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Prophecy I
Unless darkness ride to the ocean tide
The serpent’s teeth to blunt.
From the setting sun return one by one
Lost riders to the hunt

Gutteral calls through the seven halls
Awaken the Weeping Mound
Though reclaimed faith come soon or late
Font's Daughter again be found
Session: Broken Seal - Sunday, Jul 19 2015 from 3:00 AM to 11:00 AM
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Tags: history , Prophecy
Epic!
The Beginning: Retribution
“Aye, we’re ‘ome safe ‘n sure now. You go ‘ave a sit, I’ll be ‘avin’ a chat with Master Roodle so’s this nae be ‘appenin’ again.” Hokur had shoved Sottovelo’s kitchen entrance door open with his foot as he had one arm around Ismay’s shoulders and her basket of market purchases under the other. The maid was shaking now, her face pale under her freckles, as the shock of what she had just escaped set in. Hokur slid the basket onto the counter with his hip and sat the girl down on a stool before turning to Maeve where she was seated at the table. “I’d be supposin’ that since yer down ‘ere, the master is up and about?”

“In the office with Dido,” Maeve stated simply around a nibble of scone. She recognized the ill-omened look clouding the mercenary’s face and thought it best not to get in his way. Yet.

“What’s happened then?” Morna demanded, turning from the stove with the ever-present spoon still in her hand even as she placed both fists on her hips to glare at the man.

“Some foolishment that’d best nae be trouble again.” Hokur said as he left to find the master of the house.

**

Hokur knocked once on the office door, waiting for a reply before entering. It was never a good idea to barge in on a wizard, particularly one who could vaporize demonic glass beasts. He found Namen sitting across from Dido over the central desk she used for most of the business of Sottovello. “You’re up early, Hokur. I thought you were heading to the Street of Doves after last night? Didn’t expect to see you until mid-day at the earliest.”

“Aye, been there most of the night. I was stumblin’ t’ me own bed when I came across some mischief ye best be knowin’ ‘bout. You be needin’ a proper footman about th’ place.” Hokur moved to the sideboard and poured a cup of tea, taking an experimental sip, “Och, this is that Rider Red?” he made a face indicating he was not at all impressed with the brew, regardless of its exclusivity.

“There’s a bottle of Flumenti uncorked if you prefer, or the dwarven brandy.” Namen gestured with a negligent wave of his hand before settling back to regard his Captain. “Why do I need a footman?”

Hokur poured a finger of brandy into a glass and shot it back before continuing. “Ah, this’s something right fine ‘ere!” the Aral said as he raised the empty glass. “As I was sayin’, I was stumblin’ t’ me own bed when I ‘appens to come through the farmer’s market. So’s I was standin’ there, figurin’ out if I wanted t’ try some o’ th’ apple fritters or just grab a biscuit from th’ kitchen at Libromazzarco, whens I sees a red’ead goin’ about ‘er business what looked familiar. Right enough, it was our Ismay. I also sees a bunch o’ jack-napes sniffin’ ‘round ‘er skirts. O’ course, she was ‘avin’ none o’ that, shooin’ ‘em away and such.”

The big Aral whipped a chair around one-handed and sat astraddle to face Namen and Dido before continuing his tale. “Ah’n that’s when th’ mischief begin. Seems right apparent-like they were nae takin’ th’ ‘int that she was nae interested, an’ th’ lot of ‘em were set t’ force th’ issue. Now as I’m standin’ there – havin’ decidin’ on th’ fritter – those young pups set t’ ‘arryin’ yer maid there until she got maneuvered out of th’ ‘erd, so’s t’ say. Well, I was ‘avin’ none o’ that, not fer one o’ our own. Just as I’s startin’ t’ cross the square, they pounced an’ got her tucked in t’ an alley.”

The big Aral scratched his chin, “Now I’m nae sorry t’ say I mighta knocked a few people t’ground gettin’ there, so’s ye may be havin’ to make nice wit’ ‘em but I had t’ get a double move-on,” he explained. “An’ quick as I can, I’m ducking in t’ th’ alley, fritter in one hand an’ th’ other restin’ on th’ Dodger t’ see these five cocksures have lil’ Ismay pinned up aginn’ th’ wall a ways down th’ alley. Silent as th’ grave she was... but screamin’ won’t help when there’s five sets o’ hands t’ quiet yer mouth.”

Namen’s lips had tightened into a grim line and his brows drew down as Hokur related the tale. “And?” he said stiffly.

Hokur shrugged, “Och, th’ lass is fine now, down in th’ kitchen wit’ ‘er ma an’ Maeve. Alls I ‘ad t’ do was step up an’ inform th’ scuttleworms that their … assistance… was nae required. Theys took that hint fair quick once a few elbows got me sidled up next t’ Ismay. But I did ‘ear something about one red’eaded Aral bein’ as good as another as I was comin’ up on ‘em.” He pulled down is long moustaches. “Come t’ think on’t, there were a few red-dyed whores down yonder as well. So’s as I see it, you need a proper footman t’ make sure some such mischief nae be ‘appenin’ again.”

“I see.” Namen rose and moved to pour himself a glass of the Flumenti. “Ismay is unhurt and …intact, you said?”

“Aye. Mebbe a wee shook up but th’ jack-a-napes had lil’ chance t’ do ‘er any ‘arm afore I stepped in.”

“Good. And you could pick these fellows out if you saw them again?” Namen asked before raising the glass to his lips.

“Aye, I suppose I could at that.” Hokur raised one bushy eyebrow at the wizard. “Yer plannin’ on somethin’ I can tell. Ya got th’ same look Arcelli gets when ‘e comes ‘cross ‘ob tracks.” Hokur tilted his head, “Come on now, it were mischief, right ‘n true, but th–”

Namen cut him off before he could finish, “I’m planning a lesson, an abject lesson, in manners.” The shorthairs on the mercenary’s neck stirred as his employer spoke. “One should always teach the ill-mannered the error of their actions, and the sooner the better or it won’t stick, just like beating a dog the day after it pisses on the floor doesn’t work. They’ve forgotten that this wizard is to be feared,” he glowered. Namen paused and drew a long, calming breath. “But you are correct, Sottovelo does need a footman. I’ve been meaning to add one to the household but hadn’t yet gotten around to it. This just illustrates the need to make it more of a priority. Besides,” he glanced at Dido, “if Maeve is to be a proper Salpian wife, she’ll need to be escorted by a footman now.”

“Oh, getting that girl… young woman, to have some man trailing along with her whenever she goes out, that will be a fruitful conversation.” Dido murmured.

“Ha! Yes, but she’ll see the reason for it I’m sure.” Namen cocked his head to one side. “Perhaps if we got one of her brothers… Regardless, that conversation will happen soon enough.” He turned to the still-seated Aral. “My thanks to you for saving Ismay from those fools. Now, off to Libromazzarco with you, get some rest, and I’ll see you tonight. We’ll go hunting,” he finished with a predatory gleam in his eye.

Hokur nodded, “Aye then.” He stood and put the chair back in its rightful place. “The Dodger likes the dark.”
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Tags: Dark , fools , Plans , The Dodger
Epic!
Captain (Part I)
The hobgoblin’s captain surveyed the scene before him.

Two lines of spike filled pits had been carefully excavated in a V-formation. The lines stretched over fifty feet long and were ten feet across, the pits divided by narrow walkways of reinforced earth every 10 feet or so, with small stakes above ground marking the passageways. The pit sections were lined with sharpened wooden stakes that rose to just the lip of the pits. Woven reed mats lay across the top, blending into the surrounding ground and concealing them from sight. Part of the top sod that had been stacked aside during the digging had been placed carefully on top to further create the illusion of solid ground.

The removed earth had been raised into a central mound several yards back from the center of the formation. Canvas dyed to match grasses covered the mound, staked down securely to deny the ever fickle wind an opportunity to betray the deception. The remaining top sod was being placed over the canvas-shrouded mound, intact grasses waving in the breeze. Outside the formation of pits, shallow bunkers had been excavated as well, and the mounded banks of soil were draped in more grass-stained canvas and sod, creating low turf-walled tents.
“This had better work, Captain. An awful lot of labor being done by warriors,” one of his sergeants growled from beside him.

The Captain looked down at him, one eyebrow raising. “Your lack of understanding is noted, Kregnik. It will work as planned. And when it does, you will carry my share. Perhaps someday you will learn strategy.” He turned back to the nearly completed ambush. “For now, fetch me Jongar and Gierka.”

“Sir.” Kregnik straightened, thumped his chest in salute and ran to find the lieutenants.

**

“You understand the plan, Jongar?” the Captain asked as the false dawn began to light up the eastern sky.

“Yes sir. I will take the reserves and wait in the hills.” The young hobgoblin paused and looked eastward. “I should leave now if we are to be off the plain by full light.”

“Go.”

“Honor to you, Captain” Jongar said as he saluted and turned to leave to gather his troops.

The Captain watched the activity for a moment before addressing his remaining officer. “Gierka, get your troops in the tents and the scouts deployed. We leave at dark. A full night’s hard march lay ahead of us if we’re to strike the target as planned.“

Gierka thumped his chest solidly in salute and spun sharply to stomp off into the dim light of pre-dawn. The Captain’s ears barely picked up the muttered ‘Finally’ that Gierka uttered on his exit. That explains Kregnik, he thought, Pity. Gierka’s been loyal but he’s never understood tactical advantage. He will have to fall in the skirmish, now or soon. I will not have my command questioned. Fortunately, he won’t question leading a suicide charge. He crossed his arms and contemplated his subordinate’s future fall.

**

The Captain slid on his belly next to the scout at the edge of the copse of trees the hobgoblins had stopped in. It sat on a small hill overlooking the small farming complex several hundred yards away that was the target of their raid. They had been on a dead run for most of the previous night, going past the outlying farms and getting behind the outpost of the Masili horsemen. It had taken all of the dark to reach this position, and his troops had collapsed after setting the camouflaged tent in place. Tonight would be an even harder run after the raid, carrying spoils and slaves, and with the horsemen in hard pursuit most likely. That was all part of the plan, and the twenty hobgoblin warriors under the tent knew their parts, if not the details. The Captain had specifics in mind to maximize his window of opportunity.

The complex had three buildings, two habitations and a storage barn, along with the typical small outbuildings. The three dogs had not found the hobgoblins yet. A few horses, chickens and a cow were next to the barn structure. From his view, the Captain could see figures walking about in the fading light.

“Any sign they are aware of us?” he asked the scout. The hobgoblin had tufts of grass woven into his cloak, and the cloak was weighted to not move in the breeze.

“None, Captain.”

“Good. Same recon information?” the Captain began reaching into his belt pouch.

“Same as when we surveyed it. Three adult males, four adult females, four young of indeterminate gender. One adult male and one adult female are white-haired but move well enough. Three dogs are fat and lazy and stay near house unless one of the humans is about.” He paused briefly before adding, “No horsemen have come through this day.”

The Captain paused a moment in pulling out the spyglass. It was a relic, scavenged by his forbearers long ago, and part of his symbols of rank. He quirked an eye at the scout’s form. Another one questions this mission. Perhaps Gierka will need to die sooner than expected. Pushing aside thoughts of attrition he raised the glass to his eye, shielding the lens from the light by habit even with the setting sun behind him. The figures jumped into view and he was able to make out details he had not been able to with the naked eye. The white haired human male was walking between the buildings. Although old for a human, he was definitely still a threat. He scanned the rest of the complex, noting details and refining the plan for this evening’s raid.

**
The attack had gone smoothly. Moving in after dark, the hobgoblins had dispatched the dogs quickly with only a few barks and a yelping whine. Waiting for the inquisitive Masili to open the door to investigate, he held his troops back until both doors had been opened. Arrows from the dark took the two younger adult males out immediately and the hobgoblins swarmed inside. The dropped lanterns were extinguished before the flames could catch. One of the females had to be killed in the struggle as she fought the raiders. The old humans were killed as well – the old never make good slaves – and the old man had fought well, cutting down Koret before being overwhelmed. That was his only casualty, although several sported minor cuts or scrapes from the assault.

The remaining humans were trussed and bound, gagged to prevent noise and blindfolded as well. The hobgoblins went to work gathering food stuffs and other spoils. The Captain checked the night sky. Time was still on his side, but they would have to move soon. He went to inspect the captives as the troop bundled the spoils and began to gear up for the march out. The two adult females would be satisfactory, young enough to have several seasons of use. The four young humans though…the smallest one would barely stand as tall as his waist. He considered briefly, then slipped his dagger out from its sheath, pulled the human upright and slit its throat. “Too small for slave,” He grunted as blood sprayed outward. He let the body go slack before flinging it away from him.

He turned to find Gierka waiting, a bundle over his shoulder. The hobgoblin eyed the corpse, “Wondered about that one.” He brought his eyes back to the Captain’s face. “Bundles are fixed, troops are loaded. Scouts have brought in the tent, we’re ready to move. On your order?”

The Captain stood a moment, until he saw Gierka’s eyes flick almost imperceptibly to the dripping dagger still in his hand. Slowly he wiped it clean on his wrist before sheathing it again. “Form up for march, four abreast. Leave a trail. We want to make sure they follow us. I’ll set the final piece.” Gierka nodded and turned to bark orders at the rest of the hobgoblins.

The Captain looked once more at the sky and went inside one of the houses. Finding a sheet, he slit a hole in it. He pulled a cloth wrapped bundle from his pouch. Unwrapping it revealed a candle, marked in increments. He trimmed off some and fixed it in a holder, pushing the candle through the slit he had made. He set the candle and sheet on the table. The candle would burn at a specific rate, so he knew when it would reach the cloth. He soaked the sheet with oil from the extinguished lantern before lighting the candle. Making sure it caught well and there were no errant breezes, he left the structure, closing the door behind him. One of his troopers, a young soldier called Grutichik, was waiting at the door.

Nodding with a grin, he chuckled, “Neat that, Captain. Delayed burn. Give us some running time before getting their attention.” He shifted his pack and saluted.

“Good that you understand. This is all a draw tactic. The real operation is back at the pits. Now move, soldier, unless you want to face the horsemen in the open.” Stepping out, he saw the troops standing with packs and slaves on their backs. The horse was loaded as well, chickens tied by their feet around bulging panniers of grain sacks. “Move out” he barked as he broke into a mile eating trot.
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Tags: ambush , hobs , Masili
Epic × 2!
Says me
Now, ye may ‘ave noticed a right hint o’ similarities ‘twixt th’ Stunties’ accent an’ me own Aral flavored tongue wanderin’s. Which, iffen a feller were t’ think twice ‘bout they’d come t’ realize tha’ Aral an’ th’ Mountain nae be close an’ neighborly inna geographical way. ‘Cor, th’ don’ mean nuthin’ ‘tall. S’more important is wot lies in th’ twain – Salpia. Sees, it’s th’ Salp way o’ speakin’s an’ word wranglin’ tha’ lends is’elf t’ how th’ dwarf an’ Aral mangle it bu’ good.

‘Ere nows, shuts yer pie-trap fer a moment afore ye go all indignant-like. Hows many Salps yew know tha’ speak th’ Araldite language? Eh? Och, nae near as many as th’ Aral’s tha’ go an’ butcher th’ Salpian, I tells ya truth. An’ those Salps tha’ do, well none o’ ‘em speak like a native son or daughter. Ye’ve got jus’ as much ‘n accent in me ears as I do in yers. Now shuts it an’ lemme finish.

So’s th’ sameness o’ mangles is due t’ lack o’ proper poetics in th’ translated tongue. I nae be sayin’ ye cannae be poetic, or don’ wax on an’ on ‘bout flowers inna field, or th’ way th’ moon shines inna window. Nae, I be meaning tha’ Salps don’ sing their words. They put words t’ song, sure right ‘nough. But ‘is all stumbles an’ bolly-cocks, where th’ meanin’s th’ thing, so’s it be nae a wonder tha’ those o’ us wit’ a more naturally lyrical essence o’ tonal qualities in our speech do be a mite bit hard t’ un’erstand ‘round those tha’ don’.
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Tags: Aral , Dwarves , words
In my blue world...
It should be obvious plain that we nae ended up like the aforementioned hobs as we’re sittin’ here partakin’ of this fine mead an’ meal an’ nae festerin’ in a pile of gargoyle dung… unless they shite pebbles or rocks or somesuch… ye’d have t’ask Arcelli as he’s the undisputed regional expert on the scatological habits of the fauna of both sides of the Rhenia Majors. Tablein’ that discussion t’a time when we’re nae eatin’, however, I’ll continue.

So given that we was forewarned by Raylen’s somewhat vague though still helpful words of warnin’ from Neguma we was vigilant for signs of ambush an’ fair confident that, as workin’ fer a wizard has its perks in the magical armaments department, we should be on a might better footin’ than the ill-fated hobs of the mighty Gashronk tribe. Spring weather in Salpia bein’ what it is, we was enjoyin’ a second day of cold rain as we entered the western pass – Salp luck bein’ what it is there was fog hangin’ less than a stone’s throw over our heads as the pass narrowed down makin’ keepin’ an eye skyward more than a bit of a pain in the arse.

Funny thing ‘bout the inevitable, even if a body is prepared fer it, it can still surprise ye. So ‘twas when a hunk of stone the size of a ox cart come barrelin’ out of the fog above ‘tis safe t’say that one or more of us might have let out a coarse word or three.

So providin’ ye can imagine a oxcart with a wingspan every bit of seven paces across an’ what stands twice the height of Hokur here ye’d have a fair guess as t’what landed right spank in front of Arcelli – which is t’say betwixt Signore Caccitore an’ the rest of us – an’ took a swipe with them great talons what glimmered an’ shone like glass in a temple window.

Now Hokur is havin’ none o’ that so’s he barges right up an’ commences t’tradin’ blows with the beastie allowin’ Arcelli t’get back a bit so’s he can feather it proper without havin’ his head swiped clean off. Raylen’s castin’ as fast as he can pray an’ I’m doin’ likewise, only without the prayin’ part an’ with a fair deal more noise as bards is wont t’do. The beastie, fer its part, was clawin’, an’ bitin’, an’ tossin’ its head an’ dealin’ a powerful drubbin’ t’our doughty McMercson but our openin’ salvo must have hit it fair hard as it was nae able t’take t’wing which would have been worse than it standin’ there tradin’ blows in a tactical sense so’s there was that, but unless one of us other three did somethin’ drastic an’ quick we was gonna be deprived a swordsman in short order and permanent.

So it was that Raylen, havin’ throwed as much of Neguma’s enlightenment the critter’s way as he could t’good use – I swear it looked like the beastie was a lode stone and Arcelli’s arrows were iron filin’s the way they snapped to its hide – sees that Hokur is comin’ up in a bad way so the daft bastard gallops Clod, sorry – gallops Niko right up t’the beastie an’ executes the most amazin’ display of horsemanship I’d seen from him t’date – mind ye, this is the self-same feller what crowned himself king of the door lintels nae more than a fortnight prior. But truth be told, our dear priest managed somehow t’dismount, draw his weapon, an’ whack the beastie in one fell swoop that right rang the critter’s bell but good, an’ more important, took its immediate attention off of Hokur.

Recognizin’ a boon when he seen one, Hokur jumps back t’where I can smack him with a curative chorale that went at least some way t’ward gettin’ him back in the fight afore Raylen got himself squashed. O’course, the beastie was havin’ less luck than a bum in a bordello tryin’ t’hit Raylen so’s Hokur was able t’take the time t’angle in where there was the greatest tactical advantage.

Regardless of bein’ made of stone come t’life an’ big as the aforementioned oxcart, the beastie stood no chance with the three fellers’ concentrated cussedness assisted by what little I could toss in on the side. I nae know who got in the last blow but when the critter passed from this mortal coil it did so in a shower of rubble the likes of which you’ll nae witness unless yer there when lightnin’ hits yer auntie’s out house!
Session: Happy Anniversary, Bizachez! - Sunday, Jun 23 2013 from 2:00 AM to 12:00 PM
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Tags: ambush , Battle
Epic × 2!
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