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Next Up: Sidebar - Repercussionsby Greywolf-ELM
"What! Gurt and Filp are dead!" The Hobgoblin had to fight to keep from wetting himself. Butor towered over him, as he did over all Hobgoblins, and most other Ogres. The Ogre Chieftain angry, was not what Hacek wanted to see right now. Butor glowered at him then seemed to calm down some.
"They send the goodest tribute." Butor paced at the head of the table of leaders. Butor stopped and turned in front of Hacek; a meaty finger reaches out to poke the Hobgoblin in the chest. "What is your warband?"
Hacek straightened his back, preparing himself to die bravely. "Mighty Chief Butor, We are the Leg Breakers."
"Ootah's boys. MMmm; He sent you in, to avoid the beating of bad news." Butor turned back to his pacing. "You say to Butor, it is Orcs from across the river? Red Orcs cross the river, and kill my warband. Orcs good warriors to kill, and not lose any Orcs." With a glance back at Hacek Butor addresses the other Ogres. "The Vile Runes will learn that Ogres not easy to kill. We show them up close." Butor steps away from the table and reaches a hand over to a nearby stew pot, large enough to hold a full-grown troll. With the other hand, Butor points at the shaman waiting in the shadows. Butor grins at the Hobgoblin "Tell Ootah that shaman is getting hungry, report by warband leader only."
Hacek stares at the cauldron with eyes opening in fear. It is rumoured that the shaman will cook someone alive, in that enormous pot, and eat the meat from the bones. Nodding, Hacek lets out a sigh of relief. "Yes Mighty Chief Butor, I will tell him." Understanding that he was dismissed, the Hobgoblin turns and hurries for the room's main exit.
Stepping back to the table of leaders, Butor slams his fist down. "Now we plan war."
Eric stood looking over the work on the Roadside Outpost. Eric is a tall man, powerfully built, with the look of someone trained for battle. After the death of his brother Martin, and the soldiers here, not to mention the townsfolk from down the road, this outpost was picked for an upgrade. Eric volunteered for the upgrade project. Much of the work was completed already and new soldiers were assigned for duty here.
The dead Cleric told the story of a brutal group of Orcs out searching for weapons and armour. They are almost a new breed of more powerful brutes, eager to kill and smarter for survival. His death was brutal, and slow. He did not want to be resurrected to remember those long minutes for the rest of his life. He had pieced together from bits of conversation, that they were on a coming of age ceremony to become full tribal members.
The soldiers were killed, and all of the Orc prisoners released. Darokin patrols will be increased to watch for more of these raids on the borderlands. Maybe some of the patrols could push farther North, along the trade routes through the Broken Lands.
Ugoora Redscale sat pondering her schemes from her throne room in Vuushkek, her fortress city in the underdark of Kol, the kingdom of Kobolds. There have been reports from all holdings across Mystara, except for the new tribe in Darokin lands. Attempts to contact Buimbu, the Sorcerer have been fruitless. Attempts to reach the tribe leader have gone unanswered as well. That sorcerer better not have killed everyone with one of his experiments. His last message was disordered and not the kind of detailed work required of operatives.
"My Queen. I have advanced the schedule for integrating abilities from other races into the Kobold lines. So far I have three strains that are useful, I am sending examples of each to you for further study and breeding if you approve. This facility has increased the yield and shortened experimentation time more than I could have hoped. In a matter of months I can breed you a small army of super-Kobolds. There have been mistakes, but the losses have been acceptable. I have summoned assistance from the beyond. I knew you would not mind. Some of the soldiers are resistant to my needs, and I required unquestioning obedience. In response to your inquiries, I have not seen Tribe Leader Vetnor in days; I hope that he is well. A new batch of the greens is about to hatch, I must return to my work. I will communicate again soon. Your loyal servant, Buimbu"
Making a decision, Ugoora settles back into her throne. "Guard, summon my advisers, I have something to discuss with them."
The Master sits in a cave waiting patiently for the return of his agents. It is time for reports, and let none of them be lacking. It was not good to let these Orcs think they can shirk their duty. Power is all they understand. At least one will have to die again, as an example to the others. If only they didn't taste so bad.
Enamaendra, Tiery, and Babushka sit around a campfire fire, discussing how they will track down the taint that has taken over this part of the Duchy. Duke Stefan called them together to root out the cause. Trade North to Darokin is having trouble North of Kelvin. Undead have taken residence in the swamp, and are killing anything travelling on the road. All previous attempts to disperse the problem have met with failure and none have returned. As the most powerful of the nearest vassals, these three were called up to investigate. Tiery managed to turn nearly two-dozen Wight's to ashes earlier in the day. All evidence leads to a Dragon who lairs further to the East.
"I've turned nigh on 20 of the beasties so far today."
Enamaendra sat polishing his armour and sword. "I can help with that, if you are overwhelmed my friend."
The nearly civilised Babushka looks at both of them in the late afternoon. "We camp too early. Our enemies will come looking for us while we are at ease."
To illustrate her point, the crashing of trees can be heard from the East, along with the soft counterpoint of the flapping of leathery wings. A huge minotaur comes stomping through the swamp and scrub trees. "What are you doing in my Swamp?"
Large even by minotaur standards, Kuurnok is an imposing nine feet of blackened steel and horns. Most of the flesh has rotted away from his skull, exposing the bleached bone beneath, and his eyes have completely disintegrated, leaving only flickering, red pinpoints of malice within his sockets. Kuurnok's head is the only portion of his body that is visible; the rest is encased in the armour he never removes. He proudly displays the symbol of Baphomet on his breastplate, and even has the demon lord's sigil engraved into the visible portions of his skull. Kuurnok's mere presence seems to drain the light from his surroundings, and a smothering cloud of terror follows him wherever he goes.
Flying along with Kuurnok is Thenebrenar.
Eternally trapped in the third age of a dragon's life cycle, Thenebrenar has had to rely on assets other than physical might to best his enemies. At just over 15 feet in length, he is by no means a large dragon, and his dry, shrivelled flesh makes him appear even smaller than he actually is. Thenebrenar's undeath is readily apparent to those versed in necromantic lore, as his entire body is gaunt and shrunken, as if it were merely an empty husk. The flesh around Thenebrenar's head has almost completely rotted away, exposing much of his skull, and the eerie green pinpoints of light that flicker in his empty eye-sockets are enough to spook even the most seasoned adventurer.
These three seasoned adventurers stand and move towards their foes. Enamaendra quickly calls upon the power of his god to turn the undead. No dice, these guys are beyond his ability to affect. Meanwhile his world is shattered by Abyssal blast from the Fist of Baphomet (Kuurnok), who has called upon the dark powers of his deity to smite the Paladin and Cleric before him. The little ball of fury, which looks like a female with a greatsword, manages to avoid the opening blast by the minotaur.
She does not, however, avoid the blast of acid, as Thenebrenar swoops down, and manages to line Babushka and Tiery in the disgorgement of his acid breath. Flying past, Thenebrenar turns at a distance for another pass. He never gets the chance. Tiery turns and calls upon the power of his god to "Destroy these undead abominations, I beseech thee." Thenebrenar is shaken with the power, and circles back around to flee directly west, as fast as he can possibly fly.
Kuurnok laughs off the power of the Cleric, as he is bolstered by the power of Baphomet, and his abilities as a divine champion. The next thing he is aware of, the woman is trying to chop through his legs with her greatsword, leaving barely a scratch.
Seeing his attempt to channel his gods power fail to affect the minotaur, Tiery unleashes a pillar of fire staggering the Death Knight, who flies into a rage. Enamaendra moves in to battle his counterpart, and unleashes the power of his Holy avenger upon the beast, opening wounds much more damaging than the frenzied berserker and her greatsword.
"Your weapon must be empowered with GOOD to affect this beast." Kuurnok steps back and unleashes the powers of his halberd upon Babushka, three quick blows, and she is staggering under the vile damage and acid bursting from the weapon.
More ineffectual attacks by the Frenzied Berserker, and Kuurnok inflicts enough damage upon Babushka to kill two people. As Kuurnok is busy with pounding Babushka, Enamaendra steps in to an unguarded flank, and nearly beheads the minotaur. Kuurnok is hurt badly and not amused, and brings his weapon around to someone who he might be able to kill.
As he moves forward, Tiery holds his Holy Symbol up high. "May this healing bolster my allies, and heap goodness upon my enemies." With a nearly audible thump, power emanates from the Cleric as his spell spreads outward from him. Healing the enormous damage done to Babushka and any done to Enamaendra.
Kuurnok manages to throw off the affects of the spell and bring about the power of Divine Wrath on the hapless paladin, with multiple slashes from the empowered Halberd, Enamaendra drops to the ground lifeless.
Tiery calls upon one of the most powerful spells in his arsenal, The Miracle. "My Lord, please bring this worthy soldier back to life, so that he may finish this battle, and continue to smite evil in battles to come."
With lacerations from cuts and sizzling from spells slowly healing, the minotaur steps back to attack again, as both warriors crowd in to finish him off. "Baphomet, lend me strength to defeat these humans." The plea falls upon deaf divine ears. Attempting to smite Infidel, Kuurnok makes a final attack on Enamaendra, and manages to hurt the paladin badly again.
Finally, with cuts from the Holy avenger in Enamaendra's hands, and the greatsword in Babushka's hands, Kuurnok falls. Just in time, as Babushka begins coming down from her frenzied state.
"I guess Baphomet will be needing a new fist." Enamaendra laughs.
The cleric turns to his friends. "Now, where did that Dragon get off to?"
Kuo-Toa warriors slowly drag the body of a netted Orc back into the water. Orcish yelling and shouting can be heard further along the underground beach. "The fish-men attack, grab weapons! Eerk "
The leader of the raid looks around. The edge of the forest is nearby, just on the other side of the beach. These Orcs were not very smart, but they will make good strong slaves. His orders were to raid Orc encampments around the underground sea, and bring back as many slaves as possible. Trouble is expected, and defences must be built.
With a wave of his spear, and a burbling call to his warriors, Kcha-Kurrun backs slowly into the water. This raid has been successful.
Footnote: Thanks to BlackDirge for his Monstrous creations Kuurnok, Ugoora and Thenebrenar; they made for an evening of fun. See his article on the articles page