Chapter 1: Fodder!

Tarner follows behind Modred silently, his mind wandering over the contents of the book. I wonder what secrets it contains? he thinks, having not had the chance to read the book in between the beatings and the work. To tell the truth, the beatings don't bother him too much; He is a robot, after all. Any damage they do can easily be repaired, and his skin is made of steel. And, unlike other races, he simply cuts off the electricity flow to wherever they torture him; No electricity, no nerve impulses, no pain. He did, however, fear electrical torture, for that could potentially short out his circuits, but the drow knew that too and wouldn't go that far. He was useful to them alive.

The Lady Tailen’s chambers prove to be a suite in one of the stalactite towers that rise high above the mass of House Urbasano proper. From within her foyer, you can look down onto the teeming city below through a large, ornately machined glass window. In the near distance, just outside the walls of the House, lies the Platform, the city’s noble district. Though you were just out there—fighting for your very lives outside the gates of House Urbasano—your view of it from here is very different. In the fight, the place felt like an open-plain battlefield. From here, you can behold the actual design—the wide, sparsely populated avenues of the Upper Market, the great flying buttresses of the Spider, and the glittering mass of the Earthmote. It is at once peaceful and serene. Hardly reminiscent of the killing ground you so recently occupied.

Having delivered you, Modred looks around quickly and departs, seeming angry but subdued. If he’d been looking forward to watching one of your mistresses punish you, the sight of Tailen’s rooms—barren of both mistress and anything that might possibly resemble torture equipment—leaves him looking disappointed. With his departure, you’re left alone, cooling your heels in a warmly furnished apartment, resplendent with intricately carved statuary, tightly woven geometric rugs, and softly glowing globes of magic light. As a whole, the place is both Spartan and lavish. Spartan in design and minimalist in furnishing. Lavish in its sheer size and scope and in its view of its surroundings.

The Lady Tailen enters a moment later, accompanied by the shadar-kai librarian Ilvani. Tailen wears a set of simple black combat leathers offset by a rapier with a jeweled hilt. Behind her, Ilvani looks much the same as before, save that she now appears both healthier and more focused.

Tailen looks out over the city below briefly before turning back to you. “I’ll come straight to the point,” she says. “I was pleased with your performance at the gates outside House Macjyata last week, and then pleased again when I learned of your actions in the Macjyata library. It must have taken real courage to stand against soldiers from your own House. But males of my race tend to be arrogant and thoughtless wretches who often need a lesson in discipline. You were, of course, lucky that no one but I found out about what happened, but as far as I am concerned, no one else needs find out… so long as my needs are met.

“So. As you might imagine, the fight with the Macjyatas badly depleted our reserves of common foot—what you might call ‘fodder’. Particularly our kobold ranks. My mother has assigned Nymeria to lead an expedition into the Mortal to replenish our supplies, and I have taken action to ensure that you will be a part of the expedition. What I need are loyal and intelligent agents who can participate fully in the mission and then report back to me. Tell me… have I found such in you?”

Yes, answers Eduardo, not even hesitating for a second after the question is asked. In fact, he almost delivers the answer before the final word has left Tailen's mouth. I do not know of what my erstwhile companions will say, but I offer my harp and sword, such as they are, to your ladyship. He offers a deep, proper courtly bow. I am most honored that you would choose us, and me among them, and are pleased beyond words that we've done such a service as to please you.

He seems almost too eager to take the offer. He straightens up a bit, but, alas, as much as I would love to go with any expedition up to the surface, it seems that I may not do so without some concoction fed to me by your exalted sister. It seems I need it to stay alive, and allegedly, it is hard to get. The bard shrugs, perhaps she will give us enough for whatever journey you have in mind, but I worry . . . what if we are delayed, without whatever this substance is? I do not wish to die such a stupid death. Of course, if you wish it, I will go along, as I must.


Fortune looks surprised at Tailen's sudden offer. 'She has the means to blackmail us, but does not do so directly,' she quickly reasons. 'Or perhaps this is a more indirect blackmailing? Either way, I am impressed. A worthy mistress. I see benefits for all of us.'

"I am willing to serve you," Fortune replies, while making a deep curtsy. "I would, however, prefer that you don't ask anything suicidal of us."

Gruunk Bloodfist
Half-orc Barbarian (Berserker)
Current HP: 39/39 Bloodied: 19
Healing Surges Used: 0/9 (9)
Resources Used:


Mistress Talien always commanded a measure of respect from the half-orc. She was tough, but never like that bastard Modred. Never abusive, and just the right amount of encouragement. And even knowing their shared secret, she doesn't use it for blackmail but instead uses it as a testament to their character. Gruunk straightens and says, "I fight for you. Not because you ask, but me cha-choooose for me."

The half-orc nods firmly, clearly reflecting on the words of the spirit tree. He tries to find a glimmer of honor and a sliver of choice in what's presented to him, although the reality is likely farther from his truth.

”Suicide is for the stupid,” Tailen replies. ”I require only success. Should you fail to succeed, however…” She shrugs. ”Suffice it to say that you would do well to return ‘with your shield or upon it,’ as they say.”

Tailen gestures, and Ilvani comes forth. She looks at Eduardo and nods then produces a small leather wallet. Tailen says, ”Inside, you will find a three-week supply of nightcloves. Ilvani tells me that you might last as along as a week past that if worst comes to worst, though she assures me that you will not enjoy those last days if it does come to that. In any event, I strongly suggest you find your way back here before the month is out…

“Nymeria proposes to lead her expedition into the Shallows above this cavern on the Mortal side of the Veil. Recent rumors have told of a young dragon who’s moved into the area.”
Tailen shakes her head. ”Foolish. An older, more wizened wyrm would know to stay well clear of an area within the purview of the drow. But this one appears to be young and headstrong—over-arrogant, I should imagine—like all of its ilk and comparative youth. In any event, such a creature is a godsend to Nymeria’s mission. It will, no doubt, have already gathered most of the region’s useful fodder into one pre-packaged society. All that remains is to subdue the wyrm itself and replace its leadership.

“And should Nymeria herself also suffer some hurt or… permanent injury… during the mission, well…”
Again Tailen shrugs. “We are, all of us, servants of this House and of my lady mother. We serve the House—its prestige and its long-term interests—as best we can. However, as you can see, such service does not have to be a misery. Consider that during your sojourn.”

Ah . . . says Eduardo, pocketing the Nightcloves with a deft motion practiced over the years as an actor, and it disappears into the folds of his jacket. It seems you have thought of everything, my lady. And a three-weeks supply at that!

The bard shakes his head in wonder, and here I thought such a herb would be difficult to find, it being so rare and all. Perhaps there's some place it can grow even here? He smiles at the shadar-kai woman who handed him the herbs, we should really speak later, both about these wondrous herbs, and about that library. Perhaps we can meet in our own library later?

Gruunk Bloodfist
Half-orc Barbarian (Berserker)
Current HP: 39/39 Bloodied: 19
Healing Surges Used: 0/9 (9)
Resources Used:


A dragon bloodhunt? There is much glory to be earned in that! And a chance to get back at that half-demon bitch? Oh, the spirits do answer my calling! thinks the half-orc.

Gruunk's head furrows in serious thought and he struggles to invoke the words in his mind. The few sentences he strings to together take several seconds. Luckily, Eduardo, who is never as a loss of words, fills the void to avoid an ackward moment of silence. Although the processing of the information is slow, he is quick and perceptive and picks up on the "not so subtle" meaning of her words.

Then he looks seriously and nods. He
per usual
grunts and says, "A dragon...much honor. We crush it...and anybody who get in the way." He pauses considering the words he just spoke and adds again slower, "Aaaanyboooody." He nods affirming he understands.

Tarner stays silent, but nods his confirmation. A dragon's soul is sure to keep the demon satisfied, at least for a while. I wish it did not have to be so, though; It is simply trying to live, but got too close to the drow and thus will be slain. Nymeria, however... Heh. I hope the dragon has not eaten by the time we reach it.


Fortune barely manages to hide her grin at the suggestion of Nymeria's sudden end. 'The mistress proves herself both cunning and resourceful,' she thinks to herself.

"I have a question," she says out loud, "Let us say something... unfortunate should happen to Nymeria. Will she not promptly be resurrected by someone here?"


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