Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

For in-universe game play. Journey through both familiar and foreign settings, explore lost ruins and forgotten cities, and try to bring light to the darkness of the world... or, you know, blow stuff up. Either way.

Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Jack Rothwell » March 17th, 2020, 5:10 pm

The main street was a hive of activity.

The travellers saw the natives bustling through the ground level of the Uran settlement in numbers that had to be in the hundreds. Here; hunting parties arming themselves for the evenings meal, there, actual blacksmiths assembling spears and bows for the same purpose. A crowd of gah skidded to a halt as the group made their way through the crowds and stared at the humans with naked interest; saving the biggest portion for the giant frame of Shorty.

"The children don't get to see your kind much." Said Alleece, who'd taken over the leader's role as soon as Tamina had departed to make her way to the top floor. "Usually they're out in the fields to the south helping with the crops. We picked a busy time to arrive." She grudgingly conceded a point. "The Uran might be on the warlike side but at least they make the effort to care for their young."

The smell of cooking fires and the foreign tongues of merchants purveying their wares were enough to set stomachs growling. T'ska in particular left a lingering gaze at a huge spit upon which that looked like chicken but certainly wasn't was turning. He broke his gaze with a regretful sigh and resumed his watch of the merchandise they carted. Alleece gave him a companionable clap on his broad back.

"Come on. Let's get this done and afterwards try to have some fun."
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Graybeard » March 17th, 2020, 8:56 pm

Shorty blushed as one of the gah, braver than the others, dashed up to him and did a cute little dance in front of the humans. Rip was amused; there wasn't much opportunity for interactions with children on the Bonny Read, and certainly not when the hunt was on. His little grin broadened at the notion of Wrackham and Kattie producing little, uh, gah of their own, which he'd gathered might not be entirely impossible given the size of the haul they'd made off with on their last raid. Like most of the crew, he'd never seen Kattie any more undressed than that one day on board where there'd been a small incident involving a cat and a navigator, so he couldn't be sure how far into private territory her numerous piercings extended. But extrapolating from what was visible, he could just imagine the reaction of a baby starting to turn to her for food in the usual newborn style, only to find itself with a mouthful of metal rather than mommy ...

When the gah ran away (to hoots and calls from her friends), he started to laugh, and turned to Shorty to share that thought ... but before he spoke, he noticed that his friend wasn't laughing and smiling. Quite the contrary, in fact; a bit of mist had formed in the corners of Shorty's eyes.

"Uh, you okay, big guy?" Rip asked, trying to muster some empathy rather than humor.

The mist got heavier. "Uh ... well ..." Shorty mumbled softly. "It's just that -- little girl reminded me of -- my wife and daughter, a long time ago ..." The mist in his eyes grew even heavier and started to rain.

I never knew, thought Rip, shaken. I never knew. He stopped to comfort his friend, their surroundings forgotten for the moment.

[OOC: Note that the spellings of "Kattie" and "Wrackham" were inconsistent back in the day, if you want to do a search for more about those fun times. "Katie," "Rackham," and so on. These two, however, are more or less the canonical names.]
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Jack Rothwell » March 19th, 2020, 4:16 pm

Tamina was escorted swiftly but reasonably courteously to the highest level of the Uran Village. The pace her guards set made it clear that lollygagging wasn't really on option. Her heart had accelerated despite herself; Leli had always been the one to handle diplomacy with other tribes as long as she could remember, and the reputation of Braccus fierceness preceded him as a bailiff to a judge.

The home of the village/city chief was even more imposing when she got close. It sat in the upper tier of the ancient tree where branches had been cleared with an enormous amount of effort to frame the dwelling. Tamina guessed it was large enough to have housed her entire tribe before the Ralkin bastards had come and committed so much murder. Windows were lined with sharp stakes, as was the chimney of the second floor where an eruption of dark smoke poured forth; putting the young kobold in mind of a volcano.

She wondered if what was inside was as dangerous.

"<Come.>"

The grunt of one of the guards shook her out of her reverie and she strode towards the entrance. A second pair of guards sporting their leader's insignia pulled the double doors open without comment. Although she couldn't miss the snide looks she got from the larger humanoids.

The room beyond had the feel, but not the appearance, of a waiting room.There were chairs lining the walls, hunting trophies and charms hung from the ceiling, presumably to ward off hostile energies. Some of them she even recognised as Leli's design. Tamina even saw a pretty female sitting behind a table with a bored expression at the far end of the chamber who pointed to an empty seat as she entered. There was only one other occupant of the room; a nervous looking male who kept glancing at the opposite door with a crinkled brow and swishing tail.

"<Wait there. Braccus will see you shortly.>"

With nothing else to do. Tamina waited.

....................

The trip to the trade point was, besides a few wrong turns, largely uneventful for the travellers. Alleece eventually guided the group to their destination with a relieved sigh. The building in question turned out to be a large, warehouse like structure made of interlacing logs with an open front that gave them a clear view of what was inside.

"Wow, that IS a lot of trade." Oolan whispered.

Some dozen carts of similar size to the one the Nallaki tribe drew were parked inside like horses in their stables. The kobolds spotted members of another tribe unloading their goods into the waiting hands of the Uran natives and being handed a bag of something in return. What exactly it was was a mystery.

"<Ho there!>"

The group saw an elderly male kobold appear from the recesses of the establishment with a walking stick and a hobble. He was wearing robes of some kind which marked him as a person of importance and also, surprisingly, a smile.

"<Alleece! I though I recognised you!>"

It took the young Killikah a moment to catch up, then a bright smile appeared on her own face.

"<Uncle Yaaskiin!>" She scurried over and embraced the much older humanoid gently but warmly. "<I haven't seen you in years!>"

"<Eight, by my count. How's your mother?>"

Alleece, not oblivious to the blank looks her human companions had, switched languages.

"Mother's keeping well thank you. Everyone, this is my Uncle Yaaskiin. He left the village to marry when I was a child."

"And the clan I married into was taken over by the Uran tribe." There was no mistaking the disapproving look the old kobold had. "Luckily for me I was high enough in the hierarchy and senior enough in years to get some respect. This is my establishment."

"You supply the village?"

"Braccus trusts me with foreign trade negotiations. He's not so blind to ignore talent when he see's it." The statement was delivered in a whisper. "Pull your cart in and we'll see what I can give you for it."


OOC Exposition character established. 8-) /OOC
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Graybeard » March 19th, 2020, 10:08 pm

Shorty, Rip was glad to see, got over his painful flashback reasonably quickly. That wasn't totally unexpected. Many of the crew of the Bonny Read had pasts that they'd joined up to get away from, after all. (To some extent, Rip was among them.) If you were in that boat, or more accurately airship, you had to develop a reasonably thick skin about it, or you'd be harassed into abandoning ship at the earliest opportunity. The only jarring part of this episode was that it had been a complete surprise. Rip had never inquired about the large man's past, and Shorty hadn't volunteered much except that he'd originally lived somewhere in the interior of Farrel, in a town that periodically passed from control by one guild to control by a different guild. Rip knew enough about Farrel to suspect that this process was not without a certain amount of violence. Had that had something to do with what happened to Shorty's family? Now wasn't the time to ask.

They followed Alleece and Oolan into the warehouse; and as they did, Rip had a brainstorm. He'd been wondering how he could ever make money here sufficient to get him a ticket home, wherever "home" was, without tipping his magical hand. There happened to be one other money-making idea that had been following him around, starting on his sabbatical and running through his airship-pirate years, and it popped up again now.

"Uh, if you don't mind me asking, have you ever considered writing a book about your adventures -- or about this city?" he asked Uncle Yaaskiin as nonchalantly as he could manage; what happened next would depend on the old kobold's answer.
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Jack Rothwell » March 21st, 2020, 6:10 pm

The old kobold chuckled at Rip's question. Alleece smirked despite herself.

"My adventures? I'm really not that interesting."

"Nonsense, Uncle." Alleece retorted. "He could probably write you a whole book on Dropla riding; he was the undisputed champion in Nallaki village for five years. He set a record for the longest trip."

"From the southeastern thicket to the edge of the sea. Thirty miles give or take." He shrugged. "The Uran's village is a much more interesting tale."

One of Yaaskiin's helpers chose that moment to approach with a pouch with clinked as if full of coins, which it was. The younger kobold made a grunt and Yaaskiin peered inside. After a moment he waved his assistant away with a double open and close of his paw-like hand.

"<Ten more.>"

"<Braccus won't like it.>"

"<Braccus doesn't have to know.> Where was I?"

"The village?" His niece inquired.

"Yes. That. The Uran tribe were nomadic by nature. Some of the fiercest hunters this end of the whole continent. Things changed when Braccus succeeded his father about eight years ago. He killed his sire in single combat."

The kobolds present looked faintly embarrassed by this. Alleece coughed into her hand.

"Some... traditional practices of the Killikah weren't abandoned by everyone in these modern times." She whispered.

"In any event. He had the loyalty of most of the tribe before he'd established his dominance. After that, he ordered his kin to plant themselves in an area in the middle of some dozen other tribes. Then he began taking over. Initially he just followed the same path that gave him the leadership to boost his numbers. Later on he began demanding tribute which the smaller clans paid to avoid trouble."

"The ones that couldn't afford it were absorbed into the tribe and the caste system was put in place."

"Mine was one of them." Yaaskiin muttered with more than a touch of anger. "Out of the twelve tribes, only three remain independent since Braccus took over. Whether or not he's done conquering is anyone's guess."

"The last clan taken over was the Raffiki tribe a year ago." A dark look crept across Alleece's face. "They were our neighbours."

..................


Tamina's nervousness grew.

In the twenty minutes she'd been kept waiting the other occupant had been called in. There had been a few minutes of murmured conversation, followed by a crash and a cry of what was certainly pain. The 'secretary' hadn't even looked up from her desk. The mage resisted the urge to make an exit, and instead focused on the wall hangings opposite her seat.

The door creaked open.

"Nallaki tribe. Enter."

No time to back out now.
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Graybeard » March 21st, 2020, 10:42 pm

Rip took all this in with interest, mentally starting to write the outline for the book. If he was reading the kobolds correctly (which he wasn't sure of), it sounded like there might be some dissatisfaction with the sinister "Braccus" -- maybe even enough to boil over into a rebellion. From a dramatic, book-writing perspective, that was a good thing, maybe even something to focus the whole narrative around. From an "I don't want to get killed as collateral damage" perspective, it wasn't good at all...

He was turning these conflicting thoughts over in his mind when his concentration was interrupted by Shorty's incongruously soft voice. "So is there a human section of the dropla-riding prize?" he asked.

"Huh?" said several voices at once, Rip's among them.

Shorty continued. "'Cause if there is, my ass feels like it must have ridden thirty miles on the damn thing before you guys found me ..."

[OOC: Not much here, just passing it back to you. Obviously you have some development in mind, which is good, since I don't.]
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Jack Rothwell » March 23rd, 2020, 1:08 pm

"Well I'm sure if you cast around and you've got the money to bet you'll find some Killikah who'd be willing to take you up on a race." Alleece's Uncle replied. "Speaking of which..."

Yaaskiin's assistant returned at that moment with a fuller bag which the old Kobold promptly handed to his niece.

"Thanks Uncle."

"Think nothing of it. I know the clan needs all the help it can get right now. There's enough for herbs, supplies and so on. Maybe a little extra for recreation..."

"And speaking of THAT." Alleece exclaimed brightly. "I'm sure you gentlemen would like to take a tour of the place but I've got shopping to do."

Oolan raised a volunteering paw. "I don't mind showing you around. There's food and markets and pit fights and gambling and bars and..."

..........

The doors were opened for Tamina with a hard swing as she made her way into Braccus personal chambers. The scene was a striking one.

Clearly the greatest amount of space in the palace sized dwelling had been reserved for the undisputed chief of the Uran tribe, as had the amount of wealth that had been generated by the settlement. Out of the corners of her eyes she saw embroidered silks and trophies aplenty. Even a few paintings from Spirits-knew where hanging from the circular wall that tapered off into a dome. Hung from the ceiling was a chandelier constructed from the bones of the fiercest creatures the continent had to offer including...

"Killikah." She breathed.

All of this was secondary to the being sitting on a chair, no, throne in the centre of the chamber.

Braccus Uran was simply the biggest Kobold Tamina had ever seen.

If he'd been standing he'd would've been at a height to even rival shorty's huge frame, his physique looked like something carved from marble and about as hard under pelts stitched together that resembled Kingly robes. The face that was turned firmly in her direction was a pair of wide eyes with a laser beam focus, framed by features handsome by any Killikah standards, and underlined with a generous mouth turned upwards in a dazzling smile. A smile as deep and cold as a puddle in midwinter.

"<Tamina Nallaki! Welcome to Urannia!>"

The kobold remembered her manners and bowed her head; staring down the leader wouldn't be a good way to start. She found the formal words after a moment of blankness.

"<I thank you for your greeting and your hospitality, Great Chief.>"

"<Of course.>" He reclined on his seat, lounging as only Kobolds could. "<Is my city pleasing to your eyes?>"

"<A tonic for weariness and food for the soul.>"

"<Good. Now that formal shit is over with I have use of you.>"

That made the young woman straighten up abruptly.

"<I'm sure your tribute was up to standards and everything. Your previous elder was always prompt and never short. But there's a task I require your... services with.>"

"<What do you want of me?>" Tamina couldn't keep a note of nervousness out of her voice. She was suddenly very aware of just how intently Braccus was looking at her, and of how he was apparently trying to sire half of the next generation of his tribe. He chuckled and straightened up in his seat.

"<It has come to my attention recently that those Ralkin scalawags were back in the area working their mischief.>"

"<They were. But the Nallaki tribe defeated them... at great cost.>" Trying to inspire sympathy wasn't likely to work but Tamina tried it anyway.

"<So I've heard, and the Uran tribe thanks you for your sacrifice. However, with the death of their leader..." She couldn't conceal her surprise that Braccus knew about that. He chuckled again as her eyes gave her away. "<Of course I heard about that. I have friends in Port Lorrel. I have friends everywhere! Isn't that right Momon?>"

One of the guards nodded vigorously. "<Aye Braccus, as you say.>"

"<But, unfortunately, I don't always have reliable help.>" With that, Braccus gave a whistle and a figure was dragged into sight by another pair of guards from behind a curtained off area of the room. It was the last kobold who'd entered prior to Tamina; which certainly explained the noises she'd heard. The poor man had been beaten half to death.

"<Gillet here was appointed the task, along with his fellow clans-people, of ridding the local area of a hive of Chittorick who've gone very, very aggressive in light of the death of Aleron Harland. My mages say he developed some back-of-mind bond with them when he kept dragging them through the ether to serve him and this is the after effect. Like grief, isn't that funny? Well, the hive has taken to venturing out of the underground and making off with the good people of Urannia and this... is unacceptable.>"

The previous tribute was blubbering now. It took all of Tamina's willpower not to look at the fellow humanoid.

"<P-p-please great Braccus... there were too many... we didn't have the hunters...>"

Braccus finally got out of his chair with an eerie 'shushing' noise. He knelt beside Gillet and stroked the man's face as a mother to a babe.

"<There-there sweet Gillet. I know you did everything you could, but it seems your best wasn't nearly good enough.>" With that, the huge kobold straightened up, cupped his other hand to the smaller kobold's face and snapped his neck. Tamina couldn't stifle a squeak.

"<Why don't you send your own hunters to deal with the threat?>" She said, in a faint voice she hardly recognised as her own.

"<I was resigned to doing it.>" Replied Braccus; his voice showing no sign of the act of barbarism he'd just performed. "<But when I'd heard that the famous Ralkin killer, Tamina Nallaki, was coming to my home I knew the stars were aligning in my favour. Besides, I need my warriors to help maintain order here. Some civil unrest needs quieting down. Ahh, the burdens of ruler-ship!>"

"<What do we get in return?>" Tamina asked, some composure returning to her voice. Braccus' cold smile returned, only growing wider as she held his gaze.

"<Consider you and yours all paid up for a whole year if you succeed. If you don't...>" He glanced at the corpse cooling on the ground. "<My fields could always use more workers... and fertiliser." His eyes fixed on her again. "<...and I can always use another mate.>"
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Graybeard » March 24th, 2020, 9:50 am

[OOC: I'm sure glad my characters don't have to interact with that guy ... yet ...]

"A tour sounds good," Rip agreed. "At least for certain, highly relative definitions of 'good'. But give me a sec."

After first checking to make sure he was unobserved except by present company, he popped open his Pocket Dimension (practically every Tsuirakuan had one, whether of their own devising or via purchase; his was the former, and not nearly as capable as, say, Anna-Lisa's), and removed and palmed a small gadget: in essence, a camera. although there was quite a bit more to it than that. He'd had this thaumatic camera ever since his sabbatical started, but rarely used it once he turned to privateering; after all, what was the point of photographing an airship's engines and galley thirty times over? If they were going to play tourist, however, it might come in handy, particularly since it was easily concealed and emitted no magic when not in use. The anthropologist in him, the part of him that had expected to take a one-year sabbatical and then go back to his college and write academic papers, had insisted on the gadget being inconspicuous. When doing field anthropology, you had to do everything possible to minimize the effects of your presence on whatever you were studying. An all-but-invisible camera was an essential tool for that.

He stuffed the small device in his pants pocket, making sure it was switched off and not producing any detectable magic, and closed up the Pocket Dimension. "Okay, let's play tourist," he said to the kobolds. Shorty, being Shorty, just shrugged his massive shoulders and fell into line behind them.
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Jack Rothwell » March 24th, 2020, 3:14 pm

Oolan had fairly beamed at the prospect of showing her new human friends around (saving the largest portion of the beam for the largest man of course). Alleece and the rest of the kobolds in their group had broken off to head to an area of the village where essentials were being sold while the designated tour guide had led them to another part of the surprisingly well organised market.

"This is where most of the touristy stuff happens." She exclaimed with a sweeping gesture, taking in a series of stalls featuring trinkets of every description. Rip and Shorty observed necklaces of bird skulls and semi-precious stones dangling from hooks. There were weapons of bone, headresses and traditional Killikah clothes. They even saw a few human-like garments with inscriptions on them that made the young humanoid giggle.

"Don't buy those. The owner's will probably tell you the wording is some old kobold proverb, but they mostly read 'idiot tourist' or 'I paid three times the value for this'."

Of course, there were the smells of a dozen types of meat, vegetable and fruit being cut and cooked on the air. At least two sales-Killikah were selling spices by the pouch. There was one open-walled shack type structure with a railing and stools arranged in front of it. Rip saw a burly male handing another burly male a decapitated coconut that made a sloshing noise.

"Haadin's. It's a bar." Oolan said, somewhat unnecessarily. "Round the back is the pit. It's an arena where animals fight animals, and kobolds fight animals, and kobolds fight kobolds. Oh! And..." She pointed to an eastern gate just visible in the distance where the edge of a huge pen and hooves could be glimpsed. "...if you're still determined to have a dropla ride you could hire one there. If you don't mind breaking your bones that is."

OOC Just throwing some options out. It'll be a short while before Tamina rejoins the group so there's plenty of time to get into trouble. Also, the Uran village would be a great for new players to get involved. Kobold or not, it's a notable tourist destination for those in the know.../OOC
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Re: Southern Continent: Picking Up The Pieces

Postby Graybeard » March 25th, 2020, 8:56 pm

Rip couldn't help himself.

"Here," he said to one of the "merchants" selling shirts. "This one looks a little dirty. Let me fix it for you."

He wasn't primarily a tailor, to be sure, but his job as the fix-it guy with Wrackham's ships had left him with both excellent fine-motor skills and a very considerable repertoire of fix-it magic. He surreptitiously summoned just the tiniest bit of that now, to make certain modifications to a shirt that did indeed look like it needed a touch-up. In addition to the dirt falling away, a string of dots and dashes appeared around its open collar, nothing that would attract any attention ... normally; in fact, to the untrained eye, it probably looked mildly decorative. He made a show of checking the fit, concluded regretfully[sic] that it was a bit too small for him, returned the shirt to the stack, and walked away, politely wishing the vendor well.

"What was that all about?" Shorty asked, completely baffled.

"Tell you later," Rip said, but then he switched to mind magic to explain in the here and now. <"Remember that brush with the Queen Alice's Revenge?"

"How could I forget"? Shorty answered, still baffled.

"I just duplicated the message that their signaling light flashed at us ... with one little edit."

He wouldn't say more, but if anyone knowing signaling code should happen to look at this shirt carefully, he'd recognize the message "THIS GUY'S MOTHER SLEEPS WITH TROLLS" -- sort of an Errant World version of "Kilroy Was Here".
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