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 Post subject: STGOD, Frigid's Revenge!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:36 am 
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"This World grows cold, I grow discontent." The voice hissed across the dark misty marble hall. Around a vast table, with a high rim against which water could be heard swoshing against, a collection of tall figures in robes and mask loomed. The masked figures turned towards the voice, the owner of which was hidden in shadow. There was a nervous silence in the hall.

"Nothing changes. The Swan Lords bicker in their cities, the so called Dark Lord glowers at the knights, the amphibians are lost in their rites and the other mortal races wallow in barbaric waste. The World as grown cold." The voice continued.

At last one of the figures stepped forward and guestured with a hand covered in a steel gauntlet.

"If MiLord would allow me a move?" The steel gloved figure spoke. The hall itself seem to shudder in answer and the gauntleted figure nodded and moved back to the table. With a another guesture a carving of a city appeared in it's hand. A large city with small figures moving about it's street. The figure set it down on the table, which was covered in frighteningly accurate map ringed with water. A mummer grew around the table, appreciation for a bold move.

"Yesssss.... All of you take a move. Make the world warmer." The figured bowed.

A slim figure with sleek black gloves gestured and a figure appeared in her hands. A tall grim iron crowned figure masked and hooded beneath it's fearsome royal regalia. The figure was placed upon a northern shore to the nods and chuckles of other figures.

A figure with a red right hand reached out and tipped over the figure of a Dark Lord, a single red finger stirred sparks within the figures of orcs, trolls and other monsters. A wave of uncomfortable whispers ran about the table at this.

An island rose from the sea at the bidding of another figure and a city appeared upon it. There were grim and rather scornful chuckles at this move so much like the move that had stared the round.

"Why that move?" Asked the voice from the shadow. The figure who had made that move stepped forward. It was smaller then the others, it's face covered with a mask, half white and half black, a laughing mask.

"Milord want's the world to be made warmer for him. The mortals must strive in word and deed to outdo each other. To be greater. I have given the city of my elder a rival, a measuring stick that will goad and challenge. I have also given the city of my choice something to fear. Each city will regard the other with fear and rage, they will be goaded to new heights. The world... Your World milord, will grow warm" The smaller figured explained.

"Yes... Yes.... This pleases me. I feel warmer already."

Turn 1, Spring 6011 (Swan Lord Calendar)

The warm sun rose over the World. The snow and frost retreated. Winter had fallen to spring. The world awoke. The world has changed. The two cities of Carthage and Rome have been upon the world for generations now and have remade the world. The Ogres have begun the climb out of barbarianism. The Amphibians have been shaken in their dark, cold green fastness. The Inca peer down upon the low lands in deep thought. The Swan Lords shocked out of their dreamy isolationist daze. The northern tribes united under the grip of the Witch King, while the Orcs struggle with the ideals of freedom and liberty while the eyes of the Knights and Arcadia lay upon them.

It is spring, the world is waking up. The world grows warm.

_________________
"it takes two sides to end a war but only one to start one. And those who do not have swords may still die upon them." Tolken


Last edited by frigidmagi on Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:05 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:44 pm 
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High up in the mountains, where few mortals dared venture for long for the very air itself turned inimical towards life, there was still activity. Monasteries carved into the frozen stone dotted the mountain tops, their construction raised by a combination of devoted labour and dark arts. Many of the men and women who had climbed the mountains in a religious calling to aid in the building of the monasteries remained there, their frozen, dessicated corpses left on display as signs of piety, commoners entombed with nobles and greater personages for their contributions. Nobles too remained here, their bright funerary clothes slowly fading in the intense summer sun, the snowy winter nights, and the ever present winds.

Yet, for all that the tops of the mountains were tombs, the travelers trudging their way up the expertly paved roads knew that the not everything that was dead up here was inactive. Amongst the posed bodies, some of the leather skinned beings turned their heads so that their hollow eye sockets could track the progress of the mortals in heavy clothing up the path. Breathing heavily against the bitter, thin air, the steam of life billowing about them, the men and women of the lower altitudes made their way ever higher, into the abodes of their lords. Leading a caravan filled with scrolls and tomes, they brought the latest reports to those whose magical power had allowed them to transcend life itself.

Reaching the highest point on the highest mountain where a mortal man could go and still live, the convoy of greater nobles and lesser mages passed through the great doors of the greatest monastery in Amatocoya, entering into a massive chamber cut from the rock bit by bit over centuries of time. A small bonfire in the corner furthest from the door served as one of the few comforts for mortals, the year round occupants having little need of such things, preferring to use the effort in bringing goods this high to bring up masses of parchment, candles and supplies for experiments. Huddling about the fire, the younger members on their first pilgrimage nervous about such impropriety while the older members just trying to get warm, they waited.

An echoing tap noise breaks the grim silence, the sound repeating in a slow beat that grows louder with each beat of the heart. The younger individuals could not help but feel a quiver in their bones that was not entirely from the frigid air but tried to fight it, while those who had been to this place before knew that the only people who they needed a brave face for were the other living men around them. Their host approached regardless of the terror of the living, and he cared little one way or another for mortal frailties. Some of the men and women might one day ascend these heights to join with the ranks of his peers and would have to show greater strength then, but that would be for later. For now, the matters of the living were the subject at hand.

Entering into the light cast from the bonfire with the glint off the rubies set in his weathered staff leading the way, the centuries old wizard known as Hamatallya turned his dead eyes out across the living assembled before him and asked in a hollow, leathery voice, "The census is complete?"

"Yes, my lord," the senior member of entourage replied, the middle-aged wizard having made the trek enough times that he could handle the ancient's gaze without letting his eyes wander away from the shrunken, withered mummy's face. The founder of the Amatocoya wore fine robes woven from exotic fabrics and brightly dyed with gold and silver flourishes not for his own comfort, but because it gave his subjects something to look at besides his face.

"Good. My fellow college of wizardly lords shall aid me in examining the minutiae, but the overall projections are as I had predicted?" Hamatallya rasped.

"Yes, my lord. This decade's census falls precisely where you prophesied it would," the leader of the entourage stated.

A dry sound escaped from the mummy's lips, one that those in audience were slow to realize was laughter. Hamatallya stated, "My predictions were not prophesied by the gods, but of wisdom born of immortal age. I have seen much, and seen many patterns. The world unfolds in certain patterns the young often find fleeting that are obvious to the old, and I am very old."

"You told my predecessor that you had special instructions for this eventuality," the speaker stated, remembering his the last time he had accompanied a census up these mountains.

"I did," Hamatallya admitted wryly. "When you return to warmer climes, a Tentixalla shall be issued. The Amatocoya will go to war."


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:34 pm 
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Dragonstone
"An Outrage!" yelled one of the massive ogres as he stomped on the hard wooden floor. "The First Hall has raided my lands, stealing from my farms and stores!" Another, much older ogre spoke up then. "The Selkie have grown bold as well! Just last month a group of their ships were trying to raid my coast!" The group of ogres in the hall, all of them important men stood then, stomping their feet and yelling.

The middle-aged ogre on the jewel encrusted seat raised a hand, when this did not work, he stomped a foot to get order. When even this failed, he got to his feet. "Enough!" Hávarƌr yelled with the might of a general and a king. The hall grew quiet quickly after that. "I have heard your complaints, and will consider them. You shall have my decision tomorrow morning."

This brought on another bout of angry shouting and Hávarƌr left the matter to the others as he made his way out the back to discuss this with his steward. The angry shouting fading behind him as he walked down the halls and reached a small room. Hávarƌr knocked on the door and announced himself before waiting to hear from the man inside.

"Enter." Came an older sounding voice, and with only a moment of hesitation Hávarƌr stepped inside to view a smaller, much older ogre, who sat in a bed with his legs covered by furs. "Father." The younger ogre said with some reverence. The old ogre smiled at this and spoke again. "They are getting more restless every week. It is time you proved to them again why you are King."

Hávarƌr nodded. "Yes, but who do I move against? Ragnvalder is a constant challenge to the throne. He is a unifying figure for the remaining ogre tribes. If we leave him alone too much longer he may be able to rise against us."

Hrolf shook his head. "Ragnvalder cannot unite the tribes. He does not claim to be a king, even. These Selkie however, their Grand Admiral is calling himself King while they build cities and raid our villages."

Hávarƌr frowned. "The Selkie are an issue that can be dealt with at our leisure. We must first control our own tribes if we hope to deal with outsiders."

It was the old ogre's turn to frown now. "If that is what you think. But I warn you not to forget the Selkie. Send diplomats at least, to see what the Selkie think they are doing, and more importantly what they think of us. From there we can see where we must go."

Hávarƌr nodded. "Very well, father. There we agree." The ogre sat down next to his father and the two spoke for another hour.

The next morning, the ogre lords had once again gathered in Dragonstone to hear what the king had to say as to the matter of the outsiders. They were milling about, speaking quietly with one another when the king entered, surrounded by his entourage. He gazed around the room in all the regal splendor he could manage before he sat.

"The throne has heard your cries for assistance, and we have decided that these claims are indeed a concern. Go to your homes, prepare your levies. This Summer we go to war."

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:44 pm 
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Ostrufar

Smoke from the campfires rose into the sky as Ivar Dragonbane left his tent. Two guards from the Swordhost saluted him as he came out.
"Well?" he asked.

The young woman on the horse saluted. She had short blond hair and looked exhausted, but was determined to complete her duty. "My Lord Dragonsbane."

"Give it to me," he sighs. "I will attend to the will of my father."

"My Lord, the message I bear is not from your father. It is from the Witch King."

The Dragonsbane frowned. "Why the hell didn't he just-never mind." He extended his hand.

She handed him a leather wrapped scroll. He unwrapped it and read it. "Get some rest." He turned to his aids. "Summon my captains. We're going to march."

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:17 am 
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The council was assembled, and all surrounded the High Chieftan. They were, in a sense, not truly there; they were channeling the rulers of many tribes. The demands were multiple, varied, and conflicting.

Wall-Shatterer struck the flat of Manslayer against stone, the ringing sound, complete with the howling screams of the foul beings trapped within, silenced the shouting. "ENOUGH!"

As the silence descended, the massive Uruk folded his arms. "Send two thousand troll infantry and a thousand Wolfriders to our border with the Crusaders. Ones which will NOT start fights. They will be shown we are not mere 'things'." He spoke.

Turning to others, he intones simply. "We are landlocked. We cannot remain so. Consult Lord Undertow, send a few galleys to probe our southwestern border, and the lands beyond. We will claim this path, even if only the waterways and the coast."

_________________
Half-Damned, All Hero.

Tev: You're happy. You're Plotting. You're Evil.
Me: Evil is so inappropriate. I'm ruthless.
Tev: You're turning me on.

I Am Rage. You Will Know My Fury.


Last edited by SirNitram on Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:06 am 
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Upper Conrua Province
City of Hyperolius
Capitol of the Imperium

The city of Hyperolius was a sprawling metropolis, however not in the way one might otherwise think. It was on the banks of the eastern fork of the Conrua river, a city composed of massive Iron Cyprus trees, each with catwalks, and actual buildings constructed around their trunks and branches in massive spiral structures. Below, water ways ferried goods and amphibians from one tree to the other, pulley systems brought up materials and large numbers of people, even while catwalks between trees--constructed using the interwoven branches of the same saved those in the trees the effort of having to do so.

The second part of the city was a sprawling inhabited marsh. Buildings were constructed from wood in the form resembling amazingly large beaver dams.

Around the city was a wall. A massive earthen embankment fronted with a three meter thick crenelated stone wall that rose thirty feet above the ground. The embankment was intended to absorb the shock of impact and lead to the battlements. Anyone coming down that embankment who was not aquatic would be mired in the marsh. The towers in this wall were themselves Iron Cyprus tress, encased until fifteen feet over the wall in stone.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPXZTCep-Ck
In the largest tree in the city, a great cacophony rose rose to a crescendo, and then died down as the Baron who had the floor, Baron Gryllus Crepitans, an Acridian from the western ports began to speak again.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMsoM-NCLas
"The Selkie pirates have violated our territory, raided our shipping, and diverted valuable resources from defending our border with Rome, and the Amatocoya. The Romans have not been a problem for some time, however, we have long known and long feared the day when the Amatocoya will march to war in an attempt to abscond with our rightful territory. Therefore, I propose that we annex their lands. It will provide us with additional resources, which we can divert to reinforce our westrern borders, and we can do it with a single legion and the Auxilla"


He was interrupted when a very large Utricularian--Earl Ranus Blairii who rose, and shouted him down.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B_yrYDLb9Y&NR=1

"That is a waste of time and money, to say nothing of our men's lives! We might be able to take the territory by Autumn but what if we cant? If we fail, or only make partial inroads, our Auxilla cannot stay in those lands over the winter, leaving the Sixth Legion, the only one we can spare from the west, to take the brunt of a wintertime peasant uprising."

With that, once again, the cacophony of calls rose.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:31 am 
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March 1st, 662 Ab Urbe Condita
Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Rome


"And in conclusion, Conscript Fathers, I advise also that Carthage must be destroyed."

A chorus of groans greeted this statement, even from the members of Marcus Aemilius Scaurus' own nebulous faction. Several senators shook their heads and rolled their eyes, which did not stop Scaurus from sitting back down with an eminently satisfied look on his face. Most people believed that half the reason Scaurus persisted with these admonitions on Carthage's destruction was because he perversely enjoyed the groans and sighs of his colleagues, particularly his fellow Optimates.

The senators were already getting up to leave, grouping together for small talk and dinner invitations without bothering to wait for the new senior Consul, Gaius Claudius Pulcher, to dismiss them. This was nothing new. Scaurus' advice to destroy Carthage had for years now been the traditional sign that a senate meeting was concluded. Evidently Gaius Claudius agreed, for he mumbled the required religious formalities and then stood up from his curule chair, walking aside without so much as a glance at his consular colleague, Marcus Perperna. Perperna was reckoned a non-entity by nearly everyone (including his wife, rumor told), a "safe" choice by the electorate, thanks to his distinguished name and lack of ink blots on his political copy-book.

Standing on the side of the Senate, half-hidden by the massive shadow of the statue of Jupiter, Quintus Sertorius did not react with surprise when the Senior Consul approached him. It was at the invitation of the Consul that he was here, after all, for no Extraordinarius, not even the Extraordinarius Maximus, was permitted to set foot in the Senate house without such an invitation. Having been invited here at the request of the Consul, Sertorius could have come armed, but had judged that imprudent, particularly given his standing with the Senate being what it was already. He had however brought his grass crown.

"Quintus!"

The booming, slightly lisping voice could be no-one else's, and Quintus Sertorius was smiling before he turned around. Shuffling slightly, favoring his right leg thanks to his stroke of eight years ago, his black hair now grayed, Gaius Marius was still an imposing figure, and the leering quality of his smile from his semi-paralyzed face only added to his menacing look.

Quintus Sertorius resisted the urge to salute Marius. It would be highly imprudent for the Extraordinarius Maximus to salute anyone, let alone someone as famous and feared as Gaius Marius. Instead he opted for a warm handshake and a slap to the shoulder, a friendly greeting that would come as no surprise. Sertorius had begun his career under Marius after all, and there were persistent rumors among the Optimates that he was still Marius' client, lex cliens extraordinaria be damned.

"Ave, Gaius Marius," said Sertorius, remembering how much Marius had always hated dissimulation. "Are you the reason I was invited here?"

"Me? No," said Marius. "Pulcher wants you for something I believe." He nodded to the senior Consul as the smaller man approached. "I didn't think to see you back in Rome until the Fall."

Extraordinarii could not vote, and thus were exempt from the usual Roman obsession with timing their entire lives around the civic calender. This, however, was not why Marius had spoken.

"Neither had I," said Sertorius, "but there was nothing left to be done in the Westmarch. Nothing that required my attention at least. And I thought it best to attend to the Mysteries in person this year."

Marius nodded, understanding instantly. Sertorius had only become Extraordinarius Maximus last winter when the previous occupant of the post had died suddenly from a terrible ague that had come upon him in less than a week. Sertorius' appointment at the age of 31 had been spoken of as a mistake by much of the Senate, and it was perhaps prudent to conduct oneself in as exemplary a fashion as possible for the next few years.

The Consul, Pulcher, said nothing, waiting for Marius to finish, either from respect or some other purpose. Marius, as usual, cut straight to the tough questions.

"And how is Lucius Cornelius?"

Very correct to call him by his full name, and yet slightly formal for a man who was still technically Marius' brother-in-law. Then again, that was hardly new.

"Sulla is well," said Sertorius. "He sends his regards. When last I saw him he had taken a thousand horsemen north of Caelia to punish the centaur tribes that were raiding the Via Flaminia."

Marius smirked and shook his head, as Pulcher finally chimed in.

"Will Sulla be returning to Rome once the campaign is done?"

"I do not know, Consul," said Sertorius. "He was not forthcoming with his plans."

"Well, there you have it," said Pulcher, suddenly sounding agitated. "He rides off into the sunset with half a legion's worth of cavalry, and we don't even know when he'll be back. How droll."

"He has Pro-praetorian imperium," said Marius with what passed for calm coming from him. "And you know how Lucius Cornelius gets when there's no war for him to fight."

"Hmph," said Pulcher, "I suppose he didn't want you coming with him, then?"

"He asked me to come, actually," said Sertorius, "but I was forced to decline. I sent a two dozen Extraordinarii with him to assist. He said that the campaign shouldn't take more than a week or two."

"Whereupon he'll be riding back to Rome with his head up his horse's arse, no doubt planning to get Scaurus to vote him a Triumph for butchering a handful of centaurs."

"Be fair, Gaius," said Marius, "Scaurus knows a catamite when he sees one. And Sulla is many things, but he has the sense for when to be about."

"When there's lucrative commands to be snaffled," spat Pulcher. "He can't run for consul without a real war under his belt."

"Be that the case or not, he's not going to find a real war fighting raiders in Caelia," said Marius, who was visibly beginning to tire of this talk. "And were I him, I wouldn't absent myself from Rome for long."

That sounded suspiciously like an invitation. "You think there's to be a war then?" asked Sertorius.

"You know better than I," said Marius, which was a lie, but a kind one. "And I believe our esteemed Consul has something to say in that regard."

Pulcher shot Marius a dirty look, which Marius either missed or ignored. "Quintus Sertorius," he said, using that voice of oratory that he used whenever he wished to sound stately, "the Senate has concerns regarding the intentions of some of our more... warlike neighbors. We believe it may be best to extend our efforts at determining the intentions of those around us."

"We have people monitoring all of our neighbors already," said Sertorius.

"One can never be too careful, no?" said Marius knowingly. "Particularly insofar as our more... vulnerable borders are concerned, when war comes - "

"Oh Jupiter, Marius, don't tell me you're giving credence to Sulla's absurdities."

"Sulla is many things, Consul," said Marius through his teeth, "but he is not stupid, and in this we have long been in agreement. Whether we would have one or not, there is a war coming. The only question is when, where, and who fights in it."

"Consul," said Sertorius, sensing the beginning of a long argument and wishing to short cut it, "what would you have us do?"

"We need... a special mission prepared," said Gaius Claudius Pulcher. "One that may prove of great importance should certain theories prove more accurate than we would like."

"What manner of mission is this?" asked Quintus Sertorius.

"One that will give us a modicum of security in all possible conditions," said the Consul with a weary sigh. "Between Drusus and Caepio trying to destroy one another and Sulla returning to Rome, I get the sense we may need all the security we can get..."

*------------------------------------------------------*

March 1st, 662 Ab Urbe Condita
Temple of Janus, Rome


March was still cold in Rome, particularly at night, though Sertorius did not permit himself to shiver as he walked slowly between the twin pyres that burned at the top of the steps that led to the temple of Janus, headquarters of the Extraordinarii.

The temple had once had doors, great carved doors of bronze taken from the ancient city of Veii and fastened to it by King Numa Pompilius. But the historians said that when the Shift occurred, the violence of the magics used tore the doors from their hinges and cast them down into the forum. The place where the doors had landed was now the Temple of Vertumnus. Janus' temple had been left undoored ever since, the wind sweeping in and around the statue of the two-faced God of Beginnings and Endings.

"Pontifex?"

A soft voice, barely a whisper to be heard over the winds, and Sertorius knew suddenly that he was no longer alone. He turned to find the speaker, automatically inclining his head down.

In the shadows cast by the inscribed columns at the corners of the temple complex, there stood a hobbit. Nearly completely obscured by both the hooded cloak he wore and the shadows of the flickering firelight, the Hobbit wore nothing ostentatious, dark clothing of linen dyed olive green unadorned by symbol or ornament. A small belt was clasped about the hobbit's waist to which was attached a pair of what, to Sertorius, would have been daggers or knives. Though Sertorius had exchanged his Toga for a more practical set of clothing, as Extraordinarius Maximus, he had to bear his badges of office: the iron ring inscribed with Greek letters, the carved ivory rod the length of a man's forearm, and the single bracer made of meteoric iron and etched with the image of an eagle bearing a dagger in its talons. To do without these while at the Temple of Janus was to commit a serious religious offense. The hobbit in the shadows, not constrained by the requirements of title, wore no such finery.

"Praetor Peregrinus," said Sertorius, who did not bother to marvel at how the hobbit had materialized without being noticed. Hobbits were simply good at that, and this one more than most. "Thank you for coming."

"You asked for me, Pontifex?" said the hobbit, his tone quiet and properly deferential, but the question, as always, direct. Sertorius had known this Hobbit for nearly a decade now, yet still he felt like the hobbit was sizing him up every time they spoke, as though he and everyone else were just another threat to be considered and measured and cataloged alongside everything else. It was perhaps for the best that the Tempestor did not tend to interact with the Senatorial class.

"I have commands for you," said Sertorius. If this hobbit wanted to act businesslike, then more the better. "We require your skills for a mission to the north."

A mission to the lands of the Amphibians or the Amatocoya was enough to make anyone hesitate, even an Extraordinarius. Yet the hobbit reacted as though Sertorius had told him that the weather tomorrow would be cloudy. This, at least, was no surprise. Stories about this hobbit were, by necessity, somewhat exaggerated. Yet Sertorius had seen this hobbit do things that no man or hobbit should have been able to do and live.

"What do you wish for me to do?" asked the Tempestor quietly.

"There are concerns that our neighbors may be preparing to act in an un-neighborly fashion," said Sertorius. "The Senior Consul has directed me to send our finest men north to ascertain what is being planned. I have a special assignment for you, however. One that will require diplomatic tact as well as skill."

"Does the senior consul know that you are asking me?"

That was not the question Sertorius was expecting. "Our affairs of personnel are our own," he said. "If you are unwilling to - "

"I'm willing," said the Hobbit. "But I'm not a diplomat. And I don't think the Consul had me in mind when he wanted you to send one."

"You are one in the ways that count in this case," said Sertorius. "I can spare a dozen others to accompany you. You can select from anyone available."

The hobbit seemed to consider this for a moment or two. "I... prefer to work alone," he said finally.

"In this case, we prefer a show of slightly more force than one hobbit, however skilled," said Sertorius. "These lands may well be beyond your reputation, and you don't exactly look the part of a Roman warrior."

"If... you say so," said the Hobbit with some reluctance. "Will I be - "

The hobbit froze, froze like a statue, and instantly, Sertorius knew that something was wrong. Without thinking, his hand slid to the Gladius at his side, but the hobbit did not move, waiting in silence before lifting his eyes and giving Sertorius the hand signal for 'being watched'.

There was the almost imperceptible sound of a footfall.

In a movement so fast that even Sertorius could barely follow it, the hobbit was suddenly gone, vanished into darkness like an apparition whose time had been served. Moments later there was a shrill cry, and a thud as something landed on marble, followed by the muffled sounds of someone trying to struggled and failing.

Sertorius drew his sword and raced around the corner of the temple, only to see Tempestor kneeling over what appeared initially to be another hobbit, a dagger in one hand and the other pinning the second hobbit to the ground. It wasn't until Tempestor turned the figure over that Sertorius saw that it wasn't a hobbit at all, but a human boy of seven or eight, dressed in a tunic and sandals with a child's bulla hung round his neck, laying pinned on his back with Tempestor's dagger at his throat.

"Janus' prick," swore Sertorius, putting away his sword. "Get him up."

The boy said nothing, indeed he didn't even spare a glance at Tempestor, despite the dagger, as the hobbit stood up and roughly jerked him to his feet. Roughly the size of the hobbit, the boy made no attempt to escape again, watching Sertorius with a piercing stare that Sertorius swore he had seen before...

Then it came to him. "I know you," said Sertorius, remembering Marius' nephew, who had been often seen in public assisting his uncle following Marius' second stroke. The name took a moment to come to mind. "You're Gaius Julius Caesar."

The boy said nothing, though he did not seem to be remaining dumb out of fear. Only after a moment or two had passed did the child say anything.

"You're Quintus Sertorius," said Gaius Julius Caesar. "My uncle speaks of you sometimes."

"Does he?" asked Sertorius in a tone that indicated that he could not presently care less. "And did he tell you to sneak out to the Temple of Janus and spy on me?"

"I did that myself," said the boy, giving no sign of either remorse or apprehension. "I come here sometimes."

"I've seen him skulking around before," said Tempestor. "Never on the temple itself though. I didn't know he was a Julian."

"Right now he's about to wish he wasn't," said Sertorius. "I could have you crucified, boy. For violating the sanctity of our temple, you might well deserve no less."

"I have violated nothing," said the boy, his voice as even as a pane of glass. "I am a Julius Caesar, descendant of Venus. My presence sanctifies your temple."

Sertorius had to fight down an urge to laugh uproariously. "Does it now? And what if I told you that Janus doesn't give a fig for your illustrious ancestry, boy?"

"Then I'd say you're as ignorant as my Uncle's enemies say you are."

Sertorius blinked, looking from the boy to the hobbit and back. He no longer felt like laughing. "I am the Extraordinarius Maximus, boy," said Sertorius with lethal precision. "I am the consecrated embodiment of the defense of the Republic. I have the right of life and death over Dictators. I don't care if you're the son of Romulus himself, speak to me or any of mine in that manner again, child, and I will have you beaten within an inch of your life and hurled from the Tarpaean Rock."

Sertorius watched the boy's face, saw the words sink in, saw the decision made in his steel-gray eyes. The boy's features softened and he glanced for the first time to the hobbit at his side, before returning his gaze to Sertorius. "I... am sorry," he said at last. "I apologize, Extraordinarius Maximus."

There was nothing disingenuous about the boy's tone, yet it was plain that the child was not afraid, at least not afraid in the way that a child was supposed to be afraid when threatened with rods and death. Still, he seemed at least somewhat chastened. Sertorius was trying to think of what to do next when Tempestor spoke.

"What are you doing here?"

"I heard voices," said the boy. "I wanted to hear what was being said."

"Did you consider that what was being said was not for your ears?" asked Sertorius.

"An extraordinarius does not stop his ears from hearing things that others say," said the boy.

This time Sertorius did laugh. "You are not an extraordinarius."

"No," said the boy, "but I could be."

Sertorius saw Tempestor raise an eyebrow at that. "Really?" he asked, half in jest. "Wouldn't that demean your divine ancestry?"

"I can't be a real extraordinarius, but I can be just as good as one."

"I find that highly unlikely," said Sertorius.

"I do not," said the boy. Nothing in his voice was aggressive, yet it somehow felt like a challenge.

"If you're as good as one of us, how did I catch you?" asked Tempestor.

That one seemed to flumox the boy, at least for a moment. "I... slipped."

"Extraordinarii don't slip," said Tempestor, "not if they want to keep living. You're lucky I didn't kill you."

Of all things, the boy smiled, a knowing, almost impish smile. "You wouldn't have killed me," said the boy. "You're the Tempestor Umbralis. You don't make mistakes. Not like I did."

Not often did Tempestor smile. Sertorius had only seen it happen once or twice, most recently just before a drunken ogre had announced in loud tones all of the terrible things he was about to do to the 'lowly' hobbit who hadn't been sufficiently deferential to him. Yet this remark brought a very slight smile to Tempestor's face. "I try not to," he said.

"Enough," said Sertorius. "Whatever you think of your own capacities, boy, you are not one of us, and will not be for some time, if even you are good enough to."

"I am good enough," said the boy without an instant's hesitation, "but I won't ever be one of you. I will learn to be just as good as any of you though, without dishonoring myself."

"And how exactly is it a dishonor to serve Rome?" asked Sertorius before he could stop himself, still wondering how this conversation had become what it was.

"It is not a dishonor," said the boy matter-of-factly, "but I am Caesar."

This, it seemed, was too much for even the patience of Tempestor. "Your father is Caesar," said the hobbit. "Not you."

Sertorius groaned and shook his head. "Give him to me," he said at last. Tempestor stepped back, and Sertorius seized the child's collar, though the boy made no effort to escape.

"What will you do with him?"

Sertorius smirked. "I should have him flogged publicly," he said, "but I've got a better idea."

"Crucifixion?" asked Tempestor. Sertorius took it to be a joke. So, apparently, did the boy.

"Worse. I know his mother, Aurelia. I'll take him home, wake her and let her decide what to do with our would-be extraordinarius here."

He knew that he had hit upon the right solution when, for the first time this evening, the boy's expression turned to one of genuine fear.

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:14 pm 
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Carthage
First Quarter of the Year


Standing on top of the walls surrounding the Byrsa the whole of Carthage seemed stretched out before you like a colourful carpet; Gleaming white houses, brightly coloured walls and temples, and a swirl of colourful crowds mingling in the large squares. Out by the harbour dozens of ships were coming and going, their richly coloured sails catching the morning breeze.

If you had sharp eyes you could even make out the way the crowd in one of the markets suddenly changed behaviour. It was like sitting in a boat in the shallows and watching schools of fish suddenly change direction, as if commanded by some unseen admiral. Something much like a school of fish, trailing stragglers, passed through the market and up the street.

Hanno, elder Shofet of Carthage knew the cause, there was only one man who caused that sort of reaction: Hannibal. Out in the harbour the stevedores were busy unloading Hannibal's ships, no doubt bringing ashore exotic plunder from the Southlands. Right now his only consolation was that Hannibal had disbanded his army before entering the city proper.

Resting his hands on the battlements Hanno pondered this new situation, frowning slightly, like a player at a game of senet. There too it was not enough to be good, you also had to be lucky, and Hannibal was so damnably lucky.

**** **** **** ****

As he made his triumphant entrance into Carthage Hannibal did his best to impress, and he was dressed accordingly with fine silken robes with gold fringes and a purple cape cast over his shoulders. Like a proper Carthaginian gentleman he had braided his long hair and beard, but to mark his standing as a general he had four gold arm-rings on his right arm. Four rings, four successful campaigns fought for Carthago, from crushing pirate bands to punishing the Southland kings for their impudence in taking up arms against Carthage.

All around him he gathered admiring looks, the town seemed to stop as he passed through it, windows opening and flowers were cast before his feet. All the while his eyes were set on the Byrsa high above, as a pious man the first thing he'd do was to go to the temples of Tanith and Baal Hammon and give thanks for his victory. Still, that didn't stop him from giving a nod towards someone he recognised, or casting one of those glances into the crowd where everyone became convinced that he was looking straight at them.

By his side walked Lord Four Earth the Mayan sorcerer, whose very presence added to the exoticism and presence of Hannibal. So did the many other figures in Hannibal's entourage, from Opunui a giant Southland lord who'd joined the Carthagianians, to the many prominent Carthaginians who wanted to greet him. Indeed the only person who didn't stand out was his unassuming Kuprian secretary Bodtanit, who seemed to watch the whole scene with slightly detached bemusement.

Yes, all the pieces were in place, and once he'd made his sacrifice at the temple of Baal it was time to resign his commission and start a political career...

**** **** **** ****

Carthaginian Senate

The Senate building was murky, lit only by burning braziers and a few windows high up in the walls.

The priests had performed the necessary rites, purifying the Senate assembly, and now the stage was set. The audience was already here, a good one at that, for they were old men from the finest families of Carthage. Now they lined the benches, like spectators as a play, sitting so still that in the dim light they could almost pass for statues. Yet their eyes gleamed as they waited for the first shot in the political battle between Hanno and Hannibal, Magonid and Barcid.

Like some great Assyrian lord Hanno strode onto the floor, his expensive layered robe wrapped around him, the bright colours and gilded edges looking almost subdued in the murk. Yet he moved boldly and confidently, with a certain well practised smoothness as he began to speak, "Surely it is the blessing of Baal that we have been triumphant against the Southlands."

There was a low mumble at this as some of the other senators were amused at how Hanno now had to praise his greatest adversary. Yet he was not fazed as he continued, "Let us be thankful to Tanith and Ba'al who are better than millions for those who believe and worship. Rewards and thanks must be given to the gods and those who stood strong, who stood with us, during our trials."

"Alas, we are still surrounded by enemies, just this day a message reached me that the Selkies have struck one of our merchant ships! The crew carried off for ransom, the cargo taken, and the ship stolen. Families deprived of their loved ones, a merchant of his cargo, and the very Republic of respect. Yes, the respect that Carthage deserves."

"That is not all! For the Acadians are stirring, raising great armies, and summoning mighty heroes to their ranks. Soon might not they too cast envious eyes at Kir Chares? Might they not judge that even their skiffs and rowboats, their tubs and barges might suffice to bring their armies to the islands of the Delta?"

"So too the Swan Lords threaten us, chaotic and dispersed as they may be, who knows what curses they can cast towards our Republic? Or what alliances their city states might strike with other, more aggressive powers?"

"What then of the Batrarchians? Shall we forget the cold blooded lizard people? Ever do they lie to the north, a great power, an empire of note, and who can tell what thoughts and schemes lay within their hearts?"

"Ah, but at least we need not ask the intentions of one state," Hanno stopped, holding his hand up towards the image of Baal and Tanith, "May the Lord and Lady protect us from the wicked schemes, the unrelenting bloodlust, of our greatest threat." Holding out his hands, as if carrying an infant, he called out, "If they had not carried our people in their very hands and delivered us from harm, who knows what would have happened? May the merciful gods protect us from such calamity! Rome! It's very name an evil curse, an empire of the whip and the yoke, breaking men like they were oxen."

"With all these enemies around us I called upon the priest to read the auguries and the Lady has been merciful to us. We may yet find friendship among our neighbours and impress others with our strength, but only if we send forth..." Hanno tested the words in his head, "The scion of our greatest general! It is Hannibal Barca who must be our diplomat to the foreign nations, General Hannibal! Let him travel from the Selkies to Batrarchia, stopping at each great port to impress upon the people there the benefits of our friendship and the dangers of our animosity, and for that he shall add another ring to his already weighed down arm."

"Let us also vote that we shall not send him defenceless, carrying only words, no! Send with him sturdy ships, the best we have, to impress the barbarian. Further!" He paused, noticing that he had the undivided attention of everyone, but stifled his smile, "Further let us vote that our fleet shall be expanded, it is a disgrace for us that it has grown so weak! Let our young men once more serve by the oar, let us give money and hope to those who dream of their own household, by letting them honourably serve their country."

Looking over at Hamilcar Barca, Hanno noticed that the uncle of Hannibal had realised what a poisoned chaliced Hanno offered, what a trap he'd just sprung. Certainly it was bitter for Hanno to yield so to the Barcid policy, but it was worth it to deprive them of their greatest asset.

**** **** **** ****

Barcid Mansion

"You can still stand for election when you return," Hamilcar said, trying to calm the pacing Hannibal, "They will even count it as a campaign."

"Campaign!" Hannibal said, gritting his teeth, "Subduing the Southlands is a campaign! By the time I return in a year or two people will have begun to forget."

"You'll still be Shofet, they will elect you," Hamilcar said.

"Yes, but what will be my chances of getting some real reforms passed by the Senate?" Hannibal asked rhetorically, "Hannibal the Diplomat, bah, a Hannibal the Conqueror can get things passed."

"He agreed to the naval expansion," Hamilcar said, still trying to calm Hannibal, "That strengthens our side, even if he gets some of the credit."

"Hannibal the Diplomat," Hannibal said, as if he hadn't heard Hamilcar, then he walked to the nearby window and rested his palms against the window sill, leaning his head out into the garden, "Hannibal the Diplomat..." After a deep breath, sucking in the scents of the garden he added, "I've been away for too long. I can't believe I didn't see that coming."


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:07 am 
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Helvetican Wall
Gatehouse
Middle Rhinellus Valley

There were a lot of horrible things that could be said about Batrachians. That they did not learn from mistakes and adopt the ways of their enemies when those ways worked was not one of them.

As a result, the Rhinellus river, which marked the border with Rome was one of the most heavily militarized and fortified borders on the planet. Each side had constructed a wall from the sea to the mountains, with forts at regular intervals, and towers spaced between them. It was in a tower over the main gate, through which all diplomatic messages flowed that Hynobius Marmoratus lived, when he was not doing other things.

His bath had gotten cold, and he was old. He hauled himself out and decided it was worth wasting some power on.

He stretched his hands toward the water and began to chant.

"Jag uppmanar min makt, varma vattnet. Jag uppmanar min makt, varma vattnet. Jag uppmanar min makt, varma vattnet!"

With a flash of light, the water was steaming again, and he sank back in, warming his old arthritic bones. He had been alive for... longer than he could remember. Hynobius had stopped counting the summers of his life after two hundred. He had seen the births and deaths of his great great great great granchildren. Or, was that great great great great great great granchildren? In any case, he stopped keeping track of his family after a while too.

A knock came at the door.

"Arch-Magister?" came a small voice on the other side of the thick door.

"Enter"

"Serah, I am relaying a message from the Senate." he said, handing it over to the ancient sorcerer.

He read its runic script, then bid the young Acridian messanger bring him parchment, ink, and a pen. Once that was done, he dutifully transcribed the document into Latin.

(OOC: Havoc, forgive the translation errors that may happen, my latin is really bad,assume for in game purposes that the latin is flawless. English translation included at the bottom)

Quote:

Rogamus agere conventum pluribus subiectis. Consequenter moveri acies a flumine auxilium Pirates Selkie domare. Sunt mutuo metu et quaeremus operam. Accedit ad conticuerunt Amatocoya mutuae in limbo, ut bellum apparare. Quod etsi non simul autem sunt minatur nostrum dixerim. Prudens esset contingens disserere.

Marmoratus



"Go and get a Messanger Goose, boy."

"Yes sir" said the young man deferentially. One does not delay the most powerful sorcerer in the Imperium. He returned a few moments later. Marmoratus attached the message to the Goose, then motioned for the young boy to release it out the window. He did so, and the large bird took flight toward the other side of the river.

"Could do one more thing to help an old man, boy?" Marmoratus said kindly

"Sir?" He answered, as if whether he would perform the request was not in question, only the task.

"Grab my staff and robes from the bench."

"Of course." the little amphibian jumped across the room, grabbed both objects and bounded back, handing the old man his things as he got out of the tub.

"I assume the Auxilla has been called up?"

"I saw them mustering on my way from Hyperolius Magister."

"Good, good. It seems these old bones are once more to be put to work."


Quote:

(English translation of latin)
We request a meeting to discuss several subjects. We shall be moving armies from the river to help tame Selkie Pirates. They are a mutual threat, and we may seek your assistance. Additionally, the Amatocoya have been silent on our mutual border, and may be preparing for war. It may not be soon, but they are a threat to both our Empires. It would be prudent to discuss that contingency.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


Last edited by Comrade Tortoise on Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:29 am 
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Concordia City
Acadia Province


Int he time after the Great Wars were settled, and the Three Peoples brought together by Vosh, it was realized the need for a place of power, so that all might see what was wrought that day. Upon the location of that first meeting, a city was founded, the greatest and most glorious city of the Three People - the Central City of Concordia.

Located in what was the formerly hotly contested lands, renamed Acadia by the great Prophet Vosh, Acadia was constructed by Man, Troll and Dwarf to rival the beauty and majesty of older cities. The entire city was crafted by the most skilled of the Three Races, laid out in perfectly inlaid circles. Many races move through the city, chief amongst them are the Three Peoples, who make their life in the Central Capitol. At the very center of the rings, at the very site where the first Council was convened, stands Horizon, the Council Tower.


Council ChambersHorizon Tower,
Concordia, Acadia Province, First Quarter, Y425 AC (After-Concordia)


"...and Carthage remains our greatest trade asset! Their merchant fleets cross the whole of the coast, expanding further out than our own ships might. Why should we not utilize their own merchants and ships to expand where our own goods might be found?"

Teth'an Stonebind, as High Speaker of the Council, nearly groaned as the mummering which followed the question. If things followed suit...as it had for the past six months, this would lead to...

"Carthage STOLE the Delta Islands from us, possesses them illegally! That is why we should work to expand our own Trade Lines. Let Carthage and it's Merchants see how generous we've been in the past, and how we are not beholden to them for our trade and prosperity! In fact, we should drive the point home by reclaiming what is rightfully OURS! The Delta Islands!"

Teth'an slammed the metal sphere in his hand hard against the ancient stone, igniting sparks which promptly silenced the voices rising in the chamber.

"Enough! We will recess for now. But know this...As long as I sit upon this seat, we will not go into war with Carthage over the Islands. We will reconvene in three hours, where we will discuss expanding our overland trade routes...."

With that, the figures began filing out, a low mumur following in their wake.

_________________
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"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:40 am 
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Dragonstone
Hrolf leaned back in his chair from his session of reading to his younger grandchildren. There was power in literacy, though not the same power as the old Runewise used to say. Power needed to be handled properly, shepherded so it could blossom in the right places. The young would learn how to write themselves, and with that power they would conquer in the name of the Kingdom. Hrolf smiled to himself as the children turned and ran off to work or play. Some grew bored while learning, but enough, just enough, took an interest. He had taught his own children well, apparently. It was a good feeling to have. He leaned back and closed his eyes for a moment to relax.

He was awakened when he felt his shoulder being nudged. "Father." Hrolf opened one eye slowly. Seeing his now eldest son, he frowned slightly. "Ah, I must have drifted off. What did you need, my son?" Hávarƌr shook his head. "We need to discuss the plans. Diplomats should be sent out to Ragnvalder and the Selkie."

Hrolf chuckled. "Yes, yes. I have already considered the problem. Here." He rooted around in the large pile of papers that surrounded him until he found the sheet he was looking for. "My suggestions."

Hávarƌr took the sheet and looked it over carefully. "Agni Kolrson? Father surely you must be joking."

Hrolf simply smiled. "My joking days are far behind me my boy. I will explain everything in time. Keep reading."

Hávarƌr did so, reading a few more names out loud, obviously with some confusion. "Agni Kolrson will be sent as the diplomat to Ragnvalder? Father, why not save time and send Jórunnr? You'll get the same result sooner."

Hrolf smiled patiently. "Because with Agni I will get the reaction I want, exactly when I want it."

"And Steinn Sindrisson to the Selkie? The man's a prime example of an Angle. He speaks in riddles, when he deigns to speak at all. I do not know him well, I do not trust him."

Hrolf coughed some, deep with a hint of phlegm in it. "Steinn is known to me. He is loyal, and I want him sent to the Selkie because I know how things will go."

Hávarƌr sighed and sat down, clearly exasperated with his father. "Then explain, Raveneye, your wisdom."

Hrolf laughed. "With pleasure."

The Broken Keep
The Broken Keep was an old fortress, built long ago and maintained by enemies of the Russo. Built of stone, it had once been incredibly more impressive and terrifying, until the Russo had decided they had enough of their neighbor and tore down the walls and had burned the keep to the ground. The rebuilding efforts had established much of the old glory, but it was not the keep it had once been. A fact that Jórunnr Skárridottir now planned to exploit. Silent as the night, she and her loyal crew sat in the cover of trees, their white cloaks shielding them from the last vestiges of winter and from prying eyes as they got closer.

When they got to the wall, Jórunnr reached under her cloak and pulled out a grappling hook as a few more of her crew did as well. As one, they tossed the lines up, and many of them found hooking points. After a few careful tugs, they were on their way up. The wall was scaled quickly and silently, and once over the edge the cloaks were dropped back over the edge. The cover would do them little good now. They kept to the shadows as they moved. One unfortunate guard had the ill fortune to see them, but his throat was slit by Snorri before he could call out a warning. Tryggr unloaded his bundle of kindling next to one of the wooden huts and grabbed a nearby torch. Stuffing the torch into the kindling, the group moved on to their main objective.

The throne room was quiet this time of night. With a few warriors and their women of the night passed out in cots or on the floor. Believing themselves safe. They would see how safe they were after their lord awoke to this. Jórunnr stepped carefully past the sleeping ogres and the occasional large dog. Smiling to herself, she reached the throne and saw her target. A beautifully crafted and bejeweled drinking cup. The envy of the tribes. Too long in the hands of the Broken Keep. With a deft hand, Jórunnr picked up the cup and quickly made her way back out, just as the fire was beginning to catch the other hut.

Meeting with the rest of her crew at the gates, she saw two more dead ogres, the blood from their slit throats still pouring out into the thin layer of snow. The rest of her men had gathered what valuables they could as well, and each had a bulging sack filled with gold and silver. As shouts of alarm began to cry out, Jórunnr laughed and opened the main doors of the hall, running out into the coming dawn with her stolen goods and her crew.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:52 pm 
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NorthWest Selkie Fleet

On the heavy Cog, Darkeyes, things had taken a turn for the worse for the Ogre agent.

The Ogre had been harshly whipped and a pair of rogue Ogres, including the one who had ratted out the spy. Grand Admiral Trawn looked down upon the captured spy.

"Arrgggghh," he spat.

"Ye came on my ship, sign my articles and take the pledge. Ye eat our food and sleep in the berths and you do this to us?" The gathered crew snarled in response. The ogre lifted his bloodied head and weakly spat.

"Bah! Boys, to the prow with em!" The Grand Admiral ordered. The Ogre was dragged by the shrieking crew to the prow and chained in place.

"Damn Ogres, they need a lesson."

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:56 am 
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There was still snow on the ground, the winter's grip on this place not yet loose, but Tixtucupiya did not particularly care. Rather, he relaxed in the shadow of a tree, which was to say he was practically invisible to those without stranger senses than simple vision. In a place like this, where the trees grew thick and the shadows long, he was the sort of thing that mothers warned their children about.

To a certain extent the reason he was ignoring the crow hanging on the branch above him was simple pride. He was the unseeable thing that lurked in the shadows, and even if he was really more lounging in the shadows at the moment, he felt his skills deserved more respect than the crow was giving him. Of course, if the damn bird was perched over his rest point and looking at him that meant that it was sent by Hamatallya and thus did have the supernatural senses required to track him.

Grumbling, Tixtucupiya sat up and glared at the animal before accepting its message. Musing over the information thus given, he carefully formulated his response before giving it to the crow. His scouting mission in this region was done and it was time to move on to more hostile territory. The crow continued to stare at him impassively though.

Ah, right, the creature was probably looking for a snack before it left. Slinking through the shadows, he grabbed one of the inhuman corpses scattered about in the snow, a raiding party or war band or whatever that had the misfortune of encountering him. Despite the blatant unfairness of 20:1 odds, Tixtucupiya had taken no pity on them. And now, with one of their eyeballs removed, a bit of optic nerve still dangling from one end, he offered it up for the bird. Greedily and happily the crow flew over and plucked the treat from his fingers before flying off.

Flicking the unclean blood of the inhuman contemptuously from his fingers, Tixtucupiya oriented himself without looking at the sky and then began to head to the south-east, his passage invisible and trackless. It was time to stop lazing about. He had things to kill.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 6:06 pm 
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Mustering Fields
Lower Rhinellus River Basin

The Sixth Legion was in battle formation, a checkerboard pattern to permit maximum flexibility. Each legion had twelve cohorts. Both cohorts of Zweihander on the right, and then alternating cohorts of Halberdiers and Line Swords--starting with Halberdiers--in the first rank, and Line Swords in the second.

This however was not how they were arranged. This was an opposed drill. Half the Legion was lined up opposite eachother and were engaged in mock combat using double weight wooden weapons. The length of the Halberds allowed three rows to fight at once, the first directly, and the second with their halberds used overhead, and the third, thrusting through the first two ranks to keep opposing swordsmen from closing very easily.

The swordsmen fought in much the same ways as roman legions, using their shields to bar their opponent, and bludgeon them--the swords however were longer. They were double edged, but had a diamond cross section which made them primarily thrusting swords--perfect for piercing armor--and the superior reach was useful against the Gladius used by the Roman legions.

The longbows on the other hand were arranged in a different area of the mustering field. Each cohort rained arrows on a target area at different ranges and across artificially constructed terrain features.

The feudal levies were coming in from the surrounding regions, and checking in with their Centurions.

A hawk flew overhead and landed next to the general, Baron Gratiosa Phylomedusae, a small Acridian wearing a full set of plate armor, and wearing a longsword and carrying a shield with his family crest--a gold serpent rampant on black. He gingerly took the message from the hawk and read it. He looked up at his Utricularian second--Ser Scaphiopus Spea--and spoke

"As soon as the Auxilla are assembled, we march."

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
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The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:25 am 
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Vol'jan watched from the shadows as the ministers and Guild Representatives filed out of the Council Chambers. He had been summoned during the recess of the Council by the High Speaker - a not uncommon occurance for the Trollish Hero.

Soon, only the Circle was left, those six who lead the Nation in all it's affairs. Vol'jan stepped into the light before the Six, and dropped to a knee, in ceremony, before rising once more.

"You wished to speak with me, Honored Ones," the Troll said in his thick accented way.

The Dwarf High Speaker stepped forward, laying a hand on the taller Troll's arm, and smiled amicably. "Vol'jan, how good of you to come so promptly."

Teth'an's smile and greeting were honest, ever since Teth'an had claimed the seat of High Speaker, Vol'jan - already a hero amoungst the people - had been a good and loyal friend, as well as deeply trusted.

"Vol'jan, we have need of your skills. There is a issue in the West. The Selkie Pirates have been raiding our coastal holdings, as well as our ships at see. I would like you to go and see if you might speak with the Pirate Lords, see if we can reach some form of accord with them....and if not...well..."

The Troll inclined his head, "Would be mah pleasure, Teth'an. When you wanting me to leave?"

"The sooner, the better, old friend."

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"Then again, Detective....how often have you dreamed of hearing your father's voice once more? Of feeling your mother's touch?" - Ra's Al Ghul
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:09 pm 
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Nine ships waited in the shadow of the dragon. Tied to the moors at the dock of the city that had built up around the hall of Dragonstone. Hávarƌr was there to see them off. Agni Kolrson had left earlier in the morning, six of these ships would carry Steinn Sindrisson to the Selkie in the NorthWest. The other three would sail Dagr Bjornson to Irovar lands, to help flesh out their trade relations and seek to better relations between these two kingdoms, one old and the other still young.

As Hávarƌr watched the men board their boats, he noticed that Dagr looked more nervous about the trip than Steinn did. Shaking his head he sighed. There was little for it. Steinn was truly something else in how difficult it was to get a reaction out of him. Hávarƌr continued to watch as the ships finally untied and made their way out into the open water to begin their journeys, then turned and headed back into the hall, many parts of which were more like a castle now, than the halls of the old days. He had grown up knowing only this castle though, many of the younger generation only knew the world that his father had built. Many who knew the old ways were dead, and he could not deny that he felt some sadness at that fact.

Back inside, Hávarƌr sat down in his throne as his surviving brother, Ivarr, moved towards him. He smiled and nodded. "The diplomats are off. Here's hoping they can actually do what they are supposed to." His brother nodded, having only been told some of the plan.

"While you were gone, father called me. He said he has received reports that worry him involving the Jarnflgot." The Iron River, it was the river controlled by Summer Hall, and connected them primarily to the Amotocoya. Hávarƌr raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

Ivarr continued. "With the Amotocoya and Rome raising their levies, father felt it prudent to increase our naval presence along the river." Hávarƌr frowned at that. What was the old man thinking that he hadn't told him. He would have to speak to his father about this later. "Very well, I will determine how many ships we should have on patrol and the orders will be sent out."

Summary:
Diplomats have been sent to the NorthWest Selkie, The First Hall, and the Kingdom of Irovar.
Ogre naval operations along the Iron River have been increased.

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Last edited by Charon on Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:18 pm 
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There was no greater fortress in Irovar, and perhaps the world, than Carn Duran. Tall walls, towers topped with deadly engines, fortified baileys, and defensive wards wrapped the fortress itself and an nearly impenetrable shell. The fortress itself was built to a scale that dwarfed most castles and the stonework was superb.

Its creation had not been a minor undertaking. Two generations had passed before it had been finished, even with a small of prisoner of war laborers, the aid of the engineering arts of the Witch King, and inhuman power of scores of Jotun masons and workers. Nothing like it had ever been built in Irovar. Certainly fortifications were nothing new, but they mostly consisted of simple walled keeps and fortified villages that could repel raiders or a moderate band of unsophisticated enemies.

Below the fortress sprawled the city, which shared a name with the fortress. It was not the equal of Rome or Carthage, but even a denizen of one of those places would acknowledge Carn Duran was worthy of the title. The city was well planned and protected by formidable walls as well as being blessed by sewers that reduced both stench and disease. It stretched from the hill tops down to the river banks, where the docks hummed with activity. Most sea going vessels could reach this far up the Jorgundar River to bring goods from around the world in exchange for the timber, amber, furs, leather, ivory, wool, and woven goods Irovar. Steel, always steel, remained one of the most sought after commodities. Not only for its inhabitants' fierceness was Irovar called the Land of Iron.

There were several coastal towns that also saw their share of trade, but they lacked the city's shear number and wealth of traders and almost importantly, facilities as well suited to sea going ogres. Carn Duran had played host to Jotuns since its inception and a bed sized for a Jotun would suit an ogre just fine.

It was one of his finest creations, the Witch King thought as he looked down upon his city. The sound of footsteps caused the Witch King to turn away from the balcony and back to the room. A young messenger waited for him, escorted by a soldier of the Black Guard. She was tall, almost coming up to the Witch King's shoulder, and resolute. Her strength of body and spirit were admirable. She did not quail beneath his gaze or before his presence.

"Dread Majesty," she said and bowed.

"Speak," he commanded.

"Lord Ivar has broken camp with his army, as you have directed. He intends to secure territory in the form of walled camps by felling local timber or Roman style field camps as he marches into the unclaimed lands. These camps can then be used as trading and supply posts." Trading, among other things, all the civilized goods the tribesmen and creatures could not make for themselves, including fine Irovar steel. Steel that would require attractive seeming military service with chances of plunder in order to acquire in serious quantity. She held out a scroll. "There are more details in here, but he commanded that I give you a verbal summary."

Which meant that she had impressed Ivar in some way and he was rewarding her by bring her to his attention. Being a messenger wasn't the safest of occupations. Irovar was settling down under the Witch King's rule, but the poet's claim that a naked virgin could ride a white horse with a bag of gold from one end of Irovar to another without fear of molestation was pure fantasy. For one thing it was too damn cold.

"Your name?" the Witch King asked.

"Ayva Jorasdotter."

He turned to the Guardsman. "Find her quarters in the fortress. You are dismissed." But not forgotten.

Summary: Carn Duran is awesome. Traders going with Dragonsbane's army and recruitment of the locals is a priority.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:58 pm 
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The great armies of the Amatocoya were gathering. From one end of the nation to the other, messengers brought news of the coming mobilization, gathering up the great levies of warriors. While they rarely did so like this, when the Amatocoya went to war they did so in great numbers, easily a hundred thousand fighting men for each attack wing with another hundred thousand remaining in their mountain fortresses to defend the homeland. And behind each army there was easily another hundred thousand souls in the baggage trains to keep them fed, equipped, and entertained. The movements of such hordes were impossible to keep concealed, but the speed with which men and supplies could move within their territory was rivaled only by the Romans. For all the other things they thought about them, the Amatocoya admitted that they knew how to build roads, and some elements of their designs had been incorporated into their own extensive and excellently maintained transport network.

Of course, with so many men gathering and such efficient roads, the fastest thing to travel was rumour.

"I hear we're gathering for a big push against the Frogs in the south east."

"Yeah, well I heard that the Romans are planning to make a move against the Cousin Tribes again and old Hamatallya had a prophecy that if we don't stop them a child that will be our salvation will never be born."

"Where the hell did you hear that? That's almost as crazy as the story about the ogres offering us a ton of gold if we marched through the northern forests to attack the pirates for them."

"You have to admit that something funny is going on up north..."

"More likely we're going to seize that river that leads to the ogres than march through the northern forests."

"Yeah, well, even if the story about the prophecy is false, I bet we march on the Romans anyway."

"We're not really positioned for that..."

"We're just the levies, those with sorcery are still in the fortresses garrisoning the southern river, and they deploy fast. They're in the perfect position to deploy against the Romans."

"Or the Frogs."

"Or the fucking Frogs, true."

"What about the rumours of the armies up north?"

"Rumours. We're going against the Frogs, I tell you."

"Romans, its totally got to be the Romans. I hear their gods don't grant them magic so they'll be easy pickings, and they've got the mines and smiths to make good quality iron. We roll over those bastards and we'll have everything we need to kill every last fucking Frog."

"If there is stuff up north, the lords are probably massing troops away from spies then."

"If they were doing that you would think they would control the rumours better."

"Ha! Not even sorcery can stop the women from flapping their gums about where their men have gone," one of the men in the tavern stated unironically, eliciting an equally unironic laugh from the mob of inebriated men enjoying their beers.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:20 pm 
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The New Territories

Ivar Dragonsbane watched with satisfaction as his men felled wood for the palisade. Their stay here would be short, but they would leave a fortified post behind that was within easy travel of Ostrufar. The local tribes were even worse at siegecraft than his ancestors, even if they could get it together for a massed assault, and if they decided to look for a fight Ivar was more than prepared to give it to them. That was half the reason the Witch King had sent him.

The other half was that the locals new him by reputation if nothing else. He was a man a warrior could serve under without losing face and a chief could treat with without seeming to be soft. He could command these wildmen and make it stick.

It was about damn time too. Three fucking years before this expedition was approved. Land rich for the taking. Maybe those over civilized city boys were getting too damn strong, comfortable in their trade and forgetting what had made Irovar. Blood, blood and steel and sorcery and a warrior's iron determination to get things done. This was a land full of half assed herders and raiders and plenty of them would burn a border village if they could just for spite. It was past time to show them the iron and good thing it was happening before Ivar turned into an old man.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:51 am 
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Ogre Islands

On a crudely made sea side tarven the Grand Admiral and his captains met. Around a grandly made table, looted from an Acadian trade ship right under the nose of a rival fleet they sprawled chugging Ogre made mead from roman made cups and devouring food stolen from raids on coastal villages. The loot of a thousand raids were spread out around them the finery glittering among the refuse of barbarous living. A young Selkie boy, dripping wet and barefoot came rushing in to whisper to a Captain. The Captain nodded and handed the boy a coin.

"Admiral, the Ogres be telling us they're sending an emissary." Reported the smooth faced Captain.

"Yar, of course, of course. Send a silk shirted messenger boy to smooth our ruffled fur and tuck us in. Arrrggg, the Ogres would be good pirates. But I am no drooling babe to be taken in by a pack of overgrown monkeys! Rally the men and set the fleet to sail. I'll met their ambassador but on the deck of me own ship with the rolling waves about us!" The Admiral said. The Captains cheered and leapt up slamming Roman cups together and emptying them before rushing out to gather the men and set sail.

Barbarian lands south of Ostrufar

A trio of men crouched in the brush watching the fortress rise quickly. It was a worrisome sight, the followers of the Witch King had come south and they weren't visiting. The various tribes had learned bitter lessons about fighting the Witch King's troops. They might call them Sorcerer Slaves and Thralls but they also had to bitterly admit that those slaves and thralls were hard fighters and not soft city men.

"Ivar... He is a man. He would honor warriors who took his salt." One muttered.

"Are we babes to go crawling to the first man in iron to show up. This is our land! Not the Witch King's! The Sorcerer isn't even a man. No women whelped that one. Let those slaves to the pale spirit go crawling back to their master in his dark tower." Snarled another one.

"Easier said then done." replied the first. The last one was the oldest, a full 30 winters he had seen come and gone. His hair was going gray, he had fought men, beasts, wolf brothers and centaurs. He spoke last.

"We should send word south. He Who Burns Men may wish to know this. Let the Burner and the Pale Spirit fight it out if they will. When Sorcerers fight, men should stay out of the way." He said quietly. The other two looked back at him and at each other before grimly nodding. The Witch King or the Man Burner. It would be best to let them knife it out amongst themselves.

North of Amatocoya

Araios crouched on the ground his hand gliding over the ravaged remains of the dead Spirtian. The young male had been torn up fairly bad. His left hand held up his spear, his shield lay on the ground. His patrol of 20 was around him watching all the approached. He read the tracks and signs of the battle. They carried large round shields, helmets and spears. They wore green and brown cloaks and wielded 7ft spears.

"Ephor, was it a beast or men?" Asked on of the younger of his unit.

"Nay, it was one man. He attacked from ambush and killed them all in moments. This is beyond the strength of the tribes here, a new power is moving in these lands." He announced firmly.

"Frogs, Ephor?" Asked another one. He shook his helmeted head.

"No, young one. The Frogs would not be able to do this outside of their swamp. Plus the footprints are of a human. We fall back to the woods, move quickly keep your eyes open. Something fell in man shape hunts today." He said his eyes sweeping the shadows.

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A force of Amphibians, a cohort in strength or so, drilled relentlessly through the open fields, back and forth, back and forth, individual training units, Centurions perhaps, attempting to whip them all into some semblance of order. None of the soldiers appeared to take any notice of the small caravan of wagons corralled near the edge of the clearing, upon which a dozen human men were sitting or leaning, watching the proceedings in silence. Dressed in a variety of basic civilian clothing, the men watched with practiced eyes as the frog-men drilled and drilled back and forth, practicing with shield and sword and halberd.

One of them finally ventured a comment in Latin.

"It's like watching trained animals."

He did not sound amused.

Nods and grumbles of assent came from the other men watching the training operation. The language that the training masters were using was alien and inhuman, but the purpose of it was obvious. Every one of the men present had heard much the same shouted at them by training Centurions back in Rome.

"Shouldn't we be sending word back to the Legions?" asked the youngest, a boy barely 18, who kept fingering at the hilt of his gladius.

"The Praetor has it," said another without looking up. "He'll want an accurate count first."

The young one shook his head and gripped the hilt of his sword. "Where is he then?"

"Getting the count," said the first. "He'll trust none but his own eyes."

"If he's not stealing mushrooms from the nearest herb garden," muttered the young one. "Should we not act ourselves?"

A chorus of hearty laughs greeted this statement. One of the men standing before the caravan turned around, stroking his beard stoked with gray and black. "If it's mushrooms that the Tempestor is stealing," he said, "then you'd best pray to your Gods he doesn't ask you to steal them too. This is no dirt-farming hobbit of Suzatis, boy."

"He's but a hobbit," said the other, self-consciously. "Hobbits do not have the moral fibre of true Romans."

More laughter, derisive and raucous. "And what ponce of a sophist told you that, I wonder?" asked the older man. "Some lily-bred arse-licker who's never been further from Rome than the catamite way? Like to not he's behind you right now, boy, I'd check my talk were I you."

"I'm an Extraordinarius," said the boy, looking very put out. "Just as you and he."

"No," said the man, "not like he. Moral fibre I can't speak to, boy, but I saw the Praetor kill a charging centaur dead with a thrown rock. I was at Naupactus when he boarded a Selkie Wizard-Admiral's ship alone. By the time he was done, I thought the ship itself was bleeding from the gunwales. Moral fibre or not, he hears that talk, and you'll disappear forever in these Gods-forsaken swamps."

"What talk?"

Half the extraordinarii jumped, the other half flinched, and the young boaster turned to find a small hobbit standing right behind him, where none had previously stood. The hobbit wore a jerkin, doublet, and long trousers, all forest green, all somewhat lighter than his hooded cloak, worn with the hood up, which stretched down almost to the ground. His belt of unadorned leather was stuck with a pair of large daggers, almost miniature gladii, which for a hobbit would serve no doubt as the real thing. No ostentation, no badge of office, nor ornament did he wear besides these things, indeed he seemed to look less, in both size and importance, than any of the men present. Yet not one of the caravaneers so much as glanced away from him.

"Nothing, sir," said the older man. "Just idle talk."

"I see," said the hobbit. "Have they - "

"No change, Praetor," said the man. "If the state of their training is anything to go by, they'll be at this a week."

The hobbit walked around the wagons to the front, and stood watching the maneuvering Amphibians for a time, quietly.

"You think... you think they're bound Romeward, sir?"

"Maybe," said the hobbit. "There's a dozen more groups this size scattered around the county. Could be more."

"Shouldn't we... shouldn't we warn the legions then?"

"I already sent word back," said the hobbit. "We've got other business."

Nobody bothered to ask how he had sent word back. Likely enough, he had run back to the border himself. Likely enough he had teleported. Nobody was entirely certain what the limits of this hobbit's skill were, after all.

As the caravan was packed up, the hobbit stood watching, listening to the sounds of the centurions as they shouted at the raw levies. Only after a few minutes did one of the men approach the hobbit and stop some paces behind.

"Ungainly-looking things, aren't they, sir?" said the man.

"They're too big to make proper legionaries," said the hobbit. "But not too big to make a mess of a legion."

"It turns my blood to watch them parading around like Romans."

"We taught them a great deal in the War," said the hobbit. "They're trying to harden it into permanence. They even name their armies and officers in Latin."

"Think it'll work?"

The hobbit considered it for a moment. "Not completely," he said, "but then, I suppose it doesn't have to, does it."

"They can march all they like. They'll never be the equal of a real legion."

"I don't plan to find out," said the Praetor Peregrinus."

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Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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From a message to the Amphibians, sent by Lucius Licinius Lucullus, Tribunus Militium and Legate of the Roman Eighth Legion:

Quote:
We will meet you midriver on the River Rhennus near the fortress of Arx Amphibiani. We will anchor a diplomatic barge in the center of the river, and await your delegation there.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:48 pm 
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Dragonstone
It was a rare appearance by both the king and his father to the hall of the Runewise, and many subjects were in attendance to see the results of the latest prophecy as well. Hávarƌr stood tall and proud beside his father. He was slightly tall for an ogre, which only served to help his commanding presence. His father on the other hand seemed to have trouble with standing, and his many years made him stoop shouldered. A fact that made him seem even shorter than he really was. He wore a cloak over his body, as he so often did whenever he made his rare public appearance. It was a cloak that had earned him the moniker "The Grey Wanderer" among some of the common ogres. He leaned heavily on a thick, dark, wooden staff, refusing to show the weakness of age by relying on another.

The Runewise paid little attention to all of this. They were intent upon their own duties. The bonfire had grown to an immense heat, enough so that even in the cold, the men and women had stripped down, revealing their dark painted skin which glistened faintly orange in the heat of the fire. They called out to the gods for enlightenment as the runecarved rhino bone cooked in the center of the massive heat. The animal had been slaughtered, it's entrails used to appease the magic. Now they used the bones to call upon the words to tell them of the things to come.

Hrolf began to cough so badly that he almost lost his footing and it was only the quick action of one of his grandchildren around him that kept the old man from falling over. Steeling himself, Hrolf stood taller than before. He could not show weakness. Not now.

Suddenly, a loud crack filled the room and all attention was drawn immediately to the fire as the Runewise chanted even louder now. Another crack was heard after that, followed by a rippling explosion as the bone shattered into a hundred pieces. Some of the common ogres ducked to avoid the flying debris, some who were too close received long shards of bone in their skin.

The room erupted into a cheer as Hrolf carefully picked his cloak clean of the debris. The Runewise got to work immediately, reading the runes that survived and studying where each piece fell. Such a grand affair would take the Runewise hours to properly read, and perhaps another day after that to come to a conclusion on. But after that, the way would be shown.

Already, many of the common ogres were making their way out, and it wasn't long after that Hrolf made his way out as well, his face a mask as to his own emotions on the prophecy, and who may need to bribed to make certain it was a good one.

The Moaning Stones
It was the most dangerous piece of coastline within 1000 kilometers. The combination of jagged rocks, treacherous winds, the wrecks of a thousand ships, and the dark creatures that lived there. The Sea's Bounty was therefore the only ship to be seen as it worked against the gales and the rocks to come to one of the few safe spots in the danger. At her stern stood a tall ogre who carried an ornately crafted and dangerous looking spear in one hand.

"Row you whoresons! Tyr, to port! Port damn you!." The ogre tried valiently to follow his captain's demands as he shoved on the rudder and finally managed to follow his captain's command. The ship scraped along a rock formation that was jutting out of the sea as the captain. The longship rowed on through the storm at the commands of her captain and after several more harrowing minutes they finally reached the spot they had been looking for. The Moaning Stones had claimed many lives over the years, but the Waronsons had finally learned her secrets, and while many would steer away from this death trap, the Drowned would often head into them, and rumors abounded as to what treasures or dark secrets they kept hidden in the vaults they had no doubt built there.

Stepping off the boat on the makeshift dock that had been built to receive ships, Njörƌr smiled at the small outcropping that held supplies. Deeper inside the caves that criss-crossed this portion of the island were the catacombs of the old kings of the Deeps and the treasures they had taken with them. Something else was hidden away in this inhospitable landscape though. The thing that had taught the Waronsons the secret paths so long ago. Njörƌr stuck Gungnir into the water and tapped it against the stone pillar that stood jutting almost out of the water. A minute later, the water began to surge even more and a keening wale filled the air. The Avatar broke the surface of the water, an enormous creature, covered in thick scales and with long teeth, the creature was the terror of the Western seas, ruler of the waters around the islands the ogres had inhabited.

Njörƌr smiled at the beast as it turned its head to look at him. "It is time to prove our worth again, old friend." Though the creature said no words, the ogre seemed to hear something. "Aye. But there are some that need reminding that these are your islands. What say we teach them that lesson again?" At this, the creature let out a mighty roar of challenge as Njörƌr grinned fiercely.

Rome
Nanna Hrolfdottir, the fifth child of Hrolf Raveneye, second daughter, was in a fury. Waving about her arms that were covered in the finest of silks she marched around her decidedly Roman looking home as human servants scattered in her wake. A bowl of grapes was overturned, spilling the purple fruit across the floor as sandled feet crushed them into the paved floor.

"What do you mean you do not know where my child is?!" She screamed at one of the servants.

The servant cowered before her. "Ah, Mistress Nomina. Lucius is an adult now. We did not think-"

"Of course you did not think! You never think! He is not an adult, no matter what that fool boy tells you! He has only seen 16 winters." The ogress swung an arm at the servant, knocking him to the ground. "How many more years does an ogre take to become an adult, slave? How many!"

"Four." Called out a strong voice from behind and Nanna quickly turned to look, her fury fading to confusion, then recognition, and finally peace. Standing in the doorway was apparently an enormously tall human, towering at 7 feet, his skin was an odd greyish color, and he clearly had many of the finer features of his race. The man stepped forward, his blue eyes blazing. "But I am no more ogre than I am human, mother. I am old enough to make my own decisions."

His mother did not seem to take this response in stride and he quickly continued before her tirade could continue again. "If you must know, I was out with friends. Studying."

Nanna narrowed her eyes. "Studying what, Lucius Nominus Sesquivir?" Her own blue eyes were icy with discontent and mistrust.

Under that gaze, Lucius' tall form cringed some, especially since as tall as he was, he was still a good foot and a half shorter than his mother. Though even if she had been 3 feet shorter than him, he still would have cowered under that glare. "I was learning of war, from Gaius."

"Gaius again?" The look on Nanna's face showed she was not entirely convinced by this explanation. "Your cousin is nothing but trouble and too clever by half. You are to stay here now. We are expecting visitors this afternoon and I will not have the evening ruined by your deciding to disappear once again. You come from a proud family, Lucius. And as such many things are expected of you." The talking seemed to calm Nanna down, talking got her in control of the situation again. "Go change and prepare for supper now."

Lucius demurely bowed his head to his mother and shuffled off. His youthful enthusiasm utterly crushed under the stern grip of motherhood. But like all boys, he would soon enough be up to mischief again.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:28 pm 
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Carthage Harbour
First Quarter of the Year


The military harbour was busy as an anthill, burly stevedores in their loincloths worked hard loading bales and amphorae onto the huge dodecaremes. Meanwhile the massive cranes on the round central island were busy lifting the massive masts into place. It was a marvel to behold as each mast was bigger than even the largest tree trunk, made as they were from a dozen pieces of lumber cunningly fitted together. The sound of gently creaking wood mixed with that of groaning oxen and the chants of the work-gangs.

Hannibal was very much at home here, to his trained eye the apparent chaos revealed a strict and industrious order. Here every man was a citizen, for Carthage would have no slaves working in or for its navy. Walking through the crowds he'd occasionally stop to greet a particularly important official, such as Omer the Dwarf.

"Peace be upon you man of ships," Hannibal greeted him affably, holding out his hands.

Despite his fine blue robes Omer looked dishevelled and tired, the braids in his hair and beard were slipping apart and there were black rings under his eyes. Hearing a voice he spun around, eyed glaring for a moment, "And ..." then he saw who it was, and extended his own hands to clasp Hannibal's, "Blessings upon you General."

"How goes the work?" Hannibal asked, looking out at a nearby dodecareme, where the second mast was currently being installed.

"It goes well, though with preparing the fleet for war and suddenly being told to start building again," Omer took a deep breath, "May the rock preserve me, but it's hard. I'm short of men and half the people they send me wouldn't know the difference between a dovetail joint and a dockside joint!"

"There I must correct you," Hannibal said, his eyes gleaming a little as he added, "I'm sure their very familiar with the latter."

"Hah!" Omer let out a laugh, then shook his head a little, "Too true, too true."

"How is the foreman Bodmilquert? Or his two assistants Abdalbaal and Bodtanit?" Hannibal asked. It was partly a show for the gallery, the men always liked to hear that the Great General Hannibal remembered their names and was interested in even the least of them.

"As well as can be expected, but they cut off Abdalbaals legs," Omer said, then shook his head before he went on, "Poor fellow."

"I shall send a donation to your pension fund," Hannibal announced, squeezing Omer's hands a bit, "The gods be my witness that the Barcas don't stand idly by while the working citizen suffers!"

After a few more polite phrases Hannibal extracted himself and continued his inspection of the harbour. It was truly a marvel of the world, an enormous enclosed harbour where even the largest ships could be dragged ashore and stored in huge overbuilt slipways. One of the largest ships, the Lady Astarte, was already out to see and ready for a test-cruise. Looking up at it he couldn't help but admire the clean lines, the bright colours, and even the two large eyes painted to the prow. The two heavy catapult emplacements were covered up with tarp right now, which somehow added to the menace of the ship.

While Hannibal stood there his secretary Bodtanit quietly moved alongside him, whispering, "Still campaigning My Lord?"

"Of course," Hannibal answered in a normal voice, "When I come back I'll be Shofet," turning around he rested against the railing before adding, "And let Hanno hear that."

**** **** **** ****

Aboard the Lady Astarte
The Inner Sea, West of Carthage


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ7RD7ebZUA

Even though Hannibal had the Admiral's quarters they were still so cramped that his personal staff were literally rubbing shoulders as they squeezed in around the central table. The tiny porthole was open, letting in some light, but they still had to light several oil lamps. Stretched out on the cedar wood table was a huun paper map of the Inner Sea. The various ports and nations were drawn in with coloured inks, and elaborate drawings showed the countless dangers that lurked along the coast.

"Here we are," Hannibal said and placed a small ivory ship onto the map, "There they are," he added and placed a small jade token on the selkie coast, "And we are obliged to wage peace on them."

"I'm not sure if I'm the best man for this task," Lord Four Earth said, a look of worry in his eyes, "The Maya states were for the longest time a de facto Swan Lord state. They might object to a shape-shifting mage lord."

"We'll play that by ear," Hannibal interjected, "But if you have worries about things like that you have to tell me. We have to be ready for what might come. Bodtanit, tell us what we already know."

"Yes My Lord," Bodtanit answered, bowing his head a little he opened a small scroll and began to read, "The Selkie pirates are former slaves that escaped from the Swan Lords. They are one of the principal reasons that we do such great trade with the Swan Lords, as they, the Selkies, are a scourge on Swan Lord shipping. They are a proud and independent people, electing their own captains and leaders, and living in fortified villages and towns. Being shapeshifters they are exceedingly good at boarding actions, even at night, as they can swim across the high seas looking for prey."

"Of course if you pay protection money to the right bands even the western coast is fairly safe. Indeed certain Carthaginian merchants do just that and make a great profit trading in Selkie loot. Most of that trade is handled out of Kir Chares, where the cargoes can be split up so no one can prove that it's stolen goods. There are even rumours that they also inform the selkies about the cargoes of their competitors, but there's no proof."

As he listened to this Hannibal slowly stroked his beard, when Bodtanit was done he was the first to speak up, "I think we should visit Kir Chares first. Then we'll see what we find there."

"Why doesn't anyone stop this trade?" Lord Four Earth asked.

"How?" Bodtanit answered, "The delta islands are numerous, and there are hundreds of shallow draft boats that ply their trade there. It's a smugglers paradise."

"Then I'm sure our presence there will be noticed," Hannibal said, stroking his beard again, "And that suits me just fine."

**** **** **** ****

Kir Chares

When the rising sun hit the sea just right it was as if it was made from molten gold, with the brass clad spires of Kir Chares rising up from the inferno like some mystical city of djinns. There was no wonder that the earliest Carthaginian explorers had thought that they'd found the abode of Ba'al himself.

Down in the holds the drummers had set a firm rhythm, with the oarsmen joining in with rowing shanty. The ten dodecaremes cut through the water like the swift-moving dolphins that played in the local waters, quickly outpacing the sluggish merchantmen making their way in. Standing at the prow Hannibal saw small crowds gathering on nearby islands, pointing at the ships. Even the sturdy fishermen would stop briefly, hold up their hands against the sun and watch the dodecaremes.

Up ahead small pilot boats helped guide the vast dodecaremes into the port, already a small congregation of officials had gathered to welcome the fleet. Hannibal could sense their confusion, though he kept a straight face as he strode down the gangway looking as dignified as he could. Seeing the four golden rings on his arms the officials bowed to him, and he could sense a nervous, uncertain air about them.

"I am Hannibal Barca and I come on behalf of the Senate of Carthage," Hannibal announced, his loud clear voice carrying well past the officials and into the waiting crowd. "On a voyage ensure that the might of Carthage is seen across the known world."

Once of the officials, an elder with a long grey beard and elaborate green and silver robes answered him, "May the Lady Tanith, Face of Ba'al look kindly upon you and this venture. I am Adonibaal son of Bodastart, secretary to the governor of these isles. I pray you forgive us for this shoddy welcome, but we had so little warning. A small celebration has been prepared for your honour."

"That is good," Hannibal said, letting his entourage gather around him before he followed the Kir Charesian officials. As they walked he noticed with satisfaction that the streets were lined with onlookers. By evening the news of his arrival would have spread all across the islands.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:53 pm 
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New Territories

"Still haven't come down eh?" said Ivar, handing the spy glass back to Sigreth.

"Just a few," said the grizzled veteran. He was an inch shorter than the Dragonsbane, but he had a lot more grey in his beard. "They've been respectful. A few minor trades."

"Spying," said Ivar. "This chief has a few brains."

Sigreth leaned off his horse to spit in the grass. "They've had enough time to talk with their neighbors about us. Haven't come for a shakedown or meet or a fight. The Dead Queen only knows what they're up to."

"Something," said Ivar. "There's a way to find out."

"No," groaned Sigreth softly. "If you die the Witch King will have my hide."

"Not if it's my own damn fault," said Ivar. "Have some horsemen standing by in case this turns out not to be my best idea."

"You're going to go talk to that group of skinnies all by yourself."

"Yes," replied Ivar. He nudged his horse into a walk. "Come for me if it goes bad."

"And what will you do in the time it takes for us to get to you."

"Hero stuff if it goes well."

"And if it doesn't?"

"Bleed."

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It's not that I'm unforgiving, it's that most of the people who wrong me are unrepentant assholes.


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