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Not long had passed since half of the party had quietly - at least, such had been their intent - crept its way into the great building, and already the sounds of a commotion were heard from within its walls. Briefly shaking his head, Ulor muttered under his breath something about "inexperience", or perhaps "incompetence" or even "indifference"; by all accounts, something beginning with "in" and ending in "ence". It was certainly less intelligible than the final words of his muffled appraisal, which were distinctively "these people". What exactly these people were doing was unclear, considering he did not have even the narrowest view of the interior from his angle, but clearly the infiltration had not been as subtle as it should have.

This was further confirmed when the green imp swung open the cathedral door, hurling a curse and an arrow in sequence at something behind it. Now that the wooden panels between Ulor and the space within were gone, he could see a section of its inner recesses (rather well-furnished, from what could be observed) and a winged reptilian creature hovering inside. A drake in a city temple? This was surely growing progressively more odd.

However, his present position was still not such as to allow him to properly see what else there was inside the temple. With a step, he brought himself within the extension of the doorframe, even as he produced the crystalline orb from his backpack. In faith, he had expected the cathedral to host a rather large gathering in occasion of the supposed ritual, but, considering there appeared to have been no more than three people and the drake present, such was apparently not the case.

Whatever their numbers, though, the cultists' belligerence at the intrusion was not diminished in the least, if the creature's hollow growling was any proof. As such, it were best to expediently reduce them to a harmless condition. Ulor's voice rose in a rhythmic guttural chant, dread arcane formulae humming in the evening air, while his right hand oscillated in keeping with its time. Diaphanous angular shadows coiled around the drake, and a bolt of wraith-fire sprang to crackling life from his fingers, blazing towards the blur of crimson scales.

Once the all too tiresome business of obtaining chamber keys from the garrulous tiefling, who, while eager to familiarise with the party's cat-like guide, apparently had enough good sense left in him not to defer it any further, had finally been brought to overdue completion, Ulor followed Talionis and his load into one of the inn's dusty, but surprisingly spacious rooms. It would be well for him not to stray far from their captives, seeing as none of the others seemed to be equally aware of the value of the secret knowledge this wrinkled wretch doubtless held. If not else, the warrior could be relied upon to keep watch over them out of his ingrained sense of duty, and besides, he was probably the one it was currently safest to rest in the same room with, if previous observations were of any indication.

As the scoundrels were roughly deposited in a corner, he stooped down to examine them, or, rather, the less well-preserved of the two from close by. A curious creature indeed. Just as he did not seem to have ever heard of anything similar to what it had conjured, so he could not recall having at any time come upon mentions of such a being. It was a wonder that it should have been able to run as briskly as it did, considering its apparent age. But, surely, all would become clear once it would reveal its nature. Concerning which matter... Ulor whispered the elder words of a brief incantation, repeatedly passing his hand over the prisoner's head. For an instant, bright sparks crackled over the parched grey skin, faint hints of a strange smell hovering in the air. Distasteful though many would have considered their methods, the inquisitions of the Order were known to be often effective, and it was surprising how many things a novice could see before his probation was over. It was singular what the mere sight of flames could wreak in a bound prisoner in certain circumstances, and Ulor saw with some satisfaction that such tools as necessary were well within his reach.

He was therefore all the more irritated when, upon awakening hours later, he discovered that the villains had made their escape. In hindsight, those knots had seemed suspiciously loose, but, for all he had known, they might have been supposed to look like that. Bothersome it was that the answer to that troubling mystery should have eluded him, his personal vicinity notwithstanding. The matter was not improved by the slight headache which followed having slept without the Octopus's mental link. He truly should hasten with the summoning - it would not grow any worse than this, but it was of little relief against the nuisance. Well, if not else the more tangible pangs in his shoulder had subsided as a result of the somewhat crude bandaging he had applied to it, and the strength of his spellwork was renewed. Whatever challenges the rest of the day had to offer, he was ready.

On their way to the cathedral where the rite promised by the doomsayer was to take place, the feline was spontaneously struck by the idea to introduce the cause of the previous scuffle, who for some reason continued to follow, or rather lead them about (where had the other one gone, now that he thought of it?). All things considered, it might have been practical to exchange names at this point. "Ulor. That will suffice." he hoarsely replied, focusing his gaze on the halfbreed for the moment it took him to speak it; after which it wandered off again, now drawn by the temple's uncharacteristically featureless entrance. Strange. Either this was not established as the place of worship of any single cult, or else... Ah, something was underway after all, judging by the sounds that could be heard from within.

For a moment, Ulor considered simply walking trough the front door and attempting to pass for an adherent. However, he checked himself upon considering those within might have taken measures just to prevent such an infiltration. It was besides just as well that some of the others had taken initiative in beginning to more subtly creep into the building. "Yes, you go forth and see what there is." he nodded at the inquiry, "Then the bulk of us shall follow."

I had a mind of creating my own perilous border region open for traumatic adventure, but, all things considered, it's better to avoid thread overcrowding. I think I might just as well make it a part of the Belt, since border regions are never chaotic enough.
@Quetzalcoatl If you have no problems with it, I'll see where it could fit best and work out some more world-building.
At least one of the timelines shall have something to fill it. Quality of contents may vary.
Ivnluge - Amphibious invertebrate molluscoids-sea urchins. Need symbiotic enhancements or some other sort of protection to function in most environments. Tend to leave unsightly slime trails where they go.

The molluscoid entrepreneur is finally ready and pending approval. If anything about him should be corrected, do mention it while he remains in the limbo of pre-acceptance.
Expansion Disseminator Vnohhai

Name: Gssanmil Flehsim U Vnohhathri. Usually shortened to Vnohhai, as per Ivnluge custom.

Title: Expansion Disseminator. Vnohhai is, at least nominally, in charge of overseeing and organising invasion and generally expansion procedures near its section of Network space, ensuring that everything should be as entertaining as possible for participants and spectators alike. How involved it really is varies on a case to case basis.

Height: About 1.60 metres in diameter. 3 metres with all appendages fully extended.

Weight: 57 kg.

Age: 79 years; well into middle age.

Race/Species: Ivnluge (enhanced).

Tier/Influence: 3 (regional). Individually, Vnohhai is neither physically nor mentally greatly superior to the average human, and his enhancements do not affect his prowess. However, his position and wealth give him easy access to various dangerous toys, ranging from innovative weapons to repurposed security forces. And, of course, his sway in local expansion politics, though limited to a relatively minor section of the Network, is not to be discounted.

Group(s): The Harmonious Network.

Appearance: In many aspects the archetypal image of the average Ivnluge, Vnohhai is not particularly remarkable for his physical traits, at least among his species. His central body size is neither too broad nor too narrow, and its exodermis is of a largely commonplace indigo colour, though the slightly supernormal rate of mucus production induced by his symbiont does give it a glistening sheen unusual among his less thoroughly modified compatriots. Vnohhai's limbs, eleven in total, are almost imperceptibly longer and thinner than those of most Ivnluge, though only an experienced biologist or medical practitioner would notice it at first glance.

Besides his natural attributes, his form is adorned by a bandolier of the sort his species uses to carry about their belongings, draped across the central body in such a manner as not to occlude any of the limbs' extension and rotation ranges. Vnohhai's model is far more ornate than the norm, being constructed of smooth, rectangular black metallic plates over a ring of bright green fabric-like material visible between and beneath them. Every plate is emblazoned with a different silvery irregular polygon, suitably deeply etched to be detectable by touch or resonance if one should lack the visive abilities necessary to admire them. Strapped to it are a number of sleek anemone-hide pouches, as well as the hefty, intimidating wood-like faceted cylinder of a custom-design Dauvnil Spineblaster.

Personality: Within the unassuming fleshly vessel that is Vnohhai's body sits a very frightening combination of traits and inclinations, ever so slightly mitigated by his weaknesses of character. He is as pugnacious and eager to demonstrate his superiority over anyone and anything near or far as the most stereotypical Ivnluge, going so far as to consider himself personally challenged whenever encountering an obstacle of any sort or even hearing about something supposedly very difficult to achieve. However, unlike many others of his species, he eschews direct confrontation with adversity. He does not rely on mere grit and determination to overcome it, but prefers to work his way past it with cunning and subterfuge, something he is patient enough to accomplish most of the time.

Perhaps mercifully for the rest of the universe, the credit chip of Vnohhai's patience has another side, and the caution and subtlety he exerts in his dealings another source than mere concern of self-preservation (though this is not to say that the latter does not play an important role in his life). One of the heaviest constraints on his activity is nothing more than pure and simple laziness. Not laziness of the sort to make him spend days on end in complete apathy, since he is easily prey to boredom without something to occupy him. Rather, it is an unwillingness to invest much effort into anything he does not consider worthwhile, which is a list that keeps growing longer and longer with age. Combined with Vnohhai's otherwise belligerent nature, this sloth gives birth to overconfidence. If he isn't giving as much thought as he probably should to the obstacle of the day, it's not because he is not interested in surpassing it; it's just obvious that he could solve it with a single tentacle and a pheromone blindfold around his sensory organs.

In short, Vnohhai loves himself a challenge, but would rather take his time pondering it over a cup of warm phytoplankton than meet it in the field.

Abilities, Talents, Traits, Powers:

  • 2 Administrative Skill: One does not become Expansion Disseminator or a successful businessmolluscoid for nothing. Through a combination of innate aptitude, cunning, experience and lack of scruples, Vnohhai is never at a loss in directing administrative, economic or logistical activity on virtually any scale, whether it involves meticulous planning or being certain to always have a trick up his figurative sleeve should anything go wrong. In a pinch, he has even been known to give tolerably sound strategic advice.
  • 2 Innate Regeneration: As all members of his species, Vnohhai can regrow lost limbs over a comparatively brief timespan. Normally, about a year and a half would be required for complete restoration, but medical treatment can shorten the timespan to five or six months.
  • 2 Adaptive Symbiont: Having adapted to life in a rather unusual environment, Ivnluge would normally find themselves very ill at ease in most places normally inhabitable by other species. Fortunately, the biotechnological modifications so common in the Network can help compensate for this deficiency. Like most of his compatriots, Vnohhai carries in himself a symbiotic organism that can modify his bodily functions, allowing him to operate in diverse environments without suffering ill effects as long as he is regularly supplied with liquids. This particular creature, being a more expensive "model", is a notch above average, and also contributes to keeping its host in remarkably good health.
  • 1 Amateur Marksman: Despite not having received any formal training, Vnohhai has grown to be somewhat proficient in the use of redoubtable Dauvnil Spineblaster weaponry. While nowhere near the level of a professional soldier and largely reliant on his custom model's enhancements, he can nonetheless prove to be a threat not to be lightly dismissed.
  • 1 Bioship Piloting: Another skill easily acquired but never truly mastered. Vnohhai knows the basics of interfacing with a bioship's controls, and, given a proper craft, can be relied to get from planet to planet if the space is not particularly rough.


  • 1 Storage Belt: A bandolier of the sort spherical creatures use to carry around their belongings. It's a nice belt, but not much aside from that.
  • 2 Custom-Model Dauvnil Spineblaster: A biotechnological construct shaped into a fearsome personal weapon, the Spineblaster fires large sharp spikes of vegetable matter which embed themselves in their target before crumbling into splinters and releasing a corrosive fluid. Though intended for anti-personnel usage, it could conceivably be employed to breach light armour if aiming for a vulnerable spot. This particular one is made even more dangerous by being augmented with a Cyrawaloc relic.
  • 2 Propulsion-Enhancing Relic: For want of a better name, this cryptic ancient device is designated after its only known function: improving the functioning of mechanical propulsion systems to which it is connected in a particular manner. Vnohhai currently uses it to bolster the performance and firing power of his weapon.
  • 4 Personal Organic Shuttlecraft: A small, but functional and luxuriously outfitted private bioship which serves as Vnohhai's usual interplanetary travelling method. The shuttlecraft is not designed for combat, and thus has no significant weapons or armour; however, as a safety measure, Vnohhai has installed a hidden missile launcher in its prow. This addition, loaded with a total of five rounds, can be activated in emergency situations to shoot a projectile laden with toxic gas with enough force to breach a spaceship hull; while the vessel is thus not entirely defenceless, it should be noted that the launcher is generally inaccurate and Vnohhai has virtually no experience using it.
    The shuttlecraft is typically to be found at the spaceport closest to its owner's current location, though, if a docking bay is not readily available, it has been known to be concealed in gulches, craters or even caverns.

History: Born to one of the many seasonal clutches in the equatorial region of the Ivnluge homeworld (known as Ivnall to most of its inhabitants, though its official name is still being fought over by several parties and commissions), Gssanmil Flehsim U Vnohhathri was, for the greatest part of his early years, an unremarkable specimen. While of solid constitution and performing adequately in his instruction, he did not distinguish himself either physically or intellectually before his education period was over and he was thrust out into society to fend for himself. Only then did his skills begin to grow increasingly apparent: in some two decades, Vnohhai amassed a small fortune by the means of deft speculation and an uncanny aptitude in exploiting the ever-shifting markets of the corporation-dominated Ivnall sphere.

However, this early good fortune was soon to be eclipsed by new achievements. In a bold, not to say reckless, move Vnohhai invested most of his wealth in the establishment of an innovative branch of research and commerce: the systematic retrieval, study and exploitation of still-functioning relics from the age of the Cyrawaloc empires of yore. Before then, these remnants, rare and largely shrouded in mystery, were only examined on an individual basis in the measure in which the occasional adventurous explorer stumbled on a few of them in their expeditions, and whether or not they were put to use depended mostly on how obvious their effects were; beyond that, they tended to vanish into some eccentric's private collection or museum. Vnohhai's enterprise revolutionised this anarchic field, gathering together scientists and various specialists with some experience with the matter, tasking them with finding a reasonably straightforward (and profitable) use for newly found relics and finally selling the end result to the highest bidder. It was, and still remains, a minor and risky segment for one to exploit, but, after some initial fiascos, the initial investments paid off, and, owing in part to a lack of real competition, Vnohhai came to establish a monopoly over the field, something he takes care to conceal from the possible attention of roving Composers by the means of a network of puppet companies and secret subsidiaries.

Among the modern Ivnluge, wealth is the main indicator of social influence, and it should come as no surprise that, with his rise to commercial prominence, Vnohhai became more and more relevant in sector politics. Eventually, after years spent amid preparatory scheming, intrigue and corruption, he attained the prestigious position of Expansion Disseminator. The exact functions of this role, as most things in Ivnluge society, undergo continuous change as appointees succeed each other, and Vnohhai was swift to take advantage of this fact. Under his direction, the Expansion sector, which had traditionally served not so much as a tool of conquest as an outlet for the more directly violent tendencies of the Network's inhabitants, became yet another paid service. For a modest upfront fee, a percentage of which is funnelled into the Disseminator's pocket, anyone may "enlist" to go take part in military operations in whatever guise and function they choose, not subordinate to any field authority; the Disseminator provides targets, transportation and, if necessary, equipment.

Though this system does nothing to detract from the already chaotic nature of Network warfare, it has to this day ensured that Vnohhai maintain his role, and, with a necessary quota of regular adjustments to prevent it from stagnating, will likely continue to do so until someone ousts the enterprising relic peddler from his comfortable position. That this should happen sooner or later is, all things considered, inevitable; all that remains to be seen is how long Vnohhai will manage to cling to the apex of his glorious career.
For my part, as interested as before.
As he turned away to leave, the party seemingly intending to question the assailants elsewhere, and dispersed his illusion into a viscous red mist with a sweep of the hand, Ulor briefly gazed into the obstinate merchant's eyes, hissing "So be it, then. You shall know fear." Moving away from the stand, he then promptly forgot about the man, growing absorbed in the quandary of how else he could procure an offering for the immolation, preferably in good condition and at a less blatantly bloated price. Ah, they would be heading towards the city cathedral - assuming this dire place had only one cathedral, as cities ought to - later that day. Surely something of the sort he sought would have been available around it, or, if all else failed, inside it. He could, for instance, make himself pass for an acolyte at the ceremony. His guesses would surely have been as good as the knowledge of anyone but an esoterite...

At that point, his thoughts were interrupted by the group's arrival at their apparent destination. Some sort of inn with a Kobold, of all things, as its insignia. And a homely one, if the writings - some of them scratched over, but he could not read those anyway - etched below a depiction of the creature in question were worth anything. One wondered whom this sort of designation was supposed to attract, but Ulor had seen far worse as inns went, and thus stepped without much reluctance. One crowded space was worth another, after all. Indeed, for the moment none of the motley folk assembled here had charged towards him swinging a weapon, which was already an improvement over the street. That impish figure with the tankards who seemed to be acquainted with their feline guide, presumably the innkeeper, did seem eager to defer them to the services of his hench-goblin, but that was nothing new among the profession.

Conveniently enough, the elf, at whom the goblin's evil looks had been directed, was swift to be cowed into paying what might have more than circumstances required, but that was none of his concern. The less came out of Ulor's own pocket, the more he would have in store for such cases as the inopportune banishment of the octopus. Leaving her to fiddle with some critter, which was presumably what their kin did most of the time, he swept over the occupants of the room with a glance. Various figures of suspicious appearance, now that he thought of it. But this tiefling seemed intentioned to fulfil his share of the bargain, which, in his words, included keeping unwelcome attention away from them, if paid well enough, which he apparently was. If he failed to, he could be- But no, better to ensure he would not fail beforehand.

Reaching for the innkeeper's mind with tendrils of twisted dream, Ulor spoke, his words resounding both aloud and within the tiefling's thoughts:

"SSeeee ttoo iitt tthhaatt tthhee eeyyeess aanndd eeaarrss ooff tthhee mmaannyy rreemmaaiinn aawwaayy ffrroomm uuss. SSttrraayy nnoott ffrroomm yyoouurr tteerrmmss."

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