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  #16  
Old 09-27-2020, 12:01 AM
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"And then there's all that blood and graphic violence," Oar adds after the interval of one slice of bread being generously buttered.

How do they get such good bread here? Now that would be a story! he thinks.



 


 
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Old 09-27-2020, 12:04 AM
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"Though ... there is that inspiring heroism of a nearly washed-out low-level municipal employee who showed the true character of his heart." Oar seems to consider as he licks runny egg yolk from his beard. "And ... I guess there is always that chance that the money for the town's orphanage might be recovered," he adds, almost as if by revelation.



 


 
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Old 09-27-2020, 12:55 AM
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"I'll tell you what ... I'll do it!" Oar bellows as if a gradual but overpowering flow of reason had just broke through his normal strict code of modesty and propriety. "But I need to go get my ma!" and with that he leaps up from the table, dashes to the stairway and disappears from sight, though his leaping stride clearly calls out his progress.

THUD THUD Thud thud thud thud thud thud Thud THUD THUD!

"I'm back!" he shouts, taking the stairs two at a time with a big grin, all sorts of floppy things a-floppin' and an impressively sized ... maul in his hands.

THUD! he lands back in his chair. "Get it ... my 'MA-ul,' that's why I call her my 'Ma!'" he bellows as if this joke had never grown tired at any of the dozens of port bars it had been trotted out in over the past year.

"So ... got your tablet thingy ready?" he asks. "When I was younger, they said one day we would all be using those things, but they never really took did they? Too heavy," he says as he gives it a gentle lift and places it back down on the table.

"So ... let's begin," he whispers. Except, it isn't really a whisper. He certainly intends for everyone and their wall-mounted fish to hear this tale. "So ... me and my Ma (my maul, my ma, may maul...get it?!) had just been dropped off by our ship. Oh, how me heart lifted. Like I said, there was some deep and dark sinning going on in the confines of those rickety boards that we called home. Terrible things. Unimaginable things. And who knows where it all might have ended had we not come across ... the angelic narwhal! Yes, one day, when he had a short break from his routine of licentiousness, the first mate threw himself a net overboard and hauled up this magnificent creature. We all could tell right away it was a creature of the finer heavens. It shone and radiated a pure beam of light from its horn ... and when that light fell on each man, woman, half-orc, and lily-livered halfling ... why each sailor bowed down in tears and contrition with the realization of all the terrible things we had done. Soon, the entire crew was a-beggin' the narwhal to forgive them and show them the path of redemption. We even had the captain tied up and ready to throw over board as sacrifice! We would have done it, too, if the narwhal hadn't spoken up in the clearest, most angelic voice that carried like a church bell from across the harbor waters and put to shame even the most celebrated voices of the roozy-toozy dance halls of Ilinton! (Got another story about those dance halls one day, if you want it!)"

SAILORS OF THE FOUL SHIP SEVEN SINS! I HAVE COME TO REDEEM YOU. I DO NOT NEED YOU TO SACRIFICE ANOTHER LIFE THAT HAS SHARED YOUR MISERABLE FATE, BUT REQUIRE OF YOU TO SAVE LIVES WHOSE PLIGHT YOU ARE IGNORANT OF ... SUCH IS TRUE CHARITY!

"Well, that's what the voice said, except it said it through a filtered haze of sunshine and sweet honey, if you know what I mean," Oar explained. "And to make a celestial long story short, it commanded us to gather up a strongbox of money, take the sailor with the least amount of sins upon his brows—that would be me—and have him come into this city to donate the money to the town's orphanage" OR IF THERE BE NO ORPHANAGE BY THE TIME YOU ARRIVE, THEN TO ONE, GOOD DESERVING ORPHAN THIS BOX SHALL GO, "so it said. Now ... are you going to syndicate this story in installments. Because—not that I'm telling you to do your job, but this would be a good place to end Part I. Can't you see it now: Purchase next week's Herald and read our continued coverage by our most illustrious correspondent Felthira T. Blackboots (the "T." adds a bit of class, don't you think) and her story of the mysterious handsome sailor who left behind a crew of reformed habitual sinners to bring a spot of goodness to our town ... but faced a terrible fate!"

At this point, Oar thought he deserved another pot of tea.

"So there I was. Standing on the shore not knowing where to go. And I wouldn't have known ... but for a pillar of radiant light that emerged like a beacon from your fair city. So I marched forward, following this beckoning of goodness and rectitude, singing hymns to narwhals and kindly gods unknown as I went. But ... it was the hymns that did me in. For though those dulcet utterances surely caused the angels to smile and do a little sailor's kick, they also attracted surly characters. At least one ... it was a tall figure in a fur-lined hooded coat who came up to me and asked in a kindly voice: Where are you going, traveler? And so, of course, since I knew this to be a town of godliness, I answered squarely and told him my story. Why ... no sooner had I mentioned the treasure in me hands than it reached out with its arms, and more arms! I swear there were several arms in this unnatural abomination and each one was intent on frustrating my most appointed mission. I fought. By all the crow's nests in heaven, I fought. But this creature had friends! And they rose out of the snow and surrounded me. Ha! I laughed. There are only more of you to fall to my most justified mutilations that are about to come! Meet my ma! I screamed and swung, connecting to them and flinging them leagues away. Oh, it was a most magnificent battle. I'm even composing a shanty about it which I can share with your readers for the third and final installment. Because this, of course, would be a great spot to end the second installment ... and to get a few more eggs, amirite? Does The Herald have an expense account?"

And so Oar waited to see if the reporter would order more, but he didn't wait too long. The story had already taken him in its drift.

"So there I was ... a swinging and a flinging these bandits and knocking them over the snow drifts. But a sailor can only fight so many. Many a sailor had gone down when the odds are 5-1, some go down when they are 10-1 ... even your brave Oar goes down when they are 20-1. But that night, it took 26-1 to take me down. NOOOOOOO! I screamed as they tore the strongbox from me arms and the 27th and the 28th of them spit in my face and pushed me under the snowdrifts until I passed out. But ... my cry carried across the frozen wasteland ... it carried to the ears of a modest, humble servant of the city. Yes ... that man!" Oar rises from the table, causing the plates to fall asunder as he points dramatically at Bander. "That quiet but powerful justice of the peace must have heard my cries. Before I went under, I saw him rushing to my aid! Of course, by that time, only 5 of the miscreants were left, but fighting off 5 such snow bandits is still quite a feat for an aged, one-eyed human hero! Yes, I said it ... A. Hero! This man brought me into the town, put me away into the hotel, sent a fair maiden up to clean my wounds, my clothes and my dignity. And. He. Didn't. Think. Anyone. Knew. He wasn't going to take credit. No, Mistress Blackboots and fine readers of The Herald ... this article is not about me ... it is about your unassuming hero who lives among you. Who serves. Who protects. Who wallops snow bandits in defense of the city. And I know...yes, I know. For I have seen his fine work. I believe that soon, he will recover the lost treasure and return it to the orphanage for all of us. For ... " and here, Oar breaks down into tears ... "for us sinful sinning sailors, for those deserving, fresh-faced orphans ... and for the glory of his service! Let's drink to ... errr ... see, what a hero he is ... he didn't even want to tell me his name!"

And Oar stands up on his table, a fine specimen of goliath in full glory, with a tea cup raised to Bander and a smile as wide as the Strait of Hlmouz.


 


 
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Old 09-27-2020, 03:03 PM
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Tru says, I am a follower of Sarenrae, Brother Mishonn, here from Targos. I left because a Cleric of Auril started an abhorrent---and ineffective---practice. They are sacrificing townspeople to try to end the Rime, dragging them out into the cold and abandoning them to darkness.

She clambers right up on top of a bench, to put her face near his face to say all this. She wants him to see her level of earnesty, and she also wants to hear whatever this whispery little object burbles out in answer. Even this close, she pipes up so her words ring out around the room for any lingering sun worshippers to hear. She is a forthright, sturdy little Hin, and she doesn’t trade in whispers and nonsense.

It failed, miserably, utterly, cost the life of a dear Hin and nun of Yondalla, and the Rime goes on. I heard of the meeting that is to happen here, in a few short hours, led by a cleric of Auril. I came to ask you, brother, if this practice is coming here? Surely we who worship the Dawnflower will not stand for this?!

Her greatest hope is, he will say GOODNESS ME OH MY OH! NEVER! SUCH A HORROR! But she does not think this is what he will say. She has a dread-claw squeezing at her heart, exactly as she felt the day her brother left on his maiden fisherman's voyage, never to return.

If she is right? If the lottery is coming here? YoungBrother Whispers appears to have a soft bendable grass blade for a spine. What will he do? Sing, The Everlight expresses disapproval, This seems really super bad, in his thin, high tenor? What good will whispers and songs do Auril's unlucky chosen?

Whatever his answer, her next stop will be the inn, for a whiskey and a pint. She will need the drink, either to celebrate the enlightenment and relative safety of Bryn Shander---but more likely to steady her nerves for the fight ahead.

Because there will be a fight.

She will not watch this happen to another being. She will stand against it, no matter the cost, as she should have in Targos.

She presses her palm to her father’s focus. It gives of a faint heat, as if the flick of half a candle is alive inside it. She has been calling this fire, but as of yet, it has not come. Still, she has a big mouth and a quarterstaff. These things will have to do. Perhaps, at the Inn, she can warn others, as she hopes her words have warned a few of the worshippers here, and they may stand against it, too. But if not, she will stand alone. Die fighting. Better than freezing slowly, half naked, alone in the deep, dark cold, an offering to an icy and un-appeased goddess.

 


 


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Old 09-27-2020, 05:54 PM
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As the goliath continues his story, Bander slowly lowers first one boot then another from off the table and then sets his whiskey glass down. Then, as the story comes to its climatic conclusion, the bald, one-eyed soldier shoots to his feet, nearly flipping his table over and sending the whiskey glass crashing unto the floor.

“The FLYING FRACK I did any of that!" Bander's fists clench in rage. Is that a slight glow forming around the right one? “I don’t know what farding game you are playing at goblin-licker, but I ain’t no fricking hero and there is no way I dragged your naked arse back from anywhere.”

Bander’s one good eye glares balefully, almost like a physical blow, at the large naked man.


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Old 09-27-2020, 06:23 PM
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"That's exactly the type of modesty I'm talking about," Oar says to the enterprising correspondent of The Herald, and then excuses himself to go get dressed. "Oh ... and as for the goblin-licking ..." Oar adds, stopping briefly on the stairway, "I did warn you about the ship's iniquity. But that's another story and another installment, right?"
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:07 PM
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As the large naked man walks away, Bander slowly unclenches his fists and the slight glow from the right one fades away. Then the scarred faced man shakes his head and a low chuckle escapes from his throat.

”Damn me to the icy hells, that boy has got some balls on him.”


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Old 09-27-2020, 10:52 PM
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As the heat settled out of the situation, Falfen allowed himself a slight grin as he watched the ample backside of the goliath head back up the stairs. He had put the reporter in her place, got a rise out of the volatile militia captain and defused the situation all in one fell swoop. Falfen downed the rest of his mead, allowing the honeyed warmth to spread down to his toes before rising and approaching Bander, who he was acquainted with from the occasional jobs Falfen took escorting travelers around the lakes region when he made an appearance in Ten Towns.

He approached the militiaman with a nod. "Quite a character, that one," he said. "Did you really not have anything to do with his appearance here? He just showed up?" Falfen was enjoying the confusion the goliath's story had created and since he still didn't know quite why the enormous man had stormed downstairs so angry this morning, he figured it couldn't hurt to feign ignorance for as long as he could. He decided to probe a little further while he was at it. "Do you think he's here for this big meeting tonight? Any insight as to what that's all about? I was going to sell some furs and head out today, but I think I'll stick around."


 


 
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Old 09-28-2020, 10:39 AM
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The Northlook
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Felthira Blackboots
"Amazing," says Felty as Oar delivers his tale in response to her coaxing pleas after each of his dramatic pauses. "Amazing, absolutely amazing!" She lets the Magic Stone pick up everything Oar says, but she's also scribbling on a parchment: Angelic narwhal, Box of gold for orphans, Ice bandits, etc.

When Oar asks for more food, she saps her fingers pertly at Scramsax, and says, "Please! On the Herald's tab, Scramsax, more bread and eggs for this miracle of the... Miracle of the Night! Miracle of the... miracle of the ICE. No, no, Night Miracle... Ice Miracle. Miracle man." Her hand describes an arc, as if she's planning out the headline. "Sir, your breakfast is on my boss and everyone's favorite gnome, Mr. Jennet Brogan, editor and proprietor of the Herald! He will be delighted to hear your tale, and may I just say that I am very happy to meet you. Scramsax, please find this man a set of winter clothes!" She shakes Oar's hand excitedly, grinning and nodding.

"And you sir," she turns to Bander. "If you're ever interested in being interviewed, even -- sketched by our illustrator! You know where to find us. I know, I know, don't worry, you're not on record, and being of the highest journalistic integrity I won't mention the identity of the mystery savior... the "miracle savior"... the "ice messiah" in my article... but as Mr. Jennet Brogan always says, that's how you leave room for a sequel!"

She waves her quill pen with a flourish and begins to bundle up: scarf, hat, goggles, poncho. "And now my dear friends, I must away to transcribe this interview, and make ready for the town meeting. Did you know that the Cleric of Auril is going to be there? Well he is just about the hardest interview I've ever been tasked with locking in!" She waves to everyone, undaunted by the gnarled old townies who refuse to even look at her, and swoops out the door, knocking into Ol' Bitey, who faithfully jerks into action and sings: "Filet lady filet, filet across my big brass bed" to a volley of knives, rinds, and wooden mugs.


The Temple of the EverlightAs Mishonn turns his attention to you, the light in the chapel fades down to a melancholy glimmer provided by the few candles lit around the room. The temperature drops noticeably and even Mishonn himself seems to fade a little. However, he still maintains a bit of a glow.

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"I understand, my sweet sister, your pain. And I am sorry for it. But redemption is not free. It is bought at a cost, always. I know of the sacrifice of Sister Eglantine. And I know that her beautiful gift was not properly honored by the Frostmaiden. I don't know why it didn't work, but thus is the nature of prayer. It is not for us to decide what sacrifices are sweet and which are sour to the gods. We must only follow the rules that the gods lay down for us, and hope that our service will be rewarded."

He says a blessing on you, which you can hear approximately half of, but apparently you're supposed to have peace in your heart right now, which you don't.

"I know your mind is troubled," says Brother Mishonn with the kindest, most patient tone you have ever refused to be lulled by. "I ask that you come to the meeting and learn more about this. Come with an open mind, if you can, and may the blessing of the Dawnflower go with you."


OOCWe'll wait another day before getting the meeting underway, to give Ziusudra, Haela, and Anomaly a chance to get another RP or mechanics post in before it if they want. Oar, Bander, Tru, and Falfen can of course post again too if they want to -- and may I say I'm loving what you all are writing! I'm planning for the meeting to get underway soon, so any RP or other things you want to accomplish first, please go right ahead.
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Old 09-28-2020, 02:29 PM
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Bander kicks the remains of the shattered whiskey glass aside with his booted foot and raising a single finger in the air and making sure Scramsax sees it, puts in an order for a fresh one. The old soldier eases back into his seat, the old injury in his left leg giving him a twinge of pain. It always acts up in the cold, and cold is all the place has. As the ranger joins him at his table, Bander gives the tattooed man a nod in the way of greeting. He has always appreciated Falfen on the rare occasions they have shared a drink here in the Northlook. The man doesn’t talk overly much, knows when to not ask too many questions about a man’s past and knows when to be silent and let a man enjoy a good glass of whiskey.

“I don’t know anything about the freaking nudist or how his pimpled arse got to town. Giving Falfen a knowing look,[b] “But it seems to me that someone who just happen to be out beyond the gods forsaken walls often enough and also happens to show up here in this frozen excuse of a town at the same time as the stranger might just know a thing or two about it.”[b] Bander gives Falfen a conspiratorial wink with his one good eye, “Then again, I just could be wrong about the whole frigging thing.”

Bander nods and grunts a word of thanks to Scramsax as the barkeep delivers a replacement glass of whiskey to their table.

“All the Sheriff told me about the big shindig is that fracking everyone in the whole damned town had to be there and that the cleric of Auril, Speaker Shane, and the Priest of Sarenrae were all going to frigging stand up there and make speeches. It should be a grand frigging time, standing out in the fracking cold, listening to those puffed up, good for nothing, yeti humpers. Oh, and there’s to be some bullshirt religious ritual afterwards. As if making us stand out in the cold to listen to gods’ be cursed speeches wasn’t enough, then we have to suffer through some fracking religious mumbo-jumbo.”

Bander clears his throat, leans over and spits the viscous glob onto the floor to show his utter disgust with the whole situation.

Trying to put clerics, rituals, and meetings out of his mind for the moment, Bander turns back to Falfen and asks, “So, you brought in some furs for trading? The hunting has been good out there on the ice?”


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Old 09-28-2020, 08:09 PM
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Before Ziusudra descended that cold, high darkness of the southern wall, he had the good fortune to catch another odd pair of travelers braving the cold. (Of course, The House did not believe in luck, so much as providence. He saw what he saw on the wall because he was meant to see them.) Unlike the first pair, these two seemed to be healthy and dragging something long between them.
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Ziusudra narrowed his eyes, taking a closer look.


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Old 09-28-2020, 08:30 PM
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[]
It is all ashes.

Not her new faith. She knows the difference between a bad god and a bad priest. This wet-mouthed, pumice-heeled, limp-haired, tender-gazed, tiny-footed toady-of-Auril in Seranrae’s clothing is a cold-stink in a sunny temple.

Her new start---that is what is ashes. The mad religious infection has spread here! She wants to head out of Bryn Shander, run for Caer-Konig or Lonelywood! But she believes that Auril’s harbingers will already be present, promising an end to the Rime if only, if only, if only. If only all decency is abandoned. If only they will give up what is good, and begin to eat their own. All Lies.

But the other towns are smaller, more backwoods places. Surely here, in the cosmopolitan trading hub, there are more outside people, bold and new people, strong people who will listen to reason and the voice of rightness or mercy?

So. She hurls her little coins in the jug and stomps off in her hated boots, toes cramped and cold even though swathed in stupid boots (an abomination really, that such things should be made for Hin at all!) and linen wrappings and her own good thick calluses and her fur. Unnatural, this cold in her toes, as are all things that the Rime has brought. But---to the inn. She needs that drink. She needs allies. She needs the truth to be heard.

The door opens just as she arrives, and she pushes in past a dwarf with red top-buns and stomps her feet to get her blood flowing, already hollering, HEY! HEY! LISTEN! WE’RE IN TROUBLE!

Nothing. No one notices. It’s rowdy in here. Mostly humans. A few tall elves, a table of very drunk dwarves. There’s bird in front of a plate of---eggs? Sweet Sarenrae, yes, that's dried yolk. A tall (to her) bird, in a hat, having a little cannibalism in a bar, and has all the world gone mad? Yes. Yes it has. Proof: There’s big, stuffed fish singing on the wall.

FILLET-LA!

Raucous calls and thrown mugs greet its tune. The patrons are all yelling at the fish, or talking, or flirting, or drinking. She is loud---for a Hin. But so small. Her voice does not rise above the level of the table-tops.

So she stomps up onto a stool, a table, the bar itself. LISTEN! LISTEN!

WOO! TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, PRETTY! There are two Hin boys in the back.

No one hears her. Mugs clash together. She is failing, already, as she failed Sister Eglantine.

And then she sees a face she knows. One eye. Scarred. Hard to forget. The soldier who questioned her earlier sits a table in the corner with some fellow who looks like a trapper or a hunter. The soldier was. SO. LOUD. So tall and commanding. He is not doddering, but old enough to be taken seriously. Tall enough, too. And she got a good impression of him. A man doing his job, gruffly, loudly, but---he seemed a decent sort.

She leaps from table to table, the Hin boys cheering encouragement, until she is standing on his table and leaning down to yell into his face.

EVERYTHING I TOLD YOU IN THE STREET IS TRUE! She blats and blares. She looks to the serious trapper, then back at the soldier. Breathes. Calms herself. The priest of Sarenrae confirmed he will not stop this blasphemy. His balls are made of snow, and he just cast sunlight. Nothing left there but pants, and his feet are as soft as a fleece! He will not help.

At the meeting tonight, there WILL be a Lottery. They WILL sacrifice some poor soul to Auril. They will drag a citizen out on a sled and abandon him. Or her. In nothing but a thin shift. A human---or dwarf or elf or Hin—a sentient, loving, free being, used as meat for a goddess who is not looking or listening.

They already tried a sacrifice in Targus. My friend Sister Eglantine is dead, and to no avail. It’s murder. Purposeless, wrongful death. It will not end the Rime!


She looks from the soldier to the trapper and back.

Please! Help me! Help me stop it. Please!

 


 


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Old 09-28-2020, 08:45 PM
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Falfen stared back at Bander as straight-faced as he could. "Well, I suppose anything is possible," he deadpanned. "You never know what you're going to find hunting in the darkness." He paused. "Well, I actually do typically know what I'm going find. That's why my pack is always full of furs." He grinned for a second, then considering Bander's commentary on the meeting, frowned.

"Hmph. I don't really like the sound of that. Nothing good has come of religion here lately. I was hoping for more of some news of barbarian raids that I could keep giant strangers safe from." At this he gave a wry grin and nodded once more at Bander. "I'll see you at this meeting then. Stay safe." Shouldering his pack, Falfen made ready to head out, but suddenly, a tiny woman leapt onto the table he had drifted near with Bander and began to holler about lotteries and sacrifice. The good mood that the giant man's antics had put him in dissipated in an instant. He frowned again even more deeply. This was the kind of thing he expected out of groups of people in this long dark and was why, on good nights, he embraced his exile. There was no end to which people would not go in the name of superstition and divinity. Living by himself on the tundra, he had traded the ridiculous passions of mankind for the cold calculus of nature. His pale eyes stare back at the halfling woman, as he closes them to listen again. There is no wind, no voice.

He opens them again and looks at her. "Indeed? I am sorry for your loss. People can be truly cruel."

He turns to Bander. "I do not wish to participate in this ritual, if this is truly what will happen. Surely the town's law will not go along with such a thing, though. Will it?"

 


 
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Last edited by Atrayn; 09-28-2020 at 10:28 PM.
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  #29  
Old 09-29-2020, 11:20 AM
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Chrystrom Chrystrom is offline
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Bander sits in his chair staring with appreciation at the acrobatics of the passionate Hin as she leaps onto his table. Fortunately, his swift reflexes save his second whiskey glass from the dismal fate of the first. The story the Hin had told him earlier in the street was horrid, but he didn't know whether to give credence to it or not. Then, as first the small lady and then the stoic ranger both put the weight of decision upon his grizzled shoulders, the old soldier takes a slow sip of his amber tinted libation and, after thoroughly and deliberately enjoying the burning sensation of the potent fluid, he sets the now empty glass carefully down on the table between the two delicately booted feet and finally makes eye contact with the Hin.

“Well frack me with an icicle if this doesn’t make this frigging day just complete.” Bander rises to his feet with a sigh of exasperation, “I can tell you two things, fierce little lady. Bander holds up one less than clean fingerOne, if what you say is going to happen, really is happening, then the goat humping sheriff ain’t going to do anything about it. He’s in that stinking pile of shat Speaker’s pocket. A second equally dirt stained finger joins the firstTwo, if what you say is going to happen, really is happening, then I for one ain’t going to stand by and let no mumble mouthed, son of a motherless yeti priest go killing anybody. But, before we all go charging out of here like goblins with our arses on fire, I say we see what exactly this damn meeting is about and if it is this fracking lottery thing, then you can count on me to help put a stop to that kind of gods’ befouled nonsense.”


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Old 09-29-2020, 03:44 PM
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Haela had run out of beer. Between the screeching bird-person, the magical singing fish, and the large naked man's continued nakedness, she had quickly made up her mind about Bryn Shander. On the one hand, she had rarely left Ironmaster, and knew that she was bound to find the customs and social mores of outsiders strange, uncomfortable, and difficult to grasp, simply by virtue of their unfamiliarity: she should therefore do her best to keep an open mind, and withhold judgement on those she found herself in the midst until she had made an earnest effort to understand them on their own terms.

On the other hand, these people were clearly mad.

Even her hope that the red-haired dwarf was going to talk some sense into (or simply put some clothes on) the giant was destined to be short-lived: this Felthira Blackboots (and History Check: 9 what clan could that be?) seemed as bad as the rest of them, lapping up a long-winded fiction that even the drunkest rookie warrior would have been ashamed to try to pass off as fact...

Although.

Haela found herself sitting forward, elbow propped up on her warhammer, rubbing her favourite scar thoughtfully. Clearly there was some embellishment (and some of the more colourful turns of phrase escaped her - her Common was a little rusty), but this enormous fabulist did have something of a fighter's build (and in the circumstances, it was difficult to miss). Twenty-six to one seemed implausible, at least in open combat - but if he'd found a good tunnel, or a crevice in the ice to put his back into? Then it might just be a matter of stamina, armour, the quality of one's equipment...

Could she survive a fight against twenty-six assailants? She rarely fought alone, but she was sure her record was a little lower than that. Hmm.



Haela was drumming her fingers along the edge of her shield, deep in thought, when the Halfling started talking. Shouting, really - standing on someone's table and shouting at him about murder. It was the Captain of the Guard... he had said something about a meeting, hadn't he? If attendance was indeed mandatory, that could be her chance: rather than risk her own sanity by trying to communicate with the people of this strange little town, she could simply seek the Renegade Lovodra there, amongst the crowd.

A few moments later the meaning of the little woman's speech filtered through to her. Haela stood up; not unsettled, confused, or unbelieving, but simply shocked.

Haela's voice, trained in the forge and in Ironmaster's barracks and mess halls, cut through the hubbub. "Excuse me, little one - can you repeat? Do you say that they do this to - citizens?"


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