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Zigzag

Choices Make All The Difference

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For some time now, Tazarek has been dormant, but no longer. Now was the time for this nation of dwarves to expand their horizons, and so they looked eastward. 

Surrounding the Hidden Valley and Dark Forest were mountains, glorious monuments to the values the dwarves hold dear, and made the perfect position in their efforts. The southern portion was to be guarded with a grand fortress, to ensure that anyone who desired to go into the area on land, would have to pay the toll. To the north, a similar fortress was to be built, to guard the land in the seas, and provide similar tolls on what was going to be a thriving port of trade. All that was needed to resolve was one thing that could bring it all down.

A burgeoning city known as Nesthome was home to both humans and ratmen, a fact which upsets a good deal of the more conservative minded dwarves. While small, they posed a threat, and so diplomatic relations had to be established in order to understand whether or not further action needs to be taken. 

Approaching the wooden gate was a group of dwarven soldiers, escorting an iron plated carriage pulled forward by strong horses. Each of the soldiers were heavily armed and armored, they didn't even look as if they were breaking a sweat. Making their way to the gates, the lead dwarf shouted in a thick accent.

"Oi laddy! Get yer arse down 'ere and open up so we can talk to ya leaders abou' somethin' important! Come on now, we ain't got all day ya daft bastards." Certainly the dwarven people are known equally for their stoicism, and their inability to mince words. 

@Jotnotes

Edited by Zigzag

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The roads to Nesthome are well-worn, but still new. Instead of cobbled pathways or paved, smooth earth, the roadways are potholed and pitted with the grooves of heavy wheels. Hoofprints, footprints, and tracks of inclement wildlife, have long been baked into the drying soil by the sun and weather. Mud puddles cling to their fetor on the sides, where the brush begins and the trees still grow. Rather, where some trees still grow. There can be no mistaking the forbidden woods as untouched any longer--long before arriving at the town nestled in the heart of the trees, felled plants of immeasurable age and might are plainly visible. Where you cannot see the workers, you can still hear them, either deeper in the woods, or further down the road. The logging crews are diverse, but it's not the human loggers, or the other, more common species hacking at the trees that catch the eye. It's the plainly obvious, difficult to avoid, difficult to discuss that captures the attention of most. The man-sized, bordering-on-scrawny ratfolk that swarm these sites, a dozen, two dozen, three dozen of them working in tandem, hacking down branches, or using fire and saws to bring down the mighty trees. It's a slaughter in the making--an arborcide, perpetuated by an invasive species.

More than a few of them watch the wagon pass, ears and noses twitching as the observe the travelling wagon.

The wagon rolled towards the wooden walls of Tradetown. The walls were strong, made of heavy logs lashed together into a sturdy-looking barrier. Behind it, the peaks of rooftops peered over, as if the town within dared to peek over at the incoming dwarves. The wall itself was manned by both men and verm alike, and it became strikingly obvious that there wasn't any real cohesion between the two. Close to the gate, a simply-dressed human woman in leather gear rested one hand on a quiver of arrows strapped to her waist. Not too far off, a Verm licked his eyes nervously, his tongue snaking past his front teeth, and slipping underneath the grey iron helmet he wore. His pauldrons appeared to be made of layered bark, topped with heavy studs forced through the material. The crossbow he carried seemed far too expensive in comparison to his ramshackle gear.

On 6/20/2020 at 11:05 AM, Zigzag said:

"Oi laddy! Get yer arse down 'ere and open up so we can talk to ya leaders abou' somethin' important! Come on now, we ain't got all day ya daft bastards." Certainly the dwarven people are known equally for their stoicism, and their inability to mince words. 

The woman glanced towards the Verm, then behind her as someone else clambered up the ladder behind her.

"What this, then?" The man climbing the ladder asked. 

"Dwarves, I guess?" She shrugged, letting her hand fall to her side. "They say they want to talk to our leaders." She let that hang for a second while he got to the top. Once he was off the ladder, he smacked his lips thoughtfully.

"Definitely never been here before," He noted. The man approached the side and glanced down. 

"To be clear, whose leaders are you here to see?" He asked politely. "The Guild Masters aren't expected to arrive for another week, the Kid is off on business, and we don't have a mayor or anything."

The Verm close by spoke up, clutching his crossbow warily even still. 

"Maybe short-things are speaking about King-King." He pointed out. 

The man glanced back down. 

"You here to talk to the Rat King?" He asked.

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"Yes! We wish to speak with the bloody Rat King, what other kings are around here?!" The dwarf shakes his head. "Ya'd think these people wouldda figured out some kinda system for this." His fellow dwarves shrugged their shoulders.

When they were allowed into the city proper, the wagon made its way on the dirt road. Inside the wagon, the diplomats were feeling a little nervous.

"I heard these Verm will eat anything, even dwarves." Said one of the diplomats. 

"Calm down." Another said. "As long as we keep our heads, everything will be fine." 

"As long as we don't have to be out in that mud. It's absolutely filthy out there. Do they have absolutely no decency?" Grumbled the last. 

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On 6/26/2020 at 4:38 PM, Zigzag said:

"Yes! We wish to speak with the bloody Rat King, what other kings are around here?!"

"Yeah, there you have it." The recent guard turned to the Verm. "You wanna guide them down there?"

The Verm continued to stare down at them, crossbow to his chest, but hands on the trigger. He looked over each of them warily before his tail wrapped around the crossbow and he let it go, scampering down the ladder on all fours. A moment later the gate swung open to allow the wagon and its occupants passage to Trade Town.

With the gate down, the Verm was able to guide them along the main road, which was a fair bit sturdier and well-kept than the roads inward. Cobbled paths led the way through the various man-made structures all around, all of them made of that fine, strong wood of the once-enchanted trees that surrounded the town. Each building had similar designs, with strong frames filled in with clay or stone typically, though a few buildings were made entirely of logs, and others still were made of sod, and built deep into the earth. There weren't terribly many shops, per say, but many different open-air booths and workplaces, where the sunlight could pour down upon them.

The Verm turned inwards, up a slowly inclining hill where houses and buildings slowly got more elaborate and large. Near the top of the small hill was a large, and quite obvious structure--the sign that read "Trader's Guild" made it even more obvious. In fact, there were several large, proud signs up this far, many of them instore businesses and services with various wooden signs hanging off the front door. The roads widened as they ascended, and folks walked along the very edges of the paths.  The streets up here were busy and packed, and other wagons moved up and down this route as well. All around them, men and women of all races talked among themselves while the sounds of inner city busywork rang out. The crash of the carpenter's hammer, and the ringing of the smith's mallet were audible in equal measure. 

It was, at this point, that it became clear that there was a clear Verm presence here. Not only were they effectively everywhere, but they worked in coordination, much like the rats in the woods, often moving in large, talkative groups in and out of the busy streets. There were more than a few on the various rooftops nearby. Was the wagon being watched?

The Verm guide moved beyond even these buildings and these civilians towards what was clearly the most important part of Trade Town.

Near the top of the small hill, surrounded now on all sides by buildings and streets was a large, heavy wooden door. The door was crudely carved and cured into no discernible pattern, but rather appeared to be largely utilitarian in design. Unlike many of the other streets, the only guards posted there were Verm. These guards--almost a dozen of them--were strapped down with heavier armor along their long, exposed necks and heads and shoulders, but had very little along their chests. Each wielded well-made iron spears, although the speartips also featured a cruel, jagged hook and a pointed tip. They took notice of the Verm who approached first, then the wagon behind them and moved forward to investigate.

"Snol, who are half-things?" One of them prompted quickly. The guide, Snol, bowed his head in subservience.

"Half-men, come to speak-meet with King-King!" He replied honestly, gesturing to their cart. "Half-things say 'King-Rat is the one-only King around!'"

One of the guards snorted, amused with their supposed obedience, and stepped toward the wagon.

"Half-things," He spoke, staring up at them on their cart. "Wagon-ride is fine, but can't-take into King's-Hold. Keep-cart outside, yes-yes?"

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