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 Chapter 7: Gathering Shadows

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ixidor83



Posts : 31
Join date : 2011-09-13

PostSubject: Chapter 7: Gathering Shadows    Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:19 am

Chapter 7: Gathering Shadows

The cart bounced over a rut in the road as Ranmaru awoke. The ropes that bound him were tight. No sooner had he awakened did he received a swift kick to his chest. He glanced up and saw a familiar face.

“Wakey, Wakey, dipshit!” Mused Rashomon, his amused expression suddenly turning angry. “You know you’re in deep shit right. Helping start a war because you were having sex with a woman! You’re a damned fool.”

“A War.” Ranmaru coughed pathetically, “I never thought…”

“Well, because of your recklessness thousands of men, women, and children are going to die!” Screamed Magoichi, as she halted the cart, grabbing her rifle. Her face painted with betrayal.

“Calm down Magoichi! We need to get him back to his father. Alive. We are going to need has many fighters as we can get…..” Guarded Rashomon. His hand placed on Magoichi’s rifle lowering it. “You KNOW what wars are like. If there is a chance your cousin here is capable of being turned back to the side of reason…..we could use his help”

Magoichi sighed and returned to the cart. Taking the reins she retorted, “It will be a while before his father trusts him.”

“I have no doubt,” Replied Rashomon, “but family is family…..” Rashomon turned to look out the back of the cart. Glancing at Serul port sinking into the distance, Rashomon wondered when he would see his family again.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Kiku Paced in her room of the Deadly Aim. Her silk kimono gently draped around her body, she glanced out the window again. The city had finally calmed down from the excitement from earlier today. The attack had been a resounding success but none of her men had returned. Tressitoire had mentioned that the nezumi would die, not that they were important, but she had committed some important people to this mission. None had returned…..at least not yet.

Suddenly the door to her room burst open! In the door way clutching her shoulder was the one person she had been waiting for, Red-Paw. She rushed to her catching her as she fell. She was alive but hurt, three bolts protruding from her back. Tears began to well up in Kiku’s eyes has she removed the bolts.

“Short-Tail! Fetch me some potions!” Screamed Kiku.

Red-Paw coughed and glanced up at Kiku. With relief in her voice she whispered, “The Seahawks have some good marksmen. Also this is the last fucking job I’ll pull were I go in blind. They’re all dead except me.” Red-Paw paused for a moment as she drank one of the potions that Short-Tail returned with. She continued with greater strength in her voice as the potion began its work, “Cutter, Shibata, Ranmaru, all of them are dead. The nezumi were successful in starting the party but they posted some heavy duty security in city hall. The same fucks that ruined the Rosewood job. Our men were slaughtered. I thought you said the Leonin would go easy and make sure that there was minimum security.”

Kiku carried Red-Paw to the bed has she helped feed her another potion. Kiku’s voice rose in anger as she gritted through her teeth, “He did, the fucker!” Her expression softened has she laid Red-Paw down, She watched as more of her wounds sealed shut.

Red-Paw gazed into Kiku’s eyes has they shared a common realization. Kiku’s eyes hardened as she said, “He used us.”

Red-Paw, an evil glint returning to her eye, began to sit up. She glanced at Kiku as their mutual thoughts began to turn bloody. In an almost demonic tone she asked plainly, “So how do you think we should pay him back?”

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

In the center of Darastrixhurthi the new parliament had finally convened. Ru Palax Des Orn’s talons snapped against the large platform that represented her new position as co-regent of House Orn. Her Partner, Gix Foth Des Orn, glanced toward the host of common kobolds smiling, newly risen by the magic vessel now deemed the Cup of Kurtelmak, Ru Palax was greatly pleased that she at least had the chance to choose her partner. The Cup had blessed them with the boon of divinity but with that boon came visions of the purpose of the Cup. They were meant to create a pair of dragons for each of houses originally created by Io, even those of the long dead houses. With the creation of each house pairing, the Vessel’s sacred life giving mixture decreased. The House of Orn had agreed to allow Ru Palax to choose her mate in order to aid her in the creation of new dragons.

The others were not so lucky in that regard. Ontrix, Oska Raul, Razylvyn, Thrax, and Rith Skarr had their draconic companions chosen for them by their respective houses. What shocked Ru Palax was the sudden arrival of kobolds of House Vutha. They were the first dead house to rise from the Cup. Now their elder black dragons sat regal and majestic on platforms of obsidian recently constructed by the common kobolds.
As the harvest moon entered through the hole in the center of the council chamber a sudden silence fell. Ru Palax gazed into Gix’s eyes and nodded. Has she did, the rest of the council began to shift and take position. Finally all of the council members were seated. Ru Palax began the prepared statement that they had collaborated on. She had been chosen to speak on these matters by the rest of her companions for her “Kind demeanor.”

She flexed her new wings to add an artful flourish as she began, “Kobolds of Okarthel! Of Io! Hear me now! Your lives are truly blessed this day. As you know the second age of dragons as begun. The Cup of Kurtelmak gives new life to those who have noble draconic blood in their veins and blesses them with divinity. We , as your divinely appointed leaders, have begun a search for kobolds with blood lines that hold ties to the dead houses of Okarthel. Until this great task is completed we will be suspending all construction projects, declare no wars, seal our borders, and only focus on preserving the lives of the next great leader of a long forgotten house. Those Kobolds that believe they have divine blood in their veins should alert their magistrates and should know that their claims will be tested by The Cup if they are deemed worthy!”

Upon finishing her speech the rest of the council spoke together, “In Io’s name!”

With that the council ended. The crowd of common kobolds scattered rushing to relay the news to the countless millions that waited to her the first decree of the new parliament. Ru Palax thought to herself, what this new era would bring? How she hoped that the search for the new heads of houses would span hundreds of years so that peace could be held for as long as possible. She had Gix now and that meant she could hope…………………….

//////////////////////////////////////////////////

Logbook of Rai Valotau

Entry 68:

I am free, finally. My Izzet “pets” have taken the facility. Most of the guards fled when the main guard was tossed into the lava vats, that didn’t save them when I triggered an explosion in the lower level. I have to commend the catfolk workers that remain, they at least know who to side with in a crisis….The side with thirty elemental wierds!

I now control several hundred catfolk workers, 50 catfolk wizards, and 5 catfolk artificers. On top of that I have the entire facilities resources and the current shipments of supplies to complete my work. The past several days I have been fortifying my new facility. Fences, Lava tube turrets, and a newly trained security force have been put in place around the factory.

Ral Zerek thinks I’ll return to Ravinca in order to help me to take over the guild, the fool. He should learn to temper his ambitions. Niv cannot be defeated in his own guild. My plans however, can be realized. With the eversponge in my possession I can begin to power my new designs. All that remains is for my friends aboard to retrieve the item and bring it here to me. Ora cannot fail me.

In time I can complete my true goal. Overturning the Karmainian Empire ruled by that elven witch. Liberation is coming. Though I am worlds away, I have not forgotten the crimes against my people.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Tessitore placed his empty glass on the table as he stood up. He felt the head rush of the liquor as he walked over to his Lanceboard table, luckily the shifting of the ship compensated his teetering gait.

Lanceboard, the noble gnome’s favorite game. He could see the beauty of the game, all the pieces on the board, no surprise units, and each side starting on even ground. Real war is nothing like Lanceboard, mused Tessitore, War is about who can press the advantage, demoralize, and break the will of enemy. This requires ambushes, dirty dealings, and espionage. Wars are won in the shadows by leonin like him, not by great generals.

In one month, Tessitore had used the criminal underbelly of Oka to start a war in which the Thunderclaw Empire was the victim not the aggressor. Not to mention he secured a strong alliance with the realm’s current superpower. The Rhox would be caught off guard with a sudden declaration of war but the Leonin navy would be ready. It had been assembled before he left for Butterfly Isle. The Rhox are unparalleled in their ground tactics but their navy is weak. Upon his arrival on Sagami he would send word for the Leonin fleet to commence attack. From there the navy would crush the ports on the eastern side of Eichigo and establish landing sets. Then the real battle would begin. Tessitore began to reset the board but removed the pawns from the opposing side, just has he had done to the Rhox.


///////////////////////////////////////////////////

The music on the ship was continuous and upbeat has Maya returned to the Hound’s Tooth. Her steps were heavy to match her thoughts. She felt the uneasy rock of the ship has she scaled the gangplank. She was met with smiling crewmates dancing and reveling in a frenzy that she could never match. She edged her way around the festivities. As did so, she glanced upward and saw Griffin in his common perch, a slight grin tracing his face. Her guilt doubled upon this sight. How could she be the only one with sadness in her thoughts? Everyone around her was happy. Why wasn’t she? She had a family now. Her thoughts continued their downward turn as she walked into the forecastle. She found herself in her bunk as she thought “I have a family but do I really want it……”

******************************************
How long had it been since he had held a weapon of his house? Gabarro asked himself in his mind. As he turned the hammer in his hand feeling himself return to that day. The music and smells of the party above him faded into an ethereal hum as he returned to that fateful day.

He remembered the feel of the stone of the outer wall of Clearwater Port. The smell of the sea has he looked out on the open sea faced with Leonin ships. In a moment he was there.

“Mubin!” Shouted Redox, his second in command and friend. “I thought you had gotten lost. I figured I would have to find you and drag you u here.”

“Not a chance you bastard.” He spoke, his voice dripping in arrogance in order to hide his nerves. “I wouldn’t miss this chance at battle.” He smacked his friend’s armor and moved into the command position. As Redox moved to his side, he leaned into his friend and whispered, “When can we expect an attack?”

“At any time honesty.” Redox commented. “You know how the Leonin are about diplomacy.”

The next hour was agony. He remembered waiting and watching as the Leonin gathered on their shores and began to set up their infantry just outside of catapult range. His palms covered in sweat, he thought about his training and his father’s parting words, “You’ll return a man! Now go make your brother and I proud. In Jiwari’s Name bring us victory!”

The sounds of cannons crashing against the walls to his left brought him back to the battle. The sounds of breaking masonry matching his quacking eroding calm. “Steady now!” He called out his voice shaking slightly. A cold chill rushing down his spine contrasted the rapid pounding in his chested. “Remember what we do here we do for the Stonehorn Emp-“

His speech ended sharply has a cannon shot obliterated the section of wall to his left. He jumped to his feet with the scent of stone filtering through his nose. He glanced to his left seeing the mangled bodies of his men but nothing prepared him to see the broken body of Redox 30ft below. His armor broken and spread open; along with his chest. His blood creating a macabre halo on the pure white stone. His resolve and sanity broke in an instant. He jumped off the wall crashing on the stones with mild force. He climbed over the stones to his friend. His hands grasped the organs that had spilled out and placed them back into the mess of his chest cavity. He heard the echoing cries of his men yelling for orders suddenly silenced as more cannon balls erupted through the wall. His fear gripped him and he began to run, his legs barely having the strength to carry him. His heart pounding in rhythm with his legs.

Penny’s foot landed on a loose board and announced her presence with a sharp squeak. His mind returned to the present. He realized that his face was wet with sweat and tears.

“Sorry Gabarro. I didn’t mean to scare you.” Penny chirped.

“It’s alright little one.” Sighed Gabarro. “I hadn’t expected anyone to follow me down here.” Gabarro thanked the gods that the shadows of the lamp hid his face long enough to wipe his face. “It’s hot down here.” He feinted.

“Whatcha thinkin’ about?” Her tone turning inquisitive. “Aren’t you happy? We got you back.”

“They were doing their duty.” Spoke Gabarro in a haunted tone. “As I should have done long ago.”

“You were young and unprepared.” Penny reassured. Her hand patting his back.

“I was responsible for hundred men and I abandoned them.” he continued, conviction in his voice. “And because of my cowardice they died. I can’t deny that those deaths are mine to bear. I was foolish but since that day I promised to help those who needed my help.”

“I know you won’t break that promise.” Penny spoke with a softness in her voice. “You should come above deck and join us. This party is for you.”

“I’ll be up in a moment. You head up and I’ll meet you. I have to lock up the hold.” He sighed as a small smile spread across his face.

“Ok!” Penny squeaked.

Has Penny climb the stairs the light that she brought faded. Leaving only a flicking candle to protect him from the darkness. He stored his brother’s hammer in his ring but kept his armor. As he ascended the stairs he felt that clinging fear of his own cowardice; following him like a shadow.

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