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FED2K Meadhall


The_Sadukar

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Ok, this is a new idea of mine. I've decided to set a meadhall up here on FED2K, here I can provide you with every drink your heart desires, except alocopops, that stuff is banned within my hall, and the price is simply that you tell a tale of one of the fan fiction battles you've taken part in. There are only three rules.

None may correct another man's tale, they may only tell their version another time.

None may tell the same tale twice.

None may fight in this hall. All flames are stictly forbidden.

*Sits back and awaits the visitors*

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Ee, another good idea from our resident viking. :) Very well...

Dust Scout [i'll never be Dante for these] stands and raises his hands for silence.

"I have a tale for you." He smirks, the firelight casting eerie shadows on his face. "It is a tale of much death and woe, for it killed many a character, and was the death of a thread."

Mutterings and murmerings spread briefly through the gathered guests, before dying down once more.

"So refill your flagons, sit back, get comfortable... and listen as I tell you the tale, of Hell's Armada."

---

"Arinaedi, once the island Kingdom of Sealand. A bleak land, forever overcast. The surface populated by mangy dogs and stray cats, those creatures able to run fast enough. The houses lie empty now, the streets are silent. Great webs of silk hang between the buildings and the dying trees, huge constructions that hold the preserved corpses of so many victims.

"In the centre of the island, the great Fortress. Once the castle of Sealand, now the building has been transformed into a dark, foreboding construction. Pointed turrets twist grotesquely out of the main spire, and jagged battlements run around the many inner walls. The walls of the castle are covered with rusted metal, rough and sharp. The outer wall, with the great gate, is a huge circle of wrought iron spikes. A similar wall extends around most of the island. But the surface of the castle is only the beginning, however, the tip of the iceberg. For deep beneath the earth is the heart of the new Arinaedi.

"A labyrinth of tunnels echo constantly with the screams of the dying. And occasionally the dead. The humans of Sealand toil day and night, not that they could tell the difference, seeing as they never saw the surface. They work constantly in deep mines, excavating more tunnels and bringing up more minerals and metals. They work huge forges, creating weapons and armour in... not quite human shapes.

"They are kept in pens, and bred like animals. Strength is favoured in the breeding programs of the captors, and no relationships are permitted. All those too old or sick or weak to work are sent deeper down the tunnels, into the vast torture chambers. Here the deadly arts of pain are practiced and perfected. The victims that are merely there for the enjoyment of the half-demons always survive, there is no release of death. Those that were suppoed to die, did so. Slowly and painfully, before being fed to the workers. Of course sometimes they weren't quite dead... The human are no more than working, breeding animals; unclothed and underfed, tortured for the enjoyment of their new masters.

"Nearer the surface, the experiments take place. Particularly promising humans are forcibly bred with demons, spiders, and anything else the captors find amusing. The results are sometimes kept, sometimes re-bred for a result. Or just for fun.

"Spiders scuttle everywhere. There are those as small as dots, ranging to gargantuan monstrosities as large as ten feet across. Or larger... They eat random humans alive."

Dust Scout pauses, watching his audience hang on every word. He smiles. "And there is the Queen of Arinaedi. The Spider Demoness, Latarodectus Hesperus. Formed from the concentrated fear and loathing of thousands of years, she is the personification of the spider nightmare. She takes two forms, one of a beautiful, angular woman with pale skin and raven hair. The other, her true form, possesses eight needle-thin spider's legs stretching from a human torso. Behind her is the bulbous black amdomen of a black widow, a blood-red hourglass her mark of fear. Her face is that of a spider, with black mandibles and eight shining black eyes." The speaker grins evilly as a member of the audience shivers in fear.

"She was my representative in this fic." Dust Scout nods. "She was my character. And against her, the invading army of Izuck. A large human kingdom, led by their King, Baleck. And the Fenris Riders, fierce warriors on the backs of wolves, led by their Khan Qilan. Fighting to regain the island of Sealand, and reinstate King Ragnar."

"The invading forces arrived on the island, and the spiders left this message for them: 'Leave us. We rule this land, and have built walls not just to keep you out, but to keep us in. We have no intentions of leaving, so you have no reason to attack us. We have everything we need right here. Leave the little sisters alone.' Of course, it was fruitless. The Izuck forces landed by sea, and their first move was to tear down everything they could reach, producing what they could from the resources outside the walls. Three hundred and fifty thousand men were put to work.

"'"Aaaahhhhhh...." The man sighed, as he relieved himself behind a tree. He had been dying to go for ages, drank far too much before leaving. He turned to get back to his party, hopefully before they noticed he was gone. He pushed a branch aside, and walked right into a web. He easily broke through it, cursing as he did so. Loudly and colourfully. Until he felt just the tiniest itch on the back of his neck... He reached behind him, and squished the tiny spider that had landed there. Smiling, he pressed forward, this hadn't been there before...

Another itch, this time a spider bit his face! Cursing, the man squished it too. Only to find another five on the same spot. And then his neck itched again, and grew heavy. He reached behind, and then screamed as he drew his hand back, it was covered with spiders!

Trashing frantically, the man beat his neck and head, never noticing the billions of spiders that dropped from above, or crawled up his feet. They slipped through the gaps in his armour, poured through his clothing to the warm skin underneath; and they bit and they bit and they bit.

Not many people know that every spider is venomous. It's just that few are deadly to humans. But when that tiny ammount of venom from a normal spider is multiplied by tens of hundreds of billions...

"They found nothing. Not even the armour. No bones, no skin, nothing. Not even his sword. They tracked his footprints, but found nothing. They just stopped dead, in the centre of a massive web. A web that stretched around a quarter of the island, and seemed to be growing...'

And thus did first blood go to Izuck, but it was followed by swift retribution.

"After days of work, the ships were put back out to sea, newly prepared with catapults and other siege weapons. They surrounded the island.

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"Better." Dust Scout wipes his mouth, thirst quenched. "I will continue now.

"'"Let them breach the outer wall." Latrodectus ordered. "I'm tired of this. I told them to go away and leave me alone but still they just keep on coming! Have the inner wall warded. ... Enough. I want everything pulled in, the fortress magically warded, and the storm howling. No attacking. If we keep our priorities defensive perhaps they'll get the message and leave us alone.

Oh, but just in case, send out a message that for every arrow they fire, every boulder and every metre of ground they tread on, I'll personally eat a small child alive. Or possibly make them eat each other."' Thus said the Spider Queen.

"The Izuck forces took over the island, meeting no resitance from the spiders. They had all pulled back into the silent fortress, watching and waiting. The few boulders that were launched against the inner wall failed miserably, as it was warded against physical attacks..." Dust Scout pauses, apparantly irritated. "At this point the Izuck forces discovered a large horde of gunpowder. It must have appeared magically, since the demon forces kept all of their supplies inside the fortress, and didn't use gunpowder in the sulphur cannons anyway." He sniffs, and continues. "The magical gunpowder was laid at the base of the inner wall, and ignited. The resulting explosion opened the wall and allowed the Izuck and Fenris forces to march in. Latrodectus was so annoyed that she tossed the bodies of the small children she snacked on in front of the advancing forces.

Karlet, the black-robed masterof human magics, stood atop the highest tower of the fortress. His blue sphere of power had been preparing throughout, and now that it was ready, he hesitated to use it. He ordered the other defences to be deployed. Spiked pits, caltrops, boiling oil, all were utilised to delay and destroy the men below. 'Below him, two massive gates opened, and the masses poured through. There were only about a hundred of them, maybe slightly more. They were... offspring. Hideous crossbreeds of demon, spider, and the humans of what had once been Sealand. Some had more legs, others had more arms or eyes. Some span webs as they lurched forward. All possessed venom-coated fangs, claws, and swords. The venom sizzled as it hit the bare earth, the word 'deadly' hardly covered it. On the other hand, they were new, barely a few weeks old.

Behind them, came the humans. Two hundred of them. They were the old, the feeble, the dying. Brains no longer opperational (or even there in some cases), they wandered blindly forward, filled only with the urge to kill. They were simply zombies who had not yet died. They carried all the scavengings from Sealand before it became Arinaedi. Carving knives, small daggers, even knitting needles. All coated in the same venom. Behind them, the gates slammed shut, and the stone wrapped around them, crushing the stragglers.

As the armies of Izuck struggled through the crater of their own creation, the monsters advanced. And as the first soldiers reached the battleground in front of the inner wall, they screamed, plunging into booby traps. Spiked pits, rope traps... and of course, the millions of tiny spiders that crawled from their nooks and into the chinks of the armour.

"Oops, no, wait." Dust Scout pauses. "The Fenris riders somehow got through the gates after they were slammed shut. So then they were slammed shut, and boiling oil poured on them. Latrodectus, furious that every move of hers was countered, ordered Karlat to prime the blue orb. Since the enemy had not yet taken out its obvious blue glow of power, she readied it for an emergency. Her final message to the invaders, even as they hammered at her gates:'LEAVE NOW OR CONSEQUENCES WILL BE DIRE.' Nevertheless...

"'The bulk of the forces by the wall retreated back to the lines before the charge, but 35,000 men still remained inside, and safetly away from the walls. They began to charge the castle which was the last structure standing. The door opened and a few thousand Demons charged the human lines. There were crashes of blades as the forces smashed head-on into one another.

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So copy/paste a battle you have fought? Only good one that I ever remember was in Magic vs Technology:

The Witch Hag, Hagre, was determined to show victory for Makala and get a promotion. The trip to the blue nebula had little action until she spotted a small scout ship leaving the nebula and going back in at a fast speed. Hagre thought the ship might have detected them and go back into the nebula hoping not to be seen. Hagre decided to go in and exterminate that ship. Then she got an idea. she would cast a spell on half the trolls(on their wyverns) to look like Promethas ships. while she and the other half would come in at another part of the nebula and attack whatever was in their. Probably just a lot of scout ships Hagre thought. The trolls that looked like Promethas ships would go find the enemy, pretend to be them and when Hagre attacked the Promethas would be surprised at their own ships firing upon them. Hagre chuckled to herself, but then frowned hoping that the trolls would not be detected by the Promethas. But what could a few scout ships do to them? Hagre would crush them with ease. And with giving the final orders she did her part in this attack.

The 2 divisions of Arcans went their ways into the blue nebula, not knowing what lies inside.

* New

The Trolls that looked like Promethas ships, searched the nebula for Promethas ships. They spotted a scout ship heading towards them. The trolls declined destroying this mere ship hoping to find more and to wait for Hagre. The scout ship asked a few questions and the trolls replied with answers that seemed to please the scout ship a bit too much. The scout ship lead them towards a much larger fleet of ships, too many for the disguised trolls to handle, but it would be capable with the help of Hagre and the surprise. THe lead troll noticed that most of the Fleets ships were pointing towards them. this did not look good for them, but if Hagre got there in time this mission might not fail.

  Hagre had entered the nebula but found no sign of the trolls or Promethas ships. Hagre ordered the Trolls to do a search pattern for anyone in the nebula.

<next reply>

The trolls were under fire and lost the element of surprise. The casualties were high at the first of the fight, but they fought back fiercly and had one advantage; They looked like the enemy. About half the trolls were destroyed when the lead troll decided to lead the rest right next to the enemies ships and disperse. The trolls attacked firing fire from the wyverns and other magic weapons from the trolls staffs(which looks like promethas weapons to the promethas, and in the confusion the Promethas hesitated to fire upon them because they wanted to be sure they weren't firing on friendlies. The trolls only managed to destroy 1 promethas ship and severly damage another before the enemy figured out who was who. Seeing that he had lost the battle, the lead troll began to retreat anywhere's away from the battle. Before the troll could get far, the Flagship for the Promthes fleet fired a missle(or laser, whatever it is they fire) and destoyed him.

The trolls lost the battle, but weakened the fleet, causing fatigue and loss of some resources.

Hagre could sense weapon fire nearby. Knowing She lost the element of surprise, she was not sure what to do. She had to join the battle, because she would not be welcome back on Makalas island without victory. She knew that if she didnt return, Makala would know something would be wrong and thus didnt need to send someone back to tell Makala of her incompetence. At once she ordered the trolls to go where the battle was. Before Hagre died she would show the dirty Promethas what she was made of.

<next reply>

Hagre was getting closer the the Promethas. As she got closer she could see that they were already building defenses, and such and she was outnumbered. This difficult situation called for radical measures. Hagre put the best Troll in charge as she was about to sacrifice herself, to make the other trolls better. She summoned all her powers, chanted some words, and slowly the wyverns seemed to get more energy and more fierce looking. Also a think black mist, enveloped all of the trolls, and there surroundings until nothing could be seen. The trolls got into formation and headed towards the Promethas. The mist took form of a Wyvern that spanned about 5 kilometers across space. From the Promethas point of view it would look like a giant black Wyvern was headed there way with a fierce look. This trickery would surely endow fear in all Promethas. Hagre dissapeared into the black mist.

-------------

Also this was the only other memorable battle I participated in (with Dezertfish in Fed2k rpg)

Sir Fish and andrewabc's quest for earthnuker leads them to the game of Betrayal at Krondor. When they arrive, they search for Earthnuker.

They decide to ask the people if they have seen anyone similar to this picture Earthnuker. They make thier way to a tavern where Sir Fish ask one of the patrons.

"Who is he?" the elf asks

"Hes a thief in the service of the great Gob" Sir Fish responds

"Thief? I ain't got no luck with thieves" the elf retorts, "Why I was in the land of FED2K just the other day and i got robbed by someone."

"You did? What did the thief look like" Asks Sir Fish

"That's the funny thing, I don't know, As soon as i realized his hand was in my pocket, he was already gone; It ain't easy to rob me, but that guy was good, coulda even been a woman i reckon"

"You may have helped us more than you know" Sir Fish responds and buys him another drink, "Thanks friend"

Sir Fish returns to and mounts andrewabc "We will return to FED2K" he says, "I have reason to believe that Earthnuker is still there"

They arrive at FED2K and Sir Fish leaves andrewabc, who goes off to feed, and walks into town. He watches a moderator hurry by and sees the moderator drop a post. Sir Fish tries to tell the moderator, but he doesn't hear.

Sir Fish looks down at the post and, to his suprise, it is from Earthnuker, and recent too. The post is from a thread called "Chani or Irulan"

He goes immediately to "Chani or Irulan", and the first thing he sees is earthnuker trying to steal Chani and Irulan. Sir Fish draws his sword and blocks the entrance. "Earthnuker!", He calls "I have been sent to find you by Gob himself"

Earthnuker stops and loosens his grip on Chani and Irulan, they run away.

"Look what you made me do!" he shouts, then "wait, you said Gob sent you?"

Sir Fish raises his sword, "Yes", he responds, "You can go with me voluntarily, or you can go with me regardless."

Earthnuker looked at his sword and replied, "I will return to Gob on my own"

"Gob wishes for me to escort you to him"

"Very well then, but let me first..."

"No!" Sir Fish interrupts him, "We will leave now"

"If you insist" Earthnuker says, as he eyes Sir Fish's wallet, which was barely visible in his left pocket"

"It's nearly empty" Sir Fish mentions as he indicates for Earthnuker to walk in front of him.

Earthnuker and Sir Fish make their way to the desert, and Sir Fish plants a thumper to summon andrewabc.

As they ride back to the great hall, some poor newbie happened to get in their path, and so become andrewabc's dessert.

Sir Fish escorts Earthnuker into the great hall, "Here he is, milord, my task is completed"

------

Back when I was Andrewabc... those were the days. One day ye shall return.

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OOC: No, you are not to copy/paste your battles, you are to retell them.

All around the hall the seated warriors were slamming their weapons on the tables, applauding Dust Scout, for by that name he was known within the hall.

Then Sard rose, raised his hands, the men fell silent...

"Tonight we've heard of Hell's Armada and a mighty tale that one was, now let us toast to the honour of the tale teller"

Sard raised his massive drinking horn, filled with golden mead "To Dust Scout, and those who fell!"

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"Hmm, it seems no one will tell another tale, and it is too early to retire, so I shall tell a tale, but as you can see from my scars I have been in many great battles and I've slain many foemen, yet there is one thread I've been in that few of you know of, and that is my frist. It is so long ago that I cannot even remember where to find the thread but I know it was soon after I had arrived to FED2K and that you might think of it as a very distant predecessor to the later FED2K RPGs."

King Sard raised his horn and qunched the thirst brought about by the semi speech.

"In it I fought under my own name, though back then I was known as The Sardaukar, and I was neither nobleman nor king, though if meomery serves I was being called Sard by those who fought beside me in those days, one of whom was none other than the man now known as Anathema. We fought as commanders of the Dune fans worldwide and leaders of a holy crusade against the vile Star Wars fans, it was a swift war, and ended partly due to massive aid sent from other worlds, but it was not without many setbacks, I for one was killed and fought on as a ghost and Anathema was if memory serves MIA, though in the end I slew he-who-must-not-be-named with my own hands and thereby won the war.

I know I told you about more than just one battle, but I had to tell you about the whole war to add lenght. Now let the drinking and the telling of tales continue!"

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"Perhaps those gathered would like to hear of my past?" Dragoon Knight asked, putting aside his tankard of ale.  There was a chorus of hearty agreement.

"Very well." Dragoon Knight said, standing up.  "Note my mystic blue armour and dragon wings." he described, gesturing to his torso and thighs, and flourishing transparent, misty-blue dragon wings.

"It was not always so.  Aeons ago, I was a mortal, like many among us tonight.  My original name is lost to me, but I remember the events that made me Dragoon Knight like they occurred yesterday.  Listen well, then, to my story..."

"Once, long ago, I was the head of the 1st Knight Battalion of the country once known as Drakyria.  A noble people, we used our resources to research new magic, as technology was unknown in these times.  Our magic was in turn used for peaceful purposes, though we recognised that there were evil forces never too far away."

"It came to pass that one of the kingdom's head sorcerors was corrupted by a spell gone awry; while trying to cast a spell to rid a person of negative feelings, he mis-pronounced a crucial rune, and was instead filled with hatred and malice.  In his pain and anger, he focused his entire magical power to summon a demon of terrible strength.  This demon began terrorising the lands of Drakyria, killing and destroying all in its path."

"Powered by hatred itself, this beast grew in strength and ability with each murder it committed, with every house it burned to the ground.  Battalion after battalion was lost in trying to attack this demon, for none understood that to attack this monster was to feed it with hatred, and thus lose.  At the last, only the capital city remained.  The demon - who required no rest or food, other than the destruction it wreaked - was soon upon us."

"The 1st Knight battalion was the last line of defence for the capital.  Being adept in the secret arts of attack magic, each of us drew upon ancestral might, calling forth the elements in an attempt to bring this demon to its knees.  Alas, our efforts were in vain.  One by one, my comrades fell, leaving only myself on the battlefield, with the demon towering above me; his grotesque face staring into my soul, his eyes fiery and terrible."

"At that moment, I was overwhelmed.  The screams of the innocent people behind me, the memory of the dying cries of my fellow knights..." Dragoon Knight paused, the memory still causing him pain.

"It was then that I felt them... the screams of the dead; those that had already fallen to this demon.  I could see them in his eyes as he approached me for the single blow that would end me utterly.  Thousands of faces, all pleading for release... the bastardised thing had devoured their very souls!"

"In a last desperate cry, I called out to the ancient Gods of Drakyria; the Dragons themselves.  I begged them to give me power enough to defend what little was left of our noble country, and to save the souls within this demon.  My prayer was answered."

"A bolt of blue light shot forth from the heavens, striking me as I knelt.  The demon cowered from it, for it was divine power.  I could feel it flowing into me, filling me with strength.  My tattered and bloody armour morphed and lightened into what you see now; the Divine Armour of the Dragon Gods.  From my upper back sprouted forth two majestic wings, made of the light itself.  And in my right hand, a blade was forged from that light.  This blade." Dragoon Knight said, reaching into the air.  In a flash of light, a sword with a bright blue light-blade appeared.

"This blade, which I named Archangel, was the strength of the Dragon Gods incarnate.  Rising from my knees, the light spreading to illuminate the entire city, I bid the demon begone.  Roaring in defiance, it charged at me.  I took to the skies, hovering in the air; an unmoving bastion of defence.  Once more, I commanded it begone, yet still it charged."

"Only a hundred feet or so from the city now, I commanded the demon begone one last time.  Almost at the gates, it would not leave this world.  At that moment, I called upon the divine powers bestowed upon me.  Archangel shone brightly, and I flew directly towards the demon, ripping through him in one charge.  The demon fell, roaring in its defeat, and exploded in gouts of black flame.  From this flame, I saw thousands of souls rise to the heavens, finally free."

"The flame disappeared after a time; the divine light shortly afterwards.  Returning to the city, the people came out of hiding.  They cheered me, for I was their saviour.  It was they who named me; Dragoon in the ancient Drakyrian tongue meant 'Master of Dragons'.  Thus I was reborn... as Dragoon Knight."

"There ends my tale, my friends." Dragoon Knight finished, and sheathed Archangel through a loop made by his left hand; as the sword passed through, it disappeared.  Sitting down once more, he drank of his ale once again.  "Since that time so long ago, I have been immortal.  A protector of the people, an avatar of the ancient and forgotten Dragon Gods."

Dragoon Knight raised his tankard.  "To those who have fallen!"

There was a chorus of the same; each drank of their glasses or mugs, and the tale was told.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

  Lord Johnsonius sat in the dark corner of the room quietly sipping his bloodwine as the other storytellers raged on.  He found some of the stories enlightening, fascinating, and some he found deeply disturbing.  But as the meadhall began to quiet down, and the torches began to flicker, Lord J realized that the time for his story was nigh.

  Lord J stood and walked to the table where Kind Sard and his men sat.  The previously boisterous laughter and cursing silenced as they looked on the dark-veiled Prince of the South.  They had faced both he and his legions of Orcs and Klingons in battle, and were conscious of his prowess as a leader and a fighter.  None wished to face him tonight.

  Lord J gently set his goblet of bloodwine on the table, and said in a clear and steady tone, "I would be heard, Sir Sard."

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  • 3 weeks later...

King Sard rose. "Lord Johnsonius, that was a great and worthy tale, but I know that you have other, and perhaps even better, tales. You have been here for about as long as I, if not longer, and you have been in some of the most brutal wars and grandest battles. The night is young, the barrels are still full of mead and ale, we have time for another tale from you"

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  • 3 weeks later...

The doors open as a newcomer arives his form veiled by a cloak and hood. He goes into a corner to sit before he removes his hood. Some of the older members may remember him as Usul, long a wanderer outside the doors of Fed2k, warrior of many a thread and a compainion of King Sard from the old days.

"I hear you have been crowned since I was last here my lord. I hope that your new rank does not diminish our friendship. I also hope that I may tell you tales of some of my exploits while I have been unable to return here".

(OOC: is it ok if I tell tales of RPGs I've played outside of FED2K as I haven't been here for some time and I can't remember the games I was in here very well).

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Well my lord I tell a tale of an alternate history where WWII finished earlier and an amsitse was signed. I had slipped from my socialist ways to the way of anarchism because of the teachings of a spaced out magi. I was a fighter of Fascism, denier of religion and all round rebel. My biggest enemy was always the Nazis. And so in the USA I and others campaigned against the Nazis presence. We followed them through the swamps as they fled from us. Durning the chase we lost a man and his contractors decided to hire us to finish the job. We were sent to Argantina to find a secret Nazi base and so we did. A tunel system in the mountains guarded from gantries and a large pillbox. We sneaked closer and I preformed a little trick I learned from my old mentor called Cook off and Die which lowered the temprature tolerance of the barrel so that when it fired it would misfire. I then fired my revolver into the air and watched as the pillbox blew up (I later found out that it was a high-tech experemental weapon). This caused much smoke and rock dust (aided by a little magic) and so we moved towards the base under this cover. Once in we began to look for our targets, a KKK high priest, a mad scientist, a mad doctor, a number of improved soilders and the leader of the lot of them. We found the high priest easily and as I fought with him my sword it flew out of my hand and stuck in the wall (I swear he used magic, honestly!). We killed our way through the list until the leader and three of the soilders ran. When we came to the surface The British Army were landing from the sea and they finished them of.

After this I tried to convince the soilders to become arnarchists but I failed to rouse them much. After this we headed for Austria to continue the chase, but that is another tale... (eg one we haven't role played yet).

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  • 3 months later...

The perpetual night wore on. The great hall was filled with the rowdy singing of drunken men and women of valour, accompanied by the bellows of those seeking to claim or reclaim honour in personal combat. King Sard slouched in his throne, looking bored. He twirled a lazy finger in his horn of mead, looking out at the roasting carcass of a whole boar. He sighed. Nobody was telling a story.

"Languishing, your majesty?" Dust Scout smirked from his seat on the steps of the throne. He leaned back, taking a long drink from his wine glass. "You haven't quaffed for hours."

"I am not hearing any great tales." The King muttered, taking a gulp from his horn. "The bards are nowhere to be found. I need entertainment!"

"We've got entertainment." Dragoon Knight grinned, staring intently at a small bottle, suspended over a candle flame with string. A tiny spectre writhed inside, screaming quietly.

"Er... Yes..." The King looked away. He sat in silence for about ten seconds. "I am still bored."

"You want a tale, then. A story of brave deeds and heroic victories." Dust Scout stated calmly, watching Dragoon giggling to himself.

"That would be nice, yes." The King humphed.

"A great saga of days gone by, when men were men." EWS added, from a table nearby.

"Preferably." The King nodded.

"A tale of violence, gore and with no age certificate." Ravus nodded from a bench on the other side of the throne.

"Who are you?" The King asked quizically.

"Perhaps we can make do with something different." Dust Scout smiled, setting down his glass on the steps. "Will you hear my tale?"

"At once!" The King declared, thumping the armrest. "Shall I call for silence?"

"No, don't bother." Dust Scout looked out at the wide hall. His gaze passed over the drinking, the singing, the shouting and eating. "I think I can draw attention in my own way." He stretched, adjusted his position, and sat back.

"The world is in chaos." He began. "The major cities are in flames. Governments have crumbled, unable to function without the infrastructure of society. Power has failed. Transport has ground to a halt. Communications no longer exist, all electical data having been crippled by an onslaught of advanced viruses. The police can no longer maintain order. Martial law rules." He grinned nastily.

"In Brazil, the last of four stolen nuclear devices has been detonated outside Rio de Janeiro. Over the world, thousands are already dead. A series of non-nuclear explosions have ripped through Berlin, Paris, Edinburgh, Geneva. The handiwork of the master criminal, the Pelican. In short, the world is ending.

"Here and there, small pockets of order survive. Northern Scotland. Redlak House. The Redlak family and their vigilante Guardians have been preparing for this eventuality for years, and the scion of the line is on the brink of a great push to restore civilisation to the world. Justin Redlak. Toward him speeds a convoy of the Russian military, intent on his destruction. With the Guardians stand the Frey family, seeking revenge for the death of one of their number. Vivian Frey even now pilots a stolen helicopter in the direction of Redlak House..."

"Stop!" Cried the Pelican. The taxi screeched to a halt, sliding on the poor road. The Pelican reached over to the door, flinging it open and jumping from the vehicle.

"Hey! What about my money?" The angry driver shouted, just as a small missile soared over the nearest hill, trailing smoke and fire. The Pelican flung himself to the ground as the missile impacted with the car, exploding as missiles are wont to do. The heat wave washed over him, bringing with it small pieces of taxi and driver. He stood up slowly, glancing back at the wreckage. He glared down at his suit, and flicked a small piece of flaming debris from the shoulder.

"Ah shoot. Mud on my suit..." He muttered, brushing himself down. With the remains of his transport blazing merrily behind him, he started to walk forward. Just a mile or two to go...

Meanwhile, Redlak House buzzed with activity. In preparation for the rapidly approaching Russians, red alert had been activated. The bulb had been changed and everything. Armour plating and gun turrets, backup generators and minefields. While technicians and soliders ran back and forth, a few people sought some escape from the frantic activity.

"They're coming." Julia Frey murmured, staring at the wallscreens in front of her. Having lost the ability to hijack commerical cameras, the images shown were limited. They still showed Julia what she needed to know; the army was on the march. She brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes.

"They're coming this way." Elisa sighed at her sister's side. "What do we do?"

"That's a stupid question." Their brother Alexei growled from the other side of the room. Turning around, Julia noticed that he was packing a bag. She tried to rein in a familiar sinking feeling.

"What are you doing?" She asked.

"I'm leaving of course." Alexei told her, "D'you really think I'm going to stay and fight an army like that for someone who offered only a measly ten million? Ha, right. No, I'm getting out of here right now." He picked up a pistol, checked the ammo, and put it down on the table next to his bag.

"You mean, you're just leaving?" Julia asked, wishing that she could be surprised.

"You have a better idea?" Alexei asked. "As has been said many time before, we are survivors. When we are beaten or when the situation looks bleak we cut our losses and live to fight another day." He was cut off by the quiet sound of something going *click.* He turned around at the familiar noise, looking at a revolver pointed directly at him. Elisa held it steady.

"You. Are staying. Right here." She gulped, her voice shaking while her hand remained fixed in position. "You left me once before, left me for years at the mercy of that, that monster! Well not this time! This time you'll stay and you'll fight! If it comes down to it you'll die with us, but I will not let you run again." She raised her chin defiantly. Julia stepped back, making it clear to Alexei that she was not going to interfere.

"You wouldn't shoot me." Alexei sneered.

"No?" Elisa tilted her head, "Keep packing and watch me." Alexei stood there for a moment longer. Finally coming to a decision, he turned aside and continued packing. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his sister hesitate. She made to shoot, and then stopped. He did not stop packing the things that weren't his. Elisa made to brandish the gun again, but stopped. She sighed, though it sounded more like a whimper, and started to lower the gun slowly.

"There you se-" Alexei started. Then she shot him in the foot.

"You will stay here. You will fight with us." Elisa lowered the gun and Alexei clutched his foot with a howl of pain. "These people killed Ben. Tonight you will prove that you are truly a member of our family." She clicked the safety catch into place, and held the gun at her side.

"Elisa shot her brother because she realised that it was the only way to prevent him leaving." Dust Scout explained to the small crowd that now sat around the steps of the throne. "Years ago, Alexei had abandoned Elisa on her second mission. He had expected her to die, and in fact for years the family had believed her lost forever. The eldest sibling, Vivian, had hunted Alexei for years before Elisa made her escape from the man that had imprisoned her. Knowing that Alexei could not be trusted, Elisa had taken the only option that she saw. It was not an easy choice for her."

"What did they look like?" A small voice from the crowd called. While the caller was shushed, Dust Scout took a drink.

"Elisa was shorter than average." He said, licking his lips to clear traces of wine. "She was pale, with a small nose and bright, vibrant green eyes. She was slim, a gymnast's build. Her hair was lustrous and thick, a deep red colour. It hung down to her waist, but on this night she had tied it back into a constraining ponytail. She wore contact lenses much of the time, especially in public. Her distinctive eyes were important to hide, in order to avoid being recognised. When not in public, she wore glasses with thick black frames.

"Julia was taller, and prouder. She had a slightly hooked nose, and light blue eyes. Her hair was straight and blonde, always tied back in a ponytail that reached to just above her belt. Unlike Elisa, who prefered black or red clothing, Julia was most comfortable in jeans and a white t-shirt. She was beautiful, but always felt as if she was playing second fiddle to her oldest sister, Vivian.

"Alexei... Alexei was nearly seven feet tall." Dust Scout frowned. "He had black hair, and constant stubble. His skin was more tanned that that of his sisters, and his physique more muscular. His eyes were grey-green, though a lot of the time they were hidden behind dark glasses. He would have been handsome, had it not been for the many scars that ran across his face. He wore a leather jacket, thickly padded for armour, and black jeans. ...There, is that alright?"

"What did Vivian look like?" Another voice called. Dust Scout rolled his eyes.

"Stunning." He replied, with a shrug. "Vivian was tall, graceful, and beautiful. Her hair was thick and blonde, cascading down to just below her shoulders. Her cheekbones framed full lips, her dark blue eyes shone. Her skin was pale, and unscarred. She was the eldest, the proudest, the most capable and dangerous of all the family. This night she wore black leather, her customary red evening dress being for formal assassinations only."

"They're nearly upon us, sir." Dirk, head assistant to Justin Redlak, said tonelessly. He picked a speck of dirt from his cuff, grubby from helping out with maintenace to the House Defences.

"And most of my Agents elsewhere." Justin said, smiling.

"Yes, sir."

"Good.  At least they'll survive this." Justin said, closing his laptop, switching off his many consoles.

"But sir, you'll sur-"

"No, I won't." Justin interrupted.  "This has been a long time coming... but here we are."

"I... see." Dirk said, hanging his head.  "And Garnet?" He looked fixedly at the floor.

Justin cringed at the mention of Garnet's name.  Dirk knew why.

"She... she knows what to do."

"Yes, she does." Dirk nodded.  "And to think, I went to all the trouble of getting this place in tip-top shape."

"When he comes of age, he'll thank you for it." Justin said.

"And you're sure that it has to be this way?" Dirk asked again.

"Yes.  I know it." Justin replied, cocking a pistol. "The only question is... who'll go first?"

The next hour was spent finalising the house's defences. Justin toured the premesis, lending assistance and raising morale where he could. He stopped by the outer turrets, adjusting their auto-loader and slapping a few backs. He checked in to the control room, watching the progress of the Russian forces with pursed lips. And a tiny blip on the radar, indicating a single figure striding in the direction of Redlak House...

He left the old armoury until last. Sending Dirk away to check on things that had already been checked a hundred and one times, he knocked on the thick oaken door. Opening it slowly, he entered the room.

It was a large room, wallpapered in dark blue. Wooden paneling covered the lower few feet of the walls, harmonising pleasantly with the thick navy blue carpet. Glass cases filled the room, each displaying a different selection of weapons. They were mostly from the twentieth century, with one or two exceptions. A particularly large case held a cache of early automatic pistols. As Justin walked between the displays, he listened for the sounds of weapons being prepared. Sure enough, a unique *clack* noise from the right indicated that one of the crossbows was being primed. Justin rounded a case of First World War gas masks. Julia and Elisa Frey stood at one of the large windows, with a selection of ranged weapons scattered about the floor around them. Julia finished loading the crossbow, while Elisa adjusted the sights of a rifle.

"You know we have much more advanced weapons, if you would prefer." Justin offered, holding up his hands in mock surrender.

"We're fine, thanks." Julia put the crossbow on the floor, and reached behind her head to tie her hair back. Elisa turned around to smile, before going back to her rifle.

"Are you... alright?" Justin tried again. He looked about, suddenly realising what was wrong. "Wait, where's your brother?"

"In the infirmary." Julia picked up a box of shotgun shells, and began to count them out. "He shot himself in the foot."

"Ah. And who pulled the trigger?" Justin asked. He refleted that with anyone else he would not have needed to ask that question.

"I did." Elisa responded without turning around.

"Ah." Justin decided not to pursue the matter further. "I... appreciate you lending your aid to the defence of Redlak House."

"Don't. Our reasons are quite different from your own." Julia stated.

"Yes, I know... But still, you are protecting my house. That means something to you, yes?"

"No. We cut our losses and run." Julia replied. "But now it's different. It's personal. Someone has harmed Family. He will suffer accordingly." She said without emphasis or emotion. Justin reflected that given the situation, she could be forgiven for being a bit prickly.

"Would you like some of my men with you? You're quite exposed in this part of the building." He tried.

"We work better alone, thank you." Julia said calmly. Justin sighed.

"Well, use the intercom if you need anything." He said. Julia nodded, and continued her work. Justin nodded, and turned around. Had he known that both women would die that night, he might have stayed longer.

"Sir, the Russians are within firing range." Dirk reported as Justin closed the door to the old armoury.

"Get everyone who doesn't need to be up here underground." Justin responded. He began to stride along the corridor. "Have all non-combat personell sheltered."

"At once, sir." Dirk disappeared down a side passage. The House vibrated for a moment.

"What was that?" Justin shouted into his intercom, bounding down the stairs to the control centre.

"Tank shell rebounded off the triple-bonded titanium-alloy shield plating." A female voice responded.

"Retaliate!"

House Redlak opened fire.

"Take cover! Do not return fire!" The commander of the Russian forces shouted into his radio. Around him, the heavily armoured tanks rolled to a halt, sitting still under the hail of fire from the outer defence turrets. "Wait..."

The next five minutes saw a constant barrage of fire from the house's defences. The tanks remained on the edge though, out of range of the heavier artillery.

"And so the battle of Redlak House commenced." Dust Scout told his audience, which was now almost half of the hall. He spoke quietly, and so most sat in silence in order to listen. "As the last rays of the setting sun died, the first attack ended..."

The tanks had endured the first assault, and they sat in silence as the rattling explosions went quiet. Like statues they remained, cold and unmoving. And then slowly, ever so slowly, the first one inched forward. It rolled away from the others, gathering speed. It fired once, twice! The shell impacted with one of the outer turrents, destroying it. The other went wide, hitting the ground with a dull thud. As the other tanks started to roll forward, the turrets opened fire once more.

The Russians lost one tank almost immediately, as it crested a hill and ran over a mine just as it attempted to fire. The others rolled on, firing in rapid succession as they advanced toward the house.

"One by one the turrets were falling! The heavily armoured tanks, still out of range of the house's main defences, were all but flattening the outer works." Dust Scout stood now, waving his hands for emphasis. "But even as the battle raged overhead, another group of invaders had found themselves a different way in.

"A wide tunnel, metal plated on all sides and completely featureless. Square lights shone brightly down on the many dark figures as they made their way along the passage. While their comrades fought the defences above ground, this party had swept the area for hidden ways in, and found one. They moved as quietly as possible, but still their boots clanged loudly on the metallc surface of the corridor. They could only hope that the passage was far enough away from the main workings of the manor. They suspected so." Dust Scout added. "They had already walked some distance, and expected to meet a way into the manor soon. There to fan out and disable the security, man or machine, allowing the rest of the force in.

'Hello boys.' The voice echoed out of the walls. The lead figure looked up at once, raising his gun. He saw... nothing." Dust Scout shrugged. "The passage ahead was white and featureless. He glanced behind him, looking for reassurance from his subordinates. They looked about themselves as well, attempting to find the source of the voice."

"Dammit, why aren't the guns working?" Julia hissed to one of the many interchangable Redlak staff, crouched by the old armoury fireplace. He shrugged, while frantically typing onto a the console. The series of muscular spasms that followed this complicated procedure would have been quite amusing had the siutation not been so dire. He recovered quickly.

"I don't know, they must have cut the wires or something, they should be bullet-riddled corpses by now!" He protested.

"Automatic gun bust. Whee." Julia muttered, looking around. She stood up, and left the man typing; he hardly noticed her as she walked across the room, only looking up at the sound of a katana sliding down from its place on the wall. Elisa looked around.

"What, er... what are you doing?" The Redlak man asked, suddenly believing all of the rumours he had heard.

"Without the guns they have a direct route to the room below this one." Julia answered flatly. "It would take them a long time to break through the doors, but they could do it, and the rest of the defenders are busy elsewhere." An explosion overhead signalled the truth of this statement. The tanks were gaining long-range support.

"I, I could call for backup..." The nervous man suggested.

"Don't." Julia ordered him, "I'll take care of this lot. You just lock the door after me, alright?" The mad paused, but nodded. He keyed a code into the console, and a section of the wall slid aside, to reveal two five-inch thick metal doors, also sliding aside. Julia stood up straight, put her shoulders back, and strode through the doorways.

The doors slid shut behind her, and she heard the sound of them locking again. A buzzing sound and a jilt indicated that she was moving downwards. As the wall in front opened up, she held her sword ready. In front of her the wide corridor now stretched. She stood between the only two automatic guns that were visible. Experimentally, she waved the katana in front of one of them. It didn't even twitch. She sighed, and walked on. She could hear the sound of the men ahead, clumping noisily while she herself walked quietly on bare feet. She reached the only bend in the passage, and waited, pressing her back against the wall.

"...I am thirsty. Perhaps a refill?" Dust Scout raised his glass. Someone stepped forward and refilled it for him. "Ah, thank you. Um, also, would anyone want to congratulate me on my five thousandth post? Anyone?" Someone near the back started clapping. Nobody else moved. The clapper stopped. "Oh very well..."

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"The leader of the group was spooked." Dust Scout continued. "First the voice from invisible speakers, then a hissing sound from ahead of him, and now this eerie silence..." He trailed off for effect. He listened to the sound of breath being unconsciously held, and smiled. "The leader crept as quietly as he could, and yet still made a lot of noise. He reached a corner, and held his hand up for a stop. Behind him, his men halted. He indicated for one of them to come forward, and turn the corner at the far side. The man did so, clinking with military technology. He leapt around to point his gun into the passage, and hesitated.

That hesitation cost him dearly, as a silver arc slashed through his throat, sending him sprawling. In a blur of movement, someone whipped around the corner and plunged a blade into the chest of the leader, withdrawing it and moving on before he could even raise a hand to defend himself. As he slumped, his life flashing before his eyes, he was aware of the silver, slashing thing moving away behind him while cries of confusion and fright echoed along the passage.

"Julia tore into the men, moving faster than they could aim their guns. The sword slashed through kevlar and bone as if they were water, tearing a swathe of destruction through the crowd and leaving limbs and corpses in its wake. One idiot started firing in fright before he had even aimed, taking down two of his comrades before the katana cut through his arms." Dust Scout made a slicing motion with one hand. "Alexei, meanwhile, had returned to the old armoury. The Russians were sending in troops now, and he fired round after round out of the window with the shotgun, working off the frustration and fury that boiled beneath his skin. He growled, peering through the boarded window. His foot was bandaged but still in excrutiating pain. It was too late for him to run now, and so he fought. A simple choice. He couldn't run, jump or dodge anymore, what with the multiple injuries in his legs, and so he leaned on the boards, waiting for people to get close enough to be shot. Next to him, Elisa picked off single targets with a sniper rifle. Alexei glowered at her. If he survived the night, he vowed, someone most certainly would not."

The battle at Redlak raged, explosions and the rattle of guns filling the air. The tanks squatted in front of the defences, blasting shots at the Manor. Bullets ricocheted off metallic hide, occasionally hitting someone nearby. With the Manor so far away, the tanks looked as if they would have an easy way of it. Until a steady *whop-whop-whop* filled the air...

"I don't think so..." Vivian hissed, as the helicopter soared over the Russian ranks. She banked sharply, turning the helicopter 180 degrees to come in again, tilting the nose down and firing a spray of bullets into the attackers. "Ha HA!" Wheeling around for another pass, the helicopter was peppered with ineffectual bullets. It swung over again, firing rapidly, before turning around to face the tank.

"Bye bye." Vivian grinned nastily, as a missile shot from the bowels of the helicopter. It impacted directly beneath the tank, flipping it over and cracking the underside. Flames sprouted from inside. Vivian smirked as she brought the 'copter up, swinging forward once more and firing at the tanks from on high. No more bullets, explosives! The tanks rocked as they were subjected to pinpoint strikes from the powerful chopper, aimed precisely at their weakest spots. The AA defence was sluggish, as nobody had thought that it might be needed. Vivian easily veered out of the way of the first few volleys, but she noticed that things were getting hotter.

'They killed Jared.'

She fired another salvo, taking out a further forty men.

It had only been a matter of time, Julia reflected. She knelt on the floor, watching blood pool around her. It was only a small consolation that most of it was not her own. A dull ache in her chest signalled her doom. A bullet in the ribs. Possibly it had punctured a lung. Either way, she was doomed.

M4 Carbines, she recognised the make. American. It had only taken one chance shot, one bullet that she could not dance away from or deflect with her blade. She had done well, she thought. The first round had seen her weild the sword masterfully, sending every bullet into the walls. But it had only taken one.

She could not move. She doubted that she could so much as lift a finger. She could feel her strength ebb away with her blood. The screams of the maimed Russians were beginning to fade. Something cold pressed against her forehead. With an exertion, she lifted her eyes. Someone held a handgun to her head. She smiled.

"You.. don't deserve me." She rasped. Even as she did so, the intercom buzzed into action.

"Julia, we've got the turrets back online!" Someone called. The Russian swore, and pulled the trigger even as Julia closed her eyes. As he did so, the automatic turrets sprung to life. The men were dead before she hit the floor.

At the turret control console deep within Redlak House, Justin punched the air.

"Yes!

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Justin landed hard and badly, his head hitting the ground first. The world to spun and blurred. Trying to get to his feet again, he realised that he wouldn't be fast enough. He saw Alex bent double, hobbling towards his gun. Feeling something hard behind his back, Justin realised that he was lying on his own pistol. He reached behind his back a second too late.

"Now..." Alex panted and wheezed, ignorant of Francis' frantic screams as she approached their position. "It's finally over..." His finger moved to the trigger.

"Yes." Justin gasped, readying himself. "It's over." he finished.

Alex blinked.

Justin rolled to the left.

Alex fired, hitting Justin in the shoulder.

Justin fired, hitting Alex in the chest.

Alex blinked again, and looked down at his wound. Looking up again, he glared directly into Justin's eyes.

"It aint over... fucker..." He growled. Choking at the end, he fell forward. Francis screamed louder as she reached the crest of the hill, running forward to kneel by her lover's side.

"ALEX..ALEX..Wake up you idiot. Wake up!" She called, repeating the Pelican's true name again and again. Her eyes were full of tears. She didn't know what to think. But the grief was quickly becoming swallowed. Dwarfed by rage, hot anger that flooded through her veins. She searched the ground for a weapon and, finding Alex's handgun, wrenched it from his hand. She heard Justin picking himself up. She turned and pointed the handgun at him, hardly even considering her actions.

"You will pay for this, you bastard." She hissed. Justin regarded her sadly, before turning and walking away.

Vivian slipped out from behind a grassy knoll, crossbow in hand. Her rage had not subsided. In fact she was even angrier, since the loss of her stolen helicopter she had been unable to get a clear shot at the man responsible for the murder of two of her brothers. And now he was dead, she never would! She had watched Francis' whimpering over the Pelican's body and felt vaguely ill. Death did not bother her, but soppy blubbering did. After all, what point did it serve? She had watched Francis' shift in behaviour, watched her pick up the gun...

"Justin, get out of the way!" She shouted, gesturing for the victor to move aside. He was standing directly between Vivian and Francis, without a weapon! And if he couldn't defend himself, Vivian had no qualms about shooting this woman right now. Justin stood still, looking directly at her. Behind him, Francis held the pistol steady. The blazing fires around the manor caused their eyes to glitter with tears.

"I know." Justin said quietly. Francis fired. Vivian saw it impact in Justin's back, speeding out the other side. She faced a split-second decision. To kill Francis now, or to aid Justin? She heard running footsteps, and glimpsed red hair on the edge of the hill. Francis was already running in the opposite direction. She made her decision, and dashed forward to see how bad the damage was.

"You bitch!" Elisa growled, priming her rifle. She dashed past the comatose Justin, leaping over the body of the Pelican. Francis was a fading figure, running out of the light of the fires. Elisa grimaced, and reached for the torch at her belt. Slowing for a moment, she shone it in Francis' direction.

The woman screamed, turned and fired five shots in all directions.

They were not aimed. They were not careful. And yet, fate has a way of making apparantly random events occur in such a way as to make it seem cruel. Elisa barely felt a thing as one of the bullets passed through her neck, neatly severing her spinal cord. Like Julia, she was dead before she hit the ground. Francis ran into the night, the gun discarded.

"The 'Redlak Business,' as it became known, was a pivotal moment in the history of the world." Dust Scout bowed his head. "It saw the death of one of the greatest men to work for peace and security. It saw the death of a man responsible for the deaths of thousands. It brought down a crime syndicate, and in doing so paved the way for the Guardians to restore order to the world, piece by piece. It saw the end of the Frey family, with the single survivor disappearing soon afterwards. That night, the fate of the planet hinged upon these men and women. Did they succeed?

"Both the Pelican and Justin Redlak left provisions for their sons." Dust Scout said quietly. "Even the Frey family rose again, in their own way. But that is, of course, another tale. For another time." He finished. The hall was silent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

King Sard gestured for a thrall to fill his horn. With a full horn he the rose, and said quietly "To Dust Scout, and his tale". He emptied the enormous horn, and slammed it unto the table, with such force that the massive oak table nearly broke. The noise that followed was almost unbearable as every warrior who able to do so were hammering either his hand or his weapon into the table, and thus saluting the tale-teller. Dust Scout rose and bowed. Smiling secretly, as was his wont.

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Acriku watched the man as he sat down, smiling. Deep inside, he wished he had been a part of something as grand as the story Dust Scout had just told. He sipped the last bit of foam from his cup, and continued to look down at the table in front of him while somebody refilled his cup.

Behind him, Acriku heard a man whisper to another, "Is that him? Could it be?"

The man responded, "Oh my, I think it is. Hey! You there in that big coat of fur!"

Acriku continued to stare down at the table, not wanting to be noticed.

Whispers sprang all around now, and Acriku looked up to the King and saw that he was looking around at the reason for the sudden spring of curiousities around the room. A sudden feeling of dread washed over him as the King zeroed in on his face, with a look of eagerness in his want for a story.

The man who shouted to him before walked up next to Acriku and slapped his back.

"It is you, isn't it!"

Acriku looked up at the man, and responded, "I don't know what you mean. Leave me to my drink."

"I could recognize that face with many more drinks in me, my boy! You are Acriku of the Cultists Tribe!"

A moment of familiarity came over Acriku as he recalled his experience on fourth season of Fed2k Surviver, and he shot a glare at the man. "Lord Johnsonius! You treacherous fool!"

Acriku sprung up and tackled Lord Johnsonius and the two wrestled each other until the King's guard pulled them apart.

The guests of the hall all looked toward the two men, and shouted out obscenities and continued to drink.

The King bellowed, "Why is there hostility in this hall? Are we not men who desire to drink and enjoy ourselves? Speak at once as to the reason for this interruption of entertainment!"

Acriku shrugged the guard's hold off of him, and sat back down.

Lord Johnsonius spoke up to the King, "My King, forgive us. Apparently grudges last long after the winters of time." He looked at Acriku.

Acriku continued to angrily stare at his cup.

The guests erupted in excitement and drunken curiousity, as the tables and ground shook with fists banging upon the table. It was clear that a story was wanted.

The King rose his hand, and the hall soon fell silent. "Such a deep grudge surely follows a worthy story. Tell us all, please!"

Acriku slammed his cup on the table and the bottom shattered over the spilled rum.

"I am drunk enough to take part in this fest, by the gods. You want a story? I'll give you a story about treachery, something we can all relate to."

"It was the fourth season of Fed2k Survivor, in the deadly but alluring land of Canada..."

...I woke up on a boat, estranged by the smell of a big creature laying in front of me. I rose to my feet, and peered out around me and saw the coast of a cold and gray wasteland. I sat back down in disappointment, for I was told that Canada held tropical terrain and beautiful women. I decided to speak to the creature emitting that ghastly smell, but all it did was grunt back. I then woke up the man behind me, who awoke with alarm, and asked for his name.

The man responded with title and all, Lord Johnsonius. He stood and put his hands on his hips when he said it, as if the trumpets of his throne blared with every utterance of his name. I decided to begin the game and create the first alliance with this bloated man.

Landing on the beach and finding shelter was a tedious task, but all eight of us from the boat worked well together. The nights were long, and allowed me to talk with Johnsonius about our plans in the game. We had most of the Cultist tribe trusting us, and the game looked like it was in the bag. Little to my knowledge, Johnsonius was planning something treacherous and selfish the whole time!

Acriku paused for a moment, as he grabbed the cup next to him and gulped down the mead until he was satisfied. He looked around, and half of the room had a bored look on their face.

The cup's owner shouted, "Hey!"

Acriku continued...

...It was the final day of my experience on that dreadful piece of wasteland, but I had no idea of it at the time. It was an immunity challenge, and I was ready to win. Although, when I grabbed my spear, I felt a hand on my shoulder and looking over I saw Johnsonius grinning at me. I was confused, but when he gave a push I knew what was going on. I fell into the icey water nearby, and consequently our team lost and was sent to Tribal Council.

"You fell into that ice you clumsy fool, har har!" Lord Johnsonius shouted.

"I know what I saw, you treacherous bastard!"

  Heartbroken from the backstabbing, I swam up to the surface and let the EMTs take me in and give me warmth. I could not believe that my first and most solid alliance with Johnsonius was torn apart by his greed and treachery. After council, I planned to take care of the bastard once and for all. But alas! My own tribe voted against me nearly unanimously! I was defeated before my plan could unfold, and was sent out of the wasteland for good. I glared at Johnsonius for the last time at council, and with my rage vowed to return. Then I got really drunk the night after and forgot all about what had happened.

The hall was silent. Acriku looked around waiting for the formal banging of swords upon the tables. He looked at the King, who was slumped over and had his head down hidden under his crown.

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EWS peered from behind the large roast that was infront of him.  Positioned carefully so as none could see he had fallen asleep at the tale of Acriku.  With more then one drink in him he shouted over to Acriku.

"That was a folly tale, as boring as it was short, as uninteresting as it was stupid.  However, no doubt that it was something that you hold dear in your heart, for one should not hold grudges as long as you have.  However your story holds as much creed as a tall teller - for we must here Lord J's side as well."

"I would love to speak, but I fear I am not as well with words as Dante or even your self Acriku, but I shall try.  Give me time and I will come up with a tale for you all to hear."

He returned to his feast, signalling for another drink and with a mouth full of food he announced

"For one to get drunk like you did, how can you remember the grudge now?"

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