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Artifex meddles in the Luminent

Chaos had engulfed the Luminent, one born of a people made and then divided for the Aiviri where a people at war with themselves. They ran amuck, spilling each other’s blood in acts of aggression or self preservation whenever they met using the crudest of technologies and powers they barely understood. At the same time they battled the elements themselves, clinging to life however they could as nature did its best to snuff them out.

The Aiviri where in a unique situation unseen since the times in which the gods walked the earth and molded mortal races from clay with their own hands. They knew nothing, having been cast into the world and then left, mostly, to their own devices. They were beset by endless problems that none of their kind had ever attempted to solve before. Struggle bred death in many cases, but it also bred innovation. Desperate Innovation. The Aiviri’s chaotic birth also spawned the highest concentration of Inventors the world had yet known, adding a volatile new ingredient into the already uncontrollable situation boiling over in the Luminet.

Contraptions made from twigs, bones, vines, chunks of metal ore and all manner of other easily acquirable materials began to be made, crude things bearing incomprehensible magics and fueled by the infinite core of MUSE.

Some brought life. Plants were fostered, supplies were located, wounds were sealed and the elements defied, yet many more spread death. Neiyari built weapons of slaughter and in response the Oraeliari weapons of protection. When the two clashed, the results were often explosive. They were also highly educational. Opposing inventors who could not best another became, in effect, rivals. They strive to outdo one another in the name of their faction, forcing each other to create greater and grander creations in the name of survival. Inevitably the saints and the cardinals picked up these Inventors, and put them to work towards their opposed causes.

As the conflict ticked along down below up in the realm of Artifex MUSE devoured the data produced by the war. Designs were tested. New and innovative ways of harnessing the forces of the world were concocted as the Aiviri pushed the limits of their people’s limited technological knowledge to a breaking point. The frenzied activity and progress soon caught the eye of the newly minted god of civilization, who turned his narrow gaze upon the glowing forests.

Arsarri hadn’t eaten in days. Not that this was unheard of among the Aiviri as they struggled to survive, but Arsarri ‘s hunger was entirely self inflicted. He could have sent his minions to fetch food for him. Indeed they tried to do so on their own initiative before being shouted back to their posts. There was simply too much to do. A grand vision burned in his mind. Grandest of all his visions by orders of magnitude and, he was absolutely sure, a vision far grander than any other Aiviri had ever had! He giggled to himself as he imagined the looks on their faces when his work was completed, for at last, none would beagle to doubt his worth, his power, his genius!

In accordance to his vision, Arsarri had used his earlier inventions to first capture a beam made of strange metal that resonated with ancient otherworldly power from a human tribe who had been using it as the center to a shrine. Then he had carefully carved into pieces using a superheated sunblade to form the basis of a series of six contraptions. These now formed a ring around clearing in the forest, where Arsarri and his minions busied away, threading crude materials together to call upon powers they did not comprehend. Solar tools, bones, stone, stolen metals and string were placed in intricate configurations, calling dark spheres of negative light, arcs of lighting and twists in space into being within the machine.

As they worked a Saint watched their progress, his eyebrows furrowed as she tried to comprehend what the Inventor was making, as he had done during two of Arsarri’s earlier bouts of Inspiration. Many technologies had begun to be learned from the inventor’s work, from the mysteries of magic to the humble hammer and nail. Yet whenever he tried to apply his divine gift to the heart of the inventions his mind seems to slip off of them and when he asked the Inventor and his minions to explain they babble incoherently about “negative spatial distortions”, “parallel dimensions”, and “electricity”. All inscrutable madness, and yet he was unable to refute the usefulness of the end result. The saint’s little group was doing far better than the average Aiviri thanks to the Inventor's creations and the insane drive of both himself and his minions.

The success was good for the cause and for his people yes, but even though he was in charge, it still filled the Saint with envy and concern for his position in equal measure.

Eventually the work was complete. The Saint could tell because Arsarri started laughing maniacally: “I’ve done it! Ahahahahaha! It’s finally ready”

“And what, exactly, is it.” the Saint asked, unimpressed by the bulky contraption the Inventor had managed to tie his hand too, “how exactly will this help organize the war effort and give us shelter as you said it would?”

“You’ll see! You’ll see. Soon they’ll all see!” Arsarri replied unhelpfully before calling out to his minions. “On my mark, begin the activation sequence!”

The other Neiyari called back affirmations after which Arsarri told the Saint to “stand back, and witness my genius!”

Black lightning suddenly arched from one contraption to the next, causing the Saint, who refused to be ordered around by the madman, to stumble backwards as the power formed a ring of energy. As the Saint and his people watched in awe the ground within the circle suddenly exploded upwards, showering the surrounding area with soil as a vast pillar of dark uncut stone burst from the ground, climbing high, high into the sky. It grew and grew, an endless stream of stone pouring up from Galbar till it towered above the glowing trees of the Luminanat, casting a great shadow across the land.

The marvels did not stop there. The black lighting flowed upwards, encasing the towering monolith in its energy.

“I have my materials, now the real work begins” Arsarri announced, as the same dark power flowed up and over his arm from where he had bound his hand to the device. The Inventor's limb spasmed and shook for a few moments and then grew still and accustomed enough to the power to the work. Energy burst from the enveloping field, carving great swaths out of the tower in accordance to Arsarri’s designs, forming from it a dark tower.

Sat atop a sheer cliff of stone, the actual construction did not start until above the treeline, where stone sliced off of the tower was crafted into arial landing pads for the winged Neiyari. Inside past imposing gateways energy bored corridors and grand rooms fit for royalty and a vast throne out of which a ruler might look out over the Luminat at their domain and at lands still left to conquer. At the very top sat a dungeon shaped like a bird cage, where the Neiyari could keep wingless and crippled Oraeliari prisoners where they had no chance to escape.

Eventually, the lightning died, and the Inventor stumbled back, looking up in awe at his creation even as the machine’s that had built it crumbled, burned and then disintegrated in a series of small explosions.

He turned to the Saint and his people, raised his hands to the sky and called out “Behold my creation! Witness my majesty! All who look upon it and kneel before my genius!”

As he said those words, a final piece of the wonder came into being, but it was not a physical thing, but instead it came alive in the hearts who witnessed it. Who could question the right to rule of someone who owned such an awe inspiring structure? The watching Neiyari fell to their knees. All but one.

The Saint picked up the wicked hatchet of light he wielded and advanced upon the Inventor. “Stand! Stand you whelps. This tower does not belong to him, it belongs to the Sainthood! It belongs to me!”

“No. No! Can you Saints do nothing but steal from your betters!” Arsarri growled back “Minions! Defend me! Do not let this thief take my Invention!”

The inventor brandished a small wand like Invention in defiance but his minions were too exhausted front he work, and no longer energised or motivated by his Inspiration, to help. The other Neiyari meanwhile were too stuck between the new power and the old fear to move to the aid of either claimant.

The saint charged, roaring in wordless anger as Arsarri raised his small weapon towards him, the machine humming and clicking as it charged up.

“DIE!” Arsarri shouted as the weapon fired, a beam of energy arching out of it. Yet his unsteady hand and the Saint’s skillful dodge caused his shot to miss, instead striking one of the onlookers who fell to the ground writhing as demonic ichor overwhelmed their body.

The Saint’s axe flashed, sundering the hand holding the weapon from Arsarri’s arm before the Saint kicked him to the ground, and planted a foot on the Inventor's chest, raising his axe to strike a more deadly blow.

“No. No wait! I yield! You still need me! Think of what i could still create for you!!” he pleaded, the fear of the Saint overwhelming his former arrogance in an instant, before the axe came down on him twice more.

The saint sat upon the raised dark throne of tower and looked out upon the Luminent though the wide gaps between the pillars holding up its roof. His axe sat against one side of the throne, while the Inventor’s weapon rested on the arm on the other side while his people prostrated themselves before him. Life was good.

There would be contenders, his fellow Saints of the Maelstrom would no doubt be drawn towards the tower, but he was quite certain that none could compare to his right to rule thanks to the unique and overwhelming majesty of his dark tower.

Or so he thought.

As he admired the world that was soon to be his familiar lighting flared in the distance and bright white stone rose skywards as an Oraeliari Inventor completed their own constructors, summoning and carving a looming structure of their own. The Saint gripped the sides of his throne in anger at first and then rose raging and fuming as sunlight began to reflect off of the shining golden surface of the domed structure, bathing the forest in a second sunrise that none could ignore.

High above Arsarri, his wings reduced to bloody stamps, bore witness to his rival’s creation as he clung to one of the bars of the prison built atop the tower and laughed and laughed and laughed.

And yet higher still, in the heart of MUSE, a goblinoid Artifex smiled a fang filled grin as his awareness of the region blossomed into pristine detail where before there had only been the scattered pinpricks of the Inventors.

”Now then, lets see what you can make of yourselves.”

It's been fun, but I'm out.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 3,489 (+3)
Bowser: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (15/70)
Bowser Jr: Level 6 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (12/60)
Kamek: Level 6 EXP: ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (16/60)
Ace Cadet: Level 5 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////// (8/50)
Donnie : Level 5 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////// (45/50)
Location: the Land of Adventure

Awareness flared back to Bowser while he was flying up in the air from Banjo’s throw. He awoke right in time for the explosive reckoning of the End’s, well, end to rock the tower. Naturally, Bowser took credit, assuming it was his own ploy that had caused the devastation, ”GAHAHAHAHA, I’M A GENIUS!” only for him to then realize it was raining down on him, ”OH NO!”

Mortar and brickwork pummeled the king as he reached the arch of Banjo’s throw. He vanished into a cloud of dust, only to burst out of it once more riding Carrie the Trowlon like a hoverboard. Together the king, hatless and catless, and his flying steed rapidly ascended the outside of the tower despite the fact that all but one of its occupants vacated the lofty vantagepoint.

Down below, the toadies, free of trophified heroes to retrieve and with their master still hunkered down in the branches of a giant tree that Peach was using for cover, were left to follow whatever instructions they felt like, even their own. To that end, one heeded the Ace’s command and flew to snatch the slowly drifting spirit of Quiet from the air, bringing it back down to the tree as instructed (though if desired a hero could call it over to claim the spirit from elsewhere on the battlefield).

The other two went and grabbed the Bowser’s trophified hat and raced skywards to return the Koopa King’s property to him.

Finally, Jr, who had been sneaking with Geralt inside the zombie horde with his nose wrinkled the whole time, watched as the Witcher dropped any pretence of stealth and made a mad dash the rest of the way up the hill in response to the explosion Donnie’s wizard looking striker had set off with their lightning bolt. He also watched as his father got revived and began to soar up the tower unmolested on the back of the towel looking striker he’d captured from the subspace army.

Stealth being 100% not Jr’s style he was more than happy to follow both of their leads, the propeller on his clown car deploying and carrying him up and away from the spiral ramp and gross zombies, as well as using the chaos created by the explosion to call out ”Mimikyu, where are you?” without fear of being titan arrowed

“Kyu Kyu Kyu!” came a call from inside the entrance of the tower, which had rapidly filled up with people since Jr had last seen it during his falid accent. Most were friendly with the only expedition being the red eyed Link who jr vaguely knew was quite the fighter (he was considered tough enough to be on the cliff face along with the mushroom kingdom’s toughest after all). Not that calculations over whether the blue clad hero was sufficiently outnumbered really had any impact on Jr’s decision making process. His pappa was going up, so Jr was going up. If Jr was going up, so was Mimikyu.

Jr grabbed the creature's pokeball from the bandolier on his chest, pointed it her way and called out, ”Mimikyu, return!” causing a beam of translucent red light to lance out and strike her. The pokemon instantly converted into that same translucent red energy, which then raced back to the pokeball to be stored inside it, with all of this taking only a few seconds. With her safely back with him, Jr cracked open the ball again, causing the small robotic mouse ghost fairy to appear on his shoulder in a flash of light. She quickly nuzzled his cheek, the experience equal parts soft and uncomfortable thanks to the metal jaw her fake head now sported, as the pair ascended after Bowser.

Meanwhile, Donnie woke up with a start. One second he was fishing for a gunpowder charge, next he was at the bottom of the mountain, staring a concerned Linkle in the face. Did he get petrified? Looked like it. And Gough tossed him down the mountain to boot! He flexed his arm experimentally, making sure nothing was broken and testing his range of movement in case his Trophy was damaged in the fall.

“Thanks, for the save, Linkle.” he said. “Now, I’ve got a giant to slay. Good luck on the rest of them.”

With that, he tried to perform the summon spell to recall the Luggage, but nothing happened. “Wait, no, this isn’t--oh, the Disc’s atop the tower, isn’t it?” He facepalmed, got up, and began walking towards the tower. This hadn’t exactly happened before, maybe if he desummoned it first? He tried to reach his mind outwards, focusing on the enchantment on the Madman’s Luggage. He should be able to detect its magic even from here, it had some potent spells woven into it. He reached, reached, reached...and it was out of range. He put his hands on his hips and looked up at the tower, wondering if he should brave its interior. He’d have to invest in a good backpack and a set of pouches next time. This just wouldn’t do.

An ally’s voice called out from behind.

”Hey!” The Ace Cadet had made it up the mountain path easily - thanks to the explosion at the top of the tower rocking the snipers out of their perch and throwing the enemies into disarray. It seemed like he wasn’t the only one just arriving either. Blazermate making an extended maneuver to dodge the debris, not wanting to waste her uber on it, was with him - as well as a smaller passenger in Cuphead. Cadet set the little guy down and approached the tower’s base. The pieces of the structure that were knocked loose made for holes perfect for catching his slinger on.

”You going up? Need a lift?” he asked Donnie, getting the grappling hook on his arm ready for an ascent. Three of them might be heavy, but he hoped it was nothing the slinger couldn’t haul up.

“Yeah. My stuff’s up there and I’m out of range to summon it back.” Donnie replied in an annoyed tone. Not to indicate that he was annoyed at Ace Cadet, just annoyed at life in general, really. Something the hunter could understand. ”Welp, hold on and I’ll get us up there quick!”

While he ascended atop Carrie, the Trowlon’s flight perhaps the quietest form of movement Bowser had ever used, Bowser took advantage of the ability it provided for him to stand still while also moving, allowing him to charge up a breath attack without vulnerably sitting still in front of his foe. The king cleared the lip of the tower’s battlements, bent down and unleashed a gout of flame while at the same time as he grabbed the side of the Trowlon and pulled it up, tilting the flying carpet slightly so that it veered to the side slightly in an evasive action.

Fire washed over the tower’s top, which would have been very effective if there had been anyone left other than Gough. As it was the king’s flames washed forth as he continued to climb atop his towley steed, fire blasting out and licking at the giant’s body, thach looking decorated armor and wooden weapon. Bowser made his presence known in grandiose style, and likewise a grand arrow caught him almost immediately. Still, even as his trophy fell from Carrie, his flames ignited Gough’s gear. Silent, the giant began to burn, but he knew that Bowser’s friends would be right on his heels, an assessment that held true as jr finished his climb just in time to see Carrie dissipate and Bowser’s trophy clink to the floor. The prince and pokemon both growled at the titan, ready to brawl.

Even though the Cadet’s slinger wasn’t long enough to get to the top of the tower in one shot, the ascent wasn’t slow going by any means. As soon as the claw gripped stone, the cable was reeled in and it hoisted the trio up… and up and up until the device caught the edge of the tower’s top level. The Medabot and two armored men, one ornate and one scaled, climbed over the side and were met with the prince and his father’s trophy - and the giant archer. He was intimidating, but it also seemed like he wasn’t in top shape.

Gough fired, aiming between his assailants. While it wouldn’t take an extensive dodge from either to escape it, the giant banked on the intimidation factor of the lance-sized arrow to scatter his opponents, maybe to the extent that one or both tangled with a nearby precipice.

Cadet evaded to his right, hopping out of the giant arrow's path with much more gusto than caution. He wasn't worried about a fall; as long as he had the slinger, getting back up wouldn't be much of a problem, though it would be pretty annoying - and probably painful - to be flung all the way back down. Perhaps it was his lack of fear that kept him moving even as loose stones fell away under his feet at the tower's edge. Below, he'd been playing support, but now the hunter was on the move toward the sniper. Cadet brandished not his sword but the spirit of the greap from the canyon, crushing the glowing object in his fist. The best defense is a good offense!

The spirit resonated with him, and from its gleam manifested a long sword in the shape of a scythe. The young man's eyes lit up in delight. Getting new equipment was so exciting, even in a situation like this. As the weapon's weight settled in his hands he judged it to be a longsword, and after a brief moment to adjust to a proper grip Cadet continued his charge.

Jr jerked the controls of his clown car upwards and ascended yet further with Blazermate, gaining the high ground over their foe and staying out of the way of the two armored warriors that had come to back him up. As soon as he was free of the splash zone he whispered brief instructions to Mimikyu, causing her to jump off his shoulder and out into the open air. The ghost, light as a cloud, drifted through the air and then landed gently atop the golden base of Bowser’s trophy. As soon as she landed, she grabbed one of the king’s outstretched frozen arms with her own long noodle arms and used this to launch herself skywards away from Bowser.

While Mimikyu fell Bowser Jr pushed a button on the clown car’s controle, causing its mouth to pop open and a cannon to slide out of it. From this it launched a balloon, which quickly inflated into the sweet tooth’s flaming clown head attack and raced towards the giant.

Gough could only judge the incoming projectile by its sound, but the roar of fire and haunting scream brought to mind the pyromancies of his world, and he knew that the demon flames raged against whatever stood in their way. He hurled a handful of carved stones in the direction of the floating bomb, but underestimated its blast radius. BOOM! The detonation struck him with blistering force, pushing him a few steps back toward the tower’s edge. Also caught in the blast was the Cadet, eager to test out his new sword he hadn't been paying the closest attention to the actions of his comrades. A rookie mistake, but can't blame a guy when he's still operating outside the realm of his experience, right? The force of the explosion pushed the hunter forward. Once he recovered, shaking his head lightly to clear it, he found himself face to face with the massive archer. Or as face to face as one could be with the difference in their sizes. Ace Cadet's eyes flickered between several points in the giant's body and his great bow, the thought of which would make for a better target crossing his mind before be ultimately made his decision: he took one step back to ground himself before swinging the scythe blade forward in a wide horizontal slash at the giant's legs.

Making no move, Gough allowed the sharp blade to strike his armor. The scythe stopped cold, bouncing off the metal with a ting, its cutting power completely useless against protective gear designed specifically to counter bladed weapons.

Donnie, meanwhile, had expected Gough to attempt an ambush by firing at them the moment they ascended the tower. It was a simple matter dodge to the left, avoiding the projectile entirely. He wisely stayed back when he noticed Jr shooting a fireball attack from his flying machine, and was rewarded for his situational awareness by not getting caught in the blast. Cadet, however, wasn’t so lucky. Donnie was behind both of them at the moment, and he decided to help out by firing a Chi Burst directly at Cadet’s back, which would conveniently not only heal Cadet, but go straight through his body and hurt Gough, who was in front of him.

The blast surged through the Ace Cadet and hit Gough’s leg as he prepared his next arrow, dealing enough damage to make the giant wince.

Behind them Jr. swooped down to catch Mimikyu’s leap off of Bowser, while the king himself flared back to life from the Pokemon touching his trophy base. As he shook his head and took in the situation he flew in to join the human’s assault on the giant, only to glance suddenly to the side when prompted by the wordless call of Kamek’s toadies, who tossed him his trophified hat. He caught it by the base and swiftly put the freed headgear back in its rightful place with a grin.

Hovering back and away from where they’d regrouped Jr ordered Mimikyu to ”Mimikyu, charge up an electro ball, let’s give the big guy a real shock!” as he struck a button and caused a synapse infested robot arm to deploy from his clown car, prompting the pokemon to charged up another Electro Ball. Thumbing a firing trigger, jr caused the biological lightning weapon to shoot a tight beam of electricity towards the giant’s arrow drawing arm, a shot that was followed moment’s later by Mimikyu’s electro ball aimed towards the target laser pointed by the synapse’s stream of lightning.

Together corrosive and electricity struck Gough’s bow arm, jolting the muscles and scarring the armor. The bowstring slipped from his hand, and his arrow launched both slow and early. It flew lazily over the edge of the tower, a few feet away from Junior who flinched away from the near miss. Gough grunted and aimed a kick at the Ace Cadet, trying to boot him into the monk behind him.

Left open after his botched attack, the hunter was easily sent flying backwards. The giant's strength was certainly comparable to a large monster - to be expected, given he was a giant. Cadet barely had time to think that maybe he should change up his strategy before he collided with the chi slinging man. "Ouch," he grumbled, and after a brief untangling and a curt sorry! directed Donnie’s way, Cadet was back on his feet. Dealing with the enemy's swings was much preferable to dealing with the possibility of getting petrified at range, and now that he was finally in close quarters with one of their assailants Cadet was quick to try and dive right back into the giant's personal space.

Blazermate, seeing Cadet getting tossed, put her healing beam on the monster hunter. Gough looked like he didn’t take all that much damage, so Blazermate took a bit of time to scan him. With this information, Blazermate relayed it to Cadet, telling him Gough’s weak spot as he engaged with the giant sniper.

With a change in tactics, Cadet raised his longsword high and brought it down in a swipe aimed not at Gough, but at the giant's weapon, hoping to catch the bow in the hook of the scythe and drag it downward whether Gough kept his grip on it or not.

The paradigm shift worked wonders. Hooking the scythe around the bow stopped Gough’s attempt to nock another arrow short and initiated a tug-of-war. If given the chance to do so the giant would have no doubt won it handily, but he did not receive it.

Now free, re-hatted and up to speed, Bowser joined the fray, charging towards the giant, increasing in size back to as he did. He looked to be on a collision course with the Ace until he suddenly leapt up and over him. The King drew his hand back and rather than ball it or bare his claws he held it open and aimed to palm strike the giant, who was still dangerously close to the edge, square in the chest. Following him up came Jr’s clown car. After the synapse’s energy had been drained during his successful shot interruption shot he'd stored it away and in its place deployed the vehicle’s oversized boxing mitt armed arms. As his father aimed for the center of mass jr took a higher road and dived bombed towards the giant’s face, aiming to strafe him with a flurry of boxes on the ears.

Blazermate meanwhile landed instead of flying by Jr, keeping her healing beam on Cadet, Seeing as Bowser and Jr. were going in to attack, Blazermate relayed her scan findings to them as well, making sure to stay out of Bowser’s way as he charged. Still, she saw an opportunity as she saw Gough get damaged, and came from the side to bite him with her Suffering shield. He would make a great zombie for the trials ahead, if he could even be converted.

One, two, and three--the parade of blows struck Gough in quick succession. To avoid overbalancing and falling backward, the giant pitched forward onto his knees after the first hit from Bowser, only for Junior and then Blazermate to follow up. The teeth of the Suffering shield did not penetrate his armor, but they did crumple the metal and leave a couple of painful indentations that rakes Gough’s skin like inward-facing spikes. After the assault, he could not recompose his defenses, instead reaching into his pouch with one hand.

Finally, the monk charged, leapt over everyone involved, moving into a flying kick, dramatically enhanced by dumping a full quarter of his prodigious chi reserves into this meteoric strike. He descended like mighty Xuen from on high, his whole body wreathed in the power of the wind that dumping this much chi at once had created. He was throwing everything he had into this attack, and his armored boot collided with Gough’s face like the stomp of a Titan, driving the resin that filled the eyeholes into Gough’s eye sockets and causing the visor itself to cave in. The force imparted was almost guaranteed to send the giant hurtling off the tower at terminal velocity. Donnie himself had to grab onto the edge of the tower and haul himself back up to safety lest he fall as well.

The blow hit home with tremendous force and a visceral noise, snapping Gough’s head backward. Limply he fell over, sliding off the edge of the tower to drop to the ground far below. A second later, the carved stone he pulled out in his final moment hit the stone by Donnie’s feet and shattered apart, release the giant’s voice into the air. “Thaank youu,” it said, deep but with as much cheer as dignity, the Hawkeye’s last words. His spirit came to rest on the surface of the moat around Spiral Mountain, with the ashes sinking and diffusing into the water.

Donnie put his hands on his knees, huffing and puffing after putting in that much energy at once. Chi was linked to the soul, but also to the body. Spirit and body went hand in hand, in a symbiotic relationship with one another. Chi could empower the body, sure, but the body still had to be capable of acting on that infusion of energy, and dumping lots of chi at once was tiring to both body and soul. Or puppet-body and Spirit, as it were.

“Well, now I just feel sad,” he said between breaths. “I didn’t know he wanted to die. Though I don’t blame him, honestly.” He stood upright, saying, “Now we’ve just got the others to deal with. Think we can free them? I think that man in red looked similar to the Engineer Blazermate has. He’d appreciate it.”

Bowser grunted while shaking the hand he’d struck the giant with and then shrugged in response to Donnie’s question dismissively ”IF YOU WANT HIM, THEN GO FOR. DIDN’T SEEM LIKE ANYTHING SPECIAL TO ME THOUGH.”

”NOW LINK. THERE’S A GUY I COULD USE. CLASSIC MEDDLING HERO MATERIAL” he added, before wondering to himself how the team facing him was faring.
Sacta Civitas, 11 AA to 16 AA

It took over a month for Tadiza to repeat the work needed to complete the enchanting of her latest invention as she ended up incorporating the newly acquired mana honey and magical inks into the design, waxing the bottom with a substance containing water mana honey and painting the sails with ink drawn from the sea-breeze. When the day came crowds gathered to watch the ceremonial launching of the ship, the most notable member being the Vrool tyrant of the oceans around the city who was drawn to the ceremony by the Klaarungraxian nature of the ships figurehead and rumors that the vessel heralded an age of longer distance sea travel. As the mighty ship was rowed around the walled harbor for the crowds amusement those paying attention could see the tyrant engaging in negotiations with some of the city’s officials, including Amulius the Diplomat, about them paying for the ‘protection’ of the city’s shipping should they push their trade routes further along the coast.

A bit of shrewd negotiation, a shower of gifts, the consumption of a large barrel of wine and the Matarin male’s pheremonal influence allowed Amulius to turn the protection money the Tyrant was demanding into a promise of actual protection of their ships from raids, and retribution against any that did occur, in return for a share of any wealth they might ship across the tyrant’s aquatic realm.

With the contract sealed by a Tekretsian priest the ship, named the WayFinder, was free to begin pushing the boundaries of the city’s naval range with impunity, daringly seeking out new lands full of new resources and peoples for the city to exploit or trade with. The ship performed wonderfully, scything though the waves powered by its twin sets of oars and magically produced winds. What rapidly became apparent however was that the ship longed for its creator, for any real damages it received could not be repaired without Tadiza doping herself on Inspiration ink and seeing to the repairs personally, particularly because amateur attempts often resulted in unexplained explosions. As a result any long distance travel required the presence of the Inventor to keep the Wayfinder shipshape, meaning the vespain woman becoming a near permanent fixture on the ship as it made a series of adventures westwards. Her presence was a mix of boon and curse because while she sometimes Innovated the ship out of trouble her presence meant that the ship became home to an ever increasing stockpile of rather volatile Inventions.

As the ship sailed out and brought back tales of distant lands the city went through a population boom thanks to the burst of agricultural innovations and improvements that had been brought on by Kallak, Tadiza and the Embassies’ efforts. Long term storage of food, the introduction of domesticated giant ants and the simple yet effective pesticides of the ladybird shrines allowed more food to be produced, stored and transported which in turn increased the population the city could support. The rapid maturation of goblins also meant that this increase was felt rather rapidly, producing more workers who could work more fields who’s fruits filled the City's coffers.

A late arrival to these improvements were the Lords Over Nature. Once they had spent a year learning the basics of magic (and how to read) in the Library Silandrazz and Stoshri rapidly drew in more members to their fledgling order as a result of several minor contributions to the library in the form of spells regarding the biokinetic manipulation of insects. Most importantly for Silandrazz she managed to use stone from Sancta Civitas to induce the mortal friendly attitude of the city’s swarmlings in any member of the species, an innovation she brought home to her tribe during an expedition of the Wayfinder into the central desert’s ocean filled canyonways. In doing so they also established a trade route to and from the desert hives, mostly for fire honey.

In the city, the Lords Over Nature’s research resulted in several minor improvements to agricultural via the modification of plants and animals, including creating a variant of cloud moth caterpillar that could be effectively milked for silk, which provided a greater and more consistent source of the fabric than waiting for the giant caterpillar to spin a cocoon and then slaughtering it. Other uses included the controlling of animals, mostly large insects, which helped with domestication efforts and the use of magic to improve a mortal’s physical characteristics temporarily.

Silandrazz and Stoshri also helped with the Library mages' various other research projects. The red star maple trees were confirmed to be the source of the interference that prevented the network of mind bound Servant from forming on their island, something which the City’s Servants began experimenting with ways to bypass. Reliable sources of all four kinds of mana honey were eventually established and shipped into the city and experimentation began with the use of the honey and in the combination of the elements into other elements. Ink continued to be experimented with, as began to be used to enhance the construction of magical objects, in the creation of artwork and as magical body paint.

Finally, the newly consecrated nature of the Builder-priests ushered in a new wave of construction and carving, as they used their divine carving skills to both decorate the city with grand artworks dedicated to the gods, the city's history and it's people while also taking part in the more humble and vital task of producing more housing for the city’s booming population.

As the city improved itself, the wayfinder roamed further and further from home. As they did so, they made contact with many Vespian, goblin and akua tribes along the coast of Whakarongo, establishing good relations with several and opening up trade with them that would allow them to resupply and travel ever westwards. As they traveled, the explorers became enamored with Akuan tales of the island of Pakohu, a place they could sometimes catch glimpses the mountaintops of on clear days

Five full years after the Wayfinder first touched the waves Tadiza and her trusty crew loaded up on supplies, sailors and trade goods and set out seeking to travel west till they found a rumored peninsula that they believed was the perfect place to launch themselves across the open sea towards Pakohu.

What strange lands might they discover? Want new peoples might they meet? What dangers awaited them on their travels? The crew of the Wayfinder did not know, but they were all too eager to find out.

Sancta Civitas

The rest of Kallak, Silandrazz, Stoshri and Gosyor’s journey to Sancta Civitas passed without incident, which allowed for plenty of time for Gosyor and Silandrazz to butt heads over the Vespian Lord Over Nature’s ideals and claim about having spoken with Artifex.

“Look. We’re going to have to go talk to Builder-Priest anyway about this mana honey. So they’ll sort it out, alright?” Kallak told them once they arrived, having grown sick of their bickering

“Yeah. They’ll back me up on this!“ Silandrazz cheered before realizing she didn't actually know that for sure “They will right?”

“Def… Probably” Kallak agreed

“Will see” Gosyor grumbled in response

After a ride up from the docks on the back of Chompy the giant ant the four of them arrived in the palace district and headed for the Library. To the disappointment of the Servants they did not enter it right away, and instead made their way to a small temple situated right next to the massive archive of magical knowledge.

Much like the neighboring Library, the temple was a place of learning and self improvement. Twin statues of Artifex and Cadian took pride of place at the far end of the temple squatting as they had upon their first meeting. The gods were angled in such a way that they looked both at each other and down at the room before them which was lined with shelves of slates containing guides on how to perform various crafts or skills. At the moment a vespain builder-priest was using one of these tablets to lead a pottery class.

“Ah hello. Are you here for the sermon? If so you are a little late.” The vespian builder-priest asked the group as they entered.

“No, not today. Sorry for interrupting. I’m here to hand in a holy quest” Kallak expalined

“You are? How wonderful! Just head on through and knock before entering” the builder-priest replied cheerfully, before directing them towards a backroom in the temple. After knocking as instructed and receiving entry the four of them entered a small study, where they met an aging goblin woman, clad in a black toga and wearing a crown adorned with a replica of Artifex’s horns.

She set aside the slate she had been carving regarding the process by which Inspiration infused ink should be passively harvested and looked the group up and down before asking simply “yes?”

“Greetings mam. I come bearing the fruits of Artifex’s divine work which i understand there is a considrable reward for discovering the location of?” Kallak said, presenting two jars of mana honey to the builder-priest. The goblin moved from behind her desk and approached to inspect the contents, finding within honey the color of water in one, and honey the color of earth in the other.

“Hmmm. Will need checked. Come” she said after inspecting the two jars, before brushing past them and leading the group out of the temple via a side door which led into the courtyard of the Library next door. They made their way through the courtyard and past a pair of builder-priests working on some kind of magical statue and surrounded by several failures and as of yet uncarved blocks before entering the library proper and making their way to a small mosaic. It had appeared mysteriously in the library open day, and depicted the existence of four kinds of bees, their mana infused honey and descriptions of how to use the power held within.

Their arrival retrieved a bit of attention, not only from the presence of the builder-priest at the mosaic, but also from the rainbow flecked eyes of the two Servants following in her wake and the fact that Gosyor’s passing seemed to ruin any spells that were in the progress of being cast as well as repelling the magical motes that drifted around the Library thanks to a tree-branch he had in his pack.

“Now. To test...” the goblin glanced around and then called out to one of the mages “Metilia. Perfect. Come” before beckoning over a muscular Akua woman with a snout like face who had the skin, teeth and tail of a shark. The woman had just pulled herself out of a large raised pool (which dsat in the center of the room they where in in a way akin to a fountain centerpiece) used by her kind to stave off dehydration while spending long periods reading in the Library and was already heading towards them when called by the builder-priest. She was quickly joined by Velnik, the Servant, who also pulled himself out of the same pool (he’d been the one to request it be installed in the first place) after catching sight of the two Servants accompanying Kallak.

“Hello mam. Is that honey I smell.” the shark woman said as she joined them

“This claims is mana. Metilia test? Make sure not fake,” the builder-priest replied while the Servants made their introductions to one another in the background.

“Can do. Nice to see you trusting me this time mam” Metilia replied. She glanced at the mosaic before scooping a hearty glob of the rather un-appealing looking grey-brown honey from a pre-offered jar using her hand. She sniffed it, made a small sound of approval, then licked the honey off of her finger.

“Oh. yeah. Yep. That’s the stuff” she said, her voice and body vibrating slightly as if she was suffering from a sugar rush “Earth earth earth ah!” she muttered to herself glancing around wildly before running outside. There was the sound of chanting and then an almighty cacophony of grinding stone before she returned, slightly breathless, and confirmed that “definitely the stuff”

“Very well. Be praised for bringing discovery here.” the builder-priest told Kallak

“And rewarded as well?”

The goblin sighed before agreeing “Yes. For finding one of-”

“Two. and I can tell you where the other ones are” Kallak interrupted

“Water already found,” she replied

“What! By who?” Kallak asked

“That’d be me” Metilia informed him, grinning toothily at the disguised avatar “Velnik told me about the quest, we guess it’d be up in a lake somewhere and seeing as no one’s faster than me i swam all the way up the river to its source. Nosed around there for ages, looking in every nook and cranny and was about to give up when one day i woke up and found there were just a tone of them in the lake. Like they came out of nowhere.”

“From Artifex” the builder-priest injected

“Well yeah. There. Took him a while tho.”

“Same with fire. They’re in the canyons where my hive is” Silandrazz noted over her shoulder before returning to her and Stoshri’s ongoing conversation with Velnik

"Kallak come look. Find earth deep in caves. Now they not so deep any more." Gosyor provided helpfully

“Wait hang on. I’m the one handing these in” Kallak insisted

“You got that honey and air ones still” Gosyor noted,

“I. Fine. Sure. The air ones can be found at the tops of the mountains in free floating hives. I couldn't reach them to harvest honey from them, and the fire ones hasn't made anything before we set off back here. Didn’t think I’d need evidence anyway.” Kallak explained, somewhat exasperated that he’d only be able to claim the fruits of one fourth of his labors.

“Imposters. Paint bees. Dye honey. Sorry.” the builder-priest explained “Still. Is good. Reward for find and information. More once air and fire brought here.”

“This lot are full of useful information.” Velnik noted, having gleaned a lot from his fellow Servants in the background while this had been ongoing, “We’ll need to look into this magic hating wood you’ve brought with you later, but for now I’d like some more answers about this supposed blessing you received Silandrazz. I suggest we see if we get something similar to the Druids and Inventors?”

“Blessing?” the builder-priest asked, and so Silandrazz explained while collecting one of the motes. It squirmed in her grip as she told them of her conversation with Artifex and him declaring her a Lord Over Nature, leaving out the identity of Kallak as his avatar as she had promised. As she spoke of what she desired, to change the swarmling’s nature, and of the idea Stoshi had had of changing their own nature as well the mote finally formed into a tablet which described an idea. it was a simple idea, that nature was not fixed as the gods made it. That mortal kind could, and that they should, alter it to fit their needs.

It described this idea, and the fact that the idea itself had power. That those who believed and acted upon that idea would find the path they had decided to tread easier. The way in which it described this, the builder-priest felt as she read it, was very very familiar.

After the sun had set and twilight was long gone the goblin builder-priest squatted before the statue of Artifex in her temple and prayed. The argument in Kallak’s party had been more orless ended by the tablet, but now, several hours after she had met them and they had moved onto other things, the goblin could not put aside the thoughts that had arisen from her meeting with them.

It had not taken long for her to put the pieces of the Lord’s tablet, the mana bee mosaic and the Inventor’s tablet together, and the conclusion she drew worried her. Divine favor had been given, not to Artifex’s preachers, his loyal hands on Gablar, but instead to others. Strangers to the faith. She worried deeply about what this might mean.

“Holy father. Second father of goblin. Big eyes. I call. Will listen?” she whispered to the empty air. A moment of silence hung, and then

Speak, my child. What ails you this night? came the voice of Artifex in her mind, one familiar to her and her kind. A giver of advice, kind words and occasionally insect related miracles.

“I. I wish ask about Inventors. And Lords Over Nature. Did make? Did bless? Do... Do favor them?”

Up in Artifex’s realm a small pair of triangles made out of black glass that was listening and replying to the priest's prayer recognized that this particular prayer wasn’t something it could provide an automated reply to. It began buying time using vague divine wisdom and time dilation on its end while it fluttered up into the air like a butterfly and set off to find its creator. Leaving the workbench it had been laying on alongside several others of its kind behind, it cast a glance around Artifex’s workshop and then headed for the latest addition to it, a large stone gateway built against, but not leading though, one of its walls.

It entered the gateway and found itself inside a vast nested dimension built inside the god's realm. Inside a neural network of free-floating, semi translucent, blue platforms and walkways stretched out for miles in every direction around the gateway. Various large insects bustled to and fro on these walkways, carrying floppy disks, punch cards, shiny pebbles, circuit boards, steel beams and all sorts of other materials between the various small platforms.

Upon the platforms small sections of highly esoteric and eccentrically designed machinery could be seen that was made out of, among other things, silicon based computers, ant farms, animated pebbles on a beach, clockwork, perfectly bouncy rubber band balls, monkeys operated typewriters and quantum entangled particles. The triangular butterfly fluttered along the blue walkway and then it turned off it into a branch that led to a platform with incomplete machinery. When exiting the path it entered a second nested dimension, and found itself submerged in a vast data center of ticker tape fed computers far larger than the contents of the platform implied existed here. If it looked up it could see distorted and twisted space where the machinery from the other platforms also existed and joined together. All of this swirled around a floating energy core containing an entire universe who's laws of physics had been altered significantly from those of Galbar purely for the purpose of providing unlimited energy for the vast mechanism Atifex had created here.

The god himself, or part of him anyway, was found in the form of a small beetle, one among thousands of insects scattered all across the still expanding machinery that was in the process of eating a line of ticker tape that had offended it.

There was a brief nonverbal exchange between beetle and artificial butterfly before a swarm of other bugs arrived and coalesced into the familiar four armed form of Artifex.

”Show me her, and show her this” he ordered the auto-responder, which dutifully projected an image of the builder-priest before him, and projected a vision of him and the vast machine realm to her.

The goblin builder-priest knees buckled as the sight of the vast machine overwhelmed her mind, causing her to fall to them. The sheer enormity of it, the complexity of it, was awe inspiring.

If Kallak were to see it he’d have muttered something about the old man going massively overboard again.

“Holy father. What. What this?” she whispered, voice wavering with shock.

”This.” Artifex spread his hands wide to encapsulate his creation ”Is M.U.S.E. It is a thinking machine. A learning computer. And it is the, well, muse of the Inventors. It is from this vast machine that their ideas and desires are turned from “what ifs” into concrete plans to be executed.”

“So. They yours… and the ‘Lords Over Nature’ too?” she said, once the awe had died down enough to be a background state of mind rather than an overwhelming experience.

”Yes. That one is more of an experiment however. I will be watching her, or rather their, she has been rather successful at expanding their ranks since she arrived in Sancta Civitas I see, progress with great interest. The Inventors meanwhile have shown promise already. The initial version of MUSE has gathered a great deal of data from their initial bout of innovation, a bout that you have personally seen the fruits of, both in what they have made and in how they inspired others to push the boundaries of knowledge, which is why I considered them worthy of this grand expansion.”

The goblin winced at her memory of her treatment of the city’s first and most notable Inventor before saying “They. Special. Yes? Granted… favor?”

”In a sense.”

“And they. Create for you?”


“Oh” she replied, unable to keep a prang of sadness from her tone.

”Ah. I see. So that is how it is.”

“Big Eyes?”

”You fear being replaced. That my blessing of others is a sign of my displeasure in some way? Know that in this you are wrong. You are already my hands upon Galbar. One of oldest and most treasured of instruments. Know that I would never cast you aside.”

“I,” the goblin’s words caught in her throat before she continued “thank you. Do not need more. Should not have said. You speak with us. Listen. Is enough. More is greed.”

The god glanced up at the hovering butterfly and felt a twinge of guilt at having created the auto-responeds, no-mater how useful to both him and his faithful they had been. He gave himself all the time to think he needed, and then answered ”You have served in this role admirably across the generations. You, my child, have served me well with close to all your years. To ask for more power may well be greed, but to receive it would be well earned. Awaken my child, take up your tools and know that your order will always have my blessing”

The builder-priest gasped as the vision ended with a snap of Artifex's fingers. She immediately grasped for her tool belt and retrieved the hammer and chisel resting there as she had been instructed. Each one had been worn by a lifetime of use, intricate decorations and carvings faded and chipped despite being tended to, yet now they were as pristine as the day they had been made. She looked up from them to the blank wall at the back of the temple, the vision still clear in her mind, and she knew what she had to do.

When dawn came and the vespian pottery teaching builder-priest arrived at the temple she found the goblin slumped on the floor before an immense and impossibly intricate carving of Artifex, standing among the endless sea of machines that was MUSE.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 569(+1)
Bowser: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (12/70)
Bowser Jr: Level 6 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (9/60)
Kamek: Level 6 EXP: ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (16/60)
Location: the Land of Adventure

Mimikyu found herself inside the tower after she made her escape from the falling brickwork, and was soon joined by a fox, a bear, a bird, a kid with a hat and, in a rather explosive fashion, a hamster and a robot. She didn't know their names, but she did know that they were friends of her master, which was all that mattered. The big version of her master had even carried the hat wearing girl around along with her master when he’d been sad and the kid had been knocked out. She was, Mimikyu deduced, probably important, which was why when the black arrow shooting bad guys started attacking them again the cloudy ghost used one of her long arms to grapple up to the hat kid’s hat.

Her claw tipped noodle arm snapped up and looped itself under and around the yellow band of cloth, which the pokemon then quickly pulled her body of cloth and cloud up to. There she nestled herself atop the brim while holding on tight to her lemony griping point. She’d stay unless dislodged by the kid or by their enemies.

While the hat kid did whatever she was about to do Mimikyu brandished her fake tail, drawing it back as if to toss it up at the woman assailing those attempting to platform their way up the tower with her arrow shooting contraption.

“Mimi” the pokemon intoned, as visible bolts of yellow electricity were pulled from the battery on her back, down though her cloud like body and up along her arm before coalescing at her tail stick. There the energy raced up the lightning bolt shaped wand, before leaping out above it and forming together into an electro ball. The yellow sphere, that looked a bit like a yellow plasma globe with a core at its center surrounded with a translucent outer shell between which lines of energy sparked and drifted, hung above the wand for there for two of the hat kid’s heartbeat while the last of the energy filled it, before with a “kyuuuuuuuuu!” Mimikyu hurled the football sized sphere up at the crossbow woman. The electro ball angrily buzzed upwards, defying gravity as it raced towards its target.

Outside, Mimikyu’s master gasped for air after his trophy base was tapped, which mostly resulted in him coughing out the smoke surrounding his revival point. Jr glanced around, ready to complain, only to spot Geralt’s gesturing for quiet and stealth as he hurried out of the cloud. Jr begrudgingly followed suit, preferring to not get shot back into stillness right after he had been freed over whinging. The wheels of his clown car deployed, and the boy quickly whizzed his way after the Witcher into his undead cover. He got out of the cloud and into their mists just in time, as Poppi and Tora’s dramatic drill based advance blasted past them, stealing the smoke in the process.

The boy grumbled under his breath about this, and then followed after Geralt as they both hid among the undead crew who were marching their way up the spiral mountain at a steady pace.

Meanwhile the Toadies continued their trophy retrieval task, first heading out to retrieve the courier and then, if they still had the turtle power once he was delivered, trying to fish Bowser out of the pond. As before, successfully retrieved trophies were deposited behind Kamek’s mega tree.
Kallak and co get on a boat

Some time after they emerged from the goblin mine Kallak and Silandrazz boarded a ship headed back to Sancta Civitas. Joining them were Stoshri, the goblin Servant they had met in the mines and Gosyor, one of Stoshri’s many brothers who had convinced him of the merits of heading for the Library to improve his newly discovered magical prowess so that he might help his tribe in the future.

Their journey began on the shores of a lake nestled against the volcano’s base (within which Kammek dived and retrieved some Water mana honey from the bee’s he had made there) before sailing down the river that began in the lake and ended down in the ocean next to the great city. The vessel they were on was a barge filled with partially refined metals dug from the mountain by Stoshri’s tribe. They were going to trade to the city so they could then buy grain, wine, varios manufactured goods and silk harvested from the massive cloud moth caterpillars that grazed in the fertile plains surrounding the city for their tribe.

The vessel itself, which had been built in the city’s docks and purchased with metal ore deliveries, was crewed by goblin tribes-people and powered by a combination of sails, oars and the river’s currents.

“Hope get blowy figurehead with this” Gosyor told the two bug people, gesturing to the barrels of metals stacked in the center of the ship “move more ore, get back faster, will be nice. Rowed before. Is pain.“

Several of the nearby oar goblins piped up in agreement to this statement.

“Or maybe u learn how make Stoshri?”

“Maybe? Can learn?” Stoshri asked Kallak hesitantly

“Yeah, can we?” Silandrazz asked

“If you want, though I believe the people who make those are fairly specialized, at least for the time being. Lots of demand for them at the moment, but it’ll die down once most of the ships have one. Odds are by the time you learn to do it they’ll already be alot easier to get than they are now.”

“Understand,” Stoshri said, discouraged, “what learn then? From what said, there is much. Had to choose”

“Anything, everything, what help tribe is good” Gosyor insisted

“Suppose” Stoshri replied, before thinking for a bit and asking Silandrazz “what you go to learn”

“I’m going to figure out how to make my hive’s Swarmlingz lezz aggressive”

“Oh? That good. Things nasty. How do that? Controle like chompy?” Stoshri asked, referring to Kallak’s giant ant mount who was currently resting next to the ore barrels.

“There’z way too many to do that. So I think I might be able to change them so that they are like the Sancta Civitaz onez? They're all calm as can be right?” she looked at Kallak who nodded “Yeah, so I want to change their nature.”

“Change nature? Can’t change nature. Gods made nature.” Gosyor said

“Same way I can make light, or the figureheadz make the wind blow. With magic” Silandrazz replied, missing the thrust of his question

“That create, not change. Why change what made by gods? It perfect”

“I. uh. But not everything is made by the godz. Our preacher taught us how most of this land waz made by the lifeblood. It is chaos incarnate, so how could everything that waz made be perfect?” Silandrazz tried, floundering as a result of not expecting to have to defend the idea of changing nature, despite Artifex’s warning that she would.

“But he make you” Gosyor retorted

“The gods didn’t make perfection” Kallak interjected, mostly due to his own personal feelings about his father, eliciting a chorus of gasps from the ship’s goblins. Upon realizing he’d have to justify this he tried “I mean… I’m not a builder-priest but aren't both Cadian and Artifex about working towards something greater? To chase perfection? To build a better world? They wouldn't want us to do that if the world was already perfect“

“Yes!” Silandrazz said, happy that someone had her back even if it was just a result of Kallak trying to cover his own thorax again “Why stop with just building stone and wood, why stop trying to become better by just practicing and training. Why not change thingz, change nature, build with it, make it serve our needz.”

The goblins grumbled at this, dissatisfied with the reasoning, but before the arguing could continue Stoshri asked “Change nature of Goblin?”

“What?” Gosyor gasped

“Help tribe by make tribe better goblin? Goblins is-”

“Shh. no.” Gosyor cut him off before he could finish “we done. Talk about other things yes? No good arguing when on ship together” before forcibly steering the conversation towards where a good place to stop for midday rest would be (goblins slept twice a day, once around midday, when it was too bright and hot, and once around midnight, when it was too dark and cold) and what they’d be doing about food. Silandrazz however refused to let it go.

What was that? What were you going to say? Goblins are what? she asked Stoshri though the telepathic link they had as Servants

Should not say. Is goblin. Not for others ears Stoshri he replied

You were going to say it though! You were agreeing with me right? I liked where you were going, with making ourselvez better too. Maybe I could make it so I don't have to staff walk everywhere, that'd be great!

Is not bad to say. Won’t say. But do agree. Use magic. Make people better. If change nature of swarming, then can change own. Become better. Get stronger. Be Tougher. Live longer. Stoshri said, before going quiet. He’d all but communicated what his brother had tried to stop him saying, what the goblins hated to admit. They lived short lives, they were small, the sun hurt their eyes and they lacked remarkable traits like natural armor, flight or water breathing.

Compared to the other races, Goblins were weak.

It took them some time to get talking again. While the silence hung in their minds the crew ship parked on a sandy riverbank, where stone anchors were cast into the water and other ropes were tied to sturdy forest tree trunks to prevent it from floating free. Their vessel secured the crew headed for the cool protective shade of the forest. A decent campsite was located where they lit cooking fires, posted sentries, and rolled out a collection of tents and mats for sleep.

As the sun rose higher those goblins who intended to not simply hid in the tents fished out sunglasses made of bone, cloth or other materials with horizontal slits cut in them in a manner akin to snow goggles to reduce the impacts of the harsh midday sun on their more sensitive eyes. Not wanting to be left out, Silandrazz popped her hood over her head, covering her own eyes with a fine paper mesh (made mainly to keep sand out of them, leaving Kallak the only person with their eyes exposed.

“Stoshri. Come. We go hunt forage.” Gosyor told his brother once the camp was mostly set up, more or less dragging the sullen Servant along with him and a number of other goblins who knew the ways of the forest.

You’re not in trouble are you? Silandrazz asked though their mental link as the goblin moved off into the woods.

Is alright. Only words. Stoshri thought back as he vanished from sight

Oh good. Words can still hurt though. I remember how mad my sisters were when I snuck out at night to find out what Kallak was upto. See it’s really cold out there in the desert. You can easily freeze or get nabbed by a land fish and she ended up telling the goblin about the night she’d met god, leaving out the fact that Kallak was an Avatar as she had promised him, only to be interrupted during her tale before she could get to the part about divine intervention.

S-rr-. S-un- -ad came Stoshri’s muffled and broken words through their mental link

What was that Stoshri? Your words were all fuzzy. Are you alright Stoshri? Stoshri? Stoshri! she thought back, with increasing panic as nothing came back before calling out “Stoshri!” and talking off into the air and dashing off into the forest in the direction the foraging party had gone, much to the surprise of those still at the camp.

“Silandrazz! What’s the matter? Ah beetle spit” Kallak called after her, before he ended running through the woods after her.

------i. S----r-. ---shri! Stoshri!

For his part Stoshri had been in the middle of being chastised when Silandrazz’s fuzzy mental messages suddenly, and seemingly arbitrarily, snapped back into clarity despite the fact that she hadn't actually gotten that much closer to them. He could hear her buzzing wings far to the left of the goblin group. The Vespian he was finding, had a knack at getting lost.

Am here, he told her, before mentaly giving her an indication of the way she needed to go

“Can’t say that. Goblin pride important.” Gosyor was saying when the sound of her wings coming closer caused him to drop the subject. She managed to fly right over their heads, missing the small green people in the undergrowth, before Stoshri yelled at her to come back.

“There you are! I was so worried when the mind thing got messed up. I’m glad your ok” Silandrazz said

“Was strange. Was quiet. Then suddenly back when you over there” Stoshri said, before pointing

“Mind thing? You talk. What I just say not do?” Gosyor said exasperatedly

“It just story. Hers” Stoshri replied

“Fine fine.” Gosyor sighed

“Yeah. Then it all went weird. You said it started working again when I was over there?” Silandrazz asked while Kallak caught up with her, a little breathless

“Yes. Odd. Thought was distance. But got closer than there buzzing around.” Stoshi noted while scratching his head, his rainbow speckled eyes scanning their surroundings but not seeing anything amiss. “Is like something in way? Muffling link?”

“Maybe you should see if you can narrow it down,” Kallak suggested, having poked Artifex and gotten the answer already “and work out where specifically the thing that caused the issue is?”

“Yeah! Stay here. I’ll go fly around a bit” Silandrazz said before talking off

“And I’ll make sure she doesn't get lost again” Kallak said, forming a glowing mote above them to indicate their location to the flying wasp woman

It took them some time to figure out the source, the two Servants moving to and fro in the forest to resolve the area that was causing the disturbance before closing the distance till they found themselves on opposite sides of a maple tree.

“Cant hear!” Stoshri called, causing Silandrazz to buzz around the base of the tree to join him. After a few moments of staring at each other he concluded that “still nothing. So. Is tree?”

“Red Maple Tree,” Gosyor, who’d spent more time in the forests than the other three had combined, said as he squinted up a t the tree’s leaves, “Sap tasty. Keep awake. Good find.”

“And it seems to hate magic” Kallak said, indicating to the light globe they’d been using to stop Silandrazz from losing the ground party which was fluttering as he approached and which then promptly died as he joined them at the base of the tree.

“Why tree hate magic?”

“Who knows. The gods make strange things sometimes.” Kallak replied

“God, not lifeblood?”

“Just a guess. Anyway, guess you’ve got another thing to add to your list of barter. ”

“Why would anyone want a magic killing tree?” Silandrazz asked

“Protection against hostile magic? I’m sure they can think of something constructive to do with it, but mainly it's useful to know why Servant communication doesn't work like the Emissaries say it should.”

After that Silandrazz buzzed her way to the top of the tree, hacked off some branches using her spear, raided a few bird’s nests for eggs they could have for lunch and then rejoined the party before they all headed back for the camp.

“So what was story in mind talk anyway” Gosyor asked,

“Oh it was about how I made my sisters really mad after meeting Kallak. I was just about to get the the bit where I talked to Artifex before the link got cut”

“Uh huh...” the goblin replied before he suddenly halted and glared at her disbelievingly “wait what!”

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 615 (minus non story hider) (+1)
Bowser: Level 7 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (11/70)
Bowser Jr: Level 6 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (8/60)
Kamek: Level 6 EXP: ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (15/60)
Location: the Land of Adventure

“Kyu kyu kyuuuuuu!” Mimikyue cried as Jr suddenly fell away from beneath her, his craft and body both frozen by the black arrow that had pierced straight through him. The jr trophy, which had him in his clown car leaning forwards and brandishing a fist plummeted downwards, clonking into the rock wall of the mountain before landing some way up the spiral pathway in the direct path of Blazermate’s oncoming undead minions (and their infiltrator). The near weightless Mimikyu meanwhile, with her cloudlike body, sailed gracefully onwards on their original trajectory until she smacked into the wall of the tower. She hung in the air for a moment, face planted against the wall, before sliding down to the ground and falling over onto her back, dizzy stars spinning around above her head.

Then things started exploding as Peach and Tora both followed up Miniky’s misfired shot to target the tower with a brief hail of bombs. The shots startled her to her senses, causing her to hop upright and rush in through the tower's entryway before the rain of bricks loosened by the explosions smushed her into paste. In doing so she became the first of the party to enter the sniper’s tower.

It looked like she wouldn’t be the last, as a quadrant of daring doers, not the least bit discouraged by jr’s failure, all made a rush for the tower. As Bowser watched from his safe spot just below the gigantified tree’s foliage Banjo and Kazooie , Fox, and the Hat Kid all made their own dashes towards the tower, each platforming like a pro while they did their best to not get shot. The king had been hanging back once he reached the top of the tree, engaging in a nonverbal argument with Kamek and his remaining action mimicking clones about when it was a good idea to do something that would expose him and what that might be.

The mad dash for the tower plus the bee attack and mad air the courier was getting all combined to produce as good a time as any for Bowser to make his move. He grabbed hold of as high in the tree as he could go and then increased his size as large as he could go, bending the top tree down as he did. Then with catlike agility he spun himself onto the now angled trunk before rapidly shrinking down in size and using the tree’s resulting return to it's original posture as a springboard to launch himself with one of his gravity defying leaps towards the tower. As he cleared the foliage he hurled his hat (which now had an E Honda sticker stuck next to the mallow one), which contained a hidden Mallet and Sledge, up at the snipers.

Functionally it was exactly the same ploy as jr had just made, and it ended in exactly the same way but fore one vital difference.

After his hat toss Bowser retracted into his shell, using the momentum of the throw to add a spin to it, and used his dark magic to maximize his size right before a black arrow pierced his body. Unlike jr however, Bowser had all the momentum he needed to complete his journey as the massive trophyfied turtle slammed into the twice exploded side of the castle, rocking it to it's core, before tumbling down into the moat below and producing a mighty splash with his impact.

While all this was going on the three remaining Toadies had, after helping move Euden, grabbed Tora's petrified body dragged him back into cover after he got shot before finally making a run for cup-head and began pulling him towards Linkle and co as well.
Sancta Civitas

It was almost finished. The mighty sailing vessel, the designs of which burned in Tadiza’s mind like an angry god trying to break into reality, was almost finished. It had two decks, thus creating a relatively safe internal area, and sticking out of either side of the ship were two rows of oars, one atop the other. It was the largest and grandest ship Sancta Civitas’ shipyards had ever produced, dwarfing them in terms of size, capacity and rowing power. Even its sails were grander, its mighty masts towering above all others, each end of the beams bound by ropes that spooled down to the deck which allowed them to be directed.

There was little else to be done, she knew, as she carved the Figurehead, the face of the ship in the image of symbol she did not know nor understand, but which she knew was important. Already the winds gently whipped around it as they did the figureheads created by the Emissary, but this one would be something more. It meant something more.

The Inscrutable Inventor knew in the back of her mind that once she finished carving the figurehead it would all be over. Her work would be complete. The rush of inspiration would die. She soldiered on regardless, she couldn’t help it, couldn't stop. She had to see her work complete no matter what.

Others, however, had different plans. The Builder-Priests had seen this play out once before and refused to be caught flat footed again when Tadiza’s Inspiration died and the plans for how to create the wondrous vessel died with her. For the most part they’d been content to shadow her, a small story of priests watching her every move, examining how she and those caught in her spell had created each and every facet of the ship. It had worked so far, they had compiled their findings onto stone tablets that they could use to build yet more craft, but this final part of the ship had them stumped.

“It is like what we make but there's something. Something more”, admitted a carpenter who had produced numerous enchanted figureheads for the city’s vessels.

“I agree,” conquered an Akua Servent called Velnik. The Mage was for all intents and purposes an utterly hairless night elf who lacked the distinctive fonds of the elf clad likely due to a goblin clad ancestor somewhere in his line, “Whatever she is producing I do not understand. I do believe the carving itself is a form of Somatic magic however. Her motions are inefficient and have that artful grace to them that the non verbal spells in The Library knows have.”

“Can you replicate?” asked the aging goblin woman, clad in a black toga and wearing a crown adorned with a replica of Artifex’s horns, who was leading the builder-priest’s observation team.

The Servant shook his head, “no mam, and you’re running out of time.”

“I know child” she told the Akua, who was already older than she would ever live to, before coming to a decision “The ship is a wonder even if we install a mundane windcaller figurehead and who knows when inspiration will strike her again? The risk of ruining the enchantment is worth what you might learn”

She beckoned to a pair of royal guards she’d enlisted and pointed to the Tadiza “Take her. Gently”

“Of course your artfulness” one of the pair of Mantarin woman replied before the two approached the inventor. The two hulking armored ladies stepped around either side of Tadiza’s buzzing wings and grabbed her by the shoulders simultaneously.

“Ah! oh. You scared me. Go away I’m in the middle of some very delicate work” she complained, before squirming futility in their grip.

“Sorry, but you need to come with us” one told her, before they both pulled her off away from the nearly completed figurehead.

“No. Wait. You can’t! I need to finish. Help. Help me!” she yelled to the various workers who had been aiding her in her work. They looked over at her in alarm, but the goblin priest stepped past her, telling them that “All is well. She committed no sins. Will released soon. This all part of Artifex’s plans,” specifically directing these words at the Vespain woman’s sisters who had wound up working on the project.

It was not they who rushed to her aid however, placate as they were by the words of the priest, but instead a goblin captain, three workers and a builder-priest, all of whom had been exhibiting lesser degrees of the same uncanny abilities as the Inventor. The quintet of minions pushed their way out of the crowd, clamoring for her release and echoing her urgency that the work needed to be done now. The builder-priest would have none of it telling them that “you stay till return. Artifex wills it”

“He wills that this task be done!” retorted the Mantarin builder-priest among Tadiza’s minions who loomed over the goblin “and we need her, the vision of his glory burns bright in her”

“We take her. Holy work is to be done. This been agreed by council.”

“Why were we not included? Are Tadiza and I not also two of his many hands upon Gablar?”

“You here. You not right of mind. Stay. It is ordered.” the goblin commanded the comparatively titanic Mantarin, before turning her back on her and moving to join those currently dragging Tadiza away. There was a tense few moments as the Mantarin physically vibrating on the spot as she glared down at the goblin builder-priest walking to rejoin her fellows and the captured Inventor, the other four minions standing tense at her side. But she did not make a move, for in the end her loyalty to her loyalty to her faith blunted the power the Inventor’s mania held over her.

The pair of royal guards dragged the Vespian though the streets as she raged and cried at them to let her return and complete her work, but after a certain amount of time she gew sullen and instead began to moan about them ruining her work and how much she’d need to redo. Her demands were sternly declined. Instead the builder-priests dragged her to an Ant drawn cart, which took her and them up into the palace district, and then to The Library.

The institute of hub of magical learning was abuzz with activity as Tadiza was pulled inside, flanked by Velnik and the gaggle of Builder-Priests. Citizens and professional mages alike could be seen perusing the shelves full of magic literature, listening to lectures, discussing spell-craft or even practicing non destructive spells with the slab sat in front of them. The commotion caused by only drew a few curious glances at first as Tadiza was brought to a section of the library dedicated to the recording of new magics.

“Now. This important. You show The Library magic you inscribing.” the goblin builder-priest ordered her.

“No. You already ruined it. Just let me go back!” Tadiza yelled at her

“Once spell documented you may go child” the goblin explained calmly

“Fine!” Tadiza replied, before, still held tightly in place by the guards, making a grab for one of the glowing motes in the library.

The light did as it was meant to, forming into a stone tablet in her hands which Velnik the Servant eagerly grabbed as soon as it was finished. He rapidly read it over and then shook his head, “It’s like the druid mural. It just says how to become what she is, not how to do the specific thing she was working on. It even says here that it’s not something she can actively decide to do. She needs to be ‘Inspired’ to do anything and then once she’s done the knowledge just slips away. Interesting, very interesting, but not what we were aiming to record.”

The builder-priest sighed, before instructing Tadiza to “Do again. Focus on figurehead child.”

“I am! I can't think about anything else!” Tadiza screamed back at her, grabbing another mote, and yet this too produced the same description. As did the next.

Her screaming and yelling had brought the rest of the library to a standstill. Most simply watched, struck by bystander syndrome. In the end it was a painter who barreled out of the newly constructed section of the library containing the Walls of Infinity to complain about the ruckass.

“Be quiet.” the goblin artists demanded, jabbing a paint mixing stick at them “making happy paint. you ruin my joy with noise!”

Everyone shut up and stared at the fuming goblin. Then Velnik had an idea. “Yes yes, this is perfect we can still get something out of her. Expect this I mean” he said before shoving the tablet about Inventors into the priest's hands and walking over to the painter “You can make paint out of anything, correct? Even abstract things like thoughts and emotions?”

“Seems so? Expose ink to thing. It becomes like thing” the goblin agreed, still rather angry “what to you?”

“We’re going to need some rope”

“Was mad. But this cruel” the painter admitted as Tadiza squirmed and raged in the chair she’d been tied to, surrounded by bowls of ink in the vault used to store that paint. She’d been tied there for quite some time, which had allowed the ink to soak up her Inspired mental state, or so they hoped. Several of those present were starting to regret the entire ordeal, but they’d come too far now to stop.

“Must be done now?” the builder-priest said, to which the artist nodded, before asking “Who test?”

“Well it was my idea” Velnik said, taking a paintbrush and dipping it in the ink “I just apply this to my body and it’ll work?”

“Yes. Briefly. We trying make better ways-” the painter was explaining when Velnik dabbed the ink on his forehead. He stopped explaining because the elfine Servant promptly decked the builder-priest in the face and then used magic to form a trio of stone knives out of thin air which he fired at the three sets of rope holding Tadiza captive, expertly severing each and every one.

“Be free, free! ah ha ha ha!” he laughed as the wasp took off and bolted past the group, before coming to his senses just in time to be tackled by one of royal guards.

Once the dust settled and things had been worked out the group went racing after the Vespian.

“There was some of it in there, I could feel the ‘Inspiration’, but it was distinctly her Inspiration and it was clouded by the anger and frustration” Velnik yelled as they raced through the streets. It was obvious where Tadiza was going and in quick succession they traveled by ant back down to the docks where the Vespian Inventor was yelling at her minions and the workers to start tearing out parts of the ship. She completely ignored the arrival of her kidnappers, having become deeply re-enraptured with her project.

“So. It wasn't all in the figure head. Interesting” Velnik noted as the ship’s mast crashed down onto the dockside, while the builder-priest cupped her head in her hands and mourned all the progress they’d just lost.

“All for nothing” she groaned

“Well, we could always try pulling it directly out of her right?” Velnik said as he glanced at the painter for confirmation,

“Well. yes. create also destroy” the painter reluctantly explained

“No. Done enough damage.” the builder-priest said, her own actions having grown nauseating to her in the stark glare of hindsight and at the sight of the destruction it had caused.

“Could bring ink out here. Absorb while working?” the painter suggested, “much less cruel”

“Ah but wouldn't that have the same issue of contamination?” Velnik replied

“From sun. Working spirit. Sea air. Not rage. Less distracting?” the painter replied

“Hmm. perhaps. There must be a way to filter the ink. Get exactly what you want” Velnik thought, rubbing his chin, “but even if we do that, we’ll only be able to get this servile effect.”

“Will Inspire her again?” the builder-priest asked,

“Maybe? She seems to be a new breed of Servant or witch. Only specific people can do what she does”

“If so, do it. Get something out of ordeal”

Which was how Tadiza ended up spending the entire rebuilding process being followed around by people carrying bowls of ink, much to her annoyance.

“Wooooow. What iz that!” Silandrazz the Vespian Servant asked as she pointed at a startlingly tall creature that towered over the forests below. It was so freakishly tall that it had to bend its long neck downwards to actually reach the tree leaves it was grazing on.

“It’s a tall, long necked rat” Kallak replied, as he dusted off a stray piece of sand off of his Cloak of the Commoner. The pair had left the desert behind after Silandrazz had eventually managed to convince her sisters to let her go study and Kallak had sworn multiple oaths to both Atrifex and Tekret Et Heret that she would be safe. Now the two were halfway through their journey across the dormant volcano splitting the interior desert from the warm semi tropical forests and verdant plains that covered the east of the island. They were traveling across the rocky ground of the mountainside, a sparsely vegetated place unfit for living, though not one that was unoccupied.

From her spot sitting on Chompy the Civitas ant’s thorax Silandrazz had already marveled at the sight of far away Sancta Civitas, its white walls unmistakable even at this distance, and at the crashed remains of the second of the three Vespain craft that had hit the island some 1400 years ago. Now she was taking in the wildlife she could see in the forests that they would be traveling though after they got down from the mountain.

“That’s a weird name,” Silandrazz said, when told the epic creature she was looking at was called a tall, long necked rat “,What else iz in there?

“Well there's long rats and knife-toothed rats and snaggle toothed rats and hoof rats and”

“Sensing a pattern here”

“Well there's also wolf ants. Legends also tell of a mysterious creature with ashen wings, obsidian fur and a long tong that it uses to suck out the souls of-”

“what even iz a rat?” Silandrazz asked, still on the previos topic and disinterested in Kallak's ghost story.

“You know those little furry things. Run around. Squeak alot?”

“You mean marmots”

“If it has skin it's a rat” Kallak explained, “Sure out here in the wilds you might give them non rat names for some reason, but to a Civitian, a rat's a rat.”

“What. Really? So what, are Goblins just green rats then” Silandrazz joked

“What. No. Do not go around calling them that if you want to keep your legs un-stabbed” Kallak said, turning round to look her in the eyes to make sure she understood how serious he was being.

“Does. Does that happen a lot?” Silandrazz asked, suddenly worried

“The stabbing or the insults? Either way neither that much, you just have to not fall into the wrong crowds to avoid that in the city. Now out here, there's a bit more tension”

“Coz of the swarmlingz right”

“A bit. There’s also some Goblins who are still holding onto the ‘we here first' mentality despite the one thousand four hundred and two years its been since the ships landed”

“That... iz a really specific amount,” Silandrazz noted

“The Queen has been counting the years since Artifex left” Kallak said before moving them back to the gobblin issue “anyway, we’re coming up on a goblin mining camp, so try not to cause a scene. I think they’ll be ok with you, most of the tribes that trade with the city are, so just don't go around insulting them and you’ll be fine”

“Alright. No calling them rats. Got it” Silandrazz retorted, right before a nearby rock yelled “oy. Who callin us rats”

Both of the insectoids screamed in surprise at the sudden intrusion into their conversation, Kallak literally turning white with shock while Silandrazz took off into the air in a panic, brandishing her trident. The two got a hold of themselves however when a goblin stepped around a nearby rock formation and revealed himself to be the source of the words “ahhh oh hello there” Kallak said, rolling right out his surprise into a greeting before asking “why were you just hiding behind that rock?”

“Snuck up. Investigate noisy people.” The goblin, who had a sling by his side and was dressed in a mix of furs and fabrics, explained, before looking the pair up and down “You bee bug? Kallak?” he asked Kallak “no wasp with Bee bug last time”

“I am indeed Kallak, and I did pass though the nearby town seeking the elusive Earth elemental bee some time ago yes” Kallak said, once he’d parsed what the goblin was saying

“I’m not a wasp” Silandrazz corrected up at the goblin

“Not rat” the goblin retorted with a hint of malice

“Deal” Silandrazz replied

The goblin blinked in surprise, and then laughed, “Deal. What name?”


“Good. Am Gosyor. Chase Perfection Silandrazz.” The goblin greeted her

“May your work stand ever strong Gosyor” Silandrazz replied

Gosyor the goblin nodded and then pointed at Kallak and told him “You. Kallak. Elders will want speak with you.” before waving at them to follow and running ahead.

“Is that a good or a bad thing?” Silandrazz asked. Kallak wasn’t sure

In Silandrazz’s opinion it had turned out to be a bad thing, because after a brief conversation with a pair of the goblin tribe’s elders they ended up deep underground.

“You don’t have to come, you know. it’s my issue to deal with.” Kallak told her as they crawled through the goblin sized mineshaft. The shaft was a natural formation that had been widened, smoothed and carved in places to make it easier to navigate down into the depths of the mountain. The six limbed Mantarin scuttled along with relative ease, and was having a better time of it than the Vespian, who was stuck shuffling forwards on her knees

“You’re heading down to deal with an issue they’re have with the earth beez you… found, and I’m wanted to see them. I just wish these tunnelz weren't so horribly small”

“Silandrazz little taller than goblin. Vespian dig hive underground. Why bad?” Gosyor asked. The goblin who’d found them had been tasked with leading them down into the mines his tribe owned, and unlike the other two was happily walking through the short access tunnel. He claimed his people have navigated it in the dark, but both the insects had insisted that Kallak be allowed to use a light spell to light their way.

“We make them big enough to fly in” Silandrazz replied “or at least pole walk in.” the Vespian had brought her tribes signature trident with her, but the tool was proving more a nuisance than a useful crutch in the crammed tunnel.

“Not perfect” Gosyor said, insulting her tribe’s tunneling skills in the worst way possible “is fine. Almost to big cave.”

“Thank the prophets” Silandrazz sighed

Sure enough, after only a touch more crawling they emerged to a wonderful sight. Before them a vast cave system sprawled out, one made from the eroded remnants of the volcano’s old magma tunnels (though none of those present knew that was what they where). Kallak’s light spell bathed the large tunnel in a cool blue light. Water ran down across the rocks, flowing to and from places unseen and unknown. In a place deeper down they could see the water had pooled, and within that pool ghostly white creatures could be seen swimming. Moss and fungus grew in small amounts against the cave walls, and insects roamed the caves, feeding on the plants and each other.

“I didn’t know anything could live down here.”

“Do. Good for snacks.” Gosyor explained before setting off up the cave and away from the fish “Come. This way”

The trio headed upwards now, following the flow of the water and a rope guide through a veritable maze of natural tunnels. With the light of Kallak’s spell they could see where various parts of the cave had been dug out by the miners and as they traveled further they could hear them working, metal clinking against stone up ahead.

They found the miners in an oasis of light provided by a few stone braziers that kept their burning contents up off of the water soaked floor. The goblins were busy extracting silver from the cave walls vie a process of heating the ore using fires lit from the braziers, then rapidly cooling it again using splashes of the running water to crack it free from the surrounding stone and finally using heavy hammers to smash the ore the rest of the way out.

“Stoshri. How Bees?“ Gosyor yelled once they’d passed most of the mining team, attracting the attention of one of the goblins who was keeping watch over an area further up rather than mining, before explaining “Stoshri get bees somehow. Tell when about to make rocks angry”

What agve the goblin his insight into the mana bees became rapidly clear when Silandrazz saw his eyes. “You’re like me!” she gasped, before buzzing far too close to the goblin’s comfort before he could even start talking, his rainbow flecked eyes blinking rapidly in surprise as she stared into them.

“Am not. Am Goblin”

“No no. I mean you are, but you're also a Servant like me!”

“Am not servant of anyone” Stoshri insisted

“That’s what they all say” Kallak said as he stepped past the pair, “you two clearly have a bunch to talk about. Me and Gosyor will go on ahead and I’ll show him how to deal with the Earth Bees”

“Good. Mine Boss come too!” Stoshri said, before getting another goblin to come join them.

“Make dig hard. Nest on metal. Wear metal as armor. Is strange. Come close to miners and get angry. How deal?” the leader of the miners said after he joined the pair, the three of them moving on ahead, leaving the pair of Servants to get to know each other.

After some convincing Silandrazz dragged Stoshri up and away from the miners to a dry spot in the cave. There she rapidly bombared him with what she knew about what they both were.

“-and Kallak says they can talk to each other using just their mindz! There’s two in the city and he sayz they do it all the time and that people kept bothering them to get them to send messagez to and from the dockz and I’ve been trying to contact them but maybe they are to far away or something because I haven’t been able to do it but maybe I can with you!”

“Stop. to much” Stoshri interrupted the young woman’s word vomit, rubbing his temple as he tried to process what was, to him, a very inefficient manner of speaking “you. Me. talk with mind?”

“Yeah!” Silandrazz replied “Wanna try?”

“Sure?” he agreed in a manner that expressed neither confidence nor enthusiasm

“Ok! I’ll try now,” Silandrazz said before lapsing into silence for the first time since she had met the goblin Servant. Stoshri sighed with relief, and was left to listen the clinking of hammers behind him and the angry buzzing from further up the tunnel.

“Did you hear anything?”

“No. try more.”

A pause



Another pause



“I didn’t say that out loud. Oh by the Prophetz it actually workz.” Silandrazz gasped, before mentally bombarding him with more messages hello! Hey! say something back

“I. What. Is not” Stoshri, who had mostly just been humoring the trident armed wasp woman for most of the time, gaped in awe at the voice shouting at him in his mind.

...hello? he tried tentatively

It workz! It workz “it workz it workz!” Silandrazz cheered first mentally and then out loud, before hugging the goblin, who was still gobsmacked by the whole thing. What followed was the pair running around to test the range of their new found communication(which they did not find), Silandrazz getting lost, panicked and then using the only bit of magic she knew to shoot sparks into the surrounding dark caves till Stoshri found her and lead her back to the fires where they got to talking again.

In quick order Silandrazz had managed to teach the goblin servant how to cast the spark spell she’d used, much to the amazement of the other goblins. The pair’s Servant abilities had made the process of teaching far quicker and more straightforward than the evening it had taken Kallak to teach Silandrazz the spell in the first place. Working together they’d even managed to teach one of the miners how to cast it as well and the three of them were gleefully acting as a fire hazard by the time Kallak returned, smelling of Frankincense and carrying a jar of grey earth mana honey he’d harvested once the smoke had made the bees drowsy. The spark lobbers got themselves yelled at by the mining boss once he’d gotten over the shock, which brought an end to the magical tomfoolery for the time being.

“Well that was quick. I knew Servants were supposed to be good at teaching but this is absurd.” Kallak noted

“Maybe you’re just bad at it.” Silandrazz replied, her ego soaring through the clouds

“Rude, but seeing as we’re heading to the library for exactly that reason, also fair.”

“The library?” Stoshri asked

“oh oh oh. Yeah. The Library. It’s this big building in the city that has two other Serventz and big frog people called Eloxochitli who teach and loadz and loadz of spellz.”

“Many spells? Useful spells? Like light?” Gosyor asked, pointing at the smokeless globe of light Kallak had been using to light up the caves around him, while the mine boss nodded along. Both of them had instantly seen the benefits spell casting could bring to their tribe.

“Oh there's already a lot of spells, and this is a fairly basic ‘tier one’ spell.” Kallak explained, “There’s people who know ‘tier three’ spells that can shoot balls of fire and command the winds and all sorts of other incredible things.”

“You should come, you should come.” Silandrazz told Stoshri “Think of all the thingz you could learn to do there”

“Leave tribe?" Stoshri said uncertainly "Do Servants mind thing instead?”

“I couldn’t reach them before, but maybe we can now that we figured it out?” Silandrazz said

Try as they might however, the pair could not contact the Servants in Sancta Civitas

“Lifeblood’z curse, it’s not working. Is it still too far?” Silandrazz swore

“So,” Stoshri said “stay or go”

“Should go, should go,” Gosyor suggested, slapping his brother on the back encouragingly “Learn strong spells, come back, teach tribe”

“Will elders allow? Is long way”

“Elders see wisdom” Gosyor said, before scratching his chin “ore go soon? Go down in boat! Not so far.”

“Suppose. Hmmm,” Stoshri replied, still uncertain

“I come with”

“ok,” Stoshri nodded, “To Library”

“To the Library!” Silandrazz cheered

“Don’t suppose you could take us too? Be a lot faster than slogging back through the forests. I can introduce you to the Library and set you up for selling this stuff too them,” Kallka asked, before shaking the bottle of magically infused honey.

“Big ant come too? You pay. Put good word with elders. maybe not pay much.”

Kallak sighed and then nodded, before the four of them began the long trek back to the surface to discuss the plan with the tribe’s elders and to hitch a ride on an oar shipment down to Sancta Civitas.

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