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[Skarr Clan] Mouths to Feed

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IC Ambience

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There was something sweet about the serene surroundings of the day that Veron could not quite put his finger on. Maybe it was the clink-clank of chains jingling and jangling, the click-clack of wagon wheels rolling over mud and grass and stone, the clip-clop of hooves as horses and other beasts walked and trotted along, further and further away from Nesthome. Everything and everyone was a band and a chorus amid the chirping of birds and the warm sun that shone over all. It was peaceful, tranquil, and almost didn’t sit right with the reason for this traveling gathering, given the rapine that they were about to revel in. 

 

“Days like this make me wish for a hammock and a horn of ale, wouldn’t you agree?”

 

Veron spoke as soon as the door behind him opened. He was sat in the driver’s seat of his armored wagon, a vehicle almost twice the height of the ones lined up before his own. The latter were the best that the Skaven of Nesthome could have arranged, he had no doubt about it, but they were wooden wheelbarrows to his iron Scourge. 

 

“I’ve never quite grown accustomed to the sun. Somehow it seems to burn skin even as black as mine own.” Bereft of feeling, the drow spoke just above a whisper as he closed the door behind him, sitting beside his captain in the driver’s seat. They both had an unhindered view of Skarr Clan’s recon team before them and the helpers beyond the Lost Scions themselves. The spatial hum of the engine at the back of the Scourge was as inviting as the day, propelling the vehicle where no beasts were attached to the wagon at the front to pull it along. “V'elnatha was deep and dark, like dwarven halls or your Skaven caverns.”

 

Wruzree Dryaalyrr was a soft-spoken soul, so much so that even Veron would sometimes have to strain to hear him. “I would have liked to visit your home,” he smiled, thinking of his own memories of home and the ones wrapped up in the stories of his commander. “Before your enemy turned it into a ruin, that is.” Veron watched his subordinate for a reaction but the drow had not a shred of emotion to dissect with one eye. On Wruzree’s face, rage and joy looked much the same. Mild in manner, small in speech, he tended to let his whip do the talking. That was just as well. Veron left himself to silence as he basked in the sunlight, watching the Rats speak their gibberish to one another, including those who were neither Skarr Clan nor Lost Scion. 

 

Lounging in his seat, the Black Captain reached beside himself for a voice tube and brought it to his mouth. “Take us to the front. About thirty meters ahead.” He pushed the voice tube away, the hidden operators of his wagon doing his bidding in a moment. The foraging party was far enough out now that it was time to start making moves. All at once, the Scourge, the hobgoblins and the horses, the goblins and their direwolves, and the riderless beasts of sundry species and colors picked up their pace and began to travel from the rearguard to the front.

 

The smoke that rose from the armored wagon’s engine at its back continued to dissipate into thin air a little above the roof, a thick cloud like violet velvet fuming from the chimney as the Scourge was sped up. Horses, wolves and more broke into canters and jogs to keep up, the entire company of the Lost Scions gradually overtaking the group of wagons and their traffic now at the side. Eventually, the mercenary contingent slowed to a halt about a hundred feet in front of the Skaven, where now an armored wagon served as the vanguard. 

 

The Scourge had stopped, its engine still a gentle hum as it faced away from the main body of scouts and raiders, the hobgoblin cavalry still flanking the wagon, the goblin wolf riders still at the rear, the motley steeds still in their midst. Now, it was Veron’s turn to face the Skaven force some thirty meters in front of him where he still sat with his commander at the driver’s seat of the wagon. The Lost Scions made no movement, letting their would be allies catch up. Veron stood up for their arrival, looking for the Grey Seer as he spoke to be heard by all.

 

“North. East. South. West." He didn't break eye contact with the party as he named off the cardinal directions, but in a moment he began nodding toward each one in respective sequence, starting with north. "Ride seven hundred miles that way, you're in the Forbidding Hills. Four hundred miles that way, the Dark Forest. Three hundred miles that way, Hidden Valley. Twelve hundred miles that way, Ponkapoag Lake. The realm is larger than Nesthome and Tradetown combined. And you are the new generation of the realm.”

 

As he paused to survey faces and bodies, Veron wondered how much of what he said would reach the heart and resonate in the mind. Are there any feelers out there? Any thinkers? “For today, however, we need cover less than half of any number I have given. At this point, I will take all four directions and I will send outriders to earn their miles. You and yours are free to take anywhere in between, if you so choose, but best not to ride on the heels of mine… I have a host of troops, that is cleartoo clear for any outside eyes. A portion of my force will start keeping back a distance as I command... Any questions?”

Edited by Die Shize

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With the questions answered and everyone seemingly happily, the journey got underway. The rats climbed aboard, Vito trying to hold back his laughter as he watched to little skaven try to lift themselves up. Giving his mount a pat, he brought himself to the side of the main wagon. With the day still young they should make go progress in search, maybe a raid if they were lucky.  He noticed the gutter rat Thrill seemingly turn to him, her skaven voice seemingly trying to be as smooth as possible. 

20 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

"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."

"Of course, feel free to jump on the back of Floki if you get tired."

'I'll never understand your fondness of these vermin.

The wagon began moving, the sound of metal clanging and the rickety old wood squeaky was far from his ideal music. The wagons seemed to have a rough order, with the other units simply moving with the leading cart. Veron's cart took lead, a smart choice given it surpassed the tech of the other wagons by 2 giant steps. The little skaven called Thril still walked close to Vito's side, trying to converse trying to get fashion advice. This was a new for the raider.

20 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

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

 "Agreed, dark clothes on a dark night are the way to go. Can't fight someone you can't see, and of course it makes you look cool and dangerous. So, I'm guessing you enjoy being sneaky when fighting." Vito reached into his large belt pouch, scavenging around for a little something. He pulled out a dark leather cloak, far too small for him. But for someone of skaven size, it'd be a perfect fit. He handed it to Thril, hoping she'd like it. "Tanned chimera hide, a reward I got for killing a dragon. I originally made this for a badgerfolk, but he unfortunately passed away before I could give it to him. You may have it, put it to good use."

~~~

9 hours ago, Die Shize said:

"Ride seven hundred miles that way, you're in the Forbidden Hills. Four hundred miles that way, the Dark Forest. Three hundred miles that way, Hidden Valley. Twelve hundred miles that way, Ponkapoag Lake. The realm is larger than Nesthome and Tradetown combined. And you are the new generation of the realm.”

 

"I've traveled these lands many times by airship, more times than I care to count. Whilst you'll find settlements in any direction, west is where you'll find the bulk of them. Tons can be found by the western rivers and roads, but it'll also be the longest journey. Kind of a double edged sword, but if we're here for profit then it shouldn't be too much of an issue." Vito waited for a response.  

Edited by Rabbit

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Seeing the Skaven get on the wagons and the raiding party get a move, Ragnar stayed towards the back of the group, preferring to keep an eye on everyone else. Staying quiet he just listened to every conversation happening which thankfully he picked up every word of it all. A Skaven named Thril talked to Vito about sneak stuff. He wasn't really listening to the conversation until he heard about a 'badgerfolk' had passed away. With a mournful look he knew Vito meant Chinafel and looked at Fenris, knowing the dire wolf heard it too. Fenris wasn't has emotional but still felt a bit of sadness for the being that aided in it's creation. 

Watching Veron's vehicle go on ahead, a slight whistle could be heard from behind the group and if anyone looked behind, the dire wolf was gone from it's place and had dashed to the sides, taking cover in the trees while steadily keeping up the raiding party. Quickening his pace he walked to wagon that held the Skaven and the ginger girl and spoke to them, eyes forward. "Glaive rat. How experienced are you with your weapon?" He waited for the answer and regardless of what answer he received he slowed his pace to go back to where he was at originally. All he needed to know is if the rat would be more of an obstacle with it's experience, or lack of, or an asset.

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As the forest quickly dissipated behind them, giving way to other terrains, while the trees vanished behind them; The rats heading the pack paused their actions and conversations as Veron and his small army pulled ahead. Goblins rode by on beasts large enough to devour them whole, riding alongside a massive wagon that chewed up the frail path before them. As it tumbled further ahead, the smoke rolling out of it, crawling high into the sky threatened to cast shade over the rest of the caravan, who rode in the vehicle's wake. Long before the Skaven had invaded the Forgotten Woods, there were no roads leading to or from the woods, cursed as they were. Even still, the woods posed a great threat to visitors, yet the persistent clear-cutting and firebreaking the rats carried out had carved out huge chunks of the forest, making way for some travelers to get through. Even so, there were no notable roads coming from the forest yet, and those that did exist were pale, fragile tracks from smaller vessels and footfalls. These meager trails were consumed, wholly by the great cart ahead of them.

As it pulled further and further ahead, it just as easily stopped, and the rest of the convoy caught up with it. The weak, thin horses hauling the skaven and their cart came to a halt when they drew close, and now the entirety of the raiding party had stopped in the middle of the road. Zhot looked forward at them, ears twitching anxiously, unsure of what was going on, while Skritch only glanced up temporarily, before going back to his weapon. His obsession over it seemed hard to break, certainly.

The Grey Seer looked forward, too, but more than anything he simply seemed annoyed by this delay.

On 8/13/2019 at 8:40 PM, Die Shize said:

“North. East. South. West." He didn't break eye contact with the party as he named off the cardinal directions, but in a moment he began nodding toward each one in respective sequence, starting with north. "Ride seven hundred miles that way, you're in the Forbidden Hills. Four hundred miles that way, the Dark Forest. Three hundred miles that way, Hidden Valley. Twelve hundred miles that way, Ponkapoag Lake. The realm is larger than Nesthome and Tradetown combined. And you are the new generation of the realm.”

 

There was a pause in his words, and Krohl's scowl turned into a puzzled frown. Even educated as he might be, he was still of the forest. Many of them were, save for maybe Skritch, one of the eldest in the raiding party. These words and places meant nothing to the rats. Miles, and Valleys, Rivers and Hills. Pointless, as far as the Skaven went. 

On 8/14/2019 at 5:41 AM, Rabbit said:

"I've traveled these lands many times by airship, more times than I care to count. Whilst you'll find settlements in any direction, west is where you'll find the bulk of them. Tons can be found by the western rivers and roads, but it'll also be the longest journey. Kind of a double edged sword, but if we're here for profit then it shouldn't be too much of an issue." Vito waited for a response.  

Thril looked up from her new cloak, up to Vito as he spoke, ears twitching beneath her tattered hood. She strained to catch every syllable, focusing on what she had to assume was his lips and tongue forming each word, how they sounded coming from a native speaker. Her focus was intense, and if he could see her stare, it was likely equally so. She clutched her new cloak closely, as if clinging to every word just as tight as the fabric in her hands.

The Grey Seer glanced backwards too, to listen to Vito speak. It was useful information, and reminded the Seer that they were not alone on this journey. They had outside information, which would be invaluable.

Zhot paid attention to everyone speaking, in equal amounts. Veron, the Shkei warrior that helmed that peculiar warrior's band, made little sense describing the world to him...except that something about seeing the world made him feel a certain burning curiousity. There was this whole, huge world beyond the scope of their imaginations, and Zhot would be one of the few to see it from his homeland. He'd be seeing it firsthand--and participating in its destruction, for the betterment of his people. Looking at the glaive he could just barely wield, a surge of cowardice hit him, his ears pressing against his skull. He was hardly a leader, and certainly not a seasoned warrior. What knew he of the world, and how to survive it?

The other human (was he human? Zhot didn't know) Vito spoke up then, describing seeing the world from...an airship, whatever that was. Was that like a wagon? Still, it seemed as though he knew the world and the places therein.

Not long after, the heat of a nearby beast caused him to balk, and he spun in place, weapon wielded at the beastrider who had strode up next to the cart.

On 8/14/2019 at 2:59 PM, SteamWarden said:

"Glaive rat. How experienced are you with your weapon?"

Zhot glanced at his weapon, then back at the speaker. What was the right answer here?

"Rat will kill-kill, or die-die." He offered unhelpfully. As the rider vanished again, retreating to his position, Zhot tried to see how they carried their weapons. He couldn't find much to look at, and gave up quickly. He glanced over at Skritch, still toying with his weapon. He was always fine-tuning it, double-checking the sights, the parts that made it work, seeing how it felt in his hands. Zhot had a creeping suspicion that perhaps there was a lesson to be learned there.

On 8/13/2019 at 8:40 PM, Die Shize said:

As he paused to survey faces and bodies, Veron wondered how much of what he said would reach the heart and resonate in the mind. Are there any feelers out there? Any thinkers? “For today, however, we need cover less than half of any number I have given. At this point, I will take all four directions and I will send outriders to earn their miles. You and yours are free to take anywhere in between, if you so choose, but best not to ride on the heels of mine… I have a host of troops, that is cleartoo clear for any outside eyes. A portion of my force will start keeping back a distance as I command... Any questions?”

Skritch spoke up then, just loud enough for everyone near the cart to hear, including Veron.

"We want fast results more than we want good results." He said simply.

Krohl looked to him, and strode forward. "Explain yourself."

Skritch didn't even glance at him, unconcerned. "Young-rats only need many-food while growing. Food lets rat-growth good." He tweaked the string a bit, and tested it briefly. "If raid-rats bring back some food fast, more rats long-live, more rats food-find, more rats for raid-runs."

Zhot, glanced at his other fellow rats. It made a lot of sense to him, what Skritch had said, but he needed to be sure everyone thought it was a good idea, before he agreed to it. Krohl seemed to be musing over the suggestion in his head, and Thril...was sniffing her new cloak. He didn't know why, but he supposed the Gutter had taken a shine to the odd figure and his darkened clothes. Regardless, she was of no help now.

And yet, Zhot realized that nearly all of them were more useful than he was, come a fight. He glanced back at his glave and, out of curiousity, let the heavy end drop, striking the interior of the wagon. It buried itself in the wood, about half an inch. Zhot supposed then that if he wielded it in a way that let him apply greater force to swinging it downward--and quicker, he could hit harder with it. Experimentally, he began feeling along the handle, looking for a sound point to grasp at.

The Grey Seer nodded, finally accepting Skritch's observation. 

"If we can find close-by targets first, we should take them. The sooner we can provide results, the better for Nesthome, and Tradetown. Once we are confident in our efforts, we can take our time moving outward. Moving food otherwise will be time-consuming."

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IC Ambience

Spoiler

 

As Wruzree remained sitting beside him Veron stayed standing, examining as many faces as he could in the time between words. A number of Rats if not all tilted their heads this way and that, lifted their snouts as though sniffing something that they weren’t understanding, twirled whiskers, looked to one another, scratched their skulls. It was as Veron had suspected. The Ratkin of Nesthome and their illustrious Skarr Clan had once done away with war and sued for peace. They had survived a great catastrophe that had culled their population. They had defeated a foe to in turn conquer that foe’s forest. Yet they were still an unlearned folk, blind to the world beyond their stone wardens and their wooden sentinels, their little reality like a nest of eggs that never quite hatched. The Skaven’s ignorance dripped from their own chittering tongues that their outcast had once called a language.  I forgot what a small and noisy folk they are, my Ratmen. Could he blame them? An isolated society knew only isolation. Education came with experience. His kin had neither. But I have both, in two good hands.

On 8/14/2019 at 6:41 AM, Rabbit said:

"I've traveled these lands many times by airship, more times than I care to count. Whilst you'll find settlements in any direction, west is where you'll find the bulk of them. Tons can be found by the western rivers and roads, but it'll also be the longest journey. Kind of a double edged sword, but if we're here for profit then it shouldn't be too much of an issue." Vito waited for a response.  

As Veron fought back his own frown, another voice entered the scene, though this one had come with words strung together as well as Veron’s own. A humanoid in dark clothing and a white mask made out of what might have been bone. The hood of this figure betrayed him as a covert type, perhaps a spy or an assassin; someone to watch out for. Whatever he was, he appeared to know his way around places as much as certain others in this rout, but his sense of scale and gauge of distance was too off target for Veron’s taste.

13 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

Skritch spoke up then, just loud enough for everyone near the cart to hear, including Veron.

"We want fast results more than we want good results." He said simply.

Krohl looked to him, and strode forward. "Explain yourself."

Skritch didn't even glance at him, unconcerned. "Young-rats only need many-food while growing. Food lets rat-growth good." He tweaked the string a bit, and tested it briefly. "If raid-rats bring back some food fast, more rats long-live, more rats food-find, more rats for raid-runs."

Zhot, glanced at his other fellow rats. It made a lot of sense to him, what Skritch had said, but he needed to be sure everyone thought it was a good idea, before he agreed to it. Krohl seemed to be musing over the suggestion in his head, and Thril...was sniffing her new cloak. He didn't know why, but he supposed the Gutter had taken a shine to the odd figure and his darkened clothes. Regardless, she was of no help now.

And yet, Zhot realized that nearly all of them were more useful than he was, come a fight. He glanced back at his glave and, out of curiousity, let the heavy end drop, striking the interior of the wagon. It buried itself in the wood, about half an inch. Zhot supposed then that if he wielded it in a way that let him apply greater force to swinging it downward--and quicker, he could hit harder with it. Experimentally, he began feeling along the handle, looking for a sound point to grasp at.

The Grey Seer nodded, finally accepting Skritch's observation. 

"If we can find close-by targets first, we should take them. The sooner we can provide results, the better for Nesthome, and Tradetown. Once we are confident in our efforts, we can take our time moving outward. Moving food otherwise will be time-consuming." 

It was none other than a Rat who spoke next, a one-eared thing whose one sentence had pricked both of Veron’s ears. As the Grey Seer entered the conversation, Veron watched and listened, curious to learn the dynamics of this brood. A corner of his lips tugged upward as the Grey Seer went scarcely heard. The childish speech of the Ratkin was always testy on the ears, but Veron heard the other rat loud and clear. Brains enough to think with beyond chiseling teeth. Just what I need. His trance was broken by sudden movement, eye darting in time to catch a polearm fall against a wagon. Attention was a fickle thing amongst this folk, evidently, though Veron’s was stolen back by the Grey Seer. At the latter’s words, he reached into his clothing to pull out a small handful of nuts, cracking one open and popping it into his mouth.

“This one speaks of flying wagons,” Veron pointed at the figure in the white mask. “But all we have down here are wheels. West is well and good, with its rivers and roads, and cities even better, but twelve hundred miles—” Without breaking his speech, he walked two fingers across the air for the Skaven’s sake. “—is a journey for flying wagons.” He cracked another nut with his teeth, halting his tongue just long enough to chew.

“I have a little army at my command.” He shrugged. “We eat and drink well enough as we move. With all of you, however, we are an army that is a little bigger. The more we are and the further we go, the more we eat and the less food we have to bring back to tunnel and town, and the longer we are away from both. I agree with your Grey Seer and the one before him: fast results first. You—we—need nearby targets nearest to nest. The realm can wait.” He spat out a shell after sucking out its salt. "On that note..."

OOC Music

Spoiler

 

Trailing off, Veron nodded at his commander beside him who slowly but surely spoke into a voice tube. Not even the one soul nearest to the drow could hear what was said, but it was known. A moment later, there was noise and movement at the back of the armored wagon. The smaller goblins on their larger wolves spread further apart and shifted aside, creating an opening in their midst that was wide enough to permit the passage of four distinct beasts.

Two came walking toward one side of the wagon, two at the other; a white snow bear, a green raptor, a tan camel, a red elk. They bore no riders on their backs and appeared as docile as broken whores. Veron didn't need to look to know what happened next, content with eating his snack. In unison, both of the larger doors at the sides of the Scourge opened as one of the unique steeds halted at either one. The white snow bear on one side, the red elk on the other.

From within the wagon, two figures emerged. A small and lithe elf dressed in green, with a mask veiling the lower half of her face and long yellow-green hair escaping from beneath her hood. She gracefully slipped onto the back of her elk, a longbow hanging from her shoulder. On the other side, a gnoll at seven tall, a foot above Veron's own height, climbed atop the snow bear with a slobbering snarl and a battleaxe in her grip. Both mounts and riders continued moving forward while the next two beasts moved up in tow, like the whole event was a show at a carnival.

The tan camel appeared at a wagon's side to receive a human in rich yellow garments, a fauchard in his hand to rival the glaive of any Rat. At the other side, the green raptor approached, picking its teeth with a curved claw. Two clawed hands wrapped around the edges of the doorframe, though they were not the raptor's. A lizardman hoisted himself forward to mount the beast of its same color, while the rider sported golden armor over his body and in his hand was the haft of a spetum.

All four of Veron's lieutenants lined up in front of the Scourge, facing away from the wagon and remaining in full view of the Skaven and anyone else. He looked over the heads of his officers and at the greater crowd, pocketing what was left of his nuts.

"These are the lieutenants of the Lost Scions. My deputies. They will take eight units each from my company and scout across the landsnorth, south, east and west. Houses and camps, farms and ranches, outposts and forts, hamlets and villages, towns and citiesthey will find them and report back as we press onward, without the weight of our convoy slowing them down."

Wagons with wheels or wagons that flew. Veron knew of airships far better than his long lost brothers and sisters, but right now the lot of them needed steeds unencumbered. It had been a long time since he had been in these lands, ever since the day he had left them. What huts and hovels, camps and settlements, once existed he had barely bothered with ten of them, and others had probably moved on. Unless the airship flyer was just as intimately acquainted with every dot and dash on the map from hereon out, scouting was the only option that Veron could see.

Edited by Die Shize

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20 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

"If we can find close-by targets first, we should take them. The sooner we can provide results, the better for Nesthome, and Tradetown. Once we are confident in our efforts, we can take our time moving outward. Moving food otherwise will be time-consuming."

"Understood, then based on my knowledge north would be the best way I can offer you. I know of a farming community, ran by a self proclaimed 'noble'. The settlement is situated around a semi-standing fort, most likely ruins left over from its past battles threatening to pour in from the Forbidding Hills. The fort itself is nothing of concern, the walls could be pushed over with one hand. I did have a base over in the hills, long since abandoned. The community primarily grows root vegetables in rotation with cereal grains, along with some livestock."

Vito dismounted and cracked his joints, it'd been a long time since he'd traveled by land. He remembered having to do this every time he took on a bounty or mission, bouncing back and forth from Cavecrest. Vito looked down to see Thril still by his side, still sniffing the cloak he'd given her. He was both confused and glad she was enjoying it, but mostly confused.

He turned back to face the seer, "It's roughly 100km from here, so give or take a days journey. But it's still worth scouting in all directions, I don't know the land perfectly and new communities pop up all the time."

'It was a shack under a rock, don't make it seem like something big.'

'A base is a base.'

17 hours ago, Die Shize said:

"These are the lieutenants of the Lost Scions. My deputies. They will take eight units each from my company and scout across the landsnorth, south, east and west. Houses and camps, farms and ranches, outposts and forts, hamlets and villages, towns and citiesthey will find them and report back as we press onward, without the weight of our convoy slowing them down."

"I'll handle scouting north, Cookie can scout out potential sites with ease. Sensory scrying has many perks."

Vito placed his hand on Floki's back, the drakes body began glowing in random patches of dark and light blue. Its body quickly shrank to the size of a house cat and lost its glow, what was once a drake was now replaced with what appeared to be a cross between a common cat and an owl. It turned its head 180-degrees and gave the raider a very confused look, with its eyes the size of shields. He picked up the scowl, which perched on his arm and nibbled at his leather armor. 

'I'd rather you not tear up my armor, just got this treated.'

"?¿ sesh me inti, got t eiv ray ?¿" He spoke to the scowl, which promptly took flight. Heading north, Vito saw everything Cookie did. He watched the group below slowly become nothing more than ants, the lush grass fields below blow in the breeze and dense forests hiding what lay inside. The scowl kept gaining altitude, giving the raider a good view of the land around him. 

"It shouldn't be too long before we find something, Seer."

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IC Ambience [Recurring]

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On 8/16/2019 at 5:30 PM, Rabbit said:

"Understood, then based on my knowledge north would be the best way I can offer you. I know of a farming community, ran by a self proclaimed 'noble'. The settlement is situated around a semi-standing fort, most likely ruins left over from its past battles threatening to pour in from the Forbidding Hills. The fort itself is nothing of concern, the walls could be pushed over with one hand. I did have a base over in the hills, long since abandoned. The community primarily grows root vegetables in rotation with cereal grains, along with some livestock."

[...]

"It's roughly 100km from here, so give or take a days journey. But it's still worth scouting in all directions, I don't know the land perfectly and new communities pop up all the time."

As the expedition beyond the nest held the road and rested there, pausing to ponder, deliberate and decide, or sharpen blades as well as teeth, there were two individuals if no more who were offering their worth to the journey even though they were hailed as outsiders. One of them completely so. The other only after having been banished. The latter presently hailed the former, mulling over the intelligence that the white-masked soul had provided regarding a northern community and a fort beside it. Clearly, he did indeed know of one place if not more that extended beyond the aerial passing of a ship borne for clouds. What else he knew, only time would tell.

On that note, a day of travel was nothing, especially if the horizon held promise. The words “farming community” appeared to hold their own. Just one farm could feed for a year anywhere from four to a hundred, depending on its make, function and environment. That was if the production continued throughout, granted, but Veron had encountered his fair share of bountiful harvests and hoarding storehouses to carry off with. The Skaven of Skarr Clan and their companions were definitely more interested in stealing from others' farms than in sustaining them, and with a network of farms over just one, this settlement in the north just might be the prime target for first pickings. And if it wasn’t, well, no one could blame Veron for it. 

“A noble.” The whispery voice came from beside him. He had heard enough to get the gist of it but had to crane his neck toward the drow all the same. Wruzree caught the look. “And a fort. Might there be a chance that this ‘noble’ proclaims the position because of whatever prize was found in this fort?”

Veron smiled at the notion. It was something to consider. If the fort once stood as a bulwark in the battle between man and beast hundreds of years ago then it just might have been a vault as much as a fort; a retreat and a repository. Within the Lost Scions, two of its members knew more than others about the Forbidding Hills and their history. Wruzree was one. 

On 8/16/2019 at 5:30 PM, Rabbit said:

"I'll handle scouting north, Cookie can scout out potential sites with ease. Sensory scrying has many perks."

Vito placed his hand on Floki's back, the drakes body began glowing in random patches of dark and light blue. Its body quickly shrank to the size of a house cat and lost its glow, what was once a drake was now replaced with what appeared to be a cross between a common cat and an owl. It turned its head 180-degrees and gave the raider a very confused look, with its eyes the size of shields. He picked up the scowl, which perched on his arm and nibbled at his leather armor. 

'I'd rather you not tear up my armor, just got this treated.'

"?¿ sesh me inti, got t eiv ray ?¿" He spoke to the scowl, which promptly took flight. Heading north, Vito saw everything Cookie did. He watched the group below slowly become nothing more than ants, the lush grass fields below blow in the breeze and dense forests hiding what lay inside. The scowl kept gaining altitude, giving the raider a good view of the land around him. 

"It shouldn't be too long before we find something, Seer." 

Veron looked back at the convoy as the white mask spoke, electing to survey in the same direction that his proposed farming community was in—with the help of his familiar, no less. In a moment, the hooded figure was turning his pet drake into a bird. The blue aura that emanated from its being was a pretty light to illuminate the show that was taking place, but at least one member in the audience was more enthralled by the manner in which it had occurred. It wasn’t until the creature’s owner had touched it that the transformation followed suit. Where others might overlook that simple detail, Veron ingrained it into his memory. The rest were wings and a pair of eyes that flew with them. “Sensory scrying”, the white mask had called it. The phrase was fitting but one in a number. Others called it “skinchanging”. Another beastling. Looks like we are not alone. 

Veron understood that such an art generally required the skinchanger to forfeit their own body for as long as the connection was maintained. It was difficult at best to see two things at once, to be aware of your body’s surroundings and those of the animal you were investing in at the same time, but then not every change of skin or skinchanger was the same. Assuming that this white-masked one was cognizant enough, Veron spoke up.

“Scouts of both land and air work best as one. Mine will head through the vast woodland that no bird in the sky may peer within. They will feel the landscapes, chart the areas, watch for threats, meet with travelers, visit isolated homes and small camps, and scope out the horizontal while our drake-bird friend takes the vertical. It won’t be alone. Rattleneck.”

At the word, the gnoll upon her snow bear who was lined up between the armored wagon and the bulk of the convoy jerked her head backward with a snarl, listening in what silence she could muster as her master spoke. “You will ride north on the bird’s talons. Get a headstart on us and send a falcon with your report, before and up to this famed fort and its farms.”

Rattleneck looked away, spitting her drool into the grass. It was all the acceptance that Veron needed. He addressed his other three lieutenants in turn. Husk, the wood elf on the elk, would head west. Coldtongue, the lizard on the raptor, would head south. Sandy, the human on the camel, would head east. Before all four departed, they were met with two items. To each of them was given four goblins on wolves and four hobgoblins on horses, and one of the hobgoblins carried a bird’s cage, inside of which idled a black and white gyrfalcon. With that, they were off to explore, to record and to report. 

“Now,” Veron drawled, addressing the convoy with his fists on his hips. “Let’s go eat.” 

Edited by Die Shize

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Between the combined efforts of Veron's convoy and Vito's companions changing shape and taking flight, progress was quickly underway, even as the Raiding party continued along whatever trail existed for them to follow. with Veron's cart at the head, he led them North, in the direction of food, hopefully. 

The Skaven themselves had been wary of the myriad beasts their mates had brought along, and this did not do much to relieve them. Thril, still clinging to her new cloak, had finally elected to wrap it around her shoulders shortly after the drake had turned into a strange bird-cat-thing. The cloak hung heavy and snug around her shoulders, and only further served to hide her visage from sight, to her great satisfaction. She wondered if later on she could get a mask as well, to better disguise her features, like Vee-Toe had. She imagined herself looking quite fearsome with such a getup, indeed!

Zhot was temporarily distracted as Veron's crew grouped up, then set off in all directions, seeking potential food sources and trails to pursue. It was the first time the glaive-rat had ever encountered goblins, or hobgoblins, or any of the varied beasts they traveled upon and with. His anxiety piqued as they all gathered together, in a bizarre display of force, just before departing, well-armed and moving in very large groups. Each of their little scouting parties far surpassed the Skaven raiding crew, and were likely far stronger than the raiders as well. The rat clung to his weapon, grateful then that they were all on the same team. Elsewhere, Skritch went back to his weapon again. He unwound a small pouch of wire tools, and continued touching and testing the weapon with feverish, obsessive motions. From where Zhot was, he took a moment to examine how the marksman-rat was doing; he couldn't figure it out precisely, but gathered that Skritch was trying to keep the weapon in perfect condition at all times, by constantly twisting the crossbow wire, tightening the mechanisms that kept the wire in place, adjusting the weapons 'sight', the grip and the arms. It was interesting just how familiar the other Rat was with his weapon at this point.

Zhot glanced over to the Seer, who looked mostly bored. That made a sort of sense, too, he supposed. The Seer was a bitter creature; uncaring and cruel, intent on his own status and success. He was well-read, too, or so Zhot understood. Had he seen these creatures before? Probably not. Yet, the snarl he almost always lapsed into never faded. He was uncomforting, and Zhot felt as though he likely regretted being sent on this trip. He avoided looking at the Seer overlong, and returned to his weapon, trying something new with it.

On 8/16/2019 at 4:30 PM, Rabbit said:

"It shouldn't be too long before we find something, Seer."


Scouting out the surrounding area in all directions, the world unfurled slowly for the raiders. The little caravan, trailing along on minimalist roads, slowly vanished from view, and was quickly and quietly replaced by undisturbed natural grasslands, gentle hills hither and thither.

Heading eastward proved effective--it took no time at all for scouts to find the major road that contoured the forest, but did not enter it. This route would eventually ride North, towards Hell's Gate at some point several days away, whereas to the South it flanked the forest, taking travelers down towards the Southern Coast eventually, and a number of major cities. These roads were also quite well-traveled, and many caravans, horses and other types went along these roads frequently. This made it difficult to scout for communities along the path without drawing attention difficult, especially as armed guards taking care of caravans and wagons began to appear along them. This didn't mean that it was impossible to search along the East for supplies; in fact, there were even a few Orchards, and a few large farms within a day's travel that way, although they were close enough to many roads that raiding them discreetly might prove difficult, if not impossible. 

Perhaps the most promising mark to the immediate East was a well-sized village, where the buildings appeared sturdy and strong and new. Even from a distance, the pounding of hammers and nails rang clear through the air, and caravans were spotted all around the rising community. Mirroring that of Nesthome, even, this little hovel had all matter of supplies coming in; and certainly a great deal of food. Guards appeared to be present, certainly. They were mercenary types--their armor and equipment well-preserved and uniform, military grade weapons and armor. However, they were a small, and probably expensive detail. Getting through them, and probably the settlers as well, might prove to be a hazard.

Elsewhere, in the North, no such roads existed, and instead scouts were treated to increasingly harsher hills. They started gentle and sloping, lush, green-dotted mounds, that eventually grew progressively more barren as scouts traveled further. Within a few day's journey from here, the hills gave way to valleys, and even a few mountains over time. Further beyond that, the badlands beckoned, sparse and dry, and perhaps boasting a few communities hidden within. Between the Skaven and that, however, were scarce few farms and homesteads of note. Those that were discovered, of course, seemed like easy pickings, with a few hills converted into steppes for the efficient purpose of growing hearty vegetables, like maize, potatoes and various grains. Livestock were well-kept in the hills, as well.

Indeed, that stead that Vito had mentioned was up there as well. It was built right on top of the skeletons of an older keep, with quickly-put up palisade walls, and more than a handful of guards patrolling it, even now. These mercenaries, too, appeared to be part of some kind of outfit; their weapons were well-made and dangerous looking, and their numbers promised a grand fight. However, the ruins themselves were not terribly big; the farms there were likely all owned by the same noble, and while they claimed some fair amount of land outside of the walls, much of it had yet to bear fruit. There were certainly other, perhaps more valuable targets to find, but this one also existed.

The most exciting mark Northward wasn't a permanent residence, but rather what appeared to be a dig site of some kind. It was hard to approach, but it appeared to be an ongoing archaeological dig of some kind, unearthing some recently uncovered relic or another. This was likely short of food, of course, and guarded just enough to make it a target worth thinking about, but perhaps not attacking.

Westward, the same roads eventually wound around the woods that Nesthome hid within. It was here that it the sheer scale of such a wood was impressed upon scouts; hundreds of acres of land, all for the Skaven to cut and clear and harvest and hide in. The serpentine-like road stretched on for days on end in that direction, but there was at least one valuable target along it. Somewhere, just a few hours away from the edge of the wood, a small community appeared to bristle with life. They were well-guarded, and perhaps a bit dangerous, but they were out of the way of potential respondents, and close enough to a handful of farms, making them an ideal target for vapid raids, if the Skaven could muster the fighting power to claim it.

 

 

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20 hours ago, Die Shize said:

“A noble.” The whispery voice came from beside him. He had heard enough to get the gist of it but had to crane his neck toward the drow all the same. Wruzree caught the look. “And a fort. Might there be a chance that this ‘noble’ proclaims the position because of whatever prize was found in this fort?”

"The prize would be enough explosives to level Hell's Gate, with enough left over for a fireworks show. I'm exaggerating of course, but you get the point. The fort wasn't designed to last very long, but rather deal as much damage in as short of time as possible. The fort itself can no longer support the use of the weapons due to age and poor structure, so all of it was just stored below. The noble also takes 5% of all crop harvests, so there is a small store of food inside."

~~~

Vito's other eye was in the skies above, flying over the northern terrain. The raider was used to travelling light and fast by mount, not with convoys. Whilst the harsh terrain wouldn't be an issue by mount, it'd prove extremely difficult for wagons. Just north before the city he spotted a large amount of moved earth, what appeared to be a dig site. The tents and basic tools suggested archaeology over a long term mining site, highly peeking Vito's curiosity. Further on a few homesteads placed here and there with basic fields outback, the profit looking to be low. He eventually came across the town settled by an old fort, its smoke and buildings visible from far away. Unfortunately, it was not the right season to raid. 

'Just our fucking luck. Cookie, return now.'

"Sorry, Seer. Looks like it's not harvest time yet with the northern target. Even if so, the terrain would prove to be a true test of determination. There's also a dig site north if it peeks anyone's interest, didn't see much however. Archaeologists, they look well into their work."    

Edited by Rabbit

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IC Ambience

It couldn’t have been more than an hour when Veron checked his pocket watch from the driver’s seat of his Scourge. Keeping track of time was par for the course, more so when a curious contraption of drake-owl-cat had taken to the skies to clutch an entire expedition’s hopes and dreams in its talons. He imagined that the familiar’s owner was being fed optical information by the second from an avian eye to whatever eye was hiding behind that white mask. Huts. Hovels. Houses. Hamlets. Holds. Halls. Havens. He spat out the shell of a hazelnut while chewing on his thoughts. What are you hiding from us? Peer as he might into the sunny sky, Veron saw only blue and white, however the blue wasn’t that of the owl-cat's glows and the white wasn’t that of its owner’s mask. Which is the greater illusion? A person’s mask or the blue sky hiding an infinite black void? 

Somewhere behind Veron, the one called Vito was following in the group, and somewhere further ahead was his familiar. At roughly sixty miles north was the convoy’s first target of farms and a fort. Veron didn’t pretend to understand the aerial dynamics of the transformer beast but he wagered that it would reach its destination around this very point in time. And, like clockwork, a Rat had scurried up toward the Scourge moments later to croak out a message. Vito’s flying thing had failed to convey a target worthwhile. Veron smiled. He flicked a nut toward the Rat for his services, stuck two fingers between his lips, and blew. 

All in all, there were seventy goblinoids serving in the Lost Scions. Forty were termed no simpler than “goblins”, the lesser breed of two, while the other thirty were hobgoblins. From each breed, sixteen had gone with four lieutenants to scout the lands, thirty-two goblinoids in total. Four hobgoblins and four goblins per lieutenant. That left fifty-four troops surrounding the Scourge. Veron had long since already done that math but there were now fewer creatures who had to move out of the way when their captain had whistled. 

Still trailing at the back of the armored wagon were five riderless beasts: a horse, a yak, a goat, a panther and an ostrich. At the beckoning of her master’s call, a courser as black as night whinnied in the midst of her peers and the direwolves around her. The small goblins shifted immediately, alert and startled, creating an opening for the mare to escape and gallop toward the front of the Scourge. Transferring watch over his wagon to Wruzree who was still sitting beside him, Captain Blacktear rose from the driver’s seat and swung a leg over his horse. The saddle received his form like the throne of war. Gripping the reins, Veron budged his steed forth, and Blade carried her master in a canter toward the main group. 

“The Gates Built Before the Inferno...” Veron’s voice echoed the ambiguity in his own speech as he pulled his horse alongside Vito and Khrol. The courser’s two eyes were as black as her master’s one, her mane as silver as his long hair. “Hell’s Gate, as it is known—surely by this one.” He nodded at Vito. Khrol wouldn’t have a clue. “Though you might say that in the company of names like “Hell’s Gate”, “Badlands” and “Forbidding Hills”, north might not be our ideal direction after all. That is what you will find beyond this forsaken fort and farms; steep, unforgiving hills, scorching hot sands, and a city too high, too large and too great for our small and humble crew.” 

Veron looked back up toward the clouds. They drifted along in silence, far and wide, shapeless and weightless. His own scouts were somewhere on the ground doing the same. “Still, we’ve lost nothing on our course. Best to continue until we come across something and wait for the reports to trickle in. My gnoll is still north. No telling what her eyes might see on land that other eyes may have missed in air.” He turned his head fully to look upon Vito. “Tell me about this dig site. Food and supplies should remain top priority, but a detour down the road just might turn a profit.” 

After hearing Vito’s response, Veron heard something else. Some people could recognize who was coming from behind them simply by the rhythm of their footsteps. Others could recognize a laugh in a room filled with laughter. Veron wasn’t left out, but his ears were particularly tuned to the flight of the falcon. A gyrfalcon, specifically, and one in a number. His eyes were glued to the sky as the great bird descended toward the Skaven’s convoy. Veron smiled. “Dark wings, dark words. Or in the case of a black and white bird, bright wings, bright words. We’ll find out which it is in a moment.”

A gloved hand rose to greet the messenger, its talon wrapping around a leathered finger. Above the talon was a thin, featherweight ring wrapped around the bird’s leg. It bore the standard of the Wastelands Border Patrol. For Veron, it betrayed the sender as his human lieutenant, Sandy. On the gyrfalcon’s other leg was a small tube with a paper rolled up inside. Veron retrieved and unfurled the message just beneath his gaze. His smile broadened. 

“It seems that the harvest favors the east.” He rolled the note back up and secured it. “One of my scouts has learned of a village as firm and fresh as a virgin. It lies beyond the busier roads, which should bear us no burden. Food and supplies aplenty. A contingent of guards, to be expected, but otherwise I might have found our first gem where only moments ago we had but a pebble.” At that word, Veron shifted his dark eye toward Vito before looking toward the Grey Seer.

Edited by Die Shize

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The Seer, once again in command, listened to the incoming scout reports.

1 hour ago, Die Shize said:

It seems that the harvest favors the east.” He rolled the note back up and secured it. “One of my scouts has learned of a village as firm and fresh as a virgin. It lies beyond the busier roads, which should bear us no burden. Food and supplies aplenty. A contingent of guards, to be expected, but otherwise I might have found our first gem where only moments ago we had but a pebble.” At that word, Veron shifted his dark eye toward Vito before looking toward the Grey Seer.

 

6 hours ago, Rabbit said:

"Sorry, Seer. Looks like it's not harvest time yet with the northern target. Even if so, the terrain would prove to be a true test of determination. There's also a dig site north if it peeks anyone's interest, didn't see much however. Archaeologists, they look well into their work."    

Krohl waved off Vito's apology, more intent on the positives than the negatives.

"It doesn't matter." He replied, clucking his tongue. "We head East, then. Send your people scout the situation out further. Take a shield with them, and burn it close by." On that note, Krohl glanced behind him and barked at Thril, still hiding behind Vito. 

"Gutter-rat!" He barked. "You will follow the scouts along, with the shield. When scouts arrive, you will apprise them of the situation. They will send for reinforcements; we will raze this town to the ground, and have the food back to Nesthome before nightfall."

He glanced towards Veron again, and gave what might appear to be a smile, to some degree.

"Congratulations, able-blood. You've managed to be useful to your kindred, at long last." The smile faded before long. "Make sure your people are able to make this as quick as possible. Skaven on the frontlines, your people behind them. The quicker we do this, the better. Less chance of a response in future attacks."

Thril hesitantly accepted the Seer's commands, and bowed her head low as she came out from behind Vito in order to join the advance party. She grabbed one of the shields, and strapped it to her arm, before giving a wave at Vito with her free hand, the thin, bladed shield still strapped to it. 

"This one will return quick-sharp." She vowed. "There are no-rats better than Gutter-Rats, and no Gutter-Rats better than Thril!"

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17 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

"It doesn't matter." He replied, clucking his tongue. "We head East, then. Send your people scout the situation out further. Take a shield with them, and burn it close by."

"Understood. I'll be following the scouting party from a distance, just in case someone might see me moving with the cart and suspect something. I'll then position myself within the city so when the raid begins we have someone on the inside. Any resistance your troops encounter, I'll dispose of the enemies from behind their lines. See you on the other side, Seer."

Thril took her place next to her fellow gutter rats, their little platoon back to its full glory. Vito followed her lead and positioned himself near Veron's cart, ready to follow it to the targeted town. Once there he'll most likely find a inn or tavern, wait out their till the party begins. Cookie had perfect timing, swooping in and perching on the raiders shoulder. The raider pulled out a chunky strand of jerking and gave it to the familiar, allowing his pet to tear it apart. 

'Finally, its been a good while since I've seen some bloodshed.'

'A good while to you is three days.'

18 hours ago, Jotnotes said:

"This one will return quick-sharp." She vowed. "There are no-rats better than Gutter-Rats, and no Gutter-Rats better than Thril!"

"Indeed, Thril. I'll see you on the battle field, we'll be feasting on our bounty of war in good time."  

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IC Ambience [Recurring]

Spoiler

 

As his horse strode alongside Vito and Khrol, Veron held a smile even as Khrol’s own vanished. The bitter sorcerer was soon to feel himself sweetened by what his helper was going to bring him, though a eunuch had little and less business in speaking about usefulness. 

“You can count on me to find our quarry, Grey Seer. From what is seen to what is hidden, not a leaf of lettuce or a single coin will escape me.” A memory emerged as his eye fixated on Khrol. “I once came across a pack of warlocks who held a secret upon their pale blue lips. An object of power and where to find it. They refused to tell me at first. One even presumed to threaten me, so I fed him to the others when their hunger took hold. After that, they were more agreeable to my requests.” He looked away with a chuckle. Men are meat.”

Letting his words serve themselves, Veron pulled the reins and headed back toward his wagon, stopping just short of Vito and Thril. He looked them both over from the saddle of his horse. “You’ll get far more than gutters when you ride with me,” he promised the Gutter-Rat, ever aware that the name of her rank was yet no doubt a badge to wear for her amid others of her order. To Vito, he harrumphed. “Few things are greater than gorging on war and its spoils. Ours will be a feast for victors of all kinds; a feast for souls in white masks and a feast for rats.” Just then, Veron’s gaze drifted up toward the sky as a black murder passed overhead, cawing and soaring. Dark wings, dark words. “...And a feast for crows.”

IC Ambience

Spoiler

 

Before the armored wagon had departed, out of it had stepped one of the smaller if certainly not thinner lieutenants within the Lost Scions. Maul as he was called simply, helmeted and armored in grey-gold, emerged upon a white goat tall and thick enough to bear its rider. The dwarf, with his shield and warhammer, was to remain with the convoy while Veron led the scouting party eastward bound from the armored wagon that served as his mobile base. The Scourge was ever supported by hobgoblins on horses and goblins on direwolves, and in their midst were Thril and Vito, though even the latter was kept at a distance. Veron had repositioned himself to the driver’s seat of the Scourge, with ample room for Thril to join him.

Footwork was not the play here; speed was favored for the sake of time and the armored wagon could make a game of it. Traveling in between the main, slower convoy of Skaven led by Khrol, and the nine-member unit further ahead led by Veron’s lieutenant, the Black Captain wanted to reach the latter as soon as he could, if without racing the wind. The engine at the back of the wagon coughed purple smoke as the machine was propelled onward, hoofs and paws beside and behind it picking up pace to create a rumble of drums across the earth. 

During the travel, idle talk would pass between Veron and Thril. He asked her about Nesthome, what life was like before and after the great catastrophe and the war with the Fae, how fared the king, what Tradetown was like, how she enjoyed her life as a Gutter-Rat. In exchange, he gave bits and pieces for her to digest; information on the lands beyond her home, tales of his own discoveries, and handfuls of nuts as favored. It was all small talk and surface conversation at most, but no words that Thril had uttered went forgotten by Veron’s two good ears, while his one eye had watched her every inch of movement or lack thereof. 

As the party came closer to the main roads flanking the Forgotten Wood, Veron had dispatched a hobgoblin to ride ahead of the van and scope for passers-by. Busy though the road could get with all manner of traveler and carriage, it was presently empty, with the closest soul trailing a cloud of dust toward the horizon. That was well and good. Better to let as few as possible notice who and what were coming. Veron, however, decided to bypass the main road entirely. The Scourge and its company crossed to the other side and took to the fields, with vast hills and scatterings of trees that, though too few to become forests, played their part to screen the party as they pressed further east toward the village that Veron’s lieutenant had reported. 

It was beside some modest woods that Veron slowed the Scourge to a halt with but a raise of his hand from the driver’s seat. Something was coming their way, emerging from within the trees and close enough to be identified at first glance. Through a voice tube, Veron spoke one word: “Slayer.” At that prompt, one of the wagon’s side doors opened to receive what had appeared beside it: a great brown yak. A leg as long and thick as a tree trunk swung over the beast, the yak receiving its rider. Sat upon it as a giant among lessers was a red orc, eight feet tall and with a greatsword resting across a shoulder. Slayer could wield it in one hand where it would take most two hands just to lift it. 

OOC Music

Spoiler

 

As the orc and yak maneuvered toward the front of the Scourge, a small unit of horses, wolves and a lone camel in the lead approached. The camel rider’s arms were held out. Dangling from each hand, held by the hair, was a human head. Upon reaching his master, Mad Sandy held up the men’s severed heads like puppets. Their eyes were closed tight or wide open, their mouths locked in a gasp or a scream. “ ‘Look who it is, sir knight!’ . . . ‘Oh, oh, it’s the Captain!’ . . . ‘Yes, sir knight, yes! Our gracious host did promise us an audience!’ . . . ‘Oh I’d smile if I could!’ “ 

“And from where did you claim such trophies?” Veron interjected, feeling more unimpressed than amused.

Sandy shook the heads by the hair. Blood spattered from their shoulderless necks. “Knights, milord! Breaking down the door! Robbing from the poor! More, more, more—!” 

“Enough.” Veron’s command was curt enough that Sandy lowered his arms with a frown. “Explain.”

His lieutenant blew through his lips. “I stumbled upon a dainty home. Some squealing had tickled my ears,” Sandy giggled. “These two had already killed the man, crippled the boy and were having their way with the women. They introduced themselves as brave knights and ordered me away. So Sandy did what Sandy does best. I took their heads, took what they wanted and burned the hovel to the ground.” 

“And what happened to the women afterward?”  Slayer inquired from his stirring yak, in the same tone one would use to ask to tumble dice.

“Sorry, Red. They were lost in the flames.” The orc snorted at that answer while Sandy let the heads drop from his hands. They rolled a bit before a couple of sacks fell beside them. “Carrots, cabbages, potatoes, bread—a bag of sugar.” He shrugged. “As measly a find as the fight the whole lot of them put up; headless knight, balling boy or squealing woman.”

Just as Veron bit his lip and threatened to draw blood over this report, Sandy saved himself. “Just a sour taste of what’s to come, Captain. It’s the village yonder that is sweet. As sweet as a maiden’s teet!”

Veron raised his head at the claim, challenging his lieutenant to disappoint him. “Indeed. We certainly did not travel all this way for a couple of heads—cabbages or otherwise. Tell me about this village. Tell it well.” 

Sandy stroked his chin and the air beneath as though hair should have been there. “The knights were among the village’s guards. As fire tickled their toes they sang sweet songs for Sandy about how many guards and how they are armed, how many villagers, how much food and if there’s any gold hidden away.” 

OOC Music

Spoiler

00:00 - 1:56

Veron stared down from the Scourge, gazing right through his lieutenant as the latter relayed the actual figures, at least according to his interrogations. Around six hundred souls, ignorant and blissful, made up the community of the village of Kinsmeet. The settlement was growing into a market town, with supplies and food and trade goods transporting to and fro every day. It had no body of water inside or beside it, no river or lake, no walls, no other settlement immediately nearby. Amid village watchmen, Kinsmeet did have a mercenary company of around two hundred strong, armored and horsed, who called themselves the Brave Spears. Two of them Sandy had already met. Their heads were silent within the blades of grass. Fortune was even finer than their words, for one of them had a map of the village in his possession. Who knew what he was doing with it if not to ensure his way back. Though, amid sellswords that were not Veron’s, loyalty was a fickle thing. Deserters, perhaps, but who cares? Their deaths give me life. Unfurling the map, Veron smiled at what he saw.  

Spoiler

Village of Kinsmeet

JSIeHDe

Kinsmeet was beyond the other side of the woods about a mile out. With the sun itself still out, that was all Veron needed to know. He turned to Slayer. “Take the force at a distance behind us. Send for Vito.” The red orc nodded. He barked at all of the hobgoblins and goblins from his mighty yak and led them further to the rear. Veron’s company was growing smaller and that was for the best. He called for Midnight from within the wagon and gave him command of the Scourge. Meanwhile, once Vito was called for, he, Veron, Sandy and Thril—who was offered to double with Veron on his horse—took off toward the village. Veron wanted to behold his bounty with his own eye.

Spoiler

 

After sizing the settlement up, and plugging Vito inside, the recon group had returned to the main party at the Scourge, where Veron had sent a gyrfalcon to find Maul back at the Skaven convoy. Its talons bore a message for the dwarven lieutenant to pass to Khrol, confirming the prospect with Veron’s own hand. He then turned to Thril. “Burn it. Burn the shield,” he directed. “And then we burn this village to the ground.”

Edited by Die Shize

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On 8/26/2019 at 9:20 PM, Die Shize said:

During the travel, idle talk would pass between Veron and Thril. He asked her about Nesthome, what life was like before and after the great catastrophe and the war with the Fae, how fared the king, what Tradetown was like, how she enjoyed her life as a Gutter-Rat. In exchange, he gave bits and pieces for her to digest; information on the lands beyond her home, tales of his own discoveries, and handfuls of nuts as favored. It was all small talk and surface conversation at most, but no words that Thril had uttered went forgotten by Veron’s two good ears, while his one eye had watched her every inch of movement or lack thereof. 

The travel, for Thril, was brisk and uneventful, but she kept a close eye on everything that she could. Even as they traveled along, she kept her distance from everything and anything related to the rest of the caravan. She walked where her footfalls might not be spotted by anyone trying to track her. She favored, noticeably, standing in such a position that the carriage she followed would always be between her and potential attackers on the other side of the road. However, as they continued moving, Thril was forced to drop to her hands and feet to move quick enough to keep up, before giving up entirely and boarding the wagon.

Once she'd boarded the wagon, it didn't take her too long to open up to prodding. For all of her dark brooding, and attempts to remain hidden, the Gutter Rat wasn't terribly good at keeping to herself. Veron would ask about Nesthome, and Thrill answered to the greatest of her abilities, with relative reliability.

Thril, Veron learned, was somewhat young as far as the Skarr clan went. She'd been born while the clan had been forced to flee the cataclysm that befell Nesthome, and the Underground Empire King-King had so desperately worked to pull together. When she was born, supposedly another Shkei, a rat-man she'd never even met, singled her out as a pup to be his mate. This spared her the ugly fate of being turned into a 'breeder', those horrific living nests of flesh and milk that served as the primary reproducers for the Clan. This didn't necessarily make her a pariah, but it did make her an outlier. She got some of the food she was meant to get, in order to develop properly, and was later lumped in with the rest of the Gutters, trained and fed to be silent, powerful lurking warriors of the King. From her first breath, Thril's fate had been cultivated for her, though somebody had made an effort to spare her of that fate once upon a time.

That made things difficult for her to explain what the world was like before the collapse. From what she understood, things were pleasant then, more or less. They'd continued to hunt and slay the great lurking beasts in the caves surrounding their home. Guards continued to break into homes, searching for any sign of the Pale Rat

She didn't quite know much about the other clans, save for what the elders told her. She presumed, from Veron's appearance, that it was entirely possible that other clans had escaped to the surface as well.

Tradetown wasn't something she cared much for. She shifted as she sat, thinking about the town, puzzling over what best to say.

"It's...people-full," She suggested finally. "Lots of man-things...lots of ideas. But no-places to hide; Not ideal for Gutters." She seemed wistful about that fact, as if were something she wholly disapproved of.

In exchange for a few of these answers, she stole a few snippets of her own.

Thril's eagerness became palpable as it was her turn to ask a question. She bombarded Veron with questions, asking about the world he was from and the places he'd seen, and the things he'd met and eaten and touched and the people he knew. She devoured it all wholeheartedly; the eager creature's attitude burned through any attempts to remain brooding and dark. A glimmer of personality burst through her facade.

Then it was her turn to answer a few questions more. She burned through them easily and openly, save for one.

The war against the fae was, actually, quite easy for many of them. They lost a lot, but they killed a lot too. If anything, the fighting had been good for the population, and gave the survivors tonnes of meat. Furthermore, Tradetown had been founded by a roaming trader and his bodyguards who had supposedly broken into the fae's last refuge and forced them to flee, making it easy for the Skaven to slaughter the last remaining defenders. The woods were dark and empty now, and the trees disenchanted, making it possible for humans to travel through the woods easier.

She liked being a Gutter Rat fine, on account of the fact that she kind of preferred being 'dark' and 'serious.'

However, when it came to the King, she...couldn't answer that, really. She'd met him before, and more than a few times. However, the King wasn't the person she'd always dreamt him to be.

"King-king is...rats, like all rats." She tried to explain. "King-king is strong, and mighty. But King-king is old. Tired-rat."

King-King had ruled for generations by this point, and perhaps even longer. He ruled with the might of a god, that most folks might even see him as one if they saw him wield it. Yet on the surface, he was always a little less. No humans were able to speak to him, let alone see him. Had it always been that way? She had no idea. But the problems of Tradetown were not his concern. He left that to others now. King-King was there, and he was a god, assuredly, but he wasn't their god, he was only the god of some things, some people. The Rats.

And that was all they were able to glean from one another. Time passed on.

They encountered others; scouts for Veron's army, as they reported their findings. Thril kept her eye out for any potential encroachment, but kept out of their business largely. The tall, interesting creatures they'd come across could wait until she was able to pick at them properly. Instead, she looked around, for anything of note, until Veron approached her again.

On 8/26/2019 at 9:20 PM, Die Shize said:

After sizing the settlement up, and plugging Vito inside, the recon group had returned to the main party at the Scourge, where Veron had sent a gyrfalcon to find Maul back at the Skaven convoy. Its talons bore a message for the dwarven lieutenant to pass to Khrol, confirming the prospect with Veron’s own hand. He then turned to Thril. “Burn it. Burn the shield,” he directed. “And then we burn this village to the ground.”

She took her heavy shield, and held it with both hands, before dragging it away from the road and into the dust and grass off the beaten path. She rested it on the ground, and slowly, repeatedly, dragged her shields across each other. Then faster, and faster until she struck a spark. The shield, painted with thick, oily red paint, didn't spark at first. Undeterred, she did it again, and again, until the sparks dancing over it caught on the paint, and she stepped away as the rest of the shield burned with it. Soon, a column of ugly black smoke crawled across the otherwise spotless skies.

The Gutter-Rat stood back, and waited.


Looking ahead still, Zhot looked at the road and sky ahead of them, and spied the climbing smoke long before they could see the wagon or any of their party. By now, he'd found a sweet spot on his blade, and bound it in leather. He now gripped it closer to the edge, like a sword rather than a halberd. He rested the blunt end of it against the floor of the wagon.

"Smoke-signal!" He announced loud enough for any behind them still to hear. He pointed ahead, directly at it.

This was it.


In a matter of minutes, there were results. Eventually another Skaven arrived, a scrawny brown thing strapped with leather bits and carrying a traditional Skaven throwing axe at his hip, and another, heavier one meant for close combat on his other side.

He eyed the group warily as he approached, but he approached regardless, twirling a whisker as he stood up on his haunches.

"Shield-burning and Gutter-Rats, and Grey-Seers, too? This one thinks it might-be an omen." Krohl wasn't with them yet; he appeared to be referring to Veron instead.

"Finder-rat, do not tell-say you came here alone?" Thril asked.

In response, nearly two dozen skaven rose up from their places in the grass and ditches and pits behind them, further in the field, each of them lightly armored and wielding a vast array of traditional weapons, hooked halberds and throwing axes, shield-blades and crossbows. Many of them appeared to be starving. Some of them looked ready to bolt.

"Rats mean to burn-raid little town, yes?" The scout asked, knocking his head to one side. "Grey Seer thinks-wise. Lots of food for rats; lots of food for humans."

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Vito walked through the town streets, looking at the lovely new buildings and decorative structures. A man behind a stall yelled at passing people, trying to sell his produce. A young lady stood at the side of the road, offering bundles of fruit. Taking a fruit bowl and paying in coin, the lady thanked Vito with a smile. He continued his walk through the village, eventually coming across a tavern. Swinging the door wide open, the raider was greeted to light music and a smiling bar keep. The middle aged man ushered him over, which Vito was quick to do. Taking a stall, he was quickly made to feel at home.

"What can I get'cha?" The barkeep leaned over the counter, a cheeky grin plastered from ear to ear.

"I'll take whatever the house recommends." Vito placed several coins on the counter, sliding them over.

"Ahh, cleaver man. Ox-horn mead. Just in, current favorite of the town." Taking his coin, the barkeep quickly replaced it with a bottle of mead and glass cup. 

"Cheers." Vito simply drank from the bottle whilst munching on the fruit.

The tavern was mostly empty, only a few patrons were around. Two men sat in the corner, entirely silent. An old lady sat just across the bar, drinking some wine and eating a cheese platter. The barkeep went back to washing up, each glass coming out crystal clear. Vito simply sat, waiting for the raid to begin. Knowing at any moment, the ensuing skaven army would swarm the town like locusts.

"So, what brings you to town?" The barkeep didn't face the raider, but Vito knew who he was talking to. 

"Passing through, didn't even know this place was here. Figured I'd grab a snack and quick drink, you get many come through?" Vito questioned, unsure as to why it was so quiet.

"The towns fairly new, so no. But trades good! Looooots of produce!" He gave a quick chuckle, almost carrying a hint of sadness.

 

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