Balance

Slugging it out in Cainia Pt 5

21st of Floodtime 383 ONT, 11:13am, Slug Camp 7, 3km Southwest of Aderaid Keep, Cainia

“You understand don’t you Boytano?” The Captain said as he sat at his campaign desk running his hand through his hair. “At your order you flooded the crypts of Dragnye… killing 54 civilians and the Duchess Forbes. I have no real choice here” he looked almost pleadingly at the blond dwarf across from him

“Aye Sir, that happened… but what of the three hundred and something civies that we rescued, and the Duke himself? It was a no-win situation sir… if we’d waited we’d be dead… Sir”

“I understand Boytano… you know I do, but she was the Employer’s Aunt, and mission critical… someone has to take the wrap here, and I’m afraid you were the ranking officer on scene” the Captain stood up and took on a more formal air “Sargent Callum Boytano, it gives me no pleasure to inform you that you are sentenced to five public lashings and a demotion to the rank of Corporal effective immediately” the Blond Dwarf stood and saluted

“Aye Sir” Callum said as the Captain waved him dismissed. He turned to leave when the Captain stopped him once more

“Boytano?”

“Yes Sir?”

“Hell of a job, Hell of a job”

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Slugging it out in Cainia Pt 4

18th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 1:49pm, Mausoleum of Dragnye Hold, Cainia

Browner came racing down the hall

“We’re done Sir, the line is foldin, boys are breaking off and on my heels… it aint pretty…” the dwarf bent over hands on his knees gasping for breath.

“Shit from the holy ass of Hithilum right on Selwyns perky chest!” Callum swore causing several of the nearby humans to make the sign of forgiveness. Callum ignored them and turned to the red bearded dwarf on his left.

“Smelts! Get down the corridor to Sims and let him know that I don’t care how deep the pits are, he needs to start digging out the wall!” Callum turned about looking for another runner “Squirrely, get down the hall and let the humans know that those bladders best be full, then past yerself to the goram Dukes left arm and don’t leave his side till the end times or further” the redheaded dwarf took off down the hall hollering at the humans to get ready for what was to come. Callum hefted his shield and drew his axe “Aight lads, our boys are coming with Holy Hell on their heels, we’re gonna slow the advance… nothing passes this point… you here me?”

“HAROO” the eight dwarves around him called as they locked shields and prepared for the rush

“Hot Stuff, Double Dare, you’re the door, get ready to let them through” Callum called, seeing the first of the dwarves wheel around the corner and race towards them. Behind them he could see several gnolls snarling as they raced after them “BY HITHILUM’S SWEATY NARDS! WE WILL HOLD!” he shouted again nearly spitting the words as they approached.

“HAAA- ROO!” the men called feeling the ground tremble as the dwarves slipped by and the gnolls closed.

BLAM

And battle was joined

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Sluggin in out in Cainia Pt 3

17th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 11:36pm, Mausoleum of Dragnye Hold, Cainia

SCRUNCH, SCRUNCH, SCRUNCH

Callum dropped the broken helmet he had been using to smash in the enemies skull and looked about at his companions. He’d lost four more humans and two of his own men. Hithliums Sweaty Clumpy Ass Hair they were screwed. That skirmish had been costly… they were having to cede more and more ground as the Black Arrows continued to move fires into the tunnels in attempts to smoke them out. Most of the civies were at the back of the tunnel system, maybe a mile away, but at this rate they would not last the night… the smoke would kill them long before the swords got a chance. Callum climbed to his feet, he reset the line and worked his way back to the next checkpoint.

“Sarg…” a brown bearded gnome greeted him as he approached the checkpoint

“What have you got for me Sims?” Callum asked thankfully taking a waterskin from one of the nearby humans and drinking deeply.

“The bad news… there’s no way with the tools and manpower we have that I am going to be able to dig vents to route the smoke out before the smoke kills us” Callum finished his drink and passed the skin back to the waiting women.

“You’re a fountain of optimism Sims, you know that?” he said. The gnome merely nodded before caring on

“There is another option however… towards the back of the crypts we found a tunnel where the back end is almost entirely clay… real soft stuff…”

“Clay? Really?”

“Yes Sir… by my guess that puts about 1.3 miles North West West from the edge of the hold, there was a fair sized pond in that area… we are probably beside or under it”

“I see…” Callum said slowly not seeing at all
“So… with the tools we have… we could try and dig out way out of here… but if we screw up at all, the entire clay wall and ceiling could give out and we will flood the tunnels and drown”

“Huh… so stay put and maybe die of smoke and sword or dig and maybe drown? Is that my choices?”

“Essentially Sir…”

“Well the way they took the inner Keep tells me that the main companies have been repelled, they likely won’t try another assault today… if we hold it will have to be for at least 24 hours, maybe more…” Callum mused

“With the rate that the smoke is pouring in, I doubt we can last more than six or seven hours sir” Sims offered

“If we dig… what are the odds, we make a mistake and flood?”

“Well… considering I don’t have any surveys on where exactly we are, and that the tunnel was built originally by humans without proper shoring, and I don’t have the proper tools or skilled workers…”

“Ya… taking all that into account”

“Good… there is a Really Really Good chance that we will flood the tunnels”

“Huh… well… how big was the pond… will it actually drown us? We have a lot of tunnels here”

“That’s an excellent question sir… I have no idea… I saw the pond in passing on the map… noted it more as a landmark case we got twisted about… I don’t know how big or deep it is”

“We could figure some of that out by looking at the map through right”

“Absolutely sir”

“Who’s got the map?”

“Markus… he died upstairs during the evact”

“Yolo’s crusty cock!” Callum swore throwing his hands up in the air. He looked around seeing the tired and scared humans, seeing the nearly exhausted and wounded Cainian and Dwarven warriors who were taking a short reprieve he took a deep breath and let it out through pursed lips

“OK Sims… here is what we’re gonna do…”

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Sluggin in out in Cainia Pt 2

17th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 4:15pm fields outside of Dragnye Hold, Cainia

“Aight boyz, you ready for this?” the newly minted Sargent Callum Boytano said to his unit. He was roaring over the din of the three pitched battles taking place. On the right flank where three companies of Banana Slugs, along with those super special 4th Dact Hammers, they were keeping the Mauraders busy. On the left and another two companies of the Slugs, duking it out with the Sons of Treefall. Then right down the centre where two more companies of Slugs and a half company of irregular humans, mostly militia type and locals who’d joined up with the Boy Prince. “So one more time, cause Thrain is an idiot and I need to make sure even he understands” Callum said making a face to let Thrain know he was joking. “We are the pick of the litter, we hold a nice tight diamond formation following hot on the heels of the 2nd Axes, ropes and grapnels at the ready, our job is to break the siege. We get to the south wall, climb it, and reinforce the wall. Those tricky frackers in the Black Arrow seem to know what we’re about, they are trying to crack the nut before we can break through and offer some relief… we are like unguent on a hemroid gents… RELIEF!” he pasued to assure his boys understood the mission then went forward. “So I know what yer thinking… IF things go to shit…”

“WHEN!” Thrain called out to the chuckles of the other men. Callum offered him a nod and conceded the point

“When things go to shit, and should the wall be breached, we are to protect as many non-coms as we can, but have priority on the Duke and his wife, no matter what we are to see them to safety… understood?”

“HAROO!” the men shouted. Callum gave them all a nod, hiked his shield up his shoulder and drew out his axe

“Give’em hell lads… give ‘em hell”

17th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 5:07pm, Dragnye Hold, Cainia

KRABOOM!

The inner doors to the keep bust open as a slow of Black Arrow Mercenaries rushed in, their curved blades wheeling cutting down the Cainian defenders.

“THRAIN! TAKE TEN MEN AND FALL BACK TO THE HALLWAY, I NEED FIVE MINUTES… YOU HOLD GODDAMNED IT!” Callum shouted as he fell back with his unit “LOGAN, CHECK THE BACK AND EAST WINDOWS… I NEED AN EXIT!” he yelled sending a dwarf racing down the halls. “THE REST OF YOU ARE WITH ME, HONOUR GUARD FOR THE DUKE… LET’S MOVE DWARVES!” he turned and launched himself up the stairs, taking them three at a time, six dwarves on his heels. “Warn the populace that we’re leaving in five, if they want to try and follow through out breech it is likely the last best chance” he called to his men. As they passed each floor a dwarf would wheel off and begin warning the occupants there to grab what they could carry and make themselves ready to leave. Callum reached the top of the stairwell and ran down the hall. The two human guards jumped as they saw him coming but quickly recognized the slug emblem and instead opened the door for him. He charged into the Duke’s quarters and skidded to a halt sucking in oxygen with each laboured breath. As he looked about the room he could see the Duke strapping on his belt with a thick rapier on it, and his wife fussing with a chain shirt she had just shrugged on. The Duke turned and looked at the intrusion questioningly. “Yer Grace…” Callum panted “… the inner door has been breached, we’re not going to be able to hold Dragnye… I’m sorry sir… my orders are to see that you and the Duchess Elizabeth are escorted safely from here” the Duke looked to the Duchess and nodded once to her

“You may escort Elizabeth out, but I have over five hundred non-combatants here in the keep… many are women and children and elderly… I will not leave them to be slaughtered” The Duke said, his voice stating clearly he didn’t wish to hear arguments. Callum ran his hand through his hair before speaking

“I feel for ya, I surly do, and I aint keen to leave anyone my own self, but with all due respect yer Dukeliness, I got my orders, and I am to see you and the Duchess here if I feel I can’t hold the keep…” as he spoke a dwarf came running up behind him

“Sir… the elves are coming over the eastern, wall… the Black Arrows have us surrounded here as the outer wall has been fully breached… there is no exit” Logan delivered his news with decorum, though there was a noticeable slump in the shoulders of the few dwarves who’d followed him up. Callum turned to the Duke letting out a long low sigh

“Well Sir… never mind that… what is the most defendable place within the inner keeper?” The Duke scratched his chin for a moment contemplating what was left

“The Mausoleum,” he stated “The hallways are long and narrow, no more than two at a time could approach from down there… but there is only one entrance and exit… should the entire keep fail we will be trapped down there”

“Aye… but we’re not exactly looking at a heap of options are we…?” Callum said turning back to his men “Logan, take Squirrely and find this Mausoleum… quick scout… get the layout, the chokes and figure out if the Duke here is right and how screwed we all might be… Spuds… Take Blush and the Good Bishop and start rallying the Non-Coms, get them into the Mausoleum right quick like… Reggie… Let Thrain know to start making a slow withdrawal to the Mausoleum entrance… we’ll meet him there” he was met to a flood of

“Aye Sirs” as the dwarves took off to their appointed tasks

“Duke Forbes? Duchess? If you will please be followin me” Callum said in the kindest voice he could muster.

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Slugging it Out in Cainia Pt 1

14th of Floodtime 383 ONT, Thenton Ridges North of Aderaid Keep, Cainia

“SARG!” Callum of Clan Durin screamed pulling down a private beside him as he ducked behind a log. The situation was normal, ALL FRACKED UP. The Fightin Banana Slugs had just reached Aderaid Keep two days before, because of a case serious case of Hithilums Pit Sweat his unit got spun right around on a northern patrol along the Ridge Line. It should have been the 4th Hammers on the patrol, lazy bums arrived a week and a half ago and have been sitting on guard duty ever since. Anyway, the unit finished a six day patrol march, and just as they were coming in what does the good old Captain happen to spot, A Hithilum be damned Evil Mother Frackin Eye, spiritin away straight from Aderaid. Well you can be damned sure that the 4th Hammers didn’t notice it, so lickity split the Captain breaks the unit into squads and sends em into pursuit, those things are fast, dangerous and known spies for the Marauders.

Squads can move pretty quick; and Callums Unit managed to cut the Fracker off, that’s when things went south of Hithilums Nethers. The eye didn’t keep running, nah, it turned and decided a squad of Dactylians was no biggy.

BZZZZZD

The Captain, and the LT got hit with this damned beam, next thing we know, they are drawing weapons and turning on us. That’s when the Sarg stepped up the plate.

“5th and 6th Slugs with me, everyone else hedge in our men; try not to hurt them, just take the fight outta them” When the Sarg says jump, you don’t even ask how high you just keep going up till he says stop. We charged forward after the Evil Eye bringing it into the clearing… not sure what the Sarg’s plan was, he stood up to bark an order when

BZZZD

Little red beam hits the Sarg, his scream matched my own, then his body seemed to burn from the inside out as he turned to ash in front of us. I pulled down the Private beside me again

“Keep Yer Frackin Head….”

BZZZZD

Poor bastard turned to stone right then and there; things were going from bad to worse right quick like.

“Boys, eyes down and shields up don’t be looking at the Fracker! Form Up on me… GO!” I shouted trying to sound brave, looking at their feet I saw I had about 11 men with me, Hithliums Stains, that was bad, there should have been at least nine more.

“How will we know where it is….” One of them asked, good frackin question… I felt a shutter of something hit my shield, whatever it was seem to burn into it, several layers of the wood wore through and it felt noticeably lighter. I risked a glance up. The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky… bright blue skies, a perfect Floodtime Day.

“Watch for the shadow Gents… easy and forward” tentatively our line advanced… every few seconds we would feel something hit our shields, but still the line moved forward… I could see the shadow on the ground.

“Why ain’t it, running Callum? … it could have got away by now” I recognized the voice, it was Thrain, a younger fella in my Unit.

“It ain’t Runnin cause it thinks it’s won already. It aint runnin cause it thinks that the Fightin Banana Slugs are gonna just let it waltz out of the Keep we was charged with protectin.”

“Cal…” another Private spoke up “Don’t ya think we ought to let this one go?… join up with another company and take it down with some support?….” They all felt another shudder on their shields. Callum knew his window was closing fast, the men were ready to run, and that would assuredly mean their end as they were picked off running through the clearing.

“Ya think Commander Ironhide’d run? Or even the human Forbes fella? Are ya thinkin that they’d turn tale at the sight of this Ugly Fracker?…” he didn’t wait for them to answer “Are we not soldiers? Are we not the 3rd Dact Axes, and the Fightin Banana Slugs to boot? Reach down into yer trousers and take hold of yer courage boys, cause I ain’t runnin, and this Frackers gonna become well acquainted with the business end of me axe…”

“HARROO” the men stomped in unison resetting their shields

“On three boys… one… two… THREE!”

Three minutes later it was over, Callum Boytano, last of the house Boytano, Thrain and three other privates stomped out of that clearing, there were no wounded to carry, so instead they dragged the dead creature, it would be studied, the good Dactylians of their company did not die for nothing.

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Logistics

Flit Stared in shock at the list and read down the first two pages once more

- Main Compass

- Charts for Lower Rhone, Upper Promethean, Pirates Swoop, Honastican shore basin, Easter Seaboard and Elven Islands

- Ship Logbooks x 12

- Sextant

- Plotting Kit

- Spyglass x 2

- Mast Pegs x 3 masts

- Ships Flag Set x 1

- Storm Sails x 2

- Drifter Sail x 1

- Extra sail cloth x 6 bolts

- Sewing kits x 7

- Thread 2.3 km

- Life boat x 1

- Pulleys and winches x 7 pair

- Collapsible Crane x 1

- Hammocks and Bedding x 20

- Officer Bedding x 10

- Captain Bedding x 1

- Soap x 3 lbs

- Cutlery x 35

- 2 pot sets

- Cook utensils x 3

- Knife sets x 2

- Baking trays

- Mixing bowls

- Plates, bowls, mugs

- Glassware for officers

- Buckets, rags, scrub brushes

- Kettles and coffee pots

- Shipwright tools x 3 sets

- Rope – lots

- Bumpers lines

- Safety lines

Bronwyn had taken on Mandy’s list and then added to it substantially then had pared down the twenty three page document to a mere six pages. It was an intimidating look, and the Quartermaster was adamant that this list was the absolute minimum required in order to safely set sail for a month to the elven lands. There were many other things she would like but was understanding that money was tight. Flit ran his hand over his head, they hadn’t even hired a cook yet… had not even started a grocery list… how did Thitmid and Belinda fund these expeditions. The list had a 2700gp value on it. He’d checked the prices, they were good, allot of the items being bought second hand or being gathered though her connections in port… still that was 2200gp more than he had budgeted for this. The Cargo was at least looking promising; Bronwyn seemed to think that she could get about eight tons of leather scrap for the 5000gp he had, and that at the current exchange she could probably double it in High Port. That also left him about 4k of storage space on the ship, she mentioned that if he had the capital to put another 4k into it, she could fill about three tons of storage space and earn them a 1.5k profit for the deal. With the new expenses he doubted he had that kind of money, he may have to just settle for the leather and hope to have more capital come High Port. He shook his head, unsure of what to do next.

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Here and Away
5th of floodtime

Dear Flitt

Thank you for your staunch support while I addressed the crew this afternoon, knowing that I can count on you to Captain our beautiful new ship to Lockland make this trip easier. I became emotional during our talk so I thought I’d write everything down in case I missed anything. Although I have loaned out my extra rugs and blankets so everyone has something to sleep on I expect them back in pristine condition.
I have spoken to Aurelia about using the chest as quarters for the ships guards please work out the best location with her. I suggest my cabin.
When you get to Lockland please aim for no more then 10 days in port.
While you are there I need you and Aurelia to hire a crew 200 gold should cover the hiring on costs. If you are able to find a competent quartermaster 500 gold should cover supplies and stocking the ship (please include hammocks and bedding so I can have mine back before I return)
Also, you will need to secure cargo something legal for our first run going to Honastis or High port. Once we get to my vineyard we will have plenty of cargo but we need to pay our way down. Remember due to the special nature of our Hold we can handle far more delicate cargo then another ship. (please impress upon every crew member the dangers of bring any sort of extra dimensional space into the hold)
I have set aside up to 5000 gold to secure cargo.
We also need to rebrand our ship so we are not easily picked out by Omar’s. I believe my goddess will do a wonderful job and I know she will help the entire crew feel involved, and take pride in their new home.
Can you do me a personal favor? Can you please have someone check on the Were? I need to know what echo did to Versum. Please remember my oath to the people if they need aid we must provide it. If their pack is to small offer them free passage. Maybe you can make contact with the Bard I hired to improve the publics image of the Were who protect them. His name is Sam Smith and he should be staying in touch with the pack.
My journey will take me about 30 days and I should be able to meet up with you near pirates’ swoop.
I know I already said this but be safe I will see you all very soon.

Love Thalion

P.S. please remind Maddox not to fret I promised I would not reveal that he was a cat (even a competent and noble one) I always keep my promises.

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Say Something

“Say something,” Miriel asked Prancer; they’d been talking about if he was going to come with the Boot or if she would stay in Cainia, but from the beginning of the conversation he seemed distant and unwilling to talk, which was very unlike her beloved. Something was going on in that wonderful mind of his – something that she wasn’t going to like.

“I’m giving up on you…” he whispered.

She sighed, not catching his words, and turned to the mirror in his chambers, taking the brush to her hair once again. “I’ll be the one if you want me to…”

“Anywhere I would’ve followed you…”

“Say something…”

“I’m giving up on you.”

Miriel snapped to attention, staring at Prancer’s image in the mirror in confusion, watching as he put a hand up in the signal he’d explained meant to wait before speaking, in Human.

“And I…” he stopped for a moment, anguish apparent on his face as he struggled inwardly. “I’m feeling so small. It was over my head, I know nothing at all. And I…will stumble and fall.”

Miriel whipped around, stumbling towards him and shaking her head violently. “I’m still learning to love; just starting to crawl.” When he didn’t look at her, she fell at his feet, grasping his hands in hers. “Say something – ”

“I’m giving up on you.”

Tears slipped down her cheeks and she slowly released his fingers from her grasp. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you.” She rose, turning slowly to look at the room they’d just made love in, a room she’d felt would be one she would’ve taken his troubles away. “Anywhere I would’ve followed you…Say something – ”

“I’M GIVING UP ON YOU!”

Miriel took a step backwards, his words a blow to her heart, and she had to stop herself from keening in pain. Memories of them laughing on the ship, flying on the wind, and embracing everywhere and anywhere broke over her senses, and she searched his face – and found it mirrored her own.

A thought came to her, and she paused; she knew why he was doing this. Tentatively she reached forward and cupped his cheek with her right hand. “And I…will swallow my pride.”

Prancer’s eyes filled with tears and he himself grabbed her hand, bringing it to his lips and brushing her skin with kisses. “You’re the one that I love,” he said gently.

She nodded her understanding, letting her hand fall. “And I’m saying goodbye.” She turned and began to gather her things. There wasn’t much there, she thought idly, she hadn’t given herself time to move in. He had his people to think about it now and she couldn’t live with herself if that meant he had to choose between them and her…because she knew he’d pick her…and it would kill him.

“Say something…” he began, his hands now clenched into fists, as if warring with himself on his decision.

“I’m giving up on you.” She opened the door to his room and stepped out. “And I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you. And anywhere I would’ve followed you.”

“Oh…Oh…say something!” He took a step forward but she raised her hand. He couldn’t go with her, had too much here to finish…

“I’m giving up on you,” she replied, mind made up. She looked back at him, just outside the door.

“I’m giving up on you,” he repeated dully, his arms hanging at his sides, resigned.

Say something…

“I love you Harold Forbes of Cainia.”

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Anger Leads to Violence

Sonsday the 7th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 4:22pm, The Island of Oakenglen, 12 miles South East of Isles Wood

Grand Druid Caius Degryll stepped through the rocky terrain and approached the loam heavy cave at the edge of a small pool. He took in the methane and rotting scents in the air and shuddered, this was not his terrain of choice, nor would he elect to spend more time here then need be.

ARRRRRRRP, an ancient willow near the cave mouth groaned and twisted as a tree-stride spell completed. Out came a balding man with grey whiskers and a heavy brow
“Arch Druid Fraxious, it is about time you arrived” the Grand Druid began being sure that his displeasure at being kept waiting was known.

“My apologies Grand Druid” the lesser druid said, bringing two fingers to his lips, then his forehead then offering them out in the traditional druid greeting. “My tardiness could not be helped” the Grand Druid took a long appraising look at Fraxious and gritted his teeth as her quickly returned the gesture.

“Come along then, let us get this over with” he said as he expressly strode toward the cave. The cavern was damp and filled with the heavy aroma of bog gas, fresh fungus and rotting meat, making an altogether unpleased bouquet that stuck to ones tongue. They turned a few times through the cave system, noting scratch marks and burns on the cavern walls and floor and finally turned into the main chamber. It was large, some three hundred feet around with a tall ceiling reaching near fifty feet. The roof was pock marked with small holes that moss had grown over filling the room with eerie streams of green light. The back end of the room had a large putrid pool that no doubt led outside through the murky russet water of the swamps, not far from it, half submerged lay three dead bronze dragons. Youth or adult age if Caius’s guess was right. Towards the back a small Green Dragon, maybe the size of a large dog feasted upon one of the fallen bronze. Tiny blade marks around the neck of the nearest gave clues as to how the creatures had died. Sprinkled around the room mounded towards the left hand wall were piles of treasure, mostly tarnished silver or moss incrusted gilded goblets and swords. In the centre of the room perched atop a half rotted gold inlaid podium sat Lord Shepard. The Waylen did not look up, as he appeared to concentrating and lost in mediations. On the ground in a small pool of unknown liquid lay six of the nine sigils. Minding the small tarns of acid marked into the floor Caius made his way towards Lord Shepard, Fraxious a few feet behind him.

“Lord Shepard” Caius opened, but the small creature held up a single finger to stop him
“You have come to report failure Caius” the impossibly deep voice of the small Waylen pronounced, still his gaze never leaving the sigils.

“That would be Grand Druid Caius, Lord Shepard, and no, at long last the false druid Emerys is dead!”

“and you feel this deserves praise Caius?” the Waylen enquired, his voice steady, it was impossible to predict where he was going with his line of questioning or if he was angry or perhaps accepting. Annoyance bubbled over in Caius

“As stated Lord Shepard, I am Grand Druid Caius Degryll, Master of the Suzuki Grove, Bearer of the Holly Crown and Master of the Scimitar of the Lasting Dawn. You will address me as Grand Druid, or Your Honour, failing that, you will hold your tongue!” he felt it was important to re-establish their relationship as formal and not of subordinance. The Waylen at long last removed his gaze from the sigils and turned standing up on the lectern. He stood at near chest height of the two men. His helm obscured his face and his breathing was even. Caius sensed that perhaps he should move on and change the subject. “Now… Lord Shepard, Arch Druid Fraxious has been…” that was as far as he got as the Waylen reached out both his hands, from the left gauntleted hand shot forth a current of purple and blue lightening sizzling and frying the Grand Druid. Unlike a spell where the lighting would hit you and end, this one was maintained and worked around his magical defenses. The Waylen held his right hand slowly closing it to make a fist in a crushing motion. Fraxious found himself lifted from the ground and choking as he watched the elder druid be continually stuck by lightening. The power was awesome to behold and terrifying when one considered who wielded it.

“I will call you whatever I damn well choose! You would be wise to humbly accept whatever name that is…. WONT YOU!” his voice boomed with the last two words sending an increased jolt of lightening and applying further pressure on Fraxious neck, the arch druids vision was beginning to blur.

“Yes… Yes…” The Grand Druid groveled falling to his knees

“Yes, what?” Shepard asked anger now apparent in his voice

“Yes… My Lord…” Caius gasped… and with that the lightening stopped and Fraxious dropped to the ground gasping for breath.

“The form you wear now appears to be too pretentious Caius, you have clearly forgotten your place… perhaps something that will remind you of where you stand.” The helmeted head turned its gaze towards Fraxious “You, you are an omnivore, correct?” the Arch Druid was disoriented but nodded his head “What is that meat that your races pines for, the one they insist on putting on everything?” both Caius and Fraxious looked confused but not wanting to anger the Waylen further Fraxious offered and answer

“Bacon? My Lord” he gasped, his voice hoarse from his windpipe nearly being crushed
“Yes… Bacon… Caius, from now on we will conduct our meetings with you in the form of a LITTLE…” with each final word he let a little bolt of lightning out “… PINK… PIG!” wincing in pain the Grand Druid tried to muster what minute dignity he had left

“Lord Shepard… if we could please AHHHHH!” Lightening zapped into him and continued to fry him until at last the Grand Druid relented and shape shifted into the form of a small pink pig. Once he had taken the form only then did Shepard stay his attack. The Waylen inhaled deeply his helmeted gaze locked on the little pig.

“You are right Fraxious, he does smell good enough to eat” at this the Green Dragon looked up from its meal half interested, but after a few heartbeats in continued to tear the bronze dragon carcase to pieces.

“Lord Shepard… Please…” Caius said, being a druid of his power he could still speak in animal form

“Behave Caius, at this juncture you are more useful to me alive then dead…. Barely” Shepard responded looking down from his podium at the small pig, and the man on his knees a little way past him. He studied the two but now seeing no further challenges he commenced the meeting proper “Emery’s is dead, of course he is… I know this because I sent Teriovus to see that it was done!” the helmed Waylen took a step forward on the lectern. “Where are my Sigils, where are the final three? Why must I spoon feed these to you?”

Caius couldn’t help a small piggly snuffle before he spoke “We proceed my Lord, the Strix lose ground nearly every day… our druids rip their ancient trees to the ground to search for the sigils, it is only a matter of time before we have won and the remaining sigils are ours”

“And what will you do if the Bellator Libra comes to stop you?” Shepard intoned in a deep voice

“Bellator Libra… he is dead sir, Emerys is dead, I confirmed this myself”

“The Clava have an ancient belief that one known as the Bellator Libra will save their people from doom, it is they who believed that Emerys was their precious saviour… what have I told you about the Clava?”

“You… you don’t think Emrys is this person?” Fraxious asked, a tinge of electricity danced on Shepard’s finger tips in a not to subtle reminder not to interrupt, but the Waylen chose to answer the question

“The Clava are idiots, a foolish barbarous mistake that evolution has yet to correct, there is no Bellator Libra, or what they call Warrior of Balance. There is however “a courageous one who will balance the scales, a warrior who balances between life and death, and one who returns the weave to balance” Shepard paused for a moment “Whether this is one man or three, Waylen or druid, or even something else… I have yet to know, but I don’t believe if coincidence, the weave reveals much to me, and I am no so foolish to let down my guard when I am so close to achieving all my dreams… I take these matter seriously” he began to pace on his podium “My mount requires much of my attention…” he gestured towards the green dragon “I have done much for you Caius… Was it not I who fixed the chair so you could sit on it? Was it not I who hunted down those who opposed you and had them silenced? Was it not I who secured the power of the druids by sending you the wealth of the Littles? And all too often I have asked for you to merely stay out of my affairs.” He paced more quickly as his gaze roamed the room before settling once more on the pig “I find it hard to believe that such stupidity runs so rampant in your order Caius… these near barbarous creatures are on the verge of being classified as ‘dull’ and yet you fool around with ridiculous notions like boarders and laws. Things created by weak men designed to protect and empower weak men.”

“My Lord…” Caius said in an appeasing tone, he did not get further as lightening flung down singeing the piggy and eliciting an involuntary squeal of pain

“I WANT MY SIGILS! I WANT THE GUARD MICE TRULY DEAD! PUSHED BEYOND THE VEIL AND SEALED, NEVER TO AGAIN RETURN! I WANT THE STRIX GENOCIDE COMPLETE BY THE FALL EQUINOX! Not a single one left on Argyle… gone, forever forgotten” his gaze shifted between the two druids as his voice dropped to a menacing whisper

“If a single moment of the 18th of Harvester passes without this being done, you will become the meal of my newly hatched mount” a long silence stretched on before Shepard spoke again “Caius… this form suits you… never appear before me again outside of that form, should I see you in any other…” he let the threat hang there. Finally he turned back towards the sigils, sitting at the edge of the podium once more, his mind reached out with the weave to the sigils… for what cause one could only guess at. His hand reached out and made a shoeing gesture dismissing the druids. Who quickly fled the cave and left the Waylen to his dark deeds

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Then and Now a LITTLE perspective Pt 2

NOW

6th of Floodtime, 383 ONT, 2:19am Glenrummy Gorge, 27k south of Lockland Keep

Icarus opened his wings allowing the air in the gorge to fill them, the wind spun him backwards as he twisted, his wing blades a flurry of death as he clipped one of the two crows that dogged him still. He folded in once more and fell into a dive, letting out a shriek to confirm that his other enemy was hot on his heels. That meant it was still being goaded, this was no Avian, these were dulls being pushed by their master to do their dastardly deeds. He ended his dive within seven inches of the water, as close as he dared in unknown lands at this hour, gliding over the silver bubbling surface of Glenrummy Creek. He heard a splash and a spluttering as it sounded like his pursuer had not been so graceful on ending his dive. He let out two quick shrills and grinned to himself as an image of the cliffs came to his mind, with a tight left and three quick flaps he spiraled upwards and launched himself towards a small hole in the cliff wall, as soon as he was in he landed and crawled a bit deeper.

PECK PECK

Just in time to… the crow had managed to land nearby, but as suspected it could not fit in the cave. A quick call in both directions showed the cave spanned into a deeper network, and widened after a while. Icarus looked back over his shoulder, he certainly wouldn’t be exiting that way anytime soon, so crawling it was. As he pulled himself through the narrow space he began to think about everything that had brought him here.

The Bellator Libra was dead, Anya was dead, Meagre was injured and had fallen in battle against Shepard, he was on outlaw in Arbour-Portum, and the Suzuki’s had finally made there moves public, there druids now hunted he and his. He stopped tears welling in his eyes as he thought back to everything that had happened… how could he have been so wrong… if Emerys had not been the Bellator Libra… then who was? Who was the warrior of balance who had been little and big, who had straddled life and death and would bring them to victory? If Meagre Pickens wasn’t the one to slay Lord Shepard who was? Perhaps Daedalus was right, perhaps the fates had turned from this prophecy when his brother had died, no matter what he did, he would always be a second son, and a failure. He crawled further through the tunnels waiting until they opened wide enough that he could fly. They took off letting a few calls direct him through the dark cave system. Prophecy and truth didn’t matter anymore. He had fifty two refugees who needed protection, needed someone to save them… needed some BIG help. He had heard the Avenging Angel of Avengence had moved to Lockland Keep, he at least knew of the littles, knew of the plight, and might be willing to stop the felines from destroying these poor people. If that didn’t work… well then his hope for the people of Thistledown was lost.

The cave opened wider finally leaving a shred of moonlight peeking through some boulders her turned and spurred onwards flying towards Lockland… hoping he could find help there.

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