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Warforged Challenge Accepted.
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)

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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