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Everything posted by TLDunn213

  1. Zatar like. (And it's good to see that others, whose opinions I've come to value, also like your stuff. Looking forward to more.)
  2. TLDunn213


    Walk with me in Twilight and hold on to my hand and I'll show you the Doorway to a strange Faerieland There in the Graylands where their eyes are like smoke They never will laugh or call pain a joke Walk in the Graylands when you're feeling sad They can't make it better but you won't hurt as bad For although the Pain will fly not from thee You'll learn to live with it and yet from it be free When you walk in the Graylands trust not your eyes for all that they will show you is Shadows and Lies Look with your Heart and then you will See where True Danger lies and what you need never flee Walk there in Twilight and come safe away or spend the night and then you'll have to Stay Walk with me in Twilight and hold on to my hand as I lead you back now to your native land Forever in Twilight The Graylands will be you Know now how to Walk there and how to stay Free.
  3. Thankfully the trip out always goes faster than the trip in. I'd set out close to sunset going in, and the stardial showed close to sunrise by the time I reached the tomb, yet it was still just dawn as we came out of the gate that leads into that "little" patch of strangeness. I opened the door leading into the kitchens at the back of the house and soon had breakfast going with everyone settled around the big oak table. Inspite of the delays I'd still managed to get the gas, water, and electric turned on and stock up on basic supplies. Even so feeding a barbarian and a were panther, plus everyone else was going to put a major dent in my larder if they stayed for any length of time. Thankfully Melkior has always been good about getting funds to people when needed. So once I had breakfast ready enough for everyone to start eating, and grab more as needed, I got down to finding out what my guest needed from me, so I could speed them on their way. "So, you said you need information ?" "Yes, we need maps of certain parts of the Styx. And Melkior seems to think the former Lords of Usher House explored the sections we're interested in." "Well, they knew how to reach the Styx. That's fairly common family lore. As to how far they explored along the bank, or what records they kept..." "Melkior, thinks there are journals, here and hidden in the restricted stacks at Myskatonic."
  4. TLDunn213


    Sporanids or Fungus Men are not one of the Elder Races of the Shard Scape But a clearly engined race as there are no other mobile fungus based creatures in the Shard Scape; except for Chaos Fungus, which my well be a leftover bio sentry from the War. In any event the Sporanids first appear in Saurian and Thulian historical records some twenty to thirty years before the Gith rebellion. It is hard to set a date for the start of the Gith rebellion as there was a lot of covert action well before the start of open conflict. As to who created the Fungus men, and why, we only have theories. The best of these is a colaberation between the Morlocks and the Aqualith. For the purposes of, starting the Gith rebellion, ending the Saurian/Thulian war and acquiring as much biomantic data as possible. With the longterm goals of keeping the Saurians and Thulians from going extinct while also keeping them from gaining/regaining enough power to become a danger to the rest of the Shard Scape. The reason for keeping them around in a restorable state is really rather simple, at least from a Morlock point of view. They may be needed as allies against the ZerEk someday.
  5. TLDunn213


    Aqualith are the 4th of the Elder Races of the Shard Scape. Although the only get 4th rank due to most historians overlooking them for so long. They are easily as old as the Saurians, some would even say older. But in any event it is believed that they, like the Saurians got their start from mutagens from the Maelstrom's Bore being flung into the primordial past. Mutagens, and samples of ZerEk/ZarAk larvae and Thulian larvae as well. At least that's the standing theory based on how they look. Which, for those who don't know, is as follows. Starting at the rear you have a grayish, brown flat fish like tail which continues for about a third of the creature's length. At which point three to five water jet structures on each side appear. Normally of a darker gray than the tail these jets are used in water to help the Aqualith move at amazing speeds, in the same manner as a squid or octopus. But these jets are also extendable to the point of being able to serve as a sort of grappling leg that can help pull the creature along when on land. Which it does with more speed than one would expect, close to the walking speed of a man over level ground. An extremely slippery slime excreted from special glands on the Aqualith's underside is the key to this surprising land speed. And so we come to the head of the beast. Which can be said to look a bit like that of a catfish with a single three lobed eye in the center of the forehead, and with tentacles rather than spines around the mouth. Aqualith are telepathic and often have several other psi-powers as well. All Aqualith have bioelectric abilities and most have inate biomantic abilities as well. The Aqualith are believed to be the progenitors of several humanoid aquatic races as well as most of the gelatinous creatures beyond the most basic slimes, oozes, and jellies Some tribes of Jublicons are said to worship them as gods.
  6. TLDunn213


    Morlocks are the youngest of the three Elder Races of the Shard Scape; and, from one point of view, also the oldest. This is due, of course, to the whole time travel paradox that spawned the Morlocks in the first place. As you may know from the Saurian and Thulian entries, the Morlocks come from somewhen in the far distant future; at least from the viewpoint of those living in what we think of as present times. In this distant future the whole Shard Scape, or most of the easily reachable parts, were being overrun by the ZerEk Hive/Swarm who were assimilating or killing everyone and everything. So the Morlocks along with members of all the other races that they could contact and trust; and maybe even some they didn't really trust all that much; joined forces and built the Great Ship: "The Maelstrom's Bore" . Which they then flew down the middle of the great Paradox Maelstrom at the center of the Void Between. A crazy desperate move to be sure, and made all the more so by the ZerEk Swarm managing to follow them. Try flying down the center of a tornado while having a running firefight with giant mutant bugs and see how well you do. As you know from the other entries, they did make it into the distant past. Dropping bits of their ship and ZerEk all along the timeline. Thus, quite likely sowing the seeds of the very disaster they were fleeing from in the first place. In any event, it is quite clear that the Morlocks Paradoxed themselves into existence as they are the only race that has so high a level of spatial/temporal instability. Which grants them their innate teleportation abilities. And while it is true that there are creatures that can teleport, phase, and so on; as far as anyone has been able to prove so far, none of them came by these traits naturally. All of them were either Bio-Engineered for the ability, mated with something that had it, or were exposed to some mutating agent. As noted elsewhere Morlocks have Psi-Powers; some of which were innate and the rest of which were learned from other races. most notably the Saurians and the Thulians. With whom they traded their advanced technological know how for knowledge of Psionics and Biomancy. Which is hardly surprising given that knowledge of Biomancy was what they came into the past to get in the first place.
  7. TLDunn213


    Saurians are the oldest of the Elder Races of the Shard Scape. As gods,demons,elementals, fey, and such are not counted as being of the Shard Scape. Due to originating from elsewhere and still being a major Race in that other Relm, Plane, ect. As to where the Saurians come from and who or what created them, we don't even have any good legends. The Saurians worshipped no gods, beyond their own power and knowledge. And while they tended to treat their "creations" with the highhandedness of gods they never asked for worship, beyond basic obedience. Their psi-powers and biomantic skills may have been less than the powers of a god; but not by all that much. In any event one of the best theories about their origins is that mutagens from the Morlock ship "Malestorm's Bore" landed further into the past than the main crash site. And given the amount of debris scattered throughout history from the flight and crash of that great time ship it's as likely theory as any. There are very few true Saurians in modern times as the Race as a whole was degraded to Lizardfolk by the Thulian's final plague by the end of the Saurian/Thulian War. Even if the Gith Rebellion is considered a continuation of it and not counted as separate war in its own right. After all the Rebellion could not have happened if the Saurians hadn't already broken the Thulian Empire with their "Final Plague".
  8. TLDunn213


    Thank you. Glad you like it. Of course I think I've told you quite a bit of this before. And sorry about mangeling your name in the cbox just now.
  9. TLDunn213


    As noted above Thulians are generally counted as the Second oldest of the Elder Races of the Shard Scape. In Spite of the fact that the Morlocks showed up well before the Saurians had even started the experiments that spawned the Thulians. This is due largely to the Morlocks coming from the Far End of Time; and thus by definition being a later addition. In any event the first Illith were created from Gith slaves eventho the experiments were intended to improve Saurian psionic abilities. As if their powers needed any improving. The Gith are of course not counted as an Elder Race due to their being slaves. And to be fair they didn't really become a People and a Power until after the Gith rebellion, which only succeeded due to their Saurian and Thulian masters having weakened each other in the Saurian/Thulian war. Not that Gith didn't escape from time to time giving rise to not only groups of free Gith; but due to mating with varous types of Fey also giving rise to several types of Elves, Orcs, and Goblins. Not that you'll find many Elves willing to admit to the shared ancestry. Yes, in spite of, or in this case, because of, being made from Gith The Thulians kept Gith as slaves. owing to the higher success rate of the morphosis process. Of course the Thulians, and Saurians both kept Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs/Goblins, and even Trolls as slaves and test subjects. Humans being the next most preferred form donors due to their balance of high breeding rate and intelligence. Elves, and Half Elves, had good intelligence but a dreadfully low birth rate and a slightly worse success rate for morphosis. Dwarves had both a low birth rate and a high failure rate, and were generally phased out by the Thulians as slaves. Altho the Saurians kept them on as craftsmen and skilled labor, they also largely abandoned them as test subjects. Orcs and goblins had high birth rates but low intelligence and a high fail rate. But while abandoned by the Saurians early on the Thulians kept them on as unskilled labor and cannon fodder during the War. Both the Saurians and Thulians traded knowledge of Biomancy for technical information with the Morlocks Who had after all come to the far past to gain Biomancy skills so as to help the ZaRak assimilate the ZeRek rather than the other way around. Not that the ZaRak or ZeRek became powers to recon with until well after the Gith Revolt. The Morlocks also learned more advanced skills in psionics from both the Saurians and the Thulians as they only had basic skills in these when they first arrived. The Shroudlings and Mycinoids as well as the Varna; and several other races; who all arose from the Saurian/Thulian War and/or The Gith rebellion; are best covered in their own entries. and are noted here only as a way of inserting reference points. more on the Saurian/Thulian War and the Races that arose from them in later post.
  10. TLDunn213


    Thulians are one of the three Elder Races of the Shard Scape. the other two being the Saurians and the Morlocks. But more about them later. The term Thulian can denote either the final stage of their life-cycle or the species as a whole. The other stages being: Cephlarack, spore, egg, tadpole, and Illith. Thulians are xenomorphic species, which is to say they need to invade another species as part of their life-cycle. Let's start at the tadpole stage as this is the point where the life-cycle can diverge. If the tadpole is inserted into a host; also called a form donor. Form donors can come from several races including Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and even Orks and Trolls; to name some of the more common ones. Other races/species are quite possible. It is worth noting that Trolls are highly prized but seldom used due to a Troll's regeneration abilities. Which makes for a very high failure rate of the Morphosis process but yields a very powerful combat type Illith when successful. And there is the production of Protium as a side effect of failed attempts. Most other races have about a 1 in 4 success rate the other three outcomes being divided about evenly between Death, Kulls, and Shulls. With Kulls being killed when detected. The term Shull also refers to a sub-type of Elf called Neidraheil or False-Elf by most other Elves. This sub-race was created by the Thulians to serve as spies during the Saurian/Thulian war. A forerunner to the Varna which were created later for the same purpose. I will cover these subraces in more detail later. The Shulls that result from a failed morphosis look mostly like the person they were before except they tend to have the skin of an Illith. Which is pale white while at rest but can take on almost any color as an act of will, or sometimes reflex. The mind of a Shull is that of an Illith with access to the memories of the formdonor. A Kull by contrast is basically the reverse of this. That is to say they look like an Illith but have the mind of the formdonor with some access to the genetic memories of the tadpole. Which should explain why they are killed as soon as they are recognised for what they are. Death is largely self explanatory but includes three possible outcomes. 1 the formdonor dies but the tadpole survives, assuming it can get back to the spawning pool. 2 the tadpole dies but the formdonor survives, assuming that they can escape from the Thulians. 3 both die. A successful morphosis yields an Illith. Illith are more or less human shaped with tentacles hanging down its face from about where a human nose would be to about two or three inches below the chin. As noted for Shulls, Illith have pale white skin that can color shift much like an octopus or cuttlefish can do; including the ability to stun a foe by flashing a rapid series of colors. After an Illith reaches a certain age it may undergo a second morphosis, transforming it into a fully adult Thulian. Thulians in this stage have a main body somewhat like an octopus but with the Illith face on one side of it, face tentacles and all. When first transformed the main body is about three feet across with three foot tentacles hanging below it. Like Beholders, Thulians float in the air a few feet off the ground. It is unknown just how big a Thulian can grow, eight feet across being the largest size confirmed to date with unconfirmed reports of up to twelve feet or more. It is the adult Thulians which lay the eggs which hatch into tadpoles, asexualy as far as anyone can tell. and so the life cycle is complete. unless of course the tadpole isn't implanted into a formdonor in which case it will, in time, turn into a Cephlarack. Cephlarack are best described as a cross between an octopus and a spider. Living in deep caves near large pools of water Cephlarack wait for prey to come to them. While they can and will kill and eat just about anything, they prefer sentient races in which to implant their spores. Once implanted the spores travel to the brain and will take control of the victim during sleep. once under the control of the spores the victim will proceed to the nearest body of water in which they can fully immerse themselves. once the victim has drowned the spores mutate into eggs and then hatch into tadpoles. Thus completing the other ark of the life cycle. More on the Saurian/Thulian war to follow in later post.
  11. Dread Foundries of Under Louis By Tracy L Dunn It was a gray dull day on the Styx, not that there were ever any other kind. And the term "day" didn't mean much when there was no sun to mark the passing of one day into the next. Still Stephen Fox noted the day as dull and gray. Of course this was mostly to distract himself from what was to come once the great Iron Boat had finished pulling alongside the sandbar that was just a few dozen yards from the shore. Close enough to tempt one into trying to swim. If one happened to be a fool or protected by very strong magic. Then again risking swimming the Styx was the act of a fool in Stephen's book no matter how much magic you had protecting you. And Stephen was not a fool; or at least not that much of one. If he were truly not a fool of some sort or other he wouldn't be following the lifestyle of a wandering gambler/mage along the banks of the Styx. There were after all safer ways of making a living. Many of which paid better than gambling or mage craft. Not that mage work didn't pay; if you were good at it. And that was rather the point. Stephen wasn't good at it. Oh he could cast a few spells well enough to get himself out of a tight spot. But brewing potions and enchanting objects day in and day out was just sooo dull. Which made his current picklement all the more vexing. It would almost be funny, if it were happening to someone else. Cheating at cards by way of magic. Really. If he were good enough to bewitch a deck of cards without being noticed on an Iron Boat while it was underway.... Well if he were that good he would have opened a shop a long time ago and likely be ready to retire by now. The Iron Boat swung around and came to a stop alongside the sandbar with its blue energy field crackling softly. "Steady there."Called the Captain. "We won't be long. Will we Mr. Fox?" he added turning to Stephen. Stephen looked at him and then at the spell shackle on his wrist. "Is this really necessary ?" he ask. "No." said the Captain softly "But they insist. And as they own most of the cargo on the boat..." he gave a shrug. "I see." Stephen said flatly. "For what it's worth, I don't think you was doing what they say. I know a thing or two about how hard it is to do mage work while a Boat's underway. No hard feelings between us?" he ask offering his hand. Stephen looked at the offered hand coolly for a moment before spotting the glint of something hidden in it. "No. No, hard feelings between us." he said taking the hand and the key hidden in it. "You were just doing what you had to do." he added slipping the key into a pocket. "Right then. RUN OUT THE PLANK !" he yelled turning to the two general purpose Synthoids standing near the rail. The "Plank" was a yard wide, ten foot long, six inch thick slab of Rune covered FerroMantic Iron. The Synthoids lifted it as if it were Balsa wood and quickly ran it out over the lower bar of the ships railing. Once it was hooked in place and the upper bar was swung aside the Captain turned to Stephen "You may now go ashore Mr. Fox." he said with a grand wave of his arm tword the "plank". Which was greeted with grins and snickers from the cargo owners who weren't able to deal with the fact that Stephen was really just that good at cards. Not sparing them so much as a look he strode down the "plank" and on to the sandbar. managing not to flinch as the energy field snapped back once his trail foot had left the plank and touched down on the mud of the "sand" bar. He stood there not moving until he caught sight of the Iron Boat's blue glow moving on past the bar and then he turned his back on it and looked the other way. Once the boat was out of sight Stephen took out the key and applied it to the locking rune on the Shackle, and sent power through it. There was a click, and the Shackle opened. Amateurs. If you want to hold a wizard you need to use two Shackles. And I might have been able to pick badly made ones like this even if they had used two. But the key was faster. He admitted to himself, as he pulled a bit of string out of his pocket and hung the key around his neck. Never know when you might need something like that. and then after a moments thought he passed his hand over the key and murmured a Word. The Key shimmered and a simple Rune stone charm took its place. Then he took a Scrip out of his belt pouch and went to work in the Shackle's inner surface. About half an hour later, during which an Iron Boat had passed without even slowing down, he made a few quick changes to the Runes on the outside of the Shackle and then snapped it closed around his left wrist. A touch to the locking rune and then the two on the side and then the one on the bottom and it shimmered and faded from view. Never hurts to have a trick or two up your sleeve, especially when people you don't like do most of the work for you without even knowing it. But Stephen's smirk of satisfaction quickly faded as he stood there waiting for a someone to come along with the only change of view was a slow but steady rising of the Mist over the Styx. Once Stephen had finished his work on the Spell Shackle he turned his attention to the problem of getting off the sandbar. His best hope was a Boat or a Barge coming along. Hopefully before his Styx charm failed. The rising mist wasn't as dangerous as the lapping waters at the edge of the bar; but without the charm it would still wash away his hope and memories; just more slowly and less noticeably. He glanced at the Charm its glow was undiminished, for now. Calling a Boatman wasn't an option; other things that couldn't reach him on shore would hear/feel, the call and get there first. Using the Shackle to power a bridge spell could work, if his Charm held long enough to let him charge the Shackle slowly. A fast charge would be as bad as trying to Call a Boatman. Then he saw it. Low to the water and half hidden by the rising mist. But clearly there; the spell glow of an Iron Boat or, given its lowness to the water, a Rune Barge. As it drew closer, it became clear that it was a barge. While far less shielded than a Boat a Barge was far more likely to stop and pick him up. So, once it was close enough Stephen cast a ball of light into the air above the water a little way out from the bar. "Ahoy, the Barge!" he called. "Ahoy, yourself." a voice called back, "What in the name of Cerberus are you doing out here?" "Waiting for a kindly soul to save me from the malice of those who can't bear their losses like gentlemen." "HA HO !" the voice called back, "I'm a mercenary soul more than kindly one, but if you've a bit of bling to trade for passage..." and the Barge to a stop even as the voice trailed off expectantly. Stephen was less than thrilled to see that the speaker was a Cyclops with a crew of orks. Still, having no other real choice..."I think we can work something out." he said stepping onto the Barge. "Well," Said the Cyclops, "what have ye ta offer for passage upon me fine craft?" 'Fine craft ?' was pushing things a bit to Stephen's way of thinking, altho the Rune carved Darkwood looked to be in far better shape than most craft of this type that he'd seen; not that he'd had reason to see very many. "I've a fine light crystal." he offered pulling one from an inside pocket. He didn't expect it to be nearly enough, but saw no reason to offer the full price all at once. He might get the giant to settle for less. "It's a start." the giant said after looking at it. "I've a bit of coin, but I'd rather your whole crew not know where I keep it." he said. "A wise thought that. Cronk; I'll be in my cabin talking business, see we're not disturbed." the giant said tossing the crystal to a large, rough looking hobgoblin whom Stephen mistrusted as soon as he saw him. "Aye, Captain Pheron." the hobgoblin said catching the crystal and hiding it without even turning to look. "Not easy to look at, but useful for keeping the rest in line." Pheron remarked as he lead the way to a small hut at the back of the barge. "Push off and get us back in the current." he called to a burly ork standing atop the hut holding the rudder pole. "Aye, Captain." the ork called back. "Shove off ya lazy swine; Cap'n wants us underway!" the steersman bellowed as Stephen followed Pheron into the hut. The room held a bed, a desk, and a chair. With the faint glow of locking spells on the bed; which was really a box with a mat on top; and the desk, which Pheron was opening. "See to your secrets while I see to mine. Then we can talk for a bit." "But we've not set a price." Stephen protested. "Half of what you've got in your money belt should cover it." "Very well." Stephen said drawing out five of the twelve gold pieces hidden there as he gave thanks that the three platinum pieces were hidden elsewhere. Pheron counted the coins and slipped them into a pouch on his belt."The Crystal is worth about a gold, so I'll let it slide. But you shouldn't try shorting people like that; it'll get you into trouble one of these days. Stephen flushed as re d as his hair and gave silent thanks that the spell shackle kept him from shifting. Altho the Cyclops might already know his true nature. Pheron laughed "Now that you know lying to me is a waste of time, will you have a drink and tell me of yourself and your travels; starting, perhaps with your name ?" and with that Pheron held out a glass of green liquid which Stephen recognized as Saurian brandy. Very good Saurian brandy, he discovered after a careful first sip quickly followed by a full swallow. "Ah, that's good." Stephen observed while resolving to be careful about drinking any more. Saurian brandy packs quite a punch. Pheron drained his glass, refilled it and took a sip of the next, waiting. Stephen took another sip. "I am called Stephen Fox; among a number of less disserved and far less suitable things." Pheron had raised his eyebrow at the name 'Fox', but said nothing, finishing off his second glass and refilling it again. Stephen took another sip of his drink and wondered if he could hold his own even at a glass to sip rate. "I am a mage, of some small skill;" he went on, "and a gambler of rather greater skill." "Which leads some to assume you use your first skill to improve the second." Pheron observed putting the cork back in the bottle and putting it and his glass back into the desk. Stephen drained his own glass and handed it over. "And so the question of your arrival on the sandbar is answered; yet the answer spawns the question of why you travel the Styx in the first place." "No great mystery there." Stephen said, "I had heard that Under Louis offered opportunities to use my second skill set to acquire the means to improve the first, and places where those means could be applied without need of further travel." all of which was quite true, as far as it went; his other reasons for traveling to Under Louis were ones it would be better to keep to himself, even if Pheron were a trustworthy sort, a boat full of orks, goblins, hobgoblins, and their ilk was no place to talk about matters of that sort. "Ah" said Pheron, "So you plan to settle in Under Louis. "Yes." Stephen said "But what of you; I'm assuming Under Louis is just a stop along your way?" "For now; but a few more loads of Nether Ore and I'll have enough Feromantic Iron to start turning this into a Boat. There's more money in travelers than cargo; even if cargo doesn't complain as much. Stephen smiled at that, then added, "If you don't already have a Mage lined up, come see me when you're ready to start building and I'll give you a good price on the Inscribing." "I'll bear it in mind; but I managed the Runes on this tub well enough by myself." Stephen blinked and let his eyes go silver for a moment. The Spell Weave on the Barge clearly matched Pheron's Aura and his mere ten foot height should have been a tip off to his other than pure giant blood. Which lead Stephen to revise his estimate of Pheron's age upward by a couple of decades. After all a pureblood wouldn't start coming into his magic until his first century or later. But a half-bread... "and a fine job it is too." Stephen said letting his eyes shift back to 'normal' "Still; a bit of help could save me some time, and work space don't come cheap in Under Louis; even in the best of times." "Best of times?" Stephen ask hoping not to seen too interested. "Scorpanoks; or so I've heard. Not just a few, and not just passing through a company's worth, and staying around. "Doing what?!"Stephen exclaimed, "I could see a few loaner types taking a warehouse guard job to get by till something better turned up. But a company...?" "Arms and armor; would be my guess. And they might be needing transport for it." "Careful there." Stephen warned, "Scorpanoks aren't noted for paying for what they can just take." "Depends on the Company. Some are better than others." Pheron rumbled; clearly not pleased at the thought."Anyway, I plan to dock in the goblin quarter until I can get their measure." Stephen didn't think that was much safer than dealing with Scorpanok mercenaries but held his peace, as getting out of the goblin quarter and into a better part of town unnoticed was a better plan than landing at the main docks or trying to find his way through the tunnels beyond Under Louis from some uncharted landing point. "So how far are we from Under Louis ?" Stephen asks, wondering how long he could stay awake, or if he'd have to risk trying to sleep on the Barge somewhere. "A few hours yet." Pheron said getting up, "a bit less if I push things. You can catch a nap in here if you like. I'll catch up on my sleep in Under Louis." "I wouldn't want to put you out." Stephen said; even as he took an appraising look at the bed and decided it would be quite comfortable. "No bother, I've got a meal and a bed waiting for me at the Stag." Pheron said opening the door and stepping out. 'The Stag' !? Well that was interesting Stephen thought as the door closed. He was to meet the Lady Fantasia there and learn what he could from her before poking around on his own. Could Pheron be one of Melkior's agents? Best not to know, if what Melkior feared was true. But would Scorponoks work for Thulians? Of course if they were using Varna agents there would be no reason for the Scorps to know who they were really working for. Deciding that further speculating would be pointless until he knew more; Stephen set a simple alarm ward on the door. Anything more would have been too much work with the Barge underway. And with his privacy secured he unlocked the holding spell on the Shackle and returned to his true form. And after giving himself a good bone popping stretch, lay down on the bed; not bothering to take his clothes off or turn down the covers. And was quickly asleep. A few moments, hours?, later he snapped awake. The Barge was slowing and the energy field shutting down. He quickly Shifted and reset the Shackle. Which he noted was now almost half charged. He'd just taken the alarm ward off the door when Pheron opened it. "We're here.” he said, "Will you be needing a Cloak?" "I think not." Stephen said glancing at the Styx Charm around his neck: it would need recharging soon. He added a Disguise Amulet. As the Amulet fell into place next to Charm and hidden Key Stephen's form seemed to waver for a moment as the image of an ork overlay his own. "Aye. That should do; if no one looks close."Pheron allowed as he lead the way out of the cabin. "Unless they already know the truth." Cronk said pointing a crossbow at Stephen's heart. “Let’s see what you really look like.” said the Scorpanok standing to Cronk’s left, reaching forward to grab Stephen’s disguise amulet and jerk it off. The ork image shimmered and vanished leaving his human form behind. Stephen wondered if his true form had shown during his unmasking, but could think of no way to check. “What’s the meaning of this Cronk?!” Pheron demanded. “Sorry Captain, but they made a better offer for him; and you.” The Scorpanok looked closely at Pheron, “Yes, there’s a bounty on this one too.” he said. More Scorpanoks moved forward from among the orks, energy crackling around their lower hands Shackles held in upper. “Rest of the crew’s secure Sarge. What about this one?” One of the new arrivals ask indicating Cronk with a wave of his Shackle filled hand. “He works for the Boss.” the Sergeant said. The Shackle waver took a step back. “You mean he’s…” “…Not your problem.” the Sergeant cut him off. “Right. So, just these two then.” he said turning back to Stephen and Pheron. “You going to come along quiet like or do we stun you, chain you, and wait for you to wake up?” “No waiting.” the Sergeant said twitching his tail with impatience. “If we stun ‘em, we drag ‘em. “You heard the Sarge. So how ‘bout it?” Stephen held out his arms; there would be chances to escape later. Trying to fight free now would just get him stunned and dragged. This way he’d at least get a look at where they were going. To his relief Pheron seemed to have reached the same conclusion; as he also held out his arms with a muttered growl. The Shackles snapped shut around each wrist and then came PAIN!!! Blinding; Searing; Pain! Then it was gone. “Just a taste of what you’ll get if you cause any trouble.” the Sergeant said as Stephen and Pheron climbed back to their feet. Stephen didn’t even remember falling, but a pain in his shoulder bore witness to his meeting with the deck. “All right; Let’s move you maggots. You two, up front; The rest of you rabble form up behind them; Four wide. Move it; Move it; Move it!” the sergeant yelled waving his upper arms while keeping the pain rod in his lower right hand close to his side. Stephen set off at a quick trot, having no other choice. Pheron was lucky to be tall enough to keep pace at a walk. Scorpanoks were everywhere, carapaces gleaming, tails held high, pain batons held in their upper arms. This wasn’t a company, this was an army. An occupying army. How could they have taken over so quickly and completely? They had only been marching for about 20 min. when the Foundries came into view and a feeling of unease started stealing over Stephen. He glanced down at his Styx-charm and breathed a Work of Power over it and only just managed not to flinch at the pain from the Shackles. WOW ! Picking these things will be a real trick (if I can do it at all) a nagging voice of doubt added. After all, he’d be not only trying to pick top of the line pain shackles, but trying it in a dread field strong enough to give him the creeps this far out. The Charm was helping, now that he’d boosted it, but it wouldn’t last long in the Foundries. A day, maybe less. Well, he’d just have to work fast, once he got a chance; if he got a chance. Another half-hour of quick marching and they had reached the Foundries. And the Dread field was like a wool blanket soaked in ice water. Even through the Charm, and small wonder with the amount of Neather-Ore being smelted and Feromantic Iron being quenched in Styx water. The wonder was that anyone without a charm, of some sort or other, could stand to stay here at all. Then a low-level pain started spreading over him from the Shackles. Like an electric shock set low enough to just be uncomfortable. “That should be enough to keep you working.” The sergeant said. “And if the Dread starts slowing you down; we can always turn up the shock.” “Now get to work. You lot can start shoveling black-rock into the furnace over there.” He said to one group. “And the rest of you can start loading ore into the smelter.” He went on indicating Stephen’s group. Stephen struggled to hide his dismay. Neather-Ore drew magic, likely strongly enough to trip the pain shackle, as if he wouldn’t be working with enough problems and distractions. Now he’d be lucky to have any magic left by the time they were finial allowed to sleep; if they were allowed to sleep. No, surely the Scorps would allow them food and rest, just to get more work out of them in the long run. Stephen closed off his mind to block out the pain and slow the relentless draining of his magic by the Neather-Ore. Survive now, escape later. And for the next several hours; he didn’t really notice how many; Stephen’s world shrank to a pile of ore, a smelter and the short path between them. Then, water. He hadn’t noticed his thirst until the water skin was at his mouth and it was only starting to ease when the skin was gone leaving his thirst more pronounced than satisfied. Another timeless interval of ore and pain. Another mouthful of water. More Ore. Then finial; Food. He couldn’t have said what it was, just that it was something to chew that gave energy and almost awakened hunger before fatigue took it away along with everything else. “Fox…” a voice called. Then again louder, “Fox; wake up. It’s time to go.” “Wha..? Who?” he muttered trying to force his eyes open. “Good. You’re awake. Drink this; it’ll help” and he felt a glass bottle against his lips. “Who?” he tried to ask again as the bottle was tipped up forcing him to drink or chock. He drank, swallowing quickly. The warmth of the Ambrosia spread through him quickly and the world came into sharper focus. He almost cried out at the sight of a Scorpanok guard leaning over him. “Relax, it’s me; Fantasia.” The ‘guard’ said. “How do…”He started to ask. “Would a ‘real’ guard be helping you?”She snapped. “Good to see you too. Now about these.” he said holding out the Shackles. “You haven’t got them off yet; you’ve been awake a good minuet now.” She teased, and then grew serious. “I couldn’t get a key. They don’t seem to believe in keeping ant handy.” “Stephen muttered a curse. “Fine; I’ll just have to do this the hard way. Go see if you can get Pheron up.” “Who?” “Cyclops, half-bread; over that way, I think. Shouldn’t be too hard to find.” He said pointing off to his left. “Friend of yours?” “I think so. His first mate sold us out to the Scorps. But I think he was really a Varna.” “The mate?” Stephen nodded. “o.k. I’ll see what I can do for your friend.” She said and moved off. Stephen watched the doppelganger go “unnerving, but useful.” He muttered, “Not that I have room to talk on that score. He added after a moment’s pause. Then he turned his attention to the Shackles. The one from the Boat was like a toy next to these. But the fact that they had missed that ‘toy’ might just give him the edge he’d need to beat these. He reached for the hidden Shackle with his mind and Power. Yes; as he’d hoped it was fully charged; having caught a good bit of the power being pulled from him by the Neather-Ore. Now what to do with that power? He studied the Runes on the Scorp-Shackles. Yes, more complex than the one from the Boat; even after he’d worked on it; but a Shackle is still a Shackle and so there has to be a lock and key rune set up somewhere on it. “ah ha ! There you are. And you are a nasty, tricky, bit of work too aren’t you?” Stephen muttered as he traced the spell weave from Rune to Rune. Tweek the wrong Rune and the pain spell would keep building until it kills you. Nasty. But, if I link this back to here; and this over to here… He reached into his belt pouch for his Scrib; somewhat surprised to find that it was still there… He was just finishing when a guard came by. “And just what do you think you’re doing?” he demanded. Stephen didn’t hesitate, he channeled energy from the hidden Shackle through the one he’d just finished working on and sent a bolt of pure Pain at the guard; who crumpled with only a soft moan. He was taking aim at a second guard when he spotted Pheron behind ‘him’ just as she called out “It’s me.” He lowered his arm in relief.
  12. So I had to go to the Snail pens to pick up this package. Thankfully, Alchemy text don't count as spell books. Soooo many forms and rules for sending anything magicly charged; or even able to hold a magical charge. But instructions on making such things... Well that's another mater, thank all the gods. Now even with out the paperwork, most Snail pens are slime pits. But the one here in UnderLouis was a welcome surprise. It has a Slime Pit rather than being one. Good boardwalks over it too. And the Snail Pads are hosed down every shift. Of course being next to the Styx and all you have a lot more spell casters and Alchemist here. So much more reason to collect the slime. Not sure what the going rate is on Snail Slime. But it's clearly enough to be worth the trouble. Maybe I should look into how many uses they've found the stuff. After all now that I've got the bulk of my research notes back, I should put them to use. On the other hand, given how long some of this stuff was in storage, I might do better looking for uses for vault dust and cobwebs.
  13. Just an idea I've had. Giant(3 feet high, by 4 feet long, by 2 feet wide) Blue, telepathic, teleporting Snails. Used to transport messages, cargo, and sometimes people. For a price of course. Magic items must be in a dorment state and shielded. Heavily shielded. And the price is still outrageous. Anyway That's my idea. If you like it and want to put Mail Snails in your story/world Feel free. A small nod in my direction for the idea Is all I ask. I will find a place for them in one of my stories; Someday Maybe. I hope.
  14. TLDunn213


    The Final Days of Horkuna In the final days of Horkuna When the Eather starts to flow In the final days of Horkuna The Neather Winds will blow In the final days of Horkuna Will come the Demon Snow and if you plant the Dragon's Teeth then Soldiers there will grow For the final days of Horkuna will be lit by Balefire's glow In the final days of Horkuna Will Demons walk the land In the final days of Horkuna the Dead will rise and stand You are near to danger if you feel the Eather Flow You are near to danger when the Winds begin to Blow You are near to danger If you See the Balefire glow You are in great danger When comes the Demon Snow Will you learn the Way to tap the Eather Flow Will you learn to find your way by the light of Balefire's glow Will you plant the Dragon's Teeth and what Soldiers will you grow Will you dare to Ride the Wind And whether will you go These are the final days of Horkuna and we thought that you should Know.
  15. Targon jumps out of the boat and picks me up in a bear hug. "Tildun ! It is good to see you my friend. it has been far too long." he exclaims as he lifts me off the ground. thankfully the armor spell on my long coat holds. Thus sparing me from cracked ribs. I love the big lug like a brother, but he really has no idea how strong he is at times. "Easy Targon. We don't have time to be mending cracked ribs." Kain said as he vaulted to the ground. I was glad to see the WerePanther/Monk even if we never really got along. Nothing aginst each other; just nothing in common even if we were both spell casters. Maybe that was it, our ways of doing magic were just different enough to be annoying. "you're slipping if you didn't spot the glow of his protective spell." observed HawkEyeRavenHair. as always the HalfShull had gone unnoticed until he chose to draw attention to himself. I was glad to see the pale skinned archer, even if he was unnerving, his skills were always good to have on your side if things got sticky. Targon had just put me down as Yeriko stepped off the boat. "Lady Yeriko; to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit ?" I always find myself being semi-formal with her in spite,or maybe because, of her being less than half my age. it is after all quite a feat to have reached her level of power in so short a time. Or it could have to do with her being a Lizardfolk Shaman. Mostly the Lizardfolk part, as they are all that's left of the once mighty Saurians. Eather way, the question of who would win if we were to ever go at it, is one I'm quite willing to leave unanswered. "We seek information. Which Melkior thinks you can acquire for us." she said. before taking the time to shrink her long boat down to a more manageable size and put it in her belt pouch. "But let us speak of this elsewhere. The full tale of our travels will take time and is best told in comfort and away from places where unfriendly ears could be listening." "Follow me then. I don't have the house as ready as I would like. Unexpected delays getting the keys. But I think I can provide basic comforts." and so we set off through the misty woods for the house of Usher.
  16. Cool Totally freestanding short story.
  17. TLDunn213


    So now I'll never know Who/what the girl is Where she is/ what that place is What/(who ?) She was looking for Why not challenge yourself to find the answer to those questions. I have dreams that are like a movie preview When I do I try to write them down So I can go back later and try to write the rest of the story Going to get back to working on some of the better ones Once I've got my notes out of storage and somewhat sorted that is.
  18. TLDunn213


    OK I'd keep reading this Just to find out the who,what,where,why,ect. More please ?
  19. Losing is also half the battle It's just the half you're trying to get the other side to take care of.
  20. OK Good song And now I get the Ace reference Had heard of Motörhead But that was about it Ah well Live and learn "For there is no Knowledge That is not Power" (Too bad I don't know who said that)
  21. ???? ???? Who is Lemmy Kilmister ? What does this have to do with the ace of spades ? ??? ?? ?
  22. The mist swirl out over Lake Auber. I glance at the Stardial, soon... I hate waiting around places like this; But this time of year that Leth cross current is really nasty. Yeriko knows what she's doing and all; but still... A flash of Eldritch light out in the fog. Is it them? I wait, gathering power. If it's them I can use the power to help get the boat ashore If not... A carved dragon's head with glowing green eyes breaks through the mist. Kabaru I'd know that boat anywhere. I quickly reach out with the power I've gathered. The dragon's mouth opens and clamps on to my rope of power as soon as I toss it. I run the other end through the ring of Feromantic Iron set in the side of the obelisk for just this purpose. And then toss the free end out to Targon as soon as I see the big barbarian on deck. With both of us pulling we have Yeriko's long ship up on the shore in no time.
  23. The earth's bloodfire Pours down upon the waters of life And a power of destruction Becomes the way for the renewing mist To rise to the thirsting tree That it may adorn itself In blossoms sweet To greet the rising sun
  24. I'll be removing my pants now As soon as I remember how The floor's a'tilt The room a'spin I blame it all on too much Gin I'd just stay here On the floor But have a need I can't ignore Must make my way To the bathroom door New line The cold rain keeps on falling
  25. Walking through the twilight, and the shadows Of the canyons of Steel and Glass Looking for the Pathway or the Doorway That will lead us back to Neidraheil Long have we been searching Through the Shadows and the Twilight Of these Canyons of Glass and Steel Where so seldom lies a pathway That is even paved with living grass How much rarer then to find a hallway With trees on either hand From which we might form a Pathway Or a Doorway, back to the living lands Oh to find a Pathway or a Doorway Out of these stone hard empty lands Where greed and profit lie At the heart of every thought, and scheme, and plan.
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