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The Throne of Thorns / Re: Crackbones Expedition Journal
« Last post by The Dan on May 31, 2020, 07:56:02 PM »
Day 26, Evening

We cleared out the rest of the bleak place. No more thrones, no further corruption. No sign of the old… thing that croaked a warning as we entered. No chance of defending the place either, alas. All we can do is try to keep others from finding it.

Withdrawing back up onto the canopy, we made the long walk back to camp. Farina says there is disarray in the Sovereign Oath camp, signs of burning, signs of church knights tortured and slain. So they have met and come to blows, that is fortuitous for we judge they will breach the palace walls tomorrow and battle its abominations. While the Oath conquers their empty prize, we will speak to the Huldra. If anyone here can be trusted with this matter, and to do the right thing, it is her.

Day 27, Evening

Progress.

Some debate in camp over Balon’s insistence that the Staff of the First Witch must be kept safe or given to him as his share. Smoothed it over – Korik was not an ass about it, he just wants to keep our agreement clear and mutual. That is no bad thing. I am sure that if it must go to the Huldra, then she will be generous to its rescuers. We’re not selling it exactly, but a generous gift should always be rewarded. It’s simply good leadership.

At dawn we ventured down the canopy again and to the great tree. The elf woman was still weaving her magic, guarded by the witch of witches. I took them a few treats from our supplies for them: Miralba turned into a bear yesterday, maybe she’ll like some black cheese, honey and waybread. Maybe she can tell me how to turn into a troll? Or just have my flesh grow back, the way Farina’s does. She says its more about being a skin-changer – but sometimes, if I really concentrate upon my wounds, I think I can almost feel it happening a little. A very little. Foolish old Crackbones, its probably all in my head.

Feeling my age again today. It’s been a while, but too much hiking and climbing. Killing is easier in some ways. It is over sooner, usually.
We saw the Huldra, told her more than I would have liked… but we must trust someone, and perhaps I am over-wary. Her counsel is to force off anyone who would find the throne, make the cost not worth the final outcome (which it isn’t). Let them exhaust themselves against us or against each other, so they depart and leave Symbar to rot in peace.

There is little more we can do anyway, so why not?

Today’s efforts were to cover our trail, removing anything from the ruins which might lead to the Throne. Looking out of the great tree, my eye fell upon the ziggurat and I knew the magic mirror must be removed or destroyed, lest someone follow the vision it grants of Symbar of old. A tough prospect, but with the aid of Ulg and his crew and their picks and hammers, we were able to hack the magic mirror from the wall and haul it back to our camp. That removes one path at least but who knows what other clues may lay in the ruin?

One path less to follow, at least.

That business done; we could turn to other matters. Balon offered the staff to the Huldra, who confirmed it was once wielded by the first witch. She suggested he keep it, use it to help keep Symbar safe. So be it. His share it is.
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The Throne of Thorns / Re: Farina's Sketchbook
« Last post by Will_you_please on May 26, 2020, 05:39:42 PM »


Farina’s Beginnings.

My life, so far, has been messy. The clan's folk are strict and deadly about their rules and traditions, but who are they to make judgement on me now? Being a witch has brought me respect, through fear and tradition they respect all witches, well they did respect us until they became deluded, so now, they will have to face us as warriors: they won’t ever forget why they feared us, not when they are faced with a witch filled with anger anyhow. 

I had always thought the worse thing to ever happen to me already happened, that I had my share of pain and suffering, and through the hardships I could live an easier, more peaceful life with my duties. But just as I have suffered now, I suffered in the past. Just as I am as powerful as I am now, there was a time when I was utterly weak and helpless to the world around me. Svannih would compare me as the adult I am now to how I was as a child, even as my memories became cloudier, she would remind me of my worse point, so I wouldn’t become that weak again. 

When I was a child, before Svannih, before witches and Orla, just a normal girl living in a remote village in the Godinja lands, my life revolved around my parents. I can’t even remember their names or their faces, Svannih never learned them to tell me either, I just remember two figures being there with me. Apparently both my parents were normal folks who lived their lives without causing anyone issues, were respected and liked by people. Children with healthy, living parents don’t become witches however.

Orphans and those who witches find interesting are taken into apprenticeships by the witches who find them, learn to become witches and, then live their lives according to the duty's witches have to follow. Yet here I am, Blood Wader, twenty-five, and a student under Svannih; at least I was.

Turns out that people don’t have control of their own lives, while having limited control of the lives of those around them. My parents had that control over me, so I suffered along with their choices. 

My father had committed a crime, both my mother and I had to pay the price with him. Svannih wouldn’t tell me the details, “Your father broke a taboo and was found guilty of the crime.”. Breaking a taboo isn't something somebody should think about doing let alone actually committing it. Taboos exist to warn and prevent people from making mistakes, they are there to protect us from the wrath of corruption, the wilds of the Davakar, and becoming a witch just makes it more apparent to why taboos shouldn’t be approached: let alone messed with by the common likes of men. Breaking a taboo is a serious crime indeed, one that can make everyone who cared for you, turn on you and either: hurt you, or forget about you. With my father, his punishment was public execution. My mother was exiled to a remote building on the edge of the Davakar and I was forced to stay with her: because of the crime my father had committed, my life would now be forfeit and I were to spend my remaining days in exile, either to die to the forest or through negligence.

There I spent a year of my life with my mother: as that should’ve been the case, but my mother wasn’t the same after the execution of father, and became more and more isolated with herself. The distance she would put between us was something I couldn’t grasp as a child; how could a mother basically ignore and forget her child? Naturally, now I understand what happened and why it happened, I've seen it develop within the families of others as I grew up, but it still hurts when I think of that vague figure of my mother. 

As time went on and the distance grew, I had no idea how to look after myself let alone my mother. Slowly I started getting skinnier and weaker, no matter how much I tried I couldn’t get mother to look after us both: hunger was nothing new to me, the people we had called friend wouldn’t help us, and that house, that prison of ours, would become our tomb. 

During my younger days however, a young witch had taken it upon herself to find someone she can call apprentice. Naturally she was searching for a child who had potential and was ideally orphaned. Having a child training under a witch is not something parents want to think about. It’s a brutal, hardship to train young witches, dangerous is an understatement, so orphaned children are easier to take in. No one would miss an orphan, well that’s the way I can see it now; it isn’t fair to the parents if their child was to die when someone without parents will do just as well. Luckily for me, this young witch’s path led through the same village I would’ve belonged to, if things hadn’t had gone the way they did, and upon learning about the mother and child living in the remote part of the forest, she decided to check if we were dead, I suppose. Honestly, I don’t care what her reasons were for coming to my tomb but for her own reasons; I am alive today. 

I remember how she walked right in, without any indication of manners, almost like she expected to see corpses. She just stood there, looking at me. Standing there with a bird resting on her shoulder. No words were exchanged, no comforting, she just walked straight into the room mother was in. I didn’t care for much back in those days, I had just accepted I will die there, in that room, so she could have just finished me off and I wouldn’t have minded. Instead, some words were softly being spoken in the same room that mother was in; but I couldn’t make anything out. The witch came out of the room and offered her hand out to me. The first act of kindness someone had shown to me in over a year and I was too shocked to actually take her hand, she knelt down and took my hands into hers and asked me only two questions. “What is your name child?”, to which I responded with “Farina”. My voice sounded like it belonged to a beast learning to talk, not the same voice I had remembered having a year ago. Her second question came as if she didn’t mind the way my voice had sounded. “Do you wish to leave this place?”. At first, I was puzzled. My first impulse was to grab her hand and never let go, and hope that it wasn’t a dream. When I began to think about it though, the less likely it seemed that someone would offer their hand to me. Law had been passed and I am exiled, who would dare counter that sentence? Fearing that this dream would end I decided to take her hand and see what happens. 

I was taken from the place I were to die in and realised that I was walking hand in hand with this person through the very same village that I was exiled from. This woman didn’t care about the people watching her, silently and subtly eyeing her as she basically paraded a child through the streets. Walking to the nearest trader she requested to be given a cloak in exchange for something in her hands. I've never seen someone act this way before, everyone somehow would do what she asked. Thinking about it now I know that they would’ve respected Svannih, while fearing her if she was to be insulted. 

Suddenly something was thrown over me and covered me. The cloak she traded for was wrapped around my tiny body. “Farina.” As my attention drew to the stranger, she began to speak, “You are to come with me and become my apprentice. If you pass the tests, you will be a witch and will follow the duties given to you. If you do not pass the tests then you may die during the training. If you do not want this then return to the edge of the forest. If not, follow me.”, she started walking away and time sped up. I didn’t want to go back to the forest, I didn’t want to be alone while my life extinguishes like a flame in the dark, so I did the one thing that made sense; I immediately jumped forward and followed the stranger. I couldn’t tell what she was doing as the hood of the cloak kept covering my face, no matter how many times I adjusted it, but she sounded gleeful. She introduced herself as Svannih, A Blood Wader of Godinja, and from the looks of her she wasn’t an elderly witch but a more youthful kind. From here on I would follow her everywhere she went, train day in and day out, and as I got older, she would treat me differently. More loving while still being hard on me during the training. It always reminded me about the good times with my family. Now though, those memoires are distant vague sensations. 

I am stronger now. I have more strength then I would've ever had, the respect of those around me and the confidence of those I follow; in my abilities. I would've died a long time ago if it wasn’t for Svannih and I still haven't thanked her enough. Even now, I won’t be able to thank her, and she will never be able to witness my achievements as the years come and go. If she was here, I'm certain she would be making me do another training session; I'd welcome that if it meant she was here with me. 
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The Throne of Thorns / Re: Crackbones Expedition Journal
« Last post by The Dan on May 25, 2020, 11:14:30 AM »
Day 25, Afternoon

So, we won.

There were dead elves in the woods, but no living clansfolk of the Oath. They fought valiantly. They died surrounding their wagons. I know how bad it gets when elves attack. They did their duty well.

Fewer still of the Iron Pact today, however. Too few to try this trick again unless ore elves come. Miralba was a huge bear today, bloody but unbowed. Magnificent lady. We provided the service of our medicus and Ardil did not try to dispose of us once we had serviced his purposes, which was nice. Maybe there is hope of some alliance yet.

We agreed to meet his people in two days, to see what else must be done. He has not changed his mind about his plan. I told him again that more and more will come, and that simply hoping the throne remains unfound is a strategy planned solely by luck. He still wouldn’t tell us where it is, but maybe I gave him food for thought.

I told Miralba this also, and I think she agreed. I enquired if the spiders, monstrous blight-beasts aside, might be allies we could draw on, but she shook her head; they are just another faction to be wary of, although they might talk at least. Sometimes. Maybe. That’s just the way it is with spiders.

Bidding our allies farewell, we considered our options. People arriving every day now, and if we can get this far, so can others. Our lead is like a candle near the stub. We can’t wait and hope like Ardil. We have to find it, even if it just to destroy it or keep it safe – or hell, just to be the first one there and see it, after all this time.

I wonder if it will be more comfortable than the one in the palace.

Day 25, Evening

We win, We are the proud owners of the Throne of Thorns. It is ours, and if any take it after, it is because we let it be so.

Alas there is no glory here. No great honour in finding the long-sought throne. Like Symbar, the story is greater than the truth. Like Symbar, it is death and corruption and no good to anyone save as a lesson in power and wrath.

We found it; I will not write exactly where. I am before it as I write this now, the great black thing pulsing with corruption, in a bleak room of black stone, reeking of dwarf piss (it’s a long story). It is indeed large enough for an ogre’s ass, but mine will not grace it.  No one can sit upon this throne. Anyone who dreamed of Symbar reborn shall see their dreams thwarted. Anyone who wanted to have its power for their own ends will be disappointed.

A great green and violet gemstone glitters in the throne’s back - what our witches call a “power node” but it is a cauldron of corruption. All the wratha that has spread through Symbar and - despite the elf’s work below the great tree – beyond, and throughout the Davokar, is here.

The only power to be claimed here is the power to create another Alberethor.

So, we found it, and its useless. There is nothing to claim or loot here, no prestige in sitting upon its foul stone. It is difficult to guard, though we might try. It is impossible to move, even to touch, without succumbing to its power. We cannot even linger to close nearby; such is its abominable curse. It is beyond our power to destroy. And we cannot say for certain no one will find it. We have much to think about.

So, we must leave.

And yes, Korik pissed all over the floor. I am not sure if it was merely his idea to sow the red plague over the room, but I think he did it for all dwarves. An act of vengeance and contempt again those he says enslaved his race. Or he just needed to piss. That’s sometimes just how it happens.
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The Throne of Thorns / Re: Bran's Journal
« Last post by Brewster24 on May 19, 2020, 11:58:35 AM »
Nothing like a good simple fight

We have made it to Symbar, we've been here for a few days and I don't know what to make of it. There hasn't been the piles of treasure I'd enviseged and neither is there hoards of enemys at every corner. There has been a lot of skulking around however trying to find the throne, the source of the power, not the seat Crack Bones sat on. On the way theres been a lot of thinking, deliberating and discussion, most of which goes right over my head. I can weigh in on who's side we are on, what actions to take. But trying to decifer where the throne is, what to do with it, how to get to it. I've signed out of all that. Luckily my party have a good mix and after joining causes with the Huldra and even some elves I reckon they can make the big decisons and I'll just focus on getting us through it.

On the subject of danger there has been a lot and not my favourite kind. Korik has some magical plague, I and others have fallen into a corruption full river, we've fought giant winged beasts and I got attacked and almost eaten to death by one of our goblins that was possesed. My shoulder still hurts!

Through all the confusion and danger there has been one party that has brough me some much needed normality. The Soverign Oath. More precisely a supply caravan on its way to resupply the group camped in Symbar. Our mission, to ambush the caravan and stop it reaching Symbar, thus weakening those waiting for its supplies. Though Crack Bones is our leader he passed the job of organising the ambush to me due to my experience in the army leading men, god it felt good leading men again! We set up a defensive mound of earth and waited for the skirmish. Once the caravan reached our position they called to us knowing we where there. That didn't matter though, they didn't know our number or exact positions so I sent Kit up alone to talk. A lone goblin would give no indication of our party's allegiance and would hopefully goad the barbarians to attack, which they did. From there it was a simple battle, man to man, the good way. That is until a giant spider came up from the ground and joined in. But I'll forget that, don't want the memory of a good fight being spoiled.
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General Wargaming / Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Last post by padre on May 18, 2020, 02:34:40 PM »
Keep Going!
Somewhere in the mountains of north Tilea, Winter 2403-4

Fricknar had never in all his cruelty-filled life undertaken a journey as difficult as this. They were in such a hurry that they were not allowed to stop for more than a few moments at a time. So far, six nights and five days of almost perpetual motion, a relentless succession of step, step, step; eating, even excreting, on the move. Every now and again he would have to run ahead to shovel something quickly - filling a hole or flattening a lump. Invariably, just as he completed the labour, the trundling engine caught up he was required to move on again.



In his bones he knew that should he continue at this pace another day then it would also become the most painful time of his life, not just the hardest journey. He had been badly beaten three times as a pup, and on the last occasion, as he lay battered and dazed, another pup from his own litter had eaten one of his fingers! He had been wracked with a burning pain in his lungs for countless days when he took a mouthful of warpstone vapour after an manufactory accident. He had been imprisoned in a near airless cage for more than a week as punishment for an infraction he never understood, starved of food and nauseously dizzied by the swinging motion of the cage every time someone pushed it (which many did and often). Right now, his pain and anguish were building up to rival all those past experiences, and by tomorrow, would surely overtake them.

His last task had been to assess the quality of a warpstone batch being offered by a small clan who had acquired it by (the usual) nefarious means. It had been flawed, but still useful, and a price was offered. Before he learned whether the purchase was successful, however, he been ordered to return with all haste to the workshops. Immediately upon doing so, he was assigned this new task - no time for explanations, no rest nor repast, but straight to work.

By the end of the first day he realised he knew none of the engine’s other attendants. Since then there had been little chance to get to know them, what with the incessant motion. Escorting the engine was an all-encompassing task, leaving little time anything else. The tunnels they had travelled through, despite being large, had been irregularly proportioned, in both width and height, and the ground uneven, scattered with tumbled rocks from crumbling walls. Here and there, roots had penetrated the ceiling, and stalagmites and stalactites had been allowed to form along the dampest stretches. Sometimes there was a way around such obstacles, but often they had to be cleared – lifted, hacked or chipped away – and his shovel was a necessary part of nearly all these tasks.



Their orders were clear, and in no uncertain terms: the engine must not collide or scrape against anything, nor should it jolt more than a little, and it should certainly never be allowed to list or careen. Most importantly, it must never stop.

It was possibly the most demanding assignment ever given to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

For a little while he had occupied his mind with attempting to work out whether the attendant who invariably walked in front of the engine, clutching a staff tipped with what appeared to be a fine shard of warpstone …



… or the engine’s driver were responsible for setting the pace, whilst also taking on board the possibility the engine itself might be most to blame. Before he had come to a decision, however, distraction and exhaustion had shattered such trivial considerations.



Now, here in a mountain valley between two tunnel-stretches, on the widest path yet traversed, with no walls or ceiling to concern him, only the ground itself, Fricknar was able to loosen and lift his mask just a little to allow in a breath or two of fresh air, and at long last, he had the chance to talk.



He had questions to ask.

Turning to the attendant closest to him, a red-hooded fellow carrying a tubular locking tool which could loosen any of several bolts on the engine and in the other hand what appeared to be a small gear wheel (presumably ready to replace some potentially defective part) he said,

“I heard we have gift-given much and more to the lord of Foul Peak. Why give this also? Why more and more?”



“Not gifts, no,” said his companion in a whining voice muffled by his mask. “All and everything will be paid for.”

“That matters not,” said Fricknar.

“It matters a lot,” countered the other.

“Yes, yes, to our masters, to the clan. I know-understand,” said Fricknar. “I mean it matters not to what I ask-enquire. Why give him more? Why this most novel, expensive engine? I heard his army has yet to fight one-single battle. His warriors have neither proved themselves capable nor wanting. Yet we fetch-bring such a reinforcement. Why?”

“You do not know-understand what this can do. You did not slave-work on its construction.”

“No, not I,” Fricknar admitted. “I know the quality-worth of warpstone, and I can keep an engine on the move.” He waved his shovel as if to prove the point.

“You have never moved such a one as this.”

Despite having studied the engine on several occasions over the last days, for want of much else to look at during the few moments he had not needed to watch the road, Fricknar looked again.



“I see only a doomwheel, like many others, with a murdering piece fix-attached,” he said.

“Yes, yes, you see that,” scoffed the other. “But what murder this can do. This kills many and much more than anything we have yet made. This might perhaps kill more than any single weapon has ever-ever killed!”

Fricknar looked at the engine again.



“It throws a bomb, yes?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” said the other. “A bomb. One bomb.”

“A poisoned-wind grenado?”

“It throws poison-death, yes, but not wind-vapours. The bomb inside is a thick shell of perfect-pure warpstone, two half-pieces fastened tight-together, and inside that inside is the finest ground-powdered warpstone, the making of which killed many hundred slaves, admixed with black powder in exact and most potent proportion-measure; precise and finely fused to explode the merest moment before touching the ground, which it must-must do, to release flesh-burning death to wash for a hundred and more chebels in each and every direction.”

“Warp-fire?”

“Yes, at first, but then much farther, a pure and poisonous etheric heat, burn-scalding all and only living flesh to a blistered crisp.”

Fricknar fell silent for a while. He had to think this through, for what he had heard did not sit well with his past experiences. Not well at all.

“Precise and finely fused, you spoke-said?” he asked.

“Yes, yes,” said the other. “Most and definitely very necessary.”

“And if, despite your careful care, it explodes too too soon?”

“Think, fool!” said the other, with a snarling hiss Fricknar could sense despite the mask and hood hiding his companion’s face.

He did not need to think. “Too too soon,” said Fricknar, “and we die too.”

“Yes!” said the other, loudly. “If even only a little too soon, then it will not be where we need-want it to be. It must be at the heart of the city. A moment too late and too much heat will pierce the ground - wasteful, for you cannot kill what is already dead.”

“This kills a city?”

“A city. An army,” said the other, a note of arrogant, easy pride in his voice. “Perhaps more?”

Fricknar’s fearful apprehension was now transforming into admiration. Then something occurred to him.

“Where are the bombs?” he asked.

“Are you deaf? Do you not listen-hear?” mocked the other. “You mean where is the bomb?”

Fricknar did not understand. Was that not what he had asked? There was just the engine, no carriage, wagon or slaves to bear a limber of any kind. He had absently assumed that the ammunition must already be at their destination, but hearing his companion’s description suggested such a cargo would be too rare and precious to be merely stockpiled elsewhere.

The bomb,” said the other, emphasising the singularity, “is inside. It broil-brews, always and now, growing more and more potent by the hour. To haul-carry it separately would mean by the time we tried to load it into the engine all who came near-close would die immediate-quickly.”

This made no sense to Fricknar. “But we are nearby, and for days?”

“Yes, yes. The iron barrel enclosing it is thick-strong and inscribed inside with most potent-effectual sigillic wards, perfectly carved.”



Fricknar could imagine the carver squirming inside the barrel to carve such sigils - a suffocating, claustrophobic trial undoubtably far worse than his time in the cage.

“Could not a container-chest be made with such thickness or more?” he asked. “Such sigils? And better sealed tight-secure?”

“Yes, yes it could. No doubt. More easily made. More safely carried. But think, to load the murdering piece we would have to remove the bomb from the chest after it had broil-brewed for the whole journey. Impossibly intolerable.”

“Could slaves not be ordered to do so? Or some monstrous creation of Clan Moulder?”

“No, no, never. They would die the very instant the chest was breached.”

Fricknar glanced back at the engine.

“And dead slaves and ogres cannot load anything,” he said almost to himself. Then, louder, he asked, “So the sigil-wards prevent all harm leak-spilling out?”

“Not all, no,” said the other, as if it were obvious.

Of course, Fricknar should have known this. He pulled his loosened mask tight again, immediately regretting every breath of ‘fresh’ air he had taken. No skaven workshop ever made anything completely safe. The ever-present fear of punishment meant there was always haste as corners were cut, mistakes were inevitably concealed, and tests were deemed a pointless exercise when something was already completed. If it is built, use it! Worse still, most engines were made before the principles were even fully understood, so that the very design had flaws before even the first component part was assembled. None of those who invented or fashioned such engines cared a jot for the fate of those who would be ordered to use them; besides, once one engine was taken, they were immediately busy with the next, then the next.

“It is impossible to prevent it all, for it is far too potent, and grows ever more so,” the other continued. “Why do you think the engine never stops? It cannot be allowed to. If it did then too, too much of its etheric heat would concentrate-congeal in one single place. Then there would be none left to move it.”

Fricknar was confused again. “We have our masks, our waxed robes, our cylinder-filters, yes. But look here, these clanrats, they have guard-escorted us so, so far, even through the long tunnels. Why are they not dead or dying?”

There were two bands of guards, one marching before the engine, which included a weapons team armed with a rattling gun …



… and another lot behind.



“You did not witness-see the changing?” asked the other.

“What changing?”

“Yes, the changing. You must have been labour-working, up ahead clearing away the tangle-mass or the shattered shards of dripping rocks. These are not the guards we began the journey with.”

Fricknar knew he was exhausted and distracted, but he had not realised just how much he had failed to notice. Yet, he thought, his point still stood.

“Then I ask, these-here new guards, why are they not dead?”

“Hush! They will be soon enough. If there are no more changings, some perhaps will die before we arrive at Foul Peak. They have only lasted this long because we have not stopped.”

“No, wait,” demanded Fricknar, having spotted a flaw in the other’s arguments. “I know there is little truth-sense in your words. Those two, there, with the rattler, they have been here with us from the start. They have no robes or masks.”



“But they always scuttle-run ahead, as ordered, never behind, never in the engine’s wake-trail. This buys them time. Remember how they were on the first day? Yes? Look close now and you will see how they flag, how they stumble-stall. Look closer and you will see how their skin peels and their fur falls in lumps. Look into their eyes and you will see that death already tugs at their tails.”

Fricknar was getting frustrated by the frantic insanity of his companion’s words. Whatever answers they contained, there were always more questions. Even now, something bugged him.

“You say before we arrive at Foul Peak?” he asked. “How can we arrive if we cannot stop? How can our journey end? Are we to use this weapon against Foul Peak?”

“No, not there. Against the lord of Foul Peak’s enemies. Do you never listen-hear?”

“I will hear your answer,” said Fricknar, his anger momentarily mastering his fear. “How can we arrive at Foul Peak?”

“We shall arrive soon enough, but this does not mean we shall stop-stay, only pass through, there to be joined by more and others, to learn where we must go next, and so continue, on and on.”

This was impossible, thought Fricknar. He had a day left in him, perhaps another if his fear could dominate his pain to keep him on his feet.

“How can we continue?” he complained. “It is impossible! Our legs will be worn to nothing-nubs if we try.”

“All is prepared and arranged by our masters and the lord of Foul Peak,” said the other. “New attendants await the engine at the mountain. We will be allowed to rest-lie upon litters, to be carried on at some remove.”

“And then?”

“Then we will be command-ordered back to the engine. If we are fortunate-lucky we will be attending when it fires.”

“Lucky?” spat Fricknar. “How is there any good fortune in taking such a risk?”

“To watch it work. To see-witness a whole city killed or an entire army obliterated!”




6
The Throne of Thorns / Re: Crackbones Expedition Journal
« Last post by The Dan on May 16, 2020, 12:10:39 PM »
Day 25, Lunchtime

We killed good, strong folk today. Sovereign Oath. A clash of shield and spears in the old way. Good fight. Good deaths for all. In fresh air, no less. It is good to fight men again after so many monsters.

Today was concentration and strength - drobback and dracofnik, in the old tongue of Symbar. 

We combined our might with that of the remaining elves, to stop the supply caravan. Being elves, they took to the forest to ambush and stalk. We got the hard job, out on the plain.

The battle was west of the lost city, on a dusty red plain, bare and lifeless, like old dried gore. Most odd, compared to the abundant life that is everywhere else – even the blighted places have some life. This I will get to later. Little cover there, just sundered ruins, no more than boulders; so, we dug a trench and raised a mound to give us cover from their scouts. I am not so over-proud that I will not lift a shovel. I even brought my own. Good memories of simpler times. It is good, after so much leading of this expedition, for a simple battle to the death: Just “us” and “them”.

Ha!

As their wagons started to emerge from the forest, we heard the cries of pain and surprise, long familiar to me as the start of an elf-battle. We, meanwhile, took on the vanguard: A dozen strong shieldwall and a pair with heavy, hafted axe wielders. Skilled fighters, hard hitters. They knew the import of their cargo, as did we. A tough fight, I honour them.

Of course, things are never so simple.

Partway into the clash of battle-metal, there was a rumbling in the cracked earth and we were interrupted: Some giant, corrupted, rotten spider-thing remnant of the war dragged itself up from the crust – one of that ancient spider army’s blighted causalities no doubt. It seemed to have been sleeping below the dust, awoken by the screams and blood soaking into the earth. I knew there was a reason for this wasteland! This whole damn place is probably dried up spider bodies, all the way down.

It almost got Farina, pouncing, spewing acid from its jaws, ‘healing’ itself after our blows. Nevertheless, I was able to force it to the ground, and Kit’s flashing knives killed it. Bloody spiders – just when I was starting to feel better about you.

We are bloodied but victorious, and Spiderbane has served its purpose once again. Now we must see how the elves are doing – and if they will keep their side of our ‘alliance’ now the fighting is done.
7
The Throne of Thorns / Yagaba's journal
« Last post by IHaveNoIdeaWhatImDoingAHH on May 12, 2020, 10:09:38 PM »
The below is written in crude barbarian between the pages of a worn leatherbound journal. Several pages have already been ripped out.
---
With the arrival of battle in the morning and my death almost a certainty in the realms of Symbar I suppose a book and quill is more useful as a journal than reserves to wipe my ass with. At least this way I shall be, at the very least, inconveniencing the Sovereign Oath. If keeping a piece of my experience within these pages means that one day it will fall into the hands of one of my kin, then so be it. I shall start off light, and hope my writing is still intelligible to my Biaga clansmen.

I suppose I should try to start from the beginning. It’s difficult to remember past the terror of Grabando. If I survive long enough I will note about this later mind you . Being kept awake at nights at the screams of clansmen was what I suppose drove me on my path, only confirmed by dreams sent to e by Arex. The white wasn’t where I thought I’d ever end up as a child, but here we are. I can’t say it’s been all bad. My ability to handle spirits has led to many entertaining encounters.

My present company, an odd mix of barbarians, humans and even a dwarf and ogre, take it differently, though I suppose they don’t care if it helps find treasure. I find it a necessity. The past is all, and the longer we keep connections to it the longer I believe we preserve the old ways. On a side note, the travel to and around Symbar have had me thinking whether it is the old ways that have caused such chaos within the Davakar. I should hope that these great tomes we have found will help to piece together some of the lost past.

My treck through Ambria was disastrous at first. Ambrian’s, I have found, are completely unsympathetic to even their own. Such a break from the traditions of clan Baiaga hit hard, even after being outcast. There was plenty for me to learn, but first I wanted to learn tongues, learn as many as possible. Of course, I started with Ambrian, and as I worked my way through the villages to the towns and then cities my coin pouch was growing empty and my stomach along with it. Most jobs had me doing menial work, though one particular bakery job was quite the catch.
I quickly learnt the Ambrian’s did not favour my skills. After traversing to woodlands and donning my ceremonial shroud a group of returning hunters had spotted me. I suppose among the mass of bones teeth and severed fingers I would look quite the sight.    
   
The Ambrian’s catered to a strange bunch, and the poorer I got the more entertaining I found their willing to stoop to any level. They were like cockroaches, but bigger, and uglier. In the end though, this is what saved my life. People within Yndaros were a peculiar bunch, and at my worst, where I thought of abandoning my dream, a fellow contacted me. I hadn’t the slightest clue who they were, or who they worked for, but the idea of using my abilities in such ways didn’t sit well with me. You see, they needed to know where a contact, who had perished, had hidden coin. I suppose they did not know how my abilities worked, or that I must have a body part of said spirit. One of their associates had a finger… I didn’t ask.
All was going well until we came to the resting place of the man. It was an ugly sight, but also a trap. I think it was something of a gang war, but I ended up an oddity to the small people who bashed my skull in. They didn’t kill me for whatever reason, perhaps wishing to sell me to the Black Cloaks, but this is where present company, predominantly Crackbones, came in as a knight in shining, 9”9ft armour.

I suppose I should preface in saying that my time with Ambrian’s had been an overall poor experience, and when a towering man with 5 other equally strange people came along and saved my life, I hopped onto their bandwagon. Despite three of their party being Ambrian, they seemed well enough. Crackbones was most accommodating, and I think he believes I hold the secrets to the world. He was straight forward with his goal: be the first to find Symbar and it’s throne of thorns. I thought why not, perhaps I could learn a new skill along the way. It felt right, either way, and I had no regrets leaving my not so stable life behind for an even more unstable, unsure future.
8
The Throne of Thorns / Re: Crackbones Expedition Journal
« Last post by The Dan on May 10, 2020, 01:58:53 PM »
Day 23, Night

Back at camp, safe and sound, satisfied.

Its late, but no one is in the mood to sleep. Why? Because we are treasure hunters – successful ones! It has been a good day, in the end. Death is always kinsman to this profession. I feel like a fraud now, less like a stupid ogre with ideas above is station.

Ha! I have always had ideas above my station! Otherwise, I would not be here.

Anyhow, we have plundered the ziggurat and unearthed its secrets. No throne or crown or key to it, but a hoard of treasure – pure gold, shared out among us all, bearers included. We have earned it. We have done it. Now we just have to escape this place alive.

This is not the end of the path quite yet. We have new knowledge of the city and where that greatest treasure of all may be. That is for tomorrow though, after we have seen these elves the witches wish to ally with.

We wrapped poor Inga in a shroud. Torbjorn wants to burn her, in accordance with her faith. But we must wait or do it far from here. So, for now she waits with us.

Day 24, Morning

Yesterday we were treasure hunters. Today we are something else.

They could have wanted to cut their losses and run. I thought they might, but they did not. Even Korik seems to appreciate that this is about more than gold. These people made him, made dwarves, I mean, after all. At least that is what he says and Longenof agrees, apparently. Maybe he hopes there is a yet greater prize somewhere in the ruins (the throne perhaps) but I suspect he wants to ensure no one can forge his people again or enslave them.

Torbjorn put it best. “We were treasure hunters,” he said, “but this is not about treasure anymore.”

Day 24, Afternoon

A day of rest. A day without danger, pain, or worry – the first since that afternoon by the waterfall, which seems a hundred years ago now. A hard day tomorrow, but today we lay back in soft green grass and enjoy a brief respite. Even Korik looks a little better, now that the witches have given him medicine for the red plague. So, a rest day.

We also met the Iron Pact.

Following the witches’ directions, we joined the witch Amanmar in a glade south of the city, where the forest is still whole. The Huldra and Miralba remained in the great tree, guarding the elf woman; busy still weaving the canopy to contain the city, Amanmar assured us. The elf named her as Valarai-Aia and confirmed what we suspected – that she is holding back the darkening as best she can. But she is slowly failing. That at least is not my task. What good are Huldras if they cannot help with such things, eh?

In the glade we saw half a dozen elves – which usually means there’s twice that number hiding somewhere close – but still, hardly a show of force. Things seemed peaceful enough though, almost ‘welcoming’ (which is how I describe ‘indifference’ when I meet elves). We met an autumn elf by the name of Ardil, leader of the Pact’s forces, and a taller elf who seemed not seem quite with us, like a child or a very old human, who was introduced to us as Geliael. A witch maybe, or whatever the elf equivalent is.

These and a few others are the remnants of the Iron Pact in Symbar. The rest have been slain by the hands of the Sovereign Oath, trying to keep them away from the cursed city. It is hard to read the faces of elves, but my guess is they have buried many companions of late. What number of elves are even in this forest, all told? Enough that they could go to war, but now not enough to keep fighting. I think that is either very bad or very good news for you, depending on where you stand.

Numbers are indeed to the problem. The Oath continues to hack its way through the undercity, and the elves are too few here (perhaps everywhere now) to fight them, to stop them eventually breaching the plateau, that undulating red moss, and breaking into the palace.

Without witches, corruption is no doubt rife among them, and the abominations in the grounds will no doubt take more than a few, but I am not so full of hope that I believe the dracwyrm will be killed or dissuaded. Sooner or later they will discover that the power of the throne is not there. The means to raise their new empire of Symbar is not there. And then they will come looking for it.

And even the ruins of Symbar are a thing they can claim renown and power from. To simply be here, to ‘own’ it, is a great victory for them in overthrowing the High Chieftain.

Clearly, they must be stopped, even if, their witch-hate aside, they may not be entirely wrong in their belief that the southern clans have been tamed and weakened by Ambria. Fatefully, they are starving. This gives us an opportunity to strike deeper than either our numbers or Ardil’s would allow:  A caravan is coming with supplies from the north, and Ardil believes its destruction may end them without a battle. That may save lives on both sides.

But Ardil does not have enough men to take the caravan alone. That of course, is where we come in. The elf lord does not trust us, and that is fair enough. This will help us both. This may even make us friends if elves are capable of that. After all, if I can be friends with spiders why not them? Thinking about it, they only really started shooting at me when I started working for the Ambrians. Oh well, life is change – no matter how good the wine is going in, it is all piss coming out.

Ah, this place, all these factions and repercussions. They make me think so hard. It makes my head hurt sometimes. It is probably good for me. Chess made my head hurt when I learned that. “It is not just a game,” the old man said, “it is about seeing a wider world you did not see before.”

Maybe I should see the wider world, if I live through this.
9
The Throne of Thorns / Re: Farina's Sketchbook
« Last post by Will_you_please on May 07, 2020, 06:20:22 PM »

Farina walking with Yeleta, Miralba and Amanmaar 

After being led through the under city of Symbar, by the undead soldiers Lord Siriad Ador-An lent us, we finally arrived at the Ziggurat that may hold the power source to The Throne of Thorns, there was what looks like the base of a giant tree leading up to the canopy above us, that must be the same one I saw the Sovreign oath camp at earlier yesterday. 

After the meeting with Yeleta, Miralba and Amanmaar earlier today, the group was to make our way to the ziggurat and feed the information back to them via me. I am to fly through the roots and await the witches at the tower then show them the way to meet with the rest of the group. Thankfully this plan succeeded without a single issue. Bar leaving Orla with the group without a quick way of escape, but I trust Yagaba and Crack-bones to protect her when I leave her with them. 

This is where the day goes from mildly bad to a day to remember for good reasons. Walking through the corrupted under city was the worst part of the day but now, I have been given the good part of the day, balance has been achieved. 

Flying back from the root canopy I was intercepted by an eagle which reminded me of the eagle that came at us yesterday. Miralba’s eagle form obviously. She naturally must've been looking for me which that must mean that they have found the Iron pact, completed their mission, and now wish to be shown the route to the Ziggurat. Instead of flying to the tower as planned, I had taken a detour to the camp to grab a purple sap to use back in the under city, Miralba followed me into the camp but decided to stay outside the living fortress when it didn’t open for her. I had a feeling she already knew it wouldn’t open for her anyway and decided not to even try and enter. 

When the defence at the camp questioned me about Crack-bones party, I gave them quick but reassuring answers because I had other things I wanted to do now; but there wasn’t anything to worry about so they needn’t to followed or worry. Upon exiting the camp, Miralba stood waiting for me in her naked form.

“Have you found the Ziggurat?” Miralba asked. Even though this was a sensitive mission she didn’t sound hurried or even impatient, but the opposite. After telling her where it is located and that my group is waiting for them right now, she informed me that we would have to meet up with the Huldra and my keeper to escort them the way. Not being able to shapeshift must suck but this is the golden opportunity I have been waiting for. A long walk with the famous Miralba and the Huldra. If I don’t take this chance to make a good impression and ask the questions, I have been longing to ask, I doubt I'll get another chance.

But first thing first I need to settle some things with Amanmaar. 

I haven’t seen Amanaar since a few days before the culling began and I don’t know what has happened to everyone, bar a few close friends, and maybe he knows what happened. I won’t have this being the first thing I say before the Huldra and Miralba though, first I introduce myself and tell them both I am a Blood Wader, my clan was Godinja and that I am a witch under Amanmaar while my teacher was a Blood Wader named Svannih. Naturally Yeleta knew that much about me from Amanmaar I guessed but, I wanted to see that same faint smile from Miralba when she first found out I was a Blood Wader of Godinja. 

However, making a fool of myself has to wait because I need to tell Amanmaar what happened and ask some questions. 

I begin by telling Amanmaar what happened while he was away: The meeting that turned into an ambush then turned into a massacre, then mass burnings. I tell him what happened from the morning till the first night I had to survive in the Davakar, about who I saw die without any warning, those who were burned and tortured, those who screamed for help that I couldn’t give, and the stupidly small group I was told to lead out while Svannih tried to help more. Amanmaar didn’t know Svannih well but he knew her well enough to care about what happened. I didn’t hold back when it came to Svannih and how she tried saving more than she already saved, about how she fought till the end defending those who couldn’t fight anymore and how I couldn’t describe what I felt when she was slain while I watched from afar. Svannih was the greatest woman I have ever met and I knew her better than some people could have ever done so I knew for a fact she wouldn’t regret dying like that, that she would've died fighting while bringing down those who killed her than run away; while people she knew and cared for were being slaughter for fanatical beliefs. It was at that point that I saw the truest shape of the woman who had trained me. A Blood Wader in her environment. Blades danced around her, arrows flew into the wrong targets, enemies turned against one another and body after body fell before, she was finally taken down. It made me proud to have seen her final moment and nobody can make her name less known for her final act was just that worthy of warrior. 

I tell Amanmaar of my plan for joining this group. I tell him that I will find something to end this little war between men, how I plan to find something in this place that will allow me to kill those responsible for the deaths of those I called friends, and the one that basically brought me up.

When I was finished, I could tell that Amanmaar was feeling my pain. He had lost his clan and all those who followed him to the people we are now calling our enemy. He however warns me about this vengeance plan of mine. First, he warns me about the power that vengeance can hold over people, witches have been lost to Wratha during their foolish plans to seek out vengeance. Witches who thought of nothing but revenge brought down by their own power, instead brought about a darker world from where they lost themselves. Amanmaar then reminds me that I must seek out a balance between Wyrtha and Wielda for that is the duty of all witches. So, I must always think about how my actions can affect this world and everything that I have been taught to protect, while achieving my revenge... I must survive to see the blood that has been spilt, repaid in some way so I will fight the urges to kill everything and keep aware that the balance cannot be tipped into Wratha that we all will pay instead of those murderers. 

Naturally Amanmaar understood my pain, he only asked that I help with the current situation and keep my duty in mind before acting foolishly. I agreed to wait for this pathetic phase to end before I sought out my revenge but who knows, I could always enjoy a year or two of adventuring before making those murders pay. Or when they begin to collapse, which one comes first I suppose. 

Amanmaar takes over at this point.

“No one survived that night Farina. You’re the first one I met from our tribe but I fear that no one will be seen, for the Oath have made more culling's since that day and our numbers have dwindled too few now.”

I already knew that this was the case however. I only saw one group leave the village and that was the same group who died around me. I don’t know why but I haven’t felt this happy since that same night. Here I was, with the famous Miralba, the survivor Amanmaar, and The Huldra Yeleta. There are other witches who would’ve survived the same fate as Svannih and there will be one thing for certain. The Sovreign Oath will come to an end. Either by the hands of their enemies or by the hands of those who have survived and have become more lethal than they could possibly imagine mystics being. 
10
The Throne of Thorns / Re: Fireside chat
« Last post by Will_you_please on May 07, 2020, 04:30:23 PM »
Heading back to the camp for the day off, Farina turns to the group.

"I've ran out of my supply of purple sap and would like to to grab some off the mules, once we make it back to camp. Are they of-limits or is there a limit to the amount I can take?"
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