Cutthroats in Felac'Delb

Chapter 18: Lord Protector
All is as it should be.

Amos says a final farewell to Hrabkuk and heads back to Damar to get passage back to Prack where he resolves to cross a few names off his list. When he gets there, a sweaty dwarf approaches him and tells him that a Gnome told him to look for a big one-eyed orc and to bring him to the clinic where the former is dying. Amos consents to follow but keeps his hand on his axe just in case. He enters and finds Aldebaran crazed from a fever and tied to a bed with a nasty infected wound on his leg. The clinician tells him that the gnome is done for, but The Cutthroat disagrees and Amos commands everyone else to leave while The Cutthroat manifests itself and begins its necromantic surgery on Aldebaran.

Once Aldebaran recovers, Amos shares that he went to The Devastation to receive a reward for the Cutthroat, which was given by some old dwarf surrounded by a bunch of Haxitumites lead by his son. Aldebaran picks up on who that might be, hoists his cane, and asks that they pay the old man a visit. After a return trip to the ziggurat, Aldebaran walks up in a pilgrims hood and is received by Hrabkuk, who identifies him. Aldebaran name-drops his whore mother’s name and Eoric comes down to see who it is. They have a very harsh reunion, and Aldebaran tears his father down while getting slapped around. After he’s gotten it out of his system, Aldebaran launches into a passage from Haxitumite scripture about those who don’t know their place, and when he’s done he’s gathered a crowd and The Cutthroat shadow-teleports Amos to Eoric, who he beheads with a swift blow with his axe, then disappears in shadow again. Aldy walks out and pats Hrabkuk on the back as he and his fellow Haxitumites process what just happened.

Arcady and the rest of the representatives continue to discuss matters at the negotiating table in the Kalashek camp outside Jera. The Kalashek reveal that the Hesca have simply disappeared and that their land is available for Dwarven colonization on the condition that they convert to the Kalashek Way, which they promptly refuse. Arcady brings up the territory that will be available once the Creythia Society is put down, which of course the elves claim as their own. Arcady asserts that it should belong to both of them to act as a memorial to the lives that were lost on both sides and an olive branch between the two peoples. Boss Fajo agrees, and the elves and dwarves grumble. After some more discussions they adjourn for the day, and Sir Chad Austin approaches Arcady, makes some small talk, then comments on the vile behavior of the Aurorans under Chief Doomhand and requests that Arcady allow him and a handful of Jomadean priests to consecrate the ground around Jera and call the souls of the fallen to their Lord. Arcady agrees in the name of religious tolerance, and within the hour, the priests show up and begin their rites, sending a river of blue and white pinpoint lights from the ground towards the sun.

The next day it is revealed that the Gjekrat Alliance has acquired Lady Autumnshade, leader of the Creythia Society, on intelligence provided by one Piko Ashrae. They are willing to extradite her to the highest bidder, which the elven and dwarven representatives both leap at. The argument gets too heated and they adjourn for the day. With time on his hands, Arcady reflects on the strange behavior of Boss Fajo, and concludes that he may be under some spell to forget that he handed his city over. Arcady hatches a plot to have Siobhan succeed him, transforms himself into Anzo the Apothecary, and heads off to talk to the formal ruling body of the city. He meets with the Magister of Laws, Master of Finances, and the Master of Armies, convincing them all with guile and fact that their Boss is being magically controlled, and the best solution is to back Siobhan and get her to assume power. They all put it together that he is an envoy of Arcady Longaxe, but they are convinced to see him as the liberator of their city from the clutches of Thranten Ias and the Creythia Society.

Amos and Aldebaran head over to pay a visit to Arando and consult him on some magical matters. Their next stop is the holdings of Lagto Wuruk and his master Thorrcha of the Foul Pit, whom they kill swiftly and mercilessly. Amos wants to pay Garza a visit back in Dharz’Dan, and they make the overland journey. The going is slow because of Aldebaran’s leg. One night in the foothills of the Yara-Mal mountains they hear the scraping of feet on rock, and awake to see a sickly looking Triona Sashentar standing over them. They fly into action, Aldy points out a shallow pool, and Amos forces Triona into it to drown her, though with her undead appearance, he’s not sure that it will work. She freezes the pool with a call to her lady Sheshtui Aldebaran finds a good sized rock and tosses it to Amos, who catches it and breaks Triona’s collarbone. In revenge she blasts off a chunk of the ice at Aldebaran, who falls to the ground riddled with ice shrapnel and stays down to keep from getting any more hurt. Amos and Triona struggle some more, but she escapes his grasp with some illusions, then come up behind him, pulls his knife and tries to stab him. Amos catches it with a minor cut on his arm. He grapples with her some more, and she gets him again with the dagger. Amos summons up all of his arbitrary hatred of Triona and throws her to the ground and beats her dead with the rock that Aldebaran had thrown him. He picks up Aldebaran and starts resumes his walk to Dharz’Dan.

Things go well with the negotiations and people actually start agreeing on things. One afternoon Grelka finds Arcady and she asks him to talk in private. In her tent she cuts straight to business and asks him if he’s gotten everything he needs from the New Entente. He says he has: Tagkra is secure under the Guarat Protectorate and Thranten Ias is dead. She tells him about how Doomhand is rallying his and Grelka’s people to take over the Entente to drive out the Kalashek from their homes. As Arcady has everything he wants, she asks him to leave her and Doomhand to lead it. Arcady rejects the offer out of frustration with Doomhand, and asks her where she can find him. Arcady marches off to the outer slums of Jera where the Aurorans have been hanging out terrorizing people. He clears a path through the rabble to Doomhand, who’s sitting on a bench wiping some blood off of his armor. Arcady challenges him to a fight to the death, which Doomhand really likes, and accepts. The people clear a space, and Arcady shows his true form to Doomhand, the massive and spiked blue Oni. Doomhand summons up Dumati power, but Arcady rushes in to grapple him. He delivers a quick and brutal headbutt to the human, who tries to taunt him by saying he’s had worse. Arcady laughs and slams him to the ground a few times, killing him. Everyone is aghast for a moment, then an Auroran hails Arcady Longaxe as his warchief, which Arcady more or less ignores. He goes into a speech about how the Aurorans are free to do as they please, though they are welcome to go with him to the Guarat Protectorate once the talks are concluded. Grelka takes command of the stragglers, and her and Arcady work out a deal where they will harass both the Kalashek and the Gjekrat Alliance in exchange for safety within the Protectorate.

Amos and Aldy arrive in Dharz’Dan and part ways, Aldy goes to the bar where Amos beat him a long time ago, and Amos goes back home. Only Garza is there, and he slips in while she is cleaning a wok. She is surprised at first, then asks him if he has killed Gjagk Mercy yet. He says he and Aldebaran are about to go, but that when they are done, one way or the other, he won’t be coming back. Garza is confused, and notices the cut on his arm and moves to bandage it. Amos shakes her off and unwraps his decaying body and explains the pact with the Cutthroat and how it saved him from Gjagk Mercy. She understands what he said about not coming back, and gives him a farewell and wishes that he will find a good death. They nod at each other, and Amos says goodbye to his wife.

Amos and Aldebaran meet back up and head out to where they know they will find Gjagk Mercy. They approach him openly in a clearing, and he has taken a monstrous appearance: all black skin with red eyes, and spikes bursting from his skin. He wields a spiked chain where he once had a garrote. Aldebaran makes a comment to Amos about how Arando better know what he was talking about. Amos grunts, and they charge.

In the months that follow, Arcady rules over Tagkra, taking in dwarven refugees and the houseless aurorans to his paradise. Lady Autumnshade is handed over to the Elven Archons, much to the chagrin of the Dwarven King, and sentenced to life in prison. More dwarven settlements are established: the land of the Free Cities, the former Creythia lands, southern Prack, and the Hesca lands. The Kalashek hand Crasshai back to the elves, though the resistance there against the Kalashek had done some damage to the city. The Dwarves end their sieges of the Free Cities and return home. One morning, Thagrosh informs Arcady that he has a visitor, and in walks Seeker Gillen, who tells him that he saw in one of his meditations that Amos Silenthowl and Aldebaran the Bastard had engaged their long-time foe Gjagk Mercy and slain him. When Arcady asks if his former associates had survived, Gillen replies that it does not matter, because Arcady will never see them again.

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Chapter 17: Manifest

Arcady, Voltimand, and Doomhand, the harassment is resolved by Arcady going mega-oni and silencing them. Voltimand leaves after telling Arcady that The Kalashek are hosting a talk in their camp, and Arcady should come.

Aldebaran hangs with The Boss drinking whiskey in his reclaimed office, Aldy plays the flatterer and Boss eats it up.

The Cutthroat tells Amos to go to The Devastation to achieve his reward, he investigates the docks, gets on a dwarf boat to Damar. They pass a Dwarven blockade with no trouble, though they ask Amos to go below decks to avoid any misunderstandings.

Aldebaran walking around Jera remembering being an urchin, stares at reflection in a pool of water, then the pool starts bubbling and tentacles come out of it with Ulyark speaking angrily to him about being cheated from the EgjHumta. Aldy frustrates Uyark with some word games, then Banarro shows up under Ulyark’s control and he accosts Aldy and stabs him in the leg to keep him from running. Aldy escapes by biting off one of Banarro’s fingers and limping into a hole. he eventually makes his way back to Fajo’s palace, where he meets Siobhan and tries to force her to leave with him, he accidentally injures her and she storms off. Aldy gets Gark and Yarme to find Amos. while Aldy is gathering things and laying low, they come back saying that Amos headed off on a boat to The Devastation.

Amos gets off the boat in Damar and makes his way out of the city quickly to get a move on. The trek through The Devastation is rough but the Cutthroat warns him that the land is deceiving him, so he takes care to note where he has been and minimize the amount of down time he takes. The Cutthroat remarks that the land looks a lot like the last of the world as he saw it as it was being destroyed by the powers of the gods. they hear a terrible cry, and Amos takes cover to spot the source. it is a large eight-legged cat-like creature that the Cutthroat recoils from then returns to with a hateful glare. it says that this beast is what slew him and the Cutpurse in the end, and that a hunt of vengeance is in order. it goes on to ask if Amos has anyone he would like to hunt down, and he thinks of a few names to take off the list

Arcady helps more of the cleanup, then goes to the Kalashek camp for the meeting. all parties present start by declaring their are.
-Kalashek: want the Dwarven Kingdom to stop the blockades and sieges of the other Free Cities and for the Elven Archonate to stop the hostilities in Crasshai
-Boss Fajo wants the Dwarven Kingdom to stop the blockades and help the Archonate wipe out the Creythia Society
-Elven Archonate wants the Kalashek to officially surrender Crasshai to them
-Dwarven Kingdom wants to establish a military base in the Free Cities territory and a land grant to funnel refugees from The Devastation
- Gjekrat Alliance wants to ensure that nobody marches an army through their land to oust any fleeing Creythia members, and to work out an extradition treaty for their removal

Amos gets close to the destination and sees an alien looking ziggurat, which he approaches. there are a number of tents around it and a standard of the church of Haxitum, but he walks past them and up the stairs. at the top he sees a young orc and a old dwarf kneeling in prayer. The orc turns around and greets, Amos his father. Hrabkuk explains that his mission to track down Eoric Deepsong is complete, and he is staying here for the time to learn what he can from the dwarf. Eoric explains his place as the Emissary of the Gods, and the Cutthroat jumps in to explain that it’s just here to collect its reward. Eoric invokes Caya, and the reward is given. The Cutthroat demonstrates its new-found ability to manifest a shade form of itself outside of Amos that it can control. Eoric explains he was chosen because he is strong-willed and mindful of the power of the gods, then goes on to say that The Devastation is in fact the aftermath of an attempt at time travel which the gods put down and punished with a living reminder of what happened the first time they were challenged. Hrabkuk walks Amos back down the pyramid to reminisce.

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Chapter 16: Showdown

The forces of The New Entente march through the territory of The Kalashek Union and cross the Jara River to reach the Free City of Jera thanks to the magnificent illusion spell wrought by Alphonse Hayek. The spell is seen through by a contingent of Pimen forces lead by Seeker Gillen, who marches with the New Entente, giving the explanation that it is the will of the Omet’Tektaara.

The army sets up camp in the hills three miles outside of Jera and Grelka assigns some of her warriors to create a perimeter and keep watch for enemy activity. Black Aatos and The Undertow find a cave in which to have a pre-battle party. Aldebaran and Siobhan join in the revelry. The primary entertainment is drinking contests and orgies, both of which the happy couple join. Meanwhile Amos assembles his kill team of a dozen of the most , lead by Hoist the mute Dwarf, Banarro the Numiri, Mogh Lionhide of Haf, and Huruska the ogre, called The Butcher, and briefs them. They will be airdropped while the army sieges the city and are to hunt down Thranten Ias and kill him. Amos expresses his confidence in their ability to get the job down cleanly, and they all nod grimly. He then goes to check on the blabbering zombie infused with a portion of the soul of Triona Sashentar, which Hoist has hidden in a pit inside one of the tents. Amos and The Cutthroat share a moment of shared bloodlust for the coming mission.

Arcady walks among his troops to check their morale. Most are confident that they will be victorious, but are well aware of the risks faced by footmen during a siege. Both the the orcs under Grelka and Kalashek deserters under Jeddre do some light sparring and drinking to take the edge off. The Pimen do an extended prayer ritual that involves the chanting of mantras, the rhythmic tapping of stones on stones, and throat singing. Chief Doomhand’s Aurorans celebrate a dark ritual of blood sacrifice, putting innocents from the countryside and their own men to death in order to catch the attention of Dumat’s servants and receieve a great blessing. Doomhand’s sacrifice is acceptable, and a giant werewolf is summoned, confers the blessing onto him (by slashing him with its claws and infusing the energy into his blood directly, then consumes the flesh tithe. Arcady watches in horror, and Bynazgu reassures him that the Oni abhor such butchery and would ask nothing like that of him.

Arcady assembles the war council: Grelka, Doomhand, Thagrosh, Amos, Aldebaran, and Gillen. Aldebaran is late, so Arcady goes to find him personally, but he is far too drunk to be of any use, and Arcady decides to proceed without him. He communicates the plan to march on the city and he and a number of the strongest ogres will destroy the gate so they can march in while Amos and his kill team decapitates the leadership. Seeker Gillen presumes to veto the plan, which causes Doomhand to flip out (likely because of the blessing of strength he asked for from Dumat), but once things calm down, he reveals that he and the other priests have used their magic to begin tunneling to a point under the wall, and will collapse it at the end to crumble the wall and allow entry. Arcady counter-proposes that he travel through the tunnel and burst up out of it with a surprise. It is agreed to.

The army wakes early the next morning and marches at dawn. The Undertow falls behind after waking late and is forced to march in the rear. Arcady proceeds down the tunnel built by the Pimen. The vanguard of the New Entente charges to the wall, and the ground gives before them under a siege defense spell. Arcady then bursts through the tunnel under the walls and shapeshifts into an enormous dragon. The Entente forces suffer an arrow barrage and a barrage from the city’s defenses, which Arcadragon swoops down to disrupt. The Jeran defense is made up of Creythia Elves and a medley of Human mercenaries.

Before the sun rose, Amos’ team dropped in and made their way to the boss’s (Thranten’s) palace. The team takes out the palace guards: Creythia soldiers from the same company as the one that tried to assassinate Amos in Tagkra’s armory. Amos takes a portion of his team into the palace. They see the same Creythia assassin directing the inner guard to prepare for any kind of infiltration, and the team ironically takes him down. They proceed further in and get outisde of Thranten’s office, and are trapped in a powerful slowing spell. Thranten steps out from a balcony on a second floor with two drow elves by his side and gives a slow villain clap.

Aldebaran wakes up late and finds Siobhan pacing nervously. She explains that when they take the city, Thranten will have her father killed, assuming he’s still alive, and she simply won’t allow it. She grabs an extra weapon from an Undertow soldier’s pack, and hefts it with confidence. Aldebaran tries to dissuade her, but she comes back that he should help her as final proof that he’s a changed man. He swallows his pride and make their way to the city. Between the two of them, they sneak into and through the slums in the wake of the Auroran’s destruction. They sneak past the berserking pillagers into the city proper.

Arcadragon flies above and sees his troops making their way into Jera through the breach they’ve made, as well as a cavalry charge coming from the east to hit them from the flank. The New Entente scrambles to make a defense, but Arcady swoops down and savages their leader and his vanguard. The cavalry stops dead in its tracks and breaks.

Thranten reveals that he knew that the time had come and that while he can’t defeat the New Entente as a whole, he can at least kill The Cutthroat and have a personal victory. The drow wizard maintains his hold on the spell and the other one draws a blade and starts cutting down the team. Amos starts forcing his way out of the affected area, then a very deranged-looking Triona comes from the shadows and savages the drow with the sword, biting his neck and drinking his blood. Thranten is mindblown and turns tail with the wizard to save himself. Amos breaks from the spell and lines up a necrotic shot for Thranten. Thranten is forewarned by The Cutpurse and ducks out of its way, but the necromancy in and around it is so powerful that he is infected by its passing and dies a quick and painful death as his body dissolves and The Cutpurse is defeated.

Aldebaran and Siobhan make it into the dungeon and locate her father. Between Aldebaran’s clever tongue and Siobhan’s determination, they bust him out. The Fajos have a reunion and the former boss thanks Aldebaran from the bottom of his heart for also saving his daughter. They hasten out.

The New Entente’s forces move through the city and establish control. Amos rendezvous with Arcady and relays the good news. Meanwhile Aldebaran is intercepted by two gnomes on his way to the gates, and they inform him that they’re here to relieve the former boss Fajo of his life, and Aldebaran sighs and prepares himself for some talking. They go into a secluded alley and get to introductions. Aldy introduces himself and they introduce themselves as Gark and Yarme. Aldebaran explains the projected fate of the Creythia Society and the opportunities available to them in the New Entente. Aldebaran’s audacious offer convinces them and they forgo the murder and walk with him.

Arcady is helping with the cleanup, then one of Grelka’s orcs runs over to him and tells him there are some visitors at the gate, and they’re Kalashek. Arcady dusts himself off and walks over. The Kalashek officer introduces himself as General Simon Voltimand, and says that many things happened in parallel to their Assault on Jera, including some bold moves from the Elven Archonate and the Kingdom of the Dwarves that they’ll have to discuss.

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Chapter 15: Cry Havoc

Arcady brainstorms with Harbingers Grelka, Doomhand, and Thagrosh on their assault on the city of Jera. Arcady sends letters off to the Elven Archons and the Dwarven King urging them to join the fight and take vengeance on the Creythia Society, Thranten’s biggest ally. He also tries the Pimen Clan and argues that the Free Cities of Jara have an important place in the world economy that Thranten is disrupting for his own gain.

Aldebaran leaves Tagkra with Siobhan and some Auroran warriors to visit Athforek and make himself a “proper man” for Siobhan and to call Black Aatos and the Undertow to arms. He makes several displays of power, which seem to get her attention now that she’s beginning to embrace the tenants of the Dumati fatih.

Aldebaran has left Triona‘s trinket with Amos and Arcady, and they decide to try to use it. They set up in a dungeon cell in Tagkra’s castle. They call her and she appears, Arcady and her get into a sass battle, and when she says he’s wasting her time, Amos shoots her. The bolt goes through her and its revealed that its a simulacrum of her with some portion of her soul, which The Cutthroat binds into a dead body that had occupied the cell.

Aldebaran arrives in Athforek, gives the order to Black Aatos, then goes to Ulyark to make the deal. He promises the EjHumta enterprise to him in exchange for a behavioral tailoring, then they head back.

Amos and Arcady receive him and notice Aldy’s behavior change. The three of them brainstorm and get the idea to contact Alphonse Hayek via Mara Kun and Nicky Small for some unofficial Kalashek assistance. Aldebaran once again offers the EjHumta as an asset, stressing that in the aftermath of this showdown the Kalashek will have only to contend with the Gjekrat Alliance once again, and the EjHumta will provide spies in their lands. Alphonse accepts and hides their forces with a massive illusion working as they pass through the Kalashek lands to the Free Cities.

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Chapter 14: Target Acquired

Amos fights with the assassin
-pulling weapons from the racks in the armory
-amos trows a dagger at the assassin and causes his flesh wound to fester with aid from The Cutthroat
-assassin pins amos behind a table, which devolves into a brawl
-amos decides to cut his losses and jump out of the window to land in the bushes below
-in doing so, he breaks his leg and The Cutthroat patches it back together roughly with necromancy (appears to be open wound on shin, but he feels fine)

Arcady and Aldebaran survey the disciplining of the traitors
-doomhand has desiccated some of them, grelka has some of her people administering whippings while having her beasts snap at them
-arcady and Aldebaran talk with doomhand and grelka about a plan to quietly make examples of the traitors and control the resulting rumors to spread fear through the ranks
-arcady is contacted by bynazgu about meeting the other oni, and lists some items he must assemble for the ritual (book,blade,flower,fire)
-aldebaran asks grelka if he can take her shift watching the whipping, then steals some of her beasts and some of doomhand’s dead men

Aldebaran and Amos
-after wandering around, aldy finds the apparently wounded amos, and hears about the assassin
-he then makes a gift of the dead men and the beasts (a young panther and an 18-foot king cobra) which The Cutthroat forces Amos to reanimate
-aldebaran proposes that they hunt down the assassin

Arcady and the oni
-he assembles the necessary items and arranges them in a rectangle as instructed, then fells bynazgu pull him into the spirit realm
-he sees four ogres with his similar tusks and horns, two blue, two red, in a stoic stone chamber with no doors
-they speak, testing arcady’s personal fire, then command him to insert himself into the conflict between The Cutthoat and The Cutpurse, as it will make the ogres a power in the world
-they bless him with wisdom (the book guy, old and blue), compassion (the flower woman, beautiful and blue), vengeance (the blade woman, mighty and red), and the winds of change (bynazgu, red with more intense horns than the others)
-when he returns to the world of the living, he sees that the blade is stuck into the floorboards, the book is opened, the petals of the flower are layed around it in a circle, and the fire has burned out
-arcady finds lord thagrosh and tells him that they must go to war

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Chapter 13: The New Deal

The Nearby Jungle
Amos walks through the dense flora while wiping his axe and knife off after hunting down stragglers from the battle to take the city. The sound of his movement is picked up by someone on the road nearby, and the traveler asks if a friend or foe comes his way. After a few tense exchanges, the traveler identifies himself as Tlalok Suddenstorm, and threatens to burn the forest unless his assumed foe reveals himself. Amos decides to come out and they get to talking. Amos decides that he’s trustworthy, and Tlalok reveals that he’s going to Tagkra to see Arcady Longaxe and judge if he will be a better lord than those from the recent past. Amos grunts an affirmative, and they walk back, sharing their stories.

The Lord’s Hall
When Amos returns, Chief Doomhand tells him about the arrival and subsequent kidnapping of Yogn Tlor and Avery Redpine. Amos and Arcady meet up and begin an investigation. While Arcady calls the Kalashek and Gjekrat parties to tell them of the investigation, Amos looks over them to see who looks the most suspicious. He picks out one of the Kalashek soldiers, and once Arcady is done, Amos comes at him hard, and gets him to break. The guard reveals that a group of orcs teleported in and knocked him out, and the description he provides, allows Amos to identify GronAkan Lurj, one of Grelka’s men as a perp. He reports to Arcady, who has discovered that a group from both Grelka and Doomhand’s men are missing. Together, they recall that GronAkan used to base his activities out of Boar-Tusk Cave, so they go out on a limb and travel there, leaving Lord Thagrosh in charge.

Boar-Tusk Cave
Arcady and Amos approach the cave, and Amos sneaks in to listen to what’s going on. He hears a human woman bargaining with two dwarves, one of which is translating for the other, who is quite grotesque. They reluctantly come to an agreement, and the dwarf takes Yogn Tlor and Avery Redpine away in chains. Amos and Arcady confront them once they’re out, and translator tells them that they’re being taken to the new EjHumta on the island. They both piece together that the grotesque dwarf is Aldebaran the Bastard in disguise, but they wisely do not reveal that in order to keep Tlor and Redpine in the dark about his disguise abilities. They have a quiet and uneventful walk to the nearby EjHumta.

The EjHumta
Aldebaran, disguised as the dwarf Eosif Worminger, directs his assistant Bunderwal to take Tlor and Redpine to the “back room”, then takes Amos and Arcady into his office. He goes behind a room divider, then breaks character and greets them while removing his disguise. He tells them about his EjHumta enterprise and how it’ll serve as the fundrasier and recruitment center for the New Entente, and they nod in approval. Arcady tells Aldebaran about the purpose of Tlor and Redpine being in Tagkra was, so they decide to check up on them to see if Bunderwal picked up that the “back room” was the fun back room, not the one where you get killed. Fortunately, Bunderwal chose correctly, and they see Tlor wrestling a boar, and Redpine doing a forced keg stand. To the side, a fight to-the-death goes on between two orcs. Aldebaran takes the shaken Tlor and Redpine out, but before they get to leave, one of the duelists yields due to a severe stab wound. Aldebaran comments that there is no yielding, and executes the loser by knocking him out with a potent hydrocarbon, then burning his body. Amos and Arcady look at each other alarmed, though The Cutthroat is pleased. They three of them leave with the ambassadors in tow. After a mile or so, Tlor and Redpine have regained enough of their composure to speak. They talk first of revenge against those that kidnapped them, claiming that it’d help the Guarat Portectorate get a better deal. Redpine wants them dead, and Tlor advocates enslavement, which Aldebaran scoffs at given Tlor’s recent experience as a slave. They shut up and make their way back to Tagkra.

Back at the Lord’s Hall
After giving Tlor and Redpine a chance to clean and recompose themselves, Aldebaran and Arcady are ready go back to the table. Before they enter the room, Aldebaran convinces Arcady that he needs to trust his lead when they go in there, and that they don’t need to make alliances with these people to be powerful and self-sustaining. Arcady pushes open the double door to the conference room, and they sit down at the table. Tlor and Redpine don’t get introduced to Aldebaran, but Arcady gives him the floor, and Aldy stands on the table, whips it out, then pisses on their documents. After Aldy’s dramatic gesture, Arcady explains his decision to take his nation on its own path, outside of either the Kalashek or Gjekrat spheres of influence [paraphrase].
Redpine leaves immediately, red with anger. Tlor expresses his disappointment in Arcady, then begins using Haxitumite magic to subdue Aldebaran. Arcady stops him before it goes too far, leaving Aldebaran with a terrible fear boner. Tlor takes his leave. Arcady shakes his head, but agrees that the message was sent. The two of them run into Doomhand, who has learned that some of his people were involved in the shenanigans, and he vows to punish them horribly. Aldebaran counsels against that, saying that a mysterious “execution” will sow more fear. He goes to Lady Grelka to tell her the same, and sees Siobhan there. He proudly shows his fear boner to her, and she scoffs and shakes her head, then leaves. The boner is no more. Meanwhile, Amos is in the armory sharpening his axe and making some more bolts. The door creaks open behind him, and an elf, the same one that traded them Siobhan, steps in and draws his sword. He announces that he will kill Amos and The Cutthroat, and glory for The Society, then charges.

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Chapter 12: Aggressive Negotiations

Several months later…

The Island of Tagkra
Arcady and his forces have taken control of the island, and now push to take the city Tagkra. He and Amos lead a group up to the sewers, break through the grate (thanks to some help from Bynazgu), and move in. Arcady takes out the guards on one of the gates with his halberd, and opens the way for the rest of his army to come through. In the chaos of melee, Amos looks about for the Fvavalk commanders, and when he finds them, snipes them in classic fashion with assistance of his spirit patron. A group of orc followers are taken out by the defense in a murder hole while Amos is looking for them. Once the fighting is done, Arcady sets up in the lord’s main hall and calls his men together. He gives a speech announcing the establishment of the Guarat Protectorate. It’s met with mild enthusiasm from the non-ogres. Amos stands with Arcady for the speech, but is itching to go search for stragglers, at the behest of his spirit patron. While he’s making his way through the soldiers he overhears some orcs complaining about how many their men died so that the ogres could be on top. Amos smacks the guy in the face and tells him that if they’d wanted to leave, they’ve had several chances, and those men died because they chose to be in that fight, not because Arcady killed them.
An hour later, Content Not Found: chief-murdoch-doomhand’s second Tall Angus comes in and tells the assembled Arcady, Grelka, and Doomhand that a group flying the Gjekrat Alliance banner is approaching and giving alms to the people on their way in. They prepare for the worst.

EgjHumta in Vuntek
A Kalashek accountant rolls up with a half dozen men to try to bust Aldebaran‘s establishment on tax fraud. Aldy gets his enforcer Banarro to take him in the back and off him. Meanwhile, Aldy shows the soldiers a good time and get them to participate in the revels of the Festhall. While one of the guys is eating human flesh (from the accountant), Triona steps out of the shadows to annoy Aldy. He stiffens up and heads outside to use the outhouse. She follows him and congratulates him on his business success. She then tells him to that she is at his disposal, and she offers him a black pearl ring that can use to “call on her”. He rejects it outright, but when she tells him that she has information on his friend Arcady, he offers her Abernathy’s caller for it, provided that she gets someone to play it near Thranten. She laughs, they make the trade, then she tells him that a situation has developed on Tagkra and that Thranten will involve himself.

Tagkra
Arcady graciously receives the Gjekrat party, lead by Overseer Errant Yogn Tlor (an ogre), and he outlines a treaty from his superiors that will essentially make the Guarat Protectorate a vassal of the Alliance. Arcady is unsure on his exact response, so he takes council with Doomhand and Grelka. Grelka tells him that Tlor is obviously a fake meant to appeal to Arcady, and that the treaty will bring the free and proud people of the Protectorate to their knees once again. Arcady hears the truth of her words, and they go out to negotiate. When they return to the main hall, they find that a group of Kalashek have landed in a pjotlkraft and have a treaty to discuss too: they want to build a Kalashek outpost on the island in exchange for repairing the land and infrastructure. With a sigh, they go back to the side room to discuss. Doomhand is strongly anti-Kalashek, sayign that they won’t stop there and they’ll convert everyone they can and take the island out from underneath Arcady in a long-term scheme.
Arcady decides that he needs to sit down with both of them to see if there’s some kind of agreement the three of them can come to, but when he returns to them, they are gone and their respective parties are equally confused. In the main hall they find a note from Thranten that tells Arcady that he will make sure the New Entente fails at any cost, given that his nemesis is a part of it. The note crumbles into dust after the contents are read.

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Chapter 11: Delac-Do

Amos and Aldebaran get down to business with Wuruk and Thorrcha. Their target is Lord Rahgot of Burovedk (whom Amos encountered with his son Hrabkuk), and after some discussion, they conclude that the best way to off him is to simply make him disappear. Thorrcha dismisses them and he and Wuruk start putting on their ceremonial clothes for the Delak-Do. Amos heads out to begin the gathering of intel, and Aldy goes outside to deal with Siobhan.
They have an understandably awkward exchange, and Siobhan expresses her anger towards Aldy for leaving her high and dry to be captured and tormented by Thranten. Aldy ignores it and gets both of them in disguise (as goblins) so that he can store her safely for the goings-on of the Delak-Do. He disguises himself as Bitten Ear, and Siobhan expresses her disgust at being a goblin. Aldy takes her to Lord Grelka, who has a fascination with lions and is one of the few female lords. He introduces himself as Bitten Ear and that he wishes to sell her a slave. She bites after some convincing, then Bitten Ear reveals himself to be Filthshank, with who she is familiar, who then reveals himself to be Aldebaran the Bastard. He explains that he needs Grelka to take this goblin (truly a halfling) as a handmaiden for the time he’s at the Delak-Do for safe keeping. Grelka is uninterested, but Aldy offers to give her intel on other lords for when the UFK breaks apart (like they know it will). In light of the Delak-Do, Grelka challenges him to a game of Doort, a traditional goblin game, and the prize of winning is to have the loser fulfill the winner’s wish. Aldy agrees and stealthily slathers some costume adhesive to his hand so the cone won’t budge. He defeats Grelka handily, but is unable to remove the cone from his hand, so he makes a quick exit and gives a nod to Sioban.
Meanwhile, Arcady and Lord Thagrosh discuss their alliance with Thagrosh’s men. Arcady makes a good impression, but they want to see his physical ability, so they tell him to stand for them in Thagrosh’s place. Thagrosh is a bit hurt, but sees the wisdom of the decision. They get Arcady dressed up for the Delak-Do (green tunic with a sundered mountain in red, black studded leather boots and gloves). Thagrosh gets some other clothes of lesser grandeur to accompany Arcady. They walk over when the bells toll. Arcady gets a good seat since they don’t want to put the ogres up too high in case things break. Thagrosh points out notable lords to him. A posse of Aurorans walk by and taunt Arcady and Thagrosh, having a good laugh at the “free ogres” concept, as the aurorans have been sucked into the culture of dumat, and will never leave it. The rites begin, and YaHurg (a high Dumati priest, very twisted by Dumat with the classic orc underbite/tusks and some head spikes), brother of YaTrug enters the colosseum and begins the rites.
Amos has moved out into the camps heading for Lord Rahgot’s. Several of the lower-ranking men are going through the games and betting on each other. A few of the slaves are doing them as well. Amos finds the camp, but can’t pick up enough from his eavesdropping, so he has to go in and mingle. He gets into a conversation with another elderly orc named RuGjet. They talk about the good old days, and the guy recognizes Amos as a Hound of Urrax, which makes him a bit nervous, given that they’re in Gjagk Mercy‘s territory. They witness a rather brutal pit fight in which a dozen young orcs give the all of their female slaves clubs, and say that the first one to fall is theirs for the night. Amos gets RuGjet talking about the games, and picks up that Rahgot will certainly participate in the wrestling and fox tossing. On that note, he and Amos head over to the wrestling ring and Amos steps in to teach the young men a lesson in humility. Bitten Ear shows up and trolls one of the other orcs into making a high-stakes wager on Amos’ opponent, who then loses horribly. Bitten Ear and Amos meet up and discuss their findings.
Back in the High Fane of Dumat, the rituals continue. YaHurg prays to Dumat on behalf of those assembled for his vicious strength and mighty presence to guide the outcome of the Rites of the Delak-Do, and to invigorate their bodies when they take the fight to their rivals, the Gjekrat Alliance. He goes on to invoke the names of several Dumati Alphas (equivalent to saints), including Urrax Ogreslayer, who was honored for slaying the company of Guar Peakbreaker after he sought to take land in his own name. The rites go on for some time, and finally, a yak is brought out and YaHurg calls upon Dumat one final time to accept the tithe of blood that they offer to him. YaHurg clears the way and stands next to YaTrug, and a panther comes running out from the back to kill the yak. Once the yak lies dead, YaHurg and YaTrug kill it with Dumati magic and each puts a finger in the yak blood and the necritized panther flesh, marking themselves with black and red. The lords come down from their seats to follow suit and begin the games. When Arcady marks his face, he does so in honor of Guar Peakbreaker. As he walks out, he and Thagrosh run into the Auroran group again, and talk games. The leader introduces himself as Martin Greatspear, and Arcady reveals that his epithet is Longaxe. Martin takes that as a challenge, and tells Arcady to prove himself in a round of spear-fencing against the master. He accepts, and goes to warm up by participating in a game of Ruzaga (bocce ball with giant rocks).
After a marvellous victory, he is intercepted by Amos and Bitten Ear, who have concocted a plan to kill Lord Rahgot silently and without witnesses. They communicate the plan as they walk back over to Rahgot’s camp, where he’s laughing with some of his men about the revels of the fox-tossing. After locating an adequate area of dirt, Arcady uses Bynazgu’s magic to turn the dirt into quicksand. With a nod, he heads back over to the spear-fencing. Amos hides himself nearby, and Bitten Ear calls Rahgot over with an offer of some high-quality strength stimulants. Rahgot comes over, and Amos pushes him into the quicksand. Bitten Ear poops in his hand and chucks it into the crowd, starting a heated argument over the source of the poop, which keeps people from noticing that Rahgot is being swallowed by the earth. After the kill, Amos goes off to Wuruk and Thorrcha to report. Bitten Ear disposes of the Bitten Ear personality, and goes off as Filthshank to find his notes on the various orc lords for future reference.
Arcady walks up to the spear-fencing to see Martin fight. He’s up two strikes to zero, and wins the third one by impaling his opponent (a shorter stocky orc) through the protective vest. A priest nearby kills him with unholy magic to honor Dumat. Arcady steps in, exchanges some taunts with Martin, who tells him that he’ll never make any headway here because he’s still thinking like a Kalashek. They begin. Martin scores his first hit, then Arcady his. Martin scores a second, and breaks Arcady’s spear. They hand him a new one, and Arcady barely makes his second hit on Martin. The final round is very high tension, and the crowd is split. In an act of desperation, Arcady calls on Bynazgu, who adds such a force behind the lunge that Martin’s defenses fail terrifically and he his split apart by the force of the blow. There is a moment of silence as people mentally absorb that a man was exploded by a spear, then they erupt into cheers. Arcady catches someone say that he is truly Guar Peakbreaker’s heir, which sends his spirits soaring.
Amos arrives at the tent of Wuruk and Thorrcha, who are drinking Araq and laughing about a goblin who lost an eye when playing Jai Alaib, but they quiet down when Amos comes in. He reports that the deed is done, and Wuruk thanks him, and says that there’s one more thing before he leaves. Amos senses trouble, and turns towards the entrance to the tent to see Gjagk Mercy standing with garrote in hand. He snaps it threateningly, then reiterates the death sentence that Amos Silenthowl is due, then advances. Amos runs out through the side of the tent, but gets caught in a concealed trip wire, which sends him sprawling, and his arm is caught in a bear trap. Amos is in true terror, and has nothing he can do, but he hears the strange whispers from before in his head. They become coherent, and ask Amos to accept the gift offered to him because it will spare his life. Gjagk Mercy emerges from the tent and walks carefully over to Amos. Amos knows that he’s really in between a rock and a hard place, but likes living, so he accepts the spirit bond, and it takes control. His arm slides out of the bear trap, leaving him with a meaty stump on his right side. He grabs his arm and the bear trap and throws it at Gjagk Mercy, who was stunned by the recovery. He blasts him with a necrotic bolt before running off away from Vralltorgh into the wilderness of the Yara-Mal Mountains.

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Chapter 10: Red Eye, Blue Eye

leave athforek, place aspect on nick and mara

banter along the road, amos almost breaks nick’s fingers, respect earned.arcady talks to mara, she’s pretty distant, but he shows her bynazgu. she’s impressed and hides alarm, but points out that their golem is cracking, so arcady goes to fix it with alteration
they run into a kalashek nature mage camp/village, they get a ride to lake Blas, and master bart tags along. aldy screws with him, but he knows that they’re doing stuff for alphonse because they’re on the same level. aldy shares his bizarre spirit-world experience with bart, who puts together that amos has been chosen instead, and that his once-removed eye is growing back red. bart tells them what the book is and who stole it, the cutthroats get ready for action.

when they depart from the boat and walk a bit, then see that their target destination is on fire. they get in closer for a look, mara uses divination to discover that the village was sacked and elves are holding it. they move in even closer, see a bunch of dudes, perhaps 3 dozen, but are discovered.

they go into action mode to make a big enough distraction for nick to sneak into their camp and steal what his best guess at the actual book is (they have a bunch of decoy books). They get surrounded and come to a standoff when Nick returns to them with the book. The elven commander comes forward and says that they don’t even have the right book, but they want this to go smoothly, so he’ll make a peace offering for them to go about their business. he busts out siobhan, which gets aldy in a bind. arcady crosses his fingers and opens the book, which turns out to be the right one. he uses their group code to communicate that they should take the deal. amos reasons that the officer wouldn’t take the chance of them having the right book, and will find out that they have the right one, and make a move on them soon.

they take siobhan and go. aldy tries not to speak with her. at night, they set an ambush and kill a dozen of the creythia soldiers. Mara opens the communication with alphonse and he reads them the note after mara and nick agree to take the book back to eklesa.
the cutthroats plus siobhan and the golem head to vraltorgh per wuruk’s note, and arrive without incident.

as they make their way throught the camps, arcady notices a bunch of ogres at one and goes to talk to them. they are friendly and take him to meet their lord, Thagrosh. thagrosh listens to arcady’s message and assumes that he means to usurp his lordship, so he instigates a fight. arcady puts him down but does not kill him as thagrosh expects. he convinces him that they will be more successful as allies, and they make peace.
aldy disguises himself as an old goblin, and bluffs his way into the camp of thorrcha (wuruk’s lord). he speaks their password, and amos steps out of the shadows. wuruk tells his lord that the cutthroats have arrived.

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Chapter 9: Severance Package

Highclere throws some accusations at Amos and Arcady, then gets interrupted by some dudes who come charging up the stairwell at them. Amos bull rushes them, and arcady delivers the smackdown with his fists. They turn around to see Highclere mopping up some of the dudes who came from above. He decides that they’re not the source of the problem and says that they must rally a defense. Maza pokes her head down the stairwell and says that they’re under a serious assault. Highclere moves to head to the way below to plan an escape with dormer, but Amos gives him a piece of his mind for drawing down on him in the first place. they leave afterwards

They run into Aldebaran and Termina on their way down, and aldy says that Triona is behind the attack, and they have to go. Roric runs up the stairs past them to fight the dudes. His gauntlets are already bloodied. Highclere, Dormer, Termina, and AAA come up with the plan to construct a boat from the dirt of the island, and reshape it with alteration magic. Dormer powers up his two golems and commands them to protect wavestrider (while pointing a control rod at each of them). Highclere follows, and Amos and Aldy after them to get amos’s weapons back. Termina stays behind to guard Arcady and Dormer.

Amos and Aldy search for their weapons amongst the chaos, find them, then sneak over to them. Amos expresses his discontentment that they haven’t killed anything yet, and Aldy realizes that the Wavestriders are more valuable to them without a leader, so he points amos at Blake, who’s fighting for his life. Aldebaran confuses the golems by screwing with their ability to assess threats, then Amos takes the shot, and gets wavestrider in the heart. Triona pops up behind him and was about to stab him, but sees the bolt. She strolls casually over to them, blows Amos a kiss, then reaches into her belt and takes a ball of black goop, and drops it on the floor, which spreads nasty blackness through the room. They make their way through the darkness back to the stairs that lead down.

Meanwhile, Dormer has pried up some sheets of clay using evocation, and Arcady shapes them into a boat. The task is difficult, so he calls on Bynazgu. His horns and tusks become more pronounced, and his skin turns a deeper blue when Bynazgu is called upon. Dormer comments on the astonishing transformation of the boat and Arcady, then uses evocation to bore a hole horiontally out towards the beach. Arcady pulls the boat through, and Termina follows. Amos and Aldebaran come down the stairs, and the black smoke follows them all out to the shore.

They get the ship in the water and before they can shove off, dormer takes an arrow to the chest. They all turn to look, and see a group of assorted men come out from the tunnel Dormer had made. They hear the familiar screech of a dragon overhead, which swoops down on Dormer and claws open his chest. Arcady hauls his body back onto the ship and takes the golem control rods from him. Aldebaran gives Amos a heads-up on good cover, who then takes a shot at the one who looks like the leader, who takes the hit. Four of the foes rush Amos, who can tell that they’re humans, and they beat at him with their swords. He takes some superficial hits. The leader-type seemingly melts into the darkness coming out of the hole, and is not visible. The remainder of the foes nock some arrows and fire at Arcady, who avoids the volley handily.

Amos charges into the darkness and grapples the leader-type, who he can tell is an elf. Aldebaran, seeing that Arcady has the control rods, looks about and spots Alan Highclere fighting alongside one of the golems further down the shore against some foes. Aldebaran shouts at the golem and gets it to percieve him as a threat. As it charges him, Highclere piggybacks it so that he doesn’t fight alone. The golem smashes into Aldebaran, but Arcady manages to gain control of it before it can continue its attack. The men that had been attacking Amos rush in behind him, but get lost in the darkness.

Inside the cloud, the elf leader creates an ice dagger and cuts amos with it. Termina and Highclere move to fight the men that followed Highclere as he and the golem booked it. The dragon harasses Arcady on the ship, breathing frost onto the ship’s deck to make a slippery coating of ice. Aldebaran tricks the archers into moving closer to Termina and Highclere, who dispatch them easily. Amos continues wrestling with the elf, but the golem comes to his aid, and Amos guts him with his knife. Seeing that the golem has taken care of business, Arcady drops the control rod, and deals a mighty blow to the dragon as it swoops down onto him, dropping it from the sky onto the deck of their boat. Enough of the enemies are dealt with, so they all pile onto the boat and shove off. When they’re well clear of the shore, Aldebaran grabs the control rod and directs their golem to seize Termina and take her below decks (yes, Arcady did that well). Highclere does not object because he is preparing Dormer’s body for burial and considers his business with the Wavestriders finished, as they are all likely to be quite dead.

Bynazgu is particularly excited by the situation, and forces himself into control of Arcady’s body. He taunts and threatens Termina while Aldebaran calmly watches. Termina tells them that if she’s killed, the Kalashek will come down on them like a ton of bricks. That gets Aldebaran’s interest, but instead of heeding her threat, he asks Bynazgu to “do his thing”, at which point the possessed Arcady grabs Termina’s face and squeezes. Blue tendrils come from the orifices of her head and into those of Arcady. When he’s done, Termina is nothing more than a husk, and Arcady possess her knowledge in addition to control of his own body. Aldy tells the golem to release her as Amos comes down. He is disgusted by her state, and cuts her throat with Arcady and Aldebaran’s permission. Arcady lops off her head to present as proof to Black Aatos of a job completed. The rest of Termina’s body is dumped unceremonisouly off the side of the ship.

They get their makeshift boat back to Lonely-Gale’s ship, and take control of it. Arcady and Amos drop the dragon’s carcass onto the deck, then Aldebaran takes some of the ship’s food and hands it over to Highclere so that he can go bury Dormer and meet up with them at a later time. Aldebaran asks Arcady what he got from Termina, and he tells them that Termina was involved in an effort by the Kalashek to defend and militarize the Hirogen clans. He knows that her superiors in this plot were the two kalashek Diana Anderstein, and a mage named Alphonse Hayek. Arcady points them at two mercenaries named Nicky Small, a numiri halfling, and Mara Kun, a pimen mage, who were some of Termina’s contacts. Arcady says they usually spend their days in the Great Festhall. Amos and Aldebaran decide to meet up with them while Arcady makes his report to Ulyark.

When they arrive at the docks of Athforek, Aatos and a few Undertow grunts greet them. Arcady tosses Termina’s head in a bag to Aatos, who looks at it, grins, takes out a pipe, and begins puffing away happily. Aldebaran disguises himself as Milo Ritter, and heads to the Festhall with Amos. They spot Nick (based on Arcady’s description) playing darts and drinking. Aldy/Milo approaches him and asks him subtly to arrange a meeting with the kalashek. Nick is very hostile but doesn’t know how to handle their request. Fortunately Mara appears, and attempts to address their request. Aldy makes some comment about the delighful jewelry she’s wearing (they turn out to be her magical foci, so she slaps his hand away), then name drops everyone that Arcady told him about, which mara and nick take as a sign that they’re in the know. They walk them over to the business district.

The four of them walk past the establishment of Piko Ashrae, who shouts a greeting to Amos. Amos nods uncomfortably, and Piko picks up that it’s not a good time, and bids him a good day. The four of them go into an alleyway, and Mara taps on one of the bricks twice, which makes it glow and hum for a time. A minute later, the same group of Kalashek that Amos saw earlier appear. Aldy/Milo does the same name-dropping routine, and the leader of the newcomers identifies herself as Diana. She pulls out a white hemisphere from her pack, places it on the ground in front of the wall of one of the warehouses. It appears to crack open, and an image is projected onto the wall.

They see an office, and a man sitting behind a desk. There is a cloud of smoke around him that prevents them from seeing his face clearly. He is silent, so Aldebaran speaks first. He removes his disguise, then introduces himself as Aldebaran, Lord Chancellor of the New Entente, and introduces Amos as Lord Castellan of the same. Alphonse says that those are fancy titles for a farcical group. Aldebaran assures him of their growing power, and says that he and the Lord Castellan witnessed the murder of Termina Vzorcaya at the hands of the Creythia Society. The smoke clears, and Alphonse leans forward, and says that he doesn’t believe Aldebaran. He’s not sure which part is wrong, but says that if Termina is out of the picture, then the Undertow will have to be good enough to defend the Numiri. Alphonse then tells Aldebaran about a letter he intercepted from their friend Lagto Wuruk, and says that he’ll hand it to them if they retrieve a stolen book for him. The job seems simple, and Alphonse doesn’t seem angry, so Aldebaran accepts.

Meanwhile, Arcady has gone to see Ulyark to report on his excursion to Wavestrider Island. He parks the golem outside. Ulyark expresses surprise that Arcady is still alive, and Arcady tells him about the attack by the Creythia Society. Ulyark says that he knew about it and sanctioned it, even knowing that Arcady would be there. He qualifies that by saying he takes Arcady’s survival as evidence of Caya’s whim, which he accepts unconditionally. Arcady is shocked but grateful that Ulyark doesn’t want to kill him off anymore. Ulyark says that he never wanted to kill Arcady off, but deemed him an acceptable loss if he could also end the Wavestriders. He says that he found Arcady and Bynazgu’s growing ambitions to be problematic, and since they did not die, he believes he must help them. He presents a staff that he calls “The Staff of Rulership”, and gives it to Arcady on the condition that he leaves Athforek and builds his ogre nation elsewhere. Arcady takes it. Ulyark dismisses him and asks him to bring Amos and Aldebaran to him.

Arcady walks over to the business district, and stops by Piko Ashrae to ask him about the Creythia Society. Pico opens himself a bottle of Vapanese wine and drinks deeply before telling Arcady he knows that the Society does a lot of bad things, but they really just want to give the elves a better place. As far as he’s concerned, he’s just a businessman, and will let things be as long as nobody comes for his head. Arcady shrugs, says his goodbye, and goes to find Amos and Aldy.

They meet up, and head back to Ulyark. Arcady goes to the Festhall one last time. When Amos and Aldy get inside, Ulyark says that he promised to sever the connection to Aldebaran’s spirit, and that he will proceed forwith. Two lounging chairs materialize in the circular chamber, and he invites them to sit. They do so, and Aldy quickly looses consciousness.

He’s floating in a gray void and there is a cord tied around his body. A ball of bones, mud, and vegetation appears before him, and investigates the cord. Aldy follows it with his will, and somewhere down the line they see a black cord connected to it going in a different direction. The ball ignores it, and pulls Aldebaran along the white cord. They approach a scene of two Felac’Dora playing some kind of chess game in a well-adorned home. One is white, one is black. Both have cords of the respective colors attached to their wrists. The ball approaches the white one and “whispers” to it. It replies aloud that a gambit requires a prize of at least equal value to be on the line. The white felac’dora releases the cord from its wrist, then ball and Aldebaran speed back along it to the place where the black one connected to it. It too loosens, and flails about in confusion before slinking back to a pile of gold and gems. The cord releases from Aldebaran, but his vision shifts to that of an old wolf with a missing eye stalking through the forest. The cord wraps around it. Amos starts to hear a strange voice in his head.

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