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Long Roads Ahead (Back to Square One)

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The trek back up topside was quiet and nonconfrontational. No more of the strange, fiery salamanders approached them as they ventured up out of the darkness. Torie had little to say, and that suited Priscilla just fine, as she spent the remainder of the trip upwards puzzling over what needed to be done, and how. For one thing, Priscilla and Torie still didn't own the rights to this mine, something they would need to correct, and quickly. Then, there was the matter of digging up the materials Priscilla needed to get her work done. Would they be able to repurpose the buildings outside, and build a workshop and smithy out here? Perhaps that was the best call; though then she would need to hire people to watch the premises while she was away. Her brain turned over a dozen ideas before they reached the surface, and once they did, she shelved them all upon catching site of the Kobold camp waiting outside.

On 2/19/2020 at 2:17 AM, Venus Sprite said:

“Salamander stew!” Torie said, running forwards.

“For you, mighty Trashkill,” Shank said,

As the sunlight bathed the two of them in orange warmth, Priscilla stood by the cave's mouth and looked on, impressed and relieved. The kobolds had somehow found their way back into the daylight, and appeared none the worse for wear. She counted them; Shank, still standing and prideful and his four companions, each mostly fine. She didn't actually know where they'd found the giant pot they'd cooked with, but food was food, right?

She stepped closer to the bubbling pit, and caught wind of the contents, which immediately made her recoil somewhat. The smell was terrifying, a grotesque amalgamation of melting fat and curdled oil, not to mention the filth that rolled off their bodies as well! She made a gagging noise, and avoided the pit, willing to let Torie enjoy it all to herself.

On 2/19/2020 at 2:17 AM, Venus Sprite said:

Only after she was thoroughly stuffed did she notice Priscilla staring, a look of horror on her face. Perhaps it was her lack of manners. Torie swallowed and cleared her throat.

“Did you want some, too? You really should try it.” She tore off a strip of muscle from the outer thigh, or what would have been the outer thigh if the snake people had thighs, and held it out to Priscilla.

She raised her hands in protest. 

"No thanks! I'll eat later," She promised the tigress. Her hands lowered, and she glanced around the camp, then back at the tunnel behind them. There was seemingly no sign of Aaric anywhere.

"It's good that all the kobolds got away," Priscilla said out loud. "But I wish we knew where Aaric was." It was a mood killer, but it needed to be said. In the palm of her hand, she still held that fiery bit of runeite, which she glanced down at for a second. 

They were so close to rebuilding her life now. Once she could assemble her mobile workshop, her business would flourish again. Feeling the fiery rock made her warm, and filled her with hope, and she glanced back at the cave behind them once more. 

A noise behind her, and the sudden cry of surprise from the kobolds made her spin around, and looking back she saw three figures encroach upon the camp. Two of them were tall and bulky, and dressed in heavy leather armor. They carried heavy-looking steel polearms. The last of them was an odd-looking fellow. He was well dressed, with a very tall hat, pointed collar and his suit jacket had tails on it, which trailed down his back. More pressing, he was approximately four feet tall, at most. He carried an interesting looking staff made of what appeared to be ash, with a crude-looking blackened gem on top. His attire was adorned with gold fixings, studs and bits of chain. He looked rather debonair, if a little overdressed.

The kobolds, naturally, retreated behind Shank, who drew his knife immediately, and both of the shorter man's guards held their weapons at the ready. The shorter one didn't look terribly worried, though, and instead glanced past them at Priscilla in particular.

"Isn't this an interesting encounter?" He asked. His voice was scratchy, but not terribly high-pitched. He mostly sounded like an inner-city lord or something. "Here we are, coming to deal with monsters swamping our cave, and instead we find people. Well, a person, their fat cat, and a gaggle of beasts."

Priscilla didn't know this person, but her eyes narrowed quickly. Anybody willing to take a jab at the kobolds, or Torie and refer to them as inhuman wasn't somebody she cared to meet. 

The kobolds had similar ideas, and Shank voiced their protest.

"Stupid manling!" He huffed indignantly. "You talk to Trashkill! Mighty dragon, and eater of monsters!"

The guards did a good job of hiding their amusement, while the short one did not. "Trashkill? I'll admit, that suits the furball to a tee!" He cackled with delight. The kobolds sensed his mocking tone, and Shank brandished his knife, ready to fight. Both guards raised their glaives, should things get ugly, but the mage waved them off. 

"Oh, it's fine, it's fine. Let the vermin play pretend." His focus returned to Priscilla, and the mine behind her. She saw his gaze drift to the stone in her hand as well. 

"So, can I assume that you are the one responsible for this...circus?" He asked. "Why are you trespassing on our mine, hm?"

She frowned, and stared at him. Was the mine owned by anybody? By the looks of things, it was abandoned.

"Your mine?" She pointed out. "This place has been deserted for months now."

"Deserted doesn't mean 'not owned.'" He informed her. He was quick to speak, and his words had a nasty edge to them. Priscilla thought about trying to incinerate him with the rock. Instead, she nodded in acknowledgement, and asked, almost coy:

"Okay then. Show me the deed to the mine."

Silence, then he waved her request away.

"This isn't my mine, so much as it's my employers." He told her. "We're here to deal with a pest problem, and you're beginning to look awfully pesky." 

It was an empty threat, and she caught it quickly. 

"If your employers owned the mine, they would've sent a copy of the deed with you in case local authorities asked questions." She said with a smirk. "Otherwise, you'd be trespassing if the guards found out."

"And you aren't trespassing?" He called her out, to which she gestured at herself.

"Of course not. I own the mine, after all."

He laughed, and both guards shifted uncomfortably. His laughter dragged across her ears for far too long before he stopped, and tapped his stick on the ground.

"Well, that's news to me! But you know, maybe you're telling the truth, so I'll humor you. Why don't you show me the deed then, hm?" He taunted her with his eyes peering through his heavy hat and collar. "Why don't you show me the deed, because after all, if the authorities were here, you'd want them to know you aren't trespassing."

Priscilla shrugged apathetically, then turned to Torie. 

"Torie, I think we left the deed in that black box in the house over there?" She nodded towards the foreman's building, where Aaric had been looting earlier. "Could you grab it for me?"

She waited for the tigress to return, biting her lip it wasn't actually the deed to the mine, but it was signed by the original foreman, and from a distance would certainly look like the deed. Maybe they'd get lucky, and these scoundrels would leave them in peace.

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13 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

"It's good that all the kobolds got away," Priscilla said out loud. "But I wish we knew where Aaric was."

“So do I,” Torie said, eyes glistening. “It’s not like I’d known him for long, but being in the same party… I felt responsible for him. And he was good company! I wish I could have got to know him better.”

She saw the new trio arrive – the two soldiers and the well-dressed Halfling fellow. She listened to the exchange with ever-growing concern, though looked at Priscilla with new admiration after her exchange about the deed.

 

13 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

"Torie, I think we left the deed in that black box in the house over there?" She nodded towards the foreman's building, where Aaric had been looting earlier. "Could you grab it for me?"

Torie gave Priscilla a look that said, I’m eating. But that look quickly dissolved to one of unsuppressed, animal fury. She growled deep in her throat.

Shank cottoned on. He said, “Do not order the Mighty Trashkill to run errands. That is kobold’s job.” Then he turned to one of the others, chattering away in their own language for a moment and sent his companion into the structure for the deed.

Torie waited, watching the troublemakers as the sounds of rummaging, tools dropping and draws opening came from the house. The sound of searching stretched on and on, and it struck Torie as quite amusing, everyone sitting there staring at one another so severely as the kobold botched a simple job. At last Shank sighed and retreated into the foreman’s building himself, and squabbling ensued from inside.

Despite being very full, Torie rocked herself onto her feet and came to stand beside Priscilla. The guards widened their step at the sight of her, and even the Halfling fellow raised his eyebrows, perhaps impressed at her sheer size. She wasn’t just fat but was long and tall as well, easily five feet at the eyes, taller at the shoulder. The floof that surrounded her face didn’t quite look so cute and cuddly when she bared her teeth.

“Call me fat again, you’ll see just how quickly I can kill trash,” she said, her voice dropping so deep to be nearly a growl.

At last Shank and the other kobold returned with the box, first presenting it to Torie, who nodded her head at Priscilla. Priscilla removed it and held it up.

The little man took a step forward to inspect the document, but this time Torie roared, just as loud as before, her voice echoing back out of the cave for a few seconds after she stopped. Her teeth stayed bare though, and she continued to growl low.

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22 hours ago, Venus Sprite said:

Torie gave Priscilla a look that said, I’m eating. But that look quickly dissolved to one of unsuppressed, animal fury. She growled deep in her throat.

Shank cottoned on. He said, “Do not order the Mighty Trashkill to run errands. That is kobold’s job.” Then he turned to one of the others, chattering away in their own language for a moment and sent his companion into the structure for the deed.

Oops. Priscilla inwardly berated herself for apparently overstepping some unexpected boundary. Actually, now that she thought about it, the boundary was pretty obvious. Leave it to Priscilla to expect a fat cat to do anything during meal time. Moreover, she growled at her! Priscilla glowered at her for being unhelpful after the kobolds left, but didn't hold it against her. Things had unexpectedly gotten a little tense around here, after all. It wasn't Torie's fault.

That said, it took a long time for the kobolds to actually find the deed, and that's because there wasn't one to find. They looked, turned things over and rummaged around noisily. Priscilla fidgeted in place, and glanced towards the halfling and his guards. Then she glanced at Torie, who was also watching the guards and also watching her from time to time. She went back to watching the guards. 

Minutes passed, and eventually Shank gave up on waiting, and went to harass his company. Torie got up, and stepped over next to her. Greasy salamander stew clung to her fur in little oily droplets, which still reeked of salamader guts. Priscilla repositioned herself a few steps away from the tigress, who continued to stare down the interlopers.

22 hours ago, Venus Sprite said:

“Call me fat again, you’ll see just how quickly I can kill trash,” she said, her voice dropping so deep to be nearly a growl.

The halfling didn't actually look that worried. Priscilla glanced at him and his guards suspiciously. What was that staff, even? His attire was unlike anything she'd ever seen before, but it made her somewhat nostalgic, like it shared something in common with something she'd encountered a way back. She supposed he was some kind of sorcerer, but she didn't know who he was, or whether or not they should worry. 

"I suspect trash is the only thing that you could manage to kill," He mused out loud, obviously entertained by her discomfort. Next to him, the guards prepared themselves should anything funny happen, but nothing did.

Shank and the kobolds returned at last, carrying a box. They offered it to the Mighty Trashkill, who lacked thumbs and hands. She passed it to Priscilla.

Inside the box was not a deed, but instead that paper they'd found prior--that Aaric had found prior--detailing the discovery of mithril within. It was signed by the foreman of the mine, in long, looping script, and the rest was scribbled in with ink. It was hardly a deed, but that wasn't important. She held it up, for them to see.

"There you go." She waved it around, impatient. "See? Mine--not yours."

The halfling stepped forward, eyes narrowed, but Torie roared unexpectedly. Her voice carried far and loud, causing even Priscilla to stumble away. It bounced up off the mountain behind them. It echoed through the cave. Birds took off at the sound of it.

Shank hooted and hollared in place, while the three trespassers backed up slightly.

"Well!" The one in the middle huffed, evidently displeased. "It seems you are, in fact, the owners of this...hole in the ground."

"We are." She said flatly. "And we'd like you to leave."

"Certainly, certainly!" He took off his fancy hat--underneath he had coarse, shaggy hair and pointy ears. He bowed mockingly, but stepped back nonetheless. "We were only looking into the availability of the mine, especially given that you seem to be lacking...workers on site."

She frowned at them, and put the paper away.

"You do know about policy, don't you? You need workers on site at all times when the mine is open." He shuffled a bit. "You do have workers, do you not?"

"I do!" She cut him off, then gestured towards the kobolds. "In fact, here they are. This is Shank. He's the foreman of the mine."

The kobolds all seemed dumbstruck. Shank in particular, glanced towards Torie in great confusion--suspicion, even. However, they all remained silent.

"Really now?" The halfling put his hat back on, and gave her a tight-lipped stare. "I would never have expected...beastly hires."

"They're hardly beasts!" She laughed. "Did you not see them cooking when you approached? They're the resident caretakers and miners at our little operation here, at the..." She glanced backwards at the mine, then at Torie and the Kobolds. 

"The...uh...Magmaworks." She settled on. It sounded interesting enough, she supposed. She doubted there were any duplicates under that name.

Silence reigned. Then, the halfling and his guards shrugged. 

"Then I suppose we'll be checking in on you in a bit." He told Priscilla. "See that things are going well around here, and all that. In the name of friendly competition, of course."

She stared him down, and flashed him a dangerous smile. "Oh, I'm looking forward to it!" Her smile vanished and she stared him down, deadpan. "Now shove off."

The three wandered off eventually, and once they were well out of earshot, she sighed, and nearly fell over.

"I can't believe that worked!" She exclaimed.

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Torie plonked down with a huff, right where she had stood, and looked up to Priscilla. “Me neither! Sorry about the growl, by the way,” she added surreptitiously. “Just trying to stay in character. Shank!”

The old, mostly-wise kobold marched over.

“I’ve discussed this with Priscilla previously. You and your kobolds will work this mine and make a lair for me. I may be some time in returning. You should also produce children here to increase my servants. Teach them to be wise, like you.”

At that the kobold puffed up, obviously happy with the compliment from his dragon queen.

“I hope to be back soon, but if I am busy elsewhere follow every word Priscilla says if it were my own. Mine out the valuable minerals. Let nobody collect it except those Priscilla says are trustworthy.”

“We will guard your treasures with our lives,” Shank said, and bowed.

Torie nodded at first, her jowls and ruffles quivering beneath her chin, but then looked thoughtful and shook her head.

“No. Protect my treasures, but do not die. Stay alive. Stay safe. Attack from the shadows. Start a clan. My clan. The Trashkiller Clan.”

The kobolds all looked at each other with excitement, though Kissit stepped forward and said. “Mighty Trashkill, really leave us alone?”

Torie’s heart nearly melted in her chest, but she said, “Yes, I must make preparations to return to dragon form. But when I return I hope to show you what I truly look like, in all my glory.”

She grinned up at Priscilla.

“Now, let us finish feasting. For then I must leave with Priscilla.”

“All hail mighty Trashkill!” Shank shouted.

The kobolds lifted their weapons into the air, shouting hurrah, hurrah! Then went back to preparing the stew.

“So what’s next, Priscilla?” Torie said, rolling onto her side to make it easier to look up to Priscilla’s face. It also had the effect of exposing her enormous white belly. “Will you teach me anything about rune magic, perhaps? We should also go find whoever posted the notice and collect our payment. Do you think we need to take any other jobs, or just sell the minerals we’ve found here? I can’t wait to see what’s next. It’s been so much fun already!”

Kissit and two other kobolds dragged over another portion of salamander, and Torie attacked it with gusto.

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On 3/4/2020 at 1:45 AM, Venus Sprite said:

Torie plonked down with a huff, right where she had stood, and looked up to Priscilla. “Me neither! Sorry about the growl, by the way,” she added surreptitiously. “Just trying to stay in character."

The Tigress called over the grizzled old geezer of a kobold.

On 3/4/2020 at 1:45 AM, Venus Sprite said:

"Shank!”

Priscilla sat back and listened. This entire journey, the Kobolds had been there more for Torie than anyone else, and she saw no reason to interfere now, at the end of things. She fidgeted with her jacket, and tried to find a dry place to keep that note.

On 3/4/2020 at 1:45 AM, Venus Sprite said:

“I’ve discussed this with Priscilla previously. You and your kobolds will work this mine and make a lair for me. I may be some time in returning. You should also produce children here to increase my servants. Teach them to be wise, like you.”

At that the kobold puffed up, obviously happy with the compliment from his dragon queen.

“I hope to be back soon, but if I am busy elsewhere follow every word Priscilla says if it were my own. Mine out the valuable minerals. Let nobody collect it except those Priscilla says are trustworthy.”

“We will guard your treasures with our lives,” Shank said, and bowed.

Torie nodded at first, her jowls and ruffles quivering beneath her chin, but then looked thoughtful and shook her head.

“No. Protect my treasures, but do not die. Stay alive. Stay safe. Attack from the shadows. Start a clan. My clan. The Trashkiller Clan.”

The kobolds all looked at each other with excitement, though Kissit stepped forward and said. “Mighty Trashkill, really leave us alone?”

Torie’s heart nearly melted in her chest, but she said, “Yes, I must make preparations to return to dragon form. But when I return I hope to show you what I truly look like, in all my glory.”

The runesmith gnawed on her lip, turning over their current observation. The cave system itself was massive and sprawling, and the unexpected access to the lava veins meant that with enough hands, there could potentially be a massive profit underneath the mountain. The camp itself was a total ruin, but it wasn't useless. The kobolds could likely shack up within the ruins, or in the cave itself. Assuming they'd find and collect ore quickly, it's very likely that they could turn a profit rapidly, and that meant upgrades to the camp and mine quickly.

However, there was something money couldn't really do on its own. Priscilla glanced down at the scrap of paper, and the signature at the bottom. This likely belonged to the foreman, before he died or retired. Assuming he was still alive, Priscilla figured the best way to find the original owner of the mine would be to contact him directly, and she had to meet the original owner, otherwise she couldn't 'own' the mine.

She couldn't confirm it, yet, but she suspected that the weird halfling man and his bodyguards wouldn't give up so easily. They'd return, most likely, and when they did, they'd likely come back with legal--or perhaps extralegal--backup. She couldn't hope to win a legal battle over this mine without actually owning the papers on it. That didn't deter her, however. Priscilla figured that if the foreman was alive, he likely trafficked at the Guild. If she could get back there, she could probably find him. From there, she could find the name of the previous owner. If he was alive, she would simply inquire about buying the mine. If not, she would find who next owned the deed, and work from there.

There was also the manner of startup money...

She gnawed her lip some more, in thought.

On 3/4/2020 at 1:45 AM, Venus Sprite said:

“Now, let us finish feasting. For then I must leave with Priscilla.”

“All hail mighty Trashkill!” Shank shouted.

The kobolds lifted their weapons into the air, shouting hurrah, hurrah! Then went back to preparing the stew.

“So what’s next, Priscilla?” Torie said, rolling onto her side to make it easier to look up to Priscilla’s face. It also had the effect of exposing her enormous white belly. “Will you teach me anything about rune magic, perhaps? We should also go find whoever posted the notice and collect our payment. Do you think we need to take any other jobs, or just sell the minerals we’ve found here? I can’t wait to see what’s next. It’s been so much fun already!”

Kissit and two other kobolds dragged over another portion of salamander, and Torie attacked it with gusto.

"We'll have to head back into town, for sure." Priscilla affirmed. "We'll take our prize from the job, and split it two ways." She couldn't entertain the thought of Aaric returning to them any time soon any longer. Unhappy as it was, at least they made a little more money from the job this way. That would go a long way, for her.

"After that, I might have some throwaway money," She mused thoughtfully. "I can grab runeite tools right away, perhaps, but I think my money is better spent elsewhere."

She explained her thought process on how to obtain ownership of the mine. In theory, she could hold onto her share of the finances until she had the deed, so that she could cover any unexpected expenses. Once she had the deed, she could also start dumping extra money into the mine, buying tools, repairing the camp, and hopefully, getting the ball rolling quickly.

"But, that's a problem for another day." She said with a little smile. "Eat up. When you're done, we'll hike back to town, and buy you a feast to celebrate." She glanced down at her clothes, and frowned. 

"We'll also buy me some nicer clothes, I think." She swatted at her ruined coat. "And a knife."

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Summary: Priscilla Arrettle, a former craftswoman turned adventurer turned survivor turned pirate turned craftswoman, traveled to Vdara to pay off her escorts with insurance money from the Merchant's Guild. With little money to her name, she elected to take on additional jobs along with Torie, a mysterious Tigress changeling, and Aaric, a young thief. Together, the three of them ventured out to a nearby cave in order to clear out a gaggle of salamanders. Along the way, they befriended a local group of kobold escapees, recently escaped from Vdara and into the wilds. By convincing them that Torie was, in fact, a dragon, they were able to convince the kobolds to assist them on their journey. They came across the cave in question, and fought off the salamanders with a mix of close combat and ancient explosives, before collapsing the hole the salamanders emerged from. In the conflict however, Aaric went missing; no sign of him was found.

After conquering the salamanders, Priscilla and Torie returned to the surface, and confronted a stranger, a halfling mage and his guards. After bluffing them with a scrap of paper they claimed was a deed, he left, leaving the kobolds, the tigress and Priscilla could relax and eat. 

Following a short break for lunch, Priscilla guided Torie back into Vdara. Torie left the kobolds in charge of the mine, under Priscilla's lead, in order to gather the mithril and runeite deposits within. Upon return, Torie and Priscilla exchanged their contract for the reward, which they split evenly down the middle, and Priscilla put a short amount of money into clean dress clothes and a new knife. 

Results: Priscilla has established a mine within an existing mine, which she has dubbed 'The Magmaworks.' Although the mine currently belongs to someone else, it has been out of commission for a while, making it unlikely that anyone will discover her kobold workers. Torie, meanwhile, endeared herself to a small cluster of kobolds, who have been instructed to worship her as a deity, and to form a clan around her identity as 'Trashkill.' Kobolds will travel to the Magmaworks for work, shelter, and to unite under the title of Trashkill to form a mighty clan. Aaric, though he fought hard and ultimately earned them a victory, is nowhere to be seen. Whether or not he escaped the mine intact is a mystery to both Priscilla and Torie.

Consequences: Kobolds are being drawn towards the Magmaworks, and unexpected raids on nearby farms has increased slightly. Monster populations are on the rise.

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