Part 14: Old Friends ReduxYou know what's worse than prismatic and chromatic dragons? Klizmatic dragons! Here, a joke for my Lithuanian readers
Also, the most shameless of self bumps I consider to have worked fairly hard on this, all to fall on deaf ears and blind eyes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zySu1w3wUe8
Chapter 13: Old Friends Redux
Knowledge in the hands of the masses is dangerous to everyone, up to and including the masses themselves. They never have the necessary magical training and experience to use the arcane secrets, and as for mundane ones... well, it's really hard to rebel against a lord who can kill half of your revolution with a fireball, then raise them as undead troops to crush the other half.
That's why the new Book palace was placed in a mostly isolated location, well, away from the people and their excesses (usually drunken brawls and fires). Keen eyed guards patrolled the perimeter, always walking in threes, trained in proper is someone there drills and ready to strike down any luscious woman or friendly drunk that might approach them.
Inside the stone walls, Svarts studied various books and scrolls that troops brought back from their conquest. Reading, writing, debating findings and research all was done inside the palace. These Svarts, of course, lacked for nothing, from axe training range to a still that made pumpkin shine.
The Military academy was placed in a place much more different. Bleak, burnt fields surrounded the tall structure where military minded Svarts were drilled in all matter of military arts. From logistics and fletching to working in concert with mages, everything that had anything to do with going places and killing people was taught in the academy.
And considering the amount of fireballs hurled in training, having a pre-burnt area helped.
All that training and knowledge would prove invaluable if Krel proved (again) to be less than trustworthy. While individual companies of men were poorly equipped and trained, the sheer mass of them could prove disastrous, especially if mages regained Krel's confidence.
"As I've already mentioned, the Dragons of Ardania were believed to have been extinct until, during the reign of the last Great King, elves started summoning other dragons from the world of Illis. As I said before, there were two types of these dragons - red and golden. Now, look at the board.
"What do we know about Red Dragons? Write this down: the red variety is, as a rule, a little smaller and significantly more aggressive than their gold counterparts. They boast a hide of crimson color, scaly wings and a rather large...
"Ok, this isn't funny. Who's drawn this filth on the board?"
(From the lecture notes of Professor Fostus the Reader)
Sir Hugue was in pursuit of another Demonwood. Naturally, few knights thought that their adventures would include fighting malicious trees, but nothing was certain in Ardania. And plantlife was probably the only aspect of reality that lacked readily available monsters, so whoever fell a demonwood could boast to have killed not only beasts, undead and embodiments of elements, but plants, too.
However, not all was well in the hunt. Sir Hugue had just crossed a small clearing while chasing the vicious tree when said clearing burst into flames. A follow up roar announced the culprit: a red dragon!
This was turning out to be the best hunt of Sir Hugues life.
Even if it involved rescuing a trapped tax collector. As far as nightly rescues went, tax collectors were at the opposite side of the scale desirability than maiden princesses under a curse.
Come fight me on the ground, you overgrown flying newt!
But dragons in Ardania (and other worlds) were usually too smart to fight fair, so the red dragon wordlessly declined the invitation.
In return (and out of spite) Sir Hugue destroyed the dragon's nest. Ugly places, those were, always worthy of torch and pitchfork. Usually filled with treasure, too.
This one also contained one Chandler von Chauntleroy, a Chanter from Chantry who only spoke in chant.
About the only good thing about him was that he had a Wand of Helia.
Maybe the old bag of bones has a point after all, with that necromancy
Haha, you flying fiend! How do you like this? I have conquered thine home and I have conquered the skies! Truly you are no match for my skill and valor!
And so there was one less dragon in the world.
Noble steed, dont you think that those sea serpents look dragon-like? Indeed, I think they do, and they might be in league with dragons! We should despatch them post haste!
"Rune Seers. Priestesses who have reached the highest level in creating runes and using their energies. Nothing is impossible for them."
(from "Chronicles of New Worlds" written by Master Vardies Teleran)
They say that time in the jungle changed some rune witches. Like theyre not themselves anymore. Odd, you know?
Thats jungle for you. Hot and damp all the time, not a right place for a Svart. I would go crazy if they stationed me there
And being on a shard of a dead world is better?
Well, for one thing, a lot of the new deaders here are me own doing!
Svarts, after some teleportation shenanigans, managed to get to the other side of the mountains. And there they met no one else, but lizardmen!
"Although Koatl Spears are creatures of the lowest rank, they are the backbone of the koatl army. They are perfectly trained to use shields and spears, and their weapons are tipped with obsidian spearheads. Their natural cold and calculating caracter, combined with their total disregard for their own safety, make them very dangerous opponants."
-From "The Overall Description of Everything" by Master Alfus Bumblegate
Even if one Koatl had been in King Lichs service way back when, these were independent Koatls (they rarely kept any contact between villages anyway) and they didnt know better.
This this is the last time. Break your word again and mark my word, I will burn Fading to the ground. Im not going to take cities and Im not going to resettle. Desert, as far and wide as eye can see.
Huh... treason? No, no never
Simple Koatl spearmen were no match for Svart elite (and rainbow dragon), and the lizardmen died, with their temple falling our around them.
However, out of the cellars emerged a miracle.
"Those of us who have dedicated their lives to serving the goddess of the Sun deserve nothing but praise and admiration. I know perfectly well from my own experience how painful the flame's touch can be, and how torturous its bright light. A werewolf must possess truly inhuman courage and resolution to pass the goddess' test and become a Wolf of Helia. Wolves of Helia are creatures of a transcendental order. The price for losing all humanity seems negligible in comparison to their newly obtained powers."
(From "Howling at the Sun", an article by the noble werewolf Wolfus de Crunch.)
Dont worry, Svart, we serve the same lord, you and I And I have served him a lifetime ago
Oh yea? What does the lord hate the most in the world?
Eh, you seem to be who you say you are. Tag around until we can get his attentions. Hes right busy as of late
Meanwhile, the dragon, taking in his current surroundings, admired just how clear the air was and how he could see for so far.
Might permanently ground us, that one
Shitting on statues and pecking eyes out of corpses aint that bad, Talon, or have you forgotten?
With his newfound sight, the dragon spotted two sets of gates, close together like twins. This was sure to be major trade intersection in the future, provided those werent dead crystal worlds were acid rained from the sky or some such nonsense.
Nonsense, however, presented itself in the shape of several well dressed - suspiciously well dressed - bandits who aimed their bow at the dragon and demanded money. They looked quite lordly and the dragon decided to defer to his leadership, just in case.
I dannae why were sparing you louts, but orders are orders
Im sorry, mlord, its just well, we have been robbed, all of us, and we got desperate the man in the green hood
Man in a green hood? Interesting
With a mighty kick, the door of the hall in Lichgrad flew open.
What in Krolms name
THIS IN KROLMS NAME! In his name, you will find these foul goblins and kill them! Or have you forgotten who is your god?
With that said, the barbarian woman turned on the spot and left.
I wonder how often that happens
"These goblins are real professionals. The arrows they shoot always fly like the wind, and always strike their targets. Often enough it's even the target that the Champions were aiming at!" - From the collected works of His Majesty's Advisor
But the truth of the matter was that there were goblins infesting the lands, goblins of the most horrible kind: archers devoted to Grum-gog. Like as not, they were here to check out what had happened to the swamps, as Grum-gog favored bog, marshes, and other such foul places.
And wherever theres a foul place, goblins are sure to follow, because only there are they at least marginally accepted.
That would probably explain the location of Stoneclaw. A city in the jungle and nearing some marches, it was a prime spot to be overlooked for settlement. The two neighboring gate were probably how the goblins got there while fleeing places where they werent wanted.
Having goblins in mind, those places were many.
At the same time, Sir Hugue was checking out the singular gate he had discovered some time ago. The flight spell still held, so he swooped in majestically
What the stinking hell is this?
...and swooped back in almost as majestically, with sir knight promising himself to explore some other world.
Knowing that the alliance is probably not going to last long, the spies in the employ of mysterious spymasters were quick to piece together an updated picture of Krels realm. It seemed that it had been touched, somewhat, by Elspritsters magic.
Other than that, the ground was covered with warcamps, all evies from the people displaced by magical disasters. Without a home to return, they needed a reason to go on, and pulling them into the military was the solution provided there was no war where they would get slaughtered.
The only worrying thing about it all was the one ghost ship.
The city of Stoneclaw was apparently ruled by a mysterious swarms of mosquitoes that buzzed their orders and asked for sacrifices from time to time (Sheimus, the fattest gnome in the city, had already been offered three times and survived each of them, something that could not be said about some of the mosquitoes). Not a pleasant place.
Especially considering that there were sea serpents, life elementals and
a Greater Fire elemental nearby. Well, of course there had to be a greater fire elemental. How would we do without them.
In light of such developments, sir Hugue decided to check out another world.
It proved to be a lot more tolerable.
So tolerable that there was even a small, easily wreckable monster lair nearby. Spilling blood of the not-innocent improved sir Hugues mood.
Sir Hugue might have been riding around in a pleasant new world, but there was work still to be done in Long Shores. To that end, Wolves and Svarts had been teleported on the coast and were clearing out hostile inhabitants to the north of the continent while the dragon was doing the same with the sea monsters.
Back in Howling Sorrow, the last of the goblins had been beheaded and had his noggin tarred and put on a stick (it was said to ward off spirits - all of them, not just evil ones - since goblins were too stupid for wardings). This pleased Krolm mightily and beer was said to be extremely strong that day.
And even if he wasnt affected by the divine beer, sir Hugue was having fun chasing down bears.
Yes! Burn, you miserable sea wretches! Nothing can stand against the power of the runes!
That day, mysterious, haunting pouding of hammers could have been heard in the mountains. Some people said that it was the crew of the ghost ship fixing their ghastly vessel and affixing armor - armor of HATE!
But all that paled against the importance of one spell
One spell that had to bring back those, who had been lost in service to the Lich Crown.
Welcome back, my loyal subjects, to the land of the living!