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tom.morrow

Sacred Interventions

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In light of a small mod I'm working on, I decided to release
this background fictional story, which will gradually present
parts of the mod in progress.
The next part of this story will also feature a screenshot.
A shape somewhat familiar
Part 1: Answering the call

 

Myra was riding hard, following the tracks of a large party, that had raided the area
in passing. Numerous Houses, quite a few Farms and even a small village, have been pillaged
and in some cases completely burned down. Of those few who had resisted, none was alive.
Those who fled spoke of a large group of six to seven fists in total, 30 to 35 strong,
making this almost a small army. And that was only the beginning. Even more incredible
were the reports of their composition, mostly Humans and Elfs but including Orcs,
Goblins and a few fists of Kobolds. On top of that the group had at least 3 Trolls.
Of course she had crosschecked this information by questioning unrelated individuals
and verified it by studying the numerous marks left by the raiders passage.
It seems the group was either well prepared, or had otherwise aquired carts,
and several of which, judging by the deep tracks, were heavy loaded.
Following the trail winding through the wilderness between Clearview and Bluestonbury,
Myra reached this burned down site, the remains of a former forge and a small shelter
adjacent to the lake, where a man was sitting on the ground, surrounded by devastation.
"May the Creator shelter those who no longer dwell amongst us, master blacksmith,
and grant you the strength and perseverance to overcome and rebuild
what today was destroyed" she greeted him, raising a hand and offering a blessing.
"Welcome and thank you for your kindness sister, but to be honest, what was lost,
taken today, may well be irreplaceable. And the full extent of which, we may never
find out anymore. I am Sandar Hekleniel, scholar and inventor, not blacksmith. Uhm...
I would offer you a seat to rest but under the circumstances... you understand..."
the man replied making a round gesture and looking completely abashed.
"My name is Myra, master Sandar, rank 93 Seeker of the Order, dispatched to investigate
the reported band raiding the area, and on their track since day before yesterday.
If you could offer a brief account of the incident, if any one was hurt or taken,
and a list of missing valuables, it would help my investigation. I will do my best
to return captives and any items liberated from the raiders."
With a heavy sigh and a half hearted look around the burned-down area, the man replied
"I had to leave for the night because... err... brief, yes, well... I was not present
when this happened, and there shouldn't have been any one else here either.
There are no bodies and no blood so I assume no one was hurt. As for missing valuables,
well... missing are 8 parts of armor, making a complete set, one very valuable notebook,
3 books and various notes, designs and sketches, all single pages.
Of course, the notebook, the books and pages may have been destroyed in the fire,
but the armor was definitely taken."
While he spoke, Myra took a careful round of the place noting the tracks and footprints
and trying to envision the incident. After completing her detailed investigation
she recounted the list
"Missing: one 8-part armor set, 4 books and several single page. I also need a description
of the armor, in case I recover any of the parts I would like to return them to you."
"Yes, well... The armor was completely new, shiny metal, but unadorned otherwise.
You see, I recently discovered two containers that were holding various pieces of metal
along with a notebook, which contained detailed instructions on how to combine them.
This resulted in 8 parts of full set of armor of extraordinary rare craftmanship,
made in form and shape to fit a seraphim.
But the missing notebook is far more valuable than either the armor or my personal notes.
That notebook contained the diary of a family ancestor, with invaluable information
about an age long gone and forgotten, almost mythical. A terrible loss to my family.
I have searched the burned shed and forge, but was unable to find any traces.
It may still be intact in the hands of the thieves and I would give anything
to get it back. Besides, it is of no use to anyone, since it is written in an ancient
family dialect and also encrypted. Equally useless to anyone would be the armor
since it was designed with an interesting lock, you cannot unlock and wear it,
unless you know the trick to. It needs pressure applied, on 2 different spots at once,
along with a specific twist of the parts. To be able to unlock it, one has to know
those spots and the twist. None would just discover it by chance, you see? "
"I see, the armor and the notebook, those are the items of most value, and between them
the notebook is by far more valuable. Well master Sandar, if you have nothing else
of importance to add, I will be on my way. The band has a good start on me, even while
slowed by the mud and the rain, and I wish to have a glimpse on them before evening."
Myra offered a brief farewell that was mirrored by the scholar in equally brief terms
and turned Guenhwyvar, the sabertooth tiger, due south, were the trail continued,
following the dirt road in a direction roughly towards Teardrop Hamlet.
"This could be bad news" she thought to herself, contemplating if it was time to request
reinforcements "if those bandits feel confident enough to pass by a major town,
then they may even get the idea to attack them." Still, since she had no visual contact
as of yet, she decided to delay the request until she could personally verify the threat.
Besides, when in dire need, the Fist could reach any portal within an hour, 2 at the most.
Not long on the road she met a fork ahead, with the main direction towards the town
and the other branching westwards, on which the tracks followed on. Giving Guenhwyvar
the slightest of a nudge, they turned and took the new path. This branch cut through
the thick forested area in a general direction towards Clearview. This was unexpected
since it was on the eastern outskirts of Clearview were she initially had picked up this trail.
"Oh, well..." she thought "at least I have spared the Fist a cold shower.
And Clearview ought to be safe with their big army camp nearby to their north."
End of Part 1

best regards

 

 

The way to the hidden Mordor area is in the seraphim library.

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A shape somewhat familiar
Part 2: of bold intensions

 

 

Xatrok had followed the rest of his pack and joined the big raid somewhat reluctantly.
Not that he had much of a moral problem, not realy. It was his stomach that did not agree
with the killing. It would rather have him sit down in a warm dry place reading a book.
But the rest of his pack where quick to point out that Kobold were the single most hunted
species of Ancaria. Whether by magicians for their tender hearts, or by young elven brats
for their collection of flowers, be it young adventurers just starting out in the world
or seasoned warriors on a quest or some such, it always came down to hunting "em 'bolds".
It was about time to stand up and react, they said, someone had to do "sometin 'bout".
Their pack had met the others the day before when they got ambushed by 2 undead soldiers
while hunting rats for dinner. Of course 2 enemies would normaly have been no problem
for a pack of Kobold but the undead kept raising after been struck down and their usual
group hamstring tactic wasn't working at all. On top of that, their shaman Kraxa had left
her staff back at the lair and was thus completely unable to cast any curse or ward,
no greenfire and no summons. That was when the "big one" came out of the woods and roared,
a huge Troll wielding a massive club and shield. He stroke down one of the undead with
such a fierce blow that broke and scattered its bones. No chance for that one to raise
again any time soon.
The pack had the other one pinned down when the big one tore its head off, throwing it
into the forrest. They left the rest of it thrashing about, searching for its body part.
"Grahaax hate no-dead" the Troll said pointing at his chest "Grahaax protect little one."
he continued, pointing at the pack "Join Grahaax make big group make big feast.
Make big fight and plunder. Never alone or frighten join Grahaax"
And that's how they found themself, about half an hour later, at the camp of the raiders.
There were another 2 packs of Kobold, who welcomed them on quite friendly terms.
The rest of the large group was made up by a pack of Human and Elf each, who both kept
a somewhat neutral distance with everybody, two packs of Orc and Goblin, nasty looking
and mostly hostile to everyone else, and of course Grahaax with a few other Troll.
They had made 4 camps distinctly divided by race with the Troll mingling with the Kobold
and the Goblin. Stationed between the parties were few heavy laden oxcarts and several
domesticated animals, some tied to them and others in cages or just scattered about.
Two boars were roasting over a pit, overlooked by a Troll and large cooking fires were
burning, for each race separately, preparing their own meal.
~ ~ ~
The rain had slowed to a steady dribble when Myra and Guenhwyvar left the coastal road
between Bluestonbury and Sonnenwind taking the branch west following the raiders trail.
The clouds had already broken in the west where at places the almost setting sun was
shining through. She knew that eventually the call for the Fist would have to be issued
but kept stalling the request for backup until she had at least a visual contact.
After all, Seekers were trained to depend on themself in almost any possible condition,
anything short of going against a whole army.
The "Fist" represented one part of the standing emergency protocol, instituted during
the end of the last millenia. A small group of sisters on rotation, kept on standby
at all times for any emergency. The other part, a miracle of Sophia's administration
and the single thing that rendered the Fist operational, was the ability of directly
relaying a message to any sister. Based on the Satellite-BFG technology already inplace,
somehow Sophia managed to "unlock" this dormant ability, enabling all sisters access...
Her thoughts trailed of as she realized a growing feeling of uneasyness, something similar
to being watched by predators. This may lead into a trap, which would explain the change
in direction and the woods here offer the best kind of cover. But how could this be?
Her highly attuned senses gave no warning of danger and she received absolutely no stimuli
through either Tactics or Concentration, both of which she had mastered,
nor through her Enhaced Perceptions, an invaluable asset for any Seeker.
Nevertheless she dismounted and utilized her Stance and Warding while keeping to one side
of the road close to the forest, sending Guenhwyvar to the opposite side.
"Always remember this sisters, for it may prevent much grief and sorrow:
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Whenever in doubt, separate and disperse.
Scattered out in this way, we give a much lower profile and force the individuals
of an attempted trap to either divide their actions or be taken by surprise.
And most important: at all times, no matter what, keep your alertness at a peak.
For, the one thing you may fail to percieve may possibly result
in us mourning a dear sister lost."
"The Maker bless you Alessandre" she thought while her shield was charging
"for your wisdom and patience to drive your lessons home, making them our second nature."
~ ~ ~
In contrary to killing, his stomach had no qualms whatsoever about plundering places.
This place for example they just left behind, not left realy, since they had burned it,
but anyway, this place produced a few interesting items, some of which fell to his pack.
They would be worth a good sum at the village market, if they could hold on to them.
Of course the Orc and Goblin packs had aquired by force the lion's share of the booty
and only let them take whatever they discarded, or otherwise failed to notice.
This had enraged Xatrok's pack and they were thinking of a way to get even but a fight
at that moment seemed a realy bad idea and so they kept brooding over it.
A few hours later Kraxa aproached him and whispered "Lissen up, we're a breakin off 'ere.
I spoken to them boys, all of 'em pack is fed up with 'em Orc and Goblin.
We almost came to blows lass' night, truss' me, will only get a worse if we're a stayin.
I know the area, there's a one place near we're can a silently slip away an leave.
After we're be on our own a ways again, whadaya say, you're a commin? "
"I thought you wanted to stand up and do sometin 'bout... " Xatrok told her with a smirk
"Of course I'm comming." he finally added "What's the plan?"
"Nothin fancy, we juss' slow down a bit and fall a back, nothin too obvious,
juss' trailin 'em an once we're a good I tell 'em boys and we're a brake off an' leave."
"Got it, we slowly fall back and when you say "go" we jump into the woods and run."
he confirmed "I just hope the rest of them dont get wind of this and hunt after us."
"Yeah that" she said "we ougth a take an extra care for." and left with a nod and a wink.
~ ~ ~
At one point, on the other side of the road the woods gave way to a gorge crossed by
a couple of bridges, where Myra noticed footprints diverting from the main group's trail
crossing over the first bridge and going beyond. Kobold footprints, about a fist strong,
possibly send for reconnaisance. She motioned Guenhwyvar to halt at the edge of the trees,
and guard that spot, thus avoiding a surprise on her back since she wanted to keep on
the main trail.
The tracks of the main bulk of the band continued for a while and then turned due south,
towards a clearing in the distance with some ruins dotting the far end and a cliff beyond.
By the looks of it, the raiders had decided to camp right there, inside those ruins.
Meanwhile her discomforting feeling had grown to a constant resonance on her senses,
annoying like an itch between the shoulderblades, just out of reach to scratch.
She decided to move closer but made sure to keep at all times out of sight, taking cover
by trees, branches, bushes and high grass.
"A few more steps" she thought "and I could see the better part of..."
Suddenly a fight broke off at the ruins while recognition struck her: it is the Undead !
A few undead soldiers had closed up on the ruins where the brigands had just made camp
and the 2 groups were fighting each other.
Altho the raiders had them outnumbered by 3 to 1, the undead were holdind their ground.
"By the Maker!" Myra exclaimed once she was sure no other undead were roaming the area.
"Now this is a fight I'm going to stay out of, let them soften each other, and once ripe
I can return and pluck them. This is going to keep them busy at least until midnight.
Lucky me, I'm not a Pilgrim. If I were a Divine Devotee, this would have been one fight
I could never have sidesteped. Compelled by my devotion I would have been literary forced
to fight and destroy the undead. Meanwhile I should return on a lookout for the dispatch,
I would hate to have them sneaking in on me from behind and Kobolds are master sneaks."
She retraced back to the gorge signalling Guenhwyvar to approach as they crossed the first
bridge. In the distance, beyond the second bridge she could make out a wooden watchtower
but neither her vision nor her other senses were alerting her of any immediate danger.
Confident she decided to press on, they crossed the second bridge and picked up the trail
that was passing the base of the tower and beyond. Nothing was moving, no sound could be
heard. Even her former uneasyness had given way, reduced to a distant tickling sensation.
~ ~ ~
Kraxa led the pack to an opening in the forested area adjacent to a big rock, on one side
of which there was a narrow opening, probably an entry to a cave. The light was rapidly
diminishing and night was slowly advancing, it was a good time for dinner and some sleep.
They gathered wood to start a fire and Xatrok went to fetch water from a nearby stream
for the stew while Kraxa had them boys already organized with choping meat and roaches.
A good hour later and with full bellies, they gathered closer to the fire for a pipe smoke
and some stories. One of them started telling of an adventure they shared a few years back,
a time before Xatrok had joined them, when they had camped at a similar place with a cave
in their back, out of which, late at night and while they slept, came 3 bears and attacked
them. One of the pack was seriously hurt and the bears almost took another for food.
Xatrok was terrified, he turned ashen and kept peeking to the cave's opening when they all
started to laugh and Kraxa finally told him that the story was made up. " 'sides" she said
in her best, no-nonsense tone "we're a goin to sleep inside dat cave, dun worry 'bout it
we'll be juss' a fine, truss' me" and that was the end of it.
As soon as they had gathered their stuff and lit a couple torches they doused the fire
and entered the cave. It was a medium sized underground area big enough for 2 Kobold packs
with no other entry except the one they had used. The cave was empty, no predators here,
but littered with bones and skulls of various shapes and sizes. A general murmur rose
through the lot of them until Kraxa told them to shut up and let her concentrate.
She summoned an elemental and ordered it to guard the entrance and let none pass except
pack members.
Xatrok got assigned with the 1st watch and she passed him her staff with a warning,
to not let it out his hands since loosing physical contact would break the "backfeed" of
the summons and then he would have to wake her to recast it.
Once that was settled and the sandglass for the watch rotation set, the rest of the pack
dropped on the ground folded in their blankets and were snoring withing a few minutes.
He leaned on the cave wall making himself as comfortable as possible and opened his book.
This one was one of his favorites: The Adventures of Y'Oldah The Terrible,
a legendary bold, that once confronted a dragon and saved half ancaria by convincing
the beast to enter a painting, trapping it there forever.
This particular story was about a rival hermit who stole his most priced trophy, a giant
stuffed swamp rat that Y'Oldah had defeated in singlehanded combat. Y'Oldah made his way
to his rivals lair, the door of which he found open, entered and climbed down inside.
There was no light here and he had brought no torch with him since he suspected a trap,
so he waited in the darkness for his vision to adapt... He could sense another presence.
Slowly, as his vision cleared, he could make out a few big pale shapes moving in an odd
way, like dancing. "Ghosts?" he thought and tried to move but found that he was confined.
One of the shapes having sensed his attempt started dancing its way toward him.
As it came closer his vision cleared and to his horror he recognized that he was bound
to the wall with web and the shape was a giant spider closing in on him. He screamed
and thrashed about but was unable to get loose as the spider was almost on top of him.
Suddenly there was a shout and a bright blinding light that was hurting his eyes...
~ ~ ~
"It is important to keep them confined. I will need to talk to both of them later."
Myra told the healer "They have been bitten by giant spiders and will be possibly out
of it for quite some time but keep them locked up as they may have valuable information."
"Don't worry sister, we have them in the holding cells" the healer replied "and I will
personally supervise their recovery."
"Thank you." Myra said "I have very urgent business to attend to, if you excuse me..."
and with that she left running for the town gates where Guenhwyvar was waiting.
The guard saluted as she passed and offered his farewell which she mirrored promptly
while mounting the tiger in one flowing move and was already galloping out of town.
There was this unsettling feeling that something was seriously amiss and she had to speak
with the inventor. Besides the usual garbage the Kobolds had, she found a pair of boots
that matched master Sandar's description, but the two books she found were probably
useless as they seemed to be fictional stories of a sorts, but still may belong to him.
She found nothing like the missing notebook master Sandar spoke of nor any pages of notes.
She had asked where to find him and was told that he maintained a manor house just south
of his workshop, where he usually sleeps when not working late.
Half an hour later she was knocking impatiently on his house door "Master Sandar?"
"Who is there at such an hour?" came a muffled reply "come back in the morning".
"This is urgent master Sandar, I need to speak with you about the missing items."
"Just a moment" he said and in a minute he was at the door "excuse me sister... I did not
recognise you. Would you care to join me inside please?" he offered as he motioned her
to enter. "Join me for some wine." he concluded offering her a stool at the table
and brought a pitcher and two cups. "Well then, what is it you wanted to talk about?"
he asked while pouring for both cups, offering one to Myra and taking a sip of the other.
~ ~ ~
"Of course their shape would look "somewhat familiar" sister, after all, they are based
on the same design as the one used for your leaders armor!" he exclaimed "Oh, I'm sorry,
have I failed to say this before? Silly me! Would you care to try them on?" he offered
and with a swift move unlocked the pair of them and gave her the boots.
Meanwhile Myra was dumbstruck. "By my pinions!" she said finally.
"Master Sandar, are you telling me that there is an armor out there, of duplicate design
to the one Sophia is wearing?"
"The very one indeed, sister. My apologies I thought I had mentioned this earlier today.
Here, try them on please, as far as I know, none has ever worn those. Just slip them on
and stand up, they should lock by themself."
Myra slipped her feet into the unlocked boots and stood up. As soon as she was standing
she heard a double "click" and after a quick inspection found them locked. "Incredible"
she said "they are as light as good leather but as robust and sturdy as elven steel."
"A marvelous design" the scholar replied "as soon, and as long, as there is weight
those boots will remain secured around your feet, please sit and let me show you
how to unlock them." Once she sat down he showed her the two pressure points
and the twisting and let her try herself. A few moments later she had mastered it.
There was a brief moment of silence as she walked up and down a few times trying them out.
"Master Sandar" she said finally "under the circumstances you understand that this
information is even more important than the whereabouts of the raiders, who at this time
should still be quite occupied. I need to ask, how is it that you came by an armor
of similar design as that of our leader, Sophia?"
"Yes, well... let me pour another cup of wine for us.
You see, the workshop was build by my grandfather, who at the time had..."

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