Masters of the Industrial Elements (BETA)

Into the Reaches
Leaving Rolf to Defend the Camp, the Party Heads Out

Things go about as well as could be hoped. The greenskins look confused, both by your offering and their sudden freedom, but seem to get the idea that you want them to take the food and go back where they came from.

Their confusion grows as you begin following them out, but they make no attempts to lose you. That said, they don’t take any measures to make it particularly easy for you to follow them, abruptly turning down corridors, descending hatches, and climbing access ladders without waiting or signaling.

You follow them for perhaps twelve hours before the tunnel they are leading you down opens up into a huge chamber. They climb down into it, vanishing from view. When you reach the edge, you get a full view of the chamber. The room stretches out beyond the reach of your light source, with no corners or far wall to be seen. Below is a thick haze of white fog, drifting gently and obscuring how deep the chamber is. The ceiling is only a few yards above the top of the tunnel and is covered in a network of copper pipes and conduits. Here and there, pipes and tubes of various sizes dip down into the fog. From your vantage point, you can see that the greenskins are climbing down by clinging to a vine-like growth of pale blue crystal that covers the walls in patches. More of the crystalline growth can be seen encrusting the pipes and conduits in places.

Climbing down after the warriors does not prove difficult. The viney growth proves solid hand and footholds. As you descend down into the mist, you find you can only see clearly for four or five yards before your surroundings start fading into ghost-like obscurity. The mist itself is slightly warm and carries a faint odor that is both sweet and sour, something akin to rotting fruit.

You reach the floor of the chamber fairly quickly, only about ten yards below the lip of the tunnel. Around you in the fog, you see more forms of crystalline growths, ranging in size from more of the vine-like growth covering the floor to a height of a few inches to spikey bushes several feet high to towering spires that disappear into the mist overhead.

Before we leave, I give some quick instructions to the villagers. I try to get them organized so that, if they are attacked while we are gone, they don’t all die horribly.

But I’m not too worried. If another group of raiders sets out to attack the villagers, they’ll probably encounter us on their way. And the forces of the Machine haven’t been attacking much lately.

As we set out, I call upon the power of my Stone to memorize our route perfectly.

I commit the situation of villagers to memory too, because I figure I might as well.

While Nyklis organizes the villagers, Heissa collects enough food for the group and more for a potential peace offering to the greenskins. Or for a longer journey, as she has no idea where the greenskins came from.

Diemut kept quite throughout the interrogation, not knowing how she could, assuming she could help at all. She mostly just helped try to repair the damage done by the invaders and assist the wounded when someone told her how.

But when the others decided to let the greenskins go and follow them? That was something Diemut knew how to handle. She smiled as a familiar thrill, one she hadn’t really felt since Uncle Sigmund died, washed over her.

“Hey, don’t you guys leave without me. In case you forgot, I’m nearly as good as Rolf at this. Plus I can see in the dark.” Diemut said smugly. She was useful, darnit! They weren’t cutting her out of this adventure, especially if could lead to something new/cool/good/useful!

After all, if they have a different language, stands to reason they have different other stuff. A new approach might give the Tribe an edge…

Through the thick mist, Nyklis manages to make out more than the forms of the crystalline foliage. Ahead, the greenskins have stopped walking and have ducked behind some of the crystal spires, but they are not all. Human shapes crouch behind the bushes and the towering spires. They seem ghostly in the fog, but not so indistinct that the shapes of weapons cannot be made out. They flank you on both sides, an even dozen. The others seem to see none of this.

“Hey what gives? Where’d they go?” said Diemut as the last of the greenskins vanished from her sight. Typical, the first time my skills are needed I chock. Unless…

Holding still for a second, Diemut concentrates inward, towards the stone that once adorned her Uncle’s forehead. Beyond the stone itself, she sought the spirit within. And then she relived the trek again.

Drawing upon the power within, Diemut’s eyes flashed open. With the sympathy of visual concealment from the element of Smoke, she stood a better chance of seeing with the fog. Which is good enough for Diemut to spot most of those hiding as well.

Less because of the greenskins stopping and more because of her companions’ reactions, Heissa interrupts her wandering thoughts about tunnel people cuisine and attempts to sense what Diemut and Nyklis are concerned about. Reminded of her relatively poor vision, she calls upon the power of the elemental she has dominated to try and see without her eyes and feel the movements of the air around her.

She also staunches the sudden and inappropriate urge to whistles jauntily.

Outnumbered and outflanked? Boy did we mess up. Diemut’s mind is racing, trying to find a way out of this ambush without losing one of her fellows. Or at least by some time for someone to come up with a better plan. This like back in the village, I can’t just…

Her eyes widen and a grin grew upon her face. It’s crazy, but why not? Raising one hand above her head and lowering Sigmund’s Legacy in the other, Diemut turned toward the group with Grok. “Sorry. Sorry about the attack. We had to defend our people. Accident, not wanting to hurt you. We followed you so we could trade. Sorry. We trade, yes? Heissa, can you help me out here?” said Diemut, turning her head slightly so she could see her fellow Stonebearer out of the corner of her eye.

While not entirely sure what her companion is getting at, Heissa repeats Diemut’s words but in Old Realm hoping something gets through. More so, she clasps her hands together in front of her chest in an emphatic gesture of sincerity as she tries to communicate a sense of trust and affection. More than her words, he hopes the totality of her performance —the tone of her voice, her body language, and the power of her binding stone— will evoke sympathy among the greenskins.

Nyklis just stands there quietly, holding his weapon.

He trusts that his companions will handle this as well as or better than he could.

The greenskins break from cover and charge, screaming “WAAAAAGH!” at the top of their lungs.

Still not entirely sure what’s going down, Heissa raises one hand to the attackers and yells for them to stop. As they advance, Heissa sighs sadly as it’s obvious to her that peacemaking has failed. On the end of her sigh, he lets loose a blast of steam from her palm at the closest attacker. She thinks to herself, “Hopeful this will make them think twice about their violence.”

How irritating. These people seem to understand nothing except mindless violence.

Fortunately, a Stonebearer like myself can handle that sort of thing. But it’s still very irritating.

I look at the onrushing horde, searching for a leader of some kind. If I find one, I head his way.

I’m in no particular hurry; it’s best to take these things slowly and calmly. So I don’t rush forwards. I just walk over with my guard up, hop up onto one of the crystalline growths for a height advantage, and crack the most leader-like barbarian within reach over the head with my club.

“Oh, blight!” exclaimed Diemut. Really? Not even hesitation. Gritting her teeth, she prepared to meet the challenge before her.

Taking a defensive position between her comrades, Diemut raised her Uncle’s weapon and leveled it against the charge. As the enemy approached Diemut shifted and lunged forward, swinging the spear in a slashing motion diagionally.
“You should have negotiated.”

Heissa’s steam bolt flash-cooks the head of one of the attacking greenskins, killing him instantly. Nyklis finds himself sparing with a scarred greenskin warrior with broad spiraling tattoos instead of war-paint. His swing barely slips past the leader’s guard, rapping his opponent across the cheek and leaving a nasty bruise, but the fog around the greenskin suddenly heats to scalding, leaving him with a painful burn.

Diemut disembowels a warrior as the greenskins charge, but the group is quickly surrounded. The greenskins swing and stab with clubs and spears, these warriors more skilled than those that attacked the village.


Seeing the young man hit as the party was surrounded, Heissa pushes through her fear. She takes aim at the greenskin who attacked her companion and yells, “Stay way from the Taken! We are defended!”

On the final word, she digs her heels into the floor and throws both her hands forward to release another blast of steam.

“I’m fine! But be careful, this guy’s got some kind of magic!” is what I try to say. I don’t have the breath to say it properly, since I’m in the middle of a fight, but I think the message gets across.

Speaking of a fight…there are three ugly barbarians trying to kill me. Fortunately, they’re not doing a very good job. I move to keep the boss (and his superheated mist) between myself and them.

When they follow me, moving over the growth I was standing on a moment ago, I step forwards and smack one of them with my club. I try to time my swing to catch him as he moves over the growth, so he’ll be off-balance. Maybe I’ll be able to knock him into their leader’s mist.

“Well, at least they didn’t catch us by surprise.” grumbled Diemut. This is why I didn’t want to fight them here. Outnumbered, out flanked…heck we didn’t even stick to the walls so they couldn’t hit us from behind.

The yound ashwalker swirled around in a circle as she tried to make her way over to Nyklis, giving the greenskins as small a chance to hit her from behind as possible. Her foot steps were quick, but steady on the cavern floor. Can’t risk falling over. Can’t help anyone when you’re dead.

Of course just because Diemut was making a bee-line while twirling like a dancer doesn’t mean she wasn’t doing damage. Sigmund’s Legacy spun with her, in a multiitude of a grand swing slashes, never stopping with the full weight of Diemut’s motions and body behind it.

Sliver Lady’s Grace, I better not get dissy.

Rolf cursed loudly as he trotted down the tunnel, five blessed minutes, was that too much to ask? He needed a breath or two to let his elemental recharge, so had tried resting his eyes.

Only to fall sound asleep.

The villagers had graciuosly pointed him in the right direction, and his own tunnel honed senses had provided the rest.

Now he could hear a strange change in the rythm of the tunnels. Was that fighting?

Heissa’s bolt of super-heated steam flies straight for the leader, but he doesn’t even bother to dodge. The steam washes over him and when it clears, the bruise Nyklis gave him is gone.

Nyklis’ swing connects, sending a warrior stumbling backwards. He lurches drunkenly as he falls back, clutching his head. Diemut’s opponents are not so lucky. She slashes open another warrior, leaving him lying upon the ground bleeding from shoulder to hip.

The warriors close in around the three Stonebearers. The leader shouts at the others, orders by the tone of his words and the attitude of his body language. They attack as a group, hacking and stabbing, closing off all paths to escape.

“You’re a Stonebearer? Why are you attacking us!,” Heissa yells at the scarred greenskin leader in Old Realm as she tries to back away from her attackers and stay close to her companions.

“Maybe we shouldn’t have left our hunter behind,” she thinks to herself while blasting not her attacker but the floor with her Steam Bolt Attack at a sharp angle to throw up a cover of white steam. It will disperse almost instantly as the attack is not meant to provide substantial cover, but hopefully that instant will be enough to disorient her attackers as the Dominus changes her position and prepares to sidestep her opponents.

One greenskin’s club misses Heissa in the sudden burst of steam, but the spear of the other still catches her.

Unfortunately, this attack is a bit more precise than the previous one. Fortunately, Diemut and her spear are getting close. I retreat so that her whirling strikes will provide me with some cover, and attempt to deflect the attack into one of the growths with my club.

Then I hear Heissa shout. Even with my situation as bad as it is, I think she deserves a response.

"Probably not a Stonebearer! I think he’s got some elemental blood!

Anyway, get him! He’s coordinating his soldiers, it’ll be bad for us if he gets them organized properly!"

With that, I put my own advice into action. I charge directly through the burning mist, confident that he won’t be expecting such a reckless attack. As I do so I draw upon my Stone to fill my mind with pain-erasing clarity.

Then I run up a crystal growth and jump at the greenskin, aiming to smash his skull in with an overhead swing.

Not really my usual style, but hey. Desperate times.

Diemut couldn’t hold back a snort as Nyklis ducks by the whirling soulsteel. “Well, at least he did it right,” said the slick-haired under her breath. If he had run into it… Choosing to focus on the now, rather than the guilt Diemut changed her attack pattern again.

The stonebearer stopped turning about, though Sigmund’s Legacy did not. As it spun over her shoulders and in her hands, Diemut began to step from side-to-side. Almost bouncing between the crystal shards, the shaft of black metal made a different kind of circle. At least until Diemut turned and lunged at ‘Thork’, thrusting the spear-tip through the steam. If I’m lucky, he’ll have a harder time spotting the attack.

“You will leave my friends alone!”

Rolf draws level with the swirling battle, the tunnel filling with the clash of brass.

Blight! Why could they not wait!

No time for recriminations now, only action. Luckily his late arrival put him in perfect flanking position.

He nocks an arrow, draws his bow, breathes. Sights down the shaft, aiming for the nearest flanker and release.

Nyklis doesn’t manage to duck quite fast enough and a solid blow to the head leaves the Glass Knife on the ground unconscious.

Rolf’s shot punches through one greenskin’s armor, leaving him with an arrowhead protruding from beneath his shoulder blade.

Diemut stabs forward through the blistering steam cloud surrounding the leader, the heat burning any exposed skin, but her armor saves her from the worst of it. Sigmund’s Legacy pierces through the greenskin warrior’s armor like it was tissue paper and punches a hole straight through his heart. The warrior lashes out as he dies, his reflexes keeping his own spear thrust on target despite his mortal injuries.

With Rolf’s sudden attack from behind and their leader’s death, the other warriors retreat, some bodily hauling the wounded away and into the surrounding fog.

Heissa kneels to check on the fallen Glass Walker, ensuring that he is just incapacitated.

Turning to the two warriors of the group, she tells them “Go on if you want to chase them! I can watch Nyklis.”

There is a brief crackle of electricity as Rolf races across the intervening distance to stand by Diemut’s side.

He smiles at Diemut which is the most disturbing thing anyone can see, for his smile is reminiscent of a pack of Bight touched rats or especially hungry bladelings.

“Shall we?”

It is clear what Rolf wants, for the most disturbing thing in his smile is the pride.

“Heissa, tell the scholar he fought well from what I saw, we need to get him a proper weapon though. Also check that fallen fool, no sense in wasting binding stones if he has one.” the hunter calls over his shoulder.

Heissa slaps her forehead, expressing her exasperation with herself.

“Yeah! Of course! I wouldn’t forget to do something important like that! Number two priority! Now go. We can’t loose those guys.”

The young Ashwalker nodded in response to Rolf’s comments. This is what she had been working for, a chance to prove herself as more than her Uncle’s heir in name. “Thank you, Rolf. How very kind,” she said; smiling sweetly in return.

This is, of course, when Diemut rushes after the greenskins, leaving Rolf standing there. If I wait, I’ll lose them. Plus he’s quick, he’ll catch up. So off she went, darting around one of the crystals to follow the enemies escaping.

“Hurry now Rolf, don’t want to get left behind again do you?”

Diemut and Rolf race into the mist after the greenskins, crystal formations appearing like ghosts as you rush past. The thick fog makes it hard at first for Rolf to spot one of them long enough to take a shot, but the ones carrying the wounded are slowed down and soon come into view.

Meanwhile, Heissa is quickly able to give efficient first aid to the fallen Nyklis. He should recover and is stable enough to move, though you don’t he’ll be up without at least half a day of rest. Once she is sure about Nyklis, she turns her attention to the body of the fallen leader. The aura of scalding fog is gone, leaving on the dense mist of this place folding in all around you, making it hard to see anything far. Heissa find no sign of a Binding Stone anywhere upon the body, nor do you find anything that would suggest the leader is a god-blood of any stripe or power.

Rolf growls under his breath as he chases after Diemut, sometimes it seemed like the girl wanted to die.

He smiles grimly as they sight the retreating tunnel rats. Time to have some fun.

He draws Surging Current, nocks another broad head and fires into the thick of the wounded.

Feeling much safer, Heissa sets out to construct a makeshift stretcher using material from the variety of bush-like crystals. She tries to find two long pieces to which she will tie her coat to by the sleeves and the corners of the bottom hem. She also hopes find some pieces to wedge between to two big ones and add stability, but isn’t expecting much. Under her breath she mumbles the familiar sentiment that “This land isn’t particularly forgiving.” The stretcher won’t be very strong, she thinks, but it will be better than dragging Nyklis if they have to flee.

Diemut moved swiftly through the crystal tunnels, moving faster now that she was not on an uneven, oil-slicked path. Upon catching sight of her quarry, the young Ashwalker slowed down, drawing upon the acidic darkness within her stone. What’s more, she moved at an angle. In short, she trying to sneak up on their flank, without giving away that she was there.

Can’t kill them all, we need to interrogate them, find out if there is more incoming…

That's One Way to Start a Day
An Intro In Media Res

As a way to start the day, getting attacked by tunnel people has to be one of the worst ways to do it.

A few months ago, an explorer found a promising tangle of conduits down the maintenance access of one of the drive shafts. When tapped, they proved to be full of fresh water and nutrient slurry. Food prices in the Tireless Cog Tribe being what they are, prospectors soon set up camp nearby. Once a camp was set up, that brought in others to supply the slurry miners needs. Tailors, smiths, cooks, and others were now turning what was a mining camp into a small village. Not everyone is from the Tireless Cog Tribe. Fortune seekers, some from as far away as the Echoing Vault Tribe, have come to take advantage of the strike.

That, of course, explains why you are out here. What it doesn’t explain is why a dozen brutish tunnel people came screaming out of the darkness today. Bellowing war cries and swinging pieces of chain, metal bars, and jagged pieces of tubing, the tunnel people set upon the villagers and started killing them without warning.

“Wait, there’s no need for this! Just explain what you want and…”

My voice trails off as I realize that talking will accomplish nothing. And so, reluctantly, I pick up my club and go to beat off the tunnel people.

I’m a Stonebearer now, after all, so I suppose it’s my duty to protect the tribe.

When the screaming started, Diemut had been trying the new armour she bought. Nothing fancy, just a buff-jacket. The weight would take some getting use too. Unfortunatly, there wasn’t a lot of time.

It didn’t take long for her to find the cause of the the problem. Gritting her teeth in anger, she made her way toward the thugs as fast as she was able, Sigmund’s Legacy in hand.

Rolf looked up from adjusting his power bow for the fifth time today. Just in time to see the mob of tunnel folk rush towards the camp.

He drew one of his arrows from it’s quiver. Of course he had only brought his hunting arrows. His very lethal hunting arrows.

Of course. This is going to be a bad day. he thought.

He nocked and drew in one fluid motion only to see the scholar fly past him waving his club like a maniac.

“Scholar, Head down! Your left, right, no behind you! ARRRRGH!”

Someone was going to be blamed for the boy’s death, and surely it would be him.

“I hope your skin is metal, boy!”

He aimed carefully at one of the larger dwellers knee. Aim to wound.

Around you, a dozen warriors, clad in armor made from pieces of scrap metal and chain and wearing copper-green war paint, attack anyone nearby. The tent village is rapidly becoming a mess, with people fleeing the attackers, others rushing in with weapons, and tents being trampled or toppled.

Diemut charges towards a few of the attackers closest, making as little noise as possible, lance tip forwards. It’s a little tricky, on the oil-slicked metal, but she should be able to run-through one of these invaders before the others notice.

It was a simple thing for Rolf to make a shot like this. Just a breath in, then a breath out and release, timing the shot just so between one heartbeat and the next.

Then he was on the move again racing across the tunnel, leaping from one foothold to the next, setting up his next shot.

Diemut leaps out from behind a half-collapsed tent, spearing one of the raiders in the side. The spearpoint shrieks as it punches through a piece of sheet metal, but it fails to end the raider’s life immediately. Rolf’s arrow takes another in the shoulder, leaving a nasty wound, as he nimbly navigates up the tangle of pipes surrounding the camp.

The injured raiders begin to fall back. One takes a feeble swing at Diemut as he backs away, clutching his side. However, the others rush forward to meet the sudden resistance, a pair converging on each Stonebearer. A handful of village warriors joins the fray, occupying the rest, but they are slightly outnumbered and disorganized. The raiders near Diemut swing at her with a metal pole and a length of chain, while the pair chasing Rolf begin clambering up the pipeworks after the Arcdancer.

Diemut cursed under breath as she knocks aside the incoming attacks, blocking the first one with practiced ease, but nearly takes a metal pole to the ribs for not paying enough attention to the second assult. She barely get’s her head together in time to dodge a chain swung in her direction.

“It’s going to be one of those days, isn’t it?” she asked her attackers. Not that she expected them to answer. Diemut just wanted a minor distraction as she knocked one of the tent’s remaining supports towards her assailents. As the metal and synth-leather fall, Diemut uses it as camoflage for her next strike, steping foreward as her uncle’s deadly spear spins in her hands, toawrds the wounded enemy.
This time, you won’t survive…

Rolf grins as he races toward the curving tunnel wall. The tunnel dwellers thought he would be easy prey, did they? They should know better even a rat would turn deadly in a corner. He draws another arrow from his quiver.

There! Perfect!

A simple curve in the tunnel wall, reasonably clean, with a minor ledge about a yard or so up the wall. To Rolf Hesser a gift from the Shining Ones. He draws his bow and runs up the curve of the wall using his elemental strength, then a quick kick off the wall, releasing the arrow directly at his lead pursuer.

“Arrow to the head!”

As he lands he plucks a single knife from its place and throws it in a glittering arc at his second pursuer.

Wow, that all happened fast. I should probably spend less time thinking about what I’m going to do, and more time doing it.

Hm. That guy with the chain, the one attacking Diemut, is standing right next to a damaged tent. It’ll get in his way if he tries to step away from an attack. And Diemut’s doing a damn good job distracting him.

He’s my target, then.

I step towards him and swing my club in a high arc overhead. I’m aiming for his collarbone, hoping to drop him without crushing his skull.

Diemut’s spear punches cleanly through her victim’s chest, killing him instantly. Nkylis comes to her aid as the falling tent momentarily tangles up her attackers, cracking the chain-wielder across the shoulder, but sadly causes the man no more than a nasty bruise.

Rolf’s mid-air shot misses his target and instead impacts into the side of a conduit. The conduit ruptures, spraying high-pressure nutrient slurry in a thick slick accross the area. The slippery goo makes the footing on the narrow ledge trecherous, but Rolf manages to keep his balance. Your pursuers are not quite so lucky, slipping and falling headlong into the sludge.

The two tunnel people pursuing Rolf struggle back to their feet and take some careful steps forward, still intent upon their pursuit. The warrior Nyklis just clubbed turns upon him and lashes out with a nasty backhand swing, while his ally brings his weapon down in an overhead smash, trying to crush Diemut while she’s overextended. The other tunnel people are having an easier time of things – one of the village warriors has gone down to a nasty spear wound.

Diemut barely has time to jump out of the way, even with her sou-steel pike pushing it away from her, as the massive broken pipe came slamming down in front of her. Clearly this tunnel-punk had been working out.

Not that it gave her a moment’s pause. There was not time to hesitate, at least one of the villagers was down. One of the people she was supposed to protect. Snarling, “You all will pay!”, she pointed the blunt end of her spear at her most recent asailent and ran forward…

Onto the very weapon that nearly hit her.

She didn’t stay on it for very long. The excess weight would probberly cause the metal to bend, if not snap and that was assuming her attacker didn’t drop the darn thing. Which would leave her on the ground and off balance. So she did something her uncle told her about once.

She jumped off the weapon barely a quarter of a second after she got on it. Twisting in midair, she pulled the dire-lance around and up in a circlar motion, the blade-tip whistling with the wrath and whispers of the dead. If I did this right, I should slice him from lower back to his throat.

Hm. Looks like this guy’s tougher than I thought.

But his feet are still tangled up in a tent. And some of that nutrient slurry burst just sprayed into his face.

And unlike me, he’s not magic. So I find it easy enough to stop his attack dead with a slap of my club against his wrist.

I follow that up with a second club slap against the guy’s face. I borrow a bit of extra power from my Stone as I do so.

Now, one of the raiders just died. His corpse is lying behind the guy attacking me, and as I attack I force my opponent backwards over it. If he falls down and hits his head on this metallic floor, he’ll be knocked senseless.

Rolf swears broadly, his rough voice carrying loudly through the metal walls. He always misjudged the amount of power his elemental could give him. Always. And now if they didn’t end the fight quickly, get that slurry pipe patched, he might have just ruined this strike.

Not again. No one dies because of my foolishness. Never again.

His mouth set in a determined line he taps deeper into his Binding Stone, aiming carefully at his lead pursuer and throws out a bolt of pure electricity.

Diemut’s attack strikes home, but the blade only scores a deep groove accross one of the warrior’s armor plates. Nyklis batters his opponent’s weapon away and hammers down on his opponent, knocking him unconcious in a single swing. Rolf’s bolt of lightning flash-cooks his opponent, sending a scorched corpse sliding backwards through the slurry.

The two warriors fighting the Domini realize how overmatched they are and make an attempt to withdraw, the one managing to fight his way to his feet despite the slurry coating the floor. The others, though, have the village warrirors hard pressed to defend themselves. The villagers are surrounded, fighting back to back to keep from being caught defenseless. They’ve managed to put one of the tunnel people out of the fight, but another of their own is down and bleeding.

Diemut barely glanced around to see how the others were doing. It did not serve well to take one’s yes off one’s opponents after all. But ignoring the other enemies was a bad move too. While she and her fellow stonebearers were doing well, the same could not be said for the villagers.

Biting back a curse as she watched the third villager fall, Diemut’s grip tightened on her lance. Taking adavantage on of the distance her oppsition was putting between them, she took a few steps back herself. It might help surprise the guy when I make my move.

First things first though, she called out to the others. “Rolf! Nyklis! Give the villagers a hand. I got these two!”

And that is when she charged forward, spear pointed at the fellow she failed to kill on her last swing. Her sandals rapidly clicking across the metal floor, one could almost forgive missing when they stopped doing so in the midst of combat. Especially when it happens two setps after they’ve tried to run you through with a honking big spear. Then again, using one’s foe in order to pole-vault is an odd, but not unknown combat technique.

Pushing the blade-tip down just as she jumped and pulling her body up, Diemut could only hope she hit hard the invader hard so she could stick the landing.

Otherwise this was going to hurt – a lot.

Oh, good. They’re running.

That’ll give us a chance to rescue the villagers over there.

My heart tells me to staunch the wounds of the downed villagers, but my brain tells me that the best way to keep them alive is to knock out their attackers.

The fight’ll probably end within 15 seconds, anyway. Nobody bleeds out that fast.

So I charge in after Diemut, using her body to prevent the thugs from seeing me clearly. When she lands her crazy jump attack, I step out from behind her and brain whoever’s still standing.

I make sure to move so that my target is between me and a villager, so as to divide their attention. The benefits of flanking, combined with power drawn from my Stone, ought to make it easy for me to drop this fellow.

Rolf dashes back towards the other Stonebearers. “Coming mother.”

He chuckles under his breath as he preps another arrow, he was actually having fun. His hand comes up to his chin, he aims at the closest tunnel rat to make an opening in their lethal circle, so he and his fellow Domini can begin extracting the surrounded villagers.

Breathe and release.

Diemut kicks the fleeing warrior in the head, sending him stumbling and causing him to clutch his head. He continues to try to stagger away, but he’s steps have the drunken gait of a man with a hefty concussion.

Nyklis drops another warrior with a blow to the back of the head, then Rolf puts an arrow straight through a third. The remaining warriors, seeing the sudden shift in the odds, attempt to flee.

Diemut rolled her eyes as she spun round and knocked the concussed one out with the blunt end of spear. “Rolf, you keep this up, and I’ll send you to bed without supper.”

Naturally she began to chase and run-through the remaining attackers, particularly the ones nearest the villagers. After all, it was her duty to protect them.

I wonder why she’s chasing them. They’re not a threat any more, and we have wounded people to worry about.

I turn to the villagers and ask,

“Is there a healer here? Our wounded need help, we don’t want them bleeding out.”

I really hope there’s a healer here. Otherwise I might have to bind people’s wounds myself.

Rolf laughs heartily, “Another day, another fight.”

He looses an arrow or two at the fleeing tunnel people, of course you had to make sure. The legend of the Stonebearers must be spread, Diemut, poor girl would spend the next few hours chasing them.

“When you are done with the wounded scholar I’d be highly grateful, if you could take a look at the mess back there.” He thumbs the tangle of pipes gushing nutrient slurry all over the place. If they weren’t very quick they would have a Servitor to the Taker come along and then where would they be? Very, very dead.

Not that Rolf could do anything. He hadn’t the skill.

Once the last of the of the invaders had escaped, (while Diemut had dealing with another one), she turned her attention back on the village. She wasn’t going to bother chasing down these thugs for hours, just make them pay for every drop of blood they shed here. Besides, you can’t leave the village undefended at a time like this.

So helped the rest of the villagers in whatever way she could, mostly by clearing the mess made by the attack and helping set a few of the tents back up.

She also tied up the last greenskin left alive in the village, the one she knocked out. Sooner or later, he’d come too. Then there would be some interesting questions.

Under Nyklis’ direction, the casualties are seen to. Thankfully, most of the raiders were wielding clubs and other blunt weapons, so most of the wounded will be back up and about in a day or two. The worst of them, though, took several deep knife wounds and will need a couple of months of bed rest at least, if he doesn’t die of a wound infection.

A couple of miners manage to get the pipe leak sealed off fairly quickly, belting a wad of rubber into the hole.

Though Diemut and Rolf manage to bring down a few of the fleeing warriors, most manage to get away. Diemut’s census of the enemy’s fallen reveals more still alive than she had thought. It seems that in addition to the man she dropped, both men that Nyklis fought are still breathing.

"Okay, it looks like we’re out of immediate danger.

But still, this isn’t a great situation. This camp isn’t terribly well-defended, and we don’t have a real doctor to help our wounded.

Still, we can’t abandon the camp to the barbarians. We should interrogate our prisoners and find out what we’re up against. Then we can act to solve the issue, whatever it is.

If this was just an opportunistic raid we can probably head off more violence with a threat. If it wasn’t, we might have to go to war.

Does that sound like a plan?"

Rolf looks up from his nutrient slurry. For this we fight?

He turns to Nyklis "That was surprisingly well thought out scholar. Sadly the council was quite clear “We send out our Domini, we pray for your victorious return.” We’re it. The whole show. We had bad year for bondings. And elementals."


Well, might as well make the best of it."

I point to one of the miners.

“You there, tie up the raiders. Make sure they can’t hurt us when they wake up.”

Then I look around a bit, before pointing to another slurry miner.

"Bring Heissa here. We need a healer, and this is no time for her to be napping in her tent.

From here on out, we should probably have a healer ready at all times. We should be prepared in case those raiders come back.

I’m going to interrogate one of our prisoners. Rolf, Diemut, I’ll leave the job of defending the camp to you."

Once the raiders are restrained, I poke one of them until he wakes up.


Sorry to wake you up so soon after knocking you out, but I need to know what you’re doing here.

Is this just an ordinary raid or something more serious?"

Napping in a lean-to behind her tent in a makeshift hammock of patchy artificial leather, Heissa has her eyes closed but is unconsciously mumbling something about “gallons and gallons of sweet sweet jel.” She falls out of her hammock as a hurried slurry miner comes to her calling for a healer.

She grumbles about having her dream interrupted until she hears the word “attack.” At that, she gets a serious look on her face and demands concrete details about the casualties so that she can pack. Quickly putting her supplies in a bag and letting her familiar, a tail-less glow rat named Gulhen, jump in after, Heissa finally looks back up at the miner.

“Let’s go,” she says in a lower octave while throwing on her wide brimmed black traveling hat.

As they rush out, Heissa almost trips and squeaks but catches herself and keeps going. “An attack?… As if mining wasn’t already dangerous enough,” she says softly.

The greenskin stares at you without comprehending, then says something in a language you don’t understand. His speech sounds like someone trying to gargle with a mouthful of iron bolts.

Well, that’s inconvenient.

I turn to face the camp and cup my hands to form an improvised megaphone.

“Does anyone here speak the local barbarian language?”

If nobody does, I wake up more of our prisoners and speak to each of them in turn in both of the languages I know. Hopefully one of them will know either Taken or Old Realm.

None of the barbarians speak Taken or Old Realm, though they do seem to recognize Old Realm. A quick survey of the village reveals no one who knows the same language as the greenskins.

"Okay, so we lack a common language.

This is probably going to be a problem. Any ideas on how to deal with this?

We could just have them lead us back to their camp. They’ve probably got a shaman who speaks Old Realm there.

But that seems risky. I mean, we might end up having to fight the whole camp. Which would not be ideal."

Finally arriving on the scene, Heissa sees that most of the wounded have been well-treated under Nyklis’ watch. She notes who she thinks might need more care, particularly the man who took multiple knife wounds and could use her Wound-Cauterizing Touch, and starts planning a triage order in her head.

First, however, she decides to check in with Nyklis to understand what happened and to get a closer look at the green-skins. Walking towards the Glass Knife and, overhearing his last statement, Heissa remarks, “Sad times, Eisen. Maybe we could broker some sort of peace with these tunnel folk even without speech? They must have been desperate to attack and a little bit of food might stave off another conflict. Or at least keep them from attacking when we meet again.”

As she ends her sentence, Heissa tries to concentrate on the greenskin’s speech, hoping something anything about their language seems familiar or recognizable. Any knowledge, she hopes, might help prevent more people from getting hurt.

Rolf shakes his head.


Not only did the fools attack a camp full of people but none of them even spoke the common tongue. Which meant his usual battle patter had gone totally unheard.

Wait a beat….

“Scholar, Healer, Correct me, but doesn’t everyone in the tunnels speak some variation of Taken or even the Old Tongue? And… the ones chasing me, they ran when I used my elemental. Something strange is going on here. Let me try something.”

Rolf steps to center of the circle forming around the bound prisoners.

“OY! You lot! Look at me!”

Once it is clear the prisoners are focused on him Rolf motions the villagers and others back a few steps.

He was tired and cranky, his elemental nearly drained but he had to know. Was what he was thinking even possible?

He digs deep into his elemental’s strength and sends a surging arc of pure electricity upward in a spectacular display of raw power.

“What’d you wogs think of that then?” he snarls at the prisoners, carefully gauging their reactions.

From what words the prisoners are exchanging, you gather that the one that seems nominally in-charge is named Grok. Their language is far removed from Old Realm – you think you hear what seems like some common root words, but you’re not sure if you’re just fooling yourself.

Rolf’s crackling bolt of lightning splashes across the ceiling of the chamber, getting the attention of everyone in camp and showering all nearby with sparks. The greenskins seem intimidated, but not awe-stricken. You get the feeling that they’ve seen something like it before.

Speaking in Taken, knowing that the greenskins seem unable to fully understand the language, Heissa whispers to her companions, “I think I can make out some Old Realm survivals, Rolf… but I can only gleam a bit. See that man over there? I think he is their leader or at least something of an authority. They are calling him Grok; I’m going to try to get on his good side by checking on his people.”

Heissa goes to find the local who was injured, bathes his wound in alcohol, and quickly goes about healing him within view of the greenskins. She then begins seeing to the injured greenskins, showing that they are being treated as kindly as locals are treated. In doing her healing publicly as a performance designed to emphasize her kindness, Heissa is trying build an intimacy of trust or goodwill among the greenskins and Grok in particular.

“Good idea. Meanwhile, I’ll look and see if they brought anything that might give a clue to what they’re up to.”

I take a look and see if any of the raiders brought bags or any other kind of gear beyond their weapons. If they did, I look though what they’ve got.

If they’ve got maps or anything like that with them, it could make everything much easier.

The invaders’ packs don’t contain anything so obvious as a map. Their gear is made of a variety of materials – rubber, resin, sheet metal, cloth, leather of some kind – apparently anything they could easily scavenge. What decoration you can see on it is done in bits of polished copper or copper-tarnish green paint. Inside their packs you find waterskins, long crystals of what looks like nutrient slurry, rope, bedrolls, and other traveling gear. Their gear is simple, but well-made for its kind. It isn’t as sophisticated as Tireless Cog metalwork, but more than serviceable.

Rolf shrugs. A hunter’s heart had to be full of hope, hope that somehow they could find one more resource, one more prey animal. What was around the bend of the tunnel was his business.

Still wouldn’t that be something. Someone not of this wretched tunnel.

He contents himself with the innumerable tasks of camp life. Water, nutrient slurry, fire, back for more water. Work was never ending.

He makes a special point of glaring fiercely at the one called Grok making sure to display his throwing knives.

“We are not easy prey,” he mentally growls at Grok each time he passes the tunnel rat.

After seeing to the injured, Heissa starts collecting nutrient slurry. Just enough to provide a small meal for each of the greenskins. After putting it all into a container, she finds her fellow Domini.

She speaks very quickly to the group without pausing, obviously a little over-excited about her plan, “I want to try and offer the leader some slurry in exchange for some cooperation. First, I’m going to take the food to Grok so he know what we’re offering, but I’m not going to let him have it. Rolf, I’m going to need some backup for this. Then, I’m going to point in the direction of where they attacked and only give them meals if they seem to acknowledged that they are going to do something for it. Best case scenario, they lead us back to their camp. Worst case scenario, they scatter and our skilled hunter here can track them to their home… Okay, real worst case scenario, they immediately attack again but we have their weapons so I think it’s a risk worth taking.”

Taking a breath after that stream of consciousnesses, she finishes, “Does that sound like a plan?”

"Yes. It sounds like a plan.

It doesn’t sound like a great plan, but given the situation greatness is rather too much to ask for. Let’s do it."

While sticking her tounge out at Nyklis in faux indignation, Heissa picks up the container of slurry and brings it to Grok. She goes through her planned motions to make her offer of hospitality and sustinance but keeps near her fellow domini and any other volenteers to imply that the offer is conditional and that the Taken are still the dominant party invovled.

The entire time, while using her best ‘bed side manner,’ Heissa keeps repeating in her head “I hope this works. I hope this works. I hope this works.


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