Uradess

Desi d'Mundii VI
Human Rights

Some studies have shown that humans are capable of learning two to three times faster than elves. The sources of these studies are often disreputable, but consider for a moment if this were true.

Given the best medical treatment and healthy living amenities, the average human lives for 70-80 years. The average lifespan of a healthy elf approaches 800 years (though some, as you well know, have well-exceeded 1,000!).

It would seem, then, that the best-educated human, at the end of his life, can retain less knowledge than your average 300-year-old elf, and the elf has many centuries more to go!

So which do you think is the better investment? The answer is obvious.

-Excerpt from an elementary Societal Studies textbook.


When you receive a summons from Senor Patch you don’t keep him waiting. Mar put down her pen and left the library immediately, her notes and books still spread out on the library’s table. She smoothed out her wrinkles in her scholar’s robes and straightened her Lagrim’s Sash as best she could as she practically jogged toward the Senor’s office.

Senor Patch’s secretary spoke volumes of the elf. She was a human, answering the line and typing at the terminal as well as any elf Mar had seen. She was even given a formal robe to wear, fitting for the position but borderline blasphemy on a human. Mar beamed with pride for her organization, knowing that no other group had the guts to treat humans this equally.

The secretary opened the enormous double doors to the Senor’s office with the push of a button, and Mar walked in with all the steady grace she could muster. The office was a wonder: huge and opulent, with a vaulted ceiling and a wall of books stretching nearly to the top. Statues of humans and elves and gnomes living together in harmony stood in the corners, and the windows opened out to a balcony that overlooked Melaloriel, the capital of civilization itself (and all the more civilized for the existence of this office no doubt, thought Mar). Of course, the windows were closed and fortified, just in case. There were a few backwards radical groups that violently opposed the work of the Lady’s Guaranteed Right Movement, and the possibility of assassination couldn’t be written off.

Senor Patch sat behind a large desk at the other end of the room. He continued to do his work, patiently waiting for Mar to reach his desk. He looked up right as she reached the line of chairs in front of the desk.

“Miss Sala’Mariellani, correct?”

He recognizes me! was Mar’s first thought, but then she remembered that he was the one who summoned her. Of course he knew her name, even if he’s not familiar with her face. But still, the honor of being addressed by-

“Miss?”

“Oh! Yes, she’s me. I’m her. I mean, that’s right, sir.” Mar bowed and felt her face burning.

“Yes, of course. Have a seat, Miss Sala’Mariellani.” The Senor waved a hand and Mar sat down in one of the chairs.

“So, Miss Sala’Mariellani. You are the daughter of Sala’Chorbiani, correct? Of the Desbiente County Salas?”

“Yes, sir. The weapons traders.” Is this about my family? thought Mar. What would Lagrim need with firearms? Unless…

“Yes, I gathered as much. Miss Sala’Mariellani, I have an assignment for you. It may be a long assignment, and it may be a dangerous assignment. Are you up for it?”

What? “Well, uh, sir. I’ve got a few projects-”

“Nothing that can’t wait or be passed on to someone else. I’ll ask again: are you up for it?”

“W-well, I…” An assignment? For me? “I-I guess, I…” Something important enough to put aside my other projects, all of them. “I mean, I don’t know if I”m really…” Ready? This is it, this is your chance to prove yourself and do some real good!

“I’ll do it. What’s the assignment?” Mar looked the Senor straight in the eyes. He returned the stare and the hint of a smile touched his lips.

“Good. Our sources tell us that the military has discovered a cave of some sort during their latest project to cross the ocean.”

Crossing the ocean? Mar never understood this goal of theirs. The winds and maelstroms that made crossing the sea so difficult were obviously the Lady’s way of telling us that we’re not supposed to cross, so why do we keep trying?

The Senor continued: “A man and an elf fell into the cave together a few days ago and rescue efforts have been… difficult. Instead of simply rescuing the two from the cave, the military has decided to send more people in to further explore the cave, to see where it leads. The exploration team includes the two who fell in first, some additional military, and a small group of humans.”

At this the Senor leaned forward, bringing his hands together in front of him as he leaned onto the desk. He looked at Mar expectantly.

“So,” she began, slowly understanding what this all had to do with her, “you want me to join them and make certain that they don’t mistreat the humans, correct?”

Senor Patch nodded and leaned back again. “Yes, that’s your job. But that’s only part of it. We don’t know what’s down there, and neither do they. Yes, I want you to make certain that they don’t send any humans to their deaths while testing out each new path to make certain it’s safe or anything like that, but also keep your eyes open for any other life that might be intelligent.”

“Other sentient species?” Mar’s mind reeled at the idea. I not only get to be first contact, but also get to be the first to stand up for their rights?

“Yes. You’ve heard the legends of underground civilizations, like dark-skinned elves and mole-creatures. They may be just that—legends and tales. They probably are, in fact, since we’ve never found real proof of creatures living beneath our feet. But just in case, I want you to be there, representing the Lady’s Guaranteed Rights Movement.”

At this, Senor Patch stood up and rose his right fist to eye-level. “For the sake of the Lady, our patron and Mother.”

Mar stood and raised her fist as well, continuing the pledge of the Lagrim. “For all Her children, that they may rise as one.”

The rest they said in unison: “For every race we know and every one we will meet—for them shall we fight, for them shall we speak, and for them shall we serve.”

Senor Patch nodded to Mar. Go and pack your things. You depart tonight. You are dismissed.”

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Uradess Update 2.5
Attempting to Slay the Sword with a Dragon (But Failing)

As Xian and Valias were sneaking down the secret passageway and finding a dragon, Chet, Val, and Ares lounged in the old wizard’s office. Some of them heard footsteps coming from the regular entrance and turned to see a lithe man with a long, pointed goatee coming through the doorway.

Ares immediately began to question his intentions, and soon he revealed that he was a member of that group led by Colin, the dwarf. His name was Salsa and he didn’t realize there was anyone in here.

Then Valias and Xian returned with news of the dragon. Several people sounded worried, and Salsa didn’t believe a word of it. Figuring that they were just exaggerating (and convinced that the rod they were looking for was beyond that passageway), Salsa marched past them and into the passageway.

The party listened intently for many minutes and suddenly Salsa appeared in the doorway.

“There’s a dragon in there!”

The party got itself ready and marched in, with Salsa close behind for some reason. When they arrived in the large chamber of the dragon it was well aware of their presence. Only Xian escaped from the doorway before the obsidian dragon took to the air and spewed liquid flames down the thin hallway.

Ares coaxed the dragon to the ground again and was rewarded with the full attention of the dragon’s dangerous mouth. Several other members of the party maneuvered themselves around the dragon, finding weak points as Ares kept the attention of the head and Xian kept the attention of the tail.

Eventually, once several of the dragon’s spleens were punctured by Valias, the dragon took to the air again, slamming clumsily into the cavernous wall, causing a slight cave-in. The dragon then turned and let loose one final stream of fire before Chet’s magical projectiles brought the beast down for good.

Meanwhile, Salsa was trying to sneak past the party into the next passageway, but was quickly caught by Valias and Xian. His hopes of being the first to grab the rod thwarted, Salsa decided to leave with a few of the dragon’s teeth and a platinum coin for his troubles. In return, he wouldn’t go fetch his party to come and take the rod from them.

Valias led the way down the last passageway and encountered a thick, locked, metal door. Ares immediately rammed the door with all his might. The door shifted slightly and Ares felt quite dazed.

The merry singing of a difficult drinking song still came from the other side of that door. Valias picked the lock and the door fell open (its hinges dislodged from Ares’s assault).

The voice stopped at once. Light streamed into the dark room, revealing a large, stone table covered with various treasures: 3 amulets, 2 rings, a pair of cloaks, a set of gauntlets, a set of bracers, a morning star, a greatsword, a bastard sword, a rapier, a short sword, a quarterstaff, a rock, a rod, and a chest of coins. Everything was magical except for the coins (which all seemed to be gold and silver).

Seeing nobody hiding in the room, Chet said, “Was one fo the swords talking!?”

A voice responded, “What!? How did you know!?”

Eventually they narrowed the voice down to the short sword, which was rather plain-looking except for the subtle ripples that moved along the blade, especially when it spoke or struck something.

Valias took the short sword, and the sword was pleased enough with this new owner enough to reveal that he was, in fact, a +3 short sword. He also claimed to have no idea what the other stuff was. He’d been stuck in this vault for maybe a thousand years or so, and didn’t exactly get familiar with the old wizard’s toys that much. “I mean, seriously,” the sword said, “I was owned by a wizard. How many wizards do you see swinging around swords?”

Ares remained unconvinced.

Chet decided to take the weapons out to test them out on the dragon’s corpse. All they managed to learn was that the morning star froze the beast and the rapier caused an electric discharge. The gauntlets gave its owner greater strength, too. Chet tried to activate the rod and eventually managed to conjure a table full of food. The party ate heartily and felt full (but nothing else).

Ares decided to try and drag some more information out of the sword while he had the chance. He held it and growled at it and began to bang it against the wall until the sword told him, quite forcefully, to put him down. Ares did (he had no choice), but he then proceeded to try to torture the sword in other ways. Eventually Chet took the sword and tried to shove it up the dead dragon’s arse (or what he figured to be its arse). Again, the sword demanded to be put down. Chet did, and he suddenly wasn’t as interested in owning the thing anymore.

The sword, quite offended, decided it didn’t want to talk to those people anymore.

In any case, the party now possess the rod they had been looking for on behalf of that rich-looking ogre. Now they just need to get back.

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Uradess Update 2.4.1
The Torn Asunder Association

My Journal, entry 87 (Lastday, St. Allie Waning, 1237)

I don’t usually write while out on a job. I prefer reflecting on the mission after its completion with both my impressions of the job and its conclusion—the final meeting with the employer.

Today, however, we are to remain at camp, and I’ve decided to write to pass the time. This is partly because of a group that arrived yesterday and partly because we’ve been at this job for over a week with no luck.

Honestly, if my incantations weren’t telling me otherwise I would believe we were on a wild goose chase. The tombs of the Magekings of old are lost, and to have the location of one resurface suddenly is disturbingly unlikely. I will have to ask the baron where he got this information, whether we find it or not.

We can survive here for several more weeks if need be. If supplies begin to run low I can trek to Port Nocturne and back within two days. The biggest concern for me is the other groups apparently out here.

We met the first a few days ago. They attacked us and we fought them off. They seem to be frightened of spells, so I’m glad that we had Mick with us. They ganged up on Simon, apparently thinking him our most dangerous ally. Unfortunately for them, we are all dangerous. Even little Brad is becoming dangerous on the battlefield ever since Mick started tutoring her.

Anyway, yesterday we continued to comb the area, with Grace at camp playing her music so we can measure our distance as we spiral outward. That afternoon we heard Grace stop playing, so we rushed back to camp. Sure enough, Grace and Brad were being held hostage by another rival group. Mick and I arrived together and tried to disable some of them, but they seemed to shrug of our disabling spells.

Luckily, it didn’t come to violence, although it may have been close. The other group was, indeed, looking for the Tireless Mageking’s tower, but they weren’t looking for trouble as well. Some of them seemed a bit shady, but once Brad and the thin, long haired one completed a trade I decided taht they were a bit reasonable. And though Brad may have come out worse on the trade, at least it wasn’t her bow. I would have had to intervene in that case, but then Brad wouldn’t have let it go either way.

They offered us a candle to ward off the undead at night (and it works!), and in return I offered them today to search for the tower. Mostly we just needed a rest, though. And what is the likelihood that they’ll find in a day what we haven’t found in a week?

Perhaps we will come to work together in the coming days.

In the meantime, the visions continue to burn within me at night, especially in the forest for some reason. Kenchalow, Kenchalow, what is this name that writes itself upon my eyelids at night? I envy the clerics who know the beings they serve, their vaguely kind Goddess, their vaguely fatherly Forger, and their vaguely militant Destroyer. Even a vague god is better than one that might not even exist, is it not? Than one whose nonexistance threatens to drive me mad?

Kenchalow. Ken Cha Low. Kin zha lo? I don’t even know if it’s spelled right. But I will find you one day, if only to find blessed silence.

Colin Weatherstorm Founder, Torn Asunder Association

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Uradess Update 2.4
The Moment You've Been Waiting For

Ugh, I have to start editing my Desi posts.

Anyway, D&D happened. Several people were absent, but we managed.

The party slept in the necromancers’ lair and left with the dawn as the necromancers started getting ready for bed. (They’re a nocturnal sort.)

They traveled for another day, heading in a vaguely southwestern direction. In the morning they decided to search for a path of some sort. Several of them found paths, but only Valias found one that lead consistently southwest. It wasn’t really so much a path, in fact, so much as peculiar way the trees and brush were positioned that made it an easy track to follow. Perhaps it was indeed a path once, but if so there was no evidence.

In any case, the party traveled down Valias’s Way for another uneventful day. On the third day out from the necromancers’ lair they began to hear music from up ahead. It was faint harp music, and they seemed to be heading toward the source. After a half an hour or so they heard a voice accompanying the harp, soft and melodic. A lady’s voice, in fact. They couldn’t make out the words at first, but as they got closer the words got clearer. The musician changed songs as they traveled, some old favorites some new. For instance, a recent Chrollian ballad:

They came from the Desert On tired horses, strong and true. And the town of Iel, Saved twice in one night, through and through! Brigands bow low to their mighty commands, As do the Dead, with their terrible hands: And such is the thrice god-blessed crew.

They met with the Lady, As they are well-known in Lorain. They were given a task In the mountains across the plains. The ancient tomb of the Drummer of Blood. Darkness, darkness comes, the terrible flood. They cease not for rattling chains.

The desert followed them. Its king attacked during their quest. The Nation of Plains gasped, Hope was lost as they’d beat the best! The warriors and their leader, the Knight Returned and in moments set things a-right, Now none can deny them their rest.

The party came to a clearing and saw a lovely hobgoblin playing her music on a stump in the middle of a small camp. She saw them as well and stopped playing. The only weapons and armor were nearby, but out of arm’s reach.

She greeted them warmly and Aries, seeing a particularly stunning female sample of his proud race, strutted up to the stump, put a leg up and asked her in Gobbledeguk something to the effect of “Hey little lady, do you happen to know where we can find a tower near here?”

She smiled politely and scooted herself away slightly. “You’ll have to talk about that with Colin,” she replied.

Soon the conversation turned to Tastish. They realized that she was a part of another group looking for the Rod of Need and that they hadn’t found it yet. Aries asked if they had followed the path, to which she replied, “What path?” Souril quickly shut Aries up. Once the party realized that this might be a trap for the rest of the group to surround them, Aries had his axe to the lady’s neck, waiting for this “Colin” guy to show up. She informed them that Colin may take a half an hour or so to show up, though, and Aries wasn’t willing to wait in that position for that long. So instead they just took the lady’s nearby equipment.

Meanwhile, as Souril’s suggestion, Xian broke away and found a tree nearby to climb and see what was further down the path. It seemed to be winding toward another huge tree, a few miles away. Xian saw a movement out of the corner of his eye and just managed to dodge a small rock flying towards him. He noticed a small goblin laughing at him from a nearby branch. When the goblin realized it was discovered, it shot down the tree and made tracks toward the camp. Xian gave chance and captured the little gobbo, asking who it was with (Colin), what it was doing (looking around), why it threw a rock at him (because he was concentrating so hard), and telling it that it could have hurt him (nuh-uh!).

Xian returned to camp, holding the gobbo up by the scruff of its neck, the gobbo looking sullen at being caught. The lady of the clearing recognized the gobbo right away.

“Brad! What happened?”

“Ah,” said Xian. “So it’s a boy.”

The lady shook her head. “No, Brad’s a girl.”

Valias, meanwhile, took an interest in Brad’s “longsword” which, it turns out, looked to him like a really nice short sword, despite the pink and purple flowery designs on the hilt. He took it from the helpless gobbo and put it in his belt, much to her loud dismay.

Valias tried to find out if the sword had any magical properties (“it’s enhanced,” is all Brad could tell him), and Aries took the gobbo from Xian and shook in hopes of getting more information.

It was about that time that Aries felt his limbs try to lock up. He broke free and looked around for his antagonist. At the same time, a beam from the forest left Xian feeling very tired, though he was certain he’d shaken off the worst of it.

Apparently, while everyone was focused on Brad a dwarf had approached from the south and a thin, almost fragile-looking man appeared from the north. Aries turned on the man, snarling. “So YOU must be this Colin guy, huh?”

The frail man jumped, shook his head and pointed at the dwarf. “No no, that’s him over there!”

And so it was. Colin did not bow before Aries’ threats, but asked him to let his little friend go. Aries did, and Brad ran to the other lady. When Colin asked them if everything was alright, Brad pointed at Valias and told him about her sword.

Valias defended himself, saying that he wasn’t going to steal it, just… how much did she want for it? He was willing to pay. Perhaps a shiny copper piece?

Brad proved somewhat more shrewd than that, managing two platinum, a dagger, a gold piece and a copper ring out of it.

Having witnessed a successful trade, Colin and his thin friend entered the campsite fully, willing to talk things through. They had apparently also encountered the violent group from before and fought them off. They had been searching for the tower in this area for several days now. Colin apparently had the ability to locate things like that, but he was having trouble pinpointing its location exactly. It should be just near this campsite, but obviously there is no tower here. Perhaps something is distorting his senses which, considering that it’s supposed to be the treasure of an ancient archmage, seems likely.

Xian offered Colin the shortened remains of one of the anti-undead zone candles. Colin accepted, this being a pleasant departure from the scene he found when he first found the party. In exchange for this gift he would allow the party an entire day to search for the tower without their interference. After that, it would be whoever finds it first. He even offered to let the party stay in their campsite, but the party declined.

They continued on down Valias’s Way and, by late afternoon, they had found the remains of the tower at the base of one of the giant trees. What was left of the upper levels had collapsed against the side of the tree and seemed oen with it. The base seemed like a simple, round, single-story building at the base of the tree. The door had long since rotted away, and on the inside they found the dusty remains of a room with a spiraling staircase leading up to the “roof”, a broken bookshelf, and an ancient desk.

Valias soon found a hidden door beneath the desk, and the party lowered themselves down by ladder, except for Aries who slipped and fell rather painfully. Aries fell again down a pit trap that Valias missed as they made their way through the underground passage. Valias continued alone as the rest of the party helped Aries out of the pit. He disabled a pressure plate he found further along and was working on the lock of a door by the time the party caught up.

On the other side of the door was an office, preserved and intact and lit by torches on the walls that burned with green flames. Otherwise, the walls were mostly covered by bookshelves lined with all sorts of books. The spellbooks on the shelves were all blank, despite their titles, and must have erased themselves somehow. Most of the rest was history books, poems, and such. “Recent history of Frostbowl, TwA 158”, “The Spells of Gannor the Harsh”, “Faith and Power”, etc. There was also an alchemy table, which Valias relieved of anything useful, and a desk with a large painting of a woman on the wall behind it. There were two large books on the desk, one a spellbook the other possibly a spellbook, but apparently sealed shut. There was also an open diary on the desk with a poem scribbled on it:

My greatest Treasure has proven Its worth. It gave me what I needed to survive. Her plan it was to bury me in earth She risked hersef to save me from the hive. My Treasure gave me words that I could say: A way to sway a heart I start to see Is not to cold and bitter yet to sway. She wept and smiled, I swept her off her feet. So now my Treasure lies in lock and key. I hope the best for you if It you find. By finding HOPE and FAITH and CHIVALRY The path to Treasure certainly will wind. But bound words on the shelf is not the end, So fight well and be safe courageous friend!

Xian quickly noted the odd letters (lightly boxed in the actual copy) and wrote them down: “readthebookstoopenthedoor”.

“Read the book stoopen the door?” he said.

Souril corrected him. “Read the books to open the door. ‘Stoopen’ isn’t a word.”

They were prepared to start reading every book in the office, but Chet, staring at the page, noted that there were three odd things about the poem. The odd letters, obviously, was one. Also, all instances of the “Treasure” were capitalized, as were all references to it as “It”. There were also three words that were all capitalized in the line “By reading HOPE and FAITH and CHIVALRY”.

Xian asked everyone to look for books by those names and he remembered seeing one called “Faith and Power”. He found it again and pulled it. Something clicked somewhere. Valias found another one, “Hope Floats”. He didn’t pick it up right away, but took the books around it off the shelf, looked at it from every angle, and was dismayed when Souril simply plucked it off the shelf. There was another click from somewhere. After a little more searching Souril found one called “Chivalry Rising” and pulled it. A section of bookshelves descended into the floor, opening up a path. Valias immediately started down the path and found, after some walking, a large chamber complete with a large black dragon, preening itself contentedly. It did not seem to notice Valias, particularly because it was preoccupied and not looking around, partially because there was the sound of someone singing, a male voice, coming from the cave beyond the dragon. The singing voice seemed distorted by distance and echoes, but it wasn’t a particularly good singing voice in any case.

Valias snuck back to the office chamber.

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Desi d'Mundii V
Black Water

As Desi fell into the unknown he thought to himself, “What was I thinking?”

He wasn’t known for being particularly adventurous, yet he simply couldn’t wait to see this hole in the ground, see what his man had uncovered. He was simply drawn to it, and he didn’t know why. As he lowered himself down the hole it slowly widened as he lowered himself, back against one wall, legs against the other. Out to his sides, though, the hole widened beyond his sight quickly, and he realized that this was more or a fissure than a hole. A crack-like air pocket just below the surface, which the mole machines or whatever the gnomes were bringing would have found it anyway. This was probably just a fault line or something.

But then Desi ran out of wall. He braced himself against the sides of the hole more securely and brought out his flashlight. The dirt and earth around him looked surprisingly loose. Below him he was the slack of his rope swaying back and forth over a sea of black. His flashlight wasn’t penetrating far enough to see the bottom. It seemed like Desi was looking down from the crack of a ceiling of a huge cavern.

His muscles were starting to ache from holding his position. He adjusted himself to put away the flashlight, and that was when he slipped.

He shouldn’t have fallen far, but the rope was longer than Desi had expected and the man above hadn’t secured the rope on anything to reduce the slack. Desi grabbed hold of the rope as he fell, and when the rope went taut it whipped out of his hands painfully, with a distressing pop from his right shoulder, but it probably saved him from the rope around his waist snapping his spine.

He hung there for a few moments, then started falling again for reasons he couldn’t begin to imagine. Surely the man hadn’t let him go intentionally, did he?

What was I thinking?

Falling into an abyss was more disorienting than it was horrifying. When you jump from a building you know what you’re getting yourself into. You see the ground rushing up to meet you, you see the sun watching you fall away, you catch glimpses of things through the windows as you pass by… Or at least that’s how Desi imagined it.

In the darkness the fall felt longer than it probably was. He had no idea what awaited him below. In fact, he wasn’t even certain which way was down anymore, though he didn’t think he was tumbling. It was just a silent existence in perfect darkness.

Then, water.

It was deep. He didn’t hit head-first, but close enough to send it ringing painfully. Somehow, between the darkness and his hurting head, Desi guess at “up” and swam, breaking the surface and taking a deep breath before he heard a second splash nearby, and suddenly the rope around his waist pulled him down again.

Desi fought his way up again for another breath before realizing that the second splash must have been the man that was holding his rope. He dove into the water again, swimming toward the sound of that splash, feeling for the rope that would guide him to the body. He found a part of the rope, pulled it, followed it, pulled it again. He found what felt like a body, with the rope around its waist. Desi positioned himself under it, held on, and kicked, propelling them upwards as best he could. A little more, he told himself. The surface is just a little further. A little further. A little further. Further. Too far. Too far. I won’t make it, I can’t save him, I’ll have to leave him, I won’t- and then he broke the surface, just as he was about to leave the man behind.

He didn’t know which way to head, but he didn’t think the man was breathing, so he picked a direction and swam, awkwardly trying to keep the man afloat alongside him. Eventually his feet touched bottom, and he followed the upward slope until he could lay the man down safely on the ground.

Desi quickly began to give the man the Breath of Life, feeding him air while trying to coerce the water out of his lungs.

And when the man started coughing up water and breathing on his own, Desi sat back and wondered once again, What was I thinking?

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Uradess Update 2.3
Sparking the Wrath

Last session the party continued through the forest for a few days until they reached one of the gargantuan trees that seem to loom over the rest of the trees in the forest. Xian the monk climbed up to see if he could spot the Tireless Mageking’s tower, but could not see anything but more trees for miles around.

As he descended, an arrow struck the tree near Ares’s head and a band of warriors charged them from the forest without warning.

They seemed to be led by a somewhat short and stout ogre with an almost over-sized Falchion. To other ogres he must be comically short for a full-grown man, but his keen eyes and commanding presence (not to mention the ease with which he wielded that huge sword) might make wiser ogres think twice about taunting him.

He commanded two other ogres: one a calm, solid type of ogre, the other one a hulking brute, head and shoulders above everyone else, with a face that never lost its dumbfounded stare. There was also a brutish bobbo, a weaselly man with a bow, and a quick little gobbo that flitted back and forth, taking pot-shots with its crossbow during the battle.

The battle started grimly, as the two fighters were quickly outmatched by the sheer strength of these warriors. However, some quick thinking by the Val the cleric and Chet the bard disabled, stunned, and confused the warriors. The aprty was able to recover and turn the tables within seconds, and the warriors’ leader called for a retreat. They all broke and ran in different directions except for the hulking ogre.

Knocked to the ground, exhausted and bloody, the ogre gave in. Ares swung at the ogre again anyway, quite pissed off at the whole situation—they attack without warning, nearly kill us, and we don’t even get to kill one back!?

Xian knocked the ogre out before he could take back his weapon and exact his revenge on Ares for the dishonorable blow which, oddly, was not quite enough to finish the ogre off. Chet pulled him to the side and woke the ogre at sword-point once Ares was convinced that a living thing can provide information that the dead can not (and they got the ogre’s equipment already, anyway).

The ogre woke and told the party of a camp of people not far from there, less than a day away. The Müntanamos (as the warrior group was called) were planning to raid the place soon when they came across the party. The ogre, named Cosbo, told Chet this information in exchange for sparing his life. He would accept no further aid in order to avoid incurring further debt.

The party moved on, leaving Cosbo alone next to the giant tree.

Several hours later Xian climbed a tree and spotted a clearing up ahead. They approached and found a cave entrance set into the side of a small hill. The hill was surrounded by a stone fence which contained two rather large zombies, eyes shining in the gloom of the coming sunset. The zombies noticed the party and approached, but seemed unable to scale the chest-high fence. Before the party could start picking them off, a person in a black cloak emerged from the cave.

The person “deactivated” the zombies and invited the party inside to speak with his master. The party learned that the cave was inhabited by Master Rigozo, an ancient necromancer that came to this “uninhabited” island to practice his craft and experiment, and his three apprentices: Bosly, Shinjo, and Paul. Rigozo had lived on the island for 60 years, experimenting and leaving for supplies every few months (occasionally finding an apprentice or two), but he had never seen anything resembling a tower on this island. He also didn’t realize there was a town on this island, however, since he didn’t make it a point to thoroughly explore the island. The island is filled with 60 years of old “experiments”, which adds to their solitude.

He does recall something like ruins somewhere further southwest, though. That may be a good place to start. Paul may know more, but he’s been out hunting for a few days and Rigozo doesn’t know when he’ll be back.

Chet informed Rigozo that other people are in the forest as well and that they were attacked earlier that day. Rigozo promised to keep his eyes open.

In return for the friendly chat and understanding, Rigozo offers the party a place to stay for the night as well as a few candles to ward the zombies of the forest away at night once they continue their journey.


Meanwhile, that same night, the leader of the Müntanamos, Oros Ut Rez’Et, made notes in the spaces of his ledger:

Found another group today. They beat us too. Or, rather, their foul magicks beat us. We had the upper-hand, but it’s difficult to fight what you don’t understand. When I was suddenly surrounded by the sights and sounds of war, and when my head rang hard from some sort of explosion, I knew it was time to retreat.

Next time I see them we’ll have a plan. I’ll tell Dingo to keep an eye out. in case we face that group again.

I could kill Silus for firing that shot that warned them of our approach, though. It might have all been different if he hadn’t caught their attention. I’ll have to discipline him later.

Or maybe I should let Cosbo do it. We found him, beaten and bloody and practically bare-assed leaning up against that tree. Luckily I don’t trust Cosbo with much money.

But Cosbo isn’t much one for revenge, usually, and I can’t expect him to do my job.

I n any case, I’ll have to make a note to destroy those two groups some day, especially if they ever get in our way again. Hopefully they’ll meet and end each other here in this damnable forest, but I won’t count on it.

In any case, the Müntanamos is finished with Onin Habith Island. May Raphonse choke on his damnable rod.

Gandy, Mamby, Silus, Cosbo, Dingo, and myself are all accounted for. No casualties, so at least it’s not a total failure. Oros the Mountain Logged: Watersday of Waning St. Allie, 1237 TwA

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Desi d'Mundii IV
It's Just Underground

“Stem Officer Gondre’Fashaemuela reporting from the new pit, sir. Stem Officer Han’Decivieri just reported that his mans found some kinda hole in the ground and told me to tell someone. He said it’s pretty deep and he’s gonna go check it out real quick, and to send someone after his if something happens. I don’t know what he’s talking about, but it sounds kinda dangerous. Should I go stop him, or-

“But sir! If he should hurt himself-

“I see, sir. I don’t understand, but I sure know my place, yes sir. I’ll go back and tend to my mans, and I do hope you send someone along soon. He’s my friend, you know.”


Ren couldn’t find an easy place to dig after all, so he was struggling with a larger stone with the other men when the supervisor returned…

Alone? Already?

The supervisor approched the hole and looked around until he spotted Ren and waved him over. The other men glanced at Ren warily, and one waved him along.

“We got this, go on an’ see what he’s wantin’.”

So Ren came back to the hole he’d found. The supervisor was sitting at the lip of the hole, wrapping a rope around his waist. The hole was big enough for him to slide in one way, being a wide hole, almost like a crack in the ground. He handed Ren the other end of the rope.

“I’m going down a bit.”

Ren frowned. “Why in the hells would you want to do that? You have no idea what’s down there, and you have machines that can find that sort of thing out for you.” At least, Ren was pretty sure they did. Hovering monitor cameras we in development to patrol the cities last Ren had heard, and he hadn’t been to a city in almost ten years.

“Maybe so,” said the supervisor, “but I’d rather see for myself.” With that, he hopped down the shaft, falling slowly, using the sides of the shaft to slow his descent.

Ren looked into the hole, wrapping the rope around his waist as he watched his supervisor bob his way down, down, down. The rope still had plenty of slack when the supervisor stopped moving. Ren saw a little light come on some thirty yards down and guessed that the supervisor had taken out a flashlight. The oher men had managed to move that boulder several yards by then, and were nearing the edge of the pit.

“It’s opened pretty wide down here, and the falling rocks are splashing into something below,” said the surpervisor. His voice echoed up the shaft clearly. “Maybe it’s an undergound lake? I’m going to try to come up now. I don’t think- SHIT!”

The sound of falling rocks echoed up the shaft, and what was left of the rope coiled at Ren’s feet was rapidly slipping into the hole. Ren didn’t have time to get a good grip on the rope on his waist before the weight of the falling elf on the other end pulled him head-first into the deep hole. He raised his hands to keep his head from hitting anything hard on the way down, but he couldn’t see and he ended up tumbling painfully down into the darkness. One of his arms (he wasn’t sure which at the time) hit something jagged and he heard something crack.

Eventually he felt himself free-falling, and the sinking feeling in his guts as he fell into the unknown was worse than the pain of tumbling through the shaft.

He could almost hear the rope tumbling into the water before he splashed in headfirst himself. Despite already being surrounded by the deepest black Ren had ever known, somehow everything went dark when he hit the water.

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Desi d'Mundii III
The Shaft

“I hear that, despite that fact that the people on the other side are rustic at best, they actually war no more than we do. Possibly less.”

“You don’t say.”

“That, and they don’t have the means of killing massive numbers of people at a time either. They aren’t anywhere close, in fact.”

“Of course. Are you coming to some kind of point?”

“Well, yes, sir. It’s just that… will we really be seen as the light of civilization? Will conquering them really seem like we’re doing them a favor? It’s possible that they’re more civilized, in truth, than we are.”

“Are you really that naive, son? Do you think we really give two fucks about enlightening those savages? We’re going over there for cheap labor and resources. Those bleeding-heart tree-fuckers can go and teach and preach civilization all they want over there once we’re done, but at the end of the day they’ll be our slaves just as surely as we’ve made slaves of them here. As if we would ever step down and treat them as equals, no matter how educated they may get.”

“Of course, sir. I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I was just wondering if we can expect those, ah, bleeding-hearts to make some move against us”

“Don’t you worry about them, son. They may be hopeless idealists, but they’re Elves all the same. When the humans try to rise against us violently they’ll fight with us, just you wait and see.”

“I hope I never do, sir.”


The human had been born into this work, it seemed. It was his life, as surely as it was the life of horses to be ridden and pigs to be slaughtered. Strange, then, that he couldn’t quite accept it.

At least, his fellows thought so. They called him Ren which, he supposed, was short for Renegade. It wasn’t the name his father had given him, but it would do. It was a word in the common language of humans, which few Elves would admit to knowing, and it was a shorthand besides. Still, the elves could see Ren’s rebellious streak too, which was good because otherwise all his efforts would have been wasted.

Ren didn’t always immediately try to infuriate his masters, though. It was only when they were stupid that he would turn his attention to mucking up their operations. Sure he’d get lashed, sure he’d get time in isolation, and sure he’d end up at a worse assignment… but it was worth it to be transferred.

He could count the number of good supervisors he’d worked with on one hand. Unfortunately, those good ones would eventually get promoted or transferred, and Ren would be reassigned once again.

Ren knew he was approaching the bottom of the barrel when he started working for the military. That was ten years ago, as soon as he came of age by the Elves’ human standards. Nothing under the age of twenty could possibly possess any sort of mental ability, much less be entrusted to army detail. So thought these creatures, who lived an eternity and a half. But Ren knew better. He knew he was smarter than most of them, but last time he suggested it he was flayed to within an inch of his life.

So here he was, the bottom of the barrel, looking for a new half-decent master to spend a few years with, perhaps a decade if Ren was lucky.

He wasn’t likely to find it here, though. This work was overseen by Stem Officers. A Stemo only looked up. A Stemo was one step away from Brancho, and from there a Limbo, and from there a Trunko, and so on. Always the next promotion, and even the biggest ‘tards made it to Brancho.

So Ren barely paid his new supervisor any attention at all, just went right to work with his shovel. Poking, prodding, feeling around at the dirt of this pit they were digging up. That Stemo wasn’t worth toying with, but Ren would be damned if he was going to shovel those big rocks around if he didn’t have to.

But then one of the prods felt different.

Ren looked down at the spot he had just poked with his shovel. Nothing, just a regular hole, an up-turned smile like the shovel usually leaves in the ground. Still, he could have sworn it had pushed the shovel back up at him.

Ren noticed his supervisor approaching. Coming to tell me to get to work, Ren thought. But then he felt a slight rumble at his feet, and looked down at the hole he made.

“What-” started the supervisor, using the common, human, language. But Ren interrupted, speaking fluent Elven.

“This hole, I think there’s something strange about it,” he said. The supervisor stopped and blinked.

Here it comes, thought Ren. “No speak man-talk,” he would say. Or maybe he’ll just hit me for daring to speak their pure and beautiful language with my unclean, savage mouth. The Elves were racist in general, but the military ones could be th most cruel about it.

To Ren’s surprise, though, the supervisor’s surprise was replaced by curiosity instead of anger. “What do you mean by strange?” Elven, directed to me, a human? Well, that’s got to be a first.

Before Ren could explain, though, the hole suddenly erupted into a geyser of dirt and small rocks. Ren and the supervisor jumped back, protecting their faces from the debris. The dust blew out for several seconds, wafting toward a group of workers, sending them into a coughing fit.

Then it was over, and Ren went to have a closer look. The hole had widened, perhaps two hand spans in diameter. What’s more, the hole was gushing out

“Air?” said the supervisor, running his hand back and forth above the hole. It was very cool air, and it was streaming out quickly.

“Where is it coming from?” said Ren aloud. Is this land over an air pocket of some sort, or…?”

The supervisor glanced at Ren, looked back at the hole, and nodded. “I think you’re right. Something is under here, and the air coming out doesn’t smell like natural gas. It smells… breathable.”

The supervisor (“Han,” his namebadge said) marched off without another word.

Ren stood there somewhat dazed. First spoken to in Elven by an Elf, then complimented and left alone next to some weird hole in the ground he accidentally discovered?

The bottom edges of Ren’s vision wavered a bit, like his world was trying to flip upside down or something.

He decided to get back to work and act like nothing happened. He’d had enough rebellion for one day.

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Uradess Update 2.2
The Power of a Sunset

The party is currently sleeping in the branches of the large trees of the forests of Onin Habith Island. They sleep restlessly, trying to ignore the morbid moaning and the shuffling steps of the undead below, on the forest floor. Such is how nights will be in the forest of Onin Habith, where the dead walk the forests at night. Have the two groups ahead of them found a way to avoid the zombies as well? Are they fighting their way through the night? Are they even still alive?

Have they found the Tower of the Tireless Mageking already?

Meanwhile, the group that the party fought that morning bury their dead comrade. The sun has set on the life of Gansel Ut Sorainon, and that is what the group’s leader, Heidi Ut Sorainon, writes of in her diary that night.


Gansel is dead.

It happened during a fight with another group that was after the same treasure we were sent to find. I wanted to eliminate the competition, convince them to go home.

We started with the advantage. Those men were slow to react, and Miles managed a good shot at the big hobbo before he even knew what hit him. Dorothy managed to bind another for a moment, too, but the advantage didn’t last long. Soon we were all in the fray, except for Dorothy and Miles who, by some strange sorcery, were distracted by a group of badgers for several critical moments. Dorothy couldn’t get to Gansel, that idiot.

He put himself right in the middle of them, which is how he has always been: a little too rash for a monk, too impatient, but usually smart enough to get out of it.

But he was pummeled on all sides, and he realized he lost just before… He had that look in his eye, too. He was impatient, sure, but he knew when he was beaten. That’s how we met, after all. He was just about to forfeit, but he never had the chance.

That man came up from behind and butchered him. He was hurt and they knew it, but they showed no mercy at all. I think… I think that man enjoyed it! I don’t know that, but it certainly didn’t seem to bother them one bit that they killed my friend. That they ended the life of a man who has been following me for almost three years.

It’s like… they didn’t recognize us as people. We were just a means to an end for them, an obstacle in their way. It’s a good thing for them that Brutus called the battle to a halt. We may have all died if the battle had continued, but I would have gladly taken several of them down with me. Let them see what it’s like to lose a companion, to never hear their voice again, or to never see their smile again.

Maybe father was right. Maybe other races really are all savages, too far gone to redeem.

But no, that’s not right. Brutus is proof of that, a human more noble on his own than most of the ogre race combined. Dorothy is a lucky woman.

Oh, but Gansel, I knew how you thought of me, but I did nothing. I think you knew that it could never be, too, but you followed me anyway. For that, I’ll shed my tears and recount you, as far as I knew.

We met three years ago: you, an over-eager monk from the Sorainon ‘Stery on your very first pilgrimage, thought you could defend the country from my words using your fists. I showed you, there, in that dusty inn, exactly what I thought of my country’s ideals. Miles thought the whole things quite a laugh, the way I wiped the floor with you.

Ah, but Miles was never that fond of you, was he? None of them were, I suppose. The humans, Brutus, Seth, and Dorothy, you distanced yourself from them. I think some of the Sorainon doctrines stuck with you, after all. And Miles, well, I guess you just weren’t as intellectual a companion as he’d like. He has such high standards, I know.

But you were a good companion, and I will remember you well.

Brutus tells me I shouldn’t seek revenge for Gansel’s death. He believes it was an accident, a casualty of the sort that we risk in every battle.

I’ll believe him for now. But I do hope we run into those people again.

Maybe on opposite sides of a real battlefield. Brutus’s blessed strike did hit home after all, didn’t it? Who’s to say the intentions of those men.

Who’s to say?

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Desi d'Mundii II
A Bright One

“Musi’s positively giddy,” said Fachi.

Desi grimaced, but said nothing. Fachi had been trying to find out what happened at the meeting for over a week now, and although Desi knew he was patient enough to pull the story out of Desi eventually, Desi wasn’t going to make it easy on him. The nosey bastard can suffer for a while.

“You’re not going to make it easy for me, are you?”

Bastard’s a mind reader, too. Or, he just knows me too well, thought Desi.

“Anyway, we’ve got to go on duty. Our mans have a job to do, and they won’t always work quietly while you’re away.”

Desi grunted and stood up from his desk. He grabbed his bow, his gun, and his sword, strapping them on while Fachi lumbered off to get his own equipment.

Fechi was half-recent with a rifle since he didn’t have to move much to use it, but bows were beyond him and he couldn’t find a swordbelt to fit around his waist. Few elves had his waistline, and those that didn’t didn’t serve in the military. The powers that be had decided that Fachi was intimidating enough with a rifle alone, so he didn’t have to carry a sword.

Desi and Fachi walked together to the manshouses and led their mans to the pit. It was weird, really, working on his own project like this. Still, it was no different from normal work, except that Desi knew the reason for the work this time.

“This is pretty weird, though, isn’t it?” said Fachi, waving his mans into the pit. “This isn’t a trench like usual. It’s just a pit, a hole in the ground. Right here in the middle of the country! I’ve heard of contingency plans, but we’re not even at war with Giandus or Amaroada right now and there’s no way they could make it this far anyway.”

“We’re digging a hole under the ocean,” said Desi, smiling oddly. He ignored his mans as they passed. They knew what they were doing, despite what some elves thought.

Fachiburst out laughing. “Oh, right, that’s the way to do it! Right on under! Should only take about four generations of mans to get to the other side, eh? No, I think we’re burying something here. Maybe another missile silo, eh? We’ve got the most, but there’s always room for more!”

Desi smiled as said, “Yeah, maybe so.”

Desi noticed how the mans balked at the idea of digging all the way across the ocean, all their lives and their children’s lives and their grandchildren’s lives. Don’t worry, you silly brutes. Machines will be doing most of the work.

Desi and Fachi walked down into the pit after their mans, then broke off toward their details.

Desi watched his mans for a while once they got to their spot. They worked hard, you had to hand it to them. This was a particularly rocky zone, with several large rocks that blocked their downward progress. Desi felt somewhat sorry for the mans, but this was the price they had to pay for the food and shelter and enlightenment they would receive from working in elven lands. Back-breaking work for the men, housekeeping work for the women, and small agricultural oddjobs for the children who were old enough to work. That’s how it is for them here, and that’s all they know now.

Not very enlightening, though, is it?

One of the mans caught Desi’s eye. He hadn’t seen this one before, that he remembered. Must be a new recruit or a transfer. Desi made a note to look into his record. He was a tendency to pick up other people’s cast-offs and troublemakers.

What was he poking at with his shovel? What was he looing for? Why wasn’t he digging like the others

Desi decided to go find out.

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