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Dredge

Break On Through (Cold Mountains)

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A new chapter had begun for Legion. Much like the one before it, it would most likely be written in blood and battle. However unlike the previous chapter, there would be growth as well. Growth that would hopefully involve settling down and having a place to call home. Somewhere both monster and man alike could live in peace to create a world where no human village would be burned to the ground in an Orc raid. A world where entire goblin caves and tribes were not pillaged for treasure or gold, and their entire population slaughtered down to the last child. While creating such a world was beyond the prowess and experience of the Dark Lord Dredge, it was not for the woman he had given his loyalty to. The Yokai Queen Akako. The entire affair was somewhat of an uneasy alliance and agreement, for Dredge it was necessary to put his faith in the woman. The survival of his people had depended on it. For months and months the The Forgotten Fleet had sailed the open oceans to escape Terrenus, yet no where they landed could be considered safe. Word of their exploits had traveled across the world and they were of course considered armed and incredibly dangerous. 

 

Only now could they potentially call Genesaris home thanks to Akako, and for that Dredge was grateful. So grateful that when they first laid anchor, he sent the woman a gift. 

 

 

On the outskirts of Port Caelum, the thunder of armored boots struck the ground in unison. The unmistakable sound of military men marching in formation to the cadence of their own steps. When people often thought of Legion, they often pictured hordes of monsters, orcs, and goblins wearing mismatched armor and carrying strange curved blades still wet with the blood of the innocent, and to be fair that was partly true. In the older days, Dredge used the savagery of the more monstrous races to pillage and burn small villages and settlements within the Wilds of Terrenus. But that was the past, before he had set forth to create a proper army and unified force through sheer force of will. 

 

Marching towards the gate wasn’t a rabble of mixed fiends and brawlers, but the uniformed, well equipped, and highly trained soldiers of Legion. Each marched in jet black and blood red armor. Its design was sleek, of medium weight, and their helmets covered the entirety of the head and face. Within this armor they were no longer Orcs, Gnolls, Hobgoblins, or Trolls. They were one, and they were bred for combat and war. At the head of the pack a true beast of an Orc rode a massive Siege Owlbear, a mutated and horrific visage of its former bloodline now turned into a tainted and savage monster under the cruel breeding programs of Hobgoblins to power their war machines. Marching up to the city walls, the Legion troops and its lieutenant came to a full stop in unison and assumed a parade rest formation in neat columns and rows. Three hundred men and women, the best infantry and veterans of Last Chance that Legion could spare for the Queen. 

 

”Preukenav!” The helmetless Orc cried out to his men. 

 

”DREPA DREPA DREPA!!!” The force of men shouted back towards their commander and the walls of the port itself. 

 

Yet this was only the first part of Dredge’s little gift. Scrambling behind the troops were well over a few thousand civilians. Tengu, Yuan-Ti, Drow, Cyclops, Bullywugs, Githyanki, and the more civilized races of Legion that wouldn’t have issue with assimilation into a more unified lifestyle off the bat. They were what was promised to Akako by Dredge. He did not expect the Queen to let them into the port, but the woman was in charge of where these people would go and how they would establish one of the first colonies in her new and growing empire. The troops that had escorted them from the beach were now hers to command. The Orc Lieutenant has been given the strictest of orders to obey Akako, and to never betray the woman. Just for good measure though, Dredge had assigned a pact-wraith to the commander whose icy fingertips gently wrapped around the heart of the Orc. Should he fail her, he’d be swiftly dealt with. 

 

All of this was now hers, but this was just the beginning.

 

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To the east of Port Caelum, they had arrived. Under the crack of whips and beastly snarls and roars. The armies and people of Legion had come to the Cold Mountains. A place of rock and ice, evergreen trees and winter life that could be seen in the mostly sparse land. The perfect place to build a new world in which to grow and expand from. The people of Legion had been accustomed to worse biomes and living conditions than these, so adapting and overcoming wouldn’t be an issue. There was however one monumental problem though, and it stared down at them from its towering and almost endless height. 

 

The mountains themselves. In order to prove his worth outside of combat and slaughter, Dredge had taken on a Herculean task for the Lady of Port Caelum. To build a reliable and easily accessible tunnel from the east of the mountains that stretched out and into the more fertile lands of the west where ice and snow weren’t the only features year round. While digging through mountains wasn’t the most impossible of tasks due to the races that joined him such as kobolds and goblins, the devil of it all came down to resource management and access to supplies. They had enough food to last them a month and while they could sustain themselves indefinitely with the environment around them, that was if they had just chose to live and let live. A massive public works project such as this was often a drain, and sure Dredge could have the dead and those killed in accidents rounded up and thrown into pots of stew for the workers, but that was a temporary fix. 

 

No, what Dredge needed would be a steady flow of supplies to keep things running as efficiently as possible. Normally he’d just pick some of his lieutenants and have them raid and reave up and down the lands from the many villages and settlements they had scouted along the way, but that option wasn’t available to them as Dredge had given his word that they would be peaceful and assimilate into the culture. So as he stood out there in the cold and wind, Dredge looked over to one of his spindly drow lieutenants and called him over. 

 

”Send a wyvern and a rider to the Lady of the Port. Inform her to send one of her confidants and six months worth of supplies and food, so we may set up our infrastructure as quickly as possible.” Dredge said softly to the Drow. 

 

”It shall be done my lord.” With a deep bow, the drow ran off to go and see that their message was sent. 

 

As everyone stumbled into the base of the mountain, Dredge took stock of everyone. For the most part everyone was healthy and capable, those who had fallen on their journey here were looked after, and those who had no chance of survival or had died were consumed. It was just the nature of the beast. 

 

”SET UP CAMP!! TOMORROW WE DIG!! IF I CATCH ANY OF YOU TRYING TO TAKE EXTRA RATIONS THEN I’LL HAVE YOUR HEADS AND THE HEADS OF YOUR MATE AND CHILDREN!” Dredge let out a fire filled blast that engulfed the snow above turning it to steam and vapor as his thaumaturgy shook the earth to inspire fear and loyalty in those less convinced about this move. 

 

For now, Dredge would let time pass. Days if need be to wait for Akako to deliver what he required to commence such a task.

 

@Akako Akari

Edited by Dredge

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For months and months, the Forgotten Fleet had sailed the open oceans to escape Terrenus.  When Akako, in her dumbfounding foolishness, had accepted Dredge's pledge, a lukewarm, waffling promise not to bend the knee, not to defer to Akako's wisdom and authority, but to degrade her, to demand from her, in insolent tones, that his will be done, she had earned another gift, freely given and delivered at no cost to her, derived from the worst of Terrenus's woes.  She voluntarily harbored a war criminal, a thing that, much like its followers, had no place in this world, a miserable, wretched object that fled from its failings and had the brass to convince itself that the ocean, in conjunction with Akako's power, could shield it from the justice it so richly deserved.  "Come, weather the storm under my aegis," Akako cried, and the Legion of Doom, who raided villages with no means of defense, who raped, who butchered children, who stole everything from the weak and fled, in white-knuckled terror, across the ocean from the strong, prematurely rejoiced.  Indeed, a new chapter had opened for the Legion of Doom and for Port Caelum, but it would be penned in their blood.  Theirs was now a story of shared suffering, for try as she might, Akako was powerless to absolve Dredge of sin.  When she took him under his wing, she wailed shudderingly, "Mea culpa!  Mea culpa!" to entities who would hold her accountable for Dredge's misdeeds.  Akako should give thanks to whatever heathen gods she may worship, for the gifts she currently enjoys are the tamest of the lot.

Yes, word traveled quickly when the Forgotten Fleet was sighted somewhere as populous as Port Caelum.  Certain individuals, whose identities were not known to the general public, were willing to richly compensate people for snitching on the Forgotten Fleet, which, ironically, was anything but forgotten.  Several of Akako's dear citizens suspended their daily routine, taking leave from their places of work, hoping to be the first to relay the information to Terrenus-based contacts and thereby secure a tidy bounty for themselves.  It was the simplest of procedures, and most who were tangentially aware of the Legion of Doom had heard, from friends and family members, of the enticing offer.  The Legion of Doom's reputation, which, as ever, preceded them, galvanized the reports the unnamed contacts in Terrenus received, and within minutes, these contacts relayed their information to Dredge's oldest enemy, again for a tidy bounty.

When Caeceila Glasmann learned that Akako had swallowed the Great Lie hook, line, and sinker she was positively livid.  In her rage, she upended the mahogany desk behind which she was seated, scattering various papers across her study.  What kind of idiot bought Dredge's crocodile tears, his "poor me," "my poor babies," and "we did nothing wrong" speech?  Bah!  Was Genesaris populated by dolts, she wondered, or was Akako just plain evil?  Giving Lady Akako the benefit of the doubt, Caeceila generously concluded that Akako was just plain evil - which, admittedly, wasn't very different from being stupid in her book.  Damn.  She should've cracked Dredge's skull open before he could "boohoo" to another set of morons.

Dredge relied on the same sob story at the Red Festival, you know, the event where he was trafficking in minors, promoting cannibalism, condoning rape, encouraging monsters to give up their humanity, and generally making an ass of himself.  Most of Terrenus's monsters didn't buy it.  Why would they?  The Gaians were generally respectful neighbors unless you were an outsider, in which case they were insufferable, or evil.  Tia existed, and most intelligent creatures were aware of that.  Now, Tia wasn't paradise by any means, but it was a major metropolis in which vampires, creatures Gaians were supposed to shun and despise, and Gaians coexisted (relatively) peacefully.  Terrenus really wasn't that bad.

Nines commented that Akako's actions were par for the course.  Of course, when she heard that there were now drow among Dredge's number, she couldn't help but facepalm.  Really?  They had to be males.  Puny, pathetic males who couldn't hack it in the Underdark and didn't have the skill to make something of themselves when they reached the surface.  She suggested that it would be easy for her house to infiltrate Dredge's army and sabotage them from within, but when Camelia, piped up, she shelved that wonderful idea without hesitation or delay.  The jest Camelia whispered was as terrible as it was memorable.  A hivemind is a terrible thing to waste.

Later that day, a handful of subjects Caeceila Glasmann tagged as infected by Hivemind Hasith "randomly" won a luxurious all-expenses paid round-trip from Last Chance to Port Caelum.  They departed on a cruise from Last Chance within the week.  More and more people, from Dougton and Hell's Gate, won all-expenses paid round-trips from Last Chance to Port Caelum.  Many seized the opportunity.  Who wouldn't?  Such a wonderful vacation would be perfect for a malicious alien hivemind intent on expanding its sphere of influence to Genesaris!  Akako is already playing to host one parasite that plagued Terrenus, Caeceila would claim.  What's one more?

And, of course, once news of Dredge's new project is relayed to Caeceila Glasmann, Akako and Dredge can expect further sabotage.

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From somewhere within the port proper, a group of hairy overweight men – the kind that seldom see the light—stair contently at a display. Years and months of peering at screens had caused them to develop permanent hunches, and although at their prime they were easily over six foot, they now stand at a mere five foot four. This disfigurement is of course their own doing, a conscious choice to make their administrative profession easier. And although they’d undoubtedly pay for it much later in life, the pay right now is just too sweet to turn down.

“We’ve got an inbound craft, not on the list.” One of them remarks, as he looks from his display to his supervisor.

“How far out?” He hobbles over to the display.

“A few nautical miles from the regulated anchorages.”

“I see, deploy a small craft to get a visual on it. Have someone scry us an image.”

A few moments later a two-person boat skips across the small crests of the waves as it darts out of the harbor and heads directly for the cruise. Seconds after that, a three dimensional rendering of the vessel is produced from black smoke that wafts up from the smoldering remains of entrails and chicken bones.

Walking over to the communication array, the supervisor keys in on the approaching cruise ship. “Attention Cruise Vessel ____, this is the Port Caelum Traffic Coordination and Control Service. Be advised, you are entering into our regulated waters. You are not on our arrivals list, and we do not have dock space for you. Be advised that if you do not change course and choose to continue into our regulated waters, you will be fined 10% of your vessel's value, as well as 25% of your commercial earnings, as determined by us, per day, per violation.”

There is a brief pause as he waits for a reply. “Additionally, if you choose to enter into our shipping channel, your vessel will be forcefully boarded, and crew detained for legal proceedings. Additionally, your vessel will be claimed by us as restitutions for delays in shipping.”

The supervisor walks away from the communications array and returns to his desk. Fat fingers punch away at a few keys as he establishes a connection with the Port’s military liaisons. “We need a boarding team on standby and possibly a spare crew to take control of a cruise ship. I’ll transmit what we have to you.”

@The Alexandrian

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Boo!

It is unequivocally hysterical - no, hysterical isn't the best word to describe this obstruction - it is unequivocally farcical that a major port, specifically a port as colorful and well-run as Port Caelum, wouldn't be a treasured stop of reputable, commercial cruise liners with all of the appropriate documentation to dock, clerical workers who transmitted pertinent information on passengers and crew well-before setting out, and paid all administrative fees prior to entering a sovereign nation's waters.  Tourism in Port Caelum must be dreadful, simply dreadful, if port officials are in the habit of fitfully revoking permits from legitimate business ventures.  It is a wonder that Lady Akako chose to host and successfully hosted a relatively successful festival given how isolationist (or strict or something of that nature) Port Caelum, evidently, is.  One questions whether her decision was based on a dare, as if no one actually thought she could pull such an event off with her draconian governance of the port.  Port Caelum, with arbitrarily heavy fines that were absolutely criminal, including seizure of a licensed vessel, had the makings of Nassau in 1710!

Akako's gremlins would have their response, a placating response issued by a very confused captain.  Fines, detainment, and seizure of his vessel were not on the agenda for this scheduled stop.

Chill, my dudes.  This is, like, Port Caelum, right?  Our guys sent you the visas and all the other paperwork.  Gotta dot all the i's and cross all the t's, y'know.  But, cha, if they got, like, lost in the mail or something, we're, like, still in international waters, so we'll just go to the next place.  Gotta say, though, you guys are harsh.  Like, this isn't the first time you've lost paperwork, and a lot of travel companies have written your port off entirely.  It's bogus, man; this was one of my favorite stops.  Anyway, have a good day, bro.

The cruise ship quickly charts a new course, a course through international waters that does not include Port Caelum.  The people aboard are dismayed, but the cruise carries on.  Yet another instance of a cruise ship being denied permission to dock at Port Caelum is relayed up the chain.  Tired of Port Caelum's unknowable administrative processes, several cruise lines and travel agencies revise packages that formerly included a dwell period and resupply at Port Caelum.  How much this would impact Port Caelum's tourist industry remains to be seen, but the effects were guaranteed to be markedly adverse.  So much for marketing a definitive, oriental experience.

Of course, this hadn't neutralized the problem.  Port officials had, inadvertently, taken the problem in their fat-fingered grip and pushed it somewhere else.  Genesaris would still be exposed to the threat the Enrele posed, and here, Hivemind Hasith didn't have competition to impede its growth.  Had a crisis been averted or merely delayed?

Caeceila, needless to say, was not pleased.  Her scheme had been foiled by hunchbacked pencil-pushers!  The indignity of it all!  Dammit!  In the wake of her failure to plant Enrele in Port Caelum, a more direct plan was conceived.  Caeceila had questioned whether Dredge and his murderous band had visas to visit the Arcane East.  If Dredge's visitation was rubber stamped by Akako but not by the Carmine Emperor, Akako would be guilty of violating the Imperial Edict.  On top of all that, Caeceila assumed Dredge had violated Code 1.8 of the Imperial Edict.  He had already violated the rules of nature, the rules of decency, the rules of Gaia, and the rules of man.  If Caeceila could prove that Dredge had committed a crime within the Carmine Emperor's domain, the Legion of Doom would be unable to secure residence in the vast majority of Genesaris, and factoring in their penchant for cannibalism, it was likely already impossible for Akako to grant them citizenship.  If this was the case, simply tipping the Carmine Emperor off to the situation, with sufficient proof of the Legion of Doom's misdeeds, would take care of Akako and Dredge in one fell swoop.  It was time for the most dastardly of assaults, a deluge of paperwork to crush Dredge's hopes and dreams!  BWAHAHAHA!

Edited by The Alexandrian

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So much had changed since the Flower Festival. Once Akako decided that they would break away from the Scarlet Empire, access to the port became extremely limited. Only highly trusted allies were allowed in and out for the time being as well as the already established trading vessels that moved goods. Tourism came to a grinding halt, which was preferred because the resources that would be used to feed those individuals would be rerouted to Dredge's population. However, she left the particulars in the capable hands of the port's traffic coordination and control team. They were given specific orders for arrivals that didn't fall under pre-approved vessels; Dredge's fleet being one of them. 

Akako presented herself when they arrived along with a horde of volunteers, advisors, physicians, and potential employers that would assist in the process of acclimating the refugees. The port was closed off to civilians for the day, and foldable tables and tents lined the harbor, each numbered and labeled to assist in finding where to go next. She stepped forward and introduced herself to the lieutenant and briefly spoke to the individuals to explain the process that they would need to endure. 

There were applications that Legion's citizens and military would need to fill out to the best of their ability, interviews, medical examinations, resettlement stations, and cultural orientation classes. For citizens, there were job-readiness classes and onsite job interviews. Some business owners of hotels and apartments offered space for families to stay for 30 days while they worked on approval for government housing. Even some of Caelums' citizens with homes offered rooms and sponsorship for single individuals and smaller families.

The daiyokai remained onsite and offered her assistance for the duration of the day, primarily working in the job-orientation area where she interviewed potential candidates that could assist her staff on her estate. 

A few days later, Akako moved through the halls the estate with purpose, some of her newly hired employees nodding their head as she walked by. So far there had only been a handful of hiccups that were reported, small skirmishes between Legion and some of Scarlet Empire's former residents. As unfortunate as it was, the daiyokai expected it and already had requested an increase in local police forces. 

"My Lady," the elder tortoise said as she approached her office. His head bowed briefly as she stepped around him and into the room, motioning for him to follow. 

"Come, Sheru. Close the door behind you, please." 

The door closed with a soft click as Akako sat down at her desk, looking to her oldest advisor. While some might find her expression cold and without feeling, he had known her long enough to gather that she was expectant from the way her head tilted just a fraction. It was hardly noticeable, but over the last millennia, he had grown to know the Lady of the Void quite well. 

"The Dark Lord has requested six months of supplies and food be sent as soon as possible." 

She nodded slowly before propping her left elbow on her desk and toying with her bottom lip idly for a moment. Her gaze found some particular grain of wood on her desk intriguing as her mind turned over Dredge's request. Sheru remained quiet, waiting for her to decide on how she would like to proceed. 

With a sigh, Akako righted herself and turned in her chair around to the row of drawers behind her and pulled one open before flipping through the files. Coming to the right one, she pulled it from its place before turning back to her desk and opening it. It seemed they had enough emergency rations to accommodate Legion and still have some left. It wasn't ideal, but she understood the necessity of keeping his people fed and capable of carrying out their task. 

"Send four months worth of rations, five cows, hens, roosters, seeds for them to plant grain, and tools to build. They have plenty of lumber in that region so they can be resourceful." 

While she spoke, the vixen plucked a piece of plain parchment from the stack, then an ink pen and well. A note was written to the Dark Lord to provide instruction on how to utilize the resources provided without burning through it. 

"Here," she neatly folded the note and stuffed it into an envelope then extended it to the tortoise. "Give this to Aiyoku. She will be leaving today with 100 men to assist Dredge." 

"My Lady," he took the letter, bowed his head and excused himself. 


 

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And... On to less extreme business...

 

The major power players of Valucre were not the only individuals interested in taking a part in the Dark Lord’s affairs. For years, Corren had possessed knowledge of an immense concentration of power hidden in six different corners of Genesaris. Power which others had found out about too and were out to exploit. Power that was dwindling with each day he hesitated. Had he the means to acquire his power, he would’ve done it without the slightest delay. But only fools would’ve went after the treasure he had in mind alone. Seasoned adventure groups had lost members while failing to acquire the items. In spite of his powerful magic, the survivability of a one man operation was quite doubtful.

 

So Corren observed Dredge from the top of the mountain. This wasn’t any different from the various other times he had been observing the Dark Lord. Always from a distance, always evaluating. As violent and ruthless as he had started out, Dredge had changed. He had grown a softer side towards his people. He actually cared about their well-being and future. But one thing that hadn’t changed, was his iron will. He was perfect.

 

His sudden appearance might’ve felt abrupt to the Dark Lord, especially since nobody in their right mind would wish to be affiliated with him at this point of time. But Corren had ambitions beyond the immediate. He foresaw a world where the outcasts could become the new rulers of the known continent. Man had its grasp of the entire planet. Perhaps it was time they shared.

 

He came to Dredge in a black cloak, but with the hood down, proudly displaying his undead flesh. He wanted the Dark Lord to have no reservations of his devotion and drive to see his proposal to the end. In his right hand, he clutched a hand-written scroll, containing a plan that he had personally devised.

 

As soon as he was stopped by whatever henchmen the Dark Lord had patrolling his quarters, Corren would make his piece.

 

“I come to seek an audience from Dredge.”

@The North Wind @Dredge

Edited by The Courier

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@Akako Akari @The Courier @The North Wind

 

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The first thing built in the coming days other than the temporary housing of tents, the timber mill, and of course the tunneling planning center. The thing that dwarfed them by comparison was Dredge’s love for entertainment, after all the man was a lover of the arts. Especially music, the Dark Lord would be nowhere without his love for it. Near the center of the camp, a small clearing of soft grass where fire elementals burned away and melted the snow for people to comfortably sit was made and erected there was a complete amphitheater with a band on stage playing their hearts and souls out for the crowd of workers on break, women and children, and whatever ear was close enough to catch the tune. 

One often didn’t expect the burly and warlike people of Orcs to be anything but deadly and dangerous brutes who raid villages and slaughter the innocent. Yet that wasn’t what was presented on stage. Where the Red Festival was all about death, the brutal sounds of metal, and giving the beastly creatures of the dark something to rage to. This band of orcs were gentle in nature, for the most part they wore standard civilian clothing. No spiked clothing, no shredded robes, just the standard fashion of the time. At least the majority of them wore that, the singer however was a bit more.... flamboyant. Known as Reggie, the rather slender man of an Orc wore a streak of red paint horizontally across his eyes and a bright floral skirt with a red low cut top. He was indeed gorgeous in his own special little way as he sung his heart out for the overlord and the crowd. 

 

The Overlord himself sitting in the far back on a comfy padded lawn chair with a tropical drink in his hand despite how cold it was once anyone took a few steps outside of the camp away from the fire elementals and fiends that provided warmth. All of it was the furthest thing you expected from a group of monsters, but Legion’s time with Dredge had certainly helped round down those rough edges in terms of culture and acceptance. He may of over-exaggerated their condition to Akako, they would still rip someone’s face off and didn’t understand the concept of civilized society. But for the most part in the culture, music, and appreciation for such things department. They were solid and weren’t a horde of shambling monsters. 

 

So when the Corren made it to Dredge’s quarters, expecting a potential fight in order to meet the Dark Overlord. He was simply met by a crew of armed death knights that huddled around in a group smoking a few loose cigarettes. 

 

”I keep telling you man, you gotta file that blood and cobweb covered pile of gold pieces under your assets. I mean you’re just leaving money on the blood soaked table come returns time.” The death knight said as he took a drag of his coffin nail. 

 

”I know I know, it’s just become one of those things that you keep saying you’re gonna do then when you get around to it, you’re just like, eh I’ll do it to tomorrow after the shadow hunt for lost souls in the ethereal plane. Then you get home and then- OH SHIT!” The death knight coughed and shuttered in their suit of dark armor as they noticed and turned to face Corren. 

 

”Dude don’t do that. I’m guessing you’re from Port Caelum? If you’re looking for the boss he’s at the amphitheater. Don’t disturb him too much, it’s mostly his time to relax.” The death knight then pointed over to the stage where the music was coming from. 

 

Things had certainly changed from their time on Terrenus. Where Dredge had formed an army to crush and kill, a force that had to live in the wilds and scrape and raid every day just to survive. These days, thanks to Queen Akako they had a place they could call home. They could somewhat let their guard down and just breathe and share in their cultures and lives. Quality of life had instantly improved from Terrenus and The Forgotten Fleet. People smiled, families had food to feed their children, and steady work was provided via the public works project of the tunnel and setting up of their foraging and farming industry. Overall Dredge thought that Akako would be pleased with the overall demeanor and happiness that she had brought to these people. 

 

But once again, despite the overall peace and love vibe people got from the more tame parts of the camp. There was still a dark side to all of it. 

 

Located outside the camps the massive tunnel project moved forward. In the days since Dredge had sent his message the goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, and massive ogres and trolls were hard at work and had already dug fifty meters into the mountains. And this act wasn’t done with the power of music and culture, it was accomplished by doing what these beasts knew best. The crack of whips and the snarls and roses of wargs. 

 

”AAALRIGHT YA MAGGOTS!! DIG! DIG OR YE BE PUT TO THE WARG PITS LIKE THAT SORRY SOUL!” A Goblin Foreman with a whip in one hand and for the other a rusty jagged blade attached where a hand once was pointed over to another goblin who had his mid section crushed by a falling rock. 

 

With life still within him the goblin put up as best a fight he could before being dragged over to the warg pits and thrown in for their lunch. The sounds and screams that came from said pit were best to not be described. Work was coming along swiftly and the supplies from Akako would be needed soon. Resources had been split and teams were working overtime. Orc blacksmiths were in constant rush mode to either fix current mining equipment, or forge new ones from the kobolds who dug and scavenged what they could from the surrounding mountains. This was Legion’s ability to build and push while working with shoddy tools and a split workforce. Once Akako’s supplies would arrive everything would run much smoother. All they could do was wait now.

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“Oh, sorry gentlemen. I’ll be heading over there now,” he dusted his hands off. “Good days to all of you.” Giving them each an individual nod of acknowledgement, Corren turned and headed over to the most “amphitheater” looking construct nearby. Amid booming music and cheerful laughter and the jostling of dozens of members of Dredge’s little mountain community, he spotted an object that was quite out of place. In the middle of a snowy winterland, was a beach chair. And on it, lay the fearsome being that had come to be his object of fascination.

 

It was easy. Too easy. There was no spectacle to create, no way for Corren to demonstrate his worth to the Dark Lord. Awkwardly he approached, removing his cloak as the fire elementals proved to be of immense effectiveness in increasing the temperature. He set the scroll on the floor before them. He itched for violence, even just the slightest reaction to show what he could offer the Dark Lord.

 

“And what if someone attempted to assassinate you?” Corren raised his eyebrow in complete astonishment at how... uncharacteristically the Dark Lord was behaving. “You wouldn’t even see it coming. The sun is in your eyes. The music drowns out any form of silent communication that your men might happen to catch. I’m this close to you now,” he drew his knife and twirled it around in his fingers. “What are you going to do about it?”

@Dredge

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Everything was beginning to change, while the bloodshed and terror still existed within the hearts of all the Legion's members and it's denizens...they were beginning to experience a change. Kru'Gorah had been with the dark lord since nearly the beginning of the legion's existence and though he was still an enigma to many within the organization...he was experiencing changes of his own. He had been created for the purpose of spreading torment, but it was more then that. Greedy, lustful men who victimized those who could not fight back...these were the amoeba he had been designed to terrorize. A monster for the dark to fear...These dealings with Akako and his position as emissary had opened his eyes to a great many things that had been so foreign to him. they were becoming more than just an organization...it felt familial and strange now. Hell was no home, and he felt more at home in the icy depths of these mountains then he ever did in the burning hells. How could he ever be an heir to Dredge's throne when he felt such unfamiliar anxiety amidst those who were now...family

He continued to keep his distance from the festivities and overall reverie as he skulked the heights of the amphitheater as a constant vigil overneath his Lord. His senses resolute in their efforts to keep him safe in these lands of unknown threats. Akako was a force to be reckoned with if the aura he felt was even a fraction of what she could, the demon at her side another wary contender. He knew his kind well as he was often seen wearing a patchwork cloak of numerous demonic hunters seeking to tan his 'traitorous' hide. He didn't trust them no matter how well she smiled, newcomers such as the one his eyes were currently fixed upon only solidified the unease. A spy as easily as a new recruit. It seemed as though he was solely focused on Dredge and didn't notice the presence of Kru'gorah's form amidst unnatural shadow. 

“And what if someone attempted to assassinate you?”
"You wouldn’t even see it coming. The sun is in your eyes. The music drowns out any form of silent communication that your men might happen to catch. I’m this close to you now"
“What are you going to do about it?”


The hiss of the dagger leaving it's sheathe made on a slight disturbance in the air, but the aura of intent Kru'Gorah kept over Dredge whenever he was at his side allowed the demon a margin of foresight when the intent to harm Dredge was felt within his area of influence. The dagger managing only a single rotation on his finger before a tail as fast as any well fletched arrow sweeped his legs and slammed him to the floor with merciless strength. A glow beginning to splinter through the chitin plates of the tail itself, revealing it's source as Kru'Gorah immediately swung his fist to the floor. His tail seeming to respond as it hummed with brimming ferocity.

"There is nothing more Lord Dredge needs to do; He has already appointed me with the task of handling vermin...like you" His voice coarse and purposeful; every word chosen carefuly as white pin points watched him through the shade of a patchwork cloak. His obscured and revealing only that he was dog legged with harrowing talons and a matching menagerie of claws that glinted against the light of his tail. The demon leaping from his perch and landing between the would be assassin and his own master. "You must respect the danger you have put yourself in; I am Kru'Gorah, Defender of the Throne...The Legions very own Djinn" He lowered himself to a feral position with his hands digging into the ground as his tail hovered over his head seemingly readying for a counterattack "I will bathe in your blood if you do not submit; You face the vessel of terror...So...What are you going to do about it?"

 

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Actually, Corren did sense the disturbance that the tail made in the air. With a quick jerk of his boot, the scroll which contained his invaluable proposal was displaced some 15 feet to his right. In an almost acceptant manner, he braced as the tail came sweeping below his legs. He landed on his chest, palms minimally cushioning the initial impact, although the fall had been much more forceful than he had expected. Turning over, he saw a massive shadow soar over his head before landing right between himself and Dredge. As the creature landed, Corren gasped in shock. He had seen some pretty disgusting things in his life, but nothing ever so terrible and revolting as Kru’Gorah. So this was one of the Dark Lord’s finest warriors? A good challenge to prove his worth.

 

“I...” Corren rolled over to face the demon, his face still scrunched up in disgust, “... Am going to do this!” For a split second as his left palm touched the ground, one might’ve seen his shadow climb up his wrist and envelope his body for but the tiniest of a moment. As Kru’Gorah drooled hungrily over the defenseless man in front of it, the shadows transformed Corren into something far more sinister, far more deadly.

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Rising from the puddle of blackness was what appeared to be an amorphous black humanoid composed of absolutely nothing but negative energy. Kru’Gorah might’ve tried to swipe his tail around, but it would’ve found no solid matter to pierce. The ground beneath the creature began to crumble away as it absorbed the rock that made up the ground into its form, adding mass into its growing body. Letting out an ear-piercing howl that sounded like that of a dying man, it surged upwards with ferocious intent, enveloping Kru’Gorah like a blanket. His body was made of pure darkness and it seemed to have a mind of its own, seeking to consume all physical matter and energy that it came in contact with. As it boxed the demon in, all one would hear was the muffled struggle that went on within the belly of Corren Ghostwalker’s Reaper form.

Edited by The Courier

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There was nothing more Kru'Gorah enjoyed more in his work than to show his lord the extent of his will. This lackadaisical frivolities these new accommodation brought was nothing more than a farce to him; He was a creature who could never understand the values of comfort and solidarity. Displays of power were the main currency in his day to day; There was no greater ruler than terror itself. He was quaking with such terror this newfound force emanated; He already felt worthy to attempt such assassination. "I will admit there is no honor in the taking of innocent lives; It is only when my terror takes hold of the truly nihilist does my true being thrive!" His cloaked voice called from it's hooded depths; His tail having already phased through his form in folly, it withdrew and instead guided alongside his flank. The scream and sheer force whipped up Kru'Gorah' cloak into a wild frenzy as he outstretched his arms and rejoiced at such an opportunity to show his master that the old ways will always prove to be the most effective method. Kru'Gorah' sudden bouts of laughter being smothered away as Corren's reaper form assailed him like a freezing night. 

The force of his absorption and power was astonishing on a surface level, but why did The Djinn feel as though he was holding back for some reason? How curious indeed. An assassin would try and finish such obstacles as swiftly as one could...perhaps he was some blundering recruit instead? His cloak was summarily torn asunder as he was encompassed in this all consuming haze. Negative energy was a dangerous force that laid claim to many mortal lives, and even his resistances couldn't withstand this for long. His smoldering claws beginning weave circles into the air "It is said that words themselves hold a font of power! Let us see what you do against the Prism of Agrail Dour!" The sigils sparked to life and caused a shift in the air around them as the orcs, goblins, and lizardfolk alike started to feel the unease The Djinn's influence brought; wisps of orange plumage floating from their forms as they watched the emissary battle with unholy conviction. The terror being extracted and manifesting A jagged prism around the two combatants. His hands pressing together now as the prism started to shrink and collapse; His cackling becoming manic now as he felt the terror of all those within a hundred feet amplify his spell. The prism would soon crush the both of them as it continued to condense around them

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The Reaper had merely been a means of repositioning. Corren had no intention of killing Kru'Gorah. However, he would not hold back if his own life were to come under threat. Finding a random point facing away from Dredge, an appendage of dark energy burst out of the mass of Reaper matter, connecting with the prism at a single point. All at once, the dark matter spread across that tiny fraction of the prism, converting it as well into dark matter. Using that opening, Corren executed his escape.

A single black humanoid form burst out of the hole in the prism, arms spread in an aerodynamic landing stance. Bending its knees, its feet touched the ground without the slightest sound. It turned to face Kru'Gorah and Dredge, no longer caught by surprise, no longer at the mercy of the cruel demon. Extending its palm in what appeared to be some form of a beckoning, the humanoid commanded the dark matter to withdraw, surging towards itself from the hole in the prism. The blackness flowed into its fingertips before warping around its body, reshaping it into a more comprehensible form for the human eye. What stood before Kru'Gorah now appeared to be some sort of crippled knight. Its armor was badly rusted and seemed to be fused to the body of whoever was inside. A torn cloak adorned its body, and a pair of swords were strapped to its back. But most disturbing was its left arm, or lack thereof. Just below the elbow, its left arm ended in a rounded stump, covered by layers upon layers of aged bandages. Looking up to address the demon, the Cripple began to exude an intimidating presence on any lesser creatures that were unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. A cold reptilian voice came from behind the visor. 

"I did not come here to kill you, Demon. But if I must shed blood to gain an audience with your master, so be it!"

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Drawing his sword and raising the blade to eye level, the Cripple adopted a defensive stance to ward off the deadly tail of Kru'Gorah. Something so light and quick could strike unpredictably and rapidly. Something so light and quick could be severed with one clean cut.

@Djinn&Juice

Edited by The Courier

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Kru'Gorah hadn't realized his opponent was just as versatile as he was. He had underestimated his initial attack of such negative energy. He was formidable indeed. The demon ceasing his spell and slamming into the ground; talons digging into the ground as he watched how this being worked. He had learned such tactics from his very master and started to enjoy understanding his opponents instead of brutalizing them outright. If he knew what lair he was walking into, then such a paltry dagger was obviously not sufficient enough. Was this some sort of test perhaps? This organization attracted a great deal of enshrouded figures with unseen power. This one was no different and even something hard to kill like he wasn't infallible. A blind attack would result in the loss of his tail and that is quintessential to losing one's sword. Perhaps this wasn't as much of a danger to his lord then he thought...maybe he could have a little fun.

A grin splitting across his leathery features as he watched The Reaper turn into The Cripple as though he changed fighting styles completely. This figured possessed a different stance altogether now as he stood in tattered rags and emanated an aura of terror all his own. The unfortunates that were too moored in the terror fabricated from Kru'Gorah now began to cut tail and run as it seemed as though they were going to kill eachother. The demon feeling his skin ignite with such unfamiliar fear of his own and it was enough to bring forth a cacophony of laughter. It had been too long since he had tasted his own terror. Such potency. "Never since the fight with my master have I tasted such fear, Perhaps you are one to revere~" He said with quaking excitement as he crouched low to the ground as though her were some demonic canine prepared to pounce. His tail slithering back behind his form and out of sight "Such terror in sheer presence is hard to find, please...allow me to return the favor in kind
The demon lurching forward and flinging forth with claws of burning orange clashed against the blade with bright sparks.

An eruption of stone and earth a precursor to the coiled tail of Kru'Gorah firing forth from the ground where it had burrowed. The cripple now seeing his tail anchored into a hole it had created; weaving it's length just behind his opponent's position to strike. His tail's length an advantage in itself. His claws aiming to distract with ceaseless assault as his tail sought to bury itself in his back. He was still learning such advanced tactics from watching his fellow members fight, and he hoped to one day become a master of this new style; Fighting dirty. The terror he had amassed from the other subjects culminating and glowing through his teeth as clashed with The Cripple's blade once more and unleashed an insidious beam from his maw.

 

Spoiler

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Kru’Gorah was a fearsome beast with many limbs. His four base appendages already proved to be dangerous enough with their sharp talons. But the true strength of the demon lay in the use of its frontal and rear appendage, specifically its head which emitted powerful beams of energy, and its dastardly tail which sought to pierce the Cripple from behind.

Corren had merely a pair of legs and a single sword arm. To most under such circumstances, Kru’Gorah had delivered checkmate. But the Cripple had an ace up its sleeve.

As the beam of energy surged forward from Kru’Gorah’s face, the Cripple made one most unexpected play. In a split second, it’s visor glowed with a bright purple before spewing out its own laser beam to counter the demon’s. The two beams clashed between the fighters as their gazes locked on to one another’s. It was a high stakes staring contest to see who would back down first, and whoever did would feel the full force of the other’s attack.

With his right hand, the Cripple anticipated the moves of the demon, crossing blade with claw in an elegant dance of steel.

Demonic Presence, Third Eye 👹 👁 

Kru’Gorah was stealthy and quick, his tail bursting out of the ground with utmost precision. If the Cripple had been any lesser creature, it would surely have fallen victim to the Djinn’s crafty attack. But one would’ve quickly found that it was no mere mortal, nor was it immortal. It was something not of this world. It was, unnatural. And unlike Kru’Gorah and the various sentient races of Valucre, the Cripple perceived the world in a different way, what a three dimensional being could only perceive as “Third Person”. But quite simply, it saw everything that went on around it.

As the tail surged upwards, so did the Cripple’s body bend to the right to evade it by a mere inch. And in the act of bending to the right, its own left stump shifted upwards into an offensive position. Coils of dark energy began to dart about it like static, ripping apart the molecules in the air. What many would’ve considered to be the least threatening part of the Cripple’s body was quickly becoming its most deadly asset. With a low guttural roar, it thrust the stump forward, hurling the entire mass of darkness into Kru’Gorah’s body.

@Djinn&Juice

[Skill Used - Nausea Bolt]

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Kru'Gorah had only recently started to understand battle as a form of understanding and strategy; Perceiving his opponents as prey was ineffective. It left him far too open for those with actual skill to put him down swiftly. This is what his trainers had called 'overpowering' the enemy. What this maneuver didn't account for however...was versatility. His agony beam being countered with a similar counterattack. The demon clenched his jaws as he was forced to enter the second state of terror feast. The radius of his feast increasing now as The Cripple heard shouts of fear and chaos as more of the orcs and inhuman races were plagues with The demon's terrifying aura as it increased in power. The stump of an arm emanating a powerful aura of darkness as he narrowly dodged his tail and flung forward with a potent counterattack. The momentum of his tail still aiming forward and on a trajectory to hit Kru'Gorah from the front.

A spark of that tactical font being drawn forth as he allowed his tail to betray it's master

The tail shot forth underneath the blast as it connected to the demon's clavicle; The tail's speed smashing into him within moments of the blast impact and causing him to fly back into the cavernous walls. The tail saving him from only the most direct impact, it had still connected and caused rocks to collide from the ceiling and break up debris around where Kru'Gorah had been implanted onto the ground and obscuring view of his form. A few uncertain moments passing before a blast of rock was heard. Kru'Gorah using the debris to slither into the hole his tail had created...only this time emerging directly underneath him as two sets of claws exhumed around his feet and attempted to pull him underneath. It seemed he could dodge a great deal of his attacks in the opponent so what would attacking from the ground do? His tail piercing through the caverns below and feeding off latent terror. This one was worthy indeed. Should he finally show dredge the third stage of Terror Feast? This combatant was certainly formidable enough for such a celebration.

@The Courier

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