Life Choices

“I don’t know, I guess I feel torn, I’m not sure what to do” Zack looked up at Moraelland locked eyes with his confidant

“It’s just that…” he paused and she nodded for him to continue taking the opportunity to blow the blond locks from her eyes “It’s just that, well sometimes I feel like I am being pulled in all the wrong directions, I don’t know what to do” Zack flopped back on the bed in exasperation, he lay there for a long while staring at the ceiling, waiting for the advice to come… none did he looked up to see his friend hadn’t moved “Well?”

“Well what?” her voice sang

“What should I do?”

“I would start by making a plan, and then perhaps continue by following it through” she said, a slight smile on her lips. He stared at her a long while debating whether she was being earnestly cryptic or crypticly cruel, he decided it didn’t matter.

“I want to be a knight!” he declared “But knights don’t gang up on people, and knight certainly don’t order goblins to do it for them, and They told us that the Grey Guard don’t even knight people, so why am I bothering with them… sometimes I feel I have more in common with Hoggle and Snot then with any knight I’ve ever met… I don’t know” he sighed a sigh of exasperation to emphasize his point. Moraell watched him for a long moment before responding.

“There is more to knighthood then the word Sir before ones name, and you know that there is more than one path to every destination don’t you?” he looked up and locked eyes with his friend

“Yes” he replied

“Doesn’t the Grey Van Guard give you the money you need for your family?” she asked

“Yes but…”

“Dose the Grey Van Guard do honorable work and aid people in the way a knight might?” she asked again

“Well… yes… but…”

“Do your roguish goblin friends work to uphold the greater good?”

“Ya, but they’re not the…”

“Do they keep you safe so that you will live to save more lives another day?”

“Well of course…. But…”

“Then they sound like staunch allies to me, and it sounds like you have had no trouble in selecting the right path, it seems that you have surrounded yourself with fine allies and are well on your way to walking the knights path” Zack smiled despite himself, Moraell always knew how to cheer him up

“thanks” he said

“Don’t thank me, I merely told you what you already knew” he smiled again at that, she was always so humble, and seemed to know just the right thing to say to make him feel better.

“Well thanks for saying it anyway…” he yawned and stretched “ I don’t know about you, but I’m beat, I think I’m going to turn in” he didn’t need to look up to feel the warmth drain from the room, he could recognize her icy stare by the silence “Come on Moraell, it’s late, I’ll sharpen and polish the blade in the morning.. I swear” she said nothing her stare was unrelenting “FINE! But if I’m tired tomorrow it’s your fault!”

“I’m not sure how I will be able to live with myself knowing that you may be tired” she mocked “now do I have to stay here and supervise or can I trust you to get it done?”

“It’s fine, get out of here” he waved her off as he went to his pack to get his whet stone and polish…”do I have to stay here and supervise” he mumbled in a mock tone as he went about his task, there was a faint blue light that always happened when Moraell came or went, and then nothing but the hissing of his edge on the stone, she could be quite the cruel task master when she wanted to be

The Dance of Shadows

The heavy pair of iron shod boots echoed down the hall outside the room where a dwarven man sat diligently reading and making notes. A low muffled conversation could be heard just outside the door of the study and then a gentle knock on the door.

“Come in…” came the strong but weary voice behind the desk.

As the door opened a man in scale armor stepped in, closed the door and stood at attention, “Master Volstagg, we have just received a report from our informative in Ebbenheim”.

The middle aged dwarf sitting at the desk removed his reading glasses, put down his pen, rested his elbows on his large oaken desk and crossed his fingers in front of his mouth and huge bushy beard. The slightest inflection of the dwarf’s left eyebrow gave the armored man the signal to continue.

“A messenger from the Kaiser arrived in Ebbenheim six days ago, and yesterday morning over half of the garrisoned men departed the town at dawn. This leaves Ebbenheim dangerously under defended.” The man in armor looked away uncomfortably, took a laboured breath and then met Master Iain Volstagg’s gaze again. “We also have reason to believe that The Risen are aware of this development.”

The Master continued his steel gaze at the man in front of him, clearly in deep thought. After a few moments of hard silence the Master lowered his hands, stretched out his huntched back and shoulders and spoke, “Norrik, I want you to gather seven men; Greymen, then I want you to ride hard to Ebbenheim with them. Find me when you get there.”
Norrik nodded and quickly left the room to carry out his orders.

Master Volstagg stood from his desk and began packing up his things. In about an hour he’d arrive in Ebbenheim a full week ahead of his men and he would have much to do before they arrived.

Bad News

To: The Dutiful Lord Elgin Osman III

From: The Personal Desk of Emperor Benedictus

Greetings Lord Osman,

I felt that this letter required me to write to you in my own hand. First, I want to thank you for your continued loyal service and commend you on your ingenuity in continuing to protect the lands around Ebbenheim. It is because of loyal and intelligent men like yourself that the Geftlubaddian people are beginning to regain confidence in our great country.

I regret to inform you that this letter is not all praise, as is the trend in the troubling times. Since I know you to be a man of pragmatism I will get directly to the point.

Last month a heavy loss was recorded in the north eastern area of Osweldt. This loss represents a significant threat to Uhlenhorst and her people. Unfortunately this leaves a large gap open in the defense for this area, and with spring in full swing I do not need to tell you the danger of hidden living dead digging themselves out of the ground.

Therefore, I have taken on the unhappy burden of informing you that I will once again need to request militia from your garrison to fill a gap. I would offer an apology but I do not believe that it would be taken well, and thus I offer a possible solution.

With this letter I send an exact count of men I will need, gold and the authorization for you to hire mercenaries temporarily. I also suggest that you begin hiring civilians to work as watchmen. I know their eyes are untrained, but I also do not expect any organized attack in your area.

I have rerouted troops to take the place of your men around Uhlenhorst, but it will take over a month for them to reach the northern border and then time for your troops to return to their posts. In all, you can expect your men to return in, at least, two and half months.

I know that you will do your best to serve,

With respect,

Kaiser Adalwulf Benedictus

Candles in the Night

The town of Ebbenheim lies in roughly the centre of the region of Osweldt and has a great and long illustrious history. Originally a Dwarven outpost countless generations ago, the Kingdom of Geftlubadd assumed the ruins many hundreds of years ago and built a fort which later became a village, which later became the town of Ebbenheim.

Although the Dwarves have never contested the land the town lies upon and seem content with current borders, Geftlubadd always maintained a military presence here to solidify their claim to the lower mountainside and their mining camps. Unfortunately, since The War of Skulls militia have been steadily drained from the small fort.

It is here, in this washed up old town that a few noteworthy people have gathered, and although they do not know each other yet, a greater force drives them together.

Day to Day in Geftlubadd

It has been over 25 years since The War of Skulls and although the undead blight is no longer in control of the nation of Geftlubadd, nothing will ever be the same. There are no villages that can stand without walls and heavy guard. Those that do have both a wall and trained guardsmen grow rapidly as citizens flock to live within their safety. Many farmers make the arduous journeys too and from their fields in the morning and evening in order to be sure that they live another night. Those that farm livestock often form communes with other farmers and hire mercenaries to set up small guards around their barns.

The nation of Geftlubadd suffers greatly from a ridiculously inflated economy where gold is worth far less than it is in any other country. Merchants that brave the horrific countryside of Geftlubadd are able to make soaring profits, although few do. Undead are but one deterrent against such journeys; bandits have become a serious issue throughout the country. So much so that Kaiser Adalwulf Benedictus converted the entire military into a new organization named PURE. This force is charged with cleansing the land of wandering undead and roving bandits; although it is strictly not meant to deal with power brokers who may be using these dangerous allies to their advantage. That task is left to The Church of Asharyyx and their paladins.

Travel between towns and cities is minimal as many people simply refuse to make the trip. When it is absolutely necessary to make these journeys however, people then form large convoys and either request militia aid or attempt to secure mercenary aid. Unfortunately it can be very difficult to enlist the aid of PURE, and so many merchants will submit to outrageous protection prices in order to travel. This of course has its own inherent issues as mercenaries are not the most trustworthy folks. Rumours have spread about entire caravans being handed over to bandits by the mercenaries that were hired to protect them. In many cases it all comes down to a question of price. It is this that has lead to the creation of a mercenary guild called The Grey Vanguard; an organization that has so far earned much respect from the citizenry. These options aside, there are even still those that will brave the journey between towns, but these are few and grim.

Such is the life of those who refuse to abandon their Geftlubaddian heritage. Slowly many things return to how they once were: mines are re-opening slowly; towns are gathering in numbers; resources are very slowly returning into distribution; and the almost legendary nationalistic pride of the Geftlubaddian people is once again sprouting in the hearts of the citizenry.

Dark Dealings

“Are we clear, monster?” came the dark voice from beyond the scrying pool. The heavy words echoed off of the damp stone walls of the sewer in concert with the odd drip of condensation.

“Yeesss dark von…” A inhuman huntched figure stood over the small scrying pool. “Ze collection vill begin immediately. I haf already given ze order to my peeple. Wizen zeven veeks you vill have ze requested numbers. Zen ve shall have our lands?”

“Of course, monster. Your people have been oppressed too long and it is time that you stood on your own hind legs, so to speak.” A face grinned in the shadowy water.

“And ve vill not be forced to be verkink for you?”

“No, you shall be free, my vile friend. Perhaps further work may be negotiated, but you shall be free to decline any offers of course.”

“My peeple are not trustink of your kind. Ve vill perform zis task for you, but no others.” The figure waved a clawed hand sharply to emphasis its point.

“Very well. I leave you to your task. Remember, fail me and your people will stay oppressed forever.” The dark face dissipated slowly into small dark ripples of water.

The creature hissed once more at the scrying pool, turned sharpy on the ball of its foot and strode off into the dark sewer tunnel.


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