Balance

Bendu 3

11th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 5:15pm, Bendu Island.

Please Listen While Reading

They had been carried most the day, tied hand and foot to long poles and hefted by the impossibly strong iods. Every half hour or so they would each be passed off to two different iods who would carry on for their companions, and so their pace was steady. With hands tied and mouths gagged it left a lot of time for contemplation. Thaden often closed his eyes trying to mediate, trying to see if the answers to his questions had already been presented to him. It wasn’t easy; the poison still coursed through his veins, dulling his wits and impeding his ability to think clearly. Who was Master Typhon? What was this island where the weave was so overwhelmingly strong? What was the magic that had shrunk Aury? What had happened in the temple? What was the cube he had and what did it mean? What were those lobstrosities? Or these Iods? Why had no one ever marked this place as a Littles haven? The deeper he tried to go the more questions came rolling at him, like a squire of the Guard his thoughts spiraled out of control with no real restraint, and thus the answers continued to elude him.

At long last they arrived in what appeared to be a great Iod city. Adobe towers and buildings stretched out of the ground as thousands of Iods, each wearing colourful textiles ran back and forth. They were marched through markets, the architecture was like nothing he’d ever seen, but most impressively, the city was not walled, these iods feared nothing on this island. Towards the centre of the city stood a great blocky pyramid, not dissimilar to the one in the centre of the island, though perhaps one third its size. At the base was a series a cages, wooden with bronzed bars, the floors had a light layer of straw and the smell implied the defecation of previous occupants. Aury was cut free first; six hours with no blood to her hands or feet caused her appendages to fail her, and though he could feel her try to disarm her attackers, her hands did not respond. Thaden winced in shared pain as he watched he trusty friend and mount beaten with the club like ends of their spears before she was thrown into her cage. The door was quickly locked as Aury coughed and sputtered blood which ran freely from her nose and a cut above her eye. Thaden was cut free next; he knew now was not the time, he couldn’t even summon his sword to him with the weave, let alone counter what the restriction of blood had done to him. He fell to ground when cut free, and even without attempting to struggle received a beating equal to Aurelia’s. He lay on his side breathing heavy, his left eye began to swell shut, he willed with all his might to stay conscious… but that was not what the weave intended for him and all went black.

Sometime later

Thaden groggily opened his eyes, his head swam and he thought he might vomit. He focused on his breathing and tried to force the world to stop spinning for him, slowly things righted and he was able to sit up.

“Are you ok?” Aury whispered from her cage adjacent to him. He couldn’t nod, it would cause him to vomit. The sun had set while he’d slept, the pyramid glowed with eerie light of hundreds of torches, whilst the top blazed with a four fires of green. The rest of the city was far from quiet, with great drums thrumming, and iods dressed with capes made of tiny feathers of blue, red, yellow and green. Their wore helms that looked beak like and gave them an odd alien bird like appearance. The iods danced and clicked and sang

“Kuja kujiunga na mauaji
Kuja kuruka na nyeusi
Tutakupa uhuru
Kutoka mtego wa kibinadamu
Kuja kujiunga na mauaji
Panda juu ya mabawa yangu
Utagusa mkono wa Bogna
Naye atakufanya kuwa mfalme
Naye atakufanya kuwa mfalme”

“Sounds ominous” Thaden managed to murmur

“It’s been going for some time, they have not brought food, but did bring a dipper of water about an hour or so… I had no way to hold it or I would have saved it for you” Aury offered. He offered a smile showing he held no grudge. His eyes slowly adjusted to the crackling firelight. Thaden took stock of himself… he was not in good shape, under his brown fur he could see large black streaks running along his veins; he needed a cure for this poisen soon, or he would not be with this world long. His paws all ached and he was sure he had a mild concussion, but nothing else seemed broken too badly.

“Do you know what our fate is to be?” He asked Aury

“It’s not good… these cages go all the way to the base of the pyramid, and every so often we seemed to get pushed forward and an empty cage is moved to the back… I have seen no captives pass us though.

“Dare mo” came a deep voice from several cages beyond Aury

“Oh, we have a friends down there, a large pig like fellow, but he doesn’t speak mammalian, or common or elven” Aury offered. Thadden smiled… that is because he is Inoshishi, and speaking Inoshin

“Kon’nichiwa, watashinonamaeha Thadendsan. Watashi wa Gādomausudesu” Thaden said, projecting his voice down the line a little.

“Aisatsu Thaden. Watashinonamaeha Okamurasan” the heavy voice responded

“What did he say?” Aury asked

“He said his name is Okamura” Thaden responded

“Does he know where we are? Or what’s happened?” Aury asked

“Watashi no yūjin; koko wa doko? Karera wa horyo to nani o shite imasu ka?” Thaden asked quickly

“Watashitachiha Itocoztli ichi ni ari, karera wa saigo no 3-paku no tame ni karera no kurai kamigami ni ikimono o gisei ni shite imasu… Sore no gaiken de, watashitachiha gisei ni sa rerubekidesu.” The voice responded quickly, adding a question to the end of his response “Watashitachi no Gādomausu o kaihō suru koto wa dekimasu ka?” Thaden took a few moments to put together a response

“Watashi wa kōkina yūjin o tameshite mimashou, watashi wa shibaraku kangaete mimashou”

“Ahem” Aury cleared her throat after the back and forth went quiet. Thaden looked up at her questioningly. He stared at him all the harder “What did he say?” the Guard Mouse had a look of realization cross his face

“My apologies Aury. We are in the city of Itocoztli… the occupants are in the throes of some kind of religious ceremony, and we are slated to be sacrificed to whomever it is they worship”

“That’s not good” Aury said

“no… no it’s not” Thaden agreed… they had his sword, and most of his things, as with Aury’s guns and weapons… he needed more rest, without the weave he could not consider getting out of here.

“Kuna ndege mweusi iliyopigwa nje ya dirisha langu
Ninamsikia aita
Nisikia akiimba
Ananiketeza kwa macho yake ya dhahabu kwa kuunganisha
Anaona dhambi zangu zote
Anaisoma nafsi yangu
Siku moja ndege hiyo, alinena nami
Kama Typhon
Kama Typhon”

The singing and drums continued and a chill raced down Thaden’s spine.

“Aury… have you been listening to their songs?” he asked, his voice stunted

“it’s all they’ve been singing for hours… why?” she responded

“What did they say at the end of last verse?” He asked… he was almost shaking now. He stared intently at Aury as she screwed up her face in consentration.

“ummm… Kama Typhone, Kame Typhone?” she said making it a little more like a question then a sure answer. Thaden reached out and leaned on the side of his cage. He breath came in quick little gasps. “Thaden? Thaden are you ok?” Aury asked, he voice filled with concern

“Typhon…” he whispered “…they are talking about Typhon… Master Guard Mouse Typhon” Aury looked at him hard

“It’s ok, Thaden, if they are singing about the Guard, isn’t that good?” the Guard Mouse fixed his mount with a look of equal parts jealousy and pity

“Why would they sing of the Guard while sacrificing creatures? Either they hate the Guard… though the notes of the song don’t seem to denote that… or…”

“They are sacrificing to a Guard Mouse… one from the Taking side of the Weave” as she said the words she knew them to be true

“Bogna” Thaden said in agreement “we are in a lot more trouble than I thought Aury”

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Bendu 2

11th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 10:55am, Bendu Island.

BANG

BANG BANG BANG

BANG BANG

“They keep coming” Aurellia called as she dropped her revolver for Edwardo and pulled her pistol and rapier… the lobtrosties continued to roll in with the waves asking their sinister questions

“DIDA CHUM? DUDA CHICK?” hunger and malice in their eyes, death in their claws.

“There numbers do appear endless” Thaden replied springing back as he swung his sword through the brain stock of another crab creature. Aurellia had been out of magical healing, but had a couple potions left, she’d had just enough time to feed Thaden one before more of the creatures scrambled out of the surf. The little Waylen appeared to be keeping it together, but his mind was still foggy and he seemed to have trouble sculpting the weave, a by-product of the poison still coursing through his veins she was sure.

BANG

The pistol shot the creature at point blank range blasting its shell into an odd orange confetti, several of the monsters stopped to feast on the now raining scraps; it bought Aurelia enough time to sheath her weapons and retake her now fuller loaded revolver.

“I don’t have endless bullets, what is our plan?” She called to the Guard Mouse, who expertly ran between the legs of a crab monster cutting the creature in twine as he went.

“They don’t appear to like leaving the beach… I say we withdraw further into the jungle and return when the sun is hotter, perhaps they will be gone then” Aurelia nodded to the logic. She fired four quick shots, killing the four closest creatures before turning and scooping up Thaden. She pushed through the brush and staggered off at a jog. They made it perhaps twenty feet past the treeline when a wave of vertigo hit Aurellia.

“Are you alright Aury? Be wary, much of the island is poison” Thaden asked sensing her discomfort.

“No… I’m ok” she said “probably just tired, it had been a long night, and then a long battle, then with the crab creatures… let’s find some shade and maybe some water” she suggested. It was true, the vertigo had passed quickly and more than anything she was feeling drained. The Guard Mouse nodded to her assessment and the two headed another thirty or so feet into the jungle, quickly finding a game trail and following it away from the beach, they had not traveled far when the vertigo struck her again. She paused and leaned against a tree panting as the wave settled. Thaden looked at her in concern and hopped down, then her turned and gasped.

“Aury!” his voice was filled with astonishment and concern. She looked to wave him off, the vertigo had passed

“Really I’m fine I’m…” he cut her off

“SHORT!” he said she looked down, and then quickly around for a point of comparison… it was true, she had dropped almost two feet in height, that was probably why she kept having waves of vertigo.

“What’s happened to me?” she asked, a note of fear in her voice. Thaden looked her up and down hard… he tried to call upon the weave but it would not come.

“We need to rest, and figure out what is wrong, but we can’t stay here… we are too exposed to zeymaya attack, and I don’t want to head back to the beach and fight the crab monsters if you are shrinking. Our original plan stays the same… we find a spot where we can rest and drink water, then we figure out what’s wrong.” The two agreed on the plan and continued down the path heading deeper into the jungle… the waves of vertigo would strike every thirty or forty feet, until Aurelia was about the same size as Thaden. From here though it appeared the shrinking had come to a halt.

“I don’t seem to be shrinking anymore, but I feel so tiny” she said looking around at the gigantic trees and ferns that loomed overhead. Anything could be hiding behind everything, the entire world was poised to pounce on her. This had taken some getting used to as Aury Cat, but now she was even smaller…. Would she ever stop form changing?

“indeed…” Thaden said as they reached a small pool, it had a smooth stony bank, and a little creek where white water bubbled in before the water dropped off about four feet to continue its journey onward. “I have a theory… but we should get a drink and perhaps rest before we try it” Aurelia nodded to this and withdrew her tiny revolver. Thaden drew his sword and the two carefully approached the edge of the pool. The jungle canopy and the algae in the pool cause the water to take on a brownish green look… anything could be hiding below the surface. The Guard Mouse moved until he was about a foot from the water edge, from here he crouched and stared at the water for a long time, watching its movements, watching how it circulated, watching for anything out of the ordinary. As a young mouse of the Guard it had been taught to constantly check all his quarters, and so often looked back, left, right and most importantly… up. After a long wait he at last decided it was safe enough. He sheathed his sword and took out his water skin, walking to the edge and submerging it in the little pool. He turned back to Aurelia “Unhook you skin, I will fill it t….”

GLUMP

“THADEN!” Aurelia screamed firing off a quick three shots. BING BING BING the tiny pellets spewed from her little gun. As the largest fish she’d ever seen, one with tentacles and whiskers on its face sprung from the pool and swallowed her friend. The behemoth flopped as it tried to get its bulk off the shore and back into the water. Aurelia didn’t wait. BING BING BING, she fired her final three shots tossing aside the revolver. TINK the pistol tolled as she squeezed off the round and continued stalking forward. SHINK she pulled tiny rapier out. She was disheartened to see that although her aim was as true as ever, her bullets now barley knocked a singled scale from the mighty fish. It flopped and rolled again, almost back into the safety of the pond. Its tentacles grasping and pulling it back in. “THADEN!” she called again, running up the creatures side and thrusting her sword into a thick scale… if she hurt the fish she saw no sign of it.

FLUMP

The fish at last rolled into the water, she slashed and thrust four more times as it was in the shallows, she would not give up on her friend

“THAD….” Her words were cut off as a tentacle snaked from the water and pulled her in. she cut at it madly, but was in the murky brown water and spiraling over before she could tell what way was up. She felt a whisker hit her leg and immediately felt as if her leg was on fire… it took everything she had not to scream, as she would use the last of her breath. She slashed hard with the rapier, cutting away the offending whisker and cut again at the tentacle. She was running out of air, she thought she was going to

SPLASH

The creature flopped over the little falls heading into the deeper pool below… she didn’t question it taking the opportunity for a deep breath before disappearing into the inky black water. She felt soggy plants brush past her and her ears popped as they continued to go down… she would die, die to a giant fish… correction, she would die to an average sized fish, cause she was so tiny… she stopped the train of thought as the idea slammed into her like an ogre fist. She closed her eyes and shifted. A cats grin crossed her face as her idea was true… she GREW into the form of Aury cat. In surprise the tentacle let go. But she was having none of that. Four sets of claws extended and she swiped grabbing hold of the fish and ripping away at its scales. The fish thrashed and attempted to dislodge her, slamming against rocks and muck at the bottom of this tarn, she raked with her bake claws, lungs screaming for air, and ripped into the side of the creature. Scales flaked off as ickor flowed from the creature. She raked again and then saw the point of a tiny blue blade, desperately trying to carve a way out from the inside. Hope ignited as she slashed with all her might, at last killing the creature… she needed air so badly, but was unwilling to leave her friend. She dug into the side of the fish opening up as the blue blade grew larger cutting its way out. At last she saw the ghostly image of Thaden, squeeze through the little hole… illuminated only by the blue blade created a haunting image as he floated over the dead fish surrounded by mossy seaweeds. The two shared a thought and swam towards the surface… Aury doubted she would make it, her lungs were burning her head chest felt like it might explode….

SPLOSH

The two rocketed to the surface, massive gasps of sputtering and splashing as they attempted to suck in as much oxygen as their little mouths would let them. The held each other and swam for the shore crawling a good ways up onto it before at last just lying in the muck shuddering as they greedily gulped in breath after victorious breath. Aury had shifted as she hit the shore… some cat part of the brain had not desire to be wet in that form and so she was her again and lying beside Thaden, coughing but also laughing and maybe crying at what had just happened. She looked over and saw Thaden was doing the same. The tears slowed and the laughter continued, there was a wild high that ran through them at what had just happened.

“Once again Aury Cat, you have my thanks” Thaden said when he could at least speak again, he moved to sit up, still winded but wanting to get out of the slime

“It’s nothing more than you’d have done for…” she stopped, she felt a point at her back, she saw Thaden stiffen as well… behind them, stepping from the bushes, from behind rocks and from around fallen trees came no less then sixty creatures… they were each perhaps half of Thaden’s height… the appeared to be some kind of Praying Mantis people, each one a slightly different colour ranging from brown to grey to light green. “IOD’s” Thaden said putting his hands up as the two behind him poked him with wooden spears. Aurelia followed suit, son finding their were about six behind her

“Asante kwa makosa katika nchi takatifu ya Bendu! Malkia ataamua hatima yako!” one of the creatures yelled as the others pointed their spears to the sky and yelled some kind of primal cry

“What are they saying?” Aurellia asked leaning towards Thaden

“No idea” he said as he allowed his sword to be taken and his hands to be bound. Aurellia looked at him incredulously

“You don’t speak… IOD?” she asked

“You Do?” he asked back, she shrugged sheepishly as her hands were bound as well.

To Be Continued

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Bendu

9th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 9:14am, Theringrad Island Chain, 57 nautical miles east east south of Honactice.

The Champions Fist had pulled into this island chain yesterday, a string of about four decent sized islands and seven smaller ones. The locals here were friendly enough and it wasn’t hard for the crew to find a little cove to hole up for another two days before they had to head back to the mainland to meet up with their Captain. When they had passed the southernmost island, maybe half a mile in diameter Thaden had felt something, some strange disturbance in the Weave. Once the ship had dropped anchor two islands over, a larger one with a better beach that Teagan and frequented a few times, it had not been hard to convince the Mate to have a couple sailors row him back to the island to investigate.

Bidding his thanks to his large companions, they agreed to come pick him up in two days before they departed, unless he sent message somehow prior. With that Thadan was left alone on the beach of this strange island. He knelt and his left paw touched the sand, he could feel the weave pulsating through this place, Ahsla and Bogan, opposing factions of the weave rising and falling like the tide. Master Ben-Jie had spoken of this phenomenon once before, those who could wield and control both side of the weave were said to be Bendu, or in perfect balance. It was a crazy notion, thought to be too dangerous to pursue, but still that is what he was feeling now. He closed his eyes centering his focus and stretched his mind out. The source of these emanations was further inland, towards the centre of the island. He sighed, wishing that Aury were here, it would be a long jog without her. He moved his sword from his hip to his back and took a few moments to stretch. Then settling that it would never get done lest he start, the Waylan Guard Mouse began his steady lopping jog towards the center of the island.

9th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 1:14pm, Bendu Island, ancient temple at islands centre.

The journey had not been easy. The island was filled with snakes and twice he’d been nearly swallowed. He didn’t know if he was surprised or not, but before him stood an ancient temple, built with long stacked stones in a pyramid formation. The entire building, those easily thirty feet in height was scaled to the Littles. He drew his sword allowing the light blue gleam of it to caste its light in the darkened hallways of the great temple.

Carefully his caste each paw out feeling the ground for support before committing his weight. He had moved perhaps twenty feet inwards when the floor beneath his paws crumbled away. With reflexes wrought of years of Guard Mouse training he dropped his blade and threw himself forward, only just grasping the edge of the pit. His little paws dug into the edge as his feet kicked trying to find purchase, he looked below seeing the pit dropped maybe eight feet, a nasty fall for any little, and the bottom had several angry looking flesh eating scarabs chittering and snapping at the walls. Likely disappointed that their meal was being denied to them. Thaden calmed his breath and climbed out, calling on the weave to bring his blade back to his paws. He was not the first or the last adventurer to wonder how creatures trapped in these pits managed to stay alive during years of disuse, but filed the question away with other great mysteries such as why does glue not stick to the inside of the bottle, or if mirrors require light to work, why do subterranean creatures who rely on dark vision have them? He called on the weave once more to reignite the blue glow to his blade, and slightly more carefully then before continued his advance down the hallway.

The wall of the hallway was inscribed with an ancient inlay of carvings… the creatures appeared to be imps of devils of some kind, perhaps mutated littles, as many were mammals with the heads of snakes, lizards or birds. They were being forced to toil under the watchful gaze of a dragon of seven heads. Each of the toiling creatures held a great sphere, to some, the sphere’s appeared to be almost comically light, other creatures appeared to be nearly crushed under the weight of the spheres. As the light of his blade was caste over the spheres he could see that they were indeed coloured… with only a blue light to see by he could currently tell what colours they were, but all appeared to run from white to black in various shades of blue. Between the creatures carved into the walls appeared to be glyphs and runes of powers, some of the languages he was sure were infernal, he could also pick out Feline and Zeymayian as well, others appeared to perhaps be dwarven or even arachnid some still defied his knowledge of languages. He walked a few steps further and noted in the far corner, a scrawling into the wall, this appeared still ancient but was carved well after the originally art piece was finished. It was written in Waylen

The Great Hall you must discover, through this maze it will uncover.
Shun green if you can, but night’s good color
is for those of great valor.
If shades of red stand for blood the wise
will not need sacrifice aught but friendship should suffice.
Two pits along the way will be found to lead
to a fortuitous fall, so check, and check the wall.
These keys and those are most important of all,
and beware of trembling hands and what they will maul.
If you find the false you find the true
and into the columned hall you’ll come,
and there the throne that’s key and keyed.
The she of stone do more than
meets the viewer’s eye, wary you shall be or forever you shall tarry
You’ve left and left and found this catacomb
and now within it the races twinned of fate,
will be reborn, or the weave will die.

Master Guard Mouse Typhon, 47 ONT

Thaden read the inscription thrice more before deciding it was probably important enough to take a rubbing of. He had never heard of this Master Guard Mouse… not surprising it appeared he was over three hundred year gone from this place, still though… he recalled no writing of a temple on an island in these waters. If this had been a mission from the Guard, what could it mean? He read the inscription again growing in annoyance… he hated cryptic writings, why didn’t Waylens leaving messages just say what they needed to say? Why the weird riddles written in odd staccatos? He let our a frustrated breath and wiped the sweat from his brow, placing the inscription back in his pouch he moved further into the catacombs

10th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 2:14am, Bendu Island.

Thaden woozily staggered onto the beach, his wits were not fully about him… what had happened in the temple, why was he leaving… his hands clutched around the small red cube, he needed help. His wounds were vicious, looking down it appeared he had been in several fights. His normally brown fur was matted with both fresh and dried blood. His cloak was tattered, and thick sloths of black tarrish poison appeared to be coating two puncture marks along the side of his body.

“that’s not good” he heard himself say as he assessed himself… he was unsure of the date, or time… the sun was gone and the moon and stars were shining brightly, he needed help

“DIDA CHICK?” he heard a creature say. He leaned heavily on his sword putting the blade point in the ground he adjusted his weight and turned his head, coming from the ocean were a line of crustaceans, mostly crab like creatures or lobstrosities. Mangled and maligned teeth with eyes that betrayed intelligence and hunger. They stood at least two feet tall, with shells that went from brown to green to white to rust. They white jagged edges of their teeth made a constant grinding noise as their claws continually clicked.

Giant_crab1.jpg

“DIDA CHUM?” One Called

“DIDA CHICK?” the first questioned back… what were they saying, what were the questions

“I am Guard Mouse Thaden of Rootwallow, I mean you no…”

SNAP SNAP SNAP

“DIDA CHUM? DIDA CHUM?” muscle memory saved his life as he twisted his blade up and parried to snaps cutting at the claw the third time, the creature and the questions kept coming, his allies close behind.

“Is it the cube you want?” Thaden asked, more to himself then the creature… his mind was so foggy, he couldn’t remember what the cube was, only that it was important.

“DIDA CHICK?” the creature asked as two of its companions moved around to flank him, claws testing wildly. Thaden could feel his heart quicken, the weave began to flow through him more fully as battle was begun, it helped clear some of the poisons fog, but not much

“You’ll not have it!” Thaden said, his blade turning its brilliant blue again “Retreat now foul creatures, or face the wrath of the Guard!”

“DIDA…” the creature never finished its question, Thaden raced in with his blade and carved through its shell, killing the first of his many enemies

11th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 10:42am, Bendu Island, Western Beach

Thaden’s sword flew from his grasp as the great Decapod smashed him against a rock. The Guard Mouse had enough sense in him left to roll as a pointed leg slammed down, he rolled again and again as two more stabbing attacks followed. He tried to reach into the weave but found he was exhausted… he had nothing left. The curstatcean shot a snapping claw out at him…. It took a piece of his ear but little more.

“Aury…” he called weakly “I need you” he panted, extecting his war kitten to come tumbling out of the brush and do away with this final foe

Nothing

The creature rushed again, it’s massive claw snapping for his neck. Thaden’s hands shot up each grabbing an end of the claw and trying with all his might to keep it from closing and sundering him in two

“Aury…” he called again through gritted teeth as he fought the creature… hunger and bloodlust in it’s eyes

“DIDA CHUM? DIDA CHUM?” It asked incessantly as it applied pressure… the inside of the claws were sharp, cutting the pads of his paws as he tried to keep the creature at bay.

“by the Weave Aury… I need you” he called, wondering if the kitten had abandoned him. With a final effort he pried the claws apart a little farther, kicking out at them; but there was no success to be had.

“DIDA CHICK!” the creature, sensing victory, relished. It slammed Thaden into the sand. Knocking the breath from him and sending his world into hues of grey.

“aury….” He called one last time, his vision fading

And like that, the creature was ripped from the ground, dropping Thaden in surprise… the Guard Mouse heard a distant splash… his head lolled around to see his faithful mount, in her sylph form

“watch out Aury….” He moaned as his wits fled… the last thing he heard was a gasp of surprise and “DIDA CHICK?”

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Dark Darklyness of Darkening PT 2

The Creature finished its rampage… all said the gore and guts of over forty gripplie stained the docks, the homes and its scales moth and claws..

“AHHHHHHHHHHSZZJSZZZ!” The creature gurgled and hissed in pain, its quarry was not here! And so it must continue to hunt, to kill, to exist until it had completed its mission.

SPLASH

The creature threw itself back into the river and continued to swim,

“KILLLLLLLLL FAARRRRRRGAAAZZZZZZZZER” it hissed and burbled to itself, drawing ever neared to its prey

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GET'EM BOYS

10th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 10:43am, the slave Pits, Honastice Province, Argyle

“… Run, Sir Thalion, run far and run fast, cause I say, when I catch you, there will, I say there will be a reckoning…. RELEASE THE HOUNDS!”

With that the impossibly loud voice ended, and the dogs began to bark as their handlers were led in various directions. Lord Marmaduke looked down, watching the slaves continue to scramble up the shale hill and into the trees on the far side of the pit. He turned to the men around him and gathered them into a huddle

“Clyde, I need you to take fifty good men and get down that hill, there aint no way that they got all my slaves, get them fire’s out and figure out what in high hell happened, I want that place on lock down and a tally of just what in high hells happened. Get me a roster of who we have and who is on the run, I want our boys in the field to know just who in the hells they are looking for”

“You got it Lord Marmarduke” Clyde said peeling away from the group to go about his tasks

“George, I was not kidding when I said I want the militia’s and farms alerted, you go wake that damn fool of a wizard back at the house, tell him in the next four hours I want all of Honastica ta know about that dirty lying thief Thalion! That he is on the run with over a hundred pieces of my property! I want a reward on his head, 5,000 Don-Tonian Golden Pieces for the bloody head of that damned elf to be returned to me. I will pay an additional thousand for the heads of his companions, The Frog, the two little girls, the goblin, and the women guard!”

“Sir, what of Mr. al-Pour and his slave? They were seen lighting fires in the corn fields” George asked

“I doubt very much that anyone working with Sir Thalion was a slave…" Marmaduke said with venom in his voice “offer two thousand for them, but I want those two alive… al-Pour is worth money to me, his family will compensate me for this trouble, of that I am sure.”

“Yes Sir” George said turning away and finding his mount

“Leroy, You take twenty five or so men; I’ll send you more when I have ‘em, ride on west towards Bridgeton, get me a decent sized posse, I’ll fill there cups for some decent work, cut off any of them fools who think they’re gonna make for the Dwarven boarder” he turned to his left to another man in the huddle “Benjamin, you do the same, but hit all them little farm towns south of here and cut off anyone who thinks there gonna slip into the elvish lands, cast me a wide net boys… I don’t want no one gettin away”

“Yes Sir” the two said tipping their hats and peeling off

“Noah, take about four or five good ol’boys with ya… you know the type…. There are always a couple special slaves, the kind with no real sense of direction, head on North and see who you can rustle up”

“You got it boss!”

“Russel, I want you to get me el’Trejo…” there was a gasp at this, but Marmaduke made a cutting motion with his hands, he was in no mood to hear it "I want him after Thalion and those wolves… I want my wolves back! Once he is after them, Call in every favour we have…. Thalion is a Captain… he is so proud of his precious little ship, ‘the Champions Fist’” Marmaduke made a mocking tone while he said the words “I’d bet every coin I ever earnt that he’s heading east for the ocean… cut him off! STOP HIM! SINK HIS GODS BE DAMNED SHIP FOR ALL I CARE! HE ROBBED ME! NOBODY ROBS EARL EPSCOT MARMADUKE AND LIVES TO TELL THE TALE! I WANT MY SLAVES BACK AND I WANT MY REVENGE! GO OUT THERE AND GET IT! NOW!” he was red faced and screaming by the end of his tirade, the remaining men quickly broke off hurrying to their mounts and about their business. To summon el’Trejo should have been signal enough, war had been declared.

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Silent Freedom Pt 1

7th of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 5:15am

They stayed about fifteen minutes, they wished they could stay longer. Mordicum didn’t seem very stable and she hated to leave him, but their work would not allow that. Hikauri and Aury carefully watched another guard rotation pass. Every quarter hour it seemed, not a lot of time to move but some. Try as she might Aury could find no way to remove the collar from the Mordicum, there was no key hole to pick. She was sure with more light, time and maybe a little magic she could have him free of it, but for now they had had to look elsewhere. Fortunately the chain that connected the collar to the ground was only clasped there with a padlock. It was a decent enough lock, the flickering light making it harder still to pick, but she was the Gate Keeper and soon it fell away to her skills. They explained to Mordicum that for this to work, he would have to hold still until the fighting began, then he was to rally and meet the other werewolves at the gate. A look to Hikauri showed that they both had little faith in the dwarf to remember this, but they had no choice and soon they were on their way.

From shadow to shadow they slipped, always one at a time, always while the other looked on keeping the watch. In the last hour Aury had freed four more slaves, a half elf named Tanyl, a pair of Halfling twins named Fardulf and Bowman and a Half Orc woman named Sharn. Each had seemed to have their wits about them, and were willing to wait until the fighting began. It took almost half an hour to cross the wider stretch of road, dodging the ever churning lights and guard glances. They had freed another human who simply went by Riggs, and skipped another who seemed a little too unhinged to trust to wait before at last coming across another were.

She appeared human, with dark skin, and darker hair, wearing little more than rags about her. As the two slinked near her dog house she perked up, but did not make sudden movements.

“who are you?” she stated in a low whisper, her eyes not moving to them as Hakauri slipped into her Dog house, and Aury curled in the shadows to the side.

“I am Hakauri, this is Aury… Thalion sent us to rescue you” the child sized magus said in a breath of a whisper

“I am Selene, sworn member of Versum’s Pack, you have my thanks. As she spoke the women’s hand slowly moved some dirt, she pulled forth what looked like a dagger sized bone that had been sharpened to a shiv. “What is the plan?” she asked

“Aury here is going to pick the locks connecting your chain to the ground… in a few hours there will be a commotion at the front, link up with the other were and we will fight our way out” Hikauri said. To this Selene gave a subtle nod and moved slightly to allow her shadow to be cast over the lock. “Aury is going to need to shift forms in order to pick the lock… due to a curse, she looks like the vampire Serenity who attacked you, I assure you she is not, but if this will alarm you, we are all caught” Hikauri knew that this was a bit of a stretch on the truth, but her and Aury had agreed that for the sake of haste this is what they would say for the time being.

“A wretched curse indeed to be trapped in such a vile and horrendous creatures form” Selene said, her voice dripping with hate and venom.

“Indeed” Hikauri said, giving Aury a look not to argue. Dutifully the kitten said nothing as she shifted forms. And although Selene stiffened and clutched her bone shiv tightly, she made no move against Aurelia as the sylph freed the padlock and shifted back into kitten form. “Wait for the signal” Hikauri reminded as they prepared to leave.

The hour was at least the seventh, the sun as coming up giving an orange glow to the slave pits, they still had the advantage of long shadows, but this would not last long, they had to hurry.

Another half hour caused them to leave four slaves chained and free two Wing-Ti humans named Du Tao and Yaun Wuhan, a gnome named Clankwagic and a fellow who claimed to a former Tukin Knight named Dallan Stillard. Each were given the instructions to wait until the signal, and ever onward the two crept, winding and working their way through the third compound. The slavers seemed to have decided that the Were should not be close to one another, and so they needed to search far in each direction to try and find one. At last they came across a young women chained to another dog house. It appears the guard had come by with a slop and put it into a clay dish for her to eat, she was eyeing it suspiciously when they crept up to her.

“Greetings, I am Hikauri…” Hikauri began, but the redhead cut her off

“You are of Thalions Pack, you both smell of him… is he here, has Versum been freed?” Hikauri was a little taken aback by her revelations, but plowed forward

“Thalion will be assaulting the pits soon, we are freeing people to get them ready… Aury will free your chain but be warned, her appearance…”

“Is of Serenity? I can smell it on her, though she does not smell dead, thus she is not a Vampire… I am glad you came Aurellia… though am a little disappointed that your true form was not one of the wolf” her tone was light and not meant to offend. Aurellia shifted back and began to work on the lock

“I am sorry… did we meet last time?” Aurellia asked

“Not formally, you met my brother Berald I am sure, I was in the caves, but not a high pack member… my name is Azura”

“Well Auzra” Aurellia said with a grin as she heard a satisfying click from the lock “When the fighting happens, head for the gates, Thalion and the rest will be there to help us out of here”

“I will, my thanks to you both… but do tell, have you found Berald? Is he ok?” Auzra asked

“We have not seen your brother yet… but we will keep looking” Hikauri said as Aurellia shifted back

“Thank you my friends… be carefully” she said as the child and the kitten whisked to the next prisoner.

The sun coming up was certainly slowing their ability to move quickly. More staff were working now delivering breakfast to slaves, the guards shift had changed offering fresh troops going about their business. Slaves were being rounded up for work or assessment. They managed to free an ogre named Ik, and a human named Sevel before they opted for speed in searching for the Were.

Over the next hour they managed to track down and Free a Halfling Were named Hallec, and a Half Elf named Kodan. Kodan had already freed himself of his lock; planning to free himself this day anyway, Hikauri managed to convince him to wait for the others. The hour was getting late, near enough to 8:30 or 9, Thalion and his group could be arriving anytime between 9:30 and 10:00. The extra light was making things harder still as the shadows grew few on a bright Wealsun day. The heroes would need to decide if they would push forward and attempt to enter Zone 4, 2 or 1 with the increased light or if they would continue freeing non-were in zone 3 until their comrade arrived.

To be Continued

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Dog eat Dog world pt 2

1st of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 1:34pm

“ah, you can see he is coming to. This is, developmentally, a very important time for our slaves, if you are diligent now it will save you countless hours later” Voss heard the light baritone voice as his eyes cracked opened. The light assailed him sending waves of nausea ricocheting through his body; all at once he could feel the pain from dozens of bruises across his body. As a werewolf he was not used to this feeling, his healing tended to take care of these things quickly, they must have beaten him within an inch of his life for him to still be in such poor shape. Again he willed his eyes open, he could not help but pant heavily sucking in oxygen to try and fight off the nausea. He was curled into a ball, in a small metal cage, the kind one would expect to find in a kennel. There was a ratty wool blanket on the floor and a bowl half filled with water. With great fortitude he rose his head and looked about. His cage was under an open shed, there were cages on either side of him, but currently both were empty, ahead of him was a dirt field were three men stood, beyond them was the loathsome wrought iron fence and the clay walls. He was still in the Slave Pits. One of the three men turned to his companions. This man wore a clean suit of tan, he had well-groomed brown hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. The man removed his tan jacket showcasing a tan vest and white shirt. He passed the jacket to one of the men, by his dress Voss assumed a guard, then he carefully approached Voss’s crate, keeping low with a forced smile plastered across his face.

“Who is a good boy? Who is a good boy?” the man asked in an oddly chipper tone as he approached. When he was within five feet of the cave the man stopped his approach “You are a good boy aren’t you? Aren’t you?” the man’s hand reached for the edge of the cage. Voss’s hand snaked out like lightening, but the man proved quicker, startled he fell backwards in the mud, but escaped before Voss could grab him. In seconds the guard ran up baton in hand striking at the bars. The slight charge of electricity in the baton jumped into the bars and gave Voss a frightful shock that threatened to send him back to oblivion.

“DIRTY SWINE, YOU’LL NOT TRY THAT AGAIN!” the guard cursed as he raised his baton again. But the blow did not land. The man in tan held the guards hand and was scolding him

“you ignorant fool! What are you doing?” he asked

“I was disciplining the slave Master Bladwell” the guard responded, a little taken aback

“No you weren’t, you were undoing my hard earned efforts!” Bladwell spat at the guard, slapping him hard in the face “He is in his crate! You never discipline a creature in their crate! That is HIS space, HIS safe space… NO MATER WHAT! Am I getting through that thick rock skull of yours?” he asked slapping the guard repeatedly.

“but, he was trying to hurt you…” the guard said in a confused whine

“but he was trying to hurt you…” Bladwell repeated back in a nasally mocking tone “… no he wasn’t, he is declaring his space, and establishing dominance over it, exactly what we want him to do you nitwit! Your Lord hired me to train his slaves, because he wants to expand his labour and fighting operations, you can’t just beat ogres and trolls into submission, they have to trained… or you will keep having incidents like this… so shut up and let me do my jump you incompetents nincompoop!” he slapped the guard three more times before ripping the stun baton from his hands and throwing it across the field, forcing the guard to walk off and get it. With that job complete he turned back to Voss “I’m sorry about that boy, was that mean old guard twying to hurt you… hmmmm… we don’t like him do we? Do we?” the tone of Bladwell had shifted back to his chipper infantile one as he spoke to Voss. “But we’re going to have to stop calling you boy aren’t we? Your gonna need a name, yes you are, yes you are”

“I am Voss” Voss said, clearing his throat slightly, perhaps he could make inroads with this person.

“Awwwwe, he’s trying to sound like people…” the man turned to his companion with a look of adoration on his face “That is sooooo cute… but… we are going to need a good name for you aren’t we?”

“I said my name is Voss!” Voss said anger growing inside

“Good speak, good speak!” the man said in an overly excited tone, then he turned again to his companion… “I had some figs today, and I enjoyed them so much… I think I will call him Fig”

“An excellent name sir” the third man said, his tone one of passive disinterest

“Do you like that name Fig? do ya Fig? do ya?”

“VOSS!” Voss snarled at the man

“Ohhhh I think Fig likes his new name, I think he does” Bladwell said rising to his feet. “You hold tight here Fig; I’m gonna get the training fields all set up, then you and me are gonna have a lot of fun!” again his tone was light and chipper, but Voss felt a sinister fear creep into him, this was like no man he’d ever met before.

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Dog eat Dog world Pt 1

1st of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 1:14am

Voss had heard the chime of the first hour; he did not move, did not open his eyes. He lay in his scratchy cot waiting. The last few days had been hard, but he was sure his tactics were sound. He had been the best-behaved slave he could, had proven his aggression but also his eagerness to please and thus had been granted status into the fighting circuit. He had now done four days of training, he was being fed better and his accommodations had been upgraded to a group barracks. The thick collar was still around his neck, and from it a heavy chain leached onto an inset ring that had been shaped into the stone floor. He had not seen Versum since they had arrived here, he knew some of his pack brethren had attempted escape already, each of them failing and being punished, others were still starving in the intake pits; the captors waiting to see what kind of trouble they would be. He had seen Trovel and Weizen had also been moved into the fighting pits.

.

The captors were smart, they never let him near his pack brethren, never gave them opportunity to talk. Voss guessed that the slavers figured they would try to escape and plan if they could speak… the slavers would be right in that assumption. At last Voss opened one eye the room was dark and quiet. He opened his other eye and risked looking back and forth. The room was silent, just he and the three other slaves he roomed with; the time was now. Silently he rolled out of his bed dropping onto the floor, he crawled under the bed and out between the lower two posts before slinking to the nearest bed. In the bed slept a little gnome, Hadnom, the fellow was apparently a very talented boxer. Voss placed his hand over the gnome’s mouth and leaned over the bed. Hadnom’s eyes shot open in alarm, Voss placed a finger to his lips before leaning close to the gnome’s ear and breathing the words

.

“Silence, tonight I escape, circumstance makes us allies, your actions now could make us friends, are you with me?” there was a long pause as he looked into the grey eyes of the little brown-haired gnome. The fellow gave a single deliberate nod and Voss removed his hand from his mouth. Voss carefully reached for a bandage from an earlier fight, from under it he produced a small bit of wire and gave it to the gnome. “I would prefer it if we were freed silently, use this and attempt to open the lock, I will speak to our other bunk mates” he whispered. The gnome lightly sprung from the bed and took the wire tiptoeing to the ring in the centre of the room. Sticking to the shadows Voss slinked around to the bed across from his, one that belonged to Rhax a large brutish lizard man. He positioned himself over the lizard man and followed the same procedure of covering his mouth as he had with Hadnom, again as the Lizard awoke he breathed the words.

.

“Silence, and struggle not! Circumstance makes us allies, your actions now could make us friends… tonight we escape. Are you with us?” the lizard man’s eyes rolled locking on to the gnome working away at the locks, then back to Voss, he nodded and Voss removed his hands. The lizard was up in moments padding his way towards the gnome. Voss crept to the last bed, a large half orc slept in the bed peacefully. Voss leaned over him placing a hand over his mouth like the others, but this time his other arm sat across the orcs neck denying any air. The Orc’s eyes popped open as he began to struggle. Voss leaned in and whispered to him.

.

“I know of you Aguk, I know you are a spy for the slavers, and that they give you food and easy fights in return for information of slave escapes…” Voss pushed harder on the Orcs neck “How many have you denied freedom to you selfish pig?” the orc struggled for breath but could find no purchase on Voss “You will not be the last blood I spill tonight, but the first of my vengeance” as he said the words to the orc he placed all of his weight on the orcs neck and watched the creatures windpipe cave in. the rocs sputtered and flailed for a few moments, but eventually the life drained from his eyes, only then did Voss let up. .

CLICK

.

The gnome could not free them from their collars, nor from each other, but could free them from the floor. Voss was attached by a ten-foot chain to Hadnom and Rhax was attached via chain to the now dead Aguk. Voss ripped at the collar slowly and quietly peeling off the head of the now dead orc. At last he freed the collar and handed it to Rhax.

“Quickly now, stealth is only our friend so far, then might must carry us through” Voss murmured to his compatriots

“Might will bring us to right” Rhax responded, eliciting a grin from Voss, it appeared that the Lizardmen had also read the teaching of the Great Mordakka. If ever they needed a God on their side it was now, and the Breaker of Chains and Lord of the Underdogs was certainly Voss’s pick. Voss worked his way to the door and put his nose to the crack at the floor inhaling deeply. He turned back to his two companions.

“One guard in the hall, Rhax, open the door, Hadnom and I will take the guard” Voss stole, the Lizardman agreed and within seconds the door was peeled off its hinges and Voss leapt out the gnome hot on his heels. It hadn’t taken much, the chain wrapped twice around his neck. The gnome as counterweight… the little man’s head popped near off his shoulders. Down the stairs they traced, gliding like shadows fearful of the moon’s dispelling glare. Rhax was ready for the next guard before Voss could signal. Again the chain was used to choke the human, and silently he was dragged up the stairs and placed in Voss’s bed. The three gathered at the front door. Voss sniffed under the door, the air was thick and humid, the sweat of slaves and guards saturated the outer walk.

“we must find my sister” Hadnom said “she is in the farm pens I am sure…”

“no” Voss whispered solemnly

“I can’t leave her…” the gnomes words were cut off by Voss’s hand silencing him once more. Voss offered a look of empathy before he breathed the words into the gnomes ear.

“I have brothers and sisters here as well, we must prove we can get out, find allies and return… I will not risk their future for a rash temporary hope, cooperate” the last word was both an order and a threat, though Hadnom seemed to understand. He nodded and the two went to the door. Hadnom had taken a dagger from the guard, and with it was able to pry the lock and open the front door.

“Through the shacks until we reach the fence?” Rhax asked in a hoarse hiss. Voss nodded

“Over the fence, then up and over the wall, we will deal with whatever is on the other side out there. Once we make the tree line I will shift, you two may ride me and we will cover ground until we find chance to remove these chains. From their, your lives are your own…agreed?” the two nodded and with only a brief pause to allow the spattering light to slip by on its meandering course they sprang into action. Voss carried his companion under one arm as his longs legs propelled him across the dirt street and into the shadows of the shanty houses on the other side. He did not pause, did not stop for breath but raced through the shanty allies and into the far clearing, then it was only fifty meters to the fence. Twelve feet tall forged of wrought iron, it glowed a feverish purple color. Rhax was quicker on his feet and perhaps three strides ahead of Voss. The lizard leapt into the air, his left hand touching the iron to throw himself to the other side.

“ARRGGHH!” Rhax could not help but scream as his hand turned to stone. The fence changed from a dancing purple light to a bright white one as the slow siren of alarms rose. Voss skidded to a halt just in time seeing what had happened to the Lizardman. He could not make a twelve-foot jump without touching the bars, definitely not while carrying the gnome.

“FLEE RHAX, IF I CAN SLOW THEM I WILL!” Voss called turning and running back towards the Shanties, he made it perhaps two steps before a long silver arrow impaled into his thigh, causing him to fall and trip. Rhax, taking the advice to heart leapt towards the tall walls of clay and stone and began to climb, his way slowed by his now stone hand. He made it perhaps forty feet before the rain of arrows that fell from on high cut him from his perch and sent him spiraling to the ground below. Voss clambered back to his feet “HADNOM, WE MUST…” he stopped seeing no less then seven silver arrows in his gnomish partner, the poor creature lay on the ground blood pooling about him. Voss could see guards with long stun bats moving in.

“WROOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he let forth a vicious howl grabbing his chain with both hands he began to spin, using his lost companion as the end of a long flail. The gnome crashed into the first of the guard and then as if alive flung back and flew over Voss’s head slamming into another. He side stepped quickly having learnt the patter of those silver arrows and avoiding another one. Flinging the gnome one way he moved the opposite prying a baton from the grip of a fallen guard and savagely beating his head with it. He ducked just in time as another baton swung for his head, then he felt a tug on his chain as several guards had grabbed hold of Hadnom. They tried to pull him in as more guards still flooded around him smacking him with their wooden cudgels. He rammed his baton through the eye of a guard with such force that it jutted from the back of the mans head. It was then he felt the shocks. Stunning shock after shock coursed through him, and assumedly several other guards, that did not cause his captures to relent.

“AAAAWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOShajffsdhdfh…” he howled again, but it was cut short as a final shock sent him to oblivion.

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The Fall of Rosemellow

1st of Wealsun 383ONT, Ruins of Rosemellow, 20k South of Lockland 3:15pm.

Please Listen While Reading

Two hundred Wyzels stood at attention wearing their snow-white breastplates. The ancient oak that for hundreds of years had been a bastion of the Guard Mice of the Waylens now smoldered as in withered to nothingness. Its blackend charcoal was being scattered by a few Scurrious slaves, the ground had been churned as no root was left intact, no seed left to prosper. Great Dull dogs were escorted in, laden with heavy sacks as Wyzels threw salt into the overturned soil. Nothing would ever again grow here.

The White clad Wyzels faced a large oaken log that had been modified into a stage. Here lording over them stood the Admiral Thrawn, resplendid in his uniform, the hulking beast looked more akin to a small bear then a Wyzel. It was said he was part of a distant race known as the Gulo. Be that as it may, he stood a clear head over any of his troops. To match his brute strength and savage fighting style was a military mind unlike any Argyle had ever seen. It was said that the Grand Admiral didn’t make mistakes. And so far, among these elite troopers the reputation was well secured. A shadow passed over those assembled. Thrawn offered a stiff salute to the mighty Lord Shepard as the dragon banked and prepared to land. The assembled troops follow suit and held their attention as the Lord of the Waylens and Wyzels landed and dismounted. Clad in armor of black the mouse approached the dais. As he did the Grand Admiral dropped to his knee.

“Welcome Lord Shepard” he said keeping his eyes caste down

“What news Grand Admiral?” Lord Shepard said, his voice soft but full of menace

“I have confirmed the death of two more Guard Mice, and the last of their BIG supporters. The village of Glenrummy has been destroyed and we are completing your work on Rosemellow as we speak. Icarus did manage to escape with perhaps two score of villagers and survivors, but none of them were critical targets my Lord”

“Excellent Grand Admiral, where did they flee to?” Shepard hissed from behind his mighty helm

“Our scouts are still trying to confirm their course so that we might bring them under your heel sire. Evidence points to the fact that they may have had external help, I have no proof you but I have suspicions of a Guard Mouse.” The Lord Shepard hands clenched with anger at hearing this, but he did not lash out at his Admiral

“Your guesses have often been reliable. Which Guard Mouse do you believe it is?” The Waylen Lord asked. The grand admiral scratched the tufts under his chin for a moment while he considered the question

“based on our intel about the Locations of the others… We know that Pickans and Palmer are both still holed up at Arbour-Portum. Guard Mouse Clove was spotted six days ago snaking into the Fur and Foot Nations eastern boarder. That would leave Tander or Thaden. Tander is more blood thirsty, his style would have been to leave traps and ambushes for my men or at least a skirmish or two before committing to an evacuation… this feels more like Guard Mouse Thaden, he is more cautious with the lives of his charges”

“Thaden of Rootwallow….” The voice of Lord Shepard sounded almost distant as he considered the words “He is a dangerous adversary, He trained under Garrow of Birchflow, and was well versed in not only Ataru blade style but also studied a fair about of Makashi. He is not one to be underestimated, and Pickens tends to give him a very long lead on his actions. If he is involved in this our entire southern operation could be thrown into disarray…” The Lord trailed off for a long moment before coming to attention “Grand Admiral, I want him found, I want to know where he went and I want him dead, or too preoccupied to be a bother to my plans. I want you to take the Goliaths, The Ashe Crew and the Tactical Relation Division… bring me his sword, and his paw clutching it”

“It will be done Sire” the Grand Admiral replied “But do we really need three companies for one lone Guard Mouse and a few score of villagers?” Shepard again paused before responding, his helm made reading his impressions nearly impossible

“The Weave tells me he is not a lone guard mouse… he has bonded with the weave to one… or perhaps five others… I sense a disturbance in the weave that I have never before felt. My instincts tell me he is very dangerous to my cause. Take no chances Grand Admiral, if you need more resources do not hesitate… I will not rest easy until I know that Thaden of Rootwallow is no more”

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Finding Her Way

26th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 3:33pm, Champion’s Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle

In a way Hikari was grateful for the gods having gone silent on her. It game her time to continue to absorb and contemplate the dual lives she’d lived and how it was to have meaning in her own life. In a word, it was a mess, and she didn’t think she would have complete control over how she felt if certain situations were to arise. Much like how she’d blurted out just the wrong things to say during an amazing feast she’d created for the crew and their guest. Hikari still felt embarrassed over that and yet a part of her had wished to go further and somehow separate the two of them completely. It was wrong and she knew it but that did not stop her at the time. And that was what had her worried moving forward. So many memories and so much emotion wrapped up in those memories that she was easily becoming overwhelmed by them if she spotted something familiar or smelled something that reminded her of the past.

So she found solace in the silence that came with the loss of her connection with the gods and though the tattoo itched and the brand still ached she was alone in her devotions to her creators. Every night at 3am she’d seal her door and perform the ritual to Ymeri and bathe in fire to cleanse her body. And again with the coming of the afternoon she would retreat back to her room and relax trying to sleep or meditate as the book she’d picked up dictated as Pan’s time of rest. She’d enjoyed showing Flitt how to perform the nightly devotions to Ymeri and though she knew him to be a follower of Prometheus he’d changed recently and looked beyond to those who had in turn created his god.

Heh, changed, she was one to talk. It seemed that most of them had become something more, something different than what they started out as. And Hikari wondered how much more they were going to change before the fickle threads of fate were done with them. Hikari hoped it was a long way off for she had only just begun to live. But she’d defied fate at least once now and would continue to do her utmost to carve her own path through life. And maybe, just maybe she’d find a way to get back to the Fire Nation and save her… Hiro’s family and nation. Her, no Hiro’s mother would not recognize her and though she could help the changes had made it all but impossible for her to be the one to lead the Fire Nation out of the dark and back into the light of Ymeri.

Speaking of which, she needed to meet Tar Di in the galley…


“Why are we here?” Tar Di looked to Hikari in confusion, “I thought you said we were going to practice more magic today. You’re not going to make a cake analogy again are you? I think I have an idea about turning a bad guy into a piñata instead of confetti so their stuff falls out when you break them open.”

Hikari laughed and motioned for Tar Di to join her in the kitchen area. “I’m sure the captain would like that one a lot. Ze was not so happy when Alyss was completely destroyed like that. But no using it here and now.” She kept digging through the spices and stowed items seeking some specific items to create something quite unique. “No, I need your help because I was inspired the other day by a memory from Hiro’s life and I want to see if I can combine my skills in cooking with some magic to make something truly unique.”

“And yes, it is a magic lesson at the same time.” Hikari did not stop adding ingredients to her pile or look at Tar Di as her apprentice groaned, “But a fun and tasty one that will I hope inspire you the right way.”

“If you say so.” Came the sullen answer and Hikari handed Tar Di a small utensil and some vanilla beans.

“Here we need to make an extract and that starts by getting into these little sweets and collecting it into that small pestle. Then you get to grind it up into a paste.” Hikari gave some more instructions before starting in on the main component herself. First she started simmering some milk and mixed in a generous amount of sugar. While this was happening she took the cream she found and began to whip it into shape. While doing this she used magic to prep a small keg and clean it thoroughly before setting it to the side. There was still some of the chocolate left from the Mandy sculpture mold thing which she set to melt in a small pan. Soon enough the cream was taking shape and the milk and sugar had condensed nicely. She took the paste from Tar Di, the chocolate, condensed milk and whipped cream and folded it all together into a sweet smelling mass. Then she, with Tar Di’s help poured it all into the keg and after sealing it applied her cold magics to it. Then she placed it into a crate and coated the inside with more ice to keep it below freezing until she wanted it.

“Well… What is it? What was I supposed to learn from doing that and watching you?” An annoyed and frustrated Tar Di spoke up at last.

“That was an experiment. It was built upon a solid base though of skills I’ve honed and knowledge I’ve gained.” Hikari set a small bowl in front of Tar Di and nodded hading her the spoon to try it. “If it works out then it will be a sweet and tasty iced treat. If not then it will have been fun to try. After all not everything that can be eaten or drunk has been created and so as a chef I try things or change things to see if I can make something better or different. And a lot of times I do it whenever the mood strikes me. Much like how you chaos magic wants to work.”

The first bite was cold and Tar Di made a face but then, as it melted the flavours hit her and she could not help but smile at the vanilla, chocolate and sweet cream. “Mmmm, I like this. What is it?”

“Chocolate and vanilla iced cream. Though we could find other flavours to add to the base I suppose.” Hikari shrugged, “It’s the start of a larger endeavor but no less needing some creativity. And just like learning magic I needed to learn what happens to cream when you whip it or how one can combine sugar and milk together and with some gentle heat create something else that adds flavor and depth to a dish. So too with magic do you learn how to light a candle or send a message before you can throw fireballs or compel others to do your bidding. And also like cooking magic has no limits. What we know now is but a small sampling of what could be and we continue to experiment and learn to create new spells using what we’ve gained before.”

“Much like you piñata idea actually. Chaos has a wont to do whatever it decides at any given moment but as a wielder you can influence the outcome. Your wants change what it does and how it comes into existence. So we build you understanding and control of the fundamentals so that it does what you want it to do in your own chaotic way rather than letting it act as it will.” Hikari grinned and pulled out another empty keg she’d found. “Now how about we whip up another batch with a flavor of your choosing before dinner tonight? You can think on this and we will look at what you can do later. Oh and we will continue to work on your language and writing skills too with a list for Bronwyn for the second part of my grand scheme.”


The nice thing about being the ship’s wizard and chef was that she no longer had to work the rigging or sit at the oars or run around at the bark of an order. Nope, she got to train her apprentice and make meals and otherwise study her magics as she would. Which left her small opportunities for things like practicing the pan flute she’d picked up in Lockland. Her original plan was to practice in the extra dimensional space where no one could hear her but with the vampire living in there with his foul concoctions that plan was quickly kyboshed. So instead she played it whenever she was between other tasks and had to pretend to not care how bad she was when others wandered by and were unfortunate enough to listen to her play.

Over the course of their fifteen day journey she did get better but was still a long way to go to being good. The captain of the Champion’s Boot had spoken foten of wanting his officers to learn to play and she’d wanted to learn at the time too but their time had been short and her work with the crew had left her with no time to devote to the subject. Not that she had thought of a good instrument until after her birth… But they would work well once she figured them out as they would not interfere with her dancing and both were required by Pan for certain rites. Speaking of which she did need to speak to the captain about obtaining a few bottles of Elven Red for any possible holy days or moments that might come up….

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