The Undiscovered Country

The Babe

The mother’s attention wavered, distracted by the other adults nearby. In that second of inattention, the baby crawled off quickly into the nearby bushes, before it could be stopped. It held in an excited gurgle as if it knew that any outburst would lead to discovery. Deeper into the undergrowth it headed. It couldn’t yet understand the meaning of the words in its head, but they were like a beacon leading it and enticing it onwards.

After some time, it broke out of the denser grasses, onto the edge of a clearing. Gripping a nearby tree trunk, it shakily pulled itself onto its feet and toddled arms outstretched towards a tall, beautiful, young man, stood by a throne.

“There you are, little one!” he greeted, his voice rich with promise. He picked the unsteady child up and held it close. “You’re a spirited creature…and always come when I call,” he added proudly. “Hmm – I think you have my eyes!”

He smiled a smile that was both welcoming and devious. “I have plans for you my child. Soon there will be much for you to do, much for you to learn,” he tapped the child’s nose teasingly, making it chuckle. “Remember – you are mine! No matter where you go, I will be with you,” he promised reassuringly.

“Just fear me and love me…” he added softly, his fingers trapped in chubby palms, “…and do as I say!”

In the distance he heard a shrill call of “Where is the child?” Gently, he lowered the babe back onto its unsteady feet and, with a hand in its chin, stared deep into its silvery eyes. “I will give you your dreams.”

Straightening up, he loomed over the small child and ordered “Go back to your mother! For now!”

The child, with slightly tearful eyes, gave a tiny wave of a hand and wobbled back to the edge of the clearing, before tipping forward into a crawl and disappearing.

The beautiful man sat back into a lounge on his throne, a mysterious smile playing on his lips.

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A Mind, not a Weapon

Mortimer woke with a start, He hadn’t realised he was tired, after all he’d slept about 16 hours in the last 24… not that he thought anyone could have slept with the roaring dragon that appeared to be behind him. He glanced back. Lobash, oh yes, one of the last truly trustworthy squadmates he could rely on. On that note, time to stop hiding (he hated those times) and think.

There was a silent pop of black mist and Lobash snored on.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Mortimer woke with a start, He hadn’t realised he was tired, after all he’d slept about… oh who knew any more… in the last 24…

It was the hour just before dawn by his guess,

“Hello darkness, my old friend”

Without thinking about it he waved a hand toward the lamp, it ignited and cast it’s yellow radiance that played across the familiar quarters in the tower.

“Heh… dey always used to freeze when I did dat”

A few hours ago he would have found this evolution of his magics disturbing, but sleeping on his nighttime meditations given him a kind of calm, after last night’s hysterics.

The peace of the grave…

Slept on, literally, because not for the first time mortimer had slept face down on a desk festooned with unrolled scrolls, covered in complex indecipherable notes of a genius level intellect. Symbols, circles and true names connected by powerful lines and links.

Only there was no magic here. No Existential Markup made up on these pages. They were instead the workings of a brilliant mind that had been brought up a soldier, never stopping to think.

On a half dozen sheets in the center of the desk was a chronology, compiled from extensive historical reading of the events in the West, the East (thanks to twenty of Rufus’s books that lay in a pile to the right of the desk), and current affairs, from a simple recon mission that had brought him in contact with a dragon born from a world beyond the deserts, and a black amulet.

Over there, a list of names of those he had fought aside against the forces of the Horde and it’s various sorcerous leaders. He wasn’t a sentimental Gnome, by any account, but he was a soldier, and he recognised there were far too many names crossed off on this list. More still had question marks next to them: Anariee? Kai? Krom? Drum? … it ended with: Johnothan… if dead, where body? who is the halfling with Noname? do breeders move on that fast (this is asterisked with: “insufficient data”)

The Bard had been circled and noted with an index to another paper. “He warned! Didn’t listen, more than one enemy!”

Over here, another list. Allied Actors and Sources of Extranormal power:

Entries included:

  • Mortimer Greysproket, Vizier, Clousus, Master Burne (D) etc; manipulation of inherent Arcane forces of this Plane through decades of practicle study. [note, spell books, scrolls, focuses etc]
  • Tuakin: unknown, seemed pure martial power, now supernatural, no known deity, -probably a dragon thing-
  • Bard: inherited arcane sensitivity expressed through applied harmonics.
  • Carig: Patron: Asmodeus [when alive] – noticible dip in power when moved to the West until ‘A’ was semi-raised.
  • Necromancy fan-girl: practices match those associated with As’ – power persists after the destruction of Hell, questions!!!!
Now he read “Jack”
  • Jack: WHY SUDDENLY HOSTILE?! No evidence of study, assumed innate magical ability, but this wouldn’t survive being placed in the body of a grunt soldier early on. No evidence of religious devotion (even compared to oneself). Otherworldly patron?
  • The One – deceased. Not his style from readings.
  • Asmodeus – Fits, No evidence of dawn rituals, we practitioners would have known?
  • Acerorak – was present in the tomb! Convert? Did he touch any vessel containing soul?!
  • Mushroom Demon – that was just an inflicted dream!
  • Fae? Realm under threat? Rhema, Vani, Kai, new kid Sal(?) All elf/fae alien actors in group?(!!)

Mortimer lifted a sheet he found his quill still lying on. In large letters underlined three times (something he flinched at even now, what had he been thinking?) was

NOT POSSIBLE!
“got the idea to try and recreate the meteor siege spell from childhood,

EVEN IF IMMORTALITY ACHIEVED, CAN’T INFLUENCE CHILD SELF!”

This last line is underscored so much it has torn a hole in the page.

“I really wasn’t myself…..”

He inked the quill and wrote on a fresh sheet:

‘Multiple enemies’

“Horde” – what is there motive now? Acerorak dead, Clausus dead, what is dragon boy doing this for? Why fight on? Parlaey?

“Realm” – Defectors obviously false, conspiracy to overthrow king Burnes served, Bard’s said father is evil, what ever outcome, he must die. Honest ruler needed.

Orks, Loyalty?

Faewyld – apparently real, apparently under threat, what will that drive alien minds too?

Hell: coming back?

Finally he tore a strip off the parchment and wrote frantically:

“You’re a soldier, not an artillery piece! You’ve demonstrated your power, scout and abduct dragon boy. Chat in the wastes, why is he still fighting, what could he want? Tuakin could break him if he keeps calm.

Shelling enemy is limited use, (and exhausting), infiltrate and assassinate leadership? Teleport circle mines – Lobash can cast metal! ?

Poison one race, sow seeds of discontent, lobash might militarize ‘oppressed’ group?”

He paused. The quill hovered over the torn piece… he relented, dried it, folded it. He rolled the scrolls.

Placed them into his bag.

“Hold on to this” he asked it’s contents. He trusted they would hold on to his notes with suitable… rigor…

On a discarded scrap of parchment he added:
“get the hell out, no side can be trusted, last few friends are acting crazy. Raise an army, secure asset, follow Acerorak’s plan; secure research space and protect?”

He looked at the words and picked up the piece…

He even had blueprint, a nearly impenetrable ‘tomb’ fortress, shut himself away, continue his research? Why should he care what Human claimed to rule the land, as long as his lair was suitably impenetrable?

He paused for what seemed like an eternity, looking at the note.

His three fingered hand crushed the note and rammed it into the pocket of his robe.

Not now, not yet, now it was time to be a soldier again. There was an impossible war to win, but… that was the only kind he knew.

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Season 7 Session 6

The scouts manage to locate the enemy horde – it isn’t exactly difficult – but it is large and they are only able to clearly see the squads on one flank. While they are on their way back, Venomfang swoops down to the farmhouse. She converses with Tuakiin, and you don’t need to be fluent in Draconic to tell she is unimpressed. The fact that Tuakiin is skulking out in this farmhouse indicates to her that the deal she made to fight for the city is worthless – and she doesn’t seem inclined towards easily forgiving people who she thinks have messed her around…

With Tuakiin’s efforts to get Venomfang onside by telling tales of Javier’s abuse of dragon eggs clearly failing, Mortimer steps in. He argues convincingly that it was he who brokered the deal between Venomfang and the Vizier, and that deal still stands notwithstanding their subsequent travel from Theria on military business. Venomfang accepts this, but nonetheless demands tribute from all three present – Tuakin, Mortimer and Lubash – to compensate her for the inconvenience of having to come here out of her way.

Tuakiin offers the fine gems from his armour. Venomfang wants the gems, armour and all, and will not be bargained down. Reluctantly, Tuakiin misty steps out of his armour, appearing naked beside it as it clatters to the ground. Mortimer produces one of the gems of great value that he obtained in the Tomb of horrors, and this is enough to mollify Venomfang as far as he is concerned. Lubash, however, has no fancy gems to give, only a few coins, and he knows this will be insufficient. Instead, he offers up his warhammer, made by his father and passed down to him. It is a crude weapon, but one of great personal value to Lubash. Indeed, Venomfang declares it the greatest gift of them all, and flies off with her new loot, leaving the adventurers in peace.

No sooner has she gone than Illyria and Sal arrive. Illyria’s cheerful greeting of “What’s up, bitches?” is met with silence, and she contents herself with appreciating Tuakiin’s naked posterior while Sal reports on the disposition of the enemy. Eventually, the others explain the Venomfang situation, and they decide to make camp within the barn. Lubash thoughtfully clears away the straw to avoid a fire hazard.

Over supper, Illyria speaks to the party. She reminds them of the lesson of Yule, that they must work together as a team instead of closing themselves off from each other. As it stands, whichever side wins this war will want to kill the party afterward, but if they can stop the enemy horde before it reaches Theria they might win the gratitude of the King. She asks that everyone say what they can bring to the fight, and right now it seems that Mortimer’s new-found ability to summon meteors from the sky is their best way of striking the enemy.

They establish a plan – Mortimer will teleport himself and Illyria to within a mile of the horde, where he will call down meteors. As soon as the spell is cast, Illyria will plane shift them both into the Grey Wastes, and Mortimer will immediately plane shift again, taking them back to camp. There is only one difficulty. Mortimer has never seen the area he is teleporting to – only Illyria and Sal saw it on their scouting mission.

It is not easy to creep Mortimer out, but Illyria manages it when she tells him not to worry, she can show him in a dream. Nonetheless,he agrees to go for a nap to allow Illyria to invade him unconscious mind, and such have been the travails of the day he nods off almost instantly. When he is sound asleep, Illyria begins her spell.

Mortimer dreams that he is in the great hall of the elf-queen’s palace in the Shining City. It is deserted, apart from Jack, who is standing in front of him with a bag. Jack opens the bag and lets Mortimer look inside, revealing an utterly black globe – like the mouth of the carved devil’s head in the Tomb of Horrors. Mortimer declines to reach inside, and Jack gives him a royal wave.

Then he hears heels clicking towards him on the marble floor, and Illyria is behind him. Jack disappears, and the palace transforms into a landscape in northern Arnest. This is a vision of where Illyria and Sal saw the horde, and Illyria points out a twisted tree on a hill and a high ruined tower, landmarks which should be close enough to the horde for Mortimer’s spell. After taking this in, Mortimer demands that Illyria bring Jack back, but alas she can only provide an illusion of Jack that simply smiles and royal waves over and over again.

A bucket of cold water wakes Mortimer, and he is ready to go. He decides to aim his teleport at the ruined tower – specifically, behind the ruined tower, for safety. The party decide it would be best of they all went together on this mission, just in case something goes wrong.

Something goes wrong.

Instead of the ruined tower, Mortimer accidentally brings them to the only other tower he knows – the tower of Hommlet. Hs former quarters to be precise. Tuakiin and Lubash recognise it instantly, and when they tell Illyria they are in Hommlet she has scathing remarks to make about the local pub.

There is a knock at the door. It’s Jack. Mortimer is too pleased to see his old friend to ask too many questions about how he came to be here, and soon they all go to meet Rufus, who is now master of the tower. He is still in Burne’s body, but he tells Mortimer that everyone in Hommlet knows his true identity. Rufus has a melancholy demeanour these days, but is happy to help the party and arranges for Tuakiin to obtain a new suit of armour.

It being rather late, the party decide to sleep and try their plan again in the morning. They all bed down in the tower, and once in bed Illyria tries to reach out with her mind and contact Asmodeus, whose presence she felt during her morning ritual. It doesn’t work, and she spends the night in a delirious sweat. To avoid Illyria’s muttering, Sal looks for somewhere else to sleep – discovering an abandoned, trashed room that seemed to have once been the quarters of an elf, she helps herself to some items and beds down for the night.

In the morning, after their usual rituals, they assemble for another attempt, but this time they will go through the Grey Wastes first, and then teleport back to Hommlet. Jack is initially reluctant, saying that Mortimer has brought him back from the Grey Wastes three times now, and he has no wish to go back, but eventually he accepts the plan.

This time, nothing goes wrong. Mortimer brings them to the shadow of the twisted tree, and Illyria drops them straight back into the real world. Sal climbs the tree and hauls Mortimer up on a rope to give him a better view, whereupon Mortimer produces four pebbles, flings them into the air with a trail of magical light, and four flaming meteors crash down upon the horde, killing hobgoblins by the hundreds. Descending as quickly as possible, Mortimer casts his teleport spell and soon they are all safely back in the tower of Hommlet.

In the Welcome Wench, where the party go to relax despite the rampant inflation caused by the present crisis, Mortimer is mainly drunk on his own power, at once delighted that the spell worked and aghast at the scale of the destruction it caused. Nonetheless, Illyria is keen that they should repeat the attack as soon as Mortimer is able, and he goes off to sleep and recover.

Late that afternoon, they are ready to go again. The horde will doubtless have spent the day marching, but during the last attack they saw a rocky outcrop in the distance that would be a suitable vantage point. They arrive, and four more pebbles rise into the air, and four more meteors come down. The horde have dispersed themselves somewhat in response to the previous attack, but still lose hundreds more of their members to fiery crushing death. Indeed, a careful observer would probably conclude that the horde was by now down to about 83% of its original strength.

A great red dragon some distance away swings round in the sky towards the party, but they teleport away while it is still far off. Back in Hommlet, the party try to relax in the Welcome Wench before bed, but Mortimer is even more troubled than before. Meteor storms were used to devastate armies in his homeland, allowing the battlemages to take control, and Mortimer is now distressed at the possibility that, by using this spell now, it is he who brought this power into existence. Lubash tries to reassure him, arguing that it’s not possible, but Jack is far from reassuring. He tells Mortimer “Yes, it is all your fault,” and then vanishes, leaving Mortimer to his troubles.

That night, Illyria tries again to contact her lord. She reaches out with her mind – and finds herself in a room, where a dark-haired, sharply dressed man is sitting. He greets her with his usual devilish charm.

That night Sal opens her mind once more to her lord – to see if he has further instructions for her. He is busy, so she awaits his pleasure with customary patience.

In the Feywild, the Summer King holds court on his throne. Before him stands Jack, who assures him he has been sowing chaos. The Summer king approves, and walking with Jack informs him of his plan to step down soon, and assures Jack that he will be the next Summer King.

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Inside the dust covers
The books of 'The Bard' school of art and music

A peek inside the dust coves of book required for ‘The Bard’ school of music and Art.
please see letter Congratulations.

Edwin’s Adventures in Interpretive dance
Join Edwin on an inspirational journey through the dangerous world of dance.
Discover the moves that bring pleasure and pain. Bring down hordes and inspire entire army’s.

‘The Bard’ banging book of beets
Ch1 Crowd pleasers – music to earn money
Ch2 Inspiring music
Ch3 Battle music
Ch4 Deadly music
– The devils chord
– The brown note
– Thunder wave
– Sonic boom
Ch5 Finding your own song

Good Vibrations
Healing with the bardic arts. beating a drum or painting a picture. Tapping into the vibrations of the universe to heal and mend.

capturing Conceptual Art
With great power comes great responsibility.
Ch1 The history of pleasure
Ch2 Art of Adversity
Ch3 Rebellious Artisan’s: Fighting the system with cubism
Ch4 The Dark arts of propaganda and the deadly use of watercolour
Ch5 Sacred Sculpting

History and philosophy
Ch1 History of music from Wind-Speaker to ‘The Bard’
Ch2 Choosing your instrument
Ch3 Wind and string theory
Ch4 Crowd Flow
Ch5 Philosophy and ethics of manipulation

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Congratulations

Dear musician,
we are pleased to inform you that you have a place at ‘The Bard’ School of Music and Art.
Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
(Be advised as the school is a charitable institution, students unable to afford the list below should apply to the school directly for help.)

First years require
Empty music sheets
Any instrument
Dancing robes
Formal jesting hat

Books
‘The Bards’ banging book of beets by ‘The Bard’
Edwin’s adventures in interpretive dance by Lord Edwin
History and philosophy of the Arts by Meredith Woodall
Healing Vibrations by Zabrinas Darkwell
Capturing conceptual art by Dr Robert Nut
Revolution- The rise of the Ogres union by Farther Dirk

regards Your Head Master Tineyd Ancer

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Conversion

It was a slow process, but Sal was patient and she could already tell that she was having an effect. The community of humans had always hung on her words when she’d told them of the ways of the Elves. They were fascinated. It had then been almost effortless to turn her tales to those of the Fey.

They’d allocated a part of their highly structured day to Sal, almost as soon as she’d appeared among them, for her to teach them of the Elves. It was her gift to them in return for her new home and the knowledge they shared with her. Everything she told them was noted down by careful hands, for further reflection and study. Their questions asked and answered. They were unfazed by her apparent youth, assuming her wise…and perhaps older than she appeared. Or maybe just innocent. They encouraged her study of their ways and the incorporation of their techniques with her own.

The first time she mentioned the Fey, it was a throwaway comment in the midst of a discussion on the history of her tribe. She was careful and calm when she was asked to explain more, said she would cover it another day. From then on she gave them only titbits of information, coolly dealing with their increasing eagerness to know more, building their anticipation.

When she judged the moment right, she conceded to their requests for a more in depth explanation and described the beauty and wonder of the Feywild. She saw their eyes widen with awe, their imaginations trying to picture such a delightful holy garden. They could barely speak their questions as she finished. They were hooked.

No more questions about the Elves, except where they related to the Fey. No more were they interested in becoming friends with the nearby settlements. They had only one interest now and Sal was the key.

She gave them enough to sate them. Her instructions had been clear. Not everything, but enough. When it was finally time for her to leave, when her path was pointing away from this place, they had been converted. They would continue without her, but all was Fey.

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Season 7 Session 5

The red mist comes down over Tuakiin’s eyes. He lays into Javier with his glass staff, striking him to the ground, and before anyone can stop him he slits Javier’s throat and misty steps out of the nearby window. It is an upper story window, but Tuakiin’s feather fall means he drifts gently to the ground. He just has time before he passes out of sight to see Sal pleading for calm, Illyria surrounding herself with her armour of Agathys – and Mortimer leaping to Javier with a healing spell, saving him from the brink of death.

Sal is the first to react, running through a gap in the guards and smashing out of a window before feather falling to the street below along with Tuakiin. With a cry of “What are you pussies waiting for, get after them!” Illyria follows her, reaching the ground first by dint of falling at full speed, landing with an acrobatic roll and pulling her demonic glaive from thin air as she stands waiting for Tuakiin to descend.

Mortimer’s attempts to explain himself are to little avail as the room empties around him. No Name also goes out of the window, holding Jonathan by the hand, letting Jonathan feather fall with Tuakiin as she turns into a bird. The Vizier teleports himself and the King to safety, and Ella, Jenneth and Javier follow suit. Left in a room full of heavily armed, if somewhat bemused, guards, Mortimer sighs and dimension doors himself and Lubash to the Craven Raven.

On the street outside, Sal reaches the ground and runs off at prodigious speed. Tuakiin cast a haste spell on himself with a view to doing the same, but Illyria reaches him first, holding him at glaive-point. Tuakiin still has his glass staff in hand, and a stand-off ensues, with Tuakiin threatening to murder Illyria if she tries to stop him escaping and Illyria speculating on whether she’d find it easier to convince the King she had nothing to do with the attack on Javier if she had Tuakiin’s head in her hand. Neither is budging, and the stand-off looks set to go on indefinitely until No Name, back in her usual form, talks both of them down. They lower their weapons and agree to go to the pub to talk it out. Tuakiin dashes off towards the Craven Raven, but Illyria catches him up and dimension doors them both directly there. She is quite clear that it is Tuakiin’s round.

Alarm bells are now ringing out. No Name and Jonathan find a convenient alleyway, where No Name transforms herself into a small dog for Jonathan to carry, on the theory that the guards won’t be looking for a lone halfling carrying a dog. This theory appears to hold when Jonathan emerges from the alley, and any look of concern on Jonathan’s face is easily put down to the occasional small bites the dog insists on giving him. They follow the others to rendezvous at the Craven Raven.

Sal quickly makes it to the dovecot (which perhaps we should start calling an owlcot). She is able to persuade the owl-wrangler to spare four owls for a short trip north, carrying the teleportation chest with them.

In the Craven Raven, the party have a quick but expensive drink on Tuakiin’s tab as the sounds of alarm bells get closer. A heated conversation ensues, in which it is decided that their best option is to go north and try to take out Azarr Khul, leader of the enemy force. As guards arrive at the door and speak to the concierge, Tuakiin leads the party upstairs to his room, where he has stored the magical carpet he looted from the hunting lodge several seasons ago. He unrolls it and hangs it up on the north-facing wall, revealing the countryside full of refugees some five miles north of the city. The only problem is, if they go through this, there is nothing to stop the city guards from following them. Illyria solves this problem by going through last and conjuring a wall of fire behind her as she goes, to incinerate the carpet.

They arrive in the midst of the refugees, conspicuous by their unusual clothes and badass attitude. Soon Sal arrives with the owls and their wrangler. Unfortunately, the owl wrangler is reluctant to send his owls anywhere near the enemy, but he is eventually prevailed upon to take the party a few hours’ flight northwards before returning to the city.

[In the city, the maitre d’ weeps as the flaming ruins of what was once the finest drinking establishment in Theria collapse in fire and smoke.]

This gives the party the opportunity to spend some time resting, telling scary stories to scare the Owl wrangler and planning. While the others rest and ponder their options, Sal settles into a trance and has an interesting chat with her patron about his plans. The rest of the group decide some kind of teleport to a place nearer the enemy would seem to be in order, but planning this becomes a fraught process. Mortimer has never been anywhere near the territory they have to reach, and although Illyria is sure she once played in a pub close to where the enemy forces must be, he is unwilling to trust her memory, given her penchant for drink and drugs. However, he does scry Venomfang to find out how she is getting on, and sees a vision of her flying over a farmhouse – and this is enough to give him a target.

The party teleport to the farmhouse a few hours later. It is deserted and looted, having clearly suffered the depradations of the enemy horde. While the others search the premises, Illyria attempts to scry Azarr Khul, but a curious thing happens. The spell seems to work, but shuts off before she can see anything. Is some form of magical protection at work?

Evidently, remote intelligence gathering will not work. Instead, Sal and Illyria head out in the direction of the horde on a reconnaissance mission, while Tuakiin contacts Venomfang (via Mortimer’s spellcasting), letting her know his location.

The scouts manage to locate the enemy horde – it isn’t exactly difficult – but it is large and they are only able to clearly see the squads on one flank. While they are on their way back, Venomfang swoops down to the farmhouse. She converses with Tuakiin, and you don’t need to be fluent in Draconic to tell she is unimpressed. The fact that Tuakiin is skulking out in this farmhouse indicates to her that the deal she made to fight for the city is worthless – and she doesn’t seem inclined towards easily forgiving people who she thinks have messed her around…

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Go West, Life is peaceful there

In restless dreams I walked alone**
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
’Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp

Mortimer flicked up the hood of his midnight coloured robes. The fire was the only light available, but it was enough. He studied the spellbook of Acererak but the spell that caught his eye was destroyed by the ravages of age. It was one of the few things that moved him to curse. You had to be careful cursing as a necromancer, it can have quite a more practical effect than when a civilian expleats!

Mortimer sat under a canvas alone. They had left the city, left the pub, by an enchanted canvas, he’d have prefered to study the canvas but it had been in Tuwakin’s possession since they got it, now the Goth girl had burnt it, if she wasn’t careful, burn the pub as well… and Mortimer had no confidence she was careful with her spells.

That was the problem here wasn’t it? Spell caster couldn’t be trusted, they all used Tenser’s flawed old notation, the wizards here weren’t as excepting of modern ideas as Master Burns had been, they wouldn’t invent XML for a thousand years….

In that moment Mortimer felt a stabbing pain of guilt he had never experienced before, so much so he slammed the spell books, not bearing to look at them. He should have insisted Burns come with him, and Rufus… there were banishment spells available. He could have made him.

I turned my collar to the cold and damp

Mortimer flicked his heavy hood back over his head as the night turned cold.

He should have stayed in the city…

He was a defender of a capital city, it was what he knew, the central citry had always been under attack, countering siege warfare was what knew. Using the undead against marauding armies was what he did! He should have stayed in the city and trained their wizards to create and endless army from the ranks of the fallen.

But he had left. Why? He’d left because he felt guilty to Tuakin. Except he’s done what he must for the war effort, The man controlling the cities draconic assets was one of their most key military assets! He could let them die…just not at this stage.

He looked up at the canvas that covered him strung between two trees, proper 13th company, basic provisions… once again the Private when he needed to be the Wizard. Those outside were not The Undying, they were perfect strangers… Jack,he was a fast friend, Tuakin – seemed to forgive him his actions in the tower, seemed to forgive him healing his mortal enemy, but who indeed where these other to presume upon his powers? An obscure young elf, a silly girl who thinks necromantic style and magic is a fashion statement? FFS! She would never be fit to truly wear midnight!

He should have stayed in the West.

He shut the spell books, rolled the scrolls he had been copying.

Really he knew very little of the ‘army’ he now fought with. He should be showing the human army how their fallen can be their next reinforcements.

This party wasn’t the13th however… he wasn’t going to be their “get out of death free” card, and he wasn’t going to be a magical taxi service, he was one of the most powerful Wizards in region.

But what did that mean to the east?

He could acquiesce to all the new parties wishes, sure, it was within his powers, but who was this group to expect servicest of him?

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It All Goes Ever So Slightly to Complete Shit

The noonday sun baked the dusty ground, and the air shimmered. The young dragonborn stumbled into the shade in front of the tavern, panting heavily.

At first glance, the town had appeared deserted, but as he got closer he’d noticed its occupants all sitting in the shade, wide-brimmed hats pulled low over their faces.

He drew closer to the woman outside Taverna de Esmerelda, evidently the innkeeper, and tried to remember his cotidiano lessons with—

his mother

—as he knew nobody would speak draconic here.

“¿Desculpe?”

The woman stirred.

“¿Perdón, señora?”

Brilliant brown eyes peered out from under the brim of the hat and stared daggers.


The company shuffled into the great hall. Tuakiin took a quick mental roll call and was relieved to note the absence of a certain Señor Asturro. He shot a quick questioning look at the Vizier, who responded only with a slightly miffed expression.

The council of war began.

The dragonborn tuned out for most of it; the minutiae of defending the city were simply lost on him, but his ears pricked up at the mention of the dragon lord Azarr Khul and the possibility of surgical strikes.

When Señor Asturro walked in the door.

Stay quiet.

“…have created harrowblades…”

Stay quiet.

“…dragon eggs to magical energy…”

Stay quiet.

“…Azarr Khul was my first…”

Stay quiet.

“…You. You look familiar.”

Joder.


The dragonborn spat out his drink, where it began eating into the varnish on the bar. “What is this stuff!?”

“_Whiskey de fuego_. Get your blood pumping. You’ve walked a long way, dragon.“ Esmeralda wiped up the spill with a leather cloth.

He took a much smaller sip this time, and the fiery drink played on his tongue. It evoked the Escaparado desert itself, the sand, the tumbleweed,—

the mesa,

—the countless little towns dotted here and there with their welcoming shade.

“_Pues_, there’s only a few reasons one like you would come down from their perch. So what’s your story? You’re a tribute, no? Or did your madre get hungry and eat your brood?”

Tuakiin was taken aback by the directness of the question, and began assembling his answer, and then it all came rushing back—

the early morning wind whistling in the cavern

the rush of monah’s wings as she dropped the goat from that morning’s hunt at the peak

his siblings, all hurrying to eat

a voice, in an unfamiliar language, not dovahzuul or cotidiano, hard and throaty

his monah’s voice responding in the same language

the carnage, and the roars, and the crackle of great magic in the air

a wet thud

the man, gathering the eggs

and running, just running, just get away, just run, just run

Esmerelda looked on in awe as the dragonborn recanted the story. “And now you’re vowing revenge on the man who killed your mother, ¿no?

“How did you… know?”

“_Mi queridito_, it’s a tale as old as time! You’re a real life Don Montoya, ¿sabes?” Seeing Tuakiin’s confused face, she pulled up a stool and sat opposite.

“Inigo Montoya was a swordsman, the best in all of Escapar. When he was a child, his father Domingo was a blacksmith, known for his fine crafstmanship of swords. One day, a Count came in with a request: forge a sword that could accommodate his six-fingered hand. Señor Montoya accepted, and spent one year crafting this blade. It would become his masterpiece.

But the next year when the Count returned, he demanded a lower price. Domingo refused, of course; not because of money, but because the Count could not appreciate the fine work of the sword. He gave the sword to Inigo, and of course the Count cut him down. Young Inigo challenged him to a duel, but the ten-year-old was no match for the Count. He vowed to become the greatest swordsman in Escapar and take his revenge.”

Tuakiin sat there, rapt. “Did he?”

“Oh, . Ten years later he found the six-fingered man, and challenged him to a duel, saying—


“…You look familiar.”

— “Hello.”

“Have I seen you somewhere?”

— “My name is Tuakiin folas Yuvonviing.”

“Oh! You remind me…”

— “You killed my mother.”

“…of my son, Elakiin”

¿Qué? ¡Eso no es verdad! ¡Eso es imposible!

— “Prepare… to… die…?”

Father? Of my brother? How?

“I’m sorry, what?”

— “You… killed my mother!”

“I…? Oh! Yuvonviing. Yes. I killed your mother. It is a shame that I didn’t have the time to stuff and mount her… but she was too large, and I didn’t have enough time.”

Tuakiin had stopped listening by “stuff and mount”.

By “too large” his glass staff was in hand and he had closed half the distance between them.

By “time” Javier was already on the floor.


View
Death Becomes Him

Through secrets of the dirty streets
Searching for a revelation Wingless angels
in the heat Knocking onThe doors of damnation
Come on baby – Kick ’em in!
Feels like flying – When we are falling One more time

Mortimer sat by the fire as the others drank. He liked this pub, finally, they had found a respectable establishment. Oh he was no stranger to dives, he was a Squaddie after all, he’d never once voiced objection to the worst of the gin joints The West had had to offer desperate soldiers. Still, this place had some good Reds, some very good Reds. He was partial to a nice goblet of wine.

Alcohol was important. Hundreds of years of humans, elves, halflings, gnomes, any number of races half jokingly referring to it as ‘water of life’ or ‘spirit’ or elixir, went half way to endowing the drink with sympathetic magical connections. It was no accident all the races treated it equally and revered it so. Nor that it was the base of so many Necromantic spells.

‘Shame this lot didn’t treat it as a magically elixir, more wanted to get pissed all the time.

He sat in front of the fire but no heat came.

He had been growing aware of this for some time. He was cold, he was cold to the touch, not that anyone ever touched him, but he no longer gained any warmth from blankets, nor needed any. He had slept out under stars and not noticed a chill. His agile mind postulated a theory on this, the nature of his shaping of the energies Arcana…

In those of a war magic or possessing a Sorcerous bent, such energies caused great excite in their lives and their spell casting, their magic often loosely focused and dangerous. Necromancy was not like that, it was long term, it was careful, practiced, and deathly calm.

It was not the kind of magic that drove back armies. It was cold.

He looked down at the four spell books laid out before him… Such an exposure to magical knowledge from East and West already giving him ideas! But… he was going to need to allow the chill of the grave to leave him, to let the fire of the arcane thaw him. Carrig had had the fires of hell in her veins, but it wasn’t strictly As’ that Mortimer worshiped, more the Undead Gods directly. He felt the with him all the time, both deceased deities, clashing just below the surface of the mortal world, a half forgotten desire to be remembered.

In the morning he would have to find the Vizier and enquire about the arcane defences of the walls. If the Shining City was anything to go by the wall will have been set with wards, and War Wizards would accompany most regiments into battle…. Hell, the 13th had hardly been a prestigious unit, but even it had had a competent (if cowardly) necromancer assigned to it.

If the forces of the East didn’t include such integrated drilling of soldiers with war wizards, well he feared for the safety of the city!

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