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The envoys to Belfalas returned after a few months to bring the information they’d learned to the self secluded city of Hithdor--that war was waiting on its doorsteps, with creatures and beasts in tow that the citizens hadn’t heard of outside of fairy tales. Unfortunately, it was up to some to tell them that their fairy tales were real life, and not the happy ones.
To the splintered underground, Kali bore the task of telling.
To the high merchants and the nobles who were left, Reydren had the pleasure of corresponding.
To the metal smiths, Duke and Burden hammered out the truth.
To the commoners, the rest of Shadow’s Edge spread the word.
Kali sent couriers to the districts where the gangmasters resided, and sent them all a single message:
Kali, leader of Shadow’s Edge requests that you meet her at the Back Alley Pub tonight at midnight. She has information vital to your survival.
Reydren was adamant about sending a guard with her.“They will double cross you, and you know it. How can you possibly trust them to not attack you on sight? You admittedly have done things to stifle their growth!”
“And? You think I haven’t thought of that? I’d practically be inciting war by asking all of us to gather in one place and I bring guards! But the message is worth risking my life. If the city falls, so do they. We must band together to fight what may come!” Kali retorted.
“You won’t get through to them.” He said with a sigh, giving in to her stubborn will.
“I know. But the important thing is telling them. When the time comes, they will see the truth, and come crawling to our feet, wishing they’d listened the first time. Perhaps your nobles will be very much the same?”
Reydren just shook his head and walked off, leaving Kali to her planning.
That night, Kali went to the pub early. With a look, the owner closed it down and cleared out the now upset customers as she stood and waited for the representatives to arrive. First through the door was Lathos Zahn of the Great Zahns with two burly men at his shoulders. His dark hair fell into his eyes and his thin frame showed through his long coat. This man was not a fighter, but an organizer, one who was looked up to by his people, but as the youngest leader he was still more than 10 years Kali’s senior.
The Blood Blades were next, and their leader Benta Danos was clearly an intimidating older man. He towered over 6 feet tall and was built like a warrior, muscles almost as big as the three guards he brought with them. And every one of them had a knife at their belt with a bold red grip.
Third was the Black Band, and Sorok Antok was looking very much like a rat. His shriveled form and darting eyes showed he trusted none but his ability to run away. The two guards which were flanking him had black armbands wrapped around their massively bulging biceps. His appearance made Kali wonder why people even followed him.
The Crypt Killers were forth to arrive, and their leader, Coran Withrow was almost indecipherable from the other three of his body guards, save for a golden chain around his neck. All of them were shorter, with tone form, not too bulky but they had the clean definition that comes from skill and nothing else.
Last to arrive were the Dregs, all bundled in rags but Kraz Gengas was first and had the least amount of patches, his stringy hair pushed behind his ears while his body guards barely had any hair on their heads to speak of.
The room was full of tension, eyes were darting between each other before Lathos spoke first.
“You came alone, tonight, child? After you called us together?”
With that all eyes were on her. She was barely an adult, and yet at 17 she had every single eye in the room on here, and silence as they waited for her to speak.
“Yes. I do not call to start a war,” She stated simply, “So I come without a guard. I seek to inform you of what I have recently learned.”
Sorok spoke next, “Oh? And what has the young one got to teach us far more experienced ones?”
Laughter went around the group before silence settled once again.
“I have learned that war is sweeping the continent. War greater and far more fearsome than anything ever heard of. There are creatures of such power that nothing can stand against them, and people with abilities far outstretching normal men. We will be doomed.”
An eerie silence swept the room.
“Doomed?” Kraz spoke with laughter in his voice, “Surely you jest! You say war shall breach these walls? When not a person has entered them without permission for decades?”
“Decades Kraz?” Kali spoke, “Do you forget that I was not born here? That I was not permitted to enter by the guards, yet I did, Not 12 years ago?”
Silence again before Coran spoke this time, “Very well, say we believe you. What should we do for this supposed war that's supposedly going to get past the greatest walls ever built?”
“We unite the city.”
Instantly uproar as each one yells how they’ll never work with the people sitting in this building, no matter what, throwing insults around like confetti at a parade. The room was suddenly toxic, but Kali spoke softly, gaining their attention through their rage.
“What did you say Child?” Benta asked, “You must speak up if you wish to compete with us.”
“Clearly not, because you stopped to ask me what I said.” Kali let that settle upon the room for a few moments before continuing. “I said that unless we unite, the city will fall. We must come together and defend that which we fight over. I have never wanted to fight against those considered to be the ‘lowlifes’. My enemies are those who are corrupt and wish to do nothing but benefit themselves at the cost of others.”
Laughter rained once again from their mouths, “What are you, some sort of filow soaper now?” Kraz said.
“Its philosopher, Kraz,” Lathos stated, “Stop making us look unintelligent. On the other hand, it keeps the nobles off their guard!”
Laughter continued around the room until Benta spoke again, “Girly, I hope you know that tonight is not going to be a night easily walked away from. This story? Pah. I don’t believe it. Not for a moment. But, you brought together the people I’ve wanted to fight for a long time now, and that I thank you for.”
Suddenly the laughter was replaced by tension again, as guards gripped their weapons and glared at the others gathered.
“You will not have bloodshed tonight, if I can help it,” Kali’s composure suddenly turned dark, and the lighting in the room dropped a few degrees.
“One child,” Coran stated, “Cannot prevent a war.”
“No. But I can make it harder to do acts of war.”
Suddenly the light in the room was gone, and the only one who could see was Kali. She moved quickly, weakening all of them with a touch before they could even react or adjust to the light change. As quickly as it started, she released her hold on the shadows and let the light return once again.
“I told you there were people in the world who can do things beyond imagining. You did not listen. I warned you of war on our doorstep. You did not listen. I am preparing myself for what I know is coming. I warn you to do the same.”
With that, she walked out of the building and waited in a nearby alleyway to watch as they all struggled home, too exhausted to fight for tonight. Once they were all gone, she returned to the pub and dropped a large sack on the counter that was clearly full of money before making her way back to headquarters.
7/19/2013, 10:47 pm
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Re: Dragon's Descent
Reydren impatiently waited in the drawing room of a fine mansion--one of the last nobles left after the riots took their toll. He sincerely hoped that this man would not be like the merchants he spoke with, but only time would tell.
Almost 20 minutes had passed before a rather large man in very fine appearance appeared. “Ah, Mr. Dutant. Very glad to meet you.” He said hastily, clearly he was hoping this wouldn’t be long.
“Durant, Sir. My name is Reydren Durant,” He pointed out, irritated already with this man.
“Ah, er, yes. I apologize, Mr. Durant. I’m Daven Xantos, as I’m sure you know. Now, you said that this was urgent?”
“Yes. I have been traveling, and I wish to bring you news of the world and what is at stake.”
“The world?” Daven chortled, “What do I care of the world? We are an impenetrable city! We are a world unto itself.”
“I don’t think you understand, Mr. Xantos. This war is unlike any petty squabbling you’ve seen or heard of in the past. This war will bring complete devastation at its feet. I’ve seen it. Creatures beyond imagining, Orks, Undead and even--”
“Oh you are a foolish lad. Maybe they tricked you, made you believe that thats what they saw. Even if it IS real, how could they possibly break through our walls? Our city guard has the finest trained warriors the world could see!”
“So well trained that a child has always been able to get the best of them? That the underground runs this city? So well trained that riots took over the city? I do not think your guard is as infallible as you believe. Especially not against what is to come.”
The man laughed a deep laugh, “You are a cheeky one! You expect me to think that those mindless grunts can tear down our walls? That these recent occurrences have anything in common with war? My men are trained for battle! Not chasing street rats and quieting civilians!”
“I warn you that they are not as ready as you think. I have seen this war, fought in it and you know what? I’m not ready. I was in your guard. I’ve been training privately, and I’m still not ready. You need to get the city ready. Train every civilian like you’ve trained your guard. I do not know how much time we have left, but there is never enough time to ready yourself for war.”
“You seem to be missing something quite important. We have our walls! We will never have to fight in this war! Our walls protect us. Our walls keep us safe. No man or creature can climb them or tear them down. They are invincible! Now leave here, fear mongerer. I am done with you!” Daven Xantos was clearly enraged now. His face was red, and spittle flying everywhere.
Reydren stood as guards entered the room to escort him out. They clearly showed that they would use force if need be. “I will not let you destroy this city,” He said as he walked out brushing past the city guards with irritation.
He returned to headquarters at a loss because simply no one of influence would heed any of his warnings.
“You boys want me to make weapons? Because I can? Thats rich! I have many orders to fulfill, and you think I should set them aside to make knives? Swords? For this ‘war’ you’ve been told of?”
“I don’t have the metal for that kind of project, are you nuts?”
“I’ve got too much on my plate as it is, let alone preparing for this rumor of a war!”
“HAHA! You guys are up to some kind of prank right? Trying to lead me down a false road? Right?”
Every smithy that Duke and Burden approached responded with laughter, accusations and then brushed them off. They knew the type though. These men were as flexible as the metal they worked with. These men would not be malleable until exposed to the flame of money.
“Maybe we could see if Reydren would be willing to place an order at one for several blades, Brother?” Duke suggested.
“Maybe. But who is to say they will work on it immediately? This is going to be worrisome. Nonetheless, if this war is as impending as they said we should help pay for the blades.” Burden replied.
So the two met with Reydren and the three of them took bags of gold to the weaponsmiths and placed orders with them. They all laughed, but took the copious amount of gold and started smithing the blades.
The now mildly dejected members of Shadow’s Edge took to the streets, and before where they’d found distrust and disbelief they were met with belief and readiness to protect themselves. So, in secret they met with the civilians, teaching them how to defend themselves and finding paths to escape should war arrive within the walls somehow. However, they knew it wouldn’t be enough. Sadly it was all they had to work with until the day war would arrive on their doorsteps.
And that day came far too soon.
Barely one month after the small group returned from Belfalas, Disaster struck. They had prepared for war, but they were not ready for this.
It started innocently enough; the majority of the townspeople took no notice of the sound coming from the horizon. The citizens were caught completely unaware as a dark shadow flew over the city. Before anyone could react a monstrous roar shook the very stone in the buildings and everyone’s eyes became glued to the sky. The southernmost tower was the first to fall; a great beast collided with its side and sending it crashing down like a toppling tinderbox.
Horns of warning trumpeted out through the city, and people rushed out of their doors to take assessment of the situation. What they saw was not the war they had expected.
A great beast was flying over the city, flames billowing from its mouth, and buildings crushing beneath its claws. People were scattering everywhere, chaos started to take hold unseen since the riots, but a few seemed to hold a calm sense in the ruin crashing down upon them. The ones who had been trained--paupers, beggars those who had little to none-- were stepping up and ushering people to a safer direction. People began to spill out of the city to a small fortress just beyond the walls. A place seemingly unnoticed by the dragon.
Duke and Burden were heading back to their shop at the time, on a welcome respite from the long hours trying to manage and manufacture enough weapons for the battle. When the dragon attacked they too were caught completely off guard.
“What in the great world was that!?” Duke shouted, following the sound of what seemed like a hundred cattle or more all stampeding at once.
“There!” Burden was pointing up into the air; a great pillar of black smoke was billowing up from the tower.
“We would have heard the warning horns much sooner-“
The ground shook once again, and another roar echoed through the streets. The screams of people rose up from all around them. With a great crash the buildings surrounding them lurched, knocking both men to the ground. They both looked up but only caught the glimpse of a scale covered tail slithering away before the roof collapsed sending a shower of dust and ash into the street. A large portion of wall landed between the two, separating them from each other.
“That was no orc brother!” Duke shouted over the rubble. He was near panic; the sheer size of the creature was unimaginable.
Burden quickly composed himself, “Get back to the shop and get our supplies loaded and out of town.”
7/19/2013, 10:47 pm
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