An Old Campaign #5


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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:51 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Mine, All Mine (Part 3)

(At the Murga 'minehead')

The smell, an admixture of brimstone, sweat and mould clinging to his throat, was threatening to overwhelm the captain, and it was this difficulty in breathing that got to him the most. He had expected to find the darkness, or perhaps the enclosed spaces, the most worrying aspect of this particular journey. Yet here vast caverns were cut into the rock, some larger than even the greatest of castle halls, and a good deal of the mine was well lit, with many of Scabscar’s guards carrying lanterns, as well as burning braziers and even some beams of sunlight piercing down from way above through long shafts cut through the rock.

He had been sent down here by the Caliph Nur-al Dihn to (How did the caliph put it?): “Ascertain the true nature of the enterprise and give a full report.”

Simple enough instructions, however not necessarily a simple task. The ratmen fussed around him constantly, showing him the sort of exaggerated deference that they exhibited towards Scabscar himself. They bowed at every opportunity, hopped from foot to foot in their eagerness to show him the way, and forever fidgeted in their rush to assist him with doors and ladders. Their words tumbled out in torrents of titles and tortuous etiquette. Even now as he entered a large cavern from which no sound of labour could be heard his current guide was chattering away in like manner.

“Good captain, here, here your honour, you see, if it please and satisfy you to do so - you see how we, humble servants of the Sheikh, do make it our concern-duty, yes, to ensure that the workers, man-workers, are kept safe-secure from harm? We know how your most noble commanders would have us treat with respect-kindness the prisoners. We know how you, kind captain, will wish-want to see that they are well kept, and warned of all the dangers that might befall them.”

In all honesty, the captain had entirely lost track of what the babbling skaven was saying, and so it was he encountered the scene in the cavern without really understanding what it was the ratmen were trying to prove. A small crowd of workers, a rag-tag bunch of Murosians and foreign mercenaries, were gathered together in order to listen to an announcement. Before them stood three skaven, each bent and stooped in the way this entire race seemed to do. One carried a lantern on a pole, the other a large scroll of parchment covered in ratmen markings. The third, after glancing over his shoulder to see the captain and his guides arriving, began reading aloud.

“We want you to work-labour hard and long, and so we want you to live-breath long. You must not slip-fall, you must not gash-bleed. Listen-hear, these are rules for you, for your benefit. First you must obey every order prompt-quick. Do not delay. Do not tally. Do not sit-rest unless told to do so. It is not safe to cease-stop when others work hard-good. Lazy, disobedient workers get trodden-squashed under foot, see? They gets kicked and crushed and slows all the rest, see?”

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The ratman was obviously warming to his theme, for his tone was becoming more strident and higher pitched. The speech continued, laden with a profusion of extraneous words in the common skaven manner of speaking, but the captain lost interest and took the opportunity to look around the chamber. He had been concerned that the workers might escape, which could prove an embarrassment for his masters, but here he saw there were plenty of guards with heavy spears keeping an eye on the work party.

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Escape did seem a rather unlikely prospect for these prisoners, although the captain wondered how much of the scene before him was being put on for his satisfaction. Perhaps even the guards were there for his benefit? His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by his guide asking:

“See? Good Captain? Yes. We take/lead you now, by your permission, to show you how well the workers are treated? They drink well, eat well - all are nourished, all made strong-fit, all made healthy-hearty. Yes? Brave captain?”

The captain simply nodded and allowed himself to be led from the cavern. He found himself descending further, and now a new fear began to make itself known to him. It was as if he could feel the weight of tons and tons of rock above him. As if the pressure placed upon the struts and beams were emanating out into the air itself, there to press upon his head, to drum upon his ears. If breathing was hard before, it now became even more so.

Thankfully the next destination proved to be not so far away. The guide had been talking throughout the journey, and now the captain once more allowed the ratman’s words to impinge on his consciousness. “Much food, great quantities, is brought down from above. Cooked and burned and boiled, fire-hot, like manthings eat. Generous we are, much food given. See?”

He pointed at a ratmen up ahead on a rickety wooden platform, carrying what appeared to be a huge, iron ladle heaped full of steaming, luridly green vegetable matter.

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“These workers here eat well, yes, four times a day-night,” continued the guide. “No one hungry-starving. No one goes without.”

The captain could not help himself. He found himself smiling, a grim expression that came from his much better (human) understanding of what the workers might really feel about the food. Each had a look of dismay on their faces.

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It was clear that they would eat it - how else could they survive this back-breaking labour. It was just as clear that they loathed every cabbagy mouthful.

“Yum-yum, good captain. You taste, if you please-like? Yes?”

The captain shook his head. “No, these prisoners have earned it, let them have it all, eh?”

The guide bared his teeth in a wide grimace - which took the captain aback at first, until he realised this was the ratman’s attempt at a smile. “Kind captain, most thoughtful. They eat all.”

Suddenly the smell of the ‘food’ came at the captain, mixing horribly with all the other odours so that finally the obnoxiously noisome atmosphere threatened to make him retch. He spoke quickly. “Enough. I have seen all that I need to see. Now, take me up and out, and do it quickly. I have no desire to linger here and must be away about my business.”

Once again the grimace. “Of course, good captain. Yes? Satisfied you are, I see-know. This way, this way!”

As they left the cavern and its stench behind, the sound of someone pleading came from an archway off to one side: “No, please … no!”

The captain turned to look, and as his eyes adjusted to the lesser illumination in the little cavern upon the other side of the opening, he saw a man stripped to his waist, surrounded by skaven.

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The nearest skaven, a snarling specimen garbed in scarlet like nearly all Scabscar’s fighting servants, was raising a whip. No, saw the captain, not a whip, but a most cruel collection of iron chains, clattering and glittering as they swung back. An instrument made not to deliver chastisement but to deal out death, and with one blow.

“What …” began the captain.

The guide tugged him away. “You need not see that, captain. Bad thing. Come away.”

As the sound of the terrible strike could be heard, the captain could only ask: “What had he done?”

“Him, captain? He was lazy …”

“Lazy?” interrupted the captain, shocked.

“Lazy, yes, but worse. See?”

The captain did not see. “What do you mean worse?”

“He, well," the skaven seemed to be struggling. "See, he … he was .. disrespectful. Yes, yes. That was it. He insulted-cursed the sheikh and King Ladislao, spoke foul things, double treachery and murder-assassination, see?”

The captain was entirely unconvinced. The trouble was, he had to get out of this place. “If you say so. I care not. Now, make haste. I will tarry here no longer.”
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Post Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:49 am

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Made me laugh out loud twice. Best of any installment thus far in this or your other campaigns.

Also, I'll be adopting the expression "prompt-quick" in daily life.
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Post Sat Feb 01, 2014 2:01 am

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Orjetax wrote:
Also, I'll be adopting the expression "prompt-quick" in daily life.


If you don't get back to you the D&D thread prompt-quick I'm going to get my butt kicked by goblins :x

Padre: as always, you inspire and impress :D I even forgive you for losing that last battle and showing everyone I have no precognitive abilities...
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Post Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:25 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

’Warlord Scabscar His Grand Army’

The order had been given just after noon: every fighting regiment and all war engines and crews were to assemble at nightfall upon the fields to the east of the minehead. Warlord Scabscar wished to review his forces, to satisfy himself as to their total strength and battle worthiness. Now was not the time for further skirmishes and squabbles, with a detached force here and a vanguard there. Now was the time for great battles, where Scabscar intended to apply all the strength he had at his disposal.

So, as the sun finally dipped below the horizon, Scabscar stood atop his Bonebreaker facing his army.

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Every warrior was silent, and each was a still as it was possible for a fidgety skaven to be (and all skaven seemed to possess that particular trait). The regimental standards fluttered in the cool breeze, while wisps of steam leaked from the Doomwheel and the Warp Lightning cannons in the rear of the line.

For several lone minutes Scabscar simply watched this force, perhaps gauging their obedience to his will by testing their patience. The only movement throughout the force was that of the Doomwheel as it continued its surprisingly stately roll towards its intended position to the right of the line.

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Scabscar’s attention was drawn (how could it not be?) by his own guard regiment, bravely attired as they were in yellow. Beside them stood a warpfire thrower crew, happily hefting the deadly device as if posed no risk at all to them. Was this bravery, recklessness or ignorance, thought Scabscar, the decided he cared not as long as they did what was required in battle.

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The regiment was new, but every warrior had been tried in battle. Admittedly some had previously run from the field, but in doing so they had seen the inherent danger of such panicked flight and Scabscar hioped they had learned that to stand before the foe and resist was often the best way to ensure survival.

Beside them was the first of his red regiments of the line, forty two in strength and proudly flying the red banner that they had earned with their own blood. Their heavy bladed spears were thrust into the air, some still besmeared with the blood of those they had killed only days before.

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In the rear (where else could they be for a parade such as this) was his 60 strong horde of slaves. With the mine fully supplied with manthing prisoners of war, there was no reason these skaven prisoners, taken during squabbles in the underworld tunnels, should not be used for battle. Strength in numbers, thought the warlord as he looked them over, let them pour over the foe and press against them so heavily that even without any particular loyalty to him they would still prevail.

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At the front stood his magic users, the warlock engineers and Grey Seers, along with his bravest chieftain who carried the army standard. Surely, with these in his ranks, his army could bend the winds of magic to their own purpose and pour deadly spells by the dozen in wave after wave at the enemy?

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Yes, from left…

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…to right ..

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… Scabscar reckoned that now victory would be inevitable. Let them come, he thought, let them come charging right at us.

We are ready.

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(This I had to do, if only to see 'where I was up to' with my painting! It makes me think now that I probably ought to think of a way to get this army involved in my current campaign.
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Post Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:41 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

What follows gives you an idea of the sort of thing that is involved when one takes a position of responsibility within a faction. While my Caliph was temporarily in command, these are the sort of letters I was drafting, getting advice on, and sending out to figureheads and other factions ...

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General Skulltaka

I speak for the AIF in King Ladislao's stead, while he recovers from a bout of sickness. Please consider me as good a friend as the king, and ready to follow the lead he has taken in his words with you fully.

We were pleased to hear that you believe we might be able to help each other out regarding the 'Protectorate problem'. We want Evette's army to look bad, if only because that's what they are. They are snooty, yes, and think they're better than arabs and ogres, and probably everyone else too. So yes, please let's continue help each other out. We offer you 5 spoils so that you might continue your fight against the forces arrayed against you, to right wrongs and look after your own. If you see fit to repay us by taking war to the Protectorate, then we would be grateful. But our gift is given as a sign of continued friendship, to do with as you will, and to aid in the defence of your haven.

If it should prove necessary, and the forces against you become overwhelming, know that we would attempt to provide an escape route for you via the underground or perhaps through Magrittan territory. You have an ally in us.

Caliph Nur-al Rhadi, temporary Captain General of the AIF

5 spoils (food, again) to Skulltaka.

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The Caliph words delivered to the representative from the rebel group named the 'Red Lions' ...

I heard an account of your words to our king, and I was gladdened by them. We toss gold around for such is necessary in time of war. But know that we are in now way indifferent to the injustice of the downtrodden, the enslaved. We might be somewhat 'stern' with captured enemies, looting enemy soldiers who have treated the populace cruelly, but that is simply to balance the terrible crimes they have committed, to gain retribution. When it come to truly hateful 'nobility' and miss-applied 'chivalry' then yes, you are right, Bretonnia is the vilest and worst offender. Their arrogance and vanity is hard to swallow, their carelessness of the lives of hard working labourers moreso.

But I also heard of your words against us, how us Arabyans have made our way in the world. Judge us not by our past, but by what we try to do here. All nations and peoples have episodes in their past they are not proud of. Yes, we hate the Protectorate for many reasons, some that you do not share, but you can use our hatred, our support because of it, to help your cause. We want for trade, fair trade and not the miserable illusion of trade that Bretonnians offer. We aim not to be simply a 'mighty force for good' as you said, but also a force for fair pay and fair trade, and yes, we would dearly love to advertise to all and sundry the injustice upon which the Bretonnian war machine is built. We seek our own goals, yes, but those goals include fair trade, and that works better when all thrive, masters and merchants, servants, labourers and craftsmen.

What say you, will you take our gold for your own use, as you see fit? If you will, will you also tell us what sort of society you would establish in Estalia, so that we might understand you better, know your goals, and most importantly know best how to assist you. We have no desire to offend you, nor to thwart you.

And if you continue your brave fight against the Bretonni, then perhaps we can help? If you would tell us where your forces are concentrated, we could send further aid in the form of messengers and skilled warriors, and if possible perhaps even armies! If you will not tell us, we are not offended at all, but still offer the gold freely.

Caliph Nur-al Rhadi, temporary Captain General of the AIF

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Capitan De Livio,

Our noble leader, King Ladislao Di Lucci, is currently suffering from a minor incapacity which he will no doubt, considering his strong constitution, recover from shortly. In the meantime I have been ordered to act upon his behalf as commander of the forces of the AIF.

I was glad to receive your words of wisdom regarding the Murosians. Yes, we too recognise they are not to be trusted, and it pleases us to know that you see this also. Known that even though we feel a righteous anger concerning their past treacheries, we too understand that they are not the true foe, nor the real threat to Estalia. Please rest assured. We have plans afoot right now not to help them, but to better watch them and prod them into doing what they should do, which is face up to their responsibilities to fight against the evil foes that beset Estalia. These plans involve mercenary elements and will in no way lessen our ability to aid you against the true foes.

You once told us that your weakness was your Navy, and asked us to send what ships we could to support you at sea against the Orcs. This we willingly did, and as a consequence we have gained control of vast expanses of sea, almost all the sea to the south of your domain. This we have happily done in the hope that it will be accessible to all law abiding traders to enrich Estalia in the future. Now we want to know what we can do next to best serve you against the greenskin threat. We now ask what your intentions are in the east - what do you intend to do next? Once we know this, we can coordinate our activities to ensure the maximum harm to the foe.

We may remain at sea and so continue to defend the Magrittan coast, perhaps taking the remaining sea regions. But we may choose to make an amphibious assault, perhaps on Almagora itself (in concert with your forces) or on the Javea Region, to prevent further encroachment by the greenskins. We aim to do whatever will most cripple the foe.

There is also the pressing matter of our possible use of Cerebros to send forces towards Durango. You suggested to us that we might move upon that place in order to deliver a surprise attack on the Protectorate. I see your wisdom here, and your strategic skill. If we were to commit to fighting on that front we would need to be able to move through your Magrittan lands without penalty, as you so wisely suggested you would allow this, even offering supplies (for a cost) should the need arise. But you earlier expressed your happiness to cede control of Cerebros and san Cerebros to us so that we might take the war even more effectively towards Durango, as well as act as a buffer to the northern regions of your realm? You stated you had no love for the elves and would support us in such a move, knowing we fight for Estalia’s happiness. Which is your decision? Occupation or passage? The former would allow our soldiers to fight more bravely and confidently, though the latter might allow them to move with much more surprise and thus catch the Protectorate off guard.

I turn now to Belmoz. With your forces stretched in the brave defence of your realm it would seem remiss of us not to offer assistance dealing with Belmoz. It is a hub of the ignoble slave trade, and while it may be a fact of life that such a trade exists, it seems to us it would be a great philip to the good name and reputation of the AIF if we could bring it to heel in that town. Not to mention we would both benefit from a good sized port town in that place. We have troops close to hand to take it, who would then be able to head to sea in further support of the conflict of the war against the Orcs. Would you be willing to allow us to take Belmoz and so disband that hateful practise, throw all slave traders from the city, and thus grant us the strategic flexibility and security we crave?

Your most loyal servant

Caliph Nur-al Rhadi

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And these were drafted whilst also 9 pages of discussion about the orders for the next turn took place, plus all the other threads in our faction forum about a bunch of other stuff. It's crazy when you think about it. Still, thought it would be interesting to reveal the depths to which one could immerse oneself and others in these campaigns. And yes, I know none of the names (etc) in the above letters will mean anything who is reading this thread about Scabscar, but this thread, apart from this post, is Scabscar's story.
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Post Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:44 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Note: Suddenly my faction were entering into a very favourable (for us) deal with the Murosians, in which they basically allowed themselves to be governed by us in return for our military alliance and protection. It was a sad state of affairs for them, but one which would ultimately lead to our faction winning the campaign so was a very good deal for us. The only trouble was that my Warlord Scabscar had a LOT of Murosian PoWs slaving in awful conditions in his new mines - as showed in the previous fluff pieces. Thus it was that, as part of an exchange agreement quite contrary to usual skaven practise, Scabscar had to give as many prisoners back as he could, so that our faction did not appear to have killed vast numbers of captured Murosians. Oh, and so the non-skaven members of our faction, most of whom were a bit hazy about what exactly had been going on, might not be terribly offended ....

An Exchange: Part One

“This is no idle-ordinary inspection,” explained overseer Gragyt. “This is important. The work-slaves will be numbered, their condition written-recorded with their names and their homes. All will be written in manthing letter-words.”

The clerks nodded, signalling an understanding they did not really possess. They knew what they must do, but not why they must do it. Both bit their tongues for their first response, had they been free to speak their mind, would have been to curse the slaves and ask why such creatures need be listed in such a way. Surely the slaves were here to work until they die? Their only worth was to labour, finally to be replaced by others when they perished from their toil? They were like mere rats to be driven and whipped into line. But the clerks said none of this.

Then they were really surprised, for the overseer, a skaven who had until now avoided having to smell the slaves’ stench, added, “And I will inspect the slaves. This, this I will do now. Now!”

He was taken first to one of the mine tunnels, where the best of the work-stock were hewing walls and breaking rocks to delve ever deeper into the earth.

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He did not move close to them, but stood watching a while. “They are strong-healthy, I see that. They work well.”

One of the clerks took the comment to be question. “Yes, chief-overseer, good workers, the best. We work them hard.”

Gragyt scowled. Turning upon the clerk he fixed him with a stare. In a calm voice he said slowly and clearly. “They will work no more. Not one day, not one hour, not one minute. All labour ceases, immediately, and the listing will begin. You, you will start here and now.”

The clerk bowed and kept his eyes down as the overseer spun about and left the tunnel. Gragyt's voice boomed around the tunnel as he continued with his instructions, “Now I will see the pens. Take me there.”

Little more than a quarter of a hour later Gragyt had arrived in the third chamber he was to inspect. He had long grown impatient with this duty, his nose assailed by one vile stink after another, but he had no choice. He had to know that the slaves would not look too wretched when they were brought from the mine. Thank the gods that he had always made sure they were fed, and allowed to sleep between their work-shifts. What had seemed to him financial common sense, now might save Warlord Scabscar from much embarrassment.

Here, like the others, he found several caged off areas. In one were the heavy workers. They must have known something new was occurring here, for they had pulled themselves to their feet and were now staring at him through the bars.

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He hissed as he noticed those who clung to the bars, barely able to stand, and the others who were injured, arms slung in bandages. Still, he thought, if they could get to their feet then there was hope for their recovery. Moving on he saw a smaller cage containing (perhaps appropriately?) smaller workers. This brought his scowl back. “What are these?” he growled.

“The smaller workers, chief-overseer. We treat them kind, see, and put them here so that they are not killed and eaten by the bigger ones.”

“What?” said Gragyt in disbelief. “What? They are children. I was never told. We took warriors, yes? We took all who resisted. Not young ones.”

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The clerk was silent. He knew full well that these little ones had resisted, though it had not previously occurred to him that they were litter-cubs. He knew also that to speak now, to say anything whatsoever, would only provoke Gragyt’s further wrath. Silence did indeed prove the best policy, for the overseer now began to walk from the chamber, his verbal instructions turning to other business as if he had already forgotten what he had seen. Behind the Murosians watched the party leave, each one wondering what all the chattering and squealing had been about; most believing that it could not bode well.

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They were wrong. For within a day they would be above ground again, chained in groups of six or seven, and heading towards home. Such was the strange and unexpected nature of war!

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An Exchange: Part Two

Chief Overseer Cragyt watched as this the eleventh bunch of slaves staggered past him in their chains. A motley collection, he thought. Manthings obviously came in all shapes and sizes, something he had never really noticed before. Perhaps he had not cared to notice? Suddenly it crossed his mind that here lay an opportunity to test the clerk standing by his side, to ascertain if the records that had been made would prove satisfactory when it came to exchanging these slaves for fair and suitable alternatives.

“You, clerk-rat, look in your ledger-book. Tell-tell me who these are, what these are.” At first the clerk looked confused, so Cragyt decided to be kind and give the runt some advice: “Start with the first one, and work your way back.”

In theory this should be very possible for the clerk, for every batch of chained slaves had been listed so that the bargaining could proceed all the easier, six or seven slaves at a time. Specific assigned guards were held responsible for any careless or needless losses incurred on the march, which meant the clerk could glance at the lead guard assigned to this particular group to see who it was, then run his fingertip down a page to see which batch had been assigned to that guard, and finally flip the pages of the ledger to find that batch. So far, so easy. Now, however, came the hard part, for there was a list of six names with notes appended to each. But which names belonged to which of the slaves the clerk really did not know. He would have to guess and hope that Cragyt was convinced. Studying the first pair in the line, he quickly skimmed the notes, and began.

“Ahh, your honour, the first. Yes? In blue … unsteady on his feet? Yes, here he is. Certainly this is him, without a doubt. ‘Babiaca Ozunna, manservant. Blind in one eye.’

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Cragyt hissed at this last comment, for the guards had been told to get 'rid of' the more obviously harmed slaves before they were listed and put in chains, lest the Murosian dealers began complaining about mistreatment and cruelty. The clerk understood, and quickly added, “Oh, overseer, his hurt-harm was not done by us. He came like that - the wound-scar is old.”

“Good, good. The next?”

Once again the clerk attempted to cross-reference the slave with the manthing words recorded in the book, slowed in his efforts by the annoying fact that the clerks had been ordered not to use skaven text. “Here, here she is. Yes. She’s Graciela Pineda, a maid who refused to lose-leave her soldier husband when …”

“What?” snarled Cragyt. “You say that is female?” Even with his deliberately limited contact with the manthings in his care he thought there was something wrong here.

The clerk almost dropped the book in fear, then quickly re-composed himself. “Ah, see, sorry-truly sorry I am. It was a mistake, my finger slipped, I read-spoke the wrong entry. Here it is now. He, yes he, is Roque Gamboa, soldier. He carried a spear in battle, and is strong. Yes. Look, look how he pulls and lifts at the chain.”

“I care not a jot about your opinions, clerk-scribe,” said Cragyt. Just read the book.

Gulping, the clerk looked up at the next three, and decided quickly from their facial hair that none were female, though even he knew that with these Murosian slaves that was not a certainty.

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Yes, yes - these next three were captured together, and work-toiled together since. The first two serve-obey the last. He is Captain Fernando Cortez, son of Rodriguez de Monroy, and will fetch a good price in exchange. He is surely-certainly worth more than all the rest in this batch put together. Rich clothes were taken from him, armour and fine blade. The other two are his guard and his horse-servant, Guimar Vargas and Raymundo Delval.”

A nobleman! This caught Cragyt’s interest, and he held up his hand to hush the clerk while he looked at the manthing in question. He walked tall, proud, as did even his servants. Perhaps Manthings did not beat their servants as Skaven did? He had huge black furry whiskers hanging limp down beside his fangless mouth. The others also had such hair upon their face, the soldier apparently mimicking his master’s fashion, the servant having gone too far in his impersonation, with a great mass of hair completely surrounding his face. Interesting, thought Cragyt. All the workers in the mines had been hairy around their mouths, but they had only yesterday been allowed to hack off the hairs in question so that they might appear a little more like they did when they were first captured. Perhaps the captain did not trust his servant and would not let him hold the razor? Stupid, thought Cragyt - that’s why servants must be beaten. If not: disobedience, disrespect, dismay.

The sight of the last slave took Cragyt by surprise, for the creature was little like those ahead. The manthing had locked hair twisted into knots, and one arm bloated and heavy in the way rat ogres were often asymmetrically malformed.

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The clerk seemed more confident as he read from his book this time. “The last is Graciela Pineda, a maid who refused to lose-leave her soldier husband when …”

“Yes! I know that,” shouted Cragyt. “You need not read it again.” Then, reigning in his frustration, he added a little more calmly, “So that is a female?”

The clerk was right this time to consider this a question, and was quick to answer. “Yes, female. The dealers will be glad to have her, for manthings dote upon their females, pet them, clothe them, listen to them sing, watch them dance. They will be pleased to have her, she is desirable in their eyes. She is a good specimen. Yes.”

Cragyt could not see it, but he decided he would have to take the clerk’s word on it. Perhaps with captains and females amongst the slaves, the exchange would indeed go well? Perhaps more slaves would be received than given? That would be nice.
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Post Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:45 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

This is the last post for this campaign, and it's a long one. It was put together in secret (i.e. not made public to the other factions even after the events described) due to the fact that it concerned secret negotiations with the Skaven factions (with a character run by 'Dark Lord Nihilus'). The negotiations were still ongoing as the campaign ended, thus the abrupt end. I have included Dark Lord Nihilus' text in quotes otherwise this piece really wouldn't work!

These negotiations and the (very beneficial to us) agreement/pact we made with the Murosian faction, were all part of us consolidating our position so that we would look like we had made great progress throughout the campaign.


Speak-talk

The tension was becoming unbearable, a weight of concern pressing in on Crikfoot’s mind so heavily that it almost blurred his vision - thus it was that he had ordered one of the lantern bearers to hold his burden above his head to better light the way. Strangely, however, his other senses were heightened, turning every tiny sound into a component part in a crystal clear yet cacophonous collection of noise, and weaving a layered confection of odours out of every breeze.

He was so close to them now, the signs were all around. Clan Skarr’s warriors had been here within the last hour, and had been here many times before. Crikfoot knew he must keep his wits about him. Yes, he might well be an entirely legitimate emissary from Warlord Scabscar in his capacity a diplomat to Clan Skarr, but this did not mean that he would be recognised as such upon sight, nor treated with the respect he surely deserved. It was entirely possible that any patrols he encountered would simply decide to play safe, assume he and his companions were trouble, and cut them down immediately. The trick was to act quickly and calmly in the first moment of any encounter, show that he presented no threat, yet at the same time that he was not some foolish stray ripe for murder and robbery. A balancing act indeed. Hopefully having a lantern illuminating him as he walked would advertise to every watcher that he was not in any way trying to creep up on anyone!

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Then the moment came, and Crikfoot thanked the gods that he was ready. Better still, it was he who had the initiative, for the warrior who suddenly appeared before them seemed to be acting upon the assumption that they were a Clan Skarr party who blundered somewhere they were not supposed to go.

“What, what are you idiot-fools doing here? This place is forbidden to … is forbidden to …”

The guard’s words faltered then stopped, and Crikfoot hurriedly began his prepared speech. “Do not fear. We are not here to fight-kill, but talk-talk. We are sent to speak with Grey Seer Skabrius. I am an emissary of the great-warlord Scabscar.”

Dark Lord Nihilus wrote: “Warlord Scabscar….?”, the guard ground his teeth in thought. “Warlord Sca-“ his eyes gleamed red, a flash of recognition. He bared his fangs and raised his weapon, “Traitor-scum! Your master-master is a tick-licking mouse! He fight-fights for man-things. He is a man-thing pet-pet. How dare-dare you come here-here! We are-are-“. He whipped his head around, growling as another skaven approached. This one looked like a messenger. He was breathless but still managed to scowl in the direction of Crikfoot before whispering animatedly with the guard.

Growling, the guard-rat turned back to Crikfoot and glared as he spoke, “You will come-follow, traitor-meat.” He took out a strip of cloth and tossed it to Crikfoot. “Blind-blindfolded,” he smiled maliciously. “You will be taken-brought to diplo-rat that speaks-squeaks with the voice of the Supreme Warlord.”

“Quick-fast! Much-much does diplo-rat have to speak-squeak and little-little time…”


Crikfoot could not really have expected any different treatment. To be honest, he was glad to be alive, and the fact that he was being taken to a skaven who could speak for Clan Skarr was an added bonus. They had indeed blindfolded him with a heavy cloth, and had refused to allow all but one of his companions to go any further. The only one who did come with him, in an act that was perhaps done to mock Crikfoot, was his lantern bearer. The young skaven in question seemed keen to come along, perhaps thinking it was safer to stay with the official emissary than with a small party of leaderless guards at the border of an enemy territory. Crikfoot had however noticed that the Clan Skarr warrior had not blindfolded the servant. He had not the inclination to tell the fellow exactly what that meant - Crikfoot, if he was to return, would surely be doing so alone!

The journey took some time, not helped by the fact that Crikfoot stumbled and fell upon several occasions. The lantern bearer did what he could to keep him on a firm footing, but the escorting guards did not seem to care whether they took a route suitable for a blinded skaven.

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Finally he reached his destination. The blindfold was removed and he found himself in the presence of a well-guarded and richly attired skaven. Crikfoot thought to ascertain his status (and safety) quickly, and began his own speech before the diplomat could speak. He did not even take in his surroundings, but rushed on with his words. “I speak for Warlord Scabscar, yes? I am his mouthpiece. Yes, he has allied with manthings, because this makes him strong-powerful. Clan Scabscar is growing mighty. He has profit-gold enough to make his army strong. This is clever. This is bold.”

Silence.

“We are not traitors," Crikfoot continued, "but ally-work with those who best serve our need-interest. You see us how you see us, yes, but you know also that you must dwell-prosper alongside all those in the wide-world who cannot be defeated-killed. Time will come, say all skaven, our time will come. Not yet, not now, though, for there are armies uncountable and we are not yet strong-mighty enough.”

The diplomat was beginning to frown, surely wondering what the point to this babbling was. Crikfoot decided he must be a little more succinct and came now to the point he really wanted to make. “So as Warlord Scabscar has made allies to bring him plunder-victories, so the army of the Arabyan Intervention has made allies. Strength on strength, kingdom aside kingdom, armies flanking armies with armies in reserve. Yes?”

The diplomat seemed to understand. Crikfoot had only one more thing to add before the real talking began. “I am a mouthpiece of all this strength. To hurt-harm me is to scratch at a giant’s tongue; to ignore me is to stand dumb-silent before the giant.”

Dark Lord Nihilus wrote: Thirteen tunnels connected to this chamber, proof of its importance. Crikfoot, the lantern bearer, the Clan Skarr ambassador and a small cadre of guard-rats stood in the center of the chamber on a raised platform that separated them from the pandemonium below. Aides, slaves, and messengers swarmed the connecting tunnels and the surrounding chamber. The platform was cordoned off by the ramshackle series of desks. Scribes alternated between furiously penning missives and reading in-coming messages. Those of particular importance were stacked in a surprisingly neat pile on the platform, designated for the ambassador's personal attention. The others were simply tossed indiscriminately. Parchment lined the chamber floor as discarded messages were shredded and trampled by foot traffic.

Stormvermin, heavily armored and wielding halberds, leaned against the chamber walls. They growled and shunted aside any skaven that pressed too close.

Crikfoot took this all in as he awaited the ambassador's reply. "You speak-squeak empty threats." The skaven's voice was refined and confident. This was no backward clanrat only accustomed to obeying orders. He was controlled in movement, as if deliberately resisting his race's tendency towards jerky mannerisms, and his features were composed. "Your master-warlord and his allies have done us a grave insult." He tilted his head in a strangely human gesture and peered at Crikfoot intently. "What does the traitor-scum seek with Clan Skarr? It is known-apparent that your allegiance lies with the man-things, not the Supreme Warlord. So tell me, squeak-speak, why are you here?"


(Author's Note: I now had a challenge - to create a diorama to represent the description Dark Lord Nihilus had given. See below to discover if I managed it!)

Crikfoot found the huge, busy cavern somewhat overwhelming, though he put this down to having been blindfolded for so long. As the Skarr ambassador had spoken he had glanced furtively around - an action that was so natural to Skaven that it did not in any way rile the ambassador. He knew Crikfoot was listening, and he was sufficiently riled already.

His guard had the tip of his blade touching Crikfoot’s arm pit, presumably ready in an instant to shove through (thus avoiding the armour) to grievously wound Crikfoot should he attempt anything. But looking around was not a threatening gesture, so Crikfoot began to take in the details.

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Braziers burned at the corners of the platform, possibly to ensure that the chamber remained warm and dry, to better preserve the copious parchments and vellums it contained. An impressive, heavy tome lay upon a small, round table by the grand chair the ambassador had just vacated to address Crikfoot. It looked important, but Crikfoot could not make out any of the words revealed upon the open page. Glancing to one side he could see past the halberd tips of the platform guards to where two skaven where engaged in scholarly work. One held a book up and was ranting at full pelt while the other studiously ignored him to peer intently at a long parchment containing some sort of list.

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Upon the other side were more tables, even more clerks and scribes, and a great many more scrolls and parchments. Yet although he could see all this, it did not benefit him. There was no doubt in his mind that unless he were left alone and undisturbed to search at whim through this chamber for hours his eyes would be unlikely to settle upon anything of great import and worthy of his master’s attention.

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So he turned his full attention back to the ambassador just as his words came to an end.

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The ambassador was pointing an accusative finger right at him, awaiting an answer to his last question. Crikfoot grinned. “I am Chieftain Crikfoot of the Scabscar foremost. I am here because we received word-messages. Question-queries were asked by skaven who serve clan Skarr. Help was offered. Our affairs were asked about. I have come to listen-hear to those questions from one in authority, so that we know it is truly-fully Clan Skarr who asks them. I am here to answer-speak.”

The ambassador looked bemused. “So, it is not I who is to speak-talk beyond meeting-introductions. It is you I have come to hear!”

Out Of Character note to Dark Lord Nihilus player: This is the note I received: "Grey Seer Skabrius wrote: Poke. Informal message. Just want know if there's an alliance in the making between you and Magritta. Skaven could help." And now Crikfoot has come to turn this enquiry into IC conversation. So … your turn! Please feel free to turn Skabrius query into an IC question.

Dark Lord Nihilus wrote: "Aid-help you?!", the ambassador snarled. His composed countenance was suddenly contorted with rage. Eyes simmering with hate, fangs bared, and muscles tensed, the ambassador looked as if he were about to strangle Crikfoot in a fit of fury. The guard-rats took a tentative step back and a hush fell over the nearest scribes. The musk of fear was heavy in the air.

With a deep breath the ambassador forced himself back into control, composing himself and affecting a malice tinged smile. "Yes-yes, we may have considered helping you, even overlooking-ignoring your attacks upon our underground-burrows, but no-no longer." The ambassador's smile broadened. "We know-know now the power of the artifact, such terrible, raw power!" He was nearly salivating at the thought of such arcane might, his eyes misting over as his thoughts were drawn to what he could do if he wielded such a super-weapon. Shaking his head to dispel such treacherous thoughts, the ambassador fixed Crikfoot with a glare. "Clan Skarr has no need-need to grovel-beg to you and your dung-eating masters. No-no, Clan Skarr has the artifact and with the artifact we can make you suffer, suffer for the pain-loss you have caused us."

A twinkle of amusement came to the ambassador's eyes, "It is you-you that must grovel-beg. Tell-squeak what you will do for Clan Skarr so that Clan Skarr will not-not strike-smite you with the power of the almighty artifact," his words had lost all of their refined veneer, now they were little more than chittering. "Speak-squeak fast-quick, fool-thing, or suffer-suffer!", his chittering laughter echoed off of the cavern walls, causing many of the frenzied skaven to pause in sudden fright.

OOC: I love you dioramas, they are superb


(Author's Note: I was going to answer thus: "We have power too, great power. Clan Scabscar has ingenious and deadly engines of war, and the AIF has strength in the north, west and south; allies all around. There is no one spot you can critically injure us. We are, like I said before, a giant, and even your mightiest weapon could only bruise or scratch. Beware of making threats. I came here to negotiate, to give you the chance not to incur our wrath or find yourselves in a war with us. Why would you, when asked what it is you offered before, why would you immediately threaten. Is this posturing? Is this vainglorious boasting? Do you mask weakness with your threats? If you were truly strong you would know how to use negotiations such as these to your advantage. Give and take. We both benefit. Until now we have only used a tunnel here and a tunnel there to take the war to our foes. Not to take it against you. We have no urge to do so. Surely you have enough to keep you occupied without turning on those who would do you no harm if you would only do likewise. The messengers we received said that Skabrius wished to know of our alliances. That we wanted to help us in some way. Do you now say they were wrong? Was Skabrius, your diplomat, lying? Or do his servants twist his words?" BUT our glorious leader thought it a bit aggressive, so it morphed into this rather more timid response ...)

Crikfoot fought hard to conceal his flinch. He failed to hide it completely, but disguised it a little by turning it into a humble bow. Thankfully, his words did come quick … “We did not know you had power, great power. Clan Scabscar also has ingenious, deadly engines of war, and the Arabyan Intervention has strong-strength in the north, west and south; allies all about and around. But you talk of something more, yes? Something bigger, better, badder? Perhaps it is we who stand before the giant? What, I beg of you, humbled, what have you made? Tell us so that we shall know all the better what to fear. Tell us that we might know what you can bring to bear on those you fight-kill. Tell me that I might convince my doubting masters that you speak the real-truth.”

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The ambassador did not look like he was going to answer easily, so Crikfoot spoke on in haste. “I do not want you to believe-think we are making threats. I came here to talk-negotiate, to give us the chance not to incur your hatred-wrath or begin a war between us. Why would we? I come not to posture before you, nor to vainglorious boast. We have strength, but no clan can beat every and all other clans at once. We are truly strong because we know how to use negotiations such as these to our advantage. Give and take. Yes? Both benefit. Until now we have only used a tunnel here and a tunnel there to take the war to our hated foes. Not to make war against you. We have no desire-urge to do so. The messengers we received said that Skabrius wished to know of our alliances; that he may want to help us in some way. I come here to see if this might be done. Help both ways. Yes, yes? We can aid you in your fight against the accursed Protectorate. We can join your plans to harm them, kill them, beat them down and drive them out. We will eager-happily help you defeat them, share the captured slaves with you. You are mighty, but you can be mightier still if you allow us to share your fight, share your burden. We hate the Bretonni. Know this about us and you will know you have an ally to make you mightier still.”

Dark Lord Nihilus wrote: The ambassador cocked his head and peered at Crikfoot warily before a slow smile crept across his face. It was the smile of a predator gazing at hapless prey. Without removing his eyes from Crikfoot, he hissed and snapped his fingers in the direction of a quivering aide. The skaven tried and failed to suppress the musk of fear and visible shook as he handed a surprising immaculate sheet of parchment to the ambassador before racing back to his shadowy corner. The rolled up sheaf of parchment had the broken seal of the Protectorate. Crikfoot’s eyes widened and darted back up to the face of the ambassador. The diplo-rat’s eyes had never left Crikfoot. His smile only widened.

“You recognize this, yes-yes,” there was no question in his words. He flicked a talon, needlessly, at the seal. The tension was apparent even to the crazed scribes, who paused comically in their antics to glance over questioningly, a hint of fear in their eyes, at the confrontation.

“The Arab-things have broken-shattered the treaty they shared with Clan Skarr. It is true, we would rather be friends-allies and have trust restored between our two great forces”, he stretched out his paws in an empty gesture of helplessness. “Clan Skarr was not the one that broke trust-faith, it was your Arabyan Intervention Force and it is they that need to restore-rebuild trust.” He shrugged, another disconcertingly human gesture. “Clan Skarr still welcomes-smiles upon an alliance, but until the Arab-things and their allies demonstrate that they are trustworthy and committed…”, the ambassador trailed off, tapping the Protectorate’s seal on the letter he held.

“You can begin-start to do that by removing your troops from the Rooted Cavern. Under-in the terms of our agreement the Arab-things and their allies would not attack our underground warrens-lairs and we would do the same. Remove your troops so that we can reclaim-retake it. Agree-accept this and we will begin-open talks of how we will help each other against our mutual enemies.”


Crikfoot was surprised to hear these demand-requests, though not to see the missive from the Protectorate. Broken trust-faith? He did not understand. Then it dawned on him - this ambassador must not have been told of the words that had passed between Warlord Scabscar and Grey Seer Skabrius. Fumbling in his robe, an action prompting the guards’ increased scrutiny, he withdrew a parchment.

“If you will allow-permit, lord ambassador, I humbly present you this letter. Here-now you see why we did what we did. These are the letter-words of your previous ambassador - the words we took to be the truth."

Crikfoot now read the letter ...

Grey Seer Skabrius wrote: Lord Scabscar, We are aware of your faction's eagerness to combat the Bretonnian threat to the north. I propose an exchange of sorts.

We shall open our supply lines to you, allowing you to march through our territory. Military acces thorugh our land gives you a perfect oppurtunity to strike at the Protectorate. You shall be unseen and swift, crippling those bigoted invaders. We are even prepared to cede Junction 3, should you grant us simmilar acces. Of course, we would offer you compensation for the upkeep of our troops that would be stranded at the Junction. We would not presume to unfairly take adavantage of our allies.

In return, we would ask assistance in region 43A. We know you are no friend of the Elf-things, for their treacherous thorns have stung you as well. They must be stopped here, before their vile influence spreads throughout the land. If you would intervene with good intent, driving out the Elves and leaving its rightful rulers, the Skaven, in place, you would have our gratitude. In addition to military assistance, we would ask that you supply our troops in Junction 3. We will of course pay you in full should you agree to these terms, so that your treasury does not diminsi hdue to foreign troops.

Grey Seer Skabrius


"I bring to your attention in specific-particular the letter-words: 'We are even prepared to cede Junction 3.' We acted upon that, and then awaited further word from you upon how to continue-proceed with our alliance-agreement, the particular details of what you wanted us to do. Words never came, and so here-now I am."

Crikfoot could not tell if the ambassador was convinced by this, though had little doubt that he would least want to appear so. Perhaps he would think the letter a fake? No matter - let Clan Skarr look to their own affairs, question their own chieftains. It was plain that he could not agree to such a thing without informing Scabscar and king Ladislau, gaining their permission, so he continued,

“Alliance is indeed our will-wish. No need for bloody fighting between us. I will carry-take your demands to my warlord and the Arab-things, and I will return with their response. Then you will know it is the honest-truth, and binding. I will press my leaders to do as you wish, to withdraw from the Rooted Cavern, and look towards a beneficial alliance between us. May your enemies, our enemies, die-perish at our hands. With blades combined we might hack-slash and slay all who stand against us.”

He bowed deep, and waited permission to leave. Glancing to his side he could see that the lantern bearer still seemed to have no idea what was about to happen! Clan Skarr was surely not going to let the servant leave when he had seen the way - not just that, but illuminated the whole route.


Then ... the campaign ended. We shall never know if Crikfoot left the cavern alive!
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Post Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:32 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

Noooooooooooooooooooo I need closure I NEED CLOSURE! :x :x :x
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Post Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:51 pm

Re: An Old Campaign #5

I can promise you closure in the Animosity 6 campaign, which I think I am putting up next. But this one - it is hard to continue with writing etc when the thing is over.
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