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  Freehold or Bust
Posted by: frenzied67 - 07-18-2021, 08:24 PM - Forum: Erath Miscellany - No Replies

This is where we should discuss our party's direction for our game on August the 8th, 2021.  As was noted we have before us a chance to catch a boat and sail to The Freehold.  Also there is the option of crossing overland, entering the wilderness to gain the coast and follow the inland sea's edge around to the city.  And our final choice is to return by the road, passing by Ulfang the Black's tower, locating the owlbear and it's master, passing through Elvold to gain The Freehold road.

though it is longer, Enkili wishes to take the road back.  He thinks the tower would be a fun challenge, plus he was gung-ho to go after the owlbear even before we knew what it was. I think it is time for Hubert to be given money so he can choose the weapons he wants to wield, is there anyone who wants to chip in for his armament?


   

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  Two Iterations of A Cantrip Confusion
Posted by: frenzied67 - 07-06-2021, 10:36 AM - Forum: The Judge's Podium - Replies (2)

In Sword Coast Adventurers guide the cantrips Green Flame Blade and Booming Blade were introduced. At the time there was no special requirement to use those cantrips, so those cantrips could be used in conjunction with the spell Shadow Blade. In Tasha's Cauldron of everything, they rewrote both cantrips, proclaiming that only a weapon with 5 sp cost or higher were necessary in casting either Booming Blade or Green Flame Blade. Bladesingers, Eldritch Knights, and certain Bardic Colleges use these cantrips with great abandon, however, it now seems that the dunces at WOTC have found yet another way to neuter our characters.

Booming Blade
TCE
p106
Evocation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (5-foot radius)
Components: S, M (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp)
Duration: 1 round
You brandish the weapon used in the spell's casting and make a melee attack with it against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, the target suffers the weapon attack's normal effects and then becomes sheathed in booming energy until the start of your next turn. If the target willingly moves 5 feet or more before then, the target takes 1d8 thunder damage, and the spell ends.

This spell's damage increases when you reach certain levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 thunder damage to the target on a hit, and the damage the target takes for moving increases to 2d8. Both damage rolls increase by 1d8 at 11th level (2d8 and 3d8) and again at 17th level (3d8 and 4d8).

Classes: Artificer, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Subclasses: Arcana Cleric, Arcane Trickster Rogue, Eldritch Knight Fighter
Optional/Variant Classes: Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Races: Elf (High)
Source: TCE, page 106. Also found in SCAG, page 142.

Green-Flame Blade
TCE
p107
Evocation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (5-foot radius)
Components: S, M (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp)
Duration: Instantaneous
You brandish the weapon used in the spell's casting and make a melee attack with it against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, the target suffers the weapon attack's normal effects, and you can cause green fire to leap from the target to a different creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of it. The second creature takes fire damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier.

This spell's damage increases when you reach certain levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 fire damage to the target on a hit, and the fire damage to the second creature increases to 1d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier. Both damage rolls increase by 1d8 at 11th level (2d8 and 2d8) and 17th level (3d8 and 3d8).

Classes: Artificer, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Subclasses: Arcana Cleric, Arcane Trickster Rogue, Eldritch Knight Fighter
Optional/Variant Classes: Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Races: Elf (High)
Source: TCE, page 107. Also found in SCAG, page 143.

Shadow Blade
XGE
p164
2nd-level illusion
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
You weave together threads of shadow to create a sword of solidified gloom in your hand. This magic sword lasts until the spell ends. It counts as a simple melee weapon with which you are proficient. It deals 2d8 psychic damage on a hit and has the finesse, light, and thrown properties (range 20/60). In addition, when you use the sword to attack a target that is in dim light or darkness, you make the attack roll with advantage.

If you drop the weapon or throw it, it dissipates at the end of the turn. Thereafter, while the spell persists, you can use a bonus action to cause the sword to reappear in your hand.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a 3rd- or 4th-level spell slot, the damage increases to 3d8. When you cast it using a 5th- or 6th-level spell slot, the damage increases to 4d8. When you cast it using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the damage increases to 5d8.
Classes: Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Subclasses: Arcane Trickster Rogue, Eldritch Knight Fighter
Source: XGE, page 164

Oh Great Dungeon Master, what way will you judge how these spells and cantrips interact?

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  Warmind- Psionic Fighter Subclass
Posted by: frenzied67 - 06-30-2021, 08:24 PM - Forum: Erath Miscellany - No Replies

6/30/2021





The Warmind
A fighter Subclass for Dungeons & Dragons 5E.





The Reason*
Even back in 3.5 edition I wondered why the Soulknife was a rogue class.  Here was a class that manifested weapons with their mind, and weapons are the bread and butter of the fighting classes.  In 5E they granted the fighter a subclass called the Psi Warrior, which is a dumbed down jedi knight.  It was an interesting subclass, but it gets boring fast.  5E also gave us a new Soulknife which is one of the more interesting Rogue subclasses, but I have always wondered: what if we swapped 5E’s Soulknife abilities with the Psi Warrior to have a fighter with ectoplasmic weapons and a rogue with telekenisis.  The Warmind is the expression of the fighter’s half of this swap.

The Warmind*
Put aside your weapons, they just hold you back from expanding your mind.  Now is the time to tap into that inner power you always suspected was in you, reach in and pull if forth; let your mind supply the tools of your trade, warrior.  Now fight as you have always dreamed you could, become the weapon shifting nightmare of those who come against you!

As a Warmind, you might have taught yourself the knack of manifesting weapon shaped energies from your imagination, or you might have been taught by a Soulknife; it could be another psionic creature that helped you reach within.  However you arrived at this juncture, you are now a creature above the norm.  Not many beings can create and shape a weapon and wield it in combat.  A DC for any Warmind Power will be 8 + Wisdom Modifier + Proficiency Bonus.  This classes resources are specifically expensive to use because those powers may be more potent than many other classes.  Do not be surprised to see the Warmind requesting many short rests between encounters.

Ectoplasmic Manifestation
3rd level Warmind Power (Ectoplasmic weapon damage= 2d4)

Ectoplasmic Weapon-  As a free action, the Warmind is able to generate a weapon of mental energy at will.  This weapon can resemble any weapon the Warmind is proficient with, and it will deliver that weapons type of damage; i.e. a manifested spear will do piercing damage, while an ectoplasmic warhammer will do bludgeoning damage.  The Warmind can change the shape and type of weapon as a free action at the beginning of their turn, as long as it is a weapon the character is proficient with.  The player can even manifest range and thrown weapons, if they so wish; though their ectoplasmic weapon or ammunition reappears in hand almost instantly after it hits or misses.  No matter what weapon (or what type of damage) the Ectoplasmic Weapon appears as, it will only do a set amount of damage that scales upwards every time a Martial Archetype Feature is gained.  From 3rd to 6th level your weapon deals 2d4 damage plus the ability modifier the player uses (Dexterity or Strength).  From 7th to 9th level it deals 2d5 + ability modifier, 10th to 14th 2d6 damage + ability modifier, After 15th you do 2d7 damage + ability modifier, then at 18th level you will do 2d8+ ability modifier in damage.

3rd Level Warmind Features.
You harbor a wellspring of psionic energy inside of you.  This Energy is represented by your Psychic Energy Points.  You have a number of points equal to twice your Proficiency Bonus.  Some of your powers will require that little extra mental effort to manifest, and that is where you will spend your Psychic Energy Points.  You regain these expended points after completing short or long rests.  Note that not all of your Warmind powers require the expenditure of points.  (This is meant to resemble the monk’s Ki points, yet the Warmind’s Psychic Energy Points pool will end up being lower than a Monk’s pool.)
These powers below require your Psychic Energy Points.

Warmind Windmill- One point from the Psychic Energy Pool will grant the Warmind dual weapons for one minute.  Since the weapons are made of psychic ectoplasm, the two weapons can manifest as any melee weapon the Warmind chooses.  While wielding these two weapons the Warmind will fight as if they have the Dual Weapon Fighting style offered to fighters at 1st level.  The weapons will only deal the ectoplasmic weapon damage appropriate for their level (as explained above).  You do not get two attacks if you hurl these weapons.  This feature is for melee only and does not require a concentration check.

Ectoplasmic Missile- Another 1 point ability you gain at 3rd level is for archery.  If your Warmind manifests a weapon the has the ammunition feature, you can expend 1 Psychic Energy Point to try to do extra damage with your missile weapon.  Expend your point, roll to hit, and if you hit roll your ectoplasmic weapon damage as normal and roll a second dice of equal size (i.e. if your ectoplasmic weapon deals 2d6 damage, the second damage dice will also be 2d6); this damage will by psychic damage.

Warmind’s Block and Strike
7th level Warmind Features (Ectoplasmic Weapon damage= 2d5)

Ectoplasmic Shield- If the Warmind decides to use the Dodge action on their turn or for the next 3 turns, for 1 Psychic Energy point they can manifest a barrier that absorbs damage from one attack equal to the damage their Ectoplasmic weapon deals (i.e. an Warmind’s ectoplasmic weapon that deals 2d6 damage has a barrier that can absorb 2d6 from one attack that turn).  If the player stops utilizing the dodge action or three rounds have elapsed, the Ectoplasmic shield drops and it will require more Psychic Energy points to manifest again.

Warmind Smite- On a hit from a melee, hurled, or missile Ectoplasmic Weapon, the Warmind can expend 2 Psychic Energy points and deal two dice of damage, one set of those dice deals psychic damage.  Your hit also imposes one of the following conditions upon your target.  Knocked prone, stunned, deafened, or blinded.  These conditions last until the end of your next turn unless the target makes a Wisdom save against your Warmind save DC.  The Ectoplasmic Weapon still delivers the weapon and psychic damage if the target saves. The player chooses before the attack which condition they wish to impose.

Mind Delivered Doom
10th level Warmind powers.  (Ectoplasmic Weapon damage= 2d6)

Psychic Burst- At this level the Warmind can now hurl or fire his or her Ectoplasmic Weapon into a group of enemies up to 30’ away.  If the Warmind expend 3 Psychic Energy Points their Ectoplasmic Weapon will detonate and do Ectoplasmic Weapon damage to each creature in a 10’ radius.  A successful Wisdom save against the Warmind’s save DC cuts the damage in half.

Wormhole of Id- Just like the Soulknife subclass, the Warmind can hurl their Ectoplasmic Weapon up to 60’ from themselves.  If they expend 3 Psychic Energy Points they can teleport from their space to where their weapon landed.  The weapon will bounce off of any space that is occupied until it comes to rest in an unoccupied space, which facilitates the teleportation.  This act is a bonus action for the Warmind.

Bolstered Might
15th Level Warmind Feature.  (Ectoplasmic Weapon Damage= 2d7)

If the Warmind uses the Warmind Smite or the Psychic Burst features of their class, and pay the Psychic Energy Point cost for those features, at 15th level the character can pay an addition one or two Psychic Energy Points to double or triple the psychic damage dice rolled for damage.

Enhanced Ectoplasmic Shield
18th Level Warmind Feature.  (Ectoplasmic Weapon Damage= 2d8)

At 18th level, the Warmind no longer has to use the Dodge action in order to generate their Ectoplasmic Shield feature.  Spending 3 Psychic Energy Points, the Warmind can now sheath themselves in an invisible field that will absorb 2d8 points of damage from each attack for 4 rounds.

Okay group, what do you think?  Do you think this is a viable fighter subclass or is it unbalanced.  If you find the Warmind a little off, please identify what you think is making this character unbalanced. 


   

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  Questions About and From the Farmstead
Posted by: frenzied67 - 04-26-2021, 01:07 AM - Forum: Erath Miscellany - Replies (3)

These are the only questions I can remember from our 20th session, regarding the farmstead that is.
1) Due to the magical concealment spells on the path to the Farm, will we need a guide to get to and from the farmstead?
2) Enkili, who has never cooked in his life, is wondering if the groundkeeper and his entourage concoct meals for their group?  If so, how much to get in on that action?
3) We were told that we were responsible for replenishing what we take from the larder.  Does that mean we have to do the shopping or can we leave money for the caretakers?
4) How many acres are associated with the farmstead?
5) Can we wander about the property at our leisure, or are there property features that are out of bounds?
6) Where are the bodies buried?  I need to know!
7) You said Elvold featured more "services" than the other towns and cities we've crossed since leaving Solare, are there vices to be found for Enkili; he's starting to stress over being sent out into the uncaring ol' world when he thinks he's given Al Madii the best of himself already?
8) *As a well honed fighting machine, how come the physical tricks I learn have a finite number of uses between naps? 
9) *In association with the question above, is this bounded accuracy or gagged and bound accuracy?

*I'm just expressing my opinion of 5E, which is not favorable.  After making over 20 characters of different races and classes, I have come too the conclusion that they have great imaginations and have developed simple but very effective game mechanics.  Where WOTC got it wrong is in how they have hobbled the Player Character.  Although a character is granted a little something every level, with each class coming into their peak effectiveness at differing level advancement periods, most of the abilities granted range from lame, to situational niche, to not potent enough, to too late in the campaign to make a difference.  Too bad 3.5 was too cumbersome for VTT's.

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  Enkili Level 4
Posted by: frenzied67 - 03-29-2021, 03:15 PM - Forum: Level-Up Information - No Replies

Character/ Class Archetype:  Enkili / Battle Master
4th Level-  Hit Dice/ Hit Die Type-  4 / 1d10+2
Proficiency Bonus=  +2
Features:  Ability Score Increase- Strength +2 = 19 ((+4) +1 to all strength based abilities, attributes, saves, to hit, maneuver DC’s, damage, and skills).
Character’s weight should increase 20# due to muscle growth and density.

Dandan Va Panje (tooth and claw)
   

If Enkili spends 20PP to buy Splint mail, he can grant Hubert his old Splint mail.

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  Brother of the Sword Chapter 9
Posted by: frenzied67 - 03-11-2021, 12:57 PM - Forum: Off-Topic - No Replies

2/4/2021




Chapter 9
Esper Dragstar
The Road North, 1533 Imperial Calendar




Brother of the Sword poked his head out over the swinging half doors of the inn/tavern.  All of Mudpie had come out to watch the removal of the cat creature’s remains, for such a small village they still made a big semicircle around the enhanced bones of the monstrous creation.  Brother grimaced at the number of potential witnesses he would have trying to leave, and he paused to think it over for a moment.  Cursing under his breath, the sarcophagus born man hitched the back pack up on his shoulders and forced himself to walk through the doors.  Instead of taking the steps down to the pock marked street, he walked across the boardwalk deck in front of the building to hop over the south facing railing; his feet crunched through broken glass as he passed the busted window.  As he had yesterday he tracked the dirt path with his gaze, and he again pondered just meandering down the road; forgetting his promise to avenge the slain three.  Just the memory of the luster missing in Star Iris’s dead eyes firmed Brother’s resolve to end the menace to Mudpie.

The owner of the horse team, who was chaining up the chrome and bone cat caricature, was the first person to notice Brother of the Sword.  Pausing in his work to look Brother’s way was enough to reveal him to the crowd as everyone felt the need to see what the horse driver was looking at.  Immediately questions to Brother began to be shouted, and like a cloud of locusts, the entire town surged Brother’s way.  He walked faster, but the most able in the human mass broke into a run.  As a whole, the people of Mudpie did not get the hint, by not turning around, by ignoring their calls, Brother was advertising the fact that he did not want to field their questions.  Yet, by one of those odd audio idiosyncrasies, a woman’s voice sounded in a momentary lull in the shouting.

“Thank you!  Thank you, stranger!  You saved our town!”

Even though she did not sound like Star Iris, he saw her earnest face in his mind, begging him to help.  Drawing up short surprised the mass of people at his back, they stopped hounding him with calls and questions; the silence was as a balm in a way.  Some of them even stepped back when he reversed his facing, slower people were still gathering at the back of the human half circle arching around Brother.  Kids who were not fully cognizant of the threat facing Mudpie lost their grins at the stiff immobility of Brother of the Sword’s mien.

“I haven’t saved anyone!  That wizard is still out there and he’s likely to kill me!  So leave me the hell alone!”

Only after the words had left his mouth and left their mark of increased confusion and dawning fear on the people did Brother realize his poor choice in words.  They all had been putting their unfounded hopes in him, and here he was yelling at them and planting doubts.  Had Star Iris been wrong about Brother?  Was he really the monster he feared he was?  They were like children, they just wanted to know if it was safe to lay their heads down and sleep this night.

Feeling remorse did not negate Brother of the Sword’s indignation at having to be the one they were pinning their hopes on.  Then again he had made promises some of these people had heard.  Grimacing a little he held up his hands to quiet the small murmurs that had began after he had admonished them.  How can I give them hope when I have so many doubts?  “Give me four days, Mudpie!  If I return in that time then that means we have won!  If I have not shown by the fourth night then you will know I have fallen!  In the meantime you should discuss your contingency plans!  I know you’ll figure something out, if you’re smart enough to move yourselves to Mudpie, you’re smart enough to make the right decisions for your colony!”  Brother did not know what part of this message touched the people, but it was astounding to hear the positive tones in their mutters, see their straight backs as they looked at their friends and neighbors, and the number of nods they exchanged showing a resolution they had lacked moments before.

He gave the town a nod before turning back around to resume his trudge.  Brother made a single step when one voice made him freeze.

“The gods love you, sir, for you try where others freeze!”  Brother of the Sword felt a lump form in his throat at that sentiment, and visions of the dead three almost made the tears form and fall.  Self doubt reared though and stole away with the good will the people were sending his way.  After all, Brother was a simulacrum.  Would these people invest themselves in him if they knew he wasn’t real, as artificial as Esper’s cat like creation?

“Oh, Brother fell, shake this funk, shake this spell.  Would this wizard Esper volunteer it’s beast to end danger and make it deceased?  For others you take pure action, in that find some satisfaction.  Heroes are separated from monsters by choosing the path that helps others.”  Buoyed by his steel sibling’s encouraging words, or at least salved for a while because of them, Brother of the Sword raised his fist over his head for the people behind to see.

He set off as they cheered, their rapturous sound was a fanfare that for a time, firmed Brother’s resolve.  After crossing over the gravel road and entering the tall grasses that would dog his steps all the way to the hills a half mile away, Brother of the Sword felt his bitterness swell again.

“You say a hero helps other people, Brother Sword, but how much of what I have to do now was instigated by you.”  The sword did not answer Brother, but he was fed a shrinking away through the ether.  For some reason, feeling that withdrawal was better than an apology made with words.  After a while, as the hills slopes began to make him work a little, Brother began to feel a little bad for having browbeat Brother Sword into feeling crappy; after it had gone out of it’s way to make him feel less despicable.

As Brother of the Sword reached bushes acting as the forest’s heralds, he paused to pull out the treasure map Mister Dilane had given him; the map the leaders of Mudpie had made to find Esper Dragstar’s supposed treasure horde.  At first Brother wondered if he had set his course for the right hill, then his eyes spotted what looked like a deer trail fifty yards to his right.  According to the map he was to follow this path as it arched to a more south westerly direction before he would find a marker made by intelligent hands.  The map lacked the details on what that marker would look like.  He aimed his steps for the trail, but before ducking into the woods he turned back to look down upon Mudpie.  As distant as it was, the village looked extremely small and very vulnerable.

“Ready to be a hero...?  I ain’t,” he said aloud, but he also sent that to Brother Sword.

At first, the new growth trying to claim the trail made Brother of the Sword’s going rough, but deeper in the trees shade kept the bushes tamed.

“A tool of heroes am I, the fool you must ply.  With you I seek restitution, never again to fight is my resolution,”  Brother Sword suddenly confessed, it’s mental state rife with misery.  Again his fears warred with the concern Brother had for his sibling.  It was agonizing and apologizing, yet he still ached with anger… and a lot of fear.

“Think of it like this, After the wizard kills me he may line my bones with metal contraptions, then he may have my animated corpse wield you as his new war machine.”

For several moments he felt Brother Sword’s shock, then after a while there was a sensation of resolve.

“That thing that passes for your humor, is as hilarious as a flesh eating tumor, brother fell,” it said as it realized how Brother of the Sword was trying to cope with his emotional state.  For about a minute, Brother thought that the sword had withdrawn it’s attention.  A part of himself was grateful to learn that the blade was still fully engaged.  “These doubts that you harbor, I know why they belabor, brother fell.  All our other fights came with no forsights; our enemies came and attacked, choosing moments where odds were stacked.  Now it is that we have chosen to act, for the first time we hunt because of honors pact.  This is a first for you and I, and time is given to how we die.  Think of this naught, useless to be distraught, see our world and the advantage it grants our onslaught.”

Brother Sword was right.  Never before had they sought out a fight, battle had always come to them.  This attempt to fulfill his promise to the people of Mudpie had been granting him too much time to think about the upcoming encounter.  Unconsciously Brother of the Sword had been worrying all the ‘what if’ scenarios of all the things that could go wrong, which, he knew, would ensure something would unravel when the fight happened.  True, neither of them knew what they were about to face, yet he had abilities and resources he could draw upon; the most potent being his sibling.  Brother Sword’s blue bolt seemed to be able to disable a magician’s ability to cast spells, which was a game changing tool.  As Brother’s brain began to warm to this more positive tack, Brother Sword sent warm approval.

Would this Esper Dragstar have more bone and steel monsters waiting?  Brother of the Sword almost fell into the doubt trap again by asking such questions of himself.  Again his sibling would be the buffer he needed to beat Esper’s constructs, Brother Sword’s touch had already proven to introduce a momentary cessation in the false creatures actions.  In the hours of his hesitations and doubts he had been mostly oblivious to the world around him.  When his awareness opened back up, Brother realized that he was about to step onto a leaf strewn cobbled street.  He had found his sign that Esper’s tomb was near.  Thus it was that when the birdsong died away, then the trees began to seem stunted, he paid attention and slowed down.  His steps became those of a stalker, easing his toes down to minimize noise while he crouched to lower his profile.  Brother was near now, he could feel it….

Following the path around the slope of a hill, Brother of the Sword glanced up and noticed what looked like the aftermath of a recent landslide halfway up the slope.  Feeling his heart beat jolt into a faster rhythm, Brother leaned so he could take in more of the tumbled earth and rocks.  Framing the blacked out opening into the hillside, shaped stones ringed an opening.  Two slab like pillars canted slightly inward at their tops upholding a third shaped stone that rested horizontally across their tops, the double ‘T’ like shape looked like one of those mathematical symbols sorcerer’s liked to borrow for magical formulations.  This was it, this was Esper Dragstar’s tomb; the chamber Mister Dilane, Cyrus, Sheriff Dade Cartin, and the lovely Star Iris had sought treasure in.

“The trees were lesser in my olden age, copse of forest in smaller lots seeming staged,” a voice declared up and almost behind Brother.

Not knowing he had jumped in fear, Brother of the Sword whirled then crunched into leaves and slid slightly.  At the same time Brother Sword appeared in his palms that were aimed up the inside of the hill he had just rounded.  Esper Dragstar arched a perfect elven brow, coolly acknowledging the magical appearance of the blade.  Brother had seen a few Star Elves in and around Mudberry by the Water, finding them to be otherworldly and beautifully flawless in their features.  Sitting on a boulder with his knees drawn up to his chest, Esper had that unearthly grace of his people, but there was something more primal about him at the same time.  Silver and chrome armor glittered on his slender body, the raised visor of his helm forming a crown like decoration around that smooth pale brow.  “Thy blade and clothing are cunningly wrought.  Your peoples progress has time exceeded mine idea, mine thought.”

When fear had ridden him as a constant, then as Brother of the Sword had sharpened himself with planning, he had never imagined that this wizard would engage him in conversation.  He had always dreamed they would clash inside the cavern, he lowered Brother Sword to a low ready while peering up the treacherous hill.  Esper’s seat was close to seventy yards away, those twenty yards Brother needed to close in order to put Brother Sword in range would feel like a hundred going up that steep dead leaf littered slope.

“A couple of generations for your people may have passed since you were interred… which is a couple of hundred generations for us- uh- humans.”  What sort of magic would this being rain down on them at this range?  How could they close the distance without being obvious?

Quirking his head to the side, Esper indicated he had noticed Brother of the Sword’s verbal stumbling, the wizard’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.  Damn.

“Hast thou come to my holding home to make mine magic thine own?  Even outside of times treaty thou wilt find that task not easy.”  After making that challenge the elf stretched out his legs then slid down the side of his perch, his armor rattling against the uneven surface of the boulder.  Still not close enough.  Brother shook his head in the negative.  “What of the challenge offered by mind, hast the mage ways been abandoned by all kind?”

All Brother of the Sword could do was shrug, he had no clue concerning these ancient wizard’s dynamics.  Again Esper’s eyes drew to the narrow, his confidence unwavering despite the confusion.

“Oh, brother most fell, drawing him closer we must, if we are to make him future dust.  Admit to my deed, this could plant a seed,” Brother Sword suggested, feeling as focused as Brother of the Sword felt.  If only the slope before him was not as steep as it was, he could have been inching his way closer.  Unfortunately the ground under all the fallen leaves had no cohesion, a step up meant a slide down.

“I’m not a wizard, so I don’t know what you consider etiquette.  My brother, this sword, challenged you.  Your threats to the people in Mudpie made it a little angry.  Those people seem to like the government they already have.”

Most people would have already started to question Brother of the Sword’s sanity, but Esper’s silvery gray orbs shifted down to Brother Sword.  His head ticked to the side like a dog trying to pick out known words from the flowing speech of it’s human.  Then Esper drew his head back as something dawned on him.  Muttering some words under his breath, the elven mage drew a hand over his eyes.  Those orbs glowed when the hand came away.  From his high perch Esper spent the next moments studying both Brother and Brother Sword.  Brother had taken a high guard position until he realized that magic was not about to stream down upon them.  Shaken, the elf stepped back, shock marring features that had never been designed to be other than serene.

As though defeated, Esper’s shoulder’s drooped.  Sorrow, deep felt and wrenching because of the devastation shown, the elven wizard remained drooped as the mystic glow faded from his visual organs.

“Mine quest from faerie was fueled by arts most fell, kingdoms to conquer and be ruled by mine spell.  Kingly brother and human mages conspired to lay mine might low, Devastation I did their ranks but in an eldritch seed they did sew.  This later age has proved mine brother most wise, the arts arcane hath boundaries broken on their rise.  Great contraptions I imagined and crafted most cunning, but nothing envisioned compares to product most stunning,” Esper said making a sweeping gesture from the sword to Brother.  “Once I sought primitives to rule by might and art, I awake to find mine powers out shined at this new start.”

Finding himself blinking at this unexpected turn, Brother of the Sword almost felt overwhelmed.  His enemy was already conceding the contest, declaring that his wizardry was shallow compared to the arts that had crafted him and his steel sibling.

“Well good, we can avoid this fight.  By surrendering you have a chance to learn of the world as it is now, you can see how the races have grown and made themselves better….”  Esper started shaking his head no, denying Brother of the Sword’s words though they made good sense.

“Royal blood have I, mine only recourse is to die.  A prince of faerie an anachronism should never be, becoming naught but a farmer or commoner is not what I see,” Esper said pulling his own longsword free.

Again words that did not form speech flowed from Esper’s lips and his armored form lifted off the forest’s loam.  He soared at a steady pace over the crease separating his hill from his tomb.  Flicking the tip of his blade, which was similar to Brother Sword in length and breadth, and barking a sound that sizzled, the wizard flung a fist sized ball of fire at Brother.  Dashing down then along the hidden cobbled walk, Brother of the Sword let the fiery orb splash and burn the leaves where he had been.  His next move was to zig zag uphill to hide behind a tree and get within Brother Sword’s anti magic beam’s range, stepping off the buried road was like stepping onto a waxed metal sheet.  Earth cascaded from beneath brother’s feet and ten struggling steps barely got him three step lengths up the hill.  Another pair of burning orbs darted his way.

The first spell was easy to step away from, but that put Brother right in the path of the other.  Instinctively he interposed his steel sibling.  A razor like edge drank the magic away.

“That was most interesting, but burning my energy should not be our thing, brother fell,” the sword advised, letting him know that blocking those spells ate away from their ability to fling the magic negating bolt.  Brother of the Sword sought shelter behind a larger tree growing next to the buried cobblestone.

“I thought you were trying to commit suicide?” he called up to the elven mage.  Even though Esper had sounded so dejected before, his laugh was hearty, merry even.

“Out of mine time thou may say, but only the worthy will be deft to slay.  A corpse ye shall be, be ye weak, then a bane for me, this world shall I seek.”  The tree shook under a light impact as a little heat wafted across Brother’s face.

Glancing around his cover, Brother of the Sword was disheartened to see Esper as he landed in front of his lair’s mouth.  The elf was still too far away.  He was also clawing at the empty air as though pulling blankets off a clothes line, the word/sounds Esper called out seemed to be pushing reality into another form.

“Brother most fell, an experiment I would like to make, but first vacate this area for our life’s sake.”  Before Brother Sword finished it’s thought, Brother was already running at an angle up the hill to another tree.  A blue white beam shot from the spell caster’s chest and the trunk of Brother’s former cover detonated from a sharp shock wave that seemed to emanate from inside the tree.  He himself was lifted up then dropped to plow up ten or twelve feet of loam and withered leaves… uphill.  Small slivers of white wood rained down for the next several moments, none of the sections bigger than his pinky.

Growling as he spat out dirt and leaf bits, Brother of the Sword looked up hill in time to see another globe of fire hurling toward him.  Knowing he looked inept, he still rolled behind the tree he had been aiming for.  Esper’s laugh mocked more than the chuckle of a bull elk leading a hunter far from the coveted herd.  “Not long ago energy you gave of yourself, this may be the trick to kill this elf, my brother most fell.  As we broke the giant most fey your gift could win us this day.  Increase my range this day most strange?” Brother Sword queried, prompting his return question.

“Will it work?”  Two more burning orbs splashed up old fallen leaves before Brother received what amounted to a mental shrug from the sword.

Risking another glance uphill, he found Esper angling around to get a shot at Brother.  The elven wizard’s steps seemed unhindered by loose soil.  Grumbling Brother of the Sword shifted his position behind cover then began to pull energy from the soles of his feet up, then through his arms into Brother Sword.  In a matter of seconds it felt as if the adrenaline in his body was replaced by the need for a nap.

“That should be enough, now Esper’s life we must snuff!” the sword crowed with excess zeal.  Aiming Brother Sword like a wand, he stepped out from the tree seeking his shot up at the spell slinger.  Somehow the mage had suspected something, he was sprinting for the monolith lined opening of his lair, he trailed an exhilarated laugh as he dashed as if they were playing a frivolous game.  Esper’s unexpected change from stalking to running caught Brother off guard, he was unable to target the wizard before the elf darted into the hillside cave.

Shaking his head at the idea of stepping out of cover to climb the hill, Brother of the Sword realized how exposed he would be all the way up.  Still, after a few moments of waiting to see if Esper would pop out to launch his fire orbs or some other spell, Brother stepped out and started a wary climb.  Having to set his foot at each step, pushing it down to compact the loam before adding his weight seemed to keep the earth from cascading out from under his progress too much.  He angled up to the next tree, then the next trying to keep Brother Sword leveled at the broken prison’s entrance.  “If we had the time to trance, your energy I’d return to sharpen your glance.  Certain was I in the planning calculate, now suffer you must in weakened state.”  Worry rode the sword’s words, and that concern helped buoy Brother’s spirits.

Pausing to rest behind the next tree, he sent Brother Sword a reply.

“What I regret most, is that we didn’t get to find out if we increased the range of your magic killing bolt.”  This sentiment sparked a rush of emotions from Brother Sword, the blade bled relief so strongly that Brother of the Sword had to pause until the emotional wash passed.

“Brother fell, it balances and buoys my spirit to hear you trust my plan’s merit.  I feared my belligerent harm to those you loved would our relationship break and into a closet be shoved.  Never again, never again!”  Feeling the muscles of his calves grow tense nearly to the point of cramping, Brother stepped out, pressed his foot into the leaves until his limb stopped sinking, placed his weight into the step, skidded downhill four or five inches as the soil crumbled a bit, then repeated the process.  A silvery something the size of a seagull sailed out of the pi symbol cave.

Banking and angling adroitly around trees and branches, a bird made of bone, copper cable, silver wire, and multi hued dark feathers banked around to orient on Brother Sword.  Crystalline eyes blazed with lightening blue light as the construct swooped down with natural claws braced by sorcerous cutting energy.  Swinging Brother Sword was too much for the loam under Brother’s feet, which threw their aim off trying to swat the bird away.  As a real bird would have, the artificial avian swerved away from the blade, its claws scraping against Brother Sword with a sound like steel on steel.  It swooped up in a loop and began to dive again, this time Brother Sword flared with it’s light blue light when the claws contacted it’s edge.  Immediately the sparking light died in the animated birds eyes and the contraption dropped and bounced limply on the slope below.  This proved to be a temporary stop for the bird, the light flickered and firmed in the skull bone of the bird/thing.

Climbing had been a pain for Brother of the Sword, but leaping down hill covered a lot of ground fast.  As Esper’s bird creation got its feet under itself, spreading its wings to take flight, Brother sailed down with his steel sibling held overhead.  As it leaped to gain the air, Brother Sword smashed it forcefully back into the ground, breaking a wing off and making feathers poof out in a drifting cloud.  Those electric bird eyes sputtered for a few moments then went dead to reveal mere quartz crystal where eyes should have been.  He felt his sword’s frustration as it tried to sup upon blood that was not present.  Looking back at the cave, Brother half expected another monstrosity to spill forth but the old tomb remained empty.  “I wonder what other hellish creation Esper will send for our excoriation?” Brother Sword asked.

Avoiding ground he had already churned up, Brother of the Sword angled back up the hill so that the tomb’s opening could be covered by his brother’s magic eating bolt.  Step slide, step slide.  After five minutes of trudging, the silence began to eat at Brother.  Here he was, facing an ancient and wicked wizardly foe, and his enemy was not doing anything that he could see, and that worried the hell out of Brother.  Near the cave mouth, the soil developed a cohesion that made his steps firm, which felt like a burden had been lifted from him, still he had to rest behind the last tree until his legs stopped trembling from the toil and fear.  There was no sound issuing from the gaping black aperture, no indication that anything at all was going on inside.  Brother could not shake the image of Esper just inside the cave mouth waiting to pop a spell off.

Nearby, a fallen tree branch about the same dimensions as Brother of the Sword’s torso lay where it had fallen.  All the desiccated limbs were denuded of even withered leaves it had sat for so long, newer leaf drift gave the broken limb the appearance of a partially buried rib cage.  Picking this piece of detritus up, Brother carefully sidled up to the tomb’s entrance.  Still, there was no noise from inside.  Hoping the wizard was as keyed up as he was, Brother tossed the branch across the opening.  At the same moment he stepped back and raised Brother Sword to a high ready position.  Nothing.  Not even the rustle of clothing from someone waiting with a hunters patience.  He shed his back pack and set it behind himself.

I hope I’m fast enough to not become a cooked meal, he told himself after deciding he should be the bait of his next ruse.  Still, bringing himself back to the entrance, Brother of the Sword feared to reveal himself to this foe, even for a heartbeat or two.  Brother dashed across the entrance to take cover behind the gray slab of carved stone that served as the cavern’s frame, thrusting his reluctance back for a moment.  No flaming sphere shot out, no discharge of magical lightening greeted Brother, not even a gasp or whisper of cloth issued from the aperture.  Brother did not want to risk himself again, he did not want to enter that dark aperture, though he was now certain Esper was not in the tunnel however long that was.  Fearing the worst, he poked his head around the corner, waiting for death to strike.

Brother pulled back immediately and waited for the fireworks.  Once again Brother of the Sword had nothing untoward happened.  Yet one more time he peered around the corner then withdrew… then again.  Still no dramatic arcane energies came out of the dark.  Slick with fear sweat and exertion, and his heart beating under both influences, Brother eased into the tunnel hugging the northern most wall.  After he made five steps he realized that his right shoulder was pressed into the stone... that was his weapon arm.  Without a second thought he darted over to the left side of the passage so he would not be vulnerable, only after he made the dash did he realize that he had silhouetted himself against the bright opening at his back.  When they were well and truly engulfed in the stygian dark Brother of the Sword realized that his siblings innate glow was giving them away more than his dashing back and forth had.

Before he could curse under his breath orange light flared inside the former burial chamber, illuminating the cave and the bit of tunnel Brother was in.  Chrome reflected off of a titanic set of snake bones that reared up with a sarcophagus in its metal and bone coils, saber toothed fangs gaped wide as a diamond shaped head oriented on Brother of the Sword.  Larger than mastiffs, two dog corpses, lined with steel and wire, paced out before the great snake; their eyes glared an electric red when they posed near the entrance.  Beyond all the animate beasts, Esper Dragstar raised his arms high, his exquisite elven face transported by some malign exultation.

“Mayhap mine despair was ill timed, past magic more than cast off rind.  Well cast modern spell thou be, through contest past and present will see.  Mine passion reign supreme this contest achieve, thine worthiness I shall not believe,” the wizard said far back in his chamber, tilting his head to glare malevolently at Brother.

Both dog things broke into a very dog like sprint, the snake bones rippled after, it’s coils unraveling in it’s wake.  Brother of the Sword felt his brother’s mental smirk as he raised the tip to point Esper’s way.  Certainty seemed to waft off of the elven wizard until a second before the bolt flew off of Brother Sword, in that fraction of a second he realized that Brother’s pose was not false bravado at all.  Faster than a human, even faster than most of his modern kin, the elven prince tried to have his inventions intervene.  The dogs leaped too late, and if the snake had been of flesh then it would have transposed it’s bulk, but the light blue bolt sailed between walking ribs and struck true.  Both the canine corpses dropped and lay still, looking like someone had tried to make toys from their cadavers.  In mid contortion the snake died, falling limply with its tail almost touching the stone coffin; it’s head was fifty feet from that tail tip. 

Staggering back even as his toys died, Esper looked poleaxed.  Stepping over and around the constructs, Brother of the Sword entered the burial chamber and found that most of the north and southern wall were crammed with wizardly lab equipment.  “How didst thou do this thing, filched mine magic with bluish eldritch sting?”  Esper asked, skirting to the north to keep the sarcophagus between them.  Brother shifted his direction, vaulting onto the open faced corpse container to cut the lost wizard off.  Looking like a harried beast, Esper staggered away until his armored back struck an overly loaded table.  He drew his sword when Brother step dropped off the edge of his sarcophagus.

“It is what we do.  My brother and I hunt wizards, and we drain them and their minions to fuel our next hunt.  I don’t know how exactly, and at this juncture… I just don’t care.”

Esper chose a high point forward guard, his left hand out ready to add strength to a swing or grab Brothers hands or limbs.  Brother held his sibling low, with the tip pointed back and both hands on the hilt.  Stricken but exotic elven eyes sought his gaze a moment before steel rang out in mortal contest, those ancient eyes seemed to accuse Brother of robbing the world of Esper’s ancient splendor.  Brother of the Sword beat the elf’s down stroke aside with vigor, but Esper only faked stepping into his blow.  He was flowing back out of blade range with Brother’s parry, then like a mongoose he darted back in with a belly opening thrust in the midst of a riposte from Brother that would not have hit.  Brother had to drop his weight and batter Esper’s sword with Brother Sword’s pommel.  Just out of reach, the elf circled around nodding at the skill it had taken to block his last attack.

When they closed again it was not a tentative probing; this time they actually clashed for several moments where Esper probed the weak edge of Brother’s blade, sliding his sword toward Brother Sword’s tip and pressing with his strong edge inches from the quillions of his elven longsword.  Brother nipped that experimentation in the bud when he flowed away from Esper’s strong edge and bashed Brother Sword’s pommel into the side of the elf’s helmet; he almost hooked the former prince behind the neck with his hilt guard a beat after that rattling impact.  This time they both backed off, Brother seeing his own wariness reflected in Esper Dragstar’s eyes.  When they flew at each other again, Esper tried a bind where he shifted his feet and stripped Brother Sword out of Brother’s hands.  The elf threw the living sword away then swung for Brother’s neck.

Esper’s beautiful elven eyes flew wide when his killing stroke was blocked by Brother sword after it magically reappeared in Brother’s eager hands.  Then the ancient elven prince had to fall back, parrying and dodging a rain of edged steel in a semi circle around the stone coffin.  Brother had to let his attack relent when he realized that Esper was good enough to create his own luck in surviving those strokes.  As a matter of fact, it seemed like they were evenly matched.  Also, Brother of the Sword knew his energy was giving out fast.  It would not take the elven outcast long to realize that his foe’s strength was fading fast.  Instinctively he knew that a sacrifice would have to be made in order to end this fight sooner rather than when it was too late for Brother.  Yet, when their blades crossed again and Brother made the defense of his left arm look slow, Esper broke away rather than exploit the seeming weakness.

Silvery gray eyes squinted in suspicion as they again circled each other, Brother of the Sword attempted a feint in order to reverse the direction of their stalking.  He did not want the ancient elf to be able to think and reason at this time, that would make it harder to trick the mage.  Even as Brother lunged forward to engage his opponent he realized that his move was slower than he wanted.  In two beats, a slash and thrust, Esper turned his assault on its head; Brother stopped being the aggressor and was forced into a defensive posture.  As if he had known that Brother of the Sword would tire, Esper drove in with a vengeance making a continuous assault meant to drain Brother further.  Being forced to fall back from a slender opponent did not feel right to Brother, which was leading him to desperation.  He tried to lean in on a strong blade to strong blade bind to use his weight to tire the elf, but Esper vanished, leaping back and then gliding back in with a heart thrust that he could not block with Brother Sword.

Brother of the Sword was able to avoid death, but not injury.  Swaying and dipping down, Esper’s blade slid through Brother’s chest and lungs, scraping on the inside of the simulacrum’s scapula.  Seeing Brother’s pain bulged eyes made the elven prince grin victoriously, but when he tried to withdraw his point to poke Brother again, Brother grabbed and held Esper’s metal shod wrist keeping the blade locked in the wound.  Feeling the steel moving around in his chest cavity made Brother scream, yet somehow he held on to the wizard and swung Brother Sword with violent strength.  His first blow crumpled shiny steel into the wizardly nobles clavicle.  As Esper screamed in both horror and pain, Brother drove his sibling’s pommel into the chrome helmet, crumpling it in, once, twice, three times.  As the elf’s scream ceased Brother was forced to howl in pain again, Esper, even in death did not relinquish the hilt of his blade as he fell.  The sword ripped out of Brother’s body at a different angle than it went in, making his internal injury many times worse.
They fell as one.


“Brother!  Brother!  Wake up!  They have me!  Wake up! Wake up!  You must see!”  Brother Sword’s ethereal voice called incessantly down a tunnel of welcoming black.  Brother of the Sword tried to shut the insistent call out.  He had blacked out to avoid the world of pain-  Frigid water doused his entire body, the cold yanking Brother into unwelcome awareness.  Naturally he spasmed when the water hit, and his chest and shoulder burst into fiery pain; his outcry echoed through the burial chamber, silencing a murmuring that had not registered until now.  A figure above Brother touched the tip of another longsword to Brother’s neck.  Ancient sadness filled the exotic eyes of another Star Elf whose silvery crown glowed and glittered like a starry night upon a smooth brow and winter white hair.

Two elven women wept over Espers corps, rocking back and forth so that their pale, face curtaining hair swept the dead elf’s features.  Swallowing hard, the royal elf holding Brother at sword point spoke, his unearthly beauty enhanced by the sorrow wracking his heart. 

“How did he die?”  Brother of the Sword let his head roll over to see Esper.  The wounds were obvious which meant that this Star Elf royal wanted a different tale.  Pain made his muscles seize for a fraction of a second, but after his teeth unclenched, Brother found himself answering.

“Long ago Esper the wizard tried to forge himself a kingdom among the humans, dwarves, and other non elven races.  He was buried alive by a coalition headed by his brother the Star Elf king.  Half a year ago, treasure hunters from a new settlement half a day away thought they could loot this tomb for its riches.  They awoke your kinsman instead.  Esper tried to renew his dreams of conquest starting with this new village, he made constructs of steel, magic, and bone to instill terror.  I came to avenge those whom he killed in the name of his own vanity.”  Brother did not like hearing the bbubbling rasp of his own voice, and the act of speaking made it feel like steel was still inside his chest.

The royal’s fine features remained locked in sorrow, yet he removed the threat of his sword from Brother’s neck.  A nod from the elf conveyed that the information Brother had shared was acceptable.

“What are you?”  This was an infinitely more problematic query, and Brother knew that this being above him would require as truthful of an answer as had been supplied about the wizard.

“I wasn’t gifted any memories before I woke up in a cave a few weeks ago.  I have been told that I am a simulacrum, whatever that means.  What I do know is that my sword was born with me as my brother, and together we are meant to stop wizards from their crazier ambitions.”

Curiosity replaced the Elf’s lovely grief for a few moments, as the royal being studied Brother laying in a puddle at his feet.  Slowly, the Star elf prince or king nodded as he digested the information given.  Loss returned to those silvery eyes as he caught and held Brother of the Sword’s gaze.

“I was a mere child when Uncle Esper and my father quarreled three thousand years back.  My father’s brother demanded a kingdom for himself, so shortly after my grandfather had been killed defending fairy.  At first, his designs rested on fairy itself, which all felt was mad at the time.  In talking Uncle Esper out of conquering the fey lands, my uncle thought that he had been granted the right to direct his attention to the rest of Taleth-Ne-Taren, the world we share.”  The elf king said before shaking his head sadly.  “His rampages shocked all people, especially we Star Elves who had just concluded a war with invading creatures from dark spaces outside our world.  Our country was being blamed for my uncle’s predations, so my father had to show the peoples of this world that we were sympathetic to their plight.  Weak from prior war, we still had to provide the bulk of the forces that hunted Esper down and buried him here.

“Still thousands died… thousands that we could ill afford to lose.  I do not know how my uncle survived the passage of millennia trapped in here.  He was meant to perish, this I gleaned after my father left this world.  You have done what I could not myself do… slay royal elven blood, yet you have done the world a service doing so.  By one statute of the law, you must be killed, by another you must be lauded.  I am at a loss as to your fate.”

Back in the dimmer recess of the cave, Brother could feel Brother Sword encouraging him to summon it through the Ether.  He knew he could not defend himself even with his sibling in hand.  His injuries were too severe.

“I think your uncle killed me already, his fierceness undimmed by time.  I don’t think you will have to make a decree regarding my fate,” he told the royal, gulping against the breath he was forced to use speaking.  As though dismissing Brother, the Elf turned about and began walking away.  He did make a gesture just before he reached Esper’s table laden with thaumaturgic nick nacks.  A slender figure in pale robes trotted over to Brother and knelt down.  Pale, exotic, and totally unearthly in beauty, the elven girl looked at him then down at his chest wound.

Though her eyes wore the same sadness as her king, she was so lovely that Brother of the Sword realized that he wanted to live.  He wanted to say words that would make this girl smile, he wanted her to know how he desired her.

“Eskinuil naeth panduere,” she said, pulling a delicate looking little silver bowl from a pocket.

“What?  I don’t know what you’re saying,” he said, trying to sit up against the pain flaring from both talking and moving.  The elf girl put a finger to his lips and pressed his head back, her bowl hand pressed his right shoulder in the universal indication that she wanted Brother to lay down and shut up.

“Nanae dee sayumsaye.”  After he complied she held the bowl up.  Brother could see elven script around the bowl’s rim and she seemed to be speaking to the silver container.  Her indecipherable words continued to spill forth like a rill springing from a mountainside.  He did not know where the little vial came from, but the little container was suddenly in her hand.

Unstopping the glass container, she spilled a liquid that looked like pearlescent moonlight into the silver bowl.  This she stirred with a wooden wand that also was just suddenly there, much like Brother Sword popping into his hands.  “This Enviliyae is the kings own, brought in case he suffered an accident outside our homeland.  It is not enough to heal you completely, but it should see that you survive this wound and recover unburdened by future complications.”  Her words in his language was almost a shock, but the cool of the glowing liquid dripping onto his wound made him tense from toe to crown.  It froze and burned at the same time, and Brother was unable to tell if it was soothing his pain or making his entire body throb.  His head began to swim as she dipped more out with her pointy wand.  His groan seemed to emanate from outside of himself, as his consciousness loosened til he felt in a fever dream.

In a moment of lucidity, as more ice and fire dribbled into his lung tissue, he saw the elf king’s face over him again.

“Never brag that you defeated one of my family, never speak of our meeting or your fate and fortune will shift towards the bleak.”  Brother of the Sword wanted to assure this elder being that he would comply, he wanted to let the girl know that his heart belonged too… too….  Damn she was hot.  Darkness pulled him away from important things, but more important still, Brother was escaping a world of pain.


*A note to those who have never fought with a sword.  When I reference strong edges and weak edges on a sword I was using sword fighting terminology.  If you think of your sword in terms of a fulcrum you will find that near where you hold the sword, the hilt, if one pushes on the blade near the hilt one can hold the sword from being pressed this way or that.  A strong edge.  Passed the halfway point of the sword though, pushing against the sword does pressure the wrist to bend.  This weak edge forces the fighter to “flow like water” in order to exert their will on the contest.  I hope my explanation helps even if but a little.

   

   

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  Warforged Artillerist CS (UA Warforged)
Posted by: frenzied67 - 02-16-2021, 11:03 PM - Forum: Off-Topic - No Replies

Character's Name:  Sawbone
Class and Level:  Artificer (artillerist) 1
Background: Soldier
Player's Name: RLS
Race: Warforged, Envoy (original UA)
Alignment: Lawful Nuetral
Experience Points: 

Strength: 10 modifier:  0
Dexterity: 14 modifier:  +2.  +1race
Constitution: 16 modifier: +3.  +1race
Intelligence: 16 modifier: +3.  +1race
Wisdom: 10 modifier: 0
Charisma:modifier: -1

Saving Throws: Str- 0 |Dex- +2 |*Con- 2+3=+5 |*Int- 2+3=+5 |Wis- 0 |Cha- -1
Inspiration: 
Armor Class: 13 AC Chain Shirt +2 Dex.Mod. +2 Shield +1 racial= 18 AC
Initiative: +2
Speed: 30

Hit Dice: 1d8+3   
Hit Points:  11
Temporary Hit Points: 
Death Saves- Successes __ __ __/failures __ __ __ 

Personality Traits: 1) War has stolen friends of both flesh and steel from me, why should I give you time when you might die tomorrow?  2) I can create a device to deal with any of life’s situations, just give me a few moments.
Ideals: You do you, I do me; no need to fight about it.
Bonds: Any being who fights at my side deserves my eventual respect, and maybe a gadget that’ll help me test them.
Flaws: Distracted easily, sometimes it lives in it's head when it is supposed to be keeping an eye out.  It's quirk of muttering to itself and working mentally on projects is a sign that Sawbone needs to be returned to the here and now.

Acrobatics: (dex)  +2 
Animal Handling (wis) 0
Arcana (int)  2+3=+5 
Athletics (str) 2+0=+2 
Deception (cha)  -1 
History (int)  +3
Insight (wis)  0       
Intimidation (cha) 2-1=+1 
Investigation (int) 2+3=+5   
Medicine (wis)
Nature (int)  +3       
Perception (wis)  2+0=+2 
Performance (cha)  -1 
Persuasion (cha) -1 
Religion (int)  +3     
Sleight of Hand (dex)  +2 
Stealth (dex)  +2     
Survival (wis)  0 
Passive Perception:  13 

Proficiencies and Languages: +2 Proficiency Bonus.  (race) read, write, and speak Common.
Specialized Design- gain 1 skill Proficiency (Investigation (int)), 1 tool set Proficiency (Woodcarver's tools), and 1 language (Sedaran).  Integrated Tool= I have woodcarver’s tools integrated into my body, I double my proficiency bonus for any ability checks I use with these tools.
(class) Proficient with light armor, medium armor, and shield.  Proficient with simple weapons.  Proficient with thieves tools, tinker’s tools, and armorer’s tools.  Saving Throw Proficiencies= Constitution and Intelligence.  2Skills= Arcana, Perception.  (background) Skills- Athletics, and Intimidation.  Tool Proficiency Healer’s kit ???(instead of game set proficiency) Proficiency with land vehicle (wagon). 

Attacks and Spell casting: 
Weapon-  Attack bonus- Damage, damage type.

Spear- +2- 1d6, Piercing; versatile(1d8), Natatorial, Thrown (20/60)

Copper Pieces: 9
Silver Pieces: 3
Electrum Pieces:
Gold Pieces: 1
Platinum Pieces:
Gems and Jewels:

Equipment:
Item-  Price-  Weight-  Properties-  ||  Item- Price-  Weight-  Properties-

Arcanist Pack- 35gp- 8#- backpack 5#, 5candles 0#, tinderbox 1#, ^scroll case w/arcane diagrams 1#, ^wand 1#, ^and arcana lore book 5#.- |
Shield- 10gp- 6#- +2AC ||
Spear- 1gp- 3#- || Thieves’ Tools- 25gp- 1#- ||
Chain Shirt- 50gp- 20#- ||  ^Smith’s Tools- 20gp- 8#- ||
Smock/Apron- 1gp- 4#- || Chalk- 1cp- _ - ||
Candle Lantern- 2gp- 1#- || 50’ string- 1sp- 1#- ||
Mule- 8gp- self propelled cargo hauler (Items with ^ symbol are on mule- || ^Bit and Bridle- 2gp- 0.5#- ||
^Saddle Bags- 4gp- 8#- || Bottle of Ink- 10gp- - - ||
Parchment x5- 5sp- - - ||

Total cost_150gp__.  Total Weight Carried_42#_.  Carrying Capacity_150#_.  Push/drag_300#_.

Features and Traits: (race) ASI +1constitution.  Warforged Resilience- I have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned, and I have resistance to poison damage* I am immune to disease* I do not need to eat, drink, or breath* I don’t need to sleep and don’t suffer the effects of exhaustion due to lack of rest, and magic can’t put me to sleep.
Sentry’s Rest- When I take a long rest, I must spend at least six hours in an inactive motionless state, rather than sleeping.  In this state, I appear inert, but I am not rendered unconscious, and I can see and hear as normal.
Integrated Protection- (House Rule) Integrated Armor follows Ebberon Rising From the Ashes rules for integrated armor instead of UA rules (all other racial features follow UA guidelines)  +1 to AC.  Armor takes an hour to integrate and I have to be proficient with that armor, doffing that armor also takes an hour.
Subrace= Envoy- ASI= two ability scores of my choice each increase by +1 (Int and Dex)
(Class) HD= 1d8 + con.mod.  Magical Tinkering- (pg 12 TCE) make small items that can((1) snow globe) shed 5’+5’ light*((2) velvet ring box) emits a 6 second long recorded message that can be heard 10’ away* continuously emits a sound*((3) a small hand mirror that has Cora's face) a static visual effect; can indefinitely imbue a number of items equal to my intelligence modifier (3).  Spell casting- Tools Required= Use woodcarver’s tools as spell focus. Cantrips= 2 cantrips from artificer spell list.  Prep and casting of spells= can memorize a number of spells equal to Int. mod. (+3) plus ½ of my artificer level (minimum of 1, round down) (1) (3+1=4 spells.)  Can renew or change spell list after a long rest.  Spell Casting Ability= Intelligence is artificer spell ability.  Spells save DC= 8+ Proficiency bonus (+2) +Int.mod. (+3) 8+2+3=13.  Spell Attack Modifier= Proficiency bonus (+2) + Int.mod. (+3) 2+3=+5 to hit.  Ritual Casting= If I have a spell with the ritual tag memorized, I can cast that as a ritual spell without expending a spell slot (additional 10 minute casting time).
Warforged Quirk= Always muttering to itself and taking notes, seems confused or unhinged while talking about “her”.
(background)- Soldier- specialty = Healer/support staff (Sawbone was designated a special combat medic when they were not sure how to heal Warforged troops.).  Feature is Military rank- Master Sergeant! 

Description: A shallow brow ridge makes it look especially artificial, the glowing blue eyes look large and alien.  Sawbone has a slender build for a Warforged, but is not skinny.  It’s mass is brick red in tone, but the joints and highlights, even the sigils and magic symbols it sports, are bronze in color; somehow Sawbone’s color coordination looks off, the red and bronze clash.  Long creepy fingers seem to always be in motion, with spidery movements.  It may clean itself before resting, but within a few minutes of rising, it is tinkering and getting greasy and dirty.
Age: 5.5 (this model was an early design constructed while the siege was ongoing)
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 280#
Eye Color: Electric Blue
Skin: Red with bronze highlights.
Hair color: No hair
Looks: Sawbone’s oval face lacks so much definition that it seems alien to most living creatures.  It’s eyes dim or brighten to express emotions, but other than opening or closing it’s mouth, Sawbone cannot offer expressive cues as to it’s state of mind.

Infusions Known- 0
Infused items- 0
Spell Casting Class(es): Artificer (artillerist)
Spell Save DC: 8+2+3=13
Spell Attack Bonus:  2+3=+5
Spell Slots- 1st=2
Spell-  pg.- Concentration or ritual ||  Spell- pg.-concentration or ritual ||
(0) Fire Bolt- pg222 PHB- - ||(0) shocking Grasp- pg253 PHB- - ||
(1) Tasha’s Caustic Brew- pg115 TCE- C- ||
(1)Expeditious Retreat- pg218PHB- C- || (1) Detect Magic- pg212PHB- C,R-
(1)Alarm- pg192 PHB- R- ||

   

Print this item

  Warforged Challenge Accepted.
Posted by: frenzied67 - 02-16-2021, 10:27 PM - Forum: Off-Topic - No Replies

2/12/2021
Irik was uncertain whether to include the Warforged race into Erath, he asked for a compelling backstory.  I have not asked him if he is considering the new Artificer classes in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, but this seemed to be a great place to meet his challenge for "compelling backstory".  Wink

Backstory of the Warforged Artificer (Artillerist)
Sawbone


The Siege of Wizard’s Peak
Two men in robes carted a third figure on a stretcher, two women in sigil embroidered robes fluttered one before and one behind the conveyance.  All but the bloodied wizened man on the stretcher flinched when a boom echoed through all the halls of Wizard’s Peak; the injured man only moaned while he tried to hold his own innards in; a lot of blood stained his clothes and the stretcher.  Another explosion from the fighting outside reverberated through the mountain.

“We must hurry!” the woman in the lead intoned, her voice calm despite her eyes darting for signs of danger.  This wizardess even sprinted a few steps ahead to open the door for the stretcher bearers and their stricken charge.  Limbs of metal, torsos of steel, and craniums that shone with metallic resolve dangled off of racks or were stacked in bins in this room.


Chains dangled from the ceiling of this chamber, hovering over a series of four tables that sat side by side in pairs.  One table had a completed figure of red and bronze metal laying upon it, it’s lifeless blank face staring at the ceiling with quartz eyes.  Sweating under their hoods, the two men shuffled up to the empty bed next to this lifeless robotic figure.  With a graceful gesture and muttered words, the woman who had trailed behind the pack made the injured wizard float up out of the stretcher to be laid gently down on the empty bed.  As tender as the motion had been, the man’s pain was such that he moaned again; suffering quavered in his once robust voice.
Both women came to the bedside, the woman who had followed grabbed the gutted wizard’s shoulder.
“You are dying, Tremain, your death would be a loss to Wizard’s Peak.”  Just like her twin sister, this woman’s words were calm and reasonable; tears flowed from her eyes as though defying her serene tone.  “We can not let you fade entirely.  I doubt if you can hear me, but I am going to put your soul into this Warforged body.  You will forget who you were, but at least you will still live... and still serve.”  All four able wizards raised their arms, spells were sung as though by a mad chorus.

3 months later, the siege continues
“Welcome!  Welcome, students, gather around!” the medic instructor called out.  Five freshly minted Warforged individuals milled uncertainly for a moment, then they shuffled over to form a line like the drill instructor's liked.  Unlike the Warforged troopers marching by their little tableau, these constructed life forms were slender; even their anodized red bodies were different from the regular soldiers, less armored and bulky, they all had a flying red raven painted on each shoulder with numerical designations stenciled on beneath.  The fighters had red swords on their shoulders, and more often they had their chosen names inscribed where the numbers used to be.  Between the students and their cheerful Elven instructor was a table sporting leather aprons from which smith’s tools were suspended.  Slender Elven hands indicated the forging equipment, urging the Warforged students to assume possession of the tools.

One student who had been constructed with a vestigial nose hesitated in picking up it’s laden apron.

“I thought we were supposed to be trained as field medics, the application of basic first aid, then the extraction of the patients from the fighting?”  The Elven male’s smile deepened at the question, he hid his hands inside the voluminous sleeves of his robes.  The Warforged who had the designation Envoy 1228 painted under the outspread wings of the red raven held the tools uncertainly, the blue glow of it’s eyes darkened a little; that was how a Warforged squinted in suspicion.

“We are training you to apply aid to your own kind,” the Elf stated proudly, as if that idea had sprung from his superior head.

Gesturing at the aprons again, their instructor urged them to don the smith’s equipment; his hand disappeared back up the sleeves again as though that pose were natural.  “You are a new life form who is constructed by hand before the spark of life is administered.  The powers that be here in Wizard’s Peak believe you should be in charge of learning how to care for the wounds your kind will receive.  After all no one knows how you heal yet, if you Warforged can be healed.”  Envoy 722, a Warforged who had flared flanges where a meat creature usually had ears, raised it’s hand.

“Do they think we are like golems then, who need to be hauled into a body shop when repairs are required?”

That question stole away with the instructor’s smile.  As the Elf struggled with uncertainty, possibly for the first time this century, Envoy 1228 tried to fit a three pound hammer between it’s armor plating.  It showed the instructor the witchroot musculature under it’s armor then it demonstrated that many of the tools would not fit.

“I could not weld this witchroot under structure or hammer it out if it were cut, and placing a series of rivets to keep myself from bleeding to death would actually kill off portions of my organic body… any of our bodies,” it stated gesturing to it’s fellow Warforged.

For almost a minute, the elf glanced at each Warforged while licking his lips, then all of a sudden the smile resurfaced; the confidence coming back brighter than before.

“I bet you’re going to have an interesting name when you get around to choosing one.  See, we’re already learning something.  Can any of you tell me what equipment you think you’ll need out there?”  Feeling as if it had struck a blow for Warforged everywhere, Envoy 1228 waited for it’s companions to start issuing suggestions and ideas.  Instead they milled around looking at each other, as lost as the Elf had been moments before.

Shaking it’s head in disbelief at both it’s fellow’s lack of imagination and the Elf’s superior patience, Envoy 1228 glanced outside of their little training area.  Soldiers of both the flesh and metal sort hustled from here to there, Wizards of all abilities slowly made their way as individuals or pairs.  Trotting along with some units of fleshly soldiers were some priests or priestess’s of Melwen, more rarely representatives of Andrin were attached to units.  Holding up it’s hand as it saw a squad with a Melwenite trotting their way, Envoy 1228 plucked the shears out of it's apron and broke from the training group.  Walking after Envoy 1228 with curiosity manifested in the lights of their eyes and their supposed instructor trailing, the mass of Warforged followed.

The young priestess’s eyes grew enormous when she realized that Envoy 1228 was waving it’s arms for her attention.  Like a pedestrian fearing a jay walking charge, the girl stopped and shuffled nervously keeping a safe distance back.

“Pardon me, we are conducting experiments over here.  I was wondering if you could spare a minor healing spell to help us out,” it asked the acolyte.  It was as if it had given the young woman magic words, her timidity was smoothed away at once.

“Is someone hurt?”  the Melwenite’s eyes automatically darted to the Elven instructor, a fact that Envoy 1228 did not appreciate.

“Not yet,” it answered.

Even it’s fellow Warforged gasped when Envoy 1228 stabbed itself in the upper thigh with the sheers it had.  It had deliberately missed the metal plating guarding the rest of it’s leg and it had not stabbed too deep.  The girl cringed back placing both hands over her mouth as a horrified look crossed her mien.  “There seems to be a question as to how we Warforged heal.  My companion of flesh thinks we should be treated as a golem would for our medical care.  I would like your help in testing my counter theory out.  Could I impose upon you a very minor healing spell for my leg?  If I am right then we should see my witchwood tissue knit from your divine ministrations.”  Hesitatingly the girl reached out her hands.

Studying Envoy 1228’s features did not inspire the priestess’s confidence, it could not feed her the expressions another flesh being could.  The invocation for the goddess’s aid produced a light in the girl’s hand, and even Envoy 1228 could feel the heat, like bottled sunlight, soak into it’s leg.  Even the instructor gasped as they all watched the light draw the root like material of Envoy 1228’s thigh together and sealed the hole closed.  Only a smear of fluid remained behind, smelling faintly of ammonia and amniotic fluid.  The Elven instructor nodded at Envoy 1228 when their orbs met in a glance, it had impressed the male with it’s display.  “Thank you young lady, now we have a better idea of how to treat our Warforged injured.”  She gave the lot of them a quizzical look before she hasted off to find her squad of soldiers.

Drawing itself up Envoy 1228 turned upon it’s peers and the Elf.  It deliberately began untying the smith’s apron and tool set from around it’s waist.  “I remember the diagrams I was shown right after I became aware of myself.  Our Warforged circulatory system is just as complex as the one you were born with.  Our healing procedures should be pretty close to yours, even if our metal exoskeletons are harmed they would heal given time.  We Warforged change our protective surface almost every night, which means we should be able to seal up rents and gashes in our metallic exterior in time.”  Grinning widely at Envoy 1228, the Elf raised an eye.

“Unlike a regular sawbones, you figured that out real quick.  Put that apron back on, Envoy 1228 you will still be required to take twenty seven hours of smith crafting, as I am required to teach you those twenty seven hour over the next five days….”

After medic training, six months since soul transfer
As he did every twelve point eight seconds, the half Orc medic it was training under brushed his mane of ropy hair back; up ahead the twin wizardess’s opened the salley port door, soldiers began to hustle through the cracked aperture.  Envoy 1228 could imagine the troops spreading out over the mountain’s slope as they sought their positions.

“I don’t know who you are, tin man, but Cora and Cory asked for you personal like,” the half Orc grunted.  How he could grunt while whispering was beyond how a normal flesh creature operated, or so Envoy 1228 thought.  It shrugged when the creature looked back at it, as the tusked male swept his unruly black hair back again.  How could he give an answer to something that mystified him as much as it did his training officer, he did not know the mage girls.

From the rattle that started up, Envoy 1228 realized that the juggernaut Warforged were next in marching out onto the mountain; so far all they were hearing was the whispered conversations of those waiting and the rattle of their own equipment on this spoiling raid.  The Scarred Hand had an annoying habit of ambushing sorties as they happened, maybe this time Wizard’s Peak might be able to strike a blow that would help unravel their enemy’s grip.  “Come on, Tin Man, start moving forward,” it's half Orc superior commanded shuffling three steps up before he had to stop due to traffic; it swept its hair back yet again.

“The name is not ‘Tin Man’,” it stated matter of fact, slightly annoyed by the poor manners of it’s companion.  More medics moved up to fill the void they had left behind, they moved ahead five more steps.  “There is very little tin used in my composition, Corporal.”

Grinning over his shoulder, the half Orc grunted at Envoy 1228.

“I know you junk heaps like to give yourselves ironical names based off of the shit you go through.  I was just thinking that ‘Tin Man’ was one hell of an ironic name.”  As though his bangs were one massive lock, the half Orc’s hair flopped over his eyes on cue.  Annoyed, Envoy 1228 let the light of it’s eyes dim to dangerous levels, what it would give to be able to sneer at it’s tormentor.

“One point of a Warforged’s naming exercise is ignoring idiots who want to bestow what they consider irony on it.  That’s your irony, not mine.”  One thing about being Warforged, Envoy 1228 was discovering how much inflection it could put into it’s voice.  The bored exasperation it had inset into it’s words were enough of an insult that the half Orc started to chuckle appreciatively.

Cool flowing air began to blow across Envoy 1228’s exposed witchwood parts, unlike it’s armor, the root like structure had sensation.  There were less stoppages in their advance the closer they got to the door, the regular troopers were dispersing at an increasing pace.  That is when Envoy 1228 realized what it was doing.  It was just about to step out into a brewing battle without weapons.  It was going to have others expect it to rush into each little fray to pull out those who were too damaged to fight.  Again, it thought of the fact that it was doing this without being armed, and it was greatly disquieted.

Turning back one last time, the half Orc corporal grinned at it.  There was a fever in the creatures eyes that looked like glee, this half Orc male actually seemed eager for the chaos that was about to ensue.

“Get ready, Private junk heap, we’re next!”  With that Envoy 1228’s boss swept his hair back and surged up and out of the fake stump salley port the two wizard women were holding open.  Both women’s eyes locked onto Envoy 1228 as it clambered out after the other medic, one of them even started to reach out for it as it started to move to the west.

“No, Cora, he is gone.  This is not really Tremain anymore,” the one wizardess who had not reached for it claimed mysteriously.

Both women watched him go as if they were sending a child of theirs off to the army.  The first flash and boom started before the half Orc and it moved up to the tree line a mixed company was currently infiltrating.  More spells started to detonate from the left and right, even from down hill of their position.  Once again the Scarred Hand had anticipated the great spell caster’s of Wizard’s Peak.  The sisters separated, magic flowing off their staves as they moved to support their troops.  Someone was already crying for a medic as they reached the tree line, from a position slightly downhill of where the half Orc and Envoy 1228 were.

The half Orc with his slightly superior rank gestured Envoy 1228 on.

“That’s our cue, rattletrap!”  After that insulting name it let it’s eyes flash and dim in agitation.

“Right, pig face”  A black arrow zipped between the two of them, and the half Orc began to laugh almost merrily, whether it was the insult or the battle erupting all around them that caused this jovial eruption was not known to Envoy 1228.  A Warforged behemoth and a tall Human man protected a fallen half Elven comrade with interlocked shields, both of them gestured the two medics too them even as a flurry of crossbow bolts punched and lodged into the metal faced shields.

Both It and the half Orc knee slid in the dirt as they came up on their patient.  With happy gestures, the corporal gestured at Envoy 1228 to get to it.

“Let’s see what ya got, spitfire.”  At least this time it could not find an insult in the half Orc’s nick name.  “Where’s your healer’s kit?”  Rib bones showed themselves between the welling blood of a deep gash in the half Elf’s torso.  Envoy 1228 continued to visually evaluate the stricken male as a compartment opened up in it’s thigh, many of the gauze pads and coagulant unguents of a healer’s kit were revealed.  Other tools of this trade were secreted in other hidden places within it’s body.  Just as it started to splash healing powders that stopped bleeding into the wound, another soldier fell twenty feet away, skewered by an overlong arrow.

Seeing that Envoy 1228 was applying the bandages correctly, it’s superior grunted.  “Looks like you got this, get this soldier prepped for a stretcher, I’m going to see what’s up with dumb fuck over there.”  Even though the half Orc was supposed to remain with Envoy 1228 and evaluate it’s work, the corporal ran over and began to see too the skewered man.

“I didn’t know we had golem doctors in this army,” the human commented to it’s Warforged companion.  The big juggernaut with the name ‘Blunder’ chiseled into it’s shoulder glanced at Envoy 1228, the light in it’s eyes expressing embarrassment.

Showing calm lights in it’s eyes, Envoy 1228 displayed to it’s fellow that it was not scandalized; Blunder let it speak for itself.

“Not all of us Warforged are juggernaut specified creatures.  Some of us, like you fleshies, are designed to do other things.”

“Oh shit!” the human exclaimed with astonished orbs wide, almost breaking the overlap in their personal wall of shields from his startlement.  “Sorry doc, I never expected a Warforged sawbones to be working for us.”  For an apology, that was not half bad, the human man actually looked contrite.

Another flurry of bolts embedded their heads into the two soldier’s shields or wizzed over them.  Blunder brushed itself off as though that attack had dirtied it.

“What I want to know is what Wizard’s Peak is doing for us Warforged, I notice they have you patching up the fleshies, but who is going to fix us?” Blunder asked.  Pulling the folding stretcher of it’s back, Envoy 1228 looked at its bigger batch mate.

“We figured out that we heal pretty much like our flesh friends, Blunder.  Other than hammering twisted armor back into place, we Warforged can be sewn up, bandaged up, and medicated just like everyone else.  Healing magic works for Warforged just as effectively as it does other creatures, and if we can’t find a priest, time will also allow us to recover.”

Glancing at each other, the human male dipped his head at Envoy 1228 in appreciation for the information.

“Sorry I thought our bosses weren’t looking out for us, sawbones.  If I live through this shit mission, then I’m going to tell the others.  I wasn’t feeling too good about this war until you told me that, and I know this news is going to put some heart into some very dejected metal lads.”  Blunder also inclined it’s head at Envoy 1228, the light of it’s red eyes blazing forth with a beauteous joy.  The half Orc corporal skidded under a curtain of missiles to stop at the foot of the stretcher.

His eyes probed the injured half Elf’s bandages before he turned his attention to Envoy 1228.

“Dude was croaked before I got to him.  You did a good job, but you’re taking the tail end of the stretcher.  You’re shielding my ass as we get this guy out of here.”  The light of anger in Envoy 1228’s eyes just was not a sufficient enough expression to impinge upon the tusked faced meat monkey’s minor brain.  “On three.  One.  Two.  Three.” In unison they heaved the injured Elf breed onto the stretcher, then the half Orc conducted another three count.

As the two of them churned back through the trees to the false stump salley port, an arrow bounced off the Warforged medic.

“They should design a back plate for us medics, or allow us to sling a shield across out tail side” Envoy 1228 complained, feeling a point in it’s armor digging into the witchwood under its shoulder plating.  It had a ding for sure.  Someone had taken the time to design this raid well.  Envoy 1228 and it's training officer were met by stretcher bearers who relieved them of their injured half Elf at the false stump.  After they communicated the soldier’s injuries, they were given another folded stretcher and sent back to aid more soldiers.  The two of them managed to treat over a dozen injured fighters before the twins sounded the retreat, that was four more than any other medic team on the mountain that day.

That night, Envoy 1228 was pulled from the book it was writing by a small host of soldiers and medics.  As the beings of flesh danced and celebrated around bonfires for the little victory they had won that day, Envoy 1228’s Warforged brethren hauled it aside for a special celebration of their own.  They gave it the “Rite of Turpentine”.  Burly juggernaut Warforged soldiers used rags soaked in the paint stripper to rub the paint off Envoy 1228’s armored shoulders as a host of metallic voices chanted “Take a name, take a name, take a name…”.  It cried out a word/name that suddenly felt more than significant than at any other time in it’s short life.  One by one, Warforged Juggernauts, Envoys, and Skirmishers stepped up to rest their heads brow to brow with it’s in a moment of solidarity, even as a dented Skirmisher named Ink chiseled the name “Sawbone” into it’s shoulder.

The next day
Drunken revelers began to twitch and make those restless motions and noises waking beings tended to make as they struggled to remain asleep.  From their positions of resting watchfulness, the eyes of Warforged began to blaze alight.  Those illuminated orbs ran through a rainbow of electric colors depending on the individual Warforged.  It was the Juggernaut models and Skirmishers who shed their motionless states first, they waded into the sleeping men and women flesh creatures waking them as gently as they could one by one; the medics had different demands placed on them, flesh and metallic medics had dispensations from having to hurry up and wait in the morning.

Even though it’s witchwood under frame did not require stretching, Sawbone still rolled it’s shoulders this way and that.  Over the course of the last six hours in stasis it’s living armor had popped out the arrow ding it had suffered the day before.  That slight dent was a minor injury, but Sawbone saw watching itself and it’s fellow Warforged injuries as part of it’s job.  Their species had not existed a year ago, someone had to begin cataloging their injuries and the remedies that were required.  Maybe it should allocate one of the many mini pockets built into itself to hold tools as a place to store a notepad and writing instrument, books would have to be written.  That made Sawbone wonder for a moment if Wizard’s Peak would ever let it’s people have the secrets of their creation.  Why should the flesh beings be in charge of generating the next Warforged generations?  Would they even craft further generations after this war?

That thought process vanished like clouds over a desert sky when it saw one of the Wizard twins walking towards it from across the parade ground.  Why did Sawbone feel a sudden surge of pride for the woman well up from deep inside upon seeing her?  Ascertaining that the spell caster was indeed intent on it alone, Sawbone took a few steps forward then assumed an ‘at ease’ military stance, head held high.  Shorter than it was, the woman swept up to Sawbone and peered up into it’s glowing blue sensory organs.  Here was one of the noteworthy leaders of Wizard’s Peak and she was interested in it.  Now which one was she, Cora or Cory?  For several moments she studied Sawbone’s features before a look of uncertainty flitted just under her careful mask of control.

She was a stranger too him but that show of confidence lost, ephemeral though it seemed, made a pit open in it’s guts.

“It is our inexpressive features I believe,” Sawbone opened up.  The woman blinked and frowned.

“Excuse me?” she asked with knitted brows.

“You people of flesh made our form similar to yours, but our faces cannot express emotion.  That omission is a great percentage of why you flesh beings dislike being around us.”  It gestured to some of the drunkards still laying out in this underground courtyard.  “These fine soldiers are exceptions to that rule.  Facing death together allows them to form those bonds that all living beings crave, no matter what form their comrade takes.”

Instead of illuminating the woman so she could prepare for the difference it's lack of facial facility created, the woman seemed even more confounded.

“Tremain?  Is that you?”  Her question threw it off for a moment, a moment of familiarity came and passed like a flitting revenant repeating its last moments of life.

“No, I am sorry but I do not know any crafted being by that name.”  Shaking herself like a wet dog the woman stepped back, then she glided up uncomfortably close again, rising up on her tip toes to peer into it’s eyes.

Sawbone could feel her breath creating condensation on it’s neck plates.

“I heard you took a name last night.  You call that the Rite of Turpentine, right?” The woman reached up and began to trace it's mouth ridges with her forefinger, as though it were a show model in some showroom.  Resenting her over familiarity, Sawbone stepped back before it answered her.

“I did, my batch mates considered my deeds in the skirmish worthy of recognition.  I took the name Sawbone.”

Nonplussed by it’s sudden retreat, the wizardess dropped back to the soles of her feet and studied Sawbone from that distance.  She was definitely searching for something from it, but Sawbone had no clue what she was after.

“Amazing, you sound like him, and you share many of the same mannerisms….”  The woman sounded like she was talking to herself, an observation that was confirmed by the way she just trailed off.  “You sound very educated for a Warforged, not many of your people have realized that our communication problems stem from our need for expression cues.  You talk just like someone I know- uh knew.”  Her eyes narrowed as she again drank in it's features.  This woman was definitely seeking something.

As suspicions began to trigger Sawbone’s imagination, seeing the worst in this stranger, it wanted to break off this conversation.  She was it's superior in rank in every respect of that word though.

“Ma’am, which one are you?  Are you Cory or-”  She did not let it finish.  Again the looks she gave it after she said her name made Sawbone realize she was seeking some reaction.

“Cora.”  After a moment of not getting what she secretly wanted from it, she continued on.  “Dammit, that was stated just like him, but you really aren’t him anymore.”

Now it was Sawbone’s turn to feel it’s head reel in confusion.

“Excuse me?”  Instead of answering right off, Cora glanced around to make sure no one was close.  She stepped up close again to make sure it could understand her whisper.

“Do you know how you Warforged are made?”  Everyone had their theories, the most obvious one was what most people of metal or flesh tended to gravitate toward.

“They say it is a secret, but most of us think that there is a hidden room here in the mountain where we are assembled.  After we are put together magic is infused into us so that we become sentient beings.”  It shrugged to show that even this answer felt incomplete to it.

Cora was shaking her head even before it's shoulders settled from that shrug.  She glanced around again and again found no one kibitzing on their talk.

“We put your bodies together, true, but magic can not create life.  Magic only creates a semblance of life.  Do you want to know how we do it?”  Despite itself, Sawbone found itself nodding after wondering if this were a trap.  Even as it made the gesture it noticed this woman’s twin sweep out onto the parade ground from the same distant side tunnel.  Just as Cora had done, Cory made a bee line straight toward it.  It’s glance over Cora’s shoulder alerted the spell caster that something was happening.  She glanced back and cursed as though she were less than pleased by her sister’s approach.

With desperation flaring in her human eyes, Cora turned back to Sawbone.  “We infuse the souls of the willing into your Warforged bodies.  You forget who you are- were, but….  Shit.  Please don’t speak of this with anyone, we will have to talk later.”  scrapping her feet back so that they were no longer as close, Cora assumed her boss mask.  What she said next was produced in a stage voice, her eyes begged Sawbone to play along.  “Congratulations on making yourself noteworthy too your peers, Sawbone.  I hear the Rite of Turpentine is a noteworthy occasion for you Warforged.”  For a moment Sawbone wondered what it should do with this supposedly taboo information Cora obviously wanted to hide.

Cory who was just now taking up a stance next to her sister would probably be forced to turn Cora in if it blurted the wizardess’s secret out.  But that might create problems for Sawbone.  Who knew how deeply this secret knowledge ran?  Would the leaders of Wizard’s Peak seek to silence Sawbone permanently if they knew it knew this secret?  Reading it’s right Shoulder, Cory made an impressed face.

“Social rituals denoting some right of passage is one sign that beings are sentient.  Your name choosing is a moment of pride for you and your people right?”

Cora was still making an appeal to Sawbone with her eyes, she had missed the decrease in it's eye’s brightness that was supposed to show her it had chosen to remain quiet.

“Any excuse to party, ma’am.”  Cory was surprised into delighted laughter, like a woman taking delight in the tricks of a dog, while Cora continued to seek expression cues from it’s static face.

“Yes, any excuse to party is a good excuse to make,” the twin said, just before storm clouds settled on her features.  Cory turned on Cora, displeasure marring once friendly features.  “I hope you have satisfied your curiosity, sister.  This Warforged called Sawbone is not the reincarnation of your dead lover.”  A weight like certain doom settled over the whole of the courtyard.  Waking party goers were hastening out of the underground parade ground as fast as their hang over’s would let them.

Collaboration and love affairs of the mind
After a few weeks of trying, Cora still could not spark ‘past life’ memories from Sawbone.  Cory worked in tandem on her sister’s memory project and with Sawbon in compiling data on Warforged health care.  Although it never remembered life as Tremain, a human wizard of noteworthy power, the Warforged medic did discover that it found comfort in the company of both women.  The medic confessed to noticing several episodes where a mysterious pride was felt when seeing Cora from afar.  A friendship with both women began, and although Cora did not find her former lover, she admitted that she too felt an emotional calm in Sawbone’s company.  All three of them had great intellects, and their curiosity and interests often aligned so that collaborating on each other’s projects became an every day occurrence.

11 months 3 days since creation
Wellborne Huxley accepted Sawbone’s drawing and gave it a glance, which prompted a double take as the wizard’s attention returned to the page one more time after that first cursory glance.  Instead of dismissing the medic’s idea right off, as the man had many times before, he gave the rendition a closer perusal.  Unfortunately for the Warforged, Wellborne drew away from the pictorial production with furrowed brows and a puzzled look.

“Is this really your idea of what future medic’s should look like?” the wizard asked.  Drawing itself up to answer the man, the spell caster suddenly continued showing that the former question had not been rhetorical, Sawbone had to wait out the diatribe.  “What is with all this armor… and are those wands firing various evocation spells?”

Just like a dejected flesh creature, a Warforged could feel a sinking sensation where it’s stomach would have been.

“Sir, I’ve been doing this for three quarters of a year.  Each and every battle we get in, I feel vulnerable because we go out unarmed.  People all around us medics are striving to kill each other, and we get picked off because we have no means of fighting back, and no one covers us so that-”  The dapper wizard flicked the drawing with his offhand fingertips, making the paper crack out loud.

“Fight back?  Medics are not supposed to fight back, Sawbone!  How many times do I have to tell you, leave the fighting to those trained to do so!  Why in the nine hells should we expend resources to turn you into spell blasters?  You would spend all your time getting into brawls rather than taking care of our injured!”

Jabbing the piece of paper back at the medic, Wellborne seemed eager to dismiss the entire subject.  Sawbone was not ready to concede this fight though.

“Sir, we can’t treat the wounded when we ourselves are dead.  Perhaps we could dedicate certain units to grant us medics covering fire as we sprint out into the battles?  Were you aware, sir, that medic casualties are approaching fifty percent of each unit dedicated to a fight?”  Pain flashed through the wizard’s eyes, but the stern cast of his face did not crack.

“Casualties are up with each and every type of unit we field, Sawbone.  Our combat units are suffering higher death rates than you medics are lamenting.  We are cut off from all of Erath right now, we have no allies and we have no new resources coming to us, except those that trickle to us through the Well.”

Although the wizard’s words had been practically hissed at Sawbone, it knew there was no real animosity in the human male towards it, but there was a heap of frustration in both of them.  Holding it’s drawing with all the carefully written notes, Sawbone grasped at the only idea it had.

“Sir, every since I was made a corporal I’ve been tasked with trying to think up ways to improve the medic corps.  We have to believe that we have friends out there, we have to have faith that Wizard’s Peak will be relieved.  We may not be able to work on my ideas at this time, but peace will have to return some day.”  Wellborne Huxley’s eyes softened at those words, and Sawbone knew that the wizard wanted to believe, with all his heart he wanted to believe.

The Moment That Defines
Looking back at the Slight Dragonborn female it was training, Sawbone felt the same old trepidation come over it.  As they trotted down the tunnel, hugging the right hand wall so that fighters of all races could pass them by down the center of the tunnel, and the wounded could trickle out along the left wall, fear began to mount.  Too many times Sawbone had entered battle without the arms to defend itself; deep down it knew it could better serve Wizard’s Peak if it had some means to knock the enemy on their heels.  The medics could retrieve the stricken better if the warlocks of the Scarred Hand had to keep their heads down.

Today, as it had for too long, they were fighting in their own tunnels, the enemy was now demanding that Wizard’s Peak surrender the Well of Worlds to them on a daily basis.  Up ahead where this tunnel bent, lights like a malevolent aurora borealis played on the walls and reflected off the battered armor of the soldiers.  Her white scaled face was showing her fangs with a draconic grimace, the young medic could not hold back the fear filling her.

“Take hold of that fear, Xathsiss, remember your training and let the fear fuel your moves,” it told the Dragonborn girl, Sawbone was wishing it could believe it’s own words as it once had.

“Seesseesaiya, I will ssir,” she vowed, her saurian eyes wild.

Rounding the right hand turn, the two of them had to shield their eyes as a brilliant white light made silhouettes of those fighting fifty feet ahead of them.  As there was a lull in troops streaming too the fight, Xathsiss moved up next to Sawbone with an arm up to shield her visual organs; she halted when he did.  When it could see again, Sawbone noticed the trail of bodies between itself and the raging fight where the light still flared.  That indicated that Wizard’s Peak forces were pushing their enemy back.  When had that happened last?  It felt that lifetimes had passed since their last victory.  Eagerly, Xathsiss pushed ahead, Sawbone saw her reasoning.  Instinctively she believed that getting to their first patient would mean they could clear out quicker.  Sane people didn't linger in battlefields.

The girl only made five steps before the right hand wall exploded outward, showering her with dirt and shadowy shapes swinging swords.  After hacking the hapless Dragonborn girl down, several of the Scarred Hand mercenaries turned Sawbone’s way; the rest poured out of the new hole and streamed down the corridor where overworked Wizard’s Peak soldiers strove oh so valiantly.  This was it, this was the moment Sawbone knew had been coming, and it had never had a chance to convince it’s superiors to arm it or it’s medics.  Knowing it for a futile gesture, Sawbone pulled a chisel out of it’s left arm tool compartment; then it posed hoping to take at least one of it’s killers down before those blades ended it’s life.  What an ineffectual tool.

“Sawbone!  Get down!” a familiar woman’s voice called from behind.

Even as Cora called out, Sawbone heard Cory run through a scale of words that sizzled with menace.  It dropped, rolling back while holding the little wood carver’s tool up like a diminutive holy symbol brandished to halt hungry vampires.  Seven blue darts buzzed like enraged hornets over Sawbone’s head, slamming into the enemy soldiery.  Half a second later five bursts of fire wooshed over it, turning the three mercenaries into human candles who danced and screamed.  Then they all floated or fell down as ashen chunks and coal bits.  Then the twins were quartering around the Warforged medic sergeant, working their magic in tandem to slay their enemies then seal the new made tunnel closed.  Knowing that if it did not say something, good soldiers would die, Sawbone looked Cora in the eye.

It’s almost spindly arm pointed where the white light was subsiding.

“Most of the enemy are going to flank our fighters!” it shouted, hoping it’s voice would carry over the tumult.  Cora glanced at her sister as though seeking permission.  Cory nodded, taking over melding the stone plug they had crafted to block the counter tunnel.  Sawbone's best friend sprinted off to save Wizard's Peak fighters.  As it watched Cora sprint down the hall, arcane energy playing up and down her staff, Sawbone gathered Xathsiss into it’s arms.  The Dragonborn girl showed no signs of life, she was merely rags of meat with a head attached.  Here was another of his failures, another life lost because it could not push it’s idea’s upon it’s superiors.

Cora was wading into the surging heaving skirmish going on down the hall, Cory was half way to the scrimmage readying herself to hurl magic.  A bright blue jagged light blew formations apart, followed by a burst of fire that engulfed the living and dead alike.  Voices in mid cry ceased as one, a synchronicity that shot alarm through Sawbone’s body.  When it’s eyes cleared of the flash dazzle, Sawbone could not see a single standing figure; friend nor foe.  Cora’s face swam up, and it started to see scenes of them together that did not come from memory… not it’s memory.  Cora, Cory!  Sawbone’s friends!

Something was keening into a tin can.  It stumbled forward already feeling the holes in it’s spirit, as if heat were blasting glass too thin to hold consistency.  The reverberations of the person crying were bothering Sawbone, it wailed over and over the same wordless denial.  What bothered the Warforged medic more were visions of Cora and himself straining together in a physical embrace they had never shared…. Had they? it/he saw a phantom face in a memory mirror, and reality completed its double recurve inverse.  It was a face of flesh.  It’s.  Not his.  What?

Gentle hands grabbed Sawbone while it stood over the blackened remains of Cory.  The soldiers had to pry his hand open so they could recover Sathsiss’s body.  Horrified for having dragged the Dragonborn girls corpse around like a toddler trekking around with a favored blankie, Sawbone started wiping the blood off his hands spasmodically.  Horror started to inflect in the voice of whoever was crying out, then it realized that the mourner was itself.

Aftermath, the heartbreak of steel
Healers and medics alike fell into each others arms with tears in their eyes, cheering just was not enough of a display to release over a year’s worth of fear and anxiety.  This injury ward was still too full of injured and maimed defenders, a fact that kind of offset Wellborne Huxley’s good news.  Sedaria was rising up against the Scarred Hand, and the siege of Wizard’s Peak had been broken.  Seeing the injured drove home the fact that the fighting hadn’t really stopped; it just was not on their front door anymore.  Yet for a majority of the people Wellborne had informed of this shift in fortunes, they acted as if the strife were over.

Plucking at his sleeve, Mother Superior Aspenspire inclined her head toward her office door.  Letting the Melwenite Priestess lead the way, the wizard was surprised that she shot her question over her shoulder before they reached the seclusion of her study.  She was usually much more circumspect around those she was in charge of.

“Do we have any idea why the Scarred Hand seems to have lost their power or drive?”  Like Wellborne, the priestess seemed to realize that the war was far from concluded.

When the woman looked back, he inclined his head toward her office to show that his news was not for public consumption.  Only after she had shut the door and was rounding her desk did he choose to answer.

“We don’t have any definitive information on what was behind all this, but it seems our good fortune stems from some adventurers in Mhor.”  Mother Aspenspire froze in the act of taking her plush leather seat at the mention of the dead city.  “We believe something from an alternate temporal past rose to challenge the Divine Concordance.  It seems that this power from history was trying to do unto Erath what had happened to the Dead City centuries ago, create a land of death that faintly mirrors life.  This entity did change reality so that conditions were favorable for it, yet some people who should not have existed at all plummeted out of the fractured timeline to save the world.  These heroes have now ascended it seems.”

Completing the act of sitting, the Melwenite Priestess started to nod her head in a thoughtfully slow manner.

“The gods were affected by this, then?  Does that mean the rumors going around about people turning into devils and demons are true?” she asked.  Wellborne noticed the subtle narrowing of the Mother Superior’s eyes.  Of course this would be of grave interest to many priesthoods.

“Almost all our Scarred Hand prisoners have transformed, but they are not fully demonic, nor are any of them truly angelic… yes these changes are revealing the touch of outer world beings of all sort.”

Wellborne Huxley sat in silence for a moment, hiding his curiosity about what conclusions this ally might come too.  He did not have to wait that long.

“Are you saying that bloodlines that carry the flavor of the gods and devils are being revealed?”  He smiled at the woman who had been heading Wizard’s Peak’s medical services since the siege had begun.  A few days ago, when it was evident that the Scarred Hand’s forces were dispersing, he had feared that the Melwenites would leave in a mass exodus back to their monasteries.  A lot of character was being displayed, these men and women had not even paused for a moment in aiding the Peak.

Seeing questions without end piling up in Mother Aspenspire’s eyes at his nod, the wizard immediately began to think of an evasive mechanism that would prevent a prolonged question and answer session.  As she had many times before, the priestess surprised Wellborne.  Even though she wanted to pursue her curiosity she innately realized that not many answers were yet available.

“Master Huxley, you did not come down hear to just give us your news.  What other reason brings you into this makeshift hall of healing?”  He had to acknowledge both her restraint and perceptiveness, so he inclined his head to show her his respect.

After that he hesitated due to the nature of the request he was about to make.  There were aspects of continuing pain that would flavor this subject.

“You have in your care a former medic who is Warforged.  It was driven insane in the middle of a battle last week, I was tasked with finding out what I can about this being’s care?”  His query caused the Mother’s head to tilt to the side, again her curiosity was peaked.  This time she felt she had to indulge that inquisitiveness.

“You are speaking of Sergeant Sawbone?  Why would a person of your position be curious about this creature?”

Knowing she would see past his caginess, he still had to go with the official cover story; Wellborne could not reveal that the Warforged were fueled by souls that had once been housed in flesh bodies.  Clergy men and women tended to become testy and possessive when speaking of thinking creature’s life forces.

“This Warforged had taken it upon itself to study Warforged physiology and health care, plus we had ordered it to brainstorm ideas on how we could improve our medic training and first aid practices in the field.  Sawbone had some ideas on how to improve our medic’s battlefield survivability that my superiors are interested in implementing."  Plus they wanted this Warforged to front their publicity policies for revealing these crafted beings to the world, but he could not admit to that yet.

Studying him with a frown, the Mother Superior almost seemed inclined to send Wellborne off.  She could see that he was not being up front with her, but she was also almost used to the secrecy pervading every aspect of Wizard’s Peak dealings and activities.  Frowning at herself for giving in to his request, the priestess reached down and unlocked a desk drawer.

“Sawbone is not really insane, you know,” she stated pulling up two tomes and a notebook.  None of the writings had a title on their covers.  Wellborne raised an eyebrow at that information, inquiring after more data.

Sliding the books over, she indicated them with her eyes.  “This Warforged creature has suffered a terrible shock to it’s psyche that has left it scarred on the inside.  Yet it requested that I pass these books and notes on to you and the healers of Wizard’s Peak.  It is cognizant enough to know that it’s previous work has to be… matriculated among the learned, which is an act of a mind capable of caring for others; a mind that is bent but not broken.”  Wonder filled the wizards heart, this was great news.  Wizard’s Peak would better be able to introduce the artificially created Warforged to the world without generating the expected bad visceral response from Erath’s many people; showing that these beings could be harmed and healed as all other creatures would negate a lot of negative impressions.

Gating in the Dragonborn had caused a stir, but that stink had been from the same minority groups who already hated magical practitioners.  Revealing the Warforged would stir many more hornet’s nests.

“This is good news, Mother Superior Aspenspire, Sawbone’s work has been invaluable!  Tell me, when will it be able to resume it’s work?” Wellborne requested leaning back.  Looking troubled, the Melwenite priestess set the notebook aside, then opened the top volume of Sawbone’s treatise.  Upside down drawings, supported by neat handwritten paragraphs revealed the healing techniques that Sawbone had compiled, but the Melwenite stopped half way through the book and turned it so that he could read.

Instead of carefully drawn representations of limbs and organs, a shakily drawn cartoonish golem was shown with shoulder mounted ballista.  Where once the writing had been scrupulously neat, in a flowing hand, the jagged words almost resembled ink spills.  ‘All the shes needed me, I couldn’t help!  They wouldn’t let me save the shes too many!’, at a tilt to the spine the next section read, ‘Empty, so empty’, then written upside down ‘Cora loved even the not me, me!’.  Chills on spider legs stalked Wellborne Huxley’s spine, he knew who Sawbone had been before the transferal, and the relationships that man had while as a man.  He also knew that Warforged never remembered their past lives.  This was a clear statement that something was askew.

“I do not think that is what it wishes to do with it’s life,” she stated with concerned eyes.

Swallowing hard, he glanced at the priestess wondering if she suspected Wizard’s Peak’s secrets.  Wellborne did not surprise any look that might have indicated she suspected the truth, but he did not like the way her eyes probed him; that look seemed to ask him to spill that which shadowed his soul.  “Maybe you should talk to Sawbone, itself.  It will be better able to tell you what it is thinking than I can.  The visit might even do it well.”  Intrigued, and feeling slightly guilty for the data he was hiding, Wellborne found himself nodding at the Mother Superior’s suggestion.


Sawbone’s cell door was open, further down the hall where the doors were closed, someone howled in a manner that was not human, nor was the sound animal.  A neatly made bed had been pushed into the corner next to the door, a night stand was on the mattress to get it out of the way of all the chalk drawings on the wall.  From the smudged floor to as high as Sawbone could reach, diagrams, magical formula (some seeming legitimate), and notes had been made in many colors of chalk.  Doodle covered pages of paper would have seemed randomly scattered, but the Warforged patient was currently fidgeting over the placement of a single page among the diagrams on it’s floor.

Finding the right angle to place the paper sheet, Sawbone stood up as it’s eyes grew dim; it began to use its finger to scribe something in the air.

“The seeming is more than the sum of its parts, but pewter has nothing to do with any of it,” it said as it worked it’s mystery problem out.  The Halfling girl who had led Wellborne into the dungeon that now housed Wizard’s Peaks mentally challenged, knocked on the Warforged’s door.  It’s finger began to scribe feverishly in the air, as though Sawbone was trying to complete it’s work in the next two moments.

“Sawbone… Sawbone, you have a visitor.”

Hanging it’s head as a man would have if his thoughts had been derailed, the Warforged creature’s hand stopped tracing in space.

“Is it living?  I’m tired of seeing the dead,” Sawbone inquired.  Smiling proudly, the girl nodded.

“Yes, it is a living man here to see you, Sawbone.” At that, the Warforged’s eyes brightened.

“Thank you, saint fleshling, you are always so kind,” it said turning it’s head.  Then, “oh.” as it spotted Wellborne.  It’s voice fell an octave as it’s eyes dimmed a little.

Leaving the aperture free for Wellborne, his guide turned about and walked back the way they had come.  He started for the door, but Sawbone waved him away from entering the room.  Evidently it thought it’s doodles were more worthy than manners.  As it tip toed through the notes and caricatures, Wellborne Huxley decided to feel out the Warforged.

“Hello, Sawbone, how are you?”  In response the artificial creature barked a short bitter laugh.  It chose to let that sound stand for It’s explanation.

“Are the rumors true, Mister Wellborne, is the siege lifted?” it asked.  Feeling the tentative smile come over his face, the wizard nodded; he also noted the lack of it referring to him as 'sir'.  It had greeted him as a civilian would have.

It hopped to the clear floor space around it’s door, then as though they were equals in rank, Sawbone offered its digits for a handshake.  Inadvertently, Wellborne looked down at that hand.  Although the Warforged was slender for it’s kind, that hand looked more like a tool for crushing than a living hand ever could.  The hesitation was noticed, but not commented on.  Aside, the wizard was again astounded at the warmth in the metal fingers that Warforged somehow generated when he did shake Sawbone’s hand.

“It’s true, Sawbone.  The mountain was declared cleared of enemy forces earlier today,” he informed the former medic.  Still trying to feel the constructed life form out, he added, “Many places in Sedaria are still under the warlock’s control though, so the fighting hasn’t stopped.”

Blue lights flickered in Sawbone’s eye, which somehow made the creature seem uncertain.

“Are you trying to tell me that my work as a medic isn’t done?”  Surprised that Sawbone had been so direct, Wellborne nodded.

“We won’t send you back out into the field, Sawbone, we still need you to work on your medical treatise.  The day is coming where we will have to reveal you and your people to Erath, and we think your work will go a long way in helping your folk be accepted.”

Blue eye lights flared, dimmed, then flickered, and a hollow moan escaped Sawbone.  After making mourning noises for a moment, it plaintively said one word.

“No.”  Wellborne immediately wondered if he was causing the Warforged more anguish.  “No.  I can’t serve you as you want me to serve.  Too many end up dead that way.”  It’s words firmed up as it spoke, though it did tilt it’s head as though expecting a military style rebuke.  Sawbone evidently still half acknowledged Wellborne’s rank in Wizard’s Peak defensive forces.  Even though he now realized that Sawbone was not insane, he still pitied the Warforged’s fragile state; and he felt his responsibility for that collapse.

Instead of pointing out it’s obligations to Wizard’s Peak, duties that had not been discharged, Wellborne inclined his head.  He still remembered who this had been, and that had been a man he had respected.

“How would you serve then?”  Almost instantly the lights in Sawbone’s eyes seemed to brighten with fervent intensity.  Half pivoting out of the way so it could show Wellborne it’s work, Sawbone gestured inside as if presenting the crafts of a genius.

“I’ve argued for this before, but I think our soldiers, especially our medics, rush into battle with a deficit in firepower- or- or some form of protection.  If they had something or somebody laying down evocation spells to keep the enemies head down, they could get into position without suffering so many casualties.  And the same could work for our aid units-” As if it knew how feverish the pace of it’s words were getting, Sawbone cut itself off with a slight dimming of it’s eyes.  “I know you’ve heard this before.”

Noting that resigned tone, Wellborne studied the Warforged for a second.

“Don’t you want to help your batch mates gain acceptance in civil society?  Don’t you think that is a worthy goal?” he asked it.  Its head was bowed, but it again indicated it’s room, this time for a different reason.

“I would like that very much, but isn’t it obvious I’m not the Warforged-for-the-job anymore?”  It held up it’s hands in a pleading gesture.  “Can’t you find someone else to do that job?  There are a lot of heroic Warforged with great personalities who could present us in a good light, could you ask them?”  It knew it was not the same person it had been before, Sawbone was declining because it knew it’s new obsessive personality would turn people of all races off.

Nodding his head, Wellborne conceded that point to Sawbone.  He would indeed begin to search among the Peak’s Warforged population for a new spokes person, it had been a fantasy to consider that his former human friend could shine out from this Warforged beings personality for the duty he had been asking of it.  Still, he wanted to do something for the being this Warforged used to be, for what it had done for Wizard's peak before it's collapse.

“What are your plans for providing this protection or fire power?  Do you think any of your ideas are viable?” he asked it.  Sawbone, brightened again, figuratively in mannerisms and physically with it’s eyes.

“I don’t have anything concrete yet, but I’ve progressed from those ideas I proposed before.  You know I thought about arming people with wands with spells imbued in them.

“Then I thought of golems that fielded artillery.  Both idea are expensive and would require us to establish industries requiring wizards to work in assembly lines.  Not effective ideas, I know, because the population of wizards has suffered.  So I thought about turning myself into someone who could buff up a unit and make short lived contraptions that could hurl magic-” it saw the doubt in his eyes, but then Sawbone stated something that made this madness seem suddenly feasible.  “No, wait.  You’ve heard of that artificer fad that has sprung out of the alchemist guilds?  Those guys are tinkering around with devices that allow them to brew potions on the road.  They may not produce the fantastically powerful droughts as the standard alchemist does, but they are making their mark nonetheless.  As a force out in the field rather than days behind the front line.”

Pausing to ponder it’s next words, Wellborne tried to visualize what Sawbone was trying to propose; none of the drawings on the wall had anything to do with alchemy.  “A woman from Errod has emerged with a suit of armor that she produces each day, she claims that she uses the art of the artificer to defeat proven warriors while wearing her charm infused carapace.  I would like to learn this artificer art, which seems to fuse an artisan’s know how with magical practices.  Boy, did Wizard’s Peak set me up with artisan skills.”  Wellborne found himself astounded.  Sawbone was proposing to learn a new form of fad magic to support Wizard’s Peak with.  How in the nine hells was he supposed to respond?

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  Poelarms
Posted by: frenzied67 - 02-10-2021, 02:07 PM - Forum: The Judge's Podium - No Replies

In other iterations of D&D polearm weapons had reach as well as an inability to attack foes within 5'. In 5E I see that the lance is the only reach weapon that has a disadvantage on adjacent (5') creatures. No other polearm states that in their information blocks, so does that mean they can be used at both 10' and 5' attack ranges? Thank you in advance for your time.

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  Brother of the Sword Chapter 8
Posted by: frenzied67 - 02-02-2021, 08:29 PM - Forum: Off-Topic - No Replies

1/28/2021


Chapter 8
Challenge
The Road North, 1533 Imperial Calendar


“Why, dearest sibling, why deny us what is our right?” Brother Sword implored. Brother of the Sword waited, watching the conspiracy of four shuffle out of his room. Each of them cast one last look back at him before stepping out of the door. Her green eyes imploring, Star Iris trailed after the others; her last glance back was the hardest for him to bear. The gentle way the door clicked shut was more of a recrimination than slamming it would have been. “Fellest of the fell, for a wizard to reap we really should services sell!” Never had his sword sibling ever been so upset before, inside Brother could feel Brother Sword tugging at his emotions trying to make his blood boil at the prospect of removing another magic practitioner from the world. Deep down he did want to take up the crusade, then he thought of all the soldiers he had killed the last time he dealt with a wizard.

The problem with having a mental and emotional connection with another sentient being was that it could sense his argument just as he was forming one. Brother Sword was broadcasting scorn on Brother’s idea even as he stated it.

“I was made to kill too many people who were innocent just taking out a divinator… a divinator, Brother Sword!”

“Innocent’s you say! Many more Krendiel would kill, even to this day! His waste would mount, the bodies beyond count, would our hand had been stayed. Think, brother fell, and you could tell. An opportunity to hunt and be paid, sheath me not, let not my will be betrayed.” Brother grimaced at the sword’s steely obstinacy, he had never felt Brother Sword worked up so much before. It tugged on their ties of creation trying to increase his blood lust to match it’s own, it’s words sharp reprimands.

Exasperated, Brother of the Sword turned and placed his hands on his hips while glaring at Brother Sword propped up against the chest of drawers.

“They said it themselves, they were greedy and stupid. Instead of calling in the experts, they compiled their stupidity. This is not our fight.” Brother was not prepared to hear Brother Sword use his own voice to fight back with, this tactic affected him like a slap in the face.

“A sword should be used to stop trouble, Sheriff Dade Cartin, that is why I carry mine,” the thinking sword sent, reminding Brother of his first conversation with Mudpie’s law man. “Blame should fall upon their head, brother fell, yet your guilt grow if they become dead. A fate not earned nor deserved though bad acts they disturbed.” Though Brother Sword had stopped shouting in his head, there was a firmness in these last arguments; Brother had the impression the blade had drawn it’s line in the sand, it’s mind made up and firm.

“Choose one, sword. It’s either the Witch Garmev, or this Dragstar dickhead!”

For close to a minute Brother Sword did not share a sensation or send a thought. Brother of the Sword gave a slight smirk and moved to break their connection through the ether.

“Childish you’ve become, yourself you did not master! That which you did not wish, passes. You’re now a monster!” Even as those words scalded Brother of the Sword, he felt a pulse burst from the pommel of Brother Sword. The blade severed their link to the ether.

“What have you done?” he asked Brother Sword, trying to push the thought through the ether. He felt diminished on the inside, exposed and wrong, also unjustly maligned. Yet, Brother Sword had not been completely incorrect. His arguments to stay apart from Mudpie’s problems had stemmed from his guilt over killing all those guards while trying to get to Krendiel. He was also responsible for all the people who had been killed by the fey giant in Galen Falls. Everywhere he went it seemed good people died, and now that Brother Sword had repudiated him Brother knew himself as a monster. The destroyer of innocence.

From far away the wave of some impulse thudded into Brother of the Sword’s psyche. For several moments he thought it might be the returning ripple of whatever energy wave Brother Sword had cast out into the world. Then he felt the difference between the two ripples. Brother Sword’s energy had felt like an angry call to war, this return wave reeked of madness and malice from something that wanted to punish the world for it’s many transgressions. “You son of a bitch!” he growled at the sword. It had sent a challenge to Esper Dragstar, and that provocation had just been answered. If Brother ran now innocent people would definitely die, Brother Sword had not only tied his hands, it had taken Mudpie’s options away as well. “You son of a bitch!” he said again as desperation filled Brother with a sensation like panic. His words were as potent against the sword as the plate he flung at it, no impression at all was made.

Flying down the stairs was not as entertaining as the last time. Brother’s one stumble made him leap the last steps rather than struggle to reestablish his running pattern. From the second story he just skipped treading on several steps to increase the speed of his flight down. Stumbling onto the ground floor, Brother of the Sword careened into a middle age couple slow dancing to the jig the atrocious band was playing. He had to catch both the man and woman so that they were not bounced off the floor by the violence of his inertia. Their protests were wind in the air, Brother was looking left and right to find any of the people who had just quit his room. The four were all seated at the table closest to the bar, engrossed in pointing fingers at each other. He abandoned the couple without answering ‘who the hell he thought he was?’.

Despite all the dancers smacking the floor boards with fun fevered feet, it seemed everyone could hear the patter of Brother of the Swords running steps; Mudpie’s four leading citizens turned on him before he reached their table. Wide eyes met his as he skidded to a halt next to their table.

“How fast can you get everyone out of Mudpie?” Due to his wild actions, the musicians had chosen to stop playing at the exact moment Brother’s question boomed out. Dancers and drinkers alike began to mutter in protest to the weird eyed stranger’s question. The querying look that Cyrus adopted plainly asked if he had been dealing with a mad man this entire time. Dilane Shunt narrowed his orbs in suspicion, while Sheriff Dade merely looked confounded. For her part, Star Iris seemed to catch Brother’s alarm, her eyes grew large in sympathetic distress.

“We could get everyone cleared out in a few days, a week at most. We sent most of the wagons back to our old town for the next group to be resettled. What’s wrong?” the law man asked.

That was not what Brother of the Sword wanted to hear, his grimace seemed to affirm his lack of sanity to Cyrus.

“What in the blue blazes are ye on aboot?” Dilane demanded, clapping a hand over his money pocket. The business man plainly thought they were about to be gamed for money this very moment. Only Star and the sheriff seemed ready to treat Brother on face value.

“Brother Sword just challenged your wizard, and the wizard accepted! He’s coming tonight!” even as those words slipped out, Brother knew he sounded as crazy as Cyrus currently thought him to be. Even Star stopped believing in him that moment her eyes showing disappointment.

“How did you challenge Esper? What are you talking about?” at least Sheriff Dade still thought he was coherent enough to answer questions.

Oh gods! Am I supposed to explain Brother Sword and myself to these people? Could they ever believe me? They were all leaning back to create as much distance as they could from the wild man accosting them, at Brother of the Sword’s back he could hear boots shuffling up behind him as the townsfolk began to form to defend their friends. Taking a deep breath to still his beating heart and firm up his wits, Brother gestured a plea for the four to bear with him as he gathered himself. I have to show them, then tell them, I think. Reaching back behind himself he sought a connection to Brother Sword through the ether, even as he began to speak.

“Sheriff, I didn’t contact Esper Dragstar, my sword did. My blade is truly my brother, and it wanted to help you when I did not.” Though he had half feared that their argument had been so severe that Brother Sword would no longer acknowledge Brother, the blade did complete the circuit and teleported to Brother’s hand.

“Fuck me!” Cyrus and Dilane had evidently known each other so long that they mimicked each other’s response by swearing and tipping their chairs over as they scuttled back.

The men and women ranged behind Brother of the Sword also gasped out four letter exclamations, their boots and shoes made a racket as they surged away. Star froze like a deer in sudden lantern light her eyes huge, shooting up, Sheriff Dade went for a sword he was not wearing. They’ll listen to me now, he thought feeling brutish with his methodology.

“When I turned you down, Brother Sword got mad at me. It felt I should have helped you, and when it got mad it sent the wizard a psychic challenge. The challenge was answered, which means that your enemy is coming.” All four of the conspiracy glanced passed Brother to see how the people of Mudpie were reacting to Brother’s words, the flinching in their features indicating that this was a secret they had wanted to hold on to. Star Iris studied Brother of the Sword as if just meeting him, this time she seemed horrified by what she saw; her distaste spurred on by memories of her seductive attempts with him no doubt.

I’m not a man, this is proof that ‘simulacrum’ is another word for monster! his thoughts flagellated him, Star’s response scourging his emotions. Pushing on passed these thoughts and back onto the task at hand was hard, he had been avoiding this self reflection for too long. “My hands are tied now, I have to fight your fight for you, but it will be harder for me to do that if these people are in the way!” From behind Brother of the Sword, a man called out making the three men and Star flinch.

“Who is this man? What enemy is he talking about?” There were also a lot of comments back there about his sword, or words about Mudpie dealing with an obvious sorcerer. That made Brother start a little, being accused of being a wizard did not sit well for some reason.

Just as Brother of the Sword was about to shout at the group in front of him to break them from their spell of gaping, Sheriff Dade bent over and started righting the two overturned chairs from the sudden exodus Dilane and Cyrus had made from them. Of the three men he had been the only one not to knock his seat over when standing. Star was still in her seat with seemingly distasteful thoughts marring her exquisite features; Brother began to avoid looking at her, she was all but shouting the accusation of monster at him.

“Where would you want to meet him, what ground do you want to fight on?” the lawman asked him, then whispering over his shoulder he addressed the card player. “Cyrus, can you handle the good people’s questions? Things might turn ugly for us if you don’t.” Skirting wide around Brother, Cyrus watched Brother as if he were expecting more madness to manifest such as more magic swords or extra limbs. Star finally stood up and backed away to stand next to Mister Dilane, both of them watching the conversation as if expecting something to blow up.

Before Brother of the Sword could formulate his answer to Sheriff Dade Cartin, the lawman whispered at him. “If Cyrus plays this right you may have volunteers lining up to help you defend this town.” Brother felt his mouth gape wide.

“I don’t want anyone to help me. Once the wizard shows up and kills just me, you would still have a few days to pack up and leave. If these people are seen supporting me, then this Dragstar fuck might forget his time table and start carving you guys up right away.” Sheriff Dade’s expression proclaimed that he found Brothers reasoning laudable. “Is there a place you can gather everyone that will be out of the way? Plus, which way is Esper Dragstar’s lair?” Pointing to the hills to the west, the law enforcement officer showed Brother where Esper lived as he answered the sword man’s other question.

“We could roust everyone out and have them gather here or in the mill. Which would you prefer?”

Mister Dilane suddenly stepped up to rest his hands on the back of the chair he had sat in.

“We should send ‘em to the mill, sheriff. The boat out back ain’t big but we can shuttle people acroos in shifts,” the heavy set man declared pointing east. When their eyes sought him out, Brother gave a nod to their plan. It was a sound idea in what felt like a sea of chaos. Fear started to depart from Star Iris’s gaze as she suddenly became more animated than her statue like stance had been.

“I’ll have my staff start knocking on doors. Dilane, you should have some of your employees start lighting the way to your mill, that road is dangerous in the dark.” Behind Brother of the Sword’s shoulder Cyrus must have had half an ear bent their way. He went from exhorting the twenty or thirty people into being calm to asking them to volunteer to knock on doors or hold lanterns to illuminate the rutted road. “After the evacuation starts rolling along on its own, we should meet back here for a last strategy session.”

Star’s addendum was addressed to her male friends, her eyes avoided Brother of the Sword as if he were an ugly canker on reality. As everyone transformed from indecision to incarnations of certain action, he was left alone with his thoughts. He noticed that people were taking extra precautions to maintain as great a distance from him as they could. Why should they come close, even I know I am a monster. Death follows me everywhere, maybe I should let this Esper Dragstar take me out. The world will be a better place without this simulacrum messing it up. Feeling sorry for himself, brother stepped out of the inn. He walked around the building to the tall grass on the inn’s western side. Baby trees and flowers in several score terracotta pots sat in double rows along the inn’s west facing wall. Someone had been planning a scenic garden to add to the inns reputation and desirability.

Mudpie was in a definite stir, darkened houses had lantern bearing citizens suddenly beating on the doors or calling back and forth to one another asking after misplaced neighbors. Thin though the moon was over Brother of the Sword’s shoulder, it still provided enough light that he could see the mound like hills to the west; but he could not differentiate the hills from the trees growing upon them, they were silhouettes against a starry backdrop.

“Look what you did, Brother Sword, you’ve turned these peoples lives over so that you could have your way. There’s a good chance that most of them will be killed after we are done away with. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to run from this fight, but we should have had the time to learn the terrain and the enemy we fight. You stole that away you asshole piece of steel.” Brother’s recriminations were met with silence from the sword.

For a moment Brother of the Sword thought about casting Brother Sword away into the tall grass or into the river, yet he knew he would summon his sibling the first time trouble raised it’s head. Then Brother fantasized about breaking Brother Sword over a boulder or melting it in a forge. After his second revenge scenario played itself out he began to feel another wave of self loathing come over himself. His feelings were hurt, but that did not give Brother the right to dream of murdering his stubborn brother, no matter how wrong headed the sword was acting.

“Brother? Brother of the Sword, are you back here?” Star’s voice barely carried over the distant shouts of her neighbors moving off to the dubious safety of the saw mill. Her call was the last thing Brother thought he would ever hear.

“Over here,” he responded, turning her way confused.

A black blob moving in the deep shadows of the three story building proved to be Star. Evidently she could see him because she stepped up to Brother of the Sword’s side without asking for directions; the bell of her dress touched his leg as she stared out at the same hills that fascinated him.

“Most of the town has moved into the mill and we have two boat loads of people on the eastern shore… maybe three by now. Cyrus and the sheriff just got back which means that Mister Dilane will soon be here.” He grunted to let her know he had heard her. Instead of moving away immediately, Star chose to stand with him in the dark for a few moments. “Brother of the Sword, did your sword really call out and challenge Esper Dragstar? The wizard is hours away?” Brother knew his reluctance in answering stemmed from his fear of further reprisal.

Having to clear his voice twice almost led Brother of the Sword to try changing the subject, he knew his face was screwed up in dread when he did answer.

“This is the first time it and I have ever fought over something. Normally Brother Sword just makes suggestions or feeds me ideas, and it is content to let me choose our course in things. This time I didn’t want to involve myself in your problem because the last time I fought a wizard close to twenty imperial soldiers and several score civilians paid the price. I don’t think those tolls are worth the fight, Brother Sword thinks differently. It stole our options away to force my hand.” Surprisingly Star did not shift nor move away from him, she was silent for several moments though.

“I’ve never heard of anything this crazy in my life. I for one am glad your sword is making you help us. I would have lost everything if we had been forced to move back to Tarin’s Feather, that is a place where women aren’t allowed to have power or make their own decisions. It’s a place where dreams die faster than the people do, Brother of the Sword, and a lot of people die in Tarin’s Feather. I’m sorry you got dragged into this mess, but I want you to thank… what is it… Brother Sword for me. It’s been a while since I felt hope.”

Satin rustled in the dark, then Brother felt her hand fumble against his shoulder. Following the contours of his shoulder and neck, Stars hand reached behind Brother of the Swords cranium and pulled his head down. Her other hand rose to cradle his cheek as her kiss lingered so sweetly that tears sprang to Brother’s eyes. “You are such a beautiful man, Brother of the Sword. I hope we get to have some time to love each other after this crazy stuff is over, I want that so bad.” She kissed him again, pressing herself against him so that he knew she was arching her back to contour herself against his stoop. Breathing heavily Star broke their intimacy and stepped back. “We’ll be waiting for you inside. Don’t take to long.” Her voice was soft from breathlessness. His tears spilled over as she walked away.

She was good too me? Why? Brother of the Sword wondered as his body relaxed with the relief flooding his being. His answer was ready in his mind. Star Iris would not have come back around, she would not have renewed their intimate tie if she really found him to be monstrous. As Brother’s self doubt melted away he silently rejoiced. Having other people judge him fit was more potent than the way he and Brother Sword had been criminalizing his thoughts and deeds. Still, all the people that had died weighed his conscience like large lead chunks in a small small boat, Brother was starting to realize that he was not the sole author of those tragedies. Vibrations coming up from the soles of his feet alerted Brother first, his tears stopped welling forth as he set his eyes to trying to pierce the night’s veil. He opened his senses to the dark trying to feel or notice anything, his senses recognizing possible trouble.

Those vibrations were like a horses hooves drumming against the earth, but the cadence was too fast and the time between drumming was spaced too far apart. No sound associated itself with what his feet were telling Brother; yet he knew it was trouble hurtling his way. There… was that sound coming from the north west? An inhuman shriek sundered the night, like a panther using a megaphone while it also scratched a chalk board. Raising Brother Sword, Brother of the Sword started to trot in that direction; he fully intended to put himself in between the inn and the wizard. Before he made three steps he saw the chrome flash of a huge feline shape zip through the air as fast as a shot arrow. In over thirty feet, the cat creature’s paws only touched the ground once before it crashed into the side of the inn like a giant’s fist fired from a ballista. Broken lumber crashed through the entire building and out of the south facing windows, hurled by the metallic creations juggernaut momentum.

“Gods no!” The beast was now inside the building and he was still under the night sky. Star and her friends were in there!

Knowing he was closer to the hole the monster had blasted into the northern wall than the door or shattered window, Brother of the Sword sprinted in the direction of the creatures entry hole. The people inside didn’t have that long, they were already screaming at what was confronting them. Brother had to crawl through the hole that was four feet up the wall, the floor of the inn was elevated over the ground outside. Sheriff Dade stood between the beast and his friends, his slender sword in hand. Cyrus was bolting for the main door while Mister Dilane shielded Star Iris with his bulk against the bar; she was was crawling over the barrier tugging upon the mill owner’s sleeve encouraging the mill owner to follow her over the counter. Seeing the creature of Esper Dragstar helped Brother realize what Cyrus had meant when he had described the thing as a beast of metal and bone.

Almost as big as an imperial cavalry horse at the shoulder, Esper’s creation had the skeleton of a great cat who had curved teeth over eighteen inches long. Filling out and resting in the bones were mechanisms of chromed steel, gears, tubes, and wires. Symbols and sigils adorned the metallic surfaces, the writings would glow red or grow quiescent with each of the creatures moves. Before Cyrus reached the swinging half doors the construct pounced, claws of bone, steel, and mystic energy raked the man’s flesh away even as he was pinned to the ground. The card player’s screams were a thin sound attesting to the loss of hope the man felt as his life was ripped away. Sheriff Dade Cartin’s sword shattered when he thrust through the beast’s ribs, there was a grinding noise, then the ‘spang’ of breaking steel. Shards of the rapier chimed while bouncing over the inn’s floor boards. Almost too fast to see, the metal thing lashed out with a single paw.

Flung back as though kicked by a horse, the sheriff landed on a table which broke under his weight. He didn’t even try to roll with the breaking of the table, shards of wood stabbed into Sheriff Dade who was screaming and trying to keep some purple blue ropy thing from spilling out of the gashes in his midriff. Spurred by the knowledge of what he was seeing, Brother of the Sword clumsily climbed to his feet calling a challenge to the artificial creature; this monster of sorcerous artifice. Having gutted men before, Brother knew the law man was in a great amount of fear as well as pain; he could read that in the sheriff’s bugged eyes and tortured screams. Ignoring Brother, the cat monster crouched over Cyrus’s corpse while magic symbols began to glow up the thing’s tail, from it’s hips to the tip of the tail each spinal disk lit up in a racing ripple. Sprinting and screaming, Brother continued to try and distract the construct. He might as well had been in another country as far as the monster cat was concerned.

Stabbing like a scorpion’s tail over the metal filled cat’s skull, the monster’s tail lashed out and spat a stream of beet red lightening. Punched into the racks of hard alcohol bottles, Star Iris’s bones appeared as shadows under her glowing flesh; an arch of red electricity sparked from her hands, one arc knocked Mister Dilane down behind the bar even as glass sprayed from Star’s impact into the racks. She dropped out of sight too fast, too limply. Then the beast spun on Brother of the Sword even as he reached the thing’s flank, red glowing orbs filled the cat skull’s malevolent eye sockets. Claws sheathed in red energy, black bone, and shiny steel flashed at his gut, but when Brother Sword slashed into the cat thing’s shoulder the glow in every sigil cut out momentarily, and it froze in place as if time had been stopped for it. His blade had carved through steel and bone alike to reveal hidden gears and wires, but he heeded his instinct to step away. Red energy flared anew as the beast’s paw flashed through where Brother had stood a half second earlier.

Stepping back and then away again, Brother of the Sword struck it in the side of the head then in the same shoulder he had hit before. Each time Brother sword came in contact with the wizard’s creation the blade would cut through bone and steel alike, and the monster would freeze for a fraction of a heartbeat. With it’s eyebrow cleft and its left shoulder thoroughly mauled the creature was still quicker than Brother who himself was faster than most. His fourth cut missed entirely as the thing of bone and steel bounded backwards onto Sheriff Dade. The lawman had passed out mere moments before, but when the rear paw of chrome and ancient bone stepped into his stomach he came back screaming. Even in his horrified death throes, Sheriff Dade thought to grab the beast’s leg when it tried to lunge at Brother; he left a five foot long smear of blood and guts as he was dragged. Still the construct was held back from pouncing on Brother.

Impeded as it was, Brother of the Sword slid to the side and brought his glowing sibling down right where the feline cranium joined bone and gear spinal parts. It shied away from Brother, snarling and grinding in a weird manner as its head vibrated oddly. Dragging it’s left front paw, the creature’s left eye stuttered on and off while sparks played among the newly exposed wires and gears; the sheriff fell off the magical construct’s rear paw, an inert castoff. Shrieking like an enraged panther the beasts tail suddenly lit up and stabbed Brother’s direction. Brother Sword yanked his arms down so that it was interposed between the lightening bolt and Brother’s body; his sibling had never done that before and it was evident that it cost Brother Sword a lot of energy, it’s glow dimmed considerably. The pale blue energy that flowed up and down the sword ceased as the electric red bolt struck the folded steel of Brother Sword; it vibrated as it sucked the energy down, then flared with renewed blue vigor.

As an actual big cat would have finding itself facing a superior foe, the feline skull glanced this way and that trying to determine the best way around Brother of the Sword. It feinted for the doors where Cyrus’s rent corpse stared into infinity, then it spun about and started to flow up the stairs. Trying to split the old bone hips and their steely gear like supports, Brother ended up burying Brother Sword into the fourth step up. A foot long section of chrome and ivory tail writhed and sparked like a sundered serpent next to the magic blade. Shrieking in pantherish indignation, the wizard’s creation continued streaming up the steps, and Brother chased after intent on not letting his prey get away. When he reached the second story landing he saw the monstrous construct turn about and start running straight down the hall sitting between rooms; at the end of that straight shot was a window, the creatures goal.

“Throw me!” Brother Sword commanded, as excited for the kill as Brother was.

Tumbling once through the air, Brother Sword miraculously hit the speeding juggernaut beast right in front of it’s rear left leg. The hurtling cat had been gathering itself for the leap through the window when Brother Sword’s glowing blade pierced its gear box guts. Just as with Sheriff Dade’s rapier there was a grinding noise. This time the monster burst apart scattering metal and bone parts up and down the inn’s hall. Glass smashed outward as the fore half of the magical monstrosity flew through by inertia alone, it’s back legs and hips skidded into the vase stand Star had as decoration under that window. Brother of the Sword gasped, in the wreckage he could not see his sibling. When Brother of the Sword stepped into the hall he saw the pale blue energy of his sibling under shards of chrome and fossil fragments.

“Are you alright,” he asked the blade as he swept it up.

Flowing wood grain style patterns slowed down and began to flicker as Brother Sword started to go quiescent.

“Brother most fell, I do fare well,” it declared, exuding more than a bit of satisfaction. That emotion dimmed and fell away as sorrow welled from the blade. “As you warned, as you said. My actions rash, innocent lives were shed.” Brother of the Sword only felt a slight moment of victory before he remembered what he would find downstairs, his sibling’s apology making his sense of guilt rear up anew.

“Yet you were not entirely wrong, Brother Sword. If we had walked away more people might have died. That monster cat thing could have killed everyone in Mudpie because they had nothing strong enough to fight back with.” After a momentary lull in their conversation, Brother Sword, who still felt distraught, reached out to Brother in the ether. A mental and spiritual hug that was both an apology and an acceptance of the familial love they shared. Silently Brother knew that the blade would never again go as far as it had this night, and he knew he would never set Brother Sword’s advice aside so easily in the future.

Glancing out the broken window, Brother of the Sword made sure that the cat beast was not trying to crawl away to seek repairs. Chrome parts glittered in the light of the moon and the lantern light filtering out through the hole in the inn. No sigil nor eye glowed with red energy, no limb twitched with the memory of artificial life, the wizards killing machine was shattered and dead. Taking the stairs down, Brother walked slowly; he did not want to have to see the people he had failed to save, even Cyrus whom he had never warmed too. On his side, dead eyes facing the floor, Sheriff Dade Cartin’s trailing intestines vied with the puddles and smears of his blood for which was more gruesome. Cyrus just lay in his own gore staring through the ceiling, his face and chest split with four parallel grooves that had gone to the bone. A man’s sobbing pulled Brother passed those horrible sights.

In the narrow walkway behind the bar, Mister Dilane cradled Star Iris in his lap, tears spilling down to splatter on the dead woman’s hand which he held in both of his. The hole in the satin dress was as blackened and burned as the charred flesh behind the clothing; Stars lovely face held a look of surprise as if she had seen something unexpected at her moment of death.

“She was the best of us, Broother of the Sword, she should hae been spared this,” the mill owner stated between the gulping noises he made while weeping. Brother of the Sword knelt down next to the two, he gently closed Star’s beautiful green eyes. They did not look right without the vitality of life animating them. “did ya stop Esper’s beast?” Brother swallowed hard finding that he had tears left to spill.

“We killed it, Brother Sword and I. We are going after Esper Dragstar next.” Mister Dilane did not say anything to that vow, but he did grab Brother’s free hand and pinned it over Star’s already cooling digits with his warm palm.

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