< A Rude Awakening | Red Ice Logs | A Stony Meeting >

The North is chilly, as always. But the normally clear Northern skies, lit by the dance of native Fire Elementals with so little else to do they join in dances with the Air..they are heavy with clouds and not even the Sun's light breaks through. For several days this unhappy weather has persisted, giving the natives a sour attitude. Sour attitudes rub off, and K has grown irate and rather touchy during the earlier stages of the mission. That's probably why he spent a few nights huddled by a guard's fire, rather than in an inn.

While the guard was nice enough to share his fire for a modest fee, he seemed a bit too distracted by expensive liquors to do his job. Twice as he slept, Kin was jerked awake by disturbances near the guard station, but he could find nothing either time. Finally giving up on sleep, Kinqueduran posts himself on watch, deciding that staying awake might at least give some slim chance of accomplishing something, while restless sleep just made him less pleasant.

Once again, for the third night in a row, a disturbance comes from below. A shuffling, scuttling noise and a clinkclinkclink.

  • Kinqueduran frowns, kneeling to get a better grasp of the sound. Furrowing his brow, the Sidereal moves to follow the sound, if it appears to be going any particular direction

The noise is quiet and hard to follow. It fades in and out, almost aware that someone has heard. Despite the attempts of the sound-maker to hide, Kin can easily locate them. Directly below the tower, the sound is fading. The rear end of a group? In the shadows, Kin can see a few people gathering away, as if waiting for a straggler. A dark shape moves past and nothing further moves on. The end of the train.

  • Kinqueduran pulls his coarse poncho down to hide the gleam of his armor, at least partly, and follows the group, moving quickly to try and get close enough to get some clue as to the group's nature.

An all-too-cliché tap comes on Kin's left shoulder.

  • Kinqueduran curses softly, knowing better than to try to levy arms on the person who snuck up on him, and just turns to look

A green-haired man smiles at you. "Shouldn't follow them, you know. It'll end badly."

Kinqueduran: "Everything ends badly for someone."

Makod Issev: "You're right. But this would end badly for you. It'll end better if you just turn around, you know."

Kinqueduran: "Why would I take your word for that?"

Makod Issev: "Because I was nice enough to stop you before you got eviscerated, emasculated and fed to hellhounds."

Kinqueduran: "Why would you do that, exactly?"

Makod Issev: "I'm rather fond of my nuts, guts and life. I assume most other people are and I hope someone else would want to save mine."

Kinqueduran: "You didn't answer me."

Makod Issev: "Why are you all pushy about why I saved your life?"

Kinqueduran: "Because I'm an asshole."

Makod Issev: "I'd agree. Are you going to follow them anyway?"

Kinqueduran: "Thinking about it."

Makod Issev: "I wouldn't. Especially in red armor."

Kinqueduran: "Yes, we've already clarified that you wouldn't."

Makod Issev: "You're not doing a very good job assuring me of your intention to keep yourself intact, you know."

Kinqueduran: "I wasn't really trying to assure you of that."

Makod Issev: "Guess not. Carry on then."

Kinqueduran: "You still haven't answered my question."

Makod Issev: "Which one?"

Kinqueduran: "Since you've forgotten, I'll add another to your tab. Who are you, and why would you want to prevent me from injuring myself?"

Makod Issev: "Makod Issev. I'm with the city guard. It's my job to save people and all."

Kinqueduran: "I see. And the people who don't need saving?"

Makod Issev: "You did. Those guys would kill you."

Kinqueduran: "Bigger chaps than you have said that."

Makod Issev: "Trust me. We hired some god-spawn mercs a few weeks ago. We're still finding them."

  • Kinqueduran waves a hand dismissively while discreetly looking for some rank displayed on Makod's garments.

Makod Issev: There is none, he wears nondescript garments of a farmer, but he wears a well-cared for blade at his hip that makes him more then your average field-plower.

Kinqueduran: "I'll keep an eye out for their remains, then."

Makod Issev: "You're being stupid, you know."

  • Kinqueduran shrugs. "Purely subjective."

The guardsman who stopped Kinqueduran is still watching the Red with a cautious eye. While no stranger to combat, with a few visible scars and a tough body from his labor in the frigid farms of the North and extra duty as a watchman, the peasant knows he would be no match against a warrior like Kin in his shiny red armor and with his fancy weapons. "I just think you should let it drop."

In the distance, the signs of the train of people are fading away into the darkness. But given the snow on the ground, it should still be possible, if difficult, to follow them.

  • Kinqueduran turns from Makod and begins following the train again, before he totally loses the trail.
  • Makod Issev sighs as the Red leaves. "You're just making someone have to clean up after you, you know! Picking up your bits isn't fun!"
  • Kinqueduran glances over his shoulder, frowning. "If you really want to help, you'd not pester me anymore, guard."

The guardsman stands off in the shadows, shaking his head sadly. As Kin follows after the train, he walks home, muttering about foolish, showy soldiers.

  • Kinqueduran follows as best he can, though he isn't nearly as talented at tracking as his usual partner is. Too bad she'd taken a few days off, that lazy Yellow.

The trail in the snow is easy enough for Kin to follow, left by at least nine different people, probably more obscured under later feet. Some walked in nearly single-file, only faint traces showing of their footprints under those that came behind.

Judging by the odd gait displayed in the tracks, many of the walkers were hobbled with heavy chains, that would have been the clinking noise that woke Kin on the previous nights. Splatters of blood appear occasionally along the path as well, as it winds away from the city.

Kinqueduran: Frowning, K quickens his pace a little, hoping to catch up with the group.

Despite his long delay with the guardsman, Kin soon hears the clinkclingclinkclonk of chains being dragged through the snow. With so many bound travelers and so much snow, movement is very slow at night.

  • Kinqueduran attempts to mask his presence, skirting around the group, attempting to remain in the darkness.

As Kin moves closer he can make out that the hobbled forms are rather short. Children? Possibly. Some are taller, but not much. A pair of larger shapes move with the train, guiding it. Occasionally a whip crack shatters the silence of the night, but it quickly fades to nothing and no sound comes from the one struck.

  • Kinqueduran inches a little closer, squinting. He carefully employs his shield, placing it and its coarse, drab linen cover between himself and the brush he hides behind, hoping to further hide himself as he tries to identify the larger shapes.

Kin hears someone moving behind him, a sheet of ice-crystals in the snow makes a muffled snap under a heavy foot maybe three yards distant.

  • Kinqueduran crouches low, turning, ready to level his spear on whatever approaches him.

Pausing for a moment, stunned their approach was noticed, two women are standing only a few feet away, both carrying heavy cudgels and light shields.

  • Kinqueduran takes a small step back, an effort to keep up with the shuffling crowd, though obviously a weak effort that would be utterly ineffectual. The Sidereal keeps his spear levelled at the pair, watching them.

In a thick, heavy voice totally unsuited to her lithe body, the closer of the women speaks. "If you leave now, there won't be trouble."

  • Kinqueduran replies softly, "And what will you do if I don't?"

Cultist: "We will take you to her and she will deal with you."

Kinqueduran: "Mhm. 'Her', you say? And who might 'she' be?"

Cultist: "Are you leaving or not?"

Kinqueduran: "I'll tell you when you answer."

Cultist: "You'll find out who she is when you're brought before her! Now leave or we'll take you!"

Kinqueduran: "Why don't we cut a deal? I promise to cause no trouble, and forget I saw any of this, if you'll take me to 'Her', but not disarm me."

The two women exchange glances and rush at Kin quietly, each bringing her cudgel down on his head with a heavy CLONK. The one with the thick voice also delivers a nasty kick to the groin.

  • Kinqueduran neatly deflects each attack with what seems the slightest movement of his spear, addressing them again. "I'm -trying- to be civil, ladies."

Cultist: "Nem! Nem! Nem ada zevoudinza! Nem! Nem! Nem ada zevoudinza!"

Flushed with rage, the two attack again, but this time their clubs glow a sickly red-brown.

Kinqueduran: "...fuck."

The first woman is knocked aside once more, but as Kin's spear simply helps the second aim her attack better...he is clobbered very solidly on the head. With a ringing in his ears, he can hear the women chanting as they think him vanquished.

Cultist: "Nemda! Nemda! Viczic Xyimininsh! Zevodin aburara!"

  • Kinqueduran blinks repeatedly, shaking his head to clear it even as he lunges forward, driving glittering Starmetal straight through the forehead of the low-voiced guard, then swings it viciously to the side, cutting out of that woman's skull and into the face of the other.

The bodies fall to the snowy ground with muted thuds, spreading brain, bone and blood across the formerly virgin white snow. In the moonlight, Kin can make out tattoos covering their mostly-naked bodies and what remains of their faces.

  • Kinqueduran sighs, studying the tattoos as he wipes the blade of the spear on whatever garments they have.

The marks are those of an ancient Yozi-cult dedicated to Adjoran’s daughters, the Four Lesser Winds. These women would have been ritually mutilated to prevent pregnancy and sold into her service as infants. After emasculating their first male slave at 13, they began serving their four mothers and the tattoos on their backs keep track of each male so dealt with. These must be new recruits, for there are only a score of marks on each woman.

In their cloaks, all the clothing they wore even in the frigid Northern night, Kin found lists written in the demonic dialect of Old Realm. Names of children and numbers beside them. 732 was the first. The last was 798.

  • Kinqueduran frowns, taking the list and tucking it into his bag. He stands, turning, hoping to find the troupe again

The train of children is far in the distance now, but Kin should be able to catch up with some hard running.

  • Kinqueduran groans quietly, annoyed, but begins running dutifully to catch up, aiming to pass the group up while remaining far enough off not to be spotted, and then swing around to, hopefully, meet peacefully with the head of the caravan.

Eventually Kin does manage to reach the side of the caravan and he spies the woman in the lead. She appears to be just another cultist, but as her cloak flaps he can see vague shapes of far more tattoos then the two dead women had.

  • Kinqueduran positions himself ahead of the caravan, just far enough off to be unlikely to be seen, and waits, leaning comfortably on his spear.

When the caravan should be coming into sight, Kin hears a horrendous CREEEEAAAAGRRAAAAANNNGGGH noise and then, nothing for several minutes. When he wonders what the noise was, it comes again, louder then before, and followed by an equally loud CRASH and a plume of snow.

Kinqueduran: Blinking, Kin moves along the path, towards teh caravan, his spear at the ready now.

There is no sign of the caravan, only a great deal of disturbed snow in the path they were following. Perplexed, the Sidereal begins pacing around the site, looking for any sign of where they've gone. The disturbance of the snow was caused by a large falling object, but beyond that Kin is fairly clueless.

  • Kinqueduran sighs, looking up at the sky, then circles the site again.

As he investigates the area of greatest disturbance, Kin finds what appears to be a crack in the snow, recently formed. It extends for some distance and shines at the bottom like metal.

  • Kinqueduran kneels, brushing the snow away from the crack, leaning down to figure out the source of the metallic gleam.

It becomes obvious fairly soon. There is a massive plate of metal, a door, set into the ground.

  • Kinqueduran starts clearing snow away, thoroughly intent on getting into that door

Even once he clears the snow off the metal door, nearly 15 feet square, Kin is faced with the problem of actually opening such a huge portal.

  • Kinqueduran sighs, puzzled, and circles the door again, contemplating breaking it down.
  • Kinqueduran steps back, then regulates his breathing for a moment. He charges the door, driving the Starmetal head of his lance into the doorjamb, and trusts the enormous strength of the weapon to aid him as he throws his weight against the haft, using the weapon as a lever

The gate lifts up with a loud creak, not as loud as the first though. The lance quivers and Kin's arms strain, fire dancing along his muscles. But the door is open.

  • Kinqueduran sighs, catching his breath, then slowly inches through the opening

< A Rude Awakening | Red Ice Logs | A Stony Meeting >