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[Skarr Clan] Mouths to Feed

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Beneath the walls and streets of Tradetown, through caverns deep and dark, the sound of nature, and the life of the human world is rapidly, dizzyingly replaced by the low, earthly hum of shifting stone and metal, as the myriad thousands of Skaven below in Nesthome, go about their lives.

You could watch, for hours, as the ratmen, those skinny, unclean beasts walking upright like men bent in two scurry about nonstop at all times of the day and night. They sleep in shifts, working tirelessly, endless to move dirt, carve stone, and melt iron and clay down. Heavy hammer blows ring through the night, as the Skaven rebuilding effort carries on, forging implements of creation--and weapons of destruction.

Staring deep into the embers so close by, Zhot twitched, watching as the heavy-rat nearby went to work, sparks dancing across coarse, singed fur as he lifted that ungodly-sized wooden mallet and brought it down again, with a shower of sparks. Clang! Clang! Again and again, the heavy-rat knocked the crude iron into shape, before pulling it free from the Anvil, and investigating it once again. The blade--an ugly metal thing, flat and long and jagged, gleamed in the embers of the forge. He set down the hammer, and went for a strip of leather, wrapping it tightly near where the blade ended. Satisfied, he handed it to Zhot, who staggered a bit upon accepting the weapon.

"Glaive-rats need training-strong," He recalled the words from the cruel boss-rat, who'd drilled his brood in combat. Zhot had plenty of training with a staff, then, but the added weight threw him off. His glaive felt hard to balance, and the wooden shaft was too light. He choked his grip up closer to the tip, brandishing it like a walking stick. The heavy-rat had other weapons to forge, and Zhot was no longer needed. He fled away, towards the always-present light of the surface world. The pulley lift took him there quickly, along with a dozen other skaven, all bustling to get back to work, and when they arrived, they forced their way through another two dozen warring for a place on the lift. Nearby, another lift had similar lineups.

The skaven glaive-rat made his way upwards, fresh air surging into his lungs as he emerged into the bright sunlight overhead, from a sun still hanging above the treeline for a few more hours. He wasted no time in gawking at the man-things of Tradetown, as none of them spared him a glance, either. Skaven hurried through the streets as quickly as man-things did, working, trading, setting up wagons. As he crept to the end of town, the Skaven numbers grew thickest, as nearly a dozen wagons were set up to muster.

These wagons were all doubly wide as necessary, and built by man-thing laborers, sturdy and strong. The majority of them were wrapped up in wires and coils, burdened down with lumber, furs and chiseled stone, heading into the world beyond. Although Skaven clan-rats lined them, well-armed and numerous, humanoid traders operated the carriages from the driver's benches, and sickly-looking horses were strapped to the carts.

The horses looked skinny and malnourished, a consequence of the rapid boom in population in Tradetown. Zhot's stomach grumbled, and he eyeballed the beast of burden hungrily. Skin and bones or no, he felt as though he could eat an entire horse-thing on his own!

He trailed through the wagons, passing by more and more trading vehicles, until he found a singular wagon at the end. It was just was wide, but made from less wood, and unencumbered thus far. It appeared lightweight, but shoddily made, and the horse pulling it along seemed almost healthy. Most importantly, however, were the shields and banners strapped to the vehicle. They flew high, brandishing the Skarr Clan's sigil high above the wagon for all to see.

He stared into the sigil, entranced, before hurrying to the wagon to join the only other Skaven available, a scrawny creature inspecting its weapon, a long, well-made human crossbow. It was big enough to pick up with one hand, for larger creatures, but to a Skaven it was about the right size to be wielded with both.  He stressed the limbs some, as Zhot joined him.

"Other Wagonses have many more rat-things." Skritch noted.

Zhot climbed up next to him. "Many more of us?" He asked? 

"Not many."

He nodded in understanding. "Man-things?"

He wasn't asking if they were going to be joining them, and Skritch picked up on that. He shrugged, nonplussed one way or another.

The wagon, and its meager crew that was slowly assembling was something of a desperate bid for supplies. With Tradetown and Nesthome's supplies dwindling, and farms still growing yet, the Skaven and Humans had worked together and come to the dreadful, but necessary conclusion that they needed food immediately--and other communities would have some to spare. Trade wagons were put out, laden with lumber and stone to attempt to make some small food in return. However, a few wagons--this one included, had a less pleasant purpose. The Skaven and Humans that had volunteered would not be trading for food. They would be finding choice sources of food, and other material wealth, and marking them for future raids. Food would be dragged back, by either the small party, or by Skaven raiding parties, just long enough to keep the communities alive.

Now, they needed only the rest of the party to arrive.

 

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Vito rode through the Terrenus wilds, his mount Floki sniffing and searching through the undergrowth. It felt good to be back in his homeland, the weeks spent in foreign territory had been exhausting. He was looking forward to getting back to basics, a simple raiding party had been his dream for a while. He heard rumors of calls to aid, a skaven raiding party looking for members. How could he refuse? He'd never worked with skaven before and he wanted to pillage, a perfectly fun opportunity. The clan was located at Nesthome, just east of the dark forest. Despite the area being relatively familiar to the raider, he'd never actually visited Nesthome. It wasn't exactly viewed amongst most of the public as a good place to visit, being that the skaven race were not fondly looked upon by most other races.

'Can't believe out of all the races, skaven? Are there not better goals to be chasing? There are far greater tasks at hand, rather than just raiding with rats.'

'Can't I have a little fun every now and then? I started of as a raider, it's who I am. Anyway, all big empires started off as nothing more than villages and clans. We'll just make some alias, then return home.'

'Alias? If you say so.'

It was apparent the that Leo, the mind trapped within Vito's uru sphere, did not appreciate working with lessers. As he approached the town border he dismounted, walking through and admiring the various shops and smiths. Vito always admired doing things the old ways. As he got closer to the end of town the skaven population got larger and larger, the divide had become apparent. Vito eventually spotted a wagon filled with armed raiders, no doubt the group he was looking. Approaching the wagon, he met face to face with a skaven draped in black cloth and wielding bladed shield. Bringing his hand to his side, he ordered Floki to sit.

"The names Vito, here to help with the raid." 

Edited by Rabbit

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The Black Captain

Beyond the edge of town, purple plumes of smoke could be glimpsed as they billowed upward like the thick fumes of a locomotive train. Coasting along the road toward Tradetown, the armored wagon came into view after rounding a tree line, its dark gray body propelled forward by its magitech energy that exhausted toward the sky from the chimney in the back. A construct of dense metal rested atop eight reinforced wheels, a wickedly curved scythe protruding from the center of each one, serrated and stained with dried blood.

 

The grand carriage and its coming was heralded by both the living and the non-living. A short pole sprouted from its roof, a banner rippling in the wind. Its sigil was of two black swords crossed below a black crown, a burning red cat’s eye with a black pupil in the crown’s center, on a field of red. Doubt held no place for truth as to how many if any among the Skaven and the humans in town would recognize the banner and pinpoint its owner. Word of the Skarr Clan's troubles and requests for assistance had traveled and, naturally, word of those who had taken up the call to arms just might have traveled back. Among them, the sellsword company called the Lost Scions and their leader, the Black Captain.

 

Flanking either side of the mechanical beast trotted thirty horses and their riders; hobgoblins in plate armor, armed with swords and shields and a halberd to carry. The closer the convoy approached, the clearer the orange faces of the riders could be seen. They were not alone. Trailing behind them and their wheeled ward were smaller creatures on smaller steeds. These more lightly armed and armored goblins of about forty in number were of an inferior breed, green-skinned and less orderly, though the direwolves that they rode were as organized as a pack.

 

There were creatures yet that bore no riders in their saddles, at least not at the moment. Nine there were, grouped together in harmony just behind the vehicle, with the wolves and their goblins surrounding. A horse that shimmered like a dark night with two red eyes and a silver mane, a white snow bear, a pink ostrich, a midnight blue panther, a green raptor, a brown yak, a gray boar, a tan camel and a red elk. Where such animals might have had smaller versions of themselves in the world, these ones were great enough to bear the body of a full-grown man if no one or nothing else. 

 

At the front of the armored wagon, which no steed need pull along, the seat held no rider, though as the entire convoy’s marks and makings could be made out with more distance covered it was equally clear that the wagon’s seat had behind it armored doors with narrow slits for windows where larger ones were sealed shut. When finally the wagon and its mounted entourage reached the town limits, their travels were halted before a collection of lesser wagons and steeds and the Skaven that surrounded them. A fair distance was kept, the convoy having planted hoof, paw and wheel just at the buildings’ perimeter, when a final puff of purple dissipated in the air and the low, distorted hum of the engine came to a choking death. 

 

What silence could be afforded had taken the place of the vehicle’s noise, with nary a goblin making a grunt. The hobgoblins sat astride their coursers, speechless and motionless, gazing at nothing and no one. Even their second-rate kinsmen were barely fidgeting upon the saddles of their direwolves, while each animal of the many that were with or without a rider seemed pacified enough to idle without aim. Here and there, a horse would whinny, a wolf would growl, the ostrich dipped its beak to the earth, the polar bear yawned and the raptor chewed on its claws that were almost as curved as the scimitars on the wagon’s banner. 

 

Of which, in a moment, the front doors opened at the outer driver’s seat, the wagon’s height proving its purpose as a creature stepped out at six feet tall. Out of all of the souls gathered in this company, perhaps this one would offer the Skaven of this town in particular a view to behold, for they would quickly ascertain that they were looking at one of their own. Standing erect above and before them was a male Shkei, broad-shouldered and muscled beneath his garments. A gray duster draped down to his knees, a red cloak to his ankles, and beneath them both was black leather. The great rat’s black fur was rivaled only by a head of long silver hair that flowed down in between two maroon-colored horns that draped from forehead to the back of the head and behind. Amid a face that shared the grace of good looks gifted to most Shkei, this one had an eyepatch covering his left eye, while his other eye was as black and naked as his horse at the back of the wagon. 

 

The Shkei turned his head this way and that way, his one eye scanning the faces and the bodies of the Skaven, the other humanoid, and the wagons. My people. My race. My Rat-men. “Greetings”, he spoke, his voice deep and unwavering. “I am Veron Blacktear. I have come back.”

Edited by Die Shize

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Zhot and Skritch waited by their wagon, fidgeting idly as they waited. Around them, other wagons were saddling up, and preparing to move along, and many of them began to leave before long. The glaive-rat recalled that they only had a small force to work with; him, Skritch, another two skaven, and whomever had agreed to accompany them. While Skritch focused on tuning his crossbow, Zhot focused on taking stock. They had meager rations, next to nothing else in the wagon, and about eight shields strapped to the sides. These shields were a fair bit heavier than most Skaven could bear, and that's because they weren't going to be used as shields. They, like the two banners strapped to the cart, billowing in the wind, had other purposes, that none of the other carts did.

Zhot tensed up around his glaive. His stomached gurgled, and he debated digging in to the rations long before they fled.  Instead, he steeled his nerves, and sat down instead. He had to be strong, for the rest of the clan, for King-King, and most especially for the others on this journey with them. Skaven's strength came from their ability to work together, after all. He needed to work as part of the group, if he wanted to eat.

Thril Shadowweaver stalked towards her cart, swiftly and silently. Her darkened robes, and her well-polished shields in stark contrast with another as she moved through the crowds, around the man-things nearby, towards the town limits. Her body was always bent low to the ground, should she need to quickly evade anything. Even in town, even in home, Gutter Rats had to be evasive, their training and equipment too valuable to go to waste. Even so, she kept her eyes trained on the path ahead, taking in the districts of Tradetown as they faded from view and the caravans came into view.

Then, she nearly collided with a wandering dark-thing, riding atop a dragon!

She shrieked, and immediately put her weapons up, bracing herself for impact.

However, no such attack came at her. She cautiously lowered the shield, looking up at the drake, and the rider beyond it.

Riding atop the beast-thing was a dark-thing, with a mask, and Gutter-Rat-like robes. She could not see whenst the man-thing looked, and couldn't piece together its expression, or attention. The mask was interesting, plain but eerie. 

Out of view, Thril's tail curled, reflexively. She did her best to keep her hood over her eyes, lest he see how she was feeling. It wouldn't do for potential enemies to see how she was feeling, after all. Perhaps she should have invested in a mask of her own!

On 8/1/2019 at 9:32 AM, Rabbit said:

"The names Vito, here to help with the raid." 

His voice was somewhat light, not unlike the rest of the rat-men. To learn that they shared a purpose also appeared to be another boon.

"Veetoe" She overpronounced. Gutter Rats were often fed a little better, and trained a little better than their lesser kin. Her voice didn't sound quite as raspy as others of her kind, but still somewhat shrill. Pronouncing his name was easy, and quick. She approved of that greatly.

"This one is name-called..." She didn't have much experience with the human's common. Ratspeak was the best she could do. "This one's name is Thril. Family-name Shadowweaver." She couldn't really think of much to add, save for; "Thril is also raiding-rat today."

So it was. She guided Vito towards the cart where the rest of the party awaited. Already atop of the cart were two other clan-rats. Both of them scrawny and underfed, wielding well-made weapons of war. The glaive one of them sported somewhat soured her impression of the group--without heavier armor, that weapon was likely to be useless. It would take ages to swing, and the skaven would be dead long before it landed a blow. The clan-rat with the bow stood a fairer chance, she supposed. If its aim was good, and its eyes not rotten, it would at least stand a chance. 

They perked up at the sight of the Gutter Rat, and the Dragon-thing mounted man-thing behind them. Zhot forced himself to stand tall, propping himself up with the glaive.

"You are here-stay for the raiding party?"

"Raiders, yes-yes." Thril replied.

Zhot relaxed, relieved. Gutter rats were coming along? This might be safer than he'd thought.

"Gutter-rats, and glaive-rats, and man-things?" Another voice intoned, quite curious, and eloquent.

Zhot and Skritch glanced by, and took in the sight of a rat, standing tall, cloaked in grey robes of some human cloth. The hood was torn to pieces, so that several dozen horns could sprite from its head, curling in horrible, haphazard directions. Its face, equally ugly and scraggly, as all Skaven were, yet it seemed better put together, and perhaps better spoken. 

Zhot had never seen a Grey Seer before, and to see one now, boarding this cart instead of all others, made him inexplicably nervous. Just what were they anticipating? Were the surrounding areas that hard to raid?

"I am Khrol," The Seer introduced himself, nodding to the Gutter-Rat first, the Human Second, and the other two rats last. He spared the last two only a single nod, instead of one each.

"I have been asked by King-King himself," The other three rats recognized the name, and quickly began whispering in feverish whispers.

King-king sent a seer? 

"I have been sent to help." He reiterated. He clasped his hands together, hiding his paws within his sleeves. "Are we about ready to move on?"

And of course, they weren't. At that time, the general commotion of the wagon rumbling down the road behind them, approaching quickly, caused the majority of the other skaven and humans on this side of Tradetown to stop and stare, some longer than others.

On 8/2/2019 at 9:24 PM, Die Shize said:

he grand carriage and its coming was heralded by both the living and the non-living. A short pole sprouted from its roof, a banner rippling in the wind. Its sigil was of two black swords crossed below a black crown, a burning red cat’s eye with a black pupil in the crown’s center, on a field of red. Doubt held no place for truth as to how many if any among the Skaven and the humans in town would recognize the banner and pinpoint its owner. Word of the Skarr Clan's troubles and requests for assistance had traveled and, naturally, word of those who had taken up the call to arms just might have traveled back. Among them, the sellsword company called the Lost Scions and their leader, the Black Captain.

 

Flanking either side of the mechanical beast trotted twenty horses and their riders; hobgoblins in scaled armor, armed with swords and shields and a halberd to carry. The closer the convoy approached, the clearer the orange faces of the riders could be seen. They were not alone. Trailing behind them and their wheeled ward were smaller creatures on smaller steeds. These more lightly armed and armored goblins of about thirty in number were of an inferior breed, green-skinned and less orderly, though the direwolves that they rode were as organized as a pack.

 

There were creatures yet that bore no riders in their saddles, at least not at the moment. Nine there were, grouped together in harmony just behind the vehicle, with the wolves and their goblins surrounding. A horse that shimmered like a dark night with two red eyes and a silver mane, a white snow bear, a pink ostrich, a midnight blue panther, a green raptor, a brown yak, a gray boar, a tan camel and a red elk. Where such animals might have had smaller versions of themselves in the world, these ones were great enough to bear the body of a full-grown man if no one or nothing else. 

 

At the front of the armored wagon, which no steed need pull along, the seat held no rider, though as the entire convoy’s marks and makings could be made out with more distance covered it was equally clear that the wagon’s seat had behind it armored doors with narrow slits for windows where larger ones were sealed shut. When finally the wagon and its mounted entourage reached the town limits, their travels were halted before a collection of lesser wagons and steeds and the Skaven that surrounded them. A fair distance was kept, the convoy having planted hoof, paw and wheel just at the buildings’ perimeter, when a final puff of purple dissipated in the air and the low, distorted hum of the engine came to a choking death. 

 

What silence could be afforded had taken the place of the vehicle’s noise, with nary a goblin making a grunt. The hobgoblins sat astride their coursers, speechless and motionless, gazing at nothing and no one. Even their second-rate kinsmen were barely fidgeting upon the saddles of their direwolves, while each animal of the many that were with or without a rider seemed pacified enough to idle without aim. Here and there, a horse would whinny, a wolf would growl, the ostrich dipped its beak to the earth, the polar bear yawned and the raptor chewed on its claws that were almost as curved as the scimitars on the wagon’s banner. 

Zhot watched. Skritch watched. Thril sort of attempted to hide behind Vito and his grand beast, lest things get confusing quickly. The grand carriage, with its myriad of strange beasts, the odd crew manning the vehicle, and its dark, ominous banners were unknown, a rarity within the Forgotten Woods and to the Skaven. They looked on, anticipating whatever would come next.

Many of the humans, and other kin, however, got over it quickly. Those who did not, were quite interested in the mounts pulling the vehicle, or the strange operating crew. Many of the skaven around, took more convincing to leave.

Even more so when the passenger exited the vehicle. A series of hushed whispers in dark, terrified voices rippled through the nearby rats. 

Zhot gripped his glaive. Thril peered from behind Vito. The Grey Seer looked on, surprised.

On 8/2/2019 at 9:24 PM, Die Shize said:

Of which, in a moment, the front doors opened at the outer driver’s seat, the wagon’s height proving its purpose as a creature stepped out at six feet tall. Out of all of the souls gathered in this company, perhaps this one would offer the Skaven of this town in particular a view to behold, for they would quickly ascertain that they were looking at one of their own. Standing erect above and before them was a male Shkei, broad-shouldered and muscled beneath his garments. A gray duster draped down to his knees, a red cloak to his ankles, and beneath them both was black leather. The great rat’s black fur was rivaled only by a head of long silver hair that flowed down in between two maroon-colored horns that draped from forehead to the back of the head and behind. Amid a face that shared the grace of good looks gifted to most Shkei, this one had an eyepatch covering his left eye, while his other eye was as black and naked as his horse at the back of the wagon. 

 

The Shkei turned his head this way and that way, his one eye scanning the faces and the bodies of the Skaven, the other humanoid, and the wagons. My people. My race. My Rat-men. “Greetings”, he spoke, his voice deep and unwavering. “I am Veron Blacktear. I have come back.”

It was the Grey Seer that spoke up first. The other ratmen continued to whisper. Their voices and responses were vast, and nonuniform. Some whispered of envy, others of conspiracy. A few, scattered voices, whispered of possibility--that perhaps the rest of the Skaven clans had not died belowground after all.

"Veron Blacktear, welcome." He spoke not with reverence, or acceptance, or hate, but perhaps most importantly indifference. It extended its arms, in acceptance. "You have found what remains of the Skarr Clan. These are our lands, our works. The King-King, on his stone throne, welcomes all of us wayward Rat back into the fold."

 

Zhot watched, and listened to their conversation. They spoke in rat-speak, not rat-common, undercommon, or anything of that nature. He understood the words, but knew not how to speak the language back, much like the other skaven listening in.

"This is...unexpected," Thril hissed from behind Vito.

"You catch us at an unfortunate time." The Seer continued. "Our supplies dwindled, and we have little to offer you. Even now," He gestured towards the carts and wagons behind them, loading up with supplies. "Our traders and allies set out, hoping to secure temporary foodstuffs to keep us fed. We have nothing to offer you, here."

The implied question, then, was 'why have you come here?'

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Ragnar looked down at his map and sighed. "Fenris. You smell the stink of ratfolk any nearby?" He looks at the dire wolf and watches him sniff the air before bounding off directly to the east. "Alright so that works too." Slowly he walked after Fenris, presumably towards the smell of ratfolk. "Big dire wolf running full force into a Skaven nest. A portal would help about now." As the mentioning of a portal, one appears and with a shrug the big Viking jumps right through.

A portal rips open and Ragnar lands next to the raiding group. Upon seeing the group he doesn't move except to look around. A black cloaked Skaven, glaive wielding Skaven, a crossbow wielding Skaven, an obviously highly magical Skaven, a person and his reptilian mount and a massive party of goblinoid creatures with their mounts. With a bow towards the magical Skaven. "Name's Ragnar. Here to raid." He puts a hand on each of his weapons and smirks. As he puts his hands down, Fenris comes running and slides to a stop beside Ragnar. The dire wolf 4 inches taller than it's owner, reaching 7 feet in height. Quietly the dire wolf stares at Vito and Floki, sensing something familiar to them.

Silently he looked at the magical Skaven and motioned to the others raiding members. "What exactly are raiding for? And the lives of those we are raiding, are the to be spared or does it not matter? I understand this is for your survival but what are we to do to those who stop us? Or try to at least."

Edited by SteamWarden

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The scared skaven was quick to perk up, lowering her shield and weapon. Vito laughed inside as the skaven tried to pronounce his name, it wasn’t something uncommon to him. Years of working with various races has led to interest pronunciations of his name, but the little skaven did a better job than most. Thril was her name, a shadoweaver. This confused the raider, as he thought females were nothing more than broodmothers. Apparently his understanding of skaven culture needed improving, maybe he could learn more about them on the way. Was it worldwide or did skaven culture change from clan to clan?

“Thril Shadowweaver, sounds like powerful title. I’ll follow you.”

‘This is going to be a fun little journey.’

The raider followed the skaven, being lead to a cart with others sat atop. They appeared to be much scrawnier than expected, it was clear the famine had even reached the soldiers. One wielded a glaive, the other a crossbow. Their variety in weapons was good, he just questioned their experience and training. The two conversed back and forth, contempt with higher numbers. Another skaven came to join, following the same aesthetic the prior. However, this one was much more well spoken. He carried an aura about him, despite the similar appearance. A magic user, but what class remained a mystery.

‘Krol, sent by the king-king?’

'The way they speak is annoying.'

“Vito, good to meet you.” He introduced himself to the magic user, interested in the spells he may know.

The sound of wagon wheels got closer and closer. Thril slowly edged herself behind Floki, something Vito can’t deny that he's done in the past. The wagon carried enough armaments to flatten a small city, a platoon in its own right. As the wagon came to a holt, the door dramatically burst open. Out came…..another skaven?. This one was much taller and well built. Veron Blacktear, an individual who carried a powerful presence. Leaving the Skaven to welcome back the new member, he turned round to notice an enormous wolf looking down at Floki. The instant he saw the direwolf, he knew what it meant. He could feel the spheres presence and the wolf could smell the lingering lineage, pure instinct .He felt the behemoths fur, watching the flickering soul inside.

“Ahh, Chi’s good work. You'll be the perfect arsenal for a raid.”

Edited by Rabbit

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Veron watched the Skaven before him as they murmured and muttered, no doubt on account of the odd lot that had arrived at this village armed and armored, with a great metal wagon bearing a Rat greater than they were. It was only natural to mumble, and what whispers and wisps of words escaped those whiskered lips would be heard by the wind and in turn Veron’s two good ears. They pricked up as a voice was uttered with speech that came directly his way this time. They were three words that stood in place for three hundred bows of reception. Veron Blacktear had been welcomed.

On 8/4/2019 at 2:08 PM, Jotnotes said:

It was the Grey Seer that spoke up first. The other ratmen continued to whisper. Their voices and responses were vast, and nonuniform. Some whispered of envy, others of conspiracy. A few, scattered voices, whispered of possibility--that perhaps the rest of the Skaven clans had not died belowground after all.

"Veron Blacktear, welcome." He spoke not with reverence, or acceptance, or hate, but perhaps most importantly indifference. It extended its arms, in acceptance. "You have found what remains of the Skarr Clan. These are our lands, our works. The King-King, on his stone throne, welcomes all of us wayward Rat back into the fold."

Wayward Rats. The thought provoked a creeping corner upon Veron’s lips, though perhaps his own whiskers had hid it.

On 8/4/2019 at 2:08 PM, Jotnotes said:

"You catch us at an unfortunate time." The Seer continued. "Our supplies dwindled, and we have little to offer you. Even now," He gestured towards the carts and wagons behind them, loading up with supplies. "Our traders and allies set out, hoping to secure temporary foodstuffs to keep us fed. We have nothing to offer you, here."

The implied question, then, was 'why have you come here?'

As the Grey Seer spoke along, the Black Captain eyed Skarr Clan’s rout once more, this time paying attention to the elements in the midst who weren’t exactly rats and didn’t appear to be human townsfolk. A Gutter Rat was behind one of them, like a shadow behind a soul. Veron wondered how many more of them Nesthome could spawn amid its sorry army.  After the Grey Seer had finished speaking, Veron rolled his shoulders as though the cloak at his back were suddenly heavy. The door behind him, sealed shut upon exiting, helped hide whatever was within while the truth of Skarr Clan lay naked before its observer. He remained standing before the door, gazing down from the front of the wagon, his own army as silent as the wagon itself.

“You see a troop like mine and wonder why the arrival, but I tell you to see only me." Whatever language had been elected thus far, Veron was speaking in the common tongue now, so much so that anyone who wasn't Skaven would likely have no trouble understanding. "My wagon is like a ship, my company like a crew—I cannot sail without either. But here I am, Grey Seer, one rat and one soul, one purpose and one eye.” He smiled, watching the sorcerer as a gust of wind came with the sound of a banner rippling above the armored wagon. “Though you may not remember me or know my name, I am as much of Skarr Clan as you are. I have returned, brother, I have come back, and what you can offer me is a nest to call home, as I once did. What I can offer you is the food to fill it—with my own two hands and the hands of my crew.”

It was at that moment that a portal appeared out of nowhere, stealing Veron’s attention and causing the goblins in his force to tense up. Armor chinked and halberds and blades shifted in unison. All eyes were on the portal and what came out of it. Veron could hear the snarls and hisses of the various animals behind him, the growls of forty dire wolves trained on the larger one not of their pack. The master of those wolves and the goblins upon them might have signaled but there was no need. Not a creature in his company moved beyond a stir. They knew better.

Edited by Die Shize

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Aoura had woken up early in the morning, following her daily routine as she had since the day her family had arrived at Tradetown. A meager breakfast made for her mother and two siblings, water gathered from a nearby well - it was a routine she had become so accustomed to that despite the growing tension in her chest, the anticipation in her bones; she could not shake it. 

Today was the day, the day Aoura would join the rat-men and whoever else volunteered on a terrible mission; to raid others for what they so desperately lacked. Aoura had delayed long as she could to spend time with her family, knowing that even if she returned alive her hands would be forever stained, and their relationship forever different. Aoura wanted desperately to soak in the soft melancholy of her family, to feel their unconditional love as long as she could. Yet the time dragged ever forward, and so she found herself standing outside the entry to their pathetic shack they called a home, her father's spear gripped tight in her hands. 

"Must you go, little dove?" A homely woman said, her sad eyes and bent posture suggesting she expected the answer before she got it. 

"I must, Mama." Aoura replied. 

Aoura's mother sighed, her weary features drooping further. If Aoura was a cute, spunky red head determined to survive then her mother was a powerful woman defeated by life's trials. A full head taller then most men and with a frame even in malnutrition that spoke of a once well fed life style the homely red head's embrace was crushing, her tears held back only by the thinnest of margins. 

Two boys in their early years stood beside the large woman, their little hands grasping the hem of her filthy dress. They were spitting images of each other, with the same bright orange hair that the whole family shared, but they further sported freckles. Unlike Aoura and her mother the boys were relatively clean and well fed, a clear indication what little food they had had primarily been given to them. 

"Good luck!" One said, the other parroting it in response. 

Aoura smiled, ruffling their hair and turning away from her family and marching down the mud road toward the growing commotion. 

Aoura herself barely looked the part, five foot four and with her current level of malnutrition likely around ninety pounds Aoura did not paint the image of a raider. Her bright orange hair, and big puppy dog eyes gave her a sweet, child like look which was further assisted by her button features and high pitched, cute voice. Perhaps in a different world, under different circumstances she would have embraced those parts of herself, but that world did not exist. Instead her hands grasped tight to a spear far taller then herself, her body covered in rusted chainmail and an orange tabard. 

Her hands were perhaps the only hint Aoura was more then she appeared, rough and calloused in all the right places to suggest the large polearm was more then decoration.

Late to the party Aoura looked toward the shielded carriage with some confidence, the rat-men were sending a good force and it appeared two outsiders had taken up the call. Both had beasts by their side, and both struck her as types who had raided before. Perhaps the most jarring thing was the other rat-man, cleaner then the others, standing straighter and surrounded by denizens of the many races which Aoura once feared, hated and dreamed of slaying but now considered ally. He had conjured a manifestation, a portal or some reality warping magik which looking directly at made Aoura uncomfortable.

It's very presence frayed at the edges of her vision, giving her a feeling of dread and madness she struggled to fully shake without breaking her line of sight with it. Determined to not be a burden Aoura marched forward, saying nothing as she pulled herself into the carriage proper and took a seat, her spear between her legs with the point skyward, her eyes locked on the portal despite it's effects on her. Whatever the fancy rat man was doing, she hoped it would help them get the supplies they needed, and if it loosed a horror on the world then so be it. 

 

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13 hours ago, Die Shize said:

“You see a troop like mine and wonder why the arrival, but I tell you to see only me." Whatever language had been elected thus far, Veron was speaking in the common tongue now, so much so that anyone who wasn't Skaven would likely have no trouble understanding. "My wagon is like a ship, my company like a crew—I cannot sail without either. But here I am, Grey Seer, one rat and one soul, one purpose and one eye.” He smiled, watching the sorcerer as a gust of wind came with the sound of a banner rippling above the armored wagon. “Though you may not remember me or know my name, I am as much of Skarr Clan as you are. I have returned, brother, I have come back, and what you can offer me is a nest to call home, as I once did. What I can offer you is the food to fill it—with my own two hands and the hands of my crew.”

Krohl listened, ears twitching somewhat, yet he didn't return the smile. His kin's adulation for the Skarr clan was comforting to some, but served as a bitter reminder for the Seer that, in a number of ways, they all paid their dues to the Skarr clan in a number of ways. There were some that might even resent the Shkei. For being well-fed, certainly, but also for coming home at all. But to hear that he would help them, help them try to gather more food, was sufficient for Krohl, at least. He could suffer newcomers, or returning champions alike.

Others were arriving now, about wrapping up the party's rally at the wagon. From his spot on the wagon, Zhot saw a young man-thing--a girl-thing, he supposed--carrying another large spear. As she hurried along, she marched straight for the wagon and none else. They weren't so different from man-things, then. They all pushed themselves at youth to work tirelessly, even in times of minimal food. Zhot scooted along, giving her space to climb aboard the wagon.

Around that time, a low rumble of thunder sounded overhead, despite the mostly clear skies, and the smell of ozone overpowered the area around them. In a sudden burst of white noise, a tear in the air nearby, like a rip made in fabric, appeared, and from it another newcomer arrived.

The majority of the Skaven reacted uncomfortably to the grand arrival of Veron and his smoking, clanking carriage, overburdened with other animals and species. However, they reacted far worse to a portal being ruptured close by, within the borders of the city. As it was torn open, many townsfolk--and townsrats--scrambled back, suddenly giving the departure area a wide berth. Those with weapons collected them quickly, assuming a very rapid, very flimsy response should any visitors prove to be hostile. Krohl himself took a step back in surprise, but did little to engage with beyond doing so, looking on for the time being. From her hiding spot, Thril tensed, her bladed shields at the ready.

When the visitor stepped through, they remained stationary, until the portal closed up behind the newcomer; who took in the various carriages and rats before making his intentions plain.

On 8/5/2019 at 6:07 PM, SteamWarden said:

Silently he looked at the magical Skaven and motioned to the others raiding members. "What exactly are raiding for? And the lives of those we are raiding, are the to be spared or does it not matter? I understand this is for your survival but what are we to do to those who stop us? Or try to at least."

There was another pause, before the Seer stepped forward. Without really meaning to, the rat emerged as an unofficial speaker for the party. 

"Tradetown and Nesthome are growing far more quickly than we are prepared for," He explained, loud enough to remind all of their situation. He scrutinized the wayward teleporter briefly before continuing to speak. He was well armed and confident. Krohl figured he could put him on the front line, should a proper raid ever be necessary.

"To offset the wait time for Tradetown's farms to begin bearing fruit for the man-thing inhabitants, we are to find alternatives for the time being. That means townsteads, villages and farmsteads are acceptable targets. However, we also have many, many markers, should be find points of interest." He gestured towards the shields and banners on the otherwise bare wagon. Zhot, for a moment forgetting that they were referring to the shields, waved awkwardly.

"These shields will be burned near ideal targets for attack;" Krohl went on. "Cities, towns, enemy camps. If we need more men to pillage it--and we believe we can gain from doing so, we are to burn a shield. We have scouts everywhere--if they spot a column of smoke, they will return to Nesthome, obtain a waiting garrison and rally to the smoke."

There was a bit more to be explained. Some of Tradetown's helpers today clearly weren't interested in mindless murder and petty theft, after all.

"Those who help in the raids have priority choosing over any land claims, treasure, or prisoners the Skarr Clan may take. That is your payment for a job well done."

He crossed his arms again, and glanced about. 

"Any further questions?"

 

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IC Ambience [Recurring]

Spoiler

 

 

As his own force maintained their positions, Veron stood with both wrists resting on the pommels of either sword sheathed at his hips, watching as the commotion died down among the Skaven in reaction to the portal and its beasts of burden. It was nothing new to the Black Captain, but perhaps an all too unfamiliar sight to the Rat-folk of Nesthome, even the humans of Tradetown. To the Grey Seer, perhaps? What powers has he mastered? What tricks and trappings has he ensnared? What portals has he dreamt? It had been a while but the order of the Grey Seers was not one that Veron was like to forget. Spiteful, vicious sorcerers, ones with a power that other Rats were not oft to reckon with. They shared something in common with Veron’s goblins; the Grey Seers were eunuchs, robbed of sack and member, like a bird without wings. I once dreamt that I could fly. My dream came true. 

 

The Grey Seer had a captive audience among all parties present in this circus of desires. Veron was happy to hear him out. His first sentence had said it all. The Skaven and their Skarr Clan were expanding ever since they had left their holes for the trees above and the buildings about. Growth, for a Rat, was no small spurt—in size of the group, if not quite size of the individual. The Grey Seer had earlier spoken of the Shkei and his crew coming at an unfortunate time, yet his foresight had not been good to him. The timing could not have been more fortunate. 

 

Veron followed the gazes toward the wagon with the shields; a paltry cart on wheels that sat like a splintered version of his own great and armored wagon. They both bore banners, though where one standard was scrawled with three bones the other was painted with two swords and a crown, and an eye that watched everything and everyone.

 

When all was said and done, Veron propped a boot upon the backrest of the driver’s seat before him, where reins would be held for steeds tethered to the wagon, yet there were no animals presently attached to this one. The magitech engine was enough. Leaning forward, he narrowed his eye over the mass, Rat or otherwise. They were all gathered here today for the same reasons that he was: plunder and prize. 

 

“Hear me, kinsmen or not! What we are about to do, I have done before, many times over. The Ratmen among you have known earth above and below, a forest and a town, but I have known much and more. Where I have been, the living know me as the Despoiler, and spoils I shall give you!” 

 

Veron paused for a moment, gauging reactions. Among the Skaven, a number were scoffing and whispering once again, no doubt with mistrust if not contempt for their foreign counterpart. There some who would yet understand. There were few enough whose envy would become hunger, and that was well and good. In the end, all of them were hungry, and their speaker had come to feed the hungry.

 

“You do not need to know me. You do not need to like me. You only need to follow me in this hunt, for I promise you victory and I will give you a feast for rats!”

Edited by Die Shize

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Vito watched the ongoing conversation with the new arrivals, choosing to stick away. He remounted Floki and moved beside the main wagon, ready for departure. The Seer stepped forward, giving a small speech. The reason was simple and so was the plan, they wanted things and the party was to go get said things. Apparently they had their own method of alerting others, burning shields for nearby scouts to pick up on and return with reinforcements. Vito didn't like the concept of having to wait on rallying forces, but he was also a guest in this raid and would do as they pleased.

'So, they do have some intelligence.'

'Do you ever stop mocking others?'

'No.'

On 8/7/2019 at 5:02 PM, Jotnotes said:

"Any further questions?"

"How long is it expected to take before the rallied forces to arrive? I know it'll all depend on distance, but do we have rough estimations based on known towns?"

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On 8/10/2019 at 1:46 PM, Die Shize said:

“Hear me, kinsmen or not! What we are about to do, I have done before, many times over. The Ratmen among you have known earth above and below, a forest and a town, but I have known much and more. Where I have been, the living know me as the Despoiler, and spoils I shall give you!” 

Ragnar chuckled quietly and looked at Veron. 'Another... 'person' who's raided numerous times before. So we have another experienced member.' Quietly listening to everything that's being said by the Skaven he rested on Fenris and closed his eyes, waiting. The raid was to happen soon enough and he'd most likely be set up front in case stuff went south along with the other humanoid raider, Vito, and the Skaven, Veron. Smiling at this realization, he cracked his knuckles and open his eyes, before turning his attention to Fenris.

"Fenris. How do you feel about having a meal?" He watched the large dire wolf bare it's teeth in a sort of toothy smile before laying down beside it's master. With a turn he faced the raiding party, hearing Vito's question. "I wanna believe the smaller towns and cities, with what we have now, wouldn't be hard at all to raid. I guess it all matters on the ratfolk if they want backup to arrive. Looking at what we have now we seem capable." He quietly looks at the Skaven with the glaive and sees the inexperience they have by their expression. "Most of us at least."

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1 hour ago, Rabbit said:

"How long is it expected to take before the rallied forces to arrive? I know it'll all depend on distance, but do we have rough estimations based on known towns?"

The Grey Seer glanced towards Vito. He hadn't looked in the figure's direction until now, and took a moment to size him up all at once, and looked mostly unimpressed with what he saw. There was almost an air of arrogance about Krohl as he replied.

"Our people have eyes everywhere, all the time." He said simply. "Once we start burning the shield, eyes will find it quickly. We will have hundreds of rats, at a moment's notice. Enough to pick towns clean and carry it all off again."

As if to make a point, he walked over to the cart, but reached instead for one of the flags hanging over the wagon. Zhot noticeably flinched away from the Seer's bitter gaze as he took the banner and walked it over. 

"If we wave this around after burning a shield, one of our scouts will  meet with us first. We can give them more complex requests, if need be. They might send another Grey Seer, or Slavers to us, or an Alchemancer, if we request. Good for harder jobs."

Zhot didn't know if he could handle having more Grey Seers around them. His time in the spawning pits and in the depths of Nesthome had taught him to be wary of the cruel Seers, and the way they acted so high and mighty above the rest of them. He clutched his glaive closer, the heavy thing wobbling in his reach.

1 hour ago, SteamWarden said:

"I wanna believe the smaller towns and cities, with what we have now, wouldn't be hard at all to raid. I guess it all matters on the ratfolk if they want backup to arrive. Looking at what we have now we seem capable." He quietly looks at the Skaven with the glaive and sees the inexperience they have by their expression. "Most of us at least."

 

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Aoura listened and watched, gauging the character of each person who interjected into the conversation on tactics. Even with their foreign features Aoura could see how the other rat-men reacted to the robed, horned rat - he was clearly the leader, but his leadership was not built on respect; it was built on fear. It was another reminder that in the grand scheme of the world Aoura was no longer on the side of the 'good' or the 'just' from the tales, but instead partnered with that which many would call evil. Of course reality was somewhere far more gray, and Aoura had learned that harder then most her age. 

A further curiosity was how the rat-man who had summoned the portal carried himself, both in his body language and in his words he represented himself as persecuted, hated by his own. Aoura couldn't imagine what would make the rat-men hate one of their own, and Aoura decided that above all else she would avoid this 'Despoiler' if she could.

The man riding the large lizard was an enigma, not least of which was because of his covered features. He seemed experienced, and perhaps a bit cautious in nature judging if his question to the horned rat was anything to go by. 

That left only the large human looking man and his massive wolf. He had a casual, almost excited air about him. She had heard of barbarian men, whom lost their mind in battle but she had never actually seen one. Like his wolf he had a predatory gaze, as if everyone and everything existed for him to devour. 

It was a motley crew, but Aoura couldn't shake that everyone here from the scared rat-men to the giant wolf saw her as little more then a burden. This bothered her more then she expected, but it would do her little good to voice her displeasure - she would have to prove it, and if the growing conviction her eyes spoke of anything at all, it was that she intended to do just that. 

All that was left to do was listen and wait, the carnage would begin soon enough.

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No more questions came up. Satisfied, the Grey Seer glanced towards the cart they were expected to pilot, and the few other vehicles other raiders had brought with them. Between the lot of them, their little caravan was small and functional, some pieces moreso than others. Not that the wagon they were bringing was meant for the troops, of course. Instead, the misshapen machine was meant only to carry their signals, and later on carry the food that they'd send back to Nesthome. With little else to do now, he gestured for the party to prepare to leave.

The rats all climbed aboard the same wagon, as did the little human-thing they'd acquired. Zhot had to sit next to her on board the wagon, and he gave her lots of space. Opposite him in the wagon sat the crossbow-rat, still toying with his weapon. The Grey Seer Krohl elected not to climb aboard the wagon at all, comfortable to walk alongside the vessel. 

Thril didn't go to the wagon right away, but instead looked back at Vito, the mysterious and dark figure she'd encountered on her way in. Perhaps it was just the way he was dressed, or the way he addressed her, but the man-thing made her feel much more self-aware than she'd normally be. After all, Gutter instructions would have her stay off the wagon and a fair distance from the group, should she need to quickly evade attack. But now she was lost; did she climb on the wagon with the others, or walk like the Grey Seer? She didn't really know or want to do any of that, for some reason. 

Instead, the Gutter Rat turned to Vito, and asked, as politely and sweetly as her scratch voice might allow. 

"Following Gutters is not smart-plan. But maybe Vee-Toe would let Thril walk next to him, yes?" She asked eagerly. "Gutter Rat can always leave if danger-sense arrives."

Once the party was prepared to move, the wagon was pushed onward, and the solitary march out of the city began. The rickety old rat-wagon helmed the pecking order, with the other vehicles falling in line as they saw fit, bristling with warriors and weapons and all sorts of clinking, clanking parts.

The Grey Seer started their travel adjacent to the wagons, but once they left the sights of Nesthome, slowed down briefly as he surveyed their team of would-be raiders. He passed by Zhot and Skritch with little more than a passing glance, that neither of them shared. He took a longer moment to look at Aoura, and her little spear, before giving a toothy grin--or perhaps a sneer.

"Man-things send their young to die for food as well?" He prompted, before nodding at her spear. "Weapon is well-worked. Rats will keep girl-thing and family fed if she can work-use it well."

Elsewhere, Thril attempted to make conversation with 'Vee-Toe', on her current object of fascination: his attire. 

"This rat thinks that dark clothes are very useful," She told him in all seriousness. "Makes rats like Thril look sneaky and dangerous."

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