An Introduction to Mahid

An Urgent Mystery, Part II

In which a plot against the present ownership of Gigames is partially uncovered

Starsinger: Cam heads back into the bar and talks to Hallasha. “Sir, we have a problem that I think you should know about.”

BlackRequiem: Sef pauses and furrows his brows as Cam goes back inside. “What is your friend doing.. ?”

LogicNinja: “And we don’t want to tell the priests and let them handle it… why? C’mon, let’s go get Mieu.”

Gnikrul: Hallasha starts out of his reverie. Maybe still thinking over the fantastic display from earlier? “Ehwha…?”

Starsinger: “Apparently those men you were complaining about, the ones ‘of that damned faith’ are planning on destroying the town.”

Gnikrul: Hallasha chuckles. “Tear down a town they’ve built with their own hands over the space of almost two full years of constant labor? Whoever you hear such things from, my child, you would be wise to ignore them in the future.”

Starsinger: “Can you really afford the risk that I’m right?”

Gnikrul: Hallasha’s jovial confidence turns to mild concern, as if remembering that the boy he’s talking to was apparently the focus of some serious weirdness not minutes ago. “Perhaps… it would be worth hearing the fullness of your reasoning on this conclusion?”

Starsinger: “Sef’s friend said so, and I have no reason to distrust him.”

Gnikrul: “Sef… I take it that would be the tall, fiery one yes? Isn’t, ah, preaching doom and destruction a commonplace practice for… his type?”

Starsinger: “I dunno, aren’t trust and compassion commonplace for your type?”

LogicNinja: Mal heads after Cam, banging the door off the wall as he throws it open.

Starsinger: “Think about all these people here, sir. Isn’t it your duty to protect them?”

BlackRequiem: “Foolish boy.. You should learn to control your friend more!” He points an accusing finger at Surville as he hurries back into the building.

Starsinger: Cam turns at Mal and grins sheepishly, knowing he’s about to get yelled at.

BlackRequiem: Sef slams a steely hand down on Cam’s shoulder and turns him around to face his fiery countenance. “What were you thinking, child? These men cannot help anyone, except to put us in shackles for guilt of association with those misguided fools!”

LogicNinja: “Yeah, he’s right. Look outside, look in here – where are all the workers?” Mal smacks the table with a hand. “Look, we can stop them – or we can grab Mieu and get the fuck out of here. If you get her out of town for now, we’ll be free to fuck them up.”

Starsinger: “The boss can get her out, and I can help you save this place… as my way of saying sorry for flipping you out of your chair, Mr. of Grakkor.”

Gnikrul: Hallasha leans back a tad, distasteful of all the shoulder whirling and table smacking. Clearly not his preferred type of discourse, but he’s listening.

Starsinger: “Hey! Wait a minute… did you say Mieu? She wouldn’t happen to have about ten other names would she?”

LogicNinja: “I’m guessing we don’t have a lot of time.” Mal leans in towards Hallasha, eyes blazing, teeth bared. “What’s it going to be?”

Gnikrul: Hallasha considers. “If you believe there is a serious threat, I can bring it before the Council, but… they are rarely hasty in their decisions…”

BlackRequiem: Sef growls in frustration and shakes Cam. “Listen, boy! Don’t worry about that little gobshite—focus, before you get us all killed!”

Starsinger: “Forget him guys. It was a waste of time… let’s go do this ourselves.”

Gnikrul: “As for your friend, as she is under my care, it will be trivial to move her somewhere else. Most of our hidden havens are in the high country, but I know of one down here, not a day’s ride…”

LogicNinja: “Do it. Otherwise, your council all dies while they’re still deliberating, and we don’t lift a finger to help because we’re taking Mieu out of here. Got it?”

Gnikrul: Hallasha pauses for a moment, wary of deceit, but quickly relents. Apparently whatever he’s worried about isn’t as important as not irritating Mal. “Very well. I will take her to Chalkop’s Cave. Its entrance is hidden, as I said, a day’s ride to the west. Only those of our monastery know its location; we have emergency stores there.

LogicNinja: “Great. And how do we find you when we’re done here?”

Gnikrul: Frowning: ”...There is still the matter of the message we sent to Bakha… I fear her time may be limited if we do not identify her poison. Additionally, I will not know what to take with me to care for her; I can hardly take the entire infirmary…”

Gnikrul: “I could send a second message, to redirect the reply, if you do not mind my brethren knowing our location…?”

BlackRequiem: Sef buries his face in his palm and sighs. “Then we will have to take the fight to them before this atrocity takes place.”

LogicNinja: “Send it. And we’ll need a way to find you—whoever comes down from Bakha can stop by and get us on the way.”

Gnikrul: “As for how to find the cave, I can leave you detailed landmarks, or you can find any of our order. If they cannot guide you, they will know who can. Or, I could return here, though that poses risks to Mieu…”

LogicNinja: “The landmarks should do. All right, let’s go. Sef—which way?”

Gnikrul: Hallasha nods. “I’ll do both, and I will begin packing all the salves and tools I can prepare for travel immediately.” He heads for the door…

BlackRequiem: “Follow me. And do not be so ready to use your weapons..” Wasting no time he steps out the door again.

LogicNinja: Mal strides after Sef, his best fuck-with-me-I-dare-you expression still on his face. “Coming, kid?”

Starsinger: Cam follows quickly, “Yeah.”

Gnikrul: Sef leads everyone to a low, nearly windowless and unplastered building. Inside a few forms are visible; like much of Gigames it lacks a proper door or shutters of any kind. Distant observation does not seem to indicate, to Sef, the quantity of persons that he witnessed there roughly an hour ago.

LogicNinja: “Where are we going?”

BlackRequiem: “Here. This may only be one of their meeting places.” Sef stops for a moment and takes in the number. “Hrmn.. I fear we may be too late to catch the leader.”

LogicNinja: Mal slices the curtain in half as he strides in right past it.

Gnikrul: Inside, There are five workmen, busy with various activities… poring over some kind of drawn plans, cooking, bickering, and so on. They all freeze at Malzen’s dramatic entry, eyes wide. None of them appears to be Talden.

LogicNinja: “Where’s the fucker in charge?” Mal roars, dagger in hand, striding over to look down at the drawings.

BlackRequiem: “Calm yourself, fool!” Sef sprints in after him.

Starsinger: Cam unslings his pack and pokes his face into it, “Hey Dor… can you stick your head out the back and let me know if someone comes up behind me?”

Starsinger: A small silver head pokes out of Cam’s pack, as he puts it back on.

Gnikrul: These appear to be large scale plans, outlining the admittedly twisty layout of the town. It looks more like the sort of layout that arises from camel paths, not pre-planned boroughs. The workers glower silently at Mal, but apparently don’t have the nerve for more than that at the moment.

LogicNinja: “I only need one of you alive,” Mal points out, a low rumble in his voice. “Do you want to tell me now, or after I’ve gone through a few?”

BlackRequiem: “Ignore this fool.” Self interjects—loudly. “He’s over eager to aid in this plan..probably a mistake getting a barbarian like him involved. Nevertheless where is Talden? He should be notified of the added help.”

Starsinger: Cam looks very confused. “Wh…”

LogicNinja: “Come on!”Mal snaps, catching on, although quite possibly too late. “I’ve got important news for him!”

Gnikrul: From one corner, a similarly confused (and quite obviously frightened) man quietly says: “He’s left town already, to prepa-” another silences him: “Shut it! This is all awry…”

LogicNinja: “I don’t have time for this,” Mal snaps, stepping over and grabbing the man by the cuffs, shoving him back into a wall. “Left town for where?”

Gnikrul: The other four men reach for the tools of their trade, save one fortunate enough to actually be wearing a blade, even as the man blurts: “Kn-knobknee hill! It’s just a few miles to the southwest!”

Gnikrul: The others look displeased. “Buto… why do you show such weakness to these outsiders!”

Starsinger: “Hey! You’re the guy who told me where my friends were..”

Gnikrul: Buto nods enthusiastically, and somewhat pathetically, being as he is in Mal’s grasp. “Yeah… yeah that’s me! Could we all maybe just… not kill each other now?” He seems overwhelmed to be recognized by someone “with” his assailant.

LogicNinja: “Oh, was that you? All right, then. C’mon, Buto. You’re taking us to Knobknee Hill.” Keeping one hand on Buto’s shirt, Mal half-leads, half-drags him outside.

BlackRequiem: “Malzen! Control yourself!! These are our allies! Save your wrath for the weak cattle that rule this place.”

Starsinger: Cam turns at Sef with a face that says it all, what the fuck?

BlackRequiem: Sef responds with a quick glare.

Gnikrul: Finally, the one with the sword has had enough. Steeling himself, he steps in Malzen’s path. “No. He has disgraced us. He will stay here and pay the price, rather than disgrace us further by leading you to Talden.” The others heft their hammers, stakes, and trowels, looking grim but not making the first move.

Starsinger: “Put your weapons down, guys. We can handle this like adults…”

BlackRequiem: “Don’t be a fool. You asked me here. If you repay my efforts with threats I will not hesitate to kill all of you!”

LogicNinja: Mal simply strides forward. As he steps up to the laborer with the sword, his arm snaps out…

Gnikrul: Distracted by Sef, the stubborn man is cut off in the midst of his angry sentence: “And who are you to speak of repayment, who repays our trust by bringing su-”

LogicNinja: ...and the laborer crumples to the ground, eyes rolling up on his head. “Anyone ELSE? Good,” Mal snarls, dragging Buto out.

Gnikrul: The rest are, of course, suitably cowed.

LogicNinja: “All right, Buto. Which way, friend?” Mal asks, tone suddenly cheerful as he exists the house.

BlackRequiem: Sef follows and when outside, speaks once more. ”.. Perhaps you deserve my respect after all.”

Starsinger: Cam follows, ready to jump Sef and Mal when they’re distracted. There’s no way he’s going to help them destroy this place.

Gnikrul: Buto seems sheepish. Apparently he’s never tried being a traitor before. ”...That way… it’s far enough that mounts would be quicker, but it’s not arduous on foot…”

BlackRequiem: “Thank you, Buto. What do you know of their plans?”

LogicNinja: “Foot’s going to have to do. Come on, double time.”

Gnikrul: Buto is quiet for a moment. “They didn’t really tell me much. Talden and just a few others were the only ones that knew the whole plan…”

BlackRequiem: “But it had to do with the canal?”

LogicNinja: “The whole plan,” Mal reports, quite cheerful now, “ends with everyone you’ve ever met here dead.”

Gnikrul: Buto seems to think otherwise. “No, Talden would never do that! He is testing the heathens, the enemy. The faithful will not be harmed, we won’t even be in town!”

LogicNinja: “You think he gives a shit if some of you get caught up in it? Hah. Not his type.”

BlackRequiem: Sef scowls, summoning up some of that truly fiery wrath rather then his normally cantankerous demeanor. “You’re hiding something..”

Gnikrul: Buto stammers: “n-no?” clearly lying.

Starsinger: “What about the innocents, Buto?”

BlackRequiem: “It is not our place to test the heathens!” Sef stops and raise a fist as if to strike Buto down. “They must find within themselves the truth of Dul-Rothak’s disciplines. Strength can only be gained through one’s self, not the actions of others!”

Gnikrul: “Gahhah!” Buto drops to a knee, reeling in fear. “Look, it wasn’t my plan allright! I’m just a bricklayer!”

LogicNinja: Mal grabs him by the shirt again, hauling him to his feet. “You think that’ll matter when the people who had this town built in the first place hear about what happened?”

Gnikrul: Scrambling: “Don’t you understand, that’s WHY there must be a test! We can’t just take the town, this town we’ve built for ungrateful heretics (they wouldn’t even let us perform the Rite!), they have to abandon it! We can’t live somewhere where Damgari and all the rest will be forever hunting us down!”

Starsinger: “Dor… there aren’t very many good people out here… are there, little buddy?” The silver head in the backpack shakes from side to side.

LogicNinja: “Yeah? What do you think’ll happen when word gets out, if you pull this off? People like you won’t even be able to get a job, much less perform the Rite.”

BlackRequiem: “Buto.. tell us. We can stop this and you might just escape this unscathed.”

Gnikrul: To Mal, Buto grumbles, as though not entirely convinced himself: “Or everyone will know what happens when you don’t treat Forgeman workers properly…” Then, to Sef: “I told you I don’t know… I don’t know everything. The work was split up amongst different crews and they didn’t tell eachother what part they were working on…”

LogicNinja: “Now, why wouldn’t Talden let people in on the plan, if it’s so good? It’s almost as if he’s hiding something from you…”

Gnikrul: Buto takes that personally. “No! Talden is a good man, an honest man! You should have seen how he stood up to those doddering priests when they wanted to renegotiate, or how he fought for us back in Tladrata… He’s just taking precautions! He knows that not everyone can be trusted, but HE can be!”

LogicNinja: “That’s exactly how he wants you thinking. Ashes, Buto, people have said the same about me!” Mal laughs. “Nah. Honest guys don’t get that secretive. Not in their nature, y’know?”

Gnikrul: Buto is silent. Whether he is seriously considering your words or stirring in resentment is unclear. As Buto said, the hill is only a few miles away, but the terrain here impedes progress… additionally, every step is uphill. Before long, everyone begins feeling the effects of the somewhat optimistically named “clean air” the native southerners favor. It takes a good hour and a half to hike to the hill… sort of a small ridge-on-a-ridge where the tail ends of two mighty mountain seams cross. It affords a stupendous view of Gigames and the surrounding territory. The slanted glimmer of approaching dusk rolls off the dome of the council building below. Seated contemplatively on a massive, lichen-covered stone perched at the crown of the hill is Talden. He gazes calmly down at Gigames, seemingly oblivious to the dozen or so underlings busying themselves about the hill, or your approach.

Gnikrul: From their activities, it seems rather… mundane. They are pitching tents, starting fires, raising poles, and tuning instruments, as if raising some combination of a small celebration, and a temporary camp. A few slain beasts hang from a rack… big ones! Men train idly with bone-and-stone swords in the hollow of one ridge. You see a few more poring over drawings similar to what the others had in Gigames.

Gnikrul: All in all, the atmosphere is industrious and expectant.

LogicNinja: “What exactly did he say to you, anyway, Sef?”

BlackRequiem: “Much the same. A ‘test’ for the unbelievers. That the merchants of the town were greedy and undeserving of them.”

LogicNinja: “So why exactly did you decide they were going to burn everything or divert the canal…?”

BlackRequiem: “He’s convinced them that they needed to be ‘tested’ of their worth. Prove they are worthy of having such men work for them. Such idiocy is.. intolerable.”

LogicNinja: “But you just… made the rest of it up?”

Gnikrul: Finally someone catches sight of the newcomers. “Oy, Buto! Who’se that you’ve brought!”

LogicNinja: Mal raises a hand and waves.

Gnikrul: Another one: “It’s that prophet Talden warned… and the other recent strangers. Guess they’re friends.”

Starsinger: “Guys…” Cam looks toward Gigames and sees a dark line emerging from the town.

LogicNinja: “Hmm?”

Gnikrul: Talden has noticed it too. He leaps down and waves several lieutenants over to himself, delivering rapid-fire instructions from the look of it.

LogicNinja: “Hey, Talden!” Mal’s voice is quite penetrating.

Gnikrul: From the opposite side of the ridge, another eight or so men appear; a hunting party apparently, and a successful one, from the look of it. Talden looks up, the underlings he was speaking to momentarily confused.

LogicNinja: Mal heads straight for the man.

Gnikrul: “So, Sef decided to warn you after all, eh? Glad you decided to leave early… from the looks of that” he nods to the approaching line from Gigames, “things are proceeding faster than we had anticipated.”

LogicNinja: “Yeah, about that. My friend’s a tight-jawed son of a bitch, he’s barely told me anything! What’s the plan?”

BlackRequiem: Sef follows suite. “What is all of this, Talden? I thought you meant to drive them all out—not actually harm the buildings.”

Gnikrul: Talden smiles his best ‘big reassuring crowd-pleaser.’ “All in good time, friends. I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for you! You are correct, though. The damage to our work will be… minimal… if all goes well.”

LogicNinja: “I don’t know if you’ve heard of me, Talden, but I’m not very big on surprises. And I don’t like being left in the dark. What the fuck’s going on?”

Gnikrul: Talden tries to fight down a smirk. “I may not have heard of you, but I have certainly heard you, Malzen, and you are here only the good will of Sef ibn Sharif, and the trust I have in him. You will be satisfied with the answers you are given.”

LogicNinja: “You think so, huh?” Mal grins, quite at ease. “See, if you’d heard of me, you wouldn’t think so.”

Starsinger: “Please, sir. I’m afraid I’m not very bright, and I’d really like to know what’s going on so I can appreciate your great work.”

LogicNinja: “He’s really not,” Mal murmurs.

BlackRequiem: “Nevermind the braggart, he’s been eager to do something for ages.” Sef shakes his head.

Gnikrul: Talden, confident in his authority, is happy to drop Malzen’s thread where it lies. He looks to Cam, then to Sef. “You shepherding this one?”

BlackRequiem: “More he follows us like a lost dog.”

Gnikrul: He leans down slightly, to Cam’s eye level, and speaks with a gravelly compassion: “Are you of the Faith, son?” LogicNinja: Mal glances at Cam, biting his lip and hoping that the kid doesn’t fuck this up.

Starsinger: “Not yet, sir. But from what Sef was telling me, it sounded like exactly what my life needs.”

LogicNinja: Mal blinks, keeping his eyes from wondering. The kid’s smarter than he looks.

LogicNinja: “Ever since Sef mentioned it he hasn’t stopped asking us goddamn questions,” Mal grumbles.

Gnikrul: Talden rears back, and lets out a hearty laugh. “Well, I’m glad to hear it. Now, if you’ll excuse the preparations for the remainder of our brothers, we may be able to find a little pre-emptive celebration for you four, hmm?”

Gnikrul: Buto looks worried at the mention of “The remainder.”

BlackRequiem: “More? You’ve quite an army you’re assembling here, Talden..”

Gnikrul: Talden smiles, proud. “It takes an army to quickly tear a city to the ground; apparently Damgari knows that it takes an army to build one up quickly as well.”

Starsinger: Cam gives an annoyed look at his pack and mutters something in the Adrahki tongue.

Gnikrul: Talden leads you through the camp, winding past cook fires, woven tables, and in-progress tents and pavilions, to a low, grungy tarp… no, that’s a tent of some kind. Just an odd one, an old one, and too low to enter comfortably but quite wide.

Gnikrul: ”...and everyone knows that the chief weakness of an army is its appetite!” Talden disappears inside, swiftly returning with a dusty bottle, its intricately painted label cracked and partially missing.

LogicNinja: “You sure you know what you’re doing, Talden? The more I hear, the more I think that as word gets out, lots of people aren’t going to like it one bit—and they’ll send more force than one little town has.”

Gnikrul: Talden continues on cheerfully, without missing a beat: “I’m quite certain. By this time tomorrow, our employers down there will either have proved their worthiness to lead, or they will have proved their cowardice and fled, leaving it to us.”

Gnikrul: “…Or, I suppose,” he shrugs flippantly, “they will be dead.”

Gnikrul: Suddenly, an adjutant appears, whispering to him rapidly. Talden sighs.

Gnikrul: “If you will excuse me, I may not be able to begin this extraordinary bottle with you. I only hope they are done with me in time to help you finish it!”

Gnikrul: He waves you towards a nearby spot where a carpet has been rolled across the rocky ground, cushions are laid out, and glasses await.

LogicNinja: “No, see, that’s my point,” Mal muses, out loud. “Let’s say they flee. Where do you think they’ll go? And how many soldiers or mercenaries are they going to come back with?”

Gnikrul: ...Talden, however, is already moving away.

Gnikrul: As soon as he is out of earshot, Buto’s cold sweat bursts into the frantic, harsh speech, not quite a whisper, that panicked people who want to be heard but not overheard use everywhere.

Gnikrul: “I have to get out of here! If the rest are coming… who knows what they’ll do to me!”

LogicNinja: “Hey, don’t worry,” Mal says easily. “You’re with us. He talked to Sef personally, right? Who’s he going to believe, us or three guys who are just upset because I scared them a bit?”

Starsinger: “Don’t be stupid!” Cam whispers harshly, “If you stay with us, we’ll do our best to protect you. You won’t get such an offer from the wild, and your companions aren’t exactly the forgiving type.”

Gnikrul: Buto doesn’t seem so sure, but doesn’t say any more for the time being.

BlackRequiem: “Do not give them reason to doubt us, Buto, or I will assure that you do indeed die.”

Starsinger: Cam looks around to see if he can subtly have Dor look under the strange low tent without being seen.

LogicNinja: Mal shrugs, gets up, and wanders off after Talden.

Starsinger: When nobody’s looking, Cam rolls Dor under the tent and tells him to check it out.

Gnikrul: As dusk falls, the dark line of the approaching Forgemen creeps ever closer.

Gnikrul: Talden seems to be settling a petty dispute when Mal finds him. “Now, look here, Valthus, I told you we can’t have a cistern. It’s more trouble than it’s worth at this population scale…”

Starsinger: Cam patiently awaits Dor’s return with information.

Gnikrul: Dor’s first impression is of being in a shallow excavation, and of many bags, barrels, and boxes, and bottles of all kinds.

Starsinger: Cam looks closely at the tarp, trying to judge how noticeable a light in it would be.

Gnikrul: The tarp is of heavy oilcloth, well used and soiled. Night is approaching fast, but for a brief while yet a light inside would not be obvious.

Starsinger: Cam casts a spell on Dor to make him illuminated slightly, that he may see better inside.

Gnikrul: Investigating the nearest bag, Dor reports a strong whiff of yeast and something soft inside. Fresh bread?

Gnikrul: Everywhere there is the glimmer of wine and spirits, and the scent of foodstuffs.

Gnikrul: Mal overhears a man talking with his crew. “Yeah, I totally agree. Just awful smelling. I hope that whatever that stuff Valthus had us mix in was, we never see any of it again… Oy, hello there, who would you be?”

LogicNinja: “Malzen of Grakkor. I’m with the prophet Talden brought in. Gotta say, he treats his people well.” Mal hefts the dusty bottle of wine, uncorked on the way. “Here, try it. ’s good stuff.”

Gnikrul: “Why, hell yes!” The man lifts a palm, for either the bottle or Mal’s hand; it’s unclear. “You sound like my kind of people! Say, what can ya tell us about that prophet…”

Gnikrul: One of his buddies, however, is awestruck. “Did you just say Malzen of Grakkor?

LogicNinja: “Well, lots and not so much, depends on how you look at it—damned right I did. You mean someone around here’s heard of me? Finally!”

Gnikrul: “What, you know this guy Jutak?” “Of course I do, haven’t you heard the stories?” “No, can’t say as I have…” “Psssh. He’s Malzen of Grakkor! He kills in a thousand wenches… wait, that’s not right…”

Gnikrul: The bristley, short bearded man turns back to Malzen from his awestruck friend. “Well, either way, pleased ta make your acquaintance sir! Lookin forward to the big spectacle?”

LogicNinja: “Malzen of Grakkor! He carries a hundred blades and can kill in a thousand ways!” Mal does his best dramatic voice. “Of course, that’s exaggerated. It’s really just a few hundred or so, even counting all the variations. Anyway, the Prophet, well… not a lot of people impress me, but this one? There’s something about him, you know?”

LogicNinja: Mal pauses dramatically, then continues. “He sees right to the core of you, like he’s looking right through you. Even the best liars, he can tell when they’re really faithful and when they’re not, you know? Every time he says he smells a rat, well, as much as I might think everything looks great… turns out he’s right.”

LogicNinja: “You know, it’s hard to say. I just got here, Talden’s busy, didn’t have the time to explain. I know the general gist, but I’m not sure what exactly I’m waiting for.”

Gnikrul: “Heh, it’s a shame this Sef guy didn’t show up earlier then!” Concurring nods all around. “See it’s on account a’ such rats we don’t exactly know the extent of the plan ourselves… hell, no one does save Talden and the other master crew chiefs.”

Gnikrul: “Never know which guy might be takin a bribe from those desert crawlers, or feelin’ like convertin’ to the navel-gazers. So we… what was the word he used? Compartmenylice?”

LogicNinja: “Well, shit, everyone who made it this far better be in it for the long haul, right? I was running around checking up on the priests; what were you guys mixing into what?”

LogicNinja: Mal hands over the flask of wine.

Gnikrul: After swigging, the man grins. “Heh, true enough. And I don’t have the foggiest idea. Valthus had some other crew mix it up and get it too us, we just threw it in the spackle we used that day, as ordered. Was a bitch to get the consistency right again, let me tell you!”

LogicNinja: “Valthus, huh? That’s the guy that keeps talking about a cistern? I’ve heard him mention it like five times now.”

Gnikrul: “Yeeeah, he’s got his own ideas about how to lay out the new development once the heathens are out, but then most people do. Thankfully good ol’ Talden has a level head, keeps the pet projects off the schedule. Wouldn’t want people abusin’ their power!”

Gnikrul: More approving nods all around.

LogicNinja: “Wait, wait,” Mal lifts up a hand, takes the wine bottle back, put it to his lips for a moment, then hands it back. “New development? What the Waste’s wrong with the old one? Can’t you just use it when everyone leaves?”

Starsinger: Cam calls Dor back and puts him in the pack. “I know, you don’t like being in there…”

Gnikrul: “Well, sure, but… To build is sacred! It’s what we do. More people… more of us! ...are gonna want to live here.”

Gnikrul: “Besides, no one likes sleeping in twenty man common rooms!” Vigorous agreement from the crew. “Eventually, everyone here today will have his own home, his own bastion!

Gnikrul: There is a round of “Here Here!” and the bristly bearded man is drawn into a sudden toast, gone as soon as it came.

LogicNinja: “That sounds pretty nice,” Mal agrees. “I just hope he has a plan for when the armies start showing up…”

Gnikrul: “Eh, what? armies? Where you hear that rubbish?”

Gnikrul: One from the back pipes up. “Kalam could always raid us, but they’d be doing that anyway… and Sidimegar would be more likely to THANK us for prying off the claws of the scheming desert rats!”

LogicNinja: “Well, shit, it’s not like everybody down there’s getting killed, right? Some of the priests have already left or sent messengers. So when the folks who sent the priests and had the place built in the first place hear what happened, I don’t think they’re gonna be real happy, that’s all. But, hey, I’m sure he’s got a plan.”

Gnikrul: The group chuckles. What a silly idea. “Damgari? They don’t have armies. They have camels. And the Elantan dogs are welcome to try!”

Starsinger: “Yes, little buddy, these people are crazy… but you have to admit, it beats washing Master Ebonhold’s lacy undergarments…”

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