Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Hopeyouguess62

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-fourth Session, 15 April (part one, departure for Grand Forge, First, Sandrazor tunnel network)
DM62: When the party awakes next morning, the smuggler is gone. Sir Fiske reports that he departed late in the evening, heading south-by-southeast to a destination unknown. Daria is awake with a small smile. "I'll say this for that human... he's got quite the impressive stamina, for an older human."

Vel yawns and get's up, having detailed Evie and likely vise versa and moves over to get something to eat. "Mmmf, good to know I guess?... We should probably get ready to get to work, right Hel? Evie?"

Hel: The dwarf groans a little as he gets up, having used his shield as a makeshift backrest during the night, and looking quite tired either way. He gives a shrug to respond to the chimera, still not quite awake.

Vel blinks, then moves up and grapples onto his face. "Oi! Why have you been sleeping on your shield? Darn it, I'm supposed to be bringing you back in good condition! Cmon, we're getting food in you." She huffs and let's go and straighten's his clothes with her tail as she grabs food to bring to him

Evie: Moving over with the others, Evie slowly dressed, about as concerned with her nudity as Vel was. But still it only took her a few moments before even the mask was in place again. She gave Daria a sly wink before sitting, having fed the night before.

DM62: The Queen looks over, nesting with a few of her guards. "We are... building a temporary home. I'm beginning to establish basic directives in the minds of my subordinates, but I'm still not sure if I can let them go." One of the guards moves up to the Queen, non-verbally communicating. The Queen looks back to the party. "This is the First of my guards. Her... body is not designed for verbal communication." The large guard looks over. "Pleazed to meet you." She blinks, antennae wriggling.

Evie: "Not sure how we'll be able to communicate with her then," Evie said, leaning forward, steepling her fingers.

Vel: "Oh. Hello.," nods Vel to the bug as she brings food over to Hel. "Eat up you while I comb your hair, we need to have you presentable to your subjects."

DM62: The guard blinks again. "You mizunderztood... I am not going with you. I waz merely reporting to the Queen." The Queen nods. "I could send First if you wish... but I would be concerned about how she would handle autonomy. Still... if you wish me to send her as a guard, I suppose I could do that."

Vel: "Uhhh... How good is she at sneaking? I mean me and Evie stick out like sore thumbs so we're relying on not being seen as we stalk Hel."

Hel: The dwarf nods to the newest companion, some of the food starting to get his mind working a little more. "Hopefully it won't take more than us to do anything once we get inside. Just need to figure out where the imposter is, if we are to be blunt. Or a way to discredit him, and THEN track him down."

Evie: "Might be best not to. The plan's risky enough as is. I merely, misunderstood," Evie said with a slight shake of her head.

DM62: First looks at Vel. "I can be zilent, iz needed." Arturus shrugs. "But she'll stand out quite a bit if you try bringing her into Grand Forge." The Queen nods. "All true. But First can also tunnel quite well. She could get you into Grand Forge without having to enter via conventional gateways."

Vel: "...I can see a lot of uses for having someone who can let us do dynamic entrances.," muses Vel, "And she probably climbs even better than I can. If you're willing to listen to us, I could see it working. Also to remember I'm not food even if I am smaller than you. Had waaaaay enough of that in my lifetime." She finishes eating then starts brushing Hel's hair.

DM62: "Zmall creature not zood... okay." First blinks again, leaning in to examine Vel for a moment, then moving back, satisfied for the moment. "I can ztart digging when you are ready... though the ground iz zandy, zo keep zome diztance." The Queen nods. "Just... keep an eye on First when you get a few miles out. My telepathic control does have limits, and sapience is... traumatic, for the unguarded."

Vel: "Well, talk her through some of what she may experience so it doesn't hit her suddenly.," says Vel,
looking to First, "I'll take care of her I guess. Well, her and the others."

Evie: "If your going to make a mess when digging, do it a few feet away. I'd rather not have food spoiled because we didn't want to walk fifteen feet," Evie said, her eyes flicking between the queen and First, before glancing over to watch the brushing with the slightest of smiles.

Hel: Finishing his meal, and looking a bit more presentable due to the preening of the others, the dwarven monarch's soon on his feet and checking over his things, ensuring items such as signet rings are close in reach and his weapons are prepped. He takes a moment to give the axe a once-over with a sharpening stone before returning it to his back.

DM62: "The Queen... zhe haz prepared me. I think." First looks to the Queen, who gives another nod. "Go ahead and start digging the tunnel, First. Come back if you feel tremors of other creatures moving through the earth near your path. You already know the direction--I have seen it, in the drider's unconscious mind." First gives a nod, starting to burrow into the sand, forming a tunnel that leads into a rocky part under the layer of sand. Arturus looks over at Hel. "Hopefully one of us gets to claim Malgra's head in the next few days." He gives the dwarf a nod.

Vel nods in satisfaction once she finishes with Hel, and looks about before going to fetch her thieves tools and such, and some straps and a cloak so she can carry them. IT's all illfitting on her, but it had to do. "I'd rather know what's in it.," shrugs Vel, "All set?"

Hel: He nods as well. "An end to this war will be a help, indeed."

Evie: "For everyone," Evie said, giving Vel a meaningful look before she rose and moved over to Daria. "Take care of yourself mistress."

DM62: First's tunnel is roomy for Vel, but feels a little cramped for Evie and Hel, who would have a hard time getting past each other (marching order?). Daria gives Evie a small embrace and a kiss on the cheek. "I suspect I'll be far safer than you, my dear bodyguard. Keep the dwarf prince alive, if possible. And come back to me in once piece."

Vel nods at Evie, before looking forward determinedly. "I'll move after First, I can see in the dark."

Evie: Drawing down her mask and kissing Daria's lips, Evie returned the embrace, then moved last into the tunnel to take up the rearguard, letting the succubus noble view the last sways of her hips before she vanished underground, crouching slightly, tail winding around her leg and wings scrunched tight to her form. She was nigh invisible in the shadows.

Vel: "Heh, guess you must be used to this given your education, Evie?," muses Vel as she trots along the ground, and occasionally clambers along the walls, "The surface lacks the combination of crampedness and verticality of dark elf and drider architecture."

Hel: Keeping between Evie and Vel, Hel tries to keep up with the odd little group as they move, more or less silent beyond the clatter and rustle of his equipment. "Well, ye got to start those tunnels somewhere," the dwarf remarks with a bit of a wry smile.

Vel: "Not on the surface I don't.," smirks Vel, "Course, kinda jealous of Firsts ability to dig about. If I could do that myself, mmm, the places I coulda gone..."

Evie: "I never had to crouch so much," Evie replies, her hand running over the ceiling of the tunnel, letting a few rocks fall to clatter quietly on the ground, as if to tell the others she was there.

DM62: First is silent as she digs, occasionally diverting the group to the right or left around what presumably are places unsuitable for tunneling. Her antennae twitch about as she moves, seeming to sense the layout of the ground around them through small tremors in the earth.

Hel: "Certainly efficient. Not a lot of dwarves would notice the danger signs so quickly. But hey, that's just how some things work.

Vel: "No? Well not too surprising, that house is pretty isolated, so you wouldn't be as exposed to the more wider society and structures or wandered through the more narrow tunnels and such.," shrugs Vel as she moves on all fours, "Yeah, thrull are pretty amazing. Kinda scary too, but gonna be honest, everything bigger than me is pretty damn scary."

Evie: "Boo," Evie teased, reaching over Hel with her tail to slide it up along Vel's side, before pulling it back.

Hel: "To be fair, we've done decent enough with the tools the goddesses gave us as well," the dwarf quips. "Cept for Nullmetal, that's a bit of a tricky spot, but hey, if someone ages ago figured out a way, we just need to figure it out again, eh?"

Vel rolls her eyes, smirking as her tail gives Evie's one a lick. "I may well have reacted if I didn't literally face two directions at once at all times and have heat sensors in my tail. It's not great, but I can make you out a little." She smirks at the dwarf, "Oh I've no doubt your city will be quite impressive inside when I see it. Course I'll be seeing it from above. You remember the plan?"

DM62: First pauses. "There are... tunnelz dug out ahead. A large network of tunnelz and collapzed tunnelz. It would take... zome time to go around. I do not zenze any movement in theze tunnelz, for now."

Vel: "Old mines maybe?"

Hel: "Can you tell the composition of the tunnels? Are they more naturally formed or carved in the earth?"

DM62: First shakes her head. "Dug... dug like my tunnelz. But not thrull."

Vel: "Almost certainly old mines. May as well see where they go.," says Vel, musing, "I can lead us back by scent if need be."

Evie: "Perhaps newer mines as well. Who knows what the Dwarves of Grand Forge have been getting up to," Evie said quietly.

DM62: First shakes her head. "Odd zzent. Not dwarz." She begins tentatively digging, moving slowly, to open up a path into the tunnel network ahead.

Vel: "We'd feel vibrations of the picks. We'll find out soon enough. Hmm, lemme try." She starts snuffling about.

Hel: "Old mines, underground passage, or the abandoned den of another beast."

Vel: "...Smells like... Scriders..."

Evie let her dagger slip into her fingers. A moment of comfort as she listened to what the others had to say. "Scider nest."

DM62: First stops, looking at Vel. "Zcriderz?"

Vel: "Strange, I didn't think scorpions were known for tunneling. The big bug people with the tails and claws the hive attacked yersterday."

Hel: "...Sandrazors. Hopefully it's just a nest of wild ones and not ones owned by Malgra..." the dwarf king growls."

Vel: "Is that their name? Hmph. I like scrider."

DM62: First shakes her head. "There iz no movement ahead of uz." She still digs more slowly, trying not to disturb the earth too much, breaking into an older tunnel, clearly burrowed but in a somewhat more haphazard manner.

Evie: "Whatever they're called... will these tunnels lead to the GRand Forge?" Evie asked, investigating the tunnel they were within still, looking for a way to collapse it easily. To prevent anything from finding a quick way back.

DM62: "Yez, it will be zazter. But these... zandrazorz... or zcriderz... may be rezting ahead."

Vel: "They might. They might be how the orcs took Grand Forge to begin with. If so, we could use these against them. Well, let's take a looksee. They live in a desert,. they can;t be as adapted to the underground as we are. If there's a bunch we might be able to take em all out somehow. And if there;s too many we sneak by."

Hel: "Let's hope that this is just a coincidence at any rate," the dwarf remarks, though does his best to be a bit more quieter as much as his kit allows.

Evie: "Not many of em out there," Evie says pointedly. "We should also collapse the tunnel. Else they'll just follow our footsteps to the camp."

Vel: "IF we leave survivors and they notice.," whispers Vel, "But even if they do reach the camp, they poke out amidst several hundred thousand. If anything I encourage them to blunder that badly."

DM62: First clicks her mandibles. "Iz they are not in their tunnelz... where are they?" She pauses, moving back to collapse part of the tunnel behind the group, silently causing sand to fill the way back.

Evie: "And right by the queen. And our own tents. Doesn't take much to get a few loose arrows and knifes going in a direction we don't want them to," Evie said, giving First a nod.

Vel: "Mmm... In the city. Or already on the road for the forest. We'll have to see. In any case, I doubt theycould get that close without all the thrull feeling the vibrations but whatever. It's filled now. No way to escape now."

Hel: "Maybe in the city, or with the rest of the orcs... This does seem weird..."

DM62: Surprisingly enough, the way ahead is relatively-clear, and the party moves much faster given the relatively-straight or slightly-curving tunnels. The party would guess it to be close to evening as First stops, clicking her mandibles again with her antennae twitching. "Dwarzez ahead... and orcz." She clacks her mandibles, looking ready for a scrap.

Vel: "Let's scout it out before we engage.," says Vel, "We don't know if these dwarves are loyalists, slaves, or somewhere in between. You two hang back, me and Evie will take a looksy then come back?"

Hel nods, but his hammer is ready in his hand either way, holding his shield with a tighter grip.

Evie kept her dagger in hand, moving closely behind Vel. Silent, unseen, and not evena scent. She was in her element now, scouting. Sneaking. A few silent kills. She was eager for it.

DM62: First nods, indicating what looks to be a recently collapsed tunnel. "Through here iz zzent of orcz and dwarzez."

Vel frowns, looking at it. "...Okay, maybe we can't sneak through... Well. May as well go through and hope Hel can convince the dwarves we're nicer."

Evie: "How quietly can you dig?" Evie asked First. "We might be able to use stealth still."

DM62: First blinks, looking at Evie. "I can... dig around, to a place with no zzentz. Then you move through big tunnelz to zurprize orcz?"

Vel: "That might be a better plan. I'd jsut worry they could feel the vibrations..."

DM62: First looks at Vel for a moment. "Zo... zhould I dig?"

Vel: "Are both groups in the same spot?"

Evie: "You should," Evie whispered, looking along the tunnels, in case of fellow sneakers.

DM62: "I... think zo." Her antennae twitch. "There is a plaze... with only a zmall zzent of dwarz and no orcz."

Vel: "Mmm, why not, minimize people we terrify I guess."

Evie: "Indeed it would. Let's get digging."
 

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-fourth Session, 15 April (part two, entering Grand Forge, the child, bombs, orc guards, Malgra's gambit)
DM62: First blinks again, then starts slowly digging the new tunnel. Eventually, she opens a path into what looks to be a dwarven home of carved stone. The dwelling is mostly empty... except for a small dwarven girl, who is staring at the thrull guard when Hel and Vel arrive, with Evie as rearguard.

Vel: "...Sorry sweety, we'll fix your wall soon.," says Vel quietly, "Can you keep this a secret for a short while?" She smiles, purring, and trying to be comforting

Hel looks sheepishly at the dwarven girl, but tries to not look as threatening as he was prepped to be.

DM62: The girl is clinging to a small wooden toy of a dwarf with an axe, her lips quivering slightly. But she nods. Then her wide eyes spot Evie coming in through the tunnel as well, and she takes a small step backward.

Vel: "Oh. that's Evie. She looks scary but is nice.," says Vel, "Don't worry we'll slip away quick. First, can you fix the wall quickly while I take a peek outside to see the situation. Don't worry sweety, you're safe. See, there's big dwarf warrior here, jsut like your toy, he wouldn't let us be bad, right?"

Hel: "Indeed, do not worry child. We will not harm you"

Evie kneeled in front of the child and drew her mask down, showing as kind a smile as she could manage, and put a finger before her own lips. "Sshhhh." She sounded, gently patting the girl's head.

Hel: "If I am to guess, your parents are crastmen, right? Where are they, little one?" he asks, noticing the dwelling's various interior clutter. For now he also sheathes the hammer, just in case.

DM62: The child looks calmer now, and looks with wide eyes at Evie, but not quite afraid anymore. Then she looks to the dwarf, and back to her toy, and at the dwarf again. "Dad's... at Borgan's. Borgan's Brew. Mom... Mommy... the orcs..." She blinks back tears. "Daddy said not to cry, cos we're gonna kill the traitor prince and the god-dess-damned fuck-ing Ironbreakers some day. But I'm not asposed to say that to orcs." She clings her toy to her chest. First, meanwhile, quickly and quietly patches up the wall as best a thrull can.

Vel: "Don't worry dear. We don't like orcs either. Do you know where the orcs usually go?," asks Vel

Evie: "Good thing we're not Orcs then," Evie said, drawing the young girl into a gentle embrace, wrapping her wings around the young Dwarf but not obscuring her head with the leathery limbs. She let her speak, and just did all she could to comfort the child.

Hel gives a bit of an awkward glance to Vel, before nodding and giving the child a smile. "Don't worry, we're here to help with that. We'll make sure the Ironbreakers get what they deserve for this." He wracks his brain for a moment, thinking of some of the blueprints he used to consult to see if he could pinpoint the brewery. A crowd of potential allies, even if they are volatile, could be worth checking out.

DM62: Hel has a basic idea of where he is, though it would help to leave the dwelling. The girl nods. "The orcs... are in the Goldenglitter home. Two doors to the right. They... they took the Goldenglitters away." She lets Evie hug her, quietly chewing her lip and squinting her eyes to bravely keep the tears at bay.

Vel: "I see. Thank you dear. Don't worry, we've some ideas how to make the orcs go away. You go out first, Nullfist." She nudges Hel with her tail, "IF it's clear, we'll take to overwatch and follow along."

Hel: "You are a very brave girl, little one. Goddesses bless you and your house." Maybe more than the goddesses after this is all over, but now was not the time for that. "Try to stay safe, we'll fix this mess up right as rain as quick as we can."

DM62: "Are you going to... fight the orcs?"

Hel nods, moving towards the door and taking a moment to peer outside to ensure the coast was clear, before moving out.

Vel: "Soon. Right now we need to find them. But don't tell the orcs, okay?"

DM62: The girl wriggles free of the embrace. "We have stuff to fight the orcs." She gestures the group to follow her with a small smile.

Vel blinks in surprise then follows

Evie: "No. We're going to kill the Orcs," Evie said, softly stroking the girls hair, and held up her tail, the tip curled around her dagger, letting the girl see it, before she wriggled free. Evie stood, dagger back in her hands, as she moved to follow.

Hel pauses at the door, blinking. "Er, ok...?" he remarks in surprise, following behind the rest for now. NOW he was curious.

DM62: First blinks. "Zmellz... odd." The girl produces a crowbar, prying up a piece of carved stone flooring... but having difficulty with the weight.

Hel: Before the others could act, Hel's over there and assisting with his metal hand to lift the door away.

Vel: "...Sulphur? Bombs?," blinks Vel, snuffling a bit, "Nullfist, mind helping her?"

Vel: "Oh you got it."

Evie: "What kind of smell? Besides odd." Evie asked, becoming concerned as she heard Vel's own.

Vel: "Sulphur, I said so."

DM62: Hel helps the girl open the hidden cache... and there's a rather impressive arsenal of home-made, improvised dwarven explosives in the compartment. Most dwarven explosives are designed to clear tunnels... but these have been filled with barbs and bits of broken metal, made to explode with lethal force in a twenty-foot radius after impact. The girl smiles. "I helped Daddy make these. For... for Mommy. So Mommy can be happy." She's smiling, but a tear slides down her face.

Vel looks at them, then nods, smiling in satisfaction at the brutal efficiency she was seeing. "Mmm, yes, I think I'm a fan of dwarven ingenuity..."

Evie: "You were questioning." Evie said with a shrug, before the cache was revealed. Evie let out a small whistle and looked to the girl. If she wasn't careful, she was going to end up like Evie. The succubus didn't like that future, kneeling and whispering quietly into the girl's ear. "Do not be ashamed of your tears."

Vel moved over cZyanyaiously to the bombs, judging if she could carry them at all with any reliability

Hel seems surprised at the sheer arsenal here. Even the lowly craftsman was putting talents to resistance. And here he had been worried... But still, they were needed here if the tone of her voice was anything to go by. "You have done quite well, lass... Both you and your father..."

DM62: The girl bites her lip, then looks at Evie with a surprising show of confidence. "I... I'll cry when the orcs are gone. And Mommy can rest." She looks at Hel. "If you're going to fight the orcs, you can have some of these to help. Just... keep it a secret, okay?"

Evie: "She's already resting sweety," Evie said, standing, afraid for the girl, but saying nothing else.

Hel: "Your secret is safe with us, lass." Carefully, Hel moves his bag off his back, using spare clothing to gently place several of the lethal packages into the bag, keeping them packed. "And trust me, we will do everything to ensure this will not happen again."

Vel nods. "We'll make them regret everyone they took away."

DM62: The girl hesitates, then gives Evie a nod. "When the orcs are dead." She moves to carefully replace the stone flooring slab, using the crowbar as a lever along with gravity to slip it back into place. Then she grabs a handful of sawdust from the crafting bench, spreading it lightly over the slab, before moving to retrieve her wooden toy.

Hel: With his bag back on his back, Hel nods, carefully moving now to ensure he doesn't disturb his deadly cargo as he goes to check the door again.

Vel sits and waits back from the door to avoid being seen, trusting Hel to know the way to proceed.

DM62: There are footsteps and clinking moving past the door, and First's antennae move about. "Orcz."

Hel pauses, tensing and gripping his hammer as he glances towards the others. "Give them the what-for now, or go for subtly?" he whispers to them, hammer back to his hand.

Evie: Hearing the word, Evie drew her mask back up, moving towards the door, dagger at the ready, her other hand seemingly relaxe but ready to strike.

Vel pauses, going still and carefully clambering up the wall to above the doorway.

DM62: First moves back, tensing, looking to the rest of the group for guidance. The girl seems to disappear, though the group can tell she's moved under the crafting bench... and she's got a knife in hand.

Hel: The dwarf prince is quiet, keeping tense but not moving to open the door himself yet. The gemstone on his gauntlet pulses slightly, clearly a few twitches to pounding orcs should they come inside.

DM62: The movements pause for a moment... then continue to the right past the doorway. Then there's a loud knocking sound from a door over. "Brownstone! Brownstone, open up, in the name of the Ironbreakers!" It sounds like an orc's voice. "Open up and come out, or we'll come in there and make you! Not to mention the penalty... for your family..."

Evie: "Best make ourselves known. That'll mark you a hero," Evie said to Hel, brandishing her wicked dagger.

Vel looks to Hel. "We could interfere, but it might mean kicking things open early.," she whispers, "If we play our hand too early, this is over before it begins. Evie does have a point though. Your call, Nullfist."

Hel raises a finger, nodding as he readies the door now. He cracks it open, peering outside. He's not purposefully showing too much yet, though it's clear he's counting targets to see the options.

Vel nods and waits patiently.

DM62: There are four orcs, armed with multi-spiked shield and spear, standing at the other door. Their shields once held the mark of Malgra, but look to have been quickly painted over with crude approximations of the Ironbreaker crest.

Vel: Interesting. She supposed it was in the orcs best interests to support their puppets as a inquisitorial police force.

Hel: "Bah. Even the Ironbreaker's goosestep squad is half-rate," Hel snarks to himself. Right, they can take this easy enough. He signals to the others he's headed out, before smacking the door open fully and standing in the street, open and obtrusive. "Oh there's gunna be some iron-breaking, you pajama wearin', basket face, slipper wieldin', clype-dreep-bachle, gether-uping-bile-maw, bleathering gomreil, jesse oaf-lookin' stoner, nyaff plookie shan, milk drinkin, soy-facedshilpit , mim-moothed, snivelin' worm-eyed hotten-blaugh, vile stoogic, cally-breek-tattie!"

DM62: Samurai Jack pauses somewhere in the Multiverse, looking around with an odd sense of deja vu.

Evie: "Shit. Could struck quietly first," Evie said, pushing out the door, flipping her dagger to grasp its blade end, slithering into the shadows, letting Hel do his thing as she moved around, tossing a dagger at the side of one's neck, before continueing on.

Vel keeps her cloak wrapped tight around her and darts to the opposite side of the doorway and up the side of the house, perching from above to watch and see if there was a good opening for her to get involved. She wasn't really that good against alerted armored things...

DM62: Evie's dagger strikes true, sending one of the orcs down gurgling in her own blood. The other three turn... then there's a shape bursting out from the ground, and a guard is dragged in... and quickly silenced with a gutting noise. The two guards turn to the dwarf with a surprised look, one of them charging ahead with his spear.

Hel gives a grin and rushes to meet the one going for him, gauntlet glowing with arcane energy as he lets himself go for this encounter. With a smack of his shield he goes to divert the spear hit, before swinging with the full augmented fury into the opponent with his mighty hammer.

Vel smirks as First promptly did her thing. Yes, the bug was very impressive, Vel had compeltly missed she had disappeared in the events that happened. Good to see she needed little work. With one of the guards charging Hel, she scurried down the wall before lashing out with her tail at her victim's throat, doing what she really only had as an option promptly.

Evie: "Well then," Evie said, pulling her dagger back to herself, and throwing it at the last Orc's broad back.

DM62: The guards are quickly mopped up, as a dwarf female emerges from the home, looking around. "What... who are you?" She looks at the group suspiciously, drawing a dagger from a wrist sheath.

Hel: The glow leaves Hel's hand as he shakes the hammer clean, returning it to his belt before focusing on the woman. "Friends and ally, my lady. Ones that aren't going to stand for the farce being played here."

Vel: "Yup. First, clean up the bodies please. Let's not leave any evidence."

Evie: "Anywhere to stash them... First, we could use a fresh hole." Evie tried.

Vel: "First can drag them underground."

DM62: The dwarf woman's eyes narrow, looking at chimera and cubite. "I'm gonna need a little more..." At this point there's another female voice, from above the party. "Vel? Hel!? Is that you?" Camouflaged among the rocks is another dwarven female, her face and hands painted along with her clothing to blend into the rock, crossbow in hand.

Vel: "Oh there you are. That saves me a lot of effort finding you.," smirks Vel as she looks up at the assassin

Vel: "Also it's Nullfist until we can get the fake and prove his innocence."

Hel: "Ah! I wondered where you went after our last engagement!" Hel pipes up, looking a bit less glum than he had been before.

DM62: Selas smirks down at the group. "Seems you've made some new friends, since ou-" she turns suddenly, pointing the crossbow at the hole as First emerges. First looks at Selas, blinking... then drags the three other orc bodies into her small tunnel, efficiently burying them beneath the alleyway. "Huh."

Vel: "That's First. Long story for times we're not on the street. Let's clean up the mess and get somewhere secure, Selas.," says Vel

Hel: "I've learned a long time this point that it's best not to question your alliances too strongly," the dwarf prince points out to the assassin. "Aye, we need the full situation of what's been happening, at least what else beyond what we know now."

Evie crouched, using her hand to brush dirt and dust over the puddles of blood, adding more as it soaked in, before spreading the crumbling mud around, making the evidence of violence almost null. She rose, looking towards the home of the woman they'd just saved. "Inside seems like a good idea."

DM62: Selas nods. "Of course... Nullfist. I suppose we should be off to Borgan's Brew, then." She hops down, then moves close to Hel, muttering softly, "Chancellor Hladri. He's not in the best health, since he took two orc spears to the gut, but he's a hearty bastard if I ever met one, and still praying for your return. Some of the others... they didn't believe me when I told them that the prince that surrendered was an imposter. But come along... best get to Borgan's Brew. I'll explain more on the way." First emerges, covering up the tunnel, and Selas looks at her. "Um..." First nods. "I know. Can't pazz for dwarz. I return to..." her eyes open wide for a moment, and her antennae stop, seeming to straighten.

Vel hops down, moving over to First quickly. "First? What's the matter?"

Evie bolts upright, drawing her sword now, fearing what First might be trying to warn them of.

Hel nods as he follows Selas along. He sighs a little. "Yeah, gotten the impression from the place we started off at. Clearly there is agitation that needs to be worked around, so they don't immediately backlash at a target they can reach..."

DM62: First shudders for a moment, then nods to an unseen correspondent. "Thiz iz the Queen. There iz an attack on the Hive. Many zcorpionkin and orcz. They are... powerful, but we have much greater numberz. Malgra iz leading the azzault." The thrull shudders again, then blinks at the group. "I muzt return to the Queen. Zhe iz in danger."
 

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-fourth Session, 15 April (part three, Borgan's Brew, coronation)
Vel: "Crap, should have known...," hisses Vel, "Hnng, Thrae is there, but you're here, where do I go?!"

Evie's blood runs cold. Thinking of Daria. She was tempted to go with First, taking a few steps towards the hole herself.

Vel: "Hng... No I'd be useless there, I can't fight to save myself, I can't save her. Evie, it's your call if you want to go back, but I don't think one person can make a diffrence.," hisses Vel, hating herself but tensing, "IT's your choice to make too, First. If you think you can turn the tide as one person, go and good luck."

DM62: Selas folds her arms. "You're here. You run back, probably be too late to help anyone. You stay, you can help us. Your call." First nods. "I muzt go." She quietly fumbles at the door of the girl's dwelling for a moment... then manages to open it, leaving the party.

Vel nods, grimacing. "Stay safe, First." She grimaces and turns. "Let's get going. IF anything else this is an opportunity. With the orc army gone, we can take the city from behind them. even if we lose everyone... We can give the orcs nowhere to come home too."

Hel: "Aye, no point pulling back now. Best stop this impersonator before they can do even more damage. And it'll mean less orcs to hide."

Evie: Standing at the edge of the hole, Evie looking longingly at the place where First vanished. She clenched her eyes shut, almost reaching out for the door, before she turned away. "Forgive me mistress," she whispered quietly, and moved to follow the others, heavy leather skirts bellowing around her legs as she moved.

Vel: "Well if we overthrow the city before the orc army returns, it'll be a double whammy. They'll be caught in the open between grand Forge, the elves and the undead.," whispers Vel as she clambers up on Hel's shoulder to whisper, ebfore hopping down and scaling up the walls to get out of sight, "Up here, Evie, we can't be seen on the street."

DM62: Selas nods. "Malgra's a tricky bitch, I'll give her that. I don't envy your friends... but we can't help them." She murmurs quietly, pulling a hood over her head as she leads the group. "The orcs took the First District with no resistance... the nobles surrendered as soon as the impostor prince laid down the Magmahammer. The Second District... was basically destroyed by the orcs, securing the works of the First Rate Craftsfolk for Malgra's forces. The Third... the warriors are putting up a hell of a fight. The orcs don't want us to know but we all know they haven't broken through yet. That's where your father's still fighting," she looks at Hel. "And this is the Fourth District. Fallen... but still putting up resistance as best we can, waiting for a sign that the other districts can back our attack. We don't want to overextend without their support. The unmentionables in the Fifth District, well... I don't think the orcs had to do much besides bring them food and weapons. They've always resented their place in the system, but never been willing to pay the price to advance themselves."

Vel listens as she moves along from above. She was getting ideas already

Evie: The succubus moved up the wall, into the shadows of darkness, cloaking herself with Vel, listening to Selas speak. She frowned, but said nothing, for it was not her place.

Hel sighs as he hears the situation, shaking his head. "Glad to hear Magni still lives, if anything getting in contact with him will further solidify the proper ruling cast so we can push off the Ironbreakers. The Magmahammer's going to be a linchpin even if an idiot's holding onto it, though." He shakes his head a little as he thinks as well. "Sounds like our best bet would be to get the support of the Forth, so it and the Third can fortify. From there, we try to take down the orcs and get into the palace to reclaim the Magmahammer and defeat the imposters and Ironbreakers... if that seems wise..."

DM62: Selas sighs. "I suppose. But I almost wonder what the point would be in retaking the Second District. If the orcs could steal something, it was stolen. If they could rape someone, they were raped. If they could kill someone without incurring cost, they killed." She shakes her head. "Death's not good enough for Malgra's race." At this point she turns down a back alley. "We go into Borgan's through the back. Up front are dwarves in a rotation, pretending to get drunk while eavesdropping on the orcs. The bartender gives them watered-down ale." She opens a hidden door, gesturing the party into a dimly lit room, where dwarves are quietly arguing around a large map on a stone table. A darkly-tanned dwarf with a thick, braided, black beard is glaring at the group. "I say we launch an assault on the orcs at Third NOW. We get through to the warriors. We arm them. Fresh weapons and explosives. Our lives mean little... as do theirs. We take BACK our city." There's a clean-shaven (mark of shame) old dwarf, shaking his head sadly as the younger man speaks.

Vel drops down and slips through the back with the others, listening. Yes... There would be much to do indeed...

Evie: "Perhaps you can promise the fifth something. Otherwise they'll fight tooth and nail to go under what seems a worse situation to them." Evie said, dropping down to the ground again, to enter into the back of the tavern, glancing at the other dwarves. It was dark enough back here to hide, even in such plain sight. Might be best.

Hel frowns a little, keeping quiet for now but he glances to the older dwarf himself, focusing on him and keeping his pose neutral. The nullmetal shield of the unknown clan is still on his arm, but otherwise he looks like any other dwarven adventurer

DM62: The elderly, clean-shaven dwarf shakes his head. "If we attack now, we do so with no knowledge of Malgra's forces, no knowledge of her whereabouts. We must give our scouts time, to assess the enemy positions, to probe their strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise we risk certain calamity, especially without a..." Selas has moved up to the old man, quietly whispering in his ear. His eyes go wide, and his complexion turns a bit paler. He turns, looking directly at Hel... as do the rest of the dwarves in the room, silently staring at the newcomer.

Hel: The dwarf gives a bit of a wry smile, staring them all down as well as he can. "I'm glad to hear ye lot got the fighting spirit, but I think I could help with a bit of that information part," he half-quips.

Vel stays silent. This was Hel's rodeo. She'd been with Thrae long enough to know this game. She really wished she could think in other peoples heads so they'd hear her.

DM62: The room is deathly still, and the old man has to lean on Selas slightly as he moves in front of Hel. He looks at the gauntlet, raising an eyebrow... then he takes Hel's other hand in his own gnarled grip, looking deep into the prince's eyes. "Tell me. Tell me your name, Son of Grand Forge." He's quivering slightly as he speaks, and there is definitely something familiar about the clean-shaven old dwarf.

Hel shifts the shield to his back, moving to use his unmarred limb to grip the old man's own. "Helvoque Magmahammer... the true, blue one, I assure you..." he nods to the older dwarf, as he speaks loud enough for the rest to hear. "It is good to see there is still others willing to stand against Malgra like I did."

Evie remained in shadow, regretting her choice of actions. One person could make a difference. She had seen it, read of it... and been that person before. But still she stayed stock still, unmoving. A hint of nightmare on the edge of vision that one never quite wanted to accept. But she was there. Waiting.

DM62: There's a collective intake of breath as Hel speaks his name, and the old man nods. He pats the prince's hand. "Breck. We must go to the central plaza. In five minutes, five minutes precisely... I want you to sound the drums." The black-bearded dwarf who was arguing a moment ago frowns. "The drums, sir?" The old man gives the younger one a single look, and the bearded dwarf nods. "As you command, sir. Five minutes. The drums." There's commotion about the tavern, and a bell rings quietly up front. The old man then turns to Selas. "Bring it." "Yes, sir." Selas nods, moving through another exit. "My prince. We must head to the main plaza. There is something that we must do, before we retake Grand Forge."

Vel raises an eyebrow. She was compeltly lost here. Was this a dwarven tradition?

Hel seems partly confused at what's going on, even as he finally places the face. "Chancellor Hladri? What's going on?" He's stiffened slightly, a part of his previous adventures granting some suspicion. Still, he does feel that coming back was the best idea, even if this does turn out to be an elaborate hoax to weed him out by the Ironbreakers...

Evie: Traditions. Rituals. All to gain morale, and traction, when there was little to be had. A fight was coming, and many would die. Then Evie sees Hel stiffen.

DM62: "There's something that an old man needs to show you, my prince. Something we managed to hold back from these... fucking... orcs." He gives the prince a nod. "I failed your house once, my prince. That's why I hacked off my beard. I will not fail you a second time, unless it be in death." He moves out into the front part of Brogan's Brew, leading the party.

Vel follows along, along for the ride for now

Hel does soften at this, frowning lightly still but he nods, clearly allowing the old man the task he wishes to do. Still, he was sure that these bells would draw a commotion from the orcs, so he'd be ready for a fight anyway.

Evie: There was something here. Failure, shame, betrayal? Evie drew her dagger, keeping it ready as she followed, watching Hel, and this beardless dwarf. Ready to strike

DM62: As they move through the front portion of the tavern, the party sees orc bodies strewn about, dead and bleeding in various poses. Dwarves are silently pulling their bodies to the back of the bar. The old man doesn't even slow his stride, sweeping through to the front door, and guiding the group along the main street. It's a few minutes before they reach the central plaza of the district, where orcs are patrolling in force. The orcs stop to stare as the old man guides the group into the center of the plaza. Selas runs forward with a bundle in her arms, wrapped in sackcloth.

Vel glances about. Riiiight in the open. Oh joyous day. This had beeter be the unveiling of the orcsmusher 5000, guarunteed to pulp orcs and make beautiful furniture from the remains in one big swing. Yours for the low low price of 5 gold.

Hel doesn't pause his stride himself, holding his shield and hammer again as they approach the orc patrol. He readies for battle, but expects Selas is prepping a surprise to trap or eliminate the orcs as is.

Evie: There were less shadows out here. Less places to hide. They hadn't even discussed this. No plans. Just pushed the prince into it. It felt like a trap, and she would make these dwarves all pay for their treachery if it was so. Her eyes narrowed as she went looking for a more suitable ranged weapon.

DM62: The orcs are turning and shouting at Selas and the rest of the group now, producing spears... but there are dark shapes quietly moving along the corners of the square, taking advantage of the commotion. Selas reaches the old man in the center of the square, and he rips away the sackcloth, revealing a bundle wrapped in the colors of the Magmahammers. He kneels before Helvoque, tears streaming down his face openly now, as gongs sound throughout the district. Shadows scuttle forward, and there's the sound of orcs gurgling as dwarven axes and bolts find their marks. Explosives are going off in the distance, as the old man presents the wrapped bundle to Hel upon his knees.

Vel: ...Huh. Well. Nice to know dwarves had it in em after all. She thought she was gonna have to organise all this, argue with dwarven honor and all that, but it seemed they were ready and willing to be as ruthless as any dark elf push came to shove. How exciting!

Hel watches the commotion as the dwarves take back their own, eying the bundle as it's presented and carefully opening it. It's clear now that the orcs were no longer a threat, and thus had time to examine this strange, public ceremony. A part of him had a sneaking suspicion what it may be, but he'd not know until he got done looking.

Evie stayed on the corners, the edges of it all. A succubus might not be welcome. But she did slither around, looking for a bow, a crossbow, following the dark shapes.

DM62: Around the plaza, Ironbreaker standards and banners are being torn down, replaced with the Magmahammer standard. An armored cohort of orcs are charging the center of the square, the back few picked off by crossbow bolts, but more of them charging for combat. Under the Magmahammer colors in the old dwarf's hands is a very familiar hammer... the Magmahammer itself. The old man's voice rings out, hoarse but sure, echoing in the square. "The King is Dead! Long Live the King! Long Live King Helvoque Magmahammer!" The cadre of orcs is nearing the group now, but the old man is gently smiling as he offers the ancestral weapon to the young dwarven king, tears still running down his face. Selas is drawing a pair of axes, advancing on the orc cohort with a battle-cry.

Vel: "...Wait, I thought he was in the third district...," mutters Vel, "I don't understand dwarven rulership." She takes a seat and looks at the orcs.

DM62: Evie is readily able to find a crossbow in the hands of an unlucky dwarf... but there's a belligerent orc standing in her way, swinging a greataxe at her.

Hel himself is tearing up slightly, taking a deep huff of air. "B-best not to question it for now Vel..." Hel hisses, as he gently cradles the ancestral weapon into his hands, the greathammer's head letting off soft embers from it's always- burning head. His focus comes on the incoming orcs, and with a snarl, he takes two steps and with his fully-augmented arm burning bright, swings into the charging orcs.

Evie: Using the strength of her wings, Evie leapt back, tossing her dagger at the brute before drawing her sword. Ready to move into the opening left by the swing, Evie aimed her heel in a vicious kick to the side of the Orc's knee, with a upwards angular slash.

Vel: "Don't worry bout me, your majesty, I'll go patrol rooftops for orcish snipers, you just go break some skulls.," says Vel wryly, "Good thing I groomed you for your coronation." She heads off to get on the rooftops to hunt for assassins

DM62: Evie's vindictive attack caves in the orc's knee, before her upward slash parts his gut and the front half of his head from the rest of his soon-dead body. The orc collapses in a heap of blood, and more of them are charging to the center of the square... only for an explosion to send them to the ground in a mess of gore. From a rooftop, the dwarven girl is nodding at Evie, with a too-large bandolier of explosives strung over her shoulder. The Magmahammer practically sings in Hel's hands, knocking an orc back with enough force to cave in the chest armor of the orc behind him, sending two others sprawling to the side. Four more orcs pause, advancing more slowly and circling Hel, only for one of them to fall with a crossbow bolt in the back of his neck. There are more explosions in the distance.

Hel: With battle fully joined, Hel gets to work, the Magmahammer a perfect combination of his waraxe and hammer as the great glowing weapon swings in his hand. With the orcs looking more careful as they advance, he keeps his pose balanced and ready, letting them move forward only to be parried and buried by the deadly strikes. He couldn't be as careless as he used to be- now, the people needed him.

Evie: Giving the girl a quick salute with her tail, frowning at the lack of shadows to properly hide, Evie went to the dead dwarf, pulling the crossbow from his stiff hands, and the quiver of bolts from his belt. Sliding one into place and pulling back on the string, she saught out her first target, and loosed.

DM62: The Magmahammer rings out triumphantly as it makes a orc's helmet flat, the excess head exploding out the sides and front of the armor piece. Evie silently sinks a crossbow into a charging orc, the bolt flying straight between the orc's snout and the top of his lip, burying itself in his head. Two more orcs are advancing, scimitars drawn. Vel spots a crossbow sniper, nestled against a building. A dwarf, but he's just coated his bolt with some substance... and he's pointing the crossbow at Hel, taking careful and steady aim at the new monarch.

Vel grimaces. Nope. No way. She promtply dropped from the roof onto his head in a ball of righteous indignant fury, biting and clawing, and grunting from the impact knocking the wind out of her. No way was she letting her gnome down.

Hel spins and smashes, certainly not making it any easier for some asshole assassin to attack him anyway, but his focus is on his task and not his surroundings, smacking down orcs foolish to charge forth. Each smack of the Magmahammer into something causes more and more heat to billow from the head, only adding to the devastation wrought upon the greenskins trying to strike him down.

Evie: Watching the Orc fall, Evie calmly loaded another bolt, searching for targets outside the main battle. She saught the shadows, knowing where assassin's liked to hide.

DM62: Vel maims and kills the dwarven assassin, preventing his killing shot by gouging out his throat. He blinks disbelievingly at the chimera. The Magmahammer is glowing brightly now, and as Hel strikes the next orc the foe is practically ignited before the hammer even strikes his armor, making him scream as he falls. The rest of the orcs around Hel are starting to fall back, but more bolts are ringing out, bringing them down in clumps. Evie sees the two orcs charging her with scimitars... but the crossbow's string snaps as she reloads. Then claws come up from underneath, grabbing the orcs and shredding their fronts, their entrails spraying in the vicinity as First emerges from a tunnel. She looks at Evie, then at Hel, in a panic. "We... We have to be ready! THEY'RE COMING TO KILL EVERYTHING!"

((end of session))
 
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Hopeyouguess62

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-fifth Session, 16 April (waking up, the young queen, scorpionkin attack, Malgra's assault)
DM62: At any rate... Braxis spends most of the night rutting away at Thrae uncontrollably. Sir Fiske is exhausted, and cuddle up with Zyanya for rest after standing a watch. There are sounds of digging in the sands around the party--the Queen has decided to temporarily set up a hive system here, for her eggs and for food gathering/distribution. She's up most of the night, coordinating the business of the hive manually to ensure that none of her people starve. The next morning, she's up and about with a few of her guards following her, as well as a smaller version of herself... a very young queen thrull, following the actual Queen about.

Thrae pulls herself awake after the rather intense rutting she had gone through the previous night. It was so much even she felt a bit sore from it. As she opened tired eyes she caught sight of the mini-queen following the queen around. Her early morning tired brain could only come up with one thought that ended up more or less accidentally manifested into words. "Wow, you guys really do reproduce quick."

DM62: The Queen blinks, looking over at Thrae. "Oh. Not that quickly." She glances down at the smaller queen, who is regarding the drider curiously. "Her egg was almost ready to hatch yesterday. We managed to bring along most of the eggs."

Thrae: "Ahh, makes sense then." Thrae manages to disentangle her many legs from Braxis, and as soon as she does she gives the mini (Adorable) queen a friendly wave and greeting. "Heya, I'm Thrae."

DM62: The smaller queen moves forward, her antenna shyly twitching as she examines the drider. {What is... a Thrae?} The young queen scuttles back to her mother, and the Queen smiles. "Dear, they can't hear your thoughts. But she's a drider. They are not like us."

Zyanya was quite happy upon Fiske's return, especially waking up the next morning. But the new additions would e quite noticable and the queen was busy with Thrae. Thrae looked worse for wear given the night she had last night. "Well it seems we have a nice little addition to our group." Zyanya stood herself up and straighted her furs to greet the small queen. "A lovely morning to all. And to our queens"

Thrae laughed a little bit at the little queen's words, and then said "Yes I'm a drider." After her mother clarified. "Though I could hear her what she 'said' just fine."

DM62: The young queen also peers at the shiriti, antennae twitching. Arturus strolls back into the camp, moving to the fire with five dead hares carried in his arms. "Right... breakfast is here." He produces a small elven knife, starting to skin the rabbits before spitting them. "So. We've got a day or so to wait here... and the smuggler left early this morning. You guys also missed Hel and Vel and Evie heading out later on."

DM62: The Queen blinks, looking at Thrae and then the younger queen. "That is... odd. Normally our hiveminds can only speak internally."

Zyanya: "Hopefully they're little rebellion goes well. A great many things hinge on the success of their mission." She'd stretch her arms for a moment, occasionally glancing at the young queen with a smile.

Zyanya: "Thrae has a good bit of magic under her belt so even I don't know the full extent of her abilties."

Thrae: "Maybe it has something to do with the spell? Either cause I casted it on you or because she's adapted? Though I guess only I could hear it so its not likely the latter." Thrae pondered, what inquisitive side she had from being a mage kicking in, after all she had more or less taught herself all her spells.

DM62: "It could be... but it is very odd. Still, there have been thrull queens with the ability to control mammals. It is rare... but it is not unknown to us. But you are not a normal mortal, either... you are... dead." The Queen looks at the drider for a moment... then she shrugs. "I do not know." Fiske stirs, rising slowly. "Good morning." He smiles at Zyanya, then spots the young queen. "Well... cute little bug." He gives the young thrull a smile, but the youth merely stares at him, blinking.

Zyanya: "Morning Fiske." She gives the young night a quick peck on the cheek just before he spots the queen. "Yeah, she seems kinda shy, poor little thing. Guess she's not use to meeting so many at once."

Thrae: "Hmmm..." Thrae thought it over. "Well if the others can't hear her, it'd also rule out mammals. Which means its likely more something to do with undead, the spell itself, or maybe something with driders?" Thrae shifted over a bit to avoid sitting down on Braxis and looked oddly serious for so early in the morning. Then she shrugged. "Ehh, I don't really have anything around here that'd help us find out. Though I mean, I could hear you 'talking' to me too before, right after the spell was cast."

DM62: The Queen shrugs, then pauses for a moment, seeming to stare straight ahead. Then she looks back to the group. "Sorry... some of the workers got confused. Sapience is tricky, so I have to keep manually interfering to re-establish their roles in the hive." She looks at Thrae. "I... I don't want to know what's happening back in the thrull hives to the north. The other queens don't have... any guidance."

Zyanya: "Honestly, we may have to deal with that at some other time. Maybe we'll be fortunate enough to have the hive still intact when we return. Again, I can't claim to know much about the hives or what happens in events like this. Really, we just have to hope that things will work out. We're lucky we got what we did, but no less grateful"

Thrae looks down at the ground and her whole body language is projecting her own worries about that situation. "Neither do I...I'm really sorry about what's happening to the rest of your kind..." She had apologized for it before, but she felt she had to do it again.

DM62: The Queen shakes her head. "Can't be changed now." Fiske stretches... then the smell of cooked rabbit begins drifting through the area as Arturus finishes preparing the meal. Some of the thrull move closer, curiously examining the cooked meal, but then the Queen shakes her head. "That's their food, my children. We have our own."

DM62: Braxis also rises, snorting. "Is... is that cooked hare?" He eyes the food hungrily.


DM62: Thrae: "Thank the spiderqueen I'm starved." Thrae said as she muscled her way in line for food before Braxis could like eat everything, giving the minotaur a teasing grin. "Though that's a question, what do you guys eat?"

Zyanya: "Never saw someone wake up like that just cause they smelled something." Zyanya chuckled as she saw Braxis wake and she took her share of the food when it was finished. "Never hurts for them to be curious, Queen. Least they'll know what it looks like so they don't eat it by mistake."

DM62: The Queen smiles. "It varies... some fruits and some animals. And we can produce a jelly that we use to feed our young." The younger queen looks up at the Queen, who looks back down. "You already ate, dear. Food later." Braxis snorts. "Evidently you've never seen a hungry minotaur after a hard night of pleasing his lover." He grins, grabbing a chunk of the cooked meat, barely letting it cool before he begins devouring it.

Thrae: "And he did a really good job on the pleasing part." Thrae said with a bit of her mind phasing out. Then she shook her head and grabbed some meat for herself, using a tiny bit of magic to cool it down to edible faster. Her eyes followed the small queen. She was too adorable not to watch.

Zyanya: "So that's what all that noise was last night. Next time, consider doing that a little farther away so you don't keep the whole camp up." She gives Fiske a wink and a smile after she finished, but would turn back to the topic at hand. "Well, she's gonna need to learn a little about the world every now and a gain. She's got a great deal of the world to experience."

DM62: The meal is quite tasty, and the morning passes rather quickly. Arturus and Fiske bring back some more hares and some tart desert fruits for the party, and the Queen lets them try some royal jelly, which tastes rather bland by comparison but is filling and nutritious. It's nearly evening, the sun getting ready to set over the horizon, when the Queen takes a report from one of her scouts. "There's... a group of scorpionfolk that seem to have attacked one of our fringe groups. They've taken control of a rather large valley... too steep to attack from the sides, either, even with our climbing skills."

Thrae: "So they are holding out in the base of the valley?" Thrae asked. Earlier she was honestly a bit suprised the jelly was as bland as it was, figuring it would have been very sweet tasting but it was still very filling so there was that.

Zyanya: "So we need to find a way to retake the valley. WHat else do we know about them? Their numbers? Anything that we can take advantage of"

DM62: "There are... a few dozen. I'm sending in a team of about three-thousand guards already... it should be over soon." The Queen concentrates for a moment, her antennae twitching as she relays marching orders. "They're in a good position, uphill... but we have much greater numbers."

Thrae: "Well if you think you can handle it then, if you need help I can throw some pretty mean fireballs, unless they have a mage of their own they wouldn't be able to fight back."

DM62: "There is also... there are orcs. Orcs forming out behind the scorpionkin." The Queen squints for a moment. "Thrae I need to see... your memories of Malgra. I think she's among the orcs." Thrae can feel the Queen gently prodding at her mind.

Zyanya: "Sometimes greater numbers dosen't always guarantee victory. It's all abou fighting smart and if Malgra is with them, they'll be using ever advantage they can find to make up for lack of numbers."

Thrae didn't resist, pushing her memories of Malgra to the for so that the queen could get to them easier. "What she said, sometimes pure numbers can be a hinderance more then a help."

DM62: "Yes... yes, Malgra is there. The scorpions have fallen back behind the orcs and are covering flanking movements... and the orcs they... they're using spiked shields and spears to form a wall. They... they're crushing my guard!" The Queen is furious and a little panicked. "I... I'm sending thrull around. There's a pass that leads behind them in the valley."

Zyanya: "Pull your guard back! They're usinga defensive strategy and it's clearly working! We can't risk any more of your guards. Just have them fall back a little and wait for the rear attack."

DM62: The Queen nods. "Right... right, I need to... pull..." She looks at Zyanya. "They can't retreat. The ground behind them... it's been set ablaze somehow. She's... she's killing my guards!"
Arturus rises, pulling his mace and sword. "Well. Malgra's causing plenty of havoc. Maybe we should cause some trouble of our own?"

Zyanya: "Damnit. She played us. Get all your forces out of there, Queen. It's not worth the further loss of life, given the amount of harm your people have already suffered." She focused on Arturus. "What did you have in mind? Since Malgra seems keen on using fire without any discrimination."

DM62: "I'm not sure... but I don't think the thrull can handle Malgra's attacks." The Queen shakes her head. "They're pressing the attack, using a secondary valley. They're coming this way... at least a thousand orcs on scorpionkin mounts."

Thrae: "That...is alot of troops, how did we miss them all?" Thrae said with her face whitening a bit. "What could we even do? The terrain is a nightmare to attack into."

DM62: Braxis cracks his knuckles. "Hate sitting around here during a fight. And we can't help from here."

Zyanya: "Either way, we can't continue the attack in it's present form. The orcs are in too strong of a position and we're not in a good position to strike. We need to think. Make use of the terrain like they have. They're obviously using their tactics to make our numbers meaningless. We need to find a way to nutralize their defensive advantage."

DM62: Arturus folds his arms. "They're advancing. Maybe we set up a defensive position of our own?"

Zyanya: "Fight fire with fire as they say. We need to find a suitable location, either in a hill or a tight pass and make them come to us just like we did."

Thrae: "Well the forces we have stuck between the cliffs cannot really go onto the defensive, but we could potentially take up position at the end of the valley to keep the orcs from leaving either."

DM62: "There is a place that... we could catch them from three sides as they advance. A break in the valleys. I could have... the rest of the guards meet them there." The Queen is already coordinating with her forces. "If we kill this Malgra, we end the war?"

Zyanya: "Malgra is a smart one...she might find a way to escape. But if we're lucky and trap her here, we may not have to kill her. Capture would be equally preferred, since the leaders would decide her fate from there. However, if she does die, it''s hard to say if the crusade would stop or she'd have her lieutenants take over the fight."

DM62: Sir Fiske is fastening his armor. "Zyanya, I think we might want to go help. Malgra likely has more nasty tricks up her sleeve. Probably mages."

Thrae: "If we kill or capture her it is likely her army would dissolve into fighting itself. I don't think killing her will be that easy though, she will probably have something in mind to escape somehow."

Zyanya: "Didn't need to tell me, Fiske. Our support will do a lot of good. At tle very least we can pick off some of her senior officers if any of them are with them. Would certainly weaken the command of the army a great deal."

DM62: Braxis nods. "Let's do what we came to do and cave in some orc skulls." Arturus looks to the Queen. "Can you have some of your guards bring us to the battlefield?" The Queen nods. "I will stay here, with my guards and my eggs. The place for our defense is about a mile from here, to the southeast. A rocky junction of four valleys... and we'll be filling three of them with our own forces."

Thrae grabs her staff. "Hopefully they will not have to many mages, I had enough trouble with just the one last time..."

DM62: Braxis grunts. "I think Vel would remind you that you're just one mage, too." He carries his massive axe. A host of large Thrull guards pick up the heroes, carrying your team swiftly over the sands and then into a rocky part of the desert. One of them sniffs the air, speaking. "Much of this rock is... too dense to easily tunnel. If we move about, we do it above ground." It's not too long before the group reaches the thrull frontlines. Sure enough, there are thousands of thrull here in waiting, gathered at the ends of their three valleys, while a dense orc phalanx is deliberately advancing from the eastern valley, with scorpionkin riders moving on their flanks. Toward the front, the party can see a cohort with banners among the scorpionfolk cavalry... Malgra's personal guard, dressed in plain leather armor, wielding spears.

DM62: Thrae also notices that a small rider seems to have hitched along, clinging to the back of one of the massive thrull guard--the young thrull queen, watching the formations move inquisitively, her antennae twitching.

Thrae looked over the connection of the four valleys. She was somewhat worried that the orcs seemed to be advancing so confidently, either they thought they had defeated the entire force in the area or they were very confident about their chances. Her attention was taken away from that though when she noticed someone tagging along with them. The young queen following along on another thrull. Atleast the guard she was with seemed to be rather imposing, but still! She's direct her thrull over to the young queen and asks the girl "What are you doing here? This is going to be very dangerous in just a short while."

Zyanya: "We need to get their flanks to advance .We weaken those then we'll be able to better attack the approaching phalanx. If we can draw them out and force them to leave the field, the sides of the phalanx will be exposed and we can easily encircle tem."

DM62: The young queen looks at the drider, her antennae twitching. {I am safest here with you. Besides, I must learn how to battle, if I am to be the one Queen some day.} Arturus nods at Zyanya's words. "Good point. Thrae, can you relay those recommendations to the Queen, either mentally or through her guards?" At this point the orc phalanx halts, still inside their own valley, and then Zyanya spots someone familiar. Malgra, near the front rank of her guard, standing up and waving a red banner, signaling to... someone above, it seems. A drum sounds in an odd pattern, as the phalanx digs in, setting their shield wall.

Zyanya: "She's near the front of her guard. That woman is quite confident in her forces and quite confident in her ability to survive when outnumbered. So we need to harass the flanks. Draw them out and anger them in some way. Either anger the orc riders or the mounts themselves. Piss one off and they'll drop the ball." She spoke, seeing the red banner and hearing the drum. "That's...that's an odd pattern if ever I've heard one. Not even my tribe has a beat like that."

DM62: At this point there are deep booms coming from behind the orc lines... and there are dark objects soaring up in large arcs, spiraling over the canyon walls. The heavy dwarven mortar shells blast down into the midst of the thrull ranks in each valley, exploding into fragments of heated shrapnel that wipe out entire swathes of the advancing thrull. Malgra turns, surveying the field. Her eyes meet the party, and she gives a small nod from across the field of death.
 

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-fifth Session, 16 April (regicide, leaving the hive)
Zyanya: "Son of a bitch. They brought dwarven mortars to the fight. That'll speed things up a great deal since we can't just sit back and try to lure out the enemy. They've got a strong position and a means to eliminate ours."

DM62: The massive guard who spoke earlier nods. "We're going to have to charge their line of spears... which will be extremely costly. But we might be able to overwhelm them in an all-out assault, if we're fierce enough in the engagement. Anything you can do to break their ranks?" Arturus nods, his mace and sword taking on a slight glow of force magic. "Yes. We can help break their lines. Down the center?"

Thrae: "I can help with that as well." Thrae said with a nod, for now resigning herself to sticking near the young queen to make sure she could shoot down or deflect anything coming her way. Also so that she could relay information to her and then onto the rest of the thrull. Her staff glowed with fire as she readied a large fireball. "Whenever you all are ready." Once the thrull had engaged she was going to switch targets to those mortars but for now they needed to make sure the thrull could actually fight.

Zyanya: Spears in hand, she sighed. This plan was a disaster waiting to happen and the enemy knew they'd have to be desperate to try this. "I don't like it...but I can't see many other alternatives. They're simply trying to weaken our numbers so we can't bring as many to the field when the larger battle takes place."

DM62: The larger thrull guard nods, taking the young queen and placing her on Thrae's abdomen. "Your Highness must stay close to Thrae, where it is safest. Queen's orders." He looks around the party. "We will help get you to the front lines." Then the thrull host advances rapidly, forming a vanguard to get the party through. Arturus charges behind them, and Fiske and Braxis are quick to follow, weapons at the ready. Daria soars in at the enemy line, unleashing a sonic attack that blasts many of them off their feet, in time for the thrull to smash into their ranks.

Thrae: With the line broken, and now guarding the queen Thrae focused her attentions toward the dwarven mortars, the potential dangers of those lobbing into the rear lines of thrull were still to much to just pass them off. She hoped maybe her fireballs would catch their unfired rounds too, that would make things much easier.

DM62: The dwarven mortars are, unfortunately, out of Thrae's sight, beyond the group's field of vision.

Zyanya herself would push through with the others, aiming to toss her spear or outright attack any officer she could find. If she could get Malgra's guard all the better. Chew up the leadership as fast as possible. The cannons however were a problem they couldn't hit right away.

DM62: The orcs react quickly, but not quickly enough, as angry thrull press the attack. Zyanya's spear glows as it pierces a warrior through the neck, breaking his shield. Arturus swings his mace with a force blast, sending an orc careening back into the spears of his allies. Braxis cleaves another with his axe, and Fiske is fighting against a mounted orc on Sandrazor mount, using an axe-and-shield fighting defense that is working rather well, it seems. Still, mortars continue to rain down on the thrull army, and more scorpionkin riders are moving in an attempt to flank the party.

Thrae sighs, and fires her spells into the scorpionkin riders. Her fireballs are as large as she can manage, but are only sporadic. Each time she fires one off she makes sure herself and the ride along queen move some distance as she tries to throw off any return fire. In an attempt to keep herself and the thrull on her abdomen calm during one of the relocations she asks the young girl. "So, I didn't actually ask earlier, but do you have a name?"

DM62: The queen looks at Thrae curiously. "A name? What is a name?" One of Thrae's fireballs knocks a large hole in the flanking movement, preventing most of the scorpionkin riders from attacking at that angle.

Zyanya would continue her assault, retriving her weapon each time she made a successful throw, wanting to take out as many high value targets as she could. If not, she'd settle for simply thining out the foot soldiers or even taking out one of the riders if she could.

Thrae: "Something to call you, like how I'm Thrae. It's a bit easier then just saying 'You' or 'the young queen.'" Thrae said, a grin on her face at the damage she did to the scorpions. Her next fireball would either go to finishing off what she started on that end, or aiming into the large mass of the orc main force.

DM62: Something heavy and hard slams into Zyanya's gut, knocking her to the ground. Fiske leaps in the way, finding himself face-to-face with Warlord Malgra herself, who gives him a nod. "I've not seen you before. But you're in esteemed company." Fiske shakes his head. "Less talking, more fighting, orc." Malgra grins at this, twirling her spear. The young queen shakes her yead. "No... I do not have a name. Should I have a... oh. Wait." The queen's grasp on Thrae grows tighter, panicked. "They're... they're attacking the hive. They're attacking the Queen!" An orc horn brays from that direction, sounding out and echoing through the valley.

Zyanya: The blow certainly came as a surprise for the normally nimble warrior, bt she wasn't expecting Malgra to step forward and confront Fiske. She tried to pull herself up just as the fight starts. "Y...you aren't taking her on yourself." She coughs, still getting the air back in her lungs. "Lucky blow, green skin. But my people aren't so easily overcome." She'd try to get light on her feet again, trying to circle the warlord

Thrae: "For fucks sakes, how do they keep getting past the scouts! For that matter how did they even /find/ the hive." Thrae growls. "How bad is it? Can you tell?" They had many many thrull here, so they could potentially take a few guards and go back and help but it might not even matter given the distance.

DM62: "Goblins... they're using ranged weapons... lots of darts and arrows." Her eyes are wide. "The queen was hit by a dart, but the assassins are all dead." Malgra, meanwhile, is moving back somewhat. "Right. Give the order to fall back," she barks to one of her warriors, who waves a signal banner. The drum begins pounding a different beat, as the orcs begin a defensive retreat. Malgra is moving back with them, shifting back into their ranks with her spear in hand. "Another time, Zyanya. You and your young friend, if you like."

Thrae pulls her fire to her again, tossing another fireball into the phlanax's front, hoping to blow a hole that would let the thrull roll the formation apart as before.

DM62: The young queen clings to Thrae. "Something's not right. The Queen... the Queen is dying." She looks around with large eyes at the armies around them. "She says we need to get away from the thrull, as fast as possible. There are other broodqueens who will take control... some of them will help us, but others will be trying to seize control." Thrae's blast of fire knocks another large hole in the orc ranks, sending more thrull warriors pouring in, but the orcs stoicly reform their ranks, moving back and leaving the dead behind.

Thrae: "Of course they would." Thrae says with a sigh. "And now in a single blow she's destroyed the thrull." Thrae looks like she is on the verge of having an apocalyptic meltdown, and at this point she's just throwing out her fireballs into the orc ranks as she moved to the rear of the thrull with the young queen, trying to see if she can hit the retreating Malgra at this point as well as the orc front line as she went. "DAMMIT!"

Zyanya: She growled at Malgra as she spoke, almost like she was mocking her and Fiske. "I'll be ready, Malgra. I just hope you'll be more prepared as well. You won't be able to run every time." She'd let her leave, knowing it would be a wasted effort to throw her spear or to try and attack her in any capacity. However, the situation wasn't going to get better if the news of the queens death was true. Would mean they'd have a problem unless someone took control fast

DM62: There's a hush for a moment that falls over the battlefield, as the orcs fall back. The thrull are standing still for a moment, listening to an unheard voice... or voices. Thrae's fireballs continue to land, knocking out orcs as they do so, but then the queen grabs her again. "We MUST flee!" Daria sweeps in, landing near Thrae. "What's going on? Why have the thrull stopped their advance?" At this point the massive guard who helped the party attack turns to the group. "The Queen has been assassinated. We have to flee... not all the thrull will be on your side, I think. Other broodqueens that were brought along have begun to exert their own influence, countermanding the Queen's orders."

Thrae had been slowly making her way back, but when the young queen grabbed her she stopped her fireballs and with an explosive sigh, nodded. She was starting to move when Daria landed beside her. "Because the thrull are all about to start killing each other. Can you tell the others? I can't get to them without being stuck in the thrull just as much as they are." If Daria took off then Thrae would start moving, trying to get the young queen to safety before the thrull could go rogue.

DM62: Daria nods, flying back to the party with the news (which they just heard from the huge thrull guard).

Zyanya: "Thanks for the save again, Fiske. Guess I owe you another one." She supported herself on his shoulder, still quite worn out from the hit. "Damn that bitch hits heard."

DM62: Sir Fiske grunts, "Well, at least you didn't get the same treatment as Hel. Come on, we need to get running." The small thrull cohort picks up the group, led by the massive guard. "The new queen has limited control... a few hundred workers who are trying to bring along some of the eggs, and about fifty guards so far. She'll get stronger, but she's still very young... and the other queens are aggressively resisting her control. Still... most of the thrull are heading toward Grand Forge. But I don't think all of them are going to distinguish between orc and non-orc, when they get there."

Zyanya: "No. But I can't imagine she would do the same damage to me. I can imagine she'd do something a lot different." Either way, now wasn't the time to think about what could be and focus on what was going on. Trouble seemed to be brewing and the young queen was having trouble from the sounds of it. "Well, we need to figure out what our next move is. Getting our army under control might be a start."

DM62: Arturus nods, as the group is carried along, rejoining Thrae and the young queen. "Well we've got a few options, the way I see it. If we charge along with the forces moving toward Grand Forge, we're unlikely to even be noticed by the thrull intent on their goal. The queen can keep expanding her influence, but we run the risk of encountering rival thrull controlled by the other queens. Or we head southwest, toward Kalifer, hoping to run into friendly forces before we move to Grand Forge."
The orcs are facing scattered thrull attacks as they fall back, but nothing coordinated yet, and the valley is almost optimal for the phalanx's defense as they use spear and shield to cover their escape. Most of them climb atop scorpionkin mounts to flee, while a small group stays as a rearguard to hold back any who might follow them.

Thrae is still looking like she's about to commit bloody murder. Though the energy quickly drains out of her and she just looks drained. "I...I have no idea what to do."

DM62: Braxis snorts. "I have another idea. We head further west. Meet up with our undead forces. Then we move into Grand Forge in force, and we crush any orcs or rival thrull that get in our way. I say we stop fucking around."

Zyanya: "Either way, running into a potential rouge queen would be bad and with our size, it's hard to say how many they'll have compared to us." She heard Braxis speak and she nodded with approval. "That actually sounds like a good idea. Meet up with the force we know is loyal, and move together towards our main focus. Use our sheer size to crush any rival thrull in the process or bring them back in line if possible. My vots for Braxis' plan

DM62: Arturus frowns. "It does make sense. Though we'll want to bring Kalifer and Forest's Heart into this battle, as well. I could head southeast myself, try to get word to them."

Zyanya: "THat could work. Some of us head back towards he forest's heart and bring them. Smaller numbers heading towards the Forest's Heart would be less noticable and they'd be able to slip away from larger groups. Will you need aid Arturus? I can come with you."

DM62: Arturus shakes his head. "No... I'm just an NPC who needs to run off to make sure that the finale of the campaign arc comes off without a hitch. I think if the party split again, the DM... er... Fate would have a bitch-fit."

Thrae: "Braxis plan seems fine. We'll meet up with you then." Thrae said, her voice drained at this point, both from the casting and from the death of the queen and the loss of the thrull. She looked like she was going to say more, but ended up stopping.

DM62: The young queen's eyes open wider, and she stares at Thrae. "Who... is that speaking to you?"

Thrae: "Someone who wants to help." Thrae said, as she started to follow something that it looked like only she could see.

DM62: The drider's path takes the party to an old tunnel, full of thick cobwebs.
 

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Interlude (goddess and child)
There is a somewhat muted thumping sound nearby. No… pounding. Something is pounding on a dirt surface. Striking it with a cudgel… or a bare fist.

Then there is an explosion from the earth, and the child awakes. Looking to the east, the child sees a hole in the earth… with dozens of the thrull swarming out. Moving rapidly, more thrull follow, attacking the heels of the first group. It is a vicious, prolonged affair, and the child looks away.

It is then that the child notices the robed and hooded figure, sitting to the left of the child’s sleeping place. Quietly watching the battle as well. “Do not be afraid, child. I wish you no harm… and even the thrull in their awakened state know to stay away from this sacred ground.” Silver eyes bore into the child’s own green ones. Pale skin with silver hair, dressed in faded white robes… but if asked, the child will never remember specifics with regard to the hooded figure’s actual appearance.

“I am a friend to your father, child.” The green eyes continue studying the hooded figure. “A good man. I sometimes saw him, cleaning this temple. Tell me… do you know to whom this temple was built and consecrated?” A nod. “And you know the legends… the idea that she is disgraced, cast out.” A pause… then another nod.

“And yet your father came to this temple, dedicated to a goddess that most mortals have learned to shun… cleaned it regularly, and gave offerings to the goddess. Why?” The green eyes continue to stare. “No, child. You WILL answer me.”

The child’s lips curl in a frown, but resisting the command is impossible. The green eyes stare in some confusion, but no small level of defiance. “He taught me that the goddesses are beyond mortal comprehension, unknowable. Even if they are disgraced by some standard, a mortal dare not disrespect the divine.” The child pauses, then continues. “He said that only a fool obeyed or rebelled blindly.” There is a smile under the hood.

“Wise beyond his years, your father… and it would seem that he passed it along to his progeny.” The silver eyes study the child. “There is… something of a great destiny within you. Your father could have been a great man, but he was cut short. Your heirs… one day they will help shift the balance of worlds.

The green eyes flare, then narrow. “My father IS a great man.”

“No. No, that could only be half-correct, at best. We both know that your father is dead. Laid low by the unworthy champions of a worthless and ungrateful world. Of all the creatures that crawled upon this pitiful planet, of all the proud,” the hooded figure’s voice grows more resonant, deeper, seeming to spring forth from the earth, and the child has a fevered impressions of a writhing mass of limbs and tentacles, binding the hooded figure and the temple. “OF ALL THE VAIN LITTLE WORMS CRAWLING UPON THE EARTH, ONLY HE REFUSED EITHER TO KNEEL OR TO SCOFF. A MAN OF LEARNING, BUT WITH HIS FEET UPON THE EARTH, NEVER ABOVE THE GODS. AND THOUGH HE WAS TRULY DEDICATED TO MY SISTER, HE DID SHOW ME WORSHIP. HE ALONE. AND I SHALL WREAK A GREAT AND TERRIBLE VENGEANCE UPON THOSE WHO HAD A HAND IN HIS DEMISE. YOU SHALL BE MY INSTRUMENT. YOU SHALL BE MY ENVOY. YOU SHALL BE MY MESSAGE.”

The child stares as the Goddess Zestaz unfolds before her, as wings spread with unworldly majesty, not feathered but shapes of utter blackness, reaching out into the temple, the earth, the sky, and even planes that mortals dared not gaze upon. Silver eyes bore themselves into the child’s memory, into the child’s mind and soul.

Ultimately, the presence of a Goddess is too much for any mortal to bear, and the child loses consciousness, falling back toward the brick stairs… but a tendril softly catches the child, drawing the small shape close, cradling the youth in the arms of the night. The voice speaks again, murmuring into the child’s very soul.

“Sleep, now. My true form will be a shape only hinted at by the nightscapes of your most fevered dreams… but now I am going to whisper into your ear, my child. I shall tell you all that you need to know… because my gifts are never truly forgotten. But for now… sleep…”

And the child sleeps.
 

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-sixth Session, 3 May (part one, impending threat, the wounded, gifts)
DM62: (Last time…) Vel maims and kills the dwarven assassin, preventing his killing shot by gouging out his throat. He blinks disbelievingly at the chimera. The Magmahammer is glowing brightly now, and as Hel strikes the next orc the foe is practically ignited before the hammer even strikes his armor, making him scream as he falls. The rest of the orcs around Hel are starting to fall back, but more bolts are ringing out, bringing them down in clumps. Evie sees the two orcs charging her with scimitars... but the crossbow's string snaps as she reloads. Then claws come up from underneath, grabbing the orcs and shredding their fronts, their entrails spraying in the vicinity as First emerges from a tunnel. She looks at Evie, then at Hel, in a panic. "We... We have to be ready! THEY'RE COMING TO KILL EVERYTHING!"

Vel blinks, seeing the sudden return of First, before running over. "What is? Who is? What's going on?"

Hel doesn't slow too far down as First appears again, doing his best to blow his way through the orcs to the current meeting of chimera and insect

DM62: The massive thrull guard is clearly panicked, her mandibles clacking as if facing an unseen threat. Then she seems to collect herself a little better, even as the fighting is dying down around the party. "Malgra. Warlord Malgra led an assault on the thrull flank, in a valley made of hard rock that we could not tunnel through. We... we turned to face her. Your companions came along to fight her. The orcs had a strong defensive position and even dwarven artillery... but we had such greater numbers. Our Queen sought to end the war, committing all of our warriors to a fierce counter-attack. But then goblin assassins managed to get into the encampment, where the Queen was still on the surface." She shakes her head, stunned. "The Queen is dead. Killed with a dart... poisoned. The thrull are... many of them are under control of various lesser queens. Some seek to carry out the Queen's last wishes. Some seek to kill all nearby threats. Other queens resent the control you had over her, and wish you all harm. But... about half of the thrull are under no control at all. Many of them are heading here in a berserk rage... I fear they will slaughter any non-thrull they encounter."

Vel: "...Great. Greeeeeeat. Death by being eaten alive by insects. I love it when my worst fears come true all the time.," groans Vel, "Hel, I think you better get everyone ready for tunnel terrors. Get everyone out of this district and into one that's harder to tunnel into. Make them half to climb to us at least."

Hel: "Ugh, every time we get a step up..." he mumbles. "Alright, I'll see what our options are, on the bright side we've more or less gotten this district settled to some degree..." Hel immediately looks for the advisor that'd helped them thus far, to update on the situation.

DM62: The elderly, clean-shaven dwarf is nearby, leaning heavily on a two-handed axe. He turns to the thrull. "And... how long do we have before this... rampaging group of angry and burrowing insects arrive, if they travel in a straight line?" First blinks. "About... three hours." The dwarf nods. "Well then. We'll want to join up with the Warriors in the Third District, I suppose. I suppose if our districts hold, we'll at least be saving SOME of our people. And we do have some time... there's something you should do, first, my King." He looks at Hel. "We've got a hidden area where we've been tending to our battle-wounded. Many of them are craftsmen, who took up hammer and axe to defend your kingdom from invasion... even when they believed that you had abandoned them. They should see their King once more, I think. It would mean a lot."

Vel: "Fine, you guys do that, I'm gonna go figure out the best way to do this. Hm. They're rampaging, First? Will they follow the path of least resistance?"

Hel frowns but nods. "It would be best to rally and get them to safety if we can. Any damage done now can always be fixed after, of course."

DM62: First clacks her mandibles in thought. "Many of them are following a somewhat direct route... it'll probably take four hours. But they seem to be led. I suspect that there is a queen or two leading the pack this way, herding those in a panic." The elderly dwarf nods. "Follow me, my King. You two, come along as well. Feel free to speak strategy, but King Magmahammer may need your input soon, especially you." He looks pointedly at First, who gives a nod, then puts Vel upon her back, following.

Hel: "...Gonna have to get used to not looking elsewhere at those words..." Hel mumbles to himself, even as they move on, hefting the artifact weapon onto his shoulders again.

Vel: "If they are being herded, sounds like path of least resistance would work. If we opened a tunnel open, they'll just follow it... And then we put those bombs in the tunnel and kaboom! Should thin em out."

Vel meows as she's picked up and stuck on the ants back as she looks around

Hel: "Aye, diversionary tunnels or barricades with some mines would help there."

Hel: "It all depends on what all they're going to expect. If it's just a few queens angry about the whole sentience things, they may not be expecting the more... potent signs of civilization."

DM62: "Well... there IS a last resort we could use, my King." The elder frowns as he leads the group, nearing what looks to be a rough-hewn wall of the massive cavern that houses the dwarven district.

Hel: "Just exploring options, Elder. I've come to find more and more since I set out sometimes you have to get a little... crazy, to make things work..." Hel admits, looking slightly sheepish

Vel: "It's only crazy cus you're unused to it."

DM62: "We... we did not use our last resort against the orcs, because we could not prevent it from killing many dwarves in the First and Second Districts. But Grand Forge is actually built atop an inactive volcano. It helps heat the rock and give us lava as a forging resource. There IS a way to... awaken the volcano, so to speak. To seal the districts from the lava, and destroy anything not sheltered within. It would also likely kill off most of the thrull invaders."

Vel: "And everything else. Plus they might dig enough tunnels to break the "seal" so to speak. I don't think it's a good idea to piss off mother nature like that."

Hel: "Aye, there's a good chance if the lava spreads slow enough they could tunnel into the lower districts just to escape it, and then we'd have a mess AND straggler thrull.

DM62: "District Five, you mean? It would be... it has no seals. Nothing down there would survive. But we're here." He manipulates part of the rough stone-face, and a cleverly-hidden secret tunnel opens for the party. Inside, an angry-looking dwarf with wild red hair is standing in the party's path, holding a massive hammer... then he sees the elderly dwarf. He bows, moving back... and Hel notes that one of his legs ends in an iron peg.

Vel: "Messing with forces we don't entirely understand got us in this mess to begin with."

Hel doesn't comment much, his own fixes and changes rather visible as he holds himself behind the Elder. The Magmahammer's softly beginning to simmer down, now it was no longer 'forging' a path through foes. "True that, and this is our hubris for it. We need to lower the collateral damage at any rate."

Vel: "I still think leading them along the path of least resistance to thin out the majority would be effective to thin em out. How many warmags do the dwarves have?"

DM62: The red-haired dwarf sees the Magmahammer clenched in Hel's hand, still cooling, and his eyes open wide. He kneels reverently, bowing his head. "My King!" At this point the party can see into the large hidden chamber. Row after row of makeshift dwarven cots and slabs are laid out, filled with the badly wounded and maimed. Some of them look as though they will never walk again. Many are missing limbs, eyes, or both. There's a dwarven woman with a cruel burns all over her body, being wrapped in fresh bandages by a dwarven orderly. Several of the heads of the injured turn, quietly looking to see the source of the commotion.

Vel: "...Damn...," grimaces Vel, seeing all the damage.

Hel frowns as well at the damage. "What's the situation? How can we assist?" To the conversation of strategy he quiets for now- they can work on evacuation after settling a score, it seems."

DM62: "What's this now?" A low, dangerous voice speaks from the back of the chamber. A dwarf moves forward. Well... probably a dwarf by some standard. Hel is fairly tall among dwarves, but this dwarf stands a full head over Hel, and she's built like a statue of the Smith Goddess, with shoulders that put Hel's to shame. She's got an eyepatch over one eye, and she seems to be missing her right arm from the elbow down... but a heavy iron ball hangs from a chain that's been welded to the stump. She squints as she moves up. "My King." She gives a bow. "I am General Grimbolt... by virtue of the death of my superiors in battle." As she speaks, many of the injured are rising, then kneeling before their new monarch. "Many here are surprised that you are here... but I am not. We had a visit here, about a week ago... and a few of us were told you would be arriving soon. Are you familiar with Ashur, the Sage?"

Vel: "Could foresee our arrival, did not forsee being flattened by bugs...," mumbles Vel

DM62: The elder shrugs. "There are many seers. But it is said that those who see all, see nothing. For they are blinded. That is why you should trust all prophets, and none."

Vel: "...That's the most convuluted way to say use your own judgement that I've ever heard."

DM62: "It's more concise in the original Draconic tongue."

Hel: "We've... ran into each other..." Hel remarks, tapping his gauntlet that now held the Magmahammer. "I heard the fifth district was in disarray, but I didn't expect this to be the situation I found..."

Vel: "It's pretty concise in chimera too. Listen to seers but use your own judgement. Tadah."

DM62: The sage opens his mouth to reply to the chimera, only to be silenced by a glare from the grim warrior. "My King, we are still in the fourth District. We do not know what is currently happening in the fifth... though it is also the home of many crime syndicates, so they might be giving Malgra the worst time of all. Hell, we could barely keep that district under DWARVEN control. But you'll want to come along with me, my King, to see the Smith. And you'll want to bring your chimera friend, as well." He leads them to a back room, closed off by an iron door.

Vel: "So she's here? This should be good..."

DM62: "Ashur? No. Just the Smith. Try to keep up."

Hel is silent, but nods a little, keeping observant and tending to the thoughts of what is about to happen.

Vel: "I'm riding an bug and we're in for an influx of far more angry bugs who want to eat everything, I've got a lot on my mind."

DM62: The massive dwarven female opens the iron door, immediately giving a bow. "Master Smith Lord Stormchaser, may I present His Majesty, King Helvoque Magmahammer, as foretold by the Great Sage Ashur." In the room is a dwarven female, looking up from an anvil, where she's hammering together what looks to be a prosthetic limb. She turns, then gives a low bow. "Your Majesty. A great and grave day. I have something I was bid to construct for you by Ashur the Sage... and something for Vel of House Audaxia, as well. A parcel."

Vel: "...Huh?," blinks Vel in confusion, "Well I'm technically property of house Audaxia so close enough I guess... Who the hell would send me anything? Nobody sends me anything. Ever."

Hel: "First time for everything. Clearly our friend Ashur's been a busybody..." the dwarf remarks, before focusing on the smith. "Hail to you, Master Smith. What is it you seek of me?"

DM62: Sure enough, the wax-wrapped parcel is sealed with the seal of the Matron of House Audaxia herself. The smith places her hammer down, dipping the prosthetic limb into a bucket of water and setting it aside. Then she moves to a chest, unlocking it, and pulling out something wrapped in cloth, which she presents to the King. "Ashur had me construct this for you... using special parts that she brought. She said that it should replace your current hand, rather nicely." In the cloth is a hand made of a dark metal with silver veins running through it... and a set of red gems built into the hand, glowing slightly.

Vel blinks then opens it in confusion. "Why would the matron send a slave anything? Maybe it's to assassinate me. Maybe they figured out my influence... Maybe they just are mad about Thrae..."

Hel raises an eyebrow at the new device, looking quite curious as he sets the hammer down and looks over the limb. "Considering the insanity they put into this one, I'm not sure I even want to know what that foxkin's cooked up with those special parts. I thank you greatly Forgekin, I am sure it will see much use before the night is out." Silently the dwarf begins to detatch his current hand, adding it carefully to one of the side pouches of his bag before working the new hand attatched

DM62: "Dear Vel," reads the flowing under elf script (which the elder reads to Vel), "You have very persuasive allies. As you have accorded yourself with the tenacity and intelligence of a true under elf, you are to be rewarded accordingly. Should the day come that Thraexyra of House Auxadia dies or releases you from your service, you are to be accorded the full rights of a citizen of the Spiderbloom, free in all perpetuity. Enclosed is a claw... a gift passed along by Ashur from a recently-deceased lycanthrope. If you should but prick yourself with the claw, you will be infected by the disease... which, Ashur predicts, will have an entirely different effect upon you, allowing you to transform at will (given practice) into a True Chimera, like your ancestors. A word of caution--I would use it for the first time shortly before joining battle. You may find it... difficult to control, at first. Regards, Matron, House Audaxia." Enclosed is also a bear claw. The smith nods at Hel. "Aye... never seen the like before. It charges from heat... which means that the Magmahammer will, in theory, not get quite so hot, so fast... and you will be able to hit harder and harder as the Magmahammer grows hotter. She did caution, though, that at a certain level of force your arm will not be able to withstand the stress."

Vel: "Lycan what? Huh... Um... Wow... That's....," blinks Vel in shock, "I guess... I guess I'm free then. Officially I mean. I'm... I really aren't sure how to feel about this. And a true chimera... I'm curious... Still, best wait til the bugs get near..." She blinks, holding the claw carefully. "I've only heard stories about the true chimera, a beast so powerful that they could never beat it, only change it, and was the lone scourge of many of the houses... I wonder what they were like."

Hel: "If it's anything like the last gauntlet, I'll have to learn my limits and use my head a bit more. First time I used it nearly tore myself apart. This will be an excellent assistance, Master Smith."

DM62: The elder nods. "We have... we have books, lass. The true Chimerae were... well, if the books are any indication, you would be a force for these thrull to fear." The Smith nods to the King. "I was honored to serve you... and Ashur seems to be quite the craftsman herself, in her own fields of work. I merely assembled the joints and hand in the best configuration to withstand the force of your own attacks. Just... yes. Show some restraint at first. Your hand can be a battering ram... but you could very well blow your arm off, if you get carried away."

Vel: "I wonder what I'll look like. I'm... Well, tiny and weak. Just the idea of being a little bigger, not having to struggle to carry most things...," shivers Vel excitedly

Hel: "I will show the upmost of caution, m'lady," He replies with a soft bow.

DM62: The Smith nods. "It's... it's a shame about the First and Second Districts, my King. Held by those orc warriors... I fear for what will happen to the dwarves in those districts once the thrull breach their defenses. The Fifth District, as well."

Hel: "If we're lucky, the First and Second should be somewhat safe, they were built near the heart of the mountain, so the stone will be at it's thickest there. Not to mention the nullmetal veins running through there, I doubt even Thrull can effect those. I'm more worried about the outer districts and areas that are still thin-stoned, and the likelihood of any attempt to trap could be circumvented by digging off to a side."

Vel: "You should warn the orcs. And the fifth district."
 
Last edited:

Hopeyouguess62

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-sixth Session, 3 May (part two, the king's decision, battle plans)
DM62: The large dwarven warrior glowers. "Warn the orcs?"

Hel: "Indeed, that does seem an odd idea. There's a good chance they'd try to evacuate captives, or capture and kill messengers if the assault of the Fourth District happens..."

Vel: "The thrull will kill everyone without any distinction. I mean some will focus on the orcs but the majority want to conquer the whole city and the rest are just berserk and will attack wildly. And if the orcs can kill a bunch of the thrull before overrun, it's that less thrull on us, and on the dwarves who are there. And sounds like the fifth district isn't allied to anyone. So at least warn them."

Vel: "You can kill each other after the fact, but right now you've got a mutual enemy who doesn't really know anything but murder at the moment. So you gotta decide where your priorities lie. Them dying suddenly means more possible deaths for us later."

DM62: The elder looks thoughtful, opening his mouth for a moment, only to be cut off by the angry warrior. "Look about that large room out there. Maimed and bloodied dwarves. Many more of them in the cold stone. Put there by orc hands. Any dwarf still in those districts has surrendered like a coward, and any orc deserves to be ripped to shreds. Let them face annihilation from the bugs. I'd rather see them die than survive myself."

Vel: "Do you speak for everyone? what about all those who were dragged from their homes? It's easy to stand by your ideals but don't drag everyone down with you.," says Vel with a huff, "Dying for ideals is great for martyrs, but let's be realistic. If you all really believed you'd rather be dead than be under orc hands you'd be dead right now. You're not that stupidly diehard. This isn't my call to make, but nobody said you can't kill them yourselves after the fact. If you rather risk everything over a grudge than put it aside for a few days to avoid everyone being eaten alive, well, let's see how universal that sentiment is. Me, I'm fine killing the orcs after. And they're still going to get hammered by the thrull, even if warned."

Vel: "Sometimes you need to compromise ideals for the sakes of reality."

DM62: The warrior's eyes blaze, and she moves closer, her good hand clenched in a fist. "A grudge? A GRUDGE?" At this point there's a blur, as the elderly dwarf moves with a speed that belies his age, punching the large warrior in the jaw hard enough to send her staggering back. "That's ENOUGH, General! You stand before a King and a King's Guest! You WILL mind yourself!" The warrior flushes an ugly shade of red, but grimaces and turns her head to face away for the moment. The elderly dwarf sighs. "It is the King's decision... and not an easy one. The General is correct that these invaders deserve death, that is true. Leaders plan ahead to achieve victory, but a wise leader plans ahead for peace after the war, as well." He turns to Hel. "What is the King's decision?"

Hel's brow is equally troubled as the warrior and the chimera both bicker, grimacing a little bit. With the new hand fully in place, he keeps frowning as he thinks over his options. At last, he sighs, shaking his head a little. "I too hold a bit of a grudge against these greenskins by now, and the leader's misguided attempt to halt a questionable prophesy. For now, however, we must also remember that there is captives there as well as the orcs. Just as we were arriving, we saw that the Orcs were forcing people out of their homes, even here, and I can't in good conscious allow them to suffer to get back at the greenskins." He turns to the bald councilor. "Prepare a drafted message to the Orc Garrison. State that at the present moment we are gathering strength below and another threat will be coming from above. Unless they wish to face a threat unknown to man thus far, their best bet is to abandon captives and flee before we come up there after them when the creatures arrive. Ensure the fifth district is warned of the impending danger, if needbe we may need to balance defense and ensuring the cutpurses don't go out of control once we've evacuated and gathered our numbers. If the Orcs don't heed the warning, we may still be able to rescue some of the captives in the ensuing chaos."

DM62: The clean-shaven elder nods. "It can be done, my King... but if I may... we do have a few hours left. These orcs might respond better to a more... personal message, from the new King. After all, we don't want them to simply ignore our message as a desperate ruse. 'Abandon the city or a dire threat arrives,' well... I don't know many who would believe that, especially given the possible motivations behind it."

Vel: "And if they don't, you can deliver a hammer upper cut to the first asshole who gets in the way. Still wanna know where this imposter is though."

DM62: The elder shrugs. "Probably dead, once they had no further use for him. We can check when there are less pressing matters at hand." The massive warrior sighs, then sets her jaw. "My King. I will rally our forces for the defense of the Fourth District." Then she walks out into the common area. "Up, warriors, up! Rise if you can stand! Take up hammer and axe once more! We fight to defend ourselves from a new threat! And if you cannot stand to join us... then limp or crawl with daggers in teeth for the defense of your Home, your Hearth, your Stone, and your King!" There's a cheer from the wounded warriors, who enthusiastically start arming themselves as best they can. The elder has a small smile, shaking his head. "Gotta love the General."

Hel nods. "Indeed, Ironbreakers will be dealt with eventually. But we do have pressing matters at hand, as always." He sighs a bit. "If you do indeed think it'll help force them out, indeed make sure it's from the true Royal House. I'm more worried that the Ironbreakers on their side may think of it a desperate cry anyway, due to it being hard for someone to get into a siege of an underground fortress," the king quips.

Vel: "Hopefully she's as smart as she is inspiring at the end of the day or this could be a problem later. Still, we've got a way to go, and I've got something I look forward to unleashing. Maybe I'll be the tall one hehe..."

DM62: Selas chuckles, having quietly slipped into the room. "The General? Honestly not the world's greatest strategist, but what she lacks in strategic foresight she more than makes up for in cunning and instinct. She leads a unit of maimed, wounded, and handicapped warriors into every engagement. It shames the rest of her troops into fighting twice as hard... and those wounded soldiers are all veterans, who still dole out more punishment than they receive. As for the Ironbreakers, well... not sure how much I'd really worry about them. I heard a little something from the smuggler, last I saw him, and it makes more sense with every minute I spend in Grand Forge." The dwarven assassin chuckles.

Vel: "...What'd he say?," asks Vel curiously

DM62: "Well... he said that this wasn't at all a sure thing, because it was cobbled together from several pieces of intelligence, some of it second-hand and some of it questionable. But there's enough of that evidence to believe that Malgra only put Lucatt Ironbreaker in charge of Grand Forge to ensure that he was utterly reviled by the vast majority of the dwarves. The elder said it himself. A wise leader plans the war, the victory, AND the peace. He told me that if Malgra keeps Grand Forge, she's likely to give it back to be governed by Hel. Let the beloved prince take command of his people once more, but owing Malgra fealty. And she'd give the Ironbreakers to Hel, as a token of her good will, practically gift-wrapped for public execution. "

Hel: "Only thing that my return really did was remove Malgra's bargaining chip and gave the people a way to rally against the Orcs faster I suppose. Not that I got a problem screwing up Malgra's plans now..."

Vel: "Makes sense. She'd make a decent Under Elf I must admit. Don't count everything out just yet Hel."

Hel: "Aye, she's proven good at planning backup steps in plans."

DM62: "Yes. Though there was also, well... bad news, as well. You see... technically, Malgra's already won her war, to an extent." The dwarf folds her arms. "Word never quite got back to Grand Forge about it, but Malgra's forces raided and then conquered Ritzerite, and set fire to a large portion of Forest's Heart in a lightning attack. She hasn't been wasting time while we were fighting in Braxil."

Vel: "Really? Figures.," groans Vel, "But we haven't lost as long as we can keep undermining her."

DM62: "True. And the remainder of the surface elf and human forces have been rallying in secret, in the lands of the under elves. Your alliance with them has saved many, many lives. Not enough forces to counter-attack on their own, but if they came in conjunction with our new allies... Malgra would be in trouble. Of course, the thrull will change the entire game."

Hel: "Indeed. She can set fire to those trees all they want, we've not been idle either. We got support coming in from Braxil that doesn't all depend on the Thrull. The loss of the primary queen is just an unexpected side effect, and in many ways our fault for tampering with such things..."

Hel: "...No offense, First."

DM62: First blinks. "No ozzenze taken."

Vel: "First is the cutest, so she get's diplomatic immunity so there.," smirks Vel

DM62: "Cutezt?"

Vel: "Yes. Like me.," grins Vel.

DM62: The elder clears his throat. "My King... we should hurry to the Third District. They are besieged, but their home is built of sturdy rock, and they will not be breached easily. But perhaps we can speak to both the orcs and the dwarves, and warn the orcs in that manner."

Vel: "Sounds good. Hm. Wonder why only the queens went humanoid and First is just a really smart ant looking lady...?"

Hel nods. "Indeed, let us head to the Third District and prepare for the coming siege."

DM62: Every response that Vel gives along the way leads to a dozen more language questions from First as they move along the hallways and tunnels to the Third District. Sure enough, they soon arrive at the entrance to a vast tunnel, where orcs are rapidly forming to defend the back of their ranks against the new dwarven threat (that's you), horns blaring in the deep. A phalanx is quickly assembled, shield and spear ready to repel the party.

Vel answers best she can, since she finds it amusing. "Hm. Well there they are. Go sass em."

Hel holds back, up to planting the Magmahammer before himself as he frowns. Well, points for punctuality, but this'll be... interesting. He moves a little way out from the dwarven's own safety so he was in open view but still keeping himself at a more than safe distance so a eager orc with a bow or crossbow didn't fuck it up. "Nothing against your defensive skills, but we both got a bit of a problem, and I wish to warn your standing general of such and if we could come to an agreement!"

DM62: First blinks, moving forward next to Hel. "And then I muzt zazz you." An orc officer moves forward alongside the phalanx. "What's this, then. Come to parley with the commanding officer?" The brutish fellow squints at the group. "And just who, might I say, is calling upon the regimental commander?"

Hel: "Helvoque Magmahammer, true Forge King of Grand Forge!" Hel barks back, his hand still resting on the greathammer's pommel.

Vel: "Quite right First."

DM62: "Oh! You 'ear that, lads? King of old Grand Forge! And here I thought it was that Ironbreaker fellow!" There's some derisive laughter from the phalanx, then a booming voice from near the back. "Quiet in the ranks." A heavily-armored orc moves forward, a grand helm with face-guard covering his features. "You were told to inform me if anyone came to talk. Not to insult them." The orc who was taunting you straightens up, grimacing, as the armored figure moves forward. "Besides, you're speaking to the King of Grand Forge, you fucking idiot."

Vel: "See, this is why you're going to get sassed by First. Now say that orc there's face is funny.," says Vel to First, pointing at the insulting orc.

Hel: Admittedly it took a bit to keep the dwarf from grinning at the commander's remark, had to keep a serious diplomatic look at this. "Probably wise not to provoke the beasts when they already have pride injured," Hel wispers over before speaking.

DM62: First looks at Vel, then back at the offending orc. "That orc there'z zaze is zunny." The orc stares at First, but remains at attention, not daring to break ranks after already being chastised. The armored orc shakes his head. "How soon you people forget. And here I thought you'd at least remember my singing." He pulls off the grand helm, and Fel Blackiron is smirking at the group. "I bet it's been too long since you heard a good Orc marching tune."

Hel: "I'm going to put it plainly: Your crusade leader made a calculated move, and now both of our sides are about to pay the price. There's a massive swarm of Thrull that will be charging for Grand Forge in about... two and a half hours by this point. These insects have numbers you cannot hope to match and will gladly drown in bodies in order to evicerate anything in the path. I'm warning you in a sense of respect for the captives you have, and a simple request you leave your post for your own safety. I am sure that we're more than capable of dealing with the swarm that may burrow into the lower districts, but you'll be, for lack of a better term, stuck between a immovable object and a unrelenting force."

Vel: "And I will be sad if your song is silenced by angry insects."

DM62: Fel gives Vel a conspiratorial wink. "Not even a hello, Your Majesty. Ah, well... dwarven diplomacy." He folds his arms. "So... let me see if I understand you correctly. This army of thrull..." he looks at First for a moment, then back to Hel, "is on their way to kill everything. You want us to... abandon Grand Forge and flee, leaving the remaining defenseless civilians in the two conquered districts of Grand Forge almost completely open to attack from the thrull, their defenses already breached. In doing so, we would forfeit our own cover as well, fleeing before an enemy that can likely move faster than we can. If we follow through with your wishes... there are two possibilities. One, you're lying to us, and Malgra lops off some heads for being gullible. Two, you're being honest, and fleeing before the thrull results in many more deaths. I would propose..." he folds his arms, "an alternate solution."

Vel: "Yeah that seems a bit much. Oooo, ooo, tell me round two! Also well that's why we brong First. Besides being adorable, she's sorta evidence they're in the area."

DM62: He nods. "I know you are a man of honor, Hel. I saw you lose a hand and much of your leg for it... and you did it for the right reasons, no matter how that match ended. I will order my troops back to the Second District, and send word to the First. We will close off the entries to the districts and fortify against thrull incursion. And we will defend your people. To the last orc, to the last warrior, to the last breath. Even the captor is honor-bound, in our society. Between Orc and Dwarf, there will be an armistice, while the thrull threat is faced jointly. Beyond that... well, it will be up to more important people than I, what happens after that. I'm honestly overstepping the limits of my own authority, here, as I'm just a regimental commander. Malgra may well have my head regardless... and if this is a ruse, that's a definite. But I do not believe you would tell such a lie."

Vel: "Well if she wants it she'll have to fight the thrull for it, and for the rest of our heads, heh.," chuckles Vel.

Hel nods as he thinks it over. "Indeed, as a man of honor against another man of honor, this seems like the best situation. I promise you, the threat is coming, and I also promise you that from Third District down we'll do our best to keep the people alive, on both sides."

DM62: Fel nods. "When the last thrull is fallen, we'll wait three days before recommencing hostilities. If you wish to engage in further diplomacy, inform us before then. If you attack before the three days are up, well... then we'll wonder what has happened to dwarven honor. In those three days, we can also exchange the dead, for proper funeral rites. Does that sound acceptable to you, Your Majesty?"

Hel nods, face even. "Indeed it does, General. Three days past the assault a cease fire should be enough time to mourn and recover, if further diplomatic changes do not happen." He'd have to make sure that the others were informed, so the marching undead did not break this promise, he reminded himself.

Vel: "And we can spend it getting drunk to forget what we saw."

DM62: "Then it is agreed." Fel moves forward, speaking in a low voice. "I enjoy marching, and singing. Discipline in the ranks. Camaraderie. And I'm an honor-bound orc warrior. But between the few of us... I really hate this war. Can't abandon the cause. Won't betray my leader or my people. But this is hell." He sighs, then turns back to his troops. "We're heading back to Second District. FORM UP AND MOVE OUT! ALL OF YOU!" There are some odd looks, but the orc discipline prevents them from questioning their orders, and they dutifully start falling into marching order. "Right, lads. We sing, 'Why Goats Fuck Better Than Dwarf Wenches,' and we sing ALL THE VERSES, the WHOLE WAY!!" He places his hands on his hips, watching his troops march and sing (and sing terribly).

Vel giggles as she listens. "He needs an opera stage. Well, shall we go get ready, your majesty?"

Hel sighs. "No matter what, if anything's truthful, this war needs to end. It's clear that Malgra's steam is starting to lose itself... As is a lot of people's steam..." He shakes his head. "For now, we have an enemy we need to defend against. Back to the Third, so we can oversee evacuation of lower levels and shoring up the gaps we may have that they can burrow through."

Vel: "We should talk to the fifth district."

Hel: "Indeed, but want to make sure people are working to evacuate the Fourth on the way there, now we know there'll be no dagger in our backs."

((end of session))

Post-Session Synopsis:
Upon arrival in the Third District, Hel gets to see his father's burial site. Apparently his final order was that the Kings of Grand Forge in his line are buried from now on in the Third District, "until there are no further threats to the Dwarven people." The Fifth District is actually run by an alliance of dwarven cartels and under elf infiltration forces. They have the orcs quite cornered at the moment, and the orcs are grateful to be allowed to flee back to the First District. The under elves, upon hearing of the Thrull threat, propose setting acidic traps throughout the Fifth District, pulling the dwarves down with them into the safety of the Under Lands.
 

Hopeyouguess62

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-seventh Session, 4 May (part one, return to the Spiderbloom, a hard decision, meeting the orcs)
DM62: The group, including Zyanya, Fiske, Thrae, Braxis, Daria, and about twenty thrull under control of the small queen riding Thrae's back, travels through a tunnel that grows more and more full of webbing. Finally, webbing is all that the party sees around them, forming a rough path. The footing is treacherous, and there is more than one moment when it seems as though the webbing could snap underfoot. Sometimes it is firm, other times not so much. Thrae seems to sense the path ahead, leading in the direction of the undead army, to the west.

Thrae, assisted by her ability to support herself on multiple strands as it was, didn't have much worry about the webbing underneath. The thread she followed would bring her to where she was supposed to go, at the very least she felt sure on that given who gave her the guiding light. Still she'd occasionally pass back warnings to those behind her about the less firm areas, hoping to avoid a repeat of the first time the group had gone into the bloom.

Zyanya was more then a little unsure of where things could go from here. The thrull were mostly lost and the numbers tey could control was small. A major part of their army was under threat of causing serious harm. She walked silently, lost in thought.

DM62: Daria does not seem overly concerned, and the thrull are dexterous enough to maneuver through the Spiderbloom carefully and surely. Fiske is positively sweating as he carefully steps forward, the weight of his armor making his movements more precarious. Still, the clumsy Braxis curses as he moves, the bulky minotaur facing not only weight issues, but height problems as he constantly has to duck to travel through the tunnel.

Zyanya was not having much trouble either, the warrior already quite nimble on her feet, so this trip wasn't as much of a threat. Though she was worried about Fiske, constantly looking to make sure he was ok or to help him if he needed it.

DM62: At this point the party notices that Thrae has stopped, and is looking to the left and right ahead of the party. Braxis is busy trying to keep his footing, but Daria frowns. "Are we lost? Please tell me we're not lost."

Thrae: "No, I know which way to go if we want to get right to the undead, but I can see a contingent of orc cavalry heading toward the place we just left, with all the thrull going berserk there." Thrae said evenly. "I'm trying to figure out if there is anything worth doing about it."

Zyanya: "Is it that important we know about the cavalry? Are they going to be a threat? I mean they're heading towards the berserk thrull. Don't we want to link back up with the undead army?"

DM62: Fiske frowns. "I don't like the idea of letting anyone get ripped apart by the thrull. I mean... they're enemies at war, but this isn't an honorable way to win." Braxis snorts. "Malgra didn't exactly fight us with honor."

Thrae: "That is why I am hesitating. If we let the orcs get exterminated then at the very least we have less orcs to deal with later, but at the same time I wonder if a few hundred orcs that have an honour debt to us might not be useful. Assuming they don't just slaughter us the moment we step out of the bloom that is."

DM62: Daria looks thoughtful. "The orcs I've dealt with were fierce warriors, but never the type to attack without reason. They'd likely want some manner of proof... but we DO have twenty thrull with us."

Thrae: "The question is if it'd even benefit us in the long run other then assuaging our conscience. If we help them only to have to kill them later then it would only harm us given Malgra has already proven she doesn't need that many troops to defeat many times her numbers. Let alone when she already has superior numbers."

Zyanya: "And we're gonna go back for them? Fight the thrull we just lost contol of? I mean...will we even be able to deal with the numbers? How many berserk thrull are we dealing with exactly? Hundreds? Thousands?"

Thrae: "I figure we wouldn't be fighting the other thrull, we'd just turn the orcs into a different direction if we wanted to help them.

DM62: Daria folds her arms. "How many cavalry would you say there are?"

Thrae: “A few hundred.”

DM62: "That's... not very many troops. I doubt it would change Malgra's plans much either way." Daria shrugs. "But there IS the off-chance that they're led by some mad dog like Warchief Bal'trigh. Could be a great step towards peace, or it could put us in a tight scrape."

Zyanya: "Worth a shot I suppose...I mean, what's the worst that will happen? The undead army just has to wait for a us a little longer and that's it. Could almost think of this as a little detour."

DM62: Braxis grunts, wrestling to stay atop a strand. "Worst thing? They rape some of us and kill some of us." Fiske grins. "So it's a normal day for us, then."

Zyanya: "Not like that would be any different like Fiske said. We're in a dangerous line of work."

Thrae: "More or less, though I can't wait for the day that won't be the case anymore"

DM62: "Well they really can't kill you, right? I mean... no offense, but aren't you technically dead already?" Daria raises an eyebrow, and Braxis grunts. "Nevermind, cubite. Thrae, lead on." The small queen on Thrae's abdomen nods, fascinated by all this talk of diplomacy and warfare.

Thrae: "Please stay on my back." Thrae said to the young queen. "We don't need to risk the orcs trying to use you as a bargaining chip okay?" With that the spider girl turned to the orc thread and started to lead the way again. Hoping they weren't making a massive mistake...

DM62: The thrull queen giggles. "I think I might be able to exert a little influence on non-thrull minds, too. We'll see." The path is not too much longer, though Braxis and Fiske are still having a hard time moving through the Spiderbloom... and then the webbing seems to simply give way under the party, dropping them a few feet onto a grassy field, about fifty feet from the bull-riding orc cavalry. A horn sounds, and the formation starts turning, moving to surround the party with a ring of spears. The thrull guards take up their own defensive positions. The only remaining sign of the Spiderbloom is a hole above the party with strands hanging down... but it quickly seems to mend itself and vanish from sight.

Zyanya: "That's the least of our worries. We need to keep queenie here safe and hopefully she'll learn a thing or two about how to be a better leader. Never hurts." Zyanya was focused now, given they had an objective and it was to deal with those thrull indirectly. Of course, the situation forced itself forward as they advanced through the bloom and landing near the cavalry. "Well...that worked"

Thrae: "Well, that put us a bit closer then I thought it was going to." Thrae said, happy atleast that her massive body kept her from stumbling easily. Looking at the spears around them she said. "No need for those, we're here for peace, not fighting."

DM62: "Raise your spears, lads. We outnumber them ten-to-one." A rather massive-looking orc removes his great helm, looking down at the party from a large black bull in barding. "Though you've got me rather curious, how it is you came plopping out of the sky next to my crew. So maybe you should talk, and I should listen."

Thrae decided to not mention just how they came falling out the sky, instead just focusing on why they had shown up here. "We happened to see where you're group was heading, and we came to warn you that you're all heading to your likely deaths. The lands that way are overrun in feral, berserk, thrull that are slaughtering anything they see."

DM62: The orc frowns, thinking for a moment. "Chu'Gris! Old man, you hearing this talk?"

Chu'Gris: A grizzled old orc with white, aged hair moves forward atop his own bull. "Aye...I hear it...But what makes them so sure it's true? I've never heard of thrull rampaging like that before." the grizzled ork says as he folds his arms over his chest.

Thrae: "Well other then us having some of the few non-rampaging thrull with us right now," Thrae decided to try to give them some of what was happening, but not all of it. To little and the orcs wouldn't likely believe them, and to much would cause them to probably try to kill them anyways. "The others are fighting to fill a power gap among their own kind at the moment."

DM62: The small thrull queen perched on Thrae's abdomen nods. "Malgra killed our... our overall queen. Most of the thrull are... leaderless now. Berserking. And many are heading this way." The orc commander frowns.

Chu'Gris: The grizzled old Orc looks at the small queen, trying to tell if she's lying or telling the truth. "I believe her, Commander. In their position they have no reason to lie about such a thing, but why would they choose to help us? Many see us as a nuisance."

DM62: "Aye... and we ARE at war with all the pink-skins right now." The commander folds his arms. "So. Why ARE you helping us?"

Thrae: "Cause while we are at war we figured letting you all march unknowingly to inglamorous deaths wasn't a terribly honourable way to fight it." Thrae said half sighing to herself, it still sounded stupid in her own head but they had done it already.

Chu'Gris: "Considering our honor?" the Orc sergeant asks, his brow lofted. "That is...Something I have not witnessed from the pinkskins as a whole. What say you, Commander? If they truly do care for our honor, then they are far more worthy of respect than most pinkskins."

DM62: The large orc snorts. "Never seen a drider with a sense of honor. But they've got a Knight of Braxil with them... and a Shiriti Amazon Warrior. And those folks generally care about honor. So I suppose we'll divert south, and report back to Grand Forge. You're welcome to accompany us, unless you've other business in this area to tend to."

Zyanya: "I thank you for listening to reason, honored commander. Though we may be enemies, I cannot deny the respect and honor your men show as well. Even listening to us took a great deal of restraint and cool headedness. Though given who your overall leader is, it does not surprise me that her commanders are equally tactful and capable."

DM62: The commander exchanges glances with the sergeant--they had often discussed Malgra, sometimes admiring her leadership abilities, but also sometimes questioning this war based mostly on an old prophecy, no matter how often that prophet had proven correct. It's a short glance, though, without context for the party. "Warlord Malgra is... a formidable leader. I know of no leaders from the other races with her set of skills. Still... you've shown us that other races are still full of surprises. We are in your debt."

Thrae's eyebrow raised at the glance between the two orcs, while she had no context she felt there might be something behind that, if she had more time to worm their way into them then maybe she could make use of it but just outright asking them to mutiny right now would likely go very very badly. Instead she said. "Unfortunately I think we may have to decline the offer. If we went with your group to the city we would likely not make it far past the gates before someone would take issue I suspect. Though what do you all think?" Thrae twisted to her companions and raised a questioning eyebrow, curious as to their thoughts.

Chu'Gris: "Indeed we are, Commander." the older Orc says with a nod of his head, having shared the quick exchange of glances with his commander, before looking back at the drider. "I believe if one of us was amongst your group the others would take no offense lest they wish to spark a conflict."

Zyanya: "A hostage then? Well, I guess calling it that would imply some negativity. But Thrae makes a good point, given how volatile things are right now."
 

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-seventh Session, 4 May (part two, the sage Ashur reappears, an explanation, the true enemy)
DM62: "I think the orcs should head to Grand Forge, for the final battle with the rampaging thrull. And the rest of you should go fetch the forces of Underfell... and bringing Chu'Gris along is an excellent idea." The female voice rings out from behind the commander, making the orcs start, and startling the bulls to an extent. They shift, fumbling for their spears, as a hooded figure watches the party, leaning upon an ashwood staff. "Greater powers are at work, and soon we may even see the true players, moving the pieces about the game board. Don't bother with the weapons." She waves a hand, almost dismissively, and the one spear pointed at the figure turns to dust.

Chu'Gris reaches for the large bearded axe on his back, turning atop his bull at the voice from the hooded figure. "What the devil?" he exclaims, looking around at the other Orcs, and watching the spear disintegrate, his jaw dropping open.

Zyanya: "Greater forces? Feel like this has been the theme of our entire mission. Never was the thng we saw on the surface the real target, but just a front for something greater. Nothing straight forward. Apparently some forces in the universe have nothing better to do then fuck around with the rest of us and make things difficult. Who are you and why are you telling us this."

Thrae's eyebrows shot up to her hairline at the appearance of the figure. "Well you certainly know how to make a grand entrance, though anychance you could tell us who you are?"

DM62: The figure pulls back her hood, revealing beautiful, feminine features framed by black hair with a streak of white. She looks rather familiar. "I am Ashur. Ashur the Sage. We met at my master's tower, in the not-so-distant past, when he helped to give Helvoque Magmahammer his hand back. I suppose it's King Helvoque Magmahammer, as of a few minutes ago." The woman gives the group a wry smile. The small queen perks up, staring at the woman, a troubled expression on her face.

Chu'Gris: "A Sage? For what purpose would a sage of such power show herself to commoners such as us?" the Orc asks, his hand gently releasing the handle of his axe.

Zyanya: "Could ahve gone about revealing yourself in a better way, Ashur. Made me think you were someone far more menacing. And Hel finaly took his throne? Good for him. Though I can't imagine it's a stable one given the state of the city."

Thrae: "Ahh." Thrae nodded in recollection, and then noticed the thrull queens' reaction, moving one of her hands back to try to give the small queen a hopefully calming pat on the head and back...Causing Thrae to realize she had absolutely no idea how to be a proper mother, darn spider lack of instincts. "Guess things are going well for him then."

DM62: "I'm not sure if 'well' is the term I would use. He's received his family's ancestral weapon... and he and Vel will soon be receiving gifts to help them in their efforts. But Grand Forge is still divided, and he's going to have his hands full preparing the defenses. But that's not important, and we are wasting time. In five minutes, thrull will be swarming the place we are standing. If you were better attuned, you could feel the rumblings in the earth." The small queen's antennae wriggle, and then she nods. "She's right. We must leave!" The sage nods. "We will head with all haste to rejoin the forces of Underfell, and I will explain more along the way. You've been fumbling in the dark for too long already... though you seem to have done quite well, really. Commander Bathror, lead your forces to Grand Forge as swiftly as you can. Battle will soon be joined there. Help them defend the Second District at all costs. GO." The commander frowns, seeming ready to argue, then thinks better of it. "Right. Good luck, Sarge. RIGHT YOU LOT, WE RIDE SOUTH!" It's not long before the cavalry are on their way.

Zyanya: "That's as good of an excuse as any I suppose to get our asses moving. Not in the mood to be dinner for the thrull. Not when I still have things to do on this earth." Shouldering her spears, the shiriti ready to make her move at a moents notice. Seems like they'd be following the sage and their orc friend would be coming along for the ride

Chu'Gris: The Older orc shakes his head gently once the rest of the men take off on their bulls. "Leave the old man behind as soon as you can, why don't you." he says, grumbling as he looks over at the Shirti warrior. "Would you rather the back of a bull over the abdomen of a Drider, miss?"

Zyanya: "I guess the bull will do sir. Thanks for the offer."

Chu'Gris: "You're quite welcome." the Orc says, reaching a hand down to help her atop the bull behind him. "An honorable orc does not allow another, especially a woman, to wear themselves down if he can avoid it." he says as he looks over at Thrae and the little thrull on her abdomen. "Let us move, before we become Thrull meal."

DM62: Ashur walks briskly with the group, frowning. "Well... I suppose first I should explain about the scroll... and the spell that I gave you to use upon the thrull. I did omit certain details... like how unstable the spell was, or how likely it was that the queen would die, releasing the thrull upon all of your races as a dire threat. I do apologize... but there was truly no other way that I could find." The thrull queen hisses back, "You made so many of them into berserkers! It will be generations before we are restored! Decades! How dare you force that upon us?"

Zyanya: "Pardon me for saying this but the situation has made things far more difficult. THe thrull at this point are a threat to everyone. Orcs, humans, elves, underelves, drider, shirti and so on. I feel like we'll have to deal with them after this whole war ends just so they don't consume the entire world."

Chu'Gris: "I am with the little one on this. While I do not deny that my own race are just as bloodthirsty, we are also mindful. Becoming a mindless killing machine is...Far less honorable." the Orc says idly as he leads his bull onward, the beast snorting indifferently.

DM62: Ashur nods. "You are right to doubt me, with such little information as you now possess. But I have seen the path ahead. The cycle of violence between the green-skinned and the pink-skinned races... it does not end with Malgra's victory or death. Even though she burned Forest's Heart and razed Ritzerite last week, the fighting goes on... and on. The death continues, permitting larger threats to creep into the world unknown. No... the only way to untie this knot was to slice it in half. And that means the thrull." The queen is nearly beside herself with rage, despite Thrae's efforts to calm her. "BUT WHAT ABOUT US?!"

Chu'Gris: "So you are saying the Thrull are merely collateral damage?" the Orc asks, a frown on his face. "While I do not approve of Malgra's pointless wars, I also do not approve of simply casting a race by the wayside. When I was a boy we did not do things so callously. We pillaged, yes. But we did not eradicate. I cannot fathom the act myself. But far be it from me to judge someone I just met moments ago."

Zyanya: "We're gonna keep fighting regardless of things. That much I expect. But I dn't think "cutting the knot in half" was necesarily the bst solution and the queen has very right to be angry. Pushed into sentience, losing their leader and are now about to be killed by the thousands? All on what? I know we needed them, but we didn't know they'd be this easy to lose control of. Things like that would have been important to know ahead of time"

DM62: The sage gives the queen a sad look. "Little Queen... your race would have gone extinct in fifteen years. A plague... smaller bugs, too small for you to even perceive, burrow into your chitin. They drive your race mad... it would have begun five years from now, at the base of the mountains where your mother made her home. I understand the pain that you're going through. I feel your loss. And for the past few days, I have roamed your mountains, doing what I could to minimize the damage. But you have a future, now. Or at least a chance of one, which is all we can hope for in these times."

Chu'Gris: "Look at it like this, little one. In a few decades time, your race will be calm. Their bloodrage will ebb. All things come to rest eventually. And when the Thrull do, and their minds return to them, you will likely thrive, I hope." the old Orc says with a chuckle. "Because who else would make for worthy sparring opponents besides the Shirti and beastkin?" he says with a hearty laugh.

Zyanya: "Oh very funny." She gave the orc a quick jab as she had a big smirk on her face. "But he does speak he truth, little queen. Harsh as things may be and as unprepared as we were for some of these consequences, you ahve the chance o make your race something better. Don't let this one tragedy break you. Rise above it and make your people better for it. "

DM62: The sage nods. "Even now, other queens are taking control of their own hives. Leading them to colonize new homes. Some deeper into the desert. Some to the mountains. Others to forests and swamps. There are even some who will find themselves... in other realms." The queen, confused and exhausted, finally slumps over Thrae's abdomen, resting. Ashur sighs. "I will have to leave you again, soon. But first I must tell you that I believe I have identified our true enemy. Malgra did not truly start this war... nor was it her father Malgroth's fault. No... there's been a force pushing her family into this war. Playing both sides against each other. It was not easy to discover... and I am not entirely convinced, due to my main source."

Chu'Gris: "And who might that be, that would push our Chieftess to such a meaningless war?" the Orc asks, smirking as he looks over at the sage. "Surely it was a pinkskin who got too big for his breeches. Or perhaps a Cubite who had sucked out one too many loads?" he says, chuckling as he pictures that. "Regardless of who caused it, an old soldier like me knows there is no honor in such a conflict."

Zyanya: "Regardless of who, I don't enjoy being manipulated in the slightest. Or being anyone's tool. I got enough of that in Underfell and with the Dark elves. Us Shiriti aren't fond of being puppets made to dance on strings."

DM62: A troubled look crosses the sage's face. "I dare not speak the name aloud. His powers of foresight are great and terrible indeed. But he is the same Prophet that gave Malgroth his warning, fifty years ago, I believe. Which means that he's been manipulating events for a century now, pushing the races into a massive conflict. Which means... he could see a hundred years into the future, even then." She shudders. "But I am concerned about... how I acquired this knowledge. Tell me... have you ever heard of the Goddess Zestaz? Zestaz... the Fallen?"

Chu'Gris: "We do not like being made puppets either. Should my people learn of this, there will be civil unrest. Potentially even conflicts of leadership." the Orc says, as he strokes the two braids on the left side of his head. "I cannot say I have heard of this fallen god. I do not much much stock in divine beings."

Zyanya: "I will be honest, I don't know of too many gods besides some of the mainland ones and the War Goddess of my home. So why would Zestaz want to manipulate us mortals in such a fashion? What does she hope to gain by pitting us against us like this? Races come into conflict all the time and without the need for divine meddling."

DM62: "No... Zestaz was the one who revealed the Prophet's identity to me. Zestaz was... no... She IS omniscient, the Goddess of Knowledge from the Aether. But She grew to enjoy deception and manipulation, often lying to her supplicants to watch them fight. Eventually the other Goddesses banished Her, and cursed Her. She is literally incapable of lying, now. I... I summoned Her, to divine the truth about the forces behind this war."

Chu'Gris: "This could not have been an easy task. What price did you have to pay for such a dangerous feat, Sage?"

Zyanya: "Well, out with it. What else did she say?"

DM62: "No price. But asking Her is... dangerous. She still loves to deceive mortals... and even the truth can be a lie, if cleverly worded. If certain parts are omitted. I know... some of the truth. But I need to verify my suspicions." She frowns, handing Zyanya a scroll. "Written on this scroll is her answer. The identity of the person who was the Prophet. Who pushed us into this massive conflict. If I should fail... if I should not return... then that is the one who likely set these events into motion. But I would be cautious in my approach. The enemy is powerful, indeed. Perhaps more than a match for your party, even with my direct aid."

Chu'Gris: "HA! Powerful means nothing to an Orc!" the older Orc says with a laugh. "If you lot are trying to take down the very same person who started this war, then you can count on my strength."

Zyanya: "I wouldn't be so quick to judge, sir orc. I mean, we're dealing with someone whose been playing the long game and has clearly had time to plan out every one of his or her moves. We can't underestimate them." She'd runrol the scroll, making sure she was still balanced on the mount before finding out just who was at the bottom of all of this.

Chu'Gris: The Orc shakes his head as he slows the bull enough for it to be steady, not bothering to look at the name of his enemy, knowing simply that it was an enemy, and that was enough.

DM62: "I must leave you now... before you read the name." She frowns. "One more word of caution. Do not tell anyone of this conversation. Learning of this manipulation may have dire consequences indeed for all of our peoples... and there are almost certainly elements to this story that Zestaz kept hidden, to watch us stumble over the few blocks of truth that she fed me. So not a word of this to anyone." She sighs. "I suppose you COULD tell Hel and Vel, when you meet them again. But I do not want Zestaz' information spreading wildly. Not until I can see the truth for myself." At this point Ashur nods, and then she is no longer present.

Zyanya: Reading the scroll, the shiriti was almost amazed to admit that she was not expecting that result. Really? Why him of all people? Why would he want all of this to occur? What are his reasons? Does he really just want all the various races at odds with each other? It was all very confusing for the Shiriti, who didn't quite want to say anything else as Ashur leaves. "Well, best of luck to you hen, Ashur. I hope you find the answers you seek."

((end of session))
 
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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Interlude (an account of the Battle of Grand Forge)
To Queen Amelia Malius of Braxil, Rightful Ruler of Braxil With All Attendant Titles, Greetings.

Your Majesty expressed some interest in the Battle of Grand Forge, which by most accounts is the last great battle of the War of Burning Kingdoms, and also the beginnings of the Malius dynasty, in that the battle contained the seeds of the great Uprising against the original Masters of Underfell. I performed considerable research on this subject when I was a student, ten years ago, and I perused my old notes at some length before compiling this short missive on what is known about the battle itself.

Most historical accounts of the battle divide it into two primary regions: the fight upon the surface and the fight in the subterranean “districts” of Grand Forge. The rampaging thrull attacked in both areas. Popular dwarven accounts of the battle describe Prince Helvoque Magmahammer as returning to his realm, taking up his late father’s hammer (the ancestral weapon, bearing the family name and conferring kingship upon Helvoque), laying waste to the orcs that opposed him, then seizing command of both orc and dwarf to fend off the thrull. This is the popular version of that story, but wildly exaggerated, according to the personal accounts written by King Magmahammer himself. His own people discredit the king’s more accurate account, with the popular dwarven saying, “His modesty makes a liar out of him,” implying the humility as a virtue which hides the truth.

There is significant evidence that the under elves played a role in the battle, as well, accompanying a True Chimera into the fight against the thrull in the lower districts. There are also accounts of traps laid for the thrull, and as a student I visited these districts, seeing the acid marks from the well-laid traps. This is the first instance in that era of a True Chimera’s emergence, but there is little non-anecdotal evidence that this part of the story is even true.

On the surface, Sandrazor Orc cavalry received a warning only minutes before the thrull attacked in force, inflicting massive casualties. Warlord Malgra attacked the thrull from the right flank, but the tide only truly began to turn when a massive force of undead troops from Underfell entered the fray on the thrull’s left flank as well. There are confused accounts of what transpired next, but it is well-documented that the remaining knights of Ritzerite (which had been recently razed by Malgra’s forces) and the elves of Forest’s Heart (which had been recently burned by Malgra’s forces) emerged from hiding nearby and charged the thrull, temporarily setting aside their animosity toward the orc invaders to face a larger threat. There are also tales of lycanthropes and loggers entering the battle alongside the undead, but most of these accounts read like a fantasy epic, and are of dubious historical value. These accounts also mention, however, that your ancestors, Sir Regulus Malius and Lady Daria, met upon that battlefield as allies. It is hard to question that this was the very root of your royal family.

Following the battle, the orcs, trolls, and goblins met with the humans, elves, dwarves, and gnomes to discuss terms for the cessation of hostilities. The precise details of that negotiation are a matter of some speculation, as the participants were sworn to secrecy, but what followed was peace between the races... at least for a time. The War of the Burning Kingdoms was the last great war between the races, and the Battle of Grand Forge was the war's bloodiest engagement, with casualties estimated at over one-hundred thousand, not including the thrull.

It has been said that truth is the first casualty in war, and I suspect that no one’s reputation has suffered in the aftermath as keenly as Warlord Malgra. My research suggests that Malgra never roamed far enough north to be involved with the awakening of the thrull as a sapient species, although she was with the orc force that first made contact with the thrull as they moved south. Nevertheless, before the battle had even ended there was a widespread rumor that Warlord Malgra had attempted to awaken the thrull to use them as a weapon against the insurgent humans, elves, and dwarves.

Despite the lack of evidence (and even evidence to the contrary!), children of all races today are taught from an early age of the dangers posed by the overly ambitious, and Warlord Malgra is vilified for “attempting to play Goddess, and slaughtering more innocents in the process than any other villain to walk the earth” (this is an excerpt from a historical account written by an orc scribe, often used to teach their children). It is a grave injustice, an insult to a proud orc leader who, while she had many flaws, was not in actuality worse or better than any other mortal to have taken action on behalf of their race.

Of course, these inaccurate histories are hardly open for revision, being so widespread, and also being only a secondary matter for study considering the “Rise of the Nethermancer,” which occurred within only a few decades. At any rate, I do hope that this satisfies your curiosity, as otherwise I will have to refer you to my esteemed colleagues within your Royal Library.

As Ever, Your Faithful Servant,
Doctor Tyr Hring, Royal University of Braxil
 

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Interlude (a letter addressed to Arturus Windsong)
Dearest Arturus,

I know that you are fighting for me, to gain honor as a full-blooded elf so that we might be together. I truly do not care about the family name... all I want is for you to return to me, my love. You see... I did not tell you when you left Forest's Heart, but your seed has taken root. We are meant to have a family together! I don't care if we live in an elven manor in the trees, or in a hut by a muddy swamp, my dear. You, and our new life together. Our family. Our future. That is my choice. Please... please come home to me, my love.

Yours Always,
Eliassa
 

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-eighth Session, 7 May (part one, battle's end, naming Phyra, tense negotiations)
DM62: Crows are circling overhead. There are no sounds of battle, today. Broken standards, shattered shields, and ownerless weapons litter the field, along with countless dead. A general armistice is in effect, and the various survivors eye each other warily, but there is no violence... even words are sparse today, as figures move about the field, gathering their dead. The dwarves are using a pair of mineshafts to lower their dead for burial within the earth. To the west, smoke rises from a great mass pyre, where the greenskins are honoring their fallen. The new dwarven king was asked for, and granted, a square-mile lot of land to the east of Grand Forge, for burial of the elves and humans in accordance with their customs. But for the party that began in Ritzerite and traveled west to Braxil and Underfell, there are more pressing matters at hand. They have been summoned to the Great Hall of Kings, in the First District of Grand Forge, to attend negotiations. Orcs still hold the district... but they have allowed dwarves to visit and to leave the district for now, implying that they would soon be departing Grand Forge, pending an agreement between the rulers. On their way there, a robed female moves in near Thrae the drider, and the young thrull queen. "It is good that you have taken care of the queen thus far, Thraexyra. You are truly an exemplary member of your species, and of House Audaxia. But I fear it is time for her to depart." The figure pulls back her hood, revealing the ever-beautiful features of Ashur the Sage.

Vel: "Aw but... if she goes, First goes..."

Thrae looked over the now dead battlefield, covered in the corpses and equipment of the now passed. Then Ashur appeared before her and asked for the Thrull Queen back, which brought a small frown to Thrae's face. A bit of motherly protectivity was in her voice as she said. "Where must she go to?"

DM62: First raises her head at this. "I have to leave them? I... I can't ztay with my new friendz?" The queen looks at First... then to Ashur, who gives a tired smile. "You are free. The hivemind can be formed, yes... but those are not bonds of slavery. Not anymore. The queen can release you... you could even leave without permission, if you truly wished to." First looks at the queen. "I..." The queen smiles. "You have my permission to stay with your new friends, if you like. Though..." the queen looks more intently at Ashur, "I do not know when I will be able to return." Ashur nods solemnly. "The thrull that went berserk scattered in all directions. I have managed to match many of them up with new queens, in regions around their place of origin at the base of those mountains. But some of them... found their way into the Spiderbloom... and emerged in an entirely different realm. They need the strongest queen, if they are to avoid being slain or, worse, becoming slaves of the merciless powers that roam those lands. They need you, little one." The queen clutches to Thrae for a moment.

Vel smiles and hugs first from atop her. "Yaaaay."

Chu'Gris: Elsewhere on the battlefield, an old Orc carries the body of a fallen Greenskin on his back, trudging through the remains of what must have been a glorious fight, carrying the fallen one towards the great pyre, not one to shirk his duty to his kinsmen.

Hel: Meanwhile, the new Dwarven Forgeking was busy organizing things- preparing the coming meeting hall, working with organizing the men caring for the dead, and many, many other tasks to help shore up damages and issues that happened during the war to the once mighty city.

Zyanya: When Zyanya was found following the battle, she was found praying to her goddess. A long winded and heartfelt thanks for allowing her to survive and for aiding her in the great battle. She also requested safety and a speedy trip to the afterlife for the men and women who passed in the fight. Sure they didn't follow her but many of them were indeed worthy to join her in the realms beyond or in the realms of their gods. Either way, she was summoned and she had to finish her prayer with due haste. She'd arrive at the Grand Hall, still painted in her war regalia, remaining mostly silent until someone had need of her. She still had much thinking to do.

Thrae returns the younger bug girl's hug, before looking back over at Ashur. "So you want to send her into the bloom? With just herself and her thrull? I have a hard enough time navigating there and I at least have some minimal experience with it and some help my first few times...Let alone going to other realms entirely..."

DM62: The fallen Greenskin is none other than Commander Bathror, slain in battle with countless thrull... an honorable death. Of course, the high command would likely try to pressure Chu'Gris into taking the command he had so often refused again... but that was nothing new. In the middle of his preparations, Hel hears a familiar voice behind him. "You know... I was planning to give this hall back to you, either way. But maybe this is better." Warlord Malgra is standing nearby, a bit bruised and bloodied from the fighting, but still very much alive, her spear wrapped and carried by an underling. Sir Fiske walks with Zyanya. He hasn't really spoken much today, exhausted from the battle. Then again, that was the case for almost all of the warriors. Ashur shakes her head. "I will accompany her, until she has her footing. It should take no more than a few days, but you have my word that I will not leave her there to die. She will learn to use her full abilities, to keep her people safe." The queen sighs, holding Thrae close. "Well... maybe before we go, Thrae could... give me a name?"

Hel: In Hel's case, the ancestral artifact, a great smouldering mace of nullmetal and steel, held to his back along with the rest of his kit. He gave a shrug. "I know... when it would have been an advantage for the later plan... But that's a bit past now, I fear," he remarks, keeping his emotions even. It was no longer a time for pettiness.

Chu'Gris: "Whatever gods are out there must think this a joke." the old Orc grunts as he continues to carry the body of his fallen Commander. "The young perish by the drove, and an old soldier like me survives with but a few scratches." he says aloud to himself, a scowl on his face. "Sorry I couldn't protect everyone, old friend..." he says as he nears the pyre, holding back the mixture of anger and sorrow that is losing an honored comrade.

DM62: Malgra nods. "Indeed. Were these not acts of war, taken for the benefit of my people, I would feel the need to apologize. But let me instead express my condolences for the loss of your father. It was not my intention for that to happen. I lost my own father, not too long ago, and while I will always cherish his memory, it is still keenly felt." As Chu'Gris places the body upon the pyre, he hears a voice behind him. "Sergeant. It's been too long." Commander Fel Blackiron is standing there, his armor covered in dents and scrapes, but his axes sharpened as keenly as ever. A regimental commander, recently appointed, but an able body with a legendary sense of humor, even in war. "I understand that you and your commander were close... but now we must be going. We're going to be late for the negotiations."

Thrae still didn't like it, but at the same time she wasn't about to beat the sage by herself, and there was the fear of people turning thrull against them from other realities. Still holding the young queen Thrae thought it over for a few minutes, before she let go and said with a soft smile. "Phyrarra, or Phyra. But don't worry I'm sure we'll see eachother again. I'll be wandering the bloom myself you know." Most observers could likely tell that Thrae was saying that as much to herself as anyone else.

Chu'Gris: "Negotiations?" Chu'Gris says as he watches what remains of his friend burn away, the only possession he kept being the commander's weapon, intending to find a good spot to mark the battle with it later. "Does this mean the war might finally be over?"

Hel nods slowly. "Indeed. There will be time to properly mourn in the future at least." He is silent for a second, before giving a sigh. "Many more to mourn as well beyond the leaders, on all ends."

Vel: "Heh, welcome to the family Phyrarra. It's an odd one.," grins Vel

DM62: "Phyrarra. Or... Phyra." The queen hugs Thrae close, then the Sage nods. "I am sorry... but it is time. Not all time flows at the same speed in all realms, young Queen Phyra. And our task will be hard, but not impossible. Come." The queen nods, squeezing Thrae tightly, then follows the hooded figure, who leads her down a corridor to a dead end... but they have already vanished. First blinks. "Zhe... zhe is gone. I can't zeel the Queen. But zhe's not dead... juzt... I can't zeel her." The thrull guard looks forlorn for a moment. Commander Blackiron nods. "Aye. About time, too. I like honorable combat as much as the next orc, but... we're running out of orcs. And we're not even taking the time to make new ones. Another decade of this and we won't have anyone left. I know a proper orc isn't supposed to think this, but I say it's time for peace." Malgra nods again to Hel, and then the doors to the Grand Hall open, and the elven delegation arrives. Arturus looks... worn, tired, and a little gaunt, with circles under his eyes that suggest he has not slept for days. Still, he enters and then moves aside, bowing as Lady Tela Greenleaf strides into the great hall, carrying a sword that seems so black it darkens the room a little around her. Behind her, two elven women are accompanying Naliri Leafspar, the elderly queen. She looks older than ever, haggard, but her lips are pressed firmly together as she is helped to her chair. Lady Greenleaf scowls as she sees Malgra, and for a moment Hel has the feverished impression that the war might start up again right in front of him. Then Naliri speaks. "Lady Greenleaf. Come keep an old woman company." The elderly elf pats a chair next to her, and the elf sighs, then moves to join her queen.

DM62: En route, Zyanya and Fiske encounter some more familiar faces... Sir Regulus Malius is accompanying the young Rashirah of Kalifer, on their way to the negotiations. Sir Malius gives a smile as he sees the pair. "Great to see you, friends! We're on our way to the negotiations, now."

Hel moves to his appointed seat, a stone throne carved at the head of the table, and lays the Magmahammer and his halbred to either side of it before taking his seat. At this point, it took just the remaining dignitaries to arrive.

Chu'Gris: "Aye. Call it an old soldier's weariness, but peace is our best option right now. I wouldn't want to make an enemy of the combined pinkskin races." the old Orc says with a chuckle, letting Blackiron lead the way. "Before we arrive, tell me. Are the leadership going to try and shove me into a commanding role again?"

Thrae had a look that probably matched First's. The spider woman's young and still not entirely sure motherly instincts crying out that she shouldn't have let the young thrull go, at least not when she was still so little. So instead the spider woman went to her oldest source of comfort, and probably the one that would to some extent understand the most, and flopped down beside Vel, leaning against her old caretaker even if it wasn't exactly proper 'form' to have in public.

Vel smiles and nussles Firsts back. "I can't imagine how you feel. But don't worry, ypou aren't alone. Vel reaches her til around to hug Thrae too. "I know that feeling."

Zyanya: "Sir Malius? It's quite an honor to see you again. I trust...things have been well with you?" She wasn't sure if it was proper to say, but it had been a while and she was concerned in general for all their friends and comrades. A battle like this, it was hard to tell who lived or not.

DM62: "Maybe not this time, Chu'Gris. We're actually preparing for peace... so they're looking at making me into a chieftain. Which is something that I wanted to ask you about--I could use a Champion at my side, and I've never yet seen the orc or human who could best you." He smiles as they walk, clapping a hand onto the older orc's shoulder. First blinks, clicking her mandibles. Then Braxis nods. "Well... we'd best be on our way to that big meeting. Lots of royals and rulers there... and if stuff happens, well, it'll happen there." Sir Malius shrugs. "As well as can be expected, I suppose. Not sure where you ended up in the battle, but the Lady of the Forest sent lycanthropes and forest creatures along with the loggers of Axetan to join the war. The Rashirah is looking at making me the provincial governor of Braxil... so that's something, I suppose." The Rashirah smiles and nods at Zyanya and Sir Fiske. "Indeed. We are all endebted to Sir Malius... and to you brave souls who accompanied him." One of the royal advisors clears his throat. "The meeting, my lord?" The Rashirah sighs and nods, and the procession continues.

Chu'Gris: "I...Do not know what to say. I have never once thought of being a Champion, for anyone..." the old Orc says with no small amount of apprehension. "It is funny. As old as I am, I still worry I will not be strong enough."

Vel: "We should get goin, girls. It'd be bad for us to be last to arrive."

Zyanya: "Well, we were fortunate to have all the help we could, Sir Malius. It was a harrowing experience for us all. But I can say with confidence that Fiske has been performing exceptionally in his duties since he started." She gave the young knight a pat on his shoulder. "You would do quite well in the position Malius. The Rashirah would be missing much if he let you fall by the way side." She waved her hand in response to the Rashirah. "It was all part of our job, sir. We all have homes and peoples to protect and this was no different. I would have done anything to ensure the war never reached my home." But their discussion ended and the procession had to move forward, the tribal warrior following in with them.

Thrae: "I guess we should" Thrae said, and stood back up again, though this time she drifted more toward Braxis. Following along beside the minotaur as they headed in to the meeting.

DM62: Blackiron nods. "The moment you lose that fear, you lose your edge as a warrior. A warrior who's always sure is quickly dead." He nods sagely, moving into the Great Hall via a side tunnel to stand near Warlord Malgra's portion of the table. The Rashirah and the other humans are the last to arrive, taking their seats in a dignified manner. He clears his throat uncomfortably, looking ill-at-ease in a meeting with much older rulers and warriors around him, but still looking quite sharp as he surveys the room. Malgra nods. "Well. I suppose I shall begin, then." She hands a bundle of scrolls to orc underlings, who distribute them to Helvoque, Leafspar, and the Rashirah. "I began this war in an effort to defend my people... and all people... but clearly, my methods failed catastrophically. I shall withdraw all of my forces back to the traditional orc lands, as will the other members of my coalition, to their traditional lands, free of bloodshed. We will surrender all the lands that we seized, along with loot. I will be stepping down from my position as Warlord, once this is accomplished. The only condition, which you will note at the bottom of the peace accord, is that there be a final combat, in the sands of my homeland, between an elven champion and an orc champion. This is how such wars are, and must, be ended, according to ancient dictates of my tribe."

Hel: The dwarf frowns as he reads the orcish writing, looking it fully over before he says anything for or against this agreement, if only to ensure that Malgra wasn't doing one last-ditch double cross for his own conciousness. There was no reason to doubt her, admittedly, but old habits were dying hard even then.

DM62: The accords include translations in dwarven, elven, and the more common human tongue, according to whom the scroll was addressed. Hel's is written in orcish and dwarven.

Vel stayed quiet beside First, listening in curiously. They couldn't read aand had little relevance there she figured. But good to be aware.

DM62: Lady Greenleaf rises, drawing her black-metal blade, then letting it clang heavily onto the table. "If you wish to finish this, orc, let's finish it here and now! Let it be done with!" Malgra frowns. "No. It will be according to the dictates of the peace accord, or there will be no peace. And you will not be the elven champion. I believe Arturus will request the honor." Sir Arturus' eyebrows raise, and he turns to look at the orc ruler somewhat incredulously.

Chu'Gris enters to take his own place nearby, giving a subtle nod to Thrae, and remaining silent, despite his curiosity for which champion both sides would choose.

Hel's Orcish wasn't the strongest, but he does a quick pass between the dwarven and Orcish to see if the general wording matched at least. His work was similarly distracted by Lady Greenleaf, watching her carefully for a second to ensure she didn't drive things worse.

Vel looks curiously at the elf and arcturus. Will they throw their peace away, stupidly?

Zyanya sat and listened, the back and forth reminding her all to much of the inter-tribal squabbling she observed when she was a girl.

DM62: Lady Greenleaf does not sit. "You cannot force him to fight you. And he obeys his superiors. I will be the elven champion, or we will resume this war, and we will burn and salt your homeland!" Arturus rises, the exhaustion plain upon his face. "Were it a matter of personal honor, Warlord Malgra, I would happily indulge you. But this is a matter for rulers to decide, and my Lady Greenleaf has already given her command. It might settle your honor, but it would damage that of my people, were I to disobey her." Malgra sighs, then nods to another subordinate, an elderly troll. He looks at Malgra, shaking his head, but finally he sighs, reaching into a leather scroll case and producing another scroll.

Hel said nothing, being quiet and allowing Greanleaf to speak her piece.

Vel: Yeah, he elves were overreaching. Given such a huge weightof terms in their favor? Chances were the pother races might abandon them for hubris. Vel would.

Thrae was thinking much the same as Vel. The orcs were already withdrawing, and handing back everything. The elves should not be making such a fuss over a simple combat

DM62: Malgra continues looking at the old troll. He glares back at her. There's a long, pregnant pause. Then the troll sighs, handing the scroll and a small, black bag to one of the orc underlings. The orc carries them to Arturus, placing them onto the table before him. He blinks, looking at the scroll... which is not the rough parchment of the orcs, but the vellum scroll material used by the elves. Then he reaches down, picking up the scroll with shaking hands, clearing his throat, and opening it to read. As he reads, the remaining color seems to drain from his face. He opens the small black bag... and pulls out a single, golden braid of hair. He pauses, staring at it for a moment, then in a voice more dead than alive, he intones, "I accept the challenge."

Vel: That was... Interesting. "Prophecies...," mutters Vel under her breath

Chu'Gris' eyes narrow as he watches the exchange before him, his teeth pressed together tightly.

Hel's eyes narrow, but he is silent still. The information imparted in various sources throughout all this made him quite sure what that would intone, but he shouldn't be too surprised by now. His attention focuses again on the annoyed Lady Greenleaf, to see if her fiery elvish temper would strike again.

Thrae raises an eyebrow, confused as to what the hair meant. She shook her head a little bit as she tried to see if she could shake free a memory she had forgotten that might give her some light to this.

Zyanya: She could understand why the elves were so indignant. But this was getting beyond ridiculous. But the scene with the old troll and Arturus just has the tribal raising more then a few quesitons. It almost felt like there was some sort of blackmail going on and she honestly wanted to know what it was all about. But again, this was not her discussion. Not her place. Her people barely had a dog in this fight, save for one

DM62: Queen Leafspar snaps her fingers once, pointing at the scroll, and one of the elf attendants quickly plucks it off the table, delivering it to the elderly elf. She reads it, her scowl deepening, lips pressing together in a taut pattern. She rises, glaring daggers at Warlord Malgra. "You savage orcs and your lust for blood! And now this." She's practically shaking with rage, slamming the scroll onto the table in Malgra's direction. "My people have suffered enough at your hands, you bitch. But we'll play along. You can have your sacrificial lamb, since he seems content in this. Just remember that blood always calls for blood." She fumes. "I hope, I truly hope, that you have the courage to face him yourself, Warlord Malgra. Because only a coward would hand him this, and then hide from his wrath!" Warlord Malgra stares at the queen, patiently enduring her vitriol. "Yes. I will be the orc champion. I will face Arturus in the Arena of the Sands. Three days. Arturus will accompany us, as is the custom, but he may choose companions to ensure that the duel is honorable. And a second, of course. We depart Grand Forge in the morning."
 

Hopeyouguess62

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-eight Session, 7 May (part two, negotiations end, Vel puts the pieces together, traveling to the arena)
Vel definitely was curious now. She had to wait for the meeting to be over to ask though... She wondered if Fel knew and would tell.

DM62: Fel Blackiron looks confused as the rest of the gathering. What had transpired seemed to be only between Arturus, Queen Leafspar, Warlord Malgra, and the rather ancient-looking troll.

Vel: Figures. Guess she'd have to hope Arcturus wanted to tell.

DM62: And, of course, there's the scroll that just went skittering off into a corner of the hall.

Vel: That worked too, she could get Thrae to read it. She quietly went low and went to go collect it sneakily. She’d return it after.

Hel still wasn't quite sure if his hunch on that letter was right... Still, he finally said his piece. "As far as I can tell, things relating to the dwarves are settled and ready. I of course will be doing my best to assist in the reconstruction of both human and elven capitols as well, if they wish it of us."

DM62: Warlord Malgra nods. "The orcs have already departed Forest's Heart and Ritzerite. Is there any further business for this meeting?" The Rashirah purses his lips. "How long will this peace last? Your treaty did not specify." Warlord Malgra sighs. "Yes, I suppose that's true. Well... let us agree that the surface races shall respect each others' territorial boundaries for no less than fifteen years from this date, with an option for a new treaty at that time." The Rashirah nods. "That is acceptable." Queen Leafspar looks calmer now, nodding. "I suppose we accept as well... though you know how I feel about this last little trick of yours, Malgra. Just keep your orcs out of my forest... or else." She walks out of the chamber, and Lady Greenleaf gives one more scowl in the warlord's direction, picking up her blade and marching out with the rest of the delegation, leaving Arturus behind.

Vel: Now that was... Especially interesting. Either way, Vel returned once she had the scroll and handed up to Thrae quietly

Thrae would raise her eyebrow at Vel returning with the scroll, and then take a look at it. It wasn't like she was going to read it out loud with everyone else still in the room, but she could put it to memory to tell Vel later.

DM62: Arturus speaks in a grave tone. "If any of my friends that accompanied me from Ritzerite to Braxil wish to come with me to the duel, you are most welcome. I will retire for now, and prepare. Warlord Malgra, at sunrise I shall be departing with your forces." The golden braid still clutched in his hands, he turns and leaves the chamber.

Hel nods a little to the Elvish delegation as they leave, waving to one of his own aides to prepare logistics once the dwarves themselves had time to recover and regroup themselves here.

Vel: "Course I'm coming."

Sir Malius frowns. "I know I'm slated as provincial governor, my lord... but I request leave to accompany my friend to the duel." The Rashirah nods.

Vel: "Well, let's go get settled, First, Thrae. Don't believe we're needed now. We've got some... Discussions! Wanna come along, your Majesty? Might be enlightening."

DM62: First nods. "That waz zo conzuzing." She clacks her mandibles, carrying Vel off towards their temporary quarters in the Third District.

Vel: "I'm gathering some pieces, but I think I need a discertation by Thrae before I can put it all toghether. There was some other interesting things to note and I want to be sure it gets back to... The right people."

DM62: Braxis scowls. "Not sure what that nonsense was over a piece of paper and a braid of hair." He snorts, moving along with the rest of the group.

Vel: "Thats another piece I want to figure out. Won’t know til it’s read to me."

Zyanya: -Sigh-"Never could be simple or easy. I know the elves have grievances but there was almost a complete collapse here." She leans back in the chair before pulling herself up. "I suppose that's it then?"

Vel: "Not over til it’s over, Zyanya."

Sir Fiske nods. "I guess so. Though I wouldn't feel right if we didn't go with Arturus. I don't trust Malgra, but we don't really have much choice, do we?"

Vel: "We're going. I don’t leave things half finished. Well. I’m going. I assume First is going since I’m going? Or not, her call. And Thrae SHOULD go, but thats her call."

Hel is quiet as the rest of the dignitaries and others move out of the hall. As much as he wishes he could accompany the half-elf he had been battle brothers with, he knows there is still much more that he needs to do. As the rest of the dignitaries left, he waited until the hall was vacant, before moving to another door, heading to work with his people to mourn and repair.

Vel: "Mmm, no Hel. Ah well. I'll go check in on him after, and give him my findings. I;d be remiss not to look after his safety."

Zyanya: "It's hard to deny them anything at this point, unless we want to waste more lives and spill more blood. Something the elves almost wanted. But for now, we seem to have one last task to do. At least if you want to accompany Fiske. I'm going either way."

Vel: "Let's hurry up, I want to get started playing with the pieces. I can feel it coming toghether, but..."

DM62: Warlord Malgra sighs, moving to leave along with the delegation. She speaks once they leave the chamber, but Chu'Gris can hear her words. "I took no pleasure in that, old man. The prophecy is quite clear. The half-elf must die... along with all of his progeny. We would not have done so, were it not a necessity for our people. We might lose the war, but we save the world. Remember that." The ancient troll sighs. "I know, Malgra. But you've had to become something terrible to save it, I fear. I hope you are done with power, once this is over." Malgra nods.


DM62: The party reaches a quiet area in the dwarven quarters, where Thrae reads the contents of the letter to the party.

Chu'Gris follows like the good soldier he is, his teeth gently pressed together in a mixture of shame and understanding at what had transpired.

Vel: "Well as I’m sure everyone has figured out by now. Arturus is the one Malgra thinks is gonna destroy the world. Now whether he is, or she jsut made him into it herself... That’s what we're going there to find out. As someone once said, listen to all prophecies and none of em. Heh."

DM62: Sir Malius frowns. "Sounds like some bullshit to me. Arturus looked like he could barely stand. How's he gonna destroy the world?"

Zyanya: "I tend not to take stock in prophesies. You live your life afraid of things that might happen, and you either do terrible things to stop something that might not happen or live in fear and do nothing productive with your life. Damned if you do or don't."
Vel: "Doesn’t have to be now. But who knows. He’s not stupid or weak. And he was there when we learned about our cubite friends... where are they anyways? Mmm...."

DM62: Sir Malius turns red. "You mean... Lady Daria? I believe I met her... um... last night."

Vel: "Ah. In any case, they serve some greater entity that answers requests. I doubt that's the limit what it could do and who knows, might be more ones. Plus he served under Ashur. He must know things and can know more. Honestly. I suspect that if this prophecy is exactly as it played out, we're just gonna either exacerbate it if we intervene directly, or cause something even worse. The important thing is not to alienate him further til we know where this goes. Malgra doesn;t exactly not deserve a good stabbing. Kinda funny prophecies like that."

Vel: "Honestly we're at the stage where I think we gotta let the chips fall where they may and only step in if he starts going... Overboard."

DM62: Sir Fiske raises an eyebrow. "Overboard? What's overboard, at this point, for Arturus?"

Vel: "I dunno. Unleashing viral contagion to kill all orcs? Summoning forth the thousand eyed, thousand dicked beast of the deepest pits of the underground. Summoning thousand year lasting giga hurricane over the desert?"

Thrae: "Becoming an overlord and trying to take over the world by killing everyone or something." Thrae added jokingly. The drider feeling a bit odd now that she realized their adventure was finally over.

DM62: "If he can do THAT, not sure how we stop him," snorts Braxis.

Zyanya: "Before I forget..." Zyanya dug into her personal belongings, retrieving a scroll of her own from a satchel on her hip. "I received this from Ashur before the battle and it's quite telling. Something about someone behind the scenes. Someone we thought we knew." She'd unroll the paper and hold it out before the party, the note reading as such: "I was told that the true mastermind of the war was the Prophet, whom today you would know as my gnomish master."

Vel: "Throwing your panties at her? Don;t ask silly questions. I doubt that will happen right then and there, Thrae. Well usually when mages want to do something big and dumb they need to do dances and speak gibberish. Huh. Hey. That actually does fit the last piece into my little puzzle! I had a feeling but that makes it easier. Question is. So what?"

Vel: "Beyond not trusting him but hey, nobody should trust anything, sheesh."

Thrae lightly snapped a finger infront of Vel, before saying with a chuckle. "You already Vel? You seem a bit more scattered then usual."

DM62: Sir Fiske frowns. "So... when Ashur was talking about somebody with a hundred-years of foresight, and all that, manipulating a massive war between the races... it's some gnome you guys know?"

Vel: "He gave Hel a hand job. Erm, I mean he did the job of giving Hel his hand back."

Thrae: "Well, we kinda ran into him once. I wouldn't really count it as 'someone we know.'"

Vel: "Anyways, scattered? Well I do have a magical curse now. That;s not exactly a minor thing y'know? Oh right, you don't know. Sorry, can;t show you."

Zyanya: "It was a casual meeting and he did offer some assistance. But it surprises me that he would aid us when we were actively working against his plans. My real question is what he sought to gain from all this."

Vel: "You think we were working against his plans?"

DM62: Sir Malius shakes his head. "This changes nothing. Some bullshit prophecy about my friend, but the fact of the matter is that his love is dead now, as is his unborn kid. Frankly, if he loses the duel, I'm tempted to finish the job for him."

Thrae: "Wait what, magical curse?" Thrae asked with her eyebrows raised. "What magical curse."

Vel: "Never said you can’t. As I said. She doesn;t not deserve a good thrashing. I’d do it myself. Just to see if she can do alone what it took two kingdoms to do. Oh, I’m a Lampthrone now."

DM62: First blinks, looking back at Vel. "You juzt need zome zleep, iz all."

Vel: "Also House Audaxia says if you release me I’m to be set free as a full citizen!"

Vel: "Which is good, cus it woulda gave you an out if I had to punch that lady elf in the thigh for derping. Anyways, probably. But not yet."

Thrae's eyebrows looked like they were about to rocket off her head at the news. But in the end she couldn't help but grin, actually a grin would be an understatement, Thrae had an ear to ear smile on her face. "Well then, how could I still keep you as a slave if you got that all lined up. Not like you weren't really effectively free before this, but consider yourself officially a free citizen then Vel." The drider couldn't help but hug her former caretaker, happy that a solution was found for dealing with Vel's slave status.

Vel giggles and snuggles her. "Oh good, now you don't have to 'fall down some stairs'," she teases Thrae, "I'm not gonna go down there for a bit though. I don't wanna test how willing the general public is to not 'accidently forget' and 'misplace' my documents. That said, we still have politic talk for you to bring back to the realm. I'm gonna get a nap after. Cmon Thrae, First. Uh, let's grab food too, don't want First to go hungry, and I suspect she's used to more communal living than most other races perform."

Vel: "Hm. Shoulda asked Ashur if First would always look like this or if she;d look more like the queen eventually..."

Zyanya: "Well, just though I'd leave you with that piece of information...not that it seems like it mattered." She sighed and foded the paper back up and slipped it into her satchel "Gonna grab something to eat myself and then call it a night myself. Or at least relax until then."

Thrae: "Yes, I have to admit I don't actually remember the last time I ate either." Thrae's fangs seemed to wiggle a bit as she looked between Vel and Braxis. "With all the commotion of the last little while I've been running on near empty."

Vel: "One two three, not it."

DM62: Night passes uneventfully (though Sir Malius finds himself once again "feeding" his new cubite lover...) and in the morning, the orcs are up and moving by sunrise. Arturus is dressed in his regular chain mail, his sword and mace strapped to his belt as they move along with the group. Many of the orcs ride Sandrazors, but Warlord Malgra and the remainder of her guard give up their mounts, walking on foot so that the wounded may ride. It is a dour procession. The orcs march in defeat... as does the half-elf. Arturus speaks in one-word responses, if at all, during the journey. The journey continues into the night... and the procession switches its rest time to mid-day, using the cool evenings for the long marches. As they travel, the air seems... thinner... to Thrae. As though there are... fewer strands of the Spiderbloom here. Even areas where she cannot sense it around her.

Vel: Over night, Vel made sure the Grand Matriarch, via Thrae, was pointed out of the fact that their kingdom was NOT safeguarded by the treaty and as such may have to step up their self defense abilities.

DM62: The Under Elf delegates were recalled before the peace treaty. It was rather odd and rather sudden. For some reason, someone didn't want them remotely involved. Thrae receives reassurance that the under elves were intentionally avoiding the process. They had escaped this war relatively intact, and did not intend to easily surrender their leverage.

Vel was riding along with First, watching as she moved. She mostly flops, grumbling about sand, heat and her fur.

Thrae is rather surprised at the lack of the bloom here. She wondered just what drove it back from this place, or if the bloom had just never touched here on its own.

DM62: The Arena of the Sands is a large valley of sand and sandstone, seemingly carved into the desert itself. It is odd that such a place should survive the desert winds, but there are stranger things in this world. Malgra had sent most of the wounded and the other non-combatants back to the Orc homelands on the second day, so now it was just the party and a few thousand of the remaining orc warriors. The sandstone seems to offer natural seating arrangements for an arena, giving nearly all of the orcs a good view of the match. The party is given a solid portion of the sandstone to rest upon, close to the fighting but far enough back that dozens of orc warriors are between them and the combatants.

Vel: "This is gonna be.. Interesting. Hm..." She sniffs the air, trying to spot Fel.

DM62: Chu'Gris has also been invited to the match, and offered a spot near his short-term companions from the party, in a diplomatic gesture from the orcs.

DM62: Fel Blackiron was sent with the other group back to the orc homelands, as the commander of that expedition.

Zyanya took a seat on the stone, interested in seeing where this fight went. And offering a short prayer to her goddess. A little extra luck for Arturus if he needed it

Vel: "Hello."

Chu'Gris accepts his seat with his short-term companions, feeling like he should be with them more than with the rest of his kind, considering a great sage put him there for a reason. He is absent the second weapon he was carrying on his back after the battle, carrying only the ornately carved and wickedly sharp bearded axe strapped to his back.

DM62: Arturus emerges, walking into the Arena from a small tent. He still looks gaunt, sunburned from the past few days in the desert. He looks weary, his eyes dead... but he reaches up, unstrapping his chain mail, then slipping the rings of mail off of his thin elven body. He removes the under padding as well, standing there in a simple cloth undergarment, and picking up his sword and mace to face Malgra's tent. A hush falls over the orcs.

Chu'Gris leans back and folds his arms. "It is custom that both warriors wear no armor." he says quietly, just loud enough for the group to hear.

DM62: Sir Fiske scowls, muttering about ancient customs and what, precisely, orcs can do with them.

Vel: "Heh. I don't even wear clothes."

Zyanya: "I don't think you ever have, Vel. And strange. Even my people have some ceremonial garb for tribal customs or combat. Not that our armor is very heavy to begin with."

Zyanya: "But Win or lose, Arturus seems quite lost...not sure what he'll do after this if he wins."

Thrae: "I am a mage so not like I use armour myself:

Chu'Gris: "He is not likely to win. One does not bend all of the Orc tribes to their will with honeyed words and promises."

DM62: Malgra emerges from her tent now, already stripped down to a few pieces of cloth just enough to cover her privates and her breasts. An underling unwraps her spear, the blade of the spear looking more like a short sword than a spear tip, with the small but deadly ball of metal on the bottom of the haft. It would seem that Malgra installed the pieces of her old spear onto a new haft. She takes the spear from the underling, giving the elven warrior a small bow. Arturus does not return it, but simply stands motionless. At this point the ancient troll speaks, his voice booming. "THIS IS A MATTER OF HONOR. THERE SHALL BE NO INTERFERENCE. THE FIGHT SHALL CONTINUE... UNTO DEATH. ARTURUS OF FOREST'S HEART, MALGRA OF GRUT'ROK DESERT, BEGIN." Malgra walks forward, spear in hand. Arturus watches her for a moment, then does so as well, moving up to close the distance.

Vel: "I'd be worried about what he does. "

Chu'Gris: "Can you not see it on his face? He is a man seeking death." the greenskin says simply, his brow furrowed in thought.

DM62: "Those are the most dangerous men." Sir Malius stares at the center of the arena.

Vel: Yup."

Zyanya: "Given what your people had taken from him in the name of some prophecy, I'm surprised he's not more vigorous. But, some men when they lose everything decide that remaining in this world is not worth the effort. A shame. He's a good man."
 

Hopeyouguess62

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Re: Blackshard Prequel Transcripts (edited)

Twenty-eighth Session, 7 May (part three, the duel, the sage, the prophet, and journey's end)
DM62: Arturus and Malgra stop about ten feet apart. Malgra speaks to him in a low tone for a few moments. He does not respond for a moment... then he grits his teeth and nods. Malgra shifts into a fighting position, twirling her spear up to a ready stance. Arturus shifts a foot back about six inches. A wind whistles through the arena.

Vel: "Some decide the worlds not worth anything."

Vel: "Some... Decide to "fix" it."

Chu'Gris: "The fact that he faces the Warlord shows great courage and honor on his part. He will find peace in the afterlife regardless of the outcome."

DM62: Malgra's attack is fierce, her spear coming in at a downward slash... but Arturus is nimble, bringing up his own blade to block the assault, and sidestepping. He bring his mace around, and Malgra twirls the other end of her spear, blocking each other again. As orc-like as Malgra's ferocity, there is a certain symmetry in their movements, as the fighting styles have similar roots. What Arturus lacks in strength, he makes up for in speed, dodging and blocking with the same dead look upon his face.

Zyanya: "A close match. Something seems to have lit a fire under Arturus. Seems like he's not quite ready to give up so easily. Of course...given how similar their stances are, it really could go either way."

Vel: "I kinda feel bad for Hel heh."

DM62: Arturus and Malgra seem evenly-matched, exchanging blows with an inhuman speed, blades and bludgeons moving faster and faster, waiting to see who will give up the dance first. Then Arturus seems to slow for a moment, and Malgra presses her advantage, bringing the bludgeon end of her spear around to attack Arturus, much like she caught Hel before. But Arturus bring his own bludgeon around, and it flares blue... as a force-enhanced attack catches Malgra in the back of her left ribs, sending her flying twenty feet to the edge of the arena. She lands with a sickening thud, but is on her feet quickly... though her back is bleeding and bruised, quite badly, and everyone in the arena could hear the cracking of bones.

DM62: "I take it the orcs don't have any rules about force magic." Sir Malius is wearing a small smirk.

Chu'Gris: "I personally would see it as dishonorable. But our customs do not forbid magic, no."

Vel: "I'm more surprised he didn't just like.. Make the air crush her."

Zyanya: "Given what he's going up against, I don't hold him against him. Plus, he's possibly restraining himself. As Vel said, I've seen him do a great deal more with his magic. I'm curious to see how Malgra responds in her state now."

Chu'Gris: "With that much damage, she's likely to fly into a bloodrage. If that happens, I recommend hiding behind the seats."

Vel: "Like I've never been covered in gore."

DM62: "Nah, those blades of his are magically-attuned. Had em forged in the Scaletail Islands, if I recall. Him using magic through those blades is... much easier and more potent than your average spell." Now Malgra is on the defensive, countering his movements as best she can, and Arturus is on full attack. He bring his bludgeon around, aiming for her skull, the mace glowing blue... but then Malgra brings up her own spear, which also flares blue. There's a deafening crack, as the haft of Malgra's spear explodes, sending both combatants falling away from each other into the sand and dust.

Vel: "Huh. Shes magic too."

Zyanya: "That was...unexpected...but the force simply overpowered the strength of the weapon."

DM62: Malgra rises, her body bleeding from multiple splinters and larger chunks of wood... but Arturus is there quicker, his sword still in hand. "THIS IS FOR ELIASSA!" He drives the sword into the center of Malgra's chest, and it emerges out the other side, black blood pouring from both ends. Malgra growls up at him, black blood flowing from her lips as well, and she grabs his neck, pulling him in close with a fierce snarl.

Thrae looked on semi-impassively at the fight before her, she had a guess where this was likely going to go.

Vell had to wonder if best case was both died...

Vel: She looked around, snuffling for gnome. He must be observing...

Chu'Gris: "That...Was unexpected." the old Orc says as he leans back slightly. "Well, I suppose I just lost a fresh sharpening stone."

Thrae: "Someone is here. They came through the bloom." Thrae said quietly as she looked around.

Vel: "Hm." She looks around, sniffing, "First, someone new came out of nowhere. Do you feel or smell or see anything different now?"

DM62: Malgra coughs up black blood... then she wrenches one of the large chunks of sharp wood out from her ribs, and thrusts the broken wood up into Arturus' exposed throat. He releases his blade, clutching at his neck. Malgra grabs the blade within her, pulling it from her wound, as her blood continues to pour. She pauses for just a moment... then she brings the blade down into the elf's shoulder, slicing off an arm. She spits up more blood, bringing the blade down again... cutting off the elf's other hand at the wrist, as Arturus falls back onto the sands, blood pouring from his body, the red mixing with the black. A hooded figure approaches, seemingly unnoticed by most of the orcs watching, until she's close to the combat itself. "That's enough."

Chu'Gris stands from his seat and reaches a hand for his axe, As he does so, he snarls at the hooded figure. "Do not interfere!" he shouts at the hooded figure.

Thrae: "We need to go" Thrae says as she puts her hands on Vel and Braxis. "Something bad is going to happen if we stay."

Thrae's voice was incredibly urgent, and she started to tug on the two.

DM62: Sir Malius turns. "Thrae? What are you talking about?"

Vel: "Nevermind. That right? Chu'gris, I'd trust the driders instincts. Your call. Guys, follow the dancing spider. She's magic and knows things, Don't tempt fate. Let's go."

Thrae: "The hooded figure! They're going to do something." Thrae was positively panicked as she started to pull everyone away, heading east. "Come on we have to go!"

DM62: Sir Fiske rises, looking at Zyanya. "We... we leaving?"

DM62: Braxis simply nods. "Right. Good enough for me."

Vel: "Follow her First."

Zyanya: "What's all this about then." The tribal was a little confused, but she wasn't about to let her curiosity get the better of her. "This better be worth it"

Chu'Gris: "I'd sooner die than let some wizard interfere in a matter of honor."

Vel: "Suit yourself, I like life."

DM62: Malgra brings the blade down again, severing Arturus' legs, and Ashur pulls back her hood. "I said that's ENOUGH!" Her voice booms, and a wave of force rushes out, literally breaking Malgra's body in half, sending her falling back to the sand and dust and blood. "You orcs... and your savage lust for blood! And all for a false gnomish prophecy!" She kneels before the broken body of Arturus. "He was the best of us. He fought for peace. He offered himself... for peace. He convinced the elves to lay down their weapons... and you still want more violence." She looks about angrily, and the air around her begins to shimmer. The party (and Chu'Gris) can feel a considerable amount of heat, even in the desert, emanating from her.

Vel: "Ohhh boy. Here we go... Thats the start of the prophecy..."

DM62: First needs no urging, and is scrambling up and out of the arena, and over any orc foolish enough to stand in her way.

DM62: With Vel balanced on her back, of course.

Vel is using spikes as hand holds. "Yeah, do not want to be melted..."

Chu'Gris: "How dare you presume to speak as if you know our ways!" the old Orc shouts, pulling the axe off of his back and holding it in both hands. "Regardless of the circumstance or reasoning, you have interfered in a battle to the death. You have dishonored both of them!"

Thrae has fled the arena as well, going right along with First and making a way for anyone else who is following.

Thrae also pulls Braxis away with her :p

DM62: Sir Regulus grabs the orc's shoulder. "Listen, friend, you can live OR die, but she's interfering and we can't stop her. Let's pay her a visit another day." With that, he shakes his head, running after the party.

Chu'Gris: The old orc grits his teeth as he feels the heat around him, the pure anger coming from the sage, his foothold faltering, and before he can gather his wits, his legs are carrying him away with the rest of the party, his eyes squinted shut.

DM62: Ashur laughs. "I understand your last words, Gnome! Your final prophecy!" She looks about the orcs. "You know NOTHING of violence. But I shall teach you. You shall learn at my hands." The sands begin to swirl around her. "Sand. Fire. Glass." The sands filter through the cylinder of heat, melting into glass... "Shards." The glass shatters, and a maelstrom of glass shards begins to spread. As orcs move to attack the Sage, great shards of glass fly among them, slicing and hacking apart limbs, embedding themselves in the green-skinned assailants. "YOU SHALL LEARN. AT MY HAAAAANDS!" A red-colored maelstrom begins to spread behind the party, small bits of glass cutting them as they manage to stay on the outskirts of the magical storm.

Vel gasps, hissing and hyper ventilating, biting her lip as she tries to keep control as she's sliced and hurt.

Chu'Gris: "Ancestors forgive my cowardice!" the old orc shouts as he high-tails it after the party, his axe still clutched in one hand, as his own black blood begins to seep from the cuts and slices appearing on his skin.

DM62: The storm's spread slows as it gains size, and the party is able to reach the gnome's tower with a few hours of hard running. Braxis is panting for dear life, having never run so far... ever. The storm seems to stop, collapsing inward after a point. There looks to be an explosion of blinding light... and then the desert seems to calm, although the top layer of sand is now rather distinctively red.

Vel is growling and panting, dismounting from First and crawling away a bit, panting as she struggles to maintain control

Chu'Gris: The old orc pants as he comes to a stop at the foot of the tower, turning and leaning against it to watch the end of the storm, clutching his axe and growling. "What in the name of the Ancestors was THAT?! I thought she was your friend!"

Thrae: "Apparently she decided to go crazy or something." Thrae said, just as confused as the orc was about Ashur's sudden insanity.

Vel: "Hrrg. Hrrrg... Ask... Hrrrg... Gnomre... hrrrg..."

DM62: "I'm afraid she became somewhat unhinged. I suspect that was the work of the Goddess Zestaz." The elderly gnome is sitting on his porch, watching the party, though he's not smoking his pipe, as he usually would be. It is by far the oldest gnome that anyone in the group has ever seen, his eyes deeply recessed in his leathery visage.

Chu'Gris: "It's going to take me another sixty years to make up for this act of cowardice..." the old Orc says as he pants for air, sliding down to sit on the ground and rest his axe on his shoulder. "...And there goes any hope for survival of my race."

Vel: "Hrrrg... Who..."

DM62: "This is why good DMs regret not keeping the party together. They never fully exchange information, or read the logs." The gnome shakes his head.

DM62: "Zeztaz. A Goddess of Knowledge. She eventually decided that she enjoyed deception more than sharing knowledge. She was cast out by the other Goddesses, and cursed to no longer be able to lie. But she specializes in deception, by giving half-truths, and ugly truths, and sharing forbidden knowledge. She's been known to drive mortals insane with nothing but truths."

Chu'Gris: "And this..." the Orc says as he whacks himself on the side of the head with the flat of his axe. "Is why I try to avoid praying to the gods."

Vel: "Mmm... Hrg... haaajh.. okay... okay... am good... Ahem. Where'd she come in?"

Zyanya: "Well, she was something of a forgotten god if memory serves, and if this is any indication, it's for good reason. Her knowledge seems to come at a great and terrible price. I remember Ashur speaking of her to me recently, but she failed to mention the cost. Just the message she gave me early and how she got it from her."

DM62: "Well, Ashur wanted to know about my manipulation. My identity. So she contacted Zestaz, for answers. Figured she could verify the information. Do a little more digging. And the information was, sadly, correct. I started this war, and I created the false prophecy. Or... I suppose I should say that the gnome started the false prophecy, because he died about three hours ago... at Ashur's hands."

Chu'Gris: "Wait...If the Gnome is dead...Then who are you?"

Vel: "Oh. You're a undead. One of the Underfellans?"

DM62: "I am an advanced illusion, programmed by the gnome, using a piece of his soul and personality along with his collected knowledge. He knew that his essence... his very soul would be forfeit upon his death. The Fateweavers have never seen such a confluence of time. For them, this is a catastrophe, an embarrassment. You see... he's come from a future that he has managed to prevent, more or less."

Vel: "Oh. Dear. Lord."

Thrae: "......And what future was that?" Thrae asked, almost worried to hear an answer.

Vel: "Oh no you went there."

DM62: "Forgive me if I switch tenses... my programming is such that I know myself as the gnome and not as the gnome. But in my future, the great Orc Crusade didn't begin for another fifty years. It was lead by Malgra's grandson... and the surface races were even weaker and more decadent. What's more, the orcs had an otherworldly patron... Mondur the Savage, a Nether Beast of incredible strength and berserk rage. The elves and dwarves and humans fell to the onslaught within a week. And life as a slave under that regime was... not a life worth living."

Vel: "Was there ever an elf or was that invented?"

Zyanya: "This...is getting a little too lofty." She sat back and listened to the story. Another crusade led by another of Malgra's name. The people of the surface far weaker as a result and being wiped out in little more then a weak. And all because of the communion with an otherworldy patron. These nether beasts were quite a problem. Especially if they could do this. "So was the prophecy different then? Did you want to prevent that from happening?"

DM62: The gnome gives Vel a smile. "There was no elf in my timeline, no. That prophecy never game true in my timeline. No, I switched places with a well-respected Prophet of that age. I invented the prophecy out of thin air, with a timeline, to force the orcs into a premature war. It also let me manipulate events so that they never fell under Mondur's sway. Their use of the black chew, from those plants in that forest you went to? I taught them that... and it gives them resistance to Mondur's calling. By replacing someone who already existed here, I fooled the powers of Fate... for a time. But then they found a new way to punish me." He sighs.

Vel: "By making your prophecy come true."

DM62: "Yes. I knew it from the moment I laid eyes on Arturus. He was the one destined to bring about the world's great calamity. The prophecy came true."

Vel: "...Thrae. Do you know where they went?"

Zyanya: "So all your work was in fact to prevent the orcs from damning themselves, but in the process created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or at least, I suppose you couldn't anticipate that things would play out the way tey did. Fate seems to be...quite unfair. Almost like they want to watch the world suffer."

Chu'Gris: "So then." the old ORc says as he stands and tightens his grip on his axe. "We were played the fool by a gnome from the future, in order to save us."

DM62: "Fate and Time are... resistant to change. I began to remember things differently, and realized that the future was shifting. I fear that, in preventing Mondur's easy victory over this world, I've drawn the attention of other Nether Beasts. And, of course... poor Ashur. She could never admit it, but she loved Arturus quite dearly. It broke my heart to know that he had to be sacrificed. To know the pain it would cause her."

Chu'Gris: "And what of these nether beasts? Do they think we are so easily swayed?" the old Orc says as he continues to look out towards where the storm of death was just moments ago. "I say nay."

Thrae seemed confused for a minute about Vel's words. Then she seemed to start freaking out as she put potentially two and two together, depending on what Vel meant. Now Phyrarra was off in god knows where and Ashur was supposed to look after her.

Zyanya: "To think our races were meant to be enslaved by one of these nether beasts. That we were to fall so easily. I find it difficult to believe my people would become so lazy and decadent. Such sloth would not have come to pass under my watch. But how many beasts are there? What more could they possibly want with us now?"

DM62: "I... I do not know. The Nether Beasts are powerful, certainly... some of them are already in this Realm, living in secret. But they are visitors here, not truly as powerful as they could be in other Realms. Tell me, though... did Arturus die? I fear much hinged upon his ultimate fate."

Vel: "I suspect he didn't. He was crippled, but Ashur was right there, I doubt he died. Not in a way someone of her power couldn't fix in some manner."

Chu'Gris: "Another problem we face besides the prophecy...What will my people do? Most of our strongest warriors were there when the sage lost her mind."

Vel: "If I were to guess. Hide for a bit, see if she's still on a rampage. If not, rebuild. We've got til whatever happens to be ready for it."

DM62: "I... see." He smiles. "The Fateweavers have found me, I'm afraid. Even now, they are working to destroy me. I doubt you even remember my name, at this point." He looks at the orc. "Stillwater. Malgra had a project at Stillwater. One of her good deeds that will remain unsung. She's created a new breed of orc, that can co-exist with the old. Less violent... with elf blood in their veins. She was a magnificent creature, really. Hated herself for every bloody thing she did. Cried herself to sleep, most nights. But always in private... and then she'd set her jaw and go out there and do bloody things. My fault, really." He sighs.

Chu'Gris: "This sounds like a dream, Gnome." the Orc says as he slides his axe into the sheath on his back. "Tell me this. Does our race die in your prophecies? Or do we remain as strong as ever?"

Zyanya: "Right. The one the cubites were working to protect." Zyanya snapped her finger. "Either way, the orc race will survive and they will be better for it. A small part of me wishes Malgra would live to see it through. Or at least the first generation. Either way, she's left something for this world to remember her."

Chu'Gris: "That she has. And I'll make sure every single one of us remembers her. Anyone who doesn't is getting it pounded into their skulls."

DM62: "The future is what you make of it. Hard to see... harder to craft. But if you are steadfast... if you are true... then the orcs learn that there is a middle ground between conquest and servitude. You learn to stand, without attacking or kneeling." He sighs. "As for Malgra, no. She will be remembered as an evil tyrant and a cruel conqueror. Orcs will spit when they hear her name. Children will learn of her in a cautionary tale. She will be used to frighten toddlers to bed. But she is in the Aether now... celebrated among warriors, in the Great Hall of the Goddesses. And you will see her there, some day, warriors." He looks about. "Take care of my pipe, please. I always loved that thing. Hopefully someone can give it a good home."

Vel watches over and grabs Thrae's Leg. "Stop. Breathe. Then think. Calmly. Panic is the enemy." She looks to the gnome. "I can believe that. I doubt many will know the real her. Hopefully her after life will respect her more for what she did. If such exists I mean. For now, we've all got a job to do. Heh. I think I know someone who'll love it."

Chu'Gris: "And what job is that, Chimaera?"

Zyanya: "History is a cruel thing. I do look forward to that day though, if my goddess will allow it. Not every day a woman such as her comes along. She would have made an excellent Shiriti. Until then, she has time to get ready for our arrival."

Thrae continued to freak out even as Vel tried to get her to stop. At least for a few moments more. Then the smaller woman's words reached through to the drider's mind and she started taking deep breaths, which seemed to help a bit. She tried to search the threads if there was any around her, and to see if she could somehow, find a trail, something that could give her some idea on how the small thrull was doing.

Vel: "Get ready for what comes next, obviously."

Vel: "Your case, well... Hopefully orcish build up and incorporating the new generation eventually."

Chu'Gris: "Indeed. I believe I will head to Stillwater once all is said and done. See what Malgra has left me to tend." he says, stretching and sighing. "And if you ever are in that part of the world, and find yourself in trouble with my kin, just tell them that you know Chu'Gris of the Wailing Blade."

Vel: "Heh, sure thing. Doubt I'm doing much more traveling though. I've got some things to protect. I'm way too old to keep this up for much longer. I'm probably your age or older in equivalence heh. Don't think any curse gonna stop that."

DM62: The gnome nods. "I believe First will be able to help you find your Queen Phyra, young drider. Do not be concerned. Ashur had a few weeks with her in the Rift Lands to teach her, before returning to confront me. It was only when she discovered the death of Arturus tha-" At this point the gnome's eyes open a little wider, and then he is gone. There is a figure standing before the party for a moment, dressed up as some sort of harlequin, wearing a mask. The figure looks about the party for but a moment, then vanishes again with a flourish. Sir Malius curses under his breath.

Chu'Gris: "The devils have whatever just took him from us." the Orc says, scuffing the dirt with his boot. "I doubt you've been on this world for sixty years, Chimaera."

Thrae started to calm down a bit again. Right, the other lands could travel faster or slower along the stream of time. What seemed like only days here was much much more to the thrull.

Vel: "Fifty, but I don't have your lifespan. And I haven't had a very kind or healthy life. Miracle I lasted this long. In any case... Aw man. Well... Guess you're gonna take care of Thrae for me, First."

DM62: "That was... either the Goddess Dicen, or one of her Fateweavers," Sir Malius intones, slightly breathless. "I guess she finally sorted out the gnome. And he was right... can't think of his name. Did he ever tell us his name?"

Chu'Gris: "If you wish, Chimaera, you can travel with me to Stillwater. I'm thinking my kind need to change their attitudes towards non-orcs."

Vel: "Mmm, I remember never actually knowing his name to begin with. Heh. I appreciate that, Chu' Gris. Maybe I'll consider it if this doesn't work, but I've people to keep an eye on. I can be a good guardian for a few more years at least."

Chu'Gris: "Well, just remember my name has a lot of weight amongst my kind. Heh, after this, it might not. The only survivor of a terrible storm of death and destruction against his kind. They will call me a coward for hiding from it."

DM62: Braxis snorts. "So tell them a different story. How you single-handedly wrestled that storm down."

Vel: "Tell them you're not a fool and if you died too, they'd never hear about the others honor. Someone has to know their stories."

Chu'Gris: "Perhaps that will be how history remembers me. But, if what the Gnome said is true, fate wants to happen, and there is no escaping it."

DM62: "That's not... how I understood it." Sir Fiske looks thoughtful. "After all, he DID change fate. Not as much as he would have liked, but... we're not doomed to be slaves to Mondur anymore."

Chu'Gris: "This is true...Perhaps fate is not so clear and uniform as scholars would make us believe.

Vel: "Well. in the immediate future. Who knows what will happen now. Hence why we better spend our time wisely and be ready for when this prophecy fully takes."

Chu'Gris: "Indeed. I will make sure my people grow strong enough to fight whatever may come our way. I wish you the best of luck with your own endeavors, short as our time together was."

((end of session and story arc))