been seen for days, yes?" Kadol nodded solemnly. Osman nodded too.

"Quana!" The dwarf quickened and looked to Osman. Meanwhile, Kadol bowed and turned towards the tables again. Osman pointed at him.

"We're not done with you yet, son. Quana, how many axes and shields can you prepare in three days?" Quana's eyes widened and she pulled out a stick of charcoal and began writing some numbers on the back of her hand. "Uh, if we work overtime, we can probably ready about six axes and nine shields, if we keep them out of Gold union claws."

"Oh, you wish we'd take the time to bejewel your shoddy work." Golaq said with a smirk and a roll of his eyes.

"What did you just say to me?!" Quana spat and rocketed up from her stool. Osman slammed his fist into the table again, causing yet another flight of the soupbowls. Joron caught one in the air just before it would have fallen to its doom on the stone floor.

"Golaq, enough with the filth! Quana, sit down and focus!" Quana sat back down and shot the smirking Golaq a deathstare. "Alright, cut the last three shields and focus on making the axes as good as you can. How many shields and axes do we already have in store?" Quana wrote down some more numbers on her hand, rubbing some away and correcting them.

"Uh, I'm guessing here, but I'd say we probably have at least four shields and twenty axes of varying sizes." Osman nodded. "How many of those are of a good combat size?" Quana raised an eyebrow and then formed a grin on her lips. "I'd say about ten of them are." Osman nodded again.

"Very good. Take those four shields and four of the best axes. Have six more of each produces in three days. Then I want you to find the ten best warriors we have and suit them up properly for a trek west." Quana grinned from ear to ear and saluted. She shot up from her seat and ran over to the Steel Union table, barking orders like some militant hound. The other councillors were looking expectantly at Osman, who turned back to Joron.

"Logmaster, can you recite your books on command?"

"They're called logs, foreman, and yes, I can," Joron replied in an annoyed manner.

"Good. What was that one about the sorcerer-king?" Joron's eyes widened. He rummaged through his bag and pulled out a scroll. After unrolling it, he rolled it back together and stuffed it back in his bag, digging some more. He suddenly slapped his forehead as if he had forgotten something, and pulled out a green copper disk instead. He scanned it quickly and muttered angrily to himself, calling over a white-robed member of his union, who after hearing his orders, sprinted out of the great hall.

"On command..." Osman snarked.

"It's not like I carry around every scroll and logdisk at all times, foreman!" Joron snapped. After roughly fifteen minutes or so, the white-robed dwarf returned, panting loudly. Joron waved him away and began to read:

"To the sorcerer-king of those hills the howling winds called
In grasping greed he crossed the mountains and found his doom.
Lured by promises of might, by the ice king's deceit he was enthralled
and so the greatest runesmith was forever bound in an icy tomb."


Osman nodded. "That's the one. Son! You got a weapon of choice?" Kadol quickened and hesitated. "I... I know how to use the spear, foreman!" There was a snicker among the councillors.

"The spear? A little dull, don't you think, foreman?" Joron said. "It's so very... How to put this... Normal. Every Hammersworn knows how to use a spear. It's just run and stab." Kadol deflated. Osman rubbed his chin.

"Aye, it's no hammer and a bit of a hassle to drag around, but suppose it'll have to do. Son, your orders are as follows." Osman stood up and clapped his hands so loudly that the resulting echo caused some snow to fall off the roof of the great hall - at least, Osman liked to think so. The other dwarves turned to the councillor table - some stood up to see what all the commotion was about. Osman climbed up onto the table, greatly inconveniencing whomever had to clean it afterwards, and spoke as loudly as he could:

"Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters! All hear your foreman's words! It is a grim day with yet more grim news sent by the gods to test us! That foul menace of the skies has returned! As of now, we have no way of defeating it." Many of the dwarflings in the crowd clung to their parents and began to cry. The adults themselves looked at each other with fear in horror. "However," Osman continued, "not all is lost." Osman pointed to Kadol, who froze and slowly turned to the crowd.

"Our son has taken upon him a great responsibility. He will take ten of our bravest and venture beyond the mine - beyond the Valley of Tusks, in search of Godrim Thunderhowler. They will get him to help us defeat the feathered demon for good!" A cheer erupted from the crowd. Kadol began to sweat and looked back at Osman.

"And not only that!" Osman continued. Kadol swallowed and the councillors looked at Osman in confusion and awe. "After he has had a word with Godrim, he will proceed into the unknown mountains to the west to find - the sorcerer-king!" Another cheer erupted. Kadol was almost on his knees at this point. "The sorcerer-king will teach us the ways of runesmithing so that we may complete the Thunderhorn and forever be safe from the Abductor!" A group of dwarves came over to the councillor table, picked up the floored Kadol and proceeded to toss him up and down, chanting, "saviour!" and "hero!" Osman stepped down from the stool. Joron Scroll stood up. "Foreman, a request."

"Awfully blunt today. What is it?" Joron scowled at the comment, but continued. "I would like for my son, Joron, to accompany Kadol on his quest. He will act as the Copper Union's eyes and ears and write down all that the travellers may discover on the other side of the Valley of Tusks." Osman ran a thinking hand through his beard and nodded. "So be it. You have my permission." Joron nodded back.

Kadol was light as a feather to the roughly twenty dwarves taking turns at tossing him up and down; however, the young dwarf felt heavier than ever. He felt as though a mountain of responsibility had been dropped on top of his shoulders. He whispered desperate prayers to every god he knew, even the cruel ones. He knew he would need their blessing now more than ever.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Bright_Ops The Insane Scholar

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The Mustaqilun Tribe [Turn 10]


Riverforge


"Had you wasted my time..." Rukdug began, seated as he 'held court' with the miner whom had claimed to be able to reproduce the curse he was after "I would likely have heeded the wishes of some of your peers and punished you for your arrogant stupidity." Letting that hang in the air for a moment, the warchief smiled as he continued "However while you failed to achieve the results I was asking for, you did develop something of great interest. It has been quite a long time since I've seen a poison as potent and useful as the one you've 'accidentally' come across."

"To be clear-" The smile briefly disappeared from Rukdug's face as he stressed his point " - I am not rewarding you for failing to create the curse I asked of you. I have merely decided that you might be of more use to Riverforge elsewhere rather than just working in the mines. We are marching to war and our forces will have every advantage at hand that they can." Taking a deep breath, he finally declared the Miner's fate "From this moment on your life will be about poisons. While I'm happy to give you some leeway in developing new ones, your main task for the foreseeable future will be to produce enough of your interesting little creation to supply our war effort going forward."

With one matter settled, the next had to be brought forward; This time it was a pair of orcs who were coming before him through the two of them clearly didn't like the fact that they were settling matters before him and not taking it into a combat pit. On the left stood the shaman who's efforts to create cursed weapons was time consuming, but showed some degree of promise. On the right was the spokes orc for the lumberjacks. Both sides had come to try and sway him to their point of view privately beforehand so it wasn't hard to figure out what needed to be discussed.

Raising his hand to prevent the two from bickering, Rukdug cut to the chase. "I know why the two of you are here. Riverforge needs the usage of cursed weapons, but it's also starved for wood right now. As you both know, I sent Captain Nyorgha out to try and take the strain off of the latter, but building an outpost and getting a wood working operation underway takes time. So in the short term, compromises have to be made... as distasteful as it might be."

"In order to get our smelters and metal workers off of their lazy asses, we're going to need wood. As such, I've decided that instead of producing one hundred cursed axes we're going to have to lower that number down to eighty." It was clear from the look on Rukdug's face that he wasn't trilled with having to make this decision, but the situation called for it. "Twenty trees may not be much, but it'll get us producing weapons and armor until either Nyorgha pulls through or we find a more long term solution."

Clearing his throat, he continued "Speaking of, this is a two part plan. Alongside the trees, I'm going to be sending out teams of prospectors to search for other ores... but their propriety will be to locate a source of coal. If we can get some bloody coal than we're not going to be so dependent on freaking wood anymore!" A raged filled growl escaped him, but he reeled it in quickly. "Don't bother protesting, my decision is final. Next!"

.....................................................................

Elsewhere.


At the suggestion of being enthralled, the goblin in question would receive Pak's answer quickly enough... when he sat in his masked face with an glare in his eye that could have melted through iron plating. "We bowed in servitude once. Never again."

With a plan of action agreed upon by Ie, Pak nodded his head to the bird man as he handed off the wooden instrument to one of his underlings. "Shouldn't be to difficult to do. Humans are weak individually in both strength and mental fortitude. They can offset their weakness through training, discipline and teamwork... aspects that an army of bandits wouldn't do on their own and a leader too arrogant to enforce such things will neglect. Just give us a position that offers us a good defensive choke point and their leader will have to appear to either try and break through proper or try and recruit us after we kill his army."




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Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 10.5





In the Hovel


Osman stood leaning over a table on which laid several pages of parchment. He gnawed on the coarse, ink-tipped stick he used to write with, trying to make the numbers reach an impossible answer. He did not often come over to the Glass Union Hall and with good reason: While the rank, bitter musk of Steel Union miners could knock out an unsuspecting stranger, it paled in comparison to the abhorring musk of the Glass Union scholars who had been inside a bit too long. At the very least, Steel Union dwarves would roll around in the snow after work to wash the worst off. A blue-robed dwarf came jogging over towards Osman, carrying an additional stack of papers. Osman let out a load groan as the dwarf jogged back downstairs. Herim came out from between the scrollcases.

"So, do the numbers add up?" Osman muttered angrily to himself. "Nope." He paused with a long sigh. "No matter how you look at it, most of the fish will spoil if we save it, or disappear in a week if we don't. What little salt we have, we cannot waste on preserving the fish, either. The lignite coal does not make for good fuel for smoking, either." Herim nodded. "Yes, I'd rather not eat poison. However, there is still a faint possibility that we can find some wood to build smokehuts." Osman ran a hand through his beard. "Where is this wood? Three miles away?" Herim walked back in among the scrollcases. After a time passed, he came back out with a relatively new scroll, which he rolled out and revealed to be a map. He placed it down on the table in front of Osman.

"This is a newly-drawn map of the area, foreman. If you look to the east, there should still be some untouched groves there. The wood was deemed too feeble to use as building material. It was only recently revisited for the purpose of harvesting firewood. Additionally, the stocks and sticks we find there may not make for good halls, but they may just be adequate for small smokehuts." Osman nodded slowly.

"Very well. Tell as many as you can to go out and fetch that wood. I want ten smokehuts cooking fish by tomorrow at sundown, is that clear?" Herim nodded and stormed down the staircase, tipping over an unsuspecting scholar dwarf carrying yet another stack of parchments. Osman looked back at the map and gnawed some more on the wooden stick in his hand. A curious empty spot marked the north of what had once been Gol'kharumm. Had they really not ventured that far north in the valley yet?

He'd have to send someone to do that soon.

Meanwhile, in the mountains to the west...



Although the winds sliced at the skin as the dwarves stomped along the narrow mountain path, Kadol felt a noticeable warmth in the air that surprisingly brought some soothing joy to his troubled mind. He hoped that in one or, gods be good, less than a month, the snow would begin to give way to solid rock and hard clay on which the Silver Union could build proper roads. He blew a blast of hot air into his left fist, his right being quite preoccupied with holding his newly acquired personal spear. Almost twice one and a half times his own height, he began to echo Osman's earlier statement about the encumbering nature of such a long weapon; however, at least he did not have to carry around those heavy, iron-framed wooden shields that his escort all either had strapped on their backs or held up against their faces to protect from the sharp blasts striking at the group. Kadol shot a glance backwards - forming the tail of the group was Joron the Younger, looking strangely optimistic in spite of the situation. Kadol had not particularly minded the youths of the other Unions - Steel Union children were all drilled in forgecraft, mining and manual labour, supplemented with free time that was mostly spent either honing those three skills, sparring with friends or brawling with rivals. He had in truth always found the green-faced scrollworms to be a little odd. Joron the Younger's expression did little to alter that opinion.

It was at the very moment that thought crossed his mind that the very subject of the thought picked up some speed, until the tail had caught up with the head of the group and shot Kadol a wide grin.
"I know we shook hands already back home, but I would like to, once again, show my utmost gratitude for allowing me to tag along on this exciting trip!" Joron said and extended his hand. Kadol raised an eyebrow and gaped slightly, but shook the hand nonetheless.
"It-... It was not my decision to make, but, uh... Happy you're with us... I suppose." They marched for a little longer. "So, uh, what has you so giddy about going into what may potentially-..." Kadol swallowed and decided to rephrase his question. "Why are you so giddy, then?" Joron let out a soft scoff and shrugged. "My, my, good friend... Would not you also be happier than Barden the Blessed upon being asked to chronicle possibly the first sighting of runesmithing in, oh, I don't know, centuries? Millennia? Aeons?!" Kadol pulled back slightly and gave a nervous nod. "Uh, I... I suppose I would be?" Joron grinned again and gave Kadol perhaps just little too hard a pat on the back. "Right? I would tell you lot to chin up, but considering the wind, I can understand if you'd rather hide those chins in your scarfs." The escort shot him a collective scowl. Kadol replied with a grunt. Joron nodded, still grinning, and stopped in his tracks so he could once again take his place as the group tail.

The group had soon after arrived at the entrance to the Western Mine. In the hills behind them, they could spot the silhouette of Whitepeak Bastion, sticking out from the mountaintop like a misshapen rock formation. While he could not see the details of the construction, he thought it looked rather well-built, in spite of the criticism the Stone Union had given themselves of late.

"Kadol! Are you back already, lad?!" Kadol swiftly turned to see Qorr Coal's massive stature standing in the mine opening, surrounded by three other equally surprised dwarves. Kadol flashed a grin and quickened his pace towards his comrades. Qorr and the rest returned the grin and took turns rubbing Kadol's dark-blonde hair until the young dwarf's head resembled a golden porcupine. "Heh, no, but in all honesty, what are you doing back here? You know you have at least another week of leave, right?" Kadol nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I know. It's just-..." Qorr held up his palm. "Say no more, son. We've all been there." The other dwarves nodded and hummed their agreement. Kadol looked confused. "It ain't easy being away from your family, we know, we know, but the chick has to learn how to fly some time, right?" Qorr shrugged half-heartedly. "What? N-no! That's not what-!" Qorr and the others let out a cackle. Joron shot Kadol a smirk, while the escort joined in on the guffaw. "N'aaw, look at him. Too embarrassed to admit he misses his fathers and mothers... Bring a tear to me eye, it does." Qorr wiped away an imaginary tear. Kadol looked to Joron, who snickered and shrugged. "I'm afraid he speaks the truth, dear Steel unionists. We're on a-..."

"Oi, who's talkin' to ya, moss-face?" one of the miners spat at Joron. Joron pulled back slightly, his smirk bending into an uncertain grin. "I, uh, I was merely attempting to clarify our purpose-!" The miners closed in around Joron, who shrunk considerably in comparison. Steel Union miners, while often mocked by the more scholarly unions for not being the sharpest axes on the rack, could definitely boast a considerable size advantage over their more studious relatives. The four "giants" cast terrifying shadows over the ever-deflating historian. "Clarifyin' your purpose? What does that even mean, huh? You spittin' funny words just 'cause you think you're smarter, huh?" The admittedly shortest one of the miners smacked his broad brow against the even shorter Joron, causing the young scholar to drop into the snow, lifting both hands in front of his face in a poor attempt to defend himself. Qorr grabbed onto the aggressor's shoulder and pulled him back. "Alright, that'll do for now, Gummar. Go fetch these lads some ale rations - even the moss-face." Gummar snorted, gurgled some in his throat and spat a fat clump of phlegm at Joron's white winter robes. "A'ight, whatever ye say, brother. I'll fetch 'im somethin' to drink." The dwarf stormed inside. Qorr shot Joron, who was at this point being helped up by the dwarves in the escort, a somewhat pitying look and then turned to Kadol. "You said you were doing?" Kadol, who had also been looking at Joron for quite a while, looked back at Qorr. "We're going beyond the Valley of Tusks, to find Godrim and, we pray, the sorcerer-king." Qorr's eyebrows rose and the giant dwarf inhaled a slow lungful before letting out a long sigh. "Aye, that's a handful... Just so you know, lad, we haven't seen the ghost for nearly a week now. He could be anywhere!" Kadol looked back at his escort and Joron, who was brushing the snow off his robe, as well as trying to wipe away the phlegm without too much getting on his mittens.

"Yes, it'll be something else. How have things been here?" Qorr's brow sank over his eyes and the dwarf shot the peaks far to the west a terrified gaze. "I'll be honest with you, son. Not a single one of us dared venture out for three days when that demon came back. On the fourth day, old Damorr peeked out ever so slightly - he said he had seen the menace, perched upon the peak like some... Some..." One of the other miners interjected. "Like an eagle stalkin' its prey!" "Well, it -is- an eagle..." Joron muttered, being met with a deathstare from the miners. Kadol felt his heart freeze. Qorr continued, "Aye, like an eagle. In all honestly, lad, we've only kept digging because the sound of pickaxes keeps the thought of that demon out of our heads." Kadol nodded. "We didn't see it on the way, though. Perhaps Godrim got rid of it?" Qorr shook his head. "Nah, we'd have heard his screaming like last time. He's out there, somewhere..." Kadol reached up and put a hand on Qorr's shoulder. "Father, listen. It may be out there - it may be close. Yet it may also be far, far away." Qorr raised an eyebrow. "Your point being?" "You should head back to the Hovel, father. The foreman likely won't mind, considering the amount of iron we've already brought back. You can-!" Qorr scoffed, pushed Kadol's hand off his shoulder and rubbed the dwarf's head. "Your care is heart-warming, lad, but we won't abandon our work just because of one angry bird." At this point, more miners had gathered around. One raised her hand. "Got a question, Ragna?" The dwarves around this Ragna pulled away so she'd be a little more visible. She cleared her throat. "This is a -very- angry bird, though." Hums of agreement and nods permeated the crowd. Qorr sighed. "Aye, it's a very angry bird, but still-!"
"A -big, angry- bird!" another one added. The hums grew louder. Qorr snarled. "Alright, since when did the Steel Union piss their britches at the thought of big, angry birds?!"

Every miner raised their hands. Qorr deflated and looked back down at Kadol. "Alright, I suppose we'll trust that it's off somewhere far away, then... Gods, Quana's going to have my neck." Kadol flashed him a smile and punched his shoulder. "Better that she takes your neck than that menace taking your torso." Qorr grinned back and punched Kadol into the ground - gently, of course. "Right you are, son. Though I have to say, I've missed the stew back home." Kadol grimaced. "Don't get your hopes up. It's probably about as good as the maggot bread you eat here." Qorr muttered angrily to himself. Down the tunnel, Gummar came carrying a box of twelve water skins. "Took you long enough. Alright, son. We'll go with the vote and, uh, head for home, I suppose." He handed Kadol a water skin, while each of the dwarves in the escord and Joron went over to the box and grabbed their own. Gummar personally handed Joron one, which Joron looked at with a deeply suspicious look. Gummar merely grinned innocently at him. Kadol uncorked the skin and took a swig. "Ergh, that tastes like-...!" Qorr and the others erupted into a cackle. "Gotten that used to 'fine Hovel ale' already?! Don't forget your roots, lad! This is the true drink for a Steel union dwarf!" He patted Kadol on the back once more. "Be safe out there, lad. If you don't come back in one piece, I'll give you a proper smacking in the next life, y'hear?" Kadol grinned back. "Alright, father. I'll be safe."

As they marched out of the mines to the sound of farewells and well-wishings, Joron uncorked his water skin and took a swig. He rolled the liquid around in his mouth and hummed pensively to himself. Kadol looked over. "What's wrong, Joron?" The historian looked up and swallowed. "Nothing, nothing... Just awfully warm for a brew stored in a cold mine." Many in the escort snickered. "How's the flavour?" one of them said. "Acidic... Is it a local brew?" The escort burst into a guffaw. "One could say that!" one of them said. Joron grew nervous and poured some out. Upon seeing what colour the snow turned, he chucked the water skin off the side of the cliff. Consequently, the average morale of the group was quite high as they began their walk down the trail and into the unknown. It wasn't long before they came to Godrim's post, that icy wall where the ghost had first been seen. As expected, there was no sign of him to be seen. Tracking a ghost was going to be tricky indeed; all they had to go on was the general direction he'd taken according to the miners that witnessed him leave. They looked again into the icy wall toward the blur deep within that must have been Godrim's frozen body; long streaks of water ran across the surface of the dirty ice like tears rolling down a face. Kadol ran his gloved hand over the surface of the ice and examined it. Some of the icy water soaked through and cooled his fingertips. "What do you think'll happen if all of it melts away?" one of the warriors asked another. "Don't know, brother, though I'd rather that bird be dead before it does." Kadol let out a quiet sigh and turned towards the path Godrim had reportedly taken. Joron, in the meanwhile, was sketching a rough drawing of what the corpse and its prison looked like, chronicling the situation down to the most miniscule of details - or, well, as detailed as he could before the rest of the crew moved on.

None had ever bothered to explore this part of the pass before, far away from the iron vein and the mine as it was. They'd simply never had reason to wander beyond the parts of the mountain that were supposedly under Godrim's watchful guard, though recent events had led a fair few to scratch their heads and wonder if they had been wise in ever trusting the wraith to begin with. What had been little more than an icy goat path in weeks past was now something of a deathtrap, as the melting ice was far slicker than any amount of snow dusted upon the rocky ground. They proceeded slowly and with the utmost caution for fear of falling down into the chasm to their right and join the skeletal trolls below. Eventually (to their relief) the path widened, and the gaping void to their side was no longer so deep and nor was it littered with the jagged points of troll tusks poking out from the snow. But here they were faced with a choice: the trail forked. Before them there was some sort of cavernous opening in the side of the mountain that looked like it had been natural at first, but it had visibly been braced long ago. There were half-rotted scaffolds and pillar supports along the walls and towards the back it looked as though the cave had been artificially widened and turned into some sort of tunnel. Perhaps it led through the mountain and to whatever savage wilderness was on the other side. But the mountain path itself didn't end; it curved off to the side, making its way down into the shallow canyon to their right to snake its way across and then up the mountain on the other side. So they had a choice before them.

Kadol stopped and examined the cave entrance from a distance. "Galloin? You don't know any dwarves that have come this far out, do you?" The warrior known as Galloin stepped up next to Kadol and shook his head. "No, lad. No Hammersworn have ever been this far west from Gol'kharumm. Not ever." As he finished his sentence, Joron came flying past them, scroll and quill in hand. He nearly slipped and fell, but managed to slow down just enough to not crash into the rotting scaffolding. "Gods be good! Are you seeing this?! This must be at least one hundred, no, several centuries old! Built by an entirely unknown civilisation!" The enthusiastic historian made some sketches and notes on multiple pages of parchment, giggling all the while. Galloin also stepped closer and examined the scaffolding. He clicked his tongue disapprovingly. "Old as time itself, aye, and rotten as last month's loaf. I don't trust that construction for a second, Kadol. Let's explore the valley below instead." Joron stopped mid-scribble and shot Galloin a scowl. "Now listen here, you-... Father, with all due respect, this is a historical wonder - one that may lead to ruins and artifacts of a completely different civilisation!" Galloin met the scowl with a frown. "Aye, historical wonder - and - a bloody life hazard! What if that cave collapses after we pass through it - or worse - while we're inside? Who's going to record your precious history then, huh?" Joron scoffed and stepped inside the cave. "Look! I'm inside! Did I mysteriously die? Did the cave collapse yet?" Kadol sighed and shuffled over through the snow. "We have enough dwarves to split up. You take four and go with Joron. I'll take the other five and head down into the valley." Galloin looked surprised, and a little disappointed, but nodded soon after. "Aye, son. You be safe down there. If you encounter any danger, yell as loudly as you can and run back up the hill - we'll come for you right away." Kadol nodded. "Aye, father. Likewise. Good luck." The groups, six dwarves in each, proceeded to head down their separate paths.




For Joron's party, the progress was somewhat painfully slow. A few dwarves had the foresight to bring torches along for the journey, but what precious time they had in the light was constantly wasted as Joron would stop to examine this or that in more detail; there were some abandoned tools but at this point the things were half rust. Fear of being trapped and lost in a dark tunnel eventually overcame curiosity. Despite the scarce and stale air, they advanced down the tunnel at a quick walk until they felt a crisp breeze wafting in to nip at their faces. After a few more turns, they then finally saw natural light spilling into the black tunnels, and then a few minutes later they finally emerged from the long tunnel. They found themselves immediately in yet another rocky, snow-covered place, but here there were at least some trees. The path before them was in a low spot, and even as a light flurry of snow started to fall, there was already some icy water in their path pooling from the melted runoff.



But the trees didn't make for welcome company. They were tall, gnarled, twisting things that blocked half the sunlight and hid the path ahead. Joron, busy sketching the surrounding woods, did not seem to notice the growing tension among his companions.One of the other warriors turned to Galloin: "Oi, brother. You remember if that ghost said anythin' about those troll still bein'... Y'know... Around?" Galloin swallowed and scanned the surrounding woods precariously. "Axes out, lads. Keep your shields ready. Keep an eye on Scrollworm over there." Knowing that the ice trolls lurked somewhere in these wild lands beyond the mountain did very little to ease the dwarves' nerves; one of the trolls could be hiding anywhere! While Joron was poking at a frozen root to examine its properties, the warriors spread out and began to look for good spots to hide - and spots where the enemy potentially could be hiding. Galloin, while peeking over the top of a small heap, found a pit underneath some tree roots, within which laid what seemed to be... Metal? It looked rusty from afar, but a dwarf knew that shine better than its own pockets. He skipped over the top and slid down into the pit to examine the object. While it indeed was rusty to the point of looking like a clump of sparkly mud, there was no mistaking that this likely had once been an axehead. Though he could not decide whether it was of dwarven origin - or something else. A loud gasp came from the other side of the heap. Galloin started and shot back up to see what it was. "An axehead!" Joron exclaimed. He proceeded to sample it in all kinds of ways, from smells to tastes to bits for further analysis. Finally, he stuffed it in his already borderline full artifact bag. "Can you quiet down, you imbecile?!" Galloin hissed in a hushed voice. "We may not be alone in these woods!" Joron gave him a smirk and a scoff. "Look, father, with all due respect once more, I believe, judging from these artifacts, that whatever may have lived here has long since moved on." Galloin muttered angrily to himself. "Then I pray that these weren't intruders into whoever 'lived' here's territory." Joron cleared his throat nervously at that thought. "Let's move on, shall we?" Galloin nodded and gestured for three of the warriors to follow the group in hiding as he, the last warrior and Joron walked the main path.

But for all their paranoia, there seemed to be nothing but forest. The winter must have been unimaginably severe in these parts because there were no animals to be seen and half the trees even looked ragged and hungry. It wasn't hard to believe that some ancient sorcerer-king could be trapped in a waste like this. There were probably dozens of "icy tombs" to be found, if one only knew where to dig. Unfortunately, none of them had the first clue, and Joron wasn't much help in the matter. The thought occured to them that by now they had come a long ways from the tunnel. It would be dark soon enough and finding their way back might prove difficult, especially given that the light flurry of snow from before had continued all day and left enough of a dusting to bury their footprints. And none of them had the delusion to think that Kadol's band (or any other friendly faces) would ever be able to find them out in these parts if they were well and truly lost. Galloin let out a long, drawn-out sigh and looked around. He beckoned one of he hiding warriors over, who skipped over a fallen treetrunk and slid down a slope. "Torr, you seen anything suspicious?" The warrior known as Torr shook his head. "Nothing, brother. Nightfall isn't helping much either. What're you thinking?" Galloin shot Joron the Younger, who had found yet another fancy root to examine, a look. "We'll grab Scrollworm and make our way back to the cave. It should be in the general direction of the peaks to the east, there." Galloin gestured towards the mountains they had come from. Torr nodded and began to gather up the rest of the warriors who had spread out to secure the perimeter. Galloin, in the meantime, went over to Joron and forcefully pulled the young dwarf to his feet. "He-hey! It was chronocling that!" Joron said sourly. Galloin scowled at him. "You've done nothing all day but waste time which we don't have. I don't think you realise what kind of mission this is! Now, I will need you to follow along
- obediently - or we'll be having a word with the foreman when we come home again." Joron scoffed. "What's the foreman going to do, huh?" "He's going to have a word with your father," Galloin retorted. Joron swallowed. "I can't believe I did not see that one coming. Fine, you win. Let's go." Galloin faked a smile and the group began to head back in the general direction of where they had come from. And then they suddenly heard a rustling like that of boots stepping through snow and scattering the dead leaves buried below. The sound was a faint and somewhat distant one, but so alarming that it might as well have been as deafening to them as thunder. Galloin spun around like wound-up catapult rope and his warriors did the same, forming a crescent in front of Joron. With axes raised and shields in front, Galloin gestured for total silence as they listened for a little bit longer to verify the sound. They squinted and looked back and forth, but there was nothing be seen. Galloin frowned and gestured for a slow and steady retreat back the way they came, breaking the crescent formation to opt for a protective ring around Joron, with each warrior being responsible for watching a small sector of the surroundings. Galloin grunted as he backed into the grasping twigs on the end of some treebranch, having been too intent in searching the landscape in front of him for any sign of what might have caused the sound. For a moment there, he started to think that it might have been just their shot nerves, or the wind perhaps. But then as the stupid branch that'd scratched his head snapped back into position, he saw it sway a bit as if it'd hit something on the way back. Something mere feet away from where he stood. His eyes glanced down and saw the faintest outline of footprints pressing into the snow, almost invisible. Suppressing a strange combination of a warcry and a scream, he stopped in his tracks, lifted his axe and shield, and spoke, "I-... Is that... Is that you, Godr
im?" The other warriors reacted similarly, though Joron seemed a little uncertain about the potential effect of iron weaponry against something so incorporeal as a ghost. For whatever it was worth, the 'ghost' didn't seem especially perturbed by their weapons either. There was a quick rush of air and an icy chill that swept across Galloin's face as Godrim's incorporeal hand smacked him. His outline was so faint that it was practically invisible unless you were squinting and nearly on top of him, but for all that he still seemed miffed about being mistaken for anyone else. "Thunderhowler," he affirmed, though his voice was a whisper every bit as faint and faded as his body. "Need to go back 'fore I fade away. You shouldn't be here either." Galloin, who was awfully surprised he hadn't wet himself, let out a sigh of relief and belted his axe. "Thank the gods, it was you, Thunderhowler. You could've said something, you know!" Joron stepped forward. "Godrim Thunderhowler..." He let out an enthusiastic giggle. "It's an honour to finally meet you! I am Joron the Younger, son of Joron the Elder, logmaster of the Copper Union. Pray tell, what has happened to you? I was under the impression that you were, well, quite visible, indeed." Joron did not notice it himself, but he was actually standing behind Godrim's actual footsteps, talking to thin air. He only realized his mistake when he heard Godrim's voice a second time, this time coming from behind where he now stood.

"No time...need to go back," was all of his words that they made out over the whistle of the snow and wind. He seemed to know the way, so they fell in line behind him squinting to keep track of his faded body or the tiny prints that his ethereal boots left upon the snow. Once or twice they nearly lost him, and then he would stomp just loud enough to make another rustling sound, all the while glaring at them as if the exertion was killing him. Perhaps it was. When night came close he visibly quickened his pace. Throughout the trip, Joron tried his best to interview the ghost as much as he could, even though he could barely hear any answers and most of what he could hear involved phrases such as "shut up" and "not now". However, there was especially one question he insisted on, asking it over and over again with ever-growing degrees of pleading: "Can you at least tell us what this place is?" With every step closer to the mountains Godrim seemed to regain a little bit of color and grow ever so slightly more tangible, but of course that wasn't saying much. When they were nearly back, Joron finally got his answer, "Trollheim." Joron swallowed. "Pardon, I do not think I heard correctly. You mean to say that this place - this area - is the home of those tusked creatures in the bottom of the valley?"

"Once was, but now it's too warm," Godrim replied just as a frigid gust blew a few flakes of snow into Joron's eyes and cut through his scraggly beard to numb even the soft skin beneath. That remark killed the conversation, so the party marched on in silence through the dusk until they at last made it back to the tunnel, and only once he was within its entrance did he finally seem to relax. Galloin sent two warriors out to gather whatever firewood they could and proceeded to roll out some sleeping furs just inside the tunnel entrance. Meanwhile, Joron took some time to compile his notes and sketches, while he could still see. Torr was on first watch. He mumbled to himself, something about the troll being mad in the head if they thought -this- was too warm, from what Galloin could hear. "Right. Everyone keeps watch for one hour. That should give each of us five hours of sleep - plenty for tomorrow's trek-..." Joron looked up, grimacing nervously. "Wait, five hours... Does that mean I, too, have to..." Galloin smirked. "I did say everyone, didn't I? Where's your axe, lad?" Joron, in spite of the cold, began to sweat. "Uh, uhm... I... May have left it back.. In the... Hovel." The last word was said just loud enough to be considered an audible sound, but to Galloin, it was as loud as a pickaxe striking rock. He let out a long sigh that twisted itself into a groan halfway through. "You truly are your father's son, I'll give you that," he said sourly. "Fine. Joron may sleep all night - we're probably safer without him on watch, anyway." With that, the warrior curled up in his sleeping furs to get whatever sleep he could. Joron gave Galloin an angry glare, but paid him little mind. He instead turned to Godrim, quill, parchment and even a wax candle ready. "So, Godrim Thunderhowler, I, uh, hope I may ask you a few more questions still," he said in as diplomatic a tone as he could. He did not really wait for an answer. "Alright, firstly, what in the gods' names were you doing all the way out here? Considering that this is troll country and all, and that the Abductor has been seen lately, why did you come out here?"

"I..." he started, before falling silent. This drew the attention of the other dwarves. "I didn' go out there, not at first. Climbed up the other mountain tryin' to chase off that damned bird, but it wasn't there." The firewood gatherers came back at that point, immediately preparing a fire. They did read the mood rather quickly, however, and did their work in silence. Joron probed further. "Why did you end up here, then? Does the menace nest up here?" He was met with a blank stare. "Is... Is that a yes? No? A curt nod, perhaps? You're honestly a bit hard to read, being all-..." Joron stopped himself and tried to come up with a good rephrased version of the question. "I recall reading something you said before, regarding the bird's relationship to these 'trolls'... You said they worshiped it. Is it... Is it bound to something in this place? Something tangible? Perhaps..." Joron paused. "... Destructible?"

Godrim rubbed his head. "Hard for me to think right now...Can't remember much. What're you going on about?" Joron shook his head, realising the spirit may be too weak to answer. "Nevermind. I'm asking too much. Although, I will ask this: Have you always been able to leave your post?"

"Aye, but I don' feel good when I do. Dunno how the magic works, but it doesn' hold me very tight if I leave the mountains here. I get too far from my body and those runes they cut into it..." Joron's and other dwarves' eyes widened. "Ye mean, tha' wasn' in the ice?" one of the warriors asked in a terrfied voice. Joron jotted some notes down quickly, seeing the paper thanks to his candle. "If I may ask, do you recall anything about the Sorcerer-King?" Even Galloin had given up trying to sleep at this point.

"Ole King Iden? He ruled a dozen o' these mountains and that wood in the foothills. Met him a few times meself! Did I...know him while I was alive? Or only after I..." he stopped himself. "Not sure. Hard to keep the details straight after so long. They smudge and blur, jus' like faces. Haven't been able to remember me mother's own face for a long, long time." Joron felt like he was learning history all over again, and felt all giddy. "Alright, alright. One more question, if I may..." He marked a new paragraph on his parchment with a dot of ink. "Do you know where this king Iden is now?"

It was almost as if Godrim hadn't even heard the question as he began to ramble, "But some faces can't be forgotten. One stands out like that. Iden's wife, pretty lass with hair the color o' straw and a babe in each arm. Never gonna forget the tears on her face; 'tis burned into my mind. She wept and wept for days when we heard that the King had been killed by trolls. That's where he went, lad! Dead!" Joron nearly dropped his quill. The other dwarves looked at each other with disappointment carving frowns into their faces. "Wait, what? The sorcerer-king is... Is dead?" Joron said in disbelief. "That... That cannot be right! No, the log specifically states that he was imprisoned!"

Something in the ghost's demeanor had been quietly changing over the last few moments, and now there was a cruel glow to his eyes that none of them had seen before. "The log? What, are you one o' them mystics that toss a heap o' sticks into a fire and try to divine the ashes? Ha, your stupid magic's wrong, boy. I've seen the king, and he was frozen as my limp body in that hole!" The other dwarves grew uneasy at Godrim's tone and slowly, but surely, began to prepare for something, anything, just in case the ghost decided it would no longer act all that friendly. Joron, however, did not back down from his pursuit of knowledge. "Where did you see him? Please, we must find him and see for ourselves! He may be our only hope of recovering the lost arts of runesmithing!"

"Ahaha!" he guffawed, the laughter echoing eerily in the tunnel. "I don't think you know what you're askin' for, boy. I can guide you to the icy cave where the trolls trapped him, aye. You could even touch the hoarfrost on his beard with yer own fingers, if that's what your little heart wants," he said, "but it's it's out there all the way in Trollheim. A day and a half's journey, at least. Perhaps I could survive the trip again, perhaps not. But you, you green little summer boy? Ha!" Joron looked at his companions. Galloin shook his head. "We don't have to, lad. We'll just tell the others back home that we couldn't find him." Joron ran a hand through his short, chestnut beard in a pensive manner, and then promptly shook his head back at Galloin. "We're too close now, father. We're standing on the very edge next to a chasm of history. Behind us is the safety of home, yes, but to uncover the truth - we must leap into the chasm below." The warriors looked at one another, each one looking increasingly less motivated to follow Joron and the ghost. "Look, son, we-..."

"Take us there, Thunderhowler," Joron interrupted.

"Are you so eager to die?" The ghost looked the band up and down, then trained his white eyes solely upon Joron. "Soon," he promised, "but not yet. I'll have to recover, and you don't have the numbers for such an expedition. There are bears out there big enough to swallow you whole, and worse things too. You think they'll fear four or five dwarves? Ha!" Joron nodded. "Not to worry. Tomorrow, we'll take you back to recover and then look for the others-!" Galloin, having had enough, lobbed a snowball at Joron's face, hitting the young dwarf square on the forehead. "Right! That's enough out of you. You've stuck enough sticks in our wheel for today. Godrim Thunderhowler, you are free to leave at any time. Pay this one no mind. He didn't mean to be an annoyance, like he always is. We'll look for our companions tomorrow and meet you back at your post -after- discussing this with them." There was a pinch of desperation in his voice, as well as a whole cup of terror.

"So be it," Godrim answered. "I have half a mind to return to my post right now and stave off these pains, but if you need me to help keep vigil through the night..." Galloin shook his head swiftly. "Oh, as much as we appreciate you wishing to help us, we will be fine, worry not. The gods know that you have truly deserved to return home and, uh, rest! You are, after all, always keeping watch. 'Tis about time you got a break." Joron tried to interject, but the warrior closest to him, one named Ax, punched him hard in the gut, silencing whatever words the young dwarf tried to say.

Their attempts to silence Joron hadn't escaped Godrim; the wraith's white eyes flickered over to Ax for a second, and the warrior thought he saw a few specks of jet black drift across the empty orbs like black soot in a snowstorm. But then Thunderhowler just let out a grim chuckle as he walked down the tunnel and disappeared into the darkness deeper in. "I... I saw..." Ax's face had gone pale as snow. The two warriors apart from Galloin went over to tend to him, while Galloin gave Joron a glare that mixed rage and fear. "Have you completely lost your mind, lad?" Joron, still recovering from the punch, met the glare with a vicious scowl. "I could say the same about you," he spat furiously. "You let the key to our salvation walk down that corridor! There was still so much he hadn't told us!" Galloin's eyes betrayed a considerable amount of concern. "Oh, you foolish child..." He shook his head and went over to Ax as well, checking up on the now weeping warrior. Joron scoffed angrily, got to his feet and stormed outside to take the guard shift after all.

"Naive, foolish child."




The next morning, Galloin awoke to the sound of metal scraping against stone. He sat up and saw Torr in the middle of packing up his equipment. Galloin gave the dwarf a pensive look and kicked him gently in the shin. Torr looked over and nodded. "You're up early," Galloin whispered. Torr thumbed over his shoulder at the early beams of sunlight poking over the hilltops. "We ought to head back, brother. No need to stay 'ere in Trollheim any longer than we have to." Galloin grunted in agreement. "Wake up Scrollworm and Ax. I'll tell Undar to come back from his post." Torr got to his feet and strolled over to the opposite wall of the tunnel, where Joron the Younger had fallen asleep with a wax candle in hand, causing his gloved hand to be covered in now stiffened wax. The warrior gave the young dwarf a gentle punt. When that had little effect, the punt turned into a proper kick. After connecting with Joron's left side, the dwarf catapulted sideways, gasping for air. "Agh! Ow! What the curses was that for?!" Torr smirked. "Wakey-wakey, son. We're headin' back." Joron shot him a scowl and rubbed his side gently. In a few minutes, the group had packed up and were making their way back down into the tunnels.

Upon their arrival back at the crossroads, the group took a moment to look around. Their tracks from the day before had vanished as new snow had dusted them over. Godrim's footprints were nowhere to be seen, either. Joron looked at the path leading back towards home, towards Godrim's post. There were still so many questions he wanted answered. If only he could-...

"Joron! We're heading down. Keep moving so you don't freeze." Joron turned to see Galloin waiting for him as the other three made their way down the mountainpath. The historian groaned and followed. As they went down the slope, more than once did he slip on the treacherously wet rocks covered in melting ice. Besides the pain and the snickers that he endured from each fall, there was also that his clothes became damp. The other weren't quite as miserable, but they hardly seemed happy either. Eventually the ground flattened as they made their way down from the high pass and into the western part of the gulch that stretched on for a few miles before meeting with that part that they'd taken to calling the Valley of Tusks. They weren't stepping through bones where they were, but the snowdrifts were obstacle enough. The other mountain loomed over them. Some squinted and tried to make out the faint silhouettes of Kadol and his band somewhere up on those sheer slopes, but they saw nothing but rock and snow on that mountain from their position in the valley below. Galloin let his eyes sweep across the landscape of the valley. It was an awfully linear path, beginning on the hilltop they had just descended and continuing rather straight forward, as far as he could see. There weren't many trees around here either. He looked back at the path they had come from again. There seemed to be no hidden caves nor tunnels that the others potentially could have found. He beckoned Ax over. "Brother, are you feeling better?" Ax gave a shaky nod and hammered his shield with his knuckle. "Good," said Galloin. "I want you to run ahead and look for any campsites in that part of the valley." He pointed to the part to his front-left, the half of the valley which had considerably more snowdrifts than the other half. Ax nodded and picked up his speed, swiftly disappearing between the drifts. "Undar, you take the right." The dwarf nodded. "Right," Undar said and sprinted across the snowy plains to the group's right, soon gone from sight. Joron, Torr, Galloin and the third warrior, who Joron had learned was called Ygg, continued on ahead. After walking through the valley for less than an hour, Undar returned. "Didn't find any campsites, brother," he admitted. Galloin nodded and shot the left side a look. The snowdrifts crowded the plains like trees in a forest - they had likely set up camp there. "Ygg, head over there and assist Ax. If you find anything, look for Ax and come back to report." Ygg nodded and sprinted off. Joron sat down in the snow with a groan. Galloin rolled his eyes and placed his shield front-down in the snow to act as a barrier between his bottom and the icy surface. After several minutes of silence, Joron spoke. "He would not have hurt us." Galloin had to take some time to place the context, but realised quickly what he was talking about. "You do not know that. Nobody's had a longer than fifteen minute conversation with that ghost before. Nobody knows how he will react." Another minute passed. "He would not have hurt us." Galloin groaned. "Look, son, I'm getting really tired of your-!"

"They're here!" Galloin looked up. Ax peeked out from one of the snowdrifts and waved the group over. They swiftly got to their feet and followed the warrior in between the drifts. After roughly fifteen minutes of walking, they came upon a large snowpile in which someone had dug a nice, dwarf-size hole. Out the hole first came Ygg, smiling from ear to ear. Afterwards, Kadol came out, followed by his five companions. "They made it all homelike and nice in there," Ygg said happily. Kadol's companions grinned at the praise. "So, did you find anything?" Kadol asked. Joron stepped forward. "We found Godrim. He's back at his post now." Kadol and his group let out a collective sigh of relief. "Ah, thank the gods," Kadol said, patting his forehead with the hem of his shirt. "Did he tell you why he left his post?" Joron grunted. "Aye, he was looking for the menace, but he was very weakened when we found him." Kadol raised a brow. "Weakened? He can be weakened?" "Apparently. How about we make our way back towards his post? He has promised to lead us to the sorcerer-king!" Kadol grinned from ear to ear. "Fantastic! I knew he would help us! Let's move with haste!" Meanwhile, Galloin had shared the details with the five other warriors. The uncertainty brewing among the ten kept them silent as the twelve companions returned to Godrim's post by the Western Mines.

They found him in his favored spot, leaning against the icy nook in the mountainside just off the path. The ice looked frozen solid as ever. Godrim glanced over as they approached, then seemed to smile a bit when he recognized Kadol. "Ah, some faces ye don't forget," he muttered under his breath. Looking as though the effort was taxing him, he called out to Kadol, "Aye, there's me favorite lad. I haven't been feeling meself these past few days. Come on, get over here a little bit closer." Kadol grinned at the sight of the ghost and shuffled over, Joron trailing him closely with scroll and quill in hand. "Father Godrim Thunderthroat, it's a joy to see you again. Aye, I heard you'd been unwell. Are you better now?"

"Jus' a bit," he answered somewhat vaguely. Close as he was, Kadol saw the ghost's eyes quickly dart away from his own and toward the sheer precipice mere feet away, then back to him. "I need you to do somethin' for me, lad..." Kadol raised an eyebrow and nodded. "Of course, father. What can we help you with?" Galloin grimaced and walked over to Kadol. "Be careful, son," he whispered to him.

But the sound was overpowered when Godrim suddenly shouted, "Back!" Galloin and the warriors stepped back and reached for their axes; Joron cracked a smirk and Kadol's eyes widened in surprise.

A crazed look was in his eyes, but it went away from he looked back to Kadol. "Two things, lad," he corrected himself. "They can't hear what I'm 'bout to say. Tell 'em to walk into the mine." Kadol looked to the warriors and Joron and then back to Godrim. "But... But why can't they hear it, too?"

"Yer the only one I trust well enough. The only one that I really know." Galloin took a few careful steps closer. "You don't have to do this, lad. We'll find another way to the sorcerer-king--"

"He does!" Godrim shouted again. "Or yer all good as dead." The group recoiled. Godrim, meanwhile, was trembling as his eyes darted among the others. Kadol felt beads of sweat form on his forehead. He then lifted a hand to Galloin and smiled nervous. "Don't worry for me, father. He won't hurt me." Galloin frowned, holding a hand on the shaft of his axe. "Lad, dont-..." "It's fine, father. Go inside. I won't be long." Galloin recoiled again and, with a worried frown on his face, guided his warriors inside the mine, one of them dragging Joron along by the collar of his robes. Kadol turned back to Godrim, his face betraying considerable worry. "What has happened, father?"

"Didn't find the bird up on that mountain. Found some troll. He did somethin' to me. Somethin' real bad," Godrim muttered with a half mad look on his face. "You got to break the ice." Kadol stepped back and scanned the eyes, his hands trembling. "But... But won't breaking the ice cause you to disappear?"

Godrim leaned away from the wall, stretching far as he could without taking his fingertips off the ice. He clutched the ice as if it was the one thing keeping him from going mad. "If yer lucky," he said. "Might have to smash me body too. To destroy the runes." Kadol took some time to absorb the sight. "You're trapped, aren't you. But... But who will defend us from the Abductor, then?!"

"Boy, me words and thoughts ain't me own. Hard to fight it, hard to even think when I look at those others. Soon the enemy might have me in their fingertips, servin' them." Turning away for a moment, Kadol bit at his fingernails as he thought about the possible outcomes. "Without you, we're lost, Thunderhowler! We cannot find the sorcerer-king without your guidance! How will we defeat the Abductor?!"

"I don't think you want to find that damned sorcerer, son. The trolls are waitin' for you out there by his tomb. They showed me where it was, 'cause they wanted me to bring you there..." "The log was right, then... The part of the passage we wanted, though, wasn't." He eyed the mine entrance in the distance and turned back to Godrim. "I... I believe you, father. We will-... Will... Break the ice." Kadol's voice cracked somewhat.

"Not 'we'," the ghost said. "You. If the others come, I won't be able to stop myself. I'll fight back and howl, and you'll all be dead." Kadol swallowed, looked to the mines again and nodded. He eyed his spear for a moment. He did not want to runinto the mines to steal a pickaxe and risk being seen, so the spear would have to do. With a running start, the young dwarf aimed to ram the spear straight into the centre of the ice wall, just under the corpse's chest. The magical ice shattered like glass and Godrim fell to his knees heaving. Kadol heard voices from the mines as the loud glass-like shattering probably was quite an alien sound in these parts. He swiftly knelt down by the ghost. "Godrim! Speak to me!"

The ancient dwarf softly chuckled as pale, ethereal blood seeped out of his mouth. "Well done," were his last words, and then he began to fade away. But there was a mote of darkness in his pallid form, and it didn't vanish with the rest. It writhed and it hissed, like a snake plucked from its dark hole and thrust into the sun. Kadol recoiled as the black mote fell into the snow, laying there like an animated clump of coal. The others had made their way over. Joron, face white with horror, fell to his knees before the shattered wall with the speared corpse inside. "What... What have you done?" Kadol, whose face was streaked with tears, turned to Joron just in time to receive a hard punch in the gut, followed by one in the throat. Soon, the historian had tackled Kadol to the ground and got at least three more punches in before Galloin and Ax managed to pull him off. "You utter imbecile! You curse from heaven! You clog in the fountain of knowledge!" Joron kept spitting every insult his well-versed mind could think of.

As they bickered, the viscous black fluid that had escaped Godrim's fading body began to flow towards the cliff's edge. Kadol, already on the ground, sat up and touched his swelling eye. He spotted the black, snake-like spot slithering towards the edge. Whether it was instinct or just his mind being in disarray after taking some punches, the young dwarf grabbed his empty waterskin and, as precisely as he could in his state, tried to shovel the handful of snow with the black spot into it. The patch of darkness didn't seem to understand what was happening until the waterskin was closed and it realized that it had been trapped. At that point, a bloodcurdling hissing began to emerge from inside the vessel, but whatever evil lurked within it was unable to escape. The vicious hissing caught the attention of the bickering crowd, who all fell silent at what sounded like a lit fuse. Qorr Coal stepped forward. "What've you got in there, son?" Kadol staggered to his feet again and looked at the waterskin. He then looked at the dwarves gathered around.

"We will not seek the sorcerer-king." Joron redoubled his cursings. Some of the dwarves exchanged confused glances. Galloin, Ax, Torr, Ygg and Undar all seemed very satisfied with that order, however. Kadol held up the waterskin. "What I have trapped in here is.. Is..." He looked at the skin again. "Alright, I have no idea -what- it is, but we will bring it back to the Hovel for study. Perhaps we can use it to find out who was responsible for corrupting Godrim, for corrupted, he had become." Kadol swallowed. His companions, save the kicking Joron, of course, seemed rather content with that decision. Galloin handed Joron's one arm to Ygg and stepped over to Kadol, placing a reassuring palm on the young dwarf's shoulder. "Aye, lad. Let's head home."
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Pyromaniacwolf
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The Lycan Covenant


This was a problem. Vlath pondered the reports of this attack and the great rhinomen before he summoned forth each of his tribe leaders to his tent where he passed the information on for those not already informed. The group of tribe leaders burst into argument and suggestions causing one of the guards, generally used to fairly passive discussions between the leaders, poked his head through the rabbit hide entrance of the tent only to see the leaders unharmed and Grash glaring daggers at the curious soldier who proceeded to quickly make his exit.

The arguing continued for hours, specifically between Goldtooth and Bloodfang. Bloodfang called for his forces to be unleashed upon the beasts with an eagerness that could be mistaken for zeal but was more than likely bloodlust "My warriors are more than capable of obliterating these fools! Great voidcaller, lend me your mighty guardians and I will see to it that our enemy does not last to see another full moon!"

"Your warriors vastly outnumbered the beasts Bloodfang, did you actually listen to the report given to us? Your warriors vastly outnumbered these beasts yet two of them fell and another was injured." Goldtooth responded with a rather smug tone before turning to Vlath "Voidcaller, I propose we fortify the areas along the river near the new location of Wulfhelm and then a location south of it in order to ensure these beasts cannot simply jump upon us in the middle of the night. Sending out warriors to die needlessly is a foolish errand, I'm sure the Gods will understand a more pragmatic approach to destroying their enemies."

In the end after the bickering between the two sides, Goldtooth won out and it was agreed that a force of 2 Bloodfang packs and a Goldtooth builder pack would travel along the river and build some simple wooden fortifications, mainly consisting of wooden stakes to be planted into the ground to prevent the rhinomen charging as easily even if they managed to get onto dry land, the same would be done to the south of Wulfhelm to ensure it was well defended. The rhinomen bodies would have to wait for now although Mex was instructed to continue sending out scout packs and retrieve the bodies of the rhinomen if possible.

Once Vlath had removed the other leaders from his tent he beckoned Goldtooth forwards to speak with him "Goldtooth, I have concerns about our warriors ability to defeat enemies as powerful as this. If our warriors are to be believed they are even stronger than Bloodfang warriors, but we cannot and will not give up. To this end you will work with bloodfang warriors to create a weapon that will aide in the defeat of these creatures from a safe distance. Now go and carry out your task." with a bow, Basir Goldtooth left the camp with new inventions already in his mind.

Basir Goldtooth
Goldtooth awoke the next day with his Voidcallers orders fresh in his mind. He called one of his messengers into his rather humble tent and ordered them to find one of the Bloodfang warriors who had battled with the rhinomen earlier. When he returned with the warrior, despite the look of distrust on the warriors face, he sat him in his tent and he convinced him to explain the rhinomen to him.
"Big creatures, thick skin and a horn. If you get close they can crush you or stab you. Saw it myself. Not nice." The Bloodfang spoke simply, as did most of his tribe. Literacy was not exactly valued highly in the clan of warriors. After the rather simple description and some discssuion as to how that particular warrior would have thought to kill him, Goldtooth dismissed the warrior and began to ponder. If these beasts were as the warrior said, they did not seem to have any weapons. Perhaps they did not even wear armour. Bows would be effective, however that was a weapon mostly used by the Silentpaw and required finesse to master that most lycans simply did not have. An axe or club would require a lycan to move too close to the beasts...perhaps a weapon with a greater reach? That would also allow lycans hiding behind the spiked Vlath desired to be set out to attack safely as well! With that, Goldtooth quickly ran to his messenger yet again and gave the order "You there! Round up a group of my servants and have them fetch me as much basalt as they can carry!" Truly Goldtooth would have preferred to have an established quarry before he began transporting the newly discovered stone to Wulfhelm, but he needed something to make these new weapons from.

As Goldtooth waited he began carving rather simple wooden spears from the lumber available and offered them to any Bloodfang warrior who would accept them to train with, telling them it would give a great advantage against any large beast.



Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Kho
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The ap-Cantar





And the spear was raised high, the wickerwork shield was set upon the head, feet beat at the earth, and the war shout rose resoundingly. The warriors were gathered, all one-hundred and ninety of them, and the two qoljulas left behind by the most noble Hiwcantar, wily Miksuin and stalwart Furrayn, stood before them and were in all ways glorious. And the foremost warriors of Tilaticantar revelled in the all-consuming power and might granted them by GREAT Cantar, and the war roar enveloped them and caused the fires that lusted after battle to rise even within them.

And Furrayn spoke. 'It has reached you, and they know best who have seen with the twain,' and he gestured to his eyes, 'that the Mewaris are an evil lot. What begins in evil is destined for nothing other than evil. Look how they cast out their weak, and how we take them in and welcome them - for it has come down through our chieftain Hiwcantar that GREAT Cantar has made the riverfolk as one with us - and we are endlessly merciful to our own, unapologetically cruel against all others, fierce in battle, gracious in victory. We have been gracious to them in victory because they are our brothers yet, despite their crimes and heresy. But they are as the rabid dog that ravages the hand that seeks to discipline and feed, and so that hand must now become the one that puts them out. We shall put them out!'

The declaration was met with hard, determined stares and nods, a few warriors beat the ground with the butts of their spears. Furrayn turned on Miksuin and the two nodded to one another before Furrayn raised his spear and shouted for his warriors to go forth. Some eighty warriors set out with the qoljula. Some days of travel later and they found themselves staring out at what remained fo the town of the Mewaris from the long grass at the bank of the Tala.

'They are dogs, and shall be hunted as dogs.' Furrayn declared, splitting his jula up into units of ten and commanding them to track and hunt down these brigands. 'Capture them alive and deliver them to the villages up the river. If you must kill them then do so, and deliver their bodies up. That all may know that we are the punishers and that we here are the protectors. They who incur our wrath can hope for no protection, and they whom we protect may fear no punishment!'

And so it was.
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Turn 11




The Lycan Covenant



Attolia



The Mustaqilun Tribe



Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn



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Orr'gavol: The Hammersworn - Turn 11





“Sons of the Hammersworn - welcome home!” roared Osman with thunderous glee. The Great Hall burst into celebration upon the return of the expedition company. Osman stood at the far end of the council table, arms open and mouth grinning. He was flanked by all the other councillors, even old Khyber Tin, all of whom were applauding the brave warriors. The tables were stacked high with dishes, pots and plates full of spring’s bounty and the labours of many a starving dwarf. The crew’s faces betrayed a deep shame through their faked smiles, though it seemed the surrounding crowds had not noticed. The twelve dwarves lined up before the councillors, Kadol and Joron the Younger placing themselves in the middle, flanked by five warriors on each side.

“What do I do? What do I say?” Kadol whispered desperately to Galloin, who stood at attention next to him. The golden-haired warrior shook his head. It was clear that he did not have an answer. Kadol felt beads of sweat form on his face and he looked left to see Joron the Younger, still furious. His brow had hung low over his eyes from the mines and home, and not even the scents of fresh food had done much to soothe the young dwarf’s rage. Kadol took a deep breath and lifted his arms to accept a brotherly hug from the chuckling foreman. He received some hard slaps on the back and some kisses, too, none of which he felt he deserved.

“Now, our sons - tell us the tale of your travels!” Osman said. There was a long pause, only broken by the occasional call from the back for Kadol to speak up. Every time he opened his mouth, Kadol felt himself choke. After a minute or two, he had managed to form a coherent sentence in his head, but as he opened his mouth to speak, Galloin stepped forth.

“Good foreman, if it is not too much to ask - we have travelled far and barely rested. The trek has been hard on us all, especially the lads. If we could, let us eat first - then we will share our tale.”

There was an audible groan from the crowd. Osman and the councillors looked disappointed as well, but the foreman shrugged and raised his hands.

“So be it! Let the feast begin!”

The following two hours rang loud with clanking mugs and the dropping of cutlery on the floor. Only the councillors were permitted to eat off of the clay plates that had been saved after the Calamity - the rest of the dwarves ate off of slices of bark and grain bread. Today, everyone got a taste of actual grain ale - a small batch made from what little remain of Heel’s grain. The mood was higher than it had been since the days before the Calamity. Grain porridge, smoked fish, even some cave mushrooms that the Qorr and the iron miners had brought with them - all culminated in a feast to rival the gods’ atop Golumnar. The ten warriors had all returned to their respective unions, being greeted with hugs, kisses and triumphant cries at each of their tables. Kadol and Joron the Younger were invited to eat with the councillors, but neither said a single word during the meal. Then, as the plates began to empty, a rhythmic rumble started at the far end of the hall, supported by a quiet word. Kadol could not make out what was being said, but as more and more joined the drumming and chanting, his face drained of colour.

“Tale, tale, tale, TALE, TALE!” the dwarves around the hall all chanted. The foreman stood up chuckling and walked over to Kadol’s chair, pulling the young, reluctant dwarf out of it forcefully. Kadol was dragged along and placed squarely in the middle of the hall for all to see. As dwarves in the hall quieted one another down with hushing and smacking, Kadol took in a deep breath. He had spent the last two hours preparing for this. He had a reasonable story prepared now, he thought.

“Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers - I will not lie. Our trek was… Our trek was long and arduous. It took the strength of everyone among us to make it as far as we did; however, in return for our efforts, we made it far beyond where any Hammersworn has ever set foot.” The Great Hall was quiet as the grave - for possibly the first time in Hammersworn history, every dwarf present focused their entire attention on the young lad. This fact did not help Kadol’s nervousness in the slightest. Nevertheless, he pressed on.

“Beyond the mines and Godrim’s post, we came upon a crossroads, where our party was split. My half went into the valleys below the mountains, and Galloin’s half went up into the hills.” He paused for a moment and bit his lip. He breathed in and continued. “Unfortunately, neither of us found anythi-...”

There was a screetch of wood against stone from the councillor table, followed by some angry, inaudible chattering. Soon, Joron the Younger stood across the hall from Kadol, furious eyes burning like hot coals. He raised a finger and pointed at Kadol, who froze. Murmurs sprung to life among the crowds.

“Liar!” Joron the Younger screamed. Kadol, as well as a good number of dwarves in the crowd, recoiled.

“Wuh-... What?” Kadol managed to blurt out before Joron the Younger once again shouted, “Liar!” Joron the Elder, face red with embarrassment and rage came rushing over. “Have you had too much to drink, boy?! Let the lad finish his-”

“He is lying, father! We -did- find something!” The Jorons’ eyes both widened. Kadol had at this point recoiled to the point where he was leaning on the Earth Union table, surrounded by curious and confused farmer dwarves. The councillors all stood up. The warriors, led by Galloin, all flocked to Kadol.

“What did you find, then?” said Joron the Elder, his annoyance complemented by curiousity. The Younger glared at Kadol. “Say it,” he snarled. “Tell them what you did.” Kadol felt his world collapse around him and nearly lost his balance. As he attempted to control his rapid breathing, Galloin grabbed his arm and hoisted him to his feet.

“We had no choice,” Galloin said. “We found Godrim as a mere fragment of himself, deep into enemy lands. He told us that he had been cursed by a cruel troll.” There were gasps and glance exchanges in the crowd. The warrior continued. “The ghost we knew was no more. He had all but lost his memory, and when we found him again at his post…” He hesitated.

“SAY IT!” Joron the Younger shouted, now being restrained by his father and Ra’ol Cave.

“He told me to kill him,” Kadol whimpered.

“Speak up, boy! What did you do?!” Khyber Tin roared through toothless gums.

“I killed Godrim Thunderhowler!” Kadol screamed, tears flowing down his face. There was a long pause. Not even the breaths of the dwarves were audible. Finally, Osman stepped forward, his face betraying a dumbstruck desperation.

“I gave you a mission, lad, to go find the only dwarf who could help us against the menace…” He sucked a long breath through grit teeth. “... And you murder him…” He looked to Galloin and the warriors.

“Arrest him,” he said. The warriors hesitated. Galloin, still holding the now-limp Kadol, shook his head defiantly.

“Foreman, Joron tells only the partial truth-”

“Did he or did he not murder the ghost?!” the foreman roared.

“It was not murder! It was mercy!” the warrior boomed back. The other warriors echoed the statement. Osman rumbled angrily and turned to Joron the Younger.

“Why, exactly, did he murder the ghost?” the foreman inquired in a sinister voice. The restrainers loosened their grips on the young Joron and stepped forth.

“The ghost apparently told him to, foreman. However, I doubt the motive was anything beyond cowardice in the face of the mission beyond his retrieval.” He stabbed a finger in Kadol’s direction. “This one did not -wish- to find the sorcerer king, and so murdered the ghost to avoid it!”

“N-no! That isn’t true!” Kadol said, his voice quivering. The foreman quieted the rambling from the crowd. “Speak up, boy!”

“I swear, foreman! He commanded me to kill him! He was not himself! He was sick-!”

“Or!” Joron the Younger retorted. “He could have been feeling weakened from being so far away from his body for so long. Did you ever consider that?” Kadol tried to speak, but found that his mouth produced no sound.

“He was dangerous!” Galloin snapped at Joron. “He could have killed us all with a single roar.”
“And yet…” The voice was familiar, but this time it was Joron the Elder who spoke. “Instead of leaving him to be to see if he would return to his senses, you had him destroyed.” He sneered at Galloin, who glared back.

“Stay out of this, scrollworm. You weren’t there.”

The old dwarf patted his son on the shoulder and snickered. “That is right. I wasn’t, yet my eyes were, and my eyes are saying that the hero of our people did not meet the expectations laid upon his shoulders.” He gave Kadol a disapproving glare. “Congratulations, son. You were sent to find an additional saviour to the one we had - and you return with nothing new and having killed the old.”

“He could have killed us!” Galloin repeated.

“A potential danger in exchange for a definite lack of safety,” the Logmaster declared. There was a silence.

“B-... But… He was sick…” Kadol no longer managed to produce any noise beyond a meek whisper. However, in a flash of memory, he realised something. He stabbed a hand into his pockets and pulled out a flask.

“Wait! I have proof! I have proof that he was sick!” he screamed, silencing once more the now bickering masses. Joron the Elder scoffed, but Joron the Younger remained attentive. Kadol shook the flask and it hissed as before. In the silence of the hall, it was as audible as a storm. Joron the Elder’s smirk turned dumbstruck.

“What… What is in there?” he asked.

“Likely a weak base and something sour,” Erima Rock proposed. Several of her unionists hummed in agreement.

“I-... I will not uncork the flask, for I have no idea what it will do to all of us if release.” Kadol found himself stepping back in vain, as he still leaned up against the table. “All I can say is that it is a black speck with a mind of its own.” There was another pause, followed by a roaring laughter from most of the dwarves presence, with the exception of the councillors and the expeditioners. Joron the Elder stepped forth, snatched the flask from Kadol’s hands and inspected it without uncorking it. He placed it to his head and listened to the seething noise within. He grunted and turned to the foreman.

“There is something in here…” Osman raised his brow and grunted. “So what? Would you like to study it?” he rumbled. The Logmaster nodded.

“While he may have eliminated the only guardian of our people, he deserves a fair trial. If what is within this flask turns out to be a spirit disease, then he will walk free and we will all be wiser - perhaps even able to learn what happened to the ghost.” However, as much as the Logmaster spoke kind words about Kadol, he finished with a scowl at the young dwarf.
“If not, he will work in the penal mines until his last day.” Kadol felt himself go limp again, causing Galloin to stagger as he tried to keep the lad afoot. The foreman nodded slowly.

“So be it. The Copper, Glass and Phosphorous Unions will study this ‘disease’,” the foreman decreed. The second he did so, the doors burst open to reveal a winded Qorr Coal. As every present dwarf turned to him, the colossal dwarf tried with great effort to form a coherent sentence in between ragged breaths. He was quickly followed by Gummar, who evidently had much better endurance.

“The Abductor’s back!” the miner yelled. There was a pause so all could process the statement, followed by cries of panic from both children and adults. It took every councillor’s commands for peace, order and quiet, as well as six gong-like metal pans slammed by Khyber Tin before the crowds finally calmed. Osman stepped up to the centre of the hall. He barked furious curses to himself as he walked.

“I don’t know about you, sisters and brothers, but I am getting really gods-damned tired of that cursed chicken!” He took a swig of ale and smashed his tankard against the floor, breaking it into a thousand pieces. He stepped over to the hearth in the centre of the room and grabbed one of the long knives ideally used when preparing roast boar and raised it into the air.

“No! This time, we fight back!”

The dwarves in the crowd looked puzzled. Osman groaned.

“I want javelins, axes, shields and spears! We will rout that bird from the Western Mine come spring! Let us show it the sharpness of Hammersworn steel!”

Some in the crowd let out triumphant cheers, but a good number still remained quiet. Osman snarled.

“Aye!” The councillors and the crowd looked to the councillor table, where it turned out that Khyber Tin had been sitting all along. The old dwarf got to his shaky feet with some help from Roka.

“Aye, I say!” His sentiment spread through the crowds like fire through dry grass. Soon, more and more echoed in agreement. Osman grinned from ear to ear.

“Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters - TO THE FORGE!”

There was a collective roar as every Union charged out the Great Hall to prepare for the great battle in the future.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Pyromaniacwolf
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The Lycan Covenant


Vlath paused for the moment as his lycan warriors stood, ready for war. Despite his militias new weaponry and the aid of the void champions, he was uncertain a direct conflict was the wisest way to victory, yet the voidcaller had a plan. Vlad turned to one of the warriors to his left and quickly said "You there, to Seagard quickly! Instruct the bloodfang warriors to fortify the walls and to be ready for an assault! Tell them if they themselves are not attacked and these heathens begin to cross the bridge they must strike them in the rear! Move quickly now, with the speed of the gods in your step!" before quickly making a short blessing for the warriors quick travel and turning his attention to the rest of the warriors.

"Brothers and Sisters, our foe has revealed themselves! They wish to purge us and our gods from this new world! They do not understand our Gods are all the holds back a tide of destruction from the deep! We must destroy them for the sake of not only our Gods but for our new home! If the heathens begin to assault Seagard then we shall rush them from behind and obliterate their ranks! If they are so foolish as to cross the bridge the champions of the Gods shall tear them apart and we shall claim those that manage to cross themselves! Come, prepare yourselves at the river crossing and prepare for slaughter!" as he finished his speech Vlath hobbled his way to the water, he was unsure how the Champions of the Void would respond to conditional commands so instead he opted to wait before he requested for them to rise.

If the Rhinomen began to assault Seagard he would order them to rise up and join his forces on the flank from the rear. If the Rhinos attempted to cut the bridge connecting them to the other side he would request they rise up and destroy whatever was attempting to cut them off while he and his forces swarmed across the bridge.

All while this happened Vlath prayed for the speed of the lycan soldier so that his plan would work, these creatures were clearly more powerful physically than lycans but whether they possessed their cunning was yet to be seen.


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The Mustaqilun Tribe [Turn 11]


Riverforge


The dark weapons that were employed by the zealous followers of the Dark One tended towards the metal, but Rukdug had asked for someone to recreate the soul destroying curses that the cult employed in its weapons and even if they were crafted from wood he had gotten the results he had wanted... and considering the words of the Butcher and the way that the axe that had actually worked looked after the test, there might have been more secrets to the cursed weapons then he had thought previously.

However, this didn't relieve one of his newest concerns; While in their base form the wooden axes were beautiful to look at, without the cursed enchantments that were required of them they were next to worthless as far as he was concerned as a battlefield weapon. Not against enemies that were actually equipped for battle at any rate... and there weren't enough test subjects to try the weapons out on without risking starvation. Some brief counting however gave him a rather simple solution to his problem.

Taking the working axe from the butcher and clearly claiming it for himself, he made his intentions clear "We can spare ten piglets. Alongside this axe, I want at least ten axes that are confirmed to be enchanted ready and waiting to be given out to people of my choosing. If an axe doesn't work, make a note of it and give it to the charcoalers. We'll figure out how many actually useful axes we've got when we've got the time and test subjects."

Alongside any axe that didn't work, he also made it clear that any 'scrap wood' from the shaman's practices was now free to be turned into charcoal as well. Waste not, want not after all. As for the shaman in question: Rukdug had promised rewards for his success and the orc had pulled through. The shaman would be promoted to the head of a small order of shamans for Riverforge that would be tasked with understanding and practicing the darker aspects of magic and shamanism; To ignore or remain ignorant of the darker powers invited those would didn't shy away from such things to have an advantage over Orcish kind, but not everyone had the mental fortitude to study such things... and even fewer not to be consumed by them. These shamans of shadow would have to be carefully tested and vetted.

The failure to find my resources to speed up production was annoying, but something that sadly could not be helped. If there was no coal, there was no coal. They did have the means to smelt and produce bronze goods through, but time and resources were factors that he needed to consider. He needed to arm and armor up a fighting force for war and he didn't know how long he had to that bloody bird and his wretched goblins started to lean on him to hurry up.

Bronze was not a good choice for orcish weapons; Sure, bronze could easily be used to make sample weapons, it couldn't really be used to make the larger weapons of war that orcs could benefit from wielding in battle. Plus it helped that pretty much every orc in Riverforge already owned a weapon they could wield, even if it meant that they lacked uniformity in such a matter. So when Rukdug went to talk with the smiths, he made his order quite clear: Focus on crafting armor and shields. Bronze armor was better then no armor and enough properly made shields could develop an effective front line in a battle. Any basic maintenance they could do with the weapons that they currently had was also to be done.

...........................................................................................

Pak was no fool. A bit too prideful for his own good maybe, but not a fool.

After the bird and his followers had left them to their own devices, he had arranged their camp in such a way as to hide the insides of the tents away from the prying eyes of any scouts or the gathering throng of strangely well fed bandits. Most of his forces had been hidden in the tents to not only make it appear as if there were far less orcs at the camp then there actually were, but also to try and give them some degree of element of surprise when the battle started.

They had even taken the time before the bandits had arrived to come up with a number of plans in the event of different situations. If the so called 'Bandit King' had failed to show... or if their 'allies' had pulled a disappearing act of their own. Granted these plans largely boiled down to 'kill 'em all', 'kill enough of them to make them run away or 'kill enough of them so we can run away', but at least the plans were in place.

There was also another aspect of the defile that they had discovered fairly quickly and in turn figured out how to use in their favor under certain situations; The defile had an echo to it.

Soon through, the bandits arrived in force. Dozens upon dozens appearing and taking up positions so close but with enough command not to charge. The reason for their strangely good self discipline appeared even before the rest of his forces came in, easily standing at double the height of the bandits themselves as what could only have been the self proclaimed 'Bandit King' came forward to brag and bluster.

He made his claims about slaying the bird, but Pak didn't seem all that heartbroken by the idea. In fact, he handed off the whistle to one of the few orcs that he had outside of the tents before taking several steps forward, absolutely no fear appearing on his face as he inspected the horde before him. "You know, I long had my doubts about that bird. But if he was blind and deaf enough to allow such a large, brightly colored tub of lard like yourself sneak up on him then he was a fairly shrak ally in the first place and won't be missed."

Without missing a beat, he started to slowly stroll to the side, his stance and movement displaying what could only be called a confident, cocky swagger that easily bled into his voice as he took advantage of the acoustics of the defile to make his voice easy to hear without yelling "Through if there is one thing I can compliment you on, it's the fact that you clearly... humble enough to know when a foe is too much for you. I mean, you took all this time and effort to gather all of this-" He gestured at the army of bandits standing behind the Oni "- just to throw them at us to tire us out before risking a direct fight. It's a good idea honestly... unless..."

Trailing off for a moment, he stopped his swaggering motions for a second before continuing "Unless... you actually look behind you and see an army?" An evil little smirk appeared on Pak's face as his tone lost all pretense of the jolly mocking that it had before. "Because all I see when I look behind you, 'Bandit King', is fear and dead men."

The speech and the grand standing had a couple of purposes to it; The first was to convey to the troops hidden in the tents what the situation was while delivering some chosen phases to let them know what the enemies layout was... as was as let them know that the Oni leader of this 'army' was front and center while secondly pumping them up for the fight that was about to happen. The third was to unnerve the human bandits since, while they clearly had numbers on their side... if the leader of the camp they were about to attack was this dismissive of them then clearly he knew something that they didn't... but that was an optional goal.

The fourth and actually important goal was to put the Bandit King in a position where he could do only one of three things:

1) He could let his anger get the better of him and charge right into a fight, hopefully his anger causing him to make mistakes in the melee while the orc that he had handed the whistle to would blow it and the orcs would spring into battle.

2) The Bandit King would order his men to attack... thus proving that there was truth in Pak's words that he was afraid to fight this camp upfront himself, thus weakening his authority in the eyes of his followers... at which point the whistle would be blown and the battle would begin proper.

3) The Bandit King would leave his lines to challenge Pak to a one on one duel in order to answer the challenge to his authority and prove to his followers that he was still as powerful and fearless as their leader needed to be... at which point the whistle would be blown and the orcs would start the battle.

1 and 3 had the benefit that the Oni would be away from his lines and thus be in the best possible position to be overwhelmed and killed by the orcs alone in the event that his claims about killing their 'allies' proved true; Even if death wasn't as large an issue for Oni as the goblins claimed, seeing their leader fall would still send a massive shock wave through his followers. Option 2 would result in a more drawn out, bloody fight but if their faith in their leader is shaken the bandits would be more inclined to break and flee.

The dice was cast.. it was time to see where the numbers fell.


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The Lady Saphira, or her mortal coil, began to climb up the tallest tree that she could find. "Wha- what are you doing?" The shaman stuttered. Offering no explanation, she continued her ascent to get a better view. Salvdal, seeing what she was doing, knew what the plan was. Like a hunter, they would face a large pack of predators by taking down the pack leader, throwing the pack into chaos and infighting. Except this time, it was an army. Lady Saphira began to scan the camp to see if they could determine the leadership of the army, or at the very least find the spirit that guides the army. With a single long draw of a bow, Lady Saphira would attempt to throw the army into chaos, at the very least buying time for the Attolians by using hit and run tactics, something that the spirit was clearly very capable of with her physical acumen and archery.

Salvdal, doing what he does best, began to scan the area to see if there were any stray, lone targets from the army, perhaps they were foraging for food, patrolling or using the bathroom. Regardless, if he could capture one of them, then he was confident in his abilities to make the prisoner talk and tell them about the army, its leadership, and where their leader was. They needed info somehow and he would try to track down the lone deer that is straying from its herd.

---

Back at the Attolian camp, Caelis ordered for the settlement to continue to evacuate, but also called for volunteers to form a militia. They were elves. They were swift, skilled with the bow, and very capable with magic. Speed and range in the flat plains are deadly. Caelis did not plan to fight a pitched battle, but rather use the militia to skirmish, harass, and generally prevent the enemy from scavenging or foraging for food. The plains were not friendly and did not have much food. So, unless the enemy had a lot of stored food, which would be unlikely as it would weigh them down, then the enemy clearly were relying on foraging. The militia could effectively launch attacks and raids on foraging parties.

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Summary:

Event: Lady Saphira hatches an ambitious plan to try to find and assassinate the leadership of the army or at the very least the spirit that guides the enemy with Salvdal trying to capture a lone soldier that strays too far from the camp for information.

The Attolians continue to migrate north, but Caelis asks for volunteers to form a militia to conduct raids, and hit an run attacks to wage an asymmetrical war against the enemy.
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